A Book Project

Usually when Treehugger sends me its daily earth-friendly titles, I skim them. Usually they kind of annoy me because they talk about things like “sustainable cars,” earth-friendly businesses, etc. These are oxymorons. In reality, there is no such thing as a sustainable car and I believe that capitalism, in general, is not earth-friendly. However, today there was a pretty interesting topic called “9 Must Read Books on Eating Well.” It was mostly just interesting to me because I was curious to know what books Treehugger would select as important for reading (it’s true that I don’t hold Treehugger in the highest regard, but it lends for good blog rants). I was pleasantly surprised to see many really good books on the list. Books like The 100-mile Diet by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel, who was just here in Saskatoon yesterday, and Where Our Food Comes From by Gary Nabhan.

As I was reading the list, I kept thinking about how I had HEARD so many great things about all of these books, but I have not actually READ them! I have been told by a lot of my friends to read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” especially, but have resisted partially because I’m vegan (although I know he’s not necessarily anti-vegan) and because I have just been procrastinating from reading it. However, I have decided that it would be a great project to work through this list of books.

Lately, I have been on a self-help book kick around relationships and communication. In general, I like to mix my books between fiction and non-fiction. I plan to keep that going, but I think that my next phase of non-fiction will be this list of books. I wonder how long it will take me… and how it will affect what I eat. The only realm of food books that this list is missing, in my opinion, is one on eating raw food.

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In Memory

Today I was feeling sad about my friend when I remembered that I had a tree that I was intending to start soon. I planted it in the biodegradable pot that it came in, in memory of my friend Nic who passed away only a few days ago.

The tree is a Heartnut Tree, the tree of love (also known as juglans ailanthifolia var, cordiformis for all of my scientific friends). It is named that because the nut that the tree produces is in the shape of a heart. I will plant it on the day that I bought this house, the house that Nic helped me to acquire. He was a real estate agent like none other. He offered his truck to move, his lawn mower to deal with the weeds in the back, and his insight about the house. I would trust no one else with such a big decision.

His memory will live on forever in the hearts of every person he touched and in the tree of love.

Another Lost Life

The sudden loss of a someone in my life has become a fairly familiar event. However, it haunts my heart every time anyway. There is no worse feeling than the sinking of the heart as the news of a friend/family member/loved one being no longer in his/her physical body. This seems to be even worse when the death was intentional. There leaves so many questions, thoughts, and wonderment.

“What would have caused them to do this?” Is usually the first question. This is the bargaining part of the grieving process. We look for a reason, an explanation, anything to make sense of the act to have made this occur. To hear of someone going to their favorite place on this earth and end their physical presence on this earth is just so terribly confusing. We remember things that they used to say like, “If I was any better, I’d kill myself.” We think about how a phrase like that is thrown around so carelessly and how it has so much more meaning now. We think about our last encounter with that person and whether he/she seemed “normal” (whatever that means). We cry and cry and cry because we will never have another bear hug from this person again or get another heavily accented phone message that only he can leave. We mourn the loss of a great spirit.

Unfortunately, I have mourned this type of loss on more than one occasion. As someone who suffers from mental illness, I can understand, in a way, what the person was thinking. Generally, it is that there is no other option or solution for whatever problem they are struggling with. There is also a sense that the world is better off without the extra suffering of this human being. Essentially, people with mental illness have a different truth than healthy people. Their truth insists that these statements are true and they feel very true at the time.

This loss has reinforced in me to cherish each and every person that has touched my life, whether it be positive or negative, brief or extended. We all die one day and it’s only the lives that we touch that remain after we are gone (I think I heard that somewhere). Life is so short and precious… we must hold it in our arms, rock it gently, and love it like a mother does her newborn child. We must love each and every single moment of every day. This is where my experiences with death has led me. I thank you, Nic, for reminding me. I will remember you forever. May you rest in piece, comrade.

Never Say Never. Don’t you forget anything?

Today I hung out with a friend who I had not seen since my “never”days. He reminded me of a time in my life when I said “I will never own a car!” I was so adamant about it and believed it to my core. However, here I am almost two years later with a car on my street and I am the sole owner of that hunk of metal.

I felt I had to justify it, both to him and myself. “Well, I have to for work because I need to drive all over the province!” Etc. Etc. We both knew what it was: I was trying to purge my sins… or whatever people who believe in sins do to relieve them of guilt. You’d think I was a recovering Catholic. Nope, I’m just a recovering Activist!

As I was driving home today from work, I was thinking about other things I would “never” do as a granolier-than-thou activist:
I will never own a cell phone.
I will never text!
I will never use a plastic bag.
I will never buy individually packaged foods, even if they ARE vegan!
I will never… umm… I think I’ve run out for now. I’m sure there are more and I will have to re-visit this post and update it. Keep watching!

And yes, I have done all of those things in the past 8 hours. Let this be a lesson to all of you… NEVER EVER say never!

NaNoWriMo Adventures

NaNoWriMo means a lot more than just some random letters thrown together to some people. To some people, it is a little bit of insanity pushed together for one month – the month of November. In the month (the Mo part) of November, writers (the Wri part) from around the world try to put as many words together as they possibly can into a novel (the No part).

I can’t remember where I first heard about NaNoWriMo. I think it just kept coming up in conversation with writing friends I have. So when I looked it up in October and saw that it was a couple of weeks away, I thought “Sure, why not?” Apparently I didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into. For me, NaNoWriMo is about even CONSIDERING the idea of writing a Novel because I have never really thought about it before. My writing, for the most part, has never really gotten past some articles for magazines/newspapers, poetry for my own angst left in my journals, and my online blogging. It is a big step for me to even start putting together something for a novel.

There are people in the world, I am discovering, that take this month very seriously. They update their word counts religiously everyday, join online communities to talk about their plots and blocks they are having, do writing “sprints” in chat rooms, and some of them have even reached their 50,000 word count already and are working on the second set of 50,000 words. As I read my Livejournal Friends list, I am in awe of these people. They are truly dedicated to thier writing, novel, and story. Since this is the 10th year of NaNoWriMo, some of them are veterans of this. I’ve heard of some people not writing in between NaNoWriMos because they get so burned out after November. It is pretty much a given that writing a novel in a month is hard and you have to set aside significant amounts of time and energy to do it.

Last week, I sat down and wrote out one paragraph of something that I just wanted to try out. That was all I could muster. I also don’t have a lot of time and I like to sleep. It seems that writers tend not to sleep very much and/or they have jobs that are conducive to coming to only half awake. For me, I am just too busy to actually keep up to the 2,000 words per day speed. Maybe that’s just an excuse and if I was serious, I would just not have a life for a month while I crank out a novel. Perhaps I will about that for next year’s NaNoWriMo.

All that being said, this weekend I am hoping to do some writing. Like I said, this month is really about me even beginning the process of writing a novel. A good friend of mine, who I consider a writer even if she doesn’t, is much better at stuff like this and we talked about a potential plot. It has been marinating in my head for a few days now and I think I am going to try to put together something so that I, too, can update my word count on the NaNoWriMo website.

P.S. Na=National

Sometimes One Needs to Retreat

Last week I looked at my calendar and discovered that this upcoming weekend is a super duper long weekend. I decided it was the perfect time to take the retreat that I have been talking about doing since August. So I found a cabin in Prince Albert National Park, booked it, and tucked it away.

I don’t have any particular plans for this particular retreat all by myself, but I know I will be in good company. My non-plans include doing whatever I want to do. I have a laptop borrowed to use as I want, I will have books to read, bubble bath materials to make bubble baths, my walking shoes to go on long walks in the wilderness, some empty pages in case I am inspired to write without the use of electric devices, and my trusty companion (ie. my dog) to go on walks with. I will be spending two days doing whatever I feel like doing. The only stipulations is that there will be no television or music. Nope, just me, my thoughts, and nature.

My adventures are not always typical and this one is no different. An adventure is just a frame of mind.