Archive for April, 2012

Checking out what happens when….

April 22, 2012

Spring sets off a bunch of questions about what to plant, what new foods to try, what to look out for, and what really works to keep us healthy. A big discussion on the how to prepare okra erupted at the Pemi Choral rehearsal this week. New director, Rob St. Cyr is clearly an expert on how to best present okra and choristers eagerly added their own tips as well as “yuk” groans from a few singers.

 Bottom line is, we all have our favorites, and there’s no one diet for all of us. Each of us has to figure out what works best for our constitution. And the clearest indicator to guide us is what I call the ‘what happens when’ signal.

 The ‘signal’ went off for me last week when I put a hunk of cheese in my pack for a day hike. Then, instead of returning the remainder, which was in a sandwich bag, to the refrigerator, I absentmindedly tossed that big hunk of gouda into my pack as well. Bottom line, I moved right through that extra cheese after the hike and the next day, my lower legs swelled up in protest. That happens to be my body’s special ‘signal’ that things are just not moving on through. This condition was accompanied by other noisier sounds as well!

 But I have a remedy that has bailed me out many times. When I went home the next day, I cooked up a bowl of creamed kale with a dash of turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garlic to power it up and, voila! 24 hours later, my ankles were back to normal.

 I’m not recommending this foolish dance to readers. I’m fully aware that most of us have bouts of eating too much and some of us just need a good alibi, like putting a chunk of extra cheese in the pack ‘by mistake’ and then feeling entitled to eat it. I shamelessly admit that I’m human and subject to human frailties, despite faithful tapwater consumption..

 Which is why most of us need to pay special attention to the signals our bodies send out if we want to claim our drive to be well. What we eat isn’t nearly as important as what happens AFTER we eat. Cheese is a perfectly good food for me, taken in moderation. If I want to be well, I need to remember what happens when….

 One of the great things about spring is the parade of magical greens that has already begun with asparagus, and is bound to continue when cooking up fiddlehead ferns and stinging nettles, all geared to spring clean our bodies whenever we indulge.



Safe Water Rights

April 16, 2012

Large Dam Hydroelectric power is not clean energy. Hydro Quebec has cost the Crees their homes and livelihood. It has wiped out fish as a food source and the mercury released through flooding behind the dams poisons the remaining fish and those who eat them. Mercury will continue to pollute the water for 20-30 years. All this at a time when many of our ocean fish are suspect, threatening our food source further. There’s nothing clean about any of this.

 For a peek at the extended forecast, check out theHooverdam, which has been in effect for 75 years. So much silt has built up behind the dam, there’s no place to put the silt even if it could be removed.Lake Meadhas evaporated to 40% of its capacity. That’s a standard pattern for large dams. Fresh silt contains nutrients a river needs, nourishes the river and gets flushed out to sea to continue the water cycle. Silt buildup raises salt, mineral, and rotted debris to toxic levels. The Colorado River is drying up and no longer reaches the sea.

 What our grandchildren and their offspring are going to need is drinking water. Allowing HQ to put their power line through will encourage them to put even more dams in theRomaineRiverand evaporate more of earth’s water in their reservoirs.

 And that’s not just Quebec’s problem. It will be our problem as well. HQ is just one of many corporations monkeying  around with our future water supply. There’ll probably be enough water for today’s retired folks but definitely not enough for generations to follow unless we safeguard it.

  Water is our greatest need and it exists in pockets all over the earth, the Northeast being one of them. We may be able to create autonomous communities for energy but water is going to have to be shared, and not in little plastic bottles.

 The scary thing is that many large dams have already done irreparable damage to the environment, are drying up our water supply and continue to ruin the health of our rivers. Some are being dismantled at great financial cost in the hope of restoring river life.

 This issue has nothing to do with “not in my backyard.” The message we need to be sending HQ is “No New Dams.” People can survive with less electricity or even without electricity. No one can survive without water.

Spring change of seasons and viruses

April 16, 2012

As we continue adapting to the change of seasons, clearing out sheds and swapping summer equipment for winter, we usually clear spaces in attics, barns and sheds to reorganize storage. Soon we’ll be rummaging around attics for the trappings of the Season of Light, however we celebrate it.

 Spurts of sorting are happening and, amidst all this, some of us have been dealing with the first round of mice looking for winter quarters. Rodents are typically drawn to our storage spaces. Be aware that rodents are carriers of viruses, some of which are deadly, and if we inhale dust from their saliva, urine or scat that they leave behind, we can contract a virus.

 While some rodents, like the white-footed mouse, have been identified as carriers here in the Northeast, they’re all potential carriers of viruses and bacteria.

 Without going overboard, here are a few things we can do.  To avoid breathing in rodent dust, spray any rodent nests or droppings with a solution of disinfectant or bleach, before attempting to clean up. Wear rubber gloves or cover hands with plastic bags to avoid touching what we clean up, and double bag it for the dump.

 Avoid touching dead rodents or birds. Special attention must be given to children who are often fascinated by dead wildlife and need to be forewarned as they explore the wonders of our area.

 Be aware that most of us normally touch our hands to our faces several times an hour (check it out!) Thus, depending on our attention to hand-washing, we risk inhaling organisms that spell trouble.

 It’s up to all of us to make sure that the flu and whatever other viruses hover around us don’t amount to anything in our area this year. It’s all about applying our New England ingenuity.

Each other includes each ‘other’ in the world!

April 16, 2012

Daily, worldwide accounts of the estimated 1.8 billion people who are still drinking unsafe water include US citizens, not just people in Africa, India and other third world countries. Both our Southwest and Southeast are competing with irrigation, landscaping, and swimming pool draws that compromise our drinking water.

 Here in New England, and especiallyNew Hampshire, abundantly flowing brooks and rivers can easily mesmerize us into thinking that we have an endless supply of water. The reality we need to grasp is that we will be called on to share some of our water with the rest of the world. The question is: will we be able to share our water equitably and avoid the predicted World War III, the Water War?

 Subsidiaries like Poland Spring are gradually draining the aquifers in water-rich pockets of  theUSto sell bottled water at 10,000 times the cost of perfectly safe tap water. By selling us something most of us don’t even need except in emergencies or when traveling in uncertain places, private water companies make huge profits. People trash 75 percent of the bottles; only 25% are recycled.

 Landowners, tricked into selling their land, realize their demise too late.  Lovewell’s Pond inFryeburg, ME is fed by the Ward’s Brook  Aquifer that Poland Spring draws from. The pond is now much lower and covered with green scum (cyanobacteria) since Poland Spring’s pumping station went in. Townspeople worry that their main source for water will dry up.

 Nestlé Waters bought Poland Spring in 1992. Swiss based Nestle owns 72 brands of bottled waters in 38 countries and is the largest food company in the world, according to Tom Bearden, News Hour correspondent. There is something wrong with this equation. Do we want water to be privatized, rather than recognized as a human right?

 Many of us maintain a frenzy of activity in pursuit of the American dream, or just trying to stay connected to others amidst constant new technology updraft. We are often too distracted or exhausted to pay attention to corporateAmerica’s inroads on our basic rights.

 Time to turn a bald eye on our priorities. Safe drinking water will hopefully head the list. Without safe water, there is no life. Water, food, and energy do have a pecking order. Once we have our priorities straight, decisions about pesticides, fertilizers, plumbing, wastewater treatment, GMO seeds, livestock, irrigation, dams, energy, products, …, all fall into place.

 Every ‘other’ person in the world is us. Now to treat us well….