april, you fickle beast, you.
i guess i shouldn’t be one to talk; i have christmas decorations yet on my chandelier and a greenhouse with baby tomatoes reaching for the light 6 feet away.
while you tease me with 76º on the way home from work one afternoon, you drop to 64º within the hour after i happily donned my shorts and tank top.
then after a drenching rain, you drop completely to under freezing so i’m forced to bundle up the next morning for work.
you’re certainly living up to your reputation of april showers, as the next week holds the promise of drops from the sky, which ARE needed here, as 80% of the state is in a drought.
but after months of running on a treadmill, i finally got out of the house for runs, and that’s all i want to do – no going back to the treadmill this season.
but the WIND the WIND the WIND. not only is it maddening overall and a beast to run in, but it stirs up stuff on the ground and gets in my eyes and nose and lungs, and i’m sniffly and snotty and gross.
so i wait: hopes a little quelled; watching for the perennials to pop up; running shoes tapping impatiently; tethered to the 10-day weather outlook.
soon the weather will stabilize into above-freezing nights; the grass will green; my plants will get in the ground; my running shoes will hit pavement.
but until then.
april, you fickle beast, you.
when i got my gazillion metric tons of lard (ok, i exaggerate), i knew i couldn’t use it all – i only make pies a couple times a year, and even then i use half lard, half butter. what to do, what to do.
after a google search, one of the options was to make soap. i decided to give it a try. i found a recipe for lard soap, cold-press method. while cold-press method involves less cooking, it does take longer for the soap to “cure” – almost a month-long wait after actually making the soap, versus a couple days. if i do this again, i’ll probably buy an old crockpot and try the hot-press method.
after some more research on soaps, it turns out that all-lard soap, while moisturizing, is very hard and not very latherific. i decided to add some coconut oil and castor oil to my mixture (castor oil helps with lather; coconut oil helps with softness). the fat:
400 grams of lard
250 grams of coconut oil
50 grams castor oil
80 grams lye (sodium hydroxide)
228 grams distilled water
measure everything out, and use a completely separate container for mixing the lye (apart from your food – i went to goodwill and got a used bowl, pot, and whisk for this endeavor). mix the lye into the water (this is apparently VERY IMPORTANT as every website i visited had in call caps LYE INTO WATER, not WATER INTO LYE). lye is pretty acidic. i wore goggles and latex gloves while i mixed. mix until the water is clear. the lye also gets pretty hot, so while you’re letting that cool down, melt the fats on the stove in your old and busted pot. once they are about the same temperature, although i think my thermometer is wonky and i didn’t have them the same temp, mix the lye solution into the fats.
now you’re supposed to use a stick blender to mix it up, but i thought, eeeeehhhhh, why waste my stick blender attachment? i’ll just whisk it…. yeah….. after about 15 minutes, i got my stick blender out and went to town. it only took another 5 minutes or so to get to the “trace” stage, where if you drizzle it, it’ll leave a trace on the top.
mixed in my lavender and rosemary mix as well as a little lavender oil and purple coloring. pouring it into a bread pan, and now it’s sitting in the basement waiting 1-2 days to turn out and cut before curing.
update to come when it gets turned out!
i am almost finished with the environment chapter in my devil’s syrup book, which has to do with environmentalism. here is an excerpt for this year’s earth day.
I have a philosophy: every day should be earth day. One day a year is not going to convince the world that we need to be doing something to help out the planet. One thing I’m happy my parents deeply ingrained in me was the decency to clean up after my footprint on the planet. My parents are polarized when it comes to most politics, but the one thing they both agree on is conservation and stewardship of the planet. I have no recollection of a time in my life when I didn’t recycle, and it has been that way because I have parents who understand that part of being on this planet is a recognition that we need to keep it in good condition, if not better condition than when we arrived. Unfortunately, as a whole humans are not doing a great job at this philosophy, but as individuals, my parents passed along their awareness early on and more than well enough.
I remember in the Catholic grade school I went to celebrating earth day; it was a big deal. We decorated t-shirts, had poster contests more than once, recited the three Rs (Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!), planted trees, and pledged to turn the lights off when we weren’t using them. Maybe it was the culture of that particular school or it was the time period (the mid-to-late-80s), but I don’t remember as much of a focus on earth day once we moved away and my siblings and I picked up our studies at public school. This isn’t to say my family wasn’t still maintaining stewardship of the earth; it just wasn’t a huge focus in school, where an impressionable young person spends seven hours of the day.
Once I got to college, the tables turned again, and a focus on being green was once again in my educational life. I went to an all-girls’ Catholic college where a focus on easy recycling, reduction of paper usage, and even a major in environmental studies was offered. The Catholic Church, it turns out, has it straight when it comes to the environment. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has actually published a number of statements concerning social justice and climate change. In 1993, an Environmental Justice Program was created to “educate and motivate Catholics to a deeper reverence and respect for God’s creation, and to encourage Catholics to address environmental problems, particularly as they affect poor and vulnerable people.” Social justice and concern for the environment go hand in hand.
(If you are Catholic, or formerly Catholic with hints of guilt, or even if you aren’t anywhere near being Catholic and want to see what Catholics are doing about climate change, you can visit the Catholic Climate Covenant website at http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/. Once there, you can sign up for a newsletter that will keep you up to date on all Catholic statements on climate change and take the St. Francis pledge. As a person of the second variety, I found the site hopeful and enlightening.)
unfortunately, it was snowing today and the day got colder as it went on, so i’m calling this one entering like a lion. the average high for this day is mid 30s. something’s weird here.
just the idea of spring is the only thing i can hold onto right now. get past all the muddy, mucky, melty stage, and just thinking about the little hints of green everywhere…what is that even like anymore? i see pictures, but it’s been too long. all i want to do is smell the earth, see the green, and feel the sun. let go winter; let go.
in like a lion
welcome overstayed, winter
let’s get our green on
first, the RCTC campus is closed tomorrow, so i get a free day! woo!
second, with this cold snap we’re having (we seem to be having quite a few this winter), there is an actual positive side to this: the emerald ash borer might be drastically reduced due to the cold, which your ash trees will be severely grateful for.
i’m hoping the mountain pine beetle that is overtaking the black hills trees, mostly ponderosa pines, and basically killing them will also be affected by this. the last couple times i went out to the hills, i read up on how the bug is spreading throughout the hills, and the only thing that can really stop them is extreme cold – it will kill the larvae. unfortunately, there hadn’t been extremely cold winters in SD in a while; the beetle kept propagating.
The first recorded outbreak in the Black Hills occurred in the late 1890s. An estimated 10 million trees were killed during this outbreak. Approximately five outbreaks have occurred since that time though none has reached the same magnitude. The outbreak in the early 1970s resulted in the loss of more than 440,000 trees. The last outbreak occurred from 1988 to 1992 and resulted in the death of approximately 50,000 trees. Beetle populations are increasing and are expected to continue to increase during the next five years.
i took this picture in 2010 – you can see how some of the trees on the hillside are brown while the others are green. the forest rangers (i would love that job!) have been taking photos of the progression and when you visit mount rushmore and take a tour through the information side of it, you can see the damage the bugs have done to the hills over the last 20 years or so. pretty disturbing, loads of organizations like www.TheToolBoss.com are trying to raise awareness and to prevent the worst.
turns out that once the beetles are in hibernation, they can tolerate temps down to -30. i’m not sure if SD got down to those temps or not, but with -24 predicted here, hopefully SD will get down to those temps at least sometime this winter.
so, while you’re complaining about this arctic front that’s whipping through the midwest, think about the trees that are being salvaged from a bug infestation. i’ll gladly go through some character-building chilliness to help out a few trees! but then that’s the tree-hugger in me 🙂
i had my interview with my cousin tom, which wasn’t so bad! he could talk for hours and hours if you’d let him. one thing it’s hard for me to wrap my head around though is that he and george are severe conservationists, yet severe republicans (more like libertarians, but that’s another story).
when they set up part of their land to be a part of a 15-year lease to pretty much give the land back to nature, they took government money for it. yet, the government needs to keep its fingers out of the regulations. but, if farming went south here, we’d have to import from countries where regulations aren’t held to a certain standard and there is no USDA. i’m so confused!!! *boggle* either you want government or you don’t. can’t have it both ways!
another thing that confuses me is how adamantly pro-land/pro-environment you can be, yet think tree-huggers are the devil (he also had some choice words to say about PETA that I had to agree with – hahah).
i’ve got to call my dad and see what his take is on this and see if he can explain the mindset to me.
i am pissed off at the idea of earth day. maybe it’s because i grew up in a household where recycling, reusing, and composting were second nature, but why aren’t people more aware of what’s happening with the climate and dwindling resources, especially potable water? why do we only allot ONE DAY to awareness of this subject? EVERY DAY should be earth day.
yes, i’m passionate about the environment – if we don’t care for the environment, THAT’S IT. no need to worry about health care, gun control, autism, civil wars, etc., because *poof* we’re goners. part of the reason i’m so passionate about devil’s syrup? look at what monoculture (corn and soybean) farmlands are doing to the earth – erosion and diminishing water tables.
so: one day? not going to cut it. i know people who don’t recycle because they just don’t care – they say one person isn’t going to make or break it, so why should it be them? WHY NOT YOU? – something like this STARTS with one person. one day of the year to focus on the earth is not going to convince these people to start being a little more environmentally conservative. not even a month, a lá black history month or sexual assault awareness month, is going to do it. we need EARTH YEARS, aka, every. single. day.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
lots of news on the MN wolf hunt lately. i wanted to know more.
the first regulated wolf hunt in minnesota just closed the northeast angle’s window due to its quota being reached. the northwest part of the state can still hunt, and from nov. 24-jan. 31, the second season opens to hunting and trapping. there was a lottery of 600 licenses throughout the state – heard on the radio that the majority of those were applied for by people living in the northern half of the state, with very few southerly type wanting to hunt wolves.
there’s been kind of a brouhaha about this in the state, as the wolf population was waning pretty badly mid-1900s. so much so that they were put on the endangered species list in the last half. they were removed from the list just this past january, after quite a long legal battle.
and since it took so long to get wolves off the list, state congress, which had wanted to start a hunt LAST year, shoved a hunt through legislation, and the DNR had to cut down its time for public input and assessment on the matter. which public opponents of the hunt sued over.
during the last 10 years, the wolf population has remained pretty steady at about 3000, and “The fact they remained at that number for so long indicates there maybe isn’t any room for anymore growth.” but the DNR has said that as long as the population remains at or above 1600, they’re good. anything below that and they will seek to start increasing numbers.
hunters are saying they’ve seen declining deer populations, but the DNR says that probably just isn’t true. the deer population in MN in around 1 million, and wolves take down maybe 6000 of them. wolves don’t eat as much as people think they do.
there is a general fear among those who live next to wilderness areas up in northern MN – pet dogs have been killed (mostly because they’re seen as competition) by wolves, and they are getting a little bold as far as how close they’ll come to civilization (walking down a street). but as far as i could see, there haven’t been human attacks or livestock attacks.
as you can tell from my pretty objective statements so far, i’m neither pro nor con on the wolf hunt. although, hunting for wolves is mostly for sport or for their skins, and also to protect livestock. it’s one thing to hunt for food and survival, but for sport is not the best reason to be hunting an animal, even a predator.
well, megan was on a roll with her blogging ideas! and she’s feeling especially guilty about her environmental footprint, i guess, because her second question was, what’s better? cloth or disposable diapers?
is better than anything i could write on the subject. it’s informative, weighs pros and cons, explains the numbers, even extolls the virtues of second-hand baby goods. really, read it. yes. i’ll wait.
what it comes down to is, as long as your laundrying is as efficient as possible (line-drying, efficient washer, etc.), cloth is the way to go. i would go even further and say that even if your ways of doing laundry isn’t that efficient, you’re still keeping stuff out of landfills. landfills aren’t good. the one thing to keep in mind, though, is that it is time consuming and won’t be easy.
on another topic, i have my uhaul reserved for friday pickup, nate and i are signing papers on friday at 1:30, our stuff is in boxes, we’ve done what we can do, and as soon as we’re packed on friday, we will be leaving st. joe for the last time.
🙁 but 🙂
a farewell post to come.
megan wanted to know what effects having kids has on the environment. i told her that i thought i read somewhere that you could have the worst car ever, fly everywhere, etc. etc., and you still wouldn’t have a worse carbon footprint than having a kid. i don’t know how TRUE that is, so i decided to do some research.
(first, i would like you to know that, unlike some political candidates, i think fixing the environment is a top priority. in fact, it’s MY top priority. like hank green said, what good is universal health care if there’s not an earth to live on? [if i could find the video, i would post it, but i cannot find it.])
ok, so i google “carbon footprint and having children” and HOLY CRAP 1 million results.
wading into the fray, what i find most plausible is a study done by statisticians at oregon state university. from my quick read through of the press release, i gleaned some interesting points:
“…the carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of an extra child is almost 20 times more important than some of the other environmentally sensitive practices people might employ their entire lives – things like driving a high mileage car, recycling, or using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.”
“When an individual produces a child – and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future – the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.”
in the US, a child adds about 9,441 metric tons of CO2 to the carbon footprint of a parent, which is 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for an average person (i’m guessing sans child). other countries will have less of an impact since the US is all about consumption – a child born in china will have 1/5th the impact as a child here. (this may change in the future, as china and india are upping their CO2 outputs.)
to top it off, the stats peeps mentioned that this research is relevant to other environmental concerns, such as shortages of potable freshwater consumption.
i don’t know what to tell you parents and parents-to-be. obvs we wouldn’t be here without reproduction, but with 7 billion people on the planet, and populations doing nothing but rising, the probability of the human race dying out is pretty slim.
i go back and forth – on one hand, there are studies like this. environmentally, it would be better to not have kids right now. but then there’s the old “your ancestors were strong enough, smart enough, and attractive enough to get to this point in the universe, and you’re going to choose not to perpetuate your genes?” argument. which makes me feel horrible and like a bad member of humanity.