October Levi

Dinner Time
Dinner Time

This month has been a busy month for the little bug.  We’ve been getting up later, thanks to Peter’s late schedule.  So our days typically look like this:

Levi sleeping at Sauvie Island Farms when we picked out pumpkins.
Levi sleeping at Sauvie Island Farms when we picked out pumpkins.

Levi gets up around 9, and we get out of bed around 9:30 or 10.  He has breakfast of a banana, a handful of Cheerios, and a sippy-cup full of milk.  Then, we play.  Sometimes we watch Baby Einstein’s Baby Bach.  Or we did until a few nights ago when he jammed it in the DVD player, and he has been unofficially grounded from watching his beloved DVD until we can corral his button pushing a bit more.  Interestingly, the desire to watch the DVD has wained.

Levi navigating through the corn maze after he woke up from his nap.
Levi navigating through the corn maze after he woke up from his nap.

Then, it’s nap time where Levi will sleep for an hour and a half to 3 hours.  This means, we often have a late lunch.  Usually lunch comprises one cut up hot dog, some grapes or other fruit, and some type of grain, which could be a slice of bread, part of a muffin, or maybe some more cereal or a leftover pancake.  The afternoon activities vary, but there is always dancing throughout the day.  Levi has many musical toys that either sing or make music in some other way.  Sometimes we’ll go for a walk, and sometimes we’ll go to the park.  Sometimes I’m baking so we just dance.

Levi working on fixing the heater.
Levi working on fixing the heater.

Next it’s dinner time.  Dinner varies from pasta to casseroles to vegetarian dishes to a straight-up meat and potato dish.  We have learned that Levi loves small pasta that he can wrap his fingers around.  He seems to always taste everything.  We even give him a half a piece of garlic toast, which he tastes every time, and every time makes the same surprised look when he realizes how tangy the garlic powder is!  He is still a ferocious meat eater, so when we do have a chicken or beef dish, he will gravitate towards that first.

Levi showing Mommy how to use the computer.
Levi showing Mommy how to use the computer.

After dinner, Peter usually goes to work, and kitchen clean-up begins.  After that, we dance some more, maybe watch Baby Bach, maybe the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.  Usually though, from 7-8, there is much chasing, hiding, and dancing.

The Triple Bottom Line

One aspect of sustainability is something called the Triple Bottom Line. It’s gone by different names such as the three-legged stool concept and the 3 Es. The idea is that you factor the economy, the environment, and social issues on the same or a level playing field, each getting equal weight when being considered for a decision. So, if something doesn’t consider the economic impacts of say an environmentally sound project, it wouldn’t balance by the Triple Bottom Line assessment. The questions we should be asking ourselves, according to this idea, would be: “How does this policy/plan/product impact the environment/people/economy?” If we’re considering outsourcing jobs, for instance, who is being displaced then by lack of a job? How would that benefit those who are losing there jobs? Is there another plan we could use that could balance the economic side while not exploiting the people who get the job done?

A Last Push to Deregulate itemizes some of the recent rules President Bush plans on putting through as his term nears an end.  How does relaxing drinking water standards, for example, impact people and the environment?  Is it a good decision for either?  Would it balance under the Triple Bottom Line assessment?  Does it take into account a longer impact such as health impacts from drinking potentially contaminated water?

No, rules like this do not take a Triple Bottom Line assessment into account. How long will we go before we realize that this type of planning will only serve to harm us? Perhaps the November 4th election will proffer hope or change no matter which party rules this new administration. Perhaps we can see a more complete form of planning for the next 4 to 8 years.

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Taxes

Taxes. Essential for governments to fund essential services – police, fire, etc. My husband and I have felt and received benefits of other services like healthcare when jobs didn’t line up for us. We know what it’s like to live with a tight budget. Sure, it’d be great to buy an espresso everyday and work on building community in my local third place, but we need that money for milk. Likewise, governments, when facing downturns in economies, should work with what they have. We have grown used to just buying new and asking for raises when we should be reducing and reusing first. Conservation should be the first step when approaching a budget shortfall. Likewise, in this day of confusing politics, often when people don’t vote (the 50% who never even register, for example) it’s their way of saying, “NO!” Who has participated in one of these ubiquitous kitchen table conversations with their partner and really pondered over who or what to vote for with no clear or passionate choices? Taking away the double majority clause takes away their silent voice. Vote “No” on Measure 56 to better retain democracy.

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Garage References

Concrete Thinker Website. 2008. www.ConcreteThinker.com

As you drive your nicely cleaned auto up the driveway, think about that hard surface and how it aggravates runoff problems. Or, think about how water cannot percolate naturally into the ground and eventually replenish our soil and groundwater reservoirs. ConcreteThinker.com is a LEED-certified company that introduces homeowners to pervious concrete pavers and something we, the editors, like to think about as ‘daylighting the soil’.
The pavers are ideal for:

  • Residential roads, alleys, driveways
  • Sidewalks and pathways
  • Patios
  • Tennis courts
  • Swimming Pool Decks

Typical flow rate for these pavers is 3-8 gallons per square foot. The company boasts, “pervious concrete can be instrumental in recharging groundwater and reducing storm water runoff.” While you’re thinking about these pavers, Google “pavers” and look at the images – there are some pretty cool options. Also, the Lucky Lab picture in this section use permeable pavers.

Permeable Surfaces and Filter Drains. 2006. Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA). www.ciria.org/suds/permeable_surfaces_and_filter_drains.htm

This quick read offers a how-to guide in creating permeable surfaces. Systematic instructions in an easy-to-grasp format make this a valuable resource.

Eco Car Wash Homepage. www.ecocarwash.com

Eco Car Wash in Portland offers an eco-friendly alternative to washing a vehicle at home in the driveway where it can spill over or burden the capacity of our sewer system. The owners say they use recycled water and biodegradable soap products.  They indicate that while they care strongly about environmental stewardship, they also provide top quality service. The website lists five area locations and discount coupons.

The Oregon Zoo!

Peter & Levi stand in front of the giraffe exhibit.
Peter & Levi stand in front of the giraffe exhibit.

On the second Tuesday of every month, the Oregon Zoo drastically cuts their ticket prices and they charge only $2 per person and $2 per vehicle.  That means a family of three can see the zoo, and drive there, for only $6.  Quite a deal!  A $13.50 savings off the original ticket price.  Peter has wanted to take Levi to the Zoo for months, and we finally got our priorities aligned and made it happen.  Unfortunately, my dear husband works nights, so early birds we are not.  We arrived at the zoo about 12:20pm, and we left around 3:00pm.

Today proved to be an interesting character study as the day wore on.  I’m not sure how to approach this topic delicately, but I will try.  The zoo is much larger than any zoo Peter and I are used to, so with the winding paths, it took some practice orienting ourselves to what we saw and what the map read.  Regardless, we started with the aquatic animals.  We visited the otters and the sea lions, and then moved onto bears and piggybacked to the penguins.  At the otters and sea lions, I was quite impressed with how respectful people were.  (Although, we elected to leave the sea lions when a woman squeaked, “Look at the seals!”)  There was a natural, comfortable wave of people, courteous of others and their surroundings.  No one person stayed at an exhibit too long, especially if there was a crowd growing.  It was as if they (and us) took the cue, “Okay, it’s time to move and and make room for others so everyone can have a turn.”  About the time we were leaving the penguins, the crowd had changed.

The Giraffe
The Giraffe

Now, we found ourselves being crowded out of exhibits.  There were more kids, but also there were more kids running without parental direction.  More kids unaware of their surroundings, and more parents unaware of theirs.  The parents were louder, and a by-product of that were louder children.  We also began noticing the harnesses, or kid-leashes.  Peter was the one who pointed it out.  We saw at least two.  They are fuzzy and disguised as little bear backpacks.

Several years ago, I had a discussion of kid-leashes with a friend.  We were both in agreement that they seemed a cop out for parenting, or a way to fence kids in.  Having Levi has made me rethink the desire for a kid-leash.  I can understand now what could prompt a parent to use one in crowded places where you fear prowling people eying your child.  But, is it just another gadget that we can use to abdicate our responsibilities?

The Zebras
The Zebras

Peter’s answer to that question was yes.  He found the kid-leash a cop out for parenting.  When we had Levi out of his stroller, the rule was he had to hold onto my hand. If he didn’t, he was going to go back in the stroller.  If we were in an uncrowded place, he was allowed to run around, but he had to stay close, which meant we had to monitor him.

Over the time we were at the zoo, strollers gave way to harnesses and unruly parents and children.  We saw that people made more assumptions about the animals and read less about them.  Crowds hoarded more, and they moved less.  There were several times when we were swarmed after enjoying only a few seconds reprieve from the last swarm of people, parents, and preteens.  We were glad for the opportunity to see the zoo on the cheap, but next time we’ll pay the $9.75 per person and go early with the hopes of avoiding the crowds and really paying for the freedom to dawdle without being swarmed.

Levi enjoying an exhibit, perhaps the Duiker.
Levi enjoying an exhibit, perhaps the Duiker.

Sustainable Knowledge

In today’s Oregonian, the headlines rang a different tune. They spoke of hope and frugality instead of fear and another depression. The main headliner, Sure, we want stuff, but do we need it?, interviewed a local woman who runs a blog, Frugal Living. I found this very interesting since Peter & I have been living frugally for months. She is working on getting her budget down to $2,000 a month. So, I checked out her site. She has full disclosure! Talk about accountability! She pares down what she spends, where it goes, the size of her family, and what money is coming in. She describes her desires to live debt-free and her and her husbands goal of owning their own land in 5 years to build their own house. My vote is for Cob, but I haven’t mentioned it to her.

So, on her, site, I sent her a message. Her budget is similar to ours, and we have a similar family size and income. There are gives and takes here in there, but it’s a similar plan. I left her a comment asking her where she shops for food, for I firmly believe knowledge should be shared. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply back just a few hours later.

Several months ago, another sustainabily-inspired mom, was interviewed in the Oregonian. I also wanted to connect with this mom to share ideas on how she did it. Unfortunately, this mom was more interested in getting cash than sharing knowledge, so we have yet to connect.

Sustainability is more than just green building. It’s about building greener lives, inside and out. It’s about shared responsiblity and a desire for change so we can all live in a cleaner, healthier world. One aspect of this is sharing knowledge. No one person has all the answers, we can’t individually. Our world is much too big for one person to understand it all. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to connect with others so we can empower our strengths and recognize our weaknesses. But, to do this, we have to share knowledge. It’s understandable in the ways our economy is structured that one would guard and hold their ideas close to their heart, and in many respects we should lest someone take advantage of that we have worked so hard to cultivate. But, if we are truly looking for a more sustainable society, we must open the door and begin bridging with one another so that a true sustainable bond will be made. Let’s set aside fear and depression and raise up frugality so we will have hope for a greener future.

Sustainable Knowledge

In today’s Oregonian, the headlines rang a different tune. They spoke of hope and frugality instead of fear and another depression.  The main headliner, Sure, we want stuff, but do we need it?, interviewed a local woman who runs a blog, Frugal Living.  I found this very interesting since Peter & I have been living frugally for months.  She is working on getting her budget down to $2,000 a month.  So, I checked out her site.  She has full disclosure!  Talk about accountability!  She pares down what she spends, where it goes, the size of her family, and what money is coming in.  She describes her desires to live debt-free and her and her husbands goal of owning their own land in 5 years to build their own house.  My vote is for Cob, but I haven’t mentioned it to her.

So, on her, site, I sent her a message.  Her budget is similar to ours, and we have a similar family size and income.  There are gives and takes here in there, but it’s a similar plan.  I left her a comment asking her where she shops for food, for I firmly believe knowledge should be shared.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply back just a few hours later.

Several months ago, another sustainabily-inspired mom, was interviewed in the Oregonian.  I also wanted to connect with this mom to share ideas on how she did it.  Unfortunately, this mom was more interested in getting cash than sharing knowledge, so we have yet to connect.

Sustainability is more than just green building.  It’s about building greener lives, inside and out.  It’s about shared responsiblity and a desire for change so we can all live in a cleaner, healthier world.  One aspect of this is sharing knowledge.  No one person has all the answers, we can’t individually.  Our world is much too big for one person to understand it all.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to connect with others so we can empower our strengths and recognize our weaknesses.  But, to do this, we have to share knowledge.  It’s understandable in the ways our economy is structured that one would guard and hold their ideas close to their heart, and in many respects we should lest someone take advantage of that we have worked so hard to cultivate.  But, if we are truly looking for a more sustainable society, we must open the door and begin bridging with one another so that a true sustainable bond will be made.  Let’s set aside fear and depression and raise up frugality so we will have hope for a greener future.

Language Pontifications

I got my Swatch fixed today. The battery died. It lasted two years; I would say, “Not bad.” This made me remember when I bought my lovely watch. The first day I wore it, a pin fell out, so I could not wear my lovely time-keeper. We were staying in Siena, where I purchased the watch, and the next day (Sunday) we had some free-time so we wandered back to the Swatch store to get the watch fixed. I had just purchased it the day before. But, we could not decipher the lovely Italian describing the store hours. It took us several trips back around to finally figure out, after consulting the dictionary too, that the words meant “Closed Sunday” not “Open partly on Sunday”.

So, I had to go back. The following week, Saturday, we had another opportunity to go back to Siena. I jumped at the chance, and Gretchen and I spent the day wandering around the narrow streets. When we got into the Swatch store, the exchange went something like this:

“Ciao,” me.
“Ciao,” lady behind the counter.
I hand my watch and point at the broken piece and missing pin.
She nods and retrieves her tools from the drawer under the counter. Within minutes my watch is fixed, she fastens it to my wrist.
“Preggo!” me.
“Ciao!” lady behind the counter.
And, we leave.

It was a quick exchange where hardly any words were used to communicate that my watch needed fixing. I knew (know) basically those two Italian words (and dové, which means “where”), so a conversation was not something in which I could partake. The interaction was friendly, but to the point. Words were not wasted, there couldn’t be, we didn’t know enough or didn’t share enough.

So, that made me think about all the talking we do every day. I am a talker, a prolific talker. I love to talk. I love to talk out loud, I love to think about things. I love to share my ideas, and I love to hear other people share their ideas and stories. I love asking questions about those shared ideas and stories. But, in all that talking, sometimes that’s all it is, just talk. No really meaning is exchanged, no jewels discovered in the midst of these pontifications and rantings. So, my question today is: what would happen if we all just shut up for a little bit, and communicated by pointing? What if we rubbed our tummies when we were hungry? What if we skipped intricate cravings and focused on essential needs? What if we embraced ourselves to indicate we needed a hug from someone else? What if…

To whomever stumbles upon this blog, please do share your thoughts regarding talking.

Bountiful Feast

We’ve been purchasing many of our food goods at a local restaurant supply shop, Cash and Carry. They are, thankfully, open to the public.  This has been one of the ways in which we can experiment with trimming the fat from our budget without sacrificing nutrution, or simply to see if it is possible.  With the help of Cash and Carry and buying in bulk flours, we were able to make $5 pizzas the other night.  The crust was a recipe from a friend, homemade, yielding 2 crusts.  The ingredients included about 1 quart of homemade marinara sauce, with parmasean and mozzarella cheese.  Other toppings included shredded chicken, diced tomato, onion, and green peppers.  I thought they looked quite gourmet when we were done!