Thursday, September 24, 2009

I need some space

This, and other things, is what he said to me as he dumped me. This time it's for good.

I'm taking a break from writing until I feel like communicating with the world again. As Greta Garbo said "I want to be alone." I cannot focus on daily changes when I am in so much pain.

I won't forget about you all, and I will be back.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 67 and 68 Green Sports and Making Do

I'm fascinated with roller derby. Maybe it's the fierce beauty of these women, maybe it's the punk aesthetic, or maybe its because it is everything that I am not, but wonder if I could be. In any case, yesterday I went to my first bout. It was raucous, friendly, violent (a girl broke her jaw), and it was surprisingly green.

It was held in an old air hanger that had skylights, so aside from the electricity that was used to run the sound system, there was no power used. No overhead lighting, no electronic scoreboard (they use white boards and dry erase markers), and they skate on a flat, concrete oval that has been made on the floor using a taped down rubber hose to indicate borders. Yes, bottled water abounded, but many participants were sporting their own water bottles, and some brought their own sliced fruits and vegetables from home to snack on at intermission. The spectators sat on metal bleachers, or on personal lawn chairs, and the skaters (and some of the referees) make their own outfits, cobbled together with various articles of clothing and accessories. Fascinating!

Time will tell if I have the guts to get into this. They have a training program, aptly titled 'fresh meat' that starts in November.

One of my latest issues has been that, while I love riding my bicycle, I don't own a messenger-style bag that I can wear across my body to store things like my wallet and phone in while I ride. A shoulder purse does not work, so I end up wearing my huge backpack when really all I have to carry are a few things.

So, instead of going out, spending money and buying a bag (how I dearly love shopping when I need something), I made a bag, out of fabric and supplies that I already owned. I didn't even buy new fabric (which is SO HARD). I made do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 66 Healthy Food Choices when Eating Out

Tonight I am going out to dinner at Fresh, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with several locations here in Toronto. I've never been, but Vanessa went there often in her book, and I'm always up for a new restaurant.

It used to be that I could stick to a healthy eating plan when eating at home, and then when I went out, all of my good work would go out the window and sometimes I'd gain as much as 3lbs at one dinner (spaghetti). Not any more. From now on, my dining out choices will be healthy. Not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, but I will order the healthiest thing on the menu, and question the waiter thoroughly as to how it was prepared. Going out to eat shouldn't be a free for all, and heavens knows that in most cases, I can cook better food at home than what they are serving at the places I end up eating. Quality over quantity.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 65 Inspire others to Consider the Planet

A friend of mine is in a military band. Recently, this band, along with a few other military bands, (some from out of town) got together and performed a massed concert at an outdoor soccer stadium. A few days before the concert, the weather was sunny and hot, and cases of bottled water were brought in to make sure that everyone stayed hydrated.

At the end of the rehearsal one night, it was noticed that a few cases of water were missing. It was discovered that the out of town bands had taken some of the cases back to their hotel rooms, to avoid paying for bottled hotel water.

This was unacceptable, as this water was supposed to be for everyone. At a follow-up meeting, suggestions were asked for as how to avoid this issue at next year's concert. My friend spoke up and suggested that instead of bottled water, the military should use large water tanks with spouts, and encourage the musicians to bring their own thermoses to fill from the tank. This would save money, as the military already owned said tanks, and there would be no waste.

I'm SO proud!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 64 No more giftcards unless they are homemade

I'm the sort of person who gives a lot of thought to upcoming birthdays, anniversaries and reasons to celebrate. I never forget these events, and I always make sure to get my Hallmark greeting in the mail on time to reach the recipient before the event.

Have you LOOKED at the price of greeting cards lately? Holy crap! $6! For a piece of paper with a picture and a lame verse, sold with an over sized envelope that requires additional postage! People, and I'm not naming names here (*cough my parents cough*) haven't embraced the notion of e-greetings. They miss the tradition of receiving something in the mail that they can display on the piano. A piece of paper they have to print themselves from their email just doesn't cut it. Not to mention that my mother has saved every card she's ever received, since before she and my father got married, 36 years ago.

Well hell, from now on, I'm making my own greeting cards. I'm artistic, I'm creative and I'm poetic. On occasions, I can even be funny. Take that, Shoebox Greetings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 63 Pare down what you own

Who really needs one facial cleanser for the bathroom counter, another for in the shower, a third that only takes care of eye makeup, and a fourth one for the travel bag? How did I get so wasteful?

Actually, it was easy. It's easy to lose track of all the things you buy, and even easier (for me, at least) to replace things that get used up without even considering doing without. If I'm out of cleanser for the sink, I add it to the grocery list and pick more up the next time I am in the store. Never mind that there is a perfectly good cleanser sitting 5 feet away in the shower that I can use. And one under the sink.

Nope, I don't need all these things anymore. Consolidate, recycle, and reduce.

My vegan challenge is going well. I don't even miss meat. I don't even think about it. All I'm thinking about is wow, this food is tasty, and I've never cooked this before, so let's dig in. These delicious recipes make so much food that I'm stretching my 5 days to 10, and maybe even 15, because frankly I can't stand wasting food, and I'm the only one eating this stuff. I did step on the scale this morning and had a moment of sheer horror at seeing a number I hadn't even imagined. Time to focus and get serious about this losing weight/getting in shape/police officer thing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 62 Watering Plants at Night

Another easy change. Water should go to the roots, not evaporation. Hence, I may get to water less.

I have quite a few plants around my place. Two African violets, an English ivy, a couple of tropical looking things that I picked up at Ikea, a philodendron, an azalea, a majesty palm, my herb garden and giant pot of rosemary, and then there's my gardenia tree.

This tree has given me more trouble and stress than any plant I have ever owned. It is a difficult specimen, preferring acidic soil, just the right amount of water and light, and perfect temperatures. The reward for all of this? Gorgeous, utterly fragrant pure white blooms against dark green glossy foliage. I love this tree beyond reason. Which is why I am super stressed right now that the leaves are turning yellow (no, no drainage problem) and while it is covered in buds, the buds bloom slightly, turn yellow, and die.

Time for some research. I will not lose this plant.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 61 13.2k and 29 pounds of vegan goodness

What have I done today? Not much. It took two hours to complete the above mentioned distance by bicycle, with the trip home encumbered by the above mentioned weight on my back. I have to keep telling myself that I am proud of myself, this is a good thing, and I combined getting food with getting a workout, and I didn't hurt the planet in the process. I also need to remind myself of the beauty of slowing down. All of this sounds great, until I look at my to-do list and feel my blood pressure spike again.

Tomorrow begins the 5 Day Vegan Challenge, followed up with a Green Smoothie cleanse. Oh crap, I need to get a blender.

I'd also like to state that no, I am not hauling a bike up 14 flights of stairs. When I am going out or coming home with my bike, I take the elevator. That's my reward for getting off my butt.

I think today's important change is to remember to breathe, take time to enjoy the process and changes that I am going through, and while I can't see the results yet, I know they are there because I can take pride in the aching muscles and the kitchen covered in vegetables. I know that I am doing good things for my body, and I am a lot happier when I've had a workout than when I've sat at my desk all day.

Less is more.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 60 "There's a cauliflower on your back"

First, I must state that today's green change is to switch to biodegradable garbage bags. These bags are made by Munger Nature company, based in Quebec (yay for made in Canada products!). They will biodegrade in about 12 months, based on exposure conditions. Good stuff, and an easy change.

Now, for the hard stuff.

You know that pretty new bicycle I got a few days ago? Today's bright idea was to ride it to the grocery store, to purchase food for Meghan's 5 Day Vegan Challenge, which starts on Tuesday. Getting to the store was a piece of cake. I live about 1 kilometer away from Loblaws, I live on the same street, and the street is relatively flat. I brought my backpack, as the wire baskets I have ordered to mount on my bike's back rack haven't arrived yet. I also brought the cloth drawstring bags that I use when buying produce and bulk items, so that no more plastic bags come into my house. I knew I wouldn't be able to buy all the food needed for 5 days of vegan goodness, but I figured I could at least buy the foods necessary for the first day, along with the muffin tin I'd need to make the apple cinnamon muffins. Easy, right?


Getting everything I needed wasn't hard. If Loblaws sells sorghum and guar gum, I couldn't find it, and neither could anyone I asked for help. The hard part came when I tried to fit all of my purchases into my backpack after paying for them. And it didn't happen.

You know, if I had my Harley, instead of my bike, this would have been no problem. But I have to say, owning a motorcycle and taking long trips on it has not only taught me how to pack light and pack well, but how to tie things down in a pinch.

I give you exhibit A. This is how I got my apples, walnuts and kale home. Those drawstrings really came in handy. PS - I installed that back rack yesterday all my myself, and I am mighty proud of that.

Here is my backpack. Yes, that is a cauliflower. A fellow biker passed me on my way home and told me I had a cauliflower on my back. As if I didn't know. Stuffed to the gills and exceedingly hard on the body, this bag weighs in at 34 lbs.

Here is a side view of the backpack. It stuck out exceedingly far from my back, but I had to keep it up and not let it rest, lest I squish the apples and kale. Yup, that's a jar of apple sauce on the side.

I'm home now (obviously) and ready for a cool shower. I can't wait until my wire baskets come. I'm going to use a non-vinyl material (think Ikea shower curtain) to make drawstring liners for the wire baskets. That way, I can put my purchases in the liners and pull them closed to protect them from the weather. And oh, they will look super cute and match the bike, because I'm a dork like that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 59 Spend time each day learning about environmental options

This one is pretty self explanatory. I went to the Toronto Environmental Day and dutifully recycled my shiz-nit, and along the way learned a lot. Such as halogen light bulbs qualify has hazardous.

I know this is a lame post. I'm feeling pretty lame today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 57 and 58 Human power and traveling with purpose

Yesterday, I bit the bullet and bought a bicycle. Yes, this is the one. It's a Trek hybrid, and I bought it because it is comfortable and pretty. Not only does it match the Harley, but it matches the living room, which is where it currently sits. I know nothing about bicycles, but people tell me I got a good one. Yippee. I feel as though I have adopted an expensive pet and have no idea how to care for it. It's so pretty and clean...I'm terrified of it getting banged up or stolen (yes, I bought a lock). It really was an impulsive purchase. I went to the store, planning only to look, and then fell in love with this one, which happened to be the only one left, in a very small frame, and it was on sale. *sigh* Forgive me Crunchy, for I have spent.

I haven't ridden the bike yet, because I've forced myself to clean the house and do other productive and necessary tasks (such as job hunting) before tooling around on the new toy. Yes, job hunting. I'm currently looking for work in the security field, as that would look good on my resume when/if it comes time for the police to look at it.

Patricia is ecstatic that I own a bike. An avid biker, she easily bikes 30k a day and thinks nothing of it. Now she says I can eat whatever I like, because peddling around will burn it off. Yeah.

Now that I am traveling about under my own power, there will be no more joy-riding - car, motorcycle, or otherwise. I cannot justify a motorized vehicle if have a bicycle, and since I have to get my heart rate up it is. Although, if laziness takes over, this is a way to become a shut-in.

I gotta say, some of these green changes are really hard to remember. Like using goodsearch. Typing is almost instinctive. And goodsearch is slow and lacking in the thoroughness we have come to expect from the mighty google.

And these stairs! They are killing me! Crap, I made it half way and then it was a stagger the rest of the way. I know, journey of a thousand miles and all that stuff, but this penguin lacks patience.

I'm going to have to carefully analyze how much paper I produce, and how much paper is coming into the house, because with my use every inch of paper rule, I have a pile of scrap paper. Huge, I tell you. And curse you, LL Bean, for making it worse with your thick catalog.

I am pleased to report, however, that tomorrow is Toronto's first environmental day of the fall, and I will be attending and recycling my scant amount of polystyrene, my wine corks and one halogen light bulb.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

6 Changes in One Post!

Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

Let me start by saying that no, I have not died, nor have I given up. What with not posting in 6 days, I bet that's what some of you were thinking. Nope. I'm still here. But these past 6 days have been rough, I have not been keeping up with the changes I've made, nor have I been making new ones. Shame on me! I've just...I don't know. You know? Sometimes I just don't know anymore.

Before I get on to the changes that I'm making, let me tell you about some of the revelations I've had as of late. This weekend was a big one in Toronto. End of summer, last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition, concerts, air show, etc. People, noise and trash everywhere. Good thing the garbage strike ended a while ago. First, the concert. Patricia and I went to see Kid Rock Friday night. No, I am not a fan. I went because I'm a good friend. It was a typical rock concert, with both assigned seating and lawn seating. We were on the lawn. I won't go into too many details, but safe to say, while other people were rocking out and splashing their beer on me (drunk people are so messy!) I was pondering the carbon footprint left by Mr. Kid Rock and his entourage. Imagine all the fossil fuels used to get him, his people and all their gear to town. Imagine thousands of plastic cups left all over the venue from people littering. These sorts of events don't let you bring your own bottle in (and I can see why), but then if you are thirsty, you are expected to pay $4 for bottled water, and $9 for a cup of beer. And all that creates more trash. I don't even want to think about the noise pollution and the effect on local wildlife. And don't get me started on the number of cigarette butts strewn literally everywhere. I came home sober, wet, stinking and thinking of the planet.

Saturday night, I went to see the new Cirque du Soleil show that arrived in town this past week. Very good show. Really. But hundreds of cars idling, waiting enter or leave the parking lot? More fossil fuels burned getting all the performers, props, staging equipment and the huge tent to town in trailers? I'm torn on this. I'm a huge fan of the arts, and I think arts education is crucial for people of all ages. Experiencing the arts live is a wonderful and sometimes life changing experience. But at such a huge cost to the planet? Is sitting at home seeing the arts on TV as good as seeing it live? Is a photo of the Mona Lisa as good as or better than flying to Paris to see the real deal?

On Thursday of last week, the sky above Toronto was thunderous with the roar of fighter jets practicing for the three day air show this past weekend. I live right across the street from the Toronto City Centre Airport, so you can bet it was super noisy. Supersonic jets literally right outside my window, so close the glass was rattling. For three days, hundreds of planes soared overhead in a 4 hour long show. Vehicle traffic to and from this event made leaving home (unless you were on foot) impossible. Maybe I'm a kill-joy, but I just don't see the thrill. Let's pollute just for fun! Let's burn tremendous amounts of jet fuel and create so much noise that the local birds fly in confused circles! How can we justify things like this??

Monday was the kicker though. Patricia and I went to the CNE and visited the animal building. Here, city kids, who might never see live farm animals, can see the real things up close and personal. But these animals were not happy. A baby Holstein separated from it's mother, licking at the bars of its enclosure with anxiety. An ostrich pacing back and forth. A sow, who had given birth at the CNE only a week before, forced to stand with no room to move or turn, lest she accidentally crush her new piglets. All under a sign promoting "Farm to Fork - Canadian Pork" These animals were sweet, gentle, utterly cute and all of them were on their way to the slaughterhouse, conveniently located nearby. No one seemed bothered by these things, save for me. Am I sick in the head? God, I might cry just re-reading what I just wrote.

My solution, at least in the short term - I'm going vegan. I've signed up for Meghan Telpner's 5 Day Vegan Challenge (and the Green Smoothie Cleanse). I need to feel good about what I am putting in my body, and Lord knows I need to lose weight. I'm not nervous - vegan food is delicious. I don't even think I'll miss the meat (I don't eat much meat now as it is). I'm just looking for a healthy, balanced food plan that will help me lose weight (or at least kick-start the process). The less there is of me to haul around, the easier my next challenge is going to be.

And what is that you might ask? I mentioned last week that I had something big in the works, and oh boy, this is a doozie. If I can pull this off (and from what I have learned, it's going to be a big IF), this will be the hardest thing I have ever done. Mastering the 800lb Harley will be no sweat compared to this.

I've decided to become a police officer.

This process, which could take years if ever, will get me in shape, trim me down, and really show me what I am made of. What I'm looking for though is a career where I can make a difference in the lives of others. Not just a job, prone to layoffs and seasonality, but a career. Even if I do pass the physical fitness test, I have to pass a host of written tests, assessments, and go through a very thorough application and interview process. And then there's the schooling.

My biggest issue is this: When I was growing up, my parents taught me that the police are your friends, and they are there to keep you safe and as long as you follow the laws, you have no reason to fear them. And this is what I still believe today. But I think I'm the only one. No one is happy when the police show up. Firemen - great! EMTs - Fabulous! But the police? Oh, no one likes them. And they do good work. Hard work. I can bet that not one of them likes spending New Years Eve directing traffic in the rain so that people can get home safely and in good time. And do people ever say "thank you"? I doubt it. No wonder I rarely see cops smiling.

So there you have it.

On to the changes I'm making. And keep in mind that these changes are not only good for the planet, but also good for my body. In no particular order here they are:

Use Cloths for Household Cleaning
No More Elevators
No More Delivery Food
Natural Cleaning Products
Question Environmental Practices
Use Every Inch of Paper Before Recycling

The Paper - I've already started this one, and goodness me, I have an awful lot of scrap paper to use up before it can hit the bin.

Question Enviro - I've already done this twice - Once at Jack Astor's, where I am dismayed to learn that the brown paper table covering that is "part of their culture" is not recyclable due to crayon wax (they allow for diner doodling) and that Starbucks cannot recycle their yogurt containers or their paper bags used for cookies. What the hell.

Natural Cleansers - Got me some white vinegar and a box of baking soda. Going to have at it probably tomorrow.

Food Delivery - This stopped when I banned polystyrene, but I kept ordering pizza because the cardboard is recyclable. But seriously, now that I'm going vegan, training for a big scary fitness test and eating healthy, food delivery is just not going to happen regardless of what it is. I will be cooking or going out to acceptable restaurants.

Cloths for Cleaning - Easy. Already started. Loving the results.

Elevators - Oh Lord, please give strength to my fat little penguin legs. Even thinking about this makes me want to cry. But hey, a few rounds of this and I'll be fitting into my motorcycle chaps again in no time.

In other news, I may be buying a bicycle soon. Haven't ridden one of those since I was like 10. Found one yesterday that matched my Harley. Too bad it had no gears and no brakes. Um, no way. The search continues.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 50 Getting the Heart Rate Up

My good friend Patricia, who is amazingly fit, argues that a body should get their heart rate up at least once a day. *groan*

To that end, I am going dog-walking with her today. I won't tell you who's dogs we are walking, but I will say that the owners are wealthy, famous, controversial, and one of them is enjoying a rather restricted lifestyle at the moment.

I've never been athletic. I took swimming lessons as a child because I was made to, and hey, swimming is fun. I was never great at it though. I took gymnastic lessons for perhaps a year or two when I was in lower elementary school, but I suspect that it was because my cousins were doing it, and they loved it, so certainly i would love it as well. Um, no. I played soccer for 4 or 5 summers on a town league in grade school, but again, I suspect that it was because the girl I played piano duets with was also on the team.

I begged my parents for ballet lessons. They told me I was too fat, and that piano was a more practical way of entertaining people.

I don't like to sweat. I don't like how my face becomes red and stays that way for long periods of time. And frankly, I am not coordinated. I don't dance well, and mastering something as complex as the motorcycle took me ages and was not without it's bruises and crashes.

But dogs, well, I like dogs. And walking isn't so bad, is it? I'm thinking of volunteering to be a dog walker for the humane society. Although, it will be a struggle not to bring home my furry charges. I have such a weakness for dogs and cats.

So here we go. Dog walking with Patricia today, something else tomorrow, and if all else fails, I'll start taking the stairs in my condo. 14 flights. Oh Lord.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 49 Dental Hygiene

Don't let the title of this post gross you out. I actually have good dental hygiene - I never miss my 6 month check up, and I have no cavities. None. I had one when I was 6, but that baby tooth is long gone. My dentists have speculated that there is something special in my body chemistry or in the ph of my saliva that keeps things from growing in my mouth.

But yes, I could brush before bed. I always brush in the morning, but really, I could be doing better about brushing before bed. And I'll have to do it for my own health and well-being, seeing how I no longer share a bed with someone who would appreciate a minty fresh good night kiss.

Flossing. I don't know about y'all, but my parents never taught me how to floss. My dentist did. And along with the new toothbrush at every visit, I would also receive a little container of dental floss. Which would get placed in the basket under the sink as soon as I got home. Every time I cleaned the bathroom, I'd say, "Geez, I sure do have a lot of dental floss. I really should use that stuff up." So now I am. Yes, it's tedious and sometimes my gums bleed, but I do think I'm getting better at it as time goes on. We'll see if my dentist notices a difference when I go in for my next cleaning.

In other news, I have given up on Dr. Mist and Tom. Today, I'm using baking soda on ye olde pits and we'll see how that goes.

I must get some hankies made. All this crying has done a number on the toilet paper supply.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 48 Healthy Eating

This one is going to be a tough one to keep going, but as long as I plan ahead what I am going to eat, only eat when I am hungry, and remember that, like anything, one day at a time is the way to go.

It's good that I'm starting this on the first day of the month. In Meghan's book, she talks about how her life seems to flow in 12 week cycles. 12 weeks from today is November 24. During this time period, I'm not even going to get on the scale. I'm just going to go by what my clothes feel like. My first goal is to fit back into my motorcycle chaps. I'll need the added warmth once the cold weather really hits Toronto, and cleaning the dead bugs off my jeans has been annoying.

I'm not going to go into any detail about what I am doing, but know that I am staying hydrated, taking a multi vitamin and getting plenty of rest.

I also have another life change on the go, which may or may not happen. It's pretty huge, so I'm not going to say anything until I'm sure it's a go. But let's just say that losing weight and getting in shape will help make this goal easier to achieve.

Sorry for being so cryptic, dear readers, but the events of the past couple of days have made me more inward dwelling and protective of my dreams. The good news is that I am still living with my ex (but for how much longer I do not know), we seem to have an amicable relationship, and he is starting this healthy eating plan with me. I will offer him all the love and support I can with this, and perhaps this challenge, along with the other life changes I have in the works, will bring us closer and help me to become a better partner for him.

As a result of traumatic issues, I must confess some green slip-ups. I did forget to bring my own produce bags to the grocery store this past Sunday. As I haven't gotten around to making handkerchiefs yet (I swear I'll do it today) I've been using toilet paper. I've been using google instead of goodsearch, because frankly, google is faster. I should be more patient. I've been lax about consistently shutting down my computer at night. My ex bought a can of aerosol insect killer on Sunday to deal with our fruit fly infestation. I should refrain from drinking coffee if I don't have my thermos on me. Last night, I had take out in polystyrene containers (which I have cleaned, saved and will recycle). And lastly, the AC has been turning on and off over the past two weeks, but I think it might be off for good (since fall seems to have arrived here in Toronto).

Ok, this was a whole lotta green slip-ups. More than I thought. Shit.