For Summer

For the sheer exuberance of
singing out loud
dancing with yourself
painting a sunset red
or at least pretending that you can

For the joy of sowing seeds for tomorrow
hope for the future
believing in the impossible
dreaming of the ridiculous

For the wonder of
clapping your hands
stamping your feet
wiggling your ears

For summer

by Nikki Giovanni

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Oil

I have not been following the Gulf oil tragedy with any kind of consistency or depth. Every time I hear an update on the radio or glimpse a random headline, I grimace and feel a little sick…and then my mind moves onto other things.

I know it’s bad:

I know it’s sad:

I know we are ignoring it:

“It’s just a depressing story. No one reads a depressing story, at least, not more than once. And no one subscribes to a depressing byline feed…If there isn’t something a reader can do about the damn butterfly, then there’s no point in telling them about it. It just depresses people, and it depresses your numbers.”

As we ignore the other tragedies accumulating in the name of oil:

More oil is spilled in Nigeria each year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico due to the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster, reports The Guardian.

Shell, with the federal government as majority stakeholder, blames the spills on saboteurs, vandalism and theft, and not its crumbling infrastructure.

Wallowing in poverty, and oil, and subjugated by gun-toting security guards, what little attempts at fighting back the local population has managed to muster have either been squashed, or appear to be without hope.

Two years ago, Current TV’s Mariana van Zeller traveled to Nigeria to check out the situation in the excellent investigative report, “Rebels in the Pipeline.”

And I know it’s our fault…as in you-and-me fault:

I think the most disturbingly satisfying thrill of this entire event –and it is, in a way, a perverse thrill — comes from understanding, at a very core level, our shared responsibility, our co-creation of the foul demon currently unleashed.

What a thing we have created. What an extraordinary horror our rapacious need for cheap, endless energy hath unleashed; it’s a monster of a scale and proportion we can barely even fathom.

Because if you’re honest, no matter where you stand, no matter your politics, religion, income or mode of transport, you see this beast of creeping death and you understand: That is us. The spill may be many things, but more than anything else it is a giant, horrifying mirror.

But I know we are the ones who will have to change. And that’s why I’m going back into design. And that’s why I’ll be taking the bus.

…after all is said and done, it’s gloomily nice to think our darkest disaster in a generation could somehow ultimately improve our attitudes, change our behavior, lighten our violent treatment of the planet. As someone recently noted, the BP spill isn’t Obama’s Katrina, it’s actually Big Oil’s Chernobyl. Meaning: a disaster so appalling and devastating it might very well alter the industry and change the course of our energy policy forever.

Is it possible? Or, more accurately, are we even capable of such a shift? Is there any silver lining to be found in that black and greasy gloom? This is, perhaps, the most imperative question of all: If we can produce a demon of such extraordinary scale and devastation, can we not also somehow create its exact opposite? Let us pray.

Cook More: Salads!

I have never been a salad maker before, but I don’t know why. I am learning to love it. It started with a bulk buy of fresh spring greens from the store, and a good dressing. The best thing about salad (especially during summer, especially when you just lost your Microwave) is that it requires no heat, little foresight, and almost no prep time.

I love adding sunflower seeds, olives, crumbled tofu, and raspberries/strawberries if I happen to have them. Dressing is key.

from Tea and Cookies blog

Since becoming a GoogleReader addict herself, Natalia sent me this link: “A Pep Talk for Wilted Salad Makers.” I love that the author considers the above a salad because that’s the kind of meal I’ve been having a lot of lately: whatever mixture of leftover veggies, greens, and grains I happen to have in the fridge. Maybe add an egg. Eaten cold. No theme necessary.

Happy summer salad days!

Lapse

How easy it is to lapse into bad habits: snacking too much, cobbling together unbalanced meals, going to bed too late, watching too much Sex and the City, and not going to yoga. Blame it on the heat, blame it on the new and very temporary schedule, blame it on the ease, blame it on the lack of roommate accountability, blame it on anything except yourself.

But where is my default set? What is my norm? Where would my litmus test fall?

It scares me a little if this is it. I’m not in any danger zones, but neither am I doing well for myself. What of life makes it hard for me to work out and to eat well and to be productive as normal habit?

I’ve not had a regular routine for a good half a year now. In the spring, I was a teaching artist and had a sporadic schedule of daytime volunteering, afternoon classes to teach, and prep all other hours of the day. Then I was packing house and helping Mike to move out to Pasadena. Now I’m teaching Badgerdog writing camp in the mornings, prepping and relaxing during the afternoons, and, well, watching SATC at nights. (I feel like I should add that I am also cooking and reading a fair bit, too.)

And this routine will end Friday, and then I’ll be in California for much of the summer.

Am I just blaming my lapse in bad habits on a lack of routine and a lack of community/support/roommates? Or do I really need those things to be healthy, to find it easier to live healthily?

THINKGREEN: Use Less Plastic

Use Less Plastic by Take Part on Vimeo

Kick-ass video with strong beat, strong visuals, strong message. Never can have too many reminders that the plastic we use doesn’t magically disappear once we dispose of it in a trash can. Be mindful of the plastic you receive unwittingly (every time we use a take-out container, every time we eat a packaged food item, every time we grab a spork on the road, every time we are parched at a conference and reach for a tiny bottled water..). Try to cut back where you can: ask yourself if you need that bag to carry an item to your car, if you need to buy vegetables wrapped in a styrofoam tray, if you could perhaps buy headphones in less plastic and with less packaging.

For my part, I need to buy myself a new water bottle, since I left mine on the bus to LAX. And I need to stop eating the granola bars at writing camp just because they’re there. And I should invest in some reusable containers that I can fill with bulk items at the store to cut down on all the ziploc baggies I end up with. What can you do today to use less plastic?