Monday, May 29, 2006

Update: we are open afterall.

Working on the assumption that people would probably be late, I called work again and was rather surprised to get a response. We're open and a smattering of students have done whatever they needed to to get to school. If only there was this much dedication in high school! But then, students didn't have to fly around the world and pay hundreds of dollars to attend high school.

I was told that even the Director doesn't think she'll be able to come in today and it's really my choice. I love the idea of another day off, but a nice quiet school day is excellent for getting work done, so I decided to at least attempt to make my way downtown. I called Nyron and woke him up, but I really didn't want to force him to drive me in if he didn't feel up to it. He went out with his friends to play basketball last night and doesn't have to be into work until 2pm, so I wasn't expecting him to jump out of bed and run to my rescue. Especially since I might have an equally hard time getting home. So here I stay until I hear that the strike has been stopped or some other plans are made.

0( )__

TTC + strike = long weekend (but how long?)

This morning started like any other morning. I grumbled and groaned out of bed at 6am, got dressed, fed Spirit, watered my plants, and put some of last night's leftovers into a tupperware container for lunch. I peeked out the balcony doors in the direction of the bus stop and was relieved to see it still empty. I spent a few minutes picking a new book (I've decided to give up on my current read; life's too short for books that suck) and went outside to wait for the bus. At first I thought it a little odd that the bus stop was empty - there's usually at least one or two people waiting for the 7am bus - but I figured I must have just missed it and the next one would be along in 10 minutes. I sat down on the bench and before I'd even got a sentence into my new book I heard someone honking their horn. When I looked up I saw the driver rolling down his window as if to talk to me and figured he just wanted directions. Boy, was I surprised when he informed me that the TTC was on strike as of this morning and the bus wouldn't be running today! How the hell was I supposed to get to work?!

Luckily for me, it seems that work is closed today, like many of the city's schools I would imagine. I've called three times and got no answer, so I figured it was safe to change into jeans and a t-shirt. I wish I was the kind of person who could just crawl into bed and get back to sleep at this point, but I've been awake for too long and there's too much light seeping through the window blinds.

Right now things are fine. Nyron will probably still have to work today, since retail stores tend to stay open on days like this just in case some locals want to buy anything, but at least I'll get to see him this morning. I, however, worry about how long this strike will go on. Schools can't stay open with only a handful of students and staff. For everyday this strike goes on it's another day of classes the student's miss. Some of the students are only here for a few weeks and every class really counts. Once they've reached their last day they go home, whether they've been able to attend every class or not.

o( )__

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Somebody stop the madness!

I've begun reading Metro on the way to work in the mornings, largely because I'm not enjoying the novel I'm currently reading but I hate to give up on a book halfway through. After the 20 minute bus ride to the nearest subway station, I've usually had enough and grab a Metro from the news stand inside the station. I was hugely dismayed yesterday to read a tiny blurb in the international section that the US House of Representatives (that's the branch just below the Senate, right?) have voted successfully to put a bill before the Senate that will allow oil drilling in the Alaskan wildlife reserve! They've been trying this since 2005 and they don't seem to ever want to stop. So far, each time it's come before the Senate they've done right by voting it out.

What worries me, though, is that in some ways it doesn't matter how many times it gets voted out. It only needs to be passed once for the bulldozers to head north. The article said that they expect greater support this time around because Americans are so upset about the price of gas ($3 in some places, apparently). However, with typical lack of foresight, no one seems to clue into the fact that the amount of oil they'll get will only last a few years, while the damage caused will last decades and possibly be irreparable.

Please! Any Americans who are reading this, do anything you can to let your government know that you are against killing animals and destroying unique natural habitat just so that you don't have to bus it to work. You have a huge amount of power to influence the decisions your government makes; remember, they work for you, not the other way around. Make this an issue worth getting involved for and please, get involved!

After reading such depressing - if brief - news, I need to blog about some success in life. So I thought I'd photograph an update on my table-top greenhouses.

Here's the whole lot, with tops up so you can see all the budding green life:

OK, so you can't really see all the budding green life. That's why I've taken some close-ups of the little darlings.

*sniff* They're getting so big! Now that I look at them, I'm starting to think that these are the snow peas and that the peppers haven't started sprouting yet. I really should have labeled things. : )

Oh well. It'll be ad adventure as things grow to see what everything turns into.

There won't be a lot of guessing about this one, though. Two of these cups are chives, two are green onions, and two are chamomile. True, I can't necessarily tell which are which right now, but they'll distinguish themselves soon enough.

I feel like a mom! I'm so proud of how all my little babies are growing!

0( )__

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What's this I see?

Why, it's a little baby pepper plant!

Isn't he cute? I'm not sure if he's a green pepper or a red pepper, but why get hung up on colour, I say. : ) It's all part of my fledgling little table-top greenhouse community.

I put this together on the weekend with some plastic pastry containers I've saved over the last few months. The pepper plants are in the upside down muffin tray. There's also snow peas, chives, green onions, chamomile and maybe some other things. I have to admit, I don't quite remember what we planted.

And here's Nyron looking tired after a long day at work:

Doesn't he have such a cute hang-dog face? He works so hard.

o( )__

Monday, May 22, 2006

I need a rest from my long weekend : )

For those of you who aren't yourself Canadians but read my blog, I assume, because you wish you were, you probably don't know about May 2-4. May 2-4 is actually Victoria Day weekend and is the first long weekend of the summer. It's coloquially called May 2-4 because it falls close to May 24th and people often celebrate the long weekend by drinking a 24 case of beer (or two, or three), often at the cottage if you are lucky enough to have one. Unfortunately, most cottage folks weren't too lucky this year, as the weekend has seen mostly rain, heavy winds and even some snow in - you guessed it - cottage country. So it seems a lot of people have decided to use the long weekend and bad weather to get spring housework done. And Nyron and I are no acception.

We've spent most of the weekend painting and now the living room matches the library downstairs. It's an entirely different process painting an oft-used room compared to a room that's mainly used as a way to get from the front door to the stairs. Our lives were disrupted for more than 24 hours as we had to unplug the computer and tv and push all the furniture into the centre of the room. You don't think it's possible to crave a couch until yours is filled with boxes and covered in plastic sheeting.

I also managed to get a bit more gardening done and the patio is looking just that much more green. A woman on freecycle offered up some strawberry plants since her's were taking over her garden. I was quick to reply and was gifted with 7 individual plants, which gave me the perfect excuse to buy some beautiful deep blue strawberry pots. It took some doing to get all the plants in and still keep the earth from falling out of the various holes, but they look great. The plan is to put them on a multi-teired stand of some kind so that they don't strangle the other plants (Strawberries: sweet but ruthless).

Here's my garden so far:

Pretty sparse, I know, but I'm working on it. The strawberries are in their lovely pots, the green pot is peppermint (I'll be moving it to a proper pot once I find one suitable), and the wooden box contains oregano and parsely.

Happy May 2-4 everyone!

0( )__

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kanye would be proud

Nyron, the king of finding great stuff on the internet, came across this jewelry website by way of comic writer/artist Brian Wood's blog. It's for a company called Leber Jeweler Inc. and they make their pieces from reclaimed and recycled metals and gems that are environmentally mined and conflict free (the diamonds are Canadian). They are also really beautiful. I find a lot of jewelry I see in stores is quite gaudy, and I hate the way most engagement rings set the gem really high up, which is a surefire way for me to get it caught on everything and cut into my finger, but these rings of a subtle uniqueness that really appeals to me. Not to mention that it provides a way for Nyron and I to satisfy our need for wedding rings without having to support the unethical and earth-injuring practices of the large-market jewelry industry. I very much like the "Emma" ring for an engagement ring and Nyron and I both like "Linus" for wedding bands. Now you can "spend all you life trying to get that ice" without it costing the earth. : )

o( )__

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Thinking too big

This May 2-4 weekend Nyron and I plan to spend working on the house. As well as clearing out the garage in preparation for turning it into a workshop and finishing the painting (we've found a lovely hazlenut colour that already adorns our library walls) I'm hoping to find time to work on the balcony garden. Always being one for thinking ahead, I started wondering what I could do for the winter. I came up with the idea of turning my balcony into a greenhouse and started mentally designing a frame system that I could set up with metal pipes and cover with plastic sheeting that would be relatively simple to put up in the fall and take back down in the spring. That way, I'd have a year-round garden and a year-round supply of fresh vegetables.

Then, as usual, reality set in. I live in a condo-townhouse, which means I have to abide by the building management's rules. There are very strict rules about what we are allowed to make visible in the "public areas" of which the balconies are an example. We're not even allowed to hang clothes-lines. So I really can't imagine that turning my balcony into a large plastic greenhouse would go unchallenged by the powers that be. I can't wait until we win the lottery and move into a self-sustainable homestead outside of Toronto - such is the dream.

I guess I should just start thinking smaller. Like, a whole series of little greenhouses, the ones with the adjustable shelves just like the balcony-sized one in my head, but about 2 feet high. I had one of those once, years ago, which gave me the idea in the first place. How many do you think I could fit on my balcony before it's deamed "unsightly"? : )

o( )__

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Even the best of intentions...

I'm home sick today and watching Daily Planet to pass the time (sick days are always so boring!). They did a piece on the new collection of new wind terbines that England has built in the Irish Sea to help combat greenhouse gasses. Sounds like good news, right? Well, the piece was immediately followed by a bit about scientists in California noticing that their wind turbines have had an effect on the behaviour of the local ground squirrels. It seems that the squirrels near wind turnbines are more edgy, stressed, and more prone to diving for cover in their holes. Speculation is that the noise, or possibly the vibration, makes it difficult for the ground squirrels to hear each other's warning cries - basically, it cuts off the communication system of these very social animals.

It seems a bit of a catch-22 for us humans. Even when we try and fix some of the damage we've been doing for hundreds of years, we end up just causing other problems. As anyone who studied the chain of life in elementary school knows, this doesn't just effect ground squirrels; this also effects the animals that rely on them. For example, golden eagles.

It's hard enough, even in an age that is ever enlightening to the necessity of dealing with these environmental problems while we still can, to get support and funding for the reaserch and implimentation of "earth-friendly" forms of energy production, without finding out that they create further complications. And of course, we have no idea how far such complications could reach when the ripples stop.

Now, I'm not saying we should just stop trying. That would be ridiculous. It's an unfortunate fact of the matter that the things we do to help can also be the same things we do that hinder (just look at World Bank's dealings in the Third World). It's true that everything in this world effects its environment in some way. We've just got to find some way of striking a balance, so that we can make a positive change that isn't also tied to a negative one.

o( )__