The rambling soapbox of a discontented suburbia


Learning my Town
July 26, 2011, 12:22 pm
Filed under: enviornmentalism, NY, Pedestrians, recycling

Hi all!  Summer’s been cookin’ for a while now!  Thankfully we’ve had a break in the temperatures.

One of the things I’m grateful for this summer is that I’ve been tooling around my new town with my best friend who’s re-discovering the town he grew up in (it’s the same place)  And it’s been really really fun going around to different streets along Lake Ontario and exploring what happens at the dead ends of these streets.  We found a really cool tree covered walking path that was right on the edge of the lake covered in rocks, the little sand stone rocks, not the big erosion-abating rocks.  At another dead end we found this really neat Braddock Bay bird wildlife thingy.   Pretty neat.  It’s interesting seeing land that the Genesee Land Trust has a partnership with.

We went to the end of the marina (which many many locals know about – there’s even a neighborhood of tiny little houses right there) and found this amazing peninsula that’s really dreamy to stroll down between the trees and everything, and a really nice shallow, warm sandy beach swimming area!  Growing up my family always went to Hamlin Beach.  And as far as local parks go, Hamlin’s pretty friggin’ sweet.  But the water edge is all those sandstone rocks.  It wasn’t always the most pleasant experience, (include the algae and long drive and let’s just say as a kid, I wasn’t very thrilled)

My heart sings for nature.  I’ve run recently into a few mental road blocks (i won’t get into it here) regarding the human element of the church and my upbringing.  So I chose to take a break from the language that surrounds a lot of churches and have pledged to maintain the spiritual connection that we’re both (the church and I) are trying to be attuned to.  The whole point is this.  I’m working through these road blocks daily, but every sunday morning (very early mind you) I go hang out at the beach area, or this past sunday I was elsewhere, so I found a park to hang out in.  It’s been a really nice experience so far.

One addition, or side to this has been the awareness of the amount of trash left around on the beaches especially.  I don’t piss and moan, I’m not going to gripe (except about the one group of idiots that when I came through at 8am, the sand and coals around their fire were still PIPING hot.  I filled their empty vodka bottle numerous times with water to put it out/ cool it down… if a kid had stepped on that, man… that would have been ugly)  I don’t mind picking up the trash.  But that’s been a nice feeling too.  I get 5cents off some of the deposits, and I know that a lot of the other plastics are actually being recycled instead of trashed (because if the park had a trash can (Which doesn’t happen in NYS) there would still be crap on the beach, and all the plastic bottles in the trash).  I’m not trying to toot my own horn.  Plenty of people do this.  I am happy about it.

And that’s the last point, Monroe County, a couple months ago, started accepting plastics 1-7 for recycling.  You have no idea how happy that made me!!  I could recycle the rest of the plastics that I get from grocery shopping.  I am intentional about not buying things in plastic when I can.  But to be able to recycle all the #5s out there?  That means anything in the dairy section that comes in a tub!  (yogert, sour cream, cottages cheese, dips)  That means any of the take out plastic containers that Wegmans uses (cheeses, their olive bar etc.)  My friend stopped getting olives from the olive bar because he couldn’t recycle the container.  So I’m very very grateful for that.

Recycling is so awesome.  I’m not going to worry about the processes involved in recycling right now and how much energy/waste they put out.  It’s all about baby steps right?  I can’t change everyone else’s behavior, but I can change mine.  So I’m going to continue picking up on the beaches, not every little scrap, but I’ll do my part.  And that includes taking advantage of the awesome nature that my new little town has to offer.  It’s really neat what’s there and I’m grateful to live near it.

Happy Tree-Filled, Sun-shinning, Nurishing-Rain, Recycling Tuesday people.  Make sure to smile when you hear the cicadas in the trees.  It means summer is here.



It’s been longer than I intended on 2 counts
May 17, 2011, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The first will remain unsaid because I refuse to dwell on it.

The second is, Last thursday (which is longer ago than I planned for this post) I snatched my first snake!  It’s the snatch and release programs but I snatched a gardner snake!  IT was really really cute and kept trying to bite my glove.  It was small and super skinny, much smaller and skinnier than the one my friend caught back in the back part of my property.  But this little brown beauty was fun!  My mom and I were clearing off a wild area of my road side land and found it moving about.  I was shocked that I actually got it!

And then I go running towards the house with the snake yelling for Dad to come here!  He barely complied and then was like “eew, you’re going to show it to me?” as he came out of the basement knowing what was in my hands.  Now, here’s the context.  My dad grew up in the country.  he grew up surrounded by farm land.  I grew up in the ‘burbs where the last time I picked up wild life was when I was like 3 and mistook a mole for a stick from our cherry tree…. so the fact that I was excited about the snake and he was going eeew was reallly weird.

and on keeping counts of things, I have evicted 2 spiders from my house!  Now, the background on this one is a) i HATE spiders.  I’d rather pick up snakes than have spiders in my house and b) my HATE paralyzes me from getting close enough that I would kill them.  Can’t do that.  And my friend used to use a bag to capture the bugs and spiders and rid them of my living space.  Bags are really unpredictable with creases and spaces and you’re really close to the bug and not safe.  But  I found a solution!!  Over the last year I’ve been using something called a Bug Jar.  I purchase things from the grocery store in glass as much as possible.  Some of them (like Wegman’s triple fruit jelly to be exact) don’t work so well as jars for storing and freezing leftovers in.  (wegmans salsa jars are PERFECT)   Anyway, the triple fruit jelly jar I have was annoying and so I started using it to catch bugs!  You just take the jar and an envelope (junk mail, bills whatever) and go after the bug!  Catch the bug with no possibility of it getting to you because there’s solid glass in the way, cap it for a short time until you get your shoes on and  take it outside.    Tada!!

So I got two really gross spiders out of my house without killing them because I wouldn’t be able to do it and they’re not in my house terrorizing me.

And I caught a Snake!  Woooooooooo

just thought i’d share.



vegetarianism and nature
April 25, 2011, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, vegetarian

Hey all,
I mentioned this story and surrounding ideas to a friend, so I might have sapped the potential bang of the post here, but I’ll go for it anyway.

So Tuesday it was really really rainy and it was just gross.  As I was getting ready for work where I was house sitting, I saw something going in a circle (you know how leaves will swirl) out on the driveway.  I checked it out before I left and it turns out it was a mouse going in circles.  I feel like it’s rudder was broken or something.  But as it goes, I gently pushed it with my foot and it flipped over on it’s back and then tried to go in circles again.  Either way, the point was I was able to get the mouse to the grass (after the second time it clung to my shoe instead of falling over)

And that got me thinking.  I know Nature is a cruel, emotionless place.  I think humans personify things a little too much considering what the wild is like.  So I understand that mouse is going to die, maybe a slow death if it’s rudder really is broken, or an eagle will pluck it out of the field, or a snake will eat it or it will live a long life and get run over by a car later.

For me, because of humans higher level of thinking and reasoning, we’ve prospered much more than any natural system would allow (that’s why there’s food chains = population control.  when food chains get disrupted, (deer/wolves) population gets out of hand).  And because of our prosperity, there’s also a lot of destruction at our hand.  I’m not going to go into the rain forests or animal extinctions.  My point is, if I can be a good steward of the (unnoticeable) “power” I have as a human, and not kill animals frivolously, then score one for life.  I know the mouse will die eventually and I know the mouse will die, probably, an uncomfortable death, but if nature takes it’s course instead of human interruption getting all up in there, I can live with that.

And that helps me understand and further explain my vegetarianism.  I read in a blog once, the blogger couldn’t quite figure out why she’d become a vegetarian for 7 years.  As she says “I never had any real aversion to meat itself, nor was I necessarily against the practice of raising animals for the purposes of meat production, nor did I question the nutritive or health value of meat, nor was I ethically or morally opposed to the idea of eating meat. ”  And I held on to that quote for a long time (months) trying to figure out where I stand.  I’m not going to be a meat eater because I think my reasons are enough, but being apart of the vegetarian world I felt like I needed to resolve my opinion on the practice of killing animals for meat.

And hanging out with this mouse helped me sort of sort that out.  It’s funny house recently things have been turned on their head in my brain.  I’m not a big fan of the stereotypical person who’s into hunting and fishing.  (nascar, working on cars, 4 wheeling, red neck (i said it) etc)  But if you hunt and use most of the meat etc, then yes, hunted meat is meat I’d probably eat, because the animal lived off of what it’s naturally made to eat and lived it’s life out in the wild.

But I’m a vegetarian (in no particular order) for health reasons, because I’m not okay with the actualized practice of raising meat in an industrial and capitalist process (largest reason), because I don’t believe we should consume the amount of meat Americans eat, because (i’m being honest here) I don’t like preparing and cooking and cleaning up after cooking meat.
I want to know what I’m putting in my body, and some nameless, sourceless, pathless (the life lived of the animal, where it came from, the food it ate, the place it was killed etc) meat is not what I want.  The hormones, the additives, the food the meat ate, it all affects me.  I’m not eating a piece of lettuce and saying, well the buck stops there, it’s just a leaf.  If it was grown in radioactive soil, I am what my food eats.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen is a great book and a book I read years ago, but I think he’s on track.  From his website I quote,

“Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By urging us to once again eat food, he challenges the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach — what he calls nutritionism — and proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food. Our personal health, he argues, cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part.”

Because we’re not the food we eat, we’re the food chains that we eat.  (the adage “you are what you eat”…)  And I think that’s a great manifesto almost.  It’s about simplicity and balance.  it’s about being informed and concerned (with balance)

So for me, I choose to stay away from the meat.  But I try to Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.  (haven’t gotten the not too much part down yet… hey, I’m being honest.)

So that’s the round about path of it.



I have no answers
April 25, 2011, 3:03 pm
Filed under: cycling, new urbanism, Suburbia, sustainability, Uncategorized

This post is giving me a pretty hard time.  I started writing it almost a week ago and have really struggled with it.

Here it is:
So I’m beginning to think this will always be a perpetual struggle.  And that’s okay, I think.  As long as we’re continuing to think about it.

The struggle I’m talking about is driving.  I’m looking at my future, my passions, my direction, career, vocation, and avocation.  All that.  And as I look at that, I start to encounter the part about community.  Community is an important thing, but if I’m living in small town and investing my time, energy, ideas, passion, career into the city… shouldn’t I just live in the city?

And then I run into the part about how my small town and 1.5 acres of land and trees and the corn field next to me keep me sane, they give me peace, fill my soul.

And then I run into the struggle I have over driving and how much  driving I do and did and don’t like doing.  And  then there’s the added current component of the cost of fuel and the finite quantity of oil.

It’s balancing those two, how to not act like a suburbanite while driving all over east kingdom come to get/accomplish what I need, how to balance having to travel for things while not trying to give in and drive everywhere, how to figure out that balance, that struggle.  If it’s not possible to get a job in the small town I moved too, how do I balance that out?  It’s draining, on the environment, on the wallet, on the emotional realm.  When I have to spend so much time traveling it wears on my mental reserves.

One of the ways I’ve  tried to balance this is to become very efficient with my activities.  If I’m in Penfield for an appointment, then I’ll hit the Target around the corner, or schedule hang time with a friend afterward, or swing by my parents because it’s on the way home.  If I have an evening meeting/hangout, I’ll kill  time in the city – visit my sister, visit a friend, pack a bag and hang at a coffee shop until the meeting, or schedule other things during the dead time between work and the meeting.  This gets hard because I feel displaced.  I’m okay with the sacrifice but that wears on me too.  And maybe that’s just something to get used.

And I keep threatening that I want to get a bike and start biking (Also because I keep getting tickets) But to bike anywhere from where I live (13.7 miles to my job for example) and further for anything, would sap a lot of time out of my day, which I think could be a really good thing, but it would also make my efficiency go to either a whole new level or get super fizzled and off kilter…

And then I take it a step further.  What about people that have to travel for their job?  I guess there was always that strain in a  town.  Whether it was just a small town isolated, there was still the traveling handy man, and there were probably two.  The good one and the swindler.  But now adays, multiply that a ton –  there are many many handy men out there, people can now specialize in different areas of the field, and probably different areas of the city.  But that then causes  the consumer to have to ask a remodeler/handyman/renovator to travel further to get to them which amplifies the strain (environment, fuel, etc).  That was one of my frustrations in an early job (you can see the post somewhere, I’ll link it eventually) We drove all over, back tracking and crossing paths again and again.  It felt so wasteful.

But then there’s the issue that I’ve personally struggled with even being out of college a good number of years now, is how do you build community and a base of friends?  I mean if my goal and value is to build community where I am and to invest there and drive less and everything, how do I get into and create this new community?  It’s timely and difficult that recently my church has moved out of it’s long overdue temporary location and is temporarily home now at the facility of the church we blended with.  This building is way the heck out in Pittsford, aka 30 miles away, aka 40 minute drive.  So that’s been another struggle for me to wrestle with.  And I think on one level it’s a good thing.  I really like my church though and don’t feel as though it’s time for me to move on to another church.  I mean goodness, I’ve invested in a mini-community within that church for a long time.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Hilton but I also want to invest and get connected here.  Now there are super local churches, and then there’s one that seems more up my alley that’s in Greece, but there’s this little bitty church 5 minutes down the road and most of the people there don’t live in Hilton!  Ugh.  And I have a small in there, my Uncle goes there and I’ve already helped them out a bit on some projects.  So I’m considering splitting my time between both churches but it’s that bigger struggle of values.

and then there’s this part.  The new urban pioneers and the new rural pioneers, there’s definitely a need and a place for these people.  because they’re doing what part of me wants to do.  They’re immersing themselves in their community and focusing on being sustainable and ecological and conscientious of the impact of their actions on things.  so on that level, go them!  and also, I am still looking for where I settle once I get things sorted out.

I’ve struggled writing and finishing this post because there’s much more connected to it, and I think it’s healthy for it to be a continuous struggle.  But there’s many layers and it’s hard to sort it out and wrap my head around it.

I think I’ll continue to try and extrapolate on this, but I would love to hear other people’s perspectives on this.



i’m sorry.
April 19, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hi,

I don’t like to post about politics.  And I know I probably have said that before and then posted about politics.  But we’re going to take a brief break from the scintillating post I’m still composing and I’m going get frustrated.

First off, I am really annoyed with the juvenile people we have running our country and our states.  A few years back, NY’s senate or assembly threw a coup détat!  For God’s sake, this is a democracy.  And there’s weird politics in there because the freshmen politicians really have no say and who holds the power and whatever.  Someone explained it once and with my absolute love of politics(ha), I only retained the jist of it.

And then Wisconsin’s democrats go and hide!  They hide because they don’t want to vote.  I’m sorry, are we in kindergarten?  How is that being a responsible adult who shows up and does their job.  Seriously???

And then the jerks running the whole country are too busy pissing over 1% of the budget that they threaten to shut the government down, which only affects the people who actually need the money, God forbid the congressmen/senate doesn’t get paid.  Ugh.  It’s not a flipping beauty contest, idiots!

Secondly, We’ve got this friggin’ deficit.  We’re basically printing money in order to pay it.  The people who hold the notes on our debt?  China and Japan.  Have you read the news recently?  Japan just had a HUGE DISASTER.  Guess who’ll probably start calling on their notes soon.   Someone’s gotta rebuild the country.

Now, this part gets complex and forgive me, I don’t know much.  But if there’s a deficit, maybe we should pull back and focus on our country.  I understand there are Horrific things happening around the world and for many many many years the US and Britain and all those sorts of countries have helped out other oppressed people by stepping in with democracy and helping out the little guys.  Sometimes we have our eyes closed and aren’t paying attention (Rwanda, i think) or are serving our best interests (by supporting the bad guy in power because he wasn’t that bad)  But bring it to a smaller scale.  If you were someone who helped battered women and fed the poor and your house was being foreclosed on and your children were starting to be the poor as well, wouldn’t you try to pull back a little (which would break your heart) because you have your children to think of?

So, I say, cut military spending instead of school spending.  And yes, there are a TON of really good programs out there and it’s going to be really hard on all of them.  Everyone’s gotta take one for the team.  The damn politicians are delusional enough to think that somethings won’t have to suffer, or else they want their constituents to believe that somethings won’t have to suffer but come on, we all feel it in our personal budgets, you gotta sacrifice.  So man up and figure out the best way to sacrifice while still doing the most good.  Instead of serving your political parties.

Anyway, if you follow the rabbit trail of cutting spending and pulling back there’s a HUGE paradigm shift that follows.  If we really pulled out and back and sort of shrank into ourselves to fix what’s going on in our nation that’s not booming anymore, we’re not really growing anymore, it’s a HUGE shift.  And we’d definitely have to go into a recession/depression.  Because lots of stuff would have to be cut/decreased/changed.  And with cuts, people lose jobs, and with job loss, people stop spending and when they stop spending the economy takes a nose dive.  But that’s gotta happen.  You can’t truly believe you can create jobs and boost the economy while cutting the deficit right?

And another thing, The government should (well, they should freeze their pay.  School districts are doing that…) But the Government should tell the top economic people – you got us into this mess with credit and all that shit, figure out a way to get us out of it.

And a semi scary thing to note is, if we really do every go for that paradigm shift of “the US won’t play rescuer anymore”  Who does that leave in the “power” seat?  Europe sorta, but they’re all having their own issues.  So when the non-colonizing (at least in the last 50-100 years), democrat countries pull out and tend to their “houses, who’s left?  China.  China, the communist, definitely interested in colonization country.  It could be fine, truly.  But that’s a daunting thing because it’s so different.

Different isn’t always bad, sometimes it’s just unfathomable and that’s what makes it uncomfortable.  But the US is starting to fall apart.

Something’s gotta give.

(sorry for any inaccuracies or any gross simplification of problems.  I do realize everything is way too complex but I think the idea still stands and has a decent amount of credibility)



digression
April 12, 2011, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve found talking to some people around my workplace about their dreams or things they want to accomplish and I get surprised by the specificity of the dream/idea and how that actually shackles them.

Now, don’t assume that I don’t ever do this, I do.  But I guess it makes me sad because the people are missing out.  I think half of my dreams/ideas flounder with this mentality (explained below) and add to that a self defeating mind set and poof, everything’s at a stand still and I won’t ever reach that goal.

So, what I mean by “get surprised by the specificity of the dream/idea” is this.  Their idea is so specific and so much of a niche that there’s no way to really access the idea unless they’re willing to do the general grunt work to start working towards the dream/idea.  They need such specific circumstances to get near it that can’t happen in real life.  “If only there was more time, more pressure, more inclination.  If only I had more this or that carrot dangling in front of me. The right this or that.”  It seems that that might even be a self defeating way to not have to get into the dream.

Now, I do this too.  I want to get back in shape.  I was a really active girl growing up and did sports in high school and stayed active in college.  I’m more of a real life exercise kinda gal than someone who’ll go to a gym.  My current job isn’t that active so I’m feeling more and more out of shape.  So, here’s the example.  I want to get back in shape but I don’t have this circumstance or that incentive.  I don’t have people near me to work out with or the motivation to follow through.  and it goes on and on.  I think this is a little different of a circumstance but it gets the point across.

But some people want to get into their dream, but they won’t take a slightly curvy path to get there.  Heck, sometimes they won’t even take the path, they just want to be there at their dream.  Hello?  if you want to do business stuff but don’t have $100,000 to your name and a business degree, get into jobs where you can learn business skills through osmosis.  Cozy up to experiences that will give you business savvy.  Start saving money from your “not quite spot on job” because that’s how it’s gonna get you to where you want to go.  And I understand the risk of loosing site of the bigger picture and getting caught up in a gross job that feels like it’s killing your soul, I get that.  I really do.

It’s just, do the footwork!  Start researching at least.  Figure out what’s actually available to you.  I did that with a business idea.  And maybe I’m the exception to the rule.  I am willing to do that preliminary research, see where the path starts, figure out if I have what’s required…. And sometimes I even hide behind the research and still can’t take that actual step, but i’m growing.

I guess the whole point is, it makes me sad (empathetic) for these people and their dreams and I hope one day they can be free to actually move towards the dreams.  I hope some day I feel free enough to move towards regular exercise too.



Vegetarian
April 7, 2011, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey,

So I’m finally finishing up Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I’ve been reading it on and off.  I really enjoy the author because, I feel, he investigates to learn more about our food systems and what not and gives a fairly balanced moderate view.  Balanced and informed.

And, as a vegetarian, I still eat eggs and cheese.  I initally because a veg because I wanted a healthier lifestyle.  And then I wanted to support a better food system so I try to buy local products, vegetables locally, etc.  And I want a healthy body so I go for more natural product etc.  And so I’ve given thought to eggs saying, grass fed/free range/cage free egg laying chickens are better because that’s a healthier lifestyle.  I never knew how commercial/industrial/corporate egg laying chickens lived though.

I was shocked.

I’m not going to get all dramatic on you and blast the page with the horror, albeit i do feel it’s the worst of all the industrial animal systems.  But I didn’t realize they were confined to cages that were too tiny for them to stretch in and they’d freak out and harm themselves because of the quarters they’re confined to.  😦  Not cool.  And as a vegetarian, I still supported the industrial egg world for a long time because I figured, they’re eggs, not as big/harmful a deal.  Well, my eyes have been opened and let me just say, I was shocked.