Thursday, June 22, 2017

Recycling Plastic Bags

At a recent meeting of the Burke County Democratic Party Environmental Committee, we were discussing the recycling of plastic bags.  Just about every grocery store now has bins for taking your grocery bags to have them recycled.  Which is awesome.  I rarely use the grocery store bags, I take my own reusable bags.  But occasionally I forget or I am out and need to stop at the store and don't have a bag with me, so I do build up a little supply of the plastic and paper grocery bags.  I use them in the tiny bathroom trash cans and I had mentioned that I use them to crochet with occasionally, although that is harder than it looks.  I also used them as covers for my art journals.  I enjoy painting but much of the time I just don't have enough time for large projects so I keep an art journal and try to take 15-120 minutes a day to do something in it.  Nothing specific or planned out, just spontaneous random art that makes me happy.



Anyway, back to the cover, I use the plastic grocery bags and kind of fuse them together for a cover. I start with an iron set at a medium setting, and I generally adjust the heat as I go along.  Cut the bags and layer three bags between two sheets of parchment paper, lightly move the iron over the sheets until they are fused together.  I then add different colors of bags and more bags as I go along to get the thickness I want and the size I need.  Cut it down to the size you are looking for and it is great.  I think it adds to the recycled style of the journal as I use paper grocery bags, cut down, for the paper inside and I use bits and pieces of junk mail and magazines in my work.  So it all feels very recycled and loved.

I use an easy 5 hole pamphlet stitch for the binding, and here is a great video for that, if you are interested.



So here are pictures of my art journal, inside and out.  Sorry for the glare, I took these quick pics with my phone:



















Friday, June 16, 2017

Leachate...what is that?

Do you know what leachate is? No, me neither. I had to look that one up. Leachate is water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leachate  Why am I concerned about leachate? In reading through a few current bills before the North Carolina House of Representatives, I ran across House Bill 576, Allow Aerosolization of Leachate. This bill outlines what to do with leachate, or waste drainage water, from landfills. So, let that sink in for a minute, think of everything you throw away in your trash on a daily or weekly basis. Think about your neighbors with babies, or elderly populations. Think about the pets, think about food waste, just think about what goes into the landfill each day. And when it rains and filters through all that waste, the leachate is the result. 

That is the first part of the process. Now aerosolization, involves spraying this untreated leachate into the air, allowing any solid particles to settle and the water to evaporate. Now for a moment, think back to recent forest fires. I know here at my house, even though the fires were many miles away, the wind carried the smoke, making it difficult to breath. And then the ash in the smoke settled on everything. I thought about this when I was thinking about House Bill 576. If this putrid liquid run off from all the rotting, disintegrating trash is sprayed into the air, what keeps it at the landfill, preventing the wind from carrying it to neighboring property? Do I really want this blowing over to my house, settling on the land where I grow vegetables to feed my family, lakes in which we fish and swim? Who guarantees the quality of well water? These are important questions.

I read some more about leachate, wondering how long bacteria and viruses can survive, will that present a health risk when aerosolizing leachate. Really, I couldn’t find much. I did read one research paper from the Environmental Protection Agency (remember this is an agency that has been threatened with elimination) that states "This study showed that live infectious viral agents can persist for days, weeks, even months in the landfill leachate under certain environmental conditions."https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_report.cfm?dirEntryId=335601 

This bill has me concerned. Oversight of this activity in North Carolina falls under the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), here in North Carolina. The DEQ is an agency under attack by the North Carolina Budget proposals, some of our representatives in Raleigh would like to slash the DEQ budget. Is there anyone in Raleigh looking out for the best interests of the people? I am starting to think we need an overhaul of the General Assembly. Find and elect people who care about those they serve. People who have not lost touch with living in a rural community. Maybe it's time for a change. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Birthday Card

OK this is the birthday card that my boys made this year.  I LOVE it.  There was so much thought put into this card and it so speaks to my heart.   Here is the card:


The boys explained it like this... The moon represents their father.  The planet on the left is Mars, which represents my youngest son, Phillip.  He was born March 22 and is an Aries which has Mars as a ruling planet.  The planet on the right represents my oldest son, Dallen.  And even thought he is a Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon, they felt that their father's role in the family was more in line with the moon.  That big shining Sun on the card is me.  And my son said "mom that sun is you because you are the center of this family and you hold the family together."  That sentiment just brought tears to my eyes.  I have such an amazing family, so thoughtful and caring.  It feels so amazing to be surrounded by so much love.  My heart and my house are full of love.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Charmed Life

I have been told by more than one person, on more than one occasion, that I lead a "charmed" life.  I think it was meant as a compliment, although I am not positive.  It made me really think about my life.  I would not necessarily think I lead a charmed life.  First off I think that phrase leads a person to believe that her life is not in her own hands.  Like my life has turned out the way it has by chance, or because I had some magical upbringing.  I assure you, I did not.  I grew up poor, as so many of us did.  My parents often times struggled to make ends meet, although they did not discuss financial matters with my brothers and I.  But even so, as kids, we picked up on those things.

I also lost both of my parents, tragically, when I was younger.  I had just turned 29, and my oldest son was not quite a year old when my mother died in a car accident, and I was 30 when my father died by suicide.  I am 50 now, and have no parents or grandparents.  I have navigated parenting without my mother to call for advice or a shoulder to cry on.  Not sure it sounds like a charmed life.

My personality, however, is one to pick up and keep moving forward.  So even though I have had tragedies in my life, I have always worked though those and found the joy in my today.  I can hold grief for what I have lost, and joy in what I have, in my heart at the same time.  I choose not to live in fear and grief, although I have my moments.

I really believe that we make our own choices in life.  I am not one to live with regret, or in a place of martyrdom.  I take my own joy and happiness in my own hands, it isn't up to someone else to make me happy or ensure that today is a joy-filled day.  I do that myself by the choices I make.  I outline my future, I choose how to respond to events, I choose what I want today, I make things happen in my life, I choose my relationships. Not a mythical being, or magic, or fate or chance.

I think relationships are huge. Even as an introvert, the people I choose to have in my life, add to my life, they are people that inspire me, that I enjoy being around.  If a relationship is one sided, shouldn't we be asking ourselves why we continue in that environment.  Not all my friends are alike, they don't think the same, have the same hobbies and passions, they have such differing views.  But they all add to my life, and the joy of my life.  Some are friends that I have had for YEARS, and some are newer friendships.  I just don't hang onto friendships that are draining, or one sided, or feel like they are bringing me down, sucking my energy.  That doesn't serve me well, and it doesn't serve my family well.

So I work hard to have a life I enjoy, that stays on target with my deeper ideals.  I make a point of staying in touch with friends, and seeking out new opportunities for growth and new friendships.  I want to live a joy filled life.  I plan for tomorrow and live in today.  So it might look like I have a charmed life.  But I can tell you that I don't, there is no magic involved.  I work for the life I have, and choose how to respond to situations.

Anyone can live a life like that.  It won't look like my life, it will look like your life.  Take some time to think about what you want in your life that you don't have now.  There are so many books out there to help you see that life, and work out a plan to make things happen.   There is no fate.  Live your joy-filled life.  Live the life that makes you happy and makes other people think YOU live a "charmed" life.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Reproductive Rights are NEGOTIABLE?

"To recap: On Wednesday, Sanders gave an interview in which he said that he “didn’t know” if Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who the day before had earned more than 48 percent of the primary vote in a longtime Republican House district in Georgia, was a progressive......Sanders’s definition of what constitutes a progressive became even murkier when he suggested that the election of Heath Mello, who’s running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska — and who as a state senator sponsored a 20-week abortion ban and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions — would represent a “shot across the board, that in a state like Nebraska a progressive Democrat can win.” Not to be outdone, Perez amplified the message that reproductive rights are negotiable for the Democratic Party. " (http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/04/bernie-sanders-and-tom-perez-must-not-abandon-womens-rights.html)

When did the Democratic party decide that women's rights are negotiable?  Women, according the the 2010 census, make up over 50% of the United States population and yes there my party goes, throwing us under the bus.  And how exactly is that "progressive", a term that Bernie Sanders loves to embrace with all his might. When I look up the word progressive in the dictionary I see "favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters." (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/progressive?s=t) So how can anyone call themselves progressive and not stand firm on a woman's right to autonomy over her own body.  Economic issues are non negotiable but basic human rights to self determination are up for grabs.

A woman's right to choose when and where she wants to start a family, or not at all, are core to her social and economic standing.  Why do men find it so easy to negotiate about women.  Why is it OK to throw 50.8% of the population under the bus rather than take a stand for what is right.  If we were talking about a man's right to autonomy, things would be different.  And, in fact they are.  A man has complete autonomy over his body, to the detriment of women.  Men easily get a "pass" for rape, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse, sexual assault just because they are men.  We excuse this behavior and men are allowed complete control.  And yet women are still struggling for this same basic right.

I think it is crucial to remember this, when we think about the equal rights amendment.  So many people think it has already been ratified, but it has not.  And yes, North Carolina, the state I love and call home, is one of those states that refuses to ratify the ERA.  In doing so, that would mean that women are indeed equal to men, and would have the same rights and protections under the law.  We can't have that happen, can we.

As we erode the right of women to have autonomy with regard to abortion decisions, and contraceptive decisions, we tear at the very heart of what it means to be equal. One day we will wake up and have no rights at all.  We are moving backward. And not speaking the word abortion does not make it go away.

So I would challenge everyone to think about what the word progressive really means before you jump on that bandwagon.  The word is slowly losing any meaning it once had, and will end up in the pile of overused words, like "natural" or "organic".  So watered down that anyone and everyone will be calling themselves progressive.  If you are only moving forward on a few issues, and moving backward on others, aren't you really standing still.  Until everyone has the right to affordable, COMPREHENSIVE, accessible, safe medical care, including everything the medical community has to offer, we are not equal.  Until women have complete autonomy over their own bodies, we are not equal.

Reproductive autonomy is crucial, and not negotiable.  Winning a state while throwing women away is not the way to go.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Common Ground

This T shirt has become one of my favorite shirts these days.  First off my husband bought it for me when we visited Maine a couple of years ago and attended the fair.  I remember this fair (much much smaller) when I was a child and loved it then.  I wanted to bring my boys to see the fair.  So different from what you would expect at a Maine fair.  I just loved it, I want to go every year, although that isn't really possible with all of the other trips we want to make, but you get the picture.  It is wonderful to be around so many like minded people.  Love the whole environment.

But it is also my favorite shirt for other reasons.  It serves as a reminder to me that we all do share common ground.  Not only the ground we walk on, but the community in which we live and the world around us. When we take the time to talk to each other, we will find that we have more in common that we thought, and finding that common ground gives us a place to start to build a relationship.  I have always found the idea of seeking out the common ground to be true, in my family, in my community and with complete strangers. You all know what an introvert I am, so talking to strangers is difficult, but when you can find that common ground, it makes conversations that much easier.

I think we all need to remember common ground, as we go about our day.  In difficult situations as well as the easy ones. Relate to people, build a relationship.  Even if it is a relationship that will only last the five minutes we are together, make it real, make that connection, find that common ground.

Have a great day all!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Getting Back to Meditation

I am getting back to my meditation practice. Over the years I have gone months on and off with meditation. It seems like when I am feeling busy in my life, meditation is the first thing I cut out.  Which, ironically is the last thing I should cut out.  It is a peaceful time of emptying my mind and just being in the moment in my space. The same thing used to happen with any form of exercise, which is meditative for me as well.  But as soon as I feel busy, exercise used to be the first thing I would eliminate.  I made the promise to myself about exercise and have kept that promise for over three years now.  So I am ready to make the same promise to myself about meditation.  I mean when I think of all the excuses, there really is NO excuse I can think of to not take even five minutes for myself in meditation.  So that is my promise, five minutes, at least.

I have been back meditating now for three days, and even five minutes is hard.  And I remember this feeling before, that "newbie" feeling, when all of a sudden, when you are still, every thought you have ever had seems to find its way to the surface and demand your attention.  I bring myself back to my breath and let the thought float away like a leaf on a stream.  Not sure where I picked up that visualization but it helps, to visualize your thought as a leaf that floats down from a tree to the surface of a stream and is carried away.  It helps to clear my mind, making it easier to come back to my breath.  But man, right now there are just a lot of leaves in there. I know it will get better, and it will be easier to find that empty space.

I have always enjoyed meditation.  ESPECIALLY when life is busy, to clear it all away and just breath, even for a few minutes.

If you have never meditated before it is pretty simple.  Here is a great link with easy steps to start.   https://zenhabits.net/meditation-guide/

I hope you enjoy your meditation practice and find it useful!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sitting Bear Mountain Hike

This was actually a pretty easy hike, we hiked from Gingercake Acres up to Sitting Bear Mountain.  Great views all around.  Couple of great overnight camp sites that I will remember for warmer weather.  This is a hike Jackson wanted to do as he wanted to hike all the mountains in the area.  We had already done Shortoff Mtn, and Table Rock, Hawksbill and I can't remember if there are any more right in this area, but this was the last of them for Jackson.  Great couple of hours on Sunday afternoon.











Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Knitted Hood Pattern

This is one I made for my son, Phillip, for Christmas this past year.  And yes, I am just now getting around to getting the pattern out of my journal and up on my blog.



 He really likes this and has requested a second hood, so I will be making another soon (well maybe by next winter).

Size 7 circular needles (for most people this will end up being a size 9 as I knit loose)
Stitch markers
Tape measure
2 skeins of Madelinetosh  Tosh Vintage the color I used is Oscuro (300 yards is what I used in total in case you go with a different yarn)

Gauge: 9 st = 2 inches, 12 rows = 2 inches (although the row gauge really isn't important)

Abbreviations:
K = Knit
P = Purl
K2tog = Knit two together
SSK = Slip Slip Knit
st = stitches

Cast on 100 stitches, place marker and begin knitting in the round.
Row 1: K1, P1 around
Row 2: K
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 1 3/4 inches ending with row 2

Knit every round now for a total of 4 inches from beginning of work.

Now we stop knitting in the round and work back and forth.

Row 1: P
Row 2: K2tog, knit to the last 2 st, SSK the last 2 st (total decrease 2 st)
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 86 st on your needle, ending with row 2.
Row 3: P
Row 4: K
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have a total of 16 inches, including the beginning ribbing.
Cut yarn leaving about a 3 foot tail.  Divide stitches 43 stitches on each end of the circular needle.  Kitchener stitch the top closed using the two ends of your circular needle (43 st each end).  I hope that makes sense.

Now you will see the basic form, the ribbing you started with is the neck.  The face opening is a basic shape that rolls in right now.

Pick up 96 st evenly spaced around the face opening.  Start under the chin at the bottom of the opening. Place marker and begin knitting in the round.
Row 1: K1, P1 repeat around
Row 2: K
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 1 3/4 inches.  End with row 2. Bind off loosely, work in ends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stop and Be in the Moment

All week I have had an uneasy feeling in my gut.  A nervous, unsettling feeling, like something is just not right, something is off in my world.  But there seems to be nothing really "wrong" or off that I can find.  So I am just sitting with that feeling and keeping an eye out on my world, and the people in it.

I say this because yesterday I was driving in town, as I do every day, heading to work out.  And I stopped in the middle of town at a crosswalk because I mourning dove was crossing the road.  Yes a bird, a mourning dove specifically.  No she wasn't flying, she was walking across the street, using the crosswalk.  She didn't appear to be injured, and she didn't stop when she saw me coming.  I guess she knew that I would stop.

Is this a sign, who knows?  But it did make me stop for just a moment, get out of my head and enjoy this moment right here in front of me.  The beauty of the bird.  The oddity of stopping to let the bird cross the road.  And the humor in the bird using the crosswalk.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March on Morganton

I was so happy with how the Women's March on Morganton turned out this past Saturday.  It was so much larger than I ever expected and so many people from different walks of life.  I loved it.  I volunteer for Moms Rising, and I paired up with the Democratic Party in Burke County to pull this march together.  I think we made a great team.  It was a non partisan event, and people were so enthusiastic.  We had an estimated 600 marchers.  For this introvert it was amazing and a little overwhelming at times, but I made it though (I knew I would) These are my favorite three photos of the day, and I am sure you can guess why.




My boys started out marching for me, but by the end they were marching for so much more.  And they are so enthusiastic now to really be more of a part of the process.  I keep my sign here by my desk to remind me daily that there is work to do.

There is momentum to continue, so we are following the guidelines from the Women's March on Washington and we have postcard writing events planned already.  Of course, I have already written, called and e mailed my representatives to let them know how I think and feel, but for others this might be their first time.  And for still others I know the march was probably the extent of their political involvement, which is totally fine with me.  It takes all of us to make a movement.  

I do see friends on social media, backing away.  There is that "I need to take a break" post, that arrives to announce ON social media, that the person is not going to be ON social media.  While that seems like an oxymoron of sorts to me, I do understand that desire to retreat from the difficult discussions, the uncomfortable posts.  The posts from people you thought you knew, expressing ideas you never thought they would have.  So I get that need to retreat to your own place of peace, to get "offline" for a while, turn off the computer and the TV and dive into your family and the peace you have in your immediate world.  But while people are doing this, I hope they also remember that for so many this is their life, this is their immediate world, this is where they live, there is no peace.  They can't just retreat from social media and find that place of peace, as their world IS the chaos and turmoil that we see online.  Some people LIVE in these uncomfortable posts that we only view online.  The difficult discussions are their reality, their lives.  So while you retreat to your place of peace, be thinking about those people and at the very least maybe appreciate that you have a space to find solace.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

North Carolina General Assembly...Back to Work Wednesday

The NC General Assembly is back at work tomorrow, Wednesday, January 11.  Most of you know that I e mail my legislators often.  And I will call if there is something immediate at hand.  But today I just took a moment to e mail my representatives in Raleigh a quick note with two issues that are concerns of mine.  I am sure I will have more as I see bills being filed, but for now, in the "just getting started" phase, I wanted to touch base.  This is the e mail I sent along.

I live here in Valdese and I know the legislative session is just getting started.  But, I wanted to take a minute of your time to talk about two passions of mine.  NC Raise the Age, and Mental Health/Suicide Prevention.

I know that North Carolina is one of only two states that still treats all 16 and 17 year old children, automatically as adults, within the justice system.  I am sure you are aware of all the research on brain development and that children's brains are not fully developed until their mid-twenties.  I just want to encourage you to do all you can to make sure that legislation is passed this session that would raise that age to 18.  I spoke at the Asheville Public Hearing of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, in August 2016, as did many others.  As the mother of two adult men, I am passionate that we give our youth every available opportunity to make successful, wonderful lives for themselves.  That we lift our youth up.  And I think it is vital that North Carolina makes progress in this area.  I know there are logistics to work out, financial, and the area of major crimes.  But I am sure, with your help, we can do what so many other states have done.  If they can do it, we certainly can.  So I encourage you, as bipartisan support for this movement grows, to be at the forefront of this change.

My second passion is mental health accessibility.   I admit that I am not well versed on how the legislative process works.  But I do want to share my story and my goal.  My father died by suicide in 1996.  And I grieve for him still.  There is such a public stigma attached to mental health, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  The only way to prevent suicide is for this to change, and for avenues of mental healthcare to expand.  So I hope you will remember my story as you move forward through this legislative session and do all that you can to ensure access to mental healthcare remains a priority and we advance initiatives in this area.  If you look at the statistics it is staggering and I hope you can help.  

Thank you for your time,
Pam Genant
Voter
Valdese, North Carolina

Monday, January 2, 2017

Journaling Throughout the Year

Anyone else out here journal?  I have so many journals, many not even touched. It is something I find hard to resist when I am out and about, a great journal.  And that means different things, it could be just wonderful paper either in color, or small details on the pages, or it could mean paper quality, like hand made paper or thicker paper.  I love the different covers, some are plain or simple, and some are ornate, decorated, or just the perfect color.  Some covers have sayings on them or just words.  I also look at bindings, I love a great handmade journal with a coptic  stitch binding so it lays flat.  Or just perforated pages that easily tear out without leaving a mess of straggly paper behind.

I use journals for so many things, to take notes on different topics, to write down herbal remedies.  Soap making recipes, my todo lists, knitting patterns and progress, my journal for my thoughts....I have different journals for different topics.  And I keep my older journals.  Most have nothing in there that would ever be of interest to anyone.  But I  know how much I enjoy running into something handwritten by my mom, so I keep them.

I just stumbled across something I thought I would try.  I found this list of ideas.  A collection of journal prompts to leave as a legacy.  One prompt per week.  The prompts are so interesting and thoughtful.  And I do journal daily, so thought this would fit in nicely.  I am sharing it here in case anyone else journals and is looking for ideas.  I found it on the Family Search Blog, this morning.   The title is 52 Questions in 52 Weeks.  

Here is a sneak peek at the first few prompts, please go to the page for the complete list: 
  1. What is your full name? Explain why your parents gave you that name.
  2. When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
  3. What memories do you have of your father (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on)?
  4. What memories do you have of your mother (her name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on)?
  5. What kind of work did your parents do (farmer, salesman, manager, seamstress, nurse, stay-at-home mom, professional, laborer, and so on)?
I see the promps as exactly what they are, starting points.  I can just visualize where I want to go from each one.  I think this will be a fun year of reflection for me.

So if you journal like I do, or if you don't but think this is a great reflection tool and something you would like to try, along with me, go check it out.  If you have a pile of journals just perfect for this particular project or if you have some scratch paper hanging around that you like to jot your grocery lists on, grab them.  You can use your fancy fountain pen that writes so smooth, or you can use the pencil you brought home after your last round of golf.  It doesn't matter.  The process is what matters most, getting the most out of the prompts, sitting down to put words to paper.  If you love that process you might enjoy this project.  So join me!