Archive for December 2010

Put Your Money Where Your Values Are   1 comment

This time of year the air is filled with… “donate now and save on your taxes.” The emphasis on donating near the end of the year has always amused me. The holidays are already busy, so why add the stress of last-minute charitable donations? For me personally, a system of donating throughout the year works quite well. With a few tweaks here and there I’ve been using the same system for the last decade.

After I graduated from college I quickly learned that it is really really easy to get inundated with requests for money from both good and questionable organizations, and that a strategy was necessary to balance limited money/requests for money. I decided to go with a charity-of-the-month type system. It allows me to donate small amounts of money to a variety of organizations; and it gives me time to research those organizations and an excuse to say “no” to the more questionable organizations.

How to select those 12-or-so organizations? That has been mostly half-hazard, and I’m not exactly satisfied with the current list. Every year I review the list, and it has evolved over time, but it really comes down to the fact that I’m not putting my money where my values are. At least not all of them.

In the category of education (and also the category of I-use-them-a-lot) is the local NPR station and Wikipedia. These are both invaluable to me on a daily basis, so I donate money to them. We don’t watch much PBS right now, but that may change in the future with kids.

We also give money to organizations that work to alleviate domestic and global poverty through active work, activism, grants and microfinance; that support victims of abuse; that provide college scholarships, and that support soldiers stationed abroad. Oh, and one environmental organization: California Native Plant Society, of which I am a member. Why haven’t I donated to Rocky Mountain Institute, or NRDC, or Environmental Working Group? I don’t know, since these are organizations that I support in theory. I do volunteer time with Weed Warriors/American River Parkway Foundation, but I haven’t donated any money.

And then there’s my church, which feels like a wallet vacuum cleaner, even though I know first hand that the money is desperately needed. It is definitely time for me to re-evaluate my list and make some changes.

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Posted December 11, 2010 by mayakey in money

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Carrot Time   Leave a comment

As far as snack time goes, today was officially the first day of winter. Over a year ago I overcame my cracker “addiction” to switch to fruit and vegetable snacks as part of my pre-pre pregnancy prep, and since I only eat what I can get at the farmer’s market that means carrots in the winter. ( When I cracked open my container of carrots this afternoon “U Can’t Touch This” popped into my head, but I can’t write out the tune, so I put it in the title instead.)

We’re lucky here in the Sacramento area to have several year-round farmer’s markets so that we can always eat seasonally locally. Not everything at the market is organic, but much is at least pesticide-free (the difference is that they haven’t gone through expense of certification or that they don’t follow other organic practices). I generally figure that even if they do use pesticides, smaller farmers probably use less than big monoculture farms. As a result, I focus more on eating local, rather than organic. In California the vendors at the farmer’s markets have to be from within the state, but stuff from southern CA is not exactly local to Sacramento. (That doesn’t stop us from buying the avocados, though). Most of the vendors at our market really are local and come from our county or a neighboring county. From the Delta to the Sierras that means multiple climate zones and growing seasons. So after tomatoes are done in the Delta, farmers in the Sierras still have several weeks of production. Thankfully that is true, because otherwise carrot snack season would have begun in early fall.

So I’ll have a few carrots (thin ones cut shorter, not “baby” carrots; scrubbed but not peeled to save time and maximize nutrients) every weekday from now until late spring. Then I will avoid carrots for a few months while feasting on snow peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. As part of my afternoon snack I also make myself eat fruit, which varies similarly. It’ll really be winter for my stomach when there are no more apples. Then I’ll have oranges/mandarins/etc and kiwis. Long after the time that I am thoroughly sick of anything orange-y or kiwi-esque, spring will bring cherries. That’s the light at the end of the orange tunnel. Cherries, and then apricots, plums, and nectarines. Heaven must have year round stone fruits. 🙂

Real Holiday Cards   4 comments

I know that many environmentalists are proud to announce that they do not send holiday cards but that they send virtual greetings instead. I’m not one of them. I’m proud to announce that I do send actual Christmas cards. Yes, they use paper and fuel, but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion.

For one thing, I love receiving cards. I love looking at pretty cards, reading the notes, and looking at any photos. It just feels good, and that’s what life is all about, right? I have gotten virtual greetings before (and I’ve used them, but mostly for birthdays), but there isn’t as much thrill. Since I love receiving the physical cards, I prefer to send out physical cards as well. That’s the same reason that I (occasionally) send handwritten cards to family and friends during the year.

Secondly, “it’s good for the economy”, as much as I am sick and tired of hearing that phrase. Someone got paid to make the card, someone will be paid to transport the card, and someone will be paid to deliver the card. Someone got paid to make the paper, someone got paid to design the card, … you get the point. Some card purchases also benefit a non-profit organization, too.

To modulate the environmental impact of sending cards buy some recycled paper or non-tree fiber paper cards printed with soy-based inks. Buy cards from a small printing company, small shop, fair trade store, non-profit organization, or make your own. Skip the glitter, foil, plastic inserts, and anything else that renders the card non-recycleable. Insert a photo if you want, but don’t weigh the card down too much (I think that rules out those singing cards, too; does anyone actually like receiving a singing card?). A heavier card means more fuel required during transportation. Yes, I know the plane is carrying thousands of cards but imagine if each of them weighed an extra half ounce; it adds up.

Enjoy!

Posted December 5, 2010 by mayakey in environment, psychology, resource use, shopping

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Seventy-Seven Times   Leave a comment

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 18:21-22

Posted December 4, 2010 by mayakey in quotes

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Where Is The Line Between Helpful Info And Not   Leave a comment

You know how sometimes a little knowledge is good, but too much knowledge gets in the way? I’m dealing with that situation right now, and trying to figure out where that line is. Unfortunately, like many things in life, there’s no hard and fast rule. Too much depends on circumstances, personalities, and other variables. It’s especially challenging when people of authority say one thing, and intuition says maybe another thing. Generally the only hard and fast rule that I follow is that intuition rules. But what about situations that are outside of past experience?

My dilemma is this: to track basal body temperatures or not.

Backstory: Way back when my husband and I decided that when we start trying to conceive, we would forgo any pregnancy tests and go back to the old fashioned miss-two-periods-then-go-to-the-doctor strategy. This was in the hope that it would reduce or at least modulate the emotional trauma of early miscarriages. We figured that if we don’t know we’re pregnant in the first place, then we’ll be less upset after a spontaneous abortion. However, then my best friend tipped me off to the Fertility Awareness Method, which I had expressed interest in but knew very little about. I immediately started practicing it and felt like a veil had been lifted from my eyes because of how much more self-knowledge I now have. For someone like me for whom knowledge is gold, intimate knowledge of my body’s cycles is irreplaceable. When we moved into our new house, I took a month off from tracking my fertility signs for various reasons, including not being able to print out a fresh log sheet. During that month, though, I felt lost in my own body and couldn’t wait for my next cycle to start so that I could start tracking again. Unfortunately, practicing FAM means that I can know very early when I may be pregnant, and probably have more related knowledge than your average woman. So much for not taking a pregnancy test!

On my last visit, my naturopath recommended that after confirming ovulation, I stop tracking for a while so that I don’t know whether or not I’m pregnant. She suggested it as a way to prevent/reduce stress. At first I thought it was a great idea, even my intuition felt that was the way to go. Then I remembered how much I hated that month that I didn’t track, and my intuition wavered. Would not tracking cause more stress than tracking? Maybe. After all, last time I didn’t panic because I wasn’t pregnant, I panicked when I thought I was and suddenly felt like it happened too fast. My intuition tells me that there’s no risk of stress if I do track, and a very real risk of stress if I don’t. But people of authority and people who have been through it say that there is risk of stress if I do track. After all, what do I know?

Intuition rules. That’s one of the guiding principles of my life. I cannot think of any instances when following my intuition had negative consequences. Trust myself. That’s another, related, principle. No one knows me better than me. And that includes “people of authority” and “people with experience”. They are not me.

So what’s the worst that happens if I do track? I get stressed, don’t get pregnant or lose the pregnancy, and we have to try again. What’s the worst that happens if I don’t track? I start a pregnancy feeling unhappy, lost, and uncomfortable in my own skin. Uh, right. Decision made.

Posted December 2, 2010 by mayakey in musings, pre-pregnancy

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