The Toilet Paper Times

frog-1037251_1280Usually I don’t read the monthly National Resources Defense Council newsletter “The Voice.”  You know..the too busy thing, don’t want to be depressed.  This time I read it and was shocked by their feature-length article “From Trees to toilet Paper:  Canada’s Great Boreal Forest is Being Wiped Out.”  Pardon me, I never thought I’d be blogging about toilet paper but this information I felt should be shared.

The gist of the article is that to fuel  all our wiping and sneezing needs, the major suppliers of toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue suppliers are purchasing ALL forestry-960806_1920their content from virgin timber in the from the N. Boreal forests of Canada, the “lungs of N. America” Essentially they are wiping out a major ecosystem and contributing to climate change rather than investing in recycled content or alternatives such as bamboo and wheat straw.  About a million acres are logged a year for tissue and other disposable products.  Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly –Clark & Georgia Pacific thus far use ZERO recycled content.  Costco gets their tissue from the main suppliers.

This is one thing we can do to help climate change and the planet-  change your toilet tissue brand and make your voice be heard.  Yes, it is more expensive to buy 7th Generation or equivalent tissue, but investing in Mother Earth is worth it.  I think if all the products we used had labels listed their carbon footprints, we would all be more conscious consumers.

To read the full feature-length report online including a more detailed buying guide than the one below go here.  Contact COSTCO at Costco.com.  To make your voice heard to Procter and Gamble (1 minute of your time) go here.

Here’s a copy of my letter to Costco you can use:

Recently I became aware that your Kirkland brand toilet tissue and paper towels received an F grade in sustainability.  Kirkland facial tissues received a D.  The production of your tissue products as with all major manufacturers is having devastating effects on the Northern Boreal Forest.  I am switching to brands that are made mostly of recycled content.  As a major supplier of tissue, you have an obligation to be more environmentally conscious, set an example, and give consumers the option to buy sustainable products. I am sharing this information with friends, acquaintances. Please read more about the devastation that toilet paper production is having at nrdc.org/tissues.

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FOMO vs JOMO

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“It’s a FOMO thing”, my new 22-year-old teaching teammate responded.  I had noticed her phone on top of the copy machine as she was running copies for the day and I asked why she had it always within arm’s reach.  “FOMO?” I asked.  Close to retirement, I was not literate to millennial buzz words.  “Fear of missing out.” She responded, not missing a beat. I remembered that feeling in high school and college but now it meant in a social media sense as well.  The whole posting, sharing, liking, commenting, and texting thing was sort of passing me by.

Since that time I have become a smartphone user.  For a while, I dipped my big toe in the world of Instagram and Facebook and I text when needed. As an artist, the word is “document, share, share, share, like, like, like”.  But being a person easily distracted and easily overstimulated I backed off the social media thing.  As a maker who does not have to make a living from my art, now I keep it to a bare minimum.  I am not  ”branded” so to speak. The trade-off is enjoying being in the moment.

The FOMO thing came back to me in another incarnation two weeks ago when I was at Craiceann, the weeklong bodhran camp I attended in Ireland (see my previous post).  After a full day of classes and activities, I was pretty wiped-out. Being an introvert and in my 60s, I need a lot of recharge time and a good night’s sleep.  I knew if I went out to catch the great music at the pubs that started at 9 PM and join in I would be a mess for my classes the next morning.  It was difficult knowing what fun I was missing out on, especially hearing about it the next day from my new friends.  I decided to compromise, making a deal with myself to go out the last evening for some late night fun.

Herein lies the concept of “JOMO,” the joy of missing out (this word was coined some free-time-2040679_1920years after FOMO). When we are so involved with FOMO & social connections we miss out on ourselves.  We have no time to reflect, breath, savor, & notice.  Those nights I stayed in were so lovely.  I wrote in my journal, read, took dreamy walks at sunset and went to bed at a decent hour.  I have no regrets.  The last night I did go out and had great fun out playing in a pub.  I rolled into bed at 3 AM exhausted.  That was a great memory too but I suffered for it during my two days of travel time back to Oregon and had horrible jet lag after.

I’m glad I respected myself with a JOMO mindset during my holiday, not missing out on my own well-being (with that one exception).  Sometimes missing out can offer the greatest gifts.

A view from one of my walks

MISSING OUT

You missed out on all the music

Yes, but did you see the patterns of clouds dancing overhead?

You missed out on all the fun

Yes, but did you see the swallows dart about in the evening sky?

The spotted horse grazing peacefully in the paddock?

The hush of the summer evening?

The sea breeze blowing through my hair?

The long light of midsummer?

Yes, I’m afraid you missed out.

 

For the music I didn’t miss out on click here!

 

 

 

Between the Beats: Six days at a Bodhran Camp in Ireland

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Two years ago when I purchased a bodhran (an Irish drum pronounced “baren”) during

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Kathy Jordan playing the Bodhrán with Dervish at the Birmingham 2016 TradFest. Photo: Bob Singer

travels in Ireland, I was also told about Craiceann (pronounced “Cracken”) an annual summer camp for bodhran and aspiring bodhran players on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands.  It sounded like an experience not to be missed.  I swore to myself that in two years I would return as a participant. I did just that last week with a much better bodhran in my possession and enough online experience to qualify myself as an advanced beginner.

I arrived via ferry to join about 90 other souls coming together to celebrate this instrument which provides the percussion part of much of Irish music.  The bodhran is a rapidly evolving instrument that began as a img_2669goatskin over a wood frame, beaten with the hand. Now it’s evolved to a more sophisticated, tuneable drum that is played with a tipper, or beater made from wood or bamboo.  Currently, it is finding its way out of Irish traditional music into other genres. The better players perform solo as well as part with of a band.

Ireland is a land full of soul, spirit, rich history and culture. All of that comes out in its lively music often with some sort of combination of fiddle, guitar, mandolin, concertina, accordion, penny whistle, bodhran, singing and sometimes more. I wanted to play bodhran simply to be able to be involved in Irish img_2711music sessions, which are informal gatherings of musicians playing Irish music- usually in a pub.  As I am not skilled enough on guitar I thought this percussive instrument would be a relatively quick avenue in. Well, yes and no. As with any simple looking thing, there is a myriad of complexities to be mastered not to be seen at first glance.

The week far exceeded my expectations.  There were three-hour classes a day taught byimg_2726-1 some of the finest players in the world, plus special lectures and performances.  I met students from all over the world including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, Germany, Brazil, and all over the US. Quite surprisingly there were a fair number of older women as myself coming solo.  It was an easy place to make new friends. At night if you had the energy the three pubs on the island were full of musicians playing traditional Irish music and you were welcome to drum along. In Ireland music is not just a spectator sport. I saved my energy for the last night and rolled into bed at 3 AM exhausted and bleary-eyed for the last day of classes (as with everyone else).

img_2729-1.jpgThe island of Inis Oirr was a delight in itself. It is only 4 miles in circumference and has about 200 permanent residents. Irish is the first language of many of the residents. Like the other two Aran Islands, it is made of limestone and is divided by a web of limestone “fences”  that serve both as enclosures for livestock as well as places to deposit rocks when fields are being cleared. The weather was fine and sunny during the week giving the opportunity to take many scenic walks and explore ruins from pre-Christian to early Christian times.  The wildflowers were blooming, some being only native to the islandsimg_2728-1 like the pyramid Orchid. There was a lovely swimming beach and on the last morning, despite my late night, I went for a swim in the chilly, turquoise water of the North Atlantic – a spiritual end to my stay.

On my return, I am trying to digest the huge volume of information picked up from over 15 hours worth of lessons and presentations.  This Tuesday night I will return to the Irish session I’ve attended at a local pub hopefully a better bodhran player. I will never be a great player but that’s not my intention. Learning and playing music with others is the goal.  I traveled thousands of miles to become more proficient but also to be with people of like mind who appreciate this instrument and Irish music.   It was magical.

Now being a part of the music at home and keeping the beat is enough for me.

P.S. To see videos of Craiceann performances go here 

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A Walk Through Scotland With Friends

WALKING THROUGH SCOTLAND

In the company of friends

And the rhythm of sticks

I spy a blue fly on green fern

Sheep grazing in the distance

Tufts of wool dangling from fences

Bluebells line the path with yellow anenome,

Purple geranium, wild rose, ferns

and blossoms of which I have no name

Rain falls from heavy clouds

White water spills over the faces of dark rocks

Into bubbling pools

The land begs verse

We end each day foot weary but filled

Seeing more by seeing less

We end each day bedding at inns in quaint towns

Savoring warm bowls of soup

And cups of hot tea

Traveling to the Beat of my own Drum

I’m off on a new adventure. Since I am just limited to my cell phone and I am thumb impaired, I will be sharing my experiences via my written journal- hopefully readable!

It all started with an idea 

manifesting

to a penciled entry on my calendar

Later changing to ink.

As the date drew closer and closer

Loose ends started appearing everywhere

Coming out of crevices

I didn’t know existed.

I tripped repeatedly over them

And as one grabbed my ankle

I fell into a vortex

Of whirling procrastination.

Round and round I went

Until I grabbed the

Dangling loose ends

Pulled myself up

Then tied them all together in a tight knot.

I finished gathering all my belongings

And left.

Breathless, I found my seat, buckled up

And sighed with relief.

The door closed

We taxied and took off.

Peering below were a few more loose ends

Shrinking in the distance

Gyrating like frustrated cobras

Trying to bite me.

But it was too late

I was off.

The above poem was published on my blog in June 2017 before I left for Ireland.

Looking for Nirvana

IMG_2156A mistake I thought as we pulled up in our U-Haul truck to our recently purchased farmhouse in rural Oregon.  That was on a cold, dismal rainy day in 1993. The place was overgrown and sad looking.  When we entered, the previous owners had not cleaned.  The house smelled of their chain-smoking.  There was no choice but to get to work.

We froze for the first two winters. Eventually, we got the place cleaned up, insulated and a new heating system installed. Only then could we start thinking about cosmetic kitchen4improvements.  Our son started first grade at the small school across the road.

My husband had been in a depression and said he would be happy if he could live in the country.  As for me, I had lost track of how many moves I’d experienced since leaving home at 19.  After university, I was like a tumbleweed in search of Nirvana, working seasonally in far-flung places of Alaska for the better part of 10 years.  Now, with a young son in tow, I was ready to put down roots, even if the house and the town weren’t perfect.

My now ex-husband moved on after a few years.  He was wrong. Living in the country did not make him happy.  Happiness is an inside job.  I realized that though and I married myself to this place determined to build a life for myself and my son.

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Bandit

That was 26 years ago this May 31st.  The house is now cute, cozy, with a big garden & lots of roses. The generic rural area has now become “The Wine Country.” I am interwoven into the fabric of the community and have great friends.  I know the names of the UPS guy, the mail lady, the receptionist at the pool, many business owners, and the birds that frequent the feeder.  Another, more suitable man, shares my life as well as my old dog, Bandit.  Then there are the sweet memories of the dogs and cats that have passed before him. My son grew up but lives relatively close by and thinks of this as home. In this place, my hair has grayed.  In this place, I grew to be at home in my own skin.

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Dougie RIP

 

I finally found Nirvana.

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My Home

Was built on the dreams of  the Kalapuia Indians

Looking for game and camas root to feed their families

Of weary pioneers ready to cease their westbound journey

Of dairy farmers looking to build a livelihood

Of generations of families

Looking for a peaceful life

Including my ownIMG_0531

 

The forest & oak savannah

Have long been cut down

Giving way to field and orchard

And now on the hills, vineyards

The dairy cows are long gone

And more cars fill the country roads

 

But the house still stands

And I am still here,

With a better man

My child grown

The walls are infused with memories

And my dreams still blooming

Like the red roses on the arbor