Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to Really Share the Christmas Spirit

I walk a neighbour's dog. He is a lovely and friendly creature and for some reason people in the neighbourhood want to stop and chat and get their hands licked by said doggie. One of the people with whom I chat is a gentleman who lives in a nearby park . I have seen him several times, sitting on a sunny bench and doing crossword puzzles. Beside him is his transportation - a shopping cart loaded with all his worldly possessions. A tarp, a ground sheet, two sleeping bags, miscellaneous supplies and cooking utensils. And two or three extra large plastic bags loaded with the daily haul of pop cans and bottles. From this he earns his income. What always strikes me is his dignity and his gentle manner. He is always clean, his white hair brushed and pulled back into a pony tail, his beard well-groomed.

I asked him once whether he stayed in a shelter and he said no, the shelters are not always safe from predators. He can't afford to lose anything. so he lives in the park in a secret place that is protected from the weather. One week he wasn't at his usual bench and I was worried that something had happened to him. The following week he was back, looking very weak. Two brave and class-act young men had been walking around with a can of pepper spray, zapping homeless people. My friend was one of their victims. He managed to get help but his lungs were affected and he ended up with pneumonia and had massive doses of penicillin. Wouldn't stay in hospital though - didn't want to lose his worldly possessions.

Once a week, he helps the trash collectors roll the big garbage bins out of the apartment blocks. In exchange, he gets to rummage around and take any refundable bottles and cans. He performs a function much needed in our wasteful society, as do many of the homeless men and women who rummage around in our leavings - tools, small furnishings, old clothes, anything that may still have some monetary or exchange value. I respect their independence and dignity, their friendliness and their courage in the face of illness, aggression, scorn and derision. 

So while the rest of us are enjoying turkey with all the trimmings and the pleasure of watching loved ones open that Christmas present they really really wanted - take a few minutes to set aside a small collection of cash, maybe a scarf or sweater you no longer wear and perhaps make a nice big turkey sandwich and go search out one of those folks who clean up after us. And thank them for the valuable work they do in the community.

That's how you really share the Christmas Spirit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Save Your Pennies!

In Canada there is an ongoing debate about whether to eliminate the humble copper penny from circulation. Reasons are: Copper is expensive and costs more than a penny to produce, and therefore is debased with cheaper metals. Nobody wants to carry a pocketful of change because they don't know how to use needle and thread any more and they are tired of buying new jeans when the pockets develop holes. You can't buy anything with a penny - not even penny candies. They make a hell of a noise when scooped up by the vacuum cleaner. And on and on.
However, before the banks remove the pennies from circulation and sell the copper to manufacturers of copper wire and copper pipe and copper roofing for fancy hotels and office buildings for a very large profit, save a few for posterity. In fact, make sure the handful you save - [but just a handful mind you, because you want them to be rare] -  is passed down in perpetuity to your most favourite and responsible heirs. With the proviso that the collection must stay within the family forever - or until at least until the price is right - your family will be well off for centuries.

This - from Reuters a few days ago ~

Rare Greek coin could sell for $2.5 million at auction
 The Dekadrachm of Akragas, which was minted in Sicily and dates to 409-406 B.C., will be sold at auction on January 4 from a U.S. collection by the Classical Numismatic Group, an international firm that deals in ancient, medieval and British coins.
The price would make it one of the top-priced coins ever sold at auction, although collectors of extraordinarily rare coins have paid more than $5 million in the past.
Earlier this year a rare, gold Islamic coin, the Umayyad dinar which dates to 723 A.D. sold for $6 million at a London auction.
The Greek coin, one of only 12 examples known to exist and only the third to come to market in a generation, measures about 35.5 mm (1.4 inches) and weighs 43.4 grams (1.5 oz). It depicts four horses and a chariot on one side and an eagle on the other.
Six versions of the coin are in museum collections.
In its online catalogue CNG described the coin as "a masterpiece of late 5th century Greek art" and "one of the most beautiful of all Greek coins."
Bids will be accepted at a live sale in New York and online in real time for preregistered bidders via, CNG said.
*Sept 2013 Update: Pennies are now an official pain. Tried to pay for a pack of gum with a few rolls of pennies. No go, says the corner store owner. The banks won't take them as part of a cash deposit. Sigh.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sustainable Farming

Just received my first order ever from Big Bear Ranch in Canada's BC Interior. It's a long drive from Horsefly to Vancouver but the delivery arrived right on time. [577km/359mi]      I think it is is really important to support local businesses that incorporate sustainability and are aware of the biodiversity of the ecosystem.

Our co-op has a private site - members only - so it's a great way for us to share co-op news and community info. A neighbour invited several of us to place a meat order. After doing my research about this very successful sustainability/biodiversity-focused farming business near Horsefly in BC's Cariboo countryside, I did order some pork and lamb products - and beef bones for soup. I'd offer up a link for the Cariboo but there are so many it would best for you to just do the googling yourself.

So far, I've only tried the smoked back bacon. The protective fatty layer is beautifully white and the meat itself has a wonderful full flavour, not salty. I can almost see the happy piggies running around their acreage instead of being 'stuck like a pig' in factory barns never seeing daylight. The difference in quality and flavour is ... wow!!!

If you happen not to be omnivorous take a look anyway at the website to see what else this amazing family is into - including eggs, honey and raising Icelandic horses. Looking at their horse pics reminds me of the Lascaux cave paintings of those marvellous strong, sturdy, wild horses dashing across the ice age European tundra. If you have read Jean Auel's books, this is one of the caves where Ayla travelled.

I have jumped around too much on this post but one thing inspires the next!

See you later. And please, please- I love hearing from you so do leave your comments and reactions, and pass the post on via the social links below. Thanks for stopping by.