Category Archives: Weather

summer + nature = redwoods

redwoods

No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe.

~ John Steinbeck

Summer along the California coast is inspirational, nothing more so than the Redwood National Forest, enjoying it so much I’m making it a feature in the next series.

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Filed under California, California Historical Landmark, Creativity, Entertainment, Features, Humanity, John Steinbeck, Life, Native American, Nature, Posts, Quotes, Redwoods, Romance, Series, Summer, Summer fun, Suspense, Vickie McKeehan, Weather, Writers

Could you really go green?

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is – something that we must hold in our arms and care for. ~ Margaret Mead

 

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So many PSAs out there suggesting we make going  green and cutting back during the drought a part of our daily lives. But could you really take the necessary steps to make an impact to save the planet and go green even if the drought wasn’t an issue? Could you make significant  changes in the way you do things to make enough of a difference to cut down on greenhouse gases, sending waste to landfills, and cutback on the energy you use to do all those things you still love doing?

Here in Southern California we’ve had to rethink the way we do everything. That’s why a year ago we took a few first steps to do our part to go a little greener. It might not be much but every little bit helps, right? Here are four simple things we do now that have become habit.

1. Cut back on water. Our household has learned to use much less water, both outside and inside. Yes, my plants have suffered. But keep in mind I’m not the world’s best gardener anyway. Inside the house, I don’t start the dishwasher unless it’s completely full. I don’t let the water run while washing dishes.  We take fewer showers, choosing to shower every other day instead of daily. We’ve shut off the faucet while brushing our teeth instead of letting the water run like we used to do. Score!

2. Recycle. We recycle everything. Glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, cardboard. Leftovers. When you consider that there’s 60 million plastic bottles in use in the US every day and only 23% of those are recycled, that leaves an astonishing amount out there that ends up in the trash heap and ultimately in landfills. To cut back on plastic, we invested in BPA-free reusable water bottles. We take them with us everywhere we go. Filling them up cuts down on the cost of buying the individual plastic bottles. We also recycle furniture by finding new homes for things, like a couch we had for years that went to a single mom to furnish her new place to live. Score!

3. Cut back on electricity usage. We follow all the energy alerts or what is called Save Power Days. Save Power Days is where you sign up voluntarily to reduce your electricity usage on certain days between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. During these days we delay running the dryer or any other large appliance. We set the thermostat to 78 degrees and open the windows and doors (which lately in the heat of summer has  sometimes made for a sweltering sauna.) We also power down our electrical devices for two hours. The more electricity you save during these energy alerts the more bill credits you can rack up. Score! Buy-Local1

4. We shop locally. Shopping locally means supporting businesses in our neighborhood which translates to saving on shipping. We buy as much  as we can that’s grown or made locally. I live near a lot of fields where produce is grown that ends up at the local farmer’s market. And there are fruit stands open here year-round. We shop at thrift stores whenever possible. That means taking gently used items and giving them a new home and saving cash! Score!

So far, so good, right?

Now comes the problematic area.  To save on fuel it’s recommended we take public transit more often, at the minimum, once a week. To be honest, we drive most everywhere we go. If the trips are fairly short it seems less of a hassle to just jump in the car and get it done.  We do take the train on longer trips, but other than that, it’s the car for most everywhere else. Let’s face it, it’s hard to break that reliance and convenience of having your own wheels, able to come and go as you please, whenever you please, without waiting on a bus timetable.

But we do manage to conserve fuel in other ways, like combining our errands into one major shopping trip. Although public transportation here is first rate and will get you to local shopping malls and back without too much waiting time between buses, as cooler weather gets here, we do plan on expanding our foray into taking the bus. I’ll let you know in future posts how it goes.

The changes we’ve made may seem small now. But it wasn’t always that way. All in all, I think our greening effort is a good first start. As with any change, the more routine things become, the easier it gets. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to incorporate even more ways to go green.

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Filed under California, Life, Nature, Southern California, Vickie McKeehan, Weather, Writers

Autumn

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~ Albert Camus

Winter’s coming but until then find your favorite place in the park and enjoy nature at its best.

Photo credit: Jyothi Karthik Raja

 

Photo credit: Larisa Koshkina

 

While most summer flowers have already given up their season, fall daisies are just getting started. These hardy buds hang in there reminding us there’s beauty in simplicity.

Photo credit: Planet Natural

 

 

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Gardening during the drought

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sometimes I think I need my head examined for trying to have a garden during a drought. Everything’s so brown and some days I feel like the stingy amount of drink I give the lettuce is a luxury. Lettuce is about all I have left. The lavender is struggling and so are my daisies. I follow the stringent guidelines of water restriction both inside and outside. We haven’t washed our cars in months. I’ve moved most of my regular plants indoors to keep them from frying in the blasts of August heat. But let’s face it, if California doesn’t get some relief soon, I’m not sure a garden is worth the effort.

To give you an idea of how bad things are, the trees located behind my house are dying…slowly. Pine, cypress, and the cottonwood that are located in what we used to refer to as the “greenbelt” are turning brown. The roots are searching for water that doesn’t come. The grass, once lush and green, has turned to what resembles straw.

I’ve always loved a garden setting. But here locally people are replacing their yards with rock, stone, or letting them go burnt brown naturally. I don’t judge. Whatever others feel they need to do for a yard during this drought is certainly understandable. Even though a few of the more elite are snubbing their noses at restrictions, we all wonder how long it will take to get rain. The media talks about some monster El Nino supposed to hit this winter. Cities are gearing up for torrential rain, floods, and they make evacuation plans and practice scenarios if mudslides occur. But for now, everything bakes. And we here in Southern California can only dream about a good downpour.

My idea of the perfect garden. This one’s in West Philly thanks to Farmer Liz.

 

So wherever you are, if rain is in your forecast, enjoy it. Not everyone is that lucky. 🙂

 

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