Author Archives: Theresa Scott

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Black Friday – A Truly Brilliant Invention

Have you noticed how Black Friday, the shopping day right after Thanksgiving Thursday, has crept up on Thanksgiving Day, jumped on it, and gobbled it up like a well-done turkey set upon by a pack of hungry wolves? A few … Continue reading

Lack of Water and Sanitation Claims More Lives than War

by Theresa Scott
“[The water and sanitation] crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.”*
More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.*

I’ve written before on this blog about the need for clean drinking water for millions of people on several continents. Here then, is an update on bringing clean water to the developing world including South Asia, Africa, and India.

Progress is being made. UNICEF and the World Health Organization have a plan to improve the water situation in the world. It’s called “Sustainable Sanitation: Five Year Drive to 2015.”

Clean drinking water sources have been brought to over 2 billion people since 1990. However, 780 million people still remain without access to clean water. That is two and half times the population of the U.S. The burden of a poor water supply falls often on women and girls, who usually are the ones to fetch the water over distances requiring hours of walking each day; rural inhabitants; and the poor who live in slums, and who are most likely to miss out on the improvements made to drinking water and sanitation facilities.

http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

Fecal material in water has been found to cause the majority of diseases in poor countries. The leading cause of death among children under five years of age is diarrhea which causes 1.5 million deaths a year. It kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.

This means sanitation is also part of the solution to improve the quality of life and health of people. Since 1990, 1.8 billion people now have access to better toilet facilities. It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities can result in an average reduction in cases of diarrhea of more than one-third. Washing hands with soap has been found to reduce diarrhea by more than 40%!

http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/sanitation/

*Information for this blog has been taken from the “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation – Update for 2012” released by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programmer (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2012). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012 Update.

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Scones, anyone?

Here is the scone recipe that has been in our family for over 100 years. Ideal for pairing with hot soups or stews on a cold autumn day. Enjoy! Granny’s Brown Scones 1 c. white flour 1 c. whole wheat … Continue reading

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The I-Hate-to-Wait Blog

by Theresa Scott Have you noticed how fast-paced modern life has become? Way faster-paced than in prior decades. I think the main reason for this is related to one thing: we’ve become accustomed to the widespread immediacy of information on … Continue reading

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The Cassini Spaceship Studying Saturn

by Theresa Scott I was astounded to learn recently about a space voyage to Saturn that has been in motion since it was first launched in 1997 from Cape Canaveral. The voyage is called the Cassini Mission, named after the … Continue reading

Train Travel as an Indoor Sport

by Theresa Scott

Earlier this week I had the chance to travel by train. We passed some of the loveliest bays where the tide was out and the mudflats stretched on for at least a mile. We passed acres and acres of tall green trees—some close to the tracks, some in the distance. I found viewing islands and water and forested land relaxed me and slowed my pace for the day. In a nice way.

And what a chance to see birds! Long-legged herons dotted the beaches, their gray feathers blending in with the gray and taupe sand. Bald eagles were a rarer sight. I saw one on this trip, and he was soaring lazily along an air current. Crows and hawks hang out on the beaches too, looking for snacks and chatting with kin.

There were not many people on the long stretches between cities. For mile after mile, we passed beaches and saw only one or two people at a time. Of the folks we did pass, it seems that trains going by are an invitation to give a friendly wave.

It struck me that the train is actually a small community of core workers who are responsible for serving a larger, mobile community of passengers who whirl through the train orbit and then spin off to other universes (train stations) to do whatever it is they must do, and who may never return. If you work on a train, it must be like having a ton of unfinished stories told to you every day as the train roars past the trees and water and towns.

As a passenger, I found it to be a relaxing experience. If you find yourself looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience this summer, or if you are pondering a day-trip or a short trip somewhere, you may enjoy taking a train to your destination. If the scenery doesn’t entice you, perhaps chatting with the other passengers will entertain you. Or, you can always look at the birds.

Money, Money, Money

Are you redesigning your finances? Here are a few links that may be of interest to you. If you are happy with the financial decisions you’ve made, these links may still teach you a few tricks.

If you want to find out how some other folks on-line think about the cycle of work, consumerism, debt, more work, more consumerism…(you get the picture…) then you might want to check out the links below.

Dave Ramsey – Advice on establishing a strategic plan of Baby Steps to get your finances in order

Mr Money Mustache – A frugal and wise blog about how to increase your savings and retire early

Madfientist – Also on the more frugal side of things to better move toward financial independence

Enjoy!

Life’s Surprises

Don’t you love it when Life delivers a happy surprise?

Last night, there was a street festival in our town. The downtown streets hosted jugglers, bands, all sorts of artists displaying paintings, jewelry, sculptures. Crowds of folks flowed through the streets to see, be seen, hear, be heard, and have fun. Liveliness everywhere.

As you walked the downtown core, you could hear different music on every block. I heard heavy metal, some 60s redux, and folk. But the hit of the evening for me was when this nondescript, khaki-green army truck drove into an empty bank parking lot. Sitting in the back were two guys, one beating the drums and one guy playing an electric guitar.

The vehicle rolled to a stop as the two guys in the back of the truck wailed out some blues. The drummer, in his early 20s, thin, wore sunglasses and kept a good beat.

The guitarist, I’d say in his 30s, soul patch on his chin, black t-shirt, blue jeans and a leather belt (the belt figures later in the story) sat on a box and played lead guitar, singing some blues classics, like John Lee Hooker tunes. You could tell he knew what to do with guitar strings.

He played a medley of other blues classics, and his work set the air humming. A crowd slowly gathered, lured by the sounds.

The driver of the vehicle remained in the cab. A black guy in his 30s, he too wore dark sunglasses, and sat slumped in the driver’s seat, window rolled down, and stared at the side mirror, presumably to see the small band’s affect on the growing audience behind the truck.

The audience liked what they were hearing. More folks wandered over.

Finally, the driver threw open the door and climbed over the back of the truck to the box. The drummer kid got up and moved out of the way to let the driver sit down. He plunked himself down in front of the drum set and began hammering out a syncopated accompaniment to the guitarist, who by now was just getting warmed up.

The guitarist played the blues in earnest now. He owned the stage; the guitar sang. The drummer kept a steady beat rolling forth; all while looking cool, dark sunglasses, no smiling, khaki-green jacket.

These guys were concentrating.

My feet wouldn’t move. I had no choice but to stay. Delighted, I listened to several of my favorite blues songs as the scruffiest band at the festival wailed out the best music.

Some listeners in the crowd clapped along. The singer/guitar player began lifting the guitar to his face and singing into it, his voice took on a kind of warbling sound. Next, he put the guitar behind his head and continued to pick out great notes.

He went back to regular playing. Then he jumped up on the roof of the cab, guitar still in hand, playing the whole time. From there, he sang some more warbly music.

Then he jumped back down into the box of the truck. This time, he pulled out a knife. Not a pocket knife or a Swiss Army knife. No. It was a long-bladed knife with a black handle. He used it to slide along the neck of the guitar and play even more awesome notes. When he was done, he put the knife back in his jeans pocket… he played the guitar the whole dang time.

They rendered more blues numbers for the enthralled audience. The guitarist began asking audience members for a lighter. I didn’t want to know why, but I stayed to find out. Yes, I did.

Getting a lighter from someone in the crowd, the guitarist, guitar still in hand, hopped back up on the top of the cab. He took out a yellow plastic bottle and poured fluid on the guitar.

I couldn’t look away. I watched as he lit his guitar on fire. Then he pulled off his belt and lashed the fire out.

He asked for a cell phone, again from the crowd, so he could take a picture of the gathered folks.

A cell phone came his way immediately, and he ended the show by taking pictures of the large crowd. Everyone was holding up their hands at him and the drummer. Folks were signaling the universal ‘Love you’ hand signal, (thumb, forefinger and little finger open, third and fourth finger closed).

I loved every moment.

We Love Bees

I love to watch bees. Springtime and early summer is when I find the plump yellow-and-black honeybees buzzing around my backyard, doing their best to pollinate every fruit and vegetable flower in sight.

 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, bees help* pollinate 71% of the 100 crops that provide most of the world’s food supply. Bees are busy pollinating fruits, avocados, almonds and other nuts, and we humans can eat 4000 different vegetable crops, thanks to bees. They also pollinate a variety of flowers, which add fragrance and color to our homes.

 

Bees have been in the news for the past decade for ‘colony collapse’, where the entire hive dies off. The cause is thought to be mites. A second concern was reported recently in the New York Times [“Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms”, NYT on March 28, 2013].

The article reports that during the past year, die-offs of honeybees escalated; the cause is thought to be nicotine-based pesticides.

 

We know that bees add immeasurably to the variety of foods we can eat and the flowers we can look at and smell. It would be great for bees if gardeners stopped using nicotine-based pesticides in their gardens. It would be even more helpful if agribusinesses did the same in the fields.

 

I for one want to see the bees kept happy and pollinating for years to come so I can enjoy the various fruits of their labor.

 

Bet you do, too!

 

*In 2000, the value of crops pollinated by bees was estimated at $14.6 billion in the USA alone, according to the UN.

 

 

The Wise Woman

by Theresa Scott

“…It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…”

~Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”

So I go to visit the wise woman. She’s someone I visit every month or so; sometimes I don’t see her for six months, and then I feel the need to chat with her, so I show up on her doorstep. The wise woman is a bit of a mystic. She writes poetry, she meditates, she lives a quiet life. Does gardening, pats her cat, that sort of thing.

She’s not someone you’d particularly notice when you are shopping in the grocery store. You’d walk right past her to the oranges. When she’s driving down the road, you’d probably feel impatient driving behind her because she’s kind of slow moving when behind the wheel. You guessed it about her car, too: best way to describe it is ‘nondescript.’

You can’t sell her a lot of anything, because she has everything she needs, and more. When she enters a room, she moves a bit slowly, a bit elegantly, and she’s probably wearing something okay, but not necessarily really fashionable, or anything that stands out and screams, “Hey, look at me! I’m a fascinating celebrity who knows a lot and can help you straighten out your life. Just ask me!” Nope, definitely not someone like that.

So, fortunately for me, this wise woman is in my life. I’ve had wise women in my life for about, oh, thirty years. Different wise women at different times. I watch them listen to me; I listen to them. Sometimes I ask them dumb questions like the question I asked the Wise Woman of the West about ten years ago. I asked her: how do you learn patience?

So I visit with the wise woman, and then I go home and I think. I think about my life, and the amazingness of being alive; of being alive at this time in the planet’s history; of being on this beautiful blue and green planet with the water and the air and the people and the love. Of what an immense value this is to me. And I think about the value of other people’s lives. To them. To the people who love them. I think about the quietness of her life, the wholeness of it; the unknowing parts too, because she readily admits when she doesn’t know something I’ve asked her.

I like having someone in my life to help me focus on what is important. Someone who isn’t about advertising, or making money, or promotion, or what to do, or living at a fast pace, or a faster pace than the next person, or out to attain excellence and perfection: all the things our society throws at us, telling us what we need, what we should do, how we should think. And we take it in–unthinking and unreflecting. At least I do. For awhile. Then I pull it out and look at it and, usually, I discard it. But I don’t discard what I hear from the wise woman. Her words I absorb slowly and take them in and think about them.

So after I’ve talked with her and I’ve thought about what she’s said, or hasn’t said, then I call someone who was once my life, and whom I haven’t spoken to for a long time, and I gain some understanding, and yes, some forgiveness. And when I am waiting to buy my bag of oranges at the grocery store, I stand in the longest line, so I can learn patience.