Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aging Is A Privilege

Photo by Gary Dorrington

My kids have helped me understand something important about this life.  That nothing stays the same, everything changes.  We are born, we grow, we live, we die.  We are happy, we are sad, excited, mad, . . . life moves and it never stops, even after we die.  

As I grow older and see people, places and things come and go, I feel the transitory aspect of life more than ever.  We are here one moment, and somewhere else the next.  Moving here, moving there, working, raising our kids, going in and out of places, living life.  If we are lucky, while we grow, along with our hardships, we also laugh and smile.  This life is beautiful.  Aging is beautiful.

I don't know why there is such a stigma about getting older.  I like my gray hair and the lines that I see deepening on my face.  The change I see happening to my body.  It means that I have lived.  Perhaps people are afraid to grow older because they associate one's longevity in life with the idea that they are coming closer to death.  People fear the unknown, people fear death.  I know I have.  

I've always had older friends.  Older people amaze me.  They have so many tales.  Their faces tell me about their life.  We all live and we all die.  There is no difference between a baby and a great-great grandmother accept that one has experienced more life than the other.  Death has no clock, it just happens when it happens.  Aging is not only a part of living, it is a privilege.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yes, those are my pink gardening gloves.  Another great photo taken by the hubby.

I have a degenerative problem in my right ankle, basically part of the bone has died and, as you can imagine, causes pain and other problems.  I've had it since I was very young and when I was 18 I even had surgery on it.  While it did get better for some time, it has never been pain free.  In retrospect I wonder if the surgery helped or made the condition worse, cutting into the body can cause so much harm even if it's meant to do good.  

Unfortunately, in the last couple of years my ankle has started hurting more intensely again.  About 6 months ago I got an MRI to check things out, low and behold, the problem persists and the doctor says it will most likely only get worse as I get older.   While I believe them to a certain extent, I also believe that healing is possible.  A little TLC can go a very long way.  No more surgery for this gal.  Massage, salves, strength building exercise and bone building teas are my plan of action.   Nettles, plus a few others,  have been at the top of my list for this ailment.  

Recently, I can't remember where, I heard that stinging yourself with nettles helps with joint problems.  I love nettles and we have a lot of them around here.  If you don't already know, nettles have wonderful healing properties in them.  They are rich in iron and calcium.  They are a diuretic so if you drink nettle tea during your moon cycle or pregnancy, you can cut down on some of that water retention.  Ahh, nettles.  You can drink them or throw them in soups.   I've even seen people eat them raw (something I will probably never have the nerve to try), but I do love the way they taste after they have been cooked (and their stingers aren't stinging anymore!).  

One sunny morning, about a month ago, I hiked down to our nettle patch and picked me some stingers.  Pain was a great motivator for this experiment.  When things hurt, sometimes we'll try the most bizarre things to help ease suffering.  I stung myself in several places on my ankle, wherever it felt like it needed it.  I have a few spots in particular that ache and also get swollen.  I was surprised to notice that it really didn't hurt at all, in fact, when I applied it to certain spots it actually felt good!   I was pain free for a couple of weeks after that.  Did it really do anything or was it a coincidence?    Had I stung myself enough to actually have an affect?  I don't know, but the experience has raised my suspicions enough that I will try it again when my ankle starts aching.  Go on, . . . google it, "stinging yourself with nettles" and you'll see that I'm not the only nut out there.  Oh, and fyi, if you do go picking nettles, remember that the stingers are on the bottom side of the leaf.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Orcas Dreams 2: What about the Garbage?

"The Exchange", . . . one persons trash is another's treasure.

A number of you have asked me what happens to our garbage here on Orcas.  It's really quite interesting and I hadn't thought about it till we got up here.  After two weeks our bins got full up and I thought, "Oh yeah, nobody will come and get this, we have to deal with it ourself."  It's amazing how much more aware one becomes when they don't have people doing their "dirty" work for them.  

Here on the island, there is no dump.   All trash needs to be put in dumpsters and shipped off the island.  There are hardly any public garbages bins in town, people are encouraged to deal with their trash themselves.  You would think that this would mean that there is trash everywhere, along the roads, at the beaches, not so, you might see some, but this place is sparkling compared to what I see driving along country roads on the mainland.  

San Juan County Solid Waste Disposal has recently started a new service for home pick up, but it hasn't caught on yet.  For the most part, people take their own trash and recycling to the waste area.  In fact, a trip to the "dump" is considered a social event, it's only open Thursday-Sunday and you'll see many familiar faces.  

Getting rid of our trash basically works like this, . . . you pay $5 for up to six trash cans/bags of recycling and $10 for up to 2 cans of garbage.  It's not weighed, there is no person there to help you get your trash in and out of your car, you stop at a little shed, pay your money, back your car right up to the edge of the dumpster and dump dump dump.  I was amazed to see that on any given day there are 4 dumpsters available for dumping, 3 of these were for recycling and one was for trash.  The 3 Rs (Re-duce, Re-Use and Re-cycle) are a way of life here, instilled in the brains of the community and culture.  Before we moved here I thought I was fairly thoughtful about the amount of trash I put out there, but here I am forced to be even more sensitive and I'm realizing that I have a lot to learn.  

Now, onto the more interesting aspect of Orcas Island's waste disposal system.  The Exchange.  What an amazing place!  No city should be without one and yet I have never seen a place quite like it!  You bring your "junk", anything from mop heads, old toys, books, art, furniture, sheets, sinks, doors, . . .you name it.  You either donate it or exchange for something else.  How many times have I tried to sell something on craigslist (for like a year) without any takers, but felt too guilty about throwing it in the trash or simply felt that it deserved more than just being tossed away.  Well, The Exchange will most likely take it and hand it off to some other creative sole.  It might be used as is or turned into some fabulous piece of art or functional object.  If you turn up at The Exchange empty handed, but need something, no fear!  Monetary donations are accepted as well and are an important part in keeping this spot up and running.  I almost wept tears of joy when I saw this place, it is awesome!  

Only pictures can describe, . . . 

Need a bike?  You would think that Critical Mass was coming through!

Or how about a door?

Serafin has had a thing about the Yellow Brick Road lately, at The Exchange, we followed the "White Sink Road".

I'll be curious to see what happens to these around Easter.

Speakers, music and other electronics.

Dishware, lamp shades and kitchen appliances

Clothes!  Everything from adult to children's clothing, costumes and shoes.

The Exchange library

We still haven't pulled our x-mas tree stand out of a box yet, if we can't find it at least we know where to come to get one!