I knew I wanted to write something about Earth Day. Since I'm becoming more militant about eating only organic food and I have a strong sense of activism for creatures and resources that are in peril, I asked myself:
What might I cultivate from the outside to add dimension to my life on the inside?
This is a loaded question and it's intended to provoke some grounded and spiritual thinking and hopefully, some I-wanna-get-involved energy.
Rather than launch an events calendar or comment on festivals and celebrations taking place on April 22nd in honor of Earth Day, I'd like talk about a few little things I’ve done to keep some of Earth’s treasures nearby.
When I was a little girl, our family traveled across America quite a bit by car. I remember stopping off the highway in the middle of the desert, probably because the kids had to use the bathroom. There was a barbed wire fence between me and a sea of desert sand. Ever the sharp-eyed collector, I spied many black dots on the white sand … black dots upon inspection were actually stones that when held to the sun, shone with a faintly opaque black-brown luster. Gems! With the help of my dad, I shimmied under that fence and gathered as many as I could.
Years later, a box of black dots arrived from an uncle who found my childhood stash after a spring cleaning. Now, I’m rich with them! But what are they?
Apache Tears are a form of volcanic black obsidian glass. And they’re tied to an 1870 legend about 75 Apaches camping atop Big Picacho in Arizona who were attacked and killed by the U.S. Calvary for raiding ranches when they were hungry. Fifty died in the first round of shots. The remaining chose to leap off the mountain’s edge rather than die at the hands of the soldiers. Many grieving women gathered at the base of the cliff and wept for their dead. The Spirits then created a stone where the tears of the women fell on the sand, thus the name, Apache Tears.
The science of the stone? Obsidian is cooled lava flow, but if water is present, it combines with obsidian to form perlite. The perlite may break off from the outside. If not all of the obsidian is hydrated, it leaves only the core and it’s the core that becomes the Apache Tear.
Grounding Stones Connecting to Nature and the Earth
Many believe Apache Tears possess healing power to calm muscle spasms, detox the body, boost the immune system and assist in the absorption of vitamins. Spiritually, the stones are used in meditation to bring insight and clarity. They are grounding tools tied to the root chakra, helping to connect us to nature and the Earth. Transmuting spiritual energy into the physical world, they’re thought to release negative emotions and bring emotional balance. And good luck follows those who have an Apache Tear. I have many, but perhaps the magic works best if the stone is carried throughout the day in a place where it can be thought about as it's touched.
There's a belief that the Apache women filled the stones that fateful day with enough tears that the bearer need never shed another tear. Since they’re thought to quickly heal grief, Apache Tears must also be quickly cleansed. You’re meant to intuit when a stone feels “full.” The suggestion is to cleanse it by letting it sit in a running stream or under the tap for 20 minutes … I'm sure it’s about the running water washing the bad juju away. I know, it’s not the best use of our precious water resource in these drought-ridden times, so I’m thinking of an alternative:
Instead, why not place the stone in a colander with a catch-bowl underneath. Fill a container with clean water and gently and slowly drip the water over the stone, inviting the energy to fall into the catch-bowl. Use the grief-water in the garden, allowing the soil to soften and transmute the energy into life force for growth in the earth. This feels like an acceptable Earth Day solution for me and the bad juju in the water might also stave off pests!
Here's a Crafty Thing I made to hold my Apache Tears using a tea infuser.
My Apache Tears are not polished as many prefer to do. I like them with all of their bumps and scratches. They are survivors. They have weight when they're held. When lifted to the light, they luster. I like people with these qualities, too.
Avocado Trees from Seeds
Seeds are Life
I’ve grown avocado seedlings many times. They’re surprisingly easy to start and a reminder of the miracle of nature. Simply suspend a clean seed with pointed end up, bottom end supported, but don't completely submerge in water. Change water every 2 days. When the pit splits and roots and shoots start, I remove the seed coat and just put it in fertile soil that has decent drainage.
Avocado plants will not bear fruit. They must be paired with a scion (Yes, Toyota used the noun for their Scion car line!) from a fruit-bearing tree to produce the yum-yum, but your plant will grow nicely inside a pot. Give it indirect light. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Fertilize occasionally. I prefer my avocado trees inside, having had seedlings succumb to outside pests going after their sweet young leaves in the past.
Direct sun is also a seedling killer, especially in my growing region. When the plant is about 8” tall, cut the stem in half, then pinch the tip of each resulting branch after they are 8” in length. The plant will eventually need to be replanted in a larger pot, or be radically pruned to stay where it is. Top leaf pinching encourages a fluffy plant.
Recently, I've had success growing and keeping the seedling in a shot glass, dwarfing its growth somewhat. The small size of the glass is perfect for suspending the seed partially out of water. If you forget to water, the plant will let you know by sad, drooping leaves.
I know the leaves look sad in my photo below, but avocado leaves are heavy and the plant is attempting to grow at will in a small space. It will shed dead leaves on its own. The missing leaves in the middle of the stalk are from a bad parenting period where I neglected to water my child.
Growing Lettuce Inside
Growing lettuce inside? I’m still trying. I've got shoots going under a grow light, but they don’t seem to be advancing to the fluffy, pick me, eat me stage as quickly as expected.
I'd like to think I have a green thumb, but just because I've been able to grow a 5' Lemon Verbena tree from a small cutting and some avocado seedlings doesn't mean I can pull off Inside Lettuce. I separated the shoots too early several weeks ago and they all died. For this attempt, I threw in a bunch of seeds in the same soil divot to see how they fared. They're supposed to be hearty enough to stand up to thinning, but so far, I'm not getting that kind of vibe. I'm hesitant about moving the pot outside, because of the heat we're having on the West Coast right now. I also know if I were a hungry bug or bird, I'd be all over these tasty morsels, and of course, that'd be good-bye to my lettuce dreams.
Honoring Native Indians
Indians, however, were excellent farmers, growing more than 80 crops unique to the Americas ... crops like corn, tomatoes, avocados, grains, potatoes, tobacco, peanuts, chocolate, cotton fiber. Women were inventive cooks and gatherers, often using insects and their larvae in dishes. For example, Yellow Jacket's larvae were used in soup.
Indians cultivated food from the earth mother with great care. I can't think of a better homage this Earth Day than to offer respect to the native American Indians whose varied religions held beliefs in Spirits and even The Great Spirit, all with underlying reverence for the planet. It's a symbiosis we seem to have lost along the way with our mass growing culture of today that's bombarded with pesticides controlled from the seed source by companies caring more for turning a profit than creating and nurturing sustainable organic farming across the globe. I know that Native American culture touches our lives to this day. My most simplistic treat? I often listen to Native Flute music. It's beautiful and creates a centering within me.
Speaking of centering ... one of my favorite places, Ojai, is in Chumash territory. The name Ojai, is interpreted as nest of the moon and Ojai is often referred to as the Valley of the Moon. The Ojai Valley Inn & Resort offers Kuyam, a Chumash word translated as a place to meet or rest together. In Kuyam, participants apply a series of clays while listening to native flute-based music narrated by a Chumash elder. The experience takes place inside a dry heat-filled tiled room with cobalt glass windows. The aroma of Lemongrass fills the air as you apply different clays infused with essential oils that attend to respiration, joints, and skin purification. Sip on infused water and relax with cool face towels as you're guided into a centered state. About an hour later, a cold water gauntlet finishes the experience before traditionally showering to wash the clay out of the nooks and crannies. Then, glide into your robe and slippers for the ultimate cool down on a special outdoor patio. A sprig of lavender adorns every chaise and infused water, tea, fruit, and nuts are available to help bring body temperature to stasis. Relax here as long as you wish.
Ojai is a favored destination!
Buy Made in the USA & They’ll Plant a Tree
Every spring, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences members like myself, are invited to a multitude of For Your Consideration panel events. We traverse the city to attend interesting interview forums with cast, crew, creators, and producers of television serials vying for Emmy votes. Besides hearing behind-the-scenes info, stories, watching a table read, or a sneak-peek episode, we’re often treated to networking opportunities afterwards with other members of the Academy and those on the panel.
Last season for Manhattan and again this season for Underground, WGN thoughtfully offered a bag of swag for attendees to their FYC events of these shows. I will tell you that we're rarely treated to swag at these events, so when we get something to take away, it’s a nice perk. At least I think it is.
Inside WGN’s bags have been nice tee-shirts (sized appropriately) and small journals made in the USA by Woodchuck. These books, bound in wood, etched with the show’s name, are special. They are part of Woodchuck’s Buy One. Plant One. … a tree-planting initiative that helps our Earth! A beautiful card, the latitude and longitude of where your tree is planted etched on a wood strip and signed by Benjamin Jo VandenWymelenberg, Woodchuck’s Founder and CEO is thoughtfully inserted in the journal. I love this company!
Here's my tree!
Steaming Dried Herbs: Aromatherapy for healing the Home & You
Here's another Crafty Thing! Herbs are thought to hold the Earth's energy within them.
I use dried herbs I have on hand for my mixes.
This one includes:
Sage - cleanses environment and provides protection
Lavender - calming
Lemon Verbena Bark (from a tree I grew) - lemon scent that purifies
Dried Orange Peels - cleanses lungs
Lemongrass - musky lemon scent that deters insects
Rosemary - stress relief
I simply fill my stove steamer with water and flip the cover over placing the herbs on top. You can also put them in a bit of net and drop the bundle on the inverted lid. The smell is heavenly!
Paris Climate Agreement
$100 Billion Every Year from 2020 to Stave Climate Change
For me, nothing is off limits when it comes to raising consciousness about our most precious resource: our planet.
What's the global political candle burning on Earth Day 2016? The big news is that the United States and China have pledged to sign the Paris Climate Agreement on April 22nd, which is an initiative intended to encourage 55 countries toward accounting for at least 55% of global emissions required to actually put the agreement into effect.
And when Earth Day turns 50 in 2020, the Earth Day Network will plant a tree for every living person on Earth – 7.8 billion people trees! But by then, ironically, that number could be more, if GE mosquitoes have their way …
GE - Genetically Engineered & Genetically Modified Organisms - GMOs
Climate change is not the only problem we face and we all know it. Virulent diseases spread through blood and biting insects are also here. We have genetically engineered apples, salmon, seeds and their crops, and now, possibly mosquitoes – GMOs don’t come with any labels – so who knows what these things will do to us? I, for one, am not having anything to do with GMO food, but GE mosquitoes??? How do you escape those guys? It's not like they fly with little flags that read: USDA Organic.
I know, what you’re thinking. Why do we need mosquitoes in the first place? Well, fish feed on their larvae and birds, bats, frogs, spiders, and dragonflies feed on the adults, some exclusively and others not so much. And in some subarctic regions, the male mosquito is actually a plant pollinator. But do we need the pathogens they transmit?
Some might argue that devastating disease is all part of nature’s population control. With more people on the planet, would epidemics that considerably reduce human population then put water and food resources in jeopardy as our numbers continue to rise? Perhaps the GE (genetically engineered) “do-gooders” (Oxitec – 2009 transgenic species trials in Grand Cayman with support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - yes you read that correctly) haven’t considered the premise that the GE “living insecticide” pests aimed at reducing the Zika virus could eventually overtake the real mosquito population.
How does that stack up to the claim that GM salmon (AquAdvantage – not sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Aldi stores) would in no way decimate real salmon in the wild? The GM versions grow faster than the real fish and have eel DNA, so if they have the capability of growing 11 times faster and thus reproducing faster, how could they not squander food resources starving out the real wild fish? Apparently, in Dec. 2015, Obama banned the sale of the product until the FDA mandates GM labeling. AquAdvantage boasts a large landlocked facility for their fish production with no plans for ocean or river involvement.
Bees are disappearing from the planet along with gorillas, chimps, orangutans, black rhinos, songbirds, whales, lions, tigers … creatures that were once living wild and free in the world that now claims only thousands. This truth brings such heaviness to my heart.
Read the list here to learn what creatures are at risk.
Then check out Apps for Earth, a collaboration between Apple & WWF: WWF SPECIES DIRECTORY
Apps for Earth - Apple and WWF
There are 27 apps in the program that once purchased, Apple plans to donate100% of the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund. This is a great idea to help our endangered creatures!
Whatever you do this Earth Day, whether it's something big or small like turning off your lights for an hour, remember a simple action adds up and collective thought has energy. Keep it positive and be grateful for our big blue marble. We are guests here, aren't we!
Happy Earth Day Everyone!