Category Archives: environment

Forest Fairy Mailbox / Woodland Gnome House

“I heard that if you build a small house, and place it near the woods, then fairies and gnomes will come to visit.  They will come at night most of the time.  They love children, and will bring you gifts, something from nature, every time they come.”


I have to brag, this beautiful little wooden and copper work of art was designed by my son, Matt (blog link) and built by my husband, Greg.  As grandparents, we are committed to exposing our grandchildren to the world of nature. Their parents are doing a wonderful job of that too.  I was reading recently how peculiar it would seem to an ancient, indigenous culture that we now have to “teach” about nature.  Most of us no longer live in the heart of the natural world, but we must never lose our connection to it.

Fairy:Gnome 2      Fairy:Gnome 1

On his first visit to the gnome house, the look on our grandson’s face was incredible! He circled around it and peered in the windows.  And opened the door to find that the gnome had left him a beautiful crystal , an amethyst.  Now every time he receives a gift, an unusual stone, a shell perhaps, or a feather dropped by a bird, he wants to pick a wildflower and leave it in the box, to give back to the gnome.  So cute!

Now we await our granddaughter’s first visit.  The forest fairy is just waiting.  The fairy knows she’s coming, and there will be a gift in the mailbox, something from our beautiful, natural world!


Recently I’ve been reading, Uprising For The Earth, by Osprey Orielle Lake.  This is a wonderfully inspiring book, with a subtitle:  Reconnecting Culture With Nature.  It’s not so easy these days, as the two have grown apart.

I am fortunate to live on the Pacific North Coast of California, surrounded by rivers, ocean and woods, where my children were also raised.  Frequently though, I think about the issues that Lake brings up in these quotes:

“What happens to us, TO OUR CHILDREN, in our urban centers when we experience primarily the smells of industry, smog, petroleum and chemicals?  What happens to our native ears when left only with the sounds of cars, telephones, freeways and mechanization?  What happens when our hands and eyes rest only upon human made things?…….Our human experience is dependent upon what influences our daily lives, and we are only beginning to take into account the consequences of depriving our children of direct communion with  the Earth, and all the plant life and creatures.”

 Uprising For The Earth

I know that we can’t all run from our lives in the cities, and it’s no longer just our locale that keeps kids indoors.  City dwellers, or country folk, I would love to hear about your plans to compete this summer with your child/grandchild’s electronic tablet, i-Phone, and television.  Thank you in advance for sharing on “comments.”


It’s only a stamp.  How can it possibly make a difference?

It can, and it does make a difference.  Choosing these stamps, and using them may seem like less than a drop in the ocean.  But, there are no insignificant acts when we are working toward the goal of a cleaner and healthier earth.  Small steps can change a culture.

Each stamp promotes a way to be “greener,”  i.e. sharing rides, buying local, composting, etc.  And, the graphics are great!

Like Nike says, “Just Do It.”  The next time you need to get stamps, purchase these and start using them.  You will never know who may have been inspired to change their lifestyle, or at least to think about greener issues.  It’s all important, every step that we take toward a greener earth, and a healthier future for our children.


Cool sites to cruise with your grandchildren, then GET THEM OUTSIDE!  The grandchildren are so attached to their electronic devices these days, that we may need to start with a really cool site that gets their attention.  I believe the ones below do an incredible job of sparking an interest to GO OUTSIDE.  As always, you will love the time together.  ENJOY!

Exploring Sharks Family Tour

BIODIVERSITY  American Museum of Natural History

The Green Squad
THE GREEN SQUAD  Kids taking action for greener, healthier schools.

Field Trip Earth
FIELD TRIP EARTH   Travel the world with your web browser – use the airplane cursor

EARTH RANGERS  Kids taking action to help protect wildlife.

JOURNEY NORTH  View migratory animals and report sightings from the field.


“What is the use of a house, if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
Henry David Thoreau

Here it comes again – EARTH DAY, April 22, 2012!  You can search the web these days, and fortunately find myriad ways to celebrate our earth on this date, and just as many opportunities to become involved.  Unless we’ve been in a cave over the past few years, we are becoming increasingly aware of the basics; i.e. recycling, water conservation, energy conservation, and so on.  But, I’m not sure that many of us are aware of the environmental science (now don’t let your eyes glaze over) behind the behavioral changes that we are asked to think about on Earth Day.  Don’t just take someone’s word for it, when they talk about global warming, water shortages, potential famine, etc. read what scientist have discovered.

I follow a couple of sites that I find informative and easy to access.  In other words, easier for most of us (the non-scientists among us) to comprehend.  Listed below:
Science News  Magazine Of The Society For Science & The Public.

Environmental News Network

Environmental Health News

There are myriad others, of course, but these are a few of my favorites, and a good place to start.

Just a little fact of interest:  I was surprised to discover that Earth Day 2012 will be the 42nd anniversary.


Have you started Christmas shopping for those beautiful grandchildren?  Have you tried to purchase a toy not made in China?  Many of us have serious concerns these days about the safety of toys, and other baby/childhood products, especially those manufactured in China. We hear about recalls and potential health risks, yet the imports continue.  In 2010 Fisher-Price recalled 10 millions kids products – 10 MILLION! Mattel recalled 11 million!  I have accepted that we are on our own (must do our own research) and purchase accordingly.

This process is time-consuming, and frustrating, but I believe we have the longterm health of our grandchildren to consider. In this post I am sharing what I have discovered, in an effort to help others understand the risks of childhood products from China, and alternative resources where we can find manufacturers in the US, or other responsible countries.

Listed below are links to recent news (2010 – 2011) on toy recalls, and articles about hazardous and toxic toys:

Latest Toxic Toy Recalls, Lead and Cadmium

Toy Safety 2011  On this site you can research any toy by name or brand.

2011 Toy Recalls, Complete List

26th Annual “Trouble in Toyland” Report

The lists go on and on, and the farther you read the scarier it becomes!  You can type in keywords related to this issue and find hundreds of websites.  My personal concern is directed toward the chemical dangers.  We can obviously look at a toy and determine if it is inappropriate for age on many levels, but the chemical content is a hidden danger.  And, the damage does not even show up immediately.  Exposure to PVCs, (in plastics) lead, cadmium and other chemicals poses longterm, cumulative danger, in the form of learning and developmental disorders, cancer, and asthma, among myriad others.  Lead poisoning can affect children’s IQ levels.

Fortunately, there are alternatives, and the sources are dramatically improved from my research this time last year.  Look at these sites for safe toys:

Healthy Stuff Website

China Free Christmas  This is a great site that  lists hundreds of age appropriate toys, brands you can trust, and brands to watch carefully.

Top Ten Green Toys For Toddlers

There is no going back to the time when our parents knew that if a product was on the shelf in a retail store then it was safe.  We have to be vigilant. I will admit that I am not a purist.  In the past I have purchased toys from China, but the more research I do, the more determined I am to find safe  alternatives.  I understand the financial issue.  Toys made in China are usually much more affordable, but take a look at the volume of toys children receive at Christmas.  Perhaps it would be safer for the child, if Grandma and Grandpa purchased just one or two really healthy toys.

When you’re shopping, let the retailers in your city know your concerns.  It is working, by the way.  I’ve noticed that there are more alternative choices than ever this year.

Enjoy your holidays and happy shopping!


Let's Cooperate

Communities are facing economic hardship everywhere, but in the midst of these difficult times the cooperative business model is thriving.   The National Cooperative Business Association provides these statistics:  “Worldwide, roughly 750,000 cooperatives serve 730 million members.  Here in the U.S. some 72,000 co-op establishments operate, providing more than 2 million jobs and serving 120 million members, that’s 4 in 10 Americans.” The significance of supporting and using this model in our culture today cannot be overstated.  Who among us is not “fed up” with giant corporations who care only about their bottom line.  Obviously, every business needs to profit, but the co-op business model is about so much more.

Three main types of cooperatives exist: retail, marketing, and worker, but they all function primarily by the Rochdale Principles. To summarize, cooperatives are formed to meet their members’ needs, and are focused more on service than investment.  In our rapidly changing world, I believe we need to take a step back, and review some of the principles that were working for communities in the past.  I’ve stated several times on this blog, that I do not want to give up our innovations and technology; we are living in an awesome age, this 21st Century.  But, sometimes I believe we move too fast, and perhaps discard systems that are working.   The co-op model is one that we need to keep alive.

I’ve been a member of a retail food co-op for many years, but I’m becoming aware of myriad other options to be involved as a consumer.  I’ve detailed some of them below:

FIND A RETAIL FOOD CO-OP NEAR YOU:  Go to this website – Local Harvest
BABYSITTING CO-OPS:  Grandparents are babysitting ever more these days, sometimes full time.  Find a babysitting co-op near you, or learn how to set up one: 
ARTIST CO-OPS:  Art Chain or The Sketchbook Project
CAMPING GEAR:   Mountain Equipment Co-op
BANKING CO-OPS:  Cobank  and National Cooperative Bank
Grameen America  You must read about the Grameen Bank.  It has made a tremendous difference in lives, internationally, and it is now in America.
COOPERATIVE HOUSING:  National Assoc. of Housing Cooperatives

The  list above is very brief, but will give you a sample of the opportunities available to get involved with co-ops.  If you are interested, the links below will provide more information about starting a co-op:

For a detailed definition of types of cooperatives download:  The Structure of Cooperatives.  Also visit the Cooperative Development Institute. (A great resource)  Or, download a Co-op Start-up kit.

We’re all feeling a little uneasy these days.  My thoughts often wonder to the future, and what it holds for our grandchildren.  A lot of things in life have gone awry since we (The Boomers) were growing up.  But, as always it’s a balance, the yin and the yang.  We still have the power to affect positive change in our remaining years, to influence the world toward better options.  I believe one of those options involves huddling closer, holding onto things like the co-op model,  and remembering the value of our local communities.  Let’s make sure these options are still viable for those who come after us.