Secret Recycling Nerd

English: Recycle logoI have always been a bit of a recycling nerd.  When I was in elementary school the municipal government had a series of industrial recycling boxes located throughout the city.  There was one just down the road from our house. I remember taking all the recyclables (newspapers, cans, glass, and possibly plastic) down to the big green bin and dumping them in.  The crash that resulted from tossing the glass was particularly satisfying.  We may have even fought over that job.  Probably.

But my interest in recycling extended beyond the neighbourhood depot.  In grade seven we needed to raise money for out outdoor education program and so we did a couple of bottle drives.  As we were walking through the streets canvassing for empties I thought what a good idea it would be to get people to sign up for regularly scheduled pick ups.  Imagine the money we would make! (Imagine the inconvenience to our parents!)

I probably can’t take credit for our current system of weekly recycling pick-up, but I can at least say that I did think of it before it was implemented.  Regardless, it was only a few years later that I got a chance to see the weekly pick-up system in action.  My aunt and uncle live in Victoria.  I’m not certain of how the recycling program came about (and Google was less then helpful this morning), but I seem to recall that our province’s capital was one of the first municipalities in BC to implement a blue box curbside recycling program.  I remember being really impressed, and somewhat jealous.  All they had to do was put out their recycling with the trash – we had to lug ours down to the recycling bins!  It was a day of rejoicing for all lazy and well-meaning teenagers, myself included, when my hometown introduced their own blue bin program.

For years we have been putting the recycling out with the trash, but this fall we will be adding a little something to the refuse: organic waste materials!  This means that any uneaten food, paper that has had food touch it (like pizza boxes), yard trimmings, etc, will all be picked up by a separate truck that – get this – runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and emits 23% less carbon and 90% less air particulates than a regular diesel truck.  And on top of it all, the organic waste that these trucks pick up will be used to produce the fuel that makes then run.  Based on calculations done from the pilot program, diverting organic waste should reduce a household’s garbage by about 50%.

All of this sounds extremely cool, and I really hope it works as well as they say. If you can’t tell, I am very excited about all of this.  I even catch myself mentally sorting the organic waste from the garbage and thinking, “In October this won’t be going to the dump!” Now that’s nerdy.


Most Beautiful Thing: Cate is Four

This is my Cate.  She turned four on Saturday.  We celebrated by going to the waterpark and playground.  Of course I didn’t get a chance to take photos:)

I just want to say something about this beautiful little girl. We waited quite a while for this lovely child, trying to discern the best time to add to our family while juggling grad school and job hunting.  When we were searching for baby names I googled “long awaited one” because I thought that would be appropriate.  Unfortunately the name that comes closest to that meaning is “Bane.”  Suffice to say we didn’t go with that one.

Cate’s full name is Catherine Elanor.  Catherine is for the fourth-century Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who was extremely beautiful and intelligent princess of Alexandria.  Apparently the philosophers who questioned her about her faith were so convinced by her arguments that they all converted to Christianity and were subsequently executed.  Catherine herself was eventually beheaded for her faith.

Elanor is for a couple of people.  The first is Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II and mother of Richard the Lionheart.  I have read her story from a couple of different perspectives (including the amazing movie The Lion in Winter) and I have always been impressed with Eleanor’s strength of character.  Secondly, Eleanor is the name of the heroine of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility who undergoes great personal stress in silence because she valued duty and honour. She also gets her man in the end.

Elanor also is a reference to the Lord of the Rings. At the end of Return of the King Sam comes home and marries his sweetheart, Rosie.  Their first child is a daughter.  Sam is stuck on a name and so he consults Frodo.  Hobbits generally name their children after flowers, and so Frodo suggests naming their daughter “Elanor” after the star-flower that grows in the elf-land of Lothlorien. That’s how we came up with the spelling.

So my sweet Cate is named after a saint-princess, a queen, a gentlewoman, and a hobbit-child who was a symbol of healing after the Great War of the Ring.  How’s that for a loaded heritage?  I don’t see this as a burden for her, but a set of examples that she can look up to, admire, and emulate.

I wanted strong and beautiful names for my daughter because I want her to be strong and beautiful.  I want her to be able to stand up for herself, to know her own mind, and to choose the good and the beautiful over the tawdry and the mundane.  It is nice that she is beautiful on the outside, but what really makes her special is the joy that is inside her, that spark of life and loveliness that draws your eyes to her again and again.

Want to know something else?  “Catherine” means “pure.”  “Elanor” is derived from “Helen” and means “light.”  My Catherine Elanor is “pure light.”  That about sums it up, right there.

Happy Birthday Cate.

Seven Dollar Smile

I am grateful for Costco. I once calculated that our membership pays for itself in the savings that we get from purchasing Harvest farmer sausages there rather than at any other grocery store. Seriously, at Costco they are $12 for eight and at Pricemart they are $7 for three. That’s roughly 50% cheaper. Consider this your shopping tip for the day!

The difficulty is that everything at Costco tends to be rather large, this also being the point of a bulk discount store. So when one purchases a two litre bottle of neutral grapeseed oil for a fabulous price and it doesn’t fit in one’s cupboard, one keeps the grapeseed oil on the counter beside the stove. And it looks pretty ugly after a while.

Enter the oil cruet. While I was at Home Outfitters picking up a wedding present I checked out the cruets and was surprised to learn that a basic cruet was only $2.99! You can get fancy ones that mix oil and vinegar for you, but all I needed was a basic cruet. Into the shopping cart it went. That night I washed them out and filled them up. I now have two cruets of oil (one grapeseed, one olive) as well as a bottle of balsamic vinegar sitting on a glass fish plate just to the left of my stove. And it looks SO much better. I got to use the olive oil cruet on Sunday night. It was extremely exciting!


I am continually amazed at how visual clutter just eats away at me. It sits there in the back of my brain, nagging away. And my brain just keeps plugging away at it until it arrives at a solution. I know that this probably takes up a lot of mental energy, but it is worth it. I get such a feeling of satisfaction when I come up with a solution that works. And the best thing is that I didn’t need to spend $30 to fix the problem. Just seven dollars, including tax.



I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads for the past month or so.  I quit my job in June and I have spent the past two months recollecting myself, taking a bit of a breather, and generally being busier than I had anticipated for this summer.  I am definitely “in between” right now and it is not always a comfortable place to be.

Last night I had a horrible sleep.  Wretched.  I got to bed at 1:00 (I was sorting papers downstairs and catching up on correspondence) and Cate woke up with a nightmare at 1:10.  I stayed in bed with her until about 2:30 just dozing, no sleep as my brain was still going a mile a minute. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep until about 3:30 and then I first woke up at 6:30 and got up at 7:30.

Thankfully, the kids slept late this morning and I was able to shower, pray, and eat before they were awake.  I hopped on the computer to go through my usual blogroll and these two quotes popped up when I came to SwissMiss:

“You can do anything, but not everything.”
— David Allen


“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
– Mary Oliver

Indeed.  Food for thought.