An Environmental Plea to Dentists Everywhere

I visit my dentist several times a year, and each time, some member of his staff insists that I leave with a plastic bag which contains a plastic toothbrush in its plastic packaging, along with a plastic container of floss and a toothpaste sample. They simply will not take no for an answer.

Here’s the thing. I use a Sonicare toothbrush, and my dentist knows this, so I have no need for these toothbrushes. And I now have enough toothpaste samples in my linen closet to last the rest of my natural life. Okay, yeah, the floss I can use. But the rest? A heaping helping of plastic that the planet could do without.

I try to mitigate this. Recently my husband and I donated a gigantic pile of toothbrushes to a shelter, and will also probably do the same thing with 90 percent of the toothpaste samples eventually. But the product manufacturers could just as easily do this themselves and produce the same amount of good will.

Given the number of dentists in the world who give out samples, I have no doubt that somewhere, floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is an island of dental samples the size of the state of Vermont. And it’s all so unnecessary! Seriously, I’ve lost sleep over this. So here’s my plea to dentists everywhere:

  • Don’t have your hygienists force samples upon your patients that they don’t want or need.

  • If you insist on giving out said samples, do so in a paper bag, at the very least.

  • Even better: have your samples on display in the waiting room, and urge your patients to help themselves to what they need.

  • Prevail upon your dental product manufacturers to reduce their plastic packaging.

Please spread the word about this. It’s not a difficult change to make, but it would make such a difference.

Dental samples

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Saving Money by Using Libraries? Why Is That a Controversy?

In this age of social media, things seem to get all out of proportion a lot more quickly than in days of yore. Personally, when I saw this image floating around in cyberspace, I was charmed. What a lovely way to remind people how valuable their libraries are!

Library Savings

But according to this article, that’s when it all went pear-shaped. Some people got upset that all that money that’s saved by using a library is money that isn’t going into an author’s pocket.

I hate to tell you this, but authors only make a very small cut from book sales. As an author myself, I know it’s mostly pennies on the dollar. Unless you’re a best selling author, you shouldn’t quit your day job. (And in most countries, you still get those pennies if the book is purchased by a library, for what it’s worth.)

Granted, more people read that same book, but it’s a heck of a lot more profitable for us than if someone buys the book and then sells it used on Amazon—thus depriving us of a potential buyer, and causing us not to see any of the money at all.

That, and I really don’t want people to clutter their house up with books they’re only going to read once. Hug a tree and free yourself from chaos. Use your library!

My book is currently in 6 libraries that I know of. That makes me so proud. I’d love it if you’d ask your library to get a copy, too! I want my book to be read. That was the whole point of writing it. I’d much rather have someone read it by borrowing it from a library than if they never see it at all due to lack of funds.

Most of us can’t afford to buy every book we read. That’s the whole point of libraries. Share information. Share knowledge. Encourage reading. I am totally down with that.

So keep saving money. Keep visiting your library!

A Romantic Day Trip

I often think of one of my favorite movies, As Good As It Gets. And one of my favorite quotes therein is by Carol, played by Helen Hunt:

“I want your life for one minute where my biggest problem is someone offering me a free convertible so I can get outta this city.”

We all need a change of scenery every once in a while, don’t we? I think the most romantic thing you can do for a person is provide them with that, if even for just an afternoon. Experiencing something different together, being able to breathe a little deeper, having the opportunity to set your worries aside and gain new perspective, is how you make wonderful memories. And wonderful memories are the bedrock of a relationship.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be a walk in the woods with a picnic basket. It should just be a brief respite from the every day.

Of course, I’m not opposed to expensive, either. Recently, dear husband and I drove along one of my favorite scenic byways, Chuckanut Drive. It stretches along the coast of Washington State between Bellingham and Burlington. The views are just gorgeous. We decided to stop for lunch at a delightful restaurant called The Oyster Bar and indulge in an incredible dining experience.

First of all, this restaurant is perched on top of a cliff, and overlooks an actual working oyster bar. When the tide is low you can see the oysters. You can also see them on your plate.

We had an appetizer of baked oysters, topped with pancetta, heirloom tomato, chives, creamed spinach, and herbed bread crumbs. If the portion had been larger, I’d have been satisfied if this where my entire meal.

But for the main course, we decided to go with seafood stew, which included mussels, clams, prawns, scallops and fresh fish, simmered in a coconut/curry/lime broth with shitake mushrooms, snap peas, and basmati rice. The Salish Sea on a plate. Yum.

Even reading this makes me forget my troubles. What a memory. I highly recommend getting “outta” your city to make some memories of your own.

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We Have Always Had Needs

Recently, I stumbled across an article entitled “12th-Century Poem About A Virgin Arguing With Her Vulva Uncovered in Austrian Monastery”. I ask you, how could one not be intrigued? I had to read more.

It seems that this is the oldest known copy of this satire, but it is not the only one that has been found. In it, a woman is debating with her vulva about what attracts men more, it, or the woman’s general physical appearance. (I don’t think that question has been answered definitively, even all these centuries later.)

What fascinates me most about this poem is that there was obviously a frank discussion about sexuality even back in the 12th Century. We seem to hold two contradicting notions in our head: Ancient peoples were devoid of morals and self-control, whereas we are more sophisticated (read: prudish) now. But at the same time, we look back at past history, at least in the European, Christian sense, and tend to believe that humans have become more open, less conservative, over time. Clearly neither theory tells the whole story.

I also remember reading an article (which I can no longer find) about a wooden dildo that was found hidden up inside a fireplace niche in Colonial Williamsburg. Well, the “hidden” aspect of it implies there was a source of shame there, but its existence confirms that people have always had needs, and were willing to get creative to fulfill them.

If you look at art through the centuries, you’ll see that there has always been a fascination with genitalia. Most historians nervously attribute these things to fertility, the need to procreate, and take the sexuality out of it.

Hmph.

According to this article, sex toys have been found that date back 28,000 years. So who’s to say that fertility statues weren’t also used for pleasure and visual titillation? I mean, come on. Most of us appreciate a little stimulation now and again. Do we really think pornography originated in the 1900’s? Do we think the more artistic depictions of all things taboo began with Georgia O’Keefe?

We also seem to want to quash the fact that once upon a time, women were considered powerful by more than just those of us who are woke. (Women can create men inside their own bodies. The reverse cannot ever be claimed. That’s magical.)

This article discusses a variety of artistic depictions of female genitalia, including sculptures of the sacred yoni in Hindu art, Venus figurines that are at least 35,000 years old, and Sheela-na-gig carvings of women with exaggerated vulvas that are found throughout Europe.

Further, Baubo figurines were popular in ancient Greece. They were often depicted as a naked headless body with a female face emerging from the torso, and a vulva on the chin. Hmmm.

In the Palauan archipelago, one could often find Dilukai, or carvings of women with their legs splayed open, above the doors of the houses of the chiefs. These were said to be sacred carvings to ward off evil, and symbolize fertility and spiritual rebirth. But missionaries tried to claim they were there to shame immoral women. (I suspect that what went on in the chief’s house had little to do with lessons in morality.)

It is even said that the Vesica Piscis, an almond-shaped symbol that appears all over the place throughout history, including in the ancient Christian fish symbol, is actually a depiction of the female vaginal source of creation.

Personally, I see no reason to cast shame upon those who believe in the sacred female, nor should we feel shame about the body parts that have allowed all of us to walk upon this earth, nor in the urges that have caused us to make use of said body parts. More power to us all.

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A 12th-century Sheela Na Gig on a Church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England

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Cities from the Water

Anytime I’m visiting a city that’s on the water, I make an effort to take advantage of their ferries and water taxis. Since these modes of transport are often used by the locals, they are usually reasonably priced. In addition, the face of a city that is gazing upon the river, canal, lake, or ocean is often its best side, and gives you a perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise. It also gives you an opportunity to rest your weary feet while still sightseeing.

Recently, I visited Vancouver and enjoyed riding on the False Creek Ferries. You can get a 16 dollar day pass and ride to 9 different stops along the shore as many times as you like. They share 8 of those stops with a competitor named Aquabus.

False Creek Vancouver

But upon reflection, I’ve done this type of thing many times throughout the years. Here are some other trips I’ve taken.

In Istanbul, I took a ferry across the Bosporus from Europe to Asia and back. You get some amazing palace views that way. I also took a car ferry from Selçuk to Istanbul and that was kind of a cultural crossroads experience.

Also while in Turkey, I took a boat from the city of Side to Manavgat Falls. It was a lovely, lazy trip on an old teak vessel equipped with hammocks. The water was so turquoise (a color description that originated in Turkey) that it almost made my eyes hurt.

From Side to Manavgat Falls in Turkey

If you ever visit Toronto, Canada, I highly recommend the Central Island Ferry. It gives you some unforgettable views of the city from Lake Ontario. And Central Island is a delight.

TN1_003SkylineFromCentreIslandFerry.JPG

One of the first boat trips I took out here was from Edmonds to historic Port Townsend, Washington. What a gorgeous town from the water and on dry land. Highly recommended.

Port Townsend

I’ve also been to Vashon Island, Washington a few times now. What a treat!

Vashon Island Ferry

If you ever get a chance to go to Venice, Italy, and don’t get out on the water somehow, if only by Water taxi, then you haven’t done it right. But I really recommend that you spring for a gondola ride. It’s the trip of a lifetime.

Gondola Venice.JPG

To get to Venice in the first place, I took a ferry from Piran, Slovenia, across the Adriatic Sea. That was an amazing trip.

Venice from the Ferry.JPG

I’ve also cruised down Rhine River in Germany, and gazed at the many castles along the way. But that trip was so long ago that my photos, alas, aren’t digital, and I’ll probably never get around to scanning them.

I was thrilled to discover that you can take a ferry down the entire coast of Croatia for next to nothing. I actually felt guilty. At the time, it was less than 5 dollars. I hope they’ve wised up since then.

Croatian Ferry

And I took a hydrofoil from Fethiye, Turkey to Rhodes, Greece. That was amazing. (The tiny boat next to the two large cruise ships was our hydrofoil. And that’s me standing in the water.)

Hydrofoil at Rhodes

If you want to see the very best of Seattle on an amazing vessel, I highly recommend that you charter the Mallory Todd, through the Seattle Locks. Check out my post about that here.

Mallory Todd Through the Locks

And what better way to experience the Mississippi River than to ride on paddle boat from Hannibal, Missouri, hometown of Mark Twain?

Hannibal Missouri

I also recommend checking out the canals in Utrecht and Amsterdam, Holland. There’s nothing quite like that.

Holland.JPG

Any city on the water should be experienced on the water. You’ll be glad you did.

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Little Free Gardens!

Recently I started a Little Free Library, and it’s been so popular that I can barely keep up with it. I’ve also blogged about Chat Benches, which is another community-building idea whose time definitely has come. From here, a friend told me about another fantastic idea: Little Free Gardens.

According to the website, “The goal of the Little Free Garden project is to foster communities committed to growing, sharing and cultivating food in small gardens, placed in residential or public spaces.”

What a brilliant concept. And it’s simple, really. 1) Build a box, perhaps 4 feet by 2 feet and 12 inches deep. 2) Plant vegetables or fruit therein. 3) Place it in your front yard or in an approved public space, so that the produce can be shared by anyone who wants or needs it.

Not only are you helping to feed others, but you are educating them about the value of fresh, high quality, local food, and encouraging gardening. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and build community connections.

What’s not to love about this idea? If you don’t have the time or space to plant a little free garden, please consider hopping over to their website and supporting this organization in its good works.

clases_doctoradoe

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Another Scammer Messed With

If you recall my post Messing with a Scammer, you’ll know that I take great delight in acting stupid and gullible in order to waste the time of a con artist. I look at it as a civic duty. The more time they spend with me, the less time they’ll spend bilking little old ladies out of their life savings.

It seems I’m not alone in this pastime, because a loved one of mine recently shared this exchange that he had with your basic scumbag. He was doing an honest day’s work when his phone beeped, and he came across a text from a coworker. But red flags went up because the text was coming from a strange number, and his language and syntax seemed a little off. I’m sure it wasn’t hard for the scammer to find out that they were coworkers on line, and then search for his phone number. Then they were off to the races, as the saying goes.

Scam1

Knowing his coworker would never make such a request, he decided to play along.

Scam2

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen, buddy. So now he started acting like he wasn’t very clever about these complicated tech thingies.

Scam3

Scam4

Ooh, the genious scammer sent a photo! Just trying to be helpful. Which made my friend look on line for some photos of his own to send back.

Scam5

Now the scammer is convinced he is dealing with a fool. But he’s the fool. He sent his e-mail. Wanna mess with him too? Please, please do! Sign him up for as much spam e-mail as you can possibly think of.

Scam6.jpg

Scam7

Hee hee.

Scam8

Now Mr. Scammer starts getting testy.

Scam9

Scam10

I’d include more screen shots, but it’s just another 50 or so idiot-related images that my friend sent to tie up scammer’s phone. But hey, if the phone number or the e-mail are still active, I strongly encourage you to mess with this dimwit. It’s a dirty job, but in the end, it’s quite satisfying, and a lot more fun than waiting for karma to bite him in the butt.

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