I learned about bear spray by accident when someone new moved into the neighborhood. My neighbor came calling to warn me that a bear had been spotted in the area. I shut the door and canceled my gardening plans for the day. I hate missing even one occasion to tend and water my plants. The seedlings will have to wait. I thought I had an old can of pepper spray in the garage and went looking, hoping it would come in handy. My husband promptly informed me that it is not the same as bear spray. Not at all. It is made of chili extract, propylene glycol and water. Bear spray is similar but is designed for just this one animal because of the higher concentration of capsaicinoids. You expect to find these threatening creatures in the wilderness, not near my home.

I wasn’t ready at all! I begged my husband not to leave me alone in the house to get some. I cowered in the easy chair in the den and turned on the TV, expecting to see something about the bear in the news. If I kept the windows and doors shut, maybe the bear would pass me by. If he liked young plants and beautiful flowers, he will stay for hours. Is it true they all love honey? Mercifully, I am not a beekeeper. When he is caught and safely ensconced in the zoo, I will get some bear spray from Self Defense Guide for future use.

Boredom from afternoon TV prompted me to look up the solution online. I was heartened to know that it stops undesirable bear behavior 92% of the time. It works best on brown bears, but pretty good on black, and absolutely perfectly on the polar type. Do people really go to the North Pole? The self defense method is a serious option given that people are known to be attacked by bears when hunting or camping. It comes down to your accuracy in delivering the spray. Above all, you want to avoid your own face (the wind could blow it there) as it will sting and burn your eyes, nose, and mouth. It is a great product to take with you into bear country. Now I live in it.

The bear hung out for two days as the animal control people roamed our street. He was spotted many times before he was finally captured. They use bear spray and huge nets. If they have to knock out an aggressive animal, they use a stun gun or a tranquilizer pellet. I would find out soon enough. The press came to interview my neighbor. It was such a rare occurrence that it made the evening news. All kinds of animal lovers came out of the woodwork to protest. How did they know it was a case of animal cruelty? What about the humans in its path? Didn’t they care about kids and pets either, not to mention my plants.

Let’s establish one fact. I am a home gardener who sells the produce of the season to the local farmer’s market. Most of the time it is an activity that fills my days, including weekends. If I am not tending to delicate new plants, I am delivering goods in my truck. It is a labor of love and you will never hear me complaining. I grow anything and everything that will respond to the local soil: carrots, green beans, turnips, tomatoes, berries, citrus fruit on my seven small trees, celery, and occasionally grapes. The latter is wonderful to look it—I love the sprawling vine. But the birds seem to know the day that they appear as they get there before I do. I just smile. At least I am feeding them with fresh fruit.

Meanwhile, I look after my garden day and night. Sometimes I get home late from a delivery and must survey the state of things in the dark. This is where my flashlight comes in handy. It sheds enough light to illuminate almost the entire garden space. The only problem with this practice is that I am using up so many batteries. It seems that I keep buying them in bulk, but they are gone before long. I need to visit the hardware store. They have an array of models and I hope to find one that lasts longer. The clerk said that there is a simple solution: a rechargeable flashlight, but the store didn’t have any. I went online to buy instead. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? I stumbled onto http://www.flashlightpro.net/best-rechargeable-led-flashlights/ They are a little more expensive but they more than make up for it in battery savings. If you are sick and tired of tossing those disposable batteries in the trash, this is certainly the way to go. For most people, whether they garden or not, this will be a change for the better.

You would be surprised what you might see while prowling your garden at night. The insects seem dormant but they can be their munching. The worst thing to find is an adorable baby rabbit leaving holes in your prized lettuce. This is bad because you do not want to cause the critter any harm, but you must shoo it off if you expect to make salad the next day. They say that rabbits are the most destructive animal for a garden as they love the tender plant leaves. And scarecrows and the like don’t work. You must get out there with your flashlight and hope that it scares them away. Part of gardening is pest protection and there are so many kinds. I balk at the thought of using any chemicals or sprays so it is up to be to be vigilant during the peak growing season. Sure, it takes time but you can alternate with a family member or friends who enjoys trading your veggies for those they grow. Make it a communal garden if you want the maximum amount of healthy produce in the end.

As a natural gardener (no chemicals or sprays), I am friendly with the local health food store. I supply some produce along with that I sell at the farmer’s market. I also shop at the health store and even buy personal toiletries such as face soap and cosmetics. They have a line of all-natural items that is very appealing to people like me who don’t like additives in their shampoo or bath gel. While I have been happy with the brands the store offers, the manager advised me recently of a new line. He wanted me to try it out and give him my opinion that he would use to decide whether to continue to stock the shelves with new inventory. I agreed as a good customer and friend. Just get me started.

The manager packed up some items in varying sizes. I was not sure what was in the bag until I got home. I was pleased to see a non-scented face wash (some of them are so artificial) and some sensitive skin soap. There was some shampoo in a pretty golden honey color and some hair rinse. I had quite a sampling of products. There was also some natural makeup in a bottle and night cream in a jar. What surprised me the most was the mascara. Who would expect that in a health food store. I have bought vitamin C serum there, but never coating for my eyelashes.

I tried out everything over a week’s time and was satisfied with the results. The products made my skin feel soft and there were no intrusive smells like you get with commercial products. Manufacturers think this is appealing, but let me tell them—it isn’t. I was happy overall but drew the line at the mascara. The applicator was stiff and made the black goo stick to my eyelashes such that I thought it would never come off. In point of fact, when I did try to remove it that night, some of my eyelashes fell out. Oh, my God! Are they going to grow back? Alas, in a week, I found that they did when I visited http://www.eyelashestodiefor.com/. I was so relieved. I threw away the rest of the mascara and went back immediately to the old standby. I am now in the hunt for another all-natural mascara that contains soothing oils and moisturizers. I guess people like the kind that lasts all day and doesn’t run, but that means the ingredients are too harsh.

Make up is very personal and you need to find what works best for you. Believe me, you don’t want any eyelash mishaps. I learned my lesson. I was hesitant to tell the manager, but I had to warn him of the reality of the product. He thanked me for my honesty and was sorry I had a rough time. He had liked the other offerings of the company, but the mascara will never return.

I love having a garden out back. According to the seasons, I can grow certain vegetables to supply my dinner table and also have enough left over for my clients at the farmer’s market. It is more than a hobby. It is truly a way of life. In the kitchen, I grow little pots of herbs to season the vegetables I produce. I am a mini farmer in essence and the “farm” is growing. As I till the soil, I have more space for new plants. I sometimes wish I lived in the country on acres of land and that I had a full-scale business going with employees and all. I would need a source of water, but I am always researching vegetables that work well in dryer climates and don’t need to be drenched. I would learn to depend on the rainfall and would have out at all times my trusty almanac.

I am a DIY person and that goes for many things. I do my own household cleaning and repair and some of my car maintenance within reason. My neighbors and I share skills and trade off working for one another so it is an even trade. I have a lot to offer what with all the vegetables I grow. I also make baked goods and bread in my new bread machine that sits atop the kitchen counter proud to do its job. I love to make gifts of cookies and different breads and in return I get all kinds of homemade meals. I also take the breads, wrapped in plastic, to the farmer’s market where they go like hot cakes. No one makes their own breads any more—except for me! People love my rosemary bread made with fresh herbs that I have grown. I am going to branch out and learn to make tomato sauce with basal and oregano, also produced at home. I will put it in sealed jars and add it to my offerings at the market. If I get really ambitious, I will try to sell it to local family-owned restaurants who value homemade rather than store bought.

The world is a busy place and store bought is the only recourse for most people. I feel sorry for them. The taste of homemade is far superior. It isn’t a matter of cost. The prices at the supermarket don’t seem to deter shoppers from loading up. If I can give them an inkling of what a few homemade things are like, I might get some real converts. We need to attract these old-fashioned souls to the farmer’s market and rid them of their assumptions. Healthy is not a chemically-engineered tomato. Healthy is produced in the unfertilized earth. I hope you join me in my quest and help me spread the word. Meanwhile I am enjoying baking in my kitchen: the odor is divine. More than a few neighbors have noticed. So come on over. I am happy to share.

I can get passionate about certain subjects, principally those that pertain to what is happening to the environment. I get heated when people are indifferent and don’t choose to do even small things that are considered green. It gets me into a lecture mode when I start to spout statistics and even get to the point of spreading fear about the consequences in decades to come of ignoring the needs of our planet. I recall a certain argument with my neighbor that got our tempers to flare over what is better for the environment: natural gas heat, a space heater, or a fire in the fireplace. Guess where I stand? My neighbor said you have to be warm in the cold weather no matter how. I laughed. This is a preposterous statement. You can be warm in many ways the least of which is to put on a heavy sweater and socks. If that is uncomfortable for you, you can also stay warm and green at the same time by lighting a fire. This is what having a wood stove is all about. It is not a decorative object or a way to add value to your home when it is time to put it on the market.

It is a practical device with a specific purpose dating back to the days of yore. That we still have them at all is testimony to man’s intelligence about providing a natural form of heat. You don’t have to use electricity. Some people leave the heat on all day and night to be toasty warm but look at their utility bills! Also look at the energy waste compounded to infinity by adding every citizen on earth. Let’s hope as you read this blog that you do in fact have a fireplace. If you are in Southern California or Florida, you may not and I forgive you for using a space heater. Just use it at the minimum. For the rest of you, get outside and chop some wood. It will be good exercise! I really believe we can save the planet from man’s continual devastation and we owe it to ourselves to try. The fireplace as the focal point of the heat source of your home is but one way that millions of us can oblige. Get in the habit of using it in the winter and find ways of cutting down on air conditioning in the summer by using ceiling fans. I believe there is an ecological answer to everything. Join me in praising those who comply and our numbers are growing steadily. There is so much information online now as to how to live green that there is no excuse for being indifferent. Ignorance is easily remedied. There is always time in your day to find out more. You can grow food in a garden, cut down on the size of your appliances, recycle anything you can and protect our saturated landfills.

I grow vegetables and bring them to a farmer’s market to sell to the public who wants produce grown with the best principles in mind for the environment. This includes saving water, which is no easy task, for any climate except maybe Seattle. You must adjust what you grow and your vegetables have to survive without being deluged with water. I spend a lot of time researching ancient techniques that we can apply today to cut down on the excess.

People who attend the farmer’s market don’t just want fresh; they want something grown with respect to the land. They want to know that someone made the effort to cut down on water and fertilizers that reside in the land polluting it with undesired chemicals. The market I supply has a healthy group of attendees who rely on us growers to give them what they want. If it isn’t home-grown, it is shunned. They know that certain vegetables and fruits are seasonal and they wait patiently to get what they want during certain times of the year. They are rather knowledgeable about the whole process. I help spread the word with news articles and flyers on the subject. It brings business to the market and helps support local growers like me. There is an automatic audience for what I produce and it keeps me in business. It is not just a profit motive that drives me but the desire to work the land in old-fashioned ways that are not exploitative. Those of a kindred spirit band together as a community united under similar beliefs. We are trying to increase our ability to feed the city and so far a few small farms have to do all the work. If more people even grew what they needed, we would make a dent in the problems that face the environment.

I can get preachy as you can see but I am also practical. I try not to use plastic bags to haul my produce to market. I only want to carry vegetables and fruits in reusable bags. In this vein, I have a very large backpack that I found after reading Backpacks Magazine with separate zippered compartments for special items that I want to receive extra care. In addition, I have some other heavy-duty totes that I use over and over again. They get a bit dirty, so I started rinsing my vegetables before taking them to the market. It saves time as I don’t have to rinse the bags each and every time.

They are too heavy for the washing machine so this solves the problem. People want their produce clean in any case. The days of paper are long gone and even plastic. People who come to the market also bring their fabric totes which are filled in no time. The produce is so appealing in appearance and because it is home grown. It doesn’t have that fake perfect look of supermarket chemically-engineered food. You don’t want to eat something grown in a test tube.

Sometimes I spend an entire day bending over in the garden to inspect my crop. It takes a toll on my back, and while gardening is good exercise, it doesn’t get all the muscles. I want more of a balanced workout—one that is aerobic but also tones you up. The problem is getting the time. Marketing my produce keeps me hopping most every day, but I am going to set aside some time before it is too late. Once I find the right gym and program to suit my needs, I will be faithful to the regime. But I have to select what I want to do, where I want to do it, and get signed up.

I took a tour of a nearby gym to assess its facilities and equipment. It looked well stocked and the people working out looked content. It was clean as a whistle and had a nice locker room, sauna, showers, and jacuzzi. What more could you want. There were all kinds of machines in the weight room of which I know nothing about. Then there were the usual ellipticals, treadmills, and rowing machines. I can see that people vary their time in the gym and do cross training. What really caught my eye, however, was the boxing bag. A healthy young man was punching away at this moving target. As I watched, he got faster and faster, his fists slamming the bag with directed aggression. Then he started to move about on swift feet that got his heart rate going no doubt. He circled the bag with hopping motions. I could see myself doing it. It looked like fun. I liked seeing the sweat pouring from his brow. This is the best kind of aerobic workout you can imagine. If you work out with a trainer, you can learn to jab and direct your thrusts to develop skills. Most people do it as a form of exercise that is akin to dancing in many ways. You shuffle your feet and control your fists all at the same time. It is great for balance, getting the heart rate up, and toning the arms and legs. You can add other exercises for the abdomen, but even that gets attention as you box.

I asked about a beginner’s program at the gym and they said “no problem.” We have classes and personal trainers so you can catch up and progress more rapidly. I will do a bit of both. I expect faster results that way. No more guilt about neglecting my body, and boxing will help me do something for my back beyond bending over. I am so happy to have been turned on by a new sport, something I wouldn’t normally have considered on my own for a million years. It is growing in popularity with both men and women and I can see why. For me it is a real change of pace. I love that I have a more balanced life. Stress is gone, I sleep better, and my back no longer aches.

If you live in a place that has a particularly dry climate or you believe you will soon be going through a drought or a dry spell, storing water for future use does not seem like a bad idea. In fact, it is a very good course of action to take especially if you had the unfortunate of experience of having had little or no water on a previous dry day.

To solve this problem from occurring or possible reoccurring, why don’t we use an eco-friendly ancient technique of storing water for future use? Since the beginning of time, humans and animals understood the overall importance of water for survival. People have always understood that water is an essential part of life. In order to continue living and thriving in areas that had dry climates, they had to figure out a method of storing water long ago, as we must do now.

Drinking Water

In ancient India, the people stored water in brass vessels. This allowed them to be able to use the stored water for multiple methods, even drinking. In recent years, scientists have proven without a doubt that water can be stored in brass containers and still be safe to drink. The copper in the brass destroys the bacteria that could potentially harm humans.

Besides brass, water can be stored in containers that are food-biodegradable and still be safe for drinking. If you store drinking water in a plastic jug or gallon milk jug, it will not last very long. To keep safe, when putting tap water in containers for drinking at a later time, it is best to add a 1/2 teaspoon of chlorine dioxide to keep the water safe.

Gardening Water

If you need to store water for later use to water your garden or plants. Rainwater can be safely stored. Keep containers in a dark and dry place with a lid to prevent debris getting in the water. Sunlight and warm, moist areas can cause algae and bacteria to grow.

You can still use this water to water your plants or garden on a dry day. It’s common sense, to not water your plants or drink stagnant water with debris floating in it.

Water that is safely and correctly stored for either reason can be used for 6 to 12 months. Rotate it if you wish. It can last much longer if properly maintained.