Who Knew??

<Jan. 15/11>

Just got the idea to do a bunch of “Who knew??” items. We’ll see where this goes….

  • Who knew I’d develop an addiction to latté – live without it for weeks & weeks at a time while out in the boonies (at “home”), but buy one almost daily while in Toronto? And discover a crazy (& surely unaccountable) price range. The place at the corner of Dundas & McCaul (near the Art Gallery, a handy spot for which I had such high hopes) charged me $5. for one. Sure won’t be darkening their door again!?
  • Who knew that, at the age of 56, I’d sell my dear little house (it really was a dear little house) & become a virtual nomad? Proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that you can indeed teach an old(ish) dog new tricks…
  • Who knew that after more than 20 years as an environmental activist, I’d learn of a new (old) issue & become so fired up about it? (I’m referring of course to the lead issue, my latest issue-to-be-fired up-about.)
  • Who knew that the lead industry would turn out to be as venal & nasty as the nuclear one? & who knew that I spent so many years being so darn naïve that if naivete were an indictable offence, I’d have been thrown in the slammer years ago for my fatal case of it?
  • Who knew that, as it turns out, the lead & nuclear industries have so much in common?
  • Who knew that the wonderful vegetarian restaurant ‘The Commensal’ in Toronto (right near the bus terminal at Bay & Dundas) serves beer?? OMG – I think I’ve died & gone to heaven!!
  • Who knew that microwave popcorn contains a chemical called diacetyl that is used to enhance taste, & that this chemical causes a horrid lung disease to the workers who are exposed to it? Yikes! (Learned this from the book Dodging the Toxic Bullet, mentioned below.)
  • Who could ever have told me that 16 years into a very (perhaps even prize-winningly) civil/civilized divorce, there would still be so darn much pain involved?? Not over the loss of the person so much as over all the other related, inevitable losses, fallout & “collateral damage.” Yikes. Who knew, indeed… (Funny. I wanted to make a joke about this in my remarks at the recent Darlington (new nuclear) hearings. I was tempted to say “We’re talking here about nuclear waste that will be horrifically dangerous/life-threatening for 100s of thousands of years. And I thought the fallout from my divorce was long-lived!?)
  • Who knew how much awesome fun I’d wind up having, & the amazing friendships I’d wind up making, when I began to “follow my bliss” & became an environmental activist & writer?
  • Who knew 20 years ago that “…lake trout in the alpine lakes at Banff National Park in Canada…are loaded with toxic pesticides used in Russia”?? (This from David Suzuki’s foreword to the David R. Boyd book Dodging the Toxic Bullet – How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards.) Yikes. & sheesh, is about all I can say on that score (also, I’m mighty glad about all that work I did as a volunteer to help educate others about pesticide use. That was sure a good call!)
  • Who knew that the author of the Toxic Bullet book just mentioned would wind up with a headache & burning eyes during his “Toxic Tour” of Sarnia, Ontario’s “Chemical Valley”? Again, yikes, & sheesh, & very happy I’m engaged in environmental work. Sure feels a whole lot better than just sitting around expecting it all to stop on its own (or, alternatively, pretending it isn’t happening).
  • Who knew that Canada, so widely regarded as a civilized country (Americans in particular seem to harbour some grand illusion about how good we are up here… & civilized. Ha!), would actually repeatedly earn truly deserved fossil fuel awards. And, like the U.S. & Australia, continue to allow a wildly toxic pesticide (atrazine) to be used (unlike the European Union, which has banned its use). Oh Canada indeed! We of the “corrupt petrostate” designation… The tar sands: our national disgrace & scandal (excellent documentary on it here)
  • Who knew I would come to be sooooooo sadly disillusioned about how “great” Canada is, & how self-interested our governing political party is? (John Kenneth Galbraith’s quote “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness” springs helpfully to mind here.)
  • Who ever-ever-ever knew that my knee-jerk proclivity to be … natural? ... would protect me from so many harms? I’ve never much cared for wearing make-up (turns out most of it is full of toxic stuff) or perfume (chemicals) & have felt like a weirdo anytime I’ve ever put on lipstick. Gave up dry-cleaning eons ago (had heard about perchlorethylene being vastly toxic, not to mention one of the “dirty dozen” we need to studiously avoid); have used clotheslines & a clotheshorse for years (to save money, but it also saves energy & thus helps with the climate change issue) – & it turns out that dryer sheets (which I used to use once upon a time occasionally, but also gave up eons ago when my favourite appliance repairman dude told me they can cause a fire in your dryer) contain dangerous VOCs - volatile organic compounds – & am always too “poor” to spend money on painting & renovations – which, it turns out, can also be a minefield of toxins (go here for how to renovate with care).

Seems as though “modern” life is awfully mighty toxic… so glad I have never felt obliged to “keep up!” (Although of course I do breathe in the same polluted air & drink the same tainted water as everyone else.)


P.S. & finally, who knew that that dysfunctional childhood of mine would wind up giving me so many useful lifelong habits? My not-very-nice father hated the ads on TV with a fierce passion – & was wildly, shall we say frugal – & these influences of his have helped me far more than I can say. Being independent of all those darn ads – & adept at living frugally …well, what can I say? Except a belated thank you to that not-very-nice father for some of his wildly useful & lasting attitudes!!

Quote of the day w. this post: “The single most important contribution any of us can make to the planet is a return to frugality.” – Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations