Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This land was made for you and me

I have no power at my house as I write this. I’m using what battery power I have left on my laptop to write a blog post in hopes that some time today power will be restored and I will be able to post it. My assumption for why I have no power has to do with the fact that I live in the desert and it is snowing, IN APRIL! And everyone knows that desert dwellers panic when the roads turn ever so slightly white (or wet, or windy, or dirty) and in this panic tear down power lines with their SUVs that they think can handle anything. (Sweet lady doing your make-up, yelling at your kids, talking on your phone, and nervously driving too fast/slow: you need new tires on your people mover, and said people mover is top heavy. Please be safe.) I’m sure there are poor souls out there in the snow right now trying to restore power to my neighborhood, cursing the fact that it’s snowing IN APRIL, and shaking their heads at those idiot desert dwelling drivers.

The irony is not lost on me that I can’t post my blog post for the read along about the Waste chapter of 7 because I have no power at my house. How many times I have begged for a solar power system that can bail me out when everyone else is without the absolutely necessary energy that powers our TVs, computers, etc., etc., etc. Oh God, you’re so creative in your mocking of my idols! This chapter was another one for me of feeling confident going in and walking away with some serious heart conviction. Marla invited us to share our stories, and I jump at any opportunity to talk about myself, so let’s go!

I grew up going to Arlo Guthrie concerts with my dad, and singing heartily along when Arlo performed his daddy’s song, “This Land is Your Land” then coming home and consuming like it was my God-given right. In 5th grade our school had a whole green initiative thing (way ahead of its time) in which we all were shown videos of landfills with animated characters telling us the horrors of greenhouse gasses. We had an end of year musical all about Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling in which all of the kids were encouraged to obtain Styrofoam containers to use as puppets. Oh the irony. The only thing we recycled in our house was aluminum cans because nothing else could be recycled within our county, and dad made a few bucks off of selling aluminum.

Fast forward 20+ years to our current life. I am the crazy lady digging through the trash (mine and my neighbors) looking for things misplaced. In the kitchen/pantry we have a trash can, a recycling bin, an aluminum can, a bag of CDs to be mailed to recycle, a bag of batteries to be taken somewhere, a bag of plastic that our city won’t recycle but I can take to Whole Food’s, a bag of plastic bags to be recycled, and a bag of paper bags to be reused as bags or packaging material. The glass recycling is in the shed, and boxes go straight out to the giant recycling bin that I keep asking the City to kindly make bigger or give me two of. Have I thought of reducing my waste? Not really: it looks smaller once it's parceled out in so many different ways. My husband is a mechanic, so our home garage is filled (and emptied regularly) with steel, aluminum, copper, and batteries that otherwise would have ended up in the dumpster at work. I have piles of old t-shirts waiting to be turned into yarn and knitted into rugs. Yes, I am that crazy earthy crunchy lady you would prefer not to have as a neighbor because I don’t spray for weeds or bugs, and often only water outside plants if I have water in my trash-can-turned-rain-barrel.

I am however not as conscientious about my food. Our first year in our house I had a garden. My dog ate the oregano, squash bugs destroyed my zucchini, and my husband refused to eat anything made with fresh tomatoes. Everything else I killed because I didn’t want to waste the water to make it grow. So after drying an entire yard-full of basil, and giving some pretty ugly tomatoes away I gave up on growing things in the desert. I buy organic food when it’s convenient. I buy local food almost never. Part of that is laziness, and part of that is for safety reasons. Around these parts everything local (restaurants, farmers markets, even beer) is tainted with green chile. The locals love it! I’m deathly allergic. There are times of year when I can’t leave my house because folks are roasting fresh crops on seemingly every street corner in hopes that they can send me to the hospital with anaphylaxis. More than once I have asked God why he placed us here of all places, and more than once he has answered me with a million reasons that don’t include green chile. For breakfast this morning I had rice cakes from California, cheese from Illinois, avocados and grapes from Chile, fair-trade coffee from who-knows-where, half and half from Colorado, and sugar from Hawaii. My belly sure does get around!

 And this is all me, not even taking into account the little four legged babies in our house. Part of me cringes when buying Venison & Rice dog food in 50 lb bags because one of my babies gets sick from anything containing lamb, beef, or corn. Don’t even get me started on the nasty feline things that existed in my husband’s life before I did! I could feed a lot of people with the money I spend on these 4 fur balls! But then I remember that every one of our babies was abused, neglected, thrown out in the desert to die, or found starving on the streets. So I give them their expensive food, cover them with blankies, and pray for humans who are suffering worse fates than my animals. Ugh! That’s just ugly heart stuff right there.

Finally is the vehicle situation. We have two cars, but probably could do with only one. We have toyed with this idea, my husband biking to work every once in a while, looking up bus schedules, dreaming of lower fuel costs in our budget, but it would be so hard to make this transition that we have both discouraged the other from doing more research. We have hand-me-down cars which have benefited us financially, but have left us with a bit of an eco-friendly conundrum. My husband drives a Miata, I don’t drive it because I drive only automatic transmission vehicles. I have no desire to learn, don’t tell me how easy it is, it just results in crying and fighting with my husband that I don’t wish to revisit. Anyway, he averages 30+ mpg and fills ups every couple weeks. It’s a good deal for us. I drive an F-150, and I love my big truck. There are parts of town I hide my face in shame while driving my honkin’ truck through, and I have been yelled at more than once in a parking lot by angry hippies. They get into their Pruis’ not thinking of the environmental impact the giant battery in their car has but yell at me for averaging 15+ mpg. By the way, I fill up my tank about once a month.

Why do I love my truck? Because it is the means to many ends. All that automotive waste I mentioned earlier could not be so easily recycled if I couldn’t take it 3/4 of a ton at a time to the scrap yard. And the money I get from recycling that junk, it goes straight into our adoption expenses account. If I didn’t have a big truck bed I couldn’t haul mounds of recycling away from our church. Apparently my fellow church folk want to recycle, but have no idea how to actually do it, so it all piles up creating fire hazards until I take it away. I can transport 5 teenagers and all of their junk before/after/during youth events and have opportunities to love these kids while telling them to stop screaming. I can help friends and family move and be hands and feet of Jesus as we jenga sofas and kitchen tables in what seemed like a big truck until they brought all their stuff out to the curb.

But again this can all be self-justifying works. I do this, this, and this, and that means Jesus loves me more. NOT! Is my motivation in self-justification, self-glory, self-waste-reduction? If so then it is all folly. Is my motivation stewardship, obedience, creation work? Then maybe I’m on the right path. This land was made (by God) for you and me (to enjoy, protect, rebuild, and work.) Dear Woody, I'm slightly sorry for the revision to your song.


  1. I love the title of your post! Where do you recycle CD's? I love the idea of having a garden, but we don't even pay to water our lawn. I can't see us watering a garden. Oh, and I hate dirt and bugs!!

  2. i had to laugh at the thought of the crazy earthy crunchy lady getting yelled at by angry hippies!! :) they'd have a field day with me. :P

    i wonder the same - how many of my "i can't because..." is self justification and how much is actual, logical fact?