A valuable lesson on the power of education

Recently I was invited to attend a leadership conference put on by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board of Education. Between the keynote speakers and the breakout sessions, I learned an awful lot…

The first keynote speaker we were introduced to was Zita Cobb from Fogo Island, which is the largest off shore island of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.  Zita Cobb grew up on Fogo Island in a culture that believes that nature and animals know everything, with seven seasons celebrated each year.  Cod fishing was the sustainable way of life for generations of island dwellers until the 1960s when large English and Polish ships helped deplete the supply of cod, closing the fisheries and forcing many of the islanders into poverty.  The fishing industry has since been revitalized on Fogo Island with the addition of new organizations and laws, modern technology and fisheries harvesting shrimp and crab as well as a new generation of cod.   During the economic downswing, Zita’s father urged her to leave the island to further her education and broaden her horizons.  She did so, and was very successful in the technology world, but the early lessons learned on Fogo Island remain ingrained in her personality and outlook on life.  She shared with us that she has learned that a formal education is not the only form of education.  Elders in a community have their own ways of knowing how to do the right thing for its people and the planet without a formal education.  Money should not be the only measure of success; the amount of joy in a community or culture should count too.  Her passion and wisdom have returned to Fogo Island to create the Fogo Island Inn, a modern masterpiece complete with 29 stunning guest suites, each boasting a spectacular view of the shoreline and sky, as well as a cinema, restaurant and library.  Her new foundation called Shorefast was established to keep the economic future of Fogo Island looking bright.

A second keynote speaker was Gabrielle Scrimshaw, a young aboriginal woman who left her small town in Northern Saskatchewan hoping for a better life for herself and increased understanding for her people.  Living off the land in a society filled with rampant sexual abuse in residential schools, by a mother suffering from substance abuse and a father travelling to support his career as an artist, Gabrielle struggled to survive, as most indigenous children do.  Motivated by a talk at her school by a friend of her teacher, she left that life behind her, the first person in her family to attend university.  She spent years travelling and learning from inspirational people she met along the way.  Today, as the indigenous population grows in Canada, she hopes to teach the rest of the country that many of these first nations descendants can help shift their economy with increased education and a sense of pride.  This successful motivational speaker had her audience in tears with her sad, yet inspirational stories, receiving a standing ovation for her accomplishments and achievements at such a young age.

Both of these women gave powerful speeches, a valuable lesson stressing that all forms of education are instrumental in motivating the best leaders of the present and future.  As Gabrielle noted, we must “create good footprints so we can walk in a good way.”  Please take the time to follow the links to read more about these two amazing and powerful women!

How to make your indoor orchids rebloom

If you have you purchased orchids with beautiful blooms, but the blooms are now gone, follow these easy steps to make them rebloom to their former glory.

Water:  The easiest way to kill your orchids, and most other houseplants, is to overwater them.  The best way to water orchids is to take the pot to a sink, pour approximately 1/2 cup of water into the pot and then let ALL of the water drain out.  Do this every 7 to 10 days, letting the soil dry out in between waterings.  Of course, this means your orchids should be in a pot that drains well.

Light:  Another important requirement of orchids is the amount of sunlight they receive.  Direct sunlight is too harsh and will burn them, but too little sunlight will prevent them from flowering well.  Orchids prefer sunlight (not directly) from a south-facing window in the winter months, and an east or northwest exposure in the summer months.

Temperature:   Preferred temperatures vary between types of orchids.  Read the labels on the ones you purchase to ensure optimal temperatures for your orchids. None of them like temperatures below 60 degrees F though and none like to be near cold air drafts.  If you do not know whether your orchid is a cool, warm or intermediate type, keeping it between 65 and 80 degrees F should work.

Food:  Keep in mind that the rest periods in between blooms allow for the plants to restore their energy levels.  After the blooms have faded and fallen off, wait until the stalk has completely turned brown before cutting it off at the point where it meets the plant.  Food is important though to keep your orchids blooming their best.  There are commercial products available for orchid food which contains a higher phosphate (the middle number) level than nitrogen (first number) and potash (third number) for optimal blooms.  Feed your orchids every second watering while in bloom, otherwise once a month.

Hopefully the tips above will help you keep your orchids looking great.  If you have put off buying them because you thought they were too difficult or fussy, give them a try.  They cannot be beat for their spectacular blooms!

pictures courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

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Recycle your electronic waste, light bulbs, batteries and old paint tins for earth day

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In honour of Earth Day today, I will be taking my electronic waste to an e-waste recycle location here in Kanata.  It is located at 1 Sweetnam Drive off of Hazeldean Rd, between Iber Rd and Stittsville, and accepts all of your old electronic stuff, appliances and scrap metal.  Working or not, these items are recycled instead of going into landfills.  Drop off is free and open 24 hours a day.  I have been meaning to do this for a long while; today I have no excuses…

I will also stop off at Lowe’s on Hazledean Rd in Kanata to drop off some old paint tins we have accumulated.  Apparently they have a recycling service that will take old paint, regular and rechargeable batteries, as well as fluorescent light bulbs.

You can participate in Earth Day too. Google a recycle location in your neighbourhood and get that pile of junk out of your garage or basement today.

Is your body in acidosis, causing chronic inflammation that can lead to disease?

A previous post of mine outlines the dangers of acidosis and its suspected link to chronic inflammation, the root cause of many diseases including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more…

courtesy of google pictures labelled for reuse
courtesy of google pictures labelled for reuse

This article, by Dr Leigh Erin Connealy, suggests the same link between acidosis in our body to chronic inflammation to disease.  The article provides simple instructions on how to keep your body in an alkaline state (between 7.2 and 7.4) for optimum health benefits.

Eating the proper foods and avoiding the worst ones is the easiest way to optimize your blood pH level.  Use the following chart to pick foods from the alkaline (right side)categories and avoid the ones from the acidic (left) side:

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courtesy of google pictures labelled for reuse

Start today by sticking to food items from the right (pun intended) side of the chart…

Home Depot coupon for miracle gro quick start fertilizer for new plants

If you are planning on adding new plants to your landscape this season, pick up some Miracle Gro Quick Start fertilizer at Home Depot first to ensure your new plants are well fed. Click on the link below and print off this coupon for $5 off…

home depot miracle gro april 2015

Check out this week’s Home Depot flyer for more great savings…

April showers bring May flowers; the advantages of spring rain

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The rain in the weather forecast for the next 10 days here in Ottawa brings the saying  “April showers bring May flowers” to mind.  The rain showers will water the spring bulbs and perennials, encouraging their bloom.  A few days of rain makes the lawns so much greener too.  All the rain showers and cool weather forecasted this spring is also good for planting grass seed or fertilizing your lawn and trees.

There are many products available for spring treatment, some with just seed, some with just fertilizer, and some that combine seed and fertilizer…

Some combinations for your lawn even add peat which is beneficial in keeping the soil rich by absorbing moisture (first picture)  These combination products can be a good thing for novice landscapers and home owners, as the research is done for you.  The proper type of fertilizer and the amount to use is calculated for you.

Corn gluten (second picture) is a popular, organic, pre-emergent treatment for crab grass.  Pre-emergent means it should be applied before the crab grass seeds germinate (start to grow) very early in the spring, as soon as the snow is gone from the lawn.  I use corn gluten on my lawn in the fall, after the first frost, but before the first snow fall.  I have found this practice convenient (one less thing to do in the spring) and most effective against crabgrass.

Fertilizer spikes (third picture) are efficient ways to feed your trees.  Make sure you choose the proper product package for your trees though.  There are packages for evergreens (pine, spruce, cedar etc), ornamental trees (crab apple, lilacs etc) fruit trees (apple, plum etc) and other popular trees (maple, elm etc)    Simply pound the spikes in the ground around the perimeter of your tree’s dripline as specified in the package directions.  Obviously, the larger the perimeter of your tree’s dripline (the outer edge of branches), the more spikes you need.  It is best and easiest to pound these spikes into the ground when the ground is wet and more rain showers are in the forecast.

Make the most of the forecasted rain; your lawn and trees will thank you!