Saturday, March 31, 2012

Luverly of the Week: ThePlantEncyclopedia.Org

The Plant Encyclopedia is a website with a treasure trove of information of over 300,000 plants, which are neatly categorized:

I have just began to explore the website, and I can see myself spending a lot of time on there. It is quickly becoming one of my favourite online resources! :D



Changes to Ontario's Prostitution Laws

On March 26th, 2012 a panel of five judges released their ruling for the Ontario Court of Appeals in regards to the prostitution laws. This is just the latest phase of the constitutional challenge that has been going on here for a few years.

In October of 2010, Justice Himel of the Ontario Superior Court decriminalized prostitution, because she found the laws unconstitutional. The sections of the Canadian Criminal Code that she struck down were Section 210 {bawdy house}, Section 212-j {living on the avails of prostitution}, and Section 213-1-c {communicating for the purposes of prostitution}. You can see the full ruling here.

This past Monday the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that Section 210 was indeed unconstitutional and that after 12 months the decriminalization of the bawdy house law will take effect. The Court agreed to changing Section 212-j to reflect that living on the avails of prostitution will be illegal only in situations of exploitation, and has given the policy-makers 30 days to rewrite this law. The one disagreement that the Court had with Justice Himel's ruling was in regards to Section 213-1-c; while two of the judges did think that the communication law was unconstitutional, three decided to uphold the law. So for the time being communication for the purpose of prostitution will remain illegal.

At this point the changes to the laws will only effect Ontario. It is likely that the Crown will appeal this ruling and take it to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This isn't something Aymi nor I have talked about much on this blog, but we are both for the full decriminalization of consenting adult sex work. The models that we agree with can be found in both New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia. This is different than legalization, and you can see a bit about the difference between legalization and decriminalization here.

So with that said, it is no doubt that I am happy about the changes to the bawdy house and procuring laws, but I am very disappointed about the continued criminalization of outdoor sex workers.

I do think that ideally sex workers should be conducting business indoors, however most outdoor sex workers have various barriers that often make that impossible. This ruling to me is throwing an extremely marginalized population under the bus. It has been proven that the communicating law not only puts outdoor sex workers in more danger, the law also doesn't work. It is being upheld for ideological reasons and nothing more.

Outdoor sex workers make up anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the entire sex worker population here in Canada, yet they are the ones who are criminally charged and targeted with violence most often. To top this off, many of the sex workers who are working outdoors are often referred to as "survival" sex workers, living from hand to mouth, facing homelessness and other effects of serious poverty.

It is so much easier to scapegoat a whole group of people, instead of targeting the issues that got that group of people to where they are today. It is certainly more challenging to combat poverty and institutionalized bigotry than it is to blame sex workers and the industry in which they work.

Bottom line, the way that we have been handling sex work here in Canada has not worked, and it is time to do something new.

This is a pretty personal topic for me as I am a former sex worker. Many of those dearest to me are current or former sex workers. For a few years I was an outreach worker for others in the industry and I was fully immersed in sex worker's rights activism even longer.

Given that it is such a complicated topic, sometimes it is easier to separate such things from other parts of one's life. A few years back Aymi and I created a YouTube channel pretty much dedicated to this topic, where we discuss our points of view and our experiences as sex workers. If interested, you can check out the Ye Olde Heretics channel here. Also, if you are interested in finding out more about the constitutional challenge or how you can get involved, head on over to the Sex Professionals of Canada website.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

North Bay Online Farmer's Market Grand Opening

There is a nifty new project in my town, the North Bay Online Farmer's Market. It is a joint venture with local food producers, Shelly Rahme of Northern Harvest, and Jeff Godfrey .

They will be having a grand opening tomorrow from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at their store front at 108 Oak Street East {North Bay Ontario} where there will be local food samplings. If you are in the area you should stop on by and be sure to check out their website!



Monday, March 26, 2012

Smarty Plants

Love plants half as much as I do? Check out episode of The Nature of Things, Smarty Plants. Below is a short video preview:

and you can watch the episode in whole here.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

With the Stirrings of Spring Comes Mirth & Work

Happy Spring to you in the North & Happy Autumn to you in the South! :D

We got hit by a real warm spell last week and the snow is all gone. It seemed like just over night all of feathered friends were back and our green friends in the garden were starting to wake up.

{sweet woodruff, unidentified fern, lemon balm and comfrey}

In mid-March I started the first of our seeds including two different types of poppies, balloon flowers, white and blue and double pink columbines, scotch thistle, datura, swamp rose mallow, pink and double hollyhocks, and sweet williams.

All of the them {save the columbines} started germinating ahead of schedule. I will be starting another batch at the end of March and another in the beginning of April. I haven't quite figured out where they are all going to go as all of the prime window sill real estate is almost gone.

{"light purple" datura}

The inevitable Spring cleaning has been going on around here too. We have started to tidy up the yard and get it ready for the new beds to be dug out. The house has not escaped The Great Cleansing either.

During the waning of the Moon I made another batch of a "clearing wash". I am pretty sure that I shared the recipe here before, but I can't seem to find it. So, I will post it again for those who might want to give it a whirl.

{Herbs steeping in water}

This recipe calls for a tablespoon of each:

Sweet Woodruff
Rowan berries
Birch bark {please only harvest from fallen trees or naturally shed bark!}
Juniper berries
Lemon Balm
Dandelion root
Witch Hazel
St. John's Wort

Boil 3 cups of water and pour over ingredients in a glass mason jar. Let it steep for 3 hours. Drain liquid through cheesecloth {I dispose of the plant material in the compost once I am done with it}. Put tea mixture in with cider or white vinegar into a clean glass jar that has a non-metal lid. Keep in a refrigerator {should last to 3 months with no issues}. To use mix with 3 parts water in a spray bottle or mop bucket.


Recently I have added some new contented over at the Unfettered Wood blog that may be of interest to some of you:

I am also currently working on some other posts for that blog including one on traditional charms to ward off nightmares and on lunar and astrological gardening.



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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Luverly of the Week: Alraun by Matthew Venus

While definitely meant for use, this alraun is truly a work of art!

This beauty can be found at the Etsy shop of Spiritus Arcanum. There you can also find many other magical wares as well.



Happy St. Patrick's Day {& Some Recommendations}

There are some thoughtful posts on both Tairis & Three Shouts on a Hilltop about St. Patrick's Day that are definitely worth a read.

The Irish and Celtic Music Podcast has a really good St. Patrick's Day special and a great documentary to watch today is Death or Canada:

DEATH or CANADA from Daniel Thomson on Vimeo.

Have a great one and enjoy! :)


Aymi & Laurel

Friday, March 16, 2012

{f is for...} FFS! Celtic Reiki?!?!

{a quick post for the Pagan Blog Project}

Ok, I know that I have been a tad ranty lately on here. My apologies. Maybe I should ignore things that irritate me. ANYHOW....

I got a spam in my email about some "Celtic Reiki" courses and I was wondering what the hell that was supposed to be. I know what Reiki is; I took my Level 1 for it back in the late 90's. But Celtic Reiki? I had no clue.

Apparently I have been living under a rock or something because it has been around for a few years, and there is even a flashy official Celtic Reiki website.

According to these folks,
"Celtic Reiki was created by Martyn Pentecost and employs symbols derived from the Celtic ogham (the ancient alphabet used by the Druids). The Reiki energy mimics the frequency of various trees and plants so as to work in accordance with channeled and Celtic wisdom.

This unique style of Reiki beautifully combines the healing energy of Reiki with the ancient wisdom of the Celts and can be used for both healing purposes and goal manifestation. It contains a variety of new techniques based on Celtic ritual and diverse frequencies of energy, which offer the ability to tackle a range of everyday issues such as health, prosperity and finance, work, love and relationships. "
Ah, I see.

Add one part cool and "exotic" tradition; slap in some "ancient Druidic wisdom" that can be found in a myriad of Llewellyn books and *presto* you have yourself a new "Celtic" tradition!

People mashing different religious and cultural practices together to make a buck. Sounds familiar.

I am curious what the next fad will be. Wear tartan while doing a downward dog and you have Scottish Yoga? Maybe I should get on that! ;)



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a few local events

Howdy folks!

For our readers that are in the North Bay & Sudbury areas, these events might be of interest to you.

Tonight there will be a free workshop on front yard design, hosted by the North Bay Heritage Gardeners. It is from 7pm to 8pm, at Discovery North Bay Museum {100 Ferguson Street}.

Some of the topics to be discussed are:

  • Historical and cultural influences of landscape design
  • Creating a site inventory
  • Factors that influence which plant and building materials to use
  • Determining the goal(s) you wish to accomplish (do you want to add more privacy?)
  • Design elements and principles

A Master Gardener will be on hand to answer any gardening or plant related questions that you may have.

All of our education nights are free but donations are always welcome. Participants may also wish to participate in the twoonie raffle in support of Heritage Gardeners.

You find out more at the Heritage Gardeners' website.


Tomorrow Greening Nipissing will be hosting a Green Screening featuring The Garden and a short film about Sudbury's Junction Creek renewal strategies. The event will be held at North Bay's Public Library {271 Worthington Street East} from 6:30pm-8:30pm.

You can find out more about the Junction Creek Stewardship Council at their website.

And about The Garden:

The fourteen-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles is the largest of its kind in the United States. Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers have since created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community.

But now, bulldozers are poised to level their 14-acre oasis.

The Garden follows the plight of the farmers, from the tilled soil of this urban farm to the polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand answers:

Why was the land sold to a wealthy developer for millions less than fair-market value? Why was the transaction done in a closed-door session of the LA City Council? Why has it never been made public?

And the powers-that-be have the same response: “The garden is wonderful, but there is nothing more we can do.”

If everyone told you nothing more could be done, would you give up?

Blurb from the film's website. You can also see a trailer there.


On Saturday March 31st FarmON, The National Farmers Union Ontario North Local 333 & Eat Local Sudbury are hosting a Regional Meeting for New Farmers. It is an all day event being held at Tom Davies Square {200 Brady Street} in Sudbury.

The event costs $25.00 and is aimed at farmers who have been practicing agriculture for 10 years or less, as well as prospective farmers.

A bit more about the event:

The meeting will feature a full-day workshop on Direct Marketing by Ann Slater - an experienced organic farmer, Provincial Coordinator of the National Farmers' Union Ontario Branch and member of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario.

There will be networking opportunities with other new farmers throughout the day (including over a lunch featuring locally-grown foods), and we will be presenting plans for an upcoming project to support new farmers in Northern Ontario.

The meeting will adjourn for a dinner break (dinner not included in registration fee) and plans will be made for a group dinner at a downtown restaurant for those who would like to participate.

After dinner they will be having a film screening of To Make a Farm:

To Make a Farm explores the lives of five young people who have decided to become small-scale farmers. They face daily challenges and set-backs, but their work and optimism inspires hope for the future. An intimate and practical exploration of farming and local food.
Here is a trailer:

You can see more trailers and find out more about the film at the To Make a Farm website and you can find out more about the Regional Meeting for New Farmers here.


On Tuesday April 3rd to Wednesday April 4th the Lake Nipissing Summit will be taking place. It will be held at Nipissing University in the New Surtees Gymnasium. Space is limited to 200 participants, so early registration is encouraged.

Here is an outline of the agenda:

Day 1: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

9:00 - 9:15


9:15 - 9:55

Plenary session with leaders

9:55 - 10:35

The History of Lake Nipissing
Speaker: Richard Rowe, Fri Ecological Services

10:35 - 10:45

AM Break

10:45 - 11:25

Climate Change
Speaker: Bharat Pokharel, Ph.D

11:45 - 12:05

Water Quality Blue/Green Algae
Speaker: Andrew Patterson

12:05 - 1:15

Lunch Break (lunch not provided)

1:15 - 2:35

Speaker: Doug Reynolds

Economic Development
Speaker: Neil Fox

2:35 - 2:50

PM Break

2:50 - 3:50

The Management of Lake Nipissing: Anglers Perspective
Presentation by the Ministry of Natural Resources

The Management of Lake Nipissing: First Nations Perspective
Presentation by Nipissing First Nations

3:50 - 4:00


Day 2: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

9:00 - 9:15

Opening and Recapturing from Day 1

9:15 - 10:30

Speakers covering topics such as Aboriginal Treaty Rights, Ecosystem changes, Operating a Fish Camp, Water Level Management and Stewardship of Lake Nipissing.

10:30 - 10:45

AM Break

10:45 - 12:00

World Café

12:00 - 1:15

Lunch Break (lunch not provided)

1:15 - 3:00

What we heard: Pulling out themes and issues from the World Café

3:00 - 3:30

Closing remarks from the Leaders

You can find out more at the Lake Nipissing Summit website.


On Saturday April 28th the 15th annual Powassan Maple Syrup Festival will be happening. The festival features demonstrations on how to cook with maple syrup Nancy Guppy of Chapman's Landing Cooking Studio{be sure to check out her wonderful blog!}, music, horse-drawn wagon rides, Scottish heavy games, and various food and craft vendors.

You can find out more information at the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival website.




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Media Mix

This is just a quick post to share some awesomeness that I came across recently in my webby travels.
  1. A great article from Mother Earth News on small space gardening.
  2. A neat and interactive virtual tour of Acy-Romance, a Gaulish Iron Age village. {thanks Seren for the heads up}
  3. A pretty good interview with Paul Huson, author of Mastering Herbalism and Mastering Witchcraft.
  4. And below is an interview with Andy Letcher of Telling the Bees. {I don't know what I love more, the 'stache or the beautiful music! ;) }




Friday, March 9, 2012

{e is for...} Everyday Rituals

{a wee contribution to the Pagan Blog Project}

After rising and making myself a little more presentable, before coffee or seeing what is going on in the world, the first thing I do in the morning is make an offering of thanks to all of Those I work with and Who protect our household. It is a quick and simple ritual consisting of lighting a candle, saying a prayer and a small offering.

This is the first of many rituals throughout my day. Being someone with a relatively short attention span, I also like to keep them short and sweet {there are not too many ceremonial rituals happening at my hands!}.

I am sure that many would bulk at the idea of doing multiple devotionals and blessings every day. To them it probably seems to be the jurisdiction of members of some religious order that are tucked away from the world. This is not the case for me though.

In my view there is no difference between the "mundane" and the "sacred". They are both inseparable. For those who see spirit dwell in all things and in all places, and who can feel purpose in every aspect of life, this will probably make sense. They might also see the sense in saying a blessing over a garden or giving a prayer and offering of thanks for a meal.

One could fairly say that for me ritual is routine; however it is certainly not devoid of meaning. I find life is a lot more enjoyable when there is intent behind my actions, as opposed to just going through the motions.

Tending to my home and land is no longer drudgery, but a series of spiritual acts. Besides, hearth-keeper sounds much more pleasant than housewife. ;)

On the subject of rituals, you should go give this wonderful post The Meaning of Ritual a read.



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Monday, March 5, 2012

The Ontario Table's $10 Challenge

Here is yet another local food challenge floating around, The Ontario Table's $10 Challenge. The gist of the challenge from what I can see is to get folks in Ontario to spend ten bucks a week on local produce.

According to the website:
"If every household in Ontario spent $10 a week on local food and wine, we’d have
$2.4 billion in our economy at the end of the year."
I am sure that it is obvious by now that I am one of the choir boys {well, ok, girl} at the altar, for many reasons. This sounds like a pretty good one to me too. Oh, and on the website there is also free e-mags every month with in season recipes and tips on how one can eat local year round.

The woman behind this challenge is Lynn Ogryzlo, who is the author of The Ontario Table. I don't have this cookbook yet, but it looks like a real beauty and a must have for an Ontario local foodie!



Luverly of the Week: Simpson House of Riverdale Farm by Matt Jiggins

A nice photo of Simpson House at Riverdale Farm, Toronto. One of my favourite places. :)



Buy Fresh, Buy Local. {An Evening With Sarah Elton}

Sarah Elton, author of Locavore is coming to Callander this May for a book signing and presentation on local food and sustainable agriculture.

Here are the details from the Facebook event page:
The Sustainable Community Committee present Sarah Elton, author of LOCAVORE, the national bestselling book about Canada’s local food revolution. Winning Gold at
the Culinary Book Awards, top 50 book of 2010 and also a David Suzuki
Book Club Pick, Locavore describes how Canadians are creating a new local food
order that is sustainable and able to feed us all.

Admission is free and many of the regions green groups will be present to answer your questions on what is available and happening locally. Snacks, coffee and tea will be available at no cost. Please “lug a mug” for your beverages.

6:00 - 7:00pm : Information displays by area producers/growers
7:00 - 8:30pm : Keynote address followed by question and answers
8:30 - 9:30pm : Displays resume plus book sale and signing
The event will be held on Thursday May 1oth from 6pm to 10 pm at the Callander Community Centre on Swale Street in Callander, Ontario.