treasure your friends

Aside

My friend turned me down for going for a walk yesterday but promised to get together maybe today or whenever her busy life allows. Although I missed spending time with her and catching up on what’s been happening since our last get-together I will patiently wait for the opportunity to share my time with her.

Friends are like pebbles in the sand, jewels in a crown, oxygen for some. Imagine where you would be without your friends (I am assuming that you have at least one) and you might find yourself in the desert, a bit alone, stuck in the sand. Again I am assuming that all your relations, close and otherwise are excluded and not considered friends although some have told me that their sister or brother or even their cousin is like their best friend.

If you grew up with siblings one of the first bonds you have formed apart from your parents or other nurturing adults may have been with your brother or sister. If you developed a positive relationship when young you forget about the times when you sat in the sandbox crying and hanging onto each end of a toy truck claiming it to be yours, instead you recall times such as celebrating birthdays when your smiling face (sometimes with a few cake crumbs on your chin) is right next to that of your smiling sibling.

If you were brought up to engage in socializing you may have spent good times with siblings, cousins, neighbours and self-selected friends. You may have met your first friend when you were a wee babe as your mom pushed you in the pram, idly chatting to her friend who paraded her own bundle of joy right next to you. Perhaps you even exchanged some baby talk across the carriages that to the untrained ear sounded just like gurgling and one-syllables when in fact it was a coded conversation that could only be heard by other like-minded wee ones. I believe that we all conversed on some level from a very young age and that it has only been recognized as true communication once words that made sense came along. Then again, you (and I) may have talked utter nonsense, real baby goobledygook and yet we managed to make ourselves understood since apart from language luckily we had our extremities that helped along to form words that may have been too tricky to pronounce and may not have been part of our vocabulary.

I love watching people, especially good friends engaged in conversation: if the talk centres around something light-hearted, the whole body seems to be moving along with the words, laughter is interspersed with bold language and the dynamics of the friendship is palpable but the whole picture changes to something like a still-life when the topic covers sadness. The palpability still exists only as a darker shade of colour or heavier cloud of doom. Yet your friends stay with you from light to dark, jolly to serious matters and you know that they can always be relied upon.

Through my work I have met a senior, a woman in her seventies who immigrated from England many years ago.

“I call my friend in England once a week. We talk about everything and have done so for the past sixty years,” Anne told me and I am amazed by the loyalty and happiness expressed in these few words. It takes dedication, bonding and compatibility to stay connected for such a length of time.

Some folks are lucky to have grown up with good friends or at least one and roamed through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood knowing that there is somebody who cares and somebody who can be counted on no matter what the situation.

According to the Oxford dictionary a friend is “a person with whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard (usually exclusive of sexual or family bonds)”and to me that applies to a regular friend who is a bit more than an acquaintance, a trusted person whom I like to spend time with. A really good  friend is a buddy, a kindred spirit, a confidant, somebody who would walk barefoot over broken glass to help you out when you’re in a pickle.

At work meetings we recently discussed the importance of having a BFF (best friend forever) at work and opinions varied on the effectiveness and necessity of such a bond but outside of work, to have a  (bosum) buddy is a blessing. We humans are not meant to be hermits and social interaction is widely encouraged and through this social activity blossom friendships. Some have interconnected friendships meaning that like daisy chains they are part of a circle of like-minded people who stay connected throughout their lives no matter where they live and everybody from that circle makes the effort to stay in touch and communicate regularly. Some folks claim not to need a friend and prefer to be self-reliant and somewhat reclusive but the majority of people has started to form friendships at an early age.

Think about all the friends in your life right now – how did you meet and how are you communicating and bonding? Before the internet, most long-distance friendships happened via the telephone and before that via personal visits but since the dawn of e-mailing, internet friend-sharing sites and hand-held electronic devices that lets everybody and their dog become instant friends how much of the connection with your friends happens in person?

When I look around my neighbourhood there seems to be a lot of clusters of friends walking along the streets, sitting in the coffee shops or being engaged in indoor and outdoor activities. Good friends brighten your days and make you feel good in general. An extremely good friend is a person whose doorbell you can ring at 3 am and he or she lets you inside no questions asked, no judging frown on his/her face. With this kind of friend, giving and taking is equal, there is no place for a hidden agenda and sharing comes straight from each other’s hearts.

“I’m going over to Amanda’s” or “Brittany is coming over soon” are phrases that I hear in my home a lot and I feel good for my daughters’ having good friends (male and female) whom they can rely upon and to whom they can be good and loyal friends.

You might treasure your friends because of the circumstances when you met; perhaps you know somebody who helped to save a friend’s life whether in the trenches during the war or by talking and preventing a friend from inflicting self-harm. My late grandma told me about the special friendships that she nursed with many other widows who lost their husbands (who were killed in action during the war).

If you are someone who is supporting a friend through an illness or recovery you may be experiencing a lot of stress but it might help to recall and concentrate on all the good times that were had with this friend and more good times that hopefully still lie ahead. Treasure the moments you are actively together and find happiness by being connected.

My friend and I managed to catch up today by taking my dog for a walk and we had a chance to talk about a wide spectrum of topics from trivial  to meaningful which left us both refreshed, rejuvenated and joyful and also grateful to have each other as friends.

Food Waste need not go to Landfill

Aside

In 2015, food and food waste will be banned from the garbage throughout the Metro
Vancouver region. At a Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Community Breakfast held at the Eagles Hall in North Vancouver this morning a panel of experts presented this topic and what it means for restaurants and other businesses, even for individual food consumers. The audience which was comprised of about 60 people with interests or connections to the food and waste recycling industry learned  how food businesses are
 managing food waste, and how good things can happen when it’s diverted from the
 garbage.

Todd J., Director, Catering & Conference Services; Chair, Green Committee, Four Seasons Hotel spoke about the Food Waste Management program that his business has implemented and is piloting. He addressed how all of his employees have been trained in preparation of becoming compliant with this impending ban. He explained that food waste is always on the agenda when planning catering events and described how cranberry juice and apple juice is suggested to clients asking for a Continental Breakfast instead of the traditional orange juice. The reason for that is the fact that cranberry and apple juice is available locally, does not have to travel too far to reach their kitchen and does not leave as much waste behind as oranges do. Todd talked about the unused portions of food produced by the Four Seasons Hotel and how it can be re-claimed by groups such as the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, especially their Angel Food Runners program.

Erin N., Manager, Community Angel Food Runners, Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society explained in more detail how food that is received by the Food Bank is re-distributed to those in need and mentioned that presently there is no liability when you donate food (as stated in Bill 10 of  the Food Donations Act). She talked about how food recovery lowers greenhouse gas emissions and reminded the audience that food, labour and land does not need to go to waste. Her organization works with government and donors to shift the agenda to empower people to nourish themselves by providing education and support. She advised the audience that revised donor guidelines will be in place for the 2015 disposal ban.

Stuart L., Manager, Feedstock Supply, Enterra Feed Corporation presented a brief video on how the use of larva from the black soldier fly helps to create renewable foods for animals and plants. The corporation which was founded by David Suzuki is using these larvae as nature’s nutrient renewal experts. Within three hours, food waste inside a bio-conversion unit is being consumed by larvae and ready to be transformed into omega-rich feed meal (to feed to animals designated for human consumption) and feed oils that are being used in the cosmetics industry. Their 6000 square foot demo plant is on the forefront of solving two global problems:  food waste diversion and nutrient demand.

Steve H., Founder and President, Earth Renu has a goal of achieving zero waste and related his experience of researching methods of waste disposal in European countries such as Norway and Germany. He talked about the three methods for processing food waste (composting, production of animal feed and anaerobic digestion (biogas as a renewable natural gas). Steve explained how the methane that’s produced by food waste is worse for the environment than CO2 emissions and told the audience how to treat contaminants that arise within the organic waste. He pointed out to always mix twigs and grass into your compost (to allow for nitrogen to form). He invited audience members to visit his plant on Annacis Island to see this source of urban sustainable energy production first hand.

Jaclyn M., Sustainability Consultant, RecycleSmart Solutions talked about saving money by decreasing waste and about the importance of smart recycling. She reminded folks to first check if the food can be donated and if not to recycle responsibly by using clean bins and changing the recycling management process. She advised businesses to identify a champion within their organization who will help to carry the message forward as well as being prepared for the upcoming changes. She urged audience members to make sure that they are able to divert and will put plans in place (allow within their budget) to be ready for the food and food waste ban from the garbage within the Greater Vancouver Region as of 2015. Councilor B. thanked the panel and opened the floor to questions most of them were about the logistics of implementing these new refuse regulations and compliance with managing food waste and reducing (landfill destined) garbage.  Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Community Breakfast is going to present “A morning of Storytelling not Garbage” on Thursday, December 12 from 7:30 am to 9 am at the BCIT, downtown campus.

You can always do your part in food waste reduction by purchasing only what you need, using already recycled material whenever possible and eliminating food waste in your home with a common sense approach. Perhaps scale down your consumer drive and start to be happy with less. The environment and the planet as a whole will benefit and that means you, too. We owe it to future generations to be prudent with our resources and smart with handling our food waste.

Please note that facts in the article above are stated how I believe them to be true and I hope to have recalled everything correctly.

If you always have plenty of food to eat, please think about helping those in need. Thank you.