Rita Walker (Blog Ten):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Ten):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

In the August 9, 2019 Waterloo Region Record there was an article called:  Rebuilding a road for tomorrow by Catherine Thompson.  By using perforated storm sewer pipes and Silva cells on Ahrens Street West the city of Kitchener was hoping to stop run off of salt and other debris from entering nearby creeks.  Currently Highway 24 or Water Street South by Churchill Park does not have a road designed to protect wildlife.  But perhaps in the near future these roads will be everywhere.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/04/wildlife-overpasses-underpasses-make-animals-people-safer/

https://www.deeproot.com/products/silva-cell.html

http://www.bigorrin.org/haida_kids.htm

https://haidacultureproject.weebly.com/clothing.html

 

In the morning Rita showers off the sweat from her struggle not to change from the night before.  As the water pours over her she glances at her hands and up her left arm where the tattoos line up as a totem pole would.  Stepping out of the shower stall she stares at the mirror.  Through the mist created by the shower’s hot water she can see the shadowed images of the other tattoos on her body; each a symbol of survival or rite of passage.  Her eyes drift back to the feather symbol on her left arm.  Birds are part of the Air Elemental and today she must travel to Cambridge to meet with the Ancient One who represents the human aspect of Air.

Driving along Highway 24 in Cambridge she notices sections of the road are humped as she drives next to the Grand River and past Churchill Park.  This is a main area for turtles to cross.  The humps or mini-bridges are long so the drive is safe for cars and transport trucks.  Many years ago an innovative idea was put to the test in the city of Kitchener.  Perforated storm sewer pipes were installed under roads to lessen run off during heavy rain and to create more dispersion.  The dispersed water is captured and treated by what was then pioneering technology called Silva cells. Lightly compacted soil within the cells allowed trees to grow.  The roots of the trees help absorb and dissipate salt and other run off by-product before it reaches water sources such as creeks and rivers.  Now most road repairs are built with the environment in mind.

She glances at the feather tattoo on her left arm in the side view mirror of her leased Volkswagen e-Golf.  It reminds her of the time she saw Rae in a dream.  In the dream a female dressed in a red cedar bark dress stood on a tiny Island.  Rita watched as the woman raised her left arm.  She noticed a band around the woman’s forearm made of yellow cedar as a raven flew onto the woman’s outstretched arm.  Rita could only see the side profile of the woman and little of her face.  But the raven turned and stared directly at her.  That’s when the dream ended and she knew that she had caught a glimpse of Rae and the spirit Raven.

In the morning she had asked her mother about raven but left out Rae.

“You have strange dreams child,” her mother told her as she wove together new deerskin moccasins for Rita’s father.   “Raven may be many things, but is a protector for us above all else.  Ravens will steal food from you, have no doubt, and you should shoo them away if they try, but never hurt them. They are our protection against supernatural beings.”

As Rita drives down Shades Street towards Soper Park she wonders if the raven she saw as a child was protecting Rae from Kaneki.  But mostly she wonders why so long ago Rae allowed a glimpse of herself but so far would not communicate with Rita directly.’

An Interview with Bill Ashwell, Co-author of a Great New Play called “Dark Sanctuary”

For anyone who missed my interview with Bill Ashwell, co-author of the play: Dark Sanctuary.

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s a cloak and dagger play did it take a long time to make it flow properly?

  • In a sense, yes. We had to frequently tweak the characters and the back stories to give more of a sense of their motivations. There had to be a viable reason for Father O’Rourke to support Nicky the way he did. And Detective Widmark needed his own backstory to be what he was.

A lot of social issues are brought up during the play.  Was that intentional or did they implement themselves into the play as it evolved?

  • A bit of both, I think. The issues of Nicky’s homelife and Father O’Rourke’s internal struggles are real and in a sense timeless, so to speak. We just worked them into the story to expand beyond the simple noir-ish stereotypes

Why did you choose to have the play take place in 1952?

  • Simply, it fits with the film noir approach. But really, the time frame isn’t that much of a factor. Just sets the scene.

Some of the actors spoke with an Irish accent.  Was that intentional?

  • Again, it was all in keeping with the story. We wanted the archetypal characters; the kindly priest, the busybody house keeper, the hard-boiled police detective, without dwelling on the stereotypes, simplifying the characters to the point of parody. So the accents fit with the characters and, I suppose, vice versa.

I was very impressed with the choice of actors.  Were they asked or did you have auditions?

  • Mainly auditions. Steve put the call out and we auditioned quite a few local and area actors. I was quite impressed with the depth of talent in this area.

You’ve also written non plays.  Can you tell us about your other writing and if it is available or will be soon?

  • I began writing poetry waaaayy back in the ‘80s, but had no idea what to do with it of how to hone my craft. I stumbled across the Cambridge Writers Collective in 1995, a wonderful group of writers who taught me more about writing than I could have ever imagined. I have been fortunate enough to have had some of my work published and self-published.
  • Poetry taught me to bend the physical rules of writing, that expression of the idea is, in some way, more important than composition. I struggle with rhyming poetry (and don’t get me started on limericks), so free verse poetry became the vehicle by which I could effectively express myself.

 

Bill Ashwell has been a member of the Cambridge Writers collective (CWC) since 1995.  His poetry and prose have been published in several editions of CWC’s Writers Undercover Anthologies and The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook.  In 2001 he published Moments of Clarity, a chapbook collection of his poetry.  In 2007 his work was published in the Ascent Aspiration Magazine’s: Aguaterra Anthology of poetry and fiction.  Also in 2007 he was awarded the City of Cambridge’s prestigious Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication and Literary Arts.  Bill has also participated in numerous public poetry readings, notably, at the Cambridge Arts Festival, the 2004 Remembrance Day Service at the Galt Cenotaph, and at various local celebrations of the spoken word.

You can reach Bill at:  bashwell@gmail.com or text him at:  226-218-1242

 

Science Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, and More!

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

Bill Ashwell Co-author of the Play Noir “Dark Sanctuary”

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s…

View original post 541 more words

Rita Walker (Blog Nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Airmid is a Tuath Dé Danann and the goddess of herbs.  Only she knows the three hundred and sixty-five herbs that now grow all over Earth.

By decreasing industrial waste and leakage of toxic, heavy metals water ways can become cleaner and plants safer to consume.

http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Airmid/airmid.html

https://www.hollowreedholistic.ca/blogs/test-2018/tending-the-garden-healing-the-body-a-new-old-pers/

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2008004/article/10717/6500108-eng.htm

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mining-materials/mining/minerals-and-metals-policy/minerals-and-metals-policy-government-canada/8690

https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2019/69596a-eng.php

She forces herself to take deep breaths as her hands clench onto her bed sheets.  The full moon calls but it’s not a good time to change.  Not just before school starts.

She remembers that after dreaming of Ailbe Rose a month passed before she dreamed of Airmid.  Her mother was hanging the kelp they had gathered earlier on long sticks while Rita gathered wild blueberries nearby.  As Rita bent over to pick a blueberry her hand brushed against a salal berry and she fainted.

She opened her soul eyes and saw a woman with long brown hair that accentuated a world loving smile.  The woman was kneeling amongst herbs that grew beside a house.  Rita gazed closer but she could not recognize any of the herbs nor the style of house.

Brenda Gabet as Airmid 5 (2)

(Thanks to Brenda Gabet, an Amazing Mother, and Fitness Instructor)

“You have met a Tuath Dé Danann already,” the woman stated in a strong voice vibrant with life.

“Airmid?” Rita asked.

The woman looked up at her with caring yet mischievous eyes.  “Yes.  You were supposed to meet Rae first but she hides from Kaneki, who seeks to be with her again, as they were when together they formed the Earth’s core.”

Brenda Gabet as Airmid 1 (2)

(Brenda Gabet as Airmid)

“Is Kaneki the tainted one?”

“He has trained the one that comes from him.  Kaneki was never meant to live above the core of the Earth but now he does, and tries to make his permanent home upon the surface where it does not belong.”  Airmid caresses the leaves of one of the unknown herbs.  “What do you know of herbs?”

“Very little,” Rita had admitted.

“What do you see when you look at my garden?”

“Plants, weeds,” Rita replies.

Airmid caresses one of the herbs with a long green leaf that’s furry on the surface.  “Sage can be used for memory improvement, digestive problems, and more.”  She touches a nearby plant with yellow petals and long, jagged leaves.  “Different parts of the dandelion can be used to make coffee, help with digestion, and pain relief.  Someday Rae will tell you of the herbs of Haida Gwaii and what they are used for.  Herbs are akin to elements.  Some, like fire, you eat to make you hot when you are too cold.  Some you drink, like water, as tinctures to cool the heat inside.  Some, you alight to flow through the air, like wind, to help you breathe.  Some, you coat your skin with, like earth, to moisturize and draw out infection.  But many of the herbs are contaminated now, by metal, like mined cadmium, mercury, arsenic and more.  Necessary in minute amounts for life but in greater quantities deadly they belong mostly deep in the ground.”

“What can I do?” Rita asks as she feels her body pulling her soul back.

“Gather the other elements.  Both learn and teach each other to find balance.”

Rita sees Airmid’s image fade as the blue sky over Haida Gwaii becomes more vibrant from where she lies amongst the blueberries and salal.

An Interview with Bill Ashwell, Co-author of a Great New Play called “Dark Sanctuary”

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

Bill Ashwell
Co-author of the Play Noir “Dark Sanctuary”

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s a cloak and dagger play did it take a long time to make it flow properly?

  • In a sense, yes. We had to frequently tweak the characters and the back stories to give more of a sense of their motivations. There had to be a viable reason for Father O’Rourke to support Nicky the way he did. And Detective Widmark needed his own backstory to be what he was.

A lot of social issues are brought up during the play.  Was that intentional or did they implement themselves into the play as it evolved?

  • A bit of both, I think. The issues of Nicky’s homelife and Father O’Rourke’s internal struggles are real and in a sense timeless, so to speak. We just worked them into the story to expand beyond the simple noir-ish stereotypes

Why did you choose to have the play take place in 1952?

  • Simply, it fits with the film noir approach. But really, the time frame isn’t that much of a factor. Just sets the scene.

Some of the actors spoke with an Irish accent.  Was that intentional?

  • Again, it was all in keeping with the story. We wanted the archetypal characters; the kindly priest, the busybody house keeper, the hard-boiled police detective, without dwelling on the stereotypes, simplifying the characters to the point of parody. So the accents fit with the characters and, I suppose, vice versa.

I was very impressed with the choice of actors.  Were they asked or did you have auditions?

  • Mainly auditions. Steve put the call out and we auditioned quite a few local and area actors. I was quite impressed with the depth of talent in this area.

You’ve also written non plays.  Can you tell us about your other writing and if it is available or will be soon?

  • I began writing poetry waaaayy back in the ‘80s, but had no idea what to do with it of how to hone my craft. I stumbled across the Cambridge Writers Collective in 1995, a wonderful group of writers who taught me more about writing than I could have ever imagined. I have been fortunate enough to have had some of my work published and self-published.
  • Poetry taught me to bend the physical rules of writing, that expression of the idea is, in some way, more important than composition. I struggle with rhyming poetry (and don’t get me started on limericks), so free verse poetry became the vehicle by which I could effectively express myself.

 

Bill Ashwell has been a member of the Cambridge Writers collective (CWC) since 1995.  His poetry and prose have been published in several editions of CWC’s Writers Undercover Anthologies and The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook.  In 2001 he published Moments of Clarity, a chapbook collection of his poetry.  In 2007 his work was published in the Ascent Aspiration Magazine’s: Aguaterra Anthology of poetry and fiction.  Also in 2007 he was awarded the City of Cambridge’s prestigious Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication and Literary Arts.  Bill has also participated in numerous public poetry readings, notably, at the Cambridge Arts Festival, the 2004 Remembrance Day Service at the Galt Cenotaph, and at various local celebrations of the spoken word.

You can reach Bill at:  bashwell@gmail.com or text him at:  226-218-1242

 

Rita Walker (Blog Eight):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Eight):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker is a science fiction blog about the interaction of technology and the environment, and an introduction to North American Indigenous ways.   Each distinct environment: grassland, snow, mountainous, desert, boreal forest, swamp, rain forest, and so on will decide the best methods of housing, food supply, and culture.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Native-American/The-Arctic

Astral traveling is common around the World.  Is it the soul traveling or the subconscious creating images?  That is for you to decide.

https://www.healyourlife.com/astral-projection-101-a-powerful-secret-from-native-cultures

 

Memories flood through her as she continues to twist and turn fighting off the impulse to become what the Earth wants her to this night.  She remembers that after the dream of the Tuath Dé Danann she was sleeping in her parent’s tent when her soul traveled across North America, over Greenland and Iceland, across the Atlantic Ocean into Northern Ireland.  Places she has never been.  Her speed slowed to a walking pace as she reached a tall hedge of Ilex Crenata.  Its early afternoon and people are walking amongst nearby flower beds but none seem to notice her, nor a tall woman in an olive green dress wearing a wreath of white flowers.  Rita’s soul halted as the woman turned and stared directly at her.    This woman had green eyes that emitted a depth she could barely comprehend.

Leah Weir as Ailbe Rose Kimberely Lee Photography 2 use

Thanks to Leah Weir and Kimberley Lee Photography https://www.kimberleyleephotography.co.uk/

In the dream she became material and her bare feet pressed into the grass.  She had glanced around and noticed there were no longer any other people around.  “Ailbe Rose,” she said in awe and respect to the women with the green eyes, “Mother Terra.”

“You are ready to learn the Change child,” Ailbe told her in a rich Irish accent.  “And though you are mostly from me you will also be the Gatherer of others from the other Ancients.  Though your soul can fly, you cannot.  Although you can swim, you cannot breathe underwater.  Although you can make fire with materials, it cannot come from you directly.  There is one left, and she is tainted.  Although you can hammer and heat metals and can combine some, you cannot do it with your thoughts alone.  She can, and you must turn her against the Ancient One who has encouraged the destructive nature of industry for too long.   Bring all these elementals together and teach them to work together.  That is your task.”

Rita watched as Ailbe Rose grabbed up soil from where it was available under the hedge.

Leah Weir as Ailbe Rose picture by Kimberley Lee Photography

 

Thanks to Leah Weir and Kimberley Lee Photography https://www.kimberleyleephotography.co.uk/

“You are an Earth Elemental, as well as Haida, Irish, and German.  Soon you will meet Airmid and learn that all life is interconnected.  Stretch out your hand.”  Rita does and Ailbe places the soil in her palm.  “Change is easiest during a full moon but you can change at other times.  The closer to a full moon the longer the change can last.  Without soil you can only change partially, remember this.  Close your eyes.”

Rita had taken in a deep breath and exhaled as she closed her eyes.

“Picture a land animal, a mouse, a cat, a beaver.   You cannot become a seal, but you can turn into a snake, though not a sea snake, nor an eel.  You can only become a large dog, a wolf, a deer, a moose, a bear or any other large to giant land creature during a full moon.”

“A cat,” Rita had whispered.  She pictured a tabby cat with her mind.  As she focused the soil in her hand had grown heavier and increased in amount.  It hurt and her eyes had bulged.

“Breathe child,” Ailbe told her with a voice gentle and full of encouragement.

It hurts so much as her body changed that she gave out a cry.  But the sound was that of a cat.  She had looked up and up until she saw the smiling face of Ailbe.

“The pain will grow less as your body grows use to it.  But as your extra weight turns to soil so must it also return with as much soil.  You cannot change back where no soil is available.  Close your eyes and go home now.”

Rita remembers lying down and resting her feline chin on her left forearm.  The next moment she awoke inside her parents’ tent.

Rita Walker (Blog Seven):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Seven):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Black argillite is only found on Haida Gwaii.  The Haida artist would often carve out the design for a totem pole on the argillite rock first.

https://www.crystalcabingallery.com/blog/2018/01/27/argillite-stone-of-haida-gwaii

Native American bands have a name for the full moon of each month.  The Sturgeon full moon occurs in August.

https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/native-american-full-moon-names/

Kaitlyn as tuath dé danann for Rita Walker argillite stone (2)

She clenches her eyelids closed knowing the Sturgeon moon is trying to pierce its silver light through her curtains.  Her hands clench onto her bed sheets as her body twists with desire to rip the curtains away.  It is good she lives alone now.  When she opens her eyes everything in the room is lighter and more distinguishable.  She forces her eyelids closed again and focuses on calming her breathing and her need to change.  Her thoughts wander back to her younger years.

Her parents took her and her brother to camp beside Tlell River.  While her father and brother fished for salmon her mother weaved a new hat for her farther out of cedar bark and spruce roots while watching for bears.  Bored, Rita decided to explore on her own.  Entering the cedar forest that borders much of the river she became lost.  She tried calling out in every direction but there was no reply.  Terrified she sat on a moss covered log and grabbed up a handful of soil.  She lay down on the log and exhausted slept.

In a dream she stood up from the log and opened her hand.  On her palm was a small pile of soil.  The soil levitated off her hand as tiny kernels and drifted in the moonlight towards a cavern made from the roots of an ancient redwood that stood tall and strong.  Mystified by the floating soil, Rita followed it into the maw of the cavern where it pulsed with light.  Inside she heard breathing and turned abruptly to her right.  She saw a young woman wearing the same type of cloak as the Vilas.  The woman’s dark hair and stern eyes told Rita that this was a Tuath Dé Danann.  The young woman held out a necklace made of argillite stones.  Rita’s hands shook as she gently took the necklace and clasped it around her neck.  To her horror the necklace buried itself into her skin and attached itself to her collarbone.   In a hypnotic voice with an Irish accent the young woman in the cloak told her, “When the Salmon Moon arrives you will dream of the ancient one Ailbe Rose and she will bless you so you may change for real.  Soon after that you must call upon Rae, for she is originally from here and will guide you well through these lands.   For now see little one, see with feline eyes but let neither wolf nor bear catch sight of you.”

That’s the first time Rita’s vision changed so everything became brighter in the night.  She found her family’s tent but did not go near until her sight returned to normal.

Rita Walker (Blog Six):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Six):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

An interesting twist.  The Haida believe that animals are more intelligent than humans and can transform into human form.  If you are from the Haida it would be good to hear from you.   Why have we included Indio’s (Gordon Peterson) song Hard Sun?  We’ll leave that up to you to figure out.

Andraya as Vilas for Rita Walker (2)

https://prezi.com/vy0c2vx1kudj/the-haida-tribe-spiritual-beliefs/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1tVvQUAcf4

Lying in her bed Rita stares at the black cloth of the curtain that blocks the view of the night sky.  Soon she will pull the curtain back but not yet.  She turns off the lamp beside her bed and stares up into the darkness of the room.  She thinks of the Indio song Hard Sun, and the verse:  When I look to leave her I always stagger back again.  The song reminds her of the first time her world changed.

She was born in Haida Gwaii to parents with ancestry in both Haida and the Vikings, and something else that her parents never discussed with her.   She was a little girl when she learned of her difference.  What she thought was unique she later discovered to be very rare.  Lying in a four person tent with her parents and older brother in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, with the rain pitter-pattering against the tent’s canvas, she dreamt.

She crawled along one of the nearby trails on her hands and knees with her blanket over her back.  In the dream she needed to move like this during the night in order to sleep.  Occasionally she would nap on her blanket then continue crawling.

The dawn light awoke her but she was not sleeping in the tent.  She grabbed her blanket and stood up.  Looking back at the trail she had crawled along she saw the imprint of a cat’s paws as far back as she could see.  She ran back to her parent’s tent.  Peering into the tent she saw they were all asleep.  She did not want to disturb their slumber so rolled into her blanket near the fire pit her father had made.  The second dream that night was the one that changed her forever.

She stood in a field of deciduous and coniferous trees.  Near her a young woman in a blue cloak stood.  Rita just knew she was one of two sisters.  This sister was a Vilas who answers to the Ailbe Rose, an ancient being who resides in Ireland.  Rita had stared wide eyed as the Vilas picked up soil from the ground with one hand and took one of Rita’s with the other.  The Vilas turned her hand with the soil over and let it pour into Rita’s.  When Rita’s hand was full so that the extra soil flowed off her hand back to the ground the Vilas closed Rita’s hand over the soil remaining.  When Rita opened her hand with the soil there was nothing there and the dream ended.

Rita Walker (Blog Five):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Five):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker with Zsofia blog 5

Food waste is both a moral and survival concern.  We need to remember where the food we consume comes from.

http://news.mit.edu/2014/engineers-design-living-materials

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/compost-pilot-downtown-kitchener-ontario-1.5225440

https://www.biogasworld.com/companies/bio-en-power-inc/

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3kn8ew/the-ethics-of-hunting-seals

 

“You’re so good at anatomy,” Zsofia says as she looks at her posture in a mirror.  “I should have taken massage therapy like you did instead of that two weekend personal training course.”

“You were too busy with your Naturopathy course,” Rita replies.  “Draw in your lower abs by your pelvis to stabilize and stretch up.  You have fantastic posture as always.”

“Do you think Mother Earth will ever have perfect posture?”

Rita has to contemplate Zsofia’s question.  She realizes perfect posture represents the melding of nature with technology.  “Mother Earth is always changing, evolving.  Now technology is evolving closer to nature.  Engineers have started experimenting making computer parts with living material.”

“I agree with you, Nature will always find a way to return,” Zsofia says.  “What I’m interested in currently is the reuse of food we all waste at restaurants.”

“That’s true we waste so much of life on our dinner plates,” Rita says as they walk towards the change room.

“There’s some hope there,” Zsofia says with a smile.  “Years ago the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area initiated a pilot program that sends waste food from restaurants to Bio En Power in Elmira.  Bio En Power turns the food waste into biogas that’s used for fertilizer.”

“We still need to decrease the waste.”  Rita opens her designated locker and passes Zsofia her duffel bag.   “Especially meat.  People need to respect that what they are eating used to be alive.”

“Dogs, cats, birds of prey, bears, and numerous other animals and mammals eat meat Rita.”

“I’m not suggesting people stop eating meat just respect it.  Perhaps the custom no longer exists but the Inuit used to pour water from their mouths into the mouth of a seal they killed—in thankfulness for the seal giving up its life.  Every part of the seal was used for either food or clothing.”

“It will be hard not to waste that much food,” Zsofia says as they walk to the parking lot.  “We inspect the food we eat, we choose what we want to eat, and if we’re no longer hungry at a restaurant we either take a doggy bag or it ends up as waste.”

“Someday we’ll just have to accept what’s available instead of demanding that everything be available at all times.”  Rita gives Zsofia a hug.  “I’m looking forward to you doing a guest lecture.”

“Soon,” Zsofia promises.

Rita contemplates their conversation as she watches Zsofia drive away.

Rita Walker (Blog Four):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Four):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

DSC_4006

There are different perspectives on testing medicines.  Does a person care singularly about themselves, see humans as more important and that the rest of life exists to assist them in surviving, or that all life is sacred and should only be killed for food and protection?   Technology is getting closer to ridding the need for animal testing and there are options for non-animal tested products.

https://www.euronews.com/living/2019/03/03/cosmetics-what-are-the-alternatives-to-animal-testing

https://www.peta.org/living/personal-care-fashion/these-companies-dont-test-on-animals/

https://www.quora.com/Do-biomedical-engineers-or-biomedical-scientists-involve-work-with-animals

As Rita does stability ball crunches while Zsofia checks her form she contemplates corporate greed.  Her purpose isn’t to point at a defined enemy such as a singular corporation or person.  If she has to define an enemy it will be a naïve and destructive ideology that sees attrition not collaboration as the ideal way of life.

“Tell me more about the Biomedical course you’re teaching,” she says once her oblique are too fatigued to do anymore side crunches on the ball.

Zsofia stands up and stretches.  “It’s interesting.  With modern technology we can evaluate what extracts from herbs can be used to cure a limitless amount of illnesses without the severe side effects that drugs used to cause to certain individuals.   Education is looking at being one with nature instead of separate.   Although my course is based on herbs for medicinal purposes we’re also using the technology to test soaps, detergents, and other cosmetic products without having to use animals.”

At the mention of using animals to test products Rita’s eyes tear up.  “That is such a worthy endeavor.”

“I know,” Zsofia replies as she lies down on the stability ball to do crunches.  “The more we understand how life works the more we can develop technology that doesn’t destroy it.”

“Are drugs like antibiotics still necessary?  Good form on the ab crunches.”

“Thank you,” Zsofia says with a grunt as she finishes her set.  “Yes drugs are still needed but we know how much to give an individual much better now.”

“How would you know?”

“Originally it was trial and error.  Now we can do genetic scans to know better how a drug will affect different individuals. “

“Like eating?” Rita asks.  “The same foods can affect different people in a variety of ways?”

“Yes.  Some people are lactose intolerant, others have food allergies to peanuts that could kill them.”

“Everyone is equal but not the same,” Rita says as she lends Zsofia a hand to stand up.

Rita Walker (Blog Three):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Three):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker blog Arla Kasaj, ND and Taylor Norris, RMT with writing

The University of Waterloo is using negative electrodes made of lithium metal to potentially triple the range of current electric vehicle batteries.  There are more and more hybrid and electric cars available including BMW i3.  However, the question is where does the energy to power the cars come from (hydro, coal, nuclear etc.) and how are the batteries produced and what happens with them when they expire.

https://www.bmw.ca/en/all-models/bmw-i/i3/2017/at-a-glance.html

https://uwaterloo.ca/news/news/battery-research-could-triple-range-electric-vehicles

https://www.drivingelectric.com/your-questions-answered/840/how-recyclable-are-batteries-electric-cars

 

It will be another week before Rita starts her Environmental Technology class.  That gives her some time to acclimatize to her new surroundings in Brantford.  For now she is staying in Kaydee’s basement where Kaydee and her husband Shikellamy added a bathroom and separate walk out.  It’s cozy with a large bedroom, rec room and even a den with its own window.   The house is on a ridge overlooking the Grand River.  Rita simply walks out through the rec room’s glass door and up stone steps to get to the street.  Winter might be a bit slippery but Shikellamy should have a railing put in by then.

A major goal for her course is to take the class to different businesses to see firsthand how technology is working with the environment.  Rita has also invited guest speakers to talk to the class.  One of them she is meeting today.

Zsofia Juhász is a professor at the University of Waterloo’s Biomedical Science program specializing in medicinal herbs.  Rita met Zsofia under strenuous circumstances when they were both much younger.  Zsofia never told anyone about Rita’s secret and that has made her a very close and trusted friend.   As fitness buffs they agreed to meet at the college’s gym before going to lunch.

Rita can’t help but smile as she sees Zsofia pull into the college’s parking lot in a dark blue BMW i3. Zsofia long brown hair blows in the wind as she tosses her duffel bag over her shoulder.  The way she walks towards Rita in her tight black jacket and exercise pants says athlete.

“Nice car!” Rita says at the entrance to the college as they hug.

“Don’t tell anyone,” Zsofia whispers with a mischievous grin but the engineering department at the university adapted it so it now has their latest battery technology.”

“Greener?” Rita asks.

“And I can go much farther before recharging.”

As they talk Rita takes Zsofia to the newly built gym.

“So what’s the objective of your course?” Zsofia asks.

Rita takes in a deep breath and gives her a determined smile.  “We keep hearing about our demise as a species and maybe the Earth’s but there’s nothing good about following that way of thinking.  I want to show the general public and businesses that we can make positive changes.”

“That’s a difficult task Rita,” Zsofia says with a warning glance.  “You have to consider the environment, business, and social interaction.”

“True and I have.  If you own a manufacturing company that is releasing caustic chemicals into the atmosphere and I can offer a solution that doesn’t mean shutting your factory down….”  Rita stops to let what she’s suggesting sink in.

“If you can,” Zsofia replies.

“Don’t know unless you try.   Negative thinking is a downward spiral.”

“Businesses, especially international business might not want to be told they have to change.”

“I don’t want to tell them what to do.  I want to work with them to come up with a better and still productive solution.”

As Zsofia ties up her shoes she says, “Well, I’m here to help where I can.”

“How’s your Biomedical course on Herbalism going?” Rita asks to change the subject.

“There’s still such a divide between Pharmacy and Herbalism but I’ll try to keep your positive and inclusive attitude and try not to think of corporate greed.”