Our Reporter In Haiti

Many of you know that DECA’s vice-chair, Catherine Porter, is a columnist at the Toronto Star.  Last week she returned from Haiti where she spent twelve hours a day talking to those who are left behind after the earthquake.  She wrote about some of those stories for the paper, but there are only so many column inches and many stories were left untold.

Catherine has agreed to share some of her experiences on the ground in Haiti with the rest of us.  I spent some time with her this weekend and  believe me, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear her talk about what is happening there right now and what it’s like to cover this story.

When: Wednesday, February 10, 8 p.m.

Where: Danforth Mennonite Church – 2174 Danforth Ave.

Admission: Free (Donations welcome to the Team Canada Healing Hands)

RSVP: Mary Margaret McMahon – spargy@rogers.com

Healing, Helping and Heating

Our thoughts are in Haiti.  Cynthia, a friend of DECA, is coordinating a collection of gently used summer clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, sheets and towels to send to Haiti via the consulate, which is sending containers to Haiti in 2-3 weeks.  Apparently, sleeping bags would be extremely helpful as there are so many people without a bed to sleep in. If you can donate something or want to know more, contact Cynthia at cynthias@rogers.com.  As an aside, I happened to notice when I was on the Red Cross Canada website that you if you enter Amazon.ca via the Red Cross website, a portion of the funds will go to the Red Cross.

Meditation. Here’s a bit of personal information about me.  I’m most certainly not the kind of person who is into meditating…let alone someone who would go out to do it with other people even if you do get to sit on a pretty silk cushion.  However, I did go to a yoga/meditation class called Mama, Get A Grip, (run by a DECA member) because the title seemed to be talking directly to me.  And I gotta say, it was a wonderful way to spend 90 minutes.  I walked out of there feeling like a different person…a better different person. It was quite down to earth.

All of this is to tell you that the same group is offering weekly meditation sessions at the Pape/Danforth library every Sunday from 3:30-4:30 starting this Sunday.  Each class will include instruction on a variety of meditation techniques.  It is suitable for “absolute beginners” or experienced meditators.  Bring your favourite cushion or blanket to sit on.  Or chairs are available in the room. $15  For more info contact Rhondda at smileymadsen@yahoo.ca

Home Heating and Home Hardware.  I notice the new, permanent sign is up at the Home Hardware, just east of Woodbine.  Soon there will be another sign there urging you to take a few simple steps to cut down on your home energy use and your energy bills.  Thanks to Mary Margaret for this bit of winter info.

Get Foamy!  Get a can or two of low-expansion foam, put on a pair of rubber gloves and old clothes, read the directions and seal up those holes. Use a smoking incense stick to check for holes around any pipe, wire or hole that enters or leaves the house, especially in the basement, including plumbing vents, well intake and outdoor pipes, gaps where electrical wiring enters the house, openings around exhaust fans, and gaps at the top of exterior walls.

Caulking and Weather-stripping are Your New Best Friends! Caulk the attic hatch – in some cases, you can reduce your heat loss by five per cent.  Keeps hot, moist air from collecting in the attic and contributing to ice damming too. Imagine leaky doors and windows as holes in your walls.  Caulk and weather-strip them.

Window Dressing – Put heat-sensitive plastic film on drafty windows. Extend the border to outside the window frame to block draft from under the frame.

Down Boy Down – Turn down your thermostat and put on a sweater.  Install a programmable thermostat.  Set it to drop by four degrees C when you’re out or asleep. Such a drop could reduce your bill by 15 per cent.  That will easily pay the cost of the new thermostat.  If you’re on a furnace, especially oil, and haven’t had it cleaned in a few years, make an appointment right away. Again, depending on individual situations, a dirty burner can be costing you an extra 10 per cent.

It’s that Time of the Month – Change your furnace filter every month.  Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your furnace costing you more money and wasting energy.

Lights, Compact Fluorescents, Action – Invest in compact fluorescent bulbs for your home.  Consider this: replace one 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 15-watt compact fluorescent and save about 570 kilowatt-hours of electricity over the life of the bulb – at Hydro One rural rates of 5.5 cents/kilowatt-hour, that’s approximately $31.35. Invest in LED light bulbs for high-use areas.

Use motion sensors and timers to limit energy use.  Beware of phantom power (when your appliance is plugged in and turned off but still drawing power).  Unplug appliances not in use (microwaves, music boxes, chargers) and put your computers, TVs, modems, tool/game chargers on power bars with timers so they go off when you’re not using them.