Tag Archives: New York City

I’m reducing my carbon foot print

Gentle Reader,

I am reducing my carbon foot print. My house is organized chaos. All the furnishings are stacked in the middle of each room, covered with sheets. Two young men are drilling holes in the outside walls of every room, caulking the heat registers, the joint where wall meets floor, and every nook where air can leak.
In Seattle we have an Energy Upgrade program to entice a home owner to do this. Over two thousand families have opted in, gotten their financing together, had the energy audit and done the work. The opportunity for low interest loans and government rebates may be extended if Cascadia Consulting, the small, forward reaching firm who operates this program can persuade the city to do another round, without Federal dollars.
What took me so long to sign up for this? I have a reputation as a carbon off-setter. I have bought shares in wind farms on the Lakota reservation. I have planted trees through Re-leaf America, the oldest environment organization in the US, founded in 1903. But my house was more of a tent with permanent walls, leaking air like a sieve.

Hudson River from Mary Ann's
Looking through leaky windows toward the Hudson River

After a recent trip to New York City with my granddaughter, I find myself reflecting on the actions of a single individual in the face of the enormity of the problem facing the world. We must get our carbon parts per million down to 350 or find ourselves in an irreversible environmental catastrophe. Compare the interest and effort in this far flung corner of the US with New York City.

My hostess, Mary Ann, lives in a beautiful rent controlled apartment on the Upper East Side, the Hudson River in full view from her spacious north facing balcony. The fine old metal and glass paneled windows do not latch. Walking along the path beside the river just 100 yards from her building’s front door, Ellie and I joined cyclists, mothers with baby carriages, old people leaning on canes, joggers, strollers. This is one New York’s back yard retreats.

Hudson River view from Upper West Side
New York’s back yard, walking along the Hudson


The sun danced on the wavelets of a calm river. New green, that not-shiny-yet true green that appears miraculously every May after a hard winter of snow and bitter cold. This year in New York, they were locked in a cold that would not stop, seeping into bones and the cracks in all the houses.

I asked Mary Ann how she managed to stay warm in this 17th floor apartment with its rusty metal-framed windows.

“The heat in the building is so great; I have the windows open all winter.”
Can you believe it?

The carbon foot print of New York City by itself, if reduced by 15%, could turn 400 ppm to 380, I have no doubt. This is an emergency. Federal dollars could reverse the course of disaster by compulsory retrofitting every building in New York City, changing every light bulb. People would be put to work in the process.

It would be worth every penny. Repeat the process in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and Gary, Indiana. Every major city where old high rises scrap the sky as wicks of heat pouring into the atmosphere.

I have learned in talking with my environmentalist daughter that NYC has excellent energy recovery projects underway. It is a huge job.

My little project will off-set the carbon foot print I create every time I get on an airplane for the next 10 years. It is a drop in the bucket. My visit to New York discourages me from the belief that we can save our planet for future generations.

What are you doing in your neck of the woods? Let us know, please.

By the way, are you reducing your carbon foot print by using highly concentrated, biodegradable cleaning and laundry products?  Check them out on my shopping page.  You’ll be so glad you did.  You’ll throw away 1 bottle for every 50 of those other products.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving, Betsy

ps:  I made a video showing the energy upgrade project.  You can see it on YouTube. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ta1n0-YU9jI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>


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Out of the exercise habit: bad for arthritis pain

Gentle Reader,

Funny how you can be diligent with your daily back health exercises and stretches when you are traveling, IMG_0520but get too busy at the desk to do them when you get back home.  Then suddenly the pain shows up.  I do know what to do:

1.  Get to bed earlier so rest can heal.

2.  Walk every day, no matter what

3.  Weight lifting and other core strengthening exercises are a must

4.  Get back to the sugar and gluten-free diet

New York was a blast with Ellie. Here are some pictures.

Ellie and I hung out in Times Square’s hustle and bustle visiting the Disney store, Toy R Us where we rode the ferris wheel, the M&M store with irresistible branded items from coffee mugs to bed linens (she bought an M&M covered basket ball!).  We sat on the bleachers and watched the flashing lights from every building and all the people speaking every language on Earth.  She got herself on the big screen for a few seconds. IMG_0457 Madame Tussaud’s wax museum is a history/pop culture lesson.  For her, American giants from George Washington and Lincoln to the Obama’s came alive.  For me, she introduced me to the TV stars, singers and comedians who perform today (and I never watch).

We went to see Annie on Broadway, her first such production.  Fabulous.IMG_0453

A friend of mine who volunteers as a Big Apple Greeter toured us around China town, but the real thrill for this girl who has been exposed to Mandarin in her elementary school since she was in kindergarten, was recognizing the spoken language as we waited in line for the New York Harbor tour.  In her extreme shyness, she managed to say a phrase in Mandarin to the young woman who just graduated from a US university and her parents who came from Shanghai to witness this big event.  They were thrilled and I think she was, too.   IMG_0555

Central Park and the Museum of Natural History were walking distance away from my friend’s Riverside Drive apartment and the IMG_0451weather was wonderful for strolling.  Probably the most exciting thing Ellie did was make a Muppet at FAO Schwartz.

Our host, Mary Ann, has two lovely cats which Ellie befriended.  One afternoon several writing friends came to “write with Ellie” whose teacher often had the 5th grade students write on topic, never lifting the pen until the time is up.IMG_0542

A highlight for me was our trip with Mary Ann and her friend Jan to Brooklyn for brunch in a funky restaurant that had been completely under water during the hurricane and served the best breakfast we’d ever eaten out.  We also visited the Brooklyn Art Museum where we spent time with the extraordinary women IMG_0523depicted in Judy Chicago’s famous Dinner Party.  On our last day there we went out to Saint John the Devine.  Blue-gowned graduates of Columbia Teachers’ College were just leaving the Cathedral and their ceremony.  Proud parents and grand parents took pictures as we sat on the steps.  Later when I asked Ellie if she would ever come back to New York, she said maybe she’d go there to college.

Ellie is the next to the last child to take on a trip.  Charles Grant Finney is 10 so it will be a couple of years.  Perhaps her older sister will decide she’d like to take a trip with Grandma, but so far it hasn’t seemed like a good idea to her.  What a glorious series of adventures it has been.  Sixteen children altogether; 13 trips so far.  I am one lucky grandma. For more pictures, click here.

My hope for you is that you, too, will be able to keep moving into your 70s.  Don’t let your busy-ness distract you from those exercises that keep your core strong so your back and joints don’t have to do all the work.  Our bones and joints get tired and worn out, but the capacity of our muscles depends on our diligence.  We keep them supple and strong or let them get flabby.

Take a moment to leave a comment about travel and managing your arthritis when you are on the move.  Or about anything else you care to share.

Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

206 933 1889

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