July 23, 2012

Solarfest 2012: sun-baked reflections

The main star of the weekend—the sun—
shined on us all!
This area (above) is one of the fields where festival attendees car camped. There were several options--in a field across the road (for RV's and the like), the open field (above) and free in the woods. 

We rolled in Saturday morning, set up camp in the woods —finding a nice sheltered spot—before enjoying some yummy food from the food court. I had my first of two bundles of love from the Barn Restaurant Burrito Guy. His freshly squeezed lemonade also went too quickly!  We checked out the schedule, made a plan, and attended some talks in the early afternoon. 
I headed into the big tent for a sun-break and to see some vendors...The earth's creative gravitation pull directed me to a booth with graphically clever and colorful prints and T's by DesignITtogether, out of Troy, NY.  Ben proved a hardcore vendor, at his booth all day and even Sunday morning! This was my favorite fresh talent at the 2012 Solarfest. Here is a link to their information:  DESIGNITTOGETHER.

Something for everyone.
 Kitty Attack! T-shirt:
True to its word:
The Wookiee fights back!

I missed the opportunity to buy some soapberries (Sapindus Mukorossi Organic Soapberries) from the SoBerry Clean family directly, so I will get some on line.  In researching this company and soapnuts,  I was amazed to learn extensively, via their site,  about 1,4 Dioxane that's in many of our most readily available laundry detergents:
"...1,4-Dioxane is a carcinogenic substance that is found in most commercial laundry detergents.  It is a by-product of the chemical soapmaking process, and therefore does not have to be listed as an ingredient.  This is a problem, because many people are using these laundry detergents, having no idea that they contain a carcinogen...."
Soapberries provide a chemical free alternative! For more information on this topic go here: By good fortune I choose Ecos Laundry Detergent, which is free from the 1,4 Dioxane.

While the festival turnout (Saturday) did not seem as populated as when I attended before, I was relieved for the space to move around and talk with folks at various booths. I got a chance to dream about little sheds with porches, too. 

I missed the (red wigglers) worm guy! There was just too much to do and see! Here is a link to Ben's Bins in Florence, Mass.:
I was intrigued by the variety of composting toilet options and well as the vast representation and education on Solar, Bio Diesel and Wind Power.

Initial impressions from the presentations I attended:
  • SOLAR! I am disappointed our country's leaders do not proactively facilitate its increase of use.
  • Bio Diesel is also political ---AND a fussy method to fuel one's vehicle. It requires tremendous networking that is impressive and satisfying to witness.  Requirements: must love to fuss with filters and know all about car (diesel) engines. 
  • Wind Power impacts the land—it will reshape the mountain ridges and requires wide roads to access the landing area. I need to know more about this and where it is "planned" in Vermont. Falmouth, MA has had some trouble, along with the Cape Winds project. The general sentiment is "not in my back yard." Solar seems less intrusive. 
  • Zero Net Buildings and Homes. I am going to introduce my colleagues to Steven Strong's work (Solar Design Associates) and see if it is possible to bring him to campus:
"....Over the past three decades, [Steven Strong] has earned an international reputation designing dozens of Zero-Net-Energy homes and buildings which provide delightful living/working environments with no purchased energy...." 

I also got close--but not too close--to the Poison Parsnip! It was everywhere in the clusters of tall grass, interspersed with pretty purple flowers. It's sap, when exposed to the sun creates open wound ulcers.
 Detail of the Poison Parsnip:

On the way back to NH, we took an exploratory route back and stopped in Jamaica, Vermont. This town was one of many in Vermont washed out during Hurricane Irene. The Wrath of Irene: Vermont's Imperfect Storm of 2011 by the Herald of Randolph extensively covers some of the effected towns. 

(All photos were taken by me, Emily trail pixie Trespas, except the Ecos bottle. 
If you wish to re-post, please ask permission and credit, thanks. )

July 20, 2012

Solarfest 2012

Tomorrow morning we head to Tinmouth, Vermont to enjoy Solarfest. This will be my second time thanks to a good friend of mine who first introduced me to the event years ago!  The 2012 schedule is packed with amazing talks, educational booths and events and some intriguing sponsors and vendors. 

Mental to do/to see/to learn list: 
  • Explore personal potential, feasibility and comfort to my buying/building a home that is off the grid;
  • Visit the worm guy and learn about worms and composting;
  • Buy soap berries and bar of tea tree soap;
  •  See what is out there and investigate re-purposed building materials (like the denim insulation dudes);
  • Buy another witty bumper sticker and Eat more Kale sticker;
  • See if I exhibiting as a vendor in 2013 makes sense —with my creations from up-cycled materials; and
  • Have fun with the BF in Vermont enjoying the camping, yummy food and event!
 (all photos by me, the trail pixie)


July 19, 2012

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Something to smile about.. a diagnosis?

This week I read what might be the most clear medical diagnosis for my hip (and lower back) pain I have to date,"....CAM type femoral acetabular impingement,"  which was in my radiology report. (See below.) (Info. links at bottom of post.)

Dr. Scott Martin  (Brigham and Women's Hospital) described my hip pain as a "shredded labrum" versus "torn labrum."  He said, "You do not need surgery...yet." (With emphasis on the word, "yet.")  I followed his strong advice to NOT run nor do more than regular daily activities. This was not a problem because I had already stopped (wog/hiking) after the work I did on the trail for the TARC Spring Thaw Race in March. 

After the hip injection (over a month ago), I still did not run, even though I felt pain free. I had forgotten what that was like!  After about four weeks, the ache came back a bit but not as intense as before.  The unfortunate thing is that hip area injuries/problems like this will not heal heal in time; they need help (injections, PT, surgery...). All the time off and rest in the world will not make this condition better. If I want to avoid surgery I must kiss athletics goodbye, which I am not willing to do! So these last weeks I have experienced such INTENSE lower back pain that I am not smiling as much as I usually do. If I seem down it is just the pain. When I lie on my ice packs, I think about Dick Beardsly's book Staying the Course and his presentation before MDI marathon few years ago. He spoke about his addiction to pain killers —and his fight back to sobriety—after a life-threatening accident with a piece of farm equipment. A tear-jerker of a book; I recommend it highly!

For my pain, I am not even taking Advil nor Tylenol regularly. It is very important that I still be able to feel when some action causes me pain. Pain is my guide right now. Well, to be holistic, happiness is my genuine guide. Yet, when it comes to what I can and cannot do right now, I am supposed to listen to my body and stop when I feel any hint of pain (in the hip and lower back). Sound like a plan for soft wusses? No. Not when I am trying to heal and keep the long view in mind. I am rolling with it!


Last week I was evaluated by my new Physical Therapist, Clare Safran-Norton (PT, PhD, MS, OCS) through Dr. Martin at BWH. She is in high demand given she books over a month out! What I learned from Clare is that I am asymmetrical (pelvis is twisted), extremely tight in my lumbar and thoracic regions of the spine, and still "very very strong." That's funny, I don't feel strong; I feel like a marshmallow peep. Still, she has me empowered and focused on this next chapter of recovery (and/or pre-op...). Clare is helping me further strengthen my pelvic girdle, loosen my back, protect/heal the pain generating area(s). BALANCE!

Goal is to strengthen areas around hip and lower back with NO pain or aggravation of the hip joint(s). Another goal is that I hope to avoid surgery— but if I hope to ever return to the level of activity I enjoyed in the mountains and running with my trail buddies, I will probably need surgery. Dr. Martin is a leading surgeon for arthroscopic hip surgery in the Boston area. A colleague of mine had both hips successfully operated on and corrected by Dr. Martin. Thank goodness for this reference from my colleague! And, Thank goodness I live near Boston!

Here is Dr. Martin's site with lots of juicy details and photos:

".......What is FAI? Femoroacetabular impingement or FAI is a condition of too much friction in the hip joint.  Basically, the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) rub abnormally creating damage to the hip joint.  The damage can occur to the articular cartilage (smooth white surface of the ball or socket) or the labral cartilage (soft tissue bumper of the socket)...."

This link is nice and scientific: 
"....Nonsurgical treatments include modification of activities and avoidance of specific movements that elicit symptoms and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Intra-articular steroid injections and physical therapy with hip strengthening exercises may reduce symptoms. Hip stretching exercises such as yoga usually make symptoms worse...."