Just passing through......

Musings of a lowly pilgrim
Life lessons | Mental Health | Nature | Photography | Social Issues | Stewards of our planet | Travel | Vegan Recipes

Mother Earth, Soap Making and Jonah

April 10, 2020

Fatigue has been keeping me down. For those with CFS, you know well that it doesn’t have to be physical exertion that uses you up, mental fatigue is just as bad, maybe even worse. I suspect there will be many more victims after the pandemic. I have stressed about my future for the past six and a half years and, while I was far from being alone, now the whole world is with me. But strangely enough, I have hope. While there is a possibility that many will resume their destructive ways when all is said and done, I have a sneaky suspicion that the ranks of earth lovers and stewards will swell significantly.

Social distancing

As many of us are using much of our time reflecting on our lives and where we are going, I read stories of how people in India are able to see the Himalayas for the first time in decades, Olive Ridley sea turtles are nesting in peace due to lack of tourists, and there is now a ban on dog and cat consumption in Shenzhen, a city in China, all contributing to Mother Nature’s visible sigh of relief. The evolution of humanity into this massive consumption-based, capitalistic machine is not what any of us intended. Still, it is where we have landed, and at the expense of the planet, the animals and our own lives. But once the gears are turning, how in the world do you halt them, especially when the folks at the top are so disconnected and living off their exploits? Enter COVID-19!

Life is a highway

Generally, we don’t choose the road less travelled, though I do know a fair amount of people who are trying. There is absolutely no way businesses would shut down voluntarily for an indefinite period of time because, why would they? People would lose their livelihoods. Yet, here we are. Like Jonah of the Bible, vomited upon the shores of Ninevah, calling for repentance and a return to God, COVID-19 has been unleashed (and please don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t God’s fault, we did this to ourselves) and we are at a crossroads.


We can learn from this and care for this amazing, beautiful, resilient planet so that it is here for future generations, or we can pick up from where we left off and doom ourselves and every living thing. We have a choice. Scientists and environmentalists have been telling us where we are heading, but we have just continued on. This, now, is an opportunity to change that, to make better choices. The power is absolutely in our hands. Consumers rule. If we refuse to use, to buy, to support, then there is no market. Let’s try,  because we won’t fair as well the next time. And you don’t have to believe in the Bible to grasp the Jonah reference. Ninevah repented and was spared.

Here’s a tip: Buy local.

White-tailed deer

Now that I have embarked on the journey to all-natural, eco-friendly, vegan, palm-oil free DIY products for home and personal care, I’m all over the place! There is so much to learn. I’m well acquainted with researching essential ingredients and packaging from businesses of bygone days. The trickiness is in the ingredients for personal care, figuring out from where they are sourced, if they are ethically sourced, are they sustainable, which grade is better, how to substitute to make the product vegan, finding non-plastic packaging, the list goes on.


I took a class in liquid castile soap-making a couple of months ago and fell in love. It is so simple, and you can use it as a base for all kinds of other products, such as foaming soft soap, dishwashing liquid, body wash and liquid laundry soap. I have also taken a class on eco-friendly cleaning products, and we made laundry soap powder so I now have two choices for laundry soap. We made a liquid fabric softener and, while it smells lovely, I will likely stick with vinegar. I have been adding it to the wash water just like I used to when I had babies in diapers. (It wasn’t until my last baby, Hannah, that I used disposable diapers, and then, not all the time because we couldn’t afford such luxuries). I have the laundry problem taken care of, with home-made soap and dryer balls. I make my own dish soap now,  and recently learned how to make palm-oil free cold processed soap.

Rose geranium french clay soap

I have also made shampoo and conditioner bars, which are probably the best products I have made to date. Unfortunately, these aren’t altogether eco-friendly or sulphate free even though they make my hair feel fantastic. So I am researching how to change that. Most shampoo bars out there are soap bars with a few modifications and are too alkali for hair. So you have to follow up with an acidic rinse, usually apple cider vinegar. The people who make these products have years of experience in formulating recipes and understand chemical reactions, etc., while I barely passed chemistry in high school and am a complete newbie in the DIY personal care products arena. So my mind is once again getting an extensive workout. I am determined to learn, though, as I believe our planet and the creatures in it are worth the effort.

Clary sage and mint soap

I made some aftershave lotion and hand balm as birthday gifts for some men in the family, only to have my son return them because they were unusable! The lotion had separated and clogged the pump, and the hand balm had become brittle. I followed the online recipes, but have come to learn that not everyone out there knows what they are doing. So I worked with what my son had returned, and I have fixed both problems. I’m happy he returned them because I would have never known otherwise. I learned a bit more and have produced a usable product. I have made a substantial amount of palm-oil free soap at home and am happy with my progress. My bars don’t have artificial scents or colouring, so they aren’t quite as pretty as many handmade soaps available, but I have no problem with that.

As with any business, it takes money to make money, so this is definitely going to be a slowly developing project, but it is something I am going to spend the rest of my life doing, whether the business side of things works or not. The idea of snubbing multi-million dollar industries by not buying their products appeals to rebel still awake inside of me, but that is not the real purpose, just a pleasing by-product.

Castile soap

After several failed attempts at making a body lotion, I have finally formulated one I am happy with. It’s not greasy and absorbs well. Now if I could just figure out which recipe it was! I may have to go back to the drawing board with this. (Note to self: Always, ALWAYS, make notes on recipes and modifications!)

Raffi and Nerah
Almost touching

Raffi is doing very well, I’m happy to report. He is extremely protective of his space and doesn’t like Nerah in it. Still, I am looking forward to the day I find them curled up together. I made a very basic ramp for Raffi to climb up to my bedroom windowsill, and he uses it every day. I’m fairly chuffed. He and Nerah play and chase each other around regularily, and she has definitely won him over. He will tolerate her next to him, and I have even found them sleeping together, though not touching.

Raffi navigating his ramp for the first time!
Raffi navigating his ramp for the first time!

I watched a documentary a while ago called “Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story”, and it was enlightening with regards to Raffi’s missing leg. Eduardo lost his hand when he was accidentally electrocuted, but he demonstrates wriggling his non-existent thumb and fingers. There is visible movement in his stump. I have observed movement in Raffi’s shoulder, and I was thinking he sometimes forgets he doesn’t have his right leg anymore because he can still feel it. Poor guy. Regardless, he is coping magnificently.

Bald eagle giving me the eye

While I am still battling the plague of the failed photography outings, I spend way too much time wandering in and around Calgary searching for birds. The birding community is made up of fantastically knowledgeable people who don’t mind sharing their knowledge. I had two bird walks coming up this month with an experienced birder which, of course, are cancelled, but I manage to go for drives in the countryside and even had a friendly chat with a birder at Frank Lake earlier this week.


We practised social distancing with no difficulty whatsoever. I think he was as desperate for human communication as I was. The bonus was, on the drive home, I finally spotted an owl. I have been searching for these elusive creatures for months and, aside from my lucky drive to Saskatoon last November when I spotted three snowy owls, I have had no luck. But on a backroad to Calgary, I spotted a clump in a bush and was pretty confident I knew that outline. Sure enough, it was a great horned owl having a nap. Unfortunately, he/she was too far away, so my pictures are pretty lame. But I found one…….

Can you spot the owl?
There s/he is!



  1. Hi Tina, enjoyed the read very much (again). I am so glad to hear that you have found a hobby/business that is so enjoyable and interesting. The soaps you pictured here sure are pretty, not sure why you think they are not.
    I can’t believe you spotted that owl in the tree. And that was while you were driving?! Wow! Good eye!
    The picture that says ‘Evidence’, what is it evidence of? Looks like stingrays to me.
    Glad to see the cats are getting along.
    I learned a new word; chuffed (-:
    And I had to look up the proper use of the word fair….. wink wink
    You’re a lot more optimistic about the future than I am, especially with the current President in the White House, who’s likely to be re-elected. I wish the policies of the US didn’t have such sway on the rest of the world, especially Canada, because the last 3-4 years have led me to believe that the average American is small-minded, ignorant, simple, gullible and mean-spirited. I know there are millions that aren’t but on average……………
    How else could we be in this awful situation? China is stepping in to take up where the US left off. Ugh! As bad as the US had been at times they were ‘generally’ a force for good and progress. I think it’s pretty fair to say that China is a bully that cannot be trusted. Sorry for the rant on your platform )-:

    1. Glad you enjoyed the read, Allan. I was on a backroad when I spotted the owl. Generally, backroads are quiet so you can drive slower, though I confess I am always on the lookout for creatures wherever I drive. I’ll likely get pulled over one day for weaving all over the road.
      The evidence is Canada Goose prints in the snow. Funny, I thought it was so apparent that it didn’t need identification, but that’s obviously not true. They do look like stingrays, now that you mention it.
      I’m confused about your reference to the word “fair”. I was “fairly” sure I used it correctly both times, but I’m glad that I had to reread the post. It needed tweaking. I hadn’t read it over enough times to catch all the repetitive words or lack of flow.
      I am optimistic about the future. To have no hope is utter despair. Though I have felt that way at times in my personal life, to feel that way about the future would make me want to leave this life now, because what would be the point? And enough people are doing incredible things to cause me to believe in the future. Plus, there is something bigger than us at work.
      As far as politics go, I don’t know much about the mechanics of that world, though I do have my opinion of the president south of us. That opinion is based on the snippets I read and hear, but I don’t know US policy. I know even less about Chinese leadership so I can’t comment. You are welcome to rant anytime. You know more about that world, and if I don’t like what you say, I can delete it. But I think you are my #1 reader so I likely won’t!❤️

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