I’ve taken out the lightfastness test on April 18, and I can now say that in my opinion, the fastness is smack dab in the “3” range – and I can see no difference between the fading with different metals.

But decide for yourselves:

So… lightfastness test: done.

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I’m back from spending a few days with family, and of course things to do have stacked up in the time – so here you have a tulip from our garden while I am trying to catch up!

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Our neighbour has acquired a hive of bees. It’s sunny and quite dry. I’ve “activated” (as in “soaked”) a block of coconut fibres in a plastic bucket a few days ago, to mix with soil for potting plants.

These three things, together, have resulted in this:

These are bees, probably mostly from the neighbour’s hive, having a drink. Actually not only having a drink, but filling up with water to carry back to the hive, to liquify food, be able to digest pollen, and to cool down the hive if necessary.

Which means I’ve been watering the bee-bar every morning now – and I have the pleasure of lots and lots of bees keeping me company when I sit right outside the wintergarden, where the bucket stands, having a break!

Posted in beekeeping, garden things | 2 Comments

Have a happy Easter! Or, if you don’t celebrate Easter, have some nice relaxing days off!

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Trying to live a green-ish life can be a challenge – sometimes because it takes more effort to do the green thing, or more time; sometimes because it’s more expensive, or means that you have to opt for an alternative that will work, but not be as satisfying as the original; and sometimes just because it is hard to know which choice is the greener one.

Take, for instance, electric cars. Yes, burning fossil fuels is not the solution – but with the current electric cars, batteries are a huge issue. Producing batteries takes a lot of energy and ressources, so it does take quite a while for an electric car to become greener overall, regarding its complete environmental impact, than a regular fossil-fuel car driven in an eco-friendly way. And that only if you fill up your batteries with electricity exclusively from renewable sources.

There’s a similar thing when packing stuff. Plastic or paper bags? At first glance, you’d think that a paper bag would be the greener choice by far. Unfortunately that is not the case, as manufacturing paper bags and even recycling paper is consuming quite a lot of energy and water as well. So paper and plastic bags… both not a good choice, though if you are using it only once, a lightweight plastic bag might even be the lesser evil.

While we’re at the topic of plastic and it maybe causing more good than harm, here’s an interesting thing from the BBC about plastic packaging, especially of food items.

The thing that irks me a little in these reports and assessments: It would be perfectly possible to use energy from renewable sources to produce paper bags, and while the reports mention that the trees could stay un-felled and absorb CO2 instead of becoming paper bags, they don’t mention that plastic is made from a finite ressource. So it does, overall, sound a little bit biased to me.

It would also not be so necessary to have plastic packaging for food if they are produced, sold and consumed locally. Which, obviously, is not possible for all kinds of fruit and vegetables – but buying locally from a farmer at the market will usually get you fresh produce at a fair price, and with little to no packaging. Especially if you re-use the bags you have, whether that is cotton, paper or plastic. As the plastic bags today are mostly very lightweight, it’s easy to just stuff one or two into your handbag or bike pannier or whatever else you carry with yourself on an ordinary day, for impromptu shopping stuff. (It never hurts to have an extra bag in the bag. Just like a spoon. Both totally belong in any handbag, if you ask me.)

So… I’m trying to buy things with as little packaging as possible. Which means I am trying to avoid plastic even more than paper, though, as I think that the environmental impact of microplastics and the problem of the non-renewable basis for this are still factors that speak for paper instead of plastic where packaging must be used. The bags that do land in our home are reused – paper bags from the bakery store dried bread leftovers that will be turned into delicious dishes a bit later, or – most of them – become bin liners for the compost bin. Plastic bags are re-used several times for packing things, like fresh produce bought at the market, until something really dirties them up or until they develop holes so they are not useful anymore. Some get a last call to duty as the kitty litter bag… which actually is one of the few things that would be a hassle without plastic bags.

So… what’s your stance on plastic or paper bags?

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Notre Dame, that wonderful cathedral in Paris, has burned on Monday. It’s a very sad thing – and it does bring home again how devastating fire can be, and how hard to bring under control, even with modern firefighting equipment.

No lives were lost, though, which is a good thing. Another good thing is that the statues from the spire that fell had been taken off for conservation works just a short time before, so they are safe as well, as are a good part of the treasures that were housed in the cathedral (among them, luckily, the garment of King Louis IX – whew!).

It’s not clear yet what caused the fire, and no matter how it came to be, the damage done is huge. Though, again, it could have been worse. The roof is gone completely, as is the spire, and there may be structural damage done to the stones due to the heat, but most of the building is still standing, and a lot of the inside is still intact. Plus, for the restauration works, Notre Dame was the subject of many research works, so there is a good number of documentation about it. There’s also a lot of donating going on already to help with rebuilding and restoration.

If you are looking for more info, this BBC article provides links to footage of the fire and to several other articles about the topic.

Posted in and now for something completely different | 3 Comments

Sometimes, making a ruckus by getting a lot of people to sign something does actually help. The “save the bees”-Bürgerbegehren that was running a while ago had a huge lot of people sign, and as a result, the contents of this petition will actually be turned into laws. Nice, isn’t it?

So, since there is hope of things changing to the better if enough people speak up, here are links to some petitions currently running that seem like a good idea to me.

First of all, and for Germans only: The Elbe river is scheduled for works to deepen the river bed, starting very soon in 2019. Unfortunately, this deepening means a lot of excavators removing matter from the river bed, killing everything that lives in there – the microbiome in the river bed soil doesn’t withstand sudden changes in its environment. The excavated soil will then be dumped in the North Sea, where it doesn’t belong and in turn causes more death of local fish and crustaceans, as their habitat is disturbed.

A petition against this is currently running on the petition site of the German Bundestag. If you are a German citizen, you can register and sign. Unfortunately, it will only run for a few more days, until and it is very far from reaching the quorum number yet – so please do sign, quickly, and spread the word!

Another petition, also regarding stupid things planned in Germany, is against a mountainbike park in the Saar-Hunsrück-Region. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against mountainbiking and MTB trails – but the plans are for a huge beast of a park with lifts, ramps, and other fixed installations. The forest that this is planned for, however, is home to wild cats and technically under protection as a natural reserve. Not a good idea to get about 27000 people per year in there, mountainbiking…

Third thing’s the charm, finally – Greenpeace is asking for signatures for better protection of the high seas. That protection is necessary, as the high seas are in danger of overfishing, there’s plastic floating around, and that together with the climate changes is damaging animal and plant life in the sea. Which, in turn, will bite us humans in the butt – so it’s high time to have some more protected areas in the sea.

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