Farewell to 2018

The holidays are amongst us, and for us it is a joyous time of year. Kids are buzzing, family will make an appearance or two, and the house is filled with the smells of hot cocoa, popcorn, and gingerbread. I’ve been spending my evenings wrapping presents in front of reruns of Downton Abbey or a favorite Christmas movie. Often reflecting on how I have changed this year. It hasn’t been my most positive planet fighting achievement, my greatest career advancing, or my most productive by far, but it has given me new insight on what I really want.  

The kids and I on Thanksgiving

The year started with little sleep and seems to be ending with little sleep too. Somewhere in the middle I did actually sleep but those days are foggy now. The kids have had some crazy colds so far this winter, and one turned into a long long ear infection for baby. Little sleep makes for a crazy mommy and gives me little motivation to get through daily tasks much less concentrate on changing the world. I did find some time to campaign for candidates and propositions I believed in around the country, voted for the underdogs, and registered some new voters during the summer season. Though many did not win it felt good to fight for my beliefs and hope for change.
The UN report released in October made my skin crawl and I haven’t really recovered. I find myself standing in the kitchen worrying. Worrying about the future, worrying about how I will protect my children, and if I am so blessed – grandchildren. My mom and I discuss these topics all the time, and I am always jealous of her naivety when she was a mother. Sure she had her own worries of the time, but we ate frozen beef taquitos without stressing that they were contributing to global food shortages and possible the end of life as we know. Its heavy but its true. As a result I have become totally and completely obsessed with Vermont. My grandmother would tell you I am a true California girl and I would never last more than a half hour in her home town of Crookston, Minnesota, but I have run my husband ragged with theories of why we need to buy land elsewhere. He told me the other day, that he did not want to talk about Vermont anymore. He is to the core a completely rational male, and I to my own core a worrisome mother, on this grand topic, you might want to call us oil and water. We are both incredibly stubborn so we shall see who wins the argument. But I can’t stop thinking about an escape plan. Where will we go with California burns up? Dries out and there is not enough food? Where will you go?

It is now as I write this that I realize that all this anxiety and lack of sleep is causing me to eat. Eat very poorly I may add. I have never in my entire life – including my juvenile years, have I consumed so much sugar. At one point I was eating half a pint of ice cream a day. I overheard Robert at a party we were hosting, telling friends and family in his own way how amazed he was by the amount of sweets I was consuming. His family usually has more dessert then dinner so that is saying a lot. Then a visit with my mom turned into an obsession with chips, granted it was during the horrendous fires, but still chips? My brother brought us bags of basically “organic” Doritos and ever since I have completely been fixated on crunchy nacho disgustingness. I know they aren’t good, but I can’t stop eating them. Literally bags full a day. Missy asked me if I was a stoner with a laugh. (for the record I am NOT). Every night after I put the kids down and before I attempt to clean up from the day I open a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream, or a candy bar (or two) and go to town. Its totally embarrassing, hopefully being honest about it will make me stop. All this junk has contributed negatively to my garbage can, my waistline, my teeth and I’m sure my health. I partially blame the fact that I don’t get to market enough anymore to stock up on veggies, but who am I kidding.

Kindergarten has shaken up our house in so many ways. We have a blossoming sounding out counting queen on our hands and it is so fun! She is going through too much paper but her fire to read and write is amazing to watch. Her school while she loves it has been a bit of an eye opener and a shock to me. It’s not progressive, and it has really shown me how far away we are from change actually happening. Disposable water bottles at EVERY event. Major resistance on nearly everything environmentally conscience except a push to recycle….helllllllooooo does anyone listen when they are talking about these tariffs? Recycling is now a joke! There have been parents who throw a fit when useable plates and forks are used for kids parties instead of disposable options, like really? District officials who refuse to consider other options when it comes to the way technology is implemented in the classroom. These amongst other events outside of the wonderfulness that is happening in the classroom, make me long for that Charter Montessori I let myself be talked out of. I knew better, another life lesson about how I need to always trust my gut. There is a strong American culture out there that I have always felt isolated from. Now I feel it nearly everyday with this school and it can be a total


Making gingerbread cookies and a house decorated with our left over Halloween candy.

Bringing it back to that kindergartener and the blossoming she has been doing. I am helping to create a group of Daisy Girls Scouts who will change the world and fight for our planet. That has been a lot of work, but fun work. I never thought I could geek out on patches before, nor that this ex-fshionista could love a rainbow uniform. The last week I have made a conscience effort to put away my phone and endless influx of news and opinion articles to spend some quality time with the big girl while her brother is napping. We’ve been sewing, creating, and cooking and it has made my heart burst with joy. I love her so and its so exciting to watch her grow. We had spent nearly two weeks this fall locked indoors because of smoke and dangerous air quality. It contributed to my anxiety about what our future will hold, but also made me hyper aware of my time with these little munchkins. As we were driving through the smoke to get back home after trying to escape it I found myself apologizing over and over to them both. Finally Marilyn asked me “why do you say that? you didn’t make the smoke.” She was right, I didn’t, but my job is to protect her, and I felt so hopeless. I’ve contributed to this mess. Now, I feel like I can’t protect her from this, it’s beyond me. More of a reason to be obsessed with moving or escaping to somewhere else.

2018 had some wonderful moments and some rough ones. I wasn’t necessarily the best climate activist, but it has helped me see what is most important to me right this minute, my family. I need to do everything I can to combat this devastating change to ensure that my babies are able to have a place in this world, but I also know that I need to be totally engaged in them. The guilt from letting my work load slack, I have to let subside. That’s not where I need to be. I need to be at home with my kids and together we need to work on changing the world. I know that my place is with them right now, and there is so much that we can do together. I am starting to feel confident that going into 2019 I will have the energy, even without the sleep, to fight for them. I am their mom, it’s my job.


Meal Planning

Life is crazy busy. Kids. Sports. Work. School. Politics. Saving the planet. Most days I’m either spinning or completely lost in the fog. I know I am not the only one. Meal times are completely and utterly challenging! I found myself going out to eat far more then necessary because I would look in the cabinets to find there was nothing I could conjure in less time then it would take me to drive to a local spot.  Rather then reach for a box of frozen wastefully wrapped not so healthy “food” I have found my savior on a scratch piece of paper. Continue reading


mls-rdw-17-1505335824When shopping for a somewhat picky man with a mostly lean 6’6 frame, amazonian arms and legs, not to mention shoes that could be used for safety rafts the task is difficult, throw in the environmentally and humanely responsible curve ball and its enough to want to jump ship sans the size 15s. Its a wonder he refuses to do it all. However in my adventure to find responsible lines for my post here I came across PACT and here is what we found. Continue reading

Dear Tomorrow

I was downtown today. I saw an older pickup truck, jacked up, off-road tires. Its exactly the kind of truck I would have loved to own back in the day; the kind of truck nostalgic country singers croon about. I used to have a truck like it, actually. I would wash it, just to run it through puddles and get “good mud” on it. The kind of truck that I DON’T own now, and probably will not ever again. Not because big trucks and jacked up tires aren’t fun or useful. But they guzzle gas and combust fossil fuels and the climate activist in me can’t wrap my head around using one to putz around town in.

Now I know many people need trucks and use them appropriately. This post isn’t a dis on trucks in general. There is a complete void of readily available and affordable electric or alternative fuel alternative on the market… for now. I don’t expect my contractor to haul concrete and lumber in a LEAF, or a gardener to pack a mower in a Tesla.

In the back of this Chevy was a large political sign… the kind of visual pollution you see at every major intersection a month before an election. It happened to be for the opponent of the candidate I support. “Support” to the point of actively volunteering for the campaign, making calls and writing postcards and emails for.

It made me ill to see this sign in the back of this gas-guzzling older pickup… older meaning really inefficient with a gas tank that still allows for gasoline to vaporize into the atmosphere. It wasn’t being used for a job other than promoting a candidate. This method of advertising had a paradoxical effect, entrenching me even more in support of the incumbent this truck as trying to unseat.

4×4 advertising

Have you heard about the Dear Tomorrow nonprofit? DearTomorrow is a digital platform and archive project where people share letters, photos, and videos to their children, family, or future self about their promise to take action on climate change.

I first heard about Dear Tomorrow at Climate Reality training. Pittsburgh, PA mayor Bill Peduto spoke the 1,300 climate activists about why we resisted Trump’s message to focus on “Pittsburgh, not Paris” when stating he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate accord. I visited Dear Tomorrow’s website and saw Mr. Peduto’s picture and connected the two. Anyway, I thought it was cool at the time. And maybe a little self serving, since this elected person was talking about electing people based on his own platform. Nonetheless, its awesome that a climate activist like Peduto would be mayor of a city with a history mired in coal and steel and building America and all of the pollution that comes with it… and is actually making a difference by what you can not see in the river and not smell in the air!

Pittsburgh, PA mayor Bill Peduto with this “Dear Tomorrow” promise 

So when I logged onto social media and find the opponent of my local county board of supervisor race taking a break from her mercedes SUV and driving a pickup with a huge sign promoting herself, I was irritated. And then there was the chevy I had also seen, confirming that this was not an isolated incident, but an actual campaign tactic. I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Peduto’s Dear Tomorrow and adopt it as my own war cry.





Tonight I went to phone bank on my candidate’s behalf. She was there, making calls, too. I parked my zero-emissions vehicle next to hers. And that felt right!

There are a lot of important issues out there. But what will it all matter if we don’t have a habitable planet to live on? Thats why the issue of climate change is the priority in all of my votes. Click Here for more information on Dear Tomorrow and how to become an environmental voter. 

EV parking with my county supervisor. Vote for values in line with your own.


Part 2: Lightly Robed

People Tree was one of the lines highlighted on the film as doing the right thing. Their items are well made and stylish with good price points, win win!

In my last post I explored on the horrors of the fashion industry and this world of waste we live in. Report after report from NPR to the parent tour we recently did for Kindergarten highlight levels of anxiety and depression as a concern for almost everyone. We are constantly bombarded with terrible news and often feel powerless to make a difference. Fleeing Syrians, lead in kids drinking water, shootings, robberies, children obducted, animals abused, it goes on and on everyday. Its easy to throw your hands up, retreat to a bubble, and refuse to do anything because you CAN’T do everything or worse internalize it and let it fester inside causing depression and anxiety. Stop. Stop right there. Look closer because you can almost always do something. In this blur of fast fashion and never ending consumerism what can one little person do in their own homes? Here’s a good start. Continue reading

Part 1: Closet Case

Rana Plaza building collapses killing 1,134 garment workers five years ago today. 

I scrutinize every piece of food that enters my mouth. I make 90% of my cleaning products. My garden is full of both beneficial and not so great bugs. You’d be hard pressed to find a package in my pantry. My driveway and walkways are adorned with weeds. My medicine cabinet is sparsely decorated with a mix of local, organic, and homemade natural remedies. Even my laundry practice is over thought and responsible. But open the doors to my 1950’s closet and you will find a mix of fast and slow fashion, with a heavy emphasis on fast fashion. Why is is that I have flipped so many aspects of my life but put little thought or energy into the very clothing that covers my body 24 hrs a day? Though I believe I really have always known what was going on behind these brands, it has really only come to the forefront of my thoughts in recent weeks. Can you say hypocrite??? Continue reading

The True Cost of Repealing the Clean Power Plan

Lily and I attended the listening session on February 28th in San Francisco, CA hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding their proposal under Administrator Scott Pruitt to repeal the Clean Power Plan. I wrote about my opposition to this plan as you may remember in the post A Load of Crap and How to Flush it.

I signed up to attend and provide oral testimony during this listening session weeks ago. I was very excited for the speaking opportunity in such proximity and for an issue I’ve earned sweat equity in the outcome. This session was the kind of thing Climate Reality had trained me for! After the date for it was announced, I started a rah-rah campaign to entice other climate activists and resistance-minded allies to attend and speak. I had visions of zero-emissions carpools, large painted banners, matching shirts– perhaps as a nurse I could wear my scrubs– all in the name of chewing on the ear of the EPA.

Then Hubs and I decided to move and put my house on the market. Suddenly I was attacking the junk in my closets and garage like they were the very fossil fuel industries causing global warming. The night before the listening session also became the night before the Broker’s Open. I was sorting my laundry area until O-dark thirty. I took a two hour “nap” at 4 in the morning, and woke up to make beds, clean my bathrooms and vacuum floors. Lily arrived early, with final touches of decor and baby Theo in tow, and provided emotional support for me in my zombie-spinning-nonsensical-twirling state.

And she told me to stop bleaching. “I stepped in cat poop! Does it smell like cat poop? It can’t smell like cat poop! I’m going to take that cat’s ninth life! I was picking up poop and I stepped in poop! Does it smell? Lily!” “No, it smells like bleach. Stop it! You shouldn’t be using toxic chemicals.” Okay fine. I got caught. I selfishly pulled out the big guns. I had a moment of screw the planet if it means I get ahead somehow!

And then I got a grip. Today was EPA day after all. And Lily is the most unforgiving of witnesses.

After my realtor kicked me out, I made my way to Lily’s house. Were we really going to drive to the city for this little EPA thing? Does it really matter? I had already written a letter. Written testimony was weighted the same as oral testimony, after all. Just like the bleach in my bathtub, I was bargaining with myself, trying to justify and minimize and bargain my way into the easy route.

Just like SCOTT PRUITT! Good thing I wasn’t Administrator of a major governmental agency on February 28th or I would have been acting just like that nard ball.

Anyway, back to Lily’s house. Actually, her living room floor. That’s where I was laying in the prone position lamenting about how tired I was and bargaining with myself and Lily about into not going. I had no clothes, no sleep, and no words prepared. I had pillows under my eyes and no makeup on yet to conceal them. Lily threw some one-sized fits all number and and told me she would drive. I told her I couldn’t do flats and eyeballed her Uggs and she said fine. I don’t know how she did it, but she got me in that car and to the room. Having only three cups of coffee on my stomach, I almost puked, but the mystical creature that is Lily got me there.

I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. We were surrounded by so many other concerned citizens, from so many different vantage points: mayors, professors, scientists, nurses, people who had lost their homes, have children in their lives they are concerned about, an Allegheny county native, victims of the the northern California wildfires. We heard from such a variety of opinions supporting the same goal: Don’t repeal the clean power plan!

Artwork in City Hall, San Francisco depicting sea level rise by 2117

I was surrounded by my base, and it was nourishing to drink in that refreshment and respite this room of strangers offered. After weeks of feeling like what I was doing wasn’t working or wasn’t important and that no one cared, here was a room full of people who had extracted themselves from their busy lives, to show up, to say their peace, and fight the good fight.

I was speaker number twenty five, so I had twenty four 3-minute speeches to figure out what to say. After, I received a few approving nods. I collected my bags to go, and one woman followed me out (pickup time across the bay was looming regarding aforementioned children). Like Lily, she sported a baby carrier on her chest. She was a mother too, said she really identified with what I had said, and we shared an embrace that calmed my nerves and filled me with sisterhood.

Here’s what I said. If you are reading and you haven’t yet done so, its not too late to get your word in edgewise and submit your opposition to repealing the Clean Power Plan: One Thing You Have to Do Today.

Mellissa Ahern. A-H-E-R-N.

I am a nurse, trained Climate Reality Leader, taxpayer, constituent, American, Godmother, and Mom.

Man-made climate change is as proven as gravity. This repeal of the Clean Power Plan is in direct opposition of the swift action necessary to curtail the devastating effects of climate change.

What is the real cost of repealing the clean power plan? Not just in dollars and cents, but for our safety, health, and habitable conditions on our planet?

How many of the estimated annual 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths are worth burning more fossil fuels when we have clean energy solutions at hand?

How many babies born without brains due to Zika infection in pregnant mothers can Scott Pruitt sleep with at night?

How many communities can be rebuilt from hurricane Harveys and Irmas can we afford?

How many flooded nursing facilities with our elderly swimming in feces contaminated water is okay in this society?

How many homes can burn down in the middle of the night while citizens sleep in their beds and Trump golfs at Mar-a-Lago?

How many economic crises can Congress bail out when the carbon bubble bursts?

How many farmers can afford to drill deeper and deeper until droughts finally dry our aquifers and threaten our food supply?

Given the division our country is facing, what will become of the United States when stressed with further political instability caused by climate change, climate disasters, and climate refugees?

According to a March 2017 Gallup poll, more that 70% of Americans agree that our government should prioritize alternatives like renewables over dirty fossil fuels.

Quire frankly, I’m pissed. I’m a working mom. I work hard to care for patients at work and my children when I’m at home. I pay my taxes, and I need to come here today and advocate that the EPA do its job and what is right?

I challenge Scott Pruitt’s EPA to do its job, and protect the environment. Stop gambling with our future. Stop wasting time we simply cannot afford.


Advice from a 101-year-old

Its not often one encounters a 101-year-old human.

In fact, unless you are in some pretty specific professions, you may witness more lions, tigers and bears in your life thanks to zoos and such than you will 100+ year olds.

There’s something striking about checking an armband and seeing a DOB from the 1910’s. Continue reading

Second-hand Clothes are Always in Style


I’ve always loved shopping and I’ve always loved a good bargain. That’s why thrift shops, vintage stores, and yard sales have been my go-to since the early days of following my mom around the Salvation Army store. There are so many great treasures and super deals to be found, but it does take time and patience. Continue reading

Tesla Model 3 Leads Record Electrical Vehicle Sales in January 2018

The party line that renewable are bad for the economy just doesn’t hold any merit. There’s nothing but growth and demand in EV and renewables, and the only thing that seems to stand in the way are divisive politics out of Washington.


For those concerned about human-caused climate change, electrical vehicles and the batteries that their engines derive stored energy from are a key innovation. These zero emissions platforms stand to potentially replace more than a billion internal combustion engines — each dumping about three tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere every year. Moreover, the powerful batteries in these cars can be used to store electricity generated by renewable sources. Making clean energy available 24/7 despite hours of darkness and lulls in the wind periodically sapping generation.

(In this National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, the most rapid carbon emissions reductions were achieved in scenarios where large-scale EV deployment was combined with wholesale replacement of coal, oil, and gas fired electricity generation with renewable sources like wind and solar.)

Recognizing the climate-saving potential of this clean tech, nations have pledged to rapidly transition vehicle fleets away from fossil fuel burning automobiles…

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