Spread the Purple Love Grass

[All photos by Arianna Rich — pictured:  purple love grass plugs awaiting planting]

Spread the Purple Love Grass

Few things provide as much meaning in life as working in service to something you love.   It’s no secret that I love working in support of bettering the environment, particularly as it relates to water.

This past weekend, the Jr. League of Lancaster (JLL), an all-women’s organization committed to training and voluntarism, planted the first of what we hope will be many rain gardens in the City of Lancaster.  Our first project was at the North Museum on the F&M College Campus in downtown Lancaster, redesigning, expanding, and rebuilding an existing, underperforming rain garden.

Lancaster has a combined sewer system, a CSS, which means that sewage and stormwater all flow through the same pipes. Lancaster’s system, like many city systems built in the 1800’s, is old and undersized for the City’s growing population.

When it rains, particularly when there is a big storm event, the stormwater rushes into the sewage system at a rate that overloads the bacteria that treat (eat) the incoming sewage. The waste water treatment plant simply cannot handle the extra volume of water passing through its pipes so rather than sacrifice the bugs that live off the waste, the City opens the outfalls and allows the combined sewer and stormwater to pass through untreated which is called a combined sewer overflow (CSOs). Before wastewater treatment plants were built, dilution was the solution for “treating” waste. That practice was long ago abandoned do to health hazards.

Lancaster City needs to remove 750,000,000 gallons of rain water annually from its combined sewer system.  In order to do so, Lancaster has initiated one of the most innovative and ambitious green infrastructure programs in the country.

The JLL wants to help.  JLL contracted with LandStudies, a landscape architecture and stormwater management company to handle the redesign and plant acquisition portions of this project. In addition, project support was provided by the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster County Conservancy. F&M graciously agreed to house the project on F&M property and provided guidance and assistance from their Office of Sustainability from ground preparation to planting recommendations.

Rain gardens are an urban answer to the loss of natural wetlands caused by modern development, a critical piece of the stormwater management puzzle necessary to return our world to balance. Before asphalt, before concrete, before roadways and superhighways, before commercial and residential housing developments, before “impervious surfaces” — areas covered by impenetrable materials that thwart water absorption — before all of that we had wetlands. In the short-term, a rain garden mimics a wetland.

Think of the footprint of your house particularly after a heavy rain. The impervious surfaces — the roof, the driveway, the sidewalk — all block rainwater from being absorbed back into the ground. This can lead to flooding as all the water rushes off to the stormwater drains. The rain garden redirects that water and allows it to temporarily pond on the surface, like a little holding tank where the water can slowly seep back into the ground, helping to reduce flood risks.

When the rain garden is planted with a good mix of native plants they can act like sponges, filtering out pollutants, absorbing nutrients, trapping sediments, purifying the water, and assisting in groundwater recharge. These plants also provide habitat for birds who like to eat insects so there is less need for insecticides. The economic benefits — fishing, forestry, and recreational tourist activities — to downstream water bodies are important (think Chesapeake Bay). In addition, there is the social benefit of a rain garden to the community which comes together to create and care for it. So many sustainable benefits from one little garden!

JLL is in the process of creating a curriculum that will include all that’s needed to build a rain garden in your own backyard. What if you’re a school that wants to build a rain garden on school property or next to the playground? We can help with that, too. We’ll design the educational curriculum, focusing on STEM elements that can logically be incorporated into a rain garden. The package will include the science and technology as well as timelines, budget and permit information, and everything else needed to support the design and build process.

For each project, we would like to have a high school-aged group involved in the design and build stage. Our goal is to increase the interest of students, particularly girls, in STEM fields. Research shows that as early as 6th grade, girls lose interest in STEM subjects resulting in about 12 out of 100 female bachelor students graduating with a STEM major. By providing this hands on educational component, JLL hopes to not only stimulate, but retain these girls’ love of science, technology, engineering and math.

The JLL wants to be part of Lancaster’s new era of sustainability.  Want to join us?

We just need a few good women!  And yes, men are welcome, too.

pjlazos 6.18.17











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Can bloggers be an alternative news source for creativity, love ❤️ and positivity? According to Cindy, yes we can!
Lovely post with photos from my favorite place on the globe. 🌎

This post, of photos taken in and around Greece, is dedicated to you. Opa!

Creativity is one of the most personally helpful gifts a person can possess.

It gets you through all sorts of negative situations, because it pulls you out of yourself, and your individual worries and concerns.

I think the willingness of bloggers to put their creativity out in the universe, consistently, in a blog, is a huge act of individual human courage.

This individual blogging courage and creativity results in a blogsphere replete with fascinating, absorbing and intriguing blog posts, that offer an improved alternative reading and viewing experience, that is a refreshing alternative to mass media.
(Above four photos were taken on the island of Corfu)

Being part of a worldwide community of talented and supportive bloggers broadens our horizons and perspectives, and enhances our lives.
(Stairway Hotel Bretagne Athens)

It enables bloggers to form…

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A Wrinkle in Time

For my bloggy friend, K. L. Allendoerfer, at A Thousand Finds, neuroscientist, violinist, educator and geocacher extraordinaire, who knows the power of reading and science, and credits L’Engle for sparking her interest in both!

A Wrinkle in Time

If I had read Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time when I was young, there’s a good chance I would have pursued a career in science. First published in 1962 before the concept of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) became a colloquialism for young women — a rallying cry, really — L’Engle’s book reads like a STEM Sisters manifesto, a how-to on being a girl and not being afraid to shine, even if it means being better than a boy in math or science. Today, a measly 12% of female bachelor students go into STEM careers, yet, I posit, that had more girls read A Wrinkle in Time as children, I’m pretty sure that number would be substantially higher. Did I mention that A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times by different publishers until it was picked up by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, because, as L’Engle has commented, it was “too different,” and she didn’t think anyone would publish it? It went on to win the distinguished Newberry Medal in 1963, proving that people will embrace “different” if it comes in the right package.

Given the groundbreaking nature of the story, it’s wonder the book was even published: a female protagonist, the concept of evil which wasn’t kids’ book fodder in 1962, and so much science talk, that there was no precedent for any of it. Would we have Dr. Who (first aired in November 1963) or Star Trek (first aired in 1966) without A Wrinkle in Time? Is it possible that L’Engle’s little book kickstarted the sci-fi craze that the modern-day public clings to like a free climber in Acadia National Park?

We earthlings need to stretch our imaginations beyond this little blue orb and our activities of daily living in order to experience fulfilling lives. Music, art, philosophy and books, books, books help us answer the darn eternal questions that plague us such as who am I? and where the heck am I going? L’Engle planted the sci-fi seed in a generation of kids who grew up to be Star Wars fans and believe in the power of possibility. No small feat there. Yeah, Madeleine. You go, girl. While Scientists have yet to figure out the time travel thing, you can bet that books like A Wrinkle in Time sparked the imagination like no physics class ever could.

L’Engle’s main character, Meg Murry, is a feisty firebrand of a girl who knows her way around a mathematical equation, but shrinks from the more traditional subjects that girls generally excel in. Meg’s brother, Charles Wallace, is a big genius hidden in the body of a small boy. When Meg’s dad goes missing while on a secret, scientific assignment for the government, Meg is distraught while Charles Wallace is busy gaining assistance from his secret contacts. When Mr. Murry doesn’t come back for almost a year, neighbors, teachers and friends all assume Meg’s dad ran off with another woman. Only Meg’s mom believes her husband is in danger; she works diligently in her lab — she’s a scientist, too — devising a way to bring him back.

Meg loves her father and knows that the man who taught her so much about math and science would never willingly leave his family so she and Charles Wallace and their friend, Calvin set off with Charles Wallace’s friends — Mrs Whatsit, who drapes herself in layers of colorful clothes and is the primary intermediary for the kids, Mrs Who, who speaks in only quotations, and Mrs Which, the wisest of the three and usually appearing as a shimmering light because 3-D is just too darn dense — on a quest to find Mr. Murry and bring him back. Meg and company travel the galaxy, encountering many bizarre creatures, including the inimitable Aunt Beast, all of whom assist the young travelers on their journey.

Thanks to the assistance of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, the crew finds Mr. Murry on the planet Camazotz, a dark foreboding place where independent thought is prohibited, where they are introduced to the Tesseract, a fifth-dimensional machine that allows you to jump through time, hence the wrinkle. The Tesseract is one amazing scientific advancement that the kids would love to learn more about, but with Meg’s dad being held in a bar-less prison, and Charles Wallace’s mind being taken over by It, there’s so little time to learn about all of the ramifications of time travel before they have to jump time again to make things right.

A Wrinkle in Time has all the best components of a sci-fi novel — other worlds, a special relationship rooted in earth, making it impossible to leave for good; crazy characters who, although foreign to us, endear us with their actions; a lovable, flawed protagonist possessed of true grit, heart, and purpose, and at her core, a mind for science and math — which, despite what the current elected officials of the American political system have to say, is the reason modern man has effloresced and is still thriving today in the 21st century. (Recall that the ruling elite of the 17th century imprisoned Galileo Galilei, the father of physics and modern astronomy and arguably one of the greatest thinkers of all time for being too science-y and, hence, heretical.  Just sayin’.  Plus it has the best (read:  corny!) opening line of any mystery novel ever, one which the Washington Post’s Style Invitational attributes firstly to an 1830’s English novel by Paul Clifford, and of course, we mustn’t forget the inimitable Snoopy.


Want to get down with your hidden science side? Want to read a YA novel with big adult themes? Then read A Wrinkle in Time to see how it all got started and rekindle your childhood belief in worlds of possibility.

p.s.  now out in a graphic novel format.



pjlazos 6.11.17





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Donald Trump Is Making Me Fat

I wrote this post back in November and lo’ and behold, on Wednesday of this week, NPR did a segment about people complaining that the state of American politics was making them gain weight, what they are colloquially calling, The Trump 10. So I thought I’d repost rather than let NPR have all the fun! Now get to the gym!

Green Life Blue Water

leaf flower

Donald Trump Is Making Me Fat

Like most humans, I am a creature of habit. I get up, go to the gym, go to work, come home, eat dinner with the family, walk the dog, write, stay up way too late, go to bed and do it again. Even my gym time is riddled with routine. I mix it up between three or four different workouts — RPM (spin), the circuit room (the elliptical machine), yoga or bodyflow (does that count as one or two?), a nice long swim. Pretty boring, I know. I used to do things like Body Attack and Body Combat, but the older I get the less interested I am in adversity training, you know, punching, kicking, going in for the kill. I’ll take a mile in the pool with my own thoughts over combat any day.

You get to know the people around you at…

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Oil, Water, Bees and P.J. Lazos

Source: Oil, Water, Bees and P.J. Lazos

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Cool Grey Beats Hot Pavement

We Are The World Blogfest

So hey, hi, and hello.  Ready for some positivity?  Then come along to this month’s installment of #WATWB.  The rules are simple:

Keep the post to below 500 words.  Link to a human news story that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood, and paste it in an excerpt. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

My story, as are many of my stories, is a little bit eco because what could be better than showing Mama some love?

Cool Pavement

California is completely ahead of the curve when it comes to trying out new cool ways to help the environment.  During the summer, temps can easily get into the mid-triple digits down in SoCal, not only making it hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement, but increasing ambient air temperatures, warming up the nearby buildings and contributing to degrading air quality. In an age where climate is on everyone’s mind and a change of a few degrees can mean more severe drought conditions and food insecurity for some, this low-tech fix might be just what some LA neighborhoods need.  Read more here.  Grey is the new black.  Just sayin’.

Here is the link for the #WATWB FB page.  Like the page; invite your friends to join; spread the word; cause it’s cool to be positive.  Hashtag is #WATWB so look for us on Twitter.

And while you’re at it, leave your link here to join if you want to add to the magic and spread the positive word!

Thanks to our awesome hosts this month:  Emerald Barnes; Eric Lahti; Inderpreet Uppal; Lynn Hallbrooks; Peter Nena; Rosha Radhakrishnan.   Why not go visit and show them some sugar. :0)  Until next month, #WATWB.

pjlazos 5.26.17

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Shadow of the Wind

Shadow of the Wind

“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Shadow of the Wind

I don’t really like subjecting books to a rating system as I think it seeks to make banal and categorical that which is confounding and elusive. Life is a participatory endeavor, not something that can be put on a shelf with a descriptive label, and literature, especially exceptional literature, not only mimics the truisms in life, but often shows us the way of it, helping us to sort out our feelings in a manner that the heat of the moment, any moment, does not always allow. Shadow of the Wind is one of those profound books that entertains and enlightens, soothes and stirs, explains and cloaks, all the while giving you a glimpse into eternity. I can’t remember the last time I was so wrapped up in a novel that I’d bound out of bed in the morning and race off to the gym (I do my reading on the elliptical) as if they were giving away a dream vacation. If I could give Carlos Ruiz Zafón six stars for his book, I wouldn’t stop there. The story is long and languid, sprawling enough to allow time for you to sink into it, trying on the characters like your favorite coat — the one you walk the dog in and everyone but you thinks should go into the Goodwill bin – but also heady and demanding, calling you back to its pages with urgency while the mystery unfurls slowly, cresting and bellying out, both sating and gutting you in its pursuit of the more indecipherable of life’s questions.

Set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, Shadow of the Wind tells the story of Daniel Sempere, a boy of ten whose mother died and left him and his father to grieve for her in perpetuity. Daniel is a clever boy, a reader and would-be writer. He and his father live above his father’s bookstore which specializes in estate books and rare collections. They are not rich, but they are comfortable enough, and father and son share a love of books that results in the older Sempere bringing Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books on his tenth birthday. As a life-long lover of books myself, such a place intrigues me — the idea that books have a soul, conjoining the writer and its readers, and that the book’s spirit grows with each reading — and reading Shadow of the Wind, I wished more than once that such a place actually existed.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a singular place given over to the preservation of rare books, some lost to the collective memory, some out of print, some down to only one of their kind. The caretaker, Isaac, guards the books like royalty. For those who know this place, they are invited to walk its labyrinthian halls and choose a book to their liking. Once chosen, that book becomes the responsibility of the chooser who must ensure it remains in print and free from harm, and that the thoughts and ideas therein live on for future generations despite war or politics or climactic changes. Shadow of the Wind is Zafón’s answer to the book burnings of wartime occupiers throughout history. Arguably a crime against humanity, the ravages of book burnings have deprived both present and future readers. The longtime rub between those who love the deep and independent thinking that books engender in a reader versus those who prefer a spoon-fed populace with nary a thought of stepping outside societal lines, carefully drawn by those in power, is alive and thriving, even in today’s modern world. As a reader and writer, I am rooted in the first camp, convinced that the only way to transcend society’s little foibles and grand faux pas is through understanding, and one of the best ways to understand each other is to read what each has written. Books absolutely move humanity forward and no matter how many lifetimes I live, you will never convince me otherwise.

Back at the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Daniel chooses his: Shadow of the Wind, a story written by Julian Carax, an enigma in and of himself. Daniel’s choice, he later discovers, is extremely rare, possibly the only copy left because someone has been burning all of Julian Carax’s books. Daniel’s sleuthing to uncover the mystery surrounding Carax’s life and the systematic eradication of Carax’s life’s work becomes the crux of both stories for Zafón has created a mystery within a mystery. You find yourself fearing and rooting for these people whose lives have overlapped and doubled-back from the story of the novel to the story within it. Daniel’s persistence in removing the veil of secrecy surrounding Carax’s life and death bring him closer to the truth, but his discoveries also align him, ever closer, with the danger.

Shadow of the Wind spans more than a decade of Daniel Sempere’s life and vividly paints the poignant ascension from boy to man during a period in history when life after wartime was difficult at best, and being different, in any sense, was met with swift and brutal retribution. Maybe it’s the magic realism that is woven into the work of the Spanish writer, maybe it’s Zafón’s lyricism, or his long and philosophical view of life that makes this book so exceptional. If you want to be transported, if you want to read a book that feels like talking to an old friend, read Shadow of the Wind. Your soul will grow, and glow, and sing.

pjlazos 5.21.17

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