Category: Environment


Yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Empire to witness the release of an adolescent eagle back in to the wild.  Despite not having the characteristic coloring of an adult eagle, she was still a beautiful, powerful presence.  A few hundred people were there and we all cheered as the magnificent bird soared skyward.  

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Following the eagle, Erick and I took the girls over to the big lake and collected stones and watched a lone freighter pass quietly in the distance.  The water was a vibrant hue – a turquoise blue.  

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The sun was setting as we left for Boones in Glen Arbor (yum).  And on the way back, I captured my farm at dusk.  The wind turbine moved slowly on a light breeze.  Love that place.  

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The girls were sleepy on the way home.  

And finally, a photo of Grandpa and me at Thanksgiving.

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After 21 months on the campaign trail (longest in history), Barack Obama still inspires.  Please listen to Sen. Obama’s closing arguments (full speech).

The Happening

The girls and I have been sick all week so tonight, Erick rented some movies for us to enjoy.   We watched Monster House with the girls and then after they went to bed, we enjoyed the latest M. Night Shyamalan’s film, The Happening.  Well, it wasn’t exactly “enjoyment” we were experiencing through some truly gruesome death scenes, but I was again thrilled with Shyamalan’s ability to look past the obvious and reach into our deepest sub-conscience for another winning story-line.  

Though a bit rough around the edges, this film makes a firm statement about the state of our planet and offers up the last resort tactic of some truly unexpected antagonists.  Yeah, the neurotoxins were a bit refined on their first attempt, but they accomplish the end-result of so many chemicals we spray without consideration on our lawns, countertops, trees, pets, and in our water each day.  And it’s equally ugly and no less terrifying.  

[And in case you’re wondering, plants really do communicate with other species in a similar way described in the film.]

I prefer this film to Lady in the Water for story-line, but I felt like Zoey’s character really lacked depth in this film, so in terms of acting, Lady wins out.  The Village remains my favorite M. Night film.

Palin’s response to Couric’s direct line of questioning is very tactful, but her record is still frightening.  She is on record (see second video) stating she would support legislation to ban abortion in all cases including rape and incest.  

I really appreciated the incumbent governor’s end comments.  He’s also a Republican, but with a world-view on the issue.  As I’ve said before, I am strongly in support of choice for women, but I can respect the view the pro-life movement takes with exception to legislating that opinion.

I also take exception to an entirely pro-life person legislating cruel forms of areal hunting.  I guess life is only sacred if bundled in the human womb.  When I heard SNL’s Tina Fey remark on areal hunting, I thought it was just a reference to Palin’s hunting record in Alaska, but the joke was on me.

At least both presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama and John McCain voted against horse-slaughter.

Since coming home, we’ve all been busy unpacking, finding documents, getting documents, licenses, registering to vote, etc.  During this busy time, whenever I start to feel a bit stressed, I am able to step out onto the back porch (if home), or look out the window while driving, at some of the most beautiful horizons I’ve ever known.  It is a constant reminder of why we came back even as the temperatures quickly slide to near-freezing.  

In particular, I’ve missed the sound of wind in the trees.  How I love that sound; a song that brings the spirit of the woods to life.  And while in Elk Rapids the other day, I went on a search for wind-chimes – something I’ve missed since selling our house and packing up our old set.  After a number of stores failed to carry the larger style chime, I walked into a newer novelty store in town that looked hopeful.  The woman who greeted me was new to the store and told me she hadn’t seen any chimes, but motioned over to a side door with a sign overhead that read, “Bargin Basement” and said, “You may find them down there.”

I thanked the clerk and began walking down the steep stairs.  The basement was long and narrow and not terribly well-lit.  I stood at the bottom of the stair surveying the numerous articles sent to the seasonal discount bins to wait out the long winters replaced by fluffy white sweaters with sparkly letters spelling out “Elk Rapids, MI.”  The thought had just crossed my mind that I might not easily find a set of wind-chimes amongst so much stuff, when suddenly I heard the sound of chimes coming from one corner of the room.  

As I walked toward the sound, I was startled to find a set of smaller chimes swinging wildly on their own. The clerk began walking down the stairs and I met her at the bottom, “Are you doing that?”  I asked.

She saw the chimes swinging wildly.  “No,” she answered and held her hands out around the swinging pendant to see whether unseen breezes might be at fault.  “No wind,” she confirmed.  We both stared dumfounded and assumed it must be some shift in the building or movement from the nearby street, but secretly I hoped for something more mysterious.  

Today, as I sat wrapped up in a blanket beneath my new set of chimes with little wind to move the heavy pendant, I couldn’t help but move them just a little as I had just stopped the girls from doing moments earlier.  As they made their music, I watched leaves flickering in the forest and and smelled the faint scent of cedar on the air mingling with the rich, earthy swamp smells.  I pushed the pendant again.  

As the sound flattened to inaudible tones, another sound took over.  It began as a hushed low rumble and moved through the swamp in a swarm of leaf-flapping fury until it touched the pendant and spun it along each bold note so they sang in unison.  I actually *giggled* with delight.  What I pixy I’ve become returning to Michigan.

I’m so sick of being treated like a lesser woman because I’m not gainfully employed while working as a mother to three children.  I’m not a SOCCER MOM (what the hell does this mean, really?!), or a STAY AT HOME MOM (I get out of the house plenty to walk the dog, get groceries, a walk in the park, etc.), or UNEMPLOYED (for tax-purposes only – if I were paid for the job I do, I’d be making six-figures), I used to write STUDENT as my profession because I was embarrassed to say MOTHER.  

When you get right down to it, what career is more important than motherhood?  We’re shaping the future.  Of course, I am not going to ask women not to work outside the home, but I would appreciate some RESPECT for the work I do as both a mother and person.  

I mean even those women labeled “soccer moms” whomever you are – I can only picture an AYSO soccer bumper-sticker on the back some mini-van – are individuals first before they fall under some broad-umbrella title.  We all share the same concerns over our children’s future; we all worry about things like global climate change, dental health, schools and education, crime-stats, time and yeah, even stuff like soccer schedules.  

Anyway, I just needed to vent.  I’ve not experienced much of this in Charlotte.  Actually quite the opposite!  A man behind me in line practically balled me out the other day when I apologized for taking too long getting my bags out of his way.  He said, “We should be helping you!  You’re the one balancing six bags of groceries and three children.”  No, I didn’t check for a ring.  🙂

Plastic bags are very difficult to recycle and very few make it to the recycling phase.  Most end up in landfills, or scattered across the country-side and in our waterways where they are ingested by smaller and smaller creatures until there’s a level of petroleum detectable all the way up the food-chain.  SO, the next time asks you whether you prefer paper or plastic, bring them cloth or tell them paper because it’s easily recycled.  Donate bags, if your store will accept them, or encourage a friend to bring his/her own bags when shopping.  It all makes a difference.  

Yesterday, when I asked the Home Economist about going to paper, I learned that this is the first week they are plastic-free!  I spoke with them about bag donation (since I think slowing the purchasing of paper bags (which come from beautiful CO2-absorbing trees) is a good next step).

The house currently under our consideration was built in 1950, though many of the fixtures are remanent of a 1940s style.  I love the door handles and the bathroom tile.  The hardwood floors are in great shape as is much of the original plaster.  There are two fireplaces original to the home and a beautiful, delicate banister descending into a foyer flanked on two sides with two small, inset closets.  

While Erick looks at this house and sees work (I believe he calls it the monstrosity), I (in all my sophistication and love of older homes) recognize the value inherent in preserving a piece of history for future generations to enjoy.  The other day, we were discussing the possibility of getting this home on the historic registry.  Erick scoffed.  After some research this morning into asbestos and lead-paint contamination (oh, the joys of home-ownership), I discovered by chance an article on George W. Bush.  At first I thought someone was trying to uncover the root of his ignorance – perchance caused by exposure to environmental hazards in his youth, but that would only explain Jrs. generation, so I read further.  

Okay that last part is harsh and I owe my discovery to President Bush, or at least his fame or infamy.  You see, Bush’s childhood home was built in 1950 and is now one of the first being considered for a federal history project.  While my own 1950s “monstrosity” may not carry with it the weight of a current president, this declaration of presumed historic relevance sets a precedent for future restoration projects and subsequent tax breaks for home-owners.

This afternoon we drove out to Grandfather Mountain and did some exploration in the rain.  It was a **beautiful** trip and I hope to return sometime soon.  At the peak, Grandfather is over one mile high and there’s a suspension bridge leading to the peak that spans a forty-foot gorge one mile deep!  The girls enjoyed the wildlife – cougars, an eagle, bear, an otter, some deer and a muskrat that crossed the road while we were leaving.  Celli accompanied us and seemed to enjoy the mountain as much, if not more than anyone. 

Driving to the peak was exciting.  Our back wheels slid against the sharp inclines, and our truck was far too big for some of the 180-degree turns, but we managed and made it to the top with time to spare before the storm.

The storm hit hard some time after Hickory and seemed to be firing water and lightning at anything that moved.  In the city, the thunder roared and ricocheted between buildings – like War of the Worlds, only really wet. The rivers were swollen to twice their size – I guess this happens quickly down here.  Everyone drove with their hazards because the water was so deep on the roads and you couldn’t make out the other cars very well.  One of the things I love about this region is the rains storms – they last for hours, unlike Michigan where it seemed we would get bursts of a storm, but they would quickly fizzle (except in the winter when the snow seemed never-ending).  

We’ve enjoyed some fireworks in the city – reminds me so much of Harbor Days back home.  What a wonderful end to such an adventurous trip.  Tomorrow we hope to see the ocean!

Happy holiday everyone!  Have a safe, adventurous weekend.

The girls take a break beneath split-rock – One serious bolder.

Okay, they weren’t really wild like I told my mom.  They were as tame as could be and waiting for hand-outs from visitors.  

Popo and I take a break in the rain for one quick photo 5000+feet in the air.  Photo by Wolfy.

The Mile-high “swinging bridge”

 

The storm was raging by the time we reached Charlotte.  Cars, trucks and motorcyclists especially crowded under overpasses to wait for a clearing.  Visibility was crap and here you can see the hazards on the car ahead of us.  

My favorite stop along 321.  The only truly affordable and fun, hand-made locally shop I’ve found.

I love the drive into the mountains for all of the old farmsteads and homesteads, fruit-stands and the views!

In the heat, Celli cools off by lying on any concrete surface she can find:

This city smells good.  I mean it’s just delicious.  And in total contrast to my high-anxiety mode entered into each time I step into the crowded streets, this week, I feel calm as the scent mimics the effect of lilac or lavender.  Could it be the crepe myrtle in full bloom?