In Honor of Earth Day 2017, #amreading

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)

This is a grrrreat children’s book which gives a clear picture of the difficulties faced, through spare illustrations that evoke the truly epic nature of Shackleton’s journey.

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There’s a quote from Roald Amundsen on the publication information page:

  • No man fails who sets an example of high courage, of unbroken resolution, of unshrinking endurance.

— Roald Amundsen

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Self absolutely loves it.

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Stay tuned.

Earth Day, April 2017

Share an image that means ‘earth’ to you — whether it’s a panorama of a landscape that takes your breath away, a close-up revealing a detail in nature, or another scene that honors the outdoors . . .

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

Went for a long walk this morning, in honor of Earth Day. It was peaceful and beautiful by the lake. Here are some pictures:

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The first swan she’s seen at the lake this year!

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More flowers popping up all over!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Earth: In Celebration of, April 2017

The Daily Post reminds us that Earth Day is April 22.

Here are self’s shots celebrating Earth:

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Hills Above Annaghmakerrig Lake, April 2017

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Annagmakerrig Lake, March 2017

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Afternoon Train to Hull, First Week of March 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SYMBOL: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is SYMBOL.

As The Daily Post states: “Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable.”

Here are a couple of symbols:

June 17, 2015, Action for Addressing Climate Change, South Bank, London: Groups from all over England came to speak to their MPs. Self was with Joan McGavin, from Southampton. Was lovely to see this red heart instead of the usual placards:

London, South Bank, Wednesday June 17, 2015

London, South Bank, Wednesday June 17, 2015

Next: On a pilgrimage to find Shadowhaunter haunts around London (You haven’t been following this blog very long if you don’t understand “Shadowhunters” LOL), self lands on Fleet Street, the street where all the English papers used to have their main offices:

Fleet Street, the Street of Journalists (Just steps away is St. Bride's, where there's a moving tribute to Foreign Correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in Hom, Syria, 2012)

Fleet Street, the Street of Journalists (Just steps away is St. Bride’s, where there’s a moving tribute to Foreign Correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in Hom, Syria, 2012)

Inside the Church of St. Bride’s, the walls are lined with photographs representing the Stations of the Cross:

Station of the Cross, St. Bride's Church, off Fleet Street, London

Station of the Cross, St. Bride’s Church, off Fleet Street, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cover Art: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge is COVER ART.  Say what? When self first saw the prompt, she had no idea what kinds of things to post.

The prompt reads, in part:

Post “examples of cover art that uses photography to convey a mood and to suggest what we might find in the work itself.  They have a quality that echoes a particular character . . . “

All right, then.  For the past few years, self has been writing a novel whose working title is The Vanquished.

It’s about the Philippines during World War II, and is set on Dear Departed Dad’s home island of Negros.

Since it’s still in progress, self is jumping way ahead of herself here, but she’ll just go ahead and scan photos that might serve as possible cover art.  Below are two.

The third photo reflects a theme of a short story she wrote called “The Freeze.”

The porch of the Gaston House, just before Manapla, Negros Occidental

The porch of the Gaston House, just before Manapla, Negros Occidental

Self found herself paying more attention to the interior of the Church of San Isidro Labrador (Lassi)

Interior of the Church of San Isidro Labrador, in the town of Lassi, on the Island of Siquijor

Self’s short story about the coming of a new Ice Age is called the Freeze.  It begins:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

The Grounds of Hawthornden, southern Scotland

A Wood in Southern Scotland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

California’s Drought, 2014

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 25, 2014:

California is pumping itself dry.  As the drought deepens, desperate farmers are turning to groundwater, using the supply at nearly double the normal rate. It’s a short-sighted practice that needs thought and planning, not the open-tap treatment groundwater now gets.

*     *     *

In ever-watchful California, groundwater is an oddity, unmetered and uncontrolled, with landowners free to pump without limit.  This is the only state to take such a laissez-faire attitude, a vestige of the Gold Rush era.

As the drought heads into its third year, the policy is a disaster. Groundwater now accounts for 60 percent of the water usage, up from 40 percent. Well drillers are among the busiest workers in farm country, as agriculture pushes ever deeper to supplemental supplies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Attacking the Pile of Stuff: The New Yorker of Dec. 2, 2013

From the Talk of the Town, p. 24:

In Warsaw, the other week, a Filipino diplomat sobbed while addressing the U.N. climate summit; he had family in the typhoon-ravaged country.  “We may have ratified our own doom,” he said, alluding to the slow pace of negotiations for curbing international emissions.  He announced that he was starting a hunger strike, for the duration of the summit, and was given a standing ovation.

From Ian Johnson’s “In the Air,” an account of “China’s most polluted cities”:

Handan is a city “two hundred and fifty miles southwest of Beijing” with “an urban core of 1.4 million inhabitants . . .  It abuts the Tailing mountains” which, “thanks to rich deposits of coal and iron ore,” have made the region “one of the world’s great centers of steel production . . .  One of the provinces that border the Taihang range . . .  accounts for ten per cent of the world’s output.” The locals grow vegetables under the smoke billowing from factories.  It’s one of the dirtiest environments in the world.

There’s a poem by Mary Jo Bang that self really likes:

All Through the Night

The rotational earth, the resting for seconds:

hemisphere one meets hemisphere two,
thoughts twist apart at the center seam.
Everything inside is,
Cyndi Lauper and I both fall into pure emptiness.
That’s one way to think: I think I am right now.
We have no past we won’t reach back —
The clock ticks like the nails of a foiled dog
chasing a faster rabbit across a glass expanse.

The Annals of Law essay, by Rachel Aviv, concerns the way Social Service agencies have made a deliberate choice “to err on the side of overreaction, because the alternative could be devastating.  Social workers recognize that if they recommend returning a child to a deadly home “it will be a career ender.”  Thus, they “choose a knowable tragedy, the separation of a parent and child, in order to prevent an unknowable one.”

Heartbreak, right there.  The article focuses on a mother, a Kuwaiti immigrant named Niveen, who’s been accused of child neglect.  Her three-year-old son, Adam, who was in Montessori pre-school, fell and “his tooth came loose, making it painful to chew.”  Naveen took several days off from work to feed him herself.  After missing several days, her boss says, “With you it’s always something.”  Here’s the rest of that paragraph:

Then she imagined the way her boss would look at her the next time she came, and felt suddenly ashamed.  She got up, brushed her teeth, put some snacks in a ziploc bag, gave them to Adam, and left the house.  “It was mechanical —  I wasn’t thinking anymore,” she said.  “Things were upside down, but I kept everything to myself.  I was just trying to survive.”

Her son “had been alone for ninety minutes when police officers arrived . . . ” It’s a gripping article (as almost all The New Yorker Annals of Law articles have been), one that really tries to see things from the mother’s point of view.

Stay tuned.

www.treehugger.com

Self wrote a short short of speculative fiction called “The Forest” and has been getting some nice rejections, like one from The Chattahoochee Review that said they liked the voice.

That’s something.  It’s a strange story.  About twin boys who keep lobbing tennis balls into the narrator’s backyard.  One day he decides to talk to them so . . .

Self decided to do some research on saving the huge stands of trees that once grew all over the California coast.  Believe it or not, dear blog readers, this is connected to the story.  Thank God for Google.

On treehugger.com, she found a list called:  5 FOODS YOU SHOULDN’T EAT IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

And the first thing on the list is self’s own favorite food to ingest:  COFFEE.

But, it’s OK to ingest “shade-grown, organic coffee.”  Coffee is really a shade plant, and self knows this because, in the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, self saw a coffee plant.  In fact, here’s a picture:

Arabica Coffee Plant, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Arabica Coffee Plant, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

But according to treehugger.com, “many farmers now grow it in full sunlight, with a heavy dependence on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers.  They also chop down rainforests, destroying bird habitats.”

Next on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD is:  FACTORY-FARMED BEEF.

“Cheap burgers are environmental assassins,” says Logan Strenchock (What a name.  Almost as bad as Plutarch Heavensbee), “Central European University’s sustainability officer.” And self has super-high cholesterol so she really shouldn’t be eating beef anyway.

Third on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  PALM OIL.

According to the article, which by the way was written by Katherine Martinko and posted on the day before Valentine’s Day, “Palm oil is used in half of all packaged food sold in the U.S., particularly cookies, crackers, and soups.  Palm oil is the largest cause of rainforest destruction, resulting in huge swaths of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests being bulldozed in order to plant palm oil trees.”

Fourth on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  BLUE-FIN TUNA.

“Bluefin is a popular choice at high-end sushi restaurants, but their numbers in the oceans are dropping fast.”  There’s a link to an article on Japan’s insistence that the fish isn’t endangered.

The final item on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN.

“It kills bees, reduces biodiversity, drives heirloom crops to extinction, and requires excessive processing to transform it into high-fructose corn syrup, another ingredient found in processed foods (which should be avoided anyway because they contain palm oil).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Montana State University: Wallace Stegner Distinguished Chair in Western American Studies

Montana State University – Bozeman is inviting Senior faculty and public intellectuals to apply for the Wallace Stegner Distinguished Chair in Western American Studies for the 2014- 2015 academic year.

Submit CV and letter of interest to:

stegner@montana.edu

The Chair is expected to work in residence on her/his research project and share in the intellectual community of the department.

Go here for more information.

Deadline:  Dec. 15, 2013

And Now, Wolves

Note:  The following excerpt contains graphic material.

“Wolves to Slaughter” in July/August 2012 issue of Utne Reader (The article originally appeared in The American Prospect)

In April 2001, a U.S. government wildlife trapper named Carter Niemeyer choppered into the mountains of central Idaho to slaughter a pack of wolves whose alpha female was famed for her whiteness.  He hung from the open door of the craft with a semiautomatic shotgun, the helicopter racing over the treetops.  Then, in a clearing, Niemeyer caught a glimpse of her platinum fur.  Among wolf lovers in Idaho, she was called Alabaster, and she was considered a marvel — most wolves are black or brown or gray.  People all over the world had praised Alabaster, had written about her, had longed to see her in the flesh.  Livestock ranchers in central Idaho, whose sheep and cows graze in wolf country, felt otherwise.  They claimed Alabaster and her pack —  known as the Whitehawks — threatened the survival of their herds, which in turn threatened the rural economy of the high country.  She had to be exterminated.

When Alabaster appeared in Niemeyer’s sights, a hundred feet below the helicopter, her ears recoiled from the noise and the rotor wash, but she was not afraid.  She labored slowly along a ridge, looking, Niemeyer says, “like something out of a fairy tale.”

Then he shot her.  At the time, wolves were considered a rare species in Idaho and across the Northern Rockies, and they were protected under the Endangered Species Act.  But they could be targeted for “lethal control” if they made trouble —  if they threatened a human being, which almost never happened, or, more commonly, if they were implicated in attacking cattle and sheep.

(P.S.  Self couldn’t stand the graphic material.  She ended the quote just before, so she wouldn’t have to read it again)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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