Animal Rights, Animals, Environment, Faith, Gratitude, History, Nature, Politics

Congratulations

“Then Daniel praised the God of heaven, saying: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for He alone has all wisdom and all power. World events are under His control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom, and scholars their intelligence.” Dan 2:20-21

This morning I turned on the PC, went directly to MSNBC’s website and swallowed my disappointment. My gut was telling me last night, before I turned off the TV (yes, we have TV now; Mom can’t get along without it…), that Donald Trump would be the winner. And, while it is a disappointment, because he has little to no stand on the environment, thinking only with his pocketbook rather than the safety and good health of the people, animals, and our shared planet, I have to concede to God’s wisdom in this and give thanks. We have a new president. And, before I went to bed last night, I prayed only that His wisdom prevail and that whoever He thought would be the better candidate would win.

Astonishingly, to those who know me best, Hillary Clinton was not my first choice of candidates. I have been following Jill Stein of the Green Party, which is just as the name suggests–one concerned with our environment and the very real threat of global warming. However, she did not get my vote. And, I confess, it was a bit of a dilemma all the way up to the ballot box. While I felt she would have been the better choice, I also knew, like our Independent and Libertarian candidates, she wouldn’t even be a consideration in the overall big picture. It is sad, because we really can’t call ourselves a democracy if we narrow our views to the same two parties each election, but that is the way of it. And, as I debated about my decision, knowing that maybe a few more votes might put the Green Party in a better position for later elections, I didn’t want Donald Trump to get into office. I didn’t really want Hillary either but, in my opinion, because she at least she has some sensitivity to the environment, she was the lesser of two evils. My vote went to her only because I wanted it to truly count against Trump and, maybe, just maybe, give Hillary a little more edge over him.

But who am I to question God’s wisdom?

While disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow before 4 a.m. in the morning, I give my heartfelt congratulations to Donald Trump. I don’t really think he’s “evil”, per se. I think he is an intelligent man, even if he lacks the finesse and tactfulness that should be a leading quality in any position of authority. We already have a reputation in many other countries for being greedy, wasteful and arrogant, even as we provide aid and support to many countries, especially in times of crises; before Donald Trump is through we may have to add crude to that list as well. I do think he is a good businessman. He knows how to manage big money, how to handle large debts, how to balance a budget, and he has the strength and courage to make tough decisions where it comes to job creation and the economy. For me, those things are almost as important a concern as the environment, as full-time, decent-paying employment opportunities are few and far between these days. However, I also think, as a businessman, he leads from a corporate perspective, meaning the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots is going to get even wider. No, I don’t expect anyone to be handed anything but I do hope he truly can create more and better-paying jobs so that Americans may stand proud again from having earned those wages. Somehow, though, I think we are going to see longer unemployment lines, and longer lines at our local soup kitchens and food pantries. I hope I’m wrong. If I am, in four years’ time, I’ll eat some humble pie and sing his praises.

In the meantime, I’m sending up prayers for our environment, that his decision to start extracting oil from tar sands and oil shale might change before he is sworn into office in January. I hope that, somehow, he manages to pull his head out of that sand and stop denying this very real threat–not only to America, but to the whole world, and to every living being that shares it with us. As the US currently is responsible for 25%-40% (depends who you ask but it’s a large number either way) of the energy usage in this world, I think we would better serve it–and even ourselves–if we moved to greener energies rather than mining for more petroleum. That’s my personal utopia speaking but I dread the next four years; I dread what they will do to this great planet. Somehow, America the Beautiful is more of a history lesson now than anything else–or it will be once this mining begins.

Last night, before she went to bed, I half-jokingly told Mom that if Donald Trump won the election, we were moving to Canada. Amazingly, she laughed and said, “That’s right!” I doubt she truly meant it but it has been a consideration. However, as our polar ice caps continue to melt, and knowing Donald Trump will likely not use this new authority he’s been given to try to at least help slow it down, moving is not really an option. If they melt, and our oceans rise the 40 feet scientists predict, there will be nowhere safe. And, in the meantime, as our planet continues to heat up at an alarming rate, I’m going to join some of those doomsday preppers. Greater temperatures mean bigger and stronger hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Again, nowhere safe.

And, yes, I am a little ray of sunshine this morning. I told you it was a bitter pill to swallow at such an ungodly hour.

So, a truly heartfelt “Congratulations!” to Donald Trump. Again, despite my fear for the environment, I will not question God’s wisdom in setting you in our highest office. You fought the good fight, maybe a bit down and dirty, but that’s politics. And you won. That’s an accomplishment in itself, for any candidate. To Hillary, an A for effort; you hung in there until the end. As I felt Bill did a decent job in office, I am sure you would have done well, too. And I would have liked to have seen a woman–finally–in our highest office. Just because. Thank you to all our candidates! Maybe our next election will be one of true change–a change in parties; can’t hurt. The last few elections have been more about choosing that “lesser of two evils” rather than a candidate we can truly feel good about. Sad, but true. And, as we begin the march towards that next election, may Donald Trump, and all our political leaders, lead with God’s wisdom and love…for all creatures great and small.

May God bless you & keep you!

Abuse, Alcoholism, Animals, Creativity, Faith, Healing, Homesteading

In Limbo

“Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles…the good man does not escape all troubles–he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.” Psalm 34: 17, 19

I’m struggling. I just can’t seem to make up my mind whether to stay or to go. I’m talking about my property, of course. Northeastern Connecticut is an expensive place to live. I’ve only part-time work. I’m still on mortgage assistance and I would really like to get off of it, which will take either full-time employment or a break where business is concerned. Going deeper into debt is definitely NOT a good thing. But, while I have this assistance, I am grateful for it, for the help that it is providing until I can get my financial feet under me.

And then I wonder why I care when every third day I think about moving.

In the upper right-hand corner (or maybe it’s the left…) of my brain is this little picture. It is a property in Maine, somewhere along the coast. I’ve been painting it on the mural that is slowly taking shape on my office wall. I don’t know if this property really exists or not. And I do know I would likely have to win the lottery to afford it–or any property at this moment. But, deep down inside, there is a large part of me that wants more land, wants the ability to follow all of my dreams. It’s a part of me that wants to shrug off the advice to start with what I have. Yes, I know I can do great things here; the wheels are already in motion to develop this little just-under-an-acre property into a working micro-homestead. But then I hear another 18 wheeler zooming by, just outside my window, and I long for even a tent pitched in the middle of the Maine woods.

Of course, leaving would mean moving away from family and friends. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. It also means that this property will likely become commercial once I leave. As this house is a fixer-upper, any business purchasing the land will likely bulldoze it down. That doesn’t bother me as much as they might pave over–or worse, dig up–the myriad fur- and feather-babies who have been laid to rest here. As I just laid Ariel to rest a week ago today, that really bothers me. And yet, as this area of Connecticut becomes more and more commercial, the noise, the traffic, and the restrictions that come along with it, will also increase.

I feel like now is the time to be taking some action. And I realize that I’m waiting for a “sign”, a sign that may never come. I’m waiting for “perfect” conditions to point me in the “right” direction. I’m looking for guarantees in life. And there aren’t any…except through Him. The only way out of this “rut” of indecision is to make a choice and then follow through with it. If I keep sitting on the fence, I will still be here 10 years from now wondering if I should stay or go. If I finally make a decision, He will allow everything to fall into place. Perhaps by my indecision, my lack of faith and trust, I am standing in the way of one of His miracles.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.” Jer. 29:11-13

Hasn’t the good Lord brought me this far? Why do I doubt? Why does that little girl who was abused and molested, called stupid, and suppressed still doubt her worth? How far reaching are the effects of someone like me who has been affected by another’s drinking? After over 20 years of therapy, fear, doubt, mistrust, and self-esteem issues still ripple through with the effect of a tidal wave, keeping me “stuck”. This is where I must step out in faith. After all those years of therapy, I have the “tools”; it is time and past to finally use them.

Wow.

I feel like I’m looking over the edge of a precipice, one toe inching towards that edge but I’m already feeling that aching “drop” in the pit of my stomach. Feel the fear and do it anyway? No, He won’t let me fall–at least not to go “splat”; if I drop at all, it’ll be to learn something important. Right?

“And the day came when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin

That’s becoming more true by the minute. I know what I want and where I want to go. The bottom of that precipice is a long way down but, maybe that is the key. If rock bottom is so far below, then, as I stand on this precipice of doubt and insecurity, perhaps I’m closer to the top of the world than I have allowed myself to believe. Perhaps that precipice is really a mirage and what’s under my feet is rock solid.

I take a deep breath and glance up at the mural on my wall. It’s not complete yet but the extensive gardens filled with herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers; the sailboats gliding along the water; the Shetland and Border Leicester sheep being herded by the Border collies yet to be; the Angora rabbits waiting to be groomed and sheared; the canoe tied up at my own dock; the goats nibbling at the bottom of an apple tree; the multiple hives full of honey–all of them beckon. And I know it is only a mural if I keep hanging in limbo.

Who cares about the drop if I learn to fly?

May God bless you & keep you!

Animals, Environment, Faith, Nature, Politics

Getting Political

O Kings and rulers of the earth, listen while there is time.” Psalms 2:10

It seems ironic that I should pull this passage out of the Bible this morning as I was researching biblical passages pertaining to the election–or appointment–of a king, or ruler. Would that every candidate this election year take heed in regard to our environment and the very real threat of global warming.

For me, it is all about the environment. And my vote will be won or lost depending on where each candidate stands on environmental concerns. Yes, I know there are other issues. And they are all important. But how productive can one be in an improved job market if we are all dying of cancers and other diseases due to the increased carbon emissions produced by oil shale mining and the pollution of our precious drinking water? And what good is higher education if we continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the destruction of our dear planet, and the life contained therein? Yes, I want to bring our soldiers home. I want to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. But we can do that with the production and implementation of greener energies–energies that respect all life forms and will leave a cleaner, healthier world for future generations to enjoy.

So, a little background on oil shales. Yes, the largest reserves of this fine-grained sedimentary rock are found right here on domestic soil, in places such as Utah, Wyoming and Colorado (McDermott). And that makes it attractive because it will certainly decrease our dependence on that foreign oil. However, while there is a vast store of oil contained in these oil shales, the cost for extracting it far outweighs the benefits. Compared to conventional crude oil, the greenhouse gasses created by oil shale are nearly two times greater, most of them being created during production (Herra). And the Bureau of Land Management states that it would require anywhere from 2.1 to 5.2 barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced. This is water that will no longer be safe for drinking, or even bathing, and such a process will seriously deplete the annual flow of the Colorado White River. This river has been voted one of the most endangered rivers in America (American Rivers). The loss of it would threaten many species of wildlife, as well as the many citizens of Colorado, who depend on it for their drinking water.

There are two potential processes for extracting keragen (the petroleum-like substance found in oil shales). The first involves either open-pit, underground or strip mining to extract the shale. It would then have to be crushed and the oil distilled at temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit or more (Herra). The second is called an “in-situ” process that involves heating the shale underground to liquify it but this is a very untried and untrue method. The former method–mining–has proven time and again to be a hazardous occupation. We use open-pit mines to extract various metal ores, coal and other minerals from the earth. One of the largest of these is in Utah, the Bingham Canyon copper mine. There, enormous “lakes” have formed within the pits from groundwater seepage. These “lakes” are filled with the waste from mining, waste that often includes toxins such as mercury and uranium. Sadly, birds and water fowl are attracted by these “lakes” and lose their lives stopping for a drink, unaware of what’s contained within these waters. And, as groundwater travels underground, these toxins may also seep into nearby farmland, contaminating the soil. Underground mining, like the mining done for coal, has a history of dangerous explosions; cave-ins; with coal, the creation of black lung in the miners who work to extract it; and the emission of carbon dioxide from the many fires and explosions that result from this type of mining. Strip mining involves the removal of mountaintops, with all of the topsoil and earth being pushed down into the valleys below–along with the mercury, cadmium and other toxins. These valleys, along with their homes, farms, cemeteries, forests and streams, are often buried (Cunningham and Cunningham 309, 429). Valley filling has actually been banned in the United States but many of these mines are grandfathered in and continue to operate as usual. Below is a photograph of what land looks like after a strip mining operation moves in.

strip-mining

While beautiful forests and lush greenery surround this scar on the landscape, this strip mine plateau is devoid of life and beauty. The Appalachians are filled with these scars and the ratio of cancer victims in these areas far exceeds the national average (Cunningham & Cunningham).

tar-sands-rupture-arkansas-cropped

The picture above was scanned from a textbook I have entitled: Environmental Science: A Global Concern, 13th Edition by William P. and Mary Ann Cunningham. It shows what happened in 2013 when the Pegasus pipeline ruptured across yards in Mayflower, Arkansas. This is from tar sands, rather than oil shale, but both resources present a greater hazard to our environment than conventional oil drilling (Herro; McDermott). Imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning to find your yard flooded with this smelly, viscous lake of poison. These homes are forever lost, homes where people lived and loved and laughed. People who lost everything that they’ve worked for in life due to our greed and selfishness. Only a fool would trust that this ground, and the water within it, could one day be safe enough to live on/near, the water safe enough to drink again. And what of the beloved pets who also made their homes in this area? Or the wildlife? This is not just birds and squirrels and chipmunks, though they love life, too. Our soil and water are both teaming with life–microscopic life that plays a huge role in cleaning, rejuvenating and aerating our natural resources. What are the chances any of these organisms survived this spill? And, sadly, as water and soil both move, this spill is not contained to this one area in Arkansas. Neighboring towns got to share the wealth. So will mining oil sands and/or shale really be a way to cheaper fuel prices?

And, as I type this, I am reminded of the opening song to the old sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies: “Come listen to my story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed, and then one day he was shooting at some food, and up through the ground came a bubbling crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.” (Flatt & Scruggs) For many of our political leaders, this is the real motivation behind wanting to mine these oil sands and shales–they see the money and power behind it. But they, too, if we allow our vote to allow the progression of this mining campaign, will also feel the effects of these “accidents” in time. I can only hope that whoever is elected to office tomorrow will realize this while there is still time.

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

American Rivers. “Colorado’s White River Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2014”. 9 April 2014. Web. Retrieved from: http://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/colorados-white-river-aong-americas-endangered-rivers-2014.

Cunningham, William P. and Mary Ann Cunningham. Environmental Science: A Global Concern, 13th Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York: 2015.

Flatt, Lester and Earl Scruggs. “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” 26 November 1962. Web. Lyrics retrieved from: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-lyrics-for-the-Beverly-Hillbilly-theme-song

Herro, Alana. “Plenty of Shale, Plenty of Problems”. Eye on Earth, Worldwatch Institute. Web. Retrieved from: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5167

McDermott, Mat. “Fossil Fools Gold: Tar Sands & Oil Shale Eco-Impact Explained”. Treehugger. Web. 12 October 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology-fossil-fools-gold-tar-sands-oil-shale-eco-impact-explained.html

Strip Mining. Photo. Earthjustice. Retrieved from: earthjustice.org/slideshow/images-of-mountaintop-removal-mining.

The Living Bible, Self-Help Edition. Tyndale House Publishers, Illinois: 1971.

Animals, Faith

The Boss Lady Says “Goodbye”

I hate making that decision. But, as I blogged about a couple of weeks’ ago, my Ariel–affectionately christened “The Boss Lady” by Mom–was diagnosed with a mammory tumor last winter (end of Jan/early-Feb). Back then it was only about the size of a marble. As she was rapidly approaching her 16th birthday, I elected to simply keep her comfortable until “that” time. I knew the usual treatment was surgery and, at such a great age, I wasn’t confident she could or would survive it. Not to mention the painful recovery. I did not want her last days on earth to be filled with pain. The vet was in complete accord.

Up until two weeks’ ago, Ariel seemed almost unfazed by the tumor. It grew slowly. And, other than a slight limp that developed as it grew, she stayed active and alert. Eating, drinking, elimination, breathing, etc. were all normal. And then two weeks’ ago, she took a downward turn. The tumor seemed to grow almost overnight. Her weight dropped and she developed a wheeze. It was a Sunday; the vet hospital was closed. The herbalist plied her with an infusion of elecampane root and catnip–the first, to alleviate any congestion (I’ve treated myself successfully of pneumonia with it); the second for pain relief and to help her rest until the doc could be called on Monday…for “that” call.

Or so I thought.

The next day, her almost skeletal frame was back up to the same level of activity. Albeit with a slight decrease in appetite. Mom and I simply fed her smaller meals but more frequently and she seemed to thrive, climbing up and downstairs, jumping on the bed, etc. She slept with me this past Friday and spent Saturday evening curled up on the rug in Mom’s room, watching the younger cats playing.

Sunday she took another turn for the worse, becoming lethargic and refusing to eat. Yesterday I made “that” call. She was scheduled in for “that” appointment for 3 p.m. today; she passed away on her own at 12:30 this morning. The Boss Lady until the end, leaving on her own terms (and His!), surrounded by those she loved and whom loved her. I had just picked her up to place her back on the pet bed she had shifted off of (she kept shifting around, trying to get comfortable) when she suddenly let out a cry, stiffened and then went completely limp in my arms. Though bittersweet, I consider it the sweetest of gifts to have held and petted her as she left.

At times like these, there’s a story about the Rainbow Bridge that circulates. I don’t know if there really is a “Rainbow Bridge”; I hope so. But I do know that I felt her old pals, Mr. Byron V. Bunny, and Gizmo (another bunny) nearby as she passed, as well as my Trooper, who loved her like no other. I hope that her litter mate, Woody, and friend, Megan, were also there to greet her on the other side. I think they were. I think they’re happy to have the Boss Lady with them again. I know I would be. Sixteen years is a great age for a cat but, even were we given sixteen more, it still wouldn’t be enough time together.

I love you, Ariel!

ariel

Ariel Burbank June 2000 – November 2016