Archive for August, 2008

one of those dreams

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

I’ve had prophetic dreams, I’ve had dreams that solve problems, I’ve had lucid dreams, I’ve had a recurring nightmare (at least 100 versions) so Ifind that there are different sorts of dreams with different qualities. And I had a dream the other night that keeps coming back to me, and I feel there is an important message or meaning I’m not getting. Most of my dreams are sort of obvious, helpful, or entertaining. This one has an entirely different feel. It is a sending of some sort, but the message is a bit obscure. But based on how I felt when I woke up from it, and how it keeps coming back with that same feeling — I know there is more to it.

So I’ll write it here, and see if anything further emerges.

I’ve had a few recurring dreams of visiting my grandmother in Seattle. I go to her house and sometimes she is there, sometimes I’m visiting after she has died. Sometimes landmarks are changed, sometimes things are familiar, sometimes I go to other houses on Queen Ann Hill. Sometimes I visit cousins there, sometimes not. I used to visit her every 2-4 years, so these dreams make sense.

In this dream I had visited again, and I recall from the dreams that it had been an OK visit. Nothing special. I felt a little disappointed. I got to the airport on my own, and was paged. They gave me a package that turned out to have been messengered to the airport by my grandmother while I was taking the longer public transport to Sea-Tac. inside the package was her checkbook. No note, nothing but a check book with all the checks there. I guessed that she had decided to pay for my flight home. I was initially happy, then confused about how to write a check from her account, but the airport people seemed to understand and seemed willing to accept this.

i decided this was a positive message of trust and affection. Then as I got more confused about how to use it I was a bit annoyed that she wasn’t clearer in her message (like maybe she could have enclosed a message or instruction?), and left me to do something I wasn’t even sure was legal. I woke up soon after, feel that this was a very ambiguous message that she could have easily made clearly instead. But the feeling of opening the package and seeing the checkbook remains very clear and vivid to me, even days later.

What does this mean?

Maybe I’ll be coming into some money soon with strings attached. But i don’t think it is that simple…


Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I don’t have kids of my own, but I enjoy teaching high school students. I teach 9th grade safety and addictions, and 10th grade sex and nutrition. Last week we did a go ’round at the first faculty meeting of the year, saying what we teach for the new people. I was followed by the economics teacher/administrator and for some reason everyone burst out laughing when he followed me with his subject area. Yeah, it is an interesting set of instructions I get to impart.

But I’m always looking for material and ideas and answers to the question, how to keep these kids safe?

There was a fire in our neighborhood yesterday, great clouds of smoke, lots of damage, about 7 fire trucks and curious neighbors. When the mom said her son accidentally started it, I was immediately thinking about how to use this as a learning opportunity. Well, the answer became pretty obvious with more details – don’t mess around with rocket fuel and lighters in your basement.

While I was there one of the firefighters was treated for not being able to breathe – someone mentioned dehydration. Which makes the whole thing even more disturbing. Seeing the helpers hurting brings out a strong emotion for me. But the 17 year old kid might make a good class speaker.

As I was walking away one of the onlookers commented on the fire and that it could happen to anyone. Well, sort of. That’s my job, to help it not happen to my students and their families. Because yes accidents can and do happen to anyone. But meanwhile there is a lot you can do to decrease the incidence. And with teens, they have the interest and curiousity but lack the brain development to anticipate consequences easily. A dangerous combination that I try and help minimize.

So it may seem obvious to adults to not further adulterate and experiment with fuels and accelerants, and especially not to have a lighter anywhere nearby that you would absentmindedly pick up…. but it just isn’t as clear to teenagers and teenage brains. Bad design. And I don’t know about you, but I still feel badly about some of the stupid things I did as a teenager, and I seem to have been more aware of consequences than most of my peers.

I won’t teach again until February. Plenty of time to find more real life examples of poor choices. Sigh.

just enjoying the internet

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I found this site with some photo/drawing art — very interesting. The lego one is my favorite.

Monty Python’s take on contraception and when life begins was new to me, and it is an enjoyable if strange musical presentation! We need humor for this issue, even if a bit twisted….

And more on scrumping – a new favorite word – harvesting urban fruit. It is catching on. Cool.

And to round this post out thoroughly – how about a site that gives you the energy usage for major appliances? Using this, it became obvious that replacing my 15 year old refrigerator before it dies would not be energy efficient. Nice to know! I didn’t want to do it anyway, but would if it was an obvious choice.

silly cats

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

This video caused me to laugh out loud even when I replayed it and it is just silly.
Hope you like it – well worth a minute of your time to watch — Cats on a Treadmill!!

It was the white one at the very end being held up that really got me.
Dogs on a treadmill? Pretty much a straightforward thing by comparison!

Convention Coverage

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I watched a half hour of FOX “news” this morning — the coverage included the failure of the wooden sustainable room keys, grumbling about having to use bikes because streets are closed off, celebrity sightings and rumors, and then a bizarre premise for an interview with Geraldine Ferraro – is the venue on Thursday night too large and is it more of Obama being too popular?

Umm, I thought the whole point of campaigning was to gain popular support. That FOX can turn this into a negative is brilliant, I have to admit.

That story was followed by a great deal of time spent on Bill Clinton being angry with Obama. They also had expert analysis proving that Bill wants Obama to lose. Hmmm. A quick switch to MSNBC and they have three experts demonstrating that both CLintons are working hard to give concrete reasons why Obama must be elected.

I hate mass media. Really. It is just bizarre. And so not reality.


Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

This morning on the way to a meeting I listened to interviews with Hillary supporters who are at the Democratic Invention. They were interviewed by NPR. My primary response after listening to three or four women talking about their work and feelings and expectations was “are they insane?”

First, I tend to dismiss them because if they are unsure about voting for Obama over McCain then they clearly have not been paying attention. McCain does nothing for reproductive health and freedom. He has done virtually nothing for women’s rights and equality. So even if women’s issues were all you could focus on McCain will be a disaster, promising more devastation to women’s progress and making Bush’s damage even worse. So I have to conclude they supported Hillary for some twisted reasons that no longer translate which is why they’re confused. Logic and information isn’t going to help.

Then there are those talking about only a roll call vote will make them feel acknowledged. Only Hillary getting the credit and recognition she deserves will be fair. One was talking about passing out signs, and getting everyone to scream their lungs out. OK. How does that help? How is that progressive? How does that accomplish anything other than a cathartic release on national television? Please, can we remember the larger picture here?

I’ve been opposed to a Clinton repeat since the very beginning. I am so happy to have a different choice. So while as a feminist I’m thrilled at the avenues she has now opened for women, thrilled at how seriously a woman was accepted, aware of the many new horizons we now have, please — she was a bad candidate, a dreadful dynasty candidate, and she was succumbing to the sticky negative corruption of politics very quickly and obviously.

Her followers are doing great damage, and their whining and insistence that she is somehow still in the running makes them come across as lunatics and spoil sports. Let’s honor her for what she accomplished, she deserves that 100%, and then get over it and elect Obama. That will do more for women’s rights and move us further forward than anything else at this point. It’s done. She lost. Just barely, so let’s ask her to use her significant power and influence to help Obama win. That’s what I hope she focuses on tonight. And these vocal supporters fail my test of feminists and progressives. Their agenda is dangerous and seems blinded as well.

I’m very creeped out by what they have to say. I hope Hillary can say something to help them come to their senses. If tehre is anything real left of her — and she had some very awesome years not too long ago — she has to realize what a distraction and a liabilty these women have become. The stakes are too high not to stop this cold and extract whatever support is possible so that McCain and the continuing Bush legacy is soundly defeated.

Michele Obama

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I fell asleep and missed this speech last night, so I’m glad the whole thing is on Youtube.
My major criticism of the video is the music they played before and after the speech – I actually find it very offensive. The title I’m not certain of bu the lyric is “isn’t she lovely”. Say what? The woman gives a powerful, empowering, thoughtful strong and passionate speech and that’s the background thought? Excuse me while I puke.

Someone should be ripped to pieces for that. But close off the music, and this is a well spent 20 minutes to feel good about what we’ve done to bring this man and his family to this pivotal point in the healing of our country.

I look forward to Thursday when he gives his acceptance speech. I’m having a small gathering on my bed (where the TV is) to watch. I’d invite more but that will be cozy enough I think!

made me laugh

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Love this farcical McCain ad —

He should use it!

A Local Vacation Part 2

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

By the time we made it to Gallup Park we were hot and a bit tired. There was a bit of a headwind, we went around the back side of one of the islands and I tried elderberries for the first time. I had been waiting for months to taste them ripe and it was certainly disappointing. They had a bitter after taste, and were pretty unpleasant raw off the bush. Better as wine and jam I think.

I sampled what turned out to be ailanthus seeds, what an odd odd taste. I haven’t yet checked to see if it is poisonous, it would certainly be an odd spice if it isn’t. I can’t even begin to describe it but it had a long unsettling aftertaste.

We rested for a bit at the park, got water and used the facilities. The whole place is geared towards the rentals – we weren’t especially welcome taking up space on the dock but the guys were also friendly about the message.

Off to Geddes, pretty close by. We passed under US 23 and then did the portage. We ate the rest of the fruit salad and enjoyed the roar of the dam from below The energy changes there, maybe because it is much less commonly canoed, maybe because we were finally out of Ann Arbor after a full day of paddling.

We found a place for the night near Fleming Creek. There was a shelter with benches and a floor and lots of graffiti, a board walk, and a forest floor of ginger, ramps, and poison ivy. While it was certainly mud at any other time of the year, the lack of water that made paddling more difficult made this a perfect camp site. Perhaps a funny note to camp near the sewage treatment plant, but it made sense as far as location!

Dinner was corn on the cob, stir fired veggies, and for desert Gary baked an Apple Pie. Wow. There were a few sprinkles, but nothing significant. The few mosquitoes drove us into the tent, the only difficulty was that it was HOT and it took many hours for some relief.

I spent at least an hour awake in the middle of the night. Strange noises (what could produce such a loud POP!! In the woods at night? I don’t know. But it wasn’t an ax murderer…. And other snaps and wood noises all had me thinking about how we as a culture have gotten so far away from natural living that a pleasant simple night in the woods feels so scary. It just isn’t right, and I’m sorry I lack the ease to camp without some background fear.

We had a lovely morning waking up to the sight of the creek from the tent, and soon had the tent and gear stowed and breakfast (blueberry pancakes) served and eaten. I quizzed Gary on a few of the finer points of the LNT (leave no trace) camping theories and guidelines. Important when you stealth camp, but an increased awareness of my impact on nature seems like a good mindset always.

Gary harvested some ramp seeds, hoping to find new locations for them.

Using tree roots for stairs, we repacked the canoe, got in, and headed back to the river. We were soon paddling along Superior Pond. It was already a hot and sunny day and I asked Gary for the shady side of the river, not always possible. Plus he showed me some unusual houses and buildings as we went, and told stories of the owners and local lore about secret tunnels, defensive outposts, and more. We saw a few lovely homes – a log cabin with a standing seem roof that was enormous was one – and others that had massively stupid mowed lawns and some with the resulting shore erosion, but we got some friendly waves from inside a house at the end of Superior pond. That was nice.

I should insert here that one of the common pieces of trash we saw at all the portages, and along the banks, was the unmistakable blue plastic cartons for worms. Fisherman seem like slobs from the perspective of a canoe. If there was a deposit asked for each of those containers, it would sure clean up the river. An alternative would be to provide worms in biodegradable cardboard, maybe with a bit of wax. It would really help the mess. Who can I suggest it to?

Superior dam was a bit of a longer portage, a lot of rocks making the put out a bit awkward, but an easy put in. We started running into some more shallow water again, but did OK getting around the larger rocks. A few passages were a little clumsy but seemed good to me. We made it to Peninsula Dam, a lovely relic on the left with a tall tower preserved on the right. There was an ugly ropey light green algae on the water surface, which literally stopped the canoe. We had to paddle hard as it built up in the bow of the canoe – we were pulling masses of this material with us until I started breaking it away from the hull.

We put in for the portage, had a lot more pie, and used most of the last of our water. The take out was a nice new dock, the put in was balancing on a bunch of unsteady rocks – I gave up and waded in.

The carp were plentiful throughout the trip, and some jumping right next to the canoe made me jump as well. We passed one shallow ridge in the water and there had been 4 or 5 large carp hanging out right there – it was a fun surprise when they all suddenly jumped and swam away from us. Two feet long carp were common, Gary saw one three feet in length. The river was a bit junkier at this point, car parts, tires, a Ford hood, and we had to watch the rocks.

We made it through the rocks and low water and soon we were gliding in to Riverside Park in downtown Ypsilanti. As we approached the park I first saw flashing police lights, then cascades of water across the river. Multiple fire houses were spewing water in a variety of patterns, there were sirens, and people seemed to be having fun rather than in the midst of some disaster. As we pulled up we could see it was a fire truck gathering on a major scale – antique and present day trucks, kids using the hoses, it was apparently an event put on by the Fire House museum kitty corner to the park.

We wandered around and enjoyed that this was the end of our short urban canoe adventure. Who would have thought we’d be received with cascades of water and literal bells and whistles!!

But it wasn’t the end. With the option of another portage or being picked up, we opted for walking the canoe to Gary’s rental house, about 12 blocks away through the EMU campus. It was after noon, the temperatures were near 90, the humidity was brutal. We had to take a few breaks, but it was fun to finish with flair rather than a simple car ride. Mostly people just got out of our way – me with paddles, and PFDs strapped to my back pack, but I was hiding in the shade provided by Gary with the canoe balanced on his shoulders, and loaded full frame backpack. The best reaction was from a dog coming towards us. He looked uncertain, then a bit mystified, and then cautiously eyed us as he gave us a wide berth. That was funny.

We made it to the van, loaded up and drove back to my house. Just less than 30 hours, a wild wonderful interesting and thoroughly enjoyable vacation from Ann Arbor to Ypsi by way of the sewage plant. Unusual, and highly recommended.

A Local Vacation Part 1

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

This trip began at Delhi Park. My father let us use his car to drive to the park, and then he drove it away. We had a good amount of gear for just one night, and were also loaded with water bottles which added a lot of weight.

The issue of enough water was immediately apparent, the river was low, and running the rapids was mostly avoiding rocks but not any “running”. We finagled a way down through the Delhi rapids, made strange by the bridge being absent, the low water, and the sign in the river warning of “road construction ahead”. It seemed like the construction guys were laughing at us as we went by, we were paying too much attention to finding water to run in to know for sure.

The river was alternately challenging and peaceful as always. Rocks are just so much more of an issue. I am gaining a few instincts to grab the water and move the boat away, but I’m still slow and even though Gary was standing in the back to see the clear way and doing a great job of watching the signatures of the water, we crashed into a few boulders as we maneuvered downstream.

Once we passed through Tubbs Rd. rapids (again too little water to be true rapids) the river opened up and got deeper. We took few minutes to paddle up Honey creek, until we were stopped by overhead branches. The area was filled with blooming plants, and the rarer wide leafed Yellow Dock was one, similar to the narrow leafed curly yellow dock but not as tasty. The time adjacent to Huron River Drive was especially calm and peaceful, until we pulled along side the trucks reconstructing that road. The noise was large and we went by quickly, only to find more at other points further down the river.

We spent time along the far side (Barton Hills Side) of that pond before making the portage. We found a low hanging Staghorn Sumac and picked some fruit, added it to a water bottle for later sumac tea. I know that whole pond and park well. Gary and I had our first date there, walking ice covered paths from Huron River drive to the dock at Barton Pond. It was nice to come into it with him from the river and experience the portage.

The portage was an easy down hill only carry. We had little enough stuff that with Gary carrying his large backpack and canoe, I could grab everything else. There was very little water spilling over the dam. Another slow easy paddle to Argo park, a part of the Huron right here at home and that is totally unknown to me until we saw the backs of the buildings on main street. We were ready for lunch. Fruit salad, potato salad, tempeh salad, and cheese bread rolls I had made the night before. And sumacade.

We carried stuff back to the canoe, and there was a young guy about 17 in the water. I had watched him go in slowly and cautiously, but now he was about 1/3 of the river width away, coming back from the other side, and yelling for help. He said he didn’t think he could make it and could we come out in the boat to help him? He looked more scared than desperate, but he was breathing hard and seemed panicked. Gary asked him quickly was he serious He got an affirmative answer and was immediately in the canoe and paddling quickly to help him. It took a few second before I got into gear, and yelled to the kid to stay where he was, save his energy, and let Gary come to him.

He had enough energy to rest on the canoe briefly and then pull himself in (without any warning to Gary) and collapsed sideways into the boat. He seemed genuinely grateful and embarrassed to have given out, he said he didn’t realize what poor shape he was in. He was in OK enough shape to joke as he got dressed to say that he would give Gary the shirt of his back, but he needed it. Gary suggested he swim with a PFD from now on, and as we left he reminded him to “pay it forward”.

We took the canal above the dam to the portage site. Along the way I spotted Max. H. out on a walk and we stopped to chat. A fast spillway from the canal was a fun thing to see. Once at the put in Gary commented that he hadn’t paddled the stretch from there to the dam, so we went up stream towards the dam looking for the Allen Creeek outlet. We ran into shallow water and rocks before we could get very close, but I could at least see the general location and take a photo. Allen creek runs by my house (underground), so I feel especially connected to that little tributary.

Passing by the hospital through low water near Island Lake Park and finally to the Arb was peaceful and smooth. We were cheered for technique by someone on the shore who had been watching canoes be grounded and walked through the area. I suppose that was part of it and we also had less draw than the aluminum rentals. But having a scout standing in the stern ready to pole to the higher water was a huge asset. We did a fair amount of walking, but only for short 5 foot or slightly more stretches.

Down the river we continued, a few boaters before and after. We rounded a corner and spotted a deer and her two fawns in the middle of the river, she had algae streaming from her mouth so she was obviously snacking on the weeds. The weeds were long lovely streaming strands in many parts of the river, growing with the current and dancing with the water. Very lovely to pass over, unless they also hid a high rock.

She was calm enough to let us come pretty close and take a number of photos. Then they slowly finished the crossing and walked up the bank to hang out on someone’s lawn. We started seeing a lot of Little Green Herons, by the end of the trip we had seen dozens (or else they were keeping up with us?) some very close, many flying, and the call became familiar.

We also passed a number of boat houses that we agreed could be lived in with a fair degree of comfort, Proceeding down the river you see a lot of wealth, perhaps superior pond being on of the most extreme examples of this once we were past Barton Hills.