Friday, October 03, 2008

The VP Debate

So I drew during the debate again. Palin was so distracting with her dopey way of speaking that I ended up scribbling quotes all over the page next to her and writing a lot less next to Biden. In the end I wrote SUBSTANCE under Biden and FIGHT under Palin.
I was angry that I'd left my smaller sketchpad at my studio so I had to start my really nice large new one with a picture of Palin.

The only positive thing I have to say about Sarah Palin is I hope a lot of smart young women and girls are watching her and are just incredulous, their mouths open, eyes narrowed, faces slightly turned as though waiting to hear it's all a joke, thinking "Holy Crap, if that ludicrous woman can be in the White House, certainly I can."

Meanwhile remember they're just the leader. Yeah, I said "just" the leader. Of a whole LOT of people who do much of the actual work. Change can be brought about by you and me. Did you even go to vote for your local politicians? You know those "little elections" that get these people on their way to govern our lives? Have you made your life greener lately? If you're fed up watching the black hole of our economy, the barely hanging on planet, and more, what can you do today? Be the answer.

My friend Tamar explained to one of her sons that the fact that Sarah Palin thinks we can fix global warming without knowing (i.e. admitting) what causes it was like if she kept hitting him in the head with a hammer saying, "I don't know what's causing your headache, but I'll try to fix it." This made a difference. My friend Pete who runs upped the percentage of his profits going to the Obama campaign. Me, for now, I'm taking my 1.5 year old into the woods to play and explore and get in touch with the earth more than she can in my concrete neighborhood, and I'm making plans for how to more efficiently heat my home this winter.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Hear Me on NPR- This weekend

My NPR piece was rescheduled to this weekend:

Listen to me tell the tale of my brother exploring his emotional topography through mud balls this weekend on National Public Radio's show "Living on Earth." You can find when the show is on in your area, or listen to/read it online here.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do Your Part

I hope everyone read or heard Gore's speech today. We're running out of time.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Can't Touch This

Since the question comes up every single summer, here's a reminder. This is poison ivy.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

You, Me, and We

I spend a lot of time considering different perspectives. Most creative activities require this skill. I enjoy managing groups of people into systems that play on the various strengths of individuals as well. And of course marriage requires this skill, and clearly understanding our parents or being parents does. So, as I age I’ve been attempting to expand this ability. I am aware that I am mainly only tolerant of those who share the same intolerances, and I keep trying to change this.

I believe that my key to growth is to comprehend fully that we can share the most intimate times and still our individual experiences of this reality are different. It’s hard to accept this in private, cherished relationships, but it’s obvious when you discuss the past with siblings or become a parent and suddenly have a new gratitude toward your own parents. I try and try to incorporate this into my day-to-day life, but still I struggle. I also harbor a fear that we as a people may need to have a similar reality in order to change our habits in drastic ways right now.

I had all this in mind when Lyra and I went to see the movie In the Shadow of the Moon. I always respect people who gain perspective by going away for a weekend to write, or live abroad, or spend time in serious wilderness, or have walked through serious trauma and emerged anew on the other side. And this movie offered perspective from the handful of people who have actually left the planet entirely and looked at it in its bigger context.

Facing things far out of our control, forces just plain bigger than we are, these are the things that can define our existence, point out our boundaries. People may choose to understand and adapt in different ways, but no matter what, those who look the storm in the eye are typically the people who are more likely to have foresight, who take action without being caught up in self-involved pettiness.

Those who have really lived, really love, really lost, and are still forging their way vividly forward -- well, they just have a different sort of flow. They sometimes turn to an existing construct to explain the chaos, but occasionally they articulate a new one. And sometimes this is what we need to make or save history. Of course I want to know what someone who has stood on alien soil has to say.

Me, I want to float in my big picture perspective, but I often feel dragged down by my baggage. I have a gorgeous, funny, amazing baby, yet I don’t go to sleep sighing happily. I have nightmares, I worry, I mourn losses. And I cannot stop being terrified about her survival, and as a result the speed with which we are destroying our home on the pretty blue marble.

I am looking for a perspective and some extra tolerance to move forward in the face of fear. I need to keep onward when I cannot see the way. I need to accept my life may be a a bit of a rantum scoot, so I may as well do what I can and enjoy it. I need this; my daughter needs this from me. We need balance: we need to accept the ebb and accept the flow of more than just our own lives, whatever direction we end up sailing.

The astronauts in the movie still looked completely wildly moved by their experience 38 years later. One discussed his new devotion to the religion that helped him understand the largeness of his experience, and one considered how fragile the little blue planet looked. But what struck me most was when one of the men described feeling the great vastness of space, and he felt the moon below and the Earth beyond and it was so clear that all of this, including him, was one thing. We are all part of this one thing. And he felt lucky.

This is what I want to hold on to: that together we are whole, and I am lucky to take part. People in my life this year have spoken a lot about the physical and spiritual benefits of expressing gratitude on a regular basis, and perhaps this is the same as accepting our luck.

I am lucky that I am here, I may have experienced a great deal of various kinds of perspective that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, I may struggle every day to grow my pool of tolerance. I may face danger and despair. The balance of the biology we are part of may be aging toward an end. And I do think every one of us must take action. However. despite every terrible thing, every day I am lucky.

Today I am grateful for the cold Saturday afternoons when I spread out my dad’s map of the moon on the living room rug in the sun. I would trace my fingers over the named features on the map and marvel at how we could be so familiar with such a big alien place.

I was one-and-a-half months old when men walked on the moon. I got to grow up with a generation of people who saw the image of our whole planet as one, together in a great flow of space for the first time, before it was a ubiquitous symbol. Maybe that will help us now.

Today I am also grateful for the warm Saturday afternoons when my dad rowed our dinghy The Eagle out to our boat, Tranquility Base, and we sailed to where I couldn’t see anything but blue in all directions.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't Kill My Daughter

Don't help kill my daughter...she's not even born yet. Take some action on global warming. Examine your car choice carefully. Read this Scientific American article on climate change.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Leave No Child Inside

I've been thinking a lot about how to make sure my kid spends time rolling around in the dirt, since I'm living in an overpopulated concrete city. I just read the following quote in an article by Richard Louv in Orion:

Even without corroborating evidence or institutional help, many parents notice significant changes in their children’s stress levels and hyperactivity when they spend time outside. “My son is still on Ritalin, but he’s so much calmer in the outdoors that we’re seriously considering moving to the mountains,” one mother tells me. Could it simply be that he needs more physical activity? “No, he gets that, in sports,” she says. Similarly, the back page of an October issue of San Francisco magazine displays a vivid photograph of a small boy, eyes wide with excitement and joy, leaping and running on a great expanse of California beach, storm clouds and towering waves behind him. A short article explains that the boy was hyperactive, he had been kicked out of his school, and his parents had not known what to do with him—but they had observed how nature engaged and soothed him. So for years they took their son to beaches, forests, dunes, and rivers to let nature do its work.

The photograph was taken in 1907. The boy was Ansel Adams.

Did you grow up when and where it was normal to play outside? Where was your secret or special spot? I had woods behind my house and a river that snaked through them that I spent time by. There was a big dead tree I would knock on as I went down to the water, and typically a flicker would stick its head out and look at me. Beside my house were rocks blown out of the way for the foundation, piled as high as the garage that I played on. Behind the neighbor's house in the woods the boulders were piled so that they made small caves. I wove basket like forts and made secret paths through cat briars. Down the street there was a pond with a second entrance no one used. If you sat on the concrete slab near a run off pipe (I hope it wasn't sewage) there was a big vine of Concord grapes. I had many spots, but these were those most frequented in my daily travels. Where were yours?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sustainable Energy/Building/Health


NESEA's BuildingEnergy07:
The Practice of Sustainability – Building for a Changing Climate
March 13-15, 2007 at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA

BuildingEnergy07 features in-depth workshops and sessions by more than 150 experts on a wide range of topics - climate change in the U.S. and abroad; carbon stabilization; high performance buildings--including green hospitals; adaptive re-use; large scale renewables; daylighting; near net zero energy buildings; wind power; green design; integrated water systems; solar applications; financing green projects; green campuses and institutions; human health issues.... and much more. This year's focus on Climate Change includes a FREE PUBLIC FORUM on Wind Power in the Wild. If you care about sustainability, this is where you belong! For more information visit


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


My friend sent me to these pictures of an albatross that a colleague of hers found on the beach. It had landed or washed ashore in California and looked to have died quite recently. This is interesting not only because something like 19 of the 21 kinds of albatross are nearly extinct, or because it has an 88" wingspan, but because it wears a leg band...from Japan!

Once we had albatross in the Atlantic but they think that a round of global warming submerged their major colonies many years ago. Did you know that that saying about having an albatross around your neck is from the same poem as "Water, water, everywhere/Nor any drop to drink?" It's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." (Coleridge) Most people know that water line but not that it's from a fairly creepy 18th century poem.

You'll also be happy to know you can sing that poem to the tune of Gilligan's Island:

Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung...

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip...

I am full of useless information.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Baby Bat!

We were playing a game by candlelight in an island cabin in northern Maine last night when this squeaking baby bat (about 1" -- that crack is just the space between the fireplace and the flooring) fell from the ceiling. We scooped it gently onto a paper plate and transferred it up on a ledge on the stepped chimney. Suddenly its mom swooped down, scooped him up in her wing like it was a pouch and crawled up the entire chimney that way until she had her baby safely upside down in the rafters again!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Environmental Poetry

My brother has transformed his yard into this amazingly delightful fantasy world. You can stare at a tree aimlessly while walking and suddenly notice some of its branches are in perfect circles, or get to a path and find it guarded by a creature made of old farm equipment before walking beneath leafy arches into the forest. There are pets and other creatures made of various recycled or living objects around the yard, and the lovely, ghostly screen dress made by Stephanie Chubbuck. For more pictures of Cory's world, see the link on the right.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Itty Bitty Boneyard

One of my favorite things looks like a turd.

Worse, it looks like a turd with feathers and fur stuck in it. If I find them on the ground while I'm working as a park ranger, I don't even get to say something educational to the people around because they tend to turn away when they see me picking up what look like turds.

What I like to do next, is to pull them apart with tweezers. These "turds' are owl pellets. Owls can't chew, nor can they dissolve bones with their stomach acids. Their gizzards compact bones and fur and feathers and whatnot into compressed nuggets, then they are conveyed back out to the throat for the owl to expel later. It's like a fur ball, but delivered with less theatrics. The owl just opens it's mouth and drops it out. And the evidence of all the wee rodents and birds an owl ate in a couple hours time is represented in it.

Apparently it is quite common for grade schools to teach kids about owls and their pellets these days, as it is easy to buy pellets rather than find them the old fashioned way. Science companies sell them pre-treated for fur eating moths. and sell 'em. They want your kids to play with turds because it is fun and educational.

Me, I am fascinated by skeletons. I love seeing how the bones fit together. I love the archeological dig feeling of slowly pulling apart a pellet. I'm kind of still a five year old. I had a jewelry idea that requires some tiny bones, so today I spent some time pulling apart some pellets I had in a bag. (What? you don't have a secret owl pellet stash in your house?)

We went to dinner with some friends tonight and I was glad no one asked me what I'd done today.

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