Thursday, September 16, 2010

Puerto Rico

******Sunday, I’m headed back to Puerto Rico for two weeks. I can’t wait! This time, I’m taking live-aboard sailing lessons. Seven days will be instruction with three more days onboard for sightseeing. I’ll spend a couple nights in a hotel, too.
The sailboat will be docked at a marina in Fajardo, near El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest System. I’m planning to make a trip to the neighbor island of Vieques to kayak (at night!) through a “bio bay,” which hosts floating organisms that are bioluminescent and light up in the dark. I also hope to make a trip to Culebra, another of the Spanish Virgin Islands (Puerto Rico’s chain) to do a little snorkeling.
Overall, though, the trip is about sailing. I’ve wanted to learn to sail for ages, so I can charter a boat and sail the Great Lakes. I’m so happy to finally be doing this!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Saturday’s class was in Ludington, a pretty town right on Lake Michigan. One of Ludington’s biggest draws is a car ferry, the SS Badger, which makes the 4-hour trip across the lake to Manitowoc, WI.
In the dune area of Michigan, this area’s coast offers postcard-worthy beach views. The lighthouse in the picture is at the end of a ½ mile pier. This time it was a poignant walk since just last week, a young man was swept off the pier and never found.
As always, the pier was loaded with fishermen, hoping for the big catch. I didn’t see a solitary fish among the huge salmon nets, but they all seemed content just to have a line in the water.
The class went great and I’ll schedule a return trip for the spring!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wild Turkeys

Check out this flock I saw on the way to work this morning! Visible count was 8, but I think there were a few more lurking in the weeds.

Labor Day Weekend

We had a family get-together over Labor Day at my cousins’ cottage. It was so nice to see everyone again!
It was a little breezy, as you can see from the attire. The kids had a great time playing bingo and my cousin nearly cried when I gave her the UofM football tickets.
Aren't holidays wonderful?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stray Cat

This is Goldie. I brought her into the house because she is my last outdoor/garage cat. It will be so nice to stop feeding raccoons, possums and woodchucks while I feed Goldie, even though it means I now have six cats in the house.
Goldie is considerably more resourceful than the five complacent slackers who already lived in the house. Maybe that comes from exposure to the elements and dodging coyote? In two days she has wiggled her way into a 2” x 13” slot in the floor to get into the ductwork,

was yanked out by Sarge, uncovered and entered another 2” x 13” slot in a different room, removed some very sturdy cardboard which covered the access opening to the bathroom plumbing, writhed her way through this

to get down to the crawl space and then managed to escape the crawl space to get outside.
I’ve never had to worry about my tubby felines fitting into these spaces. I guess I’d better caulk up the cracks in the old homestead if I want to keep this one indoors.
I wonder where I’ll find her next?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Agent Orange and the US Economy

Former Senator Alan Simpson is concerned about how much Agent Orange compensation is eating into the federal budget. He recently said that veterans who are collecting disability payments as compensation for their Agent Orange-related conditions are “ . . . not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”

The US Government has been lying about Agent Orange for 48 years. They have lied about what it contained - the known carcinogen dioxin. They have lied about where its use had an impact - the entire country of Vietnam, all of its airspace, off-shore waters and parts of Laos and Cambodia. They have lied about who was responsible for its manufacture - chemical companies followed government specifications to make it. They have lied about when it was used - 1962 – 1971. They have lied about what damage it caused - the list of conditions that Agent Orange has been proven to cause follows:

Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy
AL Amyloidosis
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic B Cell Leukemias
Type 2 Diabetes
Hodkin’s Disease
Ischemic Heart Disease
Multiple Myeloma
Parkinson’s Disease
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
Prostate Cancer
Lung Cancer
Larnyx Cancer
Trachea Cancer
Bronshus Cancer
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Spina Bifida in the children of exposed veterans
Birth Defects in the children of exposed female veterans

None of these maladies made this list without repeated litigation battles. Many vets suffered without assistance before their condition made the list; lots of them died. Many people are still fighting for other associated, but yet-unproven conditions.

An estimated 2.6 million Vietnam veterans were exposed to dioxin-based herbicides while serving the United States in Southeast Asia. To be sure, the use of Agents Orange, Blue, White, Purple, Green and Pink is costing us a staggering amount of money. Thousands of individual and class-action lawsuits have been battled for tiny gains towards the compensation of soldiers who were exposed in the name of democracy. Yet, because the feds lied about it for so long, the majority of these costs have been covered through employer-sponsored health plans, not the Veterans Administration.

Maybe we shouldn’t have sprayed our troops with carcinogens? Maybe we shouldn’t have lied about it, but treated them earlier? Those options may have saved us a few bucks, right? I think the feds will lie about Agent Orange until the last exposed veteran has been buried.

My husband spent 26 months in Vietnam between ’66 and ‘69. He wasn’t drafted, but enlisted. When his service was up, he signed up for a second tour, then a third. He died from lung cancer. Congrats, Mr. Simpson; there’s another one off the VA rolls, eh?

I think the former senator must be bat-shit crazy. But, he’s right about one thing - these guys aren’t helping with the economy. They can’t. They’re too busy dying.

The mission of the US’s Veterans Administration was pledged by Abraham Lincoln: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” This commitment takes more than putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your car.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just An Illusion?

To me, time is a demon, an enemy and a lover. It seems that I have always chased it and it has always eluded me.
I’m searching for a revision to how I perceive time. I’m nowhere near a solution, but I think a clue may lie in the way that people bemoan time that isn’t “theirs.” We count down until 5:00, detest Mondays and can’t wait for Friday. This view concerns me, because it makes my time at work “lost time.” I’m starting to find this a very ineffective view, although I understand it. Like it or not, a day at work is 8 hours that I don’t have to get the lawn mowed. So, how to stop robbing myself of that time?
I don’t know where my time goes. When I attended physical classes, I met people who worked, went to school and raised a family! I really can’t imagine how parents do it! I know that my childless status allows me much more time than people with kids, yet I still don’t seem to have any of it. I am in awe of folks who claim to be bored – who has time to be bored??
Maybe I plan too much of my time. It seems that this is a modern phenomenon; my grandma didn’t have every moment of her time planned. I love that she was free for a game (or two or three) of Scrabble when I visited her, even when she wasn’t expecting me.
I admire people who are home and free to chat when visitors drop in on them. The only time I read for fun is when I’m on vacation. I want to be able to host card parties with my friends. I would like to have Mom and Sarge down for dinner more often.
But, there are lawns to mow and errands to run and I’m out of cat litter and the car is overdue for a lube & oil and blah, blah, blah. Besides trying to find time for these necessities, I’d like to volunteer for Save-A-Pet, join the Rotary, and hike Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Ironically, I have time to blog. Hmmm . . .
It will come to me; I just need time (there’s irony for ya!) to mull it over. I have to find a way to better manage my time, because, at this point, it’s managing me. It’s crazy and I resent it, as much as I know that I created it myself. I don’t want to do this anymore!