Fungus · Musings · Nature

Global Climate Change

One of my close friends is a researcher in the field of plant biology and biofuels.  She has been attending conferences this year on the subject of global climate change.  The content of this kind of seminar that is probably not ever shown on the news because it doesn’t encourage the kind of fascination and returning viewers of people being murdered on the border of Mexico and the US or an internet romance gone bad when the step mother kills the step child.  This is something that effects not just one family, it affects us all, it is not oh look what happened to them, it is look what is happening to us.  I know, those naysayers who think this is something made up by the liberal media or by scientists who have nothing better to do than scare the crap out of us.  But like the railroad bridge ahead that is too low, the signs are pointing out what is ahead, the flashing lights are blinding our eyes, and the rumble strips are slowing down the vehicle of human destruction but the tractor trailer motors on full speed ahead.

My sister sometimes says that this has happened in the past, that the CO2 levels and temperatures have fluctuated over time and that this is just one such fluctuation.  The researchers are saying that the ice cores are showing twice the levels of CO2 in the ice than in any previous year in history.  Previously the highest was 150 parts per million, now it is 300 parts per million.  As for temperature fluctuations, I forget what my friend said was the proof but that scientists are surmising that the overall average temperatures of the planet have not been this high since its earliest times, while it was still forming.

I know that this woman I work with thought I was crazy when I said that the cities are warmer than the countryside and that I thought that it would make sense that the warmer areas could affect the cooler areas.  A few weeks later I heard someone speaking about the heat island effect, that the rising temperatures of asphalt and concrete and city areas with increased traffic and human bodies actually effects the temperatures of surrounding areas.

(Oh and please forgive my misuses of affect and effect despite a high IQ and mad skills in English I have NEVER been able to sort out the usage of these words.  And I use whom all the time at the right place too, so it is not a global problem in my brain.)

Also I know people like to think of the Earth as a giant system in which people who are so small cannot have a negative impact on.  The say oh the emissions from the cars go into the atmosphere and they dissipate.  The question is to where exactly?  They are added to the overall gases of the air we breathe but they do not disappear.  The ice pack is proof that emissions are not disappearing but instead as the oxygen is used for combustion the empty space where the oxygen was is replaced with CO2.  It does NOT just fly away never to be seen or heard from again.

She told me also that the average snow fall for this area has gone down 1 inch a year for the last 20 years.  I laughed as she said it because we were driving through the Fulton Phoenix snowbelt area and headed to Oswego on the shores of Lake Ontario.  The wind whipped over the lake, and it was powerful and freezing.  Why we have a nuclear plant there and not windmills is beyond my comprehension, but that is a story for another day.  I gestured what about this I said, playing the devil’s advocate.  You know they get more snow now than ever before.  Ah yes said my friend knowing full well what I know.  The lake no longer freezes so the wind whipping over it is picking up moisture and dropping it as snow, but as the temperatures continue to rise the snow will begin to fall as rain.  In fact she said they are saying that our weather will be more like North Carolina’s by the year 2070.  I am thinking to myself:  how exactly is that bad?  But as I am thinking it she is telling me that part of the reason this subject is being discussed in the area of plant biology research is because our area will begin to lose all of it’s maple trees, the apples that grow so readily will probably die unless we develop new varieties, and the grapes that grow in the regions will fare well because we will be able to grow more of the European varieties, I guess our Rieslings will go away to be replaced by Chardonnays.  She said we will be buying Canadian maple syrup and eating the Empire apple from a region north of the border of New York.    Perhaps in Quebec.  (empire is a French word after all).

As we sat at dinner with a group of women who work in a veterinarians office we were discussing global climate change.  They spoke of the extension of the heartworm season.  It already is longer I say, I have to protect my dog from lyme disease carrying ticks all year now, not just in the summer.  That’s true said one of the women.  And I said, my vet has already started to recommend giving heartworm all year because of the freezes and thaws that are happening in every month, not just in January as they once did, which we actually called the January thaw.  It doesn’t exist anymore.  Of course up here in the snow belt they are not yet dealing with that, too much snow the freeze lasts and even when it does thaw the six feet of snow on the ground make hiking about in the woods a little difficult and there is no open water.  I do know my plants geared towards zone 5 which might or might not survive are now living year after year.  I don’t have to dig up my gladiolas every winter.  And here in town, the snow melts to non existent off and on all winter, when once it snowed and never stopped til mid January and then returned until March.

I don’t have solutions, I am an art teacher not a scientist, and sure as heck too honest and too mouthy to be a politician.  Can we at least attempt to mitigate the damage?  I am not sure.  Is change of this nature bad?  Again I am not sure.  It is what it is right?  We will adjust, won’t we?  Or will these changes cause the kind of changes we don’t want, like war, refugees, unwanted infestations of fungus, flooding, tornados, hurricanes, drought?  Yeas we can pretty much count on all of this.  We head onward, hurtling towards our future full blast.  I feel sorry for our children and grandchildren.

Poetry · Uncategorized

Zombie Sheep

The icy wind whips off the lake and despite three layers which includes a warm sweater, I am frozen.

The rivers are overflowing.

I shiver here hands wrapped tightly around my self as the wind whips my hair.

And my eyes water.

I am exhausted.

I have grown tired so very very tired.

I wish I could sleep more than four hours at a time.

I cannot sleep.

I count Zombies instead of sheep.

I count Zombie sheep, in goggles, from the vantage point of my airship.

Norman Rockwell.

How I love you.

But only today, never once before and probably never again.

Tomorrow I will desecrate your memory.

With pleasure.

If I can sleep.

And if I can keep the wind from making my eyes water.

And if I don’t turn into a zombie sheep.



I wake earlier than usual, another late night text.  If I didn’t use my cell phone as an alarm maybe I could remove it from my room.  I find it annoying that this one person cannot respect my need for sleep.  I am awake then for an hour and a half before my alarm goes off.  It is bad enough that I am working way more hours and running around these days more than I would ever choose, and that I already do not sleep well, and now this.

I drive in the dark before dawn and in a pouring rain.  The rivers are swollen and my daughter comments on it as we drive over the high bridges, the edges of the river spilling out and around their usual spot.  The houses along the edge of the river seem to me to be parked precariously close to the rising waters.  I worry about the coming winter, the 170 inches of snow on average a year.  It has rained so much that I am really concerned that the snowfall may be much higher than in previous years.

We drive to this odd community north of Syracuse.  It is a fabricated community.  It is an expensive community.  It is near the large Budweiser Brewery.  A brand new fire station in the middle of nowhere.  A radio station with a high tower  here too.  It is a very strange place, with buildings that look like nursing homes right next to crappy condos.  A doctors office and a fitness center.  My daughter comments  that this is a strange place for a doctors office.  Out here in this strange fake community.  Very strange indeed.


Path Found, Obstacles Ahead

It has been a rough couple weeks for me, some stuff has been happening that seemed to have been well kept and well hidden for some time.  I am beginning to see that I have left my house a disorganized mess for a while and only just now am realizing that some stuff might have started to spoil in the corners.  It also seems to be animal attack week.  I think I have a sign over my head that says, say whatever you want to me, it’s okay.  And sadly only bad things are being said.  See what I said about that moral compass.  I guess I am not pointing true north right now since about four people have really lined me out this week.  It is interesting I guess that out of those four people at least two are trying to manipulate me.  I can see that but on another level I find myself stopping to see if they might hold some truth in their words.  I don’t even know.

My daughter has recurrent Zombie dreams and has all of her life.  I am obsessed these days with Zombies.  Zombies keep coming up for me in many ways.  It started out as a story I am writing, but quickly has turned into people sending me Zombie books, and links, and mentioning Zombies.  I want to know what it means, and think perhaps it is just harmless fun.  But what if Zombies were real.  How would you respond to the imminent invasion of Zombies?  What do you do when Zombies attack?  Are you a runner?  A fighter?  I hider?  A give yourself up to get it over with person?  Where would you go to get away from the Zombies? I am thinking about Zombies what does it mean to have them there?  What could they symbolize in the human psyche?

I have been dreaming alot about hearth fires.  I dream of double fireplaces.  Of lighting and burning fires in old ancestral houses that are chill but the fire I light adds intense warmth.  I have been dreaming that I am tending the fire.  I am worried that the chimney needs cleaning and the fire is one that is not wanting to stay lit, either it is banked poorly or the draft is causing problems or the wood is wet.  At any rate I have the fires lit and am tending them in various rooms of my ancestral house.  I just realized a couple days ago that it was the hearth fire that is key.  This has to be somehow about family and tending to it, and my own ability to light the fire and keep the fires burning.

I am thinking about my daughter and worried too about her.  She is going through a rough spot, and I want her to be okay.  I am afraid that I am messing things up despite my very best efforts at trying to help.  I am at a loss though.  I do not know what to do to help her.  I do not know what to do to support her.  The fire is sputtering, the wind is howling, there are Zombies moaning outside the door and I am not sure what to do to keep the fire lit and to keep the Zombies from coming.  I realized late in the night last night that I do DO need to start getting my butt out of bed on Sundays and return to the Zen Center.  I need to make sure I keep my tinder dry, and that I keep the starter coal burning, and maybe a little flint would help. In the end I find myself realizing that my life is kind of a train wreck.  Pretty much for a really long time.  I am ready for a horse and rider to come over the bend with a couple of spare mounts.  We kind of need to get away from this mess.



Total drivel. Sorry it is so incoherent.

I am really stuck this week on the idea of morality.  Not in the sense of God like or Judeo-Christian morality but in this idea of reward and punishment.  It seems like people choose to do things just to satisfy themselves without regard to whether it is right or wrong.  There is a certain point when people decide to follow a specific moral code as in the Judeo-Christian model of 10 commandments, and certainly society chooses to place a code of morality on people sometimes in the guise of religion but really it has nothing to do with the ordained word of God (headscarves or mini skirts for example).  I find it odd that when I think of moral codes of behavior they all seem to be geared towards women.  Men are pretty much able to dress how they want, don’t have to wear make-up or color or alter the curliness or straightness of their hair.  Some do choose to do this perhaps the metro-sexual.  But at least in the USA women are expected to alter their appearance for the pleasure of men.  Which by the way I think is kind of sad, but here I sit barely able to see because contacts make me look more pretty than my thick glasses, mascara enhances the length of my eyelashes, foundation makes my skin less red, properly shaved legs and tightly squeezed into a Spanx which makes me look thinner.  Not that any man is looking (she said bitterly).

I think on how it is to be the person I am.  When I was little I got in some pretty big trouble over some things that my brother did just for that purpose.  I was punished for things I did not actually do.  I am really over it on a pain level, but I think it altered how I view punishment.  It doesn’t really work on me.  Later the relentless teasing at school made me not really concerned about what others comments might be towards me.  It has taken a long time to get here but I realized that I am a good person no matter what people may say about me.  When people stand in judgment of me and want me to change the way I dress or the color of my hair, or how I carry myself I now find myself asking what is in it for me to change?  Is it for MY benefit or is it for someone else’ s benefit? Criticism and someone pointing out what I have done wrong only makes me resentful and angry, particularly if it is someone else’s judgment of what they think is right or wrong.  I have learned to be my own judge of correctness.  And I would say that most of the time I have it right.

I am finding that words mean absolutely nothing to me any more.  It is actions that speak to me.  It is action that tells me the truth.  Words carry nothing but lies, manipulations, criticism, and praise but for what?  Why would I listen to praise when I know it may well be an attempt to manipulate me once again into doing something for someone else.  I am not a selfish person, but I realize now at this late date in my life that most people are.  Why is it my responsibility to meet someone else’s needs?  Only my child can ask that of me.  And since she is a grown adult at some point she will begin to meet her own.  IF you want to tell me something, show me.  Tell me with your body being in close proximity to me, tell me with the change of your actions so that I can see the truth.  If you tell me I I will listen, but I will not believe until you show me. I am seeing pretty clearly despite these miserable contact lenses, and the manipulation of words won’t work on me.  But do people actually believe the lies they tell?  Do they realized that lies are manipulations?  Why do we value honesty?  And in the end are any of our politicians actually speaking any kind of truth? I told a class yesterday not to trust what they saw on the internet or what they heard on TV, one asked, not even the news?  I said no not even the news.  Really there is no trustworthy source of information out there anywhere.   I find that I cannot trust anything anyone says unless they have solidly proven to me that what they say is true, and even then, I have learned, even then an accomplished liar can deceive.

What of morality as far as sex and the female role in our society?  One day a coworker went on and on about how single parents are ruining the world.  I was quiet until about the last 5 minutes of the class, and then I quietly told her that I had been a single parent for my daughters life, and even in marriage raised her with little help.  I told her my daughter was 6th in her class, and a well behaved and decent person.  I told her quietly that her judgment of single parents was a prejudice and she might want to rethink it.  I have to say in retrospect, I am not sure women actually need a man to raise children especially as I look at all the men who do whatever they want without regard for their families, their children or their wives.

I also think about the Earth.  I want to preserve it and take care of it, and treat it as a steward, others see dominion (dominance and destruction) as the proper way.  The whole global climate change debate ultimately ties into this idea that some have that it is our God given right to use resources until they are gone.  I once had a Jehovah’s Witness tell me he is using every thing he can because it is God’s will that the Earth should come to an end and we will all be called up into the Kingdom of Heaven.  The oil companies and those organizations whose main goal is to get as much profit as they can with as little expenditure as possible willfully destroy our planet in the name of progress.  I find it morally reprehensible but do they?  Obviously their morals say money is more important.

I realize as I am writing this and then later thinking about it, that the issue has to come up:  How do you know when your moral compass is pointing in the right direction?  I have no answers, I am pretty sure that in general mine does, I don’t really want to delve too deeply into what I believe because I want to understand what is the thing that makes me believe I am right where others may be wrong (the gay rights vs. gays are abominations argument for example).  How do you know your moral compass points in the right direction?  How do you begin to recognize that perhaps your values are not right? Most people choose to do the “right” thing out of fear of judgment, or punishment.  Some do the right thing regardless of punishment, just as others do whatever they want regardless of the consequences.  The question I have is this, is there anyway to get us all to agree on some basic morality, some basic concepts of what is right? Can we all agree that lying, cheating, stealing and causing harm to others to get what you want is okay?  And if not why not?  And another question is this:  why do so many cultures call for male domination?  What right do men have to dictate to women what they should do or not do?  How they should look, what they should wear?  Why do women do what men tell them to do?  When did someone decide that a woman getting pregnant, giving birth and raising the child on her own is somehow a sin against God?  Why do some people want to preserve and protect the Earth while others just want to use her up until it is gone?  Why do some people feel that lies are acceptable and others think the truth no matter how painful is more important than whatever your lie protects?

And in the end will humans ever get it right?  Will we just muddle through until the Earth is gone?

Musings · Nature · New York State Parks · Photos

Autumn Light

It is not a typically beautiful day.  It is the kind of day that not everyone can appreciate.  It is chilly, damp and there is a chill breeze.  The sky is grey and overcast.  A partly sunny day.  As I begin my walk the breeze releases leaves that float down from the high branches to the path ahead of me.  The limestone is wet from the rain earlier this week and in places the leaves are slick on the stony path.  I stop and look across the gorge to the trees along the other rim, it seems that they have their own light in this grey day.  Like nature’s neon the colors pulse against my eyes.  I look up as a dark buzzard floats just above the tree tops, and listen as the geese call out to one another in the full lake below.  We take the over used path and finish it quickly, turning to go back into the back areas of the park.  I take off the dog’s leash thinking for only a moment of the recent tickets issued in another state park for unleashed dogs.  Despite my fear we see no one which is why I had released him to begin with.  Most people take the other trail down to the lake, or along the cliff edge.  I would just as soon walk quietly here in the woods with the path strewn with red and gold leaves, like a “red carpet” but for a person who is not concerned about being on a best dressed list.  My gems consist of only the pearls of my soul, and the ruby red of my heart, the diamonds of my integrity.  I stop to take a picture and the dog stops too, to sniff.  I wonder if later he will take out the smell and admire it as I do the picture I am taking.  I wonder if the smells shine inside his nose as the breaking sun and brilliant leaves shine inside my eyes.  It feels good to walk, I decide to call today giant leaf day as I see many huge leaves scattered here and there upon the normal sized ones.  I become lost in my thoughts, for once not the painful ones, but instead of the obligation to speak to someone whom I share my deepest secrets with, but with whom I have no desire to speak to.  I stop at the top of Pulpit Rock and I say I will not thank God today because I have been praying here for a year and still I think my prayers are unanswered.  Instead I thank the park for getting me through this last year.  It was the shining golden light of my heart.  As I finish my big loop and am walking over the slick wooden bridge, I stop to listen to the water falling over the limestone,  I wonder where this stream goes to because it stops and does not continue.  I also think about the dry lake here that is often full one day and truly dry the next.  I think there must be a huge underground lake here, I can explain it no other way.    I am looking forward to the snow this winter.  I have mapped out my path a limestone free walk that will be good for snowshoes.  As I drive home I notice a sign that I have seen many times before, but suddenly it registers in my brain.  A labyrinth and mediation area.  Oh I have been wanting to do some thing like this for such a long time.  Isn’t if funny how I drive by here three days a week and I never really read the sign.  Isn’t it funny how very close to home it is too.

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Healthy Eating · Musings · Nature · Photos

Bhutanese Cultural Festival

Orange and Green Maple in Autumn

It was a crisp and cold fall morning.  The rain had stopped and although the leaves were still wet the asphalt was dry, except for the large puddles that dotted our rough and uneven parking lots.  A hazard of cold winters and hot humid summers, the melt and freeze that takes place from November to January and then again from February to April.  I went to the farmers market and bought a big container of honey for baking (trying to switch back to my pre-child diet of no refined sugars (ha wish me luck), some macoun apples (my favorite) some big white potatoes for baking, celery, leeks, free range brown eggs, and three bottles of Treleaven wine.  Two sweet ones for my sis and friend, and one just for me.  I was waiting on a friend to go to the Bhutanese Cultural Festival but I was ready early and went alone.  Everyone was so friendly.  I also tasted some Nepali food which reminded me of North Indian food.  One dish was called aloo, which I have come to know as curried potatoes at my favorite Indian restaurant.  I also had Roti a fried ring that looked like onion rings but tasted completely unlike anything I have ever had.  Delicious.  Then I bathed the dog, and went to an art show my friend was in.  I came home and the grey skies had turned to sunny with a brisk cold wind.  I lit a fire and sewed contentedly four little key chains.  One of my co workers had requested one just like mine.  Off now to put in my three remaining storm windows and make some dinner.  I have a baby sweater to knit.  It’s completion is needed, baby is imminent.  A happy day.

Key Chain Dolls

Crow Autumn

The crows sit on rooftops and power lines, cawing out loudly.  They fly over head dancing even in the Nor’easter rain that pummels us, flooding streams, ponds, creeks (cricks) and roadways (and perhaps a basement or too).  I reflect on things that have been really bothering me lately and suddenly while thinking about something different a solution comes to me.  It is all about me and what I choose to do.  I can choose to take all that negativity and criticism inside me and let it hurt, or I can turn it around.  When a friend next acts critical of my parenting skills I will tell her, I would rather have your support at this time than your criticism.  When another person rudely pokes me seemingly to goad me into improvement (really is like an off button for me but nonetheless continues to poke, and furthermore while the off button has been pressed the steam begins to add pressure to some valves)  I will say, I would rather you tell me that it is good to see how far I have come than to tell me that I still have so far to go.  When that one person goes on and on about how I need to love myself, I will say it would be easier to love myself if your words didn’t make me second guess my demeanor.  When that one person says I have no sense of humor I should say, I don’t seem to have that problem with most of the people in my life, why do you think I do with you?

As I feel this desire to run from the people that I know love me and mean well, I find myself realizing it is the shame and the mortification that makes me want to leave.  If I were not so much in love with them, yes you can be in love with people that are not your romantic partner, I would stop speaking to them.  Some you wish you could walk away from forever, because the hole they leave in your heart is so painful, I cannot though.  But what if I didn’t love them so much?  I think of my former husband and realize in some way that is why he will never speak to me again.  It is the shame and mortification.  If he only knew what a long road back it has been for both me and more importantly my daughter it would surely exacerbate his anxious feelings.  And yet still.  He was a part of my daily life for 13 years.  I wish somehow someday we can at least say hello, check in, and try to overcome the emptiness that must exist on some level for the three of us.

The crows tell me stories.  One at a time they call out to me.  I turn to them and cluck at them.  They stop surprised and look at me.  I think of the crow stories they tell of the human who seemed to speak to them.  Perhaps being told not to avianpomorphize humans, we lack all forms of intelligence.

Eating Locally · Recipes

Crabapple Pickles

With the help of my Mom, I finally got around to making the crabapple pickles.  Crab apples are a small hard apple that seems to grow wild just about everywhere in the upstate NY countryside.  According to Wikipedia ( I know I know not always an accurate source) the crabapple is used to help pollinate orchard apples, and at times it is used as a root stock when grafting due to its cold hardiness.  Any way.  This is one of those foods from my childhood that I have never had or heard of in any other place.  My Mom’s cousin was here the other day and told her the crabapples up in Osceola go to waste right on the trees.  No one even knows they make good eating.

Grandma C.’s Crabapple Pickles

7 lbs of crabapples
1 qt vinegar (apple cider vinegar is best)
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs cloves
1 tbs allspice
1 tbs mace or  1 tsp of nutmeg
cook syrup 2 mins.  Add apples and cook slowly so as not to break them open.  Simmer until apples are tender.  Pack in warm jars and seal.  Half a batch made six pints.

I only had about 4 pounds of apples and we were able to halve the recipe.  I understand there is lots of pectin in crabapples and that they make a delicious jelly.  But I have never made it.  Maybe next year.  Although I am not a big meat eater (basically only fish and sometimes chicken these days)  I am thinking a pot roast with crab apple pickles is in order one of these days.  Or some sliced and fried venison would be even better.  I wonder if they would make a good ice wine?

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Oh and it is now November and I just opened my first jar a couple days ago, they are a spicey tart treat, I find myself thinking about different meals I can make that the pickles will go with.  Today it was a plain old boring tuna sammie on wheat bread, the pickles added a lovely zing to the meal.