CLIMATE CHANGE

In keeping with my efforts to monitor the influences climate change is having on our lives, a look at its’ impact globally, shows manifestations in various countries and the lessons that we can learn in an effort to rein in some of these destructive practices. If we are to prevent sea-level rise and reduce the destruction to our environment, we need to take proactive measures now, based on the evidence we have before us.

One example, as exemplified in this recent report, shows that climate change was responsible for Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico. The warm air currents produced by global warming are producing more severe storms as years progress.

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/17/714098828/climate-change-was-the-engine-that-powered-hurricane-marias-devastating-rains

Another example exists in Antartica, which is fast becoming a travel destination for nature lovers and explorers.

https://www.npr.org/2019/01/20/686980898/a-mountaineer-writes-a-firsthand-report-from-the-worlds-melting-glaciers

Photo by Matthis Volquardsen on Pexels.com


The President of the U.S after proposing to drill for oil off the coast of Florida has granted an exemption to Florida.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/10/577064733/after-florida-gets-offshore-drilling-exemption-other-states-ask-for-the-same

Feel free to leave polite comments.


Pause to Remember

Looking out at the Canal flowing past my home, I can see the water as it moves steadily   upstream, taking with it fallen branches and debris captured along the way. 

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Currently there are no pleasure craft, water sport enthusiasts on boogie boards,         kayaks or rowboats; not even the ducks who occasionally risk a ride in these precariously overcrowded waters, for a swim upstream with the larger boats. 

On the stroke of the hour, all the large boats will huddle under the bridge when it’s raised, for access to the Intracoastal waters traveling out to the ocean.  At present all of this activity is temporarily at a standstill, obscured by thoughts which occupy my mind.  Thoughts of someone I didn’t expect to lose so suddenly after a period of extreme suffering and terminal illness.              

How can we cope when confronted with sudden death?

The emotions that follow the loss of a loved one are difficult to accept. But the chaos that results from trying to rationalize an untimely, in this case sudden death just seems to make the grieving more unbearable.  Much has been written about the spiritual and religious aspects at the end of life, with the intent of bringing comfort to those left behind to mourn and deal with sadness.  In the end, all we can be sure of, is that our loved one will never return and we are overcome with unconsolable grief and memories of the times that we shared together. 

 In my case these are happy memories, filled with love, sincere generosity, humor, caring, trust and adventure.  Some were painful for both of us, but we shared them and together we walked that road as well. Looking back, I find no regrets and I’m grateful for the friendship that we had.  Perhaps this is all I can ask! 

And so, the water continues to flow ——-giving me the choice to move forward as it makes its way along the Intracoastal, taking the large boats with it—–or to stay behind and ponder our conversations, our happy memories filled with the funny, caring and sometimes outrageous situations we sometimes encountered.  I decide to linger here a while longer, trying to relive one last time, some of those moments.   For me, they are some of the happiest I will ever know.

Eventually,  I will have to let go of them and move forward with the water, realizing that I can’t return to the past. The past will recall her suffering and that is a chapter I would want to help her close.

 

The lovable Shorebirds

I was looking forward to retirement for several reasons, chief among these being the fact that now I would be able to sleep after the sun came up. For so many years, I awoke well before dawn and watched the sun over my shoulder, as it rose over the horizon in my rearview mirror.  I had to content myself with brief moments of beautiful sunlight as I pulled into the parking lot at work.  This was the only solution to avoid turning a forty-five minute commute into an hour and a half (or longer) bumper-to-bumper, nail biting,  experience that could result in anxiety and a tension hangover that lasted for hours.

Early morning meetings were usually brutal, and those days required special armor. When it snowed overnight, there was no choice but to wait for the snow plough to come along or there could be several accidents, as some drivers would make a bet that Rt.78 on the Jersey roadmap was the newly-designated Autobahn, and tires and brakes were selectively winterized. (You mean cars require maintenance?). Some tension was an  inevitable hazard of the job.

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With total abandon, I prepared myself for my new lifestyle.  Turned my alarm off and went to bed contentedly happy with an anticipatory sleep-in plan.   Unfortunately, that idea was short lived.  At about 5:30 a.m. a bird who built her nest under the eaves of my bedroom roof, decided to give her young ones a wakeup call.  Her staccato tu-tu chirps were answered by their collective high-pitched squeaks.  As adorable as they sounded, I knew that sleep was no longer an option.

I tried to distinguish from the sounds of their individual squeaks,  how many babies there were.  I became magically hypnotized.  It was so much like listening to an orchestra and trying to figure out when the violins would harmonize with the organ or the harp  would add another dimension.  I listened transfixed, until I could no longer discern the differences in their squeaky chirps.  Eventually, their screeching faded and I fell right back into a deep slumber, caressed by their waning birdsong,  which I later learned was a nurturing swallowtail and her young ones.

Here is a video of some birds you might enjoy identifying :

 

My Favorite Greeting

The ancient Chinese would be amazed at how much their original tradition- the New Year’s good will event of sending messages to ward off the wild beast called Nien-  has evolved into what we now know as e-cards. “Nien” was a monster who attacked and killed villagers at the end of each year and the word “nien” was attributed the meaning “year” in Chinese.

Over the years,  the Germans, in the mid 1400s printed expensive New Year greetings and then used paper handmade valentines to exchange Valentine’s Day greetings.  In 1843, Sir Henry Cole of the famous British poetry (Ole King Cole), invented the first Christmas greeting card during Victorian times. His purpose was for those who were financially able to spread word of charitable endeavors through the use of Christmas cards, which were at that time painted individually and hand delivered, making them very expensive to acquire.

Cole became a Commissioner of the Victoria & Albert Museum and used a surplus of money for the improvement of art education and science in the UK.  With so many contacts to send cards to each year, his Christmas  list became unmanageable and it was only helped by the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840 and the advances that were made in the printing press.

Fast forward to today, when Hallmark claims $7 billion annually in retail sales.  It seems that most people prefer to send an e-card online rather than resort to the traditional cards, which require time to purchase, time to maintain street addresses, time to stand on line in the post office to mail them if the postage varies, and then factor in enough time for the card to arrive at its destination for the Holiday.

Now that our culture’s emphasis is on immediate gratification, the internet affords us a way to accomplish all of these tasks in a relatively short time, and to bypass this supply chain, creating a quiet retail revolution of the card business. One that allows more customization since personal pictures can be manipulated into computer graphics to produce the images we want or we can choose from a wide selection of choices online.

We have watched as those who haven’t committed to the new media fell behind, either because of illness or the restrictions of age. Whether it is their lack of interest in computers or their love of the sentimentality that accompanied the old tradition, they will tell you that they “hate looking at a greeting card on a screen” and there is some merit to the fact that there was an element of surprise in receiving a card from a loved one in the mail.  If that person hadn’t been in touch for some time then the card conveyed happy memories, especially if a photo was enclosed adding context to extended relatives in their new environment.

Of course, the physical card could be used as a decorative item afterwards, hung as a garland on the chimney or the Christmas tree.  So these memories lingered where they were visible for a season before they were gone and were not as fleeting as they are now. While the creativity that goes into the design of e-cards defy the senses and improve every year, we only see them when we log on to our computers.

Call me nostalgic! But I will miss those days.  Especially the cards that came from my grandkids.  Freehand drawings of hearts and first letters saying “I love you Grandma!”  Perhaps we’ll be able to one day see a slide show of all the beautiful e-card designs that are now being created, put to music.  I bet somewhere, someone is already coding a program that does exactly this.

 

PARIS -City of good karma

If you visited Paris in 1999 you could have counted yourself among the 83 million tourists who visited that year, and experienced the splendor of its elegant architecture, history and art.

While you dined at the many outdoor cafes, you may have been fortunate enough to find, laying on a table or on the floor –  an octagonal-shaped Seiko ladies watch, which was inadvertently dropped by its owner.  Chances are, after checking around with those nearby, you decided that since it was a lost item and there was only a slight probability that its owner would return to claim it.   You may then have been tempted to say nothing about the item, because acquiring it yourself as a memento of your visit would be a good idea.  But because of its unique shape and the fact that it looked fairly new at that time,  you thought it best to do the honorable thing and turn it over to its rightful owner.

Flashback to the following day, when I happened to be visiting in Paris – one of the thousands who come each day to satisfy a once in a lifetime dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower.  Suddenly, the voice of a gentleman riding a scooter, calls out to get my attention as I leave the Eiffel Tower and head to a restaurant for dinner.

“Madame,” he shouts excitedly ” you left your watch at the restaurant where you dined last night.”  Turning to acknowledge him, I can recall our friendly greeting the previous night and stop for a chat.  This warm French gentleman goes on to remind myself and my partner of the location and name of the cafe where we met the night before.  Phone numbers are exchanged with the intent of getting together again and we make our way back to the cafe where we were the night before.

It was a relief to find the watch, which I had missed earlier in the day, but just assumed that I had temporarily misplaced in the hotel room. Our acquaintance was never heard from again, although we made several attempts to find and reward him.

That watch meant as much to me then as it does to this day.  Not only was it a reward earned for superior job performance, but the significance of finding it after having misplaced it in a city as vast as Paris is a stark phenomenon to me.  The coincidence of having a stranger find me among so many tourists in such a dynamic city speaks to the higher order of life and the good karma that I felt in wonderful Paris and the good nature of people.  Not only should it be called the City of Light. Perhaps it should be the City of Good People.