Caretakers of the Earth

As a member of the Middle Generation, most of my blogs involve stories about people- both older and younger than me. Today, however, I would like to point out that the Middle Generation is also responsible for taking care of our planet. We are the bridge between what was left to us by our parents and grandparents and what we leave to our children and grandchildren.

We may think our actions do not make a difference, but I saw something this afternoon that gives me hope…

Several years ago, the plight of the Monarch butterflies became a national interest. Their disrupted migration patterns and disappearance from their regular habitats  were showcased in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior”- which gave readers the beautiful image of what a wonder these creatures are!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly

Shortly after reading the book, which consequently spurred multiple discussions and pleas for help in the news, I decided to take a small step and see if I could help save the Monarchs from extinction.

One of the trails in my neighborhood is a host site for Milkweed- the native food supply for Monarchs. I transplanted several roots into my garden in the hopes that I could attract the precious butterflies. Each year, the plants spread and produced more roots. This June, I saw beautiful flowers on them for the first time! Sadly though, even with the flowers in peak season, not a single Monarch came to drink. I was sitting on my deck a week ago, thinking what a shame and that maybe my efforts had been futile. I even considered pulling them all out at the end of the season.

http://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-native-milkweeds-for-monarchs/

 

Miraculously then, it seems, today I spotted a bright orange butterfly- which I can only believe was a Monarch- flitting around amongst my patch of Milkweed! I only saw one- but if she laid her eggs on one of my plants- maybe in a few weeks there could be dozens of caterpillars! And after that, another metamorphosis into fill-blown butterflies!

http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/

I didn’t dare go closer to disturb the process. Maybe in a few days I will check if there are any eggs, but for now you will have to accept these images I found on the web. And until then,  I am hopeful that I may have assisted this majestic species in its survival effort.

I can’t say that saving one butterfly is enough, but if that butterfly reproduces and its offspring reproduces and so on- it could make a difference in the long run. Just think what could happen if everyone was able to save one Monarch?

So my message to you is:  find a cause that you believe in and do your best to support it- whether it is for clean air or water, saving an endangered species or any other aspect of climate change. If we each do our part as caretakers of the earth, we can hopefully leave this world in better condition for the next generations.

UPDATE: 8/5/17

I spotted this caterpillar on the milkweed leaf this afternoon. I verified that it is indeed a Monarch.  The pictures  below show it’s parent laying the eggs a few weeks ago. Now I just hope it makes its way through the chrysalis stage without getting consumed by a predator.

  

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Celebrating Independence

On this beautiful day, July 4th 2017, I am taking a few minutes to reflect on the steps I have recently taken towards independence of a different sort…

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About 2 months ago, my co-workers and I were laid off due to losing our grant funding. It was not completely unexpected, but it still left each of us scrambling to deal with things in different ways. These ways were generally determined by where each of us was in our decades of life. We were all female, but we ranged in ages from our mid 20s to early 50s. Some of us were married or divorced, others were single; some of us had children, but they were between 5 and 20 years old.

One of the youngest of my colleagues, still in her 20s, had the greatest mobility. With nothing holding her down, she packed up and moved to another city before she even had a job lined up. She was fortunate enough that her parents were able to provide some transitional support.
The members in their 30s and 40s were at different stages described above- which determined how quickly they were willing to find new employment. These decisions were largely driven by the need to afford child care and health insurance for their families.
I was one of the oldest employees and was in a unique situation. My husband had retired a few years previously and my kids were almost full-blown adults. While it was convenient that my job had provided health insurance for all of us, it was not a deal breaker to finding my own path.
I did look at a few job possibilities, but I have long had the idea in the back of my mind of forming my own business. Well- what better reason than to give it try- here and now- than due to this upset to my career path? Thus, within a few weeks I filed paperwork for my own company, attended networking events and developed a business plan. In the next few weeks I hope to start contacting clients and setting up programs for this fall.
It may not go as smoothly as it sounds, but I am prepared for the challenges. Besides, knowing that this is completely self-driven and that I have the independence to make my own decisions, is both exciting and liberating!
I may not have had the confidence nor the time and means to do this when I was in my 30s. Now, however, I am ready to take the risks without knowing what the rewards will be. In my mind, it would be more regrettable to have never tried than to have failed. My new-found independence will not be an uphill battle; it will be an adventure!

To borrow from Brainy Quotes “Quote of the Day”

Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
Daniel J. Boorstin

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes_of_the_day.html

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Escape from Reality

I just returned from a week long escape from the ugly and frightening political scene in America. My husband, daughter and I used her “spring break” to travel to Europe! As the days before the trip decreased in number, I became more and more excited about our getaway. We had made plans to fly on Icelandair to Paris (more on that later) with a 2 day stopover in Reykjavik. We left on March 4- right on the cusp of Trump’s ridiculous and unfounded accusation of Obama wiretapping him. Very glad to leave that one behind and fly to one of the more remote areas of the world.

When we disembarked in Keflavik Airport, the temperature was warmer than when we had departed Boston. So much for thinking we were going to “icy cold land”. Granted, we still needed to bundle up because much of the land was covered in layers of snow, but with the sun out it still felt pleasant compared to back home.

The jagged volcanic rocks showed through the fluffy white snow and were in sharp contrast to the lush greenery growing in proximity to the multiple geothermal pools and hot springs. The smell of sulfur in the air and the gurgling sound of the water reminded us to use caution when sticking our hands into it and not get scalded.

We drove many kilometers from the airport to the famed Golden Circle, Geysir

and Gullfoss waterfall

until finally arriving at our hotel in Hvergardi, appropriately named Frost and Fire. All across the land we were impressed by the geography of the mountain passes, the flat plains, the high buttes and the frozen lakes or steaming creeks. Signs of humans were densely concentrated in the city and outlying towns and then only found on random ranches and small settlements as we drove farther out.

 

Something about the majesty of the territory and the sense of what it takes to survive here just seemed so amazing. It made me realize that no matter how in control and powerful we as humans think we are, Mother Earth will do just fine after we have wiped each other out through greed, hate and stupidity.

The plants and animals that can survive in these surroundings will still be around long after humans are extinct. To come to this place is very humbling indeed.

 

Peace!

It is Good to Be a Dog

img_2968  While my mind and emotions are still in turmoil following this week’s presidential election, I find comfort in my canine companion. How great it would be to be my dog for a day! Relaxed and content without a care in the world…

No concerns about when he will get his next nutritious meal. No doubts that he will always be able to snuggle on his bed, warmed by a cozy fire. No consideration that he will not be able to get his medications or see the vet when he needs to. No fears that the beautiful parks and nature preserves where he loves to roam will no longer exist. img_9310

Taking for granted that his day will always be filled with kind, caring people who will continue to shower him with abundant treats. Falling asleep each night to chase dreams about squirrels and waking up in the morning being able to fulfill them.

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Having the expectation that everything will always be the same and there is no reason to assume that anything bad could happen.

It sounds nice, but I suppose it would get a little too routine and boring for us humans after a while. So, instead I will try to tap into some of my dog’s calm and steady reassurance that life goes on, the sun will always come up and a new day is ahead- which will hopefully put me in a better state of mind.

So now, please excuse me, my dog is letting me know that it is time for our daily walk. Who knows what exciting things we will find today!

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(I would like to post this in tribute to all the dogs we have known and loved who bring peace, happiness and a bright outlook to their humans.)

A Peaceful Respite from Politics

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As Election Day grows closer and the negative attacks get uglier, it is time to take a brief respite from my tv and internet.

My husband and I recently purchased 2 13 ft kayaks and have been enjoying paddling on some local ponds and streams.

It seemed like a perfect time for a mini getaway- especially during this high peak foliage season.

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We found a quiet creek to explore where we could smoothly glide along, watching ducks, herons and the occasional turtle.

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The beautiful blue sky was a perfect contrast to the colorful leaves; and the sounds of the cicadas and woodpeckers

reminded us that there are better things to listen to than political ads.

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Peace!

 

Independence Day and Letting Go

It had been 5 weeks since the rescue. The helpless baby had been pried from the mouth of a dog by my son. He had wrapped it in a blanket of grass, cuddled it into an empty planter and frantically driven home for advice.

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We made calls to wildlife rehabilitators because we had been through this before and it had not ended well. Unfortunately, no one answered the phone so we did some quick research online and then drove to Petsmart. It was my day off of work and I was not expecting such drama. However, I knew how important this was to my son and I committed myself to the rescue efforts.

He attempted to feed the injured bunny with a rubber nipple and formula designed for orphaned kittens. Only a few sips were taken so when he wrapped the bunny in a dish towel and placed a space heater near the planter to keep the bunny warm for the night, I did not believe she would see the light of day.

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Shockingly, the next morning the bunny was not in the trough! We searched every nook and cranny of my living/dining rooms and finally found her huddled in a corner under the sofa. Amazingly, the crucial 24 hours passed and extended into days and weeks. My living room showed signs of stray hay on the floor and milk stains on the coffee table. The game of hide-and-seek continued throughout the 5-week period as the bunny was slowly nourished back to health. The containment vessel became larger and deeper with more obstacles to prevent escape until we finally used a 40 gallon blue utility bin with a mesh screen over the top.

My son took his rehabilitation responsibilities seriously. Every morning before school he got up early to feed it carefully warmed formula. Gradually a few sips became 10ml at a time. He supplemented her diet with tender lettuce greens from our garden. It turned out she had a voracious appetite for those and the supply could not keep up with the demand.

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As the bunny grew, she became more intent on escaping and foraging on her own. Finally, my son realized it was time to set her free. He knew he had done everything he could to prepare her for the real world. Now it was up to her to follow her instincts.

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So that evening, we walked down the wooded path along the power lines and released her in an area where we frequently spotted other cottontails. As we watched her hop away, we felt a little regret; but mostly relief that she had made it this far and that all of our efforts had been a success.

I recognized the emotions my son was feeling all too well. I will feel the same way this fall when he leaves home to pursue his interests in college.I know he is looking forward to his freedom and his right to choose his own path. I have gotten him this far (high school graduation was a week ago); now it is up to him.

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My Grandmother’s Cookware

These were the pots that my  mom remembers from her childhood;  filled with delicious soups or stews when she walked home to Clarendon Road on her school lunch break.
Her mom alw20160522_114913ays had something delicious and perfectly prepared for her and her sister every day.
I was helping her sort through belongings stored in the house she was finally ready to put on the market as part of her downsizing. When we unpacked a box in her cedar closet, we found these treasured vessels which seemed overflowing with memories.
We put them aside and kept focused on our work; but later, when we sat down to sip tea and plan our evening, those memories, and the emotions that mom had been burying all day in her determination to get the house ready for sale, came flooding back.
With a voice strained  from choking back tears, she explained that she wanted to cook one more meal in these pots to pay tribute to her mother for all those fond memories of delicious meals.
The proposed menu was not what I would have liked for dinner, but I recognized the need to bring closure to this and that she also needed to do it with a family member. This outdated cookware was the source of her comfort food. So we purchased a nice Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoyed some cheese and crackers while she started the brown rice in her mother’s cast iron, plated pot. Next, she sauteed the chicken tenders in the frying pan  and, lastly, tossed in the snow peas for a balanced meal.
During the course of this process, the rice burned and stuck to the bottom and she realized the handles were hazardously loose. Is it possible that her mother- my grandmother-  had mastered these difficult cooking techniques so that she never burned anything? Or did she compensate in a way that children would never notice?
At any rate,  it was not about the food, it was the company. Ultimately, we shared one last meal which brought a fine conclusion to this honored cookware. We sat at the table with a gorgeous bouquet of lilacs and celebrated all we had accomplished during the day.
Thanks for the wonderful memories!
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themiddlegeneration

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

~Cicero (106 BC- 43 BC)
Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist.

The new year is here, the holidays have passed, the gifts have been received and, for all we know, the world may be coming to an end. I guess this is as good a time as any to talk about gratitude. According to Cicero, gratitude is the root of all other human values. Why, then, does it come more naturally to some than to others? We teach young children to say “please” and “thank you”; but is that really enough to impress upon them the real meaning of appreciation? From the piles of presents mine opened during Christmas, you would have thought there would be nothing but smiles. As adults, we all know to express appreciation whether we love the gift or not; but…

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