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BLACKSTONE CANAL, SEPTEMBER AFTERNOON

A couple of hundred years of polluting the river nearly killed it. How fortunate for us that nature is resilient. Today, The Blackstone Canal is in recovery but it’s slow. The fish are back, though weather or not it’s safe to eat them is a matter of controversy.

Blackstone river and canal divide

This is the early autumn, mid-September. Barely a breeze. The canal is as smooth as glass and reflects like a mirror.

75-ShadowedCanalGA-HP-1

The Mumford – Part 1- Marilyn Armstrong

Yesterday we were on our way from Uxbridge to Milford.

There’s really only one way to get there from here and that’s by Route 16, one of the original post roads in the valley.

The park along the Mumford River, at the falls.

We drove into town, but when we had to turn onto 16, it was closed. They were repairing the bridge over the Mumford. You really don’t notice the bridge until it’s closed and you have to find another route to wherever. Unlike more urban areas, we don’t have an extensive road system. We have no highways. Most roads, even the most heavily trafficked, are two lanes and none except Rt. 146 are even partially limited access.

Summertime at Mumford Falls.

There are only two seasons in New England: Winter and Road Repair. Road Repair is a long season and lasts from when the snow melts (thus including what we humorously call Spring) and as far into Autumn as the weather allows. Spring, when we have one, is short and is alternately known as “mud season.” If you have small children and/or dogs, you really understand why this is no one’s favorite time of year.

As soon as the snow melts and the weather is warm enough to do something besides play ice hockey or ski, every road in the region is backed up, barely passable as road crews rush to get as much damage repaired as possible before winter comes back.

Weather is erratic in New England. Winter can come as early as October or tease you by not showing up until January or February … or, in some rare years like this past one, not show up at all. But that’s rare indeed. Usually, the only question is how much snow and how cold. And if it will end in February, March or last right through most of April.

There’s never enough time. We may not have a lot of roads, but we do have a lot of weather and the amount of damage resulting from snow, ice and cold is usually more than the towns can fix no matter how early they start.

Editor’s note:  The above was originally posted on July 20, 2012.

 

Marsh and Wetlands – Marilyn Armstrong

Along the river you will find marsh and wetlands. These are the places where the birds feed and breed, where fish lay their eggs, where turtles multiply and come out to sun themselves on the rocks.

Herons, egrets, and other water fowl make their homes here. Humans generally don’t like these areas much. Too many bugs.

Mosquitoes are thick in the air, but they make wonderful food for many of the smaller creatures that live in these areas. Rich with life of all kinds, the wetlands are fed by the same river that flows down from the Worcester hills to the sea at Providence.

The wetlands are beautiful and rich … Just make sure you wear a lot of insect repellent. And bring your camera.

The wetlands and marsh that spreads out along the river are the richest ecological areas in the region and are fragile. Around the valley, because the river so dominates our environment, the wetlands are to be found anywhere and everywhere.

Homeowners get upset when they are told they aren’t allowed to build on areas of their own land because it’s protected wetlands … especially when they didn’t know they had on wetlands on the property.

I think we have some wetland way back in our woods … a small pond too, though I’ve never made it there through the brambles. It’s not a place I’d ever think to build anyway. They are an inconvenience and we have to work around them, but we protect them because we need them. And they need us.

The River – Marilyn Armstrong

When first we moved here from Boston, it was wonderful, but so different.

Although I’d lived in the suburbs and spent most of my vacation time through the years out in the country, I’d never lived so far from a major city nor in a river valley, which has a particular character of its own.

The dominance of the Blackstone both over the ecology of the valley and its economy is hard to over-emphasize.

The Blackstone River National Heritage Corridor is actual part of the National Parks system and includes all the cities in the valley, from Worcester, where the river starts, to Providence where it ends. It is a protected area, though not a park, because so many people live here, but it is considered to be of significant historical importance.

A small pond where herons like to fish is formed by the river and canal’s congruence just above the falls.

It was in this valley that the American Industrial Revolution took place.

I call it the “keyhole” bridge. It’s just before the river divides.

I became fascinated with the river. It was everywhere. Even though you can’t always see it, the Blackstone or one of its tributaries is everywhere you travel, just off the road, hidden by a hillock or trees.

There’s a walkway along the canal where everyone likes to stroll. It’s right next to the parking lot for a medical building, and there’s a small picnic area there, too.

Twelve years later, the river still fascinates me … in all its seasons and permutations. This is the river in late summer/early Autumn, from last September. This is just a single hour of shooting by the river last September. You can be sure there will be much more.

Ogunquit, Maine: Sunrise, Sand, Rivers, Feathered and Other Friends – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumnal equinox in the northern latitudes. September. A week in Ogunquit, Maine. A tiny place but close to the beach and the river.

There are more people on the beach to see the dawn than I ever expected — there just for the peace and the beauty. Before the sun is up, the mist hangs on the sand.

Quiet this time of year. Most tourists are gone, now, so the streets aren’t crowded.

The moment there is a hint of sun, the mist disappears in a matter of seconds.

There is no more perfect time to be on the seashore of Maine than the very earliest part of Autumn.

Comes the sun …

If you are a photographer, you make take it as a sign that God loves you when having hauled your reluctant body out of bed while it’s still dark, then hike half a mile carrying all your gear to the beach while all the starving blood-sucking insects in the state gather to enjoy you as their breakfast buffet.

Suffer for your art? But you get a reward that is more than worth any and all of your efforts, because before you, as the mist burns away, a sunrise and a golden sun so breathtaking rises before you … and you are there and ready.

People of all ages walk along the water before dawn.

This is a day when your camera works perfectly, your batteries don’t run out, your lens is in perfect alignment, your eyes see and you capture exactly what you want to capture … and everything is in focus.

Then come the birds … terns, plovers, and gulls … Breakfast for the feathered residents.

Tiny plovers comfortably share the shore with one Great Black Backed Gull.

It doesn’t happen often. When it does, when it all comes together perfectly … then you must treasure it … savor it … and share it.

At times like these, it makes you remember why you started taking pictures in the first place.

The rising sun reflects on the sand as if it were polished glass.

That morning I discovered wet sand reflects light like a mirror. You can see the way the tide changes the shape of the sand along the shore.

The big seagull seems to be waiting for the sun to come up dissipating the last of the early mist.

The colors change from one second to the next.

Each moment is more beautiful than the one before it. Really, the entire time is probably no more than half an hour, but it’s a lifetime of beauty.

Then, final gold before full sunlight.

Later, I walked to the river and found this house. This is the Ogunquit River, just about a quarter of a mile before it joins the ocean. The house is virtually part of the river.

The only way I could find to get across the river to the house was by this “bridge,” really just a piece of wood across the rapids and falls. I declined to test it.

What happens in times of flood? Interesting place to build!

And finally, on my way back to our room, I found a hint of autumn near the beach in a small woodland area between the marsh and the shore.

OH MOTHER OF INVENTION, HOW ABOUT ELIMINATING US?

It’s really a simple solution, you know.

We may already have one somewhere. It probably needs a little refinement, but I think it would solve the Earth’s problems. A bomb. A huge one.

Not neutron because  that kills animals as well as people. Too much other destruction, too. We need a special people-eliminating bomb. After all the people are gone, Earth can recover and eventually, a new species will reign supreme. Hopefully the new masters of earth will show respect for Mother Earth and other creatures who share her bounty. A species which would allow the trees to grow, water to flow without damming or poisoning every stream. A species without the compulsion to dig up every mineral, pave every inch of ground, replace forests with cities belching soot, smoke and chemical fumes.

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster - Walt Kelly

Pogo – Earth Day 1971 poster – Walt Kelly

Earth needs a caretaker species. Not humans. We don’t care. We think God gave us permission to ravage and destroy our home as well as every living thing on it. I don’t remember any God — ours or anyone else’s — saying anything of the sort. How did I miss such an important passage in someone’s mythology? Why do I think that isn’t what any God would want?

Short of wiping out the human race, how about our species display a little self-restraint? How about not pouring sewage and industrial poison into the rivers, filling the air with dirt? Tearing open the earth to get to fossil fuels on which we should not be depending? How about behaving like proper guests of Mother Earth? You know, not eating our own Mother? How about that?

Are we even capable of not destroying our own nest?

DAILY POST: ANXIETY! WHAT’S THAT NOISE?

Animal-Woodland-Field-mice

Every night for the past week, after the television goes off and the bedroom is quiet, I hear it. A scratchy, scrabbly noise. Mice in the walls? Always on the far wall,  the outside wall. I hear it for just a few moments, then it’s gone. Is it the continued settling of the house? I want it to be the old house creaking. Our home is getting on in years. 

I should get up and investigate though I doubt I’d see anything. In any case, I don’t look. I don’t really want to know. It’s one more thing to deal with and I hate it. It means killing creatures who in their own habitat are harmless … but in my house, make a God awful mess. Don’t tell me about HavAHeart traps. Been there, done that. We’ve caught them, escorted them outside to the woods and seen them scamper right back in. They aren’t that smart. They don’t get the point.

So this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been invaded, not by any means. No matter how much you seal the house, those little field mice creep in through the tiniest cracks. You wouldn’t believe anything larger than a bug could get in through such a small hole, but every year, when the temperature drops, mice decide our warm house is a better place than the cold out-of-doors. Who could blame them? I sympathize. I do. After all, I prefer the warm house, but it is our house. They are not invited.

MiceArrivingIf you’ve never been invaded by mice, you cannot imagine what a mess they make. They gnaw through plastic boxes that are supposed to protect your possessions from rodents. They leave their droppings everywhere and your house gets that “mousey” smell. Not a good smell. They get into your food cupboards, chew through boxes and bags. They eat your wiring (fire!!) and tear up your insulation. When they get into your car — how do they do that? — they eat the gaskets and the wires and everything else. They used to tear up the inside of my teepee, ripping open pillows to get at the stuffing which they used for nesting material. The bobcat did less damage.

So that noise … it could be mice. It has been, in the past.

We won’t use poison. Poison leaves them to die in the walls where they rot. Nasty. The terriers — especially Bonnie who is young enough so she ought to like hunting — should be taking care of this problem. For some reason, mice don’t attract her. She loves rats and will attack them vigorously (I’ve seen her do it). We have rats around here, but it’s  mice that set up housekeeping. Every year. Like clockwork.

And now, there’s that noise … again.

DOOMED BY INCONVENIENCE

Siberian Tiger Français : Tigre de sibérie Ita...

Although I sometimes rant and persist in hoping for a positive outcome, I’m not optimistic about the future of our endangered animals.  All Earth’s large animals are doomed in the wild, some soon and the others eventually. Tigers, wolves, lions, jaguars, elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, apes and monkeys and many more will no longer roam the deserts or jungles. There will be no more wild places.

Humans will, for a while, maintain controlled populations of some species in zoos and special habitats. As if that could make up for their disappearance. As if warehousing is the same as having a wild kingdom. We’ll see the end of tigers probably in less than a decade. If wolves are removed from endangered species status, they will be hunted to extinction in no time flat.

Would you like to know why? Really? The truth is not the long complicated explanation you get from environmentalists or public talking heads. Let’s skip statistical analyses, the convoluted nonsense spouted by government officials and corporate stooges.

It’s simpler than that.

They will disappear because they are in our way. Animals don’t fit into human civilization. They are untidy. They eat cattle, goats, chickens, sheep. They trample fields and demolish gardens. They take up space that could be profitably used for shopping malls and suburban subdivisions. They are more valuable dead than alive and ever so much fun to shoot.

Predators and large animals are inconvenient.

When humans finds something — anything — inconvenient, we eliminate it. Kill it. Demolish it. Whether it’s a species, a river or a mountain. If it’s in our way, we make it disappear.

There’s a moral to the story. We should all take special care; we can be eliminated too.

Lions and tigers and bears? Bye bye.

P.S. If you think I’m exaggerating, please click on any of the related articles, or check out the Durell Wildlife Foundation, among many other organizations desperately trying to save what is left of our wild creatures.

- – -

DAY OF MONARCHS

We named our little sailboat Gwaihir, the wind lord. Really, she was the wind lady. A bit pretentious for such a little boat, but I thought it would be a lucky name. She was a 16 foot soling, a centerboarder, drawing just 16 inches with the board up. I used to tell people Gwaihir could sail on a wet hankie and I believed she could.

Soling Drawiing

She was a surprisingly stable craft. We carried a 5 HP outboard motor so when tide and wind were against us, we could still get home. In the old days, sailboats had to drop anchor and wait for one or both to shift. Today, we have to get home for dinner … so we have outboards.

When my husband had the time and felt particularly frisky, we took Gwaihir out through Sloop Channel and Jones inlet into the ocean. Even a 3 foot roller looks big when you are on the deck of such a small sloop. My husband was a madman on the water, would sail through thunder squalls because he liked the challenge. His father had been equally insane, so I guess he came by it honestly, if such a thing is possible.

Mostly though, I piloted her through the salt marshes and shallow canals off Long Island. She was perfect for shallow water sailing. We could sail through nesting grounds of plovers, herons and divers, virtually silent except for the slight flapping of the jib. The birds were undisturbed by our passage and went about their business, our white sails wing-like in the breeze.

One bright day with a warm sun lighting the water and the sky blue as a robin’s egg, I anchored in a shallow, reedy spot, lay back on the bench and drifted off to sleep as I watched little puffy clouds scoot across the sky.

I awoke a while later and our white sail was covered with what seemed to be thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies. I had drifted into their migration route and they had stopped for a rest on my little boat.

MonarchButterflies_20090910

I didn’t move or say anything. Just looked up and watched, thinking that if ever there had been a perfect day, crafted for my delight, this was it.

Then, as if someone had signalled, they rose in a flock and flew onward to complete their long journey. And I sailed home.

Saving Wolves

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

I wish that I could wave a magic wand and make the world a kinder place for animals; cats, dogs, cows, pigs, sheep, horses, whales, dolphins, elephants, animals used in laboratory experiments — you get the picture, right?

Animals are awesome.

Animals should have legal rights — they should be better protected and defended.

Everyone has issues they’re passionate about, and this is one of mine.

No animal needs our help more than wolves.

Wolves are being killed, slaughtered, mutilated, exterminated.

My tugboat man and I drove up to Sacramento so that I could testify at the Fish and Wildlife Service‘s wolf delisting hearing on November 22. He was there to make sure that I stayed out of jail. It’s kind of a joke but not really. Being around hunters and others who enjoy killing animals makes me so mad that you can almost see me explode with RAGE. The smoke-out-of-the-ears kind of rage. The kind of rage that has no filter. THAT kind of rage.

I’m sure that I’m one of the most skeptical people in the world when it comes to the reasons why our government is motivated to do ANYTHING, but this particular issue boggles my mind to a crazy degree.

This horrible and scientifically flawed idea that wolves are in a position to have recovered enough numbers to be formally removed from the Endangered Species List is what has driven thousands of Americans to protest, speak out, argue against it, and do whatever they can to continue to protect these beautiful creatures from certain extinction — again.

A hunter who kills a wolf belongs to a subsection — a microcosm —  of a human being whose sole purpose in life is the extermination of a species.

It’s scary, people. Really scary.

From what I understand, funded in part by the Koch Brothers’ smoke screen organization, American Prosperity Group, ranchers and hunters have declared an all-out war against the wolf — any wolf, Gray Wolf, Red Wolf or Mexican Wolf, coyotes, any and all predators that they incorrectly believe threaten THEIR skewed right to breed, grow, and eventually murder their own cattle and sheep.

Current research indicates other successful non-lethal options to protect their “investment” animals — living and breathing creatures whose sole existence is to breed and grow to one day be killed — yet another reason why we don’t eat meat.

What this potential delisting has helped to unleash is a group of sadistic hunters who are entrenched in zoosadism.

Zoosadism is a term used to refer to the pleasure that an individual gains from the cruelty to animals. SEXUAL PLEASURE. Zoosadism is getting sexually excited by causing harm to animals and is considered a form of animal abuse. Have you seen all those horrible photos on the internet? Zoosadists are true sociopaths.

At the hearing, one of the first speakers was Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem WintuTribe of American Indians near Mount Shasta. She received much deserved applause and shouts of support when she said that the wolf had long been a spiritual figure for her tribe.

“The wolf is our teacher,” she said, explaining that its extended pack relationships served as an example for human families. She compared the hunting of wolves out of fear to the killing of American Indians.

There were so many amazing speakers who spoke with intelligence, passion, dedication, and concern for the wolf.

Selfie cos hub takes horrible pics.

WIth 500-600 attendees, and the knowledge that there was a videographer who recorded all the speeches as official government testimony, you’d think I would have been nervous, but I’ve always had plenty of public speaking confidence (some might call it chutzpah,) — especially with five-inch heels and a Chanel on my arm.

***TRANSCRIPT OF MY SPEECH***

“It is past time to take the words of Gandhi to heart: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Why is the term “delisting” synonymous with hunting, blood sport, and the murder of a species?

Is this the only barbaric method “good science” has for “species management”?

Instead, let’s call it what it really is: government sanctioned murder.

De-listing really means that it’s OK to hunt, torture, and destroy species and is really just legalizes more brutality.

We cannot allow the current administration to give up on wolf recovery for the gray wolf OR the Mexican wolf or relinquish species survival to the states.

I’m from here in California where we have excellent habitat but no wolves and I absolutely do NOT support any (Fish and Wildlife Service’s) proposal to delist the gray wolf, a barely recovering endangered species that’s currently being slaughtered for political gain.

We need to manage wolves and other wildlife in a healthy and sustainable way so that future generations can enjoy the benefits of our rich wildlife heritage. However, management cannot mean the hunting and murder of a species.

That the irrational and enduring hostility to wolves still exists, and that hundreds of more wolves will be killed — is wrong and the cruel methods allowed for hunting and trapping wolves are deeply disturbing and sociopathic, egregious, and inhumane.

Our own life changing visit to Yellowstone in August fulfilled my     dream to see the wolves of Lamar Valley.

At 6:00 a.m., a few miles outside our camp at Slough Creek, we followed others to a bison carcass, and our efforts paid off with a multiple sighting of many wolves, including 755.

There was an overwhelming sense of awe among the dozens of us who silently watched him cross the road and then a collective sigh of relief when he disappeared safely over the ridge.

Those same wolves are being murdered the instant they cross that invisible border out of the park. It’s absolutely insane.

WE hold the power to ensure that we’re not the last generation to view a wolf in nature; not confined in a zoo, or most importantly, not dead after being tortured and then displayed as a “trophy”.

The truth is that wolf recovery is far from over.

According to many leading scientists, we’ve entered into an era of mass extinction, which will not have run its course until biodiversity levels are less than twenty-five percent of what they are now.

I’m here to push back against this culture of extinction.

I’m here because of the legacy I want to leave behind for our children.

More than thirty years ago, I did my small part to advocate for the addition of wolves to the Endangered Species List.

I wrote letters and joined forces with groups dedicated to protecting the wolf from certain extinction and it’s shameful that we’re back to the beginning.

It appears that the last thirty years have culminated in the nurturing of this species’ growth for the single sacrificial purpose to provide animals for thrill killing hunter/murderers and that’s why continued protection is even more necessary.

Our collective legacy will not be celebrating wolf recovery, but rather their unnecessary deaths will become your ONLY legacy.

Do NOT delist the gray wolf. Outlaw all hunting of wolves.”

Cleveland Amory: “Hunters should be hunted themselves, to prevent hunter overpopulation and to undo the effects of inbreeding.”

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

Destroying wolves is one of so many things we are destroying. We need to stop killing our world one species at a time. There is a reason the animals were created before humans. They deserve a piece of nature, to be safe, to live, love, breed and hunt as they were meant to. Please – We are not owners of the earth. We are just residents, no more or less than the wolves and whales and eagles. And trees. We have no right to destroy it all and we will pay dearly for it.

Please visit Enchanted Seashell at http://enchantedseashells.com/2013/11/26/saving-wolves/ for the entire story.

See on enchantedseashells.com

 

THROWING THE WORLD AWAY

It’s not about Windows: The repairable PC is dead

… Amazon, who launched their Workspaces offering yesterday, which provides a remote Windows environment that allows you to run all of your business-critical and personal applications in EC2.

Amazon is certainly not the first service provider to do this, but its endorsement of the technology speaks volumes about where we as an industry are going.

You don’t need an expandable, serviceable PC to get to that desktop and the applications that are hosted there. Indeed, Windows still serves a very key role in that scenario, but within the datacenter and public clouds. —  From ZDNet, November 15, 2013

The computer industry has declared me — and everyone like me — obsolete. Irrelevant. We can’t afford subscriptions to “keep us up to date.” Worse, keeping up to date isn’t a major issue in our lives. I don’t mind running a version or two behind as long as the tools I’ve got get the job done. I can go years without repurchasing my software. I guess they don’t make enough money selling new releases to folks like us. Yeah, that’s probably it.

dell14ZIf you — like me — are one of the millions of computer users who live on fixed incomes or are just plain poor , you’re barely able to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. You are NOT subscribing. To anything.

A couple of days ago, I got my “You’ve Been Hacked!” letter from Adobe. This has affected (depending on who you believe) between 38 and 150 million people. All of us have had our personal information stolen and quite probably sold to hackers. Doesn’t anyone but me find this alarming? Where’s the outrage, the demand for better security? I am less than ever interested in storing anything I care about anywhere except on a drive I own and have at home.

Yes, I know the house could burn to the ground and all my backups would be lost. If that, God forbid, should happen I will be otherwise occupied trying to put my life back together. Worrying about lost data is not going to be my primary issue. I’m not a business, you see. I’m a person. (What’s a person, daddy? Is it a new kind of corporation?)

When my PCs stop working, which they don’t do more than once in a deeply cyanotic moon, I call the Guy Who 75-WorkingNIK-CR-87Fixes PCs. He comes to the house.  Replaces the broken bits. Cleans out the virus that bypassed the safeguards and generally tunes it up. I give him a hundred bucks, he gives me a card with his number on it so if the problems come back, he will return and fix’em.

Am I the only one who is in no position to just dump equipment and replace it? No way could I afford that. I’m still in debt for the stuff I have. Moreover, I deplore the throwaway society we are building and the mindset that comes with it.

Disposability it not good. It’s not an improvement. It’s destroying our environment. Polluting landfills. Making an already profligate society more thoughtless and wasteful. It’s the definition of where and how we’ve gone wrong.

Does no one in the computer industry look at business in a wider social context? Realize what a dangerous path we are treading? If one thing is going to doom our world, throwing stuff away rather than fixing it will be our route to damnation.

There was a time when Garry and I were working a ridiculous number of hours and started using paper plates. To avoid washing dishes. After doing this for a while, one day, I found myself washing the paper plates. I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them out. It seemed wrong. Wasteful. That was when I rediscovered the concept of reusability. I had actual dishes in the cupboard. I could use them, wash them — and use them again! Epiphany!

96-Kitchen-HPCR-1

We are turning into a world of paper plate users. Everything, from your car to your computer, to your kitchen appliances. It’s all junk. When it stops running, dump it. Don’t even think about fixing it. Change your cell phone every six months. Toss the old one. Somewhere on this planet, there is a giant, bottomless hole into which the garbage goes and it will never fill up, right? If you keep believing that, maybe the house brownies will come and clean for you while you sleep.

I’m not expecting answers. I’ll be dead before anyone looks around and says “Whoa … this isn’t so good. What about building things we can repair. You know. Reuse.”