How much does cruelty cost?

Some people may have caught a recent news story about animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farms in Indiana. The video was part of an undercover operation to show how animals are really treated at Fair Oaks Farms.  “Fairlife was launched in 2012 as a partnership between Coca-Cola, which distributes its products, and the McCloskeys’ Select Milk Producers, a co-op of dairy farms that includes Fair Oaks. The product is a form of “ultrafiltered” milk that is lactose-free and has more protein and calcium and less sugar than traditional milk.”  Fairlife and owners of Fair Oaks dairy  are being sued by a consumer of Fair life dairy products who says he was deceived by claims it provided a high caliber of care for its animals.

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The Reality of Climate Change

Problems have solutions; dilemmas have consequences!  The reality of climate change can’t be avoided but the consequences for humans and other life forms can be made worse by our decisions.  There is a difference between solving problems and living with consequences.  Solving problems means we can try to fix what is wrong.  Living with consequences means we must face the reality of our situation.  The reality of climate change is already impacting the hydrologic cycle—increased precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, and river flow— but we can make our situation worse.

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Cigarette Butt pollution

There are many substances that get deposited on streets and little of this pollution is removed from stormwater before being dumped into rivers.  Street Department personnel spread salt and sand on icy roads in winter.  People throw trash and cigarette butts out their car window or it blows out of the bed of trucks.  Vehicles leak oil and other lubricants, tires shed hydrocarbons, and exhaust pipes emit gases and fluids.  There are many substances that unintentionally and intentionally get washed down the drains and into storm sewers that feed downstream drinking water.  All of these substances accumulate on roads along with natural debris such as sticks, leaves, and dirt.

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Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day and next year marks its 50th anniversary.  It seems a good time to pause and think about what we have accomplished and where we go from here.  How has Earth Day changed since it’s conception and have we reached any of its original goals?

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Food for a small planet

What do people eat across the world?  An excellent photographic answer to this question was provided by Californian photographer Peter Menzel who visited 24 countries for the book “Hungry Planet” .   The thing I found most interesting from his photographs was the difference in the percentage of whole food vs. processed food that make up diets across the world.  Americans eat mostly processed food and very little whole food. Continue reading “Food for a small planet”

When the water runs out

We were the ‘Land of the Free’ for the longest time,” state Rep. Regina Cobb (R) said recently at an Arizona Republican forum. “We wanted to be able to put wells where we wanted to. We didn’t want monitoring. We didn’t want metering. We didn’t want government coming in and telling us what to do. Until,” she told an audience where some wore “Make America Great Again” hats, “we saw the number of wells that were being put into the ground.” Continue reading “When the water runs out”

The clutter of a life

The older I get the less I enjoy having stuff.  When we moved three years ago it was shocking to find how much stuff we had accumulated, and how much work it took to pack and move it.  It took months and yet there are still boxes waiting to be unpacked.  Every so often I attack them; sorting, repacking and deciding what things I want to keep or to give away.  Years of accumulating things has begun to feel more and more like an anchor around my neck.

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Environmental awareness

A recent article got me thinking about our contact with the natural world.  After reading more about the Social Justice Movement and in particular Extinction Rebellion I agree with one of the commenters that  “the left is on an ideological crusade to promote its doctrines and that the climate change issue is merely an opportunistic vehicle to do so”.  It isn’t that I don’t agree there are social justice issues that need confronting, but I think there is a danger when political groups use the issue of climate change as a reason to promote social revolution.  I agree, “we need to confront the material, scientific and institutional causes of climate change”, and I don’t see how we can do that if our rebellion isn’t about climate change.  I believe the way to confront climate change is with more environmental awareness.

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My father’s death

My father died on Dec. 24th and my husband and I returned to Minnesota for his funeral.  At 87 he had lived a long and full life.  It seemed like he went “downhill” very fast.  In the last two years each time I saw him I couldn’t believe the changes.  In some ways I feel fortunate that the end of his life came relatively quickly.  He lived to a “ripe old age” and enjoyed his life almost up to the very end.  We were fortunate that a family wedding last August brought most of our family together in celebration and my father’s health was still good enough to share in it.  The picture above of my father was the one taken last August and the one we used at the funeral.  When the end came it came relatively quickly, although I know it didn’t feel that way to my mother or sisters who sat by his side for four days.

His memorial service was a beautiful celebration of his life. It was held at the small Lutheran church that our family attended most of my life.  It was bitter sweet.  The church was filled with people and many of them came up to me to offer condolences.  They would often say “You probably don’t remember me…” and all too often I didn’t.  Many people I hadn’t seen for years, even decades,  but their words always touched me.  Their stories brought tears and laughter.  They all thought so much of my father.   How can one explain what it means to belong to a community?  These were my people.  I was Bob’s daughter.  I belonged.  Somehow sharing with each of them it felt as if the emptiness I was feeling was filled.  The hole in my heart that I wasn’t expecting…was somehow filled. These people in one way or another made me feel that my father was important.  His life mattered and by extension …my life mattered.

How absolutely essential it is to belong in community.  Our roots go deep and our soil is enriched because our father tended it.  He wasn’t perfect.  Nor are we.  But we would not be who we are if not for him.  To me he was my idol because I was the proverbial “daddy’s girl”.  He was my first teacher and I learned so much from him.  I would not be who I am without his influence.  We belong to a family within this community.  My mother, my siblings, my nieces and nephew, their spouses, their children…we gathered together as family.  We cried, we laughed, we hugged, we looked at pictures, and we hoisted our drinks.  We came together as family. This is a time when you feel we are more than just individual people living our separate lives.

I could feel my father’s spirit and I know he was smiling.  I thought “Look what you started dad. Look what you left behind.” I could feel his approval and his love.  His spirit was with us. The mystery of life came full circle, we are born, we live and reproduce, we die…the way we only hope it can be.  We all hope we can live a long and full life and in the end to know it is our time, to know that we were part of something larger than our self.

A week before he died my sister asked him about death. “Are you ready?” His answer was straight forward. “Yes. I’m pretty sure I am. ” Can we hope for more than that?