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Mon Apr 9, 2012, 09:11 AM

A Day at The Pond

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Years ago, a Clan Mother told me that at times when the world is spinning faster and faster, it is good to find a quiet, still place. And so it is with my pond. I like to go out early in the morning, around the time the sun is coming up: I fill the bird-feeders, and toss some food onto the surface of the pond for the fish. Then I sit with a cup of coffee and watch a small section of the world move at a natural pace. The older I get, the more I appreciate each morning.

Soon, one of our "house cats" comes to the pond's edge. Although I prefer dogs, one or two of the herd of cats that inhabits our home and property are never far from my feet. This one likes to come to the pond with me daily. He watches the fish snatching food from the water's surface with an intensity tinged with frustration.

My older daughter comes out, with coffee and a book. She has been dealing with the pressures of youth: she graduates high school in two months, and had decided what university to attend two days ago. She had the option of graduating a few years early, but opted to stay with her own class. This allowed her to take two years of college-credited courses, and to work part-time for county agencies including Social Services, the District Attorney, and Family Court. She is beginning an outline for her speech as valedictorian; I will be, as a school board member, handing her the diploma she has earned.

The school board business takes up a lot of time. Although our school is the best in a four-county region, it faces the harshest budget cuts from the state. So much for rewarding success. Governor Andrew Cuomo inherited an educational system that spends 17 times more per student in the NYC-Long Island region than in the upstate; still, for reasons that I suspect have more to do with his planned 2016 presidential run than with students' futures, he is intent upon slashing our funding.

Chloe suggests that we take the row boat out to the middle of the pond. As we go out, I tell her about the local "tea-partiers" who attended Tuesday's board meeting to complain about the increasing costs of public education. Although we actually made substantial reductions, they are still angry ....anger and hostility are the requirement for tea party membership, I suppose. Although I am still in my first year on the board, they have identified me as the "enemy." They know that the teachers' union endorsed me -- the first time they publicly backed any candidate -- and that I beat one of the tea party leaders. If I said that the sky is blue, they would be furious; if I said it isn't blue, they would be outraged.

At the Thursday meeting, a state assemblyman attended the second board meeting. Though he is a conservative republican, we are friends. He assisted Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman and I years ago, in saving an ancient burial ground from being mined for gravel. I contacted him a couple of months ago to discuss the state cuts in education, and he is making a sincere effort to help level the playing field.

After the long boat tour of our small pond, my daughter brings the boat to shore. While there is no track practice on Easter Sunday, she wants to go to the track to get a few miles in. She asks if I'm okay alone? A week before, a bee flew into my eye, and stung me as I attempted to wipe it out; my vision has been hampered since then, to the point I may seek medical attention. More, after speaking in Albany on Wednesday, I took a hard fall down the stairs to the stage. (Yikes!) Yes, I am okay.

In the early afternoon, I went to the house to prepare a meal. Both of my sons will be coming over: one lives a couple towns away, working as a fork-lift driver; the other works construction on Long Island. It's the first time all six of us will be sitting down together for some time. After our meal, my older son walks out to the pond with me, to see this season's new koi fish; we count about 25 new ones, with interesting variations of the coloring of the mature ones.

By late afternoon, both sons have headed back into their own futures, and my daughters are taking their mother's car to visit friends. My wife had been seriously ill earlier this year -- with more doctors' and ER visits, and time in the hospital -- than I can keep track of ..... a very rough three months. She is returning to work full-time this week, and is going to read and rest. I will go back to the pond.

Chloe had bought me two books when she visited the university on Friday. One was about Irish literature; I suspect her oldest brother borrowed it. I take the other one ("We are the People our Parents Warned Us Against: The Classic Account of the 1960s Counter-Culture in San Francisco"; Nicholas von Hoffman; Elephant Paperback; 1968) and one of my dogs back out to the pond.

Kelly is a boxer-mix, white with blue spots. He is also a tumbling clown, habitually in a happy mood. He seems torn between demanding constant affection, and seeking to follow every scent through the fields and woods. Though both of his parents love to swim, Kelly only walks about 16 inches into the water, repeatedly, to get drinks. Then he comes back and gets me soaked. He makes it impossible to read, and so I build a small fire and try to dry out. I remember my late friend Jay's saying: "White people build big fires, and have to stay so far away that their backs are cold; Indians build small fires they can sit close to, and stay warm."

On Monday, April 16, I will be bringing a group of pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking grass roots activists to Pace University's Law Clinic, to meet with Robert Kennedy, Jr. We will be discussing the struggle to protect our region from the energy corporations that seek to drill for gas, making this a "national sacrifice area." Any time I am preparing for a public meeting where I have to do a presentation, I like to sit out at my pond and make a mental outline. It's that calm place, where I can get ready to venture out into the rapidly spinning world.

There is a scene in an old movie, "The Emerald Forest," where an old chief calls the area where "progress" is destroying natural resources "the Dead World." That "Dead World" is spinning faster and faster, destroying more and more of the Natural World. As I sit near my pond, I am surrounded by life: the pond itself teems with life; the birds are at the feeders for sun flowers; Kelly has chased the cat --his good friend inside the house-- up a tree. I've hoped that whoever lives here after I pass .... maybe one of my children, perhaps followed by a grandchild's family ..... will be able to sit here, and enjoy the same miracles of life that I am enjoying now. But hydrofracking threatens to destroy that possibility.

A few minutes after the sun goes down, some dark clouds move in. A rain shower puts the fire out. Kelly and I head back to our house, where I continue to read my new book.

21 replies, 3095 views

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply A Day at The Pond (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 2012 OP
hootinholler Apr 2012 #1
H2O Man Apr 2012 #2
bigtree Apr 2012 #3
H2O Man Apr 2012 #4
bigtree Apr 2012 #6
CaliforniaPeggy Apr 2012 #5
H2O Man Apr 2012 #8
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #7
sabrina 1 Apr 2012 #9
H2O Man Apr 2012 #10
bigtree Apr 2012 #11
Octafish Apr 2012 #12
Uncle Joe Apr 2012 #14
H2O Man Apr 2012 #17
Octafish Apr 2012 #20
H2O Man Apr 2012 #21
ellisonz Apr 2012 #16
Uncle Joe Apr 2012 #13
H2O Man Apr 2012 #19
bleever Apr 2012 #15
woo me with science Apr 2012 #18

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 09:54 AM

1. Thank you for the update.

I appreciate you taking the time to let us know what is happening in your corner of the earth. I think of you every time I see an energy company greenwashing ad, and can't help but think that the movement is having some success in getting the word out since those ads are not cheap.

On a personal note I hope to get a check out to soon you for a copy of your boy's book

-Hoot

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 10:18 AM

2. Thanks.

The meeting with Robert should be interesting. A large and growing segment of the grass roots communities have doubts about Robert's position on hydrofracking. While I am the first to recognize that I am not fully objective -- I like him -- our conversations have reinforced my belief that he is fully opposed to hydrofracking. I've heard reports that there is significant tension between him and his former brother-in-law, Andrew Cuomo, who is approaching this issue as a stumbling block to his 2016 presidential run.

I had the opportunity to meet Mario Cuomo a few times, and have a lot of contact with his office. I had (and still have) a high opinion of the first Governor Cuomo. I never cared for Andrew, who struck me as ambitious, without conscience. During his run for governor, I was invited to a small dinner event he was attending in Binghamton; I could have been one of a few people meeting him, but I declined. Now, I wish I had gone.

Not every sone can fill his father's shoes. The combination of ambition and a sense of entitlement can be ugly .... as we witnessed (and suffered) with George W. Bush. Being this generation's "Robert F. Kennedy" provides both opportunity and unreal expectations.

One of our good DU friends will be attending the meeting. That's kind of cool!

There aren't many of my sons' books left. I will ask them to set one aside.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 10:50 AM

3. so nice that you can find time to be still

. . . with so much going on around you (and to you!).

nice pond, with the rocks stacked there. a bridge? a dam?

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Response to bigtree (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:00 AM

4. My younger son

build that as a retaining wall, against the bank. Both "boys" are talented with stones, though the older one is less driven to move huge rocks from one place to another!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:18 AM

6. nice. big stones.

This is a tough year for moving politicians. Better to try now, though, than to wait for the political air to thin out after the election. Both Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Kennedy have the advantage of looking forward; instead of just defending their own legacies, they still are challenged to create meaningful and significant ones. Both opportunities and potential obstacles. Perfect climate for activism and advocacy!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:07 AM

5. What a beautiful and thoughtful essay...

Thank you for allowing us to peek inside your world for a moment, to allow us to stop spinning.

I greatly respect your energy and commitment to all these important causes; thank you!

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:36 AM

8. Thanks, Peggy!

Last week was busy; this week, I'm taking it easy, and planning for next Monday's meeting. Taking a couple minutes to further unwind this morning by writing about yesterday, helps clear my old & feeble mind!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:35 AM

7. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

And for giving us a little of the tranquility of the pond.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 11:56 AM

9. Beautiful essay.

Good luck with the meeting with Robert Kennedy.

On Monday, April 16, I will be bringing a group of pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking grass roots activists to Pace University's Law Clinic, to meet with Robert Kennedy, Jr. We will be discussing the struggle to protect our region from the energy corporations that seek to drill for gas, making this a "national sacrifice area."

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 12:36 PM

10. Hey! (from Pat's daughters)

Dad was getting ready for the Kennedy meeting, and he fell over the railing next to the stairs (breaking the railing) and then fell down the stairs. Don't expect him back today, he will not let us take him to the doctor so we are going to get icy hot!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 12:42 PM

11. sheez

easy, don't you!

Take care, Pat

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 12:54 PM

12. Call the doctor and report what happened immediately.

No joke: Please call and let the doc know what happened.

Your dad may think he's all right, but he may've been hurt by the fall or he may have been hurting before the fall.

Please call the doctor.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 01:08 PM

14. Seconded!

and thanks for letting us know.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 07:12 PM

17. I'm okay.

Sore as heck, though. I was getting a couple of Kennedy books off a shelf near the stairs. Fell over a raiking, breaking it in half (didn't lose enough weight in that darned hunger strike!), and then fell about 7 feet down.

Scared the heck out of my daughters.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #17)

Tue Apr 10, 2012, 07:34 AM

20. Worried about torn aorta, ruptured spleen, etc etc etc.

Glad to hear you feel A-OK. Boxers have the constitution of a stunt double. Thing is, there's only one H2O Man.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #20)

Tue Apr 10, 2012, 01:07 PM

21. I feel like

I got in a fight with Iron Mike Tyson. Yikes!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 03:51 PM

16. Hey H20 Man go to the doctor!

*finger-cross*

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 01:06 PM

13. I don't know whether this could be pertinent to your discussion

with Robert Kennedy Jr. as it's a different geographical area but here's an interesting study thread in the Latest Breaking News Forum by muriel_volestrangler.



http://www.democraticunderground.com/101492249

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/study-ties-oil-gas-production-midwest-quakes-16090702#.T4CTkajaKSo

Study Ties Oil, Gas Production to Midwest Quakes
Source: ABC News

Oil and gas production may explain a sharp increase in small earthquakes in the nation's midsection, a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.

The rate has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, the team reports, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made."

(snip)

There has been concern about potential earthquakes from a smaller-scale injection of fluids during a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is used to recover gas. But Ellsworth said Friday he is confident that fracking is not responsible for the earthquake trends his study found, based on prior studies.

The idea is to understand how the man-made activity triggers quakes, she said. One possibility is that the injected fluids change the friction and stickiness of minerals on fault lines. Another concept is that they change the below-surface pressure because the fluid is trapped and builds, and then "sets off something that's about ready to go anyway," Lohman said.



That looks like a lovely pond.

Thanks for the thread, H2O Man.





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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #13)

Tue Apr 10, 2012, 07:09 AM

19. That is a serious issue,

and one we will be discussing with Robert.

Earlier this year, a regional television news station reported on the connection between earthquakes and hydrofracking. The top dog at one of the larger "energy" corporations in the northeast -- a man I went to school with -- called the station to complain. A couple days later, he again called the station, and requested that a reporter come to his office.

The young lady tasked with this had no idea it had to do with hydrofracking, a topic she had never reported on. The guy cornered her in his office, and was screaming threats to end his corporation's advertising. She felt threatened, and was still crying when she returned to the station.

A couple of weeks later, a local radio sports reporter asked me to be the half-time guest at one of my daughter's high school basketball games. He asked me to come to where he was sitting a bit before halftime, which I did. The reporter's cell phone rang moments after I was seated. It was this same fellow. He told the reporter -- another high school classmate -- that if he put me on the air (this was at the time of my hunger strike) that it would be the end of his career with the radio station.

The reporter offered to put me on. I was tempted to; I'd have loved to talk about the corporate attempts to silence the media. But not at the cost of my friend's job.

Earthquakes and Amendment 1 are definitely on my list of issues to discuss.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 01:47 PM

15. Power to the peaceful!

Power to the peaceful, right on.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2012, 07:26 PM

18. That was lovely.

Thank you.

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