Sunday, January 21, 2007

Names and Places

We've been living on this bit of land for most of twenty years and I've tried to come up with a name for it intermittently since we first began building our house. I've tried to find a gaelic phrase that means "high place where water lingers" and we've toyed with "Aspen Grove" and other names, but I may have finally hit upon something while I was drifting between sleep and wakefulness this morning. Once again, procrastination may have yielded something of value. Or was it patience?

I was half-dreaming about being in a rock/folk band and hit upon a few clever names for the group but I woke after I thought of a phrase and began trying to decide how to spell the words. I'll explain after I tell these other stories (it helps to build the suspense):

Years ago, a friend of ours built a cabin out away from any other human habitations, and had a naming contest for her place. Our father won the contest by taking the word "shall" and adding "land", and in so doing honored both this friend's determination and the place she had chosen to live. It also implied the Hebrew term for peace (shalom). She didn't stay many years, finding that it was too far out.

I had tried living alone in a tipi one winter long ago, and had been in town for supplies or something. As I snowshoed back to the tipi I found the words "far out" stamped out in the snow near my shelter. It was.

I tried living in a resort town and working in a factory down south (because jobs were hard to come by, here in western New York) for almost a decade, but came back because all that stimulation didn't suit me. I've learned since then that even small college-town stimulation is hard on my nervous and psychological systems. So we've returned to the "far out" option.

We are far enough out to not have drunken students yelling and screaming and waking us up in the night. We're not so far but what we hear cars going by on the highways nearby, and I can get to the Fire Hall to drive an engine or ambulance in seven minutes.

But why not just call this place "home"? Somehow that was not enough for me. This place and this house have a sort of personality that is still growing and changing, as we are. I think that what came to me this morning while my brain was working between alpha and theta wavelengths, I suppose, was something that encapsulates why we live where we do, and how we do it. It was Wood Not or Would Knot, and I think I've settled on the latter.

We made many choices about where to build our home, and how we have been building it, that we might, in retrospect, wish to change. But I have lived with plenty of regret, and tire of it. Would Knot posits that same sort of determination my father recognized in our friend, and we've had to learn. Would Knot also posits the connection we have been making to this place and its creatures. I think it's a good name.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I had a dream........Thank you, Martin.

I woke up this morning having dreamt about my ex-brother-in-law and timber salvage legislation. In the dream, I was explaining to my sister how salvage legislation left the door open for cutting almost any timber, when he handed me an article detailing how that was no longer true. I said that, due to the new Democratic majority, they must have tightened up the legislation before passing it. So I woke up with a renewed sense of hope that I had not dared to feel, until very recently. I've been saying for six years, that my baseline blood pressure would be elevated for as long as G.W. Bush was in office. So, for my own health (and yours and that of the next seven generations), I think his impeachment is worth considering.

But, speaking of hope, I was drinking (organic) coffee and talking with a friend of mine yesterday, when he mentioned that, on one of the forums he watches on biodiesel, people were talking about how maybe global warming wasn't real, and that record temperatures were just due to natural cycling. Boy, did I go from there: I told him that even the "normal" cycling is changing, and that there is no doubt that global warming is happening. He commented that he doesn't know any of the science on the subject, and that he can't do anything about global warming. Yeah, right.

This is the guy who decided to buy an old diesel truck and convert it to run on vegetable oil, just to cut his fuel cost. This is the guy who commented that I prepare for things so thoroughly that he figures I would pull a spare car on a trailer if I went on a journey, just in case the first car broke down. Unlike me and my preparations, he just decided to do it, and did it. He researched how to do so on-line, then figured out how to do it better, and has set up four different vehicles with a hybrid diesel/vegetable oil fuel delivery system, learning a lot more with each iteration.

This is the guy who decided to burn vegetable oil because converting it to biodiesel involved hazardous materials and was more expensive. And he can't do anything about global warming. At that moment, I didn't try to convince him otherwise, although we'd talked about this before.

So I explained some of the science of global warming to him; how scientists (some of whom are friends of mine) use tree ring widths to extrapolate climate averages; how they've re-constructed tree ring widths back into the past; how they have drilled ice cores and aged the ice and extracted entrapped gases to estimate climate; how there is no doubt that the earth's surface is warming at an unprecedented rate; and that ice is disappearing more quickly than people estimated or feared, and that it is now feared that much of what is happening could be irreversible.

He just commented that he couldn't do anything about it.

So I woke up this morning hoping to convince him otherwise, because I keep trying. I tried when I signed on-line petitions and when I talked with people about how they were voting. I tried when I was a Technical Specialist, working with students and telling them about things they could do. I tried when I helped a University faculty search committee choose a climate scientist to fill a vacancy. I tried when I taught Environmental Science to a class of 40 students from Japan, Bulgaria, South Carolina, rural New York state and New York City's boroughs. I try when I do as many errands as I can in one trip. I try when I talk with my son about what matters to each of us. I try when I look on-line for a diesel truck that I can convert to vegetable oil fuel.

My friend is not a liberal, not a Democrat, not an environmentalist. But we have been good friends because we are both willing to hear the other's viewpoint and give it a good listen, but still disagree on some things. We don't disagree about how much we love our wives and children, nor about how corrupt our government is, although we sometimes disagree about what should be done to correct it, and so on.

I like to think that, if he and I can disagree but continue to respect each other and continue to talk about what change is needed for our boys to have a good life, there is still hope. I hope that the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress will just be the beginning.

About Me

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I've been a number of things over the years: husband, father, environmental technical specialist, college instructor, carpenter, volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, student of Lakota and Japanese languages, technical writer, process engineer, research technician, IT technician, emergency dispatcher, etc.