Temporary Blindness

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Is it a coincidence that there’s a ‘Help Wanted’ posting for the neighborhood eye clinic? They are hiring, both part-time and full time. Is this in anticipation of vision eclipsed clients?

The warning from the 70 year old, who on a teen-aged dare, stared at an eclipse in 1962, here in Oregon, is all over the local news. He still has a partial vision impairment 55 years later; hardly temporary.

I’ve been temporarily blinded a few times. The dreaded Flash from my grandpa’s beloved camera always made me see dancing black spots. Bright white, midday snow fields, when I lived at the Range View Cabin on the Continental Divide temporarily blinded me. Welding caused ‘Arc Eye.’ ( Welding was a requirement for my Agriculture degree…another BS story…)

There are non-lethal weapons; flash grenades and laser dazzlers that are intended to deliberately, temporarily blind you. The term ‘dazzler’ is impossible for me to accept in a military context; ‘Dazzler’ makes more sense as a part of Barbie’s prom wardrobe, not GI Joe’s action gear.

My Oregon daughter wants me to be sure the eclipse glasses I was given are approved. She ordered eclipse glasses for her and her daughters. They were delivered but someone took the box off her steps before she got home.

She was then notified that the (stolen) glasses had been recalled so they credited her account. She has replaced the stolen glasses with genuine, NASA approved, eclipse viewing glasses.

The miserable thief will perhaps suffer temporary blindness.

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Try to Make Peace

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It is officially Eclipse Countdown. There was a solar eclipse in February 1979 that crossed in the Pacific Northwest. I wasn’t t here, so I didn’t get to see it. The last total eclipse of the sun in the United States was 99 years ago. I wasn’t alive then.

I am here now and excited to bear witness to this scientific and historic event.

In the way things in life can be accidental, I am in the Pacific Nortwest.  My trip was not scheduled for the eclipse but I’m here along with approximately one million extra people. I was one of the few people on the flight here who was not coming to see the eclipse. I was coming to chicken sit. (and there is a big dog too.)

The chickens that I am chicken-sitting may exihibit eclipse behaviors. Animals have been known to behave strangely. My familiarity with chickens is limited. I am no expert. I doubt if my observations would be valid or worth noting.

However, the California Academy of Sciences is asking citizen scientists to download its free iNaturalist app and on the day of the eclipse to record observations of animal behavior before, during and after the eclipse. As much as I love being a citizen scientist, I will not be doing this. The chickens already seem to be acting strange.

I love science and I love history. At the end of this week, I may love chickens too.

In fact, the May 585 B.C. Eclipse is called by Isaac Asimov, the Birth of Science. According to Greek historian Herodotus, this solar eclipse in 585 BCE stopped the war between the people who once lived in what is now Turkey and the Medes, an ancient Iranian people. They saw the dark sky and took it as a warning sign to make peace.

These are strange times we live in. Everybody seems confused and frustrated.

Lets all celebrate the 2017 eclipse by trying to find a new way try to make peace.

 

 

Big Deal

My Danish grandma mailed me a box once a month when I was off at college. It contained homemade brownies and a note with a $5.00 bill. I lived in a dorm. This was required of all incoming freshmen. My roommate had an older cousin. She was almost always with her. My suite mates had boyfriends that they were always with. I liked being basically alone in my corner suite and on my own.

Just down the hall were some friendly girls from the Rio Grand Valley. I was born there too. They always had lots of people coming and going from their rooms. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the fragrant smell of marijuana. I didn’t smoke it but I had been around it plenty. Everyone I knew who smoked pot in the 70’s got the serious munchies.

First they just wanted a taste of my brownies. I shared. Then they tried to get me to spend my $5.00 on their weed. They were crafty business people.

Close to our dorm was a convenience store. I walked down and spent my 5 dollars. I bought three tubes of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; the refrigerator kind. I brought it back to my room.

My granddad (from the other side of my genetic equation) had given me a toaster oven. I baked my first batch of dorm chocolate chip cookies. That smell wafted down the hall.

Soon I had a room full of girls with the munchies. They had money. They wanted warm chocolate chip cookies. It didn’t start out to be a business but it turned into a big deal. I saved enough money to help put myself through college.

After the toaster oven got confiscated, I just sold raw dough. They liked it raw just as much. I never sold my grandma’s brownies. That seemed wrong; practically sacrilegious.

There were four girls. Early on, they realized their pot selling days in the dorm were numbered. They petitioned to move off campus at the end of the first semester. They moved into one side of a duplex. On the other side of the duplex lived a young recently married couple.

My friends asked me to water their house plants while they went home for spring break. There was big patio area between the two units where some of their taller plants were.

The husband of the couple was lying on a lawn chair. I called his name. He didn’t answer, I thought maybe he was asleep. I walked closer, then I saw the needle.

He was dead at twenty. He had overdosed. I did not know he used heroin. I’d seen one other person overdose from heroin when I was still in high school. He was only 18.

Death by an overdose of drugs; what a tragic waste of  life. That was 40 years ago.

Now, four decades later, our nation is experiencing a serious opioid overdose epidemic.

I don’t sell cookies anymore. My job is in the field of improving public health; primarily through outreach and education of addiction prevention. Learn about recognizing hidden addiction; it really is a big deal.

Please Give a Damn!

Well I’m probably going to piss people off . Oh well. I just came back from my walk. For the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting the “turtle-bite trash” for my citizen-science report. My three faithful readers know I have been picking up plastic trash for years.

Yes, there are people paid to clean the beaches but they don’t pick up the trash that is at the water line and mixed in with the sargassum. They usually only walk on the dry sand.

This morning, I could hear the gulls screeching insanely before I  even got onto 14th street. 500 footsteps later and I could see the carnage. Dead bodies everywhere as far as the eye could see and the gulls were fighting over every morsel of fresh fish flesh.

Shrimping season began on July 16th; bycatch was evident all over the beach. Little fish, mostly about the size of my hand were covering the beach, lying dead every few inches.

Different varieties, and some were as big as 12″ long. It seemed like a slaughter house for fish. I have been walking on this Gulf Coast on and off for my entire life and I have never seen anything as pathetic as what I saw this morning. I know I saw the shrimp boats super close to shore yesterday. I took photos of them. They looked unusually close.

Bycatch ratios can vary from 3 bycatch to 1 shrimp and in places 15 to 1; 15 bycatch for 1 shrimp. This seems like an unacceptable ratio. At what point does this become a problem worth caring about? Why do that many fish have to die so that people can eat shrimp?

Does the fact that the boats were so close have anything to do with the high quantity of bycatch? If so, they should not be allowed to be that close. Problems can be solved when solutions are available. Dead fish don’t have much of a voice. I will try to speak for them.

The dead angel fish bothered me the most. Their innocent little bodies were pleading.

They can remind us; our actions as consumers have consequences. Please give a damn.

It’s Your Own Damn Fault — maryelizabethtrevino

“If you’re not having fun, it’s your own damn fault” my grandfather proclaimed at his 80th birthday party when he was implored to make the obligatory toast. The large, exuberant crowd quieted, the adults raised their champagne flutes, and the great-grandchildren lifted their punch glasses. Clink, clink; take a drink. It was true. The party […]

via It’s Your Own Damn Fault — maryelizabethtrevino

My Sweet Baby

When I was 4 years old, my mom had a baby. He was another brother. I already had two. I was wedged between my older brother and my next brother. An almost equal split with 16 months one way and 19 months the other.  I don’t remember my mom being pregnant with my second brother; I wasn’t even 2.

I vividly remember mom being pregnant when I was 4. I was mature enough to notice how her body shape drastically changed. I was attentive enough to be aware of an atmosphere of anticipation. My parents were very young and already struggling financially and emotionally with juggling the demands of three curious little children all under the age of 5. Another one would surely increase the noise level.

I don’t remember having troubled thoughts about it. I’ve always been optimistic. I was very anxious to meet the new person. Daily, I played with both brothers. I probably had dolls. We had a dog I loved. I remember thinking that this baby would be better than anything I had ever played with before, even better than our completely perfect dog.

He was born and when he came home from the hospital, it was love at first sight. He was incredibly cute and endearing and he loved anything and everything I did for him. I got to feed him a bottle. I got to help change him. I was allowed to dress him in his baby clothes all by myself. He was my very own baby. We even slept in the same room.

The years went by. We adored one another. When he was about 22 months old, mom had another baby. This baby was a girl. She had a whole team to shower her with love. She was not my baby the same way that my baby brother had been.

I had become a student in school when she was the born. I loved school.

My baby brother had a series of life events that are not fun to remember. At 14, while on vacation in another state, he broke his leg very badly. He suffered a great deal from the break and the re-break to repair the damaged leg. He was never the same after that. He drifted far away from me and towards drug-seeking behaviors that I didn’t comprehend.

Sadly, he died about 14 months ago. He had a cancerous brain tumor that his doctors have now suggested could have been growing for a very long time.

I wish I would have known how to help him. No matter how far he drifted, there was always a part of me that never stopped thinking of him as my sweet baby.

He was born in the month of July. Dear, dear Brother, I love you and miss you.

Rest in peace my sweet baby.

Independence Day

Step away from the war-torn edges, of the holes in your once brave heart.

Walk away from the lifeless ledges, till you’re ready for this slippery part.

Just south of that final, last layer; in your truly not-empty chest;
lives another secret chamber; you are ready for the rest!

Youth makes us much too eager. Pride makes us way too bold.
It takes hard-times to fully grasp, the truths you were quietly told.

It’s more than flesh you desire, more than a warmish hand to hold.

Hearts bought and set with gemstones,  bound in rings of high-karat gold,
come wrapped in paper promises; fitted sheets that just won’t fold.

They leave an empty hollow, a hunger for a more honest road.

Can skin explode when hearts implode? Is the fantasy storybook hero                            – just a yellow-bellied, horny toad?

Turn away from lies and false hopes toward a future that’s actually true.                           Let the next path be the right path. Get going, find what’s real for you.

Take this time to try and figure; just whose life you want to hold.

The only things that truly matter, cannot be bartered or sold.

Before you are old, go break the mold.

Happy Independence Day.

 

Equally Important

I heard a true and tragic story from a good friend at a festive Friday night gathering.

My friend was not aware that I’d bought a place on the island. I told her my East End address.

She shared that her mother-and-law (MIL) grew up in a house that survived the 1900 Storm on 14th & M. The house is still standing. Her MIL lived a long life but died in her 90’s. This is part of the story:

During the epic 1900 Storm, her MIL had been tied to the rafters to ride out the storm. Obviously, she survived or she would not have lived to create offspring.

She was 3 years old and her sister, who was 4, was also tied up there. They both survived the onslaught of the wind and water.  A few weeks later, her sister died of cholera.

I drove along Avenue M. I tried to remember which address she had said was the one for the house.

The house I live in is one-half a block closer to the Gulf. Now, there is a Seawall to protect the island.  In 1900, there was no Seawall, and after the 1900 Storm, a large part of the island’s elevation was raised. Over 8,000 human beings had died. It was a true disaster.

My mind keeps spinning back to the scene requiring parents to tie two little girls to rafters. Were they seated back to back on the rafter, to so they could be supportive of each other, literally and figuratively?

Do you have them lie down on the rafter, face-up; to keep their noses as far out of the water for as long as possible? Do you let them lie down on their tummies so they can hug the rafter and see each other and possibly see what is happening below them? Everything I imagine makes my mind cringe and my heart mourn. The scene haunts me.

I have a three and a half year old grandson and an almost 4 year old granddaughter. (Cousins) I can only imagine how they would shut down if I told them I was going to have to tie them up to save their lives.

I know how fearful I myself felt as a 4 year old on July 25, 1959 during Hurricane Debbie.  Tropical storms cause the barometric pressure to fall. This drop can cause pregnant women go into labor.

My mom went into labor and had to ride off to the hospital in a fire truck. The storm water had become too deep to drive a car through. That image is still seared in my memory, as clear as if it were yesterday.

I felt horribly anxious watching her ride away, leaving me behind.  My grandpa was with me but kids during storms are already stressed.  I can’t imagine how I would feel if I had been tied up to the rafters.

Today, we don’t have to wait to evacuate. Pay attention to the forecast. Take precautionary measures.

Understand that the truly tragic part of this 1900 Storm story is that the sister dies of Cholera after living through the hurricane. Staying out of harm’s way after a storm passes, proves to be equally important.

Trashed

I went up to the Seawall this morning to watch the sunrise on the first day of my 62nd year. I live a few blocks from the beach and I try to watch the day break when I am on the island; my way of self-care.

What initially caught my eye was someone sleeping on the sidewalk, just inches away from the road.

They must have had way too much of some mind-numbing substance to make it the 15 more feet down to sleep on the sand. I didn’t get close enough to disturb them or to even identify the gender of the sleeper. I quickly headed down the steps to the recently re-nourished beach. Before the beach was widened, there was no sand here. It had eroded.

I am grateful to have this new wide beach to enjoy.

I not only go to the beach each morning to watch the sunrise, I go to pick up trash. Peacefully,  walking East to welcome the dawn; on my way back, I pick up the discarded debris. I arrive before the Park Board clean-up crew begins their morning rounds. There’s always plenty of trash. It is an easy way to do a Daily Good Deed; that call-to-service was planted deeply during the founding moments of my life.

For the last three weeks, I’ve noticed trash that has distinct bite marks in it. I’d been shown examples of what turtle bite marks look like when I was studying Marine Resource Management at Texas A&M Galveston. Plastic kills turtles.  I began to photograph the plastic before I pitched it into the trash.

The amount of turtle bitten trash grew extremely alarming. I have been walking this same stretch of beach for 5 years now.  I contacted a professor that I had at TAMUG.

He is retired but still works on Coastal Issues. He encouraged me to start collecting all the plastic pieces and having them professionally photographed to document what I was seeing. Verifiable evidence is vital to fighting for any cause.

On this morning’s walk I saw the same kind of container multiple times. It is mustard colored and looks like maybe mustard is what it is used for. Who dumps their trash in the ocean? I posted a photo of it on Face Book and one of my childhood friends suggested that it may be from a Party Boat. She had once been on a fishing trip and saw the galley worker throw an entire garbage bag overboard. Sea- Traitor.

There are no polite, printable words for such blatant disregard and disrespect. I will continue to pick up the trash. I will try and figure out how to reduce  how our oceans are being commercially trashed.  Remember the campaign that got people to stop throwing trash out their car windows? Behavior can change. Promote solution- based change.

Heading back up the steps to leave; the sleeping person was no longer prone on the sidewalk. Squatting on the bottom step, she was visibly still under the influence; urinating on the sand. She was still trashed.

On the Other Side — maryelizabethtrevino

We were sitting on the other side of the fence. It was a huge event. The list of speakers was impressive; government officials from Federal, state and local levels; Vice President Biden included. Heavy-hitters. Among the gated, VIP, chosen crowd; there was an attractive young lady. Clearly, she had invested time, energy and money selecting […]

via On the Other Side — maryelizabethtrevino