As promised

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Long overdue but not forgotten. Thoughts plague my brain still, despite the news having dropped off the front page of SFGate.com.

Let’s talk about the oil spill here in the Bay Area. Here’s a high level of the events.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Cosco Busan, an 810 foot long container ship, collided with the base of the tower on the western span of the Bay Bridge.

When I first heard this breaking news story, my first worry was for the bridge. Memories of the Bay Bridge collapse in 1989 are still very clear in my head. The Bay Bridge is a major thoroughfare for the people of the Bay Area, and even so much as a lane closure can affect traffic for the entire Bay Area. It’s one of those roads that can never close because even in the heart of the wee hours of the morning, there is heavy traffic. If you’ve seen the bridge, the western half is beautiful, the eastern span looks like Tinker Toys. That’s because it had to be hastily repaired after the earthquake because of all the reasons above. It ain’t pretty, but almost twenty years later, the tinker toys still stand. The ship, however, hit the “pretty” side.

So, as I said, first, I worried about the bridge. Reports started to come out that there was no apparent damage, as the intricate fender structure on the bridge towers to prevent such issues performed as designed. But then soon, another problem came to light. The collision had ripped a 160 foot long hole in the side of the ship at ten feet above the water line. News reports came out that said the ship was leaking fuel oil, but that the crew had taken quick evasive action and contained the spill. They transferred oil from leaking tanks into other tanks. The Coast Guard reported that 8,000 gallons had spilled and action was being taken to begin clean up. Given that the Exxon Valdez spill was in the millions of gallons, all indications were that this was a non-event.

It seemed all was well. But that was not quite true. Here’s where the news reports start giving conflicting details. Finger pointing regarding delays in responding. Accusations about the ship’s captain and crew. Hostile reports of an uncaring Mayor who knew of the spill but left town on vacation anyway. I may never personally know exactly what happened or the truth of all the finger pointing, but I will do my best to report the facts as I know them with a fair peppering of my opinions.

At the end of the day, 58,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled into the Bay and within hours it was washing up on shore nearby at Crissy Field and Baker Beach. Due to the tide patterns, Marin (north of the Golden Gate) was particularly hard hit.

But here’s where it starts to punch me right in the gut.

I wouldn’t call myself an uber environmentalist, but I certainly do care a lot about the world in which I live. So I was torn up about what effects this spill might cause. The aquatic effects of all this is still fairly new stuff for me being a New Mexico girl. But this one part I “got” right away.

See, this time of year is crab season. During my first year in residence here, I was introduced to a happy Bay Area tradition. Fresh crab for Christmas dinner. My friend who adopted me in those early years would drive to Half Moon Bay on Christmas morning, buy crabs out of the boiling pots, bring them back and we’d dive in with fingers and teeth and happy yummy noises dunking sweet meat into melted butter and slurping it down.

And just before this accident, I’d heard the annual news reports that the crab fishermen had settled on this year’s price for crab and the season was ready to begin.

But wait. Now, we have a problem. We now have a toxic mess floating on the very water where the crabs are caught.

I believe the season is due to start December 1. But wait, you say, isn’t that enough time for the spill to be cleaned up? No, not really. See, the oil floats along for a while, then it sinks. And when it sinks, it contaminates those young crabs that would be prime for the taking in the month of December.

Over the weekend of November 10 and 11, I was in Bodega Bay. Located North of San Francisco, it was a fantastic getaway and of course, The Cute Boy™ talked about the spill on our ride as we went over the Golden Gate and stayed at an ocean side hotel.

While walking around, we saw stacks and stacks of crab pots, primed and ready to go out. I smiled in spite of myself. I do enjoy crab. We walked over to the visitor center and while looking at maps, overheard the woman there talking about the impact of the oil spill on her community. The crab fishermen are mostly union, so in an act of solidarity, the Bodega Bay fishermen agreed not to go out until the San Francisco fishermen can go out.

What this all means is that people who work really hard for a living are going to have a lot harder time this year making ends meet. At Christmastime no less. All because one guy had a really bad day at work (also a hard job. I don’t imagine steering a boat that big is any easy peasy thing to do) on a really foggy day.

On the way home from our trip to Bodega Bay, we drove down by Ocean Beach and saw people in hazmat suits cleaning up the mess. It really brought it right home to me. This was no longer something I saw on the news. This was real people with real issues fighting the good fight for real aquatic life in the area in which I live.

I have tried to find an exact number of birds they think were contaminated and can’t find a solid answer. Reports say some 20,000 have died. Many more have been cleaned up and some released back into the wild. Those numbers of the dead may be low because it’s hard to know how many were eaten by predators or sunk in the water. If eaten, the cycle of contamination continues.

Also, the tide surges can send the oil back to beaches that have been cleaned causing them to need to be re-cleaned again and again.

There are no two ways about it. This was a disaster. Not so large (on the Valdez scale) to garner much national coverage (tho my friend over at Live from Silver City, a resident of Washington DC mentioned it in his blog). But no less an environmental crisis. And a huge impact to the thriving fishing community of the Bay Area.

Latest salvo was that fishermen from Oregon brought in crabs to sell, but were soundly rejected. I also stand behind my local fisherman. And it pains me, but I’ve decided to stop eating any crab at restaurants until I hear that the local guys can sell their catch. It’s one of my favorite foods (I have it probably once a week) and crabs come from all over, but it’s my own personal act of solidarity.

As for me, I’d actually planned a trek to Half Moon Bay this year for annual crab feast. I’ll be watching the news and various sites to see if it’s safe. Fishermen haven’t gone out yet to set their pots, and I’d like to think there will be some testing for safety before the catch is sold.

It’s just a sad thing. One mistake with wide ranging effects.

image via

Little Green Apples

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A friend and fellow blogger declared it “irrelevant blog title day“, so who am I to argue?

I have a lot I could complain about but have been listening to myself lately as I talk and I realize…I complain A LOT. About a lot. I was able to eek out a “I’m thankful” post for thanksgiving, but really, I gotta stop whinging about everything. Cuz that’s annoying. And when you annoy yourself, that’s bad.

I certainly *could*. I have a raging headache. Had to deliver a presentation to my management team that I was unprepared for and went up there and made it up as I went. Hell, my Director asked me a really good question and I made up the answer. Ssh, don’t tell her. But honestly, it went ok. The headache will subside. The busy week will end. My cat will still love me (in her not very loving way that cats have…see the “I’m mad at you” photo at the end) and I get to go home at the end of the day and hug The Cute Boy™ (who inspired my blog title. It’s from a Roger Miller song. Cuz he’s made that way).

Mainly, despite all the little kerfuffles life brings, things are good. I think I may have outgrown my job. Having a week away from it really brought that into focus. Despite fighting the good fight for my team in management meetings, I find I don’t really care that much, and it’s not a good sign.

I wanna be a full time writer when I grow up. I want to get paid for my words. And this job isn’t it. But so far my writing doesn’t pay and this corporate blah does. So I get up every morning and keep making it work. Because I’m made that way.

And despite finishing my 50,000 word writing project, it’s not done. And I find my “incentive” to write is dropping. Bah! Time to find a new way to inspire myself.

Basically, I’m just checking in to say I’m still here. It’s back to work and crazy days. And I’ll just continue to “make it work”.

I also realize I’ve wandered away from the original intent of this blog, to be about New Mexico. So it’s time to wander back. I’ve been reading the ABQjournal with amusement regarding the uproar over the alien ads, got a good giggle over the misspellings on the historic marker in Santa Fe and was skeeved out to read about the third confirmed hantavirus case this year (I’m telling you, people, don’t touch the fuzzy wild things. Just don’t).

Oh Fair New Mexico, good to know some things never change. God I love where I come from.

Photo by Karen Fayeth

Giving Thanks

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Yep, I will join in with many of my fellow bloated-tum bloggers and give thanks for the bounty that was in my home yesterday. I have much to be thankful for. I actually try to get some gratitude in my day every day, but this feasting holiday is always a good time to go over the list again.

I had something of a rough upbringing and holidays were always a touchy topic. My dad didn’t see why my mom had to go through the bother and expense of buying up a bunch of presents and hassling with a tree and all of that. Birthdays were just another reason to spend too much money. But Thanksgiving, an eatin’ holiday, that was one my dad could get behind. Plus, his birthday was right around T’giving (and sometimes on the day) and he’d get an apple pie made just for him, so I guess that was a’okay in his book.

When I moved to California ten years ago, it was as much about getting away from the oppression as making a new start. I’m glad I did it, made my own life on my own terms. But that comes at a cost. For as much as my family makes me crazy, I love them. A lot. Probably more than they deserve. Anyhow, since I moved away, I rarely go back for the holidays, so that makes me a bit of an orphan this time of year. (Which, honestly, is probably better for all involved.)

So enter The Cute Boy™ into my life. This is good. I have a “date” on holidays. And what’s weirder, his parents live here. Close by. And even odder, he gets along with them. I mean, they have a healthy relationship. What the &^%$ is that!?!? Needless to say I both envy and admire the way he and his folks get along.

In the past several years for Thanksgiving I’ve gone to visit my sister who lives in Seattle. She’s the only family I’ll claim (and I’m the only one she claims). She has twin boys and they are adorable and a complete pain in the arse. But it’s been great. This year, The Cute Boy™ asked if we could spend Thanksgiving together since in the past years we’d gone separate directions for the holiday. At first, it pained me, a lot. I yearned to see my sister and brother-in-law (who I adore and is more family than my actual brother) and my twin nephews who light up my world. I was mad, pouty, pain in the ass about it until I “got over it” and got into having the holiday in my home. Hadn’t done that in a while.

So today, in my post feast hangover, I’m thankful that The Cute Boy™ is so wise. He was right. And look at me publicly acknowledging it! It was right for us to spend the holiday in this home we are making together.

Mother of The Cute Boy™ came over. We had big eats. We all cooked together in a companionable way. We ate together with big bites and laughter. It was easy. And comfortable. And no one yelled at anyone. And everyone had a nice time. And it was a holiday in which I felt (somewhat) part of “family”, and didn’t come out of “family” time with excruciatingly lowered self-esteem.

Even the feline had a nice time. She horked down a bunch of turkey and some wet food (a special treat for the holiday) and then sacked out on the couch like she was comatose, paws up.

And so today I’m thankful that family doesn’t always mean pain. It can mean peace.

I’m also thankful that when I spoke to my mom on Wednesday she was in good spirits. The holidays are tough for her since my dad passed, but her outlook is good. She planned to cook a small turkey and have my aunt and uncle over. My sister and her family are fine. My brother and his family as well. Everyone is fine.

I have a good life. I’m thankful for the blessings that are in it. Despite all my complaints and whinging about things (it’s just my way) I really am blessed.

And it’s just more proof that family isn’t what you are born with, it is what you make it. I have a rag tag bunch that I call family, but they are mine, and for each and every one, I give thanks.

I can has cheezburger?

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I warned in these pages a few weeks back that I’d find a way to lol cat my own personal feline.

The I can has cheezburger site now has an lol cat builder! It’s all super easy. < insert evil laugh here >

Herewith:

That damn cat loves the laundry basket…dork.

Anyhoo, been running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to wrap up work so we can all be outta da office next week (yay!). Also, hit a writing frenzy on my NaNo and am up over 30k words as of last night. It’s quite a turnaround for the girl who wasn’t even sure she was going to participate this year!

Note to The Cute Boy™: If I actually make it to 50k we is SO gonna celebrate!

Meanwhile, I have made two promises on posts that I’ve yet to deliver on. One, my thoughts and upset about the ecological disaster of a fuel oil spill that is really mucking up the Bay Area (and beyond) and completely blowing up the crabbing season. I’m so angry, sad, and a lot of other emotions that I’m not sure where to begin. I don’t think this story has gotten huge national coverage, but it’s a big deal. I have some things to say…soon.

And I promised photos from this past weekend in beautiful Bodega Bay. Hadn’t taken my camera out in a while, so I’m less than pleased with my results, but there are a few I’m willing to show amongst friends and all that.

My trip to Bodega Bay fuels some of my emotions about the oil spill.

More, I promise. Right now, I’m at the beck and call of a Senior Director and his current bad mood.

Happy Friday all!

Shusshing the demons

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I have made it no secret here on these pages that there have been tumultuous times in my life recently. Work. Personal. Mental. Emotional. Physical. You name it, I’m tweaked out on it.

I’ve been sort of at a white knuckle, nail biting, not sleeping place lately which kicks off lots of crazy internal demons. Old stuff, way back machine stuff.

But I refuse to let the demons win, so I’m fighting the valiant fight to put da monstas back in da cage.

In the past, I’ve fought all of this alone. I’m sort of used to doing this myself. I’ve not had much in the way of supportive partners in my life, to be honest.

Until now. The Cute Boy™ is here. And he’s a good man.

Yesterday he told me he had a surprise. I was too tired, weak and demoralized to fight very hard. “Okay,” I said and went along for the ride.

The Cute Boy™ had a good surprise up his sleeve.

See, I’ve studied a lot of “woo woo” stuff in my life, from one extreme to the other with varying degrees of success. Several years ago I took a Learning Annex class on walking a labyrinth. It’s a form of walking meditation that I really liked.

When I can get my monkey mind to meditate, it usually helps. A lot. I’ve been talking at starting meditation again for a long while but not doing anything about it.

So The Cute Boy™, either tired of me flapping my lips at meditation and not really doing it, or because he’s worried about my freaked out ass, took me up to San Francisco yesterday to Grace Cathedral. They have not one but two labyrinths there, one inside and one outside.

Walking in I was unsure if I was in the right mental state to do this thing. Walking out two and a half hours later after three walks and much thoughts, I realized some good thinking had been done.

I slept better last night. My sister called this morning. She’s worried about me. She said, quite surprised, “wow, you sound MUCH better”.

Those crazy ancients might really have been on to something….

And it’s confirmed…The Cute Boy™ is a keeper.

(this is the Native American “man in the maze”, which is also a labrynth)