Monday, May 29, 2006

telling the truth

If you tell the truth, have one foot in the stirrup. - Turkish Proverb
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. - 1 Timothy 6:10

That Turkish proverb was in the signature of a fellow rabble-rouser in my area of the country, where people are bulldozing trees right in the floodplain across town. Here in my backyard, they mine sand with no state-mandated reclamation, and there are rampant violations of the one regulation they do have - that they can't discharge into a river: sand leaches into the rivers, turning it into a brown muddy mess, and damages the aquatic ecosystem (all this is documented by studies, photo & video evidence). Much of this 20-40,000 acres of forest upstream of Houston will soon turn into development or mine pits - and downstream is Lake Houston which provides the city's drinking water. Do we not realize that these forests not only protect our water, they protect people from catastrophic flooding? Flooding will inevitably get worse in this bayou floodplain city as developers and sand mining operations continue to bulldoze and plunder with glee. Economic gain can not be blindly pursued at the expense of the common good. (Photo of sand mine on the San Jacinto River (c) 2006 Bryan Carlile/Legacy Land Trust)

New York City decided it was cheaper to permanently protect over 140,000 acres of upstream forest than it was to build a new water treatment facility (this was reported in the World Bank/WWF 2003 report "Running Pure: The importance of forest protected areas to drinking water.") The cost to build a new plant was $6-8 BILLION plus $300-500 million annual operating costs. Preserving the land was $1-1.5 Billion over ten years. Houston likes its pork barrel projects though, in my researching sand mining I found that Houston spends $7.3 BILLION annually on transportation compared to the next big TX spender Dallas at only $1.9 billion, and all the rest fell under that. Transportation/road construction and concrete appear to be the largest purchasers of sand and gravel. Houston also just built several new water treatment plants on Lake Houston. Was protecting the forest ever considered? I seriously doubt it.

The Observer newspapers ran my OpEd this week and it turned out great. You can read it here - this is a Scan so it will open a GIF file - or here is a link to the online version. I'm writing a piece for website on sand mining also that will be out soon. Some fascinating stuff coming out of my research...

I think it's interesting that Pulitzer-prize winning Times Picayune journalist Mark Schleifstein's warnings of what could happen in New Orleans with a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane were called "disaster porn" by his colleagues and editors - until afterwards when his Nostradamus-like predictions came true. People need to realize that destroying the environment, and building in the floodplain without adequately protecting a lot of greenspace is not only unwise, it is dangerous. I met Mark a few days after Katrina at the SEJ Conference (Society of Environmental Journalists), and seeing the Katrina video footage at the conferences opening session brought tears to my eyes - I don't watch TV so it was the first time I'd seen it.

Why is it so hard for people to use a little foresight?

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I'm starting to recognize that the perfectionism I live with daily in my life is an addiction I need to deal with, and it masks a deep insecurity and feelings of unworthiness and that I have to justify my existence and do everything "right." I have always hated Phariseeism - ie doing the outward motions of religion without having the heart - and thought it applied more to violent religious people or fundamentalists (LOL) and never thought it applied to me. But this one thing I read about perfectionism in my daily devotion book struck me - it's a different manifestation of the same phenomenon. Somehow I feel I must perform and do things "right" to be "ok". That was a deep one for me, and something I need to ponder more.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

i hate writing

I have discovered I hate writing! I love being a writer, I love traveling, I love slogging through swamps and forests and beaches and seeing wildlife even if I get poison ivy on my ankles because I wore Tevas when I should have worn hiking boots. I love interviewing & researching and I love seeing the final product and reading through a piece I wrote that does my subject justice. I still get excited to see my byline. But the process of sitting down and actually putting word after word is painful and not fun at all. Although sometimes it just flows and that is nice :)

There's actually a quote I'd read by a writer saying something similar, and I just looked it up and found it. When asked if he enjoys his work, writer George RR Martin said:"Not especially, no. .... Mostly, it's a struggle. I enjoy having written."

Well back to the painful struggle... bleh.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

florida and the everglades

It's good to be home. I am super busy but wanted to share some photos of the week-long trip. More updates soon.

Ocean crashing at Juno Beach.
Loggerhead sea turtle tracks. The group of journalists witnessed a nesting loggerhead Friday evening around 10pm. That same night, a total of 65 loggerheads nested there! The next evening I went out on the beach with my friend Kelly Stewart who is studying Florida's nesting leatherback turtles and we saw one! Hadn't seen one of them since Costa Rica in '99 and it was very, very cool. As we traversed the beach on the ATV and using a night-vision scope, we saw dozens of nesting loggerheads!

Water lettuce on the shore - Everglades' Kissimmee River restoration area. They have "resnaked" the river from having previously straightened and channelized it.

Kissimmee River - Florida Everglades.

Kissimmee River - Florida Everglades.

Two alligators in Everglades National Park.

Lake Okechobee.

Gator in Everglades National Park.Locks along the Kissimmee River, evidence of the Corps of Engineers "progress" before they realized they'd forked things up and spent millions of dollars doing so.

Lake O (Lake Okeechobee that is)
courtesy of Anthony Judnich,

Lake O, Lake O
It's full of schmung
Lake O, Lake O
Its fish have lungs

Lake O, Lake O
An eco-terrorist's dream
Dynamite that levee
Watch it flush downstream

Lake O, Lake O
Like a New Orleans
Make predictions now
Whispers turn to screams
Lake O, Lake O
Can anyone foresee
Or to the hell with it all
I'll see you at Lightsey's

Lake O, Lake O
Lake. . .oh, shit

all in a day's work

Today I went out with my videographer to shoot video of the Spring Creek Greenway and we stumbled upon this young fawn hidden in the vegetation near a spring. This was a first for me, as I've never seen a young fawn in the wild! Very cool.

White-tailed deer fawn

Watercolor effects on a photo I took today at a cypress swamp in Texas.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


i'm in a bad mood! well it was a sweet day, mother's day anyway - the kids made me bead bracelets that say "savie loves mommy" and "sammy loves mommy" (one each) with lots of colored beads. we went to church, went to ihop then went to see Hoot the tree hugging save the owls movie. Sav had read the book and wanted to see it - it was cute. i am looking forward to another adventure to get my mind off things, to run away from life and have an adventure and maybe meet some interesting new people... i hate inner turmoil and conflict, i can drive myself crazy. i want what i can't have always always always... that is the oedipus complex for ya. (read scott peck)! this is the kind of thing i'd talk to daline about... :(

the two cutie pies that made me a mama...

My sweet and beautiful daughter, dressed up for Spanish Cultural Fair at her school, Holy Trinity Episcopal School.

Sam asleep with his Pokemon.

i miss you daline!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Wendee tagged me and so now I have to reveal the innards of my soul... no wait I do that already, the innards of my fridge, closet, purse, nightstand and car! Yikes. Let's see.

Fridge: Carob Peppermint Soy Ice cream (the most delish in the world), leftover veggie soup and roasted veggies, free range eggs, soy creamer, frozen coffee beans, can of black beans (frijoles Negros!), lots of bags of bulk flours, nuts, etc from Whole Foods.

Purse: a woven circular change purse from Costa Rica that holds money and credit cards, my cell phone, 2 kinds of Burt's Bees chapstick, 3 checkbooks, Cherry Pie LARAbar.

Closet: a rack for shoes (running shoes, Tevas, sandals etc), a huge box full of old letters that I keep, a box full of random things purchased for future presents, clothes (duh), my North Face sleeping bag.

Car: Rubber hip waders, rubber boots (you never know when you're going to need to slog through a swamp!), Burt's Bees Almond Hand Creme, a silver window shade (it gets hot in Houston's summer!), oodles of Starbuck's napkins (they always come in handy!), odor neutralizer spray...

Night Stand: Bible, The Purpose Driven Life book, my Gratitude Journal, my Prayer Journal, my regular Journal (LOL), a candle and a really cool little lamp, and the small Yine pots I bought in Peru, including the one sweet Yashira gave to me... very special moment, very amazing little girl!

Now, then... I will be flying to Florida to attend the Scripps Howard Environmental Journalism Workshop next week, and very much looking forward to seeing the Everglades, beaches, sea turtles, and various other things in Southern Florida. Los of good things going on - the kids' school Jungle Book play is here in a few minutes so I gotta jet! It was really, really cute (this is the 2nd performance). Love you all! Peace and flowers and joy!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

love is a mystery

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate. – Thornton Wilder

life is mystery, love is a mystery. the past two weeks have been a trip. i find closure on a past relationship that ended on a very bad note - i found that i had not forgiven the grave injustices and so i made a conscious effort to do so, in communication with the person. i realized at first how angry i still was, which was rooted in unforgiveness. i prayed and gave that over to god, offering forgiveness. yet trust is not there and never will be. it had been over a year since the end of that relationship, and i had not dated anyone since. i think that in retrospect my unforgiveness perhaps was blocking me from receiving love in other venues. forgiveness was something i needed to grant and i didn't even realize it. at the same time an old love came into my life in the same week. this is a person whom we left on good terms and just lost touch. nearly twenty years and yet the same connection surfaces, the same relaxed natural bond and friendship. weird. good. life is crazy/beautiful. no matter what life has in store it just seems like some cosmic blockage has been removed and i will value this friendship deeply.

ps i borrowed the thornton wilder quote from my friend wendee's blog, the digital fridge door... cool name she has, no?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Check out this Time Magazine article - this guy is right on!
"My Problem with Christianism" by Andrew Sullivan.,9171,1191826-1,00.html

This relates very much to my book I'm working on, The Fish Wars: How Evolution & Christianity Can Make Peace, and how Christians have taken over the intelligent design and anti-evolution "movement"... as if it were a Christian movement. As if there can BE a Christian "movement" other than teaching of the Way of love, peace, grace, truth.

"So let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism."


"That's what I dissent from, and I dissent from it as a Christian. I dissent from the political pollution of sincere, personal faith. I dissent most strongly from the attempt to argue that one party represents God and that the other doesn't....The word Christian belongs to no political party. It's time the quiet majority of believers took it back."

Monday, May 08, 2006

love/hate relationship

I am recovering from a hard drive crash and whew, what a pain that was. Interestingly I had just bought an external hard drive backup in January and had been faithfully using it, but when it came down to it, for some reason, it had only backed up the computer files the first time - in January. The "restore" disk I'd made two copies of didn't work (and the Best Buy repair guys were the ones to attempt to use it - though that is a whole 'nother story as they took 6 days to do what should have taken 2! I was not impressed at all).

Luckily, I also had all the important files saved on CD. In the end, I needed them! Make backups of your backups is the bottom line... In the end the most debilitating thing was that I lost 3 months worth of emails, & since email is "work" this was really frustrating. I have lost several people's email addresses though if I had them in my Address book I got it... not anyone recent.

The other thing was the cost - eegads. I have to work super duper extra hard now (hence I am up at 2am cranking out the queries...)! It sucks eggs. So, computers... they make me want to jump up and down on top of them in frustration. But I can't live without it! It's a true love/hate relationship.

Next week I fly to southern Florida for the Scripps Environmental Journalism Institute that I was selected for - we'll visit the Everglades (which I am writing about in an article) and other places. The program looks way cool and I am super excited to visit a friend from "ConGen" (Conservation Genetics workshop) from a couple years back. I'll hang out a couple extra days after it ends, and visit my sea turtle biologist bud Kelly - we're going to go see nesting sea turtles (one of my favorite things in the world)!! I've seen them in Australia, Costa Rica, California, Hawaii, and Texas... amazing creatures.

(PS photo of Elephant Butte Lake, NM)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

spill the beans

i saw a glimpse of a rainbow
through the clouds today
but when i turned around
it was gone
-- WNH

I saw this thing on Bohemian Girl's Blog about spilling beans and I thought it was kinda cool. So I'm going to spill some beans.


1. I always take showers and baths exclusively by candlelight.

2. Once a stranger put a gun to my head, threatened to kill me, and pulled the trigger. Then he laughed and walked away.

3. I punched my stepdad in the nose and then ran away from home in 9th grade. I spent the night in my parents car in the garage but they didn't know I was there until the next day. They didn't call the police.

4. For a week during the summer after 11th grade, a friend and I lived on the streets of Portland, Oregon and hung out with the streetkids, danced til the wee hours of the morn in clubs, slept in abandoned houses and ate $1 bowls of rice and fortune cookies at the Chinese food restaurant.

5. Once in 10th grade I was really mean to a girl who used to be my friend. I turned her friends against her. To this day, I still feel bad. I've never done anything like that before or since. I want to find her so I can apologize.

6. When I was six and seven my favorite place to hang out was the graveyard next to my mom and stepdad's house. I used to read the tombstones and take flowers from graves that had a lot and put on those without any.

7. I love to be alone.

8. My best friend is not talking to me and I honestly don't understand why.

9. I had two children without any medication during childbirth, one at home. I admit sometimes I think women that have drugs in childbirth are wimps. However, if I had another child, I don't know if I could be as brave as I once was.

10. I hate judgmental people. There is a difference between discernment and judgment. All should be ruled by love.