Happy 50th Birthday to the Clean Water Act!

A TRIBUTE TO USEPA REGION 3 EMPLOYEES PROTECTING WATER QUALITY FOR 50 YEARS!

by Stan Laskowski

Retired EPA R3 Attorney Deane Bartlett celebrating clean water!

In the early 1970s the waters of the Middle Atlantic States were polluted to the extent that swimming and fishing were often very limited. Fish kills were not uncommon and migratory fish were constrained from reaching their spawning areas due to lack of dissolved oxygen cause by excessive pollution. Major industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants often only had the most basic treatment and, in some cases, the sludge from these plants was dumped in the Atlantic Ocean. The public found these conditions to be unacceptable, and environmental protection often ranked as one of the top issues in public opinion polls. The public made their dissatisfaction known in various ways, including public demonstrations. Our political leaders responded by creating the US Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in late 1970, and in 1972 passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act, giving EPA and its state partners broad powers to address these water pollution problems.

This article is a “shout out” to the hundreds of Region 3 employees who have protected the waters of the Middle Atlantic States during the past 50 years since the passage of the 1972 law. These employees came from many disciplines — engineering, science, law, administration, public relations — and were employed in numerous roles in Region 3. Included in the joint team efforts to protect water quality were inspectors, lab personnel, quality assurance experts, grant writers, permits and enforcement case developers, lawyers for negotiations, stream monitoring and modeling experts, and administrative support staff.

The water quality problems that the Region 3 staff have addressed over the years have been extremely diverse. Some examples of these problems include protecting the nation’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay; controlling acid drainage from coal mines; creatively processing construction grants to wastewater treatment plants; protecting wetlands; responding to emergencies; ending ocean dumping; ensuring environmental justice; finding ways to predict emerging water quality problems and developing methods to measure water quality progress. 

Of course, EPA Region 3 had plenty of partners in this quest: state agencies, EPA Headquarters, other federal agencies, consultants, the regulated community, and leadership from politicians at all levels. Through much teamwork and hard work, these Region 3 employees and their partners have created an environmental legacy of which they can be very proud. The public can enjoy cleaner water for drinking, fishing, and contact recreation as a result of their fine efforts. Current and future EPA employees will build on this legacy as they maintain water improvements and address emerging and future challenges. I wish them well. 


Stan Laskowski has had a very fulfilling 54-year career in the water field. A sampling of his roles includes: hydrologist for the USGS (1968-1972); NPDES permits/enforcement (1972-1980); Superfund Director (1980-1982), Deputy Regional Administrator (1982-1997); lecturer/advisor at the University of Pennsylvania [2001-2017]; Global Water Alliance founder and current VP (2006-present).

pam lazos 9.25.22

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Going, Going,

Cape May, New Jersey

. . . gone.

Goodbye, Summer.

Hello, Autumn.

Fall arrives at 9:04 p.m. this evening.

Welcome,

Welcome, Autumn. 🍂

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See the Upside

Podcaster Nina Blaicher – photo courtesy See the Upside

If there is one over-arching human condition, it is that on some level we’re all broken.  A positive way to spin it would be to say we’ve arrived here on this planet at this time in history to work on our Souls, using our physicality as the means to learn lessons that will help us evolve to the next level.  If we accept that premise, life can become perhaps not easier, but somewhat more manageable.  Yet what do we do when the going gets tough?  What can we grab onto to pull us through?

Well, if you are Nina Blaicher, you’d say we need to do our best to see the upside of all life’s ills.  See the Upside is the title of Nina’s podcast, an experiment sprung from heartache and doubt and, because of Nina’s drive and determination, ultimately an adventure of spirit benefiting not only the creator of the experiment but everyone who wants to listen.

I had the serendipity to sit next to Nina on a flight to Salt Lake City and she shared a bit about her journey with me.  I’m always fascinated by the things that draw people up and out of their negative spaces. Talking with Nina I could see her gifts on full display so I asked her to join me on Green Life Blue Water for a look into how See the Upside got started.

photo courtesy See the Upside

Let’s start at the beginning.  Tell us your origin story. How did you go from being married in a happy relationship to a divorced mother of two trying to make sense of her life, and how did starting your own podcast become an escape pod in a time of crisis?

As with many things, it was a gradual process over time, and then an incredible awakening/turning point which led me to realizing that the marriage not only couldn’t be repaired, but that it wasn’t healthy for anyone in our family. It really is incredible how we can see things so clearly in hindsight but when we are experiencing them, they can be so difficult to realize. We get there when we get there, right? 

We are all active participants in what we allow and how we choose to live. Yes, we had very challenging circumstances in our lives that created incredible stress on our marriage and family, but it was clear to me that our dynamic was not one of respect and love and it simply wasn’t going to work anymore. I think most divorce is heartbreaking and hard. This was no different. But sometimes we realize that things simply aren’t going to turn out the way we expected, and that acceptance can be a really hard thing — but it does come. 

I began my podcast March of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic and also when my divorce was finalized. I actually started writing on Instagram first, writing about what I was feeling and how I was healing. It wasn’t anything I had ever planned to do, but it just kind of flowed out of me and turned out to be incredibly cathartic. Then, as I was exploring my own healing, stepping fully into my own personal growth and expanding my reach into exploring various modalities, I started meeting these incredible people that I wanted to share with others in a way that only something like a podcast would allow. I was always talking on the phone with my dear friend Kerry Degenhardt, a life coach, incredible friend, mother and daily inspiration and sounding board in life and in my own personal journey. We would have these wonderful conversations for hours about divorce, healing, growth and life, and manifesting and relationships, and we realized our convos were too good not to share so she agreed to be my very first guest and it just took off from there. 

That’s a totally organic beginning! So Kerry agrees to sit down for a chat. Then what happened?

Kerry and I had been exploring life after divorce and all the growth and challenge that comes along with it. Our conversations on the phone were so incredible. I wish I had recorded those! We could talk for hours about how we were hurting, where we were struggling, our hopes and dreams and how we were navigating recreating our lives in this unexpected life pivot. Our friendship gave me the platform to finally communicate, opening up about my feelings and feeling understood and heard in all of my messiness — just the open platform to dream, grieve, laugh and express. In many ways our friendship cracked open the real me. It taught me how to be authentic and vulnerable. Something I really didn’t know how to do and maybe didn’t even know existed. Now I can’t imagine being any other way and I’m cultivating this in my relationships. 

And you had no formal training or any background in podcasting?  

No. I figured out most of the logistics on my own. I did have graphic design background and I’ve always loved writing. But honestly, this whole thing has been a huge, beautiful surprise for me as much as for anyone else. I was never seen as being creative. No one ever said “you’re great at writing” or “you should do something like this”. It literally called to me and just flowed out of me. It drew me in in the most incredibly natural way that I can’t even fully describe and opened me up right when I needed it the most. 

What a wild ride life is and how incredible the gifts can be if you let go of what you expect things to look like, become open to infinite possibilities and allow yourself to simply follow your heart. I never followed my heart like this before in my life. But something was calling and now I listen to that inner voice. I trust that voice so much more. And it’s brought me to so many incredible places and helped me make really difficult choices. I can’t imagine a life not following that true north anymore.

I’m a big fan of following the lodestar and one’s own intuition, and listening to your show, it seems as though your guests feel the same. How do you secure your guests?

My guests primarily come to me in the same way that you and I met – through my life and just being out in the world living and connecting with incredible people. The universe has really dropped the perfect people at the perfect time, always aligned with something personally that I’m working to expand into as well. It really is magical. 

I’m SO committed to exploring doing life better, and I’m incredibly curious about how we can expand what’s possible, improve our life experience, become better people, live happier and fuller lives. In that exploration you just meet people who are experts in their fields that I am inspired to share with the world. I often feel like EVERYONE needs to know about this person. Let’s get this out there! This practice could change the world! Let’s go change lives! It’s so soul filling and fun. 

So you are following your bliss! Other than a few basic questions to get started, do you let your guests lead, or do you prompt them with your ideas of how the interview should go?

I take quite a bit of preparation time before my interviews. I spend 30 minutes getting to know them before we even record and we decide together the theme of the interview. I always want to KNOW the person who I’m talking to and usually, by the time we record, the guest is a friend and we’re connected for life! I make a list of questions around the topic and we agree together what direction we’ll go. Ironically, we almost never need the list and the convo flows in the very best organic way possible, but it gives us a road map. Each interview is unique, and you really have to be intuitive and go with how that person is to bring out their truth. So leading or allowing, whatever the connection calls for, that’s what I do!

The ideas really come from the guests themselves! Every single person on this earth has a purpose and a gift. And most of the guests have stepped into their calling and are embodying their truth and knowledge in the most magical way. They bring the inspiration to the table and it flows effortlessly. It’s so incredibly beautiful. 

I’ll also say that a lot of the ideas come from something I personally am working on in that moment and in area that I’m curious about and where I want to grow. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives, right? 

Right! It’s an adage for a reason. So you are 40+ podcasts in. Do you have a favorite guest?

Oh wow, I can’t imagine one, no. I love every single guest who’s been gracious enough to be on the show. Every single one has contributed something unique, special, valuable and life changing. Not only to the show, but to me personally. 

I do have a few repeat guests though, including Kerry who has been so pivotal in my life and Melanie who is my energy healer whom I adore and has healed me in so so many ways and Julie Kern who is an incredible person who helps women financially. I want everyone to work with these three women and experience the freedom and transformation I have experienced. It really has been incredibly healing. 

Being a physical embodiment of the things you teach always seems to be the most authentic way to live. To that end, do you think talk radio is a form of therapy and, if so, has it helped you work through anything in particular?  

Oh yes! I love love love podcasts and audio books. Every time I listen to something I get a new perspective, new motivation to change or uplevel or even just a new way to understand or reflect on life. I love learning and growing. When we share these conversations, we realize we aren’t alone on our journey and we find ways to navigate the hard, or become more compassionate, to connect more, or to just embrace a little more beauty in our lives. It’s all about constantly growing. By having these open conversations, we can inspire each other to do that and really just help make the world a more loving, compassionate, kind open place. We’re all in the same boat and when we are open about our struggles, healing can happen.  

That’s lovely and so true, Nina. By the way, what’s your daily routine look like?

Ha! I’m a Virgo and a first born, so routines are my jam. Although I will say that I love being inspired (or pushed!) to get out of my routine and try new things, it’s just not my natural way of being. 

I start my morning with Penny McAlpin’s 5:30 a.m. hot HOT Yoga. Every single flow is a spiritual and physical experience that I soak in and gets me aligned from the start. I have a full-time day job so depending on if I have the kids, I’m driving them to school and activities, meeting with my customers and business partners, fitting in a pod interview in the evening, and if it’s a really good day – some heart-filling time with my boyfriend to wrap it all up. I’m busy and have a full agenda, but I prioritize my time and make the things that fill my soul happen.  

I also work for an incredible company with the most amazing manager ever. It wasn’t always that way. I had a long hard journey to get here and I’m so grateful for this place I’m in now. So good. 

What has been your greatest podcasting lesson?  

When you let go, trust in your dreams and allow yourself to see the light within you, and listen to and follow your heart  – real magic can happen. Podcasting itself was out of reach for me, yet here I am. Trust that we are here for something incredibly important and purposeful and know the light within you is there, is real, and is just waiting for you to embody it and share it with the world. 

How has podcasting held up a mirror to your life and what does the mirror say?

For so many years I was living life at 30%. I did all the right things. I was perfect in so many ways, but it was a shell. You can’t live a full, connected deep life without vulnerability. Without honesty. Without sharing your truth. Truth is never perfect. It’s raw, messy and complicated, but it’s SO much more beautiful than what we were thinking the perfect version is. 

When we share that messy truth, that’s REAL beauty. I had to really dig that out of myself. To figure out how to let go of this perfect, curated, one dimensional version of myself and trust that what I truly am in my soul was going to be not only ok, but is how I’m supposed to live. And where I could find the very best relationships and life experience. 

That is my mirror to podcasting. I jumped in and trusted it, and I’m so incredibly grateful that I did. I love being messy. I love being real. I love sharing our heartache and struggles. That is real life, and that’s how we connect and get through. That’s how we love each other deeper and truer. 

I love that. I think we all live at 30%, maybe even less during this digital age. We’re so distracted all the time by our devices and it’s hard to stay present, but it seems you’ve managed that nicely with this platform. From where do you pull your inspiration?  

I pull inspiration from my life and relationships. Whatever I’m working through or someone I care about is working through is a topic that I want to explore. If we’re struggling with it, we can be sure someone else is, too, and having that conversation is important to share. 

What’s your perfect day look like?

Wake up, coffee, meditation, yoga, podcast interviews, lunch with my kids, podcasting and meetings with lightworkers, tennis and dinner with my boyfriend  evening at the beach with friends, Good wine. Ideally. I’m in Vero Beach, FL. 

What do your children think of their mom’s podcasting?

Hmmm. Not sure they quite get it. Lol. 

And to turn the tables with something you always ask your guests, what are you reading right now?

I always have SO many books going! But these are in my audible shuffle mix at the moment: 

Into the Magic Shop and The Go Giver. I love these two books so much. 

I also recently downloaded Rich Dad Poor Dad recommended to me by a podcast guest. Love love expanding my knowledge of investing and finances. 

What kind of music are you listening to right now?

Oh wow. I’m having a country music moment and the Zac Brown band is just the best. So uplifting, positive, about life, love, family and gratitude. I just makes me feel GOOD.  Homegrown, Chicken Fried are my favorites. I also love Great Day to Be Alive by Travis Tritt. 

Thank you so much for sharing your time with us today, Nina. I trust you will keep up the amazing work of spreading positive vibes for years to come.

If you want to stay in touch with Nina, here are a few links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seetheupside/

website: http://www.seetheupside.com

Insta – @see.theupside

pam lazos 9.16.22

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Under the Whispering Door

Wallace Price is a dick, a calculating, ruthless, yet brilliant lawyer,  A partner at his law firm, Wallace Price is otherwise friendless, joyless, and utterly without compassion, not even for his former wife whom he so carelessly ignored in favor of his job until she couldn’t take it anymore and divorced him.  

In T. J. Klune’s brilliant novel, Under the Whispering Door, all of Wallace’s faults are on display, but rather than be embarrassed by them, Wallace brandishes them like a sword of victory, smiling (sardonically, of course) upon them as if they were his birth rite, that is until a heart attack claims him and a Reaper, Mei, does the same, coming to collect his soul at his sparsely attended funeral and taking him to Charon’s Crossing, ostensibly a tea shop but more of a weigh station where recently departed souls get some much needed prep, along with three cups of specially made tea, before crossing to the other side.  

If some of this sounds familiar, that’s because the ferryman premise is pulled directly from Greek mythology. Charon, the ferryman from hell (Hades) was tasked with carting the souls of the dead across the River Styx (Acheron) to their ultimate resting place.  Relatives of the dead placed a coin in their loved ones’ mouths prior to burial so they could pay the fare, and if you didn’t have the coin, you were destined to walk the shores for a hundred years (purgatory, perhaps?).  In Under the Whispering Door, the job of ferryman falls to Hugo Freeman, a young black man who has been a ferryman since his own parents died, and like Mei, he sees dead people.  Hugo and Mei live with Hugo’s dead grandfather, Nelson, and Nelson’s dead dog, Apollo at Charon’s Crossing, a tea shop that serves living people tea and scones while also helping dead souls cross over into the afterlife.

There are other colorful characters filling these pages — not just colorful character traits but people of color and diverse sexual orientation which was one of the best parts of this book:  the way Klune paints diversity as a backdrop to life, never front and center or something worthy of controversy, anger, or any of the other emotions that so often intrude on LGBTQ conversations, but as an essential part of life’s fabric and in the same way nature Herself expresses diversity — effortlessly and without judgment or rancor.  While the characters sometimes discuss queer issues, it’s not supercharged the way living people discuss those same issues; rather the message is we should all just get on with living our lives the way each of us wants to; the rest is no one else’s damn business. 

I refuse to spoil this tremendous read by giving away any more plot points.  I will say that I was often moved to tears, and more often laughing out loud.  Under the Whispering Door is a mesmerizing work, a treatise on living and dying.  Granted you’ll still be left with questions about what’s on the other side — Klune doesn’t go there because how could he? he’s still alive — but he does leave you with a sense of joy and relief that you may not have had before you picked up the book.  I will definitely read this book again. In-joy.

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

If the universe speaks in riddles and the key to a happy life is to decipher the meaning of the universe, then Everything Everywhere All at Once is the owner’s manual. Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, before embarking on this inimitable journey to the many verses, I suggest you buckle up for safety.

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) run a laundromat in California.  Evelyn lives a life of stress and worry, running the laundromat, caring for her aging father, Gong Gong (James Hong), and rebellious daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and ignoring her husband, Waymond, all in an effort to stay sane and afloat.  

Waymond thinks life should be experienced through random acts of kindness — he puts goggley eyes on all the bags of washed clothes — something Evelyn hates thinking it puerile, not because she’s a mean person, but because of her hyper-stressed condition.  She’s either yelling at Waymond or ignoring him; she never laughs.

Their daughter Joy, aimless and disillusioned, has come out to her parents as gay, but Evelyn refuses to introduce Joy’s girlfriend Becky to Gong Gong and instead introduces Becky as Joy’s very good friend which angers Joy. Becky who is more like Waymond, let’s the slight pass unacknowledged.

There is an IRS audit, the auditor played by Jamie Lee Curtis who I assumed was wearing a fat suit, but who instead has renounced the beauty standards that women have been impossibly held to for so long and decided to just be herself — kudos, Jamie!

There is an Everything Bagel of Life — I’ve long suspected that an everything bagel might be the key to life, actually — and the world, left dangling on the precipice as it so often is these days, unless Evelyn does something to stop the great evil spreading across the many verses.

There is a lot of time travel.  

There are so many laughs that you may need to watch it again to catch all the things you missed from laughing.

And there is so much wisdom traded in laughter that you will come away sated on a hundred different levels.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity, according to the old adage, attributable to both Sun Tzu and Albert Einstein, respectively, and in Everything Everywhere All at Once chaos permeates every scene to brilliant hilarity.  

The most prophetic and useful moral of the movie comes from Evelyn’s husband(s) Waymond Wang when he is trying to recruit her to the cause, and it applies to each and every one of us no matter what we do, where we are, or where we are planning to go in this multiverse we call life:

Every rejection, every disappointment, has led you here to this moment.  Don’t let anything distract you from it.

pam lazos — 8.12.22

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Quarantenting — in Idaho

Grand Tetons, Wyoming

I keep getting glimpses of little moments:  my daughter, Morgan, filling the plastic bag with water which she will then hang on a tree branch, allowing the gravity-fed system to drip water through the hose and carbon filter and into another plastic bag, providing a few liters of suitable drinking water for us; me bent over the creek to catch water in the black metal/ceramic coffee pot which we will then boil for five minutes to kill the germs; the multitudes hiking the trails alongside us in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming — so many people we often had to step off the trail, allowing them room to jockey about, take photos, and grab children’s hands, while others queued up to take boat rides across Jenny Lake; riding down the road in my son, Ian’s vintage Jeep, the girls in a much newer model following behind, as the road curved and bent through the mountains, following the Salmon River in Idahoone of the deepest gorges on the continent — the dust clinging to the cream-colored vehicle like it was part of the paint job; my daughter, Arianna, singing, always singing, as we hiked up into the clouds or sat admiring a waterfall; Ian, all arms and legs and height, leading our little group up the mountain where we would eventually wade into an alpine lake so cold it took your breath away; the Sunbeam Cafe in Sunbeam, Idaho where two sisters and their mom served the most amazing food while other family members ran the outfitter, providing river tours and gear, boats, kayaks, whitewater rafts, an oasis of sustenance and conviviality for adventure-seeking travelers; so many small snapshots against the backdrop in my mind’s eye of mountains rising up to kiss the bluest of skies, all now part of my soul.

Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons

We spent a day in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and two days at the Atherton Creek Campground, frequenting the freezing but beautiful Lower Slide Lake, about a 20-minute drive from the visitor’s center for the Grand Tetons at Jenny Lake

Moose swimming in Moose Lake
Moose watching at Moose Lake, Wyoming

The campground was special, tucked away from the thousands of people who visit the Grand Tetons each year, and while we were amazed by the magnificence of those mountains, I was grateful to have done that leg of the trip first because the throngs were, at times, overwhelming. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
An archway made of moose and elk antlers, Jackson Hole
elk antlers

Contrast Jackson Hole with the Idaho wilderness which is synonymous with isolation, and you might reach the same conclusion.  Over the next five days spent camping in Idaho, we met barely a handful of people who had chosen, like us, to transport themselves across the rugged terrain of Salmon-Challis National Forest and call it a vacation.  I’ve not witnessed such quiet in a place since camping in Canyonlands National Park in Utah over 25 years ago — and I have no idea if Canyonlands is still as cloistered or has been, like most places on earth, overrun by humans — but I revel in the fact that some places like Salmon-Challis National Forest remain as too remote for people to cast an appraising eye in its direction.  

Panoramic view at Fall Creek, Idaho

There’s something magnificent about having such a place to yourself.  We hiked in the day then swam in a lake or rinsed off in the stream in the evening.  The Forest Service has built bathroom accommodations here and there in this vast wilderness and the three different ones we camped near were clean and well-stocked, not with running water, but with toilet paper and hand-sanitizer.  The luxury of having fresh water — even if you had to filter it — and a place to use the bathroom while camping cannot, IMO, be overstated.

multi-colored lichen

The trail to the Moose Lake, the alpine lake atop Wildhorse Creek Canyon that feeds the gorgeous Fall Creek waterfall where we camped for two nights was over the river and through the woods and meadows. Abundant wildflowers clamored for attention while a glimpse of a wild moose in the woods sent a momentary ripple of panic through our group.  The moose we had seen at Moose Lake in the Grand Tetons eating seaweed off the bottom of the lake was practically domesticated in comparison.  There,  dozen humans sat along the banks, watching him eat and speaking, if at all, in hushed tones as if we were all sitting in church.

Moose Lake, Idaho
Moose Lake, Idaho
the trail to Moose Lake

The wild moose we saw in Salmon-Challis was but a movement and a rack strutting along through the sunlit trees, a few moments and then gone, enough time for Ian to move the bear spray from the back pocket of his pack to the front.  Morgan had brought a bag of jingle bells to ward off bear, but none of us knew what to do about a moose other than “look big and stand your ground,” as Ian advised.  He said moose don’t scare too easily and “will trample you just because they can.”  They also don’t respond to noise like bears.  It’s good he saved the part about trampling until we got back to camp because as it was, Morgan stayed close on Ian’s heels for at least a mile or more after that sighting.  Coincidentally, the lake in the Grand Tetons was also called Moose Lake.  Apparently, the namers of these fine specimens didn’t think too much beyond the obvious when considering nomenclature since so many of the names for things were repetitive.

Trail head

The trip up to Moose Lake was about 4.5 hours.  I’ve no doubt my son could have done it without us in three, but he’d been here before and we tourists love our photos; plus, when we got into the higher elevations, we needed to stop just to catch our breath.

lupine

Wildflowers dotted every meadow and even some gravelly places where nothing so beautiful could have grown, but there, impossibly, they were, vibrant and vivacious.  The blossoms I will eventually learn the names of now that we’ve been introduced, as well as the rivers and tributaries that snaked and braided and climbed and fell in their never-ending journey to return to the source, and I will definitely go back and call them each by name.  Hello lupine.  Hello Indian paintbrush.  

Indian Paint Brush

In the ghost town of Custer, an old gold-mining town founded circa 1880 and ghosted by 1910, mining tailings lined the banks of the Yankee Fork, a major tributary to the Salmon River, along the roadway into town, a terrible blight on the landscape. The tailings were not pretty and neither what was left of the town, a sad sore on what was probably once a wild and beautiful part of the river, but from a historical perspective it was very interesting and the conditions that the miners and their wives lived under were grueling and precarious. 

My lackluster response after so many days in the wilderness was directly related to the tailings, I know, but I couldn’t put it out of my mind.  So much of our country’s land has been bullied into submission for the resources it holds, and once coerced into giving up its treasure, the remains are left sitting, like mining tailings aside a river, unsightly, unattractive, and definitely out of place.

An entire camping vacation and we never made a single fire. The smoke filling the air in Salmon, Idaho was enough to stifle any desire for one.  The Moose Fire had started July 17th, a few days before we were leaving to go to Idaho and see Indianola, a Ranger Station where Ian lived when he wasn’t on a hitch, but they had been evacuated from the site before we arrived and firefighters were still battling the fire, so much that a tent city for firefighters had been set up in a parking lot just off the main street in Salmon.  In a place so dry it seemed capable of spontaneous combustion, the carelessness of a few humans put over 1,000 firefighters’ lives at stake.

Bringing me back to where I always go which is — water.  Luckily, all of our campsites but the last one included a water feature and even that one was near the Yankee Fork, much prettier away from the tailings piles, but we had to cross the road and scramble down a craggy little hill to get to it which I did once, but didn’t repeat the effort since we were going out to dinner that night, to celebrate Ian’s birthday and mark the end of our lovely family vacation.  I can’t imagine constantly counting how many gallons of water I would need to have available for use each day for a family and then filtering enough to meet those needs as even with a stream nearby on most days, the arid nature of the West never leaves you, drying you out from the inside, and once home, it took a week for the inside of my nose to recover.

elk or moose carcass

It takes a lot of water to put out a fire, substantially less to quench your daily thirst, but that’s only the start.  We need water to cook, bathe, luxuriate and recreate, and we have water a-plenty in the U.S. — unless you are one of the 2.2 million people here that don’t have access to clean, safe water — so we don’t pay close attention to how much we use, how we acquire it, and how utterly lucky we are to have it delivered safely to our tap.

Water sustains life, there is no question — literally creating its own ecosystems and habitats since virtually everything else relies upon it.  What other element can claim such jurisdiction?  Slowly, I am resolving to be more like water:  flowing, with less insistence on knowing where I’m going, and a mind to just enjoying the journey, a tough thing in minute-to-minute world.

a fabulous breakfast at the Sunbeam Cafe

If you worry about how much water you unconsciously use every day and want to to cure yourself of that bit of wastefulness, may I suggest camping?  It’s the best kind of reset around. 

You can’t take it with you, they say, and while this is true, the smart ones among us know that you can take the feeling, that sense of place with you everywhere you go.  I feel Idaho in my bones now.  The endless slope of trees unto rock unto dust unto sagebrush which doesn’t just dot the land but consumes it, miles and miles of it abiding along open roads and plains, enveloping it like a mother with her newborn, holding the parched earth to her, sustaining life despite the lack of rain, the endless sun, the mountains climbing ever higher into the unbounded sky as if the world itself were infinite.  

8.8.22 — pam lazos

day is done
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The Grandest!

Starting our camping vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with a visit to the Grand Tetons where the view goes on for days!

Photo credit arianna rich

Looks like a bit of adventure awaits!🤩

Pam Lazos 7.22.22

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Evolve or Revolve — II

Canceled:  Independence Day — Because Women Have None

Twitter meme

Let me start by saying this is not my fight in the sense that I, personally, have something at stake.  I am past child-bearing years so the overturning of Roe v. Wade and all the restrictions on a woman’s reproductive system that come with it will not effect me, but if you are like me, let’s not make the mistake of thinking this mess is not going to impact our lives because failure to fight such moral turpitude is complacent, and complacency is how the world goes dark.  If history has taught us anything, complacent people get kicked to the curb because they don’t think the world is coming for them until it’s too late.  Just ask any one of the 6.6 million people living in refugee camps.  

Barring divine intervention — like Zechariah getting the nod from Archangel Gabriel about his elderly wife, Elizabeth, and her pregnancy with John the Baptist — that ship has sailed for me, but not for my daughters, and for them, and every other woman I love, I can never stop fighting until, and this is the tricky part, we EVOLVE into the amazing race of humans we were destined to be, not this crazy, tribal, hunkered-down caricature version of ourselves we have become.  

Imagine living in Texas right now, having a miscarriage, and being too afraid to tell anyone because you think they might arrest you and send you to jail, leaving the kids you have at home to grow up motherless.  Under the Texas abortion ban laws, you experience one of the most crushing moments of your life and rather than being able to look to your friends and community for support in dealing with such an unmooring personal tragedy, you are forced to hide your pain or risk the tragedy becoming public.  Don’t think this is just conjecture.  As Brian Stevenson chronicled in Just Mercy, Marsha Colbey spent five years in prison after the state of Alabama determined she was liable for her stillborn child’s death.  The overturning of Roe v. Wade feels like a witch trial where the rules are rigged from the start.  

I had two miscarriages as a married woman after trying for years to have a baby.  If I had those miscarriages today, living in Texas, I may have ended up in jail.  So I ask all the whack-a-mole legislators in all the states that wrote such disgusting, anti-woman, anti-family, anti-society laws, why do you hate women, and why is your most fervent desire to see us fail?  Why do you want to see us busted, broke, and broken, choiceless, but for those you make for us; pathless, but for those you set our feet upon; and penniless, but for those few coins you’ll throw our way for household items (and then complain because too much money is being spent on household items).  Are we destined to go back to the 1950’s, or will this time around be more insidiously like The Handmaid’s Tale?  Another thing:  once you’re done legislating what we can and can’t do with our bodies, do you think any one of us will want to have anything to do with any one of you?

Why is it only men who get to exercise their free will?  How about all you chivalrous dudes who seem to think women need champions (we do, but not in the way you think); protectors (we do, but not in the way you think); and role models (we do, but boy, are there too few of those around); how about you take the hit on this?  If life starts at conception and you are so hell-bent on saving every last zygote — it takes until approximately the 11th week of pregnancy to become a fetus — let’s solve the problem by assuring those little eggs do not get fertilized until everyone is in agreement.  You get a fully reversible vasectomy and we’ll enjoy a brief respite from our birth control dilemma which is never 100% effective — another bonus provided by vasectomies!

You squeamish?  Try walking a hot minute in our shoes.  Do you think anyone who has actually had to get an abortion wants it?  No.  I’d wager in 99% of cases, a woman would have preferred avoiding it altogether (using 99% to account for statistical anomalies).  Further, it’s inconceivable to me that there is not one, but two potential sexual predators sitting on the Supreme Court right now, and until Biden was elected president, we had one in the White House, too. Imagine our joy!  And while the MINORITY of ultra conservatives are all high-fiving each other over Alito’s successful, strident, downright diabolical ruling, God is shedding ginormous tears at how satanic you all look to him right now.  The Supreme Court has decided to shove conservatism and Christianity down America’s throat while not one thing they’ve done in the last month looks like anything Jesus would do.  Paid parental leave?  Nah.  Post-natal and educational services for the child?  Fogetaboutit.  Worker training for the mother.  What are you nuts? 

Twitter meme

The most vexing thing to me:  why, when we are on the precipice of a sixth mass extinction, are we bringing more babies into the world?  You would think tapping the brakes on overpopulation is a good thing, possibly buying us a few more decades until we sort this climate change mess out — something we’ve only recently decided to take seriously.  While you were busy thinking about how to unravel 50 years of stare decisis, Supreme Court, Mother Nature has been busy plotting her revenge and no amount of judicial reasoning or false piety will save you when the real apocalypse arrives so if you were thinking you could hide behind the robes, think again.

I don’t want to be the last generation on a dying planet, I want to be the first generation on an enlightened one.  How I long for this fight to be over, yet, I think it’s barely started.  So many of my perceived longings are because I think, “when I have xx, I will be happy,” when the truth is, I don’t even know if I want xx anymore, or if I even ever wanted it, I just want to be happy.  Most others want the same, but no one can be happy if everyone else is telling them what to do with their bodies — NO ONE — not even the ones doing the telling.  In order to be happy, we must go directly to the source of light.  Reflections of someone else’s light don’t count, and legislation which curtails a woman’s light, by curtailing her right, is the worst kind of reflection because it reflects someone else views onto us, leaving our own somewhere around our feet, or shoved into a closet with the stuff we don’t want anymore but don’t have the heart to throw away.

It’s the 4th of July, a holiday to celebrate independence, but in America today, independence is now only afforded to the the pale, male, stale variety who mostly write the laws.  To be fair, I know plenty of men who are not of this variety, and to them I say, THANK YOU.  We women need you in this fight and it is the one small ray of light that has sprung from all this chaos:  women and their men are coming together in droves to SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER, something that doesn’t happen too often in America these days.

There are a few things too important to leave to the states:  the environment, civil rights, education, and a woman’s reproductive rights, to name a few, and we all — at least the ones of us who are still thinking clearly — need to get in there and make sure we keep those rights.

Today I feel worse about our country than I have ever felt in my adult life. I don’t know how we get back to center where most of us thrive other than for women of all walks and stripes to get out there and not just vote, but run, RUN, for local, state and federal legislative and executive positions, heck, you can run for dog catcher if it’s going to make all our lives better.  We need our voices to be heard and the time has passed to let the men do it for us.  It’s not going to be easy, and it will take heart and strength and courage, but we can do it — together.  

Remember:  no man has ever experienced the pain of childbirth so they have no idea what we are capable of withstanding.  And for all those men who think women should be relegated to the back of the bus, just wait until we find our voices — the concussive effect will be staggering.  If we stand together, ladies, we can not only find our way back to the reflection of our own pure light; we can be unstoppable.

It’s passed time to show the world what we can do. 

pam lazos 7.4.22

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5 Steps to Opening a Green Business for the Planet’s Future

by Joe Rees

photo by Pexels

Perhaps you’re trying to find a way to shift your career into environmental activism. You might even be interested in starting a green business! If so, these tips will help you get ready for the next big step in your career by outlining everything it takes, from creating a budget and a comprehensive business plan to streamlining your marketing strategy. 

Get Motivated by Business Leaders

Are you worried that running a successful eco-friendly business will be impossible? Just look to examples of high-profile “ecopreneurs” running similar companies for reassurance! For example, David Bronner is currently the CEO of the popular, sustainable company Dr. Bronner’s, which was started 150 years ago – and it’s still going strong to this day! They make all of their personal care products from organic, fair-trade materials.

Choose an Eco-Friendly Business Idea

Once you’ve read about existing green businesses, you need to pick an idea for your own company. Money Crashers recommends creating non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products, pet toys, children’s toys, reusable alternatives to disposable items like plastic shopping bags or utensils, or craft items from upcycled materials. You might want to set up a website and sell your products from your home or get in touch with local shops about selling your products through their storefronts.

Eco-Friendly Operations

You’re excited about your business idea – but how do you actually go about running your business so that it’s “green?” There are a few steps you’ll want to take to shrink your company’s carbon footprint. EcoEnclose recommends choosing recyclable or compostable packaging for your products, looking for suppliers that also embrace sustainability in their business models, allowing customers to ground-ship items rather than air-ship, and avoiding the creation of waste with your processes.

Creating a Business Budget

Every business needs a budget! As you envision how you’ll operate your company and start writing up a green business plan, you’ll also need to include some financial figures. If you’re building an eco-friendly business, you will likely need to budget extra in order to keep your supplies and processes “green.” Unfortunately, it can often be more expensive to make eco-friendly choices in the world of business. Therefore, give yourself a little wiggle room for each line item in your budget – that way, you won’t be caught off guard by elevated costs.

Marketing Your Products

You’ll have to promote your business to your target customers once your products are available. Today, using social media to promote your business is practically non-negotiable. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do this on a tight budget. For instance, you can use this program to design custom flyers quickly and free of charge, then share them via social media to help get the word out.

Running a green business is a great way to “give back” to the planet. But you don’t want to dive in without a roadmap. By following these suggestions, you’ll be able to develop a clear business plan and act on it!

Developed by Joe Rees, Catastrophes.info seeks to be your shelter in the coming storms. It is a go-to resource on how to protect you and your family as natural disasters grow in intensity and level of destruction.
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The Stranger in the Woods

Is it me, or does there seem to be a global malaise running through our days?  I want to be engaged, but the weight of the world gets me down, to quote Kansas, leaving me wondering if perhaps I, too, was born in the wrong century.  The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel, is a fascinating look at what happens when someone just decides to check out.

So it’s not hard to imagine what Mainer Christopher Knight felt like when only a year out of high school he quit his job working for a security company installing alarm systems and, following a road trip to Florida and back, kept on driving, past his family home and as deep into the Maine woods as he could get by car, the adventure culminating when he parked his Subaru, recently purchased with a loan co-signed by his brother, left the keys on the console, and equipped with only a tent, a backpack, a few clothes, and some foodstuffs — not the best laid plan, really — and hiking farther in, lived in the woods for the next 27 years.  

During that time, Knight says he only spoke one word to another human, a hiker whom he passed on a trail.  The word?  

“Hi.”

After 27 years of living off the unwitting and in some cases unwilling kindness of strangers, Knight was caught by local law enforcement for burglarizing a local camp for disabled kids where he stole food and other provisions, ironic when you figure his one and only job was installing alarm systems.  The police had been trying to catch Knight for decades.  The locals called him The Hermit.  Some lived in awe and others in terror of this man who burgled their vacation cabins, rarely leaving any evidence of a break-in to tip them off, other than their missing items.

What makes a man walk away from everyone and everything he knows, including family, without so much as a backward glance?  I think it may have something to do with the way the world alienates those who do not think like it, pushing them out so far beyond the circle of humanity that it’s impossible for them to see their way clear to a companionable future.  Knight’s behavior has garnered many diagnoses from experts, but such nomenclature is ephemeral and not always quantifiable much less certain.  Suffice it to say he’s probably got Asperger’s syndrome which is characterized by a significant amount of what others would call antisocial behavior.

Knight stole food and clothing to live a life where he didn’t have encounter other human beings for almost three decades — his ultimate expression of himself — and he was very happy doing it.  His break-ins numbered over 1,000, putting him in the category of expert thief and making the locals more than a little uneasy.  Knight reports he felt deep shame every time he burgled a cabin, but he didn’t see any other way to support his chosen lifestyle.  The alternative meant facing civilization, and for a guy on the extreme end of the autism spectrum, burglary seemed the easier option.  During those 27 years, he read many books, watched TV — Knight stole a lot of batteries to keep his appliances going — and created more and more elaborate structures to keep him dry and as warm as possible, an engineering marvel, actually, full-on of resilience and ingenuity.  Kudos to Knight for engineering skills that allowed him to withstand 27 years of Maine winters without ever starting a single fire (for fear someone might see the smoke from his camp). 

Burglaries aside, at the end, I felt I had more in common with Knight than not.  As the state of the world continues to deteriorate and civility has become as out of reach as a fairy tale, I often wish I could travel to some distant shore where the population is of a kinder, gentler ilk — if such a place even exists anymore. 

The Stranger in the Woods is a fascinating, psychological examination of one man’s quest to live his life his way.

pamlazos 6.5.22

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