Voting Early in Maryland

Before it starts raining, I’m heading over to the Civic Center Building in Silver Spring to cast my vote in this mid-term election. Early voting is underway at 11 sites around Montgomery County from 10 am to 8 pm every day until November 1, All Souls Day!

Okay, if you think about it, voting is a purely human endeavor. We are the only species that takes it upon ourselves to change our governing bodies on a regular basis, right?

In the animal kindom (we stopped saying “kingdom” a while ago), there’s a built-in hierarchy based on age and/or ability and whether you are born into a matriarchy or a patriarchy. In other words, for example, pandas can only “vote” for pandas.

 

I’m happy about being human and going to the polls. Does it matter who we vote for? Well, in a democracy, we are left to our own ideas about who will serve our Nation best. We all have a different set of criteria to decide what “best” means. Because I grew up in New England, I’m an old-fashioned kind of voter, a patriot I guess I’d call myself if you asked me. Most important to me is a good education for every child in America. And of course a high functioning agricultural system delivering wholesome food to every town in the country. But what about housing? People need affordable housing too, right? And which of our local candidates knows the best way to offer a solid roof, strong door, and a few windows to every family around here? Hmmm. now things are getting a little emotional and complicated. Simplicity is the key. Maybe. Is living in the woods every night considered freedom?

Long story short, I need to talk to a few of our local candidates a little more. I’m sure they have some ideas. The one thing I do know for sure is this: I wouldn’t do very well in a mountain terrain looking for bamboo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Wish me luck at the polls!!!

 

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Third Thursday Poetry Series . . . Celebrates Poetry Month

The great poet Wislawa Szymborska is my great hero . . .

April is Poetry Month. Some of us walk around reciting our favorite poems out loud, sign up for an open mic, or (drumroll please) apply pen to paper and write an original poem or two to celebrate the moment we are standing in.

There’s a lot in a moment: a breath, a tummy growling, a smile from someone at the bus stop, remembering it’s trash day . . .

As a favorite spirit often reminds me, “the school of planet earth is the most difficult one in the entire universe, but we come here to learn something, to share with others, and most importantly, to love.”

The last time I had a session with the beautiful spirit of Dr. James Martin Peebles through the channel, Summer Bacon (her website is summerbacon.com), I felt sad. But Dr. Peebles is the best reminder that “you life is what you make of it.” In other words, what’s to be sad about?

What I felt sad about was that I had drifted away from my poetry writing . . . for 2 years now, I’ve been thinking about poetry, helping with the Third Thursday Poetry Series, and listening to poets read or recite their poems . . . but where were mine? In big stack above my desk, that’s where!

So now I’m making a promise to myself to write a line, or a stanza, or a whole poem, every day. Actually, when I sat down to write this blog, I had no idea this would be the topic!

Poetry gives me a chance to feel grateful for this life, to feel the spirit rise within like the tiny wild violets popping up in the yard full of the desire to be in the world, being a part of everything — the dog steps on their petals, the wind ruffles their delicate leaves, the rain brings sweet water to their roots.

Anyway, every moment is perfect in its pulsing center. Fearless, the seconds tick by. Life is short. Everybody knows that in theory. But it’s true. We are here for a basket of moments, akin to flower petals and moonlight . . . How many sunrises left? Enough and all we need until another National Poetry Month comes around and we have our own book of poems to share with the folks who love us and cherish our time together.

See you at the Third Thursday Poetry nite at the Takoma Park Community Center! And bring a poem to share at the reception!

Peace, Meredith

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My Mother Turns 90

On March 5, 1928, my Grandmere gave birth to her first child. She named her Janice Helene. As the story goes, my Grandmere’s favorite novel at the time, Janice Meredith, inspired the baby’s name.

To continue the literary inspiration into the next generation, my mother named me Meredith. I have a sneaking suspicion that my mother never read Janice Meredith. It’s a novel about the Revolutionary War, George Washington (we lived on Washington Street), and lots of shooting back and forth between us and the Red Coats. Rockets red glare, snowy battlefields, and bloody uniforms. Not really my mother’s reading interests.

My mother loved sunbathing and icy Lime Rickeys on our chaise lounge as she read her Book-of-the-Month Club selections, novels by Graham Greene, Katherine Anne Porter, or Mary Renault.

She loved to play “Don’t Mess with Bill” and “Finlandia” on her granny Nellie’s piano, a 1905 Steinway, set in the northwest corner of our music room. As a child, my mother had a big collection of porcelain-faced dolls. I have a picture of her when she was about six or seven with her dolls all around her.

So Happy Birthday, mom. My daughter reminds me you would not have enjoyed turning 90; you left this planet for the heavenly realms shortly after your 70th birthday.

Twenty years later, we’re all still sad about that. But in a poetry workshop a few years back I wrote a poem about your favorite way to be in the world (for all of us still here):

“Always be mysterious,” you instructed. I think I have tried to be mysterious . . . as well as I can do within my limitations of not being you. The world misses you, mom. But this evening we will all raise a glass of champagne in your honor. Love love love . . . m

I guess I’m glad the novel’s title was only two words long; otherwise, my own children’s names may have been characters in the novel too. Or I might have stayed with the literary theme and named my son Huck Finn. My daughter? Well, that’s a mystery.

 

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Hurricane May Reach San Ignacio

Weather.com is reporting a hurricane heading towards Cabo San Lucas today. The edge of the storm may reach San Ignacio Lagoon by early next week. Keep La Laguna in your hearts and hope the storm passes! Visit Weather.com for updates!

And on the East Coast of the United States, Hurricane Jose may reach as far as Cape Cod with its 80 mph winds, as early as next week.

One of the beloved dogs at Antonio’s Whale Camp in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur.

 

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New Energy, New Blog Posts

Retirement is an open field where you wander around, maybe followed by a few cows wearing (of course) cowbells and mooing now and then so you know they are still behind you, or you might prefer goats who love to eat poison ivy and would eat your jacket buttons if you let them.  In other words, until you can find a way to focus on what day it is, you’ll call every day Friday, a Robinson Crusoe choice. The six other choices don’t really stick with you, floating off on a wisp of a breeze, never to be thought of again.

So what day is it?? That’s right! Friday! Unless your phone calendar convinces you it’s Monday and you believe everything it tells you!

 

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2017: Update on San Ignacio Lagoon

For 2017, the month of March found us at Antonio’s Whale Camp for the Vernal Equinox with some stellar company and a bit of a wind and waves churning up La Laguna for our panga rides out to the observation area where only 17 pangas from each of the 6 whale camps are allowed in at any one time. These are the stickers I created last year . . .

So far in all the years visiting the gray whales and their babies, I remember only one time when we had to wait for the okay to enter the area. Maybe twice.

My daughter, Erin, joined in the celebration along with a car load of friends from 4 years ago driving down from Baja North to revisit the whales.

DSCN0483DSCN0499Because of the wind, the whale mothers helped their babies stay up above the waves and held them near to be petted. Then both mother and baby would swim under the panga and give us a bounce for fun.

As the babies swam around us, the mothers kept a watchful eye, and sometimes took time to stretch out so we could see the size of their awesome bodies. Because this was Erin’s first trip to San Ignacio, I thought it would take her a while to get used to moving from one side to the other in the small space available between the seats . . . but she balanced her camera and made her way around every vantage point to get a chance to pet a baby whale. Meanwhile, I did manage not to fall overboard at any point in our laguna rodeo ride — pretty rough out there!!!

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Happy October

Welcome to a bright cool lovely fall day here in Takoma Park! And yes things are happening . . . Takoma Park’s annual street festival happened on Sunday, October 2, and a big thank you to the rain clouds for rolling back the deluge for a couple of days so that our folks could enjoy the local arts and crafts, and some cool temperatures to enjoy the day.

For those who stay up late into the wee hours, the festival romped on until evening, leaving no excuse to stay in bed. http://www.mainstreettakoma.org/featured-events/takoma-park-festival/

Roscoe the mascot for the town of Takoma Park is now featured on the town logo! We might wish for a little more detail and a little more color, but this is a start!!

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Gray Whales 2016

The trip to Antonio’s Whale Camp in mid March 2016: In a word, amazing!! Enjoy the photos! Front left is Moises. He took the photo of me petting the mama whale. Daniel is our guide and panga driver. I’m on the left behind Moises in the brown hat!!

6 whalewatchers in a panga

whale watchers take a moment for a photo.

San Ignacio Lagoon is a protected area. Gray whales here are treated with respect and reverence.

Here’s me reaching out to the baby gray whale, hoping she will swim over to greet me.

San Ignacio panga ride

The big mama whale rolls over on her side so I can touch her. Gray whales like having their gums rubbed! But they have to open their mouths for a human to do that!

 

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A Day for Poetry and Groundhogs

Groundhog Day is more than shadows, although preposterous darkness is usually back there in the cave where the fat, little creature is yanked out of by the Punxatawney mayor. Blessings on their fuzzy heads: Mayor with top hat and rodent with button nose. 🙂

On this bright mid-winter day, February 2, we also celebrate the Irish saint, Brigid, patroness and muse of poetry, keeper of bonfires, and protector of white, red-eared cows. Somehow Brigid magically rolls back the cold stones January holds at the nape of our necks. Blessings and thanks for her warm, kind heart. She and St. Patrick were friends.

My connection to St. Brigid is my love of poetry, the celebration of the visual return of the earth’s light on this day, and the fact that Brigid was the name of my Irish ancestor, the matriarch who set sail in April 1864 from the port of Cashel and landed two months later in America.

That’s how the Irish side of my family (the O’Briens) arrived in Providence, Rhode Island. Brigid and two of her sons — Patrick and J.J. — set their fearless feet down on the dock at Providence harbor.

I wonder what type of ocean-going vessel could possibly take two months to cross the Atlantic? Surely, the Saint herself kept watch over them.

And as I write a poem today, Brigid can watch over me too.

 

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Getting Ready for March 2016 at Whale Camp

Is it too early to start planning for a February or March or April visit to San Ignacio Lagoon to visit the gray whales and their new babies? Actually, this is the perfect time to choose a date for your visit!

You have many whales camps to choose from, including Antonio’s, Pachico’s EcoTours, Campo Ramon, Campo Cortez, Kuyima, and Camp Discovery. Each has links online and USA-based phone numbers to call to make your reservation and place a small (10%  or 20%) partial payment to hold your cabin, tent, or other camp accommodations.

This is the way to go!

In the next few days, I’ll post more information about my favorite camp–Antonio’s Whale Camp. Antonio’s has cabins, all meals, two rides to the Observation Area daily, and Happy Hour before dinner. Evenings are saved for presentations about the gray whales’ great migration each year to the birthing areas (whales only) in the Laguna and then back North again.

Where Are the Gray Whales Right Now?

Summertime means we can find many of our beloved gray whales feeding on ghost shrimp and krill up North in the Arctic in the Bering Sea or the Chukchi Sea. But, depending on the weather, food abundance, and their instincts, some gray whales stay in the Pacific waters off Northern California, usually close to the shore. As a matter of fact, I read that some gray whales travel no more than 600+ miles off the coast of the Baja!

More soon . . . Happy Summer!

Meredith

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