ACoE Invades South Texas

A must read for those concerned with the environment and nature.

Jude Lieber

Photo caption: Snapshot from one of my trips to the Rio Grande — Big Bend National Park hot springs with with wild mustangs on the Mexican bank.

We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Trespassing on private soil, our own Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE) have begun clearing areas for the border wall. Rather than steal land legally through eminent domain, they have arrived without permission or notification.  Instead of cutting through ranchland, they have begun where it will hurt the most — nature preserves. The first location to fall beneath the saw, machete, and blade is a strip through the National Butterfly Center. Scientists had purchased the area from farmers and restored it with plant species vital to the survival of the threatened monarch butterfly. Now, only brown stubble remains. The wall will block the migration of thousands of land-based animals, cutting their territory…

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Books, Books, and More Books

How time flies! It’s been almost a year since I’ve shared the good books I’ve been reading. After I found the San Antonio Public Library now has many of the best selling or most critically acclaimed books available (albeit sometimes on a long waiting list) I’ve been reading about a book a week. I do read all by books on a Kindle. Easier on my hands and I can take it anywhere.

Image result for kindle

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

News of the World Especially if you are a Texan, but even if you are not, you will love this beautifully written story set in Texas after the Civil War. I sent it to my 16 year old granddaughter in hopes she will read it.

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite authors. Aurora is chocked full of realistically based sci-fi scenarios, appealing characters and a lovely ending. His Mars Trilogy is superb! especially if you’re interested in a possible future of the human race.

Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat takes place in India. A great story that proves love is a culturally universal, human thang! As an acclaimed writer, he has other books which I have on my list.

I’m on a jag of reading, in order, all the Eve Dallas books by J.D. Robb. Interesting crime solving mysteries set in the future ‘starring’ a kick-ass female police lieutenant–with a sexy, rich hubby. Fluff?-maybe but entertaining.

Lab Girl a biography by research scientist Hope Jahren, PhD. She’s a bit quirky, as is her long-time lab assistant/best friend, so her projects usually include interesting and sometimes strange adventures.

I also like author Robert Masello. His books are a fascinating combination of history and fiction with people/characters you know (but not really). Some of the titles. are The Medusa Amulet, The Einstein Prophecy, and The Jekyll Revelation.

 

 

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Sgt. Pepper’s Album changed my life

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

The first time I heard it was just a few days after its release. My best friend Melissa and I were in summer school at SWTSU, living in the dorm. My previous roomie asked us over to listen to a new Beatles album. Because we wanted to enjoy it fully and faithfully, we stuffed a towel under the door and smoked a great big joint.

Over in JoAnn’s room, we sat mesmerized through the entire, what turned out to be, breakthrough musical recording.  I’m not sure I ever heard it that exact same way again even though I’ve listen to it hundreds of times now.

It was a life changer for sure!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/531039734/531099121

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the boundlessness of divine love

I’m just guessing, but I think I came to embrace the joys of living in a multi-ethnic society during the three years my family and I lived in Hawaii.

Each year the school I attended, Radford High School, celebrated Aloha Week by electing Kings and Queens representing their various “racial backgrounds” gathered in their “racial costumes” Hawaiians, Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Samoans, Negro, Portuguese, Korean Caucasian, and Cosmopolitan. Despite the dated terminology, it was a respectful celebration of the many peoples who made up the Hawaiian population–the very definition of a melting pot.I wonder if they still do this.

Pew Research Center’s recent article gives credence to ‘Mainland’ America’s march towards its own modern diversity “…one-in-ten married people in 2015 – not just those who recently married – had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. This translates into 11 million people who were intermarried.”

Right after I read the above article I saw a reference to an article by Paul Salopek, The Case for Xenophilia. Salopek explains, “For the past four years I have been walking across the earth. As I retrace the paths of our species’ first Stone Age migration out of Africa, I’m writing about my encounters along the modern global trail. ” His walk takes him through many different countries in Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, to name a few, on his march towards Tierra del Fuego.

He includes this lovely thought.“The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world,” wrote the 12th-century French theologian Hugh of St. Victor. “The strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man extinguished his.”

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Moving Experiences

A recent conversation with a journalist friend and a couple of “moving” articles got me thinking. I have some mixed feelings about gentrification and the ‘forcing’ of people out of their homes and their comfort zones to make way for new development—whether it be private or government backed. I am not unsympathetic towards these persons’ situations. I am also not above being influenced by my own personal experiences of voluntary and involuntary home moves, both as a child and as an adult. Sometimes, these were good experiences, sometimes, not so much.

Having grown up an Army brat, I think I moved about 17 times before I even went to college. These moves were easy in a way as we always had housing options provided, moving companies to pack and ship all our belongings, and the places we went were good. Even if we were in the same town, we sometimes had to move from off-base to base housing. New schools, new friends, new environments. All these made me, and most likely all service brats, very resilient. Some I know even developed a wanderlust of sorts.

When I was in my twenties and living in Austin, I lived for almost 8 years in one of my favorite houses. That was my first experience of living more than about two years in the same place. I was so attached to that house I dream about it sometimes still. Though it has become distorted over the years.

When I was somewhat forced to come back to my parents’ home–from yet another city–due to an abusive situation,  I disliked San Antonio. It took some years to really feel like this is my home for good. I’ve been here almost half my life now, though I’ve moved domiciles about a dozen time.

Our House is a very fine house.

When my husband and I bought the house we are in now, he said, “It had better have a nice ceiling because that the last thing I want to see before I die.” Meaning he was sick and tired of packing, moving and the expenses it entailed. There still may be some moves in our future.  Probably not the ones either of us would like.

And, then I think of the millions of families in the Middle East and so many other places who are forced to leave their homes with practically nothing. They face starvation, disease, displacement camps, death. The girls and women are often beaten and raped. My heart goes out to them. And, I’m sorry the US is trying so hard to close its doors to refugees. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Perhaps, there is a better way to transition people who are being displaced in our city. I understand not everyone has the experience, knowledge or again, resilience, to handle being told, out of the blue, they have to move. Being more thoughtful about the process before and during, instead of just afterwards, might be a way to proceed.

Peace and Love Y’all

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Ah sweet, and not so sweet, mystery of life

What exactly is life anyway?

“We don’t have a very good definition of life,” said researcher Christopher Voigt of the University of California, San Francisco, who works on synthetic biology. “It’s a very abstract thing, what we call life, and at what point we say something doesn’t have the necessary components versus it does, it just becomes way too murky.”

The other day a friend and I were talking about life, including a dear friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. “But, she’s only 33, and a beautiful, generous person, an elementary school teacher, and breast cancer doesn’t even run in her family,” my friend exclaimed. I’m sitting there shaking my head. What do we say? Shit happens? What is God thinking when he lets bad things happen–like to our young friend with cancer; to the children gassed to death two days ago in Syria; to the 13 people from New Braunfels church killed in a bus crash, 12 of them older women, grandmas like me?

I think life is one big fat mystery. We hate the bad stuff, but love the synergy when good things happen. Like another friend who found the right alternative school for her son, recently expelled for what we all think is a bum rap. Perhaps, this is opening another door. Or the wonderfulness of all the new babies showing up in my Facebook feed. One new parent asked if she was posting too many baby pics, and I said “never.” Of course, someone else might have thought differently. Good things happen every day, even amid the chaos of our current government.

Trying really hard, Lord, to remember that in this mysterious life you have given us, we are all your children and you love us unconditionally. We don’t have to earn your love and you don’t reward our devotion to you with ‘prosperity’ like some faux pastors preach. Do all Christians act like Christians? Another pithy question (don’t get me started on that).

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Hail, hail, rock n roll–RIP Chuck Berry

Over 43 years ago, I was pregnant and trying to decide on a name for my son. (If it was to be a boy, because there were no sonograms back then).

Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley were two musicians who were major contributors to my life-long love affair with Rock n Roll.

I chose the name Jack Berry for my beautiful, sweet boy. Jack for my dad (though his real name was Albert Victor), my brother Jack Reid and Jack Kerouac a hero of mine from the ‘beatnik’ days. The ‘Berry’ is for Chuck Berry.

Of all the clips out there over the past few days, I like this one best. Also, Keith Richards is one of my brother’s fav.

 

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