Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Eli!!

Eli is five today. My mother claims that when I was a newborn, her mother in law told her, "You'll turn around and she'll have babies of her own." My Mom says she thought my grandmother was out of her skull - until it happened. I'm trying (and failing) not to let that happen with my own boys! I can't believe I have a five year old.

I will not claim that every day has raced by - the first four months of Eli's life, the ones in which he screamed 7 hours per day because of colic, passed more slowly than any days ever have in my life. But time is disappearing at an alarming rate - and yes, I know this is a deeply banal observation. Tough patooties - my blog, I can be boring if I want.

I always had a strange intuition that I would have a child with a disability. I don't know why. I remember thinking about it when I was pregnant with Eli, and praying for almost anything but autism. I thought that autism would mean that he couldn't love me, or acknowledge me. I was wrong about autism, and I'm not sorry my prayers were ignored. Autism didn't mean what I thought it did, and this is a case in which I was not a good judge of my desires or capacities. As so often is the case, either luck or
the hand of G-d or me better results than my own choosing could have. I should try and remember that, next time I attempt to get all control-freaky about my future.

Motherhood and I are not a match made in heaven. Parenthood did not transform me instantly into the kind of person who is unfailingly loving, kind and generous. It is a bloody hard lot of work being nice when someone wants you to tickle them rather than permitting you to sip tea and read a long novel undisturbed. It is very annoying to have to be the grownup all the time. And no matter how much I love my children, becoming a parent did not transform me into the kind of person who wants to play peekaboo for three consecutive hours.

It amazes me that five years and two days ago that my leisure hours were my own, that my house was not decorate with brightly colored plastic toys and that cheerios were not a staple of both my diet and my carpetting. I miss that past in the nostalgic way that people who liked high school (not me!!!) miss high school - I don't think they'd really like to go back, just that they want a do over, a way to properly appreciate and enjoy what they have. But strangely, I like my life without free time, surrounded by noise and chaos and small people who want nothing so much as my undivided attention. I miss them when they aren't around (although I do make do with my novels ;-).

Anyway, Happy birthday Eli, from your chaotic, ambivalent, disorganized Mother. I love you even when you drive me nuts, even when I'm the most horrible Mom in the world and won't let you watch any tv. I wouldn't change a thing about you, except maybe the spaghetti stains on your shirt and ....socks?



Sunday, March 06, 2005

DOE Actually acknowledges Peak Oil!!!

So the department of Energy published a report recently acknowledging the reality of peak oil, and that it will take a minimum of twenty years to prevent a crisis - and that no one knows if we have twenty years or not (hint, probably not!). They acknowledged massive disruption to personal transportation and the economy if the problem is not fixed in time - not, however, to the food supply, which is the most urgent concern.

Peak oil is coming. G-d willing, the government might even wake up soon enough to start making a little bit of difference (after the next election, at the earliest, I'm sure!) But the rest of us can't wait. The DOE, (who I think are radically underestimating the scope of the problem, but at least they've noticed) are saying we need twenty years *from when we make radical change* - and trillions and trillions of dollars in investment (love those deficits!). So we're talking 23 1/2 years at a minimum (assuming we don't elect another oilman), and a hundreds of trillions of dollars we don't have.

We can't wait for the government to fix it!!!! The only way this can be mitigated, the only way the next depression can be softened, the only way the danger of actual starvation, war on our soil, and social crisis can be averted (to any degree) is by immediate, grassroots organizing. That means everyone reading this. Personal preparations are great - you need to get your house in order, and be prepared to deal with this on a personal level. But that DOES NOT exempt any one of us from creating community solutions. This cannot be a wholly personal thing - if everyone else in your community is jobless and hungry, all the personal preparations in the world won't help you. If there are no jobs, you may not be able to finish your preps in time. If the economy tanks and inflation goes wild, you may lose your "safe" home with all its preparations. If war comes your way, you may be made a refugee with no where to go. As important as personal preparation is, more urgent is preparing at every level - family, neighborhood, town, city, state, region, nation, to face this collectively.

What do you need? Greenspace to grow food, and people who know how. Local, sustainable industry and home businesses. Low carbon or no carbon ways of distributing materials and resources. Ways of making and doing things that are environmentally sound and energy efficient. Strong family and communal ties, that encourage collaboration and cooperation, rather than conflict. Support services for the needy - it might be you one day. A commitment to maximizing resources for everyone, rather than individual profit.

How do you get those things? Talk about peak oil to everyone - with your family, in your church/synagogue/temple/mosque, with your neighbors. But don't make them crazy - even if they don't believe in peak oil, they probably believe in things like stopping sprawl, creating community canneries and food banks, creating community gardens and greenspace, reforming livestock laws, encouraging food and water security, providing emergency training for EMS and fire services, sustainable woodland harvesting, gardening clubs, etc... You don't have to spend all your time yelling "peak oil" out loud - instead, start yelling "let's make this a better, more secure place for everyone.

Run for office - anything. School board? Sure, you can encourage energy wise policies, get gardening programs and 4H into the schools, bring in guest speakers on fossil fuel issues? Town council? Keep those woodlands open, build community gardens, make it legal to keep chickens within the city limits, create mixed zoning.

Start a peak oil group - meet up with people who are as concerned as you are. You find them in the strangest places - a friend of mine from synagogue, who has never been very receptive on the subject recently brought her father over for dinner, and it turns out he's involved in peak oil in his area. Post signs at the library, at the bookstore, on the bulletin boards, at, at your local university.

Run a showing of the film _The End of Suburbia_ which introduces the concept in a friendly way. The DVD is cheap, and you can have a party in your living room. Talk about it.

Get involved in providing support systems for the poor - there are going to be more of them. Write/call/email your legislators. Help your neighbor plant a garden. Write an article for your local paper calling for victory gardens, gas conservation days. Organize a celebration of a local food or product. Start a home business that isn't reliant on fossil fuels. Prepare your children to live in a post-peak world. Do it today, and tomorrow, and again the next day - the government won't fix it, so everything depends on us.


The Bird Boy

My 3 year old, Simon is an obsessive sort of personality. When he's interested in something, he eats, sleeps, breathes it. He's always been fascinated by animals, especially owls and bats, but has gone through fixations on rainforests, construction equipment, predatory animals, rhyming and others. Right now, we're on birds and nursery rhymes. We have a copy of Audobon's _Birds of North America_ (1935 edition, inherited from my great-grandmother) and Simon is totally obsessed with it. He carries it everywhere (an accomplishment - he weighs 36 lbs, and the book weighs at least 1/6 that), and he has memorized all of the birds in it - he can tell you the difference between Canada Warbler, Carbonated Warbler and Prothonotary Warbler (even after repeated examination of this book, I can't), and can recognize them on sight. He knows where the birds live, what they eat, what eats them, etc... and he will cheerfully tell you (and if he doesn't know, he'll cheerfully make it up. He's into predation, and often will describe very small birds eating very large animals - for example, observing that wood thrushes eat Jaguars. They don't, generally.) all about it.

He's also obsessed with nursery rhymes, and any short poetry suitable for children. The literary critic in me is so pleased to watch my son absorbing rhyme and scansion so happily. Eric and I have a gentle competition to make our children into humanists (me) or scientists (him), and I feel I'm winning. Even the bird thing is really much more old style philosophical naturalist than modern ornithologist, or so I like to believe ;-).

He makes up his own nursery rhymes - my current favorite (see if you can recognize his primary literary influences) is "What are little toothbrushes made of...made of... What are little toothbrushes made of? Toothpaste and Snails and Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. That's what little toothbrushes are made of." Toothbrushes are clearly more ominous than I had previously believed. After clarifying the meanings of each of the triad "gunpowder, treason and plot," Simon announced, "plot is my favorite." We have not yet explained how to make gunpowder, and I think we'll wait on that one for a while.

In other news, it looks like Eli will probably get into the kidnergarten program we want him to. We're very pleased, although a little nervous. It is an ABA program, and while his preschool education has contained elements of ABA (to which Eli has respondend very well) I'm ambivalent about the whole thing, but hopeful.

Otherwise, spring preparations are ongoing. I hope all is well with you!