Friday, May 27, 2011
The 13th Annual Tybee Island Sea Kayak Races on June 4 benefit the wonderful Tybee Island Marine Science Center. The TIMSC is a great resource for visitors and residents of all ages, and the sea kayak races are a way for the paddling community to support it. I'm doing the 6.5 mile river race; other, braver paddlers are doing the 8-mile Little Tybee challenge, which involves creek, slough, and surf navigation.
It occurred to me that I could build on my entrance fee donation if folks agreed to sponsor me per mile. I know times are tough, hence the start at $1.00 a mile. Almost all of us can spare that, right? Plus it's tax deductible!
But Wait, There's More!
Naturally, you can choose more per mile. $2.00? $5.00? On top of that, you might add an **incentive**. You can make up your own, or go with $10.00 if I come in third, $25.00 if I come in second, $50.00 if I win. (Just typing that makes me laugh. But you never know.)
Things You Should Know Before you Place Your Bets (er, sponsorships)
1.I've never raced before, and this quite a race. It should take 1.5-2 hours to complete.
2. I will be competing in my AGE category (whew!) as well BOAT category (Sea kayak under 18').
3. Did I mention I've never raced before?
There are no forms, just email me (msiceloff at gmail dot com) what you're in for, and I'll let you know how I do. I'll wear your name on my paddle shirt (honest!)
You can also come watch, cheer, and enter the raffle to win a kayak. The fun starts at 9:00 AM, launching from and returning to AJ's Dockside Restaurant.
The race runs along the back river (pictured), just about to the spot where the motorboat trail is visible..then back to AJ's.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I'm still stunned from word that photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed today in Libya, while covering the war. Although my knowledge of Chris's work was limited to the powerful photograph "Orphaned by Soldiers" of an Iraqi child spattered with her parents blood after their car was fired upon, I had followed Tim Hetherington's since he and Sebastian Junger's 2007 article in Vanity Fair about a platoon deployed in the remote Korengal Valley in Afghanistan: "Into the Valley of Death." The article and companion portraits of the young soldiers were part of a larger effort that became the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo.
As Tim discusses in this video from Time Magazine their goal was not only to document the daily life and death of holding a remote outpost in hostile territory, but also to humanize the war by introducing readers and viewers to the young men fighting it.
Both photojournalists were published in the New York Times, which has posted retrospective slideshows of their images on the LENS blog: Parting Glances/Tim Hetherington and Parting Glances/Chris Hondros.
As a Quaker and pacifist, I want to pay as much attention as possible to the war effort - I want each loss to be human and real, for me and for every citizen. I carry a burden of sadness and futility for the wars we wage around the world, and having these brave journalists literally on the front line meant that we could not, would not, must not forget the high price paid every day for our country's decisions. I don't support the wars, but I absolutely support the young men and women sent to fight them, and I believe that war journalists are doing as much to protect them as their body armor.
Journalists let us know when humvees did not carry enough protection, when WMDs weren't really there, when publicized heroics were not, and when unpublicized actions were. They fight a second, parallel war for transparency, for clarity, for you and I to get the actual story, to see and feel the human toll of warfare. And now two of those brave and important voices are gone. Who will take up sat phone/camera? Who will let us know when dictators are firing on their own people, when prisons have become torture chambers, when young men and women fight to the death for their comrades and their country, for you and me? Who can fill these shoes?
There are hundreds, probably thousands of perhaps lesser-known but equally brave journalists out there today, who, having watched the bodies of these men loaded onto transports home, will put their armor vests on and go back out onto the battlefield to keep reporting.
Thank you. And please, be careful.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I started a garden that year. I lived at the edge of a desert, at the foot of a mountain, and almost as high as a mile is long. It was an unlikely spot for growing things; the soil is sandy and empty of any organic material—even the native sagebrush struggle to get by. The summers are hot, often over 100 degrees, and it almost never rains. The Sierra Nevada rose practically from my doorstep to heights impossible for Pacific storms to make it past. But I had a yard and a garden hose and a healthy appetite, so in it went. A neighbor brought over his ancient rototiller and we turned the earth, adding in compost and topsoil. I put in seeds and seedlings and countless hours caring for them, dodging bugs and critters and blistering heat. The wind blew so hard out of the canyon above me that it actually lifted plants out of the ground, roots and all. I staked and caged, but the entire garden listed to the east, bending to the wind. I used strips of an old T-shirt to tie plants to the stakes, and it gave the garden the look of a civil war infirmary: bandaged, crutched, and leaning. But we soldiered on.
And then came the summer of 2002. Like any plague or natural disaster, misfortune took us by surprise. A small plane went down with four local residents, killing them all. In a tiny community like this one, almost everyone knew at least one of the passengers. A friend and tremendous athlete—or perhaps athlete and tremendous friend—fell from a skateboard and never got up. A dear friend, healthy and spry into her eighties, had a series of strokes and was suddenly aged. Cancer overtook limbs and organs of those around me. I had a bad fall and found out just how strong my bones of my spine were, and how fragile the tissue between them. Through it all, the valley was covered in an oppressive inversion of thick smoke from nearby forest fires, where hundreds of thousands of acres were lost and lives were lost fighting them. I’m sure there were births and weddings and epiphanies somewhere, but not in my circle.
In the garden, a few plants began to flower, and then fruit. From an entire row of bean plants, three survived. Same with peas. Tomatoes grew with glacial slowness. Peppers started and stopped, unsure they could go on. I fed them, understanding. I heard that plants do most of their growing at night, and came to depend on that—on progress that I couldn’t see.
I was out weeding one morning when my neighbor drove by, the one who’d worked in the May heat to till my garden. Two days earlier, his adult son had been hit by a car while crossing the street and killed. Having not yet spoken to him about it, I put my hands over my heart as he drove past. He pulled over and got out of his truck. I walked to the fence to meet him. What’s wrong? He asked. Are you all right? He'd thought I was signaling him about a pain of mine and he had stopped on his way, carrying all that sorrow, to see how I was, and if I needed help.
The English language is dense and powerful, but I couldn’t come up with any words to tell him how sorry I was or how much I felt for him and his wife. I stumbled through a few sentences. I’m not even sure what I said. His hands rested on the fence between us. Deep brown and sun-wrinkled, they spoke of the years he spent at the mine that used to operate in the windy canyon above. I met his eyes, surprisingly blue in the warmth of his Latino heritage. He was silent for a while, then said: It’s a big hurt, Mary. A big hurt. I nodded. I knew big hurts, had been taught them by the summer. He nodded back before leaving. I stayed in the garden for quite a while that morning, hoping I could work through my own hurts. I was just getting the use of my left arm back, and it tired quickly. I didn’t have much to show for my labors, and that morning it felt particularly pointless. I finally laid down my tools and went in. I looked back at my patch and saw it for what it was, wind-battered and sun-bleached plants surrounded by a drooping sunshade fence. When a windstorm blew that night, I didn’t rush out to cover and tether. I just let it go. What survived, survived. Storms like this usually kept me watching from my window, but that night, I pulled the shade. If it went, it went.
The next morning was a beautiful blue-sky day. The smoke from the fires had been dissipating over the last few weeks and I could finally see the mountains. The wind that had cleared the smoke away had broken off tree limbs as large as my thigh and tumbled heavy wooden furniture across the yard, but the garden was intact. All the plants were there, maybe missing a leaf or blossom or two, but still standing. They had made it through the tough stuff I guess, because they grew and produced. In time I ate squash cooked with fresh herbs and wrestled gophers for tomatoes. I had enough for friends. I produced exactly six melons, each melt-in-your-mouth sweet. I ate one and gave the others to people I knew would appreciate them.
Maybe other communities had summers like ours. We all know terrible seasons. But the hands I held at memorial services were the same ones that later held my tomatoes, and somehow that comforted me and made me want to try again. So after the deer migrated though and ate their fill, I tilled under the remainder and waited until spring, then I planted another garden at the edge of a desert, at the foot of a mountain, almost as high as a mile is long.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Materials: Glass keychain, slate floor, haste
You know the story, I know the story, but we still watch it unfold. In a summer action movie, as soon as we meet the "best friend" character, we know he's a goner, but we still root for him to make it through. Maybe this time he'll make it. Maybe this time, we think, Lucy won't pull out the football, and Charlie Brown will get to kick it. Maybe...
What is it in me that still hopes against the odds? What part of me -someone who has watched countless plot lines play out in books and movies - not to mention lived for a half a century among people - actually ignores the signals in my own life, and hopes that this time, this time things will be different?
I've found a balance in the natural world. I'll strike out on a walk even if the clouds are threatening because heck - either I'll get home before the rain or I won't - both ways, I get a walk. I'm careful - I know that the world contains dangers, either ones I chose to flirt with by skiing or bike riding or hiking, or ones that just reach out and grab me, like last year's unpleasantness. But I still go outside. I still love the smell of the earth after - or during - a rain. And I don't hold it against nature for raining on me. I saw the signs, I took a chance, and I got wet or I didn't. A shower, a change of clothes, and I'm right as...rain.
It just doesn't work that way with people, at least for me. Someone puts out come hither signals and I dash out without a raincoat, then I'm surprised when I get wet. Wassup with that?
The view ain't bad down here, and nothing's broken. I'm more...disappointed. In myself and in someone else. So I'll just take a wee rest, then up and at 'em.
Blooming: Fleur pots