Archive for January, 2010

January 30, 2010

Joined the Manhattan JCC

The weather is just way too cold to go running in Riverside Park. It’s like 20 degrees out. I’m sure some crazy people run in this weather, but not me. Sorry. So, two weeks ago, I got a pool membership for me and the family at the Manhattan Jewish Community Center (Like, $1,700 for a year! NYC!). Yesterday, I packed my bathing suit and cap. I said to myself, “MB, all you have to do is swim eight laps or stay in the pool for 12 minutes.” If you recall, I seem to only be able to run for 13 minutes and then am completely exhausted. So I was cutting myself a break.

I got to the pool deck and handed the guy my membership card. The big lap pool looked so cold. Just so big and daunting. But the small lap pool, was I imagining it? A steamy, warm mist floated above the little pool. “Can I swim in there?” I asked the nice young woman. “Yes,” she shrugged.

And I ran in the warm pool. I ran back and forth and I lasted 15 minutes, that’s longer than I had planned. And I felt so good.

January 26, 2010

Riverside Park Walk

I walked from 75th and Riverside to 116th and Riverside to pick up one of my daughters from a sleepover.

As I walked, listening to Britney Spears, there was an aroma. An amazing scent that filled the air and practically made me cry. Pine trees. Christmas. Little woodchips made from yours and my Christmas trees in New York City.

To smell this mulch on the side of the hills along Riverside Park. It made the walk so worth it.┬áIt began to rain. I didn’t care. The smell grew stronger. I love the way New York City recycles Christmas trees and helps other trees.

Also, at the end of the walk, I saw this guy (I’m trying to post the video to show you but I just practically crashed the computer. I’m not a techie!). It was of a guy rollerblading down a metal railing. People are risky and talented and amazing. A walk in New York always leads to some kind of crazy serendipity.

January 21, 2010

Haiti’s Poverty and Deforestation

United Methodist missionary Rick Jost and Solar Ovens

Usually I blog about running and health here. My posts here seem often to be about the beauty of nature – trees, birds, wildlife – seen as I run. This is a story about trees being cut down in Haiti and this problem of deforestation.

Yes, earthquakes kill and maim and destroy, rich and poor alike. But the real killer and maimer and destroyer is poverty. Poverty leads to deforestation.

If the same magnitude – 7.0 earthquake that decimated Port-au-Prince – had struck in a country with better infrastructure and less poverty, perhaps a hundred people would’ve died, not tens of thousands. The earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco was a 7.0 magnitude and killed 63 people. So, poverty makes natural disaster thousands of times worse.

Haiti is often called the poorest of the poor. In 2006, I wrote a story for the Global Ministries’ magazine New World Outlook about Solar Ovens in Haiti. I learned that in May 2004, light rains triggered flooding in Haiti. The same rain fell in the Dominican Republic, the country which shares the island with Haiti. In the DR, less than two dozen people died. In Haiti, three thousand people died. The DR is greener and wealthier.

The problems with deforestation cannot be underestimated. Trees mean more topsoil, less runoff, less disaster when flooding hits, less killer mudslides. That’s why people from the Dakotas United Methodist Church supported the Solar Oven project.

The sun’s heat is an alternative cooking source. I really don’t know how having more trees might positively impact a country like Haiti during an earthquake. I have only reported on the natural disaster of flooding.

But I do know, as the weeks unfold, and as yesterday’s Christian Science monitor story suggests, reforestation should be a priority as Haiti rebuilds and returns. Harnessing the cooking power of the sun is preferable to cutting down trees for firewood.

January 7, 2010

Horizontal and No TV

1/1/10 A vacay that is mostly horizontal is very nice. I had planned yesterday to walk the length of the beach as I had with Joanna on that first (or was it second?) morning in Akumal. But inertia sets in.

Instead, I lay at the pool, arguing with my brother in law about why my little family could not blow up our TV, as he advised. When raising their boys, Jeff and E did not have a television.

I said, “Chris and I both work or worked in television. It’s disingenuous to give it up.”

“That’s like, if your mother worked in a brothel, you shouldn’t keep your kids from working in a brothel,” Jeff argued. I don’t think TV’s as bad as a brothel.

My kids sat on our lounge chairs piping in, “But what about Glee? If we gave up TV, we’d have to give up Glee and American Idol.” But the kids were much more on board with the idea of “No Television” than I would have thought. They’re more on board with it than I am.

Hayden listed all of his friends whom he plays sports with outdoors.

Catherine agreed with Jeff — we should take the television out to the field in front of Skenewood and simply shoot the TV. Charlotte just stared at the surf.

January 7, 2010

Apples to Apples: Who’s Competitive

I talked to Joanna, her mom, and her sister about my four blogs, while we played Apples to Apples at the Snack Bar. Joanna and I agreed we’re going to do a 5K in 2010. The waves were still lapping (like at night, they don’t have to roll like that, no one is watching, but still, the waves do their thing.)

I played Apples to Apples, oh, about 10 times on this vacay. My advice is to throw down the Barbara Walters card for any category – Sophisticated, Scary, Funny. She’s really a great multi-purpose celebrity.

Last night, young Chris and I almost came to blows. We both thought we had the winning card. The adjective was American. So, Chris threw down Bald Eagle. I threw down watermelon. Unfortunately, someone else (Jeremy?) threw down John Glenn. And you can see where this is going. Ernestine picked John Glenn. Okay, he is American. It was E’s prerogative to pick the answer she thought was best. But Bald Eagle is not necessarily more American than watermelon, nor is John Glenn.

I simply cannot believe I am not the best player at Apples to Apples. I am so good with words and so good at reading people. I lost every single time I played. I am not as good as I think. Not really.

January 7, 2010

Snorkeling in Akumal

Big fish, little fish. Big coral, little coral. Brainy coral, waving fan coral.

The sound underwater. The tick tick tick of the fish eating, spitting out rocks. Silly fish.

The gift from the sea (to borrow Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s brilliant phrase) is the sheer existence of it all. The vast ‘what it is-ness’ of the reef on the Mayan coast. Like the turtle.

The turtle lives its life. It doesn’t ask, ‘Am I a good enough turtle? A hard enough worker? An excellent mother? A good writer? How come I haven’t won the Pulitzer? A Fulbright?’

No, the turtle asks, ‘Is that food? I will go to it.’ Or it says, ‘Is that danger? I will stay away from it.’

This is a lesson in simply existing. Being. Going towards the good. Staying away from the bad. If the turtles in the bay can do it, I can, at least try. Go to food. Stay away from danger.

While I worry about my husband’s health, my kids’ education, politics, the environment, my career, there are turtles – and I saw about five on each of my brief snorkeling forays in the Akumal Bay. The turtles are living in the wild, unaware of the new airline regulations between Mexico and Florida. They are citizens of the world. Love that.

And so long as there are turtles that are part of the incredible diversity of the Mayan coast reef, then all is still all right with the world. And I can just stop worrying.

Instead just ask Is that food? I will go to it. Is that danger? I will stay away from it.