Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heat Index 104 And's not even July yet. I wonder if all the oil in the Gulf has anything to do with the heat, you know increasing the speed of global climate change?

I made a beach run this morning to check out the condition of the Gulf in my town since Okaloosa Island in Ft. Walton Beach was covered in tar balls yesterday. The pictures on the local news were just awful.

Photo Galleries : Northwest Florida Daily News

For more local news on the oil and just in case that link doesn't take you to the photos here's my local newspaper links and the local news channel:

Northwest Florida Daily News Pensacola News Journal Pensacola news, community, entertainment, y


But as you can see below in my fuzzy picture, not sure what happened, the ancient Coolpix just didn't want to focus this morning, but it could be haze from the heat too, anyway, the water is clear for the time being. There was a huge skimmer ship on the horizon and I tried several times to get a shot of it and they were all big time BLURRY. I gave up. And I'm posting the two pictures below this one all for the benefit of the Florida Department of Tourism:
The water is so clear at Gulf Islands National Seashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach that you can see the shells. See them shells? Do you see them? The water is clean for the moment.

Look there's some toes in desperate need of a pedicure. But there is nary a tar ball floating around my feet.
I have learned a few things over the last couple of weeks. For most of my life I have been a huge supporter of Jackson Browne and his causes. What I never knew was how exhausting being an activist can be. It can take a toll on your life, your mental state and friendships. A week or so ago the spousal unit and I saw tar balls, many, many tar balls in the water and on the beach at Gulf Islands National Seashore. At the time I didn't have the oil on the shore or oil in the water numbers in my phone, at the time I didn't know we would be the only two people in the area to witness this. We took our crappy camera to CNN at Pensacola Beach and showed them but no one checked it out. We got busy with our real lives and I forgot to notify the local news, I thought I had taken care of it on a national level, I mean seriously.
I finally got around to posting a picture on my local news channel's Facebook page and one of the comments was "why didn't I show landmarks for exactly where I was". Excuse me, these beaches aren't named, they don't have bathrooms, much less a trash can. There are no landmarks, 20 miles of white sand and the occaisional parking lot here and there. I learned to be more specific about where I'm taking the picture.
Anyway, that particular weekend every time I mentioned oil or tar balls, friends would say, "Our beach is clear, quit whining, enjoy it while you can". While I appreciate clean beaches, I can't let go of what is happening and what can happen. Last week as tar balls and oil flooded Orange Beach, AL (or was it Gulf Shores?) Anyway, I heard a national news correspondent comment that people on Pensacola Beach were breathing a sigh of relief. A SIGH OF RELIEF? People this is not over, it hasn't even really gotten started good as far as coming ashore. We can't breathe sighs of relief, we need to yell, scream, holler and yes, pull our hair out because nothing is being done. After reading about the Mexican oil rig in the 70s I'm beginning to wonder if anything can be done beyond letting the well empty itself out.
I'm beyond frustrated with the governor of Mississippi. He's like the mayor of Amity in the first Jaws movie. He will not believe the oil is a problem until a big black tidal wave washes ashore in Gulf Port. I understand he wants people to come to their beaches, I understand that their beaches are clear, run some tourism commercials then but quit acting like the rest of us are making up the possibility of something catastrophic being out there just on our horizon. It is very real.
I heard this morning that there might be a 40 mile dead zone in the Gulf. Do you know how much sea life resides in 40 miles of water? I don't have exact numbers but let's go with A LOT.
We have lived here 13 years this July 4th. We do not see dolphins every time we go to the beach. It is so infrequent that when we see a dolphin we squeal like tourists, it's that rare for us. Every single time we have been to the beach in the last few weeks we have seen dolphins. And not just a random loner dolphin, we've seen pods of them. I hope Mother Nature is keeping them safe from the oil, keeping them ahead of the deluge. I've seen so many dolphins lately that I no longer think it's exciting, I'm starting to think it's creepy. That's how rarely we saw them before now. I see them so much that it's creepy.
Last night we were at the pier and a guy caught a shark. It didn't hold the normal excitement for me. It was bittersweet. There was one part of me that thought, "wow he caught a shark, cool" another part that said, "well at least he saved it from death by oil" and then my final thought was, "what if this little guy is one of the last of his kind". Shouldn't the healthy fish be left alone for now? Shouldn't they be given a chance to get to safe waters and mate and breed and survive?
I've never been a person that thought animals, especially fish, shouldn't be eaten but now as more and more sea life is endangered due to oil and tar balls and dispersants, maybe we should let them be. I know right now while everyone says Gulf seafood is safe, I think for the time being when I get my fish and shrimp cravings I'll take my chances with good old Captain D's or Red Lobster. I hate to not support my local fish markets but I'm erring on the side of caution.
60 Blocks of Summer Challenge
I joined The 60 Blocks of Summer challenge on Flickr. My first two blocks can be seen below:

I made these blocks using the tutorial found here:
I thought this challenge would be a good way for me to become besties with my rotary cutter, ruler and sewing machine. I don't have a specific project in mind and honestly my fabric stash is pretty random so I'm just going to work on different squares and see what happens. I may get a sample quilt out of the challenge or lots of smaller projects. Either way my sewing skilz should improve immensely.
I forgot to take an updated picture of my A Haunting Mermaid from Carriage House Samplings so I'll do that another day. I have made a tiny bit of progress, I mentioned how time consuming being an activist is didn't I?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Yesterday we took a drive along Gulf Islands National Seashore. We found this bit of debris in the water and fished it out: It's coated in dispersed oil. It's thick and gunky and a nasty piece of business.
Here is a picture of the this piece of whatever coated in this mess.

Here are tar balls

Do you see how much of this crap there is? No matter what anyone says this will not be easy to clean up. This is one section of beach and no news people were here. We told CNN about it and I have yet to see it reported. Even our local news isn't reporting it. They are all hanging out at Casino Beach in Pensacola instead of driving a few miles up the coast to see the real story.
This gunk you see on the beach was floating in the water. You couldn't step anywhere without coming into contact with it.
Of course we saw hazmat guys up the road behind the million dollar homes where uh, no tar balls were reported. We saw no one on this stretch of beach and we came back a few hours later and it was worse.
Plastic buckets and shovels will not clean up this mess. It's huge, it's ridiculous, and I'm beyond furious. We can't begin to imagine how this will be cleaned up. It's just too much.
I have emailed our local news and CNN and am telling everyone I can about what we've seen. The story is not getting out. There was a sea turtle nest marked just a few feet from this and this stuff was scattered so far along this beach. I can't begin to capture it with my crappy camera.
I am not doomsdaying, I am not saying the sky is falling but I am saying that we are being misled about how easy this is going to be to clean up.

Friday, June 04, 2010

BP Left More Than Their Footprints

Well this morning tar balls started washing ashore at Gulf Islands National Seashore. This is the most gorgeous stretch of beach you will ever see. So what are tar balls? Tar balls look like dog doodoo or dukey or poo or whatever you call it. They are brown and shiney and warm. How do I know they are warm? I stuck my toe in one when I thought it was a piece of driftwood. Whoops. I just gave Tony Hayward, BP head another excuse for what these could be.
The green in the picture is June grass, it's a yearly occurence and used to be the bane of my existence. I will never ever complain about the layer of swamp grass in my bathing suit again because next time I swim in the Gulf my bathing suit will be full of tar balls. I'll take June grass any day.

More seaweed and June grass and tar turds, uh, balls.

And more. I wish I could have gotten a picture the length of the beach to show you all just how many of these there are. I wish I could make everyone see what we have to lose if we don't change our dependency on oil. And yeah, I'm embracing my radical ways once again. We as a society have failed the earth, our children, and future generations all in the name of "get me there faster" and convenience. An inconvenient truth, yep sure as hell is.

I left my footprints.

This picture is supposed to be of some surfers getting in their last ride before the Black Tide hits. Maybe if you biggify it(that's Annette's word) you can see them.

Yep that's a tar ball next to my footprint. Maybe we could give the BP execs a tar ball enema? Because that's just about where I want to stick their well.

While walking along the beach I saw the very edge, the curved edge of this perfect sand dollar peaking through the sand. I expected to only pull out a piece of it but amazingly enough it was in one piece. I posed it on a piece of drift wood and was reminded that even when one is having apocolyptic thoughts, end of days kind of crap, some beauty can be found if you only take moment to see it.
In my younger years I was an idealist. I had this vision of the person I wanted to be, I defined myself a certain way and somewhere that girl got lost. She became the person she used to ridicule, the person who quit looking beyond her back yard. The person who accepted the unacceptable just because that was how it was supposed to be.
When I was pregnant with my oldest son we lived in Ohio, there was an oil refinery in town. I didn't know what that meant being a transplanted Tennessean. One day at lunch, I worked at one of the local hospitals, I was talking with a coworker and mentioned all the strange cancers young kids had and the fact that every one my age was on fertility drugs in the lab where we worked. She begin to tell me about the oil refinery and how she blamed it for the infertility and strange cancers. I quit drinking the local water and started buying fresh produce and eggs from the local Amish farmers. I read Diet for a Small Planet and I Shopped for a Better World. I became a vegetarian. I tried so hard to make a difference and then somewhere along the way, I just started accepting, I ate a bacon cheeseburger. Life was what it was, I couldn't change anything, I couldn't make a difference and I was so tired. I surrendered to life and became just like everyone else.
Now 23 years later, I have found that inner activist. I have found my flower child. Over the next few weeks and months, I plan to change. Somehow, someway I'm going to make a difference.
Don Henley wrote in the book Heaven is Under Our Feet, and I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the book, it's in the garage somewhere, that sometimes you have to give people what they need not what they want. Basically, we're back to the inconvenient truth. Living greener is not convenient, it's not even pleasant and honestly I don't know if it's even doable. But I do know this, we can all make changes and I learned years ago when I wanted to boycott another company over their infant formula practices that some companies have their brand everywhere. You think you are boycotting only to discover that you have a house full of their brand only it's cloaked and you've been unknowingly supporting them after all. So I don't think a boycott of BP is realistic. I never buy gas there, the only times that has ever happened was when I was on the road and it was my only option.
The Gulf is my Walden Pond and I've let her down. I've lived a life of convenience and made choices that weren't in her best interest. I hope over the next few months to make some serious changes. Can I do it? I don't know, hell I don't even know exactly what to do. I just know that things have got to change, people have got to change, we as a society have to make those hard choices because they are right and not choose the easier road.
I hope with all my heart that the Gulf will be able to revive herself and flourish again. I have seen some interviews that offer a lot of hope in that direction but I fear that this is going to be just too devastating for her.