Showing posts from July, 2008


Jody and her partner collecting crayfish near our dock.

One of our visitors during our stay on the island this summer was Jody Peters, a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame who is researching crayfish. Specifically, her research focuses on "species coexistence and invasion" in northern lakes. In the Great Lakes region, the native crayfish species, northern crayfish (orconectes virilis), has faced increasing competition from an invasive species, the rusty crayfish (orconectes rusticus), which was introduced into our waters as escaped bait. In some places, as in the waters around our island, the two species are able to coexist. In other places, the rusty is driving out the native crayfish. Rusty crayfish (pictured at right), native to the Ohio River basin, were first found in Minnesota lakes and rivers in 1967. In addition to competing with the native species, they are responsible for a decrease in aquatic plants in many lakes, and may contribute to a decre…

An Island Garden

Cedar Lodge, pictured at left, was built in 1902 for F.A. Seiberling, the founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The lodge, along with two boathouses, stands on Long Island, in Lake Huron, near larger Marquette Island. In the early years of Cedar Lodge, the landscape architect Warren Manning was invited to spend some time on the island. Manning had started out working for Frederick Law Olmsted before setting up shop on his own, and it was Manning who landscaped the extensive gardens of the Seiberling mansion, Stan Hywet, in Akron, Ohio. Manning spent his time on the island botanizing. He compiled a list of dozens of species found on the island, many of which are still found there today: twin flowers and gentians, lobelia kalmii and zygadenus, pearly everlasting and enchanter’s nightshade. He wrote to the Seiberlings about their island retreat: “Avoid the landscape man as you would a pest, who would have you make the wild give way to the rigid lines, the stone and wood forms…

The Value of a Human Life

"I think it's important to promote a culture of life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person matters." George W. Bush, October 13, 2004
Throughout his Presidency, Bush has promoted what he likes to call a "culture of life," by which he means a culture in which abortion is illegal. The phrase "culture of life" comes from Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995). But the Pope included in that phrase a much more generous idea of reverence for life, including opposition to the death penalty and care for the natural environment which supports life on this planet. American evangelicals and “pro-life” political conservatives take a much more narrow view, and focus on the single hot-button issue of abortion. But even in the womb, children are exposed to increasing levels of toxins that put their health and development at risk. They are born into a world in which the diversity of life is rapidly d…

Crazy Daze

Yesterday morning, I underwent successful surgery to repair a right inguinal hernia. I checked into the hospital at 6:30 a.m. I met with the anaesthesiologist, then had an IV inserted in my left hand. I tense up around needles, but the nurse said I did as well with it as your average ten-year old. At about 7:30, the surgeon came in and told me what to expect. Then I walked with the nurse down to Operating Room 4. The operating room was very cold and white and high-tech. I lay down on the operating table, stretched out my arms crucifixion-style, and had special leg warmers put on my legs. A nurse injected something into the IV tube...

I woke up sometime after ten in a different room. I was very disoriented, and I can't remember much. Eventually I was wheeled back to the recovery room, where I sucked on some ice chips, took one bite of toast, and then felt too nauseous to continue. I was given something for the nausea, and fell asleep again. I woke up and ate a few small s…
4:50 p.m. I'm still alive, but in pain.
It's six in the morning. I'm about to leave for the hospital. If all goes well, in a few hours I should be up and singing "Elmo's Surgery."

Reading Journal: Deep Economy

At the recent G8 summit in Japan, the faltering global economy was high on the agenda. Food and energy prices have been rising, and (according to a recent BBC poll) there has been an increasing awareness worldwide that both the costs and the benefits of globalization have been unequally distributed. In setting his goals for the summit, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon wrote: "Never in recent memory has the global economy been under such stress. More than ever, this is the moment to prove that we can cooperate globally to deliver results: in meeting the needs of the hungry and the poor, in promoting sustainable energy technologies for all, in saving the world from climate change—and in keeping the global economy growing." Most economists and world leaders, like Ban Ki Moon, unquestioningly accept the idea that continued economic growth is necessary to "deliver results": to feed the hungry and bring prosperity to more of the world. McKibben, in Deep…

Reading Journal: "Green Dolphin Street"

The protagonist of Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street (1944) is strong-willed, smart, capable, cocksure, and eager for adventure. The only problem is that Marianne Le Patourel is a girl, born in the first half of the nineteenth century. She dreams of sailing on a clipper ship and of leaving her mark on life. If, as a woman, she is prevented from doing this for herself, she will find herself a husband and make of him the man she wishes she could be. Unfortunately, Marianne seems to be afflicted with a kind of narcissistic personality disorder. She judges everything by herself and her own ambitions, and spends most of the novel making life miserable for everyone around her, including, sometimes, the reader. She's acquisitive, jealous, and manipulative. I wanted to sympathize with her because, as a woman in the nineteenth century, self-fulfillment is denied her: she can't be a sea captain or a doctor or a wealthy entrepreneur. But Goudge uses Marianne to illustra…

Musical Crush of the Week: Mishka Adams

Mishka Adams, "Where Do We Begin"from the Candid Records CD God Bless the Child (2005/2008)

Au Revoir, Kookiejar

On my return to the blogosphere last night, after a three weeks absence, I was shocked to learn that my blogfriend Kookiejar has decided to retire her blog, A Fraternity of Dreamers. She's been a good and entertaining blogfriend, and her almost daily presence on the internets will be missed. Best wishes, Kookie, in all your future endeavors, and enjoy life after forty!

Back in One Week

Hello, everyone! I'm sitting at a public computer in the Les Cheneaux Public LIbrary in Cedarville, Michigan. I'll be back and blogging again in one week. Today. Clara and I canoed over to the next island (Birch Island) to look at the shipwreck. I'll have photographs of that, and much more, when I return to Northfield in a week...