Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Simple is Plenty for Me

I was just 14 years old when this aired on Saturday Night Live, but I have never forgotten it. It reminds me, especially having flown just two weeks ago, of a much simpler time when people eagerly waited for their friends and family at the gate where people came up the jetway.

Our lives are so complex now with 24 hour news, tiny computers that are also phones, cameras, telegraph equipment (think txt mssg), video cameras, and shopping centers (Ebay), plus laptop computers, and cars that respond to our voices. In 1975 sales of the microwave exceeded gas ranges for the first time. Children don't know that pancakes start with eggs, flour, and buttermilk in liquid form, or that French toast didn't originate as French toast sticks.

Tomorrow families across our country, and those serving our country here and in every corner of the Earth, will come together to share a meal and be thankful. Thanksgiving isn't about presents, shiny ribbon, or battery operated toys. It is meant to give all of us a day to pause and reflect.

Some of us will not set as many places at the table as last year, but hopefully we will feel the warmth and love of those who aren't with us. Others may be painfully aware of having much less in their checkbooks than they did last year, and dread the constant onslaught of "buy this" that has already begun without mercy. Whether spoken or not, some of us will know that while all the seats are filled at the table, next year they may not be.

I hope that tomorrow each of us will find a reason to smile at some point during the day. Some smiles may come from the deep satisfaction of seeing a newborn nestled in the crook of a great-grandparent's arm. Children will smile when they think no one has seen them pinching a taste of melted marshmallow from the sweet potatoes. A young cook will smile with relief that the meal is more than just edible, it is actually good.

I don't have a cooking assignment tomorrow (mine is for Friday night's meal with 22 people). Instead, tomorrow I will cover two large tables with heavy brown paper. Then I will put out brand new crayons (a total of 96) within easy reach of each chair. I know my family well enough to be sure that just about everyone, including the great grandparents, will at the least play tic-tac-toe with one of the younger children. Linen tablecloths and ironed napkins just don't feel right this year.

A year ago on the day before Thanksgiving, I had a follow up mammogram because something didn't look right. Last week I was told there is no indication that the early stage cancer I had removed from my left breast in late December has returned. So simple is a good fit for me this year: a simple thankfulness that I am well, and that the people I know and love are well. And that is reason enough to smile. And to be thankful.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Leadership Signals Trouble Ahead for Plant Washington

My friends at SACE have summed up the release of the air permit for Plant Washington and the new direction expected to be chosen by newly elected Cobb EMC directors. Read their blog here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The glass won't even be half full

The Georgia Water Coalition released a list of the state's 12 dirtiest or threatened rivers over the weekend, and my little community has the embarrassing distinction of being on it (at number 6) due to the foolish pursuit of a coal fired power plant that will suck 16 million gallons of water a day out of either the Oconee River (which is always critically low), or 15 wells in the recharge area of the Ogeechee River. Now home owners and farmers will have to compete with a coal plant for sufficient water for daily use.

Wondering what the Oconee looks like during a stage 4 drought? You could walk across it and not get your feet wet (photo from the state of Georgia, 2007). Since Plant Washington was announced in January 2008, the developers, Power4Georgians, have admitted that the river levels were too low to supply the plant during one summer and they would have relied entirely on the ground water supplies.

Let me make this clear: I know and love many good people in Atlanta and other metropolitan cities in Georgia who have serious water shortage issues. I know they need water for their families and communities just like the rural folks do.

The difference is, when the only source of water you have for your home or farm is a well, you treat it with incredible respect and conservation. Losing your water trumps everything else on your day's agenda. The solution isn't as easy as calling the city utility department and finding out that it is something simple like flushing the lines. Not having water demands immediate attention, and it can also mean considerable costs.

The people who depend on wells in the area around the proposed plant site understand better than anyone else that the threat to our wells is real. If we lose our water permanently due to the draw down (and a USGS  staffer with no skin in the game said it will happen sooner rather than later if the plant is built), everything we have invested in our homes and farms will be dried up, literally.

Even if there was a work around for the water that has sustained families here for hundred of years, P4G hasn't stood behind their promises in writing to make sure we have water if the plant impacts us. That confirms what we have known all along: our water supplies can't sustain the additional demand of 16 million gallons per day from the Oconee or local wells. Period.