Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Devastation Caused by Misused Quotation Marks

I have a confession to make:

Sssshhh... don't tell.

((i love reading the comments on news stories.))

It's terrible, I know. Everybody knows the unwritten rule that you just don't read the comments. Good things rarely come from the arguments in the comment sections, and I think the news stories are the worst.

But, no matter. I'm in love with the high I get when I read the comments section of a news story. ("high" as in "high blood pressure.")

So, yesterday I was reading a news story, I don't know who published it and I can't actually remember what the point was, but I *think* it was about the severe weather that recently moved through our area and the fact that in a count of 9+ tornadoes including one EF-3 that leveled a Starbucks among other damages, not one person was seriously injured and nobody was killed. I think that is just incredible. Obviously, everybody else thinks that too. Somehow in the comments, if I'm even remembering this correctly, the conversation of the local disaster tied into the recent, terrible earthquake in Italy (my family there is all fine, in case you know me personally and have been wondering. They are north of where it struck.)

In the comments section, a woman (I think her name was something like Carol, so I'll just call her that) said, "In Italy they found a 10 year old girl "alive" after 17 hours of being trapped!" Everybody was amazed and rejoicing in the comments afterward.

Everybody, that is, except Jane.

Jane replied, "Why did you put quotation marks around the word alive?" People at first ignored her comment, somebody eventually said something along the lines that, sure, the quotation marks were misused but it didn't matter since everybody knew what Carol was saying.

Jane did not think it was okay. Jane evidently has serious problems with the misuse of quotation marks. She kind of went off the deep end. People assured her that it wasn't a big deal, but she believed it was. She even started name calling. One name I remember was "dumb," but there were others. Carol herself even responded, saying that she didn't know the quotation marks were of consequence, she was just so happy the girls was alive, but Jane just would not let up.

I couldn't help commenting. I wanted to say more, but instead, I settled with saying, "Jane, you're mean." I didn't really want to get into it on there. But my brain kept going.


My brain was saying, "Jane, how deeply does this misuse of punctuation affect you? Does Carol's incorrectly placed quotation marks around the world "alive" mean that everyone you love will soon be "not alive?" Does it mean your son won't get into the college he's really hoping for? Does it mean financial disaster, perhaps even ruin for you? Is your dog going to get mange because of this? Will your pen-pal in Switzerland stop writing to you? Will your half and half go sour and curdly long before the stamped expiration date on the carton? Does your computer screen explode when it comes across misplaced quotation marks? What is it, Jane? Why the heck is this such a big deal to you?"

My brain was saying, "Geez, Jane! Give it a rest!"

It reminds me of when people really get after the commenters who can't seem to figure out that caps lock button. The poor commenters probably don't even know it's there. They are typing and words are appearing on theirs screen, and sure, they are all big letters, but what they are saying obviously doesn't match the capitalization, and who really cares about the etiquette of computer type when clearly this is a person who isn't shouting, and whose issues are not related to anger, but rather to technological incompetence?

For crying out loud, people! I know there are ways to do things. I know there are correct spellings, punctuations, grammar rules, and a whole freaking language concerning internet lingo, manners and faux pas. But really, do we have to get after people for every little thing? Even if it is a pet peeve, even if seeing misused quotations is like fingernails on a chalkboard to you, PLEASE.... just keeeeeeeeeep scrolling. Chances are, addressing the mistake is just not worth it.

However, I have to admit, if people stopped being jerks in the comment sections, how would I get my entertainment? Maybe I should really tell Jane thanks!

Parenting in the Age of Judgement

I think we can all agree on one thing when it comes to parenting: it's hard. When you become a parent your status of being changes from Comfortable Individual to Person in Charge of Another Being. It's kind of scary. And that's just the first hour or so. After that it's sleepless nights and endless bottles or aching breasts (or both!) and so much crying, all while you're trying to adjust to your fresh loss of individuality. Two-year-olds will be two-year-olds, simultaneously the most incredible and most exhausting creatures on the planet. Three-year-olds are pretty much the same, except with a bigger vocabulary and longer legs—so they're faster. Then there's the endless worry that comes with being a parent. Are they getting enough green vegetables? Are they going to be ready for kindergarten? Do they need glasses? Are their teeth getting brushed enough? Are they safe? Are they healthy? Are they succeeding? Am I doing this right? And that worry just goes on forever.

According to my own mother, parenting these days is just no fun. Moms worry too much nowadays. We stress about every little thing until parenting—which is hard enough to begin with—is just robbed of all it's natural joy. I think she's absolutely right, and I can see why it has become that way.

We are living in an age of Judgement, especially among parenting social circles. Admitting that there are some really terrible and abusive family situations, and leaving those to their own realm, it seems to me that parents are not safe from criticism these days, no matter what methods they use, philosophies they live by, no matter how much they think they are doing the right thing for their children. And if a mistake is made, no matter how small—LOOK OUT.

Parents look at other parents and they pick out all the ways their peers are doing it wrong. All the way they are damaging their kids, all the ways they aren't giving their all... just thinking about all the different ways parents criticize each other makes my head spin. But a big thing lately seems to be reporting those parents they deem “unworthy.” A child seen playing basketball in his backyard is deemed in danger because his parents aren't home. Any child farther than an arm's reach from his parents is being sorely neglected. Children in general are no longer allowed to do things like ride their bikes or walk to school or camps because of the incredible danger that those activities pose to the kids.

What? Are we serious? How has it come to this? I find it hard to believe the world is really that much more dangerous than it was thirty years ago, when my generation and all those before me were allowed to roam free. It's talked about a lot on the internet these days, how it doesn't seem like that long ago that the parents of today were kids with a lot more freedom and individuality. We were allowed to do things independently, learn from our mistakes, problem solve, find out who we were and who we wanted to be, without a parent constantly holding our hand. I would prefer to give my girls the same upbringing, but it seems like that is pretty frowned upon these days.

Earlier this spring we moved back to our old house right across the street from the public library. Anja and Greta are now 8 and 7 years old, and the posted age to be allowed unsupervised in the library youth department is 6. I had always imagined them walking over to the library on their own, and as adults having great memories of doing so.

How foolish of me!

I talked to one of the youth librarians who told me the rules about kids in the library, and I told her where we lived and that they were going to start walking over on their own sometimes because I felt like they were old enough to do so. Independently, I made the rule that they were never to go without the other, that they were just to check out books and come back home, not hang out there for long spans of time, and that they were to be on their best behavior, remember their manners, look out for each other, etc. Typical parental rules that really are only stated as a technicality because I should hope they would do all this on their own without being told. The first day I let them go they were SO EXCITED. They packed our library bag with books to return, and set off. Now let me be clear here: I could see them until the moment they entered the library. The building is across the street, the entrance is less than a block down. I sat on the porch and watched until I saw they had safely made it into the building. And then I sat on the porch, watching the door, waiting for them to come out. I was nervous. I knew they would be fine, I knew they would be perfectly behaved, I knew they would find their books, check out, come home, just as I had told them to do. I knew nobody would snatch them because I was WATCHING THE DOOR, and I knew they couldn't possibly get lost because they go to the library almost every day and know their way around. What was I so afraid of then? Well, I'll tell you: I was afraid of judgement. Honestly, I was afraid someone would call the police. I was afraid I would be labeled negligent. I was afraid that allowing my school aged children to go to the library alone would somehow lead to all of my children being taken away from me.

Doesn't that seem a little extreme?

It should seem extreme, but it turns out it's not so far fetched at all. Since then, I have heard of many, many stories of well-meaning parents having their children taken away from them because they were “left alone” or rather, allowed to be alone. Children older than my own. Children even better prepared than mine were, with a cell phone and house keys. Somewhat recently, a friend of mine had the police called to her house by some passersby because her baby was crying inside—crying because she put him down while she was getting dressed. I know her to be an excellent mom, the farthest thing from negligent you can imagine. But in the eyes of the world, putting your shirt on is next to abuse, if your baby makes a racket about it.

Such a big day of going to the library by themselves for the first time seemed worth the commemoration of a social media post. It was interesting, the responses I received. Most applauded—for the girls being so grown up and independent, for me allowing them to stretch their wings. But some didn't. Some offered to go with them if I couldn't. Some advised against letting them go alone because it was dangerous. In general, the response I got was a mixed bag. I thought the negativity was unfortunate, though I didn't take it personally, but it spoke volumes about the parenting norms of the day.

And the parenting norms these days instill fear and judgement.

One of the reasons I was so desperate to move out of the city three years ago was fear. I was anxious all the time, afraid of the police showing up at my door during any one of the many fits from my babies, toddlers and preschoolers through the six years and three children we had in this house. Many, many times, instead of addressing a toddler tantrum with comfort and redirection, I reacted with anxiety and fear, doing everything I could to quiet the tantrum as fast as possible, before anyone noticed. My fear made me parent in ways I didn't agree with. I have often found myself even shushing their happy screaming in the backyard, for no reason other than I don't want someone to think they are in trouble and send “help.” It's one of my greatest fears that someone might suspect me of negligence and snatch my kids, and I feel that the fear is not unfounded; the more I read the news, the more I see that it happens way too often without good reason.

Now that we are back in this house, my anxiety has spiked again for all these same reasons. While my life can often look like a collection of serene Instagram photos (and sometimes it is,) it's often all four girls screaming at each other at the same time. Sometimes it's loud and unpleasant and I'm sure that everyone on the block can hear them. But I deal with it the best I can, aiming for gentle but not permissive parenting. I succeed sometimes. Sometimes I don't. But you know what? Whether I succeed in my parenting style or not, I will be judged by others no matter what I do. Because we don't just judge other parents when we feel they are endangering their children—we judge them for everything.

Gentle parenting is criticized for being permissive. Having strict boundaries and disciplinary followup is criticized for being too rigid. Bottle feeding is criticized for being unnatural. Breastfeeding is criticized for being sexual. Homebirths are unsafe. Hospital births are intrusive. Natural birth is overrated. Cesareans aren't birthy enough. You can't win.

On the one hand, I guess it's nice to know that I'm a failure no matter what. I can march forward with confidence, knowing that the path I'm choosing is best for me and that nobody else will think so. On the flip side, however, there's that relentless nervous feeling I'm constantly battling, worrying who is judging me and if the judger is someone who will take action, or mind their own business in the end.

Parenting is tough. From start to finish it's so hard, but so rewarding. I wish we could stop stealing the rewarding aspect from one another and show more support to our peers in the field. It's not a competition. Yes, we all have different viewpoints. That's what makes us individuals. That's what gives flavor to the world. It's special. And raising unique individuals as unique individuals is what will continue to keep the world an exciting place, where not everyone thinks alike, where everyone has experienced different things, or experienced the same things differently. I worry that by taking the joy of adventure and individuality out of our childrearing, we are covering up the variety of our future generations. Let's let go a little bit. Let's let our kids spread their wings a little wider, fly a little farther from the nest. Let's assume healthy risk in parenting—and view others' healthy risks without judgement—so that we can help our little people to grow into really great big people. Let's support our kids and our peers in the raising of an awesome future. Our kids are destined to be the grownups of the world someday, the ones running this place, so we truly are all in this together. Let's do better.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Day I Took my Own Advice

We are now one week into our homeschool year. Anja is a third grader, Greta is a second grader, and I started our year as a homeschool instructor one hundred percent lacking in motivation. Our first days back were rough. Nobody was feeling it, nobody wanted to buckle down and learn, we couldn't find our groove... I felt like I was failing, big time. I told Martin—we take this homeschooling thing year-by-year, child-by-child and maybe this is the year that they need to go to school. We struggled through the first week of math review... tears over addition and subtraction they learned half a year ago was suddenly causing them endless anguish. Five full days went by with the same schedule on each day of my planner with almost nothing actually getting done. We didn't learn the St. Michael prayer. We did the cursive workbooks, but we didn't follow up with the full Geography lesson I had planned for each day. Poetry? None. Copywork? Zero. We did take a nature day on Friday, which was very successful and educational, but I count that as my single success of the week. Other than that, on the Train of Success, I was riding on the caboose. 

We had an extremely relaxed weekend. Usually our weekends are spent running around, but somehow it ended up not that way this past weekend, and it seemed to be just what we all needed. A nice, relaxing reset for our tired minds. Today everybody woke up cheerful. We didn't even have a nutritious breakfast, but all the girls were being super kind to each other, and so willing to do their work! It was amazing! They helped each other through math and the older girls helped Elka with her alphabet and color-by-numbers. 

Then, just when I thought surely my luck was going to run out, we had a peaceful lunch all together, followed by more schoolwork, done with cheerful smiles. It was..... incredible. 

And I thought at the end of the day, how was that day so good? How did we make that day so much better than the past week had been? 

And I realized, just maybe, it was my own attitude. I started Monday feeling good because Ingrid, who had woken up at an insane hour that morning, had gone back to sleep around 8:00 and I knew that her little morning nap was not only going to make our morning easier, but it was going to make her super cheerful when she woke up. I was looking forward to her waking up, knowing how cute she was going to be. I was calmer and more relaxed in our lessons because I was in a better mood. Surely, the girls sensed that and were their good natured attitudes were a reaction to my own. I didn't nag them about anything. The morning flowed easily at it's own pace. We STILL didn't get our Geography lessons done. But I didn't worry about it... I willingly put it off until tomorrow and filled the time with extra reading time, which we all enjoyed. We started The Wind in the Willows and instead of staying inside to read it, we went to the porch where everyone colored in their sketchbooks as I read aloud to them. (I was tickled that Anja loved it so much. We tried starting it last year at this time, and she was not ready... this year, they love it!) It was a picture of how I envision homeschooling in my most lovely homeschooling fantasylands. It was really great. (Until Ingrid fell off the porch swing onto her head and I, in a rush to try to catch her [I didn't] flung Elka from my lap, causing her to fall on her head as well. Many tears, but even that turned into a cozy time of togetherness. I'm telling you, this day was magical.) 

Slowing down really worked. When Martin got home from work, we were all still in good moods. The girls had had a lot of time for free play that afternoon and had been very involved in their doll games. I was able to get dinner made and we all sat down together to eat. Martin gave them even more impromptu schooling. After dinner we took a family walk and when they asked if we could take our walk up to my parents' house, even though it was after bedtime, I realized that our days of walking up there were very limited and I said yes. 

It was a great day. I'm hoping that the rest of the week follows (I know it probably won't) and that we have a learning-filled week of happiness. This was just the change I needed to get me appreciating our choice to homeschool! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

So, Annie, How's 'bout that Recording?

Way back in April I decided that my summer project was going be to record again. I was going to do it on the cheap, at home, solo, using just what I had--my own instruments, my own voice, my own computer--simple. While the disc I did so many years ago was fun, and I'm so glad I made it, it really opened my eyes to how much goes into recording, even on the local, personal level. Lots of time, lots of money, of which I currently have neither, haha. This time around I was hoping for something more raw.

Conveniently, our move back downtown had two immediate benefits to my recording: one was that I started writing songs like the olden times. For having gone close to three years without writing a single workable song, this breakthrough has been incredible. The second benefit was that it was soon to be tax return time. With our tax returns we bought a nice laptop computer, one that could handle the job of recording. With the help of a friend, I got a deal on a decent microphone and help setting my computer up with a recording app, and then I was set to go at my own pace, in trial-by-error style.

Surprisingly, I was able to achieve the sound I wanted pretty much from the start. (Turns out "simple" is not difficult! Shocking!) Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, time didn't come as easily. I was able to snag an hour or so here and there by taking advantage of "Special Daddy Time," but in general, my time is taken up by my kids, who even when they are not immediately needing me, are LOUD. IN EVERYTHING THEY DO.

Another thing happened as I got rolling on my own music, which was that I started playing out more often! It started just playing a coffee shop with Kim, but it has turned into playing more frequently with more people as a band, and it's been REALLY fun. But of course, with limited time, if I'm playing out more, I'm recording less.

Overall, I've been shooting for a twelve-track disc and as of today I have eight of those songs recorded in completion. Ten are my own originals, two are public domain, old folk songs. I'm happy with what I have so far! It's definitely simple, but it's a good feeling to supply everything needed to make a full song that's a step up from just guitar and melody. I hope to soon start making the recordings more presentable and then move on to learn about how to get them online for listening. And I'll have an actual, tangible disc made as well.

So that's where that project currently stands. While I definitely am having to push off my finish date into the fall, I'm pleased with how it's going and still excited for the finished product. Hopefully soon it will be able to be heard outside of my house!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to School means End of the Boho Summer

We started school today. At our kitchen table. With our shiny new markers and workbooks and curriculum for a second grader, third grader and kindergartener. We started with enthusiasm. And that enthusiasm lasted about twenty minutes. 

This was the passenger seat of my minivan last week: 

Mandolin. Wildflowers and herbs tied up with garden twine. Battered, vegan sandals made from recycled plastic. On my way to band practice.

And then this morning I was back at my table with my coffee, trying to navigate two different math lessons while simultaneously trying to teach the three-point grasp to my four-year-old AND smelling the oatmeal overflowing onto the stove burner. That doesn't account for the two-year-old, who was up half the night last night thanks to a blasted cat who knocked a glass off a table and shattered it, causing a big ruckus and by that action gifted us with a 2am-5am party with the toddler, which I really hadn't wanted to attend.

Back to the coffee.

I'm always on the fence about homeschooling. When Anja and Greta were preschooler age, I got a little twinge of sadness when I saw all the official back-to-school pictures on Facebook, people's children all dressed up in clean clothes with their cute ponytails and new socks, standing next to a chalkboard announcing their first day of school. At that time, I felt like I was doing my girls a disservice by keeping them home.

But that feeling didn't last.

Our very first year of homeschooling was rough; I never did find my groove, but the girls learned to read that year and so they ended up learning a lot, without a set schedule from me. They read--some on their own, and some as read-alouds-- all the American Girl series, and it prompted us to talk extensively about different times in history.

After that we found our rhythm, to the point where last year I felt undeniably happy with my homeschooling choice. I would describe last year as the perfect homeschool year. We worked hard, we learned a lot, and I closed out our year last May feeling proud of all of us and ready for a well-earned vacation.

And now that vacation is ending and I'm sobbing into my pillow because I already miss my beloved summer of constant music and backyard s'mores and going barefoot and sleeping in. We stayed up late every night. We walked everyplace. We never had a schedule (except for two weeks in June-July when we had swimming lessons.) We went to the creek so often and to the pool less often, but still a handful of times. We explored Celery Bog and foraged wild black raspberries and sorrel for snacks. We sat on the porch during thunderstorms, caught crawdads and lightning bugs and minnows. We fished. We frolicked. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN.

This morning was rough. The girls were all enthusiastic enough, but I wasn't. I could see straightaway that juggling all four of them was going not going to be easy, and that difficulty was going to be compounded by the fact that my heart just wasn't in it. It's not that I don't want to homeschool though... it's just that I don't want this season to end.

I know you can't appreciate summer without winter, I know all the poetic junk about the changing seasons and beauty in the year round and yadda yadda yadda... But I want this...

 and this...

And THIS... keep going. Sweaty afternoon naps, climbing trees, all meals outside, reading story books all day long without worrying about whether or not we can keep carrying and borrowing straight, or count by twos and fives and tens. It was a good, good summer and I'm sad to see it go.

Well, there will of course be external factors to move me along. Fall will arrive. That will get us more in the mood to cozy down with our school books and learn our multiplication tables over mugs of hot chocolate. We'll be traveling to Boston in October and that will be an incredibly fun and educational trip. There will be plenty of nature walks and animal science and outdoor time the year round, so I shouldn't be so down. And I love homeschooling, I really do. I love to see my kids thrive and be so creative and eager to learn. They ask so many questions, and because it's just us, we can get answers together right away. We can spend as much time as we want on one question, learning everything we can, because we have the freedom to explore within our learning. "Limitless Exploration Learning" is what homeschooling could be called. The other day on the walk home from Mass we turned off onto the Heritage Trail that runs along the Wabash River. We didn't go far, but we foraged and identified a lot of different trees and plants and read the plaques about the history of the trail and the bridges over the river. Yesterday we went to play at the creek and we talked about the Battle of Tippecanoe as we visited the actual battlefield and the memorial there. (We also made multiple trips into the Nature Center, because Anja is completely obsessed and can't stay out! We stayed watching the birds until they closed!) Homeschooling truly is a "learning all the time" endeavor, which is why people are attracted to it, and I just need to remind myself of why I love it and choose it for my family. Also, reading Jonathan Bean's "This is my Home, This is my School," picture book to myself today really helped. It made me realize that if I didn't live this sort of life, I would read a book like that and wish that I DID. (But I do! So all is well!)

See, just writing this out is making me look forward more to the school year ahead! I knew there could be some good in complaining on the internet.

A happy new school year to you all.

Friday, August 5, 2016


The girls and I had such a fun day today. We met up with our friends early in the morning and caravanned up North to where our other friends live and spent the day all together at the Indiana Dunes. I love the Dunes. We really only end up making it up there once a year, but every time we go, no matter the weather or season, we have a fantastic time. It's fun to be able to give my kids a beachy experience despite the fact that we are actually landlocked. It's also neat to be able to stand on the beach and see the city of Chicago in the distance. Lake Michigan is important to us more recently because of reading Holling C. Holling's Paddle to the Sea last year in our schooling. Today Greta found a little red plastic tomahawk in the water and she wondered aloud through many scenarios of it's origins, no doubt inspired by good old Paddle.

Between our families we had eleven children ages 2-9 years and it was a liiiiiiittle bit frazzling at times keeping track of everybody. But it was so worth it.

Even the drive up there wasn't too bad. It takes only about 90 minutes on the interstate to get from home to Lake Michigan, but today it started to rain so we took a back route through a small town. It was really beautiful; lots of homesteads and cottage-style houses, in what I feel like are some of the original “suburbs” of the nation.  (I don't know if they really are, but that's what my imagination says they are.) 

Yesterday Martin and I had been talking about cars and roads. We were wondering about the morality of driving cars. (I know, we sound like loons. But until we actually refuse to drive cars and believe they are wicked, I don't think we're completely off our rockers yet!) When you think of cars these days, it comes along with the fact that everybody's in a hurry. Everyone needs to get somewhere, and they need to get there FAST. It's so important for us to get places quickly that we will literally risk our lives and the lives of our passengers to make it happen. Today we didn't caravan back home—my kids were slow to get in their car seats and I was slow to leave, so our friends went on ahead of us. I decided to take the interstate the whole way back because I don't really know my way through the small towns of The Region, so I jumped on I-94. And I-94 WANTED TO KILL ME.

I kid you not, I was driving above 70mph and I was the slowest vehicle on the road. It was hands down the most stressful thing I've done in a really, really long time, INCLUDING having to squeeze a newborn kitten's head through a cardboard tube of washi tape after he crawled into it and got stuck. (that was yesterday. I seriously thought I was going to pull his head off, but he survived with no injury.) I can't even tell you how scary it was for me to drive on a packed, zoomy, ridiculous road like that. I AM A PEDESTRIAN, PEOPLE. I DON'T DO FAST DRIVING.

But that's not why I'm morally against cars. (haha! Kidding! I'm not really... not yet.) It's not because I personally am afraid of them. It's because I risked the lives of my kids to be able to have a fun day with our friends. Now, on the one hand, without a car at all, it couldn't have happened. However, I really feel that driving, like so much of the world, has gotten kind of out of control. The “progress” of speed in the vehicle industry is not necessarily a good thing. The “progress” of so many roads, while I realize they create jobs, allow spread out friends and family to see each other, etc., is encouraging people to spend more time in cars, to live farther away from each other, because—why not? Zip, zip! I can be anywhere I want in a flash! If we took life more slowly, we still could have driven to the Dunes today and had a fun, full day. We could have made it a three+ hour drive rather than ninety minutes and had just as great of a time. If we could just slow down.

While we were gone, Martin occupied himself by starting fires with bow drills and hand drills and foraging plants and stuff. He was going to go fishing, but decided not to because the creek he was going to fish in is labeled a 5 for fish eating safety, which translates to “DO NOT EVER EAT FISH FROM THIS WATERWAY OR YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE ON THE SPOT.” How gross is that? And how depressing is it that we as people of industry and progress have made it to be that way? Our “progress” on land had made it so that we cannot safely harvest food from natural sources. This does not seem right to me. This does not sound like progress.

I could, admittedly, live about an hour if I had to forage all my food and water. I can imagine myself going “hunting” and throwing a stick at a rabbit, then dying of a panic attack when I didn't kill it. (Or did! Really, either result would bring panic!) And if I didn't die of the panic attack, I'd just eat something poisonous. Plant ID is not my forte. Luckily, I married a guy who could live totally comfortably well into his old age as a hunter-gatherer. Except, it doesn't matter how much skill or knowledge you have if your edibles are not healthy to consume. There is a sign along the riverbank downtown that warns of sewage overflow in the event of heavy rains and flooding. That's disgusting. I generally allow my kids to eat sorrel when they find it. But when we find sorrel along the riverbank growing near a sign the warns of sewage overflow? Um, that's gross.

And that's not progress.

I don't even know what we can do about it. You can't really undo industrial progress. You can't surprise workers all over the planet by sneaking a wild edible pamphlet into their paycheck envelope and saying “good luck.” You can't just tell people we aren't going to drive cars anymore. I know so many areas of society are trying to repair the damage we've done, but I don't really see it being able to happen. Sadly.

I don't know. Maybe I'm becoming an extremist. Maybe I've been Earthing too much and all those electro-energy molecules are traveling from the soles of my feet up to my brain and turning me into a hardcore radical nature preserver of the worst kind. Maybe you'll see me in the bushes along I-94 sometime soon wearing clothes made only of leaves tied together with homemade nettle fiber cordage, throwing free-range eggs at cars.

Okaaaay, probably not. You'll more likely see me in the Aldi parking lot (where I park my fossil fuel powered vehicle) and trade me my cart for a quarter. But you never can tell what the future holds, and I think Aldi does carry free-range eggs.

Time to go wash the sand out of my hair.