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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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Sunday the temps climbed into the 60’s (farenheit). Then Monday they crashed into the 20’s. Sometimes nature plays cruel jokes on us. But the reality is that winters along the Great Lakes are usually unpredictable and brutal. A planned trip to the reservation for hiking was scrapped because I just wasn’t ready for the bitter cold. But Rich and I wanted to do something–anything–to get out of the house. I don’t know when we hit on the idea of going to the Cleveland Zoo, specifically the Rainforest, but remembering that Monday’s are free we took five minutes to grab camera, bundle up, and head out the door. And what better place to visit on a bitter cold Cleveland day than the tropical rainforest! When we entered the building we encountered steamy warmth, a waterfall, and lush foliage. Ahhhh. What a treat. As we walked through the forest, the colors and sounds of animals from faraway lands in recreated habitats piqued our interests and sated our curiosity. This was more than an entertaining excursion to ward off winter-time blues however, it also proved to be a learning expedition as we discovered the ways animals and plants of every kind create an ecosystem across the globe, and how a rainforest in South America is crucial to life in Cleveland, OH and everywhere else. Fascinating. We also saw sobering displays of how we humans are destroying this ecosystem. By the time we departed the rainforest and headed back into the cold cold north country, our spirits were not only lifted, but we were more committed than ever to supporting conservation efforts. It was a good day of learning and enjoyment. I am grateful for the Cleveland Zoo Rainforest and all zoos that treat animals humanely while also educating the public about the quantum world of which we are a part.

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Life for the past three and a half years has been filled with demands, deadlines, and all the stresses that go with  graduate studies. Too often I have gotten lost in the whirlwind of expectations and “busyness” of completing assignments, papers, presentations, and making the grade. Today that is behind me. I find myself relishing the freedom of nothing to do, at least for this grace time before starting a new job. Throughout these years however, when I felt burned out “to the max,” I discovered that running away to the woods for a brief respite where I could walk, listen to the sounds of nature and silence, and clear my brain of all things academic was the best medicine for all that “ailed” me. This year the snow came early, so my walks have been through the snowy woods. To my delight, I found once again that snow not only adds beauty and mystery to a scene, but a quietness that calms one’s thoughts while at the same time injecting a sense of wonder and awe to the moment. Wow. Something so simple as a walk through the woods on a snowy day brings peace and contentment that no amount of education or material gain can match. I am grateful for quiet walks in the snowy woods.

 

Nissan Paramedic.

Nissan Paramedic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As some of you may know, last week when I was in Chicago on a celebratory vacation (graduation) to see my daughters and their families, I had an unfortunate accident. About ten minutes after our arrival at my older daughter’s home, I lifted my camera bag out of the car when I felt a sudden, searing pain that ran from my wrist up past my elbow. Excrutiating. I was immobilized. Once back in the house my son-in-law ran for ice and my husband tried to comfort me with words. Nothing worked. Every movement of my body only exacerbated the pain in my arm. When we determined that I was unable to get into a car to make a run to the emergency room, John (son-in-law) called an ambulance. Within minutes a crew of men from the fire department showed up to apply first aid while we awaited the ambulance. And all were focused on helping to ease my pain. When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics gave me a painkiller, loaded me on a stretcher and into the ambulance, and we were off. The night was cold with blustery snow, and we had to drive at a snail’s pace through Chicago rush hour traffic! On the way to the hospital I discovered that the paramedic with me in the ambulance was “Joe.” Joe has done this kind of work for 25 years more or less. He loves his work. His father, a brother, and an uncle are also paramedics. I also met Victor and Carlito who were attentive and caring. I must admit that until this experience, I never really thought about the work that emergency service personnel do, or the danger they face while doing their work. I appreciated that these types of services existed, but never really thought about the people who are first responders to all types of emergencies. Last Monday night while in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I felt genuine gratitude for Joe, Victor, Carlito, and all the others whose names I did not get. Thank you to all emergency service personnel whose sole purpose is to provide emergency aid and transport to folks in need.

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