Friday, September 21, 2012

I Belong To You..You Belong To Me

Sitting in a motel room in Green Bay, Wisconsin pondering the plans for our first really somewhat normal day.  It should have been yesterday after a Wednesday night arrival. Unfortunately United had other plans.  

I lean towards patience with companies that function at the mercy of weather and such but sitting in Cleveland, awaiting our last hop to Wisconsin, only to be told our flight was cancelled because the crew had "timed out"? Really?  A half hour before takeoff and you figure this out? There were eight of us and we were tired. To the airline's credit, they bought us a night at the Howard Johnson but when the "shuttle" arrived at the curb, it proved too small for all of us, let alone luggage and the stroller/car seat contraption that the Toppings are dragging about plus one seat didn't have a seatbelt..."no no's good" "But there's no seatbelt and my son needs to be buckled in'.  'No no's good". "NO!...I'll put in the other seat".  "OK OK OK..that's good".  So Monica rode to the motel sitting in the seat with no belt.  We slept fast and were up prior to the crack of dawn for a seven o'clock flight replacement to Green Bay, then had our rental car and were checked into our real hotel by nine in the morning.

After settling in and gathering our thoughts, we headed to the University of Wisconsin so I could start some research that will help me locate information on two of my mom's siblings.  No luck on the sister for whom I lack a birth date in order to choose the correct documents on but I hope to find something when we go to the research center in Eau Claire where the family lived.

Uncle Charlie has proven to be more interesting than expected.  I came across the court documents for his divorce proceedings including the transcript where much dirty linen was aired.  On a high note, the documents included paperwork showing where he was working when wages were attached for child support he skated on....*sigh*...THIS I didn't expect.

When Charlie's brother, my Uncle Joe, died in 1954, the obit referred to survivors and mentioned Charlie as being in Milwaukee.  This was today's project, drive to Milwaukee.  We tracked down the library and searched through death records and city directories with no luck; no sign that Charlie had ever lived there.  The library was fabulous, a glorious limestone building with amazing marble staircases so much like Hogwarts that I expected the stairways to swivel and deposit Harry Potter.  Even the unsuccessful research was worth the trip to this building.

We spotted the original Pabst Brewery so wandered the area a bit to check out the buildings before tracking down a brew pub and have dinner and a tasty ale before heading back to Green Bay.

The title song has been popping into my head these last few days and, after I thought about my family connections, it just fit.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ain't No Big Thing

Coastal Cleanup.  Third Saturday of September.  An opportunity, an excuse, to get down to the sea and walk.  And pick up trash.   This year, rather than walking the same beach with dozens of other people, I decided I would head to the South Spit.  My occasional lunch-hour walks always produce trash and I presumed there would be fewer people heading that way.  I was not wrong - I was IT.  I had this beautiful stretch all to myself. In the grand scheme of things, not such a bad thing.
 The air was thick.  Drippy.  It got a little difficult to see my way with the spectacles covered as they were.
 I watched these guys huddle.  And land.  And sprint.  And flow.  Amazing ballet, stop on a dime as a group.

I have found that this beach collects most of it's debris high up.  As folks come to "appreciate" the serenity, they build lovely little dwellings and leave their trash behind, which is gently nudged by the rising tides as if to prevent its being swept out to be be consumed by the creatures who live there.  This means I have to trudge in the soft sand to find the trash.  Not as much fun as the water's edge where the cold can lap at my toes.

Gratefully, there were no large items.  No big things.  Just many many small ones.  As my bucket got fuller, and I would think, "that's it, nothing else will fit", I would find one more thing and tuck it in amongst the other small pieces.  As I neared the parking lot, I spotted a beer box filled with paper, probably left behind from a bonfire, so finally had to break down and use the feed bag I brought.  

I sorted and counted and will report my findings to be included in the count.  Multiply that by the hundreds of others who were out in Humboldt and California and the northwest and the right coast and we kept a lot of trash out of the ocean.  My final tally:
  • 61 cigarette butts
  • 1 chew can
  • 2 coffee cups/1 lid
  • 5 beverage bottle lids
  • 1 CD
  • 17 pieces of dense foam from floats and floatables
  • 15 pieces of foam meat trays
  • 1 shoe
  • 28 pieces of plastic from buckets, tubs and such
  • 19 pieces of plastic bags and wrappers
  • 9 shotgun "innards"... wadding...whatever
  • 1 cardboard box of paper
  • 1 shoelace
  • 1 bag of poop
I have to say this last one boggles my mind.  Someone took the time to carry a bag to the beach to clean up after their dog.  They picked up the poop.  Then left it.  Thank you people...almost. You were this close to being responsible....

If you didn't make it out this year, it's not too late.  Go out to the street in front of your home or business and pick up the litter there that will flow to the storm drains in the next rain and will end up in the sea.  Look at the cigarette butts and candy wrappers the next time you walk down the street.  They WILL end up in the bay if someone doesn't stop them.  And put the third Saturday in September on your calendar for 2013.