What the Frack?

Wild and wonderful eastern West Virginia is at risk from a new mining threat—–natural gas hydraulic fracturing, a process known as ‘fracking’. See info on frack banning efforts in Morgan County and join the Clean Water voices.


 Why should fracking be banned?

“Fracking poses a great threat to our drinking water. The process of fracking means injecting millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into shale rock formations at high pressures to break open the rock and release the gas,” according to Food & Water Watch, which monitors fracking elsewhere. “There are numerous cases of water contamination near fracking sites. Fracking also produces a toxic wastewater that cannot be treated by standard treatment plants. It is especially dangerous because drillers are rushing to use the technique in new areas of the country without fully evaluating the effects on human health and the environment, and without adequate government oversight.”

Read more at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking/


I’m a Little Teapot, Short and Addled

We called it the Irascible Teapot.

The cranberry-red teakettle my husband brought home from Target one day last year. It didn’t just whistle, it wailed off key, and squealed, and harrumphed, and mewed, and whimpered, and cajoled, and  protested in the most endearing little eruptions of sound when you picked it up, or flipped back its metal lid, or set it again on the still-hot stove top.

We laughed out loud at the commentary–its crankiness so expressive, its personality so real and oddly comforting in the tradition of inanimate objects come alive  a la Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Then, I burned it up.

I didn’t mean to. I lit the flame, but apparently there wasn’t any water inside. I went upstairs, thinking my husband would surely hear it sound off. But, alas, I came downstairs to the smell of something burning and crackling noises, and the teapot had gone from red to brown. I turned off the burner and called out to my husband. Then, we went into mourning.

It was like we had lost a quirky pet. So the next day, still bereft, I ran out to Target. There were none on the shelf. But there was one floor model. I explained to a ‘Target associate’ that I wanted to buy it. He called a manager. “Not without a box.” So I went home and found we still had the old teapot box. Another manager: “No we can’t sell you the display. It might not work.”

“I don’t care, I’ll take my chances. I’ll pay full price,” I pleaded.

“Sorry, company policy,” the manager said.

“How about this nice Kitchen Aid tea kettle . . .” offered the sheepish sales associate.

So we tried online at Copco’s website. Our model had been discontinued! (Maybe other users weren’t so entertained by its behavior.) We bought another, but it made no cute noises. I became obsessed, the glimpse of that one display model so tantalizingly close. Then, on the verge of just stuffing it into the box and trying to buy it anyway, I hit the Target warehouse, explaining to yet another bemused sales associate: “You see, it made these funny little sounds that my family really liked and I burned it up by mistake . .

Finally, after a few more immovable managers and false starts (who knew Target Stores could be so obstinate about not selling a customer something she wants) I held the sought-after box in my hands at Customer Service.

I took our new teapot home, and we tried it out. It whistled with irascible glee. And so did we.

Why Story Matters

“I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

–Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, which exposed horrid living conditions for immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, as well as the unsanitary meat proccessing practices of Chicago ‘s stockyards. Sinclair tackled  problems still relevant today: food safety, labor battles, and immigration issues.

A Pen for Your Thoughts

In my creative writing class this past week we were talking about ‘attention’ and the perils or limitations of distractions. So, as a sort of Zen exercise, we simply looked at our pens and started to describe them, to write about what they do, or how they accompany us, wand-like, throughout the day, . . . .my  students wrote and wrote and came up with some great openers they read aloud. So I joined them. Starting with the words ‘My Pen’, I wrote:

My pen makes fluid blue marks on a page,

notes born in my mind’s eye or ear,

words formed more naturally in some way

than keyboard clicking that captures concepts

in Times New Roman script appearing,

as though by magic, a few feet in front of me.

These words I write now,

these Signo Uniball etchings

are physically connected to me

–to the pads of my fingers,

to the tendons in my wrists,

to the muscles in my arm, and,

via neurological pathways,

to synapses firing images in my brain.

That must change what I say. Somehow.