Monday, September 29, 2014

Fracking and Mining Endanger America's Fresh Water!

I lived in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky (Knott County, KY) for a year and just outside the coal mining counties for 6 years (Madison County, KY). I have in-laws and friends  who've spent most of their adult lives in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields or very near them (Steve and Sue Sanders and their children; Tony Oppegard). I have seen firsthand what modern mining techniques do to streams, rivers, and aquifers. So much of Eastern Kentucky and other coal mining states are "Zones of National Sacrifice," as Harry Caudill, author of Night Comes to the Cumberlands, put it. Well I am not ready to offer Ohio up as a Zone of National Sacrifice. My county, Geauga County, is totally dependent on well water for everything. The greatest current threat to drinking water in my county and in Ohio (and really, in most of the nation) is the fracking boom, which Governor Kasich has welcomed with open arms. We won't have the disaster of coal mining in Geauga and surrounding counties, but we could be faced with the disaster of widespread fracking.

Recently RJ Sigmund, in his weekly digest of fracking issues, discussed the danger of fracking to fresh water supplies. Sigmund states:

Thirsty wells: Fracking consumes billions of gallons of water - Drillers in Ohio have used more than 4 billion gallons of water to frack horizontal shale wells since 2011. That’s a lot of water. Enough to fill one two-liter soda bottle for every person on the planet; or in terms that motorists in shale country can relate to, 800,000 tanker-loads of water.  The state surpassed the thousand-well mark in August. A Repository review of water usage reported by drillers to FracFocus, a national fracking-chemical registry, as of Sept. 12, shows:
    • • Of the first 1,031 Utica and Marcellus shale wells drilled, FracFocus listed the amount of water used to frack 662.
    • • Water use for all 1,031 wells could approach 6.7 billion gallons, based on average water-use rates per county.
    • • Chesapeake Energy used 2 billion gallons on 411 reported wells.
    • • Three wells in Ohio topped 17 million gallons.
    • • Average water usage was 6.1 million gallons.
    • • Fracking could consume more than 10 billion gallons of water if all current well permits are drilled.
    • • Some wells used more water than what drillers estimated on permit applications.
How can this water usage be done in Geauga County without endangering the water supply to every single Geauga household, business, and factory? 

Sigmund also discusses fracking waste-water and injection wells. These further endanger the water supply in our area--permanently, in light of average human lifespans. This is short-term gain (the fracking money, which makes a few people very wealth), and long-term disaster.

Here is what Sigmund writes about Beautiful Ohio, injection waste-water capital of America: 

Ohio is cited in GAO report for fracking waste disposal - Drilling – Ohio -- Only Ohio allows fracking waste disposal without advance disclosure of chemical contaminants. : The federal Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a new report ( ) disclosing that Ohio alone of eight states studied allows contaminated waste fluids from oil and gas wells to be disposed without advance disclosure of the contaminants it contains. The report had been requested by members of U.S. Senate and House environment committees to disclose the level of disclosure on the nature and toxicity of such wastes since “fracking” of deep shale rock layers to unlock oil and natural gas deposits has become common. The report concluded that of the eight states studied (California, Colorado, Kentucky, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas), each state - with the sole exception of Ohio - required waste disposal companies to provide information on the characteristics of the waste to be disposed before they could receive a permit to “inject” the waste. The primary disposal method for these wastes are injection wells, which inject the waste fluids, frequently under high pressure, into deep rock formations where, in theory, it cannot contaminate sources of drinking water. The report acknowledges that the amount of oil and gas well wastes has increased dramatically since the advent of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and that at least 2 billion gallons of contaminated wastes are disposed in injection wells daily; this water is also laced with a variety of chemicals, many toxic and many whose nature is undisclosed, to fracture the rock so the oil and gas it contains can be mobilized. Much of the contaminated fluid injected in this fashion is then forced back to the surface where it is collected and trucked off site for disposal at an injection well.The report reveals that many of the states studied have elaborate requirements to confirm the nature of this waste fluid before it can be approved for disposal. In stark contrast, Ohio requires no disclosure of the characteristics of the waste fluid either before, or after, an injection well permit is issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). 

This has to stop. We have to stop it!

p.s. About 35 years ago I heard the great folksinger and Perry County native Jean Ritchie sing the song "Black Waters." The song was then sung about the impact of coal mining on the water in Eastern Kentucky streams and rivers. That same song can be sung today in areas affected by fracking. It seems we have learned nothing. We are making the same mistakes over and over again.

Jean Ritchie sings "Black Waters" in the following video:

Fall Colors in Northeast Ohio

Here it is late September and the fall colors have quickly started to develop in Northeast Ohio. The photos below come from Geauga and Lake Counties:

Bereries on my Washington Hawthorne

Red maple, Hambden Township
Huge, spectacular poison ivy--Penitentiary Glen, Kirtland, Ohio

Chardon Township
Spectacular color in this tupelo/black gum--Concord Township, Ohio

Monday, September 22, 2014

Virgin White Pines in North Chagrin Reservation--Willoughby Hills, Ohio

There is a small remnant virgin forest area in North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland MetroParks. North Chagrin straddles Willoughby Hills, Mayfield, and Gates Mills, and is one of Cleveland's treasures.

The remnant forest contains 15 ancient white pines (averaging 145 feet in height; dating from around 1730). These pine trees are spectacularly beautiful, and grow beside a deep ravine, along with ancient and gigantic red oaks and white oaks (as well as the other members of the Lake County forest community, which is quite diverse and full of sugar maple, beech, tulip tree, etc).

Imagine these trees being here when Native Americans roamed this land, when the only white people to pass through were the occasional French fur trappers and French Jesuit missionaries and explorers. That these trees have survived over 280 years of merciless exploitation of natural resources is astonishing. Here are a few pics of the trees and the area:

280 year-old white pine

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Last Boat Ride of the Season

The old Arrowhead Club, Willoughby, Ohio

Barry O'Donnell at the Helm

Nancy and Jim

Moi. Willoughby in the background.

Interesting Structure on the Willoughby Shore

Friday, September 19, 2014

Poem about Ebola

Treachery of Ebola

The terrible illness
smacks back at our most humane instincts:

virulent in the world's poorest nations,
where suffering's already so abundant,

passed on when we care for the sick,
clean up their vomit, blood, waste,

and when we touch, kiss 
and hold the suffering,

when we bathe, caress our dead,
prepare them for burial.

Killing our best and brightest,
most generous nurses, doctors, and helpers.

We wonder: Is God punishing the poor
for being poor? Is God punishing the good?

and how will the rich, privileged,
and healthy be judged?

[Bob Coughlin / 21 September 2014; Copyright 2014]

I realize that God is not punishing the poor (or the rich). In the poem, I try to get into the mind of people who would indeed question God about this tragedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

View of Cincinnati from atop Mt. Echo Park: Cincinnati Where the River Wi-i-inds

Almost forty ears ago I was hitchhiking in Tennessee near the Smoky Mountains. A young couple picked me up, asked me where I lived. When I told them Cincinnati, they both broke out into song:

One more hour and I'll be home,
Close my eyes and rest my bones.
Can't be more than a mile or so
From Cincinnati, O-hi-o, Cincinnati, O-hi-o.

Cincinnati where the river wi-i-inds,
Cross the Mason and the Dixon line.
There's a place for me, I know,
In Cincinnati, O-hi-o, Cincinnati, O-hi-o.

This very song I sang with my Peacemaker friends at the Mansfield House Commune--me on guitar hitting the simple three chords. When it came to the "wi-i-inds" part, we laid it on thick, pulling a one-syllable word into an entire line. It was great fun. Well last Sunday, at the memorial picnic for Dorothy Glanzer, I saw many of these old friends. The picnic was at Mt. Echo Park, hundreds of feet above the city, with a perfect view of downtown and northern Kentucky, and that Ohio River wi-i-inding around. Here's a photo I took:

Cincinnati, from Mt. Echo Park

Couple of modest little poems

No perfect poems,

I don’t write them,
Don’t expect them of others.

I just want poems showing the work of human hands,
Dirt in the fingernails,
Tongue, touch, sound, imperfect mind,

They don’t have to be perfect.
Perfect is the enemy.
Perfect paralyzes perfectly.

Perfect is the end
Of poetry.

[Bob Coughlin / September 10, 2014]

The above poem is in response to a brilliant friend who is almost too good a critic. I would think he would be paralyzed in his own writing! The idea for the poem also came from Anne Lamott's brilliant book, Bird by Bird, the best book for someone hoping to become a writer.

A Letter from Jesus: I’m Not Your Damned Lord and Personal Savior


I’m tired of you saying that I am your “Lord and Personal Savior.”
First of all, I’m not your damn Lord.
There are no more Lords, thank God!
The feudal system is dead, and good riddance. I’m not your Lord.

And this Personal Savior crap.
I’m no one’s Personal Savior.
Didn’t I make it clear that salvation is about community
Family, tribe, community.

Remember “when two or more are gathered?”
That was one of my clues.
I lived and died for the Community.

So enough of this crap already.
I wish you’d just hold hands in a circle
And say, “Thank you for my family, friends, co-workers . . .
We bless each other.”

Yours Truly,


[Bob Coughlin / September 3, 2014]

Well, I haven't written many poems like this! At first glance, it seems blasphemous. But underlying the poem are some serious theological ideas. It was fun trying to write in the voice of Jesus (and a Jesus not too often seen in Church). I am not a blasphemous person; I'm serious about religion. Let's just say that Jesus and I had something important to say, and we put those points into this poem.

Sunday Breakfast in a White Oak at Lakeside

Still groggy, carrying my morning coffee to the pier,
I notice something strange in the periphery—

Then my eyes lock on to a bald eagle,
Just twenty feet above my head,
Flying slowly over the Lakeside Pavilion,

A small bunny in its talons, still writhing.
For a second I can’t believe what I am seeing,
Wonder if some kid is flying a kite.

But no, it’s an eagle, in an unexpected place,
Now climbing to the big white oak on the shoreline,
To eat breakfast.
[Bob Coughlin / September 7, 2014]

This poem is based on something I actually saw one recent Sunday morning at Lakeside, Ohio's Chautauqua, on the Marblehead Peninsula, near Sandusky and Port Clinton.

Lakeside's Pavilion, where I saw the bald eagle

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Just Thoughts"--Do We All Have a Role to Play?

[Originally written for the St. Mary's (Painesville, Ohio) church bulletin]

 Does everyone have a responsibility to build a Just World? What if you are too busy, too young, too old, too sick?

Catholic Christians (and those of many other faiths) believe everyone has a responsibility and a role. For some people, the role is to try to shape policy, by way of participation in politics or agencies that make policy. And of course all adult citizens have the right (and responsibility) to vote! But not every person can shape policy, and some people are not eligible to vote.

If you are too young, say an infant and or a child, your role is to be that very baby or child. Learn to understand the world, learn about love from your parents and family. 

If you are a busy young parent, your role in bringing about the Just Kingdom is to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. You will teach them love, justice, and service. You will teach both by your words and your example.

If you are too old or too sick for active work, pray for the world. Remember that every time we pray the Our Father we are asking for the Lord's Kingdom to be established and we are asking for forgiveness, for ourselves, and for our enemies. That is a huge contribution to building the Beloved Community. 

If you have been blessed with time and energy, you can do what some of your St. Mary parishioners and friends do: chop onions and carrots (or do a dozen other jobs) for St. Mary's Wednesday and Thursday night meal for the homeless and hungry; go to daily mass and pray for the world (and then maybe serve food and beverages at St. Mary's meal); take communion and comfort to the sick and homebound; staff St. Mary’s food pantry for the hungry; visit prisoners in the county jail (several of your fellow parishioners do that); play liturgical music and prepare luncheons for the grieving at funerals--your neighbors do that; help immigrants adjust to life in America--that's a central ministry of St. Mary's. There is so much to do--and so few workers in the vineyard.

You build justice by living out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (see Matthew 25:34-40), central elements of Christianity, and a particular focus of Catholicism. These are right there in the Gospels, and part of the mission of our own parish. Everyone has a role; it can be very modest, but that doesn't matter. 

Get out there and do something!

[The above essay was written for a particular church (and its ministries). But I think these ideas can be generalized far beyond St. Mary's! I myself am so honored to be an active participant in some of these ministries.]

Below is part of Wikipedia's entry on "Works of Mercy":

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy

Corporal Works of Mercy are those that tend to bodily needs of others. In Matthew 25:34-40, in the The Judgment of Nations, six specific Works of Mercy are enumerated, although not this precise list — as the reason for the salvation of the saved, and the omission of them as the reason for damnation. The last work of mercy, burying the dead, comes from the Book of Tobit.
  1. To feed the hungry.
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To clothe the naked.
  4. To harbour the harbourless. (also loosely interpreted today as To Shelter the Homeless)
  5. To visit the sick.
  6. To visit the imprisoned (classical term is "To ransom the captive")
  7. To bury the dead.

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy

Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporeal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering. The latter works are traditionally enumerated thus:
  1. To instruct the ignorant.
  2. To counsel the doubtful.
  3. To admonish sinners.
  4. To bear wrongs patiently.
  5. To forgive offences willingly.
  6. To comfort the afflicted.
  7. To pray for the living and the dead.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Peacemaker Gathering at Memorial Picnic for Dorothy Glanzer

Yesterday at Mt. Echo Park in Cincinnati there was a gathering of old Peacemakers and friends of Dorothy Glanzer and Greg Haas. Dorothy died recently after suffering for years with MS. The gathering was a wonderful reunion of old friends, many of whom met back in the late 1960s or early 1970s in the Vietam-era peace movement. The peace movement is gaining steam again, in response to perpetual war.

Greg Haas

Alice Ann, Peggy, Mary Alice, Anne, Clare, me

Mansfield House photo from 1971 or 1972. Looks like a poster for the musical "Hair"! Ken Przybylski at far left, with Chris Cotter to his right. Also pictured, Carolyn Bromley, Greg Haas, Peggy Scherer, Anne Weinkam, Jack Shereda, John Luginbill, Joan Levy, Bonnie Tompkins, Denny Ryan, Mary Jane Atkinson, and two neighborhood boys

Me with Mary Alice Shepherd Milnes

Me with Peggy Scherer

With Jim Tarbell

Manuel, Alice Ann, Peggy, Mary Alice, Anne, Clare, me
A strange thing that often happens at wakes and memorial services is the joy that people have in seeing old friends. That certainly happened yesterday. The afternoon was filled with hugs and hilarious stories.

One woman approached me and asked me if I knew who she was. I recognized her right away, but her name didn't come to me. It turned out to be Debbie Boerschig, who had lived in my old apartment building--I think my own apartment on the third floor. Debbie is a nurse who began her career at 12th Street Clinic, where I worked from 1971 to 1973. We know many people in common from 12th Street Clinic and from our old neighborhood in Over-the-Rhine. There were other people at the gathering who had lived at 225 Orchard Street--Anne Weinkam and Clare Weinkam. Clare said she moved from the second floor to the fourth floor because the rent was cheaper the further up you went--from 48 dollars a month to $47.50 (or something like that). The rent was astonishingly cheap, and the building fairly well-maintained by our plumber-landlord, whose name I think was "Dougherty." I also saw Joyce [can't think of her last name--Hillstrom?] there--hadn't seen her since maybe the memorial services for Maurice McCrackin or Ernest Bromley. Joyce had lived in the Lang Street house in Over-the-Rhine (as had John Luginbill, Chris Cotter, and other friends). The rent there was $40 per month! Talking to Debbie I heard that one former resident of 225 Orchard had died--Mary "Bird" Bliss. I also learned that Rowena Toews, who had a short, unfortunate marriage to Richard Gale, had also died. So many of our old friends gone--Jack Shereda, Kenny Przybylski, Carolyn Bromley, Maurice McCrackin, Ernest and Marion Bromley, Chuck Matthei--so many.

We also talked about friends who didn't make it to the memorial: Chris Cotter, Henry Scott, Andy Meyer, Denny Ryan, Bonnie Tompkins, Richard Gale, John Luginbill, Joan Levy, and others. We missed them all.

Our prayers are with Greg Haas and his wife Dorothy Glanzer. Rest in Peace, Dorothy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

From Tim Musser--the Dalai Lama on War. "The Heart Would Never Understand"

Tim Musser has sent a beautiful story about the Dalai Lama. Very relevant at this time when our nation may again go to war:

The Dalai Lama has said that his religion is kindness.  Kindness is supposed to be the religion of Christians too. At the end of one of his talks, a young woman once asked the Dalai Lama, "Why didn't you fight back against the Chinese?" The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at her and the audience and said with a gentle smile, "Well, war is obsolete, you know." Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, "Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you."

An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth--A Blind and Toothless World [Just Thoughts]

Just Thoughts: An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth?

There is justifiable anger when we hear that extremists in the Middle East have brutally executed two reporters. What should we as a country do about it?

Of course that is not easy to answer. We do have some guidance from Mahatma Gandhi, the believer in nonviolent activism in the pursuit of justice. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth . . . leaves the world blind and toothless.” And we have the words of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” (Matthew 5:38-39).

A bit later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

War and violence were certainly vivid realities in Jesus’ day, and Jesus, who himself was brutally executed, was not naïve about violence and revenge.

We need to find alternatives to violent revenge—which only gives birth to an ongoing cycle of revenge. Is there a way to break the cycle? Can Jesus’ words be put into action? What would the world look like if we paid attention to Gandhi’s warning and Jesus’ words?

Monday, September 8, 2014

More on Lakeside, Ohio's Chautauqua

I posted about 14 photos of Lakeside in yesterday's blog entry. Today I want to talk about the place a bit. Lakeside began as a Methodist camp on Lake Erie in 1873--141 years ago. It is located on the Marblehead Peninsula, between Sandusky and Port Clinton. From the lake shore you look across to Kelleys Island. If you look to the west you can see Catawba Point, Mouse Island, and South Bass Island, and a bit of Middle Bass Island. On South Bass you can see the gigantic Perry Monument in the village of Put-in-Bay. The place feels unique, very different from the lake shore of Cleveland, Mentor, Geneva, Ashtabula, or Buffalo. Maybe it feels a bit like the special environment of Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania. Anyway, the Methodists found a very special place for this summer camp.

The community occupies about a square mile of land. There are 2 hotels, including the historic Hotel Lakeside, built around 1874, many Bed and Breakfasts and other type of lodging houses, and private homes. It is estimated that there are about 900 structures in the community. During the summer season, thousands of people will be present, living peacefully in community, with very little crime. I like to describe Lakeside as a "college campus for older adults." It is a model for what the world could be like, what our communities could be like.

Lakeside calls itself a "Chautauqua," very similar to the Chautauqua Institute in New York State. It has a busy 10-week summer season, filled with lectures, concerts, church services, and lots of recreational and cultural activities.

We first encountered Chautauqua by accident, some 20 years ago. We were camping at East Harbor State Park, about 8 miles from Lakeside, when a ferocious storm hit and scared us, soaking wet, out of the campground. We had heard about Lakeside and headed there to see if we could stay in the hotel. They allowed us to stay in a room, the kids sleeping on the floor. The next day we explored the place and fell in love with it. The children especially loved the free shuffleboard and the miniature golf, as well as the swimming and fishing pier. We all loved the concerts and remember fondly John McCutcheon and many other wonderful performers.

So many funny things have happened over the years--a lot of them involving Hotel Lakeside. Hotel Lakeside is very old, and nothing works exactly right. For years there was no air conditioning there. And in many small rooms there was no bathroom. The rooms have bathrooms now and air conditioning units (most of them), but a few rooms still don't have showers and you have to use a common shower room across the hall. We have been there 2 or 3 times when the electricity went out because of storms. And in our recent visit, there was no hot water at all in the hotel--so only cold showers or no showers. We love this quirkiness, this specialness. I know they want to modernize the hotel, but it's the imperfections that make it dear to us--along with the lake views, the beautiful fountain out front, the breezy porch, the antiques everywhere. There is no place I know of like Hotel Lakeside.

I love the whole place. It is one of Ohio and America's treasures, just like the original Chautauqua Institute in New York. Lakeside presents a vision of community as it could be, as it ought to be!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lakeside: Ohio's Chautauqua--A Treasure

Lakeside's Gate, near Marblehead, Ohio
Me, by Hotel Lakeside--about 120 years old (the hotel, not me)
The Pavilion, right on Lake Erie
On the pier, looking toward the Pavilion
Inside our lake-view Hotel Lakeside room--Shower across the hall!
Looking out our Hotel Lakeside room
Boats along the lake shore (Hotel Lakeside in background)
View from the Pier
Some of the beautiful homes along the lake shore
Rock cairns--Great idea!
Linda by the Marblehead Lighthouse

Me by the Marblehead Light
Sunset, as seen from Lakeside's Pier

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just Thoughts: Building a Just Kingdom

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Martin Luther King Jr.
All of us need to embrace that wisdom, refuse discouragement and continue doing what we can to resist the forces of empire and unlock those “Gates of Hell.”
The words above end a blog posting written by theologian Michael Rivage-Seul, in response to the readings of a couple weeks ago. Martin Luther King Jr’s remarks seem exactly right, but they leave out a couple of important points. One point is that it’s not a straight arc toward justice. It’s more like a long and winding road. It’s the old idea of two steps forward and one step back (and often many steps sideways!). We can’t let ourselves be discouraged by the hard road to justice.

The other important thing MLK’s remarks leave out is the role of human beings enacting God’s plan for justice, for the Beloved Community. It takes all the energy, ingenuity, labor, and will of human beings, cooperating with the will of God, as best as it can be discerned, to bring about this Just Kingdom. May this Kingdom Come! As we say in the Lord’s Prayer.

How do we work to bring about God’s Just Kingdom without getting exhausted or discouraged? In part, we do it with friends, in community, working together. We do it by not being impatient for results—God’s timetable is not our own. We can only do our part, do our best. And we do it by trying to maintain a balance in our lives: prayer, work, family, learning, fun, music, art, recreation, rest. The Lord’s Kingdom will come, will be achieved, if we all do our part, in partnership with God.

[Click here to get to Mike Rivage-Seul's blog: Mike's blog]

A Few September Flowers, September Colors

Ironweed, in my back yard

Ironweed and Jewelweed (back yard)

Black-Eyed Susans, Mitchell Mills Road, near Holden Arboretum

Goldenrod in my back yard

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Little Poem, in Irish and English, for My Grandson Robby

A Chuisle Mo Chroí
O Pulse of My Heart!

A Rún, a Stór,
Robby, beautiful baby,
Pulse of my heart!

Irish-Gaelic Terms of Endearment

The Irish Language has some beautiful ways to express love and affection. There's a nice web page that explains these expressions fairly well and tells you how to pronounce them: Irish terms of endearment.

Irish Gaelic Terms of Endearment—with approximate pronunciations

I love you.  Tá grá agam duit.  /tau grau AH-gum dit/

I’m in love with you.  Táim i ngrá leat.  /toym ih nraw laht/

You are my love.  Is tú mo ghrá  /iss too muh ghraw/ or /iss too muh hraw/

The following, except for “mo chuisle,”  are in the vocative case—used when addressing someone directly, in writing or orally. You could replace the “A” with “Mo,” but that seems less common.

A Ghrá Mo Chroí    Oh darling; Beloved of my heart! /ah ghraw muh khree/

A Ghrá Geal  Oh bright love! /ah ghraw gyall/ or /ah hraw gyall/

A Rún     Oh love! Oh Darling! [ah roon/ Pretty common phrase.

A Mhuirnín  My dear  /ah WEER-neen/

A Stór!   My darling /ah store/          Another common phrase.

A Thaisce  My treasure       /ah HAHSH-kuh/

Mo Chuisle  Literally, “my pulse”       /muh KWISH-luh/

A Chuisle Mo Chroí!  O pulse of my heart!      /ah KWISH-luh muh khree/  This is my favorite.

Closing a letter: Le grá (with love) /luh graw/

Note: the Irish “ch” sound is close to the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch.” Very similar also to German “ch.” The Irish “gh” can be transcribed in different ways. The “g” has a bit of a fricative sound. I transcribe the word “ghrá” either as /ghraw/ or /hraw/. Irish vowels with accent marks (fadas) over them are long. The long “a” sounds like “aw” in many dialects of Irish.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hurray for Unions! Labor Day Meditation

Labor Day Meditation--2014

My family, surely like yours, is from a long line of hard workers. My father was a factory worker, a blue-collar worker. He was a union man nearly all his working life, after escaping the pathetic wages of Cleveland Trust in Willoughby, where there was no union protection. His first union job was as a repairman on diesels for the New York Central Railroad in the Collinwood Yard. After maybe 8 years there, he left because the diesel exhaust exacerbated his asthma. He then worked briefly for Thompson Products, in Euclid, then Fisher Body, on the Cleveland-East Cleveland border, East 140th and Coit Road. There he was a member of the United Auto Workers. He made a decent salary, got a respectable retirement, and had all the benefits of union membership. Who other than a union would stand up for his interests against the world’s largest and richest company, General Motors? Their goal was to maximize profits for their stockholders—not ensure my Dad a decent wage, safe working conditions, and an honorable retirement. Only the union—workers organized together to advocate their needs and interests—only the union could do that.

I have had many crummy, dangerous jobs, with no union protection. I also had two decent college jobs with no union protection. I was unjustly fired from one of those jobs. At both jobs there was no one, no organization that would stand up for my rights. One person made a decision, based on who knows what, and you had no recourse. It was work at will, fire at will. That was the case in Kentucky. And it is the case in Ohio, especially if you have no union protection.

Since 1988 I have been in a strong union, the Lakeland Faculty Association—part of the Ohio Education Association (OEA). Our union is the most democratic organization I have ever seen. It is full of strong, even brilliant leaders, who work for our union for free. We all work for Lakeland Community College. Though a fairly benevolent organization, the interests of the administrators are not necessarily our interests. Institutions like this are thoroughly organized, with deep deep pockets that can help insure that they will get their way. It makes sense for us to be organized as well. Only our unity and organization can begin to match up against their deep pockets. Only our union assures that we will be treated with respect, be compensated adequately, and be treated with consistent and fair due process in all matters.

Unions make sense for workers. They are as democratic as you want them to be. When up against powerful corporations or institutions, they are workers’ only chance.

Lakeland teachers, late August 2014