The day I met the President

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on political organizing, environmental policy, and sustainable living.

If you’ve ever met a sitting President, you know what that day feels like. Whether you voted for him or not, it leaves an impression on you. It may be a handshake, a short conversation, or perhaps you met the President in a completely random setting you never expected, like he was out getting ice cream with his family. For me, it was a handshake and a few words at the airport.

While President Obama was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of meeting him at the airport. It wasn’t about a campaign. Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to meet the nation’s leader, have him shake your hand and look you in the eye. Not many people get to do that, so I am glad I was given the opportunity.

For me, meeting the President really wasn’t about the politics. It wasn’t about being a Democrat or a Republican. It was about meeting the man in charge, as one of his constituents, and being able to share that experience with others. Well, definitely a cool part about the morning was getting to stand in front of Air Force One. That thing is HUGE!!
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“Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy”

If you’ve ever visited Balletto Winery near Santa Rosa, you’ve seen this sign in the tasting room! It was the last stop on our Father’s Day tour of the wine country, but let’s start from the beginning…

My Dad wasn’t there per se, but we did have two Dads with us to celebrate for Father’s Day on Sunday. Tio (okay, I SUPPOSE he can have honorary “Dad” status:) and Jake (Dad to two beautiful puppies!) were our guests of honor for the day, so Auntie and I decided we would do what they wanted to do. And what did that entail? Wurst Sausages and wine tastings, of course!

First we drove up to Healdsburg to visit Wurst Sausage. Very yummy I must say. We sat outside while eating our polish sausages and hand-cut fries, and enjoyed the breeze and the warm summer day.

Next, we took a little adventure into Russian River to stop at Korbel. Someone told us they actually had a tasty Cabernet Sauvignon. I can’t say I was super excited about their reds, but they actually had some decent champagnes aside from the cheap ones you always think of at the grocery store. The muscatto was particularly delightful.

Lastly, we stopped at Balletto, one of the wineries Auntie and Tio now belong to as wine club members. We were served by a nice gentleman named Richard, who engaged in great conversation and made us feel right at home. I continue to be surprised by their Pinot Grigio, which is nice and crisp without having the sharp taste I never seem to like in whites. The grounds surrounding Balletto are also beautiful, so I took a few pictures of the vines while we were there.

It was a delightful day in the wine country. We never seem to tire of the adventures we can have on a given Saturday or Sunday afternoon here in California. There are so many things to explore, and we never know what we’ll stumble upon next. Tio and Jake, I hope you had a wonderful day!

To the wonderful men in our lives: Happy Father’s Day!

We have some wonderful men in our lives. Wonderful husbands, brothers, cousins. Most importantly today, we have amazing Dads and Granddads. I feel so lucky to have grown up with such amazing men, who have all loved me, mentored me, and guided me along the way. Mum and I often talk about the importance of “the village” in taking care of the family and helping guide the children as they grow up. Well, I have the BEST village a girl could ask for, and the best group of Dads to go along with it!

Today, tell your Dad how much you love him, and how thankful you are for all the wonderful memories, important lessons, and fabulous times in your life. So, Padre, Pud, Tio, Granddad, Jake, Grandpa, Bob, Bill… Thank you for being so wonderful. You are all amazing Dads, and I’m lucky to have you in my life. I love you all!

Learning to use my new DSLR camera

After considerable research I recently purchased a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera.  I am re-learning how to use a “real” camera while reading a primer, entitled Nikon D5100 From Snapshots to Great Shots, by Rob Sylvan.  It is a great tool for me, despite my struggles to even remember the language of photography.  Terms like “rule of thirds”, “mode” and “ISO” fill the text as I learn the features of my camera and begin to explore its potential.

When I am weary of reading about my camera, I jump in my car and go find interesting places to photograph. I take the same shot over and over using different features on my camera.

Here is a photograph of the Rose Garden Fountain at Loose Park using auto focus.

Here is the same scene using the color sketch mode on my Nikon.  This mode creates photographs that are similar to water colors.  Go figure!

Same place, same light, just a different mode setting.  Some things in life are just for fun.

Happy Birthday Andrew!!

28 years ago today, a very special friend was born. Andrew Chappelle has been one of my best friends since 6th grade. It all started out in P.E. class, though I can’t remember how. Pretty soon we were having high school camp outs and driving around like goof balls in the Jeep. In college, Andie flew to KC for a formal at my sorority. Needless to say, we’ve had some wonderful experiences as friends.

I am constantly in awe of my amazing friend. He has spent time working and studying in various places around the world. St. Louis, China, D.C., Doha. I’m pretty sure he even went to Jerusalem at one point, though I never heard the complete story. And even though I rarely get to see his smiling face, I always know I’ll get to see him for a brief moment when we’re both in Kansas City.

So Andiepoo, on your birthday, I want to say Thank You for being such a wonderful friend. Mumsy and I love you dearly. Happy Birthday!

Water, Water every where, Nor any drop to drink

In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner[1] , the narrator describes the lack of drinkable water while sailing on an ocean of salt water. 

The lack of available safe, drinkable water can result from many causes: drought, when there simply is no available water; polluted water resulting from toxic waste and agricultural pesticides; water polluted as a result of inadequate treatment of sewage from human and animal waste and water that is too salty to drink.    

 

Here in the Midwest, water surrounds us.  We have lakes, rivers and streams. We swim in it, bathe in it, freely water our lawns and gardens with it, and simply admire it.  But we are lucky.

Even in parts of the U.S., water is precious.  But while water it California and other western states can be expensive, it is still available.  In agricultural areas, particularly in areas of Texas, ponds may have plentiful water in the spring but dry by late summer.  

In times of drought, the lack of water can ruin a crop or cause ranchers to sell off portions of their herds.  Even then, safe water is almost universally available in the United States for human consumption.   

 World-wide, there is a different story.  Roughly 10% to 11% of the world’s population, between 783 million to 1 billion people, does not have access to safe water[2].  In the developing world, 90% of sewage is discharged untreated into rivers[3].  1.4 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.  This amounts to around 4,000 deaths a day[4].  The death rate from lack of safe water is greater than the death rate from war.  The lack of water, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa also results in crop failures, frequent famines and also a significant factor in the loss of life of humans and animals.

 In The World is Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Freidman quotes Michael J. Sandel, a political philosopher at Harvard that: “’We have a responsibility to preserve the earth’s resources and natural wonders in and of themselves’ because they constitute the very web of life on which all living creatures on this planet depend.” 

 Clean water is not a partisan issue.  It is not an issue that appeals only to those who are “left leaning” or “right leaning”.  It is a human issue.  We can clean water, dig wells to make it accessible, install pipes and faucets to move it around and make it easy to control the flow and movement of water.  Most of all, we can care about the people for whom the availability of water is a life–and death–challenge.

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Our opinions, are our opinions alone, and do not represent the opinions of our employers, our friends, our relatives, our husbands, or even each other.   


[1] Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published in 1798

[2] WHO/UNICEF, WaterAid, Water.Org.

[3] UN

[4] WHO