“All who wander are not lost”

I am finally home.

The above quote, or something like it, is generally attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s an apt quote, however, for the last year or so of my life, or so it seems.

My last blog in April somehow got lost while I was on the highway heading home. I guess it did anyway. However, I’m now mostly settled and back in business.

I’ve traded in my adorable 26′ tugboat for a 43′ craft that is more suitable for the lifestyle I plan to live from here on out to the very end of my years. My husband and I have resyned our nomadic years. Our children are grown adults with children of their own. My animals are gone, except for my dog. There was no reason to continue the status quo.

Wondering if we’d ever find anything we could afford was often depressing, but the idea of buying yet another house when we returned to the Pacific Northwest somehow seemed anticlimactic…”Let’s buy another boat! One we can travel farther on and live longer on!” My husband took no persuading.

After spending four months searching for the perfect craft, we found it. I confess I also bought a tiny house in Arizona so I could escape the rainy, windy winters here in Washington State and see my family during the holidays…besides my grandsons, ages 3 and 6, still think we’re the greatest thing since popcicles and I don’t want to miss out on that.

Moonlight Mesa will continue to operate – just from afar. Any books we publish from here on out will probably be ebooks. I’m still waiting for the one manuscript from “Barbara” that sounded so enticing three years ago when she queried and teased me with four finished chapters.

Book sales, unfortunately, mostly languished during the pandemic months, with the exception of A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule. Ingram sent out 159 copies of the book one month alone.

But the best news of all…I can now begin earning my Marine Naturalist Certification. Currently I’m being trained to work as a docent in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Ever since I took the Marine Naturalist class two years ago I’ve wanted to complete it by becoming a Certified Naturalist. Hard to do in Arizona! I’m on my way now! I’m incredibly happy that my husband and I are back among people who also love the water, whales, and sea life.

Indeed, I am finally home.

Going Home

It’s been a long time since any of us have sat down to blog. Ironically, this was everyone’s first choice to do…but now there is only one of us. For starters…the house (home office) sold and we are in the process of relocating our business to Washington State. Yes, we finally came home. The move was not easy , however. Both of us came down with Covid in the process of packing up. I think it was from the people traipsing through without a mask. I recovered in about 5 days. Unfortunately, my husband developed Covid pneumonia…an emergency room visit complete with an experimental infusion likely saved his life. Recovery is a bitch, though, but it’s far better than dying.

So, after several years of wanting to “go home” we finally have done so. However, these things aren’t always easy. Currently we are living on our small Nordic Tug, and by small I mean 26 feet long. Cozy.

However, we surprised ourselves by waking up one morning and thinking, “We need to have some adventure while we still can,” and so we set off in search of a “bigger” boat we could live, travel, and work on instead of buying yet another house. Mission accomplished, and we are now waiting for the boat’s survey to be completed and we’ll be moving aboard a 39′ Kadey Krogan. It will seem like a mansion compared to our tug. I figure we have about two more weeks of waiting until the boat is ours! (Assuming it passes the survey.)

So, where does that leave Moonlight Mesa Associates? Moonlight Mesa will become a DBA (Doing Business As) instead of an S Corporation. That way we keep our name, email, accounts, etc. Officially it will be Becky Coffield DBA Moonight Mesa, or RLCoffield DBA etc. You get the idea.

For two years we’ve been planning on moving north from Arizona, but I got hung up because of the mules we owned/rode. I just couldn’t see moving them to Washington. They got a new zip code, however, after my mule launched me onto a pile of rocks, nearly killing me. Then, after spending months cleaning up the three fires we had at that location, we finally got on the market, sold, and got out of town as soon as my husband was well enough to travel. It’s been grueling. We’ve been in Anacortes, WA for a month now but it still doesn’t feel real…like this is really home. Maybe once we’re on the new boat…

Meanwhile, books have sold, primarily the Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule, but all of the nonfiction titles have been active. I have my work cut out for me, however. Now that I’m finally here, I want to start on getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, working with the Whale Museum, and doing what I can for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. Not to mention, the JUST ONE THING Alliance has come to a halt with all the uproar in our lives. And we have books to promote.

Top of my list, however, is to get a laptop for the boat. Running a biz with my tablet and tiny keyboard lacks efficiency to say the least.

So until next time, stay safe. Thank you for your support. Hopefully Washington will prove to be more supportive of our goals and interests than what we had before where we were truly fish out of water.

Whales, Dolphins, Salmon and Dams – Great News!

The best “feel good” item told about the successful response to the entanglement of an Arabian Sea humpback whale.

Just when I start becoming very discouraged about the total lack of interest regarding whales and ocean health in general since Covid has reared its ugly face, I seem to receive heart-warming communications. It’s always enough to enliven me for days if not weeks to come.

Just yesterday I received a truly nice, hand-written thank you note from Joseph Bogaard of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition located in Washington State. I do my best to help support this and other northwest groups engaged in the fight to save wild salmon…and “wild whales”…and to restore the sad captive ones back to freedom. Receiving Joseph’s note when I did was a terrific boon to my flagging hopes of relocating once again to the Pacific Northwest where I lived for over 50 years. (Yes, I know. I can hardly believe I’m that old!) Joseph and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition were early joiners of our JUST ONE THING Alliance. Then, like magic, a message from our realtor followed today suggesting an offer for our home might soon be in the works.

There’s more: to top things off, I received communication from the International Whaling Commission today with updates on whale related topics of interest.

Photo of Elwa Dam by Seattle Times

As for the wild salmon issue, since Washington State has torn  down a few dams (and have more dams on the drawing board for destruction) salmon miraculously seem to be showing up, navigating the now free-flowing rivers long blocked off. And in the not too distant future, Oregon and California have agreed to tear down some dams that will also help promote salmon restoration along with Native American rites.

Photo by John Boyd

As for the IWC, their work is so incredibly important. For example, in September (2020) the Conservation Committee met (virtually) to discuss the management plan for South American river dolphins as well as a plan to mitigate measures regarding bycatch of cetaceans. Many seabirds, turtles and sharks are subject to being caught in fishing nets and traps. There is now growing awareness and concern to protect marine mammals. “Measures for reducing bycatch include spatial closures, the use of acoustic deterrents or alerting devices, modifications to fishing gear, and changes in fishing operations” along with “awareness-raising.” I think sometimes devastation ecological things happen  because people are simply not aware that what they are doing is deadly for whales, fish, and other sea creatures..

Finally, the best “feel good” item told about the successful response to the entanglement of an Arabian Sea humpback whale. Many groups came together (the Oman Environmental Authority, Five Oceans Environmental Services, LLC and Future Seas Global SPC) to free a humpback whale from entanglement in a gill net. (IMO net fisheries absolutely must be abolished.) This particular humpback species is in extreme danger of extinction, largely due to ship strikes, fishing bycatch, and other threats.

So, I’ve had happy, inspiring news, and I’m also still covid-free. Who can ask for more nowadays?

Don’t be fooled about your “grassfed” beef

I think people have the right to know the truth and not be hoodwinked into buying a product that is not truly what it implies.

For those who still eat meat (and I do three nights a week I will admit) buyers need to take heed that the supposedly “grass fed beef” they pay premium prices for at the grocery store is likely not necessarily grass finished beef.

Eating grain makes my head spin!

ALL beef eat grass. ALL. However, most commercially sold beef is fed grain to be fattened up before slaughter. (Graining supposedly improves the flavor of the meat.) But the package doesn’t tell you this, does it? So, here you are spending extra money and feeling so healthy about eating  beef that is sold as “grassfed” when the beef is actually grain finished either while in the slaughter yards or before shipment to the slaughter yards. IMO this is a terrible disservice to consumers.

ALL COWS EAT GRASS. ALL. But beef that is TRULY grassfed, is NEVER fed grain or other fillers before being butchered. It is sneakily deceptive to use the “grass fed” label, unless the beef is grass fed and grass finished!

So, how do you know which of the many packages of beef are in fact “organic,” grass fed and grass finished all through their lives? It takes just a bit of research because despite how packages may be labeled in supermarkets, the beef may well be grain finished. Yes, the cow was grass fed – up to the very end. I have found the best way to insure that I’m getting grass finished beef is to buy it directly from the ranch/producer or from a certified, verifiable source.

If at all possible, start by finding out if there are local ranchers that you can buy grass fed beef from directly. In doing so, however, you may be required to buy a large quantity of beef, such as a 1/4 beef or a 1/2 beef. The product most always comes cut, packaged and frozen. Sometimes you can specify how you want the beef cut: steak, roast, hamburger, etc. Even 1/4 beef will require a lot of freezer space. Remember you are paying for the beef and the butcher fees, which is one reason why the meat is more expensive.

There are other places you can find organic, grassfed beef also. Americangrassfed.org has a great map of the United States on their website showing the locations of members who belong to this organization. There’s also a site called Grass Run Farms (grassrunfarms.com) where you can find producers.

If you don’t have the time or wherewithal to pick up your product, check out Root and Revel (rootandrevel.com) for meat delivery services. I myself have never used these services, but the website lists the top 7 online sources for organic, sustainable grassfed meat delivery.

Remember that 100% grassfed/finished beef is going to cost you more than the store product. If you have storage, though, and can afford it, the price per pound is usually lower the more you purchase. Also, you will likely notice a difference in taste between grain finished beef and the grass finished. You will quickly adjust to the new flavor.

In changing from grain finished to grass finished beef, you are reportedly getting far more Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA (both are considered good fats) than omega 6s. It also has less saturated fat if that is a concern for you.

And, according to American Grassfed Association, grassfed beef is far better for ecosystems and wildlife habitat. It greatly reduces the use of petrochemicals, improves the soil with organic matter and reduces greenhouse gases, especially CO2. Also remember that cows, goats, bison, etc. evolved to eat GRASS, not cereal grains which can upset their digestive systems and lead to disease which then forces ranchers to have to use antibiotics. When these animals are given antibiotics, you end up with these in your system also when you eat the meat.

I urge you to check out these resources. Perhaps you eat so little meat (or none at all) that it doesn’t matter. And that’s okay, but I think people have the right to know the truth and not be hoodwinked into buying a product that is not truly what it implies.

For expert information about your beef, visit riverwatchbeef.com. It is shocking what you will discover.

Time to Call it Quits?

It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

It seems like ages ago we moved to Arizona – actually it’s now been 16 years. I’ve enjoyed it here in many ways…but I don’t think I’ve ever really been happy-happy here. 

What do I like about Arizona? 

1. Winter weather here can’t be beat. Maybe Florida’s, come to think about it. 

2. Our properties have been large enough that I’ve had chickens, horses, mules and dogs during this period. (I had the same in Oregon though.)

3.  I started a small, traditional publishing company and published a number of award-winning titles and terrific westerns.         

 J.R. Sanders’ two books, Some Gave All and The Littlest Wrangler, both won awards;   

Lee Anderson’s equine books, Developing the Art of Equine Communication and The  View from My Old Saddle, were both award winners;                                                                                    

Rusty Richards biography of Casey Tibbs  has been a best-selling title and won an award;    

Historian Robert Walton’s civil war book, Dawn Drums,  won a total of 5 awards;   

Three of my own publications have won awards: Life Was a Cabaret, Sam’s Desert Adventure, and Northern Escape.                                                      

There were other books that often out-sold the award-winners, such as Jere D. James Jake Silver Series.

During this time I also learned some hard lessons: 

  1.  Insufficient funds for marketing pretty much killed me.
  2.  Often I worked far harder at personally selling authors’ books than some of them did.
  3.  Selling books is the hardest part of the whole publishing business.

We are now at a crossroads, and some of our frustration may indeed be due to Covid, but perhaps most is just due to the fact that my husband and I can no longer ignore that we are fish out of water in the desert, something we’ve both known for a long time but never discussed much. So, we’ve listed our home for sale, even though we just moved to this new location a year ago. Since our mules are now gone, we’ve come to realize even more that we don’t “fit in” here (our license plates even say “We Row”) and we never have been very good members of the cowboy-horse culture here in Wickenburg. We tried, but…

Moving is not easy, but I came to the conclusion that going back to the northwest is what we needed to do after I read an article that asked readers to think of where they’d been most happy in their life…and if they weren’t there now, why weren’t they? As retirees, we don’t have jobs that hold us down; our children are both approaching 40 and are well-established here, so no kids to fuss over. My husband is particularly not happy, and neither is my dog Holly (a Chesapeake Bay Retriever). We instantly realized that where we’ve been our happiest is in coastal environments: Newport Oregon, Wrangell Alaska, and cruising on our sailboat decades ago. I know the winter weather will be a shocker…but we lived in the northwest for decades before we moved and it never seemed to bother us then. I miss snow-shoeing, Nordic skiing, ice skating, the beautiful smell and sight of fir trees, and fall and spring weather (you don’t get much where we now are). We’re homesick.

So what do I do about Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc., my little S-Corporation? I think it’s time I dissolved my corporation and became a sole-proprietor again. I’ll certainly keep an account with the printing company so authors can still get their books and the books will still be available online or with vendors, but I just feel like throwing in the towel, going back to free-lance writing, getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, and focusing on sea life, whales in particular – especially orcas. I might even become a radical about plastic pollution and protecting our oceans, and saving our wild salmon! I can spend more time on JUST ONE THING. That would be fun. What I’m doing now no longer is.

I’ll keep my website…I think…maybe. And I’ll be blogging less about books, and more about LIFE. I’m ready. It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

Time for an About-Face for Shirking

The main interest I’ve (we’ve) maintained throughout all the covid stress and election drama has been a continual attention to the health of the ocean, nature, and especially whales. There are some bright spots here:

I declare I do think some people have minds like traps…something gets in it and it doesn’t go away. Once again I’ve been caught.

Here’s some facts I’ve been called on:

In September I declared I would row 500 miles before the end of the year. Didn’t quite get there – actually I was a long way from 500 miles. Try 189. Well, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak! Besides, the north ramp at Lake Pleasant was closed and that is the BEST, most scenic area for rowing, kayaking, and swimming.

And I’ve been asked where JOT has disappeared to and what’s going on with it…It’s been so long since I’ve talked about JOT (Just One Thing) that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve done little to nothing in recent months. I think the pandemic wore me out. I was too busy reading Fox News and the New York Times email articles to pay attention to much else.

For those with short memories, JOT (Just One Thing) is a grassroots alliance encouraging people to forego one single-use plastic item to help with plastic pollution and wastage. There are a number of people who have signed up to participate in the JOT movement, however, but I’ve failed to do much communication since I failed to keep their email addresses. Again…likely a pandemic fault. However, JOT is alive and well and will be energized again…Care to join? Send me your name and I’ll add you to our list. No fees or dues or donations ever. Just a commitment on your part to yourself.

The main interest I’ve (we’ve) maintained throughout all the covid stress and election drama has been a continual attention to the health of the ocean, nature, and especially whales. There are some bright spots here:

A new pod of Blue Whales has been discovered in the Indian Ocean. In addition, Blue Whales are once again being detected in the Georgia Island area (north of Antarctica) after 50-years of absence. These whales were hunted almost to the very brink of extinction by money-driven cretins. (Please don’t tell the Japanese or the Norwegians since they have a penchant for slaughtering whales.)

And, there have been numerous sightings of the northwest’s Southern Resident pod of orcas this fall and winter…likely this is because there are far fewer boaters plowing through the waters disturbing them.

So…I’m seriously back to work even though I don’t plan to publish anything this year. Despite having become a bit of a hermit, I aim to live with gratitude and enthusiasm. No more shirking, procrastinating, and negativity. I’m tired of that.

 Besides promoting JOT and trying to sell books, I’ll  be blogging about the NRDC and their successes in sustaining the environment (like helping defeat the Pebble  mine in Bristol Bay), along with the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and their efforts to revive wild salmon stocks (yes, more bridges are now being torn down), as well as other marine and nature organizations issues (like closing Marine World and getting those poor whales out of swimming pools!). I’ll be heading to Washington State in February for a month of resuscitation. I know I’ll come back fired up – and probably be yearning to move north…again. 

Check out Saving Our Oceans or any of our other scintillating titles!

ENOUGH DOOM AND GLOOM

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle

I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the doom and gloom that Covid has gifted us, and I’m more than ready to move on despite the escalation of the pandemic.

I think we all need a dose of good news! Here it is…

GOOD NEWS #1

For those who are environmentally aware – or involved – or interested, hang on to your hats. The Army Corps of Engineers has at long last denied the application for a permit to operate the Pebble Mine, located in the pristine Bristol Bay of Alaska.

Exquisite Bristol Bay Saved

Earlier in 2020 the Corps denied the project as it was then planned and required a new mitigation plan. Most opponents to the dam worried that the Corps might buckle to the big money group wanting to create an open pit copper-magnesium mine. Most locals were gravely concerned about the impact of such a disastrous enterprise on the salmon run in the area, the world’s largest run. But salmon weren’t all that was at stake – other fisheries and numerous wildlife and the health of people in the area were also at extreme risk. The Corps finally agreed that “the mine would cause significant degradation and significant adverse effects to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay.” The icing on the cake for this decision may have come with the release of “The Pebble Tapes,” secretly recorded in a meeting and released to the Corps.

Over the years, literally thousands of people have petitioned and donated money to organizations fighting this catastrophic proposal. Ultimately it became clear that the Corps did not have confidence in the Pebble Mine plan to mitigate the damage that would be done to nearly 200 miles of streams, 4500 acres of impacted waters and wetlands. 

I think an important take-away of this decision is the fact that for once money  did not prevail and influence the final decision. Anymore this is breathtakingly rare.

GOOD NEWS #2

Dam Removal showing success already!

Another win for the environment is the removal of the dam on the Pilchuck River. The dam was removed in August, and already an increased number of salmon have been seen in the river. According to Matt Puley, a project coordinator, they’ve even seen chinook salmon navigating the river. 

Earlier in 2020 a dam was removed from the Nooksak River, and the Nelson Dam is scheduled to be removed in 2021. Other dams are being considered for removal too.

Elwha River Dam Removal. Photo by Seattle Times

Washington State is certainly not new to dam removal.The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were built in the early 1900s. Of course, the dams blocked salmon from migrating upstream to spawn and disrupted the flow of sediment. It also flooded homes and cultural sites. However, in 1992 Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, authorizing the removal of the Elwha Dam and then the Glines Canyon Dam.  The removal of the Elwha started in 2011 and was followed by the Glines Dam in 2014. Once again, the Elwha is a free-flowing river!

GOOD NEWS #3

And, not to be overlooked, according to the Capital Press, “Plans to remove four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California are back on track, with possible demolition happening in 2023. The removal of these dams will open about 400 miles of stream habitat for coho and steelhead, both threatened species. AND, if successful, “…it would be the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. History.

The agreement was negotiated and signed by the states of California and Oregon, PacifiCorp, KRRC and the Yirok and Karuk tribes. According to Governor Kate Brown, “We are taking an incredibly important step forward toward restorative justice for people of the Klamath River. The agreement is about far more than the removal of four dams. It is a stop toward righting historic injustices.

More importantly, Joseph James of the Yurok Trive said the project “is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people…we want to emphasize that the Yurok Tribe will never rest until the dams are out and the river is healed.”

GOOD NEWS #4

The Southern Resident Pod has two new babies that have joined their dwindling numbers. Perhaps there is yet hope for this REMARKABLE species to survive.

Why is all of this so important?

In the words of Chief Seattle:

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

What’s in YOUR Water?

The drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population.

(The following article is from Saving Our Oceans and is being reprinted with the permission of the publisher.)

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

  Chapter 5: Fresh Water Has Problems Too

While cleaning the oceans of debris is a major challenge and task, it’s not the only task on which survival depends. And frankly, cleaning up the oceans cannot be accomplished without stopping the fresh water pollution that is the primary cause of ocean pollution. Some say that as much as 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s pollutants comes from rivers and streams.

It’s quite easy to conclude that fresh water pollution is as serious as ocean pollution when one considers that the drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population. Much of the contamination happened in previous years (although it seems likely that there’s still some occurring) and just like plastic, contaminated water doesn’t simply go away. While plastic is a pollution problem, fresh water issues go far beyond plastic bottles left along the shoreline.

Lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers across the country are home to cancer-causing ingredients from industrial waste, farm fertilizers, and chemical toxins. Whether one believes in global warming or not, there’s also the presence of brain and flesh eating bacteria in the mix that relishes warm waters. There are even more culprits, but these will suffice to make a point.

Let’s start with lakes first, and then delve into the serious issues with “potable” water. The EPA, with the assistance of state and tribal agencies, did water quality assessments for a large number of lakes. 55 percent of the lake water studied was considered to be of acceptable quality (whatever that means), but the other 45 percent had waters “impaired for at least one type of use,” such as drinking water, recreational fishing, swimming, or aquatic life support. Man-made lakes, often serving as dams, accounted for 59% that were impaired. (ThoughtCo. “Lake Pollution: Types, Sources, and Solutions.”) Plastic pollution was not part of this study, unfortunately. When plastic pollution is assessed in lakes, it appears that 100 per cent of them have some degree of contamination.

Algae blooms occur in both fresh water and salt water. These “blooms” are a serious problem that lead to toxin build-up causing oxygen levels to drop which kills fish and is dangerous for swimming. In fact, algae can be deadly to both humans and animals.

Some areas studied had nitrogen and phosphorus pollution which can come from inefficient sewage treatment and fertilizers. This is a far more serious problem than one may realize. Dead zones in lakes and the ocean where there are insufficient oxygen levels are often caused by fertilizer run-off, resulting in death to animals, fish, and plants that enter these zones.

A combination of fresh and salt water, the Baltic Sea is the largest man-made dead zone, and the northern Gulf of Mexico is the second largest and covers over 8700 square miles. Lake Erie (fresh water) and Chesapeake Bay (a combination of fresh and salt water) also have large dead zones. According to ThoughtCo, a 2008 study found over 400 dead zones in lakes and oceans worldwide. “The underlying cause of any dead zone is eutrophication…which is the enrichment of water with nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients causing algae to grow out of control or ‘bloom’.”  Unfortunately, some fresh water dead zones are not recognized or identified as such.

“Pollution is the primary human source of the nutrients that cause eutrophication and dead zones. Fertilizer, manure, industrial waste and inadequately treated waste water overload aquatic ecosystems. In addition, air pollution also contributes to eutrophication.” Waste water is often piped into rivers and coasts.

The study also found that 42 percent of lakes had metal contamination with mercury and lead predominating. Coal-fired power plants are a leading cause of mercury contamination, and lead can be caused by fishing tackle dropped in the water (but often the surviving fish are already inedible due to toxins).

Basically, phosphorous, mercury, sediment and bacteria and pathogens are the main culprits. Added to this, however, are deadly microorganisms like lethal brain-eating bacteria. Although the incidence of people contracting brain-eating bacteria is fairly low, it’s a ghastly brain infection with very few surviving.

The problem with fresh water pollution, however, is it goes far, far beyond lakes. While lakes often provide drinking water, rivers are another very large source of household water. The list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.” In all fairness, when some of these companies were dumping toxic waste, it’s possible they didn’t understand the ramification of these toxins contaminating groundwater that then causes cancer and all manner of debilitating diseases. This does not absolve them of responsibility for the death and destruction they caused, however. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse…neither is ignorance of the ramifications of one’s actions.  Unfortunately, these rivers carry contaminants to the ocean, adding their toxins to the mix.

 “Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”

Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”

Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”

Example: Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”

Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.

Photo by NRDC.ORG

These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons floating downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a lot of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the giant dead zone there.

While many of these offenses may have occurred before people understood the severity of the problem that their illegal dumping was causing – or would cause – that does not appear to be the case with 3M and their fight to avoid massive pollution and restitution lawsuits.

“Chemical industry giant 3M is waging an aggressive campaign to stave off new regulations and potentially billions of dollars in damages stemming from a contamination crisis that has fouled tens of millions of Americans’ drinking water.” (Politico.com Energy and Environment)

As expected, the company has engaged lobbyists to work in Washington ostensibly to woo state attorneys general to their side as the company faces massive financial liability for toxic pollution that has been tied to two of its popular products that have turned up in the water supplies of some 1500 U.S. Communities.

3M argues that the chemicals are not hazardous according to their studies, an opinion many independent studies dispute. The issue that 3M is facing is that there are multiple lawsuits in the wings including personal injury, class-action, and property damage suits. “Altogether, industry experts say the company’s liability could reach the tens of billions of dollars.”

The chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS have been used for five decades in products like Teflon and Scotch Guard. They take years to break down and are called “forever chemicals.” They accumulate in bodies and cause cancers like kidney and testicular cancer, immune disorders and many other ailments – “and have been found in more than 99 percent of Americans’ blood.”

3M is known to support various political candidates, including attorney generals in Michigan, California, Ohio, and Alabama – “all states with major PFAS contamination.”

“In Alabama, where the chemicals made by 3M’s manufacturing plant in Decatur have contaminated the Tennessee River, a drinking water source for 4.7 million people…” the newly elected attorney general will not be joining a water utility’s lawsuit against the company. Is it possible that the contributions he received persuaded him otherwise?  Let’s hope not. But he was not the only person dissuaded. “The representatives of a collation mainly supported by 3M (Responsible Science Policy Coalition) have met with congressional officers and EPA political appointees arguing that the weight of current science evidence does not show PFOS or PFOA to cause adverse health effects in human at the current levels of exposure.” This goes entirely against the findings made by leading independent scientific researchers, the EPA and the CDC. This type of behavior is extremely disappointing and disturbing. If people are willing to do this to other people and the planet, it should come as no surprise that they would do worse to animals. We are all apparently just “collateral damage” – just a member of the herd – when we die of chemical induced cancers and other illnesses caused by their toxic products.

The bottom line: “3M’s own documents handed to the Minnesota attorney general office show that the company has known since the 1970s that the chemicals in question were toxic.”

With countless numbers of attorneys, lobbyists and “representatives” involved, the delay tactic for solving this issue may be even longer than the tobacco industry’s delay in finally coming to terms with the fact that tobacco causes cancer. How’s your water today? Perhaps you should have it checked.

Closer to home, “PFAS… have been found in five Washington drinking-water systems at levels over the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, as well as dozens of private drinking-water wells near firefighting training areas where the foams were used.” (PFAS are used in fire retardants, such as firefighting foam.) This discovery contradicts somewhat the 3M disparagement of their products being deadly even in small doses.

Also troubles still haunt Hanford, Washington, the site where 56 million gallons of radiative waste are stored. Although there have been problems with leakage, and threats of leakage, the waste has probably not made it to the Columbia River or to underground aquifers (that are known, anyway). However, during the time the nuclear power plant was in production, water was released into the river; in fact, “Groundwater contaminated with radioactive waste from the decommissioned Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state is still ‘flowing freely’ into the Columbia River…” according to a program manager with the U.S. EPA. This is a river regularly used for fishing, swimming and boating activities. How much is withdrawn for irrigation? How many cancers have resulted from exposure to this freely flowing contaminated groundwater? Are the fish safe to eat?

It seems state leaders are becoming seriously galvanized to take a better look at the quality of water their constituents drink. Like plastic, PFOS and PFAS are ubiquitous. Partly this increased interest in local water safety may have been prompted by the “lead” scandal in the water supply of Detroit, Michigan’s residents, another debacle that exposed citizens, especially vulnerable children, to life-long debilitating toxins.

Thus most toxins in the water are the result of farming, mining, industry and activities of this nature. Some, however, are deadly pathogens of nature. Brain-eating bacteria (amoeba) officially known as Naegleria fowleri may be the worst. The infections occur when contaminated water gets in the nose. The amoeba travels up the nose and into the brain which it destroys. The disease itself is known as PAM (primary amoebic meningoencephalitis). This disease is almost always fatal (97 percent).  

The bacteria have been reported worldwide and live primarily in warm water, but can live in colder water for a length of time. In the United States the bacteria is most commonly found in warm lakes or rivers in the south, and even in water parks and pools. Some estimate that about 8 people a year die from this infection, mostly young males, but these estimates vary depending on the source. The exact number is unknown because PAN is difficult to diagnose in its early stage where it might be cured. It’s sometimes mistaken for bacterial meningitis. Likely climate change will contribute to this infection if temperatures continue to warm.

Unfortunately, the bacteria can also be found in drinking water – and that was the situation in 2017 in Louisiana. Health officials reassured people that contaminated tap water would not lead to an infection, “but using it for nasal irrigation or accidentally getting it into your nose can.” (“Brain-Eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Tap Water, People Warned to Avoid Water in Nose.”) Residents were given a list of things to do to avoid contracting the bacteria, such as flushing out pipes by running showers and water hoses for a full five minutes before use, and also they could boil their water or use distilled or sterile water for washing and making nasal rinses. Yet another warning about the presence of the amoeba in drinking water was issued by the New York Post in June of 2018.

At the risk of being morbid, I will only briefly mention flesh eating bacteria – known as necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition, but not as rare as brain-eating bacteria. There have been between 600 and 1200 cases of this disease every year since 2010. This is not necessarily a water-born disease, although it can be. The water version is from an ocean-dwelling bacterium called vibrio vulnificus. The bacteria can be found in warm coastal waters during the summer months. People can develop this infection by going into the water with an open wound and having the bad luck of coming into contact with the Vibrio. One can also become infected from eating contaminated seafood.

It might be worthwhile to consider using a water filter for all potable water, particularly water from private wells. (City water sources are likely tested more often than private wells although many people find the taste of treated water to be repugnant, but water filters may help with that.) These filters do not need to be elaborate systems. Some refrigerator filters work fine for filtering drinking water. There are many relatively inexpensive filtration products available. Using one of these for drinking water is not being paranoid. Doing so is completely understandable and justifiable considering the chemicals and toxins dumped in the water supply.

Release date: May 2019

To order your signed copy of Saving Our Oceans directly from the publisher, contact us at orders@moonlightmesaassociates.com.

It’s not Too Late to Avoid Another “Catastrophic” Problem, But Time is Running Out

People need to know the truth about critical freshwater sources and issues.

2020 will no doubt be a year that no one will forget. Will we want to forget? YES. The pandemic has jerked people around endlessly: Masks, no masks, advice to get outside, advice to hunker down, close schools, open schools, close schools.

*The weather in 2020, particularly in hurricane country, has served up fear and excitement…rather like a horror movie might.

*Riots and protests: democracy at work or terrorism in play?

*Unemployment and evictions have abounded.

*The stock market has offered its thrills and chills.

*And, of course, the election has been a nightmare for everyone regardless of who wins. The election may last longer than the pandemic!

When the pandemic was first declared, we at Moonlight Mesa expected an onslaught of book orders. After all, we reasoned, people were being confined at home (hunkering down in place I think they called it) and would tire of daytime television in short order. Wrong. Spring book orders languished horribly. Then, come late spring and summer when we traditionally have our slower months, sales unexpectedly bloomed. Best summer sales ever.

Fall arrived, but so far sales have failed to be as robust has usual.

But overall, what’s been selling for us? Nonfiction. Nothing else: NONFICTION.

Unfortunately, while the sales of all our nonfiction books have been very respectable, sales of Saving Our Oceans have greatly disappointed us, and we feel this book is one of the most timely, important books we’ve yet published. There are several likely reasons for this poor response – one being that the vast majority of people DO NOT LIVE BY OR NEAR THE OCEAN and aren’t really engaged with the issues. This is understandable – but not excusable when one considers that the ocean provides 70 to 80% of the oxygen we breathe.  And, the other issue (no surprise) is that people who actually live in coastal states may already be aware of many of the issues that Saving Our Oceans covers.

However…there are chapters in Saving Our Oceans  that should be read by everyone no matter where they live. People need to know the truth about freshwater sources and its critical issues (which the book also covers). Because we feel this information is vitally important, future blogs will offer chapters from the book. It’s not too late to avoid another catastrophe that will put the pandemic to shame in comparison, but time is running out.

(Or, you can buy the book. It’s priced at just 12.95 to expedite sales. All proceeds are donated to the Friday Harbor Whale Museum and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, both in Washington State.)

Photo by NRDC.ORG

Major Changes to Publishing House

Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: The Ocean; Whales; and the Rights of Nature.

Becky on her mule, Reba Peru.

It’s become apparent to many of Moonlight Mesa’s blog followers and customers, that the publishing house is no longer the same company that used to avidly only promote western books and authors. “There is no question that we’re on a different path,” admitted publisher Becky Coffield. “The change is a difficult, time-consuming, uphill struggle, and one we’ve been trying to win using emotional appeal – not tactics. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it’d be. Somehow that’s got to change.”

It’s tempting to say that the biggest cause of struggle is Moonlight Mesa’s rural location – being housed on the borderline of a dinky seasonal community and a small cowboy town. This hurts, but it’s not the only issue. Not being a coastal state, Arizonans generally tend to be indifferent to the issues that Moonlight Mesa’s publisher finds to be a priority. “This is to be expected, I suppose. Arizona has issues and problems of its own to deal with that are troublesome: drought and potential water shortage; rapid growth due to a massive influx of newcomers; and border issues to name a few. Expected, but disappointing,” Coffield said.

So, what is the pubisher’s focus? Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: the Ocean; Whales; and The Rights of Nature. That is, of course, a simplification, but it generally sums it up.  Coffield is also a supporter of NRDC, CELDEF, and GARN.*

For starters, as chairperson of the JUST ONE THING Alliance, Coffield decided to house the small, grass-roots movement on Moonlight Mesa’s website as its own domain. (www.justonething.life) She has also recently added Moonlight Mesa’s publication, Saving Our Oceans. (www.saving-our-oceans.com) as a domain on the website.

“Though the addition of these two domains to Moonlight Mesa’s website does not in any way help book sales or the company, the fact is it’s a step in going where I have to go,” Coffield said.

Coffield became an ocean/whale devotee after spending six years blue-water sailing on a Cal 2-34, traveling around 25,000 miles, then living on the Oregon Coast for many years. Originally from the Northwest, Coffield has spent years boating in the San Juan Islands and traveling the Inside Passage to the Broughton Islands and S.E. Alaska. “I’ve had fantastic whale encounters in S.E. Alaska,” Coffield recalled. “And, of course, a person can’t help but love the Southern Resident Pod that hangs out in the San Juans.” Coffield is currently endeavoring to complete a Marine Naturalist Certification.

It’s become apparent to all who know the publisher that she (and her husband) are  fish out of water living in Arizona – The big question is “for how much longer?” She’s choosing not say at this time –

Meanwhile, look for the saving-our-oceans.blog in the very near future.

*CELDEF: Community Environmental Defense Fund

NRDC – Nature Resource Defense Council

GARN – Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

Blog submitted by Renee Witty