Half-hearted Fanatic
One of my favorite Edward Abbey quotes (it’s the first thing you see on my website)
is about him being a half-hearted fanatic.  He says it’s not enough to fight for the
land, but you also should get out there and enjoy it with your family and friends.  And, if
you’ve read any of Abbey’s works, you’ll know that he was a real person, and
never apologized for being human and having human emotions or desires.  I’ve always
lived my life along those lines as well.

My job, my career, is all about protecting the land.  And some of my free-time is spent
fighting for it in various ways, usually while I'm out there enjoying it as well.  But a full-
fledged fanatic I am not.  I’m not one of those people who’s going to chain
themselves to a tree to prevent it from being cut down.  Of course I like trees, I love
them in fact, but I also know that in this day and age you need a good reason to cut it
down… especially if you’re a government entity doing the cutting.  So I’m
probably not going to chain myself to a tree.  Hug it, sure, I have photographic evidence
of me doing that.  But no chains.

However, I don’t fault those that sacrifice everything to keep a big redwood
standing.  In fact, I applaud them, it’s great to be so very dedicated to something
you believe in that you sacrifice everything else.  But that’s not me...  Well, who am I
then?

Well, I’m a meat-eater.  I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian, even though I know thatâ
€™s a more environmentally friendly way to live.  What can I say? I like the taste of
meat.  I love BBQ's, especially in conjunction with camping and enjoying the great
outdoors.  However, I do support responsible ranching practices, and of course I make
sure I have vegetarian food whenever my sister comes to visit.

I do shop at Wal-Mart.  I prefer other stores, but there are a few things that they donâ
€™t carry that Wal-Mart does.  And when funds are tight, as they were for us back in
2007 and 2008, Wal-Mart can be a blessing.

I like buying local and buying American, but if the only product available that I need is
from China, oh well.  Don’t Chinese people have a right to sustain themselves as much
as the rest of us?

When I go shopping, I try and remember to bring our canvas re-usable shopping bags.  
But, I’m human, and sometimes I forget to bring them.  I do strongly support cities
who have instituted a tax for plastic bags.  I would cast a vote in favor of our city doing
the same, it would mean more motivation to remember to bring my canvas bags!

I recycle, but I didn’t freak out when a family member recently told me they didnâ
€™t.  Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to talk to him more about it, but in the
interest of keeping family peace during the holidays, I just let the issue go.  

I drive an SUV.  What can we say?  We like to drive on Forest Service and BLM dirt
roads, so we need the ground clearance.  We used to have a smaller one, but couldn't fit
all our camping gear anymore once the baby came along.  But our SUV has an eco mode,
where it switches to 3 cylinders when it can. And we always try and save gas by
combining errands, being easy on the gas pedal, etc...

I would never buy an ATV, because I think they are loud and obnoxious.  But my husband
wants to buy one someday.  He grew up riding ATV’s and Jet skis and the like.  And he
wants to gain experience so that perhaps he can become an OHV ranger or manager
someday.  Also, he points out, we can go on even the most rugged of Forest Service and
BLM dirt roads...  He has a point.  And I have a feeling once I ride on it (wearing ear
plugs) I’ll have a lot of fun and see a lot of land I probably would never see
otherwise.

We bought a house in 2009, a new one.  The main reason being the $10,000 state tax
credit for buying a new home made the down payment affordable.  Without that tax
credit we probably wouldn’t have been able to buy.  But, we chose to buy from a
builder who prides themselves in green building materials and design.  This house is a lot
more efficient than any existing home I’ve lived in before.  Our utility bills are low.  
And our new home is in an area that is ideally suited for homes, more so than most areas
in Southern California.  It’s on flat land, not prone to wildfire, and not sitting on an
earthquake fault or in a flood-plain.  Our water comes from a groundwater supply (and is
quite good!) and we’re also close to the highway and to shopping and to friends and
family.  And we've planted only plants that are native or adapted to an arid landscape.

Our new home came with a great warranty.  At this point in my life with a busy career I
didn't want to have to spend time and energy doing home repairs.  I wanted a peaceful
place to come home to so my time and energy could be spent elsewhere.

I did have a concern about the Joshua Trees in our area, no doubt there were one or two
that had to be cut down to build our house.  I was therefore relieved to find out that our
city protects all Joshua Trees and those that had to be removed to build our house and
others in the neighborhood were re-planted.  And, my mother-in-law has promised to give
me a Joshua tree seedling to plant in our yard, so perhaps that also helps make up for
having to relocate a few.   A biologist also checks for desert tortoise and Mohave ground
squirrel habitat before development permits are issued.

I love being a part of a community and I'm already getting to know my neighbors and
making new friends.  But I also like being near open land.  Todd and I both felt somewhat
stifled the past two years living in a big city.  We like having wide open spaces nearby.  
But, can you have both?  Well, I think so...  I’ve read our city’s general plan and I
do believe it allows room for open space protection and all that’s probably needed are
a few people to get behind the effort in an organized way.  I’m definitely willing to
put some time aside to lead the way!

Our house is not a McMansion, it's actually one of the smallest in our area, but it does
have a little extra room to grow because when we bought it we were thinking about
having children.  Yes, there is a huge problem with overpopulation; in fact most of this
planet’s problems can be traced back to that fact.  But, I love kids and I wanted to
raise environmentally-aware and socially responsible children.  Plus, I think Todd would
make a great dad, and my parents can only do so much with grandcats and granddogs :p

Speaking of which, our home will also be able to house family members if needed.  If my
grandma needs a place to live next winter like she did the last, or if our parents need
our help someday, we now have room for them.

So you see, yes, I’m certainly sensitive to environmental issues, and I’m always
open to a good discussion about how we as humans can do more to protect the natural
world.  By the way, if you want to start such a discussion, be sure to leave me a way to
get a hold of you ;)  However, I also only have so much energy and time to devote to such,
and I'll never chose to ignore my family and friends and their wants and needs and
beliefs.  They are the most important things in my life, because without them I wouldnâ
€™t be here today.

So, like Abbey, I’m only a half-hearted fanatic.  If you were expecting more, an
environmentalist who sacrifices everything to protect the natural world, well I’m
sure they have a website somewhere out there for you to peruse.  

Or, wait a minute, someone like that wouldn’t own a computer or use electricity
would they?  Never mind…



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