Seattle At Night

Seattle At Night

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

settling inn

well i have just about used up all of my internet from my hotspot for the month so this blog post will be brief since it is a phone entry.
despite being exhausted from driving all the way to detroit last night, i was very productive after work today.   i first made strawberry muffins using the strawberries i picked in berrien springs friday. then i walked a plate over to my landlords and some of the founders of chikaming open lands.  i sat and talked with them for at least a half an hour to learn how pleasant and hospitable they are. we talked about a wide variety of topics from france to political science degrees to wine.  i really enjoyed better getting to know the kind people who let me use their darling cottage.
it goes without saying that my muffins are terrific and that they liked them.  i also learned that while i love the quiet solitude of my casita, i also really enjoy human interaction outside of work. i also apparently need to be pleasant to others around me. i wouldnt get even close to say that i am ass kissing to get a permanent job, but i merely wanted to exhibit good manners and thank them for their kindness.
in the end i know im a pleasant person to be around, if i want to be around you. i obviously want to be here and working in their organization so why not build a great relationship with these passionate people from different backgrounds who have congregated for the same cause, the environment. like i said this is a phone entry so sorry about misspelling, punctuation and even my capitalization button isnt working...
until next time,

Monday, June 27, 2011


I love weekends here!
Friday I went kayaking in Sima Marsh!   It was amazing!  I can't wait to get a kayak sometime and do it more often!  We saw a great blue heron and a lot of small birds.  It was so quiet back in that preserve!  I also couldn't believe some of the houses that looked over the marsh.  I feel like I'd rather have property on the marsh than on the lake because of the scenery and the peace and quiet.  I also hope to take at least one guest kayaking on the Galien, it was a great way for me to get to know my client better.
  I also went with an amazing group of women, they all go mountain climbing together.  They have done Kilimanjaro and are going to the Himalayas this fall!  They were all happy to have me with them too, which I was grateful for.
Then Johanna and I went strawberry picking!  Best strawberries ever! I'm planning on making muffins with the strawberries this week!   I had some great friends come visit me this weekend also.  It was great having guests here for me to show around and actually get out into the community with!  we also had a very relaxing weekend of hanging out on the porch, the beach and even going to the Round Barn winery to do some tasting!  That was a lot of fun and I will definitely do that with other guests as well!  That's all for now! This week should keep me busy, and I'm heading to the Tiger's game tomorrow, weather permitting....

<3 Suzy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I am here

Tonight I was introduced and reminded to why I am here, in Berrien county, Harbor country, saving the Galien watershed, or, as they refer to it here, the center of the world.  July 2nd is one of our workdays, meaning volunteers go out into the field and work on one of our properties, usually one we've just acquired.  Work means pulling and cutting invasives and cleaning up garbage or waste on the property.  Tonight me and three members of the stewardship committee ventured out into Robinson Woods, a property we acquired from The Nature Conservancy in order to find the invasive species and mark them so the volunteers can more easily locate them rather than wandering around the large property looking for them. We were on the beautiful wooded property for about two hours, only a quarter of which were we finding Barberry, privet, and multi flora rose.  (the invasives)  The rest of the time, we walked the trail through this gorgeous forest with some wetland areas until we hit the ravine with the tiny little creek at the bottom of the steep 40 foot drop.  This ravine was divine to look at, great forest area with lots of trees and shrubs.  Not many birds chirping back in the property or other wildlife for that matter.  I was excited to find out that the trail was one they are going to keep and also put in a parking lot near the border of the property so others could enjoy this gorgeous, peaceful plot of land.
Seeing that gorgeous property and knowing that Chikaming Open Lands, the Nature Conservancy and the previous owners all cherished its unique, rich landscape really reminded me of why I loved protecting the environment so much.  Without this land being preserved, the young oak trees may have been logged in the future, or cut down to cramp 6 cottages on the lot.  Instead we see that this property has more than a commercial value, but rather an aesthetic and I would even go as far to say a spiritual and universal value that can not be calculated at a market price.I was proud and honored to have this land, forest, creek, river etc. as my client for work, this is something I can go home every night  proud of myself for doing.
I realized how important that is for people, after talking to a friend who was not proud of the work he was doing.  His work wasn't immoral, but it is a ridiculous concept that they do not feel satisfied enough with what they have done all day.  I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be working for something that I am passionate about, that I do enjoy doing and learning about, and feel good doing it.  I realize that I am blessed to have this job opportunity, even if it is temporary, not only because the job market is kinda not good still but also because this unique corner of the state has a lot of charm.
Tomorrow I am Kayaking down my client (the Galien River) with a board member and a few other ladies that vacation in the area.  I'm sure I will have another spiritual and rejuvenating experience to write about after that.
Please "like" Chikaming Open Lands on facebook to learn more about the great things being done in the area!

<3 Suzy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As I am sure all of you have noticed, it has been a very buggy summer! Happy solstice, actually.  The bugs are darn awful this year!  I went to the beach today to enjoy the beautiful hot day after work, and the mosquitos were eating me alive!  Then I moved my towel from the deck to the beach sand and the flies and mosquitos ate me!!  How am I supposed to enjoy the beach when I'm being eaten alive??  I took a quick refreshing dip in Lake Michigan and walked back to my cabin, just before the rain started!  As I was on the phone with a friend, I FREAKED out at this HUGE spider on my porch.  I'm not talking Daddy long legs huge, i'm talking like tropical rainforest as big as my palm huge!  ICK!  I hate spiders but I can normally remove one from my space.  This one was bigger than any of the ones I saw down in Nicaragua and probably Costa Rica too!  I'm still breathing heavily with my bedroom door shut so I can't see it smugly sitting on front of my door on the porch, like it knows it gives me the chills when I see it.
As is always said though, this is part of living with nature.  I am, infact, intruding on their space.  Spiders were here long before I was, mosquitos like human blood and flies, well are just annoying.  As much as I wish I didn't have to do it, I know I'm going to be wearing DEET all summer every time I go to the beach and using more of it than I did in central america.  I wish there was a more healthy bug repellent though that didn't cause fertility problems.  The banana story is totally a myth... I tried it last week...
This leaves me to sitting in my bug filled and lined cottage for the rest of the evening, which is fine with me since it started raining and I enjoy the peace.
Other than the bugs, its great here!  Today I worked on drafting a management plan for our preserves based off of one from The Nature Conservancy!  pretty legit things I'm learning!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week two

I had a great weekend in Kalamazoo, got to spend some time with some good friends of mine and relax the work week off.  Now I'm thrown back into Monday, the real world and the other problems that come with it.  This week at work will be slow because Peg, my mentor, is giving lectures in Kansas City.  Today Johanna showed me what she could access on my facebook even though we are not friends.  This was good for me to see because my controls work, she couldn't see all my photos or my comments, only my profile pictures, my education and friends.
Anyway, the rainy forecast looks like it will delay my strawberry picking :(  But I have visitors this weekend so there is something to look forward to.
I'm soo close to finishing my knit wrap! I'm going to go do that now!  Hopefully someone's reading this, even one person! Sorry if it was more of a rant than a life update.  My goal is to be the tiniest bit insightful but its hard after working all day... as you probably know.
Also you should go listen to the Foo Fighters. Right now!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My desk is piling up...

Now that I've had a few days to learn about all the processes that need to happen before an easement takes place, I'm beginning to wonder if I can get my whole intern task list finished... especially with a capped 40 hours a week... but I'm confident that I can get some of these people to place an easement on their property to protect it from logging, mining and development!
 Other than that, with the rainy weather I haven't been very active, I couldnt' bike to work, or after work... or walk on the I've been sitting, knitting (I'm really trying to finish my shawl, I'm on the home stretch!) and eating!!
speaking of eating! Both the ladies I work with, who are both very nice, have chickens that they raise for eggs.  Today Peg brought me in a dozen of her organic free range eggs and didn't make me pay for them!! I'm so excited to eat them even though I just paid $4 for organic free range eggs at Barney's grocery store in New Buffalo.
Wish I had something more exciting to report on, but like i said before...there is no one here my age and I'm working a crap ton... the most exciting thing today was the 2 interviews for a new executive director, but I don't know anything about it because Johanna and I were kicked out of the office for 3 hours while they was kind of annoying... oh well, maybe we will finally have some full time leadership in office!
Plus this weekend I might have some more juicy 20 something news! I hope ;)


Monday, June 13, 2011

First Day on and off the job in Lakeside, MI!

Wow, today was crazy awesome!  I started my internship with Chikaming Open Lands today as their land protection intern to protect the Galien River watershed.  I luckily scored a very nice little cottage close to lake Michigan, on a lot where I have permission to access the lake.  This blog is about my adventures working for the land preservation non-profit and living in a several million dollars a house neighborhood on beautiful lake Michigan.
  Work was good, I was kind of thrown into my desk and told to read e-mails to kind of catch up on the active properties we are looking at for easements or are currently making into an easement.  For those of you who don't exactly know what an easement is, here is the definition according to the Headwaters Land Conservancy in north-west Michigan.
Conservation Easement:  a voluntary legal agreement that allows a landowner to permanently protect land and limit future development in order to protect the conservation values of the land, while retaining ownership and the ability to sell.
This is what I will be doing a lot of the summer, working with people and properties to get more easements intact in this corner of Michigan.
Anyways today I was outside half of the day and met a lot of the board.  We were looking at possible easement properties or preservation properties.  One lot we went to today, near the Three Oaks Republic landfill was very pretty but there was  a lot of garbage dumped there not from the landfill.  There was a full fiberglass motorboat there that looked like ti had been there for at least 10 years.  We also helped a painted turtle cross the road.
After work I went on a beautiful bike ride on Lakeshore Drive.  I know why all the Chicago people come here, on lake Michigan, the main drag is Lakeshore Drive, and a lot of the restaurants are just as expensive.  That bike ride was beautiful, cottage after cottage or beautifully constructed and designed summer houses with tennis courts or a gorgeous garden or a wrap around porch.  The cotton trees or whatever are seeding like mad so a few yards of gorgeous homes were covered in the cotton like a morning frost in the spring.
Then I went down to the Lake to watch the sunset....great choice by me!  Sunset was stunning with its reflection on the lake.  The water was warm so I could beach walk with my feet in the water, no better way to unwind after a 10 hour day!  I am so thankful for the big hearted VanNice's who are permitting me to use their cottage and their beachfront.
This summer is going to be great, I can tell, especially if all days are half as amazing as today.  Yes i found a spider in my pajama pants and was at a desk all morning, but the people here are passionate about the beauty of the land and water.  This passion makes working with them much more enjoyable.
As I have been saying, feel free to call me and book a weekend to come stay with me!  I'd love company on the beach or on a bike ride or to go to the local independent theatre!!
<3 Suz