Opinion

By Jeannie Davis

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GO into the Holiday Season without reflecting on things past. Happy times with our families around us. Children’s faces, unwrapping gifts, the faces of old friends and relatives, kitchen smells, and of course, the happy chatter of a full house. Of course, not all memories are happy. Some are dramatic and life-changing, as the birth of a child, marriage proposal, men home from the war. Some are incidental, as your husband struggling with an oversize tree, the flushed face of your mom coming in from the cold air, a secret glance across a room. Some are sad: the first Christmas without a loved one, the pain of Christmas in an unhappy home, being alone during this happy time.

This is all well and good as memories go. But, we know that as human beings, we have many many more memories, which do not fit into any of the above categories, and it could possibly be that we enjoy these even more than traditional ones. Casual outings and trivial chats which don’t seem memorable, yet, we find ourselves looking back with fondness. These are the memories we should indeed treasure, not the obvious staged Norman Rockwell images.

We need more of these. We need to create and store more of these unintentional happenings. After all, they say that our memories form a large part of who we are. They provide the coloring and flavor of our personalities, and strongly influence our outlooks.

But, what if our memories are unhappy? What if our childhoods were more Grinch than Norman Rockwell?What then? Simply make more! Create new happy times. Focus on positive friends, and even make new ones, interact eagerly with others, try new ventures.

That is not to suggest that we feverishly run about at-tending every event, talk to each person who crosses our path, or open our doors to the world. We need to be in the middle. Be open without being frantic. Let’s face it, some of us can get out and do things more than oth-ers. This limits our chances of having new experiences, or making new friends. What to do about this? Then we focus on what we can do and not what we can’t do.

Focus! That may be the key to those small, unplanned memories. I have discovered that by paying close attention to what is happening in the moment, observing everything around me at the time, listening, hearing, and even smelling. I stay in the moment. I don’t let my mind stray to what I have to do later, what happened that morning, or any other distraction. Stay in the conversation, not planning on what you are going to say, listen. Focus on the sights around you, decorations, how people are dressed, soak it in. Think about it, you will never be here in this moment again.

I find that by completely absorbing everything in front of me, my memories are fuller, and more frequent. Recently, Joyce, Virginia, and myself attended a gallery showing and lecture at the DIA, no big deal, just a pleasurable afternoon. In the gift store, I watched Joyce happily examine each article as she marveled at it. From a distance in the gallery, I noticed Virginia studying the costly tea and coffee services, and shake her head. At lunch, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on what we had just seen.  All the way home, we chatted happily about the afternoon. I know that this will be a warm memory. And I am so happy I focused on every detail. So, let’s go out and make new memories. Pay attention to all the lovely things around you, all the people, and engage. Merry Christmas.

By Rebecca Hammond

SIGH: Michigan has been discovered, alas. While I’m continually amazed that I can keep finding new and enjoyable trails, towns, rivers in Michigan, I’m not happy that we keep making this-or-that list of national wonderfulness. The latest? Nikon has ranked Michigan the number-one spot in America for fall photography. (What took them so long?) Years ago I was driving to Ohio and was pleased to hear that NPR was doing an entire hour on Marquette, which was continually winning a spot on “Ten Best Places . . .” lists. At the end was an interview with the owner of a downtown business, who was maybe the grandson of its founder. His last words? “Don’t move here.” I now understand. A friend who lives in Marquette said that the last two summers were off-the-charts busy with tourists, and that even Munising had times with not enough hotel rooms or restaurants. Perhaps Musising will be to Marquette what Ferndale once was to Royal Oak.

RETRO FESTIVE: Darwin’s Home Evolution on the west side of Woodward north of Nine Mile has windows so
full of retro holiday wares, I defy you to take a look and not feel nostalgic. They sell housewares, furniture, jewelry, books, and games. Darwin’s will have a Christmas Party, date not yet selected, but check their Facebook page or website. They have treats at all times, a free drawing every week, and since items are only in the store for three months, there’s something new constantly. Check out their after-Christmas sale. Used gifts are green gifts. Regift and degift.

NATURE, A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: A praying mantis set up housekeeping on our porch for about two weeks this summer. The Number One sign you might be a nature lover: finding yourself with tweezers, picking spider webs off the back of a mantis. We humans seem to think wild things want the relationship with us that we desire with them. Just as I can wishfully-think that wild creatures enjoy relating to me, I can also think that they get into spider webs accidentally, instead of en-joying a free source of food they didn’t have to bother catching.
When you see the rather putrid fungi that pops up all over Ferndale in late summer, the red stems with slimy brown tops that are often crawling with flies, do you also wonder why you’re a nature lover to begin with? Nature can be disgusting. On the other hand, this was a marvelous year for fungi in the woods. When you see groups of spherical inch-wide brown fungi, each with a small hole on top, give one a press. A cloud of fine spores will puff out of that little hole.

PIPELINES: The Dakota Access Pipeline remains in the news and remains a concern for members of our community. NPR reported yesterday that in below freezing temperatures, police sprayed protesters with water cannons. And police complained that they had been hit with rocks and wood. President Obama may be considering rerouting this pipeline. While this would make most of us happy for the Standing Rock Sioux, the pipeline, which is heading for Illinois and consumers, will then become someone else’s battle. As of yet, no environmental groups that oppose the pipeline mention our demand for oil.

RANDOM GREEN THOUGHTS: I notice that any life activity becomes a learning experience if continued long enough. Hiking might be my favorite activity. Michigan is a hiker’s dream. We recently hiked the Highbanks Trail along the Au Sable Valley east of Os-coda, happy that we waited till mid-October. All memories of this day are glowingly positive, although many moments of the hike were not. Traffic was heavy along nearby River Road, parts of the seven-mile trail were “crowded” with hikers, and as always, my feet hurt. Some of this hike is along power-line rights-of-way. Gorgeous valley views are interspersed with dull second-growth woods. When you commit to a certain activity as way of life,moments of like and dislike do not end up mattering. When they seem to (my feet can really hurt!And there are bugs, sweat, cold), a mental reminder that even badly sore feet can’t wreck a hike overall is warranted. This is freedom, something to be nurtured and valued.

I read once that Grand Canyon river guides have a high rate of off-season depression, nothing else life offers being as exciting and absorbing as running rapids. Coming and going from the natural world can end up more complicated than reason would have it. Transitions even to a beloved place or state of being can seem like jarring oneself out of a rut that is simply comfortable. It’s easier to keep doing anything than it is to stop and start it. A hiker in motion tends to stay in motion.

Maybe all discipline is the realization that deciding a course of action ahead of time and sticking to it is better and easier than going with the whims and moods of particular moments. I’ve known musicians to keep going through all the “-itises”: bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis; I myself once pulled the top off a music stand and right into my upper lip, sending me from a rehearsal straight to the ER, and still played an oboe concerto two days later. Most things are doable if you made up your mind ahead of time they’re worthwhile.

Conversely, things that are worthwhile will end up avoided if each mood is weighed for validity. If the forest calls you, go. If that particular experience isn’t wonderful, you went anyway. You smelled the forest and the water and heard the wind (and maybe pressed a fungi).

Sooner or later you accumulate enough wonderful excursions that the occasional mediocre or even lousy one can be laughed off. You’ll have faith that good times are plentiful enough to count on.

Rebecca Hammond lives in Ferndale where she continues to struggle with putting her things away when done with them. Life is a journey.

By: Rudy Serra

Q: HOW DO I DROP A PERSONAL PROTECTION THAT I FILED?
Answer: In answering your question, I assume you mean a Personal Protection Order, or PPO.

A PPO is an order from the court telling another person to stop certain behavior or they will be arrested and prosecuted. A petition for a PPO is a civil action between two private individuals. The proceedings are always in circuit court. Violating the court’s civil order can still lead to jail time for contempt of court. Once an order is issued, violating the civil court order can result in criminal prosecution. If you have a PPO to stop stalking and there is a violation, the person who violated the order can be charged with the crime of aggravated stalking.

A PPO will not be granted unless the person seeking it is illegally threatened. You cannot get a PPO to impede legitimate business. A court will not grant a PPO against your landlord that prevents him for collecting rent or evicting. A PPO can be granted in cases of domestic violence, or in cases involving stalking behavior, such as harassing calls and threats. A list of conduct that can be forbidden (such as sending mail, or showing-up at your work place) is included on the petition you file asking for the PPO.

The answer as to how to “drop” the order depends a lot on what you mean by “filed” and what stage you’re at. If by “filed” you mean that you have completed a circuit court petition for a PPO that has not yet been heard or granted, you should go back to the court and notify the clerk that you want to withdraw your petition. If by “filed” you mean that a PPO has been granted (either with or without hearing) then you should file a written request to terminate the PPO. You can do this by going to the same court that granted the order. There is a form available on-line for a motion to terminate or modify a PPO. If your PPO was granted after a hearing, then you will certainly be required to file a formal written request to terminate it. The judge may set a date to require you to come to court to testify on the record about why you no longer feel you need a PPO. PPOs are routinely granted without attorneys being involved.  Nonetheless, it is often helpful to have counsel. If a PPO is issued against you, there is limited time to fight it, and having legal counsel is even more important.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. This ¨ask the lawyer¨ format column welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to rudy.serra@sbcglobal.net. Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.

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By Rebecca Hammond

BACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: This was the first banner year for hummingbirds in all my decades in Ferndale, especially last month. We had evenings of backups and battles, all punctuated by the tiny combination chirp/squeak that, once you recognize it, will alert you to hummers nearby. They are so small, so fast, it’s easy to miss them or think you glimpsed an insect.

But for the first time, I also had ant problems in feeders, keeping the birds away on occasion. Online solutions include Vaseline on the feeder’s hanger. While this halts the ants, birds can’t get it off their feathers. I found directions for an ant moat – nothing more than a container of water suspended above the feeder that ants can’t cross. Mine consists of the cap to the mint ant spray with which we have such success at our cab-in, a piece of coated wire, JB Weld to hold the wire in place, and a wad of foil inside that inner cap, to hold it all level. I melted the hole for the wire with a nail, bent crooks to keep the cap from sliding down it, and JB Weld-ed it. Online sources say caulk will work, but it did not for me. Wild Birds Unlimited in Royal Oak sells ant moats, if you prefer to buy. It works perfectly. I’m still seeing hummingbirds, and monarchs, as of September 26.

This was a bad year for monarchs here in SE Michigan, a winter storm having killed millions in Mexico, but by the end of August I was seeing them daily. I gathered and raised or gave away about 15 eggs, set-ting free three female monarchs from my yard. If you ever try this, you may be struck by how differently each caterpillar and butterfly behave. They are true individuals. Some are set free and cling to a leaf somewhere, seeming afraid to move, others zoom right off over the house, dodging bluejays like pros, in their first flight. The caterpillars can take greatly varying times to even choose a site to pupate. This was worrisome at first, interesting now. They know what to do.

The three best yard flowers for monarchs are common milkweed, purple coneflower (Ferndale’s official city flower), and goldenrod. All are natives, and hence just about un-killable. All will be visited by numerous other interesting guests, including chickadees, goldfinches, juncos (when cold weather is about to hit), and bees and butterflies.

FERNDALE BIKE NEWS: Not only do we have bike re-pair stands in three Ferndale locations (look for bright green, shiny stands with built-in pumps, and dangling tools), but also a new sign-led effort to keep cyclists walking on sidewalks, and avoiding collisions with pedestrians. The new signs for “Walk Your Wheels” show a walker and biker high-fiving, which I mistakenly saw at first as them fighting. Maybe the new program can help us avoid that! We’ve seen these repair stands on rail trails in the area, but our local ones have a big ad-vantage: you can take a bike right to them. Maybe you want to change out pedals and don’t own that wrench. Maybe you have one of those small pumps that are easy to carry, hard to inflate a tire with. You probably don’t live far from a repair stand. There is one at Wood-ward Heights and Wolcott, one near Nine Mile on Planavon, and one on the east side of Geary Park, along Pinecrest. Two great rail trails in the general area you may not know about: the Wadhams to Avoca trail, a bit west of Port Huron (terrific trestle), and the Southern Links Trailway, south of Frankenmuth, connecting Millington and Columbiaville. Maybe combine it with a trip to Frankenmuth and their Brewing Company.

PLEASANT RIDGE NEWS: Leslie Jones of the PR Environmental Committee tells me that longtime PR resident and professor of photography John Ganis will present his book, America’s Endangered Coasts: Photo-graphs from Texas to Maine on November 21, 7:00
P.M., PR Community Center, Ridge Road. Ganis’ book is a photographic journey of coastlines threatened by the rising waters in our planet’s warmer future. Colum-bia Earth Institute professor James Hansen, climatolo-gist and author of Storms of my Grandchildren, contributed an essay to Ganis’ book, and author/ activist Bill McKibben offered this comment: “The coasts we’ve always known are shifting before our eyes. John Ganis’s fine book helps us with the job of paying witness; may it spur us to the job of pre-venting further damage.” Ganis’ previous work includes “Danger Zone: Michigan’s Reichhold Chemical Plant,” exhibited at the Cranbrook Museum of Art and the book Consuming the American Landscape.

On a related note, yesterday another protest was held at the Straits of Mackinac in opposition to Line 5, the Enbridge pipeline crossing five miles of fast-moving open water, potentially disastrous should a rupture ever occur. I’ve been to a protest there myself, but decided this time to not use the substance carried by the pipeline to travel there in protest of it. Also in the news, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is fighting to keep a pipeline from be-ing constructed near their water source in North Dakota. They are receiving great amounts of on-line support. And some of our Michigan tribes have traveled to join their ongoing stand.

Yet pipelines have two ends, a corporate end, and a consumer end. Our protests tend to focus on the corporate end, ignoring ours. The Dakota pipeline, if built, would run to the Midwest. I have yet to attend an oil protest that includes the idea of environmentalists considering our own oil use, and reducing it. If we want to tackle these multiple problems, that is long overdue.

Becky Hammond heaves a sign of pleasure every time a cool fall breeze blows through, and one of dismay every time we have to re-fight old battles. She’s lived in Ferndale since 1986.

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By Jeannie Davis
The political season is in full bloom. Democrats, Republicans, and a healthy mix of hird parties are loudly spewing rants telling us what we should and should not believe. The talking heads are busy analyzing every word, gesture, and facial expression of the candidates. Every place we turn, we are bombarded with claims that this one lied, this one hates women, that one is bigoted, or whatever is the sound byte of the day. This season is particularly heated. It’s only August, and already we are weary.

We seniors are quietly watching, listening. We’ve been here before, we’ve seen world war. Close to our radios listening, waiting for any scrap of news. We watched horrified as our beloved young president was struck and died in the arms of his wife. Glued to our television sets, crying, outraged. Watched a president impeached, students gunned down by our own troops, a bomb drop which destroyed two cities, killing over 100,000 people.

However, we ourselves have survived, and are stronger for the struggle. Standing together made us strong. We differ in beliefs yet we all need each oth-er. So why waste all that energy hating a person you don’t even know? Let’s simmer down and analyze the situation before we speak. The way we are going, many of us won’t be speaking to each other by elec-tion day.
Jeannie Davis; 248-541-5888

If something happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states coupled to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What folk talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you must look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong soundness problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction switch on injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a status called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this physic is not for use in women, it is not known whether this treatment passes into breast milk.

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By Rebecca Hammond

Neighbor Kate Fox is growing a masterpiece in her backyard, with vegetables planted directly in bales of straw. She bought six bales straw from a farmer who told her they are selling briskly, this idea being the rage among city dwellers. The straw is pushed gently aside to make a basin for a soil-less mix, and into that go the plants. An ordinary kitchen thermometer is used to keep daily track of the temperature inside each bale, which rises over time to hit 120, then heads back down to 80. The conditioning process that causes this rise in temperature alternates watering with fertilizing, turning each bale into a mini-compost bin.

The bales are already slowly disintegrating, and will continue. They’ll be next year’s mulch. She found the idea online along with books on the subject, and loaded one, Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales by Craig Lehoullier, to her Nook.

The small garden looks thriving and healthy, although Kate told me that next year she’d put fewer plants in each bale. She’s growing cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, squash, peppers, onions, cilantro, and green beans in a very small space. She’s hooked up an automatic watering system as well.

Daniel and Katie Tanner replaced, with two raised beds filled with vegetables and herbs, what some of us in the ‘hood joked was “The Big Blue Litter Box” in their new front yard. Dan told me when he and Katie were house-hunting and saw some of the yards nearby (weird ones), he knew he’d found “my kind of people.” The
“litter box” was a cute, fake pond with bright blue sand instead of water, but sand which neighborhood cats didn’t recognize as decoration. The bright sun in the Tanners’ front yard has produced a fast-growing gar-den. Katie thought this was a great opportunity to show their two young children the growing process, while
“making the most of the space.”

In Seattle, where the Tanners lived until recently, this approach to yard space is common, she said. Dan built the frames for the raised beds, the kids’ grandmother helped them plant, and the family guinea pigs are enjoying the lettuce (which they know is coming when they hear the fridge open).

FERNDALE IS FULL OF MILKWEED. Has it always een here? I now look for it almost obsessively, everywhere, so I’m not sure.  Now, if we were only seeing monarchs! We took a new hike a month or so ago, the Lost Twin Lakes Pathway deep in the Au Sable State Forest south of Houghton Lake, and experienced a mysterious phen-omenon: Notice one of something, then suddenly you’ll see it everywhere. In this case, Lady’s Slippers. We saw one hiding in the forest’s understory, and suddenly saw perhaps hundreds. Once we were off the main loop and re-traveling the spur to the parking lot, we realized we’d blindly walked past dozens there alone.

The first time this happened to me was on a nature hike in Mentor, Ohio, part of the Great Lakes convention was held in Cleveland that year. The guide told us that we, being surrounded by swamp milkweed, were also surrounded by monarch caterpillars – big ones –and that once we saw one, we’d see many. They were everywhere, but effectively invisible until one popped into one’s vision. (By the way, out-of-staters on that hike insisted on rhyming Mentor with “centaur,” but this is Ohio, where Rio Grande is “rye-o grande,” and Bellefontaine is “bellfountain.” It’s “Menner.” Toss a hint of T in there if you’re a purist, but don’t let Ohioans hear too much of it.) There seems to be an important life lesson in this being-blind-till-we-see phenomenon, but I have yet to put it into words.

Any daily perusal of Facebook will surely bring you some stress remedies, our culture seeming to loath stress as much as we brag about it. In speaking with people who’ve Gone Weird instead of toeing the Normal Line, I notice that while many may initially choose to use a retro rotary mower or clothesline for green reasons, most continue for meditative reasons. It is surely wiser and more time-effective to use whatever meditative opportunities arise through the ordinary course of the day than to cram in modern solutions to longstanding human problems, and then also cram in yoga and meditation on top of them. Hanging out clothes is pretty darned good meditation, and not bad exercise, either.

Convenience may have caused more stress-requiring-antidotes than is apparent, and advertising is powerful. Who hasn’t had hammered away at them the message that dryers and dishwashers are time-savers, for example? I remember the first time we lived somewhere that had a dishwasher and being disappointed, even dismayed, that it obviously saved little time. Eventually, we obeyed subliminal orders and agreed the dishwasher was convenient, dang it. Then again, noticed otherwise.

But here’s another thought: Most of us are also looking for meaning, as well as convenience/stress antidotes. Hanging clothes is both. Tossing clothing in the dryer is merely one more task to get over and done with; all meaning has been stripped from it. But hanging them, you have mindfulness of avoiding the CO2 footprint of the dryer, smelling clothes as you take them down, watching birds, the sunset, talking to neighbors. Maybe we’re spend-ing time replacing what ordinary life used to just dole out. Odd to also observe that what used to be ordinary is now, well, weird.

Keep Ferndale weird. We’re surrounded by ordinary, and that’s fine, but our fabulous, fashionable weirdness is a magnet, and we should revel in it.

Rebecca Hammond  accidentally kicked a baby robin that was hiding the in semi-darkness on her porch, not harming it, but sending it into a shrieking tailspin, and was then further horrified by its mother’s ear-splitting attack. She didn’t mean it, Mama.

 

 

If some happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a cure. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states connected to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong soundness problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction turn on injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a status called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual malfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this curing passes into breast milk.

By Judy Serra

Q: CAN I WRITE A VALID WILL in Michigan without hiring a lawyer?
Answer: Yes. Michigan and some other states recognize a “holographic” will. A will that is in your own writing, signed by you and dated by you, is your holographic will.

Under Michigan law, a will has to be written. The law does not allow verbal wills. The person making a will is called the “testator” if male, and the “testatrix” if female. I use “testator” to include both. Under law, a will has to be signed by the testator and at least two wit-nesses, as well as being dated. If you want to look-up the statute, it is MCL 700.2502. Under this law, there is an exception to the require-ment of two witnesses. If a will is in the testator’s hand writing, and is signed by the testator and dated, it is valid as a holographic will. When “forms” are used, these are also ac-ceptable as long as “the material portions” are in the testator’s hand-writing. The material portions of a will are the parts that say who gets what. Pre-printed parts of the form are acceptable for proving that the document was intended to be a will.

This means that it would be possi-ble under Michigan law to use a form from the Internet or to write a will in your own handwriting. The format used does not invalidate the document. Forms can be helpful, but forms are generally used to make sure the drafter does not forget something or make a mistake. This is a signal that it is possible to make such a mistake.

A common error in drafting wills is vagueness. Often people think they are being clear, but lots of confusion can arise after death. A reference to “children,” for example, could create a dispute about whether step-children or non-officially adopted persons qualify as children. Lawyers usually identify real estate with a legal description. Otherwise, refer-ences to “my home” can create con-fusion if a person moves or owns more than one piece of real estate. It is important to know that you can-not always easily “disinherit” a person who might have inheritance rights. These are all circumstances where it may be beneficial to hire a lawyer.  People often draft a will assuming that their present circumstances will not change. A drafter should consider options. If one beneficiary dies, the will should say what happens to their inheritance. Events like family deaths, moving, children reaching adulthood, and so on, are among the many things to consider and include.

If some happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states coupled to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most vital aspect you must look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction turn on injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual malfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk.

By Rebecca Hammond

DO YOU WATCH THE TV SERIES, PORTLANDIA? Ferndale is weird in some of the ways that Portland, Oregon is weird. Good weird. Fernlandia has become so dear to us, the five or six years Phil and I intended to live here have stretched to 30 (so far). This weirdness is some of the glue that holds us here, it and a neighborhood that is old-fashioned in its friendliness, with much calling back-and-forth and wandering about. Our town and its ‘hoods are a splendid combination of old and new, traditional but forward-thinking. It doesn’t take deep perusal to notice.

One obvious way is our yards. A couple of years ago I bicycled around this quadrant of Ferndale counting Fernlandia yards. If memory serves, there were then about 18 yards with no visible grass. All had been replaced with ornamentals, natives, vegetables. About 66 had gotten rid of half or more, and maybe 87 had replaced so much grass with other plants they went far beyond a lawn bordered by shrubs or flower beds. This trend has grown, especially on devil’s strips, where our sandy “soil” isn’t just inhospitable to grass, it seems actively opposed to it. Now, though, the Fernlandia approach is countered by more pesticide warning signs every year. Two philosophies on yards, two approaches to gardening.

Well, what’s wrong with pesticides, anyway? No matter which route we take, the point is to surround ourselves with property that pleases our aesthetics. If you want green, velvety turf, you must have to use chemicals, right?

No, not really. Remember TV gardener Jerry Baker? When we moved to Michigan from Germany in the mid-80s, television was a culture shock, and I remember three reasons: Oprah, Miami Vice, and Jerry Baker. Oprah and Miami Vice were the talk of mass media then, unavailable to those of us limited to the Armed Forces Network, as it ran six months behind. But we had heard of both. Jerry Baker, ex-Detroit cop turned garden maverick, was a new name.

Baker’s MO is producing a healthy yard and garden using nothing but grocery-store ingredients. His idea that a healthy lawn can stand up to pests is echoed by Bayer on its lawn-care site, which states that even nine grubs per square foot won’t damage healthy grass. Baker, now retired to Florida, recommends cocktails of odd ingredients like beer, ammonia (basically nitrogen), and liquid dish soap in a hose-end sprayer, powerful enough to need application only once every two weeks. The nicest lawn I ever saw was a Baker lawn, right here in Ferndale. Very Fernlandia.  Jerrybaker.com. Newcomer Tina Towell told me, when I noticed her husband Dick using a reel mower, “We were mow-ing about two acres at our previous home, so a city lot is a breeze by comparison. It doesn’t warrant the existence of yet another noisy, polluting gasoline engine. Our simple push mower not only gets the job done in short order, it also provides a bit of low impact exercise and a surprising sense of accomp-lishment. There is, as well, something very neighborly about it.

“Purveyors of elaborate, chemical-based turf regimens vie for our attention each spring to no avail. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s good enough. ‘Lawn order’ needn’t rule our lives.”

On June 7, 2014, the Washington Post ran an article in their Health & Science section called What To Know Before You Spray Your Lawn With Pesticides. What Philip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine states may surprise you. Kids play in the grass, put fingers in mouths, and face high levels of exposure simply by that and being smaller. Growing faster, “they take into their bodies more of the pesticides that are in the food, water, and air.” And because of that growth, “These delicate developmental processes are easily disrupted by very small doses of toxic chemicals that would be virtually harmless for adults.”

In the same article, Gary Ginsburg of the Univer-sity of Connecticut points out that there is no scientific standard for the length of time we’re warned to stay off a sprayed lawn. Herbicides can still be detected in the urine of pets 48 hours after spraying. Ginsburg recommends staying off a treated area for at least two days, three being better. The chemicals are also tracked indoors, or blow in windows, and can be found on inside surfaces a week after spraying. They’re are also re-wetted by dew or rain, and it’s not even certain that they’re safer when dry.

Leslie Jones of the Pleasant Ridge Environmental Committee told me, “I think that many people, over time, have been sold on the idea of having perfect lawns at the expense of health, their own as well as the health of the whole ecosystem. I think it takes a very long time for these kind of ideas to sink in. We spend tons of money to keep our lawns perfect and our gardens free of weeds in the easiest way possible, by spraying or dousing everything with pesticides and weed killers. Better living through chemistry! That was an actual chemical industry slogan at one time. We shouldn’t tolerate a polluted, toxic environment whether it comes from carbon pollution, pesticides or industrial and chemical pollution. It’s bad for our health but also the health of our fellow earthly inhabitants. Humans need to respect and honor all life whether plant or animal. We are all connected and need to see and understand that connection on which all life is based.”

LuAnn Linker of Wild Birds Unlimited in Royal Oak said, “Remember, any chemicals that are poisonous to weeds and insects are just as poisonous to birds, pets and children. Opt for environmentally friendly lawn care products.” Fernlandia. We’re the Ann Arbor of Metro Detroit, the Lakewood of SE Michigan, the Portland of the Midwest. Keep Ferndale Weird. Becky Hammond is listening to wrens, orioles, and baby chickadees as she types this.

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By: Rudy Serra

Q: MY EMPLOYER WITHHELD MONEY from my pay for damage to a company vehicle. I sued in Small Claims Court, but the judge wouldn’t listen to me. Can you help me? How do I appeal?

A: The short answer is that you probably cannot appeal. It is probably too late for a lawyer to help you in district court. You may want to contact the Michigan Employment Security Commission.

The rules that govern small claims court say that: “A judgment of the small claims division may be modified or vacated in the same manner as judgments in other civil actions, except that an appeal may not be taken.”

In most cases, you could appeal to the circuit court, but not in small claims. The exact application of this rule varies slightly from place to place. In the state’s largest court (the 36th District Court in Detroit) and in other districts, the judges employ one or more magistrates. I explained the difference between a judge and magistrate at state and federal levels in an earlier column.

Courts with magistrates often assign a hearing on small claim matters to a magistrate. In such cases, there is often a local rule under which the decision of the magistrate can be appealed to the district judge. Aside from that situation, the judgment of the court in a small claims case cannot be appealed.

The rule does allow a small claim decision to be “vacated” or “modified.” If you have new evidence, such as receipts that contradict your former employer or photographs that show there was no damage, you may be able to get the judge to reconsider.

This is difficult because there is a separate rule for “reconsideration” of a decision on a motion, and it requires that you make a request within seven days. Technically, it should not apply in small claims, but it is a good reason to make any request to modify the decision quickly.

Regarding the help of a lawyer, you are probably going to be on your own. The rules do not allow attorneys to represent clients in small claim cases. The judge is supposed to be informal, to enable a non-lawyer to get the help they need. If you want a lawyer, all you have to do is hire one who is willing to help, and then tell the judge you want to “remove” your case from the Small Claim Division and have it filed in regular District Court.

Unfortunately, you cannot wait until your small claim is decided, and then remove it. You are not entitled to an appointed lawyer. You have to hire your own. If you consult with a lawyer, they will probably tell you it is too late for them to do much to help you. You should have requested “removal” at your hearing.

You may want to consider filing a complaint against your former boss with the Michigan Employment Security Division. They are an administrative agency and not a court. They might be able to help you. If you signed an agreement to any responsible for the kind of damage you caused, you may be stuck. Even if you did, the MESC could decide that the agreement is illegal. It may be worth the inquiry.

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