Thursday, February 2, 2012

Illinois Supreme Court...You Disappoint Me

Oh Illinois Supreme Court, how you disappoint me.

For those of you who know me, you probably know that I'm a pretty firm believer in our judicial system and it's ability to uphold the law. That's their job, after all. Working in the legal field for the past several years has, for the most part, encouraged this faith in our legal system. Until today. The Illinois Supreme Court came down with an Opinion today that stops citizens from having a private right of action to enforce compliance with the law.

This should be pretty simple, right? The legislative branch of the government makes the laws, the executive branch enforces them, and the judicial branch interprets the law and punishes lawbreakers. In this particular case, the legislative branch did it's job and passed the laws to protect our environment. The executive branch (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) ignored the laws and issued a permit that was in clear violation of the law. When brought to the judicial system to interpret the law, the Illinois Supreme Court decided (unanimously) today that one can only enforce against non-permitted activities or violations of a permit, unless one appeals the illegal permit through the administrative review process (Which, it should be noted, the law clearly states this process cannot impair the rights of enforcement of the substantive provisions of that law). And what would you be enforcing, if not the permit? The law perhaps.

What does this mean? Basically, the government can issue illegal permits, and if you catch it in time, you can go through the administrative review process where the government decides on the issue(s) they already decided wrongly on. In this particular case, the permit in question had expired. The suit was brought strictly against current site conditions and the fact that they weren't compliant with the law.

The Opinion states, "A contrary construction of the statute would also impact legitimate reliance by a permitee, and create significant uncertainty by allowing the terms of the permit to be reopened and reconsidered at any time, even years after a reclamation project has been completed in accordance with a permit. We decline to conclude that the legislature intended such an absurd result in enacting section 8.05(a), which would not only call into question the finality of mining permit decisions throughout Illinois, but would undermine the role of IDNR in the permit process."

"The role of IDNR in issuing clearly illegal permits would be undermined- permits that violate the purpose and specific substantive provisions of that very law- no absurd result here. Citizens constitutional right to a healthful environment under the Illinois Constitution is only enforceable if it does not threaten the established interests of mining, I guess. I cannot express my profound disappointment that the Supreme Court read the purpose and provisions of the law right out of the law." Quote from Penni Livingston, lead attorney for Citizens Opposing Pollution, the Plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.

Companies, like ExxonMobil, failed to learn the lesson that most of us learn in early childhood: Clean up after yourself. And while I find it profoundly disappointing, that greed overcomes common sense and common decency, I am far more disappointed in our government: A government that creates the laws, but doesn't have the sense to enforce them, or interpret them as they plainly read and to fulfill the purpose stated.

Here that purpose is to restore the land, which has not happened. A copy of the Opinion can be found here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Most weekends in January keep me cooped up inside. Newly started classes means homework, work and class during the week means catching up on household chores, and chilly weather means lots of layers if you want to stay warm outdoors. But this past weekend I finished my homework early, spent Saturday doing laundry and dishes, and decided to have some quality sister time. Which this weekend meant sleeping over at my sisters with cake vodka and board games.

Oh, and Madlibs. If you have never played Madlibs, grab one the next time you're at the dollar store. If you think they're just for kids, think again. I have not laughed that hard in a VERY long time and it felt great.

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Year

A year ago today I was at the hospital with my family while my dad lay in the critical care unit, non-responsive with a ventilator doing his breathing for him. In a rush, we were kicked out of his room and sent to the waiting room as they called a code blue. His heart had stopped. I don't remember how long we sat there waiting, in tears, trying to hold ourselves together and tell ourselves that somehow this would all work out. When the doctor finally came to speak with us, he told us that my dad had coded twice and we needed to decide if we were going to resuscitate if his heart stopped again. I remember crying, asking if we needed to let him go. Miraculously, or at least it seemed that way at the time, his heart kept beating. Three days later they confirmed that he was brain-dead and would not be waking up. The ventilator was taken out and we said our goodbyes.

It's been a year now, without my dad. Officially I guess I have to wait three more days to say that. Today, the slightest movement sets me off, and I flash back to that day. My eyes well up, but I'm broken and I can't cry. I can't find release. I think my dad would want me to go for a long drive with the music turned up loud and just scream, let it out and just drive. This was a tradition for us. Not so much the screaming, but since the time I was very young my dad and I would go on what we called “cruises.” Just get in the car, explore the back roads, turn the radio up loud, or we would sit and talk. For hours.

I would give anything to have this tradition back in my life. To be able to talk to him, to sort out the crazy thoughts that are constantly going on inside. If I could have given anything to my father to make him come back, to make him stay in my life, to make him fight harder, I would have done it. “How hard do you want to struggle?” My mother says this was one of his favorite questions. I've watched what happens when the answer to that questions is “I don't.” He didn't want to struggle anymore. After fighting diabetes for a decade of his life, after struggling against alcoholism for over half his life, he gave up.

Now, yes, you could say that this was a freak occurrence, that he didn't know how sick he was. That he didn't know when you're sick your blood sugar sky rockets, that he didn't know his kidneys were shutting down, that he had pneumonia. You could say that you're not allowed to be mad at a person for this. You could say that. How could any of us have known? And yet here I am, I am mad. I am devastated. I am fucking inconsolable. And I'm allowed to say fucking. I am allowed to be mad.

My chest tightens when I think about those few days spent in the hospital wanting there to be something I could do, wanting to be able to wish it all away and make everything just rewind itself, back to a time when my dad was there when I called, when he was smiling and telling me that I need to just “Get 'er done.” This is the motto my dad leaves me with, to just jump in and get it done, to not get so caught up inside my head. And I am. Mostly. My heart aches, but every day I put one foot in front of the other and I move forward.

Yet here I am and I can't cry. I'm here wondering what it means to let go, what it means to say goodbye. It's not that I haven't come to terms with the fact that he's gone. He's dead. I know this. But how does one say goodbye to someone who isn't there anymore? How does one let go of all the hurt and pain without denying all the good? And maybe that's the point. You can't. The hurt makes you appreciate the joy. It reminds you how precious the goodness in our lives is: love, kindness, forgiveness; long talks with good friends, flowers for no good reason, board games at my sisters house...

Life can be short. It can be brutal. But it can also be amazing. I have an amazing family and amazing friends who are there for me when I need them, and I hope I am able to be the shoulder they need to cry on, the friend they need to talk to, the person who reminds them how truly amazing they are. That's the friend my dad was to me, and if I'm able to be that kind of friend, then I think, somehow, I'll be alright.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pastel Squid

This past weekend I spent most of my time in my craft room cleaning, organizing, and ogling my supplies. I've gotten it to a point where I can see and find what I need, and I (finally) have work space! I created an L shape with a small desk and craft table and have my laptop set up on the small desk, along with decent speakers so I can watch videos or listen to music while I work. There's a small portion of the 6ft craft table taken up by supplies, but the rest is cleared off for working.

Earlier this week I did a few drawings, and last night I decided to do a little chalk pastel painting. I might change it, add more to it, or just leave it and start working on something else. But it feels wonderful to have space again!

I'm still plugging away on my yarn bombing project for Strangefolk. I'm hoping to finish the canvas part of the project by the end of the month (or sooner!) and then start on the embroidery.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Yarn & Thoughts for the Day

About 2 ½ years ago, I bought a friend a gift certificate to one of my favorite yarn stores, Knitorious, shortly after teaching her to knit. She ended up giving up the craft and forgot about the certificate, which she uncovered a couple months ago. No longer a knitter herself, she contacted the shop and asked if it would still be honored (which is was) and then re-gifted it back to me. Sandy, the owner of Knitorious, was great about honoring the gift certificate and last weekend I went up there and picked out two gorgeous yarns, as shown on the right.

I haven't had much else going on craft-wise lately. I am still working on my yarn bombing project for Strange Folk Festival. I'm almost to 3 feet! Completely non-craft related, I thought I would share some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head this week.

Recently, someone close to me made a comment that really got me thinking. They criticized something, judged. I think we all judge others to some extent, and sometimes I think we scrutinize the people who are closest to us more than we do anyone else, including even ourselves. We have built-in expectations that the people we love will live a certain way, feel a certain way, act a certain way, and when they don’t live up to those expectations, we end up feeling disappointed in them.

But what if we got rid of our expectations? What if we instead accept people for who they are. Love them as they are, not as they might someday be. Help them when they ask for it and offer it even when they don’t. What if we don’t tell them how they should feel, how they should act, and how they should change? Most of the time we spend judging others would be much better spent if we instead focused on ourselves, the things we want to accomplish, and the person we want to be.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Finished Object Friday: Head Wrap

Left to my own devices last night, I decided to finally pick out some buttons for the head wrap piece I finished a few months back. It originally started out as a shawl, but my cat destroyed the last skein of yarn I had and since the yarn is from the 70s, I was unable to find a match for it.

Ironically, when I went to visit my grandma over Memorial Day weekend (a month or so after I'd already bound off this project) we found more of the red mohair I'd used for this. Go figure. That might explain why I've taken so long to do something as simple as sew buttons on to the project to finish it. Since it didn't work as a shawl (I was about 2/3rds of the way finish), I decided it would make a good head wrap for winter.

In the below photo on the right I back lit the piece; I think it makes the pattern really pop.

I can button it all up under my chin, or button it under my chin and behind my neck under my hair if I want. Mohair is a little scratchy for me, but overall I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

The more projects I knit, the more I learn to be happy with mistakes/mishaps and the unexpected. Something can start as one project and end up a totally different item by the time you're done with it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strange Folk Festival Yarn Bombing Project

In my previous blog post, I mentioned yarn bombing, and this project that a friend is putting together. Instead of finishing the red scarf I've been working on this month, I started on my piece for this project. My tree is "Super Grover" and my piece should be 7ft by 2-ish ft.

Below is the design I currently have which will involve knitting one giant canvas and then crocheting/knitting the bigger pieces and sewing them on. And then doing some type of embroidery I'm thinking. In the end this will be more of a yarn painting or mural than anything, but I'm OK with that as long as I can get it finished in time!