Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nancy Fulton's letter to the Morning Sun.

I have lived all of my adult life in Mt. Pleasant, most of those years in a Midwest “half-house” built in 1896 by John Kenney, an early developer of the South Neighborhood. Oliver and Emmeline Troutman bought the house in 1918. For some it is still “the Troutman house,” though my husband and I have lived in it longer than any other owners. When I first came to Mt. Pleasant in 1969, I enjoyed walking around this neighborhood, usually in the evening, when I could catch glimpses of the interiors of the houses that lined Washington, Main, and University. At that time many families still lived in these houses, but a shift was underway as the fast-growing university loosened its requirements that students live in dormitories. The old houses near campus became prime targets for developers who carved them up into apartments, hoping to benefit from the increasing demand for off-campus housing.

By the middle of the 1970s my husband and I found ourselves in a perpetual battle with city planning bodies, especially Zoning Board of Appeals, who somehow saw it as their duty to cater to developers. The variances and special use permits they approved led to increased density in the neighborhood, which in turn led to parking lots instead of back yards, front yards littered with trash and discarded furniture, and noisy parties. The neighborhood that had once been a logical choice for a new professor who wanted to be within walking distance of campus—my husband, for example, in 1968—lost nearly all of its appeal.

Some of us have stayed, of course, because we love our houses and streets lined with mature trees. We like being a ten-minute walk from campus, the public library, the downtown stores, Island and Millpond Parks. We’ve had good experiences with most of the university students who have lived on our block, and so we believe it is possible for households of all ages to live together peaceably in this neighborhood. Indeed, a neighborhood is healthiest when men, women, and children of every age and profession live in it. Those who reside here for a few seasons before moving on to their professional lives infuse the neighborhood with energy. And those of us who remain here year after year can be models for them of responsible civic behavior: for enjoying our music without inflicting it on our neighbors; for keeping our yards clean; for driving with care; for greeting one another with a smile or a wave, as neighborliness demands.

In the 1980s the city revised the zoning for this neighborhood, hoping to clean up the mess made by variances and loopholes. But now we seem to be losing the city’s support for preserving the integrity of this neighborhood. The planning bodies have agreed to higher density in exchange for new housing that mimics the style of the older residences. This makes no sense to me when the university is projecting a decline in enrollments in the coming decades, and numerous apartment complexes—only 60% occupied, I have been told —have risen up outside the city limits.
If Mt. Pleasant succumbs once again to permitting greater density, I can imagine the neighborhood south of High Street and north of the campus becoming a dormitory without a housemother. It will be more difficult for both year-round residents and students alike to resist a “them” and “us” mentality. We will lose more of the historic homes that remind us where we have come from, and we will lose the opportunity to enhance the education of the students who live among us.     

                                                                                        Nancy Casey Fulton

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 12th Night!

Today, the 12th night of Christmas, your true love delivered the last load of gifts. And such gifts!

You now have a total of 364 presents, including 12 partridges and pear trees, 22 turtledoves, 30 French hens, 36 collie birds, 40 gold rings worth about $48,000, 42 geese a-laying having laid 168 eggs so far, 42 swans a-swimming, 40 maids a-milking whose cows have produced 720 gallons of milk to date, 36 pipers piping up a storm, 30 drummers drumming, 22 lords a-leaping and 12 ladies dancing.

You have added 140 people to your household staff.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Sketch of the Circus

The circus is a mystery thing. A field becomes a city of gently swaying canvas envelopes. Why they visit us is a secret they will not tell, if they know. But go quickly into the magic darkness unafraid. Wish the unwishable, believe the unbelievable. Memorize the sights, the sounds, the smells—by dawn, the wispy city becomes a field again.

There were colorful posters and billboards on every flat surface available, advertising the Circus Mystique.


The black-and-white outlines were filled with red, yellow, and blue, showing each beast in highly unlikely poses—a joganot on a tightrope? A joganot was a large herbivore that ate its weight in vegetation each day. Many homes had a pet joganot instead of a kitchen disposal unit. They also pulled wagons if wearing a feed bag. The purple gross was a bird to be avoided because it had never been potty trained, and the long-billed snooze slept during the day and caught insects at night. Its wings beat so quickly that it could be heard as a whoosh above in the black sky.

This performance will include the following:

1. The Grand Entrance Parade. The Circus Mystique is proud to welcome each and every one of you.

2. Danger in the Cat Cage. In the center ring, within a cage of steel, these wild beasts perform amazing tricks such as jumping through a hoop of flame!

3. The Riding Gelatos. In ring number one, Papa Gelato oversees seven of the finest jackalopes doing superb dances, while in ring number three, Eve Gelato supervises her children riding bareback, doing flips and whirls on their jackalopes.

4. The Flying Maidens. High above you, our aerial chorus line dances and cavorts for your pleasure while dangling from ropes high above the arena.

5. Here Come the Clowns. Mayhem in the arena as our masters of fun amuse one and all.

6. Bring on the Dogs. In all three rings, watch and be amazed by their seriously silly antics.

7. The Elephant Shrews. In the center ring, these amazingly graceful animals will astound you with their dancing and high jinks!

8. The Wire of Death. In the stratosphere above the center ring, the Abasheds Quintet will defy the danger of the high wire for your approval.

9. Six Performing Joganots. These gentle giants, having astonishing dexterity, perform in the center ring.

10. Great Jumping Gerbils. In all three rings, watch these graceful beauties leap or climb through a variety of hoops,runs, and ladders.

Following the Intermission:

1. Clown Alley. Here they are again with more hilarious misadventures.

2. The Big Bang. Shot from a cannon in ring number one, watch Tony Toledo land in the net in ring number three! Do not try this at home!

3. The Supremes. This is the finest trapeze act of all time, right above your heads!

4. Rodeo. Throughout the arena, watch these trick riders try to outperform each other.

5. Ballet in the Sky. A lavish production of aerialists who defy the laws of gravity, accompanied by the world’s only performing goldfinches.

6. Menagerie Madness. You saw them in cages and dens, now see the unbelievable dexterity they have racing and prancing in all three rings. Cats! Dogs! Gerbils! Rabbits!

7. Ring Toss. In all three rings, we present the most famous jugglers of our day.

8. Scramble. Clowns, jugglers, rope skippers, chipmunks, and rabbits everywhere!

9. Mystique. The moment you’ve been waiting for. The one, the only Professor Mystique will perform magical spells and pose questions without answers in the center ring.

10. The Circus on Parade. In a fond farewell to you all, the entire cast and our beloved animals circle the arena.
Extracts from Lands of Inchoate Trilogy, 3rd Edition, by Edward J. Fisher, Xlibris 2014.
Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Xlibris.com, www.GreatImagination.com, The Bookshelf, Mt. Pleasant, Mi.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The most important piece you shall read this year!

 December 22, 2014

Arthur Demarest: On the future of the U.S., or of Western civilization in general, I tend to be quite pessimistic. Perhaps that is simply because “collapse” is what I do. As an archaeologist, I have excavated single trenches, just a few meters deep, in which you can see stratigraphic levels of several civilizations. We find layers of artifacts and evidence indicating periods of great prosperity, but always separated by levels of burned earth, ash and artifacts that reflect the epochs of social disintegration, chaos and tragedy that seem to conclude the achievements and aspirations of every society.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

December 21

  At this rolling time of the year we look forward to the beginning of winter. This year it will occur in central Michigan on December 21 at 6:11 am. This is when the Earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees points its axis directly away from the Sun. It is this tilt that causes our seasons. The sun will appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south latitude. With the Earth’s North Pole at its maximum tilt from the sun, locations north of the equator see the sun follow its lowest and shortest arc across the southern sky. For the next six months, the days again grow longer as the sun spends more time above the horizon.

  Places on or north of the Arctic Circle will be in total darkness. Those on or south of the Antarctic Circle will receive 24 hours of sunshine. The sun will appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

  December 21 is the shortest day of the year for us with about ten hours of daylight.  The earliest sunset for us was on December 7. The perihelion (closest point to the sun in our elliptical orbit) occurs around January 4th at about 147 million km. This is a little over 88 million miles.

  Astronomers have refined the degrees into minutes, seconds, and highly accurate decimal places. Because the Earth wobbles slightly on its axis, due to problems of indigestion (that magma rumbling around is a pain), the times and degrees change from year to year.

  In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice was taken seriously by the ancients, leading to a number of festivals to coax the gods into bringing back the sun and warmth. The Saturnalia was a major event for the Romans, with lots of drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, and feasts. It lasted from three to seven days depending on the whims of the Emperor and economic conditions. Saturn was the creator of man in the Golden Age, where there was no winter. He was ousted by his son, Jupiter and life went downhill from there.

  Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the unconquered Sun”. In what is now Iran, the Zoroastrians worshipped Mithras, who was created by the chief god, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. This festival was celebrated in his honor by Roman soldiers who occupied the land. In 274 CE the Roman emperor, Aurelian, made it an official cult holiday alongside the many other Roman holidays.

  Brumalia was a Greek winter holiday associated with Dionysus and wine. By the time of this winter holiday the wine was ready to be poured into jars for drinking.  Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is from the Latin for Winter Solstice. (N.S. Gill, www.About.com .)

  For one and all, enjoy the Winter Solstice!