Tracy K. Lorenz / EarthTalk


Tim’s Girlfriend

It’s weird how you get used to things, how places and landmarks others deem spectacular become ordinary after you’ve looked at those same things a billion times.

I see Lake Michigan on pretty much a daily basis, it’s not that I don’t appreciate its beauty and spectacle but, quite honestly, unless she’s looking particularly brilliant that day I just sort of take it for granted.

Or St. Francis de Sales Church, an architectural masterpiece that people come from across the country to see. But I’ve seen it, inside and out, a thousand times, so it’s become a bit mundane.

I bring this up because when I was younger there was a woman we called “Tim’s girlfriend.” She wasn’t a lake or a church, she was an older woman who walked down Sherman Boulevard every day, rain or shine. And when I say “walked down” it was more like “walked in” because she walked in the road and you had to drive around her.

Because Sherman was the main road between my house and the beach and/or McDonald’s I saw Tim’s Girlfriend a lot, saw her to the point I didn’t really think about it unless there was oncoming traffic.

If you’re not from around here or weren’t here in the 70’s, she was an older woman. It was hard to tell if she was fat or skinny because she always wore about ten layers of clothes and a winter hat. When she walked she walked at MAYBE a half-mile an hour, hunched over, plodding, and determined. Picture an old Russian woman with a big bundle of sticks on her back and you’d be in the range.

BTW, we called her “Tim’s Girlfriend” to annoy my friend Tim Bolema. We’d be out driving around, wasting our lives and disappointing Jesus, and we’d spot her and say “Look, Tim’s girlfriend.”  She was not, in fact, Tim’s actual girlfriend.

It would be years until one of those actually showed up.

Anyway, the story was, and this story went all the way back to when my mom was a kid, that “Tim’s Girlfriend” had a husband who drowned in Lake Michigan one dark and stormy night. Tim’s Girlfriend would walk to the beach every day and throw bread into the water to feed him. It may have been an urban legend but no one I knew didn’t  A) know it and B) believe it.

I had exactly one encounter with TG. One day it was POURING rain, she was walking in the road as usual so I asked her if she wanted a ride as opposed to being soaking wet and getting run over by a UPS truck. She growled at me. An actual growl.

Years later I had the opportunity to meet a relative of hers, it was a daughter or maybe a niece, and I asked her about the dead husband and the bread. She responded, “None of that happened, she’s just crazy.”

Mystery solved.

So there ya go, if you grew up in or around Norton Shores or Lakeside back in the 60’s or 70’s I can almost guarantee you know who I’m talking about. She was a landmark in her own right even if she was a landmark that moved.  I’m sure she’s since passed away but her vision and her legacy will surely stand the test of ... tim.

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From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Donald Trump and the environment

Dear EarthTalk: Why are environmentalists so scared of Donald Trump winning a second term?
 -- Jay W., Modesto, CA

When Donald Trump made good on his anti-environmental campaign promises within a year of taking office, no one was surprised. Environmental advocates had been holding out hope that he would listen to the likes of daughter Ivanka—and her climate-crusading friend Leonardo DiCaprio—and change his mind on the need to cut back environmental regulations. But cooler heads didn’t prevail, and today we’re left with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule instead of the Clean Power Plan (cuts U.S. power plant emissions by 1.5 percent instead of 32 percent), the consternation of the international community for pulling out of the Paris climate accord, and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so weakened as to be almost unrecognizable and patently ineffectual. According to Inside Climate News, these dramatic actions have taken place against the backdrop of ongoing administration efforts to promote unfettered oil, natural gas and coal extraction while undermining clean energy development and suppressing climate science.

Environmental supporters are bracing for what a second Trump term could bring. A top Trump priority in 2020 is to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a landmark environmental law enacted in 1970 that requires federal agencies to prepare environmental assessments or impact statements preceding any projects. The White House is pushing for climate change to be excluded from such analyses, and would also like to shorten and in some cases eliminate environmental reviews altogether under NEPA.

NEPA, many also worry that another four years of White House apathy on climate could condemn us all to a grim, warming-compromised future. We already lost valuable time in just three years as Trump rolled back the Obama administration’s progress on climate mitigation. But four more years of Trump would, in the words of The Atlantic’s Paul Starr, “put off a national commitment to decarbonization until at least the second half of the 2020s, while encouraging other countries to do nothing as well.”

Starr points out that further delaying our response to the climate challenge makes our eventual response more economically and politically difficult, while compounding the problem. Global Carbon Project research shows that if decarbonization had begun globally in 2000, an emissions reduction of around two percent annually would have been sufficient to stay below what experts say is the tipping point of two degrees Celsius of warming. “Now it will need to be approximately five percent a year,” he says. “And if we wait another decade, it will be about nine percent.” Whether or not our already brittle political system can bear such change when the time finally comes to make it happen is anybody’s guess.

In the short term, environmentalists are working hard to get anyone but Trump into the White House in 2020. Luckily for eco-conscious voters, just about all the Democratic contenders are in favor of strengthening climate and environmental protections. Indeed, voting against Donald Trump in 2020 might be the most important act in favor of the environment that any of us can take this year.

CONTACTS: “Trump's NEPA ambitions hinge on his reelection,”; “Donald Trump’s Record on Climate Change,”; “Trump’s Second Term,”; Global Carbon Project,

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at To donate, visit Send questions to:


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