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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

W is for Water – and Dr. Betsy

Betsy on her 50th birthday

W 1s for Water, and for Dr. Betsy our fourth child, second daughter, and Queen of Water. That actually isn’t her title, which I don’t remember, but she has been working for the Mass Water Resources  Authority for a number of years, as the scientist on the staff, although she also has administrative duties.  Why is it we parents never understand our children’s jobs anymore?

Anyway just in time for her 50th birthday celebration, she has been given a promotion and will now not only be responsible for clean water quality in Boston and environs, she will be responsible for waste water. In and out, you might say. Congratulations, Betsy.

After reading Who Really Killed Cock Robin by Jean Craighead George when she was in 6th grade she decided she would be an environmentalist. Certainly there is nothing more basic to our environmental health than clean water.  I don’t know when she really became interested in water, but when she was in the Peace Corps in Kenya (1987-1989) she was given the job of helping a mountain village get water into the village. Up to that time women had to collect and carry water from a mile away. At her birthday party her sister asked how she knew how to do things like lay a gravity feed water line and build a huge water tank. She said, “I read a book.”  Music to a librarian mother’s ears.

When she returned to the United States, she went back to Clark University where she earned her PhD in Microbiology. Her dissertation was titled  Microbiological Pretreatment of Industrial Wastewater. One of the other mothers at the graduation ceremony said Betsy’s dissertation was the only one with a title that she could understand. I understood generally, not specifically. I kept asking what she had the microbes do? She said she trained the microbes to eat the hazardous waste in the water. Do I understand how you train a microbe? No. Surely there are no whips and chairs that small.

She then served as a Congressional Fellow for Representative Edward Markey (now trying for Senator) but eventually found her way to the MWRA and I think even Sheryl Sandberg would agree she is leaning in.

All the other women in the family

Of course, Betsy is not the only skilled, talented, energetic, forward thinking woman in the family. We all gathered to help celebrate Betsy’s birthday. We drank a lot of water. Other stuff, too.

To see what else begins w ith W click here.

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