Happy Earth Day! A lot has changed in 50 years, and a lot hasn’t. I think there is a lot more awareness of what we are doing to the planet we live on. I’m hoping that the pictures taken before and during the shutdown help — the cleaner water, the clearer air. There’s been movement around the world to clean up our acts, although our current administration is intent on supporting the polluting industries and letting them push their costs back onto the public. Still, there has been progress.
There wasn’t much awareness of climate change 50 years ago. That’s changed. I for one have thought about it in terms of rising sea levels, disrupted weather patterns that bring more violent storms and droughts, and extinctions. But this virus shows how habitat loss can increase the sharing of pathogens between species.
Within our country there is increased pressure to get back to the way things were before the virus even though the virus is still here. There are plenty of indications that the protests are encouraged by people intent on disrupting the social order for their own purposes. Some states are beginning to loosen the restrictions. I suppose we can look at it as an experiment: Have a control group that remains in shutdown while a test group resumes many social activities. Then we wait and see what happens. I’m happy to be in the control group.
Andrea and I are doing all right as we wait to see what happens. We wear masks when we go out and we rarely go out. We read and Zoom and write and talk to people on the phone. And we take care of ourselves and our house. I’m certainly no Suzy Homemaker, but I’ve been taking more care of the house now that I’m home all day.
We haven’t been able to get spray cleaner since this began. A couple of days ago I made a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to wash the kitchen floor. I hadn’t scrubbed a floor on my hands and knees for quite a while. As I worked I kept thinking about when I lived in a grungy little studio apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts fifty years ago (coincidentally, the year of the first Earth Day). That apartment’s bathroom floor looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in decades, so I started scrubbing, trying to remove the embedded dirt. Before long I realized I was taking the top layer of the vinyl flooring off, exposing the porous layer beneath. Oops. So when cleaning my current floor, I was careful not to rub too hard at the few visibly dirty spots. I was really tired that evening, but I was pleased I could still wash a floor on my hands and knees even at my advanced age. And I was even more pleased the next morning that I wasn’t stiff and sore.
We also haven’t been able to get toilet paper since this began. We have been picking up our groceries in the parking lot — we shop online and they bring it all out to our car. Then when we get home we discover what we actually got. It’s a bit like Christmas — you make a list but you know you won’t get everything on the list. Well, for some reason toilet paper is (or may be) available if we shop in the store but we can’t get it through pickup. But knowing this, I ordered a bidet attachment for the toilet. The bidet finally came. It was a fairly simple installation even though it was the first time I wished for a tool I had given away when I left Wyoming nine years ago. But I had something that worked and managed OK. I’d never used a bidet before, and it takes some getting used to, but I like it. And now we don’t need someone to cut down trees just so we can wipe our butts.
I’m on my last Hamish MacBeth book. This is a series of mystery stories about a police constable in the Highlands of Scotland. M.C. Beaton wrote 36 of them, and this is the 18th I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed them but am ready to give old Hamish a rest. I’m reminded of the time I was reading all of Tony Hillerman’s stories and got to the point where I was a third of the way through one of the books and still didn’t know if I’d read it before. I’m not there yet with the MacBeth series, but it is time to move to something else. I don’t have any more here and haven’t looked on line.
We’ve got a stack of books to take back to the library when it opens, but we’ve also got a bookcase of our own books. I find I can sit reading a physical book printed on paper for longer periods than I can an ebook. My attention wanders too much when I’m staring at a screen. Perhaps it is a bit like the difference between traveling on a motorcycle and in a car — there is a barrier between you and the experience of being present.
I hope you all are able to stay safe. Send kind thoughts to our home planet.