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Posts Tagged ‘the universe’

Growing up, my world had touches of elegance in it. My grandmother’s table was the gathering place for evening meals, and it was always set beautifully. There were forks for salad, forks for the main course, pickle forks, and dessert forks. We had knives for cutting, butter knives, serving spoons, tea spoons, and soup spoons. Depending on what was on the menu for a given day, these utensils were placed around the dinner plates in order of their use. When offered a half a grapefruit, a serrated spoon could be found sitting next to it on the plate for the purpose of helping whoever was eating it easily remove the sections. Though I did not set the table per se, largely because I could never remember what went where, I did have a hand it creating the mood. My job, was to retrieve the silver napkin rings from the top drawer of the china cabinet and secure them around the cloth napkins. Though not exactly rocket science, I was assured dinner would not be the same without this piece of the puzzle. Though she had more than enough in her world, my grandmother was not a wasteful being. Even after paper napkins became readily available in the grocery stores, my grandmother never used them until she was much older. Even then, she would keep one that wasn’t badly soiled, and reuse it, as she felt throwing them out to be wasteful.

Before having her family, my grandmother was an R.N. Well, for the sake of clarity, she was still an R.N. after having four children, just not a practicing one. When my grandfather, a urologist, first opened his practice, Gammy (as I called her) was his nurse. There were not the disposable products available now, so exam tables were draped with cloth coverings and pillows covered with fabric pillow cases, each which had to be changed between patients. My grandmother would wash the linens in the basement, and then press them crisply on the large ironing machine before returning them to be reused. Few things came in disposable cartons at the time. Milk, for example, was delivered by the milkman (there’s a piece of logic that needs no explaining) in glass bottles. When the bottles were empty, they were put back on the stoop and returned to the farm or factory to be sterilized, refilled, and reused. There were no paper towels either back then. If you needed a towel in the kitchen, you used a dish towel. For messy clean ups, a rag was retrieved from the rag bin, then washed and thrown back in the bin to be used for the next spill. Nowadays, it seems everything is disposable. The problem is where does it go, once we have disposed of it? Today I made a trip to the dump. It was unbelievable the piles of trash they were dealing with, and the plastic!

I was thinking the other day, as a kid I was never handed a bottle of water. If I was thirsty, I walked over to the sink, turned on the faucet, and filled my glass. When playing outside, I turned on the spigot and ducked my head under the tap or grabbed the hose to quench my thirst. There wasn’t the endless amount of trash and debris spilling into our landfills and oceans all these “conveniences” have created. The companies pushing bottled water will tell you their water is drawn from some pristine Himalayan spring kissed by angels, and tiptoed across by the glistening toes of spirited water nymphs. Truth is, it is water. Yup, and they are not trying to hide that fact. If you look on the bottle that is what they call it and that, as they say, is what it is. Like most things in our life if packaged prettily it has more curb appeal. I liken it to going by a property on the market advertising an open house. You arrive at the address, only to find the front yard littered with trash, raccoons scurrying about on the roof and blinds hanging in shreds in the windows. Would you stop to take the tour? My guess would be no. I know I wouldn’t. Manufacturers sell everything with beauty or slick packaging. Gorgeous women are pictured leaning seductively on expensive sports cars, good looking men are featured trimming hedges in commercials peddling power tools. If a bottled water company tried to sell you water and said it was, well, water, why would you pay for it when it freely flows in your kitchen sink? Advertising. Executives are paid high salaries to research a potential client’s customer base and come up with ad campaigns designed to hit their demographic market. We are tracked, examined, and dissected like flies pinned to an entomologist’s board. What programs we tune in to every week, what kind of cars people our age prefer, are red trucks more popular than blue? So many questions and so many firms lined up to provide the answers and the demographics for whatever product a manufacturer is currently pushing on an unsuspecting public.

Ads when I was a kid showed camels puffing on non-filtered cigarettes, and happy people downing cool beers at the beach. These promotions, no longer appropriate for obvious health reasons, have been banned. Instead, we’re bombarded with endless commercials touting the latest hemorrhoid cream or whatever prescription medication is currently hot on the market. What’s unnerving about these blurbs, is after they sing the praises of how this pill eases back pain, or that pill cures shingles, then they start with the side effects. Good Lord. Makes you wonder if the cure isn’t often worse than the disease. In Rick’s case, he took thirteen pills a day. Several were to treat heart related issues. The pills he took for his heart, eventually affected his kidneys and they too began to go downhill.

Wouldn’t it be great if they put all that energy into working to stop or at least slow down the progress of this climate change? There’s no denying it anymore, our oceans are warming and the earth become hotter. This year here in the U.S. they are expecting 17-20 hurricanes. These massive storms are coming earlier in the season, and there are more of them than there used to be. While other parts of the country are struggling with the impact of these mighty winds, enduring flooding, and property loss, those of us living in the western part of the country are dipping into the extreme drought territory and preparing for a much more aggressive fire season. For me it is very scary. I am glad every day I sold my house up in the tall trees and moved down to the valley. Not that it is safe anywhere with our vegetation so dry and our reservoirs so low, it’s just a matter of the degree of threat. Mother Nature is serving us with notice that if we don’t change our ways she will exact consequences.

I try to leave the lightest footprint possible, but certainly don’t always succeed. When I cook I try to use whatever is leftover, if anything, so it doesn’t just get thrown out. I either freeze it and reintroduce it, or simply recreate it as something else. I have found leftover meatloaf can be used in spaghetti sauce, and chicken can be recycled in a myriad of ways. Uneaten ribs can be tossed in a pot of beans or thrown into a hearty soup. When I leave a bottle of water in the car, I save it and pour it on my plants. I wash my clothes and dishes when the tubs are full, and keep my air conditioning at a comfortable level but not icy cold. Also, with the current drought in California I purchased more water resilient plants like succulents this year that wouldn’t require constant watering. If each of us added a few extra steps to our day or slightly adjusted our behavior, we might be able to dial back some of the damage our negligence has already created. We won’t be here to tend the earth fifty years from now, but most likely our children and theirs will. I hope there is something left to tend.

On that note, I will leave you for today to do good things. Have a great one!!

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