Thirty-seventh Entry


graffiti on boarded up store in Soho New York


 Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Local boatyards and marinas are opening – “with social distance.” 

This morning, a news commentator mentioned a TV show, a series that “everyone” is watching. I did not get the name, but it was not something I was watching. That kind of comment bugs me. It’s one thing to refer to a very popular movie or current cultural icon, but it’s another to say that “everyone” has seen it. Aren’t broadcasters supposed to be careful with their language, not chummy, like right-wing AM radio hosts? “How much free time everyone has these days” is another phrase I hear a lot. Perhaps generally true, but far from universal. Medical people, teachers, grocers, and morticians (at least in New York) have had very little free time.  

This mild aggravation with the media reminded me of a story I heard on the radio a few weeks ago about a couple in the Midwest who were struggling to make ends meet. With emotion they stated that they were “even cooking the tops of their carrots.” That tale has popped up in my mind a few times since. How, as a nation, did we get to a place where cooking carrot tops, or needing to cook carrot tops, could become national news or a sign of hardship. Good thing the couple knew how to use the tops. Most Americans do not even get tops on their carrots, and when they do, the tops are likely thrown away, not even composted.   

I do not throw away my carrot tops, but then I have trouble throwing most things away. I boil the tops, “with just about all the vegetable matter that falls to the side of my cutting board. The resulting stock is simple, delicious, and useful for cooking rice or beans. Wasting most anything does not feel comfortable for me. I do not know where I learned to think that way. Definitely not from my parents, and not from my formal schooling. This habit may have come from teachers with whom I became friendly in my privileged private jr. high school.

In those days, the late 60s / early 70s, an influential book (that not “everyone” read) was Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life. My education on alternative ways of living was informed, in part, by visits to the rustic homes of my teachers. During those visits, I worked in their gardens, helped to re-roof a house, and attempted very basic carpentry—all new to me.  

Maybe my views about waste were formed then. Or maybe manual work, close to the land, resonated with my inherent distaste for waste. 

What will be possible with student-teacher relationships in the months and years ahead? I imagine that a lot of advancement on this planet has come from grounded and caring teachers and the direct connections they build with their students. It might take at least several generations of evolution for our species to be able to provide a rounded education via distance learning.

day, the United States (quite a misnomer) passed 50,000 Covid-19 deaths. Forty states announced schools would not reopen this school year.  

I gave myself a haircut. Really, I just cut some hairs off the sides and top of my head. Not the back. Even with good scissors, this was easier said than done. I went at it in a few short rounds, as the task did not hold my attention. My skill improved slightly over two days, perhaps a total of twelve minutes. The principal difficulty was the reversal of everything in the mirror. Struggling to align my shears with what I was looking at reminded me of a non-reversing mirror that my father brought home when I was in junior high school. He had a flourish for investing in inventions and this was one of them. I am not sure any panned out.  

The non-reversing mirror magically turned your image around. The effect was as though you were looking directly at yourself, as someone else sees you. It worked, providing a peculiar and strangely unfamiliar experience. The design was not visually pleasing; too much off-white plastic with a thick ugly frame; I guess the extra space made room for invisible mirrors that made the magic happen. My mother did not think much of it either, and women were probably the primary intended customers. Decent engineering without enough design input, but it would have helped my haircutting.  

It seems we get used to how we look in reverse, just as we get used to so many things.   

If I lived in Georgia, I could have gone to a barbershop. Even as the death rate continues to rise, the governor has allowed the reopening of some businesses, including gyms, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, and barbershops.  

On Monday, restaurants in Georgia will be allowed to have “eat-in” customers. President Trump, who nearly suggested drinking a Lysol cocktail to kill the virus yesterday, is not supporting the Republican governor. He is good at surprises.