Tag Archives: environmental degradation

Are you hopeful?

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

My doctor asked me this just a moment ago. “Are you hopeful about life?”

I had to pause before I replied. Hopeful? Not really. I mean, who could be, with half of Pakistan flooded, other countries suffering under water and fire and drought and general environmental destruction? Others under war or the threat of same, famine, disease? People wielding guns everywhere as if that was a normal way to behave? Men being absolutely intolerable to women? (I know, not ALL men)(not all people or countries, either, but you take my point, and I could argue that every country is suffering from environmental damage…)

And don’t get me started on the downfall of the United States, a once remarkable country, slipping into hatred, violence and fascism with barely a care as long as the stock market is strong…

It’s hard to think hopeful thoughts at times like these, even as Covid is stepping back into the forefront, polio is giggling in the wings, and we are all bracing for the next unfamiliar virus caused by living too close to too many diseased animals.

A few years ago my family and I bonded completely on the Despair.com images – the combination of beautiful photography (as one could see on motivational posters everywhere) and a snarky message was irresistible. But then they seemed too close to truth, too true to be a joke. I recently returned to the site and found myself laughing again, but then I don’t want to think that way.


It’s just too easy to be sarcastic, angry, depressed. Everyone seems to be doing it these days, too, road raging over nothing, yelling at politicians, throwing hate on anyone that seems to have created a bit of shadow on one’s day. I suspect the pandemic did two things that we will have to recover from: first, we got stressed to the maximum, with no way to work it off, and second, we were left to our own devices too long and have forgotten how to be human. A good human, I mean. The human showing our good sides, the kind side, the side that wants to get along with and help others and our planet. Not the human showing our bad sides, our aggressive natures, our general willingness to believe ridiculous things, our lack of intelligence.

So how to force enough hope to make it worthwhile to get up and face the day? It isn’t easy – especially for we aging sorts who see our abilities shrink with each passing week.

But then, we tap in. We volunteer to help someone, or learn something new and exciting, or catch the view of the clouds massing on an end-of-summer day. And suddenly, from some dark corner, a little cricket song of joy seeps out. It is sustaining.

From “The Cricket in Times Square”, illustration by Garth Williams https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cricket_in_Times_Square

And then of course the best things happen, like the DOJ gets more stuff on the former president that makes it sound like he might just be sent to jail, or some action by civilized people results in more provisions for the poorest among us or a restoration of faith in democracy, and the song gets stronger.

Maybe can turn this sinking ship around, get it to safe harbour before iceberg season. We only have ourselves to blame for the situation we’re in; we know we have the ability to fix it.

Yes, I have hope. I can hear myself arguing that I’m deluded, but I’m still clinging to the lifeboat.

O how I hate the rich…

I shoulda been a card-carrying socialist.
I’m sitting waiting to buy my wee Honda Fit, surrounded by huge behemoth cars for people with more money than understanding of the environment, listening to people whine about how they wished they’d bought the BMW equivalent, and silently fuming.
Here we sit, in a country where the divisions between rich and poor are sharper than ever before, where despite our vaunted social safety net, governments still rip off the poor to pay the rich, spend millions on advertising about the oil sands, and let people lie in the streets…
I don’t know.
Sometimes my intolerance for the rich is almost a taste in my mouth, of overpriced coffee, or extravagant truffles. It’s not envy. I have more than enough money for my needs, and wouldn’t know what to do with more, except maybe pay off my kid’s student loans and let them start life in encumbered by anything other than their intellects. I donate as I can, I advocate as possible, I write and argue for others. But it’s not enough. Not when there are people who expect others to serve them.
I remember taking a wealthy friend of mine to Starbucks for her “required” coffee fix. She blasted an order to the new immigrant coffee barista that he didn’t quite get. He missed one point, and she tore strips off him right left and centre. I was appalled at the entitlement of it all, the feeling that she deserved exceptional service, and her intolerance for any error in that, no matter how small.
Where does that come from, this entitled feeling? My niece, raised in substantial wealth, doesn’t seem to show it, and of that I am irrationally proud. Irrationally as it is her parents who have raised her right, but I stand in reflected glow. My kids seem to be socialist- prone as I am, and quite willing to overthrow, which also makes me both irrationally proud and sad that we’ve created a world where they must live with such anger. And a bit afraid.
Sorry, I’m moralizing. Shouldn’t do that. It was the BMW couple who started me off…I find myself wishing for the old days of noblesse oblige, if we must have stratification.
So, tip for today, don’t act entitled. Smile, be friendly, and appreciate, and you may be surprised at the good service and kindness you receive. And while you are planning your festive occasion, plan to share it with someone else. Someone who needs it and who doesn’t feel they deserve it.

The difficulties of murder in the garbage correctness age

Angela Lansbury checking the garbage sorting area of the garage

A few years back, I remember reading a story about a woman who was found, cut into bits, in dumpsters all over the city.  The newspaper added, “Police state that the death….was suspicious…”

I couldn’t help myself from visualizing some guilt inducing mother somewhere dragging herself along the byways of the city, hollering, “Never come visit your mother, do you?  Why I may as well cut off my own leg as talk to you..” and then doing so, jettisoning it into the dumpster and hopping along, still shouting, “I’ve had a really bad day, I have, and no concern from you. I gave my right arm to have you, don’t you know?”, cutting that off, hopping to the next.  You get the picture.

Okay, maybe not everyone finds that image funny, but my mum was of the “you have a headache?  I have a brain tumor” type, and I could see her passionately chopping herself up all while asking where she went wrong just to create that infinite guilt that all we Catholic-raised, mother-intimidated wallow in.

I write murder mysteries now, thanks to the same mum, who introduced me to the guilty pleasures of Nero Wolfe and Earle Stanley Gardner.  But it’s tougher now. I’ve just moved to Nova Scotia and regularly stand, small sac of garbage in hand (no bodies), perplexed, at the infinite garbage/recyclable/compostable/chewable/reusable  discard choices.  I avoid going to fast food places because, quite frankly, I’m not sure if their leftover food is compostable, and I’m deathly afraid of throwing away some form of plastic that could, somewhere, be recycled into plastic mats that can’t be recycled.

So the question arises, where would one put a body?

I mean, assuming you have one, hanging around, that you don’t particularly want found.

If you throw it in the garbage, you are not only a murderer of people, you are killing the environment.  I’m not sure which would be viewed with more disdain.

You could throw it in recyclables, but only if you, or the victim, believed in reincarnation. And would you enclose it in a specially formatted clear bag, which here in NS are the only kind the recyclers will take to the recycle depot?  The rest they just throw in the garbage anyway, leaving you in the earlier situation. (I don’t know if anyone has considered the net environmental effect of all those newly created plastic bags, but someone, in their great wisdom thinks it is all good.) But the bags aren’t very sturdy, so you’d have the problem of dragging the body in the bag and putting it in the right container – as it isn’t glass, or cans, or plastic (unless you killed someone from Hollywood, say), you’d be a pretty long time gazing at the box trying to figure out where to put the body. Which could lead to capture, and the early end to your potentially remunerative life of crime.

Okay, then, what about compostables? In the old green bin. Probably okay, as long as the body didn’t have any replaced parts. In big capital letters over our green bin at my apartment it says, “NEVER throw plastic in the green bin!” I’m not actually sure what disaster occurs if you are foolish enough to put plastic in a green bin, but suffice to say it probably kills the environment. Kill a granny and you risk environmental opprobrium because of that replaced hip. And what about all the mercury in dental fillings? If you poisoned your victim, you run the risk of damaging the entire municipal composting program. Run off and all that. If you shoot them – well, unless the bullet made it all the way through, you’ve got metal contamination. Would you have to take out all the pins for broken bones? You’d have to X-ray them somehow to check for all this, again, risking capture unless you are clever enough to be a radiologist or something and can sneak bodies into the hospital at off hours to X-ray them.  Of course, now there ARE no off hours, with patients dragging themselves in at 3 AM for a hip X-ray, so while you would likely not be noticed, you’d also be fighting for time slots.

Oh the heck with it. Maybe it’s better just to throw them in the dumpster after all. It’s just too complicated.