Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Velvet Paisley Masks and Menopause

Our masters swim coach optimistically arranged for a special Pilates class for swimmers beginning the first week of January and ending mid-February. Despite the omicron variant's blaze through Colorado (and our classmates), we've managed to hold two classes thus far. On the way to class last Wednesday, I reached into the glove box of my car, where I keep my special, grippy Pilates socks. As I pulled them out, a lone velvet face mask tumbled out with them. Made from heavy fabric, its purple paisley print cheered me at the time I bought it, when masks were a novelty and we were determined to make fashion statements of them. Everyone's mom and aunt were making masks, and a determinedly positive cottage industry was born.

Now we know that cloth masks don't work against omicron, and are tired of wearing them even as a fashion statement.  I replaced my 2020 relic in the glove compartment and reached for my decidedly unsexy but medically superior dull gray KN 95 instead. I wore it throughout Pilates, determined both to exercise and to stay healthy through the end of swim season - now only four weeks away. Many of our swimmers have tested positive and had to miss ten days of training as we approach the championship meets, and all the coaches and athletes are heartily sick of being sick.

What a journey we've been on as a society, and as a world, since spring of 2020. We know both more and less about the virus, we've seen rules change 700 times (unscientific estimate based on a rule change once per day for the past two years). I wake up every day wondering if my dry throat and scratchy voice signify more than cheering for swimmers in the Colorado winter climate, paranoid about both getting and giving something virulent. It doesn't help that I also seem to be going through the early stages of menopause, waking up in a sweat and experiencing feverish moments throughout the day. Plus, my monthly cycle is way off, and when one of my friends asked if pregnancy was possible, I almost threw myself off the nearest bridge.

Rob suggested that I get more rest, and as I peered out of the black holes around my eyes, I told him, "I'm paranoid that I'm sick, menopausal, or pregnant nearly every minute of the day. It's not a good recipe for calm or for helpful suggestions." 

But the sun came out today, both of our college kids went back to school and in-person classes, and virus indicators are going down here in Colorado. A new normal may be hiding just around the corner of springtime and until then I'll just keep moving forward one hot flash at a time.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Edward Osborne Wilson

E. O. Wilson was a naturalist, a biologist, a "modern-day Darwin" who died late in 2021 at the age of 92. He was also my biology professor during my freshman year at Harvard. I knew enough about his curriculum vitae to be awed by him, but not enough to truly appreciate his life-long study of the natural world and his campaign to educate the rest of us on the talents and abilities of other species. Though I was mostly taught by my TAs and only saw Wilson at lectures, I have followed his work over the years and been amazed by his prolific writing.

I noticed the quote below on the Facebook page of Parents for the Planet. It's enlightening and alarming and apt for the current moment. Though this wave of the pandemic has rendered Wilson's words even more appropriate (I can never remember the precise place or hour) I'm trying to focus on the knowledge that we will ultimately get through COVID, but we can not "get through" more years of willful ignorance regarding the consequences of our actions.

"Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life." (E.O. Wilson)

We lost many wonderful individuals in 2021, not least of which was this eloquent, studious man who did his best to wake us all up to an awareness of the natural world and the dangers of our "thrashing about". Perhaps we can all wake up to the beauties and challenges in our reality and appreciate "the mere fact of our existence" on this beautiful planet.