Cleaning up our act

Yesterday, having written a recap of recent family genealogy work, I had not intended to write another post this morning.  However, writing provides a catharsis. From what I’ve read in various medical sources, reading  and writing also sharpen part of the brain, or help it retain sharpness.  Working puzzles, crosswords, and games like solitaire help other parts of the brain, apparently.

Bored by much of what is on TV, David and I have been watching the old BBC Miss Marple mysteries starring Joan Hickson.  I notice Miss Marple is always knitting or reading, or playing solitaire, much like Aunt Marge and mom once did.

When Aunt Marge’s vision grew too dim (diabetes) for her to read, Cousin Peter bought her a magnification lamp and a set of large type playing cards and I began to buy her audiobooks which she passed along to her blind sister Rita.  I think these books got passed along many times after that. I believe most libraries carry audiobooks today.

Lately, I’ve been listening to audiobooks myself.  I find my eyes grow extremely dry if I stare at a printed page for very long.  My vision is pretty much okay as I have implants (cataracts removed ) but my eyes are very dry.


Today, David and I will do more yard work, emptying clay pots filled with dead flowers, and raking more leaves off our tiny lawn….these to be added to our compost bins. Earlier this week, the county swept the street clean of the leaves we and neighbors piled at the curb last weekend.

Now that it’s a bit colder, the furnace/AC guy came by a day or two ago and checked the system and replaced the calcified humidifier. Water from the limestone based Shenandoah Valley fills the Potomac river and passes through a reservoir in DC then through pipes laid down under the Potomac when Arlington was part of DC before the nineteenth century. Along the way the calcium from the limestone river bed is carried in the water, along with effluvia from dairy farms and smaller communities upriver.

In the nineteenth century, after worldwide urban cholera outbreaks, Paris and London cleaned up their water supplies. Cholera was an issue in poorer neighborhoods and military encampment in the US during and after the Civil War.

I mentioned a day or two ago I’ve ben reading Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map: The story of London’s most terrifying epidemic and how it changed Science, Cities and the Modern World. I’m especially sensitive to this topic because some of my dad’s ancestors died from a cholera outbreak in Chicago in the nineteenth century.  Clean water is so important, I think about it a lot.

Arlington cleaned up its act because the EPA cracked down on the county a few years back and forced it to change the way it handled effluent. As a result, we have a brand new state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant which releases clean water into the Potomac and positively affects people living in more rural areas downstream.

The EPA is very important.












22 thoughts on “Cleaning up our act

  1. Absolutely, the EPA is extremely important. The Flint situation is uncomfortably close to us, and it is good to see the feds finally are pouring some dollars in to help with that. Considering all the local, state, and national money needed to fix the problem, it would have been a heckuva lot smarter to have avoided it in the first place with preventive actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought of Flint immediately. How can such a thing be here in the US? It’s shameful.

    I’ve also rewatched the Miss Marple series on Acorn recently. I’ve been watching a lot of historical documentaries on Acorn and Netflix. I find I sleep well after watching them. Strange, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully, the new water/nfrastructure bill sent to the White House for signature yesterday will make a difference for Flint.

      Yes, it’s much easier to sleep after waching Marple than anyone else these days. Some of the TV programs seem to be in a race to the bottom regarding gore. No wonder we don’t become outraged when real murders occur.


  3. Water is a big issue here in SE Washington State too. Water rights especially. Not only the farms here but some homes have wells outside or in their basements. If you let your well rights lapse from non-use the State of WA takes them. A lot of the pollution here comes from the farmers. Rather high cancer rate here as well. There are several groups trying to restore the salmon runs that have managed to clean up in several places. The big stream that runs through town, many people won’t let their kids wade in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our many streams in Arlington county are mostly running through underground culverts. They all flow into the Four Mile Run stream which has an open flow. Clean water from our sewer system is runs into this stream and flows to the Potomac. However, the stream is considered unsafe because E. coli bacteria from dog waste has been detected. Therefore, the county has strict rules about how to handle dog feces. Of course some who should know better ignore these rules.

      Steven Johnson says the threats to health and welfare today result from the continued battle between science and superstition. The greatest threat to life, however, comes from nuclear weapons in the wrong hands.


  4. It took government years before they woke up and forced the Navy to clean up the bay here. Staying the course is really important right now as global warming increases. Great post thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many suffered unnecessarily because people in power can be so obtuse. We like to believe we have progressed, however cholera still stalked western countries after the 1854-55 outbreak in London.

      My paternal great grandparents died in the cholera outbreak of 1885 in Chicago when sewerage entered the drinking supply from the Chicago River.

      Today, the mega cities like Mumbai, Sao Paolo and others with large squatter populations face the same crises. And closer to home we have problems in the US, such as Flint Michigan. We cannot rest.


  5. Water continues be a significant issue and will be progressively moreso — not only quality but availability — probably hard-to-believe for some subjected to flooding. Hope in the year-to-come the EPA and Congress don’t undermine some of the high environmental standards for our air, other pollutants, we have in place in California as forces at work have been trying to do for some time. Given our State’s political leanings can imagine there are those who might be inclined to inflict punishment on us in all ways possible from higher government levels though I realize political manipulation is not new — maybe just the degree and manner might be of added concern. L

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too hope CA can hang onto its strong environmental laws. However, the external power of some large corporate forces is truly frightening.

      On the other hand, it seems strange that a conservative Republican administration would ignore letters from 350 CEOs requesting Trump “stay the course” with regard to environmental progress re climate change. I also know the US Navy is very concerned about water issues in the west.

      Flying across the US from CA in October, I was appalled by the condition of some rivers and lakes in the Midwest where one can see the corruption from 5,000 feet.


  6. I love the good British shows….Ive seen them all , but I repeat them as there’s not much on regular TV I like. I’ve heard Acorn TV offers many of these for a reasonable monthly price, like Netflix but more British. I use to read but now I find I can’t focus for long. I’ve thought of audio books, but when I listen to a podcast on the iPad, I fall asleep. Must be my older age and my sleep pattern has changed now…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the Miss Marple series with Joan Hickson. In fact, I have them on DVD, a Christmas present several years ago. Another series I just loved is Foyle’s War which is set in England during WW II.

    It’s funny you mentioned cholera because I just finished reading The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel. It is about how Dr. John Snow delineated that contaminated water was the primary cause of cholera. It is hard too fathom that only 150 years ago, we had no idea what caused disease and the predominant thought was that disease was caused by miasma/bad air.

    If you enjoy audiobooks, you might want to try The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith read by Lizette Licatte. Her voice just brings the characters and the story to life.

    Hope you get your yard work done. It is cold and wet and windy here so no yard work for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by Florence. I had the Marple and Foyle DVDs. Gave to friend. Then repurchased the Marple DVDs in Blueray. Had the Ladies Detective Agency also and gave away to library. Lots of seniors here about. Yes cold and wet is spreading, but we must empty the pot before they freeze.


    • The amazing thing about human crap in the nineteenth century is that people collected it in their basements before the government decision to dump shit in the Thames, thereby turning the metropolis’ drinking water into sewer water.

      The argument over cholera’s cause..air or reminiscent of arguments over other diseases like AIDS, and much like arguments today over issues like climate change.

      I never cease to be impressed with human stupidity.

      Liked by 1 person

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