I’m sorry.  I just don’t get it.  Why would any human being purposefully not wear a mask?

Homo Sapiens have been a around for thousands of years and during that time, our species has done a good job of conqueri

ng the Earth.  We are incredibly successful.  We have moved into almost every nook and cranny of living space.  We have exploited natural resources for shelter, food, clothing and convenience.  We no longer have natural predators….almost.

The saber-tooth tiger?  History!  Bears, wolves, wild cats haven’t been threats for a few thousand years.

Yet one predator remains – and it is nasty.  Microbes have devastated Homo Sapiens throughout recorded history.  Until the discovery of penicillin, we were helpless against bacteria.  It wasn’t so very long ago – in Earth time – that the Black Death swept across the known world, wiping out entire villages and decimating cities.  People didn’t know what caused it.  The greatest doctors in Paris had only supernatural causes.  God’s judgment was the prevailing theory.  Fear resided in every home.  Epidemics like cholera killed large swaths of the population in the early years of this country’s history.  Typhoid killed Abraham Lincoln’s beloved son, Willie.  People didn’t know what caused it and they didn’t know what to do about it.  The helplessness against these constant threats have receded into the past and are forgotten.

Microbes, like viruses, are the perfect predator of our kind.  They are invisible.  They enter our bodies and set up shop in our cells.  They turn our cells into little manufacturing plants and because they exist in numbers that are too vast for us to comprehend and they replicate so quickly, they are uniquely able to mutate into other forms that can attack us in new, previously unimagined and very efficient ways.

If you were to tell the ancient (and not-so-ancient) people that in the future, people would know what caused these plagues and knew how to halt or slow its spread, they would say, “Give me some of that!”  We live in a fortunate age in the history of man and woman-kind – to have tools to protect ourselves from these invisible predators.  Yet, somehow, millions of people act as if this history never occurred – as if microbes haven’t killed us for thousands of years and don’t have the capacity to do it all over again.

These tiniest of tiny creatures float in the air, pushed out by the exhalations of their hosts.  We breathe them in and they are able to set up shop again, in us!  How do we protect ourselves from this unseen predator that wants to take over our bodies for their own purposes (leaving hundreds of thousands dying as they gasp for breath and even more struggling with the aftermath of the infection that doesn’t kill them)?

Masks.  They prevent the infected from blowing the invisible killers into the air and the uninfected from breathing in these agents of sickness and death.  Those who reject masks are acting like we don’t have thousands of years of history marked by periods of terror as sickness killed, frightened and overwhelmed us.  The ancients would be shaking their heads in utter disbelief at the madness of those who reject the mask.  Come to think of it, I’m shaking my head today in utter disbelief.

Exercise care!  Stay safe!  Protect your health and the health of those around you.


Jigsaw Puzzles – Part Deux

During the holiday season over the last three years, I have begun my own little tradition of putting together a work of great art jigsaw puzzle.  The first was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.  I did it with my daughter and her then-boyfriend and I was going to frame it when we finished and give it to him…then I lost a piece in transit!  That was a bummer, but the puzzle was loads of fun to do.  I had these insights (for me) during the puzzle construction process that I had all over again last year when I did Van Gogh’s Cafe in Arles.  (Seen here.)  And again this year while I’m working on a super hard painting by Renoir.  Like,

  1. I am so grateful for my sense of sight.  Doing a puzzle of a great master of art gets me into the fine details of what these guys were doing.  What looks on first glance like a blazing yellow awning, upon the closer examination a jigsaw puzzle requires, displays flashes of red or different shades of yellow and white.   It is a real treat for the eyes.
  2. There are times when I really, really want a piece to fit.  As hard as I will it, there’s just no fit.  And I want to jam the piece in, but know that’s silly because – it doesn’t fit.  Move on.  Find the piece that fits. You’re not going to force your desired outcome.
  3. The puzzle and I are in a mano a mano competition.  I am trying to fit the pieces together and the puzzle frustrates my efforts.  I put a piece where I know it will fit – and it doesn’t.  “You won that one, puzzle.”  Then I find the piece that fits, and popping it in place is just so satisfying.  “Gotcha!”   In the beginning, the puzzle has its greatest advantage.  No piece is fit together.  I’ve got to figure out where each of these different colored and shaped pieces go.  The process is methodical and slow.  The puzzle laughs  at me.  But ever so slowly, the pieces fall into place and the shapes make the puzzle a little easier – until, finally, I pop in the last piece.  “Good game, puzzle.”  It feels like a competition.  A friendly competition.

I am now done for the holidays.  My Renoir painting is only about 10% finished.  I have slid it onto a board and put it under my bed….until next Thanksgiving.  And then it’s you and me, puzzle.  Just you and me.