Anxiety. A PSA.


Look. We all have anxiety, or the great majority of us do. Our society is a 24 hour society now, if you’re salaried your boss likely expects you to complete work however it must be done. If that means taking it home and working until midnight, then that’s what we are expected to do. If it means we are on call, that’s what we do. If it means we don’t take vacation because we might get overlooked for a promotion – or worse, laid off – if we do, then we work endlessly.

Some of us don’t call out even when we should, even when we’re potentially infecting others that can’t protect themselves from our illness. We can’t afford to.

We look around at our homes, which are not as clean as some of us would like, but we’re too tired in the time we have at home to do anything about it. We look at our neglected yards, and realize the same. If we even have a yard to worry about. Some of us are working 2 and 3 part time jobs and barely breaking even – because we can’t find a full time job.

We’re exhausted. We don’t exercise enough, or sometimes at all, because our jobs wear us out and we don’t get enough sleep, because we don’t exercise. It’s an endless feedback loop. Some of us awaken at night with anxiety about what the future might bring, even though we’re exhausted. We spend all too many hours on the computer – as a hiding place to avoid these issues – which causes disruptions in melantonin production and interferes with sleep. We stay up too late and we get up too early, always fatigued and wishing for just one more hour of sleep. We say yes to people when we should be saying no, because we worry about the future monetary situation if we don’t.

I’ve given all the reasons we have anxiety, but it doesn’t do any good to name the problem unless I offer solutions. So here are a few.

Turn the computer or your phone OFF. OFF. Like, totally. Set a time after which you will turn it off, unless you are on call, and realize that the world will go on without you for a time. If you give in and turn it back on, use the time it’s booting to think about whether you really want to get sucked into that morass again. If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, then don’t do it. There will always be tomorrow to get involved in that three ring circus again. Respect yourself enough now to turn it off.

Go for a walk if you can – if your neighborhood is too dangerous, then don’t do it there. Getting fresh air and being around trees and other plants is anxiety reducing. Go to a park if it’s safe, find some place you can safely enjoy a little nature. Even if that’s by walking in the landscaped area of an industrial park.

Dig a hole if you can. Then fill it back in. Or plant something, even better. Seeds are cheap and sometimes people will give them away. There are seed exchange websites and some libraries for seeds. Use your time on the computer to look for a few. Touching dirt actually causes markedly reduced stress and an increase in happiness because the natural soil bacteria and fungi secrete substances that are calming to the brain in that way. We absorb them through our skin, we breathe them in when we turn over the soil, and we help ourselves work through anxiety in this way. The physical exertion of digging a hole will use up all that excess energy that anxiety generates, giving it a physical outlet and dissipating it.

Time, there’s never enough time, right? Well there’s always time for the things we MAKE time for. Volunteer somewhere. Maybe a shelter, a nursing home, the food bank, the library, a hospital, even a church if you are so inclined, or an alternative spiritual center if you are not. Many places have a need for volunteer staff that goes chronically unfulfilled. Giving your time, even an hour a month, away to someone who needs it more than you do is anxiety reducing. Why? Because selflessness reduces anxiety. Giving of ourselves makes us happier. Human interaction – real human interaction, not FB interaction – reduces stress and increases happiness.

Read a book. No, it’s not like a kindle and it’s a little bulkier and harder to carry around, but the mind engages with an actual book in entirely different ways than it does when you are reading off a computer screen. This has been documented in studies. The physicality of an actual book can ground you and help reduce anxiety. You can rub the spine, you turn pages, the scent of the paper and the ink sometimes can be smelled. These are all physical cues that reduce anxiety. If it’s a good novel, you can be carried away to the land in the story and this prevents anxiety from even developing. When you return to the land of reality, you have a vicarious experience that you can retreat to in times of stress and use as an anchor point.

These are only a few things. Not everyone will be able to do them all, most people will be able to do one or two. Even people who are living on welfare and food stamps will be able to do at least some of these. Try one. You might find that not only have you reduced anxiety, you’ve increased happiness and created a better life for yourself.

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Some of the things I’ve been thinking about.


Being an *actual* polytheist, meaning I actually believe in the individuality and agency of the Gods, makes for interesting conversations at nearly any Pagan gathering. Given that where I live at least, those who share my religious belief (regardless of their particular practice – Wiccan, Hellenic, Druid, Heathen etc) are definitely in the minority, at least among the people who attend the same sorts of functions I do.  There may be other hard polytheists out there, but they’re not attending the meetups and public gatherings as far as I can see, not in any great numbers.

I have met up with some local heathens, and while they are very nice people, we don’t seem to have much in common with most of them.  We disagree on what constitutes racism, we disagree whether or not European cultures are worth saving, whether a girl identifying as a boy is a thing that should be encouraged, whether UPG (unverified personal gnosis aka the Gods speaking to you personally) and SPG (shared personal gnosis aka the Gods telling many people the same thing) is a relevant part of building a tradition or in deepening one’s spirituality and should be spoken of in mixed company, and more that may nor may not be actually relevant to forming a lasting religious tradition.  Something that struck me was that, while they have read the lore, and are more experienced than I in the actual lore by at least a decade, was that they seem to have picked and chosen which parts of the lore they use to support their belief (and twisting a lot out of context) while ignoring those parts that do not agree with their views.  That is my opinion based on very limited interaction so don’t take what I say as face value, it may be that further talks would reveal a different understanding.

So it was with pleasure that we met a husband and wife at our first large “interfaith” gathering this past year.  They and we had a lot in common. Because of them we (OK I, it was my decision to go and Mr. TF went along) went to the already existing local meetup.  Over time we began discussing our personal philosophy and spirituality.  We found a lot more in common with them.  One of the most important things being that at least two of us are actual hard polytheists and have had spiritual experiences that have convinced us of the reality of the Gods.

All of us have experienced the disappointment of going to ritual only to have frivolity and disrespect be a part of the ritual.  All of us, both the agnostics and the polytheists, have felt that it deters from building an actual living religion that will grow into something more, something that has an entire culture integral to it.  We all have experienced the desire to be a part of something more, something that would actually sustain a people.

It seems to us that people make the jump into Paganism as a rebellion but that’s where they stay.  They don’t grow, they don’t take to heart “know thyself,” they don’t take responsibility.  So when crisis hits, as it always will, they have no reserves, nowhere to turn, nothing to sustain them.  And for some of them crisis remains a permanent part of their existence – because they don’t understand the personal power they have to change it, don’t understand the power the Gods have to help them change it.  As at least two of the four of us are believers in the Old Gods of the North, we have a baseline that helps us understand the expectations the Gods have of us.

So we have been talking.  And we have no firm ideas but we have a starting point.  At the next large interfaith gathering, we are going to make sure the left over catered food goes to the needy.  In OUR community.  Not to the food bank or anywhere else.  And we are going to set up guidelines for this for all future gatherings.  If we’re going to talk good words about hearth culture, then we’re going to make sure our hearth is cared for.

 

 

 

New Year, Big Changes Part II


So, I lost my job.  But I didn’t lose my dream.  You see, I knew this wasn’t going to be a long term place for me unless my friend and colleague the doctor went in with some other people I know to buy the practice.

My first paycheck bounced – I had to wait until the next paycheck a month later to get what I was owed, and I still had to insist on a separate check to cover my credit union’s bounced check fee from his bad check.

Then I discovered the owner cheating us, the contracted providers, out of money two months in a row.  When I confronted him about this he denied me access to the accounting section of the electronic health record program (EHR) we use – which is technically illegal to do to a contract employee working on a percentage.  No big deal, when I told the doctor how he was being cheated he offered me his user ID and password which I did not take him up on, because the biller was happy to print out the information I needed.

The owner refused to sign a contract with me, and paid me 5% less than his original offer.  To be cheated on top of it was an insult that could not go unchallenged.  But he stopped returning calls, texts, and even coming to the office.  October 29th was the last time he returned a text message.

So why would I stay there?  Because it was my own community, it was NOT his.  My dream was to work in my community.  But working in this office was not the original dream.  My dream was to own my own practice, to go to the people without transportation, the home bound people with major health problems.  Working here was a stop gap, a way to try to save money to get to a place where, if we were the owners, me and the doc, I could incorporate it into our business; or, if we didn’t, I would start doing part time.

I had, in fact, already been doing home visits as part of my work week, and gaining business via the percentage he collected for the use of his EHR that he never would have had without me as a result.  When I was let go so suddenly, those people were more than happy to stay with me.

The response in the community has been universal shock and outrage – and concern over what will happen to the doctor who remains.  I’ve had patients calling me both to see how they can continue to keep me as their provider and irate that this happened to all of us.  And more than a few to complain about the new staff’s treatment of them.  One of my patients was given a drug screen – I would as soon suspect my cat of drug use as this person.  Way to go there, way to alienate an entire family of 9 patients.  Nice job.

Well, I had suspected something was up for a while.  And in the first part of December, I decided to take action.  So I began looking at available names for incorporating my own business.  Come to find out, the legal name of the business, the name they received their billing under, was NOT the name they had been using before I was hired  – and it was available.  So I trade marked the name and incorporated my business under the name.

The day I was let go, I heard the new front desk person answering the phone with *my* business name, the one that hadn’t been in use since I was ‘contracted.’  I informed the new owner that he could not use that name.  He, rather pompously said he could do whatever he wanted since he owns the business, and since he rather liked that name he planned to change the name to that.  I responded, “That’s nice.  But you can’t.  Because I own it.”  Stunned silence was his response, and the accountant for the former owner (who was there helping them) asked me how I did that.  I said, “It was easy.  I researched the name, it was available, so I bought it and incorporated under it.”  Again, stunned silence.

Score one point for me.  One small satisfaction in a morass of disappointment and disgust.

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Beauty in the Desert


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ETA All of these pictures will open in Flickr and embiggen if you click on them.

This is on public land near my house.  Once, you could literally drive down into the creek bottom and to the other side; the state put up steel fencing and a sort of gate system that one can only walk through and the site has recovered in the years since.  The water runs year round, an unusual thing in the desert – this is not as low as it gets, but it’s lower than it was when we were getting storms daily.

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The roots of one of the Arizona Walnut trees near the water line.  You can see the erosion from when the water gets high in the spring.  All of the trees have fruit this year; I plan to come back and do some harvesting for our own stores soon.

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Branches:  you lose some, you grow some more.  Lightning is a thing here in the desert, as I’ll show you.

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If you look closely at the top half of this limb you can see the black from the fire the lightning started.

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The remains of a honeycomb that fell out after being burned.  The entire creekbed had a low hum from the thousands of bees busily gathering pollen and nectar from the riot of flowers everywhere.  The sunchokes were taller than we are, and the peppery smell of the nitrogen fixing plants’ blooms permeated the air.  ETA One was vetch, a desert variety that seeds everywhere it can get a little moisture.

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A lovely flash of color among the greens

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Mr. TF for comparison of some of the trees’ size.  I love our desert home.  Unlike the Midwest, our greens are mainly subtle, and oases like this are hidden unless you know they are there.  It’s a truly magical place filled with life of all sorts.

Ebola.


I have been very busy with real life recently; my oldest son and his wife whom I haven’t seen in two years came to visit and to be present at my middle son’s wedding. But of course the topics in the news came up during our conversations.

My son lives in a town with a genuine Level 4 containment facility. But here’s the problem: even the staff that are assigned to that area state that they aren’t adequately trained to work in it! Why? Because it costs money, a lot of money, to have the supplies ready to use in doing the training necessary to keep people not just minimally competent but proficient at such a methodologically demanding task.

It’s something similar to Magnet status for hospitals — they all like to promote that they have magnet status, but most of them don’t live by the ethics and level of staffing a magnet status requires — they just up the staffing for the original certification and the recertifying. In between? Just like everywhere else, overworked and under staffed. I know, I used to work for a magnet hospital. And having a level 4 containment facility gets them extra government money just like magnet status does, but they don’t spend the extra money toward what it’s supposed to go toward: maintaining appropriate staff levels and training to back up those special status items.

Dear oldest son said he thinks hospitals are going to have to make a decision on whether they will care for Ebola patients or care for the community; he thinks any hospital that admits an Ebola patient is going to become ‘toxic’ to the rest of the community, especially if other patients get infected from exposure at the hospital, and they will either have to close to the public to care for Ebola patients or they will have to turn them away to Level 4 facilities if they want to take care of the rest of the revenue generating patients they would normally see.  I think he may be right.

I made a comment on another site I visit every so often on a post about Ebola. I said something to the effect that, if it did in fact become an epidemic in the US, that nursing staff were going to begin refusing to care for those patients. Or even refusing en masse to even come to work.  While I haven’t gotten any real negative feedback and plenty of “likes” for the comment, I did get a response that ended with the statement “ebolaf@#kyou I ain’t afraid.” Or something to that effect.  I am, quite frankly, much too lazy to go and actually look up the comment; it wasn’t phrased in an insulting way.

I took that to mean the author of the response thought I was afraid of Ebola, or that nurses were, and that fear is a bad thing. So I crafted this response:

I have been in medical services since 1994. First as an EMS person then as a nurse. I am used to putting my life on the line in service to others. I used to be the one who ran into the burning house you all ran out of. I’ve fallen through floors, been in flashovers, broken bones from collapsing gear, been puked on by contagious patients, been stuck by contaminated broken glass, had exposures to tuberculosis, meningitis and hepatitis among other things. It is part of the job. You just keep working, whiners need not apply. HOWEVER.

I was trained in how to deal with all of the above, and I was given the tools to do my job properly and safely. My supervisors took my safety seriously. I was trained to recognize the symptoms/signs of danger in the situations I faced and encouraged – required even – to take appropriate action to minimize the dangers to myself and my crew.

This is not the case when it comes to Ebola. Hospitals aren’t capable of handling this, just ask any nurse or doctor in a facility near you – off the record, of course. There is no training and no real plans for training. No facility is going to waste the money to purchase the gear and then waste a lot of it in training staff how to safely don and doff it, unlike the training offered to me in HazMat, fire fighting, and EMS training. It’s just not going to happen.

You want people to not be afraid? Then they need to be trained to recognize early symptoms, to be ready to err on the side of safety, and to be aggressive about taking defensive actions. Nurses in particular are held up as these Florence Nightingales with lanterns sacrificing their lives in service to unwashed humanity (even the male nurses among us).

Do you really think, when health care has become a multimillion dollar business, that image is going to be the reality? When what the WHO and the CDC say about transmissibility differs in not insignificant and potentially deadly ways? When Sanjay Gupta can’t doff protective gear without contaminating himself on live TV?

My husband also works in the health care field and had a conversation with a doctor about Ebola. The doctor said straight up that if it became an epidemic he wasn’t going to be bothering to come to work, he was going to be home caring for the safety and health of his family where he belonged. That’s the reality. It’s not pretty, it’s not what the public wants to hear, but reality is a harsh mistress.

I’m not afraid, at least not blindly so. I think one must take precautions, and protect oneself, and be able to assess risk. I have a lot more chance of getting a Norwalk type virus than I do of getting Ebola, thankfully, because one involves 3 days of wishing I were dead and one involves the likely possibility I will in fact die. It’s all in assessing risk.

This whole idea that nurses are, and should be, held to a “higher standard” than the likes of the rest of the great unwashed humanity…?  Bunk.  We’re people just like the rest of you.  Nurses are obese, smokers, diabetics, drug abusers, alcoholics, codependent, crazy, in possibly much greater numbers than the rest of the population as a whole.  As I said in my original comment, I have a license and a calling, not a death wish.

Enough said.

Hey Arizonans! Clothesline bans are illegal!


MEN-JJ09-clothesline1(image copied from Mother Earth News)

Clothesline bans illegal in 19 states

I live in a state with many, many, MANY Home Owner’s Associations (HOA’s).  There have been fights brought to court because the boards of many HOA’s consider solar panels to be ‘unsightly’ and banned.  This, even though we live in a state with something like 320 days of sunlight a year.  This, even though Arizona law trumps HOA rules.  In all of these cases that went to court, the right of the homeowner to have solar panels was upheld, because Arizona law gives the right to the use of solar to the homeowner without interference.  Yay Arizona courts!  And yet, in many, if not most, of these same communities, use of a clothesline is banned by the same ‘unsightly’ rule.

Well guess what???  Those rules are illegal and unenforceable too, under the same laws that give the right to the use of solar panels.  ARS Article 3 Chapter 4 Section 33-349

specifically states that:

A.  Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security agreement or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of, or any interest in, real property which effectively prohibits the installation and use of a solar energy device as defined in Section 44-1761 is void and unenforceable.

I looked for section 44-1761 and unfortunately was unable to find it.  you are welcome to look HERE if you are interested.  Now in the interest of disclosure, if you bought your property before 1980 this isn’t applicable to you, and any HOA regulations dating from before 1980 ARE in fact enforceable.

ETA:  found it.  Google is my friend.

44-1761. Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. “Collector” means a component of a solar energy device that is used to absorb solar radiation, convert it to heat or electricity and transfer the heat to a heat transfer fluid or to storage.

2. “Heat exchanger” means a component of a solar energy device that is used to transfer heat from one fluid to another.

3. “Solar daylighting” means a device specifically designed to capture and redirect the visible portion of the solar beam spectrum, while controlling the infrared portion, for use in illuminating interior building spaces in lieu of artificial lighting.

4. “Solar energy device” means a system or series of mechanisms designed primarily to provide heating, to provide cooling, to produce electrical power, to produce mechanical power, to provide solar daylighting or to provide any combination of the foregoing by means of collecting and transferring solar generated energy into such uses either by active or passive means. Such systems may also have the capability of storing such energy for future utilization. Passive systems shall clearly be designed as a solar energy device such as a trombe wall and not merely a part of a normal structure such as a window.

5. “Storage unit” means a component of a solar energy device that is used to store solar generated electricity or heat for later use.

Clotheslines are specifically a device to produce mechanical power — they cause water to evaporate from clothes via solar energy.  So.  For the great majority of us, clotheslines ahoy! Full sheets sail ahead!

 

 

RIP Michael Ruppert. You deserve it.


I didn’t know him personally, but I was a follower of his original website From the Wilderness since its inception in the late 90’s.  He was a brilliant, flawed, tortured man with a message that is too hard to hear (i.e., understand and act on) for most.

May he rest in peace.  He deserves it, for he found none in this life.

Words can’t describe how sad I am right now.  He will be missed, both by his friends and family, and by those like me who heard the message.

Life is Terminal.


death

I have had a hard time at work this week.  I have been yelled at and insulted by family members, had attempted intimidation by family members, and been asked straight up if I’m “resistant, am I sensing you are resistant to what I’m saying??”  by family members.  All four of these incidents are stemming from family members who are in either rehab or in long term care and on hospice; all of the the patients are in their 80’s.  All have conditions which are ultimately terminal.  One has end stage COPD (emphysema) and has dementia, one has colon cancer with two operations to remove sections of bowel, one has a surgically repaired fractured hip and dementia, one has Parkinson’s and advanced dementia and a surgically repaired fractured hip on top of it.   None of these family members has come to terms with mortality — not in themselves, and most certainly not in their family members.  They take their fear and lack of maturity regarding this oh-so-integral part of life out on us, the staff, by attempting to use yelling, name calling, insults, and intimidation to force us to *make* their family member our special priority and use our super powers to reverse fate.

You will notice I used lack of maturity in regard to them.  I truly believe this is so.  Once up0n a time, death was common and untimely death was more so.  Everyone had a death they had witnessed, everyone had  a funeral or three they had attended.  Death was something that was immediate, commonplace, an ever-present possibility.  One’s own death was contemplated as a religious observance:

“Dying used to be accompanied by a prescribed set of customs. Guides to ars moriendi, the art of dying, were extraordinarily popular; a 1415 medieval Latin text was reprinted in more than a hundred editions across Europe. Reaffirming one’s faith, repenting one’s sins, and letting go of one’s worldly possessions and desires were crucial, and the guides provided families with prayers and questions for the dying in order to put them in the right frame of mind during their final hours. Last words came to hold a particular place of reverence.”   – Atul Gawanda The New Yorker, 2009

I give you  Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist contemplations on death.

Medicine, in particular Western medicine and the doctors who practice it, are in large part responsible for the change in our culture from contemplation and acceptance of death to refusal to accept death in any form, any time, whatever.  Doctors themselves are uncomfortable with death, and often refuse to acknowledge the possibility even to themselves, let alone to their patients or family — hence the focus on endless medical interventions even in the face of – frankly – futility.  One can always find stories that showcase the 15% of patients who defy the odds and do well, like this one but the reality is that 85% of people (more in my experience) do not do this well at all.  In fact, they usually go from hospital to rehab facility back to the hospital to rehab to long term care and then, if they’re lucky and their family is compassionate and mature, to hospice.

I am of the firm conviction, having worked in the medical field for more than 20 years, that contemplation of death is a healty thing to do.  Not only is it healthy, but it is necessary for full maturity as a human.  Those who refuse to accept mortality, in themselves or in their family members, have not matured into a full human adult.  They are eternally teenagers, thinking they are the exception to the rule and that they are immortal — or even worse, thinking that if only their loved one could go on forever (or at least until after they themselves are dead) then everything will be just dandy.  I would say that this way lies madness, but I think it’s even worse than that:  this way lies unutterable cruelty.  The family members are not there, day after day, to see the misery and decline of their loved one.  We are.  The family members are not there in the dark hours of the night to see the suffering and despair.  We are.

Who are we?  We are not the doctors – they come in for 30 minutes perhaps daily, perhaps once or twice a week.  We are the nurses and nursing assistants, the social workers, and the ancillary staff.   We are the ones who are left hanging out to dry by our administrators when we don’t meet the expectations of the family, who are usually making the decisions for their loved ones.  We are the ones who see the suffering and try, as best we can, to comfort and support.  We are the ones who are trying to follow family dictates, however fanciful, and provider orders, however unrealistic.  We are the ones *with* your loved one.  Because you cannot deal with their mortality.

Please, if you love your family members, if you have respect for yourself, begin a contemplation of death.  Decide, with those closest to you, how you want your life to go if you cannot make those decisions for yourself.  Write them down, and ask your family members to abide by them for love of you.  Think carefully, for miracles do not exist, only blips on statistical charts.  Do not think yourself so lucky that you will be the blip.

 

Blessed Yule!


Yule(Image credit runesmith.co.uk)

As a Pagan, this is my Holy Day.  It is the shortest day of the year, the longest night as well.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow the sun will seem to have been hovering in the same low spot in the sky; after tomorrow it will be incrementally climbing higher in the sky, bringing more light and eventually warmth with its rays.

Holly still reigns supreme but today he will lose his battle with Oak.  The deciduous trees will leaf again, roots will seek ever more deeply and widely in their quest for nourishment.  Holly will be there, green as ever, waiting his turn once again to be the ruler.  The epic battle for supremacy will once again play out soon, all to soon, at the Summer Solstice.  And yet, as the earth needs time to rest and recuperate, so do we, those who grow our own food.  The rush of summer, endlessly preparing for winter, is exhausting.  When Holly wins the battle once again, we know we too have a rest in sight.  Time to enjoy our labors, the fruits of the Mother, will soon come.  All seasons are blessed, even when death is in the cards, for death too is sacred and a part of the endless dance of the seasons.

The promise of a new spring, a new summer lays in these three days of breathless waiting….waiting for the return of life to the Mother. May you have a blessed Yule!

I think winter may be here.


It comes perhaps a little early for us this year.  We usually have a freeze Halloween weekend and I think of that as the end of my big gardening year — it’s the end of the canning and freezing of most of our crops like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and beans for sure.  The rhubarb has given up the ghost though my chrysanthemums are still convinced that now is the time for peak blooms.

This year, though, has been different.  The tomato plants under the sunscreen cloth are still alive; we harvested another 5 pounds and sauced them only last week.  These plants, until last night, were not only alive but still blossoming – a really strange thing to happen in our area of the high desert.  Mr. TF harvested figs on Friday afternoon; there are still unripe figs on the the tree, sadly, that I don’t think are going to make it to ripeness before they are destroyed by the frost.

We get four seasons, and we get snow, though our snow at our particular location usually comes in April, not December, and lasts no more than a week.  If we go 30 miles into the nearest town of any size, the snow starts in December though there too it melts off and returns in fits and starts until April.  My little Meyer lemon tree was brought into the house last night; it was 36 at 10 pm with a surety of getting cold enough to freeze the poor thing to death.

We had a windfall this year, literally.  Last winter a storm came through that killed a couple smaller trees on the property next door, and broke large branches off the mature trees that weren’t killed outright.  This spring, the new owner was planning to cut all of it down and take it to the dump.  Instead, I spent several days cutting the smaller stuff by myself for kindling, and both Mr. TF and I spent a couple more cutting the larger stuff with the chainsaw.  We gained perhaps a a little more half cord of wood for the cost of our labor and a little fuel. For those of you in much colder climes, this is a laughable amount.  For us though, we are careful about not overheating the house and it represents more than a quarter of our winter use.

We have lit the wood stove twice in a row and lit it a week earlier than we usually do.  My personal goal is to hold out on lighting it until the temperature in the house is 59 or less.  DH is a cave bear and that is fine with him – he would sleep with open windows in the bedroom year round if I weren’t the mean wife who puts her foot down about waking with frost on the bed covers (and having to strip to shower when it’s that chilly).  It was 58 in the bedroom, on the shady side of the house, at 1030 this morning, and 63 on the sunny side.  It was a brisk 48 outside.  I think the evening lighting of the stove may be with us for the duration of the season.  It’s both a sad thing and a happy thing.  Sad because the bulk of the garden is officially put to sleep, and happy because I look forward to the comforting wisps of smoke rising from the chimney when I’m the last one home on a cold night.    100 thousand years of humans on this world and we still take comfort in the flames and heat rising from a well seasoned log of wood.   Mr. TF is convinced that the quality of  wood heat feels different; he may be right, in that it satisfies not only our need for heat, but a certain primal need to see those flames perform their ever changing dance.  Installing this wood stove was nearly over the tipping point for DH’s tolerance for me and my ideas, but it has turned out to be a blessing both in the material sense and the spiritual as well.  Winter may be here, but we are well prepared.  It’s a good feeling.