New job

I simply wasn’t getting enough pay at my present job, even though I really like it.  Working five days a week, all hours, and going to school on a sixth was just becoming exhausting.  Thanks to my adventures with stress related illness last year, I am still vulnerable to insomnia if I don’t keep a regular sleep/wake schedule, and working until 10pm one day only to have to get up at 5 the next to be at a client’s house by 7 was getting very difficult.  That, combined with the fact that my hours (not just mine, but most of my fellow nurses) were severely reduced in July, made for the perfect storm of stress and anxiety and the resultant sleepless nights.

I put in resumes at several places without much hope of a job offer; in this economic climate no one wants to train a nurse for anything, they want to hire someone with lots of experience that only needs to be oriented to their particular way of doing things.  And, while I have a lot of experience, it’s a quirk of the nursing world that nothing you do while at a different job title is allowed to be transferred, experience wise, to the nursing job.  So any and all experience I have had as a paramedic working and living in a rural area doesn’t count because I didn’t do it as a nurse.  This is because nurses ‘are unique’…just ask one (not me, because I don’t buy it) 🙂

Lo and behold, I got an interview.  And a job offer.  And a formal job offer that I happily signed and returned.

I hope it works out!  I have two weeks of orientation with my boss/trainer, then I start mid September.  I’m relieved, hopeful, and excited to finally be doing pretty much what I had wanted when I started nursing.  It’s mostly M-F with some call, and some weekend stuff, but at least I will be on a normal schedule and hopefully be able to have family time on the weekends.

I will have to develop some better discipline about studying though!  Every night for an hour is my plan; we’ll see how that works out in practice though.  And I will hopefully have time to devote to my fiber arts business as well.  I really need to warp my loom for the towels I designed, but with only one day off I have too much to catch up on to ‘waste’ time on weaving.

In other news, our chickens aren’t defective; we are finally getting eggs!  It’s been so hot that their laying has been delayed by a month or so but at least two of them are laying now.  Little banty-sized eggs but hey, they’re new to this and I’m grateful for them.  I can’t get over how calm the Buffs are; they really help to mellow out the Rhode Island Reds.

We had quite the adventure a few weeks ago; three of the four birds flew over the back fence and were in the alley.  Mr. TF and I spent probably an hour chasing chickens to pick them up and get them back into our yard.  I got smart and clipped wings as we caught them, except for one.  She managed to fly up on our barbeque as proud as you please to be at eye level with me.  She let me pick her up with very little fuss, and promptly got her wing clipped as well.  Which she chewed me out for as soon as she was back with her sisters.  Ah well.  Such is the life of a chicken.

No canning, no preserving other than lavender flowers and indigo leaves.  I’m glad I got a good harvest of yarrow last year because the grasshoppers have absolutely devastated my stand this year!  Even nolobait doesn’t seem to stop them from reproducing and eating.

I did plant some purple irises; they are supposed to make a lovely color fast dye on wool.  I hope so!  I got them from a fellow guild member; she has the most fantastic garden I have ever seen!  She also gave me some Egyptian walking onions which I am extremely grateful for – I have been looking without success for those for something like four years.  She was gifted the original plants some years ago by someone else.  I hope they do well for me so I have the opportunity to pass the gift on.

OK, enough babbling.  Back to studying.  It’s a school day, after all.


Damned javelina!

They’ve apparently figured out a way to get into the back yard – when I got up this morning to water they have eaten every squash and plant there was.  They devastated my lima bean patch.  They trampled my swiss chard – apparently they don’t like it much.

I’m telling you, electric fence and a silencer for my .22 is in the works…

Uh Oh. I did it now.

I received two job offers today, both of which were from jobs I applied for before I went out on stress related illness. So, after seeing the assigned physician yesterday and my personal doc today, I have officially submitted my two weeks’ notice to my present employer.

Scary, scary, scary. I’m giving up job security (Ha!) and benefits in exchange for sanity and flexibility. No guarantees of work from either job though; they’re both pool/on call which scares the bejezuz out of me. I know, realistically, I’ll work probably as much as I can handle, especially during the cold months, but still. Scareeee.

Now I have to go get my personal stuff from my locker, before they cut off the lock and take it. I’m not sure how that works when you go out on disability and then give notice that you’re quitting on the day you’re due back. Probably not in the best taste, but it can’t be helped that my appointments fell the way they did. I’m just glad I got my appointments, because doctors and the phrase ‘booked for a long way out’ go hand in hand.

I learned a lot in my term of employment there, about the health care system, people, and myself. Mostly myself, I think. Which may be the most important information I will ever garner, and is something a lot of people die without ever gaining. Often, in fact, they die because they don’t learn it.  I feel lucky in a way, to have had this massive breakdown, because it forced me to look at my lifestyle, my spirituality, my marriage, my goals, my career, and so many facets of each in a way that simply would not have been possible had I not run right up to the edge of that cliff and nearly fallen off.  Perhaps, in a way, I did fall off that cliff.  The Gods, however, had other plans for me and I fell onto a ledge about ten feet down.   “What’s wrong with you is no little thing” as my DH says…but what’s right with me is no little thing either, and the knowledge of that is what I really needed.

I am just another casualty of our broken health care system.  Thankfully there was a safety net for me; so very many people are not so lucky.  I can’t imagine how awful our life would be right now without that safety net.  I think perhaps I will do more letter writing, more lobbying (though I hate lobbyists!) for causes that we as a nation cannot afford to ignore, even in an era of austerity.

On my palm my lifeline is broken into three segments – one stops abruptly, the next starts right below it but not connected to it, and the third breaks off as a new line from the second.  I don’t follow palmistry, but my aunt was always amazed by that and predicted I would have great upheavals in my life.  If the last year is any proof, she was definitely right!


My favorite kitchen tool


Originally uploaded by susancoyotesfan

This is one of my favorite kitchen items. It is my Presto pressure cooker, circa sometime mid twentieth century. It belonged to my husband’s grandmother, and we inherited it when Oscar, my husband’s grandfather died at the ripe age of 97. Yes, it’s dirty on the top because it’s cooking our dinner.

This is a life saver for days like today, when we both were busy studying and taking tests for our on line classes. Neither of us came up for air or remembered about dinner until 6 pm; so, there’s a ham hock with veggies and rice in there cooking. In less than an hour we’ll have dinner (plus prep time, about 45 min).

Wow, you say. Nearly two hours to make dinner??? Well, it beats the hell out of a frozen meal, made with God only knows what for ingredient sources, and preservatives to boot. Everything came from our freezer or our storage. And it surely beats the hell out of spending money on a take out meal.

Believe it or not, a pressure cooker can use less power than a crockpot or regular cooking. That’s because the pressure makes the food cook faster. I could make it even more efficient by cooking on my rocket stove, or by bringing it to pressure and then putting it into my haybox cooker to finish coming back down to atmospheric pressure. In the summer this may well be cooking on my firepit outside, or on my campstove.

My haybox cooker is a wine case with styrofoam glued to the outside, and nested in a cardboard box.  I use an old felted wool blanket folded in it as the ‘hay’ because it’s neater and holds heat really well.

All in all, this has been a lifesaver for two college students trying to maintain honors gpa’s while still working. If only I could find a lifesaver that would help us out that much with laundry and housekeeping.

Big Brother is Watching You.

Big Brother is Watching You Been telling my husband for years that Facebook is a tool of the CIA.  He laughs.

I would laugh the last laugh if it wasn’t so very sad.

In another story, Arizona AHCCCS residents lose preventative care coverage. Well, isn’t that short sighted.  So now we’re going to pay millions more for crisis and debilitating illnesses when we could have just paid for the preventative care instead.  And we’re going to pay for hundreds of thousands of children, long term, who will not have the benefit of having their parents be productive, or even alive.  Greeeaaat.

Why is it that the low cost, easy things to cover are the ones that get ignored and pushed to the wayside?

So, why is an English paper covering this but not any American outlets??

The Guardian has this happy article posted that has been linked to by many in the Peak Oil movement.  I haven’t seen a single American news outlet cover this yet though.  Why not?  It’s research done by our own military, for cripes sake, and it affects national security in a big way!

What does this mean for me?  Well, for one thing I think it means I’m screwed no matter what I do.  Get out of debt?  Not a chance.

And I’m still fighting with Mr. Tin Foil about getting a wood stove.  He’s worried that putting the pipe through the roof might make it leak.  I’m worried that I might not be able to cook!  Let alone heat; we have done without central heating for two years now, but we do still use space heaters in places like the bathroom, and a heated mattress pad on the bed.  We are signed up for the program with our utility company that gives us 100% of our electricity from wind and solar, but if they have problems we’ll have no electricity regardless.

Water.  Still our biggest concern.  I don’t have nearly the storage capacity I need, nor do I have the solar pump or hand powered pump I need to use it.

I drive 60 miles one way to work; getting a job closer isn’t really an option at this time.  DH drives 75 miles one way.  We have a Prius, but only one of us can use it, and it still uses gas.  Big problem no matter how you look at it.  No gas = no money.  And no house ultimately.

It seems I’m always a day late and a dollar short, no matter what I do.  Guess I’ll go finish knitting my sock.  At least that I can accomplish.

Rocket Stove. Ripping Success!

Well, the title says it all.

DH thought I was insane (what else is new?) when I made my model of Vavrek’s rocket stove (link to the Google video is on a previous post).  I put off using it, and put it off, and put it off until I forgot about it in the summer heat.

I brought it out to our campsite with us, and we fired it up.  Lo and behold, it worked amazingly well!  Not only did it burn clean — like no smoke smell at all — but we grilled burgers on it.  Which was a mistake as they  dripped grease on it, and that smoked.  And I had a mess to clean afterward.  But, converts were made.

DH was even so impressed with it that we fired it up in the back yard for our neighbor to see, and gave him some links on making a bigger one.  He was quite fascinated and I think my tinkerer neighbor will be making his own for experimenting with as well.  DH wants to make a bigger one, and use one instead of buying a wood stove or use it for portable heating.  I would also like to do that — I have seen stoves with the pipe running out a window (top pane) with the pane seasonally taken out in favor of insulated plywood.  I don’t know that I would feel comfortable doing that with a regular wood stove, but doing it with a stove where the main by products are CO2 and water vapor would probably be OK.

I’ll post pictures when I get a barrel and work on a heat circulation chamber.

A little research.

I live in kind of a unique area of the Southwest.  We have a climate that is only about 5 – 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix in summer, at least during the day, but cools off markedly more after dark.  This means that for most of the year, we have our windows open for some portion of the day before it gets hotter outside than in, and they are open at night for all but the very hottest nights.  We purchased a swamp cooler that has reduced our utility usage compared to A/C rather markedly, and judicious usage will improve that even more (after learning to live without A/C unless it was over 85 in the house, the delicious 75 of the swamp cooler was a luxury we probably waaaaay over used our first season).  We get frost by Halloween every year, though, and can expect freezing overnight temps right up until the end of April.  During the day however, for most of the year, it’s pretty nice.  It was about 75 outside today, and believe it or not I have tomatoes that are ripe.  In November.  A week before Thanksgiving.

We get snow every year, but it usually doesn’t come until April in our little corner of the world, even though 40 miles (and 100o feet higher) up the road it snows several times a year; it usually doesn’t really stick for long though. Like any desert area anywhere, the extremes of temperature make it challenging to grow food.  But it also helps me point my eyes toward what I should be trying very hard to grow — if it can grow in Cairo, or Greece, or Southern Italy, it should grow here.  Theoretically anyway.  That’s part of the challenge of this area; the temperature extremes are such that what should grow, often doesn’t…or well, anyway.

Mr. TF and I went to Sharlot Hall museum a few days ago.  I was happily surprised at the amount of information that was available there regarding the traditional foods, farming methods, and lifestyles of the local Yavapai tribes.  That was invaluable information!

For instance, one of the chief staple carbohydrate foods of the Yavapai was agave.  They would cut the spiny ‘leaves’ off after they dug up the entire plant, roots and all, and dig a pit.  In the pit they would build a fire, then when there was a good hot bed of coals, in went the the shorn root ball.  I forgot how long it said they cooked it, but it is supposedly mildly sweet, and is a rich source of carbohydrates and trace minerals.  I would have never thought of eating that!

We had to leave before we were done looking around but we plan to go back and I want to find out where I can learn more about the traditional foods and methods of farming.

I am coming to realize that gardening here while challenging, can be done — with modifications.   What the modifications are I need to have a much better understanding of.  What works in Tucson, or Phoenix, may not work here I’m finding.  Or not nearly as well.  What does, and can be maintained, is what I want to learn more about.

I DO know that the typical ‘5 acres and freedom’ type of small holding is NOT a sustainable use of land and water here.  You need a lot more land than that if you’re going to raise cattle on any scale.  Sheep and goats are the way to go here.  It’s no wonder that they are so common in the same areas I look to for gardening inspiration; they can eat scrub, they don’t eat much in comparison to their body weight, and they produce multiple uses:  meat, fiber, and milk on a time line that is much better suited for living on marginal land.  Cattle on the other hand just aren’t a productive use of the land here.  Too much water need, too much grazing need, too much time between calving and maturity.  Pigs on the other hand can adapt to pretty much anywhere; they like humans will eat whatever is put in front of them as well as whatever they can forage.  They are definitely worth considering on a sustainable basis, as long as they aren’t rooting in sensitive ecological areas.

Now, in defense of cattle I must also say that our native vegetation co-evolved with large herbivores (mammoths/mastodons) to have the fruits be eaten so that the action of the herbivore’s gut would help prep the seed to grow, and the dung would fertilize the seed where it landed.  A true ranching model, with beef on many many acres and being rotated through the land via portable fences, is sustainable and is also environmentally true to the evolutionary model of the area.  Feed lots though are a bigger disaster here than in the Midwest if you can imagine it, simply because the environment is so very fragile compared to a more robust Midwest grassland with rivers and streams.

My friend Animal says that goat tastes like antelope.  I’m going to have to find a source for goat and try it to find out.  If it’s at all palatable and not an acquired taste, I may have a source for them.

New blog links

I finally decided to add the blogs that I read that don’t have a lot to do with peak oil, financial collapse, doom and gloom.  And some that do, but are funny in a guffaw, laugh out loud sort of way.

As you might be able to tell, I’m a fiber nut as well…I literally have a room full of alpaca fiber, angora,  unwashed wool from various breeds, nice roving, silk fiber, yarns of all sorts in bins boxes, and bags, cloth scraps saved from previous projects as well as cloth purchased for future ones, embroidery thread, …well you get the idea. Some people collect shoes or purses.  I collect fiber.  Scrooge had his vault of gold coins; I have my bags of alpaca.  We both feel wealthy when we spend time with our loot.

Anyway, if you click on any of the links for crafting type stuff, I think you’ll find that they are a good read even if you’re not a fiber junkie like me.  And the photos are luscious.  Some people dream of flat screen TV’s.  I dream of silly things like spinning wheels, time to use them, faster knitting, the pure sensuous pleasure of natural fibers sliding through my hands and the beauty of the colors as they form the finished product.