Stress Awareness Day

dsc02644Due to some eccentricity of microclimate, the trees around our house are still brilliant. I expect it’s because of our position half way up the mountain- we don’t get the wind at the top or the cold at the bottom. Given rain and wind, I don’t
expect the color to last much longer, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
Wally came over and looked at the well head and cistern. It’s not recovering as quickly as we’d like, and he says he’ll come do something this week, although I’m not sure what. He said something about blowing out the line with a portable compressor. If there’s mud or leaves or something in it, that would help, if not, well, we’ve eliminated a possibility. If there is, it probably fell in during all this checking we’ve been doing.

I have asked the plumber to come back and fix the toilet. If the flapper I replaced last spring isn’t working, so it’s not sealing but leaking. (If the tank emptied in two hours, that problem could cost us a gallon an hour or ~25 gallons a day, which is more than we’re actually using currently.) So whatever else is going on, we need that to be functional.
I’m just worried that people keep suggesting digging or drilling a whole new well rather than diagnosing what’s going wrong with what we’ve got. It is the old “if your only tool is a hammer, you see all problems as nails” situation. It’s not appropriate to do what’s convenient, but we need to actually fix the problem.
I’m afraid I may tend to “put up with” problems rather than deal with them when I can’t figure out what a good solution is- especially when people suggest solutions that simply look like “throwing money at the problem”. That’s an appealing answer if you have money, but if you don’t, you may just “do without” whatever. Intellectually you may know that maintenance is better than repair, but if you can’t afford it, you can’t. There are friends who understand that, and those who don’t, and it’s not something that you can explain. I think you have to experience it. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can take care of the causes of a great deal of unhappiness. Existentially, I don’t think that the stress caused by us Baby Boomers “growing up under the threat of the mushroom cloud” is any worse than the stress of 90% of the world population throughout history who wondered year to year if the harvest was enough to feed them through winter, or if the Vikings (Saxons, Picts, Chinese, next tribe over) was going to suddenly show up and kill or enslave everyone. It wasn’t something you could control, and while it wasn’t LIKELY, you knew it was possible, and people worried about it. No matter when or where you lived, you are still going to have had stress. Personally, I think we have a lot of physical stressors these days because of outgassing plastics, depleted soils resulting in less nutritious food, artificial ingredients we wrongly assume are safe because they don’t kill us right away. That sort of thing probably accounts for why one in two people get cancer now, whereas a hundred years ago it was only 1 in 70. On the other hand, back then, people died of infections, women died in childbirth, injuries from accidents and burns killed people who couldn’t get the medical help we have today. And communication was such that if a distant friend died, you might not find out for months or years. I’m not saying that things were better then, only that we are exposing ourselves to toxins that probably contribute to a lot of modern illness, and that we’d be healthier if we were more cautious about what we used. Still, while we banned DDT in the 70s because we discovered how toxic it was, at the same time, it was responsible for saving millions of lives by preventing insect borne diseases. We need to find a middle path.

Willow is off watching Avi’s kids again- she was called back in to work because a coworker had to put down their pet. It feels like a lot of pets are dying this week, going by posts on facebook. I wonder if they wait for Samhain like humans often wait for Christmas, or the low tide, or their birthday. Willow and Avi are trying to figure out how much she works, which is hard because Avi even when the store is supposed to close at seven, sometimes stays open to finish a sale- and then another person comes in, and as she gets commissions, she sometimes doesn’t really close until nine. It makes it hard to figure out what the average number of hours may be.

The girls went to their doctor on Thursday. Now that they are both seeing the same one, she makes back to back visits and they can each be backup for the other, reminding her of things she might forget. Very efficient. I like Dr. Gunning. I made Colcannon- a traditional Celtic Halloween dish with potatoes and cabbage or kale (I used kale) and egregious amounts of butter. (at least the way I make it)
While washing the dishes, I made a foolish mistake- I put the glasses on the hooks on the outside of the rack before putting the plates inside the rack. Without the weight of the plates, the fourth glass overbalanced the rack and it flipped, shattering all four glasses. So we have no more fall image glasses. Oh well. Next time I went out I went to the dollar store to see if they had some others I’d like, but sadly I was too late. All the glasses are now Christmas patterns. Well, it’s not like I haven’t got other glasses.
I saw Dr. Quirbach on Friday. On seeing that my face is still drooping, he said that depending on how severe the initial problem is, sometimes the nerves are simply damaged, but sometimes they are severed, and if so, it can take six months to a year for them to heal. I will try to take encouragement from that, because when I was a kid, they used to say that nerves couldn’t heal, ever. So I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens. Bummer.
I am trying the Chinese Herbal remedy, and keeping up on nutrients that are supposed to support nerves, and acupuncture and hypnosis. I’d really hoped to be healed before this weekend. It feels hypocritical of me to be teaching healing techniques when clearly I can’t heal myself. We’ll be leaving first thing Friday morning for CTCW. I feel somewhat disoriented because I have not been involved much this year. I know that we had planned to turn it over to other people, but it still feels odd, especially when people ask me questions and I don’t know the answers.ghostbusters kat-joanie-and-willow-halloween

The girls went down to see Joannie and Raye on Halloween, dressed in their Ghostbuster cosplay and did a Ghostbuster movie marathon. If they’d had more energy, they’d talked about going to Salem for the big holiday, but they didn’t, so settled for a low key night with friends.
dsc02646John and I waited for trick or treaters- and Avi brought her kids over. You should have seen how excited we were – like in the first Goastbuster movie “We got one!”. Kat and I carved pumpkins the night before- she chose a face of a ghost type Pokemon, I did a version of my own “two-face” face with the droopy side.

We’ve continued to watch “scary” movies to celebrate the Halloween season. Steve came to supper Sunday, and I discovered that he’d never seen Monster Squad, so I inflicted it on him. I’ve also started watching the first season of NCIS New Orleans- the first discs are full of guest appearances with the folks from NCIS. I’m still getting used to the new crew, but like the coroner and lab guy.

I finished the Hallowed Isle series by Diana Paxson. This week I read the third and fourth books, Book of the Cauldron and Book of the Stone, I really liked that when Morgause stole the holy Cauldron and performed the rite activating it’s power, it purified her and made her into her best self. So often people get into retribution, and don’t realize that spirituality usually means that we eventually get better. Last week I watched the Frighteners again, a rather silly comedy with ghosts, and at the end to stop the murdering psychopaths, the psychic allows himself to be killed so that he can go up the tunnel of light and drag them with him, but when he got to heaven, where his wife and friends were waiting for him, they said “don’t watch” as the bad ghosts were dragged down to hell. I don’t think that’s how it works. I really think that when you die, first you will create for yourself whatever you expect, but eventually, even if you expected hell, you will come to experience the one-ness with all, and LOVE that is described by those who’ve had near-death experiences. While wanting to see people who’ve been really nasty get punished is a natural reaction, it’s not our best reaction, and I don’t think it’s what happens- eventually. I do believe we do all “reap what we sow”, but I also believe that we all, after learning experiences, do grow into our best selves. I was so pleased to see that happen in Paxon’s books.
Yesterday Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen arrived (I’d pre-ordered it), this is the latest Lois McMasters Bujold book in the Vorkosigan saga. That woman can write! It is hard for me to not go running back to read it even now. Willow had to remind me to put it down and get up as she and Kat left to do the laundry. I am really enjoying it.
I’ve started Daily Life during World War I. It’s a strange combination of really depressing and fascinating. I find it nearly impossible not to cry when I read about these millions of young men in those filthy trenches, (trivia: a seven pound wool coat would end up black-adderweighing 30 pounds when soaked in rain and mud), dealing with poison gas (heavier than air), and trench foot, and lice and rats. I have learned that barbed wire was an integral part of the defense, but in order to charge across no-man’s-land, first engineers had to go up and remove the barbed wire to let them charge. One wonders why the other side’s snipers didn’t just shoot anyone they saw taking down barbed wire. Sadly, in the chapter about training, apparently they put a lot more training into getting them to respond to orders (“go and die where you’re bid”) rather than marksmanship or anything else. It would take a LOT of programming to get people to charge machine guns, and apparently they did- and died in rows. That final scene of the WWI Black Adder was apparently very realistic. The most difficult part is knowing that it’s all real. (Thank goodness for the break for the Bujold book.)
I finished Spirituality and Patient Care, and while it made sense as far as it went, I found it annoying as it tended to talk about how respecting the patient’s religious traditions were beneficial because they often provided support services, enhanced compliance with medical directions, and made them “feel” better. While it mentioned the placebo effect, it totally avoided indicating that there was healing power in prayer or any other spiritual practice. I suppose if doctors read and went along with the suggestions in the book, it would open the way for better respect, but it really did bug me.

I started reading Magic and Healing: The History and Folklore of Magical Healing Practices from Herb-Lore and Incantations to Rings and Precious Stones. It’s full of interesting bits, but very disjointed, more like a collection of interesting trivia than a collection that points out similarities and progressions through time. I’m continuing the book Curing and Healing, and while it is very anthropologically oriented, among other examples it includes some Shinto practices, which have managed to integrate beautifully with modern medicine. I think we do need to include an awareness of spiritual healing and how it intersects with physical healing. I wish this type of anthropological research would be done in local hospitals to document how it works, not just in obscure papers about aboriginal people, where the immediate application isn’t obvious. Anthropologists, in an attempt to become accepted as “real” scientists, have tended to downplay all supernatural activity as “what the participants believe is happening”, even if clearly physical changes happen. It’s really annoying. I also want to see studies explaining why our modern culture accepts such clearly biased myths as “doctors are male, nurses are female and janitors are black”? Or why our government suppresses evidence of therapies that are safer and more effective, but won’t make as much money? Why does the AMA get to decide what’s “real” medicine and what isn’t, except that they got laws put in by their buddies who went to the same high priced universities, and then other friends took over the media so they were able to create public opinion? We need to recognize that our belief systems are as arbitrary and ridiculous as any other culture we study.
When a situation is intolerable and some try to change it, others will work very hard to prevent it being changed. Change can be scary, but sometimes not changing can be harmful. I am trying to deal with change. Between the weakness of the Lyme and the problems the Bells is causing me with my contacts, I am feeling really old. I begin to relate to the old women who sat in the corner of the cottage and spun or knit. If I can’t drive, I can’t see friends. The internet is nice, but it’s not as good as actually sitting across from someone and talking. I am really worried about getting any more isolated.
In theory I should be weeding the things out of my life that don’t serve me, don’t make me happy. On the other hand, I’m finding that by the time I’m done doing the things I can’t eliminate (like taking care of housework), I have no energy left for anything else. It seems like either lack of money or health has eliminated everything I like to do. Well, except reading. I do enjoy reading, and baking. But I sure would like to see more of my friends. I don’t think I want to do the huge “open house” weekend this yule, so we’ll have the Solstice feast on Friday (December 23) and hope people can make it.


We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein