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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fretful sleep

Tremendous rains, as is usual here with a strengthening el nino; we are housebound. I, because I always did take exposure rather poorly; Beloved, because she has the swine flu and hasn't been outdoors in a week. She's on the mend but weak, and I have been pressed into service as the nurse, CNA, housekeeper, and duckherder.

We keep telling each other, over hot cider by the fire, how grateful we are that we can do this. Illnesses were always something to be swept under the rug in our household; we were both commuting to jobs, so whichever one went down had to fend for herself. It was a lonesome process. Beloved tends to recover in the main bed, watching old videotapes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Northern Exposure. I take over the easy chair in the living room or drag it into the dining room to be by the fire, and alternately cruise the Web (which takes patience, as we only have dialup) or listen to Haydn quartets.

That's all right up to a point, but the ducks, geese and chickens must be led from the barn, fed, their fouled water changed out, the eggs gathered, and at dusk everyone must return to the barn; firewood needs to be split and brought in, the fire tended, meals prepared, and some basic housework done. Running this kind of low-tech operation alone all day in a dark, hailing, endless winter storm with a full-blown case of influenza is -- well, not for sissies.

So I retired in time to be there for her, with "Soup? Maybe a little apple juice? Oh, aspirin and water? Be right back!" It makes a difference.

Other things fall by the wayside. Insulation is not being tacked up in the crawl space; the cottonwoods by the upper field have not been cut; the cracks in the dining room floor have not been filled in and painted over; the deer fence has yet to make it around the corner of the south pasture; and the second solar dryer isn't getting built.

All in good time. Other things being equal, such as that TEOTWAWKI has not arrived, the progress that's being made is on other fronts: wrens, juncos, and sparrows come to the feeder, the cat sleeps, onions in the hoophouse grow a little taller, cold water slides down Stony Run toward the wide Pacific, worms turn and turn among leaves heaped on the fifty-foot beds, stars peep nervously through rattling dark clouds, Beloved rolls over in her fretful sleep, and I tuck the blankets around her back and shoulders.


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