Saturday, July 30, 2011

I don't know about the heat spell around the country; in some areas it's a major drought, in others it's just very hot. Here it's fairly typical that it remains in the high nineties and often looks like it's going to rain but never does. What has changed is that some bank clocks have discovered the "heat index" or "feels like" and now post things like 103 or 107 on their clocks, without necessarily clarifying what they are talking about.

Really I'm more tired of the length of the summer, since it starts around May, and is uncomfortable for so long, often until late September. We're roughly half way, it being very late July, and have a long way to go. I swelter; I miss Minnesota. I'm much more of a wimp than I used to be; I long to spend some time outside in the summer.

We got a tiny pool for the kids, about six feet in diameter, so, actually, we spend more time out there than we used to. If I'm in it I actually enjoy the summer, the heat, the burning sun; I can watch my tomatoes grow right next to me (side question: does the chlorine of a home pool adversely affect a tomato patch or garden vegetables? Next year, that vegetable garden is moving. This year, the pool is in the only place it could be)…I can enjoy the flower gardens; sometimes I make improvements, pull weeds, etc. while I watch the little guys. If I hang around out there, I'm too hot. But if I get in once in a while, it's not so bad.

Why do I mention this? I try to put myself here, in the summer, in this world, with the boys, because a personal emergency made me go to the nearby town of H. a lot recently; I'd rather not think about that; I've written copiously about that problem but don't share it, and all I can say is, it's ok now, but still not resolved, and it causes lots of stress which makes the heat and humidity that much more of a rice cooker. Such events make me grateful to be alive, and to still have my children, and to know that grandchildren are on the way, and that, in a more distant sense, fall is on its way too. Life has put me through the ringer, but I came out hard squozen but still alive, and each day I remind myself that I am basically lucky because the alternatives are worse.

The town of H. is at the other end of southern Illinois so it requires about an hour drive straight east, past a lake, through the region's main town, out across vast and beautiful (and sun-baked) farm country. It's a town of about ten thousand that combines a little bit of southern pillar-laden elegance with your usual small-town conflict and exaggerated personality. The guy with the Harley wears a sleeveless vest emblazoned with "Harley" on it and dangles a long cigarette in his mouth as he rides without a helmet. The policeman checks my license number from way across the four-lane, I'm sure, just because he doesn't know who I am, doesn't recognize the car immediately. Everyone we talk to is very friendly and gives directions easily but they are hard to understand and we get lost a lot, even though the town is tiny. But the heck of it is, the only people I really know here have been touched by unspeakable tragedies that make mine look like small change, fatal accidents that involve drugs and other problems, things that can't be undone or returned to life as we know it, much as I'm trying to get my life back to life as I knew it. Sometimes it is so difficult to just do the stuff on your list, that you just make a cup of coffee and stew on it for a while, but, these other folks' lives serve as a warning, and a reminder: it could be worse. I was lucky, and I'd better remember that.
A huge natural gas find in the US brings good news and bad. Good: I can move to Minnesota, because living in the far north won't be a huge burden on a small income. Second, massive fracking of underground shale or whatever will destablize the whole earth crust all over, thus causing more earthquakes, a general weakening of the crust under our country. Is it worth it? Most likely the decision to do all that fracking will be made without my input anyway, but I thought I'd weigh in on this topic. I'd be glad to move to Minnesota, knowing that natural gas will be cheap and available for years to come. I would be unhappy to be living in places like Pennsylvania and New York, where they are blowing the underbelly of the earth out with powerful shots of water and chemicals, thus depleting the local water supply and making what water is left totally undrinkable. Of course there is this window; it will take a few years to figure out how many people die from the process (or get cancer from tainted water); in the meantime, natural gas is cheap and we have jobs, but we're living on borrowed time. It's more or less the story of this country.

So, the pressure is rising, the fracking is increasing, destabilization of the known universe is taking place at an increasing rate, etc. My own life is way heated up, high pressure, heat index, overstimulation, and I'm not even working; I'm taking a term off to do childcare and put time into helping various kids. Yet going back to work might actually be relaxing, and give me something to do with my hands. As it is I'm considering making another quilt, just so I get some visuals along with the stress. A needle every once in a while, it's like acupuncture. It actually helps.


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