Where do we go from here?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Frosty Paws

So, here I am, sitting in the room we call "the office" since it is where our desks, file cabinets, supplies, computer/printer and so forth are located, trying to keep the circulation going in my fingers by typing.  The circulation is imperiled by the fact that when I woke up this morning I discovered that the furnace was not working.  At all. We don't keep heat on at night, as we sleep in flannel, down, quilts, and cats, and rarely need any extra heat. But as soon as I get up into the icy winter house, I turn the heat on.  Our highest setting at any time of day is 69, once in a great while 70.  This morning when I turned the thermostat up to 68, nothing happened.  And it still isn't happening.  It's 33 degrees outside, and it sure feels a lot like that in here, despite the space heaters I have going in this room and the kitchen.  I've closed these two rooms off to the rest of the house, and from time to time I go turn on the oven for an extra little blast of warmth.  We called the company that services our heater and swamp cooler as soon as we could, and supposedly at some yet-undisclosed time today a technician will show up to see what's going on and presumably fix it.  This happened several weeks ago, on one of the only cold days in November, and THAT technician seemed quite vague and unsure of his fix. It's a quite new furnace, and this is a mystifying problem.  I don't want to build a fire in the fireplace, as I keep imagining that the fix-it guy will come and I'll be released from my waiting - I have a lot I need to do do in the world outside this house, and don't want to leave a fire burning while I go to La Montanita for food resupply.

I'm always amazed when anything of this nature happens:  malfunction of necessary systems, power outages, big roof leaks, and so forth - to see how dependent we really are on these systems. We have all come to take heat/light/water on command as a given, as well as all that comes to us piggybacking on those utilities. We take having what we want where we want it when we want it as the Natural Order of the Universe, and when that order of the universe is interrupted, we freak.

I think of my friend Kathy, working with Innovative Communities.orgFoundation in Guatemalan villages, where there are no systems to malfunction, where poverty and natural catastrophe are the governing orders.  Kathy and the people she works with are replacing traditional unvented open hearths with safe, fuel-efficient  stoves, installing water filters for families at risk from water-bourne illness, providing school supplies and library books for children. I knew Kathy when we were both privileged young women studying abroad in France, and we have remained long-distance friends ever since. The work she is doing is amazing and the people she works with are the ones who should inherit the earth when all our power systems finally wink out completely as our way of life collapses.   As I do believe it will, perhaps even within my lifetime. I should be learning to live much more sustainably, to depend far less on these external-to-me systems. So, I put on more layers, I eat two zucchini-mushroom tamales,( warmed in the microwave, because not all of my systems have yet collapsed), let the fix-it guy in, he finds it to be a bad pressure switch, and now he's gone to pick up a new one.  A good one, I hope. And then I read that in England, where they are having a terrible run of freezing weather: "Thousands of homes could run out of heating oil over Christmas and rationing will be introduced if the freezing weather continues, the Government has warned." None of us are ready for what is eventually coming down the pike.

If you'd like to know more about ICO's work in Guatemala, there is a blog, with wonderful photos and day-to-day stories of what is happening.  It will take you right there.

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