The Cost of the thing…

I quit my job Saturday. Yes, the job I accepted 8 days prior.  I worked four shifts and I completed about 2 hours of employee training.  It was enough, more than enough.  What I learned, what I did, what was expected of me, was appalling. Which is not to say I didn’t do my job well.  I received rave reviews of my training, my presence, my aptitude for learning and helping.

But I got headaches, and felt sick to my stomach.  I started counting down the time left in my shift, before I had punched in at the time clock. I started dreading my next scheduled shift  as I was punching out from the one I was working. I started making snide comments under my breath about corporate codes of conduct and actual practices. I started pacing behind the check out counter, caged, confined by the job and the policies and procedures dictated by some corporate entity whose only concern was profit margin and sales.

Menial work for a paycheck, my soothing mantra was not convincing. Unhappy, unwell, and distracted I was having a difficult time focusing on the other areas of my life, the parts the job was supposed to make more secure. All I wanted to do was pace, walk,  brood, avoid.

I made the wrong decision. I made the wrong choice.  Not the menial work for a paycheck and security, but the choice of employers.  I didn’t do the research I should have done. I didn’t give myself time to consider the ramifications of my actions.  I didn’t think about doing the right thing, I just did the expedient thing.

I know better.  So I resigned. Complete with a resignation letter.  It is below.

I am not very articulate when speaking on the phone and less so in person.  For this reason I am writing this letter to clarify my decision to end my employment with ************ as of today, October 4, 2014. I believe it is in the best interest of all concerned that I do this.

I would like you to know that my decision is not based on the conduct or character of any of the persons I met while working in the store. I found all the “team” to be friendly, helpful and eager to encourage me in finding my place on the “team”. I am grateful for all their help. 

I have worked retail before, as a clerk, as an assistant manager and as the manager. It is hard work; it is often repetitious and stressful work. Not one of these things was a surprise to me working at ***********. What was surprising, and disconcerting to me, was the level of mistrust, paranoia, and wariness I encountered in the training lectures, company policies and the day-to-day procedures which placed the employees under suspicion from the moment they entered the building until they left. I felt constantly under threat of “termination” for any mistakes, transgressions, whether deliberate or inadvertent. I understand the need for a disciplinary structure in the workplace, but *********** policies seem extreme, arbitrary, and frankly very anti-employee.

In addition to this I found the regimented and unrelenting procedures to be limiting and demeaning. I became convinced that “any warm body would do” for most if not all the tasks I was asked to perform. I was often under the impression that the only reason I was at the check-out counter was because there was no comparable machine yet available.

 I have a mind and I have a moral code, and I have principles that provide me with the guidance for my actions, and I expect the same from the company I that employees me. Given the evidence I observed, *********** as company, while espousing the accepted rhetoric of employee well-being in actuality follows a policy of filling positions, not providing people with meaningful work at a living wage. From what I observed, employees, at least from the corporate view, are nothing more than a necessary evil.

In addition I noticed a certain amount of hypocrisy between the business code of conduct and the actual operations on a store level. Specifically the pledge of “helping get, stay and live well” while at the same time selling cigarettes and tobacco products in the store. I found this especially troubling given the admission of the company, in its own tobacco sales training video, that tobacco is directly responsible for 1/3 of the deaths of adult tobacco users. I don’t even want to know what the corporate reasoning is on this point, I am sure, in the end it has something to do with providing the investors with the most robust bottom line, at the expense of the customers. After all, a drug store chain that sells tobacco products guarantees future customers for its drugs and medicines. 

In the end, I made a mistake. I made an error in judgment and accepted a position with *********** without doing enough research, and without having enough information. I regret that. I also regret not following my instincts and responding more cautiously to the sense of unease I had when first offered the job. I really wanted this job to work out. In many ways I needed it to work out. I am very sorry it did not.

I did learn I am capable of working in a retail setting. I can operate contemporary computer cash registers and their varied accessories. I am still capable of learning procedures and how to function in a retail setting. For these insights I am grateful.

I have also learned the corporate system, as evidenced in the policies of ********** is a system with little regard for its customers or its employees. As long as the corporate model puts profits and shareholders first, the rest will suffer. I cannot in good faith be part of that kind of system.

I hope you understand. I am not finding fault with the Store or the employees there. My reason for resigning is based on my inability to support the corporate culture I saw at ************. I know I would not survive long under these corporate set conditions. I find distrust, dishonesty and disregard for others intolerable. 

Thank you for offering me the opportunity and the experience. I have learned many things about myself and the reality of corporate world. I am sure these experiences will affect my choices and judgments in the future.

Sincerely,

So, once again I am unemployed.  But more than that, I am obligated to rethink many of my precepts and beliefs. I am looking hard at the idea of convenience and expediency and how these concepts have motivated my daily life and choices.

Cheaper prices, longer store hours, multiple choices in the same place, all these things have driven the world to the corporate run chains.  The appalling lack of small local businesses everyone despairs and wails about has come about because as consumers we are making the choices that allow corporate chains to grow and thrive.  They make the appeal for low-cost and convenience, and we are lured in with the promise of immediate satisfaction. But when was the last time you considered the person behind the checkout counter as a person, with a life and dreams and concerns and ambitions and worries just like you?  When was the last time you considered what your “on sale with coupon” purchase meant to them?

The company I worked for last week had all the right words and phrases listed in the official company code of conduct and mission statement.  The words were there, artfully arranged to inspire confidence and positive feelings in those who read them.  This appeared to be a company with a social conscience and forward thinking goals.  They talked the talk, and it was good.

And I suspect if I were to read the codes and statements of other corporate chains I would find the same attention to social, economic and environmental concerns.  They all talk the talk.

But, from personal experience, I know they don’t walk the walk.  There is this big caveat at the end of all these propaganda statements, because that is what they are; another statement, usually not seen on the websites and printed pledges, usually not publicized on advertisements, that makes all this socially responsible rhetoric contingent on the bottom line and providing the best outcome for the shareholders.

And you know who is most likely to screw up that outcome for the investors?  Well, it is the employees down there are the store level.  Those pesky employees with their demands for living wages and safe working conditions, fair treatment and respect.  Yup, even worse than those demanding, whining customers, the employees are the bane of the corporate existence.

Cynical?  You think I am cynical?  You should read some corporate training manuals for retail employees.  The term zero tolerance takes on a whole new meaning when the disciplinary action for any error or transgression is immediate termination. My fellow employees were not just docile, they were cowed. A looming threat of dismissal will do that to a person. I believe it is called intimidation. Oppression.

So, I am glad I quit. I know some will say I am naive and idealistic. So be it. I am also motivated and determined. Saturday when I handed over my resignation was the last time I step into that particular chain’s stores.   In addition I will avoid going into any corporate chain store. I am not going to support a system I find degrading and dishonest.

So where will I work? Where will I shop?  How will I live. Local. Small. Simple.

I will continue to look for a job. I still don’t want more than I need, that hourly wage for honest work. I am implementing a policy of buying less rather than paying less. I will use my purchasing power consciously and mindfully. I will be thinking very seriously about where and what and when I purchase something. I will be thinking of the impact my purchase can have.  I will live, to quote one of my heroes “deliberately.”

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

That’s right Henry, once again you nailed it.

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Oatmeal: An Ode

April 29th in St. Paul MN.

So it is a sleety sloppy day outside. The sky is gray and shedding flakes. The wind swirls around the sky’s detritus and all looks soggy and damp.

It is a good day for oatmeal.  Yes, another gloppy gray substance; once despised and left uneaten, now favorite breakfast food, warm and soft.

oatmeal in a bowl on a soggy April morning.

oatmeal in a bowl on a soggy April morning.

This is not your ordinary oatmeal.

Oatmeal by its very consistency requires additives.  There are those among us who add things to oatmeal to make it more palatable. Raisins, ewwwww!  Sliced almonds or pecan pieces. Brown sugar and milk. Berries, dried fruit, yogurt or gravel (a.k.a. Grape Nuts).

For me, the perfection in oatmeal concoctions has none of these.  Inspired by a “the cupboards are bare” foray, I made up this tasty treat for myself. Just thinking about making this oatmeal makes me happier, the day look brighter,  the world a more pleasant and positive place.  Consuming it is giving myself a present I never expected to get.

Good grief! It’s oatmeal.

Ah, but it is oatmeal with character and charm. It has flavor and fun.

oatmeal under scrutiny

oatmeal under scrutiny

Look closely and you will find bits of grain from a sprinkling of left over granola.  Look a little more closely and there are the golden brown swirls of peanut butter (creamy, natural, not entirely incorporated to add surprise and delight to each spoonful) mixed in. That sheen on the pasty lumps of stomped oats, why that is maple syrup. Yes, sap of trees, sweet and sticky, when warmed with the residual heat of hot mush gets slick and glossy.

Sweet subsistence. Flavor-able flare. Edible artistry.

What other additions could elevate this sturdy breakfast food?

Cheese and bacon crumbles?  Salsa and spinach? Does oatmeal have a savory side?

O oatmeal. Sturdy staple, and morning star.

The forecast says precipitation all week.

moving a mountain

I was all hyped up yesterday.  Friday, with Dennis’ help I took 8 bags and boxes of books to the Half Price Bookstore in Apple Valley. They gave me a tidy sum of money for my cast-offs, journals, cookbooks and pamphlets. I still wonder, if maybe, just maybe, they felt sorry for me and my paper hoarding tendencies and so they gave me money to encourage me to continue the purge. Or not.

So yesterday I went back to the elephantine bookcase in my room and began the second go through. A box and a tote bag later, I was on a roll, feeling pretty good about this process. It wasn’t difficult; it was being honest, it was being selective, it was being practical.

A few more books came off the prose bookcase. Really, how anthologies of nature writing does one person need? Can you say repetition? Same authors, same essays, or even worse, excerpts from essays. Really seriously, if the essay was good enough to include it should have been good enough to print in full.

Yes, we were rolling along most merrily, books piling up on the floor, shelves emptying nicely. I was feeling on top of the whole process…

and then I hit the poetry bookcases. Notice the plural, yes, more than one. And for the most part there are skinny books. So many of them and so many that I recognize, remember, associate with certain classes (MFA), certain instructors, and certain events.

And just that fast, just that soon, there I was up against the base of the mountain. Yes, I had crossed the plains in just a few weeks and now there was the sheer granite cliffs of the impassable mountain in front of me.

so high you can’t get over it, so low you can’t get under it, so wide you can’t get around it…

Poetry, poets, poetry anthologies, poets writing about poets, how to read poetry, how to write poetry. So much poetry, some read, some remembered, some carried around from the old college days, some tattered and yellowed, some with marginal notes obvious and silly, some with post it tags hanging out the ends, some with bookmarks, some looking surprisingly untouched and unexplored.

The book purge is stuck. This is going to take time, lots of time, more time that I had yesterday, or today, or even next weekend. This is months and months of serious reading and examining and assessing and…

Honestly, I am daunted. Thoroughly daunted. Where to begin. How to begin. What to keep, what to let go. Do I need the complete works of Richard Brautigan? I haven’t read Yeats since college. Who really needs the complete works of John Donne or Edmund Spenser? Apparently I do, did, will?

It’s a mountain this poetry collection. A tall, wide, unmovable mountain.

My heaven is so high you can’t get around it, so low you can’t get under it, so wide.you can’t get around it…

how do I know it is time…

How do I know it is time? What internal alarm clock wakes me from the sleep of routine to consider another day, another way, another world?

I want to rearrange my room. For the past seven years it has been static, arranged around the huge floor to ceiling bookshelf Dennis built me, seven years ago. This bookcase occupies the only wall in the room long enough and tall enough to handle the bulk.

There is, and has been, this urge to change. One major huge bookcase, three smaller, fold up bookcases, a desk, a chair, a bed, a rocking chair, a footstool (file box), a printer stand (file cabinet) and two magazine racks  compete for space in this room. Last fall I eliminated one bookcase (now in the basement) and another file cabinet.

This morning Dennis and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about many things. We discussed selling the house, what it was worth, how we felt about this place we have spent, respectively, over forty and over twenty-five years. Memories, attachments, collections, likes and dislikes. We talked about what we need in a dwelling place, what we could live without, what is important, how we can make it work. Why we feel we need to take on this permanent change. What steps we have to take to make a major, life disrupting change in our routines.

Will we move overseas? Probably. Will we sell the house and everything in it. Yes, if it comes to that. Will we miss our safe, quiet, comfortable place in the country? Possibly, but we are ready to see what else is out there.  Will we regret our choice? We won’t know that until we make one. Do we need to take this chance? I think we do.

So that room that needs to be rearranged. I think the alarm has sounded loud and clear. It is time to downsize, clear out, and minimize. I am going to start with the books. All those lovely book spines I look at everyday. All those lovely books of essays, stories, and poems I haven’t opened in years, but remember vaguely in some cases, vividly in others. All those books and authors I have collected with the intention of reading at some point. All those important books I should open, read, and consider but can’t find the block of time I need to do justice to the wisdom within.

When something becomes more burden, more habit, more prop than potential it is time to make room, lighten the load, and open the space. Instinctively I know what books I need to keep, I know when I am reading what I need to read, and I know those books will come to me as I need them. The rest, those read and still unread are just conveniences, possibilities waiting for my eyes to catch the title, my hand to pull one from the shelves and my fingers to open the pages, always with the hope called maybe. Do I really need  four bookcases of maybes?

Maybe it is time to stop hoping for the right book, the right place, the right opportunity and just get out there and pursue something fleeting and risky. That alarm ringing in my mind seems to indicate it is time to wake up, make a change in staisis, do something drastically different.

Books and bookcases for sale. It is a start.

 

Ready or Not?

The house at the end of Elm Lane has been petless since October. Last week when I washed the kitchen throw rugs I thought about changing out one for Macarthur’s favorite green rug. I didn’t do it, but I did consider it. Maybe this winter.

Saturday I noticed a black cat sitting under the bird feeder. At first I thought it was Feral II, the second of the feral cats that consider our yard part of their territory. But this cat was too small and too sleek-looking. Feral II is a tall, shaggy, black cat with a big brushy tail.

Dennis also noticed the cat. He said the cat had been at the mailbox the day before. Dennis also noted on a couple of his morning walks he had seen the cat lying in the middle of the county road. Now the cat was in the yard, eating the crumbs of suet from the bird feeder (the woodpeckers and cardinals are not neat eaters) and wandering around the outside of the house.

This cat is not a feral cat. Feral, the first of our feral cats, a large yellow tabby with huge feet and no love of people, skulks around the edges of the yard, moving from one clump of vegetation to another. Feral II prefers to lurk in the bushes, or under the hostas, and make low to the ground dashes from building to building.

This cat is used to people. I would say not only familiar with the species, but accustomed to relying on the species for certain of its needs.

Sunday evening when I went outside to get a closer look at this cat, it came right up the steps, flopped over on its side and then leaped up to shadow wind around my legs (that’s when the cat weaves around without actually touching the legs).

The cat is very vocal. But only when trying to get the attention of humans. It is quiet, calm, and relatively content as long as there are no humans in its sight. However, once a human is in sight the meowing ( caterwauling, indeed) never stops. Ever.

We watched the cat circle the house, sit on the front steps, eat under the bird feeder, and sleep on the deck for three days. Tuesday night I set out a dish of water for the cat. Hey, we have water for all the other animals in the yard, bird baths used by every creature from birds to raccoon to deer.

Wednesday afternoon the cat followed us on our walk to the mailbox. Yes, meowing all the way. We speculated on the possibility of it being abandoned. A stray. Dumped somewhere along the quarter-mile long township road that leads to the house.

The cat followed us home, walked up the steps and sat in front of the door as if it knew that is how it got in the house. Feral and Feral II only know the door as the place people (danger) come from.

On the walk back from the mailbox Dennis asked about the leftover pork roast in the refrigerator. “Does this mean I should feed it to the cat?” I asked. “You could.” he replied.

I did. I added a little stale bread and some milk. I put it in a little plastic container and set it on the patio.

The cat ate it. All of it. And then sat on the steps in front of the door the rest of the day. When Dennis went outside to take photographs with his new camera lens, the cat followed him all over the yard. Meowing, dashing under his feet, flopping on its side and rolling over.

I went outside and it followed me around. It allowed me to pet it; it rubbed up against my legs. It did more flopping and rolling. It continued to meow.

This morning I fixed another cat meal, rice, mushroom sauce, and chicken.

The cat is sitting on the deck by the back door. It has been there all day. It is waiting. Quiet, determined.

The cat is female. I checked on one of the flop and roll sequences.

I wonder if she has worms. If she has encountered Feral or Feral II. If she is old enough to have kittens. If that is why she is so skinny, eats so much. I wonder if she has fleas or other bugs. How she would (hypothetically) ride in a car to the vet. I wonder how old she is. I wonder what kind of cat food she would like. Where will she go this winter to get out of the cold. Should I make her a warm place to sleep? I wonder when feeding her is going to turn into letting her in the house. I wonder when we will name her.

This cat is not the new pet I envisioned.When I think of us having another pet, I think of dogs. We are dog people. Big slobbery, deep voiced barking, dog people. Cats, well, they are tolerable. As long as they are quiet, reclusive, undemanding, like Feral, or Feral II.

There hasn’t been a cat in the house since Henry. Henry was an ideal cat, large, aloof, and unassuming. Accept for his unfailing determination to sleep on the bed, which annoyed Dennis and thereby was why Henry insisted, he was a great cat.

The black cat on the deck is no Henry.

So what do we do with the cat? The cat that showed up.  The cat that is obviously a pet. The cat we don’t really want. The cat that won’t go away.

Ready or not, it is a long way to Tipperary.

Patio morning

One note at a time ring the chimes hanging behind me from the pergola. Background to the bird chatter. The train rumbles through the little town of Stockholm, and the low humming of its wheels gradually fades away. A moment of silence, still as the air as all and everything hushes and breathes deep.
Ears ring in the quiet.
A fly buzz. The whirr of humming bird wings as the irredescent bird pauses for a moment before my face. Now the birds resume their calls. A rooster at the nearby farm declares it morning. Cows shriek their complaints. Feed me. Milk me. Hurry. Hurry. An airplane crosses the sky, too high above the rising haze to see. Another overhead heading in the opposite direction.
The wind chimes stirs and the single notes reverberate to nothing. Single notes, A flat minor, a chord. The rooster. A vehicle on gravel. A bird chirp. Trill. Song. Another train, a warning whistle. Motorcycle whine. Woodpecker on the old cottonwood tree.
The incessant rooster insists. I am awake! Wake up. Its light. Its morning. The birds hidden in trees agree. The chorus builds, voice by voice. Louder. Louder. Urgent. Insistent.
Then a pause. A single note from the wind chimes begins it all again.

Deer and fawns under the apple trees.

Dennis tells me our yard is home to a doe and her fawns. The tiny, incredibly sour apples lure them into the open at various times of the day.
This morning the little ones, still wearing their spots nibble at the apples, then leap and twist while flinging the sour thing away. Mother continues to graze while her children cavort, there is no other word , in the clearing that is our lower yard.
I sit at the little table on the patio under the kiwi vines and watch, sip coffee, listen to the rustling of the trees in the morning breeze.
I am not yet spotted and the fawns delight in their dawn dance. Leaps, pirouettes, twists, and bows.
The garden beds need to be weeded. I think, for now, I’ll just sit and watch.

The Way of Worms

It rained Thursday. It rained quite a bit. I walked to the mailbox Friday, after the rain had stopped. As usual the gravel road was covered in worms. After every rain the worms are all wiggling across or down or whatever direction they want on the road. It is expected, it happens and has happened for many years.

On either side of the gravel road that leads to the county road where the mailbox is there are fields. These are heavily cropped fields usually are planted in corn or soybeans. There was that one glorious summer when flax was planted, but that was so long ago and it exists only as a fleeting anomaly in the history of these fields. (What was that farmer thinking? Flax?)

The eastern field is plowed and disced every spring. Discing, for the non farmers is the act of dragging a long row of metal circles placed on edge across a newly plowed field to break up the big clods of dirt. If the field has been covered in manure (before plowing) the disc helps break and distribute the manure into the soil where it can do more good. And yes, there is a reason for these farming details.

The western field is “No till.” This is supposed to be a better method of farming since it requires less tractor and machinery going over the field, hence less soil compaction. The field is planted with a drill, a large planter with rows of sharp fingers that drag through the dirt while spitting seed in the  narrow trench formed. I am no agriculturist, I just watch two different farmers with two different methods of farming plant, fertilize, pesticide and harvest these two fields.

What I have noticed over the years, is that the yields of the two fields is not that much different. The weed cover is not much different between the fields. In fact, except for the couple days when the eastern field is plowed, there isn’t much difference in the fields at all.

Here’s where the worms come into the picture.

All the years I have walked the road that separates these two fields, after a rain, there were worms on the road. I assume,(not a field biologist either) the worms are coming from the fields. I don’t mind worms, I feel a little guilty when I have to drive over them, and I try not to step on them when walking. But generally I have no emotional reaction to worms. Worms are worms, doing what worms do and so on.

I have noticed a change in the quantity and quality of the worms on the road over the course of all these years. Those first years of walking among the worms, I was impressed with the size and number of worms on the road. The worms were the long, fat pinky brown worms; nightcrawlers. They were thick around as a crayon- one of those kindergarten sized crayons, and very long…worms that stretched easily past a foot in length. They were all over the road, and up onto the black tops. It was impossible to not step on the worms. And they were moving, going somewhere, contracting and stretching and curling and rolling. It was like a huge worm occupation on the road.

I did say I don’t mind worms, but, as with anything, when there are so many of them the road appears to be moving, squirming under foot, I get a little repulsed.  I don’t like crowds, crowds of any kind.

On Friday’s walk to the mailbox I noticed the worms were out again. It wasn’t the same. The worms on the road were skinny, short, dark brown and dead. These were paltry shadow worms. There weren’t many of them. And they were dead, curled up, and drying out shells.

This is not the first time I have noticed a decline in the size and vigor of the worms on the road after a rain. In fact, I have noticed in past springs when there were no worms on the roads around here. There were times, in the past, when it was dangerous to drive the county roads after a heavy rain because the worm guts were so slippery it was like driving on ice.

Ewwwwww! Slimey roads are not fun. Worm guts however are not as bad or ewwwwy as say, frog guts.  Drive along a swamp some night in spring and watch for the frogs leaping in the headlights. Although, again, that is a vision of the past and not so much anymore.

So where are the fat happy worms of other rainstorms? I have to conclude that these worms are gone. They have left the fields and have moved on to other places, or just don’t exist anymore.

And who can blame them. Poor worms. Have you seen the state of the dirt in most farm fields? As far as a growing medium, it is as dead and sterile as dirt can be. Nutrients for crops come from big barrels attached to sprayers that crisscross the fields after planting.  Pesticides and herbicides are now applied directly to the seed and augmented with “pre-emergent”s. And then there is the two or three sprayings of more chemicals once the plants are growing. At the end of the season the fields are picked clean; so little of the chaff and stalks and leaves are left when the wind blows across the field in winter the snow turns brown.  The old practice of spreading manure from the farm animals on the fields is no more, or the ratio of animal waste to field acreage is so small the fields only get manure once every three or four or five years.   The dirt around here does nothing but hold the plants upright.

So, this dirt is nothing to worms. What worm can survive, must less grow fat and long and wiggly, without something to eat and turn into rich nutrient worm castings?

Friday I also worked in the garden. It is too early/ cold/ wet to plant anything yet, but I wanted to see if the asparagus was up and that meant cleaning the asparagus beds of the leaves and debris from last summer. Wow, there, underneath the compost and leaves and asparagus stalks I found worms. Real worms, fat, long and pinky brown. Happy worms.

I know the influx of nightcrawlers to the forests has caused and is causing a change in the forest diversity. I understand too many of them can change the make up of the forest, clear the forest floor of beneficial cover and all that.  I also know that fat happy worms are a sign of a vibrant nutrient rich soil, dirt that can grow plants without the need for the fertilizers in a barrel and the pesticides and herbicides. All of which are based on another commodity that comes from the ground- oil.

Yesterday it was announced, confirmed, lamented: The proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere broke 400 parts per million Thursday, according to one of the best climate records available. So why worry about a few worms? All the indicator species that have studied, watched, counted, and analysed are saying the same thing and yet we continue to ignore the warnings, disregard the signs, and insist that we must maintain the status quo.  I just think of those skinny short, curled up and dead worms on the road. Nothing to eat, overheated, nothing to drink. We are all headed the way of worms.

I smell dead things

Despite present conditions in the outer world (12 + inches of snow ) and some pissed off robins trying to figure out what sort of hell they have landed in, it really is spring here in Wisconsin.  Oops, just lost another tree limb.

Anyway, I know it is spring because the humidifier that has been running all winter in an effort to provide a little moisture in the house has stopped running continuously. That is because we have stopped feeding wood into the wood burning stoves that heat the house. The ground outside is also thawing and that means the basement floor is getting damp. Spring, that great purveyor of wet. Okay, so today it is in the form of snow and that is weird and record breaking in a freaky foot of snow on May 2nd! sort of way. It will melt, thermodynamics and position of the sun above the horizon and all that blather that is reassuring while people revel in the whole “Wow! It’s snowing in May!”

Again distractions aside, spring means moisture returning to the house. In the bathroom, I smell dead things. Damp basement, and inevitably the smell of decomposing bodies somewhere down there.

I imagine mice bodies in the crawl space. It’s an old house, there is a crawl space under part of the house. It is full of spider webs, desiccated Japanese lady beetles and surely some mice cadavers.

Yesterday I told Dennis I smelled dead things. He went into the basement, walked around.  Upon coming back up stairs he declared the basement free of dead things. He couldn’t find the smelly dead things. He said he didn’t smell anything in the basement.

Perhaps the dead smelly things are in the furnace ducts? Or the crawl space? He sprayed some air freshener in the bathroom. I didn’t go in the bathroom for a few hours. Air freshener makes me sneeze.

When I did go into the bathroom I smelled dead things, covered in perfume.

This morning I still smell dead things.

It is May 2nd.  There is a foot of snow on the ground outside the house. It is still snowing, hard, there will be further accumulations. We have restarted the wood burning stoves to warm up the house. The hummidifer is going again. Despite all the signs, I know it is spring. I smell dead things.