We always put off turning on the heat. As September rolled towards Equinox, with fuel prices still hanging impossibly high, we put it off over and over again.

"I'm cold."

"We could turn on the heater."

"Um, well. I guess ... never mind. I'll find the wool socks."

or ... "Nyssa is crying."

"Cover her up."

"She is covered up."

"Oh ... maybe we should turn on the heat."

"Well ... I'll just give her another blanket."

Mornings are brisk, but we are out the door quickly. Nights aren't bad, with quilts and down comforters and wool blankets. We probably have enough to survive a nuclear winter - which isn't far from what we have up here for nine months anyway. But when you are reading in bed under eight layers of insulation and your hands get too numb to hold the book, it is time to give in.

Last week, after Peter harvested the rest of our carrots and parsnips, I brought an outside thermometer into the cabin. When I saw that it was still reading below fifty in the middle of the afternoon, I went out to start our stove up for the season. We almost managed to make it to Equinox with no heat, but not quite. Maybe next year.

After much wrangling with our landlord, we did manage to get our windows, eaves and floor-edges re-sealed, and an arctic entry installed around our drafty front door. When she came by to take a look in May and realized that no, we weren't exaggerating when we said we could see daylight around all four sides of the door and around the purlins on the ceiling, she agreed to do some work. I wish we'd had this conversation a year ago, but suffice to say we won't be using quite as much heating oil this winter.

[Arctic Entry - and empty garden boxes ...
above - door hinge, inside, mid-winter]

Last weekend, I worked as an EMT for the Equinox Marathon that runs from the University up Ester Dome (a Dome, in Alaska, is a Really Big Hill ... it is not an easy Marathon.) I was hoping for pretty views of Denali and the Tanana Valley as we watched runners struggle by, but instead we parked the ambulance in a cloud and spent the marathon warming up runner after runner with numb hands and mild hypothermia. It was a nippy morning down at the start, but nobody was dressed for the cloud of sleet at the top of the long climb. Although I felt pretty lazy watching seven hundred people limp past shivering and soaked, sitting in my warm ambulance studying RSI drug dosages and downing bowls of chili our fire chief's wife brought up for us, I was just as happy to put off my own attempt for yet another year. Especially when we started getting runner after runner with a dozen bee stings from running through a nest on the trail.

[Denali from Ester Dome ... on a clear day]
That evening, I managed to pass this year's Medic agility test with a minute and a half to spare -completing it at all being miracle in itself given my current state of endurance. Then Sunday night, I showed up at the University Rec Center for a league indoor-soccer game. Only five Paramedic students showed up, and we played against a team of sixteen undergraduates - eight of them on the court at a time against our five. Given the odds, and the fact that the other team actually knew how to PLAY soccer, I thought our 5-2 loss was pretty impressive. Especially since one goal was a header off a perfect corner kick by yours truly that didn't go where I intended but ended up perfectly placed for another teammate anyway and the other was a fluke I managed to tap past the goalie as I attempted to keep myself from tripping over the ball and doing a nose-dive. Apparently everyone on the other team thought I did it on purpose and were thoroughly impressed. I am not going to relieve them of that impression. The short of it is that as the oldest player on the court by seven years, I was feeling my oats for the first time and wishing I still had an inhaler, but I managed to show the Impertinent Youths how things are done regardless of my inability to breathe for most of the game. I have been limping ever since.

Paramedic clinicals have started in earnest, and true to form I am already behind on paperwork. I spent last week in L&D watching babies get born in various ways and with various complications, and I feel like I learned more in those three days than I have in the five weeks of eight-to-five note-scribbling classroom frenzy preceding them. This week I had the Colonoscopy Special all day Monday in Outpatient procedures, where I learned the ins and outs of conscious sedation. Then last night and this evening I'm scheduled to skulk around the ER like a true trauma junkie.

Last night, while trying - and failing - to get an IV on an abdominal patient, I missed two ... count them TWO ... gunshot wounds. Truth is, though, I learned a lot more from hanging with the abdominal through his eventual admission than I would have from a couple of lucky-as-hell boys who both got an expensive lesson in very, very basic gun safety along with their discharge instructions.


Jesper said...

It's nice to have a best friend as inspiration. Keep the stories coming. =) Love you.

Tara said...

I was reading your heating saga thinking, "damn, it was twenty below last night, I hope they turned the heat on." Then I noticed the date. lol