August, 2017 browsing by month


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Monsoons have been going strong for about a month now. The garden is now in a state at which I’m afraid to walk around it. The rains have led to waist-high grass and beds with viney crops growing a foot or more every day and weeds that are impossible to keep up with.

Along with the crazy plant growth, this time of year brings an explosion of bugs. As in my youth, I am bug-bitten and riddled with allergies, but still love the monsoons.

This morning, I went into the greenhouse to find about 20 of these caterpillars on one plant. There were none yesterday. Are they good or bad? I don’t know (but have since determined that they are eastern swallowtail butterfly larva and are not harmful but are partial to dill, which perhaps they mistook my parsley for…now that I think about it, I may know just the butterfly that laid these eggs. It was stuck in the greenhouse one night, and I freed it the next morning.). I didn’t want to kill them if they weren’t harmful, but didn’t want to leave them to continue to multiply, so decided to cut the plant (it was an herb going to seed anyway) and heave it over the fence.

It’s a good day to be solar

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

(written on 8/10/17)

This morning I woke up and as usual, I checked my tablet for notifications. I found no Internet access. I checked the wireless, which seemed fine, and so went over to the office to check my desktop computer. No Internet access there either.

I spent a half hour or so resetting the router and trying all the things we do when we have Internet problems, but to no avail. Finally, I realized that we had no phone service either. That explained the Internet outage.

That isn’t completely unusual, but with no cell access here, I’d have to drive somewhere to call our local phone co-op to put in a service request.

In the spirit of mindfulness, I decided to do my morning yoga first. (Fortunately, I have a few yoga sessions saved offline for just this kind of times.)

After yoga, I hopped in the truck and drove off to Rodeo. I can usually get a cell signal there, but not today. I saw a few people congregated in front of the local café and so asked them if they had phone service. (Often phone outages here are very localized to a small area.)

“No phone. No power. Not here or in Portal or in Animas.”

Oh, that’s not good.

I had a couple work calls scheduled for this morning, so I decided to drive towards Animas until I could get a signal to at least text people to reschedule.

Once I got a signal and sent the texts, I called a friend of mine here to see how she was doing and to tell her what I knew about the scope of the problem.

“Forty-eight hours is what we hear.”

Oh, that’s worse.

On the way home, I stopped by the local post office, which is a hub of our community. Several people were there exchanging news, and I was able to confirm that 48 hours was the expected outage and that it was widespread. There had been a big storm north of us (ironically, we got no rain at all at our house), and 25 poles had been knocked out.

I let our postmaster know that if anyone had a “power emergency,” she could send them our way since we have solar. Yes, with solar, we have power, even though the rest of area is out. (This has saved us several fridge/freezers full of food as well as other inconveniences.)

Listening to everyone talk, it seemed like it could have been a hundred years ago. People gathering at a central spot to share news, tell stories, offer help, and laugh together.

One thing I learned is that even cell service would be ending soon, since the towers use power and apparently only have a limited power backup. (Imaging end times is a popular pastime here so this got my mind going.)

With big storms supposed to be rolling in this weekend (though I now have no access to a weather forecast), I wonder if it might be longer than 48 hours.

There isn’t a lot of work I can get done with no email or Internet, so today will be spent doing some offline projects and baking for the market tomorrow. (I already had the dough ready before this happened, so I might as well bake.) I’m also going to do some writing, send some postcards, edit some video, and of course, work in the garden. With no baseball or movies tonight, I’ll curl up with a good book, which I have several in a stack waiting for me.

This makes me reflect on how dependent we are on the Internet and more broadly on other infrastructure that we have little control over. It is simultaneously a little worrying and kind of quaint. For the next few days, I will hunker down here and live like everyone did not so long ago, glad for my solar power, for offline pleasures, and for my large stores of food and comfortable house.

(written the evening of 8/11/17…the end of day 2)

I had a lovely day yesterday, enjoying a relaxing and guiltless day of non-work. I finished two books I had been mid-way with and then read another whole book that was very enjoyable. (If the Internet doesn’t come back soon, I may catch up on my Goodreads goal.) I also baked for market, edited a video I’d been putting off, and organized some things.

I often imagine a dream life (“When I win the lottery…”) of no email and no phone, and this day of that lived up to my expectation.

I didn’t realize though how many times a day I consult the Internet for other things, especially living where we do. Checking the weather, reading the news, listening to music, looking up a new word or idea, chatting with friends. And I did miss all of that.

This morning, I got up and checked the phone, which was still out. I got ready for the market as I normally do on Fridays and drove into town. Going through Rodeo, I noticed lights were on, meaning power was back there. When I got to Portal, there were sporadic reports of phone service returning. By the time I left at 1:00, the library had Internet again.

When I returned home, phone service had returned but still no Internet. I reset the router again and tried to be patient. Finally, after a few hours, I called our local phone co-op and Internet provider. They said there were no known issues and passed me on to technical support hell. That began a cycle of troubleshooting questions and “escalations” that has as of yet not resulted in Internet service being restored.

What was quaint and enjoyable yesterday has now grown old.

Eventually, I imagine that our tall cowboy service guy will come out to the house and fix things. He seems to be the only competent person at our phone co-op, and we are fortunate that he is the one we interact with face-to-face when it comes to that.

Stay tuned….

(written afternoon of 8/12/17… day 3)

Frustration set in today.

No word from our co-op and no success after resetting the router every hour or so…until about 2pm when the Internet mysteriously came back on. There was no visit for our service guy, so the problem was something out of our area, as I suspected.

It’s good to be online again.

Now to catch up on the long list of things that has accumulated.