not going well

I have to say, Spring is not going well this year. The rain that started yesterday kept on pissing down all night and this morning, but we’re pretty lucky to get nothing worse than that.  Not much farther north, they’re talking about having to shovel several inches of snow, drifting, and other unpleasantness.  I’m pretty sure if I’d looked out the window and seen snow this morning, I’d have just gone back to bed.

[Added: Spoke too soon about “nothing worse than that.” Light snow flurries began to fall after the lunch hour and continued through the afternoon, but without accumulation, thank goodness.]


Everybody who’s out walking today is wearing short sleeves and most are in shorts. It’s the typical reaction to an unseasonably warm day in Wisconsin, but instead of “unseasonably warm” being in the high forties or low fifties, this afternoon we’ve got temps in the seventies! So instead of saying just “unseasonably warm,” I should be saying “freakishly unseasonably warm,” if for no other reason than I felt like a freak in my long-sleeved shirt and trousers.

I’d been down the basement all morning, working up spread sheets to figure out if we would save enough money by refinancing our mortgage to make it worth our while – turned out we would pay almost ten times the closing costs less on our interest over ten years, so YES! – and I’d caught a bit of a chill. When the weather warms up, the basement gets colder because the furnace isn’t running all the time. I don’t think I heard it fire up all morning, in fact, so I was cold enough to put on a long-sleeve t-shirt, a flannel shirt and a jacket before heading out the door. Turned right around and went back in to ditch the jacket when, three steps from the front stoop, I realized I would be way too hot if I wore it. Peeled out of the flannel shirt after walking for about fifteen minutes, too.

I would normally be very reluctant to declare that spring is here, in spite of the season— excuse me, freakishly unseasonable weather, if not for the robin I heard singing in the neighbor’s tree when I went out to get the paper this morning. A robin! I’m sure there’s a far more objective sign of spring, but just one singing robin did an awful lot to lift my spirits this morning, and when I saw wood violets blossoming along the curb of someone’s front lawn that I passed as I walked home from the library this afternoon, my favorite e.e. cummings poem popped into my head:

spring, omnipotent goddess, thou dost
inveigle into crossing sidewalks the
unwary june-bug and the frivolous angleworm
thou dost persuade to serenade his
lady the musical tom-cat,thou stuffest
the parks with overgrown pimply
cavaliers and gumchewing giggly
girls and not content
Spring, with this
thou hangest canary-birds in parlor windows

spring slattern of seasons you
have dirty legs and a muddy
petticoat,drowsy is your
mouth your eyes are sticky
with dreams and you have
a sloppy body
from being brought to bed of crocuses
When you sing in your whiskey voice
               the grass
rises on the head of the earth
and all the trees are put on edge

of the jostle of
thy breasts and the slobber
of your thighs
i am so very
               glad that the soul inside me Hollers
for thou comest and your hands
are the snow
and thy fingers are the rain,
and i hear
the screech of dissonant
flowers,and most of all
i hear your stepping
               freakish feet
               feet incorrigible
ragging the world,


Slowly, tentatively, I’m adjusting to the warm(er) weather. Monday night, I peeled off the topmost quilt layer on my side of the bed. On the other half of the bed, My Darling B was sleeping with, I think, just a sheet, and laughing at me. She’s always been the warm one, and I’ve always been the one who has to bundle up.

Even though I rolled back the topmost quilt, that still left me with a quilt over a blanket, more than enough, I thought, to keep me warm all night. It was more than enough, all right. I woke up after about an hour because I was too hot and had to peel off another layer. Also because I had gas, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the quilt.

It was just a little cooler last night so I had to keep the blanket and the quilt on all night, and the morning commute is going to be a bit of a test to see just how badly I want to keep biking to work. At least I don’t have the chills all day in the office.

The ride to work is a lot easier thanks to the NEW! NEW! NEW! pavement that was laid along the first mile or so of Monona Drive. When they widened it, they were even good enough to mark off three feet from the curb for a bike lane so the SUVs, pickups and delivery trucks aren’t grazing me as they go past. Shooting the bottleneck between Buckeye Road and Cottage Grove Road still gets my heart going, but it’s a short distance, maybe two hundred yards long, and at seven in the morning the traffic isn’t all that thick yet. If it is, I ride on the sidewalk all the way to the bike trail. Might as well; there are no pedestrians.


It’s almost warm enough now to go out without a jacket on. I won’t say that it’s comfortable, only that we’re headed in the right direction.

The part about not being comfortable doesn’t stop anyone from running around in no more than a pair of shorts. This is Wisconsin, after all, the land where people are crazy enough to go out in shorts and a t-shirt when the snow melts and the temps finally climb up to forty degrees. After a long winter much like the one we just had, it’s necessary.

But I’m not there yet. As the years have passed I’ve grown less able to resist the cold and my fingers especially lose heat so easily that I take special precautions to keep myself insulated all through the winter season now. I used to chuckle when I told people how my mother wore long underwear from the end of September until April or May, but I’m made of the same stuff she is, after all, and because the office where I work apparently doesn’t have the money to heat the rooms one degree above sixty-eight, I’ve been wearing long-sleeve undershirts for the past four months. It’s either that or wear gloves, and I need nimble fingers to work the keyboard of my computer.


I think our dusty house may be trying to kill us.

By the time we get to the end of the winter season, when the windows have been closed more or less continuously since October, our house has dust bunnies so numerous that the president takes them off the endangered species list. Granted, that’s mostly our fault. We could be more diligent about hunting them down. It seems like such a waste of time, though, when there are still books I haven’t read, naps I haven’t taken and web sites I haven’t doinked away the afternoon poking through.

This year has been especially dusty. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been remarkably non-diligent about cleaning. I don’t doubt that could be the case, but I’m not ready to make that admission yet. It could just be an especially bad year for dust. The cats have been shedding quite a lot. I’d feel a lot better about blaming it on them than taking responsibility of it myself. Tell me you wouldn’t do the same.

And up until now, having a dusty house hasn’t been a problem, so we haven’t wasted a lot of thought to mull over how to make it less dusty, or energy to do anything about cleaning it up. This year, though, we discovered that a dusty house is, in fact, a problem. This year it’s come to light that dust can make you really, really sick.

My Darling B ventured into the basement last weekend to clean up the room where she starts her garden vegetables under a bank of grow lights. Really, just veggies. Tomatoes and peppers. Nothing else. If this was a basement operation for growing other things people seem to be growing in there basements year-round, B’s growing area wouldn’t need a clean-up every spring to clear away the stacks of boxes, magazines and whatever else gets thrown in the basement “just for now.”

She cleared all the collected junk away first, then swept up the floor. An hour or two later she had a nasty cough. The next morning she was coughing up lung cookies. She thought it was a relapse of the chest cold she’d been suffering the week before, but the doctor she visited said her symptoms sounded like an allergy, and she she asked B what she’d been doing right before the coughing started and B told her, the blame fell on the dust.

Kay. That made sense, given that we already know our house is infested with dust bunnies and that B got the hacking ickies last year at about this time. First thing I did the night she got back from the doctor’s was change the furnace filter because I don’t know when I did that last. Probably last fall, but maybe a year ago. Maybe more. I always forget to write the date on the side of the filter. Didn’t forget this time, though.

And after summer I vacuumed the basement stairs where some of the biggest dust bunnies have been hanging out. It’s been live and let live up to this point, but I have to draw the line when they keep My Darling B up nights.

Then today when we did our housecleaning today we vacuumed and wiped and dusted like maniacs. And B’s been looking for a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter, a high-priced acronym meaning that it’s supposed to clean all the dust out of the air and/or all the money out of your wallet.