Archive for the ‘air quality’ category

the moon!

July 15, 2008

Last night the smoke cleared and I saw the moon! It’s been so long since I’d seen it I had to go look in the newspaper to find out if it was waning or waxing. I still felt terrible yesterday and spent most of the day lying down and reading old Calvin Trillin essays. Funny how in politics the names change and are forgotten (at least by me) but the same stuff just keeps happening over and over.

So back to work again today. I am not looking forward to it. I have a group coming for storytime before the library even opens. I know I don’t have the strength to deal with all the piles of work that have built up in the last week and a half. Plus there were already a few piles of things from before my surgery, because my little one-person branch has been so busy this summer I often can’t think beyond the moment I’m in. Living in the moment. That sounds very zen but it has led to over-tiredness and clutter. I have to find some balance. Where does one find balance? I’ll bet it’s hiding at the beach.

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bad air

July 10, 2008

The first really smoky day I was walking the dog and the thought crossed my mind, maybe I shouldn’t be out in this. But then, bounding up out of some storage area of my brain came the long-forgotten litmus test of my childhood: Does it hurt to breathe? Nope. Keep walking.

A few days later a woman was kvetching about some outdoor happening that had been cancelled due to air quality. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I’m from LA….” Stop right there! I know what you mean! Does it hurt to breathe? Well, what are you doing, taking such big breaths, anyway?

It’s funny that I hadn’t thought about that in more than 30 years, and yet it came back to me like an automatic reflex. All those school years being forced to run around outside during gym class, when it did hurt to breathe, but nobody with any authority cared. The brown horizon, where there had once been mountains. The politician who made a speech while standing outside about how clear the air was, when you could see the pollution all around him. (Who would vote for such a blatant liar, I remember thinking. Everybody. He became mayor, and then later senator, and then finally governor. It was the emperor’s clothes with a twist: point to something that’s there and say it isn’t.)

Luckily for me, back in those days my house was close enough to the ocean to blow away the worst air most of the time. I wish I was there now. “Permanent damage to your lungs!” the TV keeps saying. What about my newly carved out sinus passages? I should be sitting in a sealed house with the air system set on recirculate, but I just don’t have that kind of house or cooling system.

It goes without saying that I’m better off than people with asthma or a heart condition, or a burned-up house. I’m not a little baby and I’m not elderly. It could be worse, it could be better, but it doesn’t rain here until the winter, so even if they manage to put out the fires, I’m afraid the bad air isn’t going anywhere soon.

more smoke

June 25, 2008

Air conditions here are officially “very unhealthy.” Looking out my windows I get the feeling I’m on the coast, with fog shrouding nearby trees, only of course it’s smoke. And it’s hot, not cold. The fires are all miles away from us but it’s just there’s so many of them.

I have all the windows closed, something I never do. I wanted to turn on our little window air conditioning unit, but I heard on the radio to put your air conditioners on recirculate, and there was no recirculate option that I could see. I wondered if “energy saver” was the same thing, but when I finally found the manual all it said about that option was “select energy saver mode for energy saving operation.” Okay thanks. Then I noticed an illustration that pretended to show me how to close the vent for “internal air circulation,” but the lever in the picture was not to be found on my real live machine. Finally I found a note: “position the vent lever straight by pulling Part A out and snapping it into place.” I think this was supposed to have been done before we installed it. I needed a flashlight and a crochet hook to finally find the hidden Part A and pull it into place, but it didn’t “snap,” and peering into the depths of the air conditioner with my flashlight while I pushed the lever one way and the other, it didn’t seem to make any changes anywhere. So I don’t know. I turned it on anyway, because it’s hot and stuffy in here.

I have been having a headache pattern of migraine day, no-pain day, migraine day, no-pain day. I am afraid to take aspirin because of surgery next Wednesday, and Tylenol is useless, and I took ibuprofen once for a toothache and got a headache so I never took another one, so I am taking too many naratriptan. Luckily I was able to hoard some of the triptan during a couple of good months, so my insurance company is unable to stop me from taking as many as I need, but I personally don’t think I should be taking that many, anyway. But it’s summer library program time and I’m busy and have children’s programs to either conduct or oversee, and it’s bad enough I’m going to miss a week and a half in July. I’ve done storytimes with a migraine plenty of times in my life, running on adrenaline I guess, but it was never a good thing.

smoke

June 23, 2008

I could see it was a little smoky outside but I took the dog for a walk anyway. When I got to the end of my block I turned to look toward the hills to my east, to see if there was any visible fire there, but I couldn’t see the hills. It was too smoky. So we went on our short route, which takes about half an hour. By the time we got back to my block I tried to look at the hills again, but this time I couldn’t even see the end of the street, which is about four blocks away. I think the nearest big fire is at least 30 miles away, but lightning has caused a lot of little fires.

Every time I sat down to write in here the last couple of weeks, I would write about smoke and my head hurting, but then I would delete it because so many people in nearby communities had actual bad problems, like losing their houses or outbuildings or vehicles or animals, or maybe everything turned out all right but they had to pack up and evacuate on a scary, fire-threatened route that took hours to traverse but in normal times takes about twenty minutes. Reading about that, I vowed to never let my gas tank get below half-full again, a vow I have already broken! Good grief.

Anyway, it’s really smoky but I took the dog for a walk anyway, because I am going in for sinus surgery July 2 and I feel so unhealthy from lack of exercise this past year that I feel like I should try to get in better shape. By the first of July. Good luck, me. And I need to finish the patio by then, too. It’s nearly done but I’ve run out of bricks.