Sunday, January 31, 2010

homesick for New Orleans

Our daughter has been wanting to listen to "Mardi Gras music" (ie: Zydeco) for the last couple days and it's making me homesick for being down in the New Orleans area. I really fell in love with Mandeville when we were down there in fall and New Orleans has so much great stuff for kids not to mention the food and not to mention all the relatives. I still think it's a losing proposition to get my husband to move back to the deep South though. Although he's got both me and our daughter wanting to move there.

Yesterday I went out to see Girlfriend and took my neighbor, Cheryl who wanted to watch some of the lessons to get an idea if it would be a good place for her granddaughter to take lessons. Unfortunately, we got out there and Sheryl, the instructor, was out of town. She's in Stockton, CA at a chicken show with her friends (I don't just mean her chicken friends ... she has human friends who go to those things with her too). The teens were there exercising Sheryl's horses since there were no lessons. She has one bay named Bailey who in his hey-dey was a WA state dressage champion and I suddenly got the idea in my head that I wanted to ride one of her horses.

I've ridden Doc the absolute beginner-of-beginners lesson horse and Texas the "just a little bit more advanced" lesson horses but Sheryl wants me to learn how to ride my horse so I usually take lessons on her. But my horse is quite different to ride than the lesson horses. For one she is not trained English and for two, well, she is Girlfriend. She is "the hottest horse Sheryl has ever seen".

One big difference with Bailey is he is big. So, it was a little harder for me to get on even with the mounting block. My stirrups were too short which didn't help, so when I was up on him, I swung my leg forward and changed the stirrup length which I could never do on Girlfriend because she'd just dance off on me (standing still is not her strong point). Then I was amazed how much it took to get him to listen to me. With Girlfriend I swear I just think our commands and she does them, I barely use any rein, I barely us any leg and she instantly complies. I had to give Bailey an actual little kick to get him to walk on and had to really use my leg to get him to stay on the outside of the arena, or go on the inside track when Sarah was cantering with Oh No (which is quite a feat since Oh No pretty much only likes to sleep).

Bailey's trot was very different too. It felt like a rocking horse just gently swaying back and forth and you could just sit quietly on his back while he trotted and feel very comfortable. I've never ridden a horse with a trot like that! I wonder if that's what it's like to ride a gaited horse? I couldn't get him to canter though because when I'm riding Girlfriend I just think "canter" and she will (or I just stop trying to hold her back). But with Bailey (since I wasn't using a crop) I had to actually kick him and I just don't know how to sit quietly and kick a horse to canter anymore. I tried just squeezing with my leg and he ignored me, so I gave him a good kick with my outside leg and immediately lost my stirrup (and he ignored me). I guess I'll just have to use a crop when riding him, but I haven't used a crop in over 20 years so I was hesitant to try without Sheryl there to remind me how.

It reminded me that I need to ride other horses too because I'm so used to Girlfriend and I feel super green as soon as I get on a different horse. Well, not super green, we walked and trotted just fine and my seat was fine, it's just I'm not used to actually have to work to get my message across to a horse.

My neighbor Cheryl said it seems to her that since Girlfriend is my first horse, it will be hard for me to ever have another horse that is not hot like her and I agreed. You'd think it would be easier to ride a calmer horse but it's actually harder now because it's like going from whispering all the time to communicate with someone to suddenly being told they won't hear you unless you scream and yell at the top of your lungs. Plus, beautiful and graceful as Bailey is, it felt like there was something missing when I was riding him. There was none of that spirit and just overwhelming excitement and love for life that Girlfriend has. She is definitely a very special horse.

Friday, January 29, 2010

day off

I didn't realize until two days ago that there was no school today so we have an impromptu enforced day off. It's not raining so I'm thinking today would be a good day for my daughter practicing bike riding or roller blading. I'm really in need of some out door time after being sick for a week.

I spent the day at work in Pioneer Square yesterday catching up on everything. I took Willow (the pitbull) since I knew I'd be there the whole time my daughter was at school (had I had some foresight to set up a playdate for her I could've been there longer).

I was walking Willow under the viaduct and thinking about the chapter I'm currently reading in Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck when he travels into Seattle. The year is 1960, seven years before I was born and around the time that my parents met each other when they were at the UW. I remember downtown Seattle from when I was really little in bits and pieces of imagery and the rest of my impression is what the adults said about it in my presence as opposed to my personal three or five or seven year old impression. I remember them talking about all the bums in downtown (not "homeless" but the guys who drink themselves into oblivion and live on the street corners). And I remember them talking about crime and drugs down by Pike Place Market and I remember all the bright, pretty neon strip club signs on First Avenue. They called Pioneer Square "skid row" and that seemed to mean it was full of drug dealers and alcoholics. And when I talk about "downtown" I'm literally talking about from Bell Town to Pioneer Square and from the waterfront up to about Boren. Capitol Hill and First Hill were not considered "downtown" at least by us back then. First Hill was "pill hill" where the hospitals were and the artists lived in their apartments in old, classic architecture apartment buildings.

So, it's interesting to read Travels with Charley and hear that John Steinbecks impression of Seattle in 1960 was very similar to my memory of Seattle of an only slightly later time. I guess I had always assumed that my parents - being parents - had a very different view of it. A more critical, exaggerated "it's so much worse than it really is" view of it. It's also interesting to hear what John Steinbecks impression of Seattle from the 1940's was like. I've heard a little about it from my dad, who grew up on Beacon Hill on Warsaw Street, but I haven't heard a lot.

Eventually the viaduct is getting torn down which to me is a bummer. I realize it is the last place any of us want to be in "the big one" earthquake, but it has been there my whole life and I can't even count how many times I've traveled across it. Coming from the southwest end of the city we always took the viaduct to get into downtown. It has one of the best views in Seattle. Besides the Space Needles of course. Well, and now the bathrooms at the top of the Columbia Tower.

Diamond is now obsessed with going outside to hunt. A couple days ago she followed me outside when I went to feed the chickens and then I couldn't find her. I looked all over the house then looked around the backyard and finally found her when the chickens started squawking and flying around in panic because she'd snuck up on the backside of their run and pounced at the chicken wire.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally coming out of the dark abyss

My daughter was sick for about six days a couple weeks ago with a virus that really wiped her out, but for some reason I was under the illusion I would not catch it or it would not be too bad. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I think taking my dose of Enbrel last Wednesday night and coming down with the virus Thursday morning made it worse since Enbrel lowers my immune system.

Long story short, Thursday my chest and back burned and ache whenever I took a deep breath and I felt fatigued but I was hoping it would just be temporary. I hosted Campfire after school and couldn't wait for it to end so I could go lie down. I sent EJ to watch tv at 5:30 and laid down in bed and that was the end of that. By 9pm everything hurt so badly I couldn't get comfortable and when I tried to get out of bed I was so weak I blacked out and collapsed. I was horribly nauseous and it was work to take deep breaths so I was just taking very shallow, fast, labored breaths that made my chest burn. By midnight I couldn't take it any more so my husband called our next door neighbor to sleep at our house and took me to the ER. I tried to walk to the front door and ended up crawling and having to be carried. Luckily, EJ slept through all of this and we did not tell her about it in the morning. When she had heard I was sick when she went to bed last night she started crying and said she loved me and didn't want me to suffer.

The ER folks were really nice but I was miserable. They hooked me up to an EKG even though I said it felt like when I had pneumonia as a kid, not like a heart attack. They said they just had to be sure. Apparently, my electrolytes were all off so they gave me an IV to correct that and that did help some of the shakey, weak discomfort. The chest x-ray came back abnormal so I had to get a CT scan. There was talk of a blood clot in my lung which scared the heck out of me. Luckily, that was not the case. As it turned out, they couldn't find anything immediately life threatening so the doctor said he guessed somehow the virus had just hit me super hard and targeted my chest. He hesitantly said they'd discharge me (now by 4:30am I just wanted to be in my own comfy, quite bed in the dark) but to call if I had any symptoms of nausea, weakness, dizziness or chest pain ... then said, "Uh, I mean if they get worse since you have all those symptoms."

Went home, took some anti-nausea medication and slept a couple hours. Then felt absolutely horrible through all of Friday and Saturday and part of today. I couldn't eat, I had to keep taking anti-nausea medication so I could keep drinking fluid because every hour or so I would have much GI distress and lose everything. Most of what I did on Friday and Saturday was lie in bed and cry because I felt so awful. Finally, mid-way through today - Sunday - I could start eating a little bit again although the GI distress continues. This has been the worse virus I remember having. Stomach bugs should not last more than 24 hours. That's why cholera kills people you know! Thank God for anti-nausea medication and immodium.

The pitbull spent the majority of the last three days in bed with me which was nice. She is currenlty in bed with me but I'm not sure for how long because Christmas kitten is batting at her face trying to get her to play.

Yesterday was EJ's 6th birthday party and I had hired a guy to come out here with two ponies for the kids to ride so we couldn't cancel it. So, I spent about two hours on a make-shift bed of blankets on the floor in one of our bathrooms so as not to expose the kids to the hell virus. While everyone was outside I was able to watch a little from the front window and it was so cute. The guy who runs it seems really happy and I had a moment of thinking, "He's living my dream. He plays with horses and makes children happy." He had two teenage girls with him who seemed very good with the ponies and were thrilled when after all the girls had gotten rides, my husband humored the pitbull by taking her out to meet the ponies.

The pitbull is not very smart about horses despite being around them numerous times. She ran up and licked a pony's nose which pissed the pony off. Then she did her puppy jumps and spins in attempts to get them to play but they just looked at her like, "We don't play with predators! Hmmmph!" and went back to eating our grass in the parking strip. Once I took the pitbull out to the rescue farm that I used to volunteer at so she could play with the owner's rottweiler. But she ended up running out into the pasture where the babies were and tried to play with them. There were three out there at the time and they were actually kind of into it, but within about three minutes their mamas saw what was going on and freaked! They came charging at Willow and were spinning and kicking and I'm amazed she was actually able to avoid their flying hooves. Would've served her right to get kicked for not listening to me calling her and not running away from the angry mares, but I'm glad she didn't since the closest vet was 15 miles away.

I would've really like to have talked to the owner of the pony company yesterday and been there to be with the kids when they were brushing the ponies and riding them. Oh well. I'm extremely glad EJ got to have her party despite how sick I was.

I've been watching a lot of tv to get my mind off how miserable I've been. I watched The Electric Horseman which I remember going to see in the theater with my mom as a kid. I'm sure I didn't understand most of the movie at that age but just like when I was a kid I cried when they set Rising Star free to follow the Mustang herd. Of course there were a lot of things that I noticed were not realistic too. For one thing, I'd been taught that you never hold onto the horn on a saddle when you mount a horse, yet the "rodeo star" kept doing that.

Here's a video briefly explaining why you don't mount like that. I like this video because it's the only instructional video I've seen where the horse acts exactly like my horse when I mount. Most horses I see, especially in videos will just stand there as the person mounts but this horse does exactly what mine does - that perpetual dancing and walking off the minute my foot is in the stirrup. I've never seen a hot horse like that used in an instructional video before and it's nice to see. So many people think there is something wrong with my horse for doing that. I've been working with her to get her to not do it so much but it's nice to see an instructor say you need to mount correctly no matter if the horse stands still or walks off.

I also watched a show on hillbillies on the History channel today. There was a really interesting segment on the miners march on Blair Mnt in the 1920's and how a New York journalist coined the term "redneck" from the miners who were protesting dangerous and slave-like work conditions - wearing red bandanas as a sign of unity and to recognize one another.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So tired

My daughter was sick for the last six days and it was very stressful. I spent way too much time at home lying in my bed with her watching kid shows on the Disney channel and trying not to worry. She wasn't getting any better yesterday and seemed to be going downhill (she'd had really bad stomach pains the whole time and barely eaten anything) so when I called the doctor's office they said to bring her in for some tests. I was very proud of her that she wasn't scared of the x-rays or getting blood drawn. Apparently, 5-year old kids are very hard to draw blood from. One nurse said she was used to having to draw blood from kids while they hid behind the examining table or under the desk. EJ just held onto her stuffed bunny and closed her eyes really tight when they were about to stick the needle in her vein, then opened them and said, "Oh, that didn't hurt. That looks cool," when the blood started going out into the little tube. All the tests showed she had some sort of infection and lots of inflammation in her tummy, but they didn't know why. They said for me to take her home, watch how she was doing and they'd do a CT scan today if need be.

But this morning she woke up and announced she was hungry, gobbled down breakfast, ran around all day like a stir-crazy 5-year old, by afternoon was eating half the food in the house and singing and dancing all over the place. And bossing me around. Phwew! Back to normal!

Saturday I got a little respite from my constant worry by going out to see Girlfriend for a little bit. I didn't have much time so I just put on her hackamore and went out to the arena to try riding bareback for the second time in over 25 years. Besides that she tries to run off all the time in the arena, she is also very boney so I don't generally ride bareback.

Luckily, my instructor was teaching a lesson in the arena because when I got on Girlfriend I was thinking I didn't want to sit too close to her withers because she's gotten so sway-back but I didn't realize how far back I was sitting on her at first. My instructor yelled, "Move forward or she's going to buck," so Ilana, who was standing in front of me moved away from her. The instructor yelled again, "Move forward or she's going to buck!" which I thought meant "let her walk on" because she doesn't like to stand still. Meanwhile Girlfriend was starting to do some strange little freaked out dance. My instructor yelled my name and I realized, "Maybe she means I should move forward on Girlfriend" so I scooted forward and Girlfriend started to calm down. My instructor said, "You were practically sitting on her croup. You were right where the bucking strap goes. Your horse was just about to go bucking bronco on you." To which she also added, "Don't ride double on her." Good to know.

How I have managed to survive my last 18 months back with horses is beyond me. Had I known Girlfriend was an "experienced rider only" horse back when I hadn't ridden in 25 years and she hadn't been ridden in 3 years I wouldn't have gotten on her. After seeing what she did to Jessie I'm amazed I didn't get hurt riding her at first. Still, I can't imagine a better first horse for me than her. She's so amazingly well trained and sweet and I am learning a lot from her.

I ordered an English saddle off ebay that just got delivered today. It's a Wintec 2000 and only lightly used. It came with stirrup irons and everything for only $335 which is a great deal! I have to get a new gullet for it though because the one it currently has is probably too big for a small horse like Girlfriend. It will be good experience to have change the gullet myself. It's sitting next to the front door right now and smells really good. The cats keep going over and sniffing it and getting these really horrified looks on their faces.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

kitten suffocation

Christmas kitten really likes to snuggle up right under my chin, which is sweet, but after a little while makes me feel a little asphyxiated as she is basically lying on my windpipe. It's very sweet but quite possibly deadly.

I'm feeling much better today after dragging my sorry butt back to the doctor yesterday. I explained that I had been having trouble with my ears itching for many months and had been in to see my regular doctor (who was out that day so I saw her partner) and she'd not seen any problems and gave me hydrocortisone drops which did nothing. Then I saw a naturopath who said she saw nothing and told me to quit eating wheat, dairy and sugar and stop drinking coffee and I'd be fine. That was useless because I refuse to do that. Ok, I would do any of those things if there were a conclusive test showing that my body was intolerant of any of those substances, but I refuse to jump on the "I can't eat wheat because it is evil" band wagon when for centuries people have eaten wheat and been fine (unless they have Celiac disease which is not *that* common that everyone has it). I am more concerned about not eating weird laboratory created foods filled with chemicals like say ... over half the stuff they sell at the grocery store.

Ooops. I have digressed. So, I explained this to the doctor and said I was at the end of my rope and now on top of it all I was not hearing well out of one ear and there was a lot of pain and pressure. He looked in my ears and said I had some sort of dermatitis that was causing the itching and gave me some ear drops. And he said I had wax forming a kind of thick barrier in the back of my ear that was causing the problem. So, all that discomfort and loss of hearing was caused by ear wax. How anti-climactic. But also a big relief. So, they flushed out my ear with some little water pick type thing and then picked at it with a big scary sharp thing and my hearing came back and the pressure and pain went away. The room also was spinning a lot but luckily that was short lived. So, I felt much much better and am enormously relieved to finally have this particular discomfort taken care of.

Lately, I've been feeling really in need of control. Intellectually I know it is because a close friend died last summer and I'm trying to cope with the lack of control of having a chronic illness. But it is still an uncomfortable feeling. The stuff that really help - being in nature, riding my horse, spending time working outside is still so elusive it is frustrating. I only got to see Girlfriend once last week and probably only once this week because it takes so long to drive out there and back and I'm busy with work and being a mom this week. But even getting out and cleaning the chicken coop yesterday made me feel better. Taking Willow for a walk makes me feel better. I just wish I could get out into nature more for my walks instead of walking down city streets. Once again, I'm trying to find contentment with where I am but the question keeps coming up, "Why continue living a lifestyle I don't want to be living?" The answer is, because my husband does not feel there is any other way we could live. I wish I could come up with an answer that would work for us. I still have not found a way for us to make a living while living out in the country that does not include him having to commute to work for an hour or more to get to downtown Seattle. I continue to try and come up with some way we could earn a living *in* the country without him commuting and just haven't found the answer yet. I wonder if I ever will find the answer? We agreed we'd move in 2011 but if next year comes and I still don't have a plan, I seriously doubt my husband is going to agree to move to a farm and have an hour-one-way at best commute every day. I wish I knew the answer. I know there is one, I just haven't figured it out yet.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I need a pep talk

My ear hurts even more today and I can't hear very well out of it. I took Emma June to a kid party this morning and was having a hard time hearing what people on my right side were saying - or well, I could hear them but it sounded like they were in a tunnel and the ambient noise was making it harder to discern what was being said. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow. Again. I need my own reserved parking spot there in the winter.

I had planned to go out and see my horse today but I just wasn't feeling up to driving all the way out there. So, that was disappointing. And I just don't have much energy to do other stuff that needs to get done around the house. And in general, I am in a funk today. I've found myself thinking "Is this the way it's going to be for the rest of my life? Having no more than two or three weeks through the whole fall, winter and spring where I'm not sick and even those weeks aren't consecutive?" I could go off of my immune-suppressant drugs and maybe I wouldn't get sick so much, but then I would be crippled by the rheumatoid arthritis. Not much of a trade-off. I even had a brief moment where I thought, "Terrell is so lucky she is no longer burdened by a chronically sick physical body." Then I thought even thinking like that at all was a little too close to suicidal thoughts and sent that though process away.

In general, I cope with life and this decrepit little body by thinking "Tomorrow will be better. I'll feel better tomorrow." And sometimes I do feel better and I totally embrace that. And I focus on things that make me happy to take my mind off of always being physically uncomfortable and/or in pain. But sometimes I really stumble in my positive thinking and it's hard not to let that snowball into total self-pity. But I don't want to go there because it doesn't do anyone any good and it's a waste of time, energy and life. Still, I'm having a tough time right now accepting living in a body that just doesn't work very well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

equine wisdom

I went out to see Girlfriend this morning and wasn't feeling terribly inspired to ride. I was really going out there because I knew that it was what a horse-crazy girl does and even if I didn't feel like myself I should act like myself. I woke up and my right ear is so plugged I can barely hear out of it and it's annoying me. I had three ear infections last year and I'm trying to avoid that happening again. I couldn't help saying this morning that being in my body can be very cumbersome. It's true, living in a body with a nasty autoimmune disorder gets really tiring and is a huge test on one's patience and ability to roll with the punches.

So, I went out to the stable and asked my instructor, Sheryl some advice on English saddles and bits that I'm looking at purchasing for Girlfriend so we can ride English. She asked how Girlfriend's been and I said she'd been a bit pissy the last couple times we'd ridden. A lot like what she saw last Saturday when Ilana rode her for the first time. Ilana is sharing Girlfriend with me now - she's 14 and been riding for six years and doesn't have a horse of her own. She's very responsible and I think she and Girlfriend would be good for each other so I said if she's comfortable riding her that we could share her. Unfortunately for Ilana, the first day she rode her Girlfriend was all amped up and dancing and jigging everywhere.

I said I needed a lesson because I haven't had one for about two months and lucky for me Sheryl wasn't doing anything so I got to have an impromtu one. Every lesson I have even though it's only a half hour (technically - today's was a full hour) packs so much information into it. But the thing I dread about my lessons - which speaks volumes about me emotionally - is that I have to do stuff that makes me uncomfortable. I like my lessons because I learn so much but I am always having to do stuff that makes me nervous. Today it was mounting, dismounting and mounting again.

A couple weeks ago I was feeling the pressure to have a horse that doesn't walk away when you mount her (even though I've actually gotten good at mounting her with her starting to walk away as I'm swinging my leg over her. So, as soon as I mounted her I was giving her a hard pull as a correction and telling her to whoa. But then she'd throw her head and jump and if I did another hard pull back she'd throw her head and jig a little and try to bolt. Apparently, I was not giving her the right cues to stop and then freaking her out with too hard of a correction.

It just goes to show there is so much to learn. I was mounting her with her facing the wall assuming that would discourage her from walking forward as I got on her. Instead, I should mount her parallel to the wall because it is calming for her and give her a little pull on the reins and say "whoa" right before I mount, not right after. I only had to mount her four times before I got it perfect and she actually did stand still until I was in the saddle. The minute my butt was in the saddle though she started to walk, but she started to walk in a straight line very slowly and Sheryl said just to let her because she's too hot to stand still when someone gets on her back.

Then we were working on trotting which is always a challenge because Girlfriend does not like to trot. We were doing circles in half the arena and I was doing ok so Sheryl said to try trotting the full arena (which always is more of challenge because riding in a circle in the half the arena tends to keep hot horses a little calmer). We went around the arena twice, the whole time trotting the best I could keep her, mostly trotting and breaking a canter and slowing down again, then breaking a canter, then doing some weird half trot-half canter gait. Then Sheryl said, "Can you go around the arena ten times? Well, I mean I know Girlfriend can but can you?" and I said, "I don't know ..." and she said, "Yes, you can. I want you to go around the arena ten times and alternate sitting trot and posting." I had this moment of thinking, "Oh crap - there is no way I can make it ten times around this huge arena while keeping her at a trot." But I ended up doing it.

Then we had to canter and Sheryl gave me some pointers on how to get her to start on the right lead and there was a moment where it all came together and my body remembered how to give the exact right cues to get a horse to start on the right lead on the canter. But then we had to change rein (go the opposite direction) and it all kind of fell apart, but I stuck with it and got it a little. By the time our lesson was over I was exhausted and Girlfriend was drenched in sweat. But she was sure happy. She gave me lots of horse-hugs and nuzzles after our ride.

I told Sheryl that I get freaked out when I push myself riding Girlfriend because I worry that "this time I'm going to push her too far and she's going to freak out and throw me". Sheryl said, "Is that because you've seen her throw your friends?" to which I had to correct her, "My friend. She's only thrown one of my friends." But we did talk about how it is highly unlikely that she is going to freak out and throw me unless I suddenly lose all my knowledge of riding that I have so far, tense up my whole body and freak out on her first.

Sheryl has said that Emma June can try taking some lessons on Doc - her easiest lesson horse - if she wants even though she's just about six years old - two years younger than most kids start at the stable. I'm not sure if she'll have the concentration to actually take lessons yet but she's excited to try.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

green roofs, the loss of the word rooves

I'm not sure when words like "rooves" and "lept" became obsolete, or I'm not sure when I got so old. It just doesn't sound right when I'm reading a story and I read "He creeped across the room" or "she leaped off the bed". But it sounds like that is not a revolution that I'm going to win. Speaking of which, I was at the grocery store yesterday and had this sudden inspiration for a children's story called "Let's Start a Revolution". More on that once I get the first draft written.

Wow, my daughter just said, "Don't forget my homework. We have to do it now." If only that attitude would stick well into her teens!

So, I've been thinking about designs for a house in case we end up deciding to build our house in the country instead of buying an existing one. Last summer we went on a tour of a branch of the Seattle Public Library that has a green roof. I'm not sure what the benefits are except for using rain water run-off which would otherwise have tar residue in it and not be good for anything, and a natural form of insulation. I need to do a little more research on it. It would definitely go over better in the country than here in the city as I've heard people complain about how the library's roof looks "messy" or "unkempt". God forbid plants grow in a non-landscaped designed fashion.

I'm wondering if it is possible to combine a partial live roof with solar panels? I don't see why not but I must research further.

Another thought I had recently was - is it really more environmentally friendly to use wood burning as a heat source? Whenever the air gets stagnant and it doesn't rain for a week here, because of the high pollution rate in the city they have "burn bans" and no one is supposed to use their fireplace. I need to look into how much pollution wood stoves put out. Would electricity be a cleaner heating source? Or natural gas? It seems non-intuitive because fire is the most basic and oldest heat source, but it also might not be the most environmentally friendly. I like the idea of not being reliant on a government utility structure, but I also don't want to ruin the Earth any more than I already do just by existing and driving a car and buying things with plastic wrapping, etc. etc.