Thursday, December 13, 2012

Never-Ending Summer

I feel so much better having written about that school stuff -- getting it out of my head was so cathartic!

I didn't get to post yesterday, because I've been pretty busy.

We have this basement space that was a big reason we purchased this house. It's no big deal, it's just that it was actually *finished* space. I've never lived in a house with a finished basement; in fact, when I was growing up, I slept in a partially-finished basement until my parents had a second story put on our house when I was ten. When the construction work was being done, we had a burglar. He probably thought the house was vacant, since it happened on the night before Christmas Eve, and there was no roof on the house!

Anyway, I woke to some noises at the end of my room, where the basement stairs ended, and my mom (still) keeps her sewing machine, and saw a flashlight. I was terrified, of course. Somehow I didn't pee the bed. I just lay there, pretending to sleep as best I could, until I heard the footsteps go back up the stairs, and then was able to breathe again. The only thing that was taken was some cash from my father's wallet.

So, anyway, I have a strange relationship with basements. I see them as opportunity spaces. In the unfinished room next to my bedroom we did (and my parents still do) their laundry. There is also a kiln in there, and a kick-wheel for doing pottery. We did a lot of pottery at our house when I was growing up!

As long as they're not touching me, spiders don't scare me.

I think, too, I've always been a tad envious of homes with a nice comfortable basement space -- with a pool table, or air hockey, or foosball, and a place to watch movies, and a place for guests. So, we got this house.

On the day after we moved in, the sewer backed up into said finished basement. (Hello, Mr. Insurance Man, if you are reading this blog, your comapny doesn't cover this lonely problem my house has, so you can go on your merry way). Crap. Literally.

It took me three years of living here to see the pattern. Every November or so, we would have The Backup. Well, that would happen as long as I called the regular sewer rooting company, which used an auger-like device, to clean the sewer line. It involved going in through the basement window and across the carpet (ewww), so after that, we had the special carpet-cleaning company come and sanitize everything. But then, after having the sewer line camera run, we realized we had bellies in our sewer line. Our house was built within the last 30 years, so that's an unexpected bummer.

The next company I called used a pressurized system to clean out the lines, and the second time they came, we realized they could use the sewer access for the RV parking we have, so they don't have to come in across the carpet anymore! Hooray!

And, we figured out the problem... fat. Yep, all those bacon drippings and coconut oil, even the tiniest amounts I was washing down the sink, were collecting in the bellies and occluding the poo exit for our house, such that one overzealous wiping session could leave the basement filled with...

Yeah! So, anyway... I have them come clean the lines every Fall, and I am careful to wipe out all my pans carefully with a paper towel before washing them, and, (fingers crossed, knocking on wood), no problems! Except that I forgot to call last Fall, and I haven't called yet this fall. And it got cold. They can't do it when it's below freezing.

So, anyway, the space is pretty nice, and I have tried several permutations for keeping our junk (there's so much of it -- mostly books and crafting stuff and board games) down there. But we never seem to make it down there. And people don't really stay with us anymore, now that Erick's parents live across town. Which means I've gotten really lazy about keeping things clean. Especially down there.

We were working on learning electronics on one side of our big project table, and doing claymation on the other side. It was nice because we could leave half-done projects down there and not worry about picking up. Except that my sister would really like to come visit, and it's totally not toddler-friendly down there. Nope. In fact, one time when my other nephew came to visit once, he and my daughter got into the craft cabinet and spread all the beads all over the carpet. Thank goodness for vacuums.

And, there have been dog issues down there. Grr. There's a door, and keeping it closed eliminates the dog problems, but folks don't always close the door.

So, anyway, I spent last weekend and the earlier part of this week doing some major stuff-shuffling, because I wanted to move all of our messy stuff into the guest bedroom and take the bed out of there, so I can lock that door when we have young guests. And we moved L's daybed down into the larger rec room area, so there's essentially a king-sized bed down there, which we can sit on to watch movies. Lucy got the queen-sized bed which we were using as a guest bed. And that left a lot of space open... for a sauna!

The sauna arrived yesterday, and I was mostly ready for it. We were instructed by E not to put it together without him. He loves assembling things, much like I did at that age.

I've been thinking about getting a sauna ever since I had organophosphate poisoning when we moved here seven years ago, and E had arsenic toxicity. It's probably a good thing I didn't get it then; I was in much too delicate a place for sauna therapy at that time.

But now, I've become aware of the health benefits of infrared light; especially the near infrared spectrum, at 660 and 880nm, which helps recycle the copper moeity in the mitochondrial enzyme cytochrome c oxidase. We've been using "chicken lamps" around our house for recovering from illness, and reducing stress and inflammation, and counteracting the negative effects of blue light (which turns off cytochrome c oxidase), for about a year now. For a while, I was traveling to a nearby tanning salon for red light therapy, but it was quite costly, and I figured out it would only take about a two years of doing that to pay off a red light therapy bed.

Our summer this year in Colorado made this seem all the more important. In June we had a huge fire nearby which left our air quality in such poor condition that our county and neighboring counties were advised to stay indoors. Then, it was over 90 degrees fahrenheit for a record number of days -- well into the end of August, if I recall correctly. So, our outdoor time was pretty much zilch.

I figured we would see the bad side of that pretty quickly, and we did. It's been a frequent illness fiasco here this fall. But the good news is that we are recovering from these illnesses very quickly with fat soluble vitamins and chicken lights, and our moods are good.

L even had all the symptoms of strep disappear in about a day, sitting under a chicken light.

This is the kind of crazy stuff I think people need to know, but that I worry about posting in a public place, but here I am, posting it.

I get a lot of questions about chicken lights, so I'll just go ahead and post here what I got at my local Home Depot.

1) 250W BR40 Halogen Flood Light
There are also 125W versions, which will use electricity, but that also means less of this luscious energy for your mitochondria. There are red ones, which would mean less of the blue spectra, but this is what I prefer to use at my work and reading spaces.

2) 300W Brooder Clamp Light
This is just one example, and this is the one from Home Depot. I got other ones at my local farm supply store.

Oh, and I am getting rid of all those terrible compact fluorescent bulbs in my house, one at a time. I still have some in areas where we don't use the lights very often, but in our living spaces, it's all halogen and halogen incandescent. The halogen incandescent bulbs are available even at the local grocery store, and use about 20-30% less electricity than a regular incandescent bulb.

From Wikipedia:

"According to the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) in 2008, CFLs may pose an added health risk due to the  ultraviolet  and blue light emitted. This radiation could aggravate symptoms in people who already suffer skin conditions that make them exceptionally sensitive to light. The light produced by some single-envelope CFLs at distances of less than 20 cm could lead to ultraviolet exposures approaching the current workplace limit set to protect workers from skin and retinal damage. Industry sources claim the UV radiation received from CFLs is too small to contribute to skin cancer and the use of double-envelope CFLs "largely or entirely" mitigates any other risks.[49]

"A 2012 study comparing cellular health effects of CFL light and incandescent light found statistically significant cell damage in cultures exposed to CFL light. Spectroscopic analysis confirmed the presence of significant UVA and UVC radiation, which the study's authors conjectured was attributable to damage in the bulbs' internal phosphor coatings. No cellular damage was observed following exposure to incandescent light of equivalent intensity. The study's authors suggest that the ultraviolet exposure could be limited by the use of "double-walled" bulbs manufactured with an additional glass covering surrounding the phosphor-coated layer.[50]"

And let me just say, the sauna is awesome. The winter is not only *dark,* but *cold,* which is a metabolic stressor. I have some local friends who saw the benefits of getting a regular hot tub a few years ago. I think it is just a regular hot tub, but the larger of the two lost a significant amount of body fat using it every night throughout the winter. We do tend to lose metabolic momentum over the winter. We usually blame that on overeating through the holidays, but living in Northern climates, we have the additional metabolic stressors of darkness and coldness. So, the sauna is my plan to combat that stress.

Meditation and music are also regularly touted as ways to combat stress. The sauna I got has a sound system in it, and it's nearly impossible not to melt into the music and let my mind go blank while sitting in there.

We're also interested in the possible effects on some skin problems we've experienced, so I am eager to see what becomes of those.

Today, we pushed the 500 pounds of sauna into the corner of the basement where it will reside. I guess that makes it official. We own a sauna. To celebrate, this afternoon, I shampooed the carpet.

If you don't have space or money for saunas or chicken lights, you can simply go for walks near dusk or dawn year-round and get the benefit of more red than blue light. But if you're on the blue-light-emitting computer screen reading about all this weird stuff, and seem to miss the appropriate windows, then maybe some chicken lights are in order.

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