I’m getting over a rather severe allergy attack that kept me idle all weekend — a lot of rest punctuated by ginger-lemon tea and reading. Normally such an attack comes when I’ve let the furnace filter go too long without changing it, but that wasn’t the case this time, so I didn’t think it was the culprit. I changed it anyway. As it turned out, the filter was dark with dust, darker than normal, but I’d changed to a filter with a higher MSR (Micorparticle Performance Rating), so perhaps this filter does a better job of collecting dust than the previous one I used. Maybe, now that the filter is changed, my allergies will settle back down and give me a respite from the aggravation.

One thing I was remiss in changing is my water filter. I always let it go a couple of extra months because there is just me drinking the filtered water, and I haven’t been doing a good job of imbibing the stuff straight. I just use tap water for making tea, which I think is okay. The water here has a pretty good rating now, though once upon a time it was terrible — terrible tasting and terribly high in naturally occurring radioactive particles as well as contaminants from agricultural runoff. I hedge my bets by drinking tea with tap water, filtering the water for drinking, and occasionally buying bottled water (mostly because the bottles are easy to stow in a pocket or a purse). A water pipeline bringing water directly from the mountains has been in the works for decades, which is great, but by the time it gets all the way out here, I’ll be gone.

Since I’m talking about all the things I’ve changed today, this first day of the month, I might as well mention that I’ve changed tarot decks, too. This deck, I Tarocchi delle Stelle, is much more pleasing to me than the one I used last month. The cards have a good feel — both physically and psychically — at least compared to last month’s cards, and even though they are much larger than playing cards, I can still shuffle them without too much trouble.  The instruction booklet is written in an archaic dialect of Italian, which seems a bit ludicrous since the deck was published in 1991, but I can use the meanings I’ve collected from various sources to interpret the cards.

To my amusement, when I googled these cards trying again to see if I could find a translation of the booklet, I found a previous blog post of mine: I Tarocchi delle Stelle | Bertram’s Blog

In case you’re interested, today’s cards are the seven of wands and the king of pentacles. The seven of wands is about obstacles and overcoming opposition. The king of pentacles indicates that the way to overcoming is by being practical and methodical. (Actually, even if you’re not interested, those are still today’s cards.)

These are all the changes I’ve made today. So far, anyway. Most of the day is still to come.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.


The women I work with and for invited me on a drive this afternoon. We went out in the country and saw where the one woman grew up, where their relatives once lived, where various other people I don’t know once lived, as well as a lesson on the water dynamics of the area. Some of the big farmers and ranchers saved their water rights, but people with smaller acreages and adult children who didn’t want to farm, sold their rights to be able to stay in their houses.

I understand this was a tough decision for people, but not being a rancher/farmer, all I can do is shake my head and wonder if they’d ever seen a western movie. It seems that a huge number of westerns revolve around water rights, generally, with the evil banker trying to corner the valuable water market, and so the idea that anyone would sell their water rights seems self-defeating. Money now, of course, but not later when/if it comes time to sell the property. Still, not my dilemma.

My dilemma is a different one, though still in the financial realm. A relative had some very bad luck, and my first inclination was to send her a check to help her out. Then I got to thinking about it, and realized that I accepted a job to help my own financial situation, and if I sent her anything, in essence, then, I would be working for her benefit, not mine, that all the money for the work I will be doing for the next several months would be going in her pocket.

Oddly, the tarot card I picked today — The King of Pentacles — reminded me to stay in control of my energies and resources in pursuit of a larger goal (such as a solution to my own precarious financial situation). Although this is also a card of generosity, I am tending toward the less generous outcome, more because of the job than anything. Still, I feel bad for her, so who knows.

Since these dilemmas are not pleasant to contemplate (if they were pleasant, they wouldn’t be dilemmas, I’m sure), I’m adding photos my zinnias. They might not have anything to do with anything I’m writing about today — they pose no dilemmas — but they do make me smile, and I can use a few smiles right about now.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator


Insulation is the theme of this day. Insulation from problems. Insulation from the world. But especially, insulation for my garage.

When the workers tore down my old garage, we tried to save the materials I’d bought to upgrade the old building, including wall insulation. I suggested they throw the insulation down into the basement to protect it, but I spoke too late — they’d already taken it to the garage of one of the workers. It kind of surprised me that they went ahead and did that without asking. They’d told me they were taking the OSB board there so it would be out of the elements, but they mention their taking the insulation, too. I didn’t make a big deal about it — I figured they had their reasons.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a good decision. When they dug out the insulation from where it had been stored, they discovered it smelled of mice. As much as it pains me to throw away the insulation as well as the money spent for it, it’s not worth risking getting a dread disease. I’ve been insulating myself to keep from getting The Bob; I sure as heck don’t want to risk getting hantavirus.

We’ll have to deal with the wall insulation another day. Today was about getting the attic insulation. Since it wasn’t delivered until almost three o’clock, no work was done on the garage. Tomorrow, hopefully, the guy who has been working on the garage will come early to do the insulation before it gets too hot. Glad it’s him and not me!

I also got a text from the contractor saying that they hope to put in the back stoop and the sidewalk from the house to the garage, which would be wonderful. That steep step up into the house is way too treacherous for a bum knee, so I’ve had to use the front door exclusively.

I imagine someday it will all be finished, but that day isn’t today.

On a non-insulation note, today’s tarot card is the king of pentacles. The card is about steadiness and solidity, wealth shared, multifarious talents, being enterprising, and seeing things through to the end. I’m not sure how any of that applies to today, except perhaps as a prod for me to see things through to the end, even if I have to scrap the first batch of insulation and get new. What did strike me was the word — multifarious. I’d never heard that word before (too insulated, perhaps?), and somehow read it as nefarious. Nefarious did not at all fit with solidity and steadiness, so I had to look it up, and sure enough multifarious, meaning having many parts or aspects, does describe an enterprising individual.

I used to be enterprising — at least, I think I was — but nowadays, I’m too insulated from the world for such goings on. Midwifing the garage to completion is about all I can handle.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator