THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH                      January 18, 2012                      7:45 AM

64 F indoors                 27 F outdoors (feels like 18F)

Snow flurries


 Image Jay at 5 AM -writing the great American non-fiction


Jay uses the coffeemaker.  There, I’ve said it.

Yesterday Jay informed me that I should write about his indiscretions with energy.  I hated to do it, but since I haven’t said much about his comings and goings it seems like a good way to begin my blog today.

When we first started planning the THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH Jay was very keen about the idea.  Together we made a list of guidelines we both agreed to follow.

Jay is kind of a low maintenance kind of guy.  He requires cheese, coffee, pasta, potatoes, bread, butter and chocolate, plus lots of hugs and kisses.  Actually these are his food groups and if the food doesn’t fit into these categories then he has the attitude that it probably isn’t good for him. 

Jay is also a guy who enjoys routine.  In the evening he is eager to report what film we’ll watch.  After the film he takes a shower, then switches on the white noise machine. Reading comes next, and finally sleeps. 

For several months now he gets up at 5 AM to write.  The night before he puts his clothes in the living room so that when he changes in the morning he won’t wake me up – he’s a thoughtful kind of guy as well.  Next he makes coffee in the coffee maker, and begins his day.

I personally think he needs this routine because he is a brilliant workaholic.  That brain just can’t shut down. 

When we started thinking about THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH though I felt like we weren’t really making many changes in our routine life.  Then Nans came up with the idea that we should live with the rhythm of the earth and turn off every ounce of energy (we need a little for our business day) once it got dark.

To me this was a Eureka idea.  To Jay it began a list of things that were challenges.  The first item was the white noise machine.  He said he wouldn’t live without it.  Within a day he had discovered it would run on batteries.  Whew!  That was a relief because that machine was staying one way or another.

Then I mentioned that we had a large French press that would work well for morning coffee.  Honestly, I don’t ever want to be responsible for putting that look on his face, but it had to be said.  “No way” was his response.  That coffeemaker was his best friend and he wasn’t giving it up for a whole month because his business day begins when that coffeemaker starts.

There are those who would side with Jay on these matters (and more) because after all, he does live with me, and he has to set his limits.  In fairness to him, I can see his reasoning, but I refuse to agree.

I argued that the whole point of this month was to have a deeper experience at living simply.  He said the purpose was to live without an exchange of money.  Sigh…

Last night, as we ate supper at 9 PM (he taught his class until 8 PM) he said, “I had to spend money today – I had a 20 cent fine at the library.”  I couldn’t help laughing.  When I pointed out he could pay it in February, he couldn’t see the point.

He said he could have stood in front of the Newark library and asked someone for 20 cents, which I thought was a distinct possibility.  The image of Professor Warmke in his expensive brown leather bomber’s jacket standing out in front of that fancy building with the folks who do ask for cigarettes or money for a cup of coffee seemed like it might be a life-changing experience.  Jay said that it would be his luck that the dean of the school would show up just as he asked for the change.  We had a good laugh about that.

Personally I think that this month is about stepping outside of the ordinary, and trying new ways of thinking about consumption.  Jay often tells me that my approach is about the soft side and his about the basics.  I tell him I’m the global thinker and he’s the local thinker. 

From a distance it might make people wonder how we’ve spent more then three decades together, but for me it’s just another day with my dearest friend and the most brilliant person I’ve ever known.




Gluten-free cinnamon toast

Left over noodles with egg (for Jay)



Chicken Salad

Potato Soup



Left Overs




THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH                      January 14, 2012            7:00 AM

60.9 F indoors              17.9 F outdoors



When I saw the goats shaking like little children who have just climbed out of the swimming pool I realized I had better rummage through my closet for some warm ski vests or they were going to be in trouble.  This is the first year I’ve had 11 goats so I did my Coco Channel imitation and now all of the goats finally have their own ski vests.  

Tina Fey, the smallest spring goat (73 lbs.) has on a very nice tan knitted vest with a ski vest over top of it.  Trisha, Tina Fey’s sister (78 lbs.) is wearing one of my favorite blue vests.  They all look adorable, and snug as a bug in a rug.

As each goat came out of the milk room with her vest snuggly in place, the other goats were waiting in a line to sniff and admire her new “look”.  I wonder if they are critiquing my choice or just trying to figure out if there was a male involved in the process.

When I called Kati to cancel my lunch date because I really needed to be here to check on the critters throughout the bitterly cold day, she couldn’t stop laughing when I mentioned the need for the ski vests.  I’ve had that reaction before when I’ve talked about using vests to keep goats warm.  On the other hand I’ve never heard anyone laugh about seeing a horse wearing a horse coat.


Last night it was bitter cold again, and the wind was blowing hard.  Isabella, the hen that decided it was not too late to set on eggs in October, refused to go out to the dog kennel in the chicken run.  She’s been living in there at night since the chicks were tiny, but this night she announced in a rather loud manner that she and her eight chicks would be staying inside of the barn.  I’ve learned to listen to animals when they feel so strongly about something but I was none too happy about having to dismantle the cage and put it inside of the barn.

Just as I was trying to take the cage apart – in the bitter wind – Nate pulled up to the gate to feed and water the baby bull, Ernest.  Their yellow lab, Lilly, followed him and was eager to get inside of the gate.  Cadeau caused a big fuss, growling and jumping at her.  She does not listen to anybody so she was pushing and jumping and enjoying the fuss she was creating.

After Nate left, I was still struggling to get the cage apart when I looked up to see Lilly waiting at the gate.  She was very keenly interested in the two small male goats that are housed next to the entrance.  I’m concerned that Lilly is far too intrigued with in any of the animal’s movements, which means she has the potential to kill them.

Between Lilly pacing around, the bitter cold, and the cage not cooperating I was really frustrated.  At one point I threw part of the cage over the fence because I was afraid if I opened the gate the dog would race right in to the young goats.  It was getting dark so I was working against time.

Eventually Lilly left – there was no getting her to leave earlier because she doesn’t obey any commands.  Miss America showed up to save the day by helping to put the cage back together inside of the barn, and all was well except I was in a bad mood extraordinaire by this time, and that’s how I wasted my evening.  Enough said!

As I got into bed I was miserable.  It’s colder in our bedroom with this bitter weather and my new strategy for the winter was to use a little copper heater to bump the temperature from 55F way up to 60F.  Since it’s THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH and the heater runs on electricity I have sworn off of using it until February.  Jay, the other really best heater, is off to the Green Energy Ohio board meeting.  A bad mood, being cold, and thinking about how much work I have to do over the next few days did not contribute to feeling any better this morning.  As I was falling asleep I made myself a promise – no bad mood today.  I am hopeful.




Warmed up waffles

Blue berry syrup



Cheese noodles

Stir-fried vegetables





Some energy thoughts…

Thought you would like a couple interesting tidbits from the world of Green Tech (from the research for our textbook). In doing my research I found that the US electrical grid is (not surprisingly) hanging by a thread. The estimated lifespan of substations on our grid is 40 years. The AVERAGE age of substations on our grid is 45 years. A government study was commissioned during the Bush years to study the state of the grid determined that the only reason we did not suffer from major and frequent large scale power outages is that we had been LUCKY. Of course, nothing has been done to correct the problem. The main problem is that nobody actually has responsibility for maintaining the grid (welcome to deregulation). As a result – nobody actually maintains it.

It would be similar to a national transportation system where the owner of the land controls and maintains their section of the road that happens to pass over their patch of ground. Not a very coordinated approach.

On the brighter side – the recent cancellation of the coal-powered plant in Meigs county may signal a significant shift in our energy future. I know the environmental activists would like to claim credit (and their efforts are certainly Continue reading Some energy thoughts…