Signs of our selves

On my fourth trip into the basement today, I stopped at the base of the steps and asked myself, "Now, why am I down here?"

Pause. "May be I'll go back upst... oh, now I remember."

I looked around for the fire tending set - broom, shovel, coal rake, poker, and stand. I grabbed the hand bellows, but left the heavy, red kettle. I thought about how Jared rarely hangs up the tools on the stand after using them. And, last winter how I asked him to "try to remember to" hang up the tools when he was finished.

"Try to remember to" is the way we, married people, succinctly say, "This, this little gesture means something to me, not sure why, though it doesn't mean that much to you, and I am fairly certain that you will forget this request and I will ask again..." or kindly say, "Just once could you...?"

As I bumble up the steps, fireplace tools clattering, I also remember how we instated the household policy "Follow Through" in 2009. "Follow Through" is an extension of the desperate "Stewardship of the Home" initiative.

One weekend day, as we ate in the dining room which is entry to the house, I glanced around at piles of shoes and work-related backpacks, tools and papers. "You know, I really don't like seeing all this work stuff on the weekend. Maybe we should put away our work items as soon as we come home." We agreed. Away went the clippers, GPS, reminders to email so-and-so, nitrile gloves.

We also agreed to eliminate or minimize work talk between ourselves and with friends. (My brother has a no work talk policy with his friends. He claims to not know what some of his friends do for a living. Jared's sister says that work talk is considered rude and/or unimportant among friends in Germany.) Avoiding work talk is sometimes difficult and sometimes essential because our work is so similar, often involving the same ecosystems, if not the same nature preserves, the same colleagues, and the same problems. We also give each other sometimes helpful, sometimes unsolicited (read: unhelpful) advice.

Out of our efforts to limit work-related stimulation on time off, we established Follow Through - routine household maintenance. For example, shoes are kicked off next to the shoe rack, and follow through is needed as that shoes are put away. Unless the situation is escalating, one of us can gently and humorously remind the other by simply saying, "Follow through, kid, follow through." I will honestly say that it is mostly me that says this. Jared is not at all a messy person, but I am overly neat and overly willing to apply my standards to others.

Stewardship of the Home is reserved for serious cases of household disarray, as in "The carpet needs a controlled burn." or "Prescribed fire required to limit the thatch of papers on the desk." or "The toilet needs to be basal barked." Typically, the house has become so disorganized that we both agree to "steward the home."


In July, I made a chicory flower essence for my herbal apprenticeship. It is powerful. It gave me strength, flexibility and perseverance akin to the plant itself. I used it on days I knew I would need those characteristics. I also found it gave me physical strength to do a particular martial exercise that I formerly had only been able to partially complete.

Chicory is one of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies, and so its uses and personality are defined. Without researching its defined uses, I established what I thought chicory essence was to be used for, as was required for our homework.

I described my experience to my teacher and classmates. "Did you ever read what chicory essence is used for?" "No," I replied. She read about chicory from one of her books. As I best I can remember chicory is for those who mother from a judgmental and corrective angle, and could learn to let those around them be as they are, and love them regardless.

Flower essences are generally used regularly to be most effective. Since preparing the mixture, I have added chicory essence to my water, once to a few times a week.


While he prepared to leave for an evening meeting an hour ago, Jared asked me to fill a water bottle and to add chicory essence. I added a couple drops to my glass of water and sipped. Before he left he said, "Oh, the fire caught nicely. You can damp down the vent."

As he drove away, I waved from the front door, considered making a phone call, but instead shuffled to the computer, intending to research alteratives and tonics. I sat down at the computer and noticed the poker laying on the hearth, next to the stand. I thought of my husband and smiled.