Read this only if you’re truly lacking in something else to do.

November 26, 2014 | My Jottings

It’s six a.m. and I’ve been awake for a little over an hour. Since today is the last day before Thanksgiving, I have a few things to do, but I have a personal code which dictates that I don’t get to work until the sun does. So even though I’ve been up already, preparing breakfast for one of our Fosters, feeding the dogs and letting them out, making myself a Cappuccino Cooler, turning on the humidifier, putting on some soft music (we’re still listening to the soundtrack from Little Women — in fact, click here and while you read you can enjoy the same music that’s been wafting through our house for many days now — it’s utterly transporting) and putting eyedrops in my desert-like eyes, I’m in wait mode. I’m waiting until the first glow of light comes through these bedroom windows, signaling that I can officially start the day. I don’t remember when it was that I started turning into a pumpkin as soon as the sun went down, but it’s a real phenomenon in my life: no sunlight, no nothing.

And speaking of humidifiers, having a forced air furnace for the first time in my life has been interesting. Ever since I moved to Minnesota in 1981, the houses we’ve lived in had gas hot water heat. A boiler heats water, and that hot water is pumped through pipes that then warm radiators, and a nice, even heat fills the rooms and gives you hardly any cause for thinking about the heat in the first place, except to be grateful for it in such a cold climate. Well, in this new house, the forced air furnace works a little differently. It doesn’t heat water, it scorches the air. So instead of a nice even, quiet heat, we have a quiet roar of hot air blowing out of the finned registers in the walls, then it stops and the air cools, then more hot air blows again, then stops, etc. The house stays warm and I’m so thankful for that, but I’m learning some things about drier dry skin than ever before, and how important it is for health in general to keep the air in our home at the right humidity level.

So to clarify: in the summer when we have a lot of Midwestern humidity in the air, it creeps into the house and if you don’t use a dehumidifier (especially in your basement), your books can turn moldy and spores can float around in the air willy-nilly and land and bloom where they may. So we run a dehumidifier pretty much all the time, to keep the humidity down. Then in the fall when all the moisture in the air goes on vacation to Australia, we have to bring in a humidifier so the living beings in the house don’t get lizard skin and nosebleeds.

The little tabletop humidifier we used wasn’t really making much difference, so I did some research and learned we need a Whole House Humidifier. I read reviews and decided on a unit on wheels called QuietCare by Honeywell. I placed it near the air exchange vent in our hallway, out of the way of the most frequented rooms in our house, but in a place where the moister air could be drawn through the ducts and keep things comfortable everywhere. Well. QuietCare is a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one. This humidifier does the job, but its decibel level is more like an industrial fan. I’m sensitive to sounds and I’m not sure I can stand it. So I ordered another humidifier and will compare that to the QuietCare. Whichever one is best stays, and the other will go to a deserving family, because who wants to pack up an appliance the size of a small dishwasher and mail it back?

And, as if this weren’t enough excitement, I learned that it’s a good idea to have a hygrometer in the house when you’re running a humidifier. So I bought one to be able to keep the humidity at optimum levels…not high enough to produce mold in the rafters or low enough to cause my lips to crack and bleed. But then I learned something about hygrometers that was a bit of a surprise: they are all possibly a teensy bit inaccurate and need to be calibrated by putting them in a sealed plastic freezer bag with a shallow dish of wet salt.

Huh? Is this some sort of a practical joke? I have to pay for a brand new hygrometer but need to immediately do a quality control check on it? Yes, it’s true. Did you know that if you place a hygrometer in a sealed bag of wet salt it should always read 75% humidity? Well I never knew that until just this week. And think about all this time you’ve spent reading this blog post and this is all you get for it. I’m really sorry.

So the hygrometer read 74% after 24 hours in the salt bag, which means that I will mentally add one degree to its reading from now on, wherever it’s placed in the house. All I can say is my lips had better appreciate this.

On a much more serious and hopefully happy note, Michael will be coming home for Thanksgiving and will spend the night before returning to the veterans home on Friday. Some of the nursing staff thought bringing him home wasn’t the greatest idea, some of them said, “Go for it!” so I’m going for it. He wants to be here and I can’t imagine sitting at the table without him, so early tomorrow morning I’ll put the turkey in the oven and then head north to pick him up. I’m a bit apprehensive about how this will affect him, but I have to let it go and put that in God’s hands. I’m praying that it’s not confusing and upsetting to him…if you think of us will you pray too?  Thank you so much, friends.

9780767929714_-_Destiny_of_the_RepublicBefore I get dressed and start the day (the sun is now up and fine snowflakes are falling), I wanted to tell you about a book I’m reading. My friend Pat recommended it to me and I’m about halfway through. It’s called Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard. Did you ever think you would like to know more about President James Garfield? No? Well let me assure you, you do! The subtitle of the book is A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, and it is masterfully written and so compelling. The writing reminds me a bit of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. The book fairly gallops and is absolutely brilliant. If you know someone who loves history, this would make a great Christmas gift.

What are you reading these days? I always love to ask that question and hope folks will answer.  🙂

The next thing on my reading stack after this one is My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman. Just the title makes me feel like the author might be a kindred spirit.

Dear friends, I pray that your Thanksgiving is full of thanks. I could wish you time with family, peace, prosperity, good food, fun and festivities, but I realize more than ever that not everyone has this kind of holiday. Things are certainly different for us this year. But no matter what road we’re walking with the Lord, we can give thanks. There’s always something to look up to the heavens for, something from the hand of our good God, to be grateful for.

May He find us all being grateful this week,


  1. Janet Skoglund says:

    I wasn’t lacking something to do. but just checking in to see how you and Michael are . Interesting reading your post today. It is always a wealth of information. I will be praying for you and Michael and his visit home. Praying for safe travel for you and Michael and for you and your family to have a Blessed Thanksgiving. We pray for you both everyday. I am sure that Edith and Mildrid will give him a joyous welcome.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Your comments made me smile, Janet. “A wealth of information” is a very nice way of putting my wordiness/ho-hummish posts. 🙂 And I am excited for Edith and Millie to see Daddy! You have a very blessed Thanksgiving too. I have given thanks for you many times, dear friend. xoxo

  3. Helen in Switzerland says:

    I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with Michael Julie – may it be peaceful and loving and something for you both the cherish. I’ll be thinking of you both today and having a few words with the man upstairs on your behalf. Much love my friend xoxox

  4. Just Julie says:

    You are a faithful blogging friend, dear Helen. Thank you doesn’t adequately convey what I feel, but I’ll say it anyway… thank you. xoxoxo

  5. Nancy says:

    I’m starting to read a book I picked up in Falmouth last September called “The Captain’s Best Mate” The journal of Mary Chipman Lawrence of the Whaler Addison 1856-1860. She traveled with her husband and child aboard a whaler prior to the Civil War.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Oh, that sounds like a book I would enjoy! Thank you for sharing about this Nancy — I’m putting it on my list right now. xoxo

  7. Marcia says:

    I hope your Thanksgiving with Michael went smoothly, and that him being home for the day was a good thing for all of you.
    I have a yard full of pine cones and an artsy 11-year-old so was searching for a fall cone craft. Look what I found, and imagine who I thought of when I saw it? Any cones peeking out from that snow around you?|/274350/pinecone-crafts/@center/1009041/christmas-crafts-projects|269193

  8. Just Julie says:

    Hi Marcia! So nice to see your comment….what beautiful little cardinal cones those are! Yes, we have plenty of pine cones around us. This looks like a great activity for some grandchildren, if I get up the gumption. 🙂 God rest you and your family this Christmas season, dear Marcia… xoxox

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