waves of gut pain
Thursday, December 12 2013
At around noon I ventured out into the snowy wasteland outdoors (temperature: 25 degrees) mostly to try out two pieces of equipment. One of these was a new FM radio headset (a "3M WorkTunes") I'd received in the mail that was intended (unlike my one-piece radio/MP3players) to provide ear protection. It cost a bit more than other similar products, but it immediately seemed more comfortable despite the snug fit. And it also effectively muted nearly all sounds taking place in the the real world. Since this headset lacked an MP3 playing option, it was crucial that it have good FM reception, since I'd have to be broadcasting podcasts to it from my laboratory FM transmitter. The reviews of its reception hadn't been good, but I was immediately impressed by the rock-solid reception that didn't wander off over time (a real problem with the MP3 headphones similar to these, and which I've also had to dramatically repair in two different ways).
The other thing I wanted to test was one of the chain blades I'd recently sharpened. So there I was with the chainsaw, high on the slope sout-southwest of the point where the Stick Trail crosses the Chamomile, cutting up the downed oak (or Chestnut) that I'd started work on a week or so ago. Today my task was to buck the downed wood into lengths compatible with the woodstove, a task that would reveal whether or not the blade was now sufficiently sharp. I wouldn't say the chain cut like a brand new one, but it was an improvement over the way it had been. And the wood that I was cutting was tough (as all good firewood is).
I needed some provisions, so I warmed up the Subaru (thereby easing the removal of the icy glaze from its windshield), loaded up the dogs, and drove out to the King's Plaza near uptown. At the Hannaford, my main needs were beans, beer, and bread, though I also got a bottle of Ocean Spray Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice. (I've been having trouble finding a fruit juice that contains no sugar, isn't too sweet, but also isn't too sour.) Next I went into Herzog's to buy some flat metal bar stock and a good plunger (to replace the crappy dollar store model in the first floor half-bath, which recently experienced an episode that wouldn't have happened had a good plunger been there). Then I bought some liquor at JK's (where I have a discount membership) and some pseudophedrine at Walgreens (since the pharmacy was closed from 2:00-2:30 at Hannaford).
Back at the house, I feeling sleepy, so I climbed into bed and took a long disorienting nap that lasted until after dark. Gretchen returned from the bookstore soon thereafter with a bunch of much-needed vegetables and she proceeded to make a surprisingly delicious meal of polenta. I didn't know much about polenta, and was surprised when Gretchen told me that there are parts of Italy where they cook with polenta instead of pasta. "Who would want to live in that part of Italy?" I replied. It's not that polenta is so bad, it's just no substitute for pasta.
Soon after eating, my guts started behaving unusually (though I think the problem predated the polenta). I kept experiencing wave after wave of cramps so bad that I had to lie down and occassionally even moan. Each wave would last for a couple minutes and then pass and I'd have ten or fifteen minutes of relative peace before another wave of pain would come through. I went down to the brownhouse a couple times in hopes of pooping the problem out, but nothing much was happening on that end. Indeed, at one point something almost happened at the other and I had to go kneel in front of the toilet for awhile while a wave of nausea made me salivate and breath heavily.
During all this, I couldn't do much more than watch Moonshiners or read more of Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday. I love Jared Diamond, but there can be a dreary repetitiveness to his writing that almost overwhelms his skill in telling stories and drawing attention to hidden truisms. This was particularly true during his chapter (or whatever the unit was) about trade. There was some good info in there, but it seemed it could have been expressed more succinctly.
Meanwhile temperatures outdoors had dropped to 12 degrees. Normally I can leave the brownhouse's gravity-fed plumbing system operational into early January, but with conditions like this, it seemed prudent to immediately drain the system. As it was, the system was already frozen and I had to point a heater at the pipes to thaw them enough for them to completely drain.
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