weird stigmata pain
Tuesday, June 24 2014
A couple days ago, I heard the first Dog Day Cicada of the year, which is (like the arrival of the Phoebes or the somewhat-ominous call of the Katydids) an important annual milestone. There continue to be a number of ill-timed 17 year cicadas doing their thing. I hadn't expected them to be such so important to the soundscape of 2014 as they are turning out to be. It doesn't take many of them to have an effect. I've also been more aware of the ongoing defoliation happening from this season's unexpected peak of Gypsy Moth activity. Throughout the forests it sounds like there is a perpetual light drizzle raining down, but this is the sound of frass and leaf fragments falling from the caterpillars themselves. The defoliation hasn't noticeably affected the amount of light making it down through the canopy, though there are exceptions. A smallish canopy-height Northern Red Oak a couple feet west of the woodshed has fairly severe defoliation, for example. Its trunk is also covered with a foamy fluid that resembles saliva and is an attractive nuisance for hornets.
A month or so ago, Gretchen and I watched an episode of Sharktank, the show where hapless inventors and would-be robber barons pitch their business ideas to multimill/billionaires. Gretchen was there mostly to see how a vegan baker would do, but before that segment aired we saw a couple guys present a kind of kayak that weighs only 25 pounds and can be folded up like origami into a suitcase-sized luggable object. It was such a great idea that Gretchen immediately went on their website and ordered up a pair of kayaks (despite the fact that they cost well over a thousand dollars each). Meanwhile, we've had a pair of kayaks we'd bought for $600 from our friend Deborah that we've never used. We'd put them on the roof of the Subaru and taken them up to the Adirondacks at the end of last summer, but there had been no place to use them on that trip, so we'd never actually taken them down off the roof rack. Now with the new origami kayaks coming, the plan is to sell the old ones on Craigslist. So yesterday I'd mowed the part of the lawn near the house (for the fourth time this year) so I'd have a good setting to photograph them. And today I carried the kayaks over from their temporary home in the weeds just north of the house. They were full of ants, spiders, daddy longlegs, and at least two garter snakes (one of whom remained in the larger kayak as I carried it). Using the hose attached to the woodshed rain water barrel, I did my best to clean the kayaks, but some of that grime (particularly places where dead plant matter had rotted anærobically against the plastic material of the kayak) proved difficult to scrub away (and yes, I used a brush).
This evening, towards the end of watching the first episode of the second season of Orange is the New Black with Gretchen, I felt a slight pain developing in the very center of my right foot (right about where Jesus would have had a spike driven when he was crucified). At first I didn't think much of it, but within an hour, the pain had grown into a distraction and was affecting my ability to walk. I hobbled around the house looking for an ace bandage and, finding none, tied a thin dress sock tightly around my foot. It helped, but not maybe only in the sense that a placebo helps. Gretchen immediately fingered the culprit to be the Crocs I wear in the woods when gathering my 110 pound loads of salvaged firewood. She'd read somewhere that, though comfortable, they're terrible for the feet (mostly because of their complete absence of arch support). That seemed plausible to me; I'd been having pains in my knees that appears soon after I began salvaging heavy firewood loads, and it only stood to reason that my feet could be affected as well. I couldn't remember any specific traumatic incident, but maybe I was dealing with the accumulated damage of hundreds of tiny injuries. I did some inconclusive internet research as the pain grew worse and worse. I knew I'd need undisturbed rest to sleep with pain like that, so I went down to the greenhouse to sleep. By now my foot was in terrible shape, and I dreaded each downhill step I took with my right foot. The pain was so bad that I was shivering and thought I might even vomit. When I lay down, though, the weight came off the foot and it settled down to a dull, manageable ache.
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