Sunday, November 29, 2020

Gas and Liquid Rage


I suppose I need to get to the bottom of what’s going on with my body.  I regularly do three, and four-day fasts.  Part of the ketosis process is you shut down a lot of ready-to-digest bacteria in your intestinal track.  When you flood it back up with food, your body needs time to adjust.  Or at least this is what they tell you on-line when you look up phrases like “Diarrhea, after fasting.” 


It never happens the first day after I eat.  Rather two or three night later, I find myself visiting the facilities, again and again.  And it isn’t the sort of runs one gets when you get giardia or some tropical bug.  In my experience when thus afflicted, the intestines just open sluice-like and a sure sign that the misery has passed happens days later when you finally feel the need to once again go and mercifully, a flatulent exhales.   That always seem to me to be the beginning of the end in those instances.  A hard-earned change of expectorant.  Not so with this affliction.  Gas and liquid rage in equal measure and I am plagued with sulfuric burps as well. 

The day after Thanksgiving was fine.  I don’t think I had much more than a turkey sandwich and some turkey soup yesterday.  But suffice to say, last night sucked.  I was off in the bathroom every half hour or so.  I finished off my Hellen McDonald book. The office room with most of my books is home to a guest this season, but I found a half read copy of the third volume of Lone Wolf and Cub in my closet.  Finished that.  Read the next chapter in the Korean History book I’d been working on with my little one.  Still, the discomfort wasn’t passing. 

The online remedies suggest that you drink a bit of lemon juice an hour before you break your fast to stimulate the enzymes, though I suspect that mine had long since been reactivated.  I don’t quite know what I’m doing wrong, but I don’t suspect lemon juice is gonna cure it. 


Could have done a lot of things today, but I spent most of the time, reading the papers and then catching up on this blog.  There is still plenty of time for a bike ride which will probably do my constitution well.  Blue skies are still around.  The day after tomorrow is supposed to be dreadful.  Tonight, for dinner, Turkey Pot Pie.  Let's go figure this out.  




Saturday, 11/28/20

Smells Like Turkey Soup


Got up early.  Had forgotten to cancel a call that was thrown on the calendar last week.  No.  Not this morning.  I’m gonna flop around in bed and try to finish “H is for Hawk.”  It’s Friday, and there is nothing I have to do except clean up after yesterday.  Once the sun is up, I set up shop in the kitchen and start emptying the dishwasher.  The bird is out on the porch, covered.   Piles of white meat, plates of dark meat remained un-carved, to be pulled from the carcass.  I filled one and then another plate and separated all the bones and plopped them into the largest pot we had.


The best sandwich of the year is the turkey sandwich you make the day after Thanksgiving.  I took down one or another half loaf we had up in the cabinet and set to work toasting all this bread and preparing a half a dozen sandwiches and eating up two and a half of them.  The kitchen smells like turkey soup.  Everyone save the vegan is digging the crunchy turkey sandwiches as they make their way out, one by one, the morning after.

A walk?  My wife suggests we head out and I’m fine with that.  I wanted to show her the hemlock that shoots twenty feet up into the air right besides a much bigger oak.  Is this just circumstance or is this a specific strategy the wily hemlock employ?  (I looked and it appears to be the case, they grow in the shade of other trees.)  I convince her to plod off the trail for twenty paces or so and contemplate this slow decades’-old drama.  The color of the hemlocks is a unique variant of dark green.  I share with her what I’d learned about the big eight-hundred year-old trees that used to populate these woods, until they were all harvested for the tanning industry. 

We went right off the trail at Cedar Lane and over to Plains Road and followed the approximate path of the rail trail to the right and the Walkill River to the left and made our way back towards town.  Plenty of young hemlocks along this path and some towering white pines and dramatic locust trees with their gnarly bark.  Woodland Drive forms a horseshoe.  I remember it being pretty non-eventful from my drive through and I tell my wife as much.  Still, we walk on along the road and consider the homes that seem to all be packed in rather tightly.  At the northwest corner we consider where it might be possible to cut through a yard and get over to the trail.  I’d have done that once upon a time, but hesitate, as an adult.  All of this must have been the property of one estate that got divided up into sub lots like this about fifty years ago. Back on the main road, we are soon curving right and joining back up with the rail trail crossing just beyond Sojourner Truth Park.  




Friday, 11/27/20

Tunes and the Reasons

Thanksgiving.  We’d had a fine Thanksgiving last year.  It was the first time in so long that we’d had all the family under one roof for the holiday.  Historically we were over in Beijing and it was all about inviting friends, next to none of whom were Americans.  No one had a strong sense of what recipe they were expecting or strong preferences as to how a meal ought be prepared.  If you burnt the bird or fixed up some lumpy gravy it didn’t much matter.

My brother called first, this year.  He and his wife and son wouldn’t be coming on account of the pandemic.  My father lives here in the same town, but he and his wife, also demurred.  The community they live in was in lock-down and they weren’t supposed to go out anywhere.  “Would it be OK if I drove by and picked up a plate of food?”  My little sister pulled the plug on her and her nephew about ten days ago and my mom and her husband made it clear that they were going to sit it out as well just a few days back.   So that leaves my wife our daughters and the guest we have visiting from my daughter’s high school, who hails from Guangzhou. 


From five till seven thirty or so I was busy beating back obligation.  Creepers and spindles had made their way into my free day over the evening.  What is essential?  What can wait?  Outside the bird is defrosted on the porch and I do the calculations for just how long it will take.  If I’m going to have the bird out by 4:00PM I’d need it in soon.  This was the smallest bird they had there and at twenty-two pounds it’s still gonna need nearly six hours.  I’ll need to head out and get the oranges and the apples that need to be stuffed into that bird.  And before I know it, I’m already behind schedule by 9:00AM.  One last note to a friend, whom I keep a playlist with.  Two tunes, and the reasons why. 

Over at Tops, I asked the two staff folks stocking the shelves if there were any whiskers that were just metal.  The blue, plastic one wasn’t convincing.  The lady looked about and confirmed, there were no other whiskers to be had.  And then, they started mocking the add, playing on the Tops speaker-system: “We’re all in this together.”  “Yeah, right.  You know.  We’re all in this together.”   I went on to get some spinach and quietly wished them a quickened pace till quitin’ time.  Today would be a shitty day to have to stock shelves. Tops would be a shitty place to be working as a middle aged, dirty blond woman with enough sense to mock canned messages. 




Thursday, 11/26/20

Every Rock and Hole

Got home last night after twelve or more hours of driving.  I don’t see how truckers can do it.  Are they obliged to stop?  They must be.  Just looked it up.  Those gents, and I suppose more than a few gals, are allowed to drive for up to fourteen hours straight, after which they are supposed to take a minimum ten-hour rest.  I was fasting so I knew I wasn’t going to get sleepy, but it was a compromised sort of cognizance, certainly after the night fell and I swore off any more double espresso fuel. 

The moment I got home I had a twenty texts on Whatasap and Wechat suddenly populate my phone, once it was reconnected to WiFi.  One of them said, “John, are you joining?”  Another wondering if the call was cancelled.  I have more than one calendar to monitor and this was something I’d overlooked.  I rescheduled the call with apologies a-plenty and got myself for the subsequent call that would start in twenty minutes. 


I imagined spending the day chopping up vegetables and discerning what ingredients missing.  I notified one client and then another that I wouldn’t be attending the calls over the holiday.  There are only a few folks I deal with that are actually from the United States.  But the folks in Israel, and the folks in China and down in Sydney all seemed to appreciate that this was important.  Here in the States though, I had one and then another and yes, then another last call to get through, beating back obligation, creating a small clearing where the weeds of must-dos lurk. 

And there was more.  Always.  But I looked it all over and determined that there was nothing there couldn’t wait till the weekend, till next week.  I fixed a gin and tonic to change the gears.  No more work.  The tonic was flat.   No matter.  There was still time for a bike ride.  Didn’t get any exercise yesterday, beyond filling the car with gas and I pedaled as hard as I could down towards Gardiner as the sun was just about disappeared.  I wondered about biking in the dark on the way home, but I reckoned I knew just about every rock and hole on this path.


Later at home we made a fire and played some chess and it felt like the holiday had finally, really arrived. 





Wednesday, 11/25/20

Growl Sounded Awfully Good


Nothing’s so far when you’ve already done it once.  Niagara Falls, New York is about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from here.  I’ve done it before, about a month ago, on election day.  But I spent the night there in Buffalo before I came back.  Today, I have it in my mind to go all the way up, pick up my older daughter and drive straight back.  I made it about five minutes down the road before I realized I needed to turn around and grab my phone that had been charging there in the wall. 


One call.  And then another.  Driving up to Albany is familiar.  The Catskills come into view.  Its misty where you cross the Platekill Creek, as it often is this early in the morning.  By the time my calls have finished, I’ve lost WFMU and try to listen to the news on NPR, but all they seem to have is “local” news.  I am tuning in to hear that Trump or some of the other prominent Republican deniers have finally confronted reality, but this is all about the New York State legislative agenda for 2021 and then a special on just why polling was once again so inaccurate, which I don't want to listen to.


What’s that over to the right?  It’s a broad, flat estuary, and I don’t know the name of it till I stop at a rest stop to relieve myself.  There in the vestibule is a huge map of New York State and I now becomes clear that this is the Mohawk River and it flows all the way from up near Lake Oneida, all the way down till it joins the Hudson, just north of Albany.  This must have been a major artery on the Erie Canal.  This broad, open plane is why cities like Schenectady, and Rome and Utica came intro prominence.  An article I skimmed in this month’s National Geographic on the Great Lakes, referred to it as America’s third coastline.  This merited some reflection. 

Classic rock radio, somewhere up-dial yielded The Guess Who’s  “American Woman,” which I immediately turned up to full blast and tried to sing along with Burton Cummings who’s white-boy grizzled growl sounded awfully good to me.  I sounded pretty good to me too, in the way that one does shredding in the shower, with no one around.  Hitting the second syllable of the word “A
merican” way up high where Burton does, was beyond my capacity to handle without cracking.  I’m confident that I sounded excellent, as I know there aren’t any recordings out there to disabuse my vanity.

About thirty minutes out of Buffalo my wife called and suggested my older one was already on the pedestrian bridge, heading back to the U.S. side.  Her phone wasn’t working.  We agreed we’d meet up at tacky glass tower they have there with Chinese and Halal, and Indian and a half a dozen other cuisines advertised there for the boisterous pedestrian traffic that’s been reduced to a trickle now.  I guess it was late enough in the afternoon so that the young kid who came up to collect fees only asked for $5.00.  On Election Day, it was $10.00.  My wife called and said she was still crossing the bridge.  Quite a bridge.  I walked over to the where the exit must be.  There were two people with luggage.  But she was solo.  Not long after she rang.  Her phone worked again, now that she was over the border.  That was her, there talking to another young lady whose dad was also picking her up.  “No.” She didn’t need a view of the Falls.  Caught it from the Canadian side.  We headed back along US 90 and had such a great talk for the next five hours.  I marveled at what a remarkable woman she continues to wax into. 




Tuesday, 11/24/20

Of This Fleeting Epiphany


Yesterday my older one mentioned that Toronto was having a snowstorm.  “Getting down to the border tomorrow might be tough.  I could take a train, but that sort of defeats the purpose of avoiding crowds and . . .”  We had sent Monday as an arbitrary day to pick her up and bring her back in time for Thanksgiving.  I immediately suspected this was a ruse, to buy an extra day and said as much.  But a blizzard is a blizzard and not long after I grumbled, I considered Tuesday for a moment and decided it would be a much better day for this long journey. 


So, I worked all day.  I didn’t cancel the two calls this morning as I’d suspected I’d have to. One call I’d imagined trying to take from the road came and passed me by.  Why wasn’t there a calendar reminder?  I pinged the person concerned and apologized and tried to reschedule.  I needed to rewrite a report.  Nothing challenging, beyond simply getting started.  I found one reason and then another and finally worked it through in time for the call that took place around noon. 

I left my bike ride go.  I don’t know why.  Cold out.  Cloudy.  Wasn’t particularly motivated to head out.  Not long before 4:00PM I finally got motivated and headed north back into town.  And while I’ve generally been playing twentieth century American composers on these rides, I dug up and decided to familiarize myself with some more of this Muscle Shoals oeuvre that that Vassar College radio station had hipped me two the other day. Strange crossroads of people showing up there at that studio, to play with the “Swampers” and the twenty-two year-old house, lead guitarist, Duane Allman. 

Riding out of town, I saw that big house at 74 Huguenot St from a distance and thought about what it would be like to make use of that building.  If you had a restaurant there, it would be a show case, an exceptional environment and it would desecrate this historical building and cause an understandable uproar in town.  On my way back I took photos of those old buildings in part to remind myself of this fleeting epiphany.  It was dark by the time I got back home. 




Monday, 11/23/20

Same Avians That Were


I don’t have access to my desk.  We have a guest over.  That’s fine.  I also don’t have access to the view that extends out from that desk either.   The view I’ve cultivated by tossing sunflower seeds out on to the patch below it for months now.  Who knows what the local animals think?  I don’t suppose they care or that they are necessarily even the same avians that were there last week.  There’s a bunch of good stuff to eat down there.  There’s a suet feeder too.  It gets popular. 

From the dining room you can’t see any of that.  You get a lovely gaze up to Mohonk.  But the yard below is obscured by the wooden fence on the porch.  No matter.  This morning I took a half gallon of the black sunflower seeds and threw them across the yard below.  For a while no one showed.  Word got out.  This is the new in spot, if you’re looking to get yourself some sustenance. 

There was some blue sky about two hours ago.  We’ve been engorged by a within the belly of an unspeakably large leviathan the ribs of whose stomach cavity I can only barely make out the logic of.  I checked.  They say rain, by 3:00PM.  It’s cold.  But it’s not freezing.  I’ll want to get that ride in as I’ll have next to no exercise tomorrow, driving up to Buffalo again. 


I’ve got a pot of Roman beans out there I cooked into a refried mush yesterday.  I’m aiming to make some tacos this morning.  I don’t want to overdue it but I’d like this young guest of ours to try some good food while he's here.  He is emphatic about how he dislikes the food at school.  I remember breakfasts in the Shandong countryside.  I can appreciate how salt-dried minnows and pickled daikon would be infernal if repeated every day for one year and then the next.  A lot of writing this morning.  Felt fine to write for hours and hours.  A sabbath day privilege, which is just about over.

Sunday, 11/22/20