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Deluge Day

Woke up this morning to pouring rain. The rain kept coming down all day, letting up briefly in the afternoon and then resuming this evening. We haven’t seen a non-overcast sky for over a week. I think I’ve forgotten what color the sky is.

Started the day painfully, as some muscle deep under my left shoulder blade went TWANG even before we got out of bed. I’ve been wincing my way through the day, and will probably call for an appointment at … a massage therapist? chiropractor? not sure … come Monday. We got up, spent too long looking around the house for a gift certificate which we had put “Right There, I’m serious, it was there a week ago and now it’s gone!” before throwing our hands in the air and motoring off to:

  1. The farmers’ market, which was nearly completely deserted, both by vendors and patrons. We got some veggies from Hurricane Flats and chatted with Geo.
  2. The food co-op for lunch (capered tuna sandwich, tasty) and food for the week. (We’re going to go back onto South Beach fairly strictly for the week, to try and reverse the backsliding we’ve been doing recently.) Oh, and we got cranky at each other over whether to get earthy-crunchy peroxide-and-citrus cleanser to attack the grey mildew stains on the grout in the shower or whether to get toxic chemical cleaner (surely recovered from Bhopal itself). (Which one of us wanted which is left as an exercise to the reader; suffice it to say that we made a deal and bought one, and after the results of some exploratory scrubbing this evening became clear, the terms of the deal now mandate that I go to the store alone and purchase the other variety.)
  3. Board and Basket, where we saw my aunt-to-be Pam and managed to spend the gift certificate we hadn’t found before leaving the house, thanks to B & B’s habit of keeping records of their gift certificates. (replaced a broken crystal water glass and bought the swoopiest toaster oven ever.)
  4. EMS, where Kate got hiking boots for the honeymoon, and I got an orange fleece on sale.

Kate drove home, as swivelling around while driving was starting to really aggravate my back. We took a quick soak in the hot tub and then watched both of our remaining Netflix movies: Shadow of the Vampire (fun premise, well-made, disappointing ending, I thought) and The Bourne Identity (okay action thriller on its own merits, but I wish they’d made a movie actually based on the book, which is a favorite of mine). Since we watched Chicago last night (having had it for 13 months, no joke), that leaves us with no current Netflix movies. This has never happened before, so we feel a little proud.

sick and tired

I was feeling pretty droopy last night and came to bed around 10:45 ready to go to sleep. Kate, however, was deep in the last 20 pages of “A Breath of Snow and Ashes“, and stayed up to finish it, re-reading the last couple of pages several times sitting on the edge of the bed even after brushing her teeth, just to make sure she was understanding the ending correctly. She’s been anticipating this book’s release for months by re-reading the previous five in the series, and her fixation on getting it and reading it made me smile, thinking of my own past fixations (various books, cuisines, videogames), each of which has been The Thing in my life for several weeks or months before slowly and organically fading back into being A Thing. Funny to see this process from the outside.

Woke up with Kate’s alarm this morning, half my sinuses blocked up and that particular achey hot/cold feeling that says my body’s fighting something. Groaned and rolled back over to sleep until 10-ish (which is bizarrely late for me, who can’t sleep past 8 on a normal day no matter how late I stay up), and then took the day to read more of The Corner before going to a late lunch with John and Mike and delivering a birthday cake to Kate at the hospital. (Thanks to Columbus Day, the co-op didn’t have any of the Joes’ chocolate fudge cakes Kate had been drooling over earlier in the week, so we brought her a Joes’ vanilla cookies-and-cream cake and a container of bittersweet chocolate sauce, instead.)

Made a kind of asian-y chicken soup for dinner with John’s chicken stock and some noodles and broccolini and shiitake mushrooms. Tasty, especially with enough rooster sauce in it to start clearing the sinuses a little.

I’ve perked up a little, though, because my new audio recorder showed up today! I ordered it literally two and a half months ago, and M-Audio’s been delaying and delaying the release… but now it’s here and charging, upstairs. Tomorrow I’ll get to find out if all the anticipation’s been worth it. (I bought a minidisc recorder two years ago, for doing field recordings, but the battery life’s been abysmal. Worse, there’s no way to get recordings off the MD player except by playing them back in realtime — the sound is already on the minidisc in a digital format, but Sony refuses to let you have it digitally, lest one PIRATE some MARIAH CAREY or something. The Microtrack plugs into the USB port on a computer and you just drag and drop the sound files. Easy.)

I’m stoked, but I’m also yawning these giant, slow, involuntary yawns, so I’ll just have to play with it tomorrow.

Motorcycle regarding leaves

After two years of wondering whether or not my motorcycle’s electrics were totally shot (despite 3 mechanics’ saying it was fixed, the battery would not hold a charge) I bought a fresh battery, drove it around a bit, and then risked bringing it up to New Hampshire last night, with Kate driving the chase car. It was a warm night (for October), and we made it up here without incident.

I’ve been so used to having it stashed in Glen’s garage, it’s odd to see it up here. I rode it down to the post office today, though, and it felt great to roll along Bean road and smell the fall smells — leaves, smoke, and fresh road tar.

Pact Pact

I can’t speak highly enough about Pact’s WORTH project, which works on women’s literacy and financial empowerment worldwide. They’ve done astounding work in Nepal and Africa, they’re eyeing how to go into Afghanistan, and they’re a finalist for a milion-dollar matching award from Amazon… if they’re the non-profit who raises the most money before September 30th via the link above.

I don’t normally shill for any organization, no matter how virtuous; these folks, however, I’ll make an exception for. They are doing very, very good work.

Bandages galore

My left index finger is bandaged up, as previously noted. My right pinky has a dinky bandaid on it after we used it for getting a drop of blood out for a hematocrit this morning. And now I’ve got ice and a pressure bandage inside my right elbow after we had to stop my apheresis (donating blood platelets) this morning halfway through, due to having the needle either go too far or not far enough, and dumping a bunch of blood inside my arm. Not dangerous, but a little uncomfortable. Also, I’m going to have a giant multicolored bruise there for several days, apparently.

I’m bummed about how hard apheresis has been; this was my third time, and all three times have been difficult due to my having strong valves in my veins. Apparently — I hadn’t known this before the first time — veins have a series of one-way valves in them (pointing back towards the heart) which prevent blood from pooling in one’s extremities. Modern apheresis machines use a single needle for alternating draw/return phases; first it draws blood out, mixes a little anticoagulant into it to avoid gumming up the works, spins out the platelets in a little onboard centrifuge (which sounds like a dryer spinning up when it first gets going), and then returns the blood to you in a “return” phase. Each phase lasts less than a minute, and by watching the machine’s screen and paying close attention to the sensations in my arm, I could tell what each feels like. Problem is, the “draw” phase pulls blood backwards down the vein, and if the needle isn’t positioned just right or if (like me) one has strong, frequent valves, the back-pressure can make the valves slam shut. The machine notes that the draw pressure is too low and immediately flashes its lights and stops pumping. Usually the tech just hits “Continue,” I take a couple of squeezes on a squeezey-ball to inflate the vein a little, and it runs okay for a bit. Annoying, but doable.

Unlike red blood cells, which can last 42 days in proper storage, platelets only last 5 days. The most common recipients are people undergoing chemotherapy, and due to the short shelf life, hospitals are nearly always in need. DHMC called me up and asked me to come in because of my blood type (A negative), and a specific patient who’s in need. I was really bummed when we had to stop the donation midway through — it wasn’t a usable amount, so all the hassle was for nothing.