Well I don't really have any travel adventures planned for the near future, so this blog is going to become a bit more about domesticity and nature, with maybe the odd philosophical musing thrown in when I get the urge. If you get bored, you could check back in around New Years and maybe something more exciting will be happening. Or life could get exciting in some way I'm not planning for, because there's still some more 2020 left!
On Saturday, potential social plans fell through so I didn't have much to do. This was nice because it'd been a while since I last had a zero day. I did some organizing of the stuff in my tent and ran across my parents old Aladdin kerosene lamp, which was an unfinished project begging to be finished. I pried the crusty wick out of it so a fresh one can go in, and packed it up to give to my friend JW who's currently furnishing a little cabin in Snow Camp. I experimented with cooking a meal in my new steamer, which is a style of cooking that's a bit new to me. I'd always avoided it because I wasn't into bland food, but with my recent forays into learning to enjoy the bland and the boring, it seems to be the time. And steaming just works really well with a wood stove because there's no need for precise temperature regulation, the water just handles that naturally. I was able to cook two cups of sushi rice on the bottom tray, and on the top tray garden greens, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, and two duck eggs. I added a little sauce to the veggies and assembled a very respectable rice bowl. And I think the secret is to embrace a more Korean food aesthetic, where the staples are bland but the garnishes pack a punch. I added kimchi, pickled ginger, and pickled ume plums, and while I've made better rice bowls, this one definitely topped the the made-in-a-tent division.
I ate lunch sitting in the warm sun, and just drifted for a while. Did a bit of reading in the afternoon, and watched a little flock of cardinals with five males, which is more than I can recall seeing together in one place. They were very striking and it occurred to me that male cardinals are a lot less conspicuous in the fall than at other times of the year because they fit right into the color scheme. After dark there was a movie night on AP and GB's porch, with super delicious homemade pizza (probably made even more delicious by the fact that it'd been a long time since I'd had pizza), salad from the garden, and fresh banana bread. I drank a cute little 50mL bottle of Japanese plum wine warmed up on my hot water bottle. After dinner we bundled up and watched Runaway Jury on the outdoor projector screen.
Sunday I spent some time working on a complex problem for work, with frequent breaks to take walks and let my mind chew on it. I poked around the remains of things I'd made and abandoned, some of which I couldn't even remember the purpose of. I felt a bit like an archaeologist digging into my own past. And there was a sort of hush over everything--maybe it was the wind blowing in the dry leaves and the dry leaves blowing in the wind--and I felt like I was on the verge of remembering something. Big dramatic clouds blew across the sky, and I watched the rather dark sunset from the top of the tower. Bats flew over, and a flock of swifts, and a big vulture, all silhouetted against the evening sky like a huge and delicate shadow play.
On Monday afternoon I rode to Durham to sign the separation contract and get it notarized. Afterwards I grabbed a few small things from my storage unit, went to Bulldega to buy some quality chocolate (one of my best weapons against the cold), and had a nice phone conversation with JC while sitting in the afternoon sun on the elevated plaza of the Durham Center. Then I had dinner at BCBB, and stopped by Li Ming's on the way back to pick up more of that plum wine, some brown rice (since I'd accidentally bought sushi rice the last time), and a whole lot of persimmons. As I headed back to Chatham County the temperature was dropping fast. I appropriately stopped at Frosty's Trading Post to put on some more layers. Right at the end of the trip, on the driveway, I got a little overconfident in my off-road skills, slipped in a mud puddle, dropped the bike, and wound up sort of stepping over the handlebars with no harm done except for getting Kiddo really filthy. I made it back to the tent and went to bed to the sound of coyotes howling in the distance.
Tuesday was quite cold. The cold and darkness have been my main obstacles lately, and because it's hard to eat enough to make up the energy I'm using to keep warm, I'm continuing to burn body fat and release old Lyme toxins, which causes various inflammatory symptoms. I guess all of these trends will reverse in the near future, with the solstice, spring, and getting as lean as my body will let me, but for now they're what I'm dealing with. I think it didn't get above 48F on Tuesday, so with all that and being cramped in my chair working much of the day, and some major emotional processing, I wound up feeling pretty depleted and out of whack, not even motivated to make dinner, and in the end decided to stop trying to fight it and just curled up in my sleeping bag for the night. But then by Wednesday afternoon, it was warm enough to work in the sun and all was well.
Thursday morning, temperatures were around freezing, but I was starting to feel a bit grimy and really wanted to wash. I struck on the brilliant idea of using my still-warm hot water bottle as a sort of crude shower and managed to get up to the courage to go out in the freezing cold wearing only my hat and sandals for a quick splash. It was really quite invigorating. When it was time to work I had another clever idea of snipping the fingers off of some cheap glove liners so I could keep my hands warmer while typing. During my lunch break I wandered around the network of logging roads on our neighbor's land, looked at their deer stands (I think I saw five or six of them), and probably got caught on a trail camera that I spotted too late (which is okay since we have long-standing permission to walk there). I also spotted a mylar balloon with a pink flower stuck in a tree, and a "dominant buck dripper", which is apparently a tube of pheromones that you hang up to make male deer think their territory is being invaded, so they hang around to defend it. I nearly stepped on some chantarelles growing in the path, but didn't pick any since there were only a few. When I got down to Dry Creek, which I hadn't been to that part of in a long time, I was a bit surprised to see the huge houses of the neighboring golf community on the other side. I sort of knew they were over there in a theoretical way but hadn't fully connected the geography, probably because I didn't really want it to connect. Much as it feels like I'm out in the wilderness sometimes, I'm really not.
On Friday I did some laundry in the sun by stomping on it in a metal wash tub and hanging it on the line. We celebrated my dad's 73rd birthday with dinner around the fire, and I had a nice rambling talk with my parents and then just my mom under the crescent moon and stars.
On Thursday night I'd gone over to RM's garage to tell him I was interested in his friend SF's fixer-upper motorcycle, and he set things in motion. On Friday night he kindly brought it back to the shop for me on his trailer and I went over to get a look. It's a 1968 Honda CT-90 with the frame in great shape, original paperwork, two shop manuals, and a box of parts. It's mine for free, although it's going to need a lot of TLC, including a new engine. But I feel like it's going to be well worth the trouble, because it's a great looking, sturdy bike from the golden age of Japanese manufacturing, and when I'm done I'll know every inch of it thoroughly and be a more confident mechanic. I've been wanting an opportunity like this for months and somehow it just fell into my lap! Anyway I've already named it Punkin. Prepare for me geeking out about motorcycle restoration.
Things I Learned
- They make bitter gourd tea. It's basically just freeze-dried bitter gourd slices, but it's great because I like the taste and feel like it must be at least a little bit medicinal, but it's not so easy to find fresh and now I have a consistent supply.
- Wringing socks is way easier if you do a bunch of them together in one bunch.
- There are still glow worms on the ground! I haven't seen any fireflies for them to mate with but they are still hanging in there, or at least they were earlier in the week.
- Sashaying around potholes on my scooter with a little flick of my hips.
- The chirping of tree frogs which I fell asleep to so often as a kid.
- Whorls of frosty grass sparkling in the morning sunshine.
- A really gooey persimmon, which to me is the fruit that tastes the most orange.