Saturday, October 24, 2009


ok, so i'm getting ready to leave the house to do a little light trail work and go to the pharmacy and then to a nice dinner at a restaurant for my brother-in-law's birthday ad for some reason as i pass the mirror in the bathroom i lift my shirt up a little and

-what's this?-

i don't recall having an angry-looking purple welt there...

and i'm trying to get a good look at it, but it's on one of those pieces of real estate along your flanks that you can't really see and can't really reach and i'm trying all sorts of contortions and mirrors and i still can't get a good look, but it looks like it might have legs.

now, i've had a bunch of tick bites and picked off countless ticks before they bite, and one of the things about the legs is that they move, which is what makes them so creepy.

typically, they bite, they dig in, they feed, and then they drop off to lay eggs. this one, apparently, has died WHILE DEEPLY EMBEDDED IN MY FLESH, so that's kind of icky, and later on i will get around to wondering why it dies there; i mean, have you ever tried to kill a tick? they're like, bombproof. you have to squeeze HARD.

and i figure that the last time i might have picked up a tick would have been monday, so it's been there four days at least, and i'd have had to have picked it up in the adirondacks, where supposedly they don't have ticks.

oddly, the last embedded tick i had, i got in the adirondacks, where they supposedly don't have ticks.

somebody is lying.

so i call my doctor right away, because this thing has to come out and considering how long it's been in me, i'm going to need doxy. (do you remember when "doxy" referred to a woman of questionable virtue and not a strong antibiotic?)

and they tell me they'll have the triage nurse get right back to me, but nobody calls for an hour and a half so i call them back and it turns out they don't think it's important to return my call because they have nobody available to see me today and i should go to the walk-in care clinic.

well, that's nice. ya think it would have been useful to call me and let me know?

so i put together my things and head out to walk-in care, and i am not really prepared for what i find there. it's not quite matthew brady, but there's a lot of misery there.

the guy at the front desk barely looks at me and asks "chest pains? cough? fever?"

uh, no. embedded tick. probably infected. probably not lyme, but dirty, you know?

well, it's going to be a long wait, he tells me.

how long?

a couple of hours. he tells me to have a seat in the waiting area.

i am not comfortable in there. the place is jam-packed with people who have the flu. our area actually has a cluster of real live H1N1 cases, so they're all suited up with masks and such, but they're all coughing and feverish.


but i'm going to need the doxy.

the guy calls me up to be checked in. he notices that i do not touch the desk or any other part of the furniture if i can't help it. he offers me some of his disinfectant, which i take.

i return to the waiting area. i feel very much out of place.

see, now i've felt pretty complacent about H1N1 and every other flu or cold because i have a robust immune system and i live alone. not alone in the city; alone in the country.

flu epidemic? i don't care. i don't come into contact with people.

but here i am at the hospital, surrounded by people with flu. and you just KNOW that some of them have H1N1, not that i care about strain.

i mean, i haven't had a cold in so long that i don't even remember if it was four or five years ago.

the intake nurse comes to get me, and i express to her my tredipation at having been plunked down in the middle of all these sick people. i mean, just take the tick out and give me the doxy already. it's not very complex.

she suggests that maybe i might have a friend take the tick out. ok, fine, but even if i could get a friend to take it out properly, i'll still need the doxy.

at this point it becomes apparent that even though it is not yet three in the afternoon, i am going to miss my five-thirty dinner reservations with my family.

i am sent back to the waiting area, but i ask the guy at the desk if i might do my waiting outside, where there isn't quite so much plague floating around in a closed space.

he says sure, and goes so far as to suggest that i might wait in the main lobby (just around the corner), where typically they do not allow people with visible symptoms to hang out.

fine. i make myself comfortable there.

and i wait.

and wait.

i call my mom, to explain why i'm going to be late to dinner. she says that they'll stall if they can, and they'll order for me, which ought to give me a little extra time.

somewhere just before five i get impatient. i have read the end of one book and made a good start on a second. now i get up and start pacing.

and finally someone comes to get me.

"i'll give you a gown and come back when you're ready."
"i'm ready", i say, pulling off my shirt and dumping it on a nearby chair.


so the guy comes to take the tick out and he starts to make friendly chitchat but i cut him short, saying that i'm already going to be late for a dinner reservation, so we keep it pretty much to business. he gets most of the dead tick out, telling me not to worry about the parts left in; what's there is buried pretty deep and my body, he says, will push it out just fine.

he disappears to write the scrip, and just this last part takes twenty minutes.

seventeen minutes later i am at the restaurant, and the moment i sit down the waiter puts my plate in front of me, and what has been ordered for me is fabulous, so that goes a long way.

but what i want to know is this: why did the tick die? why not feed and drop off, like they're supposed to? is there something toxic in my blood? is one of my medications fatal to ticks?

that'd be cool.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a day on the road

out on the road there's a routine to adhere to, both because peregrination demands it, and because a routine makes it easier to manage the many details of "stuff" that has to be tended to.


for your amusement, i'll try to reconstruct my typical day for you, in handy list form:

  • waking

  • trying to figure out where i am (the better i have slept, the less likely i am to know my location or orientation.)

  • waking prayer (if i can conclude my prayer without lapsing back into sleep, i get up.)

  • move "downstairs" into the driver's seat, leaving bedding open and unfolded.
    turn on car and check temperature. if there is frost or much condensation, the car is left running until these clear up.

  • put on shoes, which are located on driver's side floor.

  • move driver's seat to daytime position, suitable for driving.

  • remove various objects from top of closed computer and move them to day positions: unplug earbuds from ipod and roll them into their case, which goes in the front pocket of the blue bag, on the passenger's side floor. power cords not presently being used go into cord bag. food items not consumed during sleep replaced in their proper bags. wrappers from food items consumed in sleep put in trash bag. cell phone located (it's somewhere in the bed) and placed with ipod in center console. water bottles (2) put in daytime positions, one handy and one not. if a pizza box is present, it moves to the back seat awaiting final repositioning.

  • open and plug in computer, replacing appropriate power cords into appropriate outlets. be sure to wedge the door over the power converter open so it won't overheat and blow a fuse.

  • plug in ipod to charge.

  • emerge from driver's side door.

  • open driver's side rear door.

  • move green food bag and green kitchen bag to temporary location.

  • remove breakfast drink from cooler and place it in cupholder.

  • zip up cooler.

  • move cooler from the ground beside the car to its daytime position behind the driver's seat, on top of the map bag.

  • replace the green bags around the cooler.

  • open tailgate and other car doors.

  • previous day's laundry is sorted. outer layers clean enough to wear again are left on the left side of the cargo space. dirty laundry is put in the laundry bag.

  • at back of car, strip off any shirts worn during the night.

  • put on a clean bra and then put the bottom layer, short-sleeve shirt back on.

  • other shirts still clean enough for sleeping are buried in the rear of the cargo space, to the far right.

  • shirt(s) appropriate for the day's weather are selected and pulled on.

  • tights or other leggings worn in sleep are removed and put with sleeping shirts.

  • pants (and long johns, if cold enough) are selected and applied.

  • pocket items (lip balm, pens, folding money and such) taken from dash and put in pockets.

  • sleeping hat is removed and put in the pocket on the back of the passenger's seat.

  • daytime hat is recovered and put on.

  • change from soft shoes to today's hiking boots.

  • a jacket (raingear or standard geocaching jacket) may be put on at this or any other time, as needed.

  • stove disassembled and parts stowed in green kitchen bag.

  • computer turned on.

  • bedding folded up. pillows covered.

  • pizza box, if present, is moved to top of bedding just behind passenger's seat.

  • laundry and clothing bags are redistributed to daytime positions, spread across back of car.

  • towel(s) spread out over gear bags to dry.

  • drive or walk to nearest toilet. at any point where gas or groceries are purchased, also make use of available restroom. do not buy anything from businesses without public restrooms.

  • drive to nearest wifi access point, check emails. if no open network is nearby, this step may be skipped until one is available. this action may also be repeated as the day goes on.

  • select day's first destination.

  • while driving, drink breakfast.

  • geocache. or not, depending on availability of distractions. mostly geocache.

  • at 1000h, stop for morning prayer. if time of prayer arrives while driving, stop at nearest convenient place. if no place is available (interstate driving comes to mind) turn off radio or other distraction and have prayer while driving. if time and place permit, read a page or two of scripture.

  • if breakfast beverage bottle is empty, (i only drink half at a time) it goes to trash. if not empty, replace in cooler.

  • resume geocaching.
    at some point in the day the radio s being used instead of the ipod, unplug ipod and use outlet to charge flashlight.

  • prayer at noon, followed by

  • lunch. if a cold pizza is present, two slices are eaten. if a pizza is not present, a bowl of cheerios is eaten.

    if eating cheerios:

  • assemble spiffy origami cereal bowl.

  • pour cereal (two kinds) and milk.

  • find spork. not the usual kind, but the advanced kind, with spoon on one end and fork/knife combo on other.

  • when done eating, pour out leftover milk, unfold and rinse bowl and utensil, repacking the kitchen and food bags.

  • resume caching.

  • afternoon prayer at 1400.

  • resume caching.

  • evening prayer at 1700, followed by

  • dinner. if cold pizza is present, eat that. if pizza is not present, find a suitable place from which to buy ether another pizza, or other grocery items.

  • find nearest open network, and check email.

  • return to nearest available toilet. sometimes this is at the campsite, and sometimes it is several miles away.

  • return to campsite.

    now comes the REAL fun:

  • if it is cold, turn on the heat.

  • if the campsite is empty, choose a podcast to listen to while preparing for bed. this minimizes the number of things you think you hear out in the darkness.

  • remove SD card from camera, and transfer photos to computer.

  • write today's caches (in chronological order) in black notebook.

  • shut down, close, and unplug computer.

  • plug cellphone charger into outlet previously used by computer.

  • if there is a pizza box present that still contains pizza, put it on top of the closed computer.

  • if an empty pizza box is present, place it and other paper waste in campsite fire ring and burn.

  • take out night items and arrange on top of either computer of pizza box (see above):

  • water bottles moved from daytime places

  • bible and other reading

  • ipod and earbuds

  • pretzels and granola bars from food bags.

  • open driver's side back door.

  • take stove and cook pot from kitchen bag and assemble stove, placing it on the ground in a suitably flat place left of car.

  • open tailgate on way to passenger side where both doors there are opened.

  • take out two water jugs (three if more water will be needed) and return to stove area.

  • unless the "WASH ONLY" jug is full (it nearly never is), fill the quart sized cookpot with water from one of the other jugs.

  • the lid to the wash jug goes on the rear door hadle so it can be found later.

  • light stove (lighter located driver's side rear door handle) and put water on to boil.

  • return to passenger side front and fill water bottles with potable water from jug(s).

  • replace potable jug(s) on passenger side rear floor.

  • brush teeth.

  • sort out meds. if the hour is close enough to bedtime, take all of them. if there remains a couple of hours before sleep, take only non-sedative meds, leaving sedatives in med cup, located in front passenger side door.

  • sort out sleeping clothes, being certain to choose a clean pair of socks suitable for tomorrow's shoes and weather.

  • take slip back clogs and put them on the ground near the driver's side rear door. move tomorrow's boots to outside position (alternate boots by day), leaving room for today's boots in inside position of driver's side rear floor, where shoes are kept.

  • empty pockets, putting items on dash.

  • take flashlight from front console and place in pants pocket.

  • check on the water to see if it's boiling or not. probably it isn't.

  • evening prayer. if appropriate to place and weather, light a candle.

  • keep watching to see when water boils. it's cold and dark out, and you don't want to waste gas. a watched pot does, in fact, boil.

  • when water boils, turn off stove.

  • put on heavy duty workgloves that serve as potholders. (kitchen bag)

  • carefully pour hot water into wash jug. since it already had some cold water in it, what results is water of a comfortable temperature with which to wash.

    depending on the weather, these next steps may have to be executed very quickly or especially vigorously or they become excessively uncomfortable:

  • strip off all clothing above the waist. any clothing that is excessively dirty or that has been in contact with poison ivy is turned inside-out immediately.if there are people present nearby, a changing skirt may be used to protect their sensitive eyes.

    working from top down:

  • pour heated water on head.

  • using a tiny bit of shampoo, wash hair (there's not very much hair to wash). if it is unbearably cold or rainy and/or i haven't broken a sweat during the day, this step may be omitted on alternate nights.

  • using only as much soap as sticks to my hand in one pass over the bar, wash face. on each step warm water is poured so that it flows over exposed body parts.

  • similarly wash arms, chest, pits, anything i can reach. pants and boots are left on so far in order to keep feet and soft shoes dry, as well as for warmth.

  • vigorously towel off.

  • put on first sleeping layer: lightweight short sleeve shirt. unless it's REALLY cold out, the hat does not go on yet in order to allow the hair to dry.

  • the flashlight is removed from the pants pocket and retuned to its place in the center console.

  • change from boots to soft shoes and remove pants and, if present, long johns. keep sock on; they will absorb nearly all of the stray water thereby keeping shoes dry.

  • wash squishy bits, then legs.

  • if it's saturday, shave legs. on saturday nights no portion of the washing-up may be skipped for any reason. to come to church sunday properly washed up is an offering.

  • one foot at a time (right first) remove dirty sock, wash and dry foot, put on clean sock.

  • put on all remaining bedclothes: one lightweight layer in warm weather, a light weight and a midweight layer in cool weather, and a lightweight, a midweight and a heavyweight layer including a hood in very cold weather.

  • all gear is removed from bedding and piled up in the cargo space, on the driver's side.

  • towel(s) are spread out over the gear bags.

  • the cooking pot is turned upside-down and put over the stove.

  • one last check is made to be certain that gear is appropriately stowed.

  • starting at the front passenger side, the doors are closed. the last door is never closed unless the driver's door is open, or unless the keys are IN MY HAND. voice of experience.

  • once inside car, lock doors.

  • push driver's seat all the way back and lean it as far flat as it will go. this makes it easier to get in and out of the back.

  • turn on car one last time to check temperature.

  • apply moisturizer to hands.

  • turn off all lights besides dome light.

  • unplug cell phone from charger, placing it in the outer folds of bedding. the phone is kept with me at night because it has on it the only clock i can see without my glasses.

  • remove power converter and other cords from console compartment and close compartment.

  • unplug ipod from car, plugging in earbuds.

  • conclude "downstairs" portion of the day, retiring "upstairs" to the "loft". the sleeping area is only nine inches higher than the driver's seat, but it still feels to me like going upstairs for the night.

  • if all meds have not been taken, take remaining ones.

  • settle comfortably into bedding.

  • if it's early enough, read. if not, choose an appropriate podcast to listen to while falling asleep.

  • have a few last words of prayer.

  • sleep.
  • Monday, October 05, 2009


    i'm out on the road. while i'm out here i live in my car, hanging the loose "where" of my days on geocaches and stopping at regular intervals for prayer.

    so out here i need campsites, food, fuel, and occasionally an open network.

    there's a sequence to it.

    to start, i have to establish a "home" from which i can cache. sometimes this is an actual campground, but i can stretch my trip a LOT longer if i find free legal campsites.

    they're hard to find.

    so if i have one, i can stay there and while i'm out caching i look for others, and when i find another, my area expands to what i can practically reach from that new base. it's kind of a game of leapfrog.

    around the new campsites, i have to find public restrooms or outhouses that i can use, because these are not typically present at the campsites.

    and you NEED those things.

    i also need open networks that i can use to pick up my email, send messages, and do research. most libraries have open networks these days, but out in rural areas it can be tricky to find libraries.

    and pizza! pizza is the ideal food for the roadtrip; $16 usually buys you enough pizza for three meals. it can be eaten cold, and it comes in a handy box. it's nutritious and you can get different meat and vegetables on every one you get, so you can kind of vary what vitamins you get.

    sometimes you can find natural springs to fill up your jugs, too. sometimes the water is sweet and good, besides useful.

    i also have to find gas stations and pharmacies and churches; i always say that wherever i am on sunday is where i go to church, but that's only partly true.

    the whole truth is that as i travel from town to town during a week, i get a sense of where i should go to church. i consider it prayerfully, trying to get a feel for where i ought to be.

    sometimes that's not a surprise. sometimes it's a church not so dissimilar from my home church, but sometimes it's a church very foreign to my experience.

    typically at least once in a trip i will return to a church where i have gone already because i'm returning to friends, but i also like to stretch and make new friends.

    i start to feel more at home on my earth, welcome and comfortable in wider and wider ranges.

    and all of these places go on my map: springs, privies, campsites, churches, pizza places. it all goes in my giant database of amenities so i can find my way back later.

    out where i am now there are a lot of roads that are on the map but they don't go through anymore. it's easy to get lost or have to go around the long way, so i got this brilliant idea: map those so i can avoid them later!

    so my day is partly geocaching, partly searching for amenities, partly study and partly prayer.

    if i can be of service to someone along the way, that's just gravy.

    i gots ta go back to my campsite now.


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