Monday, June 20, 2011

Back From whence I came...

"And the seasons they go 'round and 'round...And the painted ponies go up and down. We're captive on the carousel of time; We can't return we can only look behind from where we came, and go round and round and round in the circle game." Joni Mitchell

     I survived the return trip but my left S-I joint (hip) went out of alignment again. I just cannot stand on manmade hard surfaces for hours at a time. Dirt is soft and forgiving but concrete, linoleum, brick, tarmac, etc. have no give and my hip joints are too loose from years of ballet stretches followed by too many years of sitting at a desk.

     It only takes about an inch of displacement to make my knees scream and swell, and my muscles ache. It takes nearly two weeks to recuperate each time this happens. Losing weight will help tremendously. Six months of work related stress with related exhaustion and depression concluded in a twenty five pound weight gain.  
     I was beginning to lose weight, tone up, and feel my muscles stretching and building as we lived aboard, traveling and working the locks and moving through our days with walks along the cut or off into local villages.
     I felt healthier because I was happy, active, and living in the present moment with the one I love. I didn't allow myself to think about work while in England. I knew what would be waiting for me when I returned. 

Heathrow Terminal 5 looks like a -25th centuray space docking station
     We boarded the plane Saturday at Heathrow, at 2:00 pm London time. Our takeoff was delayed an hour due to an on board passenger falling desperately ill just after boarding. An ambulance was called, the passenger was removed and his luggage was located. We were sixth in the cue for takeoff. For awhile I thought the pilot intended to drive the 747 to the coast and take off there...
      We arrived home in Pullman Sunday morning at nine am London time--1:30 am Pullman time. Both of us were wiped out. Sunday morning we went for latte's at Dissmore's, picked up some groceries and sat under the umbrella on the back deck like lizards, soaking up the dry warmth and resting. 
     We ate roast beef sandwiches with extra sharp cheddar, fresh bread slathered with horseradish mayonnaise, and homemade potato salad for dinner. As we cleaned up I suggested we take a walk and then come back and have a bite of cherry pie and a cup of tea. 
     With an affirmative nod Dear Sir took my hand and led me to the bedroom. "Let's rest for ten minutes first."  We lay down like spoons and fell into a deep sleep from which we awoke in the middle of the night. We fell back into a deep slumber and I dreamed we were cradled there in the bed at Cloudhouse; I woke up and looked at the view of the green waving wheat out of the window in the sitting room--but I was looking out of the boat window! I don't feel as though I've returned home; I feel like I left home behind.

Ozlem Biggs courtesy L. Biggs
      The second weekend in England we visited with Les and Val's son Steve his lovely wife Ozlem, and their boys Teo and Battu. They are a household of vegetarians nonetheless Ozlem fixed a brilliant dinner which included delicious chicken, several wonderful salads (I especially loved the potato salad with parsley and other yummy greens). Everything was prepared with loving care and dinner was most appreciated. For dessert we had profiteroles which I have never had before! They were decadent and divine! 
     A good visit commenced with Steve who is a body builder, wrestler, and promoter. We chatted a bit about his work and Ozlem told me a little about her family in Turkey. She was quite familar with using nettles as a nutritious food. I enjoyed her company and I appreciated the opportunity to get to know them.
Steve Biggs, Teo and Battu courtesy L. Biggs
     Their boys are wonderful--spirited and imaginative. At one point the oldest had both Les and I in his "chair" and pretended to barber our hair with his transformer.
     I enjoy watching Les with children. He clearly loves kids. Dear Sir can make up the most amazing, imaginative, and preposterous stories on a dime and kids love this about him. He gets right into their world at their level and participates. 
     When we visited with Les and Val's son Kevin and his wife Joanne, I enjoyed Les' reading of The Gruffalo to little Kiera as much as she did! The two of them have clearly done this gig before as each took a part in telling the story from the book, which is obviously her favorite.
      Kev took us grocery shopping before driving us back to the boat. Les has a pattern for shopping. He knows where everything familiar is, and he gets his cart and zooms through the store like a Ferrari on the Indianapolis speedway. He was nearly at the checkout stand and I was still standing there in an aisle with my mouth open.
      Grocery shopping in England is difficult for me and I nearly broke down and cried. Most things are labeled differently; all the weights and measures are in a foreign format; there are far more choices than we have here, and the cost is in Pounds and pence.
    One cut of meat which I recognized as a large, thin slice of sirloin steak was labeled Escalope! At first I thought I was being introduced to an antirely new species! It is beef, but it has been cut thin and sometimes is treated to a pounding with a mallet.  
     Groceries over there are for the most part less expensive than over here. We stopped at a greencrocers in a small village near the canal one afternoon. Nothing was said about whether the food was organic--I just assumed it probably was because it was locally produced and sold by the greengrocer. We purchased a lovely loaf of fresh bread, two heads of Boston or Bib lettuce, a bunch of green or spring onions, and a bag of mushrooms. all together it came to £2.30!
     In Pullman the loaf of fresh baked bread alone costs nearly $6.00. Bibb or Boston lettuce as its known here, is $5.00 a head. these two items alone would have cost $15.00 and that doesn't count the bunching onions or the mushrooms. 
     Some things are more expensive--lattes for example. The few times we bought them they were nearly £5 a piece; here, it depends on where one buys them. Starbucks and Zoe's are spendy but the lattes Dear Sir and I favor are $2.32 a piece at Dissmores. 
     A word about fish and chips: you have never really experieinced them in America--end of discussion!
     While moored in Berkhamstead--a lovely and very old town distinguished by the ruins of Berkhamstead castle from which William the Conquerer ascended to the English throne in 1066--we found a new fish and chips shop in the train station! 

     I cannot wax eloquently enough on the chips which were deep fried to a lovely light brown and full of potato flavor, or the fish; an entire fillet breaded and fried, wrapped in paper! Neither fish 'nor chips were greasy! English cooking knows how to treat the humble potato the taste of which is easily breaded and steamed into nonexistence over here; now I find American steak fries tasteless and greasy by comparison. They are deep fried slabs that look like potatoes and taste like cardboard.
     My first day back to work and nothing had changed--and everything had changed. New phones led to spending the morning learning a new system; a new email system meant none of my mapped network drives linked up to email and IT had to make several trips to restore things for me. My colleagues took brilliant care of my students and my returning work load wasn't too onerous; my emails were up to nearly four hundred but triage soon whittled them down to manageable I was caught up with them by Wednesday.
     Tuesday evening Les was ill--having contracted some crud on the airplane with its recirculating air system. He awoke in the middle of the night with swollen painful nasal cavities, a sinus headache, stuffed nose and raw throat. His eyes were dull and rhuemy and he looked miserable.
     He asked me to pick up something over the counter from the grocer's. I told him I would do that but he should know studies indicate those products do not make you better and certainly don't make you well faster; they make you think you feel better--until they wear off---so you can get out bed and cavort around at work when you should be resting. He agreed to try the alternative methods. 
     I ran to Moscow Food Co-op and picked up a bottle of Osha Root and some Oregon Grape Root tinctures. Osha root is an antibiotic the Pacific Northwest Native tribes have used for centuries. I figured if we were dealing with strep throat Osha would take care of it. Oregon Grape Root is an anti-viral of unparalleled strength which kills flu and other viruses. At home I had tincure of Goldenseal which is a soothing anti-inflammatory for soft mucous tissue like the mouth and throat.
     Les was under instructions to alternate tinctures once an hour; stay completely away form sugar which compromises the immune system's ability to function, drink loads of water, take EmergenC and rest.
    By Wednesday Les was still sick but non longer rhuemy.
     I thought some humor therapy would help boost his immune system so we watched the movie "Mama Mia!" sitting companionably close on the couch "that eats your ass," as my kids call my super comfy living room sofa.
     After dinner I cut his hair and then my own. The crud was migrating to his chest now and I could hear a slight wheezing. He said his chest felt tight to I used some Badger Chest rub (the non petroleum equivalent of Vicks Vapo Rub), and put him to bed with a hot washcloth on his chest covered by the heating pad turned on high.
     He woke up Thursday morning and said he still felt ill but the phlegm in his chest had loosened enough to cough it up, and while he was weak and tired, he had a bit more energy. I warned him not to succumb to the siren call of getting out of bed to do things.
     Rest is the only time our bodies actually heal themselves, which is why over the counter meds like Theraflu are so counter-productive. The heavy duty cocktail of chemicals and synthetic medicines subdues the physical effects of illness and tricks one into thinking health is just around the corner and functioning normally is fine. 
     In reality the disease is continuing to build a viral or bacterial load and will run its course as it sees fit, and it will actually take longer for one's body to recover because of the lack of rest involved in pretending not to be ill. 
     Les' poet shirt arrived in the mail. He tried it on with his black leather vest and black jeans. To be honest the shirt was not what it appeared online. It looked more like a homespun shorty nightgown and he was definitely not comfortable. So the poet shirt is out for him and we need to buy him a nice dressy white shirt for the wedding. We laughed hysterically as he posed in shirt, boxers and stockings and he made me take pictures. Ah well, the best laid plans...
     I was not feeling really great but I took the tinctures too in the hope I wouldn't fall ill as well. What timing!! Our wedding was only 48 hours away!  

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