Thursday, September 30, 2010

How do you spell the sound of a nose blow?

Because that's the soundtrack of my life this week.  Gah.  But it did lead me to remember a story I haven't told you yet, so I guess it's not all bad.
Back in the olden days - 1998 and 1999 - Jason and I lived in Japan, and it seemed like every time we would come back to the US for business or the holidays, one or the other of us would get sick.  I managed to get spectacularly ill one Christmas with a simple cold that went horribly, horribly awry.  There was mucous flying everywhere, I used up more than a full box of tissues in a day, and I was fairly certain that I was either going to dry up into a husk or flip myself inside out while honking away into a Puffs Plus.  I was absolutely miserable - couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate to read, couldn't do anything other than blow my nose and whine.  We were staying at my parents' house, and things were bad enough that I went to the walk-in clinic to see if they could do anything to stop the Niagara Falls of Snot streaming out of my head.  They gave me some version of Claritin to dry me up, told me to buck up, and sent me home.

Now, I don't know if you've ever actually read the list of side effects on a box of cold medicine, but in addition to the normal "drowsiness" there is also something they describe as "restlessness" or "sleeplessness."  I had never had any problem with cold medicine side effects before, but for some reason, whichever version of Claritin I took had some serious issues with my system.  I got the "restlessness" and "sleeplessness" in spades, on top of an already-mostly-sleepless body that was partly dehydrated and miserable to begin with.  I wasn't able to sit still - it's like I was on crack and meth and Red Bull, simultaneously.  If this had happened today I'd just buckle down and knit an entire sweater that night, but this was 1998 or 1999, and I didn't travel with crafts back then.  Instead, I just laid on the couch and vibrated like a tuning fork.  I couldn't even close my eyes for more than a few seconds, much less sleep.

My parents, needless to say, were somewhat concerned about this development.  My mother became convinced that I was going to "spike a fever and go into convulsions" if someone didn't stay up with me (trufax! this is how her mind works!), so my father got drafted into Sit With Gretchen Duty.  All.  Night.  Long.

Did you know that the only thing on cable at 2am between Christmas and New Years in 1998 or 1999 was The Rocky Horror Picture Show?  Which I had to watch for the first time with my father ... while strung out on cold medicine ... with no sleep for the past two days?  Ever try to explain Tim Curry in a leather bustier and thigh-highs to your dad while trying to make sure you were actually seeing it yourself, not just hallucinating it?

Good times, Dad, good times.  Have you gotten "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" out of your head yet?

I'm reminded of this because, until recently, I was unable to take any cold medicine at all because it would give me the same sleeplessness, no matter what time I took the pills.  I could take Nyquil at 8am and vibrate until 8am the next morning.  The effect had worn off somewhat in the past year or so, and I was just getting to the point where I didn't fear for my sanity every time I cracked open a blister pack of pills ... and then I took some DayQuil yesterday morning and paid for it all last night.  I am now intimately familiar with every detail of every wall and ceiling in my bedroom, and I think I've managed to solve both world peace and the energy crisis all at once (if I could just find the slip of paper I wrote it down on).  I also had a sort of lucid dream where I discovered that a mixture of vodka and cranberry juice was perfect for getting out the mildew stains around my bathtub - or at least making it so I didn't care about them anymore.

On the positive side of things, this time I wasn't craftless, so I now only have about 6" of the yoke left on a sweater I'm making for myself.  Can't feel my fingers or my forearms thanks to the carpal tunnel action, but at least my lifeless hands and arms will be warm when I'm done.



Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Hi to the guys up there near Gliese 581!  Please don't judge us by the television broadcasts leaking from our vicinity - we don't all look (or act) like Snooki.  Promise.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lazy Sickbed Blogging Commences in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Now!

Things have been busy around here, what with vacationing and sewing and blah blah blah blah.  Today I'm all caught up on mermaid tails, and I'm pretty miserably coming down with a cold, so sitting in bed with a warm computer on my lap is just about my speed.  Let's see if we can't get you a bit caught up on our recent adventures, shall we?

Five things we've done:

Caught toads in our front yard

Made our own jump rope and candles

Played a ducimer
Woke up to sunrise over Niagara Falls

Convinced the Butterfly Whisperer to share her bounty with others (occasionally)

Five gross things we've seen:
Liza wiping her nose on her shirt every five seconds for the last week

Butterfly sex --->

A dead spider floating in the cup of water I just drank from

The awful acrylic 1970s-tacular yarn people have donated from their stashes for the class I'm going to be teaching at Liza's school

Cat puke.  Lots of cat puke.

Five books I've read:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
One Night Stands and Lost Weekends
Eight Sookie Stackhouse books
Road Trip

    Five things I've made:

    A really, really crumbly whole wheat pie crust

    A pumpkin pie that wasn't hurt by its really, really crumbly crust

    A sweater for myself that I've been trying to make since we went to Blacksburg - in 2008

    Six mermaid tails so far this fall

    Apple oatmeal cookies that Liza never did figure out had apples in them

    (More than) Five beautiful things we've seen:

    Wanted: Dead or Alive

    Name: Tobacco "Bubba" Hornworm

    Suspect was being held in temporary custody outside a private residence.  Preparations were being made to transfer the suspect to a medical facility, where he would be held in suspended animation for several weeks before being released.  The suspect escaped from the temporary holding cell and has not been seen since.  If you have any information about the whereabouts of Tobacco "Bubba" Hornworm, please contact local authorities.  DO NOT APPROACH THE SUSPECT - interactions with other citizens have shown that he may be armed and dangerous!


    Aaaaaaah!  Run for your lives!  Bubba is back, and he's pissed!

    (translation: I had a tank set up with dirt for Bubba to dig into when pupating, but somehow he managed to escape from the butterfly cage that I'd left open and propped on top of the dirt, and I haven't seen him since) 

    Monday, September 06, 2010

    Necessary introductions

    Greetings, puny humans!

    You may ask yourself how Big Bubba - the biggest, baddest tobacco hornworm in Ohio - came to be in such an embarrassing position.  Good question.

    Last week I was perfectly content to be decimating the tomato plants in my kingdom ... until I got a little too greedy and started to eat an actual tomato.  It was green and juicy and rock-hard and full of lovely toxins I can store up in my body to poison the rat-bastard birds who might want to eat me, and I couldn't resist having another bite.  And another.  And another.

    The Little Human noticed that the tomatoes looked funny, and when the Big Human looked at the plant, she spotted me right away.  The fact that I had eaten half of the tomato and all of the leaves which might have camouflaged me might have worked to my disadvantage.

    At any rate, the Big Human broke off the branch I was on - never mind that I was in the middle of a meal! - and trapped me in a heinous prison where I had barely enough room to move ... not that I was going anywhere with half a tomato in my grabby little claspers.

    "Unhand me, woman, or I shall unleash my wrath upon you!" I yelled, although I'm not sure the Big Human heard me.  Or maybe she did.

    "You're full of shit," she told me as she closed the prison with an ominous zip.

    Not anymore, I'm not, lady!  Take that, puny ape-descended life form!  Can you poop out more than your own body volume in one day?  I didn't think so!

    My first day as a prisoner was full of stress and horror.  I had to sit in there all by myself with nothing to amuse me but a luscious, luscious tomato, and then when the Little Human arrived, it was even worse.  The shaking and the unzipping and the breathing on me and the poking and the squealing and the cooing ... ugh, it was all I could do to hold still and play dead for hours.  The next day, however, brought a new horror ... a cell mate.

    It seems the tomato decimation hadn't stopped with my incarceration, and the Big Human located one of my subjects looking guilty on a branch that had been stripped bare.  She snapped off the branch Little Bubba was on and stuck him in the cage with me.  Great.  Now not only was I locked up in this hole, I had to share the space with some pitiful little wreck less than half my size.  Stupid thing didn't even want any of the extra tomato the Big Human put in the cage for it, just ate a few leaves and attempted to make a break for it.  The zipper was too strong for him, though - no wonder, with the pitiful diet he was eating.  It was a boon for me, though - while his attention was elsewhere, I ate Little Bubba's tomato.

    Things were quiet for a few days, with our human slaves dutifully cleaning away our messes and providing fresh sustenance for us.  Then today dawned, and a fresh horror awaited us.  Turns out Little Bubba had been acting so strange - really, what was with eating all those leaves, dude? - because he was infected with parasitic wasp larvae, all of which emerged this morning and tried to make cocoons all over his body.  If I hadn't been so involved in eating his tomato from the day before, I totally would have been running and screaming in horror at the sight of 20 little wriggly worms all over my friend.  

    As it was, I paused my eating for a moment and said a prayer for him as the Big Human hurried to get him out of the cage and away from me.  Wouldn't want those odious wasps to infect Big Bubba, now would we?

    The Big Human put Little Bubba in the grass under a tree and used the edge of a stiff leaf to scrape some of the larvae off of him, but every time one came off, pitiful Little Bubba started oozing green blood where the larvae had been attached.  After a while it became obvious that the poor little guy wasn't being helped, he was being exsanguinated, and the Big Human left him alone.

    When she came back a few minutes later, the most miraculous thing had happened!  The ants which colonize the base of the tree had found Little Bubba, and they were pulling the larvae off and running away with them!  And where the ants had pulled off the larvae, Little Bubba wasn't bleeding!  Huzzah!  The Big Human scraped off the last two or three larvae and left a nice, green tomato branch and tomato right next to Little Bubba to aid in his recovery.  I was so jealous, I could hardly choke down any of my own tomato.

    Hours later Little Bubba was still behaving strangely, apparently avoiding his food and hanging drunkenly onto the grass leaves when everyone knows we can't eat that stuff.  Yech.  Anyway, the Big Human left Little Bubba out there tonight, with no protection from all the evils that prowl the night.  I'll be greatly surprised if a skunk or an owl hasn't gotten him by morning, the poor bugger.  It's got me so depressed, I had to eat another tomato just to calm myself down enough to write this.

    So that's my story.  Trapped in a fabric prison that's safe from predators, being fed horribly tasty food in vast quantities, being doted on by my captors ... it's a tough life.  The Big Human says she's watching me for the telltale signs that I'm ready to pupate, and at that point she's got to figure out how to convince The Man that I need to come inside their house with a big bunch of dirt for me to burrow into the soil as nature intended.  Hah!  That's a conversation I'd like to hear.  Somehow I don't think The Man is going to be that thrilled with having me next to the tadpoles on the kitchen counter all winter.

    But it would be fun to see my captors after I emerge, reborn. I've got a few things up my sleeve that I think would surprise the heck out of the Little One.  For one, one I emerge as a Carolina Sphinx moth, I'm going to be huge.  Yeah, I know, I'm pleasantly plump now, but wait until you see me as a moth that takes up the whole palm of the Big One's hand.  It'll freak that kid right out, I know it.  I'm so big that people mistake me for a hummingbird - which is fine with me, since I can hover and drink nectar and can even drink from hummingbird feeders if I can find one.

    So that's my story.  Now, somebody send a SWAT team to rescue me from this hellhole, okay?  Because I can see my kingdom from here, and it's almost out of green tomatoes.


    Purple dress crocs.  Must have now.  That is all.