February 6th, 2015

The Red Tree

"To the end of the Earth I'll search for your face, the one who laid all of our beauty to waste."

Somehow, in the past thirty-two hours or so, I've become that kid from summer camp. You know the one. The kid who somehow manages to get poison ivy, after spraining their ankle, after the run in with the leeches and the yellowjackets, after the squirrel attack, after slicing their hand open during the woodworking class where we learned to make bird houses. And their parents can't come and retrieve them from cruel Camp Granada, because their parents are on vacation in Miami. Yes, I have become that kid. On the one hand, we managed to all but vanquish the dermatitis with oral and topical Benadryl, but, on the other, yesterday I was getting the fire going and dropped the poker on the same goddamn big toe that I almost tore the nail off last Saturday. The nail is currently blue, purple, and red. It's not broken, but it bled like a motherfucker. And then a huge blood blister formed beneath the nail. Currently, the toe's not as swollen as it was last night, but it's...well, one of the scariest things I've ever seen on a foot. And I've seen some ugly feet. I have such chronic foot pain and numbness anyway, and...yeah, there you go. Right now, we're debating do-it-yourself trepanation, burning through the top of the nail with a hot needle, to drain the blister and relieve the swelling. It's a trick I learned when I was a field paleontologist, and we were constantly doing horrid things to ourselves.

Please, no medical advice. It'll only annoy me, and I'm already annoyed.

Sirenia Digest #108 went out to subscribers yesterday, and I'm very pleased with this issue. For one thing, "The Cripple and the Starfish"* is the best story I've written since "The Cats of River Street (1925)." I wrote that way back in early August, for #102.

Before I tried to break my toe yesterday, we left the cabin about noon and headed out Route 212 to frozen Cooper Lake. The windchill, well below zero, was brutal, and we were only able to be out of the van for a few minutes at a time. The threat of frostbite was very real. But it was beautiful. The wind whipped the snow up into clouds and dervishes that swept and whirled across the great white plain of the lake. And behind it all, a bulwark raised against the blue, blue sky, Mount Guardian, Indian Head, Overlook Mountain, Plattekill Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Olderbark Mountain. We took a few photos, behind the cut, below.

For dinner, Spooky made hamburger steaks and cheese pierogi with green peas, and we had Guinness. A bottle of Guinness is good for a smashed big toe. Later, there was chocolate babka and The West Wing (Season Four) and I read "Camelus grattardi, sp. nov., a new camel from the Shungura Formation, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, and the relationships of African fossil Camelidae (Mammalia)."

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Ain't Beat

*Note: Yes! I found a better title and ditched "Stabbing the Face of Winter." Thank you, Antony and the Johnsons.