Thursday, October 21, 2004


Did I spell that right? Does it matter?

I'm just taking a few moments out of my morning, before the day turns hectic, to update you on my spiritual, physical, and mental conditions... because I know you care. If you didn't, you wouldn't be here, now would you?

My back has righted itself. There was something more going on than a pulled muscle in my back, it was more of a muscle-fatigue issue that was exacerbated by the pulled muscle; after I managed to get the pulled muscle massaged and heated and relaxed, a general lethargy remained that made it difficult for me to hold my head up or walk around much. I think it was viral, as there were other flu-like symptoms (like nausea and chills) that accompanied the fatigue but were disguised by my general discomfort so that I didn't notice them... not until I had an hour-long attack of explosive diarrhea followed by chills and exhaustion that sent me to bed for fifteen hours of uncomfortable sleep, after which the whole thing sort of passed off.

But anyway it has passed, and I am back to more-or-less-normal again. This episode really illustrated to me how many different muscles I use, almost unconsciously, on a daily basis... I mean, I never realized how many muscles were involved just holding my gut in, until they stopped holding up anything and I found myself walking around with this low-slung quivering Buddha-belly that I couldn't control. It was most unattractive.

The allergy symptoms may have been part of the virus, too, since nobody else I know who is allergic to everything has been suffering this last week. But it might also just be the rain that has kept the pollen out of the air. Incidentally, I found out that pernicious yellow dust on my car last week was not acacia after all; acacia only blooms in the spring. It was, instead, the eucalyptus trees that were blooming.

Now, this is really just splitting hairs, since they look alike and both have yellow pollen and I am allergic to both of them; but the eucalyptus is not native to California and so blooms on a schedule all its own, while the trees we Californians call "acacia" (Acacia gregii, or cat's claw) is native and blooms on a set schedule, as native trees are wont to do.

The story of how the eucalyptus trees got into California is one of my favorites, and a cautionary tale about importing non-native species: some brilliant thinker of the nineteenth century heard that the Australian eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) is one of the tallest trees in the world, bears an excellent hardwood, and grows to full height in only seven years, two or three times as fast as the pine and oak trees native to the area.

What he did not know, when he decided to import a grove-full of such trees to grow fast for quick lumber profits, is that there are several different varieties of eucalyptus that grow in Australia, only some of which have hard enough wood to use for lumber or paper-pulp... and of course, that wasn't the variety of eucalyptus that he bought.

The variety he ended up with (Eucalyptus globulus or Tasmanian blue gum) was completely useless for lumber or paper, and although it was useful for menthol oil, the original importer was a single-minded old poop and just abandoned the trees. The E. globulus loved the California climate and grew like weeds, and the whole species was completely out of control in a few years; now the lovely trees (and they really are quite attractive, tall and slim and shivery) cover the hills of the Bay Area and have traveled by the various waterways to grow along most of the rivers and creeks of the Central Valley.

They reach maturity and start reproducing in about two years, they shed a stunning amount of bark all over the place, they attract ants, and they spew bright yellow pollen so thick you can taste it (and it's bitter); if you don't keep them back from your house, they will knock it off its foundations in a couple of years; if you cut it down and tar over the stump, it will still grow, shooting up around the roots and making even more trees, like a hydra, and the only way to permanently kill one is to dig up its entire root system.

Well, I've wasted enough time nattering on about these things (I'll bet a quarter that when you logged in today, the last thing you expected was a botany lecture). I have to get to work, busy busy busy day ahead: in fact, this whole week has been unaccountably tiring.

On Monday, I was suffering from the flu-thing, and so didn't get much done, and then on Tuesday I was laboring away at a set of minutes, and then yesterday I was laboring away at our newsletter; now today I have to get the newsletter printed and distributed, and while that's going on I have to go out and buy some snacks for the board meeting, print up the minutes and agendas for the board meeting, rearrange the conference room to accomodate the board meeting, take notes at the board meeting, and then clean up after the board meeting. And then, after all that, I have to do my General Service newsletter, which I really ought to have done last week and really don't want to do at all.

I just don't want to go. I want to stay here with you! But O, the curse of being a responsible adult... I have to go, and I have to get through this day, and the next one, and I have to have to have to...

Anyway, I hope you're having a great day, and I'll try to write something a little more interesting next time. Toodles!

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