Saturday, January 4 2014
I got up early this morning to tend to the fire. When I went outside, the cold was so intense that it caused pain in the exposed skin of my face. When I happened to look at a digital thermometer, I saw the number 5 and thought "hmm, it seemed colder than that." And then I saw the symbol rendering that number negative.
Sarah the Vegan visited this morning to go on a walk with the dogs despite the low temperatures (though at least it was sunny). Later she mentioned something about having suffered from a short-lived illness that made her vomit nearly everything out of her system. Meanwhile I'd been drinking lots of black tea and not eating much (perhaps because Sarah was there, interrupting the usual flow of the morning). At some point I felt like I might have to throw up myself, so I ran upstairs and got on my knees. The wave of nausea soon passed, and having been so close to the bathroom mat, I now saw there was fecal matter (hopefully feline) that had gotten into it and dried into a surprisingly hard material. My policy is to always clean up fecal matter the moment I see it, no matter how much of an interruption it is to do so.
Gretchen did an afternoon shift at the bookstore in Woodstock, though I met her there at 7:00pm with the dogs so that the four of us could continue on to a season's volunteer party at the farm animal sanctuary in Willow. At the bookstore, the dogs ran around and I swept the floor while Gretchen counted the money.
Aside from Jenny and Doug and one or two other people, I knew almost nobody at the party tonight. The attendees were a younger generation, and I mean that almost literally. They were mostly young enough to have been my children. All the old regulars (like Dan the cartoonist) have either been alienated, moved away, or both. In any case, an endless variety of food and beverages had been provided. The only thing I ate all night were the seitan chicken wings from New World Home Cooking, which tasted tonight exactly like KFC, a flavor I've been missing since giving up meat permanently. (I have no shame about my appreciation for the addictive flavor of KFC, but it's great that it can now be entirely synthesized without harming sickly animals in the process.)
Much of the evening at the party was spent with performances of karaoke. These days it's easier to do this than it used to be; today's karaoke used a combination of a mixer and a website that provides the de-vocalized soundtracks and lyric scrolling. But it was an imperfect system, and sometimes the songs would die half-way through. Also, it was difficult to hear one's own voice while singing, so nearly everyone (except for the woman most excited by the festivities) sounded terribly pitchy. We'd looked on the website to see what the availability of songs was, and found that there weren't any that hadn't been chart toppers. But there weren't any songs from recent pop radio airplay either. (I would have wanted to do Icona Pop's "I Love It.") Gretchen and I did the song that we always do, the Carpenter's "We've Only Just Begun." Meanwhile Ramona kept going and getting toys out of the household dog toy box, leaving them in places where people tended to trip over them. She also delighted in nibbling on people's ears, at one point surfing a whole long couch's worth of people, going from one ear to the next in a matter of seconds.
Back at the house, Gretchen eventually went to bed, and later when I went to join her, she warned me about going into the bathroom, where there was now a huge puddle of vomit (the inevitable consequence of vomiting while seated on a toilet). By now we were wondering if perhaps she'd been visited by the same vomiting contagion that had afflicted Sara the Vegan, a number of other people, and perhaps even (this morning) me.
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