Thursday, December 3, 2009

In The Kingdom Of Snot

I'm not normally an allergic sort of person. I've spent most of my life with some minor asthma, but that's it. Oh, sure -- here in Taz, when springtime really goes berserk, I'll occasionally have a day or two of sneezes. But lately... holy shit!

I've been waking up every day for the last month or so with sinuses full of concrete. Sneezing attacks that would do credit to Godzilla have ambushed me at regular intervals. One day, I literally sneezed myself hoarse.

Yesterday, I finally figured out what the frock is going on. Y'see, from 2006-2008 inclusive, we missed the winter rains, and spring was pretty damned patchy. This year, we had a seriously wet winter. Spring was marked by beautiful warm spells, interspersed with nice quantities of rain at useful times. Summer is behaving much the same so far, though a little cooler.

In other words, we've had one hell of a lead-up to the spring growing season, and it shows. The greenery around here could scare the brogue off a leprechaun.

So I finally got a new battery for the tractor, and put it back in the machine. Yesterday, seeing the weather report, I decided I needed to do some slashing while I could. I hopped on the tractor, and happily beetled off: cut the long grass that's been confounding the archery first. Then cleared around the kids' cubby. Then ducked down to the paddock below the house, wherein I have slowly been establishing many kinds of fruit trees. All up, I spent about two hours on the tractor.

It was about a half-hour in when I noticed I couldn't smell that lovely new-mown grass scent any more. In fact, my sinuses were starting to get that brutal, burning, crushing feeling going on... and that was when it clicked. For the first time in four years, we are knee-deep (on me!) in vibrant, green, uber-healthy flowering grass. It's fucking pollen central out there.

Didn't help my evening yesterday, I can tell you. Simultaneously organising dinner for two medical students, plus one of my older ju-jitsu students who is having an English exam today... he wanted help with the poetry side of things, and when he mentioned "Wilfred Owen", I said "Oh -- Dulce Et Decorum Est, right?" and he looked at me like I was some kind of evil wizard. But then I explained that the poem in question is the only one that high-school teachers ever seem to cover from Wilfred Owen, and it's probably the best known of all WWI poems, so it wasn't that clever of me.

Nevertheless: I was cooking like crazy, making Chinese-style steamed chicken dumplings, and chicken-and-sweet-corn soup, and setting up to make citrus ice cream when El Studento arrived. That was okay, because the kids promptly set upon him and took him on an extended tour. But then the med students (Grace and Kerri) arrived, so I had to start plating dinner. At this point, I was working through an extended analysis of the poem, handling three courses of food, and wrangling the kids to the table all at once, and frankly, I think things were starting to get fuzzy around the edges.

Happily, Grace and Kerri took over the soup (it only needed rice noodles by that time), and El Studento took time out to fang into the dumplings, so I had a free hand to drag kids into position, set plates, cutlery, drinks, etc. And then Natalie finally made it home.

Must say: the citrus ice cream over fresh rockmelon slices was pretty freakin' good. (I scalded lemon and orange zest in a little cream, and let it cool. Then I took that cream, and combined it with the regular ice cream ingredients, plus a little mascarpone to help it set. Ohhhh, yeah.)

Anyway, today I woke up yet again with killer snot, after a night of very limited sleep. So I popped a couple of commercial anti-snot drugs, but apparently they contained one of the sleepy-type antihistamines. Lately I've been getting plenty of exercise, minding my food, and not drinking too much, so the level of fitness has climbed a bit. As a result, the goddam snotkiller drugs acted very much like Stoopid Pills. I felt like a grade-A maroon all morning.

I have now sourced some of those one-pill all-day Wondersnot drugs. And having popped one, I'm enjoying both breathing, and wakefulness. It's an interesting change.

About time, too. Aside from the fact that the two junior medics will be back tonight for dinner (marinated charcoal-grilled chicken, smoky vegetable salad and chocolate-orange mousse, all entirely without gluten, thanks) we've got our regular Friday Night movie thing planned. And tomorrow, we've got the ju-jitsu demonstration. And then the boys are on the Cub Scout float. And afterwards, I'll pack up all three kids, go to the airport and collect another medical student (Chrissie. Yay!) who will be around for a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Kerri gets a lift into Launceston, having done her stint for the year. Monday I will be frantically writing and working, because Tuesday, I've done something... well, not stupid, but definitely pushing the limits.

The Dalai Lama is speaking in Hobart on Tuesday afternoon. Elder Son and I have tickets. So I shall drive down in the morning, spend a couple hours soaking up karma-intensive presence and explaining to Elder Son why the guy on the stage is worth hearing. Then we'll turn around and drive right back again...

I sure hope the Dalai Lama appreciates the effort I'm going to!