Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chocolate food poisoning? Say it ain't so!

Today was, by all standards, a lovely New Zealand summer day. The problem is, Carolyn's body does not appreciate baking in the sun like a roast chicken under a heat lamp; my epidermis is starting to say, "Hey, aren't we supposed to be in the middle of winter right now? When is this sun going to give us a break?"

This morning I was assigned to weeding; specifically, the removal of vineweed, which insidiously wraps itself around and around the stems of plants, and in the soil lays down a labyrinth of wandering, easily-snappable roots that ensure when one tugs, only a tiny bit comes out. It is, essentially, the perfect storm of the weed family. Now, I don't mind a challenge, but when this challenge must play out in an exposed garden bed in direct sun, I start to feel like perhaps the vineweed has the upper hand. By 10:30am (and 27ºC) I was already starting to suffer from minor heat exhaustion, and was happy when Rosemarie moved me to making fresh compost (hmm, now that's a paradoxical phrase if I ever wrote one) after morning tea break.

Rosemarie and Howard have a particular system for making compost, which is partly their own system from England, and partly modifications necessary to deal with the warmer climate and longer growing season here in New Zealand. First, Rosemarie and I lined the compost bin (a wooden box-like structure, closed on three sides) with a layer of silver tarp, both to hold the heat in and keep weeds and roots from infiltrating the compost and sucking up all the delicious and nutritious fetid liquids. Next, I created a latticework of sticks at the bottom, to elevate the compost pile slightly and provide air circulation underneath. As for creating the compost pile itself, Rosemarie described it like making a sponge cake: the "dry" layers, or sponge, consist of about 70% of the compost, and the "green" layers (the icing), the remaining 30%. After each layer I misted the compost with the hose, to keep everything wet and encourage decomposition. While this job did keep me mostly in the shade, I did have to cart the wheelbarrow back and forth, gathering leaves and twigs from piles beside the blacktop driveway for my dry layers, and it wasn't exactly cool on the pavement. I was quite glad when it was 1:00pm and time to stop for lunch.

After lunch Thibaud headed out to the beach (a 15km bike ride away to Richmond: more power to you, mon ami!), and after watching the next episode of Knight Rider with Howard and Rosemarie, I went and hung out in my room for the afternoon, reading and listening to music. I also started conducting an experiment to test a hypothesis I recently formed (although my results are inconclusive). The day before  I became sick, I went into Richmond with Rosemarie to the Pak 'N Save, and while there I bought a Whittaker's milk chocolate bar (they were on sale; I noticed Rosemarie bought two dark chocolate ones). I had four squares of it before dinner that night, and it was that evening I started feeling sick to my stomach. Yesterday I had two squares, and I had a little stomachache before dinner that went away afterward. Today, I ate another four squares, and sure enough, after dinner I started to feel sick... I ended up throwing up my dinner. While I think it would be silly to suggest four squares of chocolate gave me food poisoning severe enough to put me down for the count for two days last week (I do think that was the flu), after tonight I definitely WILL NOT be eating any more of that chocolate bar. Something in it certainly doesn't agree with me.

I also realise I should likely stop writing blog entries that involve me throwing up... it can't make for appealing reading. Anyway...

Feeling low on energy, I didn't protest tonight's movie choice; Meet Dave. All I have to say is that it stars  Eddie Murphy, and that pretty much explains why it wasn't my type of entertainment. I got a bunch of knitting done during its screening, however; I even managed to pick up a dropped stitch. I'm learning, I'm learning.

My stomach still isn't 100%, so I'm off to bed now. No more chocolate for me for a while!


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