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My South: C is for clouds, carbs, counting and cucumbers

June 14th, 2014 · 4 Comments


(and caving in)

Sometimes, it just makes sense to pull the camera phone from the passenger seat, balance it on the rim of the steering wheel, and snap away at the sky. These lofty formations were spied as I drove westbound on I-20 from work in Leeds toward home in Birmingham. (Click on the images to get a full-size cloudy picture.)

cloud one

Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world…

cloud two_edit

…I feel like I can’t take it…

cloud three_edit

…like my heart is just going to cave in.
– Ricky Fitts, the plastic bag videographer in American Beauty

CARBS (part one)

The diet of the American South is steeped in things that are incredibly tasty and not very healthy: cornbreads, pies, all kinds of fried stuff, even more fried things, and other bready things stuffed inside of other fried things. The best (as in, healthiest) foods are the more expensive foods, it seems, so it is easy to eat poorly (pun intended) if you are making an effort to economically scrape by. Also, it is easy to eat poorly if you are lazy.

I guess that’s me pointing the finger back at myself. Hey, you. Hey, fat, lazy you. Do something!

So, a week ago, I decided to strip my diet of carbs. I have done this on a few occasions before, but once you’ve gone through the process and know of its perils, it’s tough to suffer through it again. It takes the ultimate strength of mind over matter, because, honestly, who wants to knowingly inflict pain upon themselves. But it was time. Aware that I would be entering a three- to four-day marathon of blinding headaches, I dove in, armed with my excess supply of tramadol.

Day One (Friday) was bearable, but I was working the closing shift at work that day, and by early evening, I sensed that I snapped unnecessarily a few times at co-workers.

Day Two (Saturday) was the first of two consecutive days off from work. The headaches dug in from the moment the sun rose. I popped a tramadol with my morning coffee for relief. When the headaches returned around 3:00 PM, I popped a second pill. I was relaxed enough to take a late afternoon nap and slept through until the wee morning hours when I was awakened by a piercing pain in my temples.

Day Three (Sunday). This was a revelatory three-tramadol day. Those damn pills are wonders. They quelch the pain, as they are supposed to do, and make the body blissfully relaxed. Almost – and this is what proved to be the problem – almost euphorically relaxed. When I went horizontal on the bed, ready to sleep, my body was prepared, but the drugs had activated a manic background buzz in my brain that absolutely would not shut down and allow me to fall asleep. Would not shut down, that is, until 2:15 AM on Monday morning. And my alarm was set for 4:00 AM, because Monday I was to be at work early to greet the first day of our annual inventory.


Yes, counting.

Scanning, counting, climbing up ladders, opening boxes, checking other people’s counts, climbing down ladders, writing counts on computer print-outs, erasing the counts, re-writing the correct counts, closing the boxes, turning computer print-outs with scribbled-on counts in, getting new computer print-outs, climbing up ladders, climbing down ladders, trying to find a fan to stand in front of, counting pieces of moulding, recounting pieces of moulding, getting a drink of water, getting another drink of water, sharpening the pencil, looking for that ladder that just disappeared while you were getting a drink of water, cursing the broken pencil lead, double-checking yesterday’s counts, getting locked out of the computer system, resetting your password, recounting other peoples’ counts of moulding, climbing up the ladder, stirring up a dust cloud, sneezing, climbing down the ladder, counting something other than moulding, turning the computer print-outs in again, sitting down, marshaling both mental and physical forces to stand up and go home at the end of the day.

Four days of this. And then we were finished.

CARBS (part two)

In the midst of the counting was Day Four (Monday), during which I attempted to remain on my feet, despite having had less than two hours of sleep the night before. Somehow, I made it through the day, with only the slightest little headache, two aspirin, and no tramadol, and only falling asleep on my feet twice.

Day Five (Tuesday) and beyond revealed a fresh start for this old body: a small bit of toast or fruit in the morning, followed by a very conscientious vegetable-heavy and protein-studded lunch and dinner. So far – on Day Nine – it’s working, and I’m feeling well. Someone even asked me today if I had been losing weight. I think they were just being nice.


We finished inventory on Thursday, and I arrived home mid-afternoon. I went straight to the vegetable garden, pulled back the surrounding netting, and weeded the bed. Imagine my immense surprise to find that there was a cucumber plant growing in the middle of the garden among the marigolds and weeds. It – my surprise – was indeed immense, and this hardy cucumber vine had already made itself comfortable in the garden, twining on the metal cage surrounding one of the poblano pepper plants. Last year’s cucumber crop did poorly and was yellowed to death by constant rains with little sun. I had tilled the refuse into the soil, and some of the seeds apparently survived.

We may have pickles this summer, after all.

Tags: My South: A to Z

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Jun 16, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Had no idea that carb withdrawal can cause headaches. Nice progression here with one topic leading into another, from the abstract, dreamy cloudscape to the concrete topic of carbs, the attempt to eat fewer of them, the wakeful night turning into the day of counting and climbing, and the prize in the garden at the end. Seems suitable that it’s a vegetable and not a carb-heavy treat.

  • 2 Jane // Jun 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    like Chris I love the progression–partly because it is so surprising–and informative!

  • 3 spitballarmy // Jun 19, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    “Seems suitable that it’s a vegetable and not a carb-heavy treat.” I never see these things when I’m writing, and often not even after I’ve put my pen or keyboard down. Thanks, Chris. You’re always thinking.

  • 4 Chris // Jun 19, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Not always thinking, but I’ve been accused of noticing too much. Heh.

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