Bleeding Palms

Fleet Foxes – Heard Them Stirring – Listen to this while you read for an enhanced experience!

It’s been just over two weeks since my last blog post. I’m not really sure why, those of you who know me know I am rarely in wont of something good to say. I guess I had other things to do. Which is true. Partially. Maybe I got lazy. Partially true, again.  But this New Year has presented itself with other things to occupy my mind with. I’ve been reading three books simultaneously – still Dostoevsky, Dawkins and Grayling interchangeably – while listening to Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy (pictured left) on my music player during my more sedate chores. I’m currently on Chapter 18: Knowledge and Perception in Plato which is approximately 1/5th of the way through a 34hour long audiobook. Quite a way to go.

So, as you may have been able to figure out, I’ve been working my ass off recently. Not literally, of course – that would be ridiculous… but it might give me a proper excuse for not sitting down and blogging senselessly. But I’ve been working harder than I have in quite some time and it is quite literally ripping the skin off my precious intellectual’s hands and giving me good reason not to bother with flipping open my laptop and browsing BaceFook all day in the vain hope that someone, anyone will just notice me without provocation. I have instead focused on books, food and socialising in lieu of engaging with this wonderful device of dreams and devilry.

Working out in the hot sun all day and then running down to the waterfall is a beautiful thing – this picture of a sweaty me not flexing is not.

On Physicality

My palms are bleeding. Regularly. My muscles burn. My outer shell is a shirtless, sweaty mess in the hot sun. Dirt clogs my pores. My eyeballs sting from the salty perspiration leaking from my shiny brow.* But my mind is clear. My muscles are getting stronger. My body feels like a powerhouse. I run every morning at an altitude of 3000 ft (~900 mts) on a mostly uphill struggle through the jungle, a golden dog by my side pushing me, competing, driving me forward.  My worksites are up to a kilometre walk from flat refuge, usually with a steep path and a descent/ascent of about 300 ft (~100 mts).

I haven’t been this fit since I stopped playing rugby over two years ago. Unfortunate dosages of lead and mercury put an end to that. In the two years since then, I lost muscle mass, gained an extra layer of fat on my midsection, lost my fitness, agility, dexterity and speed. My eyes have suffered constant purple bags. But now my skin is recovering, the fat is giving way to definition and one can only wish that it leads to a glorious chiselled midsection in the near to immediate future.

This where I go for a run every morning. At the top of the world, the Garden of Sunshine lies below, the Celestial Kingdom frames my slice of Arcadia from above.

Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and running through jungles and following streams up and down the valley. I tore something in my neck about ten days ago and only now has it recovered completely. Shit happens. Speaking of which, I also got a mild stomach upset which put me out of work for a full twenty-four hours. It was strange not having anything to do.

Chocolate!

It’s odd working all the time. Out here, boredom is something I rarely experience. There’s always something to occupy oneself. In the evening, I’ve been experimenting with chocolate production. The method is something like this: fresh cacao beans from the farm are harvested and stored. Then they are placed in the oven until the outer shell is heard to crack. Then, they are peeled so that the nib (the centre of the bean that actually has the cocoa in it) is revealed. This takes a long time and has caused me several blisters from removing so many goddamn shells in one sitting (some three hours of work even when shared).They are then ground up in the Grinder several times so that they are a relatively fine powder. Now, normally this is where one puts it into a hot roller and mixes it all around while adding ingredients. Lacking that, I have to boil a pot of boiling water, place the ground cacao into another pan and put that into the hot water, melting down the cacao until it is a moist paste. Then I add a lot of sugar, milk, condensed milk, honey and some vanilla to the mixture and stir them all around. Then, one should go through a process of “tempering” to get the right texture and create stuff that is solid in one’s palm but melts in the mouth. I skipped this part too. Instead, we’ve been pouring it onto bananas as a desert. Freshly made chocolate and fresh bananas, all grown within peeing distance of the house. Total time involved: about six to eight hours of work. Totally worth it for a dish that is eaten in less than a minute.

On Boredom

Boredom is something I rarely experience out here, as I said above. There’s always something valuable to do. This leads me tenuously towards a tangent, so be warned. I do like to fit in some form of social critique in my daily life and my blog, being a somewhat soft-focussed version of it naturally reflects that.

Apparently, the very word “boredom” didn’t enter the English language until the 19th Bloody Century. Maybe people had a lot to do back then, but it’s rather odd how only 100 years ago did we actually enter a state where we truly thought that there was nothing of value that could be done instead. Too many people’s lives are boring these days. Looking at my previous post reviewing the media and culture I have consumed over the past decade, I realise that have been bored far too often and ended up watching/playing/dicking around to something that has ultimately added very little of value to my life. What you see below is but the cream at the top of a very tall glass that is full of a great variety of ingredients, some of which taste like utter shit.

To form a relative position strong enough to declare certain items superior, it used to be that I must sample a wide enough variety and place things in context. This method is no longer necessary. I always had a strong enough base that I don’t have to watch crap like Everybody Loves Raymond to know how special Arrested Development is, I never needed to watch Twilight as a comparative piece to Thirst to know which is the better movie about vampires. But simply with research and investigation, I think I now have a strong enough system to help me decide what media or music to enjoy. Thus, the culture I consume in the future will hopefully only be that of a superior quality because if one is occupied, engaged and content, one really shouldn’t settle for anything less than the very best there is to offer in their spare time.

Eventually, I aim to conquer boredom except where completely unavoidable. This is my New Year’s Resolution.

So I say to you now: stop reading this blog, stop refreshing Facebook, stop dicking around and go do something useful!

Actually, scratch that last paragraph… have some pictures of me with some cute animals instead.

Osito, the Golden Protector under my arm. If someone walks away from the farm, there’s a good chance he’ll just continue to sleep. If one runs away, however, he’ll give chase and most likely stick with you all day. Together, we go jogging every morning and regularly go exploring the mountains nearby in the cooler afternoon. He’s a rather wonderful and lovely companion.
There are two kittens on the farm, both of which share more than a passing resemblance to my own ginger cat Spice back home. On the left is Paluche (Eng: Stuffed Animal) with Pecho Blanco (Eng: White Chest) on the right. Clear personality differences mark both of them. Pecho is more affectionate, Paluche more of an independent samurai hunter. Both are capable of sticking their wet noses in my nostrils without warning when they’re sitting on my lap. I do not know why.

* Thankfully, I did get a new green bandana which looks rather spiffy if I may say so myself, negating that part about the sweat burning my eyeballs. It also makes one appear at least mildly legitimate when stretching one’s groin in the evening after dinner by giving the impression that I am always in the mood for physical exercise (which I pretty much am).


Ps: Two shirtless pictures in one blog post?!? New record!

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1 Comment

Filed under Dearest Diary of Mine, Humour Snack

One response to “Bleeding Palms

  1. Mum

    Jamie, such a great blog entry. Just so happy to see you looking and sounding so WELL, and so engaged with the place too – and discovering the joys of working the land! Lotsa love, Mum x

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