Under Pressure

Monday morning was a drizzly sort of thing, with some intermittent patches of slushy snow falling. Thirty-two degrees of half-way-welcome damp. Early in the afternoon Robin and I went out for a walk and just when we were far enough from home to ensure that we would be good and wet, we found ourselves in a thunderstorm.

On Sunday I had assembled one of those small Rubbermaid storage sheds as the final piece in our “Let’s see if we need that big rental shed after all” project. The winning strategy involved ridding ourselves of yet another pile of truck. We’re not quite down to the place that daughter Maja is in, one where all she owns is a suitcase-ful of clothes, a pair of Birkenstocks, and a parasol, but we finally appreciate the utility of that way of living.

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A few months ago, on a routine office visit, my personal physician, Dr. Geronimo Malfeasance, found my blood pressure to be elevated. Rechecks x 4 were okay, so he let it pass as due to my being a nervous sort of person (I denied it) and that was that.

But because the alarm had been raised, I had purchased an inexpensive BP cuff to take my pressure readings at home, which proved so frustrating to use that I stopped doing them very early on. As far as I could determine, any chance of getting an accurate reading required that you have three arms and the manual dexterity of a sword juggler.

But recently it started to bug me that I hadn’t been a better patient, so I dug out that POS cuff and found a reading that was so high it belonged on a Stanley Steamer pressure gauge rather than any device used by human beings.

So I threw out that poor excuse for a blood pressure cuff and did some quick research. I am now the proud owner of an Omron upper arm BP measurement tool. It’s a beaut. Put it on your arm and press a button – that’s all. It blows itself up and lets itself down. No cords, no tubes, and the readings are beamed via Bluetooth to my phone into an app from Omron, where they are recorded and averaged.

I’ve taken a good two dozen readings and while most of them are mildly elevated, there is no serious cause for alarm. Some weight loss, taking the salt shaker off of the table, you know the drill. With any luck my numbers should come down delightfully. But Omron will tell me if they don’t.

Life is good.

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Referencing the cartoon above, some of you may not have encountered smelt or the people that fish for them, and I offer this information.

Smelt are a small silvery fish, a little over six inches long, that inhabit large bodies of water during most of the year, but in spring migrate up streams to spawn. As they do, they are set upon by humans dressed in all the warm clothing they own and wearing high rubber boots.

These men and women, who are vehemently opposed to fish having sex in the open where children might come upon them, wade into the cold water with long-handled nets and scoop the fish into buckets. There is no angling, no hook and line, and no finesse required, but only the shoveling skills of someone cleaning out a barn.

You then take the bucketsful home and fry up the fish, usually whole (no scaling or cleaning) with a little breading. At this point everyone sits up to the table and congratulates the fisherman on all his hard work. The fisherman is often not present to hear this praise, being indisposed as a result of the hypothermia acquired doing all that scooping the day before, and the pneumonia that it became later on.

Just in case the prospect of wading in freezing water to scoop up little fish doesn’t meet your criteria for entertainment, in those parts of the country where smelt can be found, churches and social groups will put on what are cleverly called smelt feeds. You need only show up with enough money for the ticket and you can eat all you want.

They are actually quite delicious. And the children are protected.

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