Ben Crowder


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This one requires a bit of an explanation. The three panels represent, respectively:

  1. Christ’s birth
  2. His ascension
  3. His future return, clad in red robes; also represents the marks in his hands and feet


Painted in Photoshop.

More spondylolisthesis

Concerning my spondylolisthesis, it appears I spoke a little too soon. (Also, disclaimer: I’m writing this only to document what’s going on, not to try to coax pity out of y’all. There are many people who go through much worse than this. I hope this post doesn’t come across as complaining, because really, my back issues are lightweight compared to other issues, medical or otherwise.)

Two weeks after my last post, my lower back got worse, and in spite of doing some more physical therapy and a heavier load of exercises, it doesn’t seem to be getting better.

I now spend a fair amount of time on the floor throughout the day doing back exercises, because if I don’t, then it really hurts and I can barely walk. As it is, if I’m diligent with the exercises then I can usually walk somewhat okay, albeit with a slightly odd gait, and after about four minutes of walking it starts to hurt more. I also often get twinges in my right leg while walking. Stairs make my back hurt, and standing still for more than a few minutes also hurts. Lying on my back generally hurts the least, and sitting isn’t so bad most of the time either.

It’s been interesting going from a relatively pain-free life to one where pain is my companion most of the time. The first few days I was a bag of tears and shattered dreams, but then hope found me again (thanks to God answering some earnest prayers), and in the weeks since then it has felt doable. Sure, there’s a list of things I will probably never be able to do again (hiking, skiing, most sports, possibly running, etc.), but I never really cared for skiing or sports anyway.

Long-term, the game is still to see how long I can go before needing surgery. Hopefully still on the order of decades and not months or years.

Anyway, I’m okay. It’s manageable. Back to more interesting topics.

Occupations in 1292 Paris

I just finished reading Life in a Medieval City, by Joseph and Frances Gies, and in the notes on page 236 I found this interesting list of occupations taken from the Paris tax list of 1292:

  • 366 shoemakers
  • 214 furriers
  • 199 maidservants
  • 197 tailors
  • 151 barbers
  • 131 jewelers
  • 130 restaurateurs
  • 121 old-clothes dealers
  • 106 pastrycooks
  • 104 masons
  • 95 carpenters
  • 86 weavers
  • 71 chandlers
  • 70 mercers
  • 70 coopers
  • 62 bakers
  • 58 water carriers
  • 58 scabbard makers
  • 56 wine sellers
  • 54 hatmakers
  • 51 saddlers
  • 51 chicken butchers
  • 45 purse makers
  • 43 laundresses
  • 43 oil merchants
  • 42 porters
  • 42 meat butchers
  • 41 fish merchants
  • 37 beer sellers
  • 36 buckle makers
  • 36 plasterers
  • 35 spice merchants
  • 34 blacksmiths
  • 33 painters
  • 29 doctors
  • 28 roofers
  • 27 locksmiths
  • 26 bathers
  • 26 ropemakers
  • 24 innkeepers
  • 24 tanners
  • 24 copyists
  • 24 sculptors
  • 24 rugmakers
  • 24 harness makers
  • 23 bleachers
  • 22 hay merchants
  • 22 cutlers
  • 21 glovemakers
  • 21 wood sellers
  • 21 woodcarvers

The Society of Creative Anachronism has a more detailed page listing the French occupation names and a breakdown by gender. For example, there was one male hangman (bourriau), one female mole trapper (taupiere), four male pike-makers (piqueeur), one female tart seller (tartriere), one male log floater (atireeur de busche), etc. Fascinating stuff.

The tax list was published by Hercule GĂ©raud in 1837 in Paris sous Philippe-le-Bel, which is conveniently on Google Books (the list itself, “Le livre de la taille de Paris pour l’an 1292,” is a bit later in the book).


I don’t think I’ve talked about my spondylolisthesis yet on here, so prepare for some not-very-gory medical stuff.

For the past year and a half, if I stayed in bed longer than a few minutes after I woke up, my lower back would hurt and the top part of my body would be shifted to the left. After an hour or so, things would go back to normal. I thought it was a little weird but figured as long as I got out of bed immediately each day, I’d be fine.

In December, however, it got worse. The lateral left shift went full Pisa on me (my shoulders were three inches to the left of where they should have been, which is, you know, a problem), and then one day I could barely walk, hobbling along at a slow, painful gait I didn’t expect to see for fifty more years.

An X-ray revealed that I have grade II spondylolisthesis — the L5-S1 vertebra in my spine has slipped forward a bit, basically. I don’t remember any trauma that could have caused it, so it’s looking like I was born with it. Either way, it’s here to stay for the rest of my life.

At the moment, I do stretches and exercises morning and night to keep the pain at bay (mostly), and I can walk normally, a thing I had taken for granted. I have to avoid heavy lifting and repetitive bending (if I don’t, believe me, I feel it), but other than that it’s life as normal.

Someday, however, the exercises won’t be able to keep the pain away, and at that point I’ll probably need surgery, where they weld my spine to a brace. But hopefully that’s not until I’m old and decrepit.