Monday, November 30, 2009

Harness the Team

Tuning in. Static. Static. Faint voices. And here we are again. I am trying to decide where I’m at so maybe posting in the ether will help to orient me. I miss everyone but not in a bad way, just in a few days away way. Here I am!

First the pitiful part including ooky details of my viral woes. Not one but two antibiotics are coursing through my system and trying to eradicate the arginfargin sinus/ear infection that I finally developed last week. I can’t hear anything at all through my right ear. Which is an improvement from when it was very swollen and I spent most of the night listening to my pulse. The next day the eardrum ruptured which is not as drastic as it sounds (I hope) and I heard random squeaks and bubbles as the pressure equalized. I believe that my eardrum is healing and that I will be able to hear through it again. Still waiting though. I have enough energy to go to work and be productive despite my doubts on Saturday. Come on Zithromax and Levaquin! I imagine them as draft horses yoked together, pulling my wagon out of a sticky viral swamp. Heeyup! Let’s go!

And that made me look up horse drawn things. The annual horse drawn wagon parade is this Saturday in town. But if you find yourself in Anchorage I think you should see if you can arrange for a sleigh ride with this outfit

Having only one good ear is different. I am learning to point my left ear at whatever I need to hear. The children aren’t tired of repeating themselves yet. (After all they’re very good at that.) Hoping for more hearing in a couple of weeks.

Since I was dizzy and puny on Thursday Nod made the executive decision that we wouldn’t try to make our feast that day. I was proud that I finished the cranberries and the pie but it was true that I didn’t really look forward to wrassling the bird. We went out for Mongolian barbecue instead which seemed pleasingly unpredictable. The food was delish and we were by no means the only patrons. As I looked at the other folks I wished I had a clipboard and could go around to each table and ask, “So what brought you here on Thanksgiving?”

Actually cooking everything the next day was not much fun. I was dizzy and tired again by the time I got to the finish line. But it was delicious. In fact I am coveting my turkey leftovers right now.  Many thanks to Bee for sharing Nigella Lawson’s pie crust recipe. After resisting Bee’s superior baking experience for far too long, this recipe has finally convinced me that half butter, half Crisco is a good thing. Nigella adds the juice of one orange which struck me as quite a variable amount depending on your orange's size and juiciness. (I was happy to be confirmed right as I needed to add some ice water as well to get my dough wet enough) When I tasted the dough I thought it needed more salt. But the finished product was perfect. My advice is to put your Crisco in the freezer in the morning. It never gets all the way hard like butter so you can still cut it into chunks. I have one more crust that I’ll use to make some apple pie one of these days. Which reminds me: I once had an idyllic apple orchard experience picking Rome apples in northern New Mexico. They were perfect, crisp and fragrant. But grocery store Rome apples tend toward the mealy. So I will remember from now on: don’t buy Rome apples except pick-your-own.

The children did pretty well with five or six (Lexi was home sick Tues.) unstructured days and a very puny mother. There was lots of drawing and cutting out. Yesterday Lexi created a cutout castle with herself as princess, a royal cat and three servants with fans. There was a certain amount of poking at each other and screeching but not much. Nod took both girls out to sell girl scout cookies on the last warm day. Orders are due tomorrow and I never was well enough to walk around with them. I should have remembered that Nod with all his sales knowledge would be excited to help. Lexi went around one block and then she was done, but Katy and her dad stayed out for two hours. He was exhausted at that point. K was hungry but insisted that she could sell some more. We admired her youthful ambition.

And that’s enough to start. Glad to be back. Hope to feel more completely here as time goes on.

Wait! One more link:  artist Peter Funch's simultaneous photos. I saw some of these a while back but didn't really get it. He took lots of photos of the same pedestrian intersection and then edited them together. Scroll through to see the themes in each photo. Everyone is wearing white or has a yellow envelope or is in midair or is a child. The shifty eyed one is a hoot. What good art.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reclining for Good or Ill

Update:  Lexi's breathing sounded much better Wednesday evening. So I didn't add any extra meds. But boy I'm gonna if I hear any of that crackling again! (Since empty threats apparently work.)
My cold may have retreated a bit. Not feeling quite so put upon by every single thing that needs to be done. But I'm still indulging in invalid fantasies. Soothing views out windows that are opened twice a day for some bracing fresh air. A weekly visit with an approving director who tells me I'm making excellent progress but not to push myself. Reclining on the terrace, taking the sun but well wrapped in case of a chill breeze...

So those breast cancer screening recommendations certainly are grist for all our mills. Here is a good enunciation of the merits of the recommendation. Then a follow up by the same writer covering the more cartoony reactions in the blogosphere. I like that Respectful Insolence, I'll be checking in with them regularly. As to how this pertains to my own personal chest luggage, I think I'll do that thing they always tell you to do, 'talk with your doctor'. Just finished with this year's squeezin so when I get the letter next fall telling me to make an appointment I'll give my doc a call. I don't think I want to wait until I'm 50 for my next one, but maybe halfway there.

Recommending not teaching breast self exam seems perverse, no? But at the same time let's be open to research results. It may let me off the hook for feeling (ha) that breast self examination doesn't make much sense for me personally. As I fall on the lumpy end of the spectrum, it's never made me feel very secure. Lumps? yup there are lumps. I know the idea is to get a feel for the regular lumpy landscape in hopes that an irregularity will be noticed. But it's always seemed like a morbid waste of time. I do hope that I'm tuned in enough to notice if something's wrong.
Here's a new word that I don't know if I'll retain: hecatomb (pronounced heckatoom). OED tells us it's originally Greek for 100 oxen set aside for sacrifice, now meaning a great public sacrifice, implies a heap. See that last example quotation, "What altars hecatomb'd with Christian gore!" J. Barlow. Shudder. Wonder what he was getting at.
And here's your haw for the day, CATS FOR GOLD via John Scalzi who is giving good rant today too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Stream of Something

Things to know about coffee. I didn't know about the neuro chemical function of caffeine. Cool beans man. I donated a dollar after enjoying this web comic. Surely in the future this sort of off-the-cuff cyber paying will be easier to do. It's pretty clunky right now.
Katy has invented her own abbreviation origin story and tells me that pajamas are to be referred to now as Potato Jaguars. I don't get it -- but I like it.
I can hear crackles when Lexi breathes. I'm going to go give her a dose of albuterol this afternoon. And maybe up her other maintenance med as well. I am steering in the dark here but I want her to breathe easier. Her follow up appt with the asthma doc is Dec. 1. I am hoping she'll pull out of this cold/asthma flare up and not need to be seen before then.
I am also working on my own chest cold and deeply resent having to interact with other humans while I've got it. I was planning to feel better after having a puny weekend. But the virus has its own plans. I am coughing and phlegmy and things are out of balance. I want a week at a sanitarium, slurping chicken broth and laying by a sunny window to get my strength back. I would promise to come back as soon as I was bored.

The trouble is that I'm not *that* sick so I try to do everything that normally needs to be done. And then feel martyred. When I remember to have the slightest bit of perspective, I do feel grateful that I am not terribly sick. And yet the daily do be grinding.
Finished the police procedural novel Bangkok 8 by Burdett and it was so good. Page turning and enticing. The plot and crime details are a little wonky but the setting and characters, especially the narrator Sonchai Jitpleecheep are wonderful. The book even made me want to go to Bangkok... for a little while. But that passed and now I'm happy perusing blogs about Thailand and reading about the travels of others instead. Here's one with lots of good writing by western visitors to the country. And here's a description of Thai soap operas which sound pretty much like telenovelas but with most of the sex removed and the presence of ghosts added. Oh and I find that there are at least two other novels in Burdett's Bangkok series. I have the warm feeling of novels waiting for me.

I have Wodehouse on the bedside table because it almost seems as healing as chicken broth. And I want to try all the home remedies. Maybe I'll put Vick's on my chest tonight. I thought about making garlic soup but it just made my stomach twist to contemplate. So I'll have to go with lower doses of the stinking rose.
Oh my Lord -- I have got to start jumping up and down according to this NYT article. I think they are hilariously trying to generalize human exercise tips from a mouse study. And I think that mice have significantly different body mechanics. But still. I like the idea of jumping up and down 40 times a week. That is an exercise routine that I can squeeze in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assorted nuts

I'm happy that it's assorted nut season and we have our nutcracker and picks out.(What?)

Things that are working. My husband fixed the dripping kitchen faucet this weekend. And he figured out how to make the DVD/VCR work. We’d been reduced to just a DVD player after our DVD/VCR fell off the top of the TV and landed on the VCR side a few months ago. The VCR hasn’t worked since. Our tape of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the old Gene Wilder one) is still in there, trapped. Now we can pry it out at our leisure as we are using the new device for entertainment. That is, the new region free DVD/VCR player. My Stephen Fry America DVDs await me!

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett is a wonderful book. Police procedural with lots of Thai Buddhism.

Misery of the moment. Our upstairs bathroom needs new everything, no exaggeration. The old tub is nice and long and the plumbing works okay. But between window, floor, ceiling, tiled wall and fixtures -- it’s a tear down. We got a proper estimate for renovation two years ago. But it was clear that we had no way to act on the $16K estimate we received. So I caulked and prayed. And it held. Until now. Last Saturday my daughter and I noticed a thin stream of water coming down the wall below the bathroom, while my husband took a shower. After looking at the spot where the caulk and the grout are giving way I don't think that caulk will be enough to stop the water. Yesterday I duct taped a piece of shower curtain over the leaky area. It is working. This is sad.

The snow came down in a hurry this noon. We're supposed to get more tonight but the temps should stay above freezing and keep the roads okay.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep out!

This is the full report on my first girl scouts campout. Although the forecast was for a low of 36 and overcast we had about fifteen kids or more for the weenie roast portion of the evening. I was a bit floored by the turnout. It was cold but not terrible and I thought it was a unique way to spend the night before Halloween.

After eating the girls ran around in the dark playing flashlight tag. Approximately every two minutes one would stagger back to the adults complaining of a bump or scrape. Running full tilt into your friends in the dark hurts. They were also at the stirred up and tired stage by this time.

I went out in the dark and made a circuit looking for trash while girls staked out their sleeping bag spots.  I was lucky enough to see the clouds being blown away. The glowing edge of cloud cover was pulling back off to the northwest. It was moving fast like a banner rolled up by the off-stage techies. The nearly full moon shone and it was a very beautiful open sky after the low grey we had had. I called everyone to come see the stars. The thirteen year old leader-in-training immediately organized a moonlight hike, most of the girls were excited to go.There was one girl who went to sleep at about this time (9:30p?) and was the last to wake up. Champion sleeper.

The other adults were busy blowing up air mattresses. (Why? An 8 year old can sleep on a hard floor in a sleeping bag in my opinion). We slept in a big cabin that had propane heat and solar lights – not nearly the cold yurt I had expected. So I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the co-leader who got a headache from the propane smell (granted it was stinky) and then was cold and wanted the heaters back on and couldn’t sleep. She said she had hippie parents and did enough camping for one lifetime in her childhood.

We had four kids who didn’t want to sleep over. Three were picked up by parents and the fourth’s mom said nope so she had to be cajoled into staying. I’m glad that wasn’t my job. At any rate she did fine and went to sleep without much bleating. I was surprised at how many kids got homesick. I wondered whether Katy would feel like that if I wasn’t there. But she didn’t cling at all or hardly interact with me except to ask for the flashlight thirty times.

They all slept better than I expected. I was awake for a bit trying to locate a whimpering kid. Finally realized it was the leader’s kid and she was shushing her. Katy reported later that I snored, I wonder if the other adults were cursing me under their breath. I come from two fine resonant snorers and am certain that my destiny is to become louder and louder.

To one mom I confessed to a girl scout cookie anxiety dream and also said that it bugs me to watch girls do chores – that I just want to do it for them. In retrospect I think I came off as control freaky. This goes right against my own impression of myself. But maybe my need for control is growing. Mwahahahaha! Watch out.

Packing up and cleaning up the next morning took an age. I finally asked whether the leader needed me to stay for another thirty minutes and she understood that this was my request to go away and released me. It was an awful lot of work for one overnight.  The leader, bless her, talked about wanting to do more camping with the girls. She does think it would be good to try for two nights out to improve the fun vs. work ratio. I am glad to have experienced this. But I might go ahead skip the next one. I don’t think Katy would miss me much. She had a great time. She ran around with various friends, loved being outside and out in the dark, never got homesick or worried about anything and slept like a rock. Yay.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hot Cha

I have been trying to get my girl scout camping reflections in order. I'll post that next week even though good behavior reigned and no one was frightened by a bear.

Today took the cat and her goopy ear to the vet. Glad to get her seen and treated. Sorry to get the bill. Feeling small and in the red today. Zing is exhausted and quite a limp little nine pound bundle. She's gained two pounds since August. I limit her food and I don't think she's too fat right now.

After Nod was done with work we went for a walk up the river on a trail I hadn't seen before. We all had a good time on the winding path. Lexi liked running up and down the small rises while flapping her arms. Saw the river, trees, birds and plenty of other walkers and bikers. Also a fine assortment of dead animals. Not sure what kind of karma that was but we were interested to see the carcasses of a mole, oppossum and snake. Also Nod and Katy pointed out the remains of a wagon wheel partially visible on the side of the riverbank. And then we saw a second one further on. I wished I had a pioneer/wagon wheel specialist in my pocket to tell us about them.

Katy's been listening to my TMBG Flood CD. I've had to limit her playing it already because tho I love it there's only so many times I can listen to "Whistling in the Dark" in a row. But I'm glad she likes it. Tonight she told me she liked the "Hot Cha" lyric about him leaving while the bathtub overflowed, "stereo on and cooking bacon". That one tickles my brain that too.