Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sleepless in Lincoln

I feel like Holly Hunter in the movie, Home for the Holidays.

It started with spaghetti sauce. All our lives, our mother has made this wonderful spaghetti and meatballs. She gave me the recipe and I started making it myself when I first got married, the first time, back in 1975. It's delicious.

Mom is 82 and I don't know if her cooking was really good when we were growing up or if we just thought so because we didn't know the difference. But she's gotten, well, as older people do she's gotten lax, I guess you'd say. She cuts corners. Consequently, there aren't a lot of things she cooks the way she used to and we generally prefer eating out when we come up here to visit. But she asked me last weekend if I wanted anything special to eat while we were here, aside from the huge Thanksgiving meal we're cooking. I did still love her spaghetti sauce the last time I had it so I requested that, knowing it would make her feel good to treat us to something tasty and it not being especially difficult to prepare and we might save ourselves from at least one lecture on wasting money on fast food. It hasn't been spaghetti and meatballs for some years because, she says, the meatballs always break all up, anyway, so now she just uses hamburger in the sauce which didn't appear to make a big difference. Still, I wondered how the meatballs managed to stay together for 40 years, for the most part. But, as I said, last time it was okay so I figured it would be safe. I'm sad to report the spaghetti sauce has gone the way of all the other things she used to cook that were so good and that we looked so forward to.

She is, now, not only skimpy with her own cooking but while I read aloud a recipe I found on the internet today, having no intention of actually making it only delighting in reading about it, she interrupted with a dissertation on, "Why would you want something else to eat when we already have all this food?"etc. That's the whole point of going home. And the longer I'm here, the more I need to eat in order to tolerate the dysfunction. My mother is dwindling away, disintegrating into her sauce like her meatballs as we watch, helplessly.

There's that. And then there's my brother. And my daughter. And the cold. And the darkness. And now I can't sleep. We went to see Twilight tonight and I drank a huge Diet Pepsi which I almost never do since my banding. It was enough caffeine to keep me awake until, so far, 3:34am. And I seem to be having an exacerbation of the hot flashes that were subsiding since I started my Estridiol. If I were home I'd get in the tub and soak and watch an old movie on Turner Classic Movies (yes, there is a tv in the bathroom) but here, not only is there no tv in the bathroom but no bathtub. Only a shower, not that I'd actually get in a tub here. Not the cleanest environment, anymore. I'm pretty much miserable and I know that the grandsons will be trotting in here around 9 to wake me up. And by the time I wake their mother up I'll be wide awake, albeit tired and surly and then I have to bake pies and put together casseroles and do dishes and instruct the other members of the family on how to manage their lives. It's all quite exhausting. I can't wait to go home.

Isn't it strange how we all get in our own little worlds apart from our families? The older we get, the deeper into our own worlds we get. More comfortable and less tolerant of discomfort. Less anxious to subject ourselves to the insanity that is our family. God knows I have a good family. One of the best I know. But it's so damn noisy here and so many people and I've eaten all this sugar. I need medication this week, I really do. This would be a good time to start abusing Xanax.

I'll be glad to get home to my little self-absorbed life on Saturday and I probably won't be back for another holiday anytime soon. I'll have to forget some of this, first.

Oh, Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Of Fires, Hot Flashes & Bear Dookie

I woke up today feeling really good. No obligations, which is all I've ever asked from life, by the way, but it rarely works out. I called Freddy to have him pick up some Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane tea on his way home and then I sat up in bed and wrote in my journal. I planned to go out in the barn and built the first fire in that woodstove and build a soap mold today. It was cold and I've been day dreaming about that for some time. But Freddy showed up before he went shopping and I decided to go with him, needing to pick up my hormones and thinking I needed to give them my new insurance information. Wrong. Insurance doesn't cover compounded medications and I'm beginning to think I may know why. I go between freezing and sweating about 115 times in a 24 hour period since I started my new, compounded, bioidentical hormones for which I held such high hope. .

So we went shopping and I got the idea, as we were pushing the shopping cart to the truck, that a big bowl of tortilla soup would be nice. So we went to the Mexican restaurant and ate, me bitching the whole time about ignorant hillbillies and nonprofessional behavior (more hormone-related thought processes).

And here it comes again. A wave of heat traveling instantly from my knees to the top of my head in a mighty whoosh culminating with me feeling as though I could breath fire if I exhaled with my mouth open. Note to self: buy some dong quai and black cohash tomorrow after work.

After we ate, we decided to go out to our cabin, for the first time in a couple of months, just to make sure everything was okay. As soon as we got out there I had to start a fire in the pot belly stove. It was freezing and the wind was blowing and I couldn't resist. The cabin is strawbale construction, like our barn, and it heats up nicely and stays that way for a while without much of a fire. And that potbelly stove is a dandy. I keep a small basket full of try kindling, just leaves and handfuls of sticks, in there at all times. That way, even if it's raining or there's a foot of snow on the ground, I can still start a fire at the spur of the moment. And I always go gather up more before I leave, even if it's, as I said, wet or whatever because it'll dry long before I get back out there and need it, again. Freddy made a pot of decaf while I hauled 3 or 4 armloads of wood from the wood pile to the livingroom. We had it toasty warm in minutes and spent the next hour, or so, doing what we always do out there. Nothing. Sitting holding our mugs of coffee, staring at nothing like dope fiends in an opium den. About every 3 minutes, Freddy says, "God, I love this place," then falls silent again for a little while.

About the time we were thinking about leaving, I went up in the loft to see how warm it was up there and pretty soon had dug an old quilt out of the plastic bin we keep linens in up there to keep them safe from the mice, and spread it out on the bed and decided to take a nap. Freddy joined me and we dozed for a while. I got up toward the end and grabbed the old, afghan (my friend Carol's mom calls them, "Africans" as in "No wonder you're not cold, lying on the couch wrapped up in two Africans") off the railing and covered up as the fire was beginning to die down.

When we left for home, we saw a big pile of bear scat just down from the cabin in front of the pump house. It would've made a great picture, full of persimmon seeds but I was ill-prepared and didn't have my camera. I thought, after all, that we were only going to Walmart when I left home this morning.

I made 4 dozen, or so, peanut butter cookies when we got home and froze most of them for our Christmas party a month away. It's suppose to get down to 20-something tonight so I covered my lettuce with an old, blue tarp and then shut the flaps on the chicken house windows and rigged up a light in there to help keep the chickens (and doves and turkey) warm and encourage them to start laying, again. It's been a good day. We don't spend enough of them together. And tomorrow's ICU for 12 hours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On My Way Back

I've been doing pretty well with the time change and subsequent impending exacerbation of SAD that I get every year until yesterday. And that's how it happens. I'm going along without any problem and BOOM! I get an unnerving sort of coldness in my stomach and I know it's time for my full spectrum light. I use it when I first start feeling the coldness. Once I start, I try to use it every day. If I go out of town, I bring the light. It's not negotiable. It makes a tremendous difference.

And in the meantime, I cook. Oh, and eat. Monday I did one massage and was home by 2. I cooked until 10pm. It was wonderful. I've been busy or out of town or working for several weeks, now. I'd gotten used to being home and was settling into this delicious slower pace before we went away for a week. When we got home there were three weeks of working basically a full-time schedule in ER. And then a lot of massages to do in the meantime. All that to say that I didn't have time to cook and I hated it, having had a really good taste of what it's like to be a real person who cooks in her own kitchen and does her own laundry and vacuums. So I made up for it yesterday.

I cooked stuffed grape leaves, homemade pita bread, hummus, kale with sausage and potatoes, bread pudding with lemon sauce and jalepeno jelly. Then last night I made miso soup. Oh God. Is that good. I never made/ate it before. And so easy. I got the miso this weekend when I was out of town.

This weekend was nice. I had no massages scheduled Friday so about 11:30 while talking on the phone to my friend, Bobbi, we decided it might be nice to drive up to Winslow, Arkansas on old Highway 71 and go to the Ozark Folkways. We packed an overnight bag in case we decided to stay at my daughter's in Springdale. I toasted homemade bread and scrambled eggs with Pecorino Romano cheese for our breakfast sandwiches and wrapped them in wax paper and we headed out. It was a beautiful day. We stopped to take pictures and gather leaves and pods for Bobbi to use in her artwork. The trees were magical. Brilliant. The sky, that deep blue you only see in Autumn. Breathtaking.

We spent about an hour at Ozark Folkways, before they closed, looking at art, Bobbi explaining how each thing was made and how we can do the same thing. She's such a delightful friend. So fun to spend time with.

We bought some stuff. Me, a couple of hand made pottery bowls and a bar of lye soap and she, a hand painted, lidded porcelain dish for my Christmas gift. So I came out like a bandit.

We went on to Springdale and spent the night with Amanda and family. Aidan graciously lent us his bed. I couldn't get over the feeling that I'd come to visit my daughter with my lesbian lover. Even better is the fact that the kids had little sores on their mouths and we were both kissing them. I told her we'd probably both come home with sores on our mouths after spending a weekend away together and everybody will think we caught them from each other. So far, so good, though.

We had a great visit with the kids. Matt made loaded baked potato pizza for supper. And appetizers while we waited: shrimp and cocktail sauce and 3 cheese garlic bread with marinara sauce. Man, was that good! Good food. Good company. Next morning Sis made apple cinnamon pancakes. Wow! Did we ever pick the right place to crash.

First stop Saturday morning was Hobby Lobby. Stayed there a long time. Then on to Ozark Natural Foods. We spent hours there poring through the bulk herbs and spice. It was a heavenly olfactory orgy. We bought lemongrass, dried elderberries, cumin, turmeric, curry, whole nutmeg, some other kind of orange Indian spice that I can't remember the name of. I bought miso and tahini and organic peanut butter and grape leaves and Sumatra coffee beans and I can't remember what all. Freddy's truck smelled like New Delhi on the way home. Sunday when I worked in ICU I brought along a newspaper I'd gotten on the trip and it smelled like spices. Yum!

We ate lunch at La Huerto on College. I had cheese enchiladas. After that we stopped at an intriguing line of shops on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. New Treasures where we bought bumper stickers that said things like, "Treehugger" and "Jesus was a Liberal". I bought some very ethnic-looking clothing and a long, tie-dyed jersey jumper. Next door was a bakery with chalk board menus and 24 inch breadsticks and huge slices of chocolate raspberry cake with 3/4 inch frosting. We had coffee and...well...chocolate cake.

Then the bead store. It made me want to learn to make jewelry. I bought two little silver hands with swirls in the palms and earring hooks to put them on. After that, on to the second hand retro clothing and costume shop where we bought nothing but a lady came up to Bobbi and complemented her on her lovely cheekbones.

On the way out of Fayetteville, we stopped at a purple building that looked like a castle where they do tattoos and piercings to ask about piercing my nose. I sort of chickened out but used the price for an excuse. I really should have done it, though. It woulda been great to cook using all those Indian spices with an earring in my nose and wearing my ethnic clothing. I'll have to make that a thing to do.

We stopped at Micheal's on Rogers on the way through Fort Smith and shopped for art supplies, some more. Nice stuff in there, though the lighting sucks. Bought a Fillet O' Fish sandwich that I ate on the way out of Fort Smith, sans the top of the bun.

So that's it, then. Wonderful 2 days. Made me want to live in Northwest Arkansas all over again having just gotten over that from our last trip to Eureka Springs. But I live here, I suppose, and I'll make the best of it. Not a bad thing, living here. Just not much here for open minds, I'm afraid.
Tonight I picked salad greens from the Mesclin Mix I
planted in October, though, and made this, which I ate for supper with some leftover grape leaves.

Before that, I walked around the pasture, twice, with Maggi. Then we fed the fish and sat at the end of the dock and thought, both of us, about how nice it's going to be with grandsons visiting, again. When the babies are here, I'm totally present in the moment. Completely at peace, albeit chaotic peace, but you know what I mean. The sun was setting and just lit up the tops of a tree near the neighbor's property line. It reminded me of a dream I had ten years ago about a lilac bush. It was comforting. I can feel myself slowing down, again. It feels good to be cooking.