Sunday, January 31, 2021

World Serves It's Own Needs, Listen to Your Heart Bleed

Some of yesterday's baked burgers were chopped up and used for my Stuffed Green Peppers, along with fresh tomatoes, Monterey Jack, Cheddar Cheese, and bread crumbs, baked and served over a bed of rice. 
In a stir fry or most other dishes, I love my green peppers crisp and vibrant, but for baked stuffed peppers I love the roasted flavor and softer texture.  So I salt, pepper and olive oiled the halves and par-baked them for a few minutes before putting in the filling.  
If I've learned anything in the Pandemic, it's that the best thing you can do right now as a cook is use all of your leftovers and never waste good food if you can help it.  And you can usually help it, it just takes effort. The challenge is to do it in the most creative ways.  And the bigger challenge is to care about making dinner when it feels like the world is ending.  


Saturday, January 30, 2021

It's Yesterday Once More

I optimized a pound of beef by making a sheet pan of small baked burgers mixed with black beans, carrots, celery, peppers and onions for lettuce wraps.  The side dish was the leftover chickpeas and spinach from yesterday's sheet pan dinner.

Friday, January 29, 2021

I Struggle Each Night to Find a New Way

Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken

Til the day I leave this earth I will tout the brilliance of sheet pan dinners, especially during the Pandemic.  It's one of the easiest ways to eat lots of vegetables, not make a huge mess, cook everything at once and the variety is endless.  This time I added spinach, chickpeas, onions, lemon and artichoke hearts to curry-seasoned boneless chicken thighs.  Potatoes could replace the chicken to go meatless.  

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room

One interesting thing about being diagnosed with COVID, seeing as how big it is and how many people are affected, you're given very little information or instruction.  Nothing more than go to the hospital if you're fever rises above this number or if you have trouble breathing.  Officially, maybe that's all they can say as there is not a cure but surely, there must be more.  You're on your own with this one, in more ways than one.  If you do have to take that hospital trip, you won't be joined by your loved ones.  In many way it's frightening so I approach it like I would a bear in the woods.  I'm not running, just slowly backing away and praying it doesn't stand on it's hind legs or charge me.

I'm almost two weeks following the diagnoses but unlike some folks, the virus hasn't left.  It wanders around my camp, breaking branches, making me aware of its presence.  I'm feeling better each day, but it lingers and tries new ways to attack. It came back with new strength after a short phone call just 3 days ago.  Sweats and fatigue had followed any sort of exercise, like getting out of bed and walking to the window.  Now that's been replaced with needle-like chest pains and sudden nausea, losing feelings in my hands.  Weird stuff.  It's not so bad that I need to do anything but go back and lay down but after 14 days, I will admit, it scares me.  An internist told me some folks just have a much longer recovery which was encouraging because time is what I have to give.  So I'll keep a good thought.

Cobb Salad 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

You're Messin' Up My Mind and Fillin' Up My Senses

As I'm coming out the ass end of this pinche pendejo COVID virus for the 2nd time (!!), I want to learn to speak Spanish just so I can sufficiently curse it out like a scorned witch from an old Mexican village.   

During my isolation, I eat out of necessity although I am thrilled to be served hot food on trays each day.  As someone in a long term relationship, I really have to give it up to my partner for completely coming through for me.  He's never been one to dote, so making breakfast, lunch, snacks each day is a true feat not to mention fetching meds, endless hot and cold drinks, washing dishes and sleeping on a tiny loveseat.  Everything I put him through with the two ER scares was above and beyond for anyone, let alone, you know, a man.  He's a guy-guy, not one of these new millennial empaths.  That's a nice way of saying he's not naturally considerate, its work for him.  He's a loner that never grasped the concept of union completely.  Usually he needs very clear instructions if I want help and nothing can be left for interpretation.  He'll do anything I ask, I just couldn't imagine he'd be up for making every meal for 2 weeks straight. People are dying alone though, so I can't help but be flooded with deep gratitude.  I know his limitations so I'm sure he was about ready to stop being nice to me like 9 days ago.  Afterall, this is real life and we all just want to be left alone, no one more so than my husband,  so I recognize the scope of his generosity.  These are some of the meals he left at my door like a tired, angry prison guard.
Rigatoni and bok choi

Chili Relleno and Chips
Spaghetti and meat sauce with sauteed mushrooms and garlic
Red Velvet Cake with tea and shot of whiskey
pot pie and steamed broccoli with banana
Bunless cheeseburger with vegetable soup
chicken noodle soup with grilled cheese and sundried tomatoes
Pizza slices
Chicken wrap with vegetable soup
Pot pie with 1/2 a sandwich
Corn Chowder with 1/2 sandwich
Ravioli and lettuce wraps
A proper sandwich and chips
Scrambled ham and eggs with spinach tortilla
pizza slices

I'm not far enough away yet from this virus but I do have to say, it is intriguing.  If you haven't had the pleasure, it's not what you might think.  Yes, it is closest to the flu and the lists you see on MSN are all true. Of course it's different for everyone, but there are so many more not so small oddities that come and go like little gremlins.  Some so severe, they wreak psychological havoc on your already tired mental state. Dry, cracked lips, stabbing leg pain, blurry site, achy eyes, sudden rash.  Here's one for you acid droppers from the 70s.  Remember when your eerily warm skin felt super alive, as if time stopped existing and you could feel all the microbial cities making your body work with some inner eye??  You know the one, where you find yourself in the bathroom examining this incredible foreign creature two inches from the mirror. Well, That feeling!  Ringing in the ears, extreme charley horses in the extremities, sudden hoarseness. I mean the list goes on, nausea, scary chest pain, teeth chattering chills, sweats, back punching pain and zombie like tremors.  I write this list to share but also to remember.  You never feel 100% but weeks from now I'll need to remind myself of waking up on the floor from passing out, sweating and running to get Patrick but realizing I couldn't move half my body, my arms and hands locked up in a crippled position.  I'm super lucky and although I'm still sequestered, it seems for whatever reason I have been spared again.  But the virus got me close enough to that frightful edge again that I stay on high alert. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Baby Let's Cruise, Away From Here

Broccoli Bar Platter from the night before, when things were swell

He sat like a gargoyle at the edge of the hospital gurney watching everyone.  His shaved head darting right and left.  People were screaming and moaning in layers of sound from multiple directions.  Let me out of here or I'll kill you!, a man threatened at the other side of the room.  Brother!  Brother! A woman screams every two minutes, who sounds just like Fran Lebowitz.  We are in the emergency unit of Maimonides Medical Center in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.  The scene is straight out of a Scorsese film. It's overcrowded and chaotic, probably a typical Friday afternoon.  My side-eye glances reveal blood on gowns, limbs are cock-eyed and assorted other attrocities as we pass the first room of triage.  Some people are in extreme pain, others are very old, and I imagine them dying quietly alone. P tells me not to look.  Now we're further in a packed holding room, and they're parking me sideways in the hall.  I get moved a few times, finally to the corner.  I'm at the emergency for the second time in a week.  This time because I passed out and then my body went into some sort of mangled shock.  My hands, arms and legs froze contorted and it felt like a solid wooden board replaced my bladder.  Later it would be revealed I had COVID again.

But this story isn't about me, it's about the day my partner transformed into one of our most treasured icons.  Yes, P Tom Cruise'd the shit of me in the hospital.  A very intense Nigerian doctor came to take my symptoms but had zero patience and difficulty understanding my phrasing, which he seemed to hold against me.  I was having a hard time getting my words out and the good doctor was basically yelling at me for not being clear.  He didn't know what teeth-chattering meant, so I finally had to lift my mask to show him.  With eyes the only visible tool, I looked to P for help and he seemed to take the side of the doctor, mansplaining my symptoms.  The intimidating man (who I found later was in training) walked away and P was 5 inches from my face within seconds.  I swear his voice was that of Mr. Mission Impossible himself.  'We... are... managing them!' he said to me with an equally intense urgency.  'Stay with me here!  We need this man on our side, this place is insane right now."  And I complied immediately.  He was right, there was nothing to be gained by splitting hairs on bowel movement descriptions or what constitutes falling with this giant hothead.  Besides, we will most likely get sick IN here, so the best thing to do is manage out of it and quickly.

A tough nurse said I wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom but my bladder had been the boss this week, so we defied her rules and she simply stopped and yelled "Support her!" to Patrick.  An older lady came to take my blood and set up an IV as if she was a short order cook preparing the breakfast special on the busiest day of the year.  She poked and taped and was finished in less than a minute.  The IV came undone but no one noticed as my arm turned to ice. Another woman frantically handed me a pee cup that everyone made mention of but no one ever collected.  Others came, all asking similar questions yet somehow each one repeated back some inaccuracies and for some reason everyone called me a smoker.  Hours later we were double masked, and even more critical folks were wheeled in.  An elderly man walked by several times, pulled down his mask and hacked up a boatload of phlegm in our general direction.  

Image result for tom cruise intense scene

A tough looking drunk  guy that possibly came out the wrong side of a bar fight was put right in front of us and I prayed he wouldn't wake up.  P focused on his movements.  I wanted to get out of there.  He continued to stand guard and after a few tests and pokes, and two COVID tests, I was released.  P got us out of there and into an Uber.  It was now dark, late and very cold.  

The next morning the urologist would call and tell me I had COVID.  He said to get an Oximeter, and to return to the hospital if anything gets worse.  Worse? I thought, What would that look like? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

I Dreamed I Saw the Silver Spaceships Flying In the Yellow Haze of the Sun

What was to be a day trip tag along ride with P would turn into the beginning of a series of unfortunate events.  I thought it might be a good idea to go get out, breathe some fresh air and forget all our worries.  P needed something you can only get it in Massachusetts, a short 2 hour drive up the Taconic, our favorite parkway.  If it was fun, maybe we'd spend the night in a hotel, as my sister suggested, make it a real getaway.

This was a steak and cheese breakfast sandwich we got an hour into the drive.  The beautiful thing about the Taconic State Parkway is it's a step back in time. You would swear you were in the 1970's by the views and traffic on this Pandemic Sunday, so peaceful.  Getting out of the city is a an insane series of frantic merges, so by the time you do get out, you need that peace. 

The Pass - A nice dispensary in the Berkshires
The night before I'd read about a UFO incident that happened in the same town of Sheffield.  The story was featured in Ancient Aliens and Unsolved Mysteries, Vol 1, the Berkshires UFO, right up my crazy alley.  A compelling story involving several unrelated townsfolk that seem more interesting than credible but regardless, convinced me that something happened here back in 1969.  Many things, as a matter of fact, and one started right on this bridge as a family witnessed a giant round orb floating above the water and then woke hours later down the road, in different positions in the car.  Namely, the grandmother was in the driver's seat but she no longer drove, and was definitely not driving that night.  No one could account for the missing time.
The covered bridge where light beams flooded the wooden planks of the Reed family car as they crossed that hot, summer Labor Day evening. 

Nerd Alert!
Admittedly awestruck and giddy to be out of town on a road trip, let alone sidetracked to an authentic UFO site!
It's official, UFO's exist!

The town was great, the hotel was cute and looked over the Green Mountains.  Everything was actually pretty dang wonderful. 

We picked up the booty and decided to stay the night.  There was a snow storm that was to hit the area and dump a good amount of snow and sleet, making conditions icy and dangerous.  I was tired, like the kind where you can only quietly watch bad movies.
That same night I become very ill, like a big veil of ookiness fell on the bed. I decided just to lay still while P played guitar and enjoyed his bounty.  I woke in the night to intense pain (close your ears if you're sensitive), urinating blood, so I woke P to say I needed to go to hospital.  Nothing a stoner wants to hear and never at 5 in the morning.  All bad things got worse quickly so instead of waiting for a clinic to open, we rushed 7 minutes away to the most beautiful hospital, atop a tree-lined hill through winding streets with this beautiful freshly fallen snow.  If I wasn't so miserable, I would have taken more pictures. 

Fairview Hospital Great Barrington
Not cute 
The ER doctor looked more concerned than you'd want and I think he may have believed I was beaten. He asked me who was 'that guy' I came in with and why wasn't he there now.  I told him the nurse said my husband had to wait in the car due to COVID protocol.  Later, while the super nice nurse moved my sleeve up, to take my blood pressure, she showed these bruises on her own arm that were the exact outline of a giant hand and possibly why the doctor was suspicious. Not wanting to assume anything myself, I could only imagine what brut grabbed her in such a violent manner.  Small town hospital with a story of it's own, how comforting in a strange way.  The doctor even insisted on looking at my abdomen after prodding and poking.  He kept saying, and you're sure you have no surgery scars or bruising?  They did a CT Scan and saw extreme bleeding in my bladder and gave me antibiotics for what he said may be the worst UTI he's ever seen if that was even what it was.  But to follow up right away with my doctor and a urologist to find out 'what's going on'.  Wait, I thought that was what he was gonna do.  It's hard to understand how it all works, especially when you're weak and groggy but since then, we have discovered, ER doctors make sure you're not dying.   They assess and stabilize you.   I was sent with prescriptions and lots of paperwork on drugs, alcohol, and domestic abuse.  
We stayed another night for me to rest and P made the romantic gesture of carving my name out of snow in the hotel parking lot.   I got right on the meds and pain killers.  

We were so excited to try the local fare but on that snowy night all that could be delivered was pizza.  It was great actually, and P was particularly impressed by the crust.  Family run businesses are usually the best and this was no exception.
Vivaldi's Pizzeria

Missing are pictures of nachos and cheese soup, chili and pot pies, pancakes and eggs.  Normally highlights for me but this time just bites of tasteless nothingness. 

A constant view of downed trees for miles and miles is a side story for another time.
Still, the trip was incredible and we managed to laugh about most of it and agreed it was memorable. 
We drove home the following day and 4 days later I had another ER visit and there was diagnosed with COVID. Again.