Saturday, February 27, 2021

You Know That I'm Weak for You

I won't call this a pizza, but pie isn't fitting either.  Flatbread perhaps.  Well, it's pIzza dough topped with mushrooms, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, garlic, chicken sausage and cheddar cheese.  It wasn't lacking a sauce,  instead the tomato and mushroom held their juices intact like a sweet surprise released with each bite.  
This was also a good reminder that an impromptu pizza-type creation is always waiting to be made with whatever you have in your fridge.  And another good way to use up small portions of vegetables, herbs and cheeses.  Most markets sell better fresh or frozen doughs now was well.  Not to mention it's another self contained meal, which I love.   You can make this stovetop if you don't want to put your oven on in warmer weather.
So you see, there is no reason we shouldn't be eating pizza like concoctions more often.  Now if you'll excuse me, I must get into my fat pants. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

There's a Moon Over Me So Bright, It Lights Up My Sorrow For Everyone To See

Like the groundhog, I popped out of my hole and took a walk today.  The day was sunny and warm for the first time.  After a few steps, I realized I still felt pretty vulnerable in the out of doors.  Crossing streets and passing fast walkers, left me a little skittish.  I ventured out for fresh air, to get a bit of exercise but the true motivation was to find a dress for my father's funeral, a bleak task on this sunny day.  Walking towards Fulton Mall I got caught behind a woman with a bloodied nose who stopped periodically to thrust her face forward, apparently to dislodge liquids and then immediately howl beastly grunts.  Instantly I shrunk up, feeling queasy trying not to meet her eyes that looked so violent.  I crossed the street and she followed suit.  I'm a little gun shy with germs right now, not to mention mentally ill people with loads of energy.  By the way, there are a lot more of them on the streets and subways.  I stopped to recoil into the cyber world for a moment but decided to push on after a few voice texts.  
I haven't worn a dress since my mother's funeral 3 years ago.  In a desperate desire to crawl back to my burrow, I ended up settling with one that looked like it came out of Eunice's closet from Mama's Family   
All in all, I'm still calling this a good day.  Excellent breakfast tostadas with leftover meat and sauce from last night's enchiladas with added creamy scrambled eggs and this amazing daytime full moon.  
It's heartbreaking to see all these new mentally ill people in need of help on the streets but it did serve as a helpful gauge for me on this day.  Perhaps my weakness is on display but I got my crazy tucked in pretty tight under my mask, glasses and hat. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I'm Talking to Myself At Night Because I Can't Forget

Roasted carrots and Green Beans with tomatoes
Even though I'm in it, in no way do I want to be defined by this Long Haul Covid Syndrome.  I fear I've become it's little bitch at this point.   Long COVID is like my abusive pimp that is bringing me Johns that beat me up and leave me bedridden and broken.   I must find a way out of this life.  It's difficult to talk about because I want to share this experience but not worry family or friends.  I must say, however, that I have come to a place of acceptance, that it is here and I need to deal with it.  From a scientific perspective, it's fascinating.  The way the virus struck the world and changed us forever.  I contracted COVID through my retail job, in March of last year.  I would say it was a medium extreme case.  Like many others we weren't hospitalized or tested right away because there was no room at the inn.  Plus hospitals were like roach motels, people checked in but they didn't check out.  We nursed each other back to enough health to return to work, after it opened back up.  But fairly quickly I learned it wasn't out of my body.  I would say the original virus aged us maybe 5 years and felt like we'd been in a bad car accident.  I still had many symptoms but they were more a topic of discussion rather than anything too debilitating.  I should mention though, we would from time to time admit our struggles in secret.   I couldn't ride the bike as long without getting extremely winded to name one.

Then in January of this year, I got the virus a second time and it hit my body like a freight train at first, the rest was a tolerable, but bedridden 3 to 4 weeks.  This time, instead of healing, it just keeps morphing into weird new things, like clusters of symptoms or flu storms. I would never believe this if it weren't happening to me.  I am my own lab experiment now.  It is getting to me and I need some release.  It may help me to get it all out there, like a good cry, just let it all out.  So, just look at the pretty pictures if you're not up for this. 
This is what the long haul has been for me:  My stomach has gone through a war and the nausea is debilitating.  I had a major infection that took forever to go away. My abdomen was super sore and I was on antibiotics as well as pain meds for weeks.  Now my bladder gives sudden deep aches for no reason.  Much of this is out of the blue by the way, so it's very easy to get sideswiped by a giant pain that can take you down.   I've had several doctor visits and went on Short Term Disability from work, something I NEVER thought I'd do.  Gremlins have inhabited my body.

I was to return to work in the beginning of March but instead I broke down at my doctors office.  I went in to get a release to travel to my father's funeral, he started asking questions and it all just came out like a drunk puke.  He asked me point blank, can you return to work and I realized then, I couldn't but that felt so crazy to me that I was stressing out big time.  I explained, yes I can walk 6 blocks but that's all I can do, pushing it seems to anger the demons.  He had been writing the words, Long COVID on my disability forms but only this time did we really talk about it as an actual thing.  He not only explained what they know, which is not much, but called it by it's new term, PASC, post acute sequelae Sars Cov2 infection.  This felt good and bad.  Bad because, this was becoming too real.  Good because when my doctor talks I calm the fuck down and can comprehend news, even when it's not good. 

But it is a long haul, as described.  I am just now beginning to go on walks, ride the stationary bike indoors with weights.  2 weeks ago I could not write or go for a walk because there was literally not enough energy to do anything but lay on the couch and pant, completely lethargic for days upon weeks.  I would make a meal every few days but it took all I had to do it and I couldn't taste anything but salt.  I slowly gave myself management projects, like cleaning a closet or fridge.  I'm not depressed, but I am nervous.  Like a flacid penis, most days the will is there to get going but nothing cooperates.  Fatigue stays steady but the rest is a true variety show.  I'll get fever blisters in my mouth when I feel my body start to battle with itself, like a little evil reminder saying, don't get feisty
Dinner with what is in the refrigerator.  
The scariest part is the chest pain.  All systems rush to protect the heart, and I just try to sit very still until it passes but sometimes it goes on for an hour or so, many times in the middle of the night, that's when the fear sets in.  It can't be good for your body to defend against that for too long.  I could have a stroke, my doctor reminds me or it could be damaging my kidneys because apparently, it has the ability to continue to wreak havoc, which I don't fully get but from what I understand it tricks your body into attacking itself.  My eyes burn all the time as does the top of my head and my hair at the crown is falling out.  My heart races always and skips beats, which is off putting.  Much of the time, I have shortness of breath, as if I'd just run up 10 flights of stairs.  For a couple of weeks I felt dumb as a rock, almost to the point of stuttering again as I did as a child, where I could not find my words or my mouth wouldn't move.  I go for a walk now and my legs get so tired, they start to feel like spaghetti.  I have a heaviness in my chest like with the flu that makes my voice sound like Marge Simpson. 
Patches of skin will dry up overnight and either develop a rash or extremely dry, peeling skin.  My ears and neck this week were the victims, but now suddenly, like magic,  the itchy rash is gone.  I've always had headaches but these new ones feel almost like there is something IN my head squeezing on things that shouldn't be touched.  My legs get extremely restless, like they need to grow into a werewolf.  My lips will get real red and burn as if with fever.  I feel that damp deep cold in my bones when you can't get warm and literally the very next second, I'm sweating bullets but it keeps on until my whole body overheats to a breaking point and then it finally subsides.  I had hot flashes previously but this is next level.   
Sister's Ice Storm in Colorado from 2/11/21
I read you do get better, or most people should and I aim to be one of them.  I believe with the right outlook and regimen, I will heal.  If I'm not a changed person who appreciates life to it's fullest at that time, then I give permission to shoot me dead on site.  For now, its day to day and a good one can bring such hope, whilst a bad one sends me into the fear that it's going to take an exorcism to get this outta me.  
Something to appreciate, the taste of tomatoes with green beans

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

You Have to Believe We Are Magic

My mom's fresh enchilada's featuring her secret sauce and Mexican rice.  Before the restaurant and before my mom started to loathe cooking at home, she used to make these enchiladas by dipping the corn tortilla in a hot pan of just made sauce, then she'd fill them with shredded cheddar cheese and onions, roll them and top with more sauce and lettuce and onions.  She was like a short order cook passing the plates as they were made and you ran to the table to eat them right away, so the lettuce would be crisp and cool and the flavor - texture combination stayed on point.  They were light, fresh and the sauce was the highlight.  As a kid, I loved them because they were her 'signature' enchiladas and never have I experienced them since at a restaurant or relative's house.  I love to think that during her lifetime she could acknowledge her amazing gift for what I call the Goldilocks touch.  My sister Rachel has it too.  Somehow whatever they make becomes the magical balance of exact seasonings to bursting flavors.  It's subtle and perfect at the same time.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

You're the Bone Machine

Like a smart little squirrel, I stored my nuts for the winter by putting my turkey carcass from the holidays in the freezer, along with one of the breasts.  First a delicious stock was created giving the bones a place to shed their last nutrients.  Then carrots, celery, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves and noodles went into the crock pot with the shredded breast meat, and stock for the most comforting of soups.  A squeeze of lemon and red pepper flakes in your serving bowl is advised for maximum pleasure. 
I added Thai Brown rice noodles 30 minutes before it was done

Turkey Carcass Crock Soup

Saturday, February 20, 2021

You Can Get it Wrong and Still You Think That It's Alright

Sheet Pan Dinner
Potatoes, carrots, chicken, onions with oyster mushrooms, broccoli rabe and white bean saute.
Actually, this was a half wok, half sheet pan dinner.  Oyster mushrooms are so delicate, I wanted to taste them with sauteed rabe, garlic and white beans.  I wanted to challenge myself to get this all on the pan but in the end, it was the right choice to wok it out instead.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

But I Always Thought That I'd See You Again

Leftover Albondigas Soup

This was one of those illusory type of days that happen after someone passes.  You can't grasp the news as a heavy fog rolls over all of your thoughts.  I walked around, outside of my body in a seemingly non-existent world all day.  Nothing felt real except for these two oven tacos.  I literally threw two corn tortillas on a sheet pan and slathered them in olive oil before filling them with melty cheese and meat, then schmooshed them down with a spatula.  I was probably crying the whole time.  In a hot oven they stayed until slightly crispy and for some reason, tasted like the best thing ever created.  Dad would have liked them for a snack and as the patriarchal foodie, probably would have appreciated or at least understood the nervous eating. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

It's Easier Than Just Waiting Around to Die

Rest in Peace

Looking fancy on a trip to Mexico

My father passed yesterday peacefully with loving grandchildren literally at his bedside in Arizona. Without dredging up unnecessary muck, I can only report that death during the Pandemic is brutal on dysfunctional families.  Just one more layer of hardship on already tired souls.  
In order not to pound my face in the pavement, I went to the kitchen to make a tribute meal for dad.  One of my favorite memories is watching Westerns with him and basically anytime he was in the kitchen, because that's when he was most animated.  So I made a comforting Albondigas Soup and rented the Homesman with Tommy Lee Jones in his honor.  We didn't eat this growing up but it looked beautiful and soups can be medicine when you need them to be. 

I'll miss his sense of humor and always admire how he kept learning, reading and remained so in love with life always and until the end.  He told me to embrace my craziness, to thank my lucky stars if I'm nuts because we're the blessed ones in life.  We don't see all the ugliness.  He was wrong but that stayed with me and helped.  

People say, 'well, he was 97' as if you should be ready to let him go, which makes logical sense but I think it was my nephew Ty that said, at 97 they've been with you so many more years that it's even harder to see them go away.  Me and Sid went full circle in this lifetime.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Be Here to Love Me Today

My dad is leaving this earth.  When people begin to pass, you may get little gifts from the universe if you're lucky and pay attention.  My niece who had cared for him for years texted at 4am that she had a horrible feeling he was passing.  A mourning dove cried so loud at my window the next morning that it woke us, P thought it was an owl.  I remembered these birds from my mom and dad's houses in Arizona.  What an emotional song, more of a lamenting cry.  And that bird stayed with us for days, until another joined him after he passed and now they sit on the air conditioner making all kinds of racket.   
My Christmas cactus bloomed that next day, which I also took as a little nod from my mom.  Her spirit was definitely distributed in the birds and flowers, I believe.  And it would be like her to try to comfort me right now.
These sloppy dumplings made from pork, carrots, onion and garlic were made with nervous, sad hands.  

Saturday, February 13, 2021

And Then It Happened, It Took Me By Surprise

My dad went back in the hospital on this day, back in February.  We didn't know he would pass in 4 days.  I don't know what's worse, knowing it now or not knowing what will come, then.   
But people live an entire life in our minds whether they are here still with us, or after they've moved on.  With him on the brain, I recalled one year and for a period of time, straight out of the blue, my dad began making breakfast for my sister and I before grade school back in Fort Wayne.  My mother, worked nights at Wayne Candies and I guess they agreed on this strange arrangement.   
I remember coming downstairs, groggy, after dressing quickly without my mom's guidance which lead to some bad clothes choices and sometimes dirty socks.  The house still cold and dark, then the bright florescent overhead light and sounds of the transistor radio on the kitchen counter playing songs like This Magic Moment and Wedding Bell Blues louder than I was prepared to hear.  And my dad, smiling and more upbeat and happier than I was prepared to see.  I can imagine his big teeth and red face greeting me, asking how I wanted my eggs, like I was a real person.  Before this, he treated me like some random goofy kid that had no say in these matters.  I hated early mornings, being woken up period, ever.  I despised going to school, so my mood was less than stellar.  But I quickly learned, one must stay positive when attending dad's big breakfasts.  And grateful.  What I really wanted was warm Cream of Wheat and my mother but it turned out bacon, eggs, and toast was actually pretty special.   Sitting in the high back wooden chairs at the little table across from my sister in a smoky kitchen thick with the smell of bacon and again, the pop sounds of the late sixties blaring was so different that it spun my little morning world.  I realized that year that my dad had a completely other side, I'd never seen.  Everyone was moody in my house, me being no exception but dad taking care of household things, looking semi-happy to see us, was just bizarre.  Even though I was not ready to jump head first into rock and roll mornings, it happened and turned out to be one of my most treasured mysteries and memories of my dad.   
Sheet pan breakfast of potatoes and cherry tomatoes with eggs and bacon. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Alright Stop! Collaborate and Listen

Sister's Ice Storm in Colorado
This was a mash up of a stir fry and chicken fried rice.  Making a meal some days becomes like a little puzzle.
A small amount of leftover rice and one egg was just enough to accent the vegetables, making this a very light but satisfying meal.