Friday, December 28, 2012

brothers, boxes, and just enough ladles: merry christmas!

oh, this blog entry is gonna be all over the darned place.

you'll love it!

well, you'll love it if you love me, if you know me.  if you've just wandered in, looking for CRPS research abstracts, or elogies to pain... oh, damn, here we go.  "elogies." excuse the heck out of me, but i am going to substitute the french "éloges" because i certainly am not referencing some down-in-the-mouth funeral oration or the light fiction of an obituary.  and see?  see?  see how my own darned self has killed any natural momentum to the act of writing by an obsession with words?

only one dictionary of the three consulted listed a definition having to do with praise, and that dictionary underscored the "archaic" nature of that meaning.  none would have appreciated, were dictionaries capable of appreciation, mine own irony.

i just finished mouthing off to some important people in my life, and my mouth did it -- again and again.  that these people love me back is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

to TW, the subject line might have been a canary sufficient to the coal mine:  "i have so much to say..." but he is far, far from timorous, and probably read on to the opening of the elucidating message text, even as the little bird fell like a ten pound rock to the bottom of her newspapered cage:

...and yet i can't.  damn that samuel beckett.  [i can never remember whether he ends his last name with one T or two Ts, so i look it up, and every time, google suggests "bucket."]
so i will stick to the stuff that matters.

it turns out that "the stuff that matters," judging by the relative subject-weighting as distributed in this morning's anemic oxygen-debted febrile communiqués (for which spell-checker demands "communism"), is dehydrated vegetables.  more specifically, how to use them in a stew.

a stew that is rich and deep, melded by something part gravy-with-sheen, part viscous broth.  all of which will be ruined by chicken.  (i have emergent need of protein.)

a missing detail:  TW has been intimate with these vegetables, having sown, overseen, harvested, and dried them -- before gifting us manor squatters with their dessicated, concentrated goodness in the traditional Celebratory Box.  the beautiful history of TW's Boxes can be found in some of this mass of earlier posts or more quickly captured at the first's box arrival, HERE.

it's a weighty issue, and by that i mean that i am talking about dehydrated vegetables again:

for instance... can i treat the dried maters like sun-dried maters -- as in DON'T dilute their intensity?  or should i rehydrate everything before using, in which case, what happens to cooking times?  if i wanted to make a stew... can dehydrated veggies stand up to crock pot treatment or does that just wipe out their beautifully preserved virtues?

you may be thinking something along the lines of "i wonder if anyone ever actually gets to EAT at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé?" yes, smartass, when i cook, there is plenty of eating in the aftermath, usually with great praise.  born of starvation, perhaps, but great praise, nonetheless.

in any event -- a favorite phrasing -- this is kind of a belated christmas post.  or winter solstice party, quieted by a blanket of snow.

because as i cast my eyes about -- and sadly, i can -- i note that, once again, it is TW's gift, his plain brown boxes, that is the gift truly given, and -- finally, today, or any minute now -- truly received.

fred just inquired, all polite and all, "ummm, is there an ETA on that stew or should i go ahead and eat a little something now to tide me over?"

i love it when he whispers sweet nothings in these ears.

lest you think kindly of me, or even consider a revision in that direction, here's another epistolary extrait to a dear friend earlier this morning, mid-first cup of coffee, and after the dehydrated veggie soliloquy (she's a good cook), an extract having to do with me and my various bitchy attitudes at Christmas time:

bitter and fed up?  me? 
i kept thinking:  my stepmom, stepsister, and brother grader boob are all gathered at the beach, celebrating xmas the way i grew up celebrating it... i actually have a family that might welcome me... and here i am, doing THIS. 
yes, i about fell out of bed -- i got an email from my mom and stepsis, and one from the boob, separately.  they were nice, friendly, sweet.  it's like all anyone was waiting for was for dad to croak.  it reminds me of when he did his in-country service in vietnam -- that was the happiest year of our lives.

how ugly and crass is that comment, hmmm?  and yet i made it, and repeat it, here.  the feeling in my stomach the day he returned home had nothing to do with the joys of reunion, but the reignited fears of failure, and grief over the death of freedoms and lightness, the death, the agonal breaths, of lightness.

so, john lennon, yes, this is christmas... and what have i done?  nothing yet.  but i am getting ready to do the most ancient form of the freestyle crawl, not out of primordial slime, or even out of algae-flowered moat water, but out of this blasted bed, into the power chair, with a stop to freshen up, so as not to scare the genetically indentured domestic manor staff* on duty this fine afternoon -- finally heading out, smiling and humming, to one of my favorite kitchens in this wing of the place. (it has the cleanest spit and many shiny, copper-bottomed cookware, with just enough ladles hanging about, for ladling, and usually with sven and/or cabana boy hanging about, as well, for company.)

ETA on the stew?  ha! your guess is as good as mine.

* i've yet to publish the definitive documentation, nor have i made a clear explanation of how the genetically indentured domestic manor staff came into being, for i kinda fear for my life should i do so, but i did dip a toe in those waters, briefly, at the beginning of the infamous Looking Up the Garderobe Chute post.

LATE-BREAKING ADDENDUM:  We are proud to announce the successful creation and consumption of a delicious stew.  It had depth.  It had just enough heat for a first go-round with the beautiful peppers and chiles and tomatoes.  Two huge bowls, normally dedicated to pasta dishes, were consumed per diner, and more might have been eaten were it not for the necessity to finish off the remains of Fred's various birthday cakes.  For my brethren and sistren stewmeisters, I used a potato-onion-tomato-cream base and built from there.  Booze was involved, also chicken (Did I mention an emergent need for protein?  Fast and easy protein?  Think "protein whore, protein skank," and whaddaya think?  CHICKEN!), plus roasted, shredded, beautifully crunchy brussels sprouts, diced sweet, sweet carrots.  As for spices, I was a bit boring -- sage, rosemary... but mostly thyme.  No matter what flavor profiles were considered, my mind kept returning to thyme.
Next attempt -- probably next Wednesday, on behalf of the Militant Lesbian Existentialist Feminists (and darling Fred) for their Wednesday night supper, when I will be aiming for more heat.  I am training those women to have asbestos palates.  It's a necessity in this new millennium, this new world.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Seasonal Under-Seasoned, Non-Reasoned Side Dish

This is not exactly a "vent," according to the technical requirements of venting, nor is it a pot pourri, as defined many times in this blog.  You can refresh yourself of the sad history of rotten earthenware on elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle by fecklessly clicking HERE.

As for "venting," I'd go there in a heartbeat -- perhaps it's all I ever do -- but the thought of passing gas in the midst of a gastrointestinal bleed that cannot decide whether to resolve or seep, well, you understand.  And if you don't, well God bless your sweet little heart and maybe you should consider hanging out elsewhere, hmm?

It's an upper bleed, born of my need for anti-inflammatories.  See, Ma?  I told you it wasn't the crack and the meth and the fentanyl or the percocets that were gonna bring me down!  It's the Mobic and the ibuprofen, not to mention that fiendish aspirin protocol, those deceptively sweet little 81 mg aspirin doses meant for gurgling, chubby babies. Those fiendish back-alley drugs sold by tottering toddlers in droopy diaper drawers.

While I am blessing simpler minds and hearts, let me also praise the television and the brilliance of its offerings today.  You see, changing the channel has become difficult, much as standing, sitting, rolling over, and begging for bonita flakes have become terrible tasks.  Of course, I may be slightly confused, as my O2 sats are averaging a whopping 84.  I don't beg for bonito flakes.  Buddy begs for bonito flakes.  So where the television was when it was extinguished in the wee hours is where it stayed, mostly, today, under the terse glare of my double vision.

I watched three Dirty Harry movies in a row.  I'd never seen one before, not in its entirety (there's a clue for ya!).

Being a member of the simpler-minded set, the "dirty" in Dirty Harry began to bug me.  I started to itch.  Putting on my thinking cap, and vaguely wondering what-the-hell-is-that-musty-odor? -- I began to calculate, by counting backward through the momentous events that mark my days, when last I showered.

Hmmm, thought I, the Mathematician.  I knew The Calculus would serve me one day.  A liberal arts education is not yet bereft of all use!  And do you remember the guy who tutored me, O My Goodness.  Joe the Football Player and Math Whiz.  A cutie-pie.  A sweetie-poo.  His jeans weren't in style but they fit well, and we liked each other.  I hope Joe the Football Player and Math Whiz had a good life.  He surely deserved one.

Umm, yes, well, anyway, it turns out to have been the morning we went dashing through the rain to the Emergency Room... last Monday.  No... that's not right.  It was the Monday before THAT, 10 December.

Upon which realization, I made showering the sole goal of my day, to the relief of Fred, the Feline Triumvirate, and the Cistercian Brotherhood (apparently there has been a freakish shift in wind patterns, lo this past fortnight).

I must insist, as I have before, that I am not dirty.  I bathe daily, just not in the confines of a bathtub or shower.  Judicious use of a well-stocked half-bath, often two to three times in a day, keeps me as clean as your average person.  But we all know there's nothing like a shower, and certainly nothing feels so good as warm water streaming down an accursed bowed back.

This time, I refrained from scrubbing my feet, as that proved to be such a distraction to the medic-types in the hospital.  "Ew... your feet are bleeding." They even called in the Wound Care Team, which consisted of two timid young folk, quivering at the end of the bed, saying: "Ew... your feet are bleeding."

Moving right along, the shower is done, and the Dirty Harry marathon, as well.  I made a stab at changing the channel and hit upon, in sequence, The Sound of Music and The Return of the King, last of the trilogy.  Thank you, Peter Jackson.  Pippin just sang a plaintive tune to the finger-licking Denethor, Steward of Gondor.  That's one messed up Daddy -- though the influence of Mordor can do that to a man.

Which brings to mind a hilarious series of tweets, strung together by Todd Zwillich some time back.  I love 'em and know you will, too.  It was his moment of personal insanity over the often insanity producing topic of the bleeping "fiscal cliff."

Know who else went over the cliff to his demise? 

Know who ELSE went over the cliff to his demise?? 

Know who !ELSE! went over the cliff but survived? 

Know who ELSE went over the cliff but was stronger for it?!

[i *totaly* messed up that slick copy and paste maneuver, apologies!]

I can't go to movie theatres anymore -- that's right, I've been universally banned -- so The Hobbit being out is about killing me.  Have any of you Dear Readers seen it?  Was it wonderful?

I made it through this day, plan to do well tomorrow and actually sally-forth from behind Manor walls for some Christmas cheer and shopping.  I'm whipping up a ginger and honey carrot dish for Fred to offer the few Militant Existential Feminist Lesbians who will gather for a meal on Christmas day.  I'm planning to sneak some fresh cranberries, cooked just to the point of popping, to the dish, and think it will be beautiful as well as tasty.  

When I dropped the bomb about having been granted DNR status and offered Hospice palliative care during this last hearsepital stay, I thought there'd be an uproar.  Instead, there's been a studious refusal to discuss it.  I am in a quandry, as I don't feel much like talking about it, either, but really, really would be angry were it to be screwed up in application... so I am trying to figure out the right time to broach this oh-so-celebratory topic.  All I know is... bless one Dr. Montgomery, who helped me NOT to go to pieces but to articulate my wishes in a sane and sensible manner.

So I am thinking the best time to spring the discussion on the old Loved Ones is between the Yule Log and the popping of the 2013 cork.  And to cross every available digit in the hope that nothing happens between now and then.

As usual, not the post I set out to write.  Not a vent, not a pot pourri, not even something I'd choose to proof or edit.

It turned out like some kind of underseasoned, overthought side dish.

Needs salt.