Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just Look For Polaris

My dad, in a truck when he worked for the state building the Stevenson Expressway. I'm sure he couldn't have given clear directions to it. It only got worse when he went to work for himself.

I like maps. Look in the glovebox of the Mighty Ford Tempo, and you'll see an assortment from neighbouring states and beyond. A GPS is nice until it leads you down some long-abandoned mining road, or into the far reaches of Death Valley. Me? I'll take a map, thanks very much.

My dad drove thousands upon thousands of miles a year making deliveries. He was self-employed and preferred to make the deliveries himself, partially out of a thrifty nature (why pay someone to do what you can do yourself?) but largely because he enjoyed the interaction. People that didn't live with him really enjoyed him, in a harmless gadfly sort of way. He liked to joke that he was like president Nixon-loved around the world, but hated at home. Well that was partly true, except for the, "loved around the world" part. My dad loved Nixon, and Pat and the girls probably loved Nixon, but I don't know anyone else that did, at home or abroad. The point is, dad drove that delivery truck six days a week from Chicago to Milwaukee leaving at 5 AM to get loaded, and coming home somewhere around 8 PM except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he would do a longer route coming home after 10 PM. With that many miles being logged, you'd think the man could give accurate, easy to follow driving directions. You would think.

Part of dad's problem was his refusal to keep accurate records. A quick glance at his sales book and you'd see the name of a place, and what they bought, and someone's signature for the delivery/payment. It was largely a cash only business (save for the larger hotel chains and places with purchasing departments). He was a food distributor. Do you have any idea how many restaurants there are between Chicago and Milwaukee? It didn't help that the taverns and hot dog stands all had names like, "John's Place." He knew where he was going, which was fine as he only missed five days of work in over fifty years, and it was really only four and a half because he went immediately back to work following my mother's funeral. He made sure it was an early, graveside service.

What my dad gave in place of proper directions were landmarks. Some, were known to everyone, "Go North when you get to Nicky's Poo Palace" (The North Side Sanitation District waste-water plant where his childhood friend, Nicky was in charge of operations) or, "Keep going until you see the lake", or "Over where they had the Haymarket Riots." Those were landmarks I could work with, and more or less figure it out from there. I have a reasonably good sense of direction, and Chicago and Milwaukee are both on grids. Learn to work the numbers and diagonal streets, and everything is fine. It was a bit surreal when I moved to Boston which is, well, not a grid. Boston streets are like abstract art. Thankfully, I didn't require directions from my dad too often, but when it did arise it was like code breaking. I did eventually figure out that Crawford and Pulaski were the same street which was quite the Eureka moment. Those other four and a half days that he couldn't work when he was in hospital, I flew in from Boston to run his route for him. It was, in hindsight quite a lot to ask of me, but I did it and twenty years later it hardly matters. What I do remember being outrageous was being expected to make deliveries across two states with such cryptic directions.

"You know where it is. Right next to Hans' garage."
"You know, Hans. The guy that came out to tow me in the snowstorm that time I got the frostbitten ear."
The frostbitten ear he got trying to change a flat on a fully loaded truck in a blizzard, in 1973!

Sometimes he'd be more specific, indicating it was by a gas station that sold lottery tickets and cheap cigarettes (all gas stations in Wisconsin sell lottery tickets and cheap cigarettes) or near a church ("I don't know what sort of has a steeple!"). Somehow everyone got their deliveries  (if they didn't, or received the wrong ones they didn't complain) and every place I brought merchandise to had to spend several minutes telling me what a great fellow my dad was, and to send him their best for a speedy recovery. Why wouldn't they, it wasn't like they needed to rely on him for driving directions.

This was before mobile phones were common, but dad had adopted that bit of technology early. I took the rather large phone (compared to today's models) with on the truck, and he'd regularly call to make sure I hadn't gone the opposite direction and ended up in Indiana. He was ill, so it would have been wrong to mention he would, without fail take the wrong exit on his bi- monthly delivery run to Lansing. Michigan, and end up on his way to Grand Rapids. Every. Single. Time. But he was in hospital, so I just told him where I'd been, and tried to extract more detail about where the "Tavern near the ballpark that sold hamburgers" might be located. I'd get something helpful like, "Oh you know the cook there used to work in the deli at the cheese place." In Wisconsin. "Cheese Place" is not a helpful description. If he was being particularly helpful I might get some detail to jog my memory like, "Remember LaDonna, who used to send you home different flavours of loose tea?" I remembered LaDonna, and I remembered the tea (when I was six) but I was damned if I could remember where she worked, or how to get there. I do remember the tea though, dad had nice customers.

Bad as this was, it was so much better than driving with dad in the passenger seat. Though he was discharged, it was clear he couldn't quite take the wheel yet, so I continued to drive him on his route for the next week or so. My dad had a habit of punching people to get their attention. Not terribly hard, mind you, but enough to get your attention. We'd be driving along, suddenly I'd feel a slap or a fist on my shoulder accompanied by the shouted instruction to, "Turn here!" This was typically delivered far too late to take the requested turn which would result in another shoulder punch to tell me to "turn around in that lot over there!" The first time Mr. ETB was in the car with my father for any length of time he was horrified. I'm sure it looked close to the Three Stooges in violence to an outsider, but to me it was just my dad's inability to give directions. "Go here." was about the best he could do, especially if he was talking and not really paying attention-and he was always, always, talking.

I had a friend in college that would tell you to turn left and at the same time, be pointing right. It was maddening, but I soon learned to listen rather than look when she was navigating us somewhere.  She never punched me, and she understood how the numbering system of the Chicago streets worked, so I cut her some slack. Mr. ETB is dreadful with directions, rarely taking the same path to a place more than once, but as with my college friend, he keeps his hands to himself, and no one is shouted at, so if I'm in doubt about somewhere I need to go I either consult a map, or my son. He's the only member of this family besides myself that could find their way out of a parking lot, and explain how it was done.

I like to think I give excellent directions. When we lived on the farm, I could describe the route to the house all the way from Omaha with street names, route numbers, and where to take the appropriate turns. This was not by any means, common. Most people's directions would indicate you should "Turn by the grain elevator, but if you got to the feed lot you went too far." Not terribly helpful, but at least no one dared to punch me in the shoulder!  When we first moved there, in 2001 the locals were still not using street addresses as the postman lived in town, and knew where everyone lived. Every so often we'd get letters sent from the central post office telling us that we were now required to use proper street addresses, but I'm sure people are still sending mail to people in town with little more than their name and city. We might not have had a Haymarket or a Poo Palace, but we had barns full of hay, and plenty of manure. My dad would have felt right at home.

What about you? Can you give good directions, or do you resort to strangely nicknamed landmarks and punches? Do you use GPS, or prefer the feel of a well-creased old map?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I couldn't justify taking down a perfectly good dollar store decoration just because I bought it for Halloween. I wonder how long I can keep him going-a bow and arrow for Valentine's, Leprechaun hat for St. Patrick's, bunny ears for Easter? I'm sensing a, "Through the Year With Mr. Owl" series. I have to get my dollar's worth out of him.
 I don't just recycle decorations. My freezer is filled with half cakes, and leftover curries. I recycled the mash and sprouts into a casserole tonight.
The gingerbread men for the tree (which the boys insist on assembling on Thanksgiving) are baked, and decorated by Danny, and sealed in treat bags. I'm storing them in a Halloween box as a nod to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Fine, who am I kidding-I'm too cheap to waste a Christmas box on them when I have a lightly used Halloween one at my disposal. The gingerbread men are baked with vegetable shortening and they will last straight through to New Year's. People like to snag a cookie from the tree through the season, so I always bake more than we need. After Christmas, I recycle them into breadcrumbs for thickening gravies (after chipping away the royal icing).
 All those half-used scraps of construction paper get new life as well.

Off topic-I have the same pedestal as Mary Beard. I also appear to have more books, which is positively terrifying. Wouldn't you love a peek at the titles?  "Gaius Octavius, the Untold Story of a Really Bad Roman Bastard", or "Herodotus-I made it All Up, SO WHAT? the newly discovered confession." I can't see well enough to be certain, but she appears to have a taxidermied bird beneath a dome. But hey, matching Italian pedestals.

I have to pause to tell you the story about that pedestal. My mum spotted it in an antique store, and had to have it. When she got it home (it comes apart in several pieces) we popped it into the tub in the laundry room and started cleaning it.
"Look at that detail" she said pointing to the section we were cleaning. "Even the cherubs have pubic hair."
Upon closer inspection, it just turned out to be a century's worth of dirt, which was disappointing because pubic hair on a cherub might have been an artistic first.

Moving along...
Yep, it will be a holiday wonderland in here by the time he's done.
Even the bird food started life as a loaf of bread. This poor little fellow looks so cold out there with the snow on his beak and feet. I know they're OK, and don't really freeze to perches (that's urban legend)but I still wish I could make him a tiny hat and booties.

And in other news (Stop reading here if you want to end on a cheerful note, because I'm going to have a moan).

I've had some setbacks of late, just when I thought I might finally be able to go get the tooth finished. Yesterday, I woke up with a stiff knee. By the end of the day I had swelling in both knees, ankles, and the calf of one leg. I went to bed thinking it was some arthritis/lupus related thing, but when I woke this morning I had large (quarter to half dollar  sized) spots some of which were bright red, others which had already started to bruise.

"Oh, I know what this is!" I said excitedly to Mr. ETB who was by that point looking a little pale.

I should note, I am not the do-it-yourself sort of anthropologist that sets their own broken bones (though I did buddy-tape a broken toe to the one beside it years ago, but that's all a doctor would have done). I have no desire to be a GP, and I find the whole medical environment unpleasant which is why I do my damnedest to stay the hell away from it.

So I recycled a diagnosis.

About 25 years ago I was in an automobile accident. My injuries were surprisingly mild considering what the car looked like afterward (seat belts save lives, kids!). About two weeks later, I had my knee and ankle stiffen up, to the point where I was walking down stairs sideways to avoid putting weight on it. It seemed so odd to have that happen so long after the initial accident-besides, my injuries were in the top half of my body. It made no sense. Within a day I had the spots, then the bruising. I went to our family doctor who had no clue what was happening. I was referred to a dermatologist who likely wouldn't have known either, had it not recently happened to her. It was, she said  my body's reaction to the trauma of the accident. I think I was given steroids and sent home with instructions to keep my leg elevated. It went away, and I never thought about it again-until this morning. I'd say having disinfecting solution going into my body was probably the source of trauma, and the reaction of my immune system to the intrusion. Erythema Nodosum isn't terribly common in people my age, but it happens. If it isn't better after a bit, I can see a doctor for another course of steroids, but for now I'm pretty confident I understand what's happening. It is a relief, but I'm still incredibly angry about it.

Or, I could be completely wrong and this could be some horrible, life-threatening thing, or an alien life form taking over my body in which case I won't need to devote any more time to worrying about that tooth, but those are the gambles you take.

I'm managing the stairs in that sideways stepping (my left leg is the worse of the two) manner I used years ago, and keeping my legs as elevated as possible through the day. The pain isn't bad when I'm simply standing, but any bending motion, like lowering myself down to the toilet is incredibly painful. Mr. ETB says that since Christmas is just around the corner, if I want to call the medical supplies place and have an elevated commode delivered, he's cool with that. I might take him up on the offer.  I had a root canal, and now I can't walk-how crazy. On the positive side, I've made great progress on Danny's birthday quilt as I'm spending a great deal of time sitting with my leg elevated.

You don't want to see photos, trust me. Google it if you must, but I warned you.

Here's one from the archives from this time last year-a recycled photo.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Maxwell Street Jacket

My dad liked to tell the story about my sister seeing the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago for the first time (late 50's, early 60's?) and promptly freaking out. She didn't like crowds, noise, and open air markets. "What's wrong with those people?!" she asked. Amused, he retold the story several times through the years. I however, had no such aversion. From a young age, I happily tagged along whenever I heard, "I'm going to Maxwell Street (or sometimes, Roosevelt Road) who wants to come with?" Why wouldn't I? Clothes, fabric and sewing notions, food-real food not some vile thing my mother concocted with help from her enablers at the hippie health food store-it was a child's idea of paradise. Well, the younger child's anyway. No one was going to offer you a handful of toasted soya-nuts, or carob covered anything.

Maxwell Street market had permanent stores as well, with people on the street (I think they were called, "pullers") to encourage shoppers to the store. "Hey, I have the best deal on..." next thing you know you're the proud owner of a typewriter, or a fish tank, or an industrial sized roll of brown butcher's paper (that one really happened. We didn't need greaseproof paper for years). Every nationality you can think of was represented, and together with their dress, and food, it was like exotic travel for the price of carfare.

A short distance away, on Roosevelt Road was Chernin's, the best shoe store on earth. My dad had very large, hard to fit feet and this particular store stocked both work-boots and dress shoes. The women's department had the craziest, flashiest shoes to be found anywhere. My mother said the hookers all bought their shoes there, which might not have been too far off. At any rate, that didn't stop me. Decades later, I have kept several pair of shoes I bought there as they are so unlike anything else I've seen. Unique would be an understatement. My dad wasn't stupid- bringing a teenaged daughter with to buy shoes at Chernin's was going to get expensive (you couldn't invite someone and then not buy them shoes) but he never complained. I think he accepted it as part of parenthood, and as already noted, I was the only one willing to go with him. Besides, after all that shoe-buying he'd be hungry, so we'd stop at Manny's Cafeteria for something to eat I was also the only one willing to eat at Manny's, which I never understood because the place was incredible. Sure, the food was great, but the people-watching was superb. I'm glad to see after a web search that they're still around. I don't know if you'd have the same experience today, with everyone's eyes glued to a device, but I would, without fail end up having some fascinating, sometimes crazy, conversation with the stranger seated beside us.Sometimes the person would have been to Chernin's too, and we'd compare purchases. Cafeteria style dining is a communal experience (or it was) and I'm glad I was able to have it.

At some point in the early 80's, I decided I wanted a motorcycle jacket-I knew where I'd get it too. That was my hard-earned money, and I was prepared to haggle for the best possible deal. Turned out, I didn't need to. My dad knew someone, who knew someone (as it goes) and the negotiating was already concluded by the time I arrived to pick it out. The elderly Jewish immigrant who sold it to me was under the impression I was buying it for someone, and seemed genuinely concerned that I might be riding a motorcycle! Then, because he had been trained as a tailor, he spotted a button about to fall off the jacket I was wearing, and insisted on sewing it back on for me, in the store.
So many items of clothing have gone through my wardrobe, but this jacket has been a constant. I find it difficult to imagine a time when I wouldn't want it. I spent more than 30 years getting it broken-in. I couldn't possibly get rid of it now. At one point, when it was still new-ish, my boyfriend at the time offered to tie it to the back bumper of his car and drag it along a gravel road to help break it in. I declined the offer, but I did wear it on a near continual basis for several years. It has been to weddings (my cousin Roberta's) and funerals (my mother's). In the heat, or the cold, dressed-up or down, this jacket was the best money I ever spent on an item of clothing. The weather in Chicago is flaky, so the jacket was never packed away for summer (which was how I ended up wearing it to a funeral at the end of May when there were snow flurries).Weighing in at close to four pounds, this is not a flimsy article of clothing. If I were to take up motorcycling, this would be a good barrier between myself and the road when I inevitably would fall off the bike.  This jacket has been a companion through major life events, and feels a little like a souvenir of the late 20th century. Where my aging brain has let go of so much over the years, it takes little more than slipping into the familiar quilted lining of my jacket to bring back memories of shoe stores, cafeterias, and standing at bus stops in the terrible Chicago winter weather waiting for buses that never showed up half the time. When I moved to Boston in my twenties, the jacket came with and continued to do waiting for the bus duty, though the buses were more reliable (mostly). Now, in Nebraska it rarely warms me as I wait for a bus, but it is a welcome companion on walks, or as I have worn it in this post-to save an outfit from developing diabetes from its own sweetness.

Satin and lace. That's a difficult look to pull off for anyone. I could have reached for a loud, polyester blazer but I remembered the motorcycle jacket and like I have so many times over the years, I pulled up that indestructible zipper, and set off to face the day. Then, my car died a few miles from home. At least I wouldn't be freezing to death waiting for help (I was able to get it re-started, and hobble it home without much trouble, but it could have been worse-and cold!).

Outfit Particulars:

Night Hawk Motorcycle jacket-Some leather goods shop on Maxwell Street in the 80's
Satin and lace 80's blouse-Hand-Me-Ups
Marcasite cameo brooch-Jordan Marsh, 90's
Pearls-Can't remember
1950's Coro clip earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
Skirt-Filene's, 90's
Belt-Von Maur, 2000's

 The shoulder detail is nice. It came with gigantic shoulder pads which I promptly removed and added to the large bag I keep for puppet making. They obviously make great wings, but I've found other uses as well. At some point I plan to affix them to a canvas and paint them, or perhaps construct large mobiles. Not everyone can claim to have hundreds of shoulder pads in a bag-that comes with a sense of obligation to do something interesting. I take artistic obligations quite seriously.
Still can't open my jaw very wide, or show much expression, but the eye swelling has mostly gone down. The eyelid still looks a little funny, but I'm probably the only one that notices it.
These days I rarely hang chains from the shoulder, or wear an armless denim jacket over it (that's been handed down to Danny) so instead I stuck on a brooch as I do with every other jacket I own. As I move into another stage of life I see no reason to stop wearing my beloved jacket, when instead I can adapt it to my current tastes.

Damn. All that talking about Chicago has me wanting a pastrami on rye...and I've been a vegetarian since 1983!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rosemary Potato Rolls

Our first real snow of the winter is underway, and the kitchen has been warmed by a steady stream of baked goods from the oven. These potato rolls are quick, and make use of instant yeast. If you only have conventional yeast, go ahead and dissolve it in warm water and add it to the milk mixture. You'll need two long rises if you go that route.

The dough is very sticky. resist the urge to add more flour if possible (flour your hands rather than adding it to the dough) so that the rolls will be light. How many rolls you get will depend how large you make them. From this recipe, I got 16.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups mashed potato mixed with 3 tablespoons melted margarine
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups buttermilk at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt (slightly less if using table salt)
1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) chopped, fresh rosemary
(about) 3 cups strong flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the buttermilk. Stir in the mash, sugar, salt, and rosemary. Slowly add the flour by hand adding only enough so that you can handle the dough. It will be sticky. Cover and let rest 20 minutes. Knead the dough by hand adding any additional flour it may require, and place in a buttered bowl. Cover, and let rise until doubled.

Punch down dough. It will still be sticky, so you may wish to flour your hands as you divide into balls and shape into rolls. Place shaped rolls on a buttered baking sheet. I like to sieve a bit of flour over the top of these, but that's optional. Cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise as the oven preheats to 400 degrees F. After 30 minutes, place the rolls in the oven and bake 10 minutes. After ten minutes, rotate the pan and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until tops are browned and rolls sound hollow when tapped with your knuckles on the bottom. Cool on racks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Someone's Found a Way to Give the Rotting Dead a Will to Live...

...go on and never die.

Well that was a shitty week. I'm supposed to say something positive here so er...onward! Are you buying that? Yeah, me neither. But let's pretend.

I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful comments, kind emails, and the like after last week's mishap. I really do appreciate it. It will take time to heal (I still can't have the procedure finished until the swelling and pain let up) and it isn't clear what if any long term damage there may be, but life goes on, doesn't it? You're a great bunch of pals, and I'd buy you all a couple rounds if we met up in person.

In other news...
Yep, they seem to like me. This one sat giving me the Hitchcock-look for a good ten minutes without moving an inch. He did let me get photos, and didn't crap on me...but I can't stand them. Danny keeps threatening to take up falconry.
This suit is an old one that I wear when I can't manage to pull on a pair of stockings, much less coordinate an outfit. If you don't have a go-to suit in your wardrobe, I encourage you to get one-some days you just can't be bothered, but need to look like you sort of tried anyway. 

Sometimes though, a bad day stretches into a bad decade  week. Maybe you'd better grab a second suit, just in case the dentist fucks-up your life face.
There is a matching skirt, but I'm still on a pleated skirt kick (not a kick-pleat, that's different). 

This suit is from Casual Corner, back in the old days when the stores had the funny stained glass windows. I'm sure some of you remember that. I haven't been in a mall in years-does anyone know if Casual Corner still exists? 
My idea of holiday decorating. I made him last year, and still haven't got round to cutting him off the foam board. I dunno, I should probably stay away from exacto knives right now, and other sharp objects. At least I *tried* to draw a proper turkey instead of just tracing my hand. 

I found some great vintage shoes and handbags recently. 

Oh hell yes. Florsheims. I didn't know they made women's shoes. They had a store where I grew up, and it was all very wood paneled and conservative in an era of psychedelia.  When we were kids, my sister would dare me to run up to the store, open the door and yell, "I'd look like a monkey in your clothes", before running off. I always took the dare, and we'd laugh the whole way home. I'm sure there are some investment bankers who were trying to buy shoes that still wonder what the hell that was all about. 
I am the lizard shoe, I cannot step in poo. 
 These look better in person, and they're gloriously soft leather.
 "Enna Jetticks" is the best name for a comfort shoe. They are in fact, comfortable. I never thought I'd need mushroom coloured shoes. Obviously, I do.
 Oooh, still has the glove clip too!This wasn't even hanging by the handbags, but was tossed in a rack of wallets at the Goodwill. A little brushing and the suede looked like new.

Original tags. How lucky is that? There's some patent info on this one-it dates from around 1966.
 Vintage Bass. I did indeed wear them with bobby socks. It got cold here, and I'm awfully protective of my toes. They weren't comfortable. I guess between my flat feet, and so many years of wearing heels I can't manage shoes like this anymore. Strange, eh?
 Yeah, I don't know what's with the Lana Turner pose either. The colour is all off, in the light-it is a deep mustard yellow. The skirt is navy. It worked much better out in natural light.

Yeah, I covered up the boobage. I'm even more protective of the knockers than I am of the toes. Have I mentioned how cold it got? We're headed to 6 degrees F tonight. I knew it would happen sooner or later-just wish it had been later.

Outfit Particulars:

Blue Suit-1960's by Regensteins. Ruby Begonia's, Lincoln, NE
Black poloneck-Gordman's
Sara Coventry brooch-Hand-Me-Ups
Black Shoes-K Mart
Black 60's handbag-some thriftstore in Fitchburg, Mass
1950's earrings-Some thrift store in Wisconsin
Glass bead-Hand-Me-Ups
1970's Bass shoes-Goodwill

Casual Corner 60's suit-Vintage shop in Brookline Mass, 90's
70's pleated skirt-Goodwill
Act III 1970's blouse-Goodwill
50's velvet hat-Hand-Me-Ups
Brown bakelite earrings-EtCetera Thrift Store, Seward, NE
Cucko clock brooch-I made it
Bakeliet bangles-Goodwill, and Hand-Me-Ups
60's Gaymode shoes-Thrift World
Fosil handbag-Thrift World

Yellow poloneck-Gordman's
1970's Designer Originals knit skirt-Goodwill
Pendelton 49er jacket-Goodwill
1970's stranded beads-Goodwill
Plastic rose earrings-K Mart

 Still can't move my face, but that just makes me look mysterious. Oh wouldn't you like to know?

Fowl? Yes, as a matter of fact, it has been. But don't worry, I'm sure next week will be just ducky. I'll get my hat now.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Then Why Call it a, "Bird-Feeder" if You Won't Feed Me Any Birds?

Look who I found sitting on a tree branch over the bird feeder, keeping watch. Once, when Danny was small I came up the access road to the farm and there was a large hawk sitting on a post eating what looked like the remains of a meadowlark (couldn't be sure as the head was gone and he was digging-in like it was a 2 minute egg). Try explaining that to a child. I tried to shoo this one off, but he seemed pleased with his location, and didn't want to leave until he'd had his dinner. Eventually, with much slamming of the door, he gave up and flew across the street-but I know he's out there looking for a songbird meal.

Speaking of looking like a raptor tried pecking your eye out...
So, there was a little complication with the root canal on Monday. No one is positive what happened, though they think the irrigating solution (read, "bleach") somehow got from the bleeding root to my eye, and then down through my jaw to my throat. Not surprisingly, he wasn't able to finish the procedure, so I still need to go back and have it finished. The tooth is still throbbing, but compared to my face and throat...
Yeah. That sucked. The Ear Nose and Throat specialist had to put a tube down my throat from my nose to look around, and that didn't hurt as they numb you first, but it was the weirdest sensation. I hope I never have to do that again. I still can't really open my jaw. I've had two courses of antibiotics, and a course of steroids, so most of the swelling around the eye has gone down, or my face has swelled up so much from the Prednisone that you can't tell. Either way, I was finally able to see well enough out of that eye again to get dressed and go out-five days after it happened. So I know what you're thinking, "What could you wear to boost your confidence when you look like an obese Cabbage Patch doll with a raging case of the mumps, and a shiner?" If you were thinking, "white pleats" then, "Ding, ding, ding!" you're a winner. You don't really win anything. I could send you one of these instant-cold ice paks if you really want one. I can't say enough nice things about instant cold ice paks after this week. All those years in theatre came in handy when it was time to apply makeup. I think I did a fairly impressive job of it, if I may pat my own back. I almost look human. Well. all right, from certain angles.

 White Pleated Skirt=Low Self-Esteem. Yeah, well fuck it, I'm going for comfort here.
The shiny, satin blouse didn't help either. Is this a face that looks like it cares? Exactly. I really couldn't smile if I had to-my face is sort of stuck into this position. Kind of like Botox, but without the age-erasing benefits. 
I think the glasses do a good job of disguising the eye. I had to vote on Tuesday, and as I kept running into people I knew at the polling place, I had to go through the whole story each time because I didn't want anyone thinking my husband had punched me or something. Our polling place is at the library, so of course I know everyone there-and managed to run into every single one of them in the ten minutes I was in the place. I could barely see the ballot (one eye, and unable to wear glasses at that point). I really hope I didn't inadvertently vote for someone I didn't want. I know that none of the people I wanted to win did (save for one congressman) but that's fairly typical of my experience living in very conservative Nebraska. 

Outfit Particulars:

1970's pleated skirt-Goodwill
1980's satin blouse-Goodwill
1950's (or 60's) Janice Brendt beaded cardigan-Hand-Me-Ups
Gold Handbag-Goodwill
Gold Shoes-Goodwill
Shell Earrings-Hand Me Ups
Porcelain bracelet-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance- Jovan, Woman (I should hate this cheap stuff, but in fact I adore it)

Yeah, that face isn't moving anytime soon.

Now to be serious. I am posting this along with the awful photo not for sympathy, but because it is so incredibly rare a complication I thought it might be helpful for the next person it happens to. I tried Googling and couldn't find much information out there, and every medical person that has been involved in the treatment has been unfamiliar with it as well. I don't want to scare anyone off dentistry-I have had root canal procedures done before without any complications whatsoever. I'm still in loads of pain, so I can't say how long this will persist, or what the eventual outcome will be (I may lose the tooth, have damage to my eye, jaw, etc.) but I can say that if you're dentistry phobic, and reading this please know that this is really not something you need to be concerned about experiencing. The chances are millions and millions to one. I know that's poor consolation if you're the "one", but there you go.
Give us a kiss? Yeah, I don't blame you.

Finally, I stopped to pick up a few groceries. They had cabbage for .69 cents a pound, which is outrageous, but less than the normal outrage, so I bought one. The cashier rang it up at .99 per pound. I told her it was on sale, so the bagger ran back to check, and said, it was .99

I try to pick my fights wisely, and I don't know if it was the pain, the steroid medication, or the fact that they want me to pay a buck a pound for a goddamned cabbage but I grabbed the manager, and we all marched over to the giant bin filled with cabbage that read, .69 cents. This store will give you the purchase free if the price is wrong, so rather than void the original ring-up, she gave me a credit for $3.70 which would have been fine, except that the cabbage rang up originally at $3.74. I think we all know where this is going. It isn't the .4 cents, it is the fact that I had just spent $184.00 on groceries and I didn't feel like dealing with anymore bullshit, four cents or not. I think I might have been channeling my Mum, Nan, and Mama Bess all at once in some sort of old-lady-cheapskate trifecta, but I had had it. Thankfully, the gentleman in line behind me was already quite lit as it is Friday afternoon, and when I apologised for taking so long he just took that as an opportunity to share what wisdom he had gleaned from reading the scandal sheets as we waited for someone more senior to be called to the register to resolve the cabbage dispute. At any rate, he was nice about it.

"But why do you call it a "Bird Feeder" if you don't want me eating the birds? Feed me some birds, damnit! It doesn't have to be anything fancy like a robin, a couple good sized sparrows would do."

I bought myself a dozen roses on the way home because I can't bite off anyone's head and eat their entrails like spaghetti. At least not until my jaw loosens up.

My weekend is going to be spent in bed with an icepak on my face, and a hot water bottle on my gut. I hope yours is much better.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Birthday, a Funeral, and a Root Canal

Let's do the Birthday first. Our Sourdough starter (one of three) "Chuffy" has turned four years old today. There were party hats, slices of tea brack, and much singing of Happy Birthday. If only children were as easy to care for as sourdough starter! Unfortunately, it is frowned on if you try to shove them in the back of the fridge and feed them only when you require them to do something.
The way the starter has stuck to the glass almost looks ghostly. Day of the Dead starter! So that was Chuffy's birthday. There's Hartford Election Cake in the oven as I type, to be handed out on Tuesday. It is essentially a raised fruitcake from the Colonial period. The Puritans frowned on lavish celebrations at Christmas and other holidays, so election day became the stand-in celebration. I'm sure it didn't start out with 1/2 cup of spirits in it, but as with many recipes that have a long history, people have added their own touches. It would have almost certainly been baked with sourdough starter as commercial yeast wasn't available.  I did a post with the recipe on it here:

Before I get to the funeral, who needs some fibre in their diet?
Super Saver had the largest tin of beans I've ever seen in my life. I almost feel inspired to start a taco stand-at at such cheap prices, I could really afford to be generous with the beans. You should always be generous with the beans. That's a face that just screams, "I got MY fibre today!" Imagine curling up with a good book, a gigantic tin of beans, and a spoon. That, my friends is what the American Dream is all about. God Bless America and her huge portion sizes. They don't give you tins of beans like this in Canada. Know what you get in Canada? You get these...
"Hello there friendly American tourist. Do you have any fibre for me?"
Remember, always hang your food far away from your campsite when sleeping in bear-infested woods. See, this is a helpful blog too.
Yesterday was bird-banding. This fellow managed to get all tangled up, and the more people tried to free him, the tighter he grasped the net in his claws. Ever hear a small bird scream? Horrible!This little fellow was screaming the entire he didn't stop for a breath. Telling a bird that you're trying to help doesn't calm them down, by the way. He finally got untangled, banded and was taken outside to be set free when...he dropped dead. In front of a group of small children. Ooops! That *almost* never happens. Except when it does. I told you he was so busy screaming he forgot to breathe.
Planning the funeral Entering the data.
I'm really glad I wasn't holding the bird. The kids were unimpressed, but the adults were caught a bit off guard by it. Kids are like, "Oh, a dead bird. Let's go catch some more!"
So that was Saturday.
Note Danny's eye-roll behind the brussels sprouts. I tried using it as a sceptre to knight him, "Sir Sprout Head of Omaha" and in addition to the eye-roll I got, "Oh, Mother." Yes, I'm a terrible, terrible woman. So terrible in fact that you should just ignore the six pounds of baking chocolate in my other hand that I bought knowing the holiday baking is just ahead. It was on such a deep sale, it was practically free. We can think of this as illustrating a healthy, balanced diet. On one hand, you have your vegetables, on the other, your chocolate. Really, they should just put me in charge of straightening out the country's poor eating habits. Just to be clear-you shouldn't use the sprouts and the chocolate together. You'd think that wouldn't require pointing out, but if you saw the sorts of Google searches that bring people to this blog, you'd be terrified they might go ahead and attempt cooking. Yesterday, I got a search hit for, "Dried squirrel brains." It was from Tennessee. Draw what conclusions you may. No squirrels were harmed in the writing of this post. Birds...well, that wasn't ME!

A Few Outfit Particulars:
Suede trousers-quite old, think I bought them at Dots in Revere, MA.
1960's Country Miss blazer (part of a suit) Salvation Army, Lincoln, NE
Fossil Handbag-Thrift World
Wedge Trainers (oh they are so comfortable, I wish I'd bought ten pair before they went out of fashion) K Mart a couple seasons ago
Vintage Connemara marble and enamel brooch-Can't remember ever NOT having it. Old!
Black polo neck-Gordman's
Vintage Echo silk scarf-Hand-Me-Ups

Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get more exciting, Danny came down with a terrible vertigo/nausea thing that had him grabbing the walls to walk. We took him to the Urgent Care down the street (How convenient is that?) and assured that it is viral, and will pass, he's been in bed trying not to move too quickly. I had a bit of this recently myself-and it is awful.Amazing what your sinuses and ears can do to you.  Tomorrow is the big root canal early in the morning. I have to admit, I'm looking forward to it because for that hour, no one can bother me or ask me to do anything. Like a mini holiday. They should offer spa treatments at the same time. A manicure with your root canal would be nice.

Hope you had a nice weekend. Go easy on the dried squirrel brains.