Fall food, part 2

The cake was a hit.  Mr. Patient made blackberry coulis, a variation on the recipe here.  Variation because Mr. Patient and I are very bad about our quantities.  We just kind of cook by eye, nose, and taste.  Looks, smells, and tastes right?  It’s right!  I made a spiced peach puree.  A super simple recipe that I’ll post below – and quite tasty….if you like peach.  I was informed by my brother that peach, along with cinnamon is a “dirty flavor”.  It’s not bad, but it’s not fresh, was his reasoning.  Well then apparently I like “dirty” flavors, because I really liked this peach puree and the bright sweetness was a nice counterpoint to the tart and complex blackberry sauce.

Spiced peach puree:

Again, quantities are rough estimates (except for the peaches, on account of packaging).

4 cups of diced peaches, strained.  You can probably use frozen or fresh too but I find the cups of diced peaches are better in terms of softness (or absence) of peel.

1 – 2 Tbsp of cinnamon

2 dashes of ground ginger

1/4 cup of white sugar

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend thoroughly and chill.

In the photo immediately below, the peach puree is to the left of the cake slice.  The right of the cake has the lemon icing, and then laid on that and to the right is the blackberry.  I probably would just do one if I were doing it again, but I had to try it all since this was a new set of foods for me.  The blackberry is too dark to really discern but the color was a deep red, so that plus the cake and peaches made for a really nice set of Fall colors.  Below the cake picture is a shot of the pumpkin pudding, the pumpkin pudding recipe is here.  I made another batch yesterday AM before going out with my brother on our birthday shopping trip.  Consider it “queer eye for Dyspatient”, it was my birthday present from him, a shopping trip to a store that there’s no way in hell I would have gotten myself to because after parking and walking and shopping, I would not have had the energy to get home.  Success, I scored a couple of nice additions to the wardrobe, including two very nice, lightweight cardigans that will convert my yearlong summer wardrobe into something more seasonally appropriate.  With heat intolerance comes a whole slew of clothing constraints, a major one being sleeveless or short sleeved tops are now a necessity.  I’m pretty tired though.  Woke up today with a bit of hurting.  My “little” brother is 6’4″ so even walking slow, it’s hard for him to walk at my snail’s pace (I’m 5’4″), and the faster I walk, the harder I come down on the hips and legs.

angel food cake with peach puree and blackberry sauce

Fruity!

Whisky pumpkin into pudding base in a stovetop saucepan.
And pumpkin pudding!

Fall food, GP style

It’s Fall.  It’s my favorite season, in large part because of the food.  Summer has always been a chore for me, sapping me of my energy, appetite, and interest in doing much other than lying in a cool, dark room.  Fall means the return of cooler weather, the ability to fire up the stove, bust out my favorite yummy foods – oh and my birthday is this time of year, which means birthday cake (i.e. “cakey tribute”) and other treats.  I was dreading it this year because since my gut decided to go on strike, there is so very little I can eat.  I have, however, discovered a few things that I can now eat that used to be bad when my gut was functional equivalent of the autobahn.  And so I am slowly adding modified versions of a few favorites into my diet, and researching birthday cakes that I can eat.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Birthday cake (and frosting):  A no-no due to the fat.  Fat and fiber have been off my food list since March, well honestly, since May when my foolish belief that I could medicate and still occasionally eat normal food was shattered by a trip to the ER for what felt like a mild obstruction.  See, it’s not just the upper gut that’s slowed down to a standstill.  It’s the lower too.  And when I eat stuff  that my stomach can’t break down, I don’t know if it makes its way into the intestine too “in tact” or what but whoa mama is it awful.  Painful.  Slow.  And painful.  Did I say painful?  Yeah.  It’s power-puke everywhere, pass out level painful.  Some minor experimentation with lactaid icecream revealed that even if it’s low residue, if there’s a high fat content, I will have the upper GI symptoms of gastroparesis – i.e. the days long nausea, regurgitation, feeling like I ate a bowling ball stuffed with garbage, and killer heart burn.  But cake has fat.  And frosting is basically all sugar embedded in a pile of fat.  What the hell am I going to eat?  Then I remembered from when I was living with the diabetic and his undiagnosed (but evident) gallbladder disease for three months that angel food cake (or as some call it “angel cake”) has little to no fat.  Looked it up to make sure and yep, it’s a winner.  What about frosting?  Boiled frosting is an option, but Mr. Patient nixed it, so it’s up to him to make a lemon icing/glaze today for my angel-food birthday cake.

My other two favorite Fall foods, which I had learned to avoid due to the fact that they acted like an accelerant on my already (back then) too speedy gut was pumpkin and cider.  It occurred to me that if cider was a no-no last year due to it making things “move along” a little too swiftly, perhaps now that things were doing the opposite of moving, cider might actually be good.  I’ve had it several times this week and discovered that (a) I missed the hell out of warm spiced apple cider and (b) apple cider plus slow gut = just fine.  As long as I don’t drink too much too late, still got the killer reflux/heartburn now and then and fruit juices always seem to kick it up a bit.  Pumpkin.  I was a little worried about pumpkin because I know it has fiber and I’m avoiding fiber.  But….it seems that this is the “right” fiber.  I think it’s the same as the medication-fiber shit you buy in a package, but I don’t have the same response to that.  That makes me bloated, in pain, and still “stuck”.  Pumpkin?  Let’s just say that it works better than miralax or milk of mag and it tastes a HELL of a lot better.  How am I eating my pumpkin, since I clearly can’t have a pie?  Pumpkin pudding!  It’s like pumpkin pie but only the good stuff.  I had to make my own pudding recipe with some modifications, since I can’t eat lactose laden milk products or high fat, so that cuts out any recipe that calls for heavy cream and the like.  But I found a few that used corn starch as a thickener for lighter milk (2% lactaid in my case) and damn, I made some good pumpkin pudding!

Here’s the recipe I made, but I will be modifying it a little to get a better mix of egg/milk/cornstarch.

6 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 3/4 cups of low fat lactaid milk

1 large egg

1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin (I used a half can)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used a bit more than that)

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

a dash of ground clove

a dash of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine pumpkin, spices, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, beat egg (well!) with milk.  Gradually add the milk and egg mixture to the sugar/cornstarch mixture in pan.  Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and remove from heat.  Add pumpkin mixture to the pan, whisking constantly.  Return to a low heat and cook for three minutes stirring constantly – do not boil.  Divide pumpkin mixture into cups, mine half filled four small pudding cups, cover and chill.  

This was super yummy.  After a cup of warm spiced cider and potato thyme soup = I almost feel like I’m eating normally, and it’s very seasonally appropriate.

New Year

The new year brings some new family – the twins are doing good.  The little one is off CPAP and breathing ok on his own.  I am so happy for my brother and sister in law.  I’m looking forward to when my nephews are old enough to be interesting…yeah, I’m not a fan of babies.  I like kids, but slightly older kids.  I know there are plenty of family who adore babies and I’m happy to let them ooh and ahh over the boys.  I can pick up auntie duties in a little bit, which is good I think.  It balances out all the people who are going to grow less interested in them as they stop being babies.  Bring on the cognitive milestones!

The new year also brings some reflection on what I was doing at this time last year.  I was submitting my paperwork for accommodations, going back to work with a chemically toxic workplace (facilities decided to paint the interior of our poorly ventilated building with oil based, high VOC paints and stains).  My then boss had asked me to put off “until after the holidays” intervening with an employee who had displayed some remarkably unprofessional behavior during final exams and then failed to show up for several weeks post break.  He also put up “The Wall”, which was a 1.5 sided partition to give me some privacy at work….his proposed solution to the problem of people interrupting me for even stupid shit.  The partition created a stir among my coworkers….a big one.  A big mess.  People’s response to it, and my then boss’s response to them factored heavily into my decision to leave that position.

I was trying to think about why I was feeling particularly pissy yesterday and I believe it’s memories of what I was doing this time last year.  I remember many years ago discussing a break up with my therapist.  We decided that these cyclic events (holidays, other calendar based transitions) can renew the break up emotions – I guess I have to go through it on my own to “overwrite” the association, I offered.  She countered with “possibly more than once”.  Yeah, possibly.  But I think that its the first one that is the hardest.  And so this January I am thinking of last January.  I need to let it go.

Last night, I decided to draw out the “memorable moments of 2012”.  It was definitely cathartic.  I am not an artist, I do not have any mastery of perspective.  I fail to appropriately anticipate space requirements, proportions are all off, etc.  However, I usually find that my drawings amuse me.

I don’t make grand resolutions anymore.  I got too superstitious about them after a series of “self improvement” resolutions I made coincided with tough years…e.g. I resolved in 2002 to be “better about accepting help from people”.  That year, I had pelvic surgery for Endo and caught treatment refractory Lyme which left me with post-Lyme syndrome, the effects of which I am still feeling over 10 years later.  Yeah, I sure had to ask for help a lot that year.  So my resolutions are now not longer so broad…I go for things like “This year, I resolve to try to drink more water.” or “This year, I will try to find a good fitting pair of jeans.”

Good bye 2012.  You weren’t the worst year….well, you were pretty bad but I managed to use the bad as impetus for change, and fortunately things lined up well enough to let me do it.  I got a diagnosis that unifies some of my longest standing health issues.  I’m in PT, at least giving it a shot.  I’m working in a better job now, and I don’t dread going to work.  I reconnected with some old friends and some family (I’m actually about to get ready to go out to lunch with my aunt, I think this is the first time I’ve seen her in about a year!).  I survived and while I didn’t thrive, I didn’t let the knocks keep me down.  So that’s something.

BYOF

Going to a party at my boss’s house tonight.  Dinner will be fondue.  Now, me and cheese are not pals.  Not since I was a kid and diagnosed with lactose intolerance.  Young cheeses especially are problematic for me, and my understanding is that fondue cheese is just this side of mozzarella for youth.  So what to do?  Bring my own food, I decided.  I approached my boss Thursday at work, a quick wrap up on a few things before the holiday break.  Oh and one more thing, I told her.  My gut’s been particularly bad this week and I think that it won’t thank me for loading it up with cheese.  “Oh no,” she said “do you want me to make something else?”  “No, I don’t want to add to your duties as host….but I was wondering if it’s ok if I bring something that I know I can eat and that can be shared.”  Sure.  And it is ok if it has meat (she and her husband are vegetarians) which is good because once you take out dairy and beans (lots of nickel in most if not all of them), I’m sort of screwed for food options.  Cooking up some chicken penne with red and green peppers for a holiday touch.  I feel a little odd bringing food, especially food with meat, but I think this is about the only way I could handle the event without getting sick or being strangely unappetiteful.  Also on deck is a large container of cider and a side of pre-mixed spices for it.  I don’t drink booze, and we were assured there would be booze.  So this is my fancy substitute drink of choice.  Me and the kiddies will be sipping our cider.  The others are welcome to add liquor if they want.

You really have to be ready to just take the bull by the horns on the food issues when you have food related or food exacerbated health issues.  No more passing out in public, thanks.  And I’ve spent more than one high stakes dinner at someone’s house being violently ill in the bathroom (department head’s post-colloquium dinner party in grad school and dinner at the rather conservative jewish parents of a boy I was dating in college….I, btw, am NOT Jewish, something that wasn’t lost on ex-boyfriend’s mom).  If it happens, it happens.  But there are some things I can do to make that less likely.  This is the first time I’ve tried to exert this level of control in this sort of setting.  Wish me luck!

Old friends

This is perhaps the busiest christmas season I’ve had in a long time.  Party at my brother’s work (BATH research group), party at work, party last night, and party tonight at my boss’s house.  The first one didn’t go so well.  It was smack in the middle of the week and after a long day of work.  I’d already been sick on the weekend with a god awful round of stomach cramps.  And I forgot to premedicate prior to the party, so I had to leave the party early and get sick at home.  😦

I took it easier on Thursday, and I took Friday off/worked from home – which was great since Friday night was the getting together with old friends night.  I didn’t feel good all day, and gave my husband the head’s up that it would probably be a “hi/bye” kind of event.  I managed to last about 2 hours before I was swaying and dealing less than gracefully with the whole autonomic screwery.  Some highlights from last night included the bar tender telling me that my drink order (ginger ale) was “boring”.  Well fuck you too missy.  Enjoy that nickel tip.  Explaining to my friends (thankfully, a small group at that point) that I don’t drink because alcohol and me don’t agree.  They were gracious about it, only one follow up question and it seemed to be asked out of genuine concern and not some kind of puerile interrogation type of inquiry.

Then there were references to my not driving when we all knew each other in my late teens and early twenties.  “I wasn’t allowed to get a driver’s license until I could go 6 months without passing out – I passed out a lot” I explained.  “What?  You did?  When?”  a group asked.  “Jesus, all the time.  The time at lunch in 11th grade, the time I passed out on the field trip to Paul Revere’s house, the time I passed out on the plane trip to Italy….”  “What was wrong?”  I explained that I was hypoglycemic and didn’t know it.  I think I did a decent job of not over explaining or offering too much gory, eye-roll inducing detail but still managing to convey the important bits of info (i.e. “why I always mooched rides off everyone”).

And then there was the talk about taking public transit and walking around in the city, and how people get in your way and crowd you, even when you walk with a cane.  “You have a cane?” one person asked with some evident shock.  “yeah, I only use it sometimes” “why?”  “I have a connective tissue thing, it’s painful.  I’ve always been very flexible, but before I could bend and pop things out of joint and it didn’t hurt.  Now, it does.”  Head nods all around.  I’m one of the younger in this set of people, and I’m 41.  Everyone is becoming familiar with the rotten tricks their bodies can play on them.

I think it helps that one of the old friends who has kids has a kid who was born with a heart defect.  The kid is doing great, and is now verging on adolescence.  This friend is not a stranger to hospitals, his son has had multiple surgeries and still needs to go in routinely for moderately invasive check ups.  People with that kind of experience do not tend to look at you like a freak for having medical problems.  It’s a very welcome change from how my disclosures are sometimes greeted.  I think it helps that they knew me when I was young and spry and they knew that although I never was known for my amazing feats of strength, I was definitely not a shrinking violet who needed to be treated with kid gloves.  Miles long walks through the city, running and jumping around on the beach wall and climbing lifeguard chairs at night, dancing in mosh pits and spending the night hanging out on the Boston Common because we missed the last train out.  Actually now that I think of it, one of them was with me when I fell once.  We’d been out at a dance, his car had been towed, we ended up in a bad part of town getting it out, and at one point I had to haul ass across a busy street in my way too high heels. I wiped out and came down on my knee, hard, but other than some serious swearing, I got up and soldiered on.  I think the fall and post fall experience made it clear that I’m not a wimp.  He tried to help me scrub the glass and gravel out of it later at his apartment but he was being too delicate.  “Give me that” I said and took the washcoth, then proceeded to scrub with a vigor that made him turn a rather green shade of pale.  Contrast that to the people who only know me now, as a “sick person”.  The judgment I get from them is pretty severe.  Not all of them, but for example, at my last job I was treated to frequent conversations about how to will one’s way out of being sick, or to the 100 stupid questions about what was wrong with me.

So overall, despite it being a short event, it was nice to see folks.  A few of them live quite near me it turns out, and we’re planning to get together again a dive bar in my old neighborhood (they live in the part of town where I grew up).  There’s a comfort to staying close to home, to familiar places.  If I get in trouble, health-wise, I know where to go, I know the taxi phone numbers, I know what hospitals are good and what aren’t.  I know how to drive home even feeling bad, without getting turned around or lost.  On my way out last night, one of them said “Ok, we’ll definitely do a bar night!” and I said “Absolutely, but earlier…I can hang out longer if it doesn’t start at 8:00 PM”  “Not a problem!” he said – and boy doesn’t that make a difference.

days not to go to the hospital…

unless you really, really need to.  Include (not exhaustively):

  • Any time in late June to late July (for teaching hospitals since this time period covers the influx of new doctors, new med students, etc.  The time period also covers Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July, with the latter being the worse of the two since it involves booze + things that go BANG)
  • New Year’s eve (dark, icy, and alcoholic)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (Happy Drinking Day!)

And it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

And I am having persistent left upper quadrant pain which is penetrating to my back and referring to my shoulder.

And my BP is 84/48 and just does not want to come up.

So this sucks.  I’d be more at ease if my back didn’t hurt and if I didn’t have a family history of aortic aneurysm.  A note on that:  despite all the health shittery I experience and look up, I am not the kind of person who believes that every ache, pain, itch, bump, or other oddity my body throws at me is a sign of a deadly or disfiguring condition.  I don’t start with the assumption and even “Dr. Google” doesn’t drive me there.  I know other people go there – I recently heard from a good friend who recounted her own freak out reaction after she googled a rash.  Looking up her symptoms convinced her she had a flesh eating bacterial infection rather than poison ivy (as it turned out to be).  I am sympathetic to this, but it is not something I can personally relate to.  I just don’t go there.  Ok so that’s the long version of me saying that I am not overwhelmed with anxiety and panic about the pain in my gut and back, however it is quite uncomfortable and given my family history, it is concerning to me.  I’d like to ignore it, toss back some tylenol and Tums, and get on with my weekend and I probably will do that even if the Tums and tylenol don’t help because (a) I hate going to the ER (b) I want this to be something minor and (c) it’s St. Patrick’s day weekend.  And you don’t go to the ER on St. Patrick’s day weekend if you can help it.

I went to the ER on St. Patrick’s day weekend once, several years back.  My sister had found her cat being attacked by a neighborhood cat and ran out to break it up.  In doing so, she was bitten by the neighbor’s cat.  A deep bite.  She went to the ER and they said “oh, its’ a cat scratch”, didn’t irrigate, didn’t examine the area, and sent her home with P.O. antibiotics.  Over the course of the day, her hand swelled significantly, was hot and red and tight, and she started to develop streaking.  So back to the ER I dragged her, on St. Patrick’s day night, of course.  She was admitted and given IV antibiotics.  But not after a LOVELY evening listening to the sounds of binge drinking and stupidity.  On the plus side, the triage nurse was a woman I’d worked with some years before that, Mary Hyphenated Irish last name, I call her in this story Mary O’Irish-McNurse.  Mary recognized our names on the sign in sheet and came out to the waiting area yelling  “Oh my god, it’s the ____________ girls!”  She took us in quickly, got my sister a bed in back, and then swapped with another nurse so she could stay in back with us.  I will never forget listening to the excellently wise cracking Mary O’Irish McNurse dealing with the drunk 16 year old in the bed next to my sister’s:

(sound of girl puking)

O’Irish McNurse:  “Say there, that looks like a Long Island Iced Tea…whad’you have to drink tonight?”

Girl (retching): “Ciiiiiiiiider!” (more puking)

My St. Patrick’s day miracle, Mary, is no longer at this hospital, and I am not overtly super sick, just having pain that knocked me down late yesterday afternoon from having an ok day to a crap one.  It’s bad enough that it woke me up several times last night.  I do not want to go to the ER with the puking 16 year olds and no Mary to get me in and CT scanned.  Wondering if this can hold off until Monday AM when I can call my doctor…

…who will likely say “go to the ER”.

Merry christmas to me

I have this week off.  Last week, I had a “work at home” week since the facilities folks decided to paint the interior of our building without any notice to the four staff member still working there last week.  Day one was headaches, sore throats, and stinging eyes from the fumes.  Boss came back from a meeting to a building full of fumes and all the staff but me gone and said “Please, feel free to work at home until this is done” and so I did.  Very nice.  This week, I am home and sans responsibilities, work-wise at least.  At some point, I will clean for company who are coming tomorrow afternoon.  But since most of them won’t be staying here and since I just did a “big clean” on Saturday, I’m not going to stress over this too much.

So today I have booked a manicure and a massage.  Ahhhh…..just what I need.  If I can stand braving the after christmas mall, I may also stop in for a threading session.

Man, it’s nice to have time off.  I can finally get to some of the personal maintenance things I usually have to back burner (repeatedly) during the work week.

oh brother

First off, let me say that I hope the holiday season finds you better than not.  It’s a stressful time of year – lots to do whether you’re traveling or hosting:  navigating practical details and the expectations (and biases) of family and friends, both tending to be difficult for people whose resources are already pretty much taken up by the smaller spheres of our lives with chronic illness.

My holiday celebrations have grown quite minimal, and I am realizing that the more circumscribed they get, the less I hate christmas – so that’s a pro.  We had a tree, we have an anniversary – our current kitty came in from a snow storm on christmas day of last year (spent the night in our basement and we didn’t have a tree last year so this was her first “real” christmas with me and my husband).  She got a stuffed animal/bird that chirps.  A lovely red robin.  So far all she’s done with it is rub her face on its beak.  photo of a small christmas tree with a cat walking in front of it.

I made cookies.  That was my one nod to the ghost of manic christmas past.  I called them “christmas bribes”, most of them going to my primary care doctor since the guy and his nurses have been pretty damned good this year.  The admin staff, well, I am not super happy with them but it seemed like too much to write “merry christmas to everyone but that bitch who gave me such a hard time about my workplace accommodation forms at thanksgiving…”  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Christmas day we had my brother over.  For dinner.  “I’ll be there at two” turned into “I’m running an hour late,” and then into a text message at 3:30 saying he was running a bit more late and would be here at 4:00.  I’ll spare you the suspense of the entire phone and text saga and just jump to the punchline:  he was here at 6:30.    When he got here, I could tell he was spinning a yarn about what held him up.  I have no idea what the real story is and wasn’t in the mood to ask.  I’d spent the two previous days fighting a stubborn migraine and just wanted to eat before it was so late that I’d be up all night with heartburn.  Plus, my sister and I are still not talking and I try to keep it to one catastrophic familial estrangement per calendar year.  So I let it go.  Merry Christmas little brother – my silence was a big part of your present this year.   He stayed late today but spent the last two hours of his visit half-way out the door, packed up and ready to go when he finished ranting about work.  It truly is a stressful job.  He works with surgeons at the granddaddy of all B.A.T.H.s.  Ranting done, he used the bathroom one last time…and clogged the toilet and flooded the bathroom.  “Where’s your f***king plunger!?” he said as he burst out of the bathroom doing up his pants.  He proceeded to berate (in a “don’t take this seriously, I’m just kidding, sort of” way) me and my husband for our too-soft/too-thick toilet paper, clearly the reason why the toilet clogged.  And this, dear readers, is why I feel TWO bathrooms are a necessity for more than two adults in a home.

This week, I am off.  We are having a chunk of my husband’s sibling set up to visit.  His half sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.  In the negotiations of this visit, we said we could go down there to visit or offered to have them up.  Brother said it was fine either way, and then said if we came down we could go do this and that and that and the other thing with all these friends from college that are always dropping by at his place.  Ugh.  And one bathroom.  No thanks, so we decided that we’d rather have them up here if it was all the same to everyone.  Which they’d said it was.  And then it wasn’t.  I.e., after agreeing to come up, brother in law tells my husband that he and his wife might rent a hotel room since our cigarette smoke bothers them sometimes.  Between my husband and me, we smoke about one pack a day, less when company’s over.

Ok.  No mention that the last time brother in law was up he stunk up my place with cigars.  Nope.

Husband says ok, his brother asks him about close-by hotels (they’ve stayed at one before when we were living in our tiny first apartment in this area).  Husband tells him the closest is the one they stayed at before.  And that’s the end of it, until two days later when my husband is talking to his brother and his brother tells him that they found a cute looking place up in XXX, which according to Google maps is only 26 minutes away.  Now, XXX is on the other side of the major city of which our city is a suburb.  We are to the south, XXX is to the northwest.  It is congested.  It is NOT 26 minutes away, not by a long shot.  It’s 40 minutes in good traffic.  Keep in mind, this is a quick one night visit, so brother in law and wife staying so far away is going to eat into a significant portion of visit time.  My husband was pissed.  See, there’s a history of his brother doing what we call “add on” visits.  As in “Sure, we can get together.  (Wife) and I have plans to see 5 different sets of friends from college who happen to live in the same state as you and I have a work meeting up there next week so we can squeeze you in!”  Yeah.  You can’t win with these guys.  Either you go stay with them and you’re living in what is sort of like a nicer, more grown up frat house or you have them up and you’re the intermission in a much more exciting and high priority set of social engagements.

Tis the season to be…irritated.

My husband suspects his brother and sister in law chose their hotel based on some other plans they tacked on to the visit.    If they did, I’m sort of done with them.  Not like I won’t speak to them again but like I’m not going to feel bad about asserting my priorities and not going to knock myself out to find ways to compromise for their priorities.  If their social commitments are ranked so high in group plan making, then why would I ever feel bad about ranking my health and physical conveniences as important factors for me?

christmas day – a visitor

My sister was over christmas eve.  As usual, she asked about the little “caramel colored kitty” who lives outside my neighbor’s house.  “I haven’t seen her since about a week before Max died” I told her.  I’d made a few trips up the driveway behind my neighbor’s house to see if the kitty was around and asked about her to the woman who lived in that building.  I saw no sign of the cat, but the neighbor assured me that she and several other cats were living back there under the porch.  “Oh it’s so sad!” the neighbor lamented.  This neighbor had previously tried to convince me to take in the kitty but back then, Max was still very much alive, and Max didn’t like other cats one bit.  I told her this.

So on christmas day, after not seeing the caramel colored kitty (she’s a black and brown tiger with a lovely warm, light brown coloring on her belly and legs), we found her.  She greeted me with her usual running, long meow “maa-aaaa-aaa-aaa!” as she trotted along, tail up and green eyes shining.

By Christmas evening, she was set up on our glassed in front porch.  By late Christmas night, she was in the much warmer basement with a makeshift litter box (which, to my delight she more or less knows how to use), a can of cat food, and a little bowl of water.  Also, a box with bedding in it which she chose not to sleep in, opting instead for the orange cloth suitcase perched atop a waist high stack of folded moving boxes.  That’s where I found her sleeping this morning.

small brown and black tabby cat on a chair.

Anya, getting comfy in her new home.

And so today, my husband and I plan to brave the swirling, developing blizzard to go get some flea and tick drops so we can let her in to our home for more than a few minute, highly monitored visit.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks, having caught lyme disease in 2002 from sitting outside patting a quasi-stray cat at my old apartment in the New England Outback.

The cat has a tentative name:  Anya, after a character in the Buffy TV series.  It seems to fit.  I’m going to try to get her in to a vet this week, I’m off work for the week and I think I should be able to manage this.  We’re hoping she’s healthy – she seems to be but until we get her checked out, I won’t feel comfortable fully letting down my guard and bonding with her.  She is quite cute.  I hope this works out!

freudian gift buying

I stopped on the way home to pick up confections for co-workers.  Not the faculty, they can buy their own damned candy.  But the long suffering staff, they deserve candy.  Nice candy.  And even the one I’m not overly fond of, I would be lost without her good graces and so I do what I can to keep her happy.  Yes, ’tis the season of office bribery.

Anyhow, I got the candies, very nice gourmet candy, for each of them.  Applying the rules I learned as the middle child, they got the same mix so there would be no fighting (no seriously, the one for whom this could be seen as a bribe can sometimes be rather jealous and petty, we’ll call her PCW, “petty coworker”).

Got all the way home, was telling my husband that I stopped, and I realized one of the hand picked candies is a flavor that PCW is utterly averse to.  It makes her sick.  And I know this.  I know it very well.  So well that I occasionally use that scent to keep her away from me, only when she’s been truly awful.  I swear to god though, this was not consciously on my mind when I picked out the candy.  I am at both amused and mildly horrified at my gaffe.  Thank god I caught it tonight!