A year ago yesterday, Laura was diagnosed with cancer. My father-in-law called me with the news and I almost puked. “No way. Not in this family. Not to Laura.” were the thoughts that went screaming through my skull. And then the kids and I were on a plane, and then we moved back home, and then I got to pester Laura all the time, as if I could just stare at her enough, I could stare the cancer away. (sorry for the staring, Laura…I thought perhaps my laser beams were more powerful than chemo…) My in-laws were great; they allowed us to live with them (even Maggie, who ate everything in the back yard and jumped the privacy fence every day), sent my kids to a great school, and my father-in-law and I got to watch lots of old movies together. I got to know how cool my mother-in-law really is.
The kids and I moved home to help Laura and John, but it turns out that we got the better end of that situation: we got to be around family while my husband was away. I got to stare at Laura, have sushi with her, meet her friends, spend time with people that I love but rarely get to see. Laura gave me the gift of feeling pro-active; all I did was latch onto her like a love-sick crush, but she just smiled and hugged me. …and listened to Vampire Weekend with me. 🙂
(“…he was a diplomat’s son…it was ’81…”)
I’m proud of my family. John has more strength and patience than I ever thought humanly possible; my in-laws keep Ryan at the drop of a hat. The brother-and sister- in-law are amazingly supportive. The benefit of a large family is the pool of talents and resources we can offer: we have an accountant, a PA, a logistician, a teacher, a grant-writer, a web designer, a truck driver, and a full time mom. In this family, there’s probably somebody who can do whatever it is that’s needed. …and we genuinely like each other. How cool is that? 🙂 I joke with my husband all the time that his parents like me better, but really, its way better: they like me just the same as they like their own kids. They treat me, Kevin, and Laura just like they treat their blood kin. That, to me, speaks volumes about the amount of love in their home.
For a year now, Laura has endured medical procedures that make my skin crawl. She’s lost her hair, regrown her hair, had tubes stick in her skin and taped there, been sick, been better, put up with nurses who say things like, “You should be dead, your numbers are so bad.” (asshole.) She’s now in remission, knee deep in Maintenance. People think remission means “done with cancer” but that’s not it. She still has to have chemo, still has to have holes punched in her spine, still has to have bone marrow twisted out of her body. Laura still has to be tough, still has to be…Laura. (by the way, don’t play Beatles Rock Band with her. She’s awesome and will make you wish the British Invasion never happened.)
In 20 more months, she’ll be done with cancer. In 20 more months, cancer will be “that horrible thing that happened a while back”. In 20 more months, cancer will be gone from Laura for good. …and we’ll have Laura.
Suck it, cancer! Laura wins!
(…and then I’ll just stare at her because she’s so pretty…)
I crave red meat all the time. When my husband suggests going out for dinner, my first response is always “steak!” followed by “brownies!” and then “Starbucks!”.
Yeah, I’m healthy, I know.
Anyway, I’m fortunate enough to have access to this thing called a Wellness Center, wherein lies mysterious contraptions like a “Bod-Pod” and a “VO2 Sat Calculator” and a “dietician”. Have you ever seen a Bod-Pod? It’s like a giant suppository that you climb inside, like Mork from “Mork and Mindy”. (nah-noo, nah-noo. where’s my rainbow belt buckle?) Thus far, I’ve been too chicken to climb inside and hang out for an hour or however long it would take for the thing to tell me I’m not normal. I have clausterphobia.
(did you know that? did you know that I have to sleep closest to the door, that I can’t stand to be blocked into a corner, even by my kids? that I’ve punched my husband for unknowingly closing the bathroom door on me? that I have to fight the urge to swing at anyone who gets too close to me at the grocery store? that just reaching into the dryer to get a load of laundry requires that I physically steel myself? yeah. I don’t do well in confined spaces. My husband, God love him, has adapted to my weirdness. He announces when he’s approaching my back, when he’s going to reach over my head for a glass, or when he’s going to move past me for the milk. He gave me the “exit sink” in the bathroom. I must be so fun to live with…)
So back to the Wellness Center…I met with a nurse who measured my VO2Sat. If Lance Armstrong is part dolphin, I’m part brick. “That’s okay, that just means there’s lots of room for improvement! It’s exciting!” Chipper Blond Nurse is so chipper. Also, she suggested I’m anemic. Here are a list of foods I’m supposed to be noshing on to assist with the whole “iron transports oxygen which works your body” stuff:
dark leafy greens, beans & lintels, egg yolks, calves’ liver (not bloody likely, mate!), dried fruits, mollusks (ick!) and red meat.
Turns out that, yes, I get to be a Cullen and eat all the lean, red meat my belly will hold. As long as all it will hold is the size of a deck of cards. pppffffffttt!
The following items will not increase my iron intake and will not make Chipper Blond Nurse proud of me:
Snickers bars, pina coladas, Twinkies, SlimJims, jelly, ice cream, anything from Starbucks, brownies, those cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster, Doritos, Dr. Pepper, Hawaiian Punch, wine
The reason I went to the Wellness Center in the first place is that since my husband has been home from his extended stay Over There, I’ve turned into the StayPufft Marshmallow woman. “Happy Pounds”. …uh-huh. Also, in September, Toy and I are going to run/walk the Women’s Running Half-Marathon in Nashville. Apparently, if I weigh less and have more muscle tone, those 13.1 miles will be easier. I like easier. Except now every time I work out, I have to do math. I have to calculate my heart rate, my recovery, how many reps I’ve done and still need to do, how much my BMI has changed in the past 6 weeks, what time of the month it is, and how accurate Glenn Beck is about The State of Things…
I hate math. Pray for me. Pray for me and my new Mathness and my Iron-ness.
…and above all, pray that some genius figures out how to cram more iron into a venti, iced, non-fat, caramel macchiato with three extra shots of espresso, mmmkay?
“I love the Earth. It’s where I keep all my stuff.”- SpaceGhost
“I just want to work.”-my Uncle Danny
While at Barnes & Noble yesterday, I bought a new notebook. I went with the intention of buying a Moleskein book. I just love those little black books with the heavy feel, the elastic straps, and the book markers. There’s even a pocket in the back. What I found first, however, was an EcoSystem book. It was cheaper, made from 100% recycled stuff, and made in America.
That other book I was about to buy? …”made in China”… The company is in Italy, so you know… kinda cool…but I’d rather employ an American, thanks.
So I went to the EcoSystem website to register my book. Turns out, in the back of all their books, they print an ID number. You can go online, register your book, and see all kinds of stuff about your book: where it was made, what’s in it, and even how many people are employed in the making of your book. My book employed up to 65 people in states from WI to DE. I think that’s cool. The jobs aren’t “high tech”; they are things like packaging, shipping, binding and sewing, and printing. Still…they’re American jobs, American recycled materials. My little book is trying hard to be a superhero. 🙂
This got me wondering about what other things I use that are made in America. Happily, I discovered my jars are American made and always have been. I found Skilcraft pens and pencils (probably courtesy of Uncle Sam), and a whole box full of baseballs and gloves that were made in Missouri. 🙂
Here’s a list of some other things that are made in America. Go on…I dare you to see how many American moms and dads you can employ the next time you go shopping. 🙂
…anyway, you get the idea. There’s tons more stuff out there than I thought there was. I hear people say, “Nothing’s made here any more.” I’ve even said it. But it turns out, all I need to do is look around like I’ve got eyes. There are people up the road who refurbish washers and dryers (so that mine don’t have to be recycled or trashed), sell their own food (pesticide free), make candles and pottery, roast their own coffee beans, grow their own grapes and then make wine with American made bottles. I can buy butter from American dairies, olive oils made from California olives (Italian doesn’t always mean best), and even the dog food I buy comes from Montana. …sadly, my shoes still come from China…
The cool things about American companies are fairly endless. They recycle more, conserve more, and pay more taxes that keep our nation going. I find myself continually thinking about what can be recycled, what can be purchased locally, what companies do the most good…like Skilcraft. They employ the blind.
I guess the point is, if we look close enough, we can find what we’re looking for. If you know of an American company who’s products you use, please post it in the comments. I’d love to learn more.
Plus, between me and you, I’d really love to hear a conversation like this on the news:
Foreign Dignitary: We are concerned with the decline in imports to your nation. We have many products which your people are no longer purchasing. This could lead to the decline of goodwill on our part.
POTUS: Yes, well, you see…our people finally realized that your stuff breaks all the damn time, is poisonous, and you support terrorism all the while you stand here smiling and demanding our jobs. Jog on.
This Meyer lemon stuff has been sitting in my fridge since the 15th. Last night, I pulled it out to finish up, so I’ve really only been working on it two days, but in all fairness, the lemons and sugar have been working their magic for a week. This is what I did last night while watching Faulty Towers with The Husband.
…Basil Faulty makes even boiling water funny…
My friend Minda, also known as The Kitchen Fairy and the Queen of Quilting (in my head, anyway) was kind enough to offer some advice. Since Minda is smart and an all around domesticated intellect (as well as a wicked awesome gamer), I have included her pearls of wisdom for you, too.
Meyer Lemon & Mint Marmalade (MLMM…)
(adapted from Elise’s recipe on simplyrecipes.com, published 2-24-08)
The ingredients are as follows:
the zest from 2.5 dozen Meyer lemons and their juice;
6c + 2c sugar; 6c water; 1/2c roughly torn mint leaves; 1 pkg liquid pectin
What I did last week: (“the story of the film so far…”)
in a large, non-reactive bowl I combined the zest, juice, 6c sugar, and mint; after stirring as best I could, I covered it with plastic wrap (put the wrap directly on the top of the mixture, like you would for a pudding or custard.) I put this in the coldest part of the fridge and forgot about it until last night.
I processed these in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes, letting the rest/dry off on a cooling rack where, if I’m lucky, they won’t get bumped or spoken to or looked at for a few days.
Thank you, Minda, for letting me pester you. I think you rock socks. ❤
One of my favorite people in the whole wide world is expecting a baby! She and her husband have travelled to every beach imaginable, always returning home tanned, with sea shells, and photos of the beautiful briny blue. Since she can’t partake in the Drink of Heaven (pina colada), I set out to make her a Vacation in a Jar. My darling Sheffette: your treats are on their way to your door. …and I tried some…and it’s divine…and if you decide you don’t like it, send it back because…it’s really, really, really coconut-y and pineapple-y and sweet. …like you.
This recipe was complete in one afternoon; your house will smell like a coconut/pineapple umbrella drink. Feel free to wear your flip flops and bikini. Or jammies and scrunchy. Or nothing at all…I promise not to tell.
Vacation in a Jar
(makes 5-6 half-pint jars)
there is no coconut meat in this recipe because, quite frankly, coconut doesn’t really taste like coconut and not everyone likes the consistency. (insert Zombieland reference here…)
Chunk: one pineapple
Cube: three manogos
Zest & Juice: one lime
1c non-alcoholic pina colada mix
1 small bottle of imitation coconut extract (the.whole.bottle.)!
To a large bowl: add everything except the water and drink mix. Stir, mash, and otherwise thoroughly combine the pineapple, mango, sugar, lime juice & zest, and extract. Cover this and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Begin to process jars, lids, and rings.
After the mixture has gotten all friendly and sugary, let it set out for a bit to reach room temp. Then, in a large pot, heat it through to boil, adding the drink mixture and water. Heat up to 220F; this will take a while, as the fruit involved won’t really like this abuse. It’s necessary. (There will be plenty of liquid, as the water will have extracted some from the fruit. However, add up to two cups if you find it necessary.)
Add the heated mixture to your jars, cover, and process in a rolling boil for 15-20 minutes.