Monday, February 29, 2016

Cats, Carocats, and Customizable Chicken

I am so fracking angry I'm ready to scream, after I pull all my hair out. I had just finished a beautiful blog post full of gorgeous pictures and patter from the Ancient City Cat Show, plus a fully written recipe for chicken stuffed with spinach and feta. I was just at the point of putting in the photos of the food and the links for Carocats and the cat show, when I decided to head upstairs.

Ancient City Cat Club Inaugural Cat Show, St. Augustine.        

And then, I lost it. Not just the last few lines I'd typed, but the entire post, which had taken three days to write. Gone, leaving just the bit I had typed on Saturday. This makes no sense, as I save constantly as I write, and this has never happened before.

The thing that kills me is that it was a really good post with lots of photos and captions and explanations written in my best quirky style. The recipe was typed up as I finished each step, which means there is no other place it is written down. The report on the cat show was, in the word of the Ninth Doctor, "Fantastic!" I still have all the photos tucked safely in a web album, but I can't re-create the writing. Needless to say, I am totally bummed. And may I add, totally pissed off. I was THIS CLOSE to pressing the Publish button. I was ready for my nap! My back hurts beyond the helping limits of Baclofen, and I am frankly and crankily exhausted.

The damn recipe is gone, except for the general outline which I will type up if and when I ever calm done. I can post the photos - you've got to see the gorgeous Solo Bashert - but the rest of my cat stories and background are gone where the recipe flew, gone with the wind that swept through Georgia.

Cousin Michael Rothfeld introduces me to 
International Winner Supreme Grand Champion Carocats Solo Bashert

This American Shorthair Silver Classic Tabby is one of the two breeding males for Carocats which is owned by our cousins Carol and Michael Rothfeld. (Yes, Michael and Robert bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.)

I love that this mellow stud kitty is named "Bashert" which is a Yiddish word meaning one's soulmate, the life partner you are meant to be with (and wait for). I also love that one of the ladies at the show traveled from Australia, not only to attend the show but to bring home her second Carocats kitten.

I was not there to purchase a kitty, being reasonably sure that my pet-adopting days are over, but that doesn't mean I went home empty-handed:

I purchased this from the charming Aussie lady, who explained that the sale was part of a fund raiser so that the Australian cat club could afford to bring over judges for their own cat shows. Cat business is serious business, which I suppose I've always known. I had such a good time, meeting kitties and watching the judging and asking questions.

A first show for this Carocats female, "Kissy" (Kissie?)

In the kitten ring, the judge explains what she is looking for


Devon Rex

Burmese (I think)

Cornish Rex

Rob and I walked up and down all of the aisles to see the different cats - longhairs and shorthairs in all different colors and patterns, and a veritable treasure trove of breeds like Himalayan, Tonkinese. Havana Brown, Ragdolls, Munchkin, Savannah, Persian and too many to remember.  I had a great time.

Here's what's left of the original post:
I'm ready to do a little cooking, good looking. Something straightforward, like chicken, but a trifle sneaky, stuffed with spinach. Feta cheese from Trader Joe's and lotsa garlic. Sun dried tomatoes. What could be bad? But before that, I am going to get my haircut. This is a Very Big Deal, as I have been cutting my own hair for years. As the fibromyalgia flares up more frequently, it makes it difficult for me to spend the time and energy. Since I wear it short now - another concession to the fibromyalgia (and let's face it, grey hair looks better styled short) I figure it was time to let a professional do the hard part.

Not bad. A little shorter than I initially envisioned, but a good short. I can best be described as a superannuated pixie, at least in my mind, and I'm comfortable with the look.

Cory and I took the Tai Chi class early this morning, and oh lordie, it was cold. Really cold, just 45 degrees which is an utterly ridiculous temperature for Kissimmee. I swayed like a bear, moved hands through clouds, and energetically cast off excess chi, and I still never warmed up. Maybe if I turn on the stove ...

Okay, this is another one of those recipes you should keep in your back pocket. Chicken is the world's easiest protein to cook. This is an uncomplicated, virtually instinctive arrangement of food.

5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chicken tender intact
1 - 16 oz. bottle Ken's Northern Italian with Basil & Romano Dressing & Marinade

With a sharp, thin boning knife, cut a pocket into the top of the thickest part of the chicken breast.   Divide the chicken into 2 1-gallon ziploc bags.

Now let me try to finish the recipe:

Essentially, you are going to use any kind of stuffing - a combination of vegetables, a starch, maybe some cheese - to fill the pocket you made in the chicken. I used a 15 oz. package of steam-in-bag frozen spinach, cooked; a 6 oz. tub of crumbled feta cheese with Mediterranean herbs from Trader Joe's; 2 oz. cream cheese; 3 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped and softened by cooking briefly in 1 tablespoon of EVOO; a tablespoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes' salt, pepper, granulated garlic; 1/3 cup white quinoa cooked in 2/3 cup water according to package directions.

Combine the stuffing ingredients and fill the pockets; arrange the chicken in 2 aluminum baking pans and pour on the remaining marinade. Sprinkle some seasoned panko over the tops and sides, and spray lightly with butter-flavor Pam. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 60-75 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the panko is toasty brown. If the panko browns too quickly, cover with a small piece of foil.

That's it, I am publishing this thing before it also disappears into the cyber mist.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hey, Blondie!

Thursday - Visitors today from Brazil, Australia, and Poland. I "get" Australia (Mark's birthday wishes were probably picked up by a few of his Aussie friends) and I might be able to explain Poland in light of my annoyance with Bernie Sanders. Here's the deal - I Facebook-linked to a New York Times article regarding Bernie Sanders' not-so-subtle description of his father as "Polish" rather than "Polish Jewish." Bernie, knowing full well and good that anti-semitism runs rampant in the good old USA, has been downplaying that part of his heritage, which I find so offensive I could smack him silly. And emphasizing his Polish roots is even worse, as there were few groups as rabidly anti-semitic as the Poles. So maybe a few Polish nationals found their way to my blog. Perhaps they were offended. I certainly hope so. My Canadian friend is taking the day off, but she'll be back. I love playing with the stats.

As you may have guessed, my brain is all over the place today. My daily plans involved phone calls and emails and online research and scheduling and filling out forms and jotting down notes - all stuff that used to come easy to me but not so much anymore. Still, I pushed through, spending several hours on my feet (an intensely bad idea) and I bathed Chelsea, and I feel accomplished, but profoundly battered. There's still laundry and Project Zero upstairs, but not today, oh no. I'm in pain and I have Tai Chi class tonight. Only 5 1/2 hours to recover. Time for Advil, Baclofen, knitting, and hopefully a nap.

Friday - legs are all wibbly-wobbly today and my back hurts. I need a nap desperately but I have an appointment to have a  nail fill and a pedicure, and the light massage that goes with the pedicure will, does, and has helped tame my leg muscles. Doing a few house chores over the last few days has knocked the crap out of me. Imagine if I also had to work full time. No really, imagine. I'd be catching naps in the middle of a trial. Maybe I would just lie down in my car during lunch break and forget to come back. (Yes, that has happened.) Maybe the Court would send a deputy out to get me (And that has happened too.)

I think I can do a little more laundry - maybe hang up a few blouses. Then I'll take a nap.

Well, I think it is time to address those Gen X and Millennial women who think they don't have to vote for Hillary because they got this feminism thing in the bag, so to speak. Who think it is okay to vote for Bernie Sanders, a 73 year old socialist who has promised them the sun, the moon, and a free college education. You don't feel a connection with Hillary, but you do with an old white guy who is going to raise your taxes like Scandanavia and Australia, but is too chicken to present himself as who he really is - a Jewish kid from Brooklyn - you know, like Mel Brooks.

You think this "woman for President" thing is a done deal, if not this election cycle, then the next, because the fight was fought and won. Well, you foolish little girls - Put on your big girl panties and grow the hell up - women like Hillary have been fighting the fight for almost 50 years and are still getting stuck at that damn glass ceiling.

Why is it that you would fight endlessly for the right to abort a viable fetus, but ignore the most important opportunity we will ever have to see a woman become President of the United States? Think about that and then go to today's Orlando Sentinel and read this article, published today, about how workplace gender bias still exists among Florida' young female attorneys.

And then, stop thinking about your personal needs, and look at the bigger picture - we female baby boomers fought for ourselves, certainly, but we also fought for you, the next generations of women to take their rightful places at the top of commerce and industry and every kind of business and government, specifically the highest office in the United States, and you are willing to throw it away. Hillary doesn't "deserve" the office "just" because she's a woman, you prattle.

Hillary Clinton is a symbol for all the women who fought (or are still fighting) gender bias in the workplace, and so yes, she does deserve that office. Only then will we finish the job we set out to accomplish 50 years ago. If you fail Hillary, you fail the generation of your mothers and grandmothers. You fail me. And you will fail your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. The moment is now, yet you are willing to let it pass.

A vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, or (Heaven help us) in the General Election is a vote for Donald Trump. There is a tiny, born-in-NewYork part of me that thinks that would be utterly delightful, but my responsibility as an American woman is to help Hillary Clinton become the first female President.

And that is my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

You Must Remember This

Spain and Mexico have crept back into my audience stats, trying to kick France and the Ukraine to the curb. Hola, mis amigos! Como estan ustedes? Las familias, estan bien? I love the Spanish language. I've only been studying it since 1964, with the sincere hope that one day I will achieve something approaching fluency. The bad part about retiring is that I lost my daily opportunity to practice my Spanish language skills. Damn. Wait, let me peek out la ventana - uh oh, el cielo esta nublado, muy nublado. Damn again. I hope it doesn't rain, it's Wednesday which is Prince spaghetti day and also my midweek run to the therapist. (I wonder if Wednesday is still the day that spaghetti with meat sauce and English muffin pizzas are served on all the public school lunch menus in New York's Nassau County? I hope so - consistency is critical to what remains of my mental health, not that I expect to be purchasing lunch inside the sadly rundown halls of Lawrence High School anytime in the near future.)

Speaking of ancient history, it happens to be February 24th as I am writing this, and so I would like to wish a happy 62nd birthday to Dr. Elliot Morris, New York pediatrician and my baby brother. If you know me, then you already know my sibling sad tale of woe, and if you don't know me personally, it's just a lot of drama drama drama. The reasonable, I've-got-a-bachelors-degree-in-psychology part of me has been trying to make things right for a very long time. But even I can't fix everything although I will probably die trying.

Happy birthday, kiddo. I hope you enjoyed your day. Heck, I hope you've enjoyed your life.

Outside of my weekly visit to the Cafe Americain, my plans for today involved more black coffee and more laundry, and more knitting. My bathroom vanity has been declared Project Zero of the Long-Term-Not-Going-To-Freak-Out-About-It-Projects. Life has a purpose. Tomorrow will be about Trivago and phone calls and Pacific Standard Time, but I'm getting ahead of myself so let's stop right here.  Coffee. Laundry. Knitting. Oh yeah, clean up after pets. Clean up after humans in kitchen. Happy Wednesday. Happy Birthday.

I haven't had to cook these last few days, although I did put together a salad for Cory and heated up some frozen Michelangelo's eggplant Parmesan. I love eggplant Parmesan, I just don't love to cook it from scratch. I do feel a little bit guilty, but just a little.

Since this will be posted on the 25th, I want to wish a very happy birthday to my friend Mark. Old friends are the best friends. Enjoy your day!

1970 was a very good year for making friends at SUNY New Paltz. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Purrrrrrrrrrple! Paging Petronella Osgood - Broadripple Socks (Link)

When Cory was just a baby I undertook to teach him his colors and letters and other important stuff, just like parents have done from the beginning of time. As it turned out, I had a talent for sound  effects, and my specialty turned out to be the word "purple." 

Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - pullllll! Repeat that a few hundred times, and by gosh, he got it.  Purple is still a favorite color, and we still do sound effects (Exxxxxxx - it! Gotta love those Sesame Street tapes.) So I guess it is no surprise that I have an inordinate number of purple socks and balls of yarn waiting to be made into purple socks. The socks I just finished are screamingly purple, which suits me just fine.

What doesn't suit me is that it has been such a long time since I finished a pair of socks that my fine finishing skills got a bit sloppy and I am unhappy with the toe I laboriously grafted close last night. 

The one on the left was grafted quite a while ago - perfect. The one on the right, last night's effort - not so much.

Never mind that I ungrafted and regrafted, and did some secret repair work from inside - it wasn't as perfect as I know I am capable of, and that annoys me to no end. Not so much that I won't wear them - tonight, to Tai Chi class - but just enough to step on a nerve. They are a little gappy in the ankle, but I never let that bother me. I have these dinky little ankles that have never been adequate to my weight, which is why I fell down so much back in my Big Girl days. As long as the socks stay up - and they do - I'm sock-happy.

Colors have such a direct effect on mood, and knitting is part of that. As relaxing as knitting is, there are colors I veer away from, such as red, orange, and certain greens, because they seem to poke me in the eyes and skew my knitting chi. In 2005, I left angry bunches of ripped out fuzzy red yarn stuffed into garbage pails all over the Republic of South Korea, switching instead to - you guessed it, purple - which I actually finished as a sleeveless sweater and wore on my last night there.

(Sadly, no one in South Korea is currently following my blog; Germany and Ireland are fighting for the number two spot like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and my single loyal Canadian is bringing up the rear).

I have plans for today, which involve lots of fresh black coffee, laundry, and my next knitting project, which has already had the Big Reveal.

These are Broadripple socks, an original pattern by Rob Matyska, well-known in sock-knitting circles as a classic. The pattern is free at the Knitty link. I am using 2 skeins of Paton's Kroc Socks Stripes, color way Sultana Stripes, on size 2 DPNs.

One other thing that has been poking at my knitting conscience is a rather massive finishing project on a scarf.

A Very Big Scarf, perhaps the biggest hand knit scarf in the Known Whoniverse. (Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. So I'm a geek, shun me, kill me, laugh at me - my neck won't be freezing come next winter!)

Everything's got to end sometime. (Put another way, every end has to be ended.) Otherwise nothing would ever get started. Time to weave in those ends. Oy gevalt!

In making today's plans, I conveniently ignored the very real possibility that my fibromyalgia was going to sneak up and kick me in the back. Well, so it did. To which I replied "screw you", swallowed the appropriate doses of Advil and muscle relaxer and kept on truckin'. 

Fibromyalgics of the world, unite! And keep on trucking. Or take a nap. Either way, be kind to yourself. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stuff 'em if ya got 'em bell peppers

So now we pick up where we left off, with a toe in need of grafting.

It's called a Kitchener stitch, and when it is done, the toe of the sock will be closed without a hint of a seam. Think of it as weaving. I can never remember how to do it without first looking for the instructions online, and once I finish Kitchenering or whatever the proper verb is, I spend at least 15 minutes just admiring this little fiber-based miracle.

After that, I get to pick out one from my "many" ziplock bags of unfinished socks. You may wonder why I would start work on multiple socks at the same time, only to stop and start a new shawl or scarf, but all I can tell you is that it's a knitting thing. I suspect other crafts like quilting (and I know from personal experience needlepoint and crochet) attract the same sort of people. The joy of starting a new project outweighs any other point in the process. Some people, like my mother-in-law, have the strength of character to finish each and every project before casting on a new one, but when it comes to strength of character, I am sorely lacking.

Yesterday was Bethe's yahrzeit, marking 3 years since we lost her. I was so focused on Cory's birthday dinner that I did not feel the date as I usually do. And yet, she came to me at a low point during the afternoon. And I miss her. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Our dinner at Morimoto's Asia was such fun. We finally got to try the Peking duck and their pork bao and a calamari salad that was unexpectedly fantastic. The boys tasted a "flight" of 4 different sakes (sake is most definitely not my drink) and we talked and admired the beautiful rooms.

Today is a day well-suited to making stuffed peppers as requested by my husband. Jewish stuffed peppers, not southern (given a choice he always chooses the Jewish version) which also happens to be one of the very first "real" recipes I learned to cook while back in college (and that, my little chickadees, is a very long time ago). The sausage and peppers I threw into the crockpot a few days ago is a big bleh, because the sausage itself was annoyingly bland. I won't be buying that again, and I know I won't be eating it (I'm kind of weird that way). I was going to make meatballs with the ground beef, but I couldn't get excited about them, and it turns out Rob already thought I was going to make stuffed peppers when he saw me buy the bag of bell peppers and the ground beef. Listen, I'm no rocket scientist, but I can work stuff like this out, and I will eat a stuffed pepper or two along the way.

I made these with 2 pounds of ground beef and however many peppers I happened to have in the produce drawer. You can see some of the peppers are rather small. Interspersed with a bunch of normals, so prepare to be flexible when it comes to number.

This is the kind of recipe you commit to memory, like eggplant parmigiana or beef brisket, something that's been in your family for so long it is as familiar as Flatbush. Meatloaf. Basically, there is 1/2 cup of rice cooked in 1 cup of boiling water for about 8 minutes, then drained and set aside.

In a couple of tablespoons of olive oil I sautéed a sliced leek, a shredded carrot, and 2 chopped garlic cloves. If you wanted to grate a small onion and leave it raw (instead of the leek) fine. Leave out the carrot. Add some fresh thyme leaves. You get the idea. 

Combine the ground beef with the cooled leek-and-carrots, the cooked rice, 2 eggs, some ketchup or chili sauce (Heinz, not Asian style) and season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, whatever. Stuff the peppers with the filling and set aside while you make the sauce. You can leave the peppers whole or cut them in half before stuffing, the only thing that might change is how long you cook them. The sauce is 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons lemon juice. Break up the tomatoes and heat it up or not. Pour it over and around the stuffed peppers, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes.  

Enjoy. You will, I know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

And then there were five ... needles

Let's see if I can list them: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, John Kasich. Jeb Bush dropped out after the South Carolina primary. Things are getting serious in the Republican Party. Here at home, too - I want to take a shower and wash and dry my hair, and I am afraid to start. The part about drying my hair is the worst, as I have trouble holding my arms up long enough to do the job. Up until now it's been a pleasant day, sunny outside, almost relaxing despite Rob and I still coughing our heads off, but that whole wash-and-blow-dry thing has me shaking.

Today I'm in one of my "fight or die trying" moods, when I manage to trick myself into believing I can beat this thing if I just try hard enough, spoonie be damned. So I did my best, stood my ground, fought down the urge to chuck the whole mess out the window, and voila!   Front okay, back not so great. So I bought me a do-over with a little more styling mousse, and now I can leave the house without pulling a big, floppy hat down around my ears.

Sunday score: Cindy-1, Fibromyalgia-0. If only it was always this easy.

I've always thought that the most creative people in the world are the ones who wear crazy socks. It takes nerve to wear crazy socks under your wing tips, and let's face it, you'll never get a promotion, but crazy socks are cool, like bow ties and fezzes. I always wore pantyhose to work (and I'm proud to say it's been 356 days since I last pulled on a pair of those cheap nylon sausage casings) but outside in the real world, it was all about the socks.  For years I bought my socks at Target, especially the ones with puppies and kittens in all over patterns. Flowers, birds, bunnies, holiday themes, bright colors all tucked into my Nikes, mostly hidden from view by the length of my pant legs. My own little secret, not quite as titilating as a black lace thong but just a little bit bad. (Was I ever going to grow up? Hell, no. Especially if growing up means wearing a scrap of black lace held up by a piece of unwaxed dental floss creeping up my nether region, I say the hell with it. Cotton lollipops are good enough for me.)

But about 15 years ago I decided to tackle the Greatest Knitting Project of all - the humble sock - and I got hooked.  Never mind the first pair being a disaster, or that the only human with feet big enough to wear them was my man Shaquille. I kept trying, working on my stitch gauge and committing myself to giving up my favorite size 7 bamboo straight needles and knitting with a set of 5 long, double-pointed toothpicks.

Knitting socks is like getting a tattoo - just one time and you are hooked. One day you're having a delicate little butterfly tattooed on your wrist, and the next you're wearing more ink than than the workers at a Faber Castell ink cartridge factory. Once you've worn hand knit socks (and you've accepted the fact that you are limited to wearing clogs a size larger than normal for the rest of your life) you can never go back to store-bought. Never. And you will never need to because hand knit socks last practically forever. Nothing will ever feel as right for your feet. Nothing else will ever look as nice or will hug your cold and tired tootsies with such gentle loving care.

I don't know how many pairs of hand knit socks I own, but I have one or two that are beginning to show wear, and another pair that should not have been machine washed, no matter what the yarn label said. Since I am wearing socks more frequently during Tai Chi, I simply need more socks. I really want more socks. So as soon as I finish grafting the toe of these purple beauties, I am off and running  (limping, whatever) to finish another pair.

I know I said I don't have the count on my stash of knitted socks, but I have at least half that number in unfinished socks, or as we knitters refer to more generally, UFOs. Unfinished objects. I got over
the guilt years ago. Each project is neatly tucked into ziplock  bags, just waiting to be set free. Think of my closet as a sort of Hand Knit Sock Phantom Zone. Not that there are only socks in there ... never mind.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

And the winner is ...

Something is wrong. My keyboard and I are out of sync. My touch screen and I are also out of sync. I'm starting to take this personally. It's true that I am still getting adjusted to the iPad Pro and the new keyboard case (no idea of the brand at the moment), but both seem to need the application of a firm hand, which I do not presently possess. My hands shake, flutter, flake, and shoot sparkles from my fingertips, none of which is normal. Also, they are so icy cold that I cannot get the touch screen to respond.

So that was yesterday, Thursday afternoon, and now it is Friday and things are looking up. I finally made it to Tai Chi class last night, and while I coughed my way through part of it, I managed the rest and felt good. I am getting ready to head over to the office for cookie delivery and lunch date with Terry. Normal!! I feel normal! Had I really been in that much pain for so long?

The only good thing about having such intense pain is that once it finally breaks, the relief is positively giddy-making. I had such a wonderful visit at the office and lunch with Terry. I have plans for the future, including maybe the annual chili contest later today, my first cat show next weekend, and an engagement party in March.  Life is measured in tiny steps now; the good one are too rare and precious to ignore.

Friday was also Cory's birthday, although we'll do our family celebrating at Morimoto's on Sunday. Which is today. See how that works? Writing has become a bit troublesome for me lately, and I haven't been doing much in the way of cooking either. The blog is kind of limping along (like me).

I did cook on Saturday, but it was hardly my best work. Two crockpots chugging along with whatever I'd thrown into them, recipes I'd made before and neither one a hit to my palate.

I indulged my interest in politics, letting myself get all worked up about the Nevada caucuses, ready to write a scathing message to young liberal women regarding their lack of support for Hillary, but I took a walk down by the lakefront instead, and when I got back, she'd been declared the winner. Good thing too, because I was white hot angry. I'll save it for another time.

Finally, I have finished the foot of the last sock, which I feel like I've been knitting since 1983. Once it's done, I'm going to pick up yet another unfinished project and chip away however slowly. At this rate, I won't have to ever buy any more yarn for knitting. Even if I live another 30 years, which is a real possibility, I'll have enough yarn.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - Red Beans and Rice

6:30 AM on Day 9 and I am beginning to suspect I am going to live through this, the worst flare I've ever experienced from the fibromyalgia. I still have the remnants of that deep cough, but I think this is its last hurrah. 

7:30 and I'm not so sure. I walked to the bathroom with my cane, I got dressed; I gathered up all of my medications and returned to my bed to set them up in a pill organizer. I could not have stood up at the counter to do this. Even sitting on the bed sapped more energy than I'd wanted to devote, but it's finally done and I'm glad.

I really want to go downstairs for coffee and something to eat, but once I'm down there I won't be coming back up for a long time, so this trip has to be perfect, meaning I have to be able to carry everything I'm going to need for the day, like iPhone, iPad, knitting, pill case, wallet, cane, and one small Yorkie.

So I pushed and I prodded myself and I accomplished more than I expected. I took care of online registration at Princess Cruises. I got into the State of Florida Retirement website and got as far as I could. I prepared red beans and rice and that is the recipe I am going to share with you today, whatever day today is. I've got myself set to call the Princess Travel Lady in California just as soon as Pacific Time has turned into working time, so I can refine our airline and hotel reservations. God willing, I'll make it toTai Chi tonight. (Didn't happen.)

Somewhere I lost Wednesday. I went to the therapist - drove there, first time driving in a week - but I had electric needles in both hands, and flash hallucination of color patterns. One flash of overall  color, then back to normal. Reminds me of a project I did in 12th grade art. But I had these flashes at 4 different times today, different colors, all bright. Shiny, and just a bit scary.

The Princess Travel Lady called back and is trying to initiate my idea, but the airline schedules are not cooperating. The Pope and Donald Trump are having a papal pissing match, very sad. The President is not going to attend Justice Scalia's funeral tomorrow, which borders on treason. Instead, he sent Old Joe and Dr. Jill, who have already had their fair share of funerals this year and deserve a break.

This is a non-meat version of red beans and rice, from chef Robert Irvine at Food Network. I made a few minor changes, but here is Chef Irvine's recipe just as it appears on the Food Network site.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the side of a knife blade and minced
1 large red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and small diced
2 (15 oz.) cans Goya small red beans, rinsed in water and well-drained 
1 teaspoon granulated onion 

1 teaspoon granulated garlic1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce
1 can Campbell's chicken broth plus 1 soup can water
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sliced green onions (green part only of the thinnest green onions you can find)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Sauté the vegetables, starting with the onion; let them cook until softened, then add the celery; after time to soften the celery, add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until all the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the small red beans, granulated onion, granulated garlic salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and let mixture simmer slowly while you cook the rice.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil and stir in the rice and butter. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes without removing the lid. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, covered. Uncover the saucepan and fluff the rice with a table fork. Fold rice and beans gently together and transfer to a serving dish. Serve garnished with the green onions.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Goodbye, Justice Scalia, Hello Political Haranguing

Although I did not agree with his brand of staunch conservatism, I always had a soft spot for Justice Antonin Scalia. I've mentioned previously that my favorite US Supreme Court Justice is The Notorious RBG. I may not have mentioned that my least favorite is Clarence Thomas. Clarence doesn't speak - he hasn't asked a question during oral argument in 20 years. Clarence doesn't think - he always waits until Scalia decides, and then he concurs. Oh, hell, what will Clarence do now?

But I had met Scalia in 1990 and he made a huge impression on an over-aged law student from a tiny Jewish law school out in Long Island's Suffolk County. He was approachable, warm, and humorous.  He was smart, and he was comfortable with his smartness. He was one of the judges at a Moot Court Competition at Brooklyn Law School, and I was part of the team representing Touro Law Center. We won two third-place awards - first time little Touro had done that in a national competition - and Scalia handed us the awards with handshakes all around. Although we would never sing in the same key when it came to legal decisions, that evening in Brooklyn would remain one of the best moments of my life.

The angry posturing by the Legislature and the President regarding who gets to fill the open position on the High Court is disgusting. Really, the Court cannot sit in a limbo of 4-4 decisions for a year, which is what the Republicans want. And the President should not be trying to sneak in a recess appointment; this position is too important to take away the Senate's right to investigate and interrogate the nominee.

And that's my opinion.

In the meantime this is Day Eight of this never-ending illness, with its raw, harsh cough rattling deep in my lungs, and the pain from the heavy pressure against the back of my head and shoulders. I have nothing left to give to fight this. I can't walk or stand and keep my head erect. I keep experiencing muscle spasms. I can't lift my hands easily to use the iPad; I haven't got the strength, and if I try to force the issue, my hands shake and I start hitting random keys. I remain certain that this illness is taking place at the intersection of a really bad cold and a fibromyalgia flare, which is why I haven't bothered to go to the doctor - he doesn't "get" fibromyalgia, and I am too tired to try to educate him.

I am tired of this crap, and I am going to try to accomplish something, several somethings, as a matter of fact, starting with a nice hot shower with lavender body wash. If I live through that, I have a bunch of stuff to take care of, online and on the phone, regarding our cruise to Alaska. (Less than 3 months. I am so excited.) Cooking - I haven't done anything more complicated than butter a corn muffin in well over a week. Time to make the rice and beans.

Hope springs eternal , but I can't get passed the shower. I can't stand up to dry my hair. I can't support the weight of my head or the weight of the blow dryer. There came a time I gave serious thought to going to the rheumatologist, and later on Rob asked me if I wanted to go to the ER, but I slept those suggestions off. Nothing got done today, and there were times I cried from pain and sheer frustration, but I am where I want to be, in my home, in my own bed with my husband and a couple of Yorkies. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cindy's Very Bad, Terrible, No-Good, Awful Week

This has been the first time I've had a cold since fibromyalgia messed up my life, and it has turned into one of the worst colds ever.  It feels like the flu, with all the muscle aches and vicious headaches. My skin hurts, my throat is burning raw and any coughing sets off more pain, and my hair hurts. I also have almost no balance or hand control, nor the strength to remain standing. I have been crying for three days. Today is Thursday, and for a brief moment I feel a bit better, at least as long as I do not try to get out of bed. I'm still terribly dizzy, and more than happy to leave the driving to someone else.

I did some online research on having a cold with fibromyalgia,and it seems we all experience the  exact same super-sized symptoms. We are unable to find some degree of relief, in part because the pain is erupting from the fibro rather than the cold; the cold is just making it worse and it was bad enough. This has given me a whole new perspective on what it means to be an invalid. Helpless, hopeless, and deeply depressed.

This is a pretty wicked cold all by itself; Robert has it, and has been advised by many of his clients that it is "going around" and there is really nothing that can be done for it. The fibro just enhances the experience.

Now it is Saturday morning, the first time since Thursday morning I have felt strong enough to lift and open the iPad. Rob and I had to miss Guy Fieri at the Dr. Phillip's Center on Thursday night. The narcolepsy from Wednesday took over, and while I do not know what today is going to bring, once I got back from the therapist Wednesday evening and posted the last blog entry, I crawled into bed and any attempts to crawl out set off incredible stabbing pains and dizziness.  I have a heaviness in my head and shoulders that can only be described as having my former 275 pound body sitting on top of them while hugging the top of my head. The few times I've climbed upstairs (having made the earlier mistake of walking downstairs) the pain and muscle exhaustion was almost unbearable.

Rob has been terribly sick as well.  I'm not sure how he is managing to plow through tax season, but I know he is taking naps during lunch. Neither one of us has eaten more than a bite of two since this virus landed.

I had let my instructor know I would not make Tai Chi class on Thursday because of the Guy Fieri performance but now I know I would not have made it anyway. Friday night he called to tell us he had to cancel Saturday's class, which is just as well since I still don't know if I can stay standing for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

I apologize for these last few posts, but when the most exciting thing I can write about is pain, it's bound  to be a bummer. Let's hope tomorrow is better. I would love to start cooking again, but the thought of handling a long sharp knife is still a bit scary-making.