Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dumpling Date Night

For the past couple months, I've been working part time at my friend Jo Horner's cooking school, Create a Cook. Jo and I met online, through Universal Hub, I think... She needed some office help, and I needed extra income. So... it's a match made in heaven.

That, and her iPod can read my mind, so it makes not for a "work" day but an "awesome" day.

Last night, Doug and I took one of the classes offered at Create a Cook. We joined up with some of Jess' friends who are still in high school, and we did Date Night: Dumplings.

A few weeks ago, one of Jess' friends had complained on his facebook wall that he was trying to make dumplings and failing. So I asked Jo if he and another friend (since it was Date Night) could do the class. Then I thought "Doug and I deserve a date night!" so Jo put us in too. There were two other couples in the class, and aside from the fact we knew Catie & Chris, no one else knew each other.

We made four styles of dumplings: wontons which were immediately put into a soup; shrimp and chive folded with a shark fin style seal and then steamed; shu mai, which was like a little box or bag, steamed; and finally potstickers, which were fried on the bottom and then steamed on the top.

The ingredients were all pre-sorted for us, so we didn't have to measure out things like ginger and green beans, shrimp and chives. But we did all the chopping, cutting, fine mincing and mixing of liquids and spices to make the fillings. The instructor taught us the different folding techniques, and we talked about gastronomy, styles of food from different regions, spices and spiciness.

Instead of preparing all the food and then sitting and eating at the tables in the lobby, the way most date night dinners end, Lilly cooked our food and we ate as we went. She thought it was a better option so we didn't all faint by the time 9:30 pm rolled around. This was a very wise choice. Out of each of our batches, she cooked up about 8 dumplings, and the rest of the prepped dumplings were placed into the freezer so we could bring them all home and cook them here. So our freezer is now filled with joy, four different styles of dumplings ready for us to whip up when we want.

Doug didn't quite master the wonton fold, but I rocked it. He was the king of the other three styles of folding, and I kind of started to get good at the potsticker style by the end of the batch. Of the four, I loved the filling on the shu mai the best. Lilly whipped up a spicy soy/sriracha dipping sauce that was simply perfect with each of the three dumplings that didn't end up in soup.

We had an excellent time, and I had fun running around taking pictures. The other couples were sweet and we had a lot of laughs. Doug is now asking all kinds of questions about what other kinds of classes we can take. All told, this was a great thing to do as a couple. So rarely do we get to work side by side in the kitchen anymore, so it was a blessing to have this time together.

Full photo essay available at my flickr stream if you would like to waltz through.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Where's The Nearest Hospital?" BSA Bike Hike on Cape Cod

I just got back from a nice, long weekend with my son's Boy Scout Troop.

Geoff doesn't do winter camping, or cold weather/snow activities, so this is the first trip he's been on since a weekender in October. One of the other moms in the troop has a condo down the Cape a few towns away from where the boys were camping, so she suggested we go and stay there and still have fun with the boys but have our own Castle away from them.

So I took her up on the offer.

Geoff and I went down with her and 3 other boys on Friday night so we didn't have to meet up with the troop at 6 am on Saturday to make the 2 to 3 hour trip. We had a wonderful time with the boys, watched the "Tron" sequel, and everyone was fast asleep by 11pm.

In the morning, we made a great breakfast, had more great fellowship, and met the troop at the campsite to unload camp stuff and get things ready for a day of biking.

At that point, I split.

I had a date with a long time internet friend, Jess of "Cool Librarian." Fellow Geocacher, BNL fan, Guster fan, Flickr friend and Facebook buddy.

We met up at her house where her dog lovingly humped my arm, and we hit several Geocaches that she either has hidden or had recollection of so we could quickly get them. It was a brutally windy day, which made for no fun for any actual nice, real hiking.

We ate lunch in Chatham, had a GREAT time, and I headed back to the Boys. I spent the evening playing Uno and hanging out getting to know one of the new dads and a bunch of little wee new Scouts. The troop did a total of 17.5 miles on the Rail Trails. Geoff had a great day biking, and loves his new bike. So he told me all about it, and Debbie told me that he only had to be reprimanded once on the trail for doing something incorrectly.

Dinner was served, beef barley stew cheffed up by the Scoutmaster's wife. The boys cooked for the boys, and we all had a great time. Everyone was beat, so Debbie and I split and went back to the Condo with monkey wine and laughs for the evening.

Next day, we headed back, Debbie was riding with the troop, and I was going to meet up with them somewhere on the rail trail. I ended up hooking up with them at Nickerson State Park, where shortly before they arrived there one of the boys had a head on collision with another biker coming the opposite direction.

Our medical expert parent decided that his arm was most likely broken. We had to do some quick thinking and planning. Were we doing the hospital thing or were we driving him on home? One of the dads was headed home that night anyway, so he opted to cut his trip short and bring the injured boy home. I was all ready to play ambulance and everything, so I was kind of happy to not have to go.

That afternoon I met with another friend.... appetizers and heart to heart. It felt good to be out with humans. I went back to the troop, and Debbie reported that Geoff was 3 miles shy of a 25 mile ride... he opted out of the extra 5 mile loop that a bunch of people did, and stayed with a group of younger, tired scouts because he was tired too. She said he did incredibly well again, and didn't get in any trouble.

Another evening of awesome food, and very silly adult leaders eating whipped cream off of forks without the boys being aware because they were all in the other room playing Risk and other board games. I played a cut-throat game of Uno with 4 scouts and the Scoutmaster, and went home late and laughing.

This morning the boys had to clean up, pack up and get going. The original plan was to ride the Cape Cod Canal, but the boys who did the same trip 3 years ago said the headwinds down the canal were BRUTAL and they didn't want to do it. So we ended up at Myles Standish, where they did an 8 mile ride in the woods, without rail trail rules. They were happy to go nuts and ride fast, side by side, just enjoying the outdoors and each other.

Geoff and I left the troop as they got ready to ride back to the trailhead, and we went to my mom's to hang out for a while. She lives only about 8 hours southwest of where we were. We had a nice visit, but you could tell Geoff was just BEAT. I got him home, he's happy to be here, missed his dogs and his computer.

I feel a little bad about not doing the ride myself. I had put Geoff's old bike into the shop to get some work done and never got around to picking it up. I also am rather out of shape, and didn't want to deal with it. If the trip was a month from now I'd be in better shape. I was happy to play transport vehicle and be support for the 2 moms riding. I had a great time bonding and goofing around with them.

It was a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meditation and Prayer for Session Meeting

There is a change in my life, one that to my recollection I do not think I've actually shared here thanks to being otherwise distracted by bodily horrors and BOA nightmares.

As a citizen, of many different circles, I have always tried to bee helpful. My help is always taken up, but I have never been offered a leadership position. Over the years, I've applied for leadership or management positions but no one has ever given me one. I wanted to be an RA in college, and was repeatedly denied the role. It really hurt my feelings, because I thought I would have made a great RA. In work situations, I've wanted to lead, have been led by people who don't know half of the stuff I know, and have never been elevated to a position of responsibility where my skills can shine.

I've repeatedly said here that no one takes me seriously. When I was working with professor MF back in the day on her online course, all of my suggestions were overruled. And when things crashed, burned, went horribly, it was her on the line, not me... but I could have saved her the nightmare if she'd listened to me once in a while. And I had to listen to her cry and complain, but ... she made her choices, they weren't mine. In the end, things worked out for the class but I think it was rather a huge waste of time and a negative overall experience.

So I stopped trying for a good long time. Why bother?

This year, someone actually asked me to do something and I turned it down. My cute little Presbyterian Church asked me to be an Elder, and I said "No thanks, I'm over extended as is." I told then to ask Doug, because he wasn't doing any volunteer work (I am on our Boy Scout Troop Committee, I do a lot with them, and I just felt that my volunteer time was spoken for).

I thought about it then for a few days, and figured that I should say yes after all. So I called back and asked if the offer was still on the table. It was.

In February, I was "ordained" as an Elder. I didn't have to take a test or go to seminary. I had to attend a couple training meetings, and sit in on the Session a couple times before it was official.

Tomorrow night, I've been asked to give the meditation and prayer before the meeting. It is the first time I've had to do anything like this in a long time. My friend Greg's daughter provided a facebook posting with a verse that speaks to where I feel I am right now. And while I will not overshare my situation, I thought I'd work out some of the thoughts that will go into my devotion. Special thanks to Abby for providing the source code.

April 14 Session - Devotion & Prayer
Over the past few weeks, I've been sick. Not terminally ill, but sick. A lot of unrelated sicks that have added up to a great big sick. I even ended up in the emergency room because of some of it. I've had no fun. I hate being sick, I hate feeling helpless, I hate losing time in the day when I can be doing things other than sleeping or hanging out in bathrooms. I hate planning my day around "where is the bathroom going to be if I need it." It's been a rough month.

Suffice to say, I'm happy to be sitting here right now, and yes, I do know where the bathroom is.

But for as sick as I've been, there are those who are sicker. Thanks to Facebook, I've had news of friends who have been hospitalized, we've built prayer groups where family members post updates and we each type out our prayers and supplications for the friends in need.

The latest one is the daughter of my youth group director, Bob, and his wife Ann. Their girl Lauren is in her early twenties. She got sick, like me, only while being sick she managed to tear a hole in her esophagus and required immediate emergency care. A rush to the local hospital and a CAT scan later revealed the damage and an extra surprise.

A tumor on her gall bladder.

Surgery was scheduled to repair the esophagus, and remove the gall bladder. She currently is in a NYC hospital, and hopes are that the results of the biopsy on the gall bladder come back negative or benign. We should know tomorrow. Please pray that God's will is done in Lauren's life.

In talking with Ann, she was filled with praise for this event. Had her daughter not gotten sick, had she not torn her esophagus, they never ever would have known that there was a growth, tumor, problem with their otherwise extremely healthy daughter's body. If this is cancerous, or if something had happened where it went septic, exploded, no one would have been looking there, and she very well could have just been dead instead of hospitalized. Ann's praise and honest relief that this horrible event helped them avoid an even more horrible event humbled me and made me cry.

Funny way to look at it. But so incredibly true. And so I'm brought to Paul's letter to the Corinthians, where he gives us hope in light of illness. "Therefore, we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor 4:16-18)

Let's pray together.

God, through illness and wasting away we are reminded of our mortality. Through healing and strength renewal, we are reminded of your gift of life to us. Bless us with the ability to focus on the unseen, which sometimes is revealed to us by accident. Allow for us to use our times of health wisely to help those who are sick. Allow for us to use our times of sickness to allow for others to care for us and make us well. Bless us as we focus our energies towards the eternal instead of the fleeting. And give us your guidance this night as we work together as a team to do Your will in this meeting. By your grace alone, and through your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen

Saturday, April 09, 2011

About the Doctor

Again, I am about to HORRIBLY overshare. So if you aren't interested, do not read. I wish blogger had a "jump" where I could break the entry so this all doesn't appear on the front page. But then again, I did state in my first entry in this series that it is my intent to share so that others going through similar experiences won't feel as alone as I did. So... go away to somewhere safe if you don't wish to read.

I went to see the OBGYN on Thursday to follow up on the events of 2 weeks ago. The doctor I chose to see was part of the team that kept me from having Geoffrey prematurely 14 or so years ago. I had not seen an OBGYN because I get all my lady doctorin' and checkups from my family practitioner's office. He has a great staff, and I've never felt the need to go see anyone else. Nothing has ever been of issue, until now.

So it's been a while since I have seen this doctor. He asked me to recount the details of Geoff's delivery, and afterwards I asked him "do you remember me and that pregnancy?"

He honestly said, "Oh dear... I've seen a lot of women in my time."

Truth. I'm sure it is.

He is an Irishman with a sick and twisted sense of humor. When I was on bed rest in the hospital, I'd hear him coming down the hall doing his rounds, heading for my room, singing old Irish standards like "Wild Rover" and he'd get to my room and say "Any fine young Irish lass needs sung to on a daily basis."

Those two weeks were the only two weeks of my life where this fine young Irish lass was sung to on a daily basis. He'd also tell me naughty limericks.

This may not be on your list of criteria for a good doctor, but it is on mine. And I told him that I may not have made a lasting impression on him, but he did on me, and so that's why I chose to go back to him. He appreciated that.

So 14 or so years later, I'm on my back looking at the ceiling with a nurse named Denise by my side. He says to me as he's about to insert a 10 inch long piece of plastic to my body, "This will hurt, and you will blame Denise."

It hurt, and I did. "Aw ferchrissakes Denise!" I yelled "That freaking hurts!"

He laughed and said "This one is quick, she learns fast..." and then he chuckled "I remember you now."

The scary part of the procedure, which was to take a sample from my uterus to see if I had polyps or growths or cancer or aliens or whatever growing in my body, was when he said "Well, that's never happened before..."

"What do you mean?" I asked, and Denise leaned down to look.

"Well, your uterus is extremely large. Either that, or I just put this thing right through the top of it and perforated it, because it just kept going and going and going..."

"That would be a bad thing, if you perforated my uterus... wouldn't it?"

"Yes, and I think you'd know it because you'd kick me in the face and you wouldn't be blaming Denise for the pain you'd be in. So I don't think I perforated your uterus." He stated he did get what he needed to run the test, and told me that he wanted to do an ultrasound to see what the heck was up with the size. We have an appointment on May 16th to do so. I know it seems far far away, but that's the state of things I guess in OBGYN land.

He said that he couldn't SEE anything, no fibroids, no visible issues. He gave me a prescription for a pill that would stop my period if the events of 2 weeks ago happen 2 weeks from now. "Do not wait to fill this. Fill it today, and have it on hand. AND, should you need this, call me and do not hesitate. This is your get out of jail free card."

That sounded good to me.

He said that the amount of bleeding I experienced could be directly related to the size of the uterus. Obviously, if it is huge, it has more blood. The clots concerned him, and the inability to stop bleeding concerned him. They took blood samples to test to see if I am having any sort of blood clotting problems, and to check different hormone levels.

He called last night to say there was evidence of benign polyps on the sample that he took, and that is okay. Benign is good, and they're to be expected in a way. The ultrasound will tell us more. And at that point, we can discuss treatment, whether it is the pill, an IUD, an ablation procedure, or something more drastic. He said that "If I had one of these" (meaning a uterus) "I'd opt for the IUD. But that's just me. And what I know about stuff. But we'll come to a full conclusion after all the tests and evidence is in."

And that, dear friends, is the update about that.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Thank you, Jakob Dylan

"Here it comes and there it goes, the unbearable sound of the earth making men out of boys."

I heard a song tonight that I've never heard before. I was watching a DVR'ed episode of the Guitar Center series where they have artists perform and Nic Harcourt interviews them. We have several of these episodes from CAKE to Weezer to Jakob Dylan, so I thought I'd watch a few before they got deleted off the system due to lack of space. Our DVR does that and I'm always bummed out when it happens.

Jakob doesn't talk about his dad. He would do a good imitation of his father, I'm sure. He seems down to earth and honest. He isn't pretentious like the lead singer of CAKE. He isn't spiritually weird like Weezer dude. He just answers questions, and is kind of boring.

Until he sings.

"On Up the Mountain" was one of the songs he sang, with a lovely accompaniment by a female vocalist that I do not know. The words are almost cowboy poetry. Simple words about the wisdom of living up high the hill, and the sad solitude of people down in the valley. And he sings the above line about the unbearable sound of the earth making men out of boys... and I started to cry.

I've been so deeply moved lately by Geoff and my relationship with him over all these years. I had a wonderful time with him this weekend out on walks in the woods with dogs and sweatshirts slowly shed as we worked up warmth. Geoff was full of jokes and happiness, and the peepers in the pond were singing and making us aware of the wonderful onset of spring. It was a fantastic weekend.

"First you learn then you'll teach, about the bright, bright light making its way on up the mountain night and day."

Geoff got in huge trouble in school today. They were having a debate in English class and I'm not even sure of the TOPIC of the debate but he closed with some insensitive and over the top remarks. Rather sexist, and I think in the long term he was going for a laugh more than anything. He told me later he didn't mean it the way it came out. But he's got a detention now and hates himself.

"I am doomed to be alone the rest of my life. No girls will ever date me now after what I said. Not until I leave for college somewhere like New Zealand or something and make a new start."

You'll get tired and you'll get weak but you won't abandon your masterpiece.

I am not entirely sure that I'm looking at a masterpiece today. Over the weekend, yes. But we run into hiccups in the development of men out of boys, don't we?