Monday, June 22, 2009

Medical Journal (this one is dedicated to Raven.)

One word.... Hypochondriac. Anyone who can count themselves in the ranks of individuals who can claim that word as an appropriate descriptive term for themselves understands the weight of the insanity it can generate. Allow me to elaborate. I am a hypochondriac. Tried and true... since I was 9 years old and saw a made for TV movie that featured a young boy dying of leukemia. After watching the movie and before going to bed that night I wrote in my diary something to this effect... "Goodbye cruel world! This is probably the last time you will ever hear from me. I die. I dieeeeeeeeee." Except that the next day (in spite of a lot of begging and pleading with my Mom that I was too sick) I did get up and go to school and somehow all these years later I am STILL ALIVE! It's a miracle really. A medical mystery. There have been many a medical mystery over the years since. Most all of them created and solved by me, myself and I. There have been a few that were legit... like the time I ended up in the ER after getting both a flu and a pneumonia shot. I was allergic to one or the other but they don't know which because a brilliant nurse had administered both shots into my right arm. That was an "I wish I was dead... please just let me die" sort of experience. My right arm literally became the essence of pain.... the ground zero of agony. And the 103 degree fever was the icing on the cake. There was also the 99.9% incident. I really don't do well with prescription meds and seem to have a really high sensitivity to them.... in this particular case I had to fast for three days and then go in for some x-rays where they run some sort of dye through your guts so they can see what is going on in there. Because I have a lot of allergies and drug sensitivities they used a special dye on me that they assured me 99.9% of people are fine with. Yeah. As I laid on the x-ray table under a heavy blanket I started to get itchy. I told the attending nurse... "I feel really itchy!" and she said "Yes, those blankets are kind of rough." and I said "No! I feel like I am going to freak out! I am REALLY ITCHY!" and I guess it was the tone in my voice that made her stop what she was doing and walk over to me. She flipped the blanket back and I was covered over my entire body with enormous hives. They proceeded to give me the equivalent of three Benadryl (on my three days fast empty stomach) and hand me back to my Mother. I was like a monkey with brain damage for the next two days. Anyway.... you see where I am going with this? I am not a good patient. I get weird things wrong with me. A lot of times no one can solve the problem. A lot of times what the doctors do to me just makes me feel worse. Also... I obsess. Like these past few days....

I have had a weird, tight, hot sore throat for about a week now. Yesterday it took an odd turn and manifested as a rock hard lump way down in my throat that felt like it was crushing my wind pipe. Also the glands under my tongue were sore. Weird. And gross. And a mystery to be solved. This my friends is where Google and Web MD come in. If you want to live dangerously Google your symptoms. See if you are man enough to take the results. I DARE you to look at the Google images files on say... swollen salivary glands and not break out in to a cold sweat. So this is what I do. I spend hours online researching my symptoms and the end result is me flung out across the bed crying because I am sure I am going to die any minute. (Imagine Billy through all of this.) For REAL though, yo.... at three in the morning when you are laying there with a big painful lump in your throat, can't sleep and have a pounding headache (from all the crying) it's hard not to sort of loose your shit and just become a big, hot mess.

I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. so I could get up and call first thing to the clinic up in Fort Bragg and get an appointment for today.... which I did. Then I went back to bed and slept until almost 11 (the appointment is not until late afternoon.) And guess what? When I woke up at 11 the lump in my throat was gone. Of course. So now what? Do I go to the clinic? I can tell you right now that if I cancel the appointment then at exactly 5 pm this afternoon the lump will return with a steely vengeance. The lump BTW according to Web MD is the beginning of my grapefruit sized goiter. Billy's theory is that we are breathing poison Hemlock pollen (because the plant is growing prolifically all around our camp area) and we are being slowly poisoned to death by it. All these years with me has inflicted Billy with a touch of the drama as well apparently.

Anyway... I do have (clinically diagnosed, not made up my me) hypothyroidism and it IS possible that all this crap is stemming from that. So as archaic as it may sound a goiter is really not out of the question for me. See if you can find one other person in your life that says THAT to you today.

We are supposed to be hitting the road tomorrow. This is not news that I have shared here yet. I am not going to go into full details right now but we are leaving Mendocino earlier than we had planned. We may not make it out tomorrow, it may be Wednesday instead seeing as how it's 1 p.m. and we are both laying around in here like slugs doing nothing. Hitching up to tow the trailer after you have been stationary for awhile can sometimes seem overwhelmingly daunting. Sometimes it is great fun and you can't wait to go... for a variety of reasons this is not one of those times. Mostly it is that I want to feel better before heading out and because we can't yet figure out the puzzle of how the Hell all our stuff ever fit in the back of the truck in the first place. I may end up holding our Coleman gas grill in my lap when we leave.

I'll try to keep you updated on what develops. It's going to be a nutty week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's an Apricot Granola Tart Thing!

Yeah. You can't leave me at home alone all day (Billy worked at the park today while I stayed home sick) and not have me hit the kitchen out of boredom at some point. My sore throat did not stop me from sitting here eyeballing a big bowl of fresh apricots that needed to get used up and quick before they all went to mush. Pretty soon the apricots were lookin' back at me like "You gonna do somethin' or WHAT?" So I pulled out my two tart pans and mixed up a batch of granola-esque dough stuff (how do you like that for technical terminology?) and mixed up the apricots with fresh blueberries and a bunch of spices like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger and stuck the whole mess in the oven.

The base for this thing is a cup of mixed almonds, walnuts and pecans
1 cup of 5 grain cereal
1 cup of wheat flour
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of ginger syrup
a pinch of sea salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

I ground the nuts and the 5 grain cereal up in my food processor until it was a chunky meal consistency. Then I added the other stuff in and mixed it until it was fully combined and spread it in the tart pans. Easy. The apricots are in a base of about three tablespoons of apricot preserves, a tablespoon of ginger syrup, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. I baked at 350 for about 25 minutes (but my oven is whacked... everything takes longer than it should in a normal oven.) The end result is a very breakfast-y type item. It would be great served with a dollop of yogurt on top. Or vanilla ice cream. Or ginger ice cream... or cardamom ice cream... or any damned ice cream really. You get the picture...

Now we shall see if Billy is brave enough to eat my germy, sickie tart. If he chickens out then I get the whole lot to myself. Just what I need.

Garlic and Plums

This is not a post about some fabulous dinner we made... or are going to be making. It's me immersed in natural remedies for sore throats. I am kickin' a fierce one right now... one of those where it feels like someone has wedged a couple of hot coals coated in broken glass at the back of your throat. Awesome. So last night I began my bizarre rituals in battle against the sick monster.

1. Chop up 4 cloves of raw garlic into a jar, cover it with honey and let it sit overnight. Take the honey with a teaspoon in the a.m. The garlic has anti-bacterial properties and the honey is soothing.

2. Gargle with very warm water infused with cayenne pepper. The pepper has anaesthetic properties and brings relief from the pain.

3. Slowly eat an umeboshi plum. These are Japanese pickled plums and they are highly regarded as having a wealth of health benefits including being antibacterial. Be warned... they are the saltiest little buggers on the planet.

4. Drink Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea til your are blind.

5. Also drink a hot tea made from water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey and a dash of cayenne pepper til you really can't even believe it anymore.

6. Try to restrain the feeling of impending doom over the fear that you may have the same thing you had last winter in Santa Fe that nearly killed you.

Today I have big plans to lay down. For hours. Yesterday was spent cleaning the inside of the Airstream so it actually feels pretty decent in here right now. We even cleaned out Rudy's Den of Iniquity under the table... much to his confusion and dismay.

So everyone please say a little voodoo juju for my hell fire and brimstone throat condition.... and hopefully I will be back in the saddle again in no time. Have a groovy weekend y'all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smokin' Hot

Every now and then we get a hankerin' for some wickedly hot, spicy food. Today was one of those days. I scored three old issues of Vegetarian Times at the thrift today for free and it just so happened that one of them had a recipe for Chipotle-Bean Burgers with Cilantro Sauce in it. We whipped them up for dinner tonight along with some fresh salsa and served them on corn tortillas. They were kind of a pain in the ass to make in the trailer because it is one of those meals that requires little bowls of prep stuff to be made in small batches and set aside and stuff has to chill in the fridge, etc. so it got kind of ridiculous in here for about an hour. But in the end it was worth it. They were SO GOOD! And they were also SO FLIPPING HOT! It was the hottest food I have eaten since leaving New Mexico a year ago. HERE is the recipe from the Veg Times website. I modified the cilantro sauce a bit by using a jalapeno cheddar bread and a red pepper in mine. So my sauce was orangey red instead of green. We had a hunk of smoked sharp cheddar that was a perfect compliment to the chipotle flavor in the burgers.

Billy cooked the burgers out on the grill....

I supervised... (but don't tell Billy I said so) whoever is wearing the apron is the boss in my book.

The only thing I would say to someone making these is make sure you cook the burger mixture down til it's good and dry and then don't skimp on the time in the fridge to set the patties. They are tough to flip on the grill if they are too wet or not chilled well enough.

I don't know if we ran in to a particularly rare and fierce batch of chipotle but holy hell it was hot.
It's a good thing we had bought a bottle of Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum to make Pina Colada's with otherwise dinner could have been tragic. Instead it was deeeelicious.

I am now impatiently waiting for a new tray of ice cubes to freeze so I can have another pina colada. Dammit. It's gonna take a lot longer than I am happy to wait.

For anyone following the Rudy Foxy Foot Saga (outside of the blog) he is doing OK. I neglected to post that there indeed WAS and possibly still IS a foxtail in his paw. The day after the initial vet visit everything went downhill and his foot developed a big blister on top of it so back to the vet we went. It was an awful experience... Rudy got "probed" and I nearly passed out as a result. They found nothing and put him on an antibiotic and sent us home to watch and wait. A few days later his foot seems to be getting a bit better. We have no idea if the intruding grass seed has come out or if it is still in there. I spoke to the vet and she agreed to wait a few days to see what developed before we bring him back in for a check up. Meanwhile we have to soak his paw in Epsom salts and he hates it. I wish I could soak my damn paws in Epsom salts. The little dude just needs to realize he is getting a sort of spa treatment and then maybe his attitude could change. I guess a gaping, sore, open wound may not feel as neat in salty water as what I am talking about though. Hmm. Anyway... we took his little ass to the dog park today and he caroused with three other dogs there for awhile without a problem so I would say he is on the mend for sure. Thanks to all who have sent him get well soon wishes.

Now... to go check on those ice cubes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Foxy Foot

The canine saga continues. Although this time it is Mother Nature who sucks and not Rudy. I can honestly say that Rudy has been a champ this past week with his manners and his attitude has improved greatly since his precious tennis ball was removed from the premises. So... why does Mother Nature suck? Foxtails. That's why. California also sucks for having like 90 zillion of them covering it's landscape. We have reached the time of the year when these prolific grasses have dried out and have gone to seed so the ground is literally covered with them. For those of you east of the Mississippi who don't know what a foxtail is....

It's a type of barley grass that has a seed pod that can seriously F-Up your dog. The seed pods are barbed and if they hook in to your pets coat in worst case scenarios they can work their way all the way in to the lungs, heart, cause blood infections... well, you get the idea. It's bad news. Rudy had a foxtail incident once before in Utah after we left him for the weekend at a doggie dude ranch so we could go hiking in Zion National Park (no dogs allowed on park trails.) His paw got really infected and the foxtail which had entered through the bottom of his paw ended up coming out the top. It was a seriously ouchy mess. So the other night when we noticed that Roodles was paying insane amounts of attention to his back left paw licking it and actually cramming his entire foot in his mouth and sort of chewing on it we knew what was up right away. We pinned him down and found a tiny little nasty spot in a swollen area between his paw pads where it looked like a foxtail had crept under the skin. CRAP!

Yesterday morning I called a vet up in Fort Bragg and got an appointment to bring him in to get the thing out of his paw. Meanwhile Rudy was doing the three legged dog act hopping around and not putting any weight on that back paw. To tighten up the end of this story... in a nutshell.... we went to the vet and we got his piggy little ass upon the examing table and as we all leaned in to check the paw we found nothing. No swelling, no funky business.... nada. A miraculous healing had taken place apparently on the car ride in to town. Great news! But a stupid sort of moment for us as we stood there like idiots with our perfectly fit and trim dog on the table. So yeah... we found out Rudy weighs 20 pounds and got confirmation on the fact that "he is really a cute little dog" as we paid our bill at the front desk. Ahhhh well. Better safe than sorry.

On the way home we stopped off at Jug Handle and let old foxy foot have some fun for being a good boy at the vet. And we let our brains shut off for an hour and just soaked in the beauty of the rocky beach. It was a really pretty day yesterday. Here are some shots I took while out there...

Rudy in exploration mode... he's a brave little bugger.

This is my absolute favorite shot from yesterday. The dichotomy of it is so cool. It looks like a surreal painting to me somehow. Rudy is caught in the corner in dark shadow on the craggy rocks with turbulent waters surrounding him while Billy is laying back completely at ease out on a big sun soaked's a yin and yang sort of thing... see what I mean? You will probably have to click through on the pic to be able to spot Billy in the distance.

Billy and his Magical Seaweed Lasso.....

Close up of the magical seaweed lasso stuff.....

We call this "The Stink Roll."

Chasing sea birds along the shoreline...

And as always.... the boys share a deep philosophical moment on the edge of the vast Pacific Ocean.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Canine Boot Camp Featuring Snake Dentists

Ahhhhh. Dog people of the world unite! Do you have a dog? Does your dog produce any of the following side effects? Headaches, itching, nausea, abrupt fits of cussing, the tender feelings of the beginnings of mental break down? Or do you have one of those dogs? Meaning a dog that is not really a dog at all but a bizarre, rarely seen entity known loosely on the streets as "a good dog?"

At our house as you all know we have Rudy. Good dog? Rarely (a funny dog is different than a good dog.) Especially lately. We are working against our surroundings here in this camp ground to keep him trained and tolerable. After three months in this location he has learned to bark at every single noise he hears outside (never used to do that and I am not going to go in to why he has developed that behavior because my brains will leak out my left ear if I try to talk about it) and the lack of contact with a wide variety of other dogs seems to create such hard core tension in him that he is like a tightly wound spring ready to snap every time we take him out for a spin around town or on a trail. He cries constantly the whole time he rides in the truck (also, never used to do that) in anticipation of wherever we are headed. He has also arrived at a moment in his life when he has developed attachments to certain toys that are causing him to act like a depressed, rabid lunatic. Last night we finally had to take "the precious" away from him once and for all. I am now almost certain that Tolkien must have had a terrier who had a tennis ball who caused the inspiration for the character of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Anyway.... what I am trying to say here is that it has become a full time job trying to keep this dawg in line of late.

We took the tennis ball away because Rudy was getting overly protective of it and he would literally hole up in his crate with it for hours like a troll. At night he would bring it on our bed and circle around us like a wolf growling and taunting us with it (like we want it... dudes, the thing smells like toe cheese.) So last night we orchestrated a fake out move and snatched it while he was not looking and Billy put it in a container out in our little storage shed. We have a hidden back stock of goofy dog toys that we rotate through in times of need. Last night we called upon Mr. Snake to come to the rescue. It was a brilliant success.

A pleasant introduction was made... both parties were in fine spirits and ready to have a good time.

Little did we know Mr. Snake is also a highly skilled dentist... so we allowed him to do an oral exam. Lucky for Rudy he had no cavities. Although I did see a look cross Mr. Snake's face that read "Wow, dude.... baaaaad breath, yo!"

After an hour or so of rough housing Rudy and Mr. Snake were the best of friends posing for this portrait as proof.

So our daily doggie boot camp will continue. We went to the beach this morning and Rudy had an unfortunate incident with a 6 month old puppy that was three times his size. Puppies don't really get it yet and can be a bit too nutty when they engage with another dog in play. This one was slamming Rudy around and Rudy freaked and they ended up in a weird sort of fight where the bigger dog was pinning Rudy on his back and snapping at his face and Rudy was trying to be in full blown "I may be little but I am gonna whoop your ass!" mode but could not even get up or out from under the other dog. It was really awful to witness on a human level but not really a dangerous moment in the dog's reality I don't think. The other dog owner then called Rudy "an instigator." I am going to go ahead right here and say that I think at least 75% of dog owners we meet are idiots about dogs. And being that I have an uncontrollable hillbilly temper I of course told him very loudly that nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of Rudy's life (and really, honestly it hasn't) therefore implying that it was his dog's fault. It was not really anybodies fault. It was just dogs. Sigh.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

All Quiet on the Western Bundt

Another early summer weekend is just about past. It was mighty quiet here in Mendo... unusually so. We worked yesterday at the visitor's center from noon til 4 and it was deader than a doornail. I wonder if this is an accurate forecast for the coming season in general? Is it going to be really slow and quiet? Suits me... but I am sure the screw is really turning for all the local business owners. I feel for all of them. I know the B & B's are struggling to fill their rooms. I am sure that part of that is that we have a crapload of them here and so somebody has to be the low man on the totem pole and suffer through these rough times.

Today marked our first of 5 days off in a row from the Ford House. I cooked a big breakfast of eggs with fresh market veggies cooked in a sauce of white wine, mustard and fresh herbs and we gobbled that up with a sourdough baguette. Then I embarked upon a cake I have been wanting to try my hand it. Somehow the baking of this cake devoured my entire afternoon. I fell into some kind of bundt pan black hole. There is a hole in the center of a bundt pan... so in theory... it is possible that it houses another dimension. And I went there. Today. But now I am back and we have this cake that I baked. It's all a little like Martha Stewart meets Star Trek. Cool.

The cake is a Double Ginger Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Ginger Infused Strawberries out of the April issue of Bon Appetit (click through for the recipe.) It turned out great except I am pretty sure the food stylists at the magazine photo shoot sprinkled the top of their cake with more raw sugar for their picture. When mine came out of the bundt pan the raw sugar was gone...presumably melted into the cake batter. I so wanted my cake to be all crunchy and sparkly looking like theirs! Dammit! I could have made an effort to pack some sugar on the thing for looks but I figure it already has about a zillion calories so more sugar would really have been overkill in that department. This thing is made with chopped up candied ginger in the batter so you really need to love ginger to love the cake.

I have to gloat that I grabbed my fabulous new bundt pan from a thrift store up in Fort Bragg for 5 bucks. I would never have one in my possession otherwise (they usually run around $35 for this particular one.) We have room for a big heavy metal bundt pan in here like we have room for a donkey in our shower but HEY. Whatever. The more the merrier.

Now it's time to let my brain go on auto pilot for a few hours. Maybe walk the canine over to the beach... see what kind of a sunset Mendo can conjure this evening. Have a good night y'all.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Avoiding Scurvy and Toting Poo

Every time I start feeling like I might try to gouge my eyes out with a teaspoon due to lack of sunshine I have to get my shoes on and make it out on to the headlands and dazzle my brains with the flowers. They fix me up. They fill the empty spot in me that wants summer to come so desperately. They say to me "Hey man.... this IS SUMMER. Get right with it or go home and gouge your eyes out with a teaspoon, yo."

I am hoping they last it out for at least another month or so. I need them. I'm like a sailor lost at sea who is comin' down with scurvy. The flowers are my last hope. Once they are gone I am sure to develop a goiter or something. It'll all go down hill fast I am sure of it. It's a good thing I am just finishing up reading Deep Survival. Maybe I will write a novel about a girl who barely survives three horrific months through a summer of endless fog and temperatures that never breach 60 degrees. Or maybe I should just shut the Hell up and appreciate the fact that I get to look at this every day....

Obviously, things could be much, much worse. One of the best things about walking this section of the headlands is the natural soundtrack that goes along with it. There are a few massive rocks just off shore that are absolutely covered with sea birds all the time. They are all cackling and carrying on and the sound sort of resembles a laugh track.... it sounds like a bunch of people cracking up constantly. Here's a shot from quite a way back from the rocks... you can more so see the spectacular amount of bird poop on the sheer face of the rock wall than the birds themselves, but this is where they hang out anyway. All those wee little black dots are birds.

Rudy of course loves to walk out there. There's lots of stuff to sniff and pee on. He can make believe that he is really on a major adventure... and inevitably he poops as far away from a trash bin as possible so that I get to carry a sack of poo with me for the remainder of the walk. Really lovely.

Again... reminding myself.... the flowers, the flowers! Who needs the sun?! By the way... I am fully aware that scurvy is not from lack of sunshine. I just like the feel of slingin' that old timey ailment around right now.

We have visitors from Illinois coming by tomorrow as they pass through on a road trip vacation. Then a few days in a row of work at the Ford House so I may miss a day or two of posting but I will try to get something up before the weekend. Cheers all!