Quitting.

So…I quit my nursing job. My last shift was the Friday before Thanksgiving. I wasn’t quite sure it was going to be my last shift until I was doing it. I was working with my favorite charge nurse and my favorite nurse tech and it was a smooth shift and it was the shift I wanted to end on. They’ve hired a bunch of new nurses and I could tell that they’d be fully staffed soon and they wouldn’t need me and I could also tell I needed to rest. I didn’t tell anyone it was my last shift except for my charge Astra who took me off the rest of the schedule – I had committed to shifts into January, but I couldn’t bear to continue going in. Of course, I can go back anytime, but if I do go back, I don’t think I’d go back to that floor, I need to try something new. I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever be a nurse again, so we’ll see.

There are many reasons for quitting – #1 is basically that I had had enough. I’m tired and need to refocus! Edda’s childcare situation still remains spotty – at least one of has to be home everyday, so we can’t both be working out of the house at the same time and as Jeremy’s travel starts picking up, I need to have more flexibility in my schedule. I also realized that I wasn’t practicing nursing enough – it is a practice and I wasn’t working enough to really get into the groove of things. Like if I don’t give blood for 6-8 weeks and then I need to do it emergently- the protocols can change within that time period and then you just need to know that it changed. So in order to keep up with the changing protocols/equipment and processes, I felt like I needed to work half time for at least 3-4 months which I wasn’t willing to do. Also, I want to spend more time with people who are important to me! Which is what I’m doing with my goofball pals. This is a particularly unflattering photo of me, but it is what it is.

Christine, a nurse on the unit, came by with her dog Apollo (and the rest of her extended family) to take a look at the basement apartment to maybe rent? We’ll see.

Korean BBQ and gifts.

I went with Rachel to Ellicott City to have Korean BBQ. I usually don’t like to travel so far (45 min, lol) for food, but Rachel insisted and then said the drive counted as part of the outing and she was treating! She asked if I had eaten breakfast and I said that I had and then she said that I must not be hungry and therefore, we needed to sit in the car in the parking lot and wait until I was properly hungry enough to eat enough. I protested – I was hungry! (I was.) I should have clarified that I ate a small breakfast. She ordered completely in Korean and I just needed to wait for all the small dishes to arrive in front of me. And proceeded to eat enough to twice fill my belly. Very nice.

And then we went to the Lotte market where she got me these delicious red bean fish-shaped pastries. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more fond of red bean paste, so I loved these. Also, in this photo, my hair is so grey! Grey enough to match my coat. Rachel also always tells me that I need to dye my hair. And then I laugh. And then I come home and ask Jeremy if he thinks I should dye my hair – you know, to maintain the sexiness – and he laughs and says – you know, you could dye it dark blue, purple or red and then it would seem black in regular room light, but in the sunlight, it would have a hue close to the dyed color. Honestly, I can’t dye my hair because I’m trying to keep the age-appearance gap between me and Jeremy not too great. He looks like an old man.

And then I got as a gift a baby plant! I’m going to her daughter’s wedding in Miami in April – I’m very excited because I otherwise have no reason to go to Miami (not even as a layover) and it would have remained unvisited during my lifetime (I also try to avoid Florida). I want to take this guided kayaking trip in the Everglades, but to get the guide, I needed to find a partner (at least 2 need to sign up) and Rachel had a suggestion of a friend of hers who might go with me. I could do the kayak trip unguided as they do rent kayaks and the five mile course is marked with sticks, but I’m afraid of the alligators. If I get eaten by an alligator, I’d like someone to be right there watching and then immediately call someone. I’d rather it not be – oh, where is Doris? She said she’d be back by 2, but I dunno. Maybe she’s lost or went shopping or is now living in the belly of an alligator who did not eat breakfast that day.

Using cranberries.

The baking continues. I really do enjoy baking and I could reasonably take it up as a hobby as the ingredients are cheap, I can do it at home while minding Edda, and there are endless techniques (just for sugar alone!) and you get a beautiful result, but then you have a big cake just for us to eat which is unfortunate. When we visited Dan O in Delaware, I was a bit jealous because they live on the campus of a boarding school so you bake a pie and bring it to a dorm and it just gets eaten so quickly and not by the same people each time.

To use up the cranberries, I made this cranberry gingerbread cake. Very good, almost completely eaten as of this morning.

Second thanksgiving.

We had 2nd thanksgiving last night with our regular Tuesday night crew. Jeremy couldn’t resist the turkey that was on sale at the grocery store and we texted everyone and asked if they were sick of turkey yet and if they would be open to 2nd thanksgiving and my favorite answer came from Sofie who said – bring on the gobble! Really, we had also forgotten the cranberries at our house so the Philly turkey feast was without the sugary red topping and Jeremy, therefore, wanted a do-over (and to use all the cranberries up).

This was a delicious meal, Jeremy did a fantastic job! It’s not like the last meal on actual Thanksgiving wasn’t delicious, it’s just that Jeremy was cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen with new people in the mix and I was concerned that everyone was having a good time, so distracted enough to not put my full focus on the food. But this is our usual Tuesday night crowd and we are good with each other, so the food was the star!

I can’t let the final Thanksgiving blog post end without mentioning my brother, Donald. I miss him and hope that someday in the future that we will be back in touch.

Thanksgiving wrap up!

We (me, Jeremy, Edda and Chris) drove up to Kimberton on Wed, leaving our house at about 10 am. We had lunch at a drive thru McDonalds and made it to Bob and Katherine’s place by mid-afternoon. There were a number of musicians there who were staying a few days for a music residency program that Bob is setting up. It was nice to see Bihan again especially, she was living at the house in 2017 when Edda had her spinal fusion surgery. Bob led us on a tour of the campus and we saw cows (I didn’t take photos of the cows, sorry!)

That night, we had dinner at the local Chinese restaurant run by Vietnamese folks. Emy had showed up by that time and we had a lively pre-Thanksgiving dinner – it was quite busy – lots of take out business.

After staying at a local pet-friendly hotel (Elka came with us), I drove to the Philly airport to pick up Vince who had taken a red-eye to be with us for three days. He’d never visited Bob and Katherine’s place and though this year, I think he could have managed to go to a friend’s house, last year, he was sitting alone in his dorm room still trying to establish friendships just after his incredibly isolating freshman covid year. I wanted him home this year, even if home meant an industrial kitchen an hour outside of downtown Philly.

My parents and Robert and Ying showed up mid afternoon from Maryland and went to work in the kitchen mashing potatoes. Jeremy most of the dishes, kudos to him as I know it’s difficult to host in a kitchen that isn’t your own. He brought his own knives, potatoes, various other kitchen supplies, but we forgot the cranberries!

And then we headed home on Friday morning to be greeted by Isabella who hung out with Edda on Friday night and Saturday.

Hike.

The day after my mother’s birthday party, I organized a hike. I had texted Chris a few weeks before the visit about what he’d like to do while here. Museums? Downtown? Shopping? and he answered with my favorite answer – a hike, something that would be very different than Houston. I was excited! The only takers were Chris and Ying, my aunt-in-law. Jeremy needed to work and mind Edda’s early arrival home from the last half day before the holiday, Robert had a bum ankle, my parents demurred. At the birthday dinner, I mentioned that I wanted to take them to the Billy Goat Trail which would take about 4 hours and would involve some rock scrambling (I knew this was a little long and a little challenging, but it is really my favorite and so close to the house and on a winter weekday, not at all crowded). Ying, first was kind of like – 4 hours! and then she said – yes! let’s do it! And we had a great time, one of the highlights of the week for me.

Ying is an enthusiastic photo-taker, we stopped a lot. The weather was gorgeous, I was a little worried they’d be too cold coming from Texas, but it was sunny and in the 50s, we were shedding our coats during the hike.

The nice thing about a hike is that you can talk or not talk and it’s totally fine. But we talked a lot! Chris talked a lot about college and his high school experience – some discussions about soccer and cheating (one or the other, not cheating in soccer). Ying and I talked about her successful cancer treatments from a few years ago and that she wants to go hiking more to see the colorful leaves in the fall. So we’ll work on that, I’ve have some ideas and even though I love fall and the leaves, I’ve never been on a real leaf peeping trip.

There was a shortcut that would have cut off about 1/3 of the hike that I offered up, but no one wanted to take the shortcut. There were also some signs that mentioned about challenging parts ahead and Ying would read the sign and then just smile and say –let’s go! So we went. This part was the most scrambling part…

I’m listening to Lab Girl, a book about a botanist. I thought I had tried reading this before and didn’t like it much, but the audiobook is enchanting and mesmerizing and I can not get enough of it. A good scientist and a beautiful writer! Sigh. There is a chapter, early in the book before she became a scientist, about when she was a pharmacy tech in a hospital in which the juxtaposition of “saving a person’s life” and “incredibly repetitive” actions within the hospital was captured very well. I’ve read enough of these scientists-coming-of-age books to realize that I could have never really made it as an academic scientist. I just never really had the stay-up-all-night desire to do endless experiments, most of which would fail. There would also be the fundraising part which, I think, would have been brutal and unrelenting and would have crushed my soul.

Birthday & updates.

We had a lovely thanksgiving week which started with celebrating my mom’s 81st birthday on Monday night. My uncle Robert (my father’s youngest brother) and his family flew in from Houston for the week that day. I credit my uncle for reaching out to me earlier this year, we are usually not in touch with each other, but he indicated that he wanted to hang out with us some more (why don’t we have Thanksgiving together?) – hence the invitation to Thanksgiving, which I would have happily extended years prior if I had known they wanted to come! Sometimes I think people don’t want to hang out with me, so I’m bad at inviting people to do things with me unless they hit me over the head with – yes, I want to hang out with you. I suppose usually, for this birthday occasion, we would have gone to a nice DC restaurant as is my parents’ natural instinct, but as we are still figuring out our restaurant behavior post-covid, therefore, my parents wanted the party at the house. Besides us, there was Mike and Sofie and Ginny (our new-ish weekday caregiver) and her partner Felix. Lauren, my friend and chef/baker extraordinaire, catered the event.

I forgot to take photos of Lauren’s delicious and beautiful plated courses which was entirely my own fault, but I did manage to take a photo of the cake which was so beautiful and decadent (raspberry/lemon).

Here’s Lauren and my mom during the birthday singing.

I had bought flowers for my mother, but I forgot to give them to her before the party ended! It was lovely celebration and it kicked off a nice week of family time. My mother is amazing!

On Saturday night (previous to the birthday party) we had dinner with Julie, our strength coach – she worked with Jeremy last winter and now I’m going to latch on. I’m going to work with her through the winter on lifting, hoping to really get some upper body strength – something which I basically neglected during the hours and hours of running that I’ve been doing and can’t be ignored as I age. She is very excited and hopefully I’ll learn about strength programming. I essentially took a month off of any exercise after the marathon and I’m ready to start again. I fall into Julie’s area of expertise, which is middle aged women who want to get stronger. They’ll be a slight nutrition component as well. Jeremy is well into protein supplementation and various other things which I am open to, but I can’t hear it from him (as it all tastes bad), I need to hear it from someone outside the marriage. I gained a few pounds while training for the marathon which I’m not worried about, but I’d rather it be muscle and not fat. I also talked to Paul today to figure out what the next running goal is going to be – so interesting things to think about.

During the dinner with Julie, we talked about how Haverford made it to the D3 national cross country meet (which they have done for the past two decades or so) and I asked how MIT did and Jeremy scoffed – I don’t think MIT made it to nationals and then we checked and lo and behold, MIT is #1 and where is Haverford? oh yea, 13th.

Weekend update.

My friend Rachel came by and gave me a gargantuan bag of pink lady apples – a bag so heavy, it would have certainly gotten the $60 surplus weight charge it I attempted to fly it to New Orleans as checked luggage. I gave a bunch away, but still had at least thirty in my possession, so I decided to make tart tatin inspired by Claire Saffitz who had an incredibly complicated recipe that would have taken days and days including making a rough puff pastry. I dismissed Claire’s approach for a straight shot approach (NYT) which still took me a couple of hours plus. A simpler apple pie of sorts, it came out slightly overdone. Nonetheless, I was very proud of myself. One has to caramelize the apples in a pan, then cover it with puff pastry (store bought) and then put the whole pan in the oven and cook everything together and then flip the pastry upside down. Jeremy was shocked that I had caramelized the apples so so deeply (perhaps one of those shocking moments in an old married couple timeline where your spouse surprises you – who are you? do I even know you?), he thought (and he is right), I tend to err on the side of undone-ness. It’s more likely that I end up with apples too crunchy and raw and pale. Jeremy declared it perfect (a kind husband he is) and we had a bit of heavy cream in the fridge to dress it up on the fly. I texted the photo to Rachel (semi-reluctantly as it is not styled properly to look its best) and she was like – are those bananas?

I spent some time on Saturday watching Sofie test for her black belt in taekwondo. It was at the dojo within walking distance of the house (next to the ice cream store). I’d never been to one of these things and it was interesting and I’m so proud of Sofie. I do remember Alice grumbling about the endless bits of equipment to be bought for such an endeavor, the pads, the number of belts, the various uniforms, but I saw all of them in use happily and necessarily. Mike leaned over at some point during the skills demonstration when Sofie was sparring with a partner and asked if Sofie had ever performed the move that she was doing out on the floor on me – a takedown of sorts where I would have ended up on the floor after having my arm wrenched in directions it was not suppose to go. Wide eyed – I said, no! never! and he looked at me and said – it’s really scary! yipes! At the end ceremony, a medal, dignified certificate and most surprisingly, as set of nunchucks for the next level of class because though you think black belt is the highest level, it is merely the introduction to the more senior, serious ranks. So much wooden board breaking! Yah!

Emboldened by the tart tatin, I moved on to yeasted bread – challah. I mentioned before that I often fail at yeasted breads, but this one turned out very beautifully and I’ve been eating it throughout the day – though I think I still prefer store bought.

I must be in the Thanksgiving mood as my baking streak continues.

Books and cats.

I loved Cloud Cuckoo Land. An enjoyable read, though it took me more than a month to get through – I’ve read a few of his other books, Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See, both in 2015, but I think I liked this one the most. Beautiful language + complicated intertwining storylines = <3. I’ve been “reading” more audiobooks these days, but I’d like to think that I can still read “paper” on my phone. You can see I’m planning on reading The House in the Cerulean Sea and I’m listening to the Plot which I find a little plodding, I might not finish before I have to return/renew it.

I thought Sherah might appreciate this text exchange with Vincent yesterday about my portrait photo on the blog entry:

Various updates.

I tried to take a passport-like photo of myself before giving up and going to Walgreens to get it done. But in these photos, I look…old. My eyes aren’t quite looking at the same spot, my skin is slightly mottled. The grey hair. The old lady shirt.

I’ve been trying to get a new stroller for Edda. Because of who-knows-what now… pandemic-supply issues, computer issues or staffing issues, Convaid, the manufacturer of the strollers is behind schedule so I waited about 6 months for this stroller. Yesterday we went in for a fitting and we were trying a new model of stroller which has a more tilted fit, but was more difficult to get Edda in/out of. So I went to the appointment in the morning and then I decided to refuse delivery and then I took Jeremy and Edda in the afternoon for a second trial and we decided to return it and wait another 6 months for delivery? I like the color at least.

Sofie and Mike came over for dinner last night and brought fried chicken, yummy yummy and then we played a mean came of Jenga.