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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
I’m feeling poorly this morning because of my shingles shot (which I often write as singles shot). I should take a Motrin and lie down. I’ll do both soon enough. I’m so old – look at my text string with my 50 year old friend.
I also failed to get into the potential buying line for Taylor Swift tickets. She’s not coming to DC, but to Philly or Pittsburgh. Honestly, I think if I did get into line for this and also did manage to get tickets, I would have needed to give them away to lots of young women who are clamoring to go. I’m not clamoring to go. It’s a mix of it’s too much trouble, it’s too much money (I’d have to book a hotel!) and maybe I feel like I don’t deserve it. Who knows. Anyways, it doesn’t matter, this waitlist is a harder waitlist to get off of than the Harvard waitlist. I’ll just wait to see Tay-Tay when she’s 50 and I’m 70. xoxo.
I spent some time napping yesterday. Elka came an found me and curled up next to me. Jeremy snapped some photos. Classic – my favorite pastime. Pokemon Go running on my phone.
My doggie sleeping next to/on me.
I also spent some time making St. Louis gooey butter cake. I learned about this particular regional dessert from youtube (where else?) and had wanted to make it for a long time, but it does take a long time to make because it’s a yeasted dessert – meaning I make a doughy layer and let it rise for three hours and then I put a seperate topping on it and then bake it for another 35 minutes or so. I was a little worried because I always have trouble with yeast, things never really rise predictably for me. I have had much trouble with challah and focaccia. One of the steps in the recipe called for a 10 minute mixing of the yeasted dough and wait for it to form a ball and pull from the sides of the mixing bowl, but that never happened. It still remained stuck to the bowl after 12 minutes of mixing, so I sighed and credited the yeast curse and just proceeded with the rest of the recipe.
Everyone loved it (so satisfying when people love something you make, especially when it is such a rare occurrence for me) and there is only this one slice left at the end of the night which I saved for after my fasting blood draw and my shingles shot this morning and it was delicious!!
I had a terrible shift on Friday. I had a patient I needed to call a stat team for and it took 2-3 hours of concerted single-focused effort from starting to worry about the patient (who I wasn’t worried about at 8 am) until I had transferred them to another unit and given report to the next nurse. The other 4 patients of mine could not be properly attended to by me during that time – though the charge nurse found cover for me as needed, and therefore, I spent the rest of the shift after the stat team apologizing for my poor service – a worried mother, another pretty sick patient who spent the day throwing up, two patients with delayed discharges and angry ride-givers. Ha ha. At least a certain patient said to me at the end of the shift – I’m sorry I was mean to you all day. Does that count for something? I’m not sure anymore. It’s certainly not thank you so much for your help. The last nursing report, I was kind of fond of my job. This time, I’m less sanguine. It’s Sunday morning and still I haven’t slept well because I can still feel the residual cortisol/adrenaline flowing through me. In the middle of the chaotic shift, I was like – this is enough. I’ve done what I needed to do. And in all honesty, there are some forthcoming expenses that will need to be covered, and my patent job will allow for that as I’ll probably work overtime at that job to cover the expense and that pays twice as much as nursing and no one is going to die on me or be mean to me all day at the same time.
My part-time paycheck came through from the patent job and as it’s just about half a paycheck, I’m determined to not work on the weekends (I know this is weird, but I explained this before as well), so a long walk on Saturday around Clopper Lake. I did a bad thing in which I left a poop bag early in the walk thinking I would backtrack because I thought the loop might be too long and pick it up, but then I realized at the halfway point that I could do(o)-do(o) the loop in the time that I had allotted myself, so I did do(o)-do(o) the loop and didn’t get the bag.
Elka says hi!
Sofie and I went out and did a Target run – just for fun. Nothing to buy, everything to try on. I did not wear a mask in the store and told Sofie that it was a big deal because I’d not done that since March of 2020 and now as I type this, I feel some regret and maybe I should have done it. I’m imagining the little cold germs coming for me. And she looked at me and said – yeah, I know it’s a big deal for you. Sofie is better at the selfie posing compared to me, obvs. It was 70 degrees yesterday. I wore shorts on my walk, we wore shorts and t-shirts to target. The playground was full of kids and adults playing Pokemon Go. I had forgotten it was an event day for Pokemon Go – us PoGo players are a slightly disheveled and introverted bunch of people. It’s kind of cute. And it wasn’t like a normal 70 degree day. We woke up and it was 65 already and it stayed that temperature all day – maybe the humidity varied, but also in a strange way.
Then we went to my parents for dinner. Elka is getting used to going to another house. I’m just worried she will pee on their carpet – she did not! good dog. She also likes to crowd the table. So we put a little mat out and told her to “place” which is suppose to mean that you can do whatever you want as long as all four paws are touching the mat. Elka thought it mean as long as any part of her was touching the mat, she was a-okay. So here she is creeping closer to the table, but still touching the mat. lol.
I told my mom to sit on the couch to get the “full Elka” experience and the doggie complied.
Kristin and I went on a long hike/walk on Thursday morning. Elka came along, but there is no photo of her. We went to the same spot we’ve been to before, but somehow instead of a walk through the woods near a lovely stream, it seemed like we spent the entire time in view of buildings and roads which were not devoid of traffic. We tried to loop around in different directions, but we were unable to find the stream that we’ve walked next to at least 2 or 3 times in the past. Kristin is my sporty friend, a runner, a stand-up paddleboarder and a hiker and also a weekday available friend. I’m going to buy a SUP for myself for Christmas because of the beautiful trip she took me on with a SUP borrowed from her sister and because I want to go with her in the summers to come.
Kristin has a child who goes by they/them pronouns. Vince has a friend who goes by they/them pronouns and I have a few more friends whose kids who go by they/them pronouns. As we are all allies, we try to use they/them pronouns all the time, but because we are old-brained allies, this tends to be harder in practice than we anticipate. So we try, valiantly, to use they/them and we try to self-correct. I was telling Vickey of the story of Vince and his friend who were in a car accident a few weeks ago and she (meaning Vickey) had no problem correcting me whenever I veered into the gendered singular pronoun and it was embarrassing how many times she had to do it. But then you can lose clarity where there are two people – which Kristin and I both acknowledged. For example, – then they went to urgent care. But do you mean they plural (the two of them) or they singular (meaning Vince’s friend?) – so I was constantly backtracking and clarifying and trying to insert more proper nouns into the story. I was trying to think if there were two he/hims in the car accident story, there can also confusion, but I think I’m just used to inserting enough proper nouns at the right time to maintain clarity in the story and I’m not used to the frequency that I need to do that particular proper noun substitution for a singular they/them. Do the kids know how to do that with ease? Probably.
Every once in a while, I come across a photo of a stylish woman and think – huh, maybe I should try to do that? I was enamored enough with this person (jazz prof at UCBerkeley – really, is there any hope I could reach that level of cool? unlikely.) that I texted my sneakerhead friend to ask what shoes she was wearing and he texted immediately back and said converse. I already know that if I bought those sneakers, I would not wear them because of the extra time it would take to actually lace and tie them. The other thing that interested me in this photo was her leather pants. Would I wear leather pants? I think not, only because they seem constricting and hot and only appropriate for photo shoots with the NYT. I’m still wearing a lot of pandemic wear, but I dream of better. Also, I’m not running these days as it’s my off season, but then I don’t know when to shower/change into non-pajama clothes. I also wear a lot of random clothes. I wear lots of gifts that Edda gets because they aren’t quite right for her – I also wear a lot of swag sweatshirts, I have Camp JCC, nursing school, various universities, and goodwill finds. Recently, Jeremy has been buying me clothes, usually without consulting me first and usually at the supermarket – I like these surprises, so those get thrown in there as well. I have one summer outfit that is actually an “outfit” that matches with an unusual color combination and people always comment on it and I enjoy wearing it, so that is the one thing that gives me hope sartorially that maybe I could expand it to more? I dunno.