Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Lyric: Shut Me Up, Joe Henry

The song wants to repeat just now 
It sings itself to show you how 
It throws away its finest line 
Just to keep the feel and time 
Just to keep the feel and time 
It throws away now it's finest line 

The word wants just to leave my tongue 
To turn your face and when that's done 
I've got no use for what it proves 
It only means the way you move 
It only means the way you move 
I've got no use now for what it proves 

Close your eyes and shut my mouth 
The day has worn it's welcome out 
It pats you down and cuffs your hands 
And makes it's bed right where you stand 
The prayer wants to believe in you 
And does in spite of all you do 

It sings itself just like a song 
When hope is weak and pride is strong 
When hope is weak and pride is strong 
It sings itself now just like a song 
The thought wants nothing more than to show 
How little now you really know 

It burns then it turns cold and mean 
Taking any offer sight unseen 
The song want to repeat just now 
It sings itself to show you how 

It throws away it's finest line 
Just to keep the feel and time 
Just to keep the feel and time 
It throws way it's finest line 
It throws away it finest line 
Just to keep the feel and time

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On being a grown-up

I always have to start typing, stop, and change the font to Helvetica in Blogger. I can't think in Times New Roman. This has nothing to do with On Being a Grownup. Or it might...I don't know. 

It is 10:09 pm, and I've just gotten home from the office. Or rather, I got home at 9:15pm, took out some trash, washed some dishes, put a lot more dishes in the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, wiped down the kitchen countertops, wiped down the stove, wiped down the fridge, cleaned a lot of stinky old food out of the fridge, brought out another bag of garbage, made my current go-to dinner of Trader Joes frozen Naan (2 minutes in the oven at 400,) and Madras Lentils (2 minutes in the microwave), and finally sat down at my laptop.

I have a number of things to do before I hit the hay. I need to look at the flight  times for my flights over the long weekend. I need to pay some bills. I need to put my new license tabs on my plates before I get a ticket in the city parking garage tomorrow. I need to finish laundry.

I need to do some paperwork for my volunteer work with a small youth ministry in the county. I help to run 3 catering events for them every year, but this spring I've got a family wedding on the date, so I'm trying to do a good job of transferring every tiny detail in my brain to a team of new (but fabulous) folks, and prep them as best as possible for the madness that is managing a team of 12-18 year olds, impressing the Health department, and not giving food poisoning to the population of the event.

Other things on my mind are yardwork, the fact that the downstairs bathroom faucet and the upstairs bathroom toilet seat need minor repairs, and the fridge has been whining loudly. My car has taken to showing a "COOLANT" code every few days, although last time I got my oil changed the mechanic said the coolant was fine (so now, take it back to the same mechanic, since he sort of owes me an explanation, or find a new mechanic?). I have an old TV to bring to Goodwill, and my car trunk is full of clothes I've been meaning to bring to the consignment store.

No one but me has to think about handling or helping to handle any of those things...sometimes that is totally scary. I make plenty of mistakes in every day life, it's scary to think that I have no backup in my health, finances, home care, and work. 

I don't have anything smart to say tonight. Being a grown up is scary. That's it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I was sick for 22 days of January (I counted because my friend Jenny told me that the average duration of a cold is 18 days). The bug has taken down at least half of the office, in cycles, and pretty much my whole family. I haven't been that sick in a while, so it was a bit of a novel experience. 

When I get a common cold bug, I try to stay home as soon as I feel it coming on (because that's when you're contagious, people!), if I have a fever, or if I'm just in some sort of ridiculous pain. Other than that, I try to go to work while taking the best possible care of myself which means, in no particular order, the following:

-quitting coffee (I don't crave it, and I already feel like junk. why not?)
-getting a lot of sleep. A LOT.
-taking a delayed-arrival schedule at the office (let's face it, mornings with a cold bug are especially yucky. If I can go to work an hour or two late, I'm much more likely to feel better and be more productive the rest of the day. BONUS: avoiding the post-sick-day email marathon.)
-drinking tons of herbal tea (especially ginger and peppermint)
-making toddy at night. (boil some sliced fresh ginger in water, add: whiskey + citrus juice(or fresh cranberries) + honey)
-making chicken soup.

This time around, I got laryngitis. I haven't had laryngitis since I was teaching 6 periods of 7th grade english, and assumed I probably wouldn't have it again since I am no longer in a profession where I have to talk all day. Wrong! I was without a voice for most of 5 days.

Since I don't typically speak before I get to work, I discovered that I was without a voice only due to the fact that my mom called me that morning before I left for work. After trying and failing to shout hello, I had to hang up and text message her, apologizing for hanging up.

'Ginger - Zingiber officinalis - Ingver' photo (c) 2008, Stan Dalone - license:
After about 1 hour without a voice, I started searching pinterest for laryngitis cures. Both raw ginger and garlic are widely touted as being helpful for laryngitis (toddies are also helpful, but not for during the workday. I do have standards. Also, for the record, I did not chew raw garlic at the office.) Chewing raw gingerroot instead of sucking on cough drops definitely helped, but I also relied on putting a significant dose of ginger into my chicken soup. 

Being sick so long had an upside; I was able to perfect a spicy, gingery egg-drop soup that I could enjoy by the bucketful. It always sounded good, even though nothing else did, and it had enough sinus-clearing spice to get through the taste-bud fog. 

Chicken-and-egg soup (and cure for laryngitis)

3 cups chicken broth or stock (vegetable stock if you prefer)
1-2 cups water
2 tb grated fresh gingerroot
2 tsp fresh sage
2 cloves fresh garlic
3-4 TB cornstarch
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1-2 cups fresh watercress
2 large fresh eggs

Bring chicken broth, water, grated ginger, garlic pepper flakes, sage and black pepper to a simmer and simmer for 15-20 minutes so flavors can blend. Mix a slurry of cornstarch and a few tablespoons cold water, add by spoonfuls to the broth mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps until the starch is all added. Do NOT allow to boil, but simmer until broth thickens slightly.

Lightly beat the 2 eggs, and then use a spoon or whisk to drop the egg mixture into the broth, stirring to break up egg as it cooks instantly in the hot broth.

Stir in the chopped fresh watercress leaves, simmer a few more minutes until the greens are cooked, and serve.


I've been keeping it simple and and focusing on the broth because of being sick, but you can add any number of veggies or noodles or rice noodles, depending on your preference, or actual chicken meat, if you prefer. 

Sometimes I'll stir in a few trader joe's chicken potstickers and let them cook in the broth for 10 minutes at the end. yum!

Watercress isn't very common, but I bought a couple of hydroponic plants once for a recipe and planted the roots to see what would happen. Now it grows naturally in my garden each year. The greens are spicy, almost horseradishy, and it's very hardy, flourishing in our (mild pacific) winter, so it's harvestable right about this time of year.

This will be pretty strongly gingery and spicy so temper it if you wish. I sometimes add a dry white wine in place of one of the cups of water, which adds a nice sweetness to balance the ginger-spicyness. If it's not spicy enough, try a little swirl of sriracha or chili oil, or for the truly brave,Trader Joe's has started selling a Ghost Pepper spice grinder. It comes with warning labels, and my dad officially declared it too hot, which is a first.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Secret Garden

It's that "secret garden" season here when you go outside one day and notice that overnight, unlooked-for, there are green shoots and rosettes peeking out of the ground. Maybe it's because you haven't been paying attention, or more than likely, you've been leaving in a rush in the morning and coming home after dark. But once you notice a few tiny plants, you feel a little gush of Hope, seeing once again evidence of rebirth from death and you think how much you've missed it. 

Like Mary Lennox, you start looking for the signs of green. And you find them. And you start clearing away the dead brown leaves and sticks of last year, not realizing how hard you're working until you come back into the dim house and realize that the sun and wind and wet earth has done you more good than you've done the garden. And then maybe, you think, it's not the Hope that has been absent from the garden, but you.