Where She Went

So my life got a little... intense, over the last two weeks.

Let me back up to Monday the sixth.

Near on to midnight I get a text from Chris, my best friend Lara's husband.  (Perhaps you remember them?)  He is laying on the floor of a hospital chapel, dealing with the fact that Lara, who had gone in for a routine surgery the Friday before, is now undergoing emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel.  A perforated bowel, in case you are not familiar with the fantasy or military genres, is kind of a big deal.  As in, it can kill you.  Painfully.

"Is there anything you need?  I can come up if you want," I say, and I mean it. We exchange a few more texts, and I add, "Keep me posted on what you and she need.  I'll come up if you want me (either of you) or wait if that's better."  He tells me he'll let me know.

May ninth (you might recognize this as the date I stop reporting on my "ReDetox" progress), he gets in touch with me to say he "might need" my help over the weekend.  Needless to say, I clear my schedule, arrange for Isis to be boarded, and Nathan and I head up Friday night after work.  We drive straight to the hospital, and are given the eerie, 2330 tour.  Lara is in that twilight-sleep of the Well and Truly Drugged, but seems pleased to see me nonetheless.

I spend all day Saturday with Lara, doing those things that best friends are good for (washing her hair, watching girly movies, cracking terrible jokes, that sort of thing) while Nathan helps Chris move from their old apartment to their new house.  Oh, didn't I mention that?  Yeah, they're in the middle of a move.  Perfect timing for emergency surgery.

Lara's spirits are really good on Saturday, and she seems to be doing better physically, as well- but all that goes downhill on Sunday.  Swiftly.  I'd been planning on coming home on Sunday night, but Lara asks me to stay- and I want to, because things just seem wrong.  I send Nathan home with a kiss and a promise to find my own way back, eventually.  Then come the results of another  CT scan: two additional holes have appeared in Lara's intestines, and her doctor recommends she be moved to a larger hospital where she can have a team of specialists perform yet another emergency surgery.  Like, now.  Unfortunately, however, the soonest a bed can be made available is 1100 the next day, and so it is not until Monday afternoon that we settle into new digs.  The small, shared room is made even more crowded by the much-anticipated arrival of Lara's parents, whom I have not seen in years.

The surgery lasts about three hours- maybe four.  It's sort of a blur.  But one memory is crystal clear: Chris and I have booked a hotel room together, and I am laying back on the bed, feeling the strangest sensation of peace, as though I'm floating free of all attachments.  Honestly, I feel a little drunk- but in a euphoric way.

"It's going to be okay," I say, and I know that it is, with the same surety that I know oxygen is expanding my lungs.  Now, I acknowledge that it may in fact be my mind-body connection finally shutting down in the face of all the stress of the previous week, but even so...

We make our way back over the the waiting area of the hospital, and when the doc comes in I can tell from her expression that it is okay.  She is obviously exhausted, herself- she sits down in a chair and fills us in on everything that occurred, but she is also optimistic in a very matter-of-fact way.  Two more hours go by, and finally we get to see Lara again- drugged out of her gourd, but very much alive.  I find that I can't touch her enough, but I make myself leave, giving her and Chris some precious alone time.

Tuesday dawns, and we spend the morning meeting the team of people who will be spending the next few weeks helping Lara recover enough to leave the hospital.  I finally feel like it will be okay for me to return home, and so I book myself a train ticket, and around 1645 Chris walks me the mile to the station.

I sleep as much as I can on the three hour trip home, curled awkwardly across two seats, and I fall into bed shortly after getting to the house.  I spend the next several days trying to get back to "normal", but it is slow going, and even today I find myself sort of residually exhausted.

But my best friend is alive, and as far as I'm concerned, I've never felt better.


ReDetox: Day Eight (or: Enter the Cravings)

Wellllll they finally hit.  The cravings.  The cranky-making cravings for harmful-foods.  And I straight up choose to blame NewBoss, because he microwaved cheese-and-bean burritos for lunch and they smelled like heaven to me.


But then my dinner kicked some swift and serious ass, so that's okay:

It was one of those, "What do we have available?" sorts of dinners.  I knew we had a base line of "fish and salad", because I'd written such on the meal plan, but we had no idea what we were going to do with "fish and salad".

As it turns out, Nathan slathered the fish with lime juice, cardamom, and sumac and threw it on the grill (that's the sumac making it such a lurid pink), while I threw together a bunch of avocados, cumin, lime juice, cilantro, and green onions, and mashed them up to serve on top of the fish.  Then we tossed some baby carrots and mandarin slices into a butter lettuce salad, and finished it off with an oil-and-vinegar (olive and apple cider, respectively) dressing (further flavored with salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, cardamom and sumac).

It was shockingly delicious for a meal that started with, "I don't know, what do we have on hand?" and took less than half an hour to put together.


ReDetox: Day Seven (or: Reconstruct My Deconstruction)

Dinner tonight was kabobs:
Made by Nathan, because he is The Best.
Specifically, dinner tonight was pork, apple, and onion kabobs.  If that sounds an awful lot like it might have its roots in dinners from earlier this week, well... you're not wrong.


The best part of today was going over to Crystal's house to play.

Crystal makes jewelry.  Not just any jewelry, mind you- totally kick ass jewelry that has its origins in old pocket watches, butterflies, sea horses, and thousands of tiny sparkly crystals.  Amongst many other wondrous curiosities that send me in to wriggles of delight.  She has told me on multiple occasions that I am welcome to bring over bits and pieces and she will help me turn them into Awesome, so today I finally took her up on it.

Amongst the little treasures I took over was a cameo that belonged to my paternal grandmother.

I'm not really one for brooches, myself, but I do like cameos, and so I'd kept this one.  I figured Crystal would have ideas on how to turn it into a necklace.

She totally did.

"This needs green," was the first thing she said, touching the warm orange background.  "Don't you think this needs green?"

It only escalated from there.

"We could get crazy," she said, that special Frenetic Artist Gleam in her eyes.  "We could... it might be too much, but... it could be awesome..." she rummaged in a little sack and produced a tiny ivory something with a triumphant flourish.  "I have camels!"

I gasped.

"Yes!  It totally needs a camel!"

It delighted me beyond reason to utilize a camel in a piece of jewelry that has to do with my grandmother, because she was such a world-traveler.  I knew she would utterly approve of turning a conservative cameo brooch into a flamboyant piece of wearable art.
Crystal took better pictures, but I couldn't wait to share...

Cheers to you, Jimmie, one year after embarking on the Greatest Adventure of all...


ReDetox: Days Five and Six (or: Under Pressure)

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, temps in the eighties and not a cloud in the sky.  So what was I doing?

Cleaning the house.

And then I looked around at all my animals and saw that they were every one of them sleeping in the sun, so I went outside to clean the house.

Which is to say, I pressure-washed the fence.  Behold the glorious difference:
Gentle Readers, life in the PNW does lend itself towards mold.
It took me about two hours to do the whole thing, at which point I felt I'd earned the right to read in the shade for a while, which I did.

Dinner was New York strip and roasted cauliflower (seasoned with salt, pepper, and parsley).  It was obscenely tasty.  Also I had my first craving- it was for honey, of course.  But no crankiness yet.

Today's Grand Adventure was putting my brand new lead climbing skills to good use*.  KB and I spent a good two hours working the overhang, and by the end of it I was exhausted.  Hell, by the end of the first route I was pretty damn tired.  Overhang kicks my ass, because I don't boulder like I should.  Needless to say, by the end of our session I was covered in sweat, shaking, and had raw hands- but I felt amazing, way more challenged that I've been in a long time, and it was in this truly excellent mood that I made my way home to start dinner.

 Dinner was to be another sort of hash, this one served over the ever-useful spaghetti squash.
My Katie taught me about this tasty fellow.

No sweet potatoes or yams this time, however; I was feeling more Italian than Mexican, and that meant fresh herbs.
Rosemary!  From my very own garden!
After the spaghetti squash had gone in the oven, I warmed some olive oil on medium-high, then tossed in an onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme.  It smelled like friggin' heaven.  Sauteed that business until the onions began to soften...
Mmm, fragrant!
...then tossed in ground beef with some salt and pepper.  Easy peasy.  Browned it up, then covered it and let it simmer for about eight minutes (because that was how long the squash had left to bake).  Once all the timers had dinged, I combined and scarfed, because I was friggin' hungry.

Photo-bombed by a pig.

And now it is well past my bedtime, but I still need to get my guitar-practice on.  Which should be interesting, considering the state of my hands...

*old school (/eidetic) readers might be saying, "Brand new?  I thought she took that class last year..." and you'd be right; I did take that class last year.  And then I almost immediately thereafter jacked up my ankle, and never really practiced what I'd learned- and so I took a refresher course this past Saturday, so as to be more useful during outdoor climbing adventures.


ReDetox: Day Four (or: Palms and Coconuts)

I went to visit my Katie this evening, and it was the sort of visit that has no aim beyond being together.  As such, we went a'wandering the streets of Portland, soaking up the lingering rays of sun as they gave a final dazzle to glass storefronts, and keeping an eye out any adventure that might present itself.

We were not disappointed.

Psychic! declared the sign.  Katie looked at it, then at me, one expressive eyebrow raised.

"Why not?" I said.  "We've always said we were going to go to one, and we never, ever have."

So we make our way into the building, and a Brand New Experience.

Katie goes first, so I sit in the lobby, creating doodles and flipping through a book on back health.  About twenty minutes later she comes out, and it's my turn.

All I've signed up for is the basic palm-reading.  I read my own tarot cards, and I know I will not be able to keep my mouth shut if she tries to tell me something they're not actually saying.  I may be skeptical, but I have enough sense of fun (and hope) to go in with a playful spirit.  At the very least I'm hoping to be wowed by her powers of subtle observation.

Alas, it is not to be.  Even though I gamely feed her plenty of information about myself for her to turn into mystical revelations, she sticks with the basics- and they feel like rote basics, at that.  The only time she seems to go off the prompts cards playing on her eyelids is when she tells me that I will be a mother- to two healthy babies, no less.  (Query: can I get my money back when I hit menopause if I'm still child-free?)

Afterwards Katie and I head over to the Blue Moon to compare notes on our fate.  We laugh hysterically over the aspects that we have word-for-word in common, and agree that we'd make much better psychics than that.


I had lamb burgers on butter lettuce for dinner tonight, and for dessert I tried my hand at making coconut butter.
It's hard to make a jar of white stuff look like... anything other than a jar of white stuff.

It's mighty tasty on it's own, but I also dipped a strawberry in it (really good), and then got crazy and dipped a carrot in it (even better).  Next time I may try Melissa Joulwan's recipe.


ReDetox: Day Three (or: Porcupining the Monkey)

I had my very first experience with an acupuncture this afternoon, and I have to say, I'm a fan.  Even if there's nothing to Qi and meridians, I sure as hell got a great nap out of it.  A nap full of needles, but a restful nap, nonetheless.  The amount of ink adorning my skin might lead you to infer that I do not have any sort of needle-related hang-ups, and you'd be correct.  As such it was more interesting than freaky, especially marking how the needles felt different in different locations.  Most of the placements felt like a) nothing at all or b) a tiny pinch and then nothing at all.  The needle in my right index finger, however, sent a jolt of electricity- like a static shock- through the digit (it did the same thing upon removal).  The needle in my right wrist actually hurt a great deal, and she had to nudge it twice before it faded into the same non-awareness as the rest of the needles.  Then she placed one between my brows, and while it didn't hurt, exactly, I was quite aware of it.  The one in my hairline, however, was fine.

"Wow, my abdomen is so warm!" I marveled after she placed four needles into it.  I hadn't expected such dramatically immediate results.

"That's because I have a heater pointed towards it." I could hear the smile in her voice, and we both started giggling.

She let me be for a bit, so I could start getting into the relaxation groove, but of course my brain would not shut up (I'd left my phone and wallet, at the office and home, respectively, so I had plenty to be anxious about).  She came back in to check on me and said, "How are you doing?"

"Just trying to quiet my monkey mind," I said.

"Oh!  Here, this should help," and she put two more needles in my feet.

Sure enough, it helped.


Eventually I drifted off to sleep, waking twice to the soft gong that was sounding, and then when she came back into the room to de-needle me.  The first one she removed was the one between my brows, which startled me because I'd forgotten it was there.  So now we know that I am, in fact, capable of forgetting that I have about three inches of stainless steel wire poking out of my face.


Nathan grilled up some pork tenderloin for dinner...


and then I had a baked yam with coconut oil and cinnamon!
How did I live before coconut oil?
Technically the yam was supposed to be part of my dinner (and therefore done in a savory manner) but it took way longer than anticipated, so I just made it dessert.


ReDetox: Day Two (or: Sweet is as Sweet Does)

Tonight's dinner was pork chops with apples and shallots.  It had its origins in this recipe, with only a few little tweaks to make it detox-friendly (their book, by the way, is definitely worth the investment).

I sliced up two apples nice and thin, along with a nice fat shallot, and then I sautéed 'em up on medium-high in about five tablespoons of coconut oil, until the apples started to soften.
WARNING: this will start smelling heavenly in a shockingly short amount of time

While that was going on I dumped a bunch of cinnamon (and only a little bit of salt) on the pork chops, and rubbed 'em up right.  Once the apple/shallot mix was done I put it aside in a bowl (using a slotted spoon so as to leave the apple/shallot infused oil) and plunked down the meat to sear for about two minutes on each side.
Actually this step smells pretty awesome, too.

Once searing was achieved I added 1/4 cup water, brought to a simmer, then dumped the apples and shallots back on top, reduced the heat to medium, covered and let it do it's thang for about eight minutes.

Why you gotta' deprive me of my smells, lid?
And then?  We ate it alllll up!

Man, it almost ended up being just plain ol' "pork chops and shallots", because I could not stop eating the apples!  Sautéing them brought out such an incredible sweetness that I couldn't help but feel like I was doing something incredibly naughty by having them for dinner.

Tomorrow is day three.  Day three is, in my experience, when I start to get Cranky about detoxing.  Here's hoping I break that pattern...


ReDetox: Day One (or: Man, I'm Getting So Good at Starting Over)

Yes indeedy, it's that time again- time for me to take all the naughty things out of my diet in an attempt to reset my system back to "not painful".  I've made my meal plan for the month (although, like the first time, I am only committing to three weeks) and I'm psychically girded.  Speaking of the first time, I'm following the same guidelines (minus the gross powder) and cutting out All Things Inflammation Causing (since that is what's causing me so much pain right now).  I'm not sure what it was that I over-indulged (I'm leaning toward dairy or eggs or perhaps even pineapple), but in a few weeks it will be out of my system and I can start fresh.

It's amazing how much my diet has changed since that first detox- for example, I am definitely hard-core carnivore these days, to the point where I don't even really need to report what I have for breakfast each day because nine times out of ten?  It's bacon.  And my lunch?  Is leftovers from the night before.  Which means that primarily my "meal planning" consists of "dinner planning, and it is that, therefore, that I will share in the coming weeks (after this initial one, because you don't know what I had for dinner last night, after all...)

Breakfast: bacon
Snack: apples
Lunch: leftover roasted chicken and Brussels sprouts
Dinner: hash
Open wide!

Of course, "hash" doesn't tell you much, so allow me to describe how we do hash.

First you cube one sweet potato and one yam (thus neatly side-stepping the whole, "Which is which?" debate)...
I recommend using a handsome kitchen aid...

...as well as an onion (or a half- really this meal sort of comes down to "what do we have on hand right now?).  Heat some coconut oil in a dutch oven (or, you know, whatever- I used about three tablespoons this time around) and then saute the fauxtatoes for about six minutes.  Add the onions and some minced garlic (I cheated and used the jar stuff- about a teaspoon), and throw some spices on that business.  Today I used salt, black pepper, lots of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, plenty of cumin, and some allspice.  Feel free to add spicier stuff (chili powder, cayenne) if you're not avoiding nightshades.
Add "dutch oven" to my list of Favorite Kitchen Tools, whydon'tcha?

Saute until the onions start to go translucent (say three minutes?), then take a moment to chop up your ground beef, because that makes your life much easier, promise:
It's not NECESSARY to leave bits of onion on the knife, but it makes me feel like a rebel...

Toss it in!  Brown it up!  Once you're nearly all brown, reduce heat to about medium, cover...
True Science Fact: food tastes better when cooked in attractive pots.

...and let that business cook for about fifteen minutes or until fauxtatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm and scarf it up!  Sometimes, if I'm feeling bold, I'll serve it over a bed of nummy spaghetti squash, but tonight was more about laziness than boldness, so we just ate it straight.
It doesn't hurt to serve it in attractive bowls, either.

 But this is the proof that being lazy doesn't have to mean forgoing delicious!