Thursday, January 8, 2009


Winter break inched by, faster than I would have thought with the entertainment at hand. That included hearing my kids repeatedly play Eye of the Tiger on Rockband, finding new, innovative ways to make fun of my ex-husband’s mustache, and watching Stevie Nicks interviews on Youtube. I found her inanity mildly fascinating.

What I needed was some snow to romp in. Just when I had the time and didn’t have a virus that made me want to sleep, the snow all melted.

One day during break, just to mix it up a little, I took the boys to Detroit. We whisked through the Detroit Historical Museum and then went to eat at Slows BBQ which was really good. I am telling you. Between the three of us, we had okra split pea fritters, hoppin’ john, mac and cheese, green beans, bbq wings, some kind of bbq chicken sandwich on big toast, cornbread, waffle fries, and chocolate ice cream with a warmed brownie with nuts and caramel sauce. I drank a Lindemans Frambois. Then I waddled my ever-expanding winter break muffintop back to the swankmobile, parked across from Slows near this bleak, stark beauty:

The Michigan Central Station, which operated as a train station from 1913 until 1988. It’s like an immense ghost, a desiccated, desecrated, crumbling ghost that isn’t that old but seems ancient and out of place.

We had stuffed ourselves silly as we sat across from this gaunt, elegant stranger dully looking on. I just want to feed it. There's been some talk about restoring the building, but so far it's just talk. Such a shame. Here are more photos.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winona on Colbert

I was trying to find information on the 2009 Indigenous Farming Conference and came across this on the Native Harvest website:

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Here we are, the semester has ended and I made it through. I need to catch up with cleaning and organizing the house, but I am one semester closer to achieving my goal of becoming a mercy killer. Woohoo! Nursing school is pretty tough, I must say. You folks out there, I will tell you right now that nurses are actually required to know stuff. They're not dumbing anything down just because of some projected nursing shortage. You may now be hospitalized with full confidence in your nursing staff. Just watch out for those nosocomial infections!

My clinical was very cool. I was at Chelsea Community Hospital, and our instructor let us do other things besides work with patients on the med-surg floor. We got to spend a day in the operating room, the emergency room, and the ICU. The operating room was interesting but I think it would be boring to do every day. I liked both the ICU and the ER, there's just lots going on. Fascinating stuff... not just physically/medically, but with family dynamics, the whole thing. People are so interesting.

Wrapping it all up was a little rough. Last weekend I had one kid in five Oliver Twist shows, I had parental volunteer obligations for that, I was stressing about my last exam, and we all got sick. As soon as my exam was over, relief set in but not too much relaxing because then I had to catch up with kid appointments and start getting ready for the holidays.

I did indulge myself in some celebratory shopping at my new favorite store, the Getup Vintage on State St. I was building up the static cling in my hair there when my phone started going off with repeated text messages from my kid "I need Rockband 2" "I need Rockband 2" "Pleeeeaaassse Rockband 2". I sent back... you have to wait for Santa.

One of the appointments I had to deal with was with the oral surgeon to get two of Luka's teeth pulled as part of his braces prevention program. We did that yesterday and he was not too happy about it. The procedure went fine but afterwards he had some pain in his mouth when the anesthesia wore off. To ease the whole experience, I reminded him--the Tooth Fairy gives bonuses for surgically-removed teeth!

Of course my kids are onto the Santa/Tooth Fairy ruse but we play the game and it's more like I'm the spokesperson for United Mythical Workers Local 1011 now. Evan says, did you "talk to Santa" about Rockband 2? I told him that Santa had no comment. Luka says, I wonder why the tooth fairy left my teeth under the pillow? I said, the tooth fairy thought you might like to keep those teeth because they still have their whup ass roots hanging on them!

I knitted a few things along the way, too, the major one being a lace wrap that I worked on all summer long. I have to take some pictures and post those.

Ahhh... life is good. I love a feeling of accomplishment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tart Varietals

I cleaned the top of my stove, just for this picture

There are two things that I have noticed that kids go apeshit over, and those are automatic pencil sharpeners and mechanical apple peelers. The kind of apple peeler where you impale the fruit, and then rotate a handle and it cores, peels, and will also cut the apple up in a spiral if you want it to. That is a handy device to have, but I did feel a twinge of guilt over buying the battery-operated pencil sharpener. I mean, really... can't we just manually rotate the blade? But no, I bought one and kids beg for pencils to sharpen.

I personally go apeshit over my food mill and slow cookers, especially after making two bushels of apples into applesauce. You don't even need the apple peeler, you just chop the apple into quarters or so, throw the whole thing in the pot and then grind it up in the food mill. I put no sweeteners in mine, just apples. I started out with the kettle on the stove, but then I brought in the slow cookers and they work fantastic for making applesauce. I haven't gotten quite through the two bushels yet, but my projection is that I will have about 24 quarts. I got a deal, half-off, from a farmer at the Ypsi Farmers Market. He put together a mix of tart varietals for me. He gave me seconds, so I got all the apples for $18. There's Jonathans, Galas, Red Cort, Granny Smiths, and a few other kinds that I forget. That works out to about 75 cents a quart... not bad! I'm putting them in my freezer as part of my winter Avian Flu/Great Depression food stash.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bad Medicine

It has been a long day.

I ran around doing a bunch of errands this morning, including getting last minute pirate garb for Evan's play that starts tomorrow. The appliance repair dude shows up early... then there's kidsitting in the afternoon which was pretty mellow except getting them ready to go to the pool which was like herding cats and I ended up with extra neighbor kids. I forgot to even eat until about 5. I ran Evan's costume up to the church where the performance will be, and then worked on alterations until water polo time. Then after last week having over 20 players, there were only seven of us for water polo tonight, and that makes it tough. The deep end looked like a population map of North Dakota. That translates to more distance involved in going after the ball, and we're quickly winded, though I do get to work a little more on my new ankle-grabbing move. It's especially effective on the bigger dudes who are hard to dunk. If I am able to get a good hold on their ankles, I latch on and become a resistant weight as they're hauling towards the goal. Then they can only swim in place until they have to throw the ball or someone else comes and fights for it.

It's so gratifying.

After water polo we went to get Evan at 9:30 but they're doing dress rehearsal and it's running late so Luka, Juniper and I sit waiting in the van until 10:30 for him to get out. In the meantime the woman who's car always runs out of gas and needs some money comes by. She must have asked me with this same story at least 5 times in the past couple years in various parts of Ypsi. Luka also entertains himself by asking me to relay stories of the stupid things I have done in my life. Uhhhhh... there's plenty but it's hard to come up with some G rated ones. Well, there's the time I let my cousin give me the "sissy test" and scrub at the back of my hand with an eraser until it bleeds. I was determined to let it bleed to show how tough I was, but it hurt so bad that I had to stop. I did end up with a good portion of my epidermis removed, and it hurt like hell and scarred me. That was stupid! There was the time I was learning how to ride a dirtbike in the backyard and once I got going I blanked out on how to brake, so I didn't stop until I crashed right through the door of our playhouse. Yeah, that was stupid too!!

We get home and on the way in to the house, my dog goes apeshit, smelling around and chasing something. We hear her acting ferocious in the dark by the fence and I sternly called her back... but she doesn't listen. Until she gets sprayed square in the snout. NOOOOOOO.... That's when she came running back like "help me mama!" It is awful smelling, I never smelled skunk so intimately it is such a burnt awful smell. I have to give her a bath immediately, I read on the internet to mix a quart of hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of soap and douse her. I do it, but I think she mostly got hit on the snout so it's tricky. Ugh! I'm doing this, getting soaked myself with Luka babbling a million questions next to me. The skunk sprayed so close to the house that everything smells and I don't even know what's from the dog and what's just in the air. It is headache-inducing, bad medicine. I dry the dog off and read the nightly chapter of The Long Winter to Luka.

And I am reminded that whatever is going on with me, it doesn't compare to the trials of the Ingalls family. They never even got to play water polo.

I am tired, though. These are the moments that I am grateful for screw-cap wine bottles.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Splendor in the Gas

Six years ago, on August 19th, I donated my left kidney. Every now and then I think about it and it startles me, because I forget.

A friend from the Native community, and a fellow tribal member, had a husband that had failing kidneys. We would talk and she would tell me about what they were going through. Several family members had gotten tested but for whatever reason they couldn't donate. So Luis was on the list for a cadaver kidney. Being on the cadaver list means you carry a beeper around and are ready to go into surgery when you get the call. You have to be ready to drop everything, and everywhere you go, you have to take the transportation and timing involved into getting back into consideration.

Luis was at the point where he was getting dialysis and it wasn't going so well. He was constantly tired and he was getting infections from the port in his arm. I had only met him a couple of times. I felt really bad for them, he and his wife had a teenage daughter and I knew them to be a clean-living, really tight family. I started thinking about getting tested, knowing that my O negative blood type makes me a universal donor. I would have felt guilty if he died, knowing that I may possibly have been a match.

I got checked out. All I remember is a physical where I got to tell about my drug using history, and it still didn't disqualify me. I must have given blood so they could match up the antigens and whatnot, and I had a scan where hot-feeling dye was injected into me, and then a picture was taken to see if indeed I did have two kidneys.

I didn't start feeling nervous about the surgery until just a couple days prior. It's freaky to get the obligatory "you could die" speech from the doctors. The plan was to take the kidney laproscopically, but if for some reason that didn't work, I could have woken up to see that they took it "the old way", which means slicing up the side of my body for direct access to pluck the kidney out. Much more invasive and requiring a longer recovery.

As it turned out, I ended up having three punctures in my belly: one for the camera, one for light, and one to put some dealie in that pumps in carbon dioxide that inflated me so my innards could be lit up and make room to move around. An instrument was inserted into a larger incision at my so-called bikini line (yeah, right) which traveled up through the inflated region to snip the kidney and then escort the ruby filtering wonder back down to be removed. It was all done with a robot that was operated by the surgeon. The kidney was then attached to Luis in the next room.

He felt better right away. I remember that the family was so excited that he was peeing on his own, because before he had to take medication to be able to pee. The whites of his eyes cleared up immediately.

I felt fine. One of the techs that dragged me from the gurney to the bed after surgery told me I look like Natalie Wood, so I got to bask in that compliment through an anesthetized haze. The incisions weren't so bad, I think the most painful part was how the carbon dioxide would cause this intense crampy-type of pain in my shoulders when I sat up. But that was how the gas was eliminated, so I had to sit up for awhile, take a break and then sit up again to make it go away.

I felt like such a modern woman, having a robot extract my kidney. I felt satisfaction in helping this person get a few more good years of life. It felt like somewhat of a vacation, getting to spend a couple of nights in the hospital doing nothing, since I had a two year old and seven year old at home. I also felt some satisfaction that I could give something without expecting anything... that it was pure. I hardly knew Luis, and he is very different from me. A Latino-American Catholic with pretty conservative/traditional views. It wasn't about how much I personally "valued" him as a family member or friend, or a judgment at all on how he went about his life. We are all just people, eh?

Their family moved to San Jose and last we talked, Luis was doing great.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Need Parmesan Like the Sun

Things are happening in my garden. I put some more raised beds in my backyard this summer, looking to benefit from the extended sunlight that happens towards the back of my yard. It's already been shady, but it's been worse thanks to my next door neighbor who is letting an oak tree grow snug right up to the fence. It's doing the limbo under his other trees to get the sun from my yard. I am possessive of the sunlight, I need it.
View from the deck

Peppers behind the fence
Eggplant fetus, second trimester
I planted pole beans, radicchio, red cabbage, basil, eggplant, four kinds of tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, butternut squash, turnips, scallions, broccoli, onions, dinosaur kale, two kinds of chard, sugar baby watermelon, red beets, and I just sowed some chiogga beet seeds. I am determined to keep up with it! I've been using cucumber in tzatziki made with Greek yogurt. I'm going to grate and freeze zucchini in one-cup increments for baking. Greens, tomatoes and green beans will be frozen. Whatever we can't keep up with will get frozen. Which will happen because I insist on growing this stuff and then I make what I think what is a fabulous meal out of it, but macaroni and cheese always goes over better. Although I did make these zucchini chips that the kids ate. I sliced them, dipped them in buttermilk (recipe said skim but I didn't have it) then dredged them in bread crumbs and parmesan and baked them crisp. What would I do without parmesan? I need parmesan like the sun.