Friday, February 27, 2009

Love is a Many Splendored Thing. . . well, maybe not always SO splendored

It would seem the world is coming to an end at our house. It's spouse's turn with the virus. He came roaring home two hours after leaving for work this morning and made a bee-line for the bathroom. Cursing under my breath, I picked up the clothing strewn between the front and bathroom doors and pulled back the covers on his side of the bed. I will never understand why, when a man is sick, the world must now revolve around his every need, ache and pain. Women simply respond to nature's call (screams) then get back to work. Home alone in my agony, I managed to put some sort of supper on the table for spouse each evening. I, on the other hand, was unable to eat more than an occasional soda cracker and sips of water. :-( I really mustn't complain too much. He did clean-up after I had an unfortunate accident. That's what REAL LOVE is all about -- doing what's gotta be done -- regardless!! The perp feels embarrassed, but that soon turns to undying love, gratitude and devotion. . . . uh oh -- I hear whining from the bedroom. "I'll bring the KAO-P in just a minute, OK?" Bye for now y'all and may the force be with you to fight off an attack from the viral death star!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sucker Punched

Saturday started out as any other, except I had no appetite all day. Most unusual! Anyway, after I wished spouse good luck when he left that night for a sleep study elsewhere, I went to bed much earlier than usual.
Sunday morning broke and I could hardly raise my head from the pillow. Spouse came home from his sleep study and promptly offered to make breakfast for both of us. Thanks, but no thanks. All that day I was laid-out in bed, achy and weak, covers up to my chin, heat set at 85. Oddly enough, when I took my temp., it was normal. Still no appetite.
Monday all hell broke loose. Some heinous virus was churning away in my gut, reproducing itself at lightning speed. Still no appetite, but I knew I had to at least drink something to keep hydrated. Heated up some broth. It made a rapid escape about 5 minutes later. OK, we'll try water -- same thing. Even my trusty KAO-P was soon expelled -- all three doses.
I could visualize the virus sneering at my attempts to quell it. For the rest of the day, at 20 minute intervals this viral demon dragged every ounce of fluid out of my system. Old, tried and true remedies like a green banana and soda crackers were totally ineffective. My poor backside didn't know what hit it!
I had scheduled an appointment to see my doctor on Tuesday about something totally unrelated. Probably shouldn't have gone being weak and wobbly, but I dragged myself into his office.
His 3rd year medical student came in to see me first. She might have been disappointed to learn that she was dealing with a virus rather than the planned course of action, but never showed it. When my doc came in, he was uncharacteristically stand-offish -- no handshake. After he suggested treatments for my current situation, he told me I was highly contagious and to be careful I didn't share my malady with spouse.
Though fierce, my virus was short-lived. Thanks to electrolyte drinks, boiled rice and soda crackers, today I think I'll live!
The moral of this story is to WASH YOUR HANDS! I've been somewhat fanatical about it for many years. Even with my fastidious habits, I was sucker punched by an opportunistic virus.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Peter!

When I phoned my brother today to wish him a happy birthday, he was sullenly watching a blizzard raging outside his house in Barrington, Illinois. He was not a happy camper. He and my sister Patty both live in Northern Illinois, not far from our home town and both HATE cold weather. I'm guessing they're both feeling a bit claustrophobic today. Plows can't keep up with the blowing snow, so everyone is advised to stay home. Pete: I wish you could have been here with me on our balcony this evening to enjoy this sunset. It's cold, but no snow in sight -- yet. By tomorrow morning, the Alberta Clipper that's coming through your area is supposed to hit us. Might have snow, but more likely rain. Hang in! This, too shall pass. . .

Wish you and Patty were here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Like Whiskey

That will not come as a surprise to people who know me. What may surprise is that I don't drink it much any more. In my far away youth, I could down my share and still be able to undress and put myself to bed. (We won't discuss the next morning. . .) No, I didn't become an alcoholic, but one stinkin' hang-over too many and I decided enough was enough. Occasionally I do enjoy a beer or Rye Presbyterian. Anyway, a few months ago I found a bottle of Irish Whiskey I'd bought, oh, 30 years ago when Irish coffee was all the rage. Since I don't do Irish coffee any more, I wanted to come up with some use for the half-full bottle. Everyone knows wine is not only good to drink, but it's also an excellent ingredient in recipes. Being a daring type, I discovered that chicken cooked with Bourbon is even better. Irish Whiskey didn't work as well. As I often do when working up a new recipe, I went sniffing. Yeah -- I would be totally unable to cook without a sense of smell! How better to figure out what combination of ingredients will end up as a satisfying dish? Mushrooms and sour cream ended up partnering with my Irish Whiskey. Along with angel hair pasta and a few seasonings, it makes a tasty side dish or main course. The recipe is also quick, easy to make and inexpensive. Here's how it's done: Clean 8 oz. of button mushrooms by quickly rinsing them in water, or use a mushroom brush to remove dirt. Trim stems. Here's where you have a decision to make. Spouse doesn't like the texture of cooked mushrooms so I chop them in a food processor. You can do that or slice them -- it's your call. Cook a pound of angel hair pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, over a med. high flame, heat up a large skillet and add 2-3 Tbs. butter. Add the mushrooms and a couple large pinches of kosher salt. Saute til the mushrooms start to brown. Lower heat and carefully add 1/2-2/3 cup Irish Whiskey. Add freshly ground pepper, more salt and onion powder to taste. Stir in a generous cup of sour cream and warm through without boiling. Add cooked pasta to the skillet along with a cup of the pasta cooking water. Cover and warm an additional 5 minutes. Serve. Don't be afraid to experiment with booze. DO be careful when adding it to a hot pan!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Couldn't resist the golden glow. . .

Keep Your Sunny Side Up

It may be Friday the 13th, but it is turning into one of my better days this week. Even though the weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny, my mood hasn't matched it. Not sure if it's just the winter blues or I'm reading too many criticisms of our new president. Give the guy a chance already! He's been in office mere weeks and must deal with probably the most dreadful aftermath in history of a previous administration. Add to that the fact that it's hard to find men and women for cabinet positions who haven't messed up in some fashion. Sheesh! There must be nonscrew-ups out there somewhere. . . P.S. The Talavera sun hangs over the sink in my windowless kitchen. If we ever move, I will make sure it's into a place with a kitchen window!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Moments Ago

This evening's sunset was not as dramatic as others, but it came with the most delicious cool breeze that teased me into believing Spring is not far away . . . hope springs eternal!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Dad's Honor

Last October, I wrote about Mom and me visiting a Baltimore Clipper that was waiting out a storm in Solomons, Maryland. What I didn't mention was that, when I turned to walk back to my car, I saw two small boats on jacks in the parking lot. One was named Poppy -- what my nieces and nephews called my late Dad. I took it as a sign that he was glad we'd made the effort to see the Amistad. Dad was a gifted water-colorist so, in his honor, I twiddled my photo to give it a painted look.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tsk, Tsk -- Shirt Sleeves in the Oval Office. . .

Some of the former White House West Wing worker bees are up in arms about the fact that President Obama is allowing and perhaps encouraging his staff to remove their suit coats in the office. According to some of Mr. Bush's former staff, decorum and respect for the office will be severely damaged by this trend. Good grief, already! Mr. Obama spent much of his childhood in Hawaii. Frankly, I'd love to see him, the VP and other staffers show up in Hawaiian shirts and shorts! The staid, stale, ole White House could use a little levity and brightness. But seriously, neither Mr. Obama nor any of his advisors and staff mean any disrespect for tradition. These people are not hicks! They know when appropriate attire is necessary. I'm sure the important work of State is getting done regardless of whether or not the President and/or his staff take off their suit coats!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wish I'd Been There!

So ya think Congressional hearings are dignified, orderly and bordering on boring? Well, let me tell ya, it ain't necessarily so. Members of the House Financial Services subcommittee made clear their displeasure with the Securities and Exchange Commission's failure to catch Bernard Madoff in the act, much less before he did irreparable damage. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York, was particularly annoyed at the less than succinct responses from SEC officials. Frankly, I think he spoke for many of us when he declared "Your value to us is useless. Your value to the American people is worthless, your contribution to this proceeding is zero." Then, referring to whistle-blower Harry Markopolos' revelations made during another, melodramatic hearing, he really lost it: "One guy with a few friends and helpers discovered this thing nearly a decade ago. He led you to this pile of dung that this Bernie Madoff was and stuck your nose in it and you couldn't figure it out. You couldn't find your backside with two hands with the lights on." Go get 'em, Gary!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Digital vs. Analog

As odd things sometimes do, I was struck by the fact that I can tell time faster and more comprehensively by looking at an analog clock rather than a digital one. Could be because I learned to tell time on an analog clock. Nevertheless, an old fashioned clock provides more subliminal information. A digital clock only reveals numbers -- 10:43 or 2:16, etc.. The face of an analog clock lets me know the relationship of the time to a twelve hour period. Allow me to explain. . . Looking at a standard clock at 8:45 in the morning, visually I am aware that I have a quarter hour left before I have to be at work. A digital display simply states the time in glowing digits; it doesn't relay the time's relationship to the hour at hand. In any case, the analog clock is prettier, don't you think? ;-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Day at the Newseum

My nephew, Chris visited from Chicago last week. He first drove down to see his sister Carolyn at William and Mary, then drove up to see his grandmother in Solomons and finally, came to D.C. to spend Friday with me. I intended to take him to Ben's Chili Bowl for lunch, but it was jam-packed at 1:30. We were both hungry so we opted for a relaxed, tasty lunch at Utah Bistro across the street.

sections from the Berlin Wall

We then headed downtown to the Newseum. Neither of us had been there, so we were both looking forward to it. We were particularly interested in seeing the big balconies from which TV broadcast coverage of the inauguration. The views are phenomenal! A news helicopter hangs from the ceiling in the multi-story atrium. A communications satellite hangs at the opposite end. In the center is a giant screen showing videos and still shots.

The first exhibit we entered dealt with September 11, 2001 in NYC. It was painful to relive that day through videos and still photos. There were pieces of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania as well as pieces of stone from the Pentagon and and steel from the Towers. A particularly poignant exhibit is a videod interview of a photographer's widow. He took plenty of pictures documenting the tragedy around the Towers that day, then became part of it when the second Tower fell. His friend found his photographic gear, cellphone and a few other personal effects, but not him. The one gallery I had to leave early was filled with Pulitzer Prize winning news photos. They were too grisly for me, but Chris and several classes of school children went through it. Some came out looking a bit shell-shocked. There is much, much more to say about this building and it's collection, but it has to be seen to be appreciated. I highly recommend the 4D movie which is included in the price of admission. In addition to the 3D visions on the screen, you experience wind and motion -- very interesting! Coming down a set of stairs, I caught this. It looked like book shelves to me, but it was part of the distinctive building's exterior.

As a charming visitor services person told me, "the news is what it is." Being an empathetic type, I found most of the exhibits depressing. It is hard to view the suffering of others in a clean, modern, building in a beautiful city. If you can get past that, the museum is chockfull of fascinating history, some of which provided fun reminders of the past e.g.: space flight, famous weddings, ancient political cartoons, etc. It's well worth the time for a visit.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Missing the Point

Just finished reading a piece by Andrea McCarren in today's Washington Post. She was recently laid-off after a long stint on local television news. She wrote that now she could more clearly understanding feelings of folks she had interviewed following their losses of employment. I was surprised she did not mention the loss of one's mission. Not everyone feels their work is a mission, but I did. Thirteen years after being laid-off from a nonprofit organization, I still cannot shake feelings of anger and disillusionment. Having survived four previous purges, when my time came I was somewhat relieved to leave the tension and drama behind. That feeling faded as I thought about the programs and services I had developed and run that allowed hundreds to help thousands of people. They were callously eliminated. I had mixed feelings about colleagues who kept their positions. I was happy that they could continue to do their work and receive a salary. I was equally concerned that they had to work with the axe figuratively hanging over their heads. Business failures, whether profit-making or nonprofit, are due to poor leadership. In a logical world, rewards are withheld for substandard work. Why do companies justify and pay huge bonuses to retain bad leaders?! Is new blood just too scary?? Fear and greed keep C.E.O.s of failing companies in their positions. Words of warning: Boards of directors had better take more responsibility or they could lose far more than their cushy perqs.