Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Day in a Life

It was the seventh day of October 2009. Ham, the ten-year-old Schnauzer was "praying" under the desk. Fancy, the hyperactive two-year-old pug was doing the same under the coffee table. It 's their favorite resting position. Maybe it was just my overly active imagination but with their clasped front paws partly tucked under their chins, I thought they were praying. I wanted to believe that dogs with their highly developed senses know when something is not quite right with their masters. It is not too silly for me to imagine that yes, they can smell our worries and our fears. When we were feeling low and grounded like these flightless birds under the buffet, I thought they know for sure that something was wrong.

Two slices of homemade oat bread, toasted; 2 bananas, a kiwi, 2 hard boiled eggs, and 1 pint of orange juice = breakfast for two. This year I started making the oat bread for breakfast to keep my cholesterol from crossing the dreaded line. It is a hearty yeast bread with rolled oats, oat bran, and maple syrup. Sometimes I throw in a cup of walnuts. Very good and very easy to make with a heavy duty mixer. I used a Kitchen Aid but sometimes I think kneading it by hands when I'm motivated and have the time doubles the health benefit.

After breakfast I decided to do a little work outside. The weather man predicted a high of 61 degrees Fahrenheit. A good day to haul the remains of this year's garden to the compost bin. It's a fall ritual that mentally closes the garden door. Not as exciting as planting flowers and vegetables in the spring but there's comfort in knowing that LoLa's Garden exist. Not just in my dreams but in reality. The memories linger and I remained contented throughout the winter months.

I have always admired the beautiful pink dogwood that seems to gracefully float outside a friend's apartment picture window. So when I saw a Pink Stellar Dogwood on sale in one of the local nursery, I bought it without asking too many questions. Well it's a dogwood alright but not the one I dreamed of owning. The one in my dreams have branches that grow horizontally. The branches on this one are more upright. The blooms are too few, more white than pink, and comes with too many leaves. Last summer it looked so stressed and I found out why. I noticed some vigorous branches growing on the trunk just a few inches above the ground and the leaves were slightly different. My tree was turning into a bush. I didn't know it was grafted to a root stock and didn't do anything to protect it last winter. I am hoping our winter this year won't be as harsh but just in case I removed the unwanted growth and covered the graft with mulch. I want it to survive and recover simply because of its history. It taught me something and the blooms are pretty. Don't you agree?

Lunch was fast and easy. A package of Top Ramen soup, about two cups of diced onions, celery, carrots, broccoli and leftover roast chicken meat = hearty soup for two. Sometimes I use cabbage instead of broccoli or angel hair pasta and chicken broth if I don't have Top Ramen. The result is basically the same. A homemade soup that is tastier, fresher and more satisfying. And it's almost as fast as nuking a canned soup.

Dear Heart was watching hockey, a commercial, no! A John Wayne movie, another commercial? No, back to hockey, still a commercial, checked history channel, back to hockey. It's one of the reason I don't watch TV but I had to laughed thinking about the advertisers not getting their money's worth. Back in the seventies when all we had was a rabbit ear on top of the TV set, I remember watching a lot of TV shows. Now that there are hundreds of channels on cable, I probably average around 3 to 5 hours a month. I am a reality show virgin and I think I'll keep it that way. Because there are so many things to read and Pogo's computer games are always waiting. Some games are a challenge and require a lot of play hours to master. I like winning. It feels good. Though sometimes I think the robot cheats, or maybe just luckier than me.

Hockey - DH and son are big fans. When the Spokane Arena was new I volunteered to use one of my son's season tickets (he had to work) not to see the Spokane Chiefs play but to see what the brand new arena looks like inside. I brought a book about forensic DNA and was amazed how my almost 20-year-old-5-credits in genetics helped me understand what the lab detectives were looking and doing with the specimens. Eventually the screaming stopped and DH told me it was time to go home. I asked "Who won?". Needless to say he still enjoys telling the story every chance he gets.

Hockey, is also the reason why a red and white Heart Surgery booklet from the Providence Heart and Vascular Institute in Spokane is on top of the coffee table. DH is very passionate about hockey. And it bothers me that he is now willing to miss a game when our son works and can't drop him off and pick him up at the front door. He is 74, the parking lot is too big and he have a hard time walking that far. So because and only because he so love hockey, I was able to convince him to see his primary doctor to asked for a handicapped parking permit so he can park close to the door and not miss a game. And without missing a beat the good doctor said okay but lets do a stress test first.

Of course the stress test showed some issues. The doctor send him to his cardiologist and he in turn ordered a coronary angiogram. DH had two blocked arteries that the doctors thought they could fix with stents but found out they couldn't. The wire would not go through the blockage. The stents were the first choice simply because they are less invasive. Plan B is bypass surgery.

Bypass surgeries are almost too routine nowadays. I'm sure most people in industrial countries have heard or know somebody who had one. But it is still a major surgery that requires 4 to 6 weeks of recovery. According to the booklet, the purpose is to go around or "bypass" the artery that is blocked using a vein from the leg to improve blood flow to the heart. Although thoracic surgeons are doing it everyday, it still sounds like a science fiction. A very complicated procedure that often use a heart-lung machine to pump blood to the body while the heart is temporarily stopped.

Tomorrow DH will see the heart surgeon. At the main time he is recovering from the previous failed procedure. It's been 4 days and he's still a little sore. We were told that surgeons don't like to do major surgery until the Plavix, a blood thinner that was given to him in anticipation of the stents is out of his system. Fancy started climbing on his lap and snipping his chest, burying her little nose as if she smelled or sense something bad. And I'm back staring at the birds. The birds I bought as garden ornaments and ends up collecting dust under the buffet. At first it was just a roaster, a hen and a chick I found at the thrift shop. Then my daughter gave me the one she got from CBK when she was a sales rep. And then it became an excuse to visit the thrift shop. Finally I decided to build a bird sanctuary under the pink dogwood tree. Maybe next year.

The thrift shop is my favorite place to explore when I'm bored, or when my mind is actively creating and collecting nothing but negative thoughts. When I'm looking at other peoples junk and watching other people who are also looking at it, I'm cheaply entertained. At the thrift store, my mind is now occupied and busy wondering what's this and what's that and why somebody got rid of it. At the book section I saw a must have Chocolate Lover's cookies and brownie cookbook for 99 cents. And at the kitchen ware section, a unique looking baking pan, also for 99 cents. If for any reason I find these stuff not worth keeping when I get home, I simply donate it back. A cheap thrill for me and another buck for them.

I love chocolate. The Nutty Clusters cookie recipe I found in my new to me Chocolate Lover's cookbook looks good, but I didn't have the right ingredients. No problem. Tweaking is my middle name and improvising is my game. I don't think I could copy and publish the recipe without the publisher's permission, so I won't. But here's what I did. Instead of unsweetened chocolate (2 oz for cookie and 2 oz for icing) I use 3 oz of Ghirardilli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate baking bar for the cookie and just 1 oz for the icing. Making only half of the icing is good for me but it's not enough icing to cover all the cookies. I also replaced the salted nuts with walnuts and I am very satisfied with the result. Still I'm wondering about the unusual baking pan. It is made in England. Please leave a comment if you know more about it.

What's for dinner? One word. Leftovers.

November 28 update:
I apologize for leaving this post as a draft for a long time. I just didn't have the time, the energy, and the right frame of mind to finish it. DH is right on schedule. He is successfully recovering from his triple bypass surgery and is free to drive again. What a relief. The driving restriction was almost as depressing for him as the open heart.


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  3. Hi LoLa, hope everything is al right. Best wishes. T.