Sunday, January 22, 2012

what I thought about menopause before it began (for me)

Here's "Running Out of Eggs," as I performed it at the Vancouver Poetry Slam earlier this month. I wrote the poem about 8 years ago. Now I can say it's honestly true to life.

question: got any eggs?

mompoet - it's okay, either way

Friday, January 20, 2012


Ibuprofen - my friend in times of OUCH!

Massage - coincidentally had a massage at work appointment. Therapist worked on my low back, gluteal muscles and hip. Sounds like weak low back and inner thigh muscles may be park of the problem. Now it's my job to strengthen, stretch, assess how I stand and take the pressure off by being stronger, longer and better balanced. OK!

Not walking - I drove to work, then Alex took the car away for his evening shift at the theatre, then I took the bus home. Yay community shuttle! It felt weird. I kept looking out the window of the bus saying to myself, "I walk there. I walk there."

Icing and Heating - I have a frozen water bottle that I roll on the floor under my foot. It's dreadfully cold at first, then very nice. I also have a magic bag. I use it while I'm stretching my foot.

Visualisation - I have pictures in my mind of back muscles, bum muscles, leg muscles and the structures of the foot. I am picturing them all well and happy.

question: what do you do when you want to fix something that is inside you?

mompoet - healing my heel and soothing my hip

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ouch! (I have the menopause foot)

I was walking to work Monday morning when I began to experience pain in my left heel. I hobbled the rest of the way in, and discovered that my heel is somehow injured. I have a burning pain on the bottom of my heel, where I stand on it. Every step hurts. Over the next couple of days the pain got worse, then subsided, then got worse, then subsided.

I had heard about this, so I looked it up on the internet. I will go see the doctor, but it will take a few days to get in to see her, so for now, the internet and friends will help.

The internet suggests plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the connective tissue where it attaches under the heel bone. It is caused/aggravated, by tightness in the tendons and ligaments inside the arch of the foot. Suggested treatments include, rest, icing, massage, stretching the foot and calf, and anti-inflammatory meds. You can also get a night splint or a sock that stretches the foot and calf gently while you are not thinking about it.

So I'm taking the ibuprofen, stretching, not walking 10 kilometers a day (starting today), and icing. As I post this, I'm rolling a frozen water bottle under my arch and heel. Feels good! I happen to have a massage appointment this morning so I'll ask for advice and help there too.

Lots of friends have had this. I have a generous offer to borrow the foot stretching sock from dear Cathy, and tons of encouragement from all around. The funniest part is that one of the senior ladies at my work (a retired registered nurse) said, "I don't mean to say you're getting old, Sue, but this injury is very common in women around menopause."

So it seems that part of being 50 may be a greater susceptibility to injuries or at least to inflammation or perhaps a lower pain tolerance. I will do what I can to get better because darn it, I like to walk 10 kilometers a day. I plan to do it for at least another 30 or 40 years.

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement, about my pain, my age, and my prognosis for deterioration. We are all deteriorating. We can do it with care, even with flare.

question: have you ever had a pain in your heel?

mompoet - ouch!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

resume life as usual (for 3.5 weeks)

We drove Fiona down to Seattle last night. She slept over at her college roommate's house there, and is in the air on her way back to New Jersey as I post this. We had an awesome 4 week visit with her, and while I know I'll miss having her here at home, I feel none of the wrenching sadness at separation this time. This is partly because Andy, Alex and I will fly to New York mid-February to see her perform in a musical at the university, so we'll see her again in less than a month. Then she'll fly home in March for Spring Break. More importantly, we know that she is very happy at Montclair, with her courses, her friends, her accommodations. She's in the right place, doing the right thing. This is exactly what she should be doing. While I'll miss her, I am over-the-moon happy to know that she is happy and doing well.

I have been enjoying 3 weeks of vacation, planned so I could be at home with the family over Christmas, and make the most of Fiona's visit. It has been lovely to have that stretch of time, with few commitments and lots of room for improvisation. Mostly I have relaxed and responded to opportunities as they have come up. This last week I have been available to tend to Fiona and Alex while they mostly rested up with bad colds. This isn't what I would have wished for them, but they've got through it okay, and I am glad that I've been here to help make them comfortable.

Tomorrow I will return to work. I've been around the office a bit while on vacation, because I've been going to the rec centre to work out. My wonderful co-workers have been taking care of business, but I'll have a bit of catching up to do, so I anticipate a hectic week. I don't dread returning. I love my work, and I'm going back very well rested. We'll celebrate Chinese New Year with the seniors, and start up all of our winter programs, and work on the brochure that advertises Spring and Summer sessions, and also work on our annual budget updates. I also have an Insights team session to facilitate, and an on-call week leading right up to the day before we fly to New York in February. I'm looking forward to all of it.

For fun, I'm looking forward to seeing Red at the Vancouver Playhouse next weekend. Then Andy and I have tickets to the Ovation Awards at the end of the month (that's the Vancouver musical theatre award night). On Feb 2, I'll be part of a wonderful birthday celebration for my friend, poet and author Irene Livingston. So many good things coming up!

While I'm not one to worry (much), I do have a bit of a laundry list of those going on. They are, in part, why I am looking forward to resuming my regular routine. Once I'm working again, I won't have time to waste on worrying. For the record, here they are: Did Fiona's suitcase weigh more than 50 pounds?/Will Fiona be allowed to carry her new ukulele on the plane or will they try to make her check it and put it in the cargo hold?/Will Alex's cough finally go away?/Will Fiona's ears hurt on the plane?/Will Alex be able to drive to work safely in the rental car that has only all-weather tires or should Andy and I drive him to work and back in Andy's car with snow tires?/Will snow make my Monday morning walk to work slow going so I should get up extra early?/Will I need to cancel programs at work Monday morning because of snow?/Where is my car?/Will I accidentally sleep in on Monday morning?/Will Fiona and Shannon have a smooth journey from JFK Airport to the university with all of their luggage in tow?/Do we have any more soy sauce in the pantry or do I need to buy some? Okay, when I start to worry about soy sauce you can see that things are really okay.

question: are you worrying about something today?

mompoet - teeny weeny worries, big happy life

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

winter colds

Alex and Fi are both down with colds. Andy is back to work this week after a vacation interrupted by a few unexpected call-ins to cover for a co-worker. I am still home on vacation. I took Alex to the walk-in clinic last night when he spiked a fever after a week of up and down with coughing etc. Dr took a throat swab for culture but says it looks like just a nasty cold. I hope he feels better soon. I hope Fi feels better before she flies back to NJ on Sunday. In the meantime: books, magazines, ibuprofen, ColdFX, macaroni and cheese, hot apple juice with ginger and cinnamon. I can "mom" a cold, yes I can.

question: have you been a care-giver or care-needer recently?

mompoet - always both

Saturday, January 07, 2012

3 weeks rocks

It's Saturday afternoon. I'm lounging in my pajamas at the computer. Two of my three weeks of Winter vacation have passed. I timed it to be home until Fiona returns to university. It has been a lazy-ish, low-stress-ish vacation so far. Highlights:

  • Worked through the 23rd, did not stress about "getting ready for Christmas" but got decorations and tree up, a modest number of gifts bought, some cards out, what else is there?
  • Helped at the family Christmas Eve service at church. It was lovely as usual.
  • Celebrated the Eve after church with neighbours including grown up and almost grown up children. We stayed up way too late!
  • Celebrated Christmas day at Mom-in-law's then Mom and Dad's house. Nice, small, family time.
  • Saw a couple of movies - War Horse and Tintin. I want to see more movies before I go back to work!
  • Read a couple of novels. Fault Lines by Nancy Huston and Room by Emma Donoghue. I want to read more novels before I go back to work!
  • Lazed for one week then got back to workouts at the gym. I have time for spin classes when I'm on vacation. I love the intensity. I'm also visiting the weight room, so I don't miss my walks to and from the office too much.
  • Hung out with Andy, watched a few movies at home on DVD.
  • Hosted a mom and daughter footie pajama party and also a dress up New Year's Eve party.
  • Had my car stolen (still missing)
  • Saw The Sound of Music at Gateway Theatre in Richmond and Romeo and Juliet at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre. Learned how to spell Tsawwassen. Both were community theatre productions. Both were excellent.
  • Went to the Vancouver Poetry Slam, competed for the first time in over a year, came in third. YAY! I want to go to some more poetry slams and compete with some new poems.
  • Did not shop much, but bought an awesome stock pot less than half price after Christmas. Now I don't have to cook soup in a canning pot. Will cook more soup before I return to work.
  • Booked a trip to New York City with Andy and Alex in February. We'll see Fiona in a show at the university, and I'll introduce Alex and Andy to New York, and to our friends and family who live there.
  • Cooked and cooked and cooked. Yes, I love to cook!
  • Got new eyeglasses. I can see clearly now!
  • Went for lunch a few times. 
  • Revived acquaintance with my twitter account - mostly copied facebook statuses to twitter feed 
  • Celebrated our niece's 21st birthday. 
  • Slept in and stayed up late. Weird for me!
  • Didn't do much house-cleaning. GOOD!
On the agenda for week 3 of 3:
  • Belated birthday day of adventure (my birthday) with Fiona. Will include Kitsilano and Granville Island.
  • Friend Michele's birthday celebration
  • More spin classes. Possible purchase of cycling shoes
  • Writing poems
  • Cooking, but not cleaning (much)
  • Haircut? maybe.
question: what did you do as the days slowly began to lengthen and the nights to shorten?

mompoet - three weeks rocks

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

butter chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts

I'm having a really great vacation. I've been off work since Christmas Eve, and won't return to the office until January 16. Three weeks at home is really nice. At this point, it feels like forever since I started my vacation, and forever again until I must return to work. I'm enjoying time with the family and with friends and going out a bit more than I would if I was working. I am also really enjoying cooking. Here's how I make one of my favourite suppers. It's easy to make, satisfying to eat, and special enough to serve to company, AND it uses the little red pot. Perfect, huh?

Butter chicken begins with chicken. I use boneless skinless breasts, cut up into chunks. I cook them up in my little red pot, using just a bit of vegetable oil. For 4-6 servings I cook about a pound and a half of chicken in two batches. Cooked chicken and the juice that comes out go into a bowl on the side of the stove.

Next I chop up about 1.5 large onions or 2 medium ones, and saute these in the little red pot, using a moderate amount of real butter (about 1/3 cup). The rest of the recipe is really healthy, and the butter gives it the right to be called "butter chicken." Believe me, it's worth it.

Cook those onions in the butter for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile you can chop up some tomatoes. If you don't have tomatoes you can use some tomato puree or paste. I used three smallish tomatoes.

Now the magic ingredient: spice packet seasoning. I get these at my produce store. They have packets for Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai recipes. So far I have found they are all good. I use two packets for this amount of chicken. Put the chicken and juice back in with the onions and add the tomatoes, the contents of the spice packets (kind of a wet paste of seasonings) and 2/3 cup each of yogurt and water. If you want to be decadent, you can use cream instead of yogurt. I prefer the tanginess of yogurt, and the sauce is rich enough just from the butter.

When you stir it all together it will be thick, then when it heats up, it gets quite liquidy. Never fear, it will thicken. Here's how it looks at first:

Leave it uncovered on medium heat. Cook it for about 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is somewhat reduced and substantially thickened.

While it cooks, you can put some rice on, and also make some yummy roasted Brussels sprouts. Wash and trim as many sprouts as you want to serve. These are good reheated, so you can make extra if you like. Put them on a baking pan covered with parchment. Drizzle them with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper at least. You can use rosemary, or another favourite herb if you like. These are good with just about any flavouring.

Bake them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven, stirring once or twice, for about 15-25 minutes depending on the sice of the sprouts. If you're in a hurry, you can cut them in half before cooking. But you're in no hurry if you're waiting for that butter chicken sauce to thicken.

Look! The sauce finally thickened up and turned golden. The whole house smells delicious, and everyone is climbing the walls, ready for supper. And the Brussels sprouts?

They are perfect - cooked through but not mushy, with a few bits of roasted brown on the edge of each sprout. Don't miss the stray leaves on the pan. They are crispy and delicious. Crispy Brussels sprout leaves?  Can you believe it? I think they are good enough to win over even a sprout-avoider.

Plated up, it looks like this. I was so hungry I didn't even tidy up the sauce splash on the rim of the plate. This is a wonderful warm and earthy combination for a winter evening.

Yum yum yum. Butter chicken. My new favourite comfort food, good enough for company.

question: do you like Brussels sprouts?

mompoet - Brussels sprouts remind me of the pictures of cabbages in Mr MacGregor's garden

Monday, January 02, 2012

new year's day brunch - eggs with veggies

This is probably my favourite easy meal. I have actually posted this recipe before, but never with photos, so here it is, in all its glory. I eat this for breakfast, lunch or supper interchangeably. It always includes eggs and cheese. Those are the constant ingredients. Sometimes I serve it with a warmed tortilla (then I call it "tortilla and eggs"). Sometimes I add rice or potatoes on the side, if I'm serving it to a hungry eater. I usually eat it just the way it's shown in this post, eggs and veggies. The veggies can be whatever you have on hand. I try for an abundance of green plus at least 2 other colours. This dish has to be colourful.

Begin by chopping up some veggies. This time I used purple onion, red pepper, red tomatoes, green broccoli and green kale. Ideally I would have used yellow or orange pepper to add another colour. It seems redundant to use two red veggies, but red was the only pepper colour in my veggie drawer on New Year's Day, so there you go.

Chop up enough for one serving or more, but cook just one serving at a time. It takes a frying pan to make one serving of eggs with veggies. Heat the pan, add some olive oil and saute the veggies briefly. They'll cook some more along with the eggs, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
So now the veggies are beginning to cook and they're all lightly coated with the olive oil. Make a nest in the middle of the veggies and break in two eggs. I'm careful with this step because I like my yolks whole and soft. If you like the broken and firm, go for it! Top the eggs with some bits of cheese. I used Macedonian feta this time, but pretty much any kind of cheese works well, and you don't need much. Try your favourite and let me know how you like it. Oh, I sliced on some slivers of kalamata olives too.
Now plop a lid over the veggies. You can use a lid big enough for the whole pan. I prefer a lid just big enough to cover the food. It makes a tight little dome inside of which the eggs cook sunnyside (using the steam from the cooking veggies) and the veggies get cooked a bit crispy on the bottom. You can experiment with this part too, if your preference varies from mine.
For cooked whites, runny yolks and slightly-browned-on-the-bottom veggies, I give it about 3 minutes on medium high heat. You can peek and poke and decide when the eggs and veg are done to your liking. Then you just slide them out onto a plate. I like a little salsa on top. I had some leftover hummus that my niece made, which I served on some lavash crackers with a drizzle of olive oil.
With a meal like this, who needs to nibble the leftover chocolates from the New Year's party? Not me!
question: what do you like to eat the day after the party?

mompoet - May your 2012 be filled with everyday meals that taste like a celebration of goodness!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

what we really did

The New Year's Eve party began at 4:45 in the afternoon. Several guests arrived late because of the slow service during the seniors' special hour at Denny's Restaurant. Never mind, there was plenty of room in our fridge for leftover liver and onions, brought by those who did not have time to finish their meals. A festive bowl of Ensure meal replacement drink stood at the entry door, ensuring that one and all would maintain a life-sustaining blood sugar level throughout the evening.

We tuned in to watch that young buckaroo Dick Clark ring in the New Year in Times Square in New York, but were disappointed to find out that it didn't start until 10:30pm Eastern time, which is 7:30pm Pacific time (where we are) and so much to late for us. So we played Canasta instead.

After my husband spiked the Ensure bottles with a bit of sherry, we got frisky and decided to play the well-known seniors' party game, musical dentures. Everyone took their teeth out and plopped them in the punchbowl. I doled out cups of punch. Whichever pair of dentures you got, those were the ones you wore. We took photos. Hilarity ensued. When I get the film developed I'll photocopy the pictures and pass them around to all the guests. That should be in about March or April, because I didn't totally finish the roll. There's a couple of shots left which I don't want to waste, so I'll save it for the next time I take pictures, like Easter, then get them developed.

We had all just eaten supper at Denny's, so of course we weren't hungry, but of course there's never going to be enough to eat, so we all filled our plates up with the treats that everyone brought. Meals on Wheels must have delivered tilapia and peas this week, because there was a lot of tilapia and peas, plus a fruitcake that I think has been making the rounds for a couple of years. It was good that the food was soft because we were all working with unfamiliar teeth.

About 5:15 we put on party hats and got noisemakers. My neighbour Ethel says she doesn't need a noisemaker because her husband George makes a noise everytime he stands up or sits down in his chair. So George got ready to stand up and sit down a few times. Then we counted down 10-9-8-7... but we forgot the numbers a couple of times so it was a good thing we started early. We shouted Happy New Year sometime around 5:30. Then Gertie's husband Eric said, "WHAT?" because he had his hearing aid turned down because you would too if you had to live with Gertie. So anyway we had to count down again so Eric could hear it this time. Then it was almost 6 o'clock and we didn't want to miss Jeopardy on TV so everyone went home.

Dear young adult children, nieces and nephews, I hope that this fulfills your idea of how we OLD people celebrate new year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR (what???)

mompoet - not so very old