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Showing posts from December, 2020

Tylenol does not cure everything

CREDIT: STAT   Yesterday, I leaned over the BBQ to get the last bits of ice to form a snowball for Hershey. Off-balance, I slid in the muck and landed on my hip. It was throbbing by time I went to my port flush appointment; the nurse there recommended I go to the ED. She called down and left my port accessed. The had only one room - unless I wanted to wait an hour - and it had only a chair in it. I called Better Half to tell him the bay number, and then spent a good amount of time trying to get into any position that would alleviate the pressure on my nerves. I'm usually not at the ED this early in the morning. I didn't recognize any of the staff. They have a new doctor and she didn't believe I was in pain.  That floored me. She put in an order for an xray of my hip, and then left me to whimper. It took Better Half pushing the call button and insisting I was in pain before any medication was given.  To be clear, I do have preexisting and extensive damage to my L4, L5, S1 an

Gold & Gouda Au Gratin

  Sometimes the best part of a holiday meal is comfort food and not fancy dished made only once a year.    Better Half kit-bashed a potato recipe this year. It was absolutely delicious, and belongs on our normal winter menu from now on. It was so simple to make, too.   GOLD & GOUDA AU GRATIN     INGREDIENTS 6 Yukon gold potatoes peeled & sliced (2lbs)   1 small onion, sliced ½ stick butter (1/4 cup butter) ¼ cup flour Tablespoon salt (or to taste) ½ tsp pepper (or to taste) ½ tsp thyme (or to taste) Pinch nutmeg or to taste 2 ½ milk 1 cup (or 1 and ¼) Gouda 4 slices of bacon, cooked   RECIPE Preheat oven to 350°. In a small pan, melt butter, then add flour and spices and whisk. Add milk and whisk until thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Add cheese, continuously stir until bubbling and thick (2 minutes more, or less, until cheese is melted and blended). Remove pan from heat.  Spray an 8", deep casserole dish. Add a layer of potatoes, onions, and bacon – repeat layers with p

Peppery Roast Beef and Horseradish Sauce

With its spicy coating and creamy horseradish sauce, this tender roast is sure to be the star of any meal, whether it’s a sit-down dinner or serve-yourself potluck.—Maureen Brand, Somers, Iowa    Christmas dinner in the Gruffhouse isn't very traditional. We pick a meat and hunt down a good recipe. No creature is safe; game hens, duck, turkey, ham and pork, and beef are welcomed for the holiday meal. We chose beef this year, and settled on Taste of Home 's Peppery Roast Beef recipe*. Here is our review of it. The recipe for the roast is very basic. Most cooks have the stuff on hand.We don't normally use seasoned pepper so this, in addition to the meat, was all we had to purchase.  We went with the exact measurements called for in the recipe, and found a 5 pound top round roast.  Photo credit: Taste of Home The spices blended well and lent a fabulous taste to the beef. It's comfortably peppery and without the sinus-clearing heat found on most pepper-encrusted roasts. Co

Acts of Kindness

      Sometimes it's the small things in life that have the most impact. A kind gesture and supportive shoulders become precious when we've spent forever battling uphill. The same applies to the negative moments, when a word or deed impacts us adversely to create barriers and hinder us, or hit us hard enough to crush our souls. There's no political angle in my words. This isn't about "us v. them". Rather, I encourage us to take time out of our busy day to thank someone for the positive impact they've made on us; to pay it forward, shaping positive moments for others. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.    

Christmas Day 2020

 Christmas Day was very laid back this year. It's just the three of us so there wasn't any need to make fussy food, or put on our Sunday best clothing.  I did miss the annual tradition of going to Mass. It's one more thing that COVID strips from us. A bit of browsing Twitter left me more than puzzled. People were absolutely upset. They couldn't "go home" for Christmas, or have large gatherings, or go to church. Having grown up listening to wartime stories (WWII) from my parents and (WWI from grandparents), I don't understand how or why people are so selfish now. Shit happens. I had wrapped presents on Christmas Eve. I'll point out for historical record that I lost the warming mittens I bought for my mom. Hershey did not like seeing those gifts the next morning. Their presence spooked the hell out of him. Mom and Better Half liked their blankets - especially the new woobie. Better Half got my mom a beautiful silver cross, and I have a new silver pendan

Merry Christmas!

     T H E T O T I N - W H E E L E R F A M I L Y      W I S H E S Y O U A       M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S           ─ ─ ─ ─ & ─ ─ ─ ─        H A P P Y N E W Y E A R       M A Y Y O U R D A Y S B E F I L L E D   W I T H L O V E , L A U G H T E R , & H E A L T H        

Surprise: lemon curd!

      There are days when my mother's antics leave me giggling.  She bought boots from a dollar store yesterday. We can't try on apparel during the pandemic, so she promptly broke the rules and slid one onto her foot when nobody was looking. Seemed to fit. Into the cart they went. She tried them both that evening and was disappointed to find that they really didn't fit. I left her pacing the foyer and insisting they would have to do. She called me a few moments later to say that these boots fit perfectly... once she removed the wadded up tissue paper stuffed into the toes. Her age has nothing to do with it. She's always done silly stuff like this. I love her even more for it. The years have slightly dulled her common sense, sure, and she makes the weirdest choices, but she's ten times healthier and more cognitive than her peers. Yesterday's nonsense carried into today. I opened to fridge to find a jar of lemon curd occupying her shelf. Lemon curd? In nearly fif

The Hovering Dog

    It's a week of pauses without much desire to reflect. The Journal is in limbo for at least a few days more. In the meantime, enjoy another mindless dog thing.  Angus "hovers". It looks frikken weird, but he was trained to not touch or push on doors. So straight up he goes rather than tap on the screen.   

Patron Saint Series

Hershey, Patron Saint of the Bork Borks

Winter II: the aftermath

    Good grief! It's terrible outside.    

In other OTHER news: Winter

 Winter, sweet winter. It has finally decided to arrive. In flakes. Piled 7" deep. Leaving motorists stranded on the black ice, and wiping out power lines to plunge communities into darkness. But it's really pretty! I gave up trying to get to Pittsburgh. The Ohio 7 was a stretch of ice covered in slush. The vehicle in front of me lost traction and completed a lovely circle before hitting the concrete divider. None of us were going fast but the impact slowly crumpled the plastic over her/his wheel well.  The highway patrolman behind me snapped on his flashers and motioned for me to along. No sense in contributing to a multi-car clusterpuck. Going surface through town was just as horrid. I took a video - meaning I turned on the camera and didn't care if anything was in frame or not; I'll find a way to upload it to YouTube or something. Now home, with hunger-satiated dogs, I'm looking forward to a cup of soup and a fleece blanket. I feel horrible that I couldn't r

In other news... Arecibo telescope collapses

     December is a rough month for me. Everything seems to die. Some of our dogs have died during this month though, over the years, I had forgotten just how many. Even Truffle died a year before my dad - both sharing 14 December as their final day. With Better Half in the hospital for tightness in his chest, I can't help but feel more than antsy during an awful, brackish collection of days that serve no purpose but to remind me that A)  I still don't have the Christmas tree up, and B) the stomach bug may be back. In other news, Scott Manley published a video analyzing the Arecibo 305-meter telescope's final moments. (You can view the raw footage on NASA's no-frills site or read the NSF presser .) You didn't know about Arecibo? Don't feel bad about it. The political fracas has pushed all the worthwhile news into the corners, easily missed unless you sweep the area. But don't expect the news to shift much from politics before Terry Gilliam's Foot of Cu

REFLECTIONS: Dad's Anniversary

It was December 14th - exactly one year ago - and Angus knew this was Dad's last day. I felt it in my heart, too, and so I sat in Dad's cozy chair and reassured both him and Gus that everything will be alright. My old pup pinned back his ears and peered at me, as though trying to convey a sorrowful and intense message.   I know, Gus.             It'll be okay.                     I love you, Dad.                             It'll be okay.  It didn't feel okay, but what could anyone do about it? Time marches onward and, if we can't hold the bad stuff at bay, we should embrace all the good parts as they arrive. Two days ago, I fulfilled my promise to put Christmas up. After I pushed the lit tree back into the corner, I went to his bed and whispered to him, "Daddy, the tree is up." His mouth's corners lifted slightly. This would be the last time my father communicated with us. He slipped even further after that. My mother loves to share the story

Destroying Democracy, Unchecked

  Transcript of  OLBERMANN VS. TRUMP #38 : SCOTUS KILLS TRUMP'S TEXAS SUIT. NOW: PUNISH GOP CONGRESSMEN WHO BACKED IT. 11 December 2020. This is Olbermann versus Trump and I'm not Trump.  As you know, the Supreme Court, including all of Trump's appointees, has now laughed Trump's sedition suit, filed by the pardon-seeking Attorney General of Texas, out of court.  Do not say, "Of course it has".  Do not say, "Thank god that's over".   Do assume that Trump has something else planned. Particularly, watch this just-below-the-radar plot to challenge individual voters in the Electoral College, and never forget that the vast majority of one political party in this country happily signed on in support of overthrowing the duly elected government of the United States and, in particular, remember that this disloyal anti-democracy suit was supported by 126 republican members of the House of Representatives, including the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Spontaneous Explosions

 I am tentatively sitting here and hoping to not spontaneously explode. Not the spontaneous human combustion sort of explosion. Rather, it's the sort of explosion normally meant for the porcelain god. Yes, it's spontaneous but the fire is purely internal. Sure, I feel well enough to bastardize a "symptoms of depression" chart. My goal for the day is to drive to the store to get dog food; we're literally scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Part of me thinks it would be a good idea to take the truck. It's meant for hard-working men doing hard-working jobs. In other words, we can clean it out with a hose should I explode. An image comes to mind of Better Half hosing the brown out of it while the gas company workers (laying new gas lines on our block) look on. "Hey, that's a lot of mud," one might venture. "Mud? Oh, it's not mud. My wife exploded in here," might be his likely reply. I lost 12 pounds, not that it puts a dent in anyo

Hospital adventures

  I felt like shit yesterday.    Not that COVID sort of shit where taste is lost and breathing difficult. Nope, this was a weird sort of shitty feeling, like a bout of hypercalcemia after I eat too much ice cream. It scared the hell out of me. So to the ED we went. Enzymes run, calcium checked. It was normal. They held me overnight in a Gucci room. I feel like shit today.   Not that angio sort if shit where an elephant sits on your chest and your arms tingle. Nope, this is a typical sort of shitty feeling caused by no food, no meds, and typical chronic back pain. I slept like the dead and that helped with the fatigue.  Dr Ziggy dropped by. Everything looks good. He'll add something for acid reflux, and await Dr N's instruction. It's likely that I'll be referred back to Dr Miracle for outpatient assessment, and they might increase my hypertension meds. And I can eat food! I'm starving. The staff on this floor is so sweet. People are running thin due to being at near

Winter finally arrives

    The first snow of the season quietly crept through the Ohio Valley, casting a thick blanket over every surface. Its weight bowed the leafy limbs of the trees stubbornly clinging to Autumn. I sipped my coffee and kept an eye on the accumulation. There would be no walkies with Hershey today. He still managed to get some exercise into his day - what could be better than running through a buffet? Seriously, this dog loves to consume water. Ice cubes, hail, snow, water bowls, an unattended drink. It doesn't matter what form it takes, it is automatically his to take in. I packed a tight snowball and brought it upstairs. His reaction was priceless: OMG OMG These things are inside too?! Alas for us, the blanket will melt soon.

Haiku: Kitchen Bed

            Two brudders, one bed in front of the furnace vent; They begin to snore.