Cooking for One

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Eating alone is not fun.  I frequently post on social media about my cooking mistakes and catastrophe’s.  I used to do it in the hope that some femme would take pity on me and I’d end up with a girlfriend who not only cooks, but would take care of me.

Perfect-Pumpkin-Bread

Fortunately for me, my girlfriend not only cooks but bakes, and enjoys doing so.  She even sends care packages that allows me to share in her baking endeavors.  I have yet to eat one of her prepared meals I hear about, but, someday, I know I will.  She is caring and loving and I know the same will go into her meals.

Those who think I can’t cook don’t realize it isn’t that I can’t, it’s that I won’t.  There is a distinct difference.  Cooking, when I do it, is terrible when there is only you, or your pets, to appreciate it.  As I no longer have pets, it’s even more lonely.  I actually can cook and do so with gusto when I have the urge.  I usually make too much and then end up with massive leftovers that I eat for days.  Another bad side-effect because you actually get SICK of whatever you prepare.  I try to freeze the meals into convenient one-meal sized containers.  Last fall I even bought a second set in order to make enough to last me.  It really did too, the meals lasted more than a month.

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I have yet to prepare a meal for my girlfriend as the opportunity hasn’t arisen.  I do think of the meals I could prepare because she is a vegetarian and I, am not.  It should prove to be quite the challenge.  We shall see how that works out.  She never slips.  She’s healthy and slim and very dedicated to her life style…at least for a dozen or more years!  Now that’s dedication!

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I write in some of my books about the meals, I actually research these things, not eating the meals themselves too often, but enough that it makes it feel real.  Many times as I’m writing it I find myself hungry.  It really is hard not to snack instead of eating a complete meal.  I frequently find myself eating smaller meals and more often, they tell me that is healthier anyway…right.

If you get a chance, check out my latest offering, cooking is a challenge for one of the characters and I can relate…

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Another NEW year, celebrate WITH me!

I don’t know why this date always sticks out, because I don’t recall the exact day I found out I had cancer.  However, I do remember it was April, I’d just come back from an expo with my sons, my mother had died of brain cancer in January, I was selling my house in Southern California, I was finishing up my lengthy divorce that had taken over six years, and I was very, very sick.  I couldn’t breathe.  It was a Wednesday when I got in to see the doctor.  On Thursday I had x-rays, on Friday I went in for a biopsy…I was awake for the surgery where they removed the lymph nodes in my neck…it was gross because I could see the entire procedure on the shiny light above me, I couldn’t move from the anesthetic paralysis they had put me in, but they wanted me to talk to them, you know, in case they hit my vocal chords?

I’d been sick for a year, I knew it, as a woman, as a mother, and as someone who feels things very intrinsically.   I ignored it.  Why?  I was trying to raise two boys.  They were, when I found out my prognosis, aged twelve and ten.  I was also trying to run two businesses, one of them internationally and it was growing exponentially.  I was also trying to maintain two households.  I had a house in Huntington Beach, CA and another that I was renting in Los Osos, CA.  Then, my mother started behaving oddly.  She was living in our house in Huntington Beach and I was ‘home’ for the weekend.  I remember the first sign vividly in October of 2000 as it still hurts, even though she didn’t mean it, and it was so out of character for her.

We were watching some TV and a commercial came on about abuse.  A woman of about forty was yelling.  You would assume by what she was yelling that she was saying it to kids, abusing them.  Then the camera panned out to show a little old lady, practically cringing away from yelling woman.  I was horrified.  I turned to my mother and told her how much that commercial upset me.  Not that it was okay if it was children she was yelling at, neither was it okay to yell at a defenseless older woman.  My mother looked at me almost blankly for a moment and said, “Well, what do you think you do to me?”  I stared at her in the same horror that I had felt at seeing that commercial.  I gasped.  I also defended myself.  I said, “I would never speak to you in that manner!”  She had raised me correctly and she knew I would NEVER raise my voice to her.  She subsided after that.  I, however, realized something was wrong.  My wonderful, kind, and patient mother was behaving irrationally, that was the ‘first’ incident that I was aware of.

In November of that year, I bought another house, this time in Los Osos, CA, across the bay from Morro Bay, CA, so we could all live under one roof again.  It had to have a fenced in yard since we had two dogs, five cats, two growing boys, and my mother and I, as well as near enough to my warehouse in Morro Bay.  We were all elated as I signed the paperwork.  I had told no one as I didn’t want to jinx it until it was complete, good thing too as a week after I signed the seller changed their mind.  I felt horrible as my mother was so excited about us living together again.  She adored her grandchildren which she had helped me raise once I became a single parent.  I firmly believe that with her help they turned into better human beings than they would have it I had been completely alone for those years.

At Thanksgiving, I arranged to have someone else cook our dinner, I was too busy with work and picked it up.  We really enjoyed the meal and my mother was behaving oddly.  I kept asking her if she was okay the whole weekend before I had to get back to my other home and work up in Morro Bay.  It was a four-hour drive.

My mother knew my 1-800 number (it’s a free number to call businesses to those of you who don’t have that in your country) by heart and called me at least once a day, or I called her to check in.  A week or so before Christmas I couldn’t reach her.  I tried for days.  I had the police go do a ‘wellness’ check where they go pound on the door and ask the occupant if they are ‘okay.’  There was no response.  I finished up my Christmas rush of orders as fast as I could and headed down as soon as the boys were out of school for the day.  No one answered the door, my key worked, but the door was bolted.  I could, however, hear the dogs barking.  I had to lift my boys, one by one, over the back fence.  My biggest worry was that she had died in the house and they would find her, there was nothing I could do.  They went through the dogie door.  I went around to the front of our town home and they let me in.  My mother was sitting on the couch and was like, “Hi there!”  I was not amused, but I was relieved.

Fortunately, across the common area of our townhome complex lived my friend Jill.  She had been a nurse for years and I went to see her after we visited for a while at mom’s.  I asked her what I should do and she recommended I take my mother to the E.R. and tell them about her altered state, just as I had told her.  With that course in mind I went home and asked my mother when was the last time she had bathed.  Clearly, she could no longer take care of herself and this altered state of mind worried me.  Was she taking her meds?  Was she feeding the dogs?  I had regular orders of groceries delivered, part of our phone calls so I could just arrange that all the time.  Everything ‘seemed’ fine but I knew something was wrong.  She asked me if she stank, I assured her that she didn’t, but wondered if a bath would make her ‘feel’ better.  It did.  We had a delightful evening together, just like always.  The next morning, I took her to the E.R., she would never return home.

Getting her to the hospital alone was a nightmare.  I had one of those extended vans and she couldn’t get up in it.  I tried to lift her, but as we were about equal in weight and height, that didn’t work.  Then, her colostomy bag broke and we had to clean her up.  It took two HOURS to get her out the door and to the E.R. which was about ten minutes away.  I felt so bad as though I had failed her as a daughter.  I hadn’t, but I felt that way.

They kept her because based on my description of her behavior, they ran a scan and found a brain-tumor.  The doctor was eager to operate.  I could imagine my mother’s horror at the idea.  She was a very conscientious and particular person…about the way things should and shouldn’t be done.  She was very classy, very dignified.  She’d already survived thyroid and colon cancer, she would not want her head shaved and them digging into her brain.  The tumor had metastasized already but not from her other two cancers.  I have a theory that when she went in for her regular checkup in June, that they found out about the tumor, and she chose not to tell me.  She chose to let it go.  I decided then and there, knowing my mother, that she wouldn’t want the brief amount of time the doctors would have given her with such a surgery.  She would want to go on, she was tired of fighting, she was tired of living, she would want to die with dignity.  We’d talked extensively over the years about her two cancers, her three strokes, and I knew her well enough to know what she would want and the decisions she would make if she could.  I refused to allow the surgery.  I told my mother who was lucid, but had short-term memory loss, my decision.  I wasn’t sure she was nodding because she trusted me or because she agreed with me.  After telling her three times that weekend that she was dying of a brain tumor, I was done, I wouldn’t tell her anymore.  It hurt too much.  This was Saturday when I admitted her, by Monday she was in a coma.  They said she would never awaken again and probably be dead by Thursday.  This was right before Christmas 2000.

My mother not only woke up again, she recognized me, my boys, and my brother when he visited.  Nothing like making a liar out of the doctors.  During the last days, she had a stroke.  She always thought she would die of a stroke since her mother had, so when she tried to ask me what was wrong with her and I couldn’t tell her again that she was dying of a brain tumor, I told her she’d had a stroke.  THAT she could understand and comprehend and it seemed to give her comfort.  She even tried, during the last days, to comfort me when I was crying about her dying.  She told me I would be okay, patting me on the stomach.  She was right, I would be okay.  When she slipped back into her coma a few days later, I told her to go on, don’t hang around for me, I would be fine, she raised a strong woman, and I loved her.  She died the next day on January 4, 2001.

Four months later in April I was dealing with my own prognosis and possible death.  It was terrifying for my two boys.  I tell you, if they didn’t exist, I probably would not have fought so hard.  The doctor told me if I did nothing that I would live maybe 4-5 months…and it wouldn’t be a very pleasant death, choking to death.  I became a human guinea pig.

You might wonder why I tell all this, part of it is to remember because I need to, to exorcise it from my psyche.  Part of it is to tell others that no matter how bad things are, you can do it, you can deal with it.  I write about strong women in my books because I am a strong woman, my mother was a strong woman, my grandmother was a strong woman, my great-grandmother was one too…so I come from a long line of strong women and that is what I know and write about.  Here’s a bit of trivia, I am the youngest daughter, of the youngest daughter, of the youngest daughter, of the youngest daughter…how is that for a legacy?  I have no daughters, lol

No matter what you go through, what you may go through, you can do it…I firmly believe that the fates, that a higher power, God if you believe, doesn’t give you ANYthing that you can’t handle.  So, celebrate with me that it’s been SIXTEEN years since that long-ago prognosis.  I’m here, I’m still publishing stories that I hope you all enjoy, AND there is more to come.

If you wish to read more about my cancer story, please click here, here, here, and for the first mention, here.

AND, as always, check out my website to look at all my amazing books!  (Click on the picture to be taken to the site)

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I am a SURVIVOR!

Lymphoma-CancerThis is the time of year where I reflect on the fact that I am a Cancer Survivor.  I tell you this, not to get sympathy or pity, but to, I hope, give people hope.  I was given four or five months to live.  Today, I celebrate fifteen years of survival.  It hasn’t been a bed of roses, life never is, however, for those of you who have gone through it, you understand.  For those of you who are going through it, it can have a good outcome.  For those of you who might face it, don’t give up, there is always hope.

Something people don’t know is that four months before my own prognosis of Lymphoma, my mother died of brain cancer.  This wonderful, classy, and supportive woman had survived thyroid cancer and colon cancer.  She wasn’t able to beat the brain cancer.  None of these were related to the other, that is, they didn’t metastasize and move on to another part of her body.  She SURVIVED the two bouts clear and free…she made it to the five year mark each time.  My mother was my best friend.  She helped me raise my sons and influenced the men that they became.  I am the youngest of five children and she raised us all to be survivors.32583_1459142009508_402903_n

imagesCAZSC590I am a survivor.  I am here FIFTEEN years later after my death sentence, after having gone through the most horrible treatment, an experiment.  Essentially I took twelve months of chemotherapy in twelve WEEKS.  At the time I took the treatment it was an experimental treatment, it wasn’t out on the market for everyone to try.  I have since found out that it now a standard for cancer treatments.  I don’t recommend it to just anyone, it’s horrible, I won’t kid you.  Throwing up as you sit on the throne, your insides coming outside from both ends is never attractive.  It did however stop my tumors from growing.

I was told I had tumors on both side of my neck.  The biopsy they did on the right side has left a scar in the crease of my neck…not too visible unless you are looking for it.  They decided instead of just a biopsy to remove all the lymph nodes that day.  I saw each moment of it as I wasn’t completely under and could see in the shiny reflection of the metals of the light above me.  I could also feel the tugging as they pulled them out.  It was gross.  I also had a four-inch tumor over my heart and lungs.  I also had one under my under arm.  The chemotherapy stopped the growth.  Fortunately for me I only had lymphoma in the upper part of my body, had it been throughout the prognosis would have been even more dire.

I chose the Stanford Five Protocol because I really had no other choice.  Had I done nothing I would have choked to death.  At a mere thirty-four years of age, with two children aged ten and twelve who had just lost their other parent, this did not appeal.

So today I celebrate with anyone who has beaten the odds.  Anyone who has gone through it, is going through it, or will go through it.  There is hope.  I’m convinced there is a cure (that’s a blog for another day about the pharmaceutical’s companies greed to keep us patients vs being cured).  So today I am a survivor!

GermanicI touch on it a little in my book Germanic, not exactly mind you, fictionalized of course.  I take real life experiences and put them into my books.  I hope you can relate and enjoy them.  I usually write about strong women who survive whatever life drama that is sent their way.  Whether you like or love my books, I hope they give you a story that stays with you.

Today, I am a SURVIVOR!

Original Post about what I went through.

Health Scare

Cardiac

This past week I was in the Emergency Room of one of our local hospitals.  I had called my doctor’s office to make an appt.  I’d had a serious case of the winter blahs despite the spring-like weather up here in the northwoods.  It was compounded by a persistent palpitation in my throat, you know, you can FEEL your heart beat and it’s so THERE!  My throat felt like it was closing off.  The tightness that was happening in my chest was a little alarming.  My arms were hurting too, going to sleep frequently, but I put that down to typing too much on the laptop without a break.

When I described these symptoms to first the nurse, then the nurse practitioner, who informed me that my regular doctor was out on an emergency medical leave for a replaced hip (ouch), she told me not to bother to go to the walk-in clinic…to get to the emergency room and not to delay.

Since I’d lived with the symptoms for two weeks, I wasn’t in a rush.  I took a hot bath and washed my hair.  I then got dressed and in layers since it was cold out.  Our spring-like weather had turned back to winter, definitely!  I had, over the weekend, gotten my motorcycle working and out of the living room (where else do you keep a motorcycle in the winter?).  I drove myself.  Yes, I know that could be irresponsible if I passed out and caused an accident but the hospital was only a mile and a half away and I seriously didn’t think an ambulance was necessary.  Besides there was no one to take me but myself.

The cat had been on top of me for weeks, wonder if she sensed something was wrong?  I put it down to feline senility.  It’s nice to be wanted, but get off my shoulder or head when I’m trying to sleep?  Much less pulling my hair all the time?

I walked in and told the clerk behind the desk why I was there.  I think, due to it being heart-related they saw me promptly and I was soon in a bed with one of those wonderful robes that no one in their right frame of mind would want to be seen wearing (yes that’s sarcasm).  They soon hooked me up and took my blood pressure.  The room got very quiet when they read the numbers.  I have never in my life except when I had my sons had high blood pressure, maybe once it read high, but never otherwise…and definitely not like this!  The high number was well over 200 and the nurse only told me that in a whisper.  As though saying it any louder would cause it to rise further…

I got to have chest x rays (and those who follow, remember last fall when we had that tumor scare?)  Turned out to nothing on them, a relief really after they tried to frighten me back then.  Really though, it was my throat that was bothering me the most…no x ray’s for that?

I was there a very long time, with a pressure cuff on my arm.  Now I HATE the automatic cuffs, they are always too damn tight and noisy!  Plus, this one, for an HOUR of waiting kept beeping an alarm on a regular basis.  I tried to go to my happy place, you know, daydreaming um, er, as an author…I was working…really!  Finally I pressed the button for the nurse to come in and stop that damned beeping!  I asked WHAT we were waiting for and could I go?

Finally, the doctor came in with a non-committal bunch of nonsense that irritated rather than informed.  Why assume that your patient is an idiot and talk to them in circles?  When I asked informed and (I hope) intelligent questions I got further run around.  The surprise on his face was worth it and I could tell he wanted to get out of there as he avoided answering my direct questions.  I’m not known for my patience.  It was decided to put a monitor on me for 48 hours and at the end of that time they would have more data.

Fortunately I could ‘write’ in my mind because they kept me waiting an eternally long time, AGAIN!  I know, I’m not a patient patient!  I was giving them an entire hour again before I walked out.  The friends I was texting on my phone were not pleased with me and were telling me to stay put.  They weren’t THERE!  It was annoying, exasperating, and rude to not be told WHAT was going on!  Four minutes left of the time and in walked a woman to put the monitor on, I told her in no uncertain terms she had only that four minutes to spare…she apologized.  I too apologized and said it wouldn’t have been so bad if they told me WHY I had been kept waiting?  After all, I’m NOT their ONLY patient…but really, seeing them hang out at the nurses station and waiting and waiting and waiting is not conducive to calming down.

She put on this really stinky stuff to clean my skin and attach glue to my skin.  On these four spots she put the adhesive too!  Nothing like keeping these thingies to my skin!  From these thingies (electrodes are they?) she also taped them down.  Did I mention I’m sensitive to that tape?  Yep, you guessed it, horrible tape rash that not only got bright red over the course of those 48 hours, but raw!  She explained how the monitor worked, that it would stay on ONLY for those 48 hours and would automatically turn off of it’s own accord.  I had plenty of warnings to go with it.  One, if I didn’t return it, I’d owe about $1500 for this little d0o-hickey device!  Two, do not bathe for the next couple of days (see bathing before I went was a GOOD idea!).  Three, don’t lay on my stomach as I could accidentally shut off this device (I didn’t mention my chest wouldn’t let me).  Also, your heart rate increases when you lie on your stomach…I’d noticed that when pillows allowed me to prop myself in that position.

As she told me everything I needed to know, I could tell that my blood pressure was an issue.  I could actually FEEL it rushing.  My eyes or rather my sight did a little wavy thing…and then this blonde woman’s hair turned blue/purple and then pink.  I told her so to share the moment and she was amazed.  She asked how she looked in it as she had considered the whole blue/purple thing…I told her to go for it.  Slowly this sensation faded, thank goodness because I’m sure it wasn’t a good thing.

After dressing again and getting on my motorcycle I thought about how weird my life was.  I went to a restaurant as I hadn’t eaten and was famished.  I also did a little grocery shopping in case I was house-bound for any length of time.  I was, the next two days were snow, sleet, and then pouring rain!  Too cold to ride and definitely too cold to return the monitor after the 48 hours!  I tried to get a ride, I really did, but to no avail.  Finally, I got a break in the weather and returned the monitor so they could download the results.  As it was it was spitting huge flakes of snow the whole way and bone-chilling cold!

Well, for now I’m alive and kicking.  I can’t wait until my regular doctor is back at the office as she talks too me and not condescendingly.  She is probably the most THOROUGH doctor you ever want to meet.  I have never met a doctor who checks for things like she does.  I went to her office where the doctor on call there gave me a check up and didn’t do anything but check my heart and lungs with his stethoscope.  He kept his nose buried in his tablet!  He offered me various pills and condescendingly informed me that things I had surmised about my health weren’t possible.  (Don’t EVER go to Web MD and try to diagnose yourself.)  Some of it I’d already realized but his assumed arrogance made me want to smack him and I missed my regular doctor, she at least wasn’t ever going to talk down to her patients!

For now, that’s it…I’m alive and kicking and still full of it…my sense of humor hasn’t been affected or amputated…I live to write another day!

~K’Anne

 

 

 

Cooking with K’Anne

Okay, when I decided to start writing this particular blog I was standing over the stove actually cooking the meal I intend to eventually eat.  Those who know me know that I don’t cook, not if I can help it.  I need to find me a femme that likes to cook…because I make a real GREAT…reservation!

I have a fondness for Macaroni Beef and wanted to learn how to make it myself, from scratch.  (Don’t ask me why, maybe I was ill.)  I have in the past purchased Stouffers 13800447845which tastes awesome…I particularly like that it comes in a package that pops into the microwave and all I have to do is heat it up and toast some toast if I want garlic toast with it…putting the mixture over the toast is a delicious combination.  However, for some reason I decided I wanted to make it all by myself…from scratch (still shaking my head at THIS idea).

So, off to the grocery store I went.  $70 later I brought home BAGS of stuff I needed from the recipe list as well as other things in case this didn’t go well (see I already had my doubts).  I took along the recipe to make sure I got everything in it, some of which (surprisingly) was already in my cupboards.  Fortunately some things don’t go bad for a long time.

Beef & Macaroni Recipe

I have NO idea WHAT website I got this from but it was on my computer for a while (years) so I know the madness of this idea has been germinating for a long time…

While I was shopping to fulfill this list I kept up the niggling thought that it would be cheaper, much less easier to go get a Stouffers box and use that, but I’m no quitter.

I live alone so two pounds of beef is a LOT and I almost NEVER buy meat so this was going to be interesting, that stuff was horrifically expensive!  I decided that there would be lots of leftovers and I could put that in the fridge to eat whenever (more like for every.single.meal, since I won’t want it to go to waste, nor will I have the energy to cook anything else).

The Large Yellow Onion, I couldn’t help but wonder why not the white onions that were on sale or the smaller yellow onions that were already in the kitchen hanging there, waiting for my cooking endeavors and frequently sprouting…ending up in the trash from lack of use?  But I dutifully purchased the ONE LARGE YELLOW ONION that the recipe called for, after all I want this to turn out right?

Next on the list FOUR LARGE CLOVES of GARLIC!  Well, I didn’t realize it but Mom never bought cloves of garlic that I ever recall.  I wondered why.  I found out later when I was trying to work with them.

For some reason I had to go down several aisles to even FIND the canned and diced tomatoes and sauce.  I was starting to get cart rage trying to get around people in the grocery store.

Soy sauce, surprise, I had that in the cupboard.

Dried Oregano and Dried Basil I wasn’t so sure of but then, to be safe, I bought new spices…after all that stuff doesn’t stay ‘fresh’ forever.

Dried Bay Leaves, yep that I knew was in the cupboard because I like to make stew and what is a good stew without bay leaves that you have to remember to fish out or ends up in your bowl and you can’t eat?

Seasoned salt?  Now is that different than the common salt I had in the cupboard?  I have no idea and I’m not going to worry about it.  The pepper too I knew was there.

I also knew I had elbow macaroni in the cupboard, not knowing how much though I decided to get more, ‘just in case’ and let’s face it, uncooked pasta can last forever.  Good thing too as I found when I got home I only had ONE cup and not the TWO it called for…now I have a box of it that will last FOREVER!

Carrying all this home on my ‘leetle’ motorcycle is always hilarious and people stare…oh well, I get sixty miles to the gallon and while it is cold, it’s efficient.

I decided since the recipe asks to serve it the next day, I should get right on it…yeah, great idea that.

It occurs to me that maybe, perhaps, my mother should have taught me how to cook.  Remember back to the times when I had that opportunity, maybe not.  She too didn’t like to cook so I can’t really blame her for not wanting to teach me.  I was more interested in business courses and anything but cooking.  She grew up during the depression, her mother cooked, baked, canned, and my mom learned it all, but didn’t DO it since she had an older sister who could do it BETTER and frequently DID.  As the LITTLE sister she was often pushed away to go ‘play.’  So, she didn’t have to do it all and she found out years later how much her sister resented that…

41IJrXYa-XL._SY300_Well this recipe calls for a Dutch Oven…um, I have NO IDEA what a Dutch Oven is, I’m lucky that my house has an oven and bonus, I have a microwave one too!  I kinda figured it was a big pot so I was glad later when I didn’t use a skillet to brown the meat (after all we don’t want to do too many dishes right? (EVER PRACTICAL I AM)).

I browned the meat in this pot (not the one pictured here, I googled what a Dutch Oven was to show you all) that I inherited from my mother, who, I think, inherited it from her mother…so it has nostalgia.  It rarely gets used and I’m thinking of (gasp) replacing it with a stainless steel monstrosity so when I make stew or soup I have more overall space to make these culinary wonders (yeah right, great dreams) but those suckers are expensive and so unnecessary in my household.

While the meat is browning I start cutting up the garlic.  Um, what exactly is a clove?  fresh-garlic-1682642Is it the whole piece thing or those little thingings inside? Garlic cloves … do you know your varieties?

I wasn’t sure but I didn’t want to NOT follow the recipe (Great double negative, sigh).  I’d bought four of these things, surely cutting them out would prove to be easy right?  WRONG!  Those suckers move all over and they are sticky?  Why they are sticky I have no idea!  I also had trouble getting the outside peel out of way and had to play with it over and over again to get those in the garbage rather than on the cutting board!  They wanted it minced?  5069ee0adbd0cb3061000daa._w.1500_s.fit_Yeah right, maybe if I’d put them in a blender…wasn’t going to happen since I was cutting by hand.  Btw, having a sharp knife is a definite must when one cooks, just an FYI.  Also, those cooking shows on TV if you ever happen to catch them with the perfect little piles of whatever has to be added to the recipe are a LIE!  They have assistant chefs who cut up all that so that the main chef, the one ON the TV look GOOD!  Trying to get the food to look THAT good, that’s all done behind the scenes!  Plus that stuff went EVERYwhere.  One of the places it shot under was the electric burner (I do not like cooking with gas, good thing, I’d blow the place up!).  While that burned under my concoction I continued to cut and chop.  The aroma of burnt garlic was in the air, I’m sure Kitkat loved it…she did get pretty excited when I used the electric can opener on the tomato cans, I didn’t even know she LIKED tomatoes?

By the time I got to the fourth ‘clove’ or whatever they are called, most of those clovlings were tossed, I was sick of washing my hands constantly to get the sticky off and they just weren’t working out.  Note to future self, buy the dried minced garlic, probably why my mother never bought these things in the FIRST place!

The onion cut up no problem, now THAT I do on a fairly frequent basis.  By the time I cut it all (remember it was a LARGE Yellow Onion) into small even pieces though the tears were coming down in earnest and I was sniffing like crazy.  Yeah, I know there are WAYS to get around that, but I never learned any.  So, once I could, I got that mess into the pot and cooking.

Now the recipe asked you to fully brown the meat, but it didn’t ask me to drain it, which is a normal way to get rid of all the fat.  It also called for the onions to be translucent before you added the rest…what the heck is a translucent onion?  It was at this point I took another slug of the Smirnoff’s t7329933uz_1I’d started drinking during the garlic clove cutting time…one should NOT drink when they are cooking, just saying.  Eventually though, I’m certain the onions and garlic sucked up the fat, because it disappeared.

Adding in the rest, I didn’t bother with REAL measuring cups or teaspoons (the one from the silverware drawer should be sufficient right?) and I suspect I threw out my measuring spoons at some point because they didn’t work for me (another long story).  I used the tomato paste cans for the water, after all, my mom DID teach me not waste things (let’s not mention that I threw out most of that last garlic clove and wasted it, that was another issue and I was drinking at that point) and I didn’t want use a spatula to clean them out (too many dishes/utensils and I would lose interest), the water worked fine for cleaning them out and then I could recycle the cans.

Why is when you cook (at least for me) when it says medium heat, I want to turn it up all the way?  I learned my lesson a long time ago, ruining a pot and about six QUARTS of chicken soup by burning it in a big pot!   But the aroma of the burning clove under the burner kept me from disobeying the directions.  But really, I do remember science class from high school where they emphasized that higher heat does NOT make it cook FASTER!  Experience though is a better teacher!

Well, the whole thing is done, I tasted it, it was okay…I’m sure it will taste even better tomorrow as the recipe calls for…letting it sit…many things need to sit overnight to do what they need to do and they DO taste better as ‘leftovers.’  However, if I need to have my stomach pumped from my cooking, you will know it didn’t quite work out.  Meanwhile, food for thought!

macaroni-and-beefThis is what it SUPPOSED to look like, mine, not so much!

~K’Anne

Of TUMORS and HEALTHCHECKS

I’m not fond of doctors.  I don’t hold them in ethereal awe as all-knowing.  Instead, I think of them as a necessary annoyance.  You might ask why and I’ll tell you it is probably because I’ve had more poking and prodding than the average person should.

You see 14.5 years ago I was given a death sentence and while it was ‘only’ four to five months that I was to live, I chose instead to become a human guinea pig. (BLOG) As a result, I obviously survived.

Here’s the thing though when you survive.  They want to know WHY.   As a result they want you to come in at least once a month for that first year, twice a year after that, until finally it’s a health check once year.  I’m not the most patient of people and I didn’t go in for years.  As I get older though and other health concerns come up, I go in a little more frequently.

This last summer I had pneumonia.  In fact, those of you who met me in New Orleans for the Golden Crown Literary Society conference may not have known it but I was sick…very sick.  I hid it quite well, had a good time, but there is much about that conference I simply do not remember due to the way I was feeling.  When I got back from the trip I went directly to the hospital, I had the car rental guy drop me off there!  Walking pneumonia turned to viral pneumonia and that hung on for eight weeks!   The doctor called for a follow up visit a couple of weeks ago because pneumonia is one of those things that can come back easily.  So I went in on a Thursday in October for a chest x-ray.  They called me on Friday because there was an area of concern that they had seen over the summer that seemed to be worse and they wanted an MRI.  That MRI was Monday.  As I left, the technician said we will let you know in 5-7 days.  Well, anyone who knows me knows that I’m NOT going to wait that long for any test results.  I went across the medical center to my doctor’s office and asked if there was anything they could do ‘hurry this along,’ as it were.  I said the things going through my brain (yes I am imaginative) would be more damaging than anything physical they could do.  The doctor called two days later.

When you have a mass the size I did over my heart/lung (mine was four inches across) and they shrink it, the body has to fill that empty space.  As a result, calcium can fill it in.  Well this calcium was cause for concern.  Apparently she believed I ‘may’ have a two inch tumor in my heart (or so she said at first) in my aortic arch (whatever that is).  Looking such things up in Web MD, I do NOT recommend.  You will only find yourself ‘sicker’ than you believe with all that helpful information.  My doctor, who is one of the most thorough women you ever want to meet, was meeting with the x-ray people and others because they thought this two inch (whatever) was growing.  Only they thought it was in my lung, over the heart.  Well, I can be blunt and I called bullshit.  You know, knowledgeable and educated people of that caliber tend to be taken aback when you challenge them.  I’m challenging enough but I’m also educated and knowing about what has happened to me.  They wanted to wait three months to ‘see’ if it grew more, as we had from this last summer.  I happened to know that lung cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers there is and I wasn’t going to sit back and wait.  I told her so too.  I also challenged why all the other MRI’s and chest x-rays weren’t available for comparison.

Here’s the thing.  Where I live here in the Northwood’s, they have two health systems.  Apparently they don’t share information…unless you ask.  My doctor, while extremely competent, didn’t have all the information she needed to do the comparison.  I was convinced that the two inch ‘mass’ she was telling me about was a shadow, reduced from the four inch mass that had been there fourteen years ago.  I found it too much of a coincidence that in nearly the same place as I had a tumor before there was one now, it had to be scar tissue.  I told her so too.  So, she sent for the information.  If not from across town we were going to send to Stanford for the results of my experimental procedure and all the data that we could get to compare…before and after.  This all takes time.  As I mentioned before I am not the most patient of people.

I told a few friends, but I also stated, I’m not fighting if this is what they think it is…you see, I fought so hard when I was younger and it took everything out of me.  That procedure was so horrible, I was so sick, that I don’t even want to remember it.  Much of it I have blocked out and forgotten.  I don’t want a repeat of it, in any form.  So, I’ve already made my decision.  I won’t fight it if the fates give me cancer again because I don’t have it in me to fight it again.

Fortunately I didn’t have to make that dire decision.  I was right.  I don’t like saying ‘I told you so,’ I really don’t, but in this case…  The doctor called today to tell me the ‘mass’ is indeed the shadow, the scar tissue from old.  I’m terrible about scarring on the outside, I can imagine what I’m like on the inside where all this went on.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks I’ll tell you, but I got a lot of tears and lot of thoughts out of the way.  It’s amazing how much you introspect when something like this happens to you.  So I’m here for a while yet, to tell more of my stories, to annoy my friends (lol), and to keep going…until next time!

I once wrote about my cancer by giving one of my characters my cancer and some of what I went through. I didn’t have to embellish it, it was dramatic enough.  If you want to read that story, please check out my book GERMANIC here on my website at www.kannemeinel.com.  I recently upgraded my website, take a look around, it’s fantastic what technology can do!

See you around cyber!