Monday, October 13, 2008

The Curse of the Lasagna

Occurred October 11th, 2008. Sometime after dark....

I suppose the title of this should be, "The Curse of the 2 Pan Lasagna." You laugh, but I promise you this is no joke. Ok fine its pretty funny. Not for my Mom, but for the rest of us the irony is impossible to ignore.

First, we have to back up a little.

In 1992, when my brother was still a boyscout and we lived in Sussex, it was the yearly sledding - potluck dinner family outing thingy. So the night before or the morning of (can't remember which) my Mom started making her famous lasagna. At the time all I could do was turn up my nose because, well because I was 8 years old and I thought most things were gross. Annnyway, as you may or may not know, the key to a really good lasagna is time. The longer and slower you cook it the better it tastes (and less likely to fall apart) because it slowly lets all the flavors mesh.

We lived very close to the hill where the sledding was taking place so my Mom left the 2 pans of lasagna in the oven on warm and we went to go sledding. Well a few hours and lots of cold toes later my Mom decided to give in and hop on the snow tube. Bad idea. I watched as the tube went spinning out of control (as most snow tubes do) and then with my Mother still atop it SLAMMED into a light pole at the bottom of the hill. The rest was a blur I guess. I ran down there well I think I did and my was not unconscious. Being 8 years old Im pretty sure I thought she was dead. Ambulance came, took her away. Details after that are blurry. Dad came and took us to the hospital I guess and then we went to stay with him as she was going to be in the hospital for awhile with a severely broken arm shoulder stuff.

Later that night, at my Dad's house, we decided it would be foolish to let the lasagna go to waste so we all ate it for dinner. By far the BEST lasagna I ever had. Which said a lot considering I had previously no desire to stick my little fork anywhere near it.

So there was Chapter 1 of the Curse - before it became a curse of course because you can't call something a curse if it only happens once.

Fall of 2008:
My Mom's church is right across the street from where I live and she was there preparing to make 2 pans of lasagna. One for brunch Sunday at church and one for my brother, me and herself. 2 pans. Of Lasagna. Being Made. I decided to stop by say hello and nose around. Still in the lasagna making process I bid her farewell because it was Mamma Mia night and dinner at Riviera Maya with 3 very good lady friends.

Leaving dinner my phone rings. Its my brother. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Or maybe not.

"You're not going to believe who's on the way to the hospital now!" say my brother.
Of course freak out and think of my grandfather (well because ironically enough my father was already in the hospital).
"What? Who??"
"Mom. I think she broke her foot." he laughs.

I'm like why the hell are you laughing... and he's like, um remember what Mom was doing today. The Lasagna!

I ask him where she is and he says at church still. Making lasagna. Well it was done, just in the oven. Like last time.

She was really fine. Slightly fractured her foot. She took a step down the stairs, thought she was at the bottom and was not and took a long step two steps away from the bottom. Broken foot.

Eventually we did eat the lasagna and it was delicious once again. Not that I wish my mother any ill will, but the lasagna may be worth a small fracture. Regardless, I think she should stay away from the 2 pan lasagna for awhile.

I suppose this story isnt as funny or riveting as it seemed in my head, but to my brother, mother, father and I it was downright ridiculous.

That's all for now. Gotta run - I'm craving pasta all of the sudden.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Can You Translate "Post Office" in Russian please?

Occured 4/02/07
Re-Written 10/08/08

Sometimes you think that the world around you kind of sucks a little and that people are mean, self-centered and will do things for others only if it has some sort of personal gain. I still think that a little I suppose about well, a lot of people, some that I actually consider my friends but thats not really the point. The point is that something happened while I was out and about Saturday afternoon that made me think there is still hope for us all.

Saturday afternoon I walked out of my apartment door squinted a little and reached for my sunglasses. As I headed down the side walk to meet my mom for lunch I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was outside which maybe explained my good mood. Anyway, I arrived at my mom's and we continued on to grab lunch. As we were crossing the street this little old man kind of waddled up to us asking a question. In is hand he had a little bag with a manilla envelope in it. He was pointing to the envelope and saying something I could not understand. So my Mom say's, "english?" and he replies "no, no, only Russian." He keeps repeating one thing over and over which I could only imagine to be post office. My mom thought he was just looking for a box so she pointed down the street, but then she gestured to his envelope and said, "you dont have any postage, do you need stamps?" I think he sort of understood because he nodded. She pulled the envelope from his bag and it was addressed to the Ukraine which will set you back a wee bit more than $0.39. Meanwhile this other woman walked by and he asks,"Russian?" The woman looked at us curiously and we explained and she goes, "parlez-vous francais," which made me kinda chuckle. This woman says she might know someone who speaks the language and immediately reaches for her cell phone. All this time this old shakey man with a cane is just looking at us a little hopelesly. Here you have this woman on her phone trying to get a hold of someome who speaks Russian, my Mom (bless her heart) is talking to him as though he were deaf not Russian, and then there's me just sort of dumbfounded standing on the street corner with a Russian man. So I shrug my shoulders and smile sheepishly and try to think of a solution.

The woman was unlucky with her phone, and she bid us good luck and farewell. My mom being the kind soul that she is says, "Kaylie we are jsut going to have to walk him there, you dont mind do you?" Of course not> So we walked (very very slowly) for about 8 blocks or so until he saw the American flag in front of the post office, pointed and said that something again that was likely "post office" in Russian. He then turned to my Mother,said thank you several times, kissed her hand and then turned and did the same to me. My mom tried to ask him if he knew how to get home, and I hope the words that came out of his mouth meant yes. Then we watched as slowly waddled across the street my Mom waiting to see if the people turning left would run him over. She has this thing about cars charging the intersection when you are trying to cross the street. I insist that they will not run her over but she swears its almost happened before. Oh Mom.

Not that this was such an amazing profound story but it made me think about what it means to be a good person. If that had been me walking alone on the sidewalk when I encountered the man I may have given my apologies, smiled and continued to walk on down. Not my Mom, if she sees that there is someone who needs help and she can do something to help then she does. In fact I think perhaps she spends more time worrying about and helping others than she does for herself. Which frustrates me when I see how much she has had to struggle in her life and all the bad things that have happened to her. No one was there to help her out when she needed it most yet she would give those same people the shirt off her back if they asked for it. It inspires me to be a better person and not worry about the petty things in life. In some ways I wish could be more like her. Which is why I think on my profile when asked who my hero was - I said it was my Mom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Say Tomato, I Say... YUMM!!

I decided just now that I felt like writing a blog about tomatoes. Perhaps its because I just read an incredible recipe for stuffed tomatoes on the Orangette Blog (which I intend to make tonight) or maybe its because this photo popped up on my rotating screen saver. I guess we'll never really know...

The picture displayed above is from my recent trip to Europe. While in Europe I took a trip to Italy with my Aunt and her family & friends. We rented a Villa outside of Oriveto in this little town called Ospedaletto - which means the "little hospital." It was little all right but I don't recall any hospitals.. anyway. So we did all our own shopping and cooking and it was splendid. The crate of tomatoes was purchased mere hours after we arrived and this was how full it was after 3 days there (we stay for 7) and we ate tomatoes with everything. It was like the neverending tomato supply.

I joked that none of us would ever get cancer from all the lycopene (antioxidant found in most things tomatoish) we were ingesting. We had Caprese Salad, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Tomatoes and olives drizzled in olive oil, pasta with diced tomatoes.... blah blah blah. It took a few days once we returned to Freiburg before I could look at a tomato.

We never made it to the bottom of the crate so we left the remaining (still fresh mind you) tomatoes to the wonderfully friendly italian caretakers of the villa.

A tomato is a tomato is a tomato, but there is something about eating a tomato in Italy from Italy that makes them taste infinitely better. Don't even get me started on the quality of the olives or the espresso... its enough to make you want to live there forever!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Death Sentence

I returned from Europe the evening of September 5th (I'll fill in the blanks later) and September 6th my Dad was admitted to the ICU. I was told by my space cadet step-mother that he'd had a bad fall fixing a light bulb and his leg was just really banged up. Then I thought why the ICU - well maybe because of all the blood in his leg and he's anemic. So I was told not to worry, so I didn't. Monday afternoon I was fed up with the irking feeling that I was missing some major info so my brother and I skipped out of work and headed to the hospital.

Let me tell you if you've never experienced this - nothing can prepare you for walking in to the ICU to find your 54 year old father (now 55 on sept 24th) laying in a hospital bed all hooked up to things and looking like he has not just one foot in the grave, but the other one too save a for maybe his big toe. This is the part where emotional me is supposed to melt and cry and go sit and hold my poor Daddy's hand, but my brother took that road and I immediately demanded to speak with his doctor, nurse, whatever - I wanted some fucking answers. You don't look like THAT from a banged up leg.

I thought the shock of seeing my Dad lying there hit me hard but it was a whisper of a breeze compared to the blow that hit me next. "Your father has cirrhosis, and if he doesn't stop drinking he will die. He has bleeding, blah blah blah...." I think that was where my ears started ringing and I stopped listening. Ok, now this may sound like denial but its not... my Dad may have drank too much, but he was no drunk. What I call a functioning alcoholic. Alcoholic is a dirty dirty word, but alas at this point it didnt really matter what got him in this position because he was here now and the damage has been done.

Ok, so what now? Well cirrhosis can cause bleeding varices which are these delicate veins in your throat and stomach and they can rupture and bleed. Cirrhosis inhibits your ability to clot properly so you can see how this can be problematic. Well so they said they'd go in make sure all was well and dandy, get his blood count back up and send him home. The rest was up to him.

A few days later he went home and a few days after that my brother and I went to the house and made sure all was well. He had stopped drinking from what he said and what we could tell. Naive? maybe, but you can only hope that he was telling the truth. And he was.

So, life started to go back to normal. I was calling daily to make sure he was ok and to let him know that I loved him. Then it was the day before his 55th bday and I thought we'd go out there and hang out with him. He called the night prior and said he wasn't feeling well and not to come. Another time would be better. Fair enough - he'd been through a lot. I was worried, but not scared. Then, Thursday his wife called and said he wouldn't get up, conscious but disoriented and lethargic. I convinced her to call for help and she did and he refused to go.. to make a long story short my brother went over there and dragged him kicking and screaming to the ER. Good thing too, because too much longer and he could have gone in to a coma.

My father now had hepatic encelopathy- which is caused by an extreme amount of ammonia in your system that your liver has failed to metabolize. This makes a person basically temporarily demented until they either get it flushed out or go into a coma and die. I preferred the former. So back into the ICU Dad went this time he didn't have a clue for days - all he knew was that he wanted to go home. Not for another week would he return.

Then came the really really bad news. I spoke with his Dr and she said that they expected him back but not this soon and that the damage was worse than they thought. Also note that he had not been drinking - which also could have caused this but was not the case. I dont know if that makes this better or more tragic. The liver is huge and a very very crucial part of the overall function of the rest of our bodies. When its been compromised a lot and I mean A LOT can go south FAST!

His Dr told me that he would come out of this and get better and go home, but it would only be a matter of time before he would come back and then he'd recover again but maybe not as much and the cycle will continue like this until the damage is too great and he passes away. My father has end-stage liver disease and it is very likely that he will not live til my 25th birthday which is May 18th.

I thought writing about this would be therapeutic but it wasn't. Just made it feel more real. Good thing only one person I know has the knowledge that this blog exists....

I would give him part of mine if they'd let me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Xanax Wine Overnight Flights Planes Trains and A Mercedes

Occured August 18/19, 2008

Every time I plan a trip somewhere I always say that I love to travel, fly and none of the airport business bothers me. I must have a selective memory because as soon as I sat down in my cramped little seat and realized that there was no way I'd be able to see the in-flight movie I was already stressed. I always think about how great and exciting flying is and it is, but after take-off you the reality suddenly sinks in that you will be sitting in that same seat for the next 8.5 hours. Ugh. Naturally when the flight attendant asked me what I'd like to drink she had barely finished her sentence before I blurted out "Wine! Please!" My eagerness for something more than a teeny glass of Coke was matched by my seat mate as he quickly ordered a beer.

Ahhh.... wine and anti-anxiety pills make for a rather relaxing state of mind. My Dr told me specifically not to mix the two & to be fair, I did not. I took the Xanax 90min prior. Besides these pills were new to me so I had a trial run earlier that week to make sure I wouldnt take one and then be found drooling at the gate having missed my flight. No worries, these things did nada. So I thought why not have a glass of wine (or 3)?? No harm no foul. Although some time after dinner was served and some where over the Atlantic Ocean I managed to fall asleep.

I've never taken so many modes of transportation to get to and from someplace. On my way to Germany I drove to Chicago, got on a plane, landed in Frankfurt, took a tram from the tarmac to terminal, then 2 trains from Frankfurt to Freiburg where my Uncle picked me up in his Mercedes convertible that barely fit my luggage.

Finally - I was here! After I get some well needed time adjusting sleep I will head out to explore the beautiful city of Freiburg.