Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Random Thoughts, A Food Truck and Meet Monty

A word of warning for all you guys who read this blog: This post begins with many lady-words. Grab a beer, put your hand down your pants and skim down to the photos if you wish. However, the photos DO NOT have anything to do with lady-words.
So just settle down.

I have been wanting to update the Coast for quite some time. I have numerous ideas and photos but as it turns out, the link between my brain and the actual words has been disconnected.
My brain has turned to mush.
You see, I stopped my hormone replacement therapy (HRT) about 10 weeks ago. I was having headaches and discovered the one constant was the medication I was taking at bedtime. Stopped the med and the headaches stopped. Instantly!
DISCLAIMER: HRT is a personal choice and starting as well as stopping should be down after discussion with your MD. Which I have done extensively for my own personal issues.
Anyway, once I had no more headaches I felt great.
For about six weeks.
And then the hot flashes restarted. But this time they are accompanied by insomnia and freeze flashes.
It seems my hypothalamus has decided to play thermo-roulette.
Add to that the ten thousand degree humidity here on the Coast of Illinois and I can go from zero to five thousand degrees in 2.2 seconds then just as quickly spiral downward to negative thirty-two. This sudden freeze is new to me. I have always been a pretty thermo-neutral person.
It does me no good to put on a sweater – the freeze doesn't last that long. And as to rolling up my shirt to air out...well, that is STILL socially unacceptable in most situations.
Consequently, I have been on the AttentionDeficit Express.
My sweet husband, in an attempt to settle me down, surprised me with an overnight stay in Grafton, Illinois-(more on that in an upcoming post)- and while it was wonderful and relaxing and delicious, all I could think of as I sat on the hotel deck on Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and watching the barge boats, was this: Just how many people have used this hotel coffee maker to wash their underwear?
You know what? I don't care! Underwear coffee is delish. Especially when sitting outside watching the actual working Coast of Illinois.

A thought put in my head by a discussion with my so-called friends regarding just how clean hotel rooms really are.
Why? Why do you people do this to me?

Back to reality, and work, I found that taking melatonin does help me feel sleepy. However feeling sleepy and actually sleeping are two different things. On night six of barely sleeping I was so tired I honestly couldn't open my eyes yet I couldn't fall asleep. (I highly suggest this torture as a way to truly weed out our presidential candidates.)
I spoke with the nurse at my doctor's office, and after she finished laughing at my discovery that stopping HRT causes a return of hot flashes and insomnia, she offered to send me out a sleep aid.
I am terrified of these pills.
I feel I would be entirely too susceptible to sleep eating, sleep driving and sleep gambling – which I can only assume I would be just as bad at as awake gambling.
Being the health-care professional that I am, I did what most people do. I ignored the doctor's advice and after working three 10-hour shifts in a major trauma center when the 1000 beds available were all full yet people continue to shoot, run-over and fail to take actual care of themselves, I returned home, changed the sheets, bathed in a lavender 'sleep' bath, sprayed the new sheets with lavender 'sleep' spray. I ignored the news, Facebook and all other social media, opened the window – as our AC was out due to a Wizard of Oz worthy storm – and passed out.
It is amazing what an actual good night sleep will do.

I am still not quite back to normal.
There are some who would argue that I have never been there.

But I am beginning to feel a little more like myself.
I have continued to limit my exposure to the hyper-insane news.
I am hiding everyone who posts ridiculous, poorly researched news items on Facebook.
I have started exercising again.
And I am making myself sit down and write.
I apologize if this post is not quite up to my usual silliness.
Let me make it up to you with this pictorial.
I call it:
My 70-Something Parents Meet Their First Food Truck!
This is the General Sherman Hot Dog Truck. It stopped at our local grocery store.

This is Dad. He is ordering two hot dogs. And a water. And a root beer. He is fuzzy because it is ONE MILLION DEGREES OUTSIDE.

This is Mom. This outing was part of her birthday celebration. She and I decided to split a dog.  Nothing but the best for Mom!
It seems the mustard was a little more difficult than anticipated. You can do it Mom!
While the folks wanted to take their hot dogs home to dine in the comfort of air conditioning, I made them eat outside, standing up like proper food truck hipsters. The dogs were delish.

And then we went in to grocery shop and LOOK! An ice cream sundae bar set up just for us! Don't you love when the world works in your favor!
Stay cool everyone! This is the time of year when we must remember – Come January temps in the zeros we will be praying for July again!!
Say hello to Monty! He has finally made his way to his station outside our front door. 
 Welcome to the Coast of Illinois!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!

'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that are among these Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness'

Today we celebrate the freedom to congregate as we choose, worship who we wish, say what we think. 

What's the common denominator here?
'We'. The people.
It isn't just about you or me. 
It is about all of us, together. Even though we are different and may not agree. 'We' can make a difference, when 'We' put our differences aside and consider what the bigger benefit could be. 

It could be Revolutionary.

Happy Fourth of July!

Coast of Illinois, photographed several years ago, by my friend Donna

Thursday, June 30, 2016

That's Right. Fifty-Five

To the tune of that Sammy Hagar classic...
I Can't Be Fifty-Five

One foot in the shoe, the heel is high

Clerk shoots me a look, 'you're too old, don't try.'

She brings out a flat. Ain't no sexy shoe!

These Millennials gettin' all in my face again....

Take your AARP card!

Your damn Spanx too!

I'm goin' sleeveless

with no face primer too!

In my heart I'm not dead, I'm ALIVE!

I can't be FIFTY-FIVE!!

Can't go to clubs, music starts too late.

I'm jammied, sippin' cab by quarter to eight.

My twenty-five year old soul still wants to dance

Hip joints say 'NO! You had your chance!'

I cry, VOGUE!!

Take your AARP card!

Your damn Spanx too!

I'm goin' sleeveless

with no face primer too!

In my heart I'm not dead, I'm ALIVE!

I can't be FIFTY-FIVE!!

If you haven't figured it out, today is my birthday.

I am having absolutely no issues with my age.

My only regret is I have no videographer...

My apologies to Sammy Hagar.

Love you, man.

Here's the real thing, in case you haven't heard...

And please, AARP and Spanx – you are both lovely corporations.
You just happened to work here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I'm On Vacation. Don't Hate Me

Welcome to my summer vacation.
I fully intend to do some new writing over the next eleven days off...okay, more like eight days now. I have pictures from a local small boat messabout. I have thoughts swimming in my head regarding my upcoming birthday. I am notes for a short story.
I promise you, there will be new and original posts upcoming. 
But today, I must make a traditional family snack to take to a swim party, and when my daughter found out I was making this particular treat she asked in her tiny four year old girl voice, "can I get some of those....?" 
This particular snack is not one handed down from my German forefathers. But it is my contribution to my family's handful of iconic foods. Right up there with my Mom's fried chicken and French Cookies, German Grandma's Springerlies and French Grandma's pies. I found the recipe in Seventeen Magazine when I was around 14 years old. Which means I have been making them for forty years. 
Wow. I could have gone a long time without doing that math. 
But, I digress.
So, without further ado...

It's Scroodle Time!

What follows is the original post I wrote in 2012 on Scroodles. 

 Suck It Dr. Atkins!

So, not only am I devoted to getting people to see the weird and interesting in their everyday life. I am also dedicated to getting people to eat the weird and interesting as well. Food, that is, not people. Calm down, that's not what I meant either, this is not THAT sort of site...

Anyway... I have always been an adventurous eater and have happily raised a family of the same. We were enjoying hummus WAY before it was hip. Which leads me to the introduction of one of our favorite snacks: Scroodles.

These are boiled then fried corkscrew macaroni. That's right. Boiled. Then fried. And then liberally doused with garlic salt. The trifecta of dietary no-no's. Totally white flour CARBS – fried in CRISCO – the covered with SALT.


its like my arteries on a really hot day...

Oh, and Sorry about the Suck It, Dr. Atkins. That was really just an attention getting ploy. I am sure Dr. Atkins was a wonderfully delightful person, who before he became all Anti-Carb would have enjoyed Scroodles. God Rest His Soul.

Scroodles. Or, the crap they pull of out or your arteries.

PS - didn't Dr. Atkins actually die of a heart attack? Perhaps if he had re-examined the joy of deep fat fried noodles... 

As a note - I recently made these with Brown Rice Noodles, because that's what I happened to have in the house. Not only were they even better than the plain noodles, they have the added benefit of being GLUTEN FREE! 
Ha! Take that diet!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Middle Age Couple checks out a Fixer Upper

They say if it flies or floats, then rent don't own.
We have never been ones to follow proverbs...

We spent part of a long weekend checking out a slightly larger sailboat to add to our fleet. So while Rob looked into things like rail stability, fiberglass integrity and the KEEL, I examined the boat in the manner expected by society. 
Welcome to this episode of House Hunters Boat Edition!

Not a whole lot of outside space. But the retro-rudder is pretty cool.

A stainless steel sink! But no granite counter tops. And seriously, since all couples are expected to spend an inordinate amount of time chopping random vegetables, how can Rob cut peppers and me thread kabobs in such a tiny space.

A ton of natural light! The master is a workable size and there is a spare bedroom, in the foreground, for guests. I am just not sold on how much privacy that fold up table would provide. 
Does it come furnished? Because those life vests and extra sails are a bonus and well within our budget.

Um. Steam shower? Soaker tub? Door?? No.
But, semi-composting toilet.
Do I look like a damn hippie?

We have gone back and forth for MONTHS about this boat. It would be fun to have a 'second house' at the lake. This is a trailer-able boat, so we could feasibly move  it to the ocean one day. Of course it would also mean for the next year, nearly every weekend spent at the lake would involve some serious elbow grease and a moderate amount of cash.
It was fun to consider the possibilities. The boat  is old and absolutely a fixer-upper but not in terrible shape. However,  I don't really see Chip and Joanna coming up from Waco, or those weird property brothers...even though we could do most of the work ourselves.
 While we were investigating this boat, a very nice older man came down on the dock, no doubt to investigate us. While we discussed the merits of 22 foot versus 25 foot catalinas, he mentioned his own boat which was docked right next door and over the course of that conversation we wound up spending the entire afternoon on HIS boat, dipping the rail in the water while he gave us tips on racing.
In the end, we have put the purchase on hold. Opting instead to rent when we want to 'entertain' friends...
Because while it may be easier to make friends out of sailors than sailors out of friends, on a super windy May day there is no problem turning those same friends into ballast!

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Floral Profiling

 It is the unofficial beginning of summer and to that end, prep here on the Coast of Illinois has been in full swing. (Think ten cubic tons of mulch and a small loan from the local nursery.) Consequently, I have been so sore from digging I have been unable to lift my arms to type. Or I have been too preoccupied with reading Padma Lakshmi's new autobiography and watching The Night Manager. 
Memorial Day, while always about remembering our Veterans, has long been a semi-secret competition among the people here on the Coast of Illinois. A sweet, well meaning competition, and absolutely a sincere event, but a competition none the less.

So if you see me coming at you with a flat of any of the below mentioned flowers, I suggest you run.
But not into traffic.  

Marigolds, petunias and geraniums. That is the hierarchy, the rank, if you will of which flower goes on which grave. Marigolds are for the distant relatives, the ones that have been gone the longest. Petunias are for the next in line- cousins, step family and 'the baby graves'. Geraniums go to the top ranking relatives – parents, grandparents, the favorite Aunts and Uncles. They also go on the yet to be filled graves that belong to the double headstone relatives. The ones that plan to be buried next to their spouse (or favorite spouse in the case of one Aunt) but who may not be quite dead yet.

I learned this class system early in my childhood. Every May I would accompany my Mom on a tour of The Cemeteries. We would pack the trunk of the car with jugs of water, small garden shovels and flats of fresh flowering plants. East Cemetery was mostly Mom's relatives. The West Cemetery mostly Dad's. It was also the final resting place of those sad yet scary 'baby graves'. I always preferred the West Cemetery. It sat on the top of a large hill – nearly unheard of in the middle of Cornfield Illinois, and felt spacious and airy. The East Cemetery felt older, more enclosed with its large oak trees and winding gravel paths. Plus, from the top of the West Cemetery I could almost make out my grandparents farm and it was fun to see the place where I had many adventures from a different vantage point.

The Decoration Day ritual was an adventure when I was young. It became a chore when I grew older. When we had to drive ninety minutes to reach the cemeteries it was the definition of dread. Yet, as we began to divide up the flowers and dig the holes and soak them with water my attitude changed. Mom would tell the stories: this was the great great uncle from the Civil War, here was The Favorite Aunt's second husband, who ran out the back door when her first came in the front. Over that hill was the sweet great grandma, who's husband was murdered in a robbery. And here is the resting place of grandma's sister. She was never given the title of Aunt. A child who dies at the age of five because it took too long to acquire treatment for rabies earns a special place in history instead. One after another, the headstones would be anointed with history and flora. If Mom took too long to get to a favorite story we would ask. 'Now who did those babies belong too?' 'Which one of these guys died from a ruptured appendix?' Leftover flowers would go on some of the plain stones in 'Potter's Field' where the drunk was buried. Seriously, how can you not remember a guy named 'Commodore'.

The decorating needed to be done well in advance of the holiday so everyone could see that there were still living family around. But not too early – the flowers had to stay fresh. Heaven forbid we use those 'tacky' plastic flowers and don't get me started on the horrifying pictures which sprang into my overactive brain at the mention of 'grave blankets'. After walking gingerly around the stones, diligently placing the correct flower in its place we would stop and survey a large empty space on the eastern slope of the West Cemetery. There - enough empty grave sites for each of their immediate family. Here, it was noted, was where my Grandparents had saved us places.

It has been many years since I went on the grave decorating expedition. I do take the opportunity each year to share with our kids the stories these trips bring to mind. However, I have omitted the information regarding the available graves. Frankly, I prefer to take my chances with the seating arrangement for my eternal rest.

And also... I prefer daisies.

Memorial Day is also one of the most dangerous holidays on the road. PLEASE  WEAR YOUR SEATBELT AND DRIVE RESPONSIBLY - this includes but not limited to NO TEXTING! Don't let your holiday end like this:
Amazingly everyone walked away alive with only a few broken ribs and a dinged up hand and knee. All drivers and passengers involved were wearing their seatbelts. They did, however, screw up the delicious dinner I was cooking. 
This post ran on Coast of Illinois on Memorial Day 2013. I originally wrote it as part of an essay challenge on a long gone writer's group. Come back later this week when, I promise, there will be new, original and hopefully hilarious material.