Sunday, December 29 2019

oh the humanity

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! This morning, to my regret, I think I have officially caught a cold. I have been on an impressive streak - I think the last time I was sick was sometime last spring, and as we were going to bed last night Marissa consoled me, "You're not sick, your throat is probably just dry from Minnesota, and you're tired from driving." That was plausible, but this morning I look like an ad for cold medicine. But even though my nose is runny and my throat is a little scratchy, I'm actually feeling pretty high energy today. Rodney and I are currently hanging out in the dining room. He's at the dining room table picking at some cheerios and apple fruit bars, weighing aloud to himself the pros and cons and watching Daniel Tiger over Blue's Clues, and I'm at the computer writing. This morning, we're listening to Switchfoot, which, as Marissa and I both agreed, we need more of in the background at all times. There shall be more Switchfoot this week, and there shall be more Switchfoot in 2020.

We hit the road sometime around 9:30, and after taking a generous stop in the Dells for some Taco Bell, we finally arrived home in the afternoon. I wish I could say we felt immediately refreshed and excited to see our house after being on the road, but the afternoon sort of spiraled out of control. After pulling into the driveway, I suddenly realized that I had a really bad back spasm coming on and retreated up into the bedroom to writhe in pain. Marissa finished unpacking and left me home to go pick up our new modem to replace, as the astute reader might remember, the one I fried before leaving for Minnesota.

I remained at home in our bedroom trying to lie as still as possible, despite the spidering, shooting, dulling pain wrapping around my shoulders, back, and arms. The back spasms, as I learned last summer, are a symptom of cubital tunnel syndrome. The nerves in my arm get constricted and angry, and it results in a nasty hissy fit of nerve pain. Much like getting sick, I haven't had one of these in a while either. I thought I had cracked the code once I started sleeping with a neck pillow and braces around my elbows.

Eventually, with the help of a hot shower, the spasms subsided and Marissa returned home with the new modem. She stood in our bedroom complaining about her experience picking up the dogs as I wrestled and grunted the replacement modem into position on my shelf. "I think these people might be idiots," Marissa explained. "After I paid, they just flung the door open and let the dogs run out. They weren't even wearing leashes. Rodney was going crazy, and it took me like fifteen minutes to get their harnesses on." Marissa cracked a smile as she vented. "And the girl was just standing there watching me."

Marissa put Rodney down for a nap, then I took the car to Hy-Vee. I love shopping with Rodney, but I was grateful to have the car by myself. As Justin and Megan are staying with us through the weekend, this would be a bigger trip. I stocked up on chicken legs, potatoes, kale, and ground beef. I packed the car and headed home. Both Marissa and Rodney were asleep, so I turned on some music and readied the kitchen. Even tired from the road, it felt great to work in my kitchen again. About an hour later, I had hot leek and potato soup ready. I kept things simple - leeks, garlic, potatoes, cream, and butter. And taking a tip from Chef John, I blanched the leeks, which made the soup taste and look much cleaner. Apparently, dirt and rocks can get trapped between the leaves. And if you think about it, it makes sense. The leaves come apart at the top, and almost look like a funnel. I also reeled in joy busting out my immersion blender for the first time.

The three of us slumped around the table, quietly wolfing down soup. Sanity returned to my stomach. We stayed around the table for another hour chatting about the trip and the upcoming weekend. Marissa wasn't feeling great either. The taco bell we had in the Dells made her sick, and after talking about it, I was starting to suspect it may have triggered my back spasm. Between the spasms and bad taco bell, I joked about how next morning's blog entry would just be three words - "oh the humanity." Maybe even in the style of a grieving Teddy Roosevelt, "the light has gone out of my life."

Marissa put Rodney to bed, and after practicing Dutch on the couch, I returned to the kitchen. I prepared a big bowl of raw kale, apple, grapefruit salad. You know how normally you're supposed to keep the wet and dry ingredients in a salad separate until you serve? The nice thing about kale is that it gets more and more delicious as it sits in the dressing, and that discovery has led me to a good salad hack. I found you can make more kale salad at one time if you make it in layers - first some kale, then grapefruit & dressing to help way it down, and finally followed by apple slices and sunflower seeds. After shaking it, you can start again with an extra inch of headroom.

I'm really starting to fall in love with kale. Last night as I was chopping, cutting, and tossing the kale leaves, I was suddenly really taken with how delicious it looks in pretty much any situation. Whether it's ripped, whole, fried, dry, wet or boiled, kale doesn't have a bad look. It always looks delicious, doesn't it?

So that was Saturday. Driving and bad Taco Bell made the day take a downward spiral, but with the help of homemade soup and kale, we rallied, and luckily I had more to write about this morning than just "oh the humanity."

And speaking of Sunday, today Rodney and I are hanging out at home while Marissa takes Ziggy to an agility trial. Rodney and I are going to watch the Bears game while I make saucijzenbroodjes and continue to ready the house for company. And hopefully I can continue to keep this damn cold at bay.

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Thanks for reading.