Have You Kissed Your Pharmacist Today?

You should.  And if you don’t, I will.  Or at least, I’ll kiss my pharmacist.  Bear with me, because we have more bitching about aging.

I’ve suffered from arthritis at the base of my thumbs for several years.  Mildly annoying, but nothing horrible.  Until the other night.

So, I’m laying in bed reading, with my chin propped in my right hand, when I apparently moved the wrong way and my hand became one flaming sheet of agony, centered at the base of my thumb.  And it didn’t get any better.  Even the most minute movement of my thumb was excruciatingly painful.  I took some aspirin and wrapped my hand in a heating pad, and the pain subsided to a dull roar, enough for me to get some kind of sleep.

The next morning wasn’t any better, and since I’m between doctors (I have an appointment with a new one in September that will hopefully be smart enough not to patronize me) and had a ton of work to do, I went to the office and spent the morning typing with my left hand and sobbing softly while I tried to sign checks.  Once that task was done, I started home because I was expecting guests and still had the beds upstairs to make (the bathroom wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be) and some other cleaning to do.  As I was driving home, I thought, “You know, this is ridiculous – there has got to be something I can do without spending the afternoon at stat care.”  So I stopped at the neighborhood Walgreens and made a beeline for the pharmacy, where I cried all over the pharmacist who looked all of 25 years old.

She told me her mother suffered from the exact same problem and that the doctor had given her a plastic splint that immobilized her thumb, which made her feel much better.  She said, “We don’t have any hand splints here that will do that, but let’s get you an Ace bandage and see if that will help.”  So she picked one out that didn’t need those little metal clips, instructed me on the best way to wrap it around my hand, plucked a bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol and a bottle of ibuprofen off the shelf and sent me on my merry way.

Once home, the first thing I did was tear open the package with the Ace bandage and carefully (and ineptly – I am right-handed) wrapped it around my hand the way the sweet little pharmacist instructed.

The relief was immediate and amazing.  A little research on the internet explained what most likely happened – due to the lack of cartilage, I’d dislocated my thumb.  Wrapping it in the Ace bandage must have popped it back in place, and several hours later I removed the bandage all together and the arthritis is just a mild annoyance once again.

I may not only kiss my pharmacist, but bake her some brownies to boot.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that my good friend Twenty Four at Heart is having a contest to celebrate her 100th post.  Leave a comment with a random fact about yourself and you could win a $50 American Express gift card.  Even if you don’t win, just reading her excellent and hilarious blog is reward enough.  Go.  Visit.  Now.

I’d also like to welcome Midlife Slices to my midlife blogroll.  She lives in Texas so I’m incredibly envious of her; she’s somewhere around my age and also has a 13-year-old son entering 8th grade so I’m incredibly sympathetic towards her.  She seems like good folks and I’m enjoying her blog immensely, so mosey on over and take a look-see yourself.

I Fall Down Go Boom And Other Adventures

I have not posted all weekend and I owe some people some emails (you know who you are), but I’ve been impeded in these activities because as I was leaving a small vegetable stand with an armful of some of the tastiest sweet corn I’ve ever eaten, I didn’t realize there was a step going down and fell flat on my face.  And right boob.  And my knees and shins are the loveliest shades of black and blue you ever saw.  And I have a sore boob.

I’m fine – all I suffered was some scrapes, bruises and the loss of what little dignity I can lay claim to.  It was funny though, in a rueful sort of way, because it took me a minute before the shock wore off enough to take stock of what was hurting, how badly it was hurting, and was the hurt going to keep me from moving?  After carefully picking myself up and limping to the car with my corn, I realized that 15 years ago – 10, even – I’d’ve jumped right back up, brushed myself off and likely skipped back to my car.  And it makes me wonder what it will be like if – okay, when (I’m a klutz and can’t do anything about it) – something like this happens 15 years from now.

This whole aging thing sucks.  Will Life Alert be a fact of life for me sometime in the not-so-distant future?  Well, maybe I can capitalize on it and be in commercials.

“Old, fat and uncoordinated? Just strap on one of these babies around your neck* and when you fall and can’t get up, someone will be there with an icepack and a crane in no time.”

In other news, The Young One will be home tomorrow.  Why would this be considered an adventure and prevent me from doing my email/bloggy duty?  Because he wasn’t supposed to be home until next Tuesday, and I was supposed to be in Chicago with Beloved this week.  If I hadn’t gotten an IM from The Young One telling me they were coming a week early, there wouldn’t have been anyone home.  Wasn’t that considerate?  Ah well.

The adventure part?  I get to clean the upstairs of my house, a place I never go unless I absolutely have to.  Kids live up there.  But, that’s where the guest room is (and where the dog sleeps most of the time), so I guess it would behoove me to don some protective outerwear (like a germproof suit) and arm myself with some 409 (and perhaps some Napalm) and actually enter their bathroom.

I don’t want to, trust me.  If you don’t hear from me in a few days, someone send a search party (with maybe some Scrubbing Bubbles?) out for me.  The danger of being held hostage by soap scum and dirty underwear is a very real possibility.

*Warning: do not sleep, swim, knit or do The Monkey while wearing

With a Little Help From Man’s Best Friend

I opened the refrigerator the other day and was greeted by a small, green, furry alien life form that I strongly suspect was once tuna noodle casserole, who flashed a Vulcan hand-salute at me and and said “Gort, Klaatu barada nikto!”

Obviously tuna noodle-ese for “Clean out this refrigerator before we storm the White House lawn.”

So while I believe our Commander-In-Chief completely deserves an organized attack by mutant Chicken Marsala, I figured I’d better save the rest of humanity from the toxic waste dump that is my refrigerator, and broke down and cleaned the damn thing.

(On a side note, when I told Oldest Son the topic of this post, he said, “Whoa – you can cover that in one post?  I’d need several.  ‘Day Three:  We lost six men today…'”)

For some reason, the only thing that seems to excite the dog more than me cleaning out the refrigerator is ravaging the bathroom trash cans when it’s been, well, you know – that time of the month.  I don’t understand him at all – this is the same animal that will turn his nose up at expensive brands of dog food.  In fact, he pretty much turns his nose up at any dog food.  When you pour it in his dish, he’ll sit there and stare at if for a moment or two.  If you ask him, “Well, are you going to eat it, or what?” he’ll just shoot you a “You must be kidding me” glance, before returning to his morose contemplation of the kibble you’ve had the audacity to serve him.  After a few more moments, in which he is probably silently willing you to pour warm bacon grease over the whole thing, he heaves a sigh and will begin nibbling it.  Reluctantly.

But clean out the refrigerator?  He is all OVER that.  Dribble a little Cream of Penicillin soup on the floor and he’ll slurp it up before you can say “petrie dish.”  This is the same animal who will spit out a fresh blueberry that’s been accidentally dropped on the floor, but will devour that same blueberry once it’s had a chance to grow itself a beard.  I’ve been tempted, on more than one occassion, to just open the door and tell him “Have at it.”  It would certainly save me a lot of time and effort.

Ah, well.  At least I can feel secure in the knowledge that if I ever am threatened by the contents of my fridge, Scooter will eat it before it ever lays a furry tentacle on me.

Coming Out of the Closet

The other day, I was hunting around for a pair of sandals I have that would go perfectly with one of the new outfits I bought over Mother’s Day weekend, when I realized – dare I say it? – I own a LOT of shoes.

I love shoes, and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that my hands and feet are the only parts of me, except maybe my earlobes, that could be described as “small” or “dainty.” My feet, unlike my ass, look good in just about anything so I tend to indulge myself in that area.

Need proof?

My shoe rack

No, these are not the only shoes I own. Notice how they are neatly put away in the rack that hangs on the back of our closet door? They’re there because I don’t wear them anymore. HERE are the shoes I wear:

Shoes I wear

Now to be fair, one of the reasons they’re all tossed in a heap in there is because more than half of the floor of MY side of the closet is occupied with luggage. And why is our luggage laying on the bottom of our closet and not put away somewhere neatly, like the storage area in the basement? Because Beloved is in charge of the luggage, which is a semi-permanent fixture in his life. So why isn’t the luggage on HIS side of the closet? Because then his side of the closet wouldn’t look like this:

Beloved's Shoes

Note that there is some semblance of order to his side. Why? NO LUGGAGE. You might also take note of the fact that he has a lot of freakin’ shoes himself, for a guy. And take my word, there is not one cheap pair of shoes over there, and there are certainly no shoes from PayLess in this lineup. With the exception of my many pairs of Crocs, I do not own one pair of name-brand shoes, which is more (or less) than I can say for Beloved.

OH – and speaking of Crocs, looky at what I bought Tuesday:

Crocs Golf Shoes!

Guess what they are? No, not ugly (shut up, Darling Daughter). They are GOLF SHOES. PINK CROCS GOLF SHOES. I do believe I’ve died and gone to golf shoe heaven. (Yes, I play golf. Poorly.)

Darling Daughter would like me to allow her to state her case about the ugliness of my wonderful, comfortable Crocs by posting this picture we found on I Can Has Cheezburger yesterday:

Cat in Crocs

That’s what I get for raising them to think for themselves.

Purging and the Sunday Brunch Recipe

We bought our house for two important reasons – the master bedroom is on an entirely different floor from the kid’s bedrooms, and the kitchen is huge. Actually, the fact that the kitchen is huge plays a slightly more significant role than our bedroom being separate from the kid’s rooms. But only slightly.

Me being the pack-rat that I am the huge kitchen presents something of a problem, because the larger it is and the more counter/cabinet space it has, the more crap that I’ll never, ever use in a million years can be crammed into it. And I am a kitchen gadget/arcane ingredient JUNKIE.

I have spices in my cabinet that have only been used once, and are most likely no longer potent, because I can’t bear to throw them away. I have some sort of ginger/citrus tea goop in my pantry that’s never been opened because the sweet little old lady who runs the Asian market I frequent gave me a sample of it, and I bought it because 1) she convinced me it was THE cure for the common cold and 2) I’m a sucker for sweet little old ladies. (There’s one little old lady at my neighborhood grocery store who’s job it is to hand out samples and coupons for the most useless crap they sell; she goes out of her way to hunt me down because she knows I’ll buy whatever she is pushing – all she has to do is mention her bursitis and I develop the spine of a dying jellyfish.)

However, my OCD tendencies won’t let me go more than six months before I just can’t stand the sight of the jumbled mess that is my pantry and freezers, and I wake up one morning with the burning, driving desire to JUST GET RID OF IT ALL. This presents something of a problem because that jumbled mess represents hundreds of dollars of still edible yumminess. And while I may be an arcane ingredient junkie, Beloved is a “waste not, want not” junkie, so I have to find something to do with it all.

Today was one of those days. And needless to say, our menu for the next couple of weeks is going to be interesting…I have NO idea what I’m going to do with that jar of habanero-spiced pickled beets that was such good buy 9 months ago; as far as I know, there is no existing recipe for Mexican Borscht.

But enough of that; I had a request for Monkey Bread for the Sunday Brunch recipe. Here it is, or at least the most recent incarnation of it – I’ve found that as my bread-making skills become more honed, the more I tweak my bread recipes. At any rate, it’s pretty darn good, as The Young One will be more than happy to attest to. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for you.

Monkey Bread

Dough

1 1/4 cups warm water – about 85 – 110 F

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 packet (1/4 ounce) OR 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Sugar Coating

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cups (at least) brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Icing

2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with vegetable spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the ingredients for the dough in the order they’re listed, starting with the water and ending with the yeast. If mixing by hand, stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well mixed. If using a stand mixer, mix together on low speed with the paddle attachment until well mixed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (such as the counter) and knead briefly; shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Unwrap the dough; sprinkle more flour on the counter, and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour a half-tablespoon at a time if the dough is sticking to the counter and your hands (it should, however, be tacky – just not sticky). After kneading, place it in a glass mixing bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Turn the dough to cover it in oil, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Prepare the sugar coating: melt the butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

When the dough is doubled in bulk, turn it out onto the counter, and deflate it slightly by flattening it with your hands. Tear off a piece approximately 1 inch in diameter and roll into a ball, keeping the bulk of the dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Dip the ball of dough into the butter, then roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place the sugar-covered ball of dough into the Bundt pan; repeat until all the dough has been coated and placed into the pan, stacked on top of each other. Don’t worry if the balls of dough aren’t exactly the same size – that’s part of the fun.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; invert onto a serving plate and cool for 10 more minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over the bread. Pull off pieces of the bread to eat. Nom nom nom nom nom.

Note: Most bread recipes call for bread flour exclusively. However, I’ve found that a mixture of bread flour and regular all-purpose flour makes for a lighter, fluffier bread in this instance.