There's a strange feeling of limbo, or timelessness, when spending time with someone after surgery. Ernie's still in a fair amount of pain, trying to take just enough pain medication to dull it without completely knocking himself out. It means he drifts in and out of a light sleep. I'm in the other room reading. I check on him periodically but mostly I sit here with the faint sound of the tv floating into the room. The fact that he's watching a Buster Keaton movie and so it's the soundtrack to a silent movie that I hear makes it all the harder to feel as though I'm in my regular life.
Today, perhaps I'll drag him out with me when I go to pick up our vegetables. I need to get Owen to work after school, Leo and his physics project home safely and over to Sue's to check on the cats. Somehow I have no other goals for this week. I've checked in on my work email and am now content to sit and read a mystery set in Eastport, Maine and sip iced tea.
Last night the boys were up late with Owen helping Leo with his Physics project. After we went to bed they headed out to the garage and dug out a drill that Leo said, "had to be from the 40's." I looked at everything spread over the kitchen peninsula this morning and just smiled. I didn't even nag them about not putting it away. They both spend plenty of time in their own rooms with the doors shut. It seems the doors open and they go back and forth only after we are in bed. I'm always happy if I get up to go to the bathroom and find the hall light on and both doors open. I don't bother them but just creep back to bed quietly.
That's enough random thoughts....back to Eastport I go....
reading about Eastport made me miss Maine...here's a shot of the blueberry barrens near Cherryfield, taken only last year...seems much longer ago....
I'm tired today. Tired with relief that Ernie's surgery is over, so it's not a negative tiredness. This was a pretty straightforward surgery....repairing a torn rotator cuff. He's been in pain for months so I'm so glad to have this step forward over. Sitting alone in a waiting room for hours is exhausting though. Not as exhausting as an uncertain surgery is, and I've sat through my fair share of those. So, while in the scheme of things this wasn't bad, those hours can still be wearing.
He had to wrench his wedding ring off....sniff, sniff.
One should ALWAYS hope for the early morning slot for surgery. He wasn't scheduled until 12:30. I did some work from home and he skipped around on the tv restlessly during the morning. We got to the Surgicenter a bit before 12:30 and I must say they have got this whole system down. You get a number and you can follow it on screens throughout the room that list where they are in six different stages, pre op, pre op with visitors, etc... You get a blinking buzzer thing as you would in a crowded restaurant and whenever it goes off you can trot back to see your patient. They escort you back to a private room to meet the surgeon afterwards, etc. Everything ran like clockwork and everyone was kind and friendly. The surgeon is one of the friendliest and most upbeat people I have ever met and yet somehow does it in such a way that isn't cloying. He's lovely. And, more importantly, he said everything went well, that he was able to repair most of it arthroscopically. He didn't have to cut into the muscle as much as he did last time (after the car accident) so hopefully this will heal more easily. He showed me pictures of the repair and I nodded along enthusiastically as though I could understand the images. Then of course there was more waiting until I could see him. At one point I realized I was the last one left in the waiting room.
I texted the boys when Ernie finally headed into surgery and their responses were textbook examples of their personalities...
getting him dressed and realizing that perhaps the converse on the kitchen counter is a genetic thing
Thanks for all the good wishes and thoughts on Facebook and via text, etc. It is at times like this that social media can be such a comforting embrace. Ernie did ok overnight. He's in pain today but so far so good. I'm taking a few days off to take care of him, and just to be here. The boys have been sweet and kind. My sweet peas. All three of them.
I got home from work last night in a foul mood. When I walked into the dining room I saw flowers on the sideboard. I smiled and started to thank Ernie and he said, "No, they're not from me; they're from Owen." I immediately said, "ohhhh" and got the expression I do when the boys do something sweet. They ridicule me for it of course. They say I look like the muppet Beaker and start saying, "meep, meep, meep" when I do it. I called Owen downstairs and gave him a long hug. He patted my back and then pulled away and looked in my eyes, saying, "and honest Mom, I didn't do anything bad. I just wanted to get these for you."
I watched the news and then a bit of a DVR'd The Chew before I dragged myself into the kitchen. The night before I had started making a tomato sauce with olives and capers for some cod. After a bit Ernie said he wanted potatoes with it so I had the brilliant idea to just throw the chopped potato into the tomato sauce. MISTAKE. The potatoes wouldn't soften and wouldn't soften. I googled around and found that there's a reason I never do this...the acid in the tomato sauce doesn't let the potato soften as it would in water or oil. We finally gave up and ate leftovers but last night I was determined and we cooked it and cooked it and cooked it. Finally it was relatively soft. I ended up making a cod stew out of it all. Tasted pretty good, I'd been craving olives, but lesson learned...cook the potatoes first!
Lord. Last night was a night. It started out nicely and devolved into hell. Arguments, yelling, crying. Later Leo came down and I apologized for us yelling. He said, "Oh, I didn't even hear it." I said, "Well, never mind then" and we both smiled. I sat there sniffing and he looked at me with those steady big brown eyes and said, "It happens sometimes" and he gave me a sweet smile. I tell you, I don't write about Leo as much here, as he prefers me not too, and he doesn't like pictures, so you see and hear much less of him in this blog. Don't ever doubt for a second that he is not as huge a part of our lives, and as completely and utterly loved, as his brother. I adore that boy. We are so lucky to have him.
We all recovered. Owen worked like a dog trying to cheer us up. He wouldn't stop chatting and talking until I finally said, "Owen, I adore you, now please go upstairs and don't come down again." He finally did, chattering all the way. I threw together some odd leftovers for Ernie and me and we watched a Top Chef and went to bed.
Tired this morning.
But there is this....
yesterday afternoon at Japan House
As always, onward. Off to the oncologist this afternoon. What a week.
I'm going through a phase of feeling very inward. I don't know if it's the time of year, or the political landscape. Most likely both. Normally on a winter weekend afternoon Ernie and I would be out for a drive, taking pictures here and there. I haven't even wanted to. Staying home, reading, cooking. That's about all I want to do. I suppose there will come a point where I'm sated with that and will turn outward again, but for now, that's where you find me.
This weekend I devoured the Bruce Springsteen autobiography and I loved it, loved it, loved it. The writing really spoke to me, as did his willingness to bare his faults and weaknesses. After that I went through a bunch of cookbooks from the library, before landing on a book about the WPA's efforts to write about cooking. I'm just partway through but so far have loved it. So there you have it...that's the main takeaway from my weekend. Well, that and the fact that Owen now has his driver's permit. "Do we need anything at the store Mom?" "Do you need to go anywhere?"
And since I have no other anecdotes, the current grocery list. Oh yeah, Owen protested my notes on the grocery list so they are now on the To Do list.
You guys exaggerate everything. I found this one particularly amusing. I was going to say, 'pot calling the kettle black' but it's more like 'pot calling the kettle orange' or something like that. Oh, Owen.
Dimly lit rooms and iceberg lettuce. Owen was talking about having his driver's permit and said, "Mom, now we can go on a tour of...oh, what are those called? You know, dimly lit rooms and iceberg lettuce?" "Oh, yeah," I said, "SUPPER CLUBS!"
Kokoro. Roy Orbison. Raul. I think this was a late night me trying to use the Japanese phrase, 'kokoro' to explain the pull of the voices of Roy Orbison and Raul Malo. Kokoro means heart, mind, spirit, there's no direct translation in English.
Aging is scary but fascinating. A line from the Springsteen book that struck me.
Records are often auditory Rorschach tests; we hear what we want to hear. Another line from the book that struck me. I think this is true of many things, all the arts included.
Do you need a cone? Owen asked me this when he was rebuking me for scratching my legs. I'm two week on/two weeks off of my nummular eczema medication and I'm in the off phase right now which is driving me crazy.
You guys will probably be dead by then. I actually forget what made Owen say this. Oh well.
And lastly, last night's odd throw together of dinner. Pulled pork. I put it in as small a pot as I could (per Serious Eats' carnitas recipe) and coated it with leftover Berbere seasoning and Aleppo pepper (meaning Ernie did that). Then we popped it into a pot with a bit of olive oil and cooked it at 300 degrees for about mmm....five hours or so.
It fell apart and was heavenly good. I crisped some up in a pan for Owen with flour tortillas. Ernie and I just had hours plain, with cut up avocado, some salsa and salad greens. The flavor was amazing. Here's my 'oops, almost forgot to take a picture' instagram shot.
1. Score one for Harvest Market. You can buy three pound chickens there. I know, that may not sound exciting to you, but I'm tired of chickens being so big...they just aren't as good for roasting. When I first tried to conquer the perfect roast chicken years ago, it was with chickens that were between three and four pounds. And they were GREAT. My favorite version initially was Marcella Hazan's Roast Chicken with Lemons (which is still fabulous) but now I've moved onto my own even simpler version which is "take a three-four pound chicken, lots of kosher salt and black pepper inside and out, throw it in pan and cook it at 500 for 45-50 minutes, no turning, no nothing." Now this works with bigger chickens...but you know what? It's just not as good. When you get a rotisserie chicken at the store, or a roast chicken at a restaurant....they are three pound chickens....the way they are SUPPOSED to be! Ah. I feel better now.
2. The other night we cooked our delightful little three pound chicken, pairing it with beautiful salad greens from Farmer Greg (with just avocados, olive oil, salt and a dash of white balsamic vinegar) and some french fries (just because we had some in the freezer and it seemed like the thing to do...if you call them frites it's less embarrassing), with a bit of a pan sauce, and it was outrageously good. Here's my bad phone pic to document:
3. Here's Owen, last night, wearing his Romantics t-shirt, sucking on a sucker that he discovered God knows where, and holding my favorite Van Halen album, Women and Children First, under his arm. I just thought it was worth documenting.
4. Last night for dinner was a stir fry, per Owen's request. Nothing particularly culturally authentic about it but it was damned good. I've found the best way to get vegetables into Owen is to throw them in a stir fry. Last night we had gold and red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, and lots of onions and garlic with day old rice, some sliced sirloin, a bit of soy sauce and a dash of hoisin as I found we were out of sesame oil.
5. Later, Ernie and I turned off the tv because we were just tv'd out. We curled up in the living room, with me desultorily reading the Springsteen book on my laptop, and Ernie digging through stacks of old 45s. He looks so good when he does that.
Some things never change. Indeed.
6. Just now. Ernie and Owen headed off to get Owen's driver's permit:
One of the unexpected benefits of having this blog for coming up on eleven years (geez) is that we have a record of things. Many arguments have been won or lost because we were able to verify our memories from these pages. So, given that Ernie is looking at shoulder surgery in March.... Oh, yeah, Ernie is looking at shoulder surgery in March. Remember the MRI the PA didn't want us to have...you know when he told me he didn't like pushy patients (meaning me)? Well, it turns out Ernie did indeed have a torn rotator cuff, and given that it's hurting him a hell of a lot, will need surgery. I was trying to remember how long he couldn't drive, was in pain when he had this last time, so I went back to my blog and man, I kinda wish I hadn't. He wasn't able to drive until close to four weeks and he was still on pain pills three weeks out. I was remembering in much rosier terms. Ugh. Damn. I know we're lucky though, as this is something that CAN be fixed so I will try to keep that in mind. It's not fucking cancer.
A few new grocery list notes, and they're all from Owen:
As I gushed about something he did, "You guys are impressed by the smallest things."
Then we've got his comment when he hugged me the other day. He sniffed my hair and said, "You smell like colored pencils." "Huh," was I came up with as a response. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? He couldn't say.
"Supremely lackluster inauguration" Not a bad description by my boy.
While eating our Superdawgs I said, "You can't put ketchup on a Chicago dog." And in a perfectly timed response he said, "And you can't put your arms around a memory."
Yup. I like that boy.
I was sad to miss Saturday's marches, both here and in Chicago. I've been struggling more than normal with my back so unfortunately it just wasn't an option. However, I had a wonderful weekend despite that and I loved seeing all the pictures of so many friends! It was inspiring.
Ernie and Owen and I spent the weekend at the Rogers Park Spa, otherwise known as Van and Karin's place. Lord but I love those two. The weekend was in honor of Owen's January 4 birthday. We left midday on Friday and got up there pretty quickly. We drove around a bit, showed Owen our old apartment on Chase Street and even stopped in at our beloved Lighthouse Tavern. Oh man....it seemed EXACTLY the same.
the lake was just beyond the building, but it was too foggy to see...
We headed down to Van and Karin's and got settled. Owen was anxious to take the L so out the guys headed. They ended up going downtown and walking around and ended bringing home Popeye's Chicken. Yes, the gustatory delights of Chicago all around us and we ate Popeye's. I didn't mind. Popeyes with a side of chardonnay can be delightful. We curled up and watched the news....and Trump's first dance at the inaugural ball. Mindboggling.
On Saturday Ernie and Owen headed down to the Art Institute and sucked up some of the energy of the march all around them. I stayed 'home' and read and enjoyed the peace and pleasure of being at the spa. The highlight of the weekend was Owen's first time seeing the Romantics and the first time seeing the inimitable Brad Elvis play as well.
Man, I tell you, I just couldn't adore Brad more. I'd gotten in touch a few months ago with Brad and he followed up with me when it got close, had tickets waiting for us, texted to make sure we were there, came out to say hi, got Owen's Romantics record signed by all the guys and accompanied it with a Brad Elvis drumstick that said "to Owen" and a pick as well. Could he be more wonderful? Watching Owen watch Brad play was...well, I can't even think of an analogy. It was just so joyful. Owen had mouth slightly open in amazement the whole time as well as a big grin. It is, of course, the only appropriate expression when you watch Brad. Brad will always be one of my favorite people and it was lovely to talk to him and Chloe afterward. Chloe even admired my fringe so I felt cool. ha! A million thanks Brad...you are the best. Oh, except that now Owen wants to play drums. Thanks Brad.
the boys doing their Jack Benny...
We made the decision not to stay for Air Supply (I know) and headed out into the Waukegan night. We started to cross the street and Owen stopped dead in his tracks and yelled, "THAT'S RAY BRADBURY!" Ahead of us was a mural with the theater, Jack Benny, Ray Bradbury, and other Waukegan highlights painted on it. Owen loves Ray Bradbury. So it seemed like the icing on the cake. My sweet pea. We headed home, stopping at Superdawg for a late dinner. It was a truly lovely evening.
Sunday we went to Ann Sather for breakfast with Van and Karin, and then hit a few record stores before leaving town. No luck at Reckless Records, but they found a few things at Dave's Records, where Ernie ran into Chris Ligon working there. What a treat. I remember Ernie actually hired Chris at Second Hand Tunes and then all the Second Hand Tunes fought over Chris because everybody liked him so much. Ha. So long ago. Ernie was so happy to see him and be able to introduce Owen to him. The guys found a few things at Dave's but Reckless said their Loop store had the album Owen was looking for so we trundled off and doubleparked while they ran into get it. By this time Ernie had been felled by a wretched cold (which Owen has today) so he crawled into the back seat and I drove home in the fog and drizzle while Owen played dj.
It felt good to be home despite not wanting to leave and Leo was happy to see us. I yelled my favorite saying from the Dinosaur Bob books, which I do whenever I'm happy to be home, "HOME SHOUTED THE CHILDREN" and promptly collapsed.
Thanks Van. Thanks Karin. Thanks Brad. Thanks Chicago. Love you all.
oh, and forgive my fuzzy pictures....