You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2011.

I went to the dentist tonight and almost escaped without incident or threat of a return visit.  Almost.  They say I need a crown.  I cannot accept this.  I have no scheme, no possible scenario in which I, a 29-year-old who grew up in the United States drinking fluoridated tap water, who faithfully brushes and flosses daily, and who doesn’t do anything stupid like bleach her teeth or gargle with acid, need a crown.   It just doesn’t make sense.

I can accept if my body has an issue.  I can go full-Monty to find a solution, a diagnosis, a treatment.  I am willing to undergo invasive testing, have cameras shoved down my throat, or tubes shoved up other parts.  If something goes wrong with my body, I want to find out how to fix it.

My teeth are a different story.  I take care of them, and all I ask in return is that they give me six months between Water-Pik torture sessions in the dental chair.  They have let me down again.  When I had my first cavity, I freaked out.  My dentist could sense this, and did all but hold my hand the whole time.  He even called later, from his home, to check on me.  Not on my oral state, but on my mental state.

He retired last month, and some random guy with a mask on his face told me I need a crown.  He doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my teeth, doesn’t know my history and my family.  He doesn’t know my old dentist had been watching “staining” settle into weird cracks in my teeth, and had been hesitant to drill.

I can’t trust him.  I can’t go back.  I can’t face any of it.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask any questions, so I don’t understand anything about it.  I can’t face my husband or my dogs or the “estimate” of $850 to repair what I can’t even accept is a defect.  My old dentist might just see it as staining.  Anyone else might be less alarmist, less drill-happy, and look further.

So, yeah, I have a healthy dose of denial.

I haven’t spoken since I walked in the door 2 hours ago.  I’m having a 29-year-old’s silent tantrum because I cannot process what is allegedly happening to my tooth.  If I keep my mouth shut, will it all go away?

We watched an episode of “Hoarders” yesterday, and one of the people on the show had a decent amount of insight into her problem.  She called herself a hoarder, called her house a mess, and knew it was time to do something.  Everything in the clean-up was going swimmingly, until Dr. Zasio, the condescending therapist called in to support the individual, pushed her too far.  She wanted her to give up a smelly, dirty old moving blanket.  And the woman refused, insisting it could be cleaned, bleached, used again.  Yet Dr. Zasio persisted, and pushed her too far.  She couldn’t read her client, couldn’t respond to her needs as an individual, hadn’t established enough rapport that the woman even trusted her.  The therapist herself was too wrapped up in the blanket, too insistent on what it symbolized.  The woman melted down, refusing to sort the heap in her home rationally, and exploding with mediagenic-drama, saying ,”Fine, throw everything out!  I don’t care.”  In her obsession with the blanket, Dr. Zasio had sabotaged the entire clean-up.  I spoke to the TV as her melt-down began.  Why didn’t they keep the stupid blanket for the time being, and show it again at the end, when the home is (relatively) beautiful and (relatively) clean, for the woman to make her own decision then, seeing the big picture?  Why did it have to happen then?  Why did they push so hard?

What followed was some analysis of the woman’s short fuse (or, in my household, the therapist’s insensitivity), and a discussion of how she cannot handle stressful incidents.  Like being pressured to throw away a filthy blanket.

Whatever her disordered mind may be going through, I am feeling a sort of identification, a kinship.  I’ve been given an ultimatum, with no decision, no choice in the matter.  I don’t trust the authority delivering the message.  Maybe to him, it’s no big deal.  Maybe he’s done dozens of crowns since he finished dental school last year.  Maybe to my parents, who grew up in a different era, and already have mouths full of metal and other foreign objects, it’s a routine inconvenience.  Maybe to my friend who lived in Russia for the first 12 years of her life, who has to accept the dental inferiority of the place she grew up, it’s just the cost of her heritage.  But it’s a little more to me.

I screamed as I drove home.  I wailed.  I’m too young.  It’s not supposed to happen to me.  What did I do for this to happen?  What didn’t I do?  What would my old dentist have said?  What would any other?  How many second opinions can I get before my tooth falls apart?  Why do I have to think about $850 for a crown when I’d rather think about earmarking that money for our trip to Ireland next week?  Why me?  Why does my husband have misaligned snaggly teeth that criss-cross his mouth every which way, but are still otherwise cavity-free and freakishly healthy?  It’s just not fair, and I can’t be expected to rationally consult my date book and make appointments 2 minutes after I’ve been told what’s wrong with me.  I can’t be expected to calmly make plans when I’m still mourning, grieving, processing, and, oh yeah, still in denial.

Advertisements

Occasionally, we all venture outside of our comfort zones.  I took Mr. Apron indoor rock-climbing for his birthday, and was worried sick in all of my surreptitious planning that he would not want to try something new.  Though it was certainly outside of our usual cultural events (plays, operetti, early music concerts), and sporting activities (downhill skiing, bowling, mini-golf, and nature walks), he overcame his fears and/or reluctance (and was also scared of hurting my feelings by telling me he did not want to do it), and we went rock-climbing.

I had a great time; he was afraid he was going to drop me when it was his turn to belay.

Other times, though, taking risks by wandering away from comforting routines is enough to be a wake-up call in and of itself.  Trying a new restaurant, eating at a different time, or making macaroni and cheese by using soy milk (I guess I’m hungry if all my examples have to do with food…) can feel new, different, challenging.  Just defying my usual preferences yesterday was enough to shock me into self-awareness.

Due to the insane, overwhelming heat, even our most powerful, modern air-conditioning unit cannot keep up with the demands we make that it maintain our indoor temperature below 88 degrees.  And when this happens, other strange events transpire.  We went yesterday to a 1:15pm showing of Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows, part 2.  While no one would say it is usual that hip, young people (or those pretending to be hip and/or young) go to matinees, for us, it is exceptionally rare.  Movies pair very well with dinner out.  Movies are often date-type activities.  Movies are a way to unwind and relax after a long day of work or running around.  Frankly, old people go to movies at 1:15pm.  Old people like my in-laws.  One additional factor plays into our evening cinematic habits, and that is my preference for darkness (of the theatre) during darkness (of the outdoors).  I dislike the disorientation that comes from being ensconced in surround sound darkness for 2 hours, only to emerge into blinding sunlight and have no idea what time it is.  Another idiosyncrasy is that I feel like I am wasting daylight hours, and, therefore, daytime itself, as if seeing a matinee will herald the end of the weekend any sooner than it would already be coming.

Yet yesterday afternoon, the extreme heat had me gladly seeking out the earliest showing in an air-conditioned movie theatre we could find.

In addition to seeing movies in the dark, I also prefer to fool around with Mr. Apron at night.  I suppose I’m rather like an Englishman, in the song the Katie Parker character sings in the 1995 film, “Funny Bones”.

Englishmen never make love by day

It can’t be helped

It’s just their way

It isn’t good form to be warm

In the heat of the sun

 

But never despair as you waste away                  

For in spite of your plight

and your deep dismay                  

Though Englishmen

never make love by day

At night they’re quite all right

 

Probably it also relates to my reluctance to do “night-time” things while the sun is shining, to waste valuable daylight hours in bed.  Beds are for night-time.  Plus, it’s the best sleep-aid there is.

Yet yesterday morning found us lingering in the cool sheets a little longer, encouraged by the cooling effects of 8 hours of air-conditioning.

As an avid library patron (albeit one with piddling fines chasing her), I rarely purchase a book I can find within the stacks of my local library system.  My mother-in-law, being a librarian at our local branch, often will bring requested books or movies home for us, and make fabulous suggestions in both book and movie.  She’s like Netflix.  I rarely reread a novel; even a favorite book I’ll pick up every few years at the most.  Why should I spend money to store a dusty volume I’ll probably only read once when my tax dollars support the library, which will store the book for me, and have it at the ready whenever I need it? (during business hours, of course) The few books I do purchase would probably fall under the reference category.  They’re not encyclopedias or Consumer Reports Best Car Seats of 2010; rather, they’re sewing/crafting books I’ll refer to for patterns or instructions again and again.  They’re cook books with recipes I’ll reach for time and time again.  They’re How to Keep Your House From Falling Apart guides, and professional resources from grad school.  They’re novelties I picked up at the thrift store for $1 showcasing knitting patterns from 1975. But I am loathe to purchase the words I will read only once.  And sometimes I’ll check a book out from the library (even a craft book) to see if I’ll use enough of it to justify the cost, or if I could find the same projects online for free.  I’ll buy them used on from Amazon sellers, eBay, or half-price book stores.

Yet yesterday, as Borders was in the midst of liquidating its stock thanks in part to non-buyers like me, who just go there to peruse and absorb the air-conditioning, I bought books.  And they were only 10% off.  Sure, it was a cookbook (the one my friend lent me with the orange bread recipe in it), but I’d seen it just the day before at a used bookstore for only $8.  Why did I pass it up then, yet decide to buy it from Borders?  Why did I have to deliberate and ponder my eventual decision so thoroughly at all?  It’s not like we can’t afford at $30 cookbook, even without the discount.  It’s not like I’m considering taking up baking and not sure if I should “invest” in a cookbook (or a stand mixer, or saffron).  On the one hand, I tend to overcomplicate buying decisions in the first place.  On the other hand, I’m an educated consumer.  I try not to succumb to impulse purchases.  I try to do my research, compare price-per-pound at the grocery store, and buy only what I need.  This gets complicated, though, by the thrifty, crafty person inside.  I compare my idea of “value” to the price on the shelf.  If I can make it, buy it used, or find it elsewhere for less, I may pass it up entirely.  Ironically, I rarely end up buying things for myself, convincing myself I don’t even really need them at all.  The robot shirt-dress I made in June and the apple-and-pear sundress I’m finishing up right now mark the first garments I have sewn for myself in a very long time.  I can’t even remember the last thing I made for myself.

But that’s another post entirely.   This isn’t about my purchasing dilemma; it’s about going outside my comfort zone, and doing three things in one day that took me outside myself, if only in a small way.

These three things may not be significant in the grand scheme of things, may not show a daring spirit, or the sense of adventure that might come in marrying an Irish Traveler and moving into a trailer with no toilet, but I hope that they show me I am still, as Ollivander the wand-maker might say, “reasonably springy”.

When you read that your fetuses have approached onion size, it makes sense that your last pair of shorts are fitting only by hanging onto your hips by the narrowest of margins, drooping suggestively below the belly bump.

What do you need?  Fried food.  What better to consume on a 100 degree day?  Onion rings, made with the kitchen air-conditioner (c. 1980) doing its best to combat the golden fried heat emanating from the stove-top.   Having no ready recipe (bread some onions in some batter, fry them), I found something that used only ingredients we had on hand.  It’s a good a way as any to choose a recipe.

Onion Rings

from cooks.com

3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. water
1 egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients; add water and egg. Batter will be thin. Dip onion rings in the batter and deep fry.

Aside from not having a deep fryer, so the bottoms became a little discolored (not burned, just not aesthetically restaurant style), we both decided these were some of the best onion rings we had ever eaten.  The batter didn’t dry out, and, more important, it didn’t separate from the onion part entirely when we bit into it.  I hate that.  You’re left with a mouthful of onion, and an empty shell of batter, which is just not the same as having both flavors combined in one glorious bite.  I was a little skeptical of adding the egg and water to the dry ingredients, as, when I fry battered things, I’m used to dipping in the egg, then in the batter.  But it totally worked.  And only seemed to get better as the cornstarch had a chance to thicken (I’m guessing).

Here are some in-process pics to whet your appetite!

Onions, all sliced and ready for the fry-o-later.

 

Mr. Apron prepares for his duties as fry cook with a little cheese stick pre-gaming.

The appetizing batter, resembling a large bowl of baby vomit.

I dip, I drip, I pose in my apron.

Mr. Apron wields his mighty Fry Fork.

The first batch!!

 

The obligatory foodie pic, piled onto a BBQ "chicken" sandwich.

And I bet you thought it was going to be guacamole!  I thought so, too, truthfully.  I told a coworker/friend of my weekly baby bump recipe, and he, being an avid cook/baker, all but hijacked avocado week.  I’m lucky I was invited to his apartment to eat the things.  As such, I played no hand in making them, but I did get to taste.  And I am providing a recipe (though is it the right one?  who knows…).  Given the simplicity of the ingredients, I imagine one recipe is not too different from the next.

Avocado Popsicles

(from yumsugar.com)

1 large avocado
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

(He used regular milk in place of the coconut milk.  I think I would try it with coconut milk (or soy milk) next time, to cut down on the lactose issues.  But I digress.)

Using a hand mixer, blend all of the ingredients until creamy.  Fill popsicle molds with the avocado mixture and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours.

Seriously, that’s it.  I would recommend making sure you have plenty of freezer time, as we had a cracking hard time getting these suckers to release from their molds.  Here are some in-progress shots of the consumption process.

Attempt 1: Submerging the molds in hot water.

 

Attempt 2: Running the molds under hot water.A popsicle, "plated". Not shown: scraping the thing out of its mold with a knife and reassembling it on the plate.

  

A popsicle, "plated". Not shown: scraping the thing out of its mold with a knife and reassembling it on the plate.

Oh, wait. There's the knife. And a mangled popsicle.

 

Finally, preparing to enjoy!

 

I eat it.

 

 
 

Though Mr. Apron was not a tremendous fan, I quite enjoyed the creamy sweetness that was quite unexpected. 

 
Stay tuned for next week: onions!
Ready for the pregnancy bake-off?
 
This week, week 15, my fetuses are said to be the length of navel oranges.  Accordingly, I borrowed a cookbook from a friend (as my mother’s orange marmalade bread is dry, and who wants to buy orange marmalade just to bake bread?), and we baked:
 

Indian River Sweet Orange Bread

from Maitta Heatter’s “Book of Great Desserts”

4 c. flour
1T plus 1t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1t salt
3 large oranges (but you may use as many as 5 or 6), to yield 1 1/3 c. juice
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
3 T butter
3 eggs
opt: 1 c nuts: walnuts or pecans (Ed. I did not add any nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 2 9×5 loaf pans.

Everything out and ready! Hello oranges!

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in large mixing bowl and set aside.

With a vegetable peeler, remove just the brightly-colored outer rind (not the white part underneath) of 2/12 oranges and reserve it. Do this in long, thin strips if you can.  Cut the strips into long slivers.  Squeeze the oranges.  You will need 1 1/3 c. of juice.  Set aside. 

Place the rind, sugar, and water, into a large, heavy saucepan.  Stir over high heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil (Ed. Only the edges may start bubbling).  Reduce heat to moderate and let mixture boil without stirring for 5 minutes. (Ed. this will look like sea foam.)

 

It begins to boil

Orange sea foam!

Remove from heat.  Add butter and stir to melt.  Stir in the orange juice.  Beat the eggs lightly and stir them in.  Pour this over the sifted dry ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. 

Smell it. Go on, you know you want to...

Turn into prepared pans.  Shake/tap to level batter.  Bake 40-45 minutes (Ed. Recipe says 55min-1hour, but I found they were quite done at 40 min) or until a cake tester comes out dry. 

Cool in pans about 10 minutes before removing to racks to finish cooling. 

All done!

Serving suggestions include applying butter or cream cheese to toasted bread, or serving plain.  It smelled so good, and Mr. Apron didn’t want to befoul it with any sort of spread, so we ate it plain, slightly warm.  Very moist and delicious. 

Stay tuned next week — we are entering avocado territory.  Thank goodness they’re in season!

As a member of thebump.com, I am treated not only to weekly updates on fetal development, reviews of the hottest $600 strollers, and inane messages on the chat boards (can I paint my nails when I’m pregnant?), but also to a fruit-size comparison.  Every week, I can see which fruit’s length corresponds to my fetuses’ crown –to-rump length.  And then I know what type of fruit is nesting inside me.

Last week, in honor of the twin lemons within my womb, Mr. Apron and I baked lemon nut bread.  Only, we didn’t have walnuts, and I put them in cupcake tins, so Mr. Apron could take them to work on the weekend.  They weren’t the most beautiful creations.  Instead of rising and making pretty little mounds on the top, they exploded over the edge of the tin, but with enough lemon glaze, you wouldn’t even look at their aesthetics as you let the sugary lemony goodness melt in your mouth.

This week, my parasites are the size of navel oranges.  I thought since I’m a baking sort of person, and I’m currently baking two buns in my personal oven, why not keep up with my fruit-of-the-week and inspire a confection of the week?  I may even take pictures in the future.

Thus is conceived the weekly bake-a-thon!

And no, I have not yet been offered a book deal, but I will negotiate with the right agent.