Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Pie


that's me, Luther

and my bud, Waldo...

wish you a Merry Christmas.

Mom baked this maple nut pie today.

It's made with real maple syrup and walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and dried cranberries...oh so easy/yummy. Similar to a pecan pie.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Preparing for the President's Visit


Saturday afternoon I saw 5 large helicopters in the sky near my house. At first I thought they were news helicopters but I quickly saw they weren't normal helicopters; they were those hotdog-shaped helicopters used by the military (or Airforce One). They seemed to be traveling west directly above Rt. 25 before veering to the north (toward Sandy Hook) at the flagpole.

We didn't learn that President Obama would be visiting my town until last night, but my friend said what I saw was the Secret Service scoping out the route in advance. (I guess it wouldn't be practical to stop and ask directions should they get lost.) However, news reports have indicated the President will arrive at Bradley International Airport in Hartford. I guess if he is then driven to Newtown (a good hour-long drive from the airport), then the security issues still need to be worked out.

It was an impressive sight.

I have also heard that the superintendent of schools has hinted that Sandy Hook School may never reopen. This, after I received a robo call last night from Pat Llodra, our town's first selectwoman, saying that all schools in my town will be closed Monday and then all except Sandy Hook School will reopen on Tuesday.

If I were a parent, I would want that school razed to the ground. How could any parent feel good about sending their children back there? Although budget votes are always contentious battles here that pit seniors and frugal-minded folks against school supporters, I suspect that if the subject of building a new elementary school comes up to a vote this spring, it will pass, easily

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The media circus in Sandy Hook Center

The national news media has descended on our little town. As you approach Sandy Hook Center, which resembles a small hamlet, it's bumper to bumper traffic, and cars with lots of out-of-state plates are lined up parked on both sides of the road.

Satellite trucks are everywhere, TV crews and reporters are interviewing people on the streets. Cops still have the road leading to the school blocked off to traffic, but they're allowing people to go to the firehouse (not sure about the school) on foot.

It's a very small and picturesque little Center. Historic 18th century homes line Church Hill Road as it descends down a gentle slope toward the single traffic light. There's a liquor store, Figs Restaurant, a Subway, a diner, St. John's Episcopal Church, the Demitassee coffee shop and a few other shops. The Pootatuck River meanders through the Center, behind all the stores. You can enjoy a lovely view of it if you sit on the back deck of the coffee shop. The sidewalks are brick, and the merchants have worked hard for years to revitalize the area and make it more of a destination.

Today, it surely is a destination, for all the wrong reasons. People are out walking with bouquets of flowers and impromptu memorials filled with votive candles are all over town: on a bench by Edmond Town Hall, at the flagpole, in front of the Virgin Mary statue at St. Rose, and of course, at the Sandy Hook School. Someone bought 20 Christmas trees, 1 for each child, and set them up. Saturday mass at St. Rose is packed right now.

A man was standing just off the interstate exit holding a sign that indicated he was from some town in NJ and that they support us. Another sign simply read, "Pray for Newtown." You can tell who the press is becus for some reason they all seem to dress in all black. It's all very sad.

I heard a few reports that the shooter was some sort of troubled genius, which makes me very angry. They shouldn't be turning him into any kind of figure that others would emulate or we'll have copy cat killers who harbor sick fantasies about becoming famous before they go out. Obviously this was a sick individual. No one in their right mind would hurt an innocent child.

I am sure that most people who live near the Center are hunkering down this weekend because you cannot venture out without getting stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We saw a few familiar news faces out there.

Now that it is dark, I'm sure the disparity of festive Christmas lights and greenery on all the shops and homes down there is going to feel so unsettling against the backdrop of what happened.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shock and dismay for my hometown

Today, Newtown made national headlines, for all the wrong reasons.

A local elementary school here was the scene of the latest lone gunman gone berserk. Twenty-seven people died this morning, most of them little kids.

I worked all day at the p/t job I've been at for less than a month. I absolutely could not believe this happened here.

I was concerned about trouble getting home from work tonight, as i heard someone saying earlier in the day the police were doing car by car searches, but that was really in a different part of town and didn't affect me at all.

I am sure I will be hearing much more about this as the days go on. You probably know as much as I do at this point. A 20-year-old man is the suspect, and he shot and killed his mother, a teacher who worked at the school, as well as a bunch of other people, before he died.

As someone here was already quoted, "we thought this was the safest place in America."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Garlic Guilt

Sigh. It's another bright and sunny morning here in southwestern Connecticut. It will be fairly warm today. I sigh because I am battling an entrenched bug that has kept me from doing just about anything, and that includes one fall chore I just never got to.

Mulching my new garlic beds.

Although I am a huge fan of the pungent bulbs, I have never planted it before. By the time I decided to do it, it seemed the hardneck varieties were all sold out online. (As I understand, the hardnecks will stand up to cold winters better.) I finally caved and bought a bunch of softnecks.

They were planted back in October, I believe. After the tender green shoots came up, I planned to mulch heavily, as prescribed. But one thing led to another, and here it is, early December, and I still haven't had a chance to put down a nice warm blanket for the bulbs.

I started coming down with some nasty bug the week before Thanksgiving. It was the whole nine yards, with a twist. I had the usual congestion and nasal drip, along with a nighttime cough that wouldn't stop, fever and chills, loss of appetite and energy. Within just a few days, the infection had migrated up my Eustachian tubes and lodged in my middle ears, muffling my hearing, and causing an earache and ringing in my ears.

My primary care doctor put me on a course of antibiotics, but after a full week on them, no improvement. By that point, I was feeling desperate to get better, but her office had already closed for the long Thanksgiving weekend. So I went to a walk-in clinic, where a PA prescribed a different antibiotic and Sudafed for my ears, both of which did absolutely nothing.

So, when my own doctor's office reopened on Monday, I returned to her, and she put me BACK on the original antibiotic, plus a second, high dose antibiotic, plus a nasal spray.

I had to return to see her later that week; while my cold symptoms had receded, the ears were still as plugged up as ever. I felt that the bug was still in my system, just latent. I was also getting very nauseous from the combo of the two antibiotics together; it was, I'm sure, a cocktail strong enough to kill a horse.

So she had me stop one of the antibiotics and put me on Prednisone (steroids) to try to reduce the inflammation in my ears.

While this third go-round on meds has helped, somewhat, I'm still definitely sick and my ears are still definitely plugged up. I guess it's been three weeks now, and frankly, I'm really sick of being sick. While I understand my doctor's reasoning in putting me on the Prednisone, I'm worried that doing so perhaps a bit prematurely allowed the underlying bacterial infection to resurrect itself, since steroids suppress the immune system.

I have an appointment this Friday with an ear, nose and throat specialist who perhaps can shed light on all of this.

Meanwhile, I feel that a part-time job I had just started a week before getting sick is in jeopardy, as I have been out repeatedly due to this illness. I missed out on Thanksgiving entirely.

This honestly started out as a post about garlic (!) but I see I have sidetracked significantly into a pity party. Sorry!

For a while there, I was dosing myself with three raw garlic cloves a day, since garlic has anti-bacterial properties. I actually liked the odor and taste of raw garlic. (Can't speak for anyone around me, though.) However, I had to stop doing that after reading the long list of warnings associated with the antibiotic. They specifically mentioned garlic, as I guess it thins the blood.

Well, guess what? I rechecked the med warning papers, and I see that the mention of garlic was on a different antibiotic, one I already finished up. So I guess I can get back to the raw garlic!

I have so much to do, and so much has been deferred. I am not done with my Christmas shopping; I would love to decorate the house. I had hoped to do grocery shopping and the landfill today, but I still feel far too sick; I don't want to see myself slide back after waiting so long for recovery to begin. Just keeping the dishes washed, my cats' litter boxes cleaned out and feeding myself has been about all that I can manage. My neighbors (bless 'em) brought me some homemade beef stew and chicken soup.

You really don't appreciate your good health 'til it's gone, that's for sure.