Thursday, January 23, 2014

To Better Days

it is 10:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i have decided to attend a class in honor of  a friend who recently passed on.  she was a practitioner of chinese medicine and reached out to all of the english speaking population in zefat.  i heard that there was a huge turnout for her funeral.  i didn't make it there.

i had two appointments at sheba hospital in tel aviv that morning.  i read psalms for her all the way to tel aviv.  i had a strong feeling that she was passing away. as i heard it be told, the doctors told her that she had three days left.  how they knew, i'll never understand.  the hardest thing to comprehend was how a person who recently seemed and looked totally well, died so suddenly.  it was leukemia that ravaged her.  i tried to read up on it and just gave up.  what's the difference, really.

i was given a good report from both the gyn/oncologist and the brain surgeon.  they both were unusually sociable and cordial with me.  they both had interns attending that day and allowed me to interact with them.  the gyn/oncologist told me that i had significant bone damage from the radiation therapy and that is what is causing all the pain.  he said that it should go away in a year.  normally, i would have been depressed with the news, but under the recent circumstances of my friend's demise,  i was happy to be alive even if it meant a considerable amount of daily pain.

the homeopath wants to try and help me.  i made an appointment for monday.  i'd rather try something natural instead of depending on anti inflammatory and pain drugs.  we'll see what she comes up with.  i try not taking pain pills.  however, i do spend a lot of time lying down.  lately, it has been rather painful to sit.  the  brain doctor told me that the tumor was stable.  there is no emergency to operate but he feels that it is better to take it out while i am in more or less, good health.   actually, he says that i could continue like this, being anti symptomatic, for another ten years.   the problem  could eventually escalate making surgery difficult or impossible.  realistically, i could be fighting , heaven forbid,  another bout of  cancer in the future which would definitely, make brain surgery a huge risk.

don't get me wrong, i am not gong ho on surgery.  especially, when i am not symptomatic.  i kind of think it's the right decision but i will try and get some other medical advice.  as the surgeon explained more specifics of the actual procedure, i became horrified.  i will revisit the oncologists in april and undergo another brain mri, too.  i'm thinking of a summer surgery.  we shall just wait and see.

my grandson has been coming upstairs to visit me almost every morning.   sometimes it's 3:30 a.m. but usually it's 5:30 a.m.  this morning he told me that i am sick everyday and that i am an old person.  he is only repeating what i have been telling him for months. he's heard me say that  i'm too old to pick him up, or that i'm too sick to take him to the park or give him piggy back rides for some time, now.  somehow it got to me when i heard him tell me that i was sick and old today.  i felt myself trying to validate my worth as a human being to a 4 year old..  silly me.

the kids are having a shabbaton downstairs with the daughter-in-law's sister and family this weekend.  that leaves me free from cooking, cleaning and shopping this week.  lucky me!   i am willing to share whatever fowl i have in the freezer as long as i don't have to prepare it..  i'm not up to baking either.  i need a break.  i will decide if i want to visit a friend for lunch.  it's nice to be free for a change.  i hope i'm not asked to make a cheesecake.  i really don't feel up to doing anything.  the travelling and the pain has taken a toll on my stamina.

we are expecting a few babies in the family.  it is great news.  i am happy to be around to greet them.  i can't wait.  i am feeling really emotional these days.  i want to be well and i want to enjoy my family.  it's in times like these that we see what is really important or not.  may we all enjoy good health!  and may we all enjoy good news!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Easy Shabbat

it is 6:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  shabbat just ended.  it was a pretty easy shabbat.  it was very warm and sunny so we spent the morning in the backyard enjoying the heat.   preparations for shabbat seemed rather easy this week.  the house was already clean from tu b'shvat so there was no last minute running around to mop the floors.  what a pleasure!

i already had a freezer full of chicken so there was no last minute run to the super.  i was in pain so the daughter-in-law went out to buy the veggies and treats.  i had plenty of grape juice left over form tu'b'shvat so we didn't need to buy drinks, except for a few beers.  i made a chicken cholent because i didn't have any meat.  there was a lot of cooked wheat and barley left over from the seder so i threw it into the stew.  i was a bit  nervous about adding it because it had been flavored with Cinnamon and apple juice but i didn't feel like wasting it.

i actually worried about the cholent all night long.  silly me.   the kids loved it.  it had a caramelized quality to it and almost all of it was eaten.  score one for the zelda.  i also had a hit with the mango layer cake that i served.  i had half of a white cake from a few weeks ago in the freezer.  i had used mango juice for the liquid.  i had this great idea of turning it into a layer cake.  i cut it into 3 sections and cut each section into thirds.  i made up a frosting of fresh whipped cream and vanilla pudding.  it was too stiff to spread so i added a bit of juice from a tangerine.  it gave it a subtle fruity citrus taste but it was very delicate and creamy.  it was a perfect shabbat morning cake and a third of the price of making a cheesecake.  once again, hats off to the zelda.

i didn't dare let the kids know that they were eating leftovers.  heaven forbid, they should eat something from the freezer!  i made stewed chicken legs and chicken meatballs for the main course.  i fried a few chicken cutlets too.  i made a small amount of rice that mostly got eaten.  i made a small niles perch fish in spicy tomato sauce.   everyone seemed to like the food.  the grand kids were too busy playing in the next room to join us for a meal so i gave them each a chicken cutlet in a napkin.  i had a lovely box of strawberries left over form tu b'shvat, complements from a friend, so we had an easy dessert.  i simply whipped up some non dairy cream to accompany the fruit.

the kids nashed on left over dried fruit and nuts all day so we didn't need to buy a lot of junk for them.   everyone got along and there weren't any blow ups this shabbat.  the daughter-in-law did the dishes so once again, i had it easy.  .i do have to babysit this evening but i can lie on a sofa in the next room and watch the telly.  it was so heavenly being warm and comfortable this shabbat.  although i am suffering with pain in my lower back and leg, i can do the steps.  lifting the kids is out of the question.  i feel like i'm hobbling along like an old lady.  that's what it is.

i have an old acquaintance that is undergoing tests for a serious condition in haifa.  that seems to be the 'in thing' with my crowd.  thankfully, my body is clean of the cancer cells.  if this pain is a residual side effect of the radiation treatment there isn't much i can do about it.  the homeopathic remedy that i took this week didn't really alleviate it.   i'm thinking of trying a thai massage.  i accept the pain willingly.  it could be a lot worse.

now i'm thinking of purim.  we have another two months but you can never plan too early.  i am also looking forward to cleaning the house for pesach.  this place does need a serious spring cleaning.  i hope that i'll be able to cope.  i definitely am very tired lately.  i tend to nap a lot more.   the day after tu b'shvat, i couldn't make it out of bed.  i have never been able to pace myself.  especially now, i never know when i'll be pain free or have excess energy; so whenever i can, i do whatever needs to be done.  when i shop at the super, i try to look out for bargains and i try keeping the freezer stocked.

the other night the kids felt like pizza.  no one had any cash so i made a huge platter of ravioli.  i buy it on sale and keep it in the freezer.  i made two kinds: one batch of sweet potato and one batch of goat cheese.  it takes 5 minutes to boil up.  i take a box of cooking cream and a little butter and voila!  i  have a lovely sauce and a gourmet meal in minutes.   my daughter-in-law cannot tolerate the smell of  goat cheese or goat butter so i made her a separate batch with tomato sauce.   lately, she brings up food for me and sometimes i actually, eat it.  it's always a treat to have hot food.

i went off the south beach diet for a few days and i can already feel the pounds coming back on to the stomach area.  i have to get back on my diet tomorrow before there is a lot of damage done.  i feel like a beached whale.. .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tu B'Shvat 2014

it is 5:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i have been baking, cooking, and straightening up all day.  tomorrow evening is the new year for trees.  i make a tu b'shvat seder every year.  last year due to health issues, i didn't host one. i merely bought 12 items and the kids and i ate them and said the appropriate blessings.  tomorrow  night we'll be a small group of lady kabbalists.  i have small amounts of over 30 fruits and nuts to display

two years ago i cooked a different dish out of nearly 30 varieties of nuts and fruits.  it was way over the top.  i ended up eating most of the leftovers and put on a bit of weight.  this year i am keeping with the 12 fruits and nuts that correspond to the 12 letter name of Hashem.  we will read a torah passage for each item we eat and we will drink 4 cups of wine.  we will alternate from drinking white wine to red wine.  we always crack up when we need to add a 'drop' of red wine to the white wine.  someone always screws up.

i already set the table and put out little wine glasses.  i don't think any of us are up to drinking large goblets of wine anymore.   i also have grape juice for any tea totters among us.  this year we will have live entertainment.  my good freind and neighborhood buddy is bringing her organ.  she has been looking up fruit songs for days.  she called me up with a preview.  we always break out in song after drinking the wine.  we usually can't think of a lot of songs.

one elderly friend usually sings 'chiquita banana' and actually knows all the words.  another friend used to sing 'i've got a lovely bunch of coconuts' but,  unfortunately, she won't be joining us this year.  i actually delegated this year and asked different people to bring things.  one friend is bringing oatmeal cookies.  for the occassion,  she has added chocolate chips, cranraisins, and almonds.  another friend is bringing lemon squares.  everyone is excited to be using butter because we won't be serving any meat.  the guest musician is bringing a sweet noodle kugel and an orange and avocado salad.  one guest is bringing some fruit and napkins.  you know how crazy i am about  theme napkins!

i made coconut bars with fresh coconut.  i broke my small electric grinding machine in the process.  i should have just used the hand grater.  i also made carob and date brownies.  i only had a bar of goat butter.  i used a cup of date honey.   i hope it tastes okay.  i also made fruit bars with peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cranberries, prunes and apricots.  i cooked wheat and barley together with spices, apple juice and raisins.  that's to start the seder.  i also made my signature cream of chestnut soup.  i am planning on buying some cheese tomorrow to go with the fruit.

i am still suffering with leg and back pain.  i went to the homeopath on monday but the remedy didn't help at all.  i will have to ask the gyn/oncologist next week for help.  i did manage to walk home yesterday from canaan.  once a half hour walk, it now took forever.  i wanted to stop every few minutes.  i made it home anyway, but passed out for most of the day.  i am in constant pain and am beginning to think it won't ever go away.  i can not bend to pick up an object.  i have to get down on all fours and clean up the toys.  i find it very difficult to get in and out of bed and cars, are specially wicked for me.  enough pain talk on to the seder!

we have fresh orange, kiwi, mango, pear, pomegranate, apple, persimmon, carob, coconut, avocado and star fruit.  we also have canned lychees and canned olives.  i plan on making fried lychee donuts tommorow.  we have dried dates, figs, estrog, cherries, peach, prunes, apricots, papaya and raisins.  there are no grapes available in zefat this year.  we have almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, chestnuts, macadamians, brazilnuts and pistashios.  i  made chocolate leafs because the cocoa bean groes on trees.  and i am planning on serving coffee with whipped cream.

i already organized  the seder and the texts.  my friend is organizing a 'name that tune' game.  hopefully, it will all go well and we'll all have a ball.  they are predicting another snow storm after tu b'shvat.  oh please let it be not.  me and snow are enemies now.  i don't want to see any more snow ever again.  my fruit trees are miraculously standing and all the debris has been cleaned.