Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A list

1. I got up early this morning and swam at the Y. I'm not a big fan of getting up early. But I do like to swim early. Or at least I like the feeling of having swam early. Because I love eating a big breakfast, and it never tastes better than after a good swim.

2. I shopped yesterday. I'm constantly amazed at the advances in pancake technology. Not only does the premixed pancake mix now come pre-measured in a shakeable bottle so that active thought is reduced to a bare minimum. But yesterday I noticed that one can buy microwave pancakes. They are pre-made cakes that only require a short nuking, just in case the idea of having to add one ingredient to a bottle and shake was too daunting for you.

3. Now I'm drinking a delightful cup of joe, and jumping back into paper writing mode. Here I go...

Monday, October 27, 2008


I´m here safely and enjoying myself. And we do have some internet, which is nice. And I even got to talk to my husband today on the phone. I certainly praise God even for his little blessings.

My dad has a description he uses for VIMM, or Volunteers in Medical Missions, the group I am here with, a group he has been involved with for many years. He says that the purpose is to provide a cup of cold water at the end of the road. And let me tell you...we were at the end of the road today. So near the end that I felt like I was in a toyota commercial, riding in the back of this 4X4 pickup, bouncing down this muddy, unpaved road in the rain. It was great. It took us about an hour and a half from the village we are staying in, which is also about an hour and a half down an unpaved road. But the people certainly were happy to see us, and I injected every arthritic joint I could find. Lots of vitamins and parasite medicine was given out, and we treated lots and lots of scabies. So much that now I am itching.

The people are wonderful and appreciated so much even the small amount of help I could give. The best part are that we have lots of local believers with us who were preaching and praying with our patients before they saw us... which certainly is more useful than the month-long supply of medicine that i can give them. Honduras, I´m discovering, is a beautiful and green country, even when it rains all day. This morning I took a shower in the rain since the running water at our mission compound is not currently working. It was refreshing.

Now, though, it is time for bed. Perhaps another post will come later this week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the road again....

In just over 12 hours I will be on my way to Honduras for a medical missions trip. Like much of what I do, this was a bit of a last minute affair. At least my own preparation for it has been a bit of a last minute affair.

Yesterday, another of the doctors that I work with casually asked me if I was taking malaria prophylaxis. Umm....errr....oops. I didn't even think about it. Glad someone else around me thought about what they learned in medical school and decided that maybe I should look into getting medicine. So my dear dad called me in some pills that I started yesterday. Today I am frantically looking through all those papers I got but didn't read, trying to make sure I know what all I'm supposed to bring. Sheets? Towels? I'm still not sure.

So I'm off to do some more running around, finding a few snacks to take, and getting my suitcase packed. Hopefully my husband can provide some amusing blogs for this week, and I'm sure I'll have some photos to post when I get back. Unlike last year, I don't think there will be a computer with internet in the house we're staying at, so I doubt I'll be able to post. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to talk to Jeff.

Maybe one of these papers around here tells me about making phone calls. Guess I should get back to reading them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's in a nickname? featured another article today about the dilemmas of Chad Ocho Cinco. I have to chuckle every time I see these articles. In case you have not followed the saga, let me get you up to speed. Last year the Cincinnati Bengals had a receiver named Chad Johnson. His jersey number was 85. Thanks to the number, his nickname became "Ocho Cinco" spanish for "Eight Five" (note: note Eighty Five, but Eight Five). While the nickname is mildly clever, and has a certain ring to it, it is irregular for a nickname to have twice as many syllables as the name it replaces. But I digress. Anyway, Chad wanted to wear his nickname on his jersey, but the league required that players wear their real name on their jerseys.

So. Not to be out-witted, over the offseason Chad Johnson went to the Florida court system and legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco. Aha! Those wide receivers aren't as dumb as they look!

Now the league has said that he has to continue wearing "Johnson" jerseys this year because of merchandising contracts with Reebok, but next year he can wear Ocho Cinco on his jersey. However, It must be noted that this presents problems of its own.

Namely, if Ocho Cinco is his real name, then what will his nickname be? "Johnson?" Clearly one can't have ones real name be his nickname, else its not a nickname, its just a name. Besides, it will no longer be fun to call him Ocho Cinco, because its just his name, not a clever nickname. Also, this could begin a troubling precedent. If he is given a fun new nickname, will he just go change his name again?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You know you've been on medicine.....

for 4 weeks when you get to work and realize you left the house, saw patients, and spoke with an attending without having brushed your hair.

At least my teeth were clean.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Political Post

I'm not really much into politics, so this will be a brief post. I have 2 thoughts.

1. A friend turned me onto this article. I wonder if people who plan to vote for Sen. Obama know how extreme he is on this issue.

2. One of my college professors had this remark on his blog... "The problem, of course, is that no one has the capacity to see the relative insignificance of the elections, except the poor. They know that they will be excluded no matter who sits in what chamber to cast votes. One can not have justice without just persons, and one cannot have just persons unless one begins with proper worship of the Triune God."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Junior 2.0

Tah-Dah!! Now that the appropriate mourning period for Junior has passed, we are proud to unveil his replacement. Its a Toyota Highlander, and is just an ever so slight upgrade over Junior. As in 17 years newer. He is, as yet, unnamed. So if you are hit with inspiration upon seeing his picture, we are open to suggestions.

He has quite a few bells and whistles, but two stand out as my favorite. 1. A built in garage door opener in the sun visor. This is particularly great because when we bought our house it only came with one garage door opener, and I have been unable to find a replacement. So for the last year and a half any time I leave the house I back Junior out into the driveway then go back into the garage to shut the door and then run out and duck under the closing door while jumping over the little laser thingy, and happily drive away. Repeating the process in reverse when I get home. So needless to say, I am quite excited about having a garage door opener in the car. 2. It has a little arrow on the dash that tells you which side the gas tank is on. This might have been designed with me in mind, because as Aubrey can attest, I always forget which side of the car it is on.

It has some other things too, like AC and intermitten wipers that I think I might enjoy. And the headlights point forward. And the windshield keeps the rain out. Its amazing what they can do with the technology these days!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pear Butter works for me.

Working in a doctor's office, there are lots of people around who I'd like to give Christmas presents to, like the nurses who work on my pod, the secretaries who order us lunch everyday, our residency coordinator who fills out paperwork for us, etc. But I don't want to spend lots of money, because it starts to add up. This year I decided to make some Pear butter, which just sounded tastier to me than apple butter. Instead of orange zest and juice, I added lemon juice because that is what I had. I'm sure this would work great in a crock pot. I also don't have a food mill so I just used my blender.

Pear Butter
4 pounds medium pears, quartered and cored
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice

Place pears into a large pot over medium heat, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and keep them from sticking, about 1/2 cup. Cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes. Press pears through a sieve or food mill, and measure out 2 quarts of the pulp.
Pour the pear pulp and sugar into a large saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in the orange zest, nutmeg and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to mound in a spoon. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom. This will take about 1 hour.
Ladle the pear butter into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a metal spatula around where the pear butter touches the glass. Wipe jar rims clean, and seal with lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. The water should cover the jars by 1 inch. Check with your local extension for exact processing times for your area.

Keep all the peelings, cores, and leftover pieces of fruit that does not go into the pan, and these you can turn into Pear Honey

Pear Honey
Place all the good leftover pieces in a pot and cover with water. Simmer gently over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until the juice has turned a nice brown color. Drain through a cheesecloth.

Measure this syrup and combine it with half as much sugar in a pot, and boil slowly until it thickens to the consistency of honey. (This will take a while. I actually stopped before it was quite this thick, but it thickened up even more once it is in the fridge.)

Pour into jars and process the same as the pear butter.

Now, you have plenty of beautiful and delicious jars to give away as gifts, and have even used up all the goodness from the pears, creating an inexpensive but nice gift. That definitely works for me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A few more crafts:

I realized I haven't posted any recent crafty items, although I have done a bit of sewing here and there when I'm not stressed out at the hospital. (Incidentally, there are just 8 more days of this rotation for me, and the end cannot come fast enough.)

For Austin and Elise's wedding, I wanted to do something and contribute, so I asked Elise if I could make her some purses to use as bridesmaid's gifts. She was happy to let me exercise my creative brain and basically gave me free reign over what kind of bag to do. Of course, before I made all the bags for the bridesmaids, I had to come up with a pattern and do a test run so I wouldn't mess up the cute fabric she gave me. I dug around at my house and found some fabric lying around that I liked, and made a bag for myself to test the pattern. It's small, but not too small, and brown and blue with polka dots. There aren't too many other combinations I would like more. Sadly, I did not take pictures of the actual bags I made for Elise (And Michelle and Liz and Libby and Elizabeth and Kristen and who else am I forgetting?) but here is mine...

Although you can't see it in the photo, there is a little hook so I won't lose my keys as easily, and one of those magnetic button closures, which are surprisingly easy to use. I didn't really change much of the pattern for making the bridesmaids' bags, but Elise had this great red dotted fabric for the outside, with a red, green, gray, and white floral pattern for the inside.

And exhibit #2 - Since we have a very fertile residency program, I am often making shower gifts for friends through the residency. Here are a few things I did for a little girl who should be making her appearance any day now:
I've been experimenting a little more with using fabric on onesies and have come to realize that I love to make little designs like this one of the front. Fabric gifts like these are fun because they are relatively quick, and I find finishing projects immensely satisfying, AND people like to get them. Since we have a seemingly endless supply of babies being born here, I get the pleasure of having an excuse to do lots of cute sewing. Which is something I often need after a day at the hospital taking care of patients who don't seem to get better.

Friday, October 10, 2008

So Long, Junior.

Today was a momentous day. Along with the joy of our new car, which we got yesterday (pics to come...) comes the sadness of saying goodbye to our old car. (so far Aubrey is not as sad as she should be, I think she's in denial)

Junior was my first car. I got him when I was sixteen. He was 8 years old and had 90,000 miles. That was 14 years and two months ago. He's been a good truck, although his comfort level has declined slightly in recent years. After 14 years its hard to recount all the memories I have made that Junior has been a part of, both good and bad. There have been many road trips, as well as several trips to the ditch, courtesy of Colorado ice. I tried to recount some memories last year. And some others two years ago.

About three years ago I decided that I was going to stop spending money on repairing Junior. He was beginning to show his age, and I decided that I would just let problems go, and when they got too bad, I would know it was time to replace him. Shortly thereafter the muffler broke. Off. Er, it at least rusted through so badly that it didn't work at all. So he was a little loud, but still ran fine. No problem, I just didn't drive him on long trips. More recently the windshield came unsealed. So as Aubrey says, if its raining outside, its raining inside. No problem, I just stopped driving him in the rain. Then there was the infamous incident involving Junior, Aubrey and the senior citizen bus. After that the headlights didn't quite point the right direction, no problem, I just stopped driving him at night. Last December Junior care perilously near the point of no return. For a while he decided not to start regularly. Something about the clutch system. No problem, I just always carried an extra bottle of brake fluid in the car with me when I drove.

So he had some issues, but as long as it was light out, on a cool, dry day with my brake fluid, he was as good as new! Then last week he blew a hole in a radiator hose. I considered restricting him to only very short trips and adding a bottle of coolant to his on board arsenal, but this seemed a little extreme. Aubrey and I began to entertain the difficult (less difficult for Aubrey) idea of replacing him.

Yesterday was the big day. I did a rough patch job on the radiator hose, and sliding into the well worn seat, I got behind the wheel to drive him to the dealership. But alas, it seemed somehow appropriate, his battery was dead. He gave one weak attempt to start, and then sat in silent protest. Having endured the indignity of mufflerless driving, and now the shame of being overlooked in favor of newer, shinier cars, Junior finally would drive no more.

He enjoyed one final day of rest in our friends' Brian and Amanda's driveway while Aubrey and I brought our new car home, and parked it in Junior's spot. It fit perfectly. This morning I went over, said my last goodbye's, removed his license plate, and called the automotive coroner.

I got a little teary as they loaded him up. Fourteen years produce a lot of memories. And the inimitable character of Junior made those memories all the more unique and unforgettable. Despite his many flaws and imperfections He was still my truck, and He was a good truck.

Goodbye Junior.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I love books. And Shopping. And book shopping.

Whoever thought of the idea to put used books for sale on Amazon was a genius. And someone whose hand I'd like to shake. Or fill with tasty goodies. I just ordered 6 hardback books for $26, which includes shipping. If it weren't for my desire to give mostly handmade gifts for Christmas this year, I think I could just about get everything I needed on amazon. With the exception of shopping for my husband and my brothers, who just wouldn't quite appreciate a cute animal or bag. And judging by how stressed out I've been lately, doing the handmade thing may not work this year, so Amazon, it may be up to you....

Incidentally, I did just discover I do not enjoy car shopping. The thought of having a new(er) car is nice, but the actuality of having to talk to the car salesmen and listen to their spiels absolutely makes me cringe. Why can't there be an Amazon for buying cars?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Car Shopping

On Saturday Aubrey and I did a bit of car shopping. Its kind of fun, but kind of stressful and kind of obnoxious all at the same time. The most obnoxious part, of course, is dealing with the salesmen. I just had to laugh at how completely stereotypical they were. Most of them had mustache's, which I don't hold against them, but still. Here are a few of my favorite exchanges...

Me (having been introduced to the sales manager): So Jason said you could work with us on the price, what can you do?
Him: Well, I think we could probably take a little off.
Me: How much is a little?
Him: Well, ya know, like a little.

Me: Do you have any used Toyota Highlanders?
Salesman: Do you like 4runners?
Me: No.
Salesman: We got a really nice one over here.
Me: Will you sell it to me for the price of a used Highlander?
Salesman: You like Mitsubishi's?

Salesman: Were running a sale this weekend.
Me: Oh yeah? What kind of sale?
Salesman: Ya know, we've just kinda lowered the prices a bit.
Me: Ooooooh.

And my favorite line of the day, which was also the last line of the day, "What would it take to get you into this car today?" The most hackneyed line of all time. Which was offered after I had told the guy I was leaving, opened my car door, and was getting into my car. And was offered in relation to the above mentioned Mitsubishi, which I had not expressed one ounce of interest in, and I had rejected his offer of a test drive, but he was still gung ho on selling it to me.

In light of the evasiveness and general ridiculosity of all salesmen, I've decided that when I go back I'm going to be equally evasive with all my answers to their questions.

Salesman: Hi, I'm Jason, what's your name?
Me: The important thing is that you have a name you can live with.
Salesman: Oh, ok. So what is your name?
Me: I'm not like most customers, I like to be straightforward about what my name is. Now let's look at some cars.

Friday, October 03, 2008


How is it that I have gone my whole life without ever reading or knowing about Frederick Buechner until a few months ago?? Why did I not stumble onto him sooner? First I read Telling Secrets, which I just discovered via Amazon is the third volume of his autobiography. (Meaning I apparently need to get myself to the library and find the other two.) Incredible.

Next I read Godric, probably is his most famous work and an incredible novel about the life of the (real) 12-century saint named Godric, a book I quickly added to my favorite-books-of-all-time list.

Two days ago I started reading A Room Called Remember, which is a collection of sermons and essays that is hauntingly beautiful and, to use Jeff's word, sublime. A snippet from my favorite essay so far in the book:

"By faith we understand, if we are to understand it at all, that the madness and lostness we see all around us and within us are not the last truth about the world but only the next to last truth. Madness and lostness are the results of terrible blindness and tragic willfulness which whole nations are involved in no less than you and I are involved in them. Faith is the eye of the heart, and by faith we see deep down beneath the face of things--by faith we struggle against all odds to be able to see--that the world is God's creation even so. It is he who made us and not we ourselves, made us out of his peace to live in peace, out of his light to dwell in light, out of his love to be above all things loved and loving. That is the last truth about the world....The truth of God as the last and deepest truth--they none of them saw it in its fullness any more that we have, but they spent their lives homesick for it-- seeking it like a homeland, like home, and their story is our story because we too have seen from afar what peace is, light is, love is, and we have seen it in something like that room that love brought me back to that rainy day on the train and the bus, and where I found supper waiting, found love waiting, love enough to see me through the night."
A Room Called Remember, Buechner, page 22.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Could it be??? Finally???

Jayson Stark thinks so. And so do I.

Breathing a sigh of relief.

It really says something about you as a person when you are so unpleasant to deal with that even the psychiatrists (!!) do not want to take care of you in the hospital.

On the bright side, though, our unpleasant patient has now been discharged, raising our number of people discharged today to SEVEN!

So now my list is down to SIX, which means for once in the last week, I'm not feeling overwhelmed.

Of course, my team is on call tonight, so I could come in tomorrow with another 12 to see, but I'm smiling for now.