BRF, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and the Plague

On Saturday, Chris and I made our way to La Crosse (which is two separate words… who knew?!) and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Piggy’s. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a nice restaurant! Our host, Dr. P, had made arrangements for us to join the local medical society for their semiannual gathering. We heard from a very interesting speaker pioneering a new kind of clinic, basically cash for services with a lot of forgiveness involved, without any middlemen/insurance/coding involved. Or nurses, for that matter.

Then we headed to the borough of Black River Falls for 24 hours of bliss. We slept… we ate amazing food… I went skate skiing for the 2nd time ever and actually enjoyed it. As Dr. P says, skate skiing allows you to extend the skiing season into the slippery/icy time of year. This time, we were attempting it on a flat surface rather than hilly slopes, and that proved much better for getting the hang of it. Whew, what a work out!

Of course we had to do the occasional chore, like Chris carrying the grain out for the horses…

Then we went for a horse ride, although the conditions were deplorable – there was glaze ice on many of the trails, slippery for horses even with winter shoes, and the streams were iced over so that the horses broke through with each step. We still had a good time, though there was not much cantering or jumping. Instead all of the adrenaline surges were related to fear of falling.

Then we joined Dr. P and his daughter and son-in-law in sorting through his eclectic rock collection. After playing with some of these rocks, I’m ready to move to New Mexico and become a crazy crystal lady. There is something so cool about holding and sorting and touching these different stones. He even has an old boyscout set with a sample of “uranium;” to my disappointment, the radioactive ore looked pretty boring and white.

We ate fajitas and drank margaritas while playing clubs with Dr.  P’s wife and finally headed back around 8. 

On Wednesday I had corned beef and cabbage (for the first time in my life, I think!) with one of my church ladies, O. She was an absolute doll and made me lunch.

I was pleasantly surprised – corned beef is downright tasty! I will definitely try to recreate this sometime. Most of all, I enjoyed my time with O.

In the midst of all this Chris and I have been battling the Plague – I mean, a cold. At least we think it’s a cold, a very long-lasting cold. I got it early last week and then started feeling better this weekend. But alas, it was the “surge” before the relapse. Then the sinus drainage started and I had to actually call out sick on Tuesday, which I never do. Chris hasn’t been feeling great either. 

 

So we’ve been doing the usual – taking cold medicine and zincs, drinking hot tea, laying low (as much as possible) and resting. Please pray that this cold moves on and that it afflicts no one else!

 

Weekend with Mic

A couple times a year, my firefighting brother Mic and I have some sibling hang-out time. As you might expect, we talk about fires, discuss Nomex and EMS courses, make grand plans for the future, talk about spiritual journeys, try out local brew pubs…

and go to art museums!

OK, maybe you didn’t see that coming, but there is nothing more fun than some irreverent artsploration with my brother.

But let me back up. Mic got in on Friday and we headed to the grocery store to get some tasty food. Mic thought a baked brie would be perfect, so we got all the ingredients. He was shocked and appalled when we didn’t have any rolling pin, but he made do.

That brie was soooo good! We accompanied it with some samples of Mic’s own homebrews and a fantastic game of Citadels.

On Saturday we had brunch at Pannekoeken, one of my very favorite local breakfast joints. Of course I had a pannekoeken, a delicious egg pancake, with bananas and rum sauce. Then Mic and I headed up to the Cities to get our culture on.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is impressive – an enormous emporium of fantastic art. We pored over the American and European… sadly, there was less Moran and Bierstadt than Mic and I like, but there were many thought-provoking pieces. This painting, for example, shows that it has always been impossible to do your daughter’s hair without an iPad.

Yes, I think that girl is totally watching something on her iPad while her maid does her hair! Just proving the iPad is not a new invention! (The piece is by an unknown Dutch artist in the late 17th century and is titled Lady at her Toilet).

Then we saw this Springtime of Life picture by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot:

“That’s a Minnesota spring,” I told Mic. She doesn’t look too chipper, does she?

Thankfully she was balanced out by some Sisley and Pissaro.  And then in the Modern section there was this fantastic piece:

This painting is Dear Diary – Never Since We Left Prague by Leonora Carrington (1955). Spooky white-haired pale figures around a table with weird items and floating creatures in the foreground… I would totally read a novel based on this painting! Heck, I would write it if I had any idea what was going on!

In the middle of our “artsing” we got nibbly and had to grab a snack at the cafe. They had a very nice $4 bread-and-butter option… we didn’t want to try anything heavier because we were planning to go out for dinner. In fact I had texted my high school friend Jesslyn, who lives in the Cities, to see what she recommended.

As we left the museum and headed to my car, who should we run into but Jesslyn! She was pulling out of her driveway and recognized me… she hasn’t seen me in the flesh since high school… what are the odds?!

After a brief catch-up session, Mic and I headed to Darbur for some tasty Indian food and then decided to try some local brewpubs. Within walking distance we found The Herkimer and tried a couple flights of their beer so we could cover all the bases. I like light, clear beers but my fav was actually their Derry cream beer brewed with nitrogen (which makes it taste kinda flat but not unpleasant). The bartender gave us the name of his pal at Northbound which was pretty much on our way home (or so we justified it to ourselves). Northbound was packed and after tasting their wheat beer I could understand why – it was just what I like. Plus, Mic is doing home-brewing and has all kinds of brilliant insights into beer and “beer culture” which could be its own post.

The next day, Chris and I played handbells, and Mic headed back to Omaha. Here is a pic of the three of us looking respectable at church.

And today is St. Patrick’s Day and it was one of those very busy days off in which I got relatively little done. But… I did wear green. Éirinn go Brách! (Ireland forever!)

My Weekend to Work… or not!

Every three weeks, my weekend to work comes around, as regular as clockwork. This one was particularly depressing because it was “Spring Forward.” If you get up at 5:30 – it feels like 4:30! Fanfreakingtastic! But this weekend, thanks to lucky class scheduling and a thoughtful trade, I only had to work Sunday.

On Friday night we made pomegranate martinis – basically a Cosmo with pomegranate juice. In lieu of martini glasses we used mini jam jars, and instead of a cocktail shaker we used an empty, cleaned out, thoroughly sanitized salsa jar. Sheer brilliance! Here is a picture of the cute bartender:

I got to spend Saturday morning with my hubby before he went in to his emergency rotation… and we went to Culvers!! At times I think about becoming a vegetarian, but then I have a butterburger and I am forced to re-evaluate my priorities.

Saturday night I went to a Girls Night some fourth year medical students. We had wine and pita pizzas and made ourselves a chocolate pudding cake. Nicole’s husband joked that we should braid each other’s hair and paint each other’s nails. Of course, Nicole got out the nail polish!

Sunday was Spring Forward and it was hard to get up – nor was my sleep the most restful, because I was worrying in the back of my head that my phone wouldn’t reset. Thankfully, both my phone and the alarm clock are “smart” and read the appropriate times when I got up. Then staffing called to tell me I was going to Methodist. I worked on one of the hem/onc/bone marrow transplant units, and I had a great day. I thought I was going to float at 11 – but noooo, I kept my patients (and the unit shared their tasty potluck with me!(. Then I thought I was going to float at 3… but nooo, instead another nurse gave me her three patients, including a discharge that should have been a piece of cake. That lady was raring to go, she just needed that last unit of blood to go in and she wheeled away.

Alas, things proved more complicated than anyone ever hoped, and I was still talking to people about the discharge 3 hours after the patient left the floor. What a mess! But it all worked out. I got by with a little help from my friends, I mean, fellow nurses.

So this has been a great week of socializing and friendship and good work experiences. And best of all, IT WARMED UP! We got a taste of March with temperatures in the 40’s and the snow is melting away (although that means it is exposing a tremendous amount of poo for me to pick up). Praise the Lord, spring is in the air!

Yes, I know the snow will come back, but I hope temperatures above 0 are here to stay 🙂 

‘Tis the season… of Lent

It’s been over a year since I started keeping this blog, a year in which I have seen God’s incredible faithfulness to us through many things – the Match, house-buying, moving, starting school again, work, and residency.  And now it is that time of year again. Lent!

As I wrote in this post from a year ago, I was not very aware of Lent growing up. As a devout non-denominationalist, I thought Lent was a Catholic event and undesirable because it required deprivation. But now that we are Presbyterian, my eyes have been opened to the wonderful parts of Lent; it is a season of prayer and thoughtfulness and reflection.  Recently one of my friends mentioned that Lent is her husband’s favorite time of the year, and I can understand why.

But let’s back up. To kick Lent off in style, I went to a MFC Girls Night Out Mardi Gras party the night before. Chris was working an evening shift, and the location was literally around the corner, so even though I didn’t know the ladies well, I had no reason not to go! I wore all the Mardi Gras beads I owned and acquired a few more during the party.

There were a couple wonderful international ladies there who were quite surprised that Mardi Gras is an American “holiday.” That led to a long explanation about how, in most cases, it is really just an excuse to party, like St. Patrick’s Day. “But isn’t that Irish?” asked one of the ladies in surprise. Yes, I explained… and it too is a convenient excuse to party.

Mardi Gras was a rather sober party for me because I had given blood that day and, in case you don’t know, it’s a bad idea to drink alcohol the same day you give blood. However, I really enjoyed the two different kinds of king cake they had, and of course Girl Scout cookies were present. It was a great social time with some lovely Rochester ladies, and a good send-off to the Epiphany season.

So… what to do for Lent? I added this blog last year, so I decided to give up something this year. After lots of thought and reflection, I decided: CNN.

CNN has become my autopilot. When I’m bored, I’ll type in CNN, even though the articles haven’t changed from a few days before… even though all the news is at a 2nd grade reading level and skewed to the left… even though some of the proofreaders could use another day job. Sorry, CNN fans, you know it’s true. And after all, those things never kept me from going back to the website. Of course it’s good to be well-informed about the world, and helpful to know about pop-culture, but what I was doing wasn’t research. It was… addiction.

Instead of turning to CNN in a moment of boredom or frustration – instead of filling every waking minute with something to read – I need to be still. And that’s what I’ll be doing for the next 43 days.

***

I had to work on Ash Wednesday, but I came home to find my husband waiting up for me with something on his forehead.  On Thursday we went to handbells together and played some of the beautiful minor-key music of Lent. Today we had Bible study and discussed our Lenten observations.

Everybody observes Lent differently. Some ignore it; it’s not part of their spiritual culture, and that’s fine. Some people give up cheese or chocolate. (!!!!) And some add a Bible study or a devotional.

Whatever you add or give up or continue doing, I pray that this Lenten season will be a rich experience. I hope that it will draw you closer to God and that you will celebrate Easter, God’s ultimate gift to us, with your faith strengthened by your time in the desert.

Pisco Sour… and thoughts on ETOH

Alcohol. It’s an inescapable part of life whether you think Christians should drink or not. Personally, I don’t think people should drink before they are of age, nor is getting drunk a badge of honor. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow?… Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine” (Proverbs 23:29-30a). Our joy should come from our relationship with God, not the fleeting pleasures of alcohol .”Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

But alcohol in moderation has its benefits and is one of the gifts that God has given us to enjoy during our time under the sun. As Ecclesiastes 9:7 says “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”

Several months ago, our friends Mario and Meni came over and admired our wine bottle collection. “But you need a Chilean wine bottle,” they said. (This was natural, because they are from Chile.) “Wait, no – you need a PISCO bottle!”

“What is pisco?” I asked innocently.

As it turns out, pisco is the national spirit of Chile, like vodka is to Russia. Made from grapes, it tastes like… pure alcohol. Meni and Mario brought me a bottle back from Chile.

Is that not a fantastic bottle?! I love it because as an anthropologist and Jared Diamond fan, I have always loved Easter Island. So, armed with our Pisco bottle, limes, and powdered sugar, we visited our friends.

After Chris cut and juiced the limes, Meni separated an egg and blended Pisco, lime, sugar, and egg white together.

Egg white in a drink?! Yes, it is quite important to produce the proper espuma (foam).And here is the result of our labors:

Afterwards, we all sipped our drinks and talked about deep and important issues. We found out for example that using this particular brand of pisco in a Pisco Sour is like putting Johnny Walker Black Label in coffee. But faced with a shortage of “substandard” pisco, we had to use the good stuff. Meni is eating for two so she drank Sierra Mist instead. Certainly, we had a wonderful time with our friends.

The proper recipe may be found here. But since we had neither simple syrup nor bitters nor a cocktail shaker…

Recipe for Pisco Sours (our way)

3 parts pisco

1 part lime juice

1/4 part powdered sugar

1 spoonful egg white

Blend the ingredients with 2 icecubes, pour into glasses, and share with friends. ¡Salud!