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Friday, May 29, 2009

A Grape Week

Late Monday afternoon, I arrived home from my rained-out beach vacation to more rain. I guess it followed us home. All said and done, we got about five hours of sun, but spent most of the time in our condo watching it pour. It was truly a tropical depression.

Tuesday night I went to Kairos for the first time in almost two years. It's changed quite a bit since the last time I attended. The location moved to the new auditorium, outside the cafe. I've got to iron out some kinks, though. I sat in the floor seats, and I couldn't see the screens. And I also made the unfortunate mistake of sitting directly under one of the air conditioning vents, and froze the whole time. But the worship band was fabulous and Mike's always got a solid Word to impart.

After Kairos, I had my first mission trip meeting. I've mentioned this before with less detail, but I'm going to Los Angeles in July to spend a week on Skid Row, a four-block homeless district in the downtown area. I'll serve food to hungry people, pass out new clothes, facilitate Bible studies, and street reach. The street reach is the most exciting part for me, and perhaps the part I'm best. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this trip all week.

Wednesday evening, I went to my second Wine 101 class at Fido. I learned about the vineyards, the stages of grape growth, how climate affects the yield, the influence of soil on flavor, sugar versus acid in regards to ripeness, and much more. We sampled eight wines, and a couple of my favorites are:

Ameztoi Txakolina Hondurabi Zuri from Txacoli, Spain
To describe it, would be that it tastes like the seashore. Seriously. It was a tart, light, white spritzer wine, made from grapes that are grown in the sand by the Mediterranean Sea. The wine had a salty hint, and was unlike anything I'd ever tasted before. I loved it.

Alkoomi Late Harvest Riesling from Western Australia
It's surprising that I liked this wine, because I typically shy away from the sweeter, dessert variety. It was incredibly sugary because the grapes had been left on the vine to mature much longer than most. The wine reminded me of the Kiona Late Harvest Reisling I had during my senior Alpha Delta Pi wine tasting. Sweet memories.

Chocolate Box Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Australia
My favorite wines are reds, and of the Syrah/Shriaz variety. This will be one I will make a special trip to the store to buy. After a good aeration in a decanter, this wine smelled like rich tobacco, and tasted exactly like it should: chocolatey, with a hint of dark berry.

Warrenmang Shiraz from Pyrenees, Australia
I'm a firm believer that you can buy an excellent bottle for around $10 and that there's no need to shell out big bucks for vino. As a result, I rarely have an opportunity to taste expensive wine. This shiraz retails for $80, and while I still preferred the Chocolate Box (as well as many other $10 shiraz), it was interesting to sample an unprocessed wine. We all noticed there was a bit of sediment in the bottom of our glasses, and found out it's bits of grapeskin and oak barrel. The more expensive wines don't go through a filtering process as do many cheaper wines.

As much as I love learning about and trying new wines, I'll be honest...the food served by Fido is just as much a treat. Our tapas menu:

Organic Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Vidalias
Alsatian Cheese Tart with Applewood Bacon
Pan Fried Trout with Herbs, Feta and Local Green Onions
Kentucky Country Ham Roll-up with Local Organic Beet Greens drizzled in Bacon Vinaigrette
Vegan Chocolate Cookie Bar

I will be imitating the Cheese Tart at my next party, and I was proud of myself for correctly guessing the spice ingredients in the Vegan Chocolate Cookie Bar: cayenne, cinnamon and ginger.

Thursday evening, my Book Club gathered to discuss our latest read, Mansfield Park. Opinions about the book and Jane Austen were passionately split, and we had some great discussion to go along with Carmen's excellent food.

After Book Club, Katie surprised me with her old purse. That sounds funny, eh? Katie has this fabulous Fossil clutch-purse that I've envied for at least a year. I've been very vocal about my envy, too. Several weeks ago, she said she was shopping for a new purse, and that she'd give me the old purse when she found a replacement. I was shocked and elated, and so graciously thankful. Isn't it so cute?! Aren't you envious now?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away. Come again another vacay.

Admittedly, I've been slacking. Life has been rather status quo lately, and I haven't felt much worthy of blogging. On second thought, while I claim I haven't had much to blog about, I realize that's not exactly accurate...

I went back to the ENT this morning for another post-op visit. Doc is still pleased with my healing progress, but noticed some residual congestion sitting in my sinuses. So, with his handy dandy, stainless steel, pipe-shaped vacuum cleaner, he conducted a little housekeeping inside my head. It didn't feel good, but I'm breathing better than I have in three weeks.

Speaking of my sinuses, I got the bill for Doc's services during surgery: $8,483. When I opened the bill, I gasped in sticker-shock, and then had to walk outside for some fresh air. I proclaimed aloud, to my front yard, "they'll never get that out of me. They'll never see their money." Frantically, I called the doctor's office to inform them of my decision, but they were closed for the day. So, instead, I called Mom. She talked me down off the cliff, reminding me that I failed to notice insurance had not yet been filed. Panic over. Good thing, 'cause I've still got bills coming from Baptist Surgicare and the anesthesiologist.

In other news, I signed up for a Wine 101 class sponsored by Vinea and hosted at Fido. The course is six weeks of wine history, vineyard studies, winery tactics, an exploration of the fruits, the structure of the drink, and the art of varietal blending. In addition, Fido will complement each class with a "Food Focus," a mini-lesson on fusion, flavors, and cooking with the beverage. My first class is tomorrow evening, and I'm very excited. When I got the email from Vinea, I considered asking friends to join me, but then decided to sign up alone. Maybe I'll meet someone interesting. Tomorrow night's class is named "The Evolution of Wine":

5,000 years ago - Middle East (Persia, Egypt, etc)
2,000 years ago - Roman Empire, wine expansion across Europe
1,000 years ago - Middle Ages, monks reinventing wine
300 years ago - European colonisation, wine to the world
30 years ago - Euro-centric industry
Today - Global industry

Jouard Bourgogne Chardonnay (Burgundy)
Kenny Chesnaie Muscadet (dry style, Sauv Blanc like) (Loire)
Gunn Estate Sauvignon Blanc (NZ)
Six Foot Six Shiraz/Viognier (blackberry and white pepper) (AUS)
Tour du Moulin Bordeaux
Baqueano Cabernet Malbec (ARG)

Food Focus: Traditional heritage inspiring today's modern industry. The concept of fusion in food has the same foundations, evolution through traditional inspiration.

Chorizo Stuffed Medjool Dates with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Salad of Organic Local Lettuces, Radishes, Oranges, Beets, and Walnuts
White Bean Cassoulet with Grilled Duck, Fennel, and Organic Shitake Mushrooms
Cous Cous with Grilled Yogurt & Cumin Marinated Beef

My class ends at 9 p.m., and then I'll head home, nap for a couple of hours, and then load up the car. At midnight, I will pick-up Siebe, Aubree, Mandy, and a triple-shot of espresso for a long weekend at the Gulf. We're headed overnight to Seagrove Beach, Florida, nestled between Seaside and Watersound along the scenic stretch of 30A. Rain is forecasted through Memorial Day, but hopefully they'll be true beach storms, moving inland and away from the coastline. The sunny side? I'll get to spend some long-overdue time with the Diva.

I just got off the phone with dad a few minutes ago. The Cubmobile sold. Bittersweet. Looks like it's just you and me, Rick James.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jumped the Shark

The last five days have been the longest (and most painful) five days of my life. Well, except for maybe SBC last year. But that's neither here nor there.

Thursday, I arrived at Baptist Surgicare around 11 a.m. to get prepped for surgery. I was nervous. While I waited in my little curtained prep area for the anesthesiologist, I saw an old woman's ass out of the back of her hospital gown and another woman walk to the bathroom barefoot. Nastiness. Finally, they were ready to take me in. The anesthesia was injected, and the last thing I remember was commenting, "that feels good."

A few hours later, I woke up to the most pain I've felt in my entire life. On a normal morning, I don't wake easily. On a day that I've been injected with a sleep cocktail? I really don't wake easily. I can vaguely remember moaning in pain, and a mean recovery nurse telling me to quit because I was disturbing the other patients. I think she was just being ugly. My only thought: I want my Mommy. I've never been so relieved to see my Mom. I told her to get me out of there. I know I wasn't just being a baby---Mom noticed her lack of bedside manner as well. Baptist gave me a comment card in my post-op packet, and they will get a full report.

We finally got home, and I staggered to the bathroom, I realized I looked like Hitler. I had a "mustache dressing" taped to my upper lip. The blood had collected in a perfect vertical rectangle, a la Adolf. I had very little bruising--just a little on the bridge of my nose and underneath my eyes. The doc did a good job of keeping a steady hand without banging around in my head. Finally Thursday evening, I managed to collapse into the recliner, eat some peach Jello (compliments of Dad), and sleep fitfully for the next few hours.

Friday morning, the doorbell rang and I got some gorgeous flowers from Ben and Brittany. See?
Before the surgery, I hypothesized the pain would be the equivalent of major dental work. I'd be achy for a day, sore the next, and just fine by the next. And all the while, I'd have great drugs to get me through. Well, it didn't take me long to realize that a root canal is a day at the beach comparatively.

At around 3 p.m. on Friday, I took another round of Lortab. About an hour later, I began to feel sick. Very sick. And that adjective soon turned into a verb. I "verbed" until about 8 p.m. and finally there was nothing left in me to "noun." Evidently, one of the main side effects of Lortab is nausea and vomiting.

I thought I would sleep a lot during recovery, but because of the amazing amount of sinus pressure in my head, combined with the congestion in my nose, I slept for a total of about 12 hours those first three nights. At 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, I decided I was "over it." After getting sick about an hour earlier, I clearly wasn't poised for rest. So, I flipped on the tv, and watched all the commercials of the shiny, happy people smiling. As I whimpered, I wondered if I would ever feel normal again. I told myself, "remember to appreciate the times you feel good, Mary Anna." And I reflected for a bit on those that have chronic pain or cancer. I have a newfound respect for their tolerance of pain.

Monday, I had my post-operative visit and got the splints removed from my nose. It's amazing how much pressure disappeared from my noggin when those little potsticker-shaped pieces of plastic came out. I actually smiled for the first time in four days.

The doc was very pleased at the outcome of my surgery. He told my parents that I was already breathing better on the operating table as soon as they'd finished. And during my post-op, he was impressed with my healing, and told me I would see the results from my investment soon.

I'm still not feeling great, but at least I'm much better. I'm still dealing with some lightheadness, sinus pressure, congestion, numb teeth, sore nose, and nosebleeds. And I still don't have my sense of smell back yet. So, I won't return to work until Thursday. Since I was in too much pain to read anything the past week, that's all I plan to do tomorrow.

My parents took such good care of me throughout this experience, that I'm kind of lonely without them tonight. A girl is never too old for her Mommy and Daddy.

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