Note: Acute carbon monoxide poisoning = getting exposed to a high level of CO and passing out or vomiting or whatever quickly, and chronic poisoning indicates a smaller dose of exposure over a prolonged period of time (in our case, six months for sure, and potentially up to eleven more at our old place across the hall).
Also note: this is a very serious issue, and I spend a lot of time on the verge of tears. I’m not making light of anything that has happened, but rather, trying to use humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism so I don’t go even crazier than I already am.
1. While acute poisoning is totally “normal,” chronic CO poisoning is considered “controversial,” and you have to fight for treatment. That makes not one, but TWO controversial illnesses I’ve had in recent years! Remember: it doesn’t matter what they say. As long as they’re talking about you, that’s what counts. I’ve always loved controversy, even if it is only with my insurance provider right now.
2. My musical tastes have been opened up. While my inner feminist would never have been able to look past Eminem’s grossly offensive lyrics, said inner feminist is in a bit of an intellectual coma these days, and poisoned me has been spending months having a passionate musical relationship with Eminem. I love his voice, his intonations, his lack of caring what others think of him, and his catchy beats.
3. I’m a fucking survivor, yet again. Now, at the tender age of 34, I have survived everything from devirginizing teenage date rape to a disease many people never recover from to six months of freaking chemical POISONING. And those are just the things I’m willing to share publicly!
4. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers. If you thought of Michael Jackson when I said those words, you thought correctly. They are the treatment for CO poisoning (both acute and chronic), and starting Monday, I get to spend 1.5 hours a day, five days a week, for 30-50 sessions being cool like him. Besides him being dead, the King of Pop, and likely a child molester, Michael Jackson and I are pretty much the same. How cool is that?
5. I do not ever say, “Damn you auto-correct!” like everyone else does. As someone who only remembers her name these days because she has to pronounce it so often for people who can’t comprehend ARE-ee-en, my spelling has gone way downhill in recent months, and if it weren’t for auto-correct, I probably just wouldn’t be able to text or write at all. Then where would I be? Stuck actually TALKING to people? Right. Because I’m super talented at THAT, lately, too.
6. As soon as I don’t have a headache anymore, I am going to be SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO excited to not have a headache anymore. I’ve had a nonstop headache for four, maybe five months now. Are YOU excited to not have a headache? I didn’t think so. You just take it for granted. You probably couldn’t even care less that you don’t have a headache. But I, I am going to be REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY thrilled whenever the big giant who has been squeezing my head all year loosens his grip. And there is little more that one can ask for than to have things to be thrilled about.
7. After the Lyme, I was a very grateful person. I felt full of love and cherished every step I took without pain, every clear thought I had, every time I put on a small-size pair of pants and they fit. Now I will be infinitely more filled with gratitude when I get all that back… again.
8. I am learning how to cope with decisions you can’t reverse. Ever since we found out what happened in here, the issue of Bill dying has been more traumatic than ever. While I don’t tend to say it, the wish that we hadn’t moved across the hall into what seemed like a dream of a three bedroom apartment has been eating away at me. Ace mentions it regularly, and I tell her to not feel guilty, we didn’t know, we can’t change anything. Inside, though, I feel that same guilt, as well as the guilt of saying, “I’m sure everything is fine,” every time Ace said that something smelled funny in here. I can’t go back. I can’t say, “You know what, I can’t really smell it like you can, but we need to figure out how to get this fixed RIGHT NOW before anyone dies.” That is so hard to live with. And I have no choice but to figure out how to live with it, and to forgive myself because the best we can do in life is the best we can do. We were already months into being poisoned, my decision making skills had plummeted, and I never fathomed that we could be getting gassed on the daily in our own home.
9. My suddenly poor math skills are understandable now, so it shouldn’t be a big deal when I say that in my head, I totally had ten good reasons thought out. But I’m all out of them.
10. See number nine. This was the best I could do. I hope I figure out how to stop wishing we never moved here, I hope Ace recovers fully, I hope my headache stops and my joint pain lessens and I stop getting my period every six weeks with PMS for three of those weeks and every other symptom I can’t remember without referencing the paper I wrote them all on goes away too, and I hope that if anyone else is ever in this situation, they speak up, as loudly as they can, as soon as they can, and they DEMAND that no stone be left unturned until their home is returned to the 100% clean habitable environment that EVERYONE deserves.
I guess I failed at staying humorous, and got a little political there. Maybe my inner feminist will make it out of her coma eventually after all.
A couple of Thanksgivings ago I got hooked on my own adaptation of this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for cranberry bars. I used a crust that had coconut flour in addition to the nuts she uses, and saved some to sprinkle on top, which was an idea I got many years ago from America’s Test Kitchen, when they did an oatmeal-based recipe for peanut butter and jelly bars. I love using one mixture for two different textures and purposes in a dish. This past week my mom sent me a few new recipes from Elana’s site, including this one for Raspberry Streusel. While I liked the idea of her recipe, it made me long for those old peanut butter and jelly bars, so I jumped ship from her basic recommendations and came up with a new version of that old favorite of mine.
Generally when baking for myself, I use either all stevia or a combo of raw buckwheat honey and stevia, but I wanted to make something that Ace would enjoy too, and she is a firm believer in desserts involving actual sugar. Since I was already making this vegan and gluten-free, I decided to use coconut sugar as the sweetener, which is a good compromise because it has no bitter flavor like stevia, but is still moderately low-glycemic. You could easily sub out the sugar for stevia, xylitol, or erythritol, but since these still have fruit in them they wouldn’t be completely sugar-free.
Strawberry-Cherry Almond Butter Streusel Bars:
Filling: (any other fruits could be substituted in same proportions)
16 oz strawberries, cut into halves or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup dried (unsweetened) tart cherries
3 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup date soak water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Cook stovetop on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are limp, cherries are plump, and dates have mostly dissipated.
Top Crumble and Bottom Crust:
1 cup nuts- I used 3/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup walnuts
Pulse in food processor until finely ground
1 cup almond flour or meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (Earth Balance or butter could be used if that flavor is preferred)
2 tbls coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pulse until a crumble forms, then place 2/3 of mix into a greased 9×7 or 8×8 baking dish.
Press crumble down firmly with hands until a uniform layer is formed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Once crust has cooled slightly, gently spread 1/3 cup almond butter onto it. (You could, of course, use peanut butter instead- almond is just a healthier option.)
Add fruit filling to pan and spread to edges.
Drop remaining crumble on top, scattering about into randomly sized bits and pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then allow to cool before cutting.
These are the bars right out of the oven:
And this is how the layers look once cut:
If strawberries aren’t in season and you want to use apples, below is a similar cobbler/crumble/streusel I made with those, on its way into the oven. Lining them up makes for a very pretty presentation.
I tend to get complaints that I put a whole lot of different ingredients into the foods I make. The main reason I don’t consider this a problem, or much work, is of course bc I am the one who already has all these ingredients in my kitchen, on hand. Also, my way of cooking is to rapidly throw stuff together and hope it magically works (usually it does), and some people need more structure and time than that. For those people, I imagine my recipes look like a lot of effort, regardless of how many times I advise, “Just throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl! It’ll be great!”
This week my VitaMix broke, and as I await replacement parts in the mail, life is weird, bc it’s something I use more days than not. My mom sent me a blender that goes with the mixer I have, and it arrived yesterday. Excited to make a smoothie this morning, I tried to fit the blender onto the base only to discover that they are not a match. This blender top may go with SOME mixer out there, but it isn’t mine. I was already geared up for a smoothie and am out of sprouted buckwheat, my other go-to breakfast (a new batch is in the dehydrator right now). I glanced from the freezer to my mini-Cuisinart, and decided to have some quick morning fun. The end result- and by END, I mean about 60 seconds later!- was delectable.
Easy Breakfast Porridge That Takes Longer to Detail Than It Does to Make:
2/3 cup frozen berries, blended on high for 30 seconds in mini food processor
1 scoop protein powder
2 tbls hemp seeds
3 tbls milk of your choice
1 tbls almond butter
dash of stevia if desired
Stir all ingredients together and enjoy! Crunchy, sweet, filling, and gorgeous.
Note: you can buy berries in season, toss them on a baking sheet, and freeze them individually. They last very well that way. When buying berries, ALWAYS choose organic! They have more pesticides per acre than any other food.
While Spring is generally considered to be a time of rebirth, unfortunately around here there has been a lot of loss thus far. Last month we lost our beloved cat Bill, and just a few short weeks later my Grandma died. She was my last living grandparent, and lived a very full 96 years. I’ve no doubt that her healthy lifestyle kept her well for so long; she was a fan of morning smoothies, and did fruit fasts one day a week for many years. Her husband, my grandfather, cured his cancer in the 1980s at the Gerson Institute, and they were followers of Gerson techniques for health (which I am as well). One memory that was shared at my Grandma’s memorial was that her father had delivered produce for a living. Through the depression, when people regularly struggled to for their next meals, my Grandma’s family always had fresh vegetables.
After finding out about her death, Ace and I flew up to say goodbye with my family. My father let us choose belongings to help remember her, and in addition to a few pieces of jewelry I found some wonderful photos, as well as a telegram. It was the first telegram I had ever seen in person! My great aunt sent it after my Grandma gave birth to my aunt, in 1948. Such a treasure.
We will be driving this weekend to attend her burial in Tucson, AZ, where she’ll be laid to rest next to my Grandpa. While in Tucson, we’ll be able to visit my maternal grandparents graves as well.
This was the obituary than ran in the local newspaper recently:
Sue Resnick passed away on Monday, April 9, 2012, in Ashland, Ore. She was 96 and had a full life knowing love from the day she was born. Sue spent over 65 years as a resident of Tucson, Ariz., and will be laid to rest there next to her husband, Hyman.
Sue’s passion was caring for others, and she was a hospital volunteer in her 80s, and spent the last 15 years crocheting over 600 blankets which she donated to local hospitals and orphanages. This was recognized with an award from Bens Bells, which she proudly wore daily.
She is survived by two sons, David and Allan; a daughter, Sharine; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; three sisters, Rachel, Mary and Gloria; and one brother, Saul.
A family remembrance was held in Ashland, and will be repeated for her family and friends in Tucson.”
Goodbye, Grandma. You are an inspiration, and I am very sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye before you left. I wish I had expressed more how much I appreciate and admire your warmth, your progressive nature, your positive outlook, and your stamina. I love you.