(editor’s note: This is a long ramble, but at the end is an amazing cupcake recipe, so I promise you’ll be rewarded)
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a trying couple of months. I know some of you have been trying to get a hold of me and I apologize profusely for the lack of communication. On top of two of the most trying months I’ve ever had, I came back from a family trip to an email that had been hijacked by persons unknown. All of my contact lists and archives had been tampered with (read, none of my labels/address books are there, and many emails have been deleted) After dealing with the lovely help desk of google I was able to verify my identity and regain access to my account. Let me say right now that Google’s double authentication app is WORTH ITS DIGITAL WEIGHT IN BITCOIN and I have now locked up every account I can with it.
So, even though this blog is supposed to be fun and lighthearted with just a side of education, I’m going to get personal. I don’t have the wherewithal to explain this a hundred times, so if you’ll indulge a bit of venting by your’s truly I’ll explain where I’ve been.
It started it March when I received the news of the sudden death of my grandfather. This man was a pillar of his community, as well as father or step father to a grand total of 12 children (of which there are 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren only on our side) there was going to have to be a grand spectacle. Without going into the nitty gritty, the last half of March was a scramble. For my part, I was supposed to be the AV gal, running projectors, microphones, fix staticky speakers and coordinate the use of the giant hall we had to commandeer for the occasion. This was also used as an excuse for a family reunion of sorts, and I’ll let you argue the merits of that on your own.
This was all happening 3 hours away from me, which necessitated oh so much travel. The recoup time after the event was about a week, and we were finally settling in to deal with lofty issues like probate, wills, and the inevitable consequences of what happens when wills are outdated by decades. (spoiler alert: one greedy part of the family can drag out contests and inquiries for quite some time, at great expense and exasperation. I am so happy I come from humble beginnings and won’t ever have to deal with that special kind of Hell)
So, April comes trucking along, and we have just caught our collective breath when another bombshell hits: my grandmother (from the same side of the family) has been hiding her cancer diagnosis from everyone for upwards of five years, and now it’s progressed to a point that she can no longer function on her own. She has not treated it (I don’t count homeopathic remedies that have no basis in science) and now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, she still refuses any kind of medical intervention. She lives in Phoenix, so end of April I’m called upon to travel to her, spend a few weeks down there and see about transferring her person and her cat up here for possible treatment and most likely end of life care. Seattle has better climate, better doctors, and most of her family is here anyway. That was one of the longest drives I’ve ever taken (also, I recommend traveling with a cat. She was the best part of that craziness and it was great to have something warm and fluffy to snuggle) The entire stay in Phoenix felt like, to me, an act of futility (as nice as it was to reconnect with my grandmother and show her how I grew up, as we hadn’t spent very much time together since I was 19) I was useless in jumping on the bandwagon of snake oil, secret miracle cures, and “cancer busting” diets. My offers to help research these claims for any sort of scientific backing were slapped down with scary buzz words like “big Pharma” and “Medical death Care” and conspiracy theories of people silenced and grass roots research destroyed in the name of profits and keeping people sick. The one thing I felt like I was doing better than anyone was treating my grandmother with the dignity and respect she has always shown me. Her children (with all the best intents) were quick to infantilize her, talking about her treatment as if she wasn’t there, and allowing her to lay and wallow without a thought to muscle wasting or the concept of movement helping move along blood and oxygen that she needs. I was able to sneak her out for a smoothie and pedicure, which she really seemed to appreciate.
Two weeks later we were planning her eventual journey up here. She arrived at the end of May. As one of the only people in my family who is mobile, sets her own schedule, and has no children to take care of, I have been helping with her palliative care while she seeks out whatever treatment she feels comfortable with. It’s been a lesson in patience and love that I can engage with her on an adult level without blasting about the damage she is potentially doing by drinking glorified bleach water and slow cyanide poisoning to help cure her cancer. Granted, chemo isn’t a walk in the daisies, but at least it comes with a side order of doctor supervision.
So that’s been May. June is now half over, and I am just burned out. I developed a sinus infection on top of my worse-than-usual allergies, and I’m fairly certain that the stress of the past few months have done a little number on my immune system. The shiny cherry atop this glorious sundae is the new drama in my life: root canals. I’ve finally found a dentist, and like a good girl I went in for a cleaning and x-rays, as it’s been a few years. Over the next few months, as finances allow for it, I will be undergoing at least three, maybe four root canals (and their subsequent crowns will be needed) an extraction of one tooth, which will need a bone graft for a later implant, and if I’m extra special lucky after all of these surgeries are done, I’m hoping to be a candidate for Invisaline braces (the little clear fitted thingies that go over your teeth and slowly straighten them without wires or “real” braces)
I guess the tooth that needs extracting has been infected for who knows how long, but since it never caused me pain until recently, I didn’t get it looked at until it was so bad that I’m on a pretty good dose of antibiotics and looking at a lot of time in that dentist chair. Luckily, I found a very nice dentist not far from me, who takes cash payments on a discount, and is willing to work with me stretching out the treatments so I’m not laid up for months on end.
I feel like ending this now would be way too much of a bummer, so here’s some good stuff in my life recently.
Pride is coming!!!! The last sunday in June is the Pride Parade in Seattle, and as I do every year I’m walking in it. I’ll be supporting SWOP, which is again walking with the Center for Sex Positive Culture. I’m still always so grateful to the help the CSPC offers for sex-positive programs and clubs. If you are curious, the route is posted on the Seattle City website, but it follows 4th street and ends down on 1st/Denny area and spills into the Seattle Science Center. There will be floats, music, nearly-naked EVERYONE and it’s a grand old time. If you are in the crowd, feel free to run out and find me for a hug, or even walk with us if you are able. I am also happy to pose for pictures, time allowing.
I got a FitBit! I know I’ve spoken to some of you about all kinds of fitness trackers, so I went and got myself a FitBit Charge HR. The accompanying app is what sold it for me, it’s seamless and fun. With my colicky car looking like it’s on it’s last legs (wheels?) anyway, I’ve been walking a lot of places and figured it was time for some data collection! I’m averaging 10,000 steps and/or 3 miles a day, and I look forward to increasing those numbers. Walking is good for my hips and my knees, lets me enjoy the weather, and I won’t even deny it, it’ll make my butt look amazing(er) 🙂
I’m baking again! I recently made Earl Grey Tea cupcakes with bergamot icing, and they were fabulous. The following is a quick and dirty recipe, feel free to modify:
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter (softened)
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C milk
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add each egg in individually, blending well before adding the second. Combine dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, and add 1/2 the mix to the wet. Blend until combined, then add the milk and other half of the dry mix. Blend until just combined.
Pre-heat the oven to 350degrees. If making regular cupcakes, bake for 20ish minutes. If making mini cupcakes, bake for 12ish minutes.
For the icing:
1/2 C butter (softened)
1 1/2 C powdered sugar (estimated)
10-20 drops of FOOD GRADE bergamot oil
Blend butter and sugar together, adding the sugar a little at a time, until fluffy and peaking. Taste test now and again, and when it’s sweet enough stop adding sugar. Add in the bergamot oil a few drops at a time, blending and tasting throughout. I found that I needed 24 drops to get a nice but not overpowering flavor. This is entirely optional, but I added food coloring to make it a light purple.
If you’ve never piped frosting onto a cake before, you must try this. Put a ziploc back inside of a tall, wide mouthed glass or jar, and fill it full of frosting, squeezing out excess air. Squeeze the frosting down into one corner, and carefully snip of the TINIEST of corners, to create a small hole (you can always cut more, but you can’t ever cut less) Using even pressure, squeeze the line of icing out of the bag, and swirl it onto the cake in a pleasing tornado fashion. I’ll tell you now, you have to create a flat disc of frosting first before you build up your peaky-swirl, or else it’ll cave in.
Consider dusting each cake with a little bit of lemon zest or granulated sugar for an interesting look.
Thank you for sticking with me, and this is a really long way of me saying “I’m back, give me time to see about finding my emails, but if you haven’t heard back from me consider re-sending as someone decided to be mean to my inbox.”
Kiss, kiss lovers!