‘Bittersweet’ Isn’t Quite The Right Word, But It’s The Closest Thing I’ve Got

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We had a marvelous trip for a family wedding recently to New Mexico.  The whole thing went remarkably smoothly, the airline staff was lovely, and seeing all my aunts/uncles/cousins was a great deal of fun.

One of my cousins has a strange sort of resemblance to my brother.  I say “strange” because my cousin and my brother have/had completely different coloring (one’s a blue-eyed strawberry blonde, the other dark hair/eyes) and completely different heights.  However, there’s something, because I’m not the first to notice it.  My grandmother used to mix them up at times and multiple family members have remarked on the resemblance over the years.

At the reception, my cousin was dancing with my younger daughter, who was just loving it.  Watching him swing her around as she giggled loudly and yelled “more” was incredibly precious and absolutely wonderful.  He’s really good with kids as well as a lovely person and it was fantastic – I’m truly glad to have him (as well as my other cousins) in the family.  As the oldest by a decent margin, it’s great fun to watch as they grow, find careers, get married, and embark on their adult lives.

I also had this incredible stab of sadness.  Just for a split second, my brain played a trick and saw my brother there.  The memories that I usually keep firmly stowed came flying out so fast that I had to look away for a second, take that deep breath.

I know I’m not the only one with these moments – the ones that are so very wonderful that you’d never give them up, that you’re so grateful to have, but that also pierce you right to the core because they’re such powerful reminders of what you’ve lost.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, please head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

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The Mushroom Affair

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A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling into the driveway and noticed some new additions to the yard.

They’re big – the fully open ones were about 6-10 inches across. 

The mushrooms were so large, striking, and graceful that even one of our neighbors commented on them.  We all wondered if they were good to eat, but no one was going to try anything.  I’m no mushroom expert*, but my father does know mushrooms somewhat and he taught me all throughout childhood the cardinal rule of mushroom hunting: do not eat anything without being 100% certain of the identification.  I grew up in rural Virginia where wild mushrooms were fairly plentiful and remember clearly his warnings and stories about a single mushroom in a stew being able to poison an entire family.  Even if we weren’t planning to eat them, however, getting an ID was worthwhile.  The mushrooms were growing right next to the sidewalk, easy for picking or curious dogs to take a bite.

I called my dad and sent him photos.  We quickly eliminated the entire branch amanitas, responsible for some of the more deadly poisonous mushrooms as these lacked a volva at the bottom.

With some research and Dad’s guidance, I found an article on the false parasol, also known as the green-spored lepiota or chlorophyllum molybdites.  We both concurred that this was the most likely identification and there was a final test that could confirm it pretty strongly: a spore print that produced green/gray spores on paper.

Sure enough:

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The green-spored lepiota is poisonous, but not generally deadly.  It produces severe vomiting/diarrhea (that can cause dangerous dehydration) in humans and apparently can be fatal to dogs.  Living in a neighborhood full of small people and dogs, it was an easy call to carefully pull them up and dispose of them.  They’ve come back once already after a heavy rain and we’ll have to keep watching.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want to read more or participate, please head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert whatsoever in mushroom identification and can’t be responsible for identification of whether or not something is poisonous.  This 100% is not a way of determining whether something you choose to eat is safe – make sure you know your stuff well and consult an expert in real life because correct ID can literally mean the difference between life and death.  

Lost And Found

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I grew up traveling to Mexico City regularly as a child and teenager.  My paternal grandparents lived there (my grandmother was Mexican) and so every few years we’d go down and see them.  I played with the decorated stuffed burros and dolls we’d buy in the markets, would marvel at the painting of my great-great-great grandmother Hippolita (I was absolutely entranced by the lacy dress she wore in the portrait), eat cajeta, and we would get pastries at El Globo.

I have an enormous sweet tooth as well as a love for all things fancy, so the pastries were always a huge highlight.  I’d never seen anything like them – the eclairs, the tiramisu glasses, the pan dulce – all exotic to me and beautifully presented.  We’d walk into El Globo, grab the metal tray and tongs, and start selecting treats for both after the evening meal and breakfast in the morning.

While there are plenty of excellent panaderias these days in the US where I can and have found most of the more traditional Mexican sweets like conchas or orejas, one sweet that I’d only ever seen at the panaderias in Mexico City escaped me: the garibaldi.

Garibaldi are essentially muffin-sized pound cakes glazed in jam (traditionally apricot, though there are raspberry versions) and covered in small, white, nonpareils.  They’re well known as a breakfast treat, though I remember eating them after meals as well.  El Globo is credited with having originated the recipe, so they’re a uniquely Mexican creation.

I’d mostly relegated garibaldi to memory until I happened to find a recipe by an American married to a Mexico City native who managed to take a family pound cake recipe and made an incredibly good copy of El Globo’s garibaldi.  These even got the seal of authenticity and approval from my father, who knows these pastries well.

I’m pretty excited.  It’s amazing to go to the kitchen and make this taste of childhood I thought I’d lost.

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The garibaldi I made

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more or to participate yourself, head on over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

I Had Forgotten The Rules of RE Office Phone Tag…

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Watched Pot Theorem: The more you stare at your cell phone after leaving a message, the less likely it is to ring.

Murphy’s Law of Returned Calls: The phone will ring once you have stopped watching/procrastinating and gotten into a project where you can’t reach the phone or a pen easily.

Public Places Corollary: The more public the space you are in when the return call comes, the more likely you are to have to discuss your menstrual cycle or reproductive organs in detail.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

Small Steps Forward

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I’ve finally gotten back into a routine of going to the gym in the mornings several times a week.  For awhile I was using our small rebounder trampoline at home, but it just didn’t really feel like I was progressing.  I’m starting to realize that leaving the house – whether going to the gym or running outside – seems to be an integral part of what makes it relaxing to me and worth it.

As I’ve been running on the treadmill, I kept noticing a class going on in the adjacent room.  I checked into it a little and it’s a whole-body interval training with many different stations that was listed on the schedule as “advanced”.  Well, I’m not advanced, I thought and shrugged it off.  I kept thinking, however, that it met at such a good time and I really do want something other than just running.

Today I asked one of the gym workers about the class.  She reassured me that they are happy to work with beginners, I’d just modify some exercises or do shorter intervals.  I was excited until, of course, I started thinking about September (or, more probably right now, early October).  It’s just three months or so until I’d probably have to quit.

I’m tired of thinking this way.  Fertility/infertility/subfertility concerns have been a part of my life for around seven years now.  It’s always a matter of what if, the next cycle, yes or no.  It’s exhausting.  Even when I know this is coming toward the end.

I think I’m going to do it.  A few months is a few months and I could use the motivation/change up in my routine.  If things work out with the cycle, I can always modify and scale back.  If they don’t…well, then I have a new routine and hopefully some new muscles.

If you want more Microblog Mondays posts, check out Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

Clear

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I went for my saline infusion sonogram (SIS) today.  Walking into the building, I could feel my anxiety almost immediately ratchet up.  I mean, I think my RE’s great, the staff at the office has always been fantastic, but it’s the site of more than a few Really Bad Days so my body/mind seems to have a fairly automatic response to walking through the doors.

I checked in, waited, and was ushered through to the ultrasound room.  Changed.  Dr. E came in and, seeing my reader, asked what I was reading.  “Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owen’s book Medical Bondage, about James Marion Sims, the origins of American gynecology, and the way the use of Black enslaved women and Irish immigrant women as test subjects has influenced pervasive myths about pain tolerance and such that are still coming up today,” I responded*.

Never let it be said that I am not honest (and exceptionally bad at making small talk).

Dr. E thankfully engaged the topic and so that’s a good bit of what we talked about while I had my SIS.

As far as results, things look fine.  My ovaries are mildly polycystic (the usual) and my uterus is clear.  Now I get to wait for September.

*It’s an excellent book so far – if a hard read – that absolutely deserves a serious discussion of its own.  I read about it on NPR’s Code Switch Book Club and picked it up because anything that talks about medical biases regarding race and sex, especially ones that effect perception of pain and treatment, is an extremely relevant read professionally and personally.  

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays – if you want to read more, head on over to Stirrup Queens.  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

“And”

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Content note: pregnancy, children, loss – none recent

This weekend, we tore up some of the scrotty grass that’s never grown well next to our patio in the back and put in hostas.  I pulled out the dead hydrangeas from the back bed and planted shade loving coral bells.  We went to visit college friends and as we sat, I had one of those moments that might be called transcendent or even holy, where for just a second, everything was right with the world and good.

The new life, both literal and figurative, was all around us.

I came home, checked my calendar, and realized that it’s not all that much longer until my saline infusion sonogram for this final transfer.  And before I knew it, this morning I was ugly crying, the one that isn’t a couple of crystal tears decorously sliding down the cheeks, but the red-faced, sobbing, snotty Kleenex filled kind.

That’s life, though, isn’t it?  At least after a certain point?  Where the most extraordinary exists among the prosaic of every day and the deepest, darkest muck that can be dragged up?

I am so incredibly, amazingly thankful for my girls.  And I am so terribly sad that I never got to meet the three that died and were miscarried early, long before they truly lived.

I honor the truly ordinary, uneventful pregnancy I got the immense privilege of experiencing.  And I grieve the long weeks of waiting, of fertility treatments and IVF, of hope mingled with sadness, of ultimately having three others over far too early.

I get the loveliness of watching my older daughter survive and now thrive.  And I mourn that she lost the last weeks in pregnancy that she should have had, that she went through so many painful procedures, that we were separated by plexiglass walls and nights apart at the beginning of her life.

I can’t even express how much gratitude I have to see the girls treasuring each other and also fighting – as siblings do.  And I can feel my heart breaking again and again and again that my sibling is gone, that a person I held as he came into the world left it long before me in such a terrible, senseless way.

I hold my dear ones close, their precious selves tangible and messy and wonderful and alive.  And I cry remembering the unnatural coldness of my brother’s still face, the benediction of viewing him in death, the slight smear of blood that transferred to my hand when I put it on his cheek.

I am fiercely glad for my marriage and the love my husband and I get to share every day.  And I mourn the things we have both broken over the years, some of which are still being repaired.

I am grateful for the chance to complete this final cycle, to close out this particular road, to know that no matter the outcome, I am truly fortunate and ready to live this good life I have.  And I am anxious, struggling with the months of waiting in the lead-up, dreading some painful procedures, and worried about the potential for more hurt.

For the last several months, I’ve been veering back and forth between the extremes, saying how I’m fine (true) and FINE – F*cked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Egotistical * – (also true).   It doesn’t sum up neatly, the pros and cons on the paper don’t cancel each other out.  They’re all true, all a part of what poet Mary Oliver termed “your one wild and precious life”.

I am, without a doubt, in today’s parlance, a hot mess these days.

And…it’s an absolutely beautiful mess as well.

*credit to Louise Penny

This post is a part of Microblog Monday.  If you want to read more or add your own, please head over to Stirrup Queens’ blog.  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.