Monday, May 11, 2009

Independence Challenge - Year 2 - Week 2

I had a great Mother's Day. I picked up my Mom on Sunday morning and took her to my church for Flower Communion, which she enjoyed. Then we went home, where DD12 had made us brunch waffles from baking mix I made in advance, breakfast sausages from the market, orange juice, tea, a cut-up pineapple, giant strawberries for garnish, and a pan of brownies. Then we watched a movie together, the funny-but-forgettable Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler.

Saturday, DH and I went out and saw Star Trek, followed by late lunch in a new Mexican place that we liked a lot, the Plaza Azteca near the Berkshire Mall. I had carnitas, and the roast pork was to-die-for.

DD12 gifted me a recipe book. She took down all the frequently-used recipes I had printed out and taped up on the cupboard doors, punched holes in them, and put them in a binder for me. She gave my mother some marigold starts they planted at school. DH gave me a bag of very good Australian licorice he got in Philadelphia at a stand in the Reading Terminal Market. We all gave my mom dark chocolate in various forms, her favorite.

DD16 sent me a Mother's Day greeting via Facebook, which included a coupon for 4 hours of yard work, or 3 hours of Attic Cleaning. Poor girl, I will be taking her up on that pretty quickly.

I feel deprived of gardening. My backyard is a mess. I've basically ignored it completely since last fall, not even doing a complete fall clean-up. But Mother Nature doesn't depend on human intervention, happily, and the perennials are coming up nicely. If I would just cut the grass, you should even see them. And I will do that, as soon as I remember to pick up the grass shears from the sharpening place - where I left them last fall. ~sigh~

Harvested: Nothing yet. The alley is full of shiny new plantain I could harvest for medical use, but I am restraining myself. Focus, focus, focus.

Preserved: Nothing. I made a big batch of whole wheat baking mix, but it got used pretty quickly.

Reduced Waste: I bought a watermelon - what was I thinking?! It's too early. They came from Texas. Not sweet at all. Composted most of it. That will teach me to ignore my "in season" rule.

I am trying to save my favorite 4-quart saucepan. I fell asleep a couple weeks ago, while applesauce was cooking on low. I woke up in my chair a few hours later, to the smell of burnt sugar. No smoke, but the blackened apples were carbonized to the pan bottom. I managed to chisel it out with a putty knife and a screwdriver, but there is still black stuff burned on after scouring with a Brillo pad and trying oven cleaner. I still want to save it, but I don't know what else to try. Anyone have suggestions?

There is massive paper and cardboard recycling. Sorting is going a little faster at Mom's, where generates lots of paper trash and empty boxes. We are also sorting here at home as we pack to move this summer. I put out 10 bags of paper recycling last week. I know I can shred and compost it, but I am not starting that until we get moved and I can set up a workable shredding station.

Prepped and Stored: The packing is getting us more organized and de-cluttered, which I think of as preparation. It's easier to evaluate what you really need to keep when you know you will have to move it to a storage unit, and then later move it again.

Community Food Systems: A family from church had a house fire, and the mom of the family recently had hand surgery. We are trying to pitch in with gluten-free meals for a family of three. I am making 2 quarts of curried split pea soup with ham. Interesting how many of my recipes involve gluten, when I start looking at them. I think I will ask if they like yogurt, too - I could make them some of that.

Eaten: We continue to eat from the freezer and pantry. I do buy dairy, cheese, bread, and produce each week, plus odds and ends like pretzels and crackers. That turkey last week made a lot of meals, but we are now sick of turkey. Turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey and gravy with mashed, etc.

Last week, I took Mom to the doctor, to talk about her various issues. It was revealing. She had forgotten the things the doctor said last time, and lost two prescriptions. He also had the report from the pyschiatrist visit. She is going to have some testing to see if we can narrow down the source of her memory loss and confusion. I take her to get a lot of bloodwork today, and an MRI on Wednesday.

I feel a little bit of hope. If it is not Alzheimer's, there is a chance that she will continue on in her current pleasantly-vague condition, with the capacity to enjoy things, instead of descending more quickly into the less pleasant stages of dementia. Maybe there is time left for some happiness, after we clean up her house. We are going to start a new medication this coming week, Luvox, to see if it helps her anxiety and compulsive behaviors. Wish us luck.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Starting Year 2 of Independence Days Challange

I've been absent as a blogger for months. I am very occupied with the tasks of packing my house, helping my mother sort through her house, and coordinating our busy family shedule around our one-car lifestyle. For a few weeks, I was barely even cooking.

But I really want to keep feeling like I am still working toward Independence, even if I am mostly overwhelmed by current events in the family. I need to hang on to some little piece of sanity. The 10-11 months of solid IDC posting I did last year made me feel like I was really making progress.

So, inspired by Sharon's announcement of IDC Year 2, I am going to try to post an IDC update every Monday, even if it is piteously meager. Even if I don't have any photos. Here we go:

Planted: Nothing. Since we will probably leave this house with a month or 2, I didn't plant anything. I will clean up this yard, and move all my stuff to my mom's house, where we have yet to establish a veggie bed with real soil. I may be able to plant a fall/winter garden there. But the work on her house gets priority over everything else, so maybe no garden at all this year. At least perennial flowers are coming up on their own.

Harvested: Nothing. I do have a planter full of perennial garlic chives. For this growing season, I think I will use this "harvest" category to talk about locally-produced food.

Preserved: Nothing.

Reduced Waste: I get a negative score this week. I fridge disaster forced me throw away a lot of food. A thawing package of beef shin accidentally got hidden behind things on the top shelf, and leaked blood all over the produce. I had to throw it away and clean the fridge.

Prepped and Stored: We are getting more prepped in the sense that we are packing up labeled boxes of our possessions. I am getting less prepped because I am not buying new bulk, so that we don't have to move it this summer. I will re-stock after the move. We should have more pantry space at Mom's.

Community Food Systems: I still shop at the Farmer's Market and the local grocery that I have found to be most-local (Weis). I got eggs from a friend from chruch - they have more eggs than they can eat.

Eaten: We are definately eating out of storage. I am trying to thaw and eat everything from the freezer before we move. It saves me from having to do much grocery shopping right now. We had started eating too much convenience food when I started being at Mom's house a lot, but I spent this weekend stocking the fridge. I cooked up burrito filling, made curried split pea soup, thawed a chuck of ham we used in pasta, and roasted a turkey to make lots of leftovers. I just need to make yogurt tonight, and re-stock our veggies.