Friday, November 10, 2017

What Residency Looks Like X: The Long View

Sometimes residency looks like the vista from the clinic workroom. The foreground is a construction site, in the middle ground stands one of the 5 hospitals at which I rotate, and in the background a long train disappears around a bend in the Monongahela River. I spent the morning here in class talking about 12-step meetings and the afternoon by myself completing modules about good clinical research practices. Now I'm headed across town to the children's hospital to moonlight for a few hours in the evening. I'll never get tired of this view.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

FrDrDr Cooks Breakfast

Like many of us I suppose, I'm a creature of habit. And I am in the habit of eating yogurt with fruit and granola in the mornings for breakfast while berries are in season, and oatmeal with raisins +/- walnuts during the winter and early spring. Sundays are for pancakes with peanut butter or Nutella. But I do like to cook and am not averse to changing things up when I have the time, so during a slow overnight shift in the ICU, I looked up new breakfast recipes. I found three that I thought would fit my budget, diet, and time constraints; here's the first one.

Barley and Compote
1. Thaw bag of frozen blueberries in fridge until you have a free morning to spend 45 minutes cooking breakfast.
2. Put pot on stove. 3. Discover you have a jar of pearl couscous in the cupboard, not pearl barley.
4. Make oatmeal for breakfast.
5. Purchase pearl barley.
6. Wait for another day with a late start.
7. Bring 1 cup of pearl barley, three cups of water, and some salt to a boil. Then simmer for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
8. Simmer 1 cup of thawed blueberries, one-and-a-half tablespoons of orange juice, and one teaspoon of honey for 10 minutes to thicken it. The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of orange zest and 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, but I did not have these available and so did not include them.
9. Spoon barley into bowl. Add some blueberry mixture. Forget to top with a quarter cup of milk and toasted almond slivers.
10. Eat.

The barley provides a not-unpleasant chewy texture like steel-cut oats. 1 cup of dry barley makes enough cooked barley for 4-6 servings. I made another bowl with pear and maple syrup, which was good. I tried again with milk, blueberries, and walnuts (no almonds in the house). Then I pretended the barley was oatmeal and used cinnamon, raisins, and brown sugar as toppings. I have a cup of dry barley left over after this experiment, and I will use it again to introduce some variety in my breakfast routine. Maybe I'll flip the script and try savory oatmeal for dinner one of these days!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Witches and Goblins and Ghosts, Oh my!

Again this year for Halloween, the Pediatric residents got together at someone's house for snacks, drinks, games, and pumpkin carving. The program donated gourds for the monthly Happy Hour, but Dear Husband and I had already picked ours from the patch, so we brought knives and spoons for the disemboweling. I used a stencil for the owl's face and then free-handed his feathers. DH free-handed his "classic" face, updated with a goatee. Other designs included a hipster pumpkin complete with thick-rimmed glasses and bushy mustache, and the face of one of our program directors, which turned out better than any of us thought it would. Unfortunately, we kept the jack-o-lanterns inside so they wouldn't get smashed overnight--but instead they succumbed to the same nasty green fungus as last year. So, no lighted jack-o-lanterns on the front porch for us tonight.

For home decorations we again went with cobwebs on the porch, a skeleton in the ivy, and a spider dangling from the lamppost. Our neighbors up the street go all out with orange lights on the porch, ghosts and witches, blinking "eye" lights in the bushes, which is my favorite touch.

As for self decorations, I rotated my five(!) pairs of Halloween earrings: spiders, a cat/witch, pumpkins, spider webs, and candy corn--the last three handmade by my friend J.R. The candy corn ones have been crowd pleasers. In Pediatrics it is de rigeur to show up on October 31 in some kind of costume, so I consulted the internet for a witty get-up and settled upon...

Those are Smarties on my pants. Get it?




I'm a "smarty pants." Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Throw an Autumnal Party, FrDrDr Style

1. Realize you didn't fire up your charcoal grill all summer AND that you have s'mores fixings left over from someone else's party.

2. Design a Facebook invitation with an appropriately autumnal graphic and invite some friends.

3. Instruct Dear Husband to purchase a gallon of​ local cider. Leave town for a long weekend.

4. Drive home in pouring rain, arriving just in time to start the coals.

5. Discover that the grill has not been cleaned after the last time you used it.

6. Learn that you do not, in fact, have a bag of charcoal in the house, and that the drug store across the street would rather sell you Christmas decorations.

7. Start heating cider on the stove.

8. Clean the grill while DH plays spooky music on the piano and you wait for someone to show up.

9. Friends arrive with fresh pumpkin bread and adult conversation.

10. Cook marshmallows in the microwave to order, topping with dark Hershey's chocolate and Honeymade Graham crackers. Enjoy the tastes of autumn!

The blog has previous enjoyed apples and pumpkin as autumnal delights!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Residency Looks Like IX: Multitasking

Sometimes residency looks like an unexpected morning off from clinic, so you read your book for book club while squeezing in some much-needed exercise. The pediatric residents will be discussing Exit West, Mohsin Hamid's semi-realistic contemporary novel about migration, in a couple of weeks.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Residency Looks Like VIII: Working at Home

Residents are now required to log their "duty hours" of clinical responsibilities, but we all spend hours of unclocked time each week answering emails, preparing presentations, and studying. Sometimes residency looks like completing a required module on acid-base disturbances from the comfort of my rocking chair while enjoying the sunny view of the green and gold gingko trees on our block.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Four Trees a Jolly-Good Fellow

In March Dear Husband and I visited Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's famous creek-tottering domicile, and were so impressed by the work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, its parent organization, that we joined on the spot. I have enjoyed the flower plantings cultivated around time by the WPC and started looking for a chance to plant trees for the environment and the aesthetics. Happily for so late in October, the weather was fair on a recent Saturday, when we joined 40-50 volunteers to plant 84 trees and 125 potted plants along the North Shore of Pittsburgh. Behind us in Heinz Field were the cheers of some fan activity, while across the Allegheny River protesters could be glimpsed carrying neon signs outside Station Square. There were lots of people out walking themselves, their dogs, and/or their children; running; biking; and generally enjoying the weekend. I think at one point a parade of people on a stroke walk came by.

After a breakfast of bagels and coffee, we watched a tree-planting demonstration. The Pittsburgh Redbud Project has planted so many of its eponymous namesake that the young trees we were planting had to be shipped in from New Jersey, as none of the nurseries around here had any that were big enough. And these were deceptively heavy for saplings, requiring 3-6 people to wrestle them into their new homes. DH and I then worked with three other Pittsburghers to plant three redbuds and a hornbeam tree: Galadriel (pictured above), Gandalf, Waldo, and Louie. I wanted to continue the Lord of the Rings theme and name Waldo "Tom Bombadil," since he was going to live in the middle of a bunch of bushes (see below), but I got outvoted. Louie we named for Louis Armstrong (a horn player, get it?).

Three hours later there was pizza and cookies. We needed showers after sweating in the 70+-degree weather (it had been less than 50 degrees when we left the house that morning) and discovered aching muscles we didn't even know we had. It was good, honest, manual labor that we will likely repeat at least once a year. That's so Pittsburgh.

If you liked this post, you might like these ones about Pittsburgh's labor history or the the Frick Art Museum.