Monday, November 27, 2017

Getting Ready for Advent 2017

I admit that spiritually I have been feeling somewhat unmoored ever since Dear Husband and I landed in Pittsburgh. The primary culprit was searching/waiting for a church home for an entire year. During those months of DH's under-employment (and my over-employment, in a sense), I missed seeing a regular church family every week, as I had had weekend shifts about 50% of the time, and the other 50% we were visiting at some church or other. We became friendly with a couple of congregations, and we made friends outside church, but it has been a relief to finally have a Sunday morning center. Even if I can't be there in person (still over-employed), somebody is thinking of me.

The secondary culprit is that I have been lax in my spiritual discipline, reading and praying almost never. This is wholly my fault: "I'm too busy." But Facebook gets a lot of airtime on my phone. I especially miss Tuesdays evenings with our Bible study, both the camaraderie of peers and the "homework" that gave me something to ponder in between worship services. "You can do anything for a short period of time" is my Christian family's Buddhist-like mantra, so I made a New Church Year's resolution to do an Advent devotion this year.

Good friend A.S. found me some likely culprits. For the whimsical at heart, there's the little plastic Wandering Wisemen (and their camel Hezekiah!), whose antics remind me of DH's creche stylings. For the artistic, I can recommend Jan Richardson's The Advent Door. Father Richard Rohr offers daily meditations through the Center for Action and Contemplation that seem to aim toward inner peace, but I was hoping for something less mystical and I signed up for the Office of Social Justice's thrice-weekly devotion on "Immanuel, incarnate," since that is one of my favorite themes in Scripture. But I was really hoping for something I read and pray on in the mornings before work, perhaps by the light of the Advent calendar candle my grandmother had sent us. I finally settled on Making Advent Great Again from Homebrewed Christianity, even though it starts a week before Advent, runs Monday-Friday, and comes at 3pm instead of in the morning. DH and I can do them together over dinner, instead of watching a comedy show. (It's great to laugh with your best friend, but I suspect it will be even better to talk with him...) I even gave a little more than the requested donation, because I value the time and talents of the authors HBC has put together.

This Advent I will listen to the voices that cry, "How long, Oh Lord?"

Editor's Note: Although the counter on the website ran out November 27, I received no email, so I surmise that someone discovered too late that Advent didn't start the Sunday after Thanksgiving after all, and I am going to have to wait another week to start my devotion.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Dickens of a Tale

After Thanksgiving 2017 in Cincinnati, Dear Husband and I stopped by Cambridge, OH. Its cute little Main Street was decorated for the holidays with what might possibly be the most small-town thing ever: a Dickens Victorian Village. Since 2006, individuals and businesses have sponsored the Eastern Ohio Art Guild to create the 180 mannequins dressed in mid-nineteenth-century period clothing and depicting 92 scenes: carolers, of course, but also a widow in black, street peddlers, shoppers, a coal sweep, a glass blower, school children, Florence Nightingale, Father Christmas, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, etc. You can walk up and down the street admiring the costumes and reading the placards. In the corresponding visitor center you meet the author himself in the flesh--er, plaster--can dress up in period clothing, and of course are invited to purchase ornaments and gifts. There's even a display showing how a styrofoam head becomes a hand-painted character's face. We wanted to visit the nearby Cambridge Glass Museum, or else we might have stuck around for the holiday parade and the lighting of the courthouse.

The older lady who took our photograph told Dear Husband he looked like a doctor, 
and I let her know that I was the physician in the family.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Seafood Bread Pudding

I am trying to be more economical about our food purchases as the end of the year approaches with a full freezer. Coming back from Thanksgiving away, I found we had part of a loaf of old bread in the fridge and decided to concoct a seafood bread pudding for dinner tonight. The FrDrDr blog has experimented with savory bread puddings before, once with ham, red peppers, and spinach with good success, and once with South African bobotie with rather less success. This time I decided to use the following basic recipe:

  • 2 cups whole-grain bread cut into cubes
  • 1 cup meat (in this case, 1 tin salmon)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk
I was thinking along the lines of a seafood pot pie, but with the cubed bread crust mixed throughout. A brief internet search confirmed my suspicion that cheese was not required for a basic custard, so I omitted it, since we'd eaten the last of what we had with lunch. This was an unfortunate choice, as it left the pudding without a creamy topping. The jarred red pepper we did not have I had intended to exchange for frozen peas that we did, but I didn't remember until the dish had already been in the oven five minutes, and anyway there wasn't a lot of room left. As for seasonings, I opted for several heads of garlic, (not enough) rosemary, and a splash of lemon juice.

A study in greens: One quarter of the "pie" with roasted asparagus (olive oil, salt, herbed salt) and a small side salad. Verdict: the meal was filling, but the seafood bread pudding left something to be desired. I may send Dear Husband to the co-op for some cheese to grate over the last two pieces before we microwave them for dinner on Tuesday with the rest of the asparagus and more salad.

Editor's Note: The dish was infinitely improved with some grated, melted Gruyere cheese on top. Next time I will not omit this important detail!

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!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween Pumpkin Contest

One of the best parts about working in a children's hospital is that people rarely take themselves as seriously as at adult hospitals. Case in point: the non-carving pumpkin-decorating contest (sharp knives are dangerous, you know). These spooky and silly specimens were among the dozens on display in the cafeteria. It was a popularity contest, but I never did hear who won. Probably everyone, just for participating. I certainly enjoyed looking at all the contributions.

You've got Edward Same-Day Surgery Hands on the left, 
and a bejeweled and befeathered "Proud as a peacock of peds residents" on the right.

There were a couple of variations on the candied apple theme, a Troll, and a mummy. 
The Pediatric Puffer Phish from the research administration has spines made
of Hershey's kisses and lips of Chinese fortune cookies!

Among the more artistic were this Wizard of Oz globe and a Man in the Moon (with witch).

And then there was the submission from Radiology: an x-ray of Gordy Orange's head. 
"Looks seedy" it says in the upper right; in the lower left, the diagnosis is rendered as "seeditis." 
I understand that condition is often cured by lobotomy.