My last post talked about our upcoming cruise and COVID-19. Let’s continue that thread. To be truthful I am more than a bit apprehensive about this upcoming cruise. My last vacation didn’t end very well…
We all know that the novel coronavirus does not come from Corona beer. Nothing comes from Corona, no flavor, no buzz, nada. You get nothing from this so called “beer”. Although I have heard that it makes a decent rinse after washing your hair. I have not tested this. Yet – this.
5W Public Relations said that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” because of the outbreak, and another 14% said they wouldn’t order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses polling from 737 beer drinkers in the United States.
I do have to question the validity of any alcohol related poll that only has 737 respondents. With that small a sample size I’m thinking some guy just sat in bar somewhere asking random strangers questions. If this “survey” took place in a more urban area, the percentage of those avoiding Corona would be very high. I know the majority of my friends would fall into the “under no circumstances” category. Not due to anything with the virus, my friends tend to enjoy a better quality of beer.
Unsurprisingly, our idiot-in-chief claimed several days ago that (paraphrasing here) “We have stopped it”. Of course, no proof was given, mainly because it was an outright lie. The USA doesn’t even have a plan for any epidemic/pandemic.Why? Because our great leader fired the pandemic response squad in 2018.
So just who is working the case? Why none other than our science fearing vice president. This guy, Pence, when governor of Indiana did nothing during an HIV outbreak back around 2015. See this report.
The brilliant Canadian political cartoonist, Michael de Adder, drew it perfectly.
Now I hear that there is a run on toilet paper? Why? This is a respiratory illness, not a gastrointestinal virus. Facial tissues I can understand. In fact, when we went grocery shopping this past weekend the store had a sign that due to heavy demand tissues were limited to two per person, but the shelves were stocked. No rush there. What can help you is soap and water to wash your damn hands. If you’re not near a place to wash up, use an alcohol based (60% or higher alcohol content) hand sanitizer. Face masks will not help much – unless you are positive for the virus. Then you should wear a mask to KEEP OTHER PEOPLE SAFE!
Hopefully you won’t have to go to extremes to find your hand sanitizer…
So, how likely are you to catch this virus? As I alluded to, washing your hands is the best advice that can be done just about any time. This has long been recognized as the first and best line of defense against a virus of this type. With any luck you’ll be like this guy.
Why should you trust me? I may be a retired paramedic, but –
I can guarantee that if you do get this nasty bug, you’ll need to see a doctor, and get a prescription. But not one for cowbell, that won’t help at all.
Seems that the stock market is having issues as well. Not unexpected, but still troublesome. Luckily, I don’t have all that much left in my old 401(k) nor my IRA. I may just pull it all out anyway. This tweet is (sadly) fake. Not that he shouldn’t be fired from a cannon just on principal.
Now here’s a video about the end of a nuclear war, which is alomst the same as a global pandemic. And no, we are not really at the point of a global pandemic. Yet. I really hope it doesn’t get that far, but I am rather concerned it will.
Here I am just two months or so removed from a wonderful ten-day ICU stay (you can read about that here) and what are we doing? Taking Son-The-Younger and his two girls on a short cruise! Just what the hell am I thinking??? COVID-19 is running rampant across the globe and I’m just waltzing right in. Plus, we now have a confirmed case of the virus locally.
It may seem that the virus is targeting cruise ships. But I think it’s more of a “captive audience” type of thing. Let’s face it, you have thousands of folks miles from land all stuck together like sardines. It’s a petri dish blissfully floating out on the water.
Now, this is a short three-day cruise. Just out to the Bahamas and back. Nothing spectacular. Since it is a short cruise I don’t think it will attract the “jet set” travelers. I just don’t see anyone that’s been in any of the hot zones around the world joining us on this little adventure. My main concern is the crew. This will be Wifey and my fifth cruise (the first for the kids) and we love the international flavor of the crews. But that does pose a greater risk of having someone that has been in a hot zone being on board.
We must trust that the cruise line (Royal Caribbean in this case) will live up to their promises of greater sanitation for most areas on the ship, more hand sanitation stations, and better screening of crew and passengers prior to boarding. They have also stated that the fees for medical screening/care of anyone complaining of most “flu like” symptoms will be waived for the duration of the trip. They appear to have an expanded quarantine area ready, just in case.
Naturally the CDC has called for the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems (and I fit at least one of those categories, maybe both depending on who you ask), to avoid travel “especially cruises”. Yeah… right. I never was one to listen to authority. There is a chance that I could be denied boarding. If I have a fever (which I haven’t since that hospital stay), or if my constant coughing is deemed to be a problem.
We are leaving on that most auspicious of days, Friday the 13th! So what could go wrong? It is spring break for the girls as well.
They say the virus can be killed with a greater than 60% alcohol solution. I’m sure one of the bars on board will have something that’s 120 proof or higher. Plus, we can use this as a warm-up for “Amateur Drinking Day #2” St. Patrick’s Day.
So, watch this space. Wifey may be handling a post soon while I’m in quarantine, or worse. I’m confident that all will turn out well and I will have pictures to post next week. Now please excuse me, as I must prepare for this trip. By which I mean the single malt is calling my name!
This is the long awaited follow up to A Very Delayed Post. While not required reading for this post, it’s a much more upbeat article, so I suggest you read it.
As I mentioned in the Delayed Post, the health issues started early on the morning of Saturday, 28 January. I woke up about 0300 that day with fever and chills. Being 500 miles from home, and in the middle of the Campbell Christmas Vacation, I elected to self treat. I started the Tylenol and lots of water, which will usually get me through most minor colds and such. But I have never had a virus like this.
By the time we returned home on New Year’s Eve, I was down right miserable. I had next to no appetite, no energy (which was good as I had no desire to do anything other than crawl into bed), a racking cough, and was still plagued with fever and chills.
I sat in a tepid shower for almost 45 minutes in an attempt to break what ever bug that was beating me down so badly. Needless to say, it didn’t help. On New Year’s Day I told Wifey to take me to an Urgent Care. She (being the smart one in this relationship), ignored my request and took me straight to the ER. While skipping Urgent Care and going straight to the ER probably didn’t change the outcome any, it at least skipped a stop and got me the care I desperately needed just that much quicker. Plus one less co-pay!
The ER nurse was our friend. She took one look at me and my basic vital signs and skipped past the basic triage area and right into a treatment room. The only stop was to have an EKG done. Once again I was in A-Fib with RVR (Atrial Fibrillation with a Rapid Ventricular Response). This is not a new thing for me, but this time I had absolutely no symptoms! I could not tell that my heart rate was 188, and I had no chest pain. All I knew was that I couldn’t breathe.
The usual IVs were started, swabs taken to see if I had any of the flu strains, or other contagious processes going on. I do remember another nurse telling me I was positive for Influenza Virus, and she gave me Tamiflu. This was roughly 1630 (4:30 PM). I had already been in the ER for about 8 hours by this time. I remember friends and family coming into the ER room, in full gowns, masks, and gloves. All the time I was thinking this is just a bad cold folks. Admit me, give me antibiotics for a couple of days and everything will be alright. Wow was I wrong.
Sometime in the afternoon of the 1st, I suddenly could not breathe. I was in acute respiratory distress. My lungs felt as big as the room, yet I couldn’t get any air in. As a long time COPD/Chronic Asthma patient, I was trying every breathing technique I could think of. I’m sure I didn’t remember all those tips, I was going into full panic mode. But nothing was helping.
It was vitally clear to my amazing medical team that the A-Fib was a secondary issue now. If I couldn’t get air in, it didn’t matter if my heart was in a normal rhythm or not.
I guess it was around this same time that my test results starting coming in. Not only was that Flu virus attacking me, I also had a bacterial streptococcus infection. Both of these combined to not only basically take out my left lung with a pneumonia, I was going septic. My blood was so infected that my body was starting to shut down. The real last thing I remember the ER doctor telling me was “You’re a lot sicker than you think you are.” Needless to say that scared me.
I’m not sure who brought up that I should be intubated. But that person saved my life. I do remember giving my permission for the procedure. Whomever I was speaking to at this point in time asked if I understood what they were suggesting. Being a retired Army Medic (a paramedic in the civilian world), I understood exactly what the procedure entailed. I willingly let them sedate me, put the tube down my throat, and hook me to a ventilator. While I understood that having a machine breathe for me would neither speed up nor lengthen the healing process, I knew taking my now full panic mode brain out the equation would only be a good thing. When I mentioned that to whoever it was, they smiled and said, “OK! Let’s do this.”
As all the equipment was being brought into the room, two things went through my head, and this will tell you just how separated my brain was becoming from reality.
First, that my paternal grandfather, Herbert J. Campbell died of exactly what I was going through; Pneumonia, secondary to the flu. He passed away February 1919. Almost 100 years before me sitting in the ER with the same crap coursing through my body. Second, I was looking at all the cool tech they were bringing in, and was slightly upset that I wouldn’t get to see this cool tech in action. And as much of a history buff, and wanna-be genealogist as am I, following in my grandfather’s footsteps was, surprisingly, not real high on my bucket list.
It was late on the afternoon of the 4th that the decision to extubate me was made. I’m unsure who was consulted, if anyone other than the medical team. They have brought me just up enough to ask me questions (wifey said I was trying to talk to her in “morse code” at times) or not. In any case the tube was coming out.
As mentally frightening as everything up to now had been, this was physically frightening. The first real conscious thought I had was waking up and choking due to the tube still being down my throat.
They had to wait for all the meds to wear off and to make sure my lungs would start on their own before removing the tube. So I’m now fully awake trying to breathe on my own, with a tube in my windpipe. I had a suction tube in one hand while trying to pull gently on the tube to make room to suction my mouth and throat. I was gagging and didn’t want to aspirate anything and cause another pneumonia. Of course the med team was right there and took the tube out before anything bad happened.
The next 6 days are very boring. I never left the ICU, not because I needed the extra care or attention, there were just no available beds. The only beds available in the entire hospital were in the ICU. I didn’t mind it at all. I had great care. Everyone from the housekeepers emptying the trash and mopping floor every day, to the patient care techs would took care of all my basic needs before I was even allowed out my bed, to the totally amazing respiratory techs, to the lab folks (but was it really necessary to do the blood draws at 0530??), to finally the nurses. The last few days of my stay, when I should have been on a regular medical floor, I would have Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists come in to not only do their jobs, but sit and just talk, and some stayed a little longer to listen the music I had playing on my tablet every day.
Friends, I have never been so scared in my life.
My main concern now, other than just getting back to full strength, is learning to live as a Warfarin patient. I have to watch how much Vitamin K is in my diet. It’s not that I can’t have these foods, I just have to find a balance between meds and food. Nothing new for me.
I do hope this hasn’t bored you. It’s a bit therapeutic for me to put it all down. I’m sure my dates and times are off, days blend together in events like this.
I have to apologize to ya’ll. We took our Campbell Christmas Vacation as planned, leaving here on December 26th. While the vacation was a joy, I became very ill, and was hospitalized on our return. That will be the subject of my next post, as I am still sorting out details of the whole vacation/illness. So this will be a quick post with some pictures of the vacation aspect.
The plan was to leave here on the morning of the 26th, and we actually made it work. We piled Wifey, Son-The-Younger, both granddaughters and myself into the car and headed north. Our destination was Maggie Valley, NC. We rented a larger cabin than the one Wifey and I rented two years ago for a five night stay. The weather was good, and for once, traffic not an issue at all. We all got our suitcases unpacked and stuff put away in our rooms and away we went!
Friday was Son-The-Younger’s birthday and we promised him we would take him the Sierra Nevada Brewery just outside of Asheville, NC. Wifey and I visited the brewery and took the tour two years ago. Son-The-Younger was looking forward to this trip. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway over the mountains to Asheville. We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks and the girls took many pictures.
We arrived at the Brewery just in time for our scheduled tour (you have to make reservations), and Wifey and the girls went to “The Back Porch”, an open area that has food, a garden and even – get this – beer! Although there wasn’t any live music that day, they do have an outdoor stage, as well as an indoor area in case of bad weather. And is very dog friendly.
We drove home and had a great BBQ dinner, which was another “requirement” for this trip.
Saturday was a planned “quiet” day. In the morning we took the girls to do some “gem” mining. Then Son-The-Younger and I visited Elevated Mountain Distillery, while Wifey took the girls to a little store we enjoyed on our last visit.
It was a good thing that we didn’t have much planned for Saturday. I woke up about 3AM with fever and chills. So after the short morning excursions, I went back to bed for the afternoon. I think I sweated through my clothes twice that afternoon. The rest of the family went tubing (man made snow, sadly) while I basically sweated every ounce of liquid out of my body. Son-The-Younger tried to get a fire going in one of the outside fire pits, but it was rained out.
I awoke Sunday morning feeling better, but not great. I knew I was still fighting whatever bug I had picked up, I just didn’t realize how badly I was losing that fight.
But not giving up, we again went over the mountains, but this time from Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg, TN. We went right through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and we hadn’t even gone half a mile into the park when we came across a herd of Elk. The girls were so happy.
We made it to Gatlinburg with no issues. We even found a Mexican restaurant that Wifey and I had tried almost 20 years ago! And it was right next to the Ripley’s Aquarium which was our first scheduled stop (after tacos of course). Then the real fun began.
The plan all along was to get me a wheelchair while at the aquarium. My legs were still heavily impacted by the back injury, so I figured I would not be able to walk the entire distance required. Turns out I couldn’t even make it into the aquarium!
Going up the steps to get to the wheelchair I passed out. I was so lucky that there was a guy right behind me who saw it coming, probably before I realized what was happening. He was a strong enough guy that he grabbed me and set me down so I only ended up with was a scrape on one knee where it hit the pillar I has holding on to. Luckily it passed somewhat quickly and by the time the kids met us with the wheelchair I was coherent, and some of my strength returned. It was nice have everyone push my wheelchair so I could see the major parts of the aquarium, and there were plenty of places that I could be parked while everyone else went to see something that would have been a tight fit. We got in a few other attractions that afternoon, then head back to our cabin in Maggie Valley.
I will leave the health issues for the next post. I knew I was sick, but I really didn’t feel any worse or better for the rest of the trip.
Monday found us in Cherokee, NC. I really didn’t expect the girls to enjoy the museum as much as they did. They were asking questions about the displays and had good comments when their questions were answered. it’s really nice to see them getting inquisitive about things that aren’t covered very well in school. The Cherokee people have an absolutely beautiful creation story. Personally, I find it every bit as relevant as any other creation story. It is no more, nor any less credible the one most of us have been force feed all these years.
Every time I visit a museum of this sort, I am saddened beyond words how native peoples have been treated by we white people. On every continent we have hurt if not straight out destroyed entire cultures. They had a veteran’s display in the museum. It told of a Cherokee medical doctor that was on a landing craft on D-Day. I didn’t know they had any doctors on the landing craft. But it makes me wonder were there any “white” doctors on any other landing craft? Then there was a display of Cherokee Medal of Honor Recipient. I’m sorry I don’t have names for these, and the other Cherokee’s enshrined in this part of the museum. I was so overcome, and still am, with emotion I had to leave the area and just sit down in the lobby. Knowing that chances are that these gentlemen had already been forcibly removed from their ancestral homes to the squalid desperation of a reservation, but still answered the call to serve this nation (not the Cherokee Nation, but the “white man nation”) amazes me. Sadly, most of the town of Cherokee was closed for the season, so shopping was limited.
However, Son-The-Younger conquered the elements and got the fire pit going. I am told the s’mores were wonderful!
The next morning we loaded everything back up in the car and headed home. We only stopped long enough to visit with Lil-Big-Sis at lunch. There are so many more stories to tell of this trip, but I just don’t have the energy to keep this going, nor a voice to dictate to Wifey, so dear reader this will have to suffice.
But I leave you with What’s Stuck In Wifey’s Head this morning. Enjoy!
… Is really up in the air! Genealogically speaking, I’m a mutt (and chances are you are too!)
One of the biggest reasons people, lots of people, do any DNA tests is to see where their family came from. Unlike myself, they really don’t care to find some long lost family member, or try to prove they’re related to some royal family, now long forgotten (as in the family tree I found that links my Campbell line back to King Arthur!!).
But just how accurate are those ethnicity results? Well even according to the companies providing them, not really all that accurate. Well, that’s not an accurate statement either. It’s not that the estimates aren’t accurate, it’s that one, they are exactly what they say – estimates – and two the results can change. Your DNA doesn’t change, but as more people test, your estimate can change greatly. Here are my results from Ancestry.
The first thing that jumps out is the change in the UK results. I can document my family back to Scotland, so why did the numbers change? One reason is that more folks from the south end of the island (England & Wales) along with more people from the continent have tested. Thus skewing the results that way since there are more matches. Also, Ancestry has broken up the results to be a bit more specific. So the high number in 2018 for Ireland/Scotland/Wales will be diluted as those results are moved to a different locality, and the Scandinavian numbers have been combined with Northwestern Europe.
What about estimates from different companies? Well fear not faithful reader, I have tested at more than one place. My first test, way back in 2008, was strictly on the “Y-DNA” (male) line. As I am one of those guys looking from those long lost ancestors (but not mythical kings).
I should stop real quick and give a very brief overview of the 3 main DNA tests.
Y-DNA (yDNA) – This is a male only test. It follows the male sex chromosome from father to father. Remember your high school biology, males have both Y and X chromosomes, and females two X chromosomes.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) – Everyone can do this test. This test looks at the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. These are passed down from both biological parents to the child, regardless of gender. This is test that Ancestry and My Heritage offer, at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) they call it the “Family Finder” test. 23andMe also now offers this type of test, but remember that 23andMe started out doing DNA for health screening, so their genealogy offerings are still being developed.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Everyone can do this test as well, and it is highly recommended if your goal is to find your mother’s line. mtDNA is passed on to all children, regardless of gender, by the mother only. So this test will follow your mother, to her mother, to her mother and so on.
So, let’s look at the estimates of my atDNA from two other companies, FTDNA and My Heritage.
Well, that’s certainly more detailed, yet still has larger groups (i.e. “British Isles”) than the latest estimate from Ancestry.
I have to disclose that the My Heritage results are from the same data file as FTDNA. I did not test with MH, just uploaded my raw data from FTDNA. And this shows the difference in the databases that each company has.
FTDNA is an American company, and MH is located in Israel. This is why I have higher percentages of Ashkenazi Jewish, African, and Middle Eastern that doesn’t show up elsewhere.
I readily admit that I am not an expert on DNA (nor anything else for that matter). I try and read about the process and how best to interpret the raw data. But, like most folks, my eyes glaze over and I’m reduced to a puddle of goo after about two chapters. Even with my years of medical training, I get confused with all the terms and diagrams. So, let me give you some resources for both testing and education.
Ancestry – has the biggest database if you also want to do genealogy, also now has health tests.
Family Tree DNA – offers the most separate tests (including several yDNA tests).
My Heritage – best for European genealogy – also now has health tests.
23 and Me – best for health tests – just starting to offer genealogy.
FaceBook – as much as I hate to use FB as a source for anything (other than frustration), there are many DNA and genealogy groups that can help.
DNAeXplained – A great blog with so much data my eyes started to glaze over while typing this!
Roots Tech – while primarily a genealogy site, they have lots of DNA help as well.
Cyndi’s List – Cyndi’s list has been around from decades! She has lists for anything family history related. The link goes to the DNA page, but have a look around, you’ll find something to help your family search.
Obviously, this is not a very comprehensive list. I find new websites and books almost every day. Remember, “Google is your friend”. OK, not really, Google keeps way too much data on everyone, but it is helpful. If you’re a book person, Amazon is very helpful.
As much as I would like to think that I maybe answered a question or two, I know that all this did was give you more questions. And that is the way of genealogy. You find one “answer” only to realize that it creates more questions! Feel free to ask your questions in a comment below. I’ll do my best to answer or at least point you to a good resource.
I will leave you with this tidbit; almost all of the DNA testing companies are running “Thanksgiving/Black Friday” sales now. It’s a good time to buy that test if you’re interested. I can’t give a blanket recommendation as to which company to test with, that will depend on what your goal is. Ask me!
This last weekend was a bit tough, physically and mentally. Both Wifey and I had trouble sleeping which carried over into just being plain grouchy. Not to mention whatever the problem is with my back and/or legs was extremely bothersome all weekend. I have had 3 of the 4 tests ordered by the neurologist done, with the last one, an EMG, scheduled for tomorrow morning. I had an EMG before, and it’s not all that fun. It’s not painful, but not it’s not exactly comfortable either. Hopefully I’ll know more by the follow up appointment early next month.
Ont the plus side, the hole in the kitchen wall has been patched. So hopefully, no more froggies under the sink.
But I woke up feeling better this morning, so I thought I’d post a fun little video. I went looking for something by The Monkees first. The Monkees were my favorite band when I was a youngin’. I still listen to their CDs when I get tired of the radio. (Check out this post from some Monkees fun!) Instead of using a (silly) Monkees video, and I went slightly off-course. Which, of course, is par for the course for me. (Let’s see how many more time I use “course” in this post!)
I recently finished an older book by one of my favorite Florida authors, Dave Barry. For those that don’t know who Dave is (@RayAdverb on Twitter), he is a long time humor columnist. I grew up reading his column in The Miami Herald. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988.
The book I just finished, Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs made me wonder about the musical tastes of his readers. The basic premise is that Dave wrote a column about a particular artist, which I won’t mention so you can buy the book and read it for yourself. This opened a floodgate of responses, that went on for several columns. The book is the result.
Not surprisingly, there are songs listed that I totally agree with (see the chapter on Barry Manilow), some that I’ve never heard of, and some that I disagree with. It’s one of the latter that I want to talk about.
I will admit that the fact that the horse is not named at any time during the song (they do spend many days in the desert, and don’t let the horse go until after day 9), so there was plenty of time to name the horse. Even “Jim” would be a good name.. Obviously I’m talking about A Horse With No Name.
The band America has always been a favorite. A simple little acoustic group with good harmonies and simple lyrics. Well, may not simple lyrics. While Daisy Jane, Sister Golden Hair and Lonely People are straight forward, Ventura Highway is any thing but. And I won’t even get into Muskrat Love.
(Song writer Dewey) Bunnell has explained that “A Horse with No Name” was “a metaphor for a vehicle to get away from life’s confusion into a quiet, peaceful place”
While you are reading this (you are reading this and not just jumping to see which video I’m using this time, right??), I’m sitting in my dentist’s chair having yet another crown done. This isn’t just another crown, it’s a replacement crown for a job done only 14 months ago. Sheesh..
I do have a moderate phobia of dentists. Which is a bit odd when you consider that I went through several years of orthodontic works as a teenager with no real issues. Plus, the fact that I spent the majority of my young adult life as an Army Combat Medic (equivalent to a Paramedic). I taught many classes on giving immunizations and even intravenous (IV) classes. I’ve given myself an IV (as a demonstration), and even sutured both of my sons. Needles and blood are not the problem.
The problem started long ago. In 1986 to be exact. I was leaving Fort Bragg, NC the next day. My wife and son (only had the one at the time), were leaving first to Florida to drop them off, then I was headed to Fort Greely Alaska. This particular afternoon, I was playing racquetball with a few of friends that were staying at Fort Bragg. While running to the back wall of the court my ankle turned and I went face first into that concrete back wall. I ended up shattering my right front tooth (number 8 if you’re really interested).
Upon arrival at Fort Greely, as with any military posting, you must turn in your personnel, education, medical, and dental records at the appropriate offices. When I showed up at the dental clinic, they immediately scheduled an appointment with the dentist to have that shattered tooth evaluated.
Here’s the kicker.
About 20 years before this I was hit in the mouth by a baseball. This damaged the tooth extensively, and
according to the family dentist the tooth was “dead”. I had no feeling in the tooth, and it
I told the dentist in Alaska the story and she decided I
needed a root canal. I wasn’t really
surprised that she wanted one, but since the tooth had been damaged so long
ago, I wasn’t sure it was really needed.
Now, I don’t know if this dentist was right out of school or what. But it was almost three hours in the chair, and so many injections of lidocaine; all for naught. In the end all she could say was the root was too calcified to her to get it out. And I’m thinking, I could have told you that. I have my suspicions that I was her first root canal without supervision and she was not about to fail.
Sad to say that I now have a dislike for dentists.
But the dentist we use is anything but that. He is a really
nice guy, has great music playing, and even tries to make you laugh whenever
possible. Since this is just a
replacement, and the temporary is already there, it should be cake and pie.
Maybe. Hopefully. Let’s hope he’s not
having a bad day.
P.S. Have a medical phobia of your own? Leave a comment so we can all commiserate with you!
Specifically, two ladies that gave me a love of good food and how to prepare it.
Those two ladies, are my paternal grandmother “Nanny” and my great aunt (my maternal grandmother’s sister), Arline. I’ve mentioned Nanny several times before on this blog, so I will start with Aunt Arline.
Just about every year of my childhood we would all pile into the family station wagon (mom always drove a station wagon) and head out to visit mom’s family in South Carolina. We would leave way before the sun came up and drive the 14 or so hours straight through, stopping only for gas, restroom breaks, and a quick meal. Since this was before I-95 was completed, we had to travel the entire distance of the Florida Turnpike. The turnpike is, without a doubt, one the most boring drives in America. Flat and straight, and the same damn trees the entire way. Since it runs through the middle of the state, there aren’t even any alligators to break up the monotomy.
But it did have well maintained and clean rest areas. Several of them, such as the one at Fort Pierce, even had full service restuarants. Dad wouldn’t dare pass up that rest area. It was a great place to gas up the car and fill our bellies as well. The only other stop would be somewhere in Georgia at a Stucky’s for the filling up of both car and kids.
Finally arriving at our destination of Marion, SC things would go downhill quickly as all the cousins showed up. Many days were spent running around in the yards of various family members; especially Aunt Arline’s yard. You do remember Aunt Arline right? This part of the post is about her.
She had a pond in her back yard. I wasn’t allowed to go down to the pond by myself. My mom couldn’t swim and was deathly afraid I would fall in and drown. And with good reason, as when I was abvout 5 I did fall into a pool at a friend’s house; and if it wasn’t for my brother who noticed my struggling to get to the side of the pool and jumped in a brought me safely out of the water, I probably would have drowned.
Out of that pond Aunt Arline would catch some little brim or sunfish. She would scale and gut them, then fry them whole. Remember, this is South Carolina in the 60’s. Damn near everything was fried. I will admit that at first I didn’t even want to try a whole fried fish (I means bones??). But one of my uncles showed me how to open them up and get to the good stuff. I was hooked after that – bones and all. Aunt Arline also had a cage that she kept crickets in for bait. She would somehow catch these crickets by hand! I never did figure out how.
So, let’s talk about Sunday dinners at Aunt Arline’s. There would so much food! There isn’t a buffet around that could compare. Of course there were, at times, 20 or so of us eating. I was not allowed in the kitchen then. That was all the women. My mom, her sisters, my older sisters and some cousins that were old enough handled all the cooking. The “men folk” sat out front talking weather, politics and such. My cousins that were too young to take part in the serious talk would be outside playing in the mud, trying to get down to pond, and just basically getting into trouble.
But then, those magic words – “Dinner is ready”! Naturally, we all had to wash up, which took quite some time since there was only one bathroom we were allowed to use. But by the time the kids got to our table, our moms would have a plate ready for us.
And what a plate! There would be at least three kinds of meats; ham, the fish she caught, and my all time favorite – fried chicken. Fried chicken is still my most favorite meal. Many times there would also be a turkey or a beef roast! Then there would be so many veggies – all fresh. Lima beans (another of my favorites), corn, black-eyed peas, collard and/or mustard greens. Then mashed potatoes and rice. Three kinds of bread – cornbread, dinner rolls, and just plain white. Three or four sticks of real butter would be placed around the tables, along with the usual vinegear for the greens, and if needed, condiments to make sandwiches. One thing I don’t remember is ever seeing a “garden salad”; you know lettuce and chopped veggies. But I don’t think I missed it. To this day, I still don’t care for greens.
We would sit around and eat and drink (Carolina Sweet Tea) until we couldn’t move. Then at some secret signal (unknown to “men folk” and kids), out of nowhere large white bed sheets would be used to cover everything up. Nothing put into little plastic containers that go “burp” when you do that other secret thing men folk are not allowed to understand. Nothing even close to a precaution except keeping the bugs off (and kids out).
Then, at another prearranged secret signal the sheets would be taken off and everyone would sit back down and eat. Remember, this is the 60’s in rural South Carolina. Microwave ovens are still a good 10 – 15 years away from general use, so everything was at “room tempature”, whatever that is.
Now, I had no issues with the meat not being reheated. And as much as I love mashed potatoes and limas, I balked at eating them cold. This was where the sandwich fixings came in for me. But mom still wasn’t happy. I had to have a “balanced meal”, meaning veggies. But I would not eat them cold like that. So Aunt Arline came up with a fix. She would take a big helping of the limas (she knew I would eat them all), toss them into a small pan with another stick of butter (Paula Dean has nothing on my family), and heat them up for me. Such a sweet lady! I would then take the entire pot of butter and beans and pour it over a mound of mashed potatoes or rice, depending on which I could get my hands on. Guess it’s not really odd that the majority of my mom’s family died of cholestrol issues, and that I fight that myself.
Let’s switch gears and sides (in a civil war theme). Obvisiouly, my mom is from South Carolina. The little town her daddy’s tobacco farm was in, Fork, is no longer there. She couldn’t remember exactly where the town was but believed it was swallowed by Marion. And that’s where Aunt Arline lived, Marion, South Carolina.
Dad, on the other hand, was from central Pennsylvania. I joke we had the civil war in our house growing up. Mom was a southerner and grew up Baptist. Dad, a yankee (and a damn yankee at that), grew up in a Methodist church. After WWII they settled in the south (if you can consider Miami part of the “south”) and went to a Methodist church. Best of both worlds?
Nanny (again, you do remember Nanny, right? This part of the post is about her), was an exceptional lady. She was widowed at the age of 34 in 1919. Dad was all of 6. She never remarried. From 1919 until she came to live with us about 1968 or so, she was out on her own. She spent a lot of time going between Pennsylvania and Florida, playing the snowbird roll, before she stayed permantly. This was mostly before my time and when I was an infant, so I don’t really remember it.
What I do remember is her cooking. We may not have had the big ol’ spread that we had in South Carolina, but the quality was every bit as good. Nanny was the one that really started me cooking. I was old enough (well almost) to stay around when she was preparing meals. It also helped that I was the only child at home then and our little kitchen had a dining table. I could sit there out of the way and watch, ask questions and more importantly taste!
Not only did she cook your basic meals, she could bake. She would make bread from scratch. This is where I learned how to use yeast. Being the smart woman that she was, she always made me a small loaf when she was baking bread. As soon as it was cool enough to remove from the pan she would give me the first loaf and yet another stick of butter and send me off to get out of her way.
And here is another example of fried chicken; yet completly different from Aunt Arline’s. The crust was different and she would use a buttermilk bath on the chicken pieces. Still every bit as good, just different. Not to brag (who am I kidding??) I have been told that my fried chicken is better than either of their’s. That may be, but I will admit that I am nowhere as consistent as either of these ladies.
But Nanny taught me something more than fried chicken and bread. She taught me BBQ. We didn’t have a smoker growing up, and I can only remember my dad grilling something once. But both my brother and I love to cook with fire. We had to get it from somewhere. It was Nanny. She had a BBQ resuarant in the Altoona, Pennsylvania area. I can find city directories from 1935 and 1936 that list her as the owner. Can you imagine being a widow with a young adult son, in the middle of the Great Depression, and making a good living from a restuarant? The industry that has a very high if not the highest failure rate? Blows my mind.
Her potato salad, fresh made coleslaw and beans were out of this world! And a meatloaf to die for. Somewhere there is a recipe book with all these notes. I really think the printed recipes were there as a distraction. The true treasure were the handwritten notes in the back. My mom, a better than average cook in her own right, added to that collection.
It makes me a bit sad to know that I didn’t get the chance to cook for these ladies before they shuffled off to wherever great cooks go. I’m sure there would have been lots of “this is nice, but if you had done ….” comments. And I would have taken everyone of those comments to heart and tried to live up to their legacy another time.
Well, I’ve had these blog posts sitting here not being posted for quite some time now. All of these have been assigned to “I’ll finish this later”, or “Nobody wants to read about that”, or my fav, “Do I really want to post that?” categories.
An Anniversary (Of Sorts)
Today is the 30th anniversary of my vasectomy! I realize you don’t really care. But it’s important to Wifey® and me. The funny part was later.
We were stationed at Ft. Greely, Alaska. Four days after my getting fixed was son-the-elder’s birthday. Needless to say, we had a party. And as with most kids birthday parties, the adults consumed massive quantities of alcohol. The big toy that year was laser tag. I don’t remember how many we purchased, but we had several pistols, rifles, vests, and helmets. Many hours and batteries were spent running around in the playground and parking lot shooting at each other. Naturally, I was extremely sore for several days after. The beer kept me from hurting that day but did nothing after that.
Pro tip: Don’t go running around right after having your nuts cut!
Still Not The Song I Want To Hear
The posts I’m referring to are here and here. After dinner Sunday the family was sitting at our little bar in the kitchen (where we usually eat dinner) and within 10 minutes or so I had to change the station at least 5 times. Nothing but Skynyrd, Zepplin, Springsteen, U2, etc. Even son-the-elder noticed and said I was having a bad night.
Genealogy Still Sucks
If you missed the original post go here. Since everything I find on my Campbell side either has too many questions to lay claim to or goes back to King Arthur, I have decided to work on some other lines for now. Besides, I can’t get anyone to answer any requests on Ancestry.
I’m just happy that I haven’t found a “tree” that links back to Adam & Eve! Although I have to think that the Campbell’s would have sprung from Adam & Lillith, Eve was too prissy.
I have many DNA links on my paternal grandmother’s side, and my mother’s side (both her mother and father’s sides). I’m also going to start on Wifey’s® tree even though she has cousins with a lot of the family already there. But I have doubts about a lot of the historical family members.
Samhain is right around the corner! Even though we don’t participate much in Halloween (unless we have the girls), I still enjoy this time of year. The Celt in me loves the traditions and once this day passes the next holiday is my absolute favorite of all holidays, Thanksgiving.
We have always enjoyed carving Jack O’Lanterns. But since this year Halloween falls on a Wednesday I think we’ll cut it back this year.
To Gym Or Not To Gym
Yeah… This post didn’t get very far…
Mental Health Day (Or Lack Thereof)
I’ve mentioned before that I am bipolar type II. I don’t post about it much because I really can’t. When those days hit the last thing I want to do is talk. Not that talking about it doesn’t help, it does. But, I am not one to talk about what’s going on in my messed up head. And to spit it out only relieves the pain for a very short time. And the roller coaster emotions that this causes is even worse than just dealing with it in my own way.
Then this meme came across my Facebook the other day and I think it may have some merit.
I can understand this. The universe has a finite amount of energy (E=mc^2 tells us this). And since we are all made of stardust (and to stardust, we’ll return) we are all connected. Maybe days when you are sad and can’t place a reason why the universe is signaling that someone needs mourning. I’m down with that.
So those are all the leftovers that have been ignored. And to continue the Still Not The Song I Want To Hear post, this morning on the way to work, it was either Starship, Aerosmith, or Rocket Man, easily Elton’s worse song. And while putting this post together, Michael Martin Murphy’s Wildfire just came on. There is nothing that will make me change the station faster than that “song”. Has to be the absolute worst thing ever written.
But fear not dear reader (both of you), the music world is still kicking! Saturday night driving home from dinner with granddaughter-the-younger I had the Beatles channel blaring in the truck. Both of my girls love the Beatles. As this song came on, and I was singing it to her, she was laughing the entire time. When we made it home we watched Beatles videos on YouTube. It was wonderful.
So today I was doing the vinegar and water treatment to our several years old Keurig coffee maker and saw this:
And I think to myself, “Adult supervision”? Where in the hell am I going to find an adult to make us coffee every morning?? And coffee is just one rung below beer on the beverage scale to me. I am screwed!
The only reason I can even be considered an “adult” is the fact that I am older than dirt. I passed that magical age and entered into “adulthood” about two centuries ago. I really don’t care for any of those chain coffee shop “coffees”. Their coffee always tastes burned, and besides that, the average age of anybody working there has to be about the same as my granddaughters. They sure as hell ain’t even close to “adult” age. Although they are growing like weeds.
So what’s an old fart like me to do? Well, I will continue to grind my coffee about every two days and continue to make my coffee without any adult supervision. Because, dammit, I’m a rebel!! Ok, not really. But I need my coffee.
How do you like your coffee?? I take mine black. “Army” style!