Monday, August 25, 2008

Forgot the Turmeric

I didn't forget to bring it. I forgot to put it on the list.

That sounds like one of those meme questions: *If you were stranded on a desert island and had a choice of only one seasoning to bring, what would it be?*

I like my little *To Bring* list down there. It's been extremely helpful, and I'll need it again when I go do plaster jackets or poke around the Okeefenokee Swamp or take off for the Keewenaw Peninsula again. So I'll keep updating it as I go, whenever I realize there was something else I should have written down.

Like these:

-Thermometer. Considered it, left it behind. Should have brought it.
-More 2" *Durapore* brand silk tape. It's quite hard to find, usually needs to be ordered, and it's the only tape with glue I'm not very allergic to. I have to tape my duragesic patch on, so I always need this.
-Egg whites. I brought egg salad, but sometimes I need a hit of pure protein for the blood sugar.
-Blood sugar test kit. Brought it, just didn't list it. Something I really don't want to forget.
-Dry mustard.

And thanks for your comments! True Hurricane Preps might have a few more items, but not very many. So any time any of you are facing a Big BugOut, send me an email. I can help others fine tune their own lists too, and have done several times now. Fun!

I try to bring more of the lightweight items with me, and purchase heavier ones at the destination. Weight inside your vehicle makes an amazing difference in fuel consumption. I packed just enough sugar to keep Walter supplied with coffee on the road, for instance. It's heavy, it's cheap, it's okay to spend a few cents more buying it at Walmart in Missouri if we run out, rather than packing cheaper Sam's sugar from home.

Of course, a trivet's never lightweight. But cooking in the Isuzu and the hotel room both, it's been a *Must.* It would have been easy to put a very hot dish on something plastic and melt it; or something less stable, and end up getting burned again. No no no.

We've bought some things here by now. Worcestershire sauce. I finally ran out at home, so I didn't mind buying it here. (Two many duplicate bottles start to irritate me.) Eggs, to put Worcestershire sauce in and nuke up some scrambled eggs. Poultry seasoning. And replacements of our regular foods, just like at home. Ran out of milk and cream.

The gray cooler on the right is a 12V cooler. We bought a $17 converter so we could plug it into the wall socket. The blue cooler needs ice, though. Every day Walter takes the elevator downstairs to the lobby and fills 2 1-gallon ziplocks with ice, double-bagged. That way we don't have to dump water out of the cooler all the time. The ice cooler has the veggies and fruits and so forth, items that don't need as constant a cold temp to stay good. The 12V cooler keeps our meats and dairy fresh.

Today we had ribs, cooked in the tiny $18 *camping* toaster oven; and little red potatoes, baked in the nuker. Salads. For me, a broccoli flower cooked in the nuker with a little water. It came out much better than I expected. Tasty! Nice green leafies to help with healing! An excellent excuse for whipped butter, together with my little bitty allotment of red potato.

Walter was floored. He just didn't believe I could cook ribs and things with the equipment we have here. To his amazement, the ribs and potatoes were delicious. Hmph! After 15 years, you'd think he'd know better.

See how tiny this toaster oven is? It barely holds that meat loaf. When I made the (boneless back meat) *ribs,* I sauced 'em up, wrapped 'em in foil, put 'em on the trays - I have two matching trays, one scarfed from another dead toaster oven - and stacked them, one atop the other. Cooked them at 300 degrees in the tiny oven for three hours. Oh they were good! And oh, did I NEED some hot fresh food!

And just why are we doing this? At the hotel alone, the food savings for us two people are over $100/week, and we've been here 2 1/2 weeks already. That's a good $300 to date, just at the hotel. On the road it's more.

I'm making the meat loaf now. Yes, that's two big entrees in one day, but I had to use up the ground beef and pork. It was a cooler thing. When I get sick I can fall too far behind in life's chores, including cooking meat that will go bad if I wait too long. That's no fun for anyone.

I'm not sure how this batch of meat loaf will turn out. I left out the bread crumbs because my blood sugar's being a nuisance and I'm not healing right. Plus I just ate a potato. I did use lots of grated sweet onion and onion juice, and grated carrot, and an egg. A head of garlic, pressed; Worcestershire sauce, turmeric, poultry seasoning, and salt. And almost as much ground pork as ground round. Hopefully it'll be juicy and tender even without the starchy carbs.

I think my meat loaf is done. Brb.

Yeah, that's done. Well, probly. I believe this requires a taste test to be completely sure.

Oh, YUM! Thank you, Chris!


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Still Holed Up in Missouri, Watching the Olympics

Well, yeah. I do realize they're over. But having slept through significant bits like the opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies and precious hours of rhythmic gymnastics, I'm still gorging myself on Olympic Experiences via the internet. Which has its limits, but also its extra benefits. Hours of great stuff is never shown on TV.

Today is Monday. Walter has a second appointment Tuesday morning with his company's designated local doc, a thoracic surgeon. After that, we may not be needed here any more. But! That doesn't mean they'll get around to kicking us loose for a while. There doesn't seem to be much emphasis on being efficient versus spending unneeded hotel costs.

That may change, though. Late last week, we hired ourselves a Worker's Comp lawyer. They don't know yet; they'll find out today or tomorrow, after he formally files the complaint, which also officially names him as our representative.

It's a move that usually draws attention from one's opponent.

Walter's employer has been quite decent to its employees in many ways. And they've been run profitably for years. Sensibly.

But in the last couple years both qualities have gone downhill. That's accelerated since a big buyout a year ago. It's perfectly normal in the life cycle of a Cash Cow company, but it's still sorryass behavior, at least to this former businessperson.

The inefficiency in their Worker's Comp department has gotten interesting. They've gone through three nurses recently. Better yet, they've laid off two of their three full-time Worker's Comp employees: the two with significant knowledge and experience (and probably salaries). The third, a mere greenhorn, has been promoted past his level of competence, given an office and a raise and the erroneous belief that he knows his job, and assigned the workload of all three.

This created an atmosphere of ridiculous errors, plus long time periods where Nothing Happens. So we sat here and waited as nobody bothered cutting Walter's checks, or hustling the doc's report that will tell the company what to do with Walter.

The doc sent it in a week after he first saw Walter (August 12), but neglected to sign it. The company nurse kindly, and secretively, whispered to us that he then decided to *add* to the report. On Friday he was still dictating away. Hmmm! Tomorrow is the two-week followup appointment he'd originally recommended. From the looks of things, that second report will say Walter is finished as a driver.

While we never saw or heard about the first report, Walter was finally able to kick loose a check from the company late Thursday. That surely means the local doc did agree with the Florida docs: No Commercial Driving.

As for the two weeks Walter got stiffed? We'd probably recover that in the ultimate settlement. Or our lawyer may make them cough it up sooner instead. He called it *insane.* The greenhorn said it was because Walter *didn't communicate* for a week or two after they'd ordered him to Missouri. The attorney says that the only legal reason they can stop payments is if Walter *didn't cooperate with treatment,* which was not the issue.

He also says he won't even talk to that recently promoted idiot greenhorn. Instead he'll deal, as is appropriate, with the company's Worker's Comp lawyer, who knows and respects the laws, unlike the idiot.

Our attorney tell us he knows their lawyer well, and has other cases he's currently working on against the same employer. From my own legal supervision work years back, I'd guess the two attorneys may even be golf buddies outside the courtroom, and fervent representatives for their respective clients inside the courtroom. Small town relationships like this can get interesting.

Ah, such a comfort to have a lawyer! And such a fine candidate for the job! His dad was a diesel mechanic, his uncle and other family were big rig long haulers, and he's got 25 years in the business. We've only *met* over the phone, but so far I've been impressed with his approach, his knowledge, his style, and his sensibly written contract. I hope he lives up to our hopes and expectations. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I'm immobilized. I've got a nasty painful wound on my left leg that doesn't want to heal, and about all I can do is sleep, or lay in bed reading with my legs up on the Foot Elevator. I can't take this particular computer to bed with me, not easily at least. And while the allergies are a little better they're still slamming us both. That's why you haven't heard much out of me lately.

Next time I get up I'll give all y'all a nice Boo-Boo update. Lots of great gory pix, yay! Till then, I'll probably be sleeping.

Slowly but surely, I'll catch up with everyone's blogs and emails. I hope you guys are all doing well.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Holed Up in Missouri, Watching the Olympics

Well. It's been awhile, hasn't it? Forgive me for not updating as much as I should. Life has been moving a mile a minute, while we've been following at a mile a month.

We're okay, don't worry. But it's been so long since I posted, I'd better just start right where I am.

We are here. *Here* is a smallish town in southern Missouri. I've no idea how long we'll be here. We're sitting out the time as Walter's employer trudges its way through analyzing his worker's comp case.

Or not. They're actually short on staff in that department now and seem to be paying him no attention at all. Apparently the holdup is that the local doctor Walter saw last Monday (the 11th) hasn't sent in his report yet. Till then? No income. Not even the weekly worker's comp checks we were getting before. This is probably not legal of them, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So me, I'm holding down costs by cooking our meals here in the hotel room, using our nuker, "camping" toaster oven, and two coolers from home. I'm very glad I brought them, because the hotel doesn't have nukers and fridges in every room yet.

They will, says the Front Desk. They would have already, but the hotel was hit by lightning recently, messing up electricity and delaying the planned amenities upgrades. So they aren't available yet in the single rooms Walter's company pays for, the block of rooms they set aside for truckers visiting corporate HQ.

Here's the view as you open the door. I'm trying to keep the kitchen from being glaringly obvious, just in case an uninvited maid or nosy desk clerk tries to get in here. In this particular establishment they drip massively horrible Scented Products behind them in their wake. Eeeekkk! Not allowed. Do Not Disturb!!!

Here's the kitchen as I, the cook, see it. The kitchen cabinets are on the left.

Do hotels like guests to cook meals in their rooms? Of course not. Does it amuse the hell out of me to do so? Of course it does. It's not just entertaining, it meets my health needs. Hey! Diabetic superallergic here! heh! Besides, if you put fridges and nukers in the rooms, what do you expect? Nothing but hot tea and warmed up leftover pizza?

The dresser is the perfect size to stash my kitchen needs. How convenient! The top drawer has the daily plates and silverware and whatnot.

Next drawer is the pantry. The last drawer has the ziplocks and trivet and cheese grater and such.

There's probably a reason they put all the truckers on the third - and last - floor.

Now I'll give you a mini-update on the last several weeks.

We didn't leave home anywhere near July 25. Nope. We checked in to this hotel on Friday, August 8. It was one of those leaving times when it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.

We got the Isuzu serviced for the road trip. Then our inverter blew, and it was only sheer luck that kept it from blowing up the car.

Got a new inverter. Decided to set it up with its own battery this time, professionally installed. That took a couple days right there.

I had surgery to remove that Mystery Thing on my left leg. The surgeons did a great job. The leg? Not so much. The incision decided not to heal right, then to get infected with MRSA. More doctor visits, more fatigue.

And we were both so very sick with allergies that tending to these little matters took huge efforts of will.

Road tripping costs more than usual these days, and it isn't just the fuel. Spending money to eat at what's available in restaurants or fast-food joints can carve a big hole in the wallet - especially if it goes on for days or weeks.

Now consider this: Say you're allergic to all foods, not to mention the perfumes, *air fresheners* and cleaning products one encounters at such places. Say both drivers are battling fatigue and multiple illnesses, knowing that stopping to find a restaurant can slam down your momentum to continue after you've sat down and stopped for a while.

Yeah. Generally speaking, it's a good thing to avoid when we can.

On top of everything else, cooking in the Isuzu purely cracks me up. Just as cooking in this hotel room does. So the Great Escape preps had much to do with remaining self-sufficient in our food needs, both on the road and at the hotel.

I was mostly packed and ready to go for a couple weeks before we left. Considering the speed I was moving at, and the incredible amount of stuff I truly need these days, that's rather miraculous right there.

I wonder sometimes...Do any of you reading this remember me from the long-ago days I'd grab my little prepacked bag and hit the airport a half hour after deciding to pop off somewhere? Can you imagine me now, requiring a whole caravan to house me and my necessities?

Remember, if you will, that we had no idea if we'd be here for a few days or a few weeks. This resulted in a sort of Hurricane Preps approach to packing: hope for the best, prepare for the worst. As it turned out, we've been here a week and a half with no end in sight, and have needed virtually everything we brought.

If you don't think that's a bit...odd...then, for your edification and entertainment, I'll leave you for now with a peek at my *Must Have* list of things to bring.

For Trip

Into Isuzu
Sleeping bag
Twin size bottom and top sheets
3 pillowcases
Beach towel
Both small back pillows
Foot stack
Hand pump
Route map printouts

Toaster oven
Espresso maker
HEPA machine
Head lamp

Business & Entertainment
Laptop & wireless keyboard
Air duster
Camera, extra cards, charger & box
Cell phones & charger
AA batteries & charger
Binder clips & paper clips
Stapler & staple remover (from car)
Calendar from the monitor
Mr. Budget, banking
Bring Citizen's insurance policy to read
Papers to sort, things to do
Sprint booklet
Pix of D&D's
Stamps (reg. & postcard) & envelopes

Food & Cooking Supplies
Frozen smoked turkey leg soup
Frozen baked beans
Bread - w
Tortillas - corn & flour
Refried beans
Tuna salad
Egg salad
Beef base
Sliced dill pickles
Sweet pickles
Miracle Whip
Hot sauce
Sweet onions
Any carrots, celery, broccoli, etc. in kitchen fridge
Peanut butter
Garlic & garlic press
Cream Cheese
Tapioca pudding
Choc sauce
Tea - k & w
Sprite zero
Popcorn, popcorn salt
Popcorn bowl
Cheese grater
Aluminum foil
Small dishwashing liquid
Dish towel
Plates, bowls, silverware, straws, cups
Cooking knives
Knife sharpener
Small cutting board
Can opener
Gallon of water
Freezer drink cups & drinks

Personal Care
Regular soap
Rubbing alcohol
Bandaging supplies: bandaids, 4x4's, tapes, sleeves, wraps
Creams: Silvadene, cortisone, mupirocin, antifungal, antiviral
Latex gloves
3 weeks' pills & vitamins in packs
Pain patches (Fentanyl & lidocaine)
Next pain patch Rx
Night splint
Eye drops
Cream rinse
Hairbrush, comb, bobbypins
Electric toothbrush & toothpaste
Tooth desensitizer
White strips
Nail clipper
Nail file
Waxing strips
Respirator (from car)
Battery-operated personal fan
2 pairs reading glasses
Leather flip-flops

Sunday, August 10, 2008