23 November 2015

I Hope That You've Had Enough To Drink. It's Going To Take Courage.

It's one of those oh-so-typically Kathy days. I'm staring into the abyss. I'm doing everything within my power not to cause Rusty to jump from the railing in an attempt to escape my world. Let's review:

Tick fever is caused by . . . (two guesses, you'll only need one): ticks. Not just any tick. The brown dog tick. This is not a tick with an affinity for brown dogs. Neither is this tick always brown. So as with everything else in my life today, the term brown dog tick is a lie! Anything in that photo below appear brown to you?!? It's like every suggestion for a Mason jar craft on Pinterest. Liars!

Tick fever in dogs is deadly. Period. There is no cure, so it's all about early detection and management. Think malaria, which can lie dormant in your liver for weeks or years only to surprise you one Christmas. Think of a slow-acting ebola where the patient essentially bleeds-out (internally and externally). Yeah. This tick fever stuff is serious.

Let's breath and keep calm . . . and none of that crown-image shit about keeping calm. Well, not unless the crown holds several Xanax. I teeter on the ledge. But let's look back at happier times.

My mother was the worst cook in the world. Yes, that 18-year nightmare was happy compared to today.  I was well into my teenage years before I knew that hotdogs came with buns. For mother, dinner was a boiled hot dog tossed on a plate, and a can of room-temperature asparagus dumped into a bowl. True story . . . you read correctly . . . a boiled hot dog. And I was in my 20s before I knew that I loved asparagus, fresh . . . very lightly steamed or grilled. 

So mother was a terrible cook, but the woman could bake. Candies, cakes, cookies, pies. No recipes . . . she merely had the knack for baking. If she learned to bake from her mother (which can neither be confirmed nor denied), why then wouldn't she have learned to cook? This is a mystery as my grandmother could both cook and bake. Happily my daddy took us out for dinner at least three to four times per week. 

Until age 50, I was the opposite of my mother. I can cook. I mean I can cook! No recipe . . . just build those flavors. Plus, I’ve had professional classes on three continents. So I could cook, but I could not bake. Even cake mixes from a box were a challenge. Then I moved to West Africa where they don't have tick fever and was forced to learn to bake brownies in a Dutch oven over a wood fire (fill Dutch oven 1/4 full with sand, place brownie pan on sand, cover, bake over wood fire until toothpick comes out clean). Yeah . . . hardly the kitchen of a pastry chef. But perhaps learning to bake under such camp-like conditions made me understand the chemistry of baking. That, and Alton Brown. So now I bake.

Yesterday my friend Cynthia and I set out to bake a tres leches cake for our friend Janet. Today is Janet’s birthday and tres leches is her favorite. We followed the directions perfectly using Cynthia’s new Kitchen Aid mixer. Into the oven. Thirty minutes later the cake fell . . . flat as a pancake. Now I’ve heard tales of cakes falling. I believe that I've even seen an I Love Lucy episode where a cake fell . . . or perhaps it rose too high. Anyway, with our cake, Cynthia was heart-broken. I was stunned. I thought falling cakes to be a myth. Well, said Cynthia and I, we shall not be defeated by any cake. More eggs for a second try.

Let’s fast-forward and confirm that cake number two was a complete success. So what was the take-away from the date that shall forever be known as el día de la torta caída? Several things, as A.B. would have forewarned us

  • You can’t depend on stable stiff-peak egg whites in the humidity above Samara.
  • Add flour and any other liquid (milk, in our case) to the beaten egg whites quickly and efficiently by folding, not beating, and in no more than three step – otherwise, you’re simply adding too much air into those already unstable egg whites. 
  • Never bake without a cocktail. It might not stop a cake from falling, but it will ease the trauma.

Today in an attempt to avoid the tick fever subject, without the use of alcohol too early in the day, I've baked crunchy granola-topped banana cupcakes, made broccoli/carrot salad, tuna salad, arranged some last minute details of a pet spay/neuter clinic, begun our holiday tree from that site-full-of-lies, Pinterest, and tried to salvage the Mason Jar craft fiasco. It's rather clear that my attempts at distraction are an utter failure.

Jill was toted down the hill into Samara on Friday for her blood test for tick fever. I really cannot conceive that I've allowed my dog to contract tick fever (as if I can control every tick in Central America). Inconceivable. However, I've been hit with a few surprising medical diagnoses in my life, so I must concede the possibility. 

This brings us to my spiralling melt-down. Jill's test was Friday. Results were promised by Saturday. I knew, intellectually, that I'd not have results on a Saturday (labs close early, blah, blah, blah). Still, I had hope . . . God knows I live on it. But I did expect results this morning. Nada. Zip. Then my mobile ran out of minutes as I was feigning calm while texting our wonderful vet, who at this moment remains on a pedestal . . . but let me tell you, that pedestal is tilting farther and faster as every moment passes.

I don't want to hear Rusty say that we'll know as soon as the vet knows. I don't want to be rational. I damn sure don't want to hear that a Friday blood draw was too old for a Monday morning lab analysis. And if anyone says lo que hay, you'd better run far and fast.