Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Vacation Chernobyl - I am glad to be back!
The sweatshirt I'm wearing was one of my favorite Christmas presents - Thanks Lory!
(My first blog of 08 is a little long but hey, it's been awhile!)
We make plans. God laughs. I don’t think He laughed AT me as I made my list for December 2008. More like chuckled with his sweet girl for being so, well, so wrong. And wrong I was. My December list included hours of Denver Christmas fun and hours of family time out in the snow. This was to be a holiday like no other. Yes, I had the camera all set. I couldn’t wait to blog about it all afterward. In fact, I closed my blog down in order to spend time writing my new book that was sure to be all finished come January 3rd.
As I write this, I can imagine the Lover of my soul and the Creator of all good things chuckling.
“Robbie, I am thinking of a different sort of December for you.”
Let me back up and fill you in with some pertinent info so you can get the whole picture.
My John, my wonderful husband, loves cooking. His favorite Food Network show is called Good Eats hosted by a bespeckled man named Alton. John loves the show because Alton doesn’t just talk about recipes; he discusses the science behind food. With that science comes experimenting. Ahhhh, this John loves. See, I am blessed to be married to a man who doesn’t use recipes but experiments. His creations are sumptuous and our dinner parties are known for lovely meals, gourmet-like. If you are wondering about my part, I shop for ingredients and I entertain while John is doing his thing.
Thanksgiving we were invited to my brother Phil’s house. My sister-in-law Lory asked John to bring the turkey. She told me she wanted to give him a “project” and she did. Dear John began researching ways to cook a turkey. It is actually a simple bird to cook but different chefs add their own flair.
Enter Good Eats and Alton. John just happened to catch the “turkey” show and he had a plan. I was asked to buy honey, apple cider and a box of kosher salt in order to brine the turkey. The result? Thanksgiving Day Phil’s home was filled with oohs and aahs from most every one of the four families invited. John’s turkey was a big hit. I, personally, had never tasted such a moist delicious bird.
So, December came and the same four families plus some extra folks decide to get together again on Christmas Day. This time at Susan and Michael’s house. Susan calls me and asks if John can make the turkey again.
“It was just SO delicious.” She adds.
I ask John and he agrees.
“No problem and I will eat whatever other meat they have.”
“What?” I ask. “Why?”
“Robbie, I hated that turkey.”
John goes on to confess that the splendor of our Thanksgiving meal was too gamey to him and he didn’t like it at all. I suggest that we call Susan and tell her that he didn’t like it and offer to bring something else.
“No, everybody loved it. I don’t mind at all.”
So, it’s off to the store to do my part. I felt good that day.
Allow me to interject in my tale that December was the most physically painful month I have had since I was pregnant. I began having chest pains in November and continued to have them plus stomach pains. On December 19th I went in for a heart stress test that I was told would last two hours. Five hours after I walked in I was rushed around with nurses whispering to each other. I ended up in the cardiologist’s office.
“We need to put a catheter into your heart. We think you are at high risk for a heart attack because of a blockage.”
He told his assistant to sign me up for Monday.
“That’s Christmas Eve.” She said.
“Well, then first thing day after Christmas. And Robbie, you need to take a daily aspirin and do nothing. No cleaning, no shopping, no vacuuming, nothing strenuous.”
“And Robbie, have a nice holiday.”
Fear came to our house for a visit but I put its little suitcase right back on the porch and told it to go find a Motel 6. John and I made a conscious decision, backed up by prayer and positive words that we would not worry. We didn’t.
But the pain seemed to get worse and worse. It came without warning and left without warning, like a bad guest.
On Christmas Eve I happened to be pain free. I was ecstatic. John’s turkey was being brined as we went to Phil’s house for dinner and games. It was truly a lovely evening. I had to cut it short though, because the pain was knocking on my stomach’s door.
When we returned, we all walked into a condo filled, and I mean filled, with a horrible aroma.
“What is that smell?” We all asked, almost simultaneously.
After some investigation, we discovered that it was the turkey-brining process. At Thanksgiving, the brining had occurred outside in a cooler. But since it was so cold and so snowy, John had put the cooler in one of our bathtubs.
“Did you smell this when you were brining the turkey at Thanksgiving?” I asked.
“Yep. From time to time.”
“Well, no wonder you didn’t like it. No way you could attach that smell to anything and eat it and like it.”
This is when I noticed the plate on the floor. The plate that had been on the dining room table full of cookies and treats.
“Oh no!” I cried. “That plate was full of cookies.”
Our three heads whipped to the right and saw our fatter than normal puggle Scooby (imagine Jabba the Hut from Star Wars) sitting in a chair licking himself.
We watched our dog closely that evening but he seemed fine. Very happy, of course, because he had discovered the treasure of Saint Nicholas atop a table within his reach. After Noah opened one present and we read the Christmas story, off to bed we all went.
At approximately 3:30 a.m. I heard my beloved dog presenting a Christmas gift to us all. The cookies had caught up. John walked him while I cleaned up the puggle’s presents. Scooby was shuddering after his walk from throwing up so much so we decided to stay up with him and watch episodes of Lost and just welcome Christmas that way. Each time either of us walked anywhere near the bathroom with the turkey brine, we would remark, “That smell is AWFUL.”
Noah joined us in the morning and discovered that once again Santa had come. We engaged in our tradition of Noah finding the hidden baby Jesus from our Nativity scene and then singing Happy Birthday to our Lord. Then of course, we threw ourselves into the carnage of materialism.
My pain came back somewhere between opening the pancake grill and my Barnes and Noble gift card. I enjoyed our family time, but as with every other time we had made a plan during December I offered up my sad resignation to John, “I just don’t feel like going today.”
But I wanted to. Thanksgiving was so much fun.
When we looked out the windows John offered, “Well I wonder if we CAN go with all this snow.”
Our Christmas day was to have 10 inches of snow fall.
Scooby was walked several times during the morning and we each took turns loving on him as he went through his sugar detox.
About 10:30, John called to me from the kitchen (I was laying down writhing) “Uh, Robbie, can you come look at something?”
I heave-hoed and made my way to our kitchen. “That smell is AWFUL, John.”
“I know. But look at the turkey. It’s only been in the oven for an hour.”
He opened the oven door and there was our foul smelling foul, completely obliterated. It was as if Scooby had jumped inside the hot stove and torn it limb from limb.
“I have no idea.”
John asked me to try a little bite. It tasted like radioactive cardboard. At least what I think radioactive cardboard would taste like.
The two of us stood watching the bird, each lost in our own worlds of Turkey Gone Bad. John later told me he was wondering about how Alton’s science had gone so well once and so badly this time. Or maybe we had bought a bad bird.
I was wondering how we could go to the gathering with no meat to offer.
After a moment of silence I announced, “I bet you a store will be open today and we can just go buy Rotisserie Chickens.”
“I need to dispose of the corpse.” John commented.
John got rid of the nuclear accident, our Chernobyl turkey, while Noah stroked the Jones-ing dog and I attempted to finally get dressed to attend the party-pain, or no pain.
The phone rang.
“That was Phil.” John announced. “The get together has been cancelled due to the weather.”
I knew it must be bad, because my brother drives in any kind of weather.
I laid down on the bed and sighed. I was fine with it.
We make plans. God chuckles.
After four cans of air spray and windows opened despite the below freezing temperatures, the Chernobyl Turkey smell is just a slight memory which wafts up only occasionally. Scooby completed his rehab and is 9 days sober. We have learned to De-Scooby the place if we leave. As for me, I found out that my heart is fine but my gall bladder needs removing. I see the surgeon this Thursday and I cannot wait to go back to living pain-free!
We did very little storybook Christmas “stuff” this year and I have written next to nothing, but it’s all good. The Iobst family walked through fear, a nuclear turkey and a doggie acid trip and came out courageous and laughing. God knew. Now I chuckle with Him.