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Tag: sick days

sick days

the countryside i’d been hoping to see before a fever felled me this week….(photo by elizabeth marie black)

Wednesday I woke up with a fever. Thursday I woke up with a fever. And now it’s Friday, and I am still lying here with a fever. It’s not covid! But it’s not very friendly. And it’s the second time in two weeks my bones have ached so much I considered trading them in.

Sick days when you’re long past school days aren’t much fun. Excitement comes in the form of planting a thermometer under your tongue, and waiting for the beep. I try to guess if the numbers will be up or down.

I was supposed to be out in the country on Wednesday. But the cows will have to wait. And the waist-high grasses glistening in September’s sun. 

Once upon a time, I never minded a sick day. Once or twice I might have rubbed the thermometer against the threads of my bedsheets, registering a fever that gave me excuse to stay home from church and tucked under the covers reading a book I couldn’t put down. In a family of five getting to ring a little bell, beckoning gingerale or saltine crackers, meant for a little extra notice from the folks running the show. 

But nowadays, I sit by the window watching the sunlight and wish I was playing outside. 

In the meantime, a thousand prayers for everyone in the wake of Ian, the terrible horrible hurricane. The world is fevered, all right. 

what’s your tried and true cure for the days when you’re felled by a bug?

because i hate to leave you short, here’s an autumnal salad from my dear friend emily nunn, who started the “Tables for Two” column at The New Yorker, and later worked at the Chicago Tribune, and is side-splittingly hilarious and whose department of salad: official bulletin is worth every penny of its annual subscription, or free for an abbreviated once-a-week edition. and read even more about her here when dear emily graced the cover of the new york times food section.:

*RECIPE: An Autumnal Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Radicchio, Pecorino and Pepitas
from the inimitable Emily Nunn
Serves 4-6

2 small sweet potatoes, roasted in their skin until fork tender but not mushy, then refrigerated unpeeled; emily does this at 400°F, for about 50 minutes to an hour
1 medium head of radicchio, leaves separated and torn into bite-size pieces (you may also shred the radicchio as if for coleslaw, which is delicious and beautiful, but it won’t stay as crisp, something to consider if you’re interested in resilience here)
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced (emily used her mandoline), tossed with fresh lemon juice (a tablespoon or so)
1 tart fall apple, cored, quartered, thinly sliced crosswise (no need to peel; again, emily used her mandoline), then gently tossed with lemon juice (a tablespoon or so; don’t break your apples when tossing)
1 very small shallot, minced (or 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion)
Pecorino (or Parmesan, if you wish), a 2 to 3 ounce chunk, shaved with a vegetable peeler (emily likes a lot)
1/2 cup or so roasted salted pumpkin seeds (or pepitas)
Chopped chives, a half cup or more
Torn basil leaves, a half cup or more
Prosciutto, one or two slices per person, on the side (optional but recommended)
Flaky sea salt
Molasses Vinaigrette (below)

  1. Peel and slice your refrigerated sweet potatoes into 1/3-inch rounds, then into half-moons or quarter (I used rounds in the photo simply because they were pretty; you’ll get better distribution with halves or quarters).
  2. Line a platter or shallow bowl with the torn or shredded radicchio (you may wish to toss it with a few tablespoons the dressing first).
  3. Decorate the radicchio with the sweet potatoes then strew it all with the fennel, apples, shallot or red onion, and generous pecorino shavings; scatter this with the pumpkin seeds and herbs. Drizzle generously with the Molasses Vinaigrette and bring to the table, accompanied by the extra dressing in a little pitcher, a dish of flakey sea salt, and a small plate of abstractly folded slices of prosciutto, for those who wish to enjoy it alongside their salad.

    NOTE Another way to do this: Gently toss all the ingredients—except for the cheese, pumpkin seeds, and the prosciutto—together with some of the dressing (about half, to start; add more to taste) then top with the cheese and seeds; serve the extra dressing and the prosciutto on the side.

Molasses Vinaigrette
⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 small clove garlic, grated on your microplane
2 teaspoons molasses (emily buys the basic grocery store stuff used for baking; she says it’s delicious but powerful)
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne (one or two pinches)

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all the ingredients and shake until well emulsified. You may want a touch more cider vinegar or lemon, or more salt; do this now and re-shake.

i’m especially saying prayers this morning for marsha in low country who’s expecting a walloping from ian today, and janet who might be down florida way but might still be safely tucked on the shores of a wisconsin fresh-water lake. and the millions we don’t know in the sweep of ian’s devastation.

declaration: down day

felled by two fevers, three stuffed heads, and enough coughing to blow out some lungs (and maybe a front tire, to boot) , the mama in charge around here declared a down day. all weekend long.

no errands. no sunday school. no leaving the house, not for the little one at least. instead, we stayed in jammies. ate late breakfast with muffins hot out of the oven. finished leftovers for lunch. made a stew that stewed all day. sprinkled glitter on the last of the valentines. invited grammy for sunday dinner. watched old home movies. made a lincoln log cake. one of us even cleaned out her work closet.

sometimes, it seems, the best thing you can do for yourself is catch a little germ. nothing wretched, mind you. just a little mercury-elevating, nose-clogging, mild-mannered bug.

nothing a little tylenol every six hours won’t shoosh away.

it’s the snow day without snow (although it looks at the moment as if we’ve been doused with plenty of that). it’s hibernation without being a bear in the back of the cave. it’s the traffic cop’s flat palm shoved in the face of a world that won’t brake for yellow lights.

so you grope for the medicine chest, and on the way you hit the pause button. you cough and you sneeze, you wipe your baby’s fevered brow. and for a few blessed hours you get the one thing that should be doled out in minimum daily requirements: peace, quiet, time to catch up.

while some of you are nestled under blankets–in broad daylight, mind you–sipping 7-up, quaffing jell-o, begging for gummy worms (because, silly you, you started a game where you were the mama bird and the sick little baby bird dozed in his fleece-blanket nest, fueled mostly on green wiggly worms made of 200 percent sugar), others of you get to go about business at 33 rpm, instead of the usual 78.

now, i am not recommending you go swabbing up sick houses, incubating bad gunk in your fridge, all in pursuit of a day without places to be.

but i am saying there are worse things than being stuck home with a stuffed-up nose.

maybe it’s that winter by now is getting the best of us. maybe it’s this cold that has chilled us to the very marrow of our old weary bones. maybe it’s as simple as the fact that climbing into and out of big rubber boots, zipping and unzipping eight layers of layering, losing and finding and losing again the warm woolen mittens (and even the backups), is getting to wear a bit thin.

sure a ticket to tahiti would help. but, folks, there is no travel counselor on speed dial at my house.

so instead we slow time the old-fashioned way, the way we learned back in our school days when we savored the day with a thermometer on standby next to our bed, a glass wrapped with a rubber band, so designated as a sick-person glass. it meant that while everyone else was shuffled out of the house in the morning, we got to sink our head back into the pillow. and while everyone else ate lunch out of a brown paper bag at a school desk, we got lucky and had noodle soup in a bowl on a tray carried up to our bed. so long as we didn’t slurp on the sheets, we were queen for a day.

and so it goes. all these years later. a little bit sick means a whole lot heavenly.

oh, if only we were smart enough to slow down without a dumb bug knocking us upside the nose.

at your house what slows you down, gets you to shut out a good dose of the world and the noise? and, by the way, does anyone else wrap a glass with a rubberband, or is that just my sweet mama’s very own brand of germ control? now passed from me to my boys. like a germ, maybe….