a spirit-lifting banana bread

We missed a Gator football game last weekend, despite having had season tickets for years and years.  It was a big deal, missing that particular game, the Florida-LSU game.

I’ve been known to skip a game or two – okay, maybe even three – during the college football months. My usual reasons are: (1) work; or (2) the game will be over too late; or (3) it’s too darn hot; or (4) I just want to stay home and bake something and write and sit quietly, in a quiet house, with air conditioning, and access to clean bathrooms. My husband, though, he never skips a home game. Like, ever, in 20-plus years.

Sam injured his back a couple of months ago, during a workout, when he heard and felt a pop during one of the exercises. Over time, his symptoms worsened, an MRI showed a nasty ruptured disc, and he’s now seen an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon. There was an epidural injection last week (fingers-crossed that it was fungus-free), and there may be surgery in the future.

So we stayed home last weekend and skipped the game.

chasing ice cubes, and a recipe for swiss steak

Maggie, our silver tabby Maine Coon, is fascinated by ice. Ice speaks to her on some deep, internal feline level. Q-tips from the glass jar on my bathroom counter run a close second, but the availability of ice is more predictable and, thus, a more achievable treat.

The refrigerator in our kitchen, our third and final fridge after a series of expensive lemons, has an automatic icemaker. To fill a cup with ice, I touch of a small raised square on the space-age keypad to left of the door handle. This elicits a grinding rumble from inside the door, and if I’ve pressed the cubed ice button, I get a noisy expulsion of perfectly formed ice cubes into my cup. If I have mistakenly pressed the button for crushed ice, a shotgun explosion of ice chips and shards is the result.

More often than not, when trying to fill a cup with ice, a stray piece shoots across the hardwood floor. A streak of grey fur, a blur of fluffy feet and tail, inevitably follows that piece of wayward ice, as Maggie attempts to corral the skittering ice. When she catches the ice, she bats it across the floor again, or she picks it up in her teeth and carries it to a special spot. Watching her do this makes my own teeth hurt, imagining the cold that must be radiating down her sharp canines.

saying thanks with dinner, and pound cake for a crowd

After a productive but exhausting two weeks, I wrapped things up by making dinner for my team of medical students, internal medicine residents, and hematology-oncology fellows. Most of them are continuing on for the remainder of the month, before switching to another rotation in the hospital. That’s one of the quirks – and necessities – of an academic (i.e., teaching) hospital – no one is on the same hospital floor, on the same service, for more than a month or so.

We did good work during those two weeks that I served as the attending. We held hands with our patients. We listened to their stories. We did all we could to relieve our patients’ pain, their suffering. We gave people cancer diagnoses, and we treated their cancer. We helped people die comfortably, in peace and with dignity.

My team did all of this, while I mostly just had to supervise.

I thanked them with dinner.

When I was an internal medicine intern, my very first rotation in the hospital was on the gastroenterology service. I worked much longer hours back then, hours that make me cringe when I think about them now. That first month flew by, mostly in a sleep-deprived and adrenaline-fueled blur, but I came away from it with a couple of vivid memories.