Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ain't no time for the summertime blues

So here we are, sitting around on a beautiful sunny summer day in Ventura. Our major surgeries appear to be behind us and we're both working on healing and regaining at least some of our former strength and endurance.

Rob has been declared officially disabled because he is legally blind in his bad eye and can't drive or operate heavy machinery. We're not sure how much better his sight is going to be. We have to wait until he's fitted with glasses to know exactly where he'll end up.

I'm walking almost cane-free for the first time in a year. My knee feels almost completely healed. It swells sometimes if I'm on it too much and is a little stiff going up and down stairs. But mostly it's pretty strong and flexible and there's no pain when I walk on it.

My bad right ankle is proving a bit more dicey than I had realized. The foot wants to collapse inward, despite the metal rod stuck through it. It's also screwed on at a weird angle. My heel hits normally when I put on shoes, but my toes are riveted to the side -- a 10-degree angle my doctor said, proudly. Only thing is, my feet really don't WANT to be at a 10-degree angle and are perfectly happy just being straight up and down like everyone else's.

I'm not sure if there's much I can do about it. I bought some running shoes with lots of support to force the foot into an upright position. My physical therapist, Ryan, said if I didn't get into the support shoes the ankle was sure to collapse. It kind of looks as though I have two left feet right now. But I am able to walk and I can stand in lines a bit better than I used to. I'm hoping the tendon will continue to heal and the situation will improve.

I'm also stuck with a big old lump on my right hip. I need to see my doctor about it, but it doesn't hurt or anything. It's just gross-looking -- like a small baby's head just sticking out of my hip, with skin all puckered up under it. And I'm so sick of going to the doctor that I've been avoiding it. I suppose I should get it out of the way, but it will require some surgery to debride it, which will hurt, at least for a little while.

All in all, though, we're starting to be able to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I'm able to get around and I'm doing more stories for the Ventura County Star, which is fun. I really should never have gone to the copy desk. It's not where my heart lies. I really enjoy writing and gathering news much more. And I really, really love freelancing. I don't enjoy working with people; they get on my nerves for the most part. I can sit at home in my office/dining room, with the big, glass window that overlooks our thriving garden and plant-filled patio, and listen to birds as I type my stories. Sweet.

Fair time is looming and I want to at least enter a couple of things. So this is one of my favorite times of the year as I start making some trial recipes to decide what to enter. Gen, of Sean and Gen, was saying she wanted to maybe enter and encouraged her. It's so much fun. Even if you do end up with the dreaded "honorable mentions" that I got last year.

One of the things that happens in the summer for me is I get a small sweet tooth, mainly because of ice cream. Like about everyone, I love ice cream. I've discovered those teenie little Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Daas containers. They give you just one small serving, which is usually 260 calories. They come with small spoons so you can eat them really slowly. I love them because you keep your portions under control and you can get a nice taste of yummy ice cream.

Unfortunately, I also made another, potentially lethal discovery last summer when I was visiting Courtney and Dave in Ohio. I discovered you can make an absolutely wonderful, tasty hot fudge sauce just using the microwave. It's also possible to make this in a low-carb version if you use unsweetened chocolate and Splenda, which I did for Courtney, who is on a low-carb plan.

This is so easy to make and one thing I love is that the sugar doesn't have a chance to melt, so it gives it a nice crunch, along with the deep fudge flavor. And it hardens on the ice cream the way good fudge should -- not quite as hard as Magic Shell, it's more fudgy.

Microwave hot fudge sauce

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (use the best quality available -- I use Gharadelli's -- it makes all the difference)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring
heavy cream to desired consistency

Heat the chips in a microwave-safe mug by heating them on high for 20 seconds. Stirring, then heating for 20 seconds, then stirring, repeating until the chips have melted. Add butter and stir in. Add sugar, vanilla and almond flavoring and stir. You can heat it for another 20 seconds if it starts to thicken too much. Add heavy cream and stir until you have the consistency of hot fudge sauce. Heat for 20 seconds and serve over ice cream. It's unbelievable over coffee ice cream, BTW.

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