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Did He Just Say “Trichinosis”?

Ham is a tough topic in our house. Ham is tough because, frankly, it comes from a pig.

And until a few days ago, everyone thought all meat came from chicken. I mean, they ate hamburgers, bacon, sausage and the like, but Joseph called hamburgers and steak “black chicken,” and ham was “pink chicken.” I know this sounds a little frighteningly naive coming from an eight-year-old but he was eating, the siblings were eating, why rock the boat?

Well, Edward, never one to eat pork of any kind, finally called a spade a spade and announced that ham was pig.

And that was cool with everyone except somehow that started a lengthy conversation on foodborne illness which progressed, (or digressed, depending on how you look at it), to the point of Googling statistics regarding how many trichinosis cases there are per year in the US (about 12). And learning that wild bear and cougar are other major sources of trichinella infection. And that has led to a heightened interest in all things epidemiological.

(Sometimes when starting to answer questions about topics like this, I think to myself, “Why am I talking about this? This will just come back to haunt me.” And usually it does.)

So H is at Publix with Edward and they approach the meat area where Lee, the “food barker” or demonstrator, is trying to promote a pork tenderloin recipe. Edward sums up this foodborne threat immediately. He turns to a shocked patron reaching for one of these porky morsels and cries out for all to hear, “Lee is undercooking the pork! He doesn’t know about trichinosis! Everyone who tries it is going have worms living in their muscles!”

The scowling Lee begins to shuffle around uncomfortably. (I mean he’s wearing a hairnet and serving pork chunks in the meat aisle of a Publix and now he’s being berated on food safety by what looks like a 4-year-old.)

An elderly lady turns to H and asks in a hushed voice “Did he just say trichinosis?”

“Oh yes, he did,” a proud H replies.

Posted on 10 July '08 by , under "Did He Just Say ?". 4 Comments.

More Wisdom from the ER…Trip IV

It’s become a tradition around here–get close to the weekend and have a trip to the ER.  It’s gotten so crazy that I frequently receive emails from some of you saying something to the effect of “Here’s a cool meme if you can break yourself away from the ER.”  Seriously.

Let me begin with asserting that I adore going to the grocery store alone.  Love it with a grand passion!  I relish plopping my purse in the conspicuously empty seat part of the cart, looking at all the others struggling with their three or four children, glancing knowingly to the tired, worn mother wrestling her brood, and then perusing my own grocery list…my mind clear and unfettered with questions about trichinosis and why we can’t buy foods with Blue Lake 3 and Red 40 food dyes.

I will be able to actually calculate which purchases are mathematically cromulent with a “buy-one-get-one-free” offer.  So after I had leisurely shopped (45 minutes), paid, allowed a sweet Publix friend to take my groceries to the van, turned up some Casting Crowns, cruised out of the parking lot feeling that all was right with the world, my cell phone rang.  Not unusual.

I scrambled around my purse, grasping for the phone but snagging a linty craisin and old buppie instead.  Immediately it rang again in succession.

I grabbed it, only to hear, “Come home right now, drop everything.  I’ve called an ambulance.”


It’s amazing how the mind races with the possibilities when receiving a phone call like that.  Fear runs through your veins like ice crystals.  A rush of prayer-pleas filled my brain for about 10 seconds.  Then I had to redial.

“Just tell me was it for Grandmama or one of the children?”  “Grandmama,” he replied.  And then I sighed slight relief, and partial guilt for that relief.

Most of you know that H’s 88-year-old grandmother has been staying with us for several weeks, and has been in and out of the ER during those weeks.

When I burst in the door, Grandmama was lying on the ground, pale, gray and clammy.  My children, thank goodness, had been shuttled outdoor with a neighbor and were joyfully busy covering themselves in fire pit soot.

As is the case with such traumas, time stood still as ambulance personnel stabilized her, asked us pertinent questions, and retrieved her medications.  My husband hopped in the ambulance and off they roared.

The house was eerily silent for a moment.  I stood still, watching dust motes rise and fall in the sunlight, and reflecting on what might have happened and what might happen in the future.  We don’t have any guarantees (other than that of our Salvation should we elect to receive it).  Not at three, not at 42 and not at 88.

And then I looked outside to see my three-year-old rubbing black soot on her legs and face.  This snapped me back into reality and gave me purpose!  I scrubbed her down haphazardly and shuttled all three children off to the Perfume Stalker’s.

(Again, a friend who will receive three soot-covered, shoeless, unfed children is a friend indeed.)

It turns out that Grandmama did not have a stroke as was suspected but only an electrolyte imbalance due, again, to blood pressure medicine.  She actually came back home that same night.  Yet the blessing in the whole affair centered around conversations that H was able to have with her during the ambulance ride and after as she rested in the hospital.

While he did not go into great detail, I believe he was able to tell her what a blessing she has been in his life; he grasped that coveted chance many of us miss or neglect–that often ignored opportunity to let important people in our lives know how much they mean to us…that chance to say goodbye in a certain sense and to make sure nothing remains unsaid.

I, too, seized (or more likely was pushed by God to seize) those opportunities with my own grandmothers before they passed, and it has given me such great comfort throughout the years.  I will post about that at a later date, but today I just felt led to pass this story along…for no particular purpose…just to pass it along.

Have a blessed day!

Posted on 16 October '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 26 Comments.

It doesn’t go so well for the child star…

So H. took Edward to Publix to get more organic beef for “meat disks”–one of the few foods our picky sweetheart will eat.  He dips them in approximately 1/2 cup of ketchup.  At least it’s protein and it’s GF/CF-free.

Anyway, at the store, who did they run into first?  The famous “Lee” from the trichinosis days.

“Look–there’s Lee again–I’ll bet he’s under-cooking some more meat!  Let’s go see him!”  Edward cried.  Lucky for Lee, he was proffering samples of Breyer’s Chocolate Mint ice cream today.  Not a lot of food-borne illness peril there.

Still, our spontaneous songwriter was able to craft a song on the spot: “Ecoli makes you die.  Ecoli makes you die.”  It’s cheerfully sung to the tune of “Hell, No, We Won’t Go.”  According to H, he “sing-chanted” this throughout the store to the great amusement/concern of many shoppers.  That is, until he ran upon this tantalizing read:

“Why am I not a child star?  I should be a child star?  If I can’t be the ‘strongest boy in the world’ like Richard Sandrak, at least let me be a child star!”

H finally couldn’t take it anymore, so he blasted the poor 6-year-old with the cold, hard, brutal truth:  “Let me just tell you the truth, son: it doesn’t go so well for the child star.  You know those child stars end up either drunk, in jail or lost.”

OK, this is just a recipe for disaster for the next 6 weeks–an obsession with child stars, their neurosis, alcoholism, dyfunctionality–you name it.

It’s the first thing he can discuss with the woman checking the groceries.  “I’m sure you know all about the problems with child stars.  I am not a child star.  Child stars are usually drunks, and they are lost.”

“Did he just say something about child stars being drunks?” the checkout woman asks H.  “He’s a lot, isn’t he?”

“I believe so,” H replied.

And then, to the poor boy taking out the groceries:  “Have you ever been in jail?”

Posted on 3 August '08 by , under "Did He Just Say ?", GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 6 Comments.

Damned with Faint Praise

While hospitality is not particularly high on my list of spiritual gifts, and my friends are secretly thankful due to my woeful lack of kitchen creativity, I am a member of a little “suppah club,” as we call it down here, and this Friday night is my night.

(I was actually supposed to host this event at my home four months ago, but that was in the middle of removing/saving Edward from the computer magnet academy Kindergarten class, and I was far too stressed to prepare food for my own family, much less this supper club set.  Instead, I offered to bring several bottles of red wine to the only brown bag restaurant in this chain-restaurant obsessed town and everyone agreed unanimously that this was much safer and pleasant for all involved.)

I dodged that bullet only to come back on the rotation for July.  So H, being the kind, generous, supportive husband that he is, offered to go to Sam’s with Edward to procure the items I needed for this most basic sort of menu: Pork Tenderloin, Baked Potatoes, Garlic Green Beans and Banana Pudding.

This is sort of a pinnacle menu for me, and H has offered to grill the tenderloin and prepare the green beans, therefore leaving me unfettered to focus on the pudding and starch because, as he encourages, “You are so good with the baked potato.”

And if that’s not damning with faint praise, I don’t know what is.

(If all else fails, I do have a giant Cheez Whiz Spaghetti casserole sitting in my freezer. It’s been waiting in the wings for the next shut-in, and I relish the security of this preparedness like Pa would a smokehouse full of venison.  Note the Kinnickkinnick gf/cf bread in the upper left-hand corner–Edward’s favorite!)

Edward watches H carefully select the super packs of pork tenderloin.  He screws his face into his signature snarlish growl.  “Not PORK!  Have you forgotten about trichinosis?  How long are you going to cook it?  No one should eat this!”

Of course, he blathers on and on about foodborne illness and trichinella worms until H bribes him with Brewsters.  He quiets down with the promise of his favorite casein/color/artificial flavor-free lemon sorbet.

Fast forward to the Brewsters.  H and Edward are waiting in line.  A young man approaches the window carrying a largish zebra-striped purse that he is apparently planning to give to his girlfriend who works at the Brewsters.  Edward immediately bellows:

“Look at that hip hop man carrying that purse.  Now that is just wrong!”

Another father leans over to H, amused concern in his eyes, and kind of whispers: “Did he say ‘hip hop man’?”

“Yep…’fraid so.”

Posted on 24 July '08 by , under "Did He Just Say ?", GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Huswifery. 3 Comments.