It was an extra busy day, today.
It didn't help that when I woke up my hands were just aching, even after three days of doing nearly nothing with them. In fact, there was a hard little nodule just under the first palm joint of the middle finger of my right hand. I discovered it on the way to Dr. Weinburg's for my once every two week checkup. We'd had our good breakfast, with the requisite grapefruit, and then had made a whole list of questions on the way over in the Visor. My hand hurt enough that when we got to the appointment, I had John take the notes of what her answers were.
Quite a few questions were the result of our birthing class, and it was good to actually have questions of some substance for once. Usually the checkups have been "How is it going?" "Good as far as I can tell." and that's about it. The swollen hands I'd talked with them about before and the only answer they had was to wear the splints at night. I still had splints from when I was first diagnosed with hand problems, and I hate, hate, hate wearing them to sleep. But if it really was the only thing... I had to think about that. We also talked over various birthing options and choices that had been gone over in the classes with Dr. Weinburg and got answers that we were pretty happy with. We're still going to have to write up a birthing plan and find a pediatrician we can go to afterwards, but most everything else seems to be under control.
Looks like Dr. Imig's scale is a bit off from Dr. Weinburg's, which is why the sudden leap on the last visit and from the numbers I supposedly *lost* half a pound these last two weeks. Between everything, it looks like I actually only gained three pounds in the last four weeks, which is in the ballpark. That was very good to get cleared up. I had been left, last visit, with the feeling that I'd gained way too much too quickly. My impression this time was that I might still be a little bit behind, but not badly, as the baby's supposed to gain the most weight in these last two months.
One really nice thing is that she felt that hard lump on my right hand and said that it was just a cyst on my tendon. I could get it treated by my 'normal doctor', but she didn't think it really needed anything done to it. I don't have a regular doctor, but it was really nice to know that it really wasn't anything to worry about. John was mildly amazed that on being told that I actually, really, truly stopped worrying about it completely.
From Boulder we went to the Land Rover dealer to pick up some parts for the Baby Buggy that had arrived there. From there we went on to Denver and the Pacific Ocean grocery store. We were going to have to go to lunch and then to Cherry Creek so that I could actually spend my Origins gift certificate along with the two coupons that Origins, themselves, had sent me for my birthday and for Christmas. So I could get nothing frozen. The weather was cold enough that I could get refrigerated stuff without worrying about spoilage, but nothing frozen that could thaw. John was ultra-patient with me and we actually did go wandering up and down all the aisles. One of the surprise finds was a bottle of the clear liquid that the Chinese and Japanese use as baking soda. I had seen it in one of my Chinese cookbooks and I really wanted to use it to try and make bow with the texture of restaurant bow, which is more tender than the yeast-only dough. And the recipe required this liquid soda. It was cool to find it and buy it.
From the grocery store we went to the Empress and met up with Cary, A.J., Bob, Mei, Jamie, Ryan, Francis and their son, and Mei had invited another couple with a woman from Taiwan and her husband who had lived for a while in Japan, Beijing, and Taiwan. Mei was fascinated by the fact that the couple communicated using Japanese, and the woman's English was only mildly halting. She and Mei talked great guns during our dim sum lunch. John and I did most of the ordering, as we wanted to, and no one else really spoke up too much, and we had fun ordering a lot of things. The pu-erh tea was much more easily gotten when the waiters expected John to mangle it. The food was, as always, good, fresh, hot and yummy and we managed, this time, to not order way too much. It turned out just about right, and everyone had plenty of time to talk, socialize, and enjoy the meal. Yay!
Afterwards, the couple, the Hamiltons and John and I went to a Chinese restaurant supply store that John had managed to find in the yellow pages. The place was really impressive. Great gear at cheap prices, and lots of it. Lovely gas burner rings that Mei really wanted to look at, knives, pots, woks, chopstick, all kinds of stoneware, and gadgets useful in a Chinese kitchen. I got a small portion open wire thing that could be used to scoop out noodles or boiled dumplings out of a smallish pot. Useful for when I wanted to use the water to cook multiple batches of something, including and especially noodles for ramen. I also found a two quart plastic storage and container box that could double as a very large Tupperware or marinating box. Very solid and durable. All of that was less than ten dollars. That was very nice. Mei found a cheap whet stone, and the owner talked with her extensively about an outdoor gas burner for cooking outdoors with. It was interesting to listen to the conversation and find that I had no problems following it.
I seem to still have kept my understanding of Chinese. I am fairly sure that I won't be able to pass it onto the Fish, as it's not something that makes it easy to speak, which is what he'll need. The understanding seems to be at a deeper level than 'flipping it into English'. The man of the couple said that he had problems with multiple person conversations because he wouldn't figure out who was addressing whom and kept getting lost without tenses. He couldn't always figure out what was being said because without a tense, he couldn't flip it into English correctly. I realized that when I'm in a multi-person Chinese conversation, tense doesn't matter. The meaning, in Chinese, is often it's own thing, and it's only with conscious effort that I can actually bring it into English and it's more from the understanding level than a one-to-one correspondence.
It was really weird to realize that my understanding of Mandarine was at that level.
We took our leave of folks from there. Bob and Mei, however, also let John and I know that they were going to try and have a dinner with all their 20-some relatives next Saturday and we were invited. I'd volunteered, a while ago, to bring dessert for everyone, so, knowing it would be next week, I decided to go back to the Pacific Ocean Grocery store to get a few special things.
When I was a kid, one of the super-special treats Mom used to make for the potluck in the holiday season was a sweet, fermented rice soup. My memory included mandarine oranges, little sweet dumplings with black sesame paste, and egg whites dropped into the hot, sweet and citrus, mildly rice winey soup. It was something that Mom only did maybe once or twice a year back in Indiana. She actually soaked and fermented her own sweet rice to make this dish, and it was a work of weeks plus the careful cultivation of yeasts. It's how I learned sterile technique as a kid. The grocery store had the result of her careful fermentation in jars in the refrigerated section of the store! So I wouldn't have to do the hard bits, just putting together the resulting soup. They even had trays of the little, sweet rice flour dumplings filled with both red beans and sesame paste. They even had peanut and green bean varieties as well. I just picked up the red bean and the sesame ones along with the jar of fermented rice.
Mei had warned me that some of her family would want a more traditional dessert than chocolate cake or apple pie. This seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
From there we raced over to Cherry Creek and I had a really good time going through the whole store and getting things that intrigued me that I probably wouldn't have just bought normally. A milk bath, a bar of baby soap with a cloth duckie for putting it in to clean the kid, a large bottle of orange and lemon glycrine based hand cleanser (since I've been getting up three or four times a night, washing my hands that often has dried them out a bit and this was supposed to help), a two-handled loofah back scrubber, as well as refills on my face cleansers and the dead sea salts I so love. It was really nice to be able to get anything that caught my interest and eye. Baths just before going to sleep really helped me get to sleep, so it seemed a good thing to get things to help make baths more fun.
We still had to get Mom another birthday present, and we just couldn't think of what else to buy. We sat down in one of the Peaberry coffee shops to think and drink something. They had completely run out of juices, lemonade, and bottled water. I ended up getting an iced, decaf, vanilla latte that wasn't too sweet. The cold liquid felt really good. We'd never did really decide, so went to Lord and Taylor's, which had a store-wide sale going on. I need a pair of pajamas for after the birth, so on cold nights it'll be easier to breast-feed without freezing. We found a pair of flannel pajamas in tiger stripes that fit me even now, so I had no worries that it would fit me afterwards. The best thing is that between a markdown they'd already done and the new sale they were half off. I really liked that.
On the way back to the car we happened by a Harry and David's. I have been getting catalogs from them for months, but I never bought from the catalogs, just too expensive. I have bought stuff from their outlet stores, and this looked like one of them. They had a sign out front saying that the pears were here. I had heard a lot about the Royal Riviera pears, and I was curious as to the quality. Was it really that much better? When we walked into the cooler the sweet perfume of the scent of ripe pears surrounded us. John, who normally doesn't like pears, said that the scent of them was really nice. The store had the Maverick pears, the ones that are smaller than normal and a little bit blemished, but the same variety as their star pears. The price was also about a third off the catalog price, so we bought a five pound box. I wanted to try one. In San Diego my mom and dad get really great fresh produce, but if these were really as good as I thought they could be, they would be well worth sending.
We went home from there. There were three boxes on the porch when we got home. One was from Singer, and contained a ceramic framed mirror with a very interesting bronze glaze. Jason's was an entire box of Canadian Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars, nine in number for each month of the pregnancy. He had heard that I craved the Canadian or British variety of those candy bars, as the milk chocolate is far more creamy than the American versions. He was going to bring them to me at Orycon, but when he found that I couldn't go he decided to make a gift of them. That was very nice. I felt a little bit like a child in one of the British young adult novels tucking a few of the bars into the birthing bags as possible sustenance for a high adventure. The third box was from David, something he said he couldn't resist getting. It turned out to be tiny baby mittens. I think David really likes being an uncle.
The pear I tried was worth it. It was dense and creamy and sweet. Still just a little crisp as it wasn't fully ripened. There were instructions in the box about making sure that they'd get ripe when they got there, and then refrigerating them. But it was wine sweet with very even, dense flesh, not pebbly like some pears can be, and had promise of being something really, really good when it was ripe. John tried a bite and declared it good. It's fun to find a specific thing of a type that someone doesn't like that they can actually enjoy.
We were both fairly tired. John settled to play a very great deal of Ape Escape. Instead of doing anything that I should have been doing, including dictating the last few days, I sat down and watched as well. When he actually paused for reflection we both realized that I was pretty hungry and we had no plan for dinner. So we hopped into the Baby Buggy, drove east on 52, and ate at the diner. Simple, hearty food right there for the taking. John had a burger and I had an open-faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and vegetables and a large class of chocolate milk. It really hit the spot.
I only stayed up to drink a mug of mint tea. I had to try to milk bath. The stuff really turned the bath silky and white. There were also enough citrus oils to fill the air with their scent. It was very relaxing stuff. John managed to find my old splints, and even with them on, I went to sleep like a light turning off.
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