Kage Baker liked quiet weekends, post New Year. She preferred to spend those winter weekends, after the mad whirl of holidays, in a state approximating coma.
If she felt well, it was in a happy coma with sweets and lap robes and new computer games. The last of the Yuletide chocolates and various holiday meats: prime rib and ham and turkey, all three having strutted it on the culinary stage through the 12 days of Christmas.
Yorkshire pudding with cranberry sauce. Fruitcake fried with gravy. If you think I’m kidding, you have no idea of Kage’s determination to taste test recipes out of nursery rhymes – if King Arthur was reputed to have fried it up next morning, Kage was willing to try it. Me, I have simpler tastes; salami, chocolate coins and such like finger foods were enough for me.
If we were feeling ill, things were … different. And usually, there was a general health collapse in our household sometime during January. Accumulated holiday crowds, multiple weekends of Extreme Christmas in the concrete byre of the Cow Palace: if it wasn’t The Crud (a formal name for our localized grippe and consumption pastiche), it was whatever extraterrestrial influenza had been circulating through our local mall.
Kage believed in treating respiratory illnesses with alcohol. Her long-time anodyne was wine coolers, until we figured out that the tannins in the wine made her congestion worse. After that, she stuck to rum punch and hot toddies, wheezing around the paper umbrellas stuck in the lemon slices … I cannot really claim it made her feel better, but Kage always said it made her feel like someone else. Which was an improvement over being her with the flu.
I’ve spent the last month or so being seriously ill. Cardiac stuff and similar crap … but I have stayed home and conserved my strength, taking all my meds like a sensible person. A couple of weeks ago, though, I started to sneeze. Incessantly. Continuously. I generally explode in the middle of the night, and sneeze for about an hour: then my brains turn to snot and I drown. I’ve been going through a box of tissues per night. Geese fly overhead and bugle to me as their queen …
There have been hilarious near-misses with my CPAP mask. There have been even more last minute clawing off the mask and flinging it across the room, with a fusillade of enormous sneezes. It’s lucky I need to sleep sitting up in the recliner, as otherwise the CPAP machine would have consumed me like a plastic kraken.
Kimberly has been keeping me alive with ginger snaps, hot coffee and soup. Especially hot chicken broth with an assortment of noodles – pho, ramen, plain old Campbell’s. Tonight was wonton, which are really just ginormous noodles with stuff in. In chicken broth, with soy sauce. The primeval soup, in my opinion, wherein our ancestors discovered all the appetites that enabled us to evolve in the first place.
Another couple days, and I’ll have re-evolved into something human again. Or into something that has sneezed its nose off and achieved some sort of nasal Nirvana.
And that’s all right.