If, at the end of a long drive home from seeing and tending to your ailing loved one, you embrace the reality that the snot virus you have been dodging all week is your One True Destiny and it is time to go to bed, it follows that a ewe of your immediate acquaintance will get a lamb stuck in her birth canal right as you select the pj’s that best suit your level of self-pity.
If you suit up in lamb-catching gear and follow your husband outside, it follows that the patient will be one of the skittish ewes that are hard to convince of your being motivated by her own best interests, and so you will be standing about in the cold, dark night for quite a while, trying to keep very still and feeling your toes freeze.
If you finally succeed, despite your mutual lack of interest in doing so, in sticking your gloved hand up her cootchie and easing out the lamb, it follows that she will immediately dash off into the night without a backward glance, in order to prevent your doing anything like that to her ever again, leaving you with the wet and understandably dismayed newborn lamb.
If you accept your husband’s plan to back off a ways and see if she circles back to the lamb, fast enough that it doesn’t freeze as hard as your toes, it follows that taking the rubber gloves off will remind you that your nice warm real gloves are right next to the lamb, in the area you have just vacated and agreed to foreswear for about twenty minutes. Now that your hands are free of sheep-cootchie stuff for the first time in about half an hour and you can finally reach into your pocket, this is also a good time to note that you have truly exhausted the one tissue that was in there.
If she does in fact circle back and bond nicely with the lamb, allaying any concerns that it will be abandoned there in the field, it follows that this is when the coyotes will begin to howl. This has to be one of the most galvanizing sounds perceptible to the human ear. There will ensue a Keystone Cops episode of great hilarity to someone other than the four mammals directly engaged in it; the story starts something like, “how about we put the lamb in the barn and you come along with it?” There are ewes that will follow right along when you do that. Some even get the idea and go AHEAD of you to the barn, to grab a few minutes of me-time while you’re watching the baby. This is not, as it happens, one of those ewes. BLAAAA? BLAAAA!! Go through the gate? Why?! WHAT barn? Is there a lamb? Is it mine? Where is it? Where are those gloves from before? WheresMyLambOhMyGodI’dBetterGoBackToTheField. BLAAAAAA. Round the barn, to the north! Round the barn, to the south! Back to the gate! Lather, rinse, repeat.
If you succeed after a mere 98 attempts to put mother and baby in a little pen with some shelter, it follows that your little dance of victory will be heckled by a coyote who from the sound of things must be sitting about ten feet beyond the narrow wedge of illumination cast by your trusty solar-powered flashlight, and you will spend the rest of the night not particularly sleeping, between the fear of coyotes, the fact that QuikKrete cement has invaded your cranial passages, and the unfortunate choice you made earlier in the day, when the batteries ran out on your personal electronic device while you were driving, to listen to The Best Hits Of The 70’s and 80’s on your FM dial. Even on my favorite table, he can beat my best!
If the day dawns bright and shiny with all present and accounted for, it follows that when your son comes home from school, he will think he is coming down with your cold. Oh, drat, you will think, forecasting a double run on tissues and tea, and hauling your sorry rear back to bed.
If in the pre-dawn hours, you finally overcome the sleep-stymying effects of your plywood tongue, resonantly aching joints and continued earworm woes (He’s got crazy flipper fingers! Never seen him fall!) with some focused meditation, it follows that how wrong your son was in his self-diagnosis will be conveyed by his sister’s 6am announcement that it was in fact the stomach flu that was gunning for him, and it has fired, all over everything.
If (and I promise this is the last sad and implausible thing I will tell you), after swabbing the decks, you drag your self-pitying behind down to the kitchen to make the 411th cup of tea of the last 24 hours, your eyeballs and brain clattering around in your head like billiard balls, it follows (really!) that you will look out the window (this really happened!) and see a BALD FRICKING EAGLE IN YOUR YARD, heading for Lamb Town.
Someone will ask you if you took a picture of the eagle. You did not.
Small wonder my tastes are running to fast food at the moment. There is a soup you can get at any Thai restaurant—you know the one I mean? Sour and salty and spicy. Restorative. Not hard to achieve a passable version at home, it turns out, as long as you have access to a supermarket with even a passable Asian aisle and can operate a can opener. You can enhance it with little broccoli florets or some other vegetal thing if you like (baby corn makes me feel (in a good way) like I am sitting under a large painting or embroidered wall hanging of an elephant; sliced white mushrooms are a common addition, too), if there are no land-based or airborne predators circling the premises.
I do not have a picture of the soup for you, because it has not been that kind of week, but as a consolation prize, I do have that nice picture up there of one of the dogs sleeping in the sock basket while we battled the germs. She was on the unsorted-sock side. Later on in the afternoon, she moved to the sorted socks.
And then, to cap off the day, she moved back.
Tom kha gai Serves 2-4
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 quart of chicken broth
- 1-2 teaspoons of Thai red curry paste
- 1 T fish sauce
- 1 stalk lemongrass, outermost husk removed, halved lengthwise, bulb end slit or smashed
- 3 or 4 slices of fresh ginger root
- 1 boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
- or ½ # tofu, cubed
- large handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- handful of fresh Thai or regular basil, coarsely chopped
- juice of 1-2 limes (about 2T, or to taste)
Optionally, some cooked and drained cellophane (bean thread) or rice noodles, divided among the bowls of the recipients.
Bring the coconut milk, broth and seasonings to a boil and let them simmer about ten minutes. Fish out the ginger and lemongrass if you don’t want anyone encountering them accidentally.
Mix in the remaining items and let the chicken cook through. Taste and correct the seasoning as you like. Divide among the bowls. Keep an eye on the yard for tigers.