Sick of being sick.

Hello, readers. I’ve unexpectedly been away for a long, eventful couple of weeks. Mostly I’ve been knocked down by the worst cold known to man that won’t respond to antibiotics, Mucinex, antihistamine, Sudafed, Robitussin, cough drops, lemon tea (see below) or even my old friend Nyquil. I’ve spent much of the last two weeks laying around in my bed or on the couch partially buried in a mound of used tissues. (You’re welcome for that lovely mental image.) When I was little, my family went to these Saturday library sales,  and I found an old book called “The Sick of Being Sick Book.” Inside were dozens of games you can play while bedridden, like shooting a basket from across the room with your balls of Kleenex or cough drop wrappers. I sure could have used that self-entertainment recently, and I wonder where that book could be …

In the midst of all of that, my mom had unexpected, emergency surgery the week before Thanksgiving. I ran down there in time to check her out of the hospital and wait on her for a couple of days while she regained her strength. (Well, until I became the patient.) I was completely amazed at the generosity of family and friends, a whole community that came out of the woodwork to help us. They cooked meals and even organized a food delivery schedule to get us through Thanksgiving. They’ll pick up again with more deliveries on Monday.

I often feel like we’re losing or totally missing a sense community these days — it’s pretty common not to know your neighbors, at least everywhere I’ve lived. When I moved into my complex, a neighbor from across the courtyard came over to welcome me but then told me “not to expect anyone to make brownies for you. We’re not that kind of place.” Well, okey dokey. I never knew my neighbors in NYC either. Maybe we’d say hello in the hall or smile if we crossed paths in the neighborhood, but we were never “friendly.” Everyone I’m near pretty much just keeps to themselves, and I was okay with that until this weekend, when I saw how much we really need each other and how helpful we can be to those who need it. My belief in humankind has been restored, though it’s sad to think I’d lost it in the first place.

And then there was Thanksgiving. I hacked a lung through most of it, but did manage to eek out some pie, stuffing, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes as contribution. I also dragged myself out at 4 am for a productive session of Black Friday boy shopping. I hope you too had a dandy time with family and/or friends.

In honor of being sick, and because sick season is upon us, I want you to have my recipe for lemon ginger tea. I found it somewhere a few years ago, when I was getting sick every month. It’s not really “tea” but, like chicken soup, it’s a natural remedy for what ails you. The warm liquid, lemon and ginger are good for colds, and the honey coats a sore throat. Hey, throw a splash of bourbon or whiskey in it and you nearly have a hot toddy.

I’ve certainly ingested gallons of this in the past two weeks, and I hope it’s soothing to you when/if you need it.

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Lemon Ginger “Tea”

3-4 lemons, unwaxed or organic
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
honey

Boil a couple of cups of water in a saucepan or tea kettle. Peel the lemons to capture the yellow zest, avoiding the white pith as much as possible. Juice the lemons and add to a saucepan with the lemon peel. Chop the ginger into chunks or coins — there’s no need to peel it, though you can if you prefer. You’re going to strain the whole thing later. Add the ginger to the lemon juice and peel. Pour hot water over the ginger and lemon to cover by an inch and let it steep, covered but off heat, for at least 5 minutes. Strain the mixture into your mug and add honey or more water to taste.

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I also owe you recipes for Shepherd’s Pie and baked apples — I haven’t forgotten! Those are coming soon, promise.

 

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