Rice Porridge for Dinner

So yesterday I bit down badly on a piece of nut, which hurt like hell, but I brushed and flossed and water-pic’d my teeth and went to bed a little sore but figuring I’d taken care of it.

Then I woke up around three in the morning with my jaw hurting like hell again, and a look in the mirror revealed a comic-strip caricature of a guy with a toothache, one side of his face swollen. Fortunately I remembered that I had some oil of cloves in the kitchen — I use it when I need to control an infestation of ants (smear some on the path the ants are using to get in, they hate the stuff) — but I also remembered from any number of nineteenth-century novels that oil of cloves is a traditional toothache remedy. Sure enough, I touched some oil of cloves to my jaw and felt better quickly. Took a couple of acetaminophen and a hot bath, too, and was feeling OK again in an hour and went back to bed.

Nearly a day later and the toothache pain hasn’t really returned, but my cheek is still noticeably swollen and a bit tender. Dave was very sweet to make me some yummy rice porridge with zucchini and grated ginger for dinner (he poached two eggs in the cooking porridge, too, for some protein). Yum. Tasty, gentle in flavor without being bland, and — most important — soft. Very little chewing needed. Rice porridge is Chinese comfort food, something Dave often has for dinner when he’s not feeling so hot, and it was perfect for me tonight.

Dave and I walked to Safeway shortly after sunset for more ice cream — I’d finished off the last bit of the vanilla ice cream we had this afternoon — and on the way we walked to the top of the BART parking garage to look at the planets. Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter were all visible with the naked eye and neatly lined up, though Jupiter was much the hardest to spot, being very close to the horizon and dimmed by the haze of pollution near the ground.

While we were looking for Jupiter, I noticed that, not far from where the star map on my phone said the planet should be, there was the glowing red sign of Target in Richmond. I pointed to it and said to Dave, “There it is! You can even see the Great Red Spot!”

Eating ice cream in bed this afternoon with a swollen jaw brought back strong memories of having my tonsils out when I was, what, maybe eight or nine years old — something I haven’t thought about at all in many, many years. Two weeks lying in bed with a bad sore throat and meal after meal of ice cream, jello, scrambled eggs, and not much else.

That was forty-odd years ago, when two weeks of bed rest after a surgery was regarded as a good thing. Now staying in bed that long is regarded as a risk factor in itself, partly because of the increased susceptibility to pneumonia. Compare with my surgery thirteen years ago: They opened up my freaking skull to remove a tumor from my brain, which was about a gazillion times more invasive and unsettling and debilitating than having my measly old tonsils out, and then they insisted that I start walking around the very next day.

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