You know how the name of this blog is "Barefoot Kitchen Witch?"
The "barefoot" comes from – big surprise – the fact that I prefer to go sans socks or shoes if at all possible. You probably already knew that or you figured it out.
Yesterday was my favorite kind of day, almost. Clouds and showers and wind. Didn't like the humidity, but hey, you can't have everything.
I had grand plans – bake some bread and make ravioli. I've been wanting to try this particular recipe for a while now and finally I had all the ingredients and the time to do it.
The ravioli is filled with a mixture of meat and spinach, and rather than go out and buy spinach, I harvested the following from our garden – 3 huge bunches of swiss chard, 2 enormous pak choi, several baby arugula plants, some parsley, some basil……….I think that was it. But there was a lot of "it." The recipe calls for 2 cans of spinach. It's an old recipe – I'll talk more about it when I post it eventually – and that will depend on how the pictures look – and so cans of spinach would have been the norm. But you know how spinach and other leafy greens are – they look big and impressive when you yank them up by the roots from your garden, but once you chop them up and steam them, they shrink.
So I thought – I'm going to need WAY more than just the swiss chard. That's why I grabbed everything that looked like it would work well. (I left the cabbage alone.)
So I trimmed leaves and rinsed well in cold water and chopped them up and steamed them and that part was all set. I did that, by the way, on Saturday. So Sunday, all I had to do was make the sauce, cook the meat, make the filling, make the pasta dough, form the ravioli and cook them. (The recipe also calls for leaving them out to dry overnight, but with all our cats prowling around, that would be a disaster.)
Okay, so back to Sunday. The bread was in progress, the sauce was bubbling, and soon it would be time to cook the meat and put the filling together. I also needed to make some space on the counter so I could roll out the pasta dough eventually. My bowl of compost stuff was ready to overflow, so I figured I'd get rid of that stuff first. Besides, it was hot in the kitchen (bread baking at 400 degrees) so a stroll through the damp grass seemed like a nice interruption.
I carried the compost container outside. The cold, wet grass felt good on my feet. The air, despite the humidity, had that feeling of "autumn's coming" to it, and I looked at tomato plants to see if there was anything ripe enough to pick while I was out there.
We've got several garden spiders living near the compost bins. Makes sense – the perfect place for them to trap flies. I don't mind them being there – I think they're pretty, and their webs are huge and stunning. I just don't want to walk into one of the webs if they decide to change locations. So I paused by the corner of the garage to scope out the path and make sure there were no new webby developments along my walkway. There were none. I dumped the vegetable trimmings, said hi to the one spider visible and admired the webs. Then back past the garage and into the yard.
I walked past the white clematis blooming on the lattice beside the garage, past the garden bench and the overgrown ornamental grass growing around it and up through the slats in the seat.
And then it happened.
Suddenly there was something sharp and extremely painful sticking me on the underside of my right big toe. Like a splinter, only…more persistent. More…on fire.
Now…I have a dread of sharp things sticking the undersides of my feet. I know it's a common enough phobia – sharpthingstickinginthebottomofthefootophobia is the scientific name. You've probably heard of it. I know exactly where mine originated. I was seven years old, and I had a plantars wart on the ball of my left foot. I don't think Doctor Scholl had been born yet, or if he had, he had only invented wooden-soled flip-flops and hadn't gotten around to the wart removal stuff yet. So I had to go to the doctor – the REAL doctor, not the flip-flop-making doctor – to have this taken care of.
And though he was a very, very wonderful doctor – he delivered me and my sister – delivered me without doing a c-section, even though I was a breach, so yeah, it can be done – I hated going to his office. It was a beautiful office, with a huge red leather chair for the patient to sit in while he asked questions…but it was also the chair of torture. The high back was perfect for cornering small kids who didn't want tongue depressors stuck in their mouths.
But I digress. (That could be the name of this blog, come to think of it.)
So I had to go see Dr. N. to get rid of this thing on my foot. Up til that point, I had lived a rather happy and carefree life, free of pain save for the occasional scraped knee. But no tonsil problems, no broken bones…none of the painful realities of life. Until that day.
I followed Dr. N to the exam room – where the exam table, steely and shiny, waited. My mother and the nurse escorted me, probably to make sure I didn't run. But I had no desire to run. Yet.
They had me lie down on the table and Dr. N removed the white Keds sneaker from my left foot and took a look. He conferred a bit with the nurse and my mother, but I wasn't listening, really, and even if I had been, I wouldn't have suspected what was to come.
And then he got the needle. It must have been a foot long – really. He said he had to kill the root of the wart. He also told me to lie still. Huh? Warts have roots?? Like trees? I was still pondering that when I felt the first sharp pain in my little delicate tootsie.
And I flinched. I probably recoiled and was ready to fling myself to the floor, but the nurse and my mother – one on each side of the table – stopped me.
And then the awful words. "Well, I'm going to have to do that again, because you moved." Out came the big needle again, and with the nurse and my mother practically prone across my struggling little body, kindly Dr. N JAMMED the needle into my foot.
I am sure I made them all aware of the pain I felt. The pain I felt TWO TIMES because – silly me – I moved the first time.
And then after he injected the wart-root-killing stuff into the right place, he proceeded to kill the wart. I really don't know what he was actually doing. I just know it involved my poor little foot, and that if I moved, he might have to start all over again.
Got that? So I really don't like pain in my feet. And you'd think that, because of that, I would wear some sort of footwear all the time. But I don't. I like to live on the edge.
Back to yesterday. OW. Pain – sharp, small, burning pain. I stood on one foot and looked at the bottom of my other foot, looking for maybe a thorn or an unlikely splinter. There was nothing to see. But there, on the wet ground, was the culprit. A little yellow jacket writhed in the wet grass.
Ah. That's what happened. I haven't had that happen since I was a little kid. A summer's day, my sister and I running back and forth under the sprinkler in the back yard. Frolicking happily, until one of us stepped on a waterlogged honeybee and got stung and all the fun ended for the moment. Both of us got stung the exact same way that day. Each of us, right underneath a little piggy toe.
So yesterday, after I saw the little yellow jacket and figured out what the pain was from, I hobbled/limped/hopped/skipped/looked really silly back to the house as quickly as I could manage – my foot burned.
I threw the empty compost container on the counter and hiked my injured foot up to the sink so I could look at it again (good thing I'm pretty flexible – it took some contorting to get a good view) to see if the stinger was there (no) and to run it under some water.
Ow, ow, ow. I wanted to be a little kid and have permission to cry. But no. That era has passed. Bill hovered on the periphery "what can I do?" – I told him to get me the baking soda. In the pantry. The big orange box. It should be right THERE because I just put it away. He found it. I had him pour some in a little bowl and I mixed it with a bit of water and was about to slap some on the general underside-of-the-toe area when he suggested using that "After Bite" stuff we bought for camping trips. It's for stings, too. Fine, I'll take whatever you've got. So he grabbed that from the bathroom and I tried to apply it to where the sting might be originating. "It's gonna hurt, " he warned. "It already DOES," I pointed out. I didn't notice any additional pain, so either I missed the point of entry or it just didn't have the same pain-making power that my little buzzing friend did. I slapped some of the baking soda-and-water paste on my foot and hobbled into the living room so I could sit.
I also called my sister. "What do I mix with baking soda for a yellow jacket sting?" I greeted her. "Ammonia" – that's what I had thought. I didn't have any. Then Bill said that's what was in the After Bite stuff. Oh. Okay. So I mixed that with the baking soda and patted that into place and waited for relief. And I admitted to my sister that yes, I'm a bad mother, bad wife, failure as a human being because I don't have any ammonia in the house. I thought I did, but no.
Despite this pain – and the ugly swelling of my already-ugly big left toe – I persevered. I finished the bread, I made the ravioli filling, I made the pasta dough, and I put the ravioli together, cooked it, and served dinner to my waiting
parasites family (JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE PARASITES THING!!!!!!!!). They all loved the ravioli – no, wait, Julia didn't because she'd fallen asleep earlier and isn't all that hungry or jolly when we wake her up from a nap.
After dinner, I sat. Foot UP. Gradually the sharp stinging/burning faded to a dull, sometimes sharp but mostly throbbing and really annoying constant reminder of why some people wear shoes outside. My husband suggested that I might want to give that a try.
I'll think about it.