The Gift of Restored Health

May27

A week ago I had surgery to remove a tumour on my kidney. The operation went as planned and I have been recovering right on schedule. But let me back up a bit to late September of 2015.

About a month ago I was changing for my first yoga class when a pain hit me that was so acute, I could not stand up straight. My doc has recently retired so I had to go to a walk in clinic. That doc suspected a kidney stone and sent me for an xray. A couple of days later, I was sent for a ct scan. I received the results of the scan just before my plane took off from Toronto to meet Doug in NYC. At this time the doctor informed me that there was some concern about my pancreas and kidney and that I required a contrast ct scan. So I headed off on our “trip of a life time” with this news.

This last ct scan was scheduled for when I was in Montreal so I had to postpone it until last week. D took me on Tuesday and because the tech indicated that it would be 3 days before my doc got results, we headed to Regina. Half an hour later, my doctor called to say that he must see me as soon as possible. This takes us to this past Friday afternoon. I was successful in not letting my fear overcome my times in NYC, Tuscany and Montreal but last week I went to a pretty dark place considering what might be ahead.

To the good news- my pancreas is clear and healthy! To the not-so-good news. I have a small (2.2 cm) malignant tumour on my kidney that will have to be surgically removed, hopefully keeping the rest of my kidney intact. Cancer Care also contacted me Friday and I will see a doctor within two to three weeks. My walk in doc indicates that I will be top priority since the tumour is so mall. I was so relieved by the pancreas part of the news that the kidney part seems like a piece of cake. I am sure that there will be tough times ahead but this weekend as we told the kids and my family, I am the happiest Glamma in the world!

I thank God for so many things, the obvious one being that I do not have pancreatic cancer. But also that he gave me the kidney stone in the first place or I would not have visited the walk in clinic that day.

Unfortunately, I was not considered a priority since my tumour was small, in fact when I finally saw my surgeon in December, he indicated that he would consider my surgery “elective”. This of course is good news but it took some time to process the news and decide when the most opportune time for surgery would be. I decided that by waiting for May I could enjoy Christmas, help with Isabelle when Josie came along in February, get away on our March trip to Isla and fulfil a teaching commitment that I had in the spring.

So one week post-surgery I can tell you that my capable surgeon was able to do the procedure laproscopically which meant instead of a considerable cut and scar, there are four small holes in my abdomen. This method quickens the healing process but actually makes for a more complicated surgical procedure for the doctor.  This week has produced the balancing act between pain management with T3s and the side effect that the codeine produces (and my desire to renew my lovely tradition of having a glass of red wine before bedtime).

Even thought the forecast is not the greatest, D is taking me out to the lake this afternoon. He will get me set up for my independent recuperation and the beach house is actually a better set up than home with no stairs and a smaller space to navigate. I won’t be taking my long walks on the beach or riding my bike to collect heart stones and drift wood but I will enjoy time in our solarium and sleeping with all the windows open.

But to the point of these musings: we are so blessed to live in a country where financial position does not dictate the access to healthcare and I am equally blessed by my loving family and circle of friends who walked this nine month journey with me. To all of you but especially D, thank you. I have felt your love and concern every step of the way.

Kath’s quote:” I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” -Voltaire

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Love never fails.

 

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Jonsey’s Restaurant & Lounge

May25

When spring arrives I love going for long drives with the sun roof open. Typically, an unvisited restaurant is my destination. Such was the case when I recently stopped in at Jonsey’s Restaurant & Lounge in Bird’s Hill. The restaurant was another of the locally owned places that Canstar readers suggested I visit. Even though I arrived for lunch rather late, the establishment was brimming with guests. The server was cheerful and helpful when I couldn’t decide what to order from the huge menu. She suggested the daily special and I was all set.

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I am guessing that the Mediterranean shrimp wrap was so named because of the unusual inclusion of artichokes and a bruschetta mix of tomatoes. The shrimp had likely been poached and were large and tasty enough to hold their own with the other intense flavours. When all wrapped together in a fresh flour tortilla the result was very satisfying, and might I add -filling. I had to package up half of the sandwich and take it home with me.

Perhaps I couldn’t finish the portion because of Jonsey’s addictive hand-cut shoe string French fries. The special came with a choice of fries, salad or soup. I couldn’t resist those fries, telling myself that I would just sample them and push the rest aside. So much for good intentions.

I am typically leery of a restaurant with such an extensive menu and the obvious goal of being all things to all people. For example on Jonsey’s menu you can find Butter Chicken, four kinds of poutine, Firecracker Shrimp Tacos, six burgers, Thai Lettuce Wraps, Pickerel, Chicken Parmigiana, six steaks and the menu indicates that they are famous for their ribs. Are they an East Indian, Thai, Mexican or an Italian restaurant? Are they a steak and seafood house or the place for ribs? Based on the packed restaurant and the delectable wrap that I sampled they are pulling it off, and more so.

The restaurant is easy to spot, just across the street from the Sobey’s in Bird’s Hill. There was plenty of parking in the adjacent lot.

Jonesy's Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.”-Miss Piggy

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Love never fails

 

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NYC Trip Report -Day 1

May16

Circumstances with booking our “free” flights to New York meant that D (Air Miles) had to depart the evening before me (Avion) and spend the night on an airport bench in Ottawa, whereas I slept in our own bed, flew through Toronto and met him at La Guardia. After I had boarded my flight from TO to NYC, I was just about to turn my phone to airplane mode, when I got a call. The Doc from a walk in clinic who had seen me regarding an unexplainable pain in my left side, sent me for an xray and was calling to say that they were concerned about two spots that were detected-one on my kidney and another on my pancreas. I reeled with that information and could not get to NYC fast enough to process the news with D. I told him within minutes of my touching down.

D is excellent with logistics and had figured out the most economical way to get from La Guardia to Newport where we were staying at an Air BnB. The bus had been packed and we could barely hear the stops that the driver was calling out. As a result, we missed our connections and ended up somewhere in Harlem. A lovely older man could see that we didn’t belong there and offered to help us figure out how to get back on track.

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After finally reaching our destination, we dropped our bags and headed out again, this time from Newport to Manhattan with very clear directions. We loved the congested streets of NYC with all of its hecticness.

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Our first stop was a place to buy a bottle of wine. Between the news en route and the difficult journey to our room, we both needed a glass of wine.

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We picked one up along with some bread and cheese and headed to Central Park

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where the sun was just going down on the other side of a row of skyscrapers.

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The October sun was warm and beautiful.

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Just as we were about to place our picnic blanket down, I spotted a beautiful white rose on the ground. I took it as a message that all would be well. Now, months later, I can report that there was no spot on my pancreas, even though there was indeed something on my kidney. I am scheduled to have the “something” surgically removed this week.

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I mistakenly put the cart before the horse.

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After our lovely picnic, we decided to wander through the park and see if there was something more substantial to share for our dinner. We had another light meal at Tavern on the Green and was well pleased.

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Still later, we walked the streets of the lower west side back towards our subway stop and came upon Benash’s Deli for our dessert stop.

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We ended our first evening in New York with this tall, cool, cheesecake that was the icing on the proverbial cake!

Kath’s quote: “I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of… our mental faculties”. -Steven Pinker

Love never fails.

 

 

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Winnipeg Wine Festival 2016 Gala Dinner

May13

Whenever I am invited to an event at the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre main building, I marvel at how they get so many elaborate dishes out while still piping hot, when their kitchen is no where near the space that we are dining in. On the occasion of the Winnipeg Wine Festival, the gorgeous room with floor to ceiling windows was in the newly opened expansion of the Convention Centre and I am guessing that the kitchen is in closer proximity.

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The origin of the wines for the 2016 festival were the wines of California. The festival is held each year to raise coffers for Special Olympics Manitoba . When we sat down at the big round dining tables, we were flabbergasted by the number of empty wine glasses lined up at each place setting. How could we possibly make our way through so many selections?

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We commenced with a California Style Spring Roll on a Mango Chutney. The spring roll had been stuffed with crab, lychee nuts, cilantro and avocado and had a subtle taste. Of the William Hill Estate Winery North Coast Chardonnay and the Fetzer Gewurztraminer, I preferred the latter. We love Gewurztraminers, either on their own as a summer drink or with spicy food like the heat radiating from the mango chutney. We were off to a great start.

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Preferring reds to whites, I quite enjoyed the Menage a Trois Silk that accompanied the Applewood Smoked and Sliced Chicken Breast on a Red Beet Carpaccio rather than the Girard Chardonnay. The full-bodied Silk retained bright red fruit flavors and smooth mouthfeel and was especially nice with the beet flavours.

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Up next was a Pesto Crusted Fillet of Salmon on a Wild Rice Risotto, napped with a roasted red pepper sauce. I was delighted when the fish course was paired with two reds instead of the customary white. It was a toss up between the Rodney Strong Merlot (I am partial to Merlots) and the decadent red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah of the Cupcake Black Forest.

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We could have happily laid down our forks and our wine glasses at this point but the piece de resistance was up next. The Seared Roast of Marinated Filet of Beef  was piping hot and perfectly prepared to a medium rare. The tenderloin came with two sauces: Madeira and Béarnaise, both exceptional. Served alongside were a yukon gold and California cheese galette, mushroom sauté, ratatouille stuffed zucchini and butter glazed steamed bok choy. The veggies were as perfectly prepared as the steak. By this time my taste buds were less discerning and I do not recall a preference between the Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon and Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel.

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I usually turn down dessert but when the Honeycomb and Kiwi Mousse in a Tuile Basket was perched in front of me, I couldn’t resist. Thinking that I would simply eat the fresh berries and chocolate curls on top, of course I didn’t stop until I had consumed the entire dish, and the dish itself! I got a kick out of the Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato which concluded the evening on a high and very sweet note.

Not only were the dessert and wine sweet but so was our company. Love you Sue, Ron, Laura & Shea.

Kath’s quote: “At the shrine of friendship never say die, let the wine of friendship never run dry.” – Victor Hugo

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Love never fails.

 

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Dinner with a New Friend

May12

I recently enjoyed dining with the Canstar reader and contest winner Michele Costen and her guest at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar original location on Garry St.

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As soon as we could stop talking about our favourite Winnipeg restaurants, Michele selected an appetizer of Baked Garlic Shrimp where shrimp had been baked in Café de Paris butter and topped with cheese. The butter is the same one used for Keg Escargot for persons who are interested in the decadent taste but are squeamish about tasting snails. Michele and her guest were determined to try something that might have typically been outside of their comfort zones. Michele apparently loved the piping hot and crunchy shrimp enhanced by the savoury flavours of the herbed butter.

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Her guest enjoyed the Shrimp Bisque that was on special that evening. She had recently supped on the seafood soup in San Francisco and was eager to compare. Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth of crustaceans. It can be made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. It is thought the name is derived from cooking the crustaceans twice like a biscuit for the shrimp are first sautéed lightly in their shells, then simmered in wine and aromatic ingredients, before being strained, followed by the addition of cream. In authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup. Julia Child has been said to have remarked, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing them down the drain”.

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Our fabulous waiter suggested that I might like to try a Blackened Steak where the steak was first coated with select herbs and spices and then finished with a dollop of herb butter.

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For her entrée Michele’s guest chose the Bleu Cheese Filet which came wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, smothered in a bleu cheese crust, then finished with roasted garlic cloves.

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Michele said that she was going to “go for it” and was happy to indulge in a Surf + Turf-a tender mini filet medallion and a petite Atlantic lobster tail.

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Crème brûlée (literally: burnt cream) was selected by Michele’s guest.

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Michele considered and then concluded that the famous Keg Billy Miner pie would be her choice. When dinner was over our conversations continued and could of extended long into the evening.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “We don’t make friends by accident, they were meant to cross our paths for a reason.” -Unknown

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Love never fails.

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