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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Third Plague

Two days ago, as I saw the mid-March snow/hail through the window, all I could think about was the exact moment in which I would cross the automatic doors, suitcase and children in hand, and feel the first waft of Floridan air welcoming us right out of the Ft. Lauderdale airport. The palm trees, the ocean scent, the seniors sporting pink bermudas and orange tans. The slower pace of life, the sunny days. I couldn't hold my excitement to celebrate Passover, the Holiday of Freedom. It felt good to look forward to a bright future soon approaching.
The weekend kept going its normal course, no spring on sight, but everything else was OK. We took the kids to their respective Sunday classes, birthday parties, and for once, I thought I would start packing early, which would be a first in this household (so proud of myself!).
Then...the news hit. Lice were found happily partying on our friends' heads. I first felt deep pain and empathy for them. Then I realized how much we enjoy spending time with all the members of that clan and a dark cloud of worry invaded me.
Our plane tickets to Florida--where we will be staying at my brother and sister-in-law's-- are for later this week. We certainly have to get them something for hosting us, but I realized lice wouldn't be such a well appreciated gift.
I called Licenders, we hopped into a cab with no time to waste and submitted our heads to the super powers the clinician saviours. After about three and a half hours at the National headquarters of lice elimination under a lighted magnifying glass, our hair had been smothered in a magical baking soda and Pantene conditioner potion, combed thoroughly in every direction, washed, and oiled. As more horrified parents kept bringing their kids in, we kept learning more details about the disgusting creatures. While I was getting combed through (it almost sounds like a beauty treatment), my son got extremely bored. He hid and twirled under his brand new extra large undershirt (we had to get three of those, that according to my plan, my husband will inherit once they are washed and dried at high heat for 30 min). Then he pushed, pulled, and navigated through the site while I frantically screamed at him from my chair not to touch anything, as everyone in there had lice. Finally, and after two of the clinicians had decided where they would be having dinner later and discussed their friends and the bars they liked, my nits were gone. I signed the bill authorizing them to charge us the same amount of money I would have got after selling 15 million pounds of mesquite-chocolate chip cookies--note to self: I'm in the wrong profession! And with our cute new lice killing kit in hand, that at the moment felt like a goodie bag, we returned home.
While thinking of the next step, I reported our ordeal to the school nurse, and then I got in touch with the moms of the kids my children had played with during the week. I felt I was doing the STD call: "sorry...last week was lots of fun, but guess what? I might have passed you something!" It did feel embarrassing and I felt guilty. However, I decided it was the right thing to do, and that I was innocent. It's true there are some things you can do to prevent the pest, unfortunately, nothing is fool-proof. I'm extra careful. I always send my son and daughter to school with oiled hair after brakes, she knows her hair needs to be tied when in school (which might have saved her this time from getting the bugs), no sharing of head stuff, etc... I'm tracing back to see if I could have changed anything, and no. I can't. I just need to accept it just happened.
I was doing pretty well emotionally, taking it all very philosophically, until I realized that I had to keep doing comb throughs to my son and to myself for the next ten days. That's when the after-shock came and when I had an epiphany: Of course the Egyptians wouldn't let the Jews out of their land after G-d sent them lice, the third plague! They needed their slaves badly to do all the combing and get the six legged (I learned that while at Licenders) bugs plus eggs off their scalp one by one! Why pay fortunes for professional treatment if you can get your Jewish slaves do it for free? I have to say, this year I did learn lots about Exodus...

That is all I concluded while inspecting the cute Licenders goodie bag. I was actually holding an instrument of torture! Yes, I'll be completely, 100% nit free, because due to my stress and panic, I'm about to tear off every single strand of hair on my head with the help of my brand new little metal uber sharp comb. I'm blindly scratching off my scalp so deeply, that the scene looks like a cannibal-preparing-dinner documentary in the Discovery channel. So, I keep telling myself that the good news is there will be no bugs left!

Yes, many ideas have popped into my head throughout this unpleasant process. I wanted to drink Tequila shots all night long, or have an anti anxiety-antidepressant-Valium cocktail, or sleep and pretend nothing had happened, or cry bitterly and loudly for 3 hours, I wanted to scream, and to shave my hair off. But I've decided I have to pull myself together, and to think that it will pass. A couple more comb throughs, pepermint, neem and tea tree oils. More load fulls in the drier and much less hair in my head. But it will pass and I will not let it ruin my life. I just won't! And to me, this is the difference between being a slave and being free, and I choose to be free, but it's costing me a lot!
Happy Passover, if you celebrate!

Since I thought this post may leave you all itchy and with no desire to cook yet, I just wanted to make some recommendations for eating during Passover. Don't go for those foods imaginatively and scientifically created in a factory with magical non-chametz ingredients, like chocolate cream cake with no chocolate, nor cream and with a beautiful neon hue that nature has never seen. Watch the amount of sugar you eat! Go for real foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, olive oil, fish, chile peppers, spices, eggs...there are many options. My local supermarket carries certified almond and cashew butters with no sugar added, there's nice dark chocolate, pure maple syrup, silan, quinoa and why not try celeriac or kohlrabi? Spend most of your shopping time at the produce section. There are thousands of options in there. Ah! And lastly, Mexican mangoes are back, so attack!!!

I've curated the following list of recipes and/or links of things I like to have around and eat during Passover. Instead of reaching for the fake pareve creamer for Passover, use coconut milk or cashew cream. Some recipes are mine and some others collected from sites and blogs I love. I hope you find them helpful

PASSOVER LINKS:
  • My great grandmother's charoset:
http://ironyofbaking.blogspot.com/2012/04/passover-frenezy-in-full-swing.html

  • Quinoa Recipes:
http://ironyofbaking.blogspot.com/2012/03/its-spring.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-quinoa-grain-salad-with-recipes-from-the-kitchn-173350

  • Cool salads:
http://ironyofbaking.blogspot.com/2012/04/sweet-sunshine.html

http://food52.com/recipes/21265-fergus-henderson-s-red-salad

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/food-lovers-cleanse/celery_root_apple_salad  (omit mustard if making during Passover)

  • Almond milk:
http://food52.com/recipes/20945-homemade-almond-milk

  • Coconut milk:
http://www.joyofkosher.com/2012/03/diy-coconut-milk-with-step-by-step-photos/

  • Cashew Sour Cream:
http://www.food.com/recipe/cashew-sour-cream-non-dairy-sour-cream-alternative-substitute-204512

  • Cashew Cream:
http://talronnen.ca/recipes/cashew-cream/print/

  • Clean, delicious dessert. Omit vanilla to make it during Passover:
http://www.wholeliving.com/133418/banana-coconut-and-cashew-cream-tart

  • Best ever allergy-friendly dessert (unless there's a chocolate allergy)
http://food52.com/recipes/16044-herve-this-chocolate-mousse