Put your back into it

January 29th, 2015

Kind of rattling around in my house today, making sure Gert doesn’t get into trouble and counting job rejection emails (or just the silences, same thing) as they roll in. I’ve been out walking almost daily for a couple of hours at a time so if she started vomiting suddenly or took a turn I feel like that would be too long. I always take to walking when I am unemployed longer than I like.

I had a funny experience last night being out at the emergency vet. Once we checked her in, one of the front desk ladies said, “There’s coffee and hot cocoa in the waiting area.” We walked over to hang out uselessly, as you do when a little creature or child you care about is in the back room and there is nothing to do but wait.

I took in the coffee machine–it was one of those big jobs that makes one cup at a time to your specs. It spat out hot cocoa as well, which is that powdered stuff sweetened with corn syrup and probably augmented with dairy. Does it come out of the same tube as the coffee? I have no idea. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee anyway. It was eight o’clock at night and I was exhausted.

I took in the sheer array of accouterments up on their coffee prep counter. There were huge pump bottles.

“Is that…ketchup?” I said stupidly, looking around for…a hot dog machine? No, it was giant pump bottles of artificial creamer. I did not know they come in gallon bottles now. Better than the wee cups I suppose, in terms of trash. There was a vending machine next to the coffee station. The top half was a typical assortment of processed junk food–candy, crackers, chips, gum. The lower half was all soda.

P. watched me look at the machines and took a cursory glance himself. “You can’t eat anything in this building,” he said.


“Well, it’s true.”

On the way home when Gert McDirt was doped up out of her teeny walnut we stopped at Albertson’s to get wet cat food for her sore mouth and an urge struck me–I was overtired, as I mentioned earlier today, and stressed out.

“I wonder if I can eat anything here,” I said. I am unhappy to admit that I used to stress eat sometimes when things were really bad. Skittles were absolutely my Achilles heel.

I looked in the candy section…no “hippy” candy. I looked in the tiny, quarter aisle gluten-free section.

“Hmm, nothing here either, unless I want to eat a bag of date sugar,” I said.

“You may have fruit,” said P.


I love fruit, but that has never been my go-to stress snack. I suspect if it was, I would have a very different-looking hind quarter. I ended up buying a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass, crawled into bed with a book, had literally one sip, and then abandoned it when I realized I was still pretty full from dinner and had already brushed my teeth anyway before I found Goethe in trouble.

“If I ever can’t have wine,” I told P., “I am going to, like, start taking ecstasy every day. Because I cannot have anything fun anymore.”

“If you take ecstasy every day, I am going to kick you out,” he replied. This, of course, is the correct response. He thought a bit. “You’d be screwed in the apocalypse, eh? Wait, maybe not, because people would be farming and stuff….” Sigh. I think I could hang on feeling crappy and working my way through the remaining processed food until we all started farming again.

I know there’s fat vegans and fat celiacs and fat all kinds of people, regardless of how “healthy” their diet is, but I’m losing weight. (Point being you can eat too much of a “healthy” diet even.) I’m sad that this is “what it took” but at the same time hooray for living longer? (Maybe?) I was on this cycle of feeling like shit, eating the wrong things constantly (i.e. almost any processed foods), having pain and not being able to exercise. So after my diet was forced to change it just didn’t sound fun anymore to eat too much. I’m sure someone like this is out there, but I don’t really know people who put on a movie at night and snack on sweet potatoes and steak. Just saying….

Well. I realized recently that since all my weird exercise hindrances (joint pain, muscle aches, random body parts popping in and out of joint) are completely gone I might as well step it up. So in addition to my doggy death marches I am back to yoga, dancing, stretching, all kinds of stuff. Let’s see how fit I can get, eh? Every night now and I am sore and it’s all good soreness.

After all this thought about comfort foods and big grocery stores and waiting rooms I found this Superbowl commercial today about how wussy being “afraid” of gluten is. When I first was diagnosed this kind of stuff used to really dismay me because I thought “Man we’re never going to get any respect from Big Food or ‘the public’ or even servers at restaurants….” And this commercial did super irritate me today, not going to lie. I can’t really get mad at Nick Offerman, because he’s riding the anti-intellectual American Fuck Yeah money train all the way to the bank. I saw him live a year or so ago and it was pretty terrible and I realized that thinking isn’t really in his job description. And if Nascar wanted to to hire me to mock, I dunno, otters or something, I probably would. Not gonna lie.

But I have come to realize that while I appreciate all the people who are working to not make gluten a punchline, I’m really outside the conversation. It doesn’t matter if restaurant servers and chefs “believe” me or not. I don’t really belong in their restaurants in the first place. It doesn’t matter if big grocery stories have a gluten free section or not, since what I need to get from there is whole foods only. No food is really marketed to me (when’s the last time you saw an ad for carrots?). I’m not going to stop taking care of myself and my family, but I am coming to grips with the fact that I often feel like some kind of tourist or observer everywhere I go that offers food.

I love food a lot and I miss having the choice of eating poorly, honestly. I don’t have religion. I’m not super serious about politics. “Having a career” doesn’t excite me. Food (trying new things and restaurants, doing things like mastering weird pastry) was my big hobby. Now I am trying to mourn for that and find new conversations I can be part of.

In Sickness and in Hairballs; Or, My Harballz Will Go On

January 29th, 2015

Poor little Goethe! We think she fell off the roof last night. She lost three canines and cut her lip up pretty badly. The emergency vet thought it was a fall in part because she has “front claw trauma”–probably trying to scrabble for a hold before eating cement.

She was swirling around my legs around 5 like she does and then disappeared–the cats usually disappear around dinnertime, probably because of all the noisy flurry of people activity in the dining room and kitchen. Dinner took a long time because like a dummy I was trying to make french fries again. Of course half the fries disintegrated in the boiling water and then the oil boiled over…I really suck at them.

“You should get a Cornballer, Mom,” Franny said. (I have just introduced her to Arrested Development, because she obviously needs more sarcasm in her arsenal.)

I think I will get a Cornballer. I miss greasy fries.

So at 7:30 I retreated to the bedroom to put on comfy pants. I was really sore because I took the dogs on another death march yesterday, all the way to a Jewish cemetery hidden in Shoreline and back. I super wanted to lay down and hopefully be asleep by 8:30 or so, for serious. My sleep schedule has been weird because of my unemployed hobo lifestyle right now. Then I saw Goethe on the bed, panting and with a bloody mouth.

Anyway, Gert’s doped out of her mind now on some kind of “opioid” substance that we squirt on her gums. The e-vet said our regular vet would probably want to remove the canine roots, and that will be that. I will have a kitty that will no longer be able to behead birds and leave them in the laundry room (silver lining). Of course being a cat, she will still probably kill them slowly in the yard anyway.

My cat flap is locked to “in only” this morning for Goethe’s safety right now, and her mother is being a huge tool about it, per usual. She will scratch the flap and meow, an activity that is very popular with her. I let her out into the backyard, making sure her injured daughter isn’t going to try to make a break for it, and Mere comes back in about 10 seconds. Then she goes back into her “I DEMAND TO SEE MY LAWYER” routine. SO TEDIOUS. There is a litterbox downstairs, lady.

Mere does this scratching routine pretty much every night on Strudel’s door. She has bonded with Strudel, of all people, who calls her “MYYY CAT.” (Just like Goethe is MYYY cat, which is why I think she retreated to my bed when she was hurt.)

I’m off to the vet in about an hour. We’ve been really lucky for the past few years. All the animals are pretty young, so the vet bills have been low.

I thought she was geeking out on this outlet in my dining room after I drugged her again (“I can see the music, man”) but then I realized the attraction was probably the sunbeam.

“Cut his hair and watch it grow”

January 23rd, 2015

“But Sidley Park is already a picture, and a most amiable picture too. The slopes are green and gentle. The trees are companionably grouped at intervals that show them to advantage. The rill is a serpentine ribbon unwound from the lake peaceably contained by meadows on which the right amount of sheep are tastefully arranged – in short, it is nature as God intended, and I can say with the painter, ‘Et in Arcadia ego ‘Here I am in Arcadia,’ Thomasina.”

–Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Like 99 percent of the Northern hemisphere, as I mentioned I had a couple of colds during November and December. My lingering cough stopped sometimes after New Year’s, and loosey goose that I am right now, I realized I could take some of the pot if I wanted to. Ever since it was legalized here I’ve been mentally bemoaning my lack of time and energy for it. Not a huge thing, but I was like, wow, I am now such a boring adult I am too busy and tired to do this thing that was once (briefly) a pretty major part of my life.

I was making pot brownies for a hot minute in the spring just to get to sleep, and would sleep through most of the experience. I would take a little chunk before bed and it seemed to help put me to sleep and keep me that way. If I did wake up to pee at 2 a.m. I would realize I was high as a kite, stumble to the bathroom, and then put myself back to bed quickly. I woke up refreshed and not groggy or spacey. I abandoned this as soon as I found out that making up for missing vitamins and minerals in my diet would do the same thing and even better.

Recently I decided it might be fun to spend part of the afternoon stoned. I had maybe two hits and went back indoors, and I felt it coming on. Well. I had kind of a terrible afternoon. I was high for a while and felt okay. I don’t smoke myself to puddle-on-the-floor incapacitation levels anymore–again with the lack of time and energy and really, interest.

When I was a kid all that was available was weak ditchweed. I’m sure they were already doing interesting things with cross-breeding for potency in California, but not with the scrag I was getting in the Midwest. You could maybe bet that you’d be kind of giggly for about a half hour, and then would be kind of tired and would need a bottle of mango Snapple, STAT. It’s a commitment now. As a friend of mine once said, “new” pot is like a couple of steps away from acid. So I stop with a small hit or two.

I had a realization the other day, though, and I felt kind of silly about it. Once the high had kind of died down, what I was left with was mental fuzziness. The “brain fog” that I had been experiencing from food on a regular basis for the past five years or so. I never minded it before, because I was always fuzzy, and didn’t notice additional fuzz. But since I am clear most of the time now, this was intrusive and unwanted. I felt like the stereotype of the dumb cartoon giant or troll. Mad, but confused, and not sure where the arrows are coming from. I kind of stomped around my house for a while, crushing villagers in my mind, and then had a lie down.

So I think I am done with jazz cigarettes, at least for now. Maybe at some point the memories of the brain fog will fade, and I will want to be altered like that, but for now I am enjoying the clarity I have most of the time. Now that I feel this chapter closing, I am inspired to write another of my pointless series on my history with pot and some things that happened when I was stoned or trying to get there.


I had my camera on some weird setting that made everything a little blurry in the dim lights of my living room last night…

Twelve down, eight more to go

Kennel up!

About a week ago, Death Ray the silkie discovered that she could squeeze herself through the gap in the chicken fence. The other girls are too fatty von fat fat hens to fit, which was the point of the design. Death Ray is now about 6 years old and has survived many chicken incidents and a small handful of drive by raccoonings.

She has greatly outlived all of her peers that I purchased with her and at this point she doesn’t really fit into the pecking order at all. She completely stays away from the other hens, which started about three years ago. I have wondered if she would develop more homies if I got some more silkie chicks, but I am currently at the legal limit of hens. Also, every winter now we assume it’s her last…but nope. She lives through everything somehow. She sleeps in the egg laying box presumably since she is so old and creaky, and even survived when Strudel left the egg-retrieving flap open a couple of years ago. That really should not have happened since the flap opens into her bed directly.

Anyway, I figure she has earned her retirement and a respite away from the other hens, who often peck her if they remember she exists. Poor little pariah. I like to look up and see her noodling around on the lawn all day though.

A Series of Small Controlled Disasters.

January 20th, 2015

About to change my Yelp review for my jam service

When we last spoke, I was actually on my second full day of having no hot water. I hit “post” and was like OH YEAH, I knew I forgot something. I brought a basket of laundry downstairs on Wednesday and stepped in a massive puddle that had been sopped up by all my rando IKEA rugs that I keep in the very unfinished furnace room so it’s not completely dire to walk through. They also keep the kitty litter contained to that one room. My first thought was that the terrible plumber had done something stupid (again) a year ago during the basement bathroom remodel. I saw that water was dripping out of the bottom of the heater, so that answered the question of where the water was coming from.

I shut off the water supply to the water heater, and then shut off the breaker. Then there was the fun process of pulling up the rugs and mopping, and I set up a fan to finish drying the floor.

P. came home about an hour later. “Hey homeowner who doesn’t have to pay excessive rent or deal with landlords or anything,” I said by way of greeting.

“What happened?” he asked.

We set up a new water heater delivery and install that night, but they couldn’t come until Saturday. I knew my interview was on Friday, and I needed to be clean and presentable then. I took a cold shower on Thursday night and it was fine. My hair actually looked better than usual.

Here I am gussied up and spackled (pre-lip gloss and HIRE ME face). My “style” “inspirations” for the past year have been Jane Fonda in 9 to 5 and Lydia Rodate-Quayle from Breaking Bad. So, a lot of jackets with pussy bows and vintage brooches. Bonkers patterns. I really gave up on my hair on Friday. It’s a pretty decent length bob now, which wear loose pretty often, but the front still has a lot of damaged hair from when I was going red all the time a year ago, and that’s the first thing people see. I have the twitching hands of wanting to cut it so badly, but I want to grow it out. So, that thing.

The interview itself was kind of terrible. I think I was in denial about what I was in for. I had a phone screen, fine, normal for a contract. Then they asked to do a second screen with a second person. THEN they asked me to come in for a two-hour loop with four people. If there is a way to tell your interviewers that their process is above your pay grade and position as a feckless contractor, I have not discovered it. I got the full-court press as if I was interviewing for an FTE postion. One person looked over my resume and expressed confusion about my “career.” He read off it: “Uhhh, marketing, taxonomist, content analyst/xquery, writing, editing…” He did not know what to do with it. I refused to explain myself. I have learned to say, “I like a fast pace and the challenge of a variety of tasks” rather than “I get bored easily behind a desk and corporate life in particular bores the shit out of me. May I have a job at your Business Factory?” They are doing this to two other poor contractors so I won’t hear until the end of the week. I got this exact same job in the same department five years ago with a 40 minute phone screen and a writing sample. ANYWAY.

But enough about my TERRIBLE ATTITUDE. We had hot water again by Saturday night, which was great. Then I woke up a 2 a.m. on Sunday morning to the sound of really loud pops, like fireworks, amidst the sounds of a heavy windstorm. It turns out it was transformers blowing and the power in my house was dead. I got out of bed and threw on my coat and boots and went out the front door and I could see downed power lines leading straight to the ground. I called the po-pos and reported it, and a fire truck came out. Two guys jumped out and one said “Hi” to me as I stood on the edge of the lawn with a flashlight. Then they left. A couple of cars came and went down my street, trying to get through, and in their headlights I could see that a tree was completely blocking the road.

I pulled P. out of bed to come look as well. There wasn’t much to see other than a giant tree in the dark. The sky was beautiful and for once you could see every star. Orion was on his side, which is the best, because then he turns into Burt Reynolds. Another neighbor was out and he said “watch out for the low wires.” We ducked under and got close to the tree. I could see that most of my street had power except our end.

That giant Narnia-looking hedge motherfucker is actually the tree and is where cars are supposed to go. The police closed my street and they left when the power company came. For hours it was just guard trucks on either end of the street. I got a message on my dying phone that power would be restored by 1 p.m. so we went for a huge walk because we were bored and kind of weirdly anxious about first having no hot water and then no power. It made for a crap weekend.

We had the neighborhood to ourselves since apparently a football game was happening. I love walking on football days. We encountered some people getting into a car and they declared, “Wow, the only people in the city not watching the Seahawks!”

“Our power’s out,” we explained, so we would not be shot on sight or citizens’ arrested.

Taking the dogs out to a nearby park and back was a bit of a mistake since they were caked in mud when we came home. I washed them with some of the hot water we had left, but couldn’t blow dry them as usual. Horace followed me around with his confused face on until I bundled them up in the living room, where we had a fire going most of the day. They shivered a little and fell asleep. Later Horace spent a lot of time staring at the kitchen vent, which was not giving up the warm blowy goods at all.

I should say that overall this was a very minor inconvenience. It has been reaching almost 50F here during the day, and is sunny as hell today (I went out hiking for two hours earlier, listening to the newest Extra Hot Great). We still had the stove top, which could be lit with a match, so I kept mint tea going all day. After our walk we sat by the fire and read.

The sun started setting before five and a bucket truck appeared on our street. Strudel and I cheered and jumped around. I busted out all my candles and started making dinner. Chicken, veg, and yellow split pea soup.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this. This is awesome,” P. said. We talked about going to dinner, but knew we would just have to come back to our sad cold dark house. I carried a taper around with me to the pantry and to look in the fridge, and even knocked it over and spilt wax on my pants and floor. What a clumsy early Victorian I would have been. While I cooked, Strudel put on her boots and went out and spied on the grownup talk on the street. She came back in triumphant: “They say two more hours!”

It was less time than that. About three minutes before my soup was ready, the microwave and various other devices awakened with beeps and boops. I blew out my candles and cursed the darkness.

Other business:

I lost access to my old Twitter account (long story involving me being stupid) so I started a new one a couple of months ago at @theiasshole. I wanted to give it some time to see if I would get back into it, and I have been wading back in slowly after being a heavy user a few years ago. And then I got sick and went into Greta Garbo hermit mode, but I am climbing out again. I am even getting used to socializing a little again. I don’t have palpitations every time some emails me anymore. Sigh. Anyway follow along if you are a twitter type person or not. I am trying to refollow people I used to follow as they pop up and whatnot.

Batman’s to the left of me

January 16th, 2015

So, Franny hath peaced out for this long holiday weekend, and her dad will pick her up after school tonight. SeaFed got a bug up his butt in December and decided we HAD to go to conferences with her main advisor this month and emailed me to that effect, saying I could go with him or separately, but he was going to schedule something. About once a year he comes out of the woodwork to do some kind of Parenting Action. This is fine. Basically this meeting is just a once-a-year check in that has a more flexible timeline than the structured “conference week” for youngsters like Strudel.

I replied to him, okay, my contract ends December 22nd, any time after that would be great. Maybe early January? I sent him another email last week to follow up–“Any word on conference times?” He replied and said “Franny was supposed to text me dates that worked for her teacher.” I asked her about this when she came home that night. “Yeah, I was supposed to text him but I’m still mad at him.” (This is about the whole “if she in ungrateful about treats that may make her sick, then let her not eat any cake, including cakes she could eat safely”).

She revealed a little more of her fury to me when I took her jeans shopping recently. I cannot overstate the value of taking your teenager out alone in a car to someplace like the mall. It’s like you bought the golden ticket to being unloaded upon, which is invaluable really. She said she’s overheard her stepmother doing the whole “We don’t even know if she HAS Celiac disease” loudwhisper [tm Grima Wormtongue] at SeaFed when she thinks Franny is out of earshot. To be fair I did have her tested after she had balked and was refusing to eat wheat and was already feeling better. Strangely I could not get either of my children to ingest wheat to do the test “properly”…. It’s like my whole household has this weird bias against explosive diarrhea.

But back to the matter at hand. Okay, first of all, you do not leave conference-arranging up to your fourteen year old, unless she is Rory Gilmore or Tracy Flick. Uh. I guess I don’t have a second point. Except to say that I think I am going back to work soon, so who knows when or if I can meet with this advisor. Also that I am a little disappointed that she is handling this passive-aggressively, but I know from experience that handling things aggressively with him kind of bounces off. She’s entitled to be pissed off. I printed off a few things about cross-contamination for her to give to them over there when she gets back.

While I wish I could be a fly on the wall for this conference (or attend, time allowing), I am tempted to just let it happen. I always feel that the more people who discover what he is like the better. Also I am super, super not worried about Franny’s progress at school in any way, nor do I have any questions really. We show up for events and she shows me her homework and she seems happy. She’s recently taken off on her DJ slot that she has on Wednesday afternoons, which is adorable. (“I played Nick Cave AND Roy G Biv by TMBG today!”) I am just happy to see her excited about art and music and her friends AND doing her algebra homework. He can go tick off the conference box. And he can deal with how mad she is at him right now…but realistically, he probably won’t figure it out.

What is the difference between jelly and jam

January 13th, 2015

Dorty goes outside; attempts to come back in; discovers: CATBLOCK!

For a while I thought this was general cat obtuseness, but it happens far, far too often for it to be a coincidence. The view out the catflap isn’t even that good. It’s partly obscured from the leavings of slobbery faces and the view is pretty much Porch and Bush. We have many many other windows that show other views like Road or Birdbath. Hell, Nightmere can GO OUTSIDE and view everything up close and personal-like. This is deliberate griefing.

Thing two is this problem:

I have discovered I have opened the LAST jar of strawberry jam, and it is from 2012. That’s fine, it’s still good and all, but there are no REAL flavors left after this. P. kept not making jam because we “had so much left from previous years.” LOOK AT WHAT IS LEFT. And there are MULTIPLE JARS of this nonsense–this is just a sampling. This is like saying, we don’t need guest pillows, there’s loads of cow plops around. WHAT.

Review of remaining jams.

Currant: Delicious but weirdly gelatinous, due to high quantity of naturally occurring pectin in currants. Best melted with wine as a glaze for meat, or diluted with vinegar and used as a mint sauce for lamb. I will commit to this, but it does not solve my peanut butter problems.

Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a devil invention and only fit for doomed livestock that has broken out of its paddock. The only allowable thing that starts inedible and gets WOW with a fuckity load of sugar is cranberries. Related point: where are thou cranjam?

Blk sauce: No, this is not dark matter squeezins, it is blackberry sauce. Delicious, but not blackberry jam or jelly, which we were out of before frost kissed the lawn. As a show of goodwill I vow to use this once we run out of our open container of maple syrup for anything I would put maple syrup on (pancakes, porridge, second-degree burns).

Kiwii: An attempt at fooling me into thinking this is some kind of Hawaiian or Japanese concoction. We all know this is KIWI. A thing that should not be jammed, but only occurring as wheels in fruit salad or eaten out of hand. It should be noted that the creator of this abomination also eats kiwis whole without peeling them. Nice try at fitting in on Earth, Ford Prefect.

Plum: Plum jam tastes okay, and you cannot swing an ikat infinity scarf around here without hitting an Italian plum tree that is usually overladen with fruits and an owner saying, “Dear god, please take some.” One year we got something like fifteen pounds of plums from Plum Tree Park alone. So kudos for thrift and creating what I think of as a Seattle classic, but there is something about these plums…they form a grey scum at the top which makes it difficult to get through the first half of the jar. It’s really daunting for the children, especially. No one wants to open this five years old jam.

Quince: I LOVE quinces in desserts, but this is a similar problem to currants. It is not so great with peanut butter, imo. I used to eat it with cheese, but now cheese is out and so is quince! I will make a note to glaze a turkey breast with it or something.

In conclusion, we are out of jam. Yours in ingratitude, SJ


January 13th, 2015

I have an in-person interview on Friday with multiple people. Never has one person had so many interviews for a short-term contract that doesn’t pay that well. Sadly, that’s probably not true though. If I get this it will spit me out on the other side in June, which is slightly into Farmer’s Market season. Hollerrrr!

I noticed I was using all caps again for my title and I went to change it, and then I was like, Hey, this is my blog, I’ll do what I want.

So briefly* I will mention that I went to a fancy restaurant with regular, gluten-free, and vegan menus on Thursday. In my dreamland this is ideal, because I am kind of like a vegan…who eats meat. So if restaurants are geared up to leave the dairy out anyway, but are willing to serve meaty dishes as well, I am good to go. I had a nice talk with the server who is very used to the Care and Feeding of the Modern Seattleite and she walked me through everything. It was just like at home: meat and veg! That I did not chop myself. Natch I got glutened and hit the bathroom as soon as I came home, and kept hitting it for a couple of days.

P. had a day of fallout after I did. He was SUPER CRABBY on Saturday, which was bad timing because I was out all day and he was with the girls. I refer to him and me as Captain(s) Asshole now on those bad days. My bad day was Friday, which was better because I was alone and forced myself to take a walk with the pooches, which helped. But by Friday night I had drunk the house dry (not very much, actually, I think half a bottle of wine and a can of cider…) and was rolling around in bed DYING for a baguette with brie and jam smeared on. I could see it my head, like those cartoons where they are starving and suddenly someone looks like a walking, talking, ham.

What the fuck is this shit. I get glutened, and I want more of what is poisoning me. WHY, BODY, WHY?? In the past I would have just gone for it, and then passed out and woke up with a terrible headache. Instead I made myself some socca and spread jam on them, kind of like a crepe layer cake. I yelled at P. as he attempted to straighten the quilts around me so I would be warm and comfortable. I am lucky he didn’t “accidentally” put the pillow over my face.

So Saturday was my business class and I was nervous because I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to pay the best attention. But I was really focused throughout it and it answered a lot of little nagging questions I had. It was nice to talk to someone who has actually rented space in commercial kitchens and could answer my questions about that–namely, is it possible to do gluten free preparation in a shared space? The answer is that I am going to have to buy my own equipment, which is not going to break me. We’re talking things like immersion blenders, funnels, and bowls.

Most of the students appeared to be over 30. There was a guy sitting in front of me who was an oddball. He came back from one of the breaks and this wave of booze smell came with him, and after lunch he fell asleep for a while at his table. Seeing people sleep in class took me back to my 8 a.m. class days in community college, but obviously this guy had something else going on.

I’ve done a lot of the research on my own. I understand that I will need various licenses, that for my product I will need dedicated kitchen space outside my home that’s been approved by the health department, I know mostly what supplies I’ll need, so the teacher didn’t drop any unexpected bombs on me. It was nice to have some dots connected by someone who has run a business like this in Seattle.

But I left the class and felt kind of deflated. I thought, oh, I’m just tired, I’ll feel better tomorrow. But I didn’t. I felt anxiety, was sure I would fail at having this tiny business–why bother starting? This is after a few weeks of doing research, taking frank looks at the administrative parts of this challenge as well as working on dressing recipes two to three times a week. Okay, I know that isn’t a very long time, but this is also after 15+ years of knowing I want to work for myself someday (having an inn or B&B).

The voice in my head came back, the one that comes back when I am feeling ill. It said, “You’re a lazy person and you can’t really expect to set goals like this.” And I was exhausted. I slept for a long time on Sunday and Monday, and my body hurt a little again. My “tennis elbow” which was improving, felt worse again. I didn’t want to run errands or talk to people. I imagined myself telling my sister that I had changed my mind about this venture and seeing the look on her face. (She is very excited for me, thinks this makes a lot of sense, and has even offered to help me fill bottles on her one day off.)

I walked Strudel to her before school yoga class this morning, since I had to sign releases and meet the teachers, and on the way home my head finally started to clear. This isn’t me, I thought. Well, it was for a long time, unfortunately, but if I am eating right I have sick amounts of energy and can make plans from start to finish. I bet…thought the slowest, thickest person ever….I am still having fallout from gluten. I last got hit on November 17 and I had to call off work and had a really hard week. It takes me about six days to come back to “normal”–happy, experiencing a normal amount of worry about real problems, but feeling like I have the power to accomplish things.

SO FUCK THIS SHIT I am not quitting ANYTHING. I am going to the Man again with my hand out and will take their filthy lucre so I can make my own business. I will feel better. And next time we have a date night, Captain and Mr. Asshole have resolved to eat at home and then go out for drinks or to a bookstore AFTER we eat.

* Did not happen, forgot what else I was going to write about instead.


January 8th, 2015

That you can hurt yourself cleaning? Of course you can. Of course I can, anyway. I have given myself TENNIS ELBOW from squeezing a sponge repeatedly. How sad is that?

I felt a wave of dread at facing another injury that might take months to heal, as in the past, and then I remembered that I heal pretty fast now (i.e. like a healthy person). It is already feeling better. I have been icing it with a bag of frozen leek hom bow that no one in my house can eat now. I am still trying to get rid of a little food here and there, as donations, to friends. P. found a perfectly good bag of unopened corn flour in the pantry from Bob’s that is waiting for my sister’s next visit. I did a huge cleanout when I discovered what disagreed with me, but somehow it was psychologically hard to get rid of unopened, brand new things? And then I forgot about some of them.

The cool thing about cleaning the house from top to bottom was not experiencing any back pain afterwards. I was a little tired, but that was nice and I slept great. I had back pain for years, back to high school. People gave me advice: stretch, run, walk lots, stand, do yoga, do sit ups, and more. I tried everything but nothing really worked. I would do light amounts of housework or work one of my many jobs that I had throughout high school and college and I would still come home with a dull throb in my lower back. If I laid down I would literally limp around after I got up. I just thought, no matter how hard or how little I exercised, that I was a wimpy person. Of course it is something that can present with Celiac disease.

I had a trip to the dentist in December where my long-time hygienist noticed my long-time mouth roof hole. This lady’s great, she rarely misses a trick.

“Did you burn the roof of your mouth?” she asked.

“Uhhh, probably.” The Notorious P.I.G. does not have time for food to cool to an edible temperature. “Oh wait, THISH?” I crammed my finger up to the roof of my mouth where I knew the scar was. “That’s that old, old hole.”

“Oh yeah! It looks different.”

She asked me what was new as they do at the beginning of my appointment and I told her I found I was intolerant to pretty much everything that comes in a wrapper. I mentioned this because it seemed like a “health change” that you should declare as a patient and I was afraid that there would be corn in something they would use on me or Strudel. They were very nice and let me see the ingredients in the tooth polish and fluoride. So the groundwork was set for me to mention that the hole had healed further.

“I used to get a shooting nerve pain up to my ear when I would touch it with my tongue,” I said. “No more.”

My teeth are also no longer sensitive to citrus/acids, or cold like ice cream, or hurt when I use a sonic toothbrush.

“You’re barely bleeding,” she told me. “You used to be a BLEEDER.”

“I know,” I said. “Sorry. Gross.”

“Your teeth look great, too. Hardly any build up on them.”

I win! I didn’t say this because it veers off into “I don’t know what is happening so it sounds kind of crackpotty,” but I have this weird feeling like my pH has changed somehow. My mouth tastes different and my breath is better. No matter how I would floss and brush it seemed like tartar would fly to my teeth and cling a week after the dentist. Now they feel great for almost the whole six months. Flossing is no longer an ordeal that I have to steel myself for, and expect to spit tons of blood no matter how regularly I flossed. Now my mouth is like “WHAT ELSE YOU GOT, FOOL?” I am thinking about inventing something new in oral care just so I can do that every night too.

A thing I have learned about myself after many years is that as soon as I start feeling decent, I start hurting myself immediately. I am not watching a ton of TV right now, but I have been taking the chance to catch up on a couple of things I let build up on my hard drive during the holidays. I told myself I can watch TV if I spend the first ten minutes of a program in a “third world squat.” Flexibility was always a struggle because it hurt to get into basic yoga positions like “table.” I kid you not. My wrists would scream. I had padding for my padding when I did yoga. I must have looked like I was about 900 years old.

There’s kind of an ethos at my house which involves keeping electronics mostly out of sight. I’m not sure why I do this–it may be partly the librarian in me who wants a serene environment that is more conducive to reading or conversation than “let’s all face a screen.” We bought a midcentury end table a year ago to hide what is almost the sum total of our electronics. The Wii lives in the bottom cabinet, and my laptop sits in the middle when it is running TV. The projector and a lamp sits on top, and my MP3 player charges and hides in one drawer (the Wiimotes are in the other).

ANYWAY, I say all this by way of explaining that for the past year if we do want to watch something, my routine has been to kneel down in front of this little cabinet to access my laptop and queue it up, silently cursing the whole time about my knees and back. But lately I’ve found myself just dipping into a squat, like a toddler. I realized it didn’t hurt, and in fact felt good! “I bet I could do this for a long time,” I thought, foolishly. “I will start with ten minutes, that’ll go by fast!” Yeah, a lot of things sound easy until you try them, like plank pose or ass-to-mouth.

But I’m starting with this, and when my “sponge elbow” feels better I’ll do some other things that involve my arms.

So this is fun, and by fun I mean “gross.” I was hunting through a drawer for who knows what during my big clean and I found this from my stocking last year:

P. had gotten me a giant clove (my favorite candy flavor) candy cane in my stocking. As I’ve mentioned I got to the point where I was barely eating sweets because everything made me feel fairly ill. No doubt it was the corn in most candy. So I snapped an end off at Christmastime and ate that, and then tucked it into a drawer, where I meant to come back to it and then forgot about it. They look like this new. Whoops! And EUGH.

In good food news, my current obsession is socca. I mixed finely chopped green onions into the batter last night and it kind of reminded me of those thousand-layer Chinese pancakes. I made collard greens last night and put bites of greens on pieces of socca and it was wonderful. It also reminded me I want to try making injera at home. Teff=gluten free!

I moved the hand vac temporarily when I was scrubbing that zone of my kitchen and Edith lost her MIND. This doesn’t capture it as I would have liked. When I came into the dining room she was flat on her belly whisper-barking at it. “HUMAN THERE IS AN INTRUDER, I WILL SAVE YOU.”

Horace went into “FOR FUCK’S SAKE” mode like he does with her and came in to show her it was no big deal by kicking it and touching it with his nose. He’s a good big brother. She likes to fetch and he watches until I throw the toy and it goes a little out of her sight (like into an empty laundry basket) or in a different direction. Then he will go “JESUS CHRIST” and get up and show her where it is. Brain the size of a planet and he is stuck being a service dog to a creature slightly dumber than Winnie the Pooh.

I am appalled at how much time I spent writing about cleaning, too.

January 5th, 2015

One thing I like about this time of year is getting over the “dark hump” and realizing that though my plants look terrible, they are probably not going to die this year. I question my wisdom in having a potted ficus stand in as a Christmas tree, because it starts turning brown in places and dropping leaves, and doesn’t really stop until February. Maybe I should move Xmas to summer when it is lush and green.

I saw that the Saddest Rubber Tree in North America, which resides in my dining room, is trying to put on new leaves and then I ran around and pity-watered everyone, which I forgot to do last weekend. I knew this house was going to be challenging for plants. It’s on a great orientation for a sunny place, like California or Arizona. When we moved in I had a mass wave of deaths and then another when I was bedridden earlier last year. There is something so right about limping to the bathroom like a sadsack and seeing that you have lost yet another plant. Someone call Emily Dickinson, I think we’ve got a lead for her.

I usually get this weird sense of foreboding as we hurtle toward the solstice, and a great sense of relief when we get away from it. I guess that’s why humans invented Xmas and Snuggies and growlers anyway. Hide out from the forebodums.

“I’m so happy this year is almost over,” P. said a couple of weeks ago. I was really surprised. It’s very uncharacteristic for him to make dramatic Eeyore-esque pronouncements like that (the position has been filled by me). I had to ask him what he meant. “This year was TERRIBLE,” he said. And then I felt very dumb as I realized he was referring to the first part of it. March seems like a lifetime ago in some ways, though I still wake up almost every day like I have Quantum Leap’d or something and must check all my parts: “Nothing hurts; can think; am in good mood. WOW. Let’s do this.”

So last night I made a very boring secret plan. In honor of the fact that I am not working, and am finally feeling well enough, I have started cleaning the house from top to bottom. I would guess it’s been over a year since the house has been scrubbed this hard, since I starting getting really sick (hard-to-move sick) in October ’13. For a couple of years prior to me losing my grip I had to prop myself up on copious amounts of drugs and coffee to get my joints working and enough energy to clean, and it was miserable.

Today it felt easy and I didn’t mind it one bit. I listened to podcasts all day long. I used to have a SPOTLESS house, even with a baby and toddler. I maintenance cleaned once a week and it took me three hours in our old Fremont duplex. It was just what I had become accustomed to growing up. My parents built their house and they were going to keep it new and clean, at all costs. We had the kind of house where more often than not, there were vacuum marks in the rug, like a newly-mowed lawn. I really let that go when we moved into the big split-level rental in 2010. I was getting ill and that place was a pit, so it all seemed kind of hopeless.

Today I scrubbed cabinet fronts, and most nooks and crannies in the kitchen. I cleaned behind the microwave, and inside of the dishwasher door hinge. I did both of the bathrooms top to bottom (okay, I did not dust the pictures, but I will tomorrow) I had an inkling this tsunami of anal retentiveness was coming, since I cleaned kitchen windows and other hard-to-reach spots a couple of weeks ago. There was so much to do and I was moving relatively slowly so I abandoned the job halfway through before dinnertime, vowing to be back soon.

I was kind of thrilled that packages were arriving all day as well, because they contained needed kitcheny things that I could put in place as I put it back together: an electric kettle which I’ve been wanting for years; silpat for baking sheets; an LED bulb for a burned-out one in one of the heinous booblights in the kitchen.

I have come to a few conclusions after doing all the “wet work” today (dusting and dry floors tomorrow). First is, Fuck a Tile Counter. I love my tile counters, and the tile bathrooms, especially my pink poodle one. But I’ve realized that they look like crap 60 years on. There are cracks, permanent staining, missing bits. Not to mention the amount of time that it takes to clean between every goddam tile where the schmutz builds up. We’ve already decided to pull the counter tile in the kitchen and leave the yellow backsplash, which is perfect. Perhaps the same treatment is in order for the upstairs bathrooms.

The second conclusion is that every time I greedily think we should have gotten more house, I need to clean this one. There is a lot of real estate here. A lot of surfaces. Someone keeps cluttering it up with terrible old gewgaws from the 20th century and they all need dusting.

The third conclusion is that I am starting to trust that I am well again. It’s strange, I still feel like I am somewhat of a different person, as if I have been rebuilt out of old refurbed parts. But it’s all working better. I’m having some stiffness in the morning that I hope will be resolved with exercise, which doesn’t sound like an impossible undertaking now.

Franny’s coming back today. It sounds like her holiday with SeaFed was pretty fun, small amounts of drama aside. She called me whispering, hiding outdoors one day to vent her spleen about a mini-row that resulted in her being called “ungrateful” for not eating a “gluten-free” doughnut that had been produced in the bakery where they bake all the wheat ones. I made sympathetic noises and told her she did the right thing in politely turning it down.

I have a lead on a tech contract (phone screen tomorrow) back in the pit where I was before Xmas. Hooray/boo for work, but yay for being back to the gluten free food truck that is one of three restaurants I trust not to poison me in Seattle. I have to say, my long-time commenter “A.” made the penny finally drop on this gluten-free sauce business idea, but I don’t know if I would have considered it for more than two minutes if I wouldn’t have eaten at this gluten-free truck during my last contract. I know running a side business isn’t easy (my stepfather ran a coin-op amusement business in addition to his full time career) but I thought about the components and it looked possible.

And on Saturday I am taking a small food business class which runs all day, because that is the plan for this year. I am working on dressings bi-weekly now. I want to relentlessly tinker with sauce daily until I feel like I have some testers that I can shop out to my friends, but then I feel bad about pouring out perfectly good olive oil concoctions because there are too many and I don’t get to them. So we eat our way through the so-so and the pretty decent dressings and then I start again at a reasonable pace. I am trying to develop four in time for the summer farmer’s markets.

I’m feeling very grateful that I had all that experience in 2010 altering and experimenting with Victorian recipes. I was thinking that chapter of my life was something I would leave behind as a fun hobby and memory, but it really made me a better cook and a better recipe developer. I did not dream I would use those skills this soon–I thought I would be developing recipes for my b&b and some point in the way off, and I didn’t really have a concept about how I was going to go from working for random people in techworld to owning my own business. But I am really thrilled to have some practice at “opening” a small business now. The start-up costs should be pretty low and this is not a make-or-break operation, so this won’t ruin us if it fails. I will have to file for a license, so I am trying to think of a business name. Alas, I have ruled out ass-related ones. I will be very excited to fill you in on the details of this venture as I go this year.

Tonight after cleaning for seven (!) hours, I am going to treat myself to some sauv blanc and sleep in a bit tomorrow before my phone screen at 11 a.m. Happy new year.

Can I say that sometimes I am jealous of people who are my age and are just now having babies

December 26th, 2014

Psych though, because I am really into sleeping eight hours. I am all OCK OCK teenage problems and then I am all…sleeping eight hours. I dunno. The answer is probably: cigars on ice. Okay, I know I am supposed to be quoting D’Angelo now, but I am still not over Bey.

Chalkboard Christmas Steve welcomes you the fuck into Xmas.

Okay what happened this year? Nothing, which I think is very exciting. We did Capitalism on Christmas Steve, since Franny was set to leave on xmas eve.

I wanted to give her a little time to enjoy her big present. Naturally, she took the guitar away with her to her dad’s house. I threatened her gently and said YOU MUST BRING IT BACK. I can just see her father’s children sitting on it or something. So can she, actually. She triple assured me she would bring it back. As a side bar, it’s interesting to me that she’s trying to talk her dad into getting off the wheat. He’s having all kinds of problems that are just like hers were (and mine). He’s not biting. He was always a super big fan of not believing anything because BLEAH. Why believe anything anyone tells you? Fuck that noise.

So. Strudel was ready for her first earrings and Franny really wanted her nose pierced, so as part of their xmas presents I took them back to the place where I took Franny when she was eight and wanted her ears pierced. I don’t think I got a good picture of her–just a crap one on my phone. She said she wanted it on her right nostril, like her Auntie Morgan.

They did really well. Strudel wanted to hold my hand but of course Franny did not.

“A present!” Franny said. That is not a present, that is a Dr. Hoho.

I asked Strudel something later that day and she said “WHAT MOM I’M LISTENING TO DRAKE.” Please don’t make me regret my earphones decision. It did get her to clean with us very pleasantly today. “WOW I LISTENED TO MUSIC THE WHOLE TIME.” Okay, please turn it down before you start talking…

Stocking happiness. I had to go the the Special Store (read: expensive) and get corn, dairy, and gluten-free candy for stockings. If you are very bored I defy you to read labels in a store and try to find something processed that does not contain any of those things. I sent Franny away with mad vitamins and a command to actually take them. Our lives are vitamins right now. It’s working.

Look who has a mild case of the ocds.

She’s always like this. I make her insane because I am chaotic neutral and leave stuff lying around differently depending on how profitable it is.

Edith spent the whole time doing this every time I took the camera out.


Okay, so there’s no graceful way to slip this in here. Strudel spends A LOT of time holding Dorty upside down. I always like it, because Edith likes the attention and it doesn’t seem to be interfering with anything. But at the same time, I feel like she’s an old thymey model being mesmerized by Strudel.

FURTHERMORE MY LOANS ARE PAID OFF. Ten years later. I reckon that’s about right. And now, I am ready for new debt.

So tonight I decided to make Thai food: phad see ew, tom yum, spring rolls, and a red curry with duck. I got it all from my guru at High Heel Gourmet. As a bonus I made a hot sauce with bird’s eye peppers and peanut sauce. WOO GLUTEN FREE.

Also I had a captive audience to test salad dressings on. I pulled five samples out and a bunch of veggies as appetizers. Lucky for me, my guests were hungry and like to give opinions. I’m plinking away at developing a first salad dressing that tastes awesome and is relatively hypoallergenic. Lucky me I am a closely related to two supertasters.

I also made real appetizers: spring rolls.

It’s like an ad for Natural Calm, really.

The recipe called for cooking the mung bean sprouts a little, which was cool, because it made them kind of like noodles.

This is the bouquet garni for the tom yum. Galangal, kafir leaves, and lemongrass.

When I was desperately making Thai food at my house in college almost twenty years ago, I thought that I could sub limes for kafir limes, because HEY they are both limes right? The smell that filled my house today….holy shit. Intoxicating. So that was Christmas.

A forgotten cheepie thrift store coat has been found in a closet:

Lots of phad see ew lately. “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??”

I finished working Monday thank FUCK. I would like to have another job lined up, of course, but I am loose and flapping for now. I will be tinkering with recipes and probably writing, because that’s how I roll.

Happy Xmas!!