FrannyNewPhone 10:06 AM: jmpjtm?tjtpwpwg
FrannyNewPhone 10:10 AM: Bloop bleep mgmp9jamdadwpw0egd-THEOWLSARENOTWHATTHEYSEEM-ngdjsme89fnhsh
FrannyNewPhone 10:11 AM: gojdamjwt67gdj2mjwtmgdje-COOPER-ngskjdfnhkjdsaghksfj.dcd.cd
FrannyNewPhone 10:06 AM: jmpjtm?tjtpwpwg
FrannyNewPhone 10:10 AM: Bloop bleep mgmp9jamdadwpw0egd-THEOWLSARENOTWHATTHEYSEEM-ngdjsme89fnhsh
FrannyNewPhone 10:11 AM: gojdamjwt67gdj2mjwtmgdje-COOPER-ngskjdfnhkjdsaghksfj.dcd.cd
Franny’s been ill this week.
She said she could sort of taste her cake, and she suspected it tasted good.
At her request I made her a red Thai curry. It turned out really well in spite of the fact I completely forgot to buy limes. I put a splash of rice vinegar in at the end and that was sufficient.
She’s been an interesting kid lately. I realized I have past advice from Tadpoledrain, Helen, and Miss Piggy mentioning magnesium, and lo, I was super scary rock-bottom low prices on it in a recent blood test. We all started taking it and it’s evened her out a lot–much less on the aches and pains front. Strudel is sleeping better. I am feeling better as well. I am holding my breath here but my tinnitus of twenty years now (!) has been on break since I started taking it. I did not know my porch light buzzes.
Point being, Franny is doing a lot of art right now. She hit this kind of blah wall last winter where she wasn’t even sketching like she always used to do, incessantly. She came back with this from her dad’s house on Monday:
“Okay, I copied this from a book, but I didn’t trace it,” she said.
“I can tell it’s not traced,” I said.
“ARTY KID ARTY KID ARTY KIIIID,” my sister sang.
I don’t think she would have had that kind of concentration a few months ago to even start something like this. She’s gobbling up books, her algebra class is “easy and fun” and she’s cranking out at least a drawing a day. Between the diet and the vitamins SOMETHING IS WORKING so I am not going to stop.
She also made lipstick out of crayon nubbles and coconut oil on one of her sick days.
“I saw this on YouTube.”
It’s been a good week.
When I first saw my endocrinologist, she said, “We’re getting into the land of the expensive tests.”
“The cheap tests aren’t showing anything,” I said.
Yesterday I thanked her for doing the expensive tests.
“Mmm we’ll see if you still feel that way when you see your bill,” she said.
No, I am still not over Cat Planet.
Last week was rough. I spent a couple of days in bed, including a workday. I worked from bed, which was distracting. Sometimes I spend all day feeling like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. This lasts for about a week and then I get really tired and sore at the end. My body is exercising by itself sometimes.
In the middle of this I took the girls to their doctor for a check up and some shots. It did not go well. I feel like I should chronicle it, so I can remember why I was mad later in case I think about going back there.
I admit I was a little keyed up since I have been spending a lot of time in many doctor’s offices this year, being told various things that sound like guesses or just wrong a lot of the time. I kind of hate everyone, worse than usual, which is making it challenging to go into a medical place and try to wring something out of it. I fall back on my auto-didactic training in manners I fetched up after fleeing Being Raised by Wolves. The lizard part of my brain is going, “Punch them, punch them all, and then steal exam gloves and run out.”
Our serious nurse in Scooby Doo scrubs that I always liked was not in evidence. It was strange to have someone else come out and fetch us. They lumped the girls up in one room and I suggested that they have separate appointments as I requested on the phone, since they are not four. I said “for privacy” and was not snotty about it as I was in my previous statement. The substitute nurse seemed taken aback by this, as much as she could be by anything, I suppose, since she hardly seemed to have a pulse. Her tone was annoyed with every request I made and response I gave. I couldn’t quite figure it out.
She left the room and we all three kind of sighed.
“I wish the regular nurse was here,” Franny said. “She’s good at shots.” Franny hates needles.
Strudel’s exam was fine. The doctor told her to go back on wheat for two weeks to be tested for Celiac properly, and Strudel nodded solemnly. The doctor left the room to go to Franny’s exam room, and we were told that they were out of Strudel’s vaccination, and there was no point in testing her blood, so she got off scot-free for now. Fine, good. I had her go back to the waiting room and I joined Franny.
“So,” I said. “Franny and I have made a list of what’s going on with her so we don’t forget anything.” I handed it to the doctor. “I have hyper- and hypothyroid in my family, and Grave’s disease. This looks like Celiac right now, but I am worried that her thyroid could be involved as well with her energy levels and whatnot.”
She scanned the list of ~30 symptoms and zeroed in on infrequent periods. “Let’s start with female-specific symptoms. You think she has PCOS?” she asked.
“Well. I don’t know. I’m not an expert and I can’t see into her body. I am just giving you everything that’s going on symptoms-wise. Maybe it’s PCOS.”
“It doesn’t really matter if she has PCOS or not, because that’s an issue that affects fertility and she won’t have to deal with that for a long time.” She turned to Franny: “How about birth control? Do you want to be on birth control? It can regulate your periods.”
“I’m not sure,” Franny said. “I’d need to know more about it.”
“Sooo do you think birth control will fix things like her brittle nails and her hair loss, and the fact that she can sleep twelve hours and still be tired?”
“What do you suggest then?” the doctor snapped.
“I was hoping you would test her thyroid, and do the blood test for Celiac disease.”
“Fine, I guess I could rule things out,” she began writing.
“Yeaaah so are you going to just test TSH? Or reverse T3 and T4 and free T3 and T4 and…”
“THAT WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING.”
“…And I thought maybe testing for Hashimoto’s since there seems to be some relation between Celiac and Hashimoto’s…”
“It doesn’t matter if she has Hashimoto’s because we can’t do anything about it!”
“Like PCOS,” I said. “You don’t believe there’s any value in knowing what’s going on with her?”
“Like I said, we can rule these things out.” She changed tack then, back to birth control, which I am not opposed to, really. I just don’t believe that’s the panacea here. “Well, are you missing school due to your period? Is it interfering with your life and school?”
“It’s not really regular,” she said.
“That’s normal for your age,” the doctor said.
“It’s not really interfering with her life because she’s only having about two a year,” I interjected.
“Oh,” the doctor said. “I didn’t realize.” It was spelled out there on the sheet, and was part of the only section she appeared to have read, but I get it. It was a long sheet.
“I will get the nurse in here to draw your blood, and to give your two vaccinations,” the doctor said, and left.
“So that went well,” I said. Franny started laughing.
Eventually the nurse came back and gave her quite a jab, and walked out again.
“Thanks,” Franny said, to the nurse’s silent retreating back. The door slammed. “Ouch, FUCK,” she said. “The other nurse wouldn’t have done it like that.”
“I know,” I said. “You know, you don’t have to thank people who are hurting you. It’s okay.”
“Alright,” she said. “You okay, Mom?”
“That whole interaction with your doctor made me feel a little crazy and upset. I’m fine. We’re going to keep trying to figure out what’s going on with you.”
The nurse brought back some testing vials and laid everything out for a blood draw. She attempted to find Franny’s vein three or four times and then gave up when Franny started crying. Wretched.
“I’ll get the other nurse,” she sighed. “Even though she doesn’t like to take blood from young people.”
The other nurse, who has been around for years and is a very nice lady, managed to get the blood out just fine, and into the vials that the first nurse had supplied.
“I know you are not our nurse today,” I said, “but Franny has only gotten one vaccination, and her doctor said she was supposed to have two. Would you please ask about that so we don’t leave without it?” She did, and returned, and gave the second vaccination.
“I know you’re a little old, but do you want a lollipop?” she asked Franny.
“YES.” Happy tears followed sad ones. BOOM, bedside manner’d.
We left and everyone was in a pretty bad mood. Except maybe for Strudel, who had escaped a shot and received a lollipop as well, which was the most serious hardcore sugar she’s had all month. I am amazed at this kid who is taking a break from her 7-11 candy binges.
“I don’t want to go back on wheat, Mom,” Strudel said.
“Okay,” I said.
Of course Franny went off wheat after this, and called me from her dad’s house this weekend, reporting that she was feeling much better…until her stepmother pulled some fried herbs off some pasta and told her to eat them and that they were wheat-free. Franny got to show off her giant bloated stomach to them as a result and slept for over eleven hours. It will be a learning process for everyone. I was relieved her dad took it in stride, since this isn’t the first time she’s gone off wheat. He bought her some grits, rice crackers, nuts.
I know I should be grateful for these concessions, and I am, but I read my post about talking to him about trying her off wheat in 2008 (which I linked to in my last post) where he blamed me for her stress and stomachaches. This is why I write things down, even though they make me mad later. It’s important to remember some things.
She says they live on wheat over there–pancakes for breakfast, Cup Noodle for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner. It’s no wonder she reports having a good weekend over there with her dad, but comes home in a terrible mood and is tired and irritable. She usually smooths out by Wednesday or so, and then it starts over again when she visits and comes back.
The doctor’s office called me on Friday, and I did not get back to them in time, so I had to wait until today. I expected a TSH result that would probably tell me nothing, and either a yes or a no on the Celiac. What I got dismayed me. The nurse pulled the wrong vials and drew her blood into them, and so they couldn’t be processed.
“So you’ll have to take her somewhere for a redraw. Where do you want the order sent?”
“Wait, you can’t use the blood that was drawn? So she has to have it completely redone?”
I chose Children’s Hospital. It is going to suck to break this news to Franny tonight, but at least I will take her to a place that has been nice to us in the past and draws blood from younguns all day long. Fuck.
Pictures, I have so many pictures. My fucking photo editing tool is not letting me resize or crop photos. Also I am supposed to be downtown right now doing research in Gourmet Magazine but I actually wiped myself out from being mad. I am exhausted now. I will drag to the grocery store and try again later this week when I have time.
I could sleep forever but I am afraid of missing my life. As it is right now it feels like it’s down to a little pinpoint. And I do feel a little crazy, because the medical stuff is just expanding. It’s not just me, but I have to take care of my girls’ issues that they inherited partly from me. Some days it is hard to get up, get dressed, and now I am looking at schlepping them to doctors, poor things. Better now than later.
I think about SeaFed and his childhood nosebleeds and daily stomachaches, and the fact that his mother went down with dementia after years of brain fog, and I wonder. As I’ve mentioned P. is doing much better as well and has a mother who has not eaten wheat in years due to her many, many health issues.
As ever I am trying to break the cycle.
I actually kind of miss a year or so ago when my heart would race for a week at a time and I’d be like, eh, fuck it, I am just going to get a lot done since I only need to sleep five hours right now. I’m sorry, body.
JESUS CHRISTO MAN. I thought it was bad when they were little. This tail end of summer was probably one of the worst. But still, very survivable. I am in very good and even temper lately, for the most part. I still get into these hard black moods occasionally where I know I am white knuckling and not yelling at them veeeeery deliberately. Because that would just be mean and pointless. They are just kids, after all.
I did yell last night when Edith’s squeaky alien made its 36th reappearance in the kitchen while I was fixing supper after I had asked Strudel to play fetch outside. I have PMS.
Franny got out of her bitchy mood (mostly) by going to school, though she is very tired now and laments the long, standing-room-only, bus ride home. I try to remind her that if she went to her neighborhood school, it would be 40 minutes instead of an hour, and it would be on foot in the rain and snow (uphill both ways) and she gives me a YEAH YEAH LADY.
She has already made a passel of new friends and they are following her around. It was discovered on the first day that the freshlet group she has fallen in with does not smoke pot or cigarettes (so she says). I said, “Good, that will make it easier to not start, if you’re surrounded by healthy people.” Kids there have hair every color of the rainbow, so she fits right in, appearance-wise.
Yesterday I was having a bad reaction to ghee I had made and was lying in my yard like a useless loaf, with brain fog and covered in fresh blisters that had ripped across my ribcage overnight. Franny came home and loomed over me, dumping her day on me and announced that she had picked her class schedule.
“Japanese, algebra, yoga, a history class where we’re going to design a game like Settlers of Catan but it’s about Ancient Rome, printmaking, and I don’t have time in my schedule for Black Studies and it’s pissing me off. Maybe Farm if I have space. And there’s no women’s studies this semester. Boo.”
“Can I come with?” I said.
JUST KIDDING. I said: “That sounds great, honey,” and then I started crying a little again, because 1. PMS and 2. I am so happy for her. I think she’s going to have a great time. I am so happy she did not choose our neighborhood high school.
“I have a tear,” I said.
“OH MOM. And I’m frontloading science because it’s BORING, so I can take mostly art classes later.”
I hope that this weirdo school makes her fall in love with science. That would be so awesome.
I guess I have less to say about Strudel, because she’s in the same school, just up a level. She’s in a 3-4 split, and is in a minority of fourth graders. The cool thing is that she is kind of over the moon with how respectful, thoughtful, kind, and engaged her new teacher is.
I was sad, sick, and tired in the last school year, and pretty up my own butt (I am still all of those things but in a different way right now), so I did not tell you how AWFUL Strudel’s third grade teacher was, I don’t think. I kind of couldn’t bear to write about the situation.
I nicknamed her Von Hoots because she had a long German name, and we had to make light of things somehow. I was a squeaky wheel about this teacher, sometimes squeaking from where I was stuck in bed, even. I wanted to go down there and arf arf at them in person when things were really bad, but I was having trouble walking when things were the worst. So it was email.
There was an additional complication in the form of an interim principal last year. I really don’t think that helped matters. Von Hoots was a yeller, and would call the kids names, like little brats and so forth. She had a bunny that she would bring in twice a week, which the class enjoyed. After xmas break she announced to the kids that the bunny had died of starvation because she went out of town and forgot to feed it. Strudel said there were tears in the classroom. I don’t think children should be shielded from all reality, but Jesus Fuckity. Sugarcoat the passing of the beloved classroom bunny A LITTLE.
Von Hoots was random about homework. Some weeks she “didn’t feel like” running copies. She didn’t bother scheduling spring conferences, not that we would have deigned to go. Strudel got very high scores on her statewide assessment tests, which was not communicated to us (or anyone) in the spring. We just found out that she qualified to take the advanced learning tests again this year. She takes them almost every year and has been falling shy by about a point or two each time. I am going to contest it this year and see if they have room for her. The kid is already complaining that there is only 30 minutes a day devoted to math. (“ASK FOR EXTRA!” I said.) She wants to find a Mathletes club like Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks. LOL times infinity.
“Today I heard Von Hoots yelling at her new class,” Strudel said yesterday.
“ON DAY TWO??” I asked.
ANYWAY, out with the asshole, in with the newhole.
Gardening! I’ve been doing a tiny fragment of gardening. I planted an orange mint plant and a Greek oregano in my patio pots, and P. went out front and made some changes. I had started digging up the front yard but stopped because P. wanted to transplant the mature, large herb shrubs that were in that bed (rosemary, lavender, sage, some bonus heather). I HATE digging in this yard because you go down 4 inches and it is all rock. We have a theory that much of the rock from when this neighborhood was created got dumped in our yard, and topsoil was placed over the top of that.
So he dug holes in the back at the outside of the chicken pen and transplanted them! The yard is looking a bit more garden yardy nice, the way we like it, instead of serious mature shrubs and sad, vast patches of grass.
So here is the before, from when I attacked in July:
The left open square is now short sunflowers that were planted too late! But it’s okay. We might get a couple of blooms before October.
Here is now:
Winter greens surrounding the quince tree that we planted in the spring, and garlic to the right of that. I think this is the best use of the front yard. We also want to put up a grape arbor that will shade the living room window in the summer and admit light in the winter.
I was very glib about owning a house, and he agreed to do the paperwork, since I could barely think and was so le tired. Frankly, I was overwhelmed with terror about the paperwork. I think this was more bad brain stuff. I had a lot of anxiety with the bathroom as well, because OMG decisions. I said I would handle the decorating and the bills later, which I have been.
But now: I SEE A BENEFIT!! He planted weird trees!!!
HAZELNUTS, YAY! Okay, not so weird. But I have not lived in a rental here with hazelnuts in the yard.
They get to be friends with the cherry trees at the other end of the yard. We (okay, HE) is going to plant a medlar in the chicken pen. We also have plans for persimmon and gooseberry. We will can like it is 1899.
Also…I mean this for reals this time. BEES. Bees are coming. It was on my list when we moved in, but now I think we can pull it off.
I am spending a lot of time with the dogs, as is my life plan, but now they don’t have the stimulation of work, nor do I have Franny to lean on to walk them. When she was here this summer I was having her walk them an hour a day, which was my sneaky plan to get her out of the house into the sunshine for a minute before she went back to Mario Kart and sulking.
I have been trying them out at dog parks, where they can run a bit and I can sit if I need to. Yesterday they made a friend. Cavaliers always find each other.
That is Jackson. His dog walker/sitter said, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. He always finds a person on a bench and sits with them, otherwise I do it for him while the other dogs run.” He hung with us. It was cool.
The spaniels enjoy the dog park, but they like to watch. Edith does a little frolicking but Horace stays glued to me and makes terrible singing noises of anxiety. He likes dogs he knows.
Here they are, creeping on the other dogs like ChiMos. Bonus: my teal boob.
They are such good comfort dogs, which is their point. I feel so lucky to have them around, especially in this past year. It is doing me really good to have living stuffed animals that I can hug and hug and that love this treatment. I felt bad when I was too sore in February to have them in my lap, but they adapted. They lay near me now, touching me, and get into my lap with permission. Before February, they would just assume they could jump up, but I said OUCH too many times when I was acutely ill.
Edith is SO SPOILT that not only does she get a lap during Citadels, she also gets a napkin chin pillow.
HELP I AM A TACO NOW
I thought he was alarmed so she put him down and then he begged for more by doing a little dance on the blanket, so she rewrapped him and he was very happy. When Horace wants something, he does a jolly tail wagging dance, and Edith spins in circles. I need to video this.
Speaking of things I cannot eat right now, like tacos, my sister and I went to Leavenworth on the 25th last month. We tootled around for about eight hours, and had a late dinner. I had most of our bottle of wine, since I was not driving, and then I lost my noodles and ate two pieces of bread that were left on the table.
I had been doing so well ordering the right things all day, and ignoring crackers at wine tastings, etc. And I thought, PFFT, who cares, I will have a bummer day tomorrow and then get over it. Well, I slept 12 hours and then struggled out of bed. I was shaking, had cold sweats, a fever, and broke out in blisters on my torso. My brain was sludge and I was instantly depressed. I have drunk more since then and have not felt hungover or flulike the way this was.
So that was my last bite of bread for a long while. Maybe ever. I wrangled P. up for a Whole30 this month, and Strudel is voluntarily joining too, though I am sending her to school with kefir in her lunchbox. She seems okay on fermented dairy. She knows wheat bothers her, as I’ve mentioned, and she said she suspects corn does too. So we will readd that in October.
I did my first Whole30 in May. We’ve been doing Paleo-ish for a few months now, but I let wheat creep back in incidentally, by not checking labels and going out to “unsafe” restaurants and rolling the dice with being cross contaminated. Let me say, I believed all allergies and Celiac was very real, but I thought diets with strict proscriptions and industries around them were extremely unappealing. I remembered Atkins from its big wave of popularity, and thought it sounded CRAZY (I don’t think that anymore now that I understand more of the science around it). Worse, I thought it was a temporary fix, and then where did you go from there?
I am rarely more than 20 pounds overweight (I usually hover between ten and twenty over), but I tried watching my diet for so many years, not really to lose weight, but to feel good and get more energy. I tried counting calories to see what I was doing wrong. I could not shake the last ten pounds even when I was training like a maniac to take the cop physical test in ’08. One fall I tried going back to healthy vegetarian, as opposed to the “french fry” vegetarian I was in college, and I felt worse and gained weight and bloat. I ran screaming back to meat.
Ultimately, sadly, the only diet that was working for the past 2-3 years was to eat as little as possible throughout the day so my stomach wouldn’t hurt. I worried about how little I ate sometimes and marveled at how I still didn’t lose weight. Perhaps I had shot my metabolism, I thought. I was afraid of “acid stomach” (searing stomach pain that could last 24 hours) and producing room-clearing gas in public and at work. I started my day with a giant coffee, a yogurt, and a shot of apple cider vinegar, which was a hack I’d found for preventing the acid stomach and heartburn (another attempt to chip away at my symptoms, like tea tree for my rosacea). I let myself eat on the weekend and felt horrible. This chart could have been written about me.
Meat, LOTS of veg, some fruit and nuts is working. So this diet I can see doing for life. No measuring anything, except eyeballing proportions of carbs/fats/proteins. No calorie counting. I am not bothering with “gluten-free substitutes.” I had long lost my taste for pastries and those kinds of sweets, anyway. I think I knew on some level what was making me ill. My hair has stopped falling out. People who see me often have complimented the state of my skin, which looks better than it has for ten years. My spark still comes and goes. There is nothing like brain fog to kill your joie de vivre. Sometimes I am sad and sometimes I have okay energy and have to tell myself “Okay grandma, don’t overdo.” The diet aspect is pretty easy because we’ve been doing GF in fits and starts with the girls to see if it helped their stomachaches (it always did).
My clothes are already looser, and it’s not just bloat lost. It might be weird to be thin, since I have pretty much looked the same (carrying my winter coat around with me) since I was about nineteen or twenty. I gained that weight in college and I remember my mother panicking about how “obese” I had gotten (that lady is just a delight). I just accepted that I was kind of round. I yam what I yam, I figured. So that is a smaller consideration. I still wake up marveling that I don’t have a splitting headache every day, that I can drink moderate amounts of wine with no hangover, that I don’t spend all night rolling over on a huge puffed stomach after dinner. I keep touching my skin, which is smooth, unless I have a hives day. Hives day used to be every day.
ANYWAY. Whew, coming down off the soapbox. Also, no judging. And no Crossfit. I like my walks and yoga, thank you. I don’t care what you do, as long as it’s right for your body.
I forgot to bring my camera to Leavenworth, so we went and had our likenesses made. I need to find a frame, because this is going in a place of honor in my house. My face already looks less puffy than it does here. This picture is extra special, because it is also secretly August 25th The Last Day I Intentionally Ate Wheat. I will never have a Victorian year again, unless it’s a gluten-free one. HA.
There was a terrific fight this afternoon in front of my bedroom door. I was trying to get some rest after going in to work for a couple of meetings, which were, somehow, unexpectedly draining. I guess I say “unexpectedly” because that is what I used to do all day, work and go to meetings, and being there for three hours felt just as tiring as being there for eight-plus. I don’t know how I functioned as a zombie for so long. (The answer to that is: “not well.”)
Franny was in my doorway trying to ask me something, when Strudel interrupted her. I saw Franny give her that “NOT NOW, SHUT UP” look, which immediately piqued my interest. I knew something was afoot and decided to watch it play out.
“I just want to know,” Strudel said, “when you are going to finish walking the dogs so I can come with.”
“I finished,” Franny said.
“Uhh. Mom says to walk them for an hour and that was not an hour. I checked the clock before and after we left and that was 30 minutes.”
“I know how to tell time!”
“So do I!”
“Does this fight need to happen in front of my door?” I asked.
“She’s MAKING THIS UP,” Franny said.
“Why would she make this up?” I asked.
“I DON’T KNOW!”
“I just assumed she was splitting the walk into two like she does sometimes,” Strudel said.
This carried on for a couple more minutes until I broke it up.
“You,” I said, pointing at Franny. “I’ve noticed you’ve been cutting corners with the dog walking. I said an hour a day for the rest of the summer. I check the clock when you come back, and it’s usually anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. Which is not an hour. So I do wonder if either you don’t know how to tell time or are being a lazy corner-cutter. Based on my OWN PERSONAL OBSERVATION I believe that you cut the walk short today.”
Tears. Door slamming. It’s kind of fascinating to see them get into this death match where neither will back down and it’s obvious one of them is lying. If I think I know which one is lying, like if I have some kind of proof or prior experience like with this chore, they get SO PISSED on being called out. I think in the moment they absolutely believe whatever crock of shit they’re trying to peddle to me.
It took Strudel a couple of weeks of her sister being gone visiting her dad to finally grok the idea that she couldn’t knee-jerk blame everything on Franny because SHE WAS NOT HERE. I even saw her start a couple of sentences and them bite them back. “Fran—” No. Nice try.
I wandered into the kitchen after lying down for about 90 minutes and puttered around a little. Made myself a panfake. Futzed with today’s batch of water kefir. (Yes, it is that bad now that I am making water kefir like all those woo woo online hippies I hate. Thanks for the recipes, hippies. No thanks for quoting Joseph Mercola.)
While I was cooking, Strudel hit me up for chores to do so she could earn some money to fuel her current obsession, which is owning a goldfish. I had to decline, because they did chores for me a couple of days ago to earn money, and I tell you what, I did NOT get what I paid for. “No thanks,” I said. I asked her to wash her own mac and cheese lunch pot, which she agreed to. I think she knew how tired I was because she even offered to do the other dishes.
“No, no, it’s okay.” I hated refusing, but I knew she would kind of wave the sponge at them and put them in the dish drain dirty and soapy, which is what happens when she washes more than, like, two things. I am so tired right now I am at “IT’S FINE I WILL DO IT MYSELF” parent because I don’t really have the juice to hardass them about doing jobs right. And they know it. I should have recorded myself giving lectures before I got sick. Man, I gave some good ones.
Strudel scooched out of the kitchen and I saw the lunch dishes, powdered cheese mess on the counter, and two open soy milk containers in the fridge. I opened the older one, to confirm that Franny had indeed opened the new one, and I realized the older one had gone bad. I immediately assumed she had found this out this morning as well, and rather than pour it out, had moved on to the new container. My brain was going seethe seethe “I AM NOT A GODDAM MAID” and “ARE THEIR ARMS BROKEN” and other assortments of things that would be right at home in a Lifetime movie about someone’s nightmare mother from when they grew up in the 60s or whatever.
I thought about writing up a list of rules to post in the kitchen to keep me sane this week and going forward, and it was going to be LONG. And detailed. Then I realized, you know what? These little shitbirds just need to GO BACK TO SCHOOL. And that is about to happen in less than a week.
I love them but between their fighting and their thoughtlessness, they are making me insane.
But panfakes make everything better: whip one egg with one ripe banana, fry like pancake, eat, be less homicidal. Add ins include: cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, nuts, coconut chips. Good with almond butter on top.
DEAR GODDAM DIARY,
Last weekend’s ice cream was chocolate malt. I am starting to think that these recipes have a wee little bit too much salt for me, in general. But it’s still good. I’m buying the nice cream in glass bottles, which I also use for piima yogurt and such.
Egg in sugar and malt powder and chocolates.
It was a really nice weekend in that way that people go crazy about here–upper 70s, overcast. I am worried about the tomatoes. A cold snap now that they are on the vine and green will turn them into mealy pulp.
Franny’s back for two weeks. She was weird for a couple of days, like a little satellite who had ranged too far out on her tether. I am glad she was gone for almost a month. If she was here all the time, we would have moved on, but it seems like kind of a reset. We are still talking some about what happened at the end of the year with her grades and the Japan trip and the mood she was in at the end of the eighth grade. I think she was just way outgrowing that nest.
So she seemed a little aloof and distant at first but seems to have settled in. I feel bad about how hard it’s always been for her to transition from two different lives.
“The floors are so clean here!” she said. They are not super clean, but they are free of toys.
She said she had a marvelous time with her dad and I believe it. She said he seems calm and like he has his shit together now. It takes some people a really long time to grow up. I grew up fast but it took me a long time to realize I was human, too. I happened to come outside when SeaFed was dropping her off and I always feel so irritated when I see him because he looks so old now, which means I do too. This is not about vanity but mortality.
I’m home today. I wanted to work every day this month but I didn’t make it. I woke up with a pain on the back of my head like I’d been hit with something. My lymph nodes are huge back there, like olives, and I’m just off. It’s not like a normal headache that feels like it comes from inside your brain somewhere or like a band squeezing. It’s like my actual head aches.
I’m giving it a little time, because I need a little time, and then I am going to dive back into the world of doctors and testing. People ask me about my health and I say, “It’s fine.” I cannot say how I’m really feeling all the time. They say they’re glad I’m feeling better and I nod. This is how the transaction goes, I think. I cannot pretend I am getting better, though, and no amount of taking care of myself or altering my diet seems to be completely licking it. I’ll make an appointment for after Twin Peaks.
I’m going off of some medication to get myself to flare up again. I know for the next round of testing I will need to have accurate inflammation levels. I’m dreading this. I cannot go back on steroids. I know I was on too high of a dose, but I really don’t want that look into my id again. I have this pattern of some life-changing event and then I get what I am afraid is a look into who I really am. I don’t like what I find there. It’s an asshole who likes to wear fringed leather jackets.
I don’t want my life to be about being ill. Some days I cannot bend over because of my joints and I feel afraid. I need to figure out how to be unafraid again.
Franny was saying the wants to see the new Planet of the Apes movie that’s out now. I think I would rather eat ground glass than sit in a theatre right now, so I offered to show her the original at home. I think Charlton Heston is appropriate for any season, but especially summer. We have now watched the first two and the girls have made me promise to show them ALL FIVE this month.
I always enjoy watching movies with them. I had Strudel convinced that she had misread the title and that it was Planet of the Grapes, and it was all about winemaking.
A thirteen-year-old hath given me a mani-pedi during Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
I am counting down to going out of town, but not too far away. I am really looking forward to taking a trip in the Elco. FDR had mineral springs, I have an El Camino with a couch for a seat. I have a long history of traveling alone and sometimes it’s horrible but usually it’s fine. It’s always transformative, at least, which is what I need right now.
We’re going to start with eggs and end with a BEEYOOTIFUL swan.
Recently I read that double yolkers are the results of first-year hens trying to get their albumens together. I think this must be one of Fruit Loops’s, who is around a year old. The eggs are big this year.
I ordered duck eggs recently, because they were on mega-sale through my CSA, and if you know duck eggs you know they are large.
The duck egg is in the middle and mine are flanking it. The biggest one on the left, which ended up being the double yolker.
Last weekend we popped out and picked up three more pullets, since I recently lost a couple of chickens again. We’re back up to eight again.
These are kind of my garden variety deviled eggs, except with some goddess dressing in place of lots of mayo, and with some beet horseradish and a pickled jalapeno on top. I found the horseradish at some random store called…The Europe Store (?), in Mill Creek, maybe, after an unsuccessful mushroom hunting trip in BFE. I am always sad when stores like that don’t sell what’s in their name. Imagine buckets full of dirt from Belgium or deeds to castles in file cabinets for sale at the Europe Store.
This sinister mess is custard steeping with coffee grounds. Beloved Shan stayed overnight almost a year ago on her way to a vacation elsewhere and she brought a really cool hostess present. I am cooking (ice creaming?) my way through it this summer and the first one is Vietnamese iced coffee ice cream. It is KAPOW. A good start.
It’s a pretty nice here, for June. Cloudy today but it’s been really sunny and the tomatoes are going crazy.
My scented geraniums are going bananas. I have flavors like nutmeg, mimosa, chocolate mint. I am trying to figure out how to overwinter them without bringing them indoors.
I’m also slowly digging up the front yard. This is a weird one, because there’s going to be an egress window from the basement happening in this yard, which will make kind of a big covered pit, so the plantings need to move out from the perimeters of the house.
So other than the quince tree behind the birdbath, and the boxwood hedge, I am not sure what’s going to stay. When we moved in, it was four square raised beds with pebbles between, centered with the birdbath, but the bed frames were rotting and it needs to be shifted. I want something kind of more organic and less formal, but I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I stopped digging it up, because I could feel the bees frowning at me. P. wants to transplant some of the herbs in the fall as well. So I am leaving it bee for now. GET IT BECAUSE “BEES.”
Finally, since it is early summer, they actually let my kid graduate. I got her report card and she mostly recovered from her disaster, EXCEPT her Japanese grade got WORSE. A complete flunk out there!
I have been wondering if she sabotaged her own trip, honestly. She was becoming increasingly anxious about going. I’m still sad, I really wish she would have pulled it off.
She’s been really clinging lately–to childhood, I guess. She’s been mad at me for lots of things, including insisting that she check her email once a week and suggesting that she start a book of faces account to keep track of her middle school friends. I want to hand her a crow feather and say, “Beat it to the mall like a normal kid and come back before dinner, ok.”
Her father, the notorious SeaFed, was there, which was a nice surprise. He was trailed by his three youngest daughters. Two of them look like toilet paper commercial angels and the other one looks like his wife. Strudel met them for the first time.
After graduation we were invited to the cafeteria to have cake and punch, but SeaFed fled to the parking lot, where he waited for Franny to come out so he could take her to ice cream. Franny ran back and forth between the cafeteria and the parking lot until I told her to STOP IT ALREADY, I would just come out and see her off with her father. She was obviously anxious about her worlds colliding and tried to slip off, to just leave, but I kept up.
I offered to take a picture of all of the SeaFederales, and he said, “You might be surprised to learn I remembered my camera.”
There was so much in that single sentence, it was kind of stunning. It was sort of a dig at me, because I used to have to keep on top of him about the tiniest shit (until I stopped and found that the world didn’t end, not even close). It was a dig at himself as well, famously forgetful and on Planet Mars half the time.
“Oh no, I meant all of you together,” I said.
“Oh!” He handed over the camera and I snapped him and his four girls.
Franny left a couple of days later and has not been in touch as usual. I don’t think she knows how to bridge the gap, to stay in touch. Just like her running back and forth between the parking lot and the cafeteria. I should be collecting her from the airport on July 15, but instead I will be meeting her at the ferry terminal as usual.
Here is a taco holding an Abe Lincoln.
You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story.
There are dangers, choices, adventures, and consequences. YOU must use all of your numerous talents and much of your enormous intelligence. The wrong decision could end in disaster – even death. But, don’t despair. At any time, YOU can go back and make another choice, alter the path of your story, and change its result.
I got an email from Blogher yesterday and it gave me a nightmare that I was there! Spam-induced nightmares! Probably not the first. The last time I was there I had anxiety so bad it was like the sucking chest wound of anxiety. So not me. I’m glad I wrote for the site for a while, I guess it was experience of some kind. At any rate it let me know I wasn’t interested in pursuing freelance internet writing for large media groups. For a long time before that I was chasing that rainbow, writing punchy blurblets and submitting them to gossip sites, which I think were respectable to have on your resume 10 years ago? Anyway.
Presently I’m experiencing parenting choose your own adventure, which I’m sure will culminate in my head being crushed by a giant ant. What I am about to say probably won’t make much sense (par for the course or rare moment of self-awareness, you decide).
Franny has had a rough year. She is So Middle School right now. As I’ve mentioned, I just feel a deep sense of compassion for her since I remember these feelings. I’m impressed how frank she can be about her feelings, without being hurtful or nasty. She thinks everyone is stupid and annoying at times (welcome to life), and has that feeling like she wants to scream and run out of the house, and she does. Currently it’s just within the neighborhood, but I suspect she’s on the verge of becoming a bus rider, to the extent that will be possible here with all the cuts. I don’t want to make excuses for her, but she definitely seems challenged by her hormones.
We were all set to launch her to Japan with part of her class for two weeks, starting at the end of this month. All I had to do was pay the last bit of deposit. At the beginning of the year we made a deal that she would keep her grades at a B or better, and I would consider an occasional C on a case-by-case basis. I didn’t think this was an impossible bar, since she’s been doing this for most of middle school as long as she pays attention and turns in her homework.
Last week I checked her grades again, which were pretty bad around progress report time, and had been pretty bad since xmas. When her progress report came home we had that fight where her nose started bleeding, dramatically, and I kind of blew it by “OH POOR POODLE”-ing her. I told her then that Japan was on chopping block if she couldn’t turn it around this quarter. I had told her she was in danger during third quarter when she turned in her first bad report card, but that I would grant clemency if she finished the year strongly and her semester averages were okay. She knew what to do, what was missing.
This is the nice thing and the sucks thing about electronic grade tracking, in a way. I’m kind of perversely envious of my parents, who had the pleasure of acting really surprised and blowing up once a quarter when grades came home, since what was going on the rest of the year was a complete mystery to them. I am expected to monitor her list of assignments and failed quizzes and nag her about them. I fell down on this when I was sick for a month or so and I noticed the difference. I often ask myself what the difference is between kids who can self-manage and those who cannot. I knew kids in school who never missed an assignment, while I was sometimes surprised when assignments were due because I didn’t remember hearing about them in the first place. Franny seems to be in the latter camp, unless she focuses until she sweats a little, which she can only seem to maintain for a short time.
I have seen her do last minute hail marys with her grades and the lenience of her teachers, who often let her turn work in late or make up tests. I don’t love this practice, because then you have a kid who is doing weeks of assignments at once, in addition to their normal homework load. I don’t really care about the letter grade itself, but it’s obvious she’s learning when she’s doing the homework and passing tests, so it’s a good barometer. She is happy and relieved when she’s up to date on her homework and trying in school, so I know there’s a feeling of reward there.
Unfortunately, last week she finally passed the point of no return with her grades. School is wrapping up. She got a D in Washington State history last quarter, and is pulling an E as of now. I emailed her teacher to see if summer school was on the docket for her and he said that she might be able to pull off a D if she aces a presentation today, which means no summer school but is still pretty bad. I asked her about it on Friday and she said, “What presentation?” Abandon all hope etc.
When she went back to school yesterday her teacher told her I emailed him and asked if he “ruined her weekend.” HA. This teacher also has a countdown chart on the wall that reads ‘Days Until No More Shane.”
“What’s up with Shane?” I asked.
“Oh, none of my teachers like Shane,” she said. It’s just a fact. Poor kid!
So, after a lot of thought and discussion with P., Japan has gone from being on the chopping block to having its severed head in the basket being hooted at by the crowd. I sent the email this morning including my address for the partial refund check.
We’re very sad. I really wanted this for her, and I’m sad that it came to pass that I had to be tested on the grades issue. I really thought she could pull this off. I am trying not to be that dick parent who says “Okay head on up to Olympus and bring down fire, then you can have some ice cream.” I almost feel like it’s bad timing more than anything else, since the hormone dial has just now gone up to 11. But I also feel like this will set the tone for high school and what the expectations will be there.
She was teary over the weekend and asked to be reassigned from the nontraditional arts high school she was accepted to and put in our traditional, neighborhood high school.
“No,” I said. “That’s not possible at this point.” (It probably is, but, NO.)
“I thought you said if it wasn’t working out I could…”
“Yes, that’s true. But you need to try. At this point you haven’t even gone there. If you’re bombing at your school now, going to our neighborhood high school will be the same experience–a traditional assignment schedule, quizzes, regular grading system. That’s not working very well for you now. Why don’t you give something different a try?”
I feel a lot of angst over this even though I think it’s the right thing. I emailed her grandfather (my former FIL of many years) and told him what was happening and that we would be sending him a check to “refund” the money he had generously contributed to the trip. It was a heartfelt email and I said I hoped he understood. He is a big fan of education and travel, so educational travel was basically chocolate and peanut butter for him. He replied shortly after:
Thanks for letting me know. I know this is a tough decision, but I think you are making the right decision. It reminds me a little bit of almost exactly the same issue with [Franny's aunt] at exactly the same age.
I have heard tales of the terror of the middle school aged Auntie Jaguar. It also made me feel better that I have just a tiny, tiny slice of parenting left in my own life, which is something I have always been running on a deficit on.
Franny and I have had longstanding plans to have dinner alone tonight as “one last hurrah” before school’s out and she’s away at SeaFed’s for long stretches. We are also going to get her a graduation dress for a week from today. She reports that all of her friends are wearing lace and shopping at Papaya, the very hip mall store.
“Want to start at Red Light?” I asked. “Maybe we can find something vintage and unique.” She said yes, but I have a feeling I may end up taking her to Papaya. She is not dysfunctional like I was and wants to fit in with her friends more. I just want her to see there is something outside of Papaya. I guess she can vacation outside of Papaya, but doesn’t have to live there, like I felt I did.
I have told the girls more than once that I don’t enjoy punishing them and that I would like us to all follow the rules (meaning our family compact, of course) so we can go through life skipping and holding hands. And that when we have conflicts I feel more tired, and we all do, and there’s less fun and happiness to go around. They laugh sometimes at this image of us skipping around, but it’s true. I don’t like dropping the parental boom but I am not going to be her pal. I hope some of the gap that I feel between us right now can close a little tonight.
So, dig if you will the picture of time traveling back to Mother’s Day. The girls went spelunking into the chicken coop and there: there be dragons.
They found a demon egg. Seriously, that is an egg. Shell on the left, red yolk on the right. Whisky tango foxtrot!!??!!
Naturally we had to dissect it.
So last weekend, since my life is not boring enough as it is already, I decided to re-line the bathroom drawers as part of moving into the basement bathroom. Most of my stuff was in the pink Eisenhower bathroom.
I have approximately 4,000 small bottles of beauty snake oil. FUCK. And they are ALL necessary, because you never know when you’re going to have a day that you specifically need a heat protection cream that works for crimping irons. YOU NEVER KNOW.
So here’s what I think is the original contact paper.
It gave up easily and peeled out dignified-like and without a fuss. I was telling a friend the other day that it was strange to have a bathroom with extremely high-quality, unfinished wooden drawers, as opposed to plastic shelves or lined ones. I think I could sell every drawer on ebay for at least $280 dollars. That is how nice the wood is.
Naturally I felt compelled to recover them. Franny has already spilt makeup in one of the drawers of the mocha bathroom, so I covered all those too with a different pattern that I did not snap for some reason. I am capricious.
A “bonus” was that I found an ad from 1987 behind a drawer (hollerrrr d.o.b. Morgan).
GIRL YOU BETTER LEARN HOW TO TAKE A HARD DICKING FROM THE PATRIARCHY I MEAN NICE PANTYHOSE
God I’m so angry. It’s making me tired.
PROTIP: How to prevent wrinkles: kill yourself. Because wrinkles be happening.
Let’s have some boring jive about my digestion.
Franny made beautiful heart-shaped sugar cookies on Monday and I ate three. Big whoop, right? They hung me over! WHAT. I had a headache and brain fog all day on Tuesday. Crap. I am broken, I think.
She frosted them with pink frosting and brought them to her friends at school, though, and someone innocently asked her what the occasion was. Her snappy, perfect best friend patted Franny’s stomach and said, “There’s another little one on the way!” Cookie fell out of the friend’s mouth. MAD PROPS AND GOOD BFF CHOICE FRANNY.
So I am fermenting the shit out of everything. A couple of weeks ago Franny and I hit a simple cheesemaking class in West Seattle and we came away with piima culture and a bunch of recipes. So I’ve been making kefir (not pictured) and piima butter (l.) and fruit kvass (r.).
Let’s talk about the other one, who writes notes to herself.
I found this on the table on Wednesday. Strudel is very close to the children’s librarian at our neighborhood library. This librarian, I am told, has just gotten pregnant, and is considering naming her baby after Strudel. Then there may be two of them in the U.S. We are very pleased.
Finally, it’s me. I wake up with my hair all crazy and I call it good and head off to work.
Hooboy. For those who are not familiar, in the popular video game The Sims 2, there is an item your avatar can use to literally suck the skill out of another Sim. I mean, I’ve definitely sucked the skills out of people before, but it’s usually temporary and they recover with a nap or some therapy. So I guess I am looking at my last post date and feeling like someone has done that to me. Time is flashing by again, and all I’m doing is working, in spite of having a grillion ideas about what to write. I’m going to figure this out, mark my words.
So, check this cray shit: my bathroom, as of Monday, is FINALLY done. I think it’s been more than a month since construction finished. We failed the plumbing inspection three times because the plumber is a cock. It all involved something very boring called a mixing valve, and him installing the wrong one, and then fighting city hall and the League of Inspectors and losing. All of this took time. In the meantime we took a shower a few times, because YAY NEW BATHROOM.
ASIDE: an exchange I just had with Franny.
Me: Are you going to eat those Cheerios dry?
F: I don’t like almond MALK, MOTHER.
Me: Why don’t you just put some cream on that business?
F: I’ll have the shits all day. DO YOU WANT ME TO HAVE THE SHITS ALL DAY?
Me: …Is this a trick question?
That kid yells everything now.
ANYWAY. After taking a shower less than ten times, water started coming out of the wall. So the plumber had to come fix that too. I am kind of afraid to take a bath because I am afraid of water in the wall. I better bite the bullet, though, because this room is only under warranty for year.
The good news is that once the plumber started his cavalcade of shittery, we have not paid for any of it, thanks to our contractor. He told us more than once that he’s not using this plumber again. I looked at his Yelp page and I’m sure his reviews are all fake.
I’d rather just have things done, of course, than have my contractor foot the bill. But now they are…maybe. P. took a wall panel down in the basement last night and nothing was behind it, so now we can see directly into the furnace room. I need to take some pictures. This weekend is going to be moving the furniture out of the basement “living room” so demolition can start properly in that room.
Moving furniture is a sucky thing I can do now, because I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. I’ve been realizing I feel like I had some kind of weird mental reset, and now I super care about stuff I didn’t before and I don’t care about other stuff I did. I’m still trying to sort out what goes in which column. It’s really alarming, in a way that’s completely unapparent to the casual observer. I suspect my reserves were really low in February and I was headed for some kind of crash. It’s not good when your whole family licks food poisoning and you can’t shake it off.
I’m eating well. Kind of a lazy Whole 30. I don’t want to join the food/exercise cultists, I just want to eat and feel okay. I have a work comrade I like to go out to lunch with, and I thought I’d get a Thai beef salad, but the lunch menu was all rice and noodles. I just went with it, but it was really surprising. Other than the curry, I didn’t really enjoy any of it. I guess it’s been about a month now on a lot of hardcore veg and it’s becoming a habit. It’s shifting the steroid weight gain and I’m having very few sugar crashes. Very few headaches. I don’t “need” coffee like I did and I don’t drink it most days. I don’t feel like I’m about 90 and I’m a fucking walking thesaurus on the fly in conversation like in ye olde thymes. I was actually getting quieter around the time I got sick because I was struggling for words or the complete parts of a story I wanted to tell.
Franny’s ramping up to middle school graduation next month, and her trip to Japan. I had to have a talk with her about how she busted her promise to keep her grades up this year as a condition of this trip. I calmly told her she would be fundraising completely on her own to have future opportunities like this one.
She went into a tirade about how the Japan trip was my idea (it wasn’t) and how she didn’t really want to go in the first place (lies). I told her that was all irrelevant once she’d decided to go and agreed to the conditions. Her plan lately is to start yelling and try to blame everything for whatever the problem is rather than take responsibility for her actions. In short, she’s acting like a young human being.
I’ll tell you the truth, though, she’s so histrionic lately it’s hard to keep a straight face. I know she’s really feeling these feelings, but it’s over the top. She had taken a deep breath and was at the start of some fresh tack when her nose started bleeding. Franny has a fair amount of nose bleeds in the spring and summer, much like her father, so I wasn’t super alarmed.
“Oh honey, your nose is bleeding. Have a tissue.” I found myself making schmoopy “poor baby” face at her. I didn’t mean to. She was just so funny with her crazy yelling and then she had hysteric’d herself into a nosebleed.
“WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME ARGH!” STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM.
P. came home shortly thereafter and she had recovered and was yelling some phrase at the table in between our sentences. He told her to pipe down.
“WHY? I’m not INTERRUPTING.” ($PARENT takes ten points of OBNOXIOUS DAMAGE!)
“You know, I’m not exactly thrilled with you and your grades right now, and this is not helping,” he said.
This set off an episode of “EVERYONE HATES ME” that involved more hysterics and us trying to calmly and briefly state that we no one hated her, we were just unhappy with her actions. As if I needed more multitasking during dinner. I am such an asshole–I had to turn around at the sink so she wouldn’t see me smiling. I do not know what my problem was yesterday.
P. even called her out on using “POOR ME AND MY SMOOSHED FEELINGS” as a distraction from what the real problem was, which was the decisions she made. It was pretty awesome. I knew he was going to be a good dad. He was pretty much a grandpa when I met him already.
“Are we DONE?” she asked, when we had, in fact, said our piece.
“Not until you’re 18,” P. said. ZING!
Other than the fact that her general obnoxiousness level has risen significantly in the past few months, which I can pretty much ignore, she’s pretty cool to be around most of the time. It’s obvious she’s just absolutely intoxicated with hormones and barely able to deal most of the time. I feel for her. But I am not going to let her skate, either.
Strudel, on the other hand, is an absolute dream right now. She practices her violin and is polite and wants to play games with us and is doing pretty well at school considering she has an absolutely 5-car pileup of a teacher this year. She’s got some of that nine-year-old spaciness, but I’m going to enjoy the crap out of this now, because when she hits 13 it will be like living with a psychotic corporate lawyer who can beat you at Scrabble.