Archive for the ‘Franny’ Category

Today’s fun fact is that iodized salt contains dextrose

Friday, April 24th, 2015


Thetans! Thetans errwhur!!

Weird week. I had really vivid nightmares all week, and night sweats, and just generally woke up a lot. I realized partway through the week, once cool lesions started opening up on my scalp and my lymph nodes started raising again, that I had gotten corn from somewhere. The list of symptoms is long, and it’s unmistakable now.

I’m discovering more and more that things I buy are often cut with or cross contaminated by something, even if there’s no listing. I’ve been reading about the adulteration of honey, and olive oil, and the practice of adding (corn-based) glycerin or HFCS to some red wines. This made me think about why, even if I was making every sauce and meal from ingredients that read “contains 100% whatever this is called,” I was still having adverse affects sometimes.

So this week it was tamarind paste–I happened to be at a Whole Foods, which carries a different brand than my home store. It said 100% tamarind paste so I bought it and added it to a chutney, which was nothing else but fresh herbs, a little safe seasoning, and whole dates. I made it to go with some onion pakoras that were a terrible fail in the fryer (not enough batter). I salvaged them by mounding them like drop biscuits and baking them on a high temp. Strudel and I ate the chutney for a couple of days with leftovers and she got sick too.

“How are you feeling?” I asked her when she came home. I had gotten a call from the nurse earlier that day, who said she had fallen, knocked her loose tooth out, and swallowed it.

“Well, pretty bad. And dizzy. Which is why I fell down. Also my throat is sore from swallowing my tooth.”

I poured out the leftover chutney.

At this point, I think my best bet is to compile a list of brands with the reactions they cause (and more importantly, brands that do NOT cause reactions) and make it accessible by phone for shopping (I’m about to pull the trigger on a new smart phone so it should do more than just make calls and send texts that my janky old grey mare has been reduced to).

I woke up this morning feeling super hungover (no booze for the past two days) and in theory I am supposed to be running in a 5K on Sunday. I felt marvelous last weekend when I had a houseguest and was wrangling bees. Now I have not been running enough and have been falling into bed exhausted. P. keeps asking me about the race and I am so demoralized right now I don’t even want to think about it. It felt completely attainable last week. Maybe things will turn around by Sunday.

Franny was hanging onto corn for the past few months. She told me she wanted to see how she did, to see if maybe just cutting out wheat and most dairy would do it. She had a pretty serious crash over spring break on a day when she treated herself to a giant Arizona Iced Tea “juice” (HFCS). She came home and tried to do the crossword puzzle in People, of all things, which could really be worked out by a moderately clever grey squirrel, and got frustrated and was going all dyslexic in the letter spaces. Then she wandered around the house for a while, and cried for what she admitted was “no reason.” She was in bed by 8 p.m. that night.

I used to get these odd narcoleptic crashes after lunchtime sometimes where if I was sitting my body would shut down as if I’d been drugged for about ten minutes. Things would literally start to shut in on me and go kind of black–aggressive unconsciousness. If we were on a road trip I could stop midsentence and then come back to life about ten minutes later, snapping awake as if I’d never been asleep, and finish my thought. I used to sleep on the commuter bus from Microsoft daily a few years ago.

So it was all kind of familiar. I talked to her about it the next day after she’d slept it off. “Sooo, I noticed you had a large corn drink earlier that day, and your crying for no reason and brainfog and tiredness seemed familiar….” Later that day she said she was going to try to deliberately cut out corn.

“I have no idea what I’m going to eat at my dad’s house now,” she lamented. “He already gives me a hard time. ‘Don’t you get tired of no variety?’ he says. My choice is to feel like crap or eat nothing sometimes!” She eats a lot of rice there.

This is…kind of frustrating, but kind of just silly. We have a ton of variety here, in the world of spices and flavorings, and every kind of seasonal veggie, and loads of gluten-free grains. As I’ve written about, we make gluten free breads or cookies sometimes. From what she describes, there’s not much chance for “variety” over there because ingredients that don’t work for her are in most meals. I don’t like that she’s being treated like she’s making a strictly moral dietary choice or is being a picky teenager for no reason. She feels her stepmother still has no understanding of what she’s dealing with. (“What is Celiac anyway?”)

P. and I put our heads together and asked if it would help to have some kind of grocery list. Her dad takes her to the store every Friday that he picks her up, which is nice, but expecting a 14-year-old to meal plan on the spot, not knowing what is in his pantry, is challenging. I didn’t really get good at weekly meal planning until I was in my late 20s (and finally had a fixed, consistent cashflow and budget that was barely above the poverty level I’d been living at for years, that was key).

So I sat down with her and made a short list of staples that she could prepare as sides with little fuss or cost, like baked potatoes, or putting fried eggs on rice. I winged a really simple beans and rice recipe for her. I told her to take Kind bars out of our pantry as backup. We tried to think of things her little sisters wouldn’t want to raid–not to be stingy, but so Franny’s “special” stuff would not get eaten, leaving her with things she could not eat.

Okay, okay, so I admit that I am often overzealous about hacking my kids’ lives so they will run better and smoother. It’s definitely an overreaction to having zero help with things when I was a child. Sometimes my brain goes, “Hey, you came out of it fine”…except those times that I was unsafe, or underfed, or hiding the fact that I needed medical attention because asking for a lift to the doctor was a bad idea. I am trying not to do everything for them. I know they will go out into the world and step on 28 rakes on the first day, but I want them to have a shot at realizing that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. And that it is okay to ask for help with things.

Anyway, I am happy that most of the time I can go for a run, especially in light of the fact that I was laying in bed most of the time a year ago, and that most of the time my scalp is not covered in lesions. (HA. There’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever write. wtf) I’m happy that Strudel is kicking ass and taking names most of the time now as well.

P. and I “worked” the bees midweek to see what was happening in there and to see if the queens were out loose from their cages. We took the tops off the hives and straightened comb out as much as we could. I didn’t see any eggs yet, but if things are going well we should see larva tomorrow. I will bring my camera for that. I wouldn’t say we were in a rush on Tuesday, but the sun was setting and it was rather cold and miserable. It has been thrilling to see foragers bringing in their fat pollen legs on the nicer days this week. P. says he can feel his brain crinkling because there is so much to think about.

And, for posterity, here is Shan and I on Sunday in my yard after she spent the night. HER phone will deign to take pics. Unfortunately for her she was swamped with monitoring posts for her site/various social media on Saturday night, so I said HEY LET’S BE VEGETABLES. I turned on a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords and we just kind of giggled and had a glass of wine and didn’t talk exhaustively to 1 a.m. or anything. It is nice having the type of old friend who you cannot see for a year and a half and then just sit with them. I am very grateful to her. If she hadn’t gotten in my face on my blog in 2003 or so, I never would have gotten to know her. I get my head pretty far up my obtuse, increasingly introverted ass sometimes, so I am happy that some people have decided to B&E into my life.

Hello to Sring*

Monday, April 13th, 2015

* The infamous “sring” cake in all its glory.

Busy weekend, and busy past couple of weeks. I guess I should start with Easter. What happened? Not much. I decided to see what would happen if I followed the recommended advice and set aside eggs in the back of the fridge for a couple of weeks. I was very surprised I was coordinated enough to remember to do this! As expected, the air bubble was bigger and they were easier to peel. Whoopie. Cross another one off the bucket list, I suppose.

Sometimes I like to show off my eggs because they turn out cool, but this year they were kind of a hash. I bought discounted egg dye kits a couple of years ago after the holiday (tie dye, marble, and glitter) and they were kind of lame! Next I think we will go back to feats with ordinary dye. These eggs were quickly ushered into an egg salad made with spicy chipotle mayo.

Other than dyeing eggs with the girls, and making some nicer dinner since lamb’s on sale and it’s a Sunday, I am wildly inconsistent about Easter. I don’t do a lot of candy because I feel like I have to draw the line somewhere–Easter really isn’t our holiday. But it’s nice to say hello to spring. And baths! Have some bath loot, girls.

I made Franny an Easter basket plate.

And also Strudel.

And then I roasted a lamb leg that I stuffed in part with minced preserved lemons I made in February. I got down to my last one-and-a-half and I sliced some more and added more salt to the jar while I watched part of Going Clear. I know Japanese pickles can be done in an “endless” way like this so we’ll see if the same is true of lemons. Between the acid in the salt I doubt I’m breeding new life forms in there. And it is FUN to dig around in a salty lemon-oily jar. It’s like beach mad scientist as a kid.

I was a Bisy Backson yesterday in the sense that I did all those things you put off in the week, because enough is enough in one day sometimes. I took Strudel out for a refurbed taller bike, which she named Dr. Krieger.

This will be her last bike before she gets a full-sized one, unless the frame explodes or something. Am I winding down on child ranching or what? There’s a lot of parenting left to do, but I cannot even pretend I have little kids anymore.

I also finished a mini-project last weekend: tagging the trees.

I used 18 tags, and only one of the trees came with the house (the Italian prune). We’ve been busy. To be fair, four tags went on the frankencherry alone.

I wasn’t as helpful with the beehives this weekend as I would have liked. We decided to divide and conquer. I helped where I could (caulk, moral support) and P. just hit it really hard. It was forecasted to rain today (and has) so we tucked them onto the porch for now. Franny is on deck to paint when it clears up a little later this week.

I ran out of caulk so I’ve not quite finished the roofs.

Hello have you heard the good news about beehives

This Saturday we’re going to pick up two packages of Italians and then bring them home and dump them into the boxes. I know people have done this thousands of times, but it still sounds bizarre. I will bring my camera so I can capture the site of a truck full of bees (I hope).

Franny has been in fine form lately. She was in a great mood on Sunday and decided to dawdle some before cleaning out the chicken coop by giving the dogs rides. Poor Edith was tiny terrified until Horace joined her.

Horace joins the fun.

Bonus party trick.

A kiss is not a contract

Monday, March 30th, 2015

“What’s the difference between venerating women for being fuckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want.”

–Jessica Valenti

Franny called me early on Saturday and left a message. She’d been at her dad’s house less than 24 hours, which is always a…sign. Could be okay, could be not so good. I listened to it.

“Mom, something annoying and lame happened. Can you call me back?”

I finally got ahold of her on Saturday night. She went outside her grandfather’s house, where she was having an overnight visit, to talk on the phone without being listened to.

“Guess what happened when I got into my dad’s car yesterday? He immediately asked me about my boyfriend!”

“Uh oh,” I said. Her boyfriend was something she was super not ready to share with her father or his family, and so she had decided not to.

“Yes, and he said he found out because of YOUR BLOG.”

“Oh, shitballs,” I said. I understand all too well that what I write is public, but I didn’t think he had any interest. It got worse.

“THEN he decided to have a sex talk with me, and it was so awkward I wanted to die! He said, ‘When I was your age I started having sex and all high school boys are trying to do is get into your pants.’ I was like ‘UGH TMI DAD’ but I was just like, ‘Ok.”

“…That’s pretty terrible. You know he said that because that was his perspective, right? We know not all boys are like that.”

She and I talked about it more later, after I’d related the cringe-inducing story to P. He and I talked about how crappers it was to take this tack–the idea that Franny doesn’t really have any agency herself, doesn’t have any sexuality herself, and sex is something that will be winkled from her because blah blah girls have to protect their own virtuecakes whatever. Also this issue of promulgating the notion that all boys are predatory. UGH. He’s probably just freaked out because his high school girlfriend had an abortion (an acceptable solution, but one that he felt was Morally Wrong).

I had a hinky feeling about this whole thing and I left my ringer on for the rest of the weekend. There she was again, Sunday night around eight.

“Mom, I don’t know what to do. Dad’s been barfing all day and he’s just disappeared into bed and I don’t know how I’m going to get to school tomorrow and I HAVE TO BE THERE.”

“Okay, take a breath, let’s figure this out,” I said. We arranged it so we could go down to the ferry docks and pick her up (normally her dad would take her to school on Monday and she would come home from there).

Her stepmother took her down to the docks on their side and dropped her off. Franny said on the way down her stepmother heaped praise on SeaFed for having a sex talk with her, and wasn’t he a cool dad? And not every dad could talk to their daughters about sex.

“The message is possibly more important than the act of talking itself,” I ventured.

“Oh, Mom, there’s more, he also told me that you should get me on birth control.”

“Okay, I’ll get right on that.”

She told me what happened with her dad over the past couple of days, about how there was a birthday pizza party for one of the children and how he was drinking throughout the day. I get it, he had a couple of days off and was kicking it with his dad. It’s often kind of fun party times with SeaFed’s dad, but not in a creepy “WOO LET’S DO SHOTS” way. Just fun.

“So your dad had beer and pizza all weekend?”

“Yes, he was drinking a lot. When we were on our way back from Grandpa’s and waiting for the ferry he threw up off the dock.” She told me this nightmarish tale of how the usual island hop takes about an hour and a half, but it took four hours yesterday, because her stepmother kept stopping at stores and everyone had to pee and there was a child screaming because they ran out of movies to show in the minivan and then a child screamed for french fries and so THEY PULLED OVER AND GOT THEM.

“Hold up,” I said. “A child screamed for french fries and then was taken through the drive through and given french fries?” I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been hearing these stories for years now.

“Yes.”

“Further delaying the trip home even?”

“Yep.”

“I would walk into the ocean with my mouth open until I drowned,” I said.

“…OOOOOOR you can just say, ‘No’ to that sort of thing as a parent,” said P., sensibly, as always.

A person could look up the word “hyperbole” in the dictionary and there would be a picture of P. with a strike through it and the caption would say “NOT P.” SIGH.

On top of all this drama, here’s SeaFed thinking he has food poisoning. He’s had problems since he was a small child, or so he told me several times when we were married. Daily stomachaches and frequent headaches. Franny said in recent years he’s been complaining of vertigo. We were discussing his condition in the midst of all of this.

“He has these body and joint aches and feels terrible and I say ‘DAD, you should get off the wheat!’ He says he’s in good health!”

“Yeah, his mother had a ‘bad stomach” too,” I said.

It just made me think…there is a weird style of “AHA!” parenting I have observed (and was practiced on me at times) involving “busting” and humiliating your teenager. It really, really seems to make them not want to talk to you and more likely to keep secrets next time.

I guess this is how SeaFed was treated in some cases, though. I think of his stories about his phase of breaking into cars and stealing stereos, hood ornaments, etc. His sister found his stolen goods and instead of speaking to him about it, pulled all of the items out from under the bed and displayed them on his bed, hoping their parents would find them and draw the obvious conclusion. (Not saying that Franny is doing anything bad here–her boyfriend is delightful, really.)

So it came out that his mother-in-law has been reading my blog [HELLO THERE] and was the one who blabbed all this to Franny’s stepmother and father. After how the weekend went, I can’t imagine why Franny was so reticent to share this news.

On the way to the ferry Sunday night, she said that her stepmother was kind of nice. Points deducted from Hufflepuff for praising SeaFed for that “sex talk” but then she was kind of apologetic about her embarrassment and conceded: “Well, Gabba’s nosy sometimes.”

I told Franny I could stop blogging about her, and assured her I am keeping it positive and/or neutral now that her peers are online. (There’s really nothing “bad” to write, though. She is really not a troubled kid.) I apologized profusely for the embarrassment I had caused her at the hands of her father.

She said it is okay if I keep writing about her, but I realized there’s lots of other things I could write about. I could write about how many times Franny has stumbled upon her stepmother’s “secret” cigarette stash. I could write about how Franny has stumbled upon her father’s and stepmother’s weed stash several times in the course of looking for ordinary household items. I could write about what Franny found in her father’s drawer this weekend when he asked her to fetch a handkerchief (“…And I knew IMMEDIATELY it was his dick piercing.” “Yes, honey, this is why your father sits to pee.”). I could write about the strife and tension caused in the household by having a mother-in-law who barges in, hoovers down all the milk, and then splits. I could write about how much SeaFed hates his mother-in-law’s dogs and how Franny has to hear all about that.

And no, I don’t have the good sense god gave a goose and I am a terrible person. Have a nice day.

The Devil’s Bargain

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

“How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is you wouldn’t.”

–JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Here I am behind a desk again. This is a strange one. No one really seems to know what the temp I’m replacing did, or who supplied her with work, or what I should be doing on a daily basis. I ask questions and my emails go unanswered. There are whole days where I don’t really speak to anyone. I am told I will be copywriting “soon” so that should be fun to exercise those muscles again.

I’d probably be panicking if I was trying to seriously get my foot in the door in marketing as an FTE, but. Eh.

So I have a love-hate relationship with situations like this. On one hand, I am making a paycheck again. On the other hand, it is taking me away from my precious math studies. MATH DELICIOUS MATH. I feel like I am not making progress towards my goals like I was, but it’s nice to have less financial pressure. I’m just going to ride this for now.

I know I have 3.5 hours completely alone this morning and no tasks, so it’s going to be a review of engineering and scientific notation. I cannot make this stuff up, folks. This is how exciting my life is.

We did St. Pat’s early because my sister comes on Mondays for dinner. I don’t know what possessed me to buy a lamb shoulder–so bony! But the meat was really nice. I did it pretty easy-style, no bells or whistles. We came home and went for a short jog–me, P., Strudel, the spaniels. I get a little kick out of thinking how ridiculous that little train must look galooping around the neighborhood, but I’m excited to run a 5K with Strudel in April.

When I got home I knocked together an “American” soda bread. Of course I had to add caraway, and I did sultanas and currants, which I think is more like the one in our ancient Joy of Cooking. I threw some fingerling potatoes, chunked carrots and onions, and wedges of cabbage in a roasting pan, and everything went in the oven. I had set the lamb on a delay so when I came home it had already been roasting slow and low. P. made a chocolate cake and frosted it with mint icing, and boom, St. Pat’s for people who are utterly mutts but the closest thing they have to a heritage is being told they come from Southern Irish trailer trash.

We did have some good news last night–the school district finally sent a letter saying Strudel was accepted to both tiers of advanced learning. The highest tier would require us switching schools, which we are not keen to have her do, so next year she will be in the rigorous program in her home school for fifth grade.

This is a long time coming–she’s been testing almost every year since kindergarten, and she had often fallen just one point short percentile-wise. We didn’t have her test last year because she was falling behind. Her terrible third grade teacher gave them ten minutes of math a day when she felt like it, and usually didn’t bother photocopying any homework for them. Strudel was put into a rigorous supplemental class this year and has caught up. I think she’s also doing so well in large part because of her diet. She has focus, energy, and is calm. (Like her mother, who can also math now.) I remember being her age and how hard it was to focus and take a test, even if I knew the material.

When we opened the letter I think we all expected disappointment again, secretly, but she SMASHED it. She was in the top percentiles and we did a happy screamy dance in the dining room. The only downside, and it’s a small price, is that she will have to retest every year to stay in the program. But she’s used to the testing and I hope she finds the challenge to be worthwhile.

Morgan was rather fried last night since she’s doing the morning shift of the pledge drive again at KEXP. She talks on the air for four hours and goes to her other job, and by the time I get to her she is pretty tired. I offered to let her run away after dinner and save more Twin Peaksin’ for next week, but we managed to fit in one episode anyway, before she had to run home and sleep.

Me being kind of fried and Morgan being VERY fried worked out, though, because Franny had a lot to say last night. She had another strange weekend at her father’s house. I feel funny about her weekend stories because it seems like she’s a terror over there, in part from how angry she feels about the situation. I was telling P. this weekend that I kind of feel for her stepmother but my loyalty is with Franny, of course.

“I feel like, ‘How can you not like and pet my flatulent, venomous snake?” I said to him, by way of explaining my attitude about it.

She was a little manic when she came back. She got into the bookshelves over there due to boredom and is cracking into Carl Sagan and John McPhee. Her father was always Mr. Popular Science guy, when I first met him, but after a few years the books weren’t read, they were just displayed. But she was full of ideas. It was very cute.

“I had no filter this weekend,” she declared. “My sister asked me if I like our room and I said ‘NO’ because I just feel like a guest and there’s always crap piled on my bed. And the kids just scream at the table through every meal.”

“You are sowing dissent,” I warned her, which of course fell on deaf ears.

“I was mean to my stepmother too. She buys all these dumb face creams and I walked in and she was piling some on, and I told her, ‘You know that stuff doesn’t work, right? You just get wrinkles anyway. She took a deep breath and she said, ‘Go. Away.”

OUCH. I am pretty sure that karmically, Franny just earned herself a face that will look like one of those dried apple dolls by the time she’s 32.

“AND SATURDAY,” she went on, “was kind of worse because they had dinner guests and right before they came my dad insisted on getting out a board game and setting it up so it would LOOK like we were doing something. I called him out on it. I said, ‘Dad, we never play board games’ and he said ‘So?” and I said, ‘It looks like you’re just doing this because company’s coming over and he said, ‘Ha ha ha’ like I said something funny!”

It got a little dark, then. She told us her stepmother asked her to fetch some pills out of her nightstand.

“There are prescription pill bottles EVERYWHERE–in the kitchen, the bedroom,” she told us. “Pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pain pills…she takes so many pills.” Her mother just had back surgery, and I think this is after knee and hip surgery a few years ago, and is laid up right now. Franny said there was some yelling from her stepmother about not being able to take care of one more person. And I knew from experience that SeaFed was numbered among those she is taking care of.

Strudel turned TEN last week and I was already feeling so grateful to have my youngest in the double digits. So grateful to have dug myself out of the health pit I had fallen into. And then to hear about how things are going at his house…I’m sure they will all muddle through, or they won’t, that’s life. But last night I had that “someone has walked over my grave” feeling, but not my grave. The grave I would have had, had I zigged and not zagged.

You can’t go home again…but you sure as hell can’t stay here either

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

1. Cat Update

Goethe is doing well! She went into surgery on Friday early in the morning. They warned me in the estimate that they may find unexpected things, like a broken jaw or other problems. It turns out some of her incisors were cracked/smashed as well, so they had to come out. No broken jaw, but her lip was slightly ripped and had to be repaired. They also cleaned her teeth while they were in there.

Pictures of pictures, sorry, but I thought it was cool that they discharged her with pictures of the work. There were also xrays and after pictures. The vet tech was a really kick ass lady and I was happy Gert was her only patient that day (as she told me). I had not been fishing around in her mouth at all because I knew it would do no good, so it was neat to see these pictures.

I think she’s in decent spirits. She looks kind of funny face-on. I cannot tell if it’s a scab on her lip or if the change is permanent yet. Her face looks kind of elongated now, and she reminds me more of how her sister Matilda looked (left) before she vanished.

She kind of has a lisp when she purrs now. She’s been doing a surprising amount of purring as she sleeps on my stomach or feet at night. And she is eating an ungodly amount of wet food, which I had to buy special. I have also set up a spare litterbox at the bottom of the stairs. Usually one is sufficient since they go in and out, but of course Gertie is on house arrest right now.

We had a bonus incident on Friday when Gert was in surgery. I had the cat flap locked when she was home, but as I left to drop her off for surgery, I opened it to swing freely so the spaniels could let themselves in and out all day. I took the girls to an art museum while we waited to get the call about Gert (the girls had the day off as a between-semesters day).

For some reason (*cough* TINY BRAINS) the spaniels assumed they were locked in and did not even try the flap. They spent the day pissing on a bag that was in the downstairs bathroom, which we did not discover until bedtime Friday night. It was really a bummer because there has not been an accident in the house for over a year, when Edith first came home and was being trained. I know some little dogs can be nightmares about potty training but these two are great (Friday excepted).

“A LAKE of pee,” P. kept repeating gloomily as I mopped. My own personal sweet Eeyore who knows that when it rains, it sometimes golden showers.

Our first thought was that Mere was pissed off (ho ho pun). But we quickly realized it didn’t have that death ammonia cat smell, thank god, and then we realized it was our poor dumb dogs. Little animals cannot change routine well. We have been keeping the bathroom door closed post-cleaning and have been letting the uninjured animals out FREQUENTLY. We have the flap set to “in only” so they can let themselves back in when they are ready.

Between cat surgery and the hot water heater dying, January was an expensive month!

2. Not Yo Cheese

Second, thank you for indulging my Xtreme (90s style) whining the other day. I don’t want to make glib remarks about the scale of human suffering, but yeah, I am pretty low on it. Like I have said, I think this will all kind of inadvertently save my life. Except, you know, I am being advertent about it.

Today I found out that “advertent” is a word. I NEVER, EVER hear anyone saying it. I thought maybe it didn’t have a buddy, like “untoward.” WELL, you learn something new every day. And then forget it by 5 p.m. or so.

Speaking of things I never thought I’d advertent, I made…wait for it…vegan nacho cheese. AKA, “Just fucking kill yourself already.”

It was pretty fun. Start with a shit ton of oil, which sounds like cheese already.

Then add various aromatics and spices. Then cashews (and potatoes), which if you know anything about vegan recipe land, you know that cashews are kind of a staple in sauces and gravies. I always feel for the people in the comments who are like “I am allergic to nuts and three other ingredients in this five-ingredient recipe. What should I sub?” Um, here’s a carrot. Good luck. :(

Finally you add almond milk and some water and simmer everything until it’s tender. And then whirl it for a long time in your food processor.

The result is a lot like that classic mac and cheese made from a bechamel base. To be honest, I was never super keen on this particular “mother sauce.” I like the texture and adding things to it, but I don’t mind a vegan replacement one bit. I’m more about broth-based sauces or a nice hollandaise.

I made them to order. Ready, this is like a really boring story problem (oxymoron?): An asshole wants to make seafood mac and cheese. Strudel will not eat bay scallops, but loves crab. Her father will eat bay scallops but NOT crab. Franny and SJ are winners and will eat everything. What time will the trains collide and derail? A: Make four separate bowls with tin foil labels. I assembled the noodles, seafood, and sauce, and gave it a quick blast so everything was nice and toasty but not dry.

3. Boyfriend

I think it could have been a little better if I hadn’t held supper for so long for my dawdling daughter, who was downtown with her boyfriend. I think the two of them got together around Thanksgiving but he was a mysterious secret who I was not allowed to meet until Saturday. I think she was getting used to the idea she was having a boyfriend at all. At first, questions resulted in “MoooOOOOOoooooOOOOM” until she unclenched a little.

I, Nosyface, pelted her with questions from the get-go: what is his last name? (“Ummm…” She knows it now.) How old is he? (“Uh, 15 I think?”) So he’s a sophomore? (“Uhh yeah, is that tenth grade?”) It turns out he is sixteen and a junior. She knows many facts about him now. I forgot that when you’re a kid and this is new you don’t immediately need someone’s entire dossier–you just like someone.

I had the world’s most awkward talk recently while I was making dinner about not doing things she’s not ready for. “Like, um, sex stuff,” I said. Klunk. “Because it’s important to feel ready and like it’s the right person.”

“I know, Mom. He’s not like that.”

“And you can talk to me or your aunt if you need anything or have questions. And if you do decide to have sex, you can stop anytime. You can’t revirginize or anything, but you can stop and you don’t have to have sex with every next person. It’s a choice every single time.”

“Okay, okay.”

(It is important to pause here and note that Franny REGULARLY mocks me with this line, but I think she appreciates the check-ins.)

After meeting the boyfriend, I feel less worried. He seems like a very calm and friendly sixteen, with none of that oozing Lothario quality I used to go for. His mom dropped him off and she was nice too.

In failure news, I also decided to try making tamarind candy at home. Rather than using pods, I bought blocks of paste. My one regret is that I added the citric acid the recipe called for optionally, for “extra pucker.” It was TOO pucker. I had a couple of pieces last night, one sweet and one spicy, and it made my teeth flare up into sensitivity again.

It was a good reminder that I need to get a fucking grip (like always) because I was like ACK ACK ACK I am falling apart again!! And then in the next beat I remembered the citric acid and switched off my electric toothbrush to a regular one for last night.

Next time I will just have one! Tamarind may have replaced bergamot in my heart, now that they have long since stopped making bergamot gum.

Batman’s to the left of me

Friday, 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.

“Life, love, stress, setbacks”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

FrannyNewPhone 10:06 AM: jmpjtm?tjtpwpwg

FrannyNewPhone 10:10 AM: Bloop bleep mgmp9jamdadwpw0egd-THEOWLSARENOTWHATTHEYSEEM-ngdjsme89fnhsh

FrannyNewPhone 10:11 AM: gojdamjwt67gdj2mjwtmgdje-COOPER-ngskjdfnhkjdsaghksfj.dcd.cd

F is for fourteen

Friday, October 10th, 2014

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.

$15.99, the Price of a Regular Cat Planet

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

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?”

“Yes.”

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.

TL;DR

WHEW SCHOOL STARTED; Or, In Which No One Was Killed/Died

Friday, September 5th, 2014

ONE.

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.

TWO.

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.

THREE.

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.

FOUR.

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.