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


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.


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.

3 thoughts on “WHEW SCHOOL STARTED; Or, In Which No One Was Killed/Died

  1. Can’t hurt, was my thought. If it was something with a bunch of prepackaged powder, a book/system that you needed to buy etc, then NO. But it’s just food. Let me know if you try it. I am no expert but I’d be happy to answer questions about my experience. I love that it sneaky helped P. He didn’t even know he needed a change. :)

  2. I have stupid joint issues and the AIP (which is like the whole 30 but is also an elimination diet) and done wonders for my health.

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