Friday, November 16, 2007

Learning to Eat

A friend has been staying with us with a wheat/dairy allergy. She says it makes her uncomfortable thinking that her eating habits inconvenience others. I found it a pleasant challenge to find yummy recipes that fit the margins. I scoured the internet and found a fabulous chocolate cake recipe which made her grin which in turn made me happy. So really the food "issue" made me more creative and made for a happy memory.
In talking with her about food and her allergies I realised it wouldn't hurt for us to try abstaining from wheat for two weeks and see if anyone here has an intolerance. I talked it over with my Dear and he agreed to give it a try.
That night we made a Mexican influenced stir-fry and asked ourselves what to have with it. What about couscous? Nope, all wheat. Okay, rice? Nah, not in the mood. Quinoa? Is that a kind of wheat? I don't think so... Quinoa it is.
The next day, off I went to the market to buy wheat-free things. Rice crackers, rice noodles, wheat-free pasta. I couldn't find rice tortillas in the store but I know a place that sells them cheap by the pound. And I bought a lot more vegetables and meat. Only when I got my wares home did I see that two of the pasta packages I had bought did in fact contain wheat. A clear case of take the time to read the ingredients carefully. Lesson learned.
That night we ate rice based fusili noodles with a meat sauce. My friend had warned me that rice noodles have a very narrow "ready" window. If you take them out too soon they are unpleasantly under cooked and a minute too long and they are sticky and mushy. I kept a close eye on them and rinsed them in cold water after draining. They did have a slightly gluey consistency that you don't find with wheat noodles but they were still tasty enough, and I think, properly cooked.
The next night it was spaghetti noodles with a rice and quinoa base. Those were yummier with a better consistency and less sensitive cooking instructions but the box only contained enough for one person or two if served as a side dish, and for the price, that is not worth it. I will, however, keep my eye open for other brands of noodles with quinoa and see if they are all expensive.
So tonight, I think we will have Chinese style chicken stir-fry. No faux-wheat issues to think about accept soya sauce, I realise. Must find an alternative for that.
On the whole I have been learning that a diet restriction as wide as "no wheat" can feel quite limiting but I am seeing it as a matter of perspective. If you think of the best yummiest foods as having wheat then you will feel deprived but if you think of the vast variety of delicious foods that do not have and often have never had wheat it doesn't seem like such a sacrifice. Also it is probably a lot easier for me knowing that I can go back to wheat if I choose, some cannot and thinking that you will NEVER eat a fresh baked loaf of pumpernickel ever again could and probably is quite saddening.
My delight comes from baking so I have been searching for recipes without wheat. Not an easy task. Many recipes started out as wheat flour based and have been adapted, these, I often find are like calling carob chocolate or tofu meat-only if you have never had the original can the substitute fool you. But I have been finding a few, a sadly small few, that never started with wheat and I am trying them out in turn to see how they hold up. The whole experience is a learning process but I am finding it an enjoyable one.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Morning Noodling

The Monkey and I lolled in bed until quarter of nine today. When we finally opened our eyes to greet each other we gave the other a great squishy morning smile. On days like this I often get the gift of a "Hi mommy!" which starts my day off nicely.
I put on the kettle and popped a bagel in the toaster while Monkey wandered around reintroducing her clown to various characters in the kitchen. I started making a mental "should-do" list; dishes, buy baby wipes, do some laundry, etc. Meanwhile I flipped through a cook book ogling cake recipes and wondered which one my Dear would like as an after work surprise. Monkey ate a muffin and shared her Cheerios with me while I had tea and ate cream cheese and Joan's home made marmalade on a bagel. It was a nice way to start the day.
We went out and bought wipes but I am now studiously avoiding the rest of my "should-do" list. Thinking about my current knitting project. Wondering if I will get work today. Wondering if I should start tackling the tricky Halloween costume I have decided to make for Monkey. Should I shower now or later?
Monkey is enraptured by her favorite cartoon which frees up my time some but will I use that time "constructively"? Ah! I know, I will read the free paper and see what interesting events exist for my friend and I to do this weekend on my "day pass" excursion. Now that is time well spent!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Knit, Purl, Dream, Knit, Purl, Dream...

I have been knitting to such a fevered pitch recently that I dreamed of knitting last night. I dreamed the act of knitting and nothing else, no plot, no characters, just yarn and sticks. This is what I get for making knitted objects a goal rather than a hobby. At least I have the good sense to know that I never want to get paid to do it. Making it a job takes all the love out of it. And there is definite love there for me. The fact that I got giddy when a burly P.I character on a TV show I like (Pushing Daisies) was revealed to knit under pressure shows that I am obsessed and loving it. I don't go gaga over "yarn porn" like some but the act of creating a usable, hopefully, beautiful object really satisfies me. No wonder I dream of it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Long distance relationships

We drove to Toronto last weekend to bring the Monkey to the zoo. Her favorites were the giraffes, elephants, gorillas and seals. While walking to the seal pavilion she was hollering "Seals, where aaarrre yoouuu?" in a sing song voice. And when we finally saw them she greeted them with a gleeful announcement of "Seeaalls!"
We stayed with a friend who always brings my spirits up. She has wonderful warmness and she gets excited about the same kinds of silly things as me. It's only a shame she lives in another city, like most people I would love to have close to me. I have some friends in this city and some of them I have known a long time but there is and always will be a distance of a sort. A squeak in my "letting you in" door. The ones I can fall down broken in front of are far away, the ones I would choose to help me up because they would do it just right. The ones who make me laugh from the gut, give hugs from the soul and gently but firmly tell it like it is all live away.
So despite the agony of the drive there and back the trip helped heal an empty feeling I had been having. I feel stronger after having spent time with someone I truly enjoy if only for a weekend.
Now all I need is to find someone or someones like that here but, of course, I don't get out much.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In the time it has taken...

In June I sat down.
They told me to sit down.
My core vibrated with shock.
I thought "He never wanted to die alone".
I cried some.
I was desperate to mourn in a group,
To have and to be a witness.
I flew to where your name was on everyone's lips.
I got drunk on photos, hugs, cigarettes, poems and Fireball whiskey
And flew away again.

In July I listed your faults.
Love and frustration
Stretched my sadness into strange shapes.
I asked why you had died.
I spoke of you to few in fewer words.
I kept you secret.
I looked for you.
I wrote you letters.

In August I forgot you.
I lived.
I slept and woke up,
I ate and did laundry.
You were nowhere in my mind.
Sometimes I felt guilty for it
But mostly I lived.

In September I dreamt of you.
I heard poems by people you had introduced me to,
People who are not dead.
I cried waterfalls.
I composed poems to you as I fell asleep.
In the night I cheated on the father of my child with you, a dead man.

I always felt like your secret lover,
like if they ever wrote a book about you my name would not be in it.

I keep wondering if I would now love you this much if you had lived.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Addressing The Internet God

Bless me internet god, for I have sinned. It has been, like, two months since my last confession.
I have thought of posting. An idle thought that skips by as my toddler climbs on top of something tall for the forty second time. A passing consideration as I put the monkey down for a nap that has been two hours in the prepping. The blog idea gets quickly crowded out by the pile of dishes, the laundry, the current knitting project, the floor that needs sweeping (maybe even mopping, don't even go there), the phone ringing, the counting back to when I last had a shower (do I smell?), the picking up of toys, the thoughts of what to make for dinner (should I prep now while I have the peace and quiet?) and the long sighing thought of...just...sitting...down...
So, internet god, I am unrepentant.
Sure I left things on a sour-ish note with the whole death thing but hey, life goes on, right? Not to say I don't think about my two friends who passed this summer. Or about my friend who more recently told me he is on palliative care for cancer. Or about the fact that I haven't worked in almost a month. These things are on my mind but so is watching the last flowers of the season bloom before it all prepares to go below deck for when the snow flies. And watching Monkey laugh as if it is the first time at the movie she has insisted on watching every day for the past month. Watching her dance to Elvis tunes. Taking bike rides. Getting reacquainted with an old friend. Laughing on the phone long distance. Working in fits and spurts on a story idea. Making a christmas list of things I want to make for people I care about. These things have been on my mind too.
Yes, I am unrepentant for living rather than writing about it. But I will try to check in a bit more often.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Shining Light on the Debris

So becoming acquainted with the death and mourning process, dealing with strangling financial stress, trying unsuccessfully to extricate myself from family related drama and entering the summer heat wave have all given me pause for thought. That's a mellow way of saying "quietly loosing my mind".
I started smoking again, which I blame on the above situations. I fantasize about getting embarrassingly hammered and I have a running inner dialogue that is bitching and complaining non-stop.
I have cried a fair bit lately.
I have wondered when and if this is going to let up, this crap-tastic ballet of "interesting times".
But right now I am thinking this must all be the universe giving me a good shake, saying "HEY! DOPEY! YEAH, YOU! WAKE UP!!!"
The question at this point is; did I nod off? How long have I been out? What did I miss?
And ya know, I was sure I wasn't sleeping, I mean I got this great kid who makes me happy to be alive every day (even when I want a break), and a swell home (even though my mother-in-law finds reasons to complain about it often), my man is working (earning little to no money and stressed as hell), I like my work (though I could use more of it) and I am happy with my lot. So what is it? What is my blind spot covering?
The whisper tells me it's spiritual. Not "I Found God!" spiritual, but "Operating from the Center of my Inner Me" spiritual.
So I think I'll work on that.
That and giving up smokes again.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Not Waving but Drowing

What do you do when somebody close to you lies and lies and lies? They lie to you. They lie to everyone else and they lie to themselves. What do you do when this is someone you care about and who says they want your help? What do you do when they are family?
All you cut and dried, black and white people would say "kick them to the curb", "enough is enough", "it's not your problem", let 'em sink or swim".
Let me tell you, I used to try to save people. I would rush out at the slightest whimper and wade up to my ass in other people's crap. It kept me from saving myself. And I knew I could help people and save them. I know better now. I still help folks, just not as often and not as much. I often wait to be asked.
But some folks are right there drowning in YOUR pool. Sure you invited them over and they brought their towel and a couple of brewskies but then all of a sudden they are at the bottom suckin' the grate. What do you do? You jump in and get them. But then the next day they do it again! And then you hear that they did it over at whats-is-face's place. And you're thinking "What is wrong with this person? If you cant swim don't dive in, ya dope!"
But here is where it gets hard. What if they feel compelled to jump in- even though they cant swim? They just have to be near the water, they promise they wont go in this time, just need to hear the lapping and see the sunlight reflecting... then WAMMO! THEY ARE AT THE G.D. BOTTOM AGAIN!!! Maybe it's not their fault they keep going under, maybe they are retarded or crazy. Maybe medication or water wings would solve the problem. But no.
I don't know what to do any more. Because when it comes right down to it, I am getting wet just as much fishing the poor idiot out every time. But he's family.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Feelin' Alright

That song sung by Joe Cocker used to be our anthem. It epitomized our confused state of elation and despair. We knew that even though we were stumbling along the edge we hadn't fallen off yet. That was enough. And we would toast to the old Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".
We were tough and innocent. We were plush tanks. We had no idea.
Now I am over 30. I don't quit a job just because I don't like it. I don't dump somebody just because it gets hard. I don't drink to sooth my low points. I'm proud of those things. I don't climb on roofs in the middle of the night. I don't laugh till tears squeeze out my eyes. I don't run out in a rain storm just to get wet. I'm not so proud of that. I wonder now if those are things that naturally go away when you give up the things like talking to strangers all night. Do some of the more whimsical things leave with the manic ones? When you start to care how others will be effected by your actions does that automatically mean you stop doing things just to do them, just for you, just for how it will feel?
I like the memory of that foolish life-struck girl I was but I don't think I am her any more. That makes me sad and relieved at the same time. She left quite a wake of debris, that girl, and she felt aweful too often. But me, now, I feel weighed down by my choice to do the right thing and stay the steady safe course and be responsible and pay the rent on time and not go out dancing and not buy frivolous things like goldfish and potted flowers when I don't have the money. Is that girl gone? Is this a eulogy? Now that I am wiser can I no longer be foolish?
I wish I could travel in time to meet my golden age self so that she could reassure me. Hey, old lady, tell me I'm being cute and silly and that I'm heading for really great things that I will never regret. Put it on a postcard with a palm tree on it postmarked 2037.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Thankful for what I've got

Well, after hearing that my friend MIGHT receive visitors, I impulsively packed up my 17 month old and flew across the country in the hopes that I might get to see him one last time. I didn't. But I'm okay with that because I tried and in the mean time I got to introduce the monkey to all the folks I care about out there. Carpe Diem, right? Tomorrow we may all be dead. Why keep putting it off? Why make excuses like "I don't have the time right now", "It's a hassle", "I'll do it later".
Well the cherry blossoms began to bloom through the constant rain while I was carting the monkey around hither and yon. The moss was an electric green that I wont see in my neck of the woods for another two months. And I got to look in the eyes of people I love and rarely see. It was exhausting and rejuvenating all at once. I'm sorry I didn't get to see Bruce but because of him I stepped out of my little world for a moment.
Thanks. And I still want that seat saved.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

At a distance

Found out a couple of days ago that a friend with cancer is officially on the "too far gone" list. The doctors give him weeks and he is refusing visitors. I am regretting not going to see him last summer when I first wanted to. I suppose I could give myself a break by saying it is across the country and I have a new-ish baby but come on. Life happens when you are busy doing other things. And evidently so does death. Harsh? Yeah, feeling a little harsh over this. And really this is the first person I will have known, a friend, my age to die. This is weird. This is hard. I wanted him to meet my little girl. I wanted to look him in the eye and know that, against the odds, he had beaten cancer and was going to go on being a ballsy, sarcastic, brazen, booze swilling, razor witted scoundrel that is irresistible to all who come into range. I wanted him to spit in the eye of death. And now I can't even say good bye. Or hello for that matter.
Bruce, I'm sorry I made excuses. You have been in my thoughts all along. Save a seat for me.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

First small step for Mom, First giant leap for Monkey

This afternoon I am privileged to be serenaded by an opera which I believe is called "A Series Of Very Loud Songs" composed and performed by, of course, the Monkey.
In literally a day she has achieved all kinds of "growing up" steps. Pull-ups, peeing in the toilet, sippy cups, sleeping in her own bed in her own room for ...alot of the night, eating a banana straight from the peel (held on her own), and pants without crotch snaps. My little girl is growing up. Soon she'll be off to college and telling me I'm a fuddy-duddy for using the word fuddy-duddy.
Sigh. Better go cuddle her before she gets too busy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Playing Catch Up

Well hell. Since October life has taken a turn or two. Lets see.
1. Our newly bought and moved into duplex caught on fire and had to be put out, dried out, repaired and moved back into. That took about two months. And endless stress and anguish. Strictly speaking the repairs are not complete but we are waiting until we can open widows before doing the sanding and repainted of our place downstairs.
2. Not sure if I mentioned in the last post that I started doing translation work from home (and during the fire saga on the road). That has been going well, I could only wish for slightly more work at the moment. Otherwise it makes me happy.
3. The nipper is walking, running, talking (some), singing, jumping, dancing, hollering... you get the picture. But still not sleeping in her own room or fully weaned. Working on it.
4. J finally finished school and started working. Horrah! He feels tired alot but is working muscles he forgot he had. And it looks like there will be no dry spells as folks are throwing jobs at him and his shop-mates.
5. I recently got back in touch with Christopher. He came over, we had tea, chatted about music, food, writing. It was cool. It was nice. We plan to do it again.
6. Allison, my last remaing female friend in the city is moving to cape Cod to marry her Bostonian boy. Selfishly it makes me grumble. But of course I wish her happiness.
7. I have a new story simmering nicely. It's a kids book, and of course, the Monkey is the main character.
8. I have been cooking and cleaning... ALOT! Hey Shel, I think I'm a house wife!
... That's the big stuff. Most other things like knitting, the dog, friends (what few still live in the same city), relations with the mother-in-law, plant care, brothers et al, dreams of travel are all same-old-same-old. Fine but no change.
So...There. I think I am more or less caught up.
I'm not really sure why I felt I should, I mean it's not like anybody reads this...