Category: Uncategorized


I sat today reading the words I had pecked out so long ago here in this little space.  I thought I had deleted this blog a year ago when life became busy and time became scarce.  It turns out, I never got around to deleting this blog, though the guilt I felt at not writing here reliably had told me that I should.  So I sit, pondering.  Do I write?  Do I delete?  Do I simply walk away and let it be?  Reading my own words about that first gluten free Thanksgiving took me back to that little condo with the tiny kitchen where a new chapter of my life began.  I thought back to last year, to the not so tiny kitchen in the home that feels just right to me and felt a pang at all the memories that will slip away.  The year Sweet One was gone I had oodles of time and not much desire nor ability to slumber so I wrote.  He came home late that October back in 2010 and the flurry of holiday with two families began.  It was the following February that we closed on our home.  Eight months after that we traveled once again to my favorite place on Earth and stood in a field I had long dreamed of saying “I do” in and that dream became reality.  A few weeks later his mother hosted a wedding reception for us.  By then the holiday chaos had begun in earnest again and yet another year had passed.  Twelve months have gone by in a flurry since all of that occurred.  I have to stop and do the math every once in awhile when someone asks me how long I have been gluten free, or what year he was deployed, or how long we’ve lived in our house.  I have always blamed my lack of ability to comprehend the movement of time on the fact I do not have a child in my home.  There are fewer markers of time when there are not small ones around.  I sigh a bit to myself when I realize that in all those months that have gone by there are no words written to explain my heart and mind.  I never wrote of them, not even for myself.  Instead I was busy living this crazy life of mine.

Perhaps I will find words again.  I can not go back and fill in all those months.  It would take too long to sort out my heart and figure out the words to convey it all.  Besides, time always changes perspective and what I wrote now would not be true of how I felt then.  The lessons I have learned and the places I have been taken would taint the memories and the recollections.  Time moves too fast for me, but I am still grateful for the life I am living along the way.

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Never had we gathered around the dining room table.  In various combinations we had been joined in those same chairs, but never all at the same time.  When Sweet One came home, it was a promise we made to one another.  We would gather together with those that we love, with those that he served with an ocean away, with friends we have each made along life’s journey.  Dining out, it’s a challenge these days.  Gluten free was somewhat possible to manage, but gluten free and msg free is an altogether different ball game.  Every time MSG finds its way in the affects on my body reaching deeper and taking longer to fade.  I know, in time, if I keep exposing my body to the poison I will be where I am with gluten.  I am bound and determined to avoid that catastrophe.  Bearing this in mind the texts flew between sister and I flew.  Dinner, was arranged.  This time, I would cook in my own kitchen and they would come.

I spent a few hours, the night before we were slated to gather, preparing the meal.   I had the pork roast in the crock, the apple pie cooling on the counter, the cookie dough resting in the refrigerator, the cutting board cleansed from the salad prep, the bread risen and safely stowed in the refrigerator to be baked the next afternoon.  The sweet potatoes waited to be peeled, but they would continue to wait until just before everyone gathered.  I glanced around the kitchen, content with the evenings work.  I am always happiest when the kitchen has been torn apart and been put back together again, the labors of love resting quietly on the counters, in the refrigerator, in the freezer, or anywhere else they will fit in my ridiculously tiny kitchen.  Someday I will have a kitchen that is more fitting to the passions of my life, but for now we make do with the tiny little counter as we fumble around one another.  I chose to be grateful that he is there, underfoot and willing to help.  My eyes grew misty more than once at the simple fact he was there doing the dishes that I was dirtying.  We waited a long year for nights like this to occur.

They came, the next night.  The clan that became mine five years ago, the man who chose to love me, and I gathered around the dining room table they gifted me.  That table saw sis through her collage days, saw the early days of her parenthood, was given to me in my days as a single woman, and now sees us through this season of change as families morph into something new and yet familiar.  It’s an old table, just the way a table ought to be.  The scuff marks and faded paint make me smile.  Aren’t we all just a little scuffed and faded by the time we enter our third decade of life?  I don’t mind that the table reflects that sentiment.  It seems proper to me somehow.  We devoured the food set upon that old table.  The sweet potatoes disappeared, though not quite as fast as the bread.  The pork roast was exclaimed over multiple times.  I love the words my people give me when it comes to food, but no praise speaks quite so loudly as the silence when they chew, the slight clatter of spoons against ceramic as they reach for second portions.  My heart danced a bit when the eldest boy asked me “Can I have more of THAT?” and reached for the roast he originally wrinkled his nose at.

The mere scraps of pork roast that remained on the platter, the scant crumbs scattered over the cutting board that held the bread a mere half hour ago, the half empty bowl of sweet potatoes, the still full bowl of salad, they told me all I needed to know about our evening meal.  The content smiles, the nearly empty glasses of wine, and the grown-ups gathered on the back patio as the children played the games of boys who are given flashlights were a peaceful ending to the clan dinner made my heart sing. Later as the men reached for second portions of apple pie and the eldest nephew gave me his most pathetic begging eyes as he requested “Just one more awesome cookie” I settled into the happiest place of my culinary heart.  I have missed cooking for those I love.  It was good, to gather again and feed them food I know is good for the bodies.  That is good for my soul.   Never before had we gathered like this, with all of us around one table in person rather than one joining via cell phone.  Never before, but many times to come.  This is the prayer I whispered as I sat enjoying the laughter and the clatter of so many under one roof.  A simple prayer “let there be more, of this”.

Farmers Market

It was the most delightful morning on Saturday.  It seems that Fall finally notified the thermometer that it should read something less than 90 degrees so we made our way to the Scottsdale Farmers Market.  I wandered the aisles in a state of awe at both the crisp air and the amazing products around me.  Artisan cheeses, homemade apple butter, free range chickens, and goat meat all for sale by sweet people who clearly love what they do.  There were a number of gluten free offerings hidden like treasures throughout the market.  I would have loved to try them all, but it was not possible.  The apple butter was safe, the saltines she offered me with a dab of the dark goodness were not.  The goat cheese should have been fine, but where had the cutting board been?  I’m too sensitive to the slightest amount of gluten so I shook my head no and held a hand up to vendor after vendor.  Sweet One was kind enough to try a few things for me.  The vendor’s baffled as I watched him eagerly quizzing him on flavor and texture.  Some products we simply purchased untested.

Then, there was McClendon’s.  They provide basket upon basket of the beautiful bounty fall brings our way.  There were the usual suspects like onions, potatoes, garlic and zucchini.  There were strange things I had never seen before like Tokyo Cross Turnips(they are delightful – a bit like a radish and a turnip in one little white ball).  I could have explored for an hour, but it seems that everyone else loves this stall as well. The line waiting when they opened reminded me of a Nascar race.  Everyone anticipating and literally running as soon as the signal was given that set-up was complete.  McClendon’s produce was lovely, bright, crisp, and fragrant.  Their website has a handy reference sheet on the “proper” way to store produce!

As much as I loved the veggies, my favorite find of the day was hands down the peppercorn chevre.  We seem to find a new “need” for it each evening.  It’s graced Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn tortilla chips, been sprinkled over fritatta’s, and been slathered over the ratatouille and quinoa dinner we shared.
I can’t wait to go back again!

Much to be done

The dragonflies come out to play at twilight so the pup and I walk the sidewalks together seeking the sparkling wings of those tiny creatures.  His leash in my right hand the camera in my left we explore the world just outside our front door.  The first night I grabbed the camera with barely a thought, just an intention to capture the bright purple beauty sitting on the porch.  Each evening since I have grabbed the camera on my way out the door.  I find a certain solace in these walks, a quiet call to live right now with all the pleasure possible.  I notice the little moments when I seek them through my lens.  The flowers blooming.  The bumble bee playing.  The glorious colors of sunsets.  The weight of the air in monsoon season.  Our walks are longer as the days grow shorter.  This shortening of days assures me that fall really is on the horizon.  I ache for fall to arrive.  With the arrival of fall will come the return of my soldier.  The calendar says it will be soon, for really, what is two months in the span of four hundred days. There is much to be done in the days that remain.

The list of projects yet to be marked done fill the pages of the notebook in which they were scrawled.  Soon there will be a frenzy in the kitchen.  I must master the pie crust, dinner rolls, cornbread sage dressing, and all other manner of Thanksgiving feast for both the gluten and dairy intolerant.  I must make for the man who’s presence has been gone so very long food to fill the cavern that the paltry rotation of army fare has left in its wake this last year.  There is much to be done..

There are bags to sew, a quilt to make, an afghan to finish, another to begin.  I have pages that detail the fabric to be purchased, the yarn to be found, the patters to be followed.  My hands will be busy in the days to come.  There is much to be done.

For now, my evening meals are filled with lovely fresh vegetables sliced on the mandolin a dear friend gifted me and dipped in refreshing hummus.  There are ham and cheese sandwiches, simple fare in a busy day.  There are scrambled eggs, protein enhanced smoothies, and even the occasional Amy’s Kitchen frozen meal.

For now, I will sit in the quiet and pull yarn over hook until the eldest boys afghan is done.  For now, there is not much cooking to be done, but soon there will be a frenzy.  When the frenzy begins, I will write again.

Four Days

It was the sinus infection in early March that really made me question my body.  I understood why my face hurt, I understood the throbbing in my head.  Those things made sense to me. The intense migraines for days on end, the incredible vertigo that bound me to a wheel chair in the doctors office, and the way I could not even walk across the room unassisted did not make sense to me.  My patient sister with the natural nursing instinct kept me on a steady stream of medicine, toast, and crackers.  Day after day I got worse.  The doctor gave me a stronger antibiotic, and still I worsened.  It was not until I left the shelter of the sick bed she made for me on her couch and returned to my own walls and my own food that I began to heal again.  I didn’t understand then, the diet I had begun in interest of shedding pounds had limited amounts of gluten. Slowly I had begun to heal my intestines.  I had feared those crackers and that toast might add pounds back to my more slender frame.  I did not know at the time that the damage they were causing was far worse than a few added pounds.  They had triggered the intestinal response to gluten, and they were to blame for the vertigo and the migraines.  It was a week and a half I was so terribly ill.  It took only a few days of eating my unintentionally less glutenous food to heal.

The memory of that spurred me to try this gluten free diet.  It’s only been four days.  I should wait longer, before making the leap I am about to make.  I can’t though.  I know.

It may only be four days, but they are four glorious days.  Four days without one single head ache after having lived with them every day for over a decade tells me everything I need to know.  Four days of sleeping blissfully, even when I don’t drink a glass of wine tells me.  Four days of feeling like bouncing out of my skin with joy because I’m not exhausted tells me.  Four days of feeling lighter than I ever have, tells me everything that matters to me right now.
This is after FOUR DAYS.  Where will I be in four months, four years?  I joyfully anticipate what will be unwrapped in the days and months to come now that the gift of health can be restored to my body.

Hope was first a small light, calling me deeper into the pages of the web.  Now it floods brilliantly bright and I know something I did not know before.  I will not simply decay, my body failing more and more with each passing birthday.  I can do something about it, and I can live.  I can really live.  Not live “despite” but simply live.