I blog gluten-free

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dance Your Cares Away...

AKA: The Fraggle Rock version of stress relief!

There are some songs that, if they come up on shuffle, can instantly make a serious situation (like a dinner in which you are trying to be so grown up, and instead of using the classical list, and thus saving yourself, you find, that after Moonlight Sonata, a punk version of the Fraggle Rock theme pops up, (or, around Christmas, having forgotten that I had an Animaniacs version of Noel in there, thus surprising myself when, over a hushed and still Christmas lunch, here comes "Noel, noel, Santa's name has no "L" and he won't be too pleased if you don't learn to spell" comes out of the speakers.)

I like to think we hear only what we're meant to, that a song that cracks you up in serious situations, when you might prefer a more serious House-like montage, is there because God and the Muses want you to laugh. A friend disproved this by cocking his head and intoning, "Manamana!"
While I feel rotten that that ear worm is theirs, I still want to hold on to my theory.
So, if I've been oh-so-serious, if my more odd little ditties pop up, I prefer to think that somewhere, someone loves me and wants me laughing.

And so, when Blink-182's version of Hit Me Baby One More Time pops up, I just laugh. (The high notes are amazing! But the facial expression in the video... combination O-face/ "Oh, dear, I'm becoming a monster" in a dramatic film-face never fails, and I sometimes watch with a somewhat bewildered face. Then again I make said bewildered face when I open the fridge and don't know what I want.

And nothing can date me faster than the fact that even I know when to do the "clap clap" during the Fraggle Rock  theme. It's like my hands have a mind of their own.

(This was just added to my iTunes, I'll see how long it takes before I outplay the novelty.)

Dance your cares away, worries for another day, let the music play... down in Fraggle Rock...

Dear Mom, Have The Happiest of Birthdays

Dear Mom,
Happy Birthday. In honor of you, I hope the sun shines strong, the birds sing sweetly, and you have a chance to just enjoy. A break from the usual craziness and busy-ness of life, and a chance to know you truly are loved.
In the only true way we know: Happy Birthday, Ma. Na Zadrovie!
For you, a song about simply enjoying. Know you're loved. You make a difference in this world.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Centering and Star-Gazing

Well, I guess you can call yesterday "a wash", or "Argh, that one was annoying."

I'm please to say every doctor of mine is on a well-deserved vacation, perhaps all at the same place at Club Med. I'm so happy I could help.

As for me, just choked down melatonin... while I like that Nature Made melatonin is gluten free... it really is a tough pill to swallow. But I'll remember the trick of filling my mouth with a "pocket" of water next time. It kind of sucks having a huge gag reflex. I'm kind of looking askance at the Topomax. I'm also grateful they didn't do Pheno-Barb again, it hasn't really changed much since the bad old days and barbiturates are tough on me. I kind of looked at the doctor with a look of pure agitation... "You realize I've done this one 3 times now, and the Keppra you want to give if this doesn't work out gives me hives, right?" And so... blood tests, keeping up a calorie log, (I've been clocking for a while now---while I've slipped, I've decided to give myself treats, like honey dew melon and canteloupe, and the Rice Dream if I so desire... if I'm hungry, eat... plus healthy staples and... I have to wonder... how to deplete 70 servings of apple and caramel? and keep some healthy junk around. I did keep myself from facetiously telling someone about the German-Chinese restaurant, in answer to "How is your appetite?" "Oh, fine, I like to try new things too. I went to a German-Chinese restaurant, and it was good, but half an hour later, I was hungry for power."- naughty.) Checking vitamin levels too... I know that while I take my probiotic,  multi-vitamin, extra Vitamin D (2,000 IU/day) and the feverfew/ magnesium, and get a B-12 shot monthly, my vitamin levels are woefully low.

I also bought myself a gift at the toy store---a little sea turtle (last one in stock at our Toy's R Us- that puts stars on the ceiling and walls for about 45 minutes at a pop, and is quite comforting. This little bugger is pretty cool. And he goes with the blue and green sea theme nicely without turning my room into a "Little Mermaid Fantasy while tripping".
My sea turtle

I am going to continue working on the whole person...spiritual, temporal, physical. So have plenty on call or via text and have people I can lean on if I need to. However, "I need to lean" is tough to admit and ends up coming out very awkwardly.

First things first, one of the first things we learn is one I'm teaching myself again. We need to learn to self-soothe. As for centering, I'm learning. There's no "right" way. There's what's right for me.

Courtesy of Magic Cabin.com
And now... just what the Fraggles taught us:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

EEG Results!

Fanfare, please, maestro.

Maybe I should use a sack-butt for this. 

Thank you, maestro.
So... two days, wires galore? And two big events? Well....


INCONCLUSIVE! "Our machine was messed up, your events came through later than they should and some wires came loose causing artifacts. We are giving you topomax (Uh, I spent forever getting that monkey off my back) and try melatonin for sleep. It's been rough, and my mother and her hatred of "I don't know what's going on" means she thinks I'm keeping huge secrets from her. I cannot breathe, or eat, or fill out paperwork without her going after me because this is not normal and must be my fault. She also has delighted me by telling strangers my issues, starting on me after I've begun calming down and grabbing my arm and pulling me where she wants to go. When I tell her it hurts she becomes insulted. And telling perfect strangers everything? I thought I asked her to please stop and keep things bright. So... gotta calm down. Again. And apparently... sigh... more tests.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finding a Center

There's an absolute in life: If you go to the ER with a fever, they will find you clocking in at 97° F. I've got test results and then more appointments tomorrow--- (after which, I will be treating myself to more graham crackers and those absolutely delightful Rice Dream chocolate bars- while I don't have issues with dairy, I found I liked them very much during the "No dairy!" fiasco---) today, I really got struck down by "new symptoms" (Not so much, apparently they kind of got glossed over during the "Throw Pills at Her and See What Sticks" fiasco) and one hell of a reaction. Problem is, we have no clue exactly what made me sick... I am currently attempting to rest and take it easy. I started a bi-monthly talk with a priest, Reverend Jack, who talked me through "Centering Prayer"... on a day when I really needed it. Basically, sit. (Er... I'll try.) Ok, now, try to think of nothing, and let distracting messages blip past, sort of like we do those "weekly emergency system tests" that blip across on the television. Try to think of nothing. Well, I've been working on it, but I'll start with a focus of sorts... the rosary bracelet comes in handy for twitchy people, and go from there. If I manage to clear my mind, I am certain that at least one person will feel absolutely obligated to throw a party! I am notoriously bad and I think (heh) that if I say "I was thinking..." there's a little bolt of terror that goes through people.

Today... Murphy visited me. The day before I go for results, and the time when I go for a B-12 shot, but my doctor is on vacation, everything hits me like a sack of bricks! Spectacular. I am capable of speech, typing (have texting convo going with sister who is at an Episcopal Youth Conference... talking wouldn't work at this time), and am attempting to eat when I'm hungry, if not radically adding calories, which I am consulting a nutritionist on, at least helping me, and working so I am good and tired, because I am going to have to be up and at 'em tomorrow. Have yet to discuss caloric issues with Mom, but she is a suspicious sort and I think she suspects. Am attempting to figure out what happened so I can get back on track. But I am definitely a mess. But thanks to Reverend Jack, a slightly calmer mess.

I'll kick this.

PS: I think Centering Prayer may well be our version of the Buddhist-- without the "Ohm..." but I'll see.

I am going to just enjoy the quiet, of sorts.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Enlightenment Through Illumination

For years, I've seen people painstakingly explaining A) What is irony, and B) The various types of irony. Since I just spent time playing endlessly with an online version of Lite Brite (Thanks, Hasbro!) in an effort not make a perfect illuminated rainbow landscape with miniscule pegs, and using the hubris of the enlightened Generation Y, attempting to make it quicker by making "liquid" lines with my optical mouse, all in an effort to bore myself to sleep (big week! Must be on my toes!)- appropriately tired, if not completely devoid of thought... and I do need to "tune out" a bit, I've been running on adrenaline a bit too long... I am not going to go into a drawn out discussion of types and subtypes, guaranteed to have a more technically-minded person tear out hair in frustration and lambaste me because I somehow got it wrong.

Instead, with the effort I put in on a more-personally related front seemingly garnering success... it's still a long row to hoe... to not squeak an apology, particularly to my refrigerator, couch, or other entity that doesn't need it... (I slipped...I said "Oh, excuse me," to the couch after I bumped it,  before I could stop myself. But hey, I can laugh at myself.) I have to say, I find it funny that those who have accused me of being a doormat, generally were those who took advantage before I decided, as the habit annoyed me, to simply "be"... and to remember that frankly, the furniture doesn't give a damn, and that frankly, I can just be myself... and decided to make a concerted effort to stop. Yes, I am working on quitting the apologizing/ "I am very small and unworthy, please don't punish me" reaction. Complete with boxer-like head movement and hands up to protect the face if frightened enough. "You're such a doormat!" will now be answered mostly with "You never seem to mind when you're the one wiping your enormous feet." Until of course, I find a more diplomatic answer. You can still say "Go to hell" and have it sound like you're wishing a lovely vacation in a nice, hot, dry climate. Somewhere in the deep, deep south.

Rock Me, Amadeus

I don't know why, but there's something fresh and earnest about 80's music... which I kind of have as a sort of faded soundtrack in my mind. While I can no longer listen to Dead Spin's "You Spin Me Right Round, Baby"...without a slight evil grin and a little cringing--- and never could without thinking of those nails in the video---I like a manicure as much as the next person (although I am currently keeping nails groomed and perhaps truncated after some nutrition-issue-induced breakage.) but that's too much!

Among the songs purposefully added to my list of "Instant Smile Makers", is Falco's Rock Me Amadeus. For the record, Austria is a country. It shares a language, albeit not a dialect, with Germany. But the English lyrics are:

1st set after the oh so well known stacatto-harmony reiteration of the titular lyrics:

He was a Punker
And he lived in the big city
It was Vienna, was Vienna
Where he did everything
He had debts, for he drank
But all the women loved him
And each one shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

Title lyrics, then:

He was Superstar
He was popular
He was so exalted
Because he had flair
He was a virtuose
Was a rock idol
And everyone shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

Title lyrics:
It was around 1780
And it was in Vienna
No plastic money anymore
The banks against him
From which his debts came
It was common knowledge
He was a women's man
Women loved his punk

Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, oh oh oh Amadeus

Come and rock me Amadeus...

Baby baby do it to me rock me
Baby baby do it to me rock me
Baby baby do it to me rock me
Yes yes yes
Baby baby do it to me rock me
Baby baby do it to me rock me
Baby baby do it to me rock me

Also, there was a time where the rainbow fright wig terrified me far more than the fact that there was a man delivering all these lyrics in a stacatto. 

Then there's the rather evocative and provocative Taco, who also mixed in bits of White Christmas, among others. And had people a little perturbed by adding black face minstrel dancers, which would have been fine in Irving Berlin's day but now cause a bit of a fright and a lot of flap in ours. I still keep waiting for a Young-Frankenstein-era Peter Boyle to deliver his version of "Puttin' on the ritz!" and becoming upset by stage pyrotechnics.

I still wonder what it says, however, that in my "happy songs", is a song in German about the beginnings of World War III due to government mistaking the joy of two young people, and their release of 99 balloons for the beginnings of nuclear war.  I don't analyze. I enjoy.

It's all over, and I'm standing pretty, in that dust that was a city. If I could find a souvenir, just to prove the world was here... here it is, a red balloon... I think of you... and let it go.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Start Wearing Purple

I've been kind of quietly curled up listening to "Family Tree: the Roots" by Radical Face on the head phones I finally caved in and bought, a simple $30 pair from Skull Candy, and enjoying bass and sound as it's meant to be... loud, dark, and sweet! (I love it, and if I still had a record player, I'd have put money down on the vinyl being released.) It is pure mellow magic, but I did take a break for a song that always makes me laugh...and laughter is what I needed.

Gogol Bordello is a band that is reminicient of the polka I admittedly can't stand, but heavier. It is a "gypsy beat"... as in, Romani Gypsy. (And not, the Irish Traveller BBC wedding gypsy.)

The story goes that the lead singer and his girlfriend had a lot of fights. One day he noticed a nutty cat lady neighbor who was given to screaming and crazy behavior. She wore a lot of purple...so... When the girlfriend and singer were fighting, he told her (the girlfriend) that she might as well start wearing purple.

In its' beauty: Start Wearing Purple, By Gogol Bordello.


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Wisdom of the Small

On one website I click onto, mostly to distract myself or to find something interesting, I found a list of 50 things to do--- that are, actually really lousy things to do and obviously written by a cynic. I also found an article on survival books for children and realized that if I had to have just one, I'd get the boy's version... as the girls' is basically a guide to gossiping efficiently and teaching your cat how to sit (I'm not kidding). While I have not gotten my hands on either survival guide, I did pop across another article on amazing things one can do with feminine hygiene products.
The only piece of advice I'd follow, from a list that doesn't take its' advice seriously, is to countermand the usual question that one gets when one gets a tattoo (Oh, Lord, I'm using the Royal "We" and "One"... blast!) : "What will that look like when you're 60?" is to perhaps, celebrate my 60th birthday by doing what I did on my 18th.
50 Fun Mistakes "Every" Woman "should" Make?

Let's remove ourselves from the land of the cynical

1)There will come a time, when dealing with people who think they know it all, where you will feel like giving them a taste of their own medicine. I recently had a moment where, I was going to speak said person's language and say "Fuck off!" Instead, all I can say is : "I love you. I respect you. But I am not going to make myself sick just because you obviously know it all. I would rather be healthy (At this time, I can say, minus sarcasm, I am the healthiest I've ever been.) than be right. Sometimes, in anger, I let myself sound syrupy sweet... think Glenda the Good Witch. I won't do that. Except, if I must, ask, "Pardon me, sir, but do you mind if I vomit in your general direction?" I am not a celiac because it's trendy. I am not going gluten-free because it's trendy. I am a celiac because that's how my body works. I eat gluten free so I can survive.  Indeed, I have to deal with making sure I have all my calories in order, and am eating properly, and having to put in more work. Would I, with my sweet tooth, be able to pass up my old favorite muffins or a piece of cake if I didn't have to? You bet your sweet bippy that answer would be no. (What I'd do to order French toast or not stare at that fat slice of red velvet, while attempting not to drool...or cry. )  So, no syrupy sweetness, but jumping down a throat and giving hell would be bad too. So, I'll smile and say, "In this world, there may be indeed people who enjoy hyper-emetics (I'm trying not to sound gross), and while that is not my idea of a party, to each their own. I'd rather sort myself out and feel good, and get what I can from what I can eat."

2)Is there a reason to be cynical? I don't want to know what I'd miss if I thought that nice people wanted something, everyone had an angle, and beauty is passe and artificial. And that, it's better to be hardened and cold than to leave yourself open. I'd prefer to be able to be wide-eyed and wondering, and wandering, as much as I can.
Perhaps it's just that I can't think cynically. I'm aware there's darkness, people who are charletons and cheats. I also know that I don't know how to be, and could not be happy if I were to adopt said behaviors.

It's a strange path, I guess. And I'll have moments. And fears. And more. But I am better than I was in November 2009. I have learned, I don't look like someone hit me in both eyes any more, my hair has a shine, my skin has color. I am not camping out in the bathroom or feeling oh so very sick and so very tired anymore. If you think I'm giving that up, you've got another think coming.

Also: Taking lists of immature things to do to heart may well cause more problems. Learn to take care of yourself, learn to be happy with a little--- be happy in small things. I have gone, in a space of 2 years, from a borrowed futon, a couple of blankets, and an ancient stuffed skunk, to what looks like the beginnings of a fuller, more "grown up" space... I am beginning to thrive. Be happy in small things, or you will not be content when you have much.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Freedom, The Great Paper Chase Part II, and Pulling Taffee

I'm free! And clean! I spent two days wired for sound (By the midnight hour at the end of the 48 hour EEG, I was beginning to go a tad bit insane as gauze, tape and wires in hot weather is a very sticky and itchy ordeal, and of course, stronger glue was used than usual...)-- the Uzbekistani truck drivers at 2AM were a bit disconcerting, I must say. (So I got up, after about 2 hours of sleep, ate leftover chicken, and dozed back off.)  But hopefully, we're closer to answers... I never like discussing these things much, as I end up having to go through a long list..."Well, the last MRI I had, I had my head in this cage-like apparatus listening to Beethoven on head phones." (For this reason, I think I recall Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as "Thunk thunk thunk whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir... thunk thunk thunk whiiiiiiiiiiiir..." ) and trying not to shiver when contrast dye was injected".

And what, do I use my freedom for? To go grocery shopping... and I tried very hard to shop without panic...and came home again with 8 or 9 bags of cereal, pasta, soups, rice, bread, bagels, cream cheese, crackers, graham crackers, brownie mix, sour cream, other miscellaneous, including fruit enough to ensure I'm... uh...regular...  and $51.00 of meat from the butcher. And... I have no clue whatsoever WHAT I want to eat. Oh, I made S'mores---15 seconds does it beautifully, cutting the marshmallow in half as my graham crackers are tiny. So I had a bowl of soup and S'mores and milk. Healthy! A neighbor brought me a gift of Turkish taffee too... so I suppose I could just go and pull my taffee.

The paper chase is getting entertaining. No sooner do I chase down one form I needed and sent in (Using two 41 cent stamps as I had run out of stamps the day before) but then I need another form sent so I can mail it back. Ach mein gott! "Do you have the forms? I'd be delighted to send you my forms, but it seems you'd like to waste money on politely dunning "Vee are cutting you off!" letters. I cannot possibly do as you wish, as much as I enjoy hearing from you, until I get said form in hand to fill out."
But progress is being made. Here's to answers.

*Note: Have run down appropriate forms. All that stands between more papers to chase and I, are the graces of God and the Postal Service.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just Call Me Julius

33 hours of 48 hour EEG done... and portable machine running at 52% battery power. With only a pounding headache and about 9 Exedrines running through my system. So I had a big "event" or two... but... I've been managing.

Having one of those delightful moments... the so-called- "Ok, Buy me a muffin" moment.
Years and years ago, I used to love the berry blast muffins at Tim Hortons... blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all soft and sweet and melted in the soft baseball-sized muffin, with some candied orange in the very top... yeah... and I trained myself to avoid them and just buy a cup of coffee and a yogurt (or turkey/rice soup if they have it) when I go in. I can do it without looking and inwardly licking my chops and salivating. Or inwardly tearing up.

Ok, once again, the process of "When I Eat Gluten" ... 1) Blood sugar drops. 2)Here comes the crank! 3)Headache that feels like Uncle Screwtape is communicating to Wormwood via drum circle. 4)heart burn. 5)Belly ache 6)I'm sorry, do you mind if I throw up in your lap? 7) Camping out in bathroom. Pleasant. Of course I don't need a gluten-free diet! How course of me, who apparently is named Julius and rewrites calendars, controls clocks and minds, and has health issues simply so I can be as inconvenient as possible! How dare I not know that illness is all in the mind?

Look, dude... I don't tell you to see a psychiatrist when I think you're insane. (I inwardly wonder if I should offer a Midol sometimes.) Who the fuck do you think you are?

Ok, point being. If I cheat on my diet, as it were, I don't run the risk of gaining weight. I run the risk of damaging my intestines, stomach, and kidney and of needing surgery on my bladder, which also healed post celiac diagnosis (via bloods etc and via endoscopy.) when I began my GF diet. While getting my calories is tough... the last thing I'm going to do is eat something that will cause me to chuck it back up again, or cause emotional issues en route to my chucking up. There's something I say when people offer bad advice, that could hurt me: "Thank you for your input", and inside "Thanks for the help. But if you must waste $3.00 I'd be delighted to enjoy "normal people food". And to aim it in your general direction."

Thank you. I know you mean well. And this isn't easily understandable. It's not easy. But I'm actually trying. The help I need should not cause me scarring, illness, or possibly death. It should improve my quality of life.

I am not going to apologize for being inconvenient. I have not been healthy. I did not get sick so people could "help me"- indeed, I enjoy not asking for help as much as possible. It's a sin and a crime to me, to say "help me"... if I can do plumbing, and learn to live in lean times, with stress all around, and be content, I can do anything... I cannot control minds,I am not Julius Caesar or Pope Gregory XIII nor am I capable of rewriting calendars. I can however, work on me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Wish You Peace, Only Peace

There is a certain type out there who can't accept that sometimes, someone may wish to take time to sort through their problems, and that they'll return any missed messages and calls later. I don't have the time, energy, or indeed, the health, to begin to sort through things I considered both sad, because there was no closure, no capability to see eye- to eye. I suppose I could make myself available to be contacted via Facebook, but I'm not there too much, and frankly? I offered, in recorded message form, an invitation to meet me at a local fast food restaurant. I don't wish harm, I have no anger. I have things to sort, and am doing so. I do not need to be afraid that I have someone watching, currying favors, and carrying information to others. My number hasn't changed. Nor have I. I do not change to please people. I am who I am, and tough titty if it's not good enough. I wish no more than blessings and a happy, peaceful life. I have the memories, mostly good, and while I have regret, at this time, I know moving on and improving is what's best. I will not snap and repeat things that were said to or about me, nor make sarcastic comments about those who stick their noses in. Yes. I had and have love. That made last year hard. Because all I wanted was time. Time to sort. Time to heal. I am getting it, I am doing it. I will not allow myself to be bullied into letting people close that seem to need to judge, to have a villain for everything. I do not hate, but would find myself uncomfortable and sick if I had to deal with all of this alone. I wish nothing more than blessings and peace. Period. Instagram? What purpose is following me on Instagram? "Beth found a daisy today," "Beth bought a dresser". Big news. Impressive. I will not say I didn't screw up. I did. I also trusted too much. I am sad for what was lost. I am also attempting to move on. Forward. Not back. I cannot be afraid. That would go against all I am working on. But keep watching, if you must. Maybe I'll do a trick.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Brain

I can't believe that there are people who ask (and I pray they're kidding) "Is this real? Well, judge for yourself.

I love this one---used to catch it at odd times on Canadian television, and was amused when Cartoon Network had it on during its' "hours with time to kill". Look Around You is so spectacular.
With Look Around You, you learn new words such as "Thants" (Thanks, ants!") and Blants, "Bless You, Ants!"... Here is a cute one on the brain. Gotta feel rotten for poor Nigel, but at least he seems happy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Crackin' the Whip

Sometimes, I have to wonder just what gets into me and suddenly causes me to spout the most bizarre and perhaps inappropriate questions.

I had a hard time with plurals for words ending in "S" and X" --- "S" is somewhat simple---you can have one hippopotamus, or one uterus, but you'll have one hippopotami or two uteri. (Or one hypothalami, according to spell check.) I had to stop myself before I asked a rather liberal (in the sense of "favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible...") teacher "What do I have if I have more than one dominatrix?" (Besides the obvious.) For some reason, after being teased as regards a purse I got for an insanely good price, "Well," I said, "It's true...I like Louis Vuitton for quality and for the company's history, but really? I was tickled at the price being so low because of a small stain of dye on one of the straps. And I love the smell of leather.."
 "Bethy, you do have some leanings towards being a dominatrix, after all!"
"What do you call more than one dominatrix?" I almost asked again, "Do they hang out in groups, have conventions and pick out whips together? 'Martha, you've got to try the Pounder 5,000XXT Special Edition!' A gaggle, a legion, a murder, like crows?" I'm sort of glad I stopped myself. I blame nothing more than a very warped sense of curiosity.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Need To Listen To My Own Advice

The gluten-free diet, for any celiac, is our only way of dealing with our scarred-by-many-years of internal poisonings, as right now, there is no magic medicine to cure it, and while a fungus called a.niger might help the gluten intolerant process gluten like lactase allows the lactose-intolerant person's liver to process the sugar lactose... it is not for us. (generally by health foods, as it were... I can't count how many times I was living on fruit, cottage cheese and whole wheat bagels as a "starving freshman"... or the "dieter's pizza...WHY?!- and whole wheat toast, sometimes with something from a phys ed major's list of "How to torture others' taste buds" cookbook, consisting of "Uncle Gunny's Toast"--- a slathering of a thin layer of peanut butter and a scrambled egg on the best multi grain, raised in a platinum and silver silo, whole wheat bread). In other words, the lean meat, whole wheat, lack of dairy and occasional scrimped together when poor as a monk diet was killing me. I kept finding new foods that made me sick. I realized I didn't feel so bad when I accidentally (I didn't read labels, I was simply running through the "health" aisle one day) bought gluten free cookies, but put that aside. I had other things to do. You know, paperwork to chase, a divorce attorney who had lost something that apparently had to be faxed or brought in at 3AM, and with everything else, "me" was not something I was focusing on.

Then in November 2009, we first realized I might need surgery as my bladder was taking a lot of strain and getting messed up, had scarring and I was in pain. I went first to a "nutritionist" (who ended up having surgery on her liver) and then to an actual doctor, loaded up with information on gluten issues and with the gluten itself. And a blood test, some stool samples and a scope down the throat showed I was positive for celiac disease. I went off wheat products immediately, while cringing away from what I was eating now... too much chicken breast, the bread could have been stacked and made into moving boxes. Then I started looking harder, so I could educate and advocate for myself. To this day, I find a small amount (say, a little polite handful of peanuts made with wheat flour) of accidental glutening will not make me physically ill at first, but I can become an absolute holy terror- with a nasty headache I am almost willing to tear my head off to relieve.  A little more, and I camp out in the bathroom. No specifics... the basic drill is multi-system. Psychological, emotional and behavioral, neurological. (I tended towards a lot more epileptic episodes and temporary blindnesses when I'd had something glutened.) Then there's the pain, sort of the all over weakness of fibromyalgia (which, as I'm informed, while I never was diagnosed with it, is basically a symptom of a problem, not a problem itself.) and the gut suddenly feels like you're being pulled apart by a sadist slowly slicing through your core with a cheese wire. And then there's... well, it's not Maude.

I read labels as if I'm a teenager looking for more beauty tips and information on Twilight hotties (I swear, we will never say that again. Ever.)  in Seventeen... although minus the pedis, the giggling and pillow fighting. (In short skirts with pom poms if you're paying attention.) "Sodium, water, carbohydrates, brown rice, corn, and malt"... (Back on shelf.) And I'm forever learning new chemicals and science-y names for things... much like a girl in the 90s could list 20 identical boy bands and Prince William's rugby score. "Oh, how I love you, dear, dear Oryza sativa!" - say it loud and there's music playing... say it soft, and it's almost like praying... 
(A month later, "love" is probably the last thing I'm thinking, if I get too much brown rice.)

Right now, I am doing a swift look-through. I am eliminating one or two foods temporarily, as I'm not sure what, but there's something bugging me. I have a mild ennui towards meat-and-potatoes, a general safe food if going out with limited menus. Some places have gf menus. I either know ahead of time or I give myself away asking "How do you thicken your cream?" (Because off the bat, there's basic wheat flour to make a milk-based broth, xanthan gum... a little miracle that works well in oh-so-teeny amounts, or corn starch.) Or I look at a photo of cheesecake and almost tear up. Waiters are wise to these tricks at many places.
Then there's "Are the rice crispy treats made with the traditional malt flavored rice crispies?" (Yes, generally, although the gf ones are the same price.) And you can usually tell a celiac if a slice of red velvet is at eye level at Starbucks... the lip biting... the pain... the meek, "Um, I'll have a tall Pike Place roast, room for cream, and this dime-sized packet of almonds, please."  le sigh.

I realized that while I am doing well in my long walks, and probably could get yelled at for needing to do so much of them, plus stretching, plus overhead arm claps, jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, flutter kicks, etc... I have failed myself very badly. While I can see problems (My pants all expanded over night. I think it's the work of nefarious little gnomes who put them on a torture rack and stretched them.) I also get frustrated when I see that one or ten little thing(s) (depending on the day) that must go at all costs. I'm also putting in some effort. I've gotten to hate restaurants- I want something new!- and the grocery store freaks me out, I bought too much pasta, and I'm in an ennui stage coupled with "Must take care of anxious thoughts... you're better than this"... I tracked foods for a month, including coffee by the cup, 2% milk, by 8oz glass or by splash- or spoons of non-dairy creamer. In the mathematical, mean, median, and mode list, the most calories I had was at 900. I can't seem to eat more than that. And I scared myself with my average. Oh, no. I'm fixing that. I tell people to be nice to themselves, to care for, love themselves, don't hurt themselves... and I am going against it. Of course, tracking is probably not a good idea. But neither is letting myself eat such a small amount, which tends to be better or worse depending on whether I'm dragged into the grocery store. Bad me. I'm working on this. Time to put together a good, sturdy plan, and work on a reasonable exercise program. A little yoga may help. No, I am not doing this alone, but I haven't liked certain things lately, and I know I can't let things stay simply because I'm used to it. I can change this.

Counting Blessings: Five Silly, Happy Delights

There are times when "I was thinking..." tends to make people shudder or groan "Well, very good, Descartes.What else is new?"

So, I'm putting aside my attempts to sort out the world around me, and myself. Instead, I'm thinking only of five sweet, maybe silly, maybe stupid little things that make the stress worthwhile. And hopefully, not going through my usual well-worn list.

1) There's something marvelous in taking a solo trip out in the fresh air. I don't even need a camera... indeed, if I don't have one on me, I'm more apt to see brightly colored birds than if I do. I'm becoming more and more an Audubon Society enthusiast. (I may recant if I ever get pooed on by a seagull.)

2)Amusing coincidences. I had to smile recently...darn, I did forget a camera that day... Alackaday!
At Barnes & Nobel, I came across a display of different DVDs for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Along with footage of William and Kate's wedding (I joked last year that I was going to see how drunk I got taking a shot whenever Prince Charles looked constipated. I pretty much dozed through it instead.) and The King's Speech - highly recommended!- in the center was Braveheart, and toward the bottom, a documentary of Oliver Cromwell... the Puritan "Roundhead" commander, coiner of such phrases as "Warts and All", who ended up having Charles I executed for treason (As a king, I think it's impossible to commit a crime against yourself, but, eh...) and couldn't help but giggle. I'm sure Oliver and William Wallace would have been delighted. Royally so.
Of course, it still tickles me when I see our local Coldstone Creamery holding court alongside a Jenny Craig.
Which business has the better advertising opportunity? Or would they do a shared promo? :)

3) The fact that I wasn't the only one to be so royally amused at the same time. And I will retire that joke immediately.

4) How pretty the stars and the moon look when you're sitting on a hill alone in the evening, just you, and the occasional car motor or cicada.

5) That I finally remembered that while the world moves on its own rhythm and try as I might, it might seem that I am being rained on by my own personal rain cloud while simultaneously being pooed on by a seagull, having rocks tossed at me, and trying to walk a high beam while juggling plates, is that I cannot control the world, and poor timing can and will happen. Or maybe it doesn't. Sometimes, the world, and negativity can seem to spin way too fast and out of control... all I know is... there are things I can't control (For everything else, there's Spanx! ;-) !) but I can control how I react. Onward and Upward.

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

Over a week ago, during a time where I could not, if I tried, control my body, I managed to grind my teeth just right and rip out a filling... I got myself into a dental appointment, with my delightful, (if dentists can be delightful... I somehow walk in thinking it'll be something out of Little Shop of Horrors... far too many times dealing with prematurity-and-diet-induced dental issues I think.) All I did was manage to tear out a filling, and had that repaired with a recommendation to be more careful and told "Well, you needed one easy appointment!" I also have to talk to an oral surgeon... I have four wisdom teeth that tried their best but never quite prospered, and one rather un-salvageable back tooth. With luck, I'm told my rather crooked bottom teeth will straighten out, as they're a bit crowded. Looking better, however! I'd like to thank electric toothbrush, (rather than cheap dollar store brush that sheds nylon bristles), hard work, and Arm & Hammer Complete, my dentist, and well, me, who spends a lot of time with that brush. And of course, Biotene, when I have medicine-induced dryness.

Along with appointments and chasing down forms to fill out that I never received (I love politely dunning letters saying "Oh, you didn't send in Article IV, Section IX, Subsection MCXLV, and as a result, we are forcing you to play catch-up and rectify our mistake on the double.") I also have a test I sort of dreaded coming up. A 48-hour EEG... gauze, wires and a baseball cap, with no stimulants or showers for 2 days (I need both my coffee and time with Rubber Duckie daily--and I realize that with the Good Vibes tool shaped like said duck having become a popular toy, that that sounds dirtier than intended. Don't care.) I'm thinking...that since I'm already dealing with problems on a new medication (that when I said "Um, this isn't working", was told "You're getting used to it! Keep it up!" and because going minus caffeine might cause a shock to the system, if I should simply carefully cut it down. I'm already in an elimination phase with some foods, and really don't want results that don't quite match with daily life.)

Currently working on stress and "Here's my problem. How do I fix this and avoid more frights and anxiety?" And will have to explain "I'm not hiding, really, but sometimes, I need to take a time out." sometime.
If there's a problem, by God, I had better fix it. No more scaring myself silly.

No more letting people put their own anxieties and problems onto me. I always say, "I'm stepping back". I'm doing it. Period. I can't be frightened lest someone should tell me that I don't fit into slots A, B, or C, or that I need to control something I can't help, (up to and including natural textures or that I'm not quite built right) and focus on what I can. It's a crazy, upside down, mad, mad, mad, mad world. And, when it comes to it, I am built upside down in some ways. I am a topsy-turvey girl and can handle it.

Also: I will avoid using certain words to either avoid confrontation, which I hate, or to deliberately shock someone when I have been angered. I will not be afraid of anger (although, you know, nice girls don't get mad, and they slap on a happy face)---and will find a way to let it out... constructively. Bozo the Clown, or whatever that punching bag thingie is... I'm coming for you. Confrontation? That's another story. Another time, another place.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

1) Accepting the things I cannot change
Off the bat, there's the past, whatever good or bad came from it, and whatever good came out of the bad. That is a miracle, and something I will always cherish.
But too often, we become bogged down: "I will always be dreaming of a better world"... OK... now, the "better world" need not be big or splashy... I need not build a monument to myself with feet of clay. Nor do I need to make money hand over fist, quite possibly forgetting exactly why I went into that business in the first place. Other people? Yes. They have needs, rights, responsibilities, etc. of their own. There sometimes needs to come a time when "I cannot be a part of your life, but I do hope it's blessed and fabulous"... needs to be bestowed in benediction, before old doors are finally shut.  There are things that seem impossible to change "I hurt. I behaved like a freaking idiot and feel guilty that I exposed someone else to that. That I let stupid things hide out in the recesses while attempting to think positive... I kept white washing rather than dealing and moving on. Now I can't do that anymore, and I'm terrified that all people will be able to remember is the negative". Here comes wisdom. I need to go through my handy little list of regrets, and poke holes in some of my theories. Yes, some things are impossible. While I will never be able to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls while said rope is on fire, (although many social situations kind of feel like this, including the flutter in my stomach,) or run a perfect marathon, there's a lot of things, like simply enjoying a day out in the sunshine or wandering among old books, or curling up on the floor and enjoying a quiet moment... that I can do. As for health, I can ensure that I am tougher on doctors, and quietly, maturely let them know when they're hurting me by treating symptoms and running un-necessary tests. I can shrug off the stupid, nasty things people may say...we're all capable of it... including me. I can keep at my goal not to apologize for everything. I can learn how to deal with negative emotions before I let them build up and boil over. So these, once in a list of "Never can change"... are no longer water-tight.

2)Needing the courage to change the things I can
I can ask for forgiveness if I have scared someone during one of my "boil-overs". I can remember not to take things as nasty, or to shrug it off. I mean, does it matter if someone in West Bumfuk, Nebraska thinks I buy my friends and keep a string of human toys? No. What matters is: that I treat both myself and those I care for, and even those I don't like, with patience, forgiveness, and remembering not to keep a record of wrongs. What matters: is that I see people being joyful, happy, that they feel happy and at peace around me.  I can take time to pray to learn to forgive myself, and for more courage out in this cold world. Yes, it can be gray and gloomy. I don't have to be. I can learn all sorts of things, from how to fix a bathtub, or a drain, or how to replace an old pipe, and feel good. And I think I know that occasionally I can lean, and can be leaned on if needed. I can ask bluntly for what I want instead of being scared...and if scared, can say so right away: "Um, I'm the wrong person to ask that/ are you sure you meant <Insert problem here>?" until I learn to ignore the tiny, silly ones. I can focus on a goal and rejoice in seeing progress. I can keep going. I can learn to ignore the negative... at the moment, I'm taking time to take stock and get my health back... and avoiding negativity from a few different sources that unfortunately, ends up getting conflated into one gigantic hell beast. I can get past my triggers or find ways to avoid them. I can put the safety on.

3)May I have the wisdom to know the difference
Here is where these lists I make come in handy. I can go out more, and, with some blockades... what I can/can't eat or drink, what I'll do if I feel nervous... and I can learn to say no without shame. I can say "I like this, but like ice cream, I wouldn't want it all the time", or, "I don't like that...that's scary for me." I can make these lists and cross off the "But"s, the "ifs" and just live. I can poke holes and change the things that don't hold water. And... I can just live, smile, focus on the good, laugh at the bad, and give myself room, knowing that mistakes and bad days can, do, and will happen. I can quit analyzing everything. Or I can use that for good. I can, um... learn to tell the difference between "Doesn't need you over-thinking", and "This needs to be worked out." I can quit giving myself things to feel guilty for. I can let myself feel, without worrying about judgment. I don't have to live in fear constantly. I have survived, can, and will... I can live and breathe freely now.
I can love myself.

PS. No, I cannot say I live in the best of all possible worlds... mine is certainly not pink and peach and gauzy. But I can remember to love, to enjoy, to feel with my fingers and my bare feet, to enjoy, to smell, to taste... and I can "cultivate" my own garden (regardless of the fact that that consists of an orchid named Jack and an oxalis named Bobbsey sitting on my dresser in mismatched pots. And I can be happy. I am happy.

So Simple, So Overlooked: The Swiss Army Tampon

I've posted before on basic survival gear and always keeping a bag packed somewhere so I could run out the door on little notice and still have money, food, clothing, and "essentials".

Somewhere along the way, someone noted the mighty tampon... remember, the word tampon comes from the French, tapon, little plug or little stopper. While these are in every kit I have, including my purse (I dare anyone to tell me exactly where they are... I purposefully put them where I won't accidentally grab one while searching for spare change or laundry money in front of anyone... or while doing a decidedly "Casually Uncomfortable" search through my purse when I want to look like I'm busy or "casual" as opposed to twitchy... lesson 1: always keep hands busy... or people start wondering why you're sitting there wringing your hands.

So, if emergencies do develop, I can act as supplier for someone who suddenly had their visit from crotchety Auntie Flo pop up, or save myself embarrassment. (Lesson 2: also keep Pamprin or Midol in an out of the way place in your purse... preferably not with the mints and gums. You never know when it comes in handy.)

But, it's an absorbent bit of cotton/cottonish batting with a string. It's not like you could (or would) attach all matter of eating and cutting utensils and use it in lieu of a pocket knife? ("When we go camping," said the Dutchess, "I use only the best Tampax utensils."-Bonus if you can say that in a hoity-toity voice.) Well, no... but... as I began to figure out when I found this article among a list of "You might be interested in"... there's more to a little bit of batting on a string.
The Swiss Army Tampon

From a personal water filter, to emergency bandages (but of course!)- actually, the basic Kotex pad as we know it did start off as a thick pad to absorb blood and cover wounds on the battle field, so this is not so much an obvious use, as going back to square one, to material for a fire, or to cool down food, there's more than meets the eye.

And my, what a romantic candle can be made from the string, animal fat, or pine tar, and a mussel shell. Camping= ah, c'est romantique!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Steps Back

I am going to quit pulling stupid stunts that lead me to guilt.

I have got to quit internalizing, and just "shrug" as the case may be... rather than focusing on the problems the world brings with it. I cannot, and should not, let other people's griefs and neuroses wear on me. I need to find an outlet (I'm considering buying a punching bag.) I need to quit being afraid of negative emotions (Are they actually ever negative, or is it just a perception?) of my own, while letting anger, callousness and simple humanity roll over me. (Mixed metaphor time coming up, I think)-- I have got to quit being irritated by people who, for whatever reason, need to hurt, malign, shock, make others fearful or uncertain, and not become that way myself. I have got to stop being so afraid I'll boil over at inopportune times after working so long to keep things quiet and rosy-tinted that a sudden boil over ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. I cannot change the world--- it is what it is--- dark, gloomy, foreboding and full of ennui on the one hand, the type of behaviors that can end up leading to people taking enjoyment from misery--- to sweet and simple on the other- as I recall from math class as I started teaching myself a few lessons that got missed... half of the difficulty comes from thinking, "Oh, this sucks and it's so difficult" and/ or second-guessing myself. Instead, I need to focus on the sweet and simple... playing with ingredients in the kitchen, the ability to sit out on the hill and watch the birds--- the cardinals, the finches, the house-cat sized crows, the rabbits, the deer. On healing. I can't change or fix the past. I have allowed myself to confuse others with vagueness, or made mistakes in whom I trusted. I can change the future. If my footprints on this world are small and shallow, I can at least make what paths I cross on the blue, green, and brown surface of the globe more beautiful... by just letting myself be. Focus on what's good, rather than "Am I going to have a stutter? Will I get ridiculously irritated watching people hurt each other for--- I guess it's supposedly fun... all I know is, it's not my particular idea of a party. To each their own. Yes, I need to be there for others... I tend to get in trouble as a result of this. First: I need to help me. But I am usually terrified that if I break, that that's all that will be remembered. Others' behavior need not cause me to have a moment of stark clarity, and remember everything. There's forgiveness. I need to start remembering that. The forgetting will come with the territory. Will I perpetually worry that something looks wrong, that at that moment in time, the person that worried about things I shouldn't have will bubble up and I'll be a nervous mess. Confidence, among other things, is in the works... and I cannot screw it up by second-guessing or living in the past. I will get better. IT, life itself, gets better. Why am I screwing it up letting people get to me? Screw that. I don't think it's too late to say "OK, that was a step or two backwards. Now get going". I can't change other human's minds but I can accept that for some the world is black and dark, and they need to hurt as they have been. I cannot accept that for or of myself. No more mouse...and no more holding back--- I will find some positive way to relay my emotions... or accept those things I can't change. I cannot let myself constantly attempt to change the impossible. And there's so much good, so much work has been done, and more to be done... why screw it all up? And now, the last thing I need to remember: Don't analyze. Enjoy. Do what you need to do, sometimes, others need to shift for themselves.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tips, Tricks, and a Little Spice

Basic Tips and Tricks:

1)In the summer, wavy hair can become unmanageable. I always use a sulfate-free shampoo and then, after drying, work about half-a dime's diameter of frizz-ease and a little (very little) of Bed Head After Party through. This you'll find in a bottle that looks like a large, scary pink dildo with a head about the size of those sweet Catalina Christmas Oranges.
(I ran a poll, sarcastically, using a photo of me staring at a bottle---"Dildo or hair product?" Bad idea. :-/ )
Something tells me that the "saucy" look was absolutely intentional. Whatever, it works.
I'm proud to display this in my bathroom.

Once a week I run a little Chi Silk Infusion through
And then braid until dry, (Hair that becomes curly- or in some cases, a more defined curly when braided or twisted (for this, use very little conditioner... you don't want it slippery)- has been defined for me as "Bitch hair"... because explaining... "It's just genetics, trust me, I get jealous of straight hair!" and telling that curious person HOW you did it tends to elicit: "You bitch!")

2) or else do a Gibson tuck (Make low ponytail. Make a depression using your finger. Tuck hair through depression. Pin in place. A better photo than I can do:
The Simple Gibson Tuck
And either leave it in, while styling (or not, if my bangs cooperate and work as ringlets) my bangs... and just doing what I have to do.
Simple vintage-y glam... I just use my finger, tuck through, and let it be a little messy. Over-done, it's sort of weird.

Olive oil can be great in small doses. I've used it successfully to comb out candle wax without losing whole hanks of hair.
3)Also: yes, olive oil works to make French toast. Don't use TOO much. A little bit will do, and let the heat of the pan spread it.

4)also in cooking and not in hair: are your brownies oh-so lovely, but a little "Meh". (I love chocolate... just got done with a Coldstone Creamery "Oh Fudge!" shake not too long ago. But it can indeed get boring if you get too much. "First world problems"!)
About a goldfish-food sized pinch (I cook by feel mostly. All measurements are approximate. Use more or less depending on taste) of cayenne pepper or chilli powder (as a friend tried) will make that chocolate POP. 

I heartily recommend the Burt's Bees sulfate free shampoos (More Moisture with Baobab or More Volume with Pomegranate,) Chi Silk Infusion, Goody ouchless elastics, Bedhead...
and to find time to relax and enjoy the sweet and simple things in life, even for a moment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Symphonie Fantastique

One of my favorite pieces of music is Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

First we start with the oh-so sweet and tender "Reveries and Passions", which introduces our hapless hero and the "idee fixee" (the "perfect" woman who invades his thoughts and his dreams.) Here, there's sweetness and innocence:

 Then, Movement Two:"A Ball Our artist finds himself at a dance. Among his reverie, his "idee fixee" interrupts his passion and excitement, replacing it with contemplation and longing. He is alone in a crowd. It does, get a bit bizarre. We present: FORESHADOWING

 Movement 3: Scene In the Fields: Our hapless artist finds himself enjoying a nice day in the country.

 Ah, but trouble beckons, trouble beckons. Movement 4: March to the Scaffold Say this in a deep, somber tone: "In the dark of night, he dreams he has killed her, and he walks to his death."

Movement 5: "The Witches'  Sabbath"...  the executed artist attends an unholy orgy. please note that "orgy" doesn't just mean a conglomeration of horny people, copulating. Orgy in this sense means Word History: The word orgy has become connected in the minds of many of us with unrestrained sexual activity, but its origins are much less licentious. We can trace the word as far back as the Indo-European root *werg-, meaning "to do," also the source of our word work. Greek orgia, "secret rites, worship," comes from *worg-, one form of this root. The Greek word was used with reference to the rites practiced in the worship of various deities, such as Orpheus and Dionysus. The word in Greek did not denote sexual activity, although this was a part of some rites. The rites of Dionysus, for example, included only music, dancing, drinking, and the eating of animal sacrifices. Having passed through Latin and Old French into English, the word orgy is first recorded in English with reference to the secret rites of the Greek and Roman religions in 1589. It is interesting to note that the word is first recorded with its modern sense in 18th-century English and perhaps in 17th-century French. Whether this speaks to a greater licentiousness in society or not must be left to the historian, but certainly the religious nature of the word has gone into eclipse.(From http://www.thefreedictionary.com)

The love of his life has become tainted, mocking, and lost her innocence

*Note: the Symphonie Fantastique can be described as a drug addled (namely, opium-induced) nightmare. Hector Berlioz was in love with an actress, Harriet Smithson. The actress did not return his love, at first.  but knew the Symphonie Fantastique had been written for her. They did marry, but unhappily, and it ended in divorce.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My "Vacation"

Went away for a few days on doctor's orders...apparently the lack of eyesight, double vision when that dissipated, and having passed out into an "absence" (and the fact that I didn't fight people pulling me into a wheel chair and couldn't have cared less that people decided to talk for me when I tried--- my mother even reorganized my purse--- hey!) meant that I should take time out. So into the country (aka back into hell) did I go. How restful. I was shown how to work a shower head, how to run a microwave, and there was a tussle over Grandma's cheesecake recipe (I am now going to make it just to prove it... how am I responsible for the fact that her hand-written recipe is different than the one on a Kool Whip container?) "You can tell you're loved," the nurse said "You're a pretty girl,"... blah blah--- hi, I'm in pain, can't see, can't control myself and my movements, and if I'm allowing people to pull me and put me any place they please, or talk for me (Was it absolutely necessary to inform everyone at Mercy that I have eating issues?!) if I can drop trou and piddle into a pan without blushing... (I had to pee...because I was on IVs and vaccu tainers, I was sort of stuck. Arm & vein a bit swollen, bruising not as bad as it was... But I got them back... when I gotta go, I go. A lot) there's something wrong. And through it all, they couldn't understand HOW I was stressed out?! But on the way home, I stopped at what is a good winery (I think the reason wine is so good in Chautauqua isn't the grapes itself... it's the god awfulness of everything else) and picked up a bottle of my favorite Merrit Wine, the Strawberry Festival wine. (The festivities are next week... and I must say, since I sampled some (at the winery---you taste before you buy) on the way home. I'll open my bottle to celebrate--- something.) Dixie, Mom's dog, kept on me, and pretty much grabbed my leg when I went too fast for her liking. Duke, the winery's 1 year old, 100 pound Italian mastiff, greeted me and just laid his huge head on my thigh. I was puppy-loved.

Seriously, though... after attempting to ensure that Mom & grandkids got to talk (using a sticky DSL connection at that) and the fun of "casual racism as only those born pre-1950 can provide)--- sheesh...after all of that... I can say "I love you all. But I need a rest so I can recover from all that relaxation." (Or, "if that's love, can you just hate me, please?")