I’m a list maker. Lists are wonderful little gifts to myself costing nothing except the paper on which I write them and the ink used to pen them. I love making lists before I go grocery shopping so I remember to buy what I’m out of, about to run out of, want to try, or have but it’s on sale so I should get more. I’ll admit that half the time I forget to bring the actual piece of paper on which the list is made when I leave the house, but the act of making the list puts about 80% of what’s on the list into my short term memory so I’m better off than if I didn’t make a list at all. What I forget to buy, I just add to the list for the next shopping trip.
I also love making Christmas lists. Lists of things to do to get ready for Christmas; things to buy for the various Christmas meals; things to make for the various Christmas meals; and events to attend (and things to buy for said events, such as hostess gifts). Checking off each item on the list feels really satisfying. Vacuum. Check. Clean the bathrooms. Check. Check. Check. Nap. CHECK! Each check feels like a gift, maybe an affirmation of my value or at least evidence of my efficiency. Continue reading Holiday Lessons: #2 The Gifts of Giving and Being Gifted
Ah, family. It’s the unit that nothing trumps in importance. It’s the unit into which you didn’t choose to be born but to which you always are connected. It’s the unit that’s thicker than water (its blood, anyway), the unit that measures success in terms of what it’s done for you and failure in terms of what you haven’t done for it. It’s the unit source of the genetic weaknesses causing your chronic illnesses (including celiac disease) and the genetic code for why you have/don’t have a widow’s peak or a hitchhiker’s thumb or blue eyes and red hair. It’s also the unit that psychologists use to explain who you are and how difficult it will be to fix you.
I love my family. My family is awesome, especially my Dad, who for decades has suffered the burden of being Henry Winkler’s doppelganger. Back in the seventies, people would chase Dad through the airport, convinced he really was the Fonz and just didn’t want to sign autographs. Three decades later people still come up to him and ask him if he knows he “looks exactly like the Fonz!” Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #3 The Family Fonz
In the post “Gift #9” I talked about my neighborhood and the curmudgeons who circle around the cul-de-sac. In the interest of fairness, I have to say not everyone here in Pine Bluff Trace is mean. There’s also my neighbor who leaves post-it notes on my windshield early in the morning saying, “I’ve gone out of town for two days. Can you take care of my dog?” There’s also the neighbor who hosts popular hot tub parties well attended only by attractive young men at least twenty years younger than said neighbor, but that’s none of my business. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #4 The Bright Thing to Do
Since the untimely demise of the local gluten free food emporium, Return to Eden, I’ve depended on Publix to make my gluten free food shopping a pleasure. Publix has stepped up to the plate, expanding the roster of gluten free (GF) brands it carries and mainstreaming them with their gluten laden (GL) counterparts. I no longer have to go the little GF section at the back of the store, although it’s still there. I can sashay up and down the aisles and find Pamela’s GF baked goods mixes beside Betty Crocker’s GF and GL mixes. On the next aisle, I can stock up on Barilla GF pasta, although I could grab DeBoles below it, and a jar or three of Classico or Organicville pasta sauces a few steps away. Udi’s and Rudi’s GF baked goods are sandwiched between the Tombstone pizzas and Lean Cuisine entrees in the frozen food cases. This expansion isn’t because R2E went under; it has more to do with growing demand for GF fare plus increasing competition among retailers to meet that demand. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #5 Sprouts Saves
Schools down here held their last day of classes before the Christmas break on Friday, December 19th. They didn’t reopen until Tuesday of this week. How awesome is that for a winter break? When I was in school, we went until the day before the night before Christmas and we returned on January 2nd, unless the day of the week on which those dates fell gave you a proximal weekend to boot. That made for double depression on New Year’s Day: the holidays are over and we have to go back to school tomorrow. Ugh. No wonder I cried in my closet. I am so glad kids have it better today. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #6 Cool Coat and Cross-Contamination
I’ve been gluten free for five years now and it’s greatly improved my health. I became alcohol free (AF) nearly three years ago and that also has improved my health…and saved my life. Alcohol’s a deadly chemical for me, far more deadly than gluten, so consuming any amount of it is akin to jumping out the window of a tall building into a mound of ravenous fire ants. If the fall doesn’t kill me, the ants will, and the dying process will be excruciating for me and my loved ones. By the way, alcohol totally aggravates dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin rash some of us with celiac are extra winners to have. It won’t bring on an outbreak, but if you have an outbreak, it will itch more and spread more and bleed and scar more. My poor legs and arms bear witness to this. Once I went alcohol free, the outbreaks were much less severe in intensity and in damage.
Two weeks before Christmas, Crate and Barrel put all their holiday food fare on sale with free shipping. At 30-50% off and delivered to me for free, I settled down for some serious online shopping. I immediately snapped up seven adorable boxes of chocolates shaped like mice to give as gifts. I’m glad I did because everyone who received a box squeaked with delight at both the cuteness and the yumminess, although my cousin’s son wanted to know if she had any more chocolate rats after scarfing half the box. No? Rats. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #7 Glögg Glug Gluten Free Good (With Frogs)
When people find out I have celiac disease, they react either with horror or pity, and both stem from the mistaken belief that food free from wheat, barley, rye or oats can’t possibly taste good.
“Oh, you poor thing. That’s awful! I couldn’t eat like that,” they say, managing to sound both sympathetic and superior.
I like introducing them to good gluten free food.
The Friday before Christmas, to celebrate the start of the kids’ two-week holiday school break, we made cookies. We had to skip my mother’s time-honored and beloved cookie recipes because they call for copious quantities of white wheat flour and other glutinous ingredients. I won’t even try to handle white flour because that stuff has incredible hang time. Add the sifted flour to wet ingredients in an electric mixer and watch how it billows from the bowl, wafts through the air, and sticks like snow on every proximal surface, including the baker’s hair and clothes. There’s no way not to avoid contamination, unless one pops into a hazmat suit with filtered ventilator and then turns the fire hose on to clean up afterward. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #8 Gluten Free Food Is Good
This year I served as president of my neighborhood association. I live in a small townhouse enclave, a place where people were so offended by the county’s pilot once-a-week trash pickup program, they protested by leaving in the street for days the heavy-duty 40-gallon rolling trash cans the county gave everyone as thanks for being part of the pilot. This is the same place where people regularly violate the legal covenants about parking and property upkeep, complain about and report their neighbors’ violations, and then refuse to pay the fines for violating the covenants themselves.
I didn’t start the year on the board. In fact, I declined a nomination at the annual meeting last November. When the president quit the thankless position this past April, I agreed to join the board after a hard press from two members. Our first order of business was the county trash pilot program, for which we were blamed despite everyone receiving from the county informational packets explaining what/when/why/who/where. The second board president quit at the end of July, along with two other board members and the remaining two board members pushed me to assume the presidency. I reluctantly agreed. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #9 The Gift That Keeps On Giving–No