Killing Me Softly with… Parsley

My devoted readers will remember that the weekend Girl Scout Cookies were delivered, my household went wheat-free. If you’re new and you stumbled here hoping there was some uber-secret Get Girl Scout Cookies now that girls aren’t selling them site, sorry to disappoint, but stick around.

We really miss pizza since going wheat-free. I think the only thing on that plate I can eat now is the tomato.
We really miss pizza since going wheat-free. I think the only thing on that plate I can eat now is the tomato.

It’s now been a little over two months without wheat, or mostly without wheat (there have been a couple of celebration meals that included pizza) and I feel…terrible. Everybody loses weight when they give up wheat. I was losing, on average, .25 pounds a week, and that was with me working out. I was losing strength, losing energy, my stomach was a mess.

Luckily, when I started down this little path through the amber waves of grain, I also scheduled a doctor’s appointment because according to everything I’ve read (yes, on the Internet), I have no hormones, and probably no thyroid. OK, I may have them, but they’re totally out of whack.

The happy day of my doctor’s appointment finally came around two weeks ago. We talked forever (more than the usual 20 seconds at a regular doctor’s office), and he and I agreed that I was probably allergic to something I was eating instead of wheat. My concern was that it was more than one thing, and I wasn’t really interested in taking the time to figure out what it was, when for the low, low price of $200 and five vials of blood, I could find out what I was allergic to.

I got the answers on Friday, ironically, while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office so his vampire assistant could take yet another vial of blood. So I open the email and find out that I am allergic to literally everything I have been eating since going wheat-free. Basically, I was trying to commit suicide with parsley and pineapple. Not together. That would be gross.

This cow hates me. All cows hate me. Leather interior is looking better all the time. Or will that make my butt itch?
This cow hates me. All cows hate me. Leather interior is looking better all the time. Or will that make my butt itch?

I’m allergic to goat’s milk. I’m allergic to casein, which is found in all cow’s milk products. I’m allergic to almonds, pistachios and cashews. Melon. Yeast. Vanilla. Mustard?!!? Really? Brussel sprouts, so Totally Awesome Step-Mother can now stop telling me I should eat them because she has a great recipe. To be fair, she does have a great recipe, but I won’t be partaking anymore. Also, I now have proof that I am allergic to several types of fish and shellfish. And peanuts. Cranberries. Bananas. It’s a really impressive list.

In my typical fashion, I think I took the news fairly well. I calmly left the doctor’s office and drove to the nearest Cook Out where I ordered a CHEESEburger. On. A. BUN. With MUSTARD. French Fries. Onion Rings (which the last time I checked, involved wheat). And a Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake. If I could have found a way to add beer to the mix and really load up on yeast, I would have.

Yes, I got serious about this on Saturday. I didn’t have dairy all weekend. Yesterday, I had to make a cake for a Boy Scout Court of Honor. Since I wasn’t eating it, I used wheat. No, I was not about to waste $8/pound special flour on Boy Scouts.

Here’s where things got interesting. While making the cake, I had about two tablespoons of cake batter (containing wheat and milk), and probably the same amount of frosting. Both homemade by me. And totally worth it. Until about twenty minutes later when I started itching like fury and my allergies flared and my stomach decided I was the dumbest person on Earth.

Seriously?!!? I’d been off milk for 2.5 days! I’m still itchy today. Which might have something to do with the fact that my Boy Scout popcorn “contains milk ingredients.” Crap. That was just not something I thought to check. Stupid cow.

Oddly, while I cannot eat any cow byproduct, I have no allergies to the cow itself. Hello Filet Mignon. Goodbye parsley. And yes, I really am allergic to parsley, which is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever had to admit.

Hi. My name is Kim, and I’m allergic to parsley.


Sometimes a Leap of Faith Requires Staying in One Place

A few days ago I was volunteering at Snarky Daughter’s school. It’s a small school, so if you show up at all during your kid’s years there, you’re pretty much guaranteed to know the entire staff. So it didn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out that the Career Counselor was having a rough week. It was Tuesday.

We started chatting and I learned he was back in school getting his Masters, and we were talking about how became a school counselor, etc, etc. Eventually it turned to my day job search, which after a year, continues to be a chorus of, “You were a finalist, but we went with the person who had twelve years experience in exactly our field.”

We moved on to the maybe it’s time for me to go back to school, get a degree in something else, rack up some student loan debt (two years before Snarky Daughter goes to college) and find a new job.

Me: I’m not against going back to school, but I need to decide what direction I want to go. If I could find my passion before I made a move…

Counselor: Sometimes you need to just take a leap of faith. Find a program you like and trust you’ll find a job on the other side.

Me: I lack faith. You know in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy has to take that step and trust that there is a way across the bottomless chasm (is there any other kind of chasm)? And he does it? Right. I’m the one turning around saying, “I’ll face the Nazis.”

But something he said clearly resonated with me, because within ten minutes I was changing my attitude. For the last six months, I’ve been putting my life on hold because I didn’t have a day job. I’m not trying to meet anyone because I’m afraid I’m going to have to move. Why would anyone want to date an unemployed writer? No, I won’t be serving another term on the PTA board because I can’t promise I’ll be here come fall. On and on it went, with me turning away from life because I might move this summer.

But on Tuesday, with the help of the counselor and then my hairdresser I decided to change it up. Instead of putting my life on hold because I might move, I’m going to start living and assume that the job will find me.

Zion National ParkI thought I was good with all of this. And then last night I had a horrifying dream that while trying to park my car the brakes didn’t work and I went flying over the edge of a small version of the Grand Canyon. In dreamland, I didn’t have my seatbelt on, and yet remained in my seat, and knew that if I could get my seatbelt back on before the car hit the ground, I’d be safe. At the last second I got it back on, and sure enough, the car and I were fine.

There are days in my life when I really wish I had a dream interpreter. Yeah, this one is pretty clear. I need to take a leap of faith. Apparently I will survive. And no, I’m not going to put in a link to Gloria Gaynor because now that I’ve mentioned her, you’re all singing along anyway. You’re welcome.

If the job finds me here, great. If I have to move, guess what. Life will go on. Wherever I go, I’ll still be writing romance novels, so I’ll be happy. And I will have experienced life in the meantime.



Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down


Because bud vases are over-rated.
Because bud vases are over-rated.

Which just goes to tell you how today is going since it is both Monday, and raining. I actually love the rain, but I was really looking forward to working in the Garden Office today. Instead, I have to sit here and enjoy the flowers that got damaged when I was potting the plants. Notice the beautiful Blue Moon Beer vase.

So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how I was doing yesterday after Saturday’s Tackle Every Yard Project Imaginable. Well. Yes. The dog got me up Sunday at 6:45 to announce that she had to go out. (I really want a dog door.) So I rolled over and whimpered. Let the dog out, and went back to bed.

Twenty minutes later, I got back up with more whimpering, decided a full yoga workout was not in the cards, what with breathing hurting and all, let the dog back in and opted for working on one part of me at a time. Went back to bed with my Kindle and started a heavy-duty thumb workout with the Next Page button. After an hour, I figured I was ready to face the day.

Had some oatmeal and Advil for breakfast and then started baking, with occasional stretching added in. Then I got serious. Brownies. Oatmeal Cookies. Jell-O. You know. Everything a kid would like to take to school for a lunch treat. And yes, all wheat-free.
While the cookies were going, I went a little crazy and decided to change the sheets on my bed. Because, you know, it’s Sunday and I lead a really exciting life. Also, it was too cold to go hang out in Garden Office. While I was at it, I thought I’d flip the mattress around because that’s cheaper than buying a new one that lacks a crater in the center.

Let’s talk about how much a mattress weighs. I’m sure that under normal circumstances they weight what 50 pounds? Maybe? Whatever. Let me tell you, after digging all the holes, etc on Saturday, I had the arm strength of a butterfly. So that mattress weighed about 300 pounds.

Will all of you please get your minds out of the gutter?!!?

Since I needed to take a breather halfway through moving it around, I noticed all the dust collecting around all the spindles on the bed. I love this bed. It’s a gorgeous Arts and Crafts style thing. There are two reasons never to buy this bed. 1) It’s a dusting pain in the ass. 2) All your friends will make bondage jokes when they see it. Every. One. Of. Them. I didn’t realize you all lived in the gutter with me, or that you thought I had that much fun in bed, but whatever.

It took over an hour to dust this bed because the only way you get the dust off the spindle bases is with a toothbrush. Also, I had to stop every eight minutes to drop dough on a cookie sheet.

Finally, a lifetime later, my room was clean. No worries. I had a window open so you know everything was covered in pollen again by dinner. Yes, I know. I have allergies, I shouldn’t have open windows. But I’ve been locked in the house all winter and it needs airing out.

So, cleaned my room, cleaned the kitchen. Scrubbed the kitchen floor with a Magic Eraser mop head and if you haven’t tried one of those yet (and you have linoleum) you’ve got to try it. It’s like a before and after photo from a Mr. Clean commercial. And no, I did not take those before/after pictures because it would ruin the mystique that is me.

Romance writers. We have awesome sex all the time, have perfect husbands, and pristine kitchen floors. You’re buying it, right?

Onward through the day, I finally hit the Garden Office. Heaven! Wrote, did some research, and watched the Ex and Scout Son kill themselves replacing the belt on the lawnmower so that Snarky Daughter and I could mow the lawn after dinner.

Made dinner, mowed the lawn, took a bath, and read a really cute, sweet romance, Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. Basically, Sunday was a day of doing really easy chores and watching other people work really hard fighting a lawnmower.

It’s just part of the glamorous life I lead as a romance writer.


The Garden Office

There was a moment this morning when I considered writing all day. Then I got out of bed and saw how beautiful it was outside and how cool it was outside, and I thought, why try to make a deadline when you can mow the lawn.

Just guessing, I’d say I have three acres to mow, and because of the weather, this was the first weekend it needed mowing. That’s always a joy because it means charging the lawn mower battery, checking the oil, adding gas, putting air in the tires. Love me some mowing season.

So I do all of that, which has me climbing all over the mower, and then it takes me about five minutes to get the damn thing started because what gas was in it was months old and apparently gas has an expiration date. Whatever. Anyway, it took forever to get the thing going and then there was that moment when I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t moving because, oh yeah, I put it in neutral when I started it. So would someone please explain to me why the mouse in the garage decided to hide under the tire while I did all of that?

Needless to say, I’m down one mouse. Alas, I only mowed for ten minutes before the belt that runs the 52-inch mowing deck shredded itself. Now the yard looks like I went to it for a while before deciding to take a beer break. For a day.

Some writers, dedicated writers, would have taken that as a sign that they were supposed to go back in the house and you know, write. I took it as a sign that I should split day lilies and iris, and plant some flowers in pots and make the freshly painted deck (my springtime office) look wonderful.

I have tons of empty pots kicking around in the garage, but didn’t have plants. So I talked Sarcastic Roommate in to going to Walmart with me so I could get some cheap annuals and have instant gratification. I also somehow talked her into helping me clear out some broken concrete left over from when the swing set came down a few weeks ago, and doing some weeding. I’m still not sure how that happened since she hates bugs, but she’s toying with the idea of putting in a small vegetable garden, so I was pointing to every spot with chickweed taking over, saying all that space is open. She said, “What’s chickweed?”

Chickweed is an invasive plant with shallow roots. Some people make tea with it. Those people should feel free to stop by and get some because there’s a bumper crop in my yard. Taking over the lawn and flower gardens. It’s even tried taking growing in corners of the deck. So, I grab some and rip it out of the ground and show her, and the next thing I know, it’s an hour later and we have a pile of weeds.

Nine hours after I wandered outside, I gave up the good fight and tossed a Mike Hard Lemonade into the freezer and headed for a shower. Do not mock the Mike’s. It’s the perfect yard work drink. Those who mock can be here at 10 tomorrow morning with shovels, rakes and hoes and we’ll do another ten hours of yard work, and then we’ll see how you feel about the Mike’s.

The before would have had the camo deck, no pots and no umbrella. In other news, the pollen is so bad, the black dog is turning yellow.
Here’s the after. The before would have had the camo deck, no pots and no umbrella. In other news, the pollen is so bad, the black dog is turning yellow.

The difference between this weekend and last weekend is huge around here. I should have taken a “before” picture, but I forgot until I was halfway done staining the deck and then it was too late. But imagine a camo-colored deck. Originally it had been a seafoam green, then it was an army green, and the dogs had worked very hard at removing layers of both and exposing the wood.

Maybe now that I have this nice office to work in, I can write.