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Archive for August, 2007

Blessings…

I had a rough night a couple of nights ago. Without getting into details, I just had a storm of baby-lust (which has begun to border on baby-hysterics), job dissatisfaction, financial and grr-mad-at-husband issues bear down on me and I just lost it, for essentially the entire evening. Luckily, EZ was out of town and I had the house to myself, so I could just lose my shit freely. My dogs never say, “Now Kim, be rational. You’re over-reacting.” Good thing for them, too, because I hear they can remove dog’s vocal chords.

Anyhow, I’m feeling much more positive now. I was poking around the interweb today and blessed1 had a post about 7 blessings. She’s a more religious woman than myself, a lapsed/recovering Catholic, but nonetheless, we all receive blessings no matter what we recognize as their origin. So, after such a fit of negativity, I think it’s quite important to focus on one’s blessings to redirect a bit.

1) My husband, who can be incredibly thoughtful and responsive to my needs if I just let him know what they are. The next day when EZ was back in town I emailed him from work that I just kind of felt like curling up in ball and staying there all night. So when I got home, he was there with a 6-pack of good beer and the Blades of Glory movie and proclaimed it my “Curling-up-in-a-ball Kit” with a big smile. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel like assuming the fetal position quite so much.

2) Perspective from friends. They didn’t even have to say anything. I just let my mind wander to various friends. One friend who has infertility issues. I can’t think of anyone who deserves a baby more than her and her partner, but it’s tougher than it should be for them and they don’t have a zillion dollars to blow on fertility treatments and/or adoption. In comparison, I have little to complain about because I need to put off getting pregnant and might not have my ideal circumstances once I do (disclaimer: I have no clue about the state of my fertility.) In thinking about another friend, who is Buddhist, the philosophy “desire causes pain” popped into my head. How true. I was so upset because I didn’t certain things in my life that I want so badly. The problem wasn’t that I don’t have those things/conditions in my life. The problem is that I want them so badly.

3) Mountain Grouse season opens tomorrow! We’re taking our German Shorthair, Stanley, out for his first hunting session since he got his training.

4) I’ll finally see some friends again this weekend! We haven’t seen each other in forever, it seems, but 2 separate sets of friends are having parties this weekend, so we’ll all get a chance to catch up.

5) A good family. My parents visited us from Colorado after the river trip. It was so good to see them and spend time with them.

6) An empty house (relatively speaking). My parents left on Wednesday! No more entertaining! Less talking! More free time!

7) The fact that though I do sometimes let myself sink into self-pity and sorrow, I never stay there too long. I seek perspective and look for the silver lining. It was not my instinctive approach. I have trained myself to do this over time (I used to have problems with depression when I was younger), but I’m blessed to have the personal strength to do so.

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The put-in day is always a little on the wild side. Boat launches are chaotic with many groups trying to get on the river ASAP and everyone’s gear strewn about. Honestly, this one wasn’t too bad. We had the guy trying to pass us while we were both backing our trailers down a fairly narrow boat ramp. The quintessential pushy guides were there, but relatively few other groups were launching. We pushed off by a respectable 11am.

The river is, naturally, nothing short of gorgeous. The water is very clear, but takes on a dark, emerald green tone when you’re not looking straight down to the rocks below you. The canyons are mostly basalt. Most of the bedrock takes the form of big lumps of oriented more or less vertically, but basalt columns are observed regularly. Near the stream, there are the usual assortments of willows, grasses, sages and other small shrubs. However, higher up, the flora is dominated by golden colored grasses. The contrast of gold, black, and green is stunning.

My companions on this trip are just my husband and my dad. I can’t imagine company I could enjoy more out here. Dad has been taking me on trips down river all over the western U.S. since I was kid. I’m truly lucky for that. My husband is a neophyte rafter. He’d been on a few guided trips before he and I bought a raft last summer, with our wedding money in lieu of taking a honeymoon (instead, we named the boat “Honeymoon”). He has thrown himself full-force into the hobby in the last year. EZ researches and learns about things almost compulsively when he has a strong interest. Well, apparently, he has some interest in this! He often tells me things that I didn’t know in 15+ years of actual rafting.

Today a storm front moved in. We experienced a very rare, strong, down-canyon wind (wind almost always blows upstream, I’d really like to know why). When we arrived at camp, we had barely hauled everything on shore when the downpour began. The rain fell hard and the wind raged for almost and hour. Dad, EZ, and I huddled under a tarp with our beers and waited it out. We are a lucky bunch and the storm eventually passed. We were considering no-cook dinner options for a while there.

So, now it’s evening. We’ve had dinner (Penne with Romas, Olive Oil, Red Wine and Italian Sausage) and the sun is setting in a manner that is most appropriately described as sweetly. Since I cooked, it was up to the men-folk to wash the dishes. I even photographed the event!

Hundreds of swallows just arrived under the pink, gray and deep blue sky. The are flying rather chaotically overhead about 100 feet up, chirping loudly. Now, just in the time it took me to write that, they are gone.

Well, the pink is fading to the clouds and the sky is darkening. EZ will soon pick up his guitar and I’ll sing until the dark is entirely upon us. Then, off to bed!

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I’m off!

To the River of No Return! The Mighty Salmon River! It should be a great trip, just me, EZ and my Dear Ol’ Dad! I promise, I will think of lots of very interesting things to write about while I’m out there. 🙂

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So, after initially finding out about the allergies, I still had a lot of learning to do. It was a few years before I had most of it pegged. That was an uncomfortable few years. I carried an Epi-Pen during this time, because who knows? I can eat most lettuce (not baby spinach, though), tomatoes (usually), and grapes (only red ones, though) raw, pretty much the rest of the fruit and vegetable world was out for my unless I cooked it. I can also get away with an apple or two in the absolute dead of winter. This allergy was generally pretty manageable. It’s easy to pick the cucumbers and carrots out of a salad or decline a fresh peach (ok, so it’s actually really hard to decline a fresh peach, but you know what I’m saying!). I tried to keep up with my allergy shots for about a semester and a half into college. Then I just got sick of it, I guess, and stopped going. Allergy shots are very inconvenient (you have to wait to get your shot, then wait a half hour to make sure you’re not going to collapse into shock and you have to go twice a week), but I just lacked the resolve to stick to it.

Fast forward 8 years. I’m living happily in Montana with my husband and we’re not really planning on going anywhere else anytime soon. In the meantime, I’d been having a few mysterious symptoms. Nothing that scared me enough to seek medical advice. I just had intermittent severe fatigue that I chalked up to laziness, a flutter in my lungs that just seemed like ‘one of those things’. I had a lot of headaches and was gassier than your average bear, but this is just how my body is, I thought. I’d promised myself that once life was stable, I’d start again with the allergy shots. So I set up an appointment with a otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat guy) who came highly recommended to me. Turns out that they have a different approach to managing allergies than allergist do, so it was a little different. We did a prick test on my arms, rather than my back, and it was put into groups (like “deciduous trees” rather oak, cottonwood, etc). So they only pricked me about 15 times rather than 54. Of course, I turned up very allergic to everything but dogs (this is how I know God actually does love me).

Then they took my blood for a test of food allergies. A week later a nurse called me. You’d think she was telling me I had terminal cancer, by her demeanor.

“I’m calling about your food allergies. Are you sitting? I have some bad news.” (I’m not even exaggerating. She actually asked me if I was sitting.)

“Heee! Yeah… Let me guess, I’m allergic to everything?”

Very soberly, she responded, “Um, pretty much.”

She went on to tell me that I had tested allergic to wheat, corn, eggs, soy, and milk to varying degrees, wheat and corn being the worst. I would have to go on an exclusion diet with none of those ingredients and then test each one individually. The test is apparently not the definitive answer, the exclusion diet is. The exclusion diet seemed to me to be a bit like walking up and poking a wolverine just to see what happened, but I did the whole thing. I also gave up beer to see if the grains therein were part of the problem. [Note: I love beer. A lot]

The results:
Wheat: Bad fatigue (to the point that Eric thought I was mad at him for days, because I was too tired to talk. And when he asked me, too tired to explain that I was too tired to explain.) Headache. Tight muscles in the neck and shoulders.

Corn: Some fatigue. Bad headaches. Fluttery lungs (that the best I can describe it. The feel… fluttery and I have to inhale very deeply to feel like I’m getting enough air, even when resting). Crampy and tight muscles.

Eggs: Copious, sulfurous farts. (Yum.)

Dairy: Milk, half and half, yogurt=headache. Butter and cheese=nada. Who knows? I recently read that cheese and butter have very little lactose compared to the former stuff (none in the case of butter). Wonder if that has anything to do with it?

Soy: Not much really, but I read up on the stuff from a nutritional standpoint and decided to limit my soy intake very severely.

Beer (barley, hops): A-OK. God really does love me. I can drink a beer and play with my dogs with no fear of allergic response.

So my allergy tally just went up quite a bit. Now I can’t eat any wheat, corn or eggs and only some kinds of dairy. This eliminates almost every baked good, packaged food, prepared food (especially if it’s sweet), and most food served in most restaurants. My diet now is very simple, filled with real, whole foods. Frankly, it’s delicious. And not surprisingly, I lost about 25 lbs in short order when I went on this diet (I’d been trying to lose that weight to no avail for years!). I know the Gospel of the Whole Grain is preached loudly by the media, government and nutritional ‘experts’, but I believe that a diet based on meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts is healthiest. I don’t entirely eschew grains. I obviously drink beer. I eat oatmeal 2-3 times a week and rice once or twice a week. It’s just not the core of my diet anymore, and I believe I’m much healthier for it!

Recently, I went back to the otolaryngologist and he told me about some fancy little drop that goes under one’s tongue that would squelch my reaction to any of these food allergies (though, not the oral allergies, unfortunately). It was then I realized, I don’t even want wheat or corn back. Eggs and dairy, well, sure! But not wheat or corn. Wheat used to be a horrible dietary crutch for me. Corn itself is quite nice stuff, but most of the corn any American eats is corn that is fractionated into corn syrup, starch, myriad sugars, and zillions of other things you find in packaged and pre-prepared foods. I got the drops for those occasions where it’s too hard to control my food intake, but I have yet to use them.

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Oh, I wish I had more pictures of my creations today.

  • This morning, I headed to the Farmer’s Market with my big cloth bags. I left with at least 35 lbs of veggies and fruit! My arm was about to fall off on my walk back to the car. My big splurge for the trip was a 1 lb bag of huckleberries. I freeze them and throw a few into fruit desserts. They are so flavorful that a small amount goes a long way. They are pricey little buggers, though. A 1lb bag was $9.
  • Once I got back from that expedition, I went out to my garden and picked herbs. They are approaching the end of their season and I will have to leave the perennials alone entirely soon. I blanched some and stuck it in the freezer. I cut up the basil and put it in an ice cube tray with olive oil, which is my favorite way to preserve basil. I got some prepared for drying.
  • I have a 5-day river trip coming up next week with EZ and my Dad. Because of my food limitations, I offered to prepare the dinners. I decided to make lasagna to freeze for one dinner. I took the opportunity to make homemade Italian tomato sauce for the first time. Unfortunately, my garden is currently giving me just a trickle of tomatoes, so I had to buy some. However, I grew all the herbs that went into the sauce! That’s a nice feeling, even if a very modest accomplishment. The smell of the sauce was amazing. I can wait to try the lasagna!
  • When I was at the market, the whole chickens were on sale because they were close to their expiration date. So I bought one to make tonight. I roasted the chicken my favorite way. I left that useless old rack out and coarsely chopped potatoes, onion, zucchini, radishes, carrots, and green beans into the bottom of the roasting pan. I set the chicken on top of the veggies for a ‘rack’. Then I mixed butter, olive oil, fresh basil, parsley, sage, oregano, and garlic together, pulled up the chicken’s skin and rubbed the mixture all over the bird. About an hour later, I was the Hero of Dinnertime!
  • Finally, I used the huckleberries, blueberries and peaches I got at the Farmer’s Market to make a peach-huckleberry crisp for the river trip. Yummy!
  • After all that, I told EZ to clean the kitchen. And he did! Love that man.

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Things I believe

(Not necessarily an exhaustive list….)

  • In a higher, benevolent power (let’s call it, um, say… God?) that gives a crap about us humans
  • That I am not smart or omniscient enough to discern which religion has this God’s nature 100% pegged. (But I hope to just pick something at some point anyhow.)
  • That God will forgive me that shortcoming.
  • That I am sure as hell not smart enough to know what God wants or expects out of any other being on this planet. Their lives are between them and God.
  • That my husband, parents, sister and someday children are the most important things in my life. No job, no amount of money, no piece of land, and likely, no other person will ever love me the way they do.
  • That my dogs almost made that list, but I would never put down my husband or sister because there’s no way I can afford his medical bills.
  • I adore my dogs like nobody’s business, but dogs aren’t human and many humans sometimes forget that.
  • That no amount of money is worth significantly compromising my life or my family.
  • In doing a hard, honest day’s work, then going home and forgetting all about it and basking in life.
  • That governmental regulation should make sense. It doesn’t take local conditions into mind, so often. And that gets really annoying and expensive.
  • Neither should we shy away from good regulation just because it’s regulation. Just make it make sense.
  • That the above 2 bullets seem so obvious, but you would not believe the idiotic regulation I’ve been dealing with lately.
  • That the food one eats is more important than any other factor in one’s health (unless you’re completely genetically cursed, I guess).
  • That how one’s food is produced can have positive or negative effects that extend far beyond one’s body and into one’s community, the economy, moral issues, environmental health, the sustainability of one’s entire civilization, so on and so forth. Choose carefully.
  • That the crops our Country subsidizes are killing our Country’s people.
  • That Farmer’s Markets are the rockin’est thing ever.
  • That myself and my husband are the only things I truly want to depend on for my sustenance in the long run.
  • That homesteading will be harder than I think, but easier than I fear.
  • That almost everything that happens in our lives can be construed as a blessing or a curse. The choice is yours.
  • That a positive attitude changes everything for the better.
  • That there’s no better way to spend a day than lazily floating down a river. The laziness is optional, actually…
  • That Bud and Coors and lots of other beers are 1 small step above drinking carbonated piss with 4.5% alcohol by volume.
  • That ripe tomatoes freshly picked from my own garden are direct evidence that the above mentioned higher power exists and thinks I am worthy of such a treasure.
  • Many other things that maybe I’ll post about later.

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  • EZ and I were up near Flathead Lake a few weeks ago. While there, we bought 26 lbs of Flathead Cherries and 5 lbs of Ranier Cherries. We ate a lot of them. Gave away some. Froze 10+ lbs. The rest became my first experience in canning. Honestly, it was scarier than it was difficult. When I was reading up on it, I was afraid that I’d give my husband botulism or something (ok, so that’s still a possibility… we haven’t eaten any yet). It was actually fairly simple. I used “Canning and Preserving for Dummies” from my library and it was all pretty straightforward. Phew… I can’t wait to open up a can this winter!

Canned cherries

  • A bunch of my tomatoes got blossom end rot. EZ picked off all the affected tomatoes because we didn’t know what it was at first. Once we learned that it was a drought-stress and calcium deficiency problem, we limed the soil and started watering more. All our tomatoes have been OK since.
  • This morning for lunch, we had freshly picked tomatoes and basil with mozzarella, pepper and basalmic vinegar. And because we were feeling European/like drunks, we each had a glass of wine to go along. I didn’t learn anything from this, except that that’s worth doing every now and then!
  • We picked up our German Shorthaired Pointer, Stanley, from his 2 months of training this weekend. He’s now an impressive upland bird hunter. I’m so happy to have him home. Stan’s quite the character, I will have to post about him sometime. The trainer confirmed that he is very headstrong and driven, a double-edged sword in bird hunting. Watching him chase down and catch a bird that we never even took a shot at is an amazing sight. Mostly, though, he’s the best little cuddler you ever did meet (assuming he’s in the mood to cuddle)!

Stanley

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