blog thoughts: RIP Reading Challenge

I am not feeling well and spent a little time today rereading my old blog(s), and I really enjoyed writing there and when I read some of my old posts, I really see how writing brings out my thoughts in a way that talking just doesn’t (at least, for me). I find myself going places in words on paper/computer that I don’t in verbal words — I need time to think, and process, and work out my own meaning, before I commit. Or something. I miss the outlet of the blog — I have been trying to find a new place here on this blog but I’m finding it hard to make a new habit. I’m still trying. I miss blogs, I miss the old blog reader on Google — I miss my old reading challenges, like RIP (thanks to D’Arcy for the reminder)! Today is October first — my unofficial RIP reading kickoff day. I’m starting by reading The Hunger. I just finished The Willows. I’m doing reading reviews on GoodReads now — they are up on my sidebar. I’m not as good at those as I used to be, either.

Part of it is that I’m a lot busier now than I was in my old blogging days. My world was very small; I had a sick partner, I was home all the time, I didn’t see friends or family much — my blog was my window to the world, in a sense. Now, thankfully, I am fully IN the world — I am experiencing the world in a much fuller way than I was then. This is good. Still, I miss the inner exploration of routine writing. I fell out of the habit of journaling too, although I do keep at that from time to time.

Anyway, trying to keep my thoughts together: RIP — I’m looking forward to The Hunger, and I have a few more books in mind, but these might change. I’m also hoping that Keith and I can watch a bunch of spooky movies this month. Our new house is out “in the country” (not really, but just enough that we won’t get trick-or-treaters) so we have to make our own Halloween fun. I’m trying to do this with my reading, some movies, and a bit of minimal decorating. All our decor stuff is still in boxes, I don’t know where… but I have a little Halloween village that I like to set up, hoping I can find that.

Anyway. Keep on, little blog. We can do it!


21 Years of Love (and a birthday)

Saturday the 15th was my 44th birthday, and our 21st “love-a-versary” — the date we honor as the time when our relationship truly began. We have been in relationship to each other — together, separate, friends, lovers, married, divorced, married again — for 21 years and counting. Even during our times apart, we were still in relationship to one another — that tie was never completely severed, even though we gave it a good try! Looking back, I believe we were making a wide circle back to one another, although it was a VERY wide circle and I really had no idea where it was going and was completely surprised when the circle connected and there we were again.

How lucky we are to have found one another. How good it is to know that our intuition was correct: this is it, baby — we have known it for a very long time, longer than 21 years. There are a lot of other insipid, trite and predictable things I could say about this — all true — but of course there are plenty of other things I could say, about how we have our ups and downs, annoyances and times of anger and hurt, times of everyday routine and times of intense stress. There is a true thread of love and devotion and choice that runs through all of it — we choose to be here. We have claimed one another. As another friend puts it, we have a “no exit” strategy — we’re in it for good. That means choosing to keep on having a good relationship — making choices that make it good. Choosing to let the annoyances go and help each other through the truly rough times. Choosing to do the things that keep each other safe and happy and content. Choosing to do the things that keep OURSELVES safe and happy and content. We know from experience that life is better together than apart, so we make it a good life together.

Happy 21 years to my eternal sweetheart. May there be many, many more.


Sky Farm

Things that are wonderful here at Sky Farm:

1. True peace and quiet; 200 acres of forest

2. No TV (but, internet! Though spotty)

3. So many books

4. Most things are old and worn and much-loved; contrasted with some very fine things like old Limoges china and silver cutlery.

5. A near-complete lack of stress about anything; things are very simple

6. The entire house is slanted; the dining room floor drops 9 inches from one side of the room to the other. If you’ve had a glass of wine too many you can blame the house if you stagger across the floor.

7. The “bug house” (see below)

8. Everything is accepted; things fall apart, people are imperfect, plans change. It’s all ok.

9. There is no shower; just a big claw foot tub. There is also a toilet at the top of the stairs.

10. Best of all, Stan and Lib, my uncle and aunt, who are both oddities and wonderful and kind; I love them both very much and it is such a joy to be here.

My room.

Below: the view from my room.

The toilet at the top of the stairs. This is my dads side of the family, after all..

The “bug house” — a little reading nook and outdoor living room.

The dear relatives in the forest.

More thoughts on creativity: ceramics

(long, rambling post) For the past two years, I’ve been taking a weekly ceramics “class”. I use the quotation marks because it’s not really a traditional class… it’s called “Clay Explorations” and that is exactly what it is. Each class, there is a demonstration on throwing, or handbuilding, or glazing, but there are no assignments, there is no step-by-step instruction (unless you specifically ask for it) and there is no judgment. Really, it’s guided studio time, with hands-on help if you request it. Which is kind of awesome, but also a little intimidating. “What should I make?!?” Many people take this class all year round, and have for years and years, even if they have their own kiln and are fairly well-established in their art and techniques. It’s a great way to get ideas, learn from others, and there is wonderful camaraderie and community. The instructor is the most easy-going person in the world, calm and positive and encouraging and generous and knowledgeable. There are TAs available each class who have expertise in various areas: different firing techniques, handbuilding tricks, etc. It’s really a wonderful (affordable!) opportunity to explore clay in all its forms. Truly a gift.

It’s been an interesting journey for me. I started taking ceramics classes when I was a pre-teen, during the summer. I loved it, even though I found it frustrating. The clay collapsed, or it dried out before I could finish my project, or it cracked during firing, or I couldn’t get it smooth. Much of this was because of my youth and inexperience and impatience: I now know ways around most of these pitfalls. I wanted to continue with it as an adult but couldn’t find what I wanted in the Bay Area: too expensive, too inaccessible for various reasons. So now that I am back in Corvallis, with this wonderful community resource, I have been diligent in going — basically I’ve waited 30 years to have this opportunity.

It is intimidating, however. I have a degree in art. I have been doing art of some kind my whole life. That does NOT make it easy — in fact, it is an impediment, because clay is fickle and you must get used to failure. It is not like pencils or paint: you are literally molding a 3-D object and the clay has ideas of its own. You must constantly negotiate with moisture content, temperature, clay consistency, clay “memory” (yes, this is a thing). My teacher, Ted, is great at explaining this. He says that it is like a dance, and sometimes it goes where you don’t think it’s going to go, and you just have to adjust because you are not 100% in control. Sometimes, you work and work and work, and then for unknown reasons (other pieces in the kiln, hidden bubbles, whatever) your piece will break in the firing process. He urges us to accept this, and “just make another one” or make something out of the broken piece: glue it together with something interesting, paint it, use it as a tile, whatever. It has been a process of learning to make non-precious art.

And it is a slow process to learn. Each piece in class literally takes weeks from start to finish. Even if you complete your piece in one class (usually it takes at least two classes from start to finish — there’s two weeks already), then it must sit on the shelf for a few days to dry. Then it goes into the bisque firing kiln, once there are enough pieces to fire (another week). Then it has to cool, then you have to glaze it, then it goes into the high-fire kiln (another week). Then, finally, you get your finished piece. Literally this can take 4-6 weeks start to finish, because of the once-a-week class structure and because they wait to load the kilns until they have a full kiln. However, even home kiln users must go through this process, so there is a lot of time involved, a lot of waiting.

The class structure, of everyone being in the same class, both experts and beginners, is really helpful because you get to see that everyone’s process is both the same and different, and that EVERYONE has lots of failures. Everyone is very open about being unsure if this is going to work, or if the glazing will do what you think it’s going to do, or trying a new technique and it not going well for the first few pieces.

Personally I find this comforting. I make probably 10-12 separate pieces during each term, and generally only 1-3 pieces turn out in any way that I am even sort of happy with. Sometimes a piece will have great glaze but I don’t love the actual piece for whatever reason (lumpy, lopsided, whatever). Or, the glaze didn’t work out, so it’s ugly. Or, the thing broke or cracked or I just don’t like it. This was hard for the first few months. I felt like I was wasting my time, since obviously I wasn’t “good” at this. But I kept going, because I liked the class. I liked the people, and the atmosphere, and the fact that when your hands are covered in mud, you literally cannot do anything else. No phone checking, no reading, no getting distracted. You just have to keep at it. It is very calming. And slowly, I am starting to find a groove.

Or rather, I find it and then I lose it. Part of the problem with the once-a-week class is that I often feel rushed. I sometimes have to travel and I miss classes, so my time gets compressed, and then I feel like I can’t take as much time as I’d like to work on something (because it starts to get dry, or I need to make a firing window, or whatever). And, during the school year, the class is crowded. I like to spread out, I like to have a couple of projects going at once during class because sometimes you have to wait for the clay to dry to a certain consistency, so you might as well have a few things going. But if the class is crowded, then I can’t do that as well, and it makes me feel anxious and rushed and I don’t take my time and things don’t go as well as I’d like. But when I get really focused, and I take the time to go to studio hours outside of class, then things go better and I am happier with my stuff. I’m starting to see that many people use this class as experimenting time: they have a home workspace and that’s where they do most of the slower, detail work. They come to class to experiment, to talk with others, to try a new firing technique, to play with glazes.

Since my AWESOME BROTHER found a kiln for me for $50, I can think about a little home studio, myself. This is VERY exciting: I think that is the key to really getting comfortable with what I want to do. I can’t wait to get the kiln home and figure out how to get it working.

But anyway, I was thinking about this last night, a busy class night. We were unloading the soda-fire kiln, which is always fun and a highlight, and doing an obvara firing, also really fun (anytime you get to work with burning red-hot ceramics it’s exciting). Each of these is also an exercise in giving up control: you don’t know how they’re going to turn out. Everyone is exactly equal: a lumpy pinch pot can come out of the soda firing kiln with an absolutely gorgeous finish that transforms it, or a beautifully formed vase can come out of the obvara with something non-spectacular and the creator shrugs and it goes onto the end-of-class sale shelf (a kind of Charlie Brown Xmas tree assortment, sold for cheap, to raise money for new equipment, etc.). And everyone just accepts it (with joy or disappointment) and it’s OK to lose a vase or a plate because you just make more. It’s OK to sacrifice something, because you learned something and there’s usually some redeeming feature to the piece, and you can just make more. Each piece is not precious. It’s like cookies. If you mess up a batch, oh well, just make another batch. This way of thinking took awhile to learn but I’m getting there.

Obvara firing

My current big project are tiles. I have an unfinished window sill in my kitchen, and I want to make tiles for it. My idea is to press leaves from the trees on our property into the tiles, so that it’s representative of our natural landscape. Now, I am not at all experienced with tile-making. They are tricky. You have to keep them absolutely flat the whole time, because otherwise the clay will “remember” the curve and your tile won’t end up flat. So there’s all kinds of tricks for that. The leaves need to make a deep enough impression so that the imprint shows up under the glaze. I don’t know what color glaze will look best. I might need to do some underglazing. All kinds of things. So, I am making tons of tiles. I have 15 waiting for high-fire right now — I tried all kinds of glazes, all kinds of leaves. We shall see what looks best. What will I do with all the failed tiles? Some will go in the garbage. Some will get put in my yard, among the flowers and ground cover. I expect to make at least 50 tiles, to end up with probably 16 final tiles that we will use.

Anyway, this is a long post, but I’ve been thinking about why I like my ceramics class so much even though it is hard and mysterious and I fail a lot. But it’s OK — everyone fails a lot, even the teacher. That is what it is. This is a good lesson for someone like me, who likes to do creative things well, is somewhat invested in them turning out as I expected. It is good to learn failure, get comfortable with it, have a beginners mind the entire time. And to slowly find the places that you want to go, and to slowly get better at it. Plus, it’s just fun. The people are quirky, everyone is generous with ideas and knowledge, and you can go at your own pace (mostly). The complete lack of judgment is also so refreshing: there is something to celebrate in every piece, even the failures, and people are so excited when something turns out well, no matter the expertise level. It’s just nice.

Soda-fired gnomes

Little Creatures

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love animals. I love nearly all the animals. I am the spider-rescuer, the snake-stepper-overer, the frog-scooper-upper-and-mover. I do make exceptions for certain small creatures: there is a significant shrew population in our garage that Thomas has been steadily working at eliminating: sorry guys, you’re on your own.

Out here in what we will winkingly refer to as The Country (really only about 2 miles from town) there are many, many little creatures.

Yesterday, as Erin and I hung out in the hammock in the early evening, there was an incredible amount of birds. Flying, swooping, gliding, chirping, diving, swirling. Swallows and bluebirds and I don’t know who all… it was kind of amazing and a little intimidating (I was glad that Keith nixed a vote to watch The Birds last weekend… ). We have lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of birds. Which makes me very happy.

Today as I went out to switch the sprinkler to another part of the yard, I heard little swishings and crunches under the ferns. A snake? A mousie? A squirrel? A stray kitten?

In the evening, bats emerge from the barn/big garage. They fill the sky with little quick-moving black dots. I imagine them cozied up in the eaves during the day, absorbing the hot sun, saving up energy for nighttime mosquito feeding frenzy.

The ponies over the fence, Ochoco and Minnehaha, neigh at me eagerly and paw the ground when they see me. They know I am good for an apple or carrots or fresh green grass.

The cows in the field stare at me, slowly chewing. The teenager calves buck and bounce and run, frisky and sleek.

There are creatures in the dark, making rumblings on the back deck, rustling in the grape arbor, dark shapes in the meadow that make me afraid to step off the path.

So many sweet creatures on this land where we have found ourselves. I want to make it welcoming and nourishing and homey for them all, so that they want to stay and make it their home as well.

well, maybe except the shrews.



never too early to think about fall reading

NPR released its 100 Best Horror Novels and I’m so excited! I am always looking for a good creepy book… they are hard to find. I like things with a distinct supernatural edge, and lean fairly traditional: haunted houses, ghosts, maybe some vampires or werewolves. I don’t love TONS of gore (although am not terribly averse to it either) and really out-there weirdness is sort of lost on me… I’m looking for atmosphere, dread, creepiness, something to make me want to pull the covers up tight (but nothing so gross I can’t close my eyes). I’ve read a good portion of these already:

  1. Frankenstein
  2. Dracula
  3. The Tell-Tale Heart
  4. The Turn of the Screw
  5. Let The Right One In
  6. The Vampire Chronicles (Anne Rice) — 4 of these
  7. Communion
  8. The Haunting of Hill House
  9. The House Next Door
  10. The Shining
  11. The Woman In Black
  12. Rebecca
  13. Sandman (graphic novels, quite a few, not all)
  14. The Lottery
  15. The Terror
  16. Lord of the Flies
  17. The Handmaid’s Tale
  18. Beloved
  19. Rosemary’s Baby
  20. The Exorcist
  21. The Body
  22. The House with a Clock in its Walls
  23. Coraline
  24. Down a Dark Hall (so glad to see this one on the list! A favorite not many have read)

Nearly a quarter… but that still leaves 76 wonderful reads ahead of me! I have a few on my list for this fall and winter:

  1. The Hunger (Fairly new, looking forward to this one)
  2. The October Country (can’t believe I haven’t read this, or maybe I have but it was a long time ago)
  3. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (These came out after I was in the target age; I scored a couple with the original, truly creepy illustrations and am looking forward to catching up now!)
  4. Spirit Hungers (Another kids book, new to me! I love scary kids books, I think they are often truly scary in a visceral, universal way and don’t have to try too hard)
  5. The Willows (catching up on classics!)

It’s been a bit of a stressful summer: moving, unpacking, learning about the new place, lots of projects and activities and travel… I’m looking forward to huddling in against the rain and cozying up with some scary reads.



I think a lot about creativity: mostly, how I am somehow failing at it. It goes something like this:

  • Look at all the time Keith budgets for art. Why don’t you do that?
  • Keith is part of a gallery and is on the Arts Center committee and is in the local painting guild and has sold a bunch of stuff. You are a loser and wasting your time and talent.
  • Think of all those projects you would like to do. Why aren’t you doing them?
  • Think of what you COULD be doing. Why aren’t you pushing yourself?
  • Other people accomplish so much. Why aren’t you?

This is, of course, complete and utter BS. I do what I want to do creatively and I spend my time the way I think matters most. I make considered choices about what matters to me and what I want to get done. The truth is: I am creative in lots and lots of ways… it just doesn’t always translate to a “piece of art.” Why is one form of creativity better than any other? When I listen to the guilty voice inside, the one that wants to convince me that my efforts in areas other than “art” are worthless, I feel pretty terrible. Wasted talent! Misplaced priorities! Again, utter BS.

Some examples of what creativity looks like in my life:

  • I am always knitting something: currently finishing up a blanket, plus plans for a scarf or two this winter, plus maybe even learning a new stitch or two.

I am learning how to build a chicken coop. We might end up ordering a pre-fab one, but I am learning lots about how to construct a healthy coop, and how to make your own design. I am going to take a woodworking class this fall so I can get some basic skills.

We inherited a bunch of old stuff that still works but needs some rehab, like this vintage BBQ that I am restoring. The inside is all new and it grills like a charm… now I need to work on the outside: clean it up, cut new wood for the side table and handle, etc.

Also unsung everyday creativity (so many people do these things and don’t get creative credit for them!):

  • Meal planning and cooking: I enjoy this and it is work, but it is also creative.
  • Gardening: Planning and color choices and pruning with an eye to things looking nice, building garden beds and trellises and putting in drip irrigation: this all takes creativity and enthusiasm and I do a lot of it, and I really love it.
  • House DIY: definitely works the creative problem-solving part of my brain. This is getting quite a workout in the new house. Painting and fixing and choosing and installing and figuring out solutions…
  • Homemaking: it takes a great deal of creative energy and visualization to put a home together. I really enjoy this and spend a lot of time considering how things look their best and how to make our home comfortable and welcoming.
  • My regular job: often requires creative skills of all sorts.
  • And, I make “real” art when I feel like it: special greeting cards, little projects when the mood strikes, a painting now and again if I think of something that I want to see become reality. I started a mural in the bathroom of our previous house; I’m thinking of what to do in our new house — the bathroom needs some help and is the perfect place for experimental murals. Small flourishes when I think something needs it, or just for fun.
  • Not to mention, I have been taking an ongoing studio pottery class for nearly two years! I really enjoy this class, even if I don’t make a lot of things that I consider “keepers” — it is still fun and works my creativity to go once a week and play with mud. Plus, this totally counts as “real” art, and I’ve even sold a piece!

I actually don’t want to be part of the gallery (I was invited!) — I see how much work it requires: regular new work (ideally, monthly!) plus regular gallery shifts. I don’t want to have to be on a schedule like that. I want to have time to do all this OTHER stuff that I enjoy doing, plus go hiking and camping, hang out with friends, take weekend trips, babysit the nephews, fix up the house, read, rest… the gallery and being on the Arts Center committee and all those things takes up a bunch of time and I would rather spend my time on other things.

I mean, there are lots of things I would like to do. I would like to write a children’s book about Thomas (I have no idea how to do this, but it’s on my list). I have an idea for cats-and-books graphics/t-shirts/bags. I have a few paintings I would like to do. I want to put together a few projects that have been languishing while we’ve either been moving into or out of or back into homes the last year or two. I’d like to take a drawing class again. I would like to do a daily creative practice of a small sketch or something, but cannot seem to find the time because ^^^ all of the above.

Which is OK. I am not wasting any talent; there is always more to be done, no matter how productive you are. It’s OK that I spread my creativity around, rather than focusing on just one or two things. It’s OK to be creative in any way that feels right, in the moment. It’s even OK not to be creative, and just hang out and do whatever I want.

When people encourage me to do more (You should paint more! You should be in the gallery! You should make something for this show! You should etc. etc. etc!), I know they mean well. I know it means they have confidence in my skills and want to see more of my creative work in the world. I know it’s a compliment. It feels like a guilt trip, but that’s only because I let it. This is my reminder to myself that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, and I totally get creative credit points for what I’m doing.

Finally Friday

Whew, I don’t recommend heading back to work immediately after a very full weekend. Actually I guess I do it pretty often but a full social and physically active weekend in the heat, plus travel and stress, equals extra-tired. And for some reason my back is freaking out like it hasn’t in months and months. I do not appreciate this. Today I spent half an hour tearing through some as-yet unpacked boxes looking for the heating pads. It was not pretty.

But, now the week is over and I have a glass of wine and another trashy murder book and it’s not hot and Keith is in charge of dinner and I have a yoga class tomorrow and a massage on Tuesday so it’s all gonna be all right.


We went to CatCon again. Keith is always the MC of the stage stuff and I manage audience questions. It’s fun, and we see a lot of good friends.

Might be our last year, or maybe we take a break next year. It eats up a lot of the summer (for Keith) and always seems to be on a weekend that has other stuff happening. But, we’ll see. It is fun to see the kitties, the vendors, the celebrities and celebricats, and we have made some really great friends.

I nearly took that little calico girl home from the adoption area… so sweet!!

Food Fads

I’m reading More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin; her first cooking essay collection, Home Cooking, is one of my favorites, so I got the second one thinking it would be more of the same and thankfully I was correct. Each chapter is about a certain recipe or food type or ingredient or food adventure. I love it; it is perfect reading for a busy summer when I am too busy to think about much more than what’s right in front of me, like, oh, let’s say… food.

This book was published in 1992 and it is interesting to note how food/nutrition crazes have changed. She mentions constantly how people (in 1992) no longer eat butter or cream or fat or eggs, and how you can turn a recipe lower-fat or fat-free if you wish (as you should wish), or how to serve a dinner party for people who won’t eat fat, and how she throws away the egg yolks and what a shame it is although “our arteries thank us for it.” However, there are lots of recipes for delicious bread and pasta, which of course these days are verboten to many folks, no mention of gluten-free anything, and sugar, while not really a major factor in any of her musings, is not really an enemy, more like just a casual friend that you don’t spend a ton of time with but hey, they’re not so bad every once in awhile (an approach I agree with; I am a fan of moderation of most things).

It is such a stark and marked contrast to how we think about fat and grains and food in general these days… clean eating and healthy fats and low-carb and paleo are supposedly the most healthy way to eat (depending on which camp you fall into… there are several), and god forbid your diet consist of 40% homemade bread, as she estimates her family’s diet to be. This sounds to me like the ideal diet! I love bread and would happily eat it 40% of the day, although sadly, this is now out of the question for me.

I have had to change my eating habits fairly radically over the past couple of years since I finally, finally, narrowed down what has been causing my very unpleasant stomach issues. Pardon the incredibly boring diet talk, but if I follow the low-FODMAP charts, I do pretty OK. On its surface, this chart makes about as much sense as all the other random food fads do (high fat! low fat! high carb! no carb!). However, the difference to me is that it is not a secret weight-loss plan (which I suspect most other food crazes are, which is OK if that’s what you’re after, I just resent the implication that somehow you will become a better person if you expunge all “X food item/category” from your world forevermore). It’s really all about just preventing stomach agony (the foods on the chart all cause some degree of disastrous chemical reactions in the guts of certain people, like myself), and it does a pretty good job at that. I’ve narrowed it down to some basic rules that are not super-easy to live by but if I follow them, I feel pretty good.

  • Minimal wheat. The gluten isn’t the problem, its the fructans in the wheat (blah blah blah, it’s one of the magical evil chemicals referred to above). However, the key about this way of eating is that it all depends on how your body reacts to different foods, and nothing is expressly forbidden (unless it causes YOU a terrible reaction, in which case, duh, avoid it!). I have found that I can tolerate a little bit of wheat, and that some forms are better than others. I can have the equivalent of a slice or two of bread (or a few bites of pasta or other wheaty thing)  every other day or so, that that seems to be fine. I eat gluten-free most of the time because it’s the easiest way to avoid wheat, but I can be a little bit loose with this one.
  • Lactose-free products when possible. If I avoid heavy lactose (regular milk, cottage cheese, regular yogurt, cream cheese) then things are mostly fine. Half-and-half is OK in moderation, regular cheese (which is naturally low in lactose) is also mostly OK. Basically I just fail nearly 100% on ice cream, because I love ice cream and I don’t love any of the substitutes I’ve tried. So I just eat it in moderation and put up in with the consequences. #fail. I am making my own lactose-free yogurt, though, and that is a solid #win.
  • Avoid Certain Vegetables: The hard stuff. I love vegetables and so many of my favorites are on the no-go list. Avocados, asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, cauliflower and worst of all, onions and garlic (to name just a few). I have zero tolerance for onions, especially raw onion. Garlic seems to be OK if it’s just a little bit. It is incredibly difficult to eat out and avoid onions and garlic. It is also tricky to cook like I like to cook without onions and garlic, although I’m getting better at it (ask me about asafoetida and garlic oil!). Unfortunately, the vegetables are the ones that make the biggest difference in my gut happiness. A little bit of raw onion can make me miserable for hours. This part makes me sad but there’s just not a lot of wiggle room on this.
  • Avoid beans, many nuts, artificial sweeteners, stone fruits. Also not fun. I love beans, most nuts, and all fruit. Beans are pretty much a no-go although small servings seems to be OK sometimes as long as they aren’t mixed with something else awful like cabbage or onion (I love both cabbage and onion), and frankly sometimes I just eat them anyway even though I suffer for it. I don’t eat nuts often so as long as I can remember which are OK and which to avoid (tricky, it seems totally random and is really hard to remember), this is pretty easy to navigate  mostly just because it doesn’t come up a lot. Peanuts are OK and that’s what we usually have around the house so I don’t think about that too much. Fruits are hard for the same reason: the list seems arbitrary and it’s hard to know what’s OK and what isn’t unless I check the list. I can have a few bites of the “red” items but any more than that and I suffer. Which is sad, because my new house has apple trees and pear trees and a giant fig bush, all of which I love and all of which are on the “no” list. I am going to experiment and I might just have to suffer because fresh figs from my own yard!!

Anyway, it’s kind of exhausting and sometimes I conveniently “forget” that I have to work really hard to pick and choose items that are OK for me to eat… but then my body conveniently reminds me that I really do have to be careful. Other factors like stress, hydration, and certain combinations of foods also play a part… it’s not very easy but it does make a difference. It’s also hard to eat with other people because the list is stupid and exhausting and makes no sense and I hate to be “that” person so I just do my best and sometimes I suffer. Oh well.

What can I eat? Lots of things! Thankfully the list includes lots of things that I do like (and plenty of things that were not OK in the 90s!!), so I try to make the most of those and avoid the “bad” stuff as much as I can. If I am really strict then I feel like a normal person and my stomach is very very happy. However, being really strict is almost impossible. Sometimes even when I’m pretty sure I’ve been strict, something sneaked in and I have a bad time of it. Mystery! Sad!

What I need to do is make myself a cheat sheet of go-to travel foods, fail-safe menu items to look for, and reminders of my major triggers. I have the app but it’s not perfect either, and a lot of it depends on your own body. It’s surprisingly difficult to keep straight — for instance, we were traveling recently and I was trying to choose an airplane snack… I chose pistachios, totally forgetting that those are a big fat NO. However, peanuts, macadamia nuts, or walnuts would have been fine. Sigh. Another recent case: I picked a ton of blackberries along our road, and made a nice low-FODMAP blackberry cobbler. I noticed some stomach upset but thought it must have been something else I ate that day since berries are OK, right? Wrong. Apparently strawberries and raspberries and blueberries are OK, but blackberries are not. WTF. However, a world where I cannot have some fresh-picked blackberry cobbler during the summer is not a world I want to inhabit, so I’ll suffer a bit for that one.

Anyway, I’m trying to get better, moving and travel makes things harder but I certainly feel better when I follow the low-FODMAP list. It’s a food fad that works for me, even though I definitely need to improve my adherence!