a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: boston

Food Blues and Temper Tantrums

As you may have gathered from the last several weeks, I’ve undergone some changes in eating habits and food prep. It’s been hard. The author of The Gluten-Free Bible wrote that going gluten-free is, in a sense, a process of mourning. She’s got that right.

Cooking is something I’ve always enjoyed. I prided myself on cooking so much in high school that people often gave me cookbooks on gift-giving occasions. Learning new ways of preparing healthy meals and favorite goodies that are gluten-free has been a major challenge, especially so when the boy and his voracious appetite eats up most of the safe food in the house like last weekend. That ended badly.

I was already frustrated and tired from reworking recipes and finding new and creative ways of cooking lean meat and veggies while going through the grain-free part of the voyage. Then, come Saturday night, I realized after waking from an impromptu nap late in the day that there wasn’t anything that was safe for me to eat in the house.

Gabe often goes in to the office on the weekend to work on various personal projects for his professional advancement and such was the case on this particular evening. When he got home at around 7:30, I started whining about how hungry I was, how late it was for grocery shopping and cooking, and the challenge of finding gluten-free, grain-free, onion-free, and seafood-free food in the city.

Got that? Four big food no-no’s. It was hard enough when it was just the onion and seafood allergy. Now add gluten intolerance. It’s a nightmare!

Always ready to solve my problems, Gabe opened his laptop and researched places we can go. He found a Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square that looked good for dinner. We scurried out into the cold rainy evening to catch the T. On the way out to Cambridge, he told me his plan. I nearly cried.

One of the things I’m working on is being brave with trying new foods and cuisines. I grew up in a home where money and food was in short supply and it was a big deal to waste food. I learned quickly to eat only stuff I knew I liked because I’d be responsible for finishing everything on my plate no matter what. It discouraged exploration. That and my folks were not the best of cooks and the food was often over spiced, over or under cooked, and of a limited menu.

I had never eaten Vietnamese cuisine before and there was no way I wanted to struggle through making sure it was onion, gluten, grain, and seafood free only to find out I didn’t like it. That would make a bad night worse.

As we approached the Charles/MGH stop, we decide to bend the grain-free guidelines a bit and go to Flatbread in Somerville. Flatbread is an all-natural and organic pizza restaurant. The pizzas are cooked in an open wood clay hearth, the kitchen is open, and they list all the farms that their stuff comes from on a chalkboard. And best of all, they have gluten-free pizza crust. It’s awesome. It’s delicious. It’s awesomely delicious.

We arrived in Somerville and picked our path through the crowd and around the big puddles and snow banks. I held on desperately to my smile and tried hard to keep up my end of the conversation, but I was too lost in hunger, frustration over my new eating challenges, and anxiety over the normal problems of ordering food with a plethora of food allergies to be successful.

The Somerville Flatbread location shares an open building with a bowling alley. Over the crashing pins and dropped balls, we put our names down on the list for a table and learned that it would be an hour and forty-five minutes. It was already 8 pm.

Back out on the street, in the middle of Somerville, facing a two hour wait for food and looking up and down a busy main street with what seemed like twenty or more purveyors of fine food with nothing safe for me to eat, I melted down. A feet stomping in rain puddles, fist pumping, sobbing, thoughts racing temper tantrum ensued.

Gabe offered to try and find another place for us to eat, or for us to go home and relax, but that didn’t really solve the problem. My problem was that it’s now incredibly hard to eat out without a lot of preparation and that I need to be assured that I’ll always have something reasonable to eat at home, and I was famished. As the rain poured and collected in growing puddles, we discussed the issue when I’d come down some and found solutions.

Back at Flatbread for dinner that night and I enjoyed a gluten-free personal pizza with the backdrop of a rare winter thunder and lightening storm.

Life has been so much easier on the home front since folding the grains back in and learning some tips and tricks to cooking and shopping gluten-free. Let’s hope it gets easier on the dining front soon with new coping strategies.

And with that, I’m off to do some menu planning and grocery shopping.

 

 

It’s a Snow Day. Who’da thunk it?

It’s been a few days since the last post. Those days were spent fighting with my Internet source, battling this cold that keeps hanging on (it’s turned into sore ears, a burning throat, and coughing, but it’s still just a cold according to the doc this morning), meeting with new professional contacts, house and pet sitting, and taking care of life stuff.

As I sit here clicking away at the keyboard, I check over my shoulder every now and then at the progress of the road crews cleaning up this latest storm to hit the Boston area. The snow began early morning and the storm warning stays in effect until Thursday morning. I believe at the last update we’re supposed to get 10-15 inches of snow in this storm, and another is coming in on Saturday. Considering the last few winters were mild, I really shouldn’t complain about the inches we’re getting this year. It goes in cycles.

The snow this winter has given me ample opportunity to think about some of the differences between living in rural Maine and living in urban Massachusetts. When I comment on the weather, people ask where I’m from. I respond that I’m from Maine to which they say, “so, shouldn’t you be used to this?” Well, yes, to some extent.

gabeinsnowbank

Gabe climbing out of the car and over the bank when we ate at the S&S in Cambridge last week.

 

There are quite a few differences in dealing with the snow and cold in Maine and dealing with it here on the coast in Boston. For one, most places I needed to go in Maine were too far away to make walking reasonable; so I drove everywhere. I never dealt much with slushy, snowy sidewalks in central Maine, nor did I have to try parallel parking on a narrow street lined with cars and snow banks taller than my car. As far as I know, there also are not many places that have the wind tunnel effect in Maine in the places I lived, other than when I was on campus at UMaine. That was tough. I’d have to say, though, that the Back Bay of Boston is colder and windier than I remember UMaine being. Anyone else have experience being on campus at UMaine in the winter to chime in on this?

snowbank

A few cars on a side street in Cambridge. I snapped the shot to illustrate how lucky I am to not have to try parking in an area like this!

 

In addition to the differences between Maine and Mass, this winter has given me a chance to contrast the living environments I’ve thought I wanted and the one I’m in now. When Gabe and I first started looking for a place in Boston, I wanted a nice apartment with charm and character in a well-established neighborhood. Instead, we’re on the frontier of the city surrounded by new construction and parking lots. If I had it my way, I probably would have been parking on a street like the one shown above. Instead, we’re living in a newer apartment building in the city and the car is in a parking garage two blocks down. Thank you, Gabe, for finding this place and talking me into it’s merits! After this winter, I’m so grateful to not have to shovel out my parking space, the walk, and clean off my car once a week! To those that do, I commend your efforts this challenging winter!

* * *

Gabe and I spent the majority of the weekend in Marblehead house and pet sitting. I used the distraction-free environment to chip away at filling out online job applications and updating my materials at various job databases, as well as make some progress on my novel. Gabe caught up on Modern Warfare:  Black Ops. We both have our priorities, you know. His avatar’s rapid footsteps and gunfire was competition with my typing. It’s hard to say who won.

From Marblehead, we went to Belmont for a gaming party with some friends. The gaming parties are always a blast. There were a variety of games in play, but I sat at the Small World table twice and then played all of the expansions of Playtest (We Didn’t Playtest This at All, We Didn’t Playtest This Either, Blue Cards, Dice, and Chaos)  and then Bang! The Bullet. Great games. I want to buy them all for my own collection. We also played Once Upon a Time with the Dark Tales expansion at the end of the night.

What was interesting about that night in particular is that for most of it, Gabe and I sat at different tables gaming (there were probably 20 or so people there). A few years ago, I don’t know that it would have happened. I used to be closed off and unable to interact with people without a shield. I was very proud to realize how much I’ve grown, and it’s good to know that past decisions in relationships are showing their value.

I just checked:  Yup, it’s still snowing. Thought it may have stopped by some miracle. I hope you have a good and safe day this snowy Tuesday. I’m off to make some ginger and thyme tea to chase away this cold!

It's a snow day.

Public Garden, Boston. Photo by Sally Chen. From Boston.com’s Facebook album.

We got about 18″ here in Boston so far, and the snow will continue until late tonight. Perfect day to snuggle in under the red fleece blanket I bought freshman year of college and sip on coffee and finish reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Gabe’s gone in to the office for a few “freebie” hours.

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Discovering Home, Pt. II.

For the first part of the journey, please read Discovering Home. This post is a continuation of the tale.

The rusty stairs covered with pigeon excrement and feathers on A Street filled me with the familiar panic as I climbed one step at a time. Bridges, windows or decks on even the second floor, and ladders shake me at the very core. Up I went with my heart pounding. A year ago, I probably would have turned around at the sight of the stairs and abandoned the mission. But today, the need to follow this through, and the strength I’ve gained from grappling with this fear head on gave me the strength to continue.

When I reached Summer Street at the top of the stairs, it was as though I had passed through a secret portal and Bonnie had given me the password I needed. The old brick buildings whispered their welcome and impressed me with their history. Across the way was 300 Summer St and Channel Cafe, the home of many of the Fort Point artists. I knew it by the rusted metal awning.

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Discovering Home

What a week and weekend! So much to share that this is going to be a long one. Stay with me, it’s worth it.

The Seaport is a fun area to live in. There were free concerts from some of the biggest names in the music industry all summer so long as we opened the living room window. We are mere paces from some of the finest dining establishments in town and the T gets us everywhere else we would want to go. It took a long time to get used to having a 24-7 concierge, the computer lab, and an in-house gym, though. It’s been great fun, but it didn’t truly feel like home until this past week.

I’ve been complaining to Gabe about how much I miss Gulu Gulu Cafe and Jaho in Salem, especially Gulu. Sit down with a book on the big orange couch and coffee comes to you in an endless stream. I spent hours there with novels or my laptop. It’s one of the first places I went when I was considering moving to the area when I was in Maine, the first place I went when I took up residence, and now the place I miss. It helped make Salem feel like home. And I miss that.

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I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Bits and Pieces

cozied up at home

I feel like writing today. It’s been a while.

It’s a chilly, grey, rainy day here on the north shore and my thoughts have turned to warmth and comfort. I pulled out a sweater from the tub I hauled down to the basement a month ago, slipped into some jeans, wrapped a scarf around my neck and settled into a book first thing this morning. It has been a while since the house has been quiet like this for quiet reflection and reading. I sipped on coffee made with lowfat milk and honey in my new Emerson mug. Perfect.

the house I rented in Maine

new transitions

My thoughts drifted back to autumns and winters past, the little comforts for chill days, and how different my present is, and how much greater the difference will be in five weeks. I went from renting a house in rural Maine were I chopped and split and hauled my own fire wood to soon living in an apartment building in the up-and-coming part of Boston with amenities I never dreamed of having at my finger tips. Worlds apart.

the roof deck of my new home

In Maine, I had organic farms and farm stands a few streets away, chickens in my back yard that ate bugs off my herbs and vegetables, and fruit trees. I was blessed with an abundance of food that could easily be traced to its roots. Boston has Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers’ markets, too, but it’s different. I’m not sure which I preferred. Maine was wonderful, but living in Boston where I will be commuting to gather groceries by means of public transit will be a new and interesting experience. Maintaining my organic, green, healthy lifestyle in 750 square foot apartment in Boston has given me a new focus for blog writing.

I look forward to the new experience of getting on the silver line and having time to think and observe while going to gather food. I look forward to the bustling farmers’ market full of new and wonderful things. And I look forward to a new opportunity to start fresh and make more adjustments in my diet for a healthier life. This whole experience will be new. And I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it presents.

reading

I curled up with The Eyre Affair, a novel on loan from my friend Jose. I’m working on zipping through so I can return it to him at his farewell party in two weeks. I inadvertently slammed the book when I last saw him at a gaming event by saying something to the effect of I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now and haven’t had a chance to finish it yet to which he replied something to the effect of so there are a bunch of books you like better than this one. So I’m trying to make up for it by actually finishing the book and coming up with an honest review of it.

I’ve been in a book gathering mood of late and have picked up the first four books of The Dark Tower, of which I’m in the middle of book two, an annotated complete works of Milton, the Divine Comedy, and the new instant classics of Little Women and Werewolves as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ll never have enough books. I’m doomed to living in a book-lined home.

hand and home crafts

Nothing much going on with needle crafts such as cross-stitching or knitting. Per usual, I have a ton of UFOs sitting around that need some attention. The hexacomb cardigan has been set aside until I have an opportunity to fix some errors using EZ’s “no tears” method. The hexacomb pattern became a spiral when I was under the influence of Vicodin. I haven’t had the spirit to fix it since I discovered the error.

gaming and geekery

I picked up copies of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII this weekend. I look forward to settling in and playing them through this summer. I also picked up the first volume of some comics:  Lenore, The Wizard of Oz, and The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to purchase the whole of each.

That’s what I’m up to and some of what I’ve been thinking about. I hope all is well with you!

Much love. Black Sheep.

Accountability and a few Thank You's

Blogging, it seems, is mostly about keeping oneself accountable. When I wasn’t blogging, I felt no “obligation” or “motivation” to do the things I enjoy doing and then talking about, y’know, running, knitting, crafting, reading, adventuring; in other words:  being mindful and observant and engaged.

Since dusting off the blog I’ve already found myself perking up some and looking to my big pile of UFOs (for non-crafters/knitters, that means unfinished objects) and half-read books and reflecting on my recent shenanigans out and about in the greater Boston area. So much stuff to take note of and talk about! So much stuff to appreciate.

Speaking of accountability, there are some big things I’ve done that I’m very proud of that I’d like to share:  I’ve almost been in the north shore area for a year (it’s been a full year since I started visiting, July will be my 1-year anniversary of living here) and I’ve managed to keep afloat financially. When I moved down here, it was after leaving my teaching position in Maine and leaping into the dark hoping to land on something solid. Now, I don’t have a teaching position (yet), but I have been able to earn enough to keep my bills paid and pay off my minor medical debts from last spring. Granted, I have had help from friends along the way with small floating loans, but I did it. I did it!

Last spring when I was meditating and sending out my intentions and asking for help, I asked for a teaching position, but knowing it takes a while to get established, I also asked for just enough income to meet my needs and to be of service to others. Whelp, I certainly got what I asked for. My current position is all about service to some of the neediest students out there. And I’m making just enough to make ends meet and set some aside for future months. I’m feeling my teaching position just around the corner, too. This fall. C’mon, cosmos! Let’s make it happen!

I’m almost done getting my Massachusetts certification. I’ve paid off my non-student loan/car loan debt. Stayed current (mostly) on my bills. Built a solid social and professional network. All while having a helluvalot of fun at the same time!

I want to thank the people (not naming names, but you know who you are) who have helped along the way. I couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me and giving me a stern talking to when needed.