Category Archives: Other “Ings”

Busy, Busy in Inverness

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. First we had Hugo’s birthday party, and his birthday of course. He’s 5. The party was of the Ninja gymnastics variety which means we made a ninja cake and suggested he wear his ninja costume to the gymnastics center 15 minutes north. And then Hugo and a dozen of his mates did ninja type stuff on trampolines and in foam pits and on strap-in trapeze things, and an hour and forty-five minutes later we took him home and watched him put together Lego Star Wars and Ninjago kits.

Actually that last part’s not true. He put together Lego kits while we furtively slid off to other parts of the house and did work-like things while intermittently watching things like footie highlights  or reading about another celebrity career dropping so far under water that the sewer looks like a guitar-shaped pool. Hugo’s that builder five-year-old you keep quiet about when other parents complain about their kids getting Lego kits cause it means they (meaning the parents) have to spend the best part of the next three days on their hands and knees searching for parts they can barely see while following instructions they can not only barely see but barely understand. The trick here is to feign camaraderie without overdoing it, so they don’t not get Hugo a Lego kit next time around.

So that was last weekend and then my parents flew in on the Wednesday for an extended Thanksgiving visit thing. We hadn’t seen each other in well past a year, and it’s one of those moments where you realize they’re really getting old. They look like ironing boards when they bend down, nor do so well with any kind of steps. but It’s wonderful to see them cause they’re good people, good northern people; they have no compunction about telling the kids it’s absolutely not okay to behave like kids, they still hold hands, and my mum flattens his hair down for him and reminds him where the bathroom is.

We rented a house for the best part of a week in Inverness. Marin, of course, not Scotland, and the house is absolutely stunning. To post pictures would be unfair. There’s a treehouse that undermines the rustic sense of the very word, and Tomales bay itself is beautiful, especially in the morning. It’s the kind of thing where being out there today at sunrise with my daughter and the dog made all seem right with the world. Even when you get back to the house and realize you forgot to bring the most important part of the gizmo you have that makes the best coffee like ever, and in your inbox there’s an email from Termitimix with a list of all the expensive things you need to do to stop your house being eaten from the inside out. In terms of Thanksgiving, we’re in good shape. Made the pumpkin pies a day early, and we’re going with both a ham and a turkey to push that sense of it not really being  5,000 miles from Blackpool. We’ll worry about a sugar update some other time.


The Gwen Stefani Diet

Blake and Gwen After and AfterSo, the sugar thing. It’s been months since the first update. First three weeks went really well, especially as the occasional piece of fruit, or four, remained permissible. However, probably the worst thing to do when trying to quit sugar is to plan a five-day trip to New York, sans enfants. A five day trip to meet a brother flying in from England, a brother who really enjoys an eleven pm chocolate brownie, the preferred serving involving a demitasse of chocolate mousse on the side. He also likes a beer, as I do myself, so, really, to be honest, the quitting sugar thing went on hiatus cause, you know, how much fun is it to eat a late night chocolate brownie by yourself, especially after half-a-dozen I.P.A.s?

So, a five day hiatus, a hiatus in which a quite unsightly rash developed on the lid of my right eye. It’s also in my ear, especially the right one. The doctor says it’s Seborrheic Dermatitis. He thinks its stress, or lack of sleep, or, hello, a form of candida, brought on by a yeast called Malassezia, which sounds uncannily like a venereal disease a friend of mine found himself attached to in college. And it’s a close relative of our friend saccharon. The doctor suggests more sleep and an anti-Candida diet. What does a vegan eat on an anti-Candida diet? Vegetables, beans in moderation, and lots of water. So I basically need to put on a mule deer costume until the fall. Two months without alcohol, without dairy, without sugar, without fruit. Oh and no fried foods, no chips, no gluten, no alcohol—I think I said that last one. So, a mule deer on a diet. Can’t wait.

But I certainly wasn’t about to deal with that during the end of the school year, so I went back to mochas and burritos and smeared hydrocortisone on the affected spots, which, hilariously kept shifting. As soon as the eyelid responded, the base of the nostrils would flare up, and then the left ear. It’s whack a mole. And I keep pondering the more exercise, more sleep, the absolutely no sugar thing. Summer the perfect time for that. I mean, actually, as a teacher, no excuses. And yesterday, the missus went off for a week and a half to see her mother. Took our eleven year old with her, and the four year old’s in camp all week. So…I had a last supper, involving just about everything a last supper should involve minus the prayer, and today I’m on a nine-day juice and smoothie fast thing. Gotta get radical. Admittedly the last time I went radical, I drank nothing but water for five days, and that sucked worse than scabies. I don’t recommend driving. After about four days, i could barely put my own shoes on. So not doing that again.Blake before and after that looks like before and before

But, today, a new Vitamix arrived. A friend also sent a tempting link to an article about Blake Shelton dropping poundage ridiculous on the Gwen Stefani diet. Which involves everything you’d presume it involves plus, apparently, ingesting copious amounts of CLA Safflower oil which, surprise, surprise, happens to be available at a discounted price via a link at the bottom of the webpage. Let me find the details a la Blake: 30 lbs in less than a month. And he still eats like a runaway horse—Gwen’s words, though not an exact quote. I’m not convinced though I might be if it came with a Gwen Stefani dating app. And the above photos certainly look more like a before and before or an after and after, not by any stretch a before and after, hair shade notwithstanding. Alright, all hilarity aside. I’m back in. On the Vitamix diet until the fam returns from the mother-in-law’s. This time, no fruit, and no five day all-in trip to Manhattan to see the brother in the devil suit.

Back in ten days with an update. 7/17/2017, how do you not love the numerical fluidity there?

Sugar Squared

Peet's CoffeeSo, I just quit sugar, or, at least I’m trying. I’m completely addicted. I come up with reasons to leave the house on some pointless errand just so I can stop at Starbucks for a medium, decaf soy mocha thingy and a pack of those dark chocolate graham crackers they display next to the cash register. Where have you been my wife says, when I came back 45 minutes after going to drop something off at the post office. Oh, the line was horrendous, and then Steve called on his way home and needed to talk about Julia. All nonsense, and that, apparently, the first sign—concealment. I, similarly, constantly, sneak stuff meant for the kids, things like their Halloween candy and the Jaffa Cakes their Nana sends from England, the kinds of things we keep in a cupboard above the fridge, next to the alcohol and the matches.

A part of me wonders if it’s an OCD thing, but then again it’s not my OCD telling me I’m utterly craving a quarter cup of chocolate chips, or I have to eat three fun-size Twix. If it was the OCD, I’d eat all the Halloween candy, leave a few half-gnawed wrappers and tell my wife we need to call animal control. Blaming it on the children seems a little harsh. Maybe that’s the next step. But, anyway, D-day cometh. I had a check-up last week: blood work, prostate etc., and I have high cholesterol, which is unusual for a hard-core vegetarian trying his hardest most days to qualify as a vegan. What do you call that people ask? Failure’s the obvious response, but I hum and haw and say that technically I’m an ovo-vegan who occasionally eats cheese and dairy. “Failure” such a more appropriate response.

But, anyway back to sugar, and the doctor. I’m not diabetic, but I have the high cholesterol thing, like twice what it should be. If I don’t eat red meat, the next thing on the how to lower your cholesterol list is losing weight. And yes I could shed the odd pound in ten, so not massively overweight, but when I imagine putting a ten-pound weight in my back pocket and carrying it around all day, well, that’s a little awkward. I know people who have gotten help for sugar addiction, as in serious help, not just the go talk to a therapist once a week kind of help. I’m not sure where to put myself on a scale (sorry) from 1 to 10. So, there’s the Starbucks thing, and the Halloween, Easter, Christmas candy thing, but I’m not getting up in the middle of the night, locking myself in the garden shed and scoffing down half a chocolate cake. Then again, the minute I feel any kind of stress, sugar is the go-to, either actual sugar or a plate load of carbs. Ideally, both. Carbs then treat. Carbs then treat. And I shovel them in, especially when stress is easy to find with two kids bouncing around the house and pretending that “listening” is a spectator sport.

So, anyway, I’m trying. This is day two. I’m already cheating—convincing myself that fruit isn’t really sugar cause it’s natural, and dried fruit is definitely not sugar because it’s natural and it’s dried. Case closed. So, how do I feel? Pretty much the same as the day before the day before yesterday. Not entirely surprising, really. Especially when I started the day with a decaf mocha thingy (but from Peet’s and with almond milk not soy) as a way of easing into it. More to follow though my four year old just asked when the Easter Bunny’s coming and a little shiver went up the old spine.