Books are Gluten Free!


Spring break truly is my favorite time of year. It comes as a welcome respite in the busiest season, and it is not a trip, it is a vacation. When I’m not sitting on the beach or by the pool, I’m drinking coffee slowly, I’m walking to local shops, I’m chillin’ with the fam, I’m mixing a G&T, I’m evaluating my tan putting on sunscreen. I’m reading.

Choosing books is an arduous task when you compare it with the above list. This year I tried to read 1984. I feel like I should have read that by now. But spring break is not a time for “shoulds.” Besides, I kinda feel like I’m over communism. (I just finished teaching a unit on Korea to 6th graders. Trying to help them really understand communism is not an easy task) I promptly put it down and picked up some good stories, all of which are true! As I write, there are tropical waftings of residual sunscreen coming up from the pages…

From an AJC review: The tragedy of AIDS in Ethiopia comes into sharp focus in Melissa Fay Greene’s powerful new book, There Is No Me Without You. Greene, who lives with her family in Atlanta, tackles the terrifying truth that in 2005, Ethiopia counted among its population 1.5 million AIDS orphans. Officials estimate some 12 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Here’s a brief summary: For years Neely Tucker was a foreign correspondent covering the world’s most dangerous hot spots — Sarajevo, Nairobi, Kinshasa. In 1997 he was based in Zimbabwe. At that time, the country was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis in Africa. Unable to have children of their own, Tucker and his wife, Vita, threw themselves into volunteer work at a local orphanage filled with sick infants whose parents had died or had simply abandoned them. It was there they met a baby girl named Chipo. In the Shona language, her name means “gift.” Like thousands of children in Zimbabwe, she had been abandoned at birth and left for dead. Neely Tucker writes about the struggle to keep Chipo alive, and then the long journey through Zimbabwe’s bureaucratic maze to make the child a permanent part of the family.

My favorite part:

“I had remembered the thought from long ago that had led me to this courtyard in southwestern Nigeria: the idea that there was some sort of truth to be found in the world’s most sorrowful places. It was something I had viewed as critical to my understanding of the world, and I had pursued it since the day I had come of age in Mississippi and began to see things as they really were…Had it been left to me, Chipo, my very own daughter, would be dead because I had not been there. There are defining moments in your life, in which your measure is taken for good and you remember it always. So it was for me then.”

 

Penelope Ayers by Amy Julia Becker.

Summary: Penelope Ayers is a memoir about a beautiful, gracious, lonely New Orleanian who discovers one February morning that she has cancer. Penny’s life to this point has included an alcoholic husband, divorce, depression, and raising two boys on her own. And yet this crisis prompts her to reach out for help. Three generations of her fractured, colorful family respond, and in so doing, they all experience grace and healing.

My favorite part: “I wondered, What does it mean to have hope for Penny? What does it mean to have hope for eternal life?” I knew it had to do with the resurrection–that if Jesus truly had been raised from the dead, then I could believe others could be raised with him. So hope meant believing in a promise, in a future that didn’t contain the wrenching reality of pain, and death, and separation. And yet hope involved more than the future, was more complicated than a denial of the hurt and confusion of the present moment, more complicated than trite condolences about death bringing us to a better place. Somehow, I thought, hope had to connect the present and the future, bind them together…To hope meant to stand in the place between–feeling the pain of the present while, somehow, still trusting in God’s goodness, in the reunion yet to come.”

 

Pedicures are Gluten-Free!

Yesterday, following my oral exam (which I passed, btw), Maury and Betsy accompanied me to soak my feet and my soul at Nouvelle: A Westside Nail Salon. Since I’ve had less than excellent feet work done with both of them recently, I was eager for something better. Nouvelle came highly recommended by many of our fellow Atlanta Westsiders. After a hot water bath for our feet, we were placed in semi-inverted position with our legs elevated in a cushy chair. It was divine.

An hour and only $28 later…we emerged with soft feet and beautiful nails, although I’m not 100% satisfied with the color. Maury and Betsy would not let me get dark purple on May 7, nor rich girl red. I decided to go with “Dim Sum Plum,” part of OPI’s new Hong Kong line, you know, since I teach World Cultures. It’s a touch perky for my taste, but it’s ok. Next time, I will go with my gut. I’m so edgy.

I don’t think I will be going back to Nail Talk and Tan anytime soon. It was the perfect way to spend a post-exam afternoon! And as Betsy remarked, pedicures are gluten-free!

Girls Gone Wild Sans Gluten

Considering we have lots of self-esteem, Spring Break 2k10 is NOT really the spring break you might imagine, especially since it takes place in Naples, Florida. The Varsity baseball team as well as lots of old people are sharing our vacation destination.

 

Case In Point

 

It is my first Gluten-Free Vacation, which at first seems a little sad, especially in a place fraught with family traditions full of glutenous delights. However, I am traveling with none other than my GF inspiration, Betsy, who knows her way around vacation food!

Also, we are both passionate about reading, writing, Africa, gender issues, the color green, OD-ing on Lilly Pulitzer in college, chocolate, pedicures, tanning (outdoor of course), flexibility, traveling not-so-light, the Indigo Girls, cats named after Cats, sweet potatoes, clear carbonated beverages, Joe’s jeans, slow-and-steady running, coffee, peas, the outdoors…just to name a few.

We had an amazing day yesterday (Dear Reader, sorry if you are reading this at your desk. Love, Moxie).

Here’s my top ten list in reverse/chronological order.

1. Wake up: no alarm. Glorious.

2. Breakfast on the porch: Gluten free cinnamon english muffin (should English  be capitalized?) Betsy brought from Sally’s Bakery with cream cheese and homemade Jam. Delish

3. Coffee shop time: Finished paper on Sexuality and Identity for my gender class and turned it in (!) at Panera over hazelnut coffee. (side note: I read some great books in preparation for the paper that I will write about in a later post.)

4. We went grocery shopping at an organic market, where we bought food for the week for under $100. Amazing. Granted we both packed things like 4 eggs, 1/4 package of granola, airplane peanuts, half a half gallon of milk, 1/3 bag of farmstand spinach…so we had the basics covered, but STILL. If you don’t count booze (which we don’t) it almost meets the $7/day rule. Not bad, especially since it’s all organic.

5. Lunch: Chicken salad on greens, vegetable chips, sliced Gala apple. Perfect beach lunch.

6. PLEASURE reading at the pool:  It’s still a little chilly/windy for the beach. I just started (per Betsy’s suggestion of course) Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel, Lacuna. More to come on that as well.

7. Run/Walk on Gulfshore Blvd. North:  Flat, sunny, breezy…it was perfect run/walk weather. And I’m allegedly running a 10K in a week, so it’s time to get started.

8. Sunset Happy Hour: We watched the sun set over the Gulf after raiding the liquor cabinet (thanks, Dad). Betsy prepared an amazing plate of apps for us. Parmesan cheese and dates on Glutino crackers (or plain), farmstand carrots and hummus. It was a perfectly clear, Green Flash night!

9. Dinner: We recreated a recipe we made last week at my house. GF pizza (dough I froze and brought from home) with goat cheese, caramelized onions, pears, and rosemary. It was awesome, and we have leftovers for lunch! Salad with watermelon beets, Crasins, red onion, and balsamic. Red wine, of course. We drank Bliss, an organic Cab. Bliss actually describes it well.

10. Reading and journal time before an early bedtime…(Betsy stayed up to watch Duke whamp UNC)

It’s going to be a good week.



Gluten-Free 4 LIFE

As I have cut out gluten from my diet, I’ve gotten a lot of eye rolls, a lot of questions, but also a lot of heart-felt sympathy. It’s been great to have Anne and Betsy to help support and guide my new eating patterns. We had a delicious chocolate cake from Pamela’s mix for Anne’s birthday on Sunday!

Here’s some more information on recent research that’s been done on celiac and gluten sensitivity. Despite the sinister title,  “What you don’t know might kill you,” has lots of great stats and scary info about how under-diagnosed gluten sensitivity is as well as details about the harmful effects of gluten.

I’m convinced!

Freedom

In a philosophy class this summer, a salty professor posed the question “what is freedom?” As it turns out, no one really knows. Freedom is a founding principle of our nation, and something we might say is an essential human right, yet what does it actually mean? What do we want to be free from, exactly?

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a little freedom of my own. Freedom from gluten. Without going into details, I’ve been suspicious that something is wrong with the way my body is processing food. Mostly I’ve just felt “off” for a good while, and it’s seems like time to figure out why. With the support (group) of a few celiac friends, I’m trying this out.

So far it’s been one week and one day, and I’m loving it. (Other than increased grocery bills…)

Side bar: Of course, an actual wheat intolerance would prove much more difficult with the whole cross contamination issue. These poor people can’t eat anything that has even existed in the same air with gluten. This means salad tongs touching someone’s plate or a flour tortilla that brushes up against some okra. yikes.

I CAN have…

1. peanut butter

2. chocolate

3. corn chips and salsa and hummus

4. sweet potatoes

5. red wine

I CAN’T eat…

1. homemade pumpkin bread (thankfully, Betsy brought me some gluten free pumpkin muffins that were spectacular (check her out at glutenfreedomatlanta.com).

2. Kashi TLC crackers

3. beer

4. My mom’s homemade apple pie

Overall, I feel really great. I’ve had lots of energy, and I’m sleeping better than ever. It hasn’t been super hard yet…and I’m not 100% sure it’s the solution, but for now I’m sticking with it!