Distractions of Space, Gravity, and Chia Seeds

The other day I was making breakfast and managed to spill chia seeds all over the floor. If you’ve never seen them, they’re very small seeds, about the size of a pinhead.

And they got everywhere!  I’m still hunting down errant seeds.

So, while I was checking out zero-gravity on YouTube, I decided I’d probably be a disaster in space.  Check out these guys eating pizza.

Can you imagine chia seeds all floating around in zero gravity?  Oh, dear…


Triple Whammy: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free

Last October, I went gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free.  Also as processed-free as I could manage.

It was partially due to timing.  I’m lactose intolerant, but not allergic to wheat or anything like that.  But my mother died at the same age I’m at now, following a lot of health problems, ending with cancer.  She might have been predisposed to some of it genetically, but when I started looking at how we ate when I was growing up, I wondered if that contributed to it.

But it was also a growing change.   I ran across some old Jack La Lanne videos, started exercising, and got some of the books he’d written.  He didn’t just talk about exercising in those books, but also eating.  More vegetables!

I was reading a Washington Post article that mentioned the book Eat Fat, Get Thin.  It’s a horrible title.  Makes it sound like many of those diet books out there.  But there was enough about it in the article, that I bought it as an eBook.  Instant book!  Most of it talks about the diet industry, which makes a lot of money keeping us fat (as well as the drug industry, the exercise industry, and probably a few others).

So I thought, “Why not?”  It wasn’t like it was crazy eating.  It was just more vegetables, more fat, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, and no processed food.

Dairy-Free Eating

I grew up with lactose intolerance.  My mother had it years before it came in to the public view.  She had a terrible time of it.  We used to get her ice cream cakes for her birthday, which we couldn’t do any longer.  She had trouble traveling because airline food had dairy.  And everyone pre-made food source seemed to put it into everything.

Then, there weren’t any alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk.

I went largely dairy free the year before because of a book I read that said dairy was a mucus maker.  I couldn’t quite give up cheese.  I did see an improvement in my sinuses, though I still got the winter cold.

I was also shocked at how much dairy is still added as filler.  With all these people with sensitivities, you’d think some of the manufacturers would change the recipes.  No!  All they do is add a disclaimer that it contains milk.

Even vitamins had dairy in them.  I had to watch out because I’m also lactose intolerant, and a vitamin might claim it was dairy free and still have lactose.  It’s been a lot about reading labels.

I still occasionally have some cheese, but it’s usually in a pre-made salad.  That’s not a deal-killer for me.  Gluten on the other hand …

Gluten-Free Eating

I thought that dairy was added to everything.  Gluten is added to a whole lot more.

I now stop outside the door to check the restaurant’s menu.  There are a lot of restaurants that sell manly sandwiches or pasta.  It gets added into sauces, used as a coating for meat, and is pretty much in all deserts.

I went on the cruise back in February and even found the food there pretty limited.  Breakfast wound up being nuts (really!  I was on a cruise and eating a bowl of nuts for breakfast every day).  Lunch was always a challenge because they had a big pasta bar, and anything that wasn’t pasta had gluten in it, or was at least suspicious. Dinner was better because I ate it in the dining room, and that seemed more flexible.

Even the gluten-free magazines aren’t a big help.  They replace it with:

  1. More dairy.
  2. More sugar.
  3. Gluten free bread

It’s like we’re spinning around in this crazy circle!

This one’s been hard for me.  I still crave bread.  I wouldn’t mind having desert once in a while, but most of them hit the double-whammy of dairy and gluten.  And boy, I miss pizza!

Sugar-Free Eating

This one’s been easier, simply because I’m not buying premade food.  I’m also reading labels.  And not having dairy and gluten is a sugar killer because I don’t have a lot of deserts available to me to start with (though I’ve nipped at the Trader Joe’s gluten free chooclate-chocolate cookies on a occasion).

The result?  Since October, I haven’t had a cold, or the flu, and I haven’t needed allergy medicine in prime pollen season.

Eating in Space

This was for research, but it was pretty cool.

Crutches are Evil Things

I broke my foot last Saturday while I was in the Everglades and have been on crutches, no weight bearing, and with a boot.

I’ve been on them before, when I was in the military, and they don’t get any easier with time.  In fact, one of the things I learned with this round was that I get up and move around a lot.  I didn’t realize how much until I wasn’t able to do as much.

The first day I think I managed to spill something on the floor about three times, then fell in the middle of the night trying to get to the bathroom.  There’s a sharp turn from the bedroom door into a much narrower bathroom door.  Balance checks all over the place.  Yup, I’m pretty dangerous.


I’m keeping up on my exercise, though no lower body exercises and no lower body cardio.  I’m revisiting my Jack La Lanne videos, since he was all about doing the exercise at home.  Most of them can be done with a chair, standing, or the floor, and I can substitute something else where feet are required (i.e. running in place might become swimming).

The worst places

  1. Kitchen. Hands down, it’s a horror story.  Everything that is conveniently located normally is hard to get on crutches.
  2. Did I mention I have stairs and hills? If I go outside, it’s down a flight of stairs, down another flight of stairs, down a hill, turn the corner, and down another hill.  We have a hill of doom out front that eats buses and tractor trailers and cars when it snows.

Things I’m doing

  1. Peapod for groceries. The deliveryman came last night and brought it in and set it on the kitchen counter for me. Thank you!  I was trying to figure out how to ferry the groceries to the kitchen from the door.  I was figuring I’d move the items that required refrigeration and leave the rest where they were.
  2. Next time I order groceries, I’m going to head for precut vegetables. More expensive, but I’m not trying to juggle a knife, cutting board, and crutches.
  3. Drinking water is hard! I put a glass in the bathroom and one in the kitchen so I can easily access the water.

Breakfast is smoothies, lunch is a salad, and I’m still working out what I need to do for dinner.


That’s been a little challenging.  I’m not getting as much done—think it’s just because, until I get used to the crutches, they’re very tiring.  More important that the writing is to take care of me.


Civilians try out the MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)

MRE, or Meals Ready to Eat is a common meal given to the soldiers in the field or at war.  In the field, it was a lunch meal.  During Desert Storm, there was a point where we at three MREs a day, mainly because the mess hall was so far away and the food was horrible.

Even during Desert Storm, the MREs pretty much looked the same.  The heater was very new technology then; we started seeing them in January 1990, though they weren’t included with the meals.  Desert Storm was a wake up call though.  It was apparent the military hadn’t thought that people would be eating more than a few of these, and most didn’t taste that good.  Though some of the people in the video complained, trust me–it used to be a lot worse.  We called them Meals Rejected by Everyone.


Unusual Sighting at the Farmer’s Market

I walked down to the Farmer’s Market this morning, which I do every week.  It’s a small farmer’s market with about six or seven vendors.  During the spring and summer, there are a lot of people, and many of them bring their dogs.

So I did a double-take for a woman walking a black animal that, on a quick glance, was a medium-sized dog.

It was a pig!

He was on a leash, with a typical dog halter.  Thirty-eight pounds.  His nose was constantly working, sniffing the air.  Food!  Food!  Mine!  Mine!

As I made my rounds through the vendors, even the vendors were wanting to check out the pig.  People were departing vendors saying, “Okay, I have to see this pig.”

He was enjoying being the star of the show!


The case of the watermelon

Nothing says summer like seeing the first of those wedges of watermelon come out at the grocery store.  That beautiful red fruit, dripping with juice.  Yum!

I always like to buy one of those quarter wedges.  It’s a huge piece of fruit, and a quarter wedge is about the right size so I can eat it before it goes bad.

This year, the grocery store I normally shop at is not offering wedges.  They have the cut up water melon in the containers, which goes for something $5-$8 each, and some packaged pieces cut off, which is about a cup of watermelon.  Also expensive.

So I went to store two, and they were just like store one.

Store three had the wedges.

Grocery stores, this just starts to feel like you’re ripping off the customer under the guise of “convenience.”

The Accidental Dining Room Table

This last week, I bought a new dining room table.   The old table was left over from when I was in the Army.  I’d just moved in, had no furniture at all (because I’d lived in the barracks prior), and a fellow soldier sold it to me to for $200.

The table was serviceable, but honestly, generic furniture for parents and kids.

Last week, I saw something in Real Simple about a pedestal table, and I thought I’d look around.  Because, really, the table I had took up a lot of space, and besides, I hadn’t ever picked it because I’d liked it.  I’d gotten it because it was there.

So I wandered into one furniture store.  Meh.  Didn’t see anything I liked. But I was only just looking. Get an idea of what I liked.

Saw the furniture store that had replaced my Borders.  Hadn’t been inside the building since Border’s closed.  Sure I could look inside and see how different it was (I couldn’t tell it had been a bookstore).

Wandered around. They were having a half-off sale, and the table was on sale.  And it was what I wanted, so I bought it.  Didn’t buy the chairs, even though they were half-off too, because I didn’t like them.  I’ll get those separately, though I have one I can use with it now.


I want to replace all the Army legacy furniture (bed frame, sofa, drawers).  But the table was a particular focus because it’s the only piece of furniture I never actually picked out.  I also I wanted the dining room space for my writing office (the table is small enough to be in the living room, and by the window).

And I wanted to respect the meals more than I have.  Getting a table I want to eat on is a start.

Rogue God is out on Amazon.


Easy is not always easy

This month, I’ve been taking an online cooking class on how to cook without recipes.  I’ve always hated trying to cook using recipes.

It always seems like the cook-author thinks that I must enjoy cooking like they do.  Not!  And that my kitchen looks like theirs.  Not!

Oh, and that I have a big family and oodles of time to make a huge meal for six.  Seriously not!

Actually, in my travels looking up cooking without recipes, I was surprised to see that a lot of what goes into cookbooks isn’t tested at all.  That goes back to the publishers cutting what they pay the writers.  The writers have to get a book out and aren’t getting paid enough to test it, so recipes go in that may not work according to the way they’re written. 

The result is that I’ve been puzzled when I see recipes claiming, “Easy!” and, well, they aren’t.   Easy is not buying a non-standard pan for a recipe, and one that I will never use again.  Easy is not fifteen ingredients, two of which I have to go to a different store to find.  Easy is not twenty lines of instructions made to look like five.

This was my first meal, which is kale, red bell pepper, carrots, chicken, garlic, and salt and pepper.  (I picked the ingredients for their color, so I was looking for pretty.)

A plate of kale, bell pepper, carrots, and chicken, still steaming.

Unlike most of my past meals, it tasted pretty good.

Tomorrow I get to roast an entire chicken.  I’ve never done that before.  So we shall see.

Eating out in the Field

The military is really big about training. But then, the entire mission of the military is war, and the only thing soldiers can do is train until and if a war happens. The purpose is to know everything by rote so when the big scary stuff happens, the soldier doesn’t have to think about what to do because she already knows.

We’d go to training on Fort Lewis once a week. Training wasn’t like what’s in the corporate world, where you go sit in a classroom while the instructor races through PowerPoint slides. We went out to the field, which was the woods. We would have liked the classroom, since Fort Lewis could be cold and rainy, but we rarely did anything indoors. Fort Lewis has a huge expanse of woods—beautiful fir trees that look like telephone poles and smell like pine. Lush green everywhere.

Any time we requested one of the training areas, we got our training schedule back with a list of who we needed to coordinate with. There was a lot of competition for some training areas, and sometimes there was just a company nearby. We’d have to take paperwork around to all these different companies so they could sign off on it. If they didn’t, we’d have to find another place. I ended going to 1st Special Forces and 75th Rangers to get signatures. No women, so I stood out!

The main reason for the coordinations was because some of the companies used artillery to train, and we did not want to be on the business end of that.

Anyway, we’d scheduled training at the Military Operations On Urban Terrain place, or MOUT, as it was known. You can see some pictures of a MOUT site here. It had basic buildings, so we could practice war in a city environment. This particular training site was always popular, and we were sharing it with another company. We were at one end, and they were at the other.

At lunch, the cooks brought food in the back of a CUCV. It’s food straight from the mess hall. They cook it and fill metal insulated containers to keep it hot, then serve it to us. So we get hot food on paper plates and plasticware. We’re tired from the morning’s training and still have the afternoon to go, so we go off and find spots to eat.

And then suddenly our eyes and throats are burning. No! It’s not the food!

The other company used CS gas (otherwise known as tear gas). The wind was blowing it all in our direction.

One soldier sat there and continued to eat—no one was going to interrupt him!—while the rest of us tried to find a better place. Did kind of ruin the meal for us anyway.