Why is this happening to me?

About the middle of June I wrote my first reflection on caregiving for my partner, Stephen. Here we are four months later, and Stephen is about the same, maybe a little worse. No need to go into the details of the illness, his basic problems are pain management and staying mobile on a walker. Also, it’s very likely that the situation is chronic. I think that Stephen and I have been doing a pretty good job of dealing with this situation effectively. Of course, Stephen does get discouraged and frustrated from time to time, but most of the time he still manages to summon up the courage and determination that he is made of. For my part, I have discovered surprising emotional stability and physical capability.

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Cooking like Lorene, only gluten and cow’s milk free

Sausage and kraut with Lorene's spinach on the side.
Sausage and kraut with Lorene’s spinach on the side.

This has been a rough year. Well, just for starters, mom died this January. Lorene was the one person that I knew I could always talk to, from the time I was very young, for about 70 years. One of the things I most valued about mom was that she was a really good cook, and we talked about cooking a lot. So was my dad, my grandmother, and her mother a good cook, but it was my mother’s cooking that made my day. Once I set up housekeeping on my own, never very many days went by without my cooking something “Like mom used to make,” a practice which continues to this day.

Cooking like mom becomes a special challenge when your partner has food sensitivities. Readers of this blog will remember that we are currently living in a gluten-free household. We are also avoiding OD’ing on certain other foods, cow’s milk being one of these. Now milk and flour were staples of my mom’s cooking, so to continue in this cooking tradition, I have to be really inventive and experimental. And once in a while, I do whip up a meal or two that I can brag is “just like mom used to make.” Tonight was such a night, and I am proud to report it one day after what would have been her 96th birthday.

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Gluten-free Tomato Soup

Gluten-free tomato soup
Gluten-free tomato soup

Permit me a bit of a rant to start this blog. After reading the Progresso and Campbell soup labels for ingredients for 10 minutes this morning, and finding wheat or soy in every one of them, I decided that I would make my own gluten-free tomato soup,  better and cheaper than Progresso. And I did! Unfortunately, it took more time that just opening a can and heating. It took about 15 minutes. But the result was worth it, and so I am sharing this easily-modifiable reciple with the world.

1 cup water
1 boullion cube
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch (or other gluten free thickening agent)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar (or other sweetening agent)
1/4 c. tomato ketchup
1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes
several fresh basil leaves, minced (or 1 tsp. basil)
heavy cream

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Bicycle, bicycle, I want to ride

In my old blog, I had a much used category, Riding the Bicycle. I decided when I started this new wordpress blog that I would invent new categories with new names. (Because, after all, I may have grown enough to not be polluting the world with the exact same ideas over and over again.) But today, I couldn’t help it, I just needed the category Riding the Bicycle, because to me—after 4 previous years of blogging—that category means the struggle to live a full life. A friend, John, told me that his metaphorical image for this struggle is juggling many balls in the air. It seemed perfect for him. But for me, keeping MY balance is the issue, rather than juggling objects external to me.

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