Émile Nelligan, poet, tortured soul, was born Christmas’s eve 1879 and died his second death in 1941. His second death was physical. His first death, the real one, lasted forty two years. A comet in Québec’s literary sky, Émile burned bright but a few seconds....Read More
No other spirit in history has the mystique of Absinthe. It was the muse of Beaudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud, of Van Gogh, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec. THE ORIGINS OF ABSINTHE In ancient Egypt, mentions of absinthe were found in papyrus. The Greeks, Pythagore and Hippocrate,...Read More
Writers and bars. There’s something in the combination that works. The drinks, the crowd, the music, the people-watching. Today I’m following James Joyce, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway. DUBLIN – THE BRAZEN HEAD In St-Patrick’s day honor, I...Read More
January is a month of renewal: one year is over, another is starting. January is perfect to take a pause, to stop the crazy dance and reflect on what has been and what will be. January is also my birthday month and the older I get, the more I want to make the new year count.
ROUGH START IN 2012
Last year when January rolled around, I was at my lowest physically and mentally. For several reasons: my health was not good, I still couldn’t lose weight despite huge efforts, I had brain fog, couldn’t concentrate for more than 30 minutes in a row and I was in a constant state of intestinal discomfort. In January 2012, I declared war against my body.
I made it my priority.
I found a young doctor, Dr. Brian Davis, a chiropractor specialized in nutrition and hormones. He listened to my complaints. He didn’t suggest I get on anti-depressants, like my regular doctor. He ran an exhaustive panel of tests and he explained every line to my husband and I. He worked with me and I felt supported in my efforts. We tackled my problems one by one and he guided me along this new health path.
I changed my nutrition completely, turned it upside down. No more grains, legumes, dairy, soy, coffee, lettuces and a few select vegetables. It was not easy. Every sacrifice was worth the effort.
BETTER START IN 2013
I’m starting 2013 in a much better place.
I’m taking a few days to determine what my goals should be. Goal-making is an important task, vital to my inner well-being. If I don’t take the time it deserves, I could set myself up for failure.
I have determined two goals already. One, I will work on the next phase of my health, and two, I will create a new blog to discuss living with food allergies, and other health issues, geared for writers.
In the coming week, I will work on my writing goals. What I can accomplish and what I’ll commit myself to. I can’t wait. This is an exciting task, full of hope.
What are your goals in 2013? What will you do to keep yourself accountable?Read More
Fall is here, proof is in the cooler weather and the trillions of leaves we pick every week. The election is over – yay, couldn’t abide all those TV ads – and the stores offer everything one might need to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.
Tennis league is done for the year, it will start back in the spring. It’s time to nurse the little injuries, give a break to creaking knees and painful shoulder. Christmas is already advertised on TV and in stores.
Daylight Saving Time is over. Night falls earlier and earlier each day.
Yes, Fall is here.
Fall has always been my favorite season, but now that I live in SC, I love it even better. Because it’s longer. Winter here is like a long Fall in Montreal. In Montreal, Fall came as quick as it left, and if you lost attention for a minute, snow was on the ground and Fall was over.
Writing comes easier during Fall. A hot cup of Earl Grey and cool temps go well with a laptop at Starbucks. Reading wrapped in hand-knitted throw is bliss.
Since I have finaled in three contests so far this year – with one win – I feel the pressure to finish my edits by end of December. I’d love to be done. I’d love to start 2013 with a new project.
I’m currently editing scene 27. I have at least 20 more to go, some are brand new, others are rewrites. Since I’m a slow writer, 20 scenes is still a big chunk to go through. I broke it down in little pieces and I realized to finish by December, I’ll have to edit and rewrite while traveling. I don’t do writing well while on the road. It will be a challenge to bunk down, carve the necessary hours out of family or driving time, but it’s what I need.
I welcome the challenge.
What are your goals till the end of 2012?Read More
Do you struggle with diet and writing? Do you fight sugar and caffeine cravings?
I used to. Or worse, when my writing lagged and the words would’t flow, I found myself foraging in the pantry, though I didn’t hoard words in there.
I shared a little bit of my health journey in previous blogs. On February first, I started the Elimination Diet. It kicked off with a 5-day fast, to which I’d resisted at first, but my doctor insisted.
A fast. Ugh.
Eliminating the Undesirables
One doesn’t get to the Elimination Diet because one feels like it. For me, it was the last solution, the last frontier, the last hope. I’d consulted several doctors, suffered the charming procedure of a colonoscopy, and in general felt energy depleted and just blah, even with my healthy lifestyle. Did I mention despite my efforts, I could not lose weight?
That was really frustrating. I did everything right but my body resisted. With my BodyBugg, I could measure how many calories I burned, how many I ate. I wrote everything down. My calorie deficit consistently was over 500 per day. Doctors scratched their head and all they could say usually began with “at your age…”
Screw my age. I knew something wasn’t right.Read More
I’m always searching for recipes and food ideology that fit the allergies I suffer. Not easy. I need to tweak, change, and replace ingredients in most recipes to fit my needs. And I still have digestive issues to which the solution is far from obvious.
Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC
I happened on the paleo diet twice this year; when I first started the Elimination Diet to determine which foods I reacted to, and last month while shopping for books at Costco. Back in February, Dr. Brian mentioned the Elimination Diet was very close to the paleolithic diet, or the caveman diet. Our paleolithic ancestors grouped together and survived by gathering plants and hunting game. Their diet was simple: meat, fruits and vegetables.
It’s why the Elimination Diet works so well to determine which foods cause havoc in one’s system. Meat, fruits and vegetables is the simplest of diet to start detoxing the body.
To be clear, the modern paleo embracers do not live in communes, living off their gardens and hunting trophies. They do not eat raw meat off the bone and they do not drag women around by their hair.
Last February, after I determined that gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, legumes and corn were the culprits in my diet, I tried to avoid those foods in my daily life. I still wanted carbs though, still wanted to bake, so I tried many gluten-free flours. Most gluten free mixes are made from grains (rice, oat, millet…) and I reacted to those. My diet became dull and redundant. I did experiment with coconut flour and was able to bake some muffins, but I wasn’t satisfied. I’m a good recipe follower but I’m not a chef and I’m not a food scientist. Coconut flour requires experience to manipulate it into fluffy baked goodies.
I caught the book cover of Practical Paleo at Costco last month, those words especially: Over 120 easy recipes, all gluten, grain, legume, dairy and refined sugar free. Jackpot! I shelled out the twenty something dollar for the book. It’s worth the 3.5 pounds it will take in my suitcase when I leave for Montreal.
The Diet That Fits Me
In the last two weeks, I’ve researched the paleo diet. It’s more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. And when you find food intolerances like mine, a new lifestyle is not a choice, it’s mandatory. I shouldn’t say that, because it is a choice. I’ve seen many people around me, with serious heath concerns like diabetes or heart clogging cholesterol, and they will simply not change their diet. I heard them say that it’s genetic,they can’t control it, modern medicine has all the right meds to keep them going. You know what I hear? Excuses.
“Most people with a family history of high cholesterol have a family history of poor diet and lifestyle, not an actual genetic disorder,” says Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo. This is the most frank and direct author I’ve read in a long time.
The paleo lifestyle has opened a new world for me. I found podcasts, magazines, blogs giving advice and sharing the science behind the diet. It’s fascinating and most of all, it fits my needs.
In Practical Paleo, the author offers changes in recipe for those who can’t follow the paleo diet fully, like me. When replacements are possible, it’s noted. In the Balsamic Braised Short Ribs recipe, tomato sauce (nightshade vegetable) can be replaced by beef broth.
This book and the paleo lifestyle will board the plane with me come next Sunday.Read More
I’ll be going back home to Canada over the Holidays and I’m already planning my food travel options, for both the travel day and my stay over.
Anyone with a special diet knows there is NOTHING good in airports and on the traditional road trip to fill up an empty stomach. Fast foods are full of gluten and soy and the only thing I can devour in a snack store at the airport is a book.
Food is okay to bring through security, but not liquids. That’s okay, water bottles are available everywhere. It’s pricier than gas but it’s allergy free.
I planned to pack enough snacks to keep me through the traveling day.
What To Bring?
No granola bars or nuts for me. I wish it was that easy. Most of my snacks need to be refrigerated, so ice packs will be on board. Hard boiled eggs, cut veggies, coconut flour muffins, beef jerky, apples.
With the right containers and a few layers of paper napkins – those ice packs sweat – I won’t need to stare at menus with my stomach in my heels.
Once in Montreal, I will scout health food stores and shop for my needs. I will be staying with family so I will have access to a kitchen all the time. And my family don’t mind if I cook for them.
Sugar Addiction Follow up
I’m still struggling to cut sugar from my daily diet. That’s one sticky addiction. I’m making progress but I can’t wait for the day when I don’t crave it. My love of baking doesn’t help. I make a gluten free Angel Food Cake and it was FABULOUS. Even my husband ate it and he said he wouldn’t have guessed it was gluten-free if he didn’t know. Don’t hesitate to email me if you want the recipe.
New Cook Book
I just bought Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo and I’m thrilled. The paleolithic diet, or lifestyle, is gluten, grain, legume, dairy and refined sugar free. It’s the closest to where I am in my food intolerance journey. She includes recipes with coconut flour and that really helps me.
More on the Practical Paleo recipes later. I will make them, try them, rate them, photograph them and share with you all. See you next week!Read More
I don’t think he ever went out of fashion.
Sherlock Holmes is surely the most renowned detective, above Hercule Poirot, above Miss Jane Marples, no offense to Agatha Christie. Though Christie is the author with the most sales in the world – reportedly more than four billions books – Holmes is the ultimate sleuth representation.
One day I found myself amid a group of university students and the conversation veered on mystery writers. Out of curiosity, I asked who was the best detective of all and in a common voice they all agreed on Sherlock Holmes.
But here’s the funny part: more than 50% of them thought he had really existed and none knew the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! But his character was well known by these youngsters, down to his cocaine habit, his pipe and his faithful ally, Watson. One even knew Holmes lived on Baker street. How’s that for character recognition?
Conan Doyle’s stories were published in the British magazine “The Strand.” It was a periodical that became very popular, with people lining up anxiously to grab the next installment of Holmes’ adventures.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a doctor. He studied the eye in Vienna in 1890 and set up an office in London as an ophthalmologist, which was apparently not a success. In November 1891 he mentioned to his mother in a letter that he was thinking of killing off Holmes, who proved to distract him from his work. He tried to do it 1893, in the short story “The Final Problem”. But fan pressure forced him to bring Holmes back.
I bought a book containing all of Conan Doyle’s novels and short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. The format is interesting, it’s a facsimile of the Strand magazine, in two columns, with the illustrations drawn by Sidney Paget. Most of the stories are narrated by his cohort Dr. Watson, in the time period style.
Here’s a description of the sleuth, from “A scandal in Bohemia”: “His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he stood before the fire, and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion. “Wedlock suits you,” he remarked.”
Though the stories are more than a hundred years old, they appeal to me. The writing style, the elegance of the characters, the politeness of the dialogues, it all feed my love of historical fiction. If you have never read a Sherlock Holmes story, I highly recommend it.
The enigmas created by Conan Doyle have lost a bit of their mystery, CSI savvy that we’ve all become. But even if the culprit can be guessed before the end of the story, the charm resides in the way Holmes gets there, with observation, deduction and a magnifying glass.
CBS TV show, Elementary, brings us a modern – kind of – Sherlock Holmes in contemporary New York. I like the links the script writers did to the original stories. One, Sherlock is a recovering addict, two, his sidekick, though female, is a doctor. Jonny Lee Miller has the physique of the Sherlock of my imagination, tall, lanky, with nervous tics.
Holmes has been the model from which other famous detectives were spawned. Columbo comes to my mind… even Grissom on CSI, who uses his intellect more than, let’s say, Dirty Harry? Any other you can think of?Read More