Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Halloween Resolutions

I never make New Year's resolutions.  It seems stupid to me to put off self improvement until an upcoming holiday.  If you need to change something, just do it.  Halloween however is a good enough holiday that it has inspired me to make two new resolutions.  The first is to start decorating my house for the holidays, and the second is to buy fewer shoes.

I really hate decorating my house for the holidays.  I feel like Joel Fleischman from Northern Exposure when he tried to put up a Christmas tree and ultimately decided he was too Jewish to really get why one would put a tree inside of a house. Last year I put up a two foot Christmas tree and that was a stretch.  I think it will require personal growth from me to decorate for the holidays, and growth is usually good.  So I am doing it.

The resolution about buying fewer shoes comes from the fact that as I went to purchase Halloween decorations, I almost decided to go shoe shopping instead.  I do NOT need more shoes.  I don't even really want more shoes.  Clearly shoe shopping has become a comfortable bad habit.  No more shoes for a while.

I went to Marshall's to get Halloween decorations because when I was dress shopping a few weeks ago, they had apothecary jars with skull-handled lids.  The labels on them said creepy things about Witch Hazel and Cures for Creeps and stuff like that. I thought to myself  "If I decorated for Halloween, I would get those."  I hoped that they were still there and when I couldn't find them, I went searching for other scary things.  I almost decided to get some Ed Hardy sheets with a skull and hearts that said "Love Kills Slowly".  They had a matching duvet cover and pillowcases and they were the most scary thing I have seen in a while.  After a few moments of fascination with the concept of terrifying sheets, I decided that the point of Halloween is to scare others and not myself.  

I found some wooden toadstools and a kind of woodland looking fall potpourri mix that seemed like it might be cute scattered around the wooden toadstools.  I also thought I might be able to put the toadstools among pine boughs for Christmas and cover two holidays with one decoration.  I wasn't sure that they were really Halloweeny, but they were at least a step in the right direction.  So I got them. Then, after purchasing them, I found the apothecary jars I had been looking for near the exit and so I ended up getting those too.  
My house is now set for the upcoming holiday!  And I didn't even look at any shoes!  I feel like a new and improved person already.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feminism at its finest

I remember as a teenager thinking that Utah was a misogynistic place because people objected to me taking woodshop instead of home ec. Growing up in Utah, it was hard to separate culture from religion. I am still somewhat annoyed by the attitude that girls should not develop some skills because of gender. However, many things said and done by LDS church leaders have shown that those men are among the finest feminists on earth and clearly promoting the good treatment, development and well-being of women.

The first action that really hit me as incredibly feminist was several years ago when the Church started digging wells in villages in developing nations. Their reasoning for doing so was not to provide safe water, but that in many developing countries, most of a woman's day is spent hauling water. They said that there are better things for women to do with their time and that women needed to develop themselves more than was possible when hauling water all day.

The second was when Pres. Hinckley repeatedly, advised, commanded, persuaded, nearly begged all women to get as much education as possible. I loved it. There were so many people telling me that I should stop going to school and get married. He put a stop to that. Hah!

The third, was when Pre. Hinckley told men that good husbands let their wives spread their wings and take flight.

Many things continue to impress me that Church leaders are feminists. Last Saturday, Pres. Eyring gave credit to generations of Mormon women in the Relief Society for creating some of the finest organizations spun out of the Church. The list included Church Hospitals (LDS Hospital is routinely brought up at international conferences for its excellence), the Church Welfare System (also famous, especially in developing nations), and the Humanitarian Aid System (famous everywhere and the right hand of FEMA in the US).

Even the sticky point that Mormon leaders emphasize the importance of motherhood (which frequently causes Mormons to be accused of misogyny), strikes me as a fine example of feminism. I remember learning in art history and ancient world history that the position of women in society usually degraded as war gods became more important than fertility goddesses. Well, that is certainly happening today as fewer children are being borne and so many nations are at war. I feel personally degraded and angry when people tell me that bearing children is wrong....that it overpopulates the earth and is irresponsible. I feel edified when that uniquely feminine ability is reverenced and praised.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I went in for a physical today (ugh!). They found I had a slight fever and asked if I was feeling okay. Aside from being a little tired, I feel just fine and I figure that the tiredness is even a healthy indication that I didn't sleep much this weekend. I checked out okay with the physical, blood pressure is low cholesterol and lipids are low, good cholesterol is high and that's good I guess, I lost 5 pounds, the doctor thought I was in fine shape.

Honestly though, I feel better than fine. Since giving up wheat, I feel the healthiest I have felt....maybe least in a lot of years. Beyond that, I think I am better from brain injuries (other than that my hearing is still improving ever so slightly). Maybe that is why I feel so healthy. Whatever the reason, I feel great.

Oh, and the brilliant mathematician I collaborate with did some simulations based on my experimental data. The result of those simulations is that we get to credibly argue that one of the most popular population genetics theories is incomplete and wrong. Hah! What a good way to start the week. (Being an iconoclast is one of the most fun things about my job. Hah!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My brain is sexier than yours

Sometimes I hate girls.  Especially the ones with large breasts and narrow hips who wedge themselves in between me and the man I am talking to.  They are skinny enough to slither in and then their breasts are at eye level with the guy and it doesn't matter what stupid thing they say.  They have his attention and I don't anymore.  Well that used to be what I thought anyway, but I recently had a change of attitude.  

Hilary told me my brain was one of the sexiest things about me and that I should use it accordingly.  It took a while, but I decided she might have something there.  I read the New Yorker most of the way through each week.  I read the Wall Street Journal every day.  I can talk movies, politics, travel, current events based on those two things.  I am a scientist so I can talk statistics of speed dating, the psychology of flirting, nerve control of head turning while kissing, and oh yes, antibiotic resistance of course too and a few other technical topics like string theory, computers, software, Bayesian inference, optics, wireless networking and so forth. My dad is an engineer who launches rockets and tells me all about it so I can talk outer space, satellites, defense. My mom teaches me about history and theories of government as well as religion.  From my sisters, I learn about online teaching, lactation, fashion, graphic design, art, and David Byrne.  My brothers teach me about the Navy, nursing, Dubai, South American ecotourism, music and sports.  I take pottery, I read books, I work out, I hike, I remodel my house and change the brakes and shocks on my car.  My backyard was turned into a productive garden by me.  I have roofed houses, poured cement, driven across the country, traveled more extensively outside the US than many Americans and I have many international friends who love telling me about their countries because I listen to them. I have invested a lot into my intellect and I think I can pretty much talk to anyone about anything.  

So now, instead of letting a pair of large breasts run me off entirely, I wait for the initial ogling to subside some, resume intelligent conversation and ultimately, the girls with the large breasts disappear.

All I really want

It's funny, I think that Laura and I are on the same wavelength tonight.  Not about Joni exactly, but that song of hers touches on my thoughts of the evening.  I am trying to figure out what I want.   It's funny that it should be so hard to decide what I want.  It seems like it's easy for most people.  Somehow it isn't for me.  I think it is probably a result of brain injury, but it has never occurred to me that what I want is relevant.  I have tried making good and responsible decisions my whole life.  It seemed like I never really had more than one option, so I just did the best with what I had. 
 For example, I am good at evolutionary biology and I enjoy it most of the time, so this seemed like a good educational path.  Did I ever want to be an evolutionary biologist?  I don't know.  It just sort of happened.  I think it was the right thing for me to do and in that way I'm lucky.  I can remember being a little surprised though when I started applying for positions as an academic scientist.  Most grad students want that job badly.  It was never my goal to become an academic scientist though.  I just did the best science I could and I became competitive as an academic scientist.  

I feel like in the last year I have been defining things about myself.  What colors of nail polish I want to wear.  What kinds of clothes I want to wear.  The sort of people I would like to have as friends.  What I want to read. What I want to say.  How I want my house to look.  I think I should have developed this part of myself a long time ago, but somehow I didn't, and this is still a hard thing for me.  I struggle to decide what music I want to listen to.  It is hard for me to decide how I want to spend my time.  It's sort of like how I knitted for three years before realizing I hate knitting.  It's so strange that it should take so long to decide that I don't want to knit.

I think I am more capable of making decisions now than I have been before.  It's good because I have a lot to make.  I want to fall in love, but I don't even know what I want, or should want from a relationship.  The only thing I usually think of is someone to load the dishwasher while I pack suitcases.  That isn't enough.  I could hire the neighbor kids to do that for me for about $5.00.  I need a relationship worth more than that, but I have no idea what I want it to be like.

I want to move out of Merced and there are a few different ways of doing that.  Going into industry (bad idea in this economy), becoming an instructor (I don't want that), applying for a job outside the US (probably Europe), sticking it out in Merced until I get a grant (that may not ever happen).  Do I want to move to Europe?  I don't know.

I think that I can have whatever I decide I want, but I am not quite sure how to do that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

dressing up

On Monday, I found out I needed a dress for Saturday. I hate dress shopping. I have awful t-shirt tan lines, my legs are winter white from wearing jeans all summer and I don't want to wear a dress. So I went dress shopping with a chip on my shoulder. I went to Ross and Marshall's because they are all we have around here and I didn't want to drive an hour to get a dumb dress. There is never anything wearable at either Ross or Marshall's and this was no exception. So I sucked it up, drove the hour and went to Macy's. I eased into the awful evening by trying on a skirt. Skirts are better than dresses. The one I tried on was loose and flowy with ruffly tendrils hanging off of it. On me, it looked like something black that had crawled out of a swamp so I went on to the next one. It was a brown, knee length knit dress with a hoody. I had picked it out for comic relief, and indeed it worked. Standing there in my flip flops, white legs exposed, hood up, I looked like a Ewok. I swear I almost stopped with that one. It would be hilarious to show up to a formal event looking like an Ewok.

Responsibility took over at some point and I went for the next one. It was cute and fit well, but I couldn't get the zipper (located under my arm) to go up all the way. Something about twisting enough to reach it made it impossible to do up. Besides which, I look terrible in black. My reddish skin stands out a lot and I look flustered and morbid all at one. The next several dresses were all black and all had the same effect. Terrible.

So then I went skulking around through the store glaring at dresses as I collected an ever growing array hanging over my arm. Finally a clerk asked me if I was okay and I said "Yes...I mean no. I have to buy a dress and I hate this." She grabbed a few items, ushered me off into a dressing room and then acted like my big sister bringing me piles of clothes and handing them to me in the dressing room. She commented on the colors, the slimming effects, my need for nylons, instant sunless tanner and sexy shoes.

We finally agreed on a purple printed dress with well cut sleeves and a princess waistline. It was the best we were going to do. I brought it home, tried it on with nylons and sexy shoes and found myself asking a very important question which was "Why do dresses always look so much better in a dressing room at a store?" It must be something with the lights. At home, the dress kind of looked like a sack. Which brought me to the second important question which was " Why are all dresses made out of knit fabrics?" It's a terrible idea to do that. They end up looking like sacks.

Despairing, I looked in my closet and found an unexpected coupling of a ruffly skirt and floral top that got hung up next to each other after doing the laundry. I put them on. They looked a million times better than the stupid dress I had on. So I will be returning the dress next time I have two hours to blow driving to and from Modesto.

Note to self: Never buy a dress again...Ever...for any reason.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I am not a pragmatist. I would love to be one, it's just that things keep getting in the way of that lofty ambition. The latest blockade to pragmatism is my agreeing to be the faculty advisor for The Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) at UC Merced. It is not good for me to be the advisor of this organization. It draws attention to the fact that I am a Mormon evolutionary biologist and this combination does not go over well with most people. Most Mormons don't believe in evolution (even though they don't know anything about it) and most evolutionary biologists think that a deluded idiot would choose to be a Mormon (even though they don't know anything about it). Born Again Christians and most of the Religious Right hate me for both reasons. At one of their protests against Mormons, held in front of a gathering of Mormons, I found signs saying I would go to hell for both of those reasons and then a third sign saying I would also go to hell for being an independent woman. Maybe there will be a special suite there reserved for me since I am so bad. Anyway, I have dreaded being the LDSSA advisor since the school opened and I have not encouraged the formation of that organization.

This situation changed slightly in the wake of proposition 8. None of the Mormons at UC Merced were enthusiastic about joining in the proposition 8 campaign. We all have gay friends who are really sweet people we care about. I dragged my feet and happily found excuses to not be involved. The campaign was kind of on the edge of my awareness. However, as friends in larger cities told me about Mormons they had seen being assaulted by Prop 8 protesters and then never finding anything in the news about it, I became more concerned. In the news papers, I found articles that were disparaging to Mormons and mostly false. Finally, when a television ad showed missionaries as menacing people who forcefully invade homes, I decided to get involved. It was just such a low blow. Missionaries in coastal California are treated poorly. They get people in cars dumping drinks out on them as they pedal by on their bikes. They get their bikes stolen. They get called all sorts of horrible things and they just don't get too ruffled over it. Producing an ad that might cause greater harm to come to the missionaries, who had been specifically forbidden from participating in politics was just over the top. The people protesting prop 8 argued that marriage for homosexuals had nothing to do with religion and would not affect the freedom of religion, but there they were specifically attacking my religion in a very low way. So I got involved. Many others got involved at that time too.

After the campaign was over, newspapers reported that Mormons were gloating over the victory, but I didn't know anyone who was. Even right after the vote came in, there was a grim silence among all the Mormons in Merced. There is no direct joy to be had from denying others what they want even if it is done as a defensive act.

Then the real backlash against Mormons began and the little handful of Mormons at UC Merced quietly went into hiding more or less as our friends turned on us, calling us bigots and Fascists. Remarkably, the friend who was slowest to turn on me was my gay friend, who I think understands the discrimination Mormons face better than most people. He only turned when there was a broad call by the gay community to single out and bring harm upon the Mormons who had contributed money to prop. 8. He never did anything to me. We just stopped spending time together. I couldn't blame him. When the time came for me to chose a side, I did. He was just doing the same.

Finally, after the backlash died down most of the way, the students wanted to form an LDSSA chapter here, and they needed an advisor, so I agreed. I think that all of us wanted to have a little nucleus of Mormons here, just so we wouldn't feel quite so isolated, and so that we would know who the other Mormons on campus are. There aren't many of us and most of us keep a low profile. After all, even the Mormon students who didn't support prop. 8 were singled out and treated poorly.

So I find myself in a sticky situation now. I am the advisor of a club that is entirely based upon a religious affiliation that I don't go around advertising. But I have a sign on my office door for the society for black engineering students, because there is a demographic here of very bright and hard-working but very intimidated students here. They all happen to be black and while I don't know the reasons for that correlation, the sample size is too large for it to be random. If a club for those students will help them become more comfortable here, then I will support it. I find myself in the moral dilemma that what I do for a club that I am in no way associated with, I must do for the club I advise, so a big LDSSA sign will be going on my door. Soon, my colleagues who haven't realized that I am Mormon will. I will also sit at the club table during new student orientations, so all of the incoming freshmen will know that I am Mormon.

The surprising thing to me about all of this is that I am immensely enjoying advising the LDSSA. Mike Meiners comes down from Modesto to teach us lessons about the parables of Jesus. He is way cool. He has studied the Bible in a fairly serious way and so we get to have some intellectual discussions. They aren't the sort where we are musing over the origins and evolution of life, or how modern events tie into the Book of Revelations, or even much about the history and politics of biblical times. They are more discussions of imagery, symbolism, cross references and allusions, the composition of the text, the choice of wording. It's fun. I also think that everyone in the club is enjoying getting to know more Mormons. There are quite a few Mormons who have stopped by for just one meeting, but then we all become aware of each other and we stop and chat when our paths cross.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Playing in mud

I started a pottery class last night. My friend, Chanelle recently started going to college again. Perhaps she enjoys my company A LOT, or perhaps she thinks it is a good idea to have a professor as her friend in any class (even if it is unrelated to what I know well), or perhaps she thought it was time to put the potters wheels in my garage to good use. I don't know what her reasons are, but she went to a lot of work to get me into the class. She found the class and delivered the information to me and got the materials list and went with me to get supplies and then called and reminded me about class and we went together. (Quite a friend huh?)

The first thing that the teacher announced is that they have been so frugal in years past that they had a huge excess of funds and so we didn't have to pay tuition for the class. No, I'm not kidding. It was weird but I'm okay with free pottery classes. I still had to fill out a registration card and get officially enrolled and then when I had done that, the teacher gave an excellent demonstration about centering clay and turning out a bowl.

My goal for the night was just to get the clay centered perfectly. I didn't care if I had a piece by the end of the night, and I remembered how critical centering was for glass blowing. I think that all the glassblowing classes Laura and I took payed off because I centered the clay once and came very close a second time. I may be able to get faster at it, but I think I can do it now. Then I moved on to throwing things and worked on bringing the clay up and keeping an even edge of top. I would pull it up and up until it got too fragile and collapsed, or until my long fingernails (which I was informed have to go) got stuck in the clay and tore it. I didn't care when the pieces fell apart, I was playing in the mud and learning at the same time. How much better can it get? I threw pieces and collapsed them and then I would wedge the clay to get the air bubbles and some of the moisture out and then I'd rework the clay over and over again until it got too soft and then I'd get a new piece and start in on that. Everyone thought I was nuts to keep collapsing my pieces, which the other beginners thought were really great. Honestly though, I wouldn't have paid 50 cents at a thrift store for anything I had made so why would I fire it? My goal for the class (besides having fun and hanging out with Chanelle) is to be able to make dishes that I can eat from and that seem cool to others as well. I have a long way to go, but perhaps I'll get there. When I do, you may all get handmade dishes from me for Christmas, kind of like when I got into knitting and made lots of hats. Hopefully the dishes turn out better than most of the hats did.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Autumn is good. I am stylishly wearing gray and brown nail polish and I started pulling out long sleeved shirts to assess my fall wardrobe. I found that most of my clothes are too big and that's kind of nice, but kind of not since it means I have to go clothes shopping.

It has also started raining. I am hoping that it might help some of the farmers successfully finish growing their crops. We just went down to the Church vineyard in Madera and harvested grapes that will become raisins. That farm is almost entirely cared for by novice volunteers who know nothing about grapes, but it always yields a lot of raisins. There are many more than the hungry need, so the rest get sold to Sun-Maid and the money gets used for other charitable causes. We could tell it was especially dire this year because we had to watch a training video about how to maximize the grape harvest. I think they should have made one ages ago. It would have stopped a lot of bickering between the people who think they know what they are doing. I guess it was never worth it though.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I have been contemplating femininity a lot, but I haven't been quite sure what to say about it. Today it kind of came together as I walked up the hill to the science building. There was something being broadcast at many more decibels than was really comfortable to listen to, and when I got close enough to the speakers so that the echos and distortions of sound were at a minimum, I recognized that it was a rebroadcast of the September 11 attacks. I was in New York when those attacks happened. Not the city, but the state, six hours away in Rochester. It still felt very close and way too close for comfort. My mother, sisters and cousins called to check on me that day. Besides the towers falling, I got an inquiry about whether I had been in Central Park when a gang was terrorizing that area and raping women. Thankfully I hadn't been, but the concern for me was still appreciated.

Within a few days of the 9/11 attacks we heard that there was too much blood that had been donated. What the survivors really needed were pillows, blankets and bedding. It didn't have to be new or anything, just warm and clean and in reasonably good shape. I had purchased two new pillows the week before. I couldn't afford anything more but I donated my two pillows and went back to using the old flat ones that had served me so long. At the drop-off site, there was a mountain of bedding so tall that I didn't know how people had put things on top of it. There were many women bringing bedding and whatever other comforts they thought practical and adding them to the pile. There were a few dads there too, with their sons, but mostly women were there.

I remember the effects that those attacks had on women much more clearly than men. At the day of mourning service I went to, it seemed like I had arms wrapped around me by countless women and I can't even begin to remember how many I held while they cried on me. My friend Elaine had a cousin who was with her daughter in the plane that struck the pentagon. Lindsey knew people who worked in the towers, but who hadn't been in them when they collapsed. Bev collected stories from survivors. Julia from Ukraine told me how she sat there thinking that she hated America as the towers collapsed but that she told her friends back home to be quiet when they said that America deserved what it got. Collectively, women agonized over whether their families should assemble for Thanksgiving or Christmas when the apparent risk for having their families blasted apart in a lasting way seemed great. Almost universally, the families I knew decided to reassemble despite the recent attacks. While most mothers left the decision of whether to fly or not up to their children, most of the children decided to risk it so that they could see their mothers, give them support, and seek the comfort of being home and safe. While soldiers were being sent over seas to fight the groups who had terrorized America, or allowed it to happen, women gathered their families and fought the actual terror that had come over America in whatever ways they could.

I read a description of "being feminine" that included doing nails and make-up, reading Vogue, talking on the phone for hours, and cleaning a house to impeccable perfection. I have fond and feminine memories of doing all of those things, and my sisters and mom are in every one. I also do those things on my own, but those memories feel more like chores than me reveling in my femininity.

Recently I joined a canning club where we combine the produce from our gardens and turn it into salsa or jam and then pack it away for later. While we were working we started talking about why women don't run the world and what's holding women back. I suggested that the main reason is that women think raising children is more important than being a CEO. The mom who was there agreed with a smile while the other single woman there said something about THAT being our problem.

I meant that comment about motherhood more as an observation than as an opinion or judgement of what women do or don't do. The epidemiologist in me was just coming out. Since then however, I have formed an opinion which follows: It is entirely impossible for a woman to feel feminine without the presence or context of a family in her life.

However, women I know who have more than two children are literally terrorized for being irresponsible, taking on too much, sacrificing their careers, consuming too much, and overpopulating the planet. The shift in thinking that has promoted this sort of attack has certainly affected the planet much more that the destruction of the World Trade Center. However, there are women quietly fighting those attacks too... as they give birth to and lovingly raise their families.....then send their children out into society to work, contribute, influence, and enjoy........then gather them back to be together again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another Fan Joins the Club

If infants and toddlers were slightly more mobile, there would be hordes of them chasing Dad down the street. Olivia (5 weeks old) just joined the throngs of little ones who go gaga over him. Despite her floppy neck, Olivia was craning her head to get a better look at him and to smile at him. This comes only weeks after Hazel started crying when her mom lifted her from Dad's arms. He claims that their fondness for him simply results from him treating them as though they are as intelligent as adults. He always allows them to see what is going on, provides age appropriate mental stimulation, and explains things to them patiently. Similar efforts by others however, do not seem as successful. This leads one to wonder if there is actually more involved. Perhaps Dad is really a super-hero who simply engineers rocket boosters by day for a fun alter-ego. Please report any sightings of Dad wearing a cape, tights, or a superhero logo and send in pictures too.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Two unlikely occurrences

I didn't realize that there were 100 miles between gas stations in the Mojave Desert, so when my low fuel light came on, I wasn't too worried until after driving quite a while, a sign came up saying that Needles, the closest town, was 67 miles away. I called Brett to see if there was any little town closer to me that might have gas. I tried Essex. There are a few trailers and a lighted building surrounded by a razor wire fence, but no gas station. Even with the 8 mile detour, I still made it to Needles. The most surprising thing though was that Brett stayed on the phone giving me moral support the whole time. He hasn't even teased me much about it since.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who has the most allergies?

Okay family, this should be fun. It's a game of who has the most allergies. (All of the little ones can play too). I'll list mine and then everyone else who wants to play can do so in the comments section. (Laura will probably win. She is the luckiest after all.) I'll give some Claritin-D to the winner as a prize. Maybe we should also have a prize for the strangest allergy too, but Laura will probably win that as well. After that, we should have a survey to see which one of us is the nerdiest ( in everyone else's opinion) and then we can see if the two are correlated.

Peanuts (but this probably shouldn't count because I eat them anyway. I'm tough. I can handle constricted airways)
Sage brush
Mold & Mildew
Most hairsprays
Most perfumes
Anything from Bath and Body Works (besides soap and only because that gets washed off)
Vitamin E
Most mascaras
& Coal Dust

I'll get Mike too since he can't. Maybe Laura can help with this.

Poultry ( I think he should get double points for this since he goes into anaphylactic shock)
Coal Dust (It's a guess, but I think a safe one)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life without wheat

Eating food with no wheat is not so bad really. When I started living wheat free, I was pretty determined to not try to force other foods to be wheat. I started eating more potatoes and vegetables. I successfully made oatmeal raisin cookies with oat flour from blenderized dry oatmeal. "Not so bad really to live without wheat" I kept thinking.

After smelling warm cinnamon roles at Ikea, I cracked. I almost got the cinnamon roles, then had a vivid memory of how badly my stomach hurt last time I ate wheat and decided I was happier without. However, I decided I had to come up with some more food options.

I attempted to make baking powder biscuits out of rice flour. I figured that gluten is undesirable in biscuits so that might be a good place to start. I ground some Basmati rice and gave it a go. I noticed some problematic differences with rice flour quickly. It doesn't absorb liquids as well as wheat flour, so the dough was looser and wetter. I let the dough stand about 30 minutes and it did get thicker, but it still wasn't quite right. I decided to just move on with it and see what happened in the baking. The biscuits spread out and ended up looking like macaroons. The texture was about right once they were cooked though..crispy outside and crumbly inside. The worst problem was the flavor. I had guessed that the flavor would be off because I was using basmati rice, which has a wonderful aroma that is nothing like wheat. It was worse than I thought though. That wonderful aroma is way too funky for southern cooking. Also, I used shortening instead of butter because it is technically superior and textures usually come out better with shortening. The trade-off of course, is flavor. That trade-off is worse with rice though. The shortening kind of causes a bitter after taste that is just bad.

So the biscuit thing didn't quite solve the cinnamon role problem, so I went and got some sprouted wheat bagels to give the sprouted wheat thing a try. They were in the gluten free section (which is about 6 cubic inches) so I didn't check the ingredients as carefully as I should have, but they had regular flour in them. When I got home, I realized this so those were out. I then got potato starch and some tapioca flour and tapioca pearls.

I made tapioca that night and it was like the best tasting thing on earth. So light and yummy with all the egg whites and sugar folded in. I have eaten far too much tapioca in the past three days, but it is just so good after a month without wheat. I will probably eat more today. My next plan is that I am going to try to force tapioca flour and rice flour to be like wheat and I am going to attempt to make some reasonable muffins (no more Basmati though).

The weirdest thing about going wheat free is that I need to find a new deodorant. I always have to do this when I move and I figure it's because different microbes live in different climates. I didn't realize that going wheat free could have the same effect but I guess it makes sense.

If you have actually read to the end of this detailed and probably boring blog entry, you are patient. Thank you for your patience while I figure out how to live without wheat. Family, you are the best for coming up with gluten free pasta and rye crackers. Mom, the oat flour idea was absolute genius.