Getting Glutened

For those of you who aren’t Celiac, gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy, you are probably saying “what is glutened”?

It’s a term that means that we were, essentially, poisoned.  We accidently ingested something with gluten and have exited the building.  If you are anything like me, it leaves you curled up in a ball with pain like someone has taken your intestines and just yanked on them.  A lot.  Hard.  You can’t stand up straight and it’s PAINFUL.

I hadn’t been glutened, at least to this degree, for a long time but it happened on New Year’s Eve.  Yup, way to bring in the new year.  Glutened.  Anyway, before I went to the party where I was to spend the rest of the evening, I stopped to have a beer with two of my friends:  Don and Craig.

Now, I hang out with those two guys a lot.  We talk politics, sports and anything else.  So, when I walked in, Craig orders himself a Bud Light and me an Angry Orchard.  Gotta love friends who know what you drink!  The server brings the beer and typically I take a sniff because Angry Orchard has a sweet smell to it.  This was the one time I didn’t do that.  I was deep in conversation or distracted  or something but all I know is that I took a sip.  ONE sip.  It wasn’t Angry Orchard.  It was Bud Light.

Two thoughts ran through my head:  1.  Oh crap.  2.  How did I used to drink this stuff?

I put the beer down, said “This is NOT Angry Orchard”.  Craig got a hold of the server, told her that it wasn’t the drink I ordered and she brought me my correct drink.  Don recognized that it was an issue and I was grateful for an opportunity to tell him what happens when I’m glutened.  I should have spoken to the server and/or manager but it was so busy and…I missed an opportunity.  An opportunity to educate, to help someone realize that it wasn’t just a simple mistake.

I got sick.  It was more gradual than it had been in the past.  Usually it takes about 15 minutes to an hour and then, BAM!, you won’t see me for a while.  This time it took a few hours, I kept getting more and more bloated and ended up going home late that night.  I slept all night but the next day I just sat on the couch.  I was tired, lethargic and didn’t want to do anything.

I guess the moral of the story is that when things like this happen, when I KNOW that a mistake has been made, to educate.  To use the opportunity.

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Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

When it comes to holidays, we don’t do much tradition for meals.  Yes, for Thanksgiving we have turkey and stuffing but then it kind of varies.  For Christmas we don’t do ham or turkey (or rarely do turkey), we do things like shrimp scampi or steak or something like that.  For Christmas Eve this year we ordered in pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in, where else, Chicago.  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that!

So when it comes to dessert, I usually take it on.  I LOVE baking and for a holiday is no different.  I want to do something that is unusual, last year for Thanksgiving I did tiramisu.  This year I found a recipe that will remain close to my heart:  Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.  Anytime you have whiskey in the title, you have my attention.  The only issue was that this wasn’t a gluten free recipe and, if you have tried converting recipes in the past, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you just throw it away.  This one turned out SO good!  I have to share and, maybe for Christmas, this will be your dessert.  Also, I found this recipe at www.loveandoil.com, I want to give credit where it’s due!

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon (I used Pendleton)

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I ended up using light cream, that’s what I get for shopping the night before Thanksgiving)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture bubbles a lot, this is normal), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and most of the hard caramel chunks should dissolve.  I had a few left and strained them out. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake
For a gluten free cake, this kept SO well.  I’m talking that it was still moist after four days, which is unusual.  This is a recipe I WILL make again…and why not?  It’s amazing!

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I took a trip to Seattle…

Yes, the great Northwest.  If Chicago is for foodies, then the state of Washington is for those of you who like your food and adult beverages.  My brother is a graphic designer and owns his own business, Fresh Bread Design.  He works almost exclusively with distilleries and breweries in the area north of Seattle as well as some in Seattle.  So I had the inside track on what was amazing to sip on while in Washington.  And it was a fun time!

I love flying into Sea-Tac on a clear day, the views are amazing!  I arrived at a good time in the morning and my dad and brother, Scott, picked me up just in time for lunch.  Since we had plans on going to Ghostfish Brewing Company when they opened at 3pm, we had time to kill.  Scott found a little fish and chips place that had a dedicated fryer for gluten free foods.  I loved the fact that he did research ahead of time, read reviews and planned this for us.  It meant so much!

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The fish and chips place that we went to was called Emerald City Fish and Chips.  It may not be the biggest place to eat but it packed a punch!  It turns out that they only batter their items in a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free batter so the only things that aren’t gluten-free are their sandwiches.  It was awesome getting a great meal and knowing it was totally safe!

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We then headed downtown-ish Seattle.  We parked close to Ghostfish Brewing but Scott wanted to take us to Letterpress Distilling.  It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day so we walked there.  Letterpress is right around the corner from SafeCo Field, home of the Mariners and they currently make vodka and Limoncello.  Their vodka is super smooth with a hint of vanilla at the end, very enjoyable.  The Limoncello was smooth as well and lemon-y but not overpowering.  More like a lemon drop without too much sweetness.  We also got a tour of the facility which was really cool!

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Ghostfish was a place I was DYING to go to.  They brew only gluten-free beers and it was awesome to get to go to a brewery and drink a beer!  Since I’d never been there, I had a flight and my brother and dad shared a flight with other flavors.  I’d never had a saison before and fell in love with the light flavor with a hint of flowers.  Just a beautiful blend!  The other flavor, much to my surprise, that I loved, was the stout.  I’d never been too much of a stout fan, it’s usually got too much of a coffee flavor for me, but this one is less coffee and more chocolate.  Wow!  Talk about a beer you can sip and savor!  Needless to say, we took some beer home with us.

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A couple of days later we ventured to Anacortes.  If you have never been there, go visit.  It’s a beautiful sea town with a marina and fresh sea air.

IMG_4746 IMG_4745 IMG_4747We ate breakfast at the Calico Cupboard.  They have many gluten-free items including thick, fluffy pancakes for breakfast and carrot cake (my favorite!) and cookies to take home.  I didn’t get a picture of the carrot cake the next day but it made for a great breakfast!  IMG_4744On the way home, we stopped at a store and picked up a bottle of Ground Breaker Dark Ale.  This was also a great beer with a full flavor.  Not as deep as a stout, obviously, but had a great finish to it.  IMG_4791

That Saturday was our “Tour day”.  Scott took mom, dad and I out to see a couple more of his clients.  Our first stop was Temple Distilling.  Temple, for the time being, makes gin.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a gin drinker.  I always think that someone put Lysol in my drink.  Not Temple’s London Dry gin.  Super smooth, no bite, it might make me a gin drinker.  Put it into a gin and tonic and…wow.  So good.  You have to try it to believe it, really.  They also just released a Navy Gin which is a bit more potent.  (I’m also a photographer and the next day Scott and I did some publicity photos for Temple, they turned out so good!  Sorry, a little self promotion).

IMG_48007 Hymn 2

After Temple we headed to Elemental Hard Cider.  Elemental does all gluten-free hard ciders and MANY flavors.  They also have lunch which is all gluten-free sandwiches. Whoa…lunch and cider and it’s all gluten-free?  I’m in heaven!  I decided to go with the classic grilled cheese and it was amazing.  But the ciders…oh, the ciders!  From a classic dry apple to cherry to spiced apple to spiced pumpkin to acai…these are just a few flavors.  And they just introduced a root beer, not for the kiddos to try!  All of them are so good but the acai was bottled and I took one home with me.  The root beer was to be bottled a few days after I left so I may have some mailed to me.  It really was hard to pick a fav but I loved the spiced apple or the spiced pumpkin.  Two distinct flavors and perfect for fall!

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It was an amazing trip and I had a great time visiting family too, it wasn’t all about the beverages.  My family is super important to me and I got to surprise my 4 1/2-year-old niece and my 2-year-old nephew.  Spending time chasing them around was so precious to me.  Seeing my brother and sister-in-law and having time to hear about their future was amazing as well.  It’s so hard being so far away…but the memories of this time helps get through to the next time.

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Recipe: Chocolate Chip Scones

I love baking and got this love from my mom.  She and I would spend time in the kitchen making cookies, bread, anything that could be baked.  When dad was diagnosed with Celiac, she went above and beyond to copy favorite recipes so that he would still have the foods he loved.  She also discovered new recipes that have become favorites.

This is one of those recipes:  chocolate chip scones.  If these are at a breakfast, they are sure to be gone in a second.  I love making this recipe because it’s quick and easy…perfect for a brunch!

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

2 cups Bisquick® gluten-free mix

1 cup chocolate chips (I use mini chocolate chips for more chocolate per bite.)

1-1/3 cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon gluten-free almond extract

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper or use a nonstick cookie sheet.

In large bowl, mix Bisquick mix and chocolate chips. In a measuring cup, mix whipping cream and 1/2 teaspoon of the almond extract. Stir into Bisquick mixture until soft dough forms, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons additional whipping cream if necessary.

Divide dough in half. On a surface sprinkled with Bisquick mix, pat each half into a 6-inch round. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove parchment paper with scones to cooling rack.

Optional icing:

1/4 teaspoon gluten-free almond extract

1 cup gluten-free powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons milk or water

3 tablespoons sliced almonds

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle half the icing over warm scones. Sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle with remaining icing.

Each scone is approximately 250 calories each but for a special occasion or for a brunch this is a perfect treat. These scones also freeze well if you are looking to make them ahead of time.  I make them without the frosting as I feel they are sweet enough with out it.

The Bisquick baking mix can also be used for your favorites such pancakes, waffles and even pizza crust. It’s great to have on hand so you can make your breakfast favorites!

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Summer Eatin’ Tips

I wrote this article for a local newspaper a couple years ago but the tips stay true to this day.  Enjoy!

Summertime conjures up thoughts of barbeques in backyards, picnics over the 4th of July and company parties. Food items that are often served at these functions can be quite frightening for someone who is gluten free: hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta salads and many desserts are just a few to list. Here are some tips for eating gluten free yet enjoying the summertime festivities!

First, find out what will be served. If it’s pulled pork, find out if the BBQ sauce will be on it, if there was a marinade, etc. Hamburgers could have seasonings in them that have a wheat product as a filler. Hot dogs may not always be safe to eat and you may need to call the manufacturer. Finding out what will be served, and doing your homework, will make eating so much easier. It’s always a good idea to ask and plan ahead!

Second, bring your own. If buns will be part of the meal, bring gluten free buns. Udi’s makes a great gluten free hamburger and hot dog bun. If you aren’t sure about salads being served, bring a small portion for yourself.

Third, watch contamination. That knife that is in the mayo may have just been on a “normal” bun. It may be a good idea to bring some condiments that you know are safe.   Also ask that your hamburger or hot dog be cooked in a totally separate area on the grill as cross contamination can occur there as well.

Fourth, ask about any marinades or spices that might be on the food. Many marinades use wheat as a thickener and spices sometimes use wheat products as a filler. These hidden sources of wheat can be a concern. Just as to see the labels to make sure they are ok.

If your host or hostess has told you “not to worry about it”, just remember to have a back up plan. A good snack in your bag like Glutino’s pretzels or Nut Thins chips will be a great idea to keep you on track with your gluten free diet. You can also bring along something that you know will be ok for you to eat such as Mission Tortilla Chips and a jar of salsa.

Just remember: it’s ok to ask. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself this summer by asking what is in the foods you are about to put into your body. Then after you’ve asked, enjoy your summertime foods!

A Helping Hand

Celiac Disease hasn’t been the most fun thing.  I mean, you eat something you shouldn’t or accidentally get cross contamination and end up in the bathroom for the rest of the day or curled up on your bed in pain.  Doesn’t sound like a great way to spend an afternoon.

Through my work with Gluten Free Grand Valley, writing for the newspaper and being vocal on social media, I have gained attention, hopefully as an advocate for those with Celiac Disease.  Because of this, I get lots of questions, lots of emails and phone calls and people who are friends or friends of friends stopping me at gatherings to ask questions because they have been diagnosed or because someone they know has been.

A couple of these things happened this week.  First, I found out that a friend’s sister was diagnosed a few months ago.  We happened to be at a birthday party and I was having a glass of wine and she started asking me questions about being gluten free.  She then proceeded to tell me that she had been diagnosed Celiac.  We, of course, spent the rest of the evening talking about food, restaurants and all that goes along with Celiac Disease…over a gluten free pizza, I might add.

The second was someone who is gluten free is moving to Grand Junction and contacted me about Gluten Free Grand Valley.  I directed her to the Facebook page but we started a dialog on how scary it is to move to a new city, to not know what grocery stores to go to or what restaurants are safe.  We plan on having coffee when she gets here so I can help her.

Sometimes being given the burden of a disease can be just that, a burden.  But I look at it like this:  God put me on this Earth for a reason and gave me Celiac Disease for a reason.  I believe it’s to help people.  That’s not being said with bravado or boasting, it’s a fact.  I hope that I can help as many people as possible whether it’s simply giving them a cookie recipe or if it’s guiding them through the first year of eating gluten free.  I hope that I can always lend a helping hand.

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Make no bones about it

I have a friend who is constantly chastising me for not getting enough calcium. I’m not a milk drinker, I don’t eat yogurt, and, in general, don’t have a lot of dairy in my life.  I know there are other natural sources to get calcium from but I don’t think I get enough from those sources either.  So the other way is to take a supplement, which is not my favorite thing to do.

After many conversations with my friend, he brought up a good point about me having Celiac Disease and how the lack of calcium intake could hurt me.  I hadn’t thought about it past the “you should take calcium because you don’t drink milk” thing so I started doing some research on calcium deficiencies in those of us with Celiac Disease.

An article from celiacdisease.about.com stated that, once you have Celiac Disease, the chances of a dairy intolerance rises.  Unfortunately, I know that to be the truth as many of my friends who are Celiac are also lactose intolerant.  With lactose intolerance, you get less calcium and vitamin D so your chances of brittle bones and osteoporosis increases dramatically.

Another thing that plays into this is that the longer Celiac Disease goes undiagnosed or untreated by a gluten free diet, the less our bodies absorb minerals and vitamins.  This means that it will take longer for our bodies to play “catch up” on the necessary nutrients our bodies need.  It also means that our bodies have a chance of breaking down and they may not ever “catch up” to where they should be nutrient wise.  Damage sometimes cannot be undone.

Not surprisingly, women take in only 31% of the daily allowance they need.  This was according to an article from Gluten Free Living.  So, being a woman and being Celiac really raises my chances of having osteoporosis or brittle bones or clotting problems or a myriad of problems that go along with a calcium deficient Celiac.  Sigh…seems like it’s always something, right?  This picture lays it out pretty good:

http://www.slideshare.net/lsmuedu/celiac-disease-by-lugansk-state-medical-university

So where do I get calcium naturally, especially if I’m not a dairy eating/drinking person or if I’m lactose intolerant.  What if I HATE taking vitamins?  Both articles mention sardines (ick), tofu (not a fan of soy products), some greens (collards, turnip greens, kale) or vitamin fortified orange juice (just make sure it is gluten free).  Almond and soy milks are now sometimes calcium fortified as well.

I’m honestly pretty good with my vitamins.  I take a spray vitamin B12 and D (yes, I said spray and it’s the best thing ever invented) and now I take calcium too.  I’m sure there are other vitamins that I should be taking like zinc, etc. but it’s all about baby steps.

Now my friend can rest easy because I take my calcium.  And I can rest easy that I’m trying to prevent a health catastrophe in my life.

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Coming in like a Lion…

I’m having a hard time believing that March is nearly over.  It seems like the longest, fastest month ever.  I hope you know what that means and, if not, it doesn’t matter.  It’s how this month feels.

March came in like a lion with putting my baby cat, Punky, to sleep.  It’s honestly still hard to be at home, not as hard as it was the first few days but I still find myself looking over my shoulder to make sure she’s not behind me in the kitchen and I still can’t go into her room much, even though it’s technically my office.  All in time, right?

I’m finding that March has been a difficult month for so many of my friends.  From death of family members to hospitalization of family members to cancer treatments to illness to…it just seems like it’s never ending.  I feel for all of my friends that are hurting right now and I worry that I’m not emotionally able to meet their needs because I feel drained.  I want to be there for them and am trying hard.

I wonder, sometimes, why it all hits at once.  Why it seems like everything flows along so well with everything, everything, and then everything blows up.  I’m certain that God is trying to get our attention about something, trying to say “Hey, don’t forget that I’m here” because we often think we can handle things all by ourselves, we want control.

I’m very thoughtful tonight.  Through my run after work, I tried to just clear my mind and focus on my pace.  I was able to do that but found myself going through the list of people in my life who are hurting, who are right now just trying to make it day by day and work through emotions that I, most of the time, can’t even fathom.

So, I have a feeling that March came in like a lion and will leave like a lion as well.

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Traveling on…

I just finished up my second trip for work, destination: Minneapolis, MN. I spent one year in Minneapolis in college and was there a few times while I lived in Sioux Falls. So, it was going “back to my roots”, in a way. None of the other three gals from my office had been to Minnesota but when they found out we were near the Mall of America, they were all kinds of excited.

Eating is always a big part of a trip so once we hit the Mall of America, it was on! We did our shopping (they even had a store that was ALL running gear! Can you say heaven?) then headed to Tony Roma’s. They had a great gluten free menu and adult beverages as well.  The service was lacking, our dinner there was almost two hours and we didn’t order anything special, but when it came, it was amazing.  I had the Mojo Chicken which had great flavor and a great pineapple salsa on a bed of rice.  Lesson learned, don’t go there unless you aren’t overly hungry or are in a time crunch!

Before we left Grand Junction, my manager called ahead to the hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan, to make sure that there would be gluten free meals for me. While they weren’t sure about the breakfasts, and only confirmed that the eggs were ok, they did amazing with the lunches. The first lunch we had was Chinese and they made me a special plate with sauteed veggies and rice as well as a side salad. The second lunch was a huge bowl of pasta and they went the extra mile by going to the nearby gluten free bakery and getting me desert! More on that in a second…

After we finished up our first day of training, I told my manager that we were going to hoof it the half a mile to the gluten free bakery, Bittersweet Bakery.  Before I left for my trip, I did some research on good gluten free places in Minneapolis and was pleased to find that there was a gluten free bakery so close! There was a kindly gentleman at the counter and he helped me make my breakfast choice for the morning: cinnamon pecan coffee cake. Since I LOVE cupcakes, I couldn’t pass up the marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting and candies on top. I also nabbed a double chocolate chip cookie because, honestly, who doesn’t like cookies. All of those items were under $10 too! I’ve never purchased that much in gluten free items and have it that cheap! I tried the cookie out on the walk back to the hotel…ok, devoured it. It was amazing! I had the coffee cake the next morning and it was equally amazing. It almost didn’t even taste gluten free. The cupcakes, even after a day, were still soft and tasty.

When I returned to the hotel from my trip to the bakery, my workmates were at the hotel bar and I just had to show them the treats I had gotten, minus the cookie:

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

The bartender, who I later found out was the assistant general manager, Ronnie, overheard our conversation and told me that his son had a wheat allergy and he had forgotten about the bakery.  He said that they would get me something for lunch the next day from the bakery but I didn’t think much of it.  The next day they delivered:  two double chocolate chip cookies from Bittersweet Bakery!

We decided to stay close for dinner that night and we across the street to Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill.  They had amazing food and were very attentive to my needs, even checking to make sure that the Ooso, the Greek beverage, was gluten free.  When we ordered hummus, they accommodated me and brought celery for me to have with the hummus.  Our server was amazing!  They also had karoke so it was a fun time by all!

Our last night, we decided to stay close as well and Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill was recommended by Ronnie.  I was pleased with the huge selection of gluten free options on their menu, even appetizers, which I find aren’t always on a gluten free menu.  The Balsamic Tenderloin Skewers were a great way to start the meal.  So tasty!  For an entree I had the Spit Roasted Chicken.  It was the most tender chicken I’ve had in a long time and the mashed potatoes were so good too!

It was a great trip, great training, amazing people and amazing food!  I would recommend trying the above places, they won’t disappoint!

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

February is a fun month.  Last week was an amazing week.  I am a part of the Grand Junction Lions Club and we hold one fundraiser a year.  It is not only the biggest fundraiser among the community groups in Grand Junction, it is the biggest one time fundraiser in Lions Club International.  We are kinda a big deal.

We do a raffle (six-seven weeks of selling raffle tickets) and then do a parade and carnival to finish it off.  The carnival is old timey:  a quarter a paddle and you can win different things like soda, bacon and eggs, candy, flowers and so much more.  We have been doing this for 86 years and it’s a staple in the community and several generations of people have attended.  Each year there is a theme:  this year was Colorado Wild and we did it up right, on a boat!

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

"I'm on a boat" crew

“I’m on a boat” crew

Me as a mermaid

Me as a mermaid

 

Yup, we have a good time and do a lot to raise money for the community.  This year we have pledged to give $125,000 to 10 organizations in Grand Junction.  Not too shabby.

Not only was a carnival but it was 10 years since I arrived in Grand Junction.  I’ve never lived anywhere for 10 years so this is huge.  I felt like I was celebrating with my Lions family (although most of them had no idea, but I pretended it was all about me anyway).  It’s a huge accomplishment in my life.

And then there was the worst of times.  Sunday night my cat, Punky, was incontinent not once, but twice.  She is 18 1/2, has been a diabetic for over six years and I know that this is a red flag.  She had been incontinent about a month ago but wrote it off as sleeping really hard, not a big deal.  I should have paid more attention.  So, I took her to the vet on Monday and Dr. Aimee Johnson put her on an antibiotic immediately.  We got the test results back yesterday (bladder infection) but at her age, this is much more than just that.  The incontinence hasn’t gone away, she seems to have a feline dementia (yes, there is such a thing) and…she’s my fur baby.

I’m facing the truth that I may have to make one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever had to make and that is putting her to sleep.  I have to start looking past my desire to have my fur baby with me and to look at what is best for her.  Whether I should let her live with not knowing who I am (I am starting to look into eyes that sometimes have no idea who I am) or letting her go before she doesn’t even know when or how to eat.  I have to look past my desire to not want to make a hard decision or make a decision that keeps her from pain and suffering.  I have to look past ME.  And this isn’t easy.  I have spent the past two nights crying, hugging her, letting her sleep on my lap and just wondering:  is it time.  I have spent the past two days at work talking to my co worker and boss (who have and are going through the same thing as me) and listening to their advice.  I am fortunate to have a boss that says “when it’s time, take a day”.

And I have a feeling that the day will come soon…and I don’t want to have to make a decision but she is a faithful animal, a kind soul and won’t go…unless I make that decision for her.  That is my gut feeling.

So I had an amazing week last week…and now face an adult decision.  I don’t want to be an adult in this decision.  I want to make a fort, hide and play dolls in it…and forget that hard decisions exist.