Just over six years ago, I wrote a piece on depression. A little digression before I go on, SIX years. Time really is a wonder. Another wonder, this is post number 1600. SIXTEEN HUNDRED. I didn’t have an inkling back when I started what this would become or how long I’d be at it. In all truth, I still don’t. Maybe that I write and quote and photograph the truth. At least what is true to me. It’s the best I can do, and I do it. Again and again, with great JOY! Yes, indeed.

And so that bit on depression. In that post, I mentioned a genetic mutation that predisposes me for melancholy. I intended to write about it sooner, but, well, you know how life has other ideas. So did I, apparently.

Anyhoo, after learning of my depression and digestive woes, my Portland naturopath recommended that I test for MTHFR. I came back as heterozygous (one copy) for the C677T variant. There is a lot to read about it out on the interwebs, and I did until my eyes went googly. The very basic gist is my liver, on its very best day, only works at 70%. On the surface, it doesn’t sound too bad, 70% is average. In most of life, average is not bad! It’s only when you note how much is tied up in that missing 30% that things get thorny. Detoxification. Digestion. Cognition. Mood.

It also explained a lot about why my tummy was such a trickster. Why I could take a supplement in the morning and vomit it up WHOLE, along with everything else I’d eaten that day, right before bed. My everlasting depression. And much further down the line, why it was very likely that my bi-polar grandmother ended up suffering from dementia (MTHFR elevates homocysteine, which promotes brain atrophy), as the mutation is passed along like fruitcake. Pun intended.

With the naturopath’s limited knowledge, I started taking methylfolate, the cornerstone of the whole mutation. Because I don’t properly process folate. It’s got to be done for me. And so I started my dose. My mood soared! I was elated. I am healed! Then I utterly tanked, physically and emotionally, because my body could not handle the sudden cascade of detoxification. Back to square one.

So I read more on my own. I learned to start the methlylfolate incrementally. One supplement a week. Then twice a week if it feels right. Then three times. So very slowly. I let my body adjust until I could handle it daily. It was a long time before I felt okay, but I still had problems. An understatement, if ever there was.

I did more research and found the MTHFR protocol created by Dr. Ben Lynch and tinkered with it on my own. A little of this and a little of that. More. Then none. I went dairy and gluten-free for a year. Pretty good, but hard to sustain. Wheat is delicious! And I LOOOOVE cheese. I went vegan for a year and never felt worse. Lectins! Phytic acid! Abdominal pain. Brain fog. More tinkering.

At this point, I am ten years into this game and learned most everything I know on my own. I eat clean meats (grass fed and organic), a whole host of low lectin vegetables (everything peeled and seeded when possible, beans cooked in the instant pot), wee bits of fruits, nuts, and grains. My tummy thanks me.

That’s not all. I take a whole host of supplements, too. I rotate through pro-biotics and magnesium, for digestion, mood elevation, & muscle function. I take a co-enzyme B vitamin supplement, not just methylfolate, to help keep homocysteine levels down and mood up. N-Acetyl Cysteine helps keep my liver clean. DHEA a couple times a week keeps my adrenals and mood up. Vitamin D3 & K2 – sunshine in a bottle. Glutathione – helps my liver and gallbladder process fats (why I used to vomit all the time – the tiniest bit of fat kept me from digesting, no fun at all). Gallbladder Nutrients powder (from Seeking Health) with every meal – to further help my digestion.

It’s a lot, but it keeps me feeling good and as sane as I’m going to be. I take no prescription drugs and no pain killers. I really have never felt as well as I do now. My depression is ever present, but quietly so. I’m not struggling to keep suicidal thoughts at bay – I used to thing about dying ALL THE TIME. I can digest food! I no longer worry every time I eat if I’m going to be able to keep it down.

It’s rather odd, when I think about the shit show that has been my life – abuse, mental illness, endometriosis, migraines, and digestive woes – but I have always felt lucky. I guess I was born with the gift of truly seeing – every great privilege, every joy: the beauty of starlight, kindness, the scent of flowers and pine, music, dogs and cats and birds, the love of the hubster. Especially that.

Our very orchestrated Sunday supper. If you hadn’t noticed, I really love to cook, but I prefer a big bang for my buck in the kitchen. I don’t generally want to painstakingly create meals that will be gone in minutes.

That being said, I also like a little adventure and own cookbooks galore. Some of the recipes are of the painstaking, slow Sunday Supper ilk. I was feeling a strong pull toward my Teutonic roots and have a glorious German cookbook by Alfons Schuhbeck in need of a little mileage. So, I stuffed chicken breasts with ham and cheddar and topped them with a butter laden sherry wine sauce. The potato salad came from the same book, but it is sadly missing radishes because two grocers were out of them and dried tarragon! What the?

The bright colored salad is the closest I could get without the aforementioned tarragon to a carrot salad we rather enjoy at Uwe’s, one of our favorite local places.

And the cake, oh good grief! It is Christina Tosi’s Apple Pie Cake from Milk. Talk about laborious. So very many steps! Such deliciousness, though. My stars.

Our fab shed dolled up with icicles and wild bee house!
The light!

Frozen

You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.

Ernest Hemingway

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Before
After
Bobcat
Raccoon
Squirrel

Yesterday’s perfect snow globe morning…

I finally felted my acorns! Aren’t they adorable?

Hummus Bling Bling

Oh, the food I’ve made, as of late. Thank goodness we have a dog to walk and a daily workout routine, or we’d be in serious trouble. We’re currently jamming on Jericho’s Morning Meltdown 100. I’m feeling stronger and stronger.

Back to the eats! I am a massive fan of the library, and especially the cookbook section, checking out some little lovely nearly every visit. I don’t always cook from them, often just wanting to ogle food photos and take an armchair vacation to some beautiful locale.

The Hummus Bling Bling is from Eat. Cook. L.A., seriously the best hummus I’ve ever had. For a loooong time, I couldn’t eat hummus, or any dried bean concoction for that matter, suffering massive intestinal distress. But then I read The Plant Paradox and learned that pressure cooking (for at least 7.5 minutes) destroys the lectins that made me wanna die. So I can eat hummus again, and the Anasazi beans I bought in New Mexico (pictured below). Celebrate good times….

My first time making mole. Boy howdy, what was I waiting for?! It is the stuff of magic. We slathered it on chicken and whisked giant dollops into hot chocolate. Oh, yeah!!

Homemade chile con queso, queso, queso. How do I love thee. With chicharones and Siete (ocho, nueve, diez…) cassava chips, for when I’m not feeling corny.

Spoon bread with a mushroom, sour cream, and parmesan concoction. Also from Eat. Cook. L.A. Mighty-mighty.

I’ve dabbled in bread baking for a long time, mostly turning out the no-knead or some boule variety. They were consistently delicious, but I frequently tired of the massive air bubble directly where I wanted to make a sandwich. So I tried the Italian from America’s Test Kitchen Bread Illistrated. Wow! It’s everything I want in something sandwich and toast-able. Yes, ma’am.

The Italian bread calls for 8 oz of beer. Since I am not much of a beer drinker, and especially not at eight in the a.m., I decided to use the remaining 4 oz to make beer bread as an accompaniment to the Brazilian Coconut Shrimp Soup I was planning for lunch. Delicious!

Here’s the recipe for the soup. So easy! Double or triple, if you like.

1 14 oz can coconut milk

1/2 pound cleaned shrimp

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt, to taste

Put everything in a saucepan and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, basically to your liking. Take a little taste, add salt until it’s right. Seriously, that’s it. Add a cilantro garnish, if you have it, but it’s lovely without it.

Just cuz I love her…

Good morning, Santa Fe! The handsome hubster enjoys the little yard at our casita. We’d already walked to Dolina’s Bakery, where the service is adorable and patiently kind, and the pastry choices difficult to make. We bought croissants and a slice of amazing coffee cake.

Silly Juniper would not run through the tunnel! We tossed the ball halfway, and she darted in and backed her way out. We also forgot to bring her water to the dog park, so she made due with snow. Eeek, that dog is so stinking cute!

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that we haven’t spent much of our Santa Fe time on Museum Hill. We got to work on it, with a trip to the glorious Museum of International Folk Art. What fun that was, with every manner of joyful treasure I adore: amazing rugs, guitars made from license plates and cigar boxes, straw dolls, miniature after miniature, treasures from trash (the moose made by kids from Santa Clara Pueblo), and a memory of my time at Standing Rock. Woot!

Greg makes use of the overlook…
Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer
Craig Goseyun

We spent an evening at the Rail Yard, enjoying The Gentlemen at the Violet Crown. We’d never been, and were sure glad to go. Everyone was super friendly, the snacks and drinks top notch, and the theater was pretty posh, too, with those seats that make you feel you aren’t really at the movies. The fil-um satisfied, providing laugh after laugh, in an uber-clever Guy Ritchie caper way.

The pointilist-ish sky was on the scene for hours….
Fisher’s Peak on the verge of a fresh dusting of snow.

I vacillated on my decision to show you our treasures, mostly because I feel slightly boorish saying, “Look what I got!!” The more I thought on it, however, I realized I want the people behind them to get their due. It is their bread and butter, after all. These are in pretty random order, so get our your magnifier and use your beautiful eyes!

The Anasazi beans (so delicious!), mild green chile powder, and Chimayo chile powder (only a few families in the area grow them – pretty special), as well as the barely discernible tiny spoon charm came from El Potrero Trading Post in Chimayo. They ship, should you have a hankering and not be lucky enough to go.

The other charms and strings of beads came from Glorianna’s, the oldest bead shop in Santa Fe. Chockablock with every manner of beautiful bead, I had a hard time restraining myself. The woman who runs the shop is Starr, the daughter of Glorianna, who passed in 2018, and is so kind and helpful. She was wearing a beautiful velveteen suit her mother made in the 50s – a stunner! What a treasure of a place.

The blue corn pinon pancake mix from Santa Fe Culinaria is delicious, but contains soy flour which makes my tummy scream, ruh-roh! Greg is luxuriating in a selfish pancake moment. The milagro heart and cross with pink flowers are from the Palace Hotel in Las Vegas and look fabulous among their New Mexico kin on my basement bathroom wall.

Fun and yummy red chile chocolate bar from Los Muertos. Another round of the best cola in the mundo – Zia Pinon, as well as several more bags of our favorite Casa Blanca Red Chile Jerky. The magnet with the car is from El Zocalo in Las Vegas, a very dangerous place for me. They have a stellar selection of paintings, jewelry, pottery, just about everything an art lover wants to take home.

The ornament was made by Rita Johnson, a Navajo Sandpainter we met on the plaza. She doesn’t have a website, but if you’re interested in her work, as she does more than ornaments, message me on my about page, and I’ll hook you up with her phone number.

Oops! I nearly forgot the wee Huichol bowl, purchased at the Folk Art Museum and the super cool thunderbird belt Greg bought at the Tin-Nee-Ann Trading Post in Santa Fe. It’s one of the old school places that’s been open longer than I’ve been alive. We finally made it in. A trip of firsts…

The beautiful weavings! The top right was from the Mora Valley Spining Mill, and does not indicate the name of the weaver. The remaining two were done by Victoria Verry whose work is available at Centinela Traditional Weavers, and send my heart singing, especially the one on the left, as it has yarn with plant dyes from indigo, madder root, and chamisa (a.k.a. rabbitbrush). So cool!!

And finally, a wonder of a painting by Gwen Wilemon from El Zocalo.

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