Hello and Happy Noo Noo! Are you back and settled in for the long haul? Up to your ears in bills, with nothing to look forward to but Family Day in February? Same. That being said, I had a very lovely holiday break. We went sailing in Belize: me, John, the boys and Jamie on one boat, and my sister-in-law Helen with her two daughters and their boyfriends on another. We were 10 in all, and we did a lot of swimming and snorkling and drinking and laughing.


So this happened:

I’m stupid crazy about dolphins. Not enough to get a pair tattooed on my lower back, but I cry every time I see them. On New Year’s Eve Day, all ten of us went on a guided snorkel around Silk Cay, an island near the barrier reef:  we saw sea turtles and nurse sharks and stingrays and manta rays and every kind of fish and coral. There’s an entire universe below sea level, and it’s as fragile as it is breathtaking. I returned home newly humbled, and determined to do what I can to respect the planet.


I also returned home with sand flies. At least I think that’s what they are. They could also be bot flies, but I very much hope and pray they’re not because those buggers are DIS. GUS. TING. Before you recoil in horror, I don’t think the bugs themselves came home with me, but the bites did, and I am beyond itchy, as is everyone in my party. The bites are tiny red bumps that look like this:

I’m pretty much covered in them. I’m fine if I don’t scratch them, but if I start (as I inevitably do in my sleep), it’s as if the fires of hell have opened up to make me wish I could be flayed alive. I exaggerate, of course, because that’s what I do, but only a little. They say they’ll be gone in a week or so, but until then I’m relying on hydrocortisone cream and wine.


To compound the situation, John and are committing to a plant-based way of eating, at least 3 or 4 days a week, with little to no red meat ever. It takes a lot of work, but it can be truly delicious if you set your mind to it. I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and his Plenty cookbooks, and most of his recipes are so yummy you don’t even notice the lack of animal protein. That being said, they rely a lot on beans, lentils, legumes and the like, and THAT being said, we are gassier than the finalists in a finger-pulling contest. Actually, for some reason, I’m not too bad, but John says he feels like an unpopped balloon. Again, this is supposed to be temporary, but in the mean time, it’s a struggle. Itchy, scratchy, angry and bloated are no way to start the new decade.


THAT being said, care to come over? I thought not.


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