I said to Suzanne over breakfast the other morning, “You would have been fine if I wasn’t here. You would have made friends with the UberEats or DoorDash delivery guy; figured out how to wear a garbage bag over your cast when entering the chicken coop; gotten rides to the places you needed to be from our awesome neighbors. It would have all worked out. You would have managed. But I’m glad you don’t have to.”

Suzanne didn’t disagree with my assessment, but her, “Me, too!” was fervent.

She’s still waiting for surgery on her ankle, which… well, sucks. True recovery doesn’t start until after the surgery, plus she won’t know for sure how long that recovery is likely to be until they get in there and see the damage, so she’s in something of a holding pattern right now. Best-case scenario, I think, is no damage to ligaments, so another six weeks in a non-weight bearing cast, maybe followed by some more time in a walking cast. Worst-case scenario is, well, worse. We’re not thinking about that one. The surgery is currently scheduled for next Monday, so she’ll know more then.

Is it good news for her that she’s really great on crutches? Maybe. Ha. But she really is. I think it’s all the roller-skating; she’s got an excellent sense of balance. She’s managing to do a lot more than I think I’d be able to do, anyway. If I tried to carry my tea mug from her kitchen to living room while on crutches, I’m fairly sure I’d be wearing my tea. She makes it look easy.

It does mean that I personally am still kinda busy with things other than writing books, the biggest component of which is probably exercising dogs. When she was trying to get her surgery scheduled, Suzanne told the nurse that her daily step count base was 20,000 steps and the enforced inactivity was killing her; ergo, Bear’s former daily step count was probably pretty close to 20,000 steps, too. That’s not something I can achieve on a daily basis.

What I can do is take the dogs to places where they can run around until they’re tired. We’re playing lots of ball in the nearby field, and taking lots of beach trips. We’ve also found a cool new dog park, which we’ve gone to a couple times now, and Sophie and Riley got to try out doggie day care last week. (Bear needs one more vaccination first.) They’re not so exhausted that they can’t find trouble — Bear’s success of the week was helping herself to three pork chops from my counter while I was out playing with Sophie — but they’re not chewing on the walls, either. (I fully expect Suzanne to start chewing on the walls any day now. 😉 )

This is not a tired Sophie. It’s her posture when I tell her it’s time to go home from the field where we play ball. It’s more of a toddler no, an emphatic, “But I don’t wanna!”

I’m also cooking a ton. I’m three weeks and two days into AIP, so eating a lot of vegetables and a lot of protein. In the list of foods that I miss, coffee was definitely the hardest to cut out, but chili peppers in all of their various forms — red pepper flakes, chili garlic sauce, Yellowbird serrano sauce, smoked paprika — are definitely what I miss most in my diet. Sushi, too, of course, but at almost every meal, I have the thought, “This would be so much better with a little X” and the X is almost always a chili pepper based substance. Occasionally cheese, occasionally soy sauce. And really, long-term, I don’t want to live without yogurt or chocolate or coffee. But for now, I’m managing without all of the above, relatively painlessly.

Suzanne has the best of both worlds: I’m cooking two meals a day for her while she’s on crutches, but she’s on her own for lunch, so she gets excessively healthy food twice, but can snack on the occasional sugar, and have delicious gluten bread for lunch. Yes, I’m a little envious. But I am beginning to feel better, too. Not as quickly as I would have liked — I’m both counting down the days to the reintroduction phase and wondering whether I’ll be feeling well enough to start it on time — but getting there.

I did make an annoying discovery today, which is that Tazo Teas don’t guarantee that their teas are gluten-free. It is now entirely possibly that my entire summer has been shaped by my consumption of Tazo Decaf Chai Latte, which I discovered back in May, and was drinking every few days until committing to AIP. I think I mentioned that I thought I might be having a gluten reaction, but without the gluten. It never even crossed my mind that tea could be contaminated. Just… why?!? But since a) I don’t want to start AIP over if I’m wrong and the tea was not my problem and b) I’m still not feeling great and it’s been three weeks since I had any chai, I’m going to continue the restrictions. It’s not like it’s actually bad for me to be eating mostly vegetables and no sugar. It’s just boring.

And now it’s time for me to go take care of the chickens. I’m still trying not to get too attached — one of them has been crowing, which is just terrible news, given its almost inevitable fate if it turns out to be a rooster — but my new name for the baby ladies is “the young hooligans,” as in “those young hooligans are party animals.” They stay up way too late, in my opinion. But also… well, a picture is worth a thousand words.

chicken photo

This chicken is clearly a punk rocker, not a lady. We’re calling her Phyllis.