It was dark and the rain kept pouring down on the city.  As he stood against the wall, desperately  trying to stay as dry as possible, he had to place his hand over his ear in order to hear the voices from the hidden microphone that he had placed in the restaurant earlier that afternoon.  Suddenly, a car came around the corner and its lights shown through the rain, lighting him up as if he was on stage.  His cover was blown, and he knew it.  There was little he could do other than to turn and walk down the alleyway.  Within seconds, the car had begun following him, and with every step he took, the car closed in on him. 

Ooops, sorry, this chapter isn’t the title of the latest Robert Ludlum book, although it would make a fab story line…some evil group of neo-whatevers plan to genetically modify the world’s supply of gluten until an ex MI-6 operative finds out about the plan and…okay, sorry…am losing track.  No, this chapter isn’t a book title; it is the conundrum I have found myself facing.  Here is how it all started.

Remember my intestinal horror story from Thailand?  The one that no one can still seem to sort out?  Well, I decided to take things into my own hands, and did a quick inventory of (alledged) food stuffs I consume, and, voila!  I realised I consume mega amounts of Aspartame (as in cola-lite) and gluten (as in just about every food stuff I like).  So, being in a seriously take-charge-of-my-own-health-situation, I decided to cut back on both the cola-lite and the amount of gluten I consume.  Well, that lasted about a day when I realised that if I was serious about adjusting my diet, I would need to either do it or not do it.  I chose to do it.  This of course meant, to banish both cola-lite and gluten-laced foods from the list I products I consume. 

Now on the surface, this decision wasn’t all that difficult, until I discovered that gluten is in flippin’ everything.  Well, everything I like at least.  So after stopping purchasing cola-lite, I began to look for gluten-free anything.  Admittedly, I really didn’t even know what gluten was, so being a tad anal-retentive about using my computer, I Googled it and came up with this: Gluten (from Latin gluten "glue") is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.  Right.  Not exactly the most helpful thing for me, especially as this makes it sound like gluten is the food equivalent of Super-Glue.  As I wasn’t getting the answers I was after, I took a different tack and went to the market.  Gluten-free bread is available, so I loaded up on a couple of loaves of it (one for Sol y Mar and one for Amélie).  That was the good news.  The bad news is that I like wheat bread and gluten-free bread only seems to come in white bread here, and if that wasn’t enough, the consistency of the bread is very similar to either indoor-outdoor carpeting or a slice of very old cake.  But it is available, so I bought it.  I did discover this morning that one of the best things about this gluten-free bread is that you cannot tell if it has gone stale.  Fresh, stale…it all feels and tastes the same. This might be a bonus, but I am not quite sure how as yet.

Pasta, another food I quite like and again, it is available here in gluten-free, but to date, I have only found one type.  The pasta I like the most is fresh tortellini (which I prepare with fresh pesto, also by Buitoni…really good, you should try it) but here all I can find is spaghetti.  Gluten-free spaghetti to be exact.  Not bad actually, but it is like eating an entire game of limp pick-up sticks.  Now to be fair, meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables are all gluten-free, but I am more of a toast-for-brekkie and pasta-for-dinner kind of guy.  Having said that, in summer, I do eat my fair share of salad, and it is summer, so I might be okay for a while.  I also do like to have fresh tuna, but admittedly I do shy away from preparing multiple things for one meal.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do prepare (my version of) complex meals (chicken, with potatoes and peas is kind-a-sort-a complex, isn’t it?) But those are meals I make as comfort food in autumn and winter.  And with the spectre of autumn coming in some months and my food options slipping away, finding acceptable foods is a bit daunting.  I suppose that this all would be so much easier if my new diet, plus all the swimming and rowing wasn’t working.  But I do feel quite a bit better.  Good news?  Normally this would be considered to be good news, even by me.  But as any problem solver worth his salt (or salt substitute) knows, by changing multiple variables at the same time makes it pretty tricky to see which variable is the one that is really making the difference.  But for now, whether it is the gluten-free diet, or the elimination of Aspartame, or all the swimming and rowing, I really don’t care.  Maybe soon I will find out.

Other non-gluten conundrums here include how to spend my time onboard Amélie.  Other than what should be obvious from the first part of this chapter, I do like to keep busy.  Therefore, my time-spending-options include: writing; painting; doing something else creative; reading; sleeping, etc.  Because I already do the first two items, I decided to also do some of number 3 recently.  Of course the next challenge is to think of something creative to do.  In my case, I began to look at the pile of dock-lines that I had decided to throw out.  It didn’t take long to realise I could actually make something with them.  (I know, a bit pathetic).  After a while, I had made a rug.  And then I made it bigger.  And then I made another one. 

The other night, there was a programme on telly called “The Beauty of Maps.”  It was both inspiring and spectacularly beautiful, and showed some of the maps in the British Library. (you can see much of what was shown by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/beautyofmaps/)

And to close out this chapter, I thought I would delve into the world of boating, as I do quite often.  Several years ago, a friend who lives in Palma rang me and asked me to look west from my roof terrace as there was a strange looking boat in the harbour not that far from my house.  I took my binoculars to the roof and there it was…a not-so-pretty-looking-super-yacht.  I couldn’t see the name of it, but when I came back in, I actually Googled “ugliest yacht in the world” or something like that.  Voila!  There it was.  A yacht that had been designed for someone who obviously has more money than sense.  The yacht’s name is “A” – yes, just the letter “A,” which might actually stand for abomination I suppose.  Well, “A” is back and we just saw it on a quick trip into Palma…and guess what?  Still ugly.  Enough.



this chapter's random photo....pretty colourful I think



the evil gluten, or so I have been told


gone from my life (well, my dietary life)


my Buitoni tortellini with pesto


the big rug



the smaller rug


an extremely old (and hard to see) map of Mallorca


the winner of Ugliest Boat competition


what I think a good-looking boat design is

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011  James B. Rieley