Thursday, December 29, 2011

Medusa: the Gorgon


Medusa the Gorgon is typically accepted as one of three daughter of the god Phorcys and Keto. The three sisters were considered immortal. With beauty beyond comparison, the three sisters were cursed by the jealousy of others.

Known for her fabulous beauty, Medusa received the wrath-filled transformation from Athena who cursed her after Poseidon copulated with her in the temple of Athena. Some stories speak of Poseidon’s affection gone bad: some say he was obsessed, some say to the point of rape. No matter what the story, Athena felt disrespected by the couple and took out her anger on Medusa.

Snakes replaced Medusa’s beautiful hair, her eyes and facial features became serpentine, as well as her lower body transforming into a serpents tail. Still many of her attributes were venerable. Ancient Greeks placed engraved gorgons on doors and shields for protection and as a symbol of fertility.

The gorgon lived just outside the entrance to the Underworld. To meet them was to tempt doom. Equal with the danger was the healing powers of Gorgon blood. To sprinkle blood taken from the right side of a Gorgon could bring the dead back to life.

Medusa was thought to be immortal until the battle with Perseus. Perseus armed with Herme’s sythe and Athena’s shield beheaded Medusa. Pegasus and Chrysaor, her sons by Poseidon, were born from her blood.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hit Wall = Turn


Plus or minus I’m a dreamer who through the course of time became an academic who through the course of time returned to dreaming. My natural state is somewhere between uncomfortable reality and utopia.

Many years ago I had a chance moment to talk with someone who was wise or a wise one spoke through him.

Bobby: "Keep Moving Forward."

Me: "But what if I hit a wall?"

Bobby: "Turn"

Me: "Which way?"

Bobby: "Until you can move forward again."

Me: "Huh."

Since that day I've kept moving, revising the plan called life as I go but ever forward, even if it seems sideways.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wild for Wilde


The writings of Oscar Wilde have always been among my favorite. The plays are witty with fast-paced language. The audience of the Victorian era both wished to be entertained and shocked.

Oscar Wilde may be the most noted celebrity of Victorian Times. He was famous for being himself. His dress and witty conversation at parties made him famous before he had produced much. Imagine what he could have done with social media!

His writings challenged the standards of the day. He asked the audience to look at those issues which were hypocritical and did it in a humorous way. He lived as he wrote, with the freedom of the thoughtful, upper middle class. What he lacked was the carte blanche of the titled English upper class which was his undoing.

Beginning as a poet, he wrote the most charming children’s stories including the Happy Prince, followed by his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Thereafter, he focused on plays which brought him much notoriety. While Lady Windemere’s Fan and Salome were outrageous by Victorian standards, the audience loved Wilde for his blunt honesty in what was a most coy and indirect society. The Ideal Husband and the Importance of Being Earnest continuing with his theme of true versus covert identity are the two plays most often performed. Most of his works are regularly cited in colleges, his plays performed regularly and much of his work converted into television and movie scripts.

Without a doubt, Wilde’s writings speak to the heart of modern society and we love him. We can only hope the bigotry that gave speed to his early death will be left behind, opening the opportunity for pure celebration of a truly great writer.
The Wilde legacy lives on in his grandson Merlin Holland and his son, Lucien.

Picture from
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01996/Oscar-Wilde_1996173b.jpg

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip


Ingredients

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, drained and thaw
1 (14 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a glass bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Grease a baking dish. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle some mozzarella or Parmesan on top. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or bread.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Caught Smiling


It happened again today, I was caught smiling.

I was talking with a woman with whom I'm acquainted. She commented, "You're smiling."

"Am I?"I asked.

"Yes," she said, "and you're talking about your 3 teenagers."

I thought a moment, "Oh, well, that's because I like them."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Toddler Days


Toddlers are wonderful wow little people. There are few things as delightful, or tiring as a day with an energetic toddler.

Toddler To-Do List:

Chasing a ball
Blowing bubbles
Running with the dogs
Playing at the park
Going to the zoo
Drawing with sidewalk chalk
Digging in the dirt
Walking a nature trail
Running in the yard
Batting
Pulling a wagon
Climbing up the slide
Sliding down the slide
Running through the sprinklers
Swinging
Riding the merry-go-round
Jumping in a puddle
Pushing the stroller
Climbing the jungle-gym
Singing and marching to “We’ve off to see the Wizard.”
Drumming
Walking in the museum
Running to feed the ducks

This is only a partial list of a typical toddler day. What wonderful things are on your toddler to-do list?

My toddlers were capable of going, and going, and going, then falling asleep in an instant, >snap<, then awake for more! I had thought I was going to fall over exhausted when they were 1, 3 & 5. We all made it. Now, when I see toddlers I think of all the fun energy of running, running, running.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Legacy of Babe Ruth


"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."
~ Babe Ruth


George Herman Ruth, Jr. was born February 6, 1895 in Baltimore Maryland. He was raised in a rough neighborhood until his father placed him in an orphanage at age 7 where he remained until he reached adulthood. At St. Mary’s Orphanage he progressed with the regular curriculum, learned the skill of shirt making and played baseball.
In 1913 he was noticed and was signed to his first baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox in 1914. He played Major League baseball on three teams throughout his career: the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Boston Braves from 1914 – 1935.

Career
Babe started wtih the Boston Red Sox in 1914. The New York Yankees bought the Bambino in 1919. He was a natural hitter significantly contributing to the Yankees’ seven pennants and four wins at the World Series.

Stats
Ruth’s life time batting average was 342, with 714 home runs, 2,873 hits and 2,217 runs batted in.

Personal Life
Babe Ruth was known for his Roaring Twenty lifestyle and was famous for his generosity. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Helen Woodford who died in a house-fire. His second marriage was to actress Claire Hodgson. He had two adopted daughters.

Legacy
In the promotion of excellence Major League Baseball gives the Babe Ruth Award to the best performing player in the World Series.

Mrs. Ruth and his daughters worked tirelessly after his death to create a foundation to memorialize Babe Ruth's life and career. They purchased the property known as Babe Ruth's Birthplace and renovated it into a Museum. The women selected items that defined Babe Ruth. Over the years other baseball memorabilia was contributed. Now, the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Foundation also houses the archives for the Baltimore Colts.

Read more:
http://baberuth.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Style


Always amazing to me is how some people choose to hold themselves back from happiness. The joy in life comes from living at the level you live. This is where happiness is found; when you live at the correct level for your actions.

This is a large topic because there are differences as we grow older, differences if we mature or stay immature. The differences impact the level of happiness we experience on a daily basis.

Innate to our human nature is the desire to be happy. Happiness is the proper state. When we are happy, we know this. People who experience unhappiness for a long period of time become depressed. Depression is a dysfunction. Even doctors realize that depression is something to be corrected. Although there are ways to correct depression and unhappiness that have long range effects rather than short term outcomes.

Happiness is the place where we realize that everything in life is just as it should be. We find ourselves smiling for no reason at all.

The question for people who realize they want to be happy and that at the moment they are not is how do we get happy, to this place of happiness? It is an inward journey but the journey happens when we practice principles and take action in our lives.

Moments on the Path of Solid Happiness: http://solidhappiness.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conscious Parenting


“You’re so calm,” she accused.

“Sometimes,” I answered.

“But you have three teenagers,” she studied my face.

“Yes,” I smiled, “they’re really fun to be around. I like them.”

“How did you do that?” she exclaimed.

“It’s a long story.” I said.

When we decided to have children, I made a statement that seemed innocent enough at the time but it was a pivotal moment in my life: “I want to raise them.” I hadn’t realized, we were stepping onto the path of conscious parenting. The philosophy demands a good deal of soul searching and choosing to expand the parent’s (my & my partner's) consciousness for the benefit of the children.

Contrary to the standard, we made parenting decisions based on desired outcome. Our goal was to form a family with intelligent, healthy, compassionate children. All decisions included the consideration ‘what’s best for the individual as they are a member of this family.’ Once you think about it, it really is a simple way of going about life, especially if you’re a parent.

Babies cry. They cry for a reason. It’s the parent’s job to find the reason and fix it. The check list is short: Is baby hungry? Is baby messy? Is baby hurt? Is baby lonely? Is baby tired? Contrary to expert advice, ignoring a crying baby is not okay. Besides, a crying baby is irritating, I prefer the cooing, cuddly kind. I discovered that when a child’s needs are met, they rarely cry.

I was known as an over-packer, even for short trips. A fully stocked diaper-bag, snacks, Sippy cups, a small cooler, extra change of clothes, blankets, toys, books and a first-aid kit. Why? Because when you have kids, things happen. My kids were happy campers because mom was mostly prepared.

The toddler years: I love the toddler years. It’s a really fun time because the entire world is WOW! Everything is new for the young ones. The parent’s job is simple. Toddlers want to explore. Parents need to ensure a safe environment. We decided to forgo the coffee table because rolling, crawling, walking, summersaults, building, and dancing, are just too important to be impaired by living room furniture.

One day, another toddler mom commented on my lack of trips to the emergency room. I never liked going to the emergency room. The anxiety and related indigestion that comes with hospital visits never really appealed to me. So I avoided the whole issue with a liberal use of “NO.” I observed that most “accidents” happened when parents were inattentive. So I watched them and stop them from doing things that would inevitably cause injury. Kids don't need to get injured to learn a lesson.

Elementary years: Many people were watching how this conscious parenting thing was going to go once the kids were in school. We reviewed our own school experiences; we reviewed current data about schools today. The evidence was overwhelming, arbitrary institutional rules prevented children from a variety of behaviours we felt stronly about encouraging in our children. The list included: No being allowed to attend to bodily functions in a timely manner, not being allowed to eat when hungry, segregation encouraged ageism, and there were limits placed on compassionate interactions. All these issues were counterproductive to our goal. There is no useful purpose to being publicly humiliated or slammed into a row of lockers. Large or small, every former school student has unnecessary scars. So we opted otherwise.

Teen years: Clearly, I wasn’t thinking when they were babies because when they were 1, 3 & 5, it didn’t occur to me that someday it would be 16,18 & 20. Of course, I could go on & on about all the things I love about them, the fun things they do; the interesting things they learn and share with me and each other. They make me laugh every day. That’s our experience with teen years.

But the question: “How did you do that?” is best answered by saying that raising kids, like living my life is one small decision after another.

http://www.consciouslyparenting.com/

http://www.namastepublishing.com/products/book/conscious-parent-book-shefali-tsabary/9781897238455

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Part goes to Girl with Costume


I love acting.

As a small child, many of us experience time on stage in school productions, choir or award ceremonies. I participated in these activities and enjoyed them.

But the experience that set everything apart was Hansel & Gretel. It was a queer version, written by a well-intentioned teacher that put a fairy godmother in the story. I was the that fairy godmother, probably the only fairy godmother Hansel & Gretel will ever have.

I looked and felt like the good witch, Glinda, in the Wizard of Oz, but the fairy version of course. The gown was made from one of my mother’s old dresses and embellished with sequins and ruffles. The wings were draped with gauze. My wand was caked with sparkly glitter that flew through the air anytime I waved it. It was magical.

The experience was profound for this ham-bone. The rest of the school year I was a fairy, floating around the play ground granting wishes, permission to use the restroom or go to the water fountain. The authority’s reprimand for overstepping my bounds is another story.

As much as I’m sure I was right for the part, that my acting ability surpassed the majority of my class, the truth about that part was that I had a costume. Well, I said I had a costume.

I showed my mother the note given by my teacher requiring the costume in a few weeks for dressed rehearsals. She said no. True to form, when my dad got home, I told him that I really wanted to be the fairy godmother. He asked my mother to take some time away from my toddler sisters to make a costume. She did. And all was right in my world.

I got the part.

This memory hadn’t come to mind until today when skimming through the audition announcements I found:

BRITISH QUEEN

Female, British accent, must own a costume worn by the British Queen.


So the truth about the theater remains: The part goes to the person with the costume.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ben Franklin's Post


Benjamin Franklin, the great philosopher, inventor and American patriot would likely develop a new vision to encourage and maintain the tradition of the post office and yet, conform or most probably exceed the demand for cost effective, customer service.

Mandated by Congress to serve every person with an address in the Union, the United States Post Office has through mismanagement after the privatization during the 1980s managed its way into a money-pit. Core service-first values were lost in bids to compete with retailers for collectables. Coloring books and other give-away items cost the Post Office millions of dollars in a bizarre bid to entice customers to use the service: the only standard letter service available.

Still, USPS operates better than most corporations with local delivery in one to two days. Other services require a week or more for to the door service.

Certainly, in a bid to look customer friendly, corporations would like the USPS to just go away. The fact that they encourage customers to receive email or online statements instead of printing saves them millions. Customers are left to download and print statements using printer, ink and paper. The cost cutting adds to bottom line profit of the corporation but increases costs to customers. Having USPS makes the large corporations look as cheap as they are providing substandard service to their revenue stream.

USPS could develop an innovative way to decrease cost to the citizens and provide better service. Perhaps, cease to offer volume discounts to the corporations who seek its demise.

In line with his historical personality, Ben Franklin would be pleased to find his post office providing 21st century service beating the battle of the powers that be (in his time, the monarchy – in our time, the corporations) to provide communication between the citizenry at a reasonable cost for the service.

Our forefathers were greatly independent of authority promoting the common good for citizenry as a priority. They were cautious of large organizations, even their own government with a recommendation for a complete overhaul, not just revision, every 20 years. Traditional organizations such as the Post Office were mandated to meet the needs of the people of the Nation which was why it was (until the 1980s), subsidized by the government.

United States Postal Service, Success or Failure…only the future will tell.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Restaurant Tweets

Attracting customers to a new restaurant takes more than just good food. Everything counts: food, service, location, parking, atmosphere and marketing. Marketing is more important than ever. If people don’t know about a restaurant, how can they get there?

The savvy restauranteur or manager knows that marketing is increasingly more important. The more people talk (or tweet) about the restaurant, the more will walk through the door. Word of mouth is very important to keep patrons coming back but how does a restaurant start to get the word out?

New restaurants have an added challenge of getting all their information to their perspective clientele. If the restaurant is new, how do the restaurant owner and manager get reviewed, develop excitement and create the thriving business? The answer is branding.

Branding experts work to increase the number of “views” on websites and advertisements. Increasing the number of times a restaurant is mentioned directly effects the number of customers. Including good reviews in a marketing campaign or on websites for restaurants is more important than ever. People do take the time to scroll through reviews to find out about the food and the service.

Three simple steps will increase business.

Step One: Get people to notice the restaurant
Step Two: Create excitement for the dining experience
Step Three: Provide such an excellent experience that customers consider it an event!

Consider all online branding to be the 21st century equivalent to signs and balloons of the last century.

Thank customers by giving them something extra. Thank your branding expert for increasing your exposure. And thank yourself for understanding it takes a team to create an excellent dining experience.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Shell Shock is not just a First World War condition, but is seen in modern day soldiers. Shell Shock, also called Combat Stress Reaction, Battle Fatigue, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Neurosis is an anxiety-based disorder most commonly caused by combat stress.

Shell Shock was first identified by an over activation of the startle reaction. There are three components to the set of symptoms: reactions, trouble sleeping and emotional disturbance.

In the first segment of symptoms, loud noises, quick motion and sudden bright lights may evoke an overreaction, jump or startled jerk. In the second segment, sleep disturbances may include an inability to fall asleep, nightmares or battle dreaming. In the third segment, irritability and snap anger can lead to unintended reactionary violence.

The term Shell Shock was first used by doctors to describe the intense symptoms of returning solders after the First World War in those that would otherwise be considered mentally stable.

Depending on the country and the particular war, the psychiatric community has referred to post-war emotional reactions in a variety of ways. The symptoms include all those described as Shell Shock but may include more symptomology and rate the degree of particular symptoms.

Russian doctors called the symptoms Traumatic Neurosis. They were among the first recognize the mental trauma resulting in autonomic responses to either traumatic combat or prolonged combat stressors.

The diagnosis of Combat Stress Reaction was popularized for military compensation claims after World War II included symptoms depression or melancholy as well as the jerking reflex. Many soldiers appeared to be deep in thought until startled from their mournful contemplation.

Another term for Shell Shock was Battle Fatigue added lethargy to the list of indicators. Returning soldiers with slowness of thought and reaction time (except when startled) as well as difficulty with prioritizing or creating a daily routine were diagnosed with this variant after World War II and other subsequent combat venues.

Since the Vietnam War ended, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder became the popular diagnoses for soldiers returning from combat. This diagnosis has undergone a redefinition to include anyone who has undergone a traumatic stress and exhibits enough of the symptoms to fit the category. For the purposes of military compensation claims Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has recently been given a particular time frame which limits the most intense symptoms for 90 – 120 day duration. After which the medical community has deemed the most appropriate term: Shell Shock.

It is not uncommon for returning soldiers to exhibit some symptoms of Shell Shock to a greater or lesser degree for the remainder of their lives. For this reasons military compensation claims should cover the cost treatment and provide the income to reduce daily stress so the soldiers have the time required to recover from their honorable, yet traumatic service.

Shell Shock by any other name includes an intense jump or jerk reaction to what would otherwise be common movements, sounds or lights within daily living. The added stress and anxiety creates a physical, involuntary reaction activating the fight or flight response which in all likelihood saved their lives in battle but creates social difficulties in civilian life.

If someone you know suffers from Shell Shock, there is an increased chance their diagnosis will be termed PTSD or Depression. With corrective therapy it is possible to overcome many of the symptoms and return to a functioning member of society.


** Thanks to the National Archive for the Photo of WWI soldiers crossing a bridge (c) 1918. http://www.archives.gov/

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GMC Died for Me


From time to time, life gives us curve balls. In my case, the curve was on a mountain road and the ball was a Jeep sliding out of control across the center divider and into the front end of my truck.

I could tell you the story of the ride to the hospital. I could tell you the story of the real cost of uninsured motorists. But I choose to tell you the story of the truck.

Selecting the GMC truck off the lot was an exciting day. The detail guys just finished vacuuming the carpet; the truck would never again be quite as pristine. The commitment to the payment was a biggy, even though this story pre-dates the early 21st century Depression-era.

The GMC transported my family, got me to work, and toted the groceries, dogs & supplies. Gas milage was as expected and the overall cost of maintenance was within budget. Of course, the price gas was in the $1.50 - $2.00 range. The CPA and I agreed, this was a good purchase. With a stroke of luck and lots of hard work, the truck fell into the asset column.

Until that fateful day, I hadn’t given much thought to the safety features. Until that day, I hadn’t thought about what a downward moving Jeep could do to my Sierra pick-up. Until that day, I hadn’t thought about the auto designers & engineers. Until that day, I hadn’t thought of how government safety regulations might save my life. I had only thought I drove a pretty truck.

My pretty GMC truck gave its life that day to save mine. I’m grateful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Autumn Changes


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower. ~ Albert Camus

Perhaps it's programmed in our human DNA or just a coincidence but Autumn brings changes to our situation, to our psyche. Summer, a time of activity, productivity and fun draws to a close. Autumn is a time of harvest. Traditionally, we prepare for the winter.

Opportunity comes in the quiet moments of Autumn mornings. It provides time to reflect on our position and what we need to do to make it through another winter. Moments of reflection used to motivate bring us to new levels of understanding, work to enhance our experience of the Harvest.

Celebrations through the millennia include gratitude for the abundance we find, for the promise of a warm hearth and home through the cold months and for camaraderie we've found through our summertime actions.

Moving forward with the flow of the season cycle keeps the balance in our lives. Including those who would like to join us brings delight in new ways. Placing effort and energy toward the solutions puts the dilemma of the moment in perspective.

Life is the promise of new and wonderful things ahead.

Check out a new and wonderful project, Solid Happiness at http://SolidHappiness.com Click to the blog for a 10 second thought-of-the-day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yummy, Sun Butter!


Sun Butter

Sunflowers like other weeds that yield food have a history of bring esthetic value to an otherwise dreary area. The sunflower has the habit of turning up in unusual places, sometimes unwanted but often to the delight of children and Nature’s admirers.

The Sunflower is native to the Americas, there is archeological evidence of Sunflower use dating to 2600B.C. It did not traveling to Europe until the 16th Century where it became immensely popular in the 18th Century.

As an annual, the sunflower grows best in moist fertile soil with heavy mulch. It grows best in full sun. Traditional gardens grow sunflowers within the combination of beans, corn , squash and sunflowers.

As a food, the sunflower seed is processed, roasted and salted. A favorite food in Germany, sunflower seeds are made into Sun Butter, similar to peanut butter. The seeds are a good source of protein.

Notes about Sunflowers:
In the US, Kansas is the sunflower state.
One of Van Gogh’s most recognizable paintings is Sunflowers.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Visionary Howard Hughes

http://howardhughescarroll.blogspot.com/
Born December 24, 1905, Howard Hughes was among the great visionaries who made the United States a great country. Granted he had personality quirks but what he did for America should be a blueprint to innovation and forward movement into a better future.

With the spirit for a great inventor, Howard Hughes dared to build experimental aircraft moving aviation to single wing planes, then to aerodynamic designs of the sleek aircraft we have today. Daring to buck the status quo, he sought to improve flight by hiring the best of the best and paying them particularly well often doubling their pay. He found that happy employees were able to produce remarkable innovations.

So forward thinking were the scientists and engineers brought together by Howard Hughes that we can only stand in awe of the company moving from rudimentary aircraft to Hughes Galileo Probe.

Read more about

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_D-2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_XF-11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_H-4_Hercules

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIM-120_AMRAAM

http://www.mrc.uidaho.edu/entryws/presentations/Papers/bienstock_pioneer%20venus%20and%20galileo%20probe%20history-final.pdf

Picture from http://howardhughescarroll.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 22, 2011

English Tea Quilt

My latest quilt is complete. I call it “English Tea.”

After selecting the material, cutting the fabric was one day. Sewing the quilt top was one day. Selecting the boarder fabric and adding was one day. Quilting was one day. Binding was one day. It was a total of five days work for this beautiful quilt.

The combining of fabrics to create a quilt is fabric art, an American women’s tradition. Privileged I’ve been to share a bit of my quilting experience with the next generation of girls who are interested in learning about the art, and the skills required. As with all women’s work, this too is undervalued and teaching a dying art brings nothing but smiles on the faces of the girls who conquer the skill and create their own fabric art.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: The Evolution of the American Dream


Title: The Evolution of the American Dream: How the Promise of Equal Opportunity became a Quest for Equal Results
Author: Bob Skandalaris with Amber Clark
2011: Auburn Hills, MI: Pembrook Publishing
Hardcover: pages 296

Bob Skandalaris provides a nice overview the history of the American Dream. He sets out the historical perspective from the New World to the 21st Century, what it is to dream the American Dream versus what it is to attain it. In short, the American Dream was within attainment for the average American in the 1940s -1950s. Since that time, it’s become increasingly difficult for subsequent generations to attain the dream as the dream is increasingly financial expensive. In the end, the author blames the common person for the dilemma even though he laid out the historical facts to take the ending in a different direction.

In the beginning, immigrants in the 1600s were looking for the New World, a place to make their name and bring back or create wealth. Most immigrants found a difficult and short life.

As the colonies came into existence, subsidy from the home country was vital in the outcome of the immigrants’ success. While there was room in the new land for business and expansion resources were required to build the infrastructure. Thoughtful men began to understand the resources of the New World were ripe for the picking and export back to the home land and investors.

Freedom and Justice in theory came from the Enlightenment movement started in Scotland. The movement spread around the globe with great speed especially considering the time required for correspondence. The time was right for men to use their minds to improve not only their own condition but to guarantee rights to each man.

The Gilded Age built wealth in a way that was never seen before. The number of men who came to disregard the enlightenment premise of fairness to all came to find that freedom for the rich allowed them to collect wealth for the express purpose to manipulate markets for a better personal position without regard for others or society.

Reinventing the Dream came as the general public tired of the few disregarding society at the expense of the many. The many began to come together to require the few to pay their proportional portion to the workers and the government. This was done through gathering and union negotiations and government regulations by ethical men (at least in comparison to the Robber Barons).

The Good Life was found through the promise of fair employment, social security and a guaranteed chance at future generations attaining at least as much as their parents. The Dream of education and home ownership increased. Americans worked harder to attain. Women joined men in the work place. Consumerism increased and the top few percent of people enjoyed the benefits of a happy society and increased productivity.

With the Reagan Revolution society changed the thought that anyone and everyone was worthy an unending share of the American Dream without personal effort. While the examples of fraudulent activities were few, the media created the thought that neighbors and others didn’t deserve the government help they requests. End result the 90% tax during the Eisenhower Administration which built American was set to decrease the burden on the richest in America and increase taxes on the middle and lower classes. With the propaganda that fair tax meant equal percentage of income tax regardless of the echelon of the taxpayer, the effect was a drastic decrease in government income which resulted in fewer regular jobs and less taxes. Twenty years the country was in serious trouble with only a dot com bubble to shield the population from the truth.

The last few chapters outline the austerity plan which blames the poor for being poor. It also asks the question to the middle class why should you be worth food, housing and health care?

While I liked historical context of the book, I profoundly disagree with the direction and questions the book takes at the end. It would serve the reader better to ask questions about the solution rather than questions that lay blame with the average person outside the realm of responsible party in the larger American economic field. The countless sums of money lost by the average person in the loss of home values, the loss of employment, the loss of retirement funds, the increase in energy costs, the increase in financial fees, the increase in food, and the increase in health care costs while bankers and investment people thrive hardly supports the supposition that the average person is to blame.

Rich immigrants come to America, buy houses, cars, and businesses. The American Dream is available and for sale to the rich of the world. The question needs to be: is the American Dream available for the less fortunate, the homeless, the tired, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free who are already here? If so, how does America restructure to offer the Dream to the average person again? If not, who’s responsible and what do we do without a dream or hope?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: The Whole Brain Path to Peace


Title: The Whole-Brain Path to Peace: The Role of Left and Right Brain Dominance in the Polarization and Reunification of America

Author: James Olson

Publisher: Origin Press, PO Box 151117, San Rafael, CA 94915

2011: 235 pages, Hard cover.

James Olsen is a former farmer and Christian church deacon from Missouri. Beginning with a conservative Christian point of view, he strives to use science and Eastern philosophies to blend a new perspective of integrative thought into a unique path to peace.

The book is divided into three parts: Universal Fundamentals Who We Are and What We See, Theory: How Perspective and Dominance Produce Polarization, and Application: Perspective’s Influence on Culture.

In the beginning there is the brain. The brain has a dominant functional path: right or left. Using basic philosophy of neuroscience to explain right brain dominance, a naturally whole thinker versus left brain dominance, a naturally compartmentalized thinker, Mr. Olsen seeks to explain why women and men are basically different.

He presupposes brain dominant function is gender biased rather than culturally or educationally taught. Although he offers the caveat that both men and women or right and left brain dominant people can learn to integrate other brain-sidedness through education. In most cases, this would be seen as women changing their natural right brain views to include left brain values.

Through a series of examples, Mr. Olsen argues the overall male dominance of the left-brain compartmentalized thinking dominating culture over the millennia has culminated in the world’s cultures we see today. Rather than choosing to get along, men basically defend their territory and seek to expand their beliefs and culture into other areas.

A world survey for "Global Peace" places the United States between 80 – 95 in ranking out of 121 countries when ranking from the most peaceful to the least peaceful societies. Norway, Finland and other Scandinavian countries rank in the top 10. Iraq ranked last in 2008 & 2009 surveys.

Toward the end of the book, the author debates ideas such as truth is internally harmonious. Beliefs about God may be juxtaposed: God is Love versus God sends people to Everlasting Hell. Mr. Olsen agrees that these issues must be resolved in some way. He suggests that by integrating both sides of the brain processes that these issues may be resolved.

The Whole Brain Path to Peace is an ambitious book blending portions of Eastern thought with traditional conservative Christian belief. There is much to learn from World cultures. Perhaps, incorporating more whole thought into our culturally compartmentalized thinking may help bring about world peace. Certainly, individual blending of right and left brain dominance will open new opportunities to share love and peace on a personal level with our neighbors.




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Water Wishes

Guardian water spirits bless each place they reside. People instinctually know that giving gifts to the water brings good back to them. Following that simple instinct is the reason for many places of open water, ponds and wishing wells are filled with coins and other gifts to the sprites, nymphs or deities.

Since ancient times, legends agree the blessings of the water spirits are truly worth making the wish and tossing the coin.

Celtic and Germanic people of Ancient Western Europe believed water was a gift from the gods, wells and waterways were sacred. Norse legend tells that Odin rode to Mimir’s Well to seek wisdom.

More recently, Saint Catherine is associated with wishing wells and wishing for a husband. Drop one coin with each line of the wish…

A husband Saint Catherine
A handsome one Saint Catherine
A rich one Saint Catherine
And soon Saint Catherine
Amen ;)

Whatever you wish for… wish well!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday


Kinderfeste or Kid’s Party celebrated birthdays of children, not just nobility, beginning in the 19th Century. The tradition spread throughout the world and was particularly embraced with the 1893 musical composition, “Happy Birthday to You.”

Societal acknowledgement that every child is special lead to the thoughts that children and childhood should be preserved as a time for education and play rather than reduced cost labor or child labor of the earlier eras. The progressive thoughts were championed at the turn of the twentieth century with protesters marching with signs “Abolish Child Slavery” in New York City parades.

In more affluent counties, children grown into adults continue to celebrate the yearly anniversary of their birth. This move to annual celebrations supports the retail culture in the desirability, if not requirement to either celebrate with co-workers & friends at a local eatery/bar or host a party complete with dinner, dessert and gifts.

While I celebrate a special birthday today, not mine. Our celebration is subdued in remembrance of the young military people (just out of their kinder years) away from home today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The NEW Customer Service

Your business is important to us, please hold. Currently, your wait time will be 2 minutes. Your business is important to us, please hold. All of our relationship managers are busy, please hold. Your business is important to us, please hold. All of our customer service representatives are busy, please hold. Your business is important to us, please hold. Press zero to speak with an operator. Your business is important to us, please hold. Press one for English, press two for Spanish, press three for Chinese. Your business is important to us, please hold. A customer service representative will be with you in 7 minutes. Your business is important to us, please hold. Press one to review your account. Your business is important to us, please hold. If you would like to pay your bill, press three. Your business is important to us, please hold. All representatives are busy, please go to www dot we couldn’t care less about our customers dot com. Your business is important to us, please hold. Your wait time is now 3 minutes. Your business is important to us, please hold. If you would like to return an item, please hold. Our relations specialists will be with you in a moment. Your business is important to us, please hold. If you would like to place an order, please go to our store location or visit our website. Your business is important to us, please hold. Our customer care managers will be right with you. Your business is important to us, please hold. If you would like to know more about your account, please visit our web site. If you would like to discuss an error on your bill, please hold. Your business is important to us, please hold. You are next in the service queue; a service associate will be with you shortly. We are sorry but you have exceeded the wait time, please call back when a customer service representative is available.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Precious Little Boy

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was very precocious. Rarely, did he sit still, he was very curious indeed. He loved to learn new things. He laughed at the way the water bounced on the sidewalk. He danced with the butterflies and bees. He talked to his dog about the beautiful sky. And sometimes, he brought flowers home to his grandmamma.

At the age of three, he started writing. He learned to write his name. He wrote his name everywhere, even on the wall which wasn’t a good thing, but he did spell it correctly. He read everything with words: junk mail, signs and cereal boxes.

One day he discovered there was a place where he could learn more. He could learn about math and writing and the wonders of the world. He was very excited about this new place of wonder. It was a place called school.

Finally, the day came, the little boy was very excited about learning even more things about the world; he was excited to go to school.

When he arrived, he was told to sit in a chair and not to move until the bell rang. Luckily, he sat near a window so he looked out to the world. When the teacher noticed he was gazing out the window, the little boy was given a note for his parents that said he wasn’t paying attention.

The next day, he was given a new seat away from the window near the hamster cages. He watched the hamster run on the wheel and he talked to the hamster about how much he liked running. When the teacher noticed he was talking to the hamster, he was given a note that he was disruptive.

The next day, he was given a new seat in the middle of the class. By now the other children noticed he was a problem child, so they teased him and pushed him and pulled on his hair. He yelled at the mean kids and hit them back. When the teacher noticed, he was given a note that said he didn’t know how to get along with others.

The next day, he thought he would bring flowers to his teacher. He didn’t understand why he was the only child given a note each day, but he sensed it wasn’t good. As he walked to school he saw a variety of flowers, so he gathered one of each kind. There was a daisy and an iris, a lily and a rose.

He waited by the door for the teacher to show him to his seat, it had changed so many times he wasn’t sure where to sit. When the teacher approached, he held out the flowers. The teacher took them and placed the flowers on her desk. The teacher placed him in a chair in the corner facing the wall.

That afternoon, the teacher gave her a note that said he destroyed property and was not welcome at school until he learned how to behave.

That night, the little boy’s mother and father discussed what they should do with their little boy. They decided perhaps he wasn’t ready to behave like the other children. They liked him better laughing at the water bouncing, dancing with the butterflies and bringing flowers to his grandmamma.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have you eaten your Roses today?

Not only are roses beautiful but they contain significant amounts of vitamin C.

In the 19th century, small town doctors prescribe roses as a regular remedy. The apothecary rose was a frequent suggestion for home treatment of common ailments such as stomach disorder, diarrhea, constipation, gallbladder & kidney problems, gout, fever and exhaustion.

Long standing philosophical traditions find Rose garlands strewn around altars of Gods and Goddesses. The rose was one of the flowers which had cross culturally represented love and health throughout the World. Many are the brides who held roses in their bouquet as they entered into marriage with the well-wishes of life-long health and love.

It stands to reason that the ancients understood the relationship between the beautiful flower and its health giving properties. The flowers’ fragrance provides for a method of relaxation. The beauty and cultivation of the flower offers tranquility for all to behold. The internal properties of the flower, in the rose hip, offer to the health practitioner a potent and reliable source of immunity boosting properties.

The following is a brief review of the versatility of the Rose.

Rose petals make a light and fragrant tea which settles stomach upset and provides a soothing aroma.

Rose hips in vitamin form offers an extra boost for people needing to fend off colds and fevers.

Rose jams and jellies offer sweetness and vitamin C to boost children’s immunity to the everyday ails found in most daycare and school institutions.

Rose water is added to ice cream and cookies in the Middle East to give added flavor.

Rose water also adds moisture to skin preparations, Middle Eastern and European traditions.

French chefs add Rose syrup made from rose petal extract to pastries.

Chinese apothecaries are among the few practitioners who still use this remedy for stomach ailments.

As all things go full circle, scientists harkened back to a more intuitive time and are testing rose and rose hips in the treatment of some cancers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Re-discovering Home Birth

At the turn of the 20th Century, 95% of US women birthed at home, attended by a doctor or a midwife. By mid-1950s approximately 1% of women birthed at home. During the 1970s a home birth revival movement began with women realizing that births, in fact, most births don’t require hospitalization.

In the second decade of the 21st Century, a growing number of women are staying home to birth their babies. So many that the movement has reached main stream media. One news source recently reported a 20% increase in home birth.

As any woman who have had a baby in the hospital will tell you, the experience is turned into a medical procedure with clinicians coming & going, medical intervention (and increased insurance billing) just moments away regardless of the situation.

Women are questioning the medical involvement in birth and many are choosing to forgo the unnecessary procedures for a natural birth. The best way to insure the least amount of medical intervention is to skip the trip to the hospital.

Certainly this is not a promotion for risky behavior. If there are complications involved, by all means get the help needed. But be aware of the statistics.

C-sections are more likely to happen in the hospital. Depending on the particular hospital c-sections are 30 – 60% of births. Home-births with complications requiring transport and c-section are 3% of births.

Attendance in a hospital is often the floor nurse and the on-call physician unless you keep a appointment with a scheduled birth. You’re likely not to know anyone in the room behind the many masks that come and go.

With a home-birth the midwife attends the mother until & through the birth. In most cases, unless there an another birth, the midwife stays for a while after the baby arrives to insure a good start for mother and baby.

Cost for homebirth is a $3,000 - $4,000 for a midwife including all the pre-natal and post-natal visits. OB-GYN attended hospital births start at $10,000 and only go up.

As for this author:

Three of my four children were born at home. I believe each woman needs to educate herself to decide how she wishes to birth her babies.

I had a horrible and completely unnecessary c-section experience in 1981 at age 18. When I found I was pregnant in 1991 at age 28, I did my homework & decided to have my baby at home. It was difficult to find a midwife who would help with a VBAC but well worth the research and interviewing. There was no comparison between the two experiences. So it was easy to decide to have my subsequent children in the comfort of my own home.

Resources:

Feminist Breeder
http://thefeministbreeder.com/
Home Birth Kits
http://homebirthkits.com/
WIC
http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/breastfeeding/mainpage.HTM
La Leche League
http://www.llli.org/

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sheperd's Pie / Cottage Pie


Recently, I’ve been privileged to write not one but two articles about Shepherd’s Pie. Rarely, do I track the location of ghosted articles, so I decided to stick with the theme and write the true story about real Shepherd's Pie, as it appears and is eaten, in our house.

The history of Shepherd’s Pie begins in Ireland with sheep herders and potato farmers teaming up to make Meat Pie. This protein rich pie was filling and as history records: Potatoes were definitely in the daily diet of most Irish people. This dish dates to the pre-famine era.

The British enjoyed the Meat Pie but renamed it Cottage Pie.

In the 1870s, Shepherd’s Pie was printed in an American cookbook. As with all things American the pie not only grew in size but also in the number of ingredients. Today, cooks can find any number of regional “Traditional” Shepherd’s Pie with few calling for the original ingredient, Lamb.

In my vegetarian kosher kitchen, you’ll find neither meat, nor gluten in this incredibly yummy and filling dish. So what do I put in my Cottage Pie?

Ingredients

8 - Potatoes
2-slices of Butter
Dash of Kosher Salt
Splash of Milk
Cook 'em. Mash ’em. Set them aside.

In the skillet over medium heat:
Olive Oil
Large Onion
5-6 cloves of minced garlic
12 oz Bag of Meatless Sausage or Meatless Balls

Turn the heat to low and add the veggies:
10 oz Bag of Organic Peas & Carrots
10 oz Bag of Organic french beans/spinach
4- Diced Tomatoes
½ cup Vegetable Broth
½ cup Tomato Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

My Cottage Pie bakes in a Quiche dish because it’s larger than a regular pie pan.

First, coat the bottom of the pan with butter or non-stick spray. Then place a thin layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan and bake it for 5 minutes or so, until it seems firm. If I don’t do this the bottom of the pie can be squishy when served.

Pulling the pie pan from the oven, I pour everything form the skillet into the pie shell, and then cover with the mashed potatoes. I like to sprinkle cheese and wheat germ on top.

Bake 45 minutes. If you prefer you may bake @ 375 F for 30 minutes.

Cottage Pie is incredibly filling. Don’t let the kiddos eat it too fast because it expands.

Warning: Cottage Pie uses many pans and the baking dish in the preparation which in my house is a determining factor in menu selection. But everyone loves it so much I do serve it as a winter savory.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: The Disease of More: One Woman’s 25-Year Recovery from Alcohol and Food Addiction


Eleanor story, The Disease of More: One Woman’s 25-Year Recovery from Alcohol and Food Addiction provides a testimony to the excesses available in American society, how far a person can push those excesses and yet be redeemed to have a full and affluent life.

Eleanor begins with her past, her family’s history in the Hispanic community. She documents her father’s drink problem. In spite of not wanting to live like her parents, she found herself imitating the less desirable traits her father exhibited. Her personal story includes child-rape-molestation and incest that influenced many of her choices.

Somehow she was able to graduate college and applied for college scholarships which were available to her. She moved across the country to attend school and get away from her problems, but her problems continued as did her drinking and eating.

Eleanor came to the realization that she wasn’t going to finish school unless she got her drinking under control. She started going to AA meetings and found continuous sobriety helpful in her academic and personal life.

Once a lawyer, she obtained a fabulous job in the Bay Area, met her husband and began a great life. Still she was eating at an amazing pace. She found after many years of trying to control her weight. She found that she created issues with her family to cover her over-eating. She found that many similar issues she had with drinking were also applicable to her eating. The only difference being that total abstinence isn’t possible with food. One must eat.

Eleanor found her salvation in a 12-step program for food which helps her remain accountable for her calories. She lost the weight she wanted and now lives a pleasant life with her husband and children.

Eleanor’s story is a contemporary version of the stories found in 12-step books and literature. It shows that if we or a loved one has a problem, there is help available to get whatever the problem, alcohol or food, under control and move on to a full and happy life.

Resources:

Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.aa.org

Food Addict Anonymous http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/

Alanon For Family and Friends http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dog First-Aid Kit 'Cuz Ya Never Know


Well-meaning intensions aside, procrastination can be profoundly revealed when a pet is injured. My story is simple: my pets never get injured, so why have a first aid kit? Because never can turn into rarely in a blink of an eye.

My little dog has a small head. She can poke her head through the fence to gaze at the neighbor’s beautifully manicured and dog-free yard. The rest of Tippy, the little dog is too wide to make it through the fence. My neighbor, an older lady actually likes to talk with Tippy. So I figured no harm, no foul.

Until one day when Tippy’s ear got caught on the fence as she pulled her head back through. It is amazing how much blood is in a dog ear. There was blood all over the yard, blood all over Tippy, and when I went to help, blood all over me.

I won’t keep you in suspense. It was a flesh wound, no stitches required but it was a mess.

Had I had a dog first aid kit, things might have been less messy. Instead, I was yelling at child one and child two to look in the various household cupboards for gaze, for tape, for antiseptic.

End result: I’ve made a list for the dog first-aid kit and will keep it readily available for the potential future occurrence. Now that I’m prepared I do hope we’ll just return to the “my dog never gets hurt” status.

Dog First Aid Kit

Muzzle (even when they love you, they nip when you make their ouch worse)
Roll of Gauze
Gauze Squares
Non-stick Pads
First-aid tape
Vet-wrap/bandage roll
Sterile Saline Solution
Tube of Antiseptic
Scissors
Tweezers
Cotton Balls
Cotton Swabs
Gloves
Pet Carrier
Leash
Cold Paks
Heat Paks
Syringe
Pliers
Thermometer
Pedialyte
Bitter Apple Product (to discourage licking)
Vet’s phone number

For humans
Band-aids
Sterile Saline
Antiseptic cream
Doctor’s phone number


Diane Harrison of Wild Side Kerry Blues sent this message.

"Great article! Things to add to your dog first aid kit: Benedryl (for bug bites, stings, hot spots and any allergic reactions. and very good to use to calm your dog down), Tagamet,(great for large breed dogs that can or get, gastric torsion aka: Bloat) Tums, Aspirin, Clavamox (a very good antibiotic that you could get from your Veterinarian. Any good Vet will sell this to you if you tell him/her it's for your dog first aid kit) Pedialyte is great, but so you won't have to worry about it going bad, get an Electrolyte powder. Gold bond powder, Kwik Stop Powder, Super Glue, And a Bulb syringe. Just my 2 cents worth! :-)

For more information about Kerry Blue Terriers:
http://www.wildsidekerryblues.com/contact.html

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Sunstruck


Title: Sunstruck
Author: Mayra Calvani
Cover Art: Debi DeSantis
2011: Zumaya Embraces: imprint of Zumaya Publications
236 pages
ISBN: 978-1-934841-18-1
Print: $14.99
Kindle: $6.99
Nook: $6.99

Sunstruck opens in sweltering San Juan, Puerto Rico giving the reader an instant taste of the exotic island. Mayra Calvani describes the sights, sounds and smells of this tropical city as only a native Puerto Rican can.

Daniella is a student with a taste for artistic and amazingly handsome men. Unfortunately, the men are as broke as they are handsome and as dysfunctional as they are artistic. Still she can’t seem to help herself. She emotionally bounces back and forth between her ex-husband and her new boyfriend.

She just doesn’t see what Ismael sees in his new old wife, Irene. Lady Dracula, as Daniella dubs her, is just creepy. And Ismael has lost his zest for life and the coloring from his face. Daniella worries about him, his new marriage and his new enterprise.

Tony’s success is all wrapped up with the art gallery crowd of which Lady Dracula is a main player, of course. Daniella loves Tony. Tony says he loves Daniella but he hates her cat. It’s a bad sign.

Daniella knows she should concentrate on her studies but she just can’t help wanting to go to the party that may bring Tony some recognition. She dresses in the cutest little dress, but Tony hardly notices her, he’s too involved with his paintings and with himself.

Once at the party things really start to heat up. Ismael is jealous of Tony, on the inside, but helpful to his career on the outside. It’s the usual love to hate the ex’s new mate unhealthily enmeshed story. Yet, Daniella and Ismael can’t see themselves back together either.

The party gets really weird when Lady Dracula enters the room. She has an obsession for antique torture devises. She is also fabulously wealthy, so nearly anything goes.

The psychological intrigue keeps this novel's pages turning. It’s a quick 200+ page book or e-book that evokes tingles, chills, and nervous laughs, all in the middle of a delightful story of a truly likable naïve young woman.

Without a spoiling the ending, I will say it is satisfying.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Surprise Doll

The Surprise Doll
Author: Morrell Gipson
Artist: Steffie Lerch
©1949

Forward thinking children’s books come from all eras. Even though this book written in the 1940s, before the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, it is an excellent example of the understanding that we humans are more alike than different.

One girl wants a special doll. She visits a doll maker with the hope that she will have a doll for each day of the week. She has to leave her dolls with the toy maker. She misses her dolls.

When she returns to the toy maker on the appointed day, her surprise doll has qualities of each of her dolls. I won’t give away the biggest surprise.

This is one of my personal favorites. My father used to read it to me often. When I read it to my kids, I can remember the sound of his voice like an echo, “just like me.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Value of Volunteering


The value of Volunteering in life is directly relational to the project to which we volunteer. Volunteering for a mandated number of hours has its value, perhaps to alleviate some penalty. This volunteering is good but it’s not out of desire to do good works, it’s from the desire to avoid penalty.

Volunteering as a responsibility to our community or out of desire just to be of service creates the most value because the motivation is positive to positive. The positive, not avoiding penalty plus the positive of the action creates a greater good.

Particular to this thought is the need for mentors, whether the mentorship within a business situation or for youth in the community. Mentors or Masters are necessary so society moves forward. If the new or young people to a trade or craft are always reinventing the wheel, we as society fail to move forward from our current status.

4H was introduced a little over a hundred years ago via the University Extension Services to help boys with growing crops and girls with canning produce. Since that time 4H has expanded into all areas of farm and animal husbandry as well as technology, science, art, crafts, public speaking, theater arts, and more.

I am privileged to mentor several girls through the learning process of quilting. This uniquely American textile art which was once part of most women’s creative outlet has waned in the last 50 years.

Recently, there has been increased interest in the art. With few mentors in the craft, I’m pleased to share the joy of creating beautiful and useful items.

It came to my attention that many volunteer projects are creating a difficulty by taking what was a paid position and making it a volunteer job or internship. I’m not taking anyone’s job by volunteering in this way. In fact, much of what was considered women’s work, aka unpaid, is just not done. The field is wide open to volunteer in what past centuries labeled as women’s work. These venues of volunteerism are still available, still necessary. They are the fabric of our society.

The fact is many of the ways in which our foremothers related with one another, supported each other and the greater society are just what we find lacking in today’s world. It could be considered nostalgic by the uncreative, but I beg to differ. The remnants of a once great textile industry are ready for resurgence but we need society to value the creation of hand-made items as well as the value the volunteers who pass on such knowledge.

4H is an excellent program for youth. It provides learning experience for young people in a many different fields of knowledge. It also provides the opportunity to share sports, crafts, gardening, animal and technological knowledge with the next generation.

http://www.4-h.org/

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Good Omen: Ladybug

When a good omen visits, it’s nice to tell nature or the world thank you for sending the message of balance this day.

Ladybugs are good omens. Since the Middle Ages, ladybugs have been connected with saving crops from being overrun by other insects.

Depending on your local history, Ladybugs may be responsible for predicting how much money you’ll have, how many children you’ll have, a cure for tooth aches or improvement of your overall health. But no matter where you live, it’s considered bad luck to kill a ladybug.

Some of the amazing fact about ladybugs includes: Ladybugs are beetles. There are at least 400 different kinds of ladybugs in North America and nearly 5,000 different varieties around the world.

Without the ladybug we’d be overrun with aphids. Aphids are a favorite food of the ladybug. Contrary-wise, Ladybugs are not a favorite food to any predator. They release a chemical so they don’t taste very good.

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home
Your house is on fire,
Your children are gone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Horseradish: Herb of 2011

Horseradish, known is scientific circles as Armoracia rusticana is a close relative to broccoli, cabbage and mustard. It grows as high as 5 feet (1.5 meters) with large leaves and beautiful white flowers.

Best When Used: The Horseradish root is best use when freshly broken providing the most pungent of tastes and unique aroma.

Myth: Ancient Greek myth states the horseradish root is worth its weight in gold for the myriad of medicinal uses. These medicinal applications were commonly used through the Renaissance period.

Good Health: Horseradish contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C.

Medicinal Use: Known to herbalists through the ages as a diuretic, Horseradish is used in treatment of minor health problems such as urinary tract bronchitis, coughs, infections, and sinus infection. Recent biochemical research reports Horseradish kills harmful bacteria and has an immuno boosting constituent.

Growing: The root grows better in a sunny area. Plant the root immediately in a moist hole twice as large as the root itself. Keep the area moist but not soggy wet. Add compost two or three time per growing season. Horseradish grows into zone 5. Harvest in the autumn after the first frost for the most pungent flavors.

Landscape: Horseradish is used as a border accent flowering plant.

Recipe:

Granny’s Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup horseradish
1/8 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp mustard
1 bunch chopped chives.

Blend together. Pour over steak or seafood.

Food Uses:

Breakfast: Scramble 1-tsp in with scrambled eggs.
Lunch: Add ½ tsp to mayonnaise on a sandwich.
Dinner: Use Granny’s Sauce with abandon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gerenuk


Watching Gerenuk (genus: Litocranius) eat is a calming experience. The East African antelope also known as the giraffe-necked antelope have a beautifully muscular, yet slender body. Their movement is delightfully graceful.

Indigenous to the African continent, it may be surprising that the Gerenuk are picky eaters. They tend to select the juiciest leaves available, leaving the rest behind.

Nature has uniquely situated these elegant animals at just the right height for the best food selection: fruit, flowers and leaves. Taller than the most gazelles, their selection is greater and higher on the bush or tree than their smaller food competitors. Since they average 4-5 feet in length, they are far smaller than giraffes that graze further up the tree.

Male Gerenuk have horns, females do not. They are otherwise very similar in size, shape and coloring. Both the male and the female stand on their hind legs to feed.

A well-cared for Gerenuk can live up to 13 years in captivity, while the average lifespan in the wild is only 8 years.

Watch and learn more about Gerenuk: http://www.lazoo.org/animals/mammals/gerenuk/

Sunday, April 24, 2011

American Quilts

Some of the oldest quilted items in museums today are in Egypt and Sicily, these items were created in their entirety. What makes American quilts unique is that women created them out of bits and pieces utilizing scraps which later developed into the American Quilt we know today.

Each quilt begins with a variety of color complimentary fabrics which allows the quilter to imagine patterns and designs to create a unique item. Handmade, each quilt has variations which can be delightfully individual and hopefully pleasing to the eye.

A remnant for the aesthetics movement, quilts are both useful and beautiful. Depending upon the level of detail in the design and the skill of the quilter, quilts can be created in as little as a few hours.

Creating sample miniature designs hearkens back to an era when large Manors were first made in miniature for architectural approval. If approved by the Master then the miniature house was finished and given to the children as a house warming gift.

Small samples of larger items were also created as sales aids throughout the frontier era. A smaller version of large equipment or furniture designs traveled with the sales men by train across the country. Salesmen sent orders back East for the full-size version.

Today, as I completed one section of a full size quilt, I noticed the scraps were large enough to create a miniature just right for a toy-size comfort quilt.



Resources for Dollhouses and Miniatures: http://www.achildatheart.com/

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rebellion


Revolt, uprising, insurgence, upheaval, mutiny, revolution, by any other name it’s still rebellion. For the most part, it doesn’t exist within my home. My spouse, my children and I pretty much get along, with disagreements, sure, but rebellion, no.

We, the parents haven’t created the environment from which our children wish to rebel. The dynamic has created an ever changing and interesting experiment in human development.

Old thoughts: As a youth growing up in a difficult household, I rebelled. While everyone said they were surprised, no one was surprised, there would have been something wrong if I hadn’t rebelled. The dynamics created in that house were of conflict, argument/debate, picking on and putting down. Rebellion was mentally healthy. How it all rolled out, maybe not so healthy. But I've done the work to put it in perspective and correct my errors.

New thoughts: When our three were little. I remember looking at each of them and thinking, I don’t want my children to have all that conflict in their lives that I had growing up. Then I had a thought: wouldn’t it be nice if we had a house where we got along, where we have love and mutual respect.

Matching my actions with my desired goal has provided a space for our kids to be kids without conflict. As young adults, they have a home that is not a battleground, so there is no reason to rebel.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Life and Spirit in the Quantum Field

Title: Life and Spirit in the Quantum Field: spirit is real, feelings rule and other adventures in quantum life
Author: Doug Bennett
Publisher: Take Charge Books Brevard, North Carolina
ISBN: 978-0-9815818-1-1
357Pages, Soft Cover
Price: $19.99
Kindle: $8.99
http://dougbennettsquantumlife.com/

Life and spirit in the Quantum field begins with basic Newtonian philosophy the foundation of our current science structure then builds into Quantum mechanics. From quantum mechanic explanation and the workings of the quantum field Doug Bennett launches into scientific explanation of the unseen world usually the territory of the parapsychologists or religious clerics.

The building blocks of science concepts provide the equations to support the hologram which was an entirely new concept less than a century ago. Holograms are everywhere. How a hologram is and isn’t in time and space lends the mechanism to leap to the quantum field understanding.

The promise of a scientific revolution presents new possibilities for the remedy to the centuries old philosophic schism between the seen and unseen world. Measurable experiments show that light and life are intertwined. The ultra violet rays help the seed sprout. Without light the seed remains inert. Life as a quantum process explains how energy moves into the unseen world to spout the seed in the seen world.

In very scientific language, the practices of faith healing or intuitive experience are explained in quantum energy terminology which potentially can move the open-minded skeptic from their comfort zone into the provable yet scientifically denied realities.

Inner work or psychotherapy coupled with spiritual practice can heal the subconscious to align the conscious analytical mind with the emotional intuitive self.

Putting together the two parts of self in a logical process the science minded can be brought to understanding other spiritual concepts such as the soul, ghosts, heaven, hell and the after life.

Bringing the subject full circle through the final link to religion and the spiritual practices of the ages, the mysteries of unseen world can be explained through scientific methodology. Eastern thought accepts the positive and negative of energy. We have the ability to direct thought to particular ends. Documentation of experiments explain what yogi Masters have known for millennia.

The Life and Spirit in the Quantum Field brings science and philosophy into harmony with both disciplines explaining life from different perception perspectives. The exciting part is that there is no longer the taboo that each field must stay on one side opposed to the other discipline. The promise is the wholeness of understanding life, seen and unseen.

Doug Bennett does an excellent job explaining otherwise difficult concepts for the layperson to understand. Clearly, the scientific audience will be able to move to a whole perspective by following the argument from cover to cover. People familiar with healing energy work will learn about the laboratory language that describes the truth in their daily work.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review: A Boomer's Guide to Chronic Pain

Title: A Boomer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: The Ultimate Resource for Practical, Effective Advice on How to Live a Full and Active Life While Managing Chronic Pain.
Author: Dr. Michael J. Kaye
Publisher: BookWise Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60645-070-3
Price: $15.95
Soft Cover, 190 pages
URL: www.aboomersguidetochronicpain.com

Dr. Michael Kaye writes an excellent advice book for people with chronic pain. He eloquently tells the story of impact of chronic pain on the lives of the aging population and provides suggestions for overcoming the most dreadful components of debilitating painful conditions.

All pain isn’t the same. Pain management is different for each person who experiences pain. Some people find that injuries in their teen years come back to haunt them. Other people develop painful health conditions. Dr. Kaye’s step by step approach isn’t just his medical advice; he suffers from chronic pain too.
Readers may take the portions of advice and apply what they will as best they can to improve their quality of life. The advice explains the quickest way to resolve issues as they arise. Preparation and life style changes toward healthful living are essential to come to terms and live with chronic pain.

Gathering trusted health providers and a support network outside your immediate family is essential. While your loved ones do care, they can get burned out. Take your complaints to the proper place and develop a network of helpful professionals and support people who will keep the focus on improvement rather than the suffering.
Subjects covered in the book include: diet, exercise, energy, relationships, money management, fun, sex, work, and education which weaves into a comprehensive plan for individual pain management. Dr. Kaye presents each subject with real people, real life examples from his practice. He offers suggestions that improve life regardless of pain status.

I enjoyed Dr. Kaye’s no-nonsense style of writing. He explained the overall dilemma chronic pain suffers have with the medical system. Increasing pain medication may not always be the answer for patients but it takes most people a long time to figure out they aren’t getting their real needs met.

I highly recommend this book, not only for boomers but anyone who suffers or knows someone who suffers from chronic pain. Buy this book, read it, apply it and live better.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Has It Really Been a Year?


Some call it reflection, others call it inventory: I think it’s just a part of moving forward in life: Review.

Periodically, my mind reviews a particular segment of life: Work, Relationships, Location, Health and Inner Stuff. When I started this process in earnest more than 25 years ago, I followed direction to put it on paper. Through the years the need to put things to paper decreases as the problem to solution or goal to fruition methodology has become ingrained within my neuro-net. So ingrained is this that it would better be described as a continuing stock inventory system rather than a yearly goal setting session.

So it was not surprising when there is a “problem” my brain goes into hyper-drive to find a solution. This trait, call it Type-A personality or liken it to the Rabbit character in Winnie-the-Pooh, is helpful at minimizing situations so that they never become real problems.

The demarcation for this particular inventory came quickly in that it’s been a year since my last cross country move. Logical to look at the state of things/life, as the dust has settled and scramble has turned to routine.

Work ~ this year has marked more regular writing work than ever. With more than 50 ghosted articles sold and a regular technical writing gig, I’m pleased with the quality and the level of output. The downside is the ridiculously low pay. My son said yesterday, “That’s great money for 1856!” and he’s correct.

Relationships ~ really the key to a happy life are the people around. It may be old age creeping up on me hopefully, just wisdom probably a bit of both. But honestly, if it’s difficult, I’m really not interested. Relationships are so much better when they’re easy. Things are easy if everyone is polite.

I’ve noticed there are two kinds of people, probably more but for this example there are two: the kind of person that accepts an apology and the kind of person that continues to tell you how awful you are after you apologize.

Disrespect just leads to hard feelings, or in tough places, mortal peril. Personally, I choose to be polite for social cohesion. It’s easier to navigate situations if everyone cooperates and is forthright. I know, some would say I’m trying to live on Cloud Nine. And I would reply: If Cloud Nine requires manners then, yes. I require good behavior from myself when I make a mistake, I apologize and so expect the same from others.

Then of course, there are the people with whom I have no business being around. Take my ex, please! Seriously, we are ex, we don’t talk, we aren’t friends. If people ask me why? He's my ex, duh... Those who knew us should attest that the world is a happier place for the distance between us. After a number of years, I had a dream where I discovered he was doing really well. I woke really hoping the dream was true that he was doing well. I don’t know if he is or isn’t. It’s none of my business, that’s the ex-part. I consider this segment complete.

I learned a long time ago a relationship takes two people with a similar vision for the relationship for both people to be happy. I remind myself of that periodically as I continue life’s construction.

Location ~ Location, Location, Location… it’s true. Wishing to be somewhere and being somewhere are two entirely different things. Make a decision. Be there.

Health ~ As an issue health has come to the fore in the news as the overweight people outnumber the physically fit. The percentages coincide with the level of poverty and unhappiness, though not by simple equation. A simple way to live is healthfully: Eat right, sleep enough, avoid anger, and love daily.

Health is one of my favorite topics. I’ve been published on this subject more than any other in the last 20 years, probably because I love eating. I love good food. The flavors, spices, and textures of good food made into a fabulous dish is one of the things that make life enjoyable.

Memorable food moments this year: avocado off a tree, orange juice from personally picked oranges, Churro @ Olvera St, Soup in a Bread Bowl @ New Orleans Square, my daughter’s potato soup, ripe jalapeños, my neighbor’s lentil soup, my husband’s veggie burgers, my son’s quesadilla, my son’s rice & beans… I just discovered, the way to make my list of favorite people is to cook a tasty dish.

Inner Stuff (old & new) ~ I have these things called thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they’re old, sometimes their new, sometimes useful, sometimes just clutter… I decided to de-clutter the old and useless, just let it go, don’t beat the dead horse. Life got lighter, calmer, happier.

I liken the inner stuff to a closet. When I started my Fibber McGee closet was full. If I opened the door stuff would tumble out with a crash. Life went from one crash to another. It also made seeing today in reality difficult, if not impossible. Reality is where it’s at baby. Reality is today!

At a moment of clarity I realized I didn’t like the way a bunch of the old stuff felt when it crashed and I set about throwing out the stuff I didn’t want anymore. Some of closet junk I gave back to others, it wasn’t mine to keep. Some of the junk was mine and I had to face it, deal with it and move on. Some of the stuff was useful, some stuff was pleasant so I tidied up and placed those items in a mental file: Things Worth Remembering.

Things Worth Remembering:
Like the Kitty: Allergic to Kitty: Don’t pet Kitty.
Kids, like vegetables, spoil if you put them on a shelf & forget about them.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Share good things, it makes the world a better place.