Friday, July 23, 2010

I have become the Cockroach

I was having a conversation with my sister last night reminiscing about our childhood, our parents, our trials and tribulations.  We, laughingly, came to the conclusion that we are like cockroaches in that we have (so far) managed to survive all the environmental hazards we experienced growing during the 50's and 60's. 
Those were the days when you never questioned what was in a product or if it would have any negative affects.  We used products with reckless abandon, secure in our ignorance.  If it was made for our must be okay.   Uh huh, sure.....
My parents were always encouraging me to develop a hobby.  One of my ventures was butterfly collecting. Please remember, this was before we even KNEW the words  "environment", "biosphere", "environmental impact",  "BIO HAZARDS", etc.,
... nor was there even the thought of being reincarnated.   I hang my head in shame as I digress....
All I cared about was collecting those pretty winged beasties and mounting them on my wall on cotton batted and framed mounting boards. It was akin to the fate of those hapless fur brethren of ours that have succumbed to becoming taxonomic heads sticking "out" of a wall or full-bodied "action" figures frozen in the act of doing something when they were alive and breathing....and happy.   I had my butterfly book and my "killing jar" and I would trek through our two plus acres of land seeking the choicest, rarest of butterflies that could possibly exist in Mansfield, Ohio....okay, so I got a lot of monarchs, cabbage and swallowtails.  Yes, at the ripe ol' age of 6 I was given the responsibility of carrying a jar with a sponge soaked in carbon tetrachloride.  "Just don't breathe it!"...I can still hear my father as he handed me my newly assembled handheld gas chamber...and of course...I would catch a wisp of it every time I opened that jar to place my poor winged sacrifice.   I still cringe when I think of my actions.  I will probably come back as a Swallowtail butterfly...or a Luna moth.  YES, I killed a damn Luna moth.
So this was ONE of my environmental bio hazards I was exposed to.
Then there were those INglorious chemicals my mothered enshrouded her garden in annually.  Oh my! How we loved our herbicides, pesticides, inoculates and fertilizers.  The dusting for cabbage worms, cut worms, cabbage butterflies, tomato worms, flea beetles.  The spraying for corn "smut", black spot, brown spot, wilt, powdery mildew.... and the stuff that "makes gardens green and lush"- the chemical fertilizers - all in pretty blues, aquas and greens.  My mother sprayed and dusted with reckless abandon to get that perfect, untainted, unchewed amazon-lush garden.  And we chomped and chewed those perfect vegetables thinking they were the best thing in the world, so perfect, so "pure".  And while she demonstrated her prowess and green-thumbed savvy, our mother felt blessed that she could provide such healthy, fresh and gorgeous vegetables for her family.      cough*
Then there are those "medical" treatments that we endured that our parents sought to try and make our bodies gorgeous and our skin pure.  After all, my mission was to marry affluence.... My parents were determined that I was NOT going to have acne...genetics be damned! Despite that fact,  my face oozed and pussed throughout my post-pubescence into my thirties.  While in my parents' care I endured ingestion of antibiotics and hormones, I sat under UV treatments which gave me a perpetual "ruddiness" on top of the pustules, I did everything but go to a witch doctor.   I would be taken to the dermatologist and would sit through sessions wearing little heavy black goggles to protect my eyes as he would circumnavigate my face with  ultraviolet light.  Later, I had the luxury of having my OWN sunlamp and giving myself my own skin cancer-causing treatments.  (age 57 and nothing yet, knock on wood)  I also was put through the torture of subcutaneous injections in my inner forearms of some retinoid substance that was definitely worse than "water boarding" a terrorist.  The painfulness of the substance as it sat in a huge blip under my skin was extreme.  My father, the pharmacist, would do the injection at our home...and I would be sobbing before, during and after the treatment.  My mother finally could not bear the emotional stress of watching me go through this and, to my exhausted relief, put her foot down and said "NO MORE!"  \0/!  So, I have lived with the pitted scars anyway. Was it worth all the pain?  Was it worth all the teeth extractions? The ugly grey teeth that do remain?  I mean, I STILL have the acne scars?  I would like to still have my teeth.

I remember the call on a labor day weekend.  My mother, relaying the news that she just found out she had lymphoma.  She had complained of a painful lump on the back of her neck and I had told her to have a doctor check it out.  I almost felt like it was my fault that she got the diagnosis.  After all, I told her to have it looked at.  But, reflecting  back on our consumption/use of chemicals, my sister and I  are quite sure that all her gardening ventures, her arts and crafts and other exposures to chemical products led her to the cancer.  The year before she got the lymphoma she was on oxygen due to suffering hearing loss caused by exposure to the sealant she used on the basement walls. 
She died within a year of her diagnosis.  After 25 years, it still angers me.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda's....
But, my sister and I are not out of the woods yet.  We have our own health issues to contend with.  And, I do believe some of them are party to the chemical "bathing" we did as we grew up.  It's a lesson that I hope we can impress upon others.  We both have become much more cognizant of our actions.  We are more organic in our food selections and in what we put on our bodies, as well.  I just ask that everyone take heed.  Pay attention to what you do and what you use.  There is a price to pay.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Vegan Dog

So, what do you do when you have a dog that LOVES vegetables? And you can't grow a thing because she eats it before it even gets to a ripened state?
I love Addie, she is our rescued pound puppy (one of our three furry family members)- breed unknown.  My daughter found her in a cage in the middle of a dark room at the county animal shelter.  All you could see were these very sad little eyes peering out of the darkness.  It stabbed you in the heart.  I can remember the apprehension as her eyes darted between each one of us while we all settled in the car to bring her home.  She was definitely glad to be out of  "jail".  She kept examining each one of us as she leaned into the back seat, sizing us up, trying to figure out just what was going to happen now? 
In the beginning, when she was still adapting to her new home, she would take off on us at any opportunity.   And, my poor husband would run off after her to retrieve her.  Most of the time the retrieval would end up with a bath as she managed to find the stinkiest stench and roll in it. 
Still to this day we wonder what her history was.  She shies at loud noises, she scrunches into a little ball with her tail tucked when we call her to us and she still wants to take off.  When Addie sleeps, still to this day, she has what I call night terrors.  It's not like the usual running and yipping that most dogs do when they are in deep sleep.  No, Addie barks, growls and then cries a piercing cry -  doggie nightmares?  It makes me want to get into her head to see just what happened to her.  But, all I can do is love her.  She's a good girl and she's a great companion for our other dog, Elliott.  She "mom's" him all the time.  If he gets obnoxious or out of line she is right there chewing on his ear to calm him down. 
It's hard to describe Addie.  Age - estimated.  Appearance - strange...I call her "Grover Puppy" because her coat is scraggly, snarly and of many different length.  She is not blue like Sesame Street's Grover, but black with white hairs predominantly around her eyes, mouth and between her toes.  She has little wisps of hair that hang off the ends of her ears that dance with her bouncy trot and are almost as long as her ears.  I've thought about trimming her up...but then...she wouldn't be Addie!  Her scraggliness is what defines her.  As welll as her curious canine palate.
We are currently battling over my three spindly little tomato plants.  She won last year with the consumption of my tomatoes and eggplant.   I never got one vegetable and had to put up the white flag.  I was growing my veggies in containers and would watch, in anticipation.  The first beautiful little purple oval eggplant slowly developed and I was excited and anxious for it to mature to the perfect size....and then one I went out to see it's progress... there it lay....on the ground...the ovalness distorted, the skin ruptured with innards exposed to the elements.   It was lying there, half consumed and the remains left to rot in the hot sun.  I was devastated and could not believe that a rabbit could climb up that high and steal my beautiful purple "egg".   But, I saw another eggplant higher on the plant and I felt there was a second chance! So, I monitored, caressed and watered my second fruit towards maturity and planned what culinary action I would take with this delectable orb. 
Then, one day, I came outside and found that I had been robbed again of the fruit of my labor.  But this time I found the fouled remains between the paws of my ever faithful and loving companion lying next to the clay urn....Addie?  My sweet, precious, devoted Addie?   I was wounded!  How could she do this to me?  How could she be so cruel?  ADDIE?  Then I had to catch myself.  I was wanting to make this a personal attack on me; that her action was not purely to enjoy a delectable vegetable..but directed to intentionally hurt me!  But, then, I realized that she was just foraging and enjoying the fruits of HER labor.  Addie has a unique palate.  She loves watermelon, cucumbers, EGGPLANT, mushrooms, tomatoes...she's an omnivore.
I am determined to prevail this year.  I do have to report the sad loss of my lovely perfectly round Better Boy tomato which was the most recent casualty of this war.  But, after my husband saw my despondency, he took chivalrous action and brought out a chest of drawers that he then placed my tomatoes on.  Hopefully, the higher elevation will be a deterrant and I will at least succeed in obtaining a few tomatoes this year.  My fingers are crossed!!!!  If I fail? I will have to be happy with visiting the farmer's market! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TMI - Information Overload

So, today is Day 64 of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of New Mexico.  And I am concerned.  We are deluged daily thru TV, radio, newspaper and internet on the horrific events and the flailing attempts to stop the flow, rescue the coastal waters and it becomes an arena for helpless hopelessness for those of us that are only able to view the travesty and unable to extend or offer assistance due to distance, personal issues or lack of financial stability due to our own personal economic plights.  We are caught up in our own maelstroms of life.  So, our coping mechanisms switch on and the lights flash in our brains - "Does not compute!", "Too much information",..."not my problem"... But it is! 
I have posted (almost daily) on facebook and twitter tidbits of information on this oilspill that I think go unnoticed due to all the repetitive rhetoric proffered by our news providers.  They take one aspect and beat it to death.  And it results in an apathetic response in the viewer/listener.  It becomes, as Seinfeld would express, "yada yada yada".... and because of that we are missing some pertinent information.  There is information that needs to be presented to our government representatives and questioned. 
I watched the C-Span airing of Tony Hayward's indiffident and arrogant Q & A session and listened to our pontificating representatives asking the same damn questions over and over.  The Congress did not seem to have prepared that much and our representatives were borrowing the same questions from one another.  But, I wanted to know answers to questions that were never asked.  Like, why, back in February when BP realized there were cracks in the seafloor, did they continue to drill? BP knew there were problems back then? And, according to the article on, most drilling companies would abandon when such an event would occur because these cracks fill up with natural gas and create the potential for the exact event that occured with this oil rig.  One of the "cures" for such events is to force concrete into the cracks.  And there is postulating that they may have used the wrong kind of concrete.   ???  Shouldn't these people KNOW what kind of concrete should be used in such cases? Exxon closed down an oil well (The Blackbeard) in 2006 when similar issues arose.  They were willing to take the loss.  But BP was too greedy...the want for money far exceeded their sense of integrity. 
And we cannot let our government get by on the fact that they have set such substandard requirements on any  offshore oil drilling  resulting in a myriad of time bombs sitting in our coastal waters with little or no safety features. 
This is not a fluke, not a "once in a lifetime" event. It is a warning of more to come, unless the citizens of this country become proactive and tell their representatives ENOUGH.  It does not take long to write your government can even find "template" petitions to sign.  And, trust me, they are read and responded to.  I can attest to this. 
And, what about the potential for hurricanes? Think about it.  Hurricanes sweep up water from the Gulf and pour it in deluging rains across the lower states (and sometimes the northern states) of the United States.  Let's all think about this....what else is going to fall on our lands?   OIL!!!!  I listened to a caller on C-Span relating how they will have to shut down the electric grid if such a scenario occurs due to the potential from fires if oil coats the electric wires.  Why is this not another topic of discussion?
I have to relate another little factoid that seems to fly under the radar with our news agencies.... The potential toxic rain from the chemicals poured on our Gulf waters to disperse the oil.  The chemical used is called COREXIT 9500.  This chemical has been banned in Europe due to it's long term damages.  This chemical is carcinogenic and is toxic at only 2.61 ppm. What is even worse is the molecular transition of this chemical in reaction to warm water (Gulf of Mexico is warm water).   The chemical quickly turns into a gas which is evaporated into the clouds and eventually returns to the earth with it's carrier - rain. This toxic rain is INEVITABLE and wherever, whatever it touches  - it will be leaving behind carcinogens on farmland, our orchards, reservoirs, animals and people.  This is irreversible and it is going to release an untold chain of events on our natural processes in North America. It is something that we can only observe and experience.  So, thank you BP for the calamity you have brought us.  And, please, contact our government leaders and speak up and speak loudly!!

My sources:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Subject of my blog

My sister asked me if I was going to choose a "food" theme for my blog, advising that tangled webs and butterfly flits were kind of a "yuck" factor if I so chose that route.  I, whole heartedly, agreed on that.  It made me think about what I would discuss.  I did not want to be confined to a particular genre.  I guess I hate structure.  (To a fault -  which probably explains why I am consistently inconsistent!). 
I started analyzing my choice of title for my blog.
Tangled Webs - I see life as a tangle of many webs.  The web of our familial ties, friendships, life choices, life changes.  Just as in nature...we each have are own web, some are simple in design, discreetly and poignantly organized - amazingly complex yet beautiful in structure and then there are those webs that look like utter chaos, afterthoughts, results of poor choices,  directed by outside influences with threads that lead to points unknown or unwelcomed and sometimes ending nowhere.  We try to plan our lives and may have some success. There are those out there who have amazingly, at least in appearance, beautiful glorious webs with the proper connections heading in the proper directions.  And, there are the webs that are tangled, snarled, threading us along in directions unknown and sometimes unwanted.
Have you ever examined a spider's web? You have those spiders that have those tangled webs, all snarly, some dangling broken connections....yet there's that one precious thread that holds it all together. That one crucial silken line of security, strength and tenacity that keeps the spider's world connected.  And then there are the "orb" spiders....they have those beautiful, well designed webs where they perch in the very center ....all threads connected and evenly balanced to the point where, if one thread is touched - it affects the whole web.  (webs with "Zen") There's "feng in their shue".
I guess that's why I see such an analogy of webs to our lives.  How often do you hear that "one is the master of their destiny"...that you are in control of where your life goes (there are no "accidents").  All I can say to those people is..."You must have an extremely simple, well-structured, STRONG web".  Because, just as with the spider's web..anything can fly into it, alter the threads, change your design, direction or even destroy it.  And you have to rebuild - and it won't be exactly like your first web.  Or you may be fortunate in being able to mend it..but it will still have different threads, different connections.  AND, there's nothing, no one to's just....LIFE! And how you repair it or rebuild it is determined by your environment as much as (sometimes more) than your self or being. 
Just speculation and contemplations.  
As for the Butterfly flits.  I, at first, was thinking mostly of my random thinking.  My family calls it attention deficit....I just think my brain runs so fast sometimes and I try to take it all in at once, I don't want to miss a thing! But also, butterfly flits....means to me, the very tiny things - minutiae - like ideas, that can grow and become something that changes or alters our lives, our environment.  Like the metaphor of the butterfly effect, in the fluttering of wings creating a change that could alter the climate or atmosphere. 
I think I will keep my title.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Time for Everything

I have been impressed by my sister's beautiful blog "Like Water for Yarn" and have been motivated to attempt a similar venture.
I recently made a brave decision to quit my job. "Why?" "Are you CRAZY?" I can hear all of you out there that have been seeking employment, being victims of our wonderful economic "boo boo" (as our illustrious bankers and mortgagee's would like us to view it) - The answer is yes, maybe, but the job was highly stressful to the point of physical and emotional damage. So, I made a choice. And, in truthfulness, I could not have done this without my husband's emotional and monetarial support. TRUST me, it's temporary...but I am going to enjoy this time while I can. I now have time to reflect, energize, and try to re-stimulate my lost creativity. After years of vegging in front of the "Vidiot" box (TV) after a life sucking, spirit sapping day at work....I now am gaining back my "being", my desire for LIVING.
So now I am starting to blog. And it will be a venture for us all! Because I have absolutely NO direction with this concept!
My family spent a very quiet Memorial Day weekend. I did stretch my epicurean muscles and created a (from scratch) delicious pineapple meringue pie. No instant or cooked pudding mixes were used. I actually made my own pie filling! And I think it was delicious! And I have a tip for you culinary types out there. I found a recipe online for a most delicious crust! Use Keebler Pecan Sandies. It was so simple. 2 Cups of Pecan Sandies crushed, 1/4 c. melted butter (and for this particular recipe 1 Cup shredded coconut). Mix together, press in a pie pan and bake until golden brown (about 10-15 min) in a 350 degree oven. I was thinking this pie crust would be great with a variety of "cool crust" pies...lemon meringue, chocolate cream, Ice Cream pies?
That's another perk about staying at husband reaps the benefit of a cooked meal on the table when he comes home from work. Tonight, Chicken Verde with Rice w/lime and cilantro.