6-3-2015 Strawberry Moon

DSC01990Well, it’s June. (“June, June, June” for all the Rogers and Hammerstein fans out there) Today it’s sunny, but I’m going to try to track how often it rains this month. My memory of June is of frequent rains- I seem to remember one month when I think it rained 25 days out of 30. It’s been so much cooler that I haven’t moved the rolling board over into it’s “summer position” on top of the wood-stove, giving us a bit more counter space. Instead we’ve continued burning off any paper trash and even occasionally added a stick or two of firewood. It’s been under 65º most days, and that feels a bit chilly. (Thinking about winter, the difference may be in the clothes we’re wearing.) The lilac is past. The rain pounded down the Iris, so I brought a couple of the ones (with broken stems) in. I don’t know, since they are the kind of flower that puts out one or two blooms a day on the same stalk if the coming buds will open. I’m hoping. I do love them. The nasturtium are already pretty and I expect a more glorious display as they settle in. I’m planning on doing nothing in the front garden except lettuce and tomatoes (and a pepper plant if I can find one) this year. Fresh salad is wonderful, and I hate canning, so a large harvest wouldn’t be useful anyway.
I discovered while putting the Nasturtium in that we do have some lily of the valley that have “taken”, sadly they were overshadowed by the mint, so I didn’t find them until they were fading. Sad.

Once again, we have done nothing this week. I have come up with a theory- doing nothing is what makes you (or at least ME) depressed. I may be turning to books as a way of having something to do.  Most of what we “do” comes from internet activity. Kat told me about a conversation she was having about whether Pennywise in It was a tulpa.  I am thrilled that my kids know what a tulpa is!  I’m sure there are things we don’t know that other people do. (Sports leaps to mind as something I don’t know or care much about.) The biggest “events” of the week were Steve coming up for supper on Sunday and driving Kat to the dentist. Whoopie! (sarcasm font). Steve brought me an external disc drive so I can start harvesting old music from the travel discs we always make before Pennsic, if I can find any. Really, I’ve done zilch! Things I noted in my journal include cleaning the refrigerator, finding my hairbrush (the one that went missing when we got back from Williamsburg, I’d had it on the dashboard- looked there several times, had other people look there, and none of us saw it there, but then Saturday, there it was. I guess it just slipped sideways into a slightly different vibrational world. If you have a better explanation of why something is not there when you look and then is again, I’m open to hearing it.
On the other hand, the stories bouncing around facebook today all seem to be about how Depression may be caused by Inflammation, which means that this anti-inflammatory regime might be a really good thing for a lot of people. (If we can get past the “where the heck do I get those ingredients?” and other wealth biased bits.

My friend MaryAlyce is doing movie nights down at her new-age shop and asked about movies about the afterlife. What Dreams May Come is wonderful because it really demonstrates how the afterlife is created by our expectations (as I understand it). I’ve always liked the line in Beetlejuice where the afterlife receptionist tells them “It’s all very personal.” It would be, wouldn’t it? Anyway, inspired by thinking about them, I’ve put several on my library queue and will probably be watching them as I finish Arwen’s book cover. Since it’s at the publishers she needs it (like last week), and frankly, this letter aside, I’m trying to not do more than check messages on fb to avoid getting distracted from that. I am so very distractible.

Willow and sharkWillow has been to Universal park (and helping with the packing) down in Florida. She’s been posting pictures on fb to share her adventures. Kat decided to take the plunge and drop her old computer in to the data recovery service, to see what they could get, to discover that when you get to the point of getting directions to the “drop off” site, the Nashua one, the Manchester one, the Salem, NH one, basically ALL of them are an address in Boston. Yeah right. Bozos. Not being up front does NOT make for happy customers. When she asked about packing it up, they told her to take it apart and only send the hard drive. She checked, yes, she had told them that it was an i-mac, which you aren’t supposed to open. Ever. Maybe the mac store will be willing to do it for us.  On the other hand, John had responded to the suggestion that he sign up for Amazon Prime, and I was able to talk him out of having two in the house, and the helpful people at Amazon talked us through attaching his kindle to mine, giving us appropriate warnings about what he could lose, and being generally helpful.

After griping about it, I’ve actually tried a modified form of the sugar detox diet. I find it very difficult to make a dinner with no starch. Kat and John both said they weren’t willing to go that far, and one doesn’t “diet” someone else (it’s too easy for them to simply eat other things). So I make less and take a very small portion of the rice or potatoes. I am not sure that it isn’t to “make the plate look right” visually. I know that I did lose weight on the “low carb” diet, but it seems unbalanced and unnatural, and that bothers me. One could argue that the “smoothies” are as unnatural as the Coke or french fries, but at least the ingredients are processed by simple chopping/stirring. Having been so disparaging I figure I should try it to be fair, although it is SUCH an extreme regimen I figure if I don’t lose weight they can say that’s because of my modifications. What I’m looking for is something I can keep up indefinitely. I am pretty sure these smoothies are not going to stay. For one thing, they are “lumpies” due to the flax and chia seeds in them. DSC01989They say “you won’t be hungry”. Possibly because it takes me hours to get one of them down. I’ve tried the berry one, the mint (and kale) one, and the cucumber one. They are all pretty gross. Not unpalatable, but not something you’d drink for pleasure. I may be willing to gripe about something from observation, but I also am an experimenter. I will hold off on my final conclusion until I’ve actually tried something. (Yesterday I found the red snapper, so we tried that. I’m planning to have a single portion of salmon while the kids eat pizza tonight.) Seeing myself as “fair” is important to my self image.
I’ve started a new “sugar” book: Fat Chance, from the library (apparently by the same guy in the documentary The Bitter Truth, and already I’ve been struck by several points already (although I’ve only read a chapter or two). One is the case for sugar addiction. Addiction is defined when using whatever it is causes: Tolerance (you need increasing levels to get the good feeling), cravings, binging, desire to quit, withdrawals if you do, interference with life, use despite negative consequences. I think we can clearly accept that sugar is addictive.  So let’s compare Sugar to Tobacco and Alcohol. (Shall the ATF be expanded to include sugar?) The criteria the government uses to judge whether a substance needs to be regulated are: unavoidability, toxicity, abuse, and cost to society. Yeah, I think sugar does fit those criteria. He does point out that there’s a  difference between food and tobacco or alcohol, but processed sugar/ artificially sweetened foods, like those two regulated commodities, is not essential to life. Only natural sugars such as we get in unprocessed foods are necessary. So how do we get to a point of regulating sugar? As with tobacco, we have to get the legislation past those who produce and market the product, as well as convincing the public.
I know that I am INCREDIBLY ambivalent about my use of sugar. I think my baking is very tied up with my concept of self. My image of social interaction is wrapped up in food. I tend to tear up when I think about eating alone. Nothing seems so pathetic as food without social interaction- is it reciprocal? I like feeding people, am I a “pusher”? Am I a slow poisoner? Can’t I find some way to make someone else the “bad guy”?  And if I feel this way, won’t everyone else? This will make it incredibly hard to sell a lower sugar consumption to modern Americans (and others suffering from the modern industrial diet). So far the things people have tried like getting the soda out of schools (which was replaced by sports drinks and juices, also high in sugar), or Bloomburg trying to ban the (32 oz.) “Big Gulp”, have been ineffective. (If you can’t get a bigger one, you’ll just by more smaller ones.) We can try to reduce the marketing of a “risky” product, as with tobacco. To prove culpability, the law requires association/causation, motivation, and a “smoking gun” (proof of callus disregard for the negative results) of a policy. The proof that sugar is linked with metabolic disease is established, the motivation is profit, so now to be able to sue the sugar producers for damages we’d have to prove callus disregard. Is suing the way to go? Could we possibly hit them with damages great enough to counter the profits they are making? I doubt it. As Dr. Lustig points out, we have to decide to do it for ourselves, one at a time. As with alcohol, in order to get enough people to do this to actually help society would probably require some sort of regulation. We’d have the usual problems with, for instance, a sugar tax being harder on the poor than the rich. If a can of soda cost $2 instead of $1, which it would need before it created any significant reduction in consumption, it would mostly effect the poor. But since they are the hardest hit by the obesity epidemic with its diabetes, heart attacks, etc. I think I could live with that- the rich can afford the negative effects more easily. Another thing he said was “Money talks, science walks.” We’ve certainly seen that with climate change and so many other issues.
As I try to reduce my intake I worry about letting the kids decide their own. I’ve been letting Kat drink more Coke since it seems to settle her stomach. I have tried very hard not to bring Coke into the house, but at the same time, while we go through a gallon of milk a day, I suppose we also go through more than that in juice. I figured if it was all juice, not sweetened, it would be OK, but I guess I should have considered the volume at which the bottles move from the pantry to the recycling. Is this contributing to depression? “In animals anxiety and depression are indicated by an unwillingness to spend time in a risky environments.” I expect that’s true of humans as well. (Of course, you can just ask humans if they’re depressed and anxious.) Because I water my own juice and use honey not sugar in my tea, and only paid attention to how often I put sugar in baked goods, I think I may have been fooling myself about our family consumption. I’m not quite ready to simply take everything with sugar in it in the pantry and put it in the trash (I’m sure this would lead to replacement when our withdrawals got too uncomfortable), but I guess I need to pay more attention, to be more aware. It’s so easy to congratulate myself for the things I do and overlook the things I let slip because they are too hard.

We’ve all been using the wii again to exercise. I am totally inspired by Kat, who does a half hour a day (very aerobic!). I have managed to go from 10 minutes to 20 minuets, and am not thrilled to discover how out of shape I’d gotten over the winter. My self perception is of a strong woman. Well, it’s going to take work to make that real again.

What else have I been reading?  I finished the fourth Vespasian book: Rome’s Fallen Eagle, (about the Claudian invasion of Britain). There were so many fighting scenes I nearly lost interest. I was reminded of it when I listened to No End in Sight: a 2007 Documentary about the American occupation of Iraq, which consisted mostly of interviews with people who’d been involved and disillusioned by the experience. It’s very discouraging to be reminded that we only know what they tell us, and if they lie, what are we going to do? What sources can you trust? (I should have thought that if there’s the Presidential Seal up behind the speaker at a press conference, you should be able to. Oh well. I also watched Selma, a not very pleasant reminder that as bad as it is now, it used to be worse. That too combined with the Vespasian book as the mounted police ran down the unarmed protesters- at least the British could fight back. But if they had, they might not have gotten the attention they needed. Damn! More than many other explanations of “Black lives matter” the fact that Klansmen could get away with blowing up a church killing and injuring (and can we not forget the injured, please?) twenty six black people , but when white people got hurt, it became news. We must not accept people treating other people badly simply because we are “used to it”. That’s the worst excuse in the world!  I also watched Our Daily Bread, a documentary that was simply images of commercial food production. I pretty much knew about it, so I think it would be more useful if watched in a group so people could talk about what they were seeing. This would be easy as there was no narration or dialogue at all. Despite my efforts I have spent more time than I think I should have done at the computer. Steve suggested that I’d like the Midsommer Murders, so I checked it out, and have watched three. Several people have recommended it, and you were all right! It’s beautifully done. Very complex and developed plots. I also tripped over a show called Touch with Kiefer Southerland. It’s about the parent of an indigo child- an autistic savant who begins to communicate with his father using numbers, which tie together people’s lives all over the world. I hope it’s not like 24 Hours, I know that went on for years, but when, at the end of all that effort the wife died, I just wasn’t up for more. I like a happy ending. It reminded me of a TV show Connections (I think it was) Honour turned me on to showing the interconnectedness of discoveries throughout history. Very cool. As a matter of fact, that’s pretty much what my classes at Pennsic are going to be about this year- I’m working up a class on each of the (major) neighboring cultures, (Celts, Vikings, Franks) because you can’t understand a culture unless you know with whom they’re interacting. It’s probably why I write these letters- connections are SO important! I also read another of the Roman Mystery Series Slave Girl from Jerusalem. I really enjoy them and am not thrilled to be approaching the end of the series. (Now I’d love to re-watch the mini-series Masada, that was a great show!)
I started to make some Kimchi, but haven’t been able to find the korean peppers that seem to be important. I’ve got the cabbage and dicon radish, and I put in some of our dried hot peppers, (and managed to not get my hands clean enough after, so later when I touched my eye I got a really painful reminder!). But I don’t think that if I don’t have the really important traditional ingredients I’ll have gotten the recipe right.

Ah well, I need to get back to painting. Tonight Jane will be talking about Runes on the New Normal with me, I’d love to be able to report progress before or after the show.

“The obesity pandemic is due to our altered biochemistry, which is a result of our altered environment.”
“Fat cells want to be downsized about as much as General Motors or AIG.”
― Robert H. Lustig, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

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