Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sleepy Son Sunday!

Yay! He’s back. After a day in a diner and Burlington Public Library, and finally getting on the bus at 4  or 4:30, and then the train, and home after midnight. Yes, he is at a state school, and they are quite serious about kicking everyone out of the dorms, and closing down for the break. But when you are 18, it’s not a big deal.

Having packed no food at all for the journey, he was very happy to have grilled cheese and green smoothie and SleepyTime tea at 1:30 am last night (or this morning.) SleepyTime tea? What was I thinking?! Once I was properly hugged, and the food was downed, he was off with friends. He is not the one we call “Thumper,” and manages to tiptoe upstairs, and into bed without bothering me, so I have no idea what time the reunion celebration ended.

Dad made pancakes for breakfast. He was the one who discovered the best pancakes ever: we add pears (when we have them at home, but I bought some nice ones a few days ago, with return of son in mind) as well as bananas. Banana pear pancakes are a recipe I recommend. Not a sweet eater, even though maple syrup is a flavor I love, and we have Vermont maple syrup from a summer’s farmer’s market, I eat my pancakes out of hand. And I’m not sure I didn’t eat more than my share.

When I lived in California, and would come back East to visit, my dad would (so helpfully, he thought?) wake me up in the morning so I could “get on a good schedule.” I never did, and never really have been, so that always annoyed me. Never able to fall asleep before 4am after sitting in a plane all day, and then coping with a three-hour time difference, I didn’t appreciate the effort. Now I can consider that maybe he just wanted to see me. But I think he was just acting on misguided principle. I kind of think so. It bothered him that I should be sleeping at the “wrong” time. So no matter how much I may want to see the young man upstairs, I am going to “let it ride.” Nor am I going to tell him “You can’t go out at 2am!” To the contrary: he did, and probably had a very good time.

We had an amusing exchange before he left: Somehow the name of an old friend, who turned out to have briefly been a girlfriend during middle school years, came up. One of the people he went out with last night was “Ian,” his best friend since seventh grade. K then mentioned that ‘Jane” had dated “Ian” longer than he had. (What he meant to say was that Ian had dated Jane longer than  he had.) I retorted that this was not true. You, I said, have been going out with Ian longer than anyone! He laughed and agreed.

Lest anyone misread the tiniest hint of gay bashing into our conversation, there was none. We have a family rich with family members all over the sexuality spectrum. It reflects the human species pretty well that way. K’s college room mate is gay. When moving out of a miserable dorm room situation a straight, but preppie and annoying room mate, K, who happens to be straight, chose his room mate because they are friends, old camp friends. So LGBTQA friends: You are very welcome to my blog. LGBT objectors: This will probably not be a comfortable space for you. In this family, we celebrate the recent decision out of Illinois to allow gay marriage. If all the guys in the Bible had multiple wives–or were (supposedly) celibate, and we believe that, of course?–what is all the fuss about? The Bible most emphatically does not present marriage as between one man and one woman. People should neither be exclusively defined by, nor in any way punished for their sexual orientation. There is so much more to all of us.

I confess, I did not read the presumably pathetic email from some organization that pumps out pablum for parents of college students returning home for the first time. (Very pathetically middle class mush.) I’m sure I will make mistakes, but my plan is simple: provide food, be flexible, hope he has fun, and hope we are included in some of the fun.

There is creaking in the staircase 🙂

So I thought. Instead there is young man adjusting and enjoying himself in his own way, in his own time: first drumming and now keys serenade. I am content. But isn’t he hungry? If he hadn’t gone fourteen hours straight without food yesterday, I would think so, but I am going to trust that hunger will bring him down eventually. And that if he was in the mood for talking, he would. It must be glorious to be alone after so much forced togetherness!

Super Soccer Saturday: Everton v Liverpool, No Spoiler

What a match, for those who follow football & the English Premier League. I don’t follow closely enough to offer hugely insightful commentary, but it was a wild ride.

The keepers and strikers were all in nearly top form, with brilliant defensive plays, and some defenisive lapses. Everton gave up more chances with bad decisions to shoot and not pass, and with telegraphed shots to the nimble and quick Liverpool keeper, Mignolet, back-up to their starting keeper.

Everton also gave up a goal in the fifth minute of play. And nearly a red card in the 35′ as well. It took the ref a long time to decide whether to dole out red or yellow. This could easily have been a red card. Would it have been had it happened to a nicer guy? No issues with his play, Luis Suarez was brilliant today, sliding behind the Everton defense, putting a ball through a poorly constructed wall, and generally making life miserable for Tim Howard, who was not all that pleased with his defense, but has to accept some of the blame himself. Below is a photo of Suarez not diving. He was taken down.

Yes, that is Luis Suarez, by Circespeaks.

Yes, that is Luis Suarez, by Circespeaks.

To be continued, so I this is not a spoiler for those of you who recorded the early morning match and have not yet watched it.

Waking Bad

You can’t expect me to like Mondays, rain, snow, and mornings, right?! So I confess: I do like Mondays, rainy days, snowy days, but I do not like mornings.

It’s not the mornings themselves, but the fact that I am a night person, and have a hard time forcing myself to go to bed, and an equally hard time falling asleep, and then always–without exception–wake up in the middle of the night for an extended period of time at least once. Are you with me? This condition has persisted since I was a small child. Some lucky people sleep soundly and steadily. Such nights are few for me. Sleeping late was never a problem in my teens or twenties, but it is now, and our neighborhood is very noisy, especially in the mornings. Yes, kids, it is all downhill from here!

Too bad I get that extra burst of energy right when I should be going to bed. And despite all this staying up late, I have never seen the highly acclaimed, or at least highly entertaining series, Breaking Bad.

The purchase of a new mattress–now starting to do the research–would probably be somewhat helpful, since the mattress is old, lumpy, and the box springs jiggly. This is not an exciting purchase, and I keep putting it off. I imagine that I would prefer a good old-fashioned cotton bed that is soft and doesn’t jiggle. (No metal box springs.) Does such a thing exist? Possibly hand made from an artisan in Vermont?

Yes, I have ear plugs. With planes constantly zipping overhead (from a small local airport) they are a must. I will not further embarrass myself by describing the ridiculous lengths to which I go in hopes of sleep. Just a little more, another half an hour? If I didn’t need the sleep to function and feel well, I wouldn’t care. Today I don’t have what a fellow WordPress blogger and fiction writer refers to as “brain fog.” She has much helpful advice and describes extraordinary coping mechanisms that may be helpful, whether of not you suffer from CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), so here is a link to her blog: http://liebjabberings.wordpress.com/category/cfs-living-and-writing-with-mecfscfids/ Instead, I have a burning sensation behind my eyes that won’t get better until it is once again dark outside, and I start to feel great!

One of my friends suggested that I work on a farm, and make a routine of getting up early and working outside all day long. What I especially love about that idea is being outside all day. I’m not convinced that I wouldn’t rather be skiing, or an explorer, or anthropologist, or pilgrim, or doing something a bit less monotonous than farming, but maybe my anxious and active mind would thrive on the monotony. The gardening of spring and summer really elevated my mood and kept me outdoors no matter what the weather. But gardening and farming though related, are not the same. One solid day of picking apples might suffice.

I do not have a TV in the bedroom. Never have. Never will. But…I do answer email far too late at night, and sometimes even do productive work at my laptop until quite late. I definitely spend more time at a screen than really suits my mind and body. Working late–when I tend to be productive, since there are fewer interruptions at night–would be great if I were able to sleep just a couple more hours in the morning. So when I see that “bossy old sun” begin to rise, I tend to greet it with misgiving and bleary eyes.

Any and all suggestions welcome, but I would especially like to hear from people who have always been night people, but have managed to change their habits.

Waking Bad by Circespeaks Waking Bad by Circespeaks

To Your Health!

Green Smoothie Ingredients by Circespeaks

Green Smoothie Ingredients by Circespeaks

With about half or a third of the total ingredients you see in front of you, and a bit of water, I made a green smoothie. The mango wasn’t quite ripe, so it will go into tomorrow’s smoothie. Nevertheless, the smoothie was absolutely delicious. I had about two cups of smoothie. However, it is now lunchtime, and I am famished, even before my daily workout. For me, green smoothies can be a supplement to my normal diet, and maybe a substitute for some less nutritious options. But on raw greens and vegetables alone, I would starve, and not very slowly, either.

Another WordPress blogger suggested I try adding green smoothies to my diet. She is a vegan, which I am not, but like me, also eats cooked food as well as raw. I agree with her that eating a vegan vegetarian diet is the best dietary course for the planet earth. Not only does she have an important message, but she conveys it with humor. Check out Violet’s Veg*n e-Comics! http://violetsvegnecomics.com/about/

I am on a middle path, attempting only to consume animal products from pasture-raised, organically and naturally fed animals. This includes butter. It is fairly easy to find milk from pasture-raised cows, but it is not easy to find local, pasture-raised butter, or any organic butter that is pasture-raised and not astronomically expensive. My imperfect compromise–though Ireland is not local–is to purchase Kerrygold and other European, pasture-raised, butter. I will pay more to buy local, but at some point that becomes unaffordable. For most of us, who do not have heated greenhouses in which we grow our own produce year-round, our lettuce will come from California during the winter months. What a sad waste of energy. Obviously the pineapple in my smoothie did not grow in New Jersey, either. Ideally, that would have been a locally grown,organic pear, but pineapples are a fruit I love, and I have now succumbed to purchasing now and then, and composting the top and hard outer scaly stuff. The pear wins on that score, too. There is almost no part of a pear that is inedible, nothing much to compost or toss. A pear is another one of those perfectly self-contained foods. Due to our unseasonably warm and dry fall, there are home gardeners in New Jersey still harvesting their own lettuce, kale, and beets without a greenhouse. I am still on the steep upward learning curve as a gardener. Next year!

Yes, I am yet another one of those folks who would like to cure herself with food rather than medicine. But I also really do love food and spices, and have no plans to turn eating into a job or duty. My basic approach is simple: it is to eat tasty, nutritious food whenever I am hungry. And yes, sweet potato fries are on the menu at times, not to mention my weakness for dark beer. So, I am not a purist. Just someone doing her best.

I include the link to a business designed around green smoothies. I have only looked at one brief video, and am not sure whether the author of a book on green smoothies–a lifestyle food, apparently–and her son subsist solely on green smoothies, or whether they eat other food as well. For those who wish to delve further into the green smoothie world, here is the link and short video. I neither know these people, nor have any business connection with them, nor do I stand to profit from any purchase or sales of books, etc. resulting from my post. I just found it interesting, good-tasting, and possibly a source of increased health and energy, so worth trying more than once.

http://greensmoothiesblog.com/abundance-of-proteins-in-greens/

http://www.rawfamily.com/how-to-make-a-green-smoothie

Slurp by Circespeaks

Slurp by Circespeaks

I can’t wait for my next green smoothie because the mango will be ripe tomorrow. In theory, you are supposed to use a different leafy green every day, and I do have raw spinach at home, but I love the taste of kale so much that I may just have to use kale again tomorrow.

If anyone is motivated to try, please let me know how you like it! Does anyone have a green smoothie recipe to share?

Ibrahimovic: ‘A world cup without me is not worth watching’ as Sweden succumb to Ronaldo’s heroics

I, for one, will miss seeing Ibrahimovic and Sweden in the World Cup! Furthermore, I’d rather watch a man than a pretty boy, but that’s just reverse sexism. I’m just jealous because Ronaldo’s eyebrows and hair get far more attention by stylists than mine do 😉 Okay, women do watch men’s soccer, in part, to see some amazingly fit and good-looking guys. It’s all a matter of taste, and there will be many women who will be thrilled to watch the pretty Christiano. Based on looks alone–not skill set–I’d rather watch Zlatan. Zlatan even understands soccer hair. Men’s soccer hair should look interesting, even unusual, and definitely unstudied. But then a lot of men would rather watch Maria Sharapova, whose tennis bores me to tears, than a less lovely, but more exciting player. No one can fault Ronaldo on his skill set. Yes, I will settle in to watch, as much as time permits, even with a little hole in my heart. And when the Women’s World Cup comes around, I will watch that, too. (Former recreational player on the left wing, mother of two GKs, and with divided national loyalties, how could I not?!)

Hej! Ville bara hälsa att det går bra med svar på svenska här i min blog på vilken sida dom helst, vare dig det gäller Sverige, eller ej. Då svarar jag också på svenska, och om jag orkar, på engelska med. Det får vara jag som gör bort mig med grammatiska o stavfel 🙂

Hunter’s Moon

She stepped from the gloom,
Into the light of the Hunter’s Moon.
Why a Hunter’s Moon she pondered,
As along the path she wandered.
The moonlit path littered with leaves,
And sounds of exhalations as she breathes.
The scraping of squeaking limb,
She begins to hum a hymn.
Crack! A small branch falls down.
She walks more rapidly towards town.
And instead of hymn starts to chant,
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
The moon shine is not yet obscured
By the eclipse penumbral so rare.
She wanders on without a care,
As one to nature’s ways inured.
The eclipse, penumbral, was it not?
Yet at that moment darkness fell complete.
Hands cruel; breath hot.
Wrestled to her knees, then feet.
But are these human hands, she thought.
Or did she fail the gods of yore,
Who rose up from the earth’s hot core?
As she gasped, an eerie laugh,
And voice, not spoken, telepath,
Rang in her ears, as every year.
It’s time to come, Persephone.
Three months you’ll stay below with me.

Martha Wainwright, sister of Rufus Wainwright, sings a poignant mother’s lament about a lost daughter. This song was written by Martha’s late mother, Kate McGarrigle.

Monday Morning Madness

And a bit of Monday morning mirth. It will wear off, as the day wears on, but starts with a bit of a pop like a Christmas cracker. Streamers and a little gift inside!

Mondays are my favorite day. Whatever went wrong last week is forgotten. I am new. The rough skin of last week is sloughed off, the bruises to the ego have faded, and I approach the week with optimism. A new and optimistic “to-do” list, electronic or paper–maybe both–awaits. There are ideas to be shared, and reams to be written in another chapter or two of my life.

Monday is a day for the inner and outer journey, as they say of Swedish pilgrimage. Mondays are good days for appointments, and they are also good days for slow steady rains, and working indoors, alone, and with focus. This is a glorious Monday, and appropriately busily scheduled. Were it gloomy and drizzly, I would prefer quietly working alone at home.

This is an illusion, but as I cherish it week after week, please permit me: I will pick up what I dropped. I will not have to “humbly repent” the things I have left undone next Sunday. Truth be told, I humbly repent what I have left undone far too often, and quite infrequently in church. I will work harder than I did last week. Disruptions will be fewer, and somehow dross will be turned into gold. And all that without visiting the now-closed Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont. (Beer review coming up in another post, but the Brewery is temporarily closed, so don’t rush up there.) I will disregard health issues for today, and begin the week in unperturbed and uninterrupted by unwanted appointments. I do like Mondays!

When I take a morning walk down the path, I may see the small woodpecker, hopping from branch to branch in the neighbor’s bush, only an arm’s-length away. Though I continue on the path by the brook, I will never again see the albino squirrel my son and I saw one early morning as I walked him to grade school. We only saw it once, and we were the only two ever to see it. I don’t put it down to a shared hallucination. But if I had to guess years later, I’d say we saw the squirrel on a Monday.

Ode to Monday:

Monday, the week’s newly opened blossom.
Not shy, but bright and sturdy.
Brazen, unashamed.
Bustling Monday.
Busy squirrels hiding nuts.
Brisk breeze Monday.
Tree tops swaying gently,
Clouds not racing, but
Purposefully traversing the sky.

Fir Tree in Monday Mood by Circespeaks

Fir Tree in Monday Mood by Circespeaks

Remembering those who Perished in the Philippines

Remembering those who perished in the Philippines. Perhaps we all have a touch of empathy fatigue. This is a busy time of year with fall holidays for many of the major faiths practiced in the United States. Have we forgotten, or not yet truly absorbed, the terrible fate of many who perished and others who cling to hope–though there may be no help on its way–in the Philippines?

It is Sunday, a quiet day for many, whether or not they hold it holy. This music suggested by a friend who is a musician in Chicago, is a fitting tribute.

Just in case you haven’t taken Latin recently, or ever, and are not a musician, a requiem is “a hymn or dirge for the repose of the souls of the dead.”

May they rest in peace. May we. who have received some measure of peace, and some rest this Sunday, go into the world remembering that there are many among the living who still need our help. And if we are among those who need help–we all are at times–let us not be ashamed to ask.

And let’s hope I post something cheerful tomorrow! I can almost promise that I will do so.

Circe

Eurozone Youth Flight

This information is mostly gathered from the front page and the International Section of today’s New York Times, 2013-11-16. What I choose to cite from a long article, and conclusions I draw, though I am led by the writer, are still my own.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel recognizes that unemployment among EU Youth “is perhaps the most pressing problem facing Europe.” Not all of Europe, however; not Chancellor Merkel’s Germany.

No, the problem is most pressing in Southern Europe, where youth unemployment is well over 50 percent, at a shocking 58 percent in Greece and 55 percent in Spain among 15-24 year olds compared to Germany’s 8 percent.
In Spain, young people interviewed blame internal mismanagement, and “the austerity policy prescribed by its international creditors and Germany.” Germany is the only EU nation in which youth unemployment has decreased.

I do not understand how this is possible. Yes, I do know that Janet Yellin and others have suggested that had we employed similar austerity measures in the U.S., we could have found ourselves in another Great Depression.

What confuses me is how and why Germany gets the biggest and best piece of the pie. Hasn’t this happened before? I guess it was even worse when Germany had gotten what it perceived to be too small a piece of the pie. Germany is our ally, largely disarmed, no military threat, so the argument goes. In this era, global destabilization may have more to do with the policies of the International Monetary Fund, and other global economic entities than possession of arms. This is a war that Germany is winning with the Mercedes, the BMW, and the right officials in high places. There are “winners and losers” in the European economy today.

Does this doom the European Union? If benefits accrue to some nations, clearly at the expense of others–that, for instance, carry almost the entire responsibility for immigration from Africa and elsewhere, of political refugees and others seeking simple sustenance–what is the advantage to being a Eurozone nation? We are extremely involved in what has become a national conversation about bullying within the NFL (National Football League) and the culture of bullying within the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, in particular. Should we also be concerned about a culture of bullying in the EU? Germany is not alone. Bullies rarely act alone. But Germany is alone in a decrease in youth unemployment in two age categories spanning from 15 to 29-year-olds.

If I clamber out of bed to my PC, I will attach a graph, also from the New York Time, and time permitting, a poll.

Will no professionals and caretakers remain to run Greece and Spain and take care of senior citizens there because they will have emigrated to the EU nations to the north? This seems like more than cockamamie, Chicken Little sky-is-falling alarmism.

What can be done? Have I misread? Certainly I have not read deeply, or with subtlety, but I have been pondering the situation in Europe. If this is a European Union why is Southern Europe set adrift? Hmmm…. North and South. Sounds so familiar.

You who are economists, who are humanitarians, who are statisticians: how will this new movement of peoples across porous borders affect the EU? How will it affect all of us?

We are all connected.

http://nyti.ms/1bAXiqN
NYTimes: Young and Educated in Europe, but Desperate for Jobs

The Uncooperative (and Partly English) Patient

The lowly has risen. This isn’t quite as marvelous and self-aggrandizing as it may sound. I just went from being a person with a lifetime of low, sometimes unusually low, blood pressure, to a person who was trying to calm down, so that I could go home instead of to the hospital. I guess 160/100 is no big deal…unless your normal blood pressure has been 110/60.

Was it the coffee I drank? Just those few sips? Normally a drinker of strong English or Indian tea, it was, if so, not caffeine but some other alkaloid contained in coffee.

Suggestions on what to avoid if you happen to have a sudden spike in blood pressure: self-righteous relatives who choose that moment–when you just want to avoid the dreaded hospital, to go home, and to get something to eat–to tell you how “lucky” you are. I am perfectly aware that I am fortunate not to be in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, or war-ravaged Syria, or drought-and-strife ravaged nations in Africa. And while I am not making the ultimate sacrifice of going there as a foreign aid worker–with no special medical training, I would merely be in the way–I am one of those people who broods over the terrors, natural and man made, that befall people whom I have never met. Hunger is perhaps the curse I brood over most because it is almost one hundred percent preventable. And I am almost always hungry, despite not suffering want.

Not that I am unusually generous, but I give as I feel able, and as thoughtfully as I am able, pouring over Charity Navigator, and over articles on how to help the most people with whatever (small amounts) I have to share. MSF, Oxfam, an UNICEF are usually the international aid agencies I choose for crises. There are also organizations such as FINCA, that provide small business loans, usually to women in third world countries. (Is “third world” not an outdated expression? Non-industrialized nations might be better, but even wealthy industrial nations like Japan suffer tragedy and require aid, as we saw two years ago.) I do not neglect local needs, the people who are my neighbors, either. But I could most certainly do more–much more. As I have written before, the word “charity,” except in its biblical meaning of “love” rankles. Who am I to have money and time that I choose or don’t choose to share with someone else? Lucky, that’s who. Not to mention a bit selfish.

Wherever I go out, I make my best effort to smile to someone who may be having a worse day than I am, even though I naturally tend to be on the morose side myself. Or even to smile at someone who looks like he or she is having a marvelous time. We can all be masterful at deception when we are in public. Yes, this is terribly trite, yet I hold fast to the truism that a smile can “brighten someone’s day.” My smile is probably my best feature–isn’t it everybody’s?–and it is a daily miracle to watch someone become happier simply because I have made eye contact, and smiled at them, without regard to age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, and all those other statuses. Sure am lucky. If I didn’t have teeth, for instance, I doubt I’d be smiling, and able to make even that small contribution.

My other suggestion: Don’t answer the phone. If it is urgent the caller will keep trying. One doctor’s office called the other, and while I was sitting there, head and chest pounding, sweating, being quite amazed that I had been able to negotiate the heavy Friday afternoon traffic while feeling distinctly light-headed, another doctor’s office called. What was I thinking? I normally do not answer the telephone. The telephone is my least favorite mode of communication. That’s what voice mail is for. I think my mother is starting to understand that you don’t leave a message except in urgent cases: You call, hang up, and the person you have called will call you back if he or she is able and so inclined. I was in no mood to be told to make an inconvenient drive next week to have my blood pressure checked. Every pharmacy has a cuff, and I know to check both arms, and so on. So…I was not impolite, but I was very definite in informing the receptionist that I would not be coming in for a blood pressure check because doing so would raise my blood pressure. Being even mildly terse with the receptionist, and probably labeled an “uncooperative” patient, made me even more stressed.

My blood pressure was perfectly normal at the gym yesterday, at the gym this morning. I like going to the gym: the people are friendly, and if I can’t be playing a real sport, I at least want a good daily sweat. Once I arrived at the doctor’s office, I suddenly felt strange. So I am not going to repeat that exercise unnecessarily. Yes, if I check my blood pressure at one or more pharmacies and it remains high, I will go to my GP, but until then….

It’s Friday evening. Happily, though caffeine was forbidden, beer was not.

I’m really very annoyed at myself for missing the GSW (Golden State Warriors) buzzer-beating game last night. (The GSW are an NBA basketball team based in Oakland, California.) Maybe I can find a replay on ESPN2. This is probably a good day to abandon my usual schedule.