Showing posts from April, 2019

Meditation 4.30.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today, an illusion was shattered.

I had always envisioned caviar as something that was caught from sturgeon on cold, bleak winter nights, by stern Russian fishermen wearing fur hats, drinking tea and vodka, and smoking Cuban cigars.  You know, the kind that served aboard the Red October with Sean Connery.

Instead, I discovered that caviar, like everything else, comes from China and its farmed.

In fact, for several years, Russia, due to overfishing, had to ban caviar harvesting until the sturgeon population has rebounded. Beluga Caviar, because the fish is still endangered, is still restricted from sale in the United States.

As for myself, I have only had caviar once and didn't quite fancy it. I can't imagine trying it again, particularly when a jar of the "cheap" stuff runs about 75.00 an ounce.

I will stick with mushy peas, thanks.

xoxo a.d.

A Book to Read and Love: The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

A short summary of The Song of Achilles: Achilles and Patroclus, a love story.

Questions to ponder while reading The Song of Achilles: Have you ever read the Illiad?
What is mercy?
My thoughts about The Song of Achilles: True to the original storyline.
I struggled to put it down.
Mythology has the best stories.

Meditation 4.29.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I have heard some fabulous news - medical science has printed a fully functioning heart with a 3D printer.

Although the heart that was printed wasn't human-sized, it was made with human cells and the process has provided a breakthrough that will soon enable medical teams to print hearts as needed.

I think this is good news and not only because there is a shortage of donated organs. (Side note - Have you signed up for organ donation yet?) 

I have been following the story of a British woman named Katie, who five years ago, due to an infection, required a heart transplant.  In addition to the struggles in finding a donor, Katie routinely struggles with the side effects of anti-rejection medication and a deep, bittersweet feeling of knowing that she is still alive only because someone else had died.

I truly admire the strength she has shown on this journey and I wish that it wasn't so hard for her and I am glad that this technology will be coming online soon.

If we co…

A Book to Read and Love: Be Good - How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything - Randy Cohen

A short summary of Be Good: How to find your internal North Star.

Questions to ponder while reading Be Good: Is anonymity unethical?
Does self-interest affect your ethics?

My thoughts about Be Good: A good book on ethical dilemmas.
Helps define your responsibilities.
We really need to remember our ethics when we vote.

Meditation 4.26.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

In odd and macabre learning today, I discovered the etymology of the phrase "couldn't swing a cat".

I had thought that it referred to an actual cat - maybe something from Shoenderger's experiments, or perhaps a veterinarian resuscitation term coined by James Herriot.

No, the cat in question is a "cat o' nine tails".

The phrase actually originated in the British Navy. Prior to 1806, corporal punishment was common and allowed in the British Navy, and flogging was often used.

It is important to note though, that early naval ships were quite small, and, when fully staffed, were often quite full.

I can imagine that it would have been difficult to swing a whip in those circumstances.

I also glad it has been made verboten

xoxo a.d.

A Book to Read and Love: Unbearable Lightness - Portia de Rossi

A short summary of Unbearable Lightness: Portia's personal battle with eating disorders.

Questions to ponder while reading Unbearable Lightness: Honestly, how do you feel about yourself?
Do you need help?
My thoughts about Unbearable Lightness: The book made me cry.
Our beauty standards are, I think, too high, especially for entertainers.
I loved the Degeneres family before - I love them more now.

Meditation 4.25.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

The other day there was a story about the potential culling and/or destruction of a wolf pack, this one in Germany, and I must admit, I am really upset about it.

I realize the struggle that cattle and sheep ranchers have with the animals and, really, I wish they (wolves) would not eat the lambs, but there has got to be a better way to handle this issue besides the wholesale destruction of a species.

Particularly a species that is a close cousin to my beloved Ziggy.

When I moved to Arkansas, I found donkeys everywhere, and after much research, discovered that the ranchers in the area use them to protect their cattle herds from canines.

Donkeys don't like canines, not at all, and will attack them (it is strange what you can learn in rural areas, no?) and I did a quick Google and it appears that wolves also trigger donkey rage (and will also lose the fight, at least several to one).

So, perhaps instead of pack destructions, we heed the word of Johann David Wyss who said:…

A Book to Read and Love: Washington: A Life - Ron Chernow

A short summary of Washington: A Life A biography of the first president.

Questions to ponder while reading Washington: A Life What makes a war hero?
Can a good man act badly?
My thoughts about Washington: A Life George is one of my heroes.
I love the "Rules of Civility".
Sometimes, all it takes is doing your best.

Meditation 4.24.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I am always on the lookout for road trip gear, ideas, and stuff, and the other day, I found a great phone app.

The app is called "That Gunk on Your Car" (there is also a book).

With the help of the app (or book), you will have the power to identify each and every individual species of insect that you could encounter on your travels by their bug splat on the windshield.

I sense a travel game emerging and one that does not involve singing.

xoxo a.d.

A Book to Read and Love: Dark Matter - Blake Crouch

A short summary of Dark Matter: Trouble in the multiverse.

Questions to ponder while reading Dark Matter:
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you had made another choice?
How do you decide what life to live?
My thoughts about Dark Matter: The thought of a multiverse is terrifying.
Do we really have that many variables?
What makes you home "home"?

Meditation 4.23.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Recently the state of Arkansas passed a law making it illegal for anything other than rice to be called "rice".

You see, due to the paleo/keto craze, "carbs", in the form of rice, wheat, and potatoes, have been subject to a lot of bad press, but because they are still popular foods, many people are turning to alternatives to get their carb fix.

These diets have created a huge industry in substitutions. In addition to zucchini noodles and broccoli tots, you can also get kale chips and cauliflower rice, all designed to satisfy any carb craving you could possibly have while maintaining your eating plan.

In the case of Arkansas, it is the cauliflower "rice" that has caused the recent legislative furor.  Arkansas is the number one grower of rice in the U.S. and is unwilling to accept any confusion regarding rice and its origins.

Cauliflower "rice", in Arkansas, must be called "riced cauliflower".

When I first heard about this l…

A Book To Read and Love: My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile - Isabel Allende

A short summary of My Invented  Country: Isabel's memories of Chile.

Questions to ponder while reading My Invented Country: Did you know Chile had its own 9/11?
Where would you go if you had to emigrate?
My thoughts about My Invented Country: One of my favorite storytellers.
I had no idea you should store china on the bottom shelf.
I have a hankering for empanadas now.

Meditation 4.22.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Did you know roses can be passed down through the generations?

I knew they were hard to kill but I did not realize they live forever.*

* (Experts say the average is about 35 years but that article was  immediately flooded with comments talking about rosebushes lasting 200 years or more)

The first I heard of this was when my mother told me she had taken one of my grandmother's rosebushes, divided it, and planted those plants along the driveway of her first home.  She thought it was cool at the time, I think so too. 

More recently, I read an article about a rosebush that was now on its third generation (passed down through the oldest female child) and I thought, how touching. What an amazing way to keep a loved one "alive" and a family history intact.

I am inspired to try something like this, I do have a rosebush that I recently divided into three, but I have boys, and I can't imagine they are interested in roses.

I need to think of something else.

xoxo a.…

Meditation 4.17.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Did you hear?  There is another branch of the human tree.

On the Philippine island of Luzon, after the discovery of a handful of teeth and small bones were discovered in a cave, science has identified a new type of ancient human.

This one has been christened "Homo luzonensis".

What I hadn't realized, until I heard about this new human type, was that there were a lot more types of humans than I knew.  Did you know that in addition to this new discovery, us (Homo sapien) and Neanderthals (Homo neaderthalensis - I owe Jean Auel and her Earth's Children series for my introduction to this species) there were:

Homo hablis/gautengensis (South/East Africa), Homo rudolfensis (Kenya), Homo erectus/cepranensis (Africa, Eurasia), Homo ergaster (South/East Africa), and Homo antecessor/heildelbergensis (Europe/Africa).

Other skeletons that have been found, but not yet classified into a specific homo type yet are:

Rhodesiensis (Zambia), Naledi (South Africa), Floresien…

Meditation 4.16.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I love my forest a great deal. I do.

But the upkeep is enormous.

Still working on leaf clean up and limb removal and disposal.

Also, I have been keeping my eyes peeled for morels.  So far, I haven't found.  Still, time spent with the trees hasn't been wasted.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 4.15.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,
After reading about Tiger Woods this morning, I was inspired, I was driven, I was going to beat 100 today.
And then I played.....
I did not beat 100.
I was much closer though...
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 4.9.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I love bread pudding, and the dish happened to be a reoccurring theme in The Covenant. So, I have been craving it since I finished the book.

Unfortunately, the only recipes I have for bread pudding serves eight or more, and lately, it has just been Fish and me.

The custardy nature of the dish was a challenge to make work on a smaller scale, but I figured it out.  I think it came out pretty good

xoxo a.d.

Bread Pudding for Two.

1/3 Cup Raisins, soaked in water until they are plump.
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp Melted Butter, plus more for the pan
1/2 Tea Vanilla
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Pinch Salt
1 Egg
3 Cups Cubed Dry Bread

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Hear the milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt until warm, add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add in bread cubes, stirring well and "fluffing" with a fork. Turn into a buttered pan (I have a small 3 Cup casserole dish) and cook covered for 20 min at 350 degrees.  Uncover and cook until golden on top, about another 10 min.

Meditation 4.8.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Patience is not one of my virtues.

I try, but it still isn't.

I have this vision of what I want my front yard to look like.  It is a project and one that has involved altering the existing landscape to fix long-standing rain runoff issues (I am specifically addressing the issue that turned my front walkway into a lake,  it isn't inviting to greet people by rowboat). 

I even knew that this project was going to take days and days, and that really, I will be buying flowers from the farmers market this year, as most of the plants will still be too immature to flower much this year.

Still, though, I wish the project was done yesterday. I am already impatient for the results.

xoxo a.d.

My Own Words - Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of the book My Own Words: Excerpts from the Notorious R.B.G.

Questions to ponder while reading My Own Words:
What is your position on equality?
How precise is your thinking?
My thoughts about My Own Words: An in-depth reference volume of Judge Ginsburg's writings and speeches.
Full of eternally quote worthy information.
The Notorious R.B.G. is a legal genius and definitely worth paying attention too.

Meditation 4.5.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I do love my house in the forest, and I hate to complain, but there are two things I could really do without.

One, "Lake Elliott", the huge collection of water that forms on my front walk every time it rains, I hope to have fixed with the new flower bed configuration (and you thought I was just ambitious).

The second problem is a bit more challenging and I am not sure what to do.  You see, during the Spring mating season, a wake of vultures begin roosting in the trees around the house.  It is unnerving, and this year, the situation has gotten even worse.  They have taken to roosting on the roof.

I discovered this today, when I walked outside on the back deck, trying to figure out what it was that sounded like horses clomping across the roof.

I startled them, they startled me, Ziggy was barking and feathers were everywhere.

My heart has just now returned to its normal rhythm.

I think I will be spending the rest of the day indoors.

xoxo a.d.

What You Hide - Natalie D. Richards - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of What You Hide: The mysteries of the local library.

Questions to ponder while reading What You Hide: Where would you go if you had no place to go?
What do you think about the current services available to at-risk youth?
My thoughts about What You Hide: A fun read with a good message.
Blended families are hard.
We need better services for at-risk youth.

Meditation 4.4.19 - A Pen and Ink Doodle

Dear Henry,

Do you talk to plants?  I do quite a bit, especially today.

Today was stage one of the new flower beds.  I had several plants, including a 20-year-old rose bush to move to their new home.

I talked very nicely to the hollyhocks and peonies and told them how much happier they would be in their new beds.

The rose bush's conversation was much sterner.  This old guy has grown to the size of three rose bushes and was completely wrapped around himself.  I was, in addition to moving him, also dividing him.

He wasn't having it.

After an hour of the two of us wrangling in the dirt and several puncture wounds that struck bone, I finally ended up threatening him. I told him his options - that he was to submit to the move and the division or he was heading to the trash because he couldn't stay where he was. (I think I may have called him an old bastard somewhere in this exchange.)

Oddly enough, that did the trick and I was able to get him untangled, divided and into the ne…

Meditation 4.3.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Most people aren't aware of this, but, there has been a large decline in the frog population.

We love frogs, they keep our waterways healthy.  Their tadpoles eat algae and the frogs keep a variety of insects (including mosquitos) under control.

I first read about the declining frog population in Elizabeth Kolbert's book "The Sixth Extinction" but science hadn't identified the culprit at that time. 

They have now - it looks like the frog decline is being caused by a fungus called batrachochytrium.  It is common to reptiles of the Korean Peninsula, which are immune to it. Because of the reptile trade, and because people release said reptiles into the wild when they get tired of them, the fungal infection is here, on the American continents, and our reptiles aren't immune, and many are dying, especially the frogs.

I would like to call on everyone again to remember proper hiking/camping/boating etiquette. Clean your shoes/your gear/your boat between …

The Covenant - James Michener - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of The Covenant: Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of South Africa but were afraid to ask.

Questions to ponder while reading The Covenant: How much do you like to read?
What does your religion say about equality?
My thoughts about The Covenant: This is a huge damn book.
But an engrossing huge damn book.
The Apartheid nonsense was very dumb. 

Meditation 4.2.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

Today was the day I began the "prescribed burns" on my section of forest. 

It is amazing how much tinder builds up throughout the year, choking off new growth, creating fire hazards, etc, etc.

Fire is such a meditative being, particularly since you have to pay strict attention to what you are doing.  I find the entire process (at least at the beginning) relaxing and quite cleansing.  Leaving the ground bare, scattered with ash and ready for morels.

Of course, I have only gotten a small portion of the property done, I am sure by the end of the week I will not be enjoying the process any longer.

xoxo a.d.

Roughing It - Mark Twain - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of Roughing It: The biography of a riverman in the West.

Questions to ponder while reading Roughing It: Do you live close to home?
Do you prefer the glitter or the gold?
My thoughts about Roughing It: An entertaining read.
Lots of surprising info.
Twain lived.

Meditation 4.1.19 - A Pen and Ink Tangle

Dear Henry,

I heard a new word today, precrastination, that defines how I tackle problems completely.

Precrastination defines those people who start planning on how to cross the bridge five bridges ahead. 

There are several problems with this, one being that I over-plan (and overthink) everything.

I tend to waste a bunch of time and energy in the over-plan/overthink department. Instead of focusing on the problem at hand (or sleeping), I am instead, packing everything I could possibly need, to cross a bridge that I am nowhere near crossing, a bridge that I may not cross for several years (or never), and one that I could probably find all the things I will need to cross the bridge, at the bridge, and if there isn't, I am sure I can find a store that sells one, so there isn't a need to pack at all, much less carry (or drag) the items around until then.

But I do.

From what I have read, the way to counteract such activities is to, of course, acknowledge the problem with it.  But I…

The Salinger Contract - Adam Langer - Summary and Review of a Good Book

A short summary of The Salinger Contract: Finding inspiration in Salinger's Art.

Questions to ponder while reading The Salinger Contract: Should anyone other than the criminal bear responsibility for crimes?
Should books be banned because they can be inspiring?
My thoughts about The Salinger Contract: In spite of the questions raised, this is a "fun" book, not a "deep" book.
Easy to get into, Easy to stay with.
Reminded me of Carlos Ruiz Zafron's "The Angel's Game"