Tag Archives: marriage

IT’s OFFICIAL: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer

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This article appeared on NPR this morning.   It is an empirical finding by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.

The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it’s important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.

In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that “eating meat has known health benefits,” but it also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we’ve reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.

The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says there were not enough data “to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.”

Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends “consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat,” she told us in a written statement.

The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards.

The Lancet paper points out that red meat also contains “high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.” And the North American Meat Institute says lots of research points to the benefits of red meat consumption.

“Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health,” writes Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, in a statement on the new WHO classification.

Carpenter says it’s important to put this new classification in context. “IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether,” the statement concludes.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger! – The Psychological Purpose for Denial

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Are any of you familiar with the Tom Stoppard absurdist  play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?   It is about how two servants (that had minor roles in Shakespeare’s Hamlet)  were so naive that they walked into a situation that ended them, just because they delivered a message that someone didn’t want to hear.

Ring a bell?

Have you ever known anyone that would attack the messenger rather than face news that he or she didn’t want to hear?

A prime example is that of a couple of friends of mine.  He cheats. He has ALWAYS cheated….and even though she knows it,  rather than face the reality of it, the wife (my friend) will blame the women with whom he cheats, hanging on to the marriage as though her life depended on it.

In her eyes, the WOMEN are “bad” because she is sickly emotionally dependent on her husband.  He has always been disloyal to her behind her back, and he continues to be to this day.  She KNOWS about it, yet continues to cling .  She will get drunk, pick up the phone and call up the women that he cheats with, claiming that he doesn’t love them….that he is “afraid of” them…or that he has said terrible things about them.  The women sort of roll their eyes, because he has already warned them that my friend is crazy and to expect her to call.  He warns them that she will demand a 3-way phone call and insists that they ignore the request.  This is how smooth an operator he is….and how he convinces his wife that the women are lying.

The person that is actually telling the lies and committing the cheating continues along these lines indefinitely while the person that speaks out about it gets labeled the “bad one”…the “slut”…”evil”… because the recipient of the news has dependency issues that keep her in the relationship regardless of how unhappy he or she is.  She demands he throw out anything the lover has given him….which, of course, he doesn’t really do.   She demands he block her from his telephone….which, of course, he doesn’t do either.  He simply gets a dedicated phone for the purpose of calling the lover more than ever. In other words, my friend spends all of her energy trying to make misidentified “problem” go away.  She believes that if she can make the other woman “vanish” her husband will be faithful.

Ain’t gonna happen.

My friend’s husband has been unfaithful to her repeatedly.  This man is CONSTANTLY  “trolling for women” and telling them that he and his wife are on the skids.   Oh, the lies!

This poor woman has plans to spend the rest of her life with this man and she refuses to embrace the truth no matter how many times she comes face to face with it.

When well-meaning friends have tried to warn her,  she will either get mad at them for having delivered the message, or she will attack and belittle the women with whom her husband entangles himself…but she will NEVER walk away from the relationship, because she is too insecure.  She makes excuses for her husband every single time.  Does he stop cheating on her?  No.  Does she vilify the women that he cheats on her with?                           René Best musician

Yup.  Every.  single. time.

It is always THEIR fault (the fault of the other women)  and never the fault of the cheating husband.  They want him.  They throw themselves at him.  They stalk him.  He can’t beat them off with a stick!  And when caught, he declares that these other women are fat…or ugly…or crazy….and the wife falls for it every single time.

cageRene Best musician       Rene Best guitarist

Meanwhile, the other women that this man flirts with, sleeps with and swears his undying love for,  are all lead to believe that they are the special ones….that the marriage is so bad that it excuses his cheating behavior.

 The wife denies and denies it and cooks up all kinds of unsavory stories about the WOMEN….but not about the man that is stirring the pot!  She will upload photos of herself and her husband in strained, deliberately posed positions that are intended to convey their “happiness” together…but the husband instantly dispels this theory.  “She MADE me pose in that picture!  I didn’t want to do it.  She was just trying to piss you off…..”  on …and on…and on….

This action takes place because of her own dependency issues. She is desperate to convince the world…the same world that knows how miserable they are…how “happy” they are, completely ignoring the fact that he has ruthlessly cut her down to virtually everyone that knows him.   She would rather have a man that she KNOWS in her heart, is cheating, than not have a man at all.  So she remains  in total denial….even when these women occasionally reach out to try to help her.    Big mistake. Huge.


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 Is there an apple in the picture below?  I don’t think so…yet according to some people, it may very well be one…because they WANT to believe it is an apple, whether it is or not!  How sad is that?   Some people do not base anything on actual reality.  They base everything on their insecurities and needs….(…not that anyone NEEDS to be with unfaithful men. )

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Denial is an internally-generated defense mechanism that goes into action when someone is not able to face reality.    It is the refusal to admit or to even recognize that an event such as an affair (or other traumatic event)  has occurred or is currently going on.   We most often hear about denial as it relates to  alcoholics or drug addicts.   However, these are not the only times when denial kicks in.  People that  are traumatized or who  fear trauma will go into denial rather than even see the truth.    In many cases, there might be overwhelming evidence that something is true, yet the person will continue to deny its existence or truth because it is too uncomfortable to face.   Ask how things are going, and they might respond with, “GREAT!!!”  and a big, happy smile.     Why does this happen?

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Denial  protects one’s ego from things and events with which the individual cannot cope.  While this may save that person from anxiety or pain, being in denial  requires a huge investment of psychic energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.  One of these defense mechanisms is displacement.

Have ever had a really bad day and then gone home and taken out your frustration on someone else?  This is displacement.  Displacement involves taking out our frustrations, feelings, and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening.   This, too, can result in the wrong person getting the blame.   In the case of my friend, her husband is clearly the one that is doing something wrong, but my friend, instead, blames the other women….or blames her ex husband, or blames her upbringing, her parents, her boss….ANYONE AND ANYTHING other than her husband….because if she admitted that he was unfaithful, there would be no reason to justify her staying with him….and she is very insecure.  She needs a man, even one that cheats on her, to create the delusion that her life is something that it isn’t.  Convincing people on the outside that things are, “GREAT!!” is her top priority.

The type of denial that my friend has goes far beyond grace and forgiveness and into the realm of stupidity.  I guess that was unkind.  She is not stupid.  She needs help, actually….but a lot of people just view her as stupid, because THEY can see what is going on, even if she does adamantly deny it.  A defense mechanism that K. needs to develop is sublimation.

ImageSublimation allows people to act out unacceptable impulses by converting them into more socially acceptable forms of behavior. For instance, when K. experiences the uncontrollable rage that causes her to attack the messenger or, worse yet, to attack the women with which her husband carries on, she might, instead, take up gardening or join a dance group to vent her frustration.  I agree with Sigmund Freud, who  believed that sublimation is a sign of maturity that allows us to function normally in socially acceptable ways.   Going on the attack against the wrong people?   That just sucks.   Living in denial of my friend’s husband’s infidelities only makes my friend appear pathetic.  EVERYONE knows that he cheats….and she does, too, at some level, yet she continues to skirt the issue.  Living in denial is a debilitating mental illness.  It makes the person in denial look mad as a hatter while everyone else comes out smelling like a rose.

 

Having an Opera Day

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One of the things that brought us together initially, was the fact that both John and I were (and still are) big opera fans.  When we met, I had seasons tickets to the Houston Grand Opera , and we used to go together frequently….or I would go by myself….or I would go with my best mate, Katie or with my kids.

We are an opera family.  While still a high school student, my  son used to be an usher at the Houston Grand Opera, which allowed him to see all of the operas free of charge.   He has loved opera since.  I took all of my kids with me, however.  Again…we are an opera family.

I saw Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma and other of his “greatest hits” in person, upon a number of occasions, thanks to dear Katie, and still weep at the notion of his no longer being among the living. He was magnificent!  I was never fortunate enough to see him in an actual opera, however.

John and I both adore Puccini’s operas and have been listening to them this morning with the windows open, the cool breeze blowing in and the flowers blooming everywhere outside. This is another day in which the temperature is mild and absolutely perfect. (These Portland springs and summers make the dark winters well worth the wait. )

As I write this, we are listening to Pavarotti sing Turandot.  There are simply no words to describe how beautiful this music is!  It really brings out the romance in my husband, too.   🙂

Fell in love with him all over again today.

This, my friends, is a beautiful day.

Thank you, opera.

The Perils of Long Distance Love

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Long distance relationships can’t work…or so  the colloquial wisdom goes. Ok…maybe they’ll work for a while: You’ll exchange a few texts, talk on the phone when you can both steal moments alone, maybe visit once in a while, have great sex, enjoy your time together thoroughly….. But the heartache of being apart and living separate lives will finally begin to wear on you until finally, things will just fizzle out….and it really can be painful.

 

Wait!  Not true, according to a small but growing number of social science studies. Long-distance relationships are, in many ways, stronger than relationships between couples who live together or close by, shows a new study published today in the Journal of Communication.

“While the public and the science community hold a pessimistic view towards long distance (LD), this research provides compelling support for the opposite side – long distance is not necessarily inferior to geographically close dating,” says Crystal Jiang, an assistant professor of communication at City University of Hong Kong.

 

Jiang’s research suggests  that people in long-distance relationships reported feeling emotionally closer to their long-distance lovers than did people in relationships with people who were literally — geographically — closer. Long-distance couples also reported sharing more with their lovers, and feeling like their partners were really listening.

 

“You always hear people say ‘long-distance relationships suck’ or ‘long-distance relationships never work out,’” Jiang says. “Indeed, our culture, particularly American culture, emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values.”  Talking goes to greater depths.  It is easier, in some cases, to establish bonds of trust.

It’s especially reassuring to hear this now, as so many couples today are living apart.  My husband and I spend many months apart doing the year.   In fact, three million Americans live apart from their spouses (for reasons other than divorce or discordance), Jiang says. It’s a trend that’s has spawned the term “commuter marriages” in recent headlines reflecting the new realities of tough economic times — you’ve got to go where the job is, after all. And many college students, not surprisingly, live apart from their partners – up to 50 percent are in a long-distance relationship, according to one estimate in a 2005 report.

 

It gets harder to estimate how many non-married, non-college students are in long-distance relationships, but according to one estimate, 14 percent of dating relationships were long-distance, according to the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships. (Yes, such a thing once existed; sadly, it has closed). And HEY!  I’m a college student, so this is interesting stuff! 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

When the Abuser is a Woman

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I am an advocate for women. That is what makes writing this post so difficult.   I have done volunteer work at a rape crisis center, have volunteered in a battered women’s shelter, have assisted women in crisis.  I am sympathetic to the plights of women as minorities, and empathize with the inequities that exist between the sexes. Does this mean I’m a “man hater”?   Um…no.  I have a wonderful husband, a new grandson and many outstanding male friends,  a couple of whom  mean a whole lot to me in terms of how they enrich my life.  I am close to my father, and I adored all of my now-deceased uncles, and the one uncle who is still living.   My sons-in-law are great….so I am very fortunate to have all of these great men in my life.  However, my women friends are not just my women friends.  They are my sisters.  I feel a strong connection to other women and relate strongly to their thoughts, feelings and situations.  This is what makes it so difficult when I learn that a woman has been abusive toward a man.  I feel that she sets other women back by decades.                                    

Are we not above this?

 

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My friend has been on the receiving end of some serious domestic violence lately.  It is not the first time that it has happened, and I am conflicted about how to help him.  He does not want trouble.  Like any victim, he feels shame at the thought of anyone turning his abuser over to the police.  To make things worse, his  abuser is a petite flower (i.e.”stink weed”) much smaller than he, and loves to pretend that *she* is the victim.   She strikes and then feigns injury herself and has been known to call the authorities in situations where SHE was the batterer….She is mentally ill, a very dangerous type.  This violent dervish is no victim.  She hits him.  She breaks his personal property.  She screams at him.  She spies on him.  She belittles him.  It doesn’t take a genius to note the patterns that have formed through the years, nor  to ascertain that she is the liar in this scenario.  In this particular case, the abuser is also an excellent actress.   Therefore, many people outside of their home only know her as  a “really great lady.” Little do they suspect how cruel and spiteful she truly is. Then again, there are those of us who know what she is and how her seedy little mind operates.

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 Her actions not only hurt the man she is abusing.  They hurt all women, just as male-against-female domestic violence hurts all men.   I am a woman, so this issue effects me….and all women.  I hate it when men abuse women.  I also hate it when women abuse men.   I am writing this today, to speak out against domestic abuse that occurs between men and women, but in this case,I am speaking out  against  women who abuse men.    Domestic violence is wrong.

Are you with someone that  purposefully chooses to destroy only the objects she knows will hurt you emotionally – using these demolition derbies  as a demonstration of her desired power and control?   In actual fact, they are a demonstration of her emotional immaturity and selfishness.

This is the case in the abusive situation that my friend is in.  Do not be silent if you see this happening among people that you know and love.  Abusers fear exposure.  Expose them!  This is what I am going to do.  If I EVER hear of this woman abusing my friend again, I will call the police and have her thrown in jail.  I will not hesitate, even if it costs my relationship with my friend.  This is going to stop, and it is going to stop NOW.

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According to recent studies, approximately two in every five cases of domestic violence are caused by women who abuse men.  This contradicts the notion that it is always the women who are left bruised and battered.  Men that are assaulted by their domestic partners are often not taken seriously by the police, witness their attackers walking away free and have fewer refuges to where they can flee.  Data that was gathered  from Home Office statistical bulletins in England, as well as submitted by the British Crime Survey,  support the fact that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09.  2009 was the last year for which figures are currently available. In 2006-07 men made up 43.4% of all those who had suffered partner abuse in the previous year, which rose to 45.5% in 2007-08 but fell to 37.7% in 2008-09.  Similar or slightly larger numbers of men were subjected to severe force in an incident with their partner, according to the same documents. The figure stood at 48.6% in 2006-07, 48.3% the next year and 37.5% in 2008-09, Home Office statistics show.  musician

Men have a completely different set of problems with which to cope.  Because women can often be perceived as “less than” men within a given society, and are, at times,  not valued as highly as men, no one is surprised when one is battered.  This is terrible, but the data exists to support this unfortunate claim.  However, the societal pressures when a man is physically/emotionally abused by a woman are completely different.   Just as a woman feels shame and embarrassment when she is abused, men feel it, too, but for different reasons.

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This, from help guide.org:

An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, push, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you’re asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence.

Your spouse or partner may also: 

Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media sites.

  • Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
  • Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see.
  • Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
  • Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
  • Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids (or pets) if you report the abuse.

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If you have been abused and need immediate assistance, call 911 or your local emergency service.

Abused men can also reach out to the following organizations for help:

  • U.S. and Canada: 1-888-7HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754)

 

Abusers use domestic violence to gain and maintain complete control over their victims. It is not uncommon for an abuser to use guilt, fear, shame or intimidation to wear down their victims and to keep them under their control.  Abusers  may also threaten to take away their victims’ children or pets.

 

dv6Verbal abuse can be severely damaging as well.  Often men believe, that if they are not being physically abused by their partners,  they are not being abused.  This is wrong.  If either men or women are in a relationship which is draining something from them… that person may not recognize that his or her self-esteem is eroding his or her  happiness through verbal, mental, emotional and other forms of abuse.

In addition to physically harming him, my friend’s partner also verbally abuses him.  I want to help him by exposing her.

The following is a list of ways to tell if someone is being abused without being physically touched:

  • Withholding:  Does the abuser stop speaking when he or she is displeased?  Does he or she ignore you?  does he or she withdraw affection in order to punish?
  • Countering:  Are you told continually that you are wrong if you don’t agree with?  Does he or she argue against your every thought?  Tell you your feelings are wrong?  Tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about?  Are you forbidden from having your own opinions? friends? life?
  • Ridicule [Verbal Abuse Disguised as Jokes]:  Are you being made fun of?  Are you being ridiculed about subjects that you are particularly sensitive about?  Does your partner seem to enjoy it?    Does he or she use sarcasm to put you down?
  • Blocking and Diverting:  Is  the subject abruptly when you try to bring something up?  Does he or she divert serious discussions by accusing you of virtually everything under the sun?
  • Accusing and Blaming:  Are you blamed for everything that goes wrong?    Does he or she accuse you of hurting him or her when you tell him or her your feelings?  Are you continually accused of having affairs?  Is your partner jealous?
  • Trivializing:  Is what you say belittled?  Are your feelings or accomplishments dismissed?  Are you frequently insulted when you express pride in your own abilities?  Are you treated as if your work is no big deal?
  • Under-mining:  Is your enthusiasm destroyed with insensitive comments such as, “You wouldn’t understand”, or “You’ll never make it”?  Are your ideas sabotaged by his or her pointing out all the ways in which they might fail?   Are you interrupted when you need time alone?
  • Threatening:   Are you overtly or covertly threatened with emotional pain?
  • Name-calling:  Are vulgarities used to insult you?  Are you called cruel names?
  • Ordering:  Are you ordered to do something instead of being asked?
  • Judging and Criticizing:  Is fault found with everything that you do?  Are you told that you “ought to” or “should” do things a certain way?
  • Denial:  Do you witness denial by your abuser that certain things happened?  Are you told that the abuser didn’t say something or that you never saw something occur?
  • Abusive Anger:  Does your abuser erupt into a rage when angry?  Is there screaming, yelling, or shouting?  Are obscenities hurled in your direction?  Does your abusers body language become more aggressive?  Does she stomp, strut, hit things, or hit you?  Become red in the face?  Throw things?Does she physically get in your way, or follow you from room to room?  Snap at you?  Is she usually irritable?  Does all of this usually take place in private, when you are alone?  [ It’s a sure sign things are escalating if she attacks you in public. ]
  • Refusal to Accept Responsibility:  Are you blamed for his or her anger?

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If you know someone that is being abused…man or woman….encourage that person to leave.  Encourage them to prosecute.  You will be helping ALL survivors of domestic violence when you do.  Being passive is not the answer.

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Husbands, Wives and Blue Jasmine

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John and I went to see Woody Allen’s latest masterpiece, Blue Jasmine, last night.  The story is centered around a once-monied woman whose dependence on men resulted in her insanity and homelessness.

The film was an updated version of Tennessee Williams’s anti-heroine reveries about a faded Southern aristocracy that has been replaced by contemporary delusions that were bred by life as lived among the 1 percent in the Hamptons and in Manhattan.

The film begins with Jasmine’s (née Jeanette’s) arrival in San Francisco, broke but still flying first class, the dazed victim of a financial scandal involving her former husband.   Now homeless, she is forced to rely on the comfort of her adopted  sister, the slightly depressed, but still happy-go-lucky Ginger, who is romantically involved with a blue-collar lug named Chili.

Ginger resides in San Francisco’s version of the Barrio, and accepts her “lower” lot in life.  She works as a grocery clerk, a low, but honorable position in society.  Good, honest work.   Although she would love to “move up” she does what she has to do to get by.  Jasmine, on the other hand, cannot accept the fact that she has moved from point A to point B and dwells continually in her former state of wealth that disappeared from her grasp due to her reliance upon a man…her former husband…who let her down.

This film was written to perfection.  It was beautifully shot and directed very well.  I do not fault Allen’s failure to capture lower class San Francisco accurately, since he is such a New York-afile, but this was an unimportant detail in the overall scheme of things.  It was a great film!

It was also jarring.

How many women do you know that develop false senses of security because they are, or once were, married to wealthy men?  When I think of the ones in my own family, I feel ashamed and embarrassed.  When these marriages fail, they retain the sensibilities that their undeserved privileged lives once imparted,  and they become jokes in the eyes of society.

These individuals may still drive their luxury automobiles or wear their designer clothes, but they live in dumps and behave as though they are notches above their neighbors with whom they now share the same income brackets.  They need wake up calls to tell them that THINGS are just THINGS.  They need to come back down to earth and stop being pretentious.

Karma only tends to be a bitch if you are….and this goes for men and women alike.   Ones actions create that person’s  karma, and if someone wound up in the dregs of the low life, it is of her own doing.    Winding up as Cate Blanchet did  in Blue Jasmine  is not the fault of the crooked  ex husband.  It is the fault of the woman that places her faith in a man and thinks that it elevates her above other people.  Those types DESERVE to be taken down a notch or two, and I smile broadly as I think of a couple that this has happened to.

Women should be strong.  They should stop taking handouts from their husbands, generate their own income streams and be self-reliant and independent.  A marriage should be a partnership…Not a free ride.  Every person alive should learn to make his or her own way through this life.  If a spouse is successful, that is great.  However, one should not assume that another person’s success is HER success.  It isn’t.   Her husband’s success is HIS success.

Every woman should be strong and independent on her own.  She should prepare for life’s ups and downs and not put all her eggs into one basket.  She should become whole before marrying instead of expecting her husband to complete her.

If she doesn’t, she may just end up in a living hell where it is hot….hot….hot.    If she doesn’t become whole first, she will end up whining about her ex husband for the rest of her life and claiming that it was all HIS fault,  instead of living the good life that every woman should have.

Places in the World a Woman Can Walk

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Today, it started to sprinkle a little bit….not really rain….but I was in the mood for a walk, so I grabbed John and told him that I had a surprise for him….and we set off for Powell Butte, one of the many urban forests in Portland.  It was such a beautiful experience for us both.  I had hiked on Powell Butte once before, but without John, and I didn’t even tell him where we were going until we got there.  He had never been, and was very happy when he saw our destination.

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So hard to believe this forest is only 15 minutes from home!  Powell Butte is the site of an  extinct cinder cone volcano that rises near the headwaters of Johnson Creek – an urban creek that runs near our daughter’s home.  It has a remnant populations of native salmon and steelhead that one can see occasionally from the shore. The park is comprised of 608 acres of meadowland and forest.  We went to the densest forest area that has trails running up the side of the volcano.

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Before the turn of the century, the large meadow area was cleared and an orchard planted, although there are no signs left of it today.   In 1925 the City of Portland bought  the property from George Wilson because they planned to build future water reservoirs there.  However, they continued to lease the northeast section of the property to Henry Anderegg, a farmer and owner of Meadowland Crest Dairy, until 1948 when he retired. . However, dairy cattle were permitted to graze on the acreage to preserve the pastures. In the mid-1970s the Water Bureau prepared a development plan for Powell Butte that called for the construction of four 50-million gallon underground reservoirs to be located at the north end of the butte. In 1981 the first, and only, reservoir was built and still serves as the hub of the Water Bureau’s distribution system. Also, the Powell Valley Water District has three reservoirs on the butte. In 1987 the City officially established Powell Butte as a nature park and the park was opened to the public in 1990.

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Today, miles of trails accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.   In fact, we were almost run off the trail by a group of 10-yr. old mountain bikers that shattered our serenity with their war cries and shrieks as they sped down the hill.  After they had passed, however, the quiet was restored.

Abundant wildlife populates the park, including rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, ground squirrels, raccoons, gray foxes, skunks, bats, chipmunks, coyotes, and black-tailed mule deer. The park is home to many birds of prey with its open meadows, groves of wild hawthorn trees, forested slopes of Western red cedar, and wetlands near Johnson Creek.

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We didn’t see any wildlife today….not even birds, but the walk was splendid, regardless. The weather was cool and breezy, and we felt the occasional raindrop….just enough to keep us cool during our brisk walk.  We walked all the way to the top, too!

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I loved all the moss growing on the trees…and the ferns on the forest floor.

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I loved everything about this walk!  John and I had a great chat as we strolled up the path to the top of the ridge, and then back down again.  He called me,  “Sacagawea” because I have a real knack for finding my way around in a forest.  He claims to always get lost.  I told him I would rescue him.  No problem.  🙂

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This was a nice end of summer walk…and we both remarked about how it was beginning to feel like autumn a little bit.

A new season for new adventures….

Online Relationships

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One of my favorite documentaries is a film called, “Catfish” in which a young man who is involved with a beautiful woman decides to document their first real-life meeting.  What transpired is not pretty.

CATFISH                      <—–CLICK

SPOILER ALERT:
When he arrives, everything is different from what he had imagined.

Last night, John and I watched the TV spinoff from this documentary, a series by the same name.  I think we watched three episodes, and in each one of them, one person would misrepresent him/herself to another person.  The people from the show would check it out, and the other person would be crushed.

Why do people misrepresent who they are online?

I know one person who is living in hell, in a horrible relationship, living in some little tin can dump, but to read what she writes online, you’d think everything was peachy-keen.  She continually pursues men and makes them think she is living in Nirvana….but when they meet her in person…OUCH!    WHY do people do that?  Why not just be comfortable with and own up to who you REALLY are?

I know a lot of folks who have met online and have successfully developed relationships.  My own daughter, in fact, met her husband online.  They have been happily married for 10+ years, have a beautiful daughter, and a beautiful life.  They love one another and are happy.  Things turned out well for them.   One of my closest friends met her husband online, too.  Same story.

What happens when things don’t work out with these relationships?  I keep thinking of that kook who shot that poor woman….the Craigslist killer.  I think of other disastrous examples, and it sort of scares me.

I invited one friend that I met online, a fellow artist,  to come spend a weekend while John was away.   I took Ingrid with me to pick her up at the train station.  We went to the Fine Art Museum, out to dinner, gallery hopping and we watched, “Nashville” (a favorite TV show of mine) together.  Everything went beautifully. She was a perfectly normal person and is now a great friend.   My husband, on the other hand, made friends with someone online and had highest hopes about a real friendship, but things did not go well.  His “friend” had severely misrepresented reality.   It happens, and was a lesson learned.   ….so one never really knows until he or she meets the other person face-to-face.

All I can say is to be careful before you engage with someone online, and especially if you plan to meet that person in real life….and don’t be too surprised or disappointed if your situation turns out to be another CATFISH.

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Have any of you ever been involved in friendships or romantic relationships  online that turned into a nightmare when you met the person in real life?  Have you experienced meeting someone in person who turned out to be completely different from the way that he/she represented him /herself online?    I’d love to hear your stories.  I am going to write a piece about this subject.  Either comment here, please, or shoot me an email, if you prefer a more private discourse.

Adjusting

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My husband will be returning home at the end of next week.  He was supposed to come home today or tomorrow, but has been delayed.  I was thinking this morning, about what an adjustment it will be.  With no discredit to him, I have grown into a routine,  and to avoid going mad with loneliness and grief about his absence, have embraced being alone, and have rather enjoyed it.  Again, no discredit to my husband.    I love him, and I love having him around.  I think I just grew used to his being gone so much over the winter, that I’m feeling a little scrambled right now, anticipating his living here at home until October.

We always have a good time together.  Our marriage is rich and full, and we both fit into our unified life very well. However, when he is home, I am less productive, work wise, because I’m always doing things for him.  He is probably less productive, too, as he is always doing things for me.  When he is gone, I get into work mode and go into high gear. My days and nights are full of activity.   Winding back down will take some adjustment.   I like to keep things peaceful and calm when he is home.

Here is a fun little meme that a friend posted on Facebook today….
In your relationship w/ your S.O./spouse:

1. Who eats more?
HE does.

2. Who said “I love you” first?
HE did

3. Who is the morning person?
We both are.

4. Who sings better?
Definitely, me.

5. Who’s older?
He is 10 years older than I.

6. Who’s smarter?
We’re both pretty smart, but he has the credentials to prove it.  Still….he asks me for advice….so that says something…right?
7. Whose temper is worse?
Neither of us have much of a temper….at least, not with one another.

8. Who does the laundry?
I do.

9. Who does the dishes?
I do.

10. Who sleeps on what side of the bed?
I’m on the left.

11. Whose feet are bigger?
His are

12. Whose hair is longer?
Mine is

13. Who’s better with the computer?
I am

14. Do you have pets?
Not at this time.  Our two little dogs died in the same year, about 3 years ago and we haven’t  had the heart to get others.  Just can’t replace them.  They were old boys and so loved.  We both really miss them!

15. Who pays the bills?
I pay my own bills…he pays his.

16. Who cooks dinner?
I do.

17. Who drives when you are together?
He usually does.

18. Who pays when you go out to dinner?
We both pay for one another, fairly equally.

19. Who’s the most stubborn?
Without a doubt…I am.

20. Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong?
I do.

21. Whose family do you see more?
Mine

22. Who named your pet?
It was a mutual decision.

23. Who kissed who first?
He kissed me…and wow!  What a kiss!  We were leaving the River Cafe in Houston after an art opening, walking to his car, when he turned around and REALLY laid one on me.  I saw stars!

24. Who asked who out?

You mean…whom?  🙂  He asked me….and asked….and asked….and asked…until I finally said, “Yes!”    (Good decision, Stacy!)

25. What did you do on your first date?

Went to see, “Hamlet.”

26. Who’s more sensitive?

We both are.

27. Who’s taller?
He is.

28. Who has more friends?
We both have a lot of friends.

29. Who has more siblings?

We each have one.

30. Who wears the pants in the relationship?
Give me a break….

Protected: Breast Milk Jewelry? Say what?

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Ring In the Love!

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We have moved from Reno, and are now staying on the edge of  Tahoe  in a beautiful little ski-lodgy-type house among the pinion pines, coyotes, owls and leftover snow.  It is peaceful and serene here and a nice contrast to the faster pace of Reno.   At night, we have been building a fire in the wood burning stove, putting on some jazz, pouring ourselves a little wine, cooking  a good meal and having relaxing evenings, taking best advantage of this time off from our high-pressure jobs.  Both of us are winding down and feeling rested and good, in general.  I, for one, feel a lot better,  like I’m finally recovering from that horrible illness that I had for 14 weeks.

Today, we decided  to go into the historic district of the  nearby town, so off we went.  We had a delightful time poking around in shops and chatting it up.  We ate at Moody’s where in 2004,  Paul MacCartney did an impromptu little concert.

You can read about the Sir Paul gig  here:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/people/2004-03-30-paul-mccartney-tahoe_x.htm

We had a couple of cocktails and a delightful lunch.  Then we strolled down the street and looked in a few shops.  We were in one, a handmade jewelry shop that both of us loved.  Fun shop with a lot of cool art and hand made jewelry.  We left, and then John ran back in “to get his wallet” and came back out with a surprise early anniversary gift!

It is a blue tourmaline (one of my favorite stones) set in yellow gold.  The white gold band is both smooth and textured.  These pictures do not do it justice.  Suffice it to say, I love it…but I love him more.  What a sweet thing to do!  I need to think of something good to give to him.  I have a few ideas…..

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Lying by Omission

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“Technically….I didn’t lie to her….”

Is there such a thing as lying by omission?

I’m not talking about harmless white lies here, as in “Does my butt look big in this?”   I am talking about  the omission of truth that, if known,  has the potential to hurt someone deeply, and to cause them emotional pain and anger.

 I believe that there is.  In fact, I believe that the person who omits the truth when he or she knows damned well that his or her partner would be crushed if he or she knew it, is as much of a liar as the person who looks you squarely in the face and tells a big whopper.

When we are connected with others and we are not fully forthcoming about matters of the heart, matters  that serve to hurt and deceive them, we can accurately be branded as liars even when we omit information rather than speak lies from our mouths.

Silence can be good at times, but in instances when the mechanics of a relationships are involved,  silence is tantamount to telling a serious lie…especially  when our partners want to know the truth, ask us outright what the truth is, and receive evasion or silence.

Any relationship that is sustained on lies is no REAL relationship at all….at least, not a healthy, respectful one.   These types of relationships are sustained on insecurities and on sick psychological dependencies that have nothing to do with love.  Committed partners simply don’t do it to one another.

These types of lies, the silent ones,  should not be confused with maintaining a sense of privacy in a relationship.  No one should be obligated, for example, to give his or her partner their passwords,  or to reveal personal information that does not threaten the relationship.   That is invasive and frankly,  just silly.  Everyone deserves privacy, but one should simply be able to state that openly.  “No, I don’t feel comfortable giving you my Facebook password, because I’d like to maintain my privacy.”  There is nothing wrong with that.

However, if someone is having an affair, it is different.

I have a good friend who exists in an untruthful relationship.  He fears his partner,  so virtually never tells her  the truth.  As a result, my friend is tied into knots half the time, miserable and unhappy, confused, hemmed in, resentful and living an inauthentic  life that doesn’t even remotely resemble who he really is.  He is in the relationship because of guilt, obligation, psychological dependency….but not because of a conscious, adult choice.  He is in the relationship because he fears his partner, not because he loves her.   But does that excuse his lying?  I can only speak for myself when I say that I would never remain in a relationship where I could not be my authentic self.  If I feared my partner, then I would not really consider that person to be an actual partner….and I can see infidelity being the result of that…but why not just split?  Some people won’t split because their relationships are abusive.  They have been convinced that they have no power without the abuser.

Just as a lie is a misrepresentation of the truth, so is remaining silent in those instances when doing so might make the other person believe something that is far removed from the truth.  Spoken or unspoken…a lie is a lie.…and if someone is doing something that his or her partner would break up with him or her over, then the union is a farce.

 I cannot, for the life of me, justify or even imagine being in a relationship where I had to lie to my partner…either spoken or by omission….just so I could go ahead and  do what I wanted to do behind that person’s back!  Why on earth would I want to be with someone who would not allow me to be myself….to talk to the friends I want to talk to….to go the places I want to go?   To me, partnership means sharing one’s life…not hiding it….and if you’re involved in a relationship where you have to hide your authentic self,  it isn’t really a partnership, and it isn’t a love relationship.  The whole  thing is a lie.

Misleading statements are also lies.

 A misleading statement is a tricky kind of lie .  It occurs when  there is no outright, obvious  lie told, but it still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe  an untruth….and what is the point of that?   If my husband/partner cannot accept what I do, tough.  I am an adult, and I am in a partnership, not a prison.  It is not my place to tell him what to do, and it is not his place to tell me what to do.  I  am faithful because I want to be….not because I have to be.  I am faithful out of a sense of respect for my marriage.

What about partners who issue ultimatums?  Is that a good reason to lie or to withhold the truth?    Ultimatums are for faux relationships that are unsteady and unbalanced.  Ultimatums that exist for the sole purpose of controlling another person should not exist.  Honesty should.  There is nothing wrong with having boundaries.  There is no fault in someone’s saying, “If you do that again, I will not participate in the relationship any longer,” but there is a distinct difference between setting boundaries to maintain one’s own sanity, and tossing out ultimatums to control the person you are involved with.

 Fortunately, I have enough respect for my husband to be honest with him.  It makes me sad to see friends who are in relationships where they do not respect their partners enough to tell them the truth.  That, to me, is tantamount to living in hell.  I simply wouldn’t do it….even in the case of my friend who lies because his partner creates hell when he tries to be honest.

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As adults, we all have the right to privacy.  When another adult asks a question about something that we don’t want to answer, each of us has the right to say, “I’d rather keep that information to myself.”  However, in the case of fidelity between couples, I don’t think so.  If you are in a committed relationship and your partner is lying to you…either with word or deed…or in silence….my advice is to beat it to the nearest door. …unless you are helpless and dysfunctional.  Then, you are apt to simply wallow in it while other people whisper about what a fool you are……forever.  And they do.  You can count on that much.

Day # 28 – LOOKING BACK

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Photo a Day – OCTOBER

Day # 28 – LOOKING BACK

Stacy Alexander 2012

(Original art by Stacy Alexander ©2012 All Rights Reserved)

Excited

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I am sitting here in front of the fireplace facing the window.   We are staying at a lodge not far from Crater Lake in Oregon.  Two deer are grazing on the wheat grass outside.  A squirrel is on the balcony having a heated conversation with a crow….something about ownership rights of an acorn, I believe.  That is the only sound I can hear right now, other than the soft tap…tap…tap ….of my fingers on this laptop keyboard, and  the rise and fall of my husband’s sleeping breath in the bedroom.    I feel happy…at peace with the world.  I had a good conversation with John yesterday while we were driving.  I feel loved today, and happy, and excited about getting home.

I sneaked out of bed early this morning, just so I could enjoy a few quiet moments in this lovely environs.  I have been traveling for  over a month now, and am excited to go home today.   My daughter and her sweet family stayed at our place while we were gone, and I loved it that they were there.  However, I will be so happy to sink into my big bed tonight, and to wrap myself in my soft sheets and blankets.  The rain has come to Portland, I hear, and one of the sweetest sounds I can imagine, is the gentle drumming as it hits the Zen garden rocks outside of our bedroom window.   Unlike the fat, mean plops of rain we had in Texas, when we weren’t sure if it would flood, or if our house would crumble and fall, the rain in Portland has an opposite emotional affect.   Cleansing.  Refreshing.  Gentle.  I truly do love living there.

The first task when I get back and get settled, is to move my studio into the garage.  It is a nice garage, with plenty of room, and I hope it will work out for me as a studio.  If not, I will seek another place where I can get back into my heart’s calling.  I got a lot of inspiration during my travels and many ideas are brewing in my head.  I took copious notes and did lots of sketching while I was gone.

I plan to spend a lot more time in the kitchen, too.  First up on the list is to explore how to make the drinking vinegars that are served at Pok Pok, just down the street from our place.  They are similar to Kombucha, but different….very delicious and healthful.  I will be seeing my acupuncturist, Danielle, in the week to come, and I will be joining a new meditation group.  It is funny how inner happiness, love and joy can spawn new ideas and move a person forward.

I love the way our place smells….a mixture of fresh clean air and the faint scent of earthy incense, fresh flowers, and my incessant baking from days long passed.

I am going to pack now, the few things that I brought into the lodge with me last night, and then I will awaken John.  We will have breakfast at the lodge and then head out on the highway, ever north…..me, with my camera always at hand, always amazed at the beauty of the landscape around here, excitement growing in my heart as we near Portland, and John, reaching over occasionally as he drives, to squeeze my hand….and classical music on the radio….or the news on NPR….or a soft conversation……and love in my heart.

It feels good to feel loved….and happy.   Sometimes, I even feel sorry for that woman who stalks me.   Wishing even HER peace this morning….and some love.  Sending it her way in hopes that her heart will find peace,  and that she will give way to it and let it enter her consciousness.  Yes, sometimes I do feel very sorry for her.  I cannot fathom what it must be like to be as obsessed with someone else’s life as this woman is with mine.

Day # 23 – PAIR

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Photo a Day – AUGUST

Day # 23 – PAIR

©Stacy Alexander

This is a picture of us at our wedding recommitment ceremony at a San Francisco art gallery.  A friend from Oakland,  Darwin, officiated.  Our ceremony has Buddhist elements, but did not focus on any one religion (Buddhism is not a religion.  It is a set of rules for living, many of which are also included in Christianity.)   I wore the antique, white kimono, shown below.

It is in  cold storage right now, but the plan is to put a rod through the top of it and hang in on the wall of our bedroom .  I dried my bouquet of Equadorian roses and they are hanging there now.  Still almost as pretty today as they were back then….only dry.

My husband  wrote our beautiful ceremony!  Our  Seattle friend, Sheryl, who flew down for the occasion,  gave readings.

For entertainment, a Brazilian dancer did two modern dances.  We had a jazz singer, a jazz guitarist and a jazz didgeriedoo player! It was a lovely and unique array of entertainment and fun.

After the ceremony, we took everyone out ….the entire congregation….to Millennium  ( http://www.millenniumrestaurant.com/) for dinner and champagne.  It was truly fabulous!  After that, everyone went over to our little hotel suite on Alameda for cake and coffee….and more champagne.  Beautiful memories!

Day # 22 – HOME

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Photo a day – AUGUST

Day # 22 – HOME

©Stacy Alexander – 2012

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This photograph represents my family, my friends in general, and one special friend with whom I am very close.

Fondu for Dr. Freed

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My husband was in the mood for fondu tonight, so I decided to whip some up for a nice dinner outside, under the stars.   Fondu is the easiest thing in the world to make, and quick, too.

I began by whipping up a simple baguette. I prefer the heartier flavor of a whole grain bread with my fondu, but some people prefer a more delicate bread.  John would probably eat light bread, if I would let him, but I won’t. 😉

While it baked, I began the fondu.

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I use a very simple recipe that begins with a cup of white wine.  I always use an inexpensive, yet tasty, Italian pinot grigio, because the flavors are less delicate than the pinot from the Napa or Willamette Valleys or those from France.  (We reserve those wines for drinking.)  The Italian pinot grapes are much more pronounced, crisper and better (in my opinion) for cooking with cheese.  This varietal is a nice, pale, straw color and has a crisp flavor with hints of melons, peaches, limes and lemons.  It is light and dry….so you could also drink it with this fondu and it would be nice…but I prefer to use it for cooking.

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So….to make this cheezy concoction, simply pour one cup of the white wine of your choice into a pan and bring it to a boil.

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While the wine is heating, make a roux from butter and flour in another pan.  When it is done, set it aside.

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This recipe uses both swiss and gruyere cheeses, 7 ounces each.   Do not skimp on the cheese, because this is the key ingredient….so buy the finest cheese that you can afford.  Shops that specialize in cheese are highly recommended for the best selections.

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Cube the cheese and add it to the hot wine .

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Stir continually over medium/low heat until it melts, but take care not to overcook.

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Just before  the cheese has finished melting, add a little nutmeg.  Do not use nutmeg from a can.  Grate a nutmeg seed with a grater.  The flavor difference is wonderful, and it goes all through the cheese.  Fresh is always best!

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Next,  while keeping the mixture on low heat, slowly integrate the roux into the melted cheese mixture.  Continue to stir until it gets nice and thick.  The texture should be smooth.

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Once the fondu has thickened, transfer it to the fondu pan and serve with a variety of breads, fruits and veggies.

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For this meal, I tossed together a spinach salad with micro greens, candid pecans, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and blueberries, and a fresh, homemade raspberry vinegarette dressing.   It’s funny, because  I went to four different stores to get these ingredients when, in fact, Trader Joes sells a similar salad all in one bag.  Thing is, the one from Trader Joe’s is not organic, so I passed on it.

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We sat out on our little deck, under the stars, and listened to Winton Marsalis, talked softly, had a few laughs, a few soft kisses, sipped some very nice wine,…..and felt lucky to be alive.  And thankful.

This whole fondu thing is VERY fattening, so we don’t want to do it very often, but for tonight, it was the right thing.

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Ahhhhhhhhh!

A simple thing like a meal can mean so much.  Life is sweet.