Many challenges in July–continuing into August. Yet here we are with a good news post. A reference to the source of this post is included in a feature on the world’s climate crisis in the delayed first edition of the Eagle Peak Annual. (Formerly a Quarterly)
The point for this inclusion is the fact that even developing countries can aid in battling the climate crisis. That’s even as they wish for more modern amenities.
Instead of trying to find or buy wood to burn–or using other fossil fuels, inexpensive solar cookers can be employed.
NEW: June 2019:Solar Cookers International has recently brought life-saving solar cooking to more than 300 people in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Before you stepped in, women were often forced to sell their precious food rations for cooking fuel, putting their children at risk of malnutrition. If they dared to journey outside of the camp to collect firewood, they risked violence.
The image below is from the SCI site but is NOT from the Kakuma Refugee camp. Rather, it’s from a section on the why of solar cooking.
Didn’t get the reminder this month, but here’s something for the We Are the World Blogfest–that monthly message of good news. No politics, no crime, no pessimism–just people doing things to make others happier or healthier. Or making the world a better place.
Here’s a new one on me, culinary arts therapy.
I’ll have to confess, I’m not all into cooking or cooking shows. I only found this by chance looking at the mobile version of CNN early this morning. Had to search for it on the desktop version.
“Whenever Grandma Dolly cooked, we all would come running,” Mikki Frank reminisced while mixing pancake batter in a ceramic mixing bowl.
Her therapist Julie Ohana asked, “What about your grandma’s buttermilk pancakes made them so special?””Her love,” Frank replied.
“That’s a big part of any recipe,” Ohana affirmed.
Over the past few months, Frank has been exploring culinary arts therapy, one of the latest trends in self-care. The practice combines cooking with traditional therapy, Ohana’s specialty.
“The method is relatively new within the counseling field and has proven helpful for those with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. This is due in part to its meditative aspect.
“It’s really an exercise in mindfulness,” Ohana said. “When you’re lining up things, cutting things in a certain way, you really get into a groove. You’re really able to focus on what you’re doing, be in the moment, let other things go.”
Because I once or twice contributed to a Go Fund Me campaign, I occasionally get announcements of success stories. This is one of them that fits nicely within the monthly WATWB post.
Gunnar was hit by a truck on February 16th of 2014. . . On that cold winter day in a rural Wisconsin vet clinic, Jason Parker made a decision that altered the course of his life. His black lab had a spinal injury, and the vet offered euthanasia. Instead, Jason chose to fight for Gunnar.
Jason is a volunteer firefighter, so he knows how to stabilize patients with spinal injuries. He and his wife, Stephanie, strapped up Gunnar and hit the icy roads for the two-hour drive west to the University of Minnesota.
That’s where they discovered Gunnar’s two broken vertebrae. His lower body was paralyzed, and his chance of recovery was only 50/50. Again, they offered to put Gunnar down. Again, Jason refused.
Gunnar needed a wheeled support system to move. After the surgical bills, the price tag of $600 was too much, but friends chipped in to fund that expense.
Inspired by his friends’ kindness, Jason decided then and there that one day he’d pay it forward. He started a GoFundMe to collect donations to buy used wheelchairs for dogs and so far has sent out 100 loaner carts to 30 states and three countries. When a pet no longer needs the device or has passed away, it’s returned for use by another animal in need.
Another one of those phrases that originated from my real home life generated this snippet. Looks like something that could be a short story in the third collection (a few years out; mysteries) after editing and development.
Alice had hidden the spoon as she always did. Her special spoon. Only she could use it. For her tea. It went in the back of the drawer, behind other utensils seldom used by anyone–George that is. It wasn’t there that day in May. A day when she most needed her tea. The day George passed away unexpectedly.
He arose at his usual hour. Alice knew this because she always preceded him first to the bathroom and then the kitchen. Like clockwork, claws clicked on floor as Dixie bounded from the bedroom, eager for her morning walk. George followed, offering his typical greeting on the way out, “Morning, Alice—back in a jiff.” On his return, he gave the usual report on the quantity and quality of Dixie’s deposit at her favorite spot. He headed to his easy chair, carrying the morning Gazette. Coffee always came later for George.
Alice heard the newspaper snap open, then nothing. She called out to him, “George, you want eggs this morning?” She got no reply. A thud was the only response. She took a peek around the corner. That’s when she saw him face down on the floor.
“Perhaps a stroke—or a heart attack.” That’s what the EMT said. “The medical examiner will let you know.” He offered his condolences as he and his partner wheeled George out. “So sorry, Mrs. Andrews. Is there anyone we can call for you?”
Alice just shook her head and smiled, “No thank you young man. Just take good care of him, now.”
“Care granted to the sick, welcome offered to the banished, forgiveness itself are worth nothing without a smile enlightening the deed.”
So says Antoine de Saint-Exupery in Letter to a Hostage. Maria Popova has a wonderful piece about the short-lived author (1900-1944) of The Little Prince in her Brain Pickings site. While a journalist covering Spain’s civil war, he was captured by a group of anarchists. He feared death at their hands but they seemed less violent than bored. Popova’s excerpts begin with the blockquote above. She details how he survived this incident. Asking for a cigarette from a captor with a simple smile and a hand gesture sufficed. You will be gladdened and saddened at your reading of the full post. If you aren’t familiar with her site, you will want to read more. Over how many millennia did we humans evolve the effect of the smile–which we perhaps learned from our fellow primates?
Spring Continues Its Bloom of Life
On April sixth, I shared a photo taken on March 27th–an agave beginning its ascent. Four weeks later it reached a peak of nearly 14 feet. Now its pods are popping out from the center stalk. First they must ripen. Then their golden blooms will appear. The base of this particular mystical plant is challenged. Leaf blades were already dying before the stalk began climbing. Bites from the local herbivores left chunks in the leaves. The base hung precariously on a ledge cut more deeply by a mason for a wall made from the limestone. From where does the enormous stalk come–and so quickly? The roots are shallow. We get an average of 16 inches of precipitation per year here in southwestern New Mexico. It’s certain the stalk doesn’t grow below and then rise up fully formed.
It is the insentient will of these succulents to send towering beauty into the air. A stalk with sweet, juicy pods that nurture birds, bees, insects, deer and elk. Leaves that feed cattle and the same deer or elk. Such a powerful expression of life–of overcoming adversity. It will bloom just once. It then will die. But it’s memory lingers and serves as inspiration to us humans. Don’t give up–show what you are made of. Here’s a picture from today. Compare it to 4 1/2 weeks ago.
It’s a good thing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes you have no other choice. She can’t wear hers at all for another few weeks. The foot surgery March 20th ensures that. So I’m relearning tasks we used to share when we both worked and had kids at home.
Cooking–up to a point
Since we both retired, we have devised a division of labor that works for us. It’s more efficient that way. I do the driving, banking and financial management, vacuuming and home maintenance tasks. She does the bullet point items above. Yes, it sounds like typical male/female roles. That might seem a sexist thing–but only if we came to it from a gender defined choice and not one that works for us. Still, it’s informative and refreshing to revisit those choices when circumstances force it upon us.
We are grateful and appreciative of one another’s respective contributions. It’s a more powerful experience when we must wear the other’s shoes. It could happen that I have some incapacity for a time. It has happened. She steps in for me as I am stepping in for her. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be looking forward to a 40th anniversary next year.
It’s a humorous topic on sitcoms (we don’t watch them but still see promos for them) and in movies–men can’t cook, clean, etc. Women can’t work on cars or do home repairs. It’s not really funny–it’s stupid. Do single men–think college students, etc., have mothers or girlfriends to do their laundry and eat out all the time? No, they don’t. If women can lead corporations and be CPAs, they can handle a family budget.
We have our roles by choice. No matter who does what in a marriage, occasionally wearing the other’s shoes will help it last.
It’s an early spring for plants, birds and more. A cold and dreary winter in southwestern New Mexico has yielded to warmer weather and growing things. The first agave began popping up on a precarious ledge in late March. This photo is from the 27th. Despite its challenged base, it will be large–probably fifteen feet and three inches in diameter in four to six more weeks.
A whole crop of astralagus are spreading near are patio. They’re volunteers that perhaps arrived on the wind last year or before. One of a very small cohort of New Mexico plants that won’t hurt you if you mistakenly touch them. Their leaves are not only soft but the blooms are beautiful lavender. Unfortunately for ranchers, they’re also known as locoweed–not good for horses or cattle who might munch on them. Ours is within or fenced area where they will do no harm for all but the deer or the rabbits.
A few bees have already been visiting this and its fellow plants. Also a hummingbird has checked the flowers already, but found them not yet ready for sipping. Moths and butterflies are showing up in small quantities so far. A couple lizards have been spotted on the stucco walls of our house. We’re hitting the sixties and even the seventies on a few days. Yes, spring has sprung. The grass will not rise, at least not fescue or bluegrass–we have neither. We have bear grass, yucca and other varieties of more arid species that grow wild here. We cultivate nothing–nature provides enough colorful plants. The cacti will bloom later–barrel, cholla, prickly pear and more.
Observations make the scene. Especially when the story is not coming.
We remark on this one often enough. So today it is a snippet.
Transfixed. Obsessed somewhat we think. Limbs and needles moving in the breeze. Sun and shadows vie for his attention. What does he see that we don’t? Another lifetime, perhaps. He might have been a bird riding the rippling branches or a squirrel climbing and jumping its way to the top. Max wishes—dreams, possibly, of clawing his way to the top. In his current life he has the claws of a dog, not suited for scaling trees.
He and I do share a mental bond at times—stop/go, turn here. We anthropomorphize his conversation comments into meaningful contributions. But for the 25-foot tall juniper I read nothing from his mind. I see the stare and nothing more. His gaze upon the tree, several times a day. Someday, I wonder, will the truth be revealed?
There once was a post by D.G. Kaye about “trainstorming,”–beginning a new sentence with the first word of the last. I did it before. This is a little more. You’ll see. I didn’t keep the prompts from last week’s Gila Writer’s Group but I believe that I took no more than a word but at least never a line from any of them.
Cycles, bicycles and icicles. The messenger climbs the hill to see a serpent coldly coiled in the sun wishing for mice in the clover. Clover is a funny name for a machine brewing coffee. Coffee that might better have a flavor of clover-derived honey. Honey that drips into the baristas brew. Brew-Thru, the drive-through beer vendor in Kill Devil Hills, near Nags Head. Heads are not so common on the Outer Banks. Banks that ripped the hulls from ships for centuries past. Ships that brought the coffee beans to North America from South America, like Colombia. Colombia’s beans that are in the grind of my cafe mocha with the cacao beans.
Cycles come round. I am drinking enough of the espresso drink to profit from the punch card. The card that will give me a freebie after I buy twelve, at Sunrise Espresso in Silver City. The icicles are gone now, as weather warms, but the bicycles will return soon for the Tour of the Gila.
Here is this month’s post celebrating good news stories from people around the world. People doing good for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. This month, I found a reprint on the Good Housekeeping website of an LA Times story about a foster parent. A serial foster parent if you will. Someone who only takes in terminally ill children.
Mohamed Bzeek first started taking in foster children with his wife Dawn in 1989. A few years later, the couple committed to caring for terminally ill boys and girls because no one else would. When Dawn died in 2000, Mohamed kept up with their work. “The key is, you have to love them like your own,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”
You can find more posts like this by searching for the hashtag #WATWB or checking the pages of these cohosts for this month’s We Are the World Blogfest: