Two Eggs

My daughter and her roomies have discovered a hummingbird nest in the backyard of their Castro rental. Mother bird has been busy tending to her two would-be off-springs.

Two eggs sit on their nest nestled among the greens on the backyard of our daughter's Castro rental. photo credit Lara Ortiz-Luis

Two eggs sit on their nest nestled among the greens on the backyard of our daughter’s Castro rental. photo credit Lara Ortiz-Luis

Notice how each egg is a different color. And a great color together too! How did she do it? She won’t say. She just continues to hum.

Posted in bird's nest, Gardens, Hummingbird, Nature, Postaweek, spring | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dog Goes Everywhere!

My friends from Orinda have been empty nesters for longer than we have been. They raised three kids. Their youngest, a daughter, went to NYU and has been swallowed by the Manhattan scene ever since.

Hershey on an evening stoll along the Embarcadero (Bay Bridge Art Installation), photo credit Liz Regan

Hershey on an evening stroll along the Embarcadero (Bay Bridge Art Installation), photo credit Liz Regan

In the recent years, we have noticed that every couple of months, they would have a visitor.  Then, he became a border.  Slowly, he has insinuated himself into their daily lives. Now, it looks like he’s a permanent fixture in their household.

I’m referring to Hershey, a mix Corgi and Chow.  They don’t really know how old he is.  He was adopted from the pound by my friend’s son and his then girlfriend from years back.   The relationship went south but they amicably shared the care for Hershey.  Well, that was possible until Colin moved to New York and the Ex went to Law School.  And so, Hershey has been spending more and more time with my friends.  In fact, he’s been everywhere they have been!

Hershey on a hike in the Sunol, photo credit Liz Regan

Hershey on a hike in the Sunol, photo credit Liz Regan

There are many perks to being empty nesters.  The maddening period of juggling schedules and running around the entire Bay Area for meetings? Done.  The late nights up helping with projects or waiting to hear the front door open and close so we can close our other eye and the other half of our brain can go to sleep too? Check. The weekends spent driving to Reno or Sacramento or Chico for tournaments with cases of water, fresh fruits and other snacks?  Check.  The images have faded into wistful memories.

We can’t underestimate our need to nurture and care, however.  We celebrate the nest being empty but really, we still need the gentle intrusion somehow.  We still want and need the connection to our kids in one way or another.  Old habits die hard.

Hershey just woke up from a nap, photo credit Liz Regan

Hershey just woke up from a nap, photo credit Liz Regan

Posted in Corgi, dog, Empty Nest, Parenting, Pets | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Coolest Biker Pooch

While walking around a street fair this afternoon, my hubby and I came across one of the coolest dogs yet!

The Coolest Biker Pooch Ever! Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

The Coolest Biker Pooch Ever! Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

Posted in dog, Dog clothing, Pets | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Flowers To Greet!

Cymbidiums at the front porch, photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Cymbidiums at the front porch, photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Happy Spring, everyone! My flowers want to greet you all!

Posted in Cymbidiums, Flowers, Orchids, Spring | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Gods Envy Us

“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

                                                        Achilles, from the  2004 Movie, Troy

It has been quite the roller coaster ride these past few days. I’ve come to realize over the years that there are a few things that can compel me to stop dead on my tracks, that practically all my activities come to a screeching halt. Well, almost.  It’s when I’m so sick I can barely get out of bed.  These have been few and far between, thank goodness!  I’m not talking the odd sniffle or a bout of indigestion.  I’m talking full-blown asthma requiring repeated inhalations and even the dreaded oral steroids. Bitter. Nasty. Not good for my bones either.

It crept up from behind in the shadows of the back porch. I noticed a mild wind last Saturday. I thought my head throbbed. I dismissed it as maybe the effect of low blood sugar from having skipped lunch. Or maybe I wasn’t drinking enough. I went to bed slightly congested. I thought maybe a mild cold was starting. For the rest of the weekend, I started to cough and sputter. By Monday morning, I had the full-blown orchestra on my chest, with wind instruments predominating.

My bedside table full of meds, tea, reading material, tissue. PHoto Credit (c) Likeitiz

My bedside table full of meds, tea, reading material, tissue. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

They say that it’s not uncommon for fifty-somethings like me to think about mortality every now and then. In between bouts of breathiness, chest rattling,  and forceful hacking, when I managed to breathe calmly, I thought of people I know who have had a more direct confrontation with their possible leap to the great beyond. And I considered myself fortunate.  I’ve been miserable. I have been exhausted from coughing so frequently and my brain has been addled by all the medications I’ve had to ingest and inhale.  I’ve been sleep-deprived (and have also kept my hubby up for several nights now!) for days and nights. But I knew that my symptoms would abate in a few days with the requisite rest and medication.  I do not have a deadline. I don’t have a date with a cloaked stranger.

Troy and Briseis, from the  2004 film, Troy, photo credit fanpop.com

Troy and Briseis, from the 2004 film, Troy, photo credit fanpop.com

I thought about the scene in the film, Troy, where Achilles tells Briseis that the gods envy us (humans). I wonder if these Greek gods ever had the chutzpah to see beyond living day after day unendingly. Do they savor their days as much as we mortals do, knowing we can’t have forever? Then I realize my thought process would be too limited to grasp their vast complexity. So I let it go.

It has been almost five years since I was sick enough to stay home for a few days. Each time, I take it as a reminder that I am human and therefore, vulnerable.  I call in to work and I hear that my team manages. I am reminded that I am dispensable.  My hubby and my daughter have cared for me. I know I’m loved.

I woke up this morning feeling a little better. I think the worst part has passed. I took a shower and for lunch, I made myself a gorgeous salad.  No more soup.  I managed to demolish my creation without spewing chewed up greens across the kitchen when I had to cough.  For this, I am grateful.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown Dancing. From Stop First World Whining: Get Grateful, courtesy of  www.forgetthebox.net

Snoopy and Charlie Brown Dancing. From Stop First World Whining: Get Grateful, courtesy of http://www.forgetthebox.net

Posted in Asthma, Cough, Health, Illness, mortality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Shoes Eating Socks?

Cartoon courtesy of anopensketchbook.com

Cartoon courtesy of anopensketchbook.com

I recently acquired from Zappos a much coveted pair of Jambu Barefoots. It was an older edition so I had some difficulty finding it, and at the color I wanted too. As luck would have it, it was on sale too! There were not too many left. So, I decided to  purchase one. I have one other Jambu shoe from a few years ago so I went by  that previous experience.

My Jambu Barefoot, Photo Credit Likeitiz

My own Jambu Barefoot, Photo Credit Likeitiz

Almost everything about these shoes is perfect. I love that it’s soft and light but the soles are built with a lot of thought for support at the right spots and cushions where it’s needed.  My feet felt like they were on a TempurPedic bed all the time. It has enough width for my wide fronts so my toes can tap and stretch when they feel like dancing along. The color is a bright aqua blue with neon lime green accents.  It cried “fun!” to me. It ties just at the right distance on the midfoot so my heels should not come up when I lift my heel off the ground and my foot bends at the forefoot.

Photo courtesy of coffeeandcrazy.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of coffeeandcrazy.blogspot.com

I have always said that I should not buy shoes online unless I have tried the shoe in the exact style on my feet.  Well, the shoes are a tad loose at the heel.  It is still okay for walking in them but, my socks keep sinking down into the shoe to the point where it’s all scrunched down in a ball  halfway  through my feet! I tried longer socks, thicker socks, shorter socks, my Smartwools. Nothing worked!

Socks in Heaven, cartoon courtesy of google images/cartoonstock.com

Socks in Heaven, cartoon courtesy of Google images/cartoonstock.com

What was I to do? I love this shoe. I looked online. There was no available half-size smaller left anywhere. I dug my heels (no pun intended!) and with a stiff upper lip, decided to keep it.

Early this morning, I thought I’d look online at what other people have to say. I’m certain I’m not alone in this.  Some of the responses were too off the wall to include here but believe me, this issue has been discussed for ages!  Here’s a sampling of what I found:

 I’m Not Your Friend, Buddy says:

“Quit wearing bulldogs as shoes!!!”

Wha? You mean like this?

Dogs and their human's shoes, photo courtesy of pets.webmd.com

Dogs and their human’s shoes, photo courtesy of pets.webmd.com

Sandra Panda said:

“because you obviously don’t feed them enough.”

Jordan H volunteered:

“Why do birds fly south in the winter?”

Still some like Georgia G&G Gypsie contributed:

“I found that if I bought shoes that were a tad big, my socks would slide down from the friction created by the extra room in my shoes…if you get shoes that fit you perfectly-there shouldn’t be a problem :) good luck with those biting shoes :D”

And then, there is Aby from randomthoughtsofanagingartist.blogspot.com, who laments in a post:

“Why do my Crocs eat my socks?”

Still, there is Donna Fielder of DentonRC.com, who swears that Fiendish Socks Require Exorcism! She’s convinced they are possessed by demons! She’s a hoot, by the way.

Tut Uncommon mused:

“Perhaps the shoe wishes to frame the dryer in the great “Missing Sock” Mystery!”

I’ve trolled through most of them. Some recommend orthotics while some say it makes no difference. Others say it’s the friction between the loose heel, the back of the foot with the sock in between. And it does lead to holes in socks and blisters on affected parts. Nasty!  Then there are the issues of people with too delicate an ankle that it does not fill the back of the shoe adequately. Hence, the gap and the slippage.  Many have sworn by various sophisticated brands of socks (Smartwool, Thorlo, Keen, Bridgedale, to name a few). Pricey, they say, but worth the peace of mind with happy feet. (Remember the tyranny of the little pebble in your shoe?)

As for me, I’ve found a little respite recently. The weather is starting to warm up. So, I’m putting away my thick socks. I found these:

They're called Toe Covers! I don't know why. I rather think they're front foot covers but maybe that's too hard to say or print on labels.  Photo courtesy of thedancewearshoppe.com

They’re called Toe Covers! I don’t know why. I rather think they’re front foot covers but maybe that’s too hard to say or print on labels. Photo courtesy of thedancewearshoppe.com

I found them in most big department stores like Nordstrom. They serve their purpose well enough. Or, I can always do this:

Go sockless like Dwayne Wade! photo courtesy of thedailyup.com

Go sockless like Dwayne Wade! photo courtesy of thedailyup.com

But then, I’d need Kickstarter’s Sole Socks. They’re odor eating insoles that can be rewashed!

Or, I can go around town like Harrison Ford below, playing football in his socks on the tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport sometime in January 2014.

Harrison Ford playing football in his socks on the tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport, January 2014, photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

Harrison Ford playing football in his socks on the tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport, January 2014, photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

I think not. I’d be going through a lot of socks.

I think I’ll stick to my toe covers and enjoy the warming weather with my spiffy shoes!

P.S. Next time, maybe I’ll solve the mystery of why some shoes squeak. I don’t think the answer lies necessarily in their testimony…

 

 

Posted in Barefoot Shoes, Footwear, Jambu, Postaweek, Shoes eating socks, Walking Shoes, Zappos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To My Nieces On Their Graduation

Ronna and Mara Childhood Photo, photo Courtesy of Mara Yee's Facebook Photo Collection

Ronna and Mara Childhood Photo, photo Courtesy of Mara Yee’s Facebook Photo Collection

Dear Ronna and Mara:

This period marks such a milestone to you and your family, with a high school graduation and a college graduation in the same year. For us parents, it is a time for quiet gratification that we have seen you through this far in your young lives. We look back through the years from the day we first witnessed you opening your eyes and through the milestones you achieved.

We are filled with aspirations for your success, and more importantly, your sense of fulfillment and happiness. At the same time, there is a dread in our hearts that you will take your leave one day, as you should, in order to carve out your own destiny. You are doves we need to set free so you can soar. The world is yours to discover and conquer.

Mara and Ronna Childhood Photo, Photo Courtesy of Mara Yee's Facebook Photo Collection

Mara and Ronna Childhood Photo, Photo Courtesy of Mara Yee’s Facebook Photo Collection

You know deep in your hearts we are and will always be here when you need us. No longer are we your “managers and coaches.” We will transition to be mere consultants, albeit loving ones. We are your sounding board. We will cheer you on. Our home will always be your refuge when you need some respite. Here you can always come to lick your wounds when you fall. And we will help you pick yourself up again so you can go out there to duke it out with the world, mano a mano.

We know that you will experience love, loss, confusion, and even failure. They are life’s greatest teachers. We cannot spare you of them. They are inevitable and even necessary. We parents know that it would only be a tremendous disservice to you if we shielded you from life’s ugly cohorts from hereon. It would mean depriving you of the many exquisite pleasures you will experience surmounting each challenge that dares cross your path.

Ronna and Mara, more recent photo, Hoto Courtesy of Mara Yee's Facebook Photo Collection

Ronna and Mara, more recent photo, Photo Courtesy of Mara Yee’s Facebook Photo Collection

Through your journey, you will meet successful people who you would admire and even choose to emulate. You will see that they have their own trials. They will tell you that it is these challenges, some losses, and failures that have grounded them and helped them hone in their skills so they can volley with better ammunition to their wins.

We hope you will not give up easily. Not when things don’t seem to be going as you would like. Not when you encounter rigid walls and tall mountains. Not when you are told you do not measure up. We hope all these would only strengthen your resolve to do better, to be better. We want you not to forget that just the possibility of a peak into enlightenment, fulfillment, and achievement is enough to let life in.

Ronna's High School Graduation, Photo Courtesy of Pinky Yee's Facebook photos.

Ronna’s High School Graduation, Photo Courtesy of Pinky Yee’s Facebook photos.

Graduation is the beginning of the rest of your life they said. Education is a journey, not an end point. But education is no longer limited to a classroom with four walls. The world is a classroom. We are all perpetually learning.

Mara at one of her ballet performances. Photo courtesy  o Mara Yee Facebook Phoo collection.

Mara at one of her ballet performances in 1996. Photo courtesy of Mara Yee Facebook Photo collection.

Posted in Celebration, Family, graduation, Letting Go, Life Stages, Parenting, Parents, Postaweek | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Is The Right Time To Be A Parent?

Mother and daughter quality time, running around our little downtown. photo credit (C) Likeitiz

Mother and daughter quality time, running around our little downtown. photo credit (C) Likeitiz

I chanced upon a post on the Stanford Alumni Daily Digest a few weeks ago by Vicky Keston.  She called attention to a recent Huff Post article by Stacie Krajchir, founder of The See and Sprout Project, an international creative collective.  In the article, Stacie talks about her experience as a forty-something mom.  She takes us through the various challenges of childbearing at this age.  She laments her lost freedom and flexibility. After all, she’s still at the everything-revolves-around-the-child stage.  Three year olds have their own milestones to achieve. Think “horrible threes” besting the “terrible twos.”  Miss out on the afternoon nap and you have before you the Loch Ness monster incarnated! We have to be there to make sure they do achieve their milestones, and in the right way, of course. We also want to be there to applaud, to pat on the back (ourselves or the child? Both?), to smug-smile satisfactorily, then on to the next stage.

After reading the article, I found Stacie, to say the least, less than happy, if not a little bitter at having been cheated of her happily every after. Lots of regrets: Not having done it sooner, not having the young body to incubate the fetus, not taking the option to freeze her eggs or even choosing to be childless by choice. Even future regrets: the possibility that her son would one day be alone when she and her husband are gone or that they may never see him marry.  Caveat: She did say, she was speaking for herself and she admitted she did not really think about the details of how her life would be after the baby came.

I had my one and only child, a daughter, in my thirties.  I was on my third year of residency then. My husband and I had discussed the matter a lot. We decided after six years of marriage, in he middle of  training to be doctors, and traveling together, we were ready for parenthood.  It was a tough juggle.  I went back to work after three months. I wanted to graduate the same time as my peers.  Until she was five months old, I would breastfeed her once through the night and in the morning, pump while at work, and then breastfeed her when I got home.  Between being on-call and running to emergencies, my milk slowly but surely dried up.  I accepted that formula would have to take center stage, while we introduced various foods to her.

Photo Courtesy of The New Yorker article "Parents of a Certain Age," by Lisa Miller, September 25, 2011.

Photo Courtesy of The New Yorker article “Parents of a Certain Age,” by Lisa Miller, September 25, 2011.

I decided to go into Consulting Pediatrics after completing my training. Although, I spent more time in Neonatology, I found that I really enjoyed more interaction with my patients and their parents. Adolescents also provided much diversion and enjoyment.  After two years into practice, I had a population of complex cases on the one hand (preemies with multiple issues, children with congenital malformations, syndromes, the hearts, the kidneys, the neuros, etc.) and on the other, I had a whole group of normal-born children from professional parents (fellow MDs, lawyers, dentists, etc.) and from older parents.  The oldest first time mother I cared for was 43 going 44. (They’re much older now, by the way!) She was a former CFO in a Toronto financial powerhouse.  Looking back, I think I took care of her more than the baby, who could not be any more normal than they came.  I would have obstetricians call me to refer the families. “Please take them. Lovely couple. Very nervous. Need their hands held by someone who’ll be patient and informative.”  And so on and so forth.  I answered their calls, repeated sage words, reassured them this is all normal and no, their child will not stop loving them if they don’t give in to a tantrum.

Contrast this to the youngest parent I met. While I was doing my fellowship, we received a premature baby born from a new mother who was twelve years old.  She came two days later with her mother, who was not even thirty!  The father of the child was seventeen. Yes, sigh!

Let’s go back to Vicky Keston.  She called attention to the article and posted her own take on parenting in her forties.  In contrast to Stacie, she’s decidedly happy, with two young-uns.  And it looks like she has embraced this era of her life.  She has a company called Gooseling Inc., composed of moms who create video games that teach children social and life skills.  (I guess if you can’t beat them, joint them, hun? But in your own terms, of course!).  This mom, is for the most part, enjoying this new adventure.  She went into it with eyes wide open: the hard work (nothing could match this except maybe running an entire country like ours!), the long hours, the loss of private time (you’re only on your own when you’re taking a shower but you might still hear them calling out to you from outside…), the struggles, the new ways of communication and increased mindfulness, less frequent adult conversations, and schedules around meal and nap times, or soccer/swim practice.

Pippa Savage, 44, with her four-month old daughter, Francesca; Photo Courtesy of The Telegraph, March 20, 2009

Pippa Savage, 44, with her four-month old daughter, Francesca; Photo Courtesy of The Telegraph, March 20, 2009

I have the same message for both Stacy and Vicky:  This is all temporary. You might be having a hard time now because your children are so young. They want and need your time and attention 24/7.  You find yourself stealing away for a haircut or lunch with a pal or even dinner out with your significant other where they have cloth napkins and drinks come without straws. But this is all temporary. By the time you’re in your fifties, they’ll be in middle school and then on to high school.  They will be less attached to you at your hip. You might even miss it.

I’m currently in my fifties. I still have the energy for the ball games, the soccer practice, the debate clubs and science projects.  But my nest is now empty. My hubby and I are together often. We travel. We meet with friends. We go on long hikes with our dog. We’ve gone full circle at this stage of our lives. (I’m ready for the next circle!) So, you won’t see the empty nest until you’re nearing your sixties. (I hope you’ll be healthy and active as ever!) So what? It’ll just be as much fun!

In your forties, you’re more patient and understanding. You’re less likely to sweat the small stuff.  You’re less likely to raise a “teacup” or a “crispy.” (I need another blog post for these, huh!). 

As for when the right time is to be a parent?  I can’t support a twelve-year-old or any teen getting pregnant.  Too soon. Too young.  I know people who married and started their families in their twenties, even early thirties.  I met some of these women whose marriages ended in divorce. They initiated it.  They admitted that they did not get enough of the freedom singles enjoy.  They felt they were deprived. They wanted to advance their careers, cultivate friendships and alliances, travel, explore new interests.  They could not do this with a spouse and/or children in tow.  You might say that this group is doing it backwards compared to the forty-somethings. Maybe.

Nicole Kidman arived in Sydney, Australia, with her baby, Sunday Rose, April 13, 2009; Photo Courtesy of news.com.au

Forty-something mom, Nicole Kidman arrived in Sydney, Australia, with her baby, Sunday Rose, April 13, 2009; Photo Courtesy of news.com.au

There is no one right time or one right state for anyone to be a parent. It all boils down to what it is you want, how badly do you want it, knowing what’s at stake, being honest with yourself and what you are able to give up, at least temporarily.  For almost two decades, the center of your universe will not be around you, your comfort, your time, your space. And the part about being sleep-deprived, exhausted, sometimes disoriented?  That’s not the exclusive purview of forty-something parents. Unless you live in a Downton Abbey world, your and/or your spouse/partner, are it!  The stages of picking up toys, changing diapers, cleaning up spit, these will all pass. So will the adolescent risk-taking stages.  They all become rich memories to recall when the house (and your life) is quiet and all yours again.

Addendum: I came across an article that here in our country, a young adult has five milestones to achieve:

  1. Graduating from College
  2. Getting a job
  3. Getting married
  4. Buying a house
  5. Having a baby

It used to be that the order of these milestones was almost uncompromising.  Most people finished all five by the time they were thirty.  Nowadays, not only is the order of these milestones all over the place, some people take their whole lives to get them. Some people even elect not to complete the five.  And, it’s all right.

Posted in Family, Kids, middle years, Motherhood, Older Mothers, Older Pregnancy, Parenting, Parents, Teenage Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Praise For President Carter, Boo for Hobby Lobby

President Jimmy Carter, Photo Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images and KQED

President Jimmy Carter, Photo Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images and KQED

I listened to an NPR interview of past US President Jimmy Carter on his most recent publication, “A Call To Action.”  In this book, he dares to take on the worldwide injustice towards women.  By far, the most discriminated group, more than race, religion, or color, is the female gender. This is because, across various races and religions, there are cultural and religious norms that perpetuate the superiority of men and boys over women and girls.

I am always amazed at how this much respected octogenarian has made such great use of his time, energy and resources to promote what is good and what it right.  I know of him to be deeply spiritual and religious. But in spite of this, he is not known to be someone who would take church dogma (he and his wife belonged to the Southern Baptist Christian denomination, although they have since moved to a more moderate Baptist group.) unquestioningly or blindly.  The resounding theme in most of his works and activities is his deep understanding and belief in equality.

Mr. Carter has challenged all organized religions, i.e., Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. Some have conflicting passages on equality between men and women. Most of the time, religious leaders (usually male) tend to cherry-pick passages and isolate them from the rest of a section to support their claims for superiority.  He does not single out any religion or group.  He lays out all the ugly realities of sex trafficking, genital mutilations, to the refusal of religious institutions to allow women to serve as priests or deacons. He admits, it will take a lot to change practices that perpetuate this discrimination.  His book aims to point to everyone this glaring injustice so that the conversation will continue and grow. And spread.

I’m sure there will be backlash heaped on him from those who are exposed for what their practices truly are. I’m sure even the ultra conservative religious right will do their best to denigrate his good name. I can only hope he’ll hold steady and ride the storm.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: Demonstrators rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 25: Demonstrators rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I’m reminded of yet another ongoing case before the U.S.  Supreme Court. This is the Hobby Lobby Inc.  Contraceptive Case where this privately held for-profit company that offers health benefits to its employees are refusing to include contraceptive services in it health plans, citing religious objections.  This company has 13,000 employees and its owners are conservative Christians who object to certain methods of birth control.

In an interview, they said:

“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by … and so we cannot be a part of taking life,” explains Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.

“It’s our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something against our conscience,” adds CEO and founder David Green.

I already have a serious objection to ACA exempting non-profit or religious organizations this and that. No one is asking these people to avail of the contraceptive services themselves. But why do they have to impose their religious beliefs on their staff? Does one have to be a conservative Christian then in order to work for Hobby Lobby? I don’t think so. And even if an employee were such, it is still the decision of the employee whether to avail of the health service or not. By making it unavailable, Hobby Lobby owners are practicing paternalism: That they know what’s best for their employees. And because of this, they provide some needs (employment, a career, wages, etc.) while at the same time depriving them of taking responsibility for their bodies and taking away their freedom to choose. It’s tantamount to saying, “You can’t make the right decision so we’ll make it easy for you. We’re taking away what we believe to be the wrong decision.”

To me, paternalism is nothing more than the age-old practice of superiority that President Carter has been denouncing, albeit dressed in a pseudo compassionate (even benevolent) guise.  Whatever you might pretend it to be while you beat your chest with your bible or koran, it denies a woman to choose. It denies a woman to own her body.  It is still discrimination.

Posted in A Call to Action, Affordable Care Act, Books, Catholic Church, Civil Liberties, Freedom, Health, Health Care, Women's Health, women's rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weird Foods

Beau sunning himself at the back during car ride. photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Beau sunning himself at the back during car ride. photo credit (c) Likeitiz

I was driving to work Friday morning with my dog, Beau, sitting at the back. Yes, I get to bring him to work on Fridays!

I really did not want to hear anymore the nauseating intimate details of Putin’s Hitler-esque justifications over Crimea. Nor did I want to listen to the frustratingly scant developments in the Malaysian airliner’s disappearance.

The Economist Cover of Vladimir Putin bare-chested on a tank!

The Economist Cover of Vladimir Putin bare-chested on a tank!

I clicked on to a talk/music station. The hosts were asking their listeners to call in what’s the “gnarliest most god-awful food anyone in their office has ever brought to work. I thought that was amusing.

One caller chimed in about an office mate who brought chitlin stew. Admittedly, I had to look that up. They’re hog intestines, also called chitterlings, cleaned thoroughly and cooked the Southern way. They have a prominent pungency to them.

Chitlin Strut, photo courtesy of www.roadtripsforfamilies.com

Chitlin Strut, photo courtesy of http://www.roadtripsforfamilies.com

Another caller swore by the stench of week-old squid tentacle stew a co-worker brought to their office. And instead of heating it for 3 minutes, the co-worker accidentally programmed it for 30 minutes, and took a call. It was ash by the time she rescued the dish. The offices from the other floors were ready to call the HazMat team to the building, where none of the windows opened.

I found the conversation quite amusing. I could not help but wonder how these people would react to many Asian delicacies such as fermented fish, shrimp or squid paste (bagoong in Filipino, belachan in Singapore but other Asian countries have their versions), sun-dried salted flat danggit, or the infamous Chinese stinky tofu. Or how about the classic dinuguan, a blood stew made with pork snout, ears, cheeks, jaw simmered in vinegar, garlic, and other spices?  Eating things made with blood is not limited to Filipinos, however. Europeans have their French boudin noir, the English black pudding, or the Polish Czarnina, to name a few.

Chinese Stinky Tofu, photo courtesy of www.whatsonxiamen.com

Chinese Stinky Tofu, photo courtesy of http://www.whatsonxiamen.com

As for the fermented foods, well, apart from their prominent pungence, most are quite delectable and tasty actually!  I know. Much of how food tastes is preempted by the olfactory senses.  I suppose it is a remnant of our evolutionary development. If something smelled bad, a.k.a. it smells rotten or decaying, it must be bad for us. So it’s best to avoid it.  But over the centuries, food was fermented for many reasons: to preserve it for long winters or droughts, for variety of application (e.g. yak meat, yak milk, yak cheese, yak sausage, etc. you get the picture), even for creativity’s sake.  Much of the bio-cultures in fermented foods can be beneficial especially to a Western diet that is so sterile even the Western gut can’t digest foods properly anymore!

Here in the United States, people are becoming more and more exposed to foods from other parts of the world.  I see this as just one consequence of increased opportunities to travel and explore, the globalization of markets, and the migration of people.  It is now not unusual to see almost any cuisine represented in a big city like San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Dinuguan served with puto (rice cake). photo courtesy of www.dulcedeleirs.com

Dinuguan served with puto (rice cake). photo courtesy of http://www.dulcedeleirs.com

But, there are still those who limit themselves to the narrow confines of what their parents fed them.  I suppose, back in the days, the less favored cuts from a recently slaughtered animal were either discarded or sold for a song. People who could not afford prime cuts made the most of the protein that the discarded cuts could provide.  This gave rise to such creative concoctions that raised their palatability and in some, extended their uses.  Dishes got handed down many generations and became part of family gatherings, further etching them into people’s’ DNA, elevating them to prized delicacies!  (Did you know that chitlins have their own festivals in South Carolina and Georgia? It’s called Chitlin Strut!)

Chitlins, photo courtesy of   blackhistory2014.amsterdamnews.com

Chitlins, photo courtesy of blackhistory2014.amsterdamnews.com

My daughter mentioned to me a few years ago that there has been a growing movement here that it is most respectful to an animal that is slaughtered for food to ensure that all its parts are used wisely and usefully.  Then, it would be a worthwhile death.

I thought about this after she mentioned it. America is quite behind when it comes to respect for its animals. In Asia and in Europe, this has been the common practice for centuries.  I remember the first time we offered bopis at dinner to friends from Bulgaria.  He and his wife looked at each other and smiled at us. He told us that they too are a culture that utilizes all parts of an animal. Then, they gleefully helped themselves to the dish!

So, “weird” is relative. In my family, these are relegated to a small minority of foods.

Anything That Moves, by Dana Goodyear, photo courtesy of Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times

Anything That Moves, by Dana Goodyear, photo courtesy of Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times

P.S. I would recommend the following interesting reads if you’re so inclined to be an adventurous foodie:

  • Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear; Hilarious and quite the eye opener for the food prude (Is that a “frude?”)
  • Gulp by Mary Roach; She starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. She might just convince you there’s more to fermented foods than meets the nose. It may just be good for you! You also get to find out how Elvis really died!

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