Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52

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Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.

 

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Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.

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Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!

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Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 47

 

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Numbers in Graphics Calculated and Designed by Charlie Eppes

Now we find ourselves at Week 47. What to do? Carry on. Pray for peace. Run like hell. Stop and breathe. Do the next right thing. Look for the answer.

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First of all, do you wear an Apple Watch? If so, here’s a diversion you might really need to use. You can track your sleep with the Apple Watch. I downloaded a good app recommended by CNET after trying one I didn’t like. I started wearing it to bed at night. It tells me how many minutes it takes me to fall asleep, how many times I get up in the night, how many hours of light sleep I get, and how many hours of deep sleep I get. After a couple of nights there’s a trend feature to show how I’m doing. I can even tell how long I read before going to sleep. Very helpful.

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The Apple Watch can call emergency services to help you. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, neither did I. Until the wee hours last night. I had just gotten up for the usual reason and was getting settled back in bed when my watch sounded a sort of siren. Afraid of waking my husband, I hurried into the bathroom only to see that my watch had dialed emergency services, having activated the SOS feature. I immediately tried to hang up. No go. They called me back. So there I am in the john talking into my watch telling the nice caller that I am fine, answering all her questions as to my identity and location, saying it was my watch and her telling me, “It happens all the time.” Assured I was fine, she wished me a good night and I hung up. I tried to get back to sleep. Again no go. I took off the watch and put it in the charger.

I’m lying there wondering what I’ll have to do so this doesn’t happen again. Then I hear a knock on the front door. I struggle into my robe in the dark and go to the door, cursing under my breath. A sheriff is there, asking if I’m okay. I explain it was my watch. Okay, he says and I shut the door. Again I tried to get back to sleep. No go, yet again. I got up and opened my iPad and Googled the issue. I learned how to disable the function. I can see how this could be helpful but I also know now how annoying it can be as well. My husband never woke up during this drama, leaving me with quite a tale to tell in the morning. Still too alert for sleep, I wrote this post.

Cathy McGowan, Adam Brandt, Andrew Wilkie

Australia has just legalized marriage equality, and as Parliament voted in the affirmative, the entire chamber erupted in the national anthem. What a joyful time! Same sex marriages will begin to be performed there in the new year.

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Photo courtesy of Purrfect Pals

Prisoners in the US and abroad are fostering dogs and cats, helping to socialize the animals and prepare them for adoption. The actress Glenn Close and Oprah Winfrey have supported the building of a place for prisoners to train dogs at the famed Bedford Hills women’s prison in Westchester County, New York. The rehabilitation is reciprocal and everyone benefits. Researching for this post, I found that there is a cat fostering program in a prison in Washington state (see photo above). And there are similar programs all over. This diversion was inspired by Xenia Tran’s Whippet Wisdom on a greyhound prison program. What a beautiful idea!

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A friend in Denver just started an Etsy shop selling her beautiful hand knitted items. Since we’re in Florida, we don’t need warm hats, but maybe you do. Here’s a link to the Mad Hatted Boutique. I salute her entrepreneurial spirit!

So that’s it from me, writing to you from my living room, the only light coming from the cable box and a nightlight. Adrenalin level back to baseline. Wishing you all the best for a lovely weekend. You know, it’s all right.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 44

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Recent sunset we savored here in Naples, my iPhone photo

It’s Week 44, and another week gone where too much weirdness is happening, and it’s not worth the effort to even allude to much here. Let’s just hope that we and our kids, grandkids and elders don’t lose essential, potentially lifesaving medical coverage. And may the powers that be refrain from giving our hard earned money and benefits to those so wealthy they won’t notice it, yet alone need it. And then there are the women who’ve been abused by public figures, now courageously speaking up, something many of us never had the guts to do, only to be trashed by the so-called godly. I have no words.

We have all earned our diversions this week, for reals. So let’s get to it!

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A fun image I made with Recolor last year for Thanksgiving

It’s almost Thanksgiving and it’s been a challenge finding what I needed for our feast. First we checked out restaurants here in Naples. The local paper did a great job listing all who’ll be open with links to their websites. The best places were charging a lot, especially when I only eat their sides, and the ones offering affordable meals weren’t appealing to us. So I decided to cook. Actually I do enjoy cooking. The main obstacle in the last 7 years or so has been the fact that I’m a vegetarian (and I was vegan for 5 years) and my husband is not. I wanted a vegetarian main dish, such as a Gardein, Field Roast or Tofurky roast. I visited each of their websites and couldn’t find any of these roasts being offered at the stores in Naples. The health food store near here closed. Not even Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, at least as far as I could tell on their websites, appeared to have what I was searching for.

 

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Photo courtesy of Restaurant Guru

We were having a good day. An authentic bagel store, Brooklyn Dough with a Hole, opened up recently and we made it over there for the first time that day. They were totally legit! Just how they looked in the case told me that. Fat and shiny, the holes very small. It was around 1pm so pickings were slim, but we bought 4 of them. They were wonderful, by the way! After that we were heading to the big Publix market near us, and they are great stores. I’d given up on a veggie feast and planned on sides and maybe a package of Gardein faux-turkey cutlets. But my husband suggested we go to Lucky’s, a wonderful combo of gourmet and natural foods, much smaller than Publix and easier to navigate when tired.  A local friend calls it “the poor man’s Whole Foods.” It’s all that and more!

I decided on making salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and mushrooms, gravy and a rotisserie chicken for my guy plus whatever I could find for me. I have the lastest issue of VegNews and their recipe for seitan turkey Wellington looked great but labor intensive.

We started filling our basket in the produce section, and then I headed down the frozen foods aisle toward Meat Alternatives, hopeful for one of the cutlet packages. And then, lo and behold, cue the celestial choir, I saw it: a Tofurky Holiday Feast!

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“Lucky” we are indeed (or at least I am)! My cousin is joining us the day after Thanksgiving and we’ll have plenty of everything to have a second feast while she’s here.

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As far as other diversions, do you need a new iPhone case? Here are some fun ones, especially some very cute cat designs.

And to bring us all into the gratitude of the season, here is a hymn I learned as a grade school girl and love even today. This hymn comes to us from the clear and touching voices of the a capella group Glad. It’s worth hearing with the speakers up!

 

Namasté, and

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours,  

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 41: Magnolias in Memorium

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Graphic from astronlogica.com

Now we arrive at Week 41, a week of fluctuating weather down here in our tropical clime, necessitating warmer clothing, including hoodies and long pants in the land of flip flops and shorts for a day or two. Then the warm weather returned, drawing us into the sun to bask. There’s news aplenty available to us all, should we wish to partake, but I will leave that to others today.

Our western wall of windows overlooks a lake and beyond to a row of trees lining the avenue beyond. Our view: clusters of stately sabal palmetto palms, sturdy in their shaggy trunks, unlike the taller palms with slender trunks elsewhere nearby, many that suffered from the winds of Irma who blew through here at a fearful 143 mph; lush magnolias every few feet between the clusters of palms; littoral plantings of tall grasses around the water’s edge inviting great egrets, wood storks, anhingas, moorhens, ibis, and more.

Sadly, most of our magnolias were felled by the hurricane last month and only their brown, upturned stumps remain. Here is how one of them looked in the spring:

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Their blossoms were large as dinner plates, creamy white and faintly sweet to sniff.

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And now, all that remains of their beauty are the stumps where once they stood.

As sad as this loss may be, it is but a reminder of the impermanence of life, for the storms, they come and go, and so do we.

And happily, we see a row of younger trees spared by the fickle winds, that will in just a few short years be just as big and beautiful as those we lost this year. Change being what it is in all things, whether we are here to behold them remains to be seen. The older we become, the more we appreciate that change will always come.

This is a very early performance from 1964 of Bob Dylan performing his masterpiece, The Times They Are A-Changin’, a meaningful part of the soundtrack of my adolescence.

Namasté

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11 Vegan Rice Recipes

One of my passions is plant-based cooking. The Rich Bitch Cooking blog presents wonderful recipes with clear how-to videos and mouthwatering photos. When we can create our own delicious and healthy foods at home, why wouldn’t we?

Rich Bitch Cooking

11 Vegan Rice Recipes - Rich Bitch Cooking Blog

Here’s 11 different ways to make vegan rice. I dug through a bunch of these allrecipes recipes to figure out what to make. Since I make dishes for the first time pretty much in front of the camera don’t look at any of these as 100% solid recipes. Maybe you’ll want more or less salt, lime or spices. These are easy to make and easy to tweak.

Some of these rice dishes are heavily seasoned while others lightly spiced. I prefer more flavor but there are times when you’ll want just a subtle spice to compliment your main dish. Or subtle spices when you’re in a mellow mood.

All of these recipes used 2 servings (1/2 cup) of dry rice. Think 1/2 cup dry rice with 1 cup cup of liquid. Add spices, oil and maybe some sauce (salsa or tomatoes). Most of these were made with cheap white rice but…

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9 Vegan Pasta Dishes – Dinner For One

Okay, I’ve been making tasty vegan pasta dishes for years, but honestly, these recipes blow mine out of the water! Rich Bitch Cooking has a great blog with all sorts of useful info for vegans, would-be vegans and vegetarians, and they’re always budget conscious. Read on for droolworthy plant based yum! And please watch the cool video at the end of their post of the bloggers preparing these yummy dishes, accompanied by their very own music! Give them a follow!

Rich Bitch Cooking

9 Vegan Pasta Dishes - Dinner For One - College Meals - Rich Bitch Cooking Blog

I figured I would call these pasta dishes “for college students” because who could use single portion recipes more? There’s lots of pictures in this post because there’s 9 freaking recipes for us to go through. There’s a video at the bottom if you want to watch my dancing hands take you through step by step. I bought some fresh herbs and fresh garlic because I intended to dazzle you with going the extra mile. That did not end up happening. I used dried herbs because L-A-Z-Y.

You can double or triple the recipes below. Yeah, go feed somebody. And bust out that thrift store Foreman grill to add in a bag of frozen veggies to you pasta dishes.

9 Vegan Pasta Dishes - Dinner For One - College Meals - Rich Bitch Cooking Blog

Feel free to taste as you go! Do you think the creamy dishes could be creamier? Add a 1 TB or 2 of extra vegan butter or coconut cream. Do you…

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Why Buddhists Should be Vegetarian

As a Buddhist and imperfect vegan who more accurately fits the definition of vegetarian, this post offers much food for thought, if you’ll pardon the unfortunate cliché, and the comments that follow are every bit as thought provoking and helpful in their way as the author’s most excellent writing on the subject. Let us all reason together, explore, discuss, evolve and change for the better. May we try each day to live Metta, or loving kindness, to the very best of our imperfect ability. Namasté, Sonnische/Shielagh

Sujato’s Blog

The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.

For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay or monastic, eat meat, and claim to be acting within the ethical guidelines of the Buddha’s teachings.

This position sits squarely within a straightforward application of the law of kamma, understood as intention. Eating meat…

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