Your Weekly Diversion, Week 45

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It’s Week 45 of this blog, and I hope as you read this you had a wonderful week. Many of us in the US had our Thanksgiving dinners this past Thursday, and some of us saw our football teams lose in holiday matchups. <Sigh.> It’s hard to be a New York Football Giants fan this year. If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was a tasty and grateful day. And let us remember that football is only a game.

As we enjoy this weekend, we are struck by how fortunate we are. Many are not so fortunate, whether they are suffering from health problems, financial distress, wars far and wide, the pain of mental illness or addiction, or loss from natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma.

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My cousin Paula and I were little girls together in California in the ‘50s. I wish I had a copy of the black and white photo of the two of us at our house when we were so young, maybe three and six. Now we live just an hour apart in Florida where she retired three years ago. Then this past September, Hurricane Irma severely damaged her home. We set up a GoFundMe campaign today for her, and we hope she will be able to get her place fixed so she can stay in Florida. Here’s a link to her page.

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Do you meditate? I often urge clients to try meditation to help them relax and better cope with stress. Apparently I am not the only healthcare provider who does that: Here’s Why I Prescribe Meditation to all my Patients.

I’m ending this with this tune from the Temptations, one of my all time faves!

 

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 43

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On Week 43, I’m departing from my usual self-imposed prohibition of disseminating  specific political information. The week has been filled with newsy highs and lows, the lowest lows being when supporters of an accused pedophile cite the Bible to justify this skeevy, illegal and unethical behavior, and many use that, “If these allegations are true…” meme which discounts the words of the accuser. Blame the victim. Hadn’t we gotten better than this? I guess not. And the accused is blatantly trying to raise money off the story!

But then there’s another low that rips into the surface of decency and scars all who consume and buy into it: Minutes after the horrific mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Russian bots apparently promulgated the falsehood that the shooter was a member of the anti-fascist group “Antifa” on social media, and it was spread for hours before being taken down.

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And now for our diversions. First, to cleanse the palate of the foregoing paragraphs, here are some words to live by.

 

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Another diversion that may have relevance in your life: It’s Open Enrollment season in the US for health insurance. This is the time individuals and families can shop for health insurance plans and switch to plans better than what they have now, or sign up for the first time. This includes Medicare recipients as well as those shopping for commercial plans. Several people I know have reported to me that, despite the dire predictions, they’ve gotten plans that are saving them money and still provide good coverage. Medicare recipients can elect to switch to Medicare Advantage plans that may save them money but vary greatly from state to state. It’s supposed to take a lot of the stress and cost out of medical costs not paid by Medicare, which includes the 20% and can include deductibles for a variety services and treatments. But the plans often dictate which healthcare providers their insureds can use, called “in network” providers and charge them more if they go out of network. As a psychologist I have had to turn down clients with some Medicare Advantage plans, while being paid by others. So listen and learn and ask around. Make some calls, go online and see what’s what. For all Medicare options, seniors and those on Social Security Disability can visit Medicare.gov, and most people under 65 should go to HealthCare.gov.

All is well with us, getting settled in our winter snowbird nest! Friends are visiting today and we look forward to showing them around. First stop will be Pinchers at Tin City, then a stroll down the ritzy 5th Avenue that leads right down to the beach. And then, who knows?

Yesterday we were eating lunch at our local Tropical Smoothie Café, and as usual they had great tunes playing. So I usually open my SoundHound app to see what we’re hearing. I have always loved this Duke Ellington song, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and Gabin does it up brown, as my dad would say. I hadn’t heard this version before, and I love it! Enjoy!

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 42

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It’s Week 42 and between current events, the change to daylight standard time, aches and pains from a challenging gym workout, technical difficulties in the house and other distractions, I almost forgot to publish a post this week.

Okay, diversions coming right up. Have you I noticed that the latest slim cable boxes no longer feature digital clocks? Sure, we wear watches and have our phones and tablets nearby, but still. So we decided to look for a reasonably priced, analog, table top clock. They aren’t so easy to find! Nothing except wall clocks and digital clocks at the local Bed, Bath and Beyond. Only a few we didn’t like at our TJ Maxx. Decorator outlets and fine jewelry stores have lovely ones at more than we wanted to spend. So we checked on Amazon and found some good ones.

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Here’s one we liked enough to buy

 

I checked through the ideas I save on Google Keep for future posts and thought this piece on the herb turmeric might be interesting to my readers.

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There have been so many wild health claims made about turmeric that I was pleased to see that Memorial Sloan Kettering covers it here.  Turmeric is a rhizome, similar in appearance before slicing to ginger root. I use it in soups and stews and egg dishes and believe it adds healthful benefits. It’s nice to know that it can, provided cautions are observed.

I just love Sam Smith, and his new 2017 album is great. Here’s him doing “Pray”, one of the numbers he performed a few weeks back on SNL. Did you notice how slim he is? He lost over 50 pounds dropping dairy, gluten and sugar and doing much of his own meal prep. Enjoy his delicious voice!

Namasté

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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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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 40


It’s week 40. I’m having technical difficulties with WordPress today, so I’m not sure how far I will get. 

We’ve just recently returned to Southwest Florida. There are signs of Irma everywhere. Blue tarps, stacks and piles of trees and branches and other debris by the sides of nearly every street. The big multiplex movie theater still hasn’t reopened due to hurricane damage. Our neighbors who remained here all summer have told us of sandbagging lanais, about the fallen magnolia trees (only a few remain out of scores across the lake), now just stumps, and the six foot piles of  debris including the contents of refrigerators and freezers, thanks to the electricity being off for more than four days. They’ve told us the smell of all that garbage and debris was extremely disgusting. Many people are still awaiting insurance money, if they were lucky enough to have insurance coverage, and if they have it, it’s hard to find available skilled people to do the work. Because of all this, we feel extremely fortunate to find our home intact, dry and undamaged. Well,  it wasn’t exactly undamaged. The AC wasn’t working, nor were our cable, internet and phone. When I went to do a load of laundry, I found out half the laundry room wiring was fried. Thankfully, good people came and helped us, and all these problems have been resolved. The food in our refrigerator and freezer were discarded by the man who watches our place and got it ready for Irma’s arrival. So between repairs and replenishing our staples, hundred of dollars have flown from our wallets, and that’s life. People have urged us to notify our insurance company of all these expenses, but I doubt they’ll exceed our deductible. And all we need to do to keep this all in perspective is remember what our American brothers and sisters are suffering in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Millions remain without adequate food, water, shelter, and power. 

These are my diversions carefully curated for you this week, despite being on the road and staying in pet-friendly hotels, and coming home to big problems.

Graphic courtesy of Creative Commons – vaXine

Magic mushrooms, specifically the psilocybin they contain, are helping people suffering from severe depression that has been resistant to all conventional treatments. And more than that, it appears that this chemical actually helps “reset” the brain. Wow!

It’s been a great time here for the birds. The floodwaters washed fish into areas where they wouldn’t ordinarily be found, such as retention ponds and catchment basins, and when the waters receded, the fish remained. Right up the street from us, where the woods meet the sidewalk, is just such a place. This small, squarish retention pond is lined with rocks, and surrounded by tall pines, squat palms and shrubs. And high in the trees roost a large flock of wood storks, huge birds with wingspans of about 5 feet and long down-curving beaks with which they fish. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 6,000 wood storks are left in the US, as fishing areas such as ours diminish and are replaced by development. So we feel very lucky to have up to 30 of these majestic birds perching on our roof, flying overhead, and roosting in the trees. I took these photos today while we were taking a walk around the lake. The first photo is of a bald eagle that a noisy flock of great egrets drove from our lake when he attempted to fish there. He was far more beautiful than my iPhone photo shows.


The second photo shows the woodsy retention pond surrounded by great egrets, the white birds with yellow beaks, and wood storks. Both species stand about four feet tall. The feeding frenzy marked by all the croaks and clacks gives new meaning to shooting fish in a barrel.

IMAGE: DIGITAL GREENHOUSE/PARTY/WEBSITE


Currently in Tokyo an unusual exhibit is drawing a lot of attention at night. Mostly an ordinary greenhouse by day, this one plays music and gives a colorful light display when the plants are gently touched. Each vegetable plays a different note. Together the sound is amazing. Check it out!

❤️ And this week someone very special and dear to us popped up, out of the blue, and brought us a happy surprise. You know who you are. ❤️

Last night when I first wrote this post and published it I was too tired to add a musical number, but this morning it came to me that “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds would be just the thing. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

                                                                                           Namasté 


Your Weekly Diversion, Week 39

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It’s week 39 and while chaos reigns around the globe, our hearts bleed for those suffering from the wildfires in California. The only things worse than losing all your material possessions of house and home are losing a loved one or pet, or dying in a fire yourself. Too awful to imagine.

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Dr. John McDougall of Santa Rosa and his wife and family have loss everything but are all safe. Dr. McDougall has helped many unhealthy people lose weight and regain good health through a plant-based diet. He and his wife Mary have produced videos and published cookbooks as well as putting out free webinars to help people. Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center offers brief residential programs in Santa Rosa. Dr. McDougall-brand soups and meals are on the shelves of most supermarkets and natural foods stores. We love their Garden Vegetable, even my omnivore husband. I consulted with him a few years ago when a very elderly patient of mine, knowing I was vegan, told me she wanted to switch to a vegan diet. He generously gave me of his time and made suggestions on how this might be safely accomplished, naturally with the cooperation of her primary physician. I received this email from him a couple of days ago:

Mary and I are well and with family. All our material possessions are lost. The same for Heather’s and Tiffany’s families.

Our years of struggle against the established thinking regarding nutrition and many medical treatments of patients will continue. The McDougall Program is alive and well and will run Programs (10-day and 3-day), conduct webinars, newsletters, etc., with as few interruptions as possible.

We are so fortunate that our lives were spared.

There are no authorized donation programs – Do not donate to any you may see.

We are humbled by the many offers of help. We may have many unexpected financial pressures, and if we decide to seek any monetary help from you, our friends, we will let you know.

John McDougall, MD

And now for some diversions!

Last week I shared about instructions for making a unicorn horn for Halloween. Here’s a link to directions for making a unicorn hat!

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People sometimes ask me, knowing I call myself a Buddhist, what’s the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism? The Venn diagram above might a bit hard to read on your device, so this article may be of help in seeing the differences and similarities between these two ancient world religions.

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Image from Pinterest

Do you have trouble decluttering your room, apartment or house? Lots of people do, especially those who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder of the messy variety. Apartment Therapy suggests it all starts with making your bed. Check it out!

For your musical diversion, and because I’m grateful for all those spared, and I feel that I too am lucky, here is Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat with “Lucky”:

 

Namasté

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