Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slip Sliding Away

I guess the Rethuglicans aren't too happy with being Number Two and are addressing child poverty with any number of innovative plans to get us where we deserve to be. How tragic is this?
According to a new report from the Office of Research at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. Of the 35 wealthy countries studied by UNICEF, only Romania has a child poverty rate higher than the 23 percent rate in the U.S.:

[The rate is] based on the definition of relative poverty used by the OECD. Under this definition,a child is deemed to be living in relative poverty if he or she is growing up in a household where disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the median disposable household income for the country concerned. By this standard, more than 15% of the 200 million children in the 35 countries listed in Figure 1b are seen to be living in relative poverty.
The top five positions in the league table are occupied by Iceland, Finland, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Norway (with Slovenia and Denmark close behind). All of these countries have relative child poverty rates below 7%. Another eight countries including two of the largest — Germany and France– have rates between 7% and 10%. A third group, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, post rates of between 10% and 15%. A further six, including populous Italy and Spain, show rates of between 15% and 20%. In only two countries are more than 20% of children living in relative poverty — Romania and the United States.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lamb Kebab

Since I didn't get much of a Memorial Day weekend so I thought I would make up for it tonight. Cooked one of my favorites, Lamb Kofta Kebab. Lamb shoulder minced with pistachios, sumac, cumin, fresh thyme and olive oil and then formed around skewers and grilled.  Made some fresh whole wheat pita and served the lamb with macerated Vidalia onions (thinly sliced and soaked in lime juice and salt) with diced fresh tomato and parsley and a little Greek yogurt. I haven't been eating big meals for the last few months but tonight I put away two pitas stuffed with the grilled lamb and fixings. Mighty fine but am I stuffed!
If anyone would like the actual recipe for the lamb kebabs or the whole wheat pita let me know and I'll post them. I've found that most folks(American) don't fancy lamb and they look at you funny when you mention it. I've run into a lot of people that have never even tried it but insist they don't like it. I actually wasn't exposed to it growing up but fell in love with lamb when I was in the Middle Eat. Once you have tasted a slow roasted lamb that has been studded with garlic and rosemary then basted with olive oil and lemon while it slowly cooked over an olive wood fire you won't turn up your nose at lamb. Besides, when they are culling the sheep herds in the spring of the excess males, lamb is cheap eats and good protein which might otherwise go to waste.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still Dry

I had high hopes for the tropical storm but it brought no rain of any consequence to the Northern burbs of Atlanta. I'm going to have to water. Bummer.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Say Cheese

I have to work today/tonight so no BBQ or anything. As you can see I have been on walkabout with the camera. Since I can't revel in any good food today I thought it would be nice to share a picture I took a while back at a nice little place down on the square called Provisions. Run by a very nice young Frenchman. Good selection of cheeses and other good stuff. There is also a pic of another new shop that sells nothing but brilliant olive oils and vinegars. You can taste before you buy and all the oils and vinegars are in nice stainless containers from which they will fill your bottles or theirs. I got a little carried away on my first visit but am enjoying the results. The apricot balsamic vinegar is amazing.

Goddess Working

I caught a picture of the Goddess working hard in the cosmos or if you prefer the cosmos working hard in the cosmos. I know it looks just like a bumblebee but it is so much more.

Leek Blossom

Just in case you have never seen what a leek blossom looks like. They bloom in their second year and are really quite showy. If you are going to save seed you have to let some of the leeks winter over so you can get them to blossom.

Garden Today

Just so you know I haven't been making up the hard work in the garden. Here it is today. Under the black weed fabric on the left are the melons and pumpkins, then a row of Hutterite Soup beans, eggplant and okra, three rows of peppers, four rows of tomatoes(mostly heirlooms), cukes, more tomatoes, peas, ground cherries, herbs, leeks.I'm ahead of the weeds for now as you can see but it is early. You can barely see the corn but it is tasseling and there are more beans and sweet potatoes in the back. Looking pretty good for the end of May and there will be cherry tomatoes within a week or so.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not National BBQ Day

This is Memorial Day weekend. It's the "official beginning of summer" and a time when everybody seems to focus on a good time outdoors, BBQ, adult beverages and all that. Take a moment during all the festivities this weekend to remember the real reason for the holiday. If all you can do is pause and lift a cool one n remembrance then so be it.

Susie Madrak posted this picture in her annual Memorial Day post and it really touched me. Let's try and honor our heroes on this day and remember not only their sacrifices but the sacrifices of their families and loved ones. Don't forget to fly your flag.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Smaller Place

Madam has already started in on the decorations for Bulloch Hall for Christmas (yeah it is only May) and her project yesterday, while I was working, was constructing a small paper White House. The theme this year is Grover Cleveland's two terms in office. She did a nice job but it got me to thinking that if Mitt should win the election he is going to have to get used to living in a smaller place. The "low rent" district as it were. It is appropriate in some ways since if he should become President we will all probably have to look into finding a cheaper place to live. Speaking of "cheap" I need to head off to a shift at the Depot...and yes I am working everyday this weekend and Monday. No holiday for me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Out With The Old

I know it has been quiet around these parts but nothing really much going on except gardening and working. Madam and I are dog sitting Minimonk's three this week so that adds a bit of adventure and a few walks into the mix. Off to work in a few minutes and aside from a little time in the garden this morning Madam and I purged my closet of things that are now too big for me to wear. The charity shop will get 12 pairs of dress slacks, 12 pairs of golf shorts, 4 pairs of casual slacks and some other assorted stuff. I still haven't resolved to get rid of my suits just yet but I actually don't think I can wear them. Forty pounds makes a big difference in how clothes fit. It's also a good thing I don't have to replace a wardrobe right now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sugar Update

Since I posted about HFCS in the last post I thought it might be time to update where I am with my attack on my Type II  diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Toward the end of February I took the bull by the horns and following the advice in Dr. Mark Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution coupled with Dr. Stefan Ripich's The 30 Day Diabetes Cure made big changes in my diet/lifestyle. No more simple carbohydrates, no sugar(even substitutes) and absolutely no HFCS, no processed foods, more veges and less meat and some additional supplements.
Things are going well....I've lost just under 40 pounds(it would be more but I have added considerable muscle due to my gym sessions). My fasting blood sugar is mostly staying below 90 (which is by definition non diabetic). I've had to buy new clothes(2 waist sizes). Granted, I'm exercising so you can't attribute all of the weight loss to diet alone but so far so good. This is a forever diet and lifestyle change and yes I do miss fresh white bread and some other things but the trade off is worth it. We'll see where I am in a couple of more months. Oh! and I am feeling pretty good as well and sleeping better and Madam says I have stopped snoring for the most part. All good.
The next step is to see my doctor and see about dropping the diabetes meds. I have already dropped Lipitor but I want to drop the blood pressure and diabetes meds as well.

HFCS Really Is Poison

The evidence keeps piling up and you need to consider it the poison it really is, regardless of what the HFCS manufacturers and peddlers say. Read every package of every processed food you buy...better yet, don't buy any processed food. All the food producers that use this stuff are trying to kill you. They know it is dangerous and what's worse it is unnecessary. They could use proper sugar but it would cut into their already obscene profits by a couple of pennies per ton. This is really dangerous stuff:
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

In results published online Feb. 26 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, the researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.
The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.
The second experiment — the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals — monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.
“These rats aren’t just getting fat; they’re demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides,” said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. “In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes.” In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I actually finished putting in the garden today. The last of the Hutterite Soup beans went into the ground. I also got the pumpkins, cantaloupe, watermelon and acorn squash planted. This is, of course, in between endless hours of weeding and cultivating. The Goddess rewarded my diligence and hard work with a nice thunder shower this evening. Now all we have to do is keep ahead of the weeds and wait to begin harvesting. (No Goddess I am not counting my chickens!)

Thank you friend, thank you friend, thank you friend...that's the little thing I hear in my consciousness every time I put a seed into the ground. Each seed is about to have the opportunity to fulfill its purpose and grow more seeds...with the little tickle of fun that is natural selection thrown in for spice. By the same token I should be thanking them for allowing me the honor of planting and harvesting. I'll do my part by preserving seed but the lesson is that we all need to be thankful. Blessed Be!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Traditional Marriage- You want Fries With That?

Hecate does an admirable job of dismantling the wacko right's hoorah over President Obama's admission that he sees nothing wrong with gay 'marriage'.  I would just like to add that were I one of the 'jumped by Jesus' crowd I would be embarrassed by the obvious lack of knowledge and history displayed by these idiots.
'Traditional marriage' as defined by these bible thumpers is a fiction of ignorance and it doesn't matter how many times you repeat the lie it is still untrue. Then again, ignorance is a key component of what these folks deem "Christianity" so we shouldn't be at all surprised by all this.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Good Day Off

I had the day off yesterday and got a lot done. Tilled the rest of the garden(the part that doesn't get good sun until the real summer) and got the cantaloupe and watermelons planted. The pumpkins and some other squash will have to wait until Tuesday when I'm next off. Had to work in a light rain this morning to finish up and plant a fig tree that my friends down the road gave me. It's not looking the least bit happy but maybe it will catch hold.
I also built a bridge over my garden ditch(which diverts the heavy run off from my neighbor around the garden) and it looks pretty good. Now I can roll my carts, tiller, etc. right into the garden and not have to struggle through the ditch...a much needed addition.
I had such an issue with weeds last summer in the melon patch that this year I'm trying a weed block fabric which adds a lot of time to the planting process but maybe it will enable me to find the melons this year. Off to a fun filled Saturday afternoon/evening at the Depot(1:15 - 10:15) let's just keep our fingers crossed that I don't wind up at the returns desk again. Goddess it sucks...I don't mind the "legitimate" returns so much but the "stupid" ones irritate me to no end. One 50 cent switch plate, a couple of extra screws, 20 cinder blocks that weren't needed after all and on and on. I plan my projects down to the last screw and foot of wood and I never have "extra" when the project is done...if anything I need an extra trip for one more piece of something.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

So North Carolina has decided, like Georgia, to instill discrimination into its constitution. Like Georgia, this just proves that the majority of voters in North Carolina are insane and in a bad way. I like to think that in some not too distant future the voters of Georgia and North Carolina will look back upon this in supreme embarrassment.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


I sat on the deck tonight while a thunderstorm rolled in from the West. First the light breeze and the smell of moisture. Lightning, a long way off, then closer. Finally the rain and a full fledged rain....cold and clean. I'm impressed.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Super Moon

Be on the lookout for the Super Moon tonight. I'll be getting off about 1015p so there is a good chance I will be able to catch it in all its glory.

The moon will be up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the other full moons of 2012, according to NASA.
It will reach perigee, its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, at 11:34 p.m. ET and become full just a minute later.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Down Day

Kind of a down day today. I got up and went for a haircut at 9am. Made a trip to Home Depot and Trader Joe's for some stuff and that is about it. Thought seriously about going to the gym but just couldn't get motivated enough. Did go to the garden but since we had a good rain this morning it is too wet to get much done. Suckered a few tomatoes and checked on everything...lots of blooms on the tomatoes and quite a few on the peppers. There are even some small ground cherries in place. Worked out there all day yesterday and all the weeding shows....looking good for a few days. Don't have to work until 6pm today until closing at 10p so it is an easy one today. Got to work 3p to 10 tomorrow and Saturdays at the Depot are a zoo. Off Sunday and Monday though  and I'll get the weeds that spring up between now and then on Sunday. I'm mulching like crazy to try and keep them under control and trying to stay ahead of them but I think it rains weed seeds here cause there is a new batch after each rain. BTW we are 4 inches behind on rainfall so far this year and with it this hot this early and so dry we may be in for a scorcher 'Death Valley' summer.

Really depressed about my family of bluebirds that were in the house by the garden. I hadn't seen any activity in a few days so I thought the little ones had fledged. Not so. As usual after the fledging I clean out the house to ready it for another batch as bluebirds won't move into an existing nest and won't build a new one over an old. Found to little bodies inside and it appears that for some reason the parents, who had been doing a great job of feeding just abandoned the nest and left the little ones to starve. They didn't seem to mind my working in the garden in close proximity as they kept up a constant stream of meals whilst I did my work. I sure hope I wasn't to blame. Sometimes Mother Nature makes a sad.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy May Day

It's now 6 months before November 1st and beginning of the temporary rule of darkness. Today is May Day and we should all celebrate the ascendance of the light. May the next 6 months allow you to harvest and store the energy necessary to overcome the darkness. May the power of Beltane be with you in the coming months.