How I Lost 12.5 Pounds & Regained My Soul

Naked, as in truth, and uncensored, I share my daily quest to survive as a woman and artist, while dealing with the complications of a full life, meddling in politics, loving my children to excess, totally permanently married and on a never-ending diet. While my soul is in constant need of repair and redemption, I struggle to do the right thing. In the meantime, let's all double the love. (Love, not sex, you fool). All posts are copyrighted material.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My new blog address for now...


Hello my loyal little minks~

I have a new blogging home at Gather.com, and my moniker there is:

clarkcountydiva.gather.com

Please come and read my new posts! Yes, I am using my real name and my real life, so watch out!

I'll check back in here if the heat gets too much over there. It has been fun to have a larger audience and get feedback from other writers and see what resonates with people and what doesn't.

The main site is Gather.com and is wonderful for writers, photographers, political activists and people who just want to connect in a lively way on line. Some people also get hired and get paid for writing... so you can understand my interest.:)

Hope to hear your comments there!

Your one and only,

Clark County Diva

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why I no longer want Plastic Surgery...


Good evening, my delicate little crumpets~

Here's a good one for you:

A woman named Shirley was from Beverly Hills. One day, she had a heart attack and was taken to Cedars Sinai hospital.

While on the operating table, she had a near-death experience. She saw God and asked, "Is this it?"

God said, "No, you have another 30 to 40 years to live."

Upon her recovery, she decided to stay in the hospital and have collagen shots, cheek implants, a face lift, liposuction and breast augmentation. She even had someone dye her hair. She figured since she had another 30 to 40 years, she might as well make the most of it.

She walked out of Cedars Sinai lobby after the last operation and was killed by an ambulance speeding up to the hospital.

She arrived in front of God and said, "I thought you said I had another 30 to 40 years?"

God replied, "You're Shirley? I didn't recognize you!"
Source: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977119248

Clark County Diva

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plays well with others...


Good evening, my dangerous little dandelions~

Who would have imagined that our four-year-old granddaughter would ask, "Can I have this, Grandma?". She'd discovered it hidden for safe-keeping in the Moroccan box on my bureau. It also held the little rocks I had gathered by the family shrine in Spain feeling too silly to tell the kids I'd collected them.

Why 23 years later almost to the day when our son is again starting a new life in San Francisco? It just seemed to be too much of a 'reassuring message from the universe' sort of thing.

But there it was, the little note pad I had carefully saved. Of course, as an adolescent he'd retrieved and promptly lost it, but it resurfaced when I'd converted his old bedroom to an art studio.

To properly set the stage, the year was 1984. We had just moved back from a three-year stint in Mexico City, where he was born, and I was terribly conflicted about going back to work.

Monday, September 17th: His first day at school went very well. Adjusted to the routine quickly and without a fuss... So amiable and even-tempered! Missed mommy, but was reassured by teacher and this seemed to satisfy him...

Really seemed to enjoy the other children's company!

Ate a good lunch. Toileting was not a problem. Took his nap w/out any tears! He was so enthusiastic about the art activity that he did two circle pictures.....

Tuesday, September 18th: The second day is sometimes a bit more difficult than the first - he knew from experience that mommy would be "gone"... "a long time".....

He handled it very well. Did not like the hot weather outside. But seemed happy enough while playing inside. Was a little sad at naptime, but slept well. (Teacher rubbed his back.) Plays with the others EXTREMELY WELL FOR A 2-year-old... and the others appreciate this.

Sure loved those strawberries in his lunch. Just giggled and giggled as he ate them.

Wednesday, September 19th: A very nice and busy day! He was a bit sad when Mommy was leaving, but she closed the door and he was fine! No problems at all today. Ate well (shared his peach w/ Mario).

We sang songs w/puppets and he loved it! (So receptive and aware!) "Do you know the Muffin Man?"

Played with clay. He made a "snake poisonous" and was very proud of it...

Went potty alone! Fell asleep immediately - with ne'er a whimper...

Thursday, September 20th: A good day. He was fine after saying goodbye to Mommy...

Played well w/the others. Quite an individual! Really enjoyed the storytime...

Also enjoys playing the drums! We made "ooeey-gooey" finger puppets - to play at home with and Mommy to bring back again to school for music.

Played w/Rachel and teacher heard him say to her, "Are you my friend?" She answered, "Yes", then he asked, "So, I'm your friend too, right?"

Friday, September 21st: A good morning. He gets along with the other children so well! (This is redundant by now...). He and Mario played the drums while we danced to music this morning.

A nice trip to the park this afternoon. He seemed to really enjoy himself. The children feel so free in the middle of all of that green grass! Wasn't it funny when David caught that bug with his fingers?

These were the comments of my son's preschool teacher, who was certainly a peace-and-love, well-educated hippy who wore the beliefs of her people like a religion.

Organic whole foods, earth day, love, art, creativity, unilateral demilitarization - all practiced in a beautiful, decaying craftsman with her husband and toddler, Mario, who never met a kid he didn't bite. Robin also took pity on the mothers who left their imperfect children in her care. She would attempt to stimulate, educate or even civilize them while their moms earned doubled her own income.

Each school day, she wrote in little notebooks while her charges took naps. These notebooks went into lunch boxes which returned each morning. When I asked him, "So what did you do at school today?" and he answered, "Nothing"? I could put aside my Hair Shirt (which the Irish invented by the way), and forgive myself for being the awful, working mother who forced her child to endure four hours of purgatory aka daycare.

Ironically my heart is filled today with that same joyful/awful feeling which I can best describe as a gloriously happy sadness. Just as then, I must rise against my desire to hold this amazing person too close. He is still that boy to me, of course. A darling person, so good and kind that his personality oozes the wonder, joy and enthusiasm present from birth. Exactly as she described him.

As I release his shirttails with love and wish him a beautiful life every day in his new abode, I will comfort myself knowing that no matter how things may have changed? He hasn't. He will always play well with others.

Clark County Diva

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She loved the sound of her own voice...


Good evening, my pretty little tulips~

The sign language interpreter was a green-eyed, freckled redhead whose name seemed at first to misrepresent her short stature and stout physique. Perhaps it was because her elegance didn't appear until she began to translate our mass for the hearing impaired. I might mention that there were no hearing impaired in our enire parish, but that didn't stop her.

Do you know how some people can seem so plain until they smile and then this whole beautiful presence appears from what was non-descript flesh seconds before? Well, she was like that.

The priest would deliver his homily or read the gospel in his drone of a voice, feigning sincerity so poorly that within minutes all eyes would be on her. Of course, we had an advantage. We could understand what she was doing as we could all hear what the priest was saying. How she brought his words to life!

Her arms would make sweeping motions, her fingers would twist and contort in a chorus line sort of ballet but it was her face that expressed the spirit of his words. Exaggerated smiles, eye raisings, fear, wonder, guilt, emphatic stares toward heaven... these were a small part of her enormous repertoire.

The priest had left his career as a bureaucrat to pursue life in the seminary. His plans changed when he met his wife and ultimately decided that good schools for the two children she bore were more plentiful in the northwest.

The on-going conflict during his tenure centered on his minimal office hours and unauthorized reach into the church treasury for computer products that always found their way to his home office. Of course, the short funds meant Isabella translated as a volunteer. The children were mesmerized during mass and none of the usual chatter was heard once she began. It was impossible not to stare at this amazing woman jumping and leaping and generally providing eye candy to us all.

When we met her, Isabella was living with a couple whose children were launched into adulthood. Candidly, I never thought to question why she cleaned their house and cooked their meals. She seemed like a person who would have done those kinds of things anywhere she lived merely out of the goodness of her heart. One evening her host family invited ours for dinner and I got to see her in action.

Homemade pita bread, so scrumptious it melted on your tongue along with the roasted garlic hummus she served with it; baby lettuces with glazed walnuts and homemade salad dressing, carrots in horseradish sauce, crepes filled with chicken delicately encased in some sort of tarragon-infused creme sauce, desserts dripping with chocolate so dark and rich the palate froze in delight.

No caterer in the world would have served the items in that meal together, yet everything seemed to be exactly what we wanted and her presentation was festive and visually stunning.

One day she and I were talking after mass and the subject of her family came up. She had learned sign language as both her parents and 3 of her 5 siblings were deaf. The entire family communicated through sign, but Isabella insisted on speaking too. She attempted to get her non-hearing siblings to work harder at their speech. Her goal was to help them assimilate more easily into general society, but as almost all their friends were deaf, they had little incentive. (Many in the deaf community don't feel they are disabled, but rather speak a different language and have a particularly prized culture.)

Isabella's mother once told another deaf person who was distracted by Isabella's verbalizations, "Oh, don't worry about her. She just loves the sound of her own voice." It sounded like something my mother would have said about me, so, of course, we bonded. Isabella told the story as humor, but I thought there was an edge to it, over-sensitive type I was then.

When I got to know her better, she confided that she was in hiding. Her real name had been forever deleted from the records and her identity remained hidden. She lived several states away from her family. They communicated only through third parties. She never went anywhere alone and she never allowed her picture to be published on any public document or in the media. Before she entered a building, a parking lot, a courtroom or a bathroom, she scanned where the exits were. "Always have an escape route", she'd told me, and "always see what you could use as a weapon to defend yourself. If you stay alert you may live." Who could question her authority on the issue?

Her pelvis, neck, both arms, both legs and six ribs had been broken by her husband during a beating he administered that included several flights of stairs. She later discovered he was a schizophrenic with psychotic episodes.

His family was so frightened of him they later claimed they were afraid to warn her when they announced their engagement. Sadly they thought he 'seemed' normal enough. What was later determined to be a psychotic break aggravated when he went off his medications, (poor compliance is a common problem with schizophrenics and other mentally ill people), landed him in a mental institution for treatment and observation.

The episode was nearly fatal to her but their 8.5 month old fetus did miscarry and died while the emergency room doctors were saving her life. Her husband was put into an institution, but she knew once back on medication the doctors would pronounce him as sane as she had and they would be unable to keep him incarcerated.

(I should mention here that most schizophrenics are not dangerous to others, and with proper treatment and/or medication can live relatively productive and meaningful lives.)

Somehow my friend Isabella never became bitter. She honored her lost child by loving those of others and sharing their joy whenever she could. My children adored her, as did many others. Few people knew what had happend to her, but her goodness was so obvious she became a beloved member of the congregation. Her heart went out every Sunday morning to all of us in her beaming, glorious translations.

We wondered if her family would ever visit her, as she couldn't chance going to the family home. I used to imagine that seven of them would show up at church one day, clomping feet on the tile floors announcing their presence, but they never did.

I lost touch with Isabella when the new church for which she translated burned to the ground. The police said it was arson but when they gave a description of the suspected arsonist, she left town quickly. I don't even know if Isabella is her name anymore.

Clark County Diva

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Bottled or tap water?


Good afternoon, my little red tomatoes~

It seems that no matter how we try to do things that are good for us, there is always that 'other' side. Take water, for instance. We know our kidneys, brains and other organs don't do well when we are not properly hydrated., it's not fattening and it even seems to make us look and feel younger.

Some of us have decided to drink it anywhere and everywhere to the delight of plastics manufacturers and their crude oil suppliers. Plastic bottles are certainly convenient and if you refill that Evian bottle over and over and over again, you can look trendy on the cheap.

Unfortunately, 10 millions barrels of crude oil are used each year to make plastic water bottles. Here are some statistics about consumption according to the Earth Policy Institute:


The global consumption of bottled water reached 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from the 98 billion liters consumed five years earlier. Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing—producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline.

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of bottled water, with Americans drinking 26 billion liters in 2004, or approximately one 8-ounce glass per person every day. Mexico has the second highest consumption, at 18 billion liters. China and Brazil follow, at close to 12 billion liters each. Ranking fifth and sixth in consumption are Italy and Germany, using just over 10 billion liters of bottled water each. (See data.)

Italians drink the most bottled water per person, at nearly 184 liters in 2004—more than two glasses a day. Mexico and the United Arab Emirates consume 169 and 164 liters per person. Belgium and France follow close behind, with per capita consumption near 145 liters annually. Spain ranks sixth, at 137 liters each year.

Source: http://www.earth-policy.org

Now when we were in Southern Spain last summer it was hot as blazes there, so I can understand the 137 liters per capita per year. When I lived in Mexico City I also drank a whole lot of bottled water, but that was because one felt there were certain standards with the bottled water and the municipal supply wasn't always dependably delivered.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates all public water supplies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of regulating and overseeing bottled water, but their standards are much more lax. It is estimated that 40% of bottled water starts at the tap anyway.

Scientists estimate that tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere merely in the transportation of bottled water to its many destinations. Add in the manufacturing by-products that contribute to the pollution of the environment, overflowing landfills, and you're making global warming happen even faster.

So what about re-using your plastic water bottle? That sounds like a pretty good idea at first, but like all things left at room temperature, eventually bacteria will begin to flourish and your water bottle is no different. Washing it out with soap and water and then refilling it is probably the best idea, and once it is open? Drink it or refrigerate it, just like you would with any other foodstuff.

There are also all the claims of 'chemicals' leaching into your body from the plastic. There are also rumors that dioxins will be released if you heat or freeze your water bottle. Well, my darlings, there are no dioxins in plastic. Bisphenol A (BPA) is another story altogether. Thirty-eight scientific experts on BPA recently called for additional study on the subject as an American company, The Environment California Research & Policy Center, recently announced their analysis of 130 studies that claimed even at low doses, BPA does cause 'adverse health effects'. Low does of the BPA have been connected with chromosonal disruption, miscarriages, birth defects and even obesity.

Then again, 'fresh' water isn't doing much better. Here is a piece from the Environment California website:

* The State of California lists more than 500 lakes, rivers, bays and other water bodies as seriously polluted;

* Studies conducted by the University of California detected 57 toxic pesticides in tributaries to the San Joaquin River, a source of drinking water to 16 million Californians. Perchlorate – the major ingredient in rocket fuel – also pollutes more than 400 drinking water sources across the state;

* A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that exposure to polluted waters off the coast of Orange County is linked to 74,000 incidents of stomach illness, respiratory disease and eye, ear and skin infections each year.

* In 2002, low volumes of water released through dams on the Klamath River for agricultural irrigation purposes caused one of the most massive fish kills - tens of thousands of fish – in the state’s history.

Source: http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/center/protecting-our-water2

When you look at how polluted water is becoming, even in our beautiful United States, that tap water sounds pretty delicious, doesn't it? I'm not sure carrying around your glass water container works quite as well, but I'm sure somebody will think of a solution. It can't be as simple as plastic and proper hygiene, can it?

A friend sent the suggestion that we use a regular coffee thermos. I think that's pure genius.

Clark County Diva

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The burning bush...

 
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Food, shelter, drink and humor!


Good morning, my pretty little azaleas~

Today it occurred to me just how much I love humor. For instance, I post on another site which gets a whole lot of feedback from the other posters, and I can also post images that I think are cool.

It gets sort of competitive, but in a good way, as people rate your pictures and occasionally make comments. My favorite 'special effects' shot was one I took of my son in which a fire is burning and his image seems to be superimposed inside the flames. He thought the shot was pretty cool too, and uses it for some of his blogs.

Well I posted it on Gather.com with the caption, "Do we only see what we want to see?" The first comment I got was: "I suppose that is your ex-husband?".

You don't often get a belly laugh out of me with a one-liner, but I still think that's pretty funny, even this morning.:)

Clark County Diva

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Before the squash forms...

 
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Bottle gourd flower

 
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Bottle gourds and fertilizer...


Good morning, my happy little green beans~

This is a bottle gourd blossom that started out looking like a morning glory but morphed into this lovely orchid-like bloom before it became a squash.

If you are wondering if these squash are edible, they are used often in Indian dishes, particularly the ones with a creamy tomato sauce and cashews. However, I couldn't find these squash in farmers' markets or conventional ones, which was my motivation for trying to grow them last year. I managed to get one bottle gourd out of the one plant that survived, so this year I planted a bunch of seeds. It was a pretty successful attempt as I mixed a third manure, a third potting soil and a third regular garden dirt into the planting hill.

My plants are climbing on everything and seem delighted with their new soil environment, and now I have enough little squash to make the Indian dish I love.

Last year I let the gourd survivor get large. Then I dried it upside down inside my house. Don't ask me why I did that, but I noticed with flowers and herbs, hanging them upside down is the method, so I tried it. Later I carved a design on it in a primitive way so it would match two similars gourds I had from Africa. Once the gourds are bigger they become too hard to eat anyway.

Oh, these are also called Birdhouse gourds if you are one of those people who is already planning your garden for next year.

Clark County Diva

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Know the symptoms for Inflammatory Breast Disease (there are no lumps)...


Good morning, my fancy little cherubs~

Today I read again about Inflammatory Breast Disease and decided it was important for all women - and some men - to be reminded that ANY CHANGE IN BREAST TISSUE MUST BE EVALUATED!

If you thought there was only one kind of breast cancer, think again. Cancer is one of a hundred diseases, and the various types of cancer that affect the breast tissue are different. The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are very different:

"The interesting thing is most women have never heard about IBC and most physicians heard about it in med school but never have seen a case," says Dr. Gralow.

Nancy and Marilyn's doctors told them they had bug bites on their breasts and prescribed antibiotics. By the time Marilyn was diagnosed, she was stage 4 and the cancer was everywhere.

"I never dealt with stages of cancer, I didn't know there wasn't a stage 5," says a dumfounded Bradfield.

Know The Symptoms

Andi was just 16 when she died from IBC. She was too embarrassed to tell her mother her breast looked funny. It was slightly enlarged and her nipple was inverted -classic IBC symptoms.

Other symptoms include: rapid increase in breast size, redness, skin hot to the touch, persistent itching, an orange peel texture to the breast and thickening of breast tissue.

"It's important to understand your breast, no one knows your breasts better than you," advices Dr. Gralow.

"It doesn't happen very often so there isn't as much awareness about it," says Lynn Hagerman, Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Puget Sound Affiliate. IBC accounts for about 6% of all invasive breast cancer cases.

Lynn Hagerman runs the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. With their pink ribbons and messaging heard nationwide, they are the undisputed leader in breast cancer awareness.

Source: http://www.komotv.com/ibc/

Please check your own body, but also pass this around. IBC can affect even teenage women, so mothers need to tell their daughters about it. Of course, it is rare, but if even one young woman is diagnosed early, there is hope for her.

Clark County Diva

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Friday, September 07, 2007

City of Tango... Portland, Oregon?


Good afternoon, my particular little mantises~

Didn't realize that hipster Portland is also home to one of the largest Tango communities outside of Florida? Obviously you never heard of the Portland Tango Fest. It is one of the largest Tango festivals in North America - over six hundred people attended the festival in 2006. To register for the XI festival scheduled for October 18 to 21, 2007, email Clay's Dance Studio at tango@claysdancestudio.com or go to their web site: http://claysdancestudio.com/portland_tangofest/index.shtml

Never tried Tango? Oh my, you are losing out on one of the most incredible experiences on the planet. How can one explain the sensuality of the dance, the rhythmic elegance of the form or something so... ethereal? Men relish the easy submission of a woman (often dancing backwards) to their power and direction and women? Those of us who love dance are simply enthralled. You know that soft, kitten look in a woman's eyes that men find so divine? Once the dancing begins and the mood siezes, her look will resemble that of a smoldering tiger.:)

Yes, I confess. Participating in a 'milonga' is possibly one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. Okay, for you nubies, a milonga is: (1) dance, mother of tango, (2) an 'event' where you dance tango (let's go to the milonga tonight) or even (3) the dancing hall where tango is danced.

If Tango music doesn't make you homo sapiens feel passionate about something, don't bother to pay your mortgage or car payment as you are surely dead. One of these days my husband is going to ask me what I want for my birthday or Valentine's Day and I am going to tell him, "To Tango the night away, my love."

Okay, so some of us marry people less inclined to love dance than others, but there is always hope. Just one abrazo (embrace or dance hold) can often convert an unwilling male into a lifelong fan. Or it might take a llevada (a movement in which the leader or male uses the upper thigh to 'carry' the follower's leg to the next step) to incite a little interest, or even a taste of the mordida (literally a sandwich, but in this step the foot of the partner is trapped between the two feet of the other partner).

Of course, the dance can be performed without the backbends and quebrada (a position where the woman stands on one foot, the other hanging relaxed behind, while she leans all her weight against the man), so that one could even dance a Tango with Mom. Although, seriously, why take out all the fun?

Oh, my, I long for that incredible wailing music with the beat of the tamboril eliciting something so primitive I cannot properly describe how it moves me. A dance that makes me almost want to swoon as I find it so exotic, I am also fascinated by the 'language' of the dance as I also speak Spanish. A 'salida', for example, is actually the beginning steps of dancing tango, although it literally translates as 'exit or go out', perhaps as in 'let's go out to the dance floor'.

The 'Tango Liso', the most basic forms without any leaping or acrobatics, can be danced by anyone without a walker. It is easy on the joints - gliding gracefully around a room in something very similar to ice skating in its aerobic benefit and generally danced on wooden floors - and it is invigorating to the soul.

But be a little careful if you are designated by others as a Milonguero (man who has mastered the tango or lives around the dance and philosophy of the same) and wish to flatter a lady with the feminine title, Milonguera. The latter can be the feminine of the definition above but also slang for 'prostitute', showing the few latent edges of the original disdain held towards the tango as a naughty, naughty dance found only in cabarets, nightclubs and lady-for-hire-dance halls.

Oh! And no matter your age, you will find suitable people willing to dance with you. A milonga is not a meat market, however, and those who dance the Tango take it very seriously indeed. Yes, you might meet someone at a class with similar interests, but don't go for that reason. Go for your soul. The real definition of the music and rhythm of Tango is simply 'la pasion'.

Clark County Diva

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Kate McCann... new suspect in her daughter's disappearance?


Good morning, my cherished little enchiladas~

The news reports continue of the little British four-year-old who was allegedly abducted from her hotel room in Portugal while her mother and father were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant. Today the New York Times reported that the mother has been extensively questioned after some additional forensic evidence has been discovered. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Portugal-Missing-Girl.html?hp

Why two parents who are physicians - which implies sufficient income to pay for a sitter - would have left a three-year-old and her two-year-old twin siblings alone in a hotel room confounds me. Of course, no one wants to say this, as we don't want to further burden those poor parents, right?

My take is the poor little children. Any mom whose attachment to her kids is so light that she thinks 'frequently checking on them' is adequate when she is far enough away that she can't hear them has been working away from home much too much.

Why don't I blame the father? I would and I do, but he doesn't have the hormones we do, does he? Besides many men see little value in the role of early childhood caretaking, as they are not usually the ones performing it. Yes, I know, there are exceptions thankfully, but look at the salaries of daycare workers and teachers if you don't believe me. Pitiful.

Besides, women from across the planet will tell you how uncomfortable they are leaving their children with someone else, but leaving them alone? Of course, in light of the tragic disappearance of their daughter, none of us want to shake our heads with a tisk-tisk, but perhaps we should.

We can't help little Madeleine McCann, but there are a lot of other children out there being neglected. Beyond kidnappers and pedophiles, there are natural threats like fires, earthquakes, accidents and even kiddie curiosity.

Every new mother is warned that the infant who lies flat for months will unexpectedly turn itself over and roll off the changing table if not strapped down. These attempts at new feats of physicality certainly continue as they grow up, becoming more and more daring. Was Madeleine the caretaker for her little siblings or did their parents really believe their children would sleep while they were gone?

I have no answer, and maybe at this point they don't either. I sincerely hope that if Madeleine is dead and her mother or father are somehow involved, accidentally or intentionally, that they confess and let us all off the hook emotionally. If the police are just so desperate for suspects that they've included the parents, let's hope they are not further torturing the McCanns.

And wherever little Madeleine is, let's hope for the best.

Clark County Diva

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Teenagers driving you crazy?


Good morning, my burly little bears~

Two of my friends still have children living at home, and they are exhausted by the experience. I guess looking back it seems easier to be able to tolerate teenage angst, arrogance and archives of rudeness, as I am not living with it anymore.

Not every kid is obnoxious, of course, just like not every did isn't a genius, but the numbers are slim. Oh, come on. I'm not picking on adolescents, it is just that they are so very different from us. Our skulls have closed and our brains are fully formed. They are still dealing with an underdeveloped frontal lobe. Really. That's why they can point out all your flaws and not notice any of theirs.

Nature is grand, isn't it? One day not only do we die - fulfilling every teenager's wish list eventually - but one day they also grow up. I promise.

Clark County Diva

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Forgetful lately? Maybe it's those antacids you take...


Good evening, my fragrant little apple blossoms~

With all the over-the-counter and prescription antacids we consume in America, it is no wonder many of us are becoming forgetful. Vitamin B-12, an important nutrient needed for memory functions of the brain, requires stomach acid to be properly absorbed into the body. Cut down on the acid and you inadvertently cut down on Vitamin B-12 absorption.

This is just one of many nutrient and medication conflicts and issues. Unfortunately, most of us don't have time to outline all the supplements and over-the-counter meds we take for our doctors, but even if we did? They are not pharmacists, whom doctors rely on to check contra-indications between drugs.

Notification of some very common conflicts is now being distributed via our prescription labels, but even that is not a foolproof system. For instance, people who take Lipitor (a statin for cholesterol reduction) should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice, but that is fairly new information. If someone has been on Lipitor for 15 years, why would they read the label? Unfortunately, the grapefruit causes the drug to concentrate in the blood stream and may cause serious damage to the body. Without obvious symptoms, imagine how long it might take to diagnose the problem. I mean, no one other than my allergist has ever asked me what I eat. How about you?

There are lots of over-the-counter drugs that shouldn't be taken lightly. Those who take an aspirin or two a day should not take gingko biloba, as both thin the blood and the combination could thin it too much. Thyroid hormone replacement should be taken on an empty stomach and not with iron supplements, as they cancel out the thyroid hormone benefit.

Megavitamins are not the answer either. A few years ago the American Cancer Society began warning patients undergoing chemotherapy not to take megadoses of Vitamin C. Why? It actually protected the cancer cells!

On the subject of cancer treatment - and there are a lot of young people who also get cancer - please pass this tidbit on to your friends. Do not smoke marijuana while you are undergoing chemotheraphy or radiation as your immune system, in order to kill the cancer cells, is being heavily suppressed. The doctor will be happy to give you a prescripton for the 'pot pills' if you need them for nausea or loss of appetite.

Spores and dangerous chemicals are often found in street marijuana, either of which could cause an infection. With an impaired immune system, something that would have no effect on a normal person might end up being fatal for a sick person.

Don't mean to be Debbie Downer, but thought the information might be useful.

Clark County Diva

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"The Language of God"... by Francis Collins


Good afternoon, my special little robins~

This book by Francis Collins entitled 'The Language of God' is a rather fascinating and uplifting one. If like me you are longing for a connection with the Sacred in life but find your old spiritual concepts are in conflict with your knowledge of scientific principles, read it.

There are some summarized scientific explanations interspersed with some spiritual ones. In case the author's name sounds familiar, Francis Collins was the head of the Human Genome Project, the team that cracked the human DNA codes. There is no doubt their work will make it possible for the prevention or cure of many genetically based diseases or inherited ones.

Collins' heavy scientific background would seem in conflict with a spiritual faith in a supernatural being, i.e., God, but his book attempts to bring the reader through his personal journey from atheism to believer. One has to want to believe, of course, for his arguments to be taken seriously, but they are very good ones.

I find it fascinating to be relieved of that knee-jerk reaction by many science-based people against belief in a higher being, particularly as Collins is considered to be a scientific genius. Oh, I know, if somebody said, "Hey, let's jump off that cliff!", would I just jump? Of course not, but it is interesting to confront our own religious and spiritual prejudices and see how Collins attempts to counter each one.

Remembering back to those embarrassing moments you would like to forget? I once asked a physicist who sang in the choir with me how a man of high science was able to come to church and believe in God. (It was a Roman Catholic church no less.) Obviously I was having my own doubts, which I have now discovered are a part of faith, but that's another post.

Anyway, after considering my rude question he said, "The more I learn about the universe, the easier it is to believe in God."

What I find amazing about Francis Collins' book, however, is that he seems to believe in the way a Theist does - that God is a supernatural being able to still care about the concerns and woes of individual people and that he wants a relationship with humanity.

I guess that's the way it is with family. Even though your loved ones are often a disappointment, you are loyal and love them just the same. It's a comforting thought, isn't it? Anyway, read the book. It's in paperback now and well worth it.

You can find it on-line at these sites: http://www.bordersstores.com/search/search.jsp
http://www.amazon.com/books-used-books-textbooks/b?ie=UTF8&node=283155

Clark County Diva

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How much do you love your daughters?


Good afternoon, my fine hairy beasts~

This post isn't just for women. There are lots of dads and husbands and fathers and brothers who care about our girls. I posted this on a pretty fun site, www.gather.com, and thought I might as well post it on my blog as well.

How much do you love your daughters?
September 04, 2007 03:52 PM EDT

Everybody knows you would do anything for your children, so I have to ask. Why have so few of you taken one simple precaution? The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been available for over a year, and yet it is seriously under-utilized. I understand most parents don't want to think about their darling pre-pubescent child having sex with some hairy beast, but let's get real.

Experimentation in our highly sexualized culture is happening quite early for some children even if we don't count 'playing doctor' or all the hours children are home alone and unsupervised. Add in the statistics on rape and the incest we both know about and suspect, and the vaccination becomes even more relevant.

In my opinion there is absolutely no down side to this vaccine. The medical community has known for years that cervical cancer is caused by a small number of high-risk types of HPV that cause abnormal growth and cell change. In some people this is as far as it goes, but in other women the cells become precancerous and, if not treated, cancer. (Virgin nuns were the first indication that this disease was sexually transmitted, as they never contracted cervical cancer.)

Once precancer or cancer develop, the treatments vary depending on the severity of the cell change, but may have the heart-breaking result of leaving a woman unable to carry pregnancies to term. With many women post-poning their child-bearing until their middle and late thirties, when they will start to be diagnosed with cervical changes and cancer, this can be a catastrophic outcome on many levels.

Human Papillomavirus is a very common virus category and does affect both men and women and is often symptomless. Thirty of these hundred or so viruses are called 'genital HPV' since they affect the genital area, with a handful of them considered high risk with regard to the development of cancer. The majority produce things like skin tags or other minor cell changes that are benign, and the majority of people who have been sexually active are hosting some HPVs. Unfortunately, as most people are unaware they are contagious, or were treated but have had a recurrence, these viruses spread like wildfire.

It is relatively simple to diagnose which kinds of HPV you might have, but once contracted there is no cure. Two of the most dangerous types, HPV 16 and 18, cause 70% of the cervical cancer cases while HPV 6 and 11 cause 90% of the genital wart cases. Gardasil, the vaccine now available to protect against all four of these HPVs, is recommended for girls from the ages of nine to eleven. It will not, however, present all cervical cancers as there are other HPVs that are not yet available as a developed vaccine.

Why so young, my Puritanical little readers? Because nine to eleven presumes to be before sexual activity begins, although in some communities that may even be too late.

So what is the real risk? How contagious are genital warts? Two out of three people who have sexual contact (does not need to be intercourse, by the way) with an infected person will also get the warts. Treatment options for genital warts are only effective 75% of the time, so 25% of patients will experience a return within three months if HPV is still present.
Of the six million new cases of genital HPV in the United States each year, 74% of those females will be between the ages of 15 and 24. Half of all women diagnosed with cervical cancer are between 35 and 55, with the majority of them exposed during their teens and early twenties.

Although it is hoped that vaccinating the girls will prevent 70% to 90% of the cases, a Pap test is still recommended for all sexually active women annually. The first cellular symptom of HPV, known as cervical dysplasia, can be diagnosed with this test in which cervical cells are removed and sent to the lab for study. If the cells have some level of abnormality this is a warning sign that it is more likely cancer will develop in the future. Although it generally takes years, there are a rarer number of cases where the cell dysplasia can develop into cancer within a year.

Unfortunately, as there are no actual symptoms of cervical cancer without the Pap screening, by the time the cancer is palpable it has usually metasticized. For this reason, even with the vaccine, the Pap screening remains a critical tool against cervical cancer for women who have already been exposed to the high-risk HPVs. The vaccine is useless once HPV is contracted as it is a preventative not a treatment for HPV infection.

And once your daughter is thirty, encourage her to get an HPV test (a computerized molecular test on a sample of cervical cells) along with her Pap test. If she's clear, she can wait three years before she gets another HPV test, although annual pelvic and breast exams are still recommended.

So, my next question is, how much do you love yourself? You may not benefit from the HPV vaccine, but perhaps it is time to get those two tests and find out where you stand.

For further information, go to these websites:

www.thehpvtest.com
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/womenscancers
http://www.asccp.org/patient_edu.shtml

To your good health,
Clark County Diva

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Baked (tastes fried) chicken recipe...


Good evening, my little painted ponies~

Here is a recipe I created tonight that we both thought was delicious, in spite of the fact that the chicken was skinless.:)

Baked ‘Fried’ (Flourless) Chicken

Ingredients:

6 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 - 12 oz. can unsweetened, evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
½ tsp. garlic salt
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 cups Kellogg’s cornflake crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil into a glass baking dish, tipping pan to spread the oil evenly. Reserve the other tablespoon. Wash and dry chicken breasts and, if needed, pound them slightly with a meat hammer to a consistent thickness. Set aside. Using a gallon size plastic bag, mix the cornflakes, garlic salt and paprika. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs before beating in the milk.

Dip each piece of chicken into the milk/egg mixture, drop it into the cornflakes mixture and shake until all sides are covered. Carefully place each piece in the roasting pan as flatly as you can (it will round up as it cooks), adding more covering on top if needed. Melt the butter in a microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds, then mix with the other tablespoon of olive oil. Drizzle the butter/olive oil mixture over the top of the chicken.

Bake the chicken, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the crust. Cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. (Thicker pieces may take longer.) As the chicken actually tastes similar to the original seasoning on Kentucky Fried Chicken, I feel like I may have stumbled upon some proprietary secret recipe. Olive oil could probably be substituted for the butter without any serious change in taste. Also, people who don’t eat wheat can eat this ‘crust’. Serves 6.


Serve with a nice, light salad.

Clark County Diva

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When Ancestry.com becomes an addiction...


Good afternoon, my spunky little cow boys and girls~

Have you ever wanted to know where you came from? I mean the truth about where your ancestors came from and where they went? Well, we have satisfied our curiosity on the former, and my family was pretty boring on their way out of Africa about 60,000 years ago. As a matter of fact, my father's DNA line 30,000 years ago was related to 100% of all non-African men, and by 20,000 years ago was still related to 95% of all non-African men. In other words, I am a pretty standard Eurasian like all other immigrants from Northern Europe.

My family members have always been breeders if Ancestry.com's data base can be trusted, so it was reassuring to know that all my fears about becoming pregnant in my forties were not paranoia. Going back through the census records I found children my female ancestors gave birth to in their late forties!

Now I know that fertility is not an issue in my particular lines, but the press lately about all the infertile career women (like Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart's daughter), is of concern for my descendants. Before the advent of the birth control pill women were pretty much doomed to have children as long as they had sexual relations. Yes, we've all heard those jokes about sexless marriages, but we were having all those kids. You guys were just supporting them. Anyway, that's another long post.

It has been interesting since I joined Ancestry.com and the National Geographic Genographic study (www.nationalgeographic.com) to realize that breeding is about the most important thing some of us can do during our lifetimes. At least in the opinion of our descendants.

Just my take.

Clark County Diva

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mannatech glyconutrients and hip boots...


Good afternoon, my friendly little goslings~

I am releasing today on some of that uncomfortable 'I really wish it was true, but since it isn't, I'll have to tell my friend' stuff. Oh, I didn't do anything, but she is one of those multi-level sales people who is gung-ho on her products, which are multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118775074805504989.html Of course, the fancy name is 'glyconutrients', but in a word, they are nothing but food supplements.

Just from the title of this blog you can imagine that I am not in need of further supplementation, but it was kind of her to try to help cure me of all my body's ailments. In spite of appearances, I am quite healthy at the moment, but I do take a few medications to keep me that way. On the other hand, so do most people my age, but they are just a little more discreet about it.

Anyway, I knew - for my own good, of course, - she was going to try to sell me on these supplements as the cure-all of cure-alls, so I tried to keep an open mind. After all, if nobody had listened to Cheney, Rumsfeld or Bush II, where would we be? Okay, so I was a bit facetious with that last sentence, but these products also rely on multi-level marketing through very religious and/or fanatical people.

When somebody is trying to sell me vitamins, I like the idea that they are God's gift to man and woman, but I don't like to be conned based on my spiritual beliefs. Not that Jesus didn't perform a few miracles from all accounts, but nature performs a few on its own too. I admit that glucosamine, calcium, magnesium and zinc have made a tremendous difference in the quality of my life, but so has Ben & Jerry's.

So I researched the company name and just a little Googling brought up some credible articles (one from the Wall Street Journal) and one about multi-level marketing scams and the one perpetrated by the very company she works for: Mannatech. Not good, right?

Okay, so the conflict I had was, 1) Should I tell her that I don't want the supplements and risk her negative reaction? Or, 2) Should I tell her that I don't want the supplements because I think the company she sells for is crooked?

Obviously neither option was particularly appealing, so I opted for sending her the research via email. That way she can make up her own mind and I can only hope I didn't subject myself to further 'proof' and testimonials that these supplements work. Unfortunately, the pitch she gave me was exactly what the Texas Attorney General's office (and perhaps other legal departments) can put her in jail for doing. Telling me how she and her daughter are cured and how I can be cured of my ailments too.

Now if she wants to tell me that a Prayer after I take the supplement will cure me, that's probably legal. But if she tells me that a vitamin supplement or nutrient pack will do even part of the job? That's a crime.

I'm sure it never would occur to her that her helpful encouragement of someone like me could be prosecutable, but then, she takes the glyconutrients herself and has sold them to her daughter and probably all her friends. Which is exactly how multi-level marketing works and why that company had sales of $410,000 million in 2004. (I didn't bother to look for updated figures.)

Clark County Diva

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The tunic is back!


Good afternoon, my affectionate little hipsters~

Yes, the beloved Tunic is back! I for one knew it would return eventually, but it took a while. All those low-rider pants, b*tt lint and flab have finally sickened enough of us (on ourselves) that we have welcomed the longer blouse back.

Tunics can cover up a lot more than those items listed above, which makes their return utterly invigorating.:)

Clark County Diva

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When you marry an Arab Prince...


Good afternoon, my sensitive little bluebirds~

Okay, this one is for you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2161696,00.html

As the Guardian's catchy headline caught my eye, "How a Minsk waitress landed an Arab Prince", of course I read the article. It appears that Sheikh Sayyid bin Maktoum al-Maktoum arrived in Belarus and rather than winning a clay pidgeon competition, a 19-year-old waitress who had been working there for two months caught his eye. Or shall we say, she's the one who got caught?

Ah yes, it is a romantic tale she tells of her one-month courtship. She is a Muslim woman who says she married her prince for love. We were all 19 once, and love hits that group pretty quickly and hard, doesn't it? I'm sure his first wife married for love also, and she and their five children must be overjoyed to have extended the family so effortlessly.

Of course after reading the book, Three Cups of Tea, I have a slightly greater understanding of the Muslim acceptance of polygamy based on ability to support wives and additional children. A Prince certainly should be among those expected to have more than one wife. Heck, after bearing five children for the 30-year-old prince, the first wife may have even requested a relief catcher.

And there are always times when spouses of both sexes could easily relate to the old comedian Rodney Dangerfield's opening line, "Take my wife... please!". The first part delivered as if he was going to say something factual about her. It always got a snicker from the men, but we're completely capable of substituting the word 'husband'.

I guess my point is that romance still lives.:)

Clark County Diva

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Merrill Markoe is one funny lady... so is her book, Walking Around in Circles Before Lying Down...


Good afternoon, my tasty little dairy queens~

The title of this book is weird, isn't it? If you have never owned dogs, you probably won't enjoy the book all that much, as the most entertaining main characters after the set up are the protagonist's dogs.

Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that we are dog people. I am unusual, though, as I also relate quite well to people. I confess I have friends, loving children and grandchildren and a 30 year marriage. Okay, full disclosure again, the dogs do sleep on the bed and once in a while on a Three-Dog Night they might even try to climb under the covers with us, but never on my side. At least not while I'm still awake.:)

So this book, which ends up being very cutesy, is a quickie two night read. It isn't the kind of writing, though, that makes you laugh out loud. You are busy smirking and being a know-it-all through the greatest part, though. And Markoe certainly is good at sarcastically describing her characters so that we can all feel quite superior the entire time we are reading about their ridiculous predicaments and poor choices.

After all, isn't that what we all really want? To know that we are certainly much, much smarter than fictional characters in a book and their dogs. Again, the title is, Walking around in circles before lying down.

She is the creator of the "stupid pet tricks" segment on David Letterman (and was their head writer) and has won several Emmies during her TV career.

Clark County Diva

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Marian Keyes can write a light read...


Good afternoon, my fancy schmancy pants!

Okay, so the blog still has a hold over me and I cannot help sharing that I'm reading again.:) Okay, so I love to read - it is an addiction that I indulge daily - but I particularly used to love novels and have been trying to lighten up by reading them again. After all, how dark can you get when the title is, Sushi for Beginners (by Marian Keyes)?

It was called a 'pleasure to read' by the Boston Globe, and they were right. Happy endings (except for the b*tch who cheated on her husband with her best friend's boyfriend) abounded for several twenty and thirty-somethings and although there were a few sexy passages, they were more or less a yawn. On the other hand, as it was set in Dublin, Ireland, with references to England, I got to learn some brand new U.K. slang.

Anyway, if you need some lightening up, Keyes has written quite a few novels, but don't pay retail. You can probably find one or two in a used book store that ladies frequent to trade in their romance novels.

Clark County Diva

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Halleluia... Gonzo is Gone...!


Good afternoon, my tuxedoed little darlings~

Hark! There is obviously a God. Our prayers have been answered and wow is he pissed at Alberto Gonzalez. We now thank the LORD seventeen times, as Gonzo is finally gone-so from our lives.

Of course, he served his purpose well and stonewalled any meaningful oversight or investigation by the Senate or the House into all the illegal things Bush's administration has been doing, but at least we don't have to look at his ugly, smirking face.

Please dear Lord of Washington, do not replace him with someone like Lieberman. Know also that anyone who is not ethical and/or going to stand up to the Bush machine and tell them what the law not only says but means, will go down too. Our government may be screwed up, but eventually the American psyche gets fed up and we demand change.

Of course, our votes are supposed to implement change, which hasn't been working too well for us lately, but we are pretty close to the end of our tolerance and patience. This is the first sign. Time to work up that impeachment list and move forward.

Clark County Diva

Clark County Diva

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Why Brian Baird? What the hell are you smokin'?


Good afternoon, my reticent rhinoceri~

Et tu, Brian?

Yes I am talking about my representative, naughty, misguided, obviously-on-meth-or-crack, Brian Baird, (D) Washington State.

The man I voted for the last several elections. The man I promoted off and on with my many, voting friends, even though I had some inside information that he was a pr*ck to work for I never once told anyone. Yes, the man I spoke to for at least a half hour the first time he ran. Why I once even considered donning a t-shirt and walking in downtown Ridgefield as a 'Brian Baird' supporter, as he claimed to care about children, education, social programs and civil rights.

Now he has stepped so deeply into it that the Republican administration is wetting their pants with joy, and we must turn on our own. Brian, Brian, Brian! You were elected to represent your constituents, whom as you seem not to have noticed, are in a majority against the war in Iraq. We don't want a bloodbath on the way out, but we want our soldiers out as soon as possible.

Obviously you were very impressed by General Petraeus. Was it because he has a Princeton PhD, and your PhD is from some Podunk school? Did he schmooze you so well that you lost consciousness? Or maybe they have something really, really nasty on you.

'Fess up, Brian, and maybe we'll forgive you.

We forgave Bill Clinton, didn't we? We don't want to think you were cheating on the wife with those little twins but unless you are tired of running for office every two years and they promised something really big after you leave? None of it makes sense.

Well, my disappointing little man, I am sure you heard today that moveon.org is after your derriere now as well. You think it's only the people of Vancouver, Washington, who are going to be crawling up your behind? Think again, my friend. For the first time in a million years, I may have to vote against a Democrat in 2008. Of course, by then maybe you'll have switched parties anyway.

Sigh.

Clark County Diva

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No right way to do the wrong thing...


Good afternoon, my accidental readers~

I am checking in to share one thought. There is no right way to do the wrong thing, and The Columbian Newspaper did the absolutely wrong thing with this picture of our friend whose son was killed and their insensitive coverage. http://www.columbian.com/news/localNews/08202007news185908.cfm

Anyone who thinks this sort of dramatic picture is something that a family needs taken and published when the worst thing in life has just occurred? S/he and her/his community needs to be blackballed.

Therefore, I am posting this article on my website with the link so that anyone who is as disgusted as I am can write to The Columbian and ask them to sell the paper to Murdoch. At least he's not pretending to be anyone's friend while he exploits their family tragedy.

Our society has forgotten how to care about those who are suffering. May this family eventually find acceptance and peace, and may The Columbian newspaper go down in flames.

Clark County Diva

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Blogging's fun but... I want to finish my screen play


Good evening, my loyal and lovely readers~

I am going to take a bit of a sabbatical for a while. Why? Well, I am always complaining that I don't have enough free time to finish my creative efforts, so over the last month I analyzed how I spend my time. It has been really fun to blog and it became at times an obsession of sorts, a confessional, a memoir, and a personal diary, but I need to take a break.

If I don't actually put the blog on hold - after all I start feeling obligated to post as I don't want my loyal readers to be disappointed - I won't finish any of my screenplays.

Okay, so one of them is probably too 'Angela's Ashes' to interest most of you, but I have another one that I believe is a really good story, and that is what I want to tell with the true challenge of using dialogue.

Obviously I torment myself quite a bit with what I 'ought', 'should' and 'must' do, so I think it is time for me to do what I 'want' to do. I want to finish that screen play, edit it, market it and sell it. Then I can go back to blogging whenever I feel like it.

I'll be back, but as long as our regular business is in a sorry state and I have some free time, I decided to thank the Universe and take advantage of this opening. Then if the screenplay doesn't work out well for me, and I've ended up having to hit my credit cards to survive? It will at least be for an artistic venture and not just another downturn in my personal fortunes based on chaos theory of some sort.

So, adieu for a while, or shall I just say, hasta la vista.

Clark County Diva

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Keep looking...

 
Good morning, again, my darling pretties~

Same sunset, same beauty.

Clark County Diva
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Beauty is all around us...

 
Good morning, my innocent little grasshoppers~

Beauty is everywhere, we just need to remember to look for it.

Clark County Diva
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