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Monday, December 31, 2012

Be it resolved...

I don’t know how it is everywhere, but here in these United States, everyone loves to have a good solid New Year’s resolution or two.  Or five.  And amongst the throngs of lists of the many resolves, there stands one which is so prevalent and pronounced that it is quite likely that it is the most popular resolution ever made and I dare say it is made every year by the masses.  What is this resolution that is so near and dear and popular and prevalent?

The fantastic resolution to lose weight/begin exercising.

This is never more evident to me than in the gym in the wee hours of the morning all throughout January.  I, being somewhat of a creature of habit, have my “own” locker at the gym.  If I could stencil my name on it, I would, but since I can’t, I just claim it by using the same one every single morning.  It is the perfect spot for me, oh how I love it so!  It never fails, however, that sometime in January, a person who is pretending that they are going to get fit and fabulous waddles in and steals my locker.  This only happens in January because about 5 weeks (6 if you’d like to make bets on it) after the new year, all of those people who were working it out to go work out totally quit and go back to sleeping in and eating potato chips on their couches while they identify with the contestants on The Biggest Loser (I love you, Bob and Jillian!)

This is the time where all of the actual regulars rejoice and are free to enjoy a much more open space in the privacy of their own locker area without threat of invasion. 

Maybe you’ve got a resolution to pick up a new hobby or learn something you’ve never tried before.  If you aren’t a runner, might I suggest giving it a whirl?  It is a very rewarding hobby and once you convince yourself you’d like to do it and begin pursing it, there are a myriad of benefits.  What benefits, say you?  Well, there’s the obvious – an increase in cardiovascular health, a trimmer figure, and perhaps even the coveted golden crown of weight loss and a shrinking of the posterior regions.  Then you’ve got the others – a great stress-reliever and an outlet for clearing your mind and lungs.  You get to enjoy the scenery around you on an up-closer scale that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were passing by on a bus or in a car and it gives you an appreciation for your surroundings (or you just get entertainment value by playing a game of “Grade The Lawns” as you run past).  You may even develop an addiction to it with all those endorphins flying around, not to mention the best sleep you'll ever have after a killer run (for all of you dear insomniacs out there).  Some research reports that running even reduces your risk of disease like breast cancer and osteoporosis for women.

Now you’re sitting there thinking, “Yeah, that’s just great Ms. Daisy, but I have to tell you something: I HATE RUNNING.” 

I know, I know.  You like the idea of running but the actual doing it is horrid torture.  I was there.  I know how you feel. 

Sometimes you’ve got to pull the mind-over-matter thing.  I didn’t start running until after I was 27ish years old.  I called up my little sister (who was a member of a cross country running team) and said…
“Hey, so, I’ve been thinking.  I think it would be so cool to be a marathon runner!  Do you want to do a marathon with me?”
Sister: “Do you have any idea how long a marathon actually is?”
Me: “Um, no…”
Sister: “26.2 miles.”
Me: “Oh, ick.  What do they have that’s less?”
Sister:  “A half?”
Me: “Ummmm, still no…is that the least?”
Sister: “There’s a 10k, 6.2 miles.”
Me: “Oh man! Is there anything else?”
Sister: “A 5k?”
Me:  “Sold!  I’m so doing that!  Now, how do I do it?”

I didn’t really know how, but I ran 6 days a week for practice.  I actually started off with quite hating running.  I could only really run about one block.  The amazing thing about your body and your muscle memory is that it grows and grows – the more you practice, the more you can do.  The positive reinforcement I got from being able to steadily do more and more (plus my idea that I would soon get to call myself “a runner”) spurred me on to keep it up, even when it was hard and I didn’t feel like it anymore.

I signed up for a 5k race (I recommend you do this.).  Every morning I would picture the other racers.  I would tell myself that they got up and were running right now (or perhaps they were already done with their run today) and they were killing it out there.  They were going for the gold and wanted to snatch first place away from me.  I have a slightly competitive nature and this worked very well because I would then run so hard I would nearly crumple into a pathetic little ball on the cement upon finishing each day (Also recommended, but not required.).

I am happy to tell you that if I can do it, you can do it.  I truly could not run more than a block.  After several years of training off and on, I even managed to finish a half marathon (13.1 miles/21 k).  I am not telling you this so that I can tell you fascinating stories of my personal awesomeness, but rather to say that YOU CAN DO IT! 

Whaddya think?  Do you want to call yourself a runner?  What resolutions do you have? 

Peace, love and train it like you’re Little Mac,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Benzene: the next "Where's Waldo"

Top o'the mornin' to yus, me lovies.  I've got a bit of a project for you, if you're up for it.  If not, well...okay, have a few sips of your tea and see if you can work up to it.

It's good for you!  (Do all you rebels out there want to just not do it since I've just said that?  I understand completely.)

So here's the deal.  There's a crazy carcinogen out there, I'm sure you've maybe heard of it: benzene.  It's quite the known carcinogen, actually.  She's a real doozy.  

You might be so excited (not) to hear that she's hiding in plain sight in your medicine cabinet and perhaps even in your fridge!  Oh, lovely.  And if you're thinking she might only be lurking in your meds, actually, she's quite a bit more common in children's meds.  That's the sicker thing about it.

Now, it's not going to just say "BENZENE" on the label.  No, m'dearies.  If you saw that, you'd be throwing it out the window.  Instead, we get this lovely carcinogen from the combination (a.k.a. chemical reaction) of sodium benzoate and citric acid.  Sodium benzoate is used mainly as a preservative and every manufacturer is just straight up in mad love with it.  I've seen it on pop cans and in lotions and in liquid Tylenol and in Benadryl and in a pile of other things.

So think about this.  You have a little person in your home and they're sad and sick as can be.  You reach into the cupboard, thinking you'll alleviate some of their symptoms because you can't stand to see them suffering and grab some kiddo Tylenol (acetaminophin).  

What?  What's that?  Who is playing that Jaws music?  What foreboding are you suggesting?  

Oh, nothing really.  We've just been duped and trained to give our children (and ourselves) carcinogens when our immune systems are at their weakest.  GREAT IDEA.

Seriously?  Whoever thought this up is a real sick dude.  (Or dudette.)  

Would you like to read up on it a bit more?  Here are some links:

So do me a flavor (yes, I prefer flavor, just not the flavor of benzene.).  Check something in your medicine cabinet.  Does it have those two ingredients together?  Look in your fridge.  Did you find it?  It's Where's Waldo for benzene.  What a fun game.

Maybe not, but I'm trying to keep an eye out for yas.  

Happy (almost) New Year and make your resolution now not to carcinogen-ify yourself in 2013.

Peace, love and I'll have mine without the cancer, thank you,
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You may call me Scrooge, but I prefer "Ms. Tidy"

I have a little Christmas tradition that I've been keeping up as long as I've lived as the princess of my domain.  I find it relaxing, refreshing and freeing.  My husband finds it revolting, horrifying and Scrooge-like.  What could two peas in a pod possibly disagree on to such a level as this, you ask?

Well, okay.  Let me tell you.  But you must promise not to yell out "SCROOGE" when you hear it.  Promise?  Pinkie swear?


Okay, (hushed tones) my tradition is to wake up early on December 26 and take down my Christmas tree and decorations.

HEY!  You promised!

Now before you throw up your arms in disgust at my ways, let me explain my point of view.  Okay, here's my main point: Christmas is OVER.  Done.  Like it was so yesterday.    After all the Christmas party-ing and crazy family-fying and being away from home for about 72 hours straight, I often feel that the week leading up to Christmas is some kind of holiday marathon.  And, if you've run a marathon before (I've only done a half so far, but I can imagine a full), when you cross the finish line (a.k.a. going to bed on Christmas night), you're done.  You've finished the race, completed the course and you're ready to grab your medal, go home, snuggle in bed and swear off running for a month in exchange for playing Math Workout on your couch or making a nice fancy scarf real crochet-like.  You have had it.  You've been wrung out.  You want to hear no more of Art Van's once in a millenium sales (that they somehow have every single week), you do not want to spend Kohl's cash, you just want to go back to normal.

So that's what I do.  My physical space represents the inside of my brain.  If you have clutter, you have a chaotic mind.  If you have simplicity and tranquility, you have a quiet(er) mind.  I wakey wakey and begin the purge.  Sometimes I have to sneak it - like if my hubby is off work and sleeping in the next room, yeah, let's say he kind of gets mad when he wakes up and finds that everything has disappeared.  He likes the tree up, it reminds him of cozy-ness.  Now I get that, but we've been cozy long enough and it's got to go.  We have had an argument pretty much every December 26th we've been married because of my crazy tradition.  At first he was so baffled and taken aback, he didn't really know what to say or do.  Over the next ten-ish years, he would say, "You better not do that thing you do..."  And alas, I had to do it anyway.  I am usually not such a sassy wife, but in this I can't be convinced.  I'm the one who stares at the living room all day (okay, not stare exactly but I know it's there) and he's at work.

This year was our 16th Christmas together (1 dating, 1 engaged, 14 married - yep, I was like you know, 10 or so when I got married, thus think of me as 26.) and a first has happened.  A week or so ago, he said the same thing, "You better not do that thing you do..." and I said, "Honey, don't fight it.  You have your traditions (like eating pierogies on Christmas Eve) and I have mine (like taking down the Christmas stuff before 9:00 in the morning on December 26th).  I love you, that's just the way it is."

For the FIRST TIME, do you know what?  He halfway accepted it!  He said, "Well, don't take down the window lights, I like them."  

HOORAY!!!!  "Of course, dear!  Now have some pie.  Shall I make you a cup of coffee, sweetie pie darling honey bunny?  And what about a back rub?"  (Okay, I totes did not go as far as the back rub thing, but you get the gist.)

That, dear folks, is marriage at it's finest.  And my home is all nice and tidy and I can think again and all is lovely.  

I hope you and yours had a lovely Christmas (and enjoy your Boxing Day - what is that, anyway?).

Peace, love and clean it up!
Ms. Daisy

Monday, December 24, 2012

What the heck is in your ice cream?

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Do you like ice cream?  Where do you get it from?  It's not like...commercial ice cream, is it?  If you want to remain blissfully happy and unaware of the hazards that you've grown to love, I suggest you stop reading this and go play Mahjong or something - because after you hear about your precious little ice cream, you may just want to barf.

I know.  Welcome to another exciting edition of Ms. Daisy Gives You Disturbing Information About Things You Thought You Liked.

So I've been making my own ice cream for a little while now, mostly because I buy heavy whipping cream in bulk and it's a good use of it - either that or making butter (did you see that post?  If not, go check it out when you're done here.) - the delicious superfood.  And yes, I mean it - superfood.  Just go read that thing, you'll be horrified initially and then delighted.  I know you - you were the kid who was sticking your finger in the butter dish.  Don't try to hide it.  Its because you knew what was good for you back then and your adult and learned mind absorbed junk diet fabrications from the dictocrats.  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the ice cream.

I used to buy ice cream at the store.  If you buy the ones with 5 ingredients in it (which is really all ice cream needs to have in it - I'll tell you how to make it in a minute), they're like five million bucks more than the junk crud with 1,634 ingredients in it.  You would think that would be the opposite, but apparently poison is cheaper than real food.  Shocker.  So, I was thinking I didn't really want a pile of polysorbate-60 in my ice cream along with all those other unpronounceables (not to mention GMO soy lecithin and GMO corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup or some poisonous artificial colors and flavors) so I'd just try to make it myself.  I have been tweaking it - I have a very strict judge here, my hubby, who complains if it isn't just right.  I don't have an ice cream maker and I am too lazy to do that salt thing so if you're more adventurous than I, by all means, use those thingies and you'll end up with a creamier end product. I, however, just want an excuse to use my homemade "Magic Shell".  

Okay, so you're saying, what's wrong with my ice cream?  Let's start with the fact that ice cream manufacturers are not legally required to list the additives used in the manufacturing of their products - are you ready to be shocked - SO THEY DON'T TELL YOU THEM.  I know.  Baby, baby, it's a wild world.  Let's take a glimpse into what's in your ice cream, based on analysis.  Drum roll,  please...

1.  Diethylglycol.  A cheap chemical used as an emulsifier instead of eggs.  Same chemical used in ANTIFREEZE and PAINT REMOVERS.

2.  Piperonal.  Used in place of vanilla.  This chemical is used to KILL LICE.  I wish I were making this up.  

3.  Aldehyde C-17.  Used to flavor cherry ice cream.  It is an inflammable liquid also used in ANILINE DYES, PLASTIC and RUBBER.

4.  Ethyl acetate.  Used to give ice cream a pineapple flavor.  Also a CLEANER for LEATHER and textiles.  Wanna hear something even better?  It's vapors have been known to cause chronic lung, liver and heart damage.  WHAT!?

5.  Butyraldehyde.  Nut flavored ice cream lovers, this is for you.  It flavors nut ice creams and is also in RUBBER CEMENT.  Delish.

6.  Amyl acetate.  Banana ice creamy-ness, hello.  Use #2: OIL PAINT SOLVENT.

7.  Benzyl acetate.  Straberry ice cream, anyone?  Word up, it's also a NITRATE SOLVENT.

(Source: PPNF Health Journal)

I guess you could just freeze some of your garage liquids and mix them with some old milk and do your ice cream that way...OR, you could make your own using about 5 ingredients.  Really.  C'mon peeps.  Jump on board and impress your friends (and also survive past 43 years old while you're at it.) with your extreme skillz (yep, with a "z") at ice cream making!

Woooo hoo!

I mean, unless you really like your lice killer ice cream.  Whatever floats your boat, man, but I'm just trying to look out for you.

Okay, so here's what I do.  It's really hard.  Not.

2 ish? cups of heavy whipping cream
a dump of sugar (from cane, not beets - keep your GMO junk out of your "healthier" ice cream) - 1/4 cup? 1/2 cup?
a splash of vanilla (I am so technical it's insane)
2 egg yolks
a blob of milk

1.  Use your mixer and make whipped cream - dump in your pile of sugar.  When you're fluffy as can be, stop.  (Don't overdo it unless you were planning on making butter.)
2.  Add the rest of your ingredients (2 egg yolks, a splash of milk - 1/2 cup-ish, and vanilla - a tablespoon-ish).

As you can see, this is a very exact science.

Okay, I just have to say something.  Everyone in the entire United States and Canada is FREAKING out right now because I told you to add uncooked egg yolks.  If you are getting your eggs from a commercial source, I can see why you might be freaking out.  But if you get your eggs from a known source (please go find some local eggs, seriously.), you are good to go.  Europe, did you know that Americans refrigerate our eggs?  United States-ians, did you know that most places in Eurpoe DON'T refrigerate their eggs?  Tell em!  Tell em you're still just fine and even alive.  Tell em you stick em in a bowl on your counter and it's the normalest thing ever.  I know.  I've been brainwashed to put mine in the fridge, but help us.  I don't know what our problem is. Maybe because a germ would leap onto it and kill us dead.  Probably.  It's a legitimate concern, obviously.  

Oh yes, last step.  Put your concoction in the freezer.  If you want to have chocolate ice cream, make a chocolate sauce (I use chocolate chips melted in heavy whipping cream) and stir it in.  Straberry?  Swirl in your homemade preserves.  The vanilla goes with just about everything.

Now, the magic shell - oh, for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about - it's that stuff you put on your ice cream and it turns into a crunchy delicious shell of chocolate wonderment.  It's the reason for summer (that and sunlight), the joy of finishing all of your healthy dinner and a piece of delight on the plate of life.

Here's the recipe for that, are you ready?  Melt coconut oil in a pan (1/2 cup).  Pour in chocolate chips until they are melty.  Pour on to ice cream.  Coconut oil is a solid below 76 degrees F (24 C) and liquid above.  If you get enough chocolate in there, it stays liquidy even if your house is pretty cold.  If it solidifies, just heat it up on the stove again.  Pour all over your ice cream and say, "HOLY COW THIS IS SO GOOD."  That's what I do, anyway.

Some of you don't know me and you could be imagining me as a 400 pound whale from my comments about butter and ice cream and magic shell.  I am not.  People who eat full-fat foods are THINNER than those who eat low-fat garbage.  It's a fact, even though it seems like insanity.  Your stomach has receptors and when fat jumps in, your stomach says, "Okey dokes, we're good, all set, you're full now."  When you eat low-fat, they are  not triggered and you keep eating.  Can you eat a side of beef after that piece of cheesecake?  Yeah, no, probs not.  There's a reason.

So m'dearies, that's what we've got for you today.  Merry Christmas and pitch that old lice killer!

Peace, love and pass the magic shell,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Search for Wonderbread: No, not THAT kind.

I try, as often as possible, to avoid clutching tightly to the consumerism and stuff that comes to tempt us in this life.  


If you look in my cupboard, you may find I am bordering on obsessed with glass jars.  And if you take a peek in my cupboard (or fridge, depending on the time), it seems I have a love affair with...bread.

Oh, carbohydrates!  How I dost love thee!  Well, that and tea.  Tea gets like 2 cupboards out of my 12ish cupboards because, hello, tea deserves it. 

Back to the bread.  At this moment, I have a myriad of bread types lounging around in my kitchen and I love each and every one of them.  I love the sprouted multigrain, of course.  All those yummy sprouters all mixed in to one lovely loaf - oh the toast!  I can't have a breakfast without it, slathered in melting and puddling butter (getting my Vitamin A and D!).  Then I've got the regular ol' softy organic wheat for sandwiches for the faint of heart.  Scootch that loaf over and I've got a crusty boule with olive oil and rosemary cut in half and a hearty wheat version, too.  For good measure, I made up a cinnamon-raisin loaf because it sounded so darn good.  I did use the dough with the olive oil and rosemary already in it (it was the only one ready for my concoction and whims) because I was so utterly desperate and I was a little horrified at how it might turn out, but it was simply wonderful.

I have a friend who has a reputation for the best bread on earth.  I called her today because she has a secret.  (Warning: it's about to NOT be a secret anymore...)  The secret to her wonderful bread is a little contraption she's got in her kitchen.  This little(ish) contraption does a little miracle inside the guts of its dear inventive self.  What is this masterpiece of a machine?  Why, my dearies, it's not a breadmaker, heavens NO!  (Newsflash: real bread makers use OVENS, not plug-in boxes.)  This wonderous, heavenly, darling machine is, bum-ba-da-baaaaaa!!!  A grain mill!

Yes, like back in the day.  She says the smell is like nothing you've ever smelled before.  It's not like the rancid flours we get from our organic supermarkets (or the regular ones, either).  I know.  I'm jealous.  Hangin' out with rancid flour from King Arthur and she's got the goods just fluffily pouring out of her kitchen.  She probably prances around and has confetti-like parties (with hand-ground flour, of course) because she knows she's going to be eating the most fabulous bread in the whole world.  There's probably sunshine pouring in through the windows and everything is slow motion and hey, is she wearing a tiara and a Cinderella dress?  Holy cow!  Probs.  As it lands on her glowing children's eyelashes, they lovingly look up at her, knowing she is providing them with a complete nutritional whole grain and the freshest bread anyone in a ten mile radius has ever had in their life.

Well, or maybe she said it kind of sounds like a vacuum cleaner.  But I think picturing the previous scene is what is happening on a nutritional level.

To tell you the truth, I've wanted a grain mill for like two mazillion years now (or five, whatEVER) and I decided that it would be about time for me to put it on the Christmas list.  So I had to call her for some input on what works, what's awesome, dimensions, speed, etc.  She has the Nutrimill which has a very lovely function (it's electric, by the way) - you can tell it to stop mid-churn.  I guess most of them just go on with their loud singing vacuum selves for twenty minutes and if you even threaten to turn it off, it will choke, die and never turn on again.  And then it will mock you and make faces while you cry little sobs and beg forgiveness.  So, yeah, I don't want that kind.

So I was on this website that sells such lovely creations and then it happened.  Remember the sunshine and confetti party previously mentioned?  Well, let me just say THAT HAPPENED when I saw the most lovely mills that have ever been made in probably all of history and the world.  As you know, I think plastic is the devil.  I saw the embodiment of beauty and proper crafstmanship, streamline and clean design in the body of gorgeous wood and stainless steel.  YES, hello.  True.  Not plastic, not paint.  Just amazingness.

What, pray tell, sayeth you, is the name of such bewonderment?  It's a KoMo mill, designed in Europe, where people run through fields of wheat (at least they do on their youtube video from the manufacturer).  Now THAT'S the kind of thing you want.  People running through wheat.  I do, anyway.

It's a little pricey, but since it has about a 12 year warranty and is expected to last a lifetime, I guess that's the price for true craftsmanship and lovely design using quality materials.  Isn't that how it is with anything?  High fructose corn syrup costs about $0.11/gallon and honey costs about $35.99/gallon.  What would you choose?  (Adam, do NOT answer this question.)

Then, m'dearies, I can fill the house with wonderbread.  Not the Wonderbread that has circles on it and is filled with polysorbate-80, 60, 40 and 14.2.  I mean a bread of wonder, a bread that retains all of what you are supposed to have in actual whole wheat without the rancidy-ness. 

Do you make your own bread?  Have you seen the KoMo?  Were you also struck with love?  Pray tell, how many loaves of bread are you keeping in your house at the moment?  If you say one, you better bake it up, homies!

And now, it seems it's about time to raise a toast.  Out of the toaster.  Cheers!

Peace, love and buttery goodness,
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Healthy Granola - you and your food!

Have you ever made homemade granola bars?  Well if you haven't, YOU SO SHOULD.  But - I've read quite a few recipes and they all contain a poisonous and deadly horror: GMO (genetically modified organism) canola oil, the wolf in sheep's clothing for the health industry.

So is it ironic to anyone else that canola oil is like the cape-wearing savior of our heart-diseased era?  Canola oil is made from - are you even ready for this?  Something called RAPESEED.  I am not kidding.  Yep, they coulda called it rapeseed oil, but instead they made it come down from the glowing heights with an innocuous name like "canola".  Gee, I think it's origin was quite a bit more appropriate.

So this is what bugs me.  Canola oil is pretty much hanging out there with the big three (and I don't mean Chrysler, Ford and GM) of the GMO club: corn, soy and sugarbeets.  It's up there in the dishonorable mention category along with cotton and tomatoes.  

Have you heard/read the studies about GMO stuff?  It is so sick it would blow your mind.  You would wonder how people could get away with such junk.  

I wonder that pretty much every day.

So the studies were done to test what might happen generationally to rats who were fed GMO corn.  (Others have done studies using hamsters and GMO soy with the same results.)  In the third generation of rats consuming GMO corn, the rats were born with hair growing out of their mouth, deformed and shrunken testicles and were found to be 100% completely sterile.  It sounds like this is something out of a fiction sci-fi novel and it's actually out of a scientific journal.  Your grandkids will be living in a world of aliens that sick pervos made that will stem back to this generation.  Well, supposing we didn't blow up the world by then since we're not improving any lately.

Check it out for yourself:

That link shows pictures, if you want to be totally grossed out.

Do you want to know what happened to one of the scientists?  She had her stuff ransacked, burned and then she was fired.  Huh.  Sounds like someone might not like what she found.  Sounds  like that someone clearly would not want YOU finding out more about it.

To that, I say - fight the power, my dearies.  We can make a difference.  Do you know how much consumer power we have in our little pockets?  One of us might not be able to do a lot with what we have, but if all of us step up and say no, we won't buy it, guess what?  The greedy moneybagsters up at the top will see their profits dwindling and have to do something else.  Like perhaps, stop poisoning people.

And not to put too fine a point on it - if you are a parent - I beg and implore you, please, please, PLEASE refuse to feed your children GMO products.  If you want to consume it yourself and be sterile and get funky cancers and crazy crap for yourself, go ahead.  But they don't have a choice.  If your parents sterilized you with weird poison they gave you as a kid, once you became a married adult ready to have a family, you'd be hurt beyond words.  Don't be lazy about it.  They are your responsibility, you are the ones to answer for how you've cared for them.  If it's not on the label and it contains any corn/soy/sugar/canola, look up the company, get some contact information and ask them if they source non-GMO corn/soy/sugar/canola.   This is bigger than bPA, bigger than partially hydrogenated oils, bigger than the whole pile because if you ignore this one - the whole world won't be here in a few generations.  Apocalypse impending.  Hello?

Okay, I gotta climb down off of my soapbox for now and get the granola bars out of the oven.  What do I bake with?  Melted butter or coconut oil.  

It doesn't take a crunchy granola person to want to survive, it just takes someone with half of a sense of self-preservation and using their brain.  Don't cop out on me on this one.  It matters.

Make your granola and be granola!  Or, just preserve your progeny and skip the science experiment (that they're trying out on you).  Either way.

Peace, love and crunch louder!
Ms. Daisy

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hope elsewhere

If you have been awake anytime at all over the last few days, you have likely heard of the very sad events that happened in Connecticut where a crazed (bipolar/autistic) young person murdered teachers and 6 and 7 year-old children.  Disturbing does not even begin to describe the situation.  Then you may have heard the current president speak on the topic of gun control.  He hasn't been specific, but I hope by gun control he means give every public and private school teacher a gun and training so that they may protect the little ones in their care (since they do pretty much everything else for children, anyway).  Basically, it would be like having your teacher be a police officer and a teacher all in one.

Anyway, now that half of you fell out of your chair and onto the ground in utter disbelief, climb back up, grab a pillow and throw that on the floor so you can be ready to fall over again in the rest of the post.

Ready?  Great.

So here's the thing.  People react differently to tragedy, don't they?  Some people are the get-back-up-brush-yourself-off-and-keep-going types, some people are the lay-in-the-mud-for-days types and anywhere in between the spectrum of nonchalant heartless snakes to lay-in-the-mud-for-life types.  I am not suggesting you become either one of the extremes because this is serious stuff, my dearies.  But if you look deep inside, you know (unfortunately) that things like this happen because the world is full of crazy zombies on crack.  Horrible things have happened in our lives before this point, and I'm sad to say that they will happen to us again in the future.

So what's a person to do?  You don't want to lay in the mud for life, but you don't want to block out all feeling (unless you're enjoying your cold heartless snakey life).  

I propose a change in perspective.

When you see this world as temporary and the soul as eternal, you get this idea that this might only be a fraction of your total existence.  That could be really either good for you, or really really horrid.  

Now if you're not really a person who usually entertains such thoughts, just humor me for a moment.  What I'm telling you is actually good news.

No, literally.  I don't know if you've ever heard the word "gospel" but it actually means "good news".  

So the thing is, the good news starts out with some pretty obvious bad news.  Here's the bad news: you're not perfect.  NEWSFLASH!    Are you shocked?  Probs, right?

Hang on, I've got another one - God is perfect.

I know, I'm rockin' your world, eh?

So what does that have to do with us?  Kay, the bad news: if you're not perfect, you can't hang out with God in heaven.  So that kinda is stinko for us.  If that was the end of the story, I don't think it would be called the good news, it would be called the bad news.

But God was thinking about this ahead of time.  He had a plan.  So here's the deal - you can pay for your sin on your own (and the payment is eternal punishment so I'm gonna go with that might not be your number one best option) or you can accept the payment his Son made on your behalf.  Sin is so serious and horrific that before Jesus died as a sacrifice, it had to be covered over with only one thing - blood.  Maybe it sounds gruesome to you, but you aren't the one who gets to make the call for how it gets paid for since you're not, you know, God.

In our natural state, we just totally reject God and his ways.  That's because we want to do it our way.  We figure we are pretty amazing and we can probably climb up onto that throne and do a better job.  That's an old story, my friend.  That's what happened back in the day with Satan.  He's still recruiting and it's easy since it's our natural bent.

God is not going to share his throne.   It's not a free-for-all going on and it sure isn't Burger King (you can't have it your way.  Did you just pout?  Oh man.).

So here's the deal.  You mess up, you break God's law.  God sends Jesus to pay for you. You can say, "Wow, dude.  This is awesome.  Thank you.  I totally didn't desserve this." Did you do anything special?  Um, no.  You just were shown mercy.  You're not special, God is.  

Anyway, I just wanted to shine some light in that direction.  It's almost Christmas - the day Christians celebrate the lowly birth of their Savior - who would live a perfect life on earth and be killed at the hands of evil men that God's wrath might be poured out on his own Son as a sacrifice that can be applied to your account.  How?  Ask him.  Talk to God, ask that he would forgive you for your blatant waywardness that is deserving of eternal punishment.  

Thus, a hope is born.  A hope that this world (in all its craziness) is on its way out but eternity is the light and the direction for those who are filled with an other-worldly hope.  Not because of their own fancy pants or their brains or their choice in organic vegetables.  Nope.  Beause of the good news.

I know this may be a bit jumbled, perhaps, but I felt it was urgent to get it out to you.  After all, if you only can rest in your organic veggies, non-GMO foods (and you know I love that stuff), you've got a piece of a puzzle in your hand and I'd love to show you the beautiful big picture.  Organic and non-GMO foods are the best, but in the end, if you still die without the hope that comes from the life and death of Jesus, you're still dead and you've got a bigger problem than yellow dent #2.

Something to think about, maybe, eh?

Peace, love and I'm telling you because I love you and you ought to know,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quitting Facebook

If you're like every person on earth and half of the people on Mars, it is very likely that you have your own personal facebook account.  I had facebook when it was only open to college people as a way to keep in touch with my excessively much younger sister.  I really don't know how I got into it, but anyway, I snuck in.  I had like 13 friends and they were all my ex-students.  It was interesting.

Then after many years, people my own age started joining and I was so delighted.  Then a couple years later, my parents were sending me friend invitations.  This was strange, especially since my mother can't upload photos to a computer and calls the internet "the blue E thingy".

I was very glad to catch up with friends I haven't seen since high school and college.  I was thankful to be able to peek in on the lives of people who I've known over the course of my life, see their children, and watch how they turned out and what they're into now.

It was a great tool for my current students to ask questions and a fabulous way for me to get the fantastic single females of my life to meet the fantastic single men (of which I know like 4 and 3 are my brothers-in-law).

But then I found myself choosing to use facebook and preferring its convienence over untimely actual human interaction.  I thought that was kind of lame of me, if I actually thought about it.  Not to mention all the things I wasn't getting done because I was busy reading status updates and spying on people.  When I put it that way, it sounded even lamer.  And highly unproductive.  Oh I hate unproductive.

So I took a sabbatical.  I made bread and cleaned my house instead.  I read books.  I studied Finnish and Latin.  And dude, it was a lot better.

But I missed the people I only get to see on facebook.  So I went back.  Some people I only really talk to on facebook, not because I don't love them, but just because time and distance and situations make it so we just don't talk anymore because we don't share a life together in the everyday mix.

I thought about this a lot.  People are important.  Relationships make up the good colorful fabric of life.  So would I be missing out on their important news?  That isn't cool.  After a long time of thinking about it and wanting to be real, productive and responsible, I decided I really ought to jump ship and quit.

But I couldn't do it since I was totally addicted.

So I thought about that too.  I'm seriously addicted to something?  That is sick.  And wrong.  And mental.  And unhealthy.  Something is controlling me instead of me being in control of it.  It's like a hoarder in their filth, they just gotta have it around, even though they know it's healthier without it.  I'm a sicko, just like a hoarder!  AAAAAHHHH!!!

Well, I hung on anyway, trying to find some good reasons to have it but to just keep it to a minimum.

And then it happened.  

My motivation came, full force and shoved me over the edge.  It arrived in the form of "timeline".

Timeline took hours of my life to load.  I do not have cable speed internet.  My internet is half of a step up from dial-up.  Timeline was the nail in the coffin.

I no longer needed to wonder whether or not I should dump it.  It was clear and fabulous and I was free, FREE, FREEEEE!

The hour I was forced into timeline was the hour I quit facebook for good.  That was the summer and I haven't looked back since.  I only have very short twinges of regret when I miss people.  But overall it's much better.  Can you remember life before facebook?  It's kind of nice.  You might like it.

And if you're one of those people, I miss you!  But you should totally quit, too.  We can communicate the old-fashioned way - texting.  Just like back in the day, eh?

Peace, love and footloose and facebook-free!
Ms. Daisy

p.s. Pardon my lack of capitalization of facebook.  I debate whether or not I should capitalize it.  I know it's a proper noun, so tradition tells me I ought to.  But then the logo is lowercase, so are you staying more true to it by keeping it without a cap?  It's a quandry that I don't know yet where I ought to stand.  Please don't think me an ignorant moose, thinking I know nothing about proper nouns and capitalization, it was a purposeful elimination because I erred on the side of keeping it true to its logo.  Ah, eck.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toothpicks, glue and prison reform

Think of the worst thing you could possibly have to do.  Shovel dog doo-doo?  Squirt dog doo-doo with a hose because it is a cowpie?  Do a 1,000 piece puzzle?  No, worse, worse, and worse.

Go deep.  Dig.  I mean something along the lines of waterboarding.  What could be worse than this?

Let me tell you exactly what is worse than this.

Having to make a toothpick bridge with Elmers glue for a child's project.

So apparently I got an email about a month ago informing me that my offspring ought to be just chugging right along on their toothpick bridge project (a what?!), so I said, great.  That sounds horrible.  I'm glad I don't have to do it!

I received a follow-up email that said hopefully the said offspring is near completed with said project (last night - since it's due in 2 days).   Panic begins as I ask offspring what the deal is and how it's coming along.  Panic increases towards hyperventilation as offspring procures a ziplock bag of 2 boxes of 750 flat toothpicks and a bottle of Elmers.  There is nothing done.  There are no plans.  

This is where you make the choice.  The choice to allow your child to fall flat on their face and fail (especially since this offspring couldn't fine motor their way out of a paper bag) or where you veer off into Neverneverland as you hear phrases come out of your mouth that you have a vague recollection of hearing before somewhere in your childhood in the form of something sounding like the voice of your mother/father.  This is where arm-flailing becomes a sport and sighing it's cheerleading companion, where mumbling and raking your hands through your hair is no longer dramatic, but seems the only way you could survive such a horrid ordeal.  This is where you picture the teacher laughing as they assigned this sick torture and your blood begins to surge into your temples because all you want to do is put up your freakin Christmas tree and instead you have to deal with glue and toothpicks.  But you are a teacher, too, and no assignment will ever be willingly overlooked, so it's time to jump in, both feet.

This is the point at which I decide there must be an easier way.  There must be weird sickos out there who like this sort of torture (architects, engineers, etc.), and who are they and how can I bribe them to do this for me?  Let's go easiest first: ebay.  Does anyone have these things for sale?  Crap!  Why not?!!!  

Let me just tell you - if you are one of those weird sickos, PUT THOSE THINGS ON EBAY!!  YOU COULD BE A BAZILLIONAIRE!!!  Just give me a cut for thinking of a business for you, 10% will be just fine, thank you.

Secondly, my next thought brought me to this: I live not very far from a world-class university with a fantastic engineering program, perhaps I could get one of those smart (and yet, crazy) people to do this for me.  They are in college, thus, they are poor!  I could pay them with food, laundry washing and money.  But I don't know any of them.  I did go on their college of engineering website in hopes they might just randomly list some really A+ students who didn't have a life on a Sunday night (unless you count Warcraft as a fun thing to do with your time).  This also fell through.

So, I am not an engineer.  I am more of the Spanish/English teacher type, actually, and that  has pretty much nothing to do with engineering.  I obviously did what I figured was the best plan on bridgemaking: line up a whole bunch of toothpicks in a row and pour 1/3 of the bottle of glue on top of it.  My first plan was to just dump the entire box of 750 in a plastic bin and empty the glue entirely on top of it and use a hairdryer to make it dry quickly, but my hubby said no, I could not do that.  I am pretty sure that is the fastest way to build a bridge, though, and surely that must count for something.

I had a kickin' row going on and my hubby and I were convinced by all these pictures on the internet that we had to make it go "upward" too, not just be a flat bottom thing. So we made triangles (that's what the cool people did) and glued them together and attached them to the bottom bridge thingie with things that look like piles of kindling wood in a huge lump.  I am pretty sure this is the best way to do it.  However, we still felt that this was a little embarassing and disasterous and getting more drastic every second we tried a new idea on it, so I did the only logical thing:

Text my brother and father (both engineers/retired) with this message, "engineering emergency 911 - this is supposed to be a bridge" and a picture of the fantastic thing we made.   

They were not able to help, probably because they were too busy cracking up.

I would like to say to the teacher, "Do you hate me and my life?"  No, no, better: "Why do you hate me and my family?"  

I got to thinking about all of this torture and punishment and thought about how such a hideous idea could be put to good use.  Aha!  Prison reform!  In order to stop the common problem of inmates being released only to be sent back to prison after a very short while, we approach them with this: you come back to jail any time soon, you have to make a freakin toothpick bridge using those and just Elmer's glue and it has to hold your weight or you can't leave.  No TV, no movies, no nothin' - just you and your sticky fingers and the toothpicks that you will soon poke into your eyeballs out of sheer frustration and horror.  No talking, no free time, no internet and no, you can't decorate your Christmas tree until you're finished.  Wanna come back and start your project?  I didn't think so.  Now stop being a criminal, OR ELSE!

Seriously, ya'll should'a voted me for president.  Obviously.

UPDATE!  So I was working on this post last night and today was the bridge competition.  I got to go into the class while the torture, er, I mean, bridge weight testing was going on.  I walked into a classroom filled with things that were stinkin' replicas of DNA spirals and the most complicated and amazingly artistic bridges I've ever seen.  It would have been devastatingly sinful to break these things!  Then, it was our turn.  I kept my eyes low as everyone nearly gasped in horror at the sight of it.  They weighed the bridge first and weighed more than twice as much as the next heaviest bridge.  That might have been because everyone else was using airy, creative and mathematical maneuvers and I was using the technique called stack the toothpicks and pour on 70% of the glue in the entire bottle.  

She put the pencil through with some yarn hanging down and looked at it dubiously.  I cringed.  She hung a water bottle on it.  I thought, "Here we go, kiss it goodbye, child!"  And it stood.  She added another.  And another.  And another.  And another.  The paperclip was breaking from holding the water bottles.  She hung a bag in a container of marbles from it.  She traded out the water bottles and got a gallon jug of water.  It still was fine!  At this point, the hilarity of this entire situation was bathing over me and I would have flown my husband to the location to experience it because it was so insane.  She re-hung the individual water bottles on it and it stood.  There were cheers.    I stared in utter disbelief.  Then she ran out of weights.  Our stupid and hideous monster withstood all of the weights.

She told my offspring that they ought to bring it home.  This horrendous and grotesque creation won an award!  (We disqualified because the offspring forgot to tell us it had to have "legs".)  Yes, the others looked like ballerinas while ours looked like a fat, squatty, obese tank, but it worked.

Poetic justice for the English teacher.  Win.  And yes, the keyboard is still mightier than the toothpick bridge.  Er, sword.  Or that was a pen.  Oh, never mind.

Peace, love and use more glue,
Ms. Daisy