Friday, February 24, 2012

Green beans and almonds. Or, the universe is fair and just

"Demon kitty" - ha ha! The flash made his eyes like lightning! I'm coming home from Dallas with a new baby! This is a stray kitty that I fell in love with... I absolutely love long hair cats, and I have been wanting a new kitty for a while. With some losses in my life lately, this is just what my soul needs - the joy of new precious fun loving life!

So, I've had an incredibly emotionally challenging few days, and Friday I got a massage and the lady was really sweet and gave me a 90-minute massage even though it was only for 60 minutes. Trust me, I really needed it that day! And you know, it brought back this memory I'd forgotten about.

About 15 years ago, when I was living in a small apartment in Pasadena with two little ones (or maybe I just had Savi, and was pregnant), and my marriage was already starting to crumble. I used to always eat these frozen green beans with almonds. I LOVED them and it was about the only vegetable I ate. It was a rectangular package of Birds Eye julienned green beans, and there was a packet inside each package of slivered almonds. The almonds absolutely MADE the green beans. One time I got a package and there was no almond packet! The horror! I was really frustrated because I was really craving them and for whatever reason, I remember that I was really aggravated.

So what do you think happened the next time I went to eat this same type of green beans? This was not another packet I'd bought at the same time, but literally I went back to the grocery store another week or so, and bought more. I opened the package and guess what? TWO packets of almonds!! I kid you not.

The message I got from God loud and clear was that that life was fair and when we lost out on things, we would ultimately receive it back. That message came to mind because the last time I got a massage a few weeks back, the lady gipped me by like 10 minutes. But then Friday, I got an extra 30 minutes! My life has been full of loss and heartbreak lately - much more than I have gotten into on this blog - and I have been having a pretty serious faith crisis. And that just started me feeling better and I've been better since. I went to a mini-women's retreat at my old church, and I started listening to this book-on-CD Making Your Thoughts Work for You, and it's so inspiring. I'm really trying to get out to the Chopra Center to see Byron Katie and attend the Journey into Healing workshop in a couple weeks and I went ahead and bought a plane ticket to LA hoping it will all work out!! I am so stoked about this workshop!! Trust me, emotionally I desperately need it! I will also visit my friend Paige - can't wait!

I'm in Dallas visiting my mom and stepdad having a nice, healing time - making amends for some rifts from the past and treating my mom to a 90-minute massage and dinner at a Greek restaurant. Today we are going to a travel show and doing some shopping. I will probably be coming home with a Macbook Pro laptop (my laptop is on its last leg, and I've been eyeing a Mac for the past 5 years or so - it's time to make the plunge!), and a new kitty, and a new lease on life. Oh and last night I got to visit with my old college BFF Joe, and his best friend Rob, and we used to have soooo much crazy fun that it's not fit to print! ha! We had lots of fun, and it was great to see them again after all these years. It was his daughter who found the stray kitty. I think she may be sad to see it go!

Joe and Rob at Thai Spice, where we went to dinner.More photos to come when I download the pics from my camera.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Mike DeGruy will be missed :(

My heart broke when I read the news a few minutes ago that Filmmaker Mike DeGruy died in a helicopter crash in Australia. I was waiting for my son to come down from his friend's apartment where he had been watching the Superbowl, and I was browsing through the Huffington Post app on my phone, and I saw a story about filmmakers dying in a crash. You never think you will actually know the people...And when I saw his name, my heart skipped a beat and my jaw dropped. Not Mike! Mike is so alive, so vibrant, so funny, so kind. Mike had a head full of silvery grey hair and a smile that lit up a room - or the boat in this case.

I met Mike when Discovery Channel sent me to Australia in 2008 to blog (Expedition Shark) during the filming of their Shark Week documentary, Mysteries of the Shark Coast.

I remember clear as day. Here's this world-famous and Emmy-award-winning filmmaker, and he was so kind, and so interested in my thoughts and views. That first night, we spent a lot of time talking about evolution and Christianity and the book I was working on (in fact, the dialogue is in my first chapter lead!), and I was likewise fascinated by his gnarled up arm. "What happened, shark bite?" I joked - since we were about to spend the next 10 days diving with sharks. "Actually... Yes." he replied. Then he told the tale of how he was attacked by a shark in Enewetak atoll when he was diving, and barely made it to the boat to be rescued. "What kind of shark?" I asked. "You don't want to know," he said. "Gray reef sharks." I didn't "want to know" because they were the very sharks we would be diving with for the next ten days... along with whitetips, silvertips, and the possible tiger and hammerhead (both of which we did see while there).

I kept in touch with Mike now and then because my ex-boyfriend Sean and I had talked about producing a documentary based on a story Sean knew about in the Solomon Islands and Mike was interested in producing it. After Sean and I stopped seeing one another I'd check in with Mike now and then by email to say hi. Our paths never crossed again but I deeply admire him and his work, and especially the sunshine with which he lit up a room and the kindness he showed me. He was one of a kind. I treasure the time I spent on that boat - it was the absolute BEST assignment of my life, hands down. You can read my experiences from the Discovery Channel blog here (Fear) and here (the rest of the Expedition Shark blogs). I also blogged about it on my Bohemian Adventures blog here (shark reflections), here (shark mysteries) and here (i love my job!).

And so life passes... my deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. He left the world a better place for his passion for the sea and the work he left behind. Tell someone you love them. Life is too short to waste. Make it count. As I wrote in the first blog of my series, Fear:

"The reality is, everything in life carries risks. Driving in my car, living in a city, bearing children, flying, crossing the street. One thing I know for certain: I risk that when I am born, I will die. But this I also have found to be true. Life is best lived in service of those who can not speak for or easily help themselves – and that includes marine wildlife."

And one thing we can say for sure, Mike lived his life - his career - in service of marine wildlife and other conservation issues that he and many others felt passionate about saving. And the world is definitely better for it. I leave you with some of my favorite images of Mike.

The guys were playing around with one of the sharks caught for research, which they kept in a kiddie pool! This is Sanjayan, Richard and Mike.
What a fun time - they climbed right in with the shark!
Mike had the greatest smile and laugh!All geared up and ready to dive.
They captured a very small juvenile shark in what they discovered was probably a shark nursery in the lagoon at the center of the atoll (Osprey Reef). This was a night dive.
Mike holding a coconut rattle, used to call in sharks.
Mike and Celine Cousteau on board the Undersea Explorer.
One of the few photos of Mike and I together (on my camera, anyway, since someone else had to shoot this from my camera!) You will be missed!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

This is what love looks like

Wistful Wendee Copyright (c) 2011 Earl Nottingham (he named this image - and how apropos is wistful... "full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy")

There I was updating my blogroll when I stumbled upon a blog post written a year ago by "Maggie Dammit" that made my heart stop... Now Maggie can write. She has a way of writing that just mesmerizes, cuts deep, transfixes, and rends hearts. I also have to admit I am not a big blog reader. Just don't have time. I may stumble on a share-worthy blog post now and then, but there are few blogs I keep up with regularly - hers included. So when I read this post, I just had to share its message because it cut to my core.

First, the blog link: what my heart looks like. The key thing that reached deep into my own heart was not the post title concept - that her heart looked like an aquamarine-colored stuffed seahorse her daughter clung to as she slept, but rather the story she told, which was exactly a description of how one dear friend touched my life recently.

Maggie's older daughter drew a picture, and then got so mad at herself for being such a crappy artist, she crumpled it all up and threw it in the garbage, declaring herself the Suckiest Artist Ever.

But that wasn't the end of the story. Hours later, when they all crawled into bed, there was the original picture, smoothed out, and next to a sign written by her six-year old sister that said: "I found this in the GRBij. I it It was a Mastrpese."

There. Are. No. Words.

Maggie then talked to a friend about why this resonated so deeply with her... and came to this conclusion:

"In my life today I am surrounded by people who will pick up my crumpled pieces, smooth them out with intention, and present them back to me with a gentle kiss on the head. I hope you have these people, too. I hope you are these people for your people, and I pray my daughters remain this way."

All I can say, is wow. In my experience, and I talk deeply with a lot of people, most of us walk around with a "piece of shit" feeling inside of us. Even - sometimes more so - Christians (the guilt associated with wanting to be in a more perfect or more holy or more righteous state, combined with the continued daily failures of sin, lust, selfishness, greed - AND the self-awareness of those things - can be doubly guilt-inducing at times). But to meet people, even a single person, who can lift you out of the 'garbage can' you choose to live in - whether you were thrown there by crappy circumstances in your own life, or whether you choose to wallow there because you don't seem to know another way (like Oscar the grouch), or whether you just climb in now and then, as I do... and they not only lift you out, but they make you feel like you are a masterpiece, worthy of bringing out of the garbage can, uncrumpling, smoothing out, and pointing out their worth... these people are one in a million.

I know all about feeling like garbage. After a teenager raped a drunken 15-year old me as I was passed out in the cab of a truck, another teenager drove me home, called me a slut, and dumped me on my front lawn where I could not even walk, before peeling out of the cul de sac and leaving me there, crumpled on the lawn. Like a piece of trash. And that is pretty much what I felt like for the next 15, 20 years.

Sometimes, the people who lift us out of the garbage come in and out of our lives only for a brief time, they appear like angels from heaven... people who make you feel like you are worth something.... and they leave footprints on our hearts forever. I was made to believe that I am, perhaps, not garbage after all. And I want to build the rest of my life surrounding myself with friends who make me feel like not like I am garbage, but that I am a masterpiece worth redeeming.

Friday, February 03, 2012

My first tofu scramble

Tofu Scramble

I modified the following recipe from Kris Carr's recipe on Mightybell). It was really good!

• 2 T olive oil
• 1 container (organic!) firm tofu crumbled
• 1 leaf Swiss chard, chopped into strips
• ½ cup caramelized or sautéed onions
• ½ cup sun-dried / cured tomatoes diced (Do not forget this! It made the dish)
• ½ cup Mushrooms (I used a combination of Shiitake and Portabella)
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast (this was too much for me - I'd reduce it by about half to 1/8 c)
• 1 T tamari or shoyu (I used tamari)
• ½ tsp coarse sea salt
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Some of the ingredients! I get sun-dried tomatoes at my grocery store super cheap - that bag is about $2.99 I think. Organic tofu is not any more than non-organic. And I had some dried mushrooms that I rehydrate. Save the liquid and use later for recipes! Shiitake mushrooms have weight reducing properties.

Tamari is soy sauce without wheat (hence, gluten free). I've been cooking with shoyu, a high quality soy sauce but am trying to go gluten free again for a while. Nutritional or Brewer's yeast kind of tastes like Parmesan cheese (it's great on popcorn). And turmeric is praised for its health properties!! I get that and the herbes de provence (in the tiny bag) in bulk at my grocery store uber-cheap! I have no info on what olive oil is better... I actually want to do some research into cooking oils... anyone have any insight?

Directions: In a hot sauté pan, add oil. Add chard and crumbled tofu. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Continue to cook for 3‐5 minutes. Right before serving, add a handful of fresh chopped basil (if I had it, I'd have done this - I LOVE fresh basil).
It was actually really good! The sun-dried tomatoes really made the dish. They went perfectly with it. The original recipe had some differences but it was great - the only thing I'd change would be to use a little less nutritional yeast. The final product looks like scrambled eggs, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A plethora of articles! Obesogens, Cousteau & more

Prayer tree at Green Gulch Zen Center Garden Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

‎"It may be that what you could be haunts you. It is real. It is a weight you have to carry around. Each failure to become, to be, is a weight. Each state you could inhabit is a burden as heavy as any physical weight, but more so, because it weighs on your soul. It is the ghost of your possibilities hanging around your neck, an invisible albatross, potentials unknowingly murdered." - Ben Okri

It's a new month, and that means I have some new articles out!

  • First, a Q&A with Alexandra Cousteau for Momentum Magazine's Winter 2012 issue. I asked her several questions around the main theme "What would it take to create sustainable ocean fisheries?"

  • Next, a feature that arose out of a panel at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference! Obesogens: An Environmental Link to Obesity in Environmental Health Perspectives, Feb 2012. Obesogens are chemicals we are exposed to that change our metabolism and are very likely contributing to the obesity epidemic.

  • In this same issue, I wrote a news article about the recent (and long overdue) finding of a court-appointed science panel about the chemical PFOA (in "Teflon" nonstick coating, among other things) which was leaked by the DuPont chemical factory in WV. Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension “Probably Linked” to PFOA Contamination. PFOA is a suspected obesogen, also.

  • And finally, a short piece that is a summary of a peer-reviewed article in this issue of EHP (which is a peer-reviewed science journal). In the Same Boat? Health Risks of Water Recreation Are Not Limited to Full-Contact Activities.

  • And if you haven't read it yet, I'm super proud to say that my article, Did Tap Water Kill Lou Gehrig, is the #1 most read article on the Miller-McCune website still! Check it out if you haven't yet! Ack - Just looked again and it's now #2 - you guys better go make it #1 again! It was #1 yesterday!!

I am about to dig into a new article due mid-February, and catching up on randomness in the interim (doc appointments, car washes, tire rotations, you know the typical boring stuff). Been cooking some - lots of kale chips (I'm still obsessed!) I made a delicious Navy Bean-Barley soup the other day, and these yummy raw cookies and I'll post some pictures and recipes soon. I've been reading a TON of books of parenting, and took an actual Sabbath day this past Sunday where I didn't get online nearly all day until late evening, and I spent the day attending church (finally have been going back to church again), lunch with a friend, then just chillaxing, reading, and doing a meditation and - oh, yea - I took an actual NAP! Good times.