cooking healthy vegetable dishes
leek and lettuce on a chopping board

leek and lettuce on a chopping board
leek and lettuce on a chopping board


(a collection of related writings) / (una colección de pensamientos)

Antony

Acabo de recibir una llamada de auxilio. Antony tiene cinco años y pesa 120 libras. La familia está contemplando poner un candado en la nevera. Mientras los espero en la clínica. pienso en tantos niños de hoy que están en el mismo bote.


Oigo a alguien subir las escaleras y me asomo. Un tonino de muchachito con sonrisa jadeante llega con dificultad al último peldaño. Lo saludo y al darle la mano deja la mía pegajosa. Trae tremenda bandeja de pan dulce chorreando almíbar.


A su tierna edad Antony ya muestra enfermedad y otros síntomas de toxicidad: su mamá luce impotente según me cuenta de visitas al hospital, de su hígado graso, su páncreas inflamado, sus pulmones oprimidos, su cerebro falto de nutrientes. Le pido a Antony que suelte prenda y ante sus ojos abiertos como platos lanzo su tesoro a la basura. Antony había recogido la bandeja de pan dulce en la salita de espera de la clínica...


Hasta hoy Antony solo ha recibido tratamiento de emergencia para sus síntomas. Listo para sufrir el próximo ataque en otro órgano.


Me vienen a la mente las minas de carbón; túneles donde se acumulan gases venenosos inodoros capaces de matar sin aviso. Tiempo atrás los mineros solían llevarse un canario enjaulado. Sacrificando su vida el pajarito anunciaba a los trabajadores que debían salir del túnel o perecer también.


Hoy la visita es sólo para conocernos. Me siento ante su mamá, su hermanita, y él. Papá está trabajando. ¿Cómo comenzar? Si su mamá está de acuerdo yo le voy a proponer un plan íntimo y revolucionario: puedo visitar su hogar, ir con ellos al mercado, y preparar algunas comidas con toda la familia.


Tuerzo mi pescuezo para verlo escondido detras de su mamá. Este canario enjaulado no podría levantar vuelo ni aunque quisiera. Mi plan no es crear una "dieta" para Antony, sino ayudarlos a adoptar una actitud saludable hacia la alimentación que beneficie a la familia entera. En voz alta digo: si en la nevera y en la cocina solo hay comidas nutritivas ¡no hay necesidad de candado!


Hacemos planes para la semana próxima.. pero me da la impresión de que no nos veremos más.

10/09

Fellow Caterpillars

We transition more or less willingly, when the transition seems to offer something positive; like when we go away to study, or when we get married, or when we start a new job. Even if the outcome ends in disappointment we are encouraged, supported to conform, to be in synchrony, within the norm.


Later in life the invitations to cocoon seem darker. Entering the silk crib means losing I don’t know what, before gaining I don’t know what. Blind to what lies ahead. I know the time to cocoon is near when I enter a fog, feel lost, disoriented. 


Do I need to accept this invitation to hang motionless and wait?? What if I won’t recognize myself transformed?  Will others know me still? 


  


Trying to rush this caterpillar is like pushing the river. Patience for enduring this confused state does not come easy. In fact we are well studied in how to snap out of it and stay the course, so I thrash even as I spin my web...


9/09

Abundance

Lucky to survive excess entitlement we enter a life with limits. 


I never lived without limits, but sometimes I lived as if I had no limits and that is a high perch from where to fall... 


How do I retreat from a known perky wont to a feared fresh want? Do I in anger claim like Lucy of Peanuts - “Someone better be responsible for this!!”  or do I stand tall and firmly on the ground?


Cuba’s only significant source of support dried up during the early nineties the USSR collapsed. Under the US embargo Cuba struggled to find its power and its resources. She found them within.   


When Jason our son was little we humored that “no deprivation is the worst deprivation”.


What makes me pick up my shovel and dig for the treasure buried in our own backyard?


8/09

We All Compost

I woke up too late to go to yoga, so I take a leisure walk around my house. The glow of the early morning light filters through the leaves of the plants in my dining room giving a tinge of yellow to everything it touches. Out on the deck the air is the temperature of my skin. Every breath carries moisture and dust effortlessly in and out in a simple exchange.


I stick my head in the worm bin and hear the munching of creatures busy turning food scraps into soil. The smell of damp forest comes up my nose.


It has been easy for me to be this summer. I noticed how within a month the meadow grew green; milk weed grew as tall as I; garden kale burst into dark green plumes; avocado skins, strawberry crowns, broccoli stalks all turned to black gold in the outside compost bin.


The loud chichch of the cicadas, characteristic amplified sound from nature, competes with the ringing in my ears and the distant hum of traffic. 


8/08


Food Shortage

After an overcast day the evening quietly slipped in. I see the yellow lights of people coming home.  A warm glow from my fireplace is giving off a faint smell of ash. The vegetable garden will have to endure a chill again tonight.


I settle to write. After a flurry of political activity our Pennsylvania primaries are over. Now the headlines announce that we have a food crisis. I try not to clutter my mind with sensational news but too many people I know and who  listen to National Public Radio quote the latest author or drop one-liners from their interviews. 


Tonight I venture deeper into my own thoughts and wonder. What is the big picture? Who is eating the world's food?Whose food is in short supply? What role, if any, do I play in this drama? 


I sense the sum total of matter used and matter conserved will not offer us a new vision. What then?


I think of our country's taste for food. It is not exquisite, but it is expensive. It uses up an extraordinary amount of energy and water leaving tons of pollution in its wake.   


Could we be contributing to the problem of world hunger? And we, what do we hunger for? 


I find it chilling that our food economy is based on the raising and killing of billions of animals each year, a notion that we may find distasteful if only we allowed ourselves to dwell on it. But we know how to sabotage our heart's own admonitions; by calling them sappy, on the fringes, weak, unreasonable, or fanatical.


Our hope then is in our bones. We know that we are a part of this whole. We also know that to love and to protect our planet is to protect and love ourselves. We already suspect that. Having said that, we call the problem "food shortage" and go on hacking at the branches of our Medusa. 


There is no telling what we might discover if instead we sat quietly.  Listening to our heart beat.  Waiting.  Breathing.  Being...


When I return to this page it is morning. The juice of an apple is in my mouth.  A robin weaves another beak full of soft dry grass into her nest. Cool clouds paint shadows on the ground. Sunlight picks up here and there. 


5/4/08

Spring

It has been raining for two days. The morning is well under way. All is green and wet  I look out my side window at tree leaves new and shiny. I watch my little garden grow. This year it is surrounded by a wire fence. Nearby are the compost pile and bin. Robins and wrens fly in for worms and grubs. A squirrel hops across a short row and comes out the other side of the fence. Bunnies have kept out. A hefty groundhog bounces out of sight toward deer that rest in the background with eyes half closed.


For a good many years now, all I did was scratch the dry soil, scatter a few seeds of edible greens, and leave them at the mercy of the elements, all the elements. I watered or not. I expected and not. I mostly forgot. It did not help that I saw deer and rabbits nipping sprouting efforts in the bud. 


I left the plants unprotected. Yet I felt disappointed! I whined, whimpered, and desisted.


This year I have no expectations. Mostly I have a need to stay. So I made soil humps separated by valleys which is where I walk. Around the seedlings I spread rich black humus. A lush green carpet with yellow flowers that open every morning extends beyond the enclosure. A crude swinging gate lets me in and out.


Ten kale seedlings were indoor for a couple of weeks. Now they are growing strong and establishing roots in the soil. They are in the back row and the first ones I notice as I approach the garden. A few tall sturdy basil plants came from Yang's market. I have taken care to protect the "one" tomato plant against the cool night air. 


A week ago I let plump cilantro seeds disappear in a straight line. I pushed blond cherry tomato seeds into a shallow furrow. Invisible as they are at this stage, it is hard to for me to care for them. Small weeds are constantly peeking above ground. 


Which are which? So, I look around. Two sharp narrow blades like a V are everywhere; OK weeds. Stout fleshy leaves lined with short needles everywhere; OK pull. Outside the sown line, OK snip. Two small oval leaves on a spindly white stem, not so easy. All I know is this time I'm staying and that in time I will know which  are which ones.


4/29/08


Resistance

It is four in the morning. I awake to the thought of next week's lecture. Save for a few lights in the neighborhood I mainly see the ones reflected from inside my living room.  A couple of ants walk across the floor. I brew myself a cup of coffee and write.


The topic for the lecture is - Insulin Resistance.  When the insulin has a difficult time carrying sugar into the cells where the sugar is processed, we say there is insulin resistance and we diagnose diabetes. Our world of pharmaceuticals  offers many drugs to lower high blood sugar. But stop the pills and the sugar comes right back up.


I lift my eyes.  We have sidestepped the fact that our current lifestyle has given rise to our diabetes epidemic. 


We teach patients: how to adhere to a regimen of counting and measuring; how to match food to insulin; how to follow detailed rules; how to walk a tightrope between fear and guilt. We suggest they rearrange their lives around a disease. Unable to do this, many patients experience frustration and defeat while the disease continues to progress. We may think of them as an undisciplined lot and lose them as allies. Our approach cuts the patient off from her own power. 


I come back to the significant problem in diabetes: Why is the insulin having a difficult time entering the cells?


           


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy has shown fascinating evidence, in the presence of dietary fat there is malfunction of the insulin receptors which can be dramatically reversed with foods low in fat. 


Day is breaking. I return to the theme of insulin resistance this time from the other side of the window. I stand with the patient and together we begin removing the obstacles to healing.


4/20/08

The view  from my studio window

Light enters my study. A  puff of creamy early morning sky. I've been up for a few minutes and tiny bubbles explode in my head. Through the glass I see them more clearly. They stand in the fading darkness outside my window, looking into my eyes, and this I see...


I see the stress bred within this culture. We build it into the job almost as a requirement. Stress for the  manager, the worker, the artist, the laborer, the student. Along with our goods we export stress. Stress is a USA gross national product. 


I have read population studies which suggest that: the more power we have over events in our life, the healthier we are in body and mind. My eyes squint to see. I sip my coffee and write.


Stress is not just at the job. Stress follows too many of our people like an unshakable shadow pinned at their heels. Yes, the landscaper and the CEO both feel pressure on the job, but the origins of that stress set them far apart, for example unpaid bills, absent nourishing food, lack of leisure time, and untold discrimination.


Wealth whispers: what lies within my reach? where can we send our kids to school? could we shop at a really fresh produce stand? how much do I travel to and from work every day? is it safe to walk my neighborhood? what is a vacation? what chances do I have to live the life I want to live? I look at the words on the paper: wealth and health.


Epidemics of obesity and hunger, poverty and diabetes; abundance and heart disease. Perhaps a state which imposes relentless stress on its citizens is as vulnerable as the individual.


Stress is inherent to every living creature. Our ability to respond to acute stress is a life saver. But living in a constant state of alarm destroys us. Chronic worry over shelter, food, job, and health elevates cortisol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, depresses the immune system, and erodes self-esteem. Our country’s economic policy is also our health policy.


I take courage and look into the window of my soul. There my own prince and pauper are daring me to imagine and create.


What a curious thing...  Looking out is looking in. This is the view from my window this morning.


4/4/08


VIEW FROM MY WINDOW / DESDE MI VENTANA