SHE IS OFF HER MEDICATION

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   The question began with a dinner for eleven women. One was struggling with a difficult personal loss, and it was suggested she try an antidepressant. Over the evening’s conversation it was discovered that nine of the eleven had been on antidepressants. This realization continues to nag years later.
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44. Depression affects approximately 17.1 million American adults, or 8 percent of the population. Adults from households with an income of less than $20,000 experienced the highest rate, and no surprise, adults with a household income of $50,000 or more had the lowest rate. The ultra-successful were not included in the studies.
Since the third version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association was published in 1980 psychiatry relied primarily on a list of symptoms for its definition of depressive disorder. A person with five symptoms out of a list that includes depressed mood, loss of interest in usual activities, insomnia, fatigue, lessened appetite, an inability to concentrate, etc. for a period of two weeks is considered to have a depressive disorder. In reality most people will endure a betrayal, lose a job, be passed over for promotion, financial set-backs, or a serious illness. All of these events can cause symptoms that will endure for longer than two-weeks. Is it depression? Does it require medical treatment? The genuine depressive disorder seems diluted by life’s challenges.
Medical treatment is frequently antidepressant drugs. They come with their own list of complications and side-affects that should cause us to stop and ponder. There is an epidemic, but is it really depression or our need to simplify all problems with a pill? The majority of the studies are presented by drug companies and don’t supply any unbiased information. In one non-drug company report it stated B vitamins have been as successful as Valium and presents no side effects.
What in our societies has caused such an extraordinary development? The most obvious I, an untrained know it all, can see is diet and the search and a clamoring for immediacy. The baby boomers are the first generation raised on processed food, which also changes rules. Our modern society is constantly marketed quick fixes and short cuts. Even exercise has been packaged and sold to us as clubs and machines.
In an attempt to be healthier, buying a “fresh” apple is tricky. It may have been picked in Chile 2 weeks ago, gassed, shipped and ripened a container. Most grocery stores are now national chains with few if any local produce sections. Is Organic better? We don’t know all of the loop holes and processing, let alone the date it left the field.
Then we have “Big Pharma” another bad wolf. With massive profits of building long time customers being trumped by cures. They add to the complexity.
Fact, all disease is caused by some malfunction or toxicity of the body. Fact, depression has been a valid mental condition for centuries. Why has it become an epidemic? Do we fear the emotional costs of life? Have we lost all control of our food? There is something missing, and another band-aide won’t fix anything. I apologize for no answers, but it is all too complex for an under educated amateur addicted to the news.

Metaphor

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According to Faulkner, “Writing a first draft is like trying to build a house in a strong wind.” I am deep into a third novel, and I’m swept away. I’m stitching together five hundred word fictions into a complete narrative. I reorganize, write, rewrite, and wrestle Mildred into a story with a plot and a reasonable end. If I cover ten pages, it is a successful day, and I earn the cup of the good, English tea. This character lives with me, a woman older than myself, and she chatters during the day and late at night building her personal fiction.
Each night I beg the cosmos for inspiration, one clear thought. I doze and ponder a million possibilities. In the darkest hours, I awaken to throw my hands into the air speculating on what could be next scratching illegible notes on scraps of paper. What can she do to make the tale worth reading? A strangling fear arises, the story is improbable, and I’m stupid. Have I blundered in the wrong direction, wasting months and maybe years?
I work diligently, but in the past two weeks, the sun creeps into morning muttering a nagging list of three. I ignore the ideas, but they will neither fade nor quiet. I need an angle, a word, a twist of brilliance. I probe for anything to remove the clatter and release me to my manuscript.
Tonight, I must read for the writer’s group, and a vision dogs me. The unmeasurable stretch of plains with bison herds so large they disappear into the horizon. The massive heads are grazing and raggedy hides soaking up the sun, preparing for winter. The heavy hooves trample with no need for socks, no use for sandals, feet perfected by the environment. I see them plod on, rarely breaking into a stampede.
I present you with the apparition, and I feel released. I waste two more hours trying to understand trying to make the vision fit my story, and I realize it never will, and I plod on.

OF COURSE-RUM PUNCH

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OF COURSE  RUM PUNCH

 Yield: 18 Servings OR 2 if you are a true pirate spirit.

 1    cup  Lime or lemon juice (Sour)

2    cup  Grenadine Syrup (Sweet)

2    cup  Jamaican white rum (Strong)

1    cup  Light rum (Strong)

2    cup  Pineapple juice (Weak)

2    cup  Orange juice (Weak)

1/2  tsp  Grated nutmeg

 

The formula: 1 portion of sour, 2 portions of sweet, 3 portions of strong, 4 portions of weak.

Mix together ingredients at least 1 hour before serving.

This punch looks beautiful served in a punch bowl with a pretty ice ring layered with orange slices & cherry halves.  Not as lovely if served in an old bucket, but still flavorful.

Nice offering for invading forces.

 

Arrrrgh Jamaican Banana Bread

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BANANA BREAD – (Jamaican)

 

1 lb  butter (2 cups)

1 cup of sugar

1/2  tsp  baking soda

2 tsp  baking powder

4 ripe bananas

3  eggs

Preheat oven to 350º

Cream together bananas, sugar and butter.
Mix in the eggs.

Sift together the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda. and baking powder. Blend into mixture.

**You could add chopped nuts or chocolate chips if you like. Be creative kitchen pirates don’t let scurvy recipes stand in their way.

Pour into greased loaf tin and bake for approximately 1 ½  hours.

Serve hot or cold.  Yeah, like you would let this get cold.  It is best to make two loaves.  One to check for delicious and one for everyone else.

Jamaican Yam Casserole

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JAMAICAN YAM CASSEROLE

 2  Large Yams, sliced

1  med  Banana — thickly sliced

1/4   cup  Orange juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 Cup Pecans — coarsely chopped

1/8 Cup toasted flake coconut

Heat the oven to 350 F.

In a buttered a casserole baking dish, arrange yams, banana. Pour juice over all. Sprinkle with salt, pepper. Top with pecans and coconut. Bake, covered, 30 minutes.

 

GRILLED SEA BASS AND SCURVY FIGHTER

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Grilled with orange

JAMAICAN ORANGE SEA BASS

2  Tablespoons Allspice berries (or ground Allspice, just not as tasty)

2  jalapeno or serrano peppers cored, seeded and minced (more or less to taste)

3  garlic cloves minced or pressed

3 green onions minced

1/4  cup  freshly-squeezed orange juice (fights scurvy)

1 Tablespoon grated orange zest

1 Tablespoon  vegetable oil

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 to 2  lb  sea bass fillets  (Snapper, Rockfish or Halibut substitute nicely)

2 navel oranges cut in 1″ slices

 

Finely crush the allspice berries with a mortar and pestle, or grind them in a spice grinder.

In a small bowl, combine the allspice with the peppers, garlic, onions, orange juice, orange zest, oil, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

Preheat the grill. Put fish fillets in a shallow dish and lightly spoon the marinade mixture over them. Turn the fillets so they are evenly coated with the marinade and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Put the fish fillets on the hot grill, with the orange slices alongside. Cook until the fish 3 to 4 minutes per side. Turn the orange slices occasionally, so they brown evenly.

Serve the grilled fish with grilled orange slices.

This recipe yields 4 servings.

THOSE PIRATES AREN’T LADIES

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Anne Bonney and Mary Read

March 8,1702-1782 (?) –  1685 -1721

Anne Bonney and Mary Read are the most famous women pirates in history.  They were the only ones known to have sailed in the new world.

Anne Bonney, born March 8th, 1702 (there wasn’t an International Women’s Day then) in County Cork, Ireland, the daughter of lawyer William Cormac and his wife’s housemaid. The happy couple relocated to a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, to escape the shame of their daughter, and the wrath of Mrs. Cormac.

Anne grew up as a headstrong girl, with a known ferocious temper. She eloped with a sailor/pirate James Bonney when both were quite young. There is some question that her father drove them away, and that is not in the Ford Bronco sense. Bonney took his new bride to honeymoon in the Bahamas, not the resort area we know now, but a known haven for pirates.  James picked up a temp job as an informant, and Anne, disgusted with his cowardice, proceeded to fall for Captain Jack Rackham a.k.a. Calico Jack.  Disguising herself as a male, she sailed with Calico Jack on his sloop the Vanity, She is now sailing under the famous skull-and-crossed-daggers flag.  Anne is believed to have become pregnant by Jack and returned to shore only long enough to have her baby and leave it with friends in Cuba before rejoining him on the high seas.

Mary Read was born at Plymouth, England, about 1685. Her mother’s husband was a seafaring man who went to sea and never returned.  He had left his wife pregnant and she gave birth to a son who soon died. Not long after his illegitimate half sister was born, Mary.  Mom kind of waited for her husband to return for years, and was forced to go to her mother in law for help.  She knew that the old woman was partial to boys and disliked girls.  This is the beginning of Mary’s cross dressing habit.  It worked, with the old lady enough to support them, and it worked with scores of others even after granny died. When Mary was a teenager, she hired out as a footboy, and she was growing more and more bold, looking for a bigger adventure.  She signed onto a man-of-war ship and the military moving her male persona into a career of distinction.  You know how intriguing a man in uniform can be, especially to a cross dressing young woman, and she revealed her sex to a fellow sailor/soldier.  Since he did not appear to have a problem with her fashion sense, they married.  The happy couple became innkeepers, owning the Three Horseshoes near the castle of Breda in Holland.

Mr. died and money became scarce so Mary donned her work clothes.  She knew that job opportunities in the 1700 were much easier for a man, and Mary returned to the sea on a Merchant ship.  Sailing off to the Caribbean her ship was commandeered by English pirates, bad for some and a promotion for Mary. Later her ship was taken by Calico Jack and his pirates; she quickly submitted her resume. Anne Bonney was already part of the crew, and they quickly discovered each other’s secret (probably at the Tampax machine in the women’s bathroom).  They had much in common and they became close friends possibly very very close friends.  Anne and Mary may have been lovers who could have included Calico Jack, which is its own pot of stew.

Anne and Mary were both known for their violent tempers, savage fighting and often called “fierce hell cats.” The crew members knew that in times of action — no one else was more ruthless and bloodthirsty than these two. Calico Jack was one heck of a pirate, but he is remembered more for his involvement with the women.  Unfortunately Calico Jack did not take well to Anne’s flirtatious nature and his authority waned. He sought comfort in rum while, Anne and Mary assumed the real leadership of the ship no longer did they hide their true gender.

In October 1720, they were anchored off Point Negril, Jamaica, for a hard drinking celebration of recent victories. A British sloop surprised them, sending the drunken men scampering below deck to hide.  Anne and Mary were left to defend the ship, and yelled at their mates to “come up, you cowards, and fight like men,” They angrily raged against the crew, killing one and wounding several others. It made little difference the two women were left to fight the Brits alone.  The British Navy was victorious and every survivor was taken to Jamaica.  Jack and the male crew were tried, and sentenced to hang. Anne was allowed to visit him before his execution, and not one for sentimentality her words live in history as “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.” Anne and Mary were tried one week after Calico’s execution and found guilty. At the sentencing the judge allowed them to speak, and they both replied, “Mi’lord, we plead our bellies.” Both were pregnant, and since British law forbade killing an unborn child, their sentences were stayed – temporarily. Mary is said to have died of a violent fever in the Spanish Town prison in 1721, before the birth of her child, (or during the birth per the History Channel). Another theory suggests she feigned death and sneaked out of the prison under a shroud. There is no record of Anne’s execution. Some say that her father bought her release and she settled down to a quiet family life on a small Caribbean island. There is another belief that she lived out her life in England, owning a tavern telling long tales of the sea and adventure.  Choice number three say that Anne and Mary moved to Louisiana where they raised their children together and were non traditional to the end.

Mango Cream Cake -Easy

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CREAM CAKE

2 C butter softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2-3/4 cup powdered milk

1 (170 g) container cream

3 big ripe mangoes

2 chopped and 1 sliced, to garnish the top of the cake

24 lady fingers (not the ones from live ladies especially not First Ladies)

Assorted fruit for topping.
Blend the first 5 ingredients (except for the mango slices) to make mango cream mixture.

Lay lady fingers on a 9×9 inch dish or pan.

Top with mango cream mixture. Place a second layers of ladyfingers.  Repeat process, until you are out of stuff.

Top with mango slices and any other fruit you chose.  Cherries and strawberries add nice color.

Refrigerate for 5-6 hours or overnight to set.

PANCIT CANTON – Stir Fried Noodles

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Pancit Canton

Philippine Stir Fried Noodles

1 pack of oriental egg noodles (you can substitute if you must
2 lbs of chicken breast cut into strip
1 lb of shrimps, shelled, deveined
1 Package of firm tofu (or a little more chicken and shrimp if you insist) cubed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium-sized yellow onion
1 medium sized green bell pepper
1 Cup of snow peas
2 stalks celery 1 inch strips
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium-sized carrots cut into 1 inch strip
1 small-sized cabbage cut lengthwise intro strip
1 bunch of parsley diced
1/2 cup of soy sauce
3 stalks of green onion minced
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Cut chicken breast into strips. In a medium-sized wok or pan, sauté chicken and when nearly done add shrimp in garlic, onion, carrots, cabbage, and parsley stalk strips in vegetable oil, in medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add the flat egg noodles and stir. Add about 2 cups of chicken stock and add soy sauce. Cover wok or pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir. Add tofu and more chicken stock until the noodles are cooked.

Add green onions, snap peas, and bell pepper, and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and ground pepper to taste, serve immediately.