Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On the River and for Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Common Person Blog

From the 1 Mississippi Newsletter:

Protecting Traditions By Making New Ones

July 21, 2015

Hello River Citizens, 
On hot summer July days, many of us turn to our local creeks, rivers and lakes to cool down and have some fun. Going swimming is as much of an American summer tradition as apple pie and Independence Day fireworks.
Unfortunately, too often these days we see lakes and beaches closed due to algae blooms which make it unsafe to swim. These algae blooms are triggered by extra fertilizer running off cropland. The Mississippi River acts as a highway for these excess nutrients, transporting them to the Gulf of Mexico and creating a dead zone where little life can survive. Tradition demands we protect clean water for future generations to enjoy as well, so this means we have to clean up our act.
So what changes have we made to improve and protect clean water?
Individually, last year 80% of River Citizens reported supporting local farmers who integrate responsible farming techniques like preventing erosion and reducing or eliminating fertilizer from running off their land into local waterways. More than half of River Citizens also reported reducing their use of fertilizer, planting rain gardens to help filter pollutants and voting for leaders who support River friendly programs. (Share your actions in this year’s River Citizen survey, and be entered to win an autographed award winning Roadtrip with a Raindrop book about the Mississippi River by fellow River Citizen Gayle Harper.)
We are doing a great job at taking action in our daily lives, and collectively we are also influencing national policy. 

Farmers Making A Difference

This month we learned the forecast for the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is still nearly 2,000 miles larger than our national goal. It will take time, but gradually thoughtful practical programs like the one’s mentioned above will decrease the size of the dead zone and make our neighborhood lakes and creeks swimmable again. This progress shows there can be new traditions established to improve water quality.
They are important steps forward, but the issue is far from being resolved; so we will continue to alert you when there is an opportunity to support policies that improve the River’s water quality.
For now, let’s celebrate laying the groundwork for decreased nutrient pollution by hearing about the progress being made in farm practices from farmers themselves. Watch these excellent videos created by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about the progress of Mississippi River-area farmers:Farming the Upstream” and “Protecting the Gulf.”  
In time, our Big River will no longer be the highway to the dead zone. 

Annette Anderson
1 Mississippi
Campaign Manager

In other news: we are happy to announce Maria Lee has joined 1 Mississippi as the Outreach Assistant based in the Twin Cities. Read more about Maria and her connection to the River on our Team Page.
 Feel free to email her or your local Assistant with questions or to volunteer!

Trivia Question:
River Citizens are taking responsibility for their corner of the world by changing their lawn care habits or adding new ones. Besides planting rain gardens, what are other ways we can help reduce flooding and improve water quality?
a. Utilize permeable pavement
b. Dig ditches called swales to move and store water
c. Plant trees
d. Plant native plants
e. All of the above
Find out the answer in this month’s featured blog, “7 Ways to Reduce Your Land’s Impact On Flooding

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Doll Bytes and also for Dr. E's Greening Tips

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Doll Bytes and also for Dr. E's Greening Tips: Still dealing with malware, but people seem to be able to read the blog on Greening Tips, really the sister blog to this one. UFDC and NIA...

I remember the 80s this week, and I remember when life was good, and full of promise and hope.  Here's to those born then; may they be fulfilled.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Advice to a Friend on Books about Writing

OMG, the pressure!!  Well, for now, Stephen King has some essays in a collection on writing and teaching writing.  He and Anne Rice have some YouTube videos where they address writers. If I find the exact links again, I'll email them, but you can search for these on Google or YouTube, and for King's book on Amazon.

Elizabeth George, great mystery writer, has a book on writing.  I'm bad at remembering titles, but good at content.  Look her up on Amazon or on her page.

I just gave my class this advice; read in the areas where you want to write.  Mystery writers read mystery writers, poets read poets, etc.

Essays on books and writing by Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf are great, and I think Shakespeare for plot, structure and dialog.  Take a favorite Shakespeare scene and rewrite it in your favorite genre or discourse.  That's my brainstorm for the day!

Blue Mind

See below from Aetna:

Most people agree that the sight and sound of water can be soothing. But why? In his best-selling book, the Blue Mind, marine biologist and conservationist, William J. Nichols, claims that being near water increases levels of feel-good hormones. And it reduces stress hormones.

Nichols describes a "Blue Mind" as "a mildly meditative state, characterized by calm... and a sense of satisfaction with life in the moment." Experts call this mindfulness. And being mindful may help lower stress and improve mental clarity.

But don't rush out and buy a beach house yet. "I'm not sure there's enough scientific evidence to prove Nichols' claims," said Aetna Senior Medical Director Terry Golash, MD. "We intuitively think it's a good thing, as long as it's safe to be near the water."

And there may be other ways besides a day at the beach to reach this state.

Take a vacation
Golash stressed the importance of vacations. "The most common response to stress is moving away from it," he advised. "If I go on vacation, it's to have time for myself and my family. Don't bring stress with you." We have more tips on how mindfulness can reduce stress and promote wellness. Or to explore the Blue Mind, here's a story from the CBS Morning Show.
   imgBe sun savvy to make the most of summer

AetnaWe've waited patiently for long summer days. The warmth of the sun lifts our spirits, melts away tension and makes us feel good. Enjoy it. And treat it with respect, every day and everywhere.

The sun is the source of life. But it can also hurt our skin, the very organ that literally keeps us in one piece. Skin cancer is diagnosed in more than 2 million Americans each year.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun (and tanning beds) are the main cause of skin cancer. UVB rays are the primary culprit for sunburns. And UVA rays can age skin.

Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer. But it's also the most deadly. Intense, occasional sunburns are the usual cause, especially in those with sensitive skin.

Simple tips to prevent skin cancer

Wear proper clothing
Wear clothing to guard against the sun's rays. And don't forget your sunglasses. UV rays hurt the eyes and may cause cataracts.

Use broad-spectrum sun protection
Apply SPF 30 or higher every two hours. This is really important if you're swimming or perspiring. Keep in mind that sunscreens aren't waterproof. They can't hold up to a game of volleyball or a jog on the beach. They'll rub off with wiping or toweling.

Spend some time getting to know your skin

See a doctor if you find moles that have changed shape or color.
Take our quiz on sun safety and test your knowledge. Have a safe and happy summer.
   img Fun in the sun takes a little planning and common sense

AetnaFor many, summer spells carefree days at the beach, pool or lake – or just hanging out with friends. And that can be great for mind, body and soul. It can also pose risks, especially for children. But with a little planning and some common sense, you can still have fun in the sun.

Swim safely
Go ahead, take the plunge. But remember some basic safety tips:
  • Learn how to swim and know your limits.
  • Swim with a buddy or two. There's safety in numbers.
  • Swim only in supervised areas.
  • Never let young ones out of sight around water.
Wear protective gear
Always remember to wear proper gear such as helmets, life jackets and knee and wrist pads. They help if you're bicycling, boating or skating.

Don't let insects bug you
Tick and mosquito bites can cause diseases. To prevent them, be sure to use effective repellent. Wear light-colored clothing to help spot ticks. And always check for ticks after spending time outdoors.

For more on summer safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics websites. The CDC also has a special website, Play it Safe. It talks about how to play safely at a variety of activities.

   img Make summer a little sweeter with healthy fruit smoothies

Aetna Kids, both young and old, will enjoy these refreshing fruit smoothies on warm summer days.

Strawberry Banana Cooler
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes about 4 servings.

2 cups unsweetened orange juice
1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries
1 banana, sliced
4 ice cubes

Orange Banana Crush
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes about 3 servings.

1 orange, peeled, cut into chunks
1 medium banana, peeled, cut into chunks
1 can (6 ounces) unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup crushed ice
1 tablespoon honey

Pineapple Fizz
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
2 large scoops pineapple sherbet
1/2 cup sparkling water

These recipes come courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, BAM! Body and Mind. Visit the site for more cool summer treats, including snacks, salads and desserts.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

For Memoir and my blog Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Common Person

My Blog, Dr. E's Greening Tips is still taken over by malware, though I am closer to contacting the site that's taken it over.  I want them to remove their malware.  I'm not interested in monitizing, and I've tried to reach Google and Blogger.  Help!!

Meanwhile life goes slowly on.  We lost my aunt in Europe suddenly, and have gone through a very sad week.  My Dad takes it the hardest, of course.  But, I will miss her.  Outside of my grandparents, and one cousin of my dad's who was a well known lawyer, and a poet, she was the only one nice to me on that side of the family.  To say the least, she had mellowed.  She used to send packages of cookies and candies, small gifts, cards on holidays and birthdays.  She sent one to me not two weeks ago.  I looked forward to these secretly, since I am past the age where anyone gives me presents, or even remembers my birthdays. I got a kick out of the European tupperware she used, too.

She was nicknamed Bebe, also the name of a certain kind of French antique doll that represents a little girl.  She sewed and designed clothing under her own label, and she loved Coco Chanel. I wrote to her in Greek, and she answered in English.  She put in touch with a renowned professor of philosophy because she felt we had things in common, and she wanted to come here to see us, like her father before her.

Because of her, I, the oldest grandchild, have my grandmother's wedding ring, which I wear with my own. She was fashionable and beautiful, and loved to go out. Recently, she took up antiquing, and would send me a bibelot or engraving.

She was never sick, and joked she would live to be 100.  A few years ago, her high school boyfriend looked her up, and asked my Dad's permission for her hand in marriage.  She never wanted to marry, and enjoyed her success and her business on her own terms.

Yet another person gone.  She had gotten to be good friends with my mother, and called her nearly every day, just to talk to her, when mom was very sick.  Usually, my dad's family only calls for him; my mother and I were excess baggage. He told me Bebe died.  None of them has even tried to call or email me; they only talk to Dad to upset him.  Let's hear it for relatives.

So, the other day, in her memory, I took a piece of the baklava she sent us for lunch.  I made meatballs by hand the way my mother and she made them, along with the stuffed peppers my mom liked.  I took some to my inlaws because it was also my Father in Law's 85th birthday.  He works full time, bicycles, plays tennis, and wants to renew his pilot's license.

My husband is also recovering from a staff infection in his knee, and a lot of other nasty little things are happening. Below is my mother's and aunt's meatball recipe. Make them for some one you loved.

Meat balls a la Europa

1 lb ground turkey or other ground meat

about 1/2 c bread crumbs, I use Italian flavored

1 egg, beaten

1 finely chopped onion

Italian seasoning, oregan, basil, fresh if you can get it

Mint leaves, fresh, if you have them, just a handful

Salt and pepper to taste, or substitute garlic salt or Fresh Garlic

Mix all ingredients till well blended. Drop by round teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, and bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15-20 mins.  Serve over pasta of your choice, or rice.  You can make a tomato bisque sauce to go with them.  Or, serve with spaghetti and meatballs.

They can also be fried in vegetable oil or olive oil.  In that case, lightly coat with egg and dip into flour.  Rice flower, or flower with cornstarch mixed in works best, but coat lightly.

For curried meatballs, add about one TLBSP curry and a little sesame oil and sesame seeds, toasted. They are good served with rice or rice noodles with oyster sauce, or Mongolian barbecue sauce.  I used Campbells Mongolian Barbecue Sauce for Slow Cooking, but I just stirfried it with meatballs and noodles.

For Swedish meatballs, serve with a dill sauce, brown sauce, or other favorite gravy.  Use them in a Beef Stroganoff recipe, too.

My mom served them as mezadakia, or appetizers, with feta, Calamata olives, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and other cheeses.

One of my little girl friends loved to come to my house to eat these, and my mom made them for her sometimes, just as a a snack.

Stuffed Peppers and Vegetables

1-2 lbs ground meat, I like Turkey or a mix
1 small can tomato sauce
3/4 c bread crumbs
2 eggs, or enough to bind the mixture
1 chopped onions, or 1 c chopped shallots or green onions
I Tblsp of wine, optional
1/c cooked white rice, optional
Oregano, Basil, Italian Spices, fresh if available, to taste
1c grated Parmesan, Romano, or other hard cheese, like Mdzithra or Ricotta Salata.
6 red, yellow, green peppers, a fresh tomato, zuchinni

Wash, halve, and seed the vegetables.  Halve peppers and tomatoes by cutting off the tops and saving them.  Set them aside.

Prepare meat mixture, stir and blend well.

Stuff the vegetables and cover with "caps."  If you wish to add an optional slice of cheese of any type five minutes before the vegetables are baked, leave of caps till after you place the cheese on them.

Place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Place vegetables in about an inch of water.  Bake about 45 mins or till meat is browned, at 425 degrees.  You can included sliced, peeled potatoes to make a complete meal.

Sometimes, I blend a pat or two of butter into the mixture, too.

Serve with wine and Greek peasant salad, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, feta, Calamata olives, oregano, salt and pepper stirred with olive oil, enough for dipping bread.

Rice pudding makes a great dessert.

Kali Orexi!