The Last Best Hope

Finishing Strong!

I completed the Spa 5K Saturday in a record time. It was my personal best, and I was thrilled to finish strong. Notice I had two bicycle attendants and the privilege of my good friend, who is the current president of the local running club, to accompany me on the last leg of the 3.2 mile route.

Admittedly, my personal best was last of all who entered, but I still beat everyone who never entered the race. I also did better than those who didn’t train to walk this distance. We do this by going out for 15 minutes the first week, and adding 5 to 10 minutes extra in each of the weeks to follow. No one does a 5K right off the batt unless a bear is chasing them!

This is the third year I’ve completed the race, and I’ve learned several good tips. First, carry my inhaler so my asthma doesn’t bother me. If I can breathe better, I can walk at a steady pace. Second, carry half a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread to eat at the turn. This keeps my blood sugar up so I have energy for the home stretch. Third, hydrate. I carry water because I take medication that causes mouth dryness. If I feel good, I can walk well. My time was 1:07.19.34, with a pace of 21:43/M. I finished 9th in my age group and 291st of 291 women.

Finally, I don’t have to beat anyone else on the course. I only have to finish the race. Each runner or walker has his or her own individual time to beat, their own personal challenge. Of course, someone will cross the line with the best time in each age group, but each person has a personal race within the race. If we want to find good health, we must get up and get moving! It won’t come to our door via Amazon Prime or Dominos delivery service.

Finding ways to challenge our lethargy is tough, for once we begin to sit, inertia takes over. I’ve been there and worn a hole in the cushions of my couch. Sometimes I’ve had to set the kitchen timer to thirty minutes to force me to get up and turn it off. Putting on happy music, setting just one task and giving myself a coffee reward for completing it has helped me get over some of my rougher days. The worst days I had to admit I was depressed and seek treatment.

Depression is a real illness, one often found along side diabetes and heart disease. These are diseases of inflammation and depression seems to be their fellow traveler. It can be treated. We don’t have to live with the struggle of depression. Ordinary life has its own troubles, but we can live with hope and love. We don’t have to win the trophy, we merely need to do our best.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift,

nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise,

nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful;

but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

After all, we have a higher purpose in life, for we’re here to be a witness to others. In Japan, the Ginko trees are living fossils, since they aren’t kin to any other tree still alive. When the atom bombs fell, six Ginko trees survived even though all the buildings around them were destroyed. When the trees began to bud, they were named “trees of hope.”

Hiroshima Ginko Trees

Even if we aren’t “much to look at” we can still be an inspiration to others. After all, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). You can be the last best hope for someone today, maybe even for your own self. You are worthy. When you’re stronger, you can be a hope for someone else.

Ginko in the Autumn

THE CHANGE HAPPENS OVERNIGHT

Late in November, on a single night

Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees

That stand along the walk drop all their leaves

In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind

But as though to time alone: the golden and green

Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday

Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.

What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?

What in those wooden motives so decided

To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,

Rebellion or surrender? and if this

Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?

What use to learn the lessons taught by time.

If a star at any time may tell us: Now.

“The Consent” by Howard Nemerov

Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov.

Reprinted by permission of Margaret  Nemerov.

Source: The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53817/the-consent

More about Ginko Trees—https://e360.yale.edu/features/peter_crane_history_of_ginkgo_earths_oldest_tree

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Coffee Makes Me Smarter

How do I know coffee makes me smarter? Is there science behind this statement, or is this just a perception I have? Scientists giving people 200 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of a couple of cups of coffee—found they help the brain identify words more quickly and precisely. I call that “smarter.” Our IQs aren’t higher, but we can use what we have better.

Does it take two cups, or two sips? Perhaps this depends upon a person’s sleep debt. According to the PLOS Journal, “Sixty-six healthy participants age 24.3 years (19–32 years) were randomly assigned to either a caffeine group (n = 33, 9 males) or a placebo control group (n = 33, 12 males).” Do I know these young men were sleep deprived, or is it my best guess? Men average 5 hours, 45 minutes, while women average 6 hours, 9 minute, according to a 2017 study on American sleep habits.

Excessive fatigue during the day and taking too long to fall asleep were the most common reported issues. The recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours. An interesting side note, every 30 minutes of daily exercise adds about 14 minutes of sleep time. I have the blessing of inheriting my daddy’s ability to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. “Go all day, sleep all night.”

As I was saying, I worked all evening long to fix printer at home. Reason(s)?

1. Power surge last week might have knocked out delicate “air connections” of the software.

2. My iPad crashed and I had to restore it. No telling what happened there! I was fortunate to have backed up just a few days prior.

3. Printer would print from computer & phone, but the iPad would not recognize the printer. I went to bed. Arkansas had lost their baseball game anyway.

4. When all else fails, a good night’s sleep might solve any problem. It will be there anyway and I can try again.

5. Morning and coffee bring new insights. If I was stuck trying to print from email, why not print from another program on the iPad?

6. Print from Word. Spits out a page!

7. Print from Notes. Spits out another page!

8. Now go to email and try again. BINGO! We have a winner! Chicken Dinner!

“Tomorrow is another day,” my mother always told me. “Things will look different when you wake up.” When I was young, I didn’t have her accumulated experiences to understand this wisdom, but the dawn always comes after the dark of night. We can either stay up worrying and exhaust ourselves, or get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to tackle life again in the morning.

I tend to let God handle the world and its troubles while I sleep. In the morning, I thank God for another day to love and serve, and take care of the troubles that come my way. I don’t go looking for trouble, since like most of us, we have enough trouble in our own lives to begin with! And trouble will find us along the way also.

If I could give you one word of suggestion, most problems in our lives would go away if we all slowed down. We attempt to pack 30 hours of activity into a 24 hour day, and then wonder why we’re so tired. Sleep deprivation is the answer, with stress as a corollary result.

The University of Washington Health Sciences concluded chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system, which means people get sick more often when they don’t get enough sleep.

Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center says, “What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health.”

Get 7 or more hours of sleep per night, and simplify your life.

Live long and Prosper.

Love, Cornie

Brain and Coffee Study https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/in-experiments-caffeine-accelerates-the-brains-verbal-processing-113759145/#I44msTiHHXl4DTum.99

PLOS JOURNAL http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0048487

https://www.sleepphones.com/Sleep-Statistics-The-State-of-Sleep-in-America

Gourmet Trail Mix

Happy first day of Fall! I’m spending my day doing light duty around the condo, which means I’m not out enjoying the tempering breezes and the first colors changing in our surrounding forests here in the Lower Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Some say the early colors are the result of heat stress or wet summers. The lack of sunlight is the reason for leaves not making the chlorophyll or green color, so the other colors in the leaves begin to show through. Actually, any stress will make the trees change early! Stress certainly makes me change, but not usually for the best. Color seems to be running about a week early across the country in most places I checked.

I found a handy interactive USA map for 2017 Leaf Color. You can move the date line and watch the colors change across the country. Very fancy these internet gurus!

https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/

While you entertain your family and plan your road trip, you might want to whip up a gourmet mix of pistachios, macadamia nuts, and deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for a healthy snack. This takes at most 5 minutes to prepare and a couple more minutes to store in airtight canisters or mason jars.

Ingredients

1 cup Wonderful pistachios (preshelled)

4 oz Planters Unsalted Premium Blend

160 grams Raisins

1 cup sahale tangerine macadamia nuts

4 tbsp Chocolate, Nestle Real Semi-Sweet chocolate chips

Mix by hand in oversized bowl. Put into large mouthed mason glass canning jars or air tight BPA free storage containers for your cabinets. Store away from heat, moisture, and sunlight.

Tips: You can vary the mix by adding different dried fruits to this trail mix.

Directions: Merely measure on a scale, mix in a bowl, and store in an airtight jar. Enjoy.

Serving Size: Makes 20 one ounce or 1/4 cup servings

Nutritional Info per serving:

• Calories: 133.9

• Total Fat: 8.4 g

• Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

• Sodium: 52.9 mg

• Total Carbs: 14.1 g

• Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g

• Protein: 2.8 g

VITAMIN AND MINERALS

• Vitamin A 0.4 %

• Vitamin B-12 0.0 %

• Vitamin B-6 5.0 %

• Vitamin C 0.4 %

• Vitamin D 0.0 %

• Vitamin E 2.3 %

• Calcium 2.0 %

• Copper 10.3 %

• Folate 0.1 %

• Iron 3.7 %

• Magnesium 6.7 %

• Manganese 11.3 %

• Niacin 0.3 %

• Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %

• Phosphorus 5.8 %

• Riboflavin 0.4 %

• Selenium 0.1 %

• Thiamin 3.8 %

• Zinc 0.1 %

SEASONAL FOODS TASTE BEST

Buy what’s ripe for the best value

“This is why tomatoes don’t taste all that great in January.”

AND they cost a small fortune! Have you ever noticed this?

Seasonal crops will taste better when they come from nearby and they’ll usually cost less due to lower transportation costs.

Right now, corn is still in season and very good. So are our local Arkansas tomatoes. I imagine many of my Kitchen peeps from other southern areas still have local produce in their farmers markets and grocery stores. Further north, September will mark the end of local produce, most likely, except for winter veggies.

Brussels sprouts are an autumn vegetable. While we can get them year round in our big box stores, they are best in season. They always show up around Thanksgiving in the upscale neighborhood grocery store in my town in their native form: on the stalk! Just like a tree! Exactly! I’d never in my whole life seen anything like it. Perhaps I was deprived as a child, an adult, and now into my deep geezerness, I’ve finally arrived.

This sprout tree makes a beautiful presentation for a family dinner, either for Thanksgiving or any other special occasion. You roast it in the oven, having brushed it with a bit of olive oil and dusted it with appropriate spices. Any internet recipe would give you an idea, but I like rosemary garlic spice mix.

To cook ordinary Brussels sprouts, most people make the mistake of boiling them, but boiling in water raises their temperature too high and tosses off the obnoxious odors. Ugh! Can’t have that!

I have always microwaved the Brussels sprouts so they would be sweet. This solves the overcooking problem. Then I was cooking a single slice of bacon in a heavy skillet as I finished off the baked chicken in the oven. I put thin sliced summer squash with parsley, rosemary and garlic into that pan to heat and tenderize al dente. When the sprouts were done, I tossed them in just to get the spices on them too.

The corn gets butter, salt and pepper. Fresh corn doesn’t need anything else. It too doesn’t need to be boiled to death. Microwave it inside its own husk. This is “steaming” and doesn’t heat up your house or use up costly energy.

I’m looking forward to acorn squash and pumpkin soup. New recipes when the weather cools off!

WEEKEND WEATHER REPORT 

Welcome to the weekend! I’m drinking coffee on a rainy morning. Folks say if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait a day or so. It’s going to be different, no matter what the weather gurus say. 

Our sunny high of 82F for yesterday never panned out, for the westerly front raced in and brought the clouds and cold rain at noon instead. The thunderstorms at midnight with brilliant lightning flashes shot down any chance of seeing the famous Lyrid Meteor showers which happen every year around this time. 
Today I might have to say goodbye to Mr. Air Conditioner and say hello to Mr. Heater, since our anticipated weather will be wet and cold: 61 and 47F. We’re back to an earlier spring scenario. Nevertheless, I’ve learned the hard way from my experience in my adopted home, “Don’t put all your out of season clothes away.” In any event, drinking coffee in the morning can always bring a rainbow into my day. 
If we can’t control the weather, we can always adjust to it. If we only realized people were more like the weather, subject to storm fronts or barometric highs and lows, then we might understand why trying to control them is so difficult. At most we can guide human beings, for unlike nature, we creatures have a mind and a will. We can offer them a better way, provide consequences for poor choices and rewards for good ones, and we can be positive role models for them. 

At some point, we have to let go and let God take over the work we’re not able to effect in a contrary person. If that person is our own self, and it sometimes is–don’t get mad, I’ve been unable to let go of my own bad habits from time to time–we have to ask, “Who is the god of my life? Is it Me? Or is it the God of all creation? To whom do I answer? How can I best serve my family and the world in the this body of flesh?”

Sometimes the person we need to work on is our self. I always find drinking another cup of coffee helps my mind access the deeper levels of consciousness, or as we say in Cornie’s Kitchen, “Gosh! I think I’m coming to life now!”

SCIENCE, FOOD, AND CULTURAL TRENDS

When I was a kid, modern was all the rage. If a family had a washer, dryer, cook stove, and a refrigerator in their home, plus indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water, they were first class. I was quite surprised to discover some areas of Arkansas weren’t electrified in the 1950’s. The Arkansas Encyclopedia says only 67% of the farms had electricity in this decade. Modern conveniences came late to our rural folks, who did hand labor long after their city cousins were “taking it easy.”

VINTAGE REDDI-WHIP ADVERTISEMENT


My grandmother’s home had a cold room on the shady side of her home. Kitchens in the south were always located here to keep this room as cool as possible. The room had a box, which opened to the outside. The iceman would make his rounds in this old section of the city several times a week in our torrid summers. Into this small box, he’d place a newspaper wrapped block of ice. This little chip off the glacial block would slowly melt, but would help keep the cold pantry below the rest of the house. The shade tree helped, as well as the large eave. 

Grandmother never had the giant icebox we have today, but if she were to make peaches and shortcake, it would be when the peaches were firm and ripe in season. They would be at the peak of freshness, most likely up from Ruston, or one of the nearby towns known for their fruit. They wouldn’t have traveled far. Local food is fresh, plus it costs less to ship. 
She didn’t believe in Reddi-Whip. Beating heavy cream by hand with sweetener and vanilla was all part of the gift. Taking time to make the gift was also part of the blessing of this lifestyle: taking care of people by sharing food cooked with love. 

The death of aerosol food arrived about the time of those hippies and the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Folks decided once again natural foods raised with respect for the environment and respect for the farmer were important. While some of our hippie ideas may have been “hair brained,” the idea all life is interconnected and interdependent did make sense. If we care for one another, we are caring for ourselves also. If we care for our world, we are caring for all of humanity. It’s the neighborly thing to do. We can’t love ourselves without loving the world and all the people in it. Likewise, if we hate others, we’re hating a part of ourselves.  

Read on if you want to know more about the story of aerosol foods. They were a really big deal for a while, and then they fizzled! 

http://luckypeach.com/history-push-button-cuisine/

Real Food, Real Chef, Real Delight!

My sister in the faith and my best friend throughout my years of ministry have on occasion been privileged to serve in towns near one another. I’ve watched her children grow up from babies to young women who now are serving God in the church and the world. Although I’m nearly two decades older than she, we share our common life around the love of food. 
She’s almost an empty nester now, while I’ve lived this experience for near on a quarter century. Our conversations usually range across the breadth of life, faith, politics, family, health, and our latest passions. We don’t meet at fast food places because slow food allows us the opportunity to catch up on our lives. 

I enjoy this especially, since I tend to tell stories at length. It’s not a factor of age, for I’ve always been a Chatty Cathy (a doll I owned in the 1950’s). My church people used to say, “We’ve never figured out the difference between your short remarks, your devotions, and your sermons. They all seem to run about 15 minutes!”

This plate is Luna Bella’s green fettuccine with shrimp. It has asparagus, spinach, and a matcha (green tea) infusion, along with tomatoes and other peppers. Very tasty! I also ate the watermelon salad with goat cheese on spring greens. I loved every bite. 
A warning to caffeine sensitive folks: I was still wide awake at midnight and didn’t wind down until after 2AM. Since I was up, I performed a virus scan on my computer and cleaned out my email backlog. God can work for good in all things, if we relax and let go of our need to be in control.