Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Anniversaries and new beginnings

Gene is lifting up his beard so we can read the t-shirt
This picture was taken yesterday morning when Gene came to the coffee shop before heading to the airport. Every June and July he fishes for salmon with his crew in Alaska. His shirt is from a saloon called the Salty Dawg in Homer Spit, Alaska. We all gave him hugs and lots of wishes for a good season and a safe return. We will all miss him until he comes home, especially Paula, since they have spent the last year or so together, either at his place or hers. This means we won't see her until he comes back, since she's not an early riser on her own.
Leo and his dad on the bus
Last week on my way to get a massage, I saw these two get on the bus, and the seat in front of me had just been vacated, so guess who came to mug my camera? Leo said they were on their way to a different coffee shop than the one we frequent, so he could have a biscotti. And his dad Robert could have an espresso, I suspect. I had a wonderful massage and then caught the bus home.
Roses outside the public library
Yesterday as I was returning a very interesting book to the library, I saw these pretty roses and after sniffing and appreciating them, I snapped their portrait. The book is Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Foods Took Over the American Meal. I saw the author, Melanie Warner, interviewed on some talk show not long ago and mentioned the book to Norma Jean. She of course got on the list at her library and read it when it became available, and I forgot to. She was reading it during our last video chat and I immediately snagged it from my library. The link above will take you to an interview on Grist with Melanie, where she is asked some questions about what she discovered during her 18 months researching the fast food industry.

I was not learning much that I didn't already know, until I discovered where my vitamins are processed, and how. Did you know that Vitamin D3, essential for those of us who live so far north, is processed in China from Australian wool? Yes! The lanolin is shipped there and irradiated to create the vitamin. I checked my own brand of D3, and it says it is processed from wool oil. Eeewww! But once I got over the initial shock, I also learned that very few of the vitamins I consume are processed in this country, because of the environmental damage to land and air. China doesn't have those same regulations, so there you are. How revolting.

I also learned about GRAS (generally recognized as safe). From that article linked above, here's a quote from Melanie:
In a glaring regulatory loophole that dates back to 1958, the GRAS system also happens to be voluntary. It’s perfectly legal for companies to keep the FDA in the dark about new additives, and consequently there are some 1,000 ingredients the FDA has no knowledge of whatsoever, according to an estimate done by the Pew Research Center.
 The closer one can get to eating food that has not become processed Frankenfood, the better. I think I've eaten my last bit of brand-name foods that I thought, once upon a time, were GRAS. And reading labels has become my thing. Not that I didn't read them before, but I wonder when I ate my last French fry? They will never pass my lips again.

I wondered why today's date kept nagging at me. Not only is it my grand-niece's birthday (she's three), it's the thirteenth anniversary of my terrible skydiving accident. And I'm still doing it (skydiving, that is). Sunday I made four wonderful skydives with my friends, and we were gifted with a fantastic day where everything worked just as it should. I had even forgotten the upcoming anniversary, until today's post needed to be written and I pondered the date.

We have a few days of rain in our forecast, and unfortunately one of them looks like Thursday, so the next post is likely to be soggy. Until then, however, I'll be enjoying the afterglow of Sunday and obsessively reading food labels.


  1. oh, djan, i had no idea! i have the utmost respect for you! wow...

    as for gene, i know he misses his bird. i hope he enjoys his alaska summer!

  2. i wonder if making the vitamins damages the air how good for you can they really be? err...

    best wishes on the alaska trip as well...did he used to take his bird on those trips?

  3. We try to eat only fresh veggies and meats... nothing canned or frozen. And the best way to avoid a food is to read the label and see all the stuff in it that you can't identify. As for vitamins, I don't take them. Try to get what I need from the food I eat. Don't know how long I will be able to do this, but so far, so good.

    That Leo has an adorable smile...

  4. Revolting, is right!
    From processed foods to globalization with countries competing to make things while they destroy the land & air... revolting.
    I may have already told you that I've been reading some Barbara Kingsolver books, which I've enjoyed so far. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - which I felt the same as you.. I was not learning much that I didn't already know, until a few startling facts were revealed.
    I finished her novel, Prodigal Summer, and enjoyed it.

    Roses and libraries, and Leo & friends.. so many reasons to be thankful as you begin another trip around the sun, recovered from that terrible accident!

  5. Dan... You find the most interesting reads! I wish you'd stop, though... I can't keep up with you...but I keep trying!!

  6. I will have to check this book out. Goodness, who knew that about vitamin D3? I will go check my label on the container of vitamin D I just finished. In fact, I will read labels a bit more thoroughly.

  7. How did I NOT know that you had such a horrible accident? And am even more in awe that you continue to jump!

    Love that Leo, just want to put him in my pocket; he's just so darned cute.

  8. If you find a bottle of D3 that comes from a better place, let me know and I'll buy it too.

    My life got changed from Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" and from "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

  9. Although ignorance can be bliss, I am definitely going to read the book. It always amazes me - and by now it shouldn't - how companies take a good thing (like vitamins) and mess with it until the original is unrecognizable and the copy a different animal (pun intended).

  10. I'm ashamed to admit this but I've about given up reading about the food I eat or about vitamins. It's too scary. I don't take any vitamins. One week we're told not to eat eggs and the next week we're told eggs are good. I no longer know what to think.

  11. Hi DJan, Another great post here. Some of the info on food processing is new to me and stuff I need to know. Hey, I think we may roughly be about the same age. I'm mid 60s. Anyway, I wonder ... do you find that you still learn something new every day? Ha ha. I do. And, it seems that every time I read your blog I find something new and interesting. For example, Vitamin D3 ... so many trusted friends have recommended it to me but I haven't started taking it yet. Now that I know how it is processed I'm wondering if I should take it. I guess I will have to do more research. By the way, I keyed in on the China link here. In recent years my attention has been drawn more and more to China. Interesting to me is that today China's economy is basically unregulated capitalism. That's right ... the same engine that drives us ... just without most of the regulation. Just something for us to think about when some groups say let's get rid of the regulations. Maybe not so fast there. I really appreciated your last comments on my blog. Yes, we share many of the same vistas. I do love Bellingham and have even considered checking it out as a possible next place to live. Thanks for sharing your photography and thoughts ... always interesting! John

  12. Best wishes for Gene to have a good summer! That Leo is a doll..and he loves you!
    Food is getting to be a horror story..I will keep burying my head in the sand:)

  13. Ah, the Salty Dawg, I know that place. It sounds like Gene fishes out of Homer, I wish him well. Alaska is beautiful this time of the year and the salmon should be plentiful.

    I did know that about the vitamins but I have kind of ignored it. I should start searching for some produced elsewhere if that is possible. I only take D3 in the dead of winter here, I took it most of the year in AK.

  14. Gene looks like he can handle himself. For many of these guys this is a life style.
    I'm afraid many of are products are processed in other peoples back yards.

  15. I love to watch the reality shows about fishing; I will now picture Gene in my mind as I do so.
    At first, when I saw the photo and read the beginning portion of its caption, I was thinking that perhaps he got another bird and had it tucked under his beard.
    Hopefully, Thursday won't be too soggy for you. Look forward to your post!

  16. What a nice newsy note, DJan. Gene, dad and lad, food (and safety). I also checked out your accident story. (That is the kind of thing which concerns me when you go jumping.)

    Anyhow, seems like you have had a good time. I had tea with another blogger this weekend (story on Thursday).

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting
    Life in the Urban Forest (poetry).

  17. We don't eat very many processed foods here, mostly fresh of frozen fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs dairy. I'm sure if I read about its production, I wouldn't be happy about what I find out about the meat I eat, so I'm just going to stay ignorant. We take mulit vitamins, but not straight Vit. D. We had some for a while but then heard they were a waste of money. Our doctors encourage us to take multi-vitamins, but I know we get what we need from the food we eat. We eat a very balanced diet.
    Moderation and balance - that's my motto.
    Loved your chatty post.

  18. Well I take a Calcium-D3 pill every day as well as a Centrum Silver vitamin pill. Is that bad? I also eat processed food, and have not died yet. I think people are too worried about such things.

  19. ...we need some more rain, so blow the storm front my way, okay?

    As for your skydiving accident anniversary?========did you post about this before and I missed reading about it? Do tell.

    Love the beautiful rose, I can almost get a whiff of the wonderful fragrance.

    And french fries? Oh, do I really want to give them up? How 'bout home fried french fries instead of packaged? Must find this book and read it myself.

  20. I have read many articles on processed foods and read all labels when I purchase most anything. When I see some of the countries where the food is processed, I buy very little in most "grocery stores". I go to the markets where I know the farmers and we have a lot of farms here in New Brunswick. I preserve and put things away for the winter - I am no "Franken" girl.
    Nice photo of Gene and love the idea of going fishing in Alaska. I think I do remember that he took the parrot with him. Hope he has a safe journey and a great summer. Too bad his love isn't making the trip, and of course its always sweet to see sweet Leo's smile to cheer up a day. Have a great day DJan.

  21. Hope Gene has a good time. I had a veterinary who put himself through vet school doing that. He said it was hard work but paid really well.
    I am blown away at your courage to have returned to the air after that accident. You never cease to amaze.

  22. I have a similar t-shirt. But it's The Salty Dog Cafe, from Hilton Head Island. (I don't have the impressive beard, either!)

  23. I think that old salt needs a new parrot! He doesn't look right without one.
    Lovely picture of Leo. Did he tell you which cafe he was going to? You're going to miss him a lot when he's at school, aren't you.
    What a pretty rose. They really are the best flowers aren't they.
    Vitamin D3? never heard of it. I'm much further north than you and I don't take any vitamins. What does that one do?
    Lovely post D-Jan. Take care, Star x

  24. Dear DJan, I've been a vegetarian for 32 years now, but I eat more than vegetables--and of course unless they're grown organically they can be covered with pesiticides. I've never thought about the vitamins I take and where they are produced/processed.

    When I became a vegetarian, I became a label reader. So now I will begin to read even more on those labels. Thank you for letting us know about this. Peace.

  25. This is why you amaze and inspire me. After such a horrible accident, you got back on the horse, so to speak, and have been dropping out of the sky and trudging up mountains ever since.

    I was suddenly struck by the fact that they might have an outreach program at the library here in Fargo--googled--and got an address to email for information! See? Inspiring! :)

  26. Oh my. That is a vitamin surprise. I just started taking Q 10. I saw on Dr. Oz how important it is. Or is it? Who knows. I am not surprised to hear you stopped to smell the roses. No, not at all.

  27. After going to TN for the baby then to San Francisco I am again way behind. But when I come to your blog I always go and read all the back entries I missed as your blog always has such nice photos, talks about your walk, your garden – you are a prolific writer. I read your post about Gene’s bird – it was sweet and sad. I can relate because when I lived in SF I had pet birds. I was devastated when they died. I’ll try to find pictures showing the birds.
    I read your blog because you are one of my longest blogging friend, so now I consider you a friend. I enjoy your hikes because I can’t walk so much anymore so I can walk “virtually” with you. I also like your philosophy of life and find that we share many thoughts. Your photos are always a delight. You have your own style and I enjoy it. I also love to read so I like it when you mention books.
    It’s difficult to keep abreast of what is in our food. A while back I saw a list of all the big companies that use genetically modified crops – so many of them, you would not eat if you had to stop buying their food – like all cereals, flour, General Mills, Nestle chocolate, most Ketchup, etc. (http://shiftfrequency.com/comprehensive-list-of-gmo-products/#more-15820.)

  28. Yikes about the food and medicines and everything we consume. Sigh...

    Even more scary was your sky diving catastrophe. Good grief, DJan! You are totally, completely amazing!

  29. I did not know about this accident, Djan. Oh my.. you're even gutsier than I realized. You're amazing.

    Leo is such a little cutie pie.


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