Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hair my bug bear

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It's mid October and another year nearly over. I can't believe it! Him says that I utter the same thing every year. It's been only 14 years since we've been married, so it can't be too bad. But honestly...the years fly by so fast, and each and every year has had revelations that I've sat with or run with.

The biggest reveal this year has been a bunch of grey hair. My grey hair. The trouble makers were lurking all these years I'll bet, right under my scalp, waiting to spring out when I got too busy to notice. And truly, I have been so busy that the last thing I remember about this year, was the winter from last year. When we were forced to slow down. And now it's nearly winter again! Back to the point, I have never had quite such an explosion of grey hair before. And before you point out the obvious, I've had grey hair since I was 10. A few strands here and there, that my mother tried desperately to cover up. She imagined traumatic recesses when classmates would point at my head and treat themselves to a laugh. She would smear home made pastes, some sort of pencil, and she would comb it artfully so the 4-5 strands would stay hidden.

I grew up not caring, and when I went to college, my hair stayed black with suspicious glints, but never more than the wisdom conferring few that showed only if you really looked. (Just like my supposed wisdom, try hard to see...) It was rather nice looking, not thick, but healthy and bouncy and all those adjectives once ascribes to youth. After Mini-Him was born, things changed. The greys still stayed outta sight. The texture changed, but enough home remedies kept the youthfulness locked in. After Mini-Baby's birth, the nose dive that my hair took could be compared to a swallow's dive...only it wasn't nearly as graceful. In addition to scantily dressed scalp, there were stringy greys and many strands that looked like the thinnest filament of cotton wool. Apparently it was a bad case of telogen effluvium. And it would auto-correct at some point. That particular time line is tricky. Because, as I discovered two years and many stresses and frustrations (not related to hair) later, I had to bring about that point.

Research, hair pulling and many vitamins later, it appears that sleep, exercise, nutrition, low stress, and lots of hair food beats any miracle cure. It's pretty much what my father told me all my life. And what my mother still does.

I began doing what I should have done in the first place. Even as the texture etc got better, the greys won't quit. And so I was at a dilemma. What could I possibly do, short of using one of those deeply moisturizing colors? And make trips every 2-3 weeks to a salon, or DIMyself at home?

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Over the weeks that I pondered this, there were worlds falling apart. There was never a day without news that highlighted just how many people's worlds shattered from war, disease and generally something terrifying and unreal at once.

And then, I looked at my household. I have such a loooong way to go. Such a darned looong way when all I really want to do is play a little. And read, and do silly things. But I don't think I'll have that luxury for a long time to come.

I asked Him if it mattered to him that in a couple of years, I'll have more grey than black. He didn't look up from his laptop as he said, "huh? No...why would I mind? Do what you like..."

And so what I'd like is to quit worrying about a natural turn of events. And accept this as who I will be from now on and move on to do what needs to be done. I don't want to be bothered with hair color appointments, and hair changes and skin reactions from using color. No. I'll take care of it, and give it what it needs. I don't think color is it.

Though a really dark brown henna doesn't sound too bad with jet black hair does it???

*Image : "Young Girl Looking At Watch" by iosphere through www.freedigitalphotos.net






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

molten vein

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A mountain headless dread,
nothing to quell the spread
of ash like dead thought
and molten rock with anger fraught.

Fury comes alive
Dare hope thrive,
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Craters and mouths that brew
words disconnected from the mind that drew
humanity melding and meeting
a body on earth meant to be fleeting.

Thoughts that resist evolution
a soul's sublimation
a cry for mercy, a heart that cannot process
choices inhumane that apparently lead to largesse
And much like those lost souls
a volcano does explode
to reveal what was bubbling beneath
incinerates, sometimes kindly, cuts off at the knees

The verdant slopes will become once more
hiding what remains in memories of yore
the ash like dead thought
and molten rock with anger fraught.

*Image - "Bromo Volcano Form East Java" by TeddyBear[Picnic] through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini-Him and Mini-battles

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Him and I have been hounding Mini-Him. That's the word for it. Hounding...

It didn't seem that way initially...and we were so certain of our parental insight, that we took away a whole bunch of things that he loves, unconsciously forgot our usual endearments for him, and really, made the almighty "grade" the sole focus of our collective existence.

He is a good kid, and with a touch of ADD, his days can be slightly challenging. He has nearly always had straight A's. His problem lies in the ability to listen and follow directions. Unless you were to observe it first hand, you would not know exactly how difficult a task this is for Mini-Him. You can see his eyes glaze over the minute instructions are issued...you can see the fidget in his bones, his eyes looking for another focus...and when you finally say, "Repeat what I just said..."
the panicked guilt cross his face.

Then comes the mistimed chatter. He almost always has something interesting to say. Only, the timing is off. It could be in the middle of someone's conversation, in the middle of a prayer meet, or just when he has been asked to be quiet. He used to be on meds for a few things and I am convinced that they left traces of themselves behind in a restless Mini-Him.

And yet, on remorse filled weekend mornings of the past few weeks, I wonder what exactly we are doing to him. As I watch him sleep, utter innocence and peace on his face, I wonder why I cannot give him this. This sense of peace, and complete acceptance.

I've been trying very hard, with an alternately upset and sad Him, to understand what drives us to drive him this way. Is it because his ill-timed comments reflect on our parenting? Or perhaps his grades reflect on the collective IQ of our collective families? Or his intolerance for any kind of "serious" conveys some special dead beat status? What is it that bothers us so?

He is certainly different from the kids that Him and I were. And he has been through so much more than us. For all of this, he is a large hearted boy. And he never fails to stand up for me. Ever. Why can I not do the same for him? Show him that I love him and accept him?

I do want him to blend seamlessly into society. I don't want him to suffer from rough edges that will cause judgemental others to push him to the periphery. I most desperately want him to be able to hold a non controversial conversation intelligently, and handle controversy with grace. And yet, I don't know if we are all that well equipped. I guess I am saying, to my shock, that I don't want him to stand out.

Perhaps I don't want him to stand out in a bad way. But who am I to choose? And force? He is not me. Or his Dad.

He is quite simply, only himself.

His grades, his behavior, his choices of conversation, his motivation etc are a function of his thoughts and feelings. And so it seems that my boy is not feeling too good. And his thoughts and mine are far apart.

He has a special delight in little things, and an awe of achievement, fast cars (only Lamborghinis, no other manufacturers need apply), space and physics, good food, wonderful music, basketball and although he is 12, Curious George.

He dislikes having to work at anything that he creates....he writes very deep poetry, and refuses to accept that anything could be expressed differently (and why I would try to change something like that is a matter for another post potentially titled "helicopter mom"), he sketches scenery and does not want instruction on depth and perception, and writes lovely essays that he will not rearrange to improve flow.

And did I mention that he is allergic to direction?

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I really only want for him to live a struggle free existence. To enjoy certain aspects of life easily because who needs to deal with comments about table manners at 25? Yet my boy seems unteachable.

But he accepts me does he not? I still get asked what flavor I would like when he goes to the local ice cream shop with Him. He will still ask me if I want a bit if his favorite Lays Chile-Limon on the rare occasions that he gets treated to it. And he still opens up to me. I get to hear about every single thing that goes on in his little life. This could be about half an hour after he has been yelled at for something legit I'm sure.

I'm trying to back off now. I think he is going to set his own trajectory that has nothing to do with me. And the more I try to reset it, and direct him and his future, the harder things are going to get.

That's just it...I need to back off. My little poet/artist/wannabe astrophysicist musician is going to have to figure things out on his own. He can continue to spill his guts to me in the mean while.


*Image - "Holding Hands Represents Paint Colors and Bonding" by Stuart Miles through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

For someone I'll never see again...

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I used to have this Uncle. Won't spell out the exact relationship just so no one can tell the person I am talking about. This Uncle passed away shortly after Him and I were married. It was not anything that we expected. One assumed that his tall figure would always wait at the airport when one landed, paper rolled under the arm, waving lanky arms excitedly. I understand from my mother's stories about my baby days, that he was everything to me for a while. I must not have felt any of that in my teen years, because I had been nothing short of a b**** to the poor man. That is a strong word for me. I live in a household with many males and they all swear routinely. But this is the only word that I cannot stand. There is some manner of violence to it that I can't put my finger on. So to say that is what I was to this much hassled uncle is to say that I really was a miserable human being for a while.

I hated him with a passion for some years. Some years, because from the time that I lived with my grandma, Uncle and Aunt, to the time the said Uncle died, it was just seven short years. I often wonder how much my utter disregard for his feelings must have contributed to his overall disillusion. He was all of 59 when he passed away. I believe he died of a broken heart. My Aunt is a good woman, but I think my Uncle was beaten down by life.

My entire issue started when my parents discussed their particular disagreements with him in front of me. I could never think well of him after. Dad's angst was understandable. To the rational, planned, "never-drop-the ball" type A's, he would have seemed a bumbling buffoon. I spent the years from 13-16 believing it. And the years from 16-18 hating him for it. Hate as in visceral hate. And yet, he never showed me what he thought or felt. Through all of my attempts to ignore him in the home that we all lived in, and through all my attempts to exclude him from the fabric of my life, that in truth, him and my aunt were holding together, he still asked after my well being. Bought goodies that he knew I liked, and never once let on to my parents that he was dissatisfied with my conduct, and that sometimes, as a teenager would, I skimped on helping around the house. Tiny though it was.

That is not to say that he didn't have his failings. I only failed to note in that time in my life, that everyone did, everyone who lived on after him developed even bigger failings, and that he had been someone who existed solely to take care of everyone around him. He didn't have any children. But he took care of his mother, me, a couple of wild cousins, a sister and generally made everyone else's problems his. Which might be why he could never get anywhere. Of course, no one in the family will believe it. But it is my take on why he might have failed where others atleast broke the surface.

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Then again, failure, time, success, richness, poverty, money etc are such human constructs. We have become the adjectives that we syllabicated many timelines ago. We structured words to convey expectation and appreciation.We have run since to shape ourselves to be worthy of our own hype. And as in the case of this Uncle, who I now believe was not meant for this world, expect everyone else to fit in as we would. Struggle as we would. And be as fearful of negative labels because that's just what we are afraid will happen to us.

Uncle just continued living as joyously as he could in his cramped life. And one could tell that he could not feel his lack. That he expected to be loved and appreciated and did not feel poor. He didn't behave like there was anything missing from his life although a great deal had been lacking since childhood. For all the siblings in fact. But he was the only one living where the others had left. He tried to keep his wife happy as he could. And tried to ignore Dad's repeated attempts to beat some monetary sense into him. And tried to laugh and joke and be an outstanding human connection to everyone who ever crossed his path. And continued to ignore Dad's pleas for some sense as he sent yet another lump sum of money that Uncle asked for.

Money was the construct that broke them in the end. The arguments, the stress and the lost gaiety came from Uncle and Aunty needing more, and Dad having to provide. And still there was so much to Uncle that we couldn't appreciate then.

I was resentful of Dad having to part with his hard earned money then. And I still don't think that he should have had to fund anyone's lifestyle. But the grey area gets me these days. I mean...so what? So bloody what if he needed a handout every year? And so what if he took trips and ate out and laughed and hung out with friends? Was he supposed to stop breathing from the guilt? He didn't live in a forgiving country. And he told me later that he never in all his life asked for a raise because he believed that raises had to be given. Not asked for. And even I. at 18 knew that not much came from this world without that initial push at the very least from us.

He didn't belong here. And he was idealistic and impulsive. Loving and carefree. I grew to understand once I was on my own, and struggled for a bit to be understood myself. It all grew into appreciation pretty quickly. And it seemed to me for a short while after I was married, that he would always be there to reach out to. Which is why I never called him after saying goodbye to him at the airport in Aug 2000, as a new bride going away with her husband. He was gone in November. I do not have guilt that I did not call. I feel immense guilt that I burdened him with childishness when he had been so close to death. And when he could have used some affection and understanding. I now believe those two qualities can change so much in people's lives.

I regret the arrogance that allowed me to think so little of him; regret that it prevented any closeness...

To a man who had once been everything to me. That manner of blindness is the worst in the world. I hope he knows that I regret my lost teen years that could have been better. For all of us. I hope he knows that I am sorry for being a cause of strife in his tragically short life. And I hope he knows that I love him. I never did tell him that.

And of course, I hope he knows that the whole bunch of us who judged and withheld appreciation are actually grateful. Even if his life never quite fit our shortsighted framework, he was quite the champion. Our lives had been better with him in it. And better because of him.

He also loved flowers. And laughter. What a loss! Our loss...

His birthday falls in the second week of September. This is my remembrance.

*image - "Gardenia" by panuruangjan through www.freedigitalphotos.net


Saturday, August 23, 2014

About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and why I think it is a great idea

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There has been a lot of controversy regarding the Ice Bucket mania that has gripped the nation. One can understand why the thought of celebs pouring ice cold slush over themselves comes across as ridiculous and attention grabbing. And as outlandish as one may be tempted to think it is, I believe that this is an AWESOME way to raise money for ALS and it's victims.

I run another blog that has so far been devoted solely to ALS research and it's impact upon the victims and their families, and ways to help these people go through an extremely stressful condition.

We have ways to buy time, scope for remission, and cures for other conditions. There is none of this yet for
ALS. Right from the time that Lou Gehrig and this condition became synonymous, there has been research in many parts of the world. Awareness is not as it should be either. We have pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness and research, a Run for MS, and others where victims can more often than not participate and hope for recovery. In the blog that I update, I advertise the ALS Walk where ALS sufferers are part of the participating population. Every year, one can see them get weaker, use more assistive devices and walk less, until they are spectators and one day, they are not part of anything on this earth anymore.

And no one has a concrete idea as to why this happens. There are theories, and there is much research. But no proper idea, and no potential for a cure yet.

It meant as much to me as it does to many of you; a vaguely disturbing, sad condition that one pushes to the corner, much like we attempt to ignore news about poverty, massacres etc. Simply because there isn't a whole lot one can do to change things, and because we would be bogged down with helpless sadness if we thought of these things all the time.

pic credit - prakorn, freedigitalphotos.net




Then I met Linda. Linda who was so full of vitality, and bursting with ideas and projects. She had raised two daughters and had traveled the world. She and her husband, Him and I and others were were all on the same project in Panama, and we met during a Christmas party. After a couple of meetings, she told a group of ladies about her twin sister, Laurie, who had passed away from ALS. The profound sadness in her face is something that will take me a long time to forget. Laurie had been as Linda was now. Vital, alive and adventurous. She had been a wife, mother, and do-er of all things. A mild weakness that she noticed in her legs had been no cause for concern. She attributed it to her rather active lifestyle and continued to train and strengthen her body. When the weakness progressed, and subsequent tests revealed the devastating ALS diagnosis, she and her husband attempted researching every possible outlet. Every potential cure, and research study. She even participated in one. Unfortunately her condition progressed rapidly and she passed away in 2006. Her story can be found HERE.

Linda has been tireless in her efforts to talk about ALS, raise funds for those suffering from ALS, called PALS. She has shared ways to help families affected by this on the reachforacure blog. Ways to help, in addition to spreading the word, and controversial or not, joining in the ice-bucket challenge, can be found HERE. While individuals suffering from this have their lives taken over in ways that they could not have imagined, their families suffer enormously. Given that the condition causes people to lose any control and strength in their bodies, the constant caretaking wears caregivers down. The financial impact is also enormous. Whether it is the primary bread winner, or a grown child, there is a constant need of supplies and doctor's visits. I can't imagine the impact of watching a loved one degenerate before your eyes, knowing that there is nothing one can do, but make them comfortable for the days that they have left. And this is right from the beginning, from the time of diagnosis. Not a single hope except that the disease might keep the loved one communicating for as long as possible.

There is much more to this than everyone trying a new trick on themselves. I don't believe that I've seen ALS get as much exposure before and it's great, and it's important, and it is necessary for us to know why this happens so that we can put a stop to it, or change things to make them better. Right now, no one knows for sure. They're just about finding the information in genes. But what causes the progression, why some get it (Linda's ever torturous question to herself and us - why did Laurie get it and not her?), and could it be environmental?

If you're not up to ice bucket challenges, and would like to help, perhaps the many ways outlined by Linda might offer you some insight, HERE. If you're able to provide help monetarily, Linda's Walk Page can be found HERE and the ALS association's donation page can be found HERE.

There is so much more to all this than a macho dunk in ice. I truly hope researchers find answers and stop ALS's ravaging effects on individuals and their families.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

little delight!

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Little boy shrieked, "follow the bee!"
chubby feet sprung into faster leaps by
green grass bouncing free

"A rainbow splashed on the grass!!"
tiny shriek and dropping jaw
showed what formal verse could never surpass!

Of course it was delight
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to see every flower you could think of
doused in every spectrum of bright

Tumble into loveliness to rise again
snapdragons' yellow anointing a forehead just as,
morning glories peek from behind ears hidden behind a mane

That black mane dressed artfully with poppy
wait, before you inhale that clover!
Pick it out while dusting pollen from cheeks glossy

He thought of me too,
this I knew when he plucked from his chest,
a forget-me-not that matched my dress, rich of the bluest hue.

The hours spent with one wish
that we could be each color in that meadow
reality such anguish!

I think now that we were lucky to have just been,
my little boy and me, alive in that abundance
a place, maybe heaven or earth, or somewhere inbetween...

*Image 1 - "Wild Flowers" by dan through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'll never say it to you again

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I'll never say it to you again,
never mean that,
a hundred shards of glass would cause me less pain
than it does when you smile
as you would at a gamboling puppy
and break my most recent heart and add it to the pile.

I'll never say it to you again,
never mean that,
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a hundred shards of glass would cause me less pain
than it does when you join the jeering other
more in love with the laughter and good times
so blind to tears that fall silent as a feather.

I'll never say it to you again,
never mean that,
a hundred shards of glass would cause me less pain
than it does when you dismiss with words amorphous
as we do flyers selling services, refrigerators, because we have too many,
any expression deeper than an inch of the surface.

I'll never say it to you again,
that I need you much the same
as you might need me if your love caused you pain,
as you might need me if your tears fell into clapping hands and scornful eyes,
and when you say that the ocean is a measure of the capacity of your heart,
I say that I'd rather not have it, because I am wise.

*Image - "Rose In A Bubble" by njaj through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Say what you want to say...

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Blanket of sound
a hundred cicadas
enliven the air as if to say
your voice is found!

Word and thought
in eternal gestation
stuck as a babe lying sidewise
breathlessly awaited, cry sought

Still the birds call
p'raps nonsense or code for a new granary found
chirp, caw, cluck or such
winter to fall

Not scorn, nor jest, not ire nor glory ought distort
a cicada's soprano, or a crow's grating caw ,
Words of pearls, beads, gems polished or not,
strung in confident gold, soothing as a draught.

*Image - "Flying Seagull" by Naypong through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Start Over

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The concrete reflected light from the midmorning sun. Bright, harsh and just the same as yesterday at 9AM. And the day before, and the one before that. Months before summer's heat set in, it stayed cold and grey until 10AM, after which the reluctant light illuminated the uneven pavements that unprotestingly bore hundreds of walkers. Some new and most who likely stepped on the same uneven seams for years.

Aura wondered if it bothered everyone as much as it did her. "Showing up to work is half the battle won!" Her father's voice echoed through her head. He was right. Because she did not want to show up these days. Not to work, and most certainly not on the pavement that led right to the doorstep of AB Banking. There was something about walking everyday, in her black 2 inch heels no matter what her outfit. It was usually black, with white or an occasional dove grey shirt, tailored just so, buttoned up to her clavicles, showing nothing but a serious, thought burdened countenance.

And here she was, named for all things magical, subtle, suggestive. It had been this way since that redefining afternoon five years ago, she thought, allowing the words to coalesce finally. Suddenly turning around, away from AB's doors that the door man held open for her, his warm smile turning quizzical as he watched her face, she ran away. She ran against the crush now, and her legs took her to the lake that calmly sweltered in the August heat. How did so much time go by? Was it already so long since....?

Shaking legs carried her to a bench off to the side. A different one from her memories. The ducks clucked closer to her shoes, as she sat still as a stone. She had to sit still...her brain was assaulted by images. Groping fingers, unexpectedly foul breath, a vicious hold on a throat that had known nothig but the whisper of jewelry, and the caress of breezes.

Five years since the man's attack on her person made her loathe herself. Made her stick to walking the same pavement to work everyday. Years of unspoken, unshared trauma that screamed through the constancy of her life and choices. Years of being safe from terror, and never rousing a man's interest for fear of history repeating itself.

He had been handsome and worked not far from where she had interned. It was supposed to be an innocent lunch time meeting by the lake, and then a stroll in the bright summer light. She remembered her floral shift dress of the day, bright crimson and pink flowers on a cream chiffon that was innocence and burgeoning sensuality. It hadn't taken long for him to lead her far from the lake and into a grove of trees. It had been beautiful. She also remembered thinking it was a romantic setting. That was until her grabbed her throat from behind, and growled into her ear, words that she couldn't comprehend for fright. She only remembered the fetid smell of his breath as he proceeded. She couldn't wear her gardenia scent anymore without imagining the rotten flesh smell of him.

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She had stumbled back to work, where her astounded coworkers scrambled to get help. The police found a few leads but nothing ever materialized. His picture was on a news channel a couple of years later under a list of deceased in a drug heist. She had been at her parents' house for Christmas and had promptly passed out. Nothing made her tell them, and just as they sensed that something terrible had changed their vibrant girl's personality forever, they also sensed that pushing for answers would break her.

She couldn't stand the loathing she felt. Of herself, her surroundings, her family, and yet, these were all she knew. And knew enough that running to another place would not piece together her broken sense of self.

The ripples on the lake gently shook free a tumult of emotions that she had suppressed under her stuffy jackets for years. She went home, bundled up her entire wardrobe and dumped it outside. She should give it to Goodwill, she thought. But her feet carried her of their own accord. Somewhere along the way, she had removed her jacket and dumped that in a   restaurant's trash bin.

He had changed how she thought of herself. She taught herself to be inconspicuous, and safe. She had snuffed her love of colors and scent...anything that would draw attention. More than anything else, she had refused to look up as she walked, look to a future, or possibilities.

It would change.

First, a trip to a counselor, then home, then to a clothing store, to buy another shift dress in cream chiffon, with no flowers. She would start afresh, on a clean slate. She would learn to live again; and learn who she could be from what she had had to become.

*image 1 - "Orange Flowers" by phanlop88 through www.freedigitalphotos.net


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

to shrug a mantle

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rock in softness to and fro,
gentle sway and a gentle glow
of light sometimes, but mostly dark
slow the pulse, deeper breath,
or maybe the thought won't matter.
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perhaps a hum or thrum,
or the sound of elements
as they have been before thought
in the first seconds of the first epoch
the sounds of home
soothing or terrifying
yet changeless into eternity.

the sounds and sight part of
the elements in me
programmed to draw the cells toward it
Seducer of my will
urges surrender to what will take over
one day
again not of my making.

soothing and tempestuous
as the womb
or the ocean mighty
whispering, roaring
words of peace
that await all
all who live pushing against
their only rest,
their only cross to bear.

*Image 1 - Under Blue Water With Sun Shining Above by khunaspix through www.freedigitalphotos.net


Thursday, July 24, 2014

For sentimental geese

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It's strange how our world categorizes and pigeon holes everyone into a certain type. There is the thinking type, and the feeling type...and fun kinda person/or a serious sort, an easy going dude or a high strung man, everyone labeled according to their reactions and the feelings that they evoke in others.

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That is the point of this bit of writing today. Feelings. The associations the word evokes in our times are the issue for me. The images of well grown kids resenting a little less physical comfort, or folks with every opportunity at their disposal who commit dastardly acts because their "feelings were hurt". Those issues are societal ills. They have nothing to do with honest to goodness feelings.

Feelings are important. Not so one can wait for them to be hurt so they can complain about the world at large. Not so that we can generate even more politically correct non-statements to avoid trampling on the over coddled sensitivities of a random species of fruit fly. No. Feelings are guide posts. To me at least. They let me know when something is off kilter, when someone is off kilter. The happiness of knowing something is as it should be, the anger that comes from understanding cruelty, unfairness, and atrocity...the love that comes with synchronicity, the dislike of what our body cannot tolerate...or the likes and dislikes that make each of us unique.

These separate us from robots, psychopaths and anyone who would happily inflict pain without feeling pain themselves.

I am told even more often than before that feelings are devoid of any logic. How do seemingly intelligent people make such statements? How do researchers go into the neurophysiological reactions involved in feeling "happy", "sad", "love" or "lust" and make blanket assumptions on a species that operates on so many levels? A whole bunch of narcissists then take those blanket assumptions, detach themselves even more from the things that make us all humans and turn every honest emotion into a joke.

Are we just our reactions? Or are we just our thoughts? Why are we required to operate on one, and rationalize the other? Who benefits from such logical, emotion free interaction? Are we all diplomats working in a high pressure setting trying to set the world right? Or are we all a bundle of feelings without thought to define them?

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I cannot imagine thinking without emotion/feelings/sentiment. Sure there are times that we "put our feelings aside". We try to grow in spite of ourselves, and if it were not for those feelings, we would not know that we were limited. A excess of feeling not reined in by thought can cause as much destruction as thought far removed from feelings. Everything that forces one over the other makes us live a lie.

Thought and feeling must go hand in hand. Each providing depth to the other, and each giving us reason to "be"...meaning live, want, eat well, reach for better things, better ourselves, get out of our particular hell etc.

I'll be a sentimental goose anytime.

*Image 1: Colorful Dove by digitalart through www.freedigitalphotos.net
**Image 2 : Silhouette Goose Flying by Vlado through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, July 21, 2014

Preachy nuggets

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Mini-Him is a year away from the all important 13. His rebellious streak has tagged along since his infancy, when putting him in diapers was next to impossible. Now, asking him to do anything is next to impossible. Infact, asking him not to argue does not seem to merit even a cursory acknowledgement. How can one argue endlessly, getting lost in verbal mazes, and trapping oneself in one's own arguments? So much so, that I feel compelled to rescue him from the clutches of yet another illogical bit of self-defense. He just has to say something to everything. And that is increasing my grey hair population.

Despite all of this, sweetness and caring remain his underlying qualities...even if they show less and less through the frown on his suddenly angular face.

I've been trying to explain/direct/order/suggest/non-verbally indicate the important things that he needs to attend to daily. This summer break marks his first foray into the kitchen for reasons other than placing a food request, slamming a plate in the sink, or helping himself to an overdose of chile-limon Lays, one of the only two junk food items we allow him.

So we started out making very simple pasta. We had store bought sauce too...didn't want to scare off a possible chef with chopping and simmering. We thought to go the Sandra Lee way and keep it semi home-made. Which suits Mini-Him just fine. He was adorably unsure near the stove. We started with the basics. Learning how to turn on/off the knobs, with a hundred safety instructions. How to boil water...more safety...how to put everything he needs where it is reachable...and all those super organized actions that I cannot claim myself.

It went well and he did well...he learned how to salt foods, how much is "just right" for seasoning, how to use an oven mitt etc. Every so often he had to be warned not to fling his long arms about trying emphasize his point too close to the pasta pot. And to cut back on the drama. The pasta was eminently edible.

Once done, he just left to eat it by the comp, reading comic books. The dishes and splattered backsplash beckoned.

It was infuriating and I had to work at calming myself down...because he is only 12. And this was his first time. And he is much better than I was at that age. I knew enough to pop bread into a toaster.

I've been on his case ever since. Because I think we've been remiss. We've never told him the consequences of  "just leaving" things as they are. We threw in some more bits of preaching for good measure. The poor kid is well and truly saturated with advice. He won't look me in the eye and stated that a nutella sandwich is all he wants for dinner.

Still...those preachy nuggets were important.
Image 1*

Don't leave a mess for some else to clean up. If you don't want to waste your time with it, then make sure whoever is cleaning up your mess is either well compensated, or in total agreement with how important your time is over theirs...maybe you have an exam...or maybe you're late for an appointment. You're handing over your job...basically.

Drama has a time and place. Not everyone has the bandwidth or kitchen space for verbal and physical drama. Hand flinging/wringing with spot jumping and expressions that take away from the moment are to be held back; maybe brought forward when your favorite team is doing badly.

Look people in the eye, wait for a satisfactory end to a conversation before going back to your 
Ipad. 
You hate being dismissed before you've said your piece right? It is true of everyone! It is easier to figure out if someone is ready to end the conversation if you're watching their face. Easy to tell what a person is if you look them in the eye. And it will be infinitely easier for people to reach out and trust you if you can look at them and meet their eye! If you're in a hurry, say so. Most of the time the video clip you're raring to get back to can wait!

Staying organized saves time in the long run. I'd get a stylish shoe thrown effectively at my head if the ladies from college who are my dear friends read this one. But I've discovered through messes and repeated explanations/exclamations and my own frustration, that NOTHING beats organization. No sense in promoting anything else, and disguising inefficiency as organized chaos. It does allow for more gracious living. And Mini-Him being my child, is learning this the hard way.

Listening is everything. Folks say a lot. And it behooves us to listen. For their sake, and our own. Nothing is accomplished if everyone is talking all the time. And if everyone is arguing all the time.

A No is a No. Where did we go wrong with this one? Why is NO infused with shades of gray? How can stop mean go a little further? And how did "put that down now" become "5 minutes more? for the next half an hour??"

Greet visitors, neighbors and others who acknowledge you with more than a cursory nod before rushing off into video game heaven.  We're trying to rigidly enforce this one. By "rigidly enforcing", I mean that we are applying consequences and taking the sacred hours of video-gaming. Yes. No boorish behavior is allowed. People are to be treated with respect. Your moods, excitement and everything are important, but the moment you are required to interact with another creature, your attention is to be all "there." He is required to spend thirty minutes in the company of visitors, ask polite questions, listen patiently, and then ask to be allowed to go. At which point we let him go. If he has done his job. Also, he HAS to watch his mouth! How controversial can a 12 year old get?!

There have been a couple more since I started writing this two days ago. And I'm afraid he will zone us out. I think he is zoning us out. But it hit me that he probably will stay another 5-6 years at home before heading to college. We all (Mini-Him too) don't have as much time as we thought we did. We've said everything over and over for ages. But we're getting to a point when he can't be just anyway. He would have to accept the preachy nuggets. The hypocrisy needs to be ignored! Yes I was messy! And no...he cannot be. So there. Who said I was fair?!
**Image 2

I hope for Mini-Him to be a gracious, put together member of society. Someone who can listen and yet, stand up for what he believes in. Someone who can make it no matter what is thrown at him, and someone who can plan a course toward living his ambitions, what ever they morph into, from the current graphic artist/physicist and comic strip writer combo.

I'm tired just thinking about it. I need my ginger tea.

*Image 1 credit - "Chaos Order Post-it Papers Show Disorganized or Ordered" by Stuart Miles through www.freedigitalphotos.net

**Image 2 credit - "Herbal Tea On White Background" by phasinphoto through www.freedigitalphotos.net





Monday, July 14, 2014

Unscramble within

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The truth behind our comforting lies stays cloaked in fear. The fear forms a whiteboard against which we present our ideas, hopes...a refracting surface. A place to point to if anyone asks about ambition, hopes and dreams. A collage of "would be's if not for...".It allows us to pretend for ages. A lifetime if the need to look within stays unexamined and untended.

I've been able to pontificate about this for ages. But I realized when writing my wish list, and more importantly working on the fashion forward article and the follow up guest post by my friend and fellow blogger Shabana Feroze, that I am such a giant clucking chicken when it comes to facing ridicule and negative opinion. I knew it and tried to make the fear smaller than what it was. In short, I tried to fake it till I made it...but the only thing fake was my smile of unconcern, and secret attempts to stay on every contradictory person's good side.

by adamr through www.freedigitalphotos.net
And while I wrote about hopes for visiting Kiribati and Montana, and my hopes for a fashion redemption, I realized that the only factor that kept me from feeling better about my life in general was my "over conformist" attitude. Especially when every fiber within rebels against everything. No wonder my children are so contrary. I think I've been a mass of knots for ages. And when wondering about fashion choices, every choice I struggled against, and every decision I made was put through a mental council...a council made up of all the people in my life who would be unhappy with my choices.

Do you know the feeling? That feeling you get when you're being judged and held accountable for doing what you wanted to do? If you're a conformist who hates being one, you know what I'm talking about. The stomach dropping fear, surging rage and going hot and cold at once. Yeah. It can get that bad!

Now, I'm trying to breathe and stretch and twist it all out. Every little bit of discomfort and angst that makes a comfortable home in my body is being breathed out. Every time I ease into an asana, I put all my latent hopes into my body, and breathe out everything that is holding me back.

There will never be the perfect time to speak my mind, wear that dress I've hoped to, say what I meant to, write another book, or...yes...practice yoga.

It seems crystal clear to me, as clear as the popping in my hip indicating a long road ahead to true yogi-hood, that there is no perfect time to quieten enough to hear my own voice. The one that is constantly drowned in others' cacophony.

It must be now.

Image credit : "Beautiful Woman Practive Yoga On River in Nature by adamr through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, July 11, 2014

All U Pear Ladies...Fashion sense wish come true! Thanks Shabana Feroze!

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So when I wrote my wishlist series, I put down a wish to be fashion forward. The stylish and motivated Shabana Feroze of the vibrant Silver Kick Diaries  read my wish/rant. She said that she would help me wrap my head around concepts for my body type. We went about it in a systematic way. She asked me about what exactly bothers me about my body, what goes through my head when I attempt to pick out clothes, and what exactly the discomfort entails.

I wrote her a long email explaining many things. I am my own psychoanalyst (in jest...) and told her exactly what bothered my mind when I looked at clothes, and exactly what made me uncomfortable. She has addressed everything that is relevant and has done an outstanding job of it! Thank you Shabana! I'm so glad to be sharing this on my blog and have one wish off the wish list!

I LOVE Shabana's well organized and informative guide. Practical tips too, given my mad mad life! For more inspiration and style tips, do visit the Silver Kick Diaries

Shabana's guest post : 


Anne’s Dressing issues

I know Anne has been struggling with dressing/ styling herself for some time, so I decided to help her out. I asked her to send me her most pertinent style issues via email. Since they’re quite a few, I’ve addressed them one by one in this post. The objective is not just to help Anne, but also to hopefully help other women like Anne who are busy, young, mothers who sometimes struggle with shopping and finding their style. These are the major concerns I gathered from her email:

She doesn’t want to “look ‘posey’ or overdressed or stand out.
She has a “tendency to gravitate toward safe colors, dull colors, nothing dramatic.
Her hips are wider than her bust.
She loves sleeveless clothes but has stretch marks on her arms.
Outfit options and transitioning from formal to casual.
Suitable jewelry she can wear around the toddler as he tends to grab it.
Make up options for a busy mom-on-the-go who has dark circles from lack of sleep.

So let’s begin.

She doesn’t want to “look ‘posey’ or overdressed or stand out.
I do agree with her when she says she doesn’t want to look ‘posey’, because posing implies trying to be someone you’re not. The entire concept of dressing well is to look more like who you are. You dress up to bring your uniqueness and personality through. It’s a way of letting people know who you are without having said a word. And if you learn how to do that well, you WILL stand out, but in your own quietly confident way. And you’ll love it.

She has a “tendency to gravitate toward safe colors, dull colors, nothing dramatic
Obviously, you want color in your wardrobe. So all you need to do is go shopping, and try on colored clothes to see what suits you. I’m not even going to get into all the jazz about what colors work for which complexion, because that would just be too overwhelming at this point. Just go to your favourite shop, pick up clothes in the colors you think are oh-so-beeeyootiful, tell the voice in your head that’s telling you they’re too bold for you to shut up, and try them on. Some gorgeous colors may not look that great against your skin tone but some will take your breath away. Even if the clothes themselves don’t suit you, don’t worry, at least you’ll know what colors do. If you want, make a note in your phone or a notebook about which shades looked good on you. Or discreetly take a picture of the shade. And since you already have a wardrobe full of ‘neutrals’-  black, beige, gray, you can easily pair any color with these.

Her hips are wider than her bust.
Anne is a typical ‘pear’ shape- where the hips are wide than the bust and make the silhouette look bottom-heavy. This means that she has a problem in selecting pants and maintaining a balanced silhouette. But not to worry, there’s always a solution.

Tops/ Blouses:

a.      You need to bring the attention away from the bottom half of the body, so tops with interesting embellishments on the neck, or with wide or scoop necks will do the trick. Pussybow tops look great and are available everywhere now.


b.      Look for slightly loose tops that end just above your hips. This will create balance by adding a bit of a bulk to the top half while also covering any belly bulges.


c.      The interest can also be shifted to the sleeves. Look for blouses that have different lengths of sleeves or bell sleeves, bat wing sleeves, etc. 


d.      Choose tops in different colors and prints. 


2.      Skirts:
A-line skirts are your best bet. They not only cover up your hips, but also look elegant. Look for ones that end just below the knee for the most flattering look. Avoid pencil skirts. Unless you want to look like Kim Kardashian. ;)
3.      Pants:
Boot-cut jeans, straight pants and even flared jeans are for you. Wide-leg pants are popular now. What I’d really recommend are Pajama Pants. They’re wide leg, but usually come in a natural material like cotton and linen, and have an elasticated belt. Great for busy moms. All these pants will balance out the width of your hips and thighs. But stay away from the really wide-leg or palazzo pants. Not practical if you’re running around with a toddler on your hip. Also avoid skinny jeans and capri pants. Remember that you want to slim the bottom half and bring the eye to the top half, so get pants and skirts in dark colors like black, navy and charcoal gray. 


4.      Dresses:
Again, like the skirts, go for A-line or even Empire-cut. Choose silky materials that will skim over your beautiful curves instead of unflattering ones like clingy jersey. And remember to look for embellishments at the top half, and/ or interesting sleeves. Wrap-around dresses are fantastic for pears.


5.      Jackets:
Get more jackets! These help to balance your silhouette. Just steer clear from those that end at your waist. Slightly longer ones that end just above the hips will flatter your shape.  

6.      Accessories:
Scarves are great for you. They can be worn in multiple ways and they keep the attention to the top half. If you want to wear a belt, make sure it’s a thin one.

7.      Shoes:
If you don’t have super-wide feet like mine, try pointed shoes. They elongate the legs. Heels are great for your body type. Wear them if you’re comfortable in them and you’re not standing for too long or running around with the toddler.


 Outfit options and transitioning from formal to casual.
Once you have a few of the basic items that look good on you, it’s all about mixing and matching and taking the look from formal to casual or vice versa. For example, a pretty printed wrap-around dress can be worn to pick the kids from school. At night throw a smart jacket, accessories and heels on for dinner with your hubby and his coworkers. Or a pussy bow blouse worn with an A-line skirt for a PTA meeting, and change the skirt to boot-cut jeans for dinner out with the hubs and kids.

She loves sleeveless clothes but has stretch marks on her arms.

I asked Anne to send me a picture of these and it turns out, the stretch marks are barely noticeable! Really, ladies, we’re not perfect, and that’s okay!

Suitable jewelry she can wear around the toddler as he tends to grab it.
Since the baby would pull on grab-able pieces like earrings, may I suggest flat plate-like statement necklaces? These lie flat on your collar-bone and chest, look great with most tops and add interest to your neckline and outfit. And I’m sure the toddler’s tiny hands wouldn’t be able to grab it. Bonus: You can wear small studs in your ears that match the necklace instead of dangly earrings that the baby can pull off and hurt you. Try cuffs for your wrists. Basically, experiment with jewelry that you think wouldn’t be easy for the baby to pull.





    Make up options for a busy mom-on-the-go who has dark circles from lack of sleep.
Two words: Concealer and lipstick. These two make-up items can instantly make you look fresher. Choose lippies in bold colors like deep pinks and reds, to brighten up the face. If you wear lip gloss, please, throw it away, you’re not a teenager any more. And if possible, try adding an eyelash curler and mascara to your make-up routine. But if that’s too much, stick with the concealer and lipstick. Don’t leave home without applying these. It’s amazing how dabbing just these two on can make you look and feel more confident.

My last tip: 
Take a good friend on your next shopping trip, and let her pick stuff for you to try on. Don’t censor her or tell her not to pick that blouse from the rack because that is so not your style, just try it on. Go through the entire shop, letting her pick out tons of clothes. {Or do it yourself, if you’re brave.} You never know what ‘Aha!’ style moment you hit on while trying something on. Seeing how the material, color and cut looks on you, you’ll start realizing what looks horrendous on you and what makes you look like a goddess. And once you know how to dress like a goddess, just never stop.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Give and Give, Take and Take

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The balance between give and take does not seem to exist by minute. Or hour. Or days...and it seems to me at this frustrating moment, not in years either. I do believe in the universal law of checks and balances, and often pray/hope that I won't have to wait another lifetime to acquire the good, by which time, I'm sure I would not remember or even know that it is "the good from giving" that I am being gifted. If I won't even be me, how does it matter?

And I think, this last is the point of all our personal/religious/rationalist theories...that in the end, it shouldn't matter. And that the checks and balances exist but may not be ours to witness. Or ours to benefit from.
It would then mean that we're a species as connected as we are separate. I refuse to believe that humanity evolved and continues to evolve (devolve?) at random. And at some point, what happens to one, trickles down/sideways/thru time warps etc to happen to all of us.

"Hands Holding Anything" by m_bartosch
If I refuse to help someone/give of myself/put up with **** for the greater good today, I truly do not believe that I will suffer. I think that the suffering will be someone else's to bear...not mine. But down the generations, or in a life that superficially seems separate from mine, someone will bear the result of me holding back. No matter what reason I come up with.

And that's my conundrum for today, and has been for a while. How much can one keep giving, without making a martyr of oneself, without refueling to give that much more, and without it becoming their very identity?

"Charity Gave-a-lot? Ohhh she's always there for everyone. She has such a challenging home life yet she never thinks of herself. Only of everyone else!"

There's so much wrong with this. First, that Charity Gave-a-lot cares nothing for herself, or her home, but has enough resources for the rest of the world. And where is Charity getting the resources from, that she can't try to make it better at home first? Or even, try to make herself better? I understand when folks can't set things right at home because there are too many complexities involved. And giving to others eases some of the heaviness in the heart, and the soul. But where does one draw the line? Between Charity and the home, and Charity and the world? Because Charity can't give forever. Not unless she forgets herself and decides that it is not going to matter.

And that sooner or later, all that giving will return as good many times over, and she may not see it, or know it, but it will be there, and will be there because of her.

I'm not sure that I want to be Charity, or if I can make peace with my round-about view of things. I hope I can understand this "endless giving" in a way that is acceptable.

Maybe I just need to re-fuel; maybe I just need to let go of notions that no longer serve me. But first, there needs to be a balance. Between giving, and how much one is willing to let go of while expecting something in return.

Image credit " "Hands Holding Anything" by m_bartosch through www.freedigitalphotos.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A sucker for love stories because....

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I don't think I come across as a romantic person. I honestly don't think much of teddy bears bearing wands with candy hearts, and rose petals sprinkled on sheets or perfumed letters (do people do that stuff still?). I know folks who love those things and it's cute...but it is not me.

Still, I can't ever ignore a good love story. For someone who lives a very utilitarian life, the shades (not necessarily 50...umm...joke folks?) of love in a book brighten my own day. I don't imagine an Adonis with speaking golden eyes doing unprintable stuff to me. Nor do I imagine myself as a flirtatious seductress, intent on leading men to a literal and metaphorical precipice. I don't imagine said Adonis valiantly defending my honor, with his heart in the act. Nor do I imagine myself as someone who will tolerate all manner of nonsense waiting for Adonis' acceptance of his one true love/object of lust (the one and the same of course!).

But I do fall in love with the sentiment. Every time. The notion of love that makes each day easier to bear. The silly fights written with such dramatic flair that unfurl mysteries about each half of a couple, characteristics that are flawed and endearing, intimacy that they fight toward, against and for. All of it makes me view the world with less cynicism and much more hope.

I understand. How can the complexities of our time be nullified/bettered with silly love stories? They cannot. But what if the protagonists of the complexities had love stories of their own? Would their choices be different? The rage that fuels the madness rampant in the world today, perhaps, might have never morphed into itself if the capacity for such intensity had been tested with love. Everyone with an agenda borne of megalomania might have directed lives differently if only they could focus outside of themselves, lose themselves in another, and work toward maintaining what they cherish.

"Designed to Heart Shape" byBlack-HardArtstudio
Of course, nothing is as simple or as simplistic. Which is why I love romances. Because they bring it all down to something agreeable. A ton of love and sex versus a murder mystery with crazies on a killing spree with good folks getting a raw deal. I'd choose the love even in real life.

Not much intellectual stimulation there, I agree. But I'm a wuss enough to want to feel good after reading a book. So now I read romances, and travelogues, and how-to books, books on herbs and beauty remedies, and books on wars with love stories in them of course. Anything that will remind me about why I need to stay positive. It is for the good things in life; the stuff that we lose sight of so easily, when we get ensnared in complexities not of our own making.

Complexities that arise from other humans' love and desire starved hearts and minds! 

Image credit : "Designed To Heart Shape" by Black-HardArtstudio through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wish list - Om sweet Om

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My final wish on this series (for now...I'm sure I'll have more to add later) is to be a yoga instructor. I enjoy my comparably average daily practice and what it entails. If I could get better, become more centered and all those balanced agreeables, I would walk the yogi's walk and continue talking the talk.

It doesn't even matter if I instruct...as long as I am able to move into most asanas of a chosen discipline. And I wish that the affinity for a discipline would descend on me. Too many wishes. But it is difficult to understand what might work best for my body type. I have tried most at some point. Wrong...I have not tried Bikram Yoga. And my physical therapist brain will not permit me to do this. But the rest of it, yes please!

As hare-brained as it may seem, I wait for these things to reveal themselves. I would very much like to be able to learn one of Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Iyengar yoga. And if possible, at some point, teach it.

Walking and yoga bring clarity to many foggy thoughts, and make impossibilities seem probable and attainable. This, and my hope for a fashion redemption, may be the two wishes firmly within my sphere of influence. Reachable and enjoyable. Not dependent on other's multiple schedules and career aspirations.
"Yoga" by arztsamui; www.freedigitalphotos.net

I began my yoga practice at 11. I have not maintained the practice through the many changes in my life. But Dad taught me. It was his way of spending time with me in his busy day, and his way of ensuring that I didn't fluff up in the "too hot for outdoors" summers in Dubai. I'll forever be grateful for his gentle guidance (guidance in other matters too...and not always gentle...no sir...Dad could easily have taken over for an army general) and encouragement.

Mini-Him refuses to be initiated. It's not necessary, he declares every time I bring the conversation around to him devoting some time to practice. Him, with an overall restricted range of motion, goes between ridicule and admiration of people, men in particular, who devote themselves to yoga.

I have been my own cheering squad. This is something I can do over the next 3-4 years. Maybe I'll be able to talk about my journey soon...not too much...just to put it out there...and keep that wish list vibrant and alive.

Image credit : "Yoga" by arztsamui through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wish list series - to be fashion forward and Happy Fourth!

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I haven't learned to dress right in all these years. I've lived in different countries/climates etc. But dressing up for me is a frightening, difficult to navigate activity. The world of color, choices, cuts, fit and trends is one that I have never had the "guts" to explore.

To clarify, I wear jeans/tracks/twill pants/t shirts/shirts and not much variety other than that. A special occasion might warrant a silken something that I hold onto for dear life. Just so that I won't have to think the next time I have an event. And I think I lie to myself when I say that trends don't matter to me as I prefer a classic touch. I do. That's what my better senses gravitate to most of the time. But my "safer", "downplay your assets" and "stay in the shadows" sense encourages the most basic, non threatening, seamlessly moving from decade to decade sort of fashion choices...or rather unfashionable choices. I mean, short of stretchy cotton/relaxed fit jeans and shapeless big shirts, what else would travel so well through time without making statements of any kind?

"Pretty Young Girl and Graffiti" by Serge Bertasius
I think, that last line gives me a clue. I don't like to make statements do I? I don't and apparently it carries over everywhere.

This is a wish list post after all, and not a look into the dusty corners of my mind. So my wish would be to have someone literally hold my hand and explain all of this to me! My mother picks out better clothes for me than I do. She is bold about color and fit and styles. She dresses beautifully...and I do look like a staid peahen ready to retire in front of her.

If I knew how to start thinking about clothes, it would be great. I am far from slim or obese but can never find/or don't know to look for clothes that work with my body type. So someday, soon I hope, when Mini-baby is about 3 or 4, I would like to go to a mall/store with someone who can explain why my choices suck, and why another choice would not. And give me that little bit of certainty about choosing something for the mornings vs evening.

I felt the need to post this after going over fellow blogger Shabana Feroze's post on www.thesilverkickdiaries.com. She discusses being a shopaholic. If there is an opposite to it...something along the lines of shop-a-phobic or fashionophobic, that would be me. But not out of snobbery, but desperate ignorance!

So yes, I wish to remedy it...soon!

Happy Fourth of July...love this country inspite of the distances it needs to go. I am grateful for the opportunities and possibilities. Hope to give back someday.

Image credit - "Pretty Young Girl and Graffiti" by Serge Bertasius through www.freedigitalphotos.net



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wish List Series - Chocolate dreams

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Belgian chocolate has a flavor that I cannot find anywhere else. For that reason alone, I would love to visit Belgium. Never mind their pommes-frites. I make a batch nearly weekly for Mini-Him with his much loved sauces. It is the chocolate and the fact that such a tiny, beautiful country can produce something that is subtle and dramatic at once.

I researched Belgium long ago, when I made a slide show for an international project for Mini-Him. His topic had been Belgium - country/culture. And boy, what a gorgeous place! With impossibly beautiful castles nestled in lacy greenery, surrounded by water reflecting the royal blue skies, Brugge - The Venice of the North, historic churches with fabled works of art that are UNESCO heritage sites, Belgium has so much to show and tell!

Yet, yet, and yet...my one reason to visit would be to taste its chocolate. While the fabled Guylian and Godiva chocolates are available everywhere, there are local brands which pique my interest. There are other chocolatiers the world over, with their delightful chocolate mixes, textures, and funky flavors all of which guarantee a spot on top of the line lists. But there is something about Belgian chocolate and its taste and texture that leaves the rest in chocolate-dust...for me at least.

Chocolate by Danilin
The flavor is unique. It appears that they actually strictly regulate the quantity of cacao. Also, while the European Union allows chocolatiers to substitute 5% of the fats used in making chocolate with cocoa butter, Belgian chocolatiers stick a rude finger in the face of taste corrupting palm/shea butter in chocolates. They use a 100% cocoa butter. I KNEW there was a reason I turn into a giddy mess when I have one of these! In fact, they even have a Belgian Chocolate Code. The Code was set forth by the Royal Belgian Association of the Biscuit, Chocolate, Pralines and Confectionary industry. Now this is a USEFUL organization for a country to own. I would lay any ambition I have down to regulate chocolate making for all my life. The texture is smooth and fine as they break down all particles into smaller units. It just makes literally "melt into your skin" goodness.

Gorgeous backdrops could come and go..but the bit of luxury that is Belgian chocolate stays accessible and surprisingly affordable!                                                                                                                                                                                      
A walk around with chocolate, fragrant and damp mornings...aaah...handcrafted heaven!                                            

 Info compiled through the internet and specifically through  http://www.aocs.org/Membership/FreeCover.cfm?itemnumber=18144  

Image credit - Chocolate by Danilin through www.freedigitalphotos.net