Food Allergies? Beware!

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

A new study has come out claiming that many foods are not what they claim they are — they have been adulterated. Pomegranate juice was found to have unlabeled apple or grape juice in it, lemon juice was found to be mostly water, the list goes on.

This seems fairly harmless, even if annoying and illegal, until you realize that many Americans rely on food labels to keep them safe and healthy. If you have food allergies, ingesting even a little bit of a food you are allergic to can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hives, swelling, or even death. Unlabeled ingredients threaten the lives and health of everyone with food allergies.

If you have food allergies, and you experience an adverse (bad) reaction to a food, and you are in the USA, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Reframe the abortion debate

I so don’t want to mire myself in the political debates surrounding abortion. I consciously remove myself from politics when I am online — I dislike controversy. Yet sometimes, I feel compelled to speak out.

The following is a quotation from an essay written by a woman who recently suffered a miscarriage. The medical procedures to remove her non-viable fetus were treated as a voluntary abortion for legal and medical purposes. The entire article is worth a read.

I wish we could reframe the debate and talk more about what it would mean to honor the sanctity of life. To honor the actual lives of pregnant women and the potential lives they hold within them.
Tamara Mann

That one sentence says it all to me.

I wish we could discuss the actual realities and nuances of pregnancy and abortion, honoring the women who harbor this miracle we call life, without resorting to ugly generalities and soundbites.

What would it sound like, a discussion that honored women? Honored pregnancy, and life, and all the things that can go wrong, and all the things that can go blessedly right?

Book Quote: An Uncertain Voyage

Cover of "Uncertain Voyage"

Cover of Uncertain Voyage

I enjoyed An Uncertain Voyage by Dorothy Gilman very much. On the surface, it is about a young woman’s encounter with a secret agent and what happens to her after he entrusts a precious package to her because he has been discovered and will never reach his destination. Beneath the surface, it is about her inner journey, learning to love and trust again after a mental breakdown. I want to share with you a quotation from the book. It is from near the end of the book and her journey, both literally and figuratively, and she is beginning to awaken from her lifelong sleep of distrust, despair, and fear.

Faith meant trusting, it meant the horror of trusting the unknown, of placing faith in what could be neither seen nor touched nor proven. It meant going on when one’s very soul cried out to turn back, it meant, above all, unending risk.

Don’t Read This While You Eat

You expect the hospital to be a safe, clean place. You expect that when you go to the hospital for surgery, the instruments and tools used on you will be sterilized and clean. You will have your surgery, recover, go home, and feel better than you did before. Usually, this is what happens.

But not always. Sometimes, and more often than we really want to know, the instruments are imperfectly cleaned. Bits of blood and tissue are left behind, clogging the complex tools and harboring infection. Read more about this problem (warning: the link has graphic descriptions and photos, do not click if you do not want to see these graphic descriptions) from iWatch News from the Center for Public Integrity.

The FDA has investigated these problems, and are creating a draft policy for device manufacturers that will in no way be binding upon the manufacturers. This is unacceptable. People deserve to be safe in hospitals, not get sicker.

The Day

Under the brilliant sky
The land stretches out with no trees by
To support the heavy, blue weight.
Tucked into the curve of the hill,
The little cabin sat, still.

She looked out the window
No neighbors today.
There never would be, below
This barren hill away
From the mines and churches of town.

What did Jessie want here,
She wondered. Not much of a farm,
Not much of a mine. A shiver
Crossed her arms.
How long could she go on?

The cabin door banged open.
Jessie barged in. “What, no
Dinner ready, and the fire stone
Cold? How can I work the farm like this?”

She turned, heavy on her feet,
And walked out the door.

Another poem in the style of Robert Frost. This one is finished. Come back Wednesday for a post on the writing of this poem.

Book Review: The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

Typewriter adler3

Image via Wikipedia

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine, by Carey Wallace, is incredibly sad. Set in early nineteenth century Italy, it is the fictionalized story of the young contessa (countess) in Italy who went blind at age 18 and the inventor who made her the first typewriter so she could write letters, the story is full of opportunities lost and love found too late.

I ached for the main characters, Carolina (the Contessa) and Turri, who were perfect for each other but separated by age and arranged marriages (Turri was 10 years older than Carolina and married to another woman while Carolina was still a teenager).

From the first word, I could feel the regret and loss Carolina experiences throughout the book. In the beginning, the only person who believes Carolina when she says she is going blind is Turri, her friend. Her mother thinks she is speaking in metaphors, her father ignores her, and her betrothed, Pietro, thinks she is joking.

Pietro does eventually believe her, but doesn’t understand her or what she is going through. In trying to accept her for who she now is, he also refuses to play the games she plays with Turri and her maid, Liza, of pretending to see fantastical sights, and further estranges himself from her.

The hardest part of going blind for Carolina is her dependence on sighted people to help her navigate the world. At the end of the book, she finds herself forced to make changes in her life in ways she didn’t want, due to that dependence.

Rarely does a book make me want to cry, but The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is that rare book.

Five out of five stars.

Book Review: The Life You’ve Imagined

The Life You’ve Imagined, by Kristina Riggle, is a very good book with a hopeful ending. Throughout most of the book, however, I kept wondering if the characters would make it to the next page mentally and physically intact, let alone to the next day in their story.

Brittle is the word that first comes to mind to describe this book. The characters all seem to be on the edge of disaster, but when disaster does strike, it is at unexpected moments.

The story revolves around three high school friends, twelve years after graduation. Two of them left town, but one never moved on. Now they are thrown together for a summer.

Anna is a successful lawyer, shaken by the recent death of her mentor at her law firm. She returns home to her mother’s convenience store to recuperate. Maeve, her mother, hasn’t moved on from her husband’s abandonment of his family twenty years ago. Cami has come home to her childhood home, still inhabited by her alcoholic father, after she is thrown out by her boyfriend for breaking his trust and has nowhere else to go. Amy is the one who never left, but she’s lost weight and is engaged to the younger son of the richest man in town, a developer.

The book tells the story of the summer when Amy gets married, and Anna, Cami, and Maeve have to confront who they were, who they are, and who they will become.

Overall, The Life You’ve Imagined is a very good book, telling the story of success, ambition, and the ultimate hollowness of both if you leave yourself behind. How do we create ourselves, and how are we in turn seen by others?

Five out of five stars.

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