Wednesday, 26 September 2012

In black and white

Black and white: archer on a pint glass of Strongbow Cider
Archer on a pint glass of Strongbow Cider

Black and White: view from Leeds attic window
The view from my attic window

Black and White: outside stairs 
 The stairs outside my workplace

Black and White: Tower of Old Suitcases
Old suitcases in a tower

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Witness my Sophistication

I travel to amazing places of culture, mystery and history.

Tower of old suitcases
That is, I venture into second-hand and vintage clothing shops.

I drink from stemware glasses.

Milk in a wine glass
 Full of milk, obviously.

I eat scones while contemplating invitations to cultural events I'm too busy to attend.
Scones and an invitation to a museum exhibition

Invitation to a museum gallery opening

They were slathered in butter and it was my entire dinner washed down with some chocolate.  And I am only too busy because I work a terrible evening shift. 

I throw various articles on the floor and my maid....

Wait a minute.  I don't have a maid.  That is probably why I need to do some cleaning this weekend. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Rabbit Food and Ruffage

I came home this evening at a quarter past ten in the evening and in sheer desperation I ate two tomatoes.  Yes, two.  I picked up first one baby tomato and then another and chewed them up whole, unceremoniously and completely unmasked by other foods, flavours or tastes.  What has happened to me?
Red cherry tomatoes
Photo Source: flickr by Swaminathan
Perhaps I should explain that I have always hated vegetables.  And just like everything else in my life it was not a casual dislike and reluctance.  I don't do things by half measures.  I have always hated vegetables with a passion that stemmed deep from my five year old soul.  I declared them rabbit food and refused to eat them.  I am not a rabbit so why should I eat rabbit food? Do people eat dog food or cat food I ask you?  NO.  Nobody would reasonably expect me to eat a dinner comprised of bird food.  I didn't see why the delicacies of rabbits should ever be placed upon my plate.  I wasn't an ambassador to the rabbit population of my town, or any other town for that matter.  I didn't need to improve human rabbit relations by symbolically accepting them and their culture by dining on their foods.  No, I didn't eat rabbit food.  I waged war on it.
Cat guarding rabbit food, or salad, in the fridge
Smart cat knows if he waits by the rabbit food the rabbits will come to him.  Cool as a cucumber he waits.  I bet you can't get him to eat rabbit food.      Photo Source: Flickr by Psyberartist
It was ruffage.  Or more properly spelled, roughage, and roughage is defined as "the coarse indigestible constituents of food".  Indigestible!  And you want me to eat it why?  Ick.  No thank you.  Now people will tell you that tomatoes are good for you.  That tomatoes are a fruit.  But they also come from the night shade family and are therefore a nightshade food. Nightshade foods produce these things called alkaloids that can affect the nervous system and digestive system.  You see alkaloids can inhibit this enzyme, cholintesterase, which is found in nerve cells.  If it is very strongly inhibited it can disrupt the nerve-muscle system and cause trembling, twitching, paralyzed breathing or convulsions.  Great, right?  They say that these certain nightshade foods do not block the enzyme to a great enough degree to cause any trouble.  Yet, there is no definitive research on the subject.  Some researchers recommend cutting it out of the diets of those people with arthritis and other joint problems.  And there are many individuals who swear that nightshade foods do cause them joint pain.  

Do you know what foods are nightshade foods?  It may surprise you to find that the list includes:
Sweet and hot peppers (bell peppers, and cayenne etc.)
Ground cherries (not real cherries, whatever a ground cherry is...)
*And a few others. This is not an exhaustive list of nightshade foods.

Some researchers claim that the level of alkaloids in nightshade foods are too small to have any real effect.  Yet the alkaloids do exist in these foods and can be shown to inhibit cholintesterase at least to a small degree and cooking only reduces the alkaloids by 40-50%.  So, you can make up your own mind.  Don't believe me, check out more reputable sources and ask your doctor.  But I will argue that these nightshade foods are poison.  So, these "oh so healthy for you" tomatoes could in fact be poisoning my body and ruining my joints.  Why should I trust your health advice after you advocate poison and indigestible foods.  No, thank you, I'll pass. Or at least that is what I used to say to myself.
Colourful peppers and tomatoes
Look at all those colorful poisons!         Photo Source: flickr by moon angel

Yet desperate times called for desperate measures and there I was standing in my kitchen munching down tomatoes.  What on earth was happening?  I was starving and it was the only food in my house that could be eaten post haste without any cooking, preparation or waiting-time involved. There was no extended longing for that moment of sweet delight when your food is done and you nibble on the first mouthful.  No, immediate gratification was what I needed in order to satisfy the monster growing restless and growling from deep within.  But it did not end there.  The monster demanded a further sacrifice.  It demanded I give up my cause.  It demanded I eat... a salad.  Yes, a salad.  complete with leafy green lettuce and carrots, a rabbit couldn't have been happier.  I, the Madder Hatter, the crusader against people eating indigestible rabbit food, succumbed and ate not only two tomatoes but also an entire salad.

I can almost hear myself, that logical side I try so hard to suppress, saying desperate times luv, in a Yorkshire accent of course.  But this does not excuse my behavior.  It is a mere platitude.  Who I am?  What have I become?  There is no going back from what I have done.  What will happen next?  I may be lead inexorably downward.  Next I could be eating dog food, or bird food.  Why stop there?  I could move on to worm food and just eat dirt.  But there is something else about it that is bothering me deep down.  It is the slippery slope to all things bad.

Not only do I feel like I have abandoned my morals (see my struggle with technology) I feel I have also lost my identity.  I am no longer a rampant ruffage destroying, rabbit food protesting rapscallion.  I'm becoming something else. Dare I suggest it, an adult?  Gasp, the reality of such a concept is too horrible to even contemplate for one instant.  The unadulterated boredom of responsible adult life swept over me for the milisecond I even considered considering that thought. Cringe. No, no, that can't be it.  I'm still five.  I must be turning into a rabbit.  You are what you eat, right? I'm sprouting whiskers and a little bob tail, aren't I?  That is the only logical explanation.  I'd better do some research on rabbits next.
Glaring cat guarding rabbit food, or salad, in the fridge
Smart cat guards the rabbit food knowing I must come for it.  He is waiting.  He sees through me.  There is no escape.       Photo Source: flickr by Psyberartist

Monday, 17 September 2012

Calm me down...

Things I hate

Do you ever have days where you simply get tired of being told what to do?  Where a part of you simply snaps?  Where you feel like enduring this treatment for even one more second will cause your blood to literally boil your heart to pound out of your chest and your teeth to grind each other into dust because you've been clenching them that hard? 

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever had to pretend you didn't want to leap from your chair and shove your notebook down someones throat screaming with rage and instead put on a smile? 

Today I had to sit through a meeting pretending I wasn't angry while I was first told all the things I could and couldn't do and then personally attacked for having a different personality and a different way of working.  Never mind that my way works for me and my work gets done and my executives and clients are happy with it.  My way doesn't align with the almighty freaking procedure by which everyone must live and die.

I had to clench my teeth not to say anything upsetting.  Oh, so you think I'll learn to like this thing antithetical to my personality and that I'll magically start thinking the way you do and that your precious organizational system will make sense to me?  Don't touch my systems.  Don't tell me how I must work.  You don't think I've tried overcoming some of my personality quirks?  I'm twenty five and I know what I can and cannot cope with to be productive.  If I wanted to spend my day doing the things you are proposing I would have signed up for a different job.  I was hired to be creative, to think differently and to come up with ideas and content they couldn't imagine.  Don't sit there and tell me what I'm capable of or what I will like.  You have no idea who I am.  When my work starts having problems then you can talk to me.  Until then go fix things that are actually broken and leave me and my working system alone.

Things I love

So now to combat all those negative thoughts I need to think of reasons to be thankful.  Number one, family.  I have an incredible family.  They love me and support me and are there for me always.
2.  I have amazing friends.  Granted they are spread all around the world, but nonetheless.  Come to think of it I am very blessed to have people I love that also love me.
Pub quiz with friends
My friends do silly things like take pub quizzes and bet on how few we can get right.
3.  Food.  I can afford it and I am not starving.  I got some amazing donuts and milk reduced at M&S tonight.
Banoffee Pie
Another great M&S reduced food.  Mmm!
4.  For that matter I should be thankful that my shift allows me to snap up all the reduced foods.  It is cheaper to shop at night this way.
5.  I am thankful that I have a job that pays my bills and therefore I am not homeless.
6.  I'm not homeless.  It's much too cold in this climate to be homeless.
7.  I'm alive.  And I can appreciate the joy and pain of life and all it's beauties.
8.  The world is actually full of beauty.
9.  The world is full of purple.
Purple hat
10.  I live in a city, that although I wouldn't call it historic, is really historic.
Architectural detail on a doorway in Leeds
Random doorway in Leeds
11.  My city actually has some pretty views along the canal
Leeds Canal View: Reflection
Leeds Canal
Leeds Canal View
Leeds Canal
12.  I have good health
13.  The world is full of music.
14.    I can sing any time I want.
15.  I have the chance to do a bit of traveling here and there.  Including to London to visit some of my amazing friends.
Portobello Road sign
Portobello Road view
And yes, I sang the Portobello Road song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks while I walked along this street.
Street painter at the Notting Hill festival in London
Street painter at Notting Hill festival in London

16.  I have time to paint and draw and read for fun
17.  Books.  I am utterly thankful for books.
18.  I am thankful for my kindergarten teachers who valiantly struggled with a stubborn five year old who was convinced she'd never learn how to read and somehow not only taught her how to read but also helped her find a joy in it.  (Though a joy of reading must mostly come from my father, an absolutely voracious reader.)
19.  I am thankful for rainy days reading under snuggly covers.
20.  I am thankful for the written word in general as it allows us to communicate beautiful sentiments, talk to family and friends, express our deepest emotions, and do so with an eloquence denied other forms of communication.
21.  I am thankful for my brain, even if it causes me a few sleepless nights here and there.
22.  I am thankful for flowers and green things generally
23.  I am thankful for umbrellas that keep me dry on my way to work and back
24.  I am thankful for rainboots that allow me to jump in puddles and stay dry.
25.  I am thankful for chocolate.

Really there are a lot of things to be thankful for.  I just need to think about those things and not get all annoyed by trivial things at work.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Who knew Hummus was so hilarious and historical?

Who knew that hummus formed a complete protein when eaten with bread?  Well, certainly not me.  Then again I just found this bit of information on the internet.  Maybe I shouldn't believe the internet.  Afterall, I get paid to write things that go on the internet and we all know I'm mad.  Don't believe me? Well, I just got stuck in a jacket because I somehow managed to zip it up horribly wrong.  I had to wriggle out of it like it was an overly snug sweater.  So maybe I shouldn't be trusted.  And maybe the internet should be trusted even less.

Then again, if hummus and bread are a complete protein that could explain why I've been craving it.  I do not always have the most healthy diet in the world and my body could very well be demanding I feed it proteins, nice healthy complete ones.  Maybe I just need fiber.  Maybe I'm just hungry.  Who knows?

Believe me when I say that I will not be worried about all those crazy words like mono-unsaturates and poly-unsaturates.  And all the other "nutritional" things they throw at you.  I'm not really eating it because I think it's healthy.  And besides that I'll be content with the fact that hummus is high in iron and vitamin C, for that ever troublesome case of land-based scurvy.  (See my earlier opinions on scurvy and broccoli here).

But really, I'm just going to enjoy my hummus with the knowledge that it is a food that the infamous Saladin himself may have eaten.  The ingredients have been consumed in many variations for many years from India all the way to Spain.  Though maybe I shouldn't go into it's history because apparently that's not a safe topic either.  Don't believe me?  Check out the war over hummus.  In reality, hummus is an ancient dish whose history is a bit cloudy.  The earliest recipe for a food similar to hummus appears in a 13th c. cookbook from Cairo.  But it was probably eaten in similar forms for hundreds of years before that.

Hummus is really just the Arabic word for chickpea, which is also known as garbanzo in Spanish.  This one small bean of many aliases was introduced to Western Europe by at least the time of the Romans.  It is believed that the Phoenicians were responsible for this introduction though there is also debate over this fact.  Maybe I like chickpeas (and hummus) because I am secretly a Phoenician.  My reasons for entertaining this fantasy belong in another post.  Maybe I like chickpeas because they have been causing culinary chaos since the thirteenth century and now are the cause of political struggles.  I may have a thing for rebellious foods.  Or maybe I just like them because I like the way they taste.

The reason why I like hummus will probably always remain a mystery, but now you and I know a few more random facts about hummus and it's history.  Unless you are a genius or food enthusiast and already knew all these things; it's possible.  Either way, go enjoy hummus for all it's glorious history and hilarious upheaval.