I’d Rather Wear Fur

Fur2

IMAGE: ADMIRAL (2008)

What I miss most living in Florida, is fur.  A Florida winter doesn’t allow us to put our bathing suits away even during the “R” months, beaches are still packed and the eye of heaven shines at 85 degrees— even in December.

But when thinking of more proper winters, I think of fur.  It’s one of those natural commodities of which even the most exquisite man-made replica falls far from comparable. The silky delicate strands of varying hues of brown, black, auburn, or beige are lustrous to the eye and delightful to the touch.  Being wrapped in fur, in the midst of a blizzard is comforting, like having a second skin.

One of my most memorable encounters with fur was during my toddler years.  We lived in Ukraine and had a couple of spare bedrooms upstairs.  My mom stored her winter stuff in one of the extra closets.  No one really went up there, but once in a while, I snuck up to explore.

This day, I find myself in the closet. The lights are out of my reach so I fumble around in the dark. I feel my way through the closet when suddenly I feel something. The thing sends cold chills down my spine. It feels alive. I peer through the shadows, our eyes meet— I scream and dart out of the closet screaming something about wild animals at the tip of my five-year-old lungs.

My mom runs upstairs, more frightened than I. Tongue twisted and in disarray, I try to explain that there is a wild beast inside of the closet.  She’s confused because the only animal we ever had was the guard dog, on a chaint— outside. The dog never set paw into the house, he was mean. He bit anyone who trespassed him, he was a genuine, barking-slobbering, guard dog and the presence of any other beast inside of the house was unlikey.

My mom starts asking things, I just point to the closet. She steps in, turns on the lights.

Cautiously, I follow.

She looks around. Spots the wild beast and begins to laugh. The terror who frightened me is neatly hanging from a hanger. My mom’s fox collar. Fox collars with the head still intact were the thing back then and she had the beautiful Russian fox sandwiched between other coats with it head landing directly at my eye level.

I don’t know where the fox is now, but my encounter is ever with me. That is still how I feel about fur, frightened, but enamored. I mean the thing came from an animal and all the controversy surrounding that is a little frightening, but the beauty and texture are captivating.

These days, fur causes all sorts of commotion amid humanitarians, but it wasn’t about animal cruelty for us, it was about staying warm in the winter. Ukrainian winters are no joke and that’s what we wore, that’s what everyone wore since the beginning of time. I know the whole animal cruelty thing can get brutal, but all of the politics aside, still— I’d rather wear fur.

 

A Friend is a Gift— Not a Choice

Molly

photo | molly herron

I’m sitting down with a blank card and a pen, but my thoughts wander from the task at hand.  The task is a pleasant one; I’m to write a birthday wish to my friend for the fourteenth time.  We’ve been friends for that long and that’s what baffles me.  Why is she my friend, why my best friend?

I never set out to have a best friend.  The concept didn’t fit my life at all.  I grew up with brothers always there, our friends and cousins mutually intertwined.  We were connected to each other like grapes on a vine, forming a conglomerate friendship of many.  It never occurred to me that one friend should shine above the rest because the whole lot was the friend I needed.

Then I moved and the grapevine broke.  Sometimes we’d reunite and pick up where we left off, but the space between the times apart and the moment of reunion left many gaps in our friendship because we missed the growth in each other.  As life went on I moved, again and again, I traveled, got involved in different things, worked different jobs and made friends along the way.  But the same thing happened.  Once the job was over or distance slid between, we got acquaintance-zoned.

It’s not so, with my best friend.  Distance parted us when we lived on opposite sides of the country and in separate nations.  There were times when we got involved in unrelated things, had diverse interests, lived in different circles and were seemingly different beings.

Somehow the closeness never broke.  Miles did not shield our growth from each other.  I saw her changing perspectives, reformed ideas, and evolving beliefs.  I watched her relationships blossom and wither.  No matter how different our lives were or how far we lived from each other— it was as if she was right there.  She never went further than close, even while trotting on the opposite side of the world.

This is what baffles me.  I’ve connected with hundreds of people throughout my life, but when so many bonds decapitate, why is this one resilient?

Some say that we choose our friends.  But that doesn’t seem true— or rather not true in the way the statement implies.

I don’t think that a lifelong friend is a choice, at least not the sort of choice we make when we add something into our shopping cart.  The only choice we have is to accept or reject.  Like when a gift is presented to us, we choose to either take it, or decline it.  We don’t choose the gift— we don’t choose the friend.

So in the end, my birthday wish is this continued friendship— forever.

Happy Birthday, Molly.

Just Drive | The Message Band

You know those moments when you just want to drive?  Really fast to go nowhere, or somewhere.

Really fast to go nowhere, or somewhere. I’m driving over the Skyway Bridge going nowhere. Windows open, sun glistening. Florida is good for this sort of winter’s drive.

My mp3 is on shuffle and a song I’ve not heard in ages goes on.  I turn it up enough to swallow the sounds of the road and listen to the Russian words, skipping in and out the swirling rhythm of, Унеси Mеня by The Message Band

.  It’s magical.

Something like:

Dreams of you and I, like birds flying through the open skies. Take me to the place my heart desires, where there’s no grief. Fly me there, I want to soar. Help me lift these wings etched with faith to rise above my earthly cares and reach that place…la-la-la, la-la.

When it comes to poetry, Russian is impossible to translate to English without killing it completely. English words aren’t pliable enough to relay both melody and meaning so I’m not even going to try to translate this song, but if you could just thel lyrics the way they’re meant to be heard!

The Message is a group of Belarusian musicians based out of Clearwater, Florida.  If you or anyone you know speaks Russian, check out their music.

And just as a side note, I had the opportunity to contribute lyrics for one of their songs in their last album: Мысли Чувства Слова (Thoughts Feelings Words) check it out!

Check them out at: Website  |  ITunes  |  Google Play

WRITE MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS NOTES FOR THEM TO CHERISH

Melanie Rodriguez Girl with HatPHOTO | MELANIE RODRIGUEZ | ♡ HER WORK

Christmas is just around the corner and as I was thinking of ways to make it meaningful, I had an opportunity to share a post on SheKnows, where I offered tips on how to write thoughtful notes to the people we cherish.
At the end of the season, people don’t really remember all of those things we spend so much time on, sometimes they even forget the gifts they received.  However, what we all remember are the words that moved us to feel something or to bring us closer to each other.  Why not make words a priority this Christmas?  You can follow the link below to get the full post:
Write a Memorable Christmas Note People will Cherish for Years
I hope you find time to think about the people that make your life worth living and before the Christmas hustle begins, write something meaningful that will stay with them forever.

Cinnamon: A Spice to Make Blood Sugar Nice

Vicente Villamón

Photo | Vicente Villamón | Thank you (via CC)

Cinnamon is the spice that makes sugar act nice.  I don’t like too many sugary things, but I do love honey.  For years I’ve been adding cinnamon and cardamom into raw honey and mixing it really well with a fork to create, what may be, the greatest sweetener of all time.  I had no idea that cinnamon balances blood sugar, but that detail turns this honey concoction into a super food.

This reddish spice derived from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree was used since the beginning of time.  Not to its credit— but the Proverbs 7 woman did perfume her bed with it.  Moses used it, the Greeks and Romans were over this spice. Cinnamon was added to ancient Chinese and Indian medicines for ages.

There are two varieties of cinnamon: cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) is the stronger, sweeter type which is generally preferred in the US, Europe, China and Southeast Asia; and what is known as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) which is used in Mexico, Latin America, and South Asia.  But let’s talk about cassia.

Healing Qualities

A lot of research supports the effects of cinnamon.  It is proven to treat and prevent disorders like: cholesterol problems, Diabetes type 2 (not type 1), food poisoning, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), insulin resistance (prediabetes), metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, high triglycerides, yeast infections and a few other things I don’t know much about.

Diabetes type 2 is a drastic problem in the US caused by chronically high blood sugar which attacks arteries and veins and increases the risk of heart disease and leads to many problems.  Nerve damage, skin ulcers, vision loss, blindness, kidney failure and in critical situations choked blood flow leads to amputation of gangrenous toes, feet and lower limbs(Aggarwal and Yost 80).  It’s unspeakable but common.  Thus, thinking about our blood sugar is something that we should all do from time to time.

Preventative Qualities

But it’s not just for problem-solving.  Cinnamon is great for us, even at the peak of health because it prevents elevated glucose and blood lipid levels.  Swedish researchers found that it lowers blood sugar levels after a meal and then helps to process and store glucose (Aggarwal and Yost 81).

And let’s not forget the delightful, warming flavor and that smell.  Cinnamon smells like the holidays.  It doesn’t have to be consumed daily, but the spice is the simplest way to counterbalance some of the effects of sugar when we have more sweets on our tables.  Maybe that’s why it’s such hit around the holidays.

How to Use It

The quills can be used to infuse flavor for liquid dishes or beverages.  Ground cinnamon is used for baking and sprinkling on things.  It’s most fragrant when freshly ground, but since the quills are tough, grinding them requires a really good spice grinder so it may be easier to buy it ground.

It pairs well with:

  • Fruit, especially apples and bananas and dried fruits.
  • Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes, zucchini, rutabaga, and carrots
  • Baked goods: pies, muffins, zucchini bread, banana-breads, oatmeal cookies, etc.
  • Breakfast foods: oatmeal and French toast.
  • Hot beverages: spiced teas, Masala chai, spiced wine, hot cocoa and even coffee.
  • Honey: Mix it into honey with cardamom and nutmeg.

I wish you a Happy, Spicey, and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Sources

Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Debora Yost. Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. New York: Sterling Pub., 2011. Print.