I am addicted to cooking shows, especially the competition ones, but I know I’d never survive against a timeclock and a group of cutthroat competitors. For a while, I was also addicted to the show The Chew on ABC, a daytime multi-host show about food, cooking, home, entertaining.
One of the recurring segments on the show, at least when I was last watching, was with Carla Hall, called Can You Blend This?
She’d take a bunch of weird leftovers, blend them together, and make her cohosts taste it. Interesting faces were made. Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes definitely no.
As a vegetarian, I always wanted more vegetarian alternatives, or at least not to be made fun of. Then I went vegan, and I felt totally left out of the Food Network world!
My dream is to have a segment called Can I Vegan That? But I’ve never made a video before.
Here is my trial run. Clearly, I need to up the production values. A second person to hold the iPhone would be nice! Bob was taking a nap until the end; I was on my own. Until cats develop opposable thumbs, I’m without assistance. And someone (not a cat, thanks) to do hair and makeup would be even better!
Brownies, not a huge challenge, but an easy one to start off with and I happened to have the ingredients and a sweet tooth. Next up? I’m open to suggestions.
So, grab some non-GMO popcorn and turn down the lights. Here we go:
Can you stalk someone who is no longer alive? I’ve become entranced/fascinated/obsessed with Thomas Wolfe since I brought him up in Look Homeward, Angel, or Things Thomas Wolfe Said. I go through crushes with writers. I’ll become intrigued, learn everything I can about said writer, read everything they wrote, watch every movie made about them or based on their books, until I’ve exhausted the possibilities. Then I move on to the next crush.
I now follow the Thomas Wolfe Society on Facebook. My queue on Audible.com contains whatever they have (and as much as I like the writer Tom Wolfe, it’s Thomas that’s the subject of my interest).
I saw a post on the Thomas Wolfe Society Facebook page about the movie Genius (Don’t Believe the Haters: In Defense of ‘Genius’), starring Colin Firth as editor Max Perkins and Jude Law as Thomas Wolfe. The post is a defense of the movie, which apparently had detractors. I had never heard of the movie (have I mentioned that rock I seem to live under?). I had to see it. Why? It’s about Thomas Wolfe, and it stars the amazing Colin Firth, handsome Jude Law, always good Laura Linney, and Ice Queen Nicole Kidman. I am not so crazy about Kidman, but in this movie her demeanor and style seem to fit the character, Aline Bernstein, a woman who succeeded in the then male-dominated world of theater set and costume design and could be said to have had a “tumultuous” relationship with Wolfe.
I found an interesting post on History vs. Hollywood that compares the actors to the characters they played in the film. What is really interesting to me is that this is a predominantly English cast, in a movie filmed in England, about an iconic American writer from the South and the story is mostly set in New York. Dominic West, who I thought was American the whole time I watched The Wire, portrays Ernest Hemingway. Guy Pearce is a convincingly pained and troubled F. Scott Fitzgerald. Why do the Brits appreciate this literary heritage more than most Americans?
Fitzgerald was one of my crushes. I went through a fascination with Hemingway the man, but never got so much into his writing. Yes, I appreciate his style and way with words, but I’m not so much into his subject choices. Fitzgerald totally appeals to me: handsome and troubled with a beautiful, crazy Southern Belle wife.
This was in my freshman year of college, and in my American Literature class with Professor Robert L. Casebeer (real name) in 1980 I wrote many a paper about Fitzgerald.
Before that, in high school, I went through a serious John Steinbeck phase. I still love his books. I admit to being a total wallflower nerd in high school. I spent a lot of time in my room, drawing and painting and reading and sewing my own weird clothes. No surprise I was never asked to the prom, much less on a date.
I’ve been through similar obsessive phases with the English writers Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisted) and John Galsworthy (The Forsyte Saga).
Evelyn Waugh, Aged 26, from the portrait by Henry Lamb in the collection of Lord Moyne. Cr: Little, Brown & Co. Memo-hardcopy: 38304
Lest you think it’s only male writers that I stalk, I’ve been through my Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) phase and an Agatha Christie (1890-1976) phase as well.
I first became fascinated with Thomas Wolfe back in the 1990s. I got to Wolfe through a desire to live in Asheville, North Carolina. Musically, I was in a David Wilcox phase, and he is (was?) based in Asheville. I was also in my museums career phase, and figured there would be a job for me at the Biltmore Estate. I applied for several jobs, but it’s hard to get an interview when you live 3,000 miles away!
And it was my obsession with Asheville that got me to Thomas Wolfe, native son.
There are so many connections I could go into–Paris in the 1920s, where so many artists and writers (the so-called Lost Generation), including Wolfe, spent time. A good account of this is Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast. And one day I will make a pilgrimage to legendary Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, central to that time and that generation.
But meanwhile, I’ll be listening to the audiobook version of Look Homeward, Angel and dreaming of different times and places.
I’ve tried several times over the years to get myself into mindfulness and meditation through classes and workshops, and I always felt like a failure.
My best experience was last year through the Kaiser Behavioral Health department in Oakland. The class, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, is an 8-week program and includes a day-long silent retreat. What, a day of silence? How is that possible? Could I stand it? Would I go nuts? It was actually pretty awesome! Our instructor was a lovely gentleman named Charlie Johnson, and just the sound of his voice leading us through our practices soothed my nerves. Being in the old Julia Morgan building that used to be the ominously named The King’s Daughters Home for Incurables on Broadway in Oakland lent a certain je ne sais quoi.
But I don’t practice at home. At least not deliberately. I’ve found that I achieve mindfulness in my own ways, not from sitting quietly with my eyes closed. When I do that, I end up with a dog in my face, a cat on my head, and a fit of the giggles.
This is about yoga, but you get the idea.
Now that I am in my post-retirement second career (I love saying that) working at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation I am not nearly as stressed out as I used to be. And part of the reason is oddly enough, given my yoga and meditation animal interference references, because I work with animals. Animals reduce my stress. Since I’ve been fostering cats and kittens, I find myself at the end of every day just sitting on the floor in the room with the fosters, usually in my pajamas, letting kittens crawl all over me. It’s the best!
I often think of our kitchen as my happy place, cooking as a way to decompress. It’s a form of mindfulness for me. I found out that there is a term for it: culinary therapy. According to one article in Psychology Today:
“Now culinary therapy is the treatment du jour at a growing number of mental health clinics and therapists’ offices. It’s being used as part of the treatment for a wide range of mental and behavioral health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction.”
“Many cooks know what a sanctuary the kitchen can be.
Now, some health-care clinics and counselors are using cooking or baking as therapy tools for people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental-health problems.”
This got me thinking about other things that are forms of mindfulness for me. Reading, definitely. Not the “oh my god I have to read this for school NOW” kind of reading, but curled up with a good book and being immersed in a story reading.
Another wonderful class I took at Kaiser, in Vallejo (I lived in Napa at the time), was one called Phobease, taught by Dr. Fear, aka Dr. Howard Liebgold (see Falling in love with frogs). He describes cortical shifting as a way to alleviate anxiety. A great example is singing while driving; I hate driving but singing while driving keeps me calmer. As long as I get to choose the music. And I keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road.
If you are interested, check out his book Freedom from Fear: Overcoming Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic.
“In Freedom from Fear, Dr. Howard Liebgold, M.D., a psychiatrist who overcame a claustrophobic condition that lasted 31 years, reveals the techniques that he has used to help thousands of patients to conquer their fears. In the course of just a few weeks, everyone suffering from acute phobias will learn simple but powerful methods for the cure of their symptoms and how to stop panic attacks. Finally, even the most anxiety-ridden will learn the strategies and coping mechanisms to gently and safely overcome devastating, constricting fears or obsessive compulsive behaviors. By following this ten-week, step-by-step program, readers will learn to: – Understand the nature of phobias- Design a personalized strategy to conquer their fears- Understand and practice non-avoidance- Develop a mutual support system- Follow sound nutrition and exercise practices- Master relaxation techniques- Freedom from Fear is the first book on phobias written by a physician who suffered and recovered from crippling phobias.”
Now I have to go cook up something (I also like cooking while listening to audiobooks, combining two of my go-to therapies). But first I have to go to the store. And if someone can figure out mindfulness through grocery shopping, let me know!
I don’t usually post on the blog two days in a row, but I have a lot on my mind, as do many of us. My blogpost from yesterday (Why isn’t there any tofu in The Hunger Games?) got lost in the excitement of the US elections, but I did happen to mention the similarity between a Trump presidency (gag) and The Hunger Games. I hope I’m wrong.
While there is a part of me that wants to flee the country (any Norwegian language tutors out there?) or just pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for four years, the rest of me is looking for motivation to keep moving forward and keep working for change in the world. My kind of change, not his.
In order to get myself moving today, I’m making a mental list of all of the reasons it’s still a world worth fighting for and things I have to be grateful for:
The sun is shining today where I live.
I live in a blue state.
I have a job that I love.
I have a roof over my head.
I know many people who feel like I do and we aren’t going to spend four years sitting on our asses crying and complaining; we’re going to stand by our commitment to make the world a better place.
Did I mention kittens?
There are plenty of books to read when I do want to sit on my ass and cry.
I have plenty of healthy food options and water to drink. Don’t take that for granted! If we enter The Hunger Games, I live in one of the better districts.
Puppies (hey, I am not a speciesist). And squirrels. I love squirrels.
Coffee. Gonna need lots of it!
Chocolate. See coffee.
And I live in a country where I am (at least for now) able to disagree, dissent, protest. People around the world give their lives for that right. And I plan to exercise it.
So, anyone got that recommendation for a good pair of vegan walking shoes? I am going to need them for the protests I’ll be going on.
I figure I won’t survive any kind of zombie apocalypse. Not even sure I’d want to!
I’d try to save my pets, but really I’d be a goner.
And the dystopian future of The Hunger Games? Definitely not my cup of almond milk latte.
I’m a peaceful person who spends most of my waking hours (and sleeping too sometimes) surrounded by cats and dogs and visions of sugar plums (if they were made of dark chocolate).
I have been a vegan for about 1-1/2 years, vegetarian before that since 1995 and on and off vegetarian for years since about 1975. A teenage phase at the time maybe, but it did eventually stick. I’m also a very non-confrontational, shall we say pacifist, introvert with people-pleasing tendencies. I would not survive the arena or the zombie horde.
The only thing vegan I can recall from The Hunger Games is the nightlock berries that will kill you in a gruesome way if ingested. What is author Suzanne Collins’ problem with fruits and vegetables, anyway?
So why have I been obsessed with reading the trilogy of The Hunger Games books recently?
Or maybe it’s for the same mysterious reason that I watch shows like Making a Murderer, or that seemingly normal people like horror movies. It’s disturbing, yet we can’t stay away. They access some part of our emotions that perhaps makes us feel better about our own lives. I don’t know.
I also like sad songs and melancholy singer songwriters. And movies that make me cry? Yes, please!
From left, the earliest movies I can think of that made me cry: All Mine to Give (1957), The Yearling (1946), and Shenandoah (1965). I watched a lot of late night television when I was a growing up in the 60s and 70s.
And of course, by the time I was watching Tom La Brie’s late night movie choices, I was in my first vegetarian phase. Which brings me back to tofu. It’s delicious! All you tofu haters out there, have you ever even eaten tofu?
But maybe I would survive the zombie apocalypse precisely because I eat tofu! Hmmm. Guess what happened when I Googled vegan and zombie?
As part of my doctoral program at Saybrook University, I am taking a class entitled Humanistic Foundations of Organizational Development. I am enjoying the class tremendously, and learning about some inspiring and relevant thinkers, such as Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire (1921-1997), author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of If God Were a Human Rights Activist.
In collaboration with my fellow Humane Education specialization students Suzy Fisher and Jennifer Elfenbein for a class project, we created this video about our educational program and the Institute for Humane Education, through which we do core coursework. It’s a labor of love, and we are quite proud of it. Please watch, and if it makes you think, we’ve done our job!
Hi, my name is Genevieve, and I’m a Crazy Cat Lady.
Yes. I admit it.
Now that you’ve gasped in surprise, let’s talk about where this label comes from; how Crazy became part of the equation when a woman loves cats.
The Urban Dictionary definition of Cat Lady is my favorite:
And what about a man who loves cats?
One of my favorite books as a child (and still as an adult) was Harriet the Spy.
And one of the characters she spies on is a MAN who has an apartment full of CATS.
“When Harriet was all through with her dinner and bundled off to bed, she began to think of Harrison Withers and all his cats. Harrison Withers lived on Eighty-second at the top of a dilapidated rooming house. He had two rooms, one for him and one for the cats. In his room, he had a bed, a chair, and a work table at which he made birdcages, and a whole wall of birdcage-making tools. In the other room, there was nothing but the cats. In the kitchen there was one glass, one cup, and twenty-six plates all stacked up.”
I have a room just for cats too. The foster cats I bring in from the East Bay SPCA. They stay as long as they need to, then go back to the shelter to get ready for adoptions and then to forever homes. Is that crazy? Okay, the room is a mess, but it’s for a good cause. Look at momma cat Yuki and her babies!
Yes, I own more than one dress made out of a cat-print fabric.
But I am a relatively normal, articulate, coherent person who functions in life, unlike the Crazy Cat Lady (Eleanor Abernathy) on The Simpsons, who does crack me up even if I question the cat tossing as part of the cat ladiness.
I own a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure (thanks, Bob). My hair does sometimes look like that, and I have a penchant for wearing a stretched out gray cardigan sweater over my bathrobe (see Tim Gunn and Ruby Dee walk into a bar…). But it is warm and comfortable, and great for kitten snuggling.
I love dogs too. In fact I love all animals. Except maybe banana slugs, which give me the creeps. But I stay out of their slow-moving way.
There is a dog who lives with us. You might have met him. Einstein. He has his own Facebook page, and being a tireless self-promoter, he requested I put a link to it here so he can get more followers.
In Japan, the maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, is a good luck charm.
The whole negative spin on women and cats came about with the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum in 1487. Also known as Hammer of Witches, it was your guidebook to identifying witches, who could then be tortured, burned at the stake, etc. Because we wouldn’t want any independent-thinking women running around. (Remind you of a current someone with his Nasty Woman comment?) This was during the Reign of Terror of religious persecution in Europe. Not good times. A good clue to identifying a witch–her association with cats. I guess I’d have been burned at the stake. It didn’t go well for the accused cats, either.
Well, I think these days, Crazy Cat Ladies and Nasty Women are turning their pejorative titles into positive ones.
And in the United States we might just end up with a presidential spouse (First Gentleman?) who happens to like cats, too.
I shall leave you with these awesome images of real men who love cats. If you want to call them Crazy Cat Men, go right ahead.
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Robert De Niro and cat Lil Bub attend the Directors Brunch during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)