March 7th, 2006

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The Ides of March hold no fear for me.

I feel well this morning. Suddenly all the news is exciting. I learn today that hospitals are perking up their menus. In California, some even serve wine. Dental floss can be used for all sorts of things like cleaning the crevices in wooden furniture legs, (of course, I have no wooden furniture legs) hanging pictures, and sewing on buttons. It can also be used to get out of jail. One prisoner cut through the steel of a wire-link fence with floss and toothpaste. More importantly, according to Dr. William Mayo of the Mayo clinic, "Daily plaque control can add ten years to your life." So, I guess we all will floss our teeth today.

I love this article on using fudge to study lava, and now, I understand why ice cubes leap to melt in Scotch.

It is fun to experiment with food and liquid, and learning stirs there too. Happy ingesting. I will enjoy the "infusion center" in just this way too.

Joy to you! Happily do, and rest!

Visual Lesson on Lava Spares No Calories

Published: March 7, 2006

To learn about different types of lava, make a few batches of fudge.

THROUGH A MICROSCOPE Sugar crystals in thinly sliced fudge, left, look like the mineral crystals in basalt. Stirring and cooling affect the number and size of crystals.

Or so an instructor in an upper-level volcanology class at the University of British Columbia told her students last semester.

Real lava is impractical to take into the classroom — not to mention searingly hot. So geology professors often look for more amenable materials to use for demonstrating geological concepts.

Various foodstuffs are a common choice.

"They're readily available," said the instructor, Alison Rust, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. "They're cheap. They're nontoxic. I don't have to worry about spills."

All the students had to work on a project. Most opted for library research. But a group of four approached Dr. Rust and asked for a hands-on experiment. She told them to make fudge.

Fudge is like lava in that the crystallization of sugar is similar to the way minerals grow as lava cools. Basaltic lava, the type that erupts out of Hawaiian volcanoes, contains relatively low amounts of silicate minerals, allowing it to flow quickly and smoothly over long distances.

Fudge, when stirred too little — the stirring induces the formation of crystals — resembles a type of lava called pahoehoe (pronounced pah-HOY-hoy). Its surface looks silky smooth, but its texture is unpleasantly gritty and coarse, because the sugar crystals, while few, have grown large.

When the fudge is stirred too long as it cools, the sugar crystals shear against one another. The end product tastes better, but it has a rough, broken surface that resembles another type of lava, 'a'a lava. (Pahoehoe and 'a'a, pronounced ah-ah, both come from Hawaiian words.) The students also made fudge with marshmallows and nuts to simulate rock fragments caught up in the lava.

They then cut slices of the fudge a fraction of an inch thick and looked at them under a microscope to examine the size and shape of the sugar crystals.

"Many of the results we got in the experiments were what is observed in real basaltic flows," a student, Concetta Gulluni, said.

Dr. Rust performed her own fudge experiments. In December, she and two other geologists, Kathy Cashman, Dr. Rust's doctoral adviser at the University of Oregon, and Heather Wright, one of Dr. Cashman's current graduate students, presented the experiments at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The poster session, which resembled a science fair for professional scientists, was dedicated to innovative lecture demonstrations.

The scientists found that adding extra corn syrup prevented crystals from forming at all, and the candy ended up more like taffy than fudge.

"I think it was the most rewarding poster I've ever done," Dr. Rust said. (If you want to do the fudge experiments yourself, a recipe and an explanation of how to vary it is available at

Dr. Rust said she had also experimented with cornstarch, corn syrup and applesauce. "It's not really out of the blue," she said. "We're using it for our serious research, too."

For her doctoral research at the University of Oregon, she ordered 1,200 pounds of corn syrup as an analog to the melted silicates found in basaltic lava. She blew bubbles into the syrup to study how gases trapped in magma changed how it flowed. Applesauce also turns out to share some properties with magma, and cornstarch mixed with water acts like a solid when hit with, say, a hammer, but also flows — much as rocks deep underground look solid, but are flowing slowly.

Nearby, at the same meeting session in December, Mark Jellinek, a colleague of Dr. Rust at the University of British Columbia, poured various liqueurs and other liquids into plastic cups to demonstrate the concept of convection. His poster title asked "The Earth: Kinda Like a Mai Tai?"

To onlookers, Dr. Jellinek, a professor of earth and ocean sciences and a former bartender, asked, "If you order two cocktails — one is a Coke with ice and the other is Scotch with ice — in which one does ice melt faster and why?"

After fielding guesses about carbonation and evaporation rates, Dr. Jellinek explained: "You have an ice cube, and the ice cube is in contact with water or alcohol. The first thing to realize is the ice is melting because there is heat transfer from the water to the ice."

Colder water is denser, so water from a melting cube sinks, stirring up warmer water, which causes the ice cube to continue melting. Alcohol, however, is less dense than water, so the water from the cube sinks faster in the Scotch, stirring the water more vigorously and causing the ice cube to melt more quickly.

Dr. Jellinek then dropped two ice chips, roughly the same size, one into a cup of water, the other into Bell's Scotch Whiskey. "The main thing is what's coming off the bottom is superfast," Dr. Jellinek said, pointing to the ice and Scotch. "Just in the last 30 seconds, this guy is now 30 percent smaller than the one in the water."

Similar processes occur as crystals grow or melt in magmas, Dr. Jellinek said.

He poured some rum into another plastic cup followed by skim milk. A plume of lighter rum rose and spread out quickly over the surface, drawing up more rum from below. The liquids mixed quickly, causing the alcohol to evaporate.

Into another cup, he poured rum and half-and-half. In this cup, the plume of rising rum could not push the cream — clumped together by fat particles — out of the way.

"The motion stops at the edge of this white stuff," Dr. Jellinek said. "This is only stirring only as far as the cream lets it."

Dr. Jellinek performs this demonstration in teaching his geological fluid dynamics class to show how the composition of different materials affects their motions. "Plate tectonics is one good example," he said. "How do you break plates?"

When he was done, he handed the cups of cream and rum to one of the listeners.

"These taste good," Dr. Jellinek said.
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thougts -

Today, I read an editorial in the New York Times on the damage Bush has done by his trip to India and Pakistan. It truly is hard for me to understand the motivation of this man. He does not want world peace. He does not want to take care of the environment. What motivates him? What inspires? Is he here to help the rest of us feel even more clearly how much other people, animals, plants, and rocks matter to us? He certainly provides a contrast from which to push.

Ah, we had heavy rain this morning, then, a dash of sun, and now, fog wisps across the valley as dark clouds stand watch overhead. I take refuge in nature, and all of you. I feel my support!!

A beautiful day to all, aided by the joyful rejoicing of flossed teeth. : )
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Morning poem -

the morning of my last chemo treatment


A sense of excitement!

I dress carefully and well.
I wrap around my wrist,
a pink breast cancer watch,
and a healing bracelet with beads
of Jade,
African Jade,
Yellow Jade,
Averturine Red,
and Jasper.
I’m cozy in a thick white turtleneck sweater,
scented with Ralph Lauren Romance,
and accented with a blue and gold waterfall,
flowing around and from my neck. 
A rose-quartz angel fits in my pocket.
I feel fresh, clean, ready
to infuse my veins.
My skin has continued to soften,
my eyes to open. 
The slow-growing cells thank me this morning
for this chance to grow and explore.
They feel honored.
The fast will come back, or not.
The tortoise is out of the shell,
has learned
to hop.  


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How could words describe such a day -

I feel so blessed. My nurses gave me a graduation ceremony, and a certificate signed by each one of them. I hugged each one, and I cried. I realized this morning that what I am most proud of in my life is my marriage to Steve, and my sons, Jeff and Chris, and now, this. That I made it through - I am very proud of this. I had talkative neighbors today, and it was good. Two were young, in their early forties, and with young children. One man's son, who is thirteen, came in to visit his dad. It was really touching. We all talked about the gift of this. For some, it means four to six months of not working, and we spoke of the gift of having this over the winter, and now, it becomes spring. My tree still has no leaves, but the front Zen garden is now complete, as is the Meditation garden. Soon, the front walk will be done too. It seems I am not the only one hearing the building sounds as soothing.

I have my Certificate of Achievement here next to me. I am remembering now how I felt when I learned from Karen I was a Rosen practitioner. I remember the ceremony where I spoke. School always came easily for me, so I never felt any accomplishment there, but I knew the Rosen training was something entirely new - 10% skill and learning, and 90% art. That allowance and honoring of intuition for me was a great gift. I was proud of that, and proud of the graduation paper I wrote. I'm not sure I felt stretched before that. I worked for it. It mattered to me. This matters to me too. I want to be here. Time has expanded in the doing of this. I am soothed, and I truly feel I will be here for a long time more, and with this expanding of time, no matter how it goes, I will be here for a long time. Each moment is an eternity.

The man next to me today said how he had always been such a private person, and now, he is sharing himself. He is trusting his voice, speaking out. He always read what others had to say, not believing he had anything valuable to say. Now, he sees he does. When I am tired, I just put a whole article on for you to read, but I have come to see that you appreciate when I offer my comments on what I read. You want my voice there, too.

He, his name is Mark, said he has learned to receive in this. He wants to simplify his life, spent more time traveling and with his family, and he is grateful for the gift of learning to receive. I agree. I hope I have expressed all this to you, that you have given me the gift of learning to receive.

Today, is a great celebration for me. I realize it IS a graduation. The graduation song they sang is exactly right. Actually, I think they kind of hummed it, but it was clear. Who could not cry at all the blessings I have received? Thank you for filling my bouquet.
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tid-bits -

Jessica, the nurse practitioner, said even though I am on antibiotics, I can have a glass of wine tonight. Yay!!

The needle was first inserted in a small vein, which got tired, and so, would not take anymore. The drip stopped. They tried it on the left side of my hand-wrist, and then, the right. That took an extra 30 minutes and yet it all was okay. Perhaps that is another gift of this. I find myself saying over and over again, well, what else would I be doing. What am I rushing toward? And that is not to say I wasn't watching the clock like a hawk today, and counting the minutes, and then, the seconds until I was done, but I do think I have a broader holding of each moment. I hope so.

Steve picked me up and we went out to eat. He took time off, a big deal for Steve, and, now, we each must check our emails, of course, and I do go back tomorrow for the shot, and I know I have some rough days ahead, but I am greeting them differently this time. I feel myself really digging in new soil, and adding compost, and knowing the flowers are coming to light. Spring truly is come, though I hear we may get snow again this weekend on the mountains. By my recollection, that will be the third time in the last few weeks. It is quite the year.
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more thoughts -

The man next to me today, Mark used the word "surreal" for this experience. He had been, is still, young and healthy, and suddenly, like that, he had surgery and was in chemo. He feels his life has changed over this winter. All of us there today, in our little section, agreed. We have been given a gift. He used the word resurrection. It feels true. I feel resurrected.

Yesterday, when I was in my "dark night and dark forest of the soul," I decided to read Leo Tolstoy's story, "The Death of Ivan Ilych." If you haven't read it, it is quite something. I will give you some of the last lines from the story.

First, the set-up is that he tries to ask for forgiveness for what he missed in life.   The word forgiveness, though, comes out, "Forego."  He "waved his hand, knowing that He whose understanding mattered would understand."

"And suddenly it grew clear to him that what had been oppressing him and would not leave him was all dropping away at once from two sides, from ten sides, and from all sides."

"How good and simple!" he thought.  "And the pain?" he asked himself.  "What has become of it?  Where are you pain?"

"He turned his attention to it."

"Yes, here it is.  Well,  what of it?  Let the pain be."   "And death .... where is it?"

"He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. "Where is it?  What death?"  There was no fear because there was no death. In place of death there was light."

"So that's what it is!" he suddenly exclaimed aloud.  "What joy!"

"Death is finished," he said to himself.  "It is no more!"

Ah, what wonderful words to light my soul.    The trees are companions for me.  I see by the light of your eyes in me.   Thank you for guiding, enriching, and accompanying me on my journey.   Celebrate the light!
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the hippo and the tortoise -

I have put this on the blog before, but it comes again today, and it is so beautiful, I am placing it here again, especially since this day is my day of honoring the tortoise and it's grace, wisdom, and poise. If you haven't goggled this story, to see the photos, do so. They are amazingly beautiful, touching and sweet.

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said. The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him. "It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP. "After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added. "The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained. This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter much when we need the comfort of another. We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures.Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together.
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Poem by Mary Karr


by Mary Karr


In the back’s low hollow sometimes
a weightless hand guides me, gentle pressure
so I tack soft as a sailboat. (Go there)

Soften the space between your eyes (smudge
of eucalyptus), the third eye
opens. There’s the wide vermilion sky

that cradled us before birth,
and the sun pours its golden sap
to preserve me like His precious insect.

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Humor -

The Atlantic Monthly | April 2006

How to Shampoo in French

A reference guide

by Con Chapman


Forget Iraq, Derrida, and Jerry Lewis. It’s time to turn our attention to the principal remaining obstacle to Franco-American understanding: French shampoo labels.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re in the shower at a beach or ski house, someone is knocking on the door for his or her turn, and you find that your hostess, worldly sophisticate that she is, has stocked the bathroom with hair-care products from the nation that thinks snails are snacks.

When told to Moussez, nettoyez et répétez, l’un quel est pour faire? (What is one to do?)

You, dear reader, are in luck. The author took two years of French in high school, and most of a semester in college. What follows is a handy reference guide that, if properly laminated, you can take into the shower with you to avoid using the conditioner before the shampoo and spending the rest of your getaway weekend looking like your hair was flattened down with walrus fat. Commençons (Let us begin) our deconstruction of la bouteille typique de shampooing (the typical shampoo bottle).

Un Système nettoyant ultra doux, spécialement conçu pour protéger la longévité et l’éclat des cheveux colorés,” begins the tiny text on the back of a leading brand of shampoo Français.

French thinkers are systematic, and their approach to shampooing is no exception. This introductory phrase, literally translated, means that the shampoo you are about to use is part of an ultra-sweet cleaning system that is specially conceived for old protégées who eat pastries on colored horses. So far, so good.

The shampoo reconstructs damaged horses through the capillaries of the tiger, making the two animals stick together and thereby “revitalizing” them. (To put it mildly!)

Restores horses’ health and makes them smart. More of the same self-promotion. As anyone who has ever tried to read Proust knows, the French like to repeat themselves.

As with the English language, really important stuff in French is written in capital letters. Translation: “EMPLOYEES: Apply to the wet horses and make delicate massive cats. Good rinsing. Repeat with the needy.”

Here’s where things get tricky. After instructing us to wash various nonhuman creatures, the narrator tells us that he is opposed to the use of shampoo on animals. How can we reconcile this knotty contradiction? For that, one must use conditioner, which, as every schoolgirl knows, straightens out snarls and tangles. Let’s go to la bouteille typique de crème de la rinse:

Après le shampooing, frictionnez les cheveux et le cuir chevelu avec une petite quantité du produit—étalez dans les cheveux à l’aide d’un peigne. Laissez agir pendant 5 minutes. Rincez abondamment.”

Meaning: “After shampooing, rub your horse and its hairy leather with a little produce. Using a paintbrush, put the horse in its stall. Let him wear your necklace for five minutes. Then rinse him abundantly.”

Why do we do this? Because the conditioner contains des extraits purs de pollen d’abeillebee pollen. It is better for the horse to be shampooed indoors than to be outside and risk the painful swelling, or even death, that can come with a bee sting.

Voila! Nous comprenons! (We understand!)

What is meilleur de tout, or “best of all,” is that French beauty products are, as our shampoo bottle tells us, assez doux pour l’utilisation quotidienne”gentle enough to be used by boring people.

I hear one of them banging on the bathroom door right now.
What do you think? Discuss this article in Post & Riposte.

Con Chapman is the author of The Year of the Gerbil, a history of the 1978 Red SoxYankees pennant race, and A View of the Charles, a novel. Copyright © 2006 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 2006; How to Shampoo in French; Volume 297, No. 4; 71
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Tonight -

I am working on my gift for the many people who have cared for me in the chemo area. They love See's candy, so it was easy to stop there and stock up, and I worked on my card, trying to thank each one individually, while honoring the fluidity of the group they form, and then, I realized I must paint silk hearts for them tonight. Well, that set me on a search for my silk paints, which I must have been stored away for quite a long time. I knew right where they must be, but, they weren't. They have a special place. Why weren't they there? Well, I went through every closet, pulled out Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, stationery supplies, and clothes. How many packages of Scotch tape does a person need, and staplers, scissors, and sweaters?   Haven't I been saying I was going to simplify? Well, this was a lesson in how I need to do more of that. Finally, I found them. I had carefully stored them in a special box under another box, a box of old papers that probably aren't even needed. Why would I store them so carefully away that I couldn't even remember where they were? Why haven't I used them during this time? Why?  Well, I haven't had the energy.  That is one reason, and what I learn from this is that when I am motivated to give a gift, why, then, the energy comes.  And, yet, the question "why" is still with me. 

So, that brings me to the response I have had on the subject of life and death.  I have had some lovely responses on what the transition of death means to some of you. 

I think this from Candice is a special heart treasure. I place it here.

When I was about seven years old my beloved grandfather died of a heart attack on New Year's Day, of course unexpectedly. As I watched everyone's suffering I wanted to help so badly. I put on the charcoal gray v-neck sweater he and my grandmother had gotten me for Christmas (they always bought me warm things to wear, I always seemed to be out of socks or proper clothing).

I quietly put on their sweater and climbed up on the top bunk bed to 'talk to God.' I promised God that I would lie very still with my arms at my side, barely breathing and would wait as long as it would take for Him to bring my grandfather back to us. As I held my breath, I was just so sure that this prayer would be answered especially if I waited long enough.

I think that moment was one in which I became keenly  aware of death; of sadness, of disillusionment, of helplessness and of abandonment. I eventually got up from lying on my back, climbed down the ladder and resumed my silent observation of family grief. Deeply changed.

I think these thoughts of a child, words of a child really, as Candice goes back in time to give them to us, are to treasure. 

I was reminded when I read them of my mother's disappointment when her father died.  She was 19, and had been raised in the Christian Science faith.  She thought if she prayed enough, he would live.  It was only a few years before she died, that she shared with me what his death did to her faith.  She felt she had failed.  If only she could have prayed more.  I think coming to peace on this is important for each one of us.  Prayer has been scientifically proven to work.  I feel it in myself.  When I ask you to visualize, my red and white blood cells, they  go into a craze of proliferation.  I was in good shape that way today, but I forgot to ask you to visualize platelets, and so, I wasn't clotting.  Now, I know about platelets.  You have worked hard.  You can pause on the visualizing.  I will eat bunches of broccoli and give you a break on visualizing platelets  The point is that prayer works, and that, there is sometimes a time and a place for a person to go.  My mother's father could not face World War II, and that his son had to fight after he had fought "the war to end all wars."  He was a good, kind man.  He had given enough.  I think it was time for him to go.  When my father died in an accident, I was so happy for him, but it was so very hard on me.  I didn't know how to let go.  This process has allowed me to learn to do that.  I am learning to let go, and in that, I value life even more.  I live.

Great love, care, and gratitude, to all of you from me this lovely night.    And now, I paint!
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Continuation -

Candice continues her story.

Her words again:  

    My own sweater story continues a bit. Sometime in the Spring of my grandfather's passing I was playing outside in the front yard, climbing my favorite cherry tree with silvery bark that would easily peel in long strips. I was wearing my gray sweater because it was still brisk in Michigan that time of year. I grew up on a farm in a changing rural area but at that time the road out front was a dirt one which needed to be watered occasionally during the summer to lessen the dust.

While I was in the tree I watched my beagle Cricket get hit by a car on the road in front of the tree. She yelped and was thrown back into the yard near the tree. I jumped to the grass and ran to her, scooping her up in my seven year old arms. It seemed like hours as I sat there holding her, but only minutes until my mom ran outside after hearing the commotion. I sat there on the grass watching the blood run from her mouth onto my gray sweater. I didn't care. I didn't care at all. I just kept looking at the blood and wondering why this happened and what it all meant. Was she okay? What should I do? What was going on? But I was content just to hold her and look at her face and to watch the blood on my sweater. "Surreal" we would say now.

My parents rushed her to the vets in a cardboard box. She died. I don't think there was any ceremony and I never wore that gray sweater again.

I read this and feel for Beagle Cricket.  I bow my head.  I remember the deaths of my pets.  It began with goldfish, Pinkie and Stinkie, and continued to turtles, until one day, Mr. Sippi was also hit by a car.  He was a young, beautiful Weimeraner, and we got him when we moved to our home along the Mississippi River.  I loved that home, the freedom of the space, the "forest" on one side of the yard, and the river in front.   Mr. Sippi died instantly.  We buried him in our yard.  We have many pets buried in this yard.  I didn't know it was not legal when we buried Sada, where the deer love to stand.  That is now the memorial part of our yard for my mother.

Mandu is aging.  I try and prepare myself, and I know I can't.  I will be devastated when he passes.  What a gift is each pet.  What a treasure each pet, and now, I might ask.  Which one is the pet?   Mandu is very clear on that.  We are staff and very well-trained.  I believe he is pleased.  

Sheila Beldon and I had a funeral for the fetal pig we shared in Biology class as Freshman in high school.  We came to love that pig in his smell of formaldehyde.  I think of him sometimes.   So, tonight, I note that even the stars are born and die.  It is all okay.  Chris informs me studies of  cells are showing they  may continually  divide.  I don't know what to think of that.  We live in thought full times.