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mermaidcamp

Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water

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Before the Deluge

September 16, 2014

I have drained my water barrel and am preparing for a storm of mighty proportions.  Arizona has had a good year of rain during our monsoon season this year, but the last round was too intense.  There was flooding all over the state, but Phoenix was hit hardest because the major freeway through that city was flooded and closed. There were disasters and deaths by drowning during our recent storms.  Today we are bracing for what we are told will be 5 inches of rain in about 3 days.  At this time the predictors are off a bit because it was to have rained all day today.  We had some light sprinkles in the morning, but the deluge has not yet arrived.  I took the dog for a walk early because I was convinced we would be trapped by rain all day.  The sky is grey and the air very humid.  The smell of wet creosote bush confirms that  summer rains are still in gear.  We normally welcome rain in all forms and amounts, but this is on the scary side.  There is nothing to be done except get some sand bags ready for the back door just in case we need to protect our home.

I am thinking of it as a baptism.  The rain can wash away all the recent violence in our neighborhood and cleanse the air.  I hope people will pay attention to safety and stop themselves before driving into washes to be swept away to drowning death.  As natural disasters go floods are swift and powerful.  I am hoping our washes and rivers will stay within their bounds and that nobody will loose life or home.  All we can do is be careful.  Have you ever lived through a flood?

Rudolf II Count der Gutige Old graf Der Schweigsame Von Habsburg

September 15, 2014 4 Comments

My 22nd great-grandfather was born and died in present day Aargau,Switzerland.  He married in Germany in about 1200. The Habsburg family was known for making very strategic marriages.  His grandson Rudolf moved the family power base to Austria and became Holy Roman Emperor.  They did very well for themselves.

Father: ALBRECHT 111 the rich VON GRAF HABSBURG b: ABT 1132 in Habsburg,Aargau,Switzerland
Mother: Ita Von PFULLENDORF b: ABT 1141 in Pfullendorf,Konstanz,Baden

Marriage 1 AGNES VON STAUFEN b: BEF 1178 in of A.D.H. Blankenberg Am Rhein,Brunswick,Germany
Married: ABT 1200
Children
ALBRECHT 1V VON GRAF HABSBURG b: ABT 1188 in Schloss Limburg A.D. Rhein,Freidberg,Baden,
Gertrud Von HABSBURG b: 1191 in Schloss Limburg A.D. Rhein,Freidberg,Baden,
Heilwig HABSBURG Countess b: 1195 in Schloss Limburg A.D. Rhein,Freidberg,Baden,
Rudolf 1 Habsburg LAUFENBURG count b: ABT 1198 in Schloss Limburg A.D. Rhein,Freidberg,Baden,
Rudolf II Count der Gutige Old graf Der Schweigsame Von Habsburg (1158 – 1232)
is my 22nd great grandfather
Albert IV “The Wise” Count of Habsburg (1188 – 1240)
son of Rudolf II Count der Gutige Old graf Der Schweigsame Von Habsburg
Rudolf IV King of Germans, Holy Roman Emperor Habsburg (1218 – 1291)
son of Albert IV “The Wise” Count of Habsburg
Albert I King of Germany Habsburg (1248 – 1308)
son of Rudolf IV King of Germans, Holy Roman Emperor Habsburg
Albrecht Albert II ‘The Wise’ Duke of Austria Habsburg (1298 – 1358)
son of Albert I King of Germany Habsburg
Leopold III “Duke of Austria” Habsburg (1351 – 1386)
son of Albrecht Albert II ‘The Wise’ Duke of Austria Habsburg
Ernst I “Ironside” Archduke of Austria Habsburg (1377 – 1424)
son of Leopold III “Duke of Austria” Habsburg
Katharina Archduchess Austria Von Habsburg (1420 – 1493)
daughter of Ernst I “Ironside” Archduke of Austria Habsburg
Christof I VanBaden (1453 – 1527)
son of Katharina Archduchess Austria Von Habsburg
Beatrix Zahringen (1492 – 1535)
daughter of Christof I VanBaden
Sabine Grafin VonSimmern (1528 – 1578)
daughter of Beatrix Zahringen
Marie L Egmond (1564 – 1584)
daughter of Sabine Grafin VonSimmern
Richard Sears (1590 – 1676)
son of Marie L Egmond
Silas Sears (1638 – 1697)
son of Richard Sears
Silas Sears (1661 – 1732)
son of Silas Sears
Sarah Sears (1697 – 1785)
daughter of Silas Sears
Sarah Hamblin (1721 – 1814)
daughter of Sarah Sears
Mercy Hazen (1747 – 1819)
daughter of Sarah Hamblin
Martha Mead (1784 – 1860)
daughter of Mercy Hazen
Abner Morse (1808 – 1838)
son of Martha Mead
Daniel Rowland Morse (1838 – 1910)
son of Abner Morse
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Daniel Rowland Morse
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

House of Habsburg CountryAustria, Kingdom of Germany, Holy Roman Empire, Sicily, Naples, Spain, Hungary-Croatia, Bohemia, and Portugal

Titles
Holy Roman Emperor
Emperor of Austria
Emperor of Mexico
President of the German Confederation
King of the Romans
King of Germany
King of Spain
King of Aragon
King of Sicily
King of Naples
King of Castile
King of Hungary
King of Bohemia
King of Croatia
King of Portugal
King of Dalmatia
King of Galicia and Lodomeria
King of England
Grand Prince of Transylvania
Archduke of Austria
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Parma
Count of Habsburg

Founding11th century: Radbot, Count of Habsburg

Dissolution1780

The House of Habsburg (pron.: /ˈhæbs.bɜrɡ/; German pronunciation: [ˈhaːbs.bʊʁk]), also spelled Hapsburg[1] and also known as House of Austria, is one of the most important royal houses of Europe, The Habsburgs are best known for being Holy Roman Emperors for most of the time between 1438 and 1806, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and Spanish Empire and several other countries.

The House takes its name from Habsburg Castle, a fortress built around 1020–1030 in present day Switzerland by Count Radbot of Klettgau, who chose to name his fortress Habsburg. His grandson, Otto II, was the first to take the fortress name as his own, adding “Count of Habsburg” to his title. The House of Habsburg gathered dynastic momentum through the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.

By 1276, Count Radbot’s seventh generation descendant, Rudolph of Habsburg, had moved the family’s power base from Habsburg Castle to the Duchy of Austria. Rudolph had become Roman-German King in 1273, and the dynasty of the House of Habsburg was truly entrenched in 1276 when Rudolph became ruler of Austria, which the Habsburgs ruled until 1918.

A series of dynastic marriages enabled the family to vastly expand its domains, to include Burgundy, Spain, Bohemia, Hungary, and other territories into the inheritance. In the 16th century, the family separated into the senior Habsburg Spain and the junior Habsburg Monarchy branches, who settled their mutual claims in the Oñate treaty.

The House of Habsburg became extinct in the male line in the 18th century. The Spanish branch ended upon the death of Charles II in 1700 and was replaced by the Anjou branch of the House of Bourbon in the person of his great-nephew Philip V. The Austrian branch went extinct in the male person in 1740 with the death of Charles VI and in the female person in 1780 with the death of his daughter Maria Theresa and was succeeded by the Vaudemont branch of the House of Lorraine in the person of her son Joseph II. The new successor house styled itself formally as House of Habsburg-Lorraine (German: Habsburg-Lothringen), although it was often referred to as simply the House of Habsburg.

Principal roles

Their principal roles were as:

King of the Romans
Holy Roman Emperors
King of Germany
Rulers of Austria (as Dukes, Archdukes after 1453)
King of Bohemia (1306–1307, 1437–1439, 1453–1457, 1526–1918),
Kings of Hungary and Croatia (1526–1918),
Kings of Spain (1516–1700),
King of Portugal (1580–1640),
King of Galicia and Lodomeria (1772–1918), and
Grand Prince of Transylvania (1690–1867).

Numerous other titles were attached to the crowns listed above.

History Counts of Habsburg

The Habsburg dominions around 1200 in the area of modern day Switzerland are shown as Habsburg, among the houses of Savoy, Zähringer and Kyburg

The progenitor of the House of Habsburg may have been Guntram the Rich, a count in Breisgau who lived in the 10th century. His grandson Radbot, Count of Habsburg founded the Habsburg Castle, after which the Habsburgs are named. The origins of the castle’s name, located in what is now the Swiss canton of Aargau, are uncertain. Most people assume the name to be derived from the High German Habichtsburg (Hawk Castle), but some historians and linguists are convinced that the name comes from the Middle High German word “hab/hap” meaning ford, as there is a river with a ford nearby. The first documented use of the name by the dynasty itself has been traced to the year 1108.[3][4][5] The Habsburg Castle was the family seat in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.

The Habsburgs expanded their influence through arranged marriages and by gaining political privileges, especially countship rights in Zürichgau, Aargau and Thurgau. In the 13th century, the house aimed its marriage policy at families in Upper Alsace and Swabia. They were also able to gain high positions in the church hierarchy for their members. Territorially, they often profited from the extinction of other noble families such as the House of Kyburg.

Kings of the Romans
By the second half of 13th century, count Rudolph IV (1218–1291) had become one of the most influential territorial lords in the area between Vosges mountains and Lake Constance. Due to these impressive preconditions, on 1 October 1273 Rudolph was chosen as the King of the Romans and received the name Rudolph I of Germany.[6]

In 1282, the Habsburgs gained the rulership of the Duchy of Austria, which they then held for over 600 years, until 1918. Through the forged Privilegium Maius document (1358/59), a special bond was created between the House and Austria. The document, forged at the behest of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria (1339–1365), also attempted to introduce rules to preserve the unity of the family’s Austrian lands. In the long term, this indeed succeeded, but Rudolph’s descendants ignored the rule, leading to the separation of the Albertian and Leopoldian family lines in 1379.

By marrying Elisabeth of Luxembourg, the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund in 1437, Duke Albert V (1397–1439) became the ruler of Bohemia and Hungary, expanding the family’s political horizons. The next year, Albert V was crowned as the King of the Romans as Albert II. After his early death in war with the Turks in 1439, and after the death of his son Ladislaus Postumus in 1457, the Habsburgs lost Bohemia and Hungary again. National kingdoms were established in these areas, and the Habsburgs were not able to restore their influence there for decades.

Heirloom Farmers Markets-Tucson

September 14, 2014 2 Comments

In September Arizona agriculture is peaking with abundance. There are crops that grow well in serious heat, like melons and okra, that are finishing the season.  Many more crops enjoy the long slow slide into winter that we have and will be ready soon. The grapes for wine are soon to be harvested, the apples in Wilcox are being picked, and some date varieties are now starting to be ripe and ready to eat.  There are a large variety of squash being grown around Arizona that are never seen in regular grocery stores, and you can even get fresh squash blossoms to prepare.  More vendors come out in the cooler weather as more customers show up to shop and dine at the food trucks.  We like to go for unusual gourmet finds as well as for entertainment.  We see people we know and sometimes take the dog.  It makes a good outing and supports the local farmers in the process.  Today we came home with some very special smoked salsa homemade by smoking all the vegetables on mesquite wood before combining them.  We bought a baby blue Hubbard squash..a mini version of the giant winter squash with the rich flavor.  I got some cayenne, garlic  and some extra hot jalapeño chiles because our own chiles in the garden are ripe and ready to go to become salsa at home.  I will use the little green tomatoes, the garlic  and the chiles to round out the flavor and make different levels of picante for different tastes.  We are drinking fresh apple cider today from Wilcox. The little lemon cucumbers will make a sparkle in salads and the light colored pickling cucumbers are good straight up why themselves as a snack.  We did not get dates because I have a few I need to use from last season before I start on this year’s.  I don’t mind paying extra in order to put the mooney right into the hand of the person who grew or made it.

How is the farmers’ market scene where you live?  Are you able to get to one on a regular basis?  I like both the specialty prepared foods and the fresh produce.  They both serve the local farming community and let us have some extra special meals enhanced by products and produce not to be found at standard grocery shopping outlets.  When I travel I make it a point to attend a local market if at all possible.  I think they are growing in popularity and in variety of available products.  Some have musical entertainment.   It is fun to meet the farmer and know your food is as fresh as it can be.

Fitbit Frenzy

September 13, 2014 5 Comments

I am so thrilled with my relationship with my new Fitbit. It arrived two days ago and changed my life. It is everything I hoped it would be and much more. It synchs with your computer (Phone/device) to give you a complete picture of your daily activities. It shows graphs that measure your steps ( and or exertion) in real time, and your calories burned. The food log is simple to use and includes all foods I have eaten so far on a menu with calories counted upon entering.  The activity log is available if you care to detail which you have done when .  Hiking, biking, running, walking and swimming are listed.  You can also create your own categories.  I have made a Floatli category because I can’t wear the Fitbit in the water (separation anxiety does occur), but I can record the time I have spent on my computer log.  It is brilliant!

This weekend we are planning a pizza party for ourselves and maybe others.  I will need to earn the pizza slices that will greatly effect my graph.  We decided to put it off until tomorrow, and I am pleased because I can burn baby burn today to be on my goal.  The Fitbit is making me think ahead to calculate a plan eat pizza rather than banning it forever and indulging impulsively by jumping off the prohibition of pizza wagon.   I love it.  It makes me feel the need to deposit calories burned before I eat them!!! I have tracked food on a list and divided into food groups before, but this data is so complete and visually compelling that it makes writing it down seem primitive.  The deal in fitness and health is that if you are not having a good time you will not act in your own best interests all the time.  Movement, exercise, whatever you choose to call it, is just using the body you have to enjoy life.  Measuring it gives you a powerful motivation to improve.  Some folks join groups, or compare their performance to the entire population using the Fitbit.  I don’t need that because I am most competitive with myself.  I have become inspired and enthused to keep all my graphs green and my steps increasing daily.

My Fitbit Flex model also measures my sleep.  Last night I had a particularly unsound sleep pattern.  The night before I had a few restless seconds and a three short times awake during the night. Last night I spent a long time awake, during 9 different sessions. I was aware of it at the time, and was thinking this will look bad on my sleep graph.  I think that in itself is pretty funny.  I am even concerned about how my Fitbit scores my performance when I am in bed at night.  I think most of my nights will read like my first one, since I do sleep well.  The other funny thing about night time is that upon awakening I saw that the gin and tonic I poured for watching television  which we do in bed) was almost full.  I instantly thought how sad, I wrote that down in my food log and didn’t even drink it.  All this concern could make a person crazy, but I believe this is a good crazy.  I recommend this kind of crazy to anyone.

No Kid Hungry Dine Out

September 12, 2014 7 Comments

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry

This week you can dine lavishly so that others may simply dine. We have a problem feeding hungry children in the United States. This should be an embarrassment to the wealthy.  If you feel that you can help this worthy cause by just taking your restaurant business to a participating local partner this week, please do. Just enter the zip code where you live and you will discover which places are involved in your area.  When you mention the program your partner restaurant will make a donation to No Kid Hungry based on the amount you spend.   In our area the participating businesses are mostly bagels, Denny’s, and pizza.  One of the pizza places making donations is near our home and we have never eaten their famous coal fired pizza.

Grimaldi’s Coal Fired Brick Oven will be whipping out some weekend party food for our house.  They are a chain, but a relatively small one.  Here is a glimpse of the Grimaldi’s in Denver:

I look forward to trying the crispy crust, but even more I will keep them in mind because they are supporting this very worthy cause.  I like to spend my money where my mouth is…in this case many mouths will benefit.  Join me this week to help end childhood hunger, while I deal with our adult hunger in a creative and tasty way.

Philipp l Count of Katzenelnbogen

September 10, 2014 4 Comments

My 16th great-grandfather had an extremely lavish wedding when he wed my 16th great-grandmother. They had three children together and then the Pope gave Count Philipp a divorce. This divorce by Pope thing was popular at the time for nobility. His father, Johann IV, the Count of Katzenelnbogen, gave the world riesling grapes and wine. His sons died before he did, so the male line ended with his death.  One of the castles the family owned, Rheinfels, is the largest on the Rhine. Today there is still a ruin that can be visited. 

Rheinfels Castle (German: Burg Rheinfels) is a castle ruin located above the left (West) bank of the Rhein in Sankt Goar, Germany. It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine,and historically covered five times its current area.

In the year 1435 the Rüsselsheim castle administrator Klaus Kleinfisch began a new wineyard. His annual account shows the purchase of riesling Setzreben for 22 shilling. This kind of wine had a higher quality than the other french wines, was more aromatic but also frost-resistant. His new choice was – wineyards can exist more than onehundred years – the turningpoint in winehistory. Up to this point the old documents only reported red, white or black wine according to their colour. Even in the year 1402 the electoral prince of mainz ordered to grow no other wines than his french wines. After the rüsselsheim vintage Riesling quickly showed up all the way down the river rhine. Up to the year 1600 riesling became top wine. In the castle of Darmstadt count Johann IV united the two most powerful counties of the “holy roman empire of the german nation” in one of the most beautiful medieval marriages of his son Philipp d. Ältere of Katzenelnbogen with countess Anna of Württemberg. Even his son-in-law landgrave Heinrich III of Hessen was enthusiastic about this amount of gold , silver and wine. In 1427 the 10 most important katzenelnbogen castles were consuming about 200 000 liters of wine a year and in 1436 storing 1.5 million l wine in mainz . The counts were remarkably rich supporting arts and could afford rewarding medieval singers like Walther von der Vogelweide with a diamond. They created the most powerful castle, the first undefeatable german “bollwerk” Auerbach, defended themselves on the largest german castle with the largest german wine-cellar the Rheinfels castle. They loved the power but were sophisticated. Thanks to their correct book-keeping we can read about their live, family affaires and trading. One vase of china and one tankard is all they left. But the writings tell us and still want to be searched.

They gave us the riesling wine, one symbol of pride worth to be honoured.

The successors may have formed a modern top wine out of the riesling plant, but the documented first grower of the most important german and one of the most important international wines was Johann IV, the Count of Katzenelnbogen.

Additional the county customs writer noticed the first bratwurst export to cologne in 1410, the records listed bratwurst for 1gulden on a boat loaded with wine. This is the first proof of the traditional german bratwurst. The size is defined by pork casings. The transport itself tells us katzenelnbogen bratwurst must have been widely known.

Philip I of Katzenelnbogen (1402 – 1479), also known “Philip the Elder” was Count of Katzenelnbogen from 1444 to 1479 and was the last male descendant of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (his two sons died before him). His parents were John IV, Count of Katzenelnbogen (younger line) and Anne of Katzenelnbogen (older line), who merged the two lines of the family back together in 1402.

Marriage and issue
Philip married on 24 February 1422 in Darmstadt with Anna of Württemberg (1408–1471), daughter of Eberhard IV “the Younger” of Württemberg. In 1456, he obtained from the Pope a divorce from bed-and-board. In 1474 Philip married Anna of Nassau-Dillenburg.

Philip had three children with his first wife:

Philip the Younger (* 1427; † 27 February 1453), married in 1450 Ottilie of Nassau. In 1453 they had a daughter Ottilie of Katzenelnbogen.

Eberhard († 1456), canon of Cologne, was stabbed in Bruges (Flanders).

Anna (* 5 September 1443; † 16 February 1494), married in 1458 margrave Henry III of Hesse (15 October 1441 — 13 January 1483). In 1471, they had a son William III, who was the last male descendant of this line of the House of Hesse.

Legacy
In 1444 Philip initiated a major renovation of the collegiate church of Sankt Goar.
In 1449 he bought off the rights on St. Goar held by abbot John of the Abbey at Prüm.
In 1470 he handed Upper Katzenelnbogen and its seat Darmstadt to his son-in-law Henry III of Hesse.

Philip’s sons Eberhard and Philip the younger died before his death, so when Philip died in 1479, the Katzenelnbogen died out in the male line. The County of Katzenelnbogen fell to the Landgraviate of Hesse, which was ruled at the time by Philip’s son-in-law Henry III of Hesse in Marburg.

This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.

Philipp l Count of Katzenelnbogen (1402 – 1479)
is my 16th great grandfather
Philipp VonKatzenelnbogen (1427 – 1453)
son of Philipp l Count of Katzenelnbogen
Ottilie Countess Katzenelnbogen vonKatzenelnbogen (1453 – 1517)
daughter of Philipp VonKatzenelnbogen
Beatrix Zahringen (1492 – 1535)
daughter of Ottilie Countess Katzenelnbogen vonKatzenelnbogen
Sabine Grafin VonSimmern (1528 – 1578)
daughter of Beatrix Zahringen
Marie L Egmond (1564 – 1584)
daughter of Sabine Grafin VonSimmern
Richard Sears (1590 – 1676)
son of Marie L Egmond
Silas Sears (1638 – 1697)
son of Richard Sears
Silas Sears (1661 – 1732)
son of Silas Sears
Sarah Sears (1697 – 1785)
daughter of Silas Sears
Sarah Hamblin (1721 – 1814)
daughter of Sarah Sears
Mercy Hazen (1747 – 1819)
daughter of Sarah Hamblin
Martha Mead (1784 – 1860)
daughter of Mercy Hazen
Abner Morse (1808 – 1838)
son of Martha Mead
Daniel Rowland Morse (1838 – 1910)
son of Abner Morse
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Daniel Rowland Morse
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse
Katzenelnbogen originated as a castle built on a promontory over the river Lahn around 1095. The lords of the castle became important local magnates, acquiring during the centuries some key and highly lucrative customs rights on the Rhine. The Counts of Katzenelnbogen also built Burg Neukatzenelnbogen and Burg Rheinfels on the Rhine. The German family died out in 1479, while the Austrian lineage continued, and the county became disputed between Hesse and Nassau. In 1557, the former finally won, but when Hesse was split due to the testament of Philipp the Magnanimous, Katzenelnbogen was split as well, between Hesse-Darmstadt and the small new secondary principality of Hesse-Rheinfels. When the latter line expired in 1583, its property went to Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), which added the inherited part of Katzenelnbogen to its side-line principality of Hesse-Rotenburg. After the Congress of Vienna, this part of Katzenelnbogen was given to Nassau in exchange for property that had been taken away from it; after the War of 1866, with all Nassau, it became part of Prussia.

In 1945, Hesse-Darmstadt was united with most of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, which included the former Hesse-Kassel along with Nassau and the formerly Free City of Frankfurt, to form the federal state of Hesse. Thus, Hesse now includes the larger part of former county of Katzenelnbogen. A smaller part of Nassau, including the old castle and village bearing the name of Katzenelnbogen, ended up as part of Rhineland-Palatinate (part of the Rhein-Lahn and Westerwaldkreis districts). One of the titles of the Queen of the Netherlands (the House of Orange-Nassau) is that of Countess of Katzenelnbogen.

Etymology
The name Katzenelnbogen derives from the old Cattimelibocus. It consists of the ancient Germanic tribal name of the Chatti and Melibokus, the Roman name of any mountains, like the Harz or the Teutoburg Forest. Over the centuries the name changed to Katzenelnbogen: “cat’s elbow”.

History of wine
In the history of wine, Katzenelnbogen is famous for the first documentation of Riesling grapes in the world: this was in 1435, when the storage inventory of Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, a member of the Holy Roman high nobility, lists the purchase of vines of “Rieslingen”.

Fitness, Feedback, Fitbit

September 9, 2014 2 Comments

In the 1970’s I went to the Elaine Powers Salon to exercise. The regime included a food list sheet divided in to food groups to be filled in daily and reviewed with a staff person once a week. The exercise was self serve, and included those fat rolling machines. Once and hour there was a ten minute session in the middle of the room that anyone could join. This was a primitive, but pretty good model for monitoring diet and encouraging exercise. The consultation with the food list included a bit of physiological counseling because every time the food list was used the emotion felt at the time, the place the food was eaten, and the time of day were also recorded. The chart was divided into food groups and meals, but I don’t think there was mention of calories or fat. The discussion with the counselor was intended to draw attention to habitual patterns and possible ways to improve. The system worked well, and I am not sure why the company folded, but I copied the food lists and used them for years after they were gone.

Today the feedback does not require a sheet of paper or a staff person to review and make suggestions.  Now there is Fitbit.  We can get real time feedback about our diet and exercise habits, as well as sleep patterns from these tiny devices.  I read an article by David Sedaris recently about how the Fitbit encouraged him to move more and be adventurous (and slightly mindless in pursuit of steps).  He also told how addicted he became after his step counting became part of his life.  When his device died he lasted 5 hours before ordering a new one with express delivery.  I love his style of writing and often the stories he tells come alive and go on living and being funny in my head.  This Fitbit story has been like that.  Today I decided to order my own and see what all the fuss is.  I believe that awareness is the best way to make meaningful changes in lifestyle habits.  I know I am less active now than I want to be, but am not sure how grave the issue really is.  I will soon know exactly what is happening with calories in and calories out.  Two days from now I will join the Fitbit generation. Do you use a fitness tracking device? How does it work for you?  I think it will be fun.

Penca, Downtown Tucson

September 8, 2014 1 Comment

Our Sunday brunch today was exciting new and different. We went downtown to Penca, a restaurant we have been wanting to try.  We both loved our experience and want to return very soon and often.  The cuisine is labeled Mexico City style, but it is also a very fine example of fresh combinations and very artful mixology.  Our favorite Mexican restaurant in Tucson burned to the ground a few months ago, so we have been hunting for a new one.  Penca wins for many different reasons.  The decor is post industrial modern with as much of the old building in tact as possible for style.  The design successfully tells you that the place has a unique flavor and point of view.  It is refreshing after so many meals in the corny Mexican restaurant decor with pictures of parrots and Javier Solis. (not that I want to get rid of that forever).  The open kitchen also sends the smells of the kitchen wafting through the space in just the right way to make you hungry.

The restaurant is housed in a building that was once owned by the Graham Truck Company.  The brick openings  still visible on the walls are large enough for vehicles to pass.  The  designer did a great job of keeping the industrial feel with plenty of metal features.  I particularly love the swiveling doors that can create privacy in an area in the back for parties or events.  The mural on the wall is the street view of the building in the past.  They warm up the room and the acoustics by using wood for tables, walls and the bar.  It feels spacious because the ceilings are high.  The exposed duct work becomes a design element and sets a modern tone.

We arrived before the crowd arrived and therefore had very personal service.  The chef dropped by our table to chat, which was fun and informative.  He let me know that the dish I had ordered, the corn cakes with chalula butter and jalapeño syrup with a side of 2 eggs and some black beans, was his favorite on the menu.  He also told me to get a side of Chalula to add to the flavor.  This was the perfect suggestion for me because although the butter had some heat, and the syrup also, the complete sweet and heat balance was brought out by using that extra hot sauce.  I loved the whole thing. Bob had to help me finish after he enjoyed his own pork hash breakfast.

One reason we favor this as our new Mexican restaurant is the creativity at the bar.  When I was first told about the place my friend mentioned the tepache, a pineapple drink with a slight fermentation that is made in house and used in some of the cocktails. I ordered a bourbon and tepache, the preparation of which you can see here below.  The flavors were really intricate, including the bitters sprayed on the top, making it both pretty and giving a distinct bitter note to the first few sips.  They also make their own shrubs, and a pineapple shrub (they refer to it as pineapple vinegar) was used in my drink as well.  Bob reported that the Bloody Mary he had with his has was spicy and went perfectly with his food.  This is a pleasant departure from the usual margaritas and mojitos.  We are planning to go back again soon early on Sunday to repeat this super dining delight.  I want to try the tacos, and Bob wants to have the corncake special.  Compared with places we dine with similar gourmet offerings, the pricing at Penca is generous.  We were pleasantly surprised at the bill and I had to take my beans home because we both were so full.  If you enjoy delicious food and inventive bar service, try Penca.

 

Cutting Losses-Unexpected Twists of Fate

September 6, 2014 1 Comment

I like to be very punctual. It is polite, which is fine, but if one has a few extra minutes to compose oneself in any venture rather than rush, the odds improve. Leaving only the bare minimum of time for preparations of any kind seems foolish to me. I think I developed these beliefs while doing a lot of traveling around the world. There are always some unexpected time suckers in each mode of travel. In airports we are helpless if our flight is cancelled or delayed. In a car traffic can stop us in our tracks on the road. Sometimes we have no other option and must endure wasting time or spending it in ways we abhor. Today I count myself as lucky even though I have postponed a trip I looked forward to taking that will not be available again for 8 months.

We had reserved a place on the Grape Train, a wine tasting moonlight train ride on the Verde Valley Railroad. We were excited and ready to go when we found the battery in my car to be dead. I have a BMW, so the battery is hidden under the back seat and the replacement battery is not carried by everyone. We fiddled around with the car for a while, then went to a car rental agency, determined to save the weekend plans. I now feel fortunate that this agency had a very odd system that involved doing the paperwork on 5 or 6 clients before anyone was given a car. We had been processed, but as we waited for the car we did some math. We asked ourselves “What is the very last minute we can leave here and make the train on time?” We reached the conclusion that it was already the last minute, and after all this anxiety we still could miss our departure at the train depot. We thanked the inefficient clerk and cancelled the rental. It was a favor, a blessing in disguise. If they had rushed us into a rental car we would have rushed home, grabbed the bags and hit the road. By showing us what could go wrong right out of the gate, at the rental agency, these good folks saved us a high anxiety drive through Arizona with possibly disastrous results.

The moral of this story is about time. The entire drive might have turned out to be a waste of time.  I called the train company and was given an entire year to use the tickets I purchased. I also let the landlady know we were not going to be staying with her tonight and she offered to give us the night if we come later and stay for 2 nights at her place. The only “lost” money was a booking fee from Air bnb, which is fair and reasonable. I also think that we will enjoy staying for 2 nights in Clarkdale and doing the train ride when the fall colors have begun.  We were poised to have a high anxiety rush, and now we will have plenty of time at home, and after the car battery mystery has been solved we can take a more leisurely trip.  Thank you, car rental company that shall not be named, for saving our weekend plans!!

Fall Food Fiesta, Pears

September 5, 2014 2 Comments

bartlett pears

bartlett pears

Peak Pear season is upon us and I couldn’t be happier.  These Bartletts will be perfect to slice and bake with brie and port wine for an evening bite. We have that simple combination a few times during the season with different varieties as they ripen.   The versatility of pears makes them good from breakfast until midnight snack.

Very simple pear preparations include:

If you want to do some special baking pears will enhance pastries, cakes and other desserts:

Don’t for get the cocktail hour:

Pears keep well so we will have them all winter from different parts of the country.  I hope you will enjoy the season as much as we do at our house.  What are your favorite ways to eat pears? Do you have a favorite variety?  Mine is Comice, very hard to transport, but worth the effort if you can find them.  Bon appetite!!

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