Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I love living in Arizona. I used to travel around the world all the time. In fact, I was a travel agent for years, living the good life on the gravy train of the travel industry. The market has changed significantly and the service on airlines is not as great as it was in the past. I used miles to upgrade my international flights to business class back in the day, but those seats are never available with miles now. The super gold elite platinum members suck those all down for themselves. I no longer fly or collect airline miles for the future. I am happy as a tourist in my own spectacular state. We have it all, including the Grand Canyon.
I recently downsized my possessions and bought a Mini Cooper to drive. The change brings money into my budget and a fun tiny car that meets my needs perfectly. I drove the car recently to Phoenix for the Cannabis Expo weekend. It is super easy to park and easy to drive. My wanderlust for the open road has been revived by my new wheels. When I first saw the car I did not like it because it is orange and black. I have come to adore the colors, and think it is a snazzy sporty look. I will drive it down to Tombstone and Bisbee tomorrow for a Halloween weekend visit. Bisbee is all about haunting and history. Tombstone is all about gunslinging, Doc and Wyatt.
The drive is an easy two hours, about the same as Phoenix, from home. I will stop in Tombstone on the way down then take a day trip to Douglas on Saturday. Douglas was once a very wealthy smelter town for the Bisbee copper mine. The Louis Comfort Tiffany Window in the Hotel Gadsden is a remnant of those high rolling times. It is worth the drive to Douglas to see that window. Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas grew up around mines. The history of the wild west is still celebrated, particularly around Halloween. It will be a fantastic retreat, as well as a bargain for the cost. I feel lucky to have so many excellent and varied destinations to discover by a short drive.
There is much pressure this time of year to start loading up on candy and other treats to celebrate Halloween. This commercial season swings right into Thanksgiving, followed by end of the year parties. Our household is a reasonably healthy place to eat, but in the past we have used the holiday season as an excuse to indulge in extra sugar and junkier food. As I observe #OctoberUnprocessed I have not felt overly restricted. We are almost three weeks into the experiment and I have not prepared anything with sugar in it all month. I might make an apple pecan bunt cake this week, but I do not plan to bake any more desserts during October. This will set the tone for our seasonal celebrating. We will still have special foods, and go out to dine. I am not going into production of extra loads of sugar and butter filled foods because it is been our habit around this time of the year. This is a fine time to alter that.
Going to extremes rarely results in permanent change. Too much restriction results in rebounding. I am not banning all sugar, but am limiting our consumption from now until 2017 to two small packages of sugar, one white and one brown, which I have on hand. I have some wonderful honey in the cupboard, some pomegranate molasses, and agave nectar. These sweeteners will have to last us until the end of the year. I think this will be easy, but it remains to be seen.
I am signed up for the recipes and helpful hints published by Eating Rules that arrive daily in my e mail box during October. The above very insightful article arrived two days ago reminding me that all forms of sugar and salt must be used sparsely. The biggest problem with processed food is the excessive use of sugar and salt. This diet has accustomed Americans to those higher levels to the detriment of our public health. I have been eating fruit and honey as a snack, but the amount is small, so I will continue to enjoy that within reason. There is no need to go radically ascetic about holiday eating. Cuisine is one of my life’s great interests. I will not cut us off from all food fun, just from the least nutritious and most fattening. This Halloween we will focus on the dearly departed rather than on our trick or treat haul.
Professional pumpkin carving has reached a high level of skill and art. I admire food art of all kinds, and am used to seeing intricate melons and fruits carved by Asians into extremely detailed shapes. Now we can boast of our own home grown American food carver who creates extreme masterpiece pumpkin carvings. While others are hoisting and throwing them Ray is turning the autumn symbols into amazing sculptures. Like a sand mandala, a pumpkin sculpture is born to die. The ephemeral nature of the craft makes it all the more special. Ray shares his technique with kids in school in hopes of nurturing the next pumpkin Da Vinci. If you have considered carving a jack o lantern this year, why not attempt a bust of your mail carrier, or of your child’s teacher? Good luck! Happy Halloween, Gentle Readers.
When September sends kids back to school everyone starts to prepare for winter holidays. I was at the grocery store yesterday and saw the entire seasonal section ready for Halloween. It is still August but the candy, the costumes, and all the yard decorations are on display to get us in the mood. Americans spend about 7 billion dollars annually on Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation. More money is spent on adult consumes than on children’s costumes. The season that begins Nov 1 and runs through Dec 16, known as the holiday shopping season results in 52 billion dollars in spending. You might say that the slow warm up in both celebration time and money spent on Halloween is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the spending year. People get very wound up with lists and crafts and party planners as New Years finally approaches. The typical diet/fitness regime begins on January 1, along with new credit card redemption plans. The remorse about over spending and over eating lasts about a month until Super Bowl time.
Fall is a natural time to store things and preserve them for winter. Our ancestors endured heavy hardship if they did not prepare and store enough food for the winter months. Harvest was a time of joy and celebration (perhaps not exactly like modern Day of the Dead) when neighbors came together and gave thanks for the crops they had grown. They had to be mindful to keep enough and share enough to make it as community through the cold months. Today we let the food banks worry about feeding society. We follow an unnatural cycle of spending just when we should be doing some saving for future needs. I suggest a few changes we can make to give the earth a better holiday season:
The All Souls Procession each year in Tucson is a community event that takes mass coordination and will now cost more. Our new trolley system will complicate the planning and add to the expense. The volunteer organizers work all year to make it better all the time. In November another new and amazing, creative expression of this tradition will take place downtown.
At the end of October the costumes come out of the closet. This is the big masquerade time in the US. Other cultures have dress up traditions for Carnival and other holidays. The political side of costuming has always been woven into the idea of playing the role of another. Well known faces or looks are popular. In Tucson the Day of the Dead is celebrated in a grand public procession. The costumes in this event are not intended to mimic the living, but rather to show the look of the dead. The visit of the departed souls to earth is celebrated by glowing in the dark, dancing as skeletons, and enjoying the earthly pleasures our dearly departed ones chose while they were alive. The happy honoring of the souls of the dead is a symbol of our connection to all the generations who lived before us.
The traditions that exist around costumed rituals abound. Mumming may be from the Irish, may be from the Celtic, but now is interpreted by many modern Brits to honor an ancient tradition. The costumes are significant both in the way they change and in the similarities to ancient customs. Straw boys represent good luck, and are sent to visit newly married couples. There are specific plays and characters for Christmas and Halloween in modern mumming that are uninterrupted traditions from ancient history.
Today people have avatars, play games as super heroes, and give themselves any title they please in their on line lives. I think it is interesting that there are so many groups passionate to preserve the costuming and cultures from history, from Civil War reenactments to the merry mummers of the British Isles, to Helldorado Days in Tombstone, AZ. The tradition of mime is related to the mummers. The costume tells much of the story, just as it does in many Naive American dances. Will you dress up for the end of October? Will you do anything special to honor the dead? It is the perfect time.