Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Clinging to the Wreckage

Talk about clinging to the wreckage! That wee "Love is" cartoon was drawn in response to a hurricane (Katrina, I think). In the context of this post, it's metaphorical, about a different kind of wreckage - aged bodies - bringing on their own varied array of side-effects.

A very unpleasant, increasingly awful 10 days have been had, in this household, following the first dose of a different anti-biotic the nurse practitioner at surgeon's office prescribed (bactrim generic). After a very shitty (sorry) experience with 1 tablet of augmentin , I started the next horror ride. Anti-bi's purpose is to kill infection that has developed in small part of one of the incisions made during lumpectomy. As I'm aged, healing is nowhere near as efficient as it once was. In consequence, that part of the incision has to be 'packed' each day (husband does it after instruction and equipment from nurse.) That, in isolation, without anti-biotic side effects, would not be too much of a problem at all.

Bactrim rapidly took my appetite, gave me constant nausea. At first, I managed on light diet, maybe for a day and half - then, with constant nausea, diet rapidly zoomed down to almost nothing but lots of water, and a half pot yogurt, half cup chicken broth. After a few days of not eating, the blood pressure pills I take regularly began to prove too strong, BP too low, so I stopped taking them bit by bit, monitoring all the time. I also stopped taking the Letrozole tablets from oncologist, until end of bactrim course, as these are also known for some unpleasant side effects.

Feeling weak, but needing to finish this course, ending Sunday evening, I plodded on, feeling pretty bad. The penultimate night was scary. Heart rate suddenly increased way too high - unusual for me! Couldn't sleep, even for 30 mins - strange visions. With help of Google in the early hours of Sunday, I found that one of my regular BP meds is a beta-blocker, and that beta-blockers do bring down heart rate. I took one then half of another, 30 mins later. Monitored on home machine. By later in the morning some normality had returned, though BP in general still too low for me. Dizzy, wobbly, mind fuzzy, and feeling really, really bad. I still had to take 2 more bactrim. It had to be done. I was more wobbly on my feet than I've ever been in my life, and kept forgetting and losing stuff. That'll all improve, I feel sure that, as I take in more food, and get back taking full BP meds. If not will see GP.

Alongside this tale of woe, the concurrent return of a couple of other regular bugbears of mine. I know how to deal with these, from experience... and, I do know me!

(A) pollen allergies are hitting me far more strongly than usual - possibly because I am run down + possibly there's lots of pollen around in OK - rated Very High most days (lots of wild flowers). Constant running nose ensues (leading to sores on nose , sneezing fits, painful hot itchy eyes, and bunged up ears which make everything sound as though an equalizer needs adjusting. My own voice sounds weird too. Zyrtec taken daily but not a lot of help this time.

(B) Sore top of left foot causing bother due to old injury site having rubbed against shoe during the couple weeks before my procedure when we took to walking the mall or the streets around home, for exercise for both of us. I've dealt with my left foot in much worse state than this on several occasions, in the UK and here. If not for the rest of this tale it'd not worry me too much right now, just another thing to protect and monitor daily.

So, on we go!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie Monday ~ "Canvas" & "Digging for China"

I searched for a couple of movies to watch one evening last week when I wasn't feeling 100%. Couldn't countenance a lot of gun fire, violence or heaving bare buttocks. We decided to try these two, and were not disappointed. Both are available on Amazon Prime.



There's similarity in the two movies' themes, in that a main character in each has mental disabilities. Even if you don't fancy the storylines, the movies are well worth seeing if purely to watch superb performances by Marcia Gaye Harden, in "Canvas", and Kevin Bacon in "Digging to China".

Marcia Gaye Harden's character, in "Canvas", is schizophrenic. Kevin Bacon's character in "digging to China son of an aging mother, was born "blue" and now retains the mental capacity of a child.




"Canvas" was one of the most compelling films that I have ever seen. Young Devon Gearhardt was enthralling, focusing the audience as we watch him grow through a very difficult time. Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden are equally transcendent, as this movie shines from start to finish. The cinematography and score stood out as especially interesting technical elements.

In this story of a family with a schizophrenic mother, all the actors perform beautifully. I hope everyone gets a chance to see this film, and I highly recommend it. It is a story of tragic brilliance while being both uplifting and informative. A must-see, for certain.
-mrfantasticF4. (From IMDb User Reviews)

 The film becomes even more poignant when one realises it is based on a true story:
“Canvas,” Joseph Greco’s drama about schizophrenia, is obviously a labor of love. In his director’s note Mr. Greco writes, “I grew up watching my mother battle schizophrenia, and those harrowing memories had a profound impact on me.” He adds that a screenwriting professor once told him, “Write what you know.” That advice has resulted in a movie that rings emotionally true, despite structural contrivances and dim, washed-out color.



"Digging to China"

10-year-old Harriet dreams of leaving her home, where she doesn't feel she's needed by her mother and sister Gwen. When her mother dies in a car accident, she really starts to make plans for leaving and she finally does so together with her childlike (mentally ill) friend Ricky. Written by Anonymous at IMDb

Harriet, a ten-year old girl, lives together with her big sister and her alcoholic mother out in the countryside. The family runs a motel. Harriet is different from the others, as she owns a great creativity and has nobody to play with. Her infinite world exists only in her mind. One day, Ricky comes along. He is a grown-up, but intellectually disabled son of an elderly lady. Soon, Harriet and Ricky share their experiences of life from a different point of view and become close friends. But his mother still plans to give Ricky away into professional care in a home, because she won't live forever to be there for him.
—Julian Reisch, IDMb User Reviews.

"Digging to China" is an unpretentious little movie. No great moral lessons are promoted here. It plays out within the limited area of a small resort motel, an old barn, the surrounding woods and streams, an elementary school, the connecting highways, a deserted caboose, and a school bus - with brief side trips to a cemetery and a hospital. No profound messages are involved; it doesn't probe the depths of the human condition. It's merely the story of the friendship between ten-year-old Harriet, a bright, imaginative loner, and Ricky, a man with special learning and behavioral handicaps. The relationship grows as each faces a major emotional life adjustment.

For a little movie, Digging to China is loaded with fantastic, deeply affecting, unforgetable images.
- G Kearns, IMDb User Reviews.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday, Saturday & Sundae - There's an Art to being a Chef ~ Helene Darroze

A female chef under the microscope this week - not only a female chef, but one who actually carries out her profession according to its job description. So many in the food industry nowadays have migrated to presenting TV shows, writing cookbooks and otherwise doing celebritous (new word) things. I prefer to feature chefs who cater to the public in restaurants or hotels. If they write the odd book, that's fine, if they appear on TV once in a while, that's fine too, but the main thrust of their career must be catering to the public, not becoming a celebrity.

With that in mind, I had a hard job finding a female chef whose birth data is available. I found one eventually: Helene Darroze. The name might not be familiar to you or I, unless a passing reader lives within a very high income bracket. This lady, well known in France for her Paris restaurant, in 2008 crossed the English Channel to open another in London, at the extremely swish Connaught Hotel.

I'm wondering now, if, or how Brexit might eventually affect Ms Darroze's work - London/Paris.



Ms Darroze is exactly the kind of chef I'm looking for. She will divide her time between London and Paris, while still caring for her young child, adopted in Vietnam. She has said that it's important for her to be in the kitchen of the restaurant where her name is, so that it is not just "a brand name on the door."

Helene Darroze's father and grandfather were both chefs. She says that she was practically "born in the kitchen". She was actually born on 23 February 1967 in Mont de Marson, Landes, in the south-western area of France. I found her data on a French page of Wikipedia. My schoolgirl French isn't up to translating much of the rest of the page, but this chef's arrival in London last year spawned a slew of newspaper articles. These have afforded some nice detail about this lady.
(Sources linked at end of post.)

Her natal chart, set for 12 noon, in the absence of a time of birth.




Here's a quite different flavour of personality from last week's chef - Escoffier.

There is one clear similarity to Escoffier's chart here though - the opposition of Uranus and Pluto to the cluster of personal planets around their natal Suns. I called this Escoffier's "engine room" in my post. Here's a mini version of his chart.


Helene Darroze obviously has oodles of energy, to keep up a London/Paris commute on a regular basis, as well as being a single mother.

A chef, she has said, "cooks with heart, with personality. A dish is part of ourselves so the way I will cook will be very different from the way Tom Aiken or Gordon Ramsay cook."

I'd say that as well as being something of a human dynamo, Ms Darroze has a soft and intuitive heart coming from her 4 Pisces planets. Her Moon would be in Leo whatever time of birth, and this Leo-ness at her inner core enables her to take center stage in her kitchens. She doesn't "lord it" over her staff as some famous male chefs are said to do though. She calls her staff her "collaborators" and insists on being called "Helene" rather than"chef". This is coming from the emotional intelligence born of Pisces.




There's a Grand Trine in Water signs in her chart. It links Saturn/Venus in Pisces to Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Scorpio. The presence of both Venus and Neptune in this Watery, emotional circuit underlines her artistry and creativity, while Saturn draws in a well-integrated work ethic. Her energy, as well as being reflected in the opposition already mentioned, is further emphasised by natal Mars (the energy planet) in harmonious trine to her Sun.

I think that hers could also easily be the natal chart of an artist or musician. This is where environment and background make a difference. Ms Darroze happened to be born into a family of chefs, her artistry was thus focused towards food, from an early age.



This lady sounds so very different from some celebrity chefs who hit our TV screens. I'm glad!

'Oh, you know, I'm just like anyone else,' says Darroze waving her hand dismissively. She blithely ignores the TV crew and perches on a grey-blue armchair, sitting on the edge of the seat like an attentive schoolgirl. She does not look remotely like the sort of steely, ambitious figure one might expect. She has a ready smile and a delightfully easy manner, recalling those friendly patronnes you find occasionally serving double measures of pastis from behind village bars in rural France. Compact and short, she has cropped peroxide-blonde hair and twinkly eyes. She is sweetly pretty, but I get the impression that such trifles do not especially concern her. Her face is bare of make-up, the grey cardigan she is wearing has a hole in one arm that keeps threatening to unravel each time she moves and she wears little jewellery apart from an enormous gold crucifix that dangles almost all the way down to her navel.

SOURCES

THIS IS LONDON

THE GUARDIAN

THE INDEPENDENT

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

OUIJA - More Woo-Woo

What lies behind the purpose of a Ouija Board is definitive "woo". Contacting spirits of the dead links to lots of other woo-ish bits and pieces: ghosts, past lives, divination, prodigies....and on, and on.

Having never used the device myself, I can't vouch for its efficacy or otherwise. My delving into woo stops short at astrology and tarot now (that is if they are labelled as such), and they sometime are), I only do what I'm drawn to do. When younger I did experiment with spiritualism by attending a few spiritualist meetings and churches, but didn't continue along that route. I'm not a complete skeptic when it comes to Ouija, just a curious bystander who has never been drawn to experiment.

In its current style the Ouija Board originated in the late 19th century, in the USA. It was, however, an extension of a much older tradition of contacting spirits of the dead. Such tradition has reportedly been traced back to China, centuries before the birth of Confucius (circa 550 B.C.E.). Fu Chi or Fuji, an accepted form of Chinese spirit writing, is what's known in the west as automatic writing. Spirits were thought to guide a pen or stick, in sand or on paper, to form letters or glyphs. Some have tried to make a link from Ouija Boards to ancient Greece, and Pythagorus, but that idea seems to have been discredited.




We can safely say that it was an upsurge in spiritualism and theosophy in late 19th century USA that led to the spread of "talking boards". There's some evidence, though disputed, that a Maryland cabinet/ coffin maker, E.C. Reiche (or Reichie?) , designed and constructed the first board that came to be known by the name Ouija. He is said to have sold the rights of manufacture to Charles Kennard; the first patent was filed in 1890. These days rights to The Ouija Board are held by Parker Brothers who acquired them in 1960 - just in time for a New Age/hippie era?

The Ouija Board has acquired some particularly bad press, notably after the 1973 movie The Exorcist which many wrongly thought was based on a true story. Ouija has long been labelled a "tool of the devil" by certain factions. It's certainly a tool, but a tool for what purpose is up to its user. You can use a hammer in constructing a useful piece of furniture - or you could use it to kill or maim another living creature. Intent is key. Having said that, I don't consider it wise for young people to dabble in Ouija Board use. While I do not believe in demons or anything akin to demons, we don't know whether impressionable minds, fed these days more than ever with tales of horror, violence, war, vampires, and such could conjure up something harmful via their own consciousness. If Ouija Boards and similar methods of divination work on any level at all, we have still to discover how. Until this is known, it's best to tread lightly.

How to link astrology to a post on Ouija isn't clear. The businessmen who initiated bulk manufacture and sale of the boards were interested mainly, or only, in profit. I doubt they had any serious interest in the spread of occult learning or experience. Perhaps E.C. Reiche, if his part in Ouija's history is true, was the most likely of them all to have had a true interest in the occult.

Searching for birth data on E.C. Reiche I found it on this site. Born 27 December 1831, died 6 January 1899.

Curiosity led me to look at a natal chart, using as location the town in which he lived (probably born there): Chestertown, Maryland, chart set for 12 noon. How appropriate it'd be if he actually had been born around noon! Pluto, planet of the occult and hidden things, secrets, darkness, etc. sits on the ascendant angle - the strongest point in a natal chart. But chances are he wasn't born around noon.




Anyway, I still see this chart as a good fit for a craftsman who had an interest in occult matters. His Sun was in Capricorn, which I think of as a craftsman/businessman sign. Neptune conjunct Mercury also in Capricorn: creativity, illusion and/or psychic ability married with his planet of communication. Uranus is unadulterated in its home sign, Aquarius along with Jupiter, adding a good helping of inventive talent to the mix.

From New World Encyclopedia:
Whether one believes that the Ouija contacts spirits or is merely a vehicle to probe one's own subconscious, there are psychological risks to using the board. During Ouija sessions, it is common to receive vulgar or vile messages, as well as messages that tap into the users' fear of death. These messages can be highly disturbing to some, no matter what their source, and have the potential to exacerbate any existing mental disturbances. It is well advised that those with emotional or psychological disturbances refrain from the use of the Ouija.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Music Monday ~ Bobby Darin - some things I didn't know.

Today would have been Bobby Darin's birthday. He was born on
14 May, 1936


Bobby Darin was reared by his maternal grandmother, who he believed was his mother. Darin's birth mother, Vanina Juliette "Nina" Cassotto (born November 30, 1917), became pregnant with him in the summer of 1935 when she was 17. Presumably because of the scandalous nature of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in that era, Nina and her mother hatched a plan to pass her baby off as Nina's younger brother. Years later, when Nina finally told Darin the truth about his upbringing, she refused to reveal the identity of his biological father, and kept the secret to her death in 1983. Darin's maternal grandfather, Saverio Antonio "Big Sam Curly" Cassotto (born January 26, 1882), was of Italian descent and a would-be mobster who died in prison from pneumonia a year before Darin's birth. His maternal grandmother, Vivian Fern Walden (also born in 1882), who called herself Polly, was of English ancestry and a vaudeville singer. From his birth, Darin always believed Nina to be his older sister and Polly his mother. But in 1968, when he was 32, Nina told Darin the truth, reportedly devastating him.

By the time he was a teenager, Darin could play several instruments, including piano, drums, and guitar. He later added harmonica and xylophone.


Darin in his later years was politically active. He travelled with Robert F. Kennedy and worked on the politician's 1968 presidential campaign. He was with Kennedy the day he traveled to Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, for the California primary, and was at the Ambassador Hotel later that night when Kennedy was assassinated. This event, combined with learning about his true parentage, had a deep effect on Darin, who spent most of the next year living in seclusion in a trailer near Big Sur.

Darin was a frail child suffered several bouts of rheumatic fever which seriously weakened his heart. He died after a heart operation in December 1973, at age 37.

Information from Wikipedia

A sad life indeed, yet his music didn't hint at any of his troubles. In this first video he displays his talents as not only a vocalist, but an entertainer, with a sense of humour.






And 9 months before his death:



Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday, Saturday & Sundae ~ There's an Art to Being a Chef

Once upon a time I decided it might be interesting to investigate the astrology of famous chefs. Here's one, a chef who is world-famous, king of all the chefs:
Georges-Auguste Escoffier.

Before starting to write, I asked myself what I'd expect to find prominent in the charts of those whose life's work is to prepare and present food. My first thought was of the element Earth, and the zodiac sign Taurus in particular. My second thought was that preparing food is a nurturing activity - nurturing others - the zodiac sign of Cancer relates to this. Beyond those factors, any successful individual, in whatever sphere they choose to operate, will need drive and energy. Any occupation involving the mass preparation and serving of food is demanding, make no mistake about that! Presentation of food is very important, so an artistic eye would be helpful. When you get right down to it, preparation of food is artistry in itself. Individual chart factors will be determined by any sidelines a chef might engage in: writing, for instance, would entail some strong Mercurial input.



Born 28 October 1846 at 10am in Villeneuve-Loubet, France (Astrodatabank). My software doesn't have that city as an option, but Nice is at almost exactly the same latitude/longitude, so I've used it.




Well - was I wrong, or was I wrong? No Taurus, no Cancer planets. We do have an artistic streak via Venus/Mars in Libra (ruled by Venus, planet of the arts), and this at 10th house, the area of career. What we have here is a very Airy chart, in spite of the fact that natal Sun and Mercury lie in Watery, intense and passionate Scorpio.

There's a nice Grand Trine in Air linking the Libra planets to Jupiter in Gemini and the three planets in Aquarius. This reflects a high degree of natural intelligence, an intellectual nature.

Sagittarius was rising as Escoffier came into the world, and right opposite, on the descendant is Jupiter (Sagittarius' ruler) in Gemini. Sagittarius and Jupiter relate to excess, exaggeration, publication, and travel and are generally a benign influence. There's a link to the enjoyment of good food here, and a definite link to writing about food, which Escoffier did in several well-known volumes.




What about Aquarius though - how does that relate to the work of a chef? This particular chef was known for inventing new dishes (Peach Melba, we all know) and re-organising the way restaurant kitchens were run. There is the Aquarius influence! His philanthropic endeavours as mentioned in the quote below reflect another side of Aquarius, and of course, his benign Sagittarius ascendant.
Three of Escoffier's most noted career achievements are revolutionizing and modernizing the menu, the art of cooking and the organization of the professional kitchen. Escoffier simplified the menu as it had been, writing the dishes down in the order in which they would be served (Service à la Russe). He also developed the first à la Carte menu.

He simplified the art of cooking by getting rid of ostentatious food displays and elaborate garnishes and by reducing the number of courses served. He also emphasized the use of seasonal foods and lighter sauces. Escoffier also simplified professional kitchen organization, as he integrated it into a single unit from its previously individualized sections that operated autonomously and often created great wasted and duplication of labor.

Throughout his career, Escoffier wrote a number of books, many of which continue to be considered important today. Some of his best-known works include Le Guide Culinaire (1903), Le Livre des Menus (1912) and Ma Cuisine (1934).

As well as making changes in the culinary world, Escoffier undertook several philanthropic endeavors including the organization of programs to feed the hungry and programs to financially assist retired chefs.
(See here)

The dynamic tension, the engine room of Escoffier's nature, comes mainly from the oppositions Aries to Libra, Uranus opposes Mars, Pluto opposes Venus. Both Uranus and Pluto represent the urge for change and transformation - which is exactly what Escoffier achieved in his kitchens.



Something I've learned from this experiment already: Earth isn't a necessary ingredient in the natal chart of a chef - Escoffier's contains no planets in Earth signs.