A Numbers Game

Every time we open a magazine or a newspaper or hear an announcement regarding a celebrity or even a criminal, we always seem to search to discover their age. What is it about one’s age that creates such fascination?  Does it mean that one can be too old or too young to do whatever it is that makes the deed or occasion noteworthy? The first question we ask one another is, “how old was she/he”? This is even more relevant when the person involved has either had an illness, or worse still, died.

This fixation with age must be something which is linked to a first world mentality perhaps? No-one seems to worry about the age of, for example, The Dalai Lama. His face emanates kindness and caring but it is also creased with signs of age. I have never heard anyone say that he may be past his prime, or a bit too old for the job! With medical advancement it is now a fact of life that, where people have access to good nutrition and health care, they are living much longer than in the past. This is posing huge problems due to the drain on a country’s medical system as well as impacting negatively on job opportunities for younger people. If you have to carry on working due to a shortage of money then you most certainly would not choose to retire at 60 or 65. Not all companies make it mandatory to stop working once these milestones are reached.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the pattern of having one person leave the company and a younger one being employed in their place no longer applies.

I have just heard a discussion on local radio where people were talking about having changed their career direction in mid- life and qualified in a field which until then had been something of a pipe dream. One man had graduated as a medical doctor at the age of 51 after having previously spent years in the corporate world. In this case one would assume that age might be to his advantage. If you have the need to see a doctor and he is middle-aged you would hardly even consider the fact that he may have very little practical experience. His age should work in his favour as I can’t imagine that there would be a banner on the practice wall announcing, “Our newly qualified Dr. so and so (age 51) has joined our practice. Welcome!”

“You have to embrace getting older. Life is precious
and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realise
each day is a gift.
” – Meryl Streep. (American Actress)

People tend to panic about getting older and perhaps losing their youthful looks, but when one has had friends who died in their mid-thirties or early forties of cancer, then it really is a case of every day of good health being a gift which needs to be savoured. This epidemic of trying to stay as young at 50 as one was in one’s early twenties is crazy. One only has to look at current pictures of 1970’s Hollywood stars to see that sometimes it might be best to let nature take its course instead of searching for eternal youth. With botox, lip and cheek fillers some of these have-beens now look like cartoon characters. There are actors such as Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, to name just a few, although showing signs of age still manage to remain dignified and believable. Life moves on, and whilst it’s great to make the best of ourselves, there are limits me thinks?

Age 3 350x211

We need to be careful that, by focusing too much on our age, we limit our potential. There are martial arts clubs as well as dance studios which cater for beginners of all ages. However, I would imagine that, for example, taking up either of these exercise regimes would have their limitations. Bruce Lee, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn began early in life to pursue their chosen field of expertise. Somehow, it would seem to be far-fetched to imagine that a forty-something person would be able to reach particularly great heights in either of the above disciplines. I could be wrong and I hope that I am.

Age 2 350x305

There are many instances where top surgeons, artists and business people for example are still achieving amazing results well into their latter years. As long as one has good health and is not showing signs of slowing down, then the many years of experience are obviously an incredible advantage. Mentoring younger people can be an extremely valuable way in which one’s abundance of knowledge and experience will be passed on to the next generation. After all, what is the use of knowledge if it is not shared? Many valuable discoveries have probably died along with their discoverers due to selfishness and an ego-centred attitude and an aversion to sharing their findings.

The Rolling Stones, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and not forgetting the Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan are just a few of many musicians who have not allowed getting older to hamper them in any way. In fact, like a good wine, they just appear to keep on getting better as the years go by. One only has to take note of the age of the people packing the stadiums when they perform at their live concerts to realise that age, when it comes to music and entertainment is totally irrelevant. Many of the concert goers are at least 30 or even 40 years younger than their idols.

Age 4 350x231

Another angle where age seems to rear its ugly head is in a situation when a woman marries or becomes involved with a much younger man. Somehow it seems to be far more acceptable for a woman to be in a relationship with a man much older than herself as opposed to her finding a young stud! The latter is seen as a case of cradle snatching and often looked down upon by friends and relatives. However, I have read findings over the years that women tend to reach their sexual maturity around the age of 40 whereas men peak at 20, so wouldn’t it make sense to marry someone who’s sexual age tallies with one’s own? However, it has also become a fact over the years that 18 is no longer viewed as the start of adulthood, as it was in the past. Now, it seems that one has to reach the ripe old age of 25 to qualify for adult status in many cases. There are clubs and restaurants who limit the clientele to those of a more adult age – obviously due to potential hooliganistic behaviour from the younger generation. Therefore, one’s social life could be seriously curtailed if the new husband is still viewed by society at large as a juvenile, despite the fun and games in the bedroom!

It used to be frowned upon to ask a woman how old she was, but this certainly no longer seems to be the case in many Western societies, by all accounts. Anyway, having to reveal your ID number in South Africa, there is no running away from the fact. As long as the person to whom you give the required information has a working knowledge of arithmetic, they will very quickly work out how old you are. What bigger complement can there be than the recipient of the information turning to you and saying that they would never have thought you were that age!  What is the point of lying anyway, after all life is for living, and each day counts. So, while age is relevant and we are all obsessed with finding out how old everyone we come in contact with is, it really is a privilege to, hopefully, make old bones!

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease
to  stand like curious children before the Great 
Mystery into
which we were born.”
– Albert Einstein (German – born theoretical physicist)

Roast Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes halved
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and quartered
  • I large onion cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tblsp dried oregano
  • 1 Lt vegetable stock
  • 2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Heat oven to 160 degC.
  • Combine the tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic in a roasting pan.
  • Add oregano, balsamic vinegar, a good splash of olive oil and sugar and mix altogether using your hands.
  • Roast in the oven for about 30 – 45 minutes until the tomatoes are breaking down and releasing their juices. Its Ok if some of the skin blackens as this adds a slightly smoky flavour.
  • Transfer ingredients to a medium sized pot and add the tomato paste and enough stock to cover all ingredients.
  • Gently simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Transfer ingredients to a blender and blend ingredient into a smooth, thickish liquid.
  • Strain through a sieve back into the pot, adjust seasoning in need, and keep warm.
  • Serve with croutons and fresh basil.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Bourbon Honey Pork Ribs

Ingredients

  • 5 kg raw pork ribs
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500ml Apple juice

For the Rub

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Maldon salt
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp onion salt.

For the Bourbon honey Glaze

  • 100 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mustard sauce
  • 2 tsp gochujang paste (found in any Asian supermarket)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 100 ml Bourbon

Method

  • Combine all the rub ingredients
  • Combine all the glaze ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until use
  • Cut rib racks into more manageable pieces +/_ 5 -6 riblets
  • Cover the ribs in the rub and leave covered in the fridge for 4 hours (preferably overnight)
  • Turn the oven on to 120deg C
  • Put the ribs in a roasting tin, add the apple juice and stock and cover tightly with foil.
  • Cook slowly until the meat is very soft – approx. 4 hours, basting with the juices every hour or so.
  • When cooked, take out of the oven, uncover and allow to cool for about an hour.
  • Increase the oven temp to max (approx. 250degC)
  • Brush the ribs liberally with the glaze and heat in the oven, basting every three minutes or so. Take care that the glaze doesn’t burn.
  • Remove the ribs when they are heated through and they are well coated with the sticky glaze

Serve with a side of slaw and corn on the cob.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

The amazing benefits of a Reflexology treatment

For many people the sheer idea of someone handling their feet makes them shrink in horror. It may be something which sounds totally alien and a little too personal to contemplate with any degree of seriousness. However, for those who have discovered the wonders of having a qualified reflexologist giving them a treatment, it is a totally different story.

A foot rub does not constitute a reflexology treatment. This needs to be said, as a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Only when one has studied reflexology does the realisation kick in that our state of health as well as our personality is reflected in the soles of our feet and there is a specific way of giving a treatment. So yes, let your partner rub your feet if you are stressed, but if you really want a therapeutic treatment, then make sure this is done by a qualified practitioner and not a charlatan.

A reflexologist is not qualified to diagnose illness but they can advise a patient to seek medical advice if they suspect a potential problem. By looking at the condition of the feet, the colour as well as the texture, much information can be gleaned about the person to whom they belong. The toenails and the shape of the toes also hold their own information about the patient but the best measure of all, is for the practitioner to take a full medical history before doing a session for the first time.

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering
and a work of art,” – Leonardo da Vinci

Many years ago I was coerced into allowing a beauty therapist to give me several reflexology treatments at a special “stress package” price. In hindsight this really was a big mistake to make, but at that time I was ignorant as to what exactly reflexology was all about and how I would react to a treatment.  The first session just left me feeling rather tired later in the day and I found the woman giving the treatment did not make me feel relaxed at all. In fact she was rather rough and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.  However, having paid in advance for the entire package I did go for the next treatment. This time it just happened to be in the afternoon prior to attending a business dinner at a restaurant that evening. The so-called therapist did not at any time say anything relating to the dos and don’ts of a post reflexology treatment.  It is important to know that afterwards you should drink plenty of water, limit alcohol intake and take it easy and not be over active.

That evening, on arriving at “Fat Franks”, an upmarket and very popular Johannesburg restaurant at the time, my husband and I were both given a tequila as our welcome drink.  Then it was time for the meal to be served and my choice was one of extremely rich food accompanied by wine. I remember having eaten and drunk very little when I had to go to the bathroom where I spent most of the rest of, what should have been a pleasant get together of colleagues, throwing up. It was highly embarrassing as it must have appeared that I had drunk way too much whereas that was very far from the truth. I just had no idea what it was that had caused me to be so ill.

Reflex 2 350x224

Years later, when I studied to become a reflexologist, I soon realised just what the problem had been. The body tries to expel toxins whilst, at the same time, attempting to achieve a state of homeostasis (balance)  when you have a reflexology treatment. Therefore, loading it with more toxins whilst the de-toxifying process is taking place is a recipe for disaster. That is why I have a total aversion to people with very limited knowledge giving others so-called foot treatments. Like anything related to the body, if you don’t know what you are doing and what damage you can possibly cause, then leave it to the experts.

The health benefits from reflexology are numerous and I have been witness to this over the years during which I have given treatments to people of all ages and levels of fitness. The amazing thing for me, after many years, is just how well one is able to pick up on personality traits as well as health issues by studying the feet of the person one is treating.  It is also beneficial for the therapist who is giving the reflexology treatment as the nerve endings which are linked to every part of the body, which one is working on in the feet, are also present in the hands. Therefore, I believe that by giving a treatment and using one’s hands, this has to have positive results for the reflexologist as well as the patient.

It has been found that where reflexologists give treatments to children, who have suffered horrific burns, there appears to be a big reduction in the pain and the trauma which accompanies having the dressings changed.  Several years ago I recall that a Cape Town hospital which has a paediatric burns ward had volunteer reflexologists who were on hand to assist when these painful procedures had to take place. This is probably still the case today and the caring attitude combined with the treatments appear to be of immense value.

You may have had massages and various other forms of alternative treatments. If you have never tried having a reflexology treatment, believe me you will most likely find it a pleasurable experience. This is provided that the person giving the treatment does not use excessive force and cause undue pain. The ideal is that enough pressure is used on every part of the feet to be of benefit without being uncomfortable and hurting you unnecessarily. Enough said. When you are looking for the right therapist,  ask around and make sure that they are qualified to give the treatment.  You will soon find out whether their style and personality suits you and allows you to fully relax and enjoy the entire experience. If you are unable to relax and feel irritated during the session then you need to find somebody else! Putting your feet in another person’s hands is a personal experience and it should be pleasurable.

 

Reflex 3 400x191

So much wasted time

We often bear grudges and carry hurts and slights for years, and I don’t think there is anyone who, if they are totally honest with themselves, can say that they have never borne a grudge against either a family member who has upset them, or a friend or colleague who they feel has let them down in one way or another. It takes courage and a real desire to put matters straight, to actually make the first move and try to normalise the relationship. Not always easy, especially if the other party has decided that they are quite happy with the current status quo. Even if one makes the first move to make amends, it isn’t always a straight forward situation. Often the other party refuses to co-operate and to communicate at all.  After several attempts there is often no other option than to try to put the matter behind you and to move on, but not always as easy as that. Depending on the relationship that exists between the two parties, it can sometimes drag one down emotionally on a regular basis. All of us really do have an innate desire to be liked, if not loved, and failing this can be very upsetting, or even depressing.

Grudge 2 350x153

Looking at other peoples’ scenarios, it is often divorce situations which culminate in grudges and hurts. To have to fight with an ex-partner for maintenance for one’s children can often result in feelings of anger, hurt as well as deep resentment. These feelings are often very obvious to the children of the broken relationship, resulting in unhappy situations for everyone involved. It is never easy to hide hurt and anger and it is often grudgingly that one parent allows the children to spend time with the other. Children soon latch on to the vibes prevalent in a broken relationship and are very adept at using the situation to their own advantage and playing one parent off against the other.

Obviously the ideal scenario would be for both mother and father to remain on good terms with one another, but this seems to be the exception and certainly not the rule. In many cases infidelity has caused the divorce in the first instance, so it would be highly unlikely for there to be too much love lost between the ex partners. Jealousy regarding the comfortable financial status of the errant partner compared to that of the “injured” party,  or the fact that the new spouse is more attractive or more qualified than the ex, can be a constant cause of pain and hurt.  The situation often becomes even worse when the new partner becomes pregnant and there is suddenly a half brother or sister to further complicate matters.

Печать

We most certainly do not live in an ideal world and humans are human because they are creatures with feelings which often are very difficult to disguise. We do not, unlike our canine friends, give unconditional love and ask only for food and shelter. However, having said that, one can look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and he identified man’s first need as being the satisfaction of hunger and thirst i.e. survival. Secondly, the need for shelter and money. So, in that regard, we actually are not unlike our canine friends. However, once our basic needs are satisfied we are driven by other motivating factors such as the need to be loved, accepted and respected by others etc., until, finally, we are able to strive for self- actualisation – not a need which many of us actually achieve.

Just reading what I have written, I would like to reiterate by saying once again that possibly the only real unconditional love we will ever experience in life is that which comes from our four legged friends. They don’t bear grudges, sulk (well not often, anyway), or keep on harping on about past grievances. They seem to have an incredible ability to forgive and forget! If only we could be as simplistic in our relationships then our lives might be so much less challenging.

Grudge 4 350x159

Why no cure for the common cold.

When last did you stop and look around you whilst in either a pharmacy or a supermarket and take note of all the bottles and boxes of products claiming to help you recover from a common cold? The money being made by pharmaceutical companies from we humans trying to stay healthy during winter months must run into the billions (whether rands, pounds, dollars, euros or any other currency). If a cure were to be found for the common cold then there would be no need for all these hundreds and possibly thousands of products cluttering up the shelves.

A cough, a runny nose, itchy ears , sneezing– these can all be signs of a cold and we are constantly being told that the best course of action is usually to try to prevent it from turning into something more serious such as bronchitis or, the worst case scenario, pneumonia. Are we not perhaps prone to being brain washed into believing that we have to take off-the-shelf medication or, worse than that, a prescription for an antibiotic, in order to get rid of the cold? If caught in its early stages  an early night with a home-made toddy could be the best remedy of all, perhaps with no side effects either.

In the past it was the usual routine to drink a hot lemon drink which contained a spoonful of honey  (and maybe a tot of brandy) in order to help us stop coughing and to feel better.  Once tissues replaced those ghastly and bug infested cotton handkerchiefs it became easier to manage one’s cold. Blow, flush away and wash your hands afterwards became routine instead of having all those filthy germs sitting inside a soiled rag in your pocket. Yuck! So, with improved means of coping with that wretched cold what has actually changed for the better?  From taking vitamin C tablets, cough mixtures, rubbing one’s chest and throat with a vaporub, there is still no cure- all for the common cold. Why? Is it possible that, like so many areas in life where the controlling force is money, that any invention which could prove that it really does cure a cold would be hi-jacked before it could become common knowledge? Too many people would lose too much money if none of us ever again needed to peruse the shelves in search of that elusive successful cold remedy.

Common Cold 2 350x233

At the risk of being attacked from all angles by anyone who is earning an extremely lucrative living from being part of a huge pharmaceutical company, I am extremely cynical when it comes to medicines and the ease with which doctors dispense a pill for every possible ailment. Sometimes a placebo might be the best option as we all have heard time and again of the power of our minds. The current extremely high incidence of cancer must be one of the very best calamities as far as the pharmaceutical companies are concerned. The moment anyone is diagnosed with the disease it seems that in most cases the first thing the doctors do is to recommend chemotherapy or radiation, or both. If a growth is removed, then these options also seem to be very much the route which is followed.

Sadly, over the years I have seen many friends as well as a family member suffer the most incredibly painful results of the above treatments and none of them is alive today. So, all the cost and extremely unpleasant side effects didn’t save their lives. In some cases maybe they had a few months longer than if they had opted to refuse the treatments? I know that there are many people here in South Africa who are trying Cannabis Oil and when it comes to pain alleviation, the results would appear to be very positive in many cases. Not for me to judge, but the billions spent annually on chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments would surely be a factor which may be preventing that elusive cancer cure? Just a thought but there must be others out there reading this post who have seen or experienced first hand loved ones suffering the pain and indignity of these treatments  and seen the patients  losing their hair, feeling weak and debilitated for a great deal of the time and then dying anyway.

There do seem to be excellent results in many instances where children have been diagnosed, for example, with childhood leukaemia. Although they have had to endure all the pain and suffering of their chemotherapy treatments, the disease has gone into remission and often never ever raised its ugly head again. As parents it is obviously going to be a case of trying anything and everything to save your child’s life.  When it comes to adults, perhaps we should be considering all our options before taking the route of radical treatments.

However, with all the advances being made in the medical field why do we still not have a cure for cancer? We also don’t have one for the common cold but we are looking at being able to have a body part replaced using 3D imaging. Too much income would be lost by the massive pharmaceutical businesses worldwide if cures were to be readily available perhaps in the form of an injection or drops taken orally as with smallpox or polio.  A controversial issue and one that we could debate ad infinitum. Suffice to say that we have been blessed with a questioning mind (most of us, anyway) and we do have the right to make our own decisions without being bullied into taking a course of action which is against our better judgement.

On a more cheerful  note, let’s all try to keep some kind of balance in our lives as far as our health is concerned and  do our best to enjoy every day to the full. I trust that you found something of interest in this post as I enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper, despite possibly ruffling a few feathers in the process.  Some subjects lend themselves to future posts and health and lifestyle are one of many. So, stay well, eat well, exercise when you can and most of all try to keep a positive outlook on life. Not always easy to do, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

“Suggested remedy for the common cold: a good gulp of
whiskey at bedtime – it’s not very scientific,
but it helps.
” – Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

Too Many Choices

Wouldn’t our lives be so much easier, albeit rather boring, if we had far fewer choices to make every single day? From the moment we wake up each morning we have to decide what we are going to wear. There is no problem if you belong to an organization which has its own uniform or are in a job such as a nurse or a fireman which determines a dress code. Most of us, however, have a certain amount of freedom when it comes to deciding on what to wear today and it can be a real headache. So much depends on the weather as well as which of one’s clothes have been washed and ironed and are already back in the wardrobe. Making a choice that suits our current mood is also part of the equation.

Right, so you have finally made up your mind on how to dress for the day. Now it’s a case of deciding what to eat for breakfast. Remember that we are constantly being bombarded by so called experts telling us that this is the most important meal of the day. Now to decide as to whether to have a bowl of cereal or some toast and marmalade or to cook some eggs, or to go the healthy route and make a smoothie. Do you feel like your normal cup of coffee or is it to be rooibos tea or juice this morning? Decisions, decisions, decisions and the day has only just started. If you have a family to consider then the scenario just mentioned soon becomes a battle ground with every member’s mood as well as their own way of making choices potentially creating absolute chaos. Suffice to say that morning mayhem, due to having to make choices, could be ageing you well ahead of your time!

Choices 2 350x233

So, you (and hopefully the rest of the menagerie – cats and dogs included along with a spouse and offspring) are dressed and fed (usually no clothes are involved for the cats and dogs) and ready to face the challenges of the day. As for you, well you have a shopping list which somehow needs to be taken care of along with your normal commitments.  This will have to wait until after work when you can stop off at the local shops on your way home. You have had to make choices in your office environment all day long and despite being exhausted, making choices just continues when you look at your shopping list.

Is it better to buy toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening toothpaste, fluoride toothpaste? Surely one that does the whole bang shoot is the best choice in a busy life? Then what about the shampoo? One which all the family can use or one for thinning hair, one for dry hair, one for oily hair, one for heat damaged hair – oh for goodness sake now what to choose? Right, let’s get on with this as it’s getting late – one bottle for all hair types will just have to do for now.

Over to the groceries and more decisions to make. Beef, chicken, pork or fish for dinner or should it be a vegetarian meal tonight? Most of the vegetables look a bit jaded after being in the fridge all day but the carrots look ok and the green beans seem fresh enough. Now for the bread for tomorrow. Should it be brown, wholewheat, a farm style loaf (but that’s white bread and it’s meant to be unhealthy). Oh what the heck, it looks the most appetising of them all, so in the trolley it goes.  Rush, rush, rush – time is running away and the family will all be at home by now waiting for your return so you can whizz up a delicious evening meal.  Just remembered, there is washing powder to buy and which brand should that be? The usual one is out of stock so it takes forever to compare prices as well as claims regarding the efficiency of each product before a box is put in the trolley. By now you are totally fed up and, along with every other tired, and disgruntled end of day shopper, you have to stand in the queue to pay for your purchases.

When you finally get to the checkout lady you still have to decide whether to pay with your already heavily loaded credit card or to use those extremely rare bank notes. When will the decision making end? You carry away your shopping and put it in the car.  Now to decide on whether to hoot at the gate of your home in the hope that someone will come out to help carry the packages inside, or just to drive in, park and go it all alone. Just another day filled to the brim with having to make choices – but what would the other option be. Daily rations of bread and water and an orange jumpsuit to wear every day perhaps? Maybe not such a good option after all! So carrying on making choices has to win the vote!

1901.w029.n002.615B.p0.615