Strawberry Moon, Shortcake, and June

According to Native American tradition June was the perfect ripening time to pick strawberries by the full moonlight … since it’s also cooler in the evenings and less critters like bees, my guess is? The article by USA Today published last June 2018 suggests that the warm color of the moon as it is closer to the earth and the related folklore give the related “strawberry moon” reference.

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Full moon overlooks the cityscape

Buying my 1 kg. (about 2 lbs.) in-season June strawberries I was thinking about what desert to make  — despite the fact strawberries have one of the highest ratings of pesticide residue,  about 10 mins steeped in cold water with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a “pinch” of salt helps reduce this ‘bad for your health’ stuff according to experts —  In thinking along the healthier eating lines, we should try to reduce calories due to high sugar in most strawberry deserts. But how?  Then it comes to me…. as a kid I recall those “special occasions” with my aunt Dorothy who introduced me to so many “American” traditions including antique stores, the 4th of July Independence Day parade in the historic Marblehead, MA. complete with fireworks, barbecues, and yes, strawberry shortcake!

In the 1980s there was a greeting card that evolved into many cartoon characters who lived in “Strawberry Land” including friends Lemon Meringue and Blueberry Muffin (by the way I love those deserts too!). Apparently, this became popular again with a newer North American (Canadian – American) ownership and animated series in about 2010!  This desert is still an all-time classic. Growing into adulthood with all the pains and  needing to cut down on extra calories one can understand why it’s best to keep thoughts only on the cartoon’s “Berry Adventures” 😎🍓

So, I substituted the whipped cream with strained Greek yogurt and guess what? It is simply fabulous with that extra protein needed and less sugar calories. Yummy! Well,  I still like those strawberry daiquiris with my leftover strawberry sauce …maybe I’ll drink to that?! Cheers, and happy summer.

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Paper, “weight” I’m voting like a hamster

 

F9EEE044-8662-40C0-9C23-69342E8AE0CCHamsters are mainly nocturnal creatures that like to burrow in small places and live for cutting up paper and storing it as a way of creating a sleep cushion. This is Astroid our Syrian hamster…and his little rocket shaped home akin to Barbara Eden’s “I dream of Jeannie” bottle home. Our hamster gets plenty of exercise on his wheel and we even put him into a “hamster ball” for about 10 minutes twice a week for extra exercise ….after all animals naturally do what is best for them! But what about us? We often “spin our wheels” and get nowhere fast ….especially in the name of ‘progress.’

I had thought of it before I had to vote this year for the EU elections how ridiculously burdensome and outright confusing it is to vote in Greece. I better understand why the government can really be “hazardous” for our health — check out my ‘when systems don’t work’ post.  Speaking of ‘civic literacy’ as I pondered over the 42 different parties to choose from I realized

1) I didn’t know half of the parties running for office,  never mind unidentifiable logos and rebellious terminology such as “adarsia” (ανταρσία) was more often an option.

2) so much paper wasted —those poor landfills — and nothing is done electronically (yet),

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3) there was so much dirty tagging around the public school  grounds (the place I voted at) and even this silly “penis” series  …given it was a high school and students that age explore newfound  sexuality I guess we should not focus on the vandalism or call it “penis envy” (lol) ! EDC469DC-CDC0-4997-AD02-5A7890ACF5C7.jpegDo the municipalities and the school principals not understand about recycling? About teaching kids to “care” about their school grounds as well as each other ? Do I need to say more?! Why all the paper “weight”? Yet we “wait” too long to start building health literacy in our younger people?

I really liked the cover of the Quarterly magazine put out by the University of Athens ‘New Health’ (Νέα Υγεία) 84E66815-FEE4-4F0A-BE3B-0ACF042A1471so let’s turn a new page and focus on prevention like primary basic things to help kids build confidence and take better care of their bodies, and maybe rethink our waste for elections all for the good of health literacy shall we? Else we simply remain ‘in the dark.’

Flying lanterns & Safe Returns

Lanterns made of biodegradable material, big and small, yellow colored with more bold red and blue checkered patterns, floated to the sky by the dozens, accompanied by fireworks, on the Saturday of the Resurrection. Traditions such as these, as well as a simple lighting of candles are customary to Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter week in several towns and villages in Greece and other parts of Eastern Europe.

I was in awe of the spectacle in the town of Leonidio former municipality of southern Arcadia, Eastern Peloponnesus. A small town with a traditional “Tsakonika” language dialect, and modern traditions including rock climbing, Leonidio will also have a summer feast of the eggplant  (aubergine) in the summer “Melitzazz” festival with jazz music 🎼

Yes, there are many pagan traditions that have made it across to religious Christian traditions as a fellow blogger rightfully addresses (Aratta) and the above are a welcomed change adding value to our trip while helping the local economy.

However, some practices are more difficult to fathom at close range including fireworks and other “poppers” including shooting guns for “fun”. This includes a random bullet on Easter Sunday landing in an 8-year-old’s head who is now fighting for her life in the town of Thiva, and a cameraman who lost his life at 58 from a misfired firework in the town of Kalamata. Many towns every year have fireworks to bring in tourism but at what costs? And we as viewers need to keep our healthy distance to prevent injury.

Health literacy people, to prevent injury by safe practices! The US Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out some good guidelines  to be safe around fireworks (CPSC) particularly for young children who may be “curious” or sensation-seeking teens and adults who tinker with danger.

May Wreaths

On May 1st we make wreaths from the earth’s bounty!

Take a moment this May 1st to pick your flowers and dance around the May pole (May energy) or rethink labor “rights” traditionally celebrated as “Labour Day” by many countries, neither North America nor Australia (hmm!) , on the side of safety first and occupational health.

“Rotting” from the Inside…Notre Dame, healthy society choices

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The Griffin of Time

Things get old, people get old, some things are preventable or are they? Thus after reading the article in the Wall Street Journal about “rotting from the inside”  the recent devastating fire of Notre Dame Cathedral last week and many that followed including the backlash towards the millionaires who want to rebuild this historic monument it got me thinking of so many related issues of social equity, spirituality, and choices.

Then two fathers in different continents killing their children and then themselves in order to “punish” the wife or girlfriends. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka hotels and churches and the intention of harm to a group of people affiliated to a faith (namely Christianity), all akin to the martyrdom of the pre-Christian Roman times. Same story, different century. Schools destroyed in Palestinian settlements by Israel — backlash politics?

In the late 70s we had the band Bee Gees sing the ever popular “Staying Alive” and now we have the “3-Gs” — Globalization, gentrification, girl mutilation (female genital mutilation — no health benefits to girls or women just another act of violence). It’s amazing how power and control works. Check out the Duluth Model (Domestic Abuse Intervention Project) to better understanding these dynamics for continued efforts of change.

Seemingly we can try to protect ourselves but given the randomness of modern times it seems we might affect our own life choices part of the time. My griffin is a reminder of this factor and how precious it is. Thus we should do our best, and build our own and others health literacy, as healthy functioning societies depend on it. Whether via formal or informal  education, and cultural influence we need to give weight on special populations and women. Why? Because our children are happier and thriving when their primary caretaker, usually a mother, benefits too.

One major soccer (football) athlete in the Liverpool team, Mohamed Salah, originally from Egypt, recently stated that men’s attitudes in the Middle East need to change towards women, and give them more credit. Never mind the recent world trends on female infanticide….not good. Yes, women are not just here to procreate, all societies must understand the burdens on women to be caretakers, breadwinners, often with little or no support as well as lower wages.

Let’s keep with the bright side. I was happy to read that despite the church devastation in the Paris blaze, a group of bees managed to make it unscathed;  surprisingly a great number of employees benefit from the honey produced annually — 75 kilograms (165 pounds) to be exact! See full story by Huffington Post  here. And yes, we have a Queen Bee respected by and relied on by her workers for a beehive to thrive in nature. Take the hint people.  Just in time for thinking ahead to Mother’s Day May 12th.

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The Audacity of Hope…Public Health week

The U.S. celebrates initiatives that make people’s lives better during April 1 – 7th national public health week and April 7th is World Health day (celebrated since 1948)!  There are so many issues to ponder over and one to focus on is giving people hope for better communities with less crime, more positivity, better infrastructure, building health literacy and overall wellness.

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Keep areas clean

Before Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. President I read his book “The Audacity of Hope” and years before a book about the community project titled “Streets of Hope” reflecting the community reorganization of a downtrodden area in Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood initiative. It is vital to understand how to motivate people and what community organizing is about — sustained efforts long-term. Reframing everything for positive changes does not mean turning a blind eye, but rethinking community strengths and addressing weaknesses. Understanding this first-hand I am constantly checking in to past efforts started and understand what Prochaska and Diclemente did so much research on years ago, the Stages of Change, a great one to add to our tool kits.

Taking the streets of most parts of Athens one sees many historic areas falling apart, trash, many run-down neoclassical buildings and mainly dirty tagging and more trash everywhere. As I travel to various places, I take photos of people’s work in trying to beautify their neighborhoods, often doing it with their own money and supervision. Change starts here, it starts with us, but we need to also maintain these efforts.

We know from the Broken Windows Theory (criminology article by Wilson & Kelling, 1982) that once one person creates a problematic situation like breaking a window other people soon follow. This can extend to modern ‘trashing’ of cities like the images featured above.  One friend’s motivational speech reminded me about social modeling (Bandura, social psychologist, would be  joyous with this) as her quote rings in my ears “if they can, we can too!” Let’s move away from negative to positive changes, see ‘what works’ in other societies and adapt for our own benefit towards long-term community health. Thus the concept of eudemonia goes beyond traditional wellness to incorporate physical, mental, and spiritual health extending beyond our  ‘selves’ to the larger community and global initiatives for all.

We have the right to:

1) clean cities without trash everywhere (Kondo’s method of cleaning house applied here) and most buildings desecrated by vandals. Respect cities.

2) hope for fellow humans to respect themselves and others by caring and helping each other and their environments.  Getting into positions of power to do away with corrupt politicians or any world self-centered mongul, let’s tell them to “take a hike.”

3) invest in health and focus on prevention — efforts like those by the CDC Foundation are prime examples of innovation and high-impact programs. Whether it’s an effort to combat depression or one to increase awareness of the need for vaccinations, efforts like the recent MIT Hacking event prove worthy of collaborative and volunteer work.

4) build infrastructure towards these goals, and be the change you want!

5) promote personal skills and efforts that have the potential to go global. This includes leadership and public speaking from clubs such as Boys and Girls clubs, Scouts, Lions or Toastmasters International (Toastmasters Greece link), and other similar local efforts reflective of these.

Yes we do, and have the right to the ‘audacity’ of hope!

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Do clean up the trash people (a positive reminder, Athens)

We need some ‘snow literacy’

Perhaps it is due to ‘chance’ or is it related to climate changes, but many parts of the world are having some unusual weather.  Take snow in greater Athens.  Unexpected yet so perfect ‘powder snow’ as the image below from Kifissia (Northern suburb of Athens).  In most places it was about 1 foot of snow (0.30 cm.) but in other places over 4 feet (1.22 meters). From the perspective of our individual and community knowledge and what I’ve been seeing in the local news here in Greece, our ‘snow literacy’ is lacking. Then again, some other crazy stories from snow-familiar places like New England (U.S.) who put out calls for snow emergencies are similar — this includes the guy who went jogging during a snow emergency and was accidentally plowed over because the snow plower worker did not see him (understandable due to low light or snow flurries)… or people driving fast in dangerous snow conditions.

There are many types of snow that one can find from places like the ‘National Snow and Ice Data Center’ (Types of Snow, NSIDC). We all can remember at least once making those wonderful snow angels so why ruin that pleasantry with a tragedy film of small-town America which received low reviews this past decade (Snow Angels from the New York Times Review).

snowy kifissia

Snow melts, hence ice, hence slippage and likely injury.  You need to sweep and shovel the snow, throw sand or salt on it as it melts, and at night when it is colder tread carefully (including appropriate shoes, and car tires) or not at all.  Avoid slipping, sliding, to prevent injury. Of course on the other hand, some physical therapists, orthopedics and sports doctors will have some extra work!

Question #1 — why go running in your school courtyard if your principal told you not to go out?  This happened to a school today in Northern Greece and the young man (anonymous) at about age 15 (the highest age of ‘sensation-seeking behaviors’ as described by developmentalists) fell and broke his leg.  His parents are now going to sue.

Question #2 — can parents afford to not go to work because their kids’ schools are declared closed?  This is because the municipality does not have appropriate snow plowing machines, no basic shoveling done, and worse no salt to throw on the ice.

Question #3 — unrealistic expectations from some people expecting the government to actually plow their front door or worse, beating up the slow plower person because they did ‘not do a good job’ with the street? This is another unrealistic expectation.

Question #4 — why can’t people be responsible to take care of ploughing their front sidewalk as they do in other parts of the world, else be fined?  This could include cleaning up waste or unwanted tagging graffiti (some of it is done because the thieves want to ‘mark’ their target territory). Since we also want to respect cities I must emphasize the recent ‘fines’ placed on a 15-year-old Greek girl who thought it would be ‘cute’ to write her name and ‘was here’ on a historical bridge in Florence, Italy. She got caught, fined, and could have faced imprisonment.  My final question — why are we not following suit in common sense policies and procedures?

Yes indeed, snow literacy should be one of the fundamentals of survival and overall health literacy.