Flageolets — French White Beans

Flageolets — French White Beans

Years ago, I bought some flageolets at a farmer’s market and I have been saving them in a jar. I finally cooked them up according to a French cookbook, blanching first then using a pressure cooker for 15 minutes instead of simmering them for an hour. They are delicious! Here they are sauteed with peppers, carrots, onions, garlic and ginger. I later added mushrooms, brown rice and kale fresh-picked from my garden.

I also found some rambutan at Trader Joe’s and brought it to the Saunterer’s Potluck on July 1.

rambutan

Rambutan from Guatemala

Dates and Almonds

Dates and Almonds

Brought this appetizer to a summer potluck party and it was a success. I used ordinary dates and sliced toasted almonds but I think it would be much nicer with the premium ingredients listed. Because the dates were small, it was finger food.

Dates with Cream and Chopped Pistachios

Ingredients

12 large medjool dates
24 whole almonds (preferably blanched), walnuts or pecans
3 to 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped pistachios

Preparation

Rinse and dry the dates. Make a clean cut along the side of each date to open, and remove the pit.
Stuff each date with 2 whole almonds and lightly pinch closed. (The recipe can be made up to this point up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container.)
When ready to serve, arrange dates cut sides up on a plate or platter. Drizzle on the crème fraîche, making a dollop on each date. Sprinkle on the citrus zest, then the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately, as finger food or on plates with a small fork and knife.

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Free Ride on Smart Train

Free Ride on Smart Train


Martha joined me for the June 29, 2017 Preview Ride on the SMART train from the Rohnert Park station to the Marin Civic Center station and back. The whole thing took two hours — from 10 a.m. to noon. Finding the parking lot was a little dicey — it is not well marked and Google maps did not have pinpoint accuracy. The entrance was in a curve of a small Rohnert Park street, and it was not really wide enough for two way traffic. I was lucky to find a parking spot in the small lot — I wonder how they are going to use it for commuters. It does not seem to be designed for easy access by bus, and is too far away from SSU to walk.

Martha snagged us seats at the table right behind the pilot cabin, so we chatted with the 50-ish driver who let us peer into the “wheelhouse.” It looked like a console for a river ship, something that is mainly designed to go forward in a single plane. There were plenty of security personnel, but they were friendly. A man in his 30’s came onboard with his bicycle and 10-year-old son, also with a bicycle. Even though the man was tall and strong, he had a hard time getting the bike on the gleaming, brushed stainless steel bike hooks that hung from the ceiling right behind where I was sitting.

He hung it handlebars-up and that was clearly wrong — I wouldn’t be able to get past the bike to get out the door. A security guard pointed to the directions, which were on the wall behind where the bike was hung so they were hard to see. The cyclist re-hung the bike handlebars-down, but the front wheel was flopping around.

The instructions were images-only, no words, and did not address where the handlebars should go. The security guard interpreted the images for the cyclist, saying that the bottom cleat first had to be slid up vertically, then folded forward to create a cradle for the bicycle tire. There was a lanyard to secure the wheel to the cradle, but the lanyard was clipped under the assembly. There was no room for the man to squeeze down to the floor between his bicycle and the back of my seat, so his 10-year-old son had to crawl in, release the lanyard, raise and flip forward the cradle, then thread the lanyard through the spokes to secure the tire.

When the boy crawled out backwards, it was clear that there was not enough room for his bike to be hung on the second ceiling hook. They put his bike in a separate bike compartment. Each bike compartment had two hooks but only room for one bike. A uniformed, pretty woman in her 30’s came by handing out literature and I asked if she worked for SMART. Yes, she was in marketing. I explained to her the inadequacy of the signage for securing bicycles. She said they had worked with the bicycle alliance to come up with this design.

Martha and I did not get to chat much because the train sounded its horn three times at each rural grade crossing. It was silent only in Novato and Petaluma but quite noisy everywhere in between. The ride could be a little bouncy when we moved onto a short parallel track. There were toilets in our car and a snack bar in the corresponding section of the back-to-back attached car. It was easy to walk between the two cars, but of course we could not walk to the third car which was attached nose-to-nose.

The SMART train is single-track for much of the trip, with sidings so trains can pass, and one double-platform station (Petaluma). We got on the train, rode to the end, stepped out so they could sweep it, then stepped back into the same seats on the same train and rode back to where we started. It is hard to see the commuter possibilities for this right now, but when they build the spur from San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry Landing, it will be much more useful.

Fingers crossed.

Tears Release The Beloved

Tears Release The Beloved

I have been singing with Threshold Choir for more than three years, and have been singing at the bedsides of the dying for about two. Much of my singing is at nursing homes and falls into the category of “visiting the shut-in,” but two recent bedsides have been an important learning experience for me.


The first time I sang at the bedside of Bruce, he was at home, surrounded by his beloved miniature longhair dachshunds and his wife. He did not interact with us, and others from our choir sang at his home in the following weeks. Then he was transferred to ICU for breathing problems. He had been sick for a long time, and I was part of the team that sang for him while he was on breathing support. Breathing support was removed the next day and we sang for him two more times. His room was always filled with friends and someone was always holding his hand. We had been instructed to sing upbeat, gospel-style songs. His wife told us that she had told Bruce that it was okay for him to go, but his vitals had not changed much from when he was on breathing support. He did not interact with us during any of these visits.

On the fourth sing, Bruce’s wife was holding his hand and the mood in the room had changed from the upbeat vibe the day before to something more somber. Our song mother sensed the change and did not sing the gospel songs, instead singing the end-of-life songs that are our true mission. As we sang, the steadfast courage the wife had been displaying slipped away and she began to quietly sob, her tears falling on Bruce’s hand. We continued to sing with lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes until she regained her composure. Bruce passed away that night.

Last Friday, I sang at the bedside of an eight-year-old girl. She was at home with her mother who proudly showed us a video of her daughter singing. It clearly showed that this little girl had been “medically fragile” since birth. The mother expertly infused fluids into the girl’s IV. The girl was on the couch in the living room and was on breathing support, too. We were visited by her older brother, for whom we sang Hollow Bamboo, and her baby sister, in diapers and still nursing. The mother was trying to be brave, but when the other two children were cleared from the room and she was there with us and holding the hand of her dying daughter, she began to weep during “Guide Me Through The Darkness.” We kept singing softly until she regained her composure. Eva died that night.

Both Bruce and Eva were deeply loved by their families, and yet I could see how holding on to what must be released is the source of so much suffering. The people who were on the Threshold seemed to need to be released by those whose prayers held them back. When the bereaved person truly let them go, the communication seemed to flow through holding the hand of the loved one on her tearful face.

We sang at the end of Bruce’s funeral — the gospel song.

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Anger and Mourning on the American Right” is the subtitle of this book by Arlie Russel Hochschild, a Berkeley sociologist. Based mainly on interviews with Tea Party Republicans in Louisiana, she delves into the “why” of poor white votes for Trump and other Republicans. Louisiana is one of the poorest and least-healthy states. It is heavily polluted because weak enforcement of weak regulations make it attractive to oil and chemical plants. Polluting industries seek the “least resistant personality profile” in the residents of the area they plan to poison (page 81):

  • Longtime residents of small towns in the South or Midwest
  • High school educated only
  • Catholic
  • Uninvolved in social issues, and without a culture of activism
  • Involved in “nature exploitative occupations” such as mining, farming, ranching
  • Conservative
  • Republican
  • Advocates of the free market

Hochschild develops a “deep story” to explain their traditional values of loyalty, sacrifice, and endurance. Polluting industries manipulate them into fearing the loss of their income if they don’t turn a blind eye to the secret pollution, the dying trees, the disappearing fish, the increasing illness. Church, state, and politicians tug their loyalty strings to believe in Capitalism at the expense of the environment. They endure the secret spillage into their waterways, staying close to home and their traditional values. They resent Liberals who point to the contamination and tell them they “are not feeling the right feelings.”

These white people work hard and they scorn the shiftless, no ‘count people below them in the social order who live on government handouts and never work. They identify with the white plantation owners, the 1%, and believe that through hard work, luck and family connections, they too will live in the white-columned mansions along the Mississippi River. But they don’t go to college and they don’t learn new technology or new ways of thinking.

They are resentful of affirmative-action types (women, blacks, refugees) who “cut in front of them in line” for the good jobs. They believe the government paid for Obama’s education, and for Michelle’s Harvard education, too. Because they never bought and read his books, they don’t realize that their education loans were paid for with the book royalties. They believe the government subsidizes this “line-cutting” that has stagnated their wages and lives.

They don’t want to feel like downtrodden victims like blacks, women and gays. They want to feel like the white 1%. Their endurance is a matter of honor. Honor is sacrifice. With their tight communities and limited education, their feedback loop is small and fed by Fox News.

Trump cashed in on Identity Politics for white men who felt trapped in 1950s ethics and values. The ones holding the KKK signs in Atchafalaya. Read David Brooks review of the book in his Fourth of July column.

Empathy and Lack of Empathy

Empathy and Lack of Empathy

Two videos: one from Brene Brown on how empathy differs from sympathy. The second, a TED talk, on how narcissists lack empathy, and how ordinary narcissism differs from covert narcissism.

How are Covert Narcissists different from the garden-variety kind? According to Spartan Life Coach

You are Told: Narcissists are always brash, loud, assertive, flashy and Confident.

The problem is: Coverts are quiet, insecure and passive.

You are Told: Narcissists will never apologize for things they do.

The problem is: Coverts can learn that a quick and TOTAL apology is a really slick way of getting their target to “go back to sleep” if it looks like they are waking up.

You are told: Narcissists are ambitious, successful, go-getters full of energy and pumped with charismatic charm.

The problem is: Coverts are marked by failed ambition, chronic feelings of emptiness, fragility, low functioning and when depleted can frequently sink into outright depression.

You are told: Narcissists can be detected because they will always tell you how amazing they are and by bragging about their achievements.

The problem is: Coverts are known for presenting themselves as vulnerable victims who can even use that vulnerability as a hook to bait you in!

The article goes on to say that while the overt narcissist believes they are awesome, the world largely agrees with them. On the other hand, the covert narcissist believes they are awesome and the world largely disagrees with them. Narcissistic supply is scarce, forcing them to be more cunning and deceptive than the overt narcissist.

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY offers the Seven Signs of a Covert Narcissist. A key differentiator is passive-aggressiveness.

Some introverted narcissists deal with disagreeable people or circumstances in passive-aggressive ways. Upon receiving a reasonable request from you, they might say ‘okay,’ “yes,” “of course,” or “as you wish,” then either do nothing, or behave however they please. When you inquire why they didn’t follow-through on an arrangement, they may shrug it off with an excuse, or say nonchalantly that their way is better.

Perhaps SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN said it best. “23 signs You a Covert Narcissist Masquerading as Sensitive Introvert

In a post on The Narcissistic Life, Amanda says in the comments:

Gary, thank you for bringing up the Empath. As a daughter and sister of Narcissists, I do not see myself as an “inverted narcissist.” After a failed marriage of 24 years, I was told my ex was a narcissist. The signs were all there right in front of me, but I couldn’t see them or didn’t want to. Since the divorce I have been in a few relationships and most were narcissistic. The Narcissist is attracted to the Empath so they can gain control, power and they know the Empath will submit. The last relationship lasted for 2 years instead of 24 and he is a sociopathic/narcissist. The signs were there, but I ignored them because the “love bombing” was intoxicating and almost suffocating. I believed every word he said.

When he began to tire of me he started finding ways so I would push him out of my life. I ended up telling him he had 24 hours to get his things. I already knew he had shut me down or “discarded” me..

I can see my part in the desire for being loved from these type of men. Since I couldn’t find that in my dad and brothers, I sought this need through men.

In each relationship, there is a longing to show and express love, but they don’t seem to want this love. Maybe I never was able to attach to my dad because he was not able to love himself. As his daughter, I could sense this and tried over and over I tried to tell him how wonderful he is and how much he is loved.
He has never accepted this from me or accepted this within himself.

The fixer…

Commenter Tmoney goes on to say:

… “the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.” is what sets it apart. The Empath is never looking to feel like a masterful provider (someone with power over someone else), Empaths serve because they want to, its natural. Its not a way to control people.

The Inverted Narcissist is ultimately seeking to feel POWERFUL by having a Narcissist depend on them. (Because if they are the supply, they can manipulate the one who needs it.)

The Empath is seeking to feel LOVED by having someone depend on them.

This is why I feel they are separate beings/personality types. I THINK THEY CALL THEM MIRROR NARCISSISTS BECAUSE THEY PUSH AND PULL JUST AS MUCH AS THE NARCISSIST DOES, SO THEY ARE THEIR EQUAL OPPOSITE.

EMPATHS ON THE OTHER HAND ARE NOT PUSHING AND PULLING SO THEY ARE DIRECT OPPOSITES TO NARCISSISTS. THEY ARE THE LACK OF PULL/PUSH TO THE NARCISSIST’S PULL/PUSH. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but that’s the only way I can describe it.

Inverted Narcissists and Narcissists play an equal tug of war. Narcissists invite Empaths to play tug of war and the Empaths drop the rope, which is why the Narcissists find them so interesting.

Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days

Woman Lives Undersea for 8 Days


Here I am with Dr. Dawn Kernagis, a member of Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, who spoke at SRJC today about doing biomedical research on the effects living underwater for eight days as part of NASA’s NEEMO 21 crew. Here is a video of her talk, “Dr Dawn Kernagis talks about life undersea during NASA s NEEMO 21 Mission.” So impressive! This was part of Women’s History Month.