Posted in Life, Quotes, Daily, Random Thoughts, Family and Society

Of Roses and Thorns

An unexpected meeting with a friend of the previous workplace at the hospital, had lead to a short chat over a cup of tea. While enlisting the difficulties she had encountered on the home front and professional front, she had a lot to brood over and take over a negative vibe. Surprisingly her attitude and outlook was more of hopeful, than what would mine have been, if I were in her shoes. Facing life daily with a husband who has been bedridden (victim of a drunk driving accident), diagnosed with SLE, holding temporary jobs with children still in school are just few of the problems that were tackled. While holding the fort with an optimistic outlook outlook is difficult, the fact that she and many more like do it, is what gives a new meaning to positive approach in life.

“People who are too optimistic seem annoying. This is an unfortunate misinterpretation of what an optimist really is.

An optimist is neither naive, nor blind to the facts, nor in denial of grim reality. An optimist believes in the optimal usage of all options available, no matter how limited. As such, an optimist always sees the big picture. How else to keep track of all that’s out there? An optimist is simply a proactive realist.

An idealist focuses only on the best aspects of all things (sometimes in detriment to reality); an optimist strives to find an effective solution. A pessimist sees limited or no choices in dark times; an optimist makes choices.

When bobbing for apples, an idealist endlessly reaches for the best apple, a pessimist settles for the first one within reach, while an optimist drains the barrel, fishes out all the apples and makes pie.
Annoying? Yes. But, oh-so tasty!”
-Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Making sense of optimism is never easy from another point of view. One of the aspects of keeping an optimistic outlook to life is to find an approach which encompasses an effective way out of the problems. For those who can do it in a subtle manner, while at the same time not fail to appreciate the gifts of life and its beauty are the true teachers of “optimism”. As taught and drilled into the mind, from a very young age, life isn’t a bed of roses. But what one must remember at all accounts is that, for every thorn along the way, the final destination holds a rose. While there mayn’t be a bed of roses for everyone, nothing stops one from rising above the thorns, appreciating the beauty and fragrance of the roses; for such is life.

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

“Gains” by the Storm

No pain. No gain.

The saying as above, has been drummed into us from childhood and carried over to the adult lives. While the early days may have left us wallowing to it’s reality, while those peers from the rich, social backgrounds get “everything easy” as the rest slogs it out, adult life brings out the saying in its true form. As the years mature, one gives their best shot and bear the fruit of it in due immediate course of time never comes along. What happens to one, when despite all the pain, gain is absent ?

“It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.”  Amelia Barr

Those times, when all the pains seem fruitless and drain us of the mental hope, one needs to keep their inner flame going. Gathering courage to master the raging storm isn’t easy, but once we pull it out from within; surviving the storm would be the gain from the pain. On those days or times, when the pain hasn’t borne fruit; knowing and redefining the “gain” is what keeps the hope going. Though the immediate gain mayn’t be what is as perceived; handling the storm and crossing it is, at times, the biggest gain of all.

“You can be in the storm, but don’t let the storm get in you.” Joel Osteen

Margie DeMerell

There will be storms, child
There will be storms
And with each tempest
You will seem to stand alone
Against cruel winds

But with time, the rage and fury
Shall subside
And when the sky clears
You will find yourself
Clinging to someone
You would have never known
But for storms.

“Dig deep & pull the roots of confidence from the ground of your being, standing firm in the raging storm until sunlight blossoms inside you.” Curtis Tyrone Jones

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Madeleine for holidays

Entering into the last month of the year, the delight of enjoying the twilight mornings with the warm cup of tea in the bitter chill of the air, would be better with a little of the small crunchy or tiny delights to add to the tea. In fact with holidays round the corner, a regular stock of the ready homemade sweet dry desserts especially cakes, cookies and biscuits would come in handy.

Among them are the treats of small sponge cakes with their distinctive shell-like shape, baked in pans and can be made with the basic ingredients. Known as the madeleine or petite madeleine, these traditional small cakes trace their origins to the Lorraine region in northeastern France. By legend these cakes have been there in the 17th century French cusine, although the increased use of metal moulds (18th century) had led to their increased use. By the end of the 19th century, the madeleine is considered a staple of the diet of the French bourgeoisie.

By etymology, the term madeleine describes “a small cake”. Made from génoise cake batter (with the suspended air in the mixed batter giving the volume to the cake) with traditional recipes adding on finely ground almonds, nuts or lemon zest for their special lemony flavour. In Britain, similar cakes are baked in dariole molds, they are coated in jam, desiccated coconut and topped with glacé cherry.

“On a pound of flour, you need a pound of butter, eight egg whites & yolks, three fourths of a pound of fine sugar, a half glass of water, a little grated lime, or preserved lemon rind minced very finely, orange blossom praliné; knead the whole together, & make little cakes, that you will serve iced with sugar.”
“Cakes à la Madeleine”. Menon, Les soupers de la Cour ou L’art de travailler toutes sortes d’aliments, p.282 (1755)

The madeleine has been mentioned by the culinary writers during the Napoleonic era, especially in the recipe books of Antonin Carême and Grimod de la Reynière. One record of the first recipe traces to the “cakes à la Madeleine and other small desserts” (1758) of a French retainer of an Irish Jacobite refugee, Lord Southwell. Tracing the roots of “Madeleine”, there are several interesting legends pertaining to the origin of the cake. While one considers the name centered from a female character of Lorraine, probably a chef with the patron being Paul de Gondi (17th century cardinal), owner of a castle in Commercy. Another legend consider the inventor to be Madeleine Paulmier, cook for Stanislaus I, duke of Lorraine and exiled King of Poland (18th century). As the legend goes, Louis XV (son-in-law of the duke) charmed by the little cakes prepared by Madeleine Paulmier (1755), named them after her and Maria Leszczyńska, his wife had introduced them soon afterward to the court in Versailles which soon became a favoured French recipe. Two legends link the cake with the pilgrimage to Compostela (Spain) where Madeleine, a pilgrim is said to have brought back the recipe from her voyage or a cook named Madeleine is said to have offered little cakes in the shape of a shell to the pilgrims passing through Lorraine. While another legend states that Madeleine was the creation from the kitchens of Prince Talleyrand by the pastry chef Jean Avice (19th century) who is said to have baked little cakes in Aspice moulds.

Not just in the kitchen, but Madeleine have made their significant impact in literature with Proust’s “episode of the madeleine” as an instance of involuntary memory in his book In Search of the Lost Time. Similar to the madeleine are the “financiers” or the Malaysian Bahulu. One of the benefits of getting down to making Madeleine for the holidays is the ease in its’ preparation, variability of ingredients as well as the versatility of it being a part of the small and the large holiday get-togethers. As for the simplicity in style, a little of “food art” will make the difference. Adding to the festive spirit, madeleine can indeed spice up the holiday season this year.

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World

Weave of the Ribbon

“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abe Lincoln

Unexpected news or shockers from what was previously imagined as real can give a jolt to the person when understanding hits the surface. Yet when it does happens, how one reacts or rather how all of us react, makes the biggest difference.

35 years male. Single. Known case of thalassemia major. On blood transfusions since age of six years. Recurrent infections. HIV ELISA positive.

40 years female. Recurrent infections since the past year. Atypical pneumonia. Disease profiles variable. HIV ELISA positive.

7 year old male.  Recurrent oral candidiasis. Recent diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis. HIV ELISA and PCR positive.

These above cases are not even close to the tip of the iceberg of the damage caused by what was originally believed to be the mutated form of the wild virus in non-human primates. Rising to global pandemic proportions, the origins are traced to as early as 1910 wherein probably the wild virus underwent mutations to the present form by series of changes ranging from suppression of the innate and internal immune response, high-risk transmission channels as well as social and environmental changes leading to the rapid spread of the mutated virus form. Though the earliest well-documented case of HIV in a human was done in 1959, the clinical cluster of cases (1981) in the United States with rare types of pneumonia (symptoms of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)) and rise of previously rare skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) prompted the CDC to develop a task force to control the outbreak. With these opportunistic infections being more prevalent in the hemophiliacs, drug users, certain endemic areas and social or sexual preferences; the task force stepped up the ante and the term AIDS was coined and brought to the forefront of the mass public.

From Ryan White to Greg Louganis or Magic Johnson and many numerous people, each of them had fought their battle with the disease of HIV/AIDS. Whether it was by their circumstances or series of unfortunate events, the questions and chaotic thoughts every person or loved one goes through on hearing the positive confirmation is the plenty of “why me’s” and the uncertainty of the future, disease progress and implications on the personal, professional as well as mental front. None of us realize the reality behind the scene, unless we step into the other’s shoes and walk a couple of miles. Only then the false pictures get morphed with those little details that help one to realize the truth was far from what was initially perceived.

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end,each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think can be most useful.” Marie Curie

As the global battle continues on multiple fronts, from raising awareness to finding solutions and reparative measures for the ongoing myriad of symptoms and disease complex, society in general as to sit up and take note. Ignorance may be bliss for now, but it always comes at a heavy price. Neither does guilt, accusations or pointing fingers help any. But awareness doesn’t hurt anyone. Instead it helps to build for a better tomorrow. The resilience of mankind lies in the ability to pick the battle and choose wise. Linking the goals for the common future would help for the days of tomorrow.

“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.” James Allen (As a Man Thinketh)

6 pics

Posted in Christian, poetry, Random Thoughts

A part of HIS Canvas

“Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.” (1 Chronicles 16:24)

Entering into the final month of the year, winter brings forth a lot of pleasant memories, realizations, personal goals as well as soul time for family, friends and self. Though every winter may differ from the previous, this season gives a chance for one to reflect their own canvas of life and the wonderful works done by His Hand.

From the rich fields of green fresh with the smell of the spring to the bare beauty and quiet of winter; one learns to appreciate life as God teaches us through the seasons. Every day is a fresh start to learn something new from own experience or through the perspective of the other. Nature itself has a lot of wonders to show and teach us. From the bare headed trees of winter to the flowers that flourish through the winter, each season has something that proves that if one really wants to, one can survive and come through with flying colours, against all odds. For it depends on how much one believes in own self and in His Mighty Works. Faith no matter how simple it sounds, has the more power than mustard seed or even dynamite.

“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

God The Artist
By Angela Morgan

God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
How did you dream of the Milky Way
To guide us from afar.
How did you think of a clean brown pool
Where flecks of shadows are?

God, when you thought of a cobweb,
How did you think of dew?
How did you know a spider’s house
Had shingles bright and new?
How did you know the human folk
Would love them like they do?

God, when you patterned a bird song,
Flung on a silver string,
How did you know the ecstasy
That crystal call would bring?
How did you think of a bubbling throat
And a darling speckled wing?

God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?

Why did you mate the moonlit night
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know Madeira bloom
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?

More Angela Morgan

Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art

Art in the Jar

“The wonder of imagination is this: It has the power to light its own fire.” John Landis Mason

Rummaging through the church sale, there were numerous purchases, not just the clothes and books sections, but also collectibles ranging from the funny shaped lanterns to glass bottles and finally the mason jars. Speaking of the latter, these were a staple of the kitchens during the prime years of my grandmother and the generations before her. Without the existence of modern day refrigerators, the winter supply was primarily contributed by canning and preservation techniques.

Though the technique of preservation of food were in many rudimentary forms, it was the French chef Nicolas Appert who had brought about the method of preserving food by enclosing it in sealed containers. Among the earliest glass jars used for home canning were wax sealers (named so as attributed to the sealing wax poured into a channel around the lip to secure the tin lid). Although this process was complicated and error-prone, the wax sealing process was largely in popular use. As this method got slowly modified with screw on cap, till John Landis Mason took over with his innovative twist.

For every canning enthusiast, antique collector or simply any collector, the Mason Jar is a must on the list. A Mason jar, named after John Landis Mason, is a molded glass jar used in home canning to preserve food. From the first patented form of 1857, to the present, Mason jars have had hundreds of variations in shape and cap design. Although the collector’s treasure is the “Patent Nov 30th 1858,” signifying the date of Mason’s patent, as embossed on thousands of jars, which were made in many shapes, sizes, and colors well into the 1900s.

Today mason jar aren’t confined to the “canning section” alone, but form a big part of many aspects. From the aesthetic turn to food art, serving jars as well as “healthy shakes”, party essentials to leaflet holder, coin jars or quote jars, gift ideas and many more, owning the original one is a collector’s dream. Over the years though technology as well as modern science has progressed in leaps and bounds; there are certain “antique” things in life which still remain in the personal favourite or choice list.

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts

A bit of the Pebble or Clod ?!

“Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true, that by altering this perception we can alter our reality.” William Constantine

When one of my friends had received a promotion, the catch was the transfer attached to it. During the last meet, which was both a farewell and treat; we had asked her about the family. For her, family of four, relocating the kids to a new school would be difficult and transfer for her husband wasn’t an option. The new place being four hour drive, regular travel wasn’t an option. On asked, how would she manage; pat came the reply, it’s just for a couple of months and then things will fall into place. It was refreshing to feel the optimistic and practical approach.

“The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.” Al Neuharth

A lot many time, one often encounters many situation not to personal liking or choice. While at times, one does feel a bit trod on and over whelmed, sticking on and staying true is a matter of principle, perspective and perception. Situations do change like the wind, but it’s how one masters them with the right perspective that makes the approach different. To whine and grumble; or buckle up and forge a new way ahead, is all in the mind, beliefs and actions. The wind blows either for or against, depending on the position we stand in. When the wind becomes a tempest; learning to bend and flow helps one to find their feet in the aftermath.

“We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” Stephen R. Covey

The Clod and the Pebble
By William Blake
“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

“Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation. I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington