Caturday Thoughts: Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.

The famous lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge described the plight of sailors on the ocean. AlthoughJ 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, this water is undrinkable. uly has been declred Smart Irrication Month by the Irrigation Association.  I approve. Wasting water is not a good thing, especially ars we are in a global water crisis.


As stated above, about 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater. Of the fresh water available on earth, only 31% is accessible for use. About 69% of the fresh water is in form of ice cap and glacier in places like the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet, further reducing the quantity of the available drinking water. So, if only 31% of the fresh water is available for drinking, this means 31% of 2.5%=0.00775, which equates to less than 1%. Therefore, less than 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable. In some areas, the glacier often melts in summer to provide additional drinking water. However, the amount of water from glacier melt is not sufficient to increase the available fresh water to above 1%.

Although surface water is an important source of drinkable water, surface water depends on several variable precipitation patterns, which makes it unreliable. Protecting and managing the underground and surface water is an essential task in ensuring availability of drinkable water. No one can create more water. But, by managing the water sources and distribution systems, people maximize the available water and make good use out of every drop.

10 Facts About the World Water Crisis

  1. 748 million people around the world are without basic water access. That’s more than twice the population of the United States.
  2. More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.
  3. Two billion people, or about 1 in 4, lack access to a toilet or latrine.
  4. Diarrheal diseases, caused primarily by unsafe water and poor sanitation, kill more children under 5 years old than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.
  5. Diarrheal disease kills one child every 60 seconds.
  6. About a quarter (22%) of health facilities in Least Developed Countries have no safe water.
  7. In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend an estimated 40 billions hours a year collecting water.
  8. An estimated 400 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases, with 272 million lost to diarrhea alone.
  9. Lost time gathering water significantly reduces productive farming time for women in parts of the developing world. With safe water nearby, it’s estimated that women could feed 150 million of the world’s hungry.
  10. For every $1 invested in safe water and sanitation, a yield of $5 to $28 USD is returned in increased economic activity and reduced health care costs. Access to safe water stimulates the economy for the long-term.
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Minor Heat xiǎo shǔ 小暑 Jul 6th

Red setting sunWe were fortunate that this year the coolness lingeredas long as it did. In fact we had three late frosts, a gift of the Arctic.    Now however, we are making up. On  July 6th we entered the solar term of Minor Heat 小暑(xiǎo shǔ).  It is the beginning of the hottest period of the the year. As it turned out, it finally got hot right on schedule. My house, not having air conditioning and getting the sun on the roof most of the day, gets very hot aftr midday. In late afternoon and early evening the cats sprawl on the floor in shady corners. I have fans directed at me as I work. Any physical activity is done in the morning, the afternoon is for writing, working on the computer, reading and running to the shops (they have air conditioning).

Fruit Smoothie in glassThis is one of the times I adjust my diet. Since by the time I get up, feed the cats and do the moring chores when this period of heatand high humidity  commences, I am dripping with sweat. It’s hardly when I want to cook something. Breakfast becomes a smoothie of fruit juice, plain Indian yogurt, frozen berries, instant meal or protein powder and spices, usually turmeric, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. It’s healthy, quick and deliciously cold. Adjusting diet to the seasons is a part of Indian Ayurvedic medicine and also TCM

Sincethe summer heat is very yang, TSM advocates that  to avoid excess yang,  consuming yin foods is useful.  Yang foods are considered “heating” or “warming”. Green leafy vegetables are considered yin and “cooling”. Instinctively, we gravitate to salads and cooling foods in summer heat. Watermelon is a very yin food. Of course there needs to be balance. No matter how hot it gets you can’t stay balanced eating just yin foods. If it’s that hot it’s always a safe bet to drink more water. But it’s not that hard to get balance. Tomatoes,  cucumbers and cilantro are yin and garlic, onions and any kind of peppers are yang, so combining them in a gazpacho gives you a nicely balanced summer dish.

So as the hot days build, enjoy summer activities and the chance to spend more ime outside. Balance your yang hamburgers with lettuce and tomato slices, have a a nice salad with your barbecues chicken and eat all the watermelon you want.

Open hamburger with lettuce, tomatom onion, mayonaise

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The Dog Days Are Upon Us

Space view of Sirius below left of the constellation Orion

Sirius (at bottom) following Orion

Starting yesterday, on July 3rd we moved into the Dog Days of Summer, which will be with us until August 11th. These  days of muggy, hot, oppressive weather punctuated by thunderstorms or plagued by drought are considered the hottest days of summer, The name comes from the fact that during these days the star Sirius, the dog star, rises with the sun.

Sirius is located in the constellation Canis Major –  the Big Dog – and is therefore known as the “dog star”. It is over twenty times brighter than our sun and is twice as massive. At night time, blue white Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.

The star’s celestial movement was observed and revered by ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Babylonians and countless other civilizations. In Jd into the daylight hours approximately 70 days earlier.

Although Sirius has been viewed as a positive omen and energy in the sky, it has just as often been feared and maligned. Strangely, it has been called a red star, even though it is not red now, but blue-white,  and probably has always been so.

As a messenger of the Nile flood, it augured a time of inconvenience followed by hard toil but also a welcome omen of fertility and the continuity of benevolent, life-giving forces.

Neither I or the cats are particularly fond of the dog days. This year the humidity adds to mask wearing the joy of steamed up glasses. I bought a window air conditioner at the end of the season but cannot find anyone to help me lift and mount it. It sits in it’s box, holding up the de-humidifier that cost me over a hundred dollars a month to run to run the year I got it. I never used it again. Fans are our only weapon in this war. Fans and lots of stillness and playing winter programs from Hearts of Space. We are grateful for nights that cool down.

Perhaps one day we will have central air, something I’ve always avoided as unhealthy, but it becomes less an issue as the heat rises each year. All my Yankee relatives who retired to Florida turned their houses as cold as restaurant walk-ins or morgue coolers.  I never could stand it.Probably mine would be set to the bare minimum to de-humidity. For now though, we are coping and the cool days will return.









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In Dogon mythology, humanity is said to be born from the Nommo, a race of amphibians who were inhabitants of a planet circling Sirius. They are said to have “descended from the sky in a vessel accompanied by fire and thunder” and imparted to humans profound knowledge. This









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Caturday Thoughts: No Reason to Celebrate

I have no motivation for celebrating the Fourth of July. The reasons go both deep and wide. In most years my main complaint is the fireworks, which disturb the cats. They trigger me , too. I never liked the random backyard fireworks thing, it’s mostly pandering to that dark side of people , that destructive impulse that likes to watch things blown up and destroyed. When I haven’t been to a public display in years because I don’t like crowds, especially crowds of people that are made up of people with no sense of consideration of others.

When I lived in Annapolis for most of the nineties, the fireworks experience was much different, Everyone came to the Naval Academy with folding chairs and blankets and sat on the atheletic fields facing the harbor,  A company came eac year and launched a magnificent display from a barge in the harbor. With Marines as security and no chance to smuggle alcohol it was very civilized and enjoyable.  Those who wanted to eat or drink went afterwards to the many bars and restaurants outside te base gate and supported the local economy.

This year, the darned corona virus just gives more reason to avoid crowds. That’s not the reason I am off the holiday. More it’s just the general state of the country. My grandfather was the child of Catholic parents who dutifully sent him to Catholic school. After an incident in which a friend was “disciplined” (more like torture) by the nuns, he walked out never to return. Only twelve he went out and got a job at a cartage company. In spite of growing up in the city he had a marvelous knowledge of horses. Why do I bring him up? He was an entirely self-taught man and his breadth of knowledge was amazing.

He died in 1963. At some point we were discussing WWII and it’s aftermath (which the curriculum never got to even by my senior year of high school) and he made a comparison of America’s position in the world to a horse race. To equalize the field, some horses are made to carry extra weight. It’s called handicapping. My grandfather said because America remained virtually untouched during the war and everywhere else was a total wreck, from 1940 on it was like every horse but one was handicapped with extra weight It was a rigged race he said. And when those handicaps lift I think America might not handle it well.

I remember the comments about the Japanese when they came out of the rubble to become an economic powerhouse. They were criticized for being workaholics by the same people who criticized Germany and France for giving three and four weeks of vacation to employees.  It’s not that nothing good is happening, but that the long slide down is not even perceived correctly by so many. The tings people rightly complain about are many. Lack of understanding of basic things like economics  and fear and prejudice lead to alleged solutions that make things worse. When tariff wars are finally admitted to be bad economics, when the police stop acting like an invading army and return to serve and protect and when people absorb enough history to understand walls , be they the Maginot Line or the Berlin wall or the one now creating environmental damage right and left on the southern border, don’t keep people in or out, then I’ll have reason to celebrate,

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July Calendar

July 1 is Canada Day/Dominion Day unless July 1st falls on a Sunday. In that case it is celebrated the next day. Canada Day commemorates the day Canada became self-governing on July 1st, 1867, with the passage of the British North America Act (BNA Act) in the British Parliament. The holiday was originally known as “Dominion Day”. It was changed to Canada Day by the Canadian Parliament on October 27, 1982. The holiday is a celebration of Canadian nationalism and heritage .

July 11 is World Population Day. Is it a day for celebration or worry? That would depend on your perspective, but it’s certainly a day to take note of. The expansion of world population at an exponential rate reached a milestone on “Five Billion Day” on July 11, 1987. the approximate date on which the world’s population reached five billion people.  This sparked the creation of World Population Day. According to the United Nations Population Fund, there were an estimated 7.75 billion people on December, 2019. The World Population Clock shows there are over 330 million people in the United States. The U.S. is the third most populous country in the world, behind China ( 1.436 billions) and India (1.372 billion).

July 14 Bastille Day and Shark Awareness Day Bastille Day is the name commonly given to the French national holidayf ormally called Fête nationale or National Celebration in France. and commonly and legally le 14 juillet. On July 14, 1789, there was an uprising against the constitutional monarchy, and the people stormed Bastille, a prison that was a symbol of the monarchy. It was a pivotal moment in the French Revolution.

Shark Awareness Day is also July 13th.  The  goal of this day, is to provide education and awareness of the importance of sharks to the ecosystems of our world’s oceans. Sharks date back 420 million years ago, much farther back than dinosaurs, never mind latecomer apes and hominids. While the number of shark attacks is actually a tiny number, 146 worldwide in 2019, from the media you would think it was epidemic. In fact, the odds of getting  attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. The truth is sharks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem and have far more to fear from us, as humans kill 100 million sharks (of all sizes) a year.  Many sharks are endangered species.

July 16 is Moon Day  Moon Day commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969. Amazingly and sadly, after the Apollo program ended in the 1970’s, man has not yet returned to the moon. When will man walk on the moon again? Will we ever surpass that feat?No one knows.

.July 29 is International Tiger Day, celebrates tigers, the largest cat on the planet. It is also one of the most beautiful and majestic as well. At an International Tiger Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2010, the plight of wild tigers came into full focus.  Over the last century, the world-wild tiger population dropped 97% (not including tigers in zoos). With only an estimated 3,000 tigers left in the wild, they are on the brink of extinction. Apex predators like the sharks, they do not have endless room to hide as the sharks do. Loss of habitat is a major threat.

On July 31 this year comes Eid-Ul-Adha, a Muslim holiday beginning on the tenth day of the Islamic month, the month of Hajj The first 10 days of the month are special times of religious prayer and recitation. Then, on the tenth day the four day holiday of Eid-Ul-Adha begins. It is a time for prayer and sacrificing, but not a time for fasting.


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Summer Solstice xià zhì 夏至 Jun 21

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Grain in Ear máng zhǒng 芒种 Jun 6th

Head of ripening wheatOn June 6th the solar term of Grain in Ear began. China is divided by climate into a wheat growing north and a rice growing south. At this time in the north the wheat becomes ripe and in the south the summer planting starts.  Chinese farmers are also now planting a lot of corn, most of which is fed to livestock. Many more Chinese are eating meat now than in the past. So corn is now ripening  in much of China now as well. Due to our cool weather so far we may very well see corn later than usual this year uless it is brought in from othr parts of the country. The whole point of sumer corn, though, is that is be local and fresh.

Green corn growing in fieldCorn as a vegetable is quintessentially American. Even in Europe they don’t eat it very much. You are more likely to find roasted corn in India or Pakistan, where roadside vendors will offer it with chili powder or other spice mixes spread on with slices of lime or lemon. This year has been cool and corn is not yet abundant. When it is I will be fixing mine in this fashion. It seems a little strange that this food combination of corn, chili powder and lime comes from the Indian subcontinent, not from Mexico. Mexican corn on the cob is served with butter, mayonnaise and grated cotija cheese on it and the lime slices on the side. Some people add chili powder or cayenne pepper and some don’t.

The rice crop in China is actually four different crops. The earliest is that grown n the south and along the Chang Jiang (長江) river, known to westerners as the Yangtze. The third longest river in the world, Chang Jiang literally means “long river”. The first of three crops is planted here from February to April and harvested in June and July. Intermediate and single-crop late rice grows in the southwest and also along the Chang Jiang; it is planted in March to June and harvested in October and November. Double-crop late rice, planted after the early crop is reaped, is also harvested from October to November. Rice grown in the north isn’t planted until April to June and not harvested until September to October. Little rice is grown in the north, the wheat growing region of China. So the grain in ear referred to in the solar term refers to the first crop of the year.

Head of rice grainsI eat quite a bit of rice. I like rice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I make fried rice or eat it plain with stir fries. My favorite way to eat rice however, is sizzling rice soup. I love hearing the sounds when i pour the soup over the crispy rice crusts. Modern rice cookers often don’t leave a crust in the bottom the way making rice in a pot used to do. There are two solutions to this. In many Asian groceries there are prepackaged sections of crisped rice you can use. Easier still is to cook the rice in the cooker and then leave a layer in the bottom to dry out a bit. Then you can properly prepare those crusts for sizzling rice soup. The soup liquid is made separately according to whatever recipe you like. Just before serving you lightly quick fry the crusts, which will puff up slightly, then place them in a soup bowl. Before they can cool add the soup liquid and enjoy the sizzling sounds, the tempting odor. and the delicious soup.










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June Calendar

June 4th Eid-al-Fitr

Eid-al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎) is a day of feasting and is celebrated on the first of Shawwal (10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar).  This Eid is a reward to the Muslims who spent the month of Ramadan fasting and in worship. Like Eid al Adha, this Eid begins early in the morning with a prayer held in a large, open area. Before the Eid prayer, Muslims are obligated to pay Zakat-al-Fitr, a charity that goes to poorer families who cannot otherwise engage in the festivities.

    • Prophet Muhammad asked the Muslims of Madinah about two carnivals that they used to engage in.  They replied that before Islam, celebrating by setting up grand carnivals was traditional.  It is reported that Muhammad said,  Instead of those two days, Allah has appointed two other days which are better, the days of Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. (Book of Hadith).
    • For Eid-al-Fitr it is customary to eat breakfast before prayer (unlike Eid al Adha).  It is the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad to eat something sweet.
    • In accordance with Islamic tradition, many Muslims wake up extra early on Eid-al-Fitr to take a bath, called ghusl.  They also wear the best clothing they own.
    • In Islamic South Asian communities, sheer khorma is typically made for breakfast.  Sheer khorma is a sweet milky dish with broken vermicelli pasta, dried fried dates, and roasted nuts.
    • Women often decorate their hands with beautiful henna designs on Eid-al-Fitr.  In the United States, many Islamic centers have henna booths set up on the last night of Ramadan.
    • The prayer of Eid-al-Fitr, like the prayer of Eid al Adha, begins with a sermon.  During this sermon, the Imam encourages Muslims to do good deeds and be responsible citizens.  After prayer, Muslims hug all people around them and say Eid Mubarak, which is a way of saying, Congratulations.  The words Eid Mubarak translate to Eid Blessings.





  • June 6th World Oceans Day

    World Oceans Day serves as a celebration of our oceans, which generate most of the oxygen that we breathe, feed us and regulate the planet’s climate. The day also serves to promote the oceans’ contribution life and the need to protect it from harmful pollution, overexploitation, destructive fishing and climate change.  Unfortunately, as a result of human pollution and exploitation, the world’s oceans are becoming increasingly delicate.

    In 1992, the Government of Canada proposed World Oceans Day at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.  By 2002, the Ocean Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of the planet’s oceans, began to promote and coordinate the event on a global scale. Finally, in December of 2008, the United Nations General Assembly officially proclaimed June 8th as World Oceans Day.

  • The Earth is covered by water on 71% of its surface, 96.5% of that water is in the oceans.
  • It is estimated that 50-80% of all life forms on Earth is found under the oceans’ surfaces. Oceans consist of 99% of all living space on the planet.
  • If all of the Earth’s ice melted, the oceans would rise 66 meters and flood all low-lying ground.
  • The lowest point on the plantet is located in Mariana’s Trench in the western Pacific. The point, known as Challenger Deep, is 11,034m deep. (Mt. Everest is only 8,848m tall).
  • We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back to whence we came. – John F. Kennedy
  • If you live near an ocean, spend time swimming in the water, sailing, surfing or just walking along the beach. If you don’t live near an ocean, plan a trip to enjoy ocean.
  • Join the Wear Blue, Tell Two campaign. Wear blue clothes and share two ocean facts with friends.
  • Get your scuba diving license. Every city offers scuba lessons to prepare you see the underwater world. PADI and SDI are two well-known and reputable companies that offer certification courses. You cannot scuba dive without certification.
  • Watch one of many documentaries about oceans. Some of our favorites: The Death of the Oceans, Garbage Island, Plastic Seas, Deep Sea and Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification
  • Host a waterside cleanup or adopt a local waterside and do your part to help the oceans and its wildlife.  World Oceans Day website offers a tool kit to help set up these activities.
  • June 14th Father’s Day

    Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (Saint Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages. This celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it, though many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March, April and June.Father’s Day was not celebrated in the US, outside Catholic traditions, until the 20th century. As a civic celebration in the US, it was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day by celebrating fathers and male parenting.

    After Anna Jarvis‘ successful promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church.[3] Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father, when in December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested that her pastor Robert Thomas Webb honor all those fathers.[4][5][6][7]

    Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside the town itself and no proclamation of it was made by the city council.

    In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father’s Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

June 19th Juneteenth or Freedom Day

There’s more than one Independence Day in the U.S. but the one that occurs in June is neither widely known or a national holiday. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced that slaves were now free. The slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation but far from Washington D.C., the Texas slaves had been kept ignorant of the fact. Since then, June 19 has served to commenorate the new independence of the former slaves.

    • Slaves had already been emancipated, they just didn’t know it. The June 19 announcement came more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, so technically, from the Union’s perspective, the 250,000 slaves in Texas were already free—but none of them were aware of it, and no one was in a rush to inform them.
    • There are many theories as to why the law wasn’t enforced in Texas. News did in fact traveled slowly in those days—it took Confederate soldiers in western Texas more than two months to hear that Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. Still, it was over two years before the slaves got word of their freedom, and logic lends strength to the suspicion Texan slave owners purposely suppressed the announcement. Other theories include that the original messenger was murdered to prevent the information from being relayed or that the Federal government purposely delayed the word to Texas in order to get one more cotton harvest out of the slaves. Probably it was simply that Lincoln’s proclamation simply wasn’t enforceable in the rebel states before the end of the war.
    • The announcement actually urged freed slaves to stay with their former owners. General Order No. 3, as read by General Granger, said: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
    • Obviously, most former slaves weren’t terribly interested in staying with the people who had enslaved them, even if pay was involved. In fact, some were leaving before Granger had finished making the announcement. What followed was called “the scatter,” when droves of former slaves left the state to find family members or more welcoming accommodations in northern regions.
    • Even after the arrival of a Union Army presence, some slaves were still held. Texas is large, and General Granger’s order (and troops to enforce it) were slow to spread. In July 1867 there were two separate reports of slaves being freed, and one report of a Texas horse thief named Alex Simpson whose slaves were only freed after his hanging in 1868. Even wors When legally freed slaves tried to leave, many of them were beaten, lynched, or murdered. “They would catch [freed slaves] swimming across [the] Sabine River and shoot them,” a former slave named Susan Merritt recalled.
    • When freed slaves tried to celebrate the first anniversary of the announcement a year later, they were faced with a problem: Segregation laws were expanding rapidly, and there were no public places or parks they were permitted to use. So, in the 1870s, former slaves pooled together $800 and purchased 10 acres of land, which they deemed “Emancipation Park.” It was the only public park and swimming pool in the Houston area that was open to African Americans until the 1950s.
    • After a while, the celebration waned during the era of Jim Crow laws.Not  until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when the Poor People’s March planned by Martin Luther King Jr. was purposely scheduled to coincide with the date. The march brought Juneteenth back into prominence.It wasn’t because people no longer wanted to celebrate freedom—but, as Slate reported in an article, “it’s difficult to celebrate freedom when your life is defined by oppression on all sides.”
    • As seems only fitting, In 1980, Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards. By 2008, nearly half of US states observed the holiday as a ceremonial observance. As of 2014, 43 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. States that do not recognize it are Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
    • Though most states now officially recognize Juneteenth, it’s still not a national holiday. As a senator, Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday, though it didn’t pass then or while he was president.
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Small Full (Grain) xiǎo mǎn 小满 May 21st .

One ripe and several grreen blackberries on bushOn May 21st we moved into the Chinese calendar solar term of Small Full Grain. This refers to the grain and seed crops which are now beginning to become plump, but are not yet ripe. As an example, my blackberry bushes are covered with small, tight green berries. Soon I will have to pull screening from the storage and spread it over the bushes. This is to keep the ripening berries safe from the birds who enjoy a good juicy berry as much as anyone. It looks like I will get a few more this year than last but still not enough for preserving in any way. There will be no regrets about eating them freshly picked though.

So far this season we have been cooler and wetter than usual. The rain is fine for the crops but sun and warmth are also essential for ripening. I suppose in a month or two I will be bemoaning the heat in posting but right now it feels like April just kept going and completely over-ran May. I should have lots of energy but those overcast days make me want to crawl back into bed. Not actually depressing, they just seem dull and flat. We are far more sensitive to weather than we think. There is even a new science studying this called human biometeorology. It sounds exotic but actually it can serve a very practical purpose. Anyone who has ever suffered from migraine, as I have in the past, can appreciate the University of Calgary study that found migraine headaches in 43 percent of patients coincided with the Chinook wind, a warm westerly wind with a predictable annual pattern affecting that region of Canada.  Any illness that has known triggers can be managed more effectively. Not knowing what’s setting off your condition can often be as aggravating as the condition itself. Spring thunderstorms can trigger asthma and barometric changes can trigger attacks of arthritis.

Rooftop air conditioning unitNo matter how we try to manipulate our environment with heat and air conditioning and closed up spaces we will not be able to escape the fact we are part of a larger system. Often these attempts to dominate the wider environment have less than satisfactory results. All those well-sealed living spaces have higher pollution levels than the out of doors. Air conditioning systems are still incubating Legionnaire’s disease long after the outbreak that gave it it’s name.  This is one of the reason’s I put so much attention on seasons and weather.

In the west we tend to limit ourselves to swapping snow blowers for lawn mowers and sweaters for bathing suits as the seasons change. In other cultures the effect of weather and the seasons are better taken into account and adjusted to. In Ayurveda and TCM take seasons into account to determine appropriate foods to consume for optimum health.

Watermelon slices on clear plateAs we move into warmer weather TCM recommends foods for keeping the body cool and balanced. Americans don’t eat much bitter gourd or lotus root but the stores are full of recommended fruits like watermelon and strawberries and tomatoes and cucumbers. Even though they are available almost year round now we do tend to think of and enjoy them as summer foods so it’s quite easy to follow this advice.  In general, TCM says the diet should contain more vegetables and fruit at this time so as to stimulate the appetite and provide adequate fluids and we all know most of us don’t eat enough of them anyway. In Ayurveda summer is the pitta season. Cooling foods are recommended in this system as well. Cucumbers are on the list again as well as summer squash and zucchini.

One of my warm weather favorites is gazpacho. It has a history going back to the ancient Romans and was popularized in the Andalusian region of Spain. Originally he main ingredient was bread. The version known as Seville gazpacho, named after the Spanish city where it is popular, also uses tomatoes in the base. In the United States, you will most often encounter a breadless version. I have made and enjoyed both styles and even versions I call Mexican, as they include cilantro.  It’s delicious, quick to make, doesn’t heat up the kitchen and is great to serve when what’s on the grill is not finishing as fast as it should. Now if summer would only come.

Closeup of chopped ripe tomatoes

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May Calendar

Cinco De Mayo History

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican Army’s victory over France during  the Franco-Mexican War.  During Mexico’s war with France, the US was engaged in its Civil War. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. This battle was a significant turning point for the US nts and Things to Do

  • Attend a Cinco de Mayo Festival.  Popular such festivals can be found in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.
  • Go eat or have drinks at a Mexican restaurant.

May 31 World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day serves to generate awareness about the health risks of tobacco use and to advocate for more effective policies that can help reduce worldwide tobacco use. Tobacco, a brown product prepared by curing the leaves of a tobacco plant, is believed to have originated thousands of years ago somewhere in the Americas. It was later discovered by Christopher Columbus and subsequently introduced to the rest of the world. Tobacco contains the alkaline nicotine, a stimulant which makes tobacco very addictive. Tobacco use is known to cause a myriad of cancers and according to the World Health Organization, is the largest preventable cause of death and disease today.

In 1987, the World Health Organization established World No Tobacco Day in an effort to draw attention to the risks of tobacco use and move towards safer and better public health for all.  Since then, World No Tobacco Day has evolved into an important annual event that generates awareness for other tobacco related issues such as illegal trade, secondhand smoke and tobacco control.


Lawns―Once your brown turf has turned green, it is time to fertilize on a regular basis. Some warm-season grasses, such as hybrid Bermuda and Zoysia types, like high-nitrogen-based lawn fertilizers. Some turf, such as centipede, needs little or no fertilizer and minimal amounts of nitrogen. Remember high-nitrogen fertilizers always have a large first number in the ratio listed on the bag. Be sure to apply according to label directions to prevent burning your lawn.

Pruning―Once plants have leafed out, it is time to make a final pruning to remove winter damage. Always cut the limb or shoot back to live wood. If the damage to the plant is severe, you might consider replacing it.

Annuals―It’s time to finish planting your summer annuals, such as petunias, marigolds, salvia, and impatiens. If the plants are in pots or trays, make sure the roots are not so matted they can’t expand outward into the soil easily. If they are, gently pull the roots apart.

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