Friday, July 27, 2012

Seeing red. Do health factors impact our color passions?

It started innocently, with an appreciation for Hispanic and Native American art work: bold images, rendered with voluptuous brush strokes by artists like Diego Reveria had suddenly caught my eye.
Soon, however, hubby and I were using comforting terra cotta tones to showcase the biggest accent wall in our home.
Next, we covered the hardwood floors in our living space with enormous area rugs that subtly picked up the rich, red tones from the wall and inspired complimentary pillows and artwork.
Furniture choices – warm cherry wood of course -- reflected our chosen, color family.
Even soup pots began to whisper – and sometimes shout -- "red!" 
Meanwhile, I was busy fueling my love affair with strawberries, tomatoes, apples -- old-fashioned red barns, pumpkin patches, autumn leaves and red, white and blue Americana decor.
Which begs the question: Who? Who is so completely and helplessly attracted to the color RED?
Dracula? Hitler? Ruby the Clown? 
Well, my husband Bruce, for one.
Red is and was his favorite color growing up. Until now, I had always assumed it was because he was Canadian -- and an enormous Red Wings fan to boot.
Then there’s my son, Jack, who choses red clothing, bedroom accents and school supplies - etc.! -- every chance he gets. 
Of course he's an Aries, Aries the Ram. So, with these astrological influences in mind, red makes sense. 
Can you see where this is going?   
Soon, even my super sweet – well, mostly -- daughter Annie was putting reddish “oranges” and orangey “yellows” on her favorites' list.
Still, I felt compelled to fight the tendency towards red, because, as bluntly described in a CARE2 article: “’Red’ people are abrupt at times, determined to get all they can out of life, quick to judge people and take sides… restless… not at all introspective… they find it hard to be objective and may blame others for any mishaps.’”
Dislike. Strongly.
The mere thought of yielding to these pressures makes me er, well .....see red.     
Then, earlier this summer, I received a phone call from my doctor's office that shed new light on the trend: my hemoglobin level had dropped once again, this time to a staggering 6.9. The standard rate for women is 12.
As in the past, my doc started threatening "blood transfusion" if my numbers didn’t go up. I had received similar prognoses shortly after college graduation college, and again, after giving birth to both my children.
So far, however, we haven't been able to come up with a long-term, solution that works for me --- with “for me” being the operative phrase.
Soon afterward, I stumbled upon the following reasoning for red-loving, and begin to feel a bit better: “Red is the color of strength, health, and vitality. It is often the color chosen by someone outgoing, aggressive, vigorous and impulsive -- or someone who would like to be. Quiet people with a preference for red may feel the need for the warmth, strength and the color’s, life-giving qualities.”
Here, here.
Now that’s a theory I can cuddle up with.
Not that anyone’s ever called me "quiet" before. 
This time, the doc has an entirely new plan, one I'm embracing whole-heartedly and crossing my fingers will work.
But with the prospect of healing brighter than ever, I’m starting to wonder:
If this works and my hemoglobin levels spike permanently -- I am once again allowed to donate blood and my constant and voracious craving for ice comes to a halt – will I still want to keep all those delicious, red influences in my life?
Will I continue to sprinkle cinnamon on top of my coffee grounds for a warmer, richer brew?
Will I still want to catch, no chase! -- Michigan's spectacular, red-tinged sunsets? 

Will I change the color of the red door on my house to green? Or blue? or purple?
Will I become a different person?
I don’t know.
But I'm looking forward to finding out.      
What does your favorite color say about you?
Did you know that up to 10% or more of adolescent and adult women under the age of 49 are iron deficient? Hispanic American and African-American women have double the rate for anemia.
For more information, visit:
I recently learned that the grain quinoa, particularly when soaked overnight, is an excellent source of iron.
With that in mind, looking forward to testing the following recipe:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beloved "up north" tradition overshadowed by summer storm

If you've ever lived in Michigan, you know that going "up north" is a beloved, summertime tradition, heavily steeped in redneck spirituality.
We celebrate the adventure by posting photos to Facebook, relive details through riveting dialogue with friends and sing songs saluting every detail.
From Traverse City, to Ludington,; Petsokey, to Frankenmuth, some of our favorite family moments have taken place somewhere "up north".
This summer, in celebration of the July 4th holiday, we patriotically climbed into our dark red mini-van and pointed the GPS "north" for a Port Austin themed vacation.

But instead of running headfirst into the mosquito-netted doorway of our now leaky tent or even the rustic entrance of a quaint, rented cottage, we opted for a “plusher” experience at the resident Holiday Inn .
Not that we don't love the scent of coffee in the morning, cozy campfire fumes at night, fewer electronics… unexpected raindrops, hungry raccoons and flashlight runs to a restroom at 3 a.m.
It was just time for a change; temporary perhaps, but change none-the-less.
The good news is that last time I checked, authorities had not yet tried to revoke our Michigan residency. Yay!
But it’s still early.
Because yes, with temperatures soaring into the high nineties and 100s, we were very much enjoying lake swimming and kayaking by day and our air-conditioned beds at night.
The second day of our trip, however, dawned bleak and rainy.
No problem.
We had a beautiful indoor pool and hot tub to enjoy, along with enough reading material and clean fluffy towels to get us through 'most anything.
Almost anything. 
Even cushy hotel rooms are no match for bad weather back home.
Our phones started blowing up at about 7:30 that night.
We did not know, of course, until 90 minutes later, because we were too busy frolicking phone-less with the cousins at the hotel pool.
Meanwhile, according to our more responsible and extremely thoughtful neighbors, heavy rains, winds and power outages were lashing our Chesterfield Township neighborhood.
Fences, trees, flagpoles and basketball hoops were ripped down, uprooted or snapped in half.
Refrigerators were heating up, along with the air-conditioned homes that housed them. 
And sump pumps, those darn sump pumps, were starting to overflow.
No, we did not have a battery-operated back-up system.
No, we did not have an extra key handy for Floyd and Renee Wickman, who were among those who generously offered to check the flood status of our basement.
So, at 9:05 p.m. a slightly less festive hubby hopped back into the mini-van and high-tailed it down Van Dyke Avenue for a night-time rendezvous with some of the best people we know.
When Bruce got home at 10:30 p.m. – traffic was good! – he didn’t have to ring a doorbell or send a text for Dan Breathour and Joe Media to show up on our doorstep, generator in tow.

For the past two hours, the pair had been draining sump pumps and sending cooling zaps of power to parched refrigerators.
How lucky were we?
Not to mention, the water in our sump pump was topping out, but had yet to leak a single drop of unwelcome water anywhere.
As Bruce described the damage to our sub over the phone – towering pine trees, tossed around like plastic toys, a trampoline folded in half and wrapped around electrical wires, I couldn’t help but think: wow!
Another reminder that we humans really and truly are not in control.
Not that I don't love being a control freak when the mood strikes – and if you ask my husband and kids, that’s basically all day long. 
It’s just an enormous relief to know that more powerful forces are at work here.
Which is good news.
It means I don’t have to carry the weight and responsibility of person-hood, parenthood, life, by myself.
For one thing, I have awesome people like Bruce and Dan and Joe willing to hold up much more than their fair share.
Even at 10:30 at night.
Anybody out there also find beauty in violent, summer storms? Why or why not?
MichiMom wants to know.