Beans, Beans; They’re Good for Your Heart

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Byron Ballard often posts about #homeliness and, since I pray to Hestia every morning, I, too, find it an important Pagan value.  Being able to feed yourself (and, if relevant, your family) healthy food on a budget is #homeliness.

Beans are an often-neglected heath food.  I admit that, although I usually liked beans when served (most often, in my family, in either chili or as baked beans), I seldom thought to prepare them until I really began to focus on my health.  Now, I eat them two or three times a week.

First, of course, beans are cheap.  If you watch for a sale, you can often buy dried beans for less than $2.00/pound.  Canned beans are a bit more expensive, but again, if you watch for a sale, you can often get quite a few meals for a few dollars.  I really like black beans, followed by pinto beans, followed by navy beans, followed by split peas.

When I get dried beans, I like to cook them in the slow cooker.  I cut up almost an entire head of the garlic that I grow, a medium onion, a carrot or two, and a stalk or so of celery.  If I have a bay leaf, I’ll throw it in.  Water, or, if I have it, chicken broth to cover.  I add some salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes.  And, of course, Southern girl that I am, some Tabasco and a dried fish pepper or six.  But you can add nutmeg and cinnamon.  Or tumeric and curry.  Or fennel and cumin.  (Beans are wonderfully adaptable.)  And, then, some rinsed, dried beans.  Let simmer all day and only stir a few times.  A slow-cooker-full will give me two or three meals and then as many more tucked into the freezer for those nights when I’m too tired to cook.

If you don’t want to cook your own beans, canned beans are nearly as good.  They are perfect for those nights you come home starved and want a healthy meal almost instantly.  Buy them on sale and keep them on the shelf for months.  You can reduce the sodium by almost 40% if you rinse them in cold water.

Beans have, of course, a host of health benefits.  They are full of fiber, which fills you up, improves the bacteria in your gut, and lowers your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Beans are low in fat, high in protein, and help to balance blood sugar.  If you tend to get gas, soak the beans overnight and throw away the water (or, pour it on your plants).  But if you keep at it, and keep eating beans, over time, your body will adjust and you’ll get less gas.

When I pull a container of beans out of the freezer, I’ll throw it in the microwave and then, while it’s heating, I chop up some raw onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and avocados.  To the warm beans, I’ll add grated cheddar, sour cream, salsa, gauc, chopped lettuce, and, if I have it, some shredded chicken, or roast lamb, or broiled tofu.  It’s a meal in a bowl and it will satisfy you, keep you filled up, give you a ton of fiber, and send you happily off to sleep.  But you can also wrap beans in tortillas, use them to fill Mexican omelets, make soup with them, or puree them and add them to almost any veg or meat dish.

Next week, we’ll talk about split peas.

How do you like to prepare beans?

Picture found here..

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Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

MarchForOurLives

In the past 15 1/2 months, we’ve marched and marched and marched. For Black Lives, for Women, for Dreamers, for Truth, for Science, for the Affordable Care Act, for Climate Change Awareness, for Immigrants. MARCH MARCH MARCH MARCH MARCH.

And a lot of us have marched on from marching to contributing to #TheResistance in other ways.

Maybe you’ve started volunteering in your community more.

Maybe you’ve joined your local chapter of Black Lives Matter, or Indivisible, or SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice).

Maybe you’ve become a pro-level ACLU People Power texting activist.

Maybe you’re raising money hand over fist for Swing Left.

Maybe you’ve trained with the League of Women Voters so you can register people in your community to vote.

Maybe you’ve become active in your local Democratic party, or have campaigned for particular Democratic candidates.

Maybe you’re training to run for office yourself with EMILY’s List or Emerge America or Run For Something.

Well, it’s time to break out the poster board and markers, buy some new walking shoes, and re-memorize your attorney’s phone number in case you get arrested (and if you don’t know to write in somewhere on your body in Sharpie before you venture out, well, now you do).

Or to quote King Henry from Shakespeare’s Henry V:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;

Because it’s about goddamn time for some “hard-favour’d rage.”

On Valentine’s Day, 17 people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. It was only the latest mass shooting in the US in a history of horrific violence that stretches back to 1966 and has claimed over 1000 lives. The Washington Post has an excellent interactive feature that documents the carnage.

This has been going on for more than 50 years, and no one – and by “no one” I mean politicians who are bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association, or who are at least afraid of them – does anything. (And it ain’t just Republicans, although it is majority Republicans.)

I know that advocating for gun control can feel futile. We watched 20 six year olds get killed at Sandy Hook, and legislators (mostly, but not entirely, Republicans) pretty much responded: “Look, I can pretend to care about fetuses because it’s a wedge into controlling women, and those uppity bitches need to be taken down a peg. But I don’t give a shit about dead babies when it  might interfere with my gun lobby money! The reason I made fun of President Obama for crying about dead six year olds is because empathy is for suckers! (Did I mention I’m also a complete sociopath?)”

(Yeah, we already got there on that last bit, buddy.)

Well, not this time. This time the shooting victims were new media savvy teenagers, and they have had enough.

It started with student journalist David Hogg bravely documenting the shooting WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING.

It spread to floods of tweets students aimed at NRA-supported politicians, including so-called (for now) President Trump, who was elected in part due to MASSIVE NRA spending on his behalf (and, of course, the Russians, and potentially the Russians funneling money to Trump through the NRA).

It progressed through Hera Emma Gonzalez’s impassioned speech (may the Goddess guard her):

And now, the kids marching, and we need to march with them.

Saturday, March 24…

the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

March with us in Washington DC or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard.

You can find out more, register to join them in Washington, DC, donate, or connect with people in your own community to stage a local march at https://www.marchforourlives.com/. You can also follow #MarchForOurLives or @AMarchForOurLives on Twitter for the latest news.

Too many times, we’ve been through this. Terror, tears, “thoughts and prayers,” memorials, funerals, and…nothing. EJ Dionne wrote an impassioned op-ed this week about gun control, and how US politicians’ (mostly, but not entirely, Republicans’) inability to do anything at all on an issue that has EXTREMELY wide-spread support indicates that, at least in this area, the United States is a “corrupt failed state.” It’s easy to become discouraged and assume that since nothing has ever changed in response to the horror, nothing ever will change.

Students and young people have often been in the forefront of major societal change from the Freedom Riders and SNCC to the Black Panthers to anti-war movements across time to the women’s liberation movement. This just might be another one of those moments.

Or as Barack Obama would put it:

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So don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Image found at the March’s website.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Because It’s Too Easy to Forget That This is True

Words for (Black History Month) Wednesday

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To Black Women

~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Sisters,
where there is cold silence
no hallelujahs, no hurrahs at all, no handshakes,
no neon red or blue, no smiling faces
prevail.
Prevail across the editors of the world
who are obsessed, self-honeying and self-crowned
in the seduced arena.

It has been a
hard trudge, with fainting, bandaging and death.
There have been startling confrontations.
There have been tramplings. Tramplings
of monarchs and of other men.

But there remain large countries in your eyes.
Shrewd sun.

The civil balance.
The listening secrets.
And you create and train your flowers still.

 

Picture found here.

From the Witch’s Bedtable

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From then on it was as though she lived to music.  To music she followed him barefoot, climbed a sycamore tree to look into a magpie’s nest, made love in the rain.  Once, they came to a wide-rattling burn, with a green lawn on the further bank.  He leaped across, and held out his hand for her to catch hold of.  It was too wide a leap for her and she took to her wings.  It was the first time in her life she had flown, and the sensation delighted her.  She rose in another flight, curling and twirling for the pleasure and mastery of it, as a fiddler plays a cadenza.  She soared higher and higher, looking down on the figure at the burnside, small as  beetle and the centre of the wide world.  He beckoned her down; she dropped like a hawk and they rolled together on the grass.  He made little of her flying, even less of her queenship, nothing at all of her immense seniority.  Love was in the present:  in the sharp  taste of the rowan berries he plucked for her, in the winter night when a gale got up and whipped them to the shelter of a farm where he kindled a fire and roasted turnips on a stick, in their midnight mushrooming, in the long summer evenings when they lay on their backs too happy to move or speak, in their March-hare curveting and cuffing.  For love-gifts, he gave her acorns, birds’ eggs, a rose gall because it is called the fairies’ pincushion, a yellow snail shell.

~ Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Monday at the (Presidents’ Day) Movies

The Magical Battle for America 2.18.18

Writers shouldn’t, in my humble opinion, write about their process.  No one cares how many cups of coffee you got up to brew; just sit down and write the damn thing.  But I hope that, today, my readers will allow me a bit about process.  This is a difficult column to write and, in any event, I’m never sure that the muses won’t desert me and that I won’t find myself high and dry on Sunday morning.  Lately, I’ve been going back over and over to study the actual Battle of Britain and to learn just how desperate things were when Churchill took over the defense of Britain and when England’s Witches decided to punch Nazis.

But it’s worse than that in America.  Our attackers are, at least by half, internal.

I spent at least a quarter of a century being a student in, mostly, public schools.  After graduating from high school, I was in school for a bachelors, masters, and juris doctors degree.  I spent a lot of time sitting in a desk, an easy target for a shooter.

For 17 years, I taught high school, managed special education programs,  & wrote high school curricula.  My son went to public school in an area full of hunters.

All of which is a too long way of saying that I feel a strong connection to the teachers, parents, and students brutalized by America’s most recent terrorist attach on a high school.

Today, I stopped at the neighborhood bakery and bought cookies for the team on my way to G/Son’s county recreation basketball game.  I got there a few minutes late.  Parents and siblings lined the bleachers.  County coaches and refs were managing about 2 dozen 10-12 year old boys, keeping them busy running up and down, and up and down, and down, and up and down, and up and up, and down the court.

And I looked at the doors and looked at the bleachers and tried to figure out how we could protect the maximum number of prepubescent young boys if a shooter were to blast through the glass doors.

No shooters came.  The buzzer went off.

G/Son’s team won.  The teams walked up and congratulated each other because, playing fields of Eaton and all that, what we’re really doing here is trying to teach these boys sportsmanship in a world where that no longer seems to mean anything except being a chump, yet we cling to the belief that there must be more than that.

So, that’s my process.

Please work this protection with me.

*******************

Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane.  It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

The school in Florida where the most recent act of terrorism took place was named in honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  I am embarrassed to say that I’d never learned of her.  Wikipedia says, inter alia, that:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998) was an American journalist, writer, feminist, and environmentalist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for The Miami Herald, she became a freelance writer, producing over a hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp. Its impact has been compared to that of Rachel Carson‘s influential book Silent Spring (1962). Her books, stories, and journalism career brought her influence in Miami, enabling her to advance her causes.

As a young woman Douglas was outspoken and politically conscious of the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements. She was called upon to take a central role in the protection of the Everglades when she was 79 years old. For the remaining 29 years of her life she was “a relentless reporter and fearless crusader” for the natural preservation and restoration of the nature of South Florida.[1] Her tireless efforts earned her several variations of the nickname “Grande Dame of the Everglades”[2] as well as the hostility of agricultural and business interests looking to benefit from land development in Florida. Numerous awards were given to her, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was inducted into several halls of fame.

Douglas lived to 108, working until nearly the end of her life for Everglades restoration. Upon her death, an obituary in The Independent in London stated, “In the history of the American environmental movement, there have been few more remarkable figures than Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”

Tonight, I am going to light a candle and some incense to Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  I am going to ask her to stand beside and behind the young women who are standing up against violence to the people who live in and around the everglades.

I shan’t be gone long; you come, too.

Stand up and call Marjory.  Call the schoolteachers in your lineage and call your ancestors who braved many, many troubles just to be able to get an education.  Send them to protect America’s schools and America’s schoolchildren.  See them forming a giant honor guard around America’s schools.  Charge that honor guard with bullet-proof protection.  Breathe.  Pull energy up from the ground.  Send it to circle around your local school.

Miss Marjory, we need you now.  Hear us.  We will work to save your sacred Everglades; please stand now with America’s children.

Breathe.

As you sit and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.  The five banners and your magic wand are always available to you when you want to do magic to strengthen America.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe sun tea or a cup of hot nettle soup.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe pecans or the scooped-out fruit of a persimmon.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember the Everglades or America’s schools.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.