Monday, September 26, 2011

Hold the horse hooves please!

Jell-o is a huge hit at my in-laws house. We often have not one but two Jell-o salads at any family gathering. And so, it is rather ironic that my husband won’t even touch the stuff. In fact, my husband likes to tell anyone who will listen to him the origin of gelatin and hot dogs. So if you are a big fan of Jell-o and don’t want to know its shady background, you might want to skip the rest of this post. The popular legend has been that gelatin is made from horses’ and cows’ hooves, but the truth is actually that it comes from the bones, skins, and hides of cows and pigs. I don't think I like either option. The funny thing is that gelatin is not considered an animal product because of its extensive processing. My daughter used to love Jell-o until she received an unsolicited education from her father.

I found a truly vegan "jel dessert" at my local Whole Foods store, and it was a big hit with the family. Instead of sugar, it contains evaporated cane juice and is colored with beet powder rather than the controversial Red #40. And by the way, Kraft, the maker of Jell-o, wants you to know that hooves do not contain the necessary collagen and therefore are not used in the production of its products. Isn't that a relief!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things we forgot

You would think that the “always remember” signs seem to be unnecessary. How could anyone forget the tragedies of September 11, 2001? But then again who would think that there would be people who would say that the Holocaust never happened. Maybe the signs are to remind us to remember how we felt on that day, and how our country came together, and our desire to preserve freedoms and rid the world of evil. After ten short years, I believe there are things that we already have forgotten.

Remember how grateful we were for the heroes of that day. The courageous New York firefighters, many of whom were off duty and without even being asked showed up to help, bravely risked their lives because that is simply what they do. Many of those who survived that tragic day have now lost their lives to cancer, and our government denied them medical insurance coverage because it was determined that the cancer was not a result of the toxic fumes and debris they came in contact with as they tirelessly looked for survivors. It seemed that the days following 9/11 that there would have been nothing we would have denied these heroes.

I had forgotten that many of our elected leaders stood together on the steps of the Capitol building and spontaneously sang “God Bless America”. It wasn’t our national anthem they relied upon to unite our nation, but a song invoking the very being that many now want out of the pledge of allegiance to protect and guide us.

It is sad that we list the first casualty of 9/11 as Rev. Mychal Judge who was known as the people’s priest and firefighters’ chaplain, but on the tenth anniversary of his death, New York City’s mayor didn’t invite one man of the cloth to speak or pray at the memorial.

Have you forgotten how it felt that day? There is already a great song with that title. Maybe we just need to be reminded.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Children are like trees

As my husband and I were hiking in a local canyon yesterday, I was intrigued by the various directions the aspen trees had grown. Some were very tall and straight, many were a little bowed, while some initially came up straight out of the ground were bent and almost growing parallel to the ground. I wondered what factors caused each tree to grow the way it did. My husband said the different growing patterns of the trees were like our children. I would have to agree.

It seems that some children will grow up to be strong, honest, hardworking individuals regardless of their upbringing. Those are the straight trees of the world. They don’t require a lot of energy from others to point them in the right direction. They just instinctively know what way is up. They just do the right thing.

Other trees want to grow the right way but are influenced by wind and the storms of life. They are a little bent and maybe even have a little more character because of their experiences. Often times these trees are staked to help them grow right, like a rebellious teenager given an abundance of rules to keep him on the right path.

Trees seem to be most productive when they grow the right direction and not giving into the storms. A straight tree will not fall early because it cannot bear its weight.

Some trees just want to do their own thing. They fight against what they should become. They don’t want to take direction and feel they know what is best for them.

Regardless of their stage of growth or direction they want to take, I love all my trees!