Category: People

The power of great nutrition.

Talk about having one’s eyes fully opened! Hopefully!

On the 16th I published a post under the title of The Power of Good Food.

It primarily featured a short video from the home page of Colin Potter’s Fight Parkinson’s website. That video explained how a strict regime of the right food and supported by supplements had made an incredible difference to his health, effectively putting his PD into remission.

Or in Colin’s words:

I am Colin Potter and I have a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Only there’s one difference between me and virtually all other people with Parkinson’s

I no longer suffer from its symptoms. I don’t take conventional medications.
You’d hardly know I had Parkinson’s.
How is this possible?

I’m not a doctor, I’m just an ordinary bloke diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011 who just didn’t like what he was being told by his doctors; that his condition was incurable and his health would go into permanent decline.
So, I started my own research, and found thousands of authoritative research studies that:

  • Showed that Parkinson’s mostly had its origins in our lifestyle and environment
  • Revealed the possible, specific causes behind Parkinson’s
  • Promoted the actions I could take to fix the problem
  • Allowed me to cease levodopa medication

I then made the necessary changes to my lifestyle and diet and here I am, two+ years later, healthy and recovered.

I know many of you will find it hard to dedicate a measurable amount of ‘viewing’ time to this post but that doesn’t stop me from recommending a subsequent video.

Namely, a longer (32 minutes) interview of Colin Potter that really explains his transformation

There’s even more to share with you but Jeannie and I have made a fundamental decision.  That is that before we go any further it is only right that we seek the views of a local nutritionist in nearby Grants Pass.

We need to be certain that the major changes that we are planning in terms of diet and supplement intake are supported by local, qualified persons.

We will share those findings with you very soon.

But it does cross my mind that the following should be included in this post.

We do not offer advice and nothing on any website, email or any other communication is intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any disease. It is not a substitute for consulting your doctor. You should consult a doctor for diagnosis of conditions, before beginning any diet, exercise or supplementation or if you suspect you have any health issue. You should not stop medication without consulting your doctor.

The power of good food!

Connections: connections!

In my recent post Diet is so crucial to good health, published on the 11th January I opened it thus:

Sometime over the next few days I will write a post about an amazing connection that Jean made, via Richard in England, with Colin Potter. He is the founder of the site Fight Parkinson’s.

It is mentioned as an introduction to today’s post because Colin stresses the critical importance of the right diet for us humans.

Richard lives with his good lady, Julie, in Minety, a village in North Wiltshire. He and I go back many, many years and we have been close friends from the day that we first met. Richard was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s Disease (PD) the same year and month as my Jeannie: December, 2015.

Last New Year’s Eve Richard and Julie were at a local party and the subject of PD came up. Richard subsequently told me that he was speaking to a fellow party guest who said that he was, in turn, an acquaintance of a Colin Potter. He went to add that Colin had also been diagnosed with PD but had decided not to ‘give in’ to the diagnosis but undertake comprehensive research into the causes and whether it was possible to go into remission. He later launched a website Fight Parkinsons.

This is Colin’s video that appears on the home page of Fight Parkinson’s.

Here’s some more of what Colin writes about on his website.

Parkinson’s RecoveryThis is where you find the answers to the causes of Parkinson’s and the actions you can take which may bring about a recovery.

There are actions that I’ve taken which have required guidance from a doctor (of Functional Medicine) or special practitioner. Other steps, such as changing to a better diet, I have done independently based upon my research.

Nowadays, there are so many ways that we fall foul of nature and the kind of life we are built to lead. Industrialisation and technology expose our bodies to so much stress and toxic substances, it’s no wonder that chronic disease arises. It also means that there are many things to put right.

This has been a journey of learning over several years and, with subsequent knowledge, there are some things I did at the start that I would do differently now. Nevertheless, I did them and can’t turn the clock back.

I share this with you because the chances are that you know someone who knows someone with PD. The information on the Fight Parkinson’s website is too important not to be shared as far and wide as possible.

The subscription price for signing up to all the information is just $5/GBP3.60 per month. Both Jeannie and Richard are subscribers.

Mercy For Animals

Sent to me by John Zande!

John, he of the blog site The Superstitious Naked Ape, recently sent me this appeal. I am very pleased to republish it here.

ooOOoo


Hello,
When I started Mercy For Animals nearly 20 years ago, I was a kid from the Midwest with a big dream and an unwavering determination to help animals. Building MFA was not easy. Our first meeting had three attendees. We had no money. But as we grew, I surrounded myself with incredible supporters like you, passionate volunteers, and committed colleagues.

MFA is the most meaningful endeavor of my life so far. My journey has been moving and inspiring. Working alongside such brilliant colleagues and implementing our shared vision of a kinder world for farmed animals has been an honor. Together, we have built MFA into the powerful organization it is today—one that achieves groundbreaking successes as the result of teamwork.

As MFA has grown in the past few years, I’ve found the personal and creative space to think about how I can best continue to shape our movement—and help more animals. This space led me to launch Circle V, the first vegan animal rights music festival, and to conceptualize and co-found The Good Food Institute, an organization that supports innovation in food and science to produce alternatives that are superior to animal products.

I’ve determined that I can be most effective right now by helping launch exciting new companies and initiatives. This means remaining in this creative, big-picture space and handing over much of the day-to-day operations at MFA to other skilled and respected leaders within the organization.
I’m proud to announce that our executive vice president, Matt Rice, has been promoted to president of MFA. I will continue to serve MFA as chair of the board of directors and will remain intimately involved in strategic decisions as the organization’s founder.

For more than 15 years, Matt Rice has been a central leader in the animal protection movement. He shares my vision for MFA and has implemented it with determination, tireless dedication, and compassion for animals and people.
Matt began in MFA’s New York office carrying out grassroots outreach before being promoted to director of operations. He later moved to Los Angeles to take over as director of investigations, working closely with our brave undercover investigators. Matt has overseen many of MFA’s biggest cases, most successful campaigns, and other victories. As executive vice president, he has overseen all departments.

Click below to watch a video about Matt and MFA’s priorities for 2018.


Matt is steadfast in his commitment to MFA. He is an ideal team player with sound judgment—a true powerhouse for animals. I trust him completely.

Matt is already working with other senior MFA leaders to implement new systems and structures, and we will launch compelling new campaigns this year. Matt is supported by a team of some of the best activists I’ve ever met.

I know that MFA will continue to break barriers and exceed expectations worldwide. Much remains to be done for animals, but we’ve proved time and again that for a movement built on love and persistence, no company is too powerful, no factory farm too big, and no government too mighty.

I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of MFA and our movement. Our greatest victories are still ahead.

Nathan Runkle
Founder

ooOOoo

Let me add that there is much information about the charity on WikiPedia, from which I quote a little:

Mercy For Animals (MFA) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies, founded in October 1999. Nathan Runkle is the group’s executive director and founder.[1] Focusing primarily on advocacy on behalf of farmed animals, MFA runs a number of campaigns that aim to educate the public on animal protection issues and to encourage them to adopt a vegan diet.[2] It has engaged in several undercover investigations, primarily of egg farms, and has produced television commercials showing the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses and factory farms.[3] MFA is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Plus the charity’s website is here Mercy For Animals.

If you didn’t watch the video then, please, do it now.

Finally, please do what you can to support them.

Thank you, John, for sharing this with me.

 

This is home!

It continues to feel very special!

Last Wednesday I was signed off in terms of being over my medical challenge and the good doctor said I was clear to return to driving; I drove home that afternoon from Eugene to Merlin.

I wanted to offer you good people a sense of what being home, more or less compus mentus , feels like.

I offer you this YouTube video.

It is a very beautiful world!

Surfacing to a new world!

Slowly returning to normal!

As many of you read, last Friday I was discharged from the PeaceHealth Sacred Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon and returned home around 4pm.

It was quite a week as these photos demonstrate. (The background to the event is here and here.)

How I looked still in ICU on Boxing Day. Photo taken by neighbour Dordie who came up with Jeannie to visit me!
General view of a very happy chap!
Photo taken on last Wednesday after I had been transferred to the Department of Neurology.

So!!

It is important that I take it very gently and that means, inevitably, that my blogging is going to be very ad-hoc. Possibly for a few weeks!

The next important step is returning to the hospital this coming Wednesday to have the staples removed and a further cognitive check.

But I shall be OK and thank you all for your interest and concern in my escapade!

All of the dogs, especially Brandy and Cleo, are watching over me! (Over and beyond being loved beyond measure by Jeannie!)

Brandy – as pure as it gets!
Cleo living, and sleeping, in the present moment.

A Very Happy New Year to you all!

A very lucky day!

Distractions!

A few weeks ago I reported my bike accident. I published the post here: https://learningfromdogs.com/2017/11/24/dont-try-home/

20171122_150343

In that post I spoke that on November 22nd I had a bike accident that knocked me out for nearly 8 minutes. I was taken to our local hospital, they did a CAT scan, and declared that there was no serious harm apart from some severe bruising.

Then about 2 weeks ago I noticed I was a little strange. Like I couldn’t write words and other strange behaviors. Jean and I thought it was just part of the healing process. But Alex, my son, became very worried because I was acting so strange. Then friend of 40 years, Dan Gomez, insisted on me going back to the local hospital. I did return last Sunday the 24th. Thank goodness for he saved my life.

That hospital in Grants Pass found more bleeding in my brain, albeit very slow bleeding, and transferred urgently me to the regional trauma center at Eugene. I then had two sub-durnal (sp?) operations overnight before being put onto the ICU ward. The lead surgeon explained that I was within 24 hours of dying! As in if I had not gone back to hospital.

I am now on the Neurology ward at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, rapidly regaining my strength and hoping to go home over the weekend. Fingers crossed the neurological damage will not be too bad.

So yet another example of always listening to one’s inner mind.

I must add that the care and attention, even love, shown to me by everyone at the hospital has been wonderful beyond imagination! Thank you all! Continue reading “A very lucky day!”

Consuming the living planet.

The eating habits of us humans have to change!

Funny how things go!

For just two days ago I published a post under the heading of Meat is Heat. It featured an essay by Michael Greger. He of the website NutritionFacts.org. That essay promoted the message:

What we eat may have more of an impact on global warming than what we drive.

Just cutting out animal protein intake one day of the week could have a powerful effect. Meatless Mondays alone could beat out a whole week of working from home and not commuting.

Many of you read that post.

On the same day that I published that post, George Monbiot published an article in The Guardian newspaper that offered the same message, albeit coming at it from a different place but nonetheless just as critically important.

Here it is republished with Mr. Monbiot’s very kind permission.

ooOOoo

We Can’t Keep Eating Like This

This is the question everyone should be attending to – where is the food going to come from?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th December 2017

Brexit; the crushing of democracy by billionaires; the next financial crash; a rogue US president: none of them keeps me awake at night. This is not because I don’t care – I care very much. It’s only because I have a bigger question on my mind. Where is the food going to come from?

By mid-century there will be two or three billion more people on Earth. Any one of the issues I am about to list could help precipitate mass starvation. And this is before you consider how they might interact.

The trouble begins where everything begins: with soil. The UN’s famous projection that, at current rates of soil loss, the world has 60 years of harvests left, appears to be supported by a new set of figures. Partly as a result of soil degradation, yields are already declining on 20% of the world’s croplands.

Now consider water loss. In places such as the North China Plain, the central United States, California and north-western India – among the world’s critical growing regions – levels of the groundwater used to irrigate crops are already reaching crisis point. Water in the Upper Ganges aquifer, for example, is being withdrawn at 50 times its recharge rate. But, to keep pace with food demand, farmers in South Asia expect to use between 80 and 200% more water by 2050. Where will it come from?

The next constraint is temperature. One study suggests that, all else being equal, with each degree Celsius of warming the global yield of rice drops by 3%, wheat by 6% and maize by 7%. This could be optimistic. Research published in the journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters finds that 4°C of warming in the US Corn Belt could reduce maize yields by between 84 and 100%.

The reason is that high temperatures at night disrupt the pollination process. But this describes just one component of the likely pollination crisis. Insectageddon, caused by the global deployment of scarcely-tested pesticides, will account for the rest. Already, in some parts of the world, workers are now pollinating plants by hand. But that’s viable only for the most expensive crops.

Then there are the structural factors. Because they tend to use more labour, grow a wider range of crops and work the land more carefully, small farmers, as a rule, grow more food per hectare than large ones. In the poorer regions of the world, people with less than 5 hectares own 30% of the farmland but produce 70% of the food. Since 2000, an area of fertile ground roughly twice the size of the United Kingdom has been seized by land grabbers and consolidated into large farms, generally growing crops for export rather than the food needed by the poor.

While these multiple disasters unfold on land, the seas are being sieved of everything but plastic. Despite a massive increase in effort (bigger boats, bigger engines, more gear), the worldwide fish catch is declining by roughly 1% a year, as populations collapse. The global land grab is mirrored by a global seagrab: small fishers are displaced by big corporations, exporting fish to those who need it less but pay more. Around 3 billion people depend to a large extent on fish and shellfish protein. Where will it come from?

All this would be hard enough. But as people’s incomes increase, their diet tends to shift from plant protein to animal protein. World meat production has quadrupled in 50 years, but global average consumption is still only half that of the UK – where we eat roughly our bodyweight in meat every year – and just over a third of the US level. Because of the way we eat, the UK’s farmland footprint (the land required to meet our demand) is 2.4 times the size of its agricultural area. If everyone aspires to this diet, how do we accommodate it?

The profligacy of livestock farming is astonishing. Already, 36% of the calories grown in the form of grain and pulses – and 53% of the protein – are used to feed farm animals. Two-thirds of this food is lost in conversion from plant to animal. A graph produced last week by Our World in Data suggests that, on average, you need 0.01m2 of land to produce a gram of protein from beans or peas, but 1m2 to produce it from beef cattle or sheep: a difference of 100-fold.

It’s true that much of the grazing land occupied by cattle and sheep cannot be used to grow crops. But it would otherwise have sustained wildlife and ecosystems. Instead, marshes are drained, trees are felled and their seedlings grazed out, predators are exterminated, wild herbivores fenced out and other lifeforms gradually erased as grazing systems intensify. Astonishing places – such as the rainforests of Madagascar and Brazil – are laid waste to make room for yet more cattle.

Because there is not enough land to meet both need and greed, a global transition to eating animals means snatching food from the mouths of the poor. It also means the ecological cleansing of almost every corner of the planet.

The shift in diets would be impossible to sustain even if there were no growth in the human population. But the greater the number of people, the greater the hunger meat eating will cause. From a baseline of 2010, the UN expects meat consumption to rise by 70% by 2030 (this is three times the rate of human population growth). Partly as a result, the global demand for crops could double (from the 2005 baseline) by 2050. The land required to grow them does not exist.

When I say this keeps me up at night, I mean it. I am plagued by visions of starving people seeking to escape from grey wastes, being beaten back by armed police. I see the last rich ecosystems snuffed out, the last of the global megafauna – lions, elephants, whales and tuna – vanishing. And when I wake, I cannot assure myself that it was just a nightmare.

Other people have different dreams: the fantasy of a feeding frenzy that need never end, the fairytale of reconciling continued economic growth with a living world. If humankind spirals into societal collapse, these dreams will be the cause.

There are no easy answers, but the crucial change is a shift from an animal to a plant-based diet. All else being equal, stopping both meat production and the use of farmland to grow biofuels could provide enough calories for another 4 billion people and double the protein available for human consumption. Artificial meat will help: one paper suggests it reduces water use by at least 82% and land use by 99%.

The next Green Revolution will not be like the last one. It will rely not on flogging the land to death, but on reconsidering how we use it and why. Can we do this, or do we – the richer people now consuming the living planet – find mass death easier to contemplate than changing our diet?

http://www.monbiot.com

ooOOoo

As many of you know Jeannie and I changed our diet to a vegan diet some four weeks ago. It was done more for personal health reasons than from an awareness of the difference that it made to the future of the planet. But over the last few weeks we have had our eyes opened to the broader benefits of not eating meat. George Monbiot spells out the urgency of change for all of us, especially the richer people in the richer countries.

Am I hopeful that there will be a mass awareness of the need to change? I truly just don’t know. I will close be repeating Mr. Monbiot’s closing sentence.

Can we do this, or do we – the richer people now consuming the living planet – find mass death easier to contemplate than changing our diet?

Interesting times!

Get lost in one’s dreams!

A very beautiful photograph.

I’m sure I have mentioned previously the fun, education and sheer enjoyment that I, and many, many others, get from the photography forum Ugly Hedgehog.  I drop into the forum several times a day.

Thus it was that yesterday morning I went to an item posted by Kalina. It was called Moonset in Greenland.

This is the photograph that Kalina had shared on the forum:

And how that photograph was described by Kalina.

This is a moon, not a supermoon, not a fancy moon, not even a full moon, just a moon rising outside of Scoresby Sound, Greenland. What a magical place..

Later on, as I was seeking, and being given, permission to share the image with all you good people, Kalina answered my question as to what had brought her to Greenland. Her answer:

I love the absolute raw beauty in Greenland. I was on a schooner built in 1909 sailing through the largest fjord system in the world, words cannot describe the beauty. We never encountered another soul the entire time, there is no evidence of humans..polar bears and musk ox but no people. I will add that this image is not photoshopped..

Just go back to that image and get lost in it.

Get lost in one’s dreams!

Then when you return to your real world, go across to WikiPedia and read more about this magical place. Here’s an extract from that WikiPedia entry.

ooOOoo

Scoresby Sound

Scoresby Sund (Danish: Scoresby Sund, Greenlandic: Kangertittivaq) is a large fjord system of the Greenland Sea on the eastern coast of Greenland. It has a tree-like structure, with a main body approximately 110 km (68 mi)[2] long that branches into a system of fjords covering an area of about 38,000 km2 (14,700 sq mi). The longest of the fjords extends 340–350 km (210-216 mi) inland from the coastline.[1] The depth is 400–600 m (1,310-1,970 ft) in the main basin, but depths increase to up to 1,450 m (4,760 ft) in some fjords.[1] It is one of the largest and longest fjord systems in the world.[3][4][5]

On the northern side of the mouth of the Scoresby Sund stands Ittoqqortoormiit, the only permanent settlement in the region, with a population of 469 (in 2010). The name of the sound honours English explorer William Scoresby, who in 1822 mapped the fjord area in detail.

ooOOoo

Plus wanted to share another photograph of Scoresby Sund taken by Hannes Grobe, seen on that WikiPedia page.

Dr. Hannes Grobe 20:10, 16 December 2007 (UTC) – Own work

More details of Dr. Hannes Grobe may be read here.

Meat is Heat!

A counter-intuitive approach to stopping global warning.

About three weeks ago, the 22nd November to be precise, I published a post under the title of Our Beautiful Planet. It included the reply to an email that I had sent to Prof. Bill Ripple or, to give him his full nomenclature, William J. Ripple, Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

I reached out to the good Professor because I wanted to share with you what he thought were the top priorities in terms of how each and every one of us should change our lifestyle. You may well recall his reply (my emphasis):

Paul, Consider suggesting that if people want to help, they could have fewer children, reduce energy consumption such as driving autos and flying, avoid meat and eat mostly plant-based foods and avoid wasting food. Below are quotes from our paper. Bill

“It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources ….

… reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods

Last Tuesday week, on the 5th December, there was an item published by NutritionFacts.org. It was called Meat is Heat: The Effects of Diet on Global Warming.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Dr. Michael Greger is happy for me to republish this article in full. For it so underlines what Professor Ripple is promoting. (Indeed, further browsing on the NutritionFacts website showed that articles are published under the Creative Commons License arrangement.)

ooOOoo

Image Credit: Andrew Walton / Unsplash. This image has been modified.

Meat is Heat: The Effects of Diet on Global Warming

One of the most prestigious medical journals in the world editorialized that climate change represents “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” Currently, chronic diseases are by far the leading cause of death. Might there be a way to combat both at the same time? For example, riding our bikes instead of driving is a win-win-win for the people, planet, and pocketbook. Are there similar win-win situations when it comes to diet?

As I discuss in my video Diet and Climate Change: Cooking Up a Storm, the foods that createthe most greenhouse gases appear to be the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases. Researchers found that meat (including fish), eggs, and dairy had the greatest negative environmental impact, whereas grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables had the least impact. And not only did the foods with the heaviest environmental impact tend to have lower nutritional quality, but they also had a higher price per pound. So, avoiding them gives us that triple win scenario.

The European Commission, the governing body of the European Union, commissioned a study on what individuals can do to help the climate. For example, if Europeans started driving electric cars, it could prevent as much as 174 million tonnes of carbon from getting released. We could also turn down the thermostat a bit and put on a sweater. But the most powerful action people could take is shift to a meat-free diet.

What we eat may have more of an impact on global warming than what we drive.

Just cutting out animal protein intake one day of the week could have a powerful effect. Meatless Mondays alone could beat out a whole week of working from home and not commuting.

A strictly plant-based diet may be better still: It’s responsible for only about half the greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have suggested that “moderate diet changes are not enough to reduce impacts from food consumption drastically.” Without significant reduction in meat and dairy, changes to healthier diets may only result in rather minor reductions of environmental impacts. This is because studies have shown that the average fossil energy input for animal protein production systems is 25 calories of fossil energy input for every 1 calorie produced—more than 11 times greater than that for grain protein production, for example, which is around 2 to 1.

Researchers in Italy compared seven different diets to see which one was environmentally friendliest. They compared a conventional omnivorous diet adhering to dietary guidelines; an organic omnivorous diet; a conventional vegetarian diet; an organic vegetarian diet; a conventional vegan diet; an organic vegan diet; and a diet the average person actually eats. For each dietary pattern, the researchers looked at carcinogens, air pollution, climate change, effects on the ozone layer, the ecosystem, acid rain, and land, mineral, and fossil fuel use. You can see in the video how many resources it took to feed people on their current diets, all the negative effects the diet is having on the ecosystem, and the adverse effects on human health. If people were eating a healthier diet by conforming to the dietary recommendations, the environmental impact would be significantly less. An organic omnivorous diet would be better still, similar to a vegetarian diet of conventional foods. Those are topped by an organic vegetarian diet, followed by a conventional vegan diet. The best, however, was an organic vegan diet.

The Commission report described that the barriers to animal product reduction are largely lack of knowledge, ingrained habits, and culinary cultures. Proposed policy measures include meat or animal protein taxes, educational campaigns, and putting the greenhouse gas emissions information right on food labels.

Climate change mitigation is expensive. A global transition to even just a low-meat diet, as recommended for health reasons, could reduce these mitigation costs. A study determined that a healthier, low-meat diet would cut the cost of mitigating climate change from about 1% of GDP by more than half, a no-meat diet could cut two-thirds of the cost, and a diet free of animal products could cut 80% of the cost.

Many people aren’t aware of the “cow in the room.” It seems that very few people are aware that the livestock sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s changing.

The UK’s National Health Service is taking a leading role in reducing carbon emissions. Patients, visitors, and staff can look forward to healthy, low-carbon menus with much less meat, dairy, and eggs. “Evidence shows that as far as the climate is concerned, meat is heat.”

The Swedish government recently amended their dietary recommendations to encourage citizens to eat less meat. “If we seek only to achieve the conservative objective of avoiding further long-term increases in [greenhouse gas] emissions from livestock, we are still led to rather radical recommendations” such as cutting current consumption levels in half in affluent countries—“an unlikely outcome if there were no direct rewards to citizens for doing so. Fortunately, there are such rewards: important health benefits…” By helping the planet, we can help ourselves.

There are tons of articles on diet and sustainability. It’s such an important topic that I may review the new science once every year or two. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture entered these waters, the meat industry appeared to freak out, and the Dietary Guidelines debate continues.

ooOOoo

Just reflect on the key message from this article (my emphasis):

“A study determined that a healthier, low-meat diet would cut the cost of mitigating climate change from about 1% of GDP by more than half, a no-meat diet could cut two-thirds of the cost, and a diet free of animal products could cut 80% of the cost.”

In other words, the most cost-effective way of mitigating climate change is to change to a diet free of animal products. Plus, it’s a damn sight healthier for you and me!

 

Happy Birthday, my darling Jeannie.

Philosophising about this ageing lark!

A few days ago Jean and I listened to an episode from the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Living. Or as the home page of the programme’s website explains, The Art of Living is a …

Documentary series revealing how engagement with art has transformed people’s lives.

Anyway, the episode that we listened to was a delightful 30-minute discussion between Marie-Louise Muir and the Belfast-born poet Frank Ormsby. The reason we selected this episode to listen to in particular is revealed by republishing how the BBC introduced the programme. (For Jean was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in December, 2015.)

Frank Ormsby’s Parkinson’s

The Art of Living

When the poet Frank Ormsby was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, his response was unexpected. He embarked on a newly fertile creative period, documenting his experiences and finding a voice in his poetry that he was beginning to lose in his daily communications.
His first act was to search Google – for jokes. “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.”

As he discusses with Marie-Louise Muir, the illness has changed him. It’s mellowed him. After a career as a school teacher, his daily life is now quieter and more solitary. There’s a poetry, almost, in his pauses and silences.
Frank belongs to the generation of Northern Irish writers that has followed in the footsteps of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley. His medication, he believes, has aided his creativity. But it has also induced hallucinations. He finds himself sitting on his own in his study but surrounded by people, by the ghosts of his mother-in-law and unidentified visitors. And he’s also haunted by a fear that the earth will open up and swallow him.
But if you ask how he’s doing, he writes, “I’ll tell you the one about ‘parking zones disease’.
I’ll assure you that the pills seem to be working”.

Photo credit: Malachi O’Doherty, With readings by Frank himself and Ciaran McMenamin from The Darkness of Snow. Produced by Alan Hall. A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

That wonderful joke offered by Frank, this one: “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.” comes a little after the 5-minute point in the interview. I strongly encourage you to listen to the full interview. Here’s the link to the radio programme.   

Jean and I were sitting up in bed a couple of mornings ago reflecting on how recent it has been since we ‘got it’ in terms of what becoming old really means. For me and Jean, for different reasons, it is only in the last twelve months that ageing, the process of becoming older, the decline in one’s faculties, and more and more, has been truly understood. Yes, before then of course one understood that we were getting old. But it was an intellectual understanding not the living it on a daily basis understanding we now experience.

Back to Frank Ormsby. Or rather to a feature in the Belfast Telegraph published in 2015.

Frank Ormsby: Life at Inst was very different from my upbringing

Leading Belfast poet and former Inst. Head of English Frank Ormsby on his tough Fermanagh upbringing, losing his father when he was 12 and how humour has helped him cope with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Write stuff: Frank Ormsby at his home in north Belfast

March 23, 2015

As Frank Ormsby sits in the study of his beautifully-appointed 1930s home in north Belfast there is no hint of his much more austere upbringing. As befits the workspace of a poet and long-time English teacher at one of Belfast’s leading schools, the bookcases that line the walls are crammed with a wide range of literature.
It could not be a more different environment from the rural home where he grew up just after the Second World War.

When Frank was born in 1947, his father Patrick was already in his 60s. “I remember him as an old, grey-haired man”.

It was Patrick’s second marriage. His first had produced 10-12 children. “I was never totally sure of the exact number”, Frank recalls.

“I never met them as they had dispersed to Scotland and other places by the time my father, by then a widower, had married my mother. As far as I know the last one of them died last year.”

Frank’s home was about a mile and half outside Irvinestown. His mother Anne had worked on a relative’s farm – “she could build hay or cut turf as well as any man” – and his father as a farm labourer who occasionally sought work in the factories in Scotland.

“The conditions in which we lived were lacking in luxury. We had no running water. We had to carry it in buckets from a well half a mile away. There was no electricity and it was a long time before we even had a radio, or wireless as it was called then,” Frank says.

You may read the rest of that article here.

Here’s one of Frank’s poems that was published by The New Yorker in March, 2013.

BOG COTTON

By Frank Ormsby

They have the look
of being born old.
Thinning elders among the heather,
trembling in every wind.
My father turns eighty
the spring before my thirteenth birthday.
When I feed him porridge he takes his cap off. His hair,
as it has been all my life, is white, pure white.

Maybe that’s how it is. Having the look of being born old!

But there’s one thing that I treasure beyond gold itself. Having the fortune to be living out my final days, however many there are, in the company of my beautiful Jeannie and all the loving dogs around me.

Puppy Cleo coming home – April 6th, 2012

 

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!