July 31, 2010

The Cracked Pot

Posted in Friendships tagged , , at 11:32 am by Liliana

The Cracked Pot

The Cracked Pot

My friend Dianna Crossley sent me this Chinese proverb. Sometimes the story appears as an Indian version.

I hope my readers like it:

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that she carried across her neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.  This happened daily for full two years, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.  The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.  “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old woman smiled, ”Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?  I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

SO, to all of my cracked pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

July 30, 2010

Happy Summer, Avery!

Posted in Cancer, Children, Family, Health tagged , , at 6:34 am by Liliana

Avery with a broken leg

Avery with a broken leg

Avery has been enjoying the summer – playing with her two brothers, swimming, going to barbecues and graduation parties.

Now that the chemo treatments are over, she is feeling great, eating well, growing and learning all kinds of new things. Her hair is coming back as well as her eyebrows and eyelashes.

But a few days ago, she had an accident. Her older brother Ben was swinging her around and lost his balance.  They fell and Avery ended up with a small fracture in her leg. Her bones have been weakened by chemo, so now she has a purple cast on her leg.

But after everything she has been through, what’s a little broken leg? This brave little girl is smiling and bringing joy to everyone who sees her.

In September, she is going for another checkup – a full body scan to make sure all is well and the cancer has been beaten for good.

In the meantime, she is still having fun. The cast is not waterproof, so she can’t swim, but there is no stopping Avery.  She is finding a way to get around, whether by hopping or crawling.

Happy summer, sweet Avery!

July 29, 2010

Oil Spill in Michigan

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Health, News tagged , , , , , , , at 6:41 am by Liliana

Detail Map of Michigan

Detail Map of Southwestern Michigan

A state of emergency has been declared in southwest Michigan’s Kalamazoo County.

Last Monday, July 26th, 2010, more than 800,000 gallons of oil have leaked into a local creek when an oil pipeline sprung a leak. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, of Houston.

The oil is now heading downstream the Kalamazoo River.

Kalamazoo River flows into Lake Michigan only 60 miles away in the town of Saugatuck.

The pipeline has been shut down, but the damage is already done. Officials are fearing contamination of local water supplies. Residents of the area have reported strong noxious fumes, and wildlife soaked in oil.

My daughter Nena and her fiancé Peter have been staying in our cottage near Lake Michigan, not far from the spill. They had planned to move to New Orleans in the fall, but I was trying to dissuade them.

Worried about health effects from the oil spill, I believed it would be much safer for them to stay in Michigan.

Source:  Kalamazoo Gazette

Source: The New York Times

July 28, 2010

The Old and the New

Posted in Family, Holidays, Serbia, Traditions tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:46 am by Liliana

Horses

The old ways

The village in Serbia where my father grew up is located in a deep valley with tall hills all around. The hills are covered with thick forests.

When I was a child in the 1960’s, there was no paved road to the village. There was an ancient cobblestone pathway that got terribly muddy when it rained and became practically impassable in spring and fall. The only way to get through during those seasons was with a wagon pulled by strong horses.

My father left the village as a young boy, went to school, and spend most of his life living in a big city, where my sister and I grew up. His brother inherited the family house and land and stayed in the village to take care of their parents and be a farmer.

Our father and uncle were close and loved each other but there was always rivalry between them – city against country, new against old, modernity against old customs.

Every Serbian family has a Patron Saint’s day and ours is in October, the rainy, muddy season of the year. Our entire large, extended family would assemble in my uncle’s house and celebrate. It was the biggest event of the year.

The year I was five, 1964, my father bought a car. He was excited to drive it to the Saint’s Day celebration, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t rain and that the roads would be dry. He wanted to display to his brother the industrial superiority of the modern times.

Well, I will never forget how hard it rained as my father, mother, sister and I drove through the thick forest. It poured. The road was thick with mud and pretty soon, the car stopped. My father tried this and that, but the car wouldn’t budge. He tried pushing it, and we got out to help.

Pretty soon, our fancy clothes were wet and muddy, and my sister and I started to cry. Our father knew that it was time to give up.

He left us to sit in the car with our mother and went looking for help. We sat for what seemed like a long time, afraid of the dark, rainy forest. Our mother sang songs to us.

And then we heard the sound of a wagon and joyous voices. Our father was coming back with our uncle, his wagon and two horses.

Our uncle was delighted. Delighted to see us but also delighted to attach the new car to his old horse wagon and pull it into the village.

The family was waiting as we descended into the valley. Everyone was amused to see that the old ways still had their place.

It wouldn’t last. These days everyone in the village has a car. The old cobblestone road is paved.

And no one keeps horses anymore.

July 27, 2010

Queen Ann’s Lace

Posted in Garden, Holidays, Travel tagged , , at 6:52 am by Liliana

Queen Ann's Lace

Queen Ann's Lace

One of my favorite summer bouquets is a simple assortment of Queen Ann’s Lace wildflowers.

These fragile, transparent, soft swirls of white seed were aptly named – they look remarkably like delicate, graceful Victorian lace.

I love to walk in the little wood not far from my house and pick handfuls of Queen Ann’s lace. I know that they won’t last long. But when I bring a bouquet home, and place it in a simple white pitcher, my room is transformed.

I feel like I have taken a brief time-travel holiday into a simpler, less demanding age.

July 26, 2010

Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner

Posted in appliance parts, Home, RepairClinic.com, Weather tagged , , , , , at 6:47 am by Liliana

Air Conditioner

Air Conditioner

Midsummer.

It is the hottest, most humid time of the year in most of the country. The last thing one needs is a broken or malfunctioning air conditioner.

If your air conditioner does show signs of misbehavior, visit RepairClinic.com. Highly trained technical experts can help you troubleshoot your problem, find the solution and acquire the part you need to fix it.

Here are a few of the most common problems with air conditioners:

  • The air conditioner doesn’t turn on at all – Check to see if there is power getting to your unit – check the fuses or circuit breakers. If there’s still no power, you will need to contact a qualified electrician to restore power to the outlet. If there is power coming to the appliance but it is still completely dead there may be a problem in one or more of the following areas:
    • Wiring (inspect for any broken or burnt wiring)
    • Thermostat
    • Compressor
    • Overload and/or relay
    • Selector switch
    • Control board

Work on these areas of an appliance may require help from an appliance repair person or other qualified technician.

  • The fan runs but there’s no cold air – Is the thermostat knob turned to the proper setting? Is the compressor motor running? The compressor is a football-sized case with no apparent moving parts. It is located inside the air conditioner at the center. Is it humming or making any kind of continuous noise or causing the lights to dim? If it is making a continuous noise, and your air conditioner is still not cooling at all, there may be a serious problem with one or more of these areas:
    • Compressor
    • Condenser
    • Evaporator

These items are not user serviceable. You will need to contact a qualified appliance repair technician to repair these components.

If the compressor is not running but you do have power to the air conditioner there may be a problem in one or more of these areas:

  • Compressor
  • Overload and/or relay
  • Thermostat (open thermostat)
  • Burnt wiring
  • Bad selector switch
  • Capacitor

For more information, troubleshooting suggestions and all the air conditioner parts that you need, visit RepairClinic.com.

July 25, 2010

Chocolate Blueberry Cake

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Health, Recipes tagged , , , at 7:05 am by Liliana

Michigan blueberries

Michigan blueberries

Sweet, plump blueberries are all the rage in Michigan at this time of year.

I eat them every day. Most mornings, I have a bowl of blueberries with plain yogurt or kefir for breakfast.

But what can be more delicious than blueberries with chocolate?

Try this light cake with your afternoon tea or coffee.

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (white whole wheat preferred)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup date syrup, maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 cup blueberries (for serving)
  • additional syrup or agave nectar to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, chia (or flax) and salt. In blender, combine water, 1/2 cup blueberries, and balsamic vinegar and blend until smooth.

Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add the syrup and the blueberry mixture. Stir until completely mixed.  Pour into an oiled 9-inch round cake pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before inverting onto serving platter.

Serve with blueberries on top, drizzled with additional syrup or agave.

Source: FatFree Vegan Kitchen

July 24, 2010

Natural Face Masks

Posted in Health, Women tagged , , , at 5:45 am by Liliana

Natural beauty secrets

Natural beauty secrets

If you have a free, leisurely afternoon this summer, do something nice for yourself.

Make yourself a tall glass of iced tea. Then mix one of these natural facial masks to make your face clear and beautiful. Sit on a comfortable chair, read a magazine or a good book, and relax.

Here is a list of well known natural combinations for nurturing beautiful skin.

Just mash the ingredients together and let the mixture sit on your face for 10-15 minutes.

  • Apple & Honey & Oatmeal
  • Avocado & Honey
  • Banana &  Plain Yogurt & Honey
  • Brown Sugar & Milk
  • Strawberries & Cream & Honey
  • Egg Yolk & Honey & Olive Oil
  • Oatmeal & Olive Oil
  • Cucumber & Yogurt & Strawberries & Honey
  • Blended Almonds & Honey & Egg White
  • Baking Soda & Water
  • Apricots & Milk
  • Lemon & Egg & Honey

Do you have any natural beauty secrets you might like to share?

July 23, 2010

Remembering Nikola Tesla

Posted in Serbia tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:36 am by Liliana

Nikola Tesla

“Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.” Nikola Tesla

As a schoolgirl in Yugoslavia, I grew up with great reverence for Nikola Tesla. Every child knew details of his life and his discoveries in science and electricity.

When my family moved to the US, I was shocked to discover that people here hardly knew his name.

My husband Jeff, a scientist himself, sent me an email about Tesla recently. It seems that people in the US are starting to talk about him more.

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant scientist and inventor. He single-handedly ushered in the age of alternating-current electrical power  over the objections of Thomas Edison, who proposed a massively inefficient scheme for distributing power via direct current (like batteries).

He was born on July 9, 1856, in the village of Smiljan, in the province of Lika, Croatia which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a Serbian Orthodox priest. His mother, although not educated, descended from many generations of Serbian Orthodox priests and was an intelligent and innovative woman in her own right.

After completing his elementary education in Croatia, Tesla continued his schooling in Graz, Austira, then attended the University of Prague. Before emigrating to the United States in 1884, he worked as an electrical engineer in Germany, Hungary and France.

Once in the US, Tesla found employment with Thomas Edison in his New Jersey laboratories. In 1888 Tesla made the discovery that a magnetic field could be made to rotate if two coils at right angles are supplied with AC current 90 degrees out of phase . This discovery  made possible the invention of the AC induction motor. Soon after, Tesla and Edison separated over differences in style and approaches to science.

In 1885, George Westinghouse, founder of the Westinghouse Electric Company, bought patent rights to Tesla’s system of alternating-current. The advantages of alternating-current over Edison’s system of direct-current became apparent when Westinghouse successfully used Tesla’s system to light the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

In 1887, Tesla  built a laboratory in New York City. His experiments ranged from an exploration of electrical resonance to studies of various lighting systems. To counter fears of alternating current, Tesla gave exhibitions in his laboratory in which he lighted lamps without wires by allowing electricity to flow through his body.

Tesla became a US citizen in 1891.  He was at the peak of his creative powers at this time, developing  in rapid succession the induction motor, new types of generators and transformers, a system of alternating-current power transmission, fluorescent lights, and a new type of steam turbine. He also became interested in wireless transmission of power.

In 1900, Tesla began construction on Long Island of a wireless broadcasting tower, but due to a lack of funds it was never built. Tesla’s notebooks are still examined by scientists and engineers looking for original ideas.

In later years, Telsa’s hot temper, impractical business decisions, and eccentric beliefs damaged his reputation among the businessmen he depended upon for funding of his experiments. He spent the last years of his life in increasing poverty and seclusion, living in a hotel and feeding pigeons daily on the steps of the New York Public Library.

Still, when Tesla died in New York City on January 7, 1943, hundreds of admirers attended his funeral services, mourning the loss of a great genius. At the time of his death Tesla held over 700 patents.

Tesla was a shy, eccentric and reclusive man. He had very few friends. It delighted me to find out that one of his closest friends was Mark Twain. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and listen to their conversations!

July 22, 2010

Old Photographs

Posted in Children, Family, Hobbies tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:45 am by Liliana

an old photograph

An old photograph

In the small town on Lake Michigan, where we have our cottage, there is a captivating antique store.

The store is located downtown, on two floors of a large old building. Different vendors equip their own spaces, so there is a wide selection of styles, periods, and tastes represented.

Almost every time we stay at the cottage, I visit the store. Most times I don’t buy anything. But I walk around and look at old things, things with history.

There is furniture – fragile side tables from the mid eighteenth century,  dented heavy oak library reading tables, ornately carved bookshelves.

Fine home-made lace and soft, embroidered tablecloths from the 1950’s.

Shabby chic linens and pillows.

Rows and rows of out-of-print books.

Etherial German and English bone china.

Glassware of all colors, shapes and sizes.

Paintings – original oil and watercolor landscapes by local artists, ink drawings and reproductions of flower etchings.

And then the photographs. Beautifully printed individual and family portraits of serious children, newlyweds in formal attire, multi-generational families in their Sunday best. I look at their faces, study their eyes and dazzled expressions, wonder about their lives. Where are they now? Why are their photos in an antique store?

I hope they had good, long and happy lives.

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