Friday, November 30, 2007

Six Weeks Till Costa Rica

In six weeks I'll be in Costa Rica. As the time has inched toward that day, I've been reading books on natural areas of Costa Rica that I would like to visit and I've been studying Spanish. The more I know before I go, the further I'll get in my Spanish classes. I'm not sure why I'm taking Spanish classes. But that's the essence of this entire trip.

My neighbor will be flying out with me and will be spending 4 weeks at the Costa Rica Language Academy. Our classes will be Monday through Thursday. I'll need the other 3 days of the week to absorb the 4 days of class material and practice it. Class is 9 to 2 with a one-hour lunch break. That's 16 hours a week of class. The class size averages 3-4 students, so they will keep me moving so I'm continually learning.

After that we'll have 2 hours of Latin dance classes. As if all the walking I'll be doing won't be enough exercise. I'm expecting a lot out of this body and these joints, and ya know what!? I think it will respond positively since I have loved Latin music for many years and I have a background in dance that's been buried away since Randal is not a dancer (not considered a loss since he's got so many other grand qualities).

For the first time in my life I will be doing a homestay, which means living with a family. It's included in the price of the school, along with two meals a day and laundry service. I've been informed that vegetarian meals won't be a problem. The school provides all the coffee (yuk) and fruit (yea) you want while at class, so my lunch is taken care of also. My favorite food is fruit and especially tropical ones.

Buses will be my mode of transportation from home to school. When in Costa Rica, live as the Ticos do (what Costa Ricans call themselves). Bus fare is a quarter. It will feel like I'll be going back in time. I used public buses to attend grades 8-12. Maybe if I close my eyes I can imagine myself at that age and my body will begin to agree with me.

I don't have a clue where I will be for the other 4 weeks but I am hoping to spend it in the rainforest. To me that is Heaven on earth. I love forests since I haven't been able to be a sun person since 1976 when I found out I had vitiligo. Fortunately I'm so fair-skinned it's not very noticeable, but if I tanned it would be, so I avoid the sun for several reasons. The density and diversity of a rainforest just thrills my heart. The Garden of Eve must've been a rainforest.

My typical way to plan a trip is to have every detail on paper, time schedules and reservations booked and activities planned. This whole trip has come about in strange ways, so I guess the rest of it is going to be the same. Every time I think about booking something beyond the school, I get that "nah" feeling, ya know! Gut reaction, whatever you want to call it. I just know that it's not time yet. Makes me wonder what surprises lie ahead. That's not the kind of surprises I enjoy. It's so much better when you get can all your ducks in a row to waddle with, but ....

I think it's another one of those "trust me classes" that God enjoys tossing my way. I've not even taken a seat in most of those classes, but I think it's time. After all, it is said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Since I've chosen to simplify life and buckle down to get over this rheumatoid arthritis that wants to control my body, I figure I need some education in trust since I'm way behind.

I've never packed for 9 weeks before and with the hot and cold climate in Costa Rica it will be a real challenge to get it all in one bag that I can manage alone. My handsome hunk will not be there to fuss over me and not let me carry anything.

There's a lot of fears I could list for this trip - they all fall under the category of "unknowns." I like having control over my environment ... don't you? There are too many unknowns beginning with the language, but one by one I'll get through them.

I hope I can keep that attitude as I walk through this adventure. I'll just pretend you are walking with me and encouraging me all the way.

Using Christmas Cards Received

We all get a bunch of holiday greetings that are very special to us and we set them back for a few years until space limits us from "keeping them all" and it's time to go through and find a use for them. Here's a few things I've done with them over the years:

• Cut out a cute part of the scene, punch a hole in the corner, and use it for a gift tag. Some can be used on gifts other than Christmas depending on the scene.

• Cut out scenes and use in scrapbooks to surround your photos.

• Use them for notes around the holidays as you leave messages for family members or neighbors.

• For the most savings of all! Make them postcards with your own Christmas greeting. This will save buying cards, save trees since you won't need an envelope, provide a reuse instead of recycling option, and on top of all of that, you'll save postage compared to the cost of sending a greeting card.

Reuse Paper For Holidays

Trees have it rough this time of year. Not only are they cut down to decorate for Christmas, it's also the prime time for paper use: Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Here's some green tips for cutting down on your contribution to a sea of crumpled red and green.

1. Make home-made cards from cereal boxes and decorate with collages from catalogs that you haven't yet called to have them stop sending.

2. Wrap gifts in newspaper and grocery bags. Dress them up with raffia or some real mistletoe, holly or evergreen clippings.

3. Use real dishes for your holiday events and cloth napkins. You'll impress your friends and family and have some good memories from gathering around the kitchen sink to clean up. Some of my fondest holiday memories are from the kitchen clean-up time.

4. Save wrapping paper and gift bags when you get gifts and reuse it.

5. Make postcards out of the front of greeting cards received.

Search The Frugal Life Forum for answers to your questions or to share tips with other frugal folks.

Aromatherapy For Wild Animals & Pets

I discovered a website in the UK that has animal case studies using essential oils for behavior, temperament and health problems. The only down side is that most of the animals are in zoos. I just cry at the thought of wild animals being confined, but if essential oils helps to make a better life for them by taking away fear and anxiety and aggression, then they at least have a better chance of enjoying life.

Begin with the story of a Siberian Tiger and then click on "Case Studies" if you want to read more.

There's also stories on cats and dogs which were helpful.

If you're looking for a pure source of essential oils, I use Nature's Sunshine pure oils.

Forest Floor In The Rainforest

I am fascinated with the relationships that occur in the rainforest. It seems that every single act represents something sharing part of its life with something else. It puts a whole new light on the word "community" and "sacrifice."

I've been reading, "Journey Through A Tropical Jungle," by Adrian Forsyth. I would like to share this segment with you. It paints such an incredible picture of how important rainforests are not only to the wilder side of life, but to us. What happens in the rainforest affects us all because many of our North American species winter over there and depend on its habitat to survive. The medicinal plants there that are yet to be discovered must not be lost.

Forsyth writes, "Careful to keep out of their path (one army ant sting was more than enough), I gazed at the spectacle unfolding before me. The army of ants surged forward. It was a tremendous feat of chemical coordination and communication among tens of thousands of individuals. Somehow all those ants, working without language or leaders, had managed to organize an effective hunt.

The impact of the hunt could be clearly heard and seen. The forest floor was crackling with activity as insects hopped and lizards scuttled away, trying to flee the ants. I watched the ants mass-attack a scorpion. It struggled briefly, but the ants soon pinned it down securely and cut it to pieces. This was a hungry army.

I noticed that some insects and birds were actually following the ants. When katydids leaped up in the air to avoid the ants, large hairy tacinid flies, which had been swarming around, swooped in. Having spotted the katydids, they tried to lay their eggs on them. The fly maggots could then burrow in and feed on the katydids - that is, if the ants didn't find them first.

Birds were using the same technique, swooping down to pick off insects scared up by the ants. They reminded me of seagulls following behind a tractor for worms.

Trailing the birds were hovering butterflies, delicate slow-flying varieties with long narrow wings. Some had glistening transparent wings like shining stained glass, and others were tiger-striped in orange and black. They were visiting leaves where birds had left droppings and sipping up the nutrients they needed to make butterfly eggs.

So the legion of ants was not only eating its way through the forest, it was feeding another crowd of organisms as it went .....

I had seen yet again how the relationship among different plants and animals were vital strands woven together in a living forest."

WOW! I just want to plant myself on the forest floor and enjoy seemingly simple things of life.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Change Happens To You

From NIV Seniors' Devotional Bible
by Winfield Arn and Charles Arn

We can expect change. Change is sometimes welcome sometimes dreaded But healthy senior adults realize that it is inevitable.

We may not know why, but we do know this: an optimistic, forward-looking, courageous attitude toward the future is the secret to dealing with change. By contrast, when people begin looking backward to their life before the change, it is the beginning of the end.

Keep searching for the good. Do you see the cup half-full or half-empty? People who see the cup half-full are able to handle change much better. They have a positive mental attitude. The apostle Paul, says we saw earlier, believed that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Work on developing an outlook on life that says, "The best is yet to come."

I urge you to look at the changes that happen and ask, Can I see the possibilities and opportunities in my new situation? Those people who live long and love it search out the riches made possible by change.

Dog-Lover Learns Cats Make Ideal Pet

Conquered by a Kitten

Up until recently, you couldn't have paid me to keep a cat in the house. So darned independent. Eats and sleeps and that's it. They only want to play when they decide it's playtime. They break stuff. Nope, for me it was dogs all the way, baby. Dogs are pretty much perennially happy. You can wrestle with them, run on the beach with them. I swear there are times when I've talked with my dog and it knew exactly what I was saying. But cats? Come on. A cat could care less what your problems are. And it sure won't go for a walk with you. Read about the transformation.

Essential Oil Recipes Newsletter

Here's a recipe from the latest issue of Essential Oil Recipes and More. This email newsletter that arrives twice a month is published by Christina Tarman Bethke.

Dry Cough Recipe

Drink Method:
Mix 2 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil and 2 drops of Lemon Essential Oil with 2 tablespoons honey. Take 1 teaspoon of this and dilute in a wine glass of warm water. Sip it slowly.

Massage Method:
Mix 3 drops Eucalyptus with 2 drops of Thyme. Diluted in 1 teaspoon massage oil and massage over back and chest in lung area.

Steam Inhalation:
Use 3 drops of Lavender in steaming water. Inhale deeply through mouth.

View newsletter archives and/or subscribe.

FDA In The Dark On Tainted Food Imports

With all of the numerous recalls on human food, pet food, and other products, one would think that the FDA would not permit any loopholes to allow contaminated products into our food supply. But, five lab operators told USA Today that this is not true.

At labs that test imported food, five lab operators said the FDA gets the favorable test results, but the negative test results are not sent to the FDA if importers tell the labs not to send them.

At least 10% of the time, the lab finds contaminated shipments. There is no regulation that requires labs to send all of their tests to the FDA. Read the entire article.

FDA Has New Warning On Tamiflu

The FDA panel recommended yesterday that Roche change the warning label for Tamiflu, which has been used by 48 million patients since its launch in 1999.

The drug's label already mentions reports of delirium and self-injury, primarily among children in Japan, but some of the FDA's experts suggested the language should mention that several patients have died as a result of these abnormal behaviors.

Read the entire article.

Top Mistakes When Getting A New Cat

Adopting your first cat is a huge step, not to be taken lightly. Although cats have a reputation for taking care of themselves, that fact does not equal "no care is necessary."

Before rushing in to buy that darling kitten in the pet store window, take the time to do your homework, so you can avoid these common mistakes made by new cat owners. The result will be a happier and healthier cat and a long-term companionship with another living being, the like of which you never dreamed.

Read the entire article at Cats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Singing Helped Alzheimer's Patient

As Bill Bundock's Alzheimer's progressed he became more and more locked into his own world. Bill lost his motivation, and his desire and ability to hold conversations, but all this changed when the couple started attending a local sing-song group, aimed especially for people with dementia.

His wife, Jean, said Singing for the Brain had unlocked Bill's communication block. Read the entire article.

New Method To Avoid Birds Hiting Windows

On David Sibley's blog, there is information on using markers on the windows that are visible to birds but not to human eyes. These marks in grid format can keep the birds away from trying to fly through the windows. Read the blog.

Is Happiness A Choice?

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins -
Revisiting Apartment Building Where I Grew Up

Is happiness a choice? I remember almost feeling anger when I saw a book many years back with the title of, "Happiness Is A Choice." I thought it was surely written by some happy-go-lucky, head-in-the-ground, Pollyanna (with a bit of bitterness towards that kind of personality, which has since turned into envy).

Surely for those who think a lot and live life in touch with the world around them, it's not possible to choose happiness every day. The world holds a lot of horrors and many times they are in our own personal lives, so how could you make a choice for happiness when so much and so many are suffering?

"Life Is A Challenge" held much more meaning and understanding to me, but what if happiness were simply a matter of looking at your world differently? What would life be like to look out and have that really good "spring fever" feeling that all is right in the world and life is delicious?

The more I work at it the more I realize that happiness is a choice. It seems like so much work to believe the best, to stand on the Word, to trust in God's promises, to see His love converting horrible situations into good (as Romans 8:28 promises) and to think about my blessings rather than what I call "reality."

That message that I hear saying, it's too laborsome and tiresome to do those things is the Enemy that wants to see me in the black hole that I would sink into if I didn't choose happiness (and joy) that I can have because of the promises of God and what Jesus did on the cross to allow me to find joy in each day and to live in peace of mind.

Yes, it's a continual choice to convert those negative thoughts that we can become addicted to and that come so instantly to mind because we've trained our minds to replay them over and over. The more we choose happiness, the easier it gets.

When I began this process, I would go through days of "the black hole" as I call it where life is hopeless, worthless, miserable, awful, evil and just too much to bear. As I began to take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) years ago I began to notice bad thoughts so much quicker. I was feeding my mind good thoughts and my body likes good thoughts, so as time passed it was easier.

Actually I was so shocked to realize how much bad thinking I really had and that in itself made me more determined to be obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) than to the devil. Now, I can catch it seconds after I think something and choose whether or not to turn it around. Do I want joy or do I want to wallow?

Consider these thoughts of James Allen from his free e-book, As A Man Thinketh:

"A noble and God-like character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with God-like thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.

Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thoughts, he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace."

The promise in all of this? You will find that happiness is a choice. You can choose to see joy in every situation and I can tell you I still have a lot of situations that the devil uses to try to get me to wallow. All of the health challenges that I have gives him plenty of room, and my compassion for wildlife and suffering people and children of the world could easily take me down if I didn't know that My God has a plan in it all.

I can trust His plan, or I can see life with a very limited view and believe that's all there is to it. Knowing that God truly has the best for me and the world even though it doesn't look right with my finite and limited mind, allows me to move beyond my short vision into realms of joy in the midst of awful circumstances.

This world is only a drop in the bucket compared to the length of eternity, which actually has no length since it has no end. So ... what happens on this earth is to be used by us to make us more like Christ and to build our faith because we'll still be having a life in Heaven and although there will be no more tears and sorrow there, there will be rewards based on our life here.

So ... choose to be happy! It will bring more peace and joy into your life than you can imagine. We make ourselves miserable by believing the lies of the devil about who God is and isn't. Remember that was his method in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve that God didn't have her best interests in mind. Do not allow him to deceive you also.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Duckweed Takes Over Our Pond

I just discovered that what we thought was water lettuce in our pond the past couple of years, is actually duckweed. What a relief to at least have some new information on this plant that dominates our pond all summer long.

Maybe you've been wondering what your green plant is that devours the surface area of your pond also.

The small "seedlings" of the water lettuce plant look very similar to this duckweed so we just assumed that the water lettuce had returned even though we were told it does not survive the winters here in Virginia. Water lettuce does not bloom and the frogs really enjoyed the plants for perches.

Duckweed is usually introduced to ponds by traveling waterfowl. Since we have a 5 foot x 10 foot (approximate) pond, you would think that wouldn't be a problem. However, on Mother's Day in 2006, we had a pair of Mallard Ducks visit. We were thrilled and enjoyed every minute of the show .... but now I believe they are the ones to have delivered our gift of duckweed.

As you can see from the photo of a frog above in the duckweed, it's prolific. Duckweed is believed to be the world's fastest growing plant, doubling itself every 10 days. It grows 20 times faster than corn and produces as much protein as soybeans, so it is being considered as feed for fish and pigs. Quite a bit of research is being done to see if this potential can be used beneficially.

It grows so fast because it consumes nutrients from the water, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients are an environmental problem in many bodies of water (even our garden ponds), so there is some benefits for its boisterous growth habit. Experiments are being done using ducked to treat human sewage.

The frogs don't seem to mind at all. As you can see this male Green Frog thought it would help him to win the females with some duckweed ornamentation worn while courting. The article referenced below mentions that long roots indicate a healthy pond. That's good news for us.

The young snails are always in the roots which makes me think it's food for them. Given free rein, this plant continues to grow and gets deeper and deeper in the pond. Taking it out in handfuls, removing the baby snails and dragonfly larvae, is a time-consuming task with a short-lived reward factor since two weeks later the pond will be covered again.

There's always a blessing in the blackest cloud. We don't have any algae blooms or bad smells in our pond since we've had the duckweed.

In an article, Living With Duckweed, by Richard Burkmar, I found this helpful advice for keeping the plant under control:

I've found a better method is to float a piece of wood in the pond and slowly move it over the area I want cleared. Most of the duckweed collects against the wood which, once brought to the side of the pond, can be cleared out using your hands. You must check it for wildlife as you remove it though; particularly during spring and early summer when you are liable to sweep up a lot of tadpoles too. Even after you have rescued any animals you find, you should still leave the removed duckweed at the edge of the pond for a day or so: this gives any animals you missed the chance to make their own way back. This is true when you are clearing excess vegetation of any kind from a pond.

Read his entire excellent article.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Superbug MRSA: What You Need To Know

The head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls MRSA the "cockroach of bacteria." It's omnipresent, tough and adaptable.

This fall, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus suddenly went from a festering public-health issue to the top of the national news on word that it's worse than previously thought.

Last month, a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that in 2005, some 94,000 people were infected by the most serious form of MRSA infections, and one in five died.

Read the entire article.

Although this information is very sobering, what is more sad is that information is not getting out there about a patented colloidal silver solution that destroys the MRSA germ, along with many others.

There's no hype about this Silver Shield. The research is recorded in the US Patent Office and Homeland Security has been discussing it.

More info in this previous post.

Ginger For Deadly Infant Diarrhea

The popular spice ginger shows promise as a treatment for bacteria-induced diarrhea, the leading cause of infant death in developing countries.

An extract of ginger blocked the toxin responsible for diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli), which accounts for 210 million cases of diarrhea worldwide and causes 380,000 deaths yearly.

Read the entire article.

How To Pray When You're Worried

From "The Word For You Today" - October 2007

Are you worried today? Have you lost your peace of mind? Begin to pray this prayer until it takes root in your heart and becomes your fixed attitude:

"Father, You told me not to be afraid because You are with me, You will uphold me, and those who come against me will not succeed (Is. 41:10-11). You said no evil would come upon me, nor any plague touch my home for You have ordered Your angels to protect me (Ps. 91:10-11).

You said when I walk through rivers of difficulty (when I'm in over my head) You won't let me drown, and when I walk through fires of adversity (when the heat is on) You won't allow me to get burned for You are watching over me (Is. 43:2-3).

You said no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Is. 54:17). I cannot keep the enemy's weapons from being formed, but I know You will keep them from prospering. You said if I ask anything according to Your will, You would grant my request (IJohn 5:14-15).

You said when I walk in obedience before You I will be blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out, blessed when I lie down and blessed when I get up (Dt. 28:6)

You told me to give all my troubles to You and You would take care of me (I Pet. 5:7). So here they are! Today I'm standing on Your Word. You said it! I believe it! That settles it! Amen."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Migraine Brains Are Different

Scientists have discovered differences in the sensory areas of the brains of people who develop migraines.

They found a part of the cortex is thicker than in people who are free from the debilitating headaches.

What is not clear is whether the difference causes, or is the result of migraine attacks. Read the entire article.

How Much Chocolate Is Too Much For Your Dog?

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a stimulant found in cocoa beans. In dogs it can cause vomiting, heart problems, seizures, and even death!

How much chocolate is too much for your dog. It depends on the kind of chocolate and the weight of the dog.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Divine Intervention

by Donna L. Watkins

© Photo: Female Deer - Donna L. Watkins
Don't you want it? Divine intervention! A miracle! An answer to prayer!

I've got my own sketch of how I want God to intervene in my life. It's all laid out in visual detail because I've spent plenty of time designing the idea of it all. We want to draw life on a board to have it the way we see it, but life doesn't happen that way. The Master Architect has the final plans. However, as contractor's over our own lives, we can mess things up real good if we want to.

One of the way to do that is to not look for the blessings in things we do not understand. A contractor follows the plans before him, regardless of whether it's the way he would've built the house or not. There is somebody in charge above him, and that's the one who is building the house. The owner is paying the price for it. If we gave our lives over to the Lord, then Jesus paid the price for us, and we have to look at God's plans or we'll never be satisfied with what's being built.

I find the story of Joseph incredible. God gives him a dream of ruling over his brothers and shortly thereafter, they sell him into slavery. He has years of that and is then accused of something he didn't do and goes to prison, seemingly forgotten by all. Do you think he wondered about that vision?

Have you wondered about the visions and dreams that God has given you? Are you doubting them while you sit in the cell of your own prison? Have you given up because it's not on your time schedule? I'm sure Satan bombarded Joseph with thoughts such as, "So your dream was to be on a throne and here you are in prison. Worthless you. God has totally forgotten you." But Satan was wrong. The prison was only the birthplace of purpose and promise.

When you buy a piece of land to build a home on, it doesn't look anything like a home, does it? There's a lot of work to be done before you can even begin building the home. The foundation is the most important part of it all. As evidenced by the story of "The Three Little Pigs" and the man in the Bible that build his house upon the rock.

God has not changed His mind about those visions and dreams. DO NOT change yours! It's been said that our attitude determines our altitude. When God's going to do something great, He takes extra time to build a strong foundation. Many times there are long delays because we chose to whine and complain rather than keep the vision and believe in faith.

Sometimes it feels lonely, but those are the best times to make a smooth foundation. You can't lay a foundation on a home site with a bunch of people and equipment sitting all around. You have to clear the area. God seeks to clear the area of our lives from distractions so we can focus on who He is, become more like Him, and be prepared for the vision and dream that we know in our hearts is supposed to happen.

Have you given up on that dream? You can't get rid of a dream entirely. There's always a remnant there planted solidly in your soul and heart. Grab hold of it and go to God and believe again. God may not work on your schedule, but He'll always be on time if you wait for Him.

I've been tempted to bury my dreams because of the delays, and in a sense I did bury them in busyness. Molding my life in a manner so that I wouldn't have to think about them. But not showing up on the job site is not the way to get a home built. I thought leaving my job would only produce more fear since I'd have all that "extra time" to think about what I didn't want to think about.

It wasn't making sense to me that God wanted me to let go and let Him show me the way to my dreams. You can't serve two masters. I had to choose whether I was going to give more of my time to God so I could get this house (body) built, or continue on the path that has certainly not been fulfilling my dreams.

"More time to myself" didn't produce more fear once I stepped into the water. It has produced more faith and excitement and hope and joy and peace. It's about obedience which will always produce these things. God is so faithful if we open the door to His plans for our life and are willing to be used in the building process.

His delays are not denials. He's never said anything that He hasn't fulfilled and delivered. Forget the circumstances and events of the past. Stand on the Word of God and move forward in thought and in faith.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Cat Scratch Disease

Sometimes called "cat scratch fever," cat scratch disease is a bacterial infection that typically causes swelling of the lymph nodes. It usually results from the scratch, lick, or bite of a cat — more than 90% of people with the illness have had some kind of contact with cats, often with kittens. Cats less than one year old are more likely to have it. It's more likely to occur in the fall and winter.

Bartonella henselae is the bacterium that causes cat scratch disease, and it's found in all parts of the world. Fleas spread the bacteria between cats, although currently there is no evidence that fleas can transmit the disease to humans.

Usually within a couple of weeks of a scratch or bite, one or more lymph nodes close to the area of the inoculation lesion will swell and become tender.

Children are more susceptible. No reason to get rid of the cat though. The illness is relatively rare and usually mild, and a few steps can go a long way toward limiting your child's chances of contracting the disease.

Read the entire article.

I've had cats as pets for 37 years and I grew up allergic to everything, so when I got a scratch it would swell and itch and get very red if I didn't do something about it right away.

That still happens, but since we keep Tea Tree Oil in our Herbal Medicine Chest, I just apply some any time our kitty uses my legs as a launching pad for a leap. Tea Tree Oil has many uses.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Durham, NC

© Donna L. Watkins - Duke Gardens Lake
The gardens have original terraces, a garden of native plants, and an area of eastern Asia plants. There are 5 miles of walks and pathways. The lake had plenty of unusual waterfowl which made for great photos. The Autumn colors and all the different style bridges made the morning a great delight. View the photo album.

Museum of Life & Science - Durham, NC

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Ring-tailed Lemur
After beginning our tour with some fun in the children's area, we enjoyed the forested wildlife area with non-releasable wildlife. I was pleased to see the large natural habitats with woods, streams, waterfalls and no signs of stress.

This 6-acre outdoor exhibit was proclaimed a "national model" by the National Science Foundation.

The lemur exhibit is part of a study by Duke University and I had to dig more into that before deciding whether to visit this place since I don't feel like a university should "own" lemurs.

I found an article that made some sense of it all. I feel strongly that we should not allow something to become extinct if we can intervene and save an animal from the results of our own destruction of this planet. However, within that context there needs to be a stress-free environment or we're not doing the animals any good.

We enjoyed the farmyard area where we got to touch the animals. Then we journeyed into the Butterfly House with exotic butterflies, tropical plants and some close-up views of insects from around the world.

Inside the main museum area were exhibits on aerospace, geology, weather, and other science subjects. Visit the museum's website.   View the photo album of our five-hour visit.

Duke University - Durham, NC

On Thanksgiving morning we visited the campus and chapel of Duke University. It was a beautiful and colorful Fall day. The architecture was incredible and the chapel stained glass was awesome.

I even took some time to allow Randal to take a few photographs of me. There was one tree that I just hugged on. Guess that's why I'm called a tree hugger, eh?

View photo album.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Imaginations Are Not Reality - Stop Worrying

by Donna L. Watkins

©Donna L. Watkins - Passion Flower
It's quite a challenge to stand in faith on something for a period of time. Satan tries every trick in the book to get you distracted and back into fear on the matter. He'll bring back all the old issues so you can rehearse them again until there's not an ounce of faith left within you.

Then you begin to worry over those thoughts. They are not facts - you can't really know they are true at this very moment. The more you think on evil things the more you believe them to be true. It doesn't take much time to be convinced that all the faith in the world will not change life as it is. That's where the devil wants you. Trapped in the fear that nothing will change.

God says, "Cast down imaginations and take every thought captive." (2 Corinthians 10:5) That means to take control of your thoughts before they take control of you. How many times did Jesus say things like, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29)? We are created in the image of God. What we believe truly makes our world.

It's not about what has been "done to us." The rage should be against ourselves allowing it to affect our days. We can't change the past, but we can forgive and release it to change the future. To change today! We can be who we want to be today, not what the past tried to make us.

Renew your mind with what God says about you -- who He says you are. That is the Truth, not what you remember from the past. Take the Word and use it.

Cut the devil's head off so he can't say anything else to you! He can't stand in the presence of you speaking the Word in faith. It only seems easier to think bad thoughts than good ones. We are alive in Christ and we can choose whether to operate in the 'old flesh' or live in the power of the what Jesus died to give us.

Cast down those imaginations. Grab hold of the Word that means faith to you and stand with it and use it as a sword against those evil thoughts. You can win this battle! You just need to step out and God will fight with you!

Remember Philipians 4:8 and be obedient to it.:

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (New Amer. Standard)

Memorize Scripture so you have it always ready to use. You will find great joy, victory, excitement and faith in it.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Drug Companies Accused Of Biased Doctor Training

Pharmaceutical firms spend over $1 billion a year to fund more than half of the continuing medical education (CME) courses that qualified physicians are required to take in the United States.

Although drug firms say that they are scrupulous about separating their CME involvement from promotional activities, some may be influencing doctors, intentionally or not, and may even be putting patients' health at risk. Read the entire article.

Canine Cappuccino

© Robin Sockness - Her Dog KaeJae
With the coffee craze still going wild with humans, a Phoenix-based company has come out with a unique form of Doggy Java.

This is healthy canine cafe! It's caffeine-free and actually a vitamin and antioxidant drink. There's even a cup to serve it in and a Bonescotti on the side.

Check it out.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

We received a letter from Target Earth, an organization we have been a part of since the 80's. The letters we receive are always inspiring. I wanted to share part of the most recent one for those who share concern about the earth and the poor:

"During this season of Thanksgiving we are mindful of all the goodness and all the gifts God provides us in the work of Target Earth. In our efforts we are often humbled by the spirit of the poorest of the poor.

We are aware of the material goods we can bring into their communities to lessen the burden of poverty, but we are not always ready for the direct, grounded way they give back to us.

'If you have lost your heart of gratitude, you have lost everything,' a village mother recently told us while we ate rice and beans under her rickety lean-to.

Indeed. The clutter of so much can suffocate a heart."

That just stirred my soul so much! Proverbs 19:27 says, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again." What an incredible investment. 100% return!

More about Target Earth.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Surviving Lemurs Celebrate

© Donna L. Watkins - Ring-tailed Lemur
Yesterday we visited the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. After studying it online to find they had lemurs, I decided I didn't want to go, fearing it would be a zoo environment which I can't handle.

With a bit more study I found that they provided great natural habitats for the animals (non-releasable wildlife). I also happened up on this news story about lemurs which came from Duke University (also in Durham), just as the lemurs did that were at the museum we visited.

Science Daily reported that Sarph, a lemur, that lives in native Madagascar is nearly 15 years old and knows where the predators lurk, where to find food, and how to make a baby with his wild-born mate.

Seven-year-old brothers Tany and Masoandro are there too, in the steep and steamy rainforest of the Betampona Reserve in northeastern Madagascar, a large island off the southeast coast of the African continent.

They're perfectly at home in the wild now, but these three black and white ruffed lemurs were born in not-so-wild at the Duke University Lemur Center.

Read the entire article.

Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival-Charlottesville, VA

The festival involves a parade, period music, carriage rides, dancing, thanksgiving dinner, and more. Costumed professional and amateur living historians and dramatic artists portray famous people from the past who lived or visited the area. Historical Courthouse Square has a battle reenactment and period people.

Many of these people will be interpretive by using their own original writings, either in short dramatic discussions and meetings, or in informal conversations as you meet them roaming about the downtown mall.

View the photo album.

Wild Turkeys Invading Suburban U.S.

© Photo: Wild Turkey - Donna L. Watkins
By the 1930s wild turkeys had been hunted to near extinction in North America. Today, thanks to reintroduction efforts, there are about 7 million wild turkeys and they're thriving in an urban America.

The turkeys' ability to take to these urban environments was a surprise to biologists. Michael Gregonis, a wildlife biologist with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection says, "Turkeys are pretty adaptable. As long as they have some cover and some trees that they can get up into at night to roost, they can do pretty well." Read the entire article.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

God's Natural Pest Control: Stink Bugs

From Creation Moments

The world originally created by God was perfect in every respect. However, among the consequences of sin mentioned in Genesis 3, are the thorns and thistles, which make man's agriculture more difficult. We could certainly classify insect pests in the same category as noxious weeds.

However, God did not leave us without earthly solutions to these problems. Modern agriculture has relied largely on powerful herbicides and insecticides to protect crops from pests. At the same time, God's design of nature has always included more natural, less toxic ways of controlling pests. Modern science is learning how to use the same methods God uses to control insects.

The spined soldier bug, also known as the stink bug, is one of God's natural controllers of insect pests. The stink bug eats over a hundred different kinds of insect pests, including some of the worst such as the cotton boll worm and the gypsy moth.

Researchers have found that spraying a crop with natural attractant, produced by the stink bug, serves as a call to dinner. Stink bugs naturally move in and begin devouring harmful pests without damaging the crop. Since the stink bug attractant is a naturally-produced chemical, it does no harm to nature before it breaks down.

Our Creator's solutions to problems are always better than ours.

Listen to an audio version at Creation Moments.

Set Family Health Goals

From The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 17 percent of American children weigh too much, and childhood obesity can increase the risk of sleep apnea, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Help your kids develop the determination to make healthy choices. Plan family activities two or three days a week. Go to the park, walk the dog, wash the car, or join a sports league. Limit television or video games, and avoid watching television during meals.

Explain the difference between healthy and junk foods. Share healthy snacks, such as apple slices, carrot sticks, grapes, or oranges, instead of chips, cookies, or candy. Drink water instead of soft drinks at meals.

Copyright © 2007, Character Training Institute.

For more character-training resources, visit the Character First website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Reason For Seasons of Life

by Donna L. Watkins

I read several devotion books during my morning time with the Lord. It always amazes me how He feeds me daily with His Word and with the content of the devotions. Sometimes, it's a tidbit that is good for the day and sometimes it's a plate full of goodness that I have to highlight and read again and again.

This segment is from The Word For You Today. It's one of those biggie meals that I will have to spread over a few days.

No one can prevent God from using you, blessing you and giving you success, except YOU. So keep your heart and attitude right! There's a reason for everything. There's also a season. Though you cannot understand it at the moment, stand on what God's promised you, recall His faithfulness and trust Him to work things out. He can make the wrong decisions of those around you work for your good. Instead of looking for someone to blame, start seeing the hand of God at work in your situation. Remember what the Bible says: "All that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans." Romans 8:28

What a comfort to recall His faithfulness and to know that He does love us even when it feels like He doesn't. Sometimes I want to be a child and whine, "you don't love me or you wouldn't allow this in my life." But as with our own children, there are times when what looks bad is so much good for the child (and us) to mature into who we were meant to be.

I don't want to not be all that I was designed to be, so I will look to Him knowing and reaffirming to myself that He knows best. All that Joseph went through was training for his position in the palace. All the rough spots and seasons in our lives are for our best and they will be much shorter if we yield our hearts to our Heavenly Father and keep our minds filled with right thinking.

Don't let the devil make you believe otherwise. Remember the story of what he did to Eve. We do not need to be deceived. We know the end of his story. He's totally a liar!

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Swimming With Dolphins - Right or Wrong?

We homo sapiens are easily flattered. We like dolphins because they seem to like us. They smile - or rather, their mouths curve upward in an illusion of cheeriness - and we feel the urge to touch, to pet, to be nearer.

It hardly registers that dolphins smile even when they have nothing to be happy about. Read the entire article at

Prozac For Pets

National Geographic article: Can Animals Benefit From Behavioral Drugs?

Twenty-five percent of animals are euthanized because of behavioral problems. That has led to a wider use of drugs that are helping some dogs. But Prozac? Haven't we heard enough complaints from people who have taken this drug?

Take a look at the use profile and side effects of this drug:

Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

Fluoxetine is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It is used to treat behavior problems including obsessive compulsive behavior such as constant licking in dogs and cats, and feather picking in birds. It is also used to treat aggression. It may take 1-4 weeks before you see an effect.

It may cause aggression in some previously unaggressive animals.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet experiences stomach upset, tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, panting, irritability, jaundice (yellowing of the gums, skin, or whites of the eyes), vomiting, or a persistent lack of appetite while being treated with fluoxetine.

Sounds like intestinal and liver problems, besides the fact that the drug can cause exactly what people are hoping it will remove.

The natural health alternative for people to avoid this drug has been Nutri-Calm. For those prone to depression and panic attacks, the formula has a lot of beneficial ingredients.

As deficient as most pet foods are in nutrients, they could use a dose of the stress vitamin B's and C that this formula provides. It would provide another avenue to try before putting pets on drugs that may be for life. Since it comes in tablet form, it can be cut for cats and smaller dogs, since the recommendations are based on a 150-pound person.

Having a pet requires commitment and like a child, it needs to be trained to be social. There are people who are excellent at doing this. In our area, Cheryl Faulkenburry is the one to see at Center Hill School. She's got a lot of help online and does phone consultations also.

Flaxseed May Reduce Hot Flashes

Data from a new Mayo Clinic study suggest that dietary therapy using flaxseed can decrease hot flashes in postmenopausal women who do not take estrogen.

Although until recently hormone replacement therapy was the most commonly prescribed treatment for hot flashes, unwanted side effects have led to the search for nonhormonal solutions.

They have studied a variety of herbal and dietary supplements in randomized, placebo-controlled trials, including vitamin E, black cohosh and soy, but none has shown to produce any significant reduction in frequency or severity of hot flashes.

Read the entire article at Science Daily.

Eco-Friendly Bamboo Everything

What was used for the filament in Thomas Edison's first light bulb?

It is the same material used to build homes for 1 billion people across the world and is also used for everything from papermaking to food. This amazing renewable grass provides lots of gift ideas including towels, sheets, clothing, kitchenware, and even a bicycle. More on this at

Friday, November 16, 2007

Does Your Misery Exceed Your Fear?

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Photo: Adult Garter Snake
Life happens! All around us events are making us happy, sad, miserable, glad, thrilled or mad. Dealing with all the emotions of life, especially for Christians who want to do it "right," leaves us with a lot of unprocessed junk. Life is too busy. Dealing with issues "later" means they generally don't get processed. That doesn't mean the issues go away, it just means they get buried deeper and deeper as we continue to pile on layers of activities that keep us from enjoying true peace and joy.

Security isn't in the stuff we own. Matter of fact most people are dealing with a ton of insecurity because of their finances. The world has told us that more is better for a long time. Now many are deep in debt for things that really had no value, with many of them already trashed and forgotten about.

Children are growing up with an activity schedule that rivals the pace of my days in the corporate world in the 70's. What is it doing to their adrenals and nervous systems? What mental and physical diseases will put a stop to it all?

I have spent a lot of time pondering something I read recently: "Until your misery factor exceeds your fear factor you won't move!"

Why do we fill our lives with busyness? What are we not wanting to think about? What do we fear we can't do? Why do we not spend quiet time alone with God? Many people can't sit in a quiet room for ten minutes. If all the world seems to be crashing in on you if there's no noise or activity, it may be that you will want to do deal with that crash rather than having it deal with you later.

Would raising our children in a more relaxed and relational setting, rather than a running ragged lifestyle, be too uncomfortable? Would it bring up the inadequacies of parenting? After all, we are supposed to know how to do it all, right? If we didn't have parents who had a clue on parenting, how would we expect to do any better? Why bother when you can provide so many cultural events instead?

What is the heritage we are passing down? What patterns of parenting do you want your children to replicate? What message are you giving your children as to what the priorities of life are? Families say they need more "quality time" but even that gets scheduled in. Can you schedule quality time? It would seem the very essence of it would demand that there be a bit of spontaneity in it. In a group of people you would get most to raise their hands if asked if they'd like to have a slower pace to their days.

"Until your misery factor exceeds your fear factor you won't move!"

How much misery does it take to make a change? We've learned to handle pretty much misery. Our reservoirs are flowing over with stored issues to deal with later, but for many later never comes. Even when the body is manifesting diseases that relate back to emotional issues that have not been dealt with, many people would rather handle the disease than deal with the emotion that goes with it.

Pastor Henry Wright's book, "A More Excellent Way," links diseases with their emotional roots. When the Bible says, "Be anxious for nothing," and we live an anxious lifestyle, do we suffer consequences for it? Do we take away God's protection by opening the doorway to the devil in our disobedience of this Word? When Jesus said, "Do not fear" many times, do we sin when we choose to accept fear rather than faith?

Do those sins take a toll on our health? If we are disobedient and rebellious children, we can't apply the protection offered in Psalm 91 for our lives. So, do we take our own course of action and apply activity to our lives so we don't have time to think? Do we block out stillness and quiet because we don't want to hear His reminders that He is still calling us to come. To drink of His Living Water ... to thirst no more. To lay down our heavy burdens at His feet.

Are you weary enough to stop this journey of madness? Has your misery factor exceeded your fear factor yet? How many more burdens can you carry around? Is the load getting heavier than you ever imagined?

Come with me and lay it all at the feet of Jesus. Let go. Trust Him. Seek Him in the silence. It really is an easier journey. Put down the burdens you've backpacked around. The only way to peace and joy is through our Father. Open the latch on your pack and begin to unload it all before Him. He truly is the Way and the Life.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

The Ten Tenors Concert

Our son surprised us with tickets to The Ten Tenors concert at the beautifully restored
Paramount Theatre.

I consider him pretty brave since he didn't know if we had something else scheduled or not for the evening.

He told us he our Christmas was arriving early and when I said we wouldn't open it until the actual day (a family tradition), he said we had to open it right away.

There was a lot of mystery until it arrived. We couldn't come close to guessing what it actually was.

The concert was magnificent. I wasn't sure how 10 guys could present themselves on stage with grace and style but they amazed us and the vocals, talent and diversity were beyond any expectation.

Photos Of Our Gala Evening.

Pesticides: Statistics, Asthma, Children, Pets & Fleas

Pesticides are widely used in agricultural production, in factories and offices, in homes and restaurants, and in schools. Schools, with their kitchens and cafeterias, athletic fields and playgrounds, classrooms and offices, are regularly treated with a variety of pesticides.

An increasing body of scientific data on the harmful effects of pesticide exposure on people, animals and the environment raises concern about the broad use of these toxic substances. The widespread use of pesticides is a major environmental problem and a public health issue.

The least we can do is to get them out of our homes for the sake of the children and pets if we don't care about ourselves. Their low body weight increases the risks involved.

Poisoning Statistics
According to data collected from Poison Control Centers, in 2004 alone, an estimated 71,000 children were involved in common household pesticide-related poisonings1 orexposures in the United States.

A survey by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding pesticides used in and around the home revealed these significant findings:

* Almost half (47%) of all households with children under the age of 5 had at least one pesticide stored in an unlocked cabinet, less than 4 feet off the ground (i.e., within the reach of children).

* Approximately 75% of households without children under the age of 5 stored pesticides in an unlocked cabinet, less than 4 feet off the ground. This number is especially significant because 13% of all pesticide poisoning incidents occur in homes other than the child's home.

There are alternatives (see below). There are extermination services that use non-toxic methods. Sprays and powders that don't have an odor aren't necessarily non-toxic. Find a business that is using "integrated pest management" methods.

Asthma In Children
Researchers have found that pesticide exposure can induce a poisoning effect linked to asthma. Asthma is fast becoming an epidemic in our schools. Did you know that nearly 1 in 8 school-aged children have asthma? This rate is rising most rapidly in pre-school aged children. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness.

Children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure. They take in more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults in the food they eat and air they breathe. Their developing organ systems often make them more sensitive to toxic exposure. Fortunately, organic solutions exist to keep you and your children safe.

Take action. Get more information on what you can do and send a postcard to your school from Beyond Pesticides.

Pet Poisoning
Pet lovers around the world were horrified at the tragedy of thousands of animals dying from a chemical in mass-produced pet foods. It should not have happened. But what about the chemicals we expose them to daily in our home? Toxic cleaning supplies and pesticides do enough damage in humans, without considering the effects in animals with less weight.

Fleas on Pets and In The Home
Flea collars are often purchased for pets at the first sign of the first flea, or even as a prophylactic. The problem is they expose both people and pets to toxic vapors 24 hours a day. The substances the collars are imbued with may be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Your pets may develop dermatitis on their necks from the collars. Cats are especially susceptible. Humans can also get rashes.

In general, flea collars are not particularly helpful. They may kill a flea here and there in your pet's fur, but they will not touch the masses of fleas hiding in your carpet or yard. Here's an essential oil recipe for an Herbal Doggie Flea/Mosquito Collar. You can use this same recipe in a spray to use before and after your dog goes outside.

Understand the life cycle of fleas.

Alternative Natural Choices
There are many brands that now produce household cleaning supplies and organic gardening and household solutions to bugs and garden diseases. Our favorite natural product is Sunshine Concentrate.

It has replaced a wide variety of products on our cabinet shelves since I use it for counter tops and bathrooms (adding Lemon Essential Oil for antimicrobial properties), laundry (grease and stains included), dishes, floors, woodwork, soaking fruits and veggies, shower gel, hand soap, garden fertilizer, car wash and car windshield solution, indoor plants, and most recently I use it in the humidifier to eliminate scum and mineral deposits. By the way, you won't have any soap scum in your showers or at your sinks using this, so it saves on cleaning time too. Sunshine Concentrate goes a long way and takes up less storage space.

You can find a variety of products for home, garden and pets at Planet Natural.

300 MPG Car Looks Like A Plane

The company has launched the prototype on The Aptera. With 3 wheels and 2 seats, there is not much of a trunk, but 300 miles to the gallon makes it a pretty package these days. For $500 you can reserve a place on the waiting list since it will arrive in "less than 12 months." The price should be $30,000. Read the entire article.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Say Thanks To The American Troops

Here's a website where you can choose a postcard (designed by American school children), then choose a message (or write your own), and it will be sent to a member of our troops to show your appreciation for their sacrifice. Regardless of what we think or believe about this war or wars, we can all agree that we appreciate somebody willing to sacrifice their life for another.

Visit Let's Say Thanks to send your postcard(s). It will make you feel good for doing it. Share this with others.

Alternatives to Toxic Art Supplies

If life were fair, taking time out to indulge your creative side through art would be a naturally green endeavor. You could paint a mural, mosaic a table, or take your children to a pottery shop without a single worry. But this is the real world, and in it, paints, glues, glazes, and even markers can pose hidden health hazards that we should be aware of.

This article gives you labels to look for, links to less toxic options, and a special recipe for making your own supplies at home.

Better Digestion Every Day

The holidays is a time when most of us think about digestion, but you don't have to overeat to have digestive problems. Many people are plagued with them regardless of what they eat. With years of poor eating habits (on the run, while standing, bad dietary choices, drinking sodas with meals, etc.), the digestive system breaks down and you feel the effects of it with digestive symptoms such as acid reflux, belching, bloating, gas, and heartburn. There's more problems linked to digestion than we realize.

As we age, our hydrochloric acid (HCl) production diminishes, so taking anti-acids is not the answer. It only leads to other problems. You need HCl to absorb minerals so soaking up the acid can produce other long-term negative demineralization effects.

Enyzme-deficient foods (not getting enough raw fruits and vegetables), and pancreases that don't produce enough enzymes because it's too busy dealing with all the sugar in our diets, will create an intestinal environment that isn't working. Some people are challenged with not digesting specific foods, which means they don't have the enzymes needed for those foods.

Different enzymes are needed for digestion of carbs, proteins, and fats. Eating a lot of raw foods will do more for your health than provide enzymes, but most people don't take the time to do this and prefer a food enzyme combination that digests all types of foods.

Understanding more about how your digestive system works can give you a better approach to dealing with digestive problems. Finding a long-term solution rather than taking something to "hide the symptom" will make you feel better. Poor digestion causes fatigue, constipation, weight gain, and weakens the immune system.

If you don't digest what you eat, you won't get the nutrients needed to supply your body with the fuel and energy it needs. A poor functioning digestive system has lost some of its ability to turn what’s consumed into a product the body can use. The result of that is your brain tells you that you're hungry even though your stomach is not empty.

Improving your digestion affects your entire system. It's not only what you eat that matters, but what is assimilated to the cellular level. Digestion affects sleep patterns. Chronic reflux can lead to esophageal cancer.

Caffeine aggravates heartburn, reflux and ulcers so you might consider the Kick The Caffeine Habit Program at the Teeccino website. We use a Nature's Sunshine product called Herbal Beverage when we want a coffee flavor. I like it for smoothies and to make mocha drinks (with carob for us).

Take some time to learn more about how your digestive system works and make some choices to improve it. All the supplements in the world won't improve your health if they're not being digested and assimilated.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Getting Away From It All

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Photo: Eastern Gray Squirrel
I didn't know a squirrel could swim until I saw one swimming across our little pond and jumping out. They hang on the side to get a drink and I imagine he lost his grip and went in.

There was a big Green Frog not far from him that just watched the show. I was also surprised that he didn't dive. What a show God's Creation gives us. I'm sure He created each creature with a lesson for us, which is why it's so important to take time to get away to the wilderness.

Emerson said, "In the woods we return to reason and faith."

Jesus and His disciples often retreated to the wilderness for prayer and refreshing. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested. Did the wilderness provide Him with what was needed for His human side to survive it? No distractions. When you step into a forest it takes very little distance to be overcome with a sense of God. A knowing that there is something .... someone .... who intended good and beauty for our lives. The wilderness is a great evangelist.

How many of us remember moments at youth camps in the wild that were defining moments in who we are and who we wanted to be. What a life-changing time wilderness can provide. It takes the expanse of God's Creation to show us the inner depths of our soul.

Moses fled Egypt into the wilderness and God used it to mature and prepare him for his life's mission. He was called out of it to speak to the King to let his people go, and then led the nation of Israel through it. Even in the wilderness some people never let go of the city. Israel complained and compared, making themselves miserable because they weren't willing to trust God.

I'll admit after the life they lived in Egypt with all those years as slaves, I would have a hard time thinking that God had the best in mind for me in the middle of the desert. Our life's circumstances rival our spiritual ability to trust God, but within us, in the fiber of our own creation, are the threads of faith and knowing that God can be trusted. Those threads are what we have to hold on to when times get tough and the devil's voice gets louder and our minds continue to play reel after reel of times when God didn't seem to come through for us.

The problem with those films is that they don't have the whole script. We don't see the big picture. The plan and purpose of God is not to settle us down into a cozy and cushioned corner of life to be forever blissful. This life is a training ground for eternity. We need to update those films with the Truth.

There is wisdom in saving our wild lands. Henry David Thoreau said, “A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it.” There is such truth in that since we now know much too vividly by Hurricane Katrina that developing wetlands is not a wise thing. They are provided for protection, just as the woods are provided for the protection of our health. Thoreau also said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

John Muir stated, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

My backyard is a fountain of life with a view of the woods that has not yet been erased by the development that is going on only 50' to the right of it. As I write, there's a papa Cardinal at the feeder with a little one up in the trees begging for food. The fledglings sound like squeaky wheels until they get their adult voices. They remind me of teenagers that want their independence to fly (go) where they want, but still want mom and pop to feed and coddle them.

Growing up is a slow process if circumstances don't speed it along and it seems with each generation it takes longer. I know a number of folks my age (50's) that still haven't grown up, and I find in myself areas that are much more immature than I'd like them to be.

Does wilderness provide a maturing process? Some cultures send their youth off to a wilderness experience at a certain age. Wilderness camps provide reality of life experiences and stimulate independence and creative thinking. I wonder how much more our children would get from college if they had a season of time in the wilderness to prepare for it. Would they enter as adults with a mind to learn and achieve, rather than as children with a focus on freedom and foolishness?

Indeed, there is much research now being done on the health effects or defects from lack of time in nature and the outdoors. "Nature-play" is also emerging as a promising therapy for attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and other childhood problems. Louv suggests that the very presence of these disorders is evidence that the generations of alienation from nature may have already resulted in considerable harm to our children. Read more about this.

This isn't only a childhood problem. Panic disorder or anxiety attacks are alleviated with what you might call nature therapy. Read more about this.

Such things come to mind as I sit here watching the amazing interaction of species in our little corner of the world that we call Bluebird Cove. There is much to be learned. May God increase my capacity for understanding and being able to be still.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Do Not Call Registry - Every 5 Years

If you got on board to stop those annoying telemarketing calls years back, your registration may have expired. You have to renew every 5 years.

If you're one of those people that just didn't believe it would work, let me assure you it does! We haven't had a telemarketing call since a couple months after we registered.

It doesn't stop political and non-profits, but we get few calls from them.

If you get calls 30 days after registering, you can report the caller's phone number (which they are required to show if they're a telemarketer) or the name of the company.

You can also begin right away by saying, "According to my legal rights, I'd like to have this telephone number removed from your call list."

Register now through the website or toll-free at 1-888-382-1222.

Re: Cell Phones

It's a myth that telemarketers are going to begin calling cell phones. Wireless companies and the FTC will not release subscriber information to telemarketers.

Cheap Airline Seats

Some of the lesser known websites are producing some great last-minute fares. is known for fast posting of time-sensitive, last-minute bargain fares. For predictions on price changes, check out To get free email alerts when prices drop, sign-up at

New Thoughts On Producing Energy

From The Wall Street Journal Online
(Thanks to my neighbor, Ken Bushell, for sending me the article)

Instead of considering energy as a biological process, we have regarded it as a matter of chemical engineering. When we have thought about how to get more energy out of the ground, or to process it more efficiently, we turned to chemical and mechanical engineers. These means and methods are no longer sufficient, much less efficient. We have to change how we approach energy production.

That approach must begin with biology. For example, coal is concentrated life-debris that rotted under pressure for millions of years. Where there is little gas, the only way to get the energy out is to mine the coal. But where there is a lot of gas one can extract coal-bed methane, a far cleaner alternative.

If we were able to generate more gas from coal -- instead of the dirty, dangerous and destructive mechanical alternative of mining and then burning it -- we could have a significant positive impact on the environment.

Over the next decade, improvements in energy production will likely come to depend far more on understanding the biology of energy than its chemistry. As we grow bugs that like to eat sulfur, it will be a lot easier and cheaper to turn heavy crude into sweet crude. As we understand the microbial communities that lead to differential pressures in wells, we can become far better at extracting oil than by finding one more drilling fluid or learning new ways to fracture wells.

Read the entire article.

World Health Care Rankings

Seven years ago, the World Health Organization made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. France and Italy took the top two spots; the United States was a dismal 37th.

More recently, the highly regarded Commonwealth Fund has pioneered in comparing the United States with other advanced nations through surveys of patients and doctors and analysis of other data. Its latest report, issued in May 2007, ranked the United States last or next-to-last compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access to it.

Other comparative studies also put the United States in a relatively bad light. Read the entire article.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Learning More About Wildlife

With more indoor time in store for winter, many people sign up to learn something. I've found two courses online that are free and full of great information. The Backyard Wildlife Habitat courses provide details on turning your yard into habitat for wildlife around you.

National Wildlife Federation also provides a Wildlife University with courses you can take for free or pay and get college credit. You learn more in-depth information on the habitat and needs of wildlife (7 courses) and/or get more in-depth information on endangered species (16 courses). Visit the site now and enroll for free.

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