What I am reading now

Lengthy salon article on US militarized police presence

I should also say, my 20 day absence is due to a horrible, horrible technical problem (work-related) which has me thinking I ought to invest in a back up machine of my own.  For several years now I’ve been solely working from my office computer (due to plentiful international travel).

Is it time to shell out the dough and buy a laptop for myself? (Sad face).




Homemade cough soother

I wouldn’t exactly call this a syrup because once you do a half and half with honey, it doesn’t have a syrupy texture anymore. Of course you could amp up the honey to something like 80:20 but then you’re basically just eating honey.  I don’t have anything against eating honey, per se, but my body seems to resist if I consume excessive amounts of simple sugars, so I try to resist.

I’m pretty sure this homemade remedy, for which I am providing an unrecipe (aka, a recipe without detailed amounts) is responsible for my FINALLY getting over the most virulent day-care infested cough-cold that I have had since the baby arrived!   I am still coughing but with much less frequency.  The other thing that really helped was slathering my throat with vicks vaporub (I am a vicks addict), wrapping a scarf around it, and slopping it onto the soles of my feet and then putting socks on.  Then I covered myself with a heavy down comforter that mitigates even the tiniest chill in the air (throwing it off in the middle of the night) – and finally – success!    That plus getting MORE SLEEP, always a battle with the earliest of early-morning babies.   I did a quick google for a homemade cough syrup but I couldn’t find one that seemed to hit all the bases.  A lot were just ginger plus lemon.  DUH. Of course you need ginger plus lemon.



  • Ginger root
  • Red pepper flakes (numbs throat)
  • Honey (soothes throat)
  • Fennel seeds (digestive support, flavour)
  • Yellow onions (onions & garlic are natural anti-inflammatories)
  • Elderberry tincture (optional – for vitamin C, FYI Safe with breastfeeding)
  • Nettle tea (good for liver support)
  • Garlic cloves (I should have added these but somehow I forgot)
  • Cinnamon sticks (tasty + various health benefits too numerous to list)
  • Olive oil (soothing on the throat)
  • Lemon or lime – fresh juice
  • Apple cider vinegar

Does that sound disgusting? Cause it actually tastes pretty good.  Especially if you are a fan of sweet, spicy ginger candies normally.

  1. Slice onions, chop garlic and ginger.  Sautee together in olive oil for about 10 minutes at low heat.
  2. Add water, a cup or so, and toss in red pepper flakes (a few tbsps), fennel seeds, loose tea and  the cinnamon sticks.  Bring to a rolling, headily scented boil.
  3. Juice as much lemon or lime juice as you have energy for.
  4. Reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup – cup (depending on how much of this good juju you want and how much honey you have, you will go equal parts honey and decoction).
  5. Cool & combine in glass gar (mason jar works) with equal parts honey, and stir in lemon/lime juice.  VOILA!  Take teaspoons as you wish, or use as a concentrated sicky tea solution and combine 1:2/3/4/5 parts boiling water depending on your desire.   Burns so good…yum.

FYI, oil of oregano and echinacea, two of my go-to herbal supports for sickness, are not appropriate for breastfeeding mothers.

Optional additions?  Tumeric, orange juice, mint….although for the best flavour you might want to reign it in.

Let me know if this works for you!

Here are some other, apparently more useful recipes that work off of the power of onions.  A poultice here – I had one of those nasty deep seated coughs that wasn’t dislodging…and a kid-friendly onion syrup, which I could have been trying on DD.  Now I know for next time….

Reading: 1rst dibs’ magazine

There’s a few e-design magazines that I don’t even have time to enjoy most of the time! (Can you say “Lonny”?) But they definitely merit attention.  One of them is 1rst dibs ‘introspective’ magazine.   It uses a beautiful page-turning format and the articles always have great photography.  The articles are usually brief profiles highlighting today’s designers.  (Click to see the high res image).


One of the best features is “The Talent” which is kind of a whos who of the up-and-coming.  They always conclude with completely unaffordable 1rst dibs pieces.  (1rst dibs is a high design online source).


Check out the full piece featuring NYC based design group THE SCOUT.  These are some fantastic eclectic interiors that really float my boat!  One of the great thing about the spaces featured in this piece is they rely on the brilliance of decorating, not amazing airy architecture, which most of us don’t have, sadly.


Reading: Secret Daughter

“Mommy lit”?

The Globe’s reviewer called this ‘mom lit’ which is not inaccurate in so far as this book is focused on the lives of mothers and mothering, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth because chick lit and its derivations are usually flippant insults leveled by critics who need ‘weightier’, more literary, more precious books.  Let’s take this for what it is: an emotional, incredibly well paced, one-generation drama.

It’s true Gowda is no Rohinton Mistry.  The book lacks nuance and literary flavour:  I recall but one overt metaphor in the book – the stars which reveal themselves like an earring under a fold of dark hair.  But taking out all the lyricism allows the plot to careen forward, five years at a time.  Asha is unborn, now she’s 3 days old, now she’s one, now she’s six, now she’s 16 (whoa! where did the time go?), now she’s 20 and an award-winning student at an Ivy League school.  So different from Mistry’s deeply evocative descriptions.  But Gowda got me to finish the book in one night (oooh, sacrificing precious sleep on an evening when my darling actually slept from 8am – 5am (!!!), where as I have still not finished A Fine Balance….I’m stuck somewhere in the Emergency. I put it down about a year ago and haven’t picked it up since.  Oops.

If I had to compare the two (which, since I haven’t finished reading the latter I am abjectly unqualified to do but that’s why I have my own blog, yeah!), I would say Mistry’s book is political; Gowda’s is personal.   Or maybe it has to do with the level of detail Mistry has given to both politics and person over emotion (melodrama).  Mistry’s characters certainly feel emotion–mostly fear, as they are largely drawn from the struggling underclasses – whereas Gowda’s Ivy League-educated characters have the luxury of oblivion, ambition and self-pity. Mistry’s characters are pawns of Fortune, and Fortune in his book is determined by rather far off self-interested politicians.  Gowda’s characters are very close to the political class – but it is never discussed. Politics do impact her impoverished characters (who also demonstrate a touching resiliency and strength), but not in a way that they have energy to perceive or time to dwell on — the violence seems to erupt randomly rather than as a product of a system that empowers one group of people and disempowers another.

On that note, my major criticism is that although it is a story that gives equal narrative time to the wealthy western family Asha joins and the impoverished peasant family of her birth, it is written with little class awareness.  Could that be because the writer is from that Ivy-educated class herself?  There is no criticism of the high business echelons with whom Asha mingles.  Nor does she seemed fazed or bothered by the demonstrations of wealth she witnesses there despite her journalistic ‘immersion’ in the slums.  Outside of a single fleeting criticism of the hypocrisy of one wealthy family’s contribution to Mumbai’s pollution, there is no criticism of the wealthy in general, and no connection drawn between the staggering wealth of some of India’s population and the struggles of her birth parents.  Her new, wealthy family is unconditionally celebrated.  For all the contradiction she finds in India (poor/rich, despair/resilience, modern/backwards), she finds none in her family. They are loosely drawn but all welcoming; they are rich but it is tempered with magnanimity a la the Great Capitalists, enlightened about both gender and caste (Asha’s likely lower caste is never commented on and never an issue) and humble (her family are patrons without fanfare to the orphanage from which Asha is rescued). For a character who’s life work is criticism of inequities (as a journalist), it’s a disappointing hole in Gowda’s tale.  Asha has the paint-by-number Western response to India’s in your face, devastating poverty – shock, revulsion and despair.  And then the 2nd ‘more enlightened’, equally formulaic response: to see the humanity of those who are suffering. Then she meets a nice, wealthy Indian boy educated abroad and yeah!  I would have liked to see Asha turn her lens and her intellect on herself, and allow that to be part of her journey of self-discovery.  Her own western family is well meaning in a similar bumbling, wealthy way, her mother ironically self-actualizing through California’s yoga culture and upcoming cycling trips to Tuscany.

The book is very interested in women’s lives (though mostly the upper class kind) and for that I commend it.  Solid pacing and well worth a read.  But it doesn’t challenge us (especially us wealthy western readers who are basically dabbling in a kind of poverty-tourism when reading the stories of Asha’s birth parents). The book allows us to shed our tears for their tragedies but walk away hopeful.  The persistence of those people (thank god we’re not them) is legendary, so let us carry on.  It strokes your social justice heart, but ultimately the tale is a hollow one.

I suspect a good non-fiction companion piece for this is probably Kristoff’s Half the Sky, which is on my ‘to read’ list.

Have you read either? What did you think?