Saturday, August 31, 2013

Soldier Of Fortune

by Robert W. Service:

"Deny your God!" they ringed me with their spears;
Blood-crazed were they, and reeking from the strife;
Hell-hot their hate, and venom-fanged their sneers,
And one man spat on me and nursed a knife.
And there was I, sore wounded and alone,
I, the last living of my slaughtered band.
Oh sinister the sky, and cold as stone!
In one red laugh of horror reeled the land.
And dazed and desperate I faced their spears,
And like a flame out-leaped that naked knife,
And like a serpent stung their bitter jeers:
"Deny your God, and we will give you life."

Deny my God! Oh life was very sweet!
And it is hard in youth and hope to die;
And there my comrades dear lay at my feet,
And in that blear of blood soon must I lie.
And yet . . . I almost laughed -- it seemed so odd,
For long and long had I not vainly tried
To reason out and body forth my God,
And prayed for light, and doubted -- and denied:
Denied the Being I could not conceive,
Denied a life-to-be beyond the grave. . . .
And now they ask me, who do not believe,
Just to deny, to voice my doubt, to save
This life of mine that sings so in the sun,
The bloom of youth yet red upon my cheek,
My only life! -- O fools! 'tis easy done,
I will deny . . . and yet I do not speak.

"Deny your God!" their spears are all agleam,
And I can see their eyes with blood-lust shine;
Their snarling voices shrill into a scream,
And, mad to slay, they quiver for the sign.
Deny my God! yes, I could do it well;
Yet if I did, what of my race, my name?
How they would spit on me, these dogs of hell!
Spurn me, and put on me the brand of shame.
A white man's honour! what of that, I say?
Shall these black curs cry "Coward" in my face?
They who would perish for their gods of clay --
Shall I defile my country and my race?
My country! what's my country to me now?
Soldier of Fortune, free and far I roam;
All men are brothers in my heart, I vow;
The wide and wondrous world is all my home.
My country! reverent of her splendid Dead,
Her heroes proud, her martyrs pierced with pain:
For me her puissant blood was vainly shed;
For me her drums of battle beat in vain,
And free I fare, half-heedless of her fate:
No faith, no flag I owe -- then why not seek
This last loop-hole of life? Why hesitate?
I will deny . . . and yet I do not speak.

"Deny your God!" their spears are poised on high,
And tense and terrible they wait the word;
And dark and darker glooms the dreary sky,
And in that hush of horror no thing stirred.
Then, through the ringing terror and sheer hate
Leaped there a vision to me -- Oh, how far!
A face, Her face . . . through all my stormy fate
A joy, a strength, a glory and a star.
Beneath the pines, where lonely camp-fires gleam,
In seas forlorn, amid the deserts drear,
How I had gladdened to that face of dream!
And never, never had it seemed so dear.
O silken hair that veils the sunny brow!
O eyes of grey, so tender and so true!
O lips of smiling sweetness! must I now
For ever and for ever go from you?

Ah, yes, I must . . . for if I do this thing,
How can I look into your face again?
Knowing you think me more than half a king,
I with my craven heart, my honour slain.
No! no! my mind's made up. I gaze above,
Into that sky insensate as a stone;
Not for my creed, my country, but my Love
Will I stand up and meet my death alone.
Then though it be to utter dark I sink,
The God that dwells in me is not denied;
"Best" triumphs over "Beast", -- and so I think
Humanity itself is glorified. . . .

"And now, my butchers, I embrace my fate.
Come! let my heart's blood slake the thirsty sod.
Curst be the life you offer! Glut your hate!
Strike! Strike, you dogs! I'll not deny my God."
I saw the spears that seemed a-leap to slay,
All quiver earthward at the headman's nod;
And in a daze of dream I heard him say:
"Go, set him free who serves so well his God!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Should The Husband Ask His Wife To Earn An Income?

Two years ago Lady Lydia from Home Living wrote an article which got a lot of comments. The name of the article was "Should Christian Husbands Ask Their Wives To Go To Work" and she caught some flak because of it. She wrote, among other things:

If a husband truly understands God's word, he will not hint, ask, pressure, demand or command his wife to "get a job."  He is less of a man if he does, because he is expecting her to be a provider. The Christian husband is supposed to be the provider. 

When the wife becomes a co- provider, she takes on the responsibilities that God has given to her husband.  The man loses a piece of his masculinity and will be forever dependent on his wife's salary, and she forfeits a part of her natural womanliness by leaving the feminine concerns of the home that were designed for her by God. The husband becomes dependent upon her salary and loses his sense of urgency and drive to earn a living. (emphasis mine).

While things discussed in the comments section varied from the Royal Wedding to the Australian domestic policies, the main topic of discussion seemed to be whether the wife should obey her husband if he commands her to go to work. Lydia stated that obedience to God comes before obedience to man, and that apparently caused hurt feelings in some.

The same discussion seems to resurge quite regularly on various alternative blogs and it somehow reminds me the famous discussion on what was first, the chicken or an egg. My particular opinion is that it often depends on the situation so that I would hesitate to give advice one way or the other without knowing the details.(Giving advice on the net is in general not my speciality).The thing I want to talk about today is the attitude which some commenters who take part in those types of discussions demonstrate all too often, namely that some of them seem to think that male authority can come without male responsibility. 

First of all, what exactly is marriage? Catholic Church teaches that it is a sacrament, while the various Protestant denominations don't, however, marriage has existed in various forms throughout different cultures, and if we strip it of all religious talk, and look at the matter from the purely economical point of view, marriage is a contract based on property rights, where the husband pledges to provide for the wife in exchange for having exclusive rights to her sexuality. Since traditional marriage is based on property rights, various "progressives" hate it and have been trying to subvert and destroy it for years, but that's not the topic of the present post.

The point I'm trying to make is that we simply can't have traditional marriage without the husband providing for his wife and children. His refusing to do so, negates the very basis of marriage in the same way as the wife's sexual infidelity does. In Islamic Republic of Iran, of all places, the wife can apply for divorce if the husband doesn't provide for her for more than 6 months for various reasons: "1992 amendments extend wife's access to divorce by addition of following grounds: husband's non-maintenance for up to six months for any reason..." (source.)

The law in Western countries used to acknowledge the husband as the head of the family just like it does now in Islamic countries, and the same law compelled the husband to provide not only for his wife, but also in some cases for his widowed female relatives. Jane Austen's married brothers had to provide for her and her spinster sister, in addition to caring for their own wives (that's probably where the pressure for women to marry came from, as the male family members didn't fancy being stuck with them till death do us part, in addition to providing for their own wives and children).

In the times when the Western man was the Lord of Creation he had to pay, pay and pay. As an elderly preacher who came once to preach in our church put it: "we didn't see our children. When we came home from work, they were in bed. We didn't retire, we died at work and I'm not sure whether that system was better than the one we are having now."

In addition to this, a man often was not able to marry until he could persuade the prospective bride's family that he was financially stable. Why do you think all those elopements happened otherwise? For instance, in the Netherlands even in the year 1960 neither the man nor the woman were able to marry without their parents' permission until the age of 30 (!). To quote the book on the etiquette which I have :"..the young man visits the father of the girl...and gives the account of his financial and social position and the future prospects." (translation mine).

Simply put, whatever the individual situation in every particular family, in general men being in charge also means men taking responsibility, including financially. You simply can't have it both ways. Men who expect full marital obedience from their wives and then tell them to go out and provide the income simply have no grounds to stand on. Whatever temporary difficulties any particular family should encounter, which may sometimes demand that the wife helps out financially, it's not an ideal and it never was. As a Dutch proverb puts it, the one who pays, decides.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Is Good Character Beyond Your Reach?"

This is the question Mrs Andelin asks in Chapter 16 of "Fascinating Womanhood" after she enumerates the basic qualities which constitite a worthy character. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by our duties. It seems like you are doing everything right and yet nobody seems to care and estimate it, not even your immediate family. The work of wife and mother is of such nature that it's often only noticed when she hasn't done it for today.

You may try hard to develop such qualities as unselfishness and honesty, yet you see all around you that people cheat, commit fraud, care only about themselves and seem to be rather successful, while you are taken for granted by everybody, including your own children.

It's difficult sometimes not to get discouraged, and instead of asking yourself whether you can acquire fine character, you think along the lines of: is it even necessary nowadays? 

Helen Andelin suggests in her book that good character is essential if you want to win your husband's love, but I think it goes much further than this, since as an old saying puts it, Virtue is its own reward. Simply put, we should do what is right, simply because it is right. To paraphrase the Bible, the one who knows what is good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin.

Doing what is wrong, or sinning in Christian terminology can literally destroy you. Mrs Andelin mentions it  when she writes about the consequences of sexual sin while discussing the virtue of chastity: "We live under spiritual laws which emanate from God. When we commit an immoral act, we come into conflict with spiritual laws, resulting in a feeling of guilt and emotional distress. Again I quote Dr. Max Levine...'There cannot be emotional health in the absense of high moral standards.' "(p.221, F.W., Bantam Books 1992.)

I'd like to draw your attention to this article  which suggests that immoral behaviour, such as habitual dishonesty, can and will negatively influence your brain and create a patology in the way it works. The same topic was discussed at length at the Orthosphere, however our main motivation in developing good character should be not self-preservation but pleasing God.

Helen Andelin points out that we should not be discouraged by the thought that fine character is unattainable, but rather make "a diligent effort" and pray for the Divine guidance. As she puts it: "The goal is too high and the forces of evil too strong to gain success without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You can become a good pianist, tennis player, or public speaker by persistence alone but the perfection of character is not within the reach without the promptings of the Holy Spirit." (p.224, idem).

Mrs Andelin reminds us that our character is not fixed or unchangeable, and in times of trial or crisis we may discover that we possess the qualities which we never suspected we had.

I'd like to end this post with  the list of the traits which constitute  good character, according to "Fascinating Womanhood":

1. Self-control
2. Unselfishness
3. Charity
4. Humility
5. Responsibility
6. Diligence
7. Patience
8. Moral Courage
9. Honesty
10. Chastity

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sinning Against The Second Commandment

Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth...(Deut.5:8)

OK, may be sinning is not exactly the word I should use, considering that I'm not trying to substitute a Sunday sermon with my blog posts, but our recent discussion prompted me to write this.

When we read the 2nd Commandment we probably get a mental image of a barbarian-looking guy bowing in front of  a crudely made idol and then we congratule ourselves that we have progressed past this point, but of course, the commandment has also a deeper meaning.

You have probably read your share of articles on the net which tell you that an idol is anything that separates us from God. Some Christians are constantly busy disputing what could be properly called an idol. Some say that if you are too much concentrating on your desire to marry and get frustrated because you are unable to find a husband/wife, than you have made marriage your idol. Conservatives have been accused of making traditional family their idol and so on and so forth, but that's not what I'm going to talk about today. 

You see, I'm not convinced that a desire to marry, or to restore the traditional family could be called an idol. Idol is someone or something that we worship. People used to be obsessed about movie stars, just watch some I Love Lucy episodes and you'll see how far it went. Nowadays we have internet and on the net there are blogs and people who will give you advice on all aspects of your life, including homemaking and herein lies the danger.

Unfortunately we all seem to have a tendency to idolise people to some degree and it's very easy when dealing with blog personalities since we don't meet those people in real life and can't observe their drawbacks and negative qualities. Of course, an obnoxious person will have diificulty concealing it in his writing and so on, but you do get my point.

I guess we all have come across the homemaking blogs whose owners have it all together and when we start comparing ourselves to them, we feel that we fall short of the ideal. It often leads to frustration because we are trying to recreate the lifestyle of someone else in our own household, under totally different circumstances.

Reading homemaking blogs can be great fun and it's a good way to connect with other like-minded ladies and share some useful information. I believe that as housewives we should all support one another, but as one commenter pointed out in the previous discussion, sometimes we spend entirely too much time reading about how other ladies run their houses, and in the meantime nothing gets done in our own.

Housewives nowadays often feel as if they have to prove to the whole world that what they are doing is worthwhile and as a result of this hardly allow themselves some time to rest and relax. As a woman at home, you are made to feel guilty if you so much as sit half an hour in the garden with a book while children are at school. No, you should be up and going from early morning till late in the evening, and then you go on the net and read about some great lady who homeschools 10 children, cooks delicious meals and has a profitable home business and start feeling yourself like a total loser.

Also a married woman has her husband as the head of the family. If he is satisfied with how things are in their home, why should she feel inferior to some lady on the net? My rule is, when in doubt, ask your husband. Most husbands are sympathetic and don't expect their wives to be the models of perfection as long as the house is reasonably clean, the children are taken care of and the meals are on time. All the rest is just icing on the cake.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cat vs Dog Intelligence

For all those who love their pets:)

How intelligent is your average cat? They certainly can understand a lot of things. They know when you are angry. When they sleep, they see dreams. When we start packing for vacation, our cat always understands what's going on and becomes very restless. He also has some very strange antics, comparable to those of little children. I could swear that sometimes he is naughty just for the sake of it. When he is sleeping and you walk into the room where he is lying and look at him, he will cover his eyes with one paw and then glance at you and close his eyes again and expect that you will scratch behind his ears.

Intrigued, I turned to Wikipedia and that's what I found: omitting all the scientific information about the brain size and structure of an average house cat, we can roughly compare its intelligence to that of a two-year old. That was approximately my idea, after years of observation. Cats also appear to have a good memory, and can remember things for as long as 10 years.

Now with dogs, the situation is more complicated since there exist so many breeds of them. There is a book written by a Canadian professor where he ranks the intelligence of 131 different dog breeds. According to it, three most intelligent dogs are Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd while Afghan Hound is at the bottom of the list.

I recall reading an article about a Border Collie who learned more than a thousand words. Wikipedia mentions it, too, in the article on Border Collies. By comparison, a three-year old child is supposed to learn about 900-1.000 words, a child of 4 will have about 1.500-word vocabulary.

I think we can safely draw the conclusion that the most intelligent dogs are more intelligent that cats, while the least intelligent breeds are probably more stupid than an average cat. All this makes me want to get a dog. If only my husband would agree...:)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vintage Housekeping Manuals

Commenter Miriam was kind enough to share the link to a vintage housekeeping manual called "The American Frugal Housewife" (for those of us who are not ashamed of economy!:). Be sure and check it when you have time!

What I noticed about vintage homemaking books is that those from the 19th century will usually give you general information on cooking, cleaning, saving money, managing the servants etc, while the manuals published in the mid-20th century usually attempted to give you a comprehensive plan on how to run your household.

For instance, the one I own from the 1960s has a long tedious chapter which describes in great detail how you are supposed to clean every room of the house. It also suggests that you write a daily plan somewhere along these lines:

7.00 a.m wake up and get dressed
7.15 morning excerices.
7.30-7.45 making breakfast.
8.00-8.30 washing the dishes.
10.15 drinking a cup of coffee (only one!) etc etc

If you follow this link , it will take you to a discussion board where you can read an extract from a 1947 housekeeping manual which suggests quite a rigorous cleaning schedule for every day of the week. Schedules always possess some sort of a charm for a beginner housewife, but I learned to avoid them like plague. I cringe when I read one. In fact, I start understanding why those 1950s and 1960s housewives rebelled and started burning their bras:)

Seriously though, a schedule can be helpful. I do have a housekeeping plan of sorts which I follow rather loosely; however, I am firmly convinced that the plans like the one above take all the joy out of housekeeping. After all, I'm running a home, not a factory. What if I have no desire for coffee at 10.15, but rather at 10.30? What if a friend phones me at an hour when my schedule calls for something else?

In my opinion, those mid-20th century manuals were written by the enemies of housewives who wanted to make housekeeping so unbearable that all the women at home would join the feminists!:) Well, what do you all think? Do you find schedules and plans helpful or frustrating? Feel free to express your opinion in the comments section!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fearing The Future

There are many arguments put forth for a married woman and mother to work outside home. One of the most persistent objections to full time homemaking is the one which claims that you should work at least part-time to prepare yourself for the situation when your husband dies suddenly or divorces you. The idea is that working part-time insures the woman against financial uncertainty in the future, while on the other hand allowing her to properly fulfill her domestic duties.

I personally believe that the argument doesn't hold water, and I'll try to explain why. First, let's consider the situation from a purely pragmatic point of view. Most part-time jobs don't pay well and offer no job security. In the family where the wife works part-time, her husband will still be the primary breadwinner, which means that if his income is suddenly lost by whatever reason, the family will be in trouble.

Second, what do we understand under working part-time? 30 hours a week is still officially considered part-time, and this type of job could pay really well, but any woman who is away from home for that amount of time, will necessarily neglect her domestic duties. At this point, she could just as well start working full-time.

If, on the other hand, she is employed for 10 hours a week, her contribution to the family income will likely be very small, and her salary will by no means guarantee her financial independence, should anything happen to her husband. It will also interfere with her domestic duties, though to the lesser degree. In many cases, the wife could probably contribute more to the family budget just by strict economy and wise money management.

It's logical that in the situation when the wife is left without means, either through her husband's death or divorce, she'll probably have to find some paid employment, but does it really make sense to keep on working now to prepare yourself for something which may or may not happen in future? It would probably be a better idea to start an emergency fund.

You see, having a job now is no guarantee for having it in the future. I heard about a lady who was married and also worked full time as a shop assistant. She decided she didn't need her boring old husband any more and ditched him. Next month she was fired from her job. So now she has no job and no husband and lives on public assistance.

A neighbour lady lost her job years ago and still can't find anything. Luckily for her, she is married and her husband works, so that he can provide for her. European economy is not doing fine at the moment, and there is little by way of job security, in whatever branch. You may think that you insured yourself against the future problems by getting this part-time job, but is it really so?

The truth is, in this life there are no guarantees of anything. There is no guarantee that when one gets out of his house he won't be hit by a car and die. There is no point in going against your convictions just in case something bad happens to you in the future. For a Christian, this is a matter of faith. It's whether we believe what the Bible says about the male - female roles, or not. If you don't believe it, there is probably little which could be said to convince you otherwise, but if you do, then you should do what is right, regardless of the consequences.

This said, I'd like to point out that it's only reasonable to take some measures to ensure that if your husband dies, you are not left completely destitute. There are things like insurances. In a sane society, the widow would have right to a pension, and would not be forced out of the house and into the work world. Churches nowadays are obsessed with the Third World countries, but often offer little or no financial help to a woman who finds herself in a difficult sitution. Also, I firmly believe that the family should help their own. After all, charity begins at home, as they say.

If you have daughters, even though you believe that they should become housewives, it helps when they are taught some skills which ensure that they can make their own living, if necessary. You never know when they may need it. If emergency arises, it's good if the woman is not totally helpless.

To sum it up, while it is reasonable to prepare yourself for the future, we should not be paranoid about it. Women stayed home in much worse times than these. The arguments against being a full-time housewife could also be used against having children, and yet there are women who get pregnant in the refugee camps. If our ancestors had thought as we do, the mankind would have probably died out long ago. Pa Ingalls used to say that nothing was sure but death and taxes, and yet they went on and got 4 children in the wilderness, and I don't recall Ma Ingalls having a job outside home, either.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interior Decoration And Crafts Magazines: August 2013

As usual, I brought home some nice magazines from our vacation:

Rezepte Pur, Laura Wohnen and Wohnen & Garten.

Rezepte Pur has some really good recipes this time, I tried several of them and all came out fine. Laura Wohnen besides discussing new trends in interior decoration and home makeover articles, had also a story about a Dutch family with three children and the house they built, and several interesting crafts projects, some of which use cyanotype, a process discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 (who said that magazines for housewives can't be intellectual ???). Funny enough, though it was a man who made this discovery, a Wiki article on cyanotype informs us that he was not at all important, since after Sir John already discovered the process, some lady photographer used it in her work, so that we really should  give credit to her and not him.

Wohnen & Garten had an article about a lady who took up gardening as a hobby and through many trials and errors created her own style (gardening is something more women used to do when their kids got older, instead of rushing back to work as it usually happens now); and also one about an aristocratic German family  and the way they decorated their new house. This one gave me a Hyacinth moment (the one from Keeping Up Appearances, that is). The German aristocrats and I are reading the same magazines!!!:)
The photography was great, as usual, there were some nice recipes and an article about Claude Monet.

Since I finished my last craft project a week ago, I decided it was time to start another one, and bought some wool today. This is the new tunic I'm going to knit:

The pattern is from a 2010 Verena magazine. I also decided to knit something for my dear husband, so that he doesn't feel himself left out, and found this great sweater (also pay attention to the autumn trends, long skirts still seem to be in, which is good since I recently bought one, much to the displeasure of my husband, who really dislikes what he calls "garments" (usually any skirt or dress that goes far below the knee):

He'll have to wait first, though, as I'm afraid knitting the tunic will take me a long time. We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Finished Project

I finally finished it last week but couldn't get my husband to take a picture. Today I bumped into a neighbour lady and she told me it really looked great and when she heard that I had made it myself she found my skill with the needle most impressive:)

Seriously though, I had a lot of problems with this skirt. I used a pattern from Simplicity Naaimode and I chose size 38, which proved to be too small! Now the strange thing is that with the previous skirt I made using their pattern, I chose size 40 and it was too big, so that I had to rip all the seams and cut it to a smaller size!

This time I cut the top of the skirt off and sewed some stretchy fabric of the same colour instead, and put elastic inside. You can see it in the picture. I came to the conclusion that next time I happen to want to sew something, I'll stick with Burda!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Laudate Dominum

Well, thanks to everybody who prayed for us, I'm glad to tell you that the second operation was successful and my relative is feeling much better. I have been planning to write a post about some magazines I bought and about my new craft project, but couldn't get my husband to take pictures, so please bear with me...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Short Personal Note

(and some interesting articles).

A relative of mine is currently in hospital, recovering from surgery. Your prayers are appreciated. I'm afraid I'm not capable of writing anything coherent at the moment, so I'll just refer you to some interesting articles and discussions instead.

Bruce Charlton in his post on immodest dress discusses warm weather immodesty and the hideous practice of extreme tattooing.

The blog called "Secular Patriarchy" has an article which deals with the reasons of the decline of marriage in the West. The author did a great job collecting statistical data on the labour force participation of married women in the USA, starting with the 1890s, which, by the way, utterly refutes the idiotic argument put forth by the feminists and some men's rights'activists that nearly all married women used to work until the 1950s when they were all suddenly locked at home by their husbands. The truth is, the labour force participation of married women grew throughout the XXth century, from 2.2% in the 1890 to nearly 30% in the 1960.

I'd also like to draw your attention to this discussion on vaccination. By some reason, this topic seems to be extremely controversial, and the anti-vaccine people are more often than not treated as heretics. Zippy Catholic provides a rather balanced view on the whole vaccine issue.

The Thinking Housewife, as usual, had some great posts. I'd  especially like to recommend this one where a young woman asks advice about living traditional life.

UPDATE: My relative's condition has worsened so that she will need another operation. Please keep us in your prayers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Berry Streusel Cake

It's time for another recipe! Well, originally it was Plum Streusel Kuchen, but  I went to the market yesterday and then to a supermarket and to my dismay found out that plums cost about 3.00 euros for a half kilo! There was no way I was going to pay this price, but I still wanted to bake something sweet and tasty and started thinking of substitutes. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so I thought, "why not using mixed frozen berries instead?" And thus, dear reader, The Berry Streusel Cake was born.

The recipe is very easy and doesn't call for expensive ingredients (well, outside of berries, of course). You will need:

2c flour
1/4 c sugar
2tsp baking powder
2tbsp cold butter (could probably be substituted with margarine)
1 egg
1c whipping cream
1pkg of frozen mixed berries (mine was about 200g)

Combine the first three ingredients, cut in butter until crumbly. Beat the egg and cream together, add to the crumb mixture, toss with a fork to form soft dough. Press the dough into the greased baking dish (13in. x 9in. x 2in.), sprinkle with berries.

Now it's time to make the streusel/topping. For the topping you will need:

2/3c flour
2/3c sugar
2tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp whipping cream

Combine flour and sugar, cut in butter, add the cream and mix until moist crumbs form. Sprinkle over the crust and bake at 350*F (ab. 175*C) for 35 till 40 minutes or until lightly browned. It makes for a delicious dessert!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Health Benefits Of Alcohol

Well, we all know that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to addiction and countless health problems, but are there health benefits to drinking as well? Some time ago I read a blog post which seemed to suggest it and so I decided to research the topic for myself. This is what I found:

It seems that nearly everyone agrees there are at least some health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (heavy drinking is never good for anyone), mainly in preventing heart disease, while, on the other hand, the experts suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to incresed risk of some cancers. The article above mentions breast cancer and colorectal cancer, but Medical News Today  site only mentioned breast cancer-alcohol link. On the positive side, they wrote that moderate alcohol consumption reduced the risk of diabetes type II, stroke and dementia (and, according to this site, gallstones).

Do alcohol benefits outweigh the risks? I found this article which suggests that those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have better health, increased longevity, are less likely to suffer from heart diseases, have a better chance to survive a heart attack, have reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, dementia, arthritis, enlarged prostate, osteoporosis, gallbladder disease , some cancers and even common colds.

According to the article, exercising can't substitute health benefits of moderate drinking:  "Researchers at the National Institute of Public Health in Denmark studied about 12,000 men and women over a period of 20 years. The investigators found:
  • The lowest risk of fatal heart disease occurred among those who both drank moderately and exercised. They had a 50% reduced risk compared to non-drinkers who didn't exercise. (Moderate drinking was defined as consuming an average of up to two drinks per day for both men and women. This is twice as high as the US federal recommendation for women.)
  • A higher risk was found among (a) those who abstained from alcohol but exercised and (b) those who drank in moderation but didn't exercise. In both cases the risk of heart disease dropped about 30% compared to abstaining non-exercisers.
  • The highest risk was found among those who neither drank nor exercised. Their risk of dying from heart disease was twice as high as those who drank moderately and exercised."
I must admit I was intrigued and turned to Wikipedia. Since only one source mentioned that moderate drinking can increase the risc of colorectal cancer (heave drinking does, as is widely known), I thought I'd try to learn more about the connection of alcohol consumption to breast cancer. Wiki starts with talking about the connection as a pretty much established fact, but in the end it mentions a Danish study according to which "moderate drinking had virtually no effect on breast cancer risk".

According to another study which is still being conducted, there is no connection between moderate drinking and increased breast cancer risk. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is associated with increased breast cancer risk, as the Danish study also demonstrated (heavy drinking defined as consuming more than 27 alcoholic drinks per week.)

This article goes into great detail describing various types of breast cancer, the effects of alcohol consumption and gives some dietary advice. It also describes what is a standard alcoholic drink.

So who are we to believe in the end? One thing is clear, heavy drinking is never good for anyone. As for moderate drinking, it appears to have at least some health benefits, so there is definitely something to be said in defence of the cocktail hour. It's not clear whether the risks of moderate comsumption are significant (experts seem to disagree), so it's up to you to decide whether they outweigh the benefits or vice versa. If you don't drink at all, you probably shouldn't start, but there seems to be no reason to avoid alcohol altogether.

However, it's nice to know that a glass of sherry before dinner is not only good for digestion, but may help one to reach 100!:)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vacation Fashions Report And Some Links

Dresses are very much in fashion this summer, including very long dresses. Shops in Germany were full of them, in fact, it was easier to find a nice dress than a skirt. In the village where we stayed for the most part, it looked like every woman, young and old, wore a dress.

Among the young, long dresses seemed to be a special hit. In Ascona I've seen young girls wear dresses so long that they basically trailed behind them on the ground. Ascona is a very nice place, but I didn't dare to enter a clothes store over there, not after I saw a dress for 1.500 franks:)

In Milan it was easy to distinguish the tourists coming from the various neighbourhood campings, by their shorts and t-shirts, while the local population tended to be rather well-dressed, both men and women. There were also fewer overweight people of both sexes, so they must be doing something right. Italian women are very feminine, and my husband noticed it, too:) They are elegant and stylish, and seem to be proud of being women, instead of resenting it.

Older women seemed more dignified than their Northern sisters, too, at least they were not competing with their husbands for the shortest haircut, and tended to adorn themselves with longer skirts  instead of shorts (hint: shorts were generally not meant to be worn by a lady of 65+ ; grandmas would do good to leave them for their grandaughters to wear)

Speaking about long hair, don't miss this article from Daily Mail, where the hairdresser to the Queen of England, no less, encourages older women to keep their hair long: "...the Queen’s hairdresser is adamant that most women in their mid-40s and beyond are making a big mistake by having their hair cut short in a bid to turn back the clock."

I'd also like to draw your attention to this post by Lady Lydia (in case you missed it) on homemaking for single women.

Heart For Homemaking blog has an article titled Ladylike Ways To Radical Health which has some interesting suggestions on keeping fit and losing extra weight.

Laura Thinking Housewife has  an interesting post about endurance.

Well, that was about all for today, have a nice Sunday!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


My computer crashed yesterday so that I couldn't update, though I'm probably boring everyone to death with my photos anyway...But bear with me, those will be the last ones I'm planning to post:)

So here comes:


                                                            The  Palace of Medici

                                                               The Cathedral

                                                                 The Shopping Mall

                                                          The Statue Of Garibaldi   

                                                               Lago Maggiore


Well, that was about it! See you later...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vacation Pictures. Switzerland

                                                          Gottard Pass

                                                          Devil's Bridge



Tomorrow I'll post our Italian pictures.