Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The Three Ducks have been cohabitating with me for about twelve years. I bought them when I moved to Portland. I needed friends and so did they. Always in the bathroom either on the sink, toilet tank top or window sill, I recently corralled them into a big shell I found at the beach. Now that I bathe regularly, I thought it might be fun to invite them along for a swim one of those nights.
In the meantime, I went online to see if there was anything about the birth of these delightful little creatures. There really isn't anything too interesting other than records showing that the first patent was issued in 1886 which was also around the time the first rubber factories were opened. And then of course, there was the infamous debut of Ernie's rendition of Rubber Duckie on Sesame Street in the 1970s - a child's Oprah back in the day.
I kept nosing around but never really found anything worth noting until I ran across mention of a book called Slow Death by Rubber Duck, The Secret Danger From Everyday Things by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. The book is about how Smith and Lourie exposed themselves to chemicals found in everyday products - shampoo, shaving foam, household cleaners, etc. They monitored their blood and urine levels before and after a few days of interacting with specific products. The only rule was that they could only use products the way the products are used in everyday life - no doing the mice thing.
So - what did they find out about The Three Ducks?
"Perversely, it turns out these days that rubber ducks are not made out of rubber. Virtually every rubber duck you can buy is made out of vinyl, and vinyl in its natural state is hard as a rock. So, if you want to make vinyl soft and rubbery, you have to add various synthetic chemicals to it including a chemical called phthalates that mimic hormones," said Smith.
He added, "When it gets into our bodies it acts like estrogen... So, what happens is if your kids are like mine--my youngest son will chew on anything that he has in his bath-- and so you have a little rubber duck floating in the bath. The child starts chewing on the duck. The chemicals release into the child's mouth, and then is absorbed into the body."
The Three Ducks • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12"x 12" • $200
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I wasn't in the habit of taking a bath until my doc suggested two cups of Epsom Salt in a hot water bath for no less than 15 minutes for muscle ache. It works great! This prompted me to go on a factoid-finding mission about bathing in general. Could it be that bathing is not just a hedonistic pleasure - that there is a good reason to take a bath? This is what I found out:
A diabetic can reduce blood sugar levels around 13 percent by taking a half hour soak in hot water. On the converse, a cold bath can raise blood sugar levels.
A 10 minute soak in hot water can improve heart health, especially for men.
A hot water bath (32 to 35 degrees Celsius), for at least 15 minutes opens pores that can help remove toxins. A hot bath also helps lower blood sugar level, heals muscle aches and helps maintain the function of the large intestine.
A cold bath (12 to 18 degrees Celsius), is great for reducing tension or stress. It narrows blood vessel and increases sugar level in blood.
Rashes and hives can be treated by adding adding baking soda to bath water. It acts as an antiseptic.
Soaking feet in hot water helps in healing flu, headache and refresh back exhausted feet. Put enough hot water in a container until it sinks down the ankle then add into it a few drops of oil such as lavender, peppermint or lemon. After that, wash your feet with cold water.
Soaking feet in cold water is great for you who have insomnia problem or problem to sleep. Put your feet into the cold water until they feel cold. This technique is also said useful for sore feet.
So there you have it. If just wanting to take a bath once in a while is not a good enough excuse for you, you can now play the health card. OMG - what have we come to!
A Good Bath • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My childhood friend Morgan is visiting from Sacramento, CA. She had a choice of going to her house on the Baja in Mexico or coming to Maine for her week off. I really wanted to encourgage her to go to the Baja, but didn't want her to feel like I didn't want her to come here. So I tried to make Maine sound as good as I could this time of year.
As it turns out, and it's the way it always goes when two good friends get together after a long time, we've been having a blast. After a few days doing the cultural thing in Portland, we traveled inland for a day and night in Kingfield to show her the two sides of Maine. We got shanghied in Kingfield for an extra night - ice storm, but as it turned out - we had a delightfully mellow indoor day talking, reading and watching a few videos. Who gets to do that these days!
Today however, I will try to describe summer in Maine as we cruise along the coast. She might get the idea looking through the windows of the car. There will be a rude awakening when she steps outside, but during this time of year in Maine, the 40s are going to feel like spring.
Sailing Along the Coast • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I received four Meyer lemons from my friend Bobbi. Her son lives in California and happens to have a Meyer lemon tree in his back yard. He shipped her a box. When she asked whether or not I wanted some, I said yes. I never refuse food of any kind. Later, and in all honesty, I couldn't fathom why someone would go through all the trouble of shipping lemons across the country if you could get a perfectly fine lemon right here in Maine. It piqued my curiosity so I went on the web to find out what this particular lemon was all about.
In the early 1900s, the USDA sent Frank Meyer, an "agricultural explorer," on many trips to Asia to collect new plant species. He brought back to the US over 2500 new species of plants, one of which was a dark yellow lemon that was a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The lemon was used as a decorative houseplant in China for a century before someone decided to bite into one. It has a baby bottom smooth deep yellow skin with a thin edible rind, lots of juice with absolutely none of the tartness of a regular lemon.
The Meyer lemon thrived in the citrus belts in this country, but because of it's thin, delicate skin and high juice content, was too fragile to become a commercially successful product. It was only sold in the citrus belts exclusively unless of course you were fortunate enough to have a son who happened to live in one of those belts and shipped a box to you in Maine!
Most of the Meyer lemon trees in California were destroyed by a virus in the 1960s however, and because it had the potential to spread to other citrus trees, they were all destroyed with the exception of one stock which was was declared free, and subsequently cleared of disease. It was called the "Improved Meyer Lemon" tree.
Today the Meyer lemon season begins in November and extends into March - sometimes April. If you happen to come across one of these delightful fruits while perusing your favorite grocery store, pick one up. You will never go back!
Meyer Lemons • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200