Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkin carving at my house. Someone can't wait until Christmas. : )

And neither can my Christmas cactus! Last year it bloomed from Thanksgiving 'til Easter. This year, it's starting at Hallowe'en.

We went apple picking at the beginning of the month, and I've been making pies and cakes and all manner of apple goodies. One day we couldn't decide whether we wanted apple pie or apple crisp, so I made a pie with an apple crisp topping. It was scrumptious.

Handsome Presley. He is a kind, playful, extremely affectionate dog. If you need something to brighten your day, try watching this video of a mama boxer taking care of her pups. Boxers are wonderful dogs and excellent mothers.

Amy has to be to work pretty early in the morning, and since I drive her, I get to see lots of beautiful sunrises.

Wishing everyone a Happy Hallowe'en!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It has been cold the last few mornings, and woodsmoke has scented the air. Today's high temperature is only 48°. I like it cold. I can go out into the woods and walk and walk and walk among the deep autumn shadows, my boots swishing through the leaf-fall.

Last week the foliage was at its vibrant peak. Then the wind came and, whoosh!, all the leaves came down. The woods are barer now, but no less beautiful.

It is widely accepted that  'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', but I believe that beauty is the reflection of Truth. As Fyodor Dostoevsky famously put it, "Beauty will save the world!".

Fr. Timothy S. Reid explains how this happens one soul at a time:
"Beauty reveals or is a reflection of goodness, perfection, clarity, and simplicity. It is objectively attractive by its very nature. Beauty draws us out of ourselves toward something other. Most importantly, beauty is not something we consume, but it is something that must be contemplated in order to be enjoyed. In other words, we must receive it and allow it to shape us...Beauty is our portal to the interior life of our soul."
The other day I started reading the book, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, by Helen Russell. It's a fun, light read, thanks to Russell's companionable voice and British wit.

I looked up the United Nation's Happiness Report and noticed that the happiest countries have a few things in common: they are small (less than 10 million people), prosperous nations, with a fairly homogeneous population. It makes sense that people are happier when they feel kinship with, and support from, their communities (trust), and when there is a narrow gap between the richest and poorest incomes. Diversity appears to be an impediment to happiness. The most culturally diverse countries in the world rank the lowest in happiness (e.g. Tanzania).

Did you know that 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD? By high school approximately 20% of all boys in the U.S. will have been diagnosed with ADHD --a 37% increase since 2003 (from "The Drugging of the American Boy", by Ryan D'Agostino). Think about that for a minute: 6.4 million is more than the entire populations of most of the happiest countries in the world!

The standard treatment for ADHD is stimulant drugs that are classified as "Schedule II", which are defined as "having a high potential for abuse" and  "with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence."  Besides the drugs used to treat ADHD, other drugs that belong to this class are: cocaine, methamphetamine, Demerol, and OxyContin. These drugs are serious, addictive, and can come with some potent side effects. Scary stuff. Stimulants are basically a performance enhancing drug for the mind. They work in helping kids whose immature brains1 (or disordered brains) can't attend to the tedium of academic tasks. These drugs do work; but does that mean we should use them? What do you think?

This article from PBS Frontline lays out both sides of the argument:  Does ADHD exsit?

ADHD is considered a neuro-biological disorder.  But there is no lab test to determine if a patient has it. There is a questionnaire. There are academic and cognitive evaluations. If your child is more than a grade level behind his age mates, expect a diagnosis of ADHD and a treatment plan that consists of a prescription for a Schedule II stimulant and possibly special education.

Throughout history there has always been  "no room at the inn" for anyone who doesn't fit neatly into society's standards and norms (witch hunts, asylums, The Final Solution, etc.). We think that by eliminating differences, we will all be happier. And, maybe we will. But, we will also miss the opportunity to see beauty in the other and realize the life of our own souls.

1 More than a third of children diagnosed with ADHD "outgrow" their symptoms.