Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Flying Officer by Sally Cronin

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The first time Patrick Walsh saw her, was as he wended his way slowly down the hill between the slow moving trucks on his motorbike. The road was lined with women and old men who were handing out hastily cut sandwiches and mugs of tea to the men in the trucks, whose outstretched hands gratefully received these simple acts of kindness. It was clear from the their faces that they found the peaceful summer skies overhead, and clamour of women’s voices, a much needed reminder of home and safety.

He knew where they had come from, as for the last six days he had been flying over them as they had scrambled into small boats to be ferried out to the larger naval vessels waiting to take them to safety. He and his squadron were a part of the massive air defence operaton. Thousands of soldiers were pouring off the beaches having gathered over the last few days from the surrounding countryside; exposed and being attacked by superior German forces. On the last run today his spitfire had received a direct hit to the cockpit from a persistent Messerschmitt Me 109; luckily missing his head by inches apart from a cut over his eye, earning him a few hours respite. His plane would be ready to fly first thing in the morning. The ground crews at all fighter squadrons were working around the clock to get pilots back in the air until the evacuation from the French coast was complete.

As he carefully maneuvered between the trucks he responded to the shouts from the men above him with a small wave. He knew that their good natured jibes were aimed at his uniform and the wings that it displayed, and that their friendly ribbing was their way of showing gratitude. He decided that it would be easier to wait until the convoy had passed to continue into the village square. He dismounted, standing by the hedge to watch the villagers as they persisted in their need to comfort these dispirited men with tea and offerings of food.

She stood out from the crowd of women. Tall with long red hair tied back with an emerald green ribbon, she was dressed in overalls and wore heavy boots. She had a natural elegance as she darted between an older woman, holding a tea tray piled with jam sandwiches, and the trucks. Despite the men’s exhaustion, eager hands grasped the food, winking and flirting with the prettiest thing they had seen for a long while.

Patrick leaned back against the saddle of his bike and let himself enjoy this brief moment of humanity that was so rare today. He had been flying since the first weeks of the war and his squadron had suffered huge losses; particularly in the last few weeks as they had provided air cover for the retreating British forces. They had been warned that far worse was to come as the enemy amassed both fighters and bombers for an all-out offensive on the country. Having already lost many friends, Patrick knew that it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic.

Some of his fellow pilots and aircrew decided that they would live as hard as they fought. There were plenty of pretty girls around the station that were delighted to dance the night away and bring some laughter and sometimes love into the young men’s lives. He had seen the results of these whirlwind romances at the Saturday night dance in the village hall. As the airmen arrived in an ever changing group of young men, expectant faces would be watching the door and it was not unusual to see a girl being led away in tears by her friends.

Patrick loved to dance but gently refused the invitations to take to the floor and over the last few months he had become regarded as something of a misery. His friends gave up on their attempts to persuade him that he should live for the moment, and with a wry smile he listened to the chat up lines that were guaranteed to pull the heartstrings of a pretty girl.

But now as he watched the red head flying back and forth and smiling up at the men in the trucks, he felt an overwhelming urge to hold her in his arms and waltz around a dance floor. He shook his head and reminded himself that it would only lead to heartbreak for her, and he couldn’t bear the thought of those beautiful green eyes filling with tears.

An hour later the last truck in the convoy disappeared through the village square and out of sight. There would be more coming through from the coast, and Patrick watched as the crowd of villagers gathered up their cups and trays and disappeared back into their homes. They would prepare more from their meagre rations for the next wave of returning soldiers and be waiting for them by the roadside. He remained by the hedge until the red headed girl had linked arms with her mother and entered her house before riding down to the square.

‘Patrick, are you awake my friend?’ The voice of his Polish friend Jakub intruded into his daydream about dancing with his stunning red head.

‘Just about, do you want to go to the Black Swan for a beer? He sat up and rested his head in his hands and tried to bring his mind back to reality.

He looked around the Nissen hut that was their home, taking in the four empty cots that waited for the new arrivals. They would be mostly teenagers with only a few hours flying solo, and none of them in combat. He was only twenty-four, but he felt like an old man compared to the fresh faced and eager boys that would come through that door tomorrow.

It was now August and the skies were filled with formations of enemy bombers most nights. His plane was grounded again having the undercarriage repaired after a problem on his last landing. His mechanic said he had the ‘luck of the Irish’. Patrick was well aware that he was now one of only a handful of pilots remaining from the original group a year ago; he knew that his luck was bound to run out sooner or later. There was just one thing that he needed tonight, and that was the sight of Red, and she would be helping out her dad behind the bar at the Black Swan.

Two hours later he and Jakub sat quietly at a corner table with their glasses of beer. One beer was the limit as both of them would be back in the skies tomorrow; a cockpit was no place for lack of concentration. Jakub was married and expecting his first child and was happy to sit quietly in the warm and welcoming atmosphere thinking about his next leave in a week’s time. Patrick however spent his time watching Red as she served customers and laughed with the regulars. That laugh was in his head and was added to all the other pieces of her that he carried with him as he flew missions. The thought of those green eyes helped dispel the voice of the other constant companion that was by his side each time he buckled himself into the cockpit. Her presence in his heart and mind had helped him control his fear; bringing the realisation that he was in love for the first time in his life.

Over the weeks since that first day on the hill, there had been moments in the pub, when he would catch her eye and they would both smile then look away. By sitting at the bar when he popped in alone, he had gathered more information about her. She wasn’t called Red of course, but Georgina and Georgie to her friends. She didn’t seem to have a boyfriend amongst the regulars who frequented the pub, and one day he overheard that she had been engaged to a soldier who had been killed within weeks of the war starting.

He would watch as she gently refused all attempts by eager young warriors to take her on a date, realising that her heart had already been broken. This reinforced his resolve not to give in to the growing need to tell Georgie of his feelings; convinced it would only bring her further sorrow.

Through the rest of the summer months missions intensified, with both daylight and night bombing raids on the docks and major cities; almost bringing the country to its knees. In the October the tide began to turn, but not without the loss of thousands of fighter pilots and bomber air crews. It was then that Patrick’s luck ran out as he limped home with a badly damaged plane and shrapnel injuries in his chest and arm.

Patrick fought to stay conscious as the plane shuddered and bucked as he flew using his one good hand. Blood from a head wound almost blinded him, but as he saw the runway rushing up to meet him, he managed to bring the nose around and head for the grass to the side. The last thing that he thought about as the world went black was Georgie’s face and laugh.

A month later Patrick got one of the pilots to drop him off at the Black Swan and he walked into the early evening quiet of the bar. He had just received his new orders on his return from the hospital. From Monday he would be moving into an intelligence role where his experience in combat could be put to use. He was making a good recovery, but the extensive injuries to his arm meant the end of his flying career; now he would be ensuring that he kept others safe in the skies. In one way he felt that he was abandoning those that he regarded as family in their close knit squadron, but he also knew that it offered him the opportunity to fulfil a dream that was equally important.

Georgie was polishing glasses and looked up to greet the new customer with her usual smile but instead she took a deep breath. As he moved closer Patrick could see that there were tears in her glorious green eyes. Georgie stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards him, glancing at his arm in its sling and the scar that was etched into his forehead. She stood in front of him and neither spoke for a moment until he reached out his good arm to take her hand.

‘Is there any chance that you might let me take you to the dance tomorrow night?’

She smiled through her tears. ‘How are you going to be able to dance with only one free arm?’

He pulled her into him and looked down at the lips that he had imagined kissing so many times in the last few months.

‘Don’t worry Red… I’ll manage just fine.’

 

©sallycronin 2017

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Rum Cocktails, Blog Sitters and all that Jazz


round-up

I have had a lovely week with a birthday and Valentine’s Day and I am now about to pack my bags to head off for a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate all our birthdays which all fall in February. I will report on the activities they have planned on my return… at least those I can talk about!

I got very excited when I read the headlines in the Daily Mail online yesterday that promised hotter temperatures than Spain with a high of 16 degrees and sunshine.. As I was planning what to pack, I thought I better check a more reliable source than the DM!  Sure enough, apart from a couple of days with a glimpse of yellow behind the clouds there is a 45 – 55% of rain all week and a high of 10 or 11.

I have put away my swimsuit, shorts and flip flops again in the attic with the other summer clothes that I fear may never see the light of day again.

However, all is not lost as David bought me a therapy lamp with safe tanning for my birthday. I have been using as advised and retire upstairs to the spare bedroom and don goggles, my iPod and pretend for 15 minutes that I am on a tropical island on a sandy beach. It was not quite there…. but David solved that by buying a bottle of rum, and a dram of that in my coconut water and Bob’s your uncle.. (please drink responsibly with only one cocktail per tanning session and only at sundown)

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I was going to put up a few regular posts during my absence just to keep things ticking over. I then thought that it seemed a shame not to use this as an opportunity to promote a few of my blogging friends and so posted a part-time blog sitter vacancy.

I know how busy everyone is with their own blog and projects so was very grateful to receive a wonderful response to the advert.  I have put together a programme of events for the week that I am away beginning Tuesday with posts from this group of talent writers.

Paul Andruss, Tina Frisco, Colin Chappell, Debby Gies, William Price King, Geoff Le Pard, Noelle Granger, Susan M. Toy, Mary Smith, Robbie Cheadle, John W. Howell and Linda Bethea.

The full programme details can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/smorgasbord-blog-sitting-special-21st-28th-february-programme-of-events/

Time for some of the posts you might have missed during the week.

William Price King – Leontyne Price

classical music

As always my thanks to William Price King for his weekly music post and this week we follow the career and performances of Leontyne Price during the 1960s. Look out for William’s Creative Artist Interview on Wednesday March 1st.  It is an interactive interview and I hope that you will drop in and ask William questions about his life and career in the comments.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/classical-music-with-william-price-king-leontyne-price-part-three-1960s/

Paul Andruss

Thomas the Rhymer

Although Paul has contributed articles for the blog over the last couple of months I was delighted when he accepted my invitation to be a regular contributor going forward.. This is his official first post as Writer in Residence.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/writer-in-residence-paul-andruss-or-the-horse-might-talk/

Personal Stuff

A short story for Valentine’s Day.. about love.. of course..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/smorgasbord-short-story-the-other-side-of-heaven-sally-cronin/

Weekly Image and Haiku

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/weekly-image-and-haiku-aniseed/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-barb-caffrey-angie-dokos-and-deanie-humphrys-dunne/

glimpsesCover Art by Jon Hunsinger51abcfiqqgl-_uy250_

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-hugh-w-roberts-charles-e-yallowitz-and-stevie-turner/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-both-sides-of-love-by-kimberly-wenzler/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-beast-within-mended-souls-book-2-by-jacquie-biggar/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-who-said-i-was-up-for-adoption-by-colin-chappell/

hinting-at-shadows_ebook-cover_sarah-brentyn-resizedhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-hinting-at-shadows-by-sarah-brentyn/

51dzsqrppnl-_uy250_https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-denny-ryder-paranormal-crime-series-by-deborah-a-bowman/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-keys-of-the-origin-book-1-the-scions-of-balance-aeldynn-lore-by-melissa-a-joy/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily showcasing 25 bloggers and their posts.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-13th-february-2017-love-haitian-healing-50-words-reviews/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-14th-february-2017-upcoming-release-daisies-love-poetry-free-books-frank-immersed-and-sir-chocolate/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-15th-february-2017-devil-story-ruby-wedding-1960s-kathmandu-rrbc/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-16th-february-2017-valiant-blogger-angels-wings-runners-stretches-the-classics-and-columbian-roses/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-leyton-hollywood-trysts-llandeilo-and-dna/

Health

Smorgasbord Health 2017Seasonal Affective Disorder

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-tryptophan-and-winter-blues/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-four-immune-system-and-people/

Food to pep you up a bit.. and not just for Valentines Day.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/st-valentines-day-food-aphrodisiacs-a-meal-and-red-roses-here-are-the-ingredients-the-rest-is-up-to-you/

New series – Top to Toe – The Human Body – The Brain

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-brain-introduction-and-anatomy/

A -Z of Common Conditions… nothing more common than the cold!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/smorgasbord-health-a-z-common-conditions-nothing-more-common-than-a-cold/

Humour

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/time-for-some-laffs-from-around-the-usual-haunts-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/afternoon-video-how-to-beg-for-forgiveness/

That’s me done for the week.. It is a bit early for a rum and coconut juice but I might take a cup of coffee up with me to the tropical paradise and listen to some calypsos!

N.B. If you would like to promote your books and blog here on Smorgasbord the details are here. If you contact me and I don’t respond immediately don’t worry I will get back to you on my return after 28th of Feb.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

Thanks for dropping by and see some of you tomorrow for a few of the regular promotions before I head off.

Smorgasbord Health – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Part Four Immune System and People


seasonal-affective-disorderOver the last three posts we have been on a journey from the cave and the struggles of ancient man to survive the harsh winter cold with minimum access to light, food, heat and stimulation. On that journey we have explored the causes of modern man’s struggle to adapt to the modern world of technology and 24/7 light, noise and stimulation of all the senses. The solutions are not perfect but the areas that we have covered are the starting point to changing the way we look at both our bodies and how we manage the seasonal changes most of us face.

A quick recap – we need healthy amounts of Vitamin D from sunshine and some foods and healthy cholesterol to produce all hormones in our body. Tryptophan and B-vitamin rich foods to produce essential hormones in the brain – melatonin and serotonin. We have to eat these foods regularly throughout the day.

Better to have 6 smaller meals of the right foods than starve all day and then have a big meal at night that cannot be digested and processed by the body. This regularity will also drip feed the essential nutrients into your body, keeping energy levels higher and the neurotransmitters in your brain firing on all cylinders. Avoid taking in high carbohydrate and sweet foods later at night. A cup of warm milk with a small teaspoon of honey before bed will help activate the melatonin to send you to sleep.

Sleep is essential and we all need around 8 hours per night to allow the body to recover and repair… and relax.

We need to exercise, with music to stimulate the production of dopamine and activate our reward centres in the brain and we need the support, companionship and warmth of our clan – that is to say our family and close friends.

I appreciate that for those working full-time it is difficult to establish a regular exercise pattern but if you really want to feel alive and vital through these next few months (Australians and South Africans are of course are exempt as they move into summer) then you are going to have to find ways to get outside during the daylight hours and get some exercise. So lunchtimes will have to be – 30 minutes brisk walk and then back for a protein, vegetable or salad, moderate carbohydrate lunch.

We need to avoid the colds and flu that are rift in the winter months, usually because everyone’s immune systems are suppressed because of the lack of Vitamin D from sunshine. I mentioned in an earlier post that I in fact do take a supplement of Vit D and Cod Liver Oil in the winter months and touch wood I have not had a cold for the last ten years. Buy high quality vitamins and I take 1000 iu per day and you can check in your health food shop or pharmacy for their recommended brand to provide you with a healthy balance.

We also need plenty of vegetables and fruits containing Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system and it goes without saying that all of these should be fresh or at least fresh picked and frozen.. In the winter months it can be more practical to buy frozen as they will be seasonal in other parts of the world and brought to you locally.

Here is a shopping list that contains all the nutrients and the foods that eaten regularly can help you maintain a healthy immune system.

fruit and veg banner

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/a-basic-shopping-list-for-a-nutritionally-balanced-diet/

Other Immune boosting activities

You can go to the gym, a swimming pool and if you do not have access to that sort of facility then buy a treadmill, second hand ones are quite reasonable, or simply put your favourite music on and dance like no-one is watching!!

Recently I looked at the dynamics of change physically, mentally and emotionally and included some strategies to maintain a healthy balance. You might find the three posts useful.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-dynamics-of-change-2017/

It is up to you to find the activities that make you feel good as an individual. For some it might be an energetic game of squash or running a marathon. For others it could be Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates. All of them if enjoyed will boost the immune system and release feel good endorphins that will help see you through the rest of the winter.

Tell me this does not boost your immune system

A key strategy for overcoming the winter blues is interaction with others.

I believe that the clan would have worked together, sitting by the fires which produced the only light, telling stories, educating the young, working on the first tools and utensils such as the autumn gourds. Even perhaps, making drums from those gourds and producing the first beats of music. I am sure that laughter was part of those dark days and nights as humour cannot just have developed in our modern world. The dynamics of the relationships within the clan can only be imagined because despite all the evidence found, we simply were not there!

The good news is that even if you are separated by thousands of miles or even a few hundred you can still keep in touch with your clan members and friends. The virtual cave we all live in now offers a wonderful opportunity to stay engaged with the world, learn new skills online, have conference calls via Skype, catch up with gossip on Twitter or Facebook and communicate. Keeping our brain exercised, eating a nutrient rich diet and taking a 30 minute brisk walk daily may keep us whole in body, mind and soul our entire lives.

I firmly believe that our bodies contain ancestral memory. And, because our DNA mutates so infrequently every 10,000 years or so, like instinctive behaviour in all animals, we do have deep seated and essential needs for certain foods, nutrients, activities, emotional connections and mental stimulation that we still must provide to be healthy physically and mentally and to be simply happy.

However, you cannot just sit passively and wait for all these elements to come together magically. You have to grab with both hands and participate.

So you now have the components for the plan to make this winter healthier and mentally manageable.

I have given you the elements for the project – but you are the one who needs to put it into practice. It will not be easy to change habits of a lifetime, or get into a new routine with new foods having given up those you feel you get comfort from.

©sally cronin Just food for Health 2004 – 2017

As always if you would like to ask any questions you can do so in the comments or you can email me on sallygcronin@gmail.com

Thanks for dropping by.  Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Part Three – Tryptophan and winter blues


seasonal-affective-disorder

In the last two posts I explored what I believe to be the reason that millions of people around the world  have a clear seasonal, mental and physical change when winter arrives.  Our bodies have not evolved sufficiently yet to cope with our modern lifestyle of year round levels of activity and the modern technology that gives us light, sound and stimulation 24/7. It is lagging behind by about 9,850 years and really wants to curl up in a cave, wrapped in a bear skin and eat sweet and fatty preserved cakes. Unfortunately, a DNA mutation that would enable us to deal with our modern world does not happen overnight but in around 10,000 years.

Also the lack of sufficient Vitamin D in our diet to enable our bodies to maintain a healthy immune system and to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

An essential winter additive.

In this post I want to cover other critical factors about our chemical makeup that requires retuning for the cold weather. It is similar to what we will do to our car to ensure it starts and keeps running at lower temperatures.  Only the fuel additive we need is L-tryptophan one of the 10 essential amino acids extracted from the food we eat and used by the body to synthesize the proteins we need.  Its crucial role for those suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms, particularly when the days become shorter, is in the production of two key brain hormones and Niacin or vitamin B3.

Only a small amount of the tryptophan that we eat is converted to B3 by the liver.  However, B3 has a vital role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to obtain the fuel we need (ATP) as well as helping regulate cholesterol.  It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and hormones and when it is formed, it continues to work with the tryptophan and also B6 to stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin transmitters within the brain.  (If you do not have sufficient B vitamins in your diet there is a risk of deficiency disease most commonly skin infections, diarrhea and if prolonged can lead to dementia).

These key neurotransmitters are absolutely essential if your body and brain are going to function efficiently throughout the winter months.  Melatonin is a sleep related hormone secreted by the pineal gland and regulates our sleep patterns.  It would normally increase its activity in the dark months when the sunlight is not there to regulate when we sleep and wake, however in people who suffer from SAD it appears that levels rise much later in the night compared to those who do not suffer from it, causing insomnia.

The other neurotransmitter which for me is more key in the management of this winter cycle is Serotonin.  It regulates appetite, sleep patterns and our mood. Low levels are associated with depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, carbohydrate cravings, overeating and insomnia.  There is some very interesting research into Serotonin and SAD but there is a clear indication that depleted levels of L-tryptophan in the diet, resulting in even lower natural serotonin levels in the winter months, will cause these very common symptoms.

FOODS PROVIDING TRYPTOPHAN

vegetablesSo – back to my basic diet with lots of vegetables, lean proteins, oily fish, olive oil, dairy, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, eggs and natural sugars like honey.  Here are some key foods to include on a daily basis to ensure that you are getting sufficient tryphophan to produce a balanced level of B3, Melatonin and Serotonin.

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The highest concentration is found in poultry – chicken and turkey, and soybeans for vegetarians.  Great amounts in red meat, tuna, lamb, salmon, sardines, halibut (good for Vitamin D too), cod, shellfish, dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, Brussel sprouts etc.

There is smaller amounts in the carbohydrates  such as potatoes, brown rice etc- so although important to be included as part of a balanced diet, if you are planning on eating a low fat, high carbohydrate based diet through the winter you are far more likely to suffer from SAD.

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Another key point about our diet during the winter months is that today we have access to so much more variety of fruit and vegetables year round.  Although I prefer seasonal vegetables and fruit as I think my body expects them at specific times and processes them more efficiently, I still love the fact that this whole range of nutrients is available whenever I choose.  The added benefit is additional Vitamin C which is so important during the cold and flu season.  More about those in later blogs……..

Next time – activity and stimulation for body and mind to overcome the blues……

 ©sally cronin Just food for health – 2004 – 2017

I hope you have found interesting and I look forward to your feedback. Sally

Smorgasbord Round up – Eagles, Irish Fairies, Opera and thrills and spills.


round-up

Welcome to this week’s round-up of posts you might have missed. It has been a fairly busy week as I prepare for the new series of interviews beginning in March and I am thrilled with the response. Twenty five talented authors, poets, musicians and other creative people have come forward to take part in either Book Reading at the Bookstore or The Creative Artist Interview.

Whilst there are some set questions there are also three personalised questions that I am including in each interview so as you can imagine I am taking my time with that. I hope to have them all out by Monday… It looks like I may go to two posts a week to make sure that nobody is hanging around for weeks waiting for their interview to go live. That being the case if you have not already volunteered.. here is the link which includes the format for the interviews.

Here are all the new promotional opportunities, with something for everyone, all on one page.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

On the subject of promotions.

On the 21st I am off on a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate our three birthdays that are all in February. I will be taking a break from writing posts for the blog but the blog will be handed over to some fabulous and talented members of the blogging community who will be filling in for me in my absence.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/a-little-blog-sitting-requested-february-21st-28th-part-time-position/

I have no worries about leaving the blog for the week to fend for itself but I thought it was another promotional opportunity for you all. As well as the guest post.. I will make sure to top and tail with an intro, feature books, blog, art etc as well as links. Definitely good for the blog and perhaps a little boost for you. Especially as I will not be doing the usual book promotions that week.

If you would like to apply for the job of part-time blog sitter please come back to me by Thursday so that I can get it scheduled in time.

As always I am hugely grateful for your wonderful support, comments, shares and motivation. ♥♥

Enough of the mushy stuff.. and on with the posts from the week…..

Classical music with William Price King

William and his music

So pleased that so many of you are enjoying the last in the classical music series and the story of American soprano Leontyne Price. This week a look at her performances in the 1950s and the bigotry that she endured in her early career.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/classical-music-with-william-price-king-leontyne-price-part-two-star-on-the-rise-2/

Weekly Image and Haiku

I am so lucky to have some wonderful co-hosts on occasion for the blog and one post this week seemed to touch the hearts of many of you. Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photographs has been a blogging friend for the last three years and he sent me some recent photographs of the eagles Romeo and Juliette.. he very kindly agreed to let me use one of the images for this week’s Haiku.. You can see the full sized version in the post.

together-for-lifehttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/weekly-image-and-haiku-together-for-life/

Short Story – After the Festival 

Another collaboration with illustrator Donata Zawdska with After the Festival. I was very privileged to be able to use the artwork for my short story..a new one from my upcoming Tales from the Irish Garden later in the year.. I hope you enjoy.

after-the-festival-1https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-short-story-tales-from-the-irish-garden-after-the-festival-illustrated-by-donata-zawadzka/

The new interview series if you missed them last week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/new-series-smorgasbord-creative-artist-interview-musicians-bloggers-artists-photographers/

Book Promotions

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-wind-follower-by-carole-mcdonnell/

copertina_inglese_the_annwyns_secret

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-frank-immersed-a-frank-rozzani-detective-novel-frank-rozzani-detective-novels-book-5-by-don-massenzio/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-golden-age-of-charli-rsvp-by-jena-c-henry/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-sleeping-serpent-by-luna-saint-claire/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

41jwrqyo45l-_uy250_the-heart-stone-chronicles getpart

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-teri-polen-colleen-chesebro-and-sally-cronin/

51qgvzagl1l 51-yoxohzql-_uy250_ 51jo3ypdlbl-_uy250_

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-amy-m-reade-olga-nunez-miret-and-gigi-sedlemayer/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers promoted this week.

If you would like to be included in the Blogger Daily then just leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of the round up today..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-6th-february-2017-welsh-chapels-interviews-celebrating-books-and-angry-bird/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-7th-february-2017-share-buttons-reviews-crime-settings-poetry-and-octopus/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-8th-february-2017-dr-dolittle-the-turin-shroud-sexism-politics-and-emotional-beats/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-9th-february-2017-smoking-dickens-leftovers-water-shortages-and-childrens-illustrations/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-10th-february-2017-multi-culturism-drinking-war-correspondent-snow-cream-and-dog-rescue/

Smorgasbord Health – series Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

seasonal-affective-disorderhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-two-vitamin-d-the-sunshine-vitamin/

Smorgasbord health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Lung Cancer.

smorgasbord healthhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-lungs-part-five-smoking-and-lungcancer/

Humour and Afternoon Video

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/time-for-some-laffs-and-some-cat-and-dog-views-on-life/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/time-for-some-laffs-from-around-the-usual-haunts/

That is it for another week on Smorgasbord.. Couldn’t do it without you.. Please remember that it saves me time if you volunteer your news about new book releases, fantastic reviews or share your blog post link.. Help me share your work.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Part Two – Vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin


seasonal-affective-disorder

First a reminder if you missed the first post in this series of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The typical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include depression, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain. Symptoms begin in the fall, peak in the winter and usually resolve in the spring. Some individuals experience great bursts of energy and creativity in the spring or early summer. Susceptible individuals who work in buildings without windows may experience SAD-type symptoms at any time of year. Some people with SAD have mild or occasionally severe periods of mania during the spring or summer. If the symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary. If they are problematic, then a mood stabilizer such as Lithium might be considered. There is a smaller group of individuals who suffer from summer depression.

To show the connection to Seasonal Affective Disorder I need to give you an idea of the scope and breadth of the influence of Vitamin D Levels in the body. And as you will see later in the post it has been identified that there is a difference in the incidences of several diseases between population is sunnier areas of the world and those that have extended winter months.

WHAT IS VITAMIN D?

Vitamin D is a fat soluable vitamin that is found in some food sources. We are also designed to make the vitamin in our body after exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun. When it is manufactured in the body it takes on a number of different forms, each of which have a different function to perform.

The main function is to maintain the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and then to ensure that calcium is absorbed efficiently so that new bone is formed and maintained throughout our lifetime.

This link to calcium resulted in the first major nutritional breakthrough nearly 100 years ago when it was identified that children with rickets, usually from poor and industrial areas suffered from Vitamin D deficiency and were supplemented with fish liver oils resulting in a virtual eradication of the disease.

Calcium plays a crucial role in other functions in the body but one of the most important as far as cancer is concerned is its ability to maintain the acid/alkaline balance within all our operating systems.

There is also a strong link between magnesium and calcium in the role of balancing hormones and are used very successfully in the treatment of PMS and menopausal symptoms.

Oestrogen the female hormone has been identified as the fuel that breast cancer cells prefer and this is why during the menopause when levels are likely to be elevated, we are more likely to develop tumours. This can therefore be linked back to a deficiency in Calcium and by definition a lack of vitamin D which enables the mineral to be absorbed and used by the body.

Vitamin D also works to promote healthy cell growth and actively prevent the formation of abnormal growth which strengthens the link between not only breast cancer and a deficiency but other cancers as well. Incidences of breast, prostate and colon cancer in the cloudier, Northern parts of the United States are two to three times higher than in Sunnier states. A link has been established to a deficiency of Vitamin D with all these types of cancer.

Apart from working with other nutrients to provide a healthy balance, Vitamin D is also associated with a number of other chronic diseases including Osteoporosis (calcium) Diabetes, Heart disease, arthritis (immune system) Multiple sclerosis (autoimmune system) Obesity ( lowers the levels of leptin hormone produced by the fat cells which regulates weight) , PMS and infertility, chronic fatigue and depression.

Many people in countries with long wet and dark winters suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Vitamin D which has been activated in the adrenal gland regulates an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase which is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and epinephrine. Not only do they regulate how we feel but also are linked to some interesting parallel conditions associated with a lack in Vitamin D namely obesity, PMS and menopausal symptoms such as migraines, and chronic pain associated with arthritis etc.

HOW DO WE GET SUFFICIENT VITAMIN D?

There are actually two types of vitamin D found in nature – D2 is the one activated by sunlight in plants and D3 is found in animal foods. D3 is the one that is most commonly used in supplementation usually in combination with calcium as it is the most biologically usable and effective for humans.

If you have a liver or kidney condition then you should not supplement without your doctor’s advice. When we take in Vitamin D from food or sunlight it firsts goes to the liver and gets converted to one form and then onto the kidney to be converted into another form before being active and usable. If you have a liver or kidney problem you will be unable to convert the vitamin and will need the already activated form on prescription from your doctor.
Vitamin D taken in excess can be toxic and you should not supplement more than 1000 IU to 3000IU per day. The upper limit for safety has been set at 10,000 IU per day and if you are getting adequate sunlight provided vitamin D you should not need to supplement in summer months.

The recommended daily levels are confused as since 1997 when the original levels were set at between 200 and 600 IU An IU represents 5 micrograms. Researchers now believe that we need a minium intake of 1000 IU rising as we age to 3000 IU

Most of what we require on a daily basis is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight and many of us who suffer from depression through the dark winter months are actually missing around 75% of our required daily dose this represents over 2000IU of vitamin D for someone in their 70’s

There is quite a lot of information available regarding the amount of time that you need in the sunshine to produce sufficient Vitamin D and unfortunately it is also very confusing. Some researchers say that you only need 15 minutes per day in the sun and others recommend two to three hours of exposure.

What is crucial is the type of ultraviolet light, the time of day, the latitude and altitude and amount of bare skin exposed.

Ultraviolet light is divided into 3 bands or wavelength ranges which are UV-C, UV-B and UV-A. UV-C is the strongest and it is the band that causes our skin to burn in a very short space of time. This band is absorbed by the ozone level and thankfully never reaches our skin – yet.

UV-A is responsible for our tans as it activates the pigment in our skin. Usually we will not burn in this range unless we are photosensitive (some anti-depressants and St. John’s Wort can cause this) or very high and frequent doses are used. This range is used for tanning beds and there have been incidences of skin cancer resulting from over use. Until very recently this UV-A was not blocked in any sunscreens and of course sunbathers would lie out in extremely strong sunlight believing that they were protected completely from harmful rays. Of course they were not which is believed to be the reason for the increase in the level of skin cancers.

The ultraviolet wavelength we need to produce Vitamin D is UV-B and unfortunately despite its benefits also is the burning ray and the primary cause of sunburn.

It also however, produces the beneficial effects of stimulating Vitamin D production, causes special skin cells to produce melanin which protects our skin and also for those of us trying to lose weight also stimulates a hormone MSH (Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone) that helps in weight loss and energy production.

A drawback is that although UV-A is present all through the day the UV-B available is dependent on a number of factors including the angle of the sun rays and cloud cover as well as latitude and altitude. The upshot is that the most beneficial time to take advantage of the UV-B rays is in the peak burning zones of 10.00 a.m. to 2.00p.m.

The sensible approach is to build up you tan slowly and carefully over a period of time so that the melanin in your skin provides protection from burning. Start by getting five minutes exposure to very bright sunlight if you have very fair skin and then increase this as your tan builds. Walking at other times of the day will also benefit you and try to expose as much skin as is decently acceptable (don’t frighten the tourists) You need to try and reveal around 85% of your skin to be effective.

I don’t advise anyone to sit in scorching sunshine in the middle of the day for hours – If you do make sure you have adequate protection to begin with and then reduce the factor down to 8 over a period of time. Any sun blocks over 8 will not allow the UV-B rays through to produce Vitamin D so when you are ready and you have sufficient protection in your own skin reduce the sunblock to under 8.

FOOD SOURCES

Our ancestors mainly worked outside until the industrial revolution and activities such as farming, fishing and hunting meant that we were exposed to sunlight throughout the day depending on the latitude and altitude of our immediate vicinity. Those not lucky enough to get adequate sunshine would have instinctively sought other sources of Vitamin D from food. In those days it was the intestines, livers, kidneys, skin and fat of the animals they caught as well as seafood, oily fish and insects. It is obvious from this list how many foods have disappeared from our plates in the last 100 years. When was the last time that you ate liver, kidneys, the fat on your steak or the crispy skin on your chicken. We certainly have been told not to eat most of these to preserve our health but ironically it means that we are also missing out on viable sources of Vitamin D.

This has limited the available food sources of the vitamins and some of them are rather inadequate anyway.

eggs

An egg contain approximately 24 with a 100g serving of herring or tinned salmon providing just over 400 IU. Dairy products such as milk contain the vitamin but an 8oz glass only contains 100 IU of the vitamin.

Pork fat contains 2,800 IU per 100gms so start eating the crackling again (do not attempt if trying to lose weight. Herrings contain 680 IU, Oysters contain 640 IU (would need a lot more than a dozen) Sardines 500IU. Mackeral 450 IU and butter 56IU

This compares to 2,000 IU to 5000IU produced from sunlight dependent on the factors we have already covered.

COD LIVER OIL.

Now that most of us are well into the winter months I do recommend that everyone take high quality cod liver oil. Apart from the Vitamin D you will also be supplying your body with an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids essential for a great many of our bodies functions and the subject of another programme. Cod liver oil also contains rich amounts of vitamin A and the whole package will help protect you against age related diseases.

As children we were given spoonfuls of cod liver oil and thanks to that simple breakthrough in the early 1900’s we did not get rickets. Today if you cannot face a tablespoon of the oil, you can obtain high quality cod liver oil capsules. There are lots to choose from so I suggest you shop around to find the best quality you can.

As we get older our skin thins and we are less able to manufacture Vitamin D naturally, which is when supplementation is really quite important.. It is a good idea to take not only cod liver oil but also an additional supplement of calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. This is important for both men and women to maintain the correct acid/alkaline balance and also to balance hormone levels during midlife when breast and prostate cancer is more of a risk.

Next time the link between Sunshine and Tryptophan.

©sally cronin- Just Food for Health – 2004 – 2016

Smorgasbord Health – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Part One – The way we were!


seasonal-affective-disorderOn the off chance that some eminent scientist involved in the extensive research over many years into the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder might stumble upon my blog……..you never know!!! I am not going to apologise about my theories as to the cause of this alleged disorder that affects millions around the world as their days become shorter and the nights longer.

We are now in the last two months of winter and having moved to Ireland at the end of April last year this has been my first Irish Winter for fifteen years. And I know that my body has noticed the difference.

Here is a little more about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The typical symptoms of SAD include depression, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain. Symptoms begin in the fall, peak in the winter and usually resolve in the spring. Some individuals experience great bursts of energy and creativity in the spring or early summer. Susceptible individuals who work in buildings without windows may experience SAD-type symptoms at any time of year. Some people with SAD have mild or occasionally severe periods of mania during the spring or summer. If the symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary. If they are problematic, then a mood stabilizer such as Lithium might be considered. There is a smaller group of individuals who suffer from summer depression.

My experience with SAD.

I loved summer in Madrid – long sunny days, heat of the sun as I worked in the garden or swam (lots of Vitamin D and more about that on Wednesday), crisp salads and lots of fish and protein, being tanned (safely of course) and sitting at 10 at night watching the sun going down. Autumn was also a very pleasant season – beautiful colours in the garden – still sunny days – little nip in the air – prospect of getting the leather jacket out of the depths of the wardrobe, a move to slightly more carbohydrates in the diet. Nuts and seeds, porridge with a little honey…lovely.

Then winter……………for millions of people around the world the lights go off. Add the fact that for many of those millions, their diet consists of white fats, grains and sugars and their bodies are not prepared for the plunge into darkness. And, because their diet is not going to change through the winter months the symptoms of SAD will only intensify. The symptoms are varied but include, depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, unexplained weight gain and loss, slow growth in children, overeating of carbohydrates and sugars, insomnia and for many increased infections.

For me this winter has been hard. Not because it has been cold but because most days it has been grey. I do not like the dark days and although I include foods that contain Vitamin D in my daily diet I do require it in supplemental form too.. I will talk about that at the end of the series.

So you can see why I have spent many years exploring ways to improve my health and those I have worked with who also suffer winter blues.

So, back to our lives in caves and my hypothesis as to why our bodies have not adapted to this ultra high tech modern world of ours as fast as our minds have.

Reading Jean M Auel’s books, starting with the Clan of the Cave Bear back in the 80’s, was a revelation for me when I was determined to sort my health and weight out. Jean was decorated by the French Government for her work and her research alongside anthropologists was evident throughout her books which I highly recommend.
I would like you to consider this.

DNA mutations occur in humans rarely, about every 10,000 to 12,000 years. So for the sake of argument let us take a quick trip back in time.

mammoth

During the summer months the clan would hunt, fish, gather nuts and seeds, possibly some root vegetables and some green edible shoots and leaves. All would have been seasonal and most would have been consumed at the time. However, fats from their meats would have been used along with nuts and seeds to make long lasting cake and stored probably in gourds or leaves and used by hunters heading out as well as for the winter months. Meat and fish was dried in the sun both at the time of the hunt and for transport back to the cave but also during the months of abundance for consumption in the winter months.

nuts and seeds

Autumn in particular would have been a wonderful opportunity for finding fruit, seeds and nuts and of course these could be sweetened with honey.

Then came the dark – there are various theories about when fire was discovered but probably quite early on from natural events such as lightening strikes that caused bushes to combust and as man developed he would have exploited this resource – probably 10,000 years ago someone had discovered that liquid fat in a gourd burns and provided light but for all intents and purposes the dark came and stayed for many months.

Apart from opportune kills and for the lucky ones on the coast who could fish, the reliance was on stored foods. If it had been a lousy hunting season and poor autumn for nuts and seeds, many starved to death, especially the very young and elderly. What, do you do in the dark months anyway? Most babies were born in the late spring! Still happens today in the winter months following winter power outages!

Imagine a world without any stimulation except for a few brief hours a day when you would rush around getting firewood if available – collecting water or snow in the depths of winter for drinking water, hunting for the few animals still awake. Then back to the cave where I guess apart from interaction between the clan, working in dim light on essential tasks, it would be nibbling on the sweet stored cake and the dried meat and then sleeping until the sun came up the next day.

Back to the present day, for our minds perhaps; but I believe that our bodies have not evolved enough yet. Remember that our world that we know and understand with all its sophisticated technology is really only around 150 years old. Our DNA is about 9,850 years adrift. Therefore, SAD is not a disorder, illness or disease but our natural winter state.

And, if you are going to try and alleviate the symptoms associated with this natural, semi hibernating condition, you need to do so with the right type of diet and exercise.

If you have been reading my blog about some of our modern lifestyle diseases you will have already twigged that the diet that I enjoy and have introduced to my clients, readers and listeners over the years is simply this. Natural unprocessed, meats, poultry and fish, oily in particular, wholegrains, seeds, nuts, root vegetables and green leafy varieties, fruits and honey. As you can see nothing new in history and not something I invented but my great grandmother several times removed.

The reason diet is so important is that there are certain nutrients that are necessary for the chemical reactions in the brain and our bloodstream that tell our body that, along with the artificial light many of us now enjoy, we also continue to have access to essential food groups that would have normally disappeared by the end of the autumn. Additionally, the body needs to try and adapt to the concept that we now no longer need to limit our activity, change our sleep patterns or suffer from nutrient deficiency.

In the following posts I am going to be writing about the most important ingredients in our food that will encourage our bodies to stay well and also promote emotional and mental well being year round…..Including Vitamin D and Tryptophan.

©sally cronin 2017 Smorgasbord Health