Nature versus Nurture

Here’s a little narrative about my “biological” father; someone I’ve never given much thought to let alone write about before.  It’s important that I put “biological” in front of the word father because I don’t want to confuse one with the other.  I was raised and adopted by a man I call my father, or more commonly – dad.  I never met my biological father.  The opportunity has passed since he himself recently passed.  What do I feel about that?    Nothing.

Is it strange to feel nothing at all for someone you have never met and never had any desire to meet?  Or is it stranger still to never have had any desire to meet the co-creator of ones physical self?

Here are the few things that I have been told about him.

  1. He was very good looking.  Ridiculously so.
  2. He used to hit my mother.  He usually hit her in places that would not show any marks. The last time was when I was a month old.  He hit her so hard she fell backwards into the bathtub.  Then she took me and left and never went back.
  3. His mother was an alcoholic which, not surprisingly, seems to have had a deep negative effect on him.
  4. He had no respect for women and the more they swooned over him, the more he was repulsed by them.
  5. He had been married once before he met my mother and had two small children from that marriage.  They both lived with him and my mother when I was born.
  6. He had many more relationships with many more women and many more children resulted.
  7. He was a sports photographer.
  8. He also took pictures of young girls and went to jail for it.
  9. He refused to sign off for my adoption until the lawyer suggested he would have to pay all the child support he owed, and then he quickly signed.
  10. His first name was Doug.  I’ve been told his last name dozens of times but I can never remember it.

Of course, all of what I have been told has come from my mother.  The part about him going to jail came from my mothers sister (not the most reliable source but I’ve never doubted the story), who told my mother who then told me.  I have never had any feelings, good or bad, regarding anything I was ever told about him.  He was a stranger and obviously not a very nice man.  I have always felt like he was just a character in a story…not real.  Not real to me.  There would be no romantic fantasies about meeting him one day.  When I was angriest at my parents, mostly as a teenager, I never once imagined that I should run off and live with him instead.

There was one time, and I believe I was already well into my 30’s when this happened: During an argument, my mother accused me of giving her a cold look the way “he” used to.  I had never before heard anyone suggest that I resembled him in any way.  I’ve always looked a lot like my mother.  Angrily, she blurted out that I was like him in that I could shut down emotionally and become very cold.  Well that comment stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking.  And probably not the way she had hoped.  I wondered if there may have been a whole different side to all of the stories I’d heard about him.  I had always felt that my mother was overly dramatic and extravagant, even reckless in the way she expressed her emotions; lots of tears and yelling etc.; it always made me uncomfortable.  I don’t believe I’m cold but I guess compared to her and from her perspective I could appear so at times.  I may look like my mother but we are very different in many ways.

It dawned on me then that all the information I’d ever learned about this man had come from only one person.  From someone who sees the world very differently than I do.  And so, for a minute or two, I wondered if there was perhaps a little more to this stranger, perhaps there were some ways in which he and I may have been alike.  But then I also realized that it didn’t really matter to me either way.  As Popeye would say “I yam what I yam”. He was still a stranger and I still had no desire to know him.  Does that make me cold? Or realistic?  I’d like a second opinion please.

As I’ve grown older I have wondered whether there may have been any important medical history I should have been aware of but then really, what good would that do?  If there is or if there isn’t heart disease on his side for example, I’m still striving to live a good clean healthy life either way.

So I guess in my case, score one for nurture over nature.  All of my life’s experience, including never meeting this man, has made me into who I am today and I think I’ve turned out ok.  Even my mother would agree…I think.  😉

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Chicken Soup – Mm..mm good

Bonnie Johnson's PostMy son, who lives 2500 miles away, called to tell me he is sick with a cold.  I love that he still wants his mommy when he is sick : )  My first thought was “I need to make some chicken soup”, but it doesn’t mail well so that’s out.

We are making the trip to the East coast to visit him soon so when I’m there I’ll get him stocked with the essentials for this time of year – immunity boosting vitamins and chicken soup.

Although a 12th century physician named Moses Maimonides first prescribed chicken soup as a cold and asthma remedy, its therapeutic properties have been studied by a host of medical experts in recent decades.  Findings vary.  Some say the steam is the real benefit. Sipping the hot soup and breathing in the steam helps clear up congestion.  Irwin Ziment, M.D., pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, says chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines.   For example, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.  Spices that are often added to chicken soup, such as garlic and pepper (all ancient treatments for respiratory diseases), work the same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus and making breathing easier.

It turns out that chicken soup helps by inhibiting neutrophil chemotaxis (movement of the inflammatory white blood cells).  Back in the 1970s, the first articles started appearing; Effects of drinking hot water, cold water and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance. In other words, these researchers gave their subjects either hot water, cold water or chicken soup; and then measured how fast they were able to blow out their (ewww) snot. nose blowTherapeutic Efficacy Of Chicken Soup came out in 1980, and reviewed the nasal mucus velocity findings. It concluded approvingly, ‘The judicious use of chicken soup as an important element of the therapeutic approach to upper and lower respiratory tract infections seems to be fully justified’.

An added bonus:  Allowing the bone to cook in the mix for as long as possible allows the bone to break down a little, releasing calcium ions into the soup. This increases your calcium intake, theoretically helping to lower your risk of osteoporosis.

Chicken soup makes you feel better.  Why else would Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen have called their book series  Best of the Original Chicken Soup for the Soul?

chicken soupSo in keeping with the scientific findings and my motherly desire to lovingly supply a steaming bowl of health and comfort I’ve decided to share a recipe for chicken soup with you that I found on Homemade-soup-recipes.com: (my personal recipe isn’t written ’cause I always just throw whatever comes to mind in the pot, but this one sounds close to mine)

How can the best chicken soup recipe make you feel better?

Quite simply, the best chicken soup recipe contains everything you need to feel good, and nothing your body can object to.  If you aren’t feeling well your body can have reactions to certain foods, especially dairy.  Also, the neutral flavors of chicken and the vegetables won’t trigger a “gag” reflex if your tummy is upset. Lastly, it is substantial enough to give you nutrition, but not heavy enough to require lots of energy to digest it.  But really, the most important reason is that it tastes so darned good! You can switch this up in lots of different ways to make your own homemade chicken noodle soup recipes too.

Ingredients
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper to taste
A dash of olive oil
A small pat of butter (optional)
A cup or so of chopped, cooked white chicken meat, skin and fat removed
Half a cup of chopped, cooked dark chicken meat, skin and fat removed, (optional)
6 cups of chicken stock or broth.
Half a cup of pre-cooked rice (see notes below)
Chopped or dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (yes, just like the song!)

Preparation

1. Warm up your olive oil and butter in your soup pot on medium-low.
2. Add the vegetables and a dash of salt. Add the garlic a minute or so later. Cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
3. A minute or so before the vegetables are done, add the sage, rosemary and thyme.
4. Add the chicken pieces and cook for a minute or two more.
5. Add the chicken stock and the pre-cooked rice.
6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
7. Add the parsley a minute or so before serving.

Notes: If your rice is not pre-cooked, you will need to add liquid to compensate. Add double the liquid by volume as you are adding rice, and reduce the amount of rice to about half. So to replace half a cup of pre-cooked rice, you should add a quarter cup of uncooked rice and half a cup of liquid (either water or additional stock or broth). Also, you need to increase the cooking time to about half an hour to allow the rice to cook. This means you may need to top up the liquid part way through cooking to compensate for evaporation.

You can replace the rice with noodles of any sort. This turns it into my best chicken noodle soup recipe! Just add them about 7 to 10 minutes before serving to allow them to cook (will depend on the type and thickness of noodles). Simply cook until they are the desired tenderness.

Bonnie

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