Haiti’s Heartbreak: Forgotten After Four Hurricanes

This is a post I’ve meaning to write ever since I heard my hero Dr. Paul Farmer on the radio a couple of weeks ago.

I know we’ve had our storms here in the Gulf of Mexico and on Wall Street, but Haiti has been hit by four consecutive hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike.

Mia Farrow has a piece up on CNN.com about her recent visit to Haiti as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador that tells the story.

If you want to help and you want to make sure that your dollars (battered though they may be) go directly to help Haitians, please contribute to Dr. Farmer’s Partners in Health. The nonprofit organization provides free healthcare to a half-million Haitians living in the Central Highlands through Zanmi Lasante (Creole for “Partners in Health”).

Like Marjorie Orr, I can’t gain a lot of insight by looking at the Independence Chart for Haiti. She’s got an earlier chart that she’s been studying that seems to reflect the extreme weather and suffering.

With the Independence Chart, Pluto has been trining the Moon in Leo, which squares Neptune in Scorpio natally. Even though a trine is viewed as a favorable aspect, you have to look at the planets involved and their natal aspects, I believe.

Here’s the chart for Haiti, thanks to Astrodienst. Transiting Jupiter is squaring natal Uranus in Libra so one gets a sense of how volatile the situation is there.

Earlier this year, there were riots in Haiti about rising food prices. According to Farrow and Farmer, the situation is quite desperate now because the impoverished government has no resources to provide food, water, and medicine in the wake of the hurricanes.

I know that I’m not alone in suffering from disaster fatigue these days. But how can the richest country in the Western Hemisphere turn its back on the poorest one?

A Cosmic Take on Cuisine: The View From Brazil

Gian Paul, who has emerged as the Brazil bureau chief of Astrology Mundo and Lula watcher par excellence, is back with a fascinating look at cuisine and the cosmos, peppered by some personal insights. After all, this is a blog.

Here’s Gian Paul, a Swiss-born finance type who follows French astrology and loves Belgian chocolate. (Pralinée only, s’il vous plâit.)

In a recent edition of BusinessWeek, there are two alarming items, related and of astrological interest:

The first is that an increasing percentage of Greek children today are overweight, similar to in the U.S. The second is that nearly 3,000 restaurants and cafés have closed in France this year already.

The decline in the number of French eateries is most likely taking place in the Western Hemisphere as well.

What’s truly alarming is the speed at which things are going downhill in France, where a a gourmand culture has existed since before the French Revolution. One hundred years ago, a somewhat sophisticated meal consisted of six or seven courses or so. If it were a banquet, the number of courses would normally increase to 20.

BusinessWeek concentrates on the “economic” side of the issue, as one would expect for a business publication. So what’s the astrological angle?

I am a follower of the French type of astrology. One of the best French astrologers I know, Henry Gouchon, always related health issues with children to the planetary transits that they had in the first four years of their lives. An intriguing concept. Even more so because it’s possible to look up these transits much later in life, when some health problems have become chronic.

Many people struggle at one point or another in their lives with a weight problem. Some physicians find psychological reasons, while others cite early childhood habits or ignorant parents.

In astrology, health is associated with the sign Virgo and the sixth house. With Moon in Virgo opposing Mars myself, I am quite sympathetic to those with ulcers.

I used to be a financial analyst at one stage in my life, covering oil, chemicals, and drugs. Back in the Sixties and early Seventies, I remember there were practically no new drugs coming out of research. Then all of a sudden came Tagamet, the revolutionary anti-ulcer medication, as well as a slew of various anti-cholesterol drugs, beta blockers, etc.

Interested in astrology, I went searching for the astrological link. Drugs are related to Neptune. Here’s my theory: Neptune had to move out of Scorpio in the early Seventies and into Sagittarius in before drug research could make a quantum leap forward!

Unfortunately, these pharmaceutical breakthroughs were also accompanied by great advances in the adulteration of food. Interesting that the food industry is a favorite investment area of Warren Buffett, with his Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Cancer, which rules food.

We have witnessed the advent of an onslaught of sugar substitutes and food preservatives, as well as artificial flavors, fragrances, and colors.
So, back to our poor Greek kids and French restaurant owners. Blaming Neptune’s passage through Sagittarius does not offer much consolation. However, thanks to the “mutual reception” of Neptune in Aquarius and Uranus in Pisces, we have an opportunity for scientists to discover what is truly healthy. (Mutual reception occurs when two planets are transiting signs ruled by one another.)

Having suffered from a heart attack and having cholesterol problems for quite a long time, I have been forced to become knowledgeable about this domain. Only eight years ago my cardiologists were insisting that I eat margarine, not butter. Now margarine is out.

I was happily eating eggs and red meat, while the drugs to control cholesterol were counterbalancing my excesses. Everybody was happy: Nestlé, Kraft, P&G, Pfizer, Bayer, Roche, and many others. Even good restaurants because I had returned as a client.

I realize that I’m not alone in adhering to one gastronomical regimen, only to be told by a doctor or the press that it’s “wrong,” and that I must change lanes. When everyone was jogging, carbs were good. Then, as people became glued to their desks and their computers, high-protein diets like Atkins and the Zone were all the rage.

For those who dismiss the “Mediterranean diet” as a fad, you’re wrong. It’s truly healthy and wonderful food. Too bad those Greek kids have abandoned this traditional way of eating.

And while Napa Valley vintners extol the virtue of wine as part of a healthy diet, they fail to tell us that new processes to mature wines more rapidly use quite a variety of Neptunian ingredients that are far from natural.

The Greeks who came to New York to run the diners for years may have the right idea: Go home to a little Greek island to retire. Enjoy a variety of local cheeses, olives, delicious tomatoes, and truly natural wine.

Thanks, Gian Paul, I’m off to a samba class to keep off the fat!

I Thought a Frenchwoman Was Coming to Lunch

On Saturday morning, I opened my e-mail to learn that a former boss and his French-born wife would be driving through our neck of the woods on their way to the Finger Lakes in Central New York. Could he, his wife, and their two daughters stop by for lunch on Sunday? Bien sur.

I e-mailed back with my cell-phone number (I turned off the home phone about a year ago in a cost-saving measure), directions to the house, and a suggested time for lunch: noon.

Lest I sound too calm, please know that in my heart of darkness, I was quoting Kurtz: “The horror! The horror” of entertaining a Frenchwoman. All prepared foods, synthetic fabrics, and extraneous paper products (read napkins, paper towels, not toilet paper) would have to be hidden from view lest I be viewed as the sorry, overprocessed spawn of an American-based multinational.

I’ve read Colette, I’ve read Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat. No, I haven’t spent a year in Provence, but our town has a farmers’ market and I have a garden. I have known pastoral splendor on these Yankee shores. I would prepare a Hudson Valley lunch that would not embarrass my fellow Americans. More than personal pride was at stake here.

I moved into high gear with the vacuum cleaner, sucking up cat hair that had accumulated in the nooks and crannies of the house in the past month or so. I drove to the supermarket and bought a leg of lamb, which I cooked for my husband on Saturday night with a rosemary-lemon-garlic rub that I made in the food processor, not in the mortar and pestle so prominently displayed on the counter.

Lunch on Sunday would be cold lamb and chilled cucumber soup. My side dishes would be fresh succotash with lima beans, tomatoes, and corn from the local farmers’ market and a wild rice salad with pecans and cranberries. I would serve a homemade blueberry cobbler for dessert. To top it off, a crusty peasant loaf from Mario’s Bakery down the road in Hopewell Junction — Frenchwomen eat carbs and still don’t get fat!

All the while that I’m running around, I’m mentally noting that I haven’t gotten an e-mail back from ex-boss, who as a young man was known to be quite mercurial. (I haven’t seen him in 14 years, but that’s just the blink of an eye for an Army brat accustomed to hearing from people out of the blue.)

Still, I know that if I make no preparations whatsoever, the family will be ringing my bell at noon on the dot. Isn’t that the second law of thermodynamics, that the opposite of what you plan for will happen? 🙂 Maybe it’s just Murphy’s law, but it’s definitely a law in my book.

Of course, if I did nothing, when my guests arrived I could have always taken them to Homespun Foods on our lovely Main Street in Beacon, where Jessica’s salads, sandwiches, and soups would certainly pass muster with a Frenchwoman. But I did not want to serve the fruits of someone else’s labor to our honored guests.

Fast-forward to noon on Sunday. My husband has ironed the brightly colored Jacquard Provencal tablecloth (no Indian knockoffs here!), which has come out of the cabinet in honor of the Frenchwoman. The coordinating, but not matching (too cookie-cutter), cloth napkins are arranged on the table, as is the Noritake Sterling China china, a gift from my grandmother upon the occasion of my first wedding. Six sets of matching silverware! Now, that involved a lot of digging through the drawers. (Who takes these forks, anyway? I’ll blame it on the subletters in the interest of marital harmony!)

Plenty of ice in the freezer, homemade iced tea in the fridge, fresh cut flowers from the garden on the table. Outside, I have pulled weeds and picked up trash on my street, as far down as three houses on each side.

Nothing to do but wait and check e-mail. At 1 p.m. I call the house in California and leave a message on the home voicemail. I don’t have his or her cell-phone number.

You know the end of the story. My husband and had a lovely lunch à deux, and the house has never been cleaner. It’s Monday at 10:55 a.m. and I still haven’t gotten a cell-phone call or e-mail from my former boss. I left the other place settings on the dining room table because they look so beautiful.

For the astrologers who are reading this, perhaps a void-of-course moon is to blame.