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Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Table 2016: Bow Enjoys a Thanksgiving Feast

What is Bow's favorite thing at Thanksgiving? I have been asked. He has not answered this question definitively, but his three favorites are the bubbly red grape juice, the pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce. All are fairly sweet, and Bow has a sweet tooth.

Bow was happy to have another visit with his grandma, and he settled down to having her here without displaying or making too much noise. He knows her and recognizes that she is part of his family, and he looks forward to Thanksgiving every year.

This year, I made the pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce. My mother prepared all the other food.

Here is a video of my mother slicing the yams.

The first thing that Bow asked for was the Welch's sparkling red grape juice.

He took his sweet time drinking it, too.

He wanted to enjoy it down to the very last drop. When he requested it, he called it " שתיה", which is just the Hebrew word for "a drink."

The next thing Bow asked for was the pumpkin pie. He called it עוגה. That's just a general word that covers both cake and pie.

You can hear my mother and me talking in the background, while Bow has his pumpkin pie. After that, I offered him a turkey leg, but he said it was "סתם", meaning nothing special. He wanted the cranberry sauce, instead. He called it "אדום", which means "red".

After that, Bow was full, so he asked to go outside. The rest of the family proceeded with our Thanksgiving feast at a more leisurely pace. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Animal Husbandry versus Liberty

Bow enjoying oatmeal made with fresh whole milk

Bow is fit and trim, even though he eats a wide variety of foods. He has plenty of access to fruit, including apples, bananas, strawberries and grapes regularly, and occasionally pears, persimmons, pomegranates, avocado, kiwi, guava, locquat and any other exotic fruit we can get our hands on. But he is not exclusively a frugivore. He eats salad with ranch dressing, eggplant fried in oil or bacon fat, raw tomatoes, fried onions, boiled cauliflower and boiled brussels sprouts, and asparagus, baked potatoes and yams, plus other vegetables that occasionally appear on the menu. But Bow is not a vegetarian. He also likes baked chicken, roast beef, pork chops, Big Macs, chicken nuggets and any other meat dish that he can get his hands on. And Bow has milk with his cereal and in his oatmeal and black sesame porridge, as well as whipped cream with his strawberries and sour cream with his baked potatoes. No, he's not lactose intolerant, and he is not a vegan, and he is not kosher; he has a nice appreciation for many different kinds of food, including oriental dishes like hummus and tahini and Chinese pot stickers and rice. Like me, Bow is an omnivore. He enjoys food, and he has routines and rituals, but he is not stuck in a gastronomic rut. He feels free to explore new foods.

And like me and my daughter, Bow is not overweight. He has a well-defined waistline and is built like the cartoon character, Li'l Abner.

Notice Bow's well-defined waistline
What I have noticed is that when they cross-foster, most people end up with great apes whose weight issues are a little like their own. It is usually because we tend to feed our nonhuman apes the same sorts of things that we eat, and also our attitude toward food is similar. It's a cultural issue.

When Sword Met Bow

Cross-fostered chimpanzees get a lot of their attitude and approach to life from the family they grow up  in or the persons who raise them. For instance, a chimpanzee raised Catholic will take on Catholic ritual, crossing himself and praying before meals. A chimpanzee raised by a Buddhist will often display Buddhist attitudes and behaviors, even to the the point of  looking like the Buddha.

This Statue of the Buddha is an Image of Happiness and Contentment
Is it bad to look so happy and content that you no longer have a visible waistline? It depends very much on the culture you come from, how this is regarded. People are too quick to judge.

What if I told you that a certain great ape, deprived of the company of the humans that he loved, has lost a prodigious amount of weight and is now looking healthy and fit? Let's say he had before been so round about the middle that he was beginning to resemble a statue of the Buddha, but now he is fit and trim and his coat is glossy, and he runs around with his fellow apes outdoors, a perfect specimen of natural health and fitness. Is this good or bad? An improvement or an infringement?

It really depends entirely on your point of view.  But to put this in perspective, let me tell you a part of the story of my latest novel, Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way.

When the Red Cross sent the Swiss Consul to visit the internees at the Weihsien Internment Camp for Enemy Aliens run by the Japanese in Shandong Province, China, he had similar improvements in the health of the inmates to report.

Excerpt from Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way

When people are placed in an internment camp or a sanctuary, good animal husbandry demands that they be given at least the minimal number of calories per day to live on, but not much more. If these people, when they were free, were accustomed to eating a great deal more than was good for them, then the resultant weight loss can lead to improvement in their overall health. In the same way, lack of access to alcohol and drugs can cause an improvement in the health of those of the internees who were addicts before they entered the camp. The camp has the same effect on the overall health of the inmates that a drug rehab center or a spa can have. But that does not mean that the lack of choice imposed on the inmates is brought about by humanitarian means or that it is in any way humane.