Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tofino, Canada

Tofino in Tofino, BC, CA
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Smart Travel Contest Entry

Relaxing where storm meets coast in Tofino, Canada

Vancouver Island, affectionately known as Canada’s Storm Coast, is a renowned romantic escape, where couples can get away and stay in luxurious accommodation overlooking the storm coastline. Whale enthusiasts are able to jump onto a zodiac for some whale watching and real close-up encounters, while bear lovers and nature photographers can see the wildlife in abundance, especially during the annual salmon run around October. I stayed at the Pacific Sands Resort, which is situated on the magnificent beachfront. The view of the rolling ocean, the endless beach and the mist filled sunset is a reminder of what one should look forward to in retirement. Resort rooms are stylishly decorated with en-suites and fireplaces. Some have hot tubs but all are cozy and comfortable.
By Vanessa Truter | Photo: Vanessa Truter  |  Feedback

Cuban Cigars!

Ciego De Avila, Cuba in Moron, Ciego de Avila, CU
Map & ContactPhoto

Smart Travel Contest Entry

Experiencing Cuban cigars in Ciego De Avila

Standing in a cigar factory in the middle of Ciego De Avila, Cuba being offered a free cigar is difficult to resist. The fact that it’s an illegal trade doesn’t even enter my mind – I’m too busy squinting through the imaginary smoke cloud my freebee has created. The lure of an illegal “gift” surpasses all logical thinking – especially when Cuba’s considered the cigar capital of the world, not to mention that this is an unsolicited offer and one doesn’t want to come across as ungrateful. I’m perplexed by my decision; take the cigar or not. I’m not a smoker but admit there is a lure… the smell of cigars is akin to freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning. So my hand is surreptitiously extended as I grasp the gift.
By Vanessa Truter | Photo: Vanessa Truter  |  Feedback

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Master Chef and the Stress on Our Children

The ever-popular television cooking program, Master Chef has now created a Junior Master Chef program which has sparked many questions as to whether putting children in the spotlight like this is such a good idea or whether it is psychologically detrimental to their well-being.

Whilst competition is always good, the associated stress – especially on children - is not good at all.

When children are subjected to stress their bodies react by releasing adrenaline.  This adrenalin, when released frequently or for a prolonged period of time results in different kinds of physical and emotional symptoms.

Physical symptoms may include forms of skin diseases, frequent infections, asthma, fever, sleep disorders, headaches and stomach aches.

Behavioral changes include, irritability, aggression, frustration, boredom and disobeying parental instructions.  Symptoms of sever stress can include isolation tendencies, feeling confused or guilty and lying without reason.

In some cases children who are subjected to extreme stress will suffer what is known as PTSD, (post-traumatic stress disorder).

In the case of Junior Master Chef, the associated stress caused from fame gained, continually being in the spotlight and either failing or winning can have detrimental effects on these children, from low-self esteem, withdrawing from family activities to performing poorly in their academic careers.

Staring in a reality television show would mean that these children have to repress certain feelings.  Their parents would be pushing them to do better and to produce fantastic results.  Failing would mean letting themselves down, their family, their friends, fans and their mentors down. 

The associated guilt, self reprimands and self-loathing can have some serious effects on the child and if expressed continually, will eventually have the child believing these negative self-affirmations.

Fast-forward a few years where in Hollywood, some childhood stars have succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism.  This does not mean that all child contestants will go down this path, however as a parent it is better to be informed when it comes to the dangers of childhood stress.

If your child is in a situation that is causing stress, take note of how to alleviate and eliminate this stress.  Provide a supportive and welcoming environment and keep the communication channels open at all times.  If at any time you are concerned about your child’s behavior, react by talking with them and suggesting further counseling if the need arises.

~ Vanessa


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We should do this more often, eh?

So the other day I was sitting in the airport lounge – I had about a 6-hour layover in Vancouver before I could catch my flight back home to Australia.  The airport lounge was empty, save for me and one other gentleman whom I just spotted walking in. 

He walked in, looked around and then must have thought there was a line up – he sat one chair apart from me!  Did I say gentleman?  I retract that statement forthwith, how on earth could he possibly be a gentleman when he invaded my personal space just like that?

Of course I had my laptop on my lap (it’s called a laptop, right?).  I was doing “stuff”, while “invasion” was breathing my air.

What is it with people who have no concept of personal space?  I shudder to think.

He really upset my equilibrium.  Sadly, I couldn’t focus.  My air was being diminished, right?  He sat there comfortably doing “stuff” on his laptop, while I surreptitiously checked him out with my peripheral vision.

He seemed to be engrossed in his “work” – yeah right.  I got up to fetch myself another glass of wine – they don’t serve champagne in the first class lounge, go figure… 

Weird, you know that feeling you get when you know that someone is staring at you (your ass in particular), I was swiftly walking along to the wine cabinet when I realized I could feel the eyes on my behind.  Suddenly I struggled to get my “sway” right.  Don’t you hate that?

Sway, sway, miss a beat, sway… damn, sometimes I walk like a drunk woman – I swear it’s the new runners I was wearing.  I kid you not those shoes are the new design that are meant to give you a full workout while you walk.  It’s recommended that you only wear them for a short while every day – I wear them ALL day.  Still waiting for the effect to take place – EXCUSE ME, it’s been a month already, what am I missing?

Anyway, so I get my wine and I sidle back to my chair and dumbnuts is still sitting right there in my personal space.  It even looks like he could be “with” me.  WTF?  Surely I have the right to choose my “partner in crime”?  But oblivious to everything, he continues to sit there and breathe my air.

A sip of wine, some Dutch courage and I turn to stare at him – only for a moment.  Then I sigh and sink back into my chair, he refuses to take a hint.  I’m now convinced he’s a computer geek.  He has no interest in me, just that blasted computer.
Now I feel deprived.  How dare he sit so close, breathing my air with no intension of striking up a conversation?  After all, we are sharing air aren’t we? 

Sip of wine, heavy sigh, back to computer “stuff”.  

I’m on the road again!

~Vanessa

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gananoque - 1001 Islands, one of Canada's Finest


Island hopping in the famous 1000 Islands in Canada’s East is fun and romantic and a great place for a honeymoon!

For those looking for a quiet, tranquil holiday, I’ve found just the place for you!  Gananoque.    Situated on Lake Ontario in Canada, Gananoque is one of the most picturesque destinations in the world.  While travelling in Canada, I chose to stay at the Gananoque Inn and Spa, which is situated between Toronto and Montreal, near Kingston, Ontario, only 9 minutes from the US border.

The town, named Gananoque is of Indian origin.  Gananoque translated, means "the place of health" or "the place where water runs over the rocks". 

Historians postulate that many years ago the Indians used to make their way down the Ganagoque River to the St Lawrence River.  There they would be blessed with fresh air and clean water, and it is said that this is how the name originated.

The Gananoque Inn and Spa was founded in 1870.  Its location is in the midst of the Thousand Islands, where the world renowned Thousand Islands Salad dressing originated.

There is a lot to do.  Enjoy a day out on one of the cruises around the Thousand Islands on the Gananoque Boat Line or visit the Thousand Islands Playhouse theatre.  For those who enjoy something a little more stimulating, the Thousand Islands Charity Casino is within walking distance, and for those who enjoy activities, why not try your hand at a game of golf?

The highlight certainly is taking a 1 hour or 3 hour boat trip around the islands.  The Gananoque Boat Lines operate between May and October every year and the cost of a trip is between $25 and $40 per person per trip.

I took a trip to Heart Island, which houses the famous Boldt Castle.  George Boldt, the millionaire and proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, set out to build a full sized Rhineland Castle in Alexandria Bay as a show of his love for his wife Louise.

Unfortunately this castle was never completed by Boldt because in 1904, Louise passed away suddenly.  Boldt consequently never returned to the Castle, but left it untouched as a monument of his love for Louise.

In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and decided to preserve the Castle for the enjoyment of future generations.  Since the acquisition of this property, several million dollars has been poured into the restoration and rehabilitation of the structures.

Although the island is situated on the Gananoque River, it is US owned, so if you intend visiting the island to do a Castle tour, be sure to take your passport with you because there is a customs office situated at the castle entrance.

The boat staff is very friendly and if you are interested in learning how to make the famous Thousand Island Salad Dressing, and hear how it originated, make sure you take a pen and notepad along with you.  There may also be a possibility that you will meet like minded people whom you’d want to stay in contact with after the boat ride, so be prepared.

Hot beverages and snacks are available on the boat at a minimal cost.

When going on a boat trip be sure to take a warm jacket, sunscreen, and a camera.  There will be lots to take photographs of, and lots to learn.

Once back on shore, there are a couple of gift shops where one can purchase mementoes from your trip.  On warm days there’s a gelato shop for one keen on life’s little delicacies.

The best time to visit is around September/October which is the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and a wonderful time of year to catch the Indian summer – which is when all the leaves of the deciduous trees change colour to a deep rich red.

Room rates at the Gananoque Inn and Spa start from just $90 Canadian per couple per night for a standard double room.  Packages are available and start from $245.00 for two nights, including two breakfasts and dinner at Muskie Jakes restaurant.  Gift certificates are also available on request.

Qantas departs from Sydney, Perth and Brisbane to Ottawa and costs in the region of $4500 per person return.  Hertz and Avis run specials throughout the year and hiring a vehicle is a great idea so that you can stop to admire the scenery along the way.

For hotel enquiries, contact the hotel direct at (1) 613 382 2165 or email them at:  info@gananoqueinn.com.  For details on the Gananoque boat lines, visit: www.ganboatline.com.


~ Vanessa

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Acupuncture Pressure Points


I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Acupuncture Points on the Feet



Imagine that!  The feet seem to be the eyes into the body's problematic areas.  Looking at the image above, I have a renewed respect for my feet - they carry the answers to that missing link question.  

Next time you have an unexplained pain somewhere in your body, I suggest you analyse your feet first, this may provide an answer as to what the cause could be and then all you have to do is take your silly little self off to the doctor and tell him/her what your problem is and demand the right meds.  Or perhaps go to a reflexologist, I hear they do wonders too.

Never be afraid to go down the alternative medical route.  I believe in trying out different forms of treatment when the conventional ones don't work. 

Remember, your body is the most important thing in your life and if you don't look after it, you're going down a one way hill to meet your maker (probably prematurely).

~  Vanessa





Saturday, June 5, 2010

Watch Out For Those Toxins!

The three most dangerous poisons known to man just so happen to be something we deal with and consume almost on a daily basis.

I talk of none other than:

1.            Mercury
2.            Bisphenol A (BPA) and
3.            Insecticides

Mercury is one of the most poisonous substances known to man.  It is colourless, odourless and tasteless and can only be seen as a vapour under a black light.  It occurs naturally and is a refined form of Cinnabar.

Mercury is used in different forms in society – from household products such as thermometers to paints, batteries and alarmingly 50% of amalgam dental fillings is mercury!

Mercury poisoning occurs when the body has been exposed to too much of the poison.  The problem with mercury is that it is destructive to the immune system and therefore causes many unrelated diseases, leading doctors down the wrong pathway since they are trying to heal the disease without knowing the original cause.

Causes of Mercury Poisoning

The biggest cause of Mercury poisoning results from amalgam dental fillings and the second biggest cause is from eating fish.

Mercury pollution is released into the air from the burning of fossil fuels. It falls down directly into waterways or is deposited on land where it can be washed into the water.  Bacteria in the water cause chemical changes that transform mercury into a highly toxic form - methylmercury.  Methylmercury accumulates in fish, with larger fish generally accumulating higher levels of methylmercury.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning in humans

·      Impairment of the peripheral vision
·      Disturbances in sensations ("pins and needles" feelings, numbness) usually in the hands, feet and sometimes around the mouth
·      Lack of coordination of movements, such as writing
·      Impairment of speech, hearing, walking;
·      Muscle weakness
·      Skin rashes
·      Mood swing
·      Memory loss
·      Mental disturbance

Fish Lowest in Mercury & Highest in Mercury

Herrings and sardines have much less mercury than other fish.  The fish that are highest in mercury levels are Ahi Tuna, Swordfish and Tilefish.  It takes 6 months of not eating any fish to get the mercury out of your system.  Salmon has the lowest mercury level in them and is therefore the healthier choice.
It is important to note that fish is very high in Omega 3 and is therefore a healthy choice, so don’t stop eating it, limit the amount you eat per week and try to select smaller fish rather than the bigger ones.  Larger fish contain greater levels of mercury.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

This controversial chemical is used to make many hard plastic toys, bottles and food containers.  It is also found in drink cans and the tins storing tin food.

Why is BPA a concern to human health?

Scientific studies show that BPA can play havoc with hormones. The chemical is associated with adverse health effects: prostate and breast cancer, immune system dysfunction, early puberty in females, and higher rates of miscarriage.

When polycarbonate containers, including bottles are heated and/or exposed to detergents/scrubbing the bonds degrade and BPA is able to leach out.

BPA is found in polycarbonate, clear plastics and are used in the resins that line canned foods.  If you open a canned food item, and you look inside of the can, you sometimes see a shiny white coating – this is BPA.  Almost everyone has some level of BPA in their blood stream.  BPA leads to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and fertility issues in animals.  You can identify if a plastic container contains BPA sometimes by looking for a recycling triangle with the number 7 inside of it and the letters “PC” (which stands for polycarbonate) next to it.  The lower the number the more toxic the poison.  If there is no label, and the product is in a clear hard plastic, then you should switch to another product.  And of course, do not ever microwave food in plastic containers.

Avoid BPA - Bisphenol A in Canned Foods

Try doing without canned foods and replacing them with fresh or frozen foods.  Instead of juice in cans, get juice boxes.  Instead of cans, look for products in glass.  Maybe soon the FDA will ban BPA and we can go back to having canned foods… although with all of the salt and preservatives in canned foods, it is probably healthiest to eat fresh or frozen foods no matter what.

Pesticides

Pesticides often have neurotoxins that are directly toxic.  If kids have higher levels of pesticides, they tend to have an increased risk of ADD and learning problems.  A study was done where they took two groups of animals and fed them the same amount of food, gave them the same amount of exercise, and the only difference is that one group got a little bit of pesticides in their food.  The group that got the pesticides gained 10% more weight in abdominal fat.  If that does not convince you to change over to organic fruits and vegetables, which greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides, then I don’t know what will.

The Most Important Organic Fruit & Vegetable: Apple & Potato

If we could only buy one organic fruit or vegetable, what should we pick?  Organic apples, because apples are the number 2 most popular fruit in America, even though strawberries for example have a higher percentage of pesticides in them than apples.  And if you can only buy one type of organic vegetable, buy organic potatoes, because the pesticides get both onto the inside and the skin of the potato.

~ Vanessa

Friday, May 21, 2010

Xbox and the Beta Brain

There are many merits to Xbox, but there are also quite a few reasons why such a pleasurable game can be so detrimental to our younger generation.

What is the Beta Brain?

Firstly we need to understand that the brain operates on 4 different frequency levels, namely; Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.

The Beta brain wave has the highest frequency between 13 and 40 cycles per second. This is associated with our normal waking state. Beta helps in logical thinking, analysis and active attention function. Stress could throw the frequency to the higher beta range.
Alpha brain wave operates between 8 and 13 cycles per second. This occurs during daydreaming, fantasizing and creative visualization. This is often associated with a deeply relaxed state and meditation.
Theta operates between 4 and 8 cycles per second. Theta is associated with intuition, otherwise known as 'sixth sense' and allows us to access our subconscious. It is activated during dreaming, sleeping and deep meditation states. Theta is also associated with creative thinking, and allows us to tap into our inner genius.
Delta has the lowest frequency between 0.5 and 4 cycles per second. Delta is produced during deep sleep.

So agree with me here; the Beta brain is the one used when we need to react quickly to something, like someone throwing a ball at us, or chasing after a Frisbee.  It’s also the part of the brain that is activated when kids play Xbox or similar computer games, and in particular when kids are gaming, their brains are operating at an even higher frequency cycle due to the associated stress and reaction time required to focus on these games.  Essentially they are developing their Beta Brain.

Years ago we used to complain that video or television games were bad for our kids because they encouraged them to sit on the sofa for an insurmountable amount of time, with the only exercises they got being hand movements.  The drive was to remove the kids from in front of the television or the computer and to get them outdoors to play these games for their health and of course exercises.

Recently a study came out suggesting that these games were in fact not such a bad idea for kids because they encouraged the beta brain to develop.  By encouraging the use of the beta brain one is able to speed it up and thus gain faster mental reaction and process.  Great, wouldn’t you agree?  Indeed.  However there seems to have been one very important factor missing in deriving from this conclusion.

While Xbox games and others are great for our beta brain, they are detrimental when it comes to creating a good conscience, moral fiber and the ability to know the difference between right and wrong.

Xbox encourages kids (and some adults) to react extremely quickly without though process and without conscience.  Thus when it comes to a game of shooting the enemy the player will react and shoot immediately without thinking of the consequences.  This is fine if these learning’s weren’t translated into our personality.

However, children’s immature brains do not have the ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy and therefore when shooting and killing the enemy on a regular basis or from a young age, the child becomes accustomed to reacting in this way without thinking of the consequences.

It would appear that we are creating a society with an infantile brain.  The person who spends a significant amount of time “gaming” has a world characteristically filled with violence without empathy and behaviors without consequences.

There’s no mystery as to why these bad behaviors become learned and transferred to the real world.  These people’s brains are being bombarded with violent images, sounds and compelling action.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as parents it is our responsibility to limit our children’s time spent playing such games.  There’s a healthy medium and one needs to tap into the good before it becomes a racquet. 

We should, however be concerned about the possibility of a brain-damaged generation of children.  A combination of late nights, video gaming and junk food is a lethal combination.

~  Vanessa

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Francisco Book Festival Award

We flew back into Yellowknife from San Francisco last night – arrived here at 11 PM.  Only got to bed after 1 am – after unpacking and cleaning up.  This morning I was up at 6 am again and then at 7.30 am I  realized that I’m a total idiot and that no one knows that I’m not asleep but sitting with bags under my eyes and dragging my frail body all over the house that I climbed back into my made up bed and slept until almost 11 am!  Not that this has made any difference to how I am feeling right now, and 6 cups of coffee hasn’t even given me the buzz I so badly need.  So I’m zombifying behind my computer with my eyes the size of saucers, road maps lining the whites in a delicate blood red and thinking of absolutely nothing – I can sooo get away with that, being blond and all.

 San Francisco was fantastic, we have both been there before and loved it last time too.  The awards ceremony was equally good.  I was so touched and honoured.  It was such a surreal moment for me.  On Friday night I was told that I have to say a speech when I go up to receive my award, which set panic in motion and the only way to calm my nerves was to drink heaps of alcohol.  My Saturday morning hang over was testimony to a wild Friday night.  The ceremony itself was great, I met many like minded people – some not so like minded and some air heads, but all in all it was great.  I was the second person called up and although Kim said my speech was fantastic, I thought it was all gobbaldy gook.  I managed to talk for about 7 minutes (you can’t stop me when I get going).

We spent Saturday walking around San Fran – if you are really clever, you can select the roads that don’t go over the hills and just walk around – your walk is longer but less tiring.  We walked down to the piers and then walked all along the water front to Pier 39.  There we caught a sight-seeing bus that lasted 2 hours.  It took us to all the famous land marks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, where I could get some really lovely photographs.  The weather was cool, so be warned when you go... Otherwise be prepared to buy yourself one of those $19.95 reversible jackets at the tourist shops (been there done that.  TWICE).  We went to some lovely restaurants, ate like pigs (sorry pigs - not your fault) but loved it.  It was unfortunate that our trip was so short because there was so much more that we’d love to have done but didn’t have enough time for.



My week in Vancouver was also great.  It was much warmer than Yellowknife, so it was a welcome change. I managed to do all the things I wanted to do.  I went shopping, went shopping and on the occasional day I went shopping!  I also went for walks - one morning I got up really early and decided to go for a walk around Stanley Park with my camera.  The beginning was great, but after walking for 3 hours I was already exhausted.   I spent the entire day walking – 7 hours of it!  Not by arrangement, but rather by accident.  I realized that I had gone far too far in one direction and it would take me longer to get back if I turned around so I decided to use my internal GPS to take a short cut back.  Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be so short and eventually I was quite lost.  I was already exhausted after 3 hours of walking, so you can imagine how bad 7 hours were.  When I got back to my hotel room I was totally drained.  I lay on the couch in the lounge room and it took me 20 minutes before I could sit up again to take my shoes off.  Needless to say I didn’t make the mistake again.


I saw a raccoon while I was out walking....  I was quite a distance from him but saw him climbing out of the sea and walking between the rocks to the sea wall.  At first I wasn't sure what it was, it looked a bit like a goose but it's gait was rather different so I turned around and walked closer to see what it was.  He walked up to the sea wall and along it and I walked up to the stairs going down to the beach when he turned round, spotted me and then came after me.  He was not aggressive in any way, but because this is the first time I have ever seen one, I was cautious.  He walked right up to me with his big eyes and I backtracked until I was out of his way, then he walked past me and into the bushes behind the sea wall.  What a beautiful little fella he was.


Now back to the grindstone and life as it always is...


~ Vanessa



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Totally Enthralled


How wonderful to have heard that my book, Diamonds, Gold and Ice Road Truckers has received an honorably mention and that I’ve been invited to the awards ceremony on Saturday 16 May.

The fortunate thing is that I am on my way to Vancouver for a week – as I type this – so the flight from Vancouver to San Francisco will only be a further 2 hours flight!   Who would have thought….

So I’m sat in the business lounge at the Edmonton Airport right now, waiting for my flight to Vancouver.  Why is it that the business lounges in Canada offer such awful stuff to eat?  I say “stuff” because I guarantee you that one can never call what I’ve put into my mouth so far food. 

It is highly annoying especially in the light that I fly business class and such flights cost a fortune.  The flight from Yellowknife to Edmonton has no business class seats so even though I’ve paid a fortune to get to Vancouver on “business class”, I sit in cattle class because the whole plane is cattle class… and, I might add… if I wanted to have any food I’d have to pay for it!  Nothing for nothing, hey.

Then to make matters worse, I get to the business lounge only to discover that the stuff put out on the counter is not fit for human consumption and besides that, who eats lettuce leaves with a glass of wine or beer?

It’s annoying to say the least, but that aside – because I won’t allow them to make me angry when I’m in a very excited mood…. Here I am on my way to Vancouver for a week of shopping, eating out and photography!

I wonder what order I should do all these wonderful tasks?  I guess eating is what I have to do first and last every day, right?  So that leaves photography and shopping… perhaps I will get a bit of exercises first by taking my camera for a walk every day and exercising it, then I can hit the shops to spoil myself for the lack of decent shopping facilities in Yellowknife.

It’s going to be awesome having the only stress of having to decide whether I should eat scallops for dinner or have some oysters… drink one glass of wine or two…. Take 100 photographs a day or 1000…. Buy one book to read or a suitcase full…..

Decisions, decisions… I’m already stressed!

Until the next installment…   Bon au revoir

~ Vanessa

Friday, May 7, 2010

Things to Ponder and Other Wise Cracks

If you take a look at the side bar of my blog, you will notice two very succinct boxes with quotes in them.  “Funny Things to Ponder” and “Wisdom Quotes” .

These are particularly interesting for me; since this is the first thing I read whenever I log in.  I am always curious to see what those are, since they change every time one logs in.  This morning the following was listed: Funny Things to Ponder ~ If cheese is made of milk why is it Yellow? And Wisdom Quotes ~ A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

I particularly like both of these quotes, which is why I’ve chosen to write about them.

Why indeed does cheese have different colours?  The simple answer is this: It's orange because they dye it orange. You knew this, of course. The question really should be, Why orange as opposed to, say, a nice taupe? As near as cheese historians can make out, the practice originated many years ago in England.  Those poms can be an astute bunch, don't you think?

Milk contains varying amounts of beta-carotene, the yellow-orange stuff found in carrots and other vegetables. Milk from pasture-fed cows has higher beta-carotene levels in the spring and summer, when the cows are munching on fresh grass, and lower levels during the fall and winter, when they're eating hay. Thus the natural color of the cheese varies over the course of a year.   (Now will everyone get off my case about not eating vegetables?  Clearly you can see there’s a huge quantity of the good stuff in cheese – and I eat heaps of this)

Anyway, so cheese makers began adding coloring agents. Nowadays the most common of these is annatto, a yellow-red dye made from the seeds of a tree of the same name. Dyeing the cheese eliminated seasonal color fluctuations and also played to the fact (or anyway the belief) that spring/summer milk had a higher butterfat content than the fall/winter kind and thus produced more flavorful cheese. Figuring if yellow = good, orange = better, some cheese makers began ladling in the annatto in double handfuls, producing cheese that looked like something you'd want to carve into a jack-o'-lantern.

In recent years some smaller operations have rebelled and stopped using colorants. Be forewarned--according to one cheese making text, uncolored cheese is a "sordid, unappetizing melange of dirty yellow." But at least it's real.

Now for my take on the Wisdom Quote…. You remember of course when your children were born – or if you don’t have any children, you will remember hearing a little child’s inquiring mind ticking away every time s/he asked a question like “Why are the clouds white?” “Where do birds come from?” etc.  At times like these it is wise to use prudent thought processes before answering the questions….  Imagine if kids thought carefully before asking most questions?  I wonder if they would arrive at a better conclusion and therefore be able to ask a more prudent question, like for instance “if clouds are a build-up of evaporated water or humidity held up in suspension in the air, then what is the process that takes place for those clouds to transform from clouds to water dropping down onto the land?”

It’s a whole new topic for investigation, however it has been thought of from a different angle – in fact there has been thought process involved in the question… a simple question like why are clouds white has no thought whatsoever behind it and deserves one good answer:  “I don’t know.”  Why bother answering it if there was never any thought behind the question in the first instance.  Perhaps a rhetorical question is better to use in an answer:  “That’s a very interesting question, why do you think the clouds are white?”

Makes for an interesting conversation and debate!

So why are clouds white? In much the same way as why skies are blue, clouds are white because their water droplets or ice crystals are large enough to scatter the light of the seven wavelengths (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet), which combine to produce white light. Clouds will appear dark or gray when either they are in another clouds shadow or the top of a cloud casts a shadow upon its own base.
The darkness of a cloud also depends on the background sky. A cloud will look darker when it is surrounded by a bright sky and lighter when it is in front of darker ones. Not always will a dark cloud mean rain.
More often, the reason we experience dark rainy days is because clouds are blocking the sunlight. Some of the whitest, most pure light can be observed when dark clouds "break apart" and sunlight filters through.

I could go on forever, but I reckon I have to stop at some stage.  I think I deserve a chocolate now, don’t you?

~ Vanessa