The Invisible Novelist


It’s Finger Licking Good and I’m Lovin’ It …

By Michelle Dennison / Julianne AlcottSome of the children at my school asked me to put up a display in my library on fast foods. I thought it would be an interesting topic to do, and something that would benefit them in their everyday life.

I mean, we all know the stories about fast food. It’s high in sugar and trans fats. It’s deep fried and liable to cause clogged arteries. Fast foods have been tagged as being responsible for obesity, and
increased diabetes in children especially.

My research has taken me from the websites of the various restaurants to criticisms of their menus. I have studied some of the controversies, and tried to ponder the relationship between kilojoules and calories.

The last point is going to take a few more hours of brain power before I fully understand the concept. Kilojoules are what energy from food is measured in, and calories have something to do with exercise.

I have been comparing Big Macs and Rounders. Twisters and Subways. Debonairs vs Scooters.

McDonalds has been the most helpful company so far. Go into their website and click on any of their menu items and you are shown information on kilojoules, sodium content and saturated fats level. They also give out a tray liner that shows these facts as well.

Fast food is never going to be as healthy as homemade meals we make from fresh ingredients and few preservatives, but we can make healthier choices for those times when we absolutely have to have fast food.

And be careful… Sometimes what seems like a healthier choice is actually worse. For instance, the Grilled Chicken Foldover has a higher kilojoule level, more fat and more sodium than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

And the internet itself is a collection of contradictions. Just take the McBurger that lasted for a year on a shelf and didn’t grow mould. People freaked out when they read this article.

“What kind of preservatives does this food have in it? What is it doing to our children?”

But if you search a bit further, you read about someone who decided to do this experiment objectively. So they put a Mc Burger and a homemade free range mince burger on the same shelf.

And neither of them grew mould…

Not even the homemade-with-no-preservatives burger. The conditions were too dry for mould to grow, and the burgers simply lost water and dessicated. Put the similar burgers into a sealed plastic bag and the mould had a fat happy party all over the meat and roll.

So that sensational discovery kind of lost its oomph.

And no one can blame fast food restaurants for unhealthy lifestyles. KFC doesn’t employ people to force feed customers until they are about to pop.

One has to take responsibility for ones own health, and make sure we eat the right foods and exercise properly.

According to the exercise site, Endomondo, I have done 23 hours of exercise and have managed to burn off 14 burgers

Keep in Touch


by Penny M

I decided that there was far more I wanted to learn about the power of touch. In life, I have progressed from treating the hugs of strangers with a certain amount of distrust to the realisation that a hug can bring healing. I have hugged and been hugged into a bucket full of friendship.

An article by Roger Dobson in the Health & Families section of Health News, 10 October 2006, reported on experiments conducted by Jim Coan, Neuroscientist at Virginia University. Mr Coan ‘noted that the touch of husbands and wives reduced activity in the areas of the brains involved in fear, danger, and threat. It’s the first study of the brain’s reactions to human touch in a threatening situation, and the first to measure how the brain is involved in the health enhancing properties of close social relationships … Other research findings hint that, not only does touch lower stress levels, but it can boost the immune system and halt or slow the progress of disease.Picture

The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, School of Medicine says it has carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including ‘… improved immune systems in people with cancer.’

I am currently a guest in a home where an uninvited one took up residence several years ago and was recently discovered and served notice. There is nothing welcome about cancer. Amidst the anguish, pain and trauma, precious people are at work touching lives. They are doing what they can do, and it is amazing.

I have learnt that there are teams who have dedicated themselves to hug children with cancer. Suddenly the biblical promise that, ‘they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,’ makes physical sense. Could it be that people are rediscovering the value of what the faithful have known through the ages? Touch brings healing.

I once was the recipient of a flask of chicken soup when I confessed to being a victim of earthly elements. I’m not sure if it was the ingredients of the warming gruel or the pat of kindness that made me feel better and accelerated my recovery.

As with everything, there is a downside. Touch has to be loving and conveyed within relationship, or with deliberate and innocent purpose. Perhaps the world’s gradual avoidance of physical touch as a means of healing and love is due to the abhorrence of devious abuse. The power of touch and the desire for it is sometimes so strong that its purpose has been distorted. Touch should be handled with care as with the other four senses. It should bring healing, not harm.

When the power of words is lost, a hug is the answer to prayer.

Country Heart

By Sue Trollip

When I was 18 I moved to the city. The lure of the action, the noise and the lights thrilled me. For years I had longed for the opportunity to do something, anything, after closing time, but in a small town, and I’m talking half a tumbleweed town here, everything shuts down at 5pm for the night, even the DVD shop. I could not wait for the incoming blast of excitement.For the first few years I lived in the centre of town and while it scared my country girl heart it thrilled every other part of me. Trying to fit into my new world and to keep up with all that was happening there was no time left to worry about where I lived. From my window I could see the stray cats in the alley way, the shops, the people and the streets that never seemed to grow quiet.

Later, I moved a couple of blocks away from the heart of the city into a flat with a view of walls, cars and people. I got a job and some responsibilities and life was still exciting. I could go out for ice cream at 9pm or to a movie on my way home from work. It was the ability to be spontaneous that gripped me so, but somewhere deep inside I felt caged. I longed for grass and a view with some distance.

Slowly, over the years, I moved further up the hill away from the city and while I haven’t yet made it to a suburb, I have graduated to a view. It’s a magnificent view of the ocean, the horizon, the blue world that does not end. My windows face east and there is nothing quite as spectacular as watching the sun peep over the horizon and turn the black world indigo, pink, orange, violet and red before the day begins. I also have a priceless front row seat when the storms hit. I love the noise of the cars slushing by, the windows rattling, the world shimmering as the rain thunders down. Afterwards everything is clean, the green bits glower and the white buildings gleam as the sky clears and normality ensues.

The odd thing is that even with the horizon filling an entire wall of my abode that caged feeling occasionally resurfaces. A short term solution is to find the botanical gardens, take off my shoes and smell the flowers. A better answer is to pack my bags and head to the country for the weekend. There I breathe in the dusty roads, listen to the birds and at night I lie in bed feeling the heavy darkness of the world without streetlights. I look out the window at a sky full of stars while contemplating the screaming silence of the countryside.

While I wouldn’t swop my city life, with movies, the theatre, cafes, late nightcafes, bookshops,  people, lights, bustle and noise, it’s clear that part of my roots are still vested in the country, and I haveno problem with that.

Sun rise