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… And Then You Die: Hazel Rowley (1951-2011)

March 21, 2011

Tags: order, … And Then You Die: Hazel Rowley (1951-2011), Australia, Beauvoir – Simone de (1908-1986), biographer, black male, cello, Depression – Great, endocarditis, feminism, Franklin and Eleanor, London, memorial, Mendelssohn - Felix (1809-1847), Native Son, Paris, New York, promiscuity, race, Recession – Great, relationship, Roosevelt – Eleanor (1884-1962), Roosevelt – Franklin (1882-1945), Rowley - Hazel (1951-2011), Sartre – Jean-Paul (1905-1980), sex, Songs Without Words, Stead – Christina (1902-1983), stroke, Tête à Tête, The Man Who Loved Children, white woman, Wright – Richard (1908-1960), writer

Hazel Rowley (1951 - 2011)
A few weeks ago I had chosen this title for a blog entry because I wanted to tell (again!) how short and precious life is. Then I had no inkling that my friend Hazel Rowley would die in New York on March 1st, unexpectedly.

Hazel was a fellow writer and biographer. Only last fall, her new Roosevelt biography had come out: “Franklin and Eleanor” - a book that I couldn’t put down, reading till late in the night. In November, on her birthday, I met her for the last time. She was full of sparkle and wit, and doubts and insecurities, and dazzling intelligence; nobody would have foreseen her sudden death.

When I asked her if she was planning another couple’s book (before “Eleanor and Franklin” she had done Sartre and de Beauvoir in “Tête à Tête”, she laughed and said that she was done probing deeply into the relationships of people. She had found lasting love and felt secure in it, ready to probe other issues. She said the McCarthy era interested her.

The period between book projects is always a brittle time for a writer. In short order, the love fell apart, a resistant bug settled on her heart, little pieces of the infectious growth broke lose, settling in her brain, and putting her into a coma, from which she, mercifully, never awoke – Hazel Rowley would not have wanted to live with half a brain.

Born in London, raised in Australia and England, she roamed the world – in Paris she lived for nearly two years - before settling in New York early in the millennium. When Hazel was young, Simone de Beauvoir had become her hero: a woman who wrote about women’s disadvantages in a male world, and who opened new paths for women of our generation; Hazel wanted to be where Simone de Beauvoir was: an woman writer, and an equal partner in a lasting relationship.

Christina Stead was Hazel Rowley’s first subject. Stead had made child abuse the subject of an autobiographical novel – in 1940! Christina Stead was a fellow Australian; her American publishers famously – or notoriously – made her set her novel “The Man Who Loved Children” in America. Hazel felt kinship to her lonely compatriot, a writer, a woman with a complicated love life, a woman often on the edge of society. And a woman who carved out for herself an independent literary existence – even before de Beauvoir.

Hazel’s second biography took on the black author of “Native Son,” Richard Wright, who in his life found no real home and only scattered success, ending up (and dying) in Paris, much too young. This is the only book by Hazel Rowley I haven’t yet read; I assume it was Simone de Beauvoir who directed Hazel to this American expatriate writer in whom de Beauvoir was greatly interested. But think: A young, rather unknown Australian white woman writing about an American black man – how dare she?!

Paris is also the setting of Hazel Rowley’s third book “Tête-à-tête”, the book about Sartre and de Beauvoir’s relationship. The two famous writers don’t get away scotch-free – this reader felt rather repulsed by their sexual predatory shenanigans. But as Simone de Beauvoir had been the one who showed us that traditional women’s roles were not written in stone, Hazel Rowley wanted to know if promiscuous sexuality would be worthwhile and livable - if you ask me: no - exploring the Sartre/de Beauvoir relationship objectively, without taking sides.

Her new book “Franklin and Eleanor,” probed another famous relationship. To me the book seemed especially timely, because the Roosevelt’s Great Depression and the present Great Recession share some commonalities, which takes the book to a higher level than even “just” being about male-female relationships. Eleanor Roosevelt had built a public and private life for which she had no role models – she did it with what was given her: her wit, her caring, her curiosity.

Neither Simone nor Eleanor were abstract feminists or men haters. On the contrary, men were invited into their lives. But they never gave up being a person and pursuing their own goals in life.

At her memorial in New York recently, so many people spoke eloquently about Hazel’s wonderful, bright presence – she had nothing lukewarm about her. Unable to speak in tongues myself, I played “Songs Without Words” by Mendelssohn for Hazel – badly, as always – but she would have wanted me not to chicken out.

Hazel had many more books in her, it was so clear – how I wish she had more time! (more…)

Tea Tree Oil

July 15, 2010

Tags: herbs, abrasion, absorption, acne, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anxiety, aromatherapy, athlete's foot, Australia, bacteria, blackheads, burns, Candida, chickenpox, cineol(e), cold sore, comedones, dandruff, deodorant, eczema, estrogenic effect, exhaustion, First Aid kit, fungi, gingivitis, hang nail, hearing loss, hemorrhoids - external, herpes, insect bite, insect repellent, itch, jock itch, lice, Malassezia furfur, Melaleuca alternifolia, mites, migraine, Mother Nature, mouthwash, mucosa, myrtle family, odor - feet, pimples, peridontitis, Pityrosporum ovale, ringworm, scabies, shingles, skin conditions, skin infection, sore throat, soul balm, staph, Staphylococcus aureus, sunburn, tea oil, tea tree oil, Tea Tree Oil, toe nail fungus, toothpaste, toxicity, trauma - psychological, vaginal candidiasis, virus, warts, whiteheads

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a drug that would work against bacteria, viruses, and fungi?

We have that drug – brought to us by Mother Nature: Tea tree oil.

The oil from the leaves of the small Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia of the myrtle family provides us with an essential oil that works against all kinds of germs. Don’t confuse it with “tea oil” which comes in big bottles and is used for cooking purposes. Unfortunately, only on the outside. Taken internally, it is rather toxic and can be fatal.

But for all kinds of skin conditions, it is perfect. Nearly perfect – because, rarely, some people develop allergies and then should not use tea tree oil any longer. Usually tea tree oil does not irritate the skin. But if you experience increased redness after application, the possibility of an allergy needs to be considered; another possibility would be a worsening infection.

The offending ingredient that leads to allergies is cineol(e). A good (and rather expensive) tea tree oil contains five or less percent of cineol; cheaper varieties can have up to sixty percent. If a brand does not list the cineol content, it should not be trusted.

Tea tree oil belongs in every First Aid kit as an all-round antiseptic. Use it mostly as iodine was used in the past. It acts anti-inflammatory and healing on the skin. In minute doses, it is said to stimulate the immune system – but this is definitely not a substance I would ingest. Keep it away from children and pets!

Don’t use on the mucosa of your private parts or in your eyes! Tea tree oil has some estrogenic effects, so don’t use it on your breasts. In males, especially boys: Don’t overuse it – because of its estrogen effect! – In rare cases, it can aggravate eczema. There is one report of hearing loss after application of tea tree oil in the ear; don’t try this!

• Bacteria: Infected hang nails, pimples, abrasions, staphylococcus aureus (even against resistant staph). If the area is not too large. In large wounds there is the danger of absorption and internal toxicity. In most skin conditions, it is applied several times per day with a Q-tip.
• In acne it helps to add five drops onto a moist face cloth. Rub the skin gently. Don’t get it into your eyes (and eliminating all dairy products might even do more against acne than tea tree oil).
• Viruses: Cold sores, external herpes blisters, chickenpox, shingles.
• Fungi: Athlete’s foot (applied twice a day, it even kills toe nail fungus!), jock itch, ringworm.
• Lice: Rub scalp with tea tree oil.
• Mites (scabies): Apply to affected areas.
• Comedones (blackheads): Dab on black dot several times until it disappears. Works also on whiteheads.
• Dandruff (Pityrosporum ovale, Malassezia furfur): Add a few drops to your shampoo.
• Mild burns and sunburns: It relieves the pain.
• Sore throat: One drop tea tree oil to one glass of water. Gargle – but don’t swallow.
• Insect bites: a drop takes a way the itch and starts the healing process.
• Tea tree oil also repels insects. Unfortunately, it is rather expensive for that purpose.
• Itches: Try tea tree oil on minor itches. For severe and prolonged itches, you better see your physician.
• Sweaty, smelly feet: Apply a few drops of tea tree oil after washing with soap and rinsing. Again: A change in diet (no dairy, sugar, bad fats, less meats; more vegetables) might get to the root of the problem.
• Mouthwash: One drop per glass of water helps gingivitis and peridontitis.
• Toothpaste may contain tea tree oil because of its anti-bacterial effects. You can also put one drop of tea tree oil on your regular toothpaste and brush with this.
• Tea tree oil is also used in natural deodorants.
• Hemorrhoids (external only).
• Vaginal candidiasis: Because you don’t want it too strong at that area, only use commercially available vaginal suppositories.
• Warts: Since warts are caused by virus, one can try tea tree oil – but I have never used it for that purpose and have no experience with it.
• Aromatherapy: a tiny drop goes a very long way. Tea tree oil is thought to be “soul balm,” healing psychological traumas, and helps against anxieties, increases confidence and helps when one is exhausted and discouraged. Some migraine sufferers are helped by tea tree oil in the air.

Tea tree oil was “discovered” in Australia in the nineteen twenties – probably when aborigines used it and a white man saw it. With the arrival of antibiotics especially after World War II, it was somewhat forgotten. The new interest in natural agents since the seventies has revived the tea tree oil business – which is quite extensive nowadays.
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