29 December 2009

Jack on Star Wars

I first heard about star wars from a magazine, which of course, my parents detested. But I'm now a fan of Star Wars. I've watched 1, 2, and 4. You know why I skipped 3? It was a little dark for my age. Well, maybe. I don't think so but parents outrank children. (wrinkles his nose at his scribe.)

I like Star Was because it has all those fights with light sabers and some fights with laser guns! I like fights because I'm a boy and don't all boys like fights? Well, I know one boy who doesn't. That's my friend Connor. He likes animals much more than anything. Do any of you like Star Wars?

My Mamma has only watched only numbers 4 and 2; 2 much more recently. Dad has watched numbers 6, 7, 1, 2, and 4.

Now this isn't to say that *I* have watched Return of the Jedi -- number 6, I think. And I've only, as you know, watched 1, 2, and 4. My favorite character would be between Master yoda, Master Mace Windu, and Master Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. (Except not as a Sith.) I like them because a) they're really good at light sabers, b) they have good minds, and c) that they have good knowledge of The Force.

The start to every star wars movie is "A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Away". I like that phrase because it's what really gets you started (marching dramatically).

In Attack of the Clones, number 2, it starts with a ship is not expecting a big attack and suddenly *pheeeeyouwwwwww* (That's guns firing, not that it smells bad) There was a big explosion with killed several, several people. And that's all I remember.

The Feast

Valerie asked for the recipes for the Solstice Feast, and rather than send it to her directly, I figured I'd use the recipes as a jump-off point for a blog post. (I am finding it hard to blog about anything that seems meaningful enough to write it and then post it days later...at least until I am inspired. But that makes for a spotty blog, so I am still working on it. *I* like to read other people's day by days, so I'm not sure why it's so hard to write them down and then post them en masse...)

Anyway, my feast was almost directly from Myra KornFeld's Voluptuous Vegan cookbook. The food is marvelously tasty...and as a bonus, the recipes are collected into "feasts", and then she gives a step by step to getting the whole meal on the table at one time -- I find that immensely helpful! However, it's not in my nature to cook right from the book. Recipes are suggestions, and mine are a little different. ;)

Kornfeld is a vegan, and I am not, so I often use butter where she calls for olive oil if I am not cooking for vegans.


1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup tef
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
1/4 cup of olive oil or butter
fresh-ground black pepper

Soak the grains overnight in two cups of water and the lemon juice.

When it's time to start cooking, rinse the grains thoroughly and drain them. Start heating 3 cups of water and the salt to boiling.

Put the drained grains in another pan and warm them over medium low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon.

When you smell nuts in the kitchen, pour the boiling water over the grains, cover and cook, covered, at a slow simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until the water is absorbed.

Turn off the heat and keep covered for at least another 5 minutes or until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, fluff with a fork and add garlic powder, black pepper, and olive oil (or butter).

Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 425

Split the squash and seed it.

Place cut side up on a baking dish. Rub with a little oil and salt.

Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375. Continue baking for another 40 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes or until you can handle it easily.

Using a fork, scrape the long fibers of squash into a bowl.

Heat a large pan or a wok. When it's really hot, add the oil, garlic, and red pepper, stir, and then immediately add the squash. Toss until it's heated through and some strands of the squash are getting caramelized.

Serve piping hot.

Note: I often add far more peppers when feeding groups that appreciate heat. When feeding more tender pallets I leave the peppers out and serve the squash with chipotle and ceyenne on the table to be added to taste, or not. If no one will want pepper, I add about 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and a handful of oregano along with the garlic.

Sauteed Mushrooms

1 large onion, diced fine
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
butter or olive oil -- 3 tablespoons or more
2 pounds of fresh, soft stemmed mushrooms, slices into 1/4 in slices.
a splash of soy sauce or Braggs Aminos -- for fancy occasions, dry white wine or brandy is lovely

Put 1 tablespoon of butter in the bottom of a very large skillet.

When the butter is melted, add the onions and saute over medium high heat until they start to brown. Add the garlic, and continue to saute until the garlic softens.

Add a handful of sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook them until they are starting to get golden.

Move them out to the edges of the pan and add another handful of mushrooms. Cook the new batch to golden, and push them off to the sides.

If the pan is getting dry, add more butter, and then add another handful of mushrooms.

When you can no longer fit a handful of raw mushrooms onto the bottom of the skillet, move the cooked mushrooms to a heat safe serving dish and put them in a low warm oven while you finish with the rest.

When the last mushrooms are golden, pull the previous batch from the oven, add it to the skillet and then add a splash of soy sauce, Braggs, or whatever you're using. You want to deglaze the pan -- that is, pick up the tummy coating that has formed on the bottom of the pan and put it back on the mushrooms.

Serve in the now warm serving dish.

African Groundnut Stew

Notes: This recipe is infinitely adaptable to what you have on hand. Once you've tried it, it easy to add this, leave out that, replace this with that and still have a really yummy dish. This is the full-blown feast version, but I have put an asterisk near the "skeletal" ingredients so you can try a more basic version for a smaller group. If you use fewer vegetables, remember to reduce the amount of the ones you do use. Oh, and do try that cauliflower before you add it -- it may become a frequent favorite on your table at other meals as well. It sure has at ours.

2 heads of *cauliflower
4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large *onion
4 cloves of *garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh *ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1/2 pound of Yucca, peeled, cut into large chunks, and with the fibrous core removed
1 turnip, chopped into large chunks
2 *carrots, roll cut
1 stalk of celery, cut into diagonal chunks about 2 inches long
1 leek, halved and sliced
2 large *tomatoes cut into chunks. (You can peel and seed them, if you like)
1 sweet potato, cut into large chunks
1 pound of winter *squash (kabocha, if you can find it) cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons soy sauce or *Braggs aminos, or shoyu
2 cups water or stock
1/2 cup of the best *peanut butter you can get
1 cup of water or stock, hot
2 tablesoons of ginger juice
1 scallion
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped, dry roasted *peanuts
greens -- mizuna, dandelion, cress...whatever looks good today

Preheat the oven to 450

Cut the cauliflower into largish florets and toss it with 4 tablesoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Spread the coated cauliflower onto a large baking tray or cookie sheet
Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake another 15 minutes.

Heat two tablespoons in a large pot (8 quarts or so)
Add the onions and saute until brown
Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and saute until the garlic softens

Add the yucca, turnips, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and the soy/shoyu/Braggs
Cook them, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced and thickened
Add the water or stock and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes or so.

Add the sweet potato, squash, and salt. Cook until all the vegetables are tender.

Mix the warm water and stock with the peanut butter and stir until the peanut buitter is entirely dissolved.

Almost done!

Add the peanut butter mixture and the cauliflower and stor it through and bring the temperature back up a bit.

Add the ginger juice, scallions, and cilantro and a generous pinch of cayenne.

If the stew is too thick, add a bit more water. Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with peanuts, more cilantro, and greens.


Crone Meditation

I think most people in our culture think of "developmental stages" as something that applies to children. Once you turn 18 or 21 or so, our culture seems to imply, your 'developmentment' is done and you are that unchanging creature "an adult". We don't literally believe that, of course. If we did, we wouldn't demand that our President be at least 30, and we'd be more comfortable than we are with 19 year old doctors. But we stop thinking about ourselves in terms of ongoing development.

Astrology tells us that from birth to death, personal development progresses according to more or less predictable stages. My own experience confirms it. Too bad I seldom think to check on my own stages of development.

Nonetheless, all these years that I have been preparing for the crone's role, I have, like just about everyone else seems to, assumed that crone and sage were mostly social roles. I figured that once you reached a certain age, you automatically became wise if you had been striving toward wisdom, and that the hardships people associated with menopause and the mid-life crisis were part nutritional and largely with emotional resistance to the loss of youth. I was pretty content with my progress in my nurturing caretaker "mother" role, and so I assumed that the transition to crone would be more or less fluid.

Ahh, the arrogance of (relative) youth. I was thinking about it all wrong. Again.

I never stopped to investigate the astrology of it, which might (or might not) have tipped me off that it was a lot deeper than that. (After all, there is enough art in astrology to allow us to ignore what we don't want to see and it takes a talented astrologer to apply the principles objectively to specific situations.)

My first clue that the transition wasn't going to be seamless was that my very first hint that 'the change' was underway. I went from fairly tolerant and easy going, if sometimes a bit weepy, to an angry, grumpy harridan. For a couple of months in the beginning, I was always yelling, deparaging, and harranging my poor family (Mostly Rod, since Jack was still tiny, but Jack came in for more yelling than he deserved, too.)

I was aware of being angry a lot, but it all felt completely "justified". I was completely unable to be objective, and I was completely unable to see it coming in time to stop it. Eventually Rod, my ever-patient prince, gently brought it to my attention in a calm moment, and I was horrified at my behavior! But although I was able to stop mid-gripe and apologize, the anger was still there, boiling as hard as ever. I was now able to look back once it was past and see how outrageously out of proportion it was, but I seemed powerless in the face of it.

I was chatting with a dear friend who was a few years ahead of me on the path and who was from a more "female" family culture than I am. I mentioned my concerns and she suggested that it might be menopause. She explained that menopause forces us to deal with what we have refused to deal with before. She told me about how she was always a very strong, in-control person; the rock of her family and social group. For a while there, she said, she was in tears a lot. She had never allowed herself to address sadness or grief, I guess. She was too busy.

Anyway, she recommended that before I entertain any dire ideas about "going mad", that I try a course of black cohosh. She was, of course, absolutely right. More traditional symptoms appeared within a few months and while I am now grumpier than I was as a young woman, and it occasionally gets the better of me, I am more able to ride the wild emotions. I can feel them coming on. I can address the fact that they are unreasonable, and I can steer them in another direction if they don't make sense. Perhaps one day, having anger at my disposal will be a good thing. ;)

Thinking still that menopause was now complete, I went on my merry way thinking I'd dodged the worst of it. I was kind of dismayed that I seemed to have grown into such a flawed crone...but I figured this was it. Me, as crone.

Wrong again...

The next surprise was that my fear of heights of many years standing was suddenly just gone! I am still not thrilled by heights and I doubt that I will ever be tempted by sky-diving and bungee jumping, but I can now walk up and down stairs three or four flights without terror making me freeze with a pounding heart and a constricted chest. That was a lovely surprise!

However if the sudden anger management issues and the loss of my fear of heights could be turned at an angle that would make them both seem "freeing", I was also becoming more and more uncomfortable in large groups. I have never been someone who was energized by crowds, and I have gone through major discomfort with large numbers of people both during menarche and during each of my pregnancies -- but now I find that a crowded place gets the same panic reaction as heights used to.

Not fun. And pretty embarrassing, really, given that Rod and Jack are both heavily involved with a very large (by my standards) church, so I keep having to be there at times when it seemd 9/10ths of the planet is in attendance.

They are very warm people, very welcoming. I know that one-on-one I would enjoy almost everyone there immensely. I love the ministers sermons and what the congregation stands for. On those occasions when I have managed to get there for service in time to get a front row seat (and so put the crowd out of sight) I have left thinking that I really want to go every week. But then, next time I don't manage to stay out of the way of the crowd, the panic sets in. And of course, when I am hunting, wild eyed, for a quiet corner to hide in, someone invariably spots me and tries to engage me in conversation -- and I am as social as a caged animal. *sigh* When I do manage to converse, I think back on my own part in the conversation and blush. They love Rod, but I suspect that they wonder what he sees in me. ;) I am neither sweet nor coherent in that state.

Mostly I have been happiest and most comfortable alone in the last year or so. Even with my loved ones, I find myself growing irritable and overwhelmed unless I get plenty of alone time.

But the insights this meditation is based on come from Reverend Gail, the minister at Rod's church. On Christmas Eve, Rod was there for many hours, to sing at two evening services. Because he and several other celiacs couldn't partake in the sandwiches that were being provided to the choir between sewrvices, I was to bring a big pot of vegan lentil soup.

I got there just before the service ended, it was quiet except for the service being piped into the social hall, but there was no sign of the dinner where I expected them to meet for dinner. Jack and I stood around, listening appreciatively to the service in the next room. Jack wanted to join them, but it seemed like a bad idea to come in as the service was ending, so we stayed in the kitchen.

The service ended and no one came in to the social hall or the kitchen. But record attendance also meant that it was impossible to move through the hallways to go looking for the choir's gathering place. I felt trapped; me and my five gallon pot of hot soup. And Jack was thrilled! He wanted to get out amongst all the people!

Eventually I struggled out into the crowds to look for Rod. By the time I found him, I was a panicked mess, but I was able to get the soup to the hall where it was needed just in time and at perfect eating temperature and then left Jack to eat with the choir and socialize. I went and hid in the dark, quiet car and got my wits back around me. However it seems that my troubles came up in a conversation between Rod and Reverend Gail. Perhaps she had seen me drop off the soup, and wondered why I hadn't joined the choir to dine.

When I came back into the church to pick up Jack and the soup pot before the crowd for the next service started to arrive, both Reverend Gail and her partner made it a point to engage in conversation with me. Because it was quiet at that point, I was able to do a better job at being social, and Reverend Gail and I talked briefly about my new anxiety. She asked if she might hug me, and she held me and helped my to ground...and my brain clicked back in. We had a few more minutes of conversation, she and Rod, and I, and then we all went on our way. But Rev. Gail's parting remark stayed with me for a long time. "Remember, it's not about "fitting in, it's about being who you already are".

It wasn't a new idea to me, and I don't know that my anxiety is entirely about whether I'll "fit in", but it struck a deep chord. Especially the part about being who I already am. Not sure why...except that it was a tacit declaration that I am fine with her, anxiety and all. There is that. Part of my anxiety *is* about the crowds. But part of my discomfort is about being unable to behave like a sane adult in a crowd. Part of my anxiety *is* that I can't seem to keep my social mask on these days and so on top of the physical reaction the crowds there is the fear of what an idiot I must look like.

A few days later, as I was dicussing my new insights with Rod and commenting that evidently I am not going to be the kind of crone I had dreamed of being. Wise, patient, tolerant, strong, and able to give comfort and aid, and maybe even with ritous anger at my disposal when it's warranted.

My beloved pointed pointed out that astrologically I am not yet a crone. Chiron return, the healing of the dysfunctions and mal-adaptations to life, happens years before the second Saturn return that heralds the Sage or the Crone.

I hadn't looked at the astrology of it. Like every other stage of life, there are obvious signs of impending cronedom, and there are stages that prepare us for the new era of our lives. I had embarked on the path, but I haven't come near to my destination as crone yet. I am a baby crone, learning to grow into my full power, which I can't expect to reach for five or more years.

I sure have a long way to go...but there is time yet. Just as I was learning how to be an adult at 21, but I wasn't yet the adult I would become, so I am on my way to being a wise elder ...but there are years yet before I willl get there.

That's a relief really.

22 December 2009

A belated Blessed Yule to all!

 A belated Blessed Yule to all!

We had a fantastic celebration yesterday!  Our dear friends joined us for a lovely ritual celebration of the sun's return and then we feasted on an African groundnut stew with sauted spagetti squash with garlic and peppers, sauted mushrooms, and a pilaf made from quinoa, millet, and tef.  Vegan *and* wheat free, but I don't think anyone felt like anything was missing (except the juice I forgot to buy -- but I think fruit tea stood in acceptably.) 


Some parts of the holidays are still going to be hard without wheat in our lives, of course.  For example, we decided it was wiser to skip the cookie exchange this year and while I hunted down some recipes for wheat free versions of some traditional cookies and a fruit cake, we haven't actually tried baking any of them yet.  Parties at other people's houses seem risky, too.  Many of the "usual" delights are off limits, and we find most of the replacements unpalatable. I hate to be finicky, but many lovely people try so hard to be helpful with my diabetes by providing "sugar free" chemical laden processed foods that I shudder to think what they will find to be helpful with sugar and wheat free ... lower carb doesn't mean I want to sidestep eating genuine food and gluten free doesn't mean we're willing to eat refined 'edible food like substances'.  I read a description of crumbling drywall and desicated bricks of wall plaster that sounded about right for our experience of the commercial gluten free products, though a friend baked a lovely gluten-safe "real foods" angel food cake for us and gave us new hope that birthday cakes may not have to be a thing of the past.  ;) For the most part, rather than asking people to buy into our insanity, it seems wiser and kinder to cook for ourselves and invite others to join us. I think holiday baking will get easier as we get some distance from the old standbys and can create new traditions without comparing them to what we're used to. 


We are eating a far greater variety of foods and on the whole we are eating better for my blood sugar since wheat was the one carb we never could seem to get away from, so I think on the whole we're probably eating better than we were.  I still need to explore what specific nutrients we were getting in large amounts from our grains so that I can be sure to replace those nutrients from some other source, but one thing at a time.


Ironically, we are also having to scale way back on beans.  I LOVE beans! Maybe not quite as much as Rod loves wheat, but... my allergy tests came back showing me highly allergic to navy beans, moderately allergic to kindney and green beans, and the others were all pending test results.  I am trying to get used to the idea that they may be a problem, too.  I'd be tempted to ignore it, except that my "cheat" at last week's office party, where I noshed on a handful of cookies has me in agony.  Every joint feels like someone wrapped it tightly in a sports bandage and then set it on fire.  If that's how I respond to wheat, which I don't technically show a sensitivity to, what are the beans I am allergic to doing?  *sigh*  I'm sure i'll know soon enough.


Anyway, enough whinging.  (I found a GREAT little book recently called Crones Don't Whine by Jean Shinoda Bolen ... I haven't read it through yet, but I think my New Year is going to be dedicated to get over myself. Ha!)


Yule fell on Monday this year, of course.  I took the day off since I had furlough days to burn.  It went so beautifully that I am seriously thinking about taking vacation time every year for Yule.  Somehow, it felt more like a real holiday than it usually does.  We had all weekend to prepare and then a relaxed celebration with friends.  I don't usually take the day off since I rarely have extra vacation this late in the year and since most of our friends would also be working, we just schedule the festivities for the nearest weekend.  But taking the day itself away from the usual demands made more of a difference than I would have expected.  Luckily, we have some friends whose schedules allowed them to celebrate with us and it was blissful!  As a matter of fact, I have scheduled furlough days for all the Sabbats in the next six months -- I don't know if any of our friends will be able to celebrate with us, but it felt good to really honor them with more than a nod.


Whatever holidays you are celebrating, I wish you warm, wonderful times and may the coming year bring you  all that you've been working toward and dreaming of!





18 December 2009

The Puzzle of Crafting...

The Puzzle of Crafting...

I've been crafting for a few years now.  When I started, I figured it was a matter of learning the techniques and then it just happens.  Oh, you might be good at it or not good at it, but I kept hearting the crafts aren't creative like "Art", and so it was easier...


That may be, but I can't seem to hit the consistency stage.


Some days, when I sit down to craft, I "hit the groove" or whatever you want to call it and everything I create comes out just like I was hoping.  Other days, even if I am really in the mood to craft, even if I am trying to recreate a very successful card I had done before, I just can't seem to get it to work. 


I have missed some people's birthdays entirely and I have sent out some really regretable cards when that happens.  I feel bad about that, and I hope people aren't offended at getting a poorly made card.


I wish I knew how to tell before I sit down at my craft table whether it was going to be worth trying or not.


I've decided to stop trying to make cards specifically for individuals as I need them and just concentrate on making as many cards as I can when it's working. I have the list and I can make them for specific individuals ... but I'll make them weeks or months ahead when I can so that the bad ones don't have to be my only choice.


I have discovered, though, that it's sometimes worth hanging on to the duds...sometimes when I'm "in the groove", I can pick up a really sad card and make it look really nice...or at least nice enough.  Makes me wish that I had "do overs" on some of this years cards.



Oh well.  I'll get the flow one of these days.  At least the good ones are getting better, even if the bad ones seem to be a permanent fixture, too.

14 December 2009

Well now that's interesting...

Well now that's interesting...


Not necessarily in a good way, but interesting.


Since my doctor appointment back in November, once I'd had the blood tests run, I have been essentially wheat free.  I haven't been super careful when eating away from home, but since we're wheat free at home, and rarely eat out, it's just hadn't come up.  (In the period before my doctor appointment but after we went wheat free at home, I made sure to get a "dose" every day, so that the blood tests could be conclusive. I stopped that once I had the blood drawn since the easiest source of wheat was nasty stuff from the machines at work.  Yuck.)


Well, over the few weeks, I had gradually become more energetic, my thinking had become clearer, and my arthritis had been waning.  On Saturday, we went out to dinner and I had a dinner roll.  Today, I am sooo achy.


I am not going to be surprised to hear it if the doctor tell me on Wednesday at my followup appointment that I am sensitive to wheat.  I feel fortunate that my symptoms aren't as dire as Rod's.  Feeling old and achy is way better than being unable to breathe!  I could still cheat occasionally if that's as bad as it gets.  Rod warned me, though, that his symptoms became far worse once his system was cleared of all gluten...so maybe not. 





11 December 2009



I find an interesting irony in the idea that there are two places one comminly associates with the phrase "lockdown" these days.


Prisons and schools.




05 December 2009

Jack's art class

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Jack has been attending a new art class. I have been just croggled at how much progress he has made.

My first thought was that they must be "mostly doing it for him" -- they are just amazing, especially given Jack's age and what he was capable of before.

They may be doing some of it for him, but I have to say that his confidence has leaped and he is a lot happier about art these days so whatever they're doing is working just the way I had hoped it would!

The classes are at D&M Studios in Canton, and they're about $12 per week...amazing.
Posted by Picasa

The problem with science.

Well, OK, it's not really a problem with *science*, so much as it is a problem with people.

A few days ago, I was going through all of my cookbooks, looking for interesting new things to do with vegetables; if we're to try going entirely grain and legume free for a while as Rod wants to do, we are going to have to be a lot more creative with vegetables or I am going to go out of my mind with boredom. Our family has traditionally focused our culinary efforts on our grains and served a few very favorite preparations of meats and vegetables along side.

As I was reading my 1896 Boston Cooking School Fanny Farmer cookbook, I came across this statement:

"Vegetables include, commonly though not botanically speaking, all plants used for food except grains and fruits. With the exception of beans, peas, and lentils, whichj contain a large amount of (protein), they are chiefly valuable for their potash salts and should form a part of each day's dietary."

To put that into perspective, 50 pages are dedicated to vegetables, potatoes, and salads (not all of which contain vegetables). On the other hand, 129 pages are dedicated to desserts of various kinds, and 100 pages are deciated to the preparation of meats, suggesting that Miss Farmer considered plant foods of lesser importance than just about any other element of diet.

This was, of course, the scientific and hygenic view of the day. By that time, sience had established the need for the three major elements of a healthy diet: carbohydrate, proteins, and fats. Since vegetables weren't strong providers of any of those things, and with vitamins and minerals measurable by the science of the day only as "potash salts", it was evident to the educated man and woman that while they are a delicious addition to the dinner table, and some amount were necessary to optimal health, they were not very important.

We do that, people do.

We forget that science, as valuable as it is, is limited by what it can measure. Even the things that are now undeniably there -- things like vitamins, amino acid, and other phytonutrients -- have not always been measurable by the best of science. That, of course, doesn't mean they weren't there before, or that they were less important to health than they are now that we know they're there. And we forget to concern ourselves with what might be there that we don't suspect and don't yet know how to measure.

This isn't limited to dietary science, of course. Heliocentrists and flat-earthers at one time based their beliefs on the best science of their times, too. In their day, antibiotics and scrupulous hygiene were going to conquer illness forever! Then we discovered super-bugs and the ill effects of too little stimulation of the immune system. It's just that dietary science effects all of us so intimately and by extension, it deeply influences our cultures, as food always has.

Science is very important and I am grateful for all the ways that science has made our lives better! I follow new developments with great interest! I do think, though, that it's wise, when considering scientific discoveries, to consider what they really mean. I don't think that we can safely rely on media interpretations for that -- scientists understand the limitations of science and are far less likely to fall afoul of the "now we know the real truth" fallacy than are journalists hunting for a compelling headline. It from this fallacy that we get the stomach-wrenching swings from "miracle food" to "fatal" we have seem so much of in the last 50 years. Then again, often the language of science is so precise as to be unintelligible to the average reader.

So what do we do, if we want to stay informed? Well, I guess the best we can do is look at developments with a wait and see attitude and a whole lot of common sense. Read the reports with an understanding that there is a core of truth there, but it's very possible that the journalist has misinterpreted what it means. Understand that each new development is just that, a deepened understanding of how our world works and not a final answer wrapped in a bright red bow.

My own solution is to examine new nutritional understanding in light of millions of years of evolution.

Some of my personal conclusions:

* We didn't evolve to thrive on processed foods, we evolved to thrive on the very same foods that spoil -- they spoil because they're chock full of nutrients and we're not the only ones who thrive on them. If the food is "shelf-stable", we have to ask ourselves why. Is it because there's no food value left to attract our competitors? Or is it because ut has chemicals in it to "retard spoilage"? We didn't evolve to eat poisons, either...

* We didn't evolve to thrive on large amounts of grain -- we didn't get the hang of those until a little over 5 thousand years ago. That doesn't mean that they're bad for us per se...but perhaps overreliance on them is one reason for the huge explosion of ill health we've seen of late. Maybe. When we saw the HUGE difference going wheat free made in Rod's health, we started to consider how other grains fit into our basic view of health and nutrition. Rod started considering whether we might feel even better if we eliminated grains for a while, and allowed our bodies to really heal, then add them back in better balance to how we evolved to be nourished. Not being a huge fan of deprivation, I have been working on expanding our grain-free alternatives and we plan to move in the grain free direction slowly as we find ways to replace those foods.

So the problem with science...it's not a problem with science at all. Just a problem with how we interpret what we're learning.
Posted by Picasa

04 December 2009



Jack and I got out the Yule decorations last night and started decorating the parlour.


Remember the sewer backup we had last spring?  The smelly one that I thought wasn't "too big a deal" because the sludge didn't get near anything but rugs? 


I was wrong. 


It was a big deal.


While none of the Yule stuff got *wet*, it was in tubs that were not vapor tight, and now a lot of the stuff smells like mold and some of it has a hairy coat.  I can hand wash the stuff that is made or porcelein, glass, or plastic, but I am at wits end about how to clean the ribbons and bows and intricate fabric ornaments.  I expect it involves a toothbrush -- and while I am sure I could get the visitble mold off just with brushing, I'm not sure it's worth doing if I can't skill the spores.  (Since it would then pose a threat to everything else every year in storage.)  I suspect that getting it wet would just make the situation worse.


I have some research to do.





03 December 2009

Fabulous news!

Fabulous news!


I heard from Corey, my middle son, this morning.  He called to let me know that he has survived the tough times at his company and has been promoted from "the line" to Research and Development.  We had a bad connection and he was even more interested in telling me about his recent trip to Vienna so I don't know what that means, exactly, but we are both pleased and relieved.

02 December 2009

Chez Smiffy update

I'm a little late with this, but we had a wonderful five-day break over Thanksgiving.

We started with sleeping in on Thursday, then we got up and spent the day cooking -- Jack was, as usual, in charge of the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie. He did an excellent job.

It was our first wheat free Thanksgiving, and it went pretty well. Rod has come up with a very good pie crust recipe and then improved on it, so we had three kinds of pie: Jack's traditional pumpkin, Rod's custard pie, and my experimental peanut butter pie.

But aside from the food (which admittedly, is a very important part for me) we also tried to focus more on thankfulness. This has in many ways been a hard year for us, what with health issues and furloughs, but in the end, we are still very, very blessed. We are still reasonably healthy and well on the way to being more so. We may not have the money to spend as freely as we'd like, but we can eat and pay the important bills and we have a warm, secure home. We may be a long while from seeing our beloved older children again, but they are also healthy and seem to be prospering. But most of all -- we have each other, a dream come true for Rod and I and a pretty good deal for Jack -- even if he sometimes doesn't think so.

We started volunteering at a local homeless shelter occasionally a few months ago. This holiday, we have thinking about making more of a commitment. We have so much and it seems right to Rod and I that we share. We have been cooking a meal for the folks at the shelter every few months, but we think we might be ready to step up to a more regular commitment. The question is, what will be the thing we give up to make time. But with a regular commitment, it will be easier to plan.

As you can see, we also got out to get our annual holiday picture made. The mall made it challenging this year by putting most of the decorations overhead. We managed, but I think we'll look for a place to do it next year that we actually want to be. I was astonished at just how uncivil the place has become - -hawkers getting in your face as you walk though -- not unlike braving thieves alley in a fantasy novel. *shudder*

Anyway, it seems odd to post holiday pictures so early -- but I haven't mastered the art of getting the photos I'll need onto the laptop ahead of time yet. ;) Now that my favorite photo editing software is on the laptop, though, it'll be easier. Can't get them just rioght until I load them here.

More soon...