30 June 2010

Take 2: The problem with science

I have come across an intriguing discussion about how change in scientific paradigm takes place, over at Nutrition and Physical Regeneration blog. 
Michael is an entertaining and intriguing writer and I very much enjoyed his post about the sociological insights of one Thomas S. Kuhn.  It explains a lot to me about why so many well educated people can't see what seems obvious to me.  Part of the problem is that I am relatively uneducated, but insatiably curious.  Without an education, I don't know or understand the prevailing paradigm and have to depend on pure reason, which may or may not be a disadvantage, depending on the situation. 
Fascinating food for thought.

Drat! Bunnies!

Hey, Linda!

I thought you’d like to know what’s happening to our beans ...

Rod and I will be exploring tonight and once we figure out how Peter is getting in, we’ll block his access.

Misti Mcgregor

From: Rodney B. Smith
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 3:19 PM
To: Misti Delaney
Subject: garden...

there is a wee bunny getting into the garden through the back fence... I caught him sampling the bean shoots today....... he got away.....

28 June 2010

The next big challenge

OK, so we're getting pretty good at our new way of eating at home.  Getting dinner on the table without grains and with minimal beans isn't the challenge it was six months ago and we've even found a few safe places  to eat out occasionally and stay (mostly) safe.
The next big challenge is a road trip. 
We're driving up to Northern New York for a family reunion in a few weeks -- that's two days up, two days there, and two days back.  How will we eat on a six day road trip without giving in and risking a meal in an unfamiliar restaurant?  (Or maybe worse, getting seriously out of sorts about the boring lack of options?) 
I mean, really?  The two days in the middle, we'll have a heat source and it can be "food almost as usual", but how much fresh, raw vegetation can we eat while we're on the road"  How many nuts?  How many boiled eggs? How long will cold cooked meats last in a cooler?  -- and my diabetes complicates it further, because a lot of fruit just isn't safe when we'll be so physically inactive.
I have been hunting for options and it's not looking like a lot of fun.  I wonder if I'm missing something.  It's looking pretty boring.  The limitations: it has to stay fresh (or at least safe) in a cooler on the road, it can't contain grains or beans, and for four out of six days, it has to be something we can prepare ahead and eat right out of the cooler. 
Any ideas?

Road Trip Food Plan

Ideas: vegetables (lettuce, greens, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, celery, avocados, salad greens, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, onions, cabbage, cauliflower) fruit (Apples, oranges, bananas, pears, berries, grapes), dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, boiled eggs, chicken, fish, sausage, burgers, canned fish, brownies, cheese, Lara Bars, kombucha, nut pancakes, egg and zucchini muffins,


Thursday, day 1



Bacon and eggs; smoothie with berries and greens




Salad with cold meat, frozen berries with coconut milk




Cold pancakes with jam

Friday, day 2



Boiled eggs, fruit




Veggies, cheese, and chips with dip




Salad with cold meat, fruit

Saturday, day 3







Muffins, cheese, nuts, veggies





Roasted vegetables, roast chicken

Sunday, day 4



pumpkin custard




Salad with cold chicken, fruit




Roasted vegetables, sausage

Monday, day 5



Fruit and nuts




Salad with leftover roast veggies and meats, frozen berries with coconut milk




Cold pancakes with jam,

Tuesday, day 6



Muffins, cheese, nuts, veggies




Veggies, cheese, and chips with dip




Bacon and eggs; smoothie with berries and greens


They've turned into birds!!

They've gotten so big -- and they actually look like birds as of last night!
It's been kind of funny to watch them now that they are big enoug that we can see their beaks poking out over the nest at feeding time.
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27 June 2010

Birthday celebration continues

Yesterday we went out to the Red Pepper Deli with John to celebrate my birthday.
We were supposed to go to the zoo, but I got lost in the garden and it was late by the time I got cleaned up, and frankly, I didn't feel all that energetic!

The deli was, again, wonderful!

John had the pizza, since we could vouch for that.

Jack and Rod shared the marinated mushroom "pasta", and I had the spring rolls. I ended up chowing down on the pasta, too -- it was amazing! And entirely grain free! (The pasta was made from zucchini, but Rod had to ask three times before he could believe that it was actually safe -- it tasted that good! And that little like zucchini!)

The spring rolls were nice, the flavours delightful, but it wasn't as filling as some of the other options. Then again, they're suppsoed to be light.

Northville was having a festival that day. Jack spotted the festival b efore our food was served and he kept staring out the front door at it. He was determined to go look around, so he and Rod toured while John and I enjoyed a cup of herb tea.

Turns out, this is why Jack was so determined to get out there -- he found my birthday presents there! I had thought that the brix meter was from both of them, but Jack thougt differently. It might make me happy, but the appropriate gift, in his mind, is jewelry.

Aren't they lovely?

The necklace is a real gilt leaf with a porcelein rose.

The "birthday girl crown" was intended to be a necklace for a much smaller woman. I like it as a hair adornment! (It looked nicer in my hair before my hair got wind-whipped in the car on the expressway, but *it* is still lovely!)

I am the most fortunate woman I know!

And now, to get ready for the birthday party invasion! Our friends, whom Jack has traditionally called "The Star Ladies" are organizing a birthday party here for everyone on the group with June or July birthdays.

I'd best get started baking a cake Rod and I can eat!

Methinks my new toy is not as straight forward as I had been led to believe.

Everything from the yard -- berries, lettuce, grass, flowers-- tests between 2.5 and 3. That in spite of the fact that some is growing in sand and some is growing in super enriched soil.

When I pointed straight at the sun, I got a lovely light show and no clear reading, though a change in colours at one point or another...the reading, perhaps?

In the house, on the other hand, pointing at a light bulb, fruits and berries measured all over the place from 5 to 20.

I think my technically-inclined darling is going to have to help me with this...

But I need to his the shower so we can get on with our day.

26 June 2010

Happy birthday to me!

It's my birthday!

And look at my beautiful birthday gift from Rod and Jack!
This is a brix meter.

We have spent the morning playing with it, testing fruit from the refrigerator and learning to get consistent readings.

Next, I will be experimenting in the garden -- in differently prepared beds, before and after foliar feeding, before and after cow poop soup feedings, and the like.

It should prove interesting.

25 June 2010

Oh my goodness!

They're beginning to resemble birds!
In just two days! 
I can even tell which part is what at this pount...
Life is amazing!

24 June 2010

Ooooh, fun times!

Yesterday we had both an earthquake and a tornado warning.

Of course, this being Michigan, I was sitting next to someone who felt the earthquake, but I didn't and most people I talked to didn't.

And the "tornado" wasn't even a particularly big storm by the time it got to our house just after bedtime. It rocked us to sleep.

Evidently the storms were no big deal to the Robin family, since the babies are hungry this morning and Mamma is flying in and our like an express train.

Oh, in case anyone lives locally and cares...

I will be "sponsoring" a rubber stamping demonstration, featuring "guy cards" on July 5 at 1pm. If you want in, please let me know... :) I'd like to have one or two more people. If not, I think Nerida and I will have a blast!

Oh, I have an interesting new challenge...this summer Rod and I will be headed to a family reunion in NY. On the way through, we will stop to see my old college buddy and his lovely wife. I have decided that I'd like to make them a card they can appreciate. The challenge part comes in that she is blind and he is mostly so. But, you know, that's the advantage of making ones own cards...personalizing them. ;) Ah, well, if I come up with anything worth sharing, I'll show you.

22 June 2010

Our new neighbors...

Our new neighbors...
I am thrilled beyond words to introduce our newest neighbors! 
They're amazingly tiny and they look so fragile!  They barely look viable.  They must be very, very new.

Very pleasant Solstice weekend

Our Solstice weekend was lovely.

On Saturday, Adnan, Mark, and Matthew came over for lunch and we had a quiet good time. Adnan brought some amazing chicken to barbeque -- I missed the names of the dishes, but both were Pakistani and delicious! I have to get him to write them down for me. ;)

On Sunday, we spent a quiet Father's day. Jack and I took off to give Rod a couple of hours of alone time, since that's the gift every parent needs most. Then we came back, bearing gifts and we spent the rest of the day hanging out, mostly in the garden. Later, Jack and I discovered Senet, King Tut's favorite game. Jack, of course, LOVES it. We'll get him a game board one of these days -- the paper one we have won't stand up to constant play.

I took my last planned furlough day yesterday, so I could spend Solstice with the family. A lovely friend of a friend, Tracy, has just moved into the area and she came over for lunch. We enjoyed her company greatly and hope that she finds time to hang out with us from time to time.

Afterward, we went and bought some Sluggo. The slugs have decimated the kale and lettuce patches and more traditional methods simply weren't working -- I pulled literally hundreds of them out of the garden, only to return and find just as many left behind a couple of hours later. To make matters worse, the slugs and the mosquitoes are on the same schedule, so defending my greens was very painful! Oh, well. Organic natural methods are good, but only if they result in edible food.

It wasn't all good. Poor Kodiak, the new grandson of our dear friend, Linda, has developed pyloric stenosis. It sounds scary, and the poor little guy needs surgery to correct it.

YIKES! Not sure how it got so late, but I still can't wake up. Off to showers with me!

18 June 2010

Jack's Celiac Update

Well, that was a non-event.

Jack has been extremely philosophical about his celiac diagnosis. He has requested one more gluten blowout meal just before his appointment to discuss celiac with his doctor, but he has been choosing not to eat toxic foods meanwhile.

Then again, he has had 10 months of watching first Rod, then me, adapting and commenting on how much better we feel. He has watched us gripe not about deprivation, but about how nasty we feel when we get "poisoned".

Maybe that has made it easier. He also knew that the odds were in favour of celiac with two sensitive parents, so has had the time since the blood test to think about how celiac applies to him.

One decision? Maybe he doesn't need to go to Sunday School next year if he can't have donuts. Will playing at Ikea Smaland lose its charm without cinnamon rolls or ice cream cones? Dunno.

Ahh, well, best I it the showers...have good day everyone!

17 June 2010

Uh oh...Jack's not going to like this...

His blood tests are in.
Jack has celiac disease.

Valerie, can you recommend a good book for young folks about why eating wheat is a really bad idea for celiacs? Jack feels fine, so he isn't going to really believe this. He *sees* how sick Rod and get...and he doesn't feel sick.

16 June 2010

Restaurant Discovery

I forgot to mention that this weekend, we discovered a place tat we can eat out entirely safely.

Not only that, but the food tastes amazing: bright, fresh, and delicious -- and filling, too! Interesting foods that we can't already make better at home -- and there are no hidden ingredients because everything is made from scratch and every ingredient is on the menu. Wheat is used only in grass form, and that's pretty easy to substitute or avoid. Corn is used only in fresh vegetable form, and again, is easy to avoid.

Needless to say, a place this amazing doesn't have McDonlald's prices, but at about $8 per entree it's not bad -- just be careful about sides. They all use fresh, high quality ingredients and are priced accordingly, so they can add up quickly.

Meet the Red Pepper Deli of Northville, Michigan.

Our doctor mentioned it because he understands how difficult it can be to eat out with food sensitivities. We put off a trip because it's Northville...and it's raw. I am curious about raw food cuisine, but somehow never quite believed it would be as amazing as cooked food. I think I was envisioning fresh, whole fruit and green salads...tasty, nutricious, but not all that exciting really.

That's not what we found at the Red Pepper.

Jack tried the raw Italian pizza (and Rod and I tasted it, too). It tasted like pizza, but the flavours sang in a way I hadn't experienced before. We all agreed that it was really good!

I tried the raw tacos because they came highly recommended. I couldn't believe the intensity of the flavours! It's actually more of a "wrap" with lettuce leaves instead of taco shells and walnuts instead of meat. If you're craving Taco Bell, it might not satisfy, but I loved it!

Rod tried the falafel and found the falafel was magnificent, though he thought that the humous had too much lemon.

We all had smoothies, which were delicious and we found could almost have been a meal in themselves. (We agreed that the one we asked for without agave was the best of all!)

Finally we tried the apple crumble -- amazing! Maybe a tad sweet for our palate, but absolutely wonderful!

This won't be out last visit - though I think we can skip the extras next time because we ended up getting a doggie bag because we couldn't finish it all.

The Red Pepper Deli Hours: Monday - Wednesday 10:30 - 7:30, Thursday - Saturday 10:30 - 8:00,
Sunday Closed

The Red Pepper Deli is located at 116 West Main Street, Northville, MI. 48167248-773-7671

15 June 2010

Playing at the zoo!

Saturday, we had a blast!

We started by going to Jack's karate class, where I got to take pictures of the dojo gardens, and in the process recorded my own "perfect garden". I'll use those photos later.
Then we went to the zoo with John. We all had a great time, and I haven't seen John smile so much in a very long time. We'll be going again and again and again this summer!
Then John took us out for dinner at O'Mara's, where I had Salmon Nicoise ... so good I HAD to have the recipe!
Sunday was fun, too.

Rod and I had our 8th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate we went to see the new Karate Kid movie with.

I can't quite say I enjoyed it. There were things I did enjoy about it -- it was refreshing to see a movie in which the token character was a white kid . I enjoyed seeing a film made in China -- it's not a place I know a lot about, and I still don't but I felt I had gotten a bit of a taste. Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan played very enjoyable characters and I think they did a superb job! I really enjoyed the emphasis Chan's character placed on respect and the fact that Smith's character clearly learned a great deal about respect over te course of the movie. That's a subject I think gets short shrift in our modern culture. But I found the film's unflinching focus on violence and bullying brutal and I was traumatized emotionally by the end of the film, as was Jack. We recovered, and I'm not unhappy that we went to see it, but I won't ever be seeing it again unless a less brutal version is released at some point. (Not likely.) I think, in retrospect, it would have been a good idea to wait until Jack was older to see this one...
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Meet our new neighbor...

This is Rob. Our new neighbor.

(And one heck of a morning musician!)

I only ever see one bird there, but there are two eggs in the nest so Rob may be a single mother...or I haven't managed to see both parents at one time.

As I mentioned, the nest is literally outside our main door. We're trying to always remember to open the garage door from inside before we go out, so s/he gets fair warning. But we don't always remember. I am comforted by the fact that the nest appeared with the door in use, so it must have been ok to have noisy neighbors...

Ahh, life is wonderful!
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June 10 update

Life is good, but busy.

For a week or more, I have been falling into bed at the first possible moment after dinner, only to roll out again "15 minutes" later to the sound of bird song. (That 15 minutes is 7, 8, or 9 hours, but doesn't feel like it.)

I'm not sure what else I've been doing, because I spend the days sleepy and disoriented. I don't feel sick, so for the moment, I'm blaming the weather. Then again, it could also be that I have had low level allergen poisoning (probably corn, because that's very hard to control for any time I leave the house.

In the good news department, things are actually going pretty well here!

Jack has been at karate for seven weeks now and it making great strides. He's decided to study for many years, and so far I get the impression that he very probably will. He takes regular classes every week, and then has bonus practice sessions at the dojo that we make it to every other week.

He is adding piano lessons to his curriculum in the next few weeks, too. It was down to piano or voice, and the choir meets on the same evening as his karate class. In Jack's mind, there was no contest.

But he has also wanted to study piano for several years now and is making progress on learning to read music, so when Rod stumbled across a teacher who both parents and kids like and recommend, it was abvious what we should do.

I hope he doesn't find it overwhelming when his art classes start up again in the autumn. From one class at a time to three over te course of his seventh summer seems like a lot to me, but he loves every one of them, so maybe it won't be too bad.

Homeschooling is also going well. The tide is coming in and and Mr Jack has been eager to hit the books lately. We have managed to finish another book just about any time we sit down to study.

I had to laugh wen he pulled out his next math book and demanded to know why that hadn't been added to the stack on the current studies table. Unlike his Mamma, Jack would rather study arithmetic than just about anything else. We explained that when everything from the current unit is done, we can start on some new books...though I do think it may be time to consider quitting some books in the middle and just adding some new courses while making those old books available "in the wild".

He does read constantly, and he would probably pick up the books we didn't finish, and his enthusiasm is better for the books we have started using more recently. That would make it all go faster...as would finding a way to stay home more. But we have found that we can cover a little between finishing dinner and clearing the table, which is all te time we have most weekday evenings.

Oh, I can't remember whether I mentioned it -- the earth has shifted a bit on the homeschooling front. Rod had been the primary teacher. That was the plan anyway.

But Jack lapped up the math, music, and science with Dad and resisted and refused and claimed to hate homeschooling if Rod mentioned any other subject. But if I picked up one of the oter subjects to browse, I instantly had an enthusiastic boy in my lap.


So I am now the main teacher for history, literature, social studies, geography, herbal studies, astrology, character development, and magickal studies. Needless to say, those classes are going more slowly than math and science, but now that Jack is enthusiastic again, and brings me the books on his own initiative it's actually going faster than it was when Dad was struggling against the tide.

My current theory is that Rod has a greater enthusiasm for math, music, and science and had a subtle "dutiful" approach to other subjects. I, on the other hand, love the other subjects and enjoy them for myself, quite aside from sharing them with Jack.

Dunno. It's my theory, anyway.

11 June 2010

Wow! An Amazing Program that I want to support

I just read about a new program in Washtenaw County. It's called Imagination Library, and its purpose is to get books into the hands of little kids who might otherwise not have access to them. Each month, from birth until they turn five years old, children enrolled in the program receive a hard-cover, age-appropriate book mailed to their home.

Even if Jack weren't too old already, I don't think we'd participate -- we have plenty of access to books. But I plan to pay to enroll a couple of familes -- because a love of reading is such an excellent place to start in succeeding in life!

08 June 2010

Our first major harvest

The storms may have done a lot of damage elsewhere (like my basement, even) but the garden has enjoyed them immensely.

Linda harvested our first major crop of greens last night. We ate our fill for dinner, Linda took enough for two or three households, and we have plenty left for another salad or two...plus some for freezing!

Amazing! (And delicious, too!)
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05 June 2010

Good news; bad news

I had one of those "good news/bad news" moments today.

On the bright side, I discovered that my home made laudry detergent makes a fantastic floor cleaner!

The down side was that I discovered it by spilling some of it on the recently washed kitchen floor as I was moving a new batch into the basement laundry room. I finished moving the new tub down and then came back and cleaned up the spill -- and discovered that it wasn't my imagination that the kitchen floor wasn't quite as bright white as it seemed when we moved in. There was a huge white "stain" in the middle of the kitchen floor where the spill had been. The floor that had looked clean suddenly looked filthy!

Three buckets of water later, I finally got the floor to a state of uniform clean, rather than having streaks of very, very clean and streaks of muddy brown.

I can't see why we'd use anything else ... another win for simplicity!

(The picture is the 'dinosaur grass' we harvested last weekend, drying for use through the cold months. It's great for controlling periodontal disease and preventing osteoporosis.)
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OK, maybe not exactly amazing..., but a reallt cool development in my opinion.

I love Italian food. I especially love pasta with a really great Bolognes ... and for years I have struggled to figure out why my very best attempts failed to have the amazing depth of flavour that one experiences at the best Italian restaurants.

Most people summed it up with "it's the quality of the ingredients". If I asked friends what was missing from my sauce, tye looked at my funny and said "it's fine."

And it was "fine." There was noting inedible about my sauce...but it wasn't quite right.

I used the best of ingredients, herbs fresh from the garden, home canned tomato sauce... everything I could think of. Nothing made that difference. I read book after book and tried recipe after recipe. Almost...but not quite right.

And then, on one of the many winter evenings that we relaxed with Alton Brown's good eats, we happened upon an episode about tomato sauces. Alton was quite firm about the necessity to add wine to the sauce. The next time I started a tomato sauce, Rod recommended that I try it. I did. I put a little splash of sweet vermouth in the sauce.

It was much closer to what I was trying for. The next time, I tried red wine instead...and it was good.

Tonight, I happened to have almost a cup of wine left from a bottle my friend Helen brought to dinner last night. I shrugged and threw the whole thing in. Then I turned down the heat and let it simmer while I went pout to pick the herbs...and got distracted by a "slug search and destroy" mission! (It was cool and damp and they were out in force...I think we got 500 or 100 of the little devils! )

When I came back in with the herbs in hand, the sauce had cooked down to a deep, rich red and it smelled heavenly! It even made the insipid pseudo-pasta taste like food!

Success! Hurrah!

Harbinger of growth and renewal

A young robin has decided to build a nest just outside our front door.

I watched all morning as I cleaned the kitchen and our little friend industriously carried in twigs and grass and wove them into a cozy place to raise baby robins. (I haven't had a very clear look at it, so I can't say for certain, but I think it's a "he".)
I don't know how long he's going to think that this was a good ideas, since that door sees a lot of traffic, but it's been delightful to watch! Even more deligtful, he stops from time to time to sing a beautiful song to establish tis as *his* territory.

Interestingly, a cardinal wanted to nest by the same door earlier this spring, but the amount of activity was a deterent.
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01 June 2010

Diabetes as a gift

It's not every day you'll hear diabetes referred to as a "gift".

But in the same sense that the dilapidated Victorian mansion inherited from a long lost spinster great aunt would be, diabetes is a gift, albeit a ducedly inconvenient and expensive gift in our current world.

How could a deadly disease be a gift you ask?

Well, look at it this way: like Great Aunt Mae's mansion, you inherited diabetes from your ancestors.

Like the mansion diabetes was once extremely valuable. The mansion was an expensive and possibly impressive home in its day. Today it would cost a fortune to repair and maintain -- or even to board up -- and it isn't an easy sale unless the property it's on is valuable in its own right. Diabetes, or rather insulin resistance, was once a genetic survival mechanism that allowed your ancestors to put away energy reserves in good times, rather than using all of their resources for energy, so that when hard times (in the form of winters or droughts) came, as they inevitably do, your ancestors were able to survive and probably even reproduce. Today, of course, diabetes can shorten your life, and it certainly complicates it.

This little clip (3 minutes) explains how insulin resistance causes weight gain and can, in today's relatively luxurious conditions, eventually lead to diabetes.

Go ahead, have a look. I'll wait.

OK, make sense?

Now, remember those "greedy" fat cells that don't let fat back out of cells easily? That would be the genetic equivalent of the ants. (Remember the ants and grasshopper?) Your fat cells aren't just greedy, they're laying up food for the winter.

The problem is, we seldom have the kind of "winter" they're waiting for, and so we continue to build up insulin resistance over many years and eventually we develop diabetes. (I would disagree that "we aren't born wit greedy fat cells -- I tink some of us are born, at least, with fat cells tat are inclined that way.)

So why do I spend so much time drawing this analogy for you? Well, the medical establishment and the press have spent so much energy demonizing fat and diabetes that most people's first reaction to the diagnoses is guilt that they've done something wrong.

I don't think that's a productive reaction. Diabetes is a is a very tough disease to control when your NOT standing on one foot kicking yourself in the butt over it. It's nearly impossible if you think you deserve it.

There is *NO* "deserve" about diabetes. You don't deserve it, and you haven't done anything wrong if you develop it. Diabetes is a degenerative disease that is largely genetic. You can postpone it by eating right and getting lots of exercise, but if it's in the cards, you can only prevent it by dying before it manifests. True. The medical establishment has demonized diabetes largely because they have demonized fat, and early diabetes (insulin resistance) results in weight gain. But thin people who eat well get diabetes sometimes, too.

Yes, you can probably speed up its appearance by eating too much simple carbohydrate, by not getting adequate exercise, or by surviving too much stress, so if you can avoid those things it's a good idea -- but they'd be healthier choices whether you are vulnerable to diabetes or not.

Please, please, please don't play the blame game about diabetes. You may be on your way to diabetes, but it is in no way your fault. A perfect diet and an Olympian workout schedule would promise you nothing more than a neglected life. Eat as well as you can given your circumstance and get as much exercise as you can fit in without becoming exhausted or neglecting your life. Keep stress low, and keep an eye on your blood sugar -- if certain foods give you trouble, replace them with something else and if your blood sugar starts to read over 130 regularly, see your doctor to get treated. It's not a club anyone wants to join, but it's not the end of the world.

Oh, and diabetes can be a gift in an other way, too. It's an excellent excuse to learn to eat well and to take the time to take care of yourself. That's good for everybody!