Monday, July 31, 2006

Headstand: Exhilaration!

Yesterday in yoga class I did a headstand for the first time, in the center of the room --- with only a little help from my two spotters. It was exhilarating! Of course, when I tried it by myself today, I could not do it. But now that I am over my fear of being completely upside down, I will keep working on it. Here is a photo of a headstand, although it is NOT a photo of me. And no, it doesn't hurt your head. The weight is in your arms, shoulders and lifting legs. It felt like joyous flying. Probably I was delirious from the blood rushing to my head. 8-)

Chattanooga Trip

This past weekend, I attended a yoga teacher training in Chattanooga. Once again I forgot to get a class photo! Below is a self-photo I took on an alternate route home that my husband recommended, which turned out to take me up and over a tall mountain on switchbacks. Great vista. Even though I crawled at about 10 mph over that mountain, the new route saved me about half an hour which is welcome on a long trip. And I got to drive through Hiawassee, which is always beautiful (big lake with mountains right to the waterline).

The other photos are of two churches across the street from each other, that were near the class site. I hope you will click on the photos to see them larger; the thumbnails really do not do them justice. The structures were absolutely amazing, even better in person. The closeup of the doors is of the red brick church. It's St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and their website has photos of the interior. They even have a labyrinth, wish I could have walked it! One of the other class participants told me that Chattanooga has been known as the "City of Churches".


My sister has started her Blogspot. Check her out!

Friday, July 28, 2006


Here is a photo of our cat Tate' (TAH-tay), lying behind my DH's computer. The computer displays a photo of Darrell's blog about his cat Kato (who is presumably keeping watch for intruders).

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Blogger Isaiah tagged me in a cyber game. I normally don't do this stuff either, but it is a fun way to see other people's blogs.

Here's the guidelines:

The first player of this game starts with "5 weird things/habits about yourself". In the end you need to choose 5 people to be tagged and list their names. The people who get tagged need to write a blog about their 5 weird things/habits, as well as state this rule clearly, then tag 5 more victims. Don't forget to leave your victim a comment that says "you're tagged!" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

5 Weird things/habits about me:

(Because I am so naturally disorganized, I have to consciously build structure around myself to keep from stressing out, crashing and burning. I am an Aries Sun AND Aries Moon, plus a Pitta dosha! ACK! sooo...)

1. I keep an organizer manual specific for Christmas planning and start planning Christmas a minimum of 12 weeks out. Otherwise I turn into a screaming insane person and am no fun and have no fun. My Christmas manual is a blend of the FREE organizer Holiday Control Journal from FlyLady and the manual at Organized Christmas.

2. I also clean my house using the FlyLady's advice of using a timer. I clean in for 15 minutes in a room and when the timer goes off, move to a different room. Changing rooms really makes a difference and somehow you can go a lot longer without it being drudgery. FlyLady's program (FLY: Finally Loving Yourself) ties in how we keep our homes with how we are treating ourselves personally. It's a deceptively deep philosophy of self-care.

3. Since going into business for myself, I had to get a handle on bookkeeping. My natural inclination is to wait until tax time and then scramble around gathering receipts and feeling miserable. This year, I have been entering all outgo and ingo immediately onto my computer - do not pass go! This is going to make a huge difference.

4. I usually post a monthly calendar on my refrigerator with all my appointments (another FlyLady idea). I check it the night before and therefore I know what I am doing, when to get ready, and am now rarely late.

5. I make a menu plan each week with shopping list. I go grocery shopping once per week. Since my meal plan from morning to bedtime is already planned, I never have to wonder what to cook or if I have the ingredients. I know my nutrition is balanced. I have kept off a large amount of weight that I lost for three years now using this method.

I am tagging my sister who has registered a blog on blogger but not written anything yet. Maybe this will get her started in our blogosphere. She is a fabulous writer! Her main blog is on myspace but you have to register to see that one. Let's see you on blogger, Sarah!

I'm tagging Sarah, Darrell, Trev, Deb, and Bethany (childhood friend from Canada; I knit too, but not as well as she does).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Peace Pilgrimage Photo

Don't have time to write about this today, off to grandmother's house! (Literally!) But here is a photo for those of you who knew we were offering home hospitality to Br. Utsumi and Sr. Denise from the Nipponzan Myohogi temple.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cracker Jacks for Grownups

Here is a tasty recipe from the Chex website that I modified. My version eliminates dairy and cereal additives that may cause migraine (ex: barley malt). Generic cereal brands seem to be the only ones that have ingredients you'll recognize, like oats and salt. Read labels. If you use maple syrup, it will be vegan. I used honey, which is not vegan, but I decided to use up what I have in the cabinets. My version also eliminates nuts, a possible migraine trigger - I substituted pumpkin seeds and it tastes great. I learned about microwaving the mix from one of Sarah Kramer's cookbooks.

Chai Crunch
(Cracker Jacks for Grown Ups)

makes around 5 cups

1.5 cups generic brand mini shredded wheat squares
1.5 cups generic brand Cheerio-style cereal
1.5 cups salted mini pretzels
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds or nuts of your choice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup syrup sweetener (honey, maple syrup, maybe agave nectar or rice syrup)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

optional: 1/2 cup dried fruit (I eliminated that since it is a possible migraine trigger, but this would taste really good with some dried fruit). The original recipe used banana chips. I think raisins would be very tasty.

1. Place all ingredients in a gallon ziplock bag and mush around to distribute the flavorings evenly through the cereals.

2. Remove from bag and place in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave 4-6 minutes depending on your microwave, stirring well every 2 minutes.

3. Remove from microwave and allow to cool. It will be hot! Don't scorch your tongue. 8-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fabulous Hawaiian Record Label

These days it seems when I hear a good song and buy the cd, all the other cuts on the cds are blah. Then I feel cheated.

Hope is restored with the Quiet Storms record label from Hawaii. I have three of their compilation albums and every cut on every album is fantastic. They get lots of play in my stereo.

The ones I like the best so far are in the "Island Roots" series. They feature a lot of tunes in the genre called "Jawaiian", a blend of happy reggae and rap. The term Jawaiian was coined by friends of my husband, two brothers in the Hawaiian band Simplisity - Andy and John Sexton. My husband, Mitch, and the brothers were the band Hawaiian Express when they all lived in Bakersfield, CA during high school.

The Sexton brothers now reside on Oahu. My husband got to sit in with Andy Sexton during a gig when we visited; he played keyboard. Andy introduced Mitch by saying he is a member of the band who has not showed up for gigs in 20 years. Heh. I know you will not believe me when I say the music played that night was on the level of Santana. But it is absolutely true.

One of Quiet Storms' albums, "Island Classics" has some Simplisity cuts that are mind blowing.

Since I purchased Quiet Storms albums while visiting Waikiki, I got to listen to them while traveling around the island. Now when I hear them at home, happy times are evoked. I can't wait for my next visit to Oahu.

Click on the title of this post to go directly to Quiet Storms' website. There, you can hear samples of the music and be transported yourself. There's a reason you always hear people raving about Hawaii.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vat Grown Meat: Your Future Spam?

New frankenfood on the horizon for you meat eaters! VAT GROWN MEAT. It's a process where they take meat cells and grow them in a culture in the lab. The word "cloning" has been used. The meat cells are grown into a jelly like substance and layered onto each other to create bulk. From what I understand, they will have to be mechanically moved around to simulate muscle movements in order to get the right texture. These will be used in sausage, meat patties and nuggets. I heard on the radio that a sausage company with ties to Sara Lee has an interest. Evidently Australian scientists first made the breakthrough on this technology, with a NASA funded researcher close behind.

Lest my cynical relatives think I am making this up, here is where it has been reported: LA Times, the Washington Post, NY Times Magazine, PBS, BBC, Baltimore Sun, the AP and Reuters. Can't get more mainstream than that. Interesting LA Times article, click here.

New Scientist magazine reports that scientists at Touro College in New York have grown slices of fish in the lab. Here's an excerpt from their article:

Quote: Initial experiments to see if the idea could work were rather grisly. Benjaminson's group cut chunks of muscle five to 10 centimetres long from large goldfish. After washing the chunks in alcohol, they immersed them in a vat of fetal bovine serum, a nutrient-rich liquid extracted from the blood of unborn calves, which biologists usually use for growing cells in the lab.

After a week in the vat, the fish chunks had grown by 14 per cent, Benjaminson and his team found. To get some idea whether the new muscle tissue would make acceptable food, they washed it and gave it a quick dip in olive oil flavoured with lemon, garlic and pepper. Then they fried it and showed it to colleagues from other departments.

"We wanted to make sure it'd pass for something you could buy in the supermarket," he says. The results look promising, on the surface at least. "They said it looked like fish and smelled like fish, but they didn't go as far as tasting it," says Benjaminson. They weren't allowed to in any case - Benjamison will first have to get approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Benjaminson concedes that people might be reluctant to eat food grown in fetal bovine serum - not least because of worries about the transmission of vCJD through any rogue prion proteins it may contain.

He tried growing chunks of goldfish muscle in liquid mushroom extract instead, but although the tissue survived for a week, it did not grow. He is hoping to find a friendlier substitute for bovine serum before trying the technique on chicken, beef and lamb. Endquote.

***CJD? That's the human version of Mad Cow Disease, a fatal disease that attacks your brain. There's evidence out now that a percentage of the people dying from supposed Alzheimer's are really dying from the human form of Mad Cow Disease. This disease can have a 10-30 year incubation period before you get symptoms and die.

And no, your food supply is not safe, because cooking does not kill Mad Cow Disease. It's a mutated protein cell, immune to any medicines or cooking. Authorities will tell you that the danger only lies in eating central nervous system parts of the cow...however, in a slaughterhouse, all kinds of tissues are flying around when they are dismembering the animal. Plus fecal matter.

Maybe vat grown meat is sounding a little more appetizing?

If you'd like information about a company working on this, go on over to New Harvest's website and see what they have to say. Make up your own mind.

Blackberry Pickin'

There are some advantages to living in the woods & not being obsessed with mowing your yard. Here's a couple photos of yesterday's blackberry harvest. These will likely wind up in a nice cobbler or some fruit filled muffins. Yum. Yay Earth!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cat Chases Bear Up Tree

If receiving this post by email, click on highlighted title to see the photo. You really want to see the photo. (Our cat, Peta, once charged a 90+ lb rottweiler that had come up on our porch. Charged it and raised her paw to it! Luckily she was inside the screened portion of the porch, so she emerged unscathed.)

June 13, 2006—Perhaps not since the Cowardly Lion has an animal's appearance been so at odds with its attitude.

On June 4 a black bear wandered into a West Milford, New Jersey, back yard, was confronted by a 15-pound (7-kilogram) tabby cat … and fled up a neighbor's tree. Hissing at the base of the tree, Jack the clawless cat kept the bear at bay for about 15 minutes, then ran him up another tree after an attempted escape.

Finally, Jack's owner, Donna Dickey, called the cat inside, and the timorous trespasser disappeared back into the woods.

"He doesn't want anybody in his yard," Dickey said of Jack in an interview with the Newark Star Ledger.

Unlike cats, bears aren't typically territorial, roaming instead over vast areas that would be impossible to patrol for intruders. With a habitat that includes much of North America, black bears are seen fairly often in this region of New Jersey.

Full-grown black bears weigh between 200 and 600 pounds (90 and 270 kilograms) and measure as much as 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. Their diets can include fruits, honey, insects, acorns and animals as big as moose calves—a fact apparently lost on Jack.

—Ted Chamberlain

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beauty in My Yard

Lest you all think there's nothing but giant, horrifying bugs in my yard, I offer these photos from today. A volunteer tiger lily, another flower I can never remember the name of, and one of the blueberry bushes with today's harvest. Oh it is so tough being a vegetarian!

Athens, GA: Go Dawgs!

Lately we've been heading over to Athens, which is only an hour's drive away. Athens is a hip little college town with two dedicated vegetarian restaurants and the Mean Bean, a laid back hippie-Mexican-style place where we can get healthy, tasty vegan food in a relaxed environment. Athens is big enough to have everything you need, while remaining small town enough to have no traffic. We love the old brick buildings of downtown. Here's a photo of my husband as we walked downtown, a picture of the side of well-known vegetarian restaurant The Grit as we approached, and a mural on a liquour store next to Mean Bean (it says, "No Crybabies" and features a large crying baby face).

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!

"their fists were fast as lightning!" ... But in this case, we will be doing yoga. Here are some photos of the new Armour Kung Fu Academy opened by my husband's martial arts teacher. I'm slated to teach yoga there. It just opened and marketing isn't fully underway yet. Location is on 441 just south of Baldwin, Ga. Top photo is of the front entrance (it's a corner space). Bottom photo is the row of shops.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Bug for Pat

I just had to take this photo for my cyber friend Pat, who remarked on the 'horns' on the last bug photo I posted. Take a gander at this beetle's horns!

Alpine Hell-In Georgia

My sister came to visit for the weekend. While she was here, her apt. building caught on fire. All the humans made it out fine but some of the animals, including one of her cats, wound up in the animal hospital.

Before we got the call, she, my husband and I were in Helen, GA which retooled itself into a faux Alpine village for commercial tourist business. Usually I despise going to Hel-In Georgia, but it was fun with my sister. Our new motto: "We never not have fun."

Photos above: 1. Mitch on the Margarita Deck; 2. Sarah in the "Alpine village"; 3. Sarah and me on the Margarita Deck. Note the tubers floating by on the Chattahoochee river.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My parents' house after Katrina

Here's a photo of my brother Elie, and his friends from Knoxville who came to help work on our parents' home in New Orleans. The house had to be gutted down to the studs after Katrina. Elie is the one in the middle; his friend looks just like him!