Monday, June 30, 2008

Square Foot Gardening

I came to the community garden on Sunday and found the most incredible surprise. There, for me on my little plot of land was a special frame with partitions created just for me and my square foot garden! I would like to thank Chris and Jonathan for all of the work that you put into it, it truly makes me happy.
I filled the frame with my special soil mix and planted in each square foot - what did I plant?
Ichiban Eggplant
Japanese Cucumber
Sugar Snap Peas
Green Bell pepper
heirloom cherry tomato
heirloom carrots
Japanese Baby Corn
Bok Choy
Chinese Lantern
Sweet Peas
Vanilla sunflowers
WHite cosmos
Romain Lettuce

We will see what comes about, but it's official, my garden has begun! It feels extremely good to turn the mind off and play in the dirt, helping little seeds grow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cupcake Pickle

Here's my newest addition to the family:

Raw Milk

I did something cool today - I went to the State capital in Sacramento and helped to fight pass a bill to keep raw milk on the shelves in California - and we won! It was wonderful really to watch the legislative process happen - to watch a representative propose the bill and have witnesses argue for and against it. What a tense moment for people who's businesses are affected by the passing of a bill. I felt a huge sense of purpose and camaraderie when we heard the votes happen before our eyes.

If you were not aware of the benefits of Raw milk, I would love to share with you the flip side of just how nutritionally deficient pasteurized milk is. Milk in its raw, live form is a tremendous whole food that helps our immune system to remain robust.
The following material is just one helpful explanation, taken from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D:

Some people have a low tolerance to milk because they lack intestinal lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose, or milk sugar. All baby mammals produce lactase but production of the enzyme declines and may even disappear after weaning. In humans, a mutation or recessive gene allows the continued production of lactase in some individuals. In an isolated population that depends on milk products for animal protein, those with this gene would have an advantage. If a gene for the persistence of lactase had a frequency of 5% in such a population, in 400 generations its frequency would have risen ti 60% assuming that hose who possessed it had 1% more children per generation that intolerant individuals. Natural selection is the mechanism for adapting isolated populations to the food available to them. But modern man is highly peripatetic and no society in the western world is composed entirely of people whose ancestors come from the immediate region.
By some estimates, only 30-40% of the world's population produces lactase in adulthood. Overuse of antibiotics also contributes to lactose intolerance. However, most lactose intolerant individuals can consume milk products in small quantities without problems. Asians are said to be lactose intolerant but many of the inhabitants of Japan and China drink milk and eat milk products like cheese, yoghurt and ice cream when they can obtain them
In addition, some people are allergic to a milk protein called casein, which is one of the most difficult proteins for the body to digest. Once again, the process of natural selection will reult in a population more able to digest csein if milk and milk products are part of the traditional diet.
The practive of fermenting or souring milk is found in almost all traditional groups that keep herds. This process partially breaks down lactose and predigests casein. The end products, such as yoghurt, kefir and clabber, are often well tolerated by adults who cannot drink fresh milk. Butter and cream contain little lactose or casein and are usually well tolerated in their natural state, even by those who are lactose intolerant. Even so, fermented or soured butter and cream are more digestible. Those with an extreme intolerance for milk protein can take butter in the form of ghee or clarified butter from which the milk solids have been removed. Cheese, which consists of highly concentrated casein, is well tolerated by some and best completely avoided by others. Cheese made from raw milk contain a full complement of enzymes and are therefore more easily digested than cheese made from pasteurized milk. Natural cheeses, whether from pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, will be more digestible when eaten unheated. Processed cheeses contain emulsifiers, extenders, phosphates and hydrogenated oils; they should be strictly avoided.
While some lucky people are genetically equipped to digest milk in all its forms, the milk sold in your supermarket is bad for everybody, partly because the modern cow is a freak of nature. A century ago cows produced two or three gallons per day; today's Holsteins routinely give three or four times as much. This is accomplished by selective breeding to produce cows with abnormally active pituitary glands and by high-protein feeding The pituitary gland not only produces hormones that stimulate the production of milk, it also produces growth hormones. Recently the FDA approved a genetically engineered growth hormone for cows. These hormones are identical to those produced by the pituitary gland in today's high production cows. This practive will simply add to the high level of bovine growth hormones that have been present in our ilk for decades. These hormones are present in the water fraction of the milk, not in the butterfat. Babies receive growth hormones from their mothers through their mothers' milk. Small amounts of these hormones are necessary and moderate amounts are nnot harmful, but a superfluity can result in growth abnormalities. Excessive pituitary hormones are also associated with tumor formation, and some studies link milk consumption with cancer. The freak-pituitary cow is prone to many diseases. She almost always secretes pus into her milk and needs frequent doses of antibiotics.
Another serious problem with today's darying methods is the feeding of high-protein soybean meal to the cows. This stimulates them to produce large quantities of milk but contributes to a high rate of mastitis and other problems that lead to sterility, liver problems and shortened lives. Little research has been done to determine what these soy feeds do to the kind and quality of protein in cow's milk. Is the current high rate or milk-protein allergies due to the use of inappropriate feed in our dairy herds? The proper food for cows is green plants, especially the rapidly growing green grasses in the early spring and fall. Milk from properly fed cows will contain the Price Factor and cancer-fighting CLA as well as a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, under the current system, farmers have little incentive to pasture-feed their herds nor to follow other practices that result in high quality milk.
Another factor contributing to the degradation of today's milk is pasteurization. We have been taught that pasteurization is beneficial, a method of protecting ourselves against infectious disease, but closer examination reveals that its merits have been highly exaggerated. The modern milking machine and stainless steel tank, along with efficient packaging and distribution, make pasteurization totally unnecessary for the purposes of sanitation. And pasteurization is no guarantee of cleanliness. All outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades - and there have been many - have occurred in pasteurized milk. This includes a 1985 outbreak in Illinois that struck over 14,000 people causing at least one death. The salmonella strain in that batch of pasteurized milk was found to be genetically resistant to both penicillin and tetracycline. Raw milk contains lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply. Raw milk in times turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurized milk, lacking beneficial bacteria, will putrefy.
But that's not all that pasteurization does to milk. Heat alters milk's amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available; it promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins. Vitamin C loss in pasteurization usually exceeds 50%; loss of other water-soluble vitamins can run as high as 80%; the Wulzen or anti-stiffness factor is totally destroyed as is vitamin B12, needed for healthy blood and a properly functioning nervous system. Pasteurization reduces the availability of milk's mineral components, such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur, as well as many trace minerals. There is some evidence that pasteurization alters lactose, making it more readily absorbable. This, and the fact that pasteurized milk puts an unnecessary strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes, may explain why ilk consumption in civilized societies has been linked with diabetes.
Least but not least, pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk - in fact, the test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes. These enzymes help the body assimilate all bodybuilders, including calcium. That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer from osteoporosis. Lipase in raw milk helps the body digest and utilize butterfat.
After pasteurization, chemicals may be added to suppress odor and restore taste. Synthetic vitamin D2 or D3 is added - the former is toxic and has been linked to heart disease while the latter is difficult to absorb. The final indignity is homogenization, which has also been linked to heart disease.
Powdered skim milk is added to the most popular varieties of commercial milk - one% and two% milk. Commercial dehydration methods oxidize cholesterol in powdered milk, rendering it harmful to the arteries. High temperature drying also creates large quantities of cross-linked proteins and nitrate compounds, which are potent carcinogens, as well as free flutamic acid, which is toxic to the nervous system.
Modern pasteurized milk, devoid of its enzyme content, puts an enormous strain on the body's digestive mechanism. In the elderly, and those with milk intolerance or inherited weaknesses of digestion, this milk passes through not fully digested and can built up around the tiny villi of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients and promoting the uptake of toxic substances. The result is allergies, chronic fatigue and a host of degenerative diseases.
All the healthy milk-drinking populations studied by Dr. Price consumed raw milk, raw cultured milk or raw cheese from normal healthy animals eat fresh grass or fodder It is very difficult to find this kind of milk in America. In California, New Mexico and Connecticut, raw milk is available in health food stores, although such milk often comes from cows raised in confinement.
In many states you can buy raw milk at the farm. If you can find a farmer who will sell you raw milk from old-fashioned Jersey or Guernsey cows, tested free of tuberculosis and brucellosis and allowed to feed on fresh pasturage, then by all means avail yourself of this source.
Some stores now carry pasteurized but not homogenized milk from cows raised on natural feed. Such milk may be used to make cultured milk products such as kefir, yogurt, cultured buttermilk and cultured cream. Traditionally cultured buttermilk, which is low in casein but heigh in lactic acid, is often well tolerated by those with milk allergies and gives excellent results when used to soak whole grain flours for baking. If you cannot find good quality raw milk, you should limit your consumption of milk products to cultured milk, cultured buttermilk, whole milk yoghurt, butter, cream and raw cheeses - all of which are available in all states. Much imported cheese is raw - look for the words "milk" or "fresh milk" on the label - and of very high quality.
See for a listing of raw milk and milk products from pasture-fed animals.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Painting In-Progress

I've been working on one of my little paintings -it is of a girl pulling a mystical plant out of the ground with her magical powers - symbolically speaking - aside from this painting coinciding with my new desire to grow my own plants, I see a much deeper meaning which is the desire to quickly manifest mystical events into my life. A person that is attracted to this painting (IMO) believes they are a manifestor of the things they want in their life, or finds that idea extremely satisfying.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don't shit where you eat

So I've decided that I want to grow my own vegetables. There's a community garden that I've been volunteering at and it has helped me to see just how valuable for the body it is to eat a vegetable that just came out of the ground. I have a tiny outdoor patio at my house and I have been doing some research about gardening in small spaces - I have found something that I really love - called "square foot gardening" - and the special thing about it is that you partition your garden space into square foot sections and plant your crop in that space. You never till the soil after the harvest - just add another layer of compost. -Saves alot of water and space and does not deplete the soil like traditional row gardening.

My friend Jonathan took me to a compost workshop today and we learned about the way to go about composting in your own backyard. San Francisco actually has a fantastic composting system - many people have their trash, recycling, and composting taken on the curb - and all of the composting gets taken to a huge industrial composting plant where it gets processed and turned into beautiful (black gold) compost. Another method of waste management was brought to my attention - "humanure" - composting your own feces! Its true it makes a closed-loop circuit of waste - but can you imagine feeding a tomato to your guest that you know was grown in your own dookie? Seems un-kosh. Anyways - here's a picture of a good composting bin and my second most cupcake painting.

If I try to interpret these paintings I would say that cupcakes are the quintessential food of happiness. They serve their purpose by being a sweet dessert that is specifically yours. There's no "sharing a cupcake" - it's personal, its a cake to call your own. I would say a cupcake is the perfect symbol for the way I would like to see the events of my life. Though sometimes the events that come may be seemingly negative or against the grain of what I want, the symbol of a cupcake I believe is something that can transform that moment and make it into something sweet, serving its purpose of creating happiness. It's a symbol of comfort and with it comes additional symbols - Thus far - the button: Such a tiny item that can keep two pieces of fabric together. A master of appearing humble, yet when put to work it does its job well.
And the drinking straw - a symbol of purposefully pulling the essence out of the drink of desire. In this case it is choosing to drink the cupcake of happiness :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Discoveries & Cupcakes

My eyes have been opening lately to all it is that the universe has to offer. I've always heard "the world is your mirror" but never really put it into play until recently attending a "level 1" workshop put on by the aspire foundation. I learned that the world really is my mirror and those times when a person really, really bothers me, or really attracts me - it is nothing but a reflection of the way I feel about my self. Oh how many people I have purposefully not spoken to because I had judged them quickly - where the judgment was only a projection of my own reality. I've learned that no one can really hurt me verbally - anything they say to me can only really come from their own dream world - therefore how can they accurately judge my state if they cannot see past their own?
Each one of us is really a brightly shining star that has an infinite amount of energy to give and receive. Many of us are so afraid of being hurt by another that we hide our bright light by creating a game or mask around ourselves in order to prevent any kind of pain. I have learned that it takes being vulnerable and accepting the universe as a perfect matrix for our own creation and expansion.
This all probably sounds just like words with no meaning - I hope to elaborate with new examples. If you have never heard of the aspire foundation, I would highly recommend attending their workshops - it has absolutely brought more beauty and truth into my life -

Anyways - I've been painting , here's a new finished piece (yes it's a button on that cupcake) and one that I just drew out and will paint soon. I thought it might be fun for you to watch my process.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post Europe

I must say - Leaving your home for 4 months to explore is a life-changing experience (which is a complete understatement). I haven't posted since I returned... There was a part of me that wanted everything to be just so upon my return. I had plans in my mind of how life would be - I would pick work back up right where I left off... Find a place to live quickly in San Francisco and be on my merry way. Eventually all of those plans happened, but they happened in a time line that took much longer than I expected.

During this period after arriving back to the united states I went through many transformations and necessary submission to the wacky ways of the universe. Spent time living with my parents, even my grandmother - the more I would try to control the circumstances in my life, the more resistance I would face. Eventually I just had to give up...allowing the universe to give me whatever it wanted. I found a place to live in San Francisco finally with wonderful roomates in a perfect location, and shortly after I found work - teaching at an Art University in Sacramento.

I drive between the 2 cities, living a weekend life in San Francisco and a working life in Sacramento where I can share my creative inspiration with my students. I have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. To learn information with the intention of teaching it to another is a powerful process. I believe I have increased my knowledge of my industry by at least 40% since I started teaching.

It has been 7 months since my return from Europe and I would say that I have finally adjusted. I am so grateful for having gone on that trip - I feel like it was fundamental in my process as a human and necessary for me to learn to depend solely on myself...not to mention some great photos and paintings. I believe my true essense started to leak out into my paintings during my trip and I found a way to truly let go and not think when I am creating.