Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I am lucky to have visitors from Switzerland who are interested in Arizona culture and art. I am also interested, but not inclined to get out on the road on my own to seek more than I have right at home. In order to show my friends part of our state and share a couple of days sight seeing with them I booked an air bnb accommodation for us in Sonoita, AZ. It was a perfect central location to explore Santa Cruz and Cochise County. These sky islands are unique habitats that are completely different from Europe. The vast expansive views and the snow on the mountains (it was snowing in Sonoita and Patagonia when we arrived) made this area very attractive for movie makers involved with cowboy flicks. The movie Oklahoma was shot down there in the picturesque grasslands south of Tucson. The Swiss ladies loved the landscape, the little towns and the people. To complete the western experience we drove to Tombstone to see the courthouse museum, the restored part of town, and the specialty shopping only the town too tough to die has to offer.
My friend invited me to go to the comedy gun fight show, something I am sure I would not do on my own. It turned out to be very entertaining and well produced. I enjoyed it and give props to the actors that play the gun slinging characters. They do an excellent job of making it look spontaneous while keeping it safe for everyone. One of the actors is a real Arizona Ranger, which I think is very cool. All of them need a good sense of humor as well as much skill with firearms to do this show. The audience easily gets involved with the action which is slapstick. If you are visiting Tombstone this show will add to your enjoyment of the town. If you still want more gun fights they also do the gunfight at the OK Corral reenactment several times daily. Both are done well, but we already know how the OK Corral ends. The actors walk around town to promote the shows, so if you skip the performances you still get a glimpse of the fine costuming. Everyone is extra friendly because tourism is the only reason Tombstone is so tough. People from all over the world have a good time hanging out there. For an authentic welcome and some very hospitable local color, check out the town too tough to die.
I was lucky to find a perfect celebration for my birthday this year. I just discovered my local beer garden, Tucson Hop Shop. I am not a big beer drinker but am enthusiastic about supporting local business and local craft products, including beer. This classy yet casual spot is perfect for our neighborhood, located in the Metal Arts Village, a space for metal artists’ studios. The Hop Shop has developed a following and has instigated new events that bring the community together for fun. My big birthday gift this year (besides Medicare) is a visit from two Swiss ladies on vacation. I have been enjoying showing them around town because they are really open to culture and ready to party. The SyncHOPation event not only happened on my birthday but was walking distance from home.
Spiritual Gangster is a team that teaches yoga classes around the city in pop up locations. I have never seen yoga with a DJ before, and now I am a complete fan of the idea. I have taught and taken plenty of yoga classes, with and without music. To have a creative DJ work the class is another level of wonderment. The other aspect of the pop up that can be very popular is beer. The participants in the class at the Hop Shop were presented with a pint of beer when they turned in their class tickets. The $5 fee for both yoga and beer is a screaming deal.
My visitors and I had a fine time meeting people, drinking beer and dancing. The art studios were open, the parking lot was blocked off for the event, and the crowd was in a very good mood. Pizza and popcorn food trucks were serving delicious snacks. We enjoyed both with our beverages. My friend Steffi took the yoga class while Pia and I watched from a table on the patio. We toured the studios, did some dancing to the DJ, then walked home. There could not have been a better way to celebrate. If you like beer I highly recommend a visit to the Tucson Hop Shop. It is the perfect place for a party.
The role of rhetoric in politics is to convince voters to take action. Politicians make speeches and conduct public meetings in order to share their views and opinions for the voters’ consideration. There is a difference between absolute empirical truth and rhetorical “truth”. Words meant to sway opinions are crafted carefully to leave impressions on the reader or listener. Theory rather than fact is the realm of rhetoric. Theoretic situations and projections onto the future can not be measured. They are emotional and unpredictable in their very nature. When a candidate tells us what will be happening when he becomes president he is using rhetoric to stimulate our imagination.
Cultural beliefs can’t be proven, but are held by a group to be factual. Prejudice is one of the many forms of cultural belief. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are another kind of cultural belief. Now in American politics there are at least two camps with firm and opposing views about the Constitution. When a lawyer goes to court his arguments are built on rhetorical truths, but his emotional appeal to a judge or jury is often aimed at changing cultural beliefs. Tribal or group dynamics are hard to predict. Our two party system is going through a test in this election cycle. I wonder which way the cookie will crumble in November. I urge the gentle readers to vote and consider carefully all the facts while making a decision. This election is already a game changer. Your vote matters more than it did in the past. Please register to vote, and show up to make your voice heard.
My vendor neighbors at the Heirloom Farmers Market on Sundays are one of the reasons I have so much fun there. Our Garden Goddess Ferments booth is favorably located next to two awesome food trucks and a dining area. All the vendors are helpful and friendly with each other, usually offering a vendor discount as well. I met Saxon Posey on my first time at the market, so I was delighted that our permanent location is right across the way from the Posey brothers business, Desert Edible V’eggs. The name is derived from the recycled egg cartons used as packaging and seed starting greenhouse. Saxon gives credit to his younger brother Bryce for the colors on the logo. They are a cool team.
The well designed starter kits for gardeners are complete with everything you need to begin a garden. All you add is water and care. As Saxon explains, the small time gardener rarely uses a full package of seeds. The V’eggs seeds are planted in peat pots ready to start indoors or in a greenhouse. The box they come in is the first mini greenhouse used to start the seeds. After they sprout the lid can be lifted. When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall they can be planted into the ground or a larger planter to mature. Their system is practically fool proof, and brilliantly well planned. The boys want their customers to be successful as farmers. They have created 35 different garden packs that are seasonally appropriate. These are the kits they offer at the farmers market. They are also creating a new line especially designed for elementary school gardens called Schoolhouse Crops. They feature really easy to grow varieties in the Schoolhouse kits to give the schools a better outcome.
The brothers are personable, funny, and are masters of their own creative business while still in the 4th and 6th grades. I am mighty impressed with this family of entrepreneurs. I feel lucky to know them at this young age, and have to wonder what they will do with this business experience in the future. With a little encouragement from their mom Erika, also a friendly addition to the market booth, there is no telling what these powerhouse Posey boys will create. It is impressive to watch them work. They are featured this month in the edible Baja Arizona magazine, which is a real source of pride for Saxon as you see below.
The Dillinger Days party at Hotel Congress is always a great community event. People enjoy the car show and the costumed gangsters as well as both of our beautiful antique firetrucks on display for the occasion. A fire in the Hotel Congress lead to the arrest of public enemy number one in Tucson in 1934. The era is recreated each year and the locals enjoy watching the reenactment, which includes cops, robbers, and antique firetrucks. A good time is had by all.
I was eating lunch at Maynard’s Market at the train station while Magic Kenny Bang Bang sat at the bar talking to friends. I asked about his top hat costume, which seemed over the top, even at Dillinger Days. He told me that he is a professional magician. Oddly enough, I had just read his name a few hours earlier in association with an event he will MC on Valentines Day and had wondered who he is. He was waiting for his piano player to arrive for a show they would perform later in the afternoon. He did a magic trick at the bar that did baffle and amaze me, so I asked for a quick interview. He was gracious to oblige.
I think the combination sommelier/magician is a unique one. He can do all kinds of magic, but primarily is a people person who enjoys entertaining. I did not stay downtown for his show but think I will go to the Valentine’s event to see what he will do. I love to see the different ways people can make a living from their talents. Magic Kenny is a great example of ingenuity, creativity, and skill.
This election of 2016 gives us an unprecidented opportunity to change our federal government for the better. The American people have been through the economic ringer while banks “recovered” nicely with taxpayer assistance. The real estate market where I live is still on a very slow track to recovery, and the stock market is tanking right now over the price of oil. Ordinary tax payers have felt powerless and probably resentful to see the way our government conducts itself and spends our treasury’s money. Various movements from #OccupyWallStreet to #BlackLivesMatter have coalesced to express rage against the system. As these feelings and political movements grow the ability to share our thoughts has expanded exponentially.
This election may be televised, but the instant power of twitter has changed the way the candidates compete. The playing field is more open to view than the games in the past that decided our national political future. Anyone with a twitter account is free to comment, disclose, and persuade. It reminds me of the University of Texas tower (site of the very first famous mass shooting by a veteran at a school), which says “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) Truth and freedom have been generally under siege from all corners. Each of us has personal truth and freedom, but it gets very gnarly trying to decode the nation’s truth and freedom. These words evoke talk of war and the military, always used to protect our national freedom. The irony now that the veterans of our freedom wars are in bad shape and need care and attention sends a signal that all is not well. All is not revealed. Truth about what happens to our troops, and in our wars has been buried under a giant pile of PTSD. The brave men and women of our armed forces have taken the biggest hit to their freedom and security. Someone has lied to us about the entire nature of this war business.
The economy may or may not be in peril for banks and the super wealthy Americans. The economic outlook for the middle class looks gloomy to me at the moment. Poverty is spreading among the senior population and children. Homelessness and addiction is common for the hero veterans we sent to fight for our “freedom”. These truths should motivate the voters of this nation to look for a better solution. I endorse Bernie Sanders for president because #WeAreBernie. I believe the truth will set us free from unreasonable government, but we need to face the truth together to make this happen. How do you feel, gentle reader? Do you think we can come clean and make the government work for the people? No matter what you think I hope you will vote and make your voice heard.
The first rule of cooking with kraut is like Fight Club, never cook the kraut. The living probiotic culture that gives your homemade sauerkraut all the extra health benefits would be killed if heated above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The zesty flavors as well as the cool temperature are used to create contrast in dishes. Most people think of the Reuben sandwich when they think of this very useful condiment. Indeed, the use of cool crunchy fermented vegetables as part of a well stacked sandwich takes the creation to a new level. I encountered red cabbage kraut in use at my favorite food truck in East Austin a couple of years ago. The Juice Well hooked me on their vegetarian Kraftwork sandwich at first bite because the condiments were spectacular and made in house (or in Airstream to be precise). I never forgot how much bang for the buck one gets out of specialty first rate condiments.
Another obvious use we all know is the hot dog on a bun served with kraut. This time honored combination works well by itself, or with a fermented beverage like beer. I will soon be entertaining real live Europeans in my home. Real live krauts will be eating krauts at my house, so I am gearing up to treat them to some special culinary delights. My friend Steffi will visit with her friend from Zurich for a way-out-west vacation. I have some local places in mind to dine with the visitors, but it will be gem show time in Tucson, not the best season to go to restaurants here. We like eating at home the best anyhow. This is a vegetarian home, with no meat, but I am not adverse to fake wurst. In fact, fake meat is one of the only processed foods I still consume…my biggest guilty pleasure.
Today’s experimental dish, which I just devoured for my breakfast, is a baked potato with Tofurkey Italian Sausage chopped into pieces on top of the spud. I topped it with spicy and cool Cowboy Kraut from Garden Goddess. I am very full and happy with the way this tasted. I added some cheese between the potato and the slaw, which is cool for all of us lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegans might add something else. The flavors worked well, and the contrast of warm and cool made it all the more satisfying. I know not everyone wants sauerkraut for breakfast, but my craving for the stuff has reached an advanced stage. I have become officially crazy for kraut. Do you have any ideas or recipes to share with me on my new favorite food?
My father was a petroleum engineer by profession. He had a PHD in industrial engineering (computers) from Texas A&M, and taught in the petroleum department of that university until his retirement at an advanced age. He started his life with a schoolteacher mother and a father who drilled oil wells before the invention of the rotary bit. He was born in Independence, Kansas, in the Cherokee Strip, in 1920. The affluence the oil boom provided to the area was unprecedented anywhere in the world at the time. His undergraduate degree from Oklahoma University in the 1940’s was earned with a slide rule, his PHD in the 1960’s was figured on a main frame computer that filled a large building on campus, but had only a little bit more power than that slide rule. Only a true engineer could love computers at that time, and my father was completely smitten. He used to rave about the amazing power of data processing at the dinner table when I was in high school. I thought he was just nuts.
The engineer archetype was the dominant feature in my dad’s personality. He was mathematical to a fault because he always tried to prove his own assumptions with his “research”. He had no mechanical ability, no tools, and no inclination to fix things around the house. He was master of the lawnmower and the Hasty Bake smoker, but my mother was in charge of repairs and maintenance of every kind. I think my dad had a hammer and a screwdriver, but the garage shelves were filled with chemicals, crude oil in jars, and fishing gear. Tools were not featured at all. He was famous in the field of petroleum engineering, but to those who knew him best, his family, he was absent minded and out of touch with reality. When both of my parents became hot air balloon pilots in their 60’s it was my mother who repaired the balloon and drove the chase car. My dad took unreasonable risks flying balloons, and made some very hard landings as a result. He injured himself in one of those hard landings to the point that he gave up commercial flights. His positive ability of the engineer to design innovative solutions for problems seemed to by limited to oil fields, but not apply to real life. He was connected to the mechanical, but not the emotional reality of all things. This took him to some dark places with serious consequences for both him and our family.
The father archetype, when true to its higher purpose, is a caring, protective, guiding force to his family and tribe. Abusive reliance on dictatorial attitudes characterize the shadow aspect of the father. Although my dad was playful, loving, and fun, his fathering was of the controlling authoritarian variety. He was not concerned as much with support and guidance as he was with appearances. His father, my grandfather, was the man I looked to for protection and wisdom. After my grandpa passed away there was only a kind of space cadette petroleum engineer to fill his shoes. Intellectualism does not a father make.
I am not saying he failed completely as a dad. He read Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and other books to me aloud. He did lots of excellent chemistry experiments with me and brought me chemicals and dry ice from his lab. As a fellow alchemist I thought he was the bomb (he taught me to make them). He also took great pains to teach me how to fish. I did like fishing very much when I was a child. Do you have an archetypal father, gentle reader? Positive or negative? Most are a mixture of both.
Our bodies alert us to imbalance and disease long before a diagnosis can be made. I have always had excellent digestion, but a couple of years ago I had to make some dietary changes to stem some new symptoms I had acquired in my digestive tract. My thermogram showed inflammation all along the digestive system, but the real issue was that I felt bad. I had become a burping bubbling mess. I eliminated wine and beer, which made a huge difference in the problem. I also decreased, but did not totally stop, my consumption of bread. These changes, together with some attention to adding the foods that heal the spleen, helped me conquer my indigestion.
During the time I was studying my spiritual path as it coincided with all this unexpected indigestion in my body. I believe there is always some soul element of every physical manifestation. Indeed, I had unresolved, undigested issues about my home and environment that had serious consequences. Stress from trying unsuccessfully to put a stop to crime in our neighborhood had become a permanent drag. I was really sick and tired of reporting crime with no response and no effort made by authorities to stop it. The culture of willful blindness had won the day, and no progress was possible. Now there is a breakthrough!!!
This week our new police chief, Chris Magnus, starts his job running the Tucson Police Department. I have very high hopes that his new energy will uplift the community and bring people together to improve conditions in our Tucson neighborhoods. His reputation for community policing and success in reducing violence precedes him. We need to improve the working relationship between the cops and the citizens here. His experience should prove very valuable to improve the culture of TPD.
My new hobby is fermenting raw foods. I have tried concocting several beverages that are super simple to make and taste great. They have the added benefit of probiotic culture which boosts immunity and assists digestion. Over time the healthy bacteria growing in my beautiful beverages will improve my health, but for now I just love the flavors. At the moment I am fermenting some red cabbage kraut juice, a batch of swizzle, and a batch of ginger beer. When the ginger beer is ready I want to try a second fermentation to add more fizz. The possibilities of delicious new ways to digest the past are endless. Here are directions for you if you want to try making your own switchel, packed with electrolytes from the apple cider vinegar. To your health, gentle reader!!!
The popularity of farmers markets is in the rise. People are interested in fresh sources of local food, and more entrepreneurs are entering the market with new natural products. The variety and quality of locally produced foods has soared in Baja Arizona in the last few years. Specialty growers and artisanal small batch culinary companies are featured at most of our markets. Some feature food trucks and vendors of prepared meals, both frozen and ready to eat on the spot. Many markets have entertainers, usually musicians, to entertain the crowd. The combination of shopping for special food and being outdoors is a perfect recipe for family enjoyment. The market creates an atmosphere that encourages healthy culture and social engagement.
I have been a customer at many markets all around the world, rarely being disappointed. Yesterday I participated as a vendor for the first time at the Heirloom Farmers Market at the Rillito Race Track in Tucson. I was in training to represent Garden Goddess raw fermented sauerkraut, made in Phoenix, down here in Tucson. The goddess herself, Suzette Smith, showed me how it is done and set me up with the equipment and permits I will need to get going on my own as a market vendor. We had a really great time meeting the customers as well as the other vendors. For our first appearance anywhere in Tucson we had a very warm reception. The flavor as well as the health benefits make fermented foods easy for me to promote. I eat the kraut myself daily with excellent results. I can enthusiastically endorse the changes it has made to my digestive system. Health is valuable to me, but if something does not taste good I am not very likely to get into it. Garden Goddess krauts are so deliciously different from others on the market that I find the sample taste convinces many to buy. Some folks who think they are not fans of kraut change their minds when they taste the Garden Goddess versions of this ancient food. Others who do enjoy it are surprised to find such a full flavored kraut with so many medicinal additives to increase the benefits.
The time flew by yesterday because sharing the day with the community at a market is one of my favorite pastimes. I am feeling lucky to find a new way to participate in the local food culture. It is a blast to turn people on to the wonders and flavors of artisanal sauerkraut.