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Electromagnetic radiation and wireless radiation are now ubiquitous.  It is almost impossible to entirely escape them, and most people could not imagine why you would want to.  But particularly as the wireless radiation proliferates, more and more people are becoming sensitized to the negative effects of these technologies.

I particularly noticed my own sensitivity when the doctor that I work for changed her entire computer desk setup to wireless – a wireless monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer and a cordless phone.  Within minutes of sitting there my face would become hot – cheeks pink and flushed – and I would feel wiped out, exhausted and ill.  She also started experiencing symptoms and eventually she changed everything back to their wired versions, and now I can sit there for hours at a time.  This is a pretty dramatic example, but I think that the effects – though subtle and unnoticed most of the time – are impacting most of us at the level of our cells – creating deep chronic inflammation and irritation.  And chronic inflammation is being recognized by science as an underlying indicator in almost all disease.

As my own awareness of the dangers of this constant exposure has grown, I have also become aware of some ways to mitigate the exposure.  My friend Elan (techhealthy.com) has recently gone through part of the training to become a building biologist – someone who can evaluate the health and safety of your home based on specific criteria and help you to mediate areas of toxic exposure.   He also is and has for many years worked in the tech industry, so is intimately familiar with all sides of this technology.  I was lucky enough to be his first client after his training.  He came over with his suitcase full of new meters and measuring gadgets.

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It was a very methodical process – the ultimate goal being to create a bedroom space as close to the natural environment as possible so your body can rest and heal while sleeping.  This includes reducing body voltage exposure and wireless radiation exposure as much as possible.  I sat in my bed holding the body voltage meter, watching the numbers fluctuate, while he ran around the house turning fuses off and on, putting up shielding fabric here and there.  Seeing and hearing the concrete measurements shift was very eye-opening.

Apparently I am surrounded by 8 or more cellular antennas within a half mile radius.  Also, the wiring in my home is old – called knob and tube – which is common in San Francisco and causes high electric and magnetic fields throughout the house.  And my next door neighbor has a cordless phone directly opposite my bedroom wall.

To reduce the negative impacts of these exposures he suggested the following steps:  to paint the walls in a carbon-based shielding paint (which is black and needs to be painted over.)

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We painted the walls chocolate brown, with cream ceiling and trim.

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The walls are grounded through a grounding plate connected to a cord which connects to…

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…a grounding rod in the earth.

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I also have shielding fabric as curtains over my windows.  And then I have an added layer of protection using a shielding fabric canopy over my bed.  The shielding fabric is silver and copper thread covered in polyester or cotton.  On top of these measures I also shut the power off to the bedroom at night. The final meter measurements under the canopy had body voltage levels as if I were far out in nature and not in the middle of an urban center.

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It has only been a few days now sleeping this way, but I have already noticed a reduction in symptoms and profoundly deeper sleep.  I am hopeful about the long term beneficial effects of giving my body, for at least 8 hrs a day, a respite from the constant effects of wireless radiation, and high and low level electro-magnetic frequencies.

We are electromagnetic beings, and I don’t think this fact should be underestimated.

An excellent documentary about this subject has been made and is available to watch for free online – Resonance: Beings of Frequency

As things currently are, much of the ambient electrical fields around us is actually trying to ground itself through our bodies.  Compile this with the fact that most of us rarely bring our body into direct contact with the earth, the body voltage we are carrying is extremely high – when it ultimately wants to be at Zero.

This is why grounding or earthing your body can be a significant health aid because you are allowing your body to discharge the extra voltage, as well as absorbing from the vast pool of negative electrons that the earth offers – creating a potent free-radical fighting anti-inflammatory process in your body.   Earthing is accomplished by getting as much surface area of your body as you comfortably can in direct contact with the earth, being sure to remove any insulating materials, such as rubber-soled shoes, that may be in the way.  20 – 30 minutes is an ideal amount of time to reap the benefits of this practice.   caveat – please be cautious that the earth you are grounding into is safe.  High EMF environments, like cities, may have levels of voltage moving through the ground.

I am not a total luddite, although admittedly I tend to lean that way.  I just think that we are barreling forward for convenience and profit at the expense of the precautionary principle.  Let’s create incredible technologies that don’t poison us at the same time.  Let’s create living spaces and cities that are actually regenerative and increase health and vitality.  The technology already exists.

 

Felted Vest

I took another felting workshop with Katharine Jolda in August.  This was a full weekend long vest making workshop.  It was held at Bodega Pastures, a sheep ranch in the coastal hills of West Sonoma County.

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We had lots of wool to choose from thanks to the local sheep.

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Katharine introducing us to the process.

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After picking our wool we began the process of fluffing – a long process of separating the fibers by hand or with hand carders or a carding machine.

But this day was extra special because Katharine had hired two members of Kitka to come out and sing Eastern European folksongs to us as we worked.  A truly magical experience.

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A butterfly wanted to help me with my fluffing.

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Katharine’s famous bicycle-carder.

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After a long day of fluffing and carding in the sun, measuring and cutting out patterns from plastic garbage bags, then getting a tour of the barn, we had a potluck dinner and set up our tents in the field.  And had a campfire before bed.

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Then breakfast with the sheep.

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We started early laying out our fluffed wool on bamboo mats.

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After pouring on warm soapy water, pressing gently, then patting, then rubbing, and rubbing rather briskly the wool began to felt.  At a certain point we layed out our patterns.

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Then it was ready to be rolled.

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Katharine demonstrating the proper rolling position.

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Two lovely examples of felted vests.

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Katharine’s vest with abalone buttons.

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The vest takes a couple days to completely dry. ta daa!

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I still haven’t added the gorgeous buttons I got from Wooly Moss Roots.

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But now that it is getting chilly I will finish this up soon.

 

Apron #2

another bed linen apron made on the treadle…

apron

side aoron

It’s a double-layered nice and thick work apron.

I used this pattern from Ink and Spindle (except I didn’t use the D-rings.  I just made a tie at the neck.)

pillowcase apron

I am starting a project of sewing aprons on the treadle made from re-purposed kitchen and bed linens.

This first one was super easy – almost felt like cheating – because the pillow case already had a nice ruffle on it.

pillowcase

I simply cut off the part I didn’t want.

cutting pillowcase

Then using fabric from a cotton comforter cover I cut out the waist tie.

cutting waist band

Sewed it up on the treadle.

sewing on treadle

ta daa!  Little waist apron.

finished apron on chair

It looks kind of like a skirt…

apron looks like a skirt

…but it’s an apron.

it's an apron

(thanks for taking the pics of me Ma.  That’s her cute patio in San Bruno.)

felted slippers

Sean and I went to the first annual Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium in Point Reyes Station back in November.

Fiber Symposium sign

It was an inspirational event updating the community about the state of the local Fibershed project, uniting artisans, farmers, shepherds, shearers and entrepreneurs.

symposium slide show

local pastures table

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We were inspired by this pair of slippers we saw there.

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We wanted to make our own.  Sean bought some nice brown felt while we were there.  I bought some processed wool from Meridien Jacobs to make a sheet of felt myself.

So first I had to make the felt.  I laid out strips in one direction.

felted slipper wool

Then I laid more strips on top of that in the opposite direction.

alternate wool layout

And a few more layers until I had a nice thick pile.

ready to get wet

Close up.

wool close up

Then I dribbled warm soapy water all over it.

sprinkling water

Then I began to gently PRESS the wool, letting it soak up the water and start to squish together.

pressing

After a while of that I started to gently rub with my hands back and forth, creating friction.  I used a little plastic mesh bag to help create friction without disturbing the fibers too much until they really started to cling strongly together.  Then I began to rub pretty vigorously as the fibers shrank and got more tightly enmeshed.

rubbing with scrubby

I actually ended up throwing it in a quick wash and spin cycle of the washing machine to felt it further, then let it air dry.

Once it was all dry we were ready to cut out our slipper patterns we had found online here.

cutting out pattern

all cut out

cutting slit

tools

tools.

 

Sean sewing

Sean and his slipper.

 

working on the heel

the heel.

Sean has only finished one so far.

one done

We used embroidery thread to sew around the edges.

sewing in rocking chair

close up

both done

Rustic but functional. 🙂

the heels

Then I added some leather soles.

leather soles

First time I used an awl.

hole punching

sole stitches

ta daa!

yay, slippers.  I love them.

slippers finis

The whole process took about nine hours, spread out over three days.

I have leftover felt, so I’m sure I’ll be trying some other patterns.

Winter Solstice 2012

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The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning of Dec. 21.

This year I had no tree or decorations other than a wreath and door swag that I made at a community wreath making workshop at the Sunnyside Conservatory in SF.

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Working with these materials was aromatherapy.

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Also, as gifts this year I made little packages of blank photo cards w/envelopes.

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A time of making and gifting.

A time of welcoming solar energy.

A time of endings and beginnings.

A time like and not like all other time.

 

felting with Sean

On a very rainy Saturday Sean and I took a felting workshop at Tilden Park in Berkeley.  There were lots of options of what we could make.

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The instructor gave us wool from the Little Farm’s black  welsh mountain sheep to use.  The wool was slightly brown because the wool gets “sunburned.”

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Sean helped out with the carding – preparing the wool by pushing it through a series of combs.

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Then came the gentle stage of softly pressing the wool for a while, with a little added warm water and soap.

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And then much later the stage of pretty vigorously rubbing rubbing rubbing, and then rubbing some more.

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The rain cleared for a while and we got to walk around the farm.  And we got to meet the rams our wool came from.

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pretty impressive horns.

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She was flirting with us.

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After bringing them home, rinsing well and letting dry, we have little pouches!  Sean made a little wallet pouch with a cool decorative moon, and I made a slightly bigger purse that I will add straps to.

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The East Bay Parks have an amazing Activities Calendar.  They have such a variety of interesting classes, workshops and walks – and at a very reasonable cost.  And it is a great way to start to explore some of our many regional open spaces. They are a valuable resource.  Check them out if you can:

http://www.ebparks.org/activities

 

click on the Activity Guide PDF.

 

 

Atl Atl and dart making

I am going through a mini-obsession with learning basic hunting and gathering skills.

I recently went fishing for the first time, and did some shooting practice with an old 22, on a visit to my grandparent’s house in Maine.  I’ve always been curious about archery, and then I came across this workshop in the calendar of events in the East Bay Parks Guide.  Atl Atl and Dart making at Tilden Park.  This is a hunting tool used all around the world pre-bow and arrow.  The atl atl is basically a stick with a hook on it that you use to throw a spear with greater strength and distance.

atl atls

They are made in many different ways and out of many different materials.  We were given some basic tools and basic instructions and then just started hacking away at some branches.  Having the right tool to do the job is the key with wood working.

tools

tools and such

instructions

instructions

Clamps are very handy.

clamped

So was this awesome axe.

axe

I used a saw to make the lines.

A knife to hack out the wood bits.

I forget what this tool was called, but it was amazing for shaving the wood.

Then this file thing to smooth out the edges.

scraper

After attaching a handle it was done.

ta daa!

atl atl

atl atl

The instructor demonstrated how to attach the feathers to the dart.

adding feathers to the dart

adding feathers to the dart

the finished duo.

atl atl and dart

atl atl and dart

Target practice:

me with atl atl

throwing

Learning about this appealed to me for a few reasons:

Historical curiosity, connecting with natural elements, learning new skills, and having fun.

I doubt I would actually use this to hunt for food, but it is actually legal in some states to do just that. As with everything else, there are atl atl enthusiasts out there, with even a World Atl Atl Association (WAA).

canning craziness…

I was going to skip doing a blog post this month but my mom really wanted me to show the extent of our preparedness for our two week cross-country road-trip coming up soon.

All of my other projects have been set aside this month for canning.  LOTS of canning.

canned food

I am having food allergies and intolerances to a higher degree than normal right now, so my diet is very restricted.  I decided in order to be the most comfortable and relaxed on our trip we would just have to bring all of our food.  Thus the canning frenzy.  I’ve pretty much got it down to a rhythmic flow by now though.

We also have invested in a travel water filter to insure we have access to clean water.  The Berkey system is economical and sturdy.

Berkey

We will have a bit of a heavy load, but we are so excited to see friends and family all along the way across the continent.

And to have our good home-cooked food with us.

Fun with Fermentation

Fermentation happens.  It just does.

And you can make it happen.  This is really fun.  Sure, you can have mis-steps, and mess-ups, but once you get the hang of it, the magic starts to happen.

Everything, and I mean ev-er-y-thing, has some population of bacterial organisms on it.  You, me, fruits and vegetables, the table, the air.  They are everywhere.  Think of it – food starts to spoil due to bacteria and this can make compost, leaves and twigs decompose into soil due to micro-organisms, and fungi, the major decomposers of the planet, interact with plant roots via bacteria to help feed them. Try to imagine life without these processes.  They are absolutely necessary.

Lacto-fermentation is a process of encouraging a particular type of bacteria – lactic-acid producing bacteria – to thrive.  The key to doing this is to create an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment under a liquid brine.  Salt is used to inhibit bacteria that might cause putrefaction.  Salt also helps pull the natural juices out of whatever you are fermenting to add to a nice brine.  If not enough juice is expressed to completely cover your fruits or veggies, then simply add water.

Another ingredient you can add is whey, which is the liquid extraction from milk or yogurt.  This simply acts as an innoculent to again encourage a beneficial bacterial population, but it is not really necessary.  Fermentation can happen beautifully with simply a salty brine.

To make whey, as Sally Fallon recommends in Nourishing Traditions – the bible for making traditionally prepared whole foods, find some really good quality whole milk yogurt.  You will also need some tools to strain it.  I use a ceramic coffee filter with a cloth insert.  You can also use a cloth napkin in a mesh strainer.

whey ingredients

Pour the yogurt into your cloth, cover with another cloth and let sit over night.

making whey

In the morning you will have a cup of whey and a batch of yogurt cheese, which is just like cream cheese but a little yogurty.

yogurt cheese and whry

The whey should last a few weeks in the fridge.  The cheese a few days.

in jars

Lacto-fermented pickles are very different from the pickles you buy at the store, which are simply in a brine of vinegar and spices.  You may like the taste of vinegar and it is perfectly fine to eat.  However, you will be depriving yourself of a super healing food created by lacto-fermentation that vinegar can’t touch.  The lacto-fermented pickle may not taste as strong as a vinegar pickle (or it may!) but it will be tart and tangy and full of lactic acid which is hugely beneficial for our digestion and our digestive tract.  When we eat lacto-fermented vegetables we are populating our gut with beneficial bacteria, which helps create a healthy internal environment.  Science is showing that most of our immune system and large numbers of neural cells (our brain) is in our gut, so really in order to be healthy we need a healthy gut.  It is our first line of defense and affects everything else happening in our body.  Pro-biotics are terrific and you can buy many different brands at the store, but I dont think any have the punch of homemade ferments.

So this is the magic of fermentation – this symbiotic relationship with the microbiota to create a truly healing vital food.  Especially when combined with cooked foods in a meal, the enzymes in the ferment help to literally digest the foods that have had the enzymes cooked out of them.  Fermentation is pre-digestion.

Fermentation goes way way way way back.  It was one method of food preservation before refrigeration.  Because as long as the veggies remain under the brine, they will stay good for a very long time.  And you can eat it throughout the process.  As Sandor Elix Katz suggests in his great book Wild Fermentation, you can taste your ferment after a few days and then keep taking from it and enjoying it as it changes over the weeks and/or months.  He also just came out with a new book, The Art of Fermentation, which is on my “to get” list.

So you can leave it out, preferably in a cool place like a basement, or you can put it into the fridge after a few days at room temp to slow down the process of fermentation, adding salt water brine if need be to keep the veggies under liquid.  An ingenious thing that Sandor suggests to keep the veggies covered is to fill a plastic baggie with salty brine and nest it in the top of the jar.  Works beautifully.

So basic ingredients for home-made lacto-fermented pickles, following Sally’s recipe from Nourishing Traditions (except I doubled it):

-about a dozen pickling cucumbers

– 2 Tblspns sea salt

-8 Tblspns whey (optional)

4 Tblspns dill and/or other spices

-filtered water (if needed)

– a 2 quart jar

 

pickle ingredients

Slice up the pickles, place into a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt.  Juices will start to expell after a few minutes.

slicing pickles

Mix in the whey.  Press firmly into your jar, adding in the dill throughout.  Cover with water.

pickles

The next ingredient is time.  Cover with the lid and leave on a shelf at room temperature for 3 days.  You can then move it to the fridge to slow the process down.  After a few weeks in the refrigerator, you should have some lovely pickles.

I recently realized that I was sensitive to many cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.  So this meant that I could no longer go buy my favorite fermented vegetables at the store, like this and this, because they were all cabbage based.  So this meant that if I wanted fermented veggies that I could tolerate I had to make them myself.  This was a big motivator for me, as I am in the process of healing a damaged gut.  I had not had much success in the past making ferments, but this time things seem to be working beautifully.  So persistence is the key.

Some new ferments I am trying are dilly carrots, pickled summer squash, and Saur Ruben – fermented shredded turnips.  The options are kind of endless.  Fun!

veggie ferments

One thing that I have made and will continue making forever is Beet Kvass.  This has been my medicine for a long time.  This is fermented beet water.  3 medium sized raw beets are peeled and coarsely chopped up.  Put into a large jar with a tablespoon of sea salt and 1/4 cup of whey.  Cover with water to fill the jar.  Let this sit at room temp for a few days.  A scum may form on the top.  Simply remove this, stir, and strain out the beet pieces.  Put in the fridge.  It can be used right away.  1/4 cup before meals primes your body for digestion and helps the liver and bile do their jobs.  It tastes salty and sour.  Potent nourishment.

beet kvass

So here is to having some fun with fermentation.

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