November 23, 2013

Personality Type -- the Language We Use to Interact with the World

I've just started reading a book by Lenore Thomson called Personality Type: An Owner's Manual. She does an excellent job of explaining what personality types are. The following is from page 23 of 1998 hardback edition of the book.

"...our type does not define who we 'really are' any more than using a particular language defines the nature of the soul. It simply characterizes the way we've learned to participate in life -- to understand and be understood by the world around us.

"Nature equips us in most spheres with more potential than we can actually develop in a lifetime. We are born with a broad range of adaptive possibilities. For example, every infant -- from China to Mexico to New Guinea --  babbles in exactly the same way, using every sound that occurs in every language spoken on earth. It's only as we begin to imitate the sounds we hear around us that certain linguistic combinations become reinforced and others are set aside. If we attempt to learn another language later in life, we can usually recover some of that sacrificed potential. But we may find it difficult to lose the accent derived from our native language.

"So it is with the typological functions. Although we are born with the capacity for many different combinations, we adapt to our environment by developing only one or two -- usually the ones that come easiest to us, modified by opportunity and social expectation. The process is very much like becoming fluent in a language. When we've developed a particular was of interacting with the world, we tend to use other, less-developed functions with something like a behavioral accent."

November 17, 2013

What Is an Extravert?

First of all, before you correct me and tell me that it's spelled extrOvert, let me just say that it was Carl Jung who came up with the term and he spelled it extrAvert.

So, what is an extravert? Many people seem to think that an extravert is a person who is energized by being around other people - and that's totally true for one fourth of the types of extraverts in the world. But the other three fourths are energized by things that may or may not have anything to do with people.

I've met several people who are pretty clearly extraverts, but when we talk about what they are, they call themselves ambiverts or even introverts simply because they don't fit the popular (albiet incomplete) definition of extraverts as people who are energized by lots and lots of other people.

Introverts don't tend to like all being lumped into one category of shy or socially inept because, despite the fact that some introverts are that way, most are not. Likewise, extraverts shouldn't all be lumped into a people-loving group when some extraverts love accomplishment or excitement or possibilities even more.

So here's an extravert chart to help you better understand the extraverts in your life. And if you're an introvert but one of these descriptions seems to capture your personality a bit, that's because every introvert has an extraverted side (and every extravert has an introverted side). Your extraverted side isn't as strong as your introverted side, but given that extraverting means dealing with the outside world, and all of us have to deal with the outside world if we want to live, then most introverts have a fairly well developed extraverted side. This isn't quite as true of extraverts who aren't forced to live in their inner world in the same way introverts are forced to live in the outer world. But extraverts do have an introverted side that is usually subordinate to (that means it works for the betterment of) their extraverted side. So if you're an extravert and you want a better sense of what your introverted side is, check out my previous post on the various types of introverts.

November 15, 2013

What Is an Introvert?

Introvert memes seem to be pretty popular these days. For whatever reason (perhaps the empowering nature of the internet?), introverts are getting their message out there that they're OK. That, "just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean I'm broken."

And I'm down with that. Really, I am. What bugs me... wait, let me restate that, what drives me absolutely batty, is when one of those memes makes a statement that such and such is true of introverts when it's not. It's true of some introverts, specifically introverted thinkers or introverted sensors or what have you. But it's not true of all introverts, and in fact, if you treat me the way that meme says you should treat me because I'm an introvert, I'll punch you in the nose.

So I've made my own introverts meme. (OK, OK. So I've made one before. But I've made a new one. That's my point.) Because lumping all introverts into one box is what bugs me, my meme focuses on how not all introverts are the same. We come in four "flavors." What makes us all the same is that we all live mostly in our inner world. Once we're in there, though, we tend to focus on different things depending on what flavor of introversion suits us.

There are four kinds of introverts. And not only that, but every extravert has an introverted side. So if you're an extravert and you're reading this thinking, "that sounds just like me!" That doesn't mean that you're an introvert. It just means you're identifying your introverted side. 

If you ever talk with typology geeks, you'll see them using terms like Si, Fi, Ti, and Ni. That's just shorthand for Introverted Feeler or Introverted Thinker, etc. 

So how can you care for your introvert? Start by figuring out what kind of introvert it is that you're caring for. Then be sensitive to the preferences and peeves of that person's particular flavor of introversion. 

September 18, 2013

Banana Bread for a GAPS Diet

This recipe is from Internal Bliss: Recipes designed for those following the Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ diet, published by International Nutrition, Inc. The only change I made to the recipe was to put the batter into a muffin tin instead of a bread loaf pan. ... Oh yeah. And I didn't grind my own nut flour. ... and I used butter instead of ghee (even thou we have ghee, but it's kinda pricey, so I rolled with butter). But other than that, I didn't change much. :-}

3 cups Almond Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill blanched almond flour. The book encourages you to make your own. But I'm just wading into this process and taking some short cuts when I can.)
2 Ripe Bananas (The bananas should have some brown spots on the skin.)
1/3 cup Ghee (plus a little extra to grease loaf/muffin pan)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 325°F/170°C.
2. Blend all ingredients until smooth. (I used a food processor for the blending.)
3. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and come out clean. (Or for 45 minutes if you are making muffins. But still check with a toothpick to be sure.)
5. Let the bread cool completely before removing it from the pan.

I think the next time I make this, I'm going to add raisins. It just needs something a little bit chewy in it. Chopped bits of apricot might work well also. My kids argued for chocolate chips, but I don't think that's very GAPS friendly. ;-)

If you want to try the GAPS diet and need some recipes to try, you can order this cookbook through If you get the cookbook, I'd also recommend Dr. Natasha's book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia. I bought both books together at Amazon.

September 16, 2013

Yellow Birthday Cake (AKA Coconut Honeycomb Cake) - GFCF/Paleo

In our continued efforts to change to more of a gut-healing diet, I have recently forayed into the Paleo diet. Invented by a local Fort Collins professor, Loren Cordain, the diet is supposed to mimic the food selections of our ancestors going back thousands, or even tens of thousands, of years. So obviously anything processed or genetically modified is out. But Cordain also kicks grains to the curb (mostly, from what I can tell, because people generally eat grains in the form of highly processed foods).

My sister, Karen, and Nathan both had birthdays last week. When we got together to celebrate as a family, I wanted to have a cake that both of them could eat. (My sister has been on a modified diet for awhile now and Nathan started a Gluten Free / Casein Free diet in early July.) So I checked a book out from the library entitled, Paleo Desserts, by Jane Barthelemy. I settled on the Yellow Birthday Cake, p 31, but I made a few modifications.

Barthelemy relies pretty heavily on a sweetener called Just Like Sugar Table Top. (I believe that's as opposed to Just Like Sugar Baking.) She likes that it's a zero-calorie, zero-carb granulated sweetener that works just like regular sugar. Just Like Sugar is made out of chicory root fiber, also called inulin. But the more I researched inulin, the more I decided it wasn't what we were looking for in our diet. Although Barthelemy listed 6 points that she claims are in inulin's favor (high in fiber, zero calories/sugar/fat/carbs/protein/etc, doesn't promote tooth decay, prebiotic, controls blood sugar levels, gluten-free/dairy-free/etc), I found stories online of people who ended up with digestive problems due to inulin. Studies have also shown that though inulin does feed some good bacteria, it also feeds some bad bacteria and can promote leaky gut syndrome. That's all I needed to hear and I decided to try something else. I explored xylitol and stevia and finally settled on using honey and some stevia in the cake/icing/jam.

I'm going to reproduce Barthelemy's original recipe here first. Then I'm going to follow that with a description of the changes I made. Because the cake is made using a lot of coconut and, in my version, it also included honey, and because it had a honeycomb look and texture once it was cooked, I've named my version the Coconut Honeycomb Cake.

Coconut Icing 
(called 5-Minute Whipped Créme Topping in the book)

2 cups Unsweetened coconut milk, as thick as possible (See my comments on this at the end.)
3 tablespoons Coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Just Like Sugar Table Top sweetener (not Baking)
2 1/4 tablespoons Agar flakes
3/4 cup Unsweetened coconut milk, to cook the agar

1. Have ready all the ingredients at room temperature.
2. Blend the thick coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, and sweetener in any style blender until smooth.
3. In a shallow nonstick pan over medium heat, stir the agar into the additional coconut milk. Cook and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbling and gummy, and the flakes begin to dissolve. Add the agar mixture to the blender immediately and blend well until it is completely liquefied and any lumps are removed.
4. Pour into a bowl and chill for 2 to 3 hours, or until thick. Then keep it out at room temperature if you're using it today. If you're making it ahead of time, this will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, but allow 4 hours to soften at room temperature before using.

Raspberry "Jam"

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup Just Like Sugar Table Top sweetener. (She says she doesn't recommend any other sweetener for this recipe, but I found that honey and stevia worked just fine.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon agar flakes
3 tablespoons filtered water, to cook agar

1. Press the raspberries to drain all the excess liquid. Especially if the raspberries are frozen, it is important to drain out as much liquid as possible.
2. Place the raspberries, sweetener, vanilla, and lemon juice in any style blender. Liquify completely.
3. If you choose to strain out the raspberry seeds, pour the mixture into a medium-gauge strainer over a mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula, tapping the strainer until all pulp passes through. Pour the strained raspberries back into the blender. Sweeten to taste.
4. In a small pan over medium heat, stir the agar into the water. Cook and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes until it is bubbly and gummy and the flakes being to dissolve. Add the agar mixture to the blender immediately and blend well to remove any lumps.
5. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and chill for 1 hour to thicken. Spread it on cakes, cookies... all right -- it tastes great on everything!

Yellow Birthday Cake (AKA Coconut Honeycomb Cake)

5-Minute Whipped Creme Topping (see above)
Raspberry "Jam" (see above
1 1/4 cups Just Like Sugar Table Top sweetener
1 1/4 cups medium-shredded unsweetened coconut flakes (not coconut flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon unprocessed salt
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup thick unsweetened coconut milk, or 1/4 cup thin unsweetened coconut or raspberries, for garnish

1. Prepare the whipped creme chill.
2. Prepare the raspberry jam and chill.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut parchment paper into circles to line either two 8-inch round cake pans or two 8 by 11-inch tart pans.
4. In a dry food processor fitted with the "S" blade, grind the sweetener to a very fine powder.
5. Add the shredded coconut to the sweetener in the food processor. Spin it for a minute to become a very fine powder. Open the lid, stir the bottom, replace the lid, and grind again until the powder is uniformly fine.
6. To the ingredients in the food processor, add the arrowroot, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutritional yeast (if using). Mix well, pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
7. Place in teh empty food processor the egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk. Mix well and then let the mixture sit while you beat the egg whites.
8. With an electric mixer in a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Gradually increase the mixer speed until soft peaks form. Do not beat until dry.
9. Pour the wet ingredients from the food processor into the dry mixture. Stir the batter briefly and thoroughly.
10. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in three parts.
11. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and spread it out flat. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Don't peek or the cake may fall. Check on it after 20 minutes, as the cake can easily dry out. Let cool for about 30 minutes in the pan on a rack.
12. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the edges to keep the plate clean while you frost it. Spread it generously with half of the whipped creme, and then cover it with all of the raspberry jam. Place the second cake layer on top. Spread with the remaining whipped creme and leave the sides unfrosted so the jam is visible. Garnish with sprnkles of shredded coconut and/or a few raspberries, if you desire. Serve and enjoy.

Meg's Modifications

Whipped Creme Topping

For the whipped creme, instead of Just Like Sugar I used about 1/4 - 1/3 cup honey. The overall consistency of the topping was fine, even though I changed out a granulated ingredient for a wet and sticky one. However, because the recipe called for the coconut milk to be thick, I had put the can into the fridge before using it. Then no matter how much I whipped the creme, I ended up with lumps. ... *cough* But as I reread the directions right now, I realize that I used a mixer, not a blender. Perhaps I wouldn't have had a lumpy topping if I'd blended. Then again, next time I do this, I'm not going to fridge the coconut milk first. It doesn't need to be solid until AFTER the ingredients have been mixed. It can fridgitate all it wants after that point.

... I could swear that at some point I added creamed coconut. But as I look back at the recipe I don't see it there. And yet I remember seeing that it required 200grams and that's exactly the amount in a box of creamed coconut. So now I don't know what happened. But my topping had cremed coconut in it in addition to coconut milk.

Raspberry Jam

Honestly, raspberries? Straining out seeds? Next time I'm going with strawberry jam. Raspberries are too much of a pain in the keister. Despite the directions stating that no other sweetener would work, a 1/3 cup honey and a teaspoon of stevia worked out just fine.

Coconut Honeycomb Cake

I don't really like the texture of coconut flakes. So when I food processed the coconut flakes and they didn't turn entirely into the powder I had hoped for, I was kind of disappointed. And when the cake still had a bit of coconut flake texture, I decided that next time, despite Barthelemy's note to the contrary, I'm going to try making this with coconut flour.

I also replaced the Just Like Sugar here with honey and a bit of stevia. Unfortunately, by this time I was so tired of cooking and cutting parchment and separating eggs that I forgot to make a note of how much honey and stevia I used. I know I used a lot less than she calls for in terms of Just Like Sugar. I'll have to pay more attention to this the next time I make the cake.

The finished product tasted a bit like a thick sponge of crepe dough with coconut frosting. It was very light and springy. I hope to make it again soon, with some of the noted modifications, and see if I can make something I like even better. I also hope to buy two cake pans before then. Much to my surprise I discovered that I had only one usable cake pan, and it was already in use, so I made this cake using a tart pan and a pie pan, both of different sizes, which gave my cake a squashed appearance. :-P

August 1, 2013

What is this leaky gut thing that you've mentioned, Meg? Sounds gross.

I've been learning a lot about digestion and leaky gut syndrome lately. I still only have a vague sense of it all, but I thought that writing it all out might help me to synthesize what I've learned, and it might help others understand what I'm talking about when I mention the term "leaky gut."

I think it helps first to review how a healthy gut should behave. The goal of the gut is to take our food, process it to separate out nutrients from toxins and other unhealthful little bits, and then to send the good stuff to the rest of our body for use and to send the bad stuff off to waste processing. It's important to note that not all of this sorting happens in the stomach. Our intestines provide a long conveyer belt through which nutrient processing continues.

Enzymes are important workhorses that spend their little lives sorting out parts. Different enzymes are perfectly shaped to deal with different sorts of starches and proteins and probably a bunch of other stuff as well.  Some enzymes (like pepsin) prefer the highly acidic environment of the stomach to do their work. Other enzymes (like trypsin) prefer a slightly alkaline environment. So if the ph value of any part of your digestive track is off balance, nutrients won't be processed as well as they should be.

Once things are processed into their important and unimportant parts, the body then needs to send the sorted items to the right places. The digestive lining (again, not just in the tummy but all the way along the intestines) have the job of letting the important stuff through and keeping not only the unimportant but also the dangerous stuff out. Think of the stomach lining like a tough guy bouncer type. Better yet, think of it like a whole slew of bouncer guys all standing shoulder to shoulder for wall to wall digestive defenses. Nutrients are allowed through so they can enter the blood stream and feed the body. Everything else (the unusable bits as well as things like the e-coli bacteria that came riding in with your undercooked hamburger or the food coloring from that cool-aid you drank) are shuffled off to buffalo (which means they're flushed out of your system). You can apparently get a decent sense of how your insides are doing based on your poop. If you're going, at a minimum, once a day, and your potty visits tend to be quick and easy, then your insides might be pretty healthy.  If that's not the case, then that's one indicator that something's wrong.

\So that's how it's all supposed to work. But there are lots of things that can go wrong along the way. (Remember, I'm still learning about all this so I might not be 100% accurate in my descriptions, but I think I'm getting the gist of what can go wrong.) For some folks who are predisposed genetically to celiac disease, there's a disconnect between the enzymes that they're carrying in their gut and the shape of the gluten proteins entering the gut. (There's an interesting series of posts from people who are gluten intolerant who claim to not be able to consume even a teeny bit of gluten in America, but when they visit Europe they're able to eat pasta and bread without any problems. One difference could be the amount of gluten in American wheat products vs. European. But another possibility is that Europeans grow a different version of wheat which contains a form of gluten that's easier to process than the gluten found in American grain. I didn't see any scientific answers on this one, but the number of folks claiming to have experienced the difference leads me to believe that it's not necessarily gluten that's the problem but a specific variant or mutation of gluten that's causing the problems.) Proteins can fold. I'm a bit foggy on all this, but it sounds like some gluten proteins are folding their little selves in such a way that celiac's enzymes simply can't process them. So instead of having nutrients separated from unusables, these tummies are left with those original proteins, unchanged. In other words, the initial processing system breaks down, leaving proteins in the system that aren't supposed to be there. These proteins can eventually cause lesions in the digestive lining. It's almost like the unbroken down proteins act as little irritants that eventually scrape away the health of the lining. Imagine putting broken glass in the washing machine when you're cleaning your clothes. You'd end up with shredded clothing. I think that's what's going on in the tummy of the person with celiac disease. And even if you don't get to the point where there are lesions, all that scrubby activity can still lead to inflammation and tummy pain.

Even those that aren't genetically prone towards celiac disease can still have problems with nutrient processing. If something happens and you lose a lot of your enzymes, or they become unhealthy (perhaps due to a yeast infection or a problem with your ph balance), then an otherwise healthy gut can become broken and have similar problems to a person with celiac disease.

And that's just the beginning of the problem. Things aren't going well inside the digestive tract, but now the walls of the digestive tract start to get worn down and sick and stuff that's not supposed to get through starts slipping through. All those bouncers standing shoulder to shoulder are getting doubled over with pain and while they're down, proteins and other stuff start slipping into the blood stream. They don't belong there, and the body knows it. It sends in the army, the auto-immune system, to start taking out the bad guys and protecting itself. This leads to more inflammation as well as all sorts of other reactions (like a runny nose, itching all over your body or localized to certain areas, arterial deposits, and possibly even bigger problems like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some other big time stuff.). Some of those proteins on the loose can even make it up to the brain where they cause problems such as autism symptoms, AHDH symptoms, mood swings, and depression.

And to make matters worse, not only is the stomach lining allowing stuff through that it shouldn't, but it's also not letting through all the stuff that it should. So you might recognize that something is wrong with your digestive tract and start taking vitamins, eating special foods, etc, but if that lining isn't fixed, it won't make one iota of difference. You have to heal the gut before it'll work properly enough to get the good stuff to where it's supposed to go to heal the rest of your body.

All of this is referred to as a leaky gut. Stuff is getting through your digestive lining that's not supposed to be allowed through. I think the term is gross and when I first heard it didn't sound at all to me like what it means. I think "broken gut" or "confused gut" or something like that might fit better with what's going on. But the term that's been coined is leaky gut, so that's what we have to roll with.

If you have a leaky gut, what do you do? The first step is to try to remove some of the foods that aren't being processed properly. This might mean changing your diet to remove gluten, casein, perhaps even eggs, nuts and other common allergens. This will help the gut to have a break from being bombarded with bad guys. Then you have to do things that will help it to heal. You can take colostrum (Yes, the same stuff that new mom's produce for their babies for several days after birth. That's the stuff that coats the baby's digestive tract and helps to protect it from just such problems as these.) either by pill or as a powder mixed in drinks. I've just recently read that glutamine can be helpful as well. And chicken soup, believe it or not, is supposed to work wonders. (When you make the soup, boil the chicken bones for a couple of hours because that's where the helpful stuff is and you need to boil it out into the broth.)

Probiotics (good bacteria) can also help. One way to get probiotics is through pills, but you can also eat yogurt (not the sugary stuff but something with acidopholus and the like). Fermented foods (sauerkraut or kim chi, for example) are full of healthful bacteria. Kefir and kombucha are fermented products and full of good guys. And green leafy veggies are important. Not only do they have nutrients that many people are lacking, but there's fiber in there that apparently count as prebiotics (I just heard about them for the first time today) because they feed other healthy organisms in the gut. I should quickly point out that one instigator of an unhealthy gut is often antibiotics. The antibiotics aren't targeted so they affect all the healthy bacteria in the tummy as well as the bad guys. If the good guys get wiped out often enough they may never get back to full strength without some serious, concerted help on your part.

And what we're learning at our house is that it also takes time. You can't change your diet one day and the next day expect to see immediate change. There are stories of that happening, but there are also stories of it taking a month or more to see good come from the dietary changes. In our household we're hoping that once digestive tracts are happy and healthy, we'll be able to add gluten and casein back into our diets. (According to the doc, casein is a possibility but gluten isn't. We'll see. I've heard from more than one person that once you're off gluten entirely, even just a little bit can end up making you really sick.) In the meantime I'm learning all kinds of stuff about how the gut works, and I'm discovering lots of great recipes that are helping me to get more fruits, veggies and nuts into our family's diet.

If you'd like to learn more, here's a really helpful video that our doctor recommended.

The first and third images used in this article from (I also recommend the article that the images came from. You can click on the link to get to it.) and the second photo is from

July 30, 2013

It's Chia Pudding, Pet!

Remember chia pets? Chia seeds are sprouted on terra cotta animals and other shapes (Duck Dynasty's Willie is shown to the right) to form "hair" or "fur." They first came out in the 1970s and were more than likely the result of someone dropping a whole lotta acid.

Well apparently chia seeds, all on their own, are the newest craze. They're considered a super food (meaning they're nutrient dense). They're packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and contain lots of protein, fiber and antioxidents. To find out more about how awesome these little seeds are, check out this Super Seeds page.

Back in the beginning of July, we decided to put our son on a gluten free, casein free (GFCF) diet. He's had a runny nose ever since he got really sick two years ago and we're wondering if his stomach lining has never healed properly and he has a leaky gut. (I'll write more on leaky guts some day. It's really quite interesting and isn't really what you probably thought of when you first read the term.) I bought several cookbooks on Amazon, and checked out even more from the library, and I've been a cookbook reading queen for the past several weeks. I'd say the most important change we've made has nothing to do with removing gluten and casein from our diets. It seems like adding in more healthful foods (like lots and lots of veggies) has been the greatest boon. (And we were a pretty darn healthy family before. We grind our own whole grains, buy all organic produce, don't eat a lot of processed foods, etc. But as much as I knew veggies were important, they take time. Chopping time, mostly. And sometimes I just don't have the energy to chop. But that's where the blender comes in handy. More on that in another post also.)

Most of the books I've been looking through focus on an autism or ADHD diet (which is primarily gluten and casein free). Removing these two proteins from the diets of autistic kids has been found to make huge changes in how they interact with the world around them. It's like these kids have been imprisoned in a painful world and when they react people think they're just acting out, not that they're nutritionally screwed up inside. ... but more on that in another post. The key that I was talking about was veggies. And the cookbooks that focus most on veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds tend to be the vegan and raw cookbooks, which I've found the most fascinating in terms of recipes. The GFCF cook books are full of muffins and breads and pancakes and all sorts of crap I've been making all my life. Now I just need to make the same recipe with gluten free flours. But the raw and vegan cookbooks are full of things I've never seen or tried before. Suddenly a whole new world of cooking (or not) possibilities have opened up before me.

This chia pudding recipe is one of those delightful new recipes I've tried and found to be utterly delicious. Now that statement comes with a caveat. Between myself and my three children, one of my girls and I like the pudding. My son and other daughter ate a few bites and that was enough for them. So this clearly isn't a dish for everyone. But if you love tapioca pudding, then it's quite possible that you'll love this as well. And danged if this isn't literally the easiest pudding recipe I have ever come across in my life. So without further ado....

This recipe is from Going Raw: Everything You Need to Start Your Own Raw Food Diet & Lifestyle Revolution at Home (which is the same book I pulled the zucchini hummus recipe from that I posted about recently). I checked this book out from the library, but I think I'm going to have to go buy myself a copy. There are sooo many recipes in here I want to try.

1/3 cup (50 g) chia seeds
2 cups (475 ml) nut milk (There's instructions to make your own nut milk given in the book. But I just used Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze almond milk.)
2 tablespoons (40 g) agave nectar or honey, or a pinch of stevia
dash of cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Throw the seeds, sweetener, and nut milk into a container. (I used a glass jar with a lid.) Stir/shake the mixture and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Now stir/shake it again and throw it into the refrigerator. Leave it there for 4 hours at a minimum. Garnish with cinnamon when you eat it. It'll keep for 3 days in the fridge (if it's not all gobbled up before then).

That's it. I threw everything into a jar, gave it a shake, went and did something else, came back and shook it again, threw it in the fridge and had chia pudding the next morning. Viola!

The texture is creamy and a tad bit slimy (like tapioca can be). You have to chew the seeds. I guess you could just swallow them, but I'll take a mouthful and spend several minutes chewing. I figure that gets me to eat less in the long run because I spent so much time chewing I have less time to keep stuffing my face. And I like the flavor as it's chewed.

Apparently these little seeds soak the water up like crazy, so it's hydrating to eat them once they've been soaked in liquid for 4 hours. But according to Judita Wignall, the author of the cookbook, you don't want to eat them straight or they'll actually suck the water out of you. (OK, she just said "dehydrate" but that sounds boring. It's when the water is sucked from your cells that you become a desiccated mummy and show up in a good scifi flick, right? So if you don't want to be a mummy in a horror/scifi episode of Fringe or something, soak the seeds before you eat them, K?)

July 29, 2013

The Ukrainians

Yesterday I got a chance to hang out with my Ukrainian cousins and their friends. Given that my dad is mentally long gone and my grandparents, aunties and uncles have passed on, they're really the only Ukie influence left in my life (if you don't count the Mad Heads as an influence. They're more like a drug. Although I guess that's where they get the phrase "under the influence", eh? OK, so we're just excepting them for now).

It was a delight to see them. They're on their way to Idaho, Yellowstone and the Tetons next. We all posed for a group photo. Unfortunately my sister wasn't able to make it.

From left to right: Ilya, Halya, me, Genia (my first cousin twice removed), my mom (a total non-Ukrainian, through no fault of her own), Ira (my second cousin once removed), Danny and Slavik.

July 25, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Cookies - GF/CF

This recipe started making the rounds on May 13th, 2013 on Facebook, as best I can figure. The earliest mention of it (using this image, at least) is from a post in a group called The Road to Healthy.

The first time I made this I made the recipe exactly as shown and baked some of the cookies, then I added an egg and baked the rest. I thought the egg would be an improvement but the eggless cookies were snapped up and the rest just lay around until I eventually ate them over a period of days. The egg made them a bit too custardy or something.

On the Facebook post people recommend all sorts of variations from adding chocolate chips or cranberries to throwing in granola or walnuts.

They're really easy to make and rather tasty.

July 23, 2013

Zucchini Hummus - GF/CF/Raw

This recipe is straight out of Going Raw: Everything You Need to Start Your Own Raw Food Diet & Lifestyle Revolution at Home, by Judita Wignall. I checked the book out from our local library and I've probably spent more time reading it than any of the other cookbooks that I've recently picked up. (I grabbed a bunch from the library but also ordered several from Amazon.) Judita is a gracious evangelist, encouraging her readers to try adding some raw foods to their diet, even if they don't dive in whole hog. (In other words, she doesn't beat her readers over the head with some sort of raw foods bible, preaching fire and brimstone if you don't totally convert to an all raw diet.)

Because chickpeas have to be cooked, Judita offers a hummus recipe with zucchini as the base. (Yay! One more way to use up all that zucchini from the garden.) Nathan made this hummus the same day that I brought the book home. It was absolutely delicious, but he wouldn't let me or Rob have more than a taste. So I grabbed a can of chickpeas, whipped up some of my own hummus, and sat down to eat that instead. I'll admit right up front for all to hear, Nathan's zucchini hummus beat the pants off of my chickpea hummus. Even Rob agreed.

According to the book, this makes 6 - 8 servings. I don't think that's even remotely accurate. Nathan ate his batch all himself and then wanted a little more and tried mine (at which point he decided he was full since mine wasn't as good). So I think you're lucky if this makes 2 servings. But I suppose it depends on how you're eating it. If you're making a spread for your falafel sandwiches, this should work for you. If you're about to sit down to an episode of The Mentalist and you want to munch on yummies dipped in hummus the whole time... and you're going to have to share your hummus with others, then plan on at least doubling the recipe.

1 cup (124 g) peeled and chopped zucchini
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (120 g) raw tahini paste
2 teaspoons minced parsley (We skipped this since we didn't have any on hand.)
Za'atar seasoning (dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds, and other spices), paprika, olive oil, and pine nuts for garnish  (Nathan used some dried oregano, resh thyme, paprika and olive oil and skipped the rest since we didn't have it all on hand).

1. Place the zucchini, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, and cayenne in a blender and process until smooth. Add the tahini and blend again until well incorporated.
2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the minced parsley. Garnish with the za'atar seasoning, paprika, olive oil, and pine nuts.
3. Chill for 2 hours. (We didn't manage this. It was eaten within 1 hour.)

According to the book, "Two tablespoons (30 g) of tahini contains almost 35 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake.

July 18, 2013

Quinoa and Black Beans - GF/CF

We recently started a gluten free, casein free diet so I've been modifying old recipes and looking for new ones. This is one that I really liked. It's hearty and easily modified to include extra veggies you might have lying around. It was also a breeze to make. I found the original recipe on

The comments on All Recipes include suggestions of adding tomatoes, zucchini, and lemon juice. I think the next time I make it I might try adding some fresh red onion at the end, uncooked, just to add a little extra zip and crunch.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

You Don't Have to Be a "People Person" to Be an Extravert, as Sherlock Demonstrates

“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion." 
-- Sherlock Holmes (by Arthur Conan Doyle)

Lately I've been thinking about Sherlock Holmes. I've read one of Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, but the latest BBC iteration of the fellow has quite entranced our family. The way the character is portrayed in the show, and I think in Arthur Conan Doyle's books as well, really is a marvelous example of the fact that not all extraverts are "people persons." (If the first retort to well up in your brain is, "But Sherlock could't possibly be an extravert! He hates having to deal with people!" then this post is especially for you.)

I believe the Sherlock character is a brilliant portrayal of an ENTP. His primary mode of operation is extraverted intuition (Ne) which means his brain is constantly on what we might think of as "brainstorming mode." He's jumping from taking in what clothes a person is wearing, what perfume he might smell on them, what crumbs still sit in their tie or beard, the mud that's on the edge of their shoes and then suddenly he's thinking about the position that person had been in, where they were coming from and where they were going to, and before the average onlooker has taken in the fact that there are indeed crumbs in the fellow's beard, Sherlock has already perceived about a hundred other details and possibilities and connections and patterns. In other words, Sherlock is inputting data from the world around him at an energetic pace and rapidly finding the connections between the data that he's assimilating. He's taking in input (That means he's perceiving, not judging. So his primary mode of operation has to do with the second letter in the 4 letter MBTi algorithm which addresses perception.) and he's taking that input from a broad swath of the external world. (That means he's doing so in an extraverted manner as extraverts tend to be broad where introverts are deep. Sherlock isn't taking a small set of data and delving deeply into it. He's taking in dizzying amounts of data from everywhere, often including areas people overlook. The net he casts is very broad.)

Sherlock's secondary mode of operation fits in well with his primary as a means of sorting out which data is important and which isn't. That secondary mode is introverted thinking (Ti). Despite the fact that he's taking in copious amounts of input, he then weeds through it very logically, discarding what he believes to be irrelevant or impossible. This secondary function is a judging function, which means that it's what Sherlock uses to make decisions, or judgements, about things. His Ti works in lock step with his Ne as it discards data that it finds unimportant, then allows the Ne to go back to work sorting out connections between the input that's been perceived.

Notice that the character tends to be full of frenetic energy when there's a new case, new input to be received, a new crime scene to case. He's using all of his senses to take in information around him and find patterns or connections within it. He seems most calm when he's processing the information and weeding out the unimportant details. When a person is extraverting, they're relating primarily to the outside world, which comes out as energy and interaction. When a person is introverting, the action is all taking place inside of them. All of the energy is running through their brain and though the brain can be running at a jillion miles an hour, the outside observer doesn't see the activity, so it looks like the person has suddenly slowed down or is inactive.

I've seen discussions online regarding Sherlocks personality type and pretty much everyone agrees he's either ENTP or INTP. In other words, everyone agrees that he's an extraverted intuitive and that he's an introverted thinker. The real question is which of these functions is primary and which is secondary. I think a fairly solid argument could be made either way, and of could it might depend upon which Sherlock (from the original books, from a tv show, or from a movie) you're considering as one character might be much more an introvert than an extravert. But the BBC version seems indubidoubly to me to be Ne first and foremost. I've looked at several clips on YouTube in hopes of finding one that most succinctly portrays what I'm talking about, and I wanted to settle on the "I'm bored" scene (which is brilliant and certainly shows my point as Sherlock can't sit still even when he has nothing at all to do. He craves the mental activity that a good brainstorming experience gives him and he'll resort to shooting the wall if there's nothing else to keep him occupied.) but instead I decided to go with this short riding crop clip. It's rather repulsive, but it clearly shows Sherlock physically interacting with the world around him in an effort to correctly sort data he's collected. In other words, if Sherlock was primarily an introvert, he would have found medical books with information about the kind of damage that a riding crop could do. But instead he collects a corpse and tests the riding crop out, quite physically, in order to collect data.

The next time you watch the show, pay attention to how much Sherlock moves compared to Watson (an introvert). Sherlock waves his arms around, steeples them in front of himself, jumps and glides and moves all over the crime seen while Watson just stands there, a bit flustered, wondering how he can possibly save a situation that he feels Sherlock has entirely screwed up socially.

Which brings me back to the fact that Sherlock is seriously not a people person. He really doesn't like people much and he frequently puts his desire for input and his cutting decision making skills far before social niceties. However, his third function is extraverted feeling, which usually seeks peace and harmony between people. As a third function, however, not only is it not very strong, but it's also a minion to the two higher functions. So when it suits, Sherlock can be charming, or he can ease negotiations or calm people down. But it's not because he truly wants people to be charmed or at ease or calm. It's entirely because it aids either his extraverted intuition (enabling him to take in and make connections with more types of data than he might otherwise have been able to do) or it assists his introverted thinking which might need help in better analyzing a situation correctly.

When people use the term "extraverted" they often associate it with being very people focused, the life of the party, hungry to meet and hang out with crowds of new people. There are extraverts that are like that. They're extraverted feelers (Fe). But there are also three other kinds of extraverts - extraverted sensors (crave new experiences), extraverted thinkers (love to check things off their to do list), and extraverted intuitives (like Sherlock). So the next time you talk about folks who are extraverted, don't give Ne's, Te's, and Se's short shrift. Recognize that extraversion relates to being outwardly focused (in some way or other). Some focus on people, some on actions, some on accomplishments and some on ideas and connects, but they're all focusing on the external.

Extravert. External. It's elementary.

June 20, 2013

Pu-Pu-Pu and a Whole Lotta of Brisket

I'm not a fan of brisket (being mostly vegetarian), but I enjoyed Rick Moranis's paean to his mother's brisket in, well... "My Mother's Brisket," one of several fun songs on the album with the same title.  You can hear this song and two others online at the New York Times article on the album entitled, "Live Blogging the Bris? This Might Hurt a Bit." (Look to the left sidebar under the photo of the album.)

The other two songs are entitled "Belated Haftorah" (Which is a bit painful to listen to. But then again, so is sitting through a stumbling 13 year old's reading of Torah at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.) and "Pu-Pu-Pu"(in which we catch up on all the latest gossip).

If you'd like to sample even more, check out snippets from the rest of the album on AllMusic.

1, 2 Buckle My Shoe

This past year I helped out in a double dip math class at our local high school. The students were all 9th graders who were behind grade level in math and needed to catch up. Because the goal is for every student in the district to complete Algebra by 9th grade (and they're pushing really strongly for everyone to take it in 8th grade), the students needed double the amount of math time. They first needed to catch up to where they should be with their pre-Algebra skills and then they had to complete Algebra 1 before year end. I went in every Monday to help them during their second period of math each day.

I knew several of the kids from middle school and had even helped in a math class that some of them were in back in 6th grade. So I liked the relational connection I already had with them, and the teacher that ran the class was a total crack up. I really enjoyed my times helping out. But I was also somewhat frustrated at the position these kids were in. I'd been involved in their middle school and knew that they had already been in remedial classes which were meeting double time just to get them up to speed. These kids weren't dumb. They were double-timing on Algebra and many were still getting these new concepts even at the faster pace. But even when they "got" the concepts, they were still getting problems wrong because they lacked some really basic math skills. Fractions were a continual mystery, no matter how frequently we reexplained them. Decimals were a bit of hocus pocus. And greater and lesser were still concepts they were trying to wrap their heads around. But they knew that a positive slope went up and a negative slope went down. They solved for x like champs. And they coud do lattice multiplication in their sleep. (They just had to use a multiplication chart along the way.) In other words, they seemed to be able to grasp the larger concepts despite having really shoddy foundation work.

Yesterday as I was walking the dogs, we passed a mom and three kids at the park. The older two kids were busy smashing each other's sand castles and getting mad at each other over it. But the youngest was in a stroller by her mom and she called out "Puppy!" as we walked by. Her mom said, "That's right. How many puppies?... Two? Two puppies." The girl was probably only 3 years old and here her mom was teaching her math literacy. How did the mom know to do that?

When I was watching my nephew last week, he was eating carrots and chicken. He had three carrots in front of him on his high chair tray. It just came naturally to me to say, "Three carrots. One. Two. Three." And I pointed to each carrot as I said it.

I think that's what the kids in that high school class had missed out on. Was there anyone saying, "How many puppies?" when they were only three years old? Or were they learning that in kindergarten while all the other kids were beyond that point and cruising on to the concepts of large numbers (counting to 100) and adding numbers (2 puppies walking with that lady and 1 puppy walking with that man over there makes 3 puppies total).

When I was a kid I preferred the Electric Company to Sesame Street. Sesame Street was all about identifying numbers and letters and learning their sounds and values. The Electric Company moved on to phonemes and adding them together to make words. It was exciting stuff. But I probably didn't need the Sesame Street level of education because my mom had already taught me that when I was in a stroller at the park.

How did that mom at the park know to do that? Why do some moms point out that there's two puppies when other moms just smile and say, "Yes, there's a puppy."According to Paul Tough in his book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, parents learn that kind of behavior through their own parents, through their peers, and through reading parenting books and magazines. But many lower income parents simply don't know to do that. They're struggling to get by, focused on other things, or simply aren't in a culture that leads them to talk about early childhood education. Geoffrey Canada's program in Harlem sets out not just to educate children, but to change the culture in which they grow up - to teach value and methods of educating kids through regular life experiences.

I usually help out each year in the school my kids are at. I was a high school math teacher in my pre-parent days and being a parent helper in the classroom enables me to enjoy all of the one-on-one teaching bits without having to worry about discipline or planning. It's really a great gig. But I'm considering, for the first time since my kids entered preschool, helping out at a school that my kids have never attended. There's a local elementary school where these high schoolers I helped this past year used to attend. In some ways I felt like it was really too late to be helping those high school students. I think they're a great bunch of kids and they tried so hard to tackle Algebra. But without that foundation, it always felt illusory. So I'm considering going to where someone should have been 9 years ago for those high schoolers. Despite the fact that I know Algebra and can probably help out in a high school class that many parents might struggle in because they haven't used Algebra in decades, I think it might be worth some kindergartener's while for me to sit down with them and say, "Look at these puppies in this photo. How many puppies do you see?" It's a simple thing. But I hope that it could make the difference in some Algebra class 9 years from now.

June 4, 2013

Adam Grant's, "The Bad Habits of Good Negotiators"

In an email from today, they highlighted an article by Adam Grant called, "The Bad Habits of Good Negotiators." It seems to me like a lot of what Grant writes is true not just in formal negotiations, but in relating to people in general.

Grant's main points boil down to:
1) "...the best way to earn trust is to show trust." Even just sharing a bit of personal information like where you grew up, or what your hobbies are, can help to build a sense of trust.
2) Rank your priorities so that the other person understands what's most important to you.
3) This one may be more true of negotiations than relationships in general, but Grant says it's better not to sequence the issues. In other words, if you focus on salary first and ignore the rest of the issues, then once the salary is resolved, it's off the table. It can no longer be used to help in the next part of the negotiation. On the other hand, if everything remains on the table, then you could adjust salary in order to compensate for a change to another part of the negotiation.
4) Do your research so that you're prepared to make the first offer. Then make the first offer. This acts as an anchor to the negotiations and it's better to be the one who picks where that anchor is going to rest. (This section was particularly good and well worth reading the article for.)

My husband, Rob, is a really good negotiator. I don't know how he learned these skills, but he does pretty much exactly what Grant describes here. When he works from home and is negotiating with another company through a conference call, I'm often privy to the whole conversation and I've marveled at his ability to diffuse a tough situation, his strength in standing his ground over non-negotiables, and his willingness to capitulate in areas that simply aren't as important to the company.

I think Grant's first point is one that I don't personally connect well with. Giving out superfluous information when talking with someone just seems wasteful and inefficient. But my husband does it all the time. At first it used to annoy me. He'd be adding extra information in a conversation with the barista at the coffee shop or in a conversation with a friend around the dinner table. In my mind, the information didn't need to be there. It wasn't that it was bad information to share (He usually chats about college degrees with baristas since many are college students. Or he'll throw in a tangential experience during a dinner table conversation.) it's just that the extra information, in my mind, detracted from the real issue at hand (grabbing your coffee and sitting down, or focusing on the item under discussion). But over time I've seen the powerful effect that his seemingly random spurts of extra information have brought about. People look forward to seeing Rob enter the coffee shop. They greet him with a smile and the good will they feel towards him spills over to our son who gets extra whipped cream on his drinks when he's there with his dad. While I'm trying to get an idea pinned down or a task finished, Rob is building good will with the people around him.

Over time I've tried to do what Rob does. I've tried making conversation when all I really want is to finish a transaction and get out of there. And it works. The positive good will helps future transactions go more smoothly. And there's that community building/networking thing going on at the same time that sometimes comes back around in positive ways of its own. It's not like there's always an immediate positive reaction to chatting a little and building trust. Sometimes people are just too busy to reciprocate and I just have to pat myself on the back for trying and not let it get me down. But I think that that trust building piece, as well as being the one to step out there first in an interaction and set the anchor, can be really beneficial to ourselves, our relationships, and our community. It's good stuff, and well worth reading Grant's post.

May 24, 2013

Distinguished Service Award

Next year my youngest two will be moving on to high school. Today was the end of the year awards ceremony at their middle school to honor all of the kids who excelled or greatly improved throughout the year. Scholarships and other awards are also given out. Last year the principal started giving out a distinguished service award. The first year it went to Bobby Young, the vice principal who was leaving to be a principal up in a mountain district. I was so pleased to catch him mopping up the floor after a game at the same event where he was given the award. It just embodied the kind of guy he is.

I was asked to come and be paparazzi for the event (which is one of my usual tasks at school events). I had a copy of the program and was trying my best to follow along so I knew who I was photographing as the awards were given out. Then I saw the last award for the day, the distinguished service award. My name was next to it. I was instantly teary eyed.

Before the second to last award was given out, Mr. Mac came over and asked if he could photograph the next kid. I knew what he was up to. So I photographed the next kid and then handed him the camera. These are the photos he took. Thankfully he didn't catch me wiping my eyes. :-}

Award announced. Michaela hugged me. 

Michaela walked me over to Don at the podium.

He was going to try to shake my hand. Silly man. This deserved a hug. 

Anitra handed me a plaque with my name on it. My name! Like they'd planned this or something.

More hugs.

This is where I was photographing all the kids as they got their awards. Mac had me pose as well.
Thank you, Lincoln! I've enjoyed every minute of my time with you. I love hanging out with the kids at lunch. You teachers are the best! Hugs all around. :-)

April 16, 2013

Communism, Housing Codes, and Other Sorts of Villainy

I live in Old Town, Fort Collins. The city was incorporated in 1869, but it didn't experience its first population boom until after World War I when many Craftsman cottages were built to accomodate the growing number of residents. So while we have a few Victorians and Queen Annes, the bulk of houses in Old Town are cute 1-story bungalows with wide front porches.

In the past decade there has been a fair amount of new construction going on. Some of the building is in the form of additions which keep the façade of the original house while adding space either back or up or both. But there's been an increasing amount of "scrapes" in which the old house is removed completely and a new house is built in its place - often 4 or 5, sometimes as many as 7 times as large as the original house.

Though some new construction fits right in with the existing houses, there are occasional examples of buildings that stick out like a sore thumb, substantially changing the character and feel of the neighborhood. These houses also cause other problems such as lack of solar access. The photo above shows one of my favorite examples of solar misdealings. Note that the new house on the right is built specifically to capture the sun to the south. The patio and porch are both located on the south side of the building and the bulk of the house itself is shoved as far to the north end of the lot as possible in order for the south side of the house to maximize its solar access. The older house to the north, as can be seen to the left side of this photo, is cast into shadow. (This photo was taken in mid-March, so though the shadow blocks sunlight to the southern end of the house, in winter the new construction blocks sunlight to a much larger percentage of the older building.) Loss of solar access is not only a problem for those with seasonal affective disorder, but it can also double heating bills as passive solar heating is blocked, and it can cause ice damns that can physically damage the structure.

Some new construction fits in really well with the surrounding houses. The green house in the center of the photo above was built in 2007 and has about twice as much livable floor space as the surrounding houses. But when walking along the street, you'd be hard pressed to pick this house out among the others as being new.

Because of complaints from Old Town residents regarding the changing neighborhood, city council looked into the issue back in 2010. They passed an ordinance that would reduce the cap on housing size. But several real estate agents and builders led a petition drive to repeal the ordinance. They were successful in collecting the required 3000 signatures, representing 2% of the city of Fort Collins. Over 80% of the signatures were from people who didn't live in Old Town. The city council backed up and rethought their strategy. They decided they needed more citizen input and they needed to address more than just house size. They added character and solar access issues to what should be addressed, they hired outside consultants, and another year was spent drawing up a new ordinance. I participated in 5 of the 6 community input sessions and was quite pleased by the amount of input the consultants solicited in terms of determining the problems, goals and possible solutions. It was an excellent display of public participation, open to all, and conducted online as well as in person in order to accomodate as many local citizens as possible.

In March, the city council passed the new ordinance which made more modest changes to the overall house size limits and addressed the issues of solar access and design styles. Old Town residents were overjoyed. Though some of us thought the ordinance didn't go far enough in protecting our neighborhoods, we were still glad for some improvements to the current building codes. But several of the people who repealed the previous ordinance agitated to repeal this one as well. After we pointed out the involvement of real estate agents and builders, many of them took a back seat to the proceedings, but the repeal movement continued forward. A neighbor and I met with several other Old Town neighbors to brainstorm ways that we could encourage people not to sign the petition. We created a flyer that educates people about the new ordinance, we've talked with the local newspaper, and we've submitted letters to the editor.

Some of the discussions on the online version of the newspaper get a bit heated. But it's a recent post to the Facebook page of the repealers that really struck me as... stunning. A woman named Lynda, whose last name I've hidden, seems to feel that these added protections for residents of Old Town aren't just outrageous, but they're outright communism.

I'm not making this up. She really said that. That's why I took a screen shot.

I don't even know what to think. The goal of the ordinance is to protect people who live in Old Town from losing their sunshine, from having houses looming over their own, and from having the character that they moved to the neighborhood for obliterated. And that's communism? I apparently missed the explanation of communism in my economics class because I clearly didn't think it involved protecting a person's quality of life. In fact, my own relatives experienced communism first hand in Ukraine in the early 1900's. For them, it meant being shuffled off to Siberia and later being dumped back in Ukraine without a penny to their name. That seems like a far different experience than being told that you can't block all of your neighbor's sunlight with your new house.

April 13, 2013

Maeby - a shredding machine

This is our dog, Maeby. She likes to shred.

March 12, 2013

Winter Photos of Fort Collins - 2013

These are photos I've taken during my morning walks with the dogs over the past couple of months.

Fence across an irrigation ditch

Old cistern


Pattern of roots under a dusting of snow

Stiff branch with bendy bark

Reflection across the pond


Geese on the pond

The sun behind the clouds

Tree with the sun behind it

Reflection in the Poudre

Reflection in the Poudre (I flipped the pic.) 

Reflection in the pond