Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Vana pictures

I just realized I have a bunch of pictures of Vana on my phone from my visit in February.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Vana passed away last night. In the beginning of February, the vet found cancer in her lymph nodes that had metastitized from her intestines. She was on a course of treatment, but after many weeks of it, the cancer persisted and was still in her blood. My Mom took the most amazing care of her. She went to great lengths to get her to eat and even got her to gain some weight in recent weeks. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon it seems that she probably had a stroke. She died peacefully in the night in my mother's arms. I am so sad and have so much regret that I wasn't there with her and that I am so far away, but I know she was in very capable, loving hands. I have no doubt that she was loved by everyone who knew her. She was a sweetheart. I will miss her terribly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A few weeks ago Ian and I heard a sermon by a jolly young Dominican priest, who reminded us that Lent is a season of "spring cleaning for the soul". This phrase was inspiring to me -- it helped me to see good reason for going on a Lenten diet, as I imagined cleaning out my body might play some part in progressing my spiritual renewal. And why not also take action on some matters I had made into projects of procrastination? I liked thinking about this whole "spring cleaning" theme. He also talked about Lent as a time of transformation, which made my brain wheels spin through many thoughts about what a better person I could become -- how much more loving and giving I could be if I put my mind to it. Lent was going to be exciting -- a six week period in which I could make New Year's resolutions of sorts -- a finite time in which to feel I had made some accomplishments.

But, the heart of this priest's message revealed a core I was not predicting. His message wasn't so much about how we can choose to become our better selves, but instead he said Lent is a time in which we become transformed by asking for guidance from God through prayer. During this Holy week -- the last week of Lent -- I might finally begin to understand a bit of what Lent is really about. My understanding is that Lent is a symbolic representation of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert resisting the temptations of Satan. In some small way I have come to understand a little of what it means to resist temptation because of this raw diet. In this modern age of instant gratification, saying "no" to delicious food is something that has been particularly difficult for me. I love food and before this diet I would not have described myself as someone who was particularly disciplined. But for the last 39 days, I have not yet broken this raw food fast. It definitely has helped to have Ian's company along the way. I really don't know how I possibly could have done this if I were living with someone eating a normal diet. Away from home, I have had to exercise serious discipline to resist pizza, cinnamon rolls, egg and cheese bagels, mediterranean food, desserts, etc. - much of which I had to order and set up as part of my job. The effort it has taken me to exercise this discipline has definitely taught me something about what I am capable of and how much stronger I would like to be. It has been difficult -- and this last week is proving to be the most trying of all so far. I have been feeling sorry for myself. I feel like I have been oozing all of my worst qualities. What is especially trying for me now is trying to stop this wallowing and start focusing on all that I have to be thankful for -- of all the many blessings I have. In the past I have most often turned to comfort food during times of stress. This week I will have to turn elsewhere.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Not hungry

So, today I am feeling back to normal. Finally, I got a full night's rest, after four days in a row of not good sleep. Last night I decided to go out to the healthy grocery store and buy lots of special raw food treats. Yesterday I was so hungry I was feeling almost like I wanted to quit this diet entirely, but there's only one week left!, so I decided it was a better idea to just buy lots of the raw foods that taste good to me. (It helped a lot talking to Mom after work. :-)) So, I bought raw cacao nibs, almond "ice cream", mustard flax crackers, and I made dip, and I just ate lots of good food until I was full. I also made "rejuvenation juice" from a recipe I found online. I slept great last night. And, today I feel much better. So far this morning I have eaten 4 figs, a banana, 2 oranges, and a grapefruit. And I don't feel hungry or crazy like I'm missing nutrients. What a relief. (I also brought 2 bananas, 2 apples, a tomato, an avocado, some mustard flax crackers, and some red pepper/cashew dip with me to eat.)

Here's the juice recipe -- if you have a juicer and are interested:

1 large apple
half cucumber
2 sticks celery
1/2 fennel
handful spinach
handful parsley

It tastes yummy (to me...)


Mental gymnastics increase bicep strength

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Right now...

I'd like to eat a big bowl of spaghetti with parmesan cheese

and a loaf of italian bread with butter

and then take a nap.

Oh well.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Raw Diet Update

Today is Day 30 of our Lenten Raw Diet. Easter is two weeks from today and that will mark the official end of it. My Dad is visiting and he generously bought us the cookbook for Cafe Gratitude, so we've been experimenting with a lot of delicious recipes. [I should say, *I've* been experimenting, as Ian is sadly stuck in bed with a cast on his leg from the ankle surgery he had on Tuesday. He is recovering fine and the doctor thinks he will be up and about in no time.] Since I last wrote we have acquired a food processor and a juicer; those items are helping expand our recipe repertoire as well. One other appliance that would be nice to have is a dehydrator. The cookbook says if you don't have a dehydrator, you can use a gas oven with just the pilot light on and the door cracked open. I'm trying to make carrot/flax seed crackers using that method as we speak, so we'll see if that is actually possible. Dehydrators are expensive and I've been a bit confused as to which features are the most important. Sometimes it seems it's better in the long run to buy the more expensive product. In other cases, the cheaper, more basic product is all you really need. I have no experience with dehydrators, so I'm not sure which way to go. In the meantime, I'm trying the cheapest method. Yesterday evening we had a nice feast of store-bought raw onion/garlic/flax seed/sunflower seed crackers, Red Pepper Cashew Cheese Pate, sliced cucumbers, and diced tomatoes with basil chiffonade, olive oil (expeller pressed, of course), smashed garlic, and salt. It was yummy. This morning I cut up a tasty watermelon for us to eat. For the most part I would say I feel fine. I have lost a total of 5 pounds in 30 days. I don't feel bloated. I'm not having the stomach problems I was having before. But... I have to admit to you. I'm not feeling super energetic. [It's possible that I picked up a virus... A woman I work with had a bad case of the flu for 2 weeks and several people who sit near me in choir have been quite ill.] Right now, I must admit, I would really like to drink a cup of coffee. Or, at least, I would like to have the feeling of having drunk a cup of coffee -- without the anxiety, paranoia, shakiness, or digestive problems. Now that we have a juicer, maybe I can figure out a juice recipe that would do the trick -- perhaps some carrots, garlic, dark leafy greens, etc. Right now I just feel kind of tired, which is not too unlike how I used to feel before we started this diet (without coffee). Of course it's been 30 days, so what I'm forgetting is that I used to feel amazingly groggy in the morning. I used to have a terrible time getting out of bed. I don't have those problems at all anymore. I wake up feeling rested in the morning. It's just that I'm still addicted to the memory of that rush you feel when you drink coffee -- that superhuman zingy zip. This diet has definitely made an impact on both of us. It will be interesting to see what happens after Easter. I would have to guess that we won't be going right back to how we were eating before.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Optical Illusions


Steph just posted a really great meditation tutorial on her blog. Check it out!