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A couple of weekends ago I wandered into the historic center of Annapolis, sort of on a whim near the end of the day.  I saw a sign and thought, oh why not, I’ll just drive through the center and then I can say I did it.  When I got there I thought, oh this is cute, I’ll just park and walk around for a half hour or so.  I stayed four hours, utterly enchanted by the entire historic town.  I can’t count how many times I turned a corner, caught my breath and made an actual audible exclamation at the quiet beauty of the place.  I am determined to go back before I leave.  Here’s a little photo essay of the place; I got there late in the day, so excuse the duskiness of some of the photos.

Main Street, with a peek of the harbor at the end of the road.

Old Colonial brick buildings are everywhere, with their crooked yet sturdy hand-masoned construction.  This one overlooks the U.S. Naval Academy, situated right on the harbor.

The Maryland State House, which once served as the capitol of the United States around George Washington’s time.  It is an absolutely gorgeous building; this picture doesn’t nearly do it justice.

St. John’s College, founded in 1696 as King William’s School.  One of the most idyllic campuses I’ve ever visited, with a curriculum that would make Aristotle and Shakespeare proud.  Students do nothing but read the Great Books of the World.  I want to go to there.

Graffiti on the wall of a building at St. John’s College.

Peeking over the wall into a beautiful garden which, I think, is the Paca Garden or Middendorf Conservation Center.

Peonies glowing in the dusky half-light.

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Originally published with the title “Why I’m a Traditional Primal Locavore…and what the bleep that means.”

Sweet Potato-Eggplant Tapenade.  New York, June 2010.

Those of you who know me or have eaten a meal with me know that I am a bit picky when it comes to my food.  Many people are afraid to order “off the menu” in a restaurant even to the slight degree of taking your BLT without the L; not me!  I am an unabashed special needs customer when it comes to food, and long ago stopped being timid about it.  While I don’t end my food orders the way Meg Ryan did in the famous diner scene, her way of ordering can be retroactively attributed to me.

Why all the trouble?  Well, it’s a long story, but it started with one book (Diet for a Small Planet) that took me on a 17-year vegetarian trip, and another book (Nourishing Traditions) that literally changed my life and made me an omnivore again.  I seriously thank the universe every day for bringing that book into my life.  Why?  Well, let me just say that if it had been around 17 years earlier and crossed my path then, I might have spared myself a litany of health-related problems that I now see as primarily caused by the nutrient deficiencies of my vegetarian diet: PMS (increasingly painful and mood altering over the years), poor eyesight, crooked teeth and overbite (I’m not kidding), chronic fatigue, depression, mood swings, anxiety, yeast infections, bladder infections, low sex drive, ovarian cysts, joint pain, chronic weight gain, chronic tonsillitis, lots of colds and flus….yep, I think that’s all.  Oh no, mustn’t forget the increasing food sensitivities which to date include gluten, dairy, soy and eggs – the foods that I turned to quite often in my vegetarian days to get protein and that meat-like taste and texture that I really missed.  Coincidence?  I think not.

(Does a vegetarian diet have to cause so many problems?  Maybe not.  But with all respect to the vegetarians out there – believe me, I have been there and for many of the same reasons as you – I now believe that it’s damn hard to make a vegetarian diet nutrient-dense enough to be truly, vibrantly healthy.  Veg*ns, I lovingly and respectfully offer this link.)

So…Nourishing Traditions came into my life in 2007, and true to fashion I devoured a number of other books on the subject of traditional foods (I’ll include a reading list at the end).  This year I read yet another book that crystallized everything I’d been reading since going omnivore again – combining the best of the traditional foods movement with an in-depth study of how humans ate before the advent of agriculture (namely, the cultivation of grains and dairy).  Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint has not changed my life so much as synthesized and clarified what I was already gathering:

* Stop eating processed foods.

* Get off the horrid carb/sugar treadmill that our packaged-food culture is so addicted to.

* Understand that our addiction to speed and convenience has robbed us of the enjoyment of properly preparing and truly savoring our food.

* Realize that fifty years after America went low-fat, we are the fattest, least healthy culture in the world.

* Take a good look at where your food is coming from, and the damage being done to the planet just so you can have asparagus in September (hint: it’s likely coming from Argentina and traveling thousands of gas-guzzling miles to get here).

So, now I identify myself as a Traditional Primal Locavore.  Traditional: relying on the wisdom of our ancestors for how to prepare and eat food.  This happens to mean, among other things, NOT FEARING FAT AND EATING LOTS OF IT, ESPECIALLY SATURATED FATS.  (Note: my cholesterol is as low as when I was a vegan and I have pretty much stopped struggling with my weight since upping my fat intake.)  Primal: eating foods that our way-back ancestors (as in 10,000 years ago) would have been able to eat.  Locavore: eating as locally as possible.

Do I do it perfectly?  Far from it!  Do I do it joyfully?  You betcha!  In another post I’ll detail a bit more about what I actually eat.  Am I healthier as a result?  Maybe I’ll post about the changes in my list of maladies, but for now let’s just say that I would estimate that my various symptoms and problems have decreased by about 80%.  Thanking the universe.

If you want to know more, please feel free to ask questions – I am a bona fide food geek and love to share what I’ve learned.  Also check out the books in my reading list, especially “The Primal Blueprint” and “Nourishing Traditions”.  Of the two, I would now recommend “The Primal Blueprint” as the book to read if you’re only going to read one.

READING LIST

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price  (This book is also available free on the internet.  Although the text is incredibly valuable, the pictures are worth a thousand words a piece.  You can scroll through to look.)

WEBSITES TO VISIT

Mark’s Daily Apple

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Slow Food USA

For those of you as enamored with Pixie’s art as I am, I wanted to let you know that for a limited time she is offering **buy one fine art print and get one free** in her Etsy store!  This is a wonderful opportunity to support handmade art and bring some good animal medicine into your life.  Get on over there!

The thunderstorm has started here in Maryland, where I sit typing by the open window full of green leaves dancing tympanically as the raindrops fall.  Summer thunderstorms are my favorite kind; the air snaps with electricity and lightning of every color slashes the sky as warm rain envelopes you in its comforting arms and leaves you gleefully moist.  Some of my favorite memories include spectating Minnesota thunderstorms from my aunt and uncle’s screened porch.

Today I received my first mail here, and something about that is really comforting.  Mail is the outside world coming to you, reminding you that you are remembered.  I’m trying a new service this rotation, where the post office bundles and forwards my mail to me once a week via priority mail.  Mostly it’s bills and a little junk mail, but still there is a solidity to it.  Eight weeks seemed a little too long to go without my regular mail, and I’m sure Eric (we’ve tried various blogonyms but none stuck so he’s going to be just who he is – my lovely Eric) is a bit tired of opening everything by the light of our Skype connection to see what should be kept, forwarded or tossed.

If bills were the cake then the icing was sitting on top of my priority mail envelope, packaged in its own sturdy brown cardstock envelope: an art print by a beloved artist friend of mine.  I’ve wanted to buy one for quite some time, not only to support her but also because I absolutely love her art; but I don’t think I could have heard the message in any of her works until recently, when I started to open my creativity in a new way and invite inspiration from the depths within.  That was when Moose bellowed that she had lessons for me.

Pixie Campbell is one of my dearest friends and she is an Artist.  I capitalize that word to acknowledge her immense talent and commitment to creative process, of which I am in constant admiration.  We didn’t meet ten years ago in a Hollywood coffee shop called the Bourgeois Pig; poor Pixie and her bright red pigtails were nowhere to be found on that fateful day when a group of women met to start a weekly group dedicated to creative fire-stoking.  We picked up Pixie at the next meeting, and by the time the group found its form we were the Elements – four women (L to R: me, Barbara Anne, Pixie & Julie) who over the next decade anchored each other through countless moves, boyfriends, break-ups, weddings, babies, career changes, college degrees, and the ups and downs of the creative life.  Our once-weekly meetings have evolved over time; none of us lives in Los Angeles anymore, but the winds manage to bring us together once a year, exactly when we need it, for a luscious Elemental retreat which always includes chocolate, laughter, monumental waves of shakti and a big ol’ party at the corner of Creativity and Spirituality.  Pixie always shares her immense knowledge of animals and their medicine, so it was no surprise when the two began to come together in her gorgeous series of paintings, of which Moose is one.

Returning

“Moose carries medicine for those seeking to go to the murky depths to return with intuitive wisdom.  It symbolizes the primal feminine and contains the ability to open up unique and sacred energies, while teaching us how to draw life and nourishment up from our deeper selves.  Moose is commonly called upon by new mothers and those manifesting more creativity.”

I’m eating Moose’s lessons whole, and digesting them slowly and deeply into my soul-belly.  Pixie tucked in some of her postcards and a sweet note letting me know that some other animals wanted to journey along to me – they also have lessons for me when I am ready.  I placed all this big-love-medicine throughout the apartment: Big Moose will urge me to into my dream wisdom in the bedroom, while Mini-Moose sits here by my computer urging me to come to the keys and just. start. writing.  Hawk eyes my dressing table, Rhinoceros stalks the kitchen, and Owl circles the bathroom.  Blue Wolf…you haven’t found your perch just yet; I think you might be making a pitstop on your way to someone else.  What lessons do these lovely creatures have for me?…

I love being surrounded by art that is so meaningful and potent – that is just how art should be!  If Pixie’s work speaks to you, I hope you’ll support her too.  More in a future post, I’m sure, about the Handmade Revolution and how it might change the world.  For now, I’m off to meditate with Moose.

All right, all right, I know.  I’ve tried this before.  I love the idea of a blog, except for the whole “regular posting” thing which kicks my commitment phobia into high gear – so I make no promises this time around.  I’m gonna post when it occurs to me, which may be daily or may be monthly.  I’m shooting for somewhere in between, though.

Why another blog, you ask?  It’s true, the first two didn’t stick.  The first was a short-lived but impassioned series of entries about the virtues of veganism…a lifestyle which lasted four miserable months and ended in a spasmodic fit of pork-eating.  As in bacon.  In my belly.  The second was all about domestic arts but ended up chronicling a domestic break-up.  ‘Nuff said.  So!  Brand new shiny blog!

I’ll be writing about whatever is happening in my life that seems blogworthy, but there are four main things that are interesting to me these days and so you’ll probably hear about them:

1: Travel. Work is shipping me all over this blue-green globe, and though it can be challenging I am really digging it.  By the time 2010 is over I will have set up house in a total of four cities including my permanent hometown, and I know it’s not for everyone but I think it’s supremely cool.

2: Food.  I am a certifiable food geek, and proud of it.  I have a long-standing interest in the stuff, and not just for the taste.  Food is health.  Food heals.  I spent 17 years as a vegetarian which unfortunately left me with a less-than-healthy body and mind (I’m not judging that lifestyle for anyone but myself).  My current food identity is primal-traditional-locavore.  That last part is tricky since I travel so much, but so far it’s fun to learn how to eat local in different locales.  (There will probably be other health-related topics as well, like barefoot running or finding my favorite yoga studio in Bavaria.)

3: Creativity.  I have always been a creative person but I gotta tell ya, the last two years really took something outta me.  The well got totally dry.  Now, whose fault is that?  Yup, mine.  So I’m filling the well again, and taking it deeper this time.  My arts of choice include singing, acting, directing, writing, collaging, drawing, painting, songwriting, knitting, crocheting, sewing, cooking, baking, gardening, dreaming, journeying, journaling, praying, meditating, chanting, dancing, healing, and being human.

4: Relationships.  Being on the road has helped me appreciate my relationships so much more, and the work that goes into keeping them rich.  I have not always tended to that work in my life, and I’m doing my best to turn over a new leaf as regards it.  Here I may write about some of the absolutely, stunningly amazing people in my life, or cool things that happened in relation to said amazing people.  (Whether or not I’ve told you, you’re one of them.)

Welcome, and thank you for sharing whatever part of this journey you choose to share!

The Author

This is a site about saying yes to life - written by a multi-passionate rock star who loves to take life between her fists and kiss it full on the mouth.

"Make my boy realize that, at the end of the everlasting why, there is a yes. And a yes and a yes!"
- Mr. Emerson,
A Room With A View