Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bugs, Butterflies and Bees, Oh my!

spanning the gap

spanning the gap

The past few days have been an adventure in all things flying, crawling, buzzing and stinging. I’m fascinated by the world of pollinators particularly bees and butterflies. Eventually I’ll invest in a camera that will allow me to capture an image of them doing a job that is integral to the survival of most of the planets inhabitants. Lizards too, I’m fascinated by lizards as you can see…

The other day while on a durian hunt at an across town Asian market I came across this insect specimen in the grocer’s freezer section next to the frozen steamed buns and mochi ice cream. There were no instructions on the packet for preparation. Any suggestions out there?

Got bugs?

Got bugs?

The next day I did some yard work and came across a swallow tail butterfly who’d seen better days. I decided to move the little guy over to the butterfly garden for safety sake.

Swallow Tail rescue... not really

Swallow Tail rescue... not really

Cicadas, what’s up with these loud, thick headed kamikaze freaks? I got hit 3 times in the course of a couple hours. I pulled out my camera to take a picture of one that buzzed me. It had the most amazing little ruby speckles between it’s reflective eyes. As I was pulling out my camera a black and white wasp about the size of a humming bird hoovered into view. I was thinking he wanted his picture taken as well. No sooner than I set up to take its picture did it zero in on the cicada and put a death grip upon it. This was about as cool as the time I watched a rattle snake deep throat a field mouse in Arizona. I was able to snap 2 pictures before the wasp flew off with the cicada. Impressive considering the size of cicadas.

Wasp jumps Cicada

Wasp jumps Cicada

That's gotta hurt...

That's gotta hurt...

And finally to finish the day off another close encounter with wild life… too close. I pissed off a nest of wasps will mulching and one of them decided to pierce my ear. I recently read a chart that rated the description of wasp stings as if they were fine wines. This was definitely a top shelf sting… fiery hot with throbbing pulsations that evolved into puffy numbness with a dash of stabbing heat. Nothing a little aloe, DMSO and MSM can’t handle.

Oh that smarts!

Oh that smarts!

The story doesn’t end here. As I was harvesting fresh aloe for my throbbing ear I was startled to see a Cuban anole (lizard) with that butterfly I had “rescued” gripped firmly in its jaws. Some rescue job. I’m wondering if the wasp sting was instant karma for meddling in lives of butterflies. Live and learn.

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Conscious Building – Spirit Mountain Yurts

Spirit Mountain Yurts

Spirit Mountain Yurts

If hybrid, electric and smart cars are the solution to oversized inefficient SUV’s then the yurt is one of the solutions to oversized and inefficient housing. The term “McMansion” became chic in the 90’s as a word to describe large homes constructed quickly with cheap prefab materials which give the appearance of substance and style but usually lacking both, kinda like a BigMac.

Yurt Components

Yurt Components

The yurt on the other hand has been around for about 800 years and is still widely used today. The natives of Central Asia created these sturdy, round, portable homes as a necessity of their nomadic lives in Mongolia, Siberia and parts of Russia. Traditional yurts are made with wooden lattice lashed together with leather straps and covered with sheep pelts and animal skins and bound together with a tension rope. At the center of the yurt is a sturdy wooden hoop called the compression ring. This skillfully crafted ring combines art and science as its role is to compress the roof rafters which rest on the lattice and thus create the tension that holds the roof and walls in place. Traditionally this hoop also served as a chimney allowing occupants to cook and heat their dwelling.

Domed Skylight

Domed Skylight

Current day yurts haven’t strayed far from this traditional design. The main differences are in the materials used; animal skins have been replaced by synthetic materials like vinyl coated canvas, the tension rope has been replaced with aircraft quality steel cable and the compression ring chimney is often capped with a domed skylight.

Enjoy part of my tour of the Spirit Mountain Yurts workshop.

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Santa Fe Soul Family

Albuquerque International Sunport

You see the size of that chicken?

I recently visited Santa Fe, New Mexico to teach a live food weekend playshop and while I had my reservations with regards to the pre-planning I neglected to do, I made a leap of faith and was rewarded beyond all my expectations. My contact in New Mexico was a woman named Nalina who I had met while working out at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. Over a year later I had finally made it out to New Mexico to see Nalina and her family again and visit their home and yurt building workshop. For those of you not familiar with yurts you’re in for a treat. Yurts are amazingly durable, functional and comfortable round homes built by the nomadic tribes in Central Asia. Nalina and her family have turned their passion for yurts into a sustainable business. While visiting Spirit Mountain Yurts I also had the pleasure of meeting their horses,DSC00396ducks and cats… one of which had the curious habit of climbing up your back and draping himself over your shoulders like a purring scarf.

Shoulder Cat

Shoulder Cat

Shen Bowers was a new addition to the soul family. He is Chi Gung teacher and all around amazing individual. Shen invited us to do our class where he was staying on the Turquoise Trail outside of Santa Fe.

Desert art gallery

Desert art gallery

I missed the hot days and cold nights of the desert and I especially missed staring up at the milky way while counting shooting stars and satellites. The visit planted many seeds for future collaborative plans. Currently I’m in the process of editing a video tour of the Spirit Mountain Yurt shop. Check back for part 1 and 2.

Shen, Christianna, Lark, Nalina and me!

Shen, Christianna, Lark, Nalina and me!

BTW, here’s a close up of the ice cream we’re all holding in the picture above… raw vegan goodness with a almond butter cup that chocolate alchemist Christianna created which are available at Body in Santa Fe.

raw vegan bliss bowl

raw vegan bliss bowl

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Mamey Sapote… good eat’n

Mamey Sapote

Mamey Sapote

For folks living out at the beaches of Jacksonville you may have noticed a new produce stand that has opened on Atlantic Blvd. just west of The Ditch and on the south side of the street. Peaches, boiled peanuts, veggies, local muscadine/scuppernong grapes and… mamey sapote? For those that are intimidated by new foods, have no fear, mamey is your friend. Mamey are native to Mexico but they have been transplanted to tropical and sub tropical climates like South Florida. The fruit can range from the size of a small avocado to up to a foot in length. The skin of the fruit is brown with the texture of flaky sandpaper. The fruit is ripe when it gives to slight pressure. The ripeness can be determined by slicing a thin layer of the brown skin off. If it reveals deep orange the fruit is ripe… light pink/green, let it ripen. Don’t rush a mamey and try to eat it when it’s firm or you may have an unpleasant experience. When unripe the flesh of the fruit it rubbery and very tannic… bitter tasting. A soft ripe mamey on the other hand is quite the magical experience. You can split it in half as you would an avocado. In the center of the fruit should be a medium sized seed. The  soft custardy flesh of the mamey has a vibrant orange/pink similar to that of a baked potato. Now comes the good part, the taste. Mamey reminds many of pumpkin pie with a dash of vanilla and almond extract. The flavor has been likened to sweet potato, cherries, chocolate and almonds. Eat it right out of the skin or add it to smoothies or ice cream recipes. Mamey is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, iron and fiber. The carb/fat/protein profile is 88%/8%/4%. Some might say a near perfect balance.

Recently I made a mamey gadget by scooping a medium sized mamey into a bowl and adding:

1 t maca, 1 T mesquite, 1 t carob, 1/4 C cashew pieces and a pinch of salt

The cashews add a cruchy surprise. It may take a little searching to find mamey in your area but it’s worth the hunt. Asian markets, flea markets are you best bet. If you happen to be in Jax and visit the produce stand on Atlantic, ask if they have any mamey and also encourage them to carry organic produce.

mamey and me

mamey and me

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Successful Sprouting II

Buckwheat Beans!

Buckwheat Beans!

The gripping finale of this 2 part episode on sprouting quinoa and buckwheat.

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