Monday, September 17, 2007

On a Rolfing mailing list I blather at sometimes:
(I provided a) New Scientist quote:>> Researchers are working hard to harness the body's inner power - not
>> some mystical life force, but the chemical energy locked up in the
>> body's own food stores - and convert some of that into electricity.

Another wrote:
>"Rolfers work with the mystical life force - but instead of saying that
>we say "fascia".That we say we don't understand the mystical life force, makes us understandable to science. >When we say we understand the mystical life force, science can make no sense of us."

What I had to say was:
Well, more specifically, what I'm trying to wave at is...
It's NOT mystical. It's *right there*. We just haven't been measuring it. I believe Robert Schleip's research is getting into that area of measuring the conductivity of fascia, to begin to get a scientific, rational handle on what we have, so far had this very limited conceptual vocabulary to talk about. (, but I think you all know!)
Because we have been limited by our "scientifically tested" understanding, we sound vague, freaky, yes, "mystical" and we can't agree. This has held the SI discipline back for too many years.

Nice guy wrote:
> It is important to know that Science also believes in a mystical life force

Quote again:
>> "Researchers are working hard to harness the body's inner power - ***_not_ some mystical life force**, but the chemical energy locked up in the body's own food stores - and convert some of that into electricity. "

The point is that it's NOT mystical. It is measurable (chemical, mechanical), and therefore real. The job of science is to walk into mystery, and enjoy the view. To enter the world of science is to be an explorer of mystery, observing, measuring, and making what sense we can of this great, fascinating, challenging and ultimately real and beautiful world. Think Star Trek. Cue tricorders... ;-)

Smooth fascia will probably transmit energy better than tangled fascia. Certainly it works for mechanical energy! and who knows what we will discover on the way! what a wonderful experiment!

> We distance ourselves and our discipline from science, as Rolfers when we make a loud point of things that can't >be taken out of the bucket, for when we speak this way we are speaking against science... whose job is to take >things out of the bucket.

The job is to understand and measure what the behavior is of whatever we have in the bucket. Like Schroedinger's cat, it may or may not be alive, once you take it out of its environment.

> and some things can't be taken out of the bucket but we don't know what that is (at least insofar as we are being > >scientific).

We won't know that until we try. Fascia outside of its environment quickly loses its qualities, if you read Robert's reports:
Good ideas withstand testing, are worth testing, and are fun to test.
My idea in forwarding the article was not that Science understands Mystery, but that through Science everyone can understand what was, previously, mysterious.
It levels the playing ground, creates common ideas (mechanical or chemical energy understood) instead of speaking in overly general or limited terms. This scientific understanding of "energy" could move us from a "Middle Ages" terminology of "humours" into a real conversation and exploration of what happens when you lengthen the fascia of the soleus and get greater potential for mechanical energy. Or lengthen the fascia of the psoas, free the movement of the kidney, and create greater potential, through hydration, for greater chemical energy of that organ.
I think we should ask ourselves if we have to do anything "mystical" to play a symphony, perform good kata, or have a beautiful garden.

If you just did "mystical" things, what would happen?
If you worked hard and practiced, what would happen?

Like the man who asked the old guy on the corner "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
"Practice, my son. Practice."

More specifically on Science:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

One of my "devotions" is wild foods. I haven't talked about it so overtly, but now that it's fall, it's harvest season, and I'm out and about with my bags and my basket, I should. It's such a huge part of my life.
Having read the historical novel by Gabaldon, I am drawn back to my love of this kind of story, be it the Jean Auel or Anne McCaffrey books.
Females are drawn to "gathering" and we are enticed to do so at many modern edifices, from Tuesday Morning to WalMart to flea markets and auction houses.
This is a falsely led instinct, in my own book. Our instincts lead us to the woods, where there are specials every month. It's always free, and needs only our strolling approval to participate.

This month, it's Bay Boletes. Wow, look at those beauties! I also picked up handfuls of cranberries and a few blackberries. Blueberries I simply grabbed off the elevated trailside (above pollution by fox-bandworm levels) and nibbled for their rich tartness and high protein.

Rather than just read about people gathering the natural world to them, I have chosen to participate. It began in Texas, helping my mom with Muscadine grape jelly. Later, I gathered my own, starting with dewberries in the steaming Texas spring. Mushrooms in Texas are not a common thing, not anything sanely edible, anyway.

My love of mushrooms really got started in Indiana where I learned about Morels and learned to hunt them, no thanks to the local selfish (short) park ranger at the state park in Lawrence.

I figured it out, I gathered kilos of them, I gathered oyster and Judas ear mushrooms and plentiful puffballs as well. I stuck to the easy ones, nothing which could ever be confused with something poisonous.

Later, having landed in Germany, I read up on Boletes and Cantherellus, as well as other temperate specialties. I experimented (with spore prints) and got better and better, more confident. Now I am pretty sure about my "easy" mushrooms and my "don't try it" ones.

In the wake of all the China food scares, I just hope they don't manufacture Iams cat food over there, because that's all our elderly kitty will eat.

For myself, I'd be perfectly happy tending some chickens, rabbits, fish, or hunting regularly for all of the above plus venison. I know that I eat animals, I'm OK with that. I have killed for food before, and find it far more comfortable and ethical than just buying cold flesh in styrofoam.

Let me loose in the woods, and I'll keep us fed more often than not. I love nuts, mushrooms, berries and I can tickle a fish from the water, given fish in said water. I love this lifestyle, and find it more evident in fall, when I set out to the woods with a carefully divided and sorted bag over my shoulder. I also gather rose hips for health tonic.

I buy local German eggs, and I'll keep looking for ways to keep eating locally in this so-tight European economy.
I have to drive with these trucks on the highway, so the motivation is very real, to keep them to a minimum.

I have a garden full of sunflowers, Romanesque, green onions, crookneck squash and collards. I even have sweet corn and strawberries! My herb garden has parsley, mints, tarragon, sage, savory, oregano/majoram, thyme, lemongrass and bay.

Each of us just have to find ways to do for ourselves. Eat local. Never mind bio, never mind organic. Eat local. See what's good, check it out, enjoy it!

Life is good in every season. Just give it a try.
I love fall in Germany. There is simply no comparison to the dessicated oven heat of the Texas "fall" and the silent screams of the leaves as they leave tiny smoke trails, burnt from the trees in 90- 100 degree heat.

In Texas, we lived for the "blue norther"a violent sweep of cold air from the Plains refreshing the Texas oven.

Today the German winds were blustery, but in a friendly way. The sun came out and warmed things up, and the wind kept playfully tossing boughs, leaves, and smaller livestock about. If something larger than a cow blows across the alley, we know to stay in. Temps were above 50 F, which is downright summery for this part of the world.

I took advantage of the good weather (read, not precipitating) to head up the nearest hill into the outdoor grocery. You never know what's on special, this time of year! Blueberries and cranberries both hang around for months. The mushrooms really get down to business in the cool damp of fall. I just had to look around to see what the "specia
l" was.
Turns out it was Marone, Xerocomus badius, the Bay Bolete. I got a couple of other strays in there, and decided one was a Bitter Bolete. Good thing, too, those damn things can ruin an entire dish.

Here, it's a time-honored tradition to set out into the woods with a bag or basket. The old folks (Oma and Opa) will ask you what you found, gladly inspect it, and offer commentary in thick dialect.

In my hiking boots and woodland greens, my DEET-soaked hat, staff, and shoulder bag, I was obviously "in Schwammerle gehen" going into the sponges/mushrooms.

Batting, pinching and flicking away the friendly deer lice (imagine a giant flying louse, just as bad as it sounds!) despite the pure DEET I've sprayed on cuffs, socks, hat and collar, I set up the gentle hillside though blueberry bushes and pine forest. The deer lice are only mildly nonplussed by DEET, fortunately they are soft, detectable and easy to kill. Four of
them came out of my hair in the shower, despite the hat. I wear a black Permethrin ballcap.

Immediately, I began to find the bay boletes, some attacked by another white fungus. I didn't collect these, as it's not wise to mix fungi. My bag filled with nice bay boletes, and I found many almost 10 inches (23 cm) in breadth, though they were riddled with other fungi and worms. I left them to spread spores.

I had no luck with Cantherellus cibarius, or Pfifferlinge in German.
I did find a Sparassus crispus, or cauliflower mushroom. Having seen it before, I collected bunches of it to take hom
e and double, triple and quadruple check. I've always loved the rich smell of this one, but I am so careful of fungi I am not acquainted with, and don't take new ones home easily.

I cooked the crispus with roots of the Jerusalem Artichoke, or Topinambur as it's known here, in regular and herb butters with shallots. I nibbled several handfuls with salt, and will note any effects later. It was very good, and would be so nice with eggs or in soup! I just have to see how *I* react to it. I don't do well with Lactarius, they give me the trots (diarrhea) so I have learned to be extra super careful.

I made a cream and red wine sauce of the bay boletes to go with the meatloaf (also containing bay boletes) and mashed potatoes I made for a man sick with a stomach virus, who is also recovering from hip replacement surgery.

It brings out the medicine woman in me, when my man gets sick in the fall.. he does it every fall. As much as he loves Germany, the onset of cold weather does him in every year. If not in fall, then in February, around his birthday. I'm not sure how different it would be in any other climate, but here, it's very predictable.

I've beat up and made tea of my old Korean ginseng root, I've slipped echinacea extract into his fresh (from our gardens, thanks to our landlord) apple juice, and stewed and smashed rose hips into spiced wine for his improvement. In the woods, I hoped to find Grifola frondosa, or "hen of the woods" to feed him, for immunity.

It's bad every year, but if we can't get his endurance above water after the surgery this year, it's going to be bloody miserable.

This is the medicine woman, going out to collect handfuls and handfuls of rose hips, for lots of tea and constant dosings.The mechanical fixes perhaps don't pay attention to the function of the deep long bone marrow in terms of immunity, endurance, vitality, and deep, general health.

This is the difference between what the allopathic docs do, no matter how much we need it.. and what we can do for ourselves.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Zonin 2006 Chardonnay friuli, origine Aquileia: Too sweet and a little watery, without the tart tautness I enjoy in Italian Chards. Not undrinkable, but disappointing. Makes a nice spritzer with mineral water and an ice cube.

Last week I also sipped a Rioja. (Vina Pasarela 2006, Calificada {Espana} Bodegas Isidro Milagro, Alfaro, Spain. Rich, fruity, with nicely spicy undertones. Another good "spaghetti wine". You can't go wrong with a sassy Rioja.

Sitting here in an untouched and waiting bottle is a 2001 Gran Reserva Vina Cierzo, origin Carinena. San Valero, Espana is the bottler. This bottle of silky whoop-ass is waiting for a rich meal of beef or spicy stir-fry, or perhaps one of my "French dinners" when I nibble the season's heavenly old-style "here-and-there" apples, a variety of rich cheeses (Irish Cheddars, Brie, and if I'm quite lucky I find an aged Mimette or Gruyere to revel in) instead of bothering to cook.

I haven't spent over four Euros for any of these wines, by the way. The Gran Reserva is under three at the local Aldi. For the array of Chards I've listed, I had to go to the "supermarket" in the closest big town, Weiden (which means "willows"). This is where I got the nice Pinot Noir mentioned earlier.

The Alsace St Emilion Gran Cru over there in the rack is waiting for a special occasion. Friends gave it to me for helping unload it out of their van a couple years ago, when they got back from the wine fest in Dambach LaVille. They've seen it in restaurants for about 300 Euros. I doubt we could touch it, in the states, for love or money.

There it sits, in the rack, waiting patiently, as only a good red wine can.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I haven't indulged in hysterical novels for some time now, tending rather to various works of nonfiction such as Dawkins or Bryson.

A friend sent me Diana Gabaldon's _Outlander_, and I gave it a try.
I thought myself soft-headed for being a trifle transfixed.

It's a romp about a 1945 Army field surgical nurse transported to 17th century Scotland through a stone circle. At that, I'll never touch a one again. The damp, impoverished (economic and intellectual) misery of the times is not stinted. Of course there is a love story thereby, with many intriguing undercurrents, with a younger Highlander laddie.

As a mature woman who fell more than headlong for a modern Gordon Highlander, despite my best efforts, intentions, strategy and wishes, and as a trained, headstrong and more than occasionally scatterbrained healer type ending up in a place not of my choosing, but making it work, I see why my friend sent me the book.

Living here in Europe where I can stroll into our little town and touch 12th century tumbledown walls, and the aspect of my neighbors is something I'd only seen in the woodcuts of Durer, history is real.

A few minutes stroll from the front door of our massive yellow rented house are wheat and oat fields lined by double-track dirt roads. The trails lead up into the timber forests on the hills, lined with blackthorn, elder, and berry bushes. On a lucky day I have time to stroll and ponder, and perhaps bring home some mushrooms.

Reading the book brought me back to the too-short trip we took to Ayrshire on the coastal South of Scotland. We rode the train though rough fields of heather with its vivid dark greens and lavenders, and walked the fine sand coast barefoot to an old ruined castle. We still plan to visit the Highlands as well.

We also spent a long and delightful week in Ireland. This small island makes itself smaller by measuring speed in miles per hour, and distances in kilometers. Just driving there was a mad adventure! Ireland is also expensive, but the Euro is a bit more bearable. It felt like home... I've always leaned towards my Irish side, and found myself just fitting, there.

We still dream of walking Hadrian's wall. However, the Pound Sterling at worth twice the dollar, it's a financial sting we're not interested in bearing. Not this year, anyway!

When Chuck is walking again, if we can stay, then we can plan a trip. Otherwise we just wait for a while.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A week or two of wine in review:

Gran Reserva 2001 Jumilla La Terraza: Harsh, unforgiving. Very tart and tannic with not enough depth to balance.

Chardonnay 2006 Trentino, Mezzacorona: Typical dry-grass Chard, but a bit flat, despite good tartness.

Edelzwicker 2005, Vin d'Alsace, Arthur Metz: Not a fan of Edelzwicker, but it's tart, pleasant enough and has a good body. Not Pam Anderson, but maybe the girl next door on a good day.

Chardonnay 2005, Aromo Estate, Chile, D.O. Maule Valley: too strong for its flavor. This is a problem with the Chards these days, they are trying to hard to taste like Penfolds, which I used to like and now find to be a bit too close to kangaroo piss to actually bother drinking, or paying for. I don't want to chew on the oak most of the time, I just want to smell it in the distance, and I like the Chard grape to really sparkle in its beautiful tartness. This one ain't it.

Vasco de Gama 2001 Dao Reserva, Anadia, Portugal : Heavenly. Deep, balanced and clean. Matched the brie, walnuts and apples I was nibbling perfectly.

Weisser Burgunder 2006 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Moselland eG Winzergenossenschaft: Lovely light fizz, tart, deep and cheap at the local Aldi.

Valpolicella Classico 2005, Lamberti Santepietre: Slightly fruity, probably a good spaghetti wine. Flat, after sipping the Dao Reserva.

Pinot Noir 2005, Nicolas Napoleon (France): this is one of those "go back and pick up a boxful" wines. Rich, deep, balanced without either too much fruit or tannin. Great nose, silky in the mouth like Belgian chocolate.

Chardonnay 2005 Tierra di Chieti, Farnese (Farneto Valley, Italy): This is how I like my Chard to taste these days. This is the kind of wine which drove me to my Italian Chard kick.. like a crisp fall apple off the tree, without having the chew the tree down like a beaver first. Strong, but gentle. Crisp, but a lingering sweetness after the sip. Apples, sunshine, and clover hay.

Most of this stuff hard to find stateside, but it's so easy for us to play in it over here, I thought it would be fun to provide the occasional review from our glass recycling bag.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Wandered into the Czech Republik again today.
The little country that could has rebounded since the lifting of the Soviet bootheel from its neck.

The tiny town of Loket, known as Elbogen in German, has a tiny stronghold on a deep bend in the Elbe, or Ohre in Czech. I'm sorry, I'm not getting the diacritical marks right on my American keyboard.

Here is an official link:

All good fortresses have a devoted guardian, and this one had a little black girl-kitty who followed us around, amused by Chuck's four-legged gait, I suppose. Maybe she just knew suckers for kitties when she saw them.
I think she would have liked petting, but had some history to preclude easy contact. I got a brush of her damp, silky coat as she wove through a stair railing next to me.

We didn't have time to go into the fortress itself. The time it took to check out the town and grab some lunch precluded a real savory experience of poking through a nice artifact. I was not, however, kept from window shopping. I wonder if flies are free with all overpriced porcelain?

Starving by the time we made our way through soggy little towns
and border crossings, we stopped at the Goethe Restaurant. By this time a dry tent would have been warm and inviting, so we paused for beer and sustenance. I had a fabulously fresh trout (pstruh) and CG had his usual fried chicken/Cordon Bleu variation with fried potato substances. We had the obligatory cold Becherovka and split some Pilsener Urquell. The food was lovely, the girl looked like a tall version of a pouty 30s beauty, and spoke very good German. We savored the hoppy beer, the spicy liqueur, and the fresh, carefully prepared food. The entire meal cost about $25 American. Ask yourself, could you get this, with the scenery, for this price, in the states? The drinks alone would cost that much. Oh, and we each had a Viennese coffee (Vdanska kava) hot coffee with loads of whipped cream on top.

By this time, the castle was closing in 30 minutes (at 4:30pm) and we decided to come back another time.

We did take the time to meander the walls of the fortress, enjoying the forested walks and views of the castle walls from outside.

The rain took a break for our tour, and got right back to pissing when we got back on the road back to our home in Bavaria.

Driving along between imaginary country lines, I think of Bill Bryson and his book "Neither Here nor There" which is pretty much where I'm living these days.

I'm contemplating an unknown path, with a high wall on one side, and a muddy river on the other. I'm afraid of heights, and hate water I can't see the bottom of, though I swim like a fish and climb rather well. I just dislike the inconvenience.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In these days when we realize that our time may be short, for everyone, the travel goals become a little frenetic. We have realized that we have yet to visit the open, egalitarian paradise that is Amsterdam.
Or, if you like, the sinfest that is Amsterdam.It all depends on your definition of sin. Our impression will probably be based on how much time we spend dealing with the petty crime, from pickpockets to waiters with creative surcharges, which goes with any large city, anywhere.

In US morality, if no one in current power makes money from it, it must be sinful. If not, it's perfectly legal...

Personally, I don't have a good reaction to or enjoy cannabis products. I like a beer or glass of wine, if it's good quality and won't bust my head in the morning (most of them do) but I was an asthmatic kid and breathing smoke of any kind (my mom was a smoker) I've just had enough of that.

For me, just entering a new culture is enough of a trip.
Despite sharing a name and some initials, I am not the biggest Emily Dickinson fan. Meanwhile, something she said stays with me as a very real truth: "To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else".

I live the same life as everyone else. I go to bed (often too late) and wake up (also often too late) I go to work, I get home and cook dinner and clean up. I go to the dojo and the gym, we shop and go out to eat.

We just happen to do it all in Germany or on an Army post.
We drive a car, we flush toilets, we mow lawns and run dishwashers. We recycle (mandatory, fortunately the bins are literally 4 steps from our driveway) we shop (on and off post, and at the duty-free where we get coffee a Euro cheaper per packet!) we go for walks and bike rides, and we travel.

So far, we've been to the Alsace, London (bleah, never again! too crime-ridden and expensive), Prague (v. cool) Berlin, Munich (my second home in Bavaria due to so much time there training with the European Rolfing Association) Scotland, Ireland (can't wait to go again!) Frankfurt, Freiburg, and beautiful Greece.

The pic is from our friend Geoff at Paleoartisans.