Saturday, August 30, 2014

That Sense of Closure

Sketchbook Collage, 2012
How do you know when you're really and truly finished with something, ready to let it go and ready to let go of as many of the remaining bits as possible?

I've been thinking about this for quite a while now, with respect to some of the creative things I used to do ~ spinning, weaving, dyeing, deconstructed screen printing, batik, discharge ~ and wondering when it would be time to really let go of these things, as fully as possible.

Spinning and weaving are kind of no-brainers in this regard, because I sold my equipment and all supplies four years ago.  I sometimes still miss spinning, but it's simply never to be again.  My wrists simply burned out and the last time I tried to spin, just before selling my wheel, in just five minutes my wrists were howling.

I finally made the decision this week to let go of my fiber reactive dyes and supplies, as well as most of my silk screens.  I'm giving it all to a young woman in Eureka who dyes and sells clothes for a living.  As often as I've thought I might want to dye again, the truth is, there's simply no reason for me to do it.  I've still got a 15 inch high stack of surface designed fabrics that I haven't used and might possibly end up selling.  In truth, I was never as good a fabric dyer anyway, as I was a dyer of spinning fibers.  To some extent this was the difference between using fiber reactive dyes for cloth compared with acid dyes for spinning fibers.  There was a much steeper learning curve with fiber reactive dyes, and as much fabric as I did dye, it was rare that I created something I really loved.

When I actually imagine the process of dyeing ~ and consider the fact of having to reestablish a learning curve, and the fact that I can't physically stand at the sink for long periods of time rinsing out fabric, and the fact that dyeing/rinsing uses an enormous amount of water ~ then pretty immediately I realize it's just not going to happen for me again.

Similarly with deconstructed screen printing, which was perhaps my favorite surface design technique, and batik and discharge ~ there's too much involved, too much cleanup, too much time at the sink, no room to lay things on the floor to process overnight or wait to be ironed out.  Much as I enjoyed these, I'm done with them.

Yesterday I began sorting through and condensing several big notebooks of dyeing swatches and information, as well as articles I've had for years (in some cases 35 years) on projects and techniques I will never get to.  Most of this amounted to throwing everything out that can't be recycled to print on the back of.  I've also let go of even more books in my collection, not all art/craft related, that I truly never will read again.  Most of these books had consistently made the cut for years, but now they've been cut as well.

I went through my collection of glass seed and accent beads yesterday ~ not the first time I've culled, actually the 3rd or 4th time ~ and am in the process of listing small collections of color-related beads at Etsy.  Believe it or not, I still have way more beads than I'll ever use.

It seems that as much stuff as I can let go of, there's always more to get rid of.  So to answer the question I began this post with, I don't know whether there's really such a thing as final closure.  I think, as grieving is, closure is likely a lifetime process of letting go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comments and Replies

Again, I thank you all for your comments on my posts.  I love getting comments, and I reply often, especially if the commenter is either new to reading my blog or new to commenting.  In fact, I make it a point to welcome newbies aboard ~~ when I'm able to.

But I've been frustrated for quite a while by the fact that many of your comments come to me from


instead of from your real email.  For a long time I thought this had something to do with the way I had my comment settings arranged.  But what I do, as the blog owner, has nothing to do with the matter.

Some blog owners reply to comments right on their blogs.  But I don't like doing this...primarily because it forces the commenter to have to go back to that post to read the reply.  A few people whose blogs I follow do this, so I will go back to the older post to read what they've said in response to my comment.  But I'd rather not have to.  As a blog owner, I'd much rather get your comment in my email inbox and reply to you directly by email.

If you want replies to your comments on my blog or any other Blogger/Blogspot blog you read, then you have to change your settings on your blogger account.  Even if you don't have your own blog, but you reply to blogs, you have a blogger account.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, here is a link to someone else's blog with a tutorial on how to change the settings on your blogger account so that your email address shows.  If you've been wondering why you never get replies to your comments from anyone's blog, this is why.  You have to change your settings so that your email address shows up when your comment arrives in the blogger's email inbox.

Also, if you're on Google+, the same problem applies.  I get your comments but cannot reply to you directly because your email address is hidden by Google+.  You'll have to go to the settings on your profile, and click the box that will allow your email address to be seen by people you send comments to.  You may actually have to let Google+ know to use your Blogger profile, something you would do through your Google+ settings.  I'm not clear on this ~~ I don't/won't use Google+ (even though I automatically have a profile there because I use Blogger).

These are folks I've had comments from just in the last few weeks, that I haven't been able to respond to, other than by writing a new blog post.

Christine Adams
Rose Legge
Jan Ward
Nina Fenner
Bridgette Mills
Diana Angus

Some of you on the list I know from elsewhere, like Facebook, or because I read your blog.  But still, in order to respond to your comments on my blog, I would have to go to your blog and leave a comment, or send you a message on Facebook.  It shouldn't be this hard to reply.

There's another large group of readers whose email does not show up with comments.  These are people I know personally, or have been in touch with for many years online, so I have already your email addresses.  If I want to reply to your blog comments, rather than just hit reply, write a message and send, I have to manually type in your email address from my address book.  Some or all of you also might want to change the settings on your blogger/Google+ profiles.  Here's a list of those folks:

Michelle Remy
Susan Christensen
Jacki Long

...and that's just going back to the beginning of August.  Like I said, I can still reply to folks in the list just above, BUT...if any of you guys wonder why you might not ever get replies from other people whose blogs you comment on, now you know.

Now that I've explained what you have to do to get replies to your comments, let me say that this issue is only a problem with Blogger/Blogspot blogs.  Wordpress and Typepad blogs require that you leave your email address at the bottom of every comment you make.  So the blog owner automatically gets your email address.  Blogger, which is an arm of Google, doesn't do this.  On the one hand, it's an apparent hassle to have to set your profile so that your email shows (and it's only going to show to the blog owner when your comment hits their email inbox; it won't show in the comment box for anybody else to see).

On the other hand, Blogger and Google have user privacy built into their platforms, which is a nice thing in this day and age.  At least Blogger isn't Facebook, which automatically invades your privacy until you opt out.  In the case of Blogger/Google, you have to opt in for your email address to be seen.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I truly appreciate your recent comments, especially those suggesting a slanted drafting table as a possible solution to my back/neck problems.  Since several of you chimed in with that, I thought I'd devote this post to making clear for you the physical limitations of where I live and work, i.e. Rose Cottage.  It's really hard to appreciate just how small "small living/working space" is until you know the particulars.

My entire inside life takes place in 294 square feet of space, plus a small closet and bathroom.  In the photo to the left, you can see the mirrors on the closet doors on the left beyond the ironing board.  Just to the right of the closet is an alcove with my bathroom.  I have a nice tile shower, but no tub.

This room houses the larger of my two studio tables (both of which are elevated several inches beyond normal table height).  I can't simply replace this table with a slanted drafting table, because then I would lose all that storage space, those crate and plank shelves sitting atop the worktable.  I also have storage tubs underneath.  Drafting tables are great for folks who do the same thing all the time, like drafting or drawing or even writing.  You simply can't do mixed media work on a slanted table -- it's not about doing the same thing consistently and all those different techniques require a horizontal surface.  Plus the fact that anything put on a slanted table would simply roll off.  And then there's the issue of my wrists, which are one of my many compromised body parts.  Wrists consistently bent at an awkward angle, like working at a drafting table, would only add insult to injury.  As it is, I already wear wrist braces at night, and have for over six years.

A few months ago, when I was painting and thought that was what I'd do forever (hah!), I bought a table easel from Dick Blick.  I really like it, but I actually only used it for about 15 minutes.  I had to keep moving the easel out of the way to get to my paints, and the easel kept hitting my studio lamps wherever I positioned it, even though my lamps are adjustable.  There simply wasn't enough space on the work table for me to use it, and no other appropriate surface to set it on.

This is the other end of the same room.  I was sitting in the office chair here when I took the first photo above.  Sometimes my computer sits on this table (also, you might be able to see my sewing machine just to the left of the lamp on the right, behind the chair back).  Often, though, like right at this minute, my computer is sitting on the big work table and I am sitting on my high drafting chair. My printer sits atop a plastic storage tub under the work table.  I have to bend down frequently to use it.  I'm just glad it's wireless.  When I watch DVDs or stream TV online, the computer sits atop two pillows on my lap, on the couch.  I keep the screen at eye level virtually all the time, to favor my neck.

Just to the right of the photo is a nearly-floor to ceiling window with grid shelving in front.  The shelving ends where the ironing board begins.

That's BeeGee there, looking out the window.

This is the hallway connecting my two rooms, from the north room with the big table into the south room, which serves as my main "living" area as well.

This is my smaller work table, which also has shelves built on top of it and storage underneath.  The black shirt on the far right is hanging on the back of my front door.

This is the same room, looking the other direction, away from the front door.  My kitchen.  My living room.  The refrigerator is to the right of the stove in this photo, and to the left of the work table in the photo above.
Another view of my living space.  Notice, if you will, that in all these images, there's no bedroom, no dining area, no regular dining-type chairs to sit in, and not even enough room for me to get down on the floor and really stretch out.  I eat most meals sitting Indian style on the couch with a tray on my knees.  

Also notice that just about every inch of space is being utilized.  I have things tucked in nooks and crannies that you likely didn't even my folding futon (housed during the day to the right of the drafting chair, between the work table and the shelving unit, in the first photo at the top of the post), or my foam mattress topper rolled up and stowed in a spot in this photo, between the round end table and the cart my microwave sits on.  Likewise the rest of my bedding is stashed in spots so it's out of the way during the day.  Every night I move the ottoman over toward the sink, lay out the futon and topper on the floor in front of the sofa, and make up the rest of my bed for the night.  And I put it all away every day or there's simply no space to do anything else. 

My couch is smaller than a normal couch.  Any other couch, including traditional style fold-out sleepers or those new, modern couch/bed things (the sleek but cold looking ones), would take up even more space in this room than my current couch does.  So that is not an option to my sleeping situation.  Actually, my futon is the most comfortable bed I've ever had, so even if I had a real bedroom, I'd likely just get a low frame to put the futon on.

This is looking back from the south room into the north.

So, this is Rose Cottage.  Tight as a drum.  You can see why I am constantly reorganizing supplies and getting rid of stuff -- I simply don't have room to spare.

When I first rented this space, it was as an art studio only.  I was staying with a friend at the time and had the rest of my household goods in storage.  When that living situation changed after 1-1/2 years, I basically had to move into my art studio because I couldn't afford a second rent.  I also couldn't afford to keep all that stuff in storage so I sold or gave away everything that wouldn't fit in Rose Cottage.  So this was a case of my art studio having to accommodate me living in it -- as opposed to my carving out space to make art in my already-established home.

I'm all for tiny-house living, but in order for me to live and work in the same space, then obviously I need a bigger place.  Unfortunately, that's simply an impossibility for me at the moment.  As it is, the rent I'm paying for Rose Cottage is more than half my monthly social security income (plus the rent has gone up 15 percent since I moved in in 2009 while social security has increased maybe 3 percent).  I rarely sell any art (or used books or CDs or art supplies) anymore, and when I do, it's not enough to make a significant difference to me financially.

Any other available living space in Fortuna would cost more than I am currently paying -- and believe me, I check all the time.  Plus, utilities are included in my even if I found another place, I'd have to fork out an additional $75 - $100 a month for utilities on top of higher rent.  The ideal situation for me would be a detached one-bedroom mother-in-law unit behind someone's home, where they were more interested in having a solid, mature, clean, quiet, long-term renter in the space than with getting market-rate rent.  Rents in California are out of sight, even in rural, largely low-income Humboldt County.  The rent I pay now for under 300 square feet of space is 500 percent higher than my mortgage payment was for a "2-bedroom and office" home in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s.

We do have low income housing in Humboldt County, of course.  I'm on the waiting list for a voucher, I'm like number 350 on the list.  There are a lot of low income families here and very few vouchers to go around.  Still, even if I was able to get a voucher, all the low income units in the county that take housing vouchers are in huge apartment complexes filled with noisy, ill-behaved kids and their clueless, often negligent parents, as well as a lot of druggie types.  I simply couldn't live in one of those places.

We do have a private senior-only complex in Fortuna, where residents pay only 30 percent of their monthly income.  You have to be at least 62, low income, and have a disability of some sort.  I meet all the qualifications.  I've been on the waiting list for two years.  I keep getting booted out of first place by the next person who comes along who also meets all the qualifications but is older and/or more disabled than I am.

So there you have it.  This is what's so in my little world.  I'm stuck, until I can get into Mountain View Village (the place I just mentioned), or that perfect mother-in-law unit magically appears.  I just have to make the best of it in Rose Cottage, and that's exactly what I've been doing.  Despite the space limitations which make it nearly impossible for me to implement any significant changes in my setup that might be more body-friendly, I'm happy being here.  It's really quiet, it's cozy, I have great neighbors, I have a fabulous view over the Eel River Valley only about 100 steps from my front door.  But I'm also not psychically ready to move yet, either.  I figure when the timing is right, the Universe's timing that is, then the appropriate next place to live will become available to me.  I'm doing and have done everything I can.  The situation is out of my hands at this point.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Four Up

Four of my fifteen stamphead, kids-book-page postcards.  I had a lot of fun with these.  The little jewel stickers are from the dollar store.

I'm reading my third Ruth Ozeki book this summer, All Over Creation.  I love that her books take on BIG issues (like genetically modified food) in novel form.

I read The Drowned Man, by David Whellams, recently, and liked it.  Good mystery.  I have his earlier Walking Into the Ocean in my queue at home.  The latter is the first in Whellams' Peter Cammon series.

I also just read my first Elizabeth George mystery, Careless in Red.  She wrote all the Inspector Lynley books, of which Careless is one of the most recent.  And I saw all the BBC Inspector Lynley TV series so I didn't feel the need to start at the beginning of the book series.  I like her writing a lot, although Careless had too many tangential, unnecessary characters, making the book longer than it needed to be.  Still, I'll read the next one.

A couple things are on my mind...but I think I'll save my philosophizing for next week.

Have a great weekend.  It's beautiful this morning in my neck o' the woods and the temps are supposed to be in the low- to mid-70s for the next week anyway.  I think summer has finally arrived on the North Coast.  xo

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Signs of Life

Evidence of studio activity...

What I'm working on at the moment is a series of postcards made from children's book pages, featuring stampheads.  Quite fun.

Although I always wind up doing more than I should at one time, meaning I end up pushing myself physically.  It's easy for me to get on a roll and not want to stop.  Yesterday saw me powering through a lot of pain in my back, neck and right hip...before I finally stopped myself, called the chiropractor and was able to get an adjustment later in the day.

My desire to make less art now is about taking care of my body -- I need to keep reminding myself of this, that it's not about being lazy.  The truth is that it hurts.  All the art I make has me looking down at a work table, and that's hell on my neck.  Or standing up at my tables, which is hard on my lower back and hips.  Even sitting and looking down is painful.

And so it goes.  Lots of good new ideas, but what actually gets done will happen in snippets of time between lots of resting.  Ahhh, aging...

Note to younger readers especially:  Establish healthy boundaries for your body, and apply them.  When younger, our bodies usually don't complain if we overwork ourselves.  Or if the body does ache, it's too easy to stop working for now and then go right back at it with renewed and increased vigor later on or the next day, often day after day.  Until one day, after years of overworking yourself and having no regard for what the future might hold, your body simply isn't able to stand any repetitive activity for more than a few minutes.  Ask me how I know...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scraping Bottom

Art Journal collage, August 2014
I'm down to the last couple of images of recent work to upload here.  That alone is reason to start making art again.  Remember when I posted here everyday or nearly?  I was way more productive.  Not that that matters, really.  It's just a fact.

I'm making my semi-monthly trek into Eureka today for food shopping and other errands.  I'm also having lunch with one artist friend and later, coffee with another.  Yesterday I went to the Humboldt County Fair with another friend, and we listened to yet another friend and her partner play Hawaiian music.  Good friends, good times.  I'll be ready for my solitude again tomorrow, I'm sure.

And I do plan to be creative again, beginning later this week.

Have a great week.  xoxo

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back To The Future

And now, back to our irregularly scheduled programming...

Here's my new coordinated set of Gelli printing plates ~~ 4x6, 5x7, 6x6, 3x6, and 4x12.  They're a set because they used to be one 12x14 inch plate.  I never did much with that huge printing plate anyway.  Gelli, as you may know, has recently started selling several small-sized plates that I definitely wasn't going to spend even more money on. do the math.  I think the likelihood of my using any or all of these smaller plates is far greater than my ever using the huge plate again.  (I still have my original 8x10 inch plate.)

Here's what I did:  I used an Omnigrip ruler (one of those used for making cuts on fabric for quilting), and a sharp craft knife.  The gelli stuff was especially hard to cut at the top and bottom ends of my incisions, and I'm afraid I didn't do as clean a job as I would have liked.  I figured that if I really use one of those small sizes a lot and the slightly uneven edge bothers me, then perhaps I'd buy one that size!  I've already had a couple comments asking to know what I did, so here it is.

I actually feel a few minor stirrings of inspiration to Gelli print again...but then, I feel that way about several things at the moment.  Meanwhile, it's a lot easier to just lie down and read a book.

I'll be taking a book making class in September from one of our local NorBAG members.  Looking forward to that.  I've also wanted to do some Jude Hill-inspired hand stitching for quite a while, so will likely enroll in one of her online classes before August is out (all her classes are on sale this month).

Have a great weekend.  xoxo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Long Story Short

A couple days into that writing project, and I began to get depressed...

Here's the deal:  Few of you know that I've already done that depth work on my past ~~ the introspective writing and Progoff Intensive Journaling (separate from all that other journaling I did), a few years in non-substance abuse 12-step programs, several bouts of therapy, and countless personal growth workshops.

I can't go back there again.  It's history.

Robin Williams' suicide has really gotten to me.  First off, I still can't quite believe it.  Here's this guy we all loved, and nobody really knew how much he was hurting inside.  The thing is, we've all been damaged in some way, everybody is suffering.  My early difficulties are no worse than anyone else's, and not nearly as bad as a lot of folks'.

I spent the better part of my adult life dealing with the hand I was dealt, and not dealing well at all in some respects.  But here I am, and I suspect I'm a better person now because of my past than I might have been if I'd had it easier from the get-go.

I will, though, give you a synopsis of my life in a nutshell ~~
  • My childhood and adolescence were difficult and painful.  My mother was insane.
  • I responded by trying to run away from the past, for nearly 20 years.  
  • Those years included two marriages and a third major relationship; physical moves from Santa Cruz to Maui to Boulder and back to Santa Cruz; numerous jobs with increasing levels of responsibility that I was always good at but which were never a good fit for me, alternating with times of creative enterprise in one form of another; other travels; and all that personal growth work mentioned above.
  • I made a lot of mistakes because I had had no guidance.  Those mistakes, though, were really nothing more than major errors of judgment.  I was never clinically depressed, I was never in trouble with the law, I didn't become an alcoholic or drug abuser, I hurt no one but, ultimately, myself.  I didn't know any better.
  • It took me a further 20 years or so to build a new life for myself.  I continued to do personal growth work during these years, made a few more physical moves,and had several more jobs of the same ilk while being as creative as I could be all at the same time.
  • I survived.  I lived to tell the story.  I'm better off now for all the shit and hard times I went through.

C'est la vie.

About four years ago, all the pieces of my life fell into place.  I'm settled, I'm happy, I don't work anymore, everything in my life is just the way I want it to be.  I love myself, I'm happy with who I've become ~~ which is really who I was to begin with ~~ and there's nothing else I need or want.

I'm still grateful, though, to those of you who suggested I write further about my life.  What you've really done is kicked me in the butt to let the past go and move on.  Many thanks.  xoxo

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shift Happens

I'm writing now.  I'm writing to tell the story of my life, and I'm writing to get my life back.

I wrote most of the weekend.  I've committed myself to writing my life.  I've made it my primary occupation until it's complete.  It might be the most important thing I ever do. 

I am very grateful to those of you who suggested that I do this, and for your encouraging words.  Buddhists say, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."  The timing is perfect.

I've already begun to notice an influx of energy, a kind of excitement actually.  I'm sleeping even less well now.  I wake up a couple times during the night wanting to write more.  And the more I do write, the more I remember.  And the clearer it becomes to me how all the earlier pieces of my life fit together.

I love to write.  I've been keeping a writing journal in one form or another, most of the time, for going on 50 years.  In many regards, journaling all these years has also been the telling of my life story, but from another perspective.  Perhaps the difference is that a large part of my journals portrays me as a victim.  Whereas writing my memoirs puts me in the role of protagonist in my own life story.  Big difference.  I suspect this shift in perspective is where my new-found energy is coming from.

This whole enterprise is a big deal for me.  I have to repeatedly remind myself that my life has been different from most people's, certainly from anybody I know personally or have come into social contact with during my lifetime.  (Yet even as I'm writing this, right now, I'm mentally comparing my life to what we see of the lives of people who are far more disadvantaged than I was...and thinking, "What right do I have to complain?")

Here are a few major themes from my life story ~~
  • My mother was insane; she wasn't a mother for me at all.
  • I came of age with a laundry list of neuroses that had been dumped on me.
  • I made a lot of mistakes in raising myself.  Essentially, I had to undo everything I was brought up with before I could start to build afresh.  Consequently I was, and always have been, a late bloomer.
  • I basically never had any help, financial, moral or otherwise, from any person in my life who might have been considered a mentor or guide.
  • And yet...there's a happy ending.
I'll leave you with that.  Have a great week!  Thanks for reading, thanks for being there.  xoxo

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Historical Review

I thought it would be interesting to see all my completed art journals together at one time.  And here they are, all 15 of them.  In these two images are art journals, a travel journal, and four shabby daybook journals.  Not bad for two years' work.

The pile below shows artist books I've done in that time.  Artist books are books in which the book itself is the content, i.e. not meant to be written in as a journal, once the book is complete.  There are 25 here, including the twelve Valentine minibooks I made in 2013, and six fabric books.

Plus, I have at least a dozen hand bound hardcover journals I haven't used yet.  I like to take a big-picture view of things occasionally, especially when I'm feeling as though I don't produce enough stuff.

I've actually begun work on my memoirs.  It's going to take a while but at least I've begun.  I notice that I keep wanting to edit out some of the most difficult parts, in my mind.  But I keep reminding myself that I am, essentially and most importantly, writing this for myself.  I already spent so much of my life varnishing over the truth...I can't, I won't do that anymore.  Even if I'm the only person who subsequently reads this, I suspect writing it might be the vehicle that enables me to finally let it go.  Lord knows I've been carrying this stuff around in my head and heart for a lifetime.

Have a great weekend.  xo

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The End of Creative Days

This is my latest shabby-style daybook, Creative Days, completed over the weekend.

These shabby journals are a real hodge podge of disparate elements.  I think that's what I like about them so much.

I've read a few really great books recently...

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng.  Her debut novel from this year.  Really terrific.
My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki's debut novel, from 1999.  Really loved it. 
The Good Daughters, another wonderful book by Joyce Maynard.

I'm in a bit of a creative lull.  There are a couple ideas percolating, but I'm not sure what to do next.

Meanwhile, I've been sleeping a lot, although not especially well at night.  Which is fine.  I've been enjoying luscious afternoon naps most days, cozy on the couch, watching the breeze wafting the ikat cloth I use for a curtain across my front room window.

Hope you're having a good week.  xo

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cheesecake Science

I finally did it ~ late last week I baked the perfect cheesecake.  I feel like I really accomplished something.

Recipe and tips below, as well as links to the two articles I read that I feel are indispensable if you're serious about baking a perfect cheesecake.


1-3/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-oz) packages
1 cup organic cane sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 pint sour cream
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Take all cold ingredients (cheeses, eggs) out of the refrigerator a couple hours before making cake.  Remove cardboard and foil from cream cheese.  These ingredients need to be at room temperature.

When you're ready to start making cake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Crust:  In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients for the crust with a fork until evenly moistened.  Pour the crumb mixture into a springform pan and, using a glass tumbler, press the crumbs down onto the base and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Filling:  In a glass bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer on low speed for about a minute until cheese is smooth.  Add sugar and beat on low until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just mixed in well.  Add sour cream, continuing to beat on low.  Then add zest and vanilla.  The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten (i.e. no bubbles).  Keep beater on low the whole time.

Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.  Put pan on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Then turn the oven off but let the cake remain in the oven for an additional hour.

If you bake it as suggested just above, you shouldn't need to test for doneness.  Once you've put the cake in the oven at 325 degrees, don't open the oven door until the entire "baking and cooling in oven with heat off" process is complete.

Remove cake from oven.  Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake to loosen.  Let cake cool on wire rack, still in the pan, until completely cool.

Leave in pan, cover with plastic or foil, and refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours before eating.  Remove sides of springform pan just before serving cake.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serated knife that has been run under hot water, then wiped dry.  Do this prior to each cut into the cake.  Once you put the knife into the cake, pull it out straight toward you.

Serve cake with topping of your choice, if desired.  Personally I'd rather eat cheesecake plain, so I can enjoy the tangy-sweet taste and the velvety texture just as it is. 


Cold ingredients need to be used at room temperature.  Take them out of the refrigerator well before you make the cheesecake.  Most recipes say 20 - 30 minutes, but I've found that isn't long enough, especially for the cream cheese.  Make it a couple hours to be safe.

Do not overbeat the filling.  Excessive beating creates too many air pockets which can cause the cheesecake to puff up too much during baking, and then crack during the cooling process.

Cheesecakes are just custards made with cream cheese instead of milk.  Once I grasped this concept, the idea of baking in a slow oven for a long time made perfect sense.  Bake the cheesecake as suggested in the recipe above.   Or, you can use the "bain-marie" process (described in the links I've included below), if you prefer. 

If the ingredients are too cold, if the filling is overbeaten, if the cheesecake is baked at too high a temperature or not cooked long enough ~~ any or all of these things will disrupt the fragile protein chemistry that takes place between the eggs and cheeses.

Cheesecake Hints and Tips ~~

Cheesecake 101 ~~


Here's the recipe in PDF format ~~ I just learned how to create a PDF to upload to the blog, so hope it works!  PERFECT LEMON CHEESECAKE

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hot Potato

"People are fed by the Food Industry, which pays no attention to health, and treated by the Health Industry, which pays no attention to food." ~~ Wendell Berry

A conversation about food, today, is the new conversation about religion or politics.  Something you can't do in mixed company, save at your peril.  Everybody has something in the domain of food that they're attached to or addicted to, something they feel they have a god-given right to eat, and notions about food and where it comes from that they are hidebound to change...even if it kills them.

The topic of food has become a huge conundrum.  It simply can't be discussed, though, without considering how integrally entwined it has become with all aspects of our lives.  After reading this post, you'll have to make your own decisions about what to eat.  But make those decisions informed ones.  That's my goal here.

There's an ever-deepening economic connection between the Food Industry, the Pharmaceutical Industry, the Medical Industry, Industrial Agriculture, the Insurance Industry, even the Financial Industry, the government and the media.  They're all owned by a handful of corporations.  Corporations whose only goals are greed, power and control worldwide.  This is Corporate America, the System.  It doesn't exist for your benefit, it doesn't exist to keep you healthy and happy, it doesn't exist to help you achieve the American dream.  It exists to profit its executives and shareholders.  Its mouthpiece is the mainstream media, whose role is to lie to the public, to obfuscate and confuse, to distract us from what's really happening with mind-numbing garbage 24/7, to make people believe they have no choice but to trust the System.  Think: Big Brother.

Whatever message the System wants to put forth, that's what you'll hear via all the media outlets: TV, radio, billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, spam emails and online ads (you even hear ads now while you wait for your cellphone number to be dialed), etc.  What you won't hear is the truth, about anything ~~ the real story, what's really happening in this country, the information you actually do need to make informed decisions about anything.  The System doesn't want you to be informed.  It wants you to be like a mushroom ~~ kept in the dark and fed bullshit.  Because if you do know the truth, the System loses.

Nearly all the food that's available now in this country is being and has been adulterated...for 30 or 40 years at least.  And it keeps getting worse.  In America, up to 95 percent of cattle routinely receive growth hormones, anabolic steroids and antibiotics, and animal feed is laced with herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.  Most beef cattle are raised in feedlots.  Commercial chicken operations and pig farms are no different.  All commercial vegetable and fruit farming relies heavily on herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, and now most, if not all, large industrial crops (corn, soybeans, sugar beets...) are genetically modified.  All of these toxins are systemic in the animal, vegetable or fruit ~~ they cannot be simply washed off.

Toxins and genetically modified organisms in commercial food are the cause of stomach, colorectal and other cancers, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cardiovascular and countless other diseases, as well as lowered sperm counts and fertility rates, rising resistance to antibiotics, astonishingly high rates of food allergies, and child and adult behavioral disorders.  "You are what you eat."  What you eat is directly related to chronic illness.   Chronic illness is directly related to the need for expensive medical care and pharmaceuticals.  The ever-rising costs of medical care and drugs are directly related to the ever-rising cost of health insurance.

So who's benefiting?  Corporate America.  Think about that. 

Anything that comes from the government about what to eat or not, is disinformation, all based on corporate-sponsored research.  Any time the System tells you there's no conclusive evidence for a link between thus and such, that's disinformation.  Any time the System downplays the effects of toxins in the food supply or the environment, that's disinformation.  You simply cannot trust the System to tell you the truth.

If you don't manage your own health, if you mistakenly believe the System will provide you with healthy food, if you rely on the System to "heal" you when you get sick, you will never get ahead of the game.  And it is a game.  You have to learn how to play strategically, for your own benefit. 

This is what I think a person needs to do to stay healthy in the early 21st century ~~

  • Stay away from all meats, including seafood.  The oceans are polluted now and even fish is being factory farmed.
  • Eat as much organic food as possible.
  • Make your own, whatever it is, so you have control over the ingredients.  In other words, stay away from buying ready made food unless you know exactly where it came from; make things from scratch.
  • Stay away from sodas entirely.  All sodas consist of high fructose corn syrup and carbonated water.  Diet sodas are the worst because they contain carcinogenic aspartame.  Energy drinks can be lethal, with the addition of very high levels of caffeine.
  • Use organic cane sugar or honey or maple syrup to sweeten foods.  NEVER use sugar substitutes, they are known killers.  And agave syrup, a recent introduction to the realm of sweeteners:  it's worse than high fructose corn syrup.
  • Stay away from all fast food.  It's not even food.
  • Read labels.  If food has stuff in it you can't pronounce, stay away from it.
  • Refuse to watch television.  If food has to be advertised, stay away from it.  Do not ask your doctor about drugs advertised on TV or in magazines.
  • Refuse to read mass media magazines.  Far more pages in every issue are devoted to advertising drugs and non-foods than to magazine content.
  • Refuse to be the mindless consumer the System wants you to be.
  • Know what's in the food you buy.  Become an informed shopper.  Be vigilant.
  • Practice self care.  If you have a problem, investigate.  If it's something within your power to resolve without having to go to the doctor, then do so.  Empower yourself.
  • Research herbal and homeopathic remedies instead of relying on pharmaceuticals. Refuse to take drugs unless you absolutely have to.  Think about the potential for adverse reactions to drugs and the possibly lethal combinations of drugs that many people take.
  • Look into alternative healing modalities when you have a problem ~~ chiropractic, acupuncture, etc.
  • Refuse to take your doctor's word for everything.  Doctors know a lot less than people give them credit for.  Become an advocate for your own health care.
  • Listen to your body.  Do the research.  Think for yourself. 

In closing, I want to say that I am no saint when it comes to eating.  I've been all over the map in my adult life with weight gain and loss, diets, and different eating lifestyles (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic).  From here on out I will be a lacto/ovo vegetarian, meaning I eat dairy products and eggs.  I'll never eat meat again, this I can say with certainty.  I have other reasons to not eat animals, besides toxicity.  Over the last few years, as I've gotten farther away from eating "bad" foods, my body has become vastly more sensitive.  So that when I do ingest something nasty, my body will react with an allergic response, as it did with achy joints recently following white sugar consumption.

Healthy eating is a journey, not a destination.  It's never too late to begin.