Making Sauerkraut

A batch of Tex-Mex sauerkraut fermenting.

I have always liked sauerkraut, usually as in with brats. Well, as an older adult anyway. As a kid you wouldn’t have been able to get me to touch the stuff. Now, it’s German potato salad, brats, and sauerkraut, yummy! With a nice German beer, of course.

With my hermit lifestyle, I’m doing a lot more experimenting and have discovered a whole wide world of sauerkraut. My eldest daughter, Elian, has been preaching the gospal to me for years about “fermented” foods. I had ran later across an article in Mother Earth News on fermenting not too long ago. When I used to think about “fermenting,” it was about beer, wine, and such, not cabbage and other veggies.

Then, just a few months ago, attending a continue education workshop for counseling (mental health) on the gut-brain connection and health, the speaker brought up fermented foods for their pro- and pre-biotics, and their many health benefits., both mental and physical health. The universe was trying to send me a message maybe?

Then, several months ago, Elian brought me a pint of jalapeño sauerkraut. She and her business partner, Lance, own and run the Clemson Area Food Exchange, which is an internet farmers’ market specializing in locally grown, mostly organic produce, meat, eggs, and crafts. Someone had ordered the jalapeño sauerkraut but not picked it up. She had plenty of fermented sauerkraut on hand already. Plus, she likes a little spice, but honestly, jalapeños? I tried it. It was indeed “spicy.” I loved it!


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Finding Deeper Spiritual Meaning in Our Uncertain World: Overview

Life is like riding a bicycle: to keep your balance you have to keep moving.

Albert Einstein

Darrell Yardley rephrase: “Spirituality is like riding a bicycle: to keep your balance you have to keep practicing.”

Spiritual practice is what keeps us moving on our spiritual journey. It is the rear wheel of the bicycle that powers our journey. The front wheel determines our direction, our path, and is the choices we make about our journey. The bike’s frame is the guiding principles and values that holds it all together and supports us. The pedals supply power to the back wheel and you supply your power to the pedals. The practice, the pedals, our power, keep us moving forward on our spiritual journey. The practice and guiding principles are what help us keep our balance in life.

Lose your balance and it’s splat! Like road kill–a mess on the highway. Maybe, road splat, is a better metaphor here. Because, like the cartoon character, Ziggy: you picks yourself up, dusts yourself off, check to see that nothing is broken or amiss, get back on your bike, and start pedaling again. If something is broken, you fix it, or get it fixed as in my recent post. Sometimes duct taping it has to do as a temporary fix.

The other day on my bicycle I had a spill when my bike locked down, and I couldn’t get my feet our of the pedal clips in time. Right in the middle of the road…and here came a car (see earlier blog). The lady driver stopped and offered assistance, but I was okay, embarrassed maybe, but okay. In this case, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and walked the bike back to the truck a block or so away when I realized the derailer was messed up. Back to my shop for repairs. Nope. I had a bent derailer but good, not sure how that happened. (Ended up taking the bike in to repair to R.E.I. the next day.)

Before I go further, let me be clear about what I mean by spirituality. I am defining spirituality as a combination of inner-peace and personal growth. As discussed at greater length in my new Guru book (above), you have to have both to grow spiritually.

Ultimately, spirituality is about spiritual practice, and spiritual growth is about keeping at and extending that practice. Our practice provides the movement that keeps us in spiritual balance and allows us to grow. Spiritual practice is what enables us to cultivate deeper spiritual connections–with ourselves, each other, nature and the universe–and stillness. Spiritual practice is really about cultivating stillness, not movement. In that, it is from our inner, mental stillness that movement, or growth, comes.


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Dinning Out and Landfills in a Coronavirus World

Wednesday, after spending a hot, sticky, muggy, mosquito-harassed day doing equine assisted psychotherapy at our boys school, Cherokee Creek Boys School, where we have been going now for some 14 years, I decided to splurge and pamper myself a little. I went out to my local favorite Tex-Mex place here in Liberty, SC. A cold draught beers (XX Amber), AC, and Tex-Mex. I keep forgetting all the changes that restaurants have had to make to be safe and stay in business.

To put things into perspective, pretty much living a life of a hermit and alone, and being a good cook anyway, I usually prefer my own cooking. I seldom went out to dine before the pandemic. After it hit, I have since only gone out a few times. This also has to do some with trying to live more frugally and eco-friendly in my hermit lifestyle tradition.

At the restaurant, I sat down in the cool, dimly lit booth area where I like to sit–away usually from the larger dinning area–ordered my beer. It quickly came. After a few sips, I placed my order, deciding to try a new dish they had on their menu instead of my usual. Several minutes and sips later, out came the waitress with my order. She placed on my table, a styrofoam to go container that contained my food and a plastic fork. I looked at the order is disdain and disgust. If I hadn’t been drinking the beer, I would have picked up my “take-out” order and taken it home to eat.

Okay, now another bit of important background here. Trying to live a more eco-responsible lifestyle, I have quit doing business with any cafe, restaurant, or fast food, that serves with plastic and styrofoam. Plastic and styrofoam go into the landfills and just set there. It takes hundreds of years for styrofoam to decompose. Plastic even longer. You can’t recycle styrofoam. Some plastic you can thankfully. Also, as styrofoam and plastic decompose, they release toxic compounds to the surroundings, air, and eventually, water table itself. So nasty stuff.

I carry my own take-home containers as I usually can’t or don’t want to finish whole meals when eating out. I take it home in my container, which is reusable. If I don’t want it, the dogs are always willing to do their share. I also carry in my man-bag flatware and stainless steel straws. I’ve done this for some time now, but the pandemic has made me even more conscientious about doing it. I carry a set in my truck and in my bicycle trailer, as I do face masks, and hand sterilizer.

Enters the coronavirus pandemic….


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Evolutionary Religious Naturalism

Backyard Buddha

This be me at this stage in my life, or as close as I can figure it, an evolutionary religious naturalist. I actually talk about this in my Guru book in more detail, but I woke up thinking about it this morning. What do I mean by evolutionary religious naturalism?

I used to say that I was a atheistic religious naturalist and that my spiritual practice was basically Zen Buddhism. Maybe it is just me, but “atheist” is a word with a lot of baggage, and I have never really felt comfortable with it. This is probably left over from my West Texas, fundamentalist, Bible Belt upbringing where the word “atheist” was on same plane as Satan. A descriptor I like better is nontheist as there is no the (God, supreme being, etc.) in my -ology.

Religious naturalism posits that nature is all there is. There is nothing beyond nature; nothing outside of nature. That means no omnipresent, omnipotent, super being out there above and outside of nature. Religious meaning is to be found in the natural world, not in some supernatural world. Moral and spiritual implications are derived from the nature and nature’s natural processes. A good overview of religious naturalism can be found in Jerome Wilson’s, Religious Naturalism: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative.

I add the term, evolutionary, to my description to emphasize the role I see of the evolutionary process in shaping our religious views starting with our primal Selfish Genes. Superimposed on these were our selfless, altruistic genes/DNA driven by group selection that made us such a successful social species. I cover this much more fuller in my Guru book. Then, superimposed on this was cultural evolution and the evolution of religious memes.


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