These last few days have been mostly about connections - reconnecting with my cousin after 25 years, connecting with my sanity regarding the sublettor situation, connecting with my friend in Vegas who will join me on this trip for a bit, connecting with a super generous host who allowed me to use his extra laptop to catch up on blogging to connect you all you, and connecting with people at a few raw food meetups. I covered the first few in my previous Vegas posts, but would like to spend some time on the last two.
Michael Nelson, my CS host in Vegas, is an entrepreneur who owns numerous companies, including several with a philanthropic twist. The Nelson Foundation is an organization that focuses on promoting contributions to five specific areas: environment, education, social development, child welfare and animal welfare. It serves as a sort of charter organization that supports several other organizations, all of which are listed on their site. But it doesn't stop there - there's also CleanH2O, which is dedicated to bringing clean water to under-developed regions throughout the world; Feed Others, which believes the problem of world hunger (particularly chronic & persistent hunger) can be solved in our lifetime; and Humancha, a social website that supports charity fundraising petitions and ideas by building human chains and tribes of like-minded folks. Michael was kind enough to let me stay in one of the spare rooms in his loft for several days. He liked my Raw Autumn Granola so much he gave me $100 and told me to buy as many ingredients as that would cover so he could have a stockpile of it after I was gone. It felt nice to spend a morning making some delicious food, and it helped me reconnect with my need to be in the kitchen nourishing people through my creations. Michael was extremely generous with his space, offered me way more than I needed, and let me use his Macbook the entire time I was there so I could keep up on blog posts, event organizing and even e-file my taxes from the road. He was a huge help, and I am extremely grateful for having found such a generous host.
And on to the meetups, both of which were full of great energy and connections... There weren't a lot of people at our raw potluck brunch but I kind of like that sometimes. It gave everyone a chance to have a group conversation where everyone could join in instead of multiple side conversations, making for a nice intimate afternoon. We ended up lingering for a few hours after the event was supposed to end because the conversation was so intense and spirited. The event took place in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, amongst the jagged red peaks and a desert spring.
Dennis Raatz was one of the people to attend. He is writing a book that's mainly about form, space & "the unseen" and will cover topics such as living in harmony with the earth, how we use energy, living machines, and our need to stop playing with fire to produce things and seek out alternatives. He hopes to teach people to step into their power to live in accordance with their will and life force & is stiving to create a culture without fire and find more sustainable ways to manufacture things. Dennis was a raw foodist back in the 70s when he was a truck driver, and used the diet to maintain his energy and alertness while driving long distances. He eventually stopped eating raw for a few decades, and ironically enough, was working for some time as a pasteurizer, where he acquired a lot of knowledge about killing and destroying life force in food. He rediscovered raw several years ago and has experienced many benefits since, and it seems to have helped strengthen his desire to live in harmony with the land and deepen his involvement in renewable energy. He was kind enough to share his wealth of knowledge with us.
He also blessed us with the most delicious Thai Nori Snacks and shared the recipe with me:
2c sunflower seeds soaked 10-12 hrs 2 Tbsp lemon juice 3 Tbsp raisins soaked 2-4 hrs or 3 dates pitted 1 ½ Tbsp ginger chopped 1 Tbsp garlic T lemon grass chopped (opt.) T curry powder T Celtic salt ½ t cayenne (opt.) 10 sheets raw nori
In a food processor, blend all ingredients, except the nori sheets, until smooth. Continue by laying out a sheet of nori, spreading an even ¼ inch layer of pate to the edges. Sandwich with another nori sheet, slice 6x6 and put on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 105 for 10-12 hrs. Will keep for several months in sealed container.
Then there was Robert Westhoff, who brought enough food to feed an army. ;) It was all amazing...cucumber salad, a delicious soup, and the corn salad pictured at the beginning of this post.
Robert is an accountant who previously worked for a chemical company. In addition to his delicious food, he also shared some wonderful stories. One was about his doctor friend who was studying disease instead of health. He was good at his craft, but knew nothing about health and the conversation reminded me of this great Macrus Buckingham quote about how studying depression tells you nothing about joy. It was also great for me to hear about methods for shading homegrown veggies in the hot Nevada desert, because living in Northern California, it's not a challenge I have had to face, and I'm trying to learn about growing conditions in different climates.
We all had such a great time talking about a multitude of topics outside raw foods, and had a nice lively debate about energy and how fast the world was changing, that we decided to meet at the same place in 10 years to see if any of our predictions would come true. I know I'll be curious to see if I have a lightning farm to harvest natural glass to make my own bowls, plates and cups by then. So if anyone wants to join us in 2019, we'll be meeting at the picnic area in Red Rock Canyon on Saturday, February 23rd at 1pm. I'm looking forward to it. :)
The following night, we went to a potluck at Dixie & Ted Story's place in Vegas. Dixie and Ted are two of the sweetest people I have ever met. Dixie has been a home birth midwife for almost 30 years, and has helped bring over 500 babies into the world. She's worked with various forms of healing, and has almost a decade of experience with raw foods. Even though she and Ted have been on this journey for awhile, they've just begun facing some of the deeper-rooted emotional issues that can become tightly linked to eating, and it was great hearing them discuss their personal journeys of growth and discovery so openly. I think the ultimate goal of all of us is to have a healthy relationship with food, which can change for everyone throughout their lives. While 100% raw can feel great for some, it's not for everyone all the time, and I think being too strict and dogmatic about any one thing can be even more unhealthy than eating the occasional cooked meal. Even within raw, what one eats changes so often as your body shifts and progresses. For me, I'm currently at a place where I make fruit smoothies in the morning, and eat mostly greens throughout the rest of the day in juice, smoothie & salad form. I still eat the occasional nut-based raw restaurant dish, but it's nothing like how I ate when first transitioning. As your diet evolves, so does your body, and listening to it is the best thing you can do to achieve optimum wellness.
I also got the chance to spend some time talking to Poly Arcos, owner of Arcos Design, about art, sustainability, the challenge of obtaining healthy food in Vegas, thyroid issues, and having a relationship with someone who doesn't share the same dietary beliefs. It was great hearing her good humoured accounts of her boyfriend and how they support each other even though they think what the other is into is kind of crazy. They are able to accept it and be supportive and agree to disagree. I personally find healthy eating sexier, and find myself turned off by guys who eat tons of meat & junk, but am glad to see other people make it work and have a healthy relationship despite their differences. It makes me think maybe the dating pool hasn't shrunk as small as I'd thought.
A few other highlights were the amazing raw garlic bread Steve Pavlina made from Juliano's recipe, the positive Czech enthusiasm of George, the kind offer of Ashleigh to connect me with some folks in Oklahoma, a delightful Aussie, and the abundance of dishes Darlene brought after the photoshoot for her latest book. We feasted on Spicy Sweet Peppers, Mexican Pilaf, Au Lac Salad, Zucchini Pesto, Banana Cream Pie and a ton of salads, dips, crackers and good vibes. Thank you everyone, for sharing your creations and filling my evening with love.