Category Archives: Home and Garden

A Warning to Vegan Converts

Worried 002 I am reading (actually, listening to) Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked.  Am I enjoying it?  Well, yes and no.  “Yes,” to the expanding of my foodview (I think this is a new word I’ve invented but not yet patented…so use it without charge) but “no” to my vegan commitment.  Halfway through the book I have learned so much about what it means to actually cook my own food.

            We do a lot of cooking around my house.  My wife is a gourmet-quality cook.  She loves to make tried and true recipes and to try new recipes.  Alas, she is in poor health and I have taken over a lot of culinary responsibilities.  So, I was very interested in what one of my favorite authors had to say about the subject.  As with all Mr. Pollan’s books, I am enlightened, inspired and encouraged to keep the culinary faith.

            I became a vegan after doing a lot of research about what clogs up the circulatory system of Americans.  (You may know that heart attacks are the leading cause of death for those who eat the American way.)  I found that I have a lot of plaque in my veins and arteries and decided to look into ways to reverse the condition.  That led me to begin eating a no-fat (or very low fat) plant-based diet.  It is satisfying, inexpensive and delicious.  But, you see, I am a convert to this way of eating from the vein and artery-clogging omnivorous way I have eaten for decades.  That means that my mouth still waters at visions of various forms of meat.  I am eating the no-fat plant-based way for health reasons only. 

            If you fall into my category, it means you retain strong memories of succulent sausages, bacon, steaks, barbeque ribs, lamb chops, roasts, etc.  After listening to the first part of Mr. Pollan’s book, I wanted nothing more than to find a whole-hog barbecue joint and chow-down.  I wanted to find me some good Texas brisket or cabrito and, fat dripping from my chin, enter into a kind of carnivore nirvana.  Be warned: Michael, a committed omnivore, will make you think twice about, well…sinning.

            I am happy to report that I have righteously remained vegan…so far.  One day at a time.  We all have to die of something but I would like to be as healthy as possible and then, when my time comes peacefully, painlessly drop dead.  At my age, departure is not too far off and I could say I prefer to leave this life with fried chicken in stomach.  But, since I am already noticing some benefits of veganism, I think I will continue with the oats, peas, beans and barley…etc.

            My garden will help.  In spite of the funky weather and bad knees, I am steadily getting things planted.  I look forward to harvesting baskets of summer fruit.

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Filed under American Diet, Book Review, Book Reviews, Cardiovascular Concerns, Diet, Food, Heart, Home and Garden, Vegan, Veganism, Vegetable Gardening

From Committed Carnivore to Voracious Vegan

When you have open heart surgery (better known as the open chest surgery) they insert an instrument in an artery that is super accurate in measuring blood pressure.  After my surgery they told me that they had trouble trying to use my wrist because of the plaque buildup.  So they had to go elsewhere to find an artery to use.  I concluded from that bit of bad news that, in addition to the blockages they were bypassing, I have plaque buildup in all my circulatory system.  My brother-in-law had mentioned a book to me (see below) that I might be interested in.  I got it, read it, and realized that I might have avoided surgery all together if I had read it earlier.  Now, following further research, I have cut out all meat and dairy products.

So, my vegetable garden has become a lot more important since I became a vegetarian (actually a “no-fat vegan”).  I expect the garden will become my primary source of food.  In the meantime the produce department of the grocery stores has become the most important section.

We are fortunate also to have two sources of organically grown vegetables in Abilene and a three-times-weekly farmer’s market (mostly offering non-organic produce).

Why did I become a vegetarian?  Well, it certainly was not because killing animals and eating their meat disgusts me.  It was not because I came to the conclusion that eating only vegetables would save the planet (even though there may be some truth in that).  My mouth still waters at the thought of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, steak, pork ribs, fish, seafood, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, barbeque and meat in general.  I love all kinds of cheese and other dairy products.  No one could love those delicacies more than me.  It took some powerful scientific facts to shift me from a carnivore to a herbivore.

If I had the power, I would command everyone to immediately read two books: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D.  The China Study is billed as “The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.”  It is informative, disturbing and hopeful.  I say, without reservation, it can save your life.  In addition I would require everyone to watch the videos Forks over Knives and PlaneatAfter that, if you still want to eat meat and dairy, that’s your choice.  My goal is to educate.  If, in that process, you are converted then praise the Lord!

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Filed under Diet, Food, Health Care, Heart, Home and Garden, Organic, Vegan, Vegetable Gardening

The Grassroots Imperative

Big “agribusiness” is not about to change its ways.  They are greedy profit-driven monsters with enough lobbyists in Washington and courtroom lawyers to keep the government and the courts off their backs.  They are big bullies that are too powerful to defeat.

Just think about it.  To put these bullies in their place would require equal justice in the courts and a majority of ethical senators and representatives.  Don’t hold your breath!

So, what’s left?  Only ourselves and our small farms and backyard gardens.  We must start growing as much of our own food as possible.  Take out those lawns and put in fruits and vegetables.  Get some chickens for eggs and maybe some meat and, if you have room, a milk cow or goat.  Get the rest from local farmers and organic food stores.

If you can’t defeat them, desert them.

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Filed under Awareness, Courage, Culture Wars, Current Events, Economics, Food, Freedom, Good & Evil, Home and Garden, independence, Initiative, Integrity, Organic, Politics, Vegetable Gardening

From Waterbed to Website

As readers of this blog will remember, someone stacked a pile of junk lumber in front of my shop.  In case you missed it, you can see it here.  All of it is destined for the fireplace or, in the case of the plywood, fiberboard, chipboard etc., the garbage.  That is, all of it except one board, which knew a former life as a frame for a waterbed.  It was pretty thick, crack-less and with only two knots.  So, I decided to do something with it.

I wanted a unique header for my refurbished gardening blog: “West Texas Gardener” and, since I am a woodcarver, I decided a hand-carved sign might be nice.  So, I set to work cutting the blank, sanding, routing, applying polyurethane, masking, applying the pattern, carving, staining the incised letters and, finally, outlining the letters to make them stand out.

As I carved, I remembered why I hate carving regular pine (as opposed to sugarpine which carves quite nicely).  It is an unpredictable wood, often brittle, and will sometimes “shred” under the sharpest of tools.  The knots are almost impossible to carve without them crumbling like a cookie.  But, I eventually finished the process, photographed it for my garden site, and I hope you like the result.

Another photo taken in the shop on the easel

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Filed under Blogs & Blogging, Carving, Home and Garden, Signs, Vegetable Gardening, Whitsett News, Woodcarving

The Dirt on Soil

Scene: Produce section of our local grocery store in their tiny “organic” section.  A middle-aged man and woman are having a conversation my wife overhears.

He: “What the h**l does ‘organic’ mean?”

She: “It means it grows in the soil.”

When Brenda related this conversation to me I laughed at first.  Then I thought, “They don’t know what ‘organic’ means?  At their age?  Do they live in a cave somewhere?”  If this kind of ignorance exists in our media-saturated age, then I’m afraid the organic food movement has a long way to go.

Here’s the dirt on “soil.”  It may be fumigated with fungicides and “fertilized” with chemicals made from petroleum.  That strawberry you are about to put on your cereal may have been grown in “soil,” but it may also be genetically altered and sprayed with potentially carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides.  That tomato you are about to slice may have been grown in “soil” but what was done to the soil it grew in?  What was done to it while it was growing?  How was it handled after it was harvested?  Until you know, do you really want to put that in your mouth?

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Filed under Awareness, Food, Home and Garden, Ignorance, Organic, Vegetable Gardening

Gone to Winter

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog (and who, in their right mind, would not be?) you may have noticed a dearth (shortage) of postings. So, knowing that many, many people are wondering where I am, I feel called upon to inform both of you.

At the moment, I am in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Yes…the land down under. I left the Northern Hemisphere Summer for the Southern Hemisphere Winter. Australia is my “other country,” to which I make yearly trips. I lived here once and fell in love with the people and the land. So, it is a pleasure to return each year to visit friends and churches, do some teaching & preaching, eat Aussie tucker (food) and hear the birds sing. So far I have been to Sydney, Dungog, Maitland, Newcastle and Parramatta. In few days I will head back to Sydney, then Adelaide, then New Zealand and back to Sydney.

I left behind my beautiful wife, Charamon, the Charamon Garden and loving family for a seven-week sojourn. Preparation took a lot of time and precedence over blogging. Getting the garden ready to leave in the capable hands of my family took additional time.

A phone call to my son, Tim, reassured me that all goes and grows well back in the garden. A phone call to my parents (90 year-old father, 88 year-old mother) says they are doing OK (at those ages, good days are treasures) and a phone call to my wife assures me that she still loves me and is missing me. Well, the feeling is very much mutual!

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Filed under Australia, Blogs & Blogging, Home and Garden, Love and Marriage, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, South Pacific, Vegetable Gardening

I Believe in Bondo


bondo.jpg I really dig this stuff.

I’ve been using it or something like it for decades, starting in Australia with a similar product. In Adelaide (really, Para Hills) I lived in a double-brick house with the interior walls rendered in plaster over mortar (no straight walls!) and used it to fill holes to put screws in when attaching something to the wall. Just drill the hole, blow the dust out, fill with Bondo or something similar, wait for it to set-up a bit, then screw those suckers in.

Later on, in the sign business (hand-carved and sandblasted wooden signs) I used it to correct defects, mistakes (you can carve it with woodcarving tools) and for installations. You can sand it, prime it and paint it.

Today, I am using it to repair closet doors. We live in an old house and the Continue reading

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Filed under Home and Garden, Random Thoughts, Whitsett News