Good Posture, Good Food, and Lots of Good Coconuts

February 23, 2011

Dear Family,


Trying to open the kefir jar: “This lid is SO tight--it's frickin' JAMMED on!”

Standing outside on the boulder near the sandbox: “I'm the tip of the mountain! I'm gonna jump into the deep of the snow.”

Pondering the possibilities: “If I had extra arms, and cut off this [his head], I could carry it.”

Jem still worries about “rainbows,” mysterious entities that exist in the office and only ever come out to scare him when he's alone. Should I chase them away? I asked the other night. “Yes!” he said. Where are the rainbows exactly? “I don't know where,” he said unhelpfully. Well...I asked. What do they look like? And just a tiny bit condescendingly, he reminded me of the impossibility of his task: “They're invisible!”

Noting the enviable qualities of butter: “I wanna be able to melt and come back into a Jem again.”

Exhaling into the 8-degree morning temperature: “Mama! Did you see my smoke?”


In case you want to know what I've been spending a lot of time making lately, check out:…

This makes (among many, many possibilities) a fantastic sauce for fish and veggies, if you blend it with fresh cilantro and/or basil, salt and pepper, a tiny clove of fresh garlic, and a sauteed-then-cooled mixture of shallots/ginger/garlic/coconut oil.


Have not had a very inspirational couple of weeks for writing. GAPS issues have been challenging in a number of boring yet extremely time-consuming ways.

A couple of fun things we managed to do despite this:

--Dissected owl pellets in Claire's bird class. Ben was really, really, really excited about this. (Also, and noteworthy: we arrived ON TIME to said bird class for the first time all year.)

--Lived vicariously through Ruth and Athena, and Loren, who have arrived safely in, respectively, Barcelona and Guatemala. (In about five years, when we're all healed up and my gray hairs have all come in, we plan to travel too.)

--Sorted through and actually _ordered photo prints_ for the first time in two and a half years. Grandmas and Grandpas, just wait! You will soon have photographs of your baby grandchildren to show off before they reach their teenage years.

--Had numerous mealtime conversations that center upon the topic of The Diet. “Why did you used to think fat was bad?” Ben will begin. Soon comes the massively humbling question: “Why did you used to think it was bad to eat meat? ...Because it's SO good for you!!” And then, “Why do some people eat sugar and grain and lots of fruit...?” These dinnertime chats (which everyone knows will become the stuff of my kids' subconscious Memories From Childhood) are surreal and interesting and most definitely overwhelmed at times by me noticing how my son--formerly and quite possibly one of the pickiest eaters to ever live--can often concurrently talk and EAT. Ben now eats every vegetable he gets, every meat he's served (including heart and liver), tons of animal fat of every type, every fermented vegetable I can concoct, eggs sunny side up and poached, fermented coconut cream and coconut water, fermented cod liver oil, green juice, raw butter, and now--just beginning--raw dairy kefir. I am blown away every time I notice how, really often, he loves his food, even when it makes him gag thirty times per meal. It's also pretty incredibly rewarding to watch Jem shovel in this crazy-nutritious food. Just like the photo-printing--it's better late than never, right?


Maya and Darlene both told me that I just HAD to read this book: "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back," by Esther Gokhale. It is fantastic. Gokhale discusses the comfortable, elegant, and low-tech ways that people sit and stand and lie down all around the world--and how all of us uncomfortable, inflexible, in-pain Americans can, too, without any special equipment or physical therapy.

I know some of this stuff from pilates and dance, etc.--but the book is exhaustive, detailed, and includes tons of great photos. Kind of like a Posture How-To guide. I'm currently learning how to lie down on my side.

You may be skeptical, as I was, at first: “How can this help my back/neck/shoulder/arm pain? I've been sitting/standing/walking/lying down all of my life!” But that, Gokhale says, is part of the problem. Gradually worsening habits (combined with silly fashions in clothing and furniture) catch up with people over time, until they don't even realize the awkward ways they compensate for constant or chronic physical pain.

“In modern industrial societies, many families have become geographically dispersed, with couples raising their children far away from parents and grandparents. This has led to a break in cultural support and the handing down of kinesthetic tradition. By contrast, in tribal Africa, rural Portugal, village India, and other traditional societies, families are not dispersed and kinesthetic traditions remain intact. Though human beings share a fine blueprint for physical well-being, it takes cultural support, especially in the formative years, to pass body wisdom from one generation to the next. Cultural support comes in the form of grandparents showing parents how to carry their children, of teachers guiding their students to sit well in class, of children mimicking parents as they bend to gather food.

“Whereas certain cultural knowledge is easily transmitted by modern means of communication, kinesthetic knowledge needs physical proximity and repeated visual cueing. When the kinesthetic line is broken, we improvise each action rather than draw on the wisdom of thousands of generations.”

Fascinating. Makes total sense. And substitute “dietary” for “kinesthetic,” and you just might have a simplistic answer to a seemingly unrelated question that people ask me: Why GAPS?


That's it: an extraordinarily short missive. Thanks for reading. :)