Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for visiting my blog!

I give very thorough advice in my books, lectures and consultations, but I encounter new feng shui problems all the time. Here, I’ll be sharing new solutions I come across and answering questions you might have.

If you have a question that you can’t find the answer to (please use the search box at the bottom of this page to see if I’ve covered the subject before), leave a comment here and I’ll consider writing a future blog post about it.

Feng Shui & Fermentation (Part 2)

My copy of this book is well used. The rejuvelac info is on pages 105 & 106.

I like simplicity. The kind of food fermentation that I do is the very simplest kind that I know of. I make rejuvelac, using whole rye (called rye berries) and water—that’s it—nature does the rest in 48 hours. I then continue to pour off fresh batches of rejuvelac for the next two days. Cheap and easy—who could ask for anything more? Flavor—that’s something that many people ask for in a food, but you may not get that with rejuvelac. When it’s well made, it tastes like sauerkraut juice—and you either like that or you don’t. And if you don’t, you may have made a bad batch, and you might want to try again. The temperature that you make rejuvelac at will affect how long you let it sit and wait. The colder it is, the longer it will take to make a batch of rejuvelac.

My recipe for making rejuvelac is my own, but it’s based on the recipe on page 7 of Ann Wigmore’s 1978 classic book, Recipes for Longer Life. She invented rejuvelac and here’s where she has a very extensive and detailed description of how to make it and why. I also have her later book, The Wheatgrass Book, and it too has a nice section on pages 105 and 106 on making rejuvelac.

Here’s my version of rejuvelac:

Here’s how rejuvelac starts out. I’ll lightly cover over the sprout screen with a small piece of paper to keep dust out.

Into a quart jar, I pour one cup of whole organic rye berries (you could also use various grains, such as wheat berries) and then I add pure water (you definitely want to remove the chlorine from water for making rejuvelac and you can do that simply by letting potable tap water sit for at least thirty minutes before using it) until it’s about a half inch from the top of the jar. I put a sprout jar lid on the jar and let it sit (lightly covered because you want air to be able to pass, but not dust) for 48 hours—at which time you pour off the liquid (your rejuvelac!) into a clean container, and add fresh water to the rye berries. Twenty-four hours later, repeat the process. Do the same thing again 24 hours later. (At that point, many people put the old rye berries in the compost, but my husband makes a stir fry out of them with onions and other vegetables. He boils and pours off the liquid from the rye at least once before using them in the stir fry.) Freshly poured-off rejuvelac may be stored at room temperature as long as it is consumed within twelve hours. Any remaining rejuvelac can be refrigerated. It will keep for a week in the fridge.

When I’m making batches of rejuvelac, the house feels a bit different to me—there’s fermented food forming and my own timing and actions are part of the deal. I’m balancing yin and yang in my own kitchen (pantry actually, we’re quite thankful to have a pantry—that’s where the fridge is, so we can close the pantry door and it’s super quiet in the rest of the house).

Feng Shui & Fermentation (Part 1)

Here’s my husband, Steve, pouring the inoculated milk into quart jars to ferment and make yogurt.

Some things don’t easily fit themselves into yin/yang categorization. Being a Libra/Rabbit and gay, I have no problem with that. The Universe is a complicated place and anything involving yin and yang is relative. Fermentation is yin and yang at the same time. If you do it wrong—it’s totally yin and rotten. If you do it right, it’s heavenly yang and delicious, nutritious food. My husband makes yogurt—big batches, that go into the fridge or are given as gifts.

Here are six quarts of inoculated milk that will become yogurt in about five hours. The lid will go on the big, warm water container and a blanket will be wrapped around it for insulation.

I don’t do too well with most dairy products (occasional goat butter being the exception) so I make a fermented grain drink that’s rich in lactic acid, called rejuvelac (which is not my favorite invented word—I would have called it rejuvelactic, just to avoid the ambiguity that it has might have something to do with being a laxative, which it’s not). I’ll share my personal recipe for rejuvelac in Part 2 of this two-part blog post. It’s about as simple as it gets for fermented foods.

During a yin hunkering-down time, it’s a good time to establish (and reinforce) good food habits.  Adding the yang of home-fermented foods to your diet is good for you and the feng shui of your home. The habit of using your home to make fermented foods is the part that’s good for your home. The part that’s good for you is the final product—yum.

This is THE BEST book on the subject!

The best book on fermenting is The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz (who taught a fabulous workshop here in Kona that I attended a few years ago). I recommend adding it to your home library. It’s a big book and it covers almost everything there is to know on the subject.

How I’m Dealing With The Pandemic

That’s me in 1988 up a kukui tree in Kona. I still climb trees every day. Photo by Teddi Stranski.

When the virus first got in the news, I heard the phrase “two years” and (being me) I knew to latch onto that—so that I wouldn’t have a bunch of false hopes and disappointments. It’s my nature to immediately go, in my mind, to worst case scenarios. It’s my way of preserving my sanity.

Being gay and having lived through the devastation of AIDS, when almost all my very best friends died—I take viruses very seriously. My last on-site consultation was in Hilo on March 22 and I told the client that it was going to be my last on-site consultation until the pandemic was over. With Social Security, we’ll make it.

I’m actually managing just fine. I told Steve, my husband, that I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life for this sort of thing—what with my mindfulness & meditation practices, and my instinct to always have a huge food garden, and now having a loving friend in Steve.

Here I am today, thirty-two years later, up a schefflera tree that is leaning into Christmasberry trees. It’s super-easy to climb, but still great fun to be up in a tree. Photo by Steve Mann.

Steve said the isolation would probably eventually get to him, but I said it didn’t feel like isolation to me. We’ve got electricity, running water, phone, computer, a very nice, comparatively spacious home, three acres (of mostly woods) to wander around in (I climb trees every day), and massive numbers of books to read. Very often in my life, I’ve had almost none of those—just a shelter in the woods a mile down a trail from the nearest gravel road—and all alone. We don’t have poisonous snakes, tornadoes, chiggers, ticks, Lyme Disease, West Nile—we’ve got a lot to be grateful for. (We are, however, living on a very active volcano which is overdue and showing lots of signs of an impending eruption.) Having been a Zen monk, I pretty much don’t take anything for granted.

We spend our time gardening together and we’re blessed that our climate lets us do that year round. I asked Steve a couple of days ago if these were some of the happiest days of his life, and he immediately answered “Yes”.

Feng Shui & Apartment Living—Hunkering Down

The internet seems to be clogged with people telling each other what to do while they’re stuck at home. Some say “stay productive” while others say “entertain yourself to death.” I tend to take the middle way—some of this, some of that. But the main thing is to be kind to others. If you’re stuck with other people, say kind things to them, and (if appropriate) massage them. If you’re home alone—don’t forget the old-fashioned voice telephone. It’s very reassuring to actually hear someone’s voice.

Since hunkering-down is a very yin thing, it’s good to balance it with yang activity. Plants that are growing are yang, and tending to them is a good way to pass the time.

People who are in free-standing homes with yards should plant massive gardens where there is good sunlight. But what if you’re in an apartment or condo? Houseplants are common, but edible houseplants are not. Many people don’t realize that they could easily grow their own food, namely sprouts. (Alfalfa and lentil sprouts are my favorites—that’s green lentils, not red lentils.) There’s also sunflower seed greens and buckwheat greens—all quick and easy. The instructions for growing sprouts and greens are quickly accessible on the internet, so I won’t do into the details of how to grow them.

Sprouts and indoor greens were first popularized by Ann Wigmore (and I’m thrilled to say I met her), and her student, Viktoras Kulvinskas, came out with his first book, Love Your Body, in 1972—the year after my first bookstore opened. The subtitle is complete organic diet on 8¢ or less per day. There been some inflation since then, but it’s still the cheapest way to eat a good diet. He later wrote the tome, Survival Into the 21st Century, which has been updated as Survival In the 21st Century. In 1977, Marcia Acciardo brought out her remarkable book, Light Eating for Survival, with a joyous Peter Max cover illustration. Note the word “survival” shows up a lot in these titles.

Moving beyond survival into thriving means staying active, and that’s easier said than done in an apartment. Bouncing is a very yang activity and doesn’t require a lot of space. I recommend mini-trampolines, which I just call bouncers. I use a jump rope with mine, but unless your home has a high ceiling, I wouldn’t try that. When I lived in an apartment in San Francisco, I used to put Dixieland gospel music on the record player and then bounce my way through several songs. It doesn’t get better than the Clara Ward Singers with the Dukes of Dixieland for this purpose.

Stay well!

Feng Shui & the Economy

Businesses and services that people don’t see as essential are prone to do poorly during economic downturns. If that’s your situation, my advice is to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
I was recently contacted by a Hawaii client whose livelihood depends mostly on tourists. Here’s part of what she said. “Now, since feb Im dealing with a really low income season (im really worried to be like this another month or so bcs I wont be able to pay the bills). Hawaii tourism income is going down…roads here are so empty, no Korean or Chinese tour buses on the road this days.”

I had consulted for her in-person, and I knew that her Wealth Corner was properly enhanced. So here’s what I told her:

Vegetables don’t care about the economy and they certainly are essential! You’d do well to cultivate a vegetable garden. I took this photo of ours. We’ve had LOTS of time to work on it lately. The plant with the big leaves is collards. In Hawaii, they will continue producing for decades, and they’re easier to harvest than kale (since the leaves are up off the ground).

The virus is changing everything for everybody, whether they get it or not. People are not traveling, nor spending money. We don’t know how long it’s going to last or how bad it will get. Feng shui can’t change that. I was taught that there are times when a larger stream of karma sweeps through society—a societal karma that is so large that individual karma doesn’t have much of a chance to be expressed. We, who don’t have “regular” jobs, are likely to be the most affected. Every day that passes, more people’s travel plans are being cancelled. This all sounds very discouraging I know, and the best advice I can offer is to make plans for a worst-case scenario. It’s astonishing to see something like this happening. I’m not one of those people who thinks all things happen for a reason—sometimes wild, goofy stuff happens. But—we are creative people—we have that as a resource—our creativity.

My advice to my client was to do these three things in this order:

  • Declutter
  • Clean
  • Neaten

Look around your place and see if there are things that don’t really serve you anymore—things you can let go of. Having less “stuff” helps with stagnation.

Clean those screens! Windows represent your eyes, and should always been kept clean and clear. It helps you figure out what to do.

If you haven’t done it lately—clean your windows and screens. It helps in figuring out what to do—seeing clearly. Especially clean your windows, since they represent your eyes. Jeff Campbell gives the best advice for cleaning windows in his book, Spring Cleaning. I’ve praised it in a previous post. His previous book, Speed Cleaning, is the ideal guide to quick, complete, regular cleaning.

If you haven’t enhanced your Wealth Corner, please see my thorough and detailed suggestions in Feng Shui for Love & Money.

And here’s a practical tip: If you have a sunny yard, convert it to vegetables. My advice about vegetable gardens is found on pages 160 through 163 in Feng Shui for Hawaii Gardens, and it applies to gardens anywhere. “They are auspicious anywhere, and the bigger the better. Situate them for the best sun. (Ours is in our front yard.)” I also say “Food is beautiful—be proud of it.”