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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Will Codex and the Drug Companies Raid the Spice Rack to Steal Your Eyesight? By Kat Carroll, Associate Editor, National Health Federation

I want to invite you to follow one of my other blogs at for those of you interested in eye health, naturally. This blog has breaking news that will save someone's eyesight so excuse the departure from what is normally published on this blog, but it is just too important not to share.  Be well!

Culinary Indian spices are rising superheroes of the nutritional World. When most of us were growing up, these spices were not a regular part of many of our diets.  Today, though, they are commonly available high-profile healers of the highest order. But if history repeats itself, we can anticipate a raid on powerful molecules found in your spice rack, turning them into drugs available only by prescription or subject to unnecessary regulation. This is one of the reasons the National Health Federation (NHF) opposes Senator Dick Durbin’s Dietary Supplement Act – in this case, to protect manufacturers who encapsulate spices in therapeutic formulations designed to heal serious eye disease and more. As Codex Alimentarius has decided to add a new committee to its roster with the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) in February 2014, the potential for unnecessary regulatory control has NHF concerned.

Curcumin is the main curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is currently enjoying exalted status as a true panacea for modern-day ills as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor spice.  Zeaxanthin-rich saffron, the most expensive of spices at $500 a pound, is a proven star in both the Eastern and Western healing traditions for treating macular degeneration. It takes nearly 150 flowers to produce a single gram of dried saffron threads.[1] Even ordinary rosemary is being touted as one of the healing modalities for the potentially blinding diseases of macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

Several studies of these spices have shown their effective use in the potentially blinding diseases macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and cataract development as well. In a December 2013 study, “Curcumin: Therapeutical Potential in Ophthalmology,”[2] curcumin proved itself effective against several ocular diseases, such as chronic anterior uveitis, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and dry eye syndrome.Unfortunately, because of its low solubility and oral bioavailability, the biomedical potential of curcumin is not easy to exploit; for this reason more attention has been given to nanoparticles and liposomes, which are able to improve curcumin's bioavailability. Pharmacologically, curcumin does not show any dose-limiting toxicity when it is administered at doses of up to 8 g/day for three months.”  Black pepper and lecithin also improve bioavailability.

 But to truly impact absorption of the healing spices and creating a remedial response, restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract which is potentially the greatest source of inflammation in the body. Microbial imbalance leads to increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and impaired immune response and more—which are foundational to potentially blinding eye diseases. A January 2014 study in Cell[3] researched life extension and the diseases related to age-related changes in the gut flora. When bacteria in the gut are in balance, not only is one’s life span extended, but the diseases common to the elderly decrease, leading to a higher quality of life.

From tumors and cancer to cataracts there is little turmeric cannot heal. Speaking with an Indian delegate to Codex recently, a food scientist from the Spices Board, she said that even a poultice made of turmeric and applied overnight would resolve most ulcers and abscesses on the body. Many East Indians eat pickled turmeric daily; NHF wants to ensure that it remains available as a nutritional supplement for those who don’t eat it daily as a part of their dietary pattern.

In another study from PubMed republished on GreenMedInfo’s database in 2008, diabetes was induced in rats but the subsequently administered curcumin-and-turmeric treatment appeared to have countered the hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress.[4] Blindness is a complication of diabetes. Curcumin will make an effective addition to a diabetic protocol on several counts.

In the July 2012 issue of Evidence Based Complementary Medicine, a longitudinal follow-up study of saffron supplementation in early, age-related macular degeneration reported sustained benefits to central retinal function.[5] Lastly, lowly rosemary comes to the forefront in retinal protection[6] in macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, which has no known therapeutic treatments, so this is exciting indeed.

If you don’t think the drug companies are anxious to swoop in and snatch up these ancient spices and herbs to patent them out of your reach, just look at how GlaxoSmithKline reacted in 2010 when resveratrol’s incredible healing powers were rising and its impact on multiple myeloma was creating excitement for the next super-drug.[7] Observing the incredible potential of resveratrol, GlaxoSmithKline pursued this molecule, skewing its molecular structure in order to patent what was being touted as a “poly-pill” capable of curing anything. What they most likely did not factor in was dose-dependency and ended a trial when their presumably high dose created kidney failure; they may very well have missed their aim of patenting a natural substance that still holds its place well, impacting an important cross section of diseases. But the pharmaceutical model stands as a threat to health and health freedom today as common spices are exhibiting radical healing potential on their own without the structural skewing and we have access to them directly and much more cheaply due in large part to NHF’s protective stance in regards to nutritional supplements at Codex.

 It puts NHF on high alert when Codex Alimentarius decides to insinuate itself into your kitchen spice rack by adding a new Codex committee meeting in India in February 2014.[8] According to Sanjay Dave, Codex Chairman, the first meeting will be to frame strategies for quality of culinary spices and promote harmonization to facilitate World trade.  As far as the spice quality is concerned, that deals with issues like physical characteristics, uniformity in color, size, appearance, and packaging, which come under quality parameters.

Safety parameters in spices focus on pesticide residues, mycotoxin contamination, microbiological such as Salmonella, E. coli, and other contamination that is harmful to health. When these issues arise in relation to quality regulation, which again is simply addressing color, size, appearance, and packaging, they will be referred to the appropriate Codex committee responsible for them, such as the Food Labelling, Food Additives, Food Hygiene, Pesticide Residues, Contaminants, and so on, most of which the National Health Federation participates in. This initial Codex committee meeting on Culinary Spices will begin the tedious process of sorting every culinary herb into monitoring pathways handled by appropriate Codex committees on all of the issues from quality to safety. For example, the Pesticide Residue Codex Committee will determine appropriate parts per million or maximum upper limits of pesticide residues which will be adopted globally for purposes of creating harmonization in World Trade when that particular spice is exported.

According to the Spices Board of India, countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Netherlands have laid down cleanliness specification for spices.  The European Spice Association (ESA), comprising members of the European Union, has come out with the "quality minima for herbs and spices." This serves as a guideline with specifications for member countries in European Union. The European Union has yet to finalize the cleanliness specification for spices and spice products.[9] It is too bad this governing body was not able to achieve a clean, relatively standardized export product without Codex involvement. So while there are some decidedly good aspects to Codex’s goal of harmonization by promoting the assurance that imported spices are clean and free from contaminants, where spices are concerned that have been proven in scientific research to heal many diseases, of the eyes in particular, NHF sees a pathway directly from the kitchen spice rack right to the revolving door of the Pharmaceutical industry in the hopes of patenting these healing spices. This will reduce the power of the average person to control their own health by using these spices for treating disease as World trade and the potential for profits and increased regulatory control at the expense of health reigns supreme.

The threat is not only drug companies lobbying to regulate common, but powerfully healing, kitchen spices but irradiation is an issue as well, which lowers the nutritional content of foods. India is having a problem currently with a lack of integrity in the cleanliness of their spices. Like China, once you gain a reputation for releasing impure product in world trade, you are forever suspect. They are wise to adopt standards and guidelines in many respects if they wish to increase their economy by trading globally. This could have been achieved apart from Codex, however, and should have been achieved nationally. But they have adopted this course and the National Health Federation intends to have a say in how it’s managed as we see the potential pitfalls and loss of control of healing spices currently labeled “culinary.”

Perhaps the most important part of the Indian spice issue is just what happened when GlaxoSmithKline tried to get a patent on resveratrol for use in diabetics. This action threatened to take a valuable healing tool out of the reach of the consumer and leave drug companies and doctors in full control of access and availability. The same could happen with the developing spice market being so effective in healing potentially blinding eye disease with curcumin, turmeric, saffron, and rosemary being potentially regulated as drugs. If NHF can stave it off, so much the better for us all who feel our eyesight is too precious to brook the interference of excessive and unnecessary regulation. NHF appreciates your support ( as we attend many Codex meetings in 2014 to protect you and your family.

(c) 2014 Katherine A. Carroll

[1]  See “Saffron Stamens” page on Mountain Rose Herbs website:, accessed on December 27, 2013.
[2] Pescosolido NGiannotti RPlateroti AMPascarella ANebbioso M, Curcumin: Therapeutical Potential in Ophthalmology, ” Planta Med., 2013 Dec 9.

[3] “PGRP-SC2 Promotes Gut Immune Homeostasis to Limit Commensal Dysbiosis and Extend Lifespan” ; publishing January 12, 2014 in Cell

[4]  Suryanarayana PSaraswat MMrudula TKrishna TPKrishnaswamy KReddy GB,   National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR), Hyderabad, India, “Curcumin and turmeric delay streptozotocin-induced diabetic cataract in rats,” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci., 2005 Jun;46(6):2092-9.
[5] Piccardi M, Marangoni D, Minnella AM, Savastano MC, Valentini P, Ambrosio L, Capoluongo E, Maccarone R, Bisti S, Falsini B, “A longitudinal follow-up study of saffron supplementation in early age-related macular degeneration: sustained benefits to central retinal function,” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2012;2012:429124. doi: 10.1155/2012/429124. Epub 2012 Jul 18.                                                                                                         
[6] Tayebeh Rezaie1, Scott R. McKercher1, Kunio Kosaka2, Masaaki Seki1, Larry Wheeler3, Veena Viswanath3, Teresa Chun3, Rabina Joshi1, Marcos Valencia1, Shunsuke Sasaki4, Terumasa Tozawa4, Takumi Satoh1,4 and Stuart A. Lipton1, “Protective Effect of Carnosic Acid, a Pro-Electrophilic Compound, in Models of Oxidative Stress and Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., November 27, 2012 vol. 53 no. 12 7847-7854, Published online before print October 18, 2012, doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10793.                                                  
[7]Allan Haberman , “GlaxoSmithKline Stops Development Of Resveratrol Drug SRT501,” Haberman Associates
Consulting for Effective Life Science R&D and Partnering Blog, December 1, 2010.                                           
[8] See“Uniform standards would help improve trade in spices,”, accessed Monday, October 07, 2013.
[9] See “Quality Specifications,” on Indian Spice Board website at:          

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Hike on the way to Comet Falls Near Mt. Rainier and an Understanding of True Gratitude by Kat Carroll

Thanksgiving Day Hike on the way to Comet Falls Near Mt. Rainier and an Understanding of True Gratitude

By Kat Carroll


Adytum Sanctuary guests all want to know about great hikes, nearby. Comet Falls, on the drive in to Mt. Rainier, is just that. In years past, before our optometry offices (Medical Vision Center and Martin Way Vision Center) were intense and busy, we’d take off in the early afternoon heading east from Morton the 45 minutes to reach Mt. Rainier to hike Paradise; and a true Paradise it is. Oftentimes we settled for hiking on the way to Comet Falls and perhaps see spectacular Narada Falls too instead of driving the distance to Paradise. There’s always something to see in the Pacific Northwest where Paradise, with its elevation at the 5400 feet level, sees an average of 126 inches of rain fall annually creating stunning waterfalls where you’d never expect them- many along the scenic drive in.

The Comet Falls hike engages immediately with natural stone forming steps, interlacing with the roots of ancient trees emerging on the surface to provide a foothold as well. Pathways can be so seductive, beckoning us on with the hopes of capturing the essence and thunderous force of a waterfall where we’d least expect to find one.

Walking among the company of old friends, The Ancients- Fir primarily, we forget cities, burdens, work, cares, and we are One with the Earth again as though we’d laid on its surface to soak in its energy and ground ourselves to Reality once more. This is Reality. Cities and schedules come and go. This is Life and it nurtures our spirits this Thanksgiving day.

Truly I can think of few more pleasurable ways to spend a holiday…I only wish my family were with me today as we make our way up the gentle rise toward the Falls. Thanksgivings are casualties of divorce and this one allowed my children to spend time with their father and some to serve others in working on this day of gratitude. But it was okay. I just wanted them to experience Life apart from what Thanksgiving has become in too many cases, not necessarily this one: Turkey, hard work for the women in the family, and football.

Nature naturally inspires gratitude. It is also an invitation to exist in the moment whether it entices us on a gentle upward rise toward beauty or engages fully as man summits a peak fighting forces of nature and his own exhaustion. To celebrate Thanksgiving in the mountains is the perfect way for me, today, to gain perspective.

What emerged was an intense gratitude not so much for the blessings in my life but for the hard spots. Trials. Places of resignation—of “I am willing to have this be so…”   because I woke with The Breath of the Dragon
over the valley and Lake Mayfield and later, as it dissipated as a vapor into thin air, it taught me in its silent lesson that all of life is a matter of perspective. For those in the Valley below, trapped in the exceedingly heavy fog and mists we term, “The Dragon’s Breath” or “Spirit Breathing”, they may have been limited in their thinking, seeing little but darkness around them, and perhaps felt depressed and hopeless inside of the seeming oppression. But from our perspective, at Adytum Sanctuary, we saw beautiful rafts of clouds undulating slowly…rising and falling and gaining altitude as they made their way to the very tops of tall trees and ringing the mountains so that only their peaks emerged into the atmosphere. It was magnificent and it was terrible all at once. It all depends upon perspective.

And this is what I carried into my hike on this Thanksgiving Day. Nature fed my spirit and I skipped the focus altogether on feeding my appetite. The first Thanksgiving focused on what the pilgrims most had need of: physical sustenance. This Thanksgiving, I have need of spiritual sustenance as things are in front of me that I balk at interiorly. So as I traversed the gentle slope to a magnificent waterfall that came so unexpectedly to intersect my meditative walk, I had been thinking of some people in my life who had horrific things intersect their lives—hard things and permanent things for which the tunnel would forever remain darkened with no light at the proverbial end. Gratitude was not only for the happinesses that are in my life but also that I was not chosen to bear such hard burdens this year. That year may come, when God deems me strong enough, but for this Thanksgiving Day, I marveled at the friends around me who WERE strong enough to bear hard things and face them not with resignation but with grace and full surrender, willing to be a Light to the rest of us and me in particular who will complain about the pebble in my shoe.

This Thanksgiving was filled with the admiration and awe of my dear friends who have earned such a place in the Universe that they are allowed to bear things which would make most of us melt. I have a new respect for adversity and thankfulness and blessing on this Thanksgiving Day is just a small part of embracing ALL that life has with thanksgiving, blessing it, surrendering to it not with resignation but welcoming it as a teacher.

A dear friend and mentor of mine suggested a book, A Treatise on Efficacy Between Western and Chinese Thinking by Francois Jullien and translated by Janet Lloyd. The Chinese thought process, which I very much respect, teaches to not seek to impact a situation by imposing our will upon it but to wait, watching for the advantage to reveal itself. This is the place where true power is found and it’s been true in my life in the past when things were hard; patiently waiting, acceptance, and finally reaching the place of gratitude opened the way for transformation where imposing will never did one thing but create frustration. The Western way opposes this thinking. The will is asserted over the situation and yet the outcome will remain unsure despite the aggressive template of will over conditions.

Thankfulness and gratitude assume new proportions this Thanksgiving because of learning the Chinese thought process. It is easy to be thankful for blessings and we in the Western World in particular have so very, very many. It is not so easy to be thankful for places we are being led where we have no desire to go but must. This Thanksgiving, spent in nature among my dear old friends, My Ancients, who have bent and swayed with many a storm and yet stand firm and strong, I have been taught that gratitude and thankfulness are not dependent on blessing but upon standing and standing firm despite the odds. And that those of my friends whom have been tested the most severely are the ones deserving least of my pity but more my awe and sincere admiration. One day perhaps I will be counted worthy to be among their number, bearing much and still standing to give thanks.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pinnacle Peak...My Favorite Valley The most beautiful Valley I've ever seen... If you are at Paradise at Mt. Rainier looking at the Tatoosh Mountain Range in the distance, Pinnacle Peak at 6562 ft. is one of many in the range jutting up into the sky in a Tolkeinesque scene of rugged beauty. We hiked up so far it hurt and was dangerous actually at points. Interesting that we saw more Amanita mushrooms here than ever before.... and Wiki has to say, "Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita, is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Amanita muscaria has been unintentionally introduced to many countries in the southern hemisphere, generally as a symbiont with pine plantations, and is now a true cosmopolitan species. It associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees. The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually red mushroom, one of the most recognisable and widely encountered in popular culture. Several subspecies with differing cap colour have been recognised, including the brown regalis (considered a separate species), the yellow-orange flavivolvata, guessowii, formosa, and the pinkish persicina. Genetic studies published in 2006 and 2008 show several sharply delineated clades that may represent separate species.
Although it is generally considered poisonous, there are few documented human deaths from its consumption, and after having been parboiled it is eaten as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia, and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on possible traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia, but such traditions are far less well documented. The American banker and amateur ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson proposed that the fly agaric was the soma of the ancient Rig Veda texts of India; since its introduction in 1968, this theory has gained both followers and detractors in anthropological literature.[1]"
Along the way, we passed Washington Trail Association volunteers maintaining the trail. Thanking them profusely, we learn that Jen, the trail-boss, works all over and she looks up to the task.If you're drawn to this path of service to the World, volunteer here:
Further up toward the peak, streams degrade the trail to the point we're walking through them so this work is necessary. Donn takes a minute to divert the flow off the trail.
On the way down the peak, we had to grab tree limbs to keep from going over the edge around a few corners- very dangerous...but then whom do we meet at the descent but Charlie, dubbed by a fellow-hiker on the trail down.
He is the friendliest wild creature I've EVER met and he ate almonds (which I halved with my teeth) out of my hand. Biting me once on accident, he ran, realizing his breach of trust. "It's okay sweetheart; come get the other half..." and he is right there again. But get this...when I leave, he RUNS after me! I have fallen in love with...Charlie.
I am a Child of the Forest and the Woods...a friend of fawns and fairies. Tolkien and Lewis...Yes, I can wear the dress and the heels and be charming but this is really who I am at heart, just a barefoot girl grounding out on dewy grass at dawn. I admit, I had to throw stones down the steep and rocky ravine to try to create a a little Elvish and Impishly Mischievious too.
We ran into about 10-15 people which makes me think mid-week will work best for me. I'm used to running into bears, deer, and elk- not people and need silence vs. the laughter of hiking groups. Interesting what Nature means to different people and at different times as I've been a part of those hiking groups in the past. For now, I need filling and profound serenity which is Pinnacle Saddle in a nutshell.
At the end, because of using downhill muscle I'm quite unaccustomed to using (very steep descent on slippery rocks) I lay on the wall of Reflection Lake. I am done...tapped out..wasted....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Favorite Places in the World: Paradise at Mt. Rainier in Late Summer by Kat Carroll, NTP, Associate Editor, Health Freedom News

We were admittedly multi-tasking needing to get some shopping done and but also needing the enjoyment of a late summer’s day at Paradise on Mt. Rainier too. So many of our guests had already gone...Finally, our turn!!
 Whittaker’s Mountaineering has become a “must stop” when passing through Ashford at the entrance to Mt. Rainier for wool tops to wear as layers over a wicking T-shirt (my new favorites: and the mountain and great children’s gifts are there too.
 If you’re into climbing, the guides will get you there. The energy and excitement is palpable where climbers either return from summiting Mt. Rainier or prepare to depart. Kids are all over the climbing rock wall. Picnic tables in the sunshine fuel mountaineers with burgers, pizza, and beer.

There is much to see and do along the way: Cougar Rock Campground, Longmire where we walked in the Fall years ago and saw more mushroom varieties than we knew existed, the exalted Christine Falls, Comet Falls with a great trail and rushing water like a falling star at the end, and the "crowning jewel" of Narada Falls where we have fed Clark’s Nutcrackers by hand and stood in the mist of thunderous water crashing into the valley below. So much of Nature makes me feel very small....

Once into the National Park after a series of hairpin curves and long after cell reception deemed us “unplugged” we were fortunate to find one of the two remaining parking spaces at 3 p.m. at Paradise. Otherwise a shuttle is provided.
An acrid note hung in the air mixed with late afternoon, sun-drenched sweetness from wildflower stragglers like asters, pearly everlasting, lupine, and some which bloom late and are worth coming to see specifically.

As we began to walk up the mountain on paved trails, every language and accent met our ears and children raced along with their families. For those who had walked enough for their little legs and were cranky, we shared the sighting of a deer with two fawns to distract them. In the past, we’ve seen a fox family every year as we drove to the mountain.

While Europe has its castles and great gardens, America has National Parks and Lodges. Paradise Lodge, at 5400 ft., was built in 1916 from a stand of burned Alaska Cedar that had stood as ghost trees for 30 years. It was based on the great Lodges of the Catskills and Adirondacks. Most of the architects worked around the US so there was little variation on the Rustic National Park Lodge theme.

The park ranger told a story in the Lodge that really fascinated me. Some of us (okay, I admit it, I identified completely….) need continual challenges and must always be building and creating. Stephen Mather’s boredom and restlessness paid off as a gift to the World: “Stephen Mather was the first director of the National Park Service. He used his wealth and political connections to take the national park idea in important new directions.

Born in California to a family with deep, patrician roots in New England, Mather graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, worked as a reporter for the New York Sun, and then served as sales manager for the Pacific Coast Borax Company, where he demonstrated his special genius for promotion.

He branded the product as 20 Mule Team Borax and inventively created so much publicity that sales skyrocketed. Mather then helped start a competing borax company and soon became rich beyond belief. But by 1914, at age 47, the self-made millionaire was restless for a new challenge.

Mather counted as one of the highlights of his life meeting the legendary John Muir on a hike in Sequoia National Park in 1912. When he visited Sequoia and Yosemite in the summer of 1914, Mather was disgusted by the poor condition of the parks. He wrote a letter of complaint to his college friend, Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane, who invited Mather to come to Washington and do something about it himself. Mather accepted the challenge. As assistant to Lane in charge of the parks, he began a crusade to mold a haphazard collection of national parks into a cohesive system and to create a federal agency solely devoted to them: the National Park Service….

Upon Mather's death, the Park Service erected bronze plaques in every park with the words: "There will never come an end to the good that he has done."  While his work might seem too governmentally regulated to some, the upgraded experience to the National Parks which marked Mather's contribution provided my childhood with rich memories of existing inside of wild, rugged nature in Yosemite and Sequoia where trees  thousands of years old  put life into perspective in their noble way. In my 20’s when life expanded to my own family and children, the National Parks were always a place to “get my peace back” and we passed this legacy to our own children as many we walked with up the Mountain were giving to theirs. It made me happy to see it.

Adjacent to Mt. Rainier is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. “The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. Included as part of the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve in 1897, this area was set aside as the Columbia National Forest in 1908. It was renamed the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1949….Gifford Pinchot, an active conservationist, was appointed first Chief of the Forest Service. He played a key role in developing the early principles of environmental awareness. Pinchot's philosophy is made clear in his farsighted statement that the forests should be managed for "..the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run."

The Park Ranger went on to tell us how much damage the forest and meadows had suffered in years past while these early managers determined how best to handle increasing amounts of people visiting the area. The terrain is as fragile as arctic tundra. In one meadow which used to be a golf course, it took 80 years to recover its original condition once the golf course was abandoned. Campers used to light ancient trees on fire just to watch them burn all night…

Evidently there are few places in the World one can drive right to the alpine area where the trees are sparse due to extreme conditions  without hiking in. The endurance of the Alpines are particularly precious to me. Their usual spire-shapes accommodate to contortion under the weight of heavy snow. They are tough and persevering and remind us how strong we are too if need be. Surrounded by fragile and delicate flowers which live under snow and ice much of the year, the Alpine meadows are profound in their simplicity, power, and beauty.

In the distance, glacier water rushes down the mountain dropping rapidly forming the Nisqually River at 3820 ft.  The fresh, mineralized water is distinct in its milky appearance. It flows across several county lines 81 miles and is the territorial center of the Nisqually Tribe who share its name.

Despite picking a lot of huckleberries (the ones on the lower branches are the sweetest) we are hungry after the stimulation of high-mountain air and so we stop at Alexander’s Country Inn passing through their gift shop to sit by the trout pond. We enjoy the absorbing activity of fish jumping, insects visible in the lowering sunlight in gyrating swarms over the greenish water overhung by weeping willow trees. Swallows fly low, scooping them up and dragonflies lazily make their way around the edges- one landing on my leg as I ate!  (Yes, I 'emoted' quite loudly despite the other diners there who quickly empathized...)

Alexander’s has resident deer and one mama enjoyed apples knocked off the tree by the chef with a very long stick taped one to the other, sharing them with her two fawns. He said she had been a fawn just last year and now she is three.  We have eaten many times at Alexander’s and the food is consistently good but a little expensive. We even enjoyed blackberry pie and ice cream, celebrating the end of summer- an unusual treat for us. Eclectic food made by the Sherpa’s wives is at Wild Berry- Yak Burger is on the menu and a good selection for vegetarians. Copper Creek is always busy as we near the exit to the National Park.

Near Morton where our Optometry Clinic is, the phone service returns and we hear the buzz of voice mail notification. There’s something about stopping- unplugging- and returning to how it used to be before wireless became an obsession and an addiction (again, okay- I admit it (: )  Returning to the ways of childhood, immersing in nature, losing ourselves in the moment, breathing deeply of pure mountain air and really smelling each layer of scent, feasting our eyes on magnificent beauty, pristine water, and climbing mountains both evocative of  Middle Earth terrain where Dragons and Sorcerers might live and  yet terrifying in their implication (Mt. Rainier is a volcano…) brings wholeness and balance to life in 2013. I’ll never stop needing to be near the innate commanding majesty of mountains to “get my peace back”. Mt. Rainier and the Tatoosh Range  are so phenomenal and I hope you see them if you never have. They change us like all travel does. Make the trek. You won't ever regret it...


Sunday, July 28, 2013

From Winery to Adytum Sanctuary ~ The Fine Craftsmanship of the Wildeys By Kat Carroll, Associate Editor, Health Freedom News

We first met Monte and Cher Wildey at the Packwood Flea Market over Memorial Day, 2013. Actually we met over Makalu, their beautiful Great Dane as we were thinking of getting one ourselves and stuck up a conversation about dogs. In talking we found out that they build Adirondack chair and table sets out of old wine barrels and instantly we connected the dots: their finely crafted furniture, Adytum Sanctuary (, and hopefully meeting Makalu again!
Their wine-inspired artistry fits right into our ever-expanding 120 vine Pinot Noir vineyard and Don Hatfield’s fine art inside ~ The Sommelier and numerous Modern Impressionism works we carry as part of our growing collection for sale to our guests and to the public. (See note at end) Late Friday afternoon on a beautiful summer afternoon in July, the Wildeys drove in from blistering heat in Eastern Washington, 103 in the shade, to the relative perfection of the Pacific Northwest summer on the Western side of the mountains. They unloaded their unique treasures (heavy!!) and we all decided they would look best against the wall of rocks with bee-laden lavender spilling down and in full view of the boats on sparkling Lake Mayfield. It created a new vignette; the perfect relaxation station, savoring sun setting on the vineyard with a glass of wine at day’s end in complete comfort embraced by the heart and soul of fine wine-nurtured wood turned fine furniture.
We learned why the Wildey’s chairs are unique but first, let me tell you why this couple is so unique. They have been married for two years, together for three. Monte works for the Department of Energy as a Network Administrator and Cher works in Imaging at Kadlec Hospital doing billing and coding. When she realized she wasn’t seeing her new husband much after work because, creative as he is, he was always in the garage working on projects Cher decided to join him in the shop.
“I got my own set of tools and learned from Monte how to become a finish carpenter. It’s not the first thing he’s taught me. I now own a cruiser motorcycle and learned to ride so we could be together on road trips.” These amazing chair and table sets are handcrafted by BOTH of the Wildeys and you can feel their great energy signature invisibly imprinted on every piece: “Made with love and a desire to enjoy life and each other fully…” Monte picked up the creativity gene as a child from both parents who were such craftsmen and painters that they started a successful business in retirement. In his youth, Monte made a rock fireplace and stone wall at his parents’ home. When I asked how he started making chairs, he and Cher told a story, each jumping in to fill in the other’s sentences like they’d been married much longer than 2 years. Cher explained that they visited a town caller Mosier and traveling with Makalu, they stopped into the only pub in town that allowed dogs, the “Thirsty Woman Pub” ( Everyone sitting around the rustic campfire in Adirondack chairs drinking beer from mason jars had a story of extreme sports in the great Northwest to share. Monte jumped in, "But I didn’t like the chairs. They felt like they sagged back. Remembering the chairs on my grandfather’s porch I thought, I could make these…” Now, the garage is never without a work in progress but their mutual synergistic creativity didn’t stop at chairs and tables. They make bar-stools that are showcased in saloons, clocks, and also lighting made from beer growlers. (Yes, I had to look that up!)
Next on the list is a footstool to go with the chairs…Monte also makes glassware and I requested the "tipsy" kind I last bought from a German glassmaker.
The inventiveness of these two is boundless and they work together well. Cher humbly says,“I just do what Monte shows me.” Yet he has brought a side of Cher to light perhaps she never would have discovered, showcasing her innate talent and she had the initiative to leave her comfort zone and break into a field typically dominated by men. Monte’s loving investments in mentoring her and Cher's desire to be with him has enhanced their business, their married lives, and certainly ours as we enjoy the fruit of their love and labor at Adytum. You will feel it when you sit in their chairs, trust me.
As we sat in the Tower Room at Adytum, Monte explained that the life expectancy of a wine barrel is 4-7 years depending on the wine and the vintner. Then they are sold. They like using red wine barrels because of the color. “You will see wine barrel furniture stained dark brown. It’s because the wood-worker is using a gray barrel and bringing the color up with stain.” Cher pipes in, “We like our furniture to remain true to the wood tone and will hand-select barrels with the finished product in mind.” Sometimes a barrel is opened and the interior is charred black and rendered unusable. Personally, I wouldn’t mind that distressed look at all. Monte buys barrels with slat size in mind. A certain width will allow for extensive purposes whereas a whisky barrel slat is just too wide and too limiting for most projects.
They are in competition with many others also keen on obtaining barrels- mostly to use as planters and this was Monte’s original intention too. Wineries are routinely called and arrangements are made to pick up what they have for sale, usually for around $100. New French Oak barrels run $2500. Monte indicted a cooperage in Okanagan ( who makes new barrels by steaming the wood to create the curves and pressing it together – this factory might prove a fun side trip if you’re in Canada to see how it is done on site.
The cooperage even makes a dog-side car for a motorcycle that is made from a barrel! The Great Dane Makalu already has her own goggles, so next: the addition of a sidecar on the motorcycle and a trip back to Thirsty Woman Pub, who will hopefully commission an upgrade to their current Adirondack chairs!
Monte and Cher begin the long process of stripping the staves off, sanding, and reassembling into the chair and table. “When we open up the barrel the whole garage smells like wine,” his eyes roll back in pure pleasure. Nice working atmosphere! One barrel produces one chair and table. The metal strip from the barrel is cut and reused as a brace. Everything is sanded smooth before being installed. Monte builds for aesthetics and feel, “I think of my grandmother sitting in the chair, or a child. I don’t want anyone to snag their clothing on a sharp edge.” Cher adds, “We build them to last…”
Every barrel is unique and comes complete with its own markings, numbers or designs, from the winery. The tops of the chairs have a bevel I assumed was carved in- yes, but not by them. It is the actual lip which holds the barrel top. The sensuous curve of the chairs is appealing and seems to take a genius at cutting to create a seamless whole without gaps. This attention to detail is much appreciated by us at Adytum Sanctuary who have always seen deeply into art and the detailed artistry of fine woodworking.
In another display of creative perfection, they use the wine-stained sawdust to mix with the epoxy so that even the glue blends seamlessly into the whole. Each piece of furniture that will be outdoors is coated in a very expensive marine varnish, $120 a gallon, and then lightly sanded before adding two additional coats. Drying time is never just the 24 hours recommended on the container but can extend far beyond that making the chair a two week-long labor of love as they work evenings together on this endeavor. The only parts of the finished product that are not from the wine barrel itself are stainless steel screws and plugs to cover the screw holes, a step many other craftsmen choose to forego (sanding too, leaving rough edges to scrape oneself on…)
Next time we see the Wildeys, perhaps they scream in on their road bikes with Makalu sporting some sexy dog-goggles and looking adventuresome with a Snoopy-style white fighter pilot scarf around her neck flying in the wind as she hunkers down in her wine barrel side car for the ride. We raise a glass of future Adytum Sanctuary label Pinot Noir in salute to you Great Dane beauty who brought new friends, fine furniture, and a great love story to inspire us at Adytum Sanctuary!
For hand-crafted furniture or fine art purchase information of , contact Special commissions are available. Most of the furniture pieces are heavy but shipping is an option.

21st Annual Rod and Run in Packwood, Washington & The Packwood Museum

It's fun to try new things! This was the first classic car show Donn and I have been to. Adytum Sanctuary has a full house this weekend with guests from Eastern Washington who came delivering handcrafted wine barrel Adirondack chairs and table (more on Monte and Cheryl's craftsmanship in another blog- and how you can commission YOUR unique set), and a family from Frankfurt, Germany here to explore Mt. Rainier, St. Helens, and enjoy the luxury of Adytum at day's end...
We set off for Packwood, not far from Adytum, in the late afternoon. When we arrived at the field where the cars were displayed we were met with a great deal of smoke tainting the pure mountain air of the tiny town of Packwood near Mt. Rainier. We stepped over elk droppings to join the crowd and find out what was so fascinating about the belching exhaust of a smashed truck...The Packwood Fire Department truck and crew stood ready to extinguish the flames...We learned that every year, something is blown up by putting a brick on the gas pedal and letting the truck run out of oil. One year they put sugar, bleach, vinegar, and more into the gas tank of a Pontiac and it never did succumb. Neither did this old wreck. Stubbornly it ran 18 minutes while we all anticipated the blast, "Aren't they worried about a shrapnel effect? Look how close everyone is..." Only in Packwood! So in an anti-climactic move, it just quit running. And we felt stupid. (: For one who would never go to a demolition derby, it was pushing my comfort zone.
But moving on, the car show became interesting as we learned about old cars, how they are insured (quite cheaply- $250 per year for 3000 miles of use), and how readily available parts are. Plus, they are just beautiful! Shiny chrome, big, classy interiors...the 50's music made me feel like dancing and I swept up Donn's hands to twirl me in the grass. He wasn't buying it. The 50's were such a light, happy time and the cars evoke that era (before my time- I'm a child of the 1960s) so the day left us feeling happy.
Donn owned a '56 T bird and showed me how you can see through to the trunk through a little slit behind the front seat. He told a story of putting a friend, Monty M. and his girlfriend in the trunk where they could supposedly lay down and 'neck' in privacy- shut in the trunk! Lots of room and air space though...Sounds like a Twilight Saga abduction to me; I wonder how much psychotherapy it took for her to get over that one?
We stopped off at the Packwood Museum, open by appointment and Friday and Saturday. It is rich in logging, Indian, and pioneer history. So many of the names in the museum are familiar as they or their family members are our patients at Medical Vision Center in Morton ( where Donn has practiced 32 years. One day, I imagine we will be in that museum. It teaches me to live life fully every day and embrace the present because we will soon just be a part of the past- important as it may have been.
There is much to do in the Pacific Northwest in the summer. We, who dwell in gray and rain, know how to make the most of our long, lovely summer days. Next is the Mossyrock blueberry festival; the first weekend in August. I took my first order of organic blueberries last night- $75 for 25 pounds. They will go into the freezer for our daily shakes. If you're on Hwy 12 stop into the Pan Pacific blueberry farm store for a great selection of their blueberry pies, jam, and products. They now offer organic too but I am partial to a locally owned You-Pick field near Adytum Sanctuary (www.adytumsanctuary)where they have a good separation from the occasional crop dusting from the Pan American field (no drift/little drift) and the berries are enormous and sweet.
Put the Morton Logger's Jubilee on your calender as well- the second weekend in August on the 9th this year. Loggers come from all over the World to compete in true feats of skill and strength. I learned to throw an axe in 2011 at this event! It is also fun and perhaps something we wouldn't naturally have been drawn to, but were so glad we experienced it. We will go again this year and the flea market is really eclectic! Enjoy your summer and make space for a transformational experience reconnecting with all that really matters in life in the beauty and peace that is...Adytum Sanctuary.