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Jul 30, 2007

Eat to Live

We’ve made yet another major change in our eating habits. We’ve been vegan since 1990, but we’ve held the world’s record for vegans eating the fewest vegetables. (In case you don’t know, a vegan diet is one with NO animal products.) That has finally changed. We discovered Eat to Live.

It began with Sheila working with a coach to improve her weight and fitness. The coach questioned the amount of processed soy we were eating. (Soy burgers, fake chicken, protein shakes, etc.) Sheila started doing some research and discovered we were eating wa-a-a-a-y  more than was healthful.

So while trying to get more information, she ended up on Dr. Fuhrman’s website  and read his book Eat to Live. This isn’t a diet as much as a way to eat to fend off most of the major diseases which affect Americans. As Dr. Fuhrman says “taking control of your health destiny.”

It’s pretty basic. You eat mostly vegetables and fruits. There are plenty of nuts, seeds and legumes. But you minimize all starchy vegetables, cereals, breads, and eliminate added salt, oil, and sugar. Pretty much any processed food is out.  Click here to read a PDF of Dr. Fuhrman’s brand new Eat Right America: Scoring Guide for a great overview as well as a nutritional density scoring guide. And if you’d like to watch Dr. Fuhrman on his 4-part PBS special Ocean Robbins over at the Food Revolution Network has posted them for you.

It’s been a huge change. In order to effect the change, we ate a very strict version for 6 weeks. During that time our weight was expected to drop dramatically, then plateau. In fact, I lost 20 pounds and Sheila lost 11 pounds (she’d already lost 9 before starting this program). She is still working to shed another 10 putting us both at our high school weights.

Better than that, we feel healthier. Who wouldn’t? We’re eating huge salads daily, lots and lots of vegetables and fruits. If you looked in our kitchen you’d see stuff that looks like food rather than colorful boxes of instant meals. Plus, we get to eat dessert every evening!! Often that is a homemade chocolate cherry sorbet which is just scrumptious.

Sheila spent a week in Utah at a conference with Dr. Fuhrman and 100 others who Eat to Live. She learned more about what to eat, how to prepare it, and why. Although it was blazingly hot, it was a great opportunity to learn more and reinforce the commitment to ETL. You can click on the thumbnails in the sidebar to see some photos from the trip. Click here for a Word document with some favorite recipes. Here are a few tips & goals she brought back:

    • Since I still eat my favorite food, peanut butter, the suggestion is to add in more healthful nut butters (cashew, almond etc) and also to add in some cooked carrots! The result still tastes mostly like peanut butter but it’s a lot heaalthier.
    • Eat a couple of Brazil nuts every week. They’re the only source of selenium. If you can’t get them in the shell eat more like a dozen.
    • Eat more pumpkin & sunflower seeds instead of cashews & almonds.
    • Eat more cruciferous vegetables, especially kale.

All in all we feel like it’s a good change for us. What’s nice is there’s no calorie counting, no weighing or measuring. It’s REALLY easy which was important for us for it to be sustainable long term. It seems like we can keep it going. As of late January 2008 we’ve both reached our goal weight and sustained it for quite awhile. YEAH!

NOTE: To read about Sheila getting off medications due to ETL click here.

Sep 30, 2001


We’ve been on a spiritual journey which has led us to Buddhism. We’ve been practicing vipassana (Insight) meditation since 1992. We attend annual week-long silent retreats each summer at Cloud Mountain. Most recently we’ve discovered a teacher, Phillip Moffitt, who combines mindful movement with meditation. That combination has struck a chord in us, as it melds nicely with the yoga practice we do. We’ve sat with Phillip on several retreats including at Spirit Rock and expect we’ll continue to do so at least annually. This serendipitously has also led us to sitting again with the very first Buddhist teacher, Julie Wester, who also teaches at Spirit Rock.

What is Insight Meditation?

(borrowed from Seattle Insight Meditation Society)
The term “insight meditation” refers both to a spiritual practice shared by all forms of Buddhism, and to a particular historical Buddhist tradition. The word “insight” is a common translation of the Pali word vipassana, which means “clear seeing”. Developing “clear seeing” helps people live their lives with growing skillfulness and ease.

As a spiritual practice, insight meditation helps cultivate the qualities of mindfulness and equanimity, which in turn foster the deepening of wisdon and compassion, the gateways to liberation and freedom.

As a spiritual tradition, insight meditation draws on the accumulated wisdom of the Theravadin Buddhist lineage as practiced over centuries in the monasteries of Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka, and as transmitted over the last thirty years to teachers in the West.

Mar 30, 2005


Sheila’s Dad, Jerry Hoffman died November 14, 2004

Jerry Hoffman, Sheila's dad, died November 14, 2004Allen Jerome (Jerry) Hoffman died November 14, 2004, at the age of 79 in Aventura, Florida after an 18 month battle with cancer. Born May 15, 1925, in New York, a son of Gertrude (Meisel) and Joseph Hoffman, he is a former resident of Middletown, Rhode Island.

He and his brother, Delmore, had owned and operated the West End Cleaners on Connell Highway in Newport. He was later employed by Bristol Toyota Village and Competition Imports as a salesman.

Mr. Hoffman and wife, Brenda, have lived in Miami Gardens, Florida for the past 15 years where he was employed until a few years ago at Metro-Dade Greynolds Park Golf Course. An avid golfer, he was a former club champion at Pocasset Country Club and member of the Montaup Country Club in Portsmouth. He was a US Army Veteran of WWII and a member of the Newport Kiwanis for many years.

Mr. Hoffman is survived by his wife of 57 years, Brenda (Levy) and their two children, Sheila who resides with her husband in Seattle, Washington and Howard Eric (Ric) who resides with his wife at the family homestead in Middletown. He also leaves three granddaughters, Heather of Newport, Shaina of Boston, MA and Sarah of Providence.


Spencer’s Dad, Ray Beard, died March 26, 2005

Ray Beard, Spencer's dad died March 26, 2005My beloved father, Raymond Pearce Beard, died on March 26, 2005. He’d been suffering from complications of a stroke since the previous July. The stroke was actually a complication from his quintuple bypass surgery in May of 2004. It had been a rough year for Daddy.

I was blessed to have been able to be with him and my family during his final days. He was at Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City. The staff there was wonderful, but it became clear that Dad wasn’t going to pull through the latest episode. They monitored his pain levels, but disconnected all the other hospital paraphernalia except the catheter.

My mom, siblings, spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren spent 3 days at Dad’s bedside listening to him breathe and having our final time together. We were quite a crowd, sometimes numbering nearly 30 in the waiting room. In his last hours, Dad was surrounded by Mom and the seven kids. It was quite a special time.

He passed relatively easily. We were glad he could let go of a life which had been quite wonderful, but physically unbearable by the end. One very special moment came when Sister Vivian played harp music to help the transition just minutes after Dad died.

We’ll all miss him terribly. He was a fabulous person, an excellent dad, the role model of your dreams. I’ll always remember him sitting at his loom, putting together another Navajo rug. Or maybe I’ll always remember him waking me up for my paper route and delivering bundles of papers for me to pick up on the way. Or maybe……

Both our Dads died: Sheila’s in November 2004 and Spencer’s in March. So we want our friends to know about Five Wishes, an affordable tool for officially documenting your end-of-life preferences. View  the beautiful catalog of Ray’s Navajo rugs. Note: this is a 2.5 mg PDF.

Sep 30, 2009

Historical Cat Overview

Khubie: The World’s Most Wonderful Cat

Click to enlargeKhubie, (aka Khubla Khan, The Big Unit, The Tank, The King of All Cats, The Mayor of John Street, The Gravel Truck, The Big Guy, His Sublime Feline Majesty) died September 7, 2001 due to complications from kidney failure. He retained his charm until the very end, even befriending strangers as we took him to the vet one last time. He was a great big presence in our lives and is often missed. He was 17 1/2 years old and dearly beloved by all those who knew him. We’ve posted his farewell/birthday celebration which happened in March, 2001. We also have a photo album of him with some of his friends.

Two new cats enter our hearts (2002)

When Khubie passed on Sheila knew she wanted another cat and Spencer wanted to wait a year and see. Five months later, on Friday, February 1, 2002 we ventured out to browse the cats at PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Shelter) and ended up bringing home two wonderful felines. Sheila says it’s going to take two to replace Khubie!

MorrieClick to enlarge
Morrie is a two year old orange tabby weighing in at 17 solid pounds. He’s already settled in and is quite friendly.

Click to enlargeMisha
Misha  is a four year old calico. At 11 pounds she is quite rotund. At the shelter she was totally a lap kitty. So far at home she hasn’t come out from hiding under the shirts in the closet, but we’re sure within a few days she’ll adapt.Click to enlarge

Two week update
The kids are fully integrated in the house now. Misha has come out from hiding though she still tends to spend a lot of her days in the basement. She now sleeps with us every night and frequently sits in our laps. Morrie spends his days atop his catpost/perch. We’re hoping once Misha gets over her cold and can smell the catnip on her post that she’ll enjoy hers as well. They’re not exacly playmates yet but they can be in the same room together without fighting which we take as a good sign. We even play with both them at the same time with the kitty-tease (fishing pole) their Aunt Carla gave them. We took them in for their first vet visit. Morrie got his shots and a clean bill of health. Misha is taking cold medication and will be going in for some dental work the end of February, an unexpected expense. All in all we’re thrilled to have allowed kitty love back in our hearts.

Both cats enjoy hanging out on the perch.
That’s Ellen Gass visiting Morrie from Leavenworth.

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge

Two year update
Due to our decision to downsize to a condo, and given that Morrie and Misha never did take a liking to each other, we decided everyone would be better off if we found a new home for Misha. We put a few signs up and it wasn’t long before a lovely young woman who works at the food coop adopted Misha. She’s loving being an only child, losing weight and playing more.

August, 2006: Sadly, Morrie isn’t taking too well to the condo. We’re not sure if it’s the small size with no stairs to run up and down or the proximity of so many other animals or what. He’s been crying a lot and waking us during the night. We hired an animal communicator who conveyed that Morrie just doesn’t feel safe here. She gave us specific affirmations to do daily. We did that the entire month before leaving for Europe, then sent him off to Steve & Carla’s house to stay while we were gone. He was very happy there. Time will tell if he’ll adjust to returning to our condo!

April, 2007: Finally Morrie seems to be pretty well adapted to condo living. WHEW!

Apr 15, 2002


Click this image to see the video

Click to enlargeYou can jump back to the historical overview of our cats including Khubie and Misha as well as an introduction to Morrie. Since downsizing to the condo Morrie has been our only feline friend. Here’s what’s new with Morrie since 2008.

Toilet Training

Early this year we decided to toilet train him. Yes, you heard correctly! There are wonderful support groups and commercial devices to aid in this process. The biggest advantage is no more buying and cleaning up litter. We’ve had our ups and downs with the process and 9 months into it we’re feeling optimistic we’ll complete the process. Morrie uses the dedicated spare commode without fail. We still need to continue to enlarge the hole until there’s no more device there to hold the dwindling supply of litter. If you’re in complete disbelief and/or just want some great laughs check out the videos of successfully toilet trained cats. When Morrie developed diabetes, we stopped training him and never went back. But in case this interests you here are some useful  links:Click to enlarge


In other cat news Morrie was diagnosed with diabetes on September 24, 2008. As you can imagine this was a bit of a shock. We’d taken him in because he’d gone from weighing 18+ to under 13 in the last two years. The learning curve was steep. The most fabulous online resource is the Feline Diabetes Forum. While there are others, you’ll find all the support and information in this one place. Our first decision was whether to spend $200 on an animal calibrated glucose meter or use a human meter (for free). We learned on the forum that using a human one would be just fine. We also learned how lucky we are to have a vet that encouraged home testing. This gives us more information about how Morrie’s blood glucose level is responding to the twice daily insulin shots so we can appropriately adjust his dose. We’ve settled into a routine with Sheila taking blood at 6 am and Spencer doing it at 6 pm. In the short-term, while still gathering information we’re running “curves” each Sunday which means taking blood every two hours for a full cycle. WHEW! Like I said, a big learning curve. We’re hopeful that by the time we’re ready to leave for a week-long bike ride or meditation retreat that our regular cat sitters will be able to just administer insulin and not have to worry about drawing blood. That’s a lot to ask.

We’re THRILLED to report that as of January 15, 2009 Morrie has gone completely OFF insulin. After two plus weeks with no insulin he’s officially in remission and diet controlled.

Morrie went “OTJ”* Jan 15, 2009

* OTJ means Off the Juice.

Click to enlargeThanks to the Feline Diabetes Message Board and especially to Team J (JoJo and Jill) in LantusLand, we closely monitored Morrie’s blood glucose levels and adjusted his insulin levels to keep him “SURFING”  in the “healing zone” (under 120). With many ups and downs, hundreds of ear pricks and dozens of sleep-deprived nights, we managed to wean him off the insulin by allowing his pancreas to heal (ONLY cats have this ability). We’re grateful that Morrie is feeling frisky again, has his silky coat back and is healthy. We’re also grateful to be getting more sleep and to be able to go out at night without worrying.

Click this image to see the video

Sep 9, 2001


Khubie was the greatest cat EVER! We adopted him from Dov & Brynn Sugarman when they were going overseas. The photos below show some of his many friends. The ones with the blue wrapped paw was his 17th birthday party in March of 2001. We gave him sub-cutaneous fluids for six months. He was still socializing on his way to the vet to be put down the Friday before 9/11.

Thanks to all of you who made it to Khubie’s 17th birthday celebration.  A good time was had by all. In addition, Khubie received a couple of fabulous cards. George & Julene couldn’t come but their card said: “There are no ordinary cats (Colette)…But there ARE Extraordinary Cats!

And of course Khubie’s first parents, Dov & Brynn (shown here) told many stories of his childhood. Here’s what their card said:

Dear Khubla Khan,
We remember with love the kitten who captured our hearts and continued to charm us for so many years. The kitty who answered the phone, opened and closed doors by their handles, climbed up wall tapestries to the ceiling, pounced on belt “snakes” with such ardor, overdosed on thawing chicken, caused such a commotion eating mouse poison on our Kibbutz during the harvest, captured the attention and admiration of a Druze Village, and basically has spent his life attracting fans wherever he has gone. You are a BodiSahtva feline and we feel blessed to have shared this particular lifetime with you. We are also grateful that you’ve had such a wonderful home and family these past 7 years.

Happy 17th Darling! Love, The Sugarman’s

PS: A donation has been made to the World Wildlife Fund in your honor.

Jan 30, 2006

S2 On the Move!

S2 sold their house of 20 years in Sept. 2005 & in Jan. 2006 moved into The Braeburn

a panoramic view from Sheila's office

This all  started over spring break, 2004, when we visited Tucson. We began thinking about having a place we could winter in. The theory was that we could get enough by selling our house to buy something smaller in Seattle AND something modest in the SW. After running the numbers we realized that to get anything on Capitol Hill worth giving up our lovely home for, we would not end up with money leftover for a winter home.

Even though we let go of that idea, once the door was opened to even CONSIDER leaving our home, a whole new world of options presented themselves. We both love our neighborhood and didn’t want to leave it. There’s a brand new condo that just broke ground near us called The Braeburn. When we visited their web site we both instantly became excited by their approach. They’re including a wealth of amenities such as a fitness facility, Zen garden, pea patch, yoga room, theater, workshop, etc. It’s a block from the co-op where we food shop and it’s still easy walking distance to Spencer’s school and our yoga studio. It’s kind of a cross between co-housing and condo living. We’re really excited about the prospect of down sizing and getting a fresh start. You can read all about it at:

So what does The Braeburn look like?

We bought one of the few 2 bedroom/2 bath units. It’s on the top floor, SW corner with a view! It’s small, only 1000 sq. ft (coming from 2200!).  At  top left  is ‘the hole”. The red car is heading west down Pine. The top right image is a model of the entire complex including the east and west buildings. There’s a courtyard between them with a waterfall and the Zen Garden. The 2nd row, left photo is our corner of the model with 14th in the foreground and Pine on the right. Our unit is the top one on that corner. The photo to the right of it was taken August 21, 2005. We’re adding photos periodically so you can see the progress. The latest photo still shows tyvek on our corner.

NOTE: When we updated the website we added all the construction and move in photos to one slideshow at the bottom.

The left balcony is Sheila’s office, the rounded area is the living room. The next balcony on the right is off the kitchen and the last balcony is off our bedroom As of September the wallboard is up and siding is done except for our corner. January move-in is starting to look like a reality.  We’ve just been told our orientation will be between 1/7-1/13, our closing will be 1/14-1/17, and our move in will be between 1/18-1/28. We’re getting VERY excited! LATER: As it turned out, we were one of 9 units  fast-tracked to move in by end of January. The building won’t be fully occupied for more than a month. After 1 week here, we’re settled in. Still doing without any amenities.

We Sold Our House!

Since The Braeburn isn’t due to be occupied until January, 2006 we waited until fall  to list the house. It sold in five days!  We worked hard, especially Spencer, on de-cluttering, painting, repairing. We spent a lot on cosmetics such as new carpeting, wood floor top coating, painting the kitchen, emptying and painting the basement, etc. It all seems to have paid off though. We listed on September 6 and had an offer five days later. We closed on October 21 and moved that weekend into a nearby temporary apartment called The Hillcrest. At the October 29 walk-through we were assured of a mid-January move-in to the Braeburn. It’s starting to feel very real.

New photos & update as of April 22, 2006
We’ve been here almost 3 months now. They still haven’t completed the lobby, our storage area or any of the amenities. All are in due time. We have just had our first Home Owners’ Association meeting and guess who was elected to serve on the transition board? No surprise here, Sheila, of course. The east building is supposed to get their certificate of occupancy next week at which time we can access our storage unit. We’ve been assured all amenities will be competed by June 1. In the meantime we’re enjoying the skyview terrace.

Spencer’s sister-in-law Marcy does color consulting professionally. Recently she paid us a visit from Eugene. Spencer spent Spring break implementing her wonderful suggestions. The photos below show the results. The stained glass window is from the front door of our old house. We’re so glad we preserved it. And that’s our new reclining, leather love-seat. Very comfy. And notice the new stone counter top and sink.

A year later, March 2007, we’ve finally had our master bathroom remodeled as we’ve planned from the beginning. We’re very happy to have replaced the second sink/vanity and corner shower with a wonderful 2-person bathtub and fabulous piece of art glass for the wall. The glass is by a local artist name Eric Krag.

May 30, 2006

Jetta TDI runs BioDiesel

Our new JettaOne of the reasons we downsized is because we want to live more lightly on the earth. For that reason we’ve coveted the Toyota hybrid car, the Prius. We had decided if we got what we wanted for the house we would look into a buying a new car. The process of exploring was a wonderful distraction while we were in transition. We learned a lot about both hybrids and also the Our new Jettabenefits of using bio-diesel. After much reading and shopping we purchased a 2003 Jetta TDI from  the Green Car Company in late October, 2005. It’s fully loaded: black leather interior, manual transmission, CD, sunroof, and heated seats. We painted it a bright yellow (for increased  visibility) while we were cycling in Europe in July 2006! We’re excited to be ending our dependance on Middle-Eastern oil and we’ve added a sticker that says Bio-Diesel: No War Required. For an overview on bio-diesel visit: BioDiesel Now.

Carbon Neutral?

We just came across this web site that lets you calculate your CO2 impact and even pay offsets so you can drive “carbon neutral”. After running the numbers on the car options we considered, we’re very pleased to discover our vehicle is the BIG WINNER!

Here is the info, based on our actual annual miles (7,341):

  • 2006 Prius: This car uses the equivalent of 137 gallons of gasoline each year. This means it produces 2657  pounds of CO2 annually.
  • 2003 VW Jetta (gas): This car uses the equivalent of 194 gallons of gasoline each year. This means it produces 3763  pounds of CO2 annually.
  • 2003 VW Jetta (diesel): This car uses the equivalent of 223 gallons of gasoline each year. This means it produces 4326  pounds of CO2 annually.
  • 2003 VW Jetta (biodiesel): This car uses the equivalent of 48 gallons of gasoline each year. This means it produces 931  pounds of CO2 annually.

As of May 2008 we made the decision to NOT fly to New Zealand for a month of cycling and touring due to the impact on our carbon footprint. You can read more about this decision and found a wealth of related resources on our Fly Less page.