Jim here with another exciting installment of Weird Wednesday. (What, you thought that just because Wendi is out of town this week, we'd have no Weird Wednesday )

In any discipline, I think it's important to consider the entire argument in taking a stance on a given issue. Examine each issue from both sides (pro and con) -- and then make the best choice you can. That makes sense, right?

As raw foods enthusiasts for many years, Wendi and I have had the pleasure of patronizing raw food restaurants literally from coast to coast. Between us, we've been blessed to have sampled a more diverse spread of raw gourmet foods than have most people. (We hope that many others get to do this as well!)

From time to time in anyone's raw journey, it seems inevitable that thoughts crop up about opening a raw restaurant. For some, it's likely no more than a passing fantasy; for others, it may well become a firm business goal. We believe this is a fine and noble goal -- one that we'd like to see more people accomplish!

Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

There's SO much to celebrate lately! Check it out:

Our dear friend Robin (aka Rawbin) celebrates her birthday today. We created a fun video for Rawbin, who has the ability to make anyone laugh! Rawbin blogs here and you can read her "My Raw Story" installment here.She's also the east coast Raw Spirit Festival representative. (RSF east happens August 29-30, 2009 in Maryland. More info here.)

Jim here with another exciting edition of Weird Wednesday. You know, each time I say "weird," I don't always mean the same thing. Sometimes "weird" means odd or strange. Other times it means funny or ironic. It might also mean unusual or out-of-the-ordinary. Come to think of it, the definition of weird is also weird.

Today, I was thinking about an old friend, Jim Banholzer. He lived next door to Wendi and me when we first moved to the D.C. area in 1991. We all lived in a small "garden apartment" complex in Falls Church, Virginia. Our roommate at the time worked as a leasing agent there, which qualified us for a decent rental discount. I think we paid $800 or so for the place, an upscale 2-bedroom townhome close to the community pool. Jim lived next door with one of the more unstable people I've ever met (and, trust me, that's saying something).

Wow, who knew there would be so much to post here on this blog about Wendi an KDcat's 2010 tour ! Today is March 15, which officially marks the beginning of the second half of the trip -- and we're still talking about Portland! ? Since Portland, Wendi and Kdcat have had adventures in Grants Pass, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and as I write this there are two more angels in the City of Angels.

But, in the interest of keeping our coverage chronoligical, we'll continue where we left off last week -- Portland! Story, pics, and video all appear below!

Jim here... Today is April 25, 2009 -- Wendi Dee's Birthday!!? She's asleep now. It's 1:30 in the morning & I've been up for hours assembling something stunningly amazing to share with you. You see, this year, I asked some friends, family, and foodies to take a page of a sketchbook and offer Wendi some Happy Birthday wishes -- and then send it back to me so I could bind it all into a large book!? WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!! Check out the response from 40+ people from around the globe. It's a little overwhelming to see this much positive energy in one place. What a momentous day she's in for in another 5 hours or so when she gets up and is greeted by such a surprise! If you'd like to say Happy Birthday, just leave a comment here! Thanks to everyone!

Clarifications: (1) Yes, as some of you may have guessed, Wendi's body has circled the sun more than 25 times. If you visit the site, I explain what the "25th" birthday means a little more. It's basically about the amazing power of raw foods. (2) No, I didn't send messages to David Wolfe, Gabriel Cousens, Woody Harrelson, or other raw food celebrities Wendi isn't friends with. However, if they are huge fans of Wendi's, they are more than welcome to contribute via email or comments! LOL ;-)

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On April 25, 2009, Ulol wrote:

Happy 25th Birthday Gypsy!!!

I so wish to be there with you celebrating this amazing day, but as I can't, I send you lotsof e-love.

*hugs tightly*

I LOVE YOU!!!

On April 25, 2009, maryinoregon wrote:

Happy Happy Birthday Wendi.............wishing you al the happiness your heart can hold, on this special day of birth and always...........you inspire so many!!!!!

On April 25, 2009, sheryl miller wrote:

Happy Birthday Wendi!

I had posed this question in another post on this site, can't remember where now!
But I will post it here too
On my birthday I like to look back to last year's birthday to see what about me has changed!
What about you Wendi? What has changed about you


Hope there are lots of ovely surprises in store for your big day!
Sheryl Miller
Austrlaia

On April 25, 2009, randomguru wrote:

wishing much peace, love and joy to you on this special day... Happy Birthday, Wendi!

On April 25, 2009, Wendilou wrote:

Happy Happy Birthday, Miss Wendi Dee! I hope your day is a joyous as ever. ;)

On April 25, 2009, blaqberry wrote:

Very, very Happiest of Birthdays, Dearest Wendi. You give so much of your essence and touch many souls. I wish you a day that is beyond beautiful and filled with joy and blessings as you embark on another wonderful adventure around the sun. And love LOVE love abound...always. xo

Blaq Berry

On April 25, 2009, RawBin wrote:

Happy Birthday lovely lady!!! I'm sure you'll be glowing all day! :)

On April 25, 2009, RawBin wrote:

Seesmic video reply from Disqus.

On April 25, 2009, debbiedoesraw wrote:

That is the best present ever!
And Wendi, if you did not know it before, I think you now are sure....
You Are Loved!!!!!!!!!
Happy 25, can't wait for your 24th next year!!!
love love love deb

On April 25, 2009, Elizabeth wrote:

Happy Birthday Wendi. Thank you for being such a light in the world.

On April 25, 2009, Melissa wrote:

Happy Birthday Wendi!
What a beautiful book!!! I am so happy to be part of it, and thanks Jim for posting the whole thing! It is just beautiful.
We love you!
~ Melissa

On April 25, 2009, Revvell wrote:

Hey Girl! Happy, happy day to you and thank you Jim for inviting Bo and I to be a part of this special day!

Revvell

On April 25, 2009, Revvell wrote:

Hey Girl! Happy, happy day to you and thank you Jim for inviting Bo and I to be a part of this special day!

Revvell

(Did this twice since I had to figure out the system)

On April 25, 2009, Pixywinks wrote:

Happy Birthday Wendi GIRL!!!
Have lots of fun in this, your 25th year. Blessing and love all around. Kisses riding on the wind for you.
Much love!
P. Lis

On April 25, 2009, jill wrote:

Have a wonderful amazing Day of Incarnation, the sweetness of your eternal spirit always shows!

XOXO!!!

Jill

p.s. thank you to Jim for being such an awesome partner :)

On April 25, 2009, RawAllison wrote:

I'm glad to know Wendi's birthday was as special as she and her family are. And I love the phrase "Wendi s body has circled the sun more than 25 times." I'm gonna try to remember that one for birthdays!!

On April 25, 2009, Jenny wrote:

Not even having met you, Wendi, I can always feel your love for others online. Thank you so much for all you do for others. You are a true jewel in this world!!

Much love and birthday hugs,

Jenny

On April 25, 2009, fatima wrote:

May this be the beginning of the happiest birthdays of your life.
love joy and peace
fatima

On April 25, 2009, R_Eli wrote:

Happy Birthday, Wendi!!
Best wishes!!!
Keep shining!!!

On April 26, 2009, Jacki Harmon wrote:

Happy Birthday, Wendi! Thanks for all the gifts you've given us!! XOXOXOX

On April 26, 2009, DebB wrote:

Hi Wendi ~ I'm sending HUGE birthday wishes all the way from Washington State! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Debbie *�*

On April 26, 2009, Diane wrote:

Wendi have a blessed day as you have so blessed others.Because you have sown so
much enjoy the returns! Have many more circles around the sun, Love Diane

On April 26, 2009, anasha wrote:

let your light shine and radiate in every nook and corner of our beloved planet and beyond, and let me whisper happy birthday in your ears,thank you for being here

On April 26, 2009, Veganmimi wrote:

Happy Happy Birthday Wendi!!!!

On April 26, 2009, MindXdreamz wrote:

Happy, happy, happy birthday Wendi Dee!
hugs from Florida where the coconut grows :)
love
sheila

On April 26, 2009, Joanna_Steven wrote:

One happy birthday is never enough, here is another one :) <3

I will add to the notebook! I was afraid to sign the real thing, in case it got lost in transit after sending it back :(( I would have felt so awful. I hope you're having an amazing week!

On April 26, 2009, DiannerawGirl wrote:

Wendi,
So Happy Birthday.I had no idea it was your birthday.I was gone for a few days off computer.BUSY! And still wanted to wish you a Happy belated Birthday! Bye Dianne (DianneRawGirl)

On April 27, 2009, tinaintheraw wrote:

Happy Birthday beautiful Wendi!!

You are such a light in this world....I hope your day was filled with light and joy and wonder!

Hugs, Tina

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Ulol, my love!!! *blows kisses*

This birthday was THE BEST EVER! Even though you weren't physically here with me, it was extra special because I had your special contribution to my birthday book! It made me cry so much to see your page in the book. It was VERY special to me!

I miss you so very much! Thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment, but most of all for always sharing your love and friendship with me.

I love you, too!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thank you so very much, Mary!! It was THE BEST birthday EVER!!

I'm so happy that I can inspire others--all of you have given me so much love in return and that has meant the world to me!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks, Sheryl!

I responded to your original question a few minutes ago on the other blog post. :-)

Thanks, again!!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, Carlos!! Thanks for being a special part of my birthday gift, and for saying Happy Birthday to me on your blog, too!

I love you!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, WendiLou!!! It was The BEST birthday EVER!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Blaq Berry!!! You are always so loving to me. *hugs* Thanks for your sweet comment. :-) Thanks for being such a special part of my birthday gift!

I love you!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

I've been glowing all weekend, Rawbin!! It was THE BEST birthday EVER!! It lasted all weekend and continues through today as I read and respond to all of the love-filled comments that have been shared with me. :-)

I love you!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

My first video reply on the blog!!! I LOVE IT! I LOVE YOU!!

*blows kisses*

XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

It really IS the BEST PRESENT EVER!!! Jim says he's screwed for next year--no way to top this one! ;-)

I think you know me so very well. Yes, I didn't truly realize how much everyone does love and care for me. After this, how can I ever doubt? I am blissfully blessed.

Thank you so very much for being a part of my special gift, Debbie!

I love you!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Elizabeth!

Thanks so much! I had THE BEST birthday EVER!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, Melissa! Thanks for making my birthday celebration continue through Sunday, also! You are such a dear friend to me.

I love you!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thank you, Revvell and Bo!! I LOVE that you were both a part of my gift! It has been THE BEST birthday EVER! It's one I'll NEVER forget!

I love you both!

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, P. Lis!! Thanks for being a part of my gift, also. Jim said he was impressed with your artwork--he hasn't seen your paintings, yet, I told him! You are truly gifted!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Jill! Thanks for such a sweet comment. It was THE BEST birthday EVER! I can't even imagine a better one in another incarnation! :-)

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Oh, it WAS!! It was so very special Allison!! Thanks for being a part of my gift!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Jenny! You are very welcome--I love helping others.

I hope to one day meet you in person--maybe while we are on our cross-country tour!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Fatima! This was definitely the happiest and BEST birthday, ever!! Thanks so much!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks, R_Eli! I had a fabulous birthday!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks, Jacki!

You are very welcome for all of the gifts! I love giving to others!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

More birthday wishes from Debbie! Thanks so much!!

*blows kisses*

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, Diane! It was surely a blessed day for me!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Anasha! Thanks so much for your beautiful birthday wish!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks, Vebanmimi! I had a wonderful day!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Sheila! Thanks so much! I had the BEST birthday EVER!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes, Joanna!

Yes, please add to the special notebook. I welcome a page from anyone who wants to contribute. It is such a special gift to me; it's one that I will always cherish!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks, Dianne! It was a fantastic birthday!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, WendiDee wrote:

Thanks so much, Tina, for your sweet comment!

Yes, my day was absolutely filled with light and joy and wonder!! It was THE BEST birthday EVER!!

Lots of love to you,

Wendi
XOXOXO

On April 27, 2009, debbiedoesraw wrote:

The pleasure was all mine, I hope you pass that Birthday love down to all the future generations.. are you listening Kat ??
love you too!
Deb xoxoxo
PS Sam had fun with her drawing too, lest you think I drew that!!!!!hee hee

On April 29, 2009, Revvell wrote:

You're very welcome. It was our pleasure and what a GREAT idea Jim had!

On this beautiful May Day, I am thankful for creativity. We all have a creative ability within ourselves to imagine all kinds of things.In yesterday's post, about asking myself questions in order to make changes in my life, I talked about having an image in my mind of how I wanted my life to be in the near future. I was using my creative abilities to see my future as happy, vibrant, and healthy.

Jim here... As I hinted at last week, I decided to try changing things up a bit and seeing what I thought of it. The salad you see above included the first cooked food I've had in more than two years. If you look closely, you can see that I sprinkled on a few spoonfuls of black beans. Also, in the upper left corner, there's a small spoonful of quinoa. I don't want to give the wrong impression here: ?This blog will certainly remain a major go-to source for raw food nutrition information. It's just that, today, I want to talk about experimentation a little bit.

First, I think it's generally healthy to experiment with your diet -- especially when you get the sense that something isn't working in your current diet. The fact is, diet is a dynamic thing, not a static aspect of your life. It has to be this way because so many factors affect our physiology on a day-to-day basis. Off the top of my head, these include the facts that:

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.

Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).

When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.

But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).

Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."

Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...

Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.

In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.

So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...

Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.

So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).

Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.

But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!

For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.

In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On April 15, 2009, essie wrote:

Hey everyone!? I hope you're doing well. We started out the week with a great video from Joe, Tracey, and Heather. I thought I'd stay with the video blog format for a while, as I've been capturing some outstanding stuff here in Chicago. (We're here until Thursday.)? Well, a few of the vids are "okay," but the bulk of them are absolutely amazing, so be sure to check in every day for these great Chicago vids. (BTW, I'll dub this series, "The Chicago Raw Food Scene," although partially misleadingly so, as the videos are not always *about* Chicago, per se. Rather, we shot all of the videos *in* Chicago. So, pardon the slightly misleading banner graphic.)