For some odd reason, I've had the privilege of "doing Thanksgiving" with a lot of different friends and families over the years. Because of this, and of course just from talking with others and reading things others have posted, I'm fairly certain that Thanksgiving means different things to different people.For some, it's their favorite annual holiday and fills them with joyous memories of Thanksgivings past and incredible anticipation of Thanksgivings to come. Some historian friends of mine seem fascinated by the historical aspects of the holiday -- the whole story of the pilgrims, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, I've actually encountered a few people who take offense at the very idea of this holiday (and they've got some convincing reasons to protest the wider celebrations)!

While all holidays are certainly "food-centric" by tradition, it's arguable that no other holiday (at least here in America) can match Thanksgiving's reputation in terms of feasting. It's kind of funny when you think about it because many holidays (or, "holy days") are actually traditionally observed by abstaining from food. So, there are fasts, and feasts. I think the majority view, based on my own sampling of various friend and family traditions, seems to be: It's mostly about having a huge meal. Yes, there is certainly an undercurrent of being thankful out there. A few families I've been with have had traditional, almost ceremonial, activities that went along with the meal (e.g., going around the room, taking turns stating what you're grateful for).

Wow, I'm having a tough time keeping up with our fearless travelers! I thought I'd break their San Francisco adventures up into FOUR smaller posts made from Wendi's personal travelogue. I'll try to address everything they did chronoligically. There will be a video in this posts, videos in the next post, and a picture set at the end! Here's what she had to say about their first stop in Frisco:

For our San Francisco/Berkeley visit, we first met up with a college friend, Pete Guinosso, at Cafe Gratitude. It was fun catching up, and Pete treated KDcat and I to our meals. While at the table, I labeled Pete as the "Quote Man" because he had a fantastic book of quotes he has been collecting. He periodically read from it as our conversations brought specific quotes to mind. It was a beautiful collection of poems, which Pete said is his second book and is filling up quickly.

Cafe Gratitude lived up to its reputation of having a great vibe with pleasant servers and fantastic raw foods. I wondered, however, why there isn't a dish called "I am Love." (There is a drink called "I am Loved," but I was interested in one that claimed I AM Love. Maybe they'll come up with one for my next visit!) After leaving Cafe Gratitude, I have to admit I wasn't overly grateful to find a $40 parking ticket waiting on the rental car. OUCH! We kept the car parked there (since it was already ticketed), and Pete showed us around the Berkeley shopping area. It was a fun stroll on a beautiful sunny, California day.

According to Mike Adams of

"Many Florida oranges are actually dipped in an artificial orange dye in order to make them more visually appealing. It's the same dye that's been banned for use in foods because of cancer risk."

Continuing on, today, with Wendi's San Francisco travelogue:

While on our walk, Pete pointed out that in the building on our right there are some amazing kale chips being produced. Kale chips ! I asked if he was referring to raw food kale chips and he nodded. Of course, I had to investigate and find out who was producing them and possibly meet the person. Well, what a treat we were in for!

One of the workers directed us to an office nearby where we met a lovely woman named Blessing. It turns out, Blessing is the producer of the kale chips we received from our Official Snack Sponsor during our tour, Natural Zing. Not only does Blessing produce some of the most popular kale chips in the raw community, her company is also the manufacturer of the famously delicious "Raweo" cookies (which you can find on Natural Zing's site)!

I know this is our Fun-Filled Friday post, but I have to admit that most of today isn't going to be all that much fun. But, this weekend should be very enjoyable! We have some very special guests arriving tomorrow for a SUPER SPECIAL evening tomorrow night! Leela Mata, a beautiful spiritual teacher, has offered to visit my home and hold Satsang here. One of her extremely talented students, Devaki, will be joining her (and bringing a harmonium to play at Satsang!).

After our Oklahoma stop, we had back-to-back visits with family. During our 40-day tour, we had a great time at every place we stayed. There's something extra special about being with family, however. KDcat especially loved this part of the trip, where she could stay up late and sleep in every morning.

Our first stop was St. Louis, Missouri, to see Grandma and Grandpa Dee, and Aunt Jeanne. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, bought lots of organic produce, and prepared some raw dishes to share with everyone. We purchased a young coconut and KDcat used Grandpa's hatchet to show everyone how to open a young coconut. Jim's mother learned to make raw hummus, without chickpeas, and even agreed to be a guest chef for a Makin' It Monday raw food recipe video! So, we'll be sharing that with all of you in the near future! Aunt Jeanne loved the hummus, as well as the raw tacos we created. She seems to have a liking for raw foods, so who may be seeing another Dee online sharing info about raw foods in the future ! Grandpa is always a fan of apple pies, so he thoroughly enjoyed the pie we created during our visit. Grandpa and KDcat also spent some time talking about music, a passion for both of them.

Our second stop was Geneseo, Illinois, to visit with Aunt Cindy, Uncle Ray (who had to work during our visit), and cousin Destiny. KDcat and Destiny don't see each other very often, so this was a real treat. Destiny's a sweet girl who became a vegetarian over a year ago (she's the only vegetarian in her home)! That's a huge thing to do when you're just a young teenager and we're proud of her for taking her health into her own hands (and for saving the animals!). We took a lot of pictures while visiting. In the photoset, you'll see that somehow a monkey crawled onto KDcat's back and hung around with her most of one day (in which she was dressed up in quite the outfit!). That monkey found its way into all kinds of interesting places (in a park, playing on the slide, swing, etc., and even in the house playing the piano -- and I caught him trying to steal some of my bananas!). The weather was beautiful during our visit, so we spent a lot of time outside, walking and enjoying the beautiful time together. At this stop we created a raw apple crumble, which Aunt Cindy later modified with blueberries. We're gently nudging her to make a video of the recipe she created, so we can all see how it's made! It sounded delicious.

There is a lovely blanket of quietness covering Pittsburgh.Everything has been cancelled for the evening and people are staying home.Do you ever wonder what others do with their lives, how they spend their time when they are away from the rest of society and closed up in their own homes? I'm always curious---I think people are fascinating!

Over the weekend, we visited the spectacular Oregon Country Fair in Eugene and, once again, experienced a joyful and overwhelming sense of recognition that we're living in a place where people are much more accustomed to just being themselves.

Personal expression and nonconformity are so valued here that one becomes quickly enamored of the whole ambiance, which could well explain why more people come to Oregon than leave. The region seems to represent, to many, a chance to finally discover and explore an identity perhaps not completely free from outside influence, but at least free from the undesirable influences that society elsewhere seems to insist upon. Or maybe I'm misreading it all and providing just one of many interpretations.

Continuing on, again, with Wendi s San Francisco travelogue:

After leaving Pete and Blessing, we had a little time before our next meeting. So, KDcat and I explored San Francisco a bit. We saw the largest rainbow flag we've ever seen, experienced the steep hills (much steeper than the ones in Pittsburgh), and checked out an overview spot called Twin Peaks. Our San Francisco host taught us later that evening about how to "curb" your car and always apply the parking brake (which is necessary in a place with such steep hills).

Later we met up with Shivie and Cemaaj, who heard we'd be in town and invited us to visit them for a raw meal? in their home. Wow, what a delicious and beautiful meal we were served! Shivie and Cemaaj are gentle, loving people with a true gift for preparing and serving gourmet raw foods. We were honored to be invited to visit with them and loved them both instantly. They were a lot of fun getting to know, and very generous (sending raw foods with us before we left to eat and share with our San Franciso host). Cemaaj is also a gifted musician and taught KDcat some rhythms on the djembe African drum, which she quickly learned and enjoyed very much! Cemaaj is a gifted teacher and great with kids. It was fun watching him ease her into the instrument, which she now says she'd love to own and practice on!

Jim here... Back in November of 2010, my friends Joe Prostko, Heather Harris, and I decided to replicate an unusual experiment we'd heard about. Reportedly, some people with health issues had found improvement in their live blood samples after simply grounding themselves for a period of time. We all thought it was interesting enough to try on ourselves, so the above video is the result. ?Since it's 8+ minutes long, I'll spare you any suspense: The results were absolutely inconclusive. (However, we did have fun with it, as you'll see.)

NOTE: The site I'd posted the video on, BlipTV, seems to have gone out of business. Will have to see if I can find the video again and post on youtube.

Those consuming a raw food diet sometimes use a dehydrator to prepare raw food dishes. They do this at low temperatures, below the point of actually cooking the foods, to intensify flavors, reduce the amount of moisture in the dish, and sometimes to take the chill off something they'd rather serve a bit warmer than straight out of the refrigerator. There is a practice that we've seen, however, that is actually cooking the very foods were taking such great measures to consume raw! Let me share an experience I had when I first started eating raw foods, that will help explain how some of us may be cooking our foods by mistake.

In the beginning of eating raw foods, my entire family loved the Vegetable Stir-Dont-Fry I used to make (you can find that recipe in the free eBook you downloaded when you first visited our site). One day I created a double recipe so we could eat more the next day, without going through the process of preparing it again fresh. The following day I took the bowl of Stir-Dont-Fry out of the refrigerator and put it into the dehydrator to take the chill off. It wasn't warming up fast enough on such a low temperature, so I thought I'd just cover the dish a little bit to trap in some of the heat that seemed to leave each time I checked the dish and stirred it around. So, I took a plate and placed it on top of the bowl with about an inch, or two, opening.