Archive for January, 2012


The established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities.

Let us break it down. We all are submissive to some form of dogma. Think of the doctrines held by the two major political parties:
Dems-Let us tax and spend.
Repubs-Take from the poor and give to the rich.
Tea Party-No taxes, no roads, no schools.
Occupy Movement-You all suck.

I am sure most of us are PERSUADED one way or another into one of these categories, or we entirely embrace the dogma of the party. When we embrace, we feel righteous, when we disagree with someone else’s dogma, we feel self-righteous.

It also applies to beliefs held by society as a whole. Capitalism, for example, is embraced by our society in the West, pretty much on the whole, with certain political parties embracing it as dogma.

Yoga, of course, becomes dogmatic too. The reason for this post, is that I was reading some comments on the Exodus of Amy Ippolitti, Christina Sell, and Darren Rhodes from the Anusara camp. The amazing thing is that there is NO dirt on it. I have looked. John Friend runs a TIGHT ship.

Most of the speculation just revolves around these senior teachers no longer embracing the philosphy of Anusara. I have speculated before they probably embrace SOME of the philosophy but have gained a larger view of yoga from their own experience.

Of course there is always a MONEY aspect. I am going to guess these teachers have enough notoriety to roll on their own and didn’t feel the need to embrace the dogma of Anusara. This has happened to other schools of yoga. Bikram, for instance, has had defectors from his school. John Friend himself, left the Iyengar school after working with Mr. Iyengar for years.

I think dogma is useful to a point. We do NEED teachers like Friend, Iyengar, and Bikram who have a philosphy. They have a core of principles of teaching stemming from their teachers and their own experience. Being entrenched in dogma is useful, to a point, as it is a springboard of learning. We need these teachers and we need them to remain steadfast in their teachings. When our experienced teachers lose their faith in their belief system, we sort of all crumble. It happens in politics ALL THE TIME.

So yeah for Bikram.

I am SURE he would agree.

But again, dogma can be problematic when we can’t see anything else. If someone talks TOO much to me about THEIR teacher and won’t listen to anything else, I shut it out pretty quickly. And the reason is, one day their teacher, who is human, will fail them. THAT I am certain about. If you lose your faith in someone due to their humanity, you end up with nothing.

So to me, the good sign about teachers leaving their school is GROWTH. The best comment I heard was they didn’t leave YOGA. SO TRUE.

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The media is hitting this from all sides lately. I think this is good discussion and the yoga community should view it that way. It is easy to get defensive and just argue that it is up to the student blah blah blah.

From the student persepective you are responsible to find the appropriate class. Just because your friend likes fast moving hot power flow, does NOT mean it is right for you. You should take into consideration:

Your overall health, age, any injuries or preexisting conditions.

You should investigate the various styles of yoga and try several before sticking to one.

You should research the teachers you work with. What is their level of experience? Are they approachable. If you walk into a studio and introduce yourself, the teacher should ask YOU if you have injuries or preexisting conditions. If you KNOW you might need modifications ask BEFORE class, not after. It is too late.

The teachers responsbility is to know what they know. What are your limitations? If a student asks you a question you don’t know are you open to expressing it and offering to research? Are you able to refer them to a teacher better equipped to help them?

The yoga community, in my mind, should be taking these articles and discussion as an opportunity. Although the articles are not well researched, very general, and don’t offer much information we need to reflect on this and see the direction we are moving towards.

In my mind, the yoga community is growing so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up on all that is happening. However, from my view there are more tools available for teachers. A teacher should be looking past their 200 hour training in order to be able to help students. There are workshops and trainings available all over the place. The teacher should be looking at different areas they are interested in and refine their skills. There are a LOT of opportunities to specialize. You can focus on therapeutic yoga, the focus of alignment, or move into more subtle practices, such as pranayama. Students want to learn more, and you have opportunites available to you. Go and learn! Don’t stop being a student.

I took three of the workshops at Inner Fire this weekend taught by Theresa Murphy and learned so much. I had a fun time doing it, was able to meet some new people, and refined my own practice. Win Win Win all around.

No one can learn everything, but teachers need to be there to support students and students should just keep seeking new teachers. There is so much to learn and the yoga community in general is passionate and I feel will continue to grow in a health direction.

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If it isn’t done with a little humor it is NO FUN. I am ALL about the fun.

As I transition to veganism and study more, I can see the reason my ADDICTION to sugar and processed foods was affecting my life. NOW that I have no cravings, I am trying to figure out what to do with the MENTAL exercise of being absorbed in addiction. I haven’t found that answer yet. Meditation certainly helps, but I can’t meditate 24 hours a day. If I could, I would.

I am reading Brandon Braziers book THRIVE. I think I covered his idea that our pursuit in life should go above and beyond HEALTH, although that is a noble purpose. As a triathlete, of course, his goal is to WIN and to go BEYOND what he thinks he is capable of, so in the pursuit of health, he wants the same, thus to THRIVE. To feel at your highest potential at all times.

Yesterday I was reading his section on STRESS and it totally hit home. He talks about cortisol levels in the body and how whent they are elevated when we are not eating at a nutritionally optimal level, that we have stress. Stress inhibits our sleep. Yup, that would be ME. When I am sleep deprived, I am not able to do much and that is hard on days when I have a LOT on the schedule, which is pretty much most days. I notice since I have changed my diet a lot, that I sleep really sound and hard most nights. When I am rested I feel less stressed no matter what I have to do.

I linked the book to Amazon if you are interested. I am reading it on Kindle and will write more on it later. He also has a great recipe book too. I haven’t tried any yet.

I find most people are fearful of not getting enough protein when they move to a plant based diet. I am NOT a tofu or seitan eater, so I rely mainly on beans, but a lot of plant based foods DO have protein.

It is necessary to supplement with B12 and vitamin D. I know I need to watch the Omegas too and figure out how to be consisten on that.

Amazon.com Widgets

My practice on Tuesday was the full primary series and yesterday Forrest backbend focus. I find when I do the primary series I am NOT ready for the urdhva dhanurasana at the end, but when I warm up with a lot of Forrest, I can do like five of them. I have definitely TRAINED my body for the last couple of years with Forrest yoga. When I practice the intermediate series I have no problem warming up for wheel since there are so many backbends.

Not sure what my practice will be later today, probably gentle since I will be doing a lot in the workshops this weekend and am tired today. I might just haul the bolsters out for some restorative if I have time.

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Last night I was tweeting live the State of the Union and noticed a tweet from AMy Ippoliti that she is leaving the Anusara family. (Damn, Yogadork beat me on this today!)

That is the third teacher in the last few months. Wonder if Noah Maze is next. I am not surprised Amy left at all. She has a large following and can certainly sustain the workshop circuit on her own notoriety. It is all just growth and independence is a good thing.

The only thing odd is that Friend is breaking out with a huge worldwide tour. Anusara yoga is growing fast right now and it is world wide. But I totally get not sticking with one dogma too long. I get that. It always surprises me when someone can’t move past their ‘teacher’ to learn anything new. Good luck to Amy.

I just noticed she is at Moksha in May and is advertising the weekend workshop as Anusara so that could change. I was actually thinking about attending a few of these because I know people who speak highly of her.


The big news for Madison Wisconsin is that Bhakti Fest Midwest will be here at the end of June. I will certainly attend. There isn’t a lot of informtation yet on what yoga teachers are attending this besides Saul David Raye and some teachers from Chicago. Darien Friesen owns Moksha yoga (the BEST in the Chicago area) and Sara Ivanhoe among others, whatever that means. The list of bhakti musicians and singers is impressive, so maybe my husband will go. He has seen Wah! and David Stringer and enjoyed them very much.

So Madison people sign up early. I can’t wait.


I am sure there will be more info forthcoming.

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Transitioning from juicing to eating my veggies/fruits raw:

Picking a rug out for the family room:

The winner!:

Studying veganism and trying new recipes. I am reading the book THRIVE by Brandon Brazier. He is a high performance triathlete who is promoting veganism. I just started the book, but right away I like his emphasis on focusing not just on health, which is a good reason to move to plant based diet, but to live your best life. For a lot of people, learning to feel healthy is a huge step, especially for people ADDICTED to caffeine, sugar, and processed foods. Once you eliminate these foods and replace them with raw/plant based foods, the cravings are ELIMINATED. If you are ADDICTED to these foods, the initial aftermath of losing the cravings, is dealing with mental/emotional crap associated with the addiction.

A lot of people were all over Paula Deen last week for hiding the fact she has diabetes for the past three years while she was promoting her tv show, cookbooks, etc. Um. Okay. Money talks. She is promoting the drug she is taking to control her diabetes. I understand people being upset over the hypocrisy of it but if you don’t know better than to fry your cheesecake, don’t blame Paula. Look at your politicians. They do the same thing. You can choose what you eat and can’t choose what they spend your tax dollars on. Nuf said.

I also have worked on getting the second session of teacher training up and running at Inner Fire Yoga Center. I worked with the new group all weekend. I love them already. Can’t wait to work with them again.

This weekend I am going to ALL of the workshops with Theresa Murphy at Inner Fire:


Go. Sign up now for the Prajna intensive. I NEVER miss Theresa when she comes to town.

I am also planning my own trainings I want to attend this year. First up is Tias Little in April. Theresa is one of his senior teachers. I love his teachings

Will have more yoga stuff up soon.

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TOmorrow night Dar and I are doing the three hour yin workshop. Why go to this? Not only will you get deep into your body but the whole class is experiential

Yin is the practice that is integral to yang. In order to have a balanced practice you need both. The beauty in Yin is the FEELING of the pose and inward focus. Drawing further into oneself and looking at the experience of the pose allows you to experience your life force. The letting go in the pose allows you to give in a little. We all spend so much time in our lives TRYING to do something. What about not trying for a few hours.

The experience of the poses with aroma is like nothing else. Dar spends hours and hours coming up with the right formulas and how to bring them into our sequencing. Here is her take on the experience of aroma with Yin:

Aromatherapy and Yoga simply go together organically… Both improve health and give a sense of well-being; and can ease pain and stiffness when used as massage or with direct application. In Yin Yoga, Dar uses small batch, home made aerosol mists which fan out in the air above the practicioner and who can enjoy the unique blends and frangrances while remaining in challenging Yin postures. Dar has also created Rubs with exquiste carrier oils (almond oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil) and infuses them with powerful anti-spasmotic Essential Oils like Basil and Marjoram and Wintergreen…. for the foot rubs after “broken toe: … Roll-ons are oils in roller bottles that are applied to the neck or lower back during “Dangling” or before neck stretches.. Perhaps the powerful moments in the classes are when we are doing pranayama breathing and using the diving essences of Frankincense, Lavender, Rosewood or Balsam Fir….the entire crown chakra seems to light up…. Aroma Yin is a wonderful journey into the limbic system through scent and into the deepest tissue releases with long held asanas…
It has been proven that up to 21 % more oxygen is detected in the brain with inhalation of certain (Frankincense) Essential oils.
Historically Frankincense gum has been burned in temples, churches and place of worship for millennia–
Vaporized, frankincense creates a beautiful, calm atmosphere perfect for meditation or introspective yoga practices like Yin. Simple Lemon Essential Oil , extracted from the rind of a lemon is a wonderful, zesty oil from Sicily. Lemon is an anti-depressant, is uplifting and energizing; an immune booster! Dar created two mists using lemon, orange and grapefruit, lime and tangerine which are sprayed around the students to remind them to breathe deeply in practice, and to refresh the air while delivering a sense of well-being… Aroma Yin is amazing and you can still enroll on line for Saturday Jan 14, 6:30PM -9-something……and please be On Time!!

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It all started with the following article:


Where did they get the pics of the Inner Fire Yoga Studio students? I kid you. No one looks like that in our studio. How fun. I wish they would come to my class.

Problem number one with the article:

“Then, in 2007, while doing the extended-side-angle pose, a posture hailed as a cure for many diseases, my back gave way. With it went my belief, naïve in retrospect, that yoga was a source only of healing and never harm.”

While yoga poses have the powers of healing this person it seeking, coming to a general class is not going to help you out with any specific issues. Ruptured disk? Are you kidding me. This person needs private lessons for this issue and even a good structural yoga therapist. Yoga can only be healing to specific issues on a one on one basis. He even gets this response from the yoga teacher:

“Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”


“To come to New York and do a class with people who have many problems and say, ‘O.K., we’re going to do this sequence of poses today’ — it just doesn’t work.”

AGREED Then there is a long lecture on ego. Yes, we get it. No place for ego in the yoga studio. Also I know the yoga teacher he is referring to about the hips, Beryl Bender Birch had a hip replacement. Big secret. She isn’t hiding it from anyone.

I love this case for someone with a debilitating injury:

“In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice. He would sit upright on his heels in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs.”

This is the fault of yoga or some teacher? This student sounds like an idiot. If he hadn’t done this, I just have the feeling he would be doing something else equally idiotic. I had a student once who wanted to sit in lotus so he spent four hours one day in a steam room in lotus. Of course he got injured. No one told him to do that. Idiot. WOW

Then there is the whole Iyengar controversey. Iyengar taught to lift the shoulders on three blankets. That IS how it should be practiced. It gives the neck the room it needs. All of the Iyengar people have responded to this.

If this statistic is correct it doesn’t surprise me:

“What were the most serious yoga-related injuries (disabling and/or of long duration) they had seen? — revealed that the largest number of injuries (231) centered on the lower back. The other main sites were, in declining order of prevalence: the shoulder (219), the knee (174) and the neck (110).”

Especially the low back. Deep forward bending can cause pain and disk issues if modifications aren’t given. And they should. Yoga students should be instructed to bend knees, use props, or avoid the deep bend. Also shoulders for people who practice a lot of flow or Ashtanga and the knees are generally vulnerable in most athletic endeavors. I have knee issues and I have learned how to use yoga to heal knees. So if you have knee problems just ask.

Here are some responses from some of the top yoga teachers:

John Friend, Anusara “Thanks to the New York Times for bringing up the potential risks involved doing such a transformative practice as hatha yoga. However, the hatha yoga practice can have amazing therapeutic and physical benefits when done with a positive attitude, good alignment, and balanced action.”

Eddie Stern, Ashtang “There are a couple of obvious reasons why there are so many injuries in yoga. First, perhaps, is overzealousness on the part of the student – this is a natural response for a particular type of person when it comes to any activity that has physicality associated with it – no matter what a teacher may caution.

The second is more troublesome, and that is the value system that forms the basis of the yoga ‘industry’ in America; a model that for all intents and purposes is based on economic incentive. Sounds cynical of me? As a five-billion-dollar-a-year product oriented industry, it would be hard to argue otherwise. America is good at jumping at opportunities – and when it comes to making the holy dollar, no cow is too sacred to be sacrificed in the West.”

Then there is a second article I would like to touch on:


This is just poor journalism. This woman goes to one class, with David Regelin, does an interview, and comes to this conclusion:

“David Regelin was a rising star in the yoga world, until he decided that he, and you, were doing everything wrong.”

Reading both articles it appears, as with most new students, that the writers are really entering an unknown domain and appear intimidated by yoga. Everyone is their first time. I wondered how they picked the teachers to practice with, Black and Regelin. I wonder how much they researched the different styles of yoga before choosing a class. Regelin has a LONG response, the best one I think, right here:


Among the highlights:

“In reality while I teach I make my way around the room to help and adjust as many people as I can, I get blocks/blankets etc. for those in need, while describing the geometry, natural form, and function of the given pose. The “red faced middle aged man” that I am supposedly telling “not to perform” is a dear student whom I know well, and that guy is definitely not coming to class to perform for anyone, he gets red sometimes because he works too hard, and he is in class because I give him personal attention whenever he shows up.”

“And I do think it is all too commonplace and easy for Vinyasa teachers to offer a fleeting workout experience with a fun music playlist. Students don’t know what they don’t know. I want my students to become skillful: skill defined not only as physical ability, but the mental capacity to make distinctions.”
Preaching to the choir David!

Then he speaks of his shift from teaching intense fitness styled yoga to a more introspective yoga:

“Handstand classes with music and long flowing sequences are par for the coarse now, and there is nothing wrong with them necessarily. I have simply moved on. It worked for me then, I was younger and I had a mere 200 hours of training, and hadn’t yet developed my teaching skills.”

“When I found Nevine I was a wounded soldier of Yoga. I pushed myself and injured myself so consistently that I had begun to wonder if yoga was actually beneficial and transformational, or if it was just an awesome sport. When I began to apply Nevine’s method of centering to my own practice all of that changed. I couldn’t keep it to myself, I couldn’t go on teaching as I had before, I am so much more capable now than I ever was and I used to work so much harder at it. Good form functions.

I changed the name of my class as an attempt to appeal to those who were searching for something mystical, revelatory, and profound within their Yoga experience. I was showing up to teach, turning down (not off) the music, and asking people to examine the pattern and relationship between the content of their consciousness and that of their own posture, instead of concerning themselves with what the people around them were doing.”

I featured David one time on my blog and here is a video of David:

So a HUGE shift for him. Obviously as a capable practitioner, he taught what he knew and people LOVE this stuff. IT is fun. BUT, he also shifted when this sort of practice was not serving his body, and his teaching shifted too.

Teachers do need to take responsbility for their students and keep shifting in their own experience. The teacher should be working on learning new skills constantly. I work as a teacher trainer for a 200 hour program and I tell the trainees to take workshops, keep researching, and stay on top of your anatomy. Students WILL get injured and it is your job to alleviate it. I hope sincerely that articles such as these do not harm the teachers pointed out in the yoga articles. I also hope it doesn’t give fodder to those that disdain the practice.

Be specific teachers and LISTEN to students. They WILL give you feedback and your job is to HELP them and find out what you can do. Your job is seva to the community. A service. Something you give of yourself.

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That is a clip from the movie Enlighten Up. The name is slipping my mind but I have it at home. It is a documentary filmed by a woman very ingrained in the yoga system and about a regular guy she challenges to try a lot of yoga and see if he can be transformed. He goes to all of the major yoga studios in New York, Jivamukti, Bikram yoga, and works with Alan Finger and just doesn’t get it. So finally he goes to India and talks to the real yoga teachers, such as Patabhi Jois, in this clip. Anyway a famous quote of his, Practice, Practice, Practice and shut the f up. I added that at the end.

I love that his answer is so basic and always comes back to the sutras. Yoga is about calming the mind. Period. That is it. How do you do it? You just DO it. A lot of yogis want to delve into his true meaning and here is Richard Freeman’s answer:

Richard says:

One could speculate (as many have) for a long time about what he meant by that statement; and I suspect he considered this from a number of different viewpoints. To Pattabhi Jois you couldn’t separate asana from the other limbs of the practice, so certainly he was not only referring to asana as the practice. At the same time, he was very clear in his teaching that the mind–in the form of too much fear, too much analyzing, etc.–can hinder an asana practice. So part of what he intended referred to this; keeping the practice fluid without the interruption of mind wandering (and theorizing) via the joining together of opposite patterns of breath and movement.

Again, Richard brings it back to the basics of the power of breath. So the practice is just about the most basic elements of yoga, breath + asana = stillness of mind. Throw in a few yamas and niyamas and you got a yoga lifestyle.

Tomorrow I am going to post about the New York Times article on Yoga. No one at my studio has brought this up but is a major topic in the yoga world this week. My ballroom dance teacher did mention it last night though. A lot of great responses from great teachers and a special one that particularly resonated with me.

My practice today is after work today since dance is so late on Wednesday. Last night my husband and were able to dance with the teachers. I love these lessons. The teacher knows the steps, doesn’t step on my toes, and I don’t have to lead. (I get yelled at for this all the time.) I know enough to try to not lead a professional teacher. Boyan and I did a mad push pull at the end of the lesson. Super fun! John really enjoyed dancing with our new female teacher, Marina. She is a cute little blonde and smiles all the time. I don’t blame him.

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In order to make a goal of a training I want to go to in 2013, I have to be in the practice of the Intermediate Series of Ashtanga. Yesterday I did the FULL primary with a split from morning until afternoon. I love the primary because there are a lot of hip openers. I have been pretty deep in the hip rotators every day since last Saturday and all I can say is, get me a can opener for these hips.

The intermediate series is a little deeper in the backbends and I love the sequence of the poses. I really love bhekasana:

I do a half on one side and then rotate to the other. It really gets me deep into my knees and my heels ARE getting closer to the floor. Another pose I am enjoying is laghu vajrasana:

I have been working on kapotasana for a while and this is a good halfway pose from ustrasana. I am going deeper in this pose and it is helping me with kapotasana. Today I was looking at Richard doing kapotasana and I noticed he really is bending deep in the upper spine and I just haven’t done that. So that shifted me a little.

My worse poses in the series are vatayanasana:

I just can’t rotate my hip like that so I do a real sissy mod for it. Ha ha. Really SAD. LOL My other one is dwi pada sirsanana:

I just keep working in yoga nidrasana during this. This pose moves into a hand balance so one I get that can opener working, I am sure I can do the fun hand balance.

Then there is chakrasana and the jumps in chaturanga. OKAAAYYYYYY. But I do work on it. If I can keep this rotation going I am sure I will progress quickly until I hit a wall.

The vegan/juicing thing is really helping me with energy. I have the energy to get up in the morning to do this vigorous series and get nice and sweaty etc right in my living room. (Turn your head if you don’t like to hear this, but I really don’t need extra heat for my practice. Sorry.) I know people who will be OFFENDED by that. Too bad. My blog I will say what I want. Plus, the intermediate and primary series are intense enough. Excess heat not needed.

The intermediate series moves FAST. That is another challenge for me. So I skip a few vinyasas and try to hang in the poses I need work in. Richard warns at the beginning how LONG it may take and to be patient and have fun. ASANA should be FUN! I had fun.

I didn’t make the raw carrot cake. I am hoping Sunday and will post a pic for you.

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Pretty well thank you. This mornings orange/strawberry (my favorite):

I was busy the last few days and was working on a political post after watching the Republican debates on Saturday and seeing a LONG article on Rick Santorum’s tax plan. (All the Republicans are pretty much throwing out similar drivel.) I thought a long post on why flat tax is not equitable would be appropriate, but I trashed it. I used to be a tax auditor so just a hint. When a politician tries to make these ‘simple, easy, fair’ plan sound good, they aren’t. They don’t understand how the tax code works any more than most normal people do. They are just politicizing a topic that annoys everyone. Taxes. Um. Yes, so their tax plans totally favor the rich like everything else and especially this one so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I had to transition from all juice on Saturday to a juice/vegan plan that includes food since the following happened to me:

1. I turned into an insomniac.
2. I turned into a raging bitch.
3. I wasn’t able to practice a strong yoga session although I was feeling very flexible.

So besides the juice I am having this today:

The recipe is in the current yoga journal. It is a really delciious kale/white bean soup. For dinner I will have more juice and maybe some steamed spinach, mushrooms, and onions. Not sure yet. But I did practice most of the primary series with Richard this morning and will be able to finish the rest this afternoon.

So it is all good. I highly recommend juicing but would be careful about committing to it long term. It is good for a short term detox and I watched the moving, Fat, Sick, and Dying. I get it. Love how it worked for Joe and LOVE the work he is doing, but it isn’t for everyone like I said. Anyway, I juiced for two weeks straight and am glad it is done, but still love the juices.

I am going to incorporate some food/recipes as I explore this and I am going to make a huge carrot juice tonight and use the pulp to make raw carrot cake. I hate throwing all that pulp away and yes I will start composting for the garden.

Speaking of gardens, with the warm and dry water, I keep looking in the back yard and wonder if the asparagus is going to shoot up or what. I am not complaining about no snow and am fine with Wisconsin weather this winter so far.

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