April 19, 2013
Today is Grocery List Day. I should be working on that now. I ought to have my laptop, recipe binder, and notebook spread open on the table hacking away at my biggest chore, but my stomach feels wretched today and I can't get myself there. So I'm here, writing to you about it instead.
I've written before about meal planning, and my family watches me do it every week, but most people (unless they themselves are meal planners) don't understand what goes into it. For my family it can become an over-the-top chore. I meal plan for several reasons, but reason numero uno is protecting my family's health. We are a family who eats a very specialized diet. My health depends on it. My husband's functionality at work depends on it. With a disease like Fibromyalgia hanging out in the dark corners, snarling it's threat to return, there is little space for dietary screw ups. My efforts here keep me off the drugs, and out of the doctors' offices. The way I eat means everything for the way my life feels. My husband fought against ADHD for most of his life, having been put on Ritalin at a very early age, and trying it again when he was in his 20s, because it affected his concentration at work. Now days, Jeff gets up at 5am, studies for a half hour before leaving for work, arrives at work more than an hour early so that he can study some more, works for four hours without ever peaking at crap like Facebook or Slashdot, studies at lunch, and works for four more hours before heading home. Then he squeezes in another hour of studying before bed at night. Ya'll I'm not sure that I could concentrate that long. He is brain tired when he lays down at night, and it's all allowed by his nutritional choices. The Jeff I know now is hardly the same person as the Jeff I knew before we made the food changes in our life. It's important to us.
However, we are humans of the modern American era. We are tempted. We are tempted by friends who eat differently, by convenience, by cravings, by newness. We are tempted just as much as anyone else. So, another aspect of my meal planning is to alleviate the pressure of those temptations by making my menu more tempting. My menu needs to tempt us home on a Saturday night when we're thinking we want to stay in town and eat out. My menu needs to pull me out of my life and into the kitchen every single day for lunch and dinner. My menu needs to present meals that don't give me whining kids, or bored adults. My menu needs to protect my ability to stick to the food that keeps us who we are.
While I follow guidelines for our diet: No grains, Only whole food ingredients, No prepared or packaged foods, etc., I also have to be mindful of meeting the actual nutritional needs beyond the rules. I have to make sure that our overall consumption is balanced in favor of health and development, not just flavor and convenience. It's taken me years of studying to work out what this looks like.
But convenience is a factor too. I love food. But I don't get my jollies off of spending my life in the kitchen. Four or five days a week, I don't wanna. Lunchtime comes too fast, dinner sneaks up on the tail of lunch, and I still wanted to go to the library. I can't expect myself to be in the kitchen peeling garlic, and making marinades every night. I won't get in the kitchen and cook up a soup, or chop a salad for lunch every day. It ain't gonna happen, and if I don't know that when I make my menu, then I'm going to waste time and money. I'm going to wind up throwing away food that didn't get made, spending on something to eat instead, and blowing time on a menu that's going to stare at me accusingly from the fridge while I avoid eye contact. Convenience is a factor.
Money is a factor. With Jeff working for non-profits who routinely cannot pay on time, or at all, we haven't cracked $40k in years. That's 5 mouths, a herd of animals, a house, a car, and life to squeeze in without ever stepping away from a wholly organic diet. Budgeting is a factor ya'll. There were times when the only thing in the store that I could afford where organic potatoes, bok choy, acorn squash, and soup bones. Money is a major factor.
At the end of the day I've got to meet the needs of a highly specialized healing diet, three snobbish palates, two finnicky little girls, having a life outside the kitchen, and not collapsing under the weight of organic food prices. There ought to be a degree program for this. It's been a long process to get where I am - that I feel that I can consistently meet all those requirements, no matter what. Even five months of no income.
Every Friday around 11am I realize that it's Grocery List day, and I think, "UGH!" But when I'm done I feel damn good. Like I just finished a marathon. I'm proud of the years of research and practice that back up the achievement of each week's menu. I'm relieved that I have a list that prevents me from having to step foot in a store more than once per week, and that I know, within 5 dollars, how much it's all going to cost at the checkout. I'm satisfied that my menu rivals any restaurant, and that cleanness aside, it will taste better too. I know that when I get home I have animals and gardens that will save me hudreds of dollars a month, and I know, without a doubt, that everything we've been through has given me the peace of mind of knowing that nothing in my life feels out of control anymore. Not even something as complicated as this. I know that not even for a billion dollars would I go back and choose a different path, or wish that I could skip over any part of the past 5 years.
We wanted to learn, and we really, really are. We wanted to be different, and boy are we.
Now, off to do The List.
April 17, 2013
Do you use Pinterest?
Share your points of view on Facebook?
Use online forums and bulletin boards?
Download books, encrypt your private emails, wish to surf the net annonymously?
Use the internet without knowing if every site you use, every link you follow, every post you share is 100% within the murky lines of the law?
Do you want your online viewing habits gathered and sold to your government and private companies?
Did you hear about the Aaron Swartz tradgedy, but not truly understand what happened? Do you use RSS feeds? Do you benefit from a free and open Internet? Then you owe something of your daily life to Aaron Swartz, and many other internet visionaries like Steve Jobs, who's careers would have been deemed illegal (under CISPA rule) long before they created the products and applications that you use every. day.
Have you ever considered whether or not everyday use of the internet by millions of users may actually be breaking ambiguous laws? Have you ever followed a link and asked yourself if doing so could land you with 15 years in prison?
If a new law, which the House will vote on tomorrow; Thursday, April 18th; passes, you will care about the answer to each and every one of those questions. Everything you know about online privacy will be removed, and individual, wholly clueless, average internet users will find themselves in violation of the new law. There will be a parade of Aaron Swartzes and you may be among them.
Sound dramatic? It is. There is nothing about this that isn't over the top, Big Brother, 1984, Eye In The Sky, You Live Under the Rule of the Capitol. It's dystopian movie worthy, ya'll, and you need to act today.
The largest internet protest since we managed to stop CISPA's first attempt, SOPA , is being organized right now. This works people, and it takes little of your time and effort. Please take a moment to sign the petition and call your reps. Following this link will take you to an app that will provide you with the phone numbers for your local representatives, and a script to follow when you call.
It's simple. It took me less than 2 minutes to call all of mine.
1. Ring the number and wait for the attendant to answer, "Rep/Sen _____'s Office."
2. You say, "My name is __________, and I'm calling to urge _______ to VOTE NO on HR 624, the so called Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act; CISPA.
3. If you feel like it, you can add that CISPA is a serious violation of your 4th Amendment privacy rights, and that an online protest, to rival the one which stopped SOPA, is underway. If you don't feel like adding that then skip on to Step 4.
4. They will ask you for your zipcode and thank you for calling. Say "Thank You" back ;-)
That's it you guys. That's all there is to it. 45 seconds of your time. Even if you don't understand CISPA, what it has to do with you, or how it might ever effect you or your children, it won't take but 2 minutes of your time to make sure that you never have to learn.
Please. I have no interest in being turned into a Cyber Criminal, and you can take my word for the fact that I will not be alone if it passes.
March 29, 2013
I've always loved hallways. Such a silly, small, inconsequential thing; a hallway. Unimportant. Yet, I have always loved them. I have so many memories of hallways. Memories as a child, when they were so much larger than me. Ceilings soaring up, doorknobs up above my head. Each hallway may as well have been as grand as a Hogwarts passageway.
Our cabin in Taos has no hallways. Each room built onto the next as it took shape between one century and the next... the very idea of the house changing with time.
Jeff's grandmother has a nice hallway. A long, Texas, ranch-style affair, with one hallway running half the length of it, dark, with doors along either side, and a closet at the end.
This apartment has a hallway too. So tiny it's hardly a hallway at all, and yet it is. This little space that has no purpose except to lead you to another space. It's a non space, an in-between. Quiet, still and dark as a closet, but not so committed.
I love the closed darkness. The potential. Where do you go from a hallway? Pick a door. Any door. Each time you enter a hallway you get to make a choice. Shall I go to the bedroom? Laundry? Bathroom? This way, or that?
Nobody lingers in the hall. If you are there, others will walk past you, on their way to somewhere else. They'll not give you a notice, for what attention worthy thing could you be doing in the hall??
I like to move through them slowly. Not oddly, just... without certain purpose in my step. I like to move from room to room. Pick up something in one room, move slowly through the quiet, dark space of the hall, to put it away in another room. Closing doors, or turning off lights behind me to protect the separateness of the hallway.
No one else uses the hallway like this, making it seem like it's not really there, like only I go to the hallway. It's my space, where no one can find because they can't see it. To them it's not a space at all.
This is what I like about travel. Not all, but this feeling is necessary to the experience of travel for me. To be in between. To be nowhere, because you haven't yet arrived anywhere, and you have become unconnected to the place you have left. The world leaves you alone in that space. For what could you possibly do from there, from your space in Nowhere? In a hallway, in a road trip, a plane, a train... you are neither here, nor there. Just floating in the between, allowed to be. No distraction from the sights, sounds, scents... able to see the light from somewhere else glinting off the knob in the dark hallway, feel the fabric of the seat beneath you on the train, or the the smell of the air change as you move through the geography, because what else must you do, other than be there?
This is what I remember about the feeling of being a child. The opportunity for invisibility. Connected to nothing. As a child the house is not yours, you are simply in it. Beds are not for lying on, they are just beds. You can be on them, behind them... they are for jumping, or hiding in the silent, disappearing place beneath them.... the blankets do not belong to the bed, they are simply there for the taking... potential forts, lakes, capes...
All things are potential when you are a child. No thing is definite. Even when you are told that it is, you have the secret knowledge, kept safe and quiet inside you, that it is not, that you will do it differently, that nothing is certain in your world. As we age, and our experience begins to hold disappointment, we begin to believe in certainties, unavoidables, laws, and fate. The world starts to lose it's expansiveness and becomes defined, a superficial, one dimensional image of the richly possible world we once knew.
Blankets belong neatly on the bed. You cover with them. You straighten them. You might wash them, but you do not wear them, read your book in a world beneath them. Forks are for picking up food. They are not bridges between the lake of lettuce and the carrot mountains that you don't want to eat. And who thinks on hallways? You walk through them to get to where you are going. They are not even a place.
And so, as I move through my life of hallways, and fork bridges, contemplating the perfectness of your hair while I'm supposed to be listening, I think to myself that I have a secret. That it's the same secret that I have managed to keep safe and quiet inside me, that nothing is certain, that I will break the rules when I can, that I didn't grow up, I only pretended to so that I can sneak my secret into your world undetected - a trustworthy adult, pulling it out while I walk, invisible, in my hallways, and setting myself free from the flat certainty of the established world.