Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reconstruction

As much as I enjoyed both Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma, I found that both of them left me feeling somewhat hopeless and powerless, if not a little bit angry. Fast Food Nation left me with images of half-dead cows strung up in slaughterhouses, being disemboweled by miserably-paid workers with no recourse for their sickening work conditions and unfair treatment. The Omnivore's Dilemma offered only slightly more hope as the author did successfully prepare a meal made from food that he grew, hunted, and foraged for himself. But one of the points that I took away from this tome was that, while organic food may be better for our bodies, it's still not doing much good for our environment if that organic tomato was shipped all the way from California to sit on my plate.

They are eye-opening books, but offer little hope that there is a way to eat that is good for our bodies and good for our natural resources. Too much deconstruction...

And along came Barbara Kingsolver, God love her. Not only did she graduate from a fine university, but she also wrote a book that gave me hope. She and her family committed to eating locally for one year. Most of the vegetables and some of the meat that they ate were grown on their property (the chapter on turkey sex is unforgettable). What they couldn't grow themselves they obtained from folks closeby. Ultimately, almost every morsel they put in their mouths came from no further than 100 miles away from their home. Some things they compromised on...olive oil, wheat for bread, and coffee were among the few things they decided they couldn't do without. But they gave up bananas and other fruits not indigenous to their part of the country.

The book was informative but never overbearing: "We're converts in progress, no preachers. No stone tablets."

It was hopeful but realistic: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.

She reminded me of the quote by Edward Everett Hale: "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

So for Thanksgiving we had a free-range turkey grown by a family in Middle Tennessee. And we bought a subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture in our area. And we'll keep going to the farmer's market. And eventually we'll eat the creatures hanging out in the backyard. And maybe this year we'll be a little more successful with the things we try to grow on our own land.

It's not everything, but it's something.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Games People Play

Because nothing says charming and intelligent like a 12-year-old whose conversation is peppered with the word "Crap!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How I Met Your Father, Part II

When they returned we (it was now a triple-date) headed to Marvin's, a local dive specializing in garlic cheeseburgers, garlic fries, and anything else upon which one might want to heap piles and piles of garlic. It was probably an unwise choice for a first date, but the menfolk had planned ahead and passed mints under the table. Afterward we went back to the house and watched "Tombstone." I don't remember much except that when Jay got up to go to the bathroom I whispered to A, "I really like him!" He even held my hand! *blush*

Then we decided to brave the party at Delt. As we expected, Delt was not exactly a happy place. There were beer bottles being thrown from third floor windows to the patio below and a lot of yelling. But the band was good and there much dancing to be done, so we made the best of it. It also didn't stink that, as Jay and I were walking through the house holding hands, we passed a guy that I had dated the previous year. He was alone.

Jay and I returned to the sorority house and watched TV until the other two guys were ready to leave. I walked him to his car and we said goodbye. I gave Jay my number and he said he would call. As they drove away, instead of becoming immediately anxious about whether or not he would really call, I felt a sense of peace, like things were going to work out exactly how they should.

And they did.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How I Met Your Father, Part I

Thirteen years ago today Jay and I met and had our first date.

Several week prior saw the amicable ending of a very casual relationship I had with a really great guy at school. Our final date had been a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert in Terre Haute. After that same concert my friend and sorority sister A went to a party at Rose-Hulman where she got to know a young man in her ROTC squadron who had piqued her interest months before. Immediately after that party they began dating (and eventually got married). A's new boyfriend, E, lived with four other guys at Rose-Hulman, all of whom shared a mutual love for rollerblading. They enjoyed it so much, in fact, that they had a huge butcher paper poster hanging on the wall of their suite that listed all the cities, towns, and other venues where they wanted to skate. As soon as A and E started dating, DePauw was put at the top of the list.

It was a boring Saturday afternoon. I had gone to the Monon Bell game that morning with friends only to watch DePauw lose. My friend K and I were studying, which we planned to do for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We had decided not to go out since the only party was at Delta Tau Delta. Most of the football players were Delts, and the outcome of the Monon Bell game undoubtedly set the tone of the party. After the loss it was clear that the party would be rife with large angry drunken men, and that scene didn't interest us very much. As we were studying we heard a ruckus coming from the front yard of the sorority house. We knew that E was bringing his roommates over to rollerblade so we assumed that the noise we heard was them. Not having met E, K and I decided to go outside and check things out.

When we got outside A was standing with five guys. We met E and then she introduced us to the other four. K and I sat on the curb and visited for awhile, then decided to go back inside to resume studying. I lifted up my arms in a gesture requesting that K pull me up off the curb. She grabbed one arm, but before she had time to grab the other, one of the rollerbladers sped over and took it, pulling me up. I smiled and said thanks, and K and I made our way into the house.

Several minutes later, after we had settled back into our books, A came running down the hall, yelling my name.

"I'm in S's room!" (Confession: K and I were studying and watching "The Bodyguard" on a friend's TV)

A ran in, out of breath. "Do you want to go on a date tonight?" she asked.

"Which one?" I asked.

"Jay," she said.

I racked my brain but couldn't remember which one Jay was. "The tall guy?" No... "The redhead?" No...

Finally A said, "The one who helped you get up off the curb."

"Oh," I said, "I don't remember him. Is he nice? Funny? Moderately attractive?" A answered yes to all of them, so I agreed and she left.

A few minutes later all of the guys were piling into the room and I saw Jay again. Definitely cute. A little shy. Obviously nervous. We exchanged smiles and made plans. E, J (another of E's roommates), and Jay would go home and get cleaned up and then come back to DePauw.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What We Say to Little Girls

*Note: I wrote this several months ago. Since then the mom whose shower I attended gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on my birthday!

Several weeks ago I went to a United Methodist Women's meeting at the home of one of the women from my church. There were seven of us there. Six of us were moms. Five of us have girls. We started talking about raising girls and about how we can counter all the negative messages that girls seems to receive, particularly the messages that the way we look is of utmost importance.

My friend R told the story of being on vacation. She, her husband, and her daughter (who is Joshua's age) were in a restaurant when one of the patrons commented that R's daughter is "such a pretty little girl!" Another patron within earshot said, "And I bet she's smart, too!" Even strangers are trying to make sure that we send our little girls the right message.

I've been intentional lately about how I speak to Clare. I realize that, at seven weeks, she's not picking up much other than, "There's that lady yakking at me again." But I want to get into the habit of giving her the messages that I want her to receive. I picked her up from a diaper change today and said, "You're such a pretty little girl!" I caught myself and continued by saying, "And smart, and witty, and kind, and clever!"

This evening I was at a baby shower with several of the women who were at the UMW meeting I mentioned before. One of them had her one-year-old daughter along. During her explorations, the daughter made her way over to where I was sitting. "Oh A" I said, "What a pretty little girl you are..." I caught myself again. "And generous and thoughtful..."

Pretty soon all of us were chiming in.

"And industrious!"

"And efficient!"

"And charming!"

Maybe if we all start in our own little corners of the world we can start sending the message to our daughters that what we look like isn't the most important thing about us, that we don't have to have "stuff" to make other people like us, and that we can be OK just the way we are.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Guess Who's Happy to Be Three Months Old Today

Or she may just be happy that she got a decent nap since her big brother was out running errands with Vati.