winter thaw

FullSizeRender

So, here’s the truth.  I love being domestic.  I know it’s not very cool or anything that could be rated a “hot topic” of discussion, but it is a true thing about me.  I love cleaning (so.much.more.than.a.normal.person, you guys), baking, cooking, planting, painting, decorating… the list goes on.  Spring always inspires renewal in pretty much everyone, so I’m no exception.  After winter is over and everyone begins to emerge from their weather-imposed shut-ins, I get the desire to start running again, to get my hands in the dirt, to declutter and go garage saleing (maybe that’s not a real word but whatevs).

Speaking of dirt, this year we’re going to have an epic garden.  It’s pretty much the only thing I can think about right now.  The weather here is getting great (in between intermittent surprises of 40 degree weather), spring has sprung (and all that) so my sole focus has shifted to all things outside.  The fella in my life inherited a pretty awesome green thumb and he’s a master starting things from seed.  And in true underpreparedness, EVERYTHING we planted has decided to grow.  Everything.  The basement is overrun with little seedlings that can’t wait to meet the sun.  They already had to be transplanted to red solo cups which are scattered a bit of here, there and everywhere in an effort to keep the cats from eating them.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my modest gardening experience, it’s that planting things in the Earth is unpredictable and it truly is a combination of blood, sweat and tears.  If all these seedlings die after we transplant them, I’m going to be super upset.  In the meantime, we’ll wait for the ground to be ready, we’ll plan for sunny days ahead, we’ll dig into the Earth the way people have been doing for generations and we’ll begin the labor of love that is growing our own food.

Advertisements

a modern question

Guys.  I’m going to ask you a question that isn’t original at all.

“Why is it so expensive to eat healthy?”

Let me start backward and work forward.  When I was thinking about what to write this week, I actually considered writing about my struggle to determine if I should become a vegetarian again.  But then I thought more big picture.  You see, I was driving down the highway this week, like I do, and (I promise I’m not going to get all soap-boxy on you and I’m most certainly not going to get graphic) I passed a pickup truck pulling a trailer of pigs.  These pigs looked pretty jammed in there and normally I like to play ignorant and look away from livestock trailers but I saw their little pig noses poking out, so I looked.  This is something that I’m entirely too soft to handle—this “seeing” where my food comes from.  In my own personal protest about the pigs (who I liked to imagine were going to a farm…) I pulled the sausage off my breakfast sandwich and threw it away.  But that doesn’t mean there’s one less pig to sacrifice for my sausage.  For this reason, I was a vegetarian for five years; I believe in animal rights.  Not crazy PETA style but I don’t believe the way we get our meat isn’t the way we’re meant to get our meat.  I bought from Whole Foods, my friends and family bought only farm-raised holiday meats and I bought local where I could when I was transitioning out of my vegetarianism.  That became costly for everyone and eventually I just turned a blind eye and began consuming restaurant burgers and steaks.  Flash forward to present day—I live in the midwest; the breadbasket of America; the Pork capital of the world; Omaha Steaks are my neighbor.  If there’s anywhere I could be a locavore, it’s here.

That brings me to my bigger picture.  While there’s an outstanding farmer’s market on Saturday, I can only buy so much produce to avoid it rotting on my counters.  As much as I try to shame it, the convenience factor still gets me from time to time.  I just don’t have the energy to make food for the week or even every night.  And, as it turns out, eating pre-made stuff or take-out… not all that healthy.  Unfortunately, the reality of this amazing world we live in is that it’s more cost effective to get a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, french fries and a large Coke than it is to go out, buy fresh ingredients, and make a meal at home.  I think Mark Bittman (disclosure: love him) said it best: just eat real food.  I guess that means, for the everyman, more trips to the grocery, more planning ahead of time, more skipping of the convenience factor.

That’s probably the *only* thing keeping me off the vegetarian bandwagon.  While I’m passionate about what happens to those sweet pigs, it’s crazy expensive right now to buy the meat I want to buy to ease my conscience.  Simply removing it from my plate means more pasta and that’s no good for my waistline.  Should I resign myself to the fact that even a simple diet of fruits and veggies are going to cost me?

I’m still working out this vegetarian thing and I’m still trying to do the best I can to eat healthy on a budget.  That’ll probably be the case until I can afford to grow my own food or buy half a humanely-raised cow or pig.  It’s all a work in progress, as am I, but it’s hard when society as a whole makes it easier to eat food with poor nutrition quality (I’m looking at you Hostess Fruit Pies for breakfast) vs. the healthy stuff (oatmeal, eggs) that keeps me going throughout the day.  Finally, as Mark Bittman implores, I’ll do my best to “eat real food”.

lucky.

I’ve been thinking the same thing for two weeks now.

I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do.

I mean—I make a living doing something I truly love.  Every day for the last two weeks, I get my day started with a little coffee and head out to rural Iowa to meet people and do my job.  I get to drive a car furnished by my employer (who I’ll be deliberately vague about since they’re a rather *known* company) and while most people wouldn’t be too thrilled driving around a billboard, I’m not one of them.  I couldn’t be happier driving it around, letting everyone know who I represent.  I hold doors at gas stations, I smile at strangers, I shake hands, I make small talk, I set my cruise-control and I rock out to my Windshield Time playlist on Spotify.

Iowa never fails to be a magical place for me and I’m really lucky to get to explore as an added bonus to my job.  For example, the last two weeks, I’ve gone down at least one dirt road to get to someone’s house.  I’ve visited two legit farms.  I’ve seen countless windmills and I’m becoming very familiar with the route from Des Moines to Omaha.

Today… and I’m going to do this an injustice—I was driving down a county road where I saw no one for 15 miles.  It was corn as far as the eye could see.  And beyond that, everything was painted white with snow: the trees were skeletons covered in white, the power lines were all coated white, the corn fields were white rolling hills.  The world felt quiet and beautiful and I was lucky enough to be a part of that.

The point of all this, guys?  I’m insanely lucky.  Blessed, even.  It’s been a long road getting here and it’s not lost on me that I’ve been well taken care of along the way.  Every day, I’m thankful.  Every day, I know I’m doing the right thing.  I’m not planning my next move, I’m enjoying exactly where I am in this moment.

What I’m Reading Now

I like to make sure I keep my mind as sharp as possible by reading regularly.  Yes, I sometimes get sucked into the vortex that is television but I always turn back to a book (or seven) before too long.  I’ve recently discovered the brilliance that is the Des Moines Public Library.  As a consequence, I am (like most people – surely) reading several books at once.  The following is a list of my current reading material.  

Laura Hillenbrand – Unbroken – So far it’s amazing.  And I know very little about WWII so it’s a bit of an education.  Plus the guy was an Olympic Runner.

Growing a Farmer – Kurt Timmermeister & The Dirty Life – Kristin Kimball – Because I want to be these people (see aforementioned dreams of being an urban farmer).

WordPress for Dummies – You *know* why…

The Leopard – Jo Nesbo 

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson – Because there’s a mouse on the cover… and it’s hilarious.