Archive for July, 2008

I’ve placed our meat/cheese/bread order for next week, set up the spreadsheet for food tracking (including eat out/take out) and the dry-erase board holds a guide to the treasures contained in our fridge.  I made up baby beets, peaches and carrots on Tuesday with apricots and more peaches to follow this afternoon (we’ll be using up store-bought baby jars at the MIL’s this weekend but otherwise it’s been two days of naught but homemade.)  Whatever we don’t finish from the refrigerator over the course of the day will be taken with us (I’m looking at you, zucchini.)  I can say conclusively that I am ready for the new month!

And my head is in the right place, too.  I woke up feeling…better.  Sort of calm.  It’s nice, especially since the temptation is great to pop on the a/c today.  It’s amazing how much easier it is mentally to make changes in your life when you have someone to support you.  I hadn’t realized how much I was associating Rioting with some sort of notion that my priorities were out of whack and that my family (or my health) was suffering because of it.  The thing is, I think I had started to believe that I wasn’t capable of participating without somehow not being a good enough wife/mother/woman/whatever.  Fuck that noise.  It really isn’t for anyone else to say whether I am doing a good enough job anyway so I don’t know why I take so to heart off the cuff remarks that aren’t even based in reality.

I’m starting to think that one of the most important actions one takes when undertaking a large-scale lifestyle change is to make sure you’re being true to yourself.  Even when people act like you’re a nut, even when you’re the only one in your household acting, even when things go pear-shaped and you feel like giving up.   I think most people want to view change as a linear process even though we all know intellectually that it is anything but.   In the long run, though, this can lead to so much disappointment, both in the process of change and in ourselves.  But when you can say honestly that you are listening to your true self when you act, it is so much easier to get things done, even when it feels like you’re one person against the world.

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It’s coming, and I am refreshing my mad spreadsheet skills in preparation for Operation Stop Throwing Shit Away So Much Already, Man (aka food waste reduction beginner stylee.)  Also encompassed within this rather weighty experiment is a serious attempt to get our local food numbers between 50-60%.  I am cautiously optimistic, although 5 of the days of August will be spent on vacation with pre-ordained meals.  I’ll still be tracking, though, such is my absolute dedication to finally gaining the upper hand on where our food comes from.

I have not as yet made the switch from paper to cloth napkins or rags but when the roll of paper towels runs out, we’ll be keeping them around for emergency only.  Lucy is excited about making the move to cloth napkins for her lunches (she’s such a good little environmentalist–did I write about how she refused to watch when I had to purchase chemical toilet bowl cleaner?  We made sure to have some Seventh Generation on hand from then on, but there was a woman waiting to clean my toilets so I panicked 😉 and really, it’s silly not to make the switch.

I got caught up this morning in one of those super-funks (and not in the purple suit-Bootsy Collins way) where I get completely wrapped up in how much shit I have to do and how much I don’t want to always be in charge of everything and ROAR!  It sucks to have an overdeveloped sense of duty and I really wish I could turn mine off sometimes (most of the time in fact.)  The thing is, when I was in the hospital with the meningitis my MIL made a comment about how the apartment hadn’t been cleaned since well before I had the baby and how it was all because of the Riot taking over my life (which wasn’t true, either count) and I managed to internalize that to the nth degree (both counts.)  Since then, I’ve been very wary about making it known that I’m still participating in the Riot, and it’s hard to not talk about something I’m so proud of.  So, yeah, I’ve not done the best job lately of achieving balance between reducing and house stuff and it came to a head today.   Well, coupled with that period where I was feeling really discouraged…I have a tendency to second-guess myself and that was probably more about feeling like maybe I couldn’t handle both taking care of the house to the appropriate standard and making/tracking reductions than I would have admitted.  Not that the ‘why am I doing this’ doesn’t sneak in, but you know, I felt like something was missing when I got out of the hospital and I didn’t feel comfortable talking about the changes we had made with anywhere close to the same zeal I had before.  The irony, of course, is that I’m certain she doesn’t even remember saying any such thing and meanwhile I’ve spent the past 6 months feeling as though I have to keep the house up to a certain level so that nobody knows I’m still Rioting.  Shhh, Internet, it’s our little secret.

But anyway, we’re full steam ahead here, and I’m going to try to look back at this often and remember that the only standards I have to live up to are my own.  No more back alley data entry, or sneaking around in the middle of the night to rid the house of disposable products.  It’s all back in the open, and I’m really looking forward to the next month.
And the house?  Don’t come over if you can’t stand works-in-progress.

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This morning I was sitting on the bus next to Lucy.  I looked down at her legs and realized…

She was wearing a pair of her brother’s pants.  Size 12 months.  As shorts.

That’ll knock the ‘meh’ right off of your face.

I don’t know which is more sobering–a five year old that can’t tell when she’s wearing baby pants or a 34 year old who doesn’t notice until she’s well out of the house.

At least we know Chico won’t be outgrowing these pants anytime soon.

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Yours, Bluely

This is going to be self-serving pap.  You have been warned.

I passed out last night at a little after 8:00.  The past week plus of activities and visitors and plans and appointments finally caught up with me, and I simply got too excited about an entire day ahead of me with no commitments to keep myself awake.  And I suppose I needed to sleep because I awoke this morning at 7:46.  But there, in that place where exaltation should be?  Meh. To enumerate:

  • meh, there’s still laundry to put away
  • meh, I still need to treat the carpet in the living room
  • meh, there’s recycling and a mound of dirty dishes in the kitchen
  • meh, I should really scoop the cat litter
  • meh, Lucy’s cardboard box castle is unfinished in the middle of the floor
  • meh, there’s nothing I really want to do anyway

Meh, meh, a million times meh.  Meh to the small man who sobs when I eat.  Meh to the empty coffepot.  Meh to the washed and unwashed, be they knit, ceramic or flesh.

Oh, just fuck it.

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I guess it’s time to come clean.  We still have a lot of food waste.  Whether it’s food that gets forgotten by Lucy (or dropped or left somewhere to rot) or stuff that gets carelessly shoved in the back of the fridge, I end up feeding more to the worms than I really want to (and when something big gets forgotten like, ahem, a bag of collard greens, I sometimes even have to throw it out.)  And this is bad bad bad.

The irrepressible Chile wrote an awesome piece about food waste and how to not have so much the other day, and it has gotten me thinking.  Last summer I had all sorts of grand ideas about how I was going to revamp the way we dealt with food, from procurement (CSA, Greenmarket, etc.) to preservation (‘member how I was going to freeze all sorts of stuff for after the baby came?)  And then…nothing.

Well, in thinking about what large-scale improvements we could make to our carbon reduction, I’ve been drawing blanks.  Low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, these are both good ideas I can do on the cheap-n-easy.  We’re limited on some stuff by being apartment dwellers with co-op rules.  We’ve already done a lot as far as electric reduction goes (although I’ll tell ya, this next bill is going to give me a coronary, I know it.)  What is the one area we’ve really not focused on so much?  Food.  And what area is directly related to food?  Waste.  Perfect!

For the month of August, I’m going to concentrate on getting our food and food waste numbers in line.  This means getting back my hot water canner and jars, getting off my ass and making Chico’s food, and most of all, cutting back on those Soy Delicious impulse buys.  It also means getting back in the habit of prepping the CSA haul as soon as we get home from pick-up, and going back to the dry erase board method of tracking what is in the refrigerator.


Under the brave and crazy heading, we’re going away to a family reunion next month for 5 days and I have decided that we can do the trip without resorting to disposable diapers.  I may live to regret this, but I’ll feel like a jerk if I don’t try.  I ordered another dozen prefolds to bring us up to a total of 30, plus another 18 cloth wipes (solid food poop) and 2 more covers in case of poop blow-outs.  Wish me luck.

Also, for those who have traveled with under-1s, how the fresh hell do you handle baby food?  Should I take the mini food mill and just grind stuff up at the buffet?  Or do I need to haul pre-made?  Or should I bag solids for the trip and just nurse?  He only does one meal of solids a day anyway.  I mostly don’t want to have to go through the whole ‘he’s not starving without solids, he weighs 23 pounds fer chrissakes, solids are only for practice for the first year anyway’ deal because I get super-testy over shit like that.


Oh Em Gee, I have a 140 page book to proof by the 13th.  I should have started weeks ago.

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I’m still bleary-eyed almost all the way through my coffee.  Which is why I was so very, very thankful when my MIL emailed to ask if I wanted to postpone our outing today due to rain.  Because I really, really do.  A lot.  My feet are still sore, my nose is jam-packed, and I am in dire need of a trip to Target for Kids n Pets because apparently I didn’t clean up one of the spots well enough where Pickle peed when she had the UTI because she has stopped to squat there several times.

But you didn’t come here to read about the cat piss smell in my living room, didja?

Here are some mini-changes I’ve decided on.  Not a big deal, but sometimes it’s good to get the rest of the low-hanging fruit, no?  I’m ready to make the plunge to cloth napkins and rags, which means we can most-of-the-way get rid of our paper towel use.  It also means I have to pull out and wash our cloth napkins and cut up some old t-shirts or something similar for rags, but that is a project for another day.

I’ve also decided that I am going to focus on food for the month of August.  This means earnestly tracking what we are buying so that I can know how much is local, how much is packaged, and how much is unnecessary.  I was talking to a woman at the CSA about baking bread, and I’m (finally) going to give this a go.

I want to make some big changes as well, but I have to think on them.  It’s much easier doing the small stuff when you’re not the only person in a household.  The big stuff requires much more group effort, which we don’t always have ’round here.

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Tired. So Tired.

I want to write something but I just can’t seem to form words.  They were there earlier, I swear.  Or maybe that was a hallucination.  You never can tell with words.

I am feeling stretched thin.  Like I’m treading water.  Any number of hackneyed expressions, plus with the aching feet from walking the babe around in the ‘hawk. I’ve walked over a mile while wearing el Chico each day for the past three days not counting walking while not wearing him.  I’ve caught up on laundry.  Dishes.  Cat litter.   Lucy’s room.   The rest of the house is a shithole, but whatever, it’ll still be here when I get home tomorrow.  From another several hours of ‘hawking.  Again.

Ugh.  I need a day off.

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Too Much Togetherness

I have been veritably glued to my son for close to 48 hours.  When I am not glued to him, he is crawling.  And messing.  Which is fun until I leave the room.  When he explodes.  I mean, I love to be wanted but this is ridiculous.

Actually, it wasn’t so bad until this morning when I want to get some shit done, but I do like to exaggerate for effect.

Jello Biafra was incredible, by the way.  After really stumbling for the past few weeks when it comes to Riot stuff, I needed a swift kick in the ass and I came out of the talk seriously reinvigorated.  I did wait around for a while afterward to try to meet him but I was totally cockblocked by the dude from Negativland, which was like…well, let’s just say that if you had told mid-90s Jen that mid-oughts Jen would be in such a situation, she would have guffawed.  Heartily.  I also get a perverse delight in the fact that I got to take my son to hear Jello Biafra speak, but that’s mostly because I like to be reminded that I’m not an old fogey.

I got home Sunday night refreshed and reminded of how important it is to do something instead of just complaining or feeling helpless, and that is just what I needed.  Between now and August 1 I will be working on some new carbon-reducing changes around the house and hopefully some bigger-picture actions actions as well.  No more excuses!  I really don’t want to be one of those people with a million reasons why their actions won’t make a difference or why it’s too hard.

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Dear Die-ary

Today I strapped my son to my chest and hauled  him into the Last HOPE.  We went to the Hacking the Price of Food/Urban Farming talk, which was sort of cool.  Most I knew already, but the really impressive thing was how many people were there.  I’m really happy to see that so many people are interested in food security, especially in a tech setting.  Really Good News, I think.  I would have liked more information on the hows but I suppose this wasn’t the sort of venue for such.

My baby brother is engineering Radio Statler so I stopped by to see him try to get everything up and running and to go buy him some pants.  My brother is incredibly smart, really impressive on ye olde ‘puter, and managed to coordinate a shitload of equipment and people and other nonsense coming up to NYC.  So ten area rugs and a portable a/c unit made it to the hotel but the bag with his clothing?  Disappeared somewhere between DC and here.  Go effing figure.  Anyway, one trip to The Crap and half an hour’s worth of trying to figure out what the fuck is going on with the zillion types of jeans and, by the way, why are there no athletic socks that extend past the ankle?

That, however, is neither here nor there because, frankly, I can’t remember why I brought it up in the first place.

Anyhow, I’m not sure I could have felt any more out of place, but it was fun to take Chico nonetheless.  He’s a pretty good companion for a little dude, even though he raised a bit of a ruckus and had to nurse 4 times while we were there.  In 4 hours.

So, yeah, that was my day.  I’ll tell ya, I’m not a conference person but I’d far rather be at HOPE than BlogHer.

I have to miss tomorrow but Sunday is Jello!

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Sweet jesus let me stop sneezing.  I woke up at 5:45 making a terrible racket, which woke up the baby (horrors!) and now I’m with the eyes itching and snot evacuating and I find it all rather irritating.  C is full-on sick, Lucy had a fever yesterday afternoon but seemed to be recovering by the time I got back from my CSA shift, and thankfully, Chico seems to have escaped entirely (knock wood.)

This is all by means of explaining the disjointedness of this post.  Hold on!

My mom is coming tomorrow!  Hurrah Mom!  My Baby Brother conned her into driving him and his gear up for The Last HOPE. She’s heading out here for a visit with the grandkids whilst I take in a few talks myself (dirty hippie to the core, I’m planning on the enviro ones plus JELLO BIAFRA!!!!!!111!1!1leeven.)  Beside myself with excitement.  Full report next week.

It hit me last night how starved for adult conversation I am, coupled with how nervous I get talking to people I don’t know.  I walked home with another mother and went into full-on expository yak yak yak mode.  My husband assures me that people like me even though I do that, but I still am hoping I didn’t come off as too needy/crazy.  Because I’m really a pretty reasonable person most of the time.  Or some of it at least.

I’ve been doing a lot of ruminating on philosophy lately.  Reading After the Ecstasy, The Laundry when I have a few minutes to rub together and thinking about who I am and what I believe.  It’s sort of nice to try to let go of everything I use to define myself or know others use to define me and really reflect on the self that I am, to paraphrase Kierkegaard.  I keep little index cards that I letter and color with quotes and reminders of things that strike me as important to this journey, which is a nice little meditation on the idea contained within.   I’m feeling much more steady than I have in a while, which is such a wonderful gift.

It’s making things around the house much easier as well.  I’m not as daunted by the day-to-day tasks I have to do when I stop thinking about what I need to do next.

Meanwhile, Lucy is teaching a yoga class to her brother.  I get such a thrill out of that.

I still haven’t decided what class I’m going to take.  On one hand, I’m really excited about the idea of learning Mandarin, especially since C is taking it next semester (he went to college as a Chinese major back when he was young and impressionable) and I’ll be able to keep up with him at home.  On the other, it hit me that when I was in the hospital in the throes of the meningitis fever, I tried desperately to focus my eyes enough on the wall beside my bed because I wanted to write down what I was dreaming.  Which, I think, means I’m probably needing to get back into the habit of writing regularly because hello, I was rolling around with a fever of 104 trying to write.  The answer will come to me.

In Chico news, he got his first tooth and is crawling, only instead of getting up on his knees, he sort of throws himself forward while using his arms to determine directionality.  It looks ridiculous but is a deceptively speedy method of propulsion.

And with that I’m off to take down laundry.

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