Friday Follies: Sustainable Eating and Organic Crazy!

I know I haven’t done a Friday Follies since I did my e-obsessing for Downton Abbey and I figured it was about time for another mention of another one of my crazy passions! Before I go much further, I want to make a bit of a disclaimer that this is a subject I’m still in the midst of learning quite a bit about, and while I don’t have all the answers, I’m open to discussion as long as it remains respectful! That being said…

I can’t get enough of sustainable food, organic eating, homesteading dreams, and educating myself about some of the many flaws and dangers of the mass agricultural system. I’ve watched near every Netflix documentary I can get on the subject, and I’ve googled my way around dozens of blogs. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s book and even seen what the infamously cute Jonathan Safron Foer had to say about the subject. Beardman and I get in to fights about it all the time (while he acknowledges many of the same flaws in the system that I do, he’s much more ‘realistic’, he says, about the kind and timing of a change in the system we both think is bound to occur). While I don’t have the answers to all of the points I’ve seen made on both sides, I’ve come to believe the following so far: the Earth is broken, and largely because of human activity. The system we have now is full of cruelty and disrespect towards Nature and her wonderful routines and methods of survival. It’s causing not only sickness in our Earth, but in us and in our future generations. We owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves about where our food comes from, and to demand from those that provide the products we purchase that they do so from farms and organizations that don’t use mass feed lots, antibiotics in their feed, or corn to raise their animals on. I also believe that the way things are doing now IS NOT the way that they are supposed to be done, and that there ARE other ways of doing things that could potentially “feed the planet” in the way that we seem to think our current system does.

I believe that there are hidden costs to our so-called “cheap” foods, and that if it were economically possible, more people would shop local and organic than currently do. Because of this, I believe that it should be of political importance to provide the kind of economic and policy support to those farmers that farm organically, in a small-scale frame, and outside the current mode of mass agricultural production. I believe that this is a cause that will eventually have to come to a head, and as gas prices and health tolls become more and more evident and important, I only hope that the change comes without environmental or food-based disaster. I don’t want any of this to sound preachy, but after reading what I’ve read and watching what I’ve watched, I felt like I wanted a place to gather my “sustainable eating” manifesto! I invite you to check out any of the following sources, which I found the most helpful in helping me decided exactly what it was I did think on the issue of what I was eating and where it was coming from.

             

Because of a lot of things mentioned in these sources, Beardman and I have cut back on the amount of meat that we eat, have begun buying what meat, dairy, and produce we can from the farmers market or local organic grocery (we can’t afford to buy everything there, which is an eventual goal of mine, but we keep an eye on what’s on sale and go when we can), and have begun growing our own herbs, strawberries, and peppers, in order to try and keep cutting back on how much we contribute to a mass agriculture system I don’t really believe in. I’ll admit right here that this is pretty much all me – Beardman agrees with certain points but not others, and remains “pragmatically neutral” on the topic, but he sure does love me and goes with what he thinks is my craziness on this particular issue – but I don’t really mind that in this situation!

Gone with the Wind: A Surprising DNF

To be honest, guys, I have no idea what happened with this book. I felt like I was in love with it from the beginning – the sweeping settings and the emotionalism that Mitchell gave to the land and her characters and the nature of the pre- Civil War south. And I was undecided about Scarlett, but was having fun making up my mind. But then I got busy for a weekend, didn’t pick the book up for a few days, and when I came back, something had changed. The book and I just weren’t clicking. Now it feels like every time I open the book it gets closed in exactly the same spot. And I’m not sure what happened.

After Sherman burns Atlanta and Scarlett makes her way back to Tara, suddenly she’s this different woman, and if I didn’t like her before hand I sure hated her now. Gone was what I felt was the fear and uncertainty of the Scarlett in the early parts of the book, and here was this woman who was nothing but shrewd and calculating and, to be honest, mean. And the more I got in to this character’s head, the easier it was to make up my mind that I didn’t necessarily want to be there anymore. But it wasn’t just that. I mean, I still love Mitchell’s writing and many of the other characters she creates – I still adore Melanie and Rhett, and am heartbroken every time the broken Mr. O’Hara makes his reappearance on the page. But that’s not enough. I kind of wonder if perhaps my adoration of the movie doomed my ability to love the book from the beginning. Not that the movie is better than the book or visa versa, but I think in this case my familiarity with one (and by familiarity, I of course mean obsessive knowledge of) kind of preempted any ability to create this world or these characters in my own way. As much as I love Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, they are the Scarlett and the Rhett that I know, and I can’t seem to be able to separate them in my mind.

I’m not saying that this is a book that I won’t return to. I’m hoping to. But I think that this is one of those times and books that, for whatever reason, I just don’t think that right now is the time that I should be reading this book. I kind of believe in the kismet nature of reading, and that if a book really isn’t working, it isn’t necessarily the book as much as the environment surrounding me as I’m reading the book. And right now, with summer and graduation and moving are all looming on the horizon (as well as the fact that I’ve got summer classes approaching), it’s just not the time for this book. I feel like I need something lighter, something thinner, something that I can dig in to and be in, but that won’t require weeks and weeks on end of me doing that. I’ve got some Ray Bradbury short story books on the list, as well as some more Fitzgerald, and there really is nothing like F. Scott to pull me out of a bit of a reading funk and remind me why I love reading and why I’m undertaking this whole process in the first place! I also recently downloaded some non-fiction books on sustainable farming and eating (none of which are new reads, but books that I adore and have checked out from the library umpteenth times) which I’m looking forward to talking about more this Friday!

I’m kind of sad and disappointed that I wasn’t able to get through all of Gone with the Wind. It’s only the second or third book I’ve taken on for this project, and it’s a little disheartening that the whole experience is ending this way. But c’est la vie! Such is life, and I’m one of those readers who tries to never dwell on the DNF for long – there is still a whole universe of plots, characters, and experiences out there waiting to be absorbed! How about you? Do you let yourself DNF, or do you have to finish whatever you pick up? Are you a sprint-reader, or down for the marathon haul, regardless?

Persuasion: Part One (By an Austen Convert)

Does anyone else just hate this book cover? This is the cover to the edition I’m actually reading (as opposed to sometimes when I just post whichever cover I think the prettiest), and I think it makes Anne look so…dowdy! And that nose?! I know Anne is supposed to be somewhat on the plain side, and I’m assuming this rather unfortunate looking female is supposed to be Anne, but I never thought she was supposed to be that, well, plain! Most of this might be because I absolutely adore Anne, and think better of her than do of many other of Austen’s heroines!

Let me just begin by saying that my love for Jane Austen has never ran particularly deep. I’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice, of course, and because of this enrolled in a class my sophomore year of college that was completely devoted to her works. This was, of course, also the semester I enrolled in my Shakespeare class, my British Literature survey course, and a course on magical realism. These classes were FANTASTIC. But coupled with the attention that I’ve found Jane Austen required, and the demands of all of those other courses at the same time, but I found myself just not reading the books, hating the discussions, and getting by in the class by my charm and the skin of my ‘writes essays well under pressure’ teeth. Since then, I’ve just always had trouble with Lady Jane, and I knew taking on this section of my master list might take some deeper persuasion *PUN!! PUNNY PUN PUNS!!*. Anyway, my first plan of attack was to pick a work I knew (or remembered) relatively little about, as this would give me the chance to read it with a clean slate. After reading some other reviews around the blogoverse, I decided that Persuasion was what I needed for my springy mood and this place in my life! I picked up the book and, with a pen in hand (a habit I reserve for me “serious” reading!), found that when I give it the dedication it deserves, I’m loving Austen’s work more and more!

It’s so tragic that the intervening of meddling but well meaning adults has such tragic consequences from the beginning of the couple’s relationship onward! It’s a great example of the dichotomies that Austen develops throughout the work, trade offs of things like influence versus feelings, wisdom versus judgement, money versus passion, and ultimately self versus others. It’s taken me some time to tease it out (as I’m only half way through the book, and I like to take my time to really absorb and comment on what I’m reading, including the wonderful notes in the back of my Penguin edition) and I’m not entirely sure I’ve gotten it all hammered out, but they are opposing themes I’ve having fun looking for underneath it all. SIDE NOTE: having taken the class on Jane Austen has left me with REALLY lovely annotated editions of all her novels and her juvenile works.

Now that I’ve gotten my one “analysis” attempt over with, it’s time to tell you that, up to the second half, I’m really not liking this new Wentworth! I mean, I know he’s been jilted, and it sucks that right after that happened he made is fortune and that Anne totally missed out on that. But still! She’s able to see the good in him, and yet he’s all “make Anne do it” and “wouldn’t it be great if Anne stayed behind with the sick whiny boy” and “Oh, Louisa, let me bounce you down the steps like a toddler”. It’s a little gross and I want back the dashing, romantic, well spoken and perfectly hero-esque Austen man that was with Anne the first time around! This also brings me to the point where Louisa takes her tumble and EVERYONE is just like

And it just perfectly reminds me of how much I always love Austen’s swooning ninny females and the frantic ‘chicken-sans-head’ mothers that she seems to give us in every novel! I’m not sure what that says about what Austen thought of women in general (and women without money in particular, as this is what seems to be the case for a majority for her characters) but it sure does make for some pretty epic comic relief!

Before finishing, I want to mention that I’m absolutely adoring Anne. I think it’s so sad and tragic (and totally par for the course where Austen’s heroines are concerned) that she is so misused and disliked by her family when, really, she is such an example of loyalty and devotion to those around her. I hate that she hates her life, and I wish that Wentworth could just get over it so that the two of them could be happy and together and she could finally be with someone who loves and deserves her. So far, the only promising solution other than that is this Mr. Benwick fellow, and from what I know of Austen, I’m sure there is something we don’t know about him yet. I’m looking forward to the second half immensely, and really crossing my fingers for a romantic Austen ending!

Gone With the Wind…Still

You guys. Seriously. You guys. I’m still reading this book. And I feel like no matter how many pages I turn, how many times I tap the digital Kindle page, how many times I pick it up, Sherman is still shelling Atlanta and there is still SO MUCH MORE TO GO! I mean, for goodness sakes, Melanie hasn’t even had her baby yet, and then they still have to get to Tara, and then Scarlett will never go hungry again, and then…well, then the entire second half of the movie starts. But, to be honest, I can’t say I’m disliking all of these facts.

I mean, I feel bad, but because I don’t want things here to seem like I’m dragging or things are lacking. I start to feel bad when I come back week after week talking about the same book (and it’s definitely looking like that final intended deadline I set might have to be revised, but that’s a different topic for a different day) and that’s part of the reason that I think maybe things have quieted down the past week or so – because I’ve just been chugging along, reading the same books as the last time I was here! But other than that? I don’t feel bad about how slow I’m getting through Peg’s classic. I mean, the banter between Scarlett and Rhett is delicious, the portrait of the south that Mitchell creates, and the language she uses to create it – I’m, like, basking in it. It’s just too much to take in a whole bunch of in one setting.

I like to think that I’d get along with the Wilkes, if I’m being honest. And while I know that pretty much everyone has their druthers with Miss O’Hara, I’ll say that the thing that I probably like about her the least is how much she despises Melanie (but, then again, I kind of find it cloying how much Melanie defends Scarlett anyway. Like, there’s gracious and then there’s being a doormat. Like, CLEARLY this woman doesn’t really care for you, and after a while I feel like it stops becoming empathy and starts becoming a lack of self worth). I love the Wilkes family, and there is something about the thought of a family who adheres to philosophy, book learning, and art in a land of whiskey and dogs and hunting and joviality. It’s like in creating these two families (the Wilkeses and the O’Haras) Mitchell has found a way to mirror some of the dichotomies I feel/see in my own life – I too love art and music and literature and discussing all those things. But I also love beer from the can and laying in the mud and just being…well, undignified!

The last 100 or so pages that I’ve read have been largely about the battle to, and in, Atlanta. And while I’ve never been in a state of war, and am never planning on being in one, I can imagine that Mitchell only scratches the surface of what it must be like to see your friends, lovers, family, and neighbors marching off bravely and gallantly only to return broken, dirty, and defeated – or to not return at all. And for what? One of the most touching parts so far was Ashley’s letter to Melanie explaining how futile it all seems, how silly the war is and how even those in it could see that dying for a Cause is so seldom actually worth dying for. I loved it. And it made me sad. All at the same time. That’s what a lot of this Gone with the Wind experience has done so far, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing, actually, and one that reaffirms the boundary-pushing reasons I’m undertaking this project. I’m not even finished yet!

Finished: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

(Believe it or not, I had the hardest time finding this cover, which is the cover of my actual book!)

So, in addition to STILL plugging my way through Gone with the Wind (I’m loving it! That’s what’s making it so hard to read – I don’t want to leave Scarlett and Rhett behind!), I’m also working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia as a kind of “light” alternative so that my brain doesn’t start feeling too muddly! After getting through The Magician’s Nephew a week or so ago (has it been that long? longer? being unemployed has this weird effect of making time pass weirdly) I was SUPER EXCITED to start reading this book because, while I’ve read it a bunch of times, it still has some of my favorite scenes from possibly the entire series.

Okay. Lets start this off with a little character de-briefing. Now that there is a movie out, and given how popular this volume of the series is, I’m going to skip the summary part. So the Pevensie children – I love two of them. I don’t really care for the other two. Peter and Lucy? Duh-obvs, these two are adorable. I feel like Peter does such a good job of being a big brother and trying to be the High King Peter that Aslan inevitably turns him in to. And Lucy? Well, her pure heart is the one that discovers Narnia and starts us all on the adventure, and she’s really treated so horribly in the beginning, that even from a young age she’s always been one of my favorite characters. But then there are Edmund and Susan. Obviously, Edmund is totally priggish and spoiled and rotten, but I feel like he gets his by the end of the book. And then there is Susan. Susan is just such a stick in the mud (I admit that this reaction may have something to do with knowing how much worse this gets in later books) and she’s just always so willing to give up and turn back, and she just doesn’t seem to have any gumption. Edmund may be horrible in the beginning of the book (I hesitate to say “evil”, because I really don’t think he has a bad heart) but at least he’s got gumption!

And we can’t talk about the characters without talking about all the animals. Mr and Mrs Beaver are just the most adorable couple, and exactly how I picture a cozy little English couple to be. I kind of found something creepy about Mr. Tumnus, something I don’t remember feeling as a kid, but maybe it has something to do with more mature ‘cynicism’ than with the way Lewis meant him to be written. And then there is Aslan. I can’t help but to read him as a Christ figure (I blame confirmation and intro to literary criticism when I was in high school), but I just love him none the less. The fact that even his name brings up different feelings inside people – feelings that help to set thematic themes throughout the novel, serves to illustrate the fact that some part of his power lies within each of us. I love that, while he can be a playful big cat, the scene where he is sacrificed to the White Witch still brings tears to my eyes.

And that’s probably the strongest testament to why I added these books to my list, despite the fact that I’ve already read them. There are some books that you read entirely for one or two scenes. Scenes that make you wish at that moment, more than anything, that you could actually jump in to literature and be there, too, even if just for a moment. And the final scenes of this novel – where the four children are crowned at Cair Paravel, and all of the good animals and creatures of the world, the spirits of the water and earth, the mermaids and giants, all gathered in music and food and color…I’d jump in to that scene in a heartbeat. What about you? What scene would you jump in to? Are there any books you read solely for one scene that gives you chills?

TSS: I’m From

I’m from the bathtub of blankets and Little Women rustling pages. I’m from the farmstead, the Knights of Mahaffie and midnight walks to tether-ball broken playgrounds. I’m from principal for a day and backyard archaeology and I swear that’s a sea turtle buried behind the kickball field. I’m from bike rides to Dillons and walks to the library, from tired young legs sticking to a mother’s prescribed path. I’m from kitchen chair blanket forts and October ice storms shattering Bradford pears.

I’m from the land of the Jayhawks and sunflowers, farmers fresh markets and frigid winter visible breath. I’m from flip-flops in January and driving home for high school lunch. I’m from the arms of Jessica Darling and darling Anne, from Campanile hills. I’m from Grecian suns and Irish storms, a Gemini and Cancer and half siblings with whole hearts. I’m from a bad futon and good blanket, from sitting as close to the window as possible for the beautiful light despite the cold on the other side. I’m from the theater boards, a drama queen from center light and best friends. I’m from slow cooking rice and sausage jambalaya, from my father’s cooking and my mother’s laugh and the thought that my grandma is proud of me. I’m from the Goo Goo Doll drives with saddened best friends, summer theater work for no pay but great pictures.

I’m from my niece’s premature fingers to six year old walk to kindergarten. I’m from my brother’s southern drawl heard only every few years, from a family scattered and heartened and whole. I’m from land-reached stars and slow summer buzzes. I’m from constant noise and color and laughter and banana bread. I’m from local music and rye whiskey. I’m from banjo playing and tent laying, the Wakarusa valley with seasoned burned brush and silt bottomed lakes. I’m from Edward Scissorhands before early cheerleading practices, my dad’s bad jokes told so well they’re hilarious – from my mom’s constant laughter, regardless. I’m from sorry shady gardens and cold snow walks to help my dad bring in firewood to dry. I’m from grandma’s Christmas candy and the chance to fly West to see those heartily loved but seldom seen. I’m from bluegrass and dead grass and library sciences. I’m from clean kitchens and farmers’ markets, from America’s bread bowl and the heart of the country. I’m from the written word, the sung word, the words written to my sister in steam on a bathroom shower.

I’m from Christmas’s always together at my parents house, from the bannister and basement and crawl space by the heater where I used to read until my dad didn’t want to keep lighting the pilot light. I’m from reading at recess, from Shel Silverstein and from the children’s boxcar. I’m from V.C. Andrews and Christopher Pike, crates of books beneath my sister’s bed that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. I’m from a backyard summer tent, the collected Goosebumps and *Nsync tangled in miles of orange extension cord. I’m from homework asked for from the teacher, the winner of Race Across the States, from Quest and games of Risk.

I’m from Manderley and Narnia, from Hogwarts and Hobbiton and Ender’s game. I’m from books taken without knowing, pretty covers stacked in basement shelves, from no limits and encouragement to explore. I’m from tornado alley and a Roman hotel just of the Colosseum. I’m from wanderlust and travel and drinking underage in Cancun. I’m from my family’s trip to Paris, my parent’s trip to Hawaii and my grandparent’s travels to Puerto Rico. I’m from an uncle who likes to sleep naked and a fiance who talks in his sleep. I’m from frozen breath in cold lungs, from Captain and Diet Coke (NEVER regular Coke) and Earl Grey tea with tons of honey and a little cream. I’m from still believing in Santa Clause always believing in Rory Gilmore and copious coffee.

I’m from a girl who wanted to read and write and be more than her long hair and awkward limb. I’m from Disney magic and nostalgic longing and spring runs in grey rain that pops the green around it to emerald. I’m from the yellow brick road and ruby slippers. I’m from future motherhood and impending marriage, from homeschooling and farm steading and sustainable support. I’m from your local library, from mood swings and crazy and chocolate and caring. I’m from my parents standing by the fountain, my mother’s long hair and lace wedding dress contrasting my father’s handle barred mustache.

I’m from a chalkboard in my mother’s hand, written in front of bare walls in a freshly built house. I’m from my grandpa’s blossom tree and my face pressed close to my sister’s, no space between us.

Where are you from?
__________________________________________________________________________________

I saw a post just like this at A Room of One’s Own. She saw it at Tales From the Reading Room, who got it from Charlotte’s Web, who saw it at Susie J’s blog back in 2007, where I believe this originated. I loved reading Jillian’s, and couldn’t wait to add my own! Also, this post is part of my:

TSS: Happy Easter!

So, this post is technically totally cheating! It’s not a real post. It’s a post to let you know that I have a post coming. This week got away from me (appointments were made! Easter was celebrated! And Sherman has almost made it to Atlanta!) and it’s led to a bit of a lack in blog/twitter/facebook/Goodreads activity, but I’ll be back tomorrow with far more to say – I’ve a good portion of the way through Gone with the Wind (THE BANTER! EGADS THE BANTER!), I managed to cram in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in, and I’m about to start Persuasion which, as a confessed non-Jane Austen-ite (except for Pride and Prejudice), I’m a little worried about jumping in to it. But the weather here is just screaming spring, so I think it might just be perfect. I hope you and yours had a simply fantastic Easter, with lots of candy and reading and church (if that’s your thing) and family, and I’ll catch you on the flip side! My Easter present to you all? Pictures of people doing that thing we all seem to love the most: