Friday, December 11, 2009

Edging on Vegging

I feel like I'm edging towards going vegan.  But don't tell my husband. 

Just kidding.  In fact, I think he's one of the only ones reading this blog.  And, more importantly, he is courageously encouraging of my culinary endeavors.  Especially in light of the meals I prepared in the early days of our marriage.  My early failings in the kitchen were magnified by the fact that I followed recipes that were intended for families of four to six people.  Not two people.  So we ended up eating "Dilly Meatballs" for a few days before we decided to cut our losses and throw out the rest of the ill-fated concoction.

I'm entering through the back door to the vegan diet.  Most people start off as vegetarians, and then slowly, and reportedly painfully, give up dairy and eggs.  I'm allergic to all things dairy and eggs, so I said my sad goodbyes long ago to melty cheese and milk chocolate and omelets.  The goodbye was not so sad for most of these things.  The association between them and violent digestive events tends to sever the fond attachment to milky goodness. 

The more I read about dairy, however, I believe that I might have made this choice even if I had not been forced to do so.  Beyond the questionable claims of health benefits put forth by the dairy industry, the whole idea of drinking another creature's milk seems so bizarre to me.  Ever since I've had my own baby, and my body miraculously started producing milk, it seems so strange that we would drink milk from a cow.  In our prenatal classes, we learned about how (human) mothers' milk is tailored specifically for her baby at each stage of her baby's development.  If a baby is born prematurely, the milk is different than if the baby is born at full-term.  If a mother nurses her toddler consistently on one side, and her newborn on the other side, the two sides will produce different milk tailored to each child.  So what are we doing drinking milk that is tailored to a baby cow?  Strange.

Eggs.  Eating reproductive cells.  Again, this is strange.

The evidence seems to point that eating a plant-based diet is healthier, kinder to the environment for a number of reasons, and kinder to my bank account to boot.  I don't think there is anything inherently wrong in a moral sense in eating meat.  However, with today's factory farming methods, it is hard to support an industry that seems to disregard decent treatment of animals who are destined to end up on our dinner plates.  I am ashamed to admit that this has, for a long time, been last on my list of considerations.  That is, until I read about a cow in England who escaped from her dairy farm and was found miles away at another farm, nursing her calf.  Apparently dairy cows are separated from their calves immediately after giving birth, and begin producing milk instead 

Who would have thought that I would feel some kind of strange kinship with a mother cow?  I think I would escape the farm too and find my baby. 

I don't know if I will ever go completely vegan, but I'm content to keep moving in that direction.  I've found some amazing recipes that almost make me forget about bacon.  Mmmmm....bacon. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

I think I might be one of the oldest things in my house. And I don't even feel that old. Our house is supposedly about eighteen years old, which would seem to be confirmed by the presence of some of the original decor of an early '90's home: turquoise carpet in the closets that were not worth the cost to replace along with the rest of the carpet, the semi-circle window in the living room exterior wall, and the lovely peach-coloured floor tiles. My house is a teenager.
The major appliances are all younger than me. My clothes are old; mostly thrift-store finds and hand-me-downs, but most are younger than me. Now that we've replaced our old sofa, I'm pretty sure that I pre-date our furniture too. Perhaps with the exception of our china cabinet and dining table. These were passed on to us by my husband's late grandmother when she remarried two weeks after our own wedding. She and her new husband had the exact same table and china cabinet, so we were the lucky recipients of one of the duplicate sets.

The oldest things in my house are an odd collection of items:
A razor, crafted in 1932. The blades are still inexpensive and recyclable; who would have thought that razors in the 1930s were more eco-friendly than in 2009?

A few antique books, collected throughout the years at thrift-stores and garage sales.

 My beautiful china set which I inherited from my husband's late great aunt Katja. It's so beautiful and made of eggshell fragility that I've never used it in its seven years in my possession.

My prized waffle iron, sans non-stick poison.

 A few coins that I collected at the Cloverdale flea market years ago.

That's pretty much it.
A little ironic, I think, that it is the material things that are in fact so transient.
What is lasting in your life?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hello Again.

I’ve decided to resurrect this blog. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and wondering whether it is a worthwhile endeavor. I gave up blogging a while ago partly because of the physical demands of being pregnant, and then motherhood. I also had two more cerebral reasons for putting the pen down; ideas that are in tension with each other with one just as persuasive as the other in my mind. What if I write and nobody cares, or even reads it? Or, worse yet, what if I write and people do read it? The desire to be in community with others, and the desire to avoid vulnerability often play out like a chess match in my mind.
Recently, I tuned into CBC Radio 2 in the middle of an interview. That station always comes in clearly even out in the boonies, and the voices of the announcers are always soothing in a musical way. I cannot recall the name of the fellow being interviewed. He was a musical genius of some sort, and had, by his own account, become friends with the late, reclusive Glen Goldberg of Bach variations fame. Something he said, however, struck me with the impression that perhaps he yearned for solitude as much as Goldberg. Although this man had prescription eyeglasses, he admitted that he found it difficult to wear said glasses in public. It left him feeling too vulnerable, as he could then see more clearly all the people around him. He felt too intimate with people he passed on the sidewalk simply by being able to see them.
And yet, by my own surmising, if he was absolute in his desire to avoid intimacy, surely somebody of his probable ample financial means could avoid going out in public altogether. Instead, he chose a sort of compromise: the fogginess of his own weak vision to hold perceived intimacy at bay. I felt a certain pity for this fellow as I continued listening. Perhaps a smug pity? Certainly I am not like this man. Or am I?
I recall a day when my son was still an infant, and I had not been out of the house in several days. Actually, it was difficult to figure out just how long it had been since I had contact with the world outside of my cozy home. When you sleep like a baby, that is, when you sleep only a few hours at a time, you cease to mark the passage of time into days and nights. I set out to run some errands, hoping to interact with other adults. By the time I got home, however, I realized that I had not spoken to a single person. I used the self-checkout at the grocery store, the drive through ATM, pay-at-the-pump at the gas station, and the self-checkout for my books at the library. So much for interaction.
There is a place for solitude in life. But we were also designed to live in community with others. I came across this excerpt saved on my computer this morning and I think it has convinced me to pick up the pen again; prompted me to think that perhaps writing has something to do with both living in community, and spending time reflecting on life in solitude. I don’t know who wrote these words, but I think they came from the Henri Nouwen Society daily emails that I used to subscribe to. I think I probably posted this on my old old blog, but it’s worth reposting.

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.
Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: "I don't know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down." But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.
One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: "I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to." This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.
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