Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I am spending more than a usual amount of time thinking these days.

I feel a need to be quieter than usual. I still love my friends and family, of course, but I just need to do some good thinking.

I'm thinking about life changes. Small things related to food, spending, the house; bigger things like how I spend my time (my most precious resource). All of it is really about thinking through my values.

I believe that one of the reasons I've been out of synch is that I'm out of synch with my own values. I forget what is important to me, and things spiral downhill. Interesting idea, anyway.

But this recent spiral was part me and part medication. I am very grateful to have a basic understanding of what is normal and what is not so that even though my mind was going nuts and my emotions were running out of control, a part of me remained sane enough to know "this isn't right" and "seek help!" A call to the therapist, an adjustment in meds, has been helpful. It's a week I don't particularly want to relive, I promise you that.

Trying to get back to a more even keel.

And now, back to my book. Kingsolver is very interesting to me; her older work (short stories, fiction) was interesting but not earth shattering. "The Poisonwood Bible" was an incredible work, in my opinion, a truly fine book. Her autobiographical, scientific exploration and cultural study of food in her most recent book is fascinating.

The other reading I'm doing right now (besides Mary Oliver, The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, and Pema Chodron, in addition to The Daily Word and Shambahla Sun magazines) is "Little House in the Big Woods," which is the Laura Ingalls Wilder book (the first of the series). My Aunt Ann & Uncle Bill gave it to me one year when I was little, and I still remember how much I loved it. My mom and dad gave Tessa the series for her birthday, and we have begun reading it (and discussing the idea of life without electricity, girls in long dresses, butchering one's own meat, growing one's own food, living far from a town or neighbors....) together. It brings back great childhood memories for me, and it also creates interesting discussion with Tessa and I.

What is most interesting, perhaps, is the intersection of "Animal, Mineral, Vegetable" and "Little House in the Big Woods." They are not, perhaps, so different, despite the different centuries/millenia in which they were written. They are both food focused. They are both about finding happiness with family. They are both about the natural growth cycles of nature, the weather, crops, families. Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in synch with the world around her; she ate what was in season. Kingsolver is attempting to do the same.

I've been thinking about applying this to my own life. Could I really do it? Would I want to? It seems easy to give up fresh strawberries in winter (frankly, they don't taste that good anyway....a fresh strawberry off the vine in the summer and a wintertime Costco strawberry taste like they're from different planets, let alone different seasons) but could I give up fresh mango?

I believe in the slow food movement. I believe in the local food movement. I believe in organic food. I believe that it is ridiculous that as a planet we manufacture far more food than we can consume, and yet millions of people starve. Chemicals are not food, and people in Seattle aren't meant to eat fresh pineapple....and so the cost is real (fuel, pesticides, etc).

But what am I to do about it? Hmmm.

I am thinking of starting a very small, unambitious vegetable garden this summer.

I also read in the "Little House" book that winter squash and onions were stored in the attic for the winter. We have an attic which is unheated but accessable; maybe we could do this. Could I figure out a kind of "root cellar" to store fresh food? In this way, could I buy from the farmer's market (I said I would plant a "very small" garden, not enough to feed my family for a winter!) and then eat it all winter?

Would my family agree to this? Would they think that it was insane to give up cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers for the winter?

Would I actually consider canning? Canned tomatoes taste excellent; I've never developed a taste for canned fruit. But I did make jam last eyar; maybe we could do more this year?

I'm not giving up coffee. I'm NOT. Don't ask. It's too much. Hey, I had cancer. Gimme a break. A girl needs her coffee. (Not wants. Needs.)

I'm looking at my carbon footprint. I'm looking at the way that I pollute the earth, and my own body. I'm looking at my values.

I've considered only buying used items for a year, except perishables and things like TP, soap, etc. I have "enough", I'm sure (closets full of things, cupboards bursting....), but could I do it?

I want to figure out my place in the world. I want to be able to sleep at night knowing that I am giving the best of myself to myself, to my family, to the world.

I can't even remember to bring my commuter mug to the coffee shop so I don't use a paper cup. Can I really make these big decisions and live by them?

No promises. Just ideas.

But I am certain that my depression is in part because I am out of synch. I need to look at the big stuff. This is only a little piece of it, a tiny corner of my mind.

And now, really, off to read. I hope to sleep well so that Tessa and I can visit my mom tomorrow and enjoy the day with her. Ryan comes home tomorrow night, too.

That's all.


Anonymous said...

After this post, I'm sure you will like "In Defense of Food". The short: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Avoid the "food-like substances"; that is not real food.

I'm attempting a lot of the same things you have have mentioned for quite some time. Gives me a healthier obsession than cancer.

I can't give up coffee either.

Julie said...

I'm out of sync too and can really appreciate and relate to this post.