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Archive for April, 2010

Wagon

Two of our behind-us neighbors share fowl, which I love as a former chicken-keeper and a backyard gardener who likes the company of chickens while I work. There were four, but sadly now there are three, one of the girls succumbing to something swift and sudden in the night. I’m not sure if the gal on the right is still with us or not, as they’re all the same breed (and I shot this photo last week), but I had to post this anyway. I love them and am sad that one of the sisters passed away.

I’d been doing so well with the exercise thing and even the food thing. For most of January and February and just about all of March, I was exercising every day and eating well. Then we went out to see some family in OH and I forgot my running shoes.  Work got busy and I rationalized not getting up at 5:30 to go to the gym. The following weekend, I injured my neck flying a kite (I know, right?) and then Jim discovered fancy beer and… there it is. No gym for almost a month, and only a few workouts at the prairie preserve where longtime readers know I once loved to rollerblade, especially in 2002. I can tell in just about every way – the way my clothes fit, the way my lower back hurts again, my mood, my focus at work, hormones, etc. It’s all true, that stuff about exercise being good for you and a positive force and all.

My timing for falling off the wagon could have been better, alas, so I’m heading upstairs at a reasonable hour, getting out the workout clothes, and setting the alarm for 5:30 AM tomorrow. Bleh. It’s all just so boring, this discussion of MAINTENANCE, but I got back into some old habits so quickly and feel the need to re-assess in public or something. I guess. However, this does not mean I will stop imbibing the fancy beer – Jim’s turnaround in this department has been most welcome.

Last night we had some good friends over for dinner, the fun of hanging out totally undiminished by the fact we’d had dinner out with the same family the night before as well. As we talked and ate and drank fancy beers and shared stories (mostly good) for several hours, I realized how lucky we are to have good friends, our roots in the community wending in several different directions after 14 years of living here.When we all looked at the clock and realized it was 10:30, we truly had no idea how late it had gotten. After they went home, Jim and I went on a walk around the neighborhood between rain showers. The wind had kicked up and the sky was lit up by a crazy-bright waxing gibbous moon and the trees, which are almost fully leafed out, were bending and swaying and it was really totally breathtaking – not just the beauty of the moment, but also the sudden crescendo of  a deep affection for this place and the people in it.

I felt this same warmth earlier in the day when I was out at Prairie Fruits Farm‘s on-farm market to pick up some greens and more asparagus. After I picked out some rapini and asparagus and salad mix, I went and sat with one of the farmers, his wife, a down-the-block neighbor of ours, and a friend that sits on the Buy Fresh Buy Local C-U steering committee with me for a few minutes and just talked. All of these people are really smart, very engaged, super-interesting folks with great ideas and strong opinions, and instead of feeling like I didn’t belong there, I felt like… I did. It was cool.

I’m still SO TOTALLY in 8th grade sometimes.

OK, the U2 Under a Blood Red Sky DVD Jim made us watch is almost over (they’re finishing up “40” and I’m pretty much done reminiscing about the hours I would wait for “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to come on MTV), and my “reasonable hour” is fast approaching, especially if I want to read wacky conspiracy theories in bed before dozing off.

Not much in the way of tabs this week, I’m afraid:

I wish someone would make a real movie about Mae Brussell. Or even a documentary.

Cody’s been taking some cool photos in Egypt lately

This blog is a pretty good aggregator of food policy news and some opinions; not really the place for recipes or celeb stuff

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Option

I can’t recall the exact name of this piece of farm equipment; it does something with hay (bale it? Sort it? Comb it? I don’t know). One alone on a nice day in rural Illinois is impressive enough, but once I passed a farm machinery sales lot on my way up to Chicago, and I saw tens of them stretched out across a fiery sunset. Say what you will about Big Ag, but I maintain its equipment in fascinating.

It’ s amazing how much more doable things seem when yr head has stopped pounding and yr guts have stopped begging for mercy from an unknown invader.  I’m daunted by the work I have ahead of me these next two weeks, but I don’t feel like the End is Nigh. I’ll just keep working until it’s done. The house is in terrible shape and there are weeds, many weeds, out back, but the mantra is “after the Market starts”. Mondays out of the office, I ❤ you.

[Basically, I’m choosing not to suck, not to be a jerk, not to be a whiner. Right on!]

My eldest posted a killer photo of himself in the Sahara Desert the other day. It looks Photoshopped, but nope! He was there. He said it was 85 degrees and windy during his trek.

When I showed Lilly, she commented, “He doesn’t even look like Cody anymore.” She’s right. We miss him.

Here are the tabs that are open in my browser this morning:

Information about my latest obsession, ROWE

Great, thinky reading about local food (the one about local vs regional – I’m still chewing on that one)

An old friend from high school doing the social media thing in the UK

Some lamb recipe Jamie Oliver posted that sounds tasty – if I ever have time to cook again

My sadly neglected Tumblr about food, Rations – maybe it’s time to resurrect it?

I use bit.ly to shorten URLS – is there something better out there?

Just discovered: Savage Chickens

One of the apple trees I planted is in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. I was doing research for an interview and discovered this!

First of three links about local food in Durham, NC

Second has some pretty farmers market photos

Third is about a farm-to-table restaurant, which we already kind of have here in the form of …

Prairie Fruits Farm


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Paradise

Working on a SWOT analysis for work on a Sunday night, I forgot to water the seedlings and the trees, we made breakfast for dinner, and I was in my pajamas until 1 PM.

I also flew a kite, watched some Simpsons with Jim and Lilly, and had a beer with the neighbors. I love the neighbors.

Many other things needing attention, mostly work and extracurriculars, but last night I skulked upstairs to read at about 9 PM and fell asleep after reading 2 pages. Maybe it’s me that needs the attention. I was noticing my friend Mel’s feet yesterday morning while we were waiting in line to order our breakfasts at Prairie Fruits Farm and when I asked her about the toenail polish, she was all, I chose it when I got a pedicure. Huh, I said. A pedicure. I’ve never had one. To her credit, she did not act shocked or like I was a total rube because I have never paid someone to work over my feet and toenails. She gets a pedicure once a year, in the spring, to bring her feet back into the world. Perhaps it’s time, though I am totally self-conscious about my feet and the two broken toes I’ve had and, well, they’re FEET.

In less than two weeks, I’ll become even more obsessive regarding our long-range weather forecast than I already am. Managing a large farmers market 28 Saturdays in a row is somewhat akin to putting on a wedding or rock show every weekend. The weather-related stress is sometimes awful. Should I just ignore the forecast entirely? Or should I just not allow myself to look at it until Thursday afternoons, when the meteorologists theoretically have a better idea of what will transpire? For the 2008 and 2009 seasons, over a total of 55 Saturdays (last year was the first year we had a 28-week season), we had 13 rain events (where it actually precipitated) and probably 8 more days where the skies and accompanying weather were threatening enough that it kept people away. The previous two years had seen fewer than 5 rain events TOTAL. The farmers market geek in me TOTALLY LUSTS for  2006-2007 weather.

My mind has wandered back to work, obvs. Over and out.

LA’s Urban Farming Advocates

More on grassfed beef, sent to me from my friend Stewart the Bagel Guy

Kitchen Table MFA – at first glance, I LOVE this

“For food snobs, therefore, ramps are overcelebrated and overly scrutinized, like the first ballgame played in April, even with 161 more games ahead.”

I highly recommend The Slide Clinic  – send him your worst!

This guy is another good source for helping you think through your presentations

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Industry

This entire entry will be written throughout the day, as time permits, so it’s going to be a little disjointed. That’s how I have to roll.

See Jim repair a trellis!

My friend Sam and I planted two heirloom apple trees this weekend – a Gravenstein and a Court Pendu Plat. The trees are going to be espaliered against our garage wall, which faces south. I think they’re going to grow like gangbusters, myself. I have to believe that, because right now they look like two longish sticks poking up out of the ground. I have no photos for you.

I am also having a THING about asparagus. My neighbors are already eating asparagus out of their little patch. Already!

I decided on Sunday that a bed that’s been dedicated to wildflowers for the last five seasons should be dedicated to asparagus instead. If I’d just planted it with asparagus 5 years ago, I’d be eating asparagus today, of course. Procrastination: it’s what’s for dinner, but only after I do these other, completely not-related-to-dinner things first.

Here’re, like, a gajillion recipes for asparagus.

I am totally not offended by a blog called “Shut Up, Foodie”. Nay, I giggle. All the time.

Since we’re talking about food, here’s a link to an NPR story about the benefits of grass-fed/finished beef. I’m a huge fan of the taste of pastured meats, which taste way different than the corn-fed meat. Yes, it’s more expensive. I’ve visited a farm where the beef and other animals are raised this way and it’s much more labor-intensive to manage animals this way. It’s also kinder to their stomachs and works well with the environment. I’m surprised (well, not really) NPR didn’t mention Joel Salatin or Polyface Farms. Mr. Salatin’s photo hangs in my office, along with photos of my family, Hello Kitty (actually, it’s a photo of Lilly with HK), Betty Fussell, and Michelle Obama . That’s how cool I think he is.

Finally! Someone has taken my beloved WPA/WW2 propaganda art and made it current!

Last spring, I showed a guy from NY around town and then had some lunch. Our excursions made it into this article at HuffPo. My favorite part of the article is the last sentence.

We don’t have a Trader Joe‘s here in the ChUrb. Here’s a lot of for/against at one of my favorite other Lisas’ blog. Myself? I think Common Ground, the Market, and a couple of other, smaller stores serve my needs well. Big surprise, I know.

Little newsy radio shorts about… food! Maybe if we play our cards right, something like this will come to our area. Um, yeah.

There’s more, but I’ll spare you.

Tonight I’m headed up to CHGO to see Dead Meadow and Imaad Wasif at the Empty Bottle with my good friend Stelt. Did you guys know the Empty Bottle does a farmers’ market? Talk about yr dream jobs, a true marriage of interests…

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Engine

Kites, people. The three of us (three – it’s still so weird to write that) have gotten into the flying of these largish parafoil kites. Actually,  it’s  Jim’s relatively recent obsession, but now it’s turning into a family affair. While it was quite chilly Florida this past February during B-K vacation time, the sun was out and the wind was terrific; we flew kites on both the Gulf Coast and the Space Coast rather than lounge on the beach. I admit to humoring Jim with this kite thing until I a) saw Lilly fly one and how awesome she was at it and then b) flew one myself. IT IS WEIRDLY AWESOME. We packed the kites upon our return to the midwest and waited for spring.

The past few days have offered up the spring  weather we hope for but rarely get every year here in IL – beautiful days with 35 MPH straight winds and higher gusts, all straight off the prairie, just like Kerouac. Jim left work every day, picking Lilly up from school and any friends they could scare up, and headed straight for either the soccer fields closest to our house or our beloved Meadowbrook Park. On Friday, the forecast was for the strongest winds yet, and I happened to have the day off. The 9-foot parafoil and the 4-foot parafoil were coming out to Meadowbrook, y’all.

Jim flew the big kite both standing and sitting, but it was a real struggle for him to keep his balance on his feet. Since he outweighs me by about 45 pounds, I knew that if I flew it I’d have to be sitting down. After watching him fly the big kite for about half an hour as well as watching Lilly, her BFF, and her BFF’s brother get dragged around by the 4-foot kite, I decided to give the big kite a go.

You haven’t lived until you’ve been dragged, on your ass, several yards at a time (and occasionally catching some air) by a 9-foot kite. It’s like skiing or sledding down a crazy hill – you know you could get hurt, but it’s so fun that you DO NOT CARE. The kite makes a screaming noise as it cuts though the air, and I was screaming right along with it – laughing. There were a million people at the park yesterday (and some good friends of ours were there with us) and we were all laughing at me, skidding across the grass on my butt, trying mightily to keep the kite in the air. I can’t wait to do it again.

It doesn’t seem like something I would typically do, except that it is TOTALLY something I would do. I’ve just gotten into the habit of saying no, just like I’ve said no to extra dessert and getting on the bus and interesting haircuts by future famous stylists and many other potentially-risky-but-fun-and-possibly-life-changing things for, I don’t know, 20 years? I’m not even sure why – it’s been totally self-imposed, this saying no. No one told me I had to say no to anything.

Like saying yes to  interesting opportunities that fall into my lap. These opportunities occasionally show, apropos of nothing; they’re just the Universe reminding me that I should probably pay more attention. Usually I say no, because, you know, time and potential failure and I’m so totally busy and what about the family and whatever. One such opportunity arrived last week, though, and before I could stop myself I said yes. While I still wonder if it’s wise, taking these folks up on their offer, I’m actually pretty much done saying no to stuff I should say yes to and saying yes to stuff I should say no to, because I am a 41 year-old grown-up woman who has some shit to do.  I’ll divulge more when I know more about what I’m doing. It’s not a job change, by the way. Just something new and really fun to do. Because, you know, I need more things to do, and I could definitely use a little bit more fun that isn’t flying dangerous kites in 35 MPH winds with higher gusts.

It’s been an amazing last few days, really. The weather has been mostly incredible (sun, warmth, rain, chill, freak hailstorm, more sun, more warmth), I got the greens planted (peas tomorrow after we return from Easter festivities at my in-laws’), meetings were held and things got done at work, the library had great books just waiting for me to check them out, the neighbor’s asparagus is starting to poke through the ground already, some other neighbors have new chickens in their backyard and I can see them from our back steps so I can sort of pretend they’re “on the grounds”, I’ve slept well, and while I miss Cody, I am loving and appreciating my family that’s with me while we wait for him to come back in June.

Books that are inspiring to me right now and that I keep close at all times: Angry Women in Rock, The Unprejudiced Palate, Farm City, The Town that Food Saved, & Public Produce. Jim is staring Chronic City tonight after the basketball games are over and the dishes have been washed. Butler’s in the NCAA men’s final; I am not a Duke fan, so c’mon Mountaineers.

Tabs for ye:

Female-fronted punk rock

Women of Post-Punk

My friend Beth’s blog – midcentury modern, Scandinavian design, occasionally music, inimitably Beth; you wouldn’t believe me if I told you

Beth links to this blog from her blog

More creative, arty types

Starbucks Gossip is really boring, as it happens

There’s a Toastmaster’s Club near me (and probably you, too!)

My pal Jessica interviews Joanna Newsom for the CHGO Trib

I would love one of these front doors

I need to get my hands on some Hop Henge

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