Thursday, June 26, 2008

Food Daze

Making major dietary changes is such a huge challenge. Jacob and I have, historically, preferred to make such changes slowly, and so far we've had a fair bit of luck with that. I no longer object to whole wheat sandwich bread, for example, and we now drink copious amounts of water. We go through eggs a lot faster than we used to, but still not as fast as we'd like to given their sheer excellence as a food and our plans to have chickens. I now make and use bone broth at least occasionally, and it's starting to seem pretty easy and straightforward. And eating a lot of local and seasonal food--though we are certainly not as rigorous about this as we would ultimately like to be--is becoming more and more automatic for us.

So much for credit where credit is due. Sometimes, though, a body gets to feeling guilty for taking the slow and lazy way, or starts to wonder how much better it'd feel with a truly good diet (as opposed to a better-than-average diet, which, given the benchmark, might still be quite bad). Or, of course, there's always good old-fashioned mother guilt OhgodwhatifI'mstuntingmybabyforlife. Goldfish, while convenient, probably do not qualify as the height of infant nutrition.

The guilt, for me, mostly originates with the fact that I am more or less completely in control of what we eat in this family. Jacob is quite happy to just be fed, with fairly minimal input in exactly what he's eating, and he would have no problem eating any of the things I would consider trying to feed us. Evelyn, so far, is similarly obliging, and generally gums down whatever she's given, the only significant exception so far being potatoes. And for me, the limiting factors are, quite simply, time and ingenuity. Mostly time, although even for me ingenuity is not at its high point at 9 pm, which is often when we get around to dinner these days.

Well, and even that's not honest...I stay at home. I have all the time in the world. It's the freedom to do something constructive with said time that I lack. In one word, Evelyn. Things are getting better, though. She's more prone to getting busy playing with things for long stretches now. It's still risky, because you never know when she's going to be done playing and want Mama NOW, but it's an improvement.

But I've spent the bulk of the last two days brushing up on my nutrition, and I've got a couple of books I want to order, and I want to dig in. What's called for more than anything else is time management and good planning. For example, that broth has to be started hours or even days in advance, and the same goes for beans. Vegetables must be harvested/bought and then used in a timely fashion. You need to keep track of what you have and what you need, and make the best use of it you can, while keeping things tasty and varied. It'd be unfair to beat myself up about this too's difficult stuff when it's still all new to you. And inserting something into your schedule where it didn't used to be (like the few minutes to make yogurt, and then the few to maintain it) is tricky, especially when, well, you haven't GOT a schedule.

Okay, this is not a useful post. It's only a disorganized purging of my many feelings about improving our household diet, which I'm excited about. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008



I HATE being so isolated. I hate my mother being all alone five hours away and crying because she can only see her granddaughter every month and a half-two months. I hate being alone with Evelyn all day. I hate Evelyn being bored because she's alone with ME all day. I hate never getting anything done all day because I can't seem to balance working and coping with her needs. I hate Jacob coming home at 8-9 at night every day. I hate hardly ever seeing my friends, and feeling guilty when I DO see them because of the gas consumed. This is STUPID, and I don't see a way around it.

When there are multiple people around for her to watch, Evelyn is so much happier. When there are multiple people around to watch HER, I'm so much happier, and so much more gets done. I would honestly be perfectly glad to share living space with multiple other adults, but the world just doesn't work that way any more!

Living in ones and twos is inefficient, emotionally unstable, socially detrimental, wasteful, and supremely inconvenient. It's STUPID. How did we get so trapped? I've felt like this for years and never seen a way clear to do anything about it.

Thank goodness we at least have one set of neighbors we're very close to...without that, I'm not sure the situation would even be bearable.

Jacob, of course, doesn't see things quite the same way, since he's around lots of people most days, and almost never home alone, and even if he were, he's a true hermit...he sincerely wouldn't mind. And, of course, he's never stuck alone with the baby for more than an hour or so.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fuck moneygrubbing doctors

There, is that a clear enough start to my post?

The issue, laid out pretty clearly here (and elsewhere, I'm sure, but I'm lazy) is that the American Medical Association has joined forces with ACOG to oppose homebirth, and, get this, is saying they're going to try and obtain legislation making homebirth illegal. This is totally a reactionary move, and one that I'm pretty confident is sure to fail, since the whole reason for the white-coats (sheesh, I need to improve my command of offensive slang for doctors) getting up in arms is that, well, homebirth is gaining ground pretty rapidly. Which is fair, because it totally kicks the ass of hospital birth, statistically and anecdotally and any way you wanna look at it.

You can see the doctors' point...after all, it's their jobs at stake. And fundamentally, ACOG and the AMA are unions. Unions which apparently are okay with jeopardizing the lives and health of mothers and babies and criminalizing new mothers in order to protect their livelihoods.

I have no inclination to try and treat this subject in a "balanced" way, and honestly I can't think of what I might say in support of the doctors anyway. Scientifically, they haven't got a leg to stand on when they say that all babies should be born in hospital, and socially, I think the boat's already left the harbor and they are, for once, overestimating their political clout. But just in case they try to sneak something in there, I thought I'd relay this. One more time, in case I haven't been clear: Fucking moneygrubbing doctors can fucking bite my ass, and even if they somehow make homebirth illegal I'm having my babies at home.

The End.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Money is time

Well, we're trying to do so damn much these days that we've officially hit the point where we probably ought to just buy something rather than find the time to make it.

I'm not even sure how this happens. We don't engage in any weekly activities, we go out--generally to buy groceries--about once a week, we aren't part of too many clubs or anything. There's really nothing to 'simplify'. What we're doing is very simple...trying to keep up with the house and the yard. And I know that Evelyn is a big part of this, but I swear to you, we just can't do it.

At least, that's what it feels like to me, and perhaps to a lesser extent, to Jacob. Earlier this evening, I was trying to decide whether to do dishes or continue scrubbing rust off of a hand-me-down toy for Evelyn, and Jacob commented that the only sure thing was that whichever one I picked, the other one would just keep getting worse. Or, as I replied, if you're weeding, then the planting's falling behind, and if you're planting, the weeds are growing. My mother used to sing a traditional song that went, "Today is Monday, tomorrow's Tuesday, Wednesday will soon be comin' on...better get up and get moving; the week's half over and the washing ain't done."

There would be enough time, however, if I could, you know, actually get stuff done during the weekdays. But I can't, because I'm either trying to keep Evelyn happy or watching her. If we had a better prepared environment for her, chances are good that she would be happier AND I wouldn't have to watch her so closely. So what I need is a better prepared environment. But that takes large quantities of this mutable time/money stuff, in some combination. It moves from the basic, like installing cabinet locks in the kitchen and baby gates at strategic points (which is not simple either, because at least one of those spots really calls for a custom gate and we'd like to make one but there goes more time...) to the more cerebral, like Waldorf- and Montessori-inspired play areas equipped with high-quality toys ($$$). And then there's the simple and perpetual fact that a cleaner environment is a safer one, but you can't clean effectively while you're watching the kid in your not-all-that-safe house. And she doesn't like to be worn unless she's outside, of course, and then god forbid you do anything but walk around.

There's a long list of things I'd really like to have which Jacob could certainly make (rocket stove, solar ovens, collinear hoe, solar wax melter, solar dehydrator, etc., etc.) but Jacob has more than enough on his plate without any of those, never mind all of them. So at what point do we just say, ahh hell, we DO have money, let's just buy something for once? I'm there, but I think Jacob will never get there. Also, whenever I mention buying something for Evelyn, the fact is that he's not the one spending his day trying to keep her away from the bookshelves or the computer power source or the pantry or or or or and he's not the one that's desperate for a little peace and sanity, even the CHANCE of a little peace and sanity, even if it costs $150. I feel like I have to show him a powerpoint with incontrovertible proof that such-and-such item will repay its full value within the first child's worth of usage or something.

I am a firm believer in making things for oneself and making do and we DO..but dammit, I'm dancing as fast as I can.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Goddamn dirty hippies

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but besides obviously never having any time, I keep turning back from the brink before completely alienating myself from polite society. Well, today it's friggin' 5 in the morning and my baby won't sleep or let me sleep so I'm just dumb enough right now to jump off the cliff.

Every time someone mentions conserving water by showering less often or cutting back on laundry or washing hair less and invites comments on what other people do, I always read a long string of, "Oh, I'm cutting back, I shower every other day, but I only wash my hair when it NEEDS it, like, 2 or three times a week..." sort of responses. I'm specifically thinking of this post at Crunchy Chicken's blog, but there have been others. She just straight up asked what people's habits were, and I'll give you the first response, because it is overwhelmingly representative:

"1. Shower every other day
2. Wash hair every other day
3. Brush teeth twice a day
4. Floss once a day
5. Haircut twice a year
6. Soap and toothfloss is natural, shampoo and toothpaste is conventional
7. I'm showering less"

Now, these are generally environmentally conscious people. These are the readers of a woman who uses and heavily promotes reuseable menstrual products, gardens seriously, and has buy-nothing and use-no-plastics type challenges. It's not a mainstream group. I'm kind of forced to assume that even among the water-saving set, this is the standard. It probably sounds quite reasonable to you, the theoretical reader.

Well, I've never responded before (in that case, not least because there were fricking dozens of responses before I even read the post) because clearly I am so beyond the pale that I wasn't sure what purpose responding would serve. But...

Dear fricking GOD people, why do you all spend so much time compulsively cleaning yourselves? I know it doesn't seem that way to you, but it sure as hell does to me.

Okay, okay, let's start this way. I'll just respond to the questions Crunchy asked.

1. How often do you shower/bathe?
In cool weather, maybe as little as every couple weeks. In hot weather, if I'm outside working, maybe every day. It depends on, you know, whether I got dirty, or if I smell bad, crazy stuff like that.

2. How often do you wash your hair?
Every few weeks. Seriously. At first it's really gross, but after a couple months...well, for the first week and a half or so I'm pretty sure if you handled it you'd assume I'd washed it the day keeps the just-washed frizzies that long. After that it tapers off until by the end, yeah, it's pretty greasy, mostly because it is impossible to wash over three feet of hair while holding an infant, so I don't get to do it as often as I'd like, which would probably be more like every two weeks. When it's dirty, I cover it. Simple enough. My hair is much healthier and more manageable for it. My mother follows a similar regime, and she swears she gets far more compliments on her hair than she did before.

3. How often do you brush your teeth?
Depends on if I'm on a kick. I really do think that I should brush them every day--currently I do--but plenty of times I don't. 'Course, I also eat very few sweets, so presumably that makes a difference.

4. How often do you floss?
Uhhhh...wildly irregularly? When I have stuff caught in my teeth, which is to say all the time? Or next to never, if you only count a full-mouth flossing.

5. How often do you get your hair cut?
Every year and a half or so I get around to having my mom trim the dead ends.

6. Do you use "natural" products or more conventional ones?
I use that crystal deodorant stuff (in the summer, none in the winter), Tom's toothpaste (when I use any), baking soda and vinegar on my hair, handmade soaps or Dr. Bronner's pretty much exclusively, oat flour and dilute vinegar on my face.

7. Have any of these habits changed as you've tried to live a greener lifestyle? If so, which ones and how?
I started using more natural products, but it's been quite a while now. Years, in all cases.

This is me, Jacob's actually a lot grubbier than me. He gets dirty more and washes less. I wish he washed his hair more, but he can't be bothered. I like that he smells like a human being. The time I ran out of detergent hand ended up using a scented detergent, the first time I hugged him and he smelled like Whisk I flipped out. (We never used the rest of the Whisk). When I can smell him without hugging him, I tell him so and he usually washes in short order. We also re-wear clothing fairly extensively compared to most.

So here's the thing: Obviously our habits are way, waaay beyond the pale for your average North American, though not by any means for everywhere. But we get sick at roughly the usual rate. We have as many friends as we want and more than we can keep track of, and neither of us has any trouble making friends. None of our (much more conventional) friends has ever taken either of us aside to quietly comment that we might consider a moment with the deodorant, and we don't get suddenly offered mint gum. Jacob has a good, white-collar job and routinely gets an above-average merit raise. Our teeth are in average/better than average condition. Our skin is average/better than average. Am I missing any of the dire tv-ad threats?

So what benefit, exactly, is everyone else getting from the hundreds more dollars, thousands more gallons of water, and god knows how many more minutes per day they're spending on personal hygiene? I don't think they're healthier, and I sure don't think they're happier. They might be closer to godliness. Who knows.