Sunday, May 20, 2007

Since I never buy toys, I'm a little over-excited by my new mp3 player. It's so cute! And small! And it lights up! And it actually works the way it's supposed to! It's so little! And silver! And it has the same name as a character in the neverending fantasy series I like!

Dozens of strawberry blossoms-

but still no strawberries!

We have harvested chives and lettuce, but I'm really wanting berry season to begin....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

running update

I've been going 20 minutes straight for the past three runs; the first and last five minutes still suck, but the 10 in the middle aren't so bad. And Paco has shaped up, too- he slows me down a bit, but he's mostly gotten with the program. Running continuously rather than alternating running with walking probably confuses him a bit less.

And my mp3 player should be here by Monday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The job at SUNY Albany that I interviewed for last month finally came through! It's at the Center for Human Services Research, and I will be working on the outcomes portion of the study described here. I'll start in less than two weeks at twenty hours per week with full benefits (well, when the paperwork gets through, at least). We're not quite sure yet how we're going to cobble child care together- Dan does not want to cut his current work hours for at least a year- but worst comes to worst, he can catch up in the evenings if need be. Hopefully, though, we'll find someone to trade off kids at least occasionally for the summer, and get A into a half-day preschool in the fall. (We did the working-opposite-shifts-with-negligible-childcare for quite a while with C, and it was decidedly not fun- we hope to figure out something better soon.)

I'm thrilled to have found something that will take care of our health insurance (which has been stressful to deal with ever since I left PRA), keep my resume updated even if I don't stay there forever (I was getting worried that the four-year gap in my work history would make me permanently unemployable in my field), and give me an intellectual life outside of my family (I've been resenting Dan's work hours lately, but it was clearly more my issue than his).

Monday, May 14, 2007

I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am really inspired to make more of a point to eat local foods. The book focused very much on the pleasure and joy of eating mostly-local foods, rather than the difficulties and hardships. We're starting small, and Dan isn't completely on board, but my personal goals are to:

1) Only buy locally-grown fruits and vegetables from June 1st through November 1st. Exceptions: frozen peas (major convenience food for the kids that we don't want to commit to giving up) and lemons and limes in small quantities (I want lemon juice in my tabouli and Dan wants limes in his beer).
2) Process for the winter at least one vegetable/ fruit that we've never done before. Maybe we'll can tomatoes or pickle squash.
3) Learn to extend our growing season further into the fall, through cold-weather crops and good use of our cold frame.

The one chapter of the book I found disappointing was, not surprisingly, the one focused on meat-eating. Kingsolver and her family only eat animals that are treated humanely, and even raise and butcher some of their own. While I disagree with that choice, it is one I can respect as an ethical decision, even though it's following a different set of ethics than my own. (Eating factory-farmed meat, on the other hand, I can only view as an ethical decision if someone truly believes animals have no emotional needs and feel no pain- which of course would mean they are very stupid.)

So it wasn't so much her choice to eat free-range meat that bothered me, but the justifications that she used for it. She equates animal-harvesting with plant-harvesting, ignoring the obvious difference (sentience that we can recognize). She discusses how humans evolved to eat omnivorously (but doesn't mention how humans also originally evolved doing all sorts of things we now eschew, such as commit infanticide). She asserts that non-Westerners living in harsh environments require animals for food (irrelevant to most Americans' situations). She points out that farm animals can't live in the wild (the potential extinction of turkeys whose feet cannot support their weight is one that we should applaud). She fails to discuss hunting, arguably the most ecologically friendly and least cruel method of obtaining dead animals. She even contemplates the huge cultural void we'd suffer if there were no farm-animal-based nursery rhymes. Overall it felt like she was trying a bit too hard.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I just struggled into a pair of pants that fit me a month ago, and I must say that despite my understanding and acknowledgment of increased muscle mass, I do NOT appreciate the fact that the girth of my thighs has increased since I started running. (Doing 15-minute stretches now, at least- will try 18 tomorrow.)

Most of me thinks the Indian Lake Project (scroll to first entry) is completely fabricated, but its unsophisticated writing and lack of direction make me wonder if some of it might be real....

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver's most recent book, which I reserved at the library before it was released, has finally arrived. It chronicles her family's experiment of eating only locally-grown foods for a full year- something we've thought a lot about since hearing about the hundred mile diet last year, but that we haven't seriously implemented given the obvious restraints of our climate and- as the book points out- our current national food policy.

Some of our friends eat almost entirely local produce, living through the winter by planning ahead, canning and freezing, and relying on easily-stored foods like winter squash, potatoes, and cabbage. We make a point of buying locally- for example, choosing flour from Champlain Valley Milling and yogurt from Hawthorne Valley Farm and (I confess) ice cream from Stewarts- when reasonable alternatives exist, and we don't eat a lot of non-local fresh produce simply because we don't want to spend the money on it out-of-season. But many staples of our diet (almonds, rice, bananas, CHOCOLATE) are just not available regionally, and others we choose to buy non-locally (frozen vegetables, cherry tomatoes in February, tofu because the kids won't eat the semi-local stuff). But we certainly can do better, especially if we prepare for the looong winter before it comes. By the time I finish the book, I hope to come up with better-developed goals we can stick with for local food consumption.

I've only read the first few pages of the book, but was just blown away by the fact that 98% of the WORLD'S seed sales are controlled by SIX companies. Not U.S. sales- WORLD sales. Wow. And whenever I hear about terminator genes, I always think of them as the ice-nine of human food production....

Friday, May 04, 2007

It looks like the abandoned rail line by our house is finally being purchased by Albany County.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I'm running 8-minute stretches now, and don't know how much longer I can do it without music- I see an MP3 player in my future.