Monday, February 21, 2011


This is my 9th entry in my This I Believe series.


In keeping with the major holiday of this month, I decided to write and think about love tonight. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts in my head about this topic, so I hope that it comes out more clearly.

LOVE is so cliché and original; it’s such a paradox. It has to be cliché because it’s such a driving force behind so much of our daily lives. And when it’s so important, people notice it, and then they write/sing/joke/obsess about it. I believe that love is the impetus in some capacity behind our other most intense emotions. Think about hate, even in its gentler form—anger. We hate ourselves/others/things because they are the antithesis of what we love. Or we get angry when something is wrong with what we love.

Right before I started typing this, I happened to notice the scrolling pictures that I have on my desktop of all of the pictures that are saved on my computer, which is not an insubstantial amount now. Just the briefest of glimpses of Abby, and I felt all warm and melty inside. What an intense emotion LOVE must be if even the slightest image illicit such a heady response so quickly. I choose to believe in the power of LOVE as transformative and more inspiring than the LOVE as evoking hatred/anger/negativity in my earlier example. I also feel quite strongly that if we always know how to love, then we’ll ultimately be okay as a whole. I believe in peoples’ desire to want to LOVE.

I read in some shmarmy novel once well before I had entered into anything resembling a serious relationship that you have to accept being loved, and that idea always has stuck with me. I also like it because it implies, again, that people ultimately desire LOVE. And, if we want to be loved, then I believe its inevitable that people will want to reciprocate love as well.

But my favorite LOVE is what I see and experience in subtle ways every day. It’s the really awkward teenage couple at school who want to be affectionate with each other but even more strongly want to abide by school rules and so air kiss and then hurry apart. It’s my Valentine’s Day “present” this year—Ben took care of recycling the recyclables because it was something to make my day better. It’s my dad, who made sure to visit or at least call my grandma every day when her health really began to fade. It’s my little girl who knocks us over with her exuberant hugs and sometimes remembers to say “uv ew” when we leave her in her crib at night. It’s my friend who babysits Abby for us and treats her like her own child though it’s not always convenient.

LOVE is phenomenal and hopeful. It’s such a dynamic force that influences so many mistakes and problems. But it’s just so absolutely worthwhile.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This matters to me

Welcome to my soapbox.

Planet could be 'unrecognizable' by 2050, experts say

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.

The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.

But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years -- tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations -- and add more strain to global food supplies.

People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said.

It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.

"More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet," Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.

Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.

"For 20 years, there's been very little investment in family planning, but there's a return of interest now, partly because of the environmental factors like global warming and food prices," said Bongaarts.

"We want to minimize population growth, and the only viable way to do that is through more effective family planning," said Casterline.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Finally, I got through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and so ends my current foray into non-fiction. I promise! For anyone out there who actually reads this and isn't gagging over me talking about books, I'm heading back into my favorite realm, fiction, next. What will be next?!?! My secret. A clue--it's not an American author and evokes the idea of metallurgy. If you figure it out, you're genius like or else my hint was way too easy. But, back to the task at book.

Interesting concept this: eat seasonally (and locally) for one calendar year. In other words, eat fresh tomatoes when fresh tomatoes are ready. Eat zucchini when zucchini is in season. Don't drive to the store and buy tomatoes in January and lettuce in December. What it essentially boils down to in this epicurean adventure is developing a intuitive relationship with food that isn't reliant on overt quantities of petroleum to supply it. Could I do it? Not at all, not the way that I'm currently set up to be. And, frankly, I'm okay with that.

In fact, I'm mostly okay with reading this book without feeling like I'm being frowned upon for the 6 oz. of blueberries that I bought at the store this week because multiple times, Kingsolver happens to mention that they still bought Kraft mac-n-cheese. Admittedly, I don't quite get this because her first mention of this was that they bought the chemical (i.e. petroleum) laden noodley goo in order to make her youngest daughter's friends appeased when they came to play. But they also denied bananas to their oldest daughter's friend. And later times when she mentioned buying the blue box magic, it really came across like she was also buying it for her family as a splurge. Hypocritical? I do believe so even if Kingsolver wasn't trying to portray it as such.

I admire Kingsolver for this smart and funny book (she's really quite sarcastic at times and laughingly pokes fun at herself a lot) and especially for the epic family resolve that her family took on upon themselves voluntarily. I wish I could do it. It's another book that makes me want to plow up my yard and scour plant catalogs. And I decided somewhere around chapter/month September that whenever I have a better little plot of land to tinker in, I will definitely need some funky hippie Wellingtons to wear as I putter around. And a plaid shirt. And comfortably worn jeans with threadbare knees. And hair that is long enough to pull into a messy ponytail or braid. Or maybe just Wellies.

But the book is delightful overall. I really think the message here is moderation not abstinence. It's a lovely read in conjunction with Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which, if you missed it (tsk tsk), I blogged about toward the beginning of January.

And for any of you out there who are like, hmm...Barbara Kingsolver...I know that name. Yes, you probably do, especially if you went to Manchester, where everyone seemed to be reading or had read or was recommending that you read The Poisonwood Bible. For the record, I much prefer her non-fiction. Scathing indictment!

Pick it up. Enjoy it as spring starts knocking on the door. I bet that it will make you want to start searching for the first green shoots of wild asparagus. Delish!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mussel-ing up courage

Over Winter Break, Ben and I went on our epic Christmas date and hit up a seafood restaurant in Carmel. From the advice of our waitress, we tried mussels for the first time. Both of us really like seafood, but it still felt squeemish-y to try mussels. Maybe it's the name.

But we LOVED them! I might have actually spooned big slurps of the buttery sauce after all of the mussels and bread was gone. Soooo yummy!

So Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect time to recreate this utterly delish dish, especially since all of my best buds on the Food Network tell me repeatedly how easy mussels are. They really are super cinchy. But...

...I spent the whole time eating them hoping that I wasn't giving either me or Ben food poisoning. And the smell. Ewwww. Definitely not super fresh just caught this morning. The smell alone will cause me to never make these ever again because it reminded me that yes, I live in a very landlocked portion of the country that is far far removed from anything resembling a coastline where fresh seafood lives. So I shall leave it Mitchell's Fish Market where they know delicious.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When the same song gets old...

(Ben is playing with Abby on the floor. They're singing songs. Abby's standing on Ben's belly and then falling down on him. You know, the normal. hehe)
1st time: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream...

2nd time: Paddle, paddle, paddle your canoe, gently down the stream...

3rd time: Paddle, paddle, paddle your kayak, gently down the stream...

4th time: This time we're going to take a viking ship...

All of these came complete with appropriate rowing motions. Fun times. :-)

Friday, February 11, 2011!??!?

Here's the deal, Ben's starting to throw this information out more and more willy nilly, so I feel free to post this, too. It's kind of like waiting until the 10 week mark when preggers (surely I'm not the only one who waited until this point?). I'm kinda afraid, so to speak, that if I dare to give voice to this, then it won't happen. But each week brings us closer to being official house hunters! Yay! Finally!!

So many things are contingent on this whole shooting match to commence.
*We must sell this house.
*We must decide where we want to live.
*We must find a house with x, y, and z factors.
*I must figure out what my future employment horizon will look like. And that's all I'm saying about that. :-)

Okay, in actuality, this is all dependent on my job. Which is contingent on me finishing my degree. Which will give me options (oh please, oh please, oh please).

There isn't a day that goes by when I'm driving around town when I'm not checking out houses that I see that are for sale, neighborhoods that might have the amenities we're looking for, or places where we could build.

I have my favorite real estate agent websites. We have the real estate guide bookmarked with property circled. We dropped the little one off for a play date with grandparents tonight so that we could drive around for a bit unmolested. We were even dashing through snow banks trying to get the curbside information!

We have a lists! Must-have features, and must-not-have features. DIY projects around the house to make it look beautiful. Places we will live and places that we refuse to even consider. We even have an official binder started.

Given the rush job we did finding this house, which, thankfully, has been great for what we've needed, I'm determined that we're going to perform a more thorough search this time. It's going to be our raising-kid(s)-for-yearsssss house, not the we'll-stay-in-this-until-we-have-one-kid-or-three-years-whichever-comes-first house. (Yep, it's been 4 1/2 years.)

Let it be known...I've never wanted to raise a child while living in Kokomo. Nope. Guess I'm being strongly reminded that my perfect plan is not necessarily the perfect plan for me.

We have changes coming, and while we're both dreading going through the hassle of selling and buying, we're also really excited!! This should be the last move that we make until, what, retirement when we move to Carmel? (You think I'm joking...) Remember that last post about gardening? That's never going to happen this summer because in our ideal situation, we'll be moving!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

dreaming of a garden

It's that time of year when cool people that I know who actually have successful gardens start thumbing through their seed catalogs, and it makes me a bit envious.

This is what my garden looks like right now (approximately--if there was not 2 feet of snow/ice on it and if it were summer time and if i actually had it nicely divided into sections and if i knew how to garden correctly).

This is what I want to have someday--a hoop house! Or, a lovely greenhouse.

Right now, this is about all that my raised bed garden is good for...playing in the dirt and letting the mint, which invasive blight that it is, grow in the raised bed even though it was never planted there.

This picture demonstrates nicely how poor my gardening skills are. I grew the pepper, which if I remember right was the only one that my raised bed yielded that year, and it was the same size as a head of garlic, which is to say...quite small.

I've found out that successful gardening isn't as easy as it looks. I thought that since I helped my mom in her garden, which looks something like this, every year, that I would be able to be fruitful and green thumby, too. Nope.

I've decided that I'm going to learn, though! But first...I need a garden. The raised bed that we have just isn't working out. Maybe we should could turn it into a minty/oregano-y sandbox???

Friday, February 4, 2011

a little bit of the schmarm

I was all set to have a dud night, a good old fashioned pity party with no one else invited. Ben took off to go to some track thing, promising not to be home until "late." Normally, this suits me just fine. I like some alone time now and again, and it's not like I was planning on going anywhere on a Friday night. I rarely do. In that respect, motherhood hasn't changed me a bit.

But tonight, for whatever reason, I was feeling like I needed people or a person or something involving something resembling a social calendar. As Ben was getting ready to take off, the litany of pity and self-blame was already running through my head.

You're no good at socializing. It's really hard for you to make friends. It's your fault that this is the life you have. You could have friends if you wanted to. You always say the wrong thing. You're basically socially inept.

But what does a mom do? Suck it up! Read countless books, giggle, chase & hide, play play play, fix feed eat clean-up dinner, read even more books (an innumerable amount), get the bath, get the lotion, get the jammies, read some more, pray, kiss, hug, tuck tuck!, whisper goodnight of course.

In actuality, this would all have happened regardless of anyone's mood. But tonight, oh tonight. I swear Abby had the panache of a smart and sassy lady. She was everything I needed. She was independent when I needed her to be! She used her words when she needed to! She had smiles for everything! She was content! She ate...everything...easily!! She was hilarious! She thought I was hilarious! She helped pick up her toys! She didn't cry once!!!

It's not that she's a little hellion or anything, but there's usually some point on any given night when there's a tear or protest about something. She's a toddler. She protests about toddler things. It's how it goes. But not tonight!!

Essentially, when Ben walked out the door, I had a little chat with my own inner hellion and tried to smack it around a little. I was not going to wallow and cry for my poor, sad self. And then Abby picked me up off of the floor and cuddled away my woes. Thank you, my sweetness.

P.S. The picture book section at our library is as big as the adult fiction section. Picture books are lots smaller than novels. So there's a t-o-n of picture books to sift through. This is great, but...impossible to sort through while also trying to watch a toddler. And, picture books encompass a huge range of abilities, I've quickly figured out. This is definitely a 2-adult field trip.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

Thanks to a bevy of snow days this week and thanks to a quickly approaching due date at the library, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in what is anymore for me, record time...about 3 days. A big reason why I was able to veritably whip through this one is that it was at worst really good and at best fantastic.

My reasoning behind reading this one is mostly because I generally adore Julia Roberts, still am anticipating getting to watch the movie whenever Netflix lets me, and thought the idea of this story was an interesting one. It is the author's memoir of what amounts to a year lived abroad in Italy, India and Indonesia following a messy divorce and a messier rebound love affair. I basically knew this much before starting to read the book, but what I didn't know was how the book is further broken down. In fact, it's pretty cool. Gilbert spent a third of the year in each of these countries, so naturally, the book is divided into three parts. But then each part is broken down into 36 mini chapters. Why 36? Because 36 x 3 = 108. Why 108? Because there are 108 beads on (I hope I'm getting this next part right and I don't have the book in front of me anymore because of the aforementioned fast approaching due date) what amounts to an Indian rosary, though the concept of these particular prayer beads apparently predates the "invention" of a rosary by quite a few...hundred...years. Why 108? It has to do with how each digit of this greater number equals 9. Just read the book. Gilbert explains it quite nicely in the preface, or the 109th bead as she calls it. Due to my complete love of neat, orderly, clean appearances/concepts, this appeals to me. It's just so...neat. Orderly.

The year began in Italy, and was by far my favorite portion of the book. As I was finishing up this portion of the book, I suddenly realized that I've been reading a lot about Italy lately. Ah well, this time it wasn't all about Italy, just one glorious part. And really, this part was, in my opinion, the best because of the sheer irreverence and sarcasm embodied throughout, not to mention the really clever description. This girl knows how to write a unique analogy.

First, Italy and serious, gluttonous pleasure. Next, India and some down to business wrestling with spirituality. Then, Indonesia and a cumulative understanding of a life that includes both pleasure and spirituality.

The story is definitely not a travel monologue (like Bella Vita and Under the Tuscan Sun tend to be); it never makes any effort to be anything except a written story of Elizabeth Gilbert's wrestling with demons. Gilbert repeatedly describes herself as the type of person who can make a friend whenever and wherever she is. Yep, I can see that. After you read it, you're a friend. She's much too intimate to still hold you at arm's length after sharing all of that.

Savor this one with some tea and maybe a pastry, but then do some yoga and meditate for at least an hour afterwards. It's essential.