Friday, March 26, 2010

your moment(s) of zen.

since the beginning of the year the boybarians and i have been doing a study of school lunch offerings in america. it has been nothing short of FASCINATING and HORRIFYING. seriously.

further, our study has taken us all over the world to see how school lunch gets treated outside of america. and i must tell you, it is treated well. very well in a LOT of places. in fact, based on our studies of what is offered where, i've decided i would very much like to be a french nursery school student, aged 4. dude, those kids eat WELL.

not so much here. school lunch in america is in a critically poor state. we need revolution, change, and quick. in short we are harming our children and setting them up for a lifetime of nutritional FAILURE. in length, the powers that preside over how the school lunch program is administered make it a morass of paperwork, rules, guidelines, etc. and so forth and so on. they have taken the act of feeding children and broken it down into a complicated matrix of boxes that must be ticked. it is not about food, it's about the administration of funds, preservation of supply chains, cutting costs where ever possible, and percentages of 'nutritional elements' that must be met. i put that in quotes because i've seen these lunches, and nutrition isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

enter jamie oliver and his food revolution. a new series on ABC friday nights. and it's good. he's been working on revolutionizing school lunch in the UK for the last 10 years and he's bringing his mission here.

he's mouthy, presumptuous, pushy, judgmental, and he uses the word 'crap' to describe food. but he is right on and comes full force from a place of love. love for children and real food. he is committed and he's awesome to watch.

plus, he doesn't just want to come in a make a media splash for his own gain and then leave. he wants to teach people about real food. what it is and how to cook it. because if you know how to cook even one or two dishes you can branch out. and seriously, that's sometimes all it takes. something as simple as just knowing about what foods are and how to prepare them. it's about education and support. because a lot of people never learned how to cook even the basics, and because of that must *rely* on prepared foods. and that is sometimes passed down generation to generation. could it really be as simple as teaching a few cooking techniques? jamie oliver thinks so and i agree with him.

i grew up poor and ate well. because there was real food and cooking in my home. with pots and pans and knives and spatulas. and i am not suggesting that junk food and 'crap' food don't have a place in the world. because good lord we know i do love the cheeseburgers and have been known to crave 'crap' and indulge in it a time or two.

BUT everything in moderation, right? and daily school lunches with all their sugar, fat, salt, and carbs, day after day, 180 days a year? every single day. no, that's not right. not at all. not to mention the children who are having school breakfast, too. two meals a day filled with sugar, fat, salt, carbs. 180 days a year.

look, i know i'm lucky. i home school and my kids get to make their own lunch every day. we have the time and resources to make it delicious and healthy.

but just because my kids don't go to public school doesn't mean i don't care about the kids who do. quite the opposite. just like i support all the school bonds and levies that come my way, and am all too happy that part of my property taxes go to support the public schools, i want to support the change that needs to happen in the public school lunch programs across the country.

i know there are a LOT of people trying, working on this very issue. and have been for a long time. affecting change where they are. good people, smart people. but let's face it, jamie oliver is huge and if he can get this the attention it deserves fast and now, then more power to him. because this needs to go nationwide. and there isn't a second to lose. because we are losing people we love to diseases borne of bad nutrition. and it starts when you're young. and it's perpetuated in the schools. and we need to change that. now.

it is that spirit that i bring you this installment of your moment(s) of zen. please know, it's 43 minutes long, so watch it when you have the time to spend. because it's worth it, and it's important. and please, watch it with your kids.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Fridays 9/8 c ABC.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

why i love baseball.

you must understand those are words i never thought i'd type. but, it's true.

i've never been one to like or understand sports. in theory, sure, but in person? like playing or watching? not so much. maybe it's my ADD (self diagnosed, which is the best kind of diagnoses in my opinion) or my lack of coordination, but sports just weren't ever my thing.

i especially never understood baseball. maybe it was the tempo of the game? slow and boooooorrrrrriiiiiinnnnngggg, like the golf i used to watch with my grandpa. and it may also have had something to do with all that math, statistics, averages, blah blah blah. slow and complicated. wow, fun. sounds like a former relationship i was only TOO HAPPY to ditch.

so imagine my surprise when the duke hit me with wanting to play baseball all those years ago. not that we aren't an active family, but sports? especially as organized and intense as little league baseball? he had tried soccer the year before and didn't seem especially into it. he tried basketball and the same was true. and to me, those were the exciting sports! but, baseball?

of course i signed him up and of course he took to it and lo these many years later he's still playing and enjoying it. (as an aside, wingman plays too, but i'm focusing on the duke for this one.)

and watching him play is one of my favorite things to do. i am proud of his dedication and commitment to being a good team mate. i am proud that he continues to improve, and that he continues to ignore the crap that can come about when a bunch of boys the same age hang out together.

oh i know, i have complained about the time commitment, the other parents, the coaches, the cold, the proximity some of the best cheeseburgers on earth and my battle to ignore them, mostly, about the mouthy kids, about the nepotism, and the politics, and joke about carrying and flask, and so on and so forth.


that's just me being my charming self.

what i love about baseball is watching a team develop. despite all the differences and the politics and the posturing and the popularity of some and the lack thereof of others, there becomes a moment on the field when you see this group of boys and they become a team. and for a moment, or a few strung together, life becomes simple again. a group of boys with a common goal, basic and slightly primal, working together. cohesive. communicating. because it doesn't happen if they don't. getting a job done. a bat, a ball, a base. and they will win or they will lose, but for awhile, it just becomes all about the journey.

a few years ago we were lucky enough to go to spring training in arizona. and while the boys trooped off for games i was happy to lie about at the hotel and do...nothing. but they forced me to go to one game. i groused, (silently) but i went. and, i LOVED it.

it was warm, the day was as fine and blue and soft as you could want, my kids were having the best time, and i got to drink beer and eat a ball park hot dog. and we were close enough for the game to be interesting. now this, i thought, this is nice. too bad it never happens like this at the duke's games.

but the other day it did. the first (mini) game of the season for the duke. oh sure, the sun only came out between gusts of icy wind and the occasional parting of overhead clouds, and there was no beer and no professional ball park hot dog. but there was a moment when the clouds parted and the sun was shining and i realized that i was doing something i really really love to do. after all these years. watching my boy grow right before my eyes on the field, watching a team come together, the rest of us in the stands. enjoying the game and the day.

baseball is as simple or complex as you want it to be. it's changed so much since it was first invented, and, yet, in the grand scheme of things, so very little. and that is its charm right there. it's just as you remember it. and that is such a comfort these days.

i wonder at the country and where we are headed. so much division and vitriol, a lack of a common focus. i worry for the youth with access to so much technology that basic communication skills are ignored in favor of the instant and right away. that cohesiveness for some lasts as long as a text, an IM, or a thread on facebook. and then that's it. on to something new. that because of all this technology you don't really have to 'maintain' an actual friendship any more. that the screen is enough to bond people.

and i worry that people don't journey together anymore towards a common goal. and even if they do, that those goals are ever changing based on what's being offered at.that.moment. that it's all about the end product. that it seems every person is out for themselves, and we are passing that along to every younger generation. that things are so instant there isn't time enough to develop real relationships anymore.

so yeah, i love baseball. it slows things down and brings the simple to focus. it's familiar and timeless. even if it's just for part of an afternoon. and especially so on those few days in may and june that are so sunny and perfect they just want to make you weep. especially baseball with my boy who all too soon will no longer be a boy. it is, and has been, a magnificent gift.

now if they only sold icy cold beer at the snack stand. because an icy cold beer would go PERFECTLY with those cheeseburgers. hey, it's a free country! (for now) and a girl can have any dream she wants, right?


Thursday, March 18, 2010


there's a young mother of a child my child's age missing from the town next to me. her child goes to school 4 miles from my house. her child is missing, too.

the van was found partially submerged in one of the many waterways in this area. there are bodies of water and wooded areas and roads being searched. they are somewhere or they are not. and there are a lot of puzzling clues that don't seem to fit. or they do. and then they don't. she's at fault, or she isn't.

it's a funny thing about being missing. it's almost as if time has stopped for the person(s) missing. and yet it goes terribly on for those who remain. and sadly, entertainingly on for some.

where does one go when they're missing? are you missing just because you can't be found? is there something more? what is it? we wish we could just ring up the missing and ask. we hope we get the chance to ask.

what i have learned from the past five days of her being missing is that missing sucks. it sucks for those who are left behind, those who are searching, those who are questioning, those whose job it is to find the missing. but i've learned it especially sucks for the one who is missing.

i've learned that when you're missing, EVERYTHING is fair game towards finding you. your past and all its glories and heartaches, your recent triumphs or troubles, the suspicions and opinions long held by your neighbors, family, friends come to the surface. things you should never know people are thinking about you are everywhere and now everyone knows. your boss your neighbors your family your friends your community your kid's school the teachers the parents the lunch ladies they all know what others have been thinking. what you did in your past before now.

when you're dead, people only say mostly glowing things about you. they forget the past and they forgive the errors of your ways, the missteps. they may even embellish it a bit towards the positive.

but when you're missing, when you're missing people don't do this. they do the opposite. they play arm chair detective about the past relationships, the failures in judgment, the tattoos the drinking the life lived as lives over time are and every aspect of it comes to light. becomes important. they are clues. and we whisper them over fences and type them in the comments section of the new sites and smugly repeat them in articles and on the local news.

whoever you worked to become falls away and you are just the sum of a lot of parts. and not in a good way. your past is not a long and winding path to the person you've become, it's just a bread crumb trail to this inevitable fuck up.

when you're missing, at first it's sad and scary. there's a flurry of activity. where are you!?! and then it becomes your fault somehow. at first they say 'oh she could never.' and then they start listing the reasons why she probably did. innocent then guilty. guilty as all her past sins. because if it's your fault it can't happen to us. why are you doing this !?!

and i have to think that we don't wish the missing person malice. i have to think this is protection. for us. those who are not missing. because it could happen to anyone. couldn't it? it could happen to you or your kid it could happen to your neighbor your sister your friend.

oh, but not if we didn't have this suspect past. not if we don't buy wine in the big bottles or run around with friends with tattoos. not if we don't love the wrong people or grow up in the wrong town. well then, yes. that's different. yes. that's not us. we aren't her. so it couldn't happen to us.

i check the news every day. many times. i think about her and the boy. i hope she wasn't drinking and driving with the boy in the van, which is one of the theories. and by hoping that i fall victim to that which i am speaking out about. sigh. i am silly and mortal. still, i worry. i try to imagine that it isn't the worst case scenario. i try not to silently judge with the little bit of information at hand. i try to remember she is a silly mortal too. and i am glad for these few days when the weather's been fine, brisk, but sun shining. worried at the cold nights. worried for her and the boy.

where do you go when you go missing? and hell, what happens if you come back? what do you come back to? will you come back?

i don't know why this woman is missing. she just is. and i hope for her and i pray for her. and for the boy. may they be safe. and may things work out for the positive. and i just hope that if i ever went missing those who knew me would be kind. would understand that it wasn't of my own doing and use snippets heard here and there, or witnessed, as trial and jury and verdict.

because i've made a lot of mistakes and missteps, possessed suspect judgment and employed whacked thinking, i've been wrong when i thought i was right, and i have made a mess of things a time or two.

and i would hope that people see that those aren't bread crumbs to the inevitable fuck up. that they are steps on a path to who i am today. evidence not leading to an 'obviously' bad conclusion, just evidence of a life lived. and sometimes lives are messy and some of us just work everlong to pull them up and forward.

if i ever go missing may the world be kinder to me than it is being to this woman. because while all of it may be clues, and those clues may add up to fault, right now it's still her life. her one beautiful life. and the boy, his life. his mom. and we should be more mindful. facts, not judgment. until we know. and even after. even after we know, regardless of the outcome. of fault. be mindful. because unless you've walked in those shoes, you just can't ever know. you can't.

god help us who meet trouble on the path. and save us from those who find out about it.


Monday, March 15, 2010

love and loathing in the pacific northwest.

i enjoy reading the local news sites on the interwebs. mainly because this is where i live, but mostly because the comments section is so hilarious, heartbreaking, and typical.

i like to joke about where i live and call it my (red)neck of the woods. i say that with love AND loathing, which i find to be a fabulous combination that cannot be applied randomly.

i live in a beautiful area. gorgeous and heart stopping in some cases. and while it's funky and mostly a tear down to some, my own particular little spot and abode makes me happy. and is especially beautiful this time of year.


there are things about where i live that make it less than ideal. for me. community wise. and i didn't consider this before we moved out here. had i considered it before i don't know that we would have. who knows. we're here now.


lately there is a lot of good, and good news going on locally. a new store in the town two towns away that is selling only locally grown produce, dairy, and meat, and locally made products. essentially a year round farmer's market indoors. that's pretty cool.

in the past decade since i've been here i've seen a walking trail put in right in the middle of the retail hub of the county. a beautiful and enjoyable and scenic walking trail. long enough and diverse enough to be worth it. with wetlands, and big trees, and salmon, and it goes right by costco and you don't even see it.

i've seen bridges and roads re-done to better encourage and protect the salmon streams that run through our county, and no less than three new parks built in my town alone.

i've also seen the library levy FAIL by a huge margin because there are 'other things to worry about more.' don't get me started on that. we lost hours and vital resources at all the libraries because of it. i wrote the letter of my life to the editor about that one and would have written more but the profanity. oy. like a runaway toyota i put both feet on the brakes of profanity but it wouldn't stop coming. so, naturally i kept the subsequent letters to myself.

we also don't have a trader joe's. still. it's TWO THOUSAND TEN PEOPLE! i've lived here TEN YEARS! and NO trader joe's. i consider THAT a failure of epic proportions.

but what we DO have are plenty of sexpresso stands. which, as some of you may already know, i like to keep my eye on. oh jeeze, not literally, but the whole thing just makes me giddy. it's like a carl hiaasen novel come to life. i love how people get so up in arms about it. those who think it's okay, those who think it's the devil's handiwork. mostly i love considering the safety and the practicalities, and lack thereof. i've said it before and i'll say it again, i don't have anything against women taking their clothes off for any reason, if it's consensual it's your own business. BUT

all that steam and hot liquid, all that exposed flesh. it's just an accident waiting to happen.

so when there's an article or a letter to the editor about a new stand going up or just the existence of them, as you may imagine the comments section always makes for a good read. the two camps get going and you just can't stop them.

the people who are *for* think that the people who are *against* are all 'repressed middle aged women who used to be fun but who have let themselves go and are now bitter.' the people who are against always drag out the 'what if this was your daughter you pervert wacko in god's name why in the samhell do you need to see boobs and butts while you get your morning coffee?' argument.

but what i really love are the gems. the comments that really have nothing to do with the debate, but just because somebody wants to make them. these are usually made by people you've seen before. the serial commentators who seem to treat the on-line local news comments section as their own personal social networking site. maybe they couldn't figure out facebook? or they don't have enough followers on twitter? but they are always there and they always have something to say about 'everything.' and by 'everything,' i mean 'themselves.' because while they relate their comments somewhat to the article, it's usually just all about them.

so this last most recent article was no exception. but there was one comment that just made me laugh out loud because while it was all about the commentator and not about the actual debate at hand, it was so perfect, and summed the whole thing up in a nutshell.

'fasteddie' wrote, and i quote, "The best times of my life were when naked and around other naked or semi-naked women."


and therein lies the rub, pardon the pun, of the whole argument. you're up against a lot when you try to argue against women getting naked for business purposes and men paying for it. coffee or all the otherwise. there's just too much there. biology, history, whipped cream being sprung from a can.

that being said, and all kidding aside, i really sincerely hope i don't ever go missing from this town or get into the kind of trouble that would put me in the news. of course for the obvious reasons, but mostly because people are cruel and terrible about other people when given half a chance.

recently a young mother and her son went missing and the comments section was mostly positive and full of prayer and hope. mostly. because a lot are just awful.

and then you get this, "There is more to this story but you can kind of read into the lines. First of all, this lady has a tattoo. I wouldn't be surprised she is into drugs and some drug deal went bad. Why do she and the son have different names. She does not come from any stable family background."

yeah, because tattoos equal drugs, and male dominated patriarchal naming practices equal a stable family. right. i know it's almost as tiresome to be irritated about that kind of viewpoint as it is a tiresome viewpoint to have given the time we're in, but i'm irritated nonetheless. and as i said, unfortunately comments like that are not atypical. and says a LOT about the place where i live. and the people i live around.

do you see now why i was so upset at the library levy fail?

and it makes me angry about and sad for the closed minded asses of the world, especially those who live here, where i live. and for my children who have to grow up around them and their kids. and for my community whose future depends on them.

but mostly it just makes me miss fasteddie.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

your moment(s) of zen.

when i was about 4 years old i got lost at the oregon museum of science and industry. i was with my mother and father and older sister. i went into a bathroom while they waited outside. the bathroom had two ways to get in and out and i went out the way i didn't come in. and no one was there. and no one came. and i was never taught, or didn't remember, that if you're lost just stand still and someone will find you.

so i did what i thought i should. i left the museum and somehow found our car and stood by it. in the rain. for a really long time. while everyone inside the building panicked and locked the entrances and searched for me. when they finally thought to come outside and check, there i was. next to the car. in the rain. and my mother and father grabbed me up and hugged me. and then my dad spanked me.

there are all kinds of ways of being lost. when you're little and when you're big. and i don't think there's anything wrong with being lost, as long as you have a few tools. the ability to be patient, don't panic, keep breathing, and above all just stand still until someone finds you. really, just stop. someone will find you. always.

it is in that spirit that i bring you this installment of your moment(s) of zen.

and if any of y'all do this to me, i will cut you. LOL! no. seriously. y'all gotta phone. use it.

keep in touch!!


Thursday, March 04, 2010

this life. right now.

it's easy to wake up in the morning to the sun and the birds and believe that it's a new day. and that anything is possible.

and then your feet hit the floor and the day begins. and that day brings what it brings.

today is filled with pain and heartache and brokeness for some people i care a great deal about. and that breaks my heart. and it reminds me. and humbles me. because while i am having my own problems here it's easy to forget the bigger picture. and the bigger picture is that if you are lucky to have love you are lucky enough. if you are lucky to have your family near you and healthy you are lucky enough. if you are lucky enough to have a brain that's working and a heart that isn't breaking then you are lucky enough.

nothing else matters in this world. nothing. not houses or jobs or vacations or things or the lack thereof.

i forget to be grateful. i forget to be open. i forget this is my one beautiful life. i forget that i am the luckiest girl in the world. sometimes i forget. i am silly that way. mortal.

and sadly, sometimes it takes seeing the pain and destruction in the world and another person breaking down to remind me to stop and be grateful. for all of it. the good the bad and the ugly. because in the face of the alternative, and there are a LOT of alternatives, it's all beautiful. it's all good. and i am lucky enough.

be good to yourself. be good to others. this is your one beautiful life, right?