Food Shopping

Ruth Mary Hallock (1876-1945) American Illustrator

illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

Food – the kind of food we eat and the amount of money we spend on it are hotly debated topics. Because of Tim’s heart disease I’ve been on a quest to find a “diet” that will help his body cope with his compromised state of health. In 2012 we tried a vegan diet and he wound up in the hospital twice that year. In 2013 we switched to a grain-free diet and he has not been hospitalized at all, in spite of being under tremendous stress coping with his brother while he was living with us.

But I’m not writing this to promote any particular way of eating, in fact, my stance is very non-judgmental because I suspect different bodies may need different foods to thrive and avoid disease. One of the most difficult things for me about having Tim’s brother with us for eight and a half months was not that his own diet seemed so unhealthy, but that he never let up on criticizing me for “wasting” so much money on our groceries. I let him cook and eat what he wanted without comment and so wished he would have done the same for me.

I spent a lot of time fuming in my room, meditating, slowly acknowledging my anger and frustration, letting it go, examining with curiosity my beliefs about food.

There is a show on public television I watch all the time called Nature. Because I believe that nature is a great teacher, one day it occurred to me while watching an episode that the chief concern and activity of most animals, who definitely live in the moment, is that of locating and eating food. This thought helped me to see that it is perfectly natural to spend so much time and effort cooking and feeding us well.

The Atlantic, 5 April 2012

This is our story today: It is a story about how spending on food and clothing went from half the family budget in 1900 to less than a fifth in 2000.
~ Derek Thompson
(The Atlantic, April 5, 2012)

It is sobering to see that back in 1900 we considered it normal to spend over 40% of our budget on food! Today the average family spends only 10-15% of its budget on food. And most people complain bitterly about the price of food. We spend more money on fancy “starter castles” and less on nourishing food. Animals will leave their homes and travel to find the food they need to sustain themselves, but we humans demand that our food be delivered to us over great distances and at minimal cost. It seems so lopsided!

So we will continue along our current food path, scouting around for grass-fed beef and wild game, avoiding grains. Paying without questioning higher prices for local and/or organic produce. Knowing that no one has the final answers about food, but feeling much more settled about our choices.

A Good Saturday Night

darwilliamssign…sign at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
photo by Tim

dar.williams

“Dar Williams” by Andrew Rogers

The Kate is a relatively small venue, very cozy and intimate, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing Dar Williams perform there. We didn’t even mind having to sit a row apart, in the same seats, Tim in the row behind me. But Tim wasn’t in his seat much, poor guy. He still has a lingering cough from the bad cold he caught early in January. For much of the concert he was out in the lobby, where he could listen to the music without disturbing the rest of the audience.

Dar was amazing! These are some of the songs I remember her singing – no doubt there were some more: FebruaryThe Light and the SeaThe Beauty of the RainIf I Wrote YouBuzzerI Have Been Around the WorldWhen Sal’s Burned DownMercy of the Fallen ~ Crystal CreekStorm King, which she dedicated to Pete Seeger. All of us joined her in singing If I Had A Hammer in memory of him, too. Her stories in-between the songs were heartwarming and funny. It was wonderful spending an evening immersed in her music and inspiring lyrics. Beyond wonderful…

"North Star" by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) Czech Art Nouveau Painter

“North Star” by Alphonse Mucha

Oh my fair North Star
I have held to you dearly
I had asked you to steer me
‘Til one cloud scattered night

I got lost in my travels
I met Leo the lion
Met a king and met a giant
With their errant knight

There’s the wind and the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim
To know what’s right

There’s the weak and the strong
And the beds that have no answer
And that’s where I may rest my head tonight

There’s the weak and the strong
And the many stars that guide us
We have some of them inside us

~ Dar Williams
♫ (Mercy of the Fallen) ♫

Thank You for the Songs

facebook.davematthews

Dave Matthews

My songs are like a three-legged dog – you have to get to know them to have any love for them.
~ Dave Matthews
(Facebook, July 8, 2013)

I’ve been a fan of many songwriters over the years, but Dave Matthews is perhaps my favorite, his lyrics resonating with my unfolding experiences and observations, inner and outer.  In the 1990s, when my kids were teenagers listening to the radio all the time, an occasional song would catch my ear and I would ask them who it was by.  The answer was almost always “Dave Matthews Band.”  So I bought an album and was hooked. Listening to his albums would energize and inspire me to cook, clean and drive up to visit my father, giving me a boost whenever I felt too weary to go on.  Most of them were spiritually uplifting to me, or, if filled with existential angst it would be a feeling I knew well.

On my way came up with the answers
I scratched my head
And the answers were gone
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Spoon) ♫

So I have an iPod with all his music on it, and a large sampling of other favored songwriters’ music, too.  I play my whole collection on shuffle, mostly when I’m cooking or cleaning the kitchen, so I rarely get two songs by the same artist in a row.  But an interesting thing happened while Toby was living with us.  He often popped into the kitchen and asked me about a song that must have caught his ear, and it always turned out to be a Dave Matthews song.  It got to be a joke between us.  He never would say if he liked the song or not, for all I know he may have been asking in order to find out who that terrible singer was!

When I step into the light
My arms are open wide
When I step into the light
My eyes searching wildly
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Lie In Our Graves) ♫

But I think now, whenever one of Dave’s songs is playing, I will half expect Toby to come up the stairs, poke his head in the kitchen with a smile and say, “Dave Matthews, right?”

Happy Birthday, Dave!

what happens next…

Piping Plover by Mike Morel/USFWS

piping plover by Mike Morel, Puerto Rico

The details don’t matter – they belong to all of us – and loss, after all, is mostly a story about what happens next. What’s next for me, it seems, is the story of realizing that if there are answers at all, they might not be found in the broadest expanses. I find myself mostly lowering my habitual gaze-out-to-sea and settling down to rummage in these greenish-brown, often stinking, bug-infested wrack lines, the likes of which I must have skirted or stepped over thousands of times in my younger-me rush to get to the water. Sometimes I notice what lies tangled within them: the moon snail with its grotesque foot, trash turned into sea glass, driftwood, egg cases, jellyfish. And sometimes I notice what’s gone. Not just my grandiose quest, but also the vanished tangible.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)

contradiction and paradox…

“Little Girl in Blue” by Amedeo Modigliani

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself?  If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox.  One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse.  There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions.  You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.
~ Barry Lopez
(Arctic Dreams)

Vegan ♥ Paleo

4.6.12.1115

To look for a “healthy” diet can be as discouraging as a search for the “true” religion.  I spent many years extricating myself from a belief system which had at one time seemed to have all the definitive answers my teenage self was yearning for.  One would think I might have learned a lesson or two about words and ideas that sound too good to be true.

Some of my readers may remember a few passionate posts I wrote back in October of 2011, when after reading several convincing books by cardiologists I decided that Tim & I should become vegans to try to reverse his heart disease.  In my mind it was a done deal, the final answer.  But in the months following our change to a vegan diet, Tim wound up in the hospital twice, which left me feeling demoralized.  It was as if eating plants was making things worse, not better.

4.6.12.1122

One day last fall, I happened to catch another cardiologist being interviewed on TV, and he was talking about the evils of gluten and wheat, and how consumption of grains leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  And so began another round of research for me, more books, more websites, more theories to contemplate.  To make a long story a bit shorter, we have switched to a paleo diet, or caveman diet.  Wild game, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry.  Lots of vegetables.  Nuts and berries.  Hunting and gathering.  No wheat or grains. Keeping our fingers crossed.

4.6.12.1147

This time around I’m not looking at this change as The Answer carved in stone.  It’s an Experiment to see if anything different will happen.  I’m the daughter of a scientist after all. Maybe the food we choose to eat has nothing at all to do with heart disease, though somehow I still think it might.  But cardiologists don’t seem to agree on the best diet for heart disease, so I won’t list all the authors of the books I consulted.  Staying off of the bandwagon for the time being.

Last week we did have some encouraging news after Tim went in for a checkup.  He lost some weight and his progress pleased his doctor for the first time since his original heart attack five years ago.  Let’s hope we’re finally on the right track, although I am keeping myself carefully skeptical, just in case…

4.6.12.1148

photos by Barbara Rodgers

different answers…

“Landing Stage on the Lord in the Chiemsee” by Wilhelm Trübner

Why not let people differ about their answers to the great mysteries of the Universe?  Let each seek one’s own way to the highest, to one’s own sense of supreme loyalty in life, one’s ideal of life.  Let each philosophy, each worldview bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.
~ Algernon David Black
(Universal Nexus: Secret Notes on the Sum of Life)