Tuesday, March 23, 2010

While the Smugavore sleeps….on to other matters.

Enough with the food journey. Let’s talk about the Haus.

Spring has sprung here in the mid-south and that usually brings a slew of additional items for the Frau’s never ending to-do list.  I need to come clean about the fact that the to-do list to which I am referring is not a constantly evolving, daily or weekly, ‘life-maintenance’ to-do list like most people have. I am referring to the to-do list containing all of the stuff I NEVER DO. The projects, the trash-to-treasure stuff cluttering the basement and my spare room, the shelves to hang on the wall, the curtain rods leaning against the window sill, the unplanted bulbs in the freezer…. THAT stuff.  See, I am a ‘junkie’ which means I drag stuff home from tag sales, junk store, and the side of the road because I think ‘ I can make something sooooo cool with this useless piece of crap.’ And given the time, skills, and resources, I probably could. But I don’t, so it all sits there, in my way of doing anything productive/creative/enjoyable at all.

So, I go about the business of deciding where to start. This is problematic for a number of reasons.  I’d like to blame it all on a lack of time but let’s face it…this has been a lifelong struggle for me. Even when I have more time, I can’t decide where to start. I choose activity A. But while I gather things mentally for activity A I think “wait…I can’t do this because activity B should be done first so it is out of my way and then I can move back to activity A.”  And so on, and so on, and so on. Like some Faberge commercial from hell, I find myself in this self –perpetuating, replicating spiral where I end up right back where I started. My mind tries to seek out the deepest, darkest corner of my house which seems like a good place to start and work my way out. I feel the need to find that farthest corner, reach my hand in, grab the end and pull it inside out. The layout of my house even provides a visual image of this. It looks like a DNA spiral that starts in the upstairs closet at the back of my spare room, spirals its way down two stories of house and into the deepest darkest corner of the basement, which has rooms and closets of its own. Somewhere along this strand, there is a fold in the time-space continuum and you always wind up back where you started. You could play the Kevin Bacon game and find far fewer than six degrees of separation between all of these projects. There is no way out.

A dear friend of mine once shed some light on this for me. At the time I considered myself to just be a slob who couldn’t organize herself well. But this friend suggested that I was, in fact, not a slob but a perfectionist. As two days worth of dirty dishes, two weeks’ worth of laundry, and two months worth of dust bunnies passed before my eyes, I was intrigued. Being a perfectionist is certainly more appealing than a slob right? She said that I was paralyzed to do these things because I felt like I couldn’t do them until I did them ‘just right’, wholly, completely, and…well…perfectly. And she was right. I have a hard time just straightening a closet for a few minutes; I need to empty it first. I usually can’t just cook a nice dinner for four people; I have to ‘power-cook’ multiple meals for the table and the freezer like I am cooking for a bunch of farmhands.  I know the old adage “you can eat an elephant one bite at a time” but I routinely kill my elephant and leave the remains to rot.  My dear, supportive husband just looks at me with that weary note of resignation on his face and says “you need help.”

He’s right…but who can help me?  I am unaware of any 12 stepper, ‘messie’ meetings going on in my neighborhood. With this sort of pathology, I am really the only one who can help me. But I need some info, some support, some inspiration, and some accountability. So how about it fellow Fraus…anyone have experience in this area that you’d like to share?  Any recovering clutter addicts/perfectionists out there? Bring it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So far--ee, so good-ee

Ok…so, admittedly, I abandoned my blog for a month. But my husband was gone for the ENTIRE MONTH OF FEBRUARY!   And I have that baby now that takes up all my free time. At the end of each day I ask myself “What did I actually spend all of my time doing before Cori was born?”  Unfortunately, the answer is “Not much.”

While I was playing single parent in February, the household made the switch to organic dairy and eggs and I still retained extra money in the food budget at the end of the month. This was kind of weird since that never happens.   I always spend it all. But hey, I was happy and hope we can do it again this month since I am paying for roaming chickens from the farm.  Admittedly, there’s still some crappy convenience food in the pantry and we will probably eat it this month. But I bought quinoa from the bulk bin at the hippie store; shouldn’t that count for something? By the way, the hippie store is our local food co-op, not a place where you can buy hippies.
The most exciting news is that I have signed up for a CSA share or Community Supported Agriculture share for the family’s produce. For the low, low price of $15 per week, my family will receive 6-10 lbs of produce direct from a family farm just a few miles from where I work.  This amount is actually a ‘half-share’ as we are splitting the share with another family until we get used to a constant influx of fresh produce that must be either cooked and consumed immediately or canned/frozen for later use.  And although the thought of that pile of produce staring me in the face each weekend is a little unnerving, I am very excited to let the bounty of the week decide what’s for dinner.  So organic produce just got cheaper, we’ve reduced our footprint by eating locally, veggies became the focus of our diet, and a farmer gets paid a fair price for his hard work. If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, visit www.localharvest.org and search CSA.  
I have also tried to figure out a name for what I am trying to accomplish with the food thing. There are so many reasons I am doing this and some are harmonious while others just...are. So I thought about my motivations and they are as follows:
1) Health- The obvious reason.
2) Environmental- Reducing packaging, energy use, herbicide, pesticide, & fertilizer run-off, etc.
3) Community- Supporting someone locally to do something not many people do anymore.
4) Frugality- I am cheap and cooking from scratch saves money.
5) Humanity- The family farm is a lot friendlier to animals than commercial Ag is.
6) Stick-it-to-the-man-ity- The revolving door between agribusiness and the FDA is infuriating. The fewer dollars I give them, the happier I'll be. I also don't trust them to be stewards of my food supply...e.coli with your spinach anyone...? anyone...?
There wasn't anything that would take into account the above list and make a cohesive, coherent statement. So I decided I was taking myself far too seriously when it hit me. I thought of the one thing that would  be an undertone to all of the above, especially if I succeeded.
I am Smugavore. Welcome to the fold.