Thursday, July 22, 2010

on Challenging the Norm

I'm sitting on a stool at the counter in my kitchen turned office in our new-as-of-a-month-ago home in Southern Connecticut. Dog is at my feet; music is pouring out of the stereo... Jennifer Knapp music, to be specific...

I just bought her new album, Letting Go, from iTunes. She's been a fave of mine since college. I learned to play songs from her first album on my first guitar back then. Her music has this raw simplicity to it... at least, that album did. She's become increasingly complex, actually. And I love that about her.

This new album comes with an interesting side note that, were JK not the musician she is and had I not grown up in the conservative culture I grew up in, would be nothing more than a passing blip. See, JK is a "contemporary Christian" musician... at least, that's where she got her start. And shortly before the release of this new album, she publicly announced that she is a lesbian.

There's been a mixed reaction from the conservative Christian community regarding that announcement. It's basically a black mark on her soul, according to most. There have been calls to boycott her music. I'm sure there has been more hate mail than there should be (I'd go with... there should be NO hate mail).

Personally, I love her more for her authenticity. There's something admirably real, something vulnerable, about JK not backing down from the call of her heart. It's ALWAYS been reflected in her music. Especially now that she has to deal with the backlash of a culture that should open it's arms to accept her as she really is, no masks, no "fitting a mold."

It's a challenge that most of us who have been raised in that culture are afraid to take. Daring to question the status quo, to live outside the prescribed norm takes guts; it takes re-wiring. It's HARD. But it's not WRONG. It's the Path to finding what's Real.

I find myself Challenged. And I Challenge you. See you on the Path.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My name is Elisabeth and I am a vegetarian

1veg·e·tar·i·an Pronunciation: \ˌve-jə-ˈter-ē-ən\
Function: noun
Etymology: 2vegetable + -arian
Date: 1839
1 : one who believes in or practices vegetarianism
2 : Herbivore
(taken from:

If you know me at all you know a couple things about me:
1. My husband was raised vegetarian and maintains that lifestyle still.
2. I am from the South where all food is fried in, boiled with, sauteed in, etc., pork fat.

Growing up it was "One size fits all" and you cleaned your well-balanced plate of meat, bread, and a token vegetable. This is how the majority of middle America lives, eats, and understands the order of the universe courtesy of the USDA food pyramid. Although... have you looked at that thing lately? It's become remarkably more customizable.

When I met Noah (who is a fab cook, by the way), switching off the part of my brain that set off an alarm if meat WASN'T included in the meal was... challenging. So we started slowly.

After 7 years of marriage and gradually reducing my meat intake, the leap to vegetarianism wasn't so dramatic, at least not habitually. But I didn't stop eating meat altogether (minus fish now and again) just because it was an easy, gradual switch.

In 2007, Noah and I moved to Davis, California, so that he could continue pursuing his bachelor's degree in sustainable agriculture (he officially graduated this past June. Yay Noah!), an interest he had developed over the years. There are so many different facets to the world of sustainable ag; most exciting and compelling for me (though I was not the one studying it :)) are the impacts on social and environmental justice.

While living in the Davis/Sacramento area, we drove down I-5 to LA a number of times. You only have to do it once to know about Harris Ranch. Long before you can see the ranch, you can smell it. The odor is potent, toxic, and accompanied by a brown cloud that hangs ominously in the air for miles around. Drive by this place and it'll make you think twice about eating beef. Except that, most people forget that this is where their beef comes from!It's not cellophane wrapped, conveniently dyed and sterilized from start to finish. It comes from a once live cow that, unless you are extremely conscientious in which beef you purchase (and let's face it... consumers aren't offered too many choices in the matter), probably lived out its days standing in its own filth, fed all sorts of inorganic matter (not its natural diet) and hopped up on hormones and growth supplements. Talk about bad for the environment!

But... driving past Harris Ranch more than once was not what caused me to quit eating meat.

I had already begun researching sustainability and meat, and trying to buy my beef from places like the Davis Co-op, where I as a consumer actually had an option to purchase meat more ethically raised. But it's not enough.

I'm appalled at how little we actually know about what we eat... and about the practices of the companies that market our food to us. But I'll save all that tirade for another blog... after I do some more research.

In Winter Quarter of 2010 I took a class on Asian American literature. I've not extensively read any Asian American authors... this class offered a broad overview of female authors from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds within the Asian American experience. I learned a LOT... and I read this book:

That's My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki for those of us without super vision.

Ozeki didn't set out to make us all vegetarians with this book. But her ironic insights into the marketing of the American lifestyle had a profound impact on me. Add to that the poignant scenes describing slaughter, not to mention the consequences of mass producing livestock... and I lost the stomach for it.

I decided in February that I would not eat meat anymore. In the beginning I was bolstered by my idealism. As time wore on, it began to get harder. At one point I decided I would be a vegetarian on most days... maybe not on Fridays... and so the other day I ordered a hamburger... and couldn't swallow a bite of it. I was surprised by this change. Until that moment I had thought I was masquerading as a vegetarian and would likely someday revert to old habits. Perhaps not.

I'm able and willing to eat fish now (which is new, I NEVER used to eat fish)... and the Little Pub down the street has some killer fish 'n' chips. But I don't think I'll ever go back to cow, chicken, or pork.

My name is Elisabeth and, whether you agree with my decision making process or not, I am a vegetarian.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

For the record

The small water-going mammal in our back yard is in fact a Muskrat... (not a beaver or a river otter)... and he has a family. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Segue number 2

Lori has been here all week :) So I haven't worked on my post I mentioned the other day... instead we did fun things like going to yoga, the Maritime Aquarium in South Norwalk, the Central Park Zoo...

Here are some pictures of our day in New York yesterday, courtesy of Noah :)

This last photo is of people watching the World Cup 3rd place match in Grand Central Station. Pretty cool!

Apart from the zoo in Central Park, we also visited the carousel (of course) and the statue of Balto the sled dog! My sister and I used to watch the cartoon movie about Balto over and over :) It was fun to stop at the actual monument.
This week should be back to normal, somewhat. I'm going to start going to yoga regularly... starting this week, and we have Noah's company picnic on Thursday.

I started a post that I want to finish for anyone who is reading this blog and cares about my mindless musings... I'm hopeful that I will finish it later this week. I need to start keeping a schedule for myself so that I will write more. There's one fiction project in particular that I would like to complete.

It's Sunday evening and I'm going to step outside with a glass of wine to keep my husband company spying on river otters in our back yard. Maybe I'll bring the dog if he promises to be good. (This last photo is courtesy of Lori Marois, a great friend and amazing woman)

Friday, July 9, 2010

An aside

I'm working on a new blog entry... that's taking me some time to complete. So while you're anticipating... I thought I'd share this lovely little tid-bit

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Third of July

It seems like everyone was celebrating the 4th of July on the 3rd this year. Barbecue, drink margaritas and shoot off fireworks a day early? Who are we to complain?

Noah has started feeling better so, he donned his trusty hat to ward off the sun and a-grilling we went with our neighbor Chad's grill (Chad and Sadie are out of town. Sadie is Tag's girlfriend).

We also made Noah's famous margaritas. Mmmmm....

The food was fabulous, if I do say so myself.

After dinner we settled down to play Catan the card game (which I ended up winning, by the way), but Noah wanted some fireworks. We obviously weren't planning ahead. So we picked up and drove over to the fireworks stand down the street...and were I think their last customers of the 2010 season... by this I mean they had already broken out the beer and were celebrating closing up for the year.

We bought some Black Cat fountains, a couple of these little ball thingies and, of course, sparklers and headed home. Finished the card game while waiting for it to get dark (did I mention I won?).

Then we went down to our dock on the pond to set off our stash of fireworks!

Fun was had by all. The neighbors down the street had the big guns... illegal fireworks... and were shooting those off. I thought Tag would be scared by them (last year was particularly traumatic for him) but he was relaxed... that is as long as we didn't ask him to go outside. So he stayed inside to comfort Jack and Gill, who were quite upset...

I think their glowing eyes add to the drama of their feelings. Don't you?

All in all a good night! What did you do to celebrate the 3rd of July?

Friday, July 2, 2010

An uneventful week

I haven't done anything or thought anything interesting this week. I sat on my butt and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer... all week. And played World of Warcraft... So I haven't posted anything.

Today I had hoped to change that pattern of slothfulness. And I may yet. Costco is still on my to-do list. And Tag and I will be taking Noah to the dog park after he gets off work this afternoon.

Still, I was planning to hang the curtains in the "L" room today. Since we'll be having visitors soon, I thought they might appreciate the added ambiance (not to mention privacy). So I took the trusty power drill upstairs and pulled out the correct bit. (As a side note: we discovered that the correct bit for drilling holes for these curtains is the small gold one... Noah discovered this after I had no success in drilling the correct sized holes for the curtains we eventually hung in the living room.) I put the bit to the wall and began drilling... and the bit broke off in the wall!!!!

That's it for me. I don't hang curtains anymore. Noah's just going to have to do this for me when he feels better (hurry up and feel better Noah... he's been sick all week... a cold, I think).

In other news, Tag's next door neighbor girlfriend, Sadie the Boston Terrier, is out of town for the holiday weekend. He is pining for her. Every time we go outside he looks over to check for her... this is because every time we go outside she's asking to come out and play with him and vice versa. Poor Tag. She'll be back soon! I'll have to get some videos of their cuteness.

Hope everyone has a good holiday weekend. Our house is in escrow again, and we're looking forward to a good weekend, too! Probably filled with a lot of lounging around and looking at the pond. I'll take some more pictures for you soon!