Five Years

It was a lovely fifth birthday with Drew and Garrett yesterday.  Jim was able to take the day off work, and so we were both able to join the boys for their celebration at school, which was quite special.  They were so excited to be able to go to school on their "actual birthday!", and we were excited to be there with them, to take part, and to have the chance to get a peek into this part of their lives that has been mostly theirs.  Jim and I enjoyed a nice couple hours together while Garrett and Drew finished their day, then it was off to the park for rolling and jumping and other such fun.  After that, home for a whirlwind dinner, CAKE! and presents, then off to bed for all...

These boys are beautiful, maddening, amazing, exasperating, full of life and mystery, and we love them so very much.  Who can believe that they have become so big so soon?  And it is good.


A Moment of Peace

Yesterday was a rough day. Lately I've been looking forward to Mondays. We take our time, finding our own grooves as we go through the day; starting slow, going our own ways, coming back together, more often than not in a smooth flow with only minor bumps along the way. Yesterday, not so much.

We've been fighting some lingering crud that kept the boys out of school most of last week and laid a bit low over the weekend, myself included. Cabin fever and perhaps just a little too much uninterrupted togetherness combined with the crankiness of not feeling well had us at odds and unable to find our grooves like usual (to put it gently).

After a long and exhausting day of angry words, raised voices and too many battles, I realized something: it was quiet. While I was rushing around the kitchen, Drew and Garrett had grabbed a big storybook, cleared off the rocker, and climbed up together. There they sat, in the late afternoon sun, squeezed together, book on their lap, Garrett rocking and "reading" stories to Drew. It was a small miracle. It was lovely. It was the best ten minutes of the day.


Food Day

Today is Food Day - a day to promote awareness of and advocate for real food: locally and sustainably grown and raised products and equality of distribution and availability of good, healthy food for all.

There are so many reasons why support for sustainably grown and raised food from local farmers is vitally important: economic, environmental, health-related, community-building, hunger and equality/access to fresh foods, and so on... Our current system of industrial food production is entirely unsustainable, unrealistic and unjust and these problems are not contained in the agricultural system, their effects are wide ranging. You can find some great basic information on the Food Day website, and below I've listed some additional resources I've found helpful.

There is a lot to be done to change the current food system, but there are great strides and exciting things happening throughout the country and especially in our area at a local, sustainable, small farm level: from farmers markets to local food policy councils, to growing numbers of small farms to greater availability of fresh local foods in grocery stores and restaurants, and more.

So take a moment to check out Food Day's site and learn more about the issue(s), find some sources of local food close to you, and pay attention today where the food you're eating came from, and what implications that might have. Eat local and fresh if you can, and enjoy how good it tastes!

Bringing It to The Table by Wendell Berry
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Food Politics by Marion Nestle
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Deeply Rooted by Lisa M. Hamilton (which I am about to read on a recommendation)
Food, Inc. directed by Robert Kenner
Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy


Selective Vision

I recently listened to an interview on NPR with filmmaker Errol Morris that got me thinking again about a topic I've had on my mind. Morris has a new book of essays examining a range of photographs, addressing the question of to what degree the photograph portrays reality, or what portion or story of reality the photographer chooses to reveal (or not) in capturing a particular image.

This idea, of the narrow, specific glimpse of a larger more complex reality and the effects that focus has on perception has been bouncing around my thoughts. I find it fascinating that it is so easy, from a few photographs, to construct an entire "reality" that seems unshakable. It is there. It is evidence. How could it be otherwise? But really there is more. Even when the photograph truly does depict a glimpse of the truth of a situation, there is more. More depth and breadth and messiness to the full reality that risks getting lost in the glimpse.

This topic could head off in so many different ways. But what particularly interests me in this moment is how this question relates to the way I view others' lives, and how I look at my own. I touched briefly on this a few posts back, talking about the idea of rhythm and the desire to find that idealized image in my daily life. There are a small number of blogs that I read regularly and find inspiration from, and as I wrote before, these blogs draw me in, spark creativity, introduce me to new ways of seeing things and motivate me to make changes or continue on the path I'm taking. That is one side of the coin.

The other side is that I can find myself feeling behind, lacking, not able to match up to what I admire about these other women and families; to the reality that I have constructed from the glimpses of their truths. Their lives always look so put together, they seem so natural at what they do, their homes are filled with lovely things and their days with rhythm and intention. And that reality seems unshakable. It is there. It is evidence. How could it be otherwise?

And it feeds my discontentment with the state of things here. But then I think about the corners, bits of walls, glimpses in our house that are lovely to me. That catch me, if just for a fraction of a second, as I walk by, and can bring a fleeting smile or feeling of contentment. Though perhaps not plentiful, they are real. But so is the random table blocking the fireplace in the living room because there are one too many entertainment centers in the room (for months). Or the boys' "art" table that is so overflowingly full it's hard to see, or the precarious pile of various magazines and books and binders perched on top of the basket (that contains what, I'm not sure) on top of which this computer rests when not in use, or the layer of dust that covers more surfaces than I care to admit... You get the picture and its the same for our daily lives.

Which gets me thinking, what if I just took pictures of those corners, bits of walls, glimpses, carefully excluding the piles and dust next door? If I honed in on those times in our days when peace finds its way in and we manage to be engaged in an activity that is inspiring and intentional? Selective vision. Would our house, our life, look like I wish it would? And what would that mean? That we're closer to the image I hold onto, the "reality" I've constructed of others' lives, than I think and it's all just a matter of perspective, of focus and selective vision?

I find myself tempted to do an experiment: to go through the house taking pictures of those places that consistently make me smile, put them together, and see if this gives me a new perspective on our home. Likewise with our days. But then I wonder, is that not telling enough of the truth? Where is the balance between seeing positively - creating the truth you want, versus lacking the depth of the fullness (the messiness) of the reality?

I will admit I find myself generally tipped toward the messiness of reality end of the balance and perhaps could do with a little shift in perspective. So I am curious what effect choosing selective vision for the purpose of creating the truth I want, emphasizing the lovely, the intentional, that exists could have. Yet for me there has got to be more balance. I find myself seeking out, in the reading I do, the inclusion of that broader, messier reality, to round out the truth of the matter. Often that is more inspiring to me in its honesty and fullness than the lovely and intentional glimpses can be.