The Laziest Rebel

It’s not really supposed to work like this.

I mean, when you fail to post on a blog for two years, I’m pretty sure what you’re required to do by some unspoken agreement is pretend the abandoned blog has never actually existed, go create a new one, and proceed to announce the existence of the new one with ever-so-slightly abashed fanfare.  I, however, am far too lazy to create a whole new blog that will probably not really be all that different.  There’s not even any real guarantee that I’ll not abandon this one within a few days; months if I’m lucky.

And, if one is going to return to a blog one hasn’t been posting to in some time, there’s supposed to be an apologetic ‘Wha’ had happen was,’ type paragraph.  I rarely find those very interesting, so I won’t subject you to it.  Also, I am lazy, and not in the mood for self-flagellation of that, or any, variety.

So.  Recapping Thanksgiving.  Let’s talk about food.  Sort of.

Thanksgiving is kind of a weird holiday for me.  It’s too late for a last-harvest feast, and too early for a midwinter feast, both of which, on their own, would evoke a sort of sympathetic magic “much food=much plenty for the year” sort of thing.  It’s gained a sort of “Intensive Family Holiday” sheen, but for me it’s capped on both sides by family death remembrances.  Add to this the fact that I tend not to much care for the “traditional” dishes, and I end up being mostly pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.

But, ambivalence or no, I get two days off for it.  That, and a heaping helping of tacit cultural expectation.

We all know the expectations surrounding Thanksgiving: one is expected to spend it with one’s family, the more dysfunctional the better, or with chosen family if your family is too dysfunctional for that sort of thing.  Usually some number among the group (usually men) will watch football, while some number among the group (usually women) will cook, and some other number among the group (children/pets) will be underfoot.  And there will be absolute MOUNTAINS of food.

Most of these expectations are relatively mutable, except for that last.  If there are not MOUNTAINS of food, you have failed at Thanksgiving.

To which I say: Fuck. That. Noise.

For Thanksgiving day, which was just Mr. The Jeff, myself, and Dragon Age, I made a duck, a package of wild rice, enough salad for two people, and a pie plate of apple crisp.  That’s IT.  Extravagant – we wouldn’t normally have duck – but modest.  He is not really “leftover people,” and I am only marginally so.  I have a little bit of leftovers for lunch this week, a good amount of duck fat, and a carcass to make stock from.

Friday, which has become “Momsgiving,” wherein we eat Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and pretend we’re going to put Christmas decorations up for her but never really get around to it, was also an extravagantly modest affair.  I destroyed her kitchen in pursuit of cooking acorn squash, roasted mushrooms, a bitter spiced salad, and the worlds most expensive roast beef.  We joked that for what the roast cost, we should be able to prep it and then just show it the flame, and it should perfectly cook itself.  The process was a little more involved than that, but it did turn out well.  Mom made a pumpkin cheesecake.  A little bit of leftovers, easily divvied up, and that was it.

And that’s enough.  Which is really, to me, what Thanksgiving should be about.  Having enough.  Not being weighted down with blessings that we need to be thankful for – there is a point at which plenty begins to require a gratitude which ceases to bring us joy because it becomes an unceasing obligation.  “Yet another thing to be thankful for, can we please be done now? No?  Damn.”

Don’t get me wrong – gratitude is good.  About three, four times a year we get another study or demonstration of the fact that expressing gratitude makes people happier in themselves.  But sometimes, it’s too much.  There are times when it becomes an obligation to be grateful for things over which we feel we didn’t really need, didn’t ask for, and sometimes didn’t even want.  There are times, for certain people, when it feels like an obligation to be happy, to be happier than we are, or are perceived to be.  I get a little tired of that, personally.

We all had enough, and that’s what we hope for, through the darkness of the winter, enough.  We don’t need mountains of food, mountains of blessings.  We don’t need to outdo each other with how involved our cooking duties will be, with how much food we’ll need to prepare for how many people.  We don’t need to compete to prove that we are most blessed, and therefore more loved, by family or god or the universe or whoever.  Just enough.  There are millions of people for whom “enough” is an aspiration, not a reality.  Maybe we shouldn’t get quite so carried away with how much more we have than they do.

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

So, I did rather fall off the face of the planet, there, didn’t I?

Well, wha’ ha’ happen was…

I volunteered at the fundraising auction my grade school held, and something in the building they held it in (not the school itself, but elsewhere,) set off a bronchial allergy attack of truly epic proportions.  I made it through the final performance the men did for the warden on Tuesday, and then promptly DIED.

More or less.  Reports may be greatly exaggerated.  What I do know is that by Thursday I was having difficulty breathing while doing things like walking, so Friday I stayed in bed.  Then I spent a week or so dragging my carcass to necessary activities, and vegging out on the couch the rest of the time because I had the energy output of an potato – enough to get by, but not for complex emotional processes (thanks, Portal2!)  I am all better now (more or less,) in part due to Jeff insisting I be nice to myself and rest, and in part because I started eating small amounts of meat again.

See, here’s the thing: I gots me some issues.  No, really whole subscriptions, but one of them is that I suffer from depression which, much like my ADD, is medication-resistant.  Now, I don’t for one minute buy that some magic dietary regimen will cure me, but I do know that letting my blood sugar roller-coaster is kind of like handing explosive ammunition to a pyromaniac with anger issues and an arsenal.  Things will not end well.  Add to that the fact that I was experiencing fatigue brought on by low iron, and the cocktail was…  Unproductive.

Now, before my brother does a little happy-carnivore-I-told-you-so sort of dance, let me state that I think it is entirely possible to manage my blood sugar problems and the iron issues without resorting to eating meat or relying on supplements.  It probably wouldn’t even require a significant increase in time or planning, or weird changes in what I eat.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I also believe that eating meat is part of a responsible and sustainable agricultural model.  So, I’m living my principles and getting the nutrition my body likes, without having to restructure my time such that something I love doing gets less attention.

So now I am eating eggs at breakfast, meat with lunch, and a vegetarian dinner.  And my energy levels are picking back up.  That’s good.

It also means that I am back, more or less, and will now be posting here more often, instead of using all my limited energy to post pretty things over on tumblr.

Also in there somewhere I won a Pioneer Woman drawing for an Anthropologie gift certificate, which I have since put to good use.  Perhaps I shall arrange for pictures, in the near future.

Next up: How I Went to Prison, and Why I Want to Go Back.

The Meat Season

I find this bunny HI-freaking-LARIOUS

So, at some point in the last two posts, I mentioned that I eat meat for a limited time of year, then spend the rest of the year vegetarian.  Which seems more than a little odd to most people, if not just downright wishy-washy.  So, let me grab a cup of tea, and I’ll blather at you.

Okay, I lied.  It’s iced milk coffee.  I may never sleep again.

I ‘went’ vegetarian about this time last year.  Cariad (the husband, for those keeping score at home) contracted a truly spectacular case of norovirus from a BK cheeseburger.  Seriously, the man couldn’t keep anything in, not even basic liquids.  Once I had informed him, much to his chagrin at the time, that he was not actually going to die of this, he looked pitifully up at me and said “I don’t think I want to eat meat, anymore.”  At which point I looked lovingly into his bleary eyes and said, “Honey, you don’t eat vegetables.”

He’s come a long way since then, for which I have to give him a whole lot of credit.  Truthfully, I had wanted to become vegetarian for quite some time.  There are about twice as many reasons for eating a vegetarian diet as there are vegetarians, all in varying degrees of validity and rationality, and our household isn’t much different.  I, personally, feel physically better when I am not eating meat.  I have concerns about the ethics of meat production, particularly CAFOs, and let me tell you, “ethically/sustainably produced” meat is freaking expensive, and I am poor.  Let me reiterate that last bit as a reason of its own:  I am poor.  Even evil-ammoniated-CAFO meat is expensive, by my standards.  So, when it comes right down to it, I don’t eat meat because it makes me feel crappy and it’s expensive, and why should I pay extra to feel like poo?

All that said, even when I am being extra particular about it, I have not gone to great lengths to avoid meat.  Meat based broths don’t much bother me, and I’m not going to run to the toilet gagging and spewing a ranty manifesto about MEEEEET EEEEEBULS if I accidentally ingest it.  Even this past year I continued to eat shrimp, though I got a lot more cagey about it after the oil spill.

All this goes to say that I don’t actually believe there is anything wrong with eating meat qua eating meat.  In fact I think certain levels of meat consumption are part of a responsible long term agrarian model necessary to a sustainable social model.  I do think industrialized nations tend to eat more of it than they should, the U.S. in particular, but if you have ever had any lasting interactions with a domesticated cow, it generally dawns on even the most ardent animal lover that this creature’s genetic destiny is to be food for other animals, one way or another.

On the other had, however, I live in Michigan.  It has a few upsides, which our governor is trying really damn hard to grind beneath the heel of “be careful what you wish for,” and its not like we get as much snow as most of the states that surround us, but still.  The Michigan growing season is…  limited.  Think of “seasonal eating” what you will, high-handed malarkey or gospel truth, there is only so much season to go around in Michigan before you find yourself in February, with only a few potatoes, the hardiest of root vegetables, and grainy apples as the only actual “produce.”  Now I love parsnips, beets, turnips, hell, I’ll even find uses for celeriac. However, there is a point at which, when faced with crippling seasonal affective disorder, the yearly death-cold from hell, a root vegetable slightly uglier than sin and a cabinet full of dried beans, the only reaction I can come up with is to curl up in the corner, whimper, and do cost-benefit analyses as to whether the cheese from a pizza is going to tip the death-cold into the realm of torture.  You know those scenes in old cartoons where extreme hunger would cause a character to view another as a walking chicken?  Well, this season causes me to view chicken as edible.

So, this year, I came up with a cunning plan (that cannot fail!) that, I won’t lie, has a lot to do with the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of Corned Beef.  This was the meat that I held out on becoming a vegetarian for last year (though I had it at my mom’s, so as not to torture Cariad.  Corned beef can drive me to great lengths, but not that far.)  I love corned beef in a not terribly healthy way, I have to admit.  So my idea was this:  beginning with Imbolc (beginning of February,) I’d start increasing my meat intake little by little, until I could reasonably eat corned beef without totally borking my system.  I still wanted to keep a vegetarian kitchen, partly because I’m lazy, partly because I wanted to make it possible for Cariad and Kanai to maintain whatever diet they wanted to, and mostly because our refrigerator is very small.  But eating out, or take out, I would eat meat more and more.

St. Patrick’s Day corned beef?  I will find it.

BUT.  Beginning on March 21, or the day after the equinox for those interested in the calendrical cycle of this little project, I’m dropping meat from the diet again.  In fact, I’m probably going to do a little 10 day vegan ‘cleanse’ type thing, then go back to ovo-lacto-vegetarianism (I have unavoidable calcium issues, so those have to stay) until next year.  This way, I feel like I get the best of both worlds.  We’ll see how it goes.