Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shame and the USPS

If you're reading this, chances are high that you'll be getting a piece of mail from me through the USPS in the next couple weeks.  You'll see the envelope, a spark of recognition and anticipation might light a fire under you. Perhaps the Webers finally got around to sending me that Christmas card-turned-New-Year's greeting they are late with? Nope. Maybe Heather was affectionately thinking of me, and her fondness was so rooted and ageless and meaningful that she felt the need to do something as quaint and concrete as sending me a handwritten note through an old-fashioned, honest to goodness postperson?  Close. I was thinking of you. And regarding most of you, I admit affection of varying depths. But I did not send you a handwritten note to express it.  I'm very sorry to disappoint all of you who will look at that envelope expecting personal sentiments or trinkets or, in the case of one friend who replied to my request for her address: "Please send money and gluten free cookies."

God help me, and God help all of you.  I have written a fundraising letter. Horror of my deepest horrors. I have described a humanitarian adventure my daughter and I will take in July and I have requested that you take up the adventure with us, in spirit of course, by way of two things: 1) prayer, if you're the praying type and 2) financial contributions to our trip, if you're the giving type. Of course, one may also pray and give. 

In my heart of hearts, I believe this is a great venture to invest prayers and/or dollars.  I believe the work done by Iris Ministries is changing lives in ways both athiests and believers would deem worthy. But it's terrible to ask for money.  Which is why I don't "ask" for it per se.  In my letter, I let you know that if you'd like to partner with us, there is an opportunity.  But I'm not fooling anyone. It's a fundraising letter, with a self addressed envelope included so that you can all send money back to me so that Una and I can buy our passports and plane tickets to Mozambique.   Were it not for the possibility of financial help, I could have sent you all an email and asked for prayers, best wishes, and blessed thoughts.

My friend and pastor, Rich, who was a missionary in Bangladesh for nine years says people are more likely to give if you present them with some numbers, if you suggest $15 or $100 or $1000 donations.  So I printed up these slips to go with the envelope. They say somethign to the effect of (imagine a perky voice): If you would like to financially support us on our trip, we welcome any contribution you would like to make!!  Small numbers add up to big numbers when many people are involved!!  And then I list how many people would need to give if everyone gave $15  or $100, and so on. 

I put these slips in five envelopes and then I had to stop.

Do me a favor, if you get this letter in the mail, forget that you even have a wallet.  Just read the story in the letter. Read it and see how your insides feel when you're done.  If some piece of yourself is crying out in agreement with this story, with our adventure, with the work we have ahead of us, then, maybe, possibly, remember that you have a wallet and see if that place inside of you is leaping at the chance to open it.

But if you read the letter, and you think, eh, then you might want to just cut out the picture of me and Una to remember us by.  And then add the rest of it to your recyling bin.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Adventures with Food (& eating & the Amish & being a stricter mommy)

Hi there.  I’ve been busy not-blogging here because I’ve gotten a kick to the pants to start eating healthier again.  And all that carrot peeling, fruit chopping, and bread baking takes a lot of time.
Here's my story: December of 2011 was Chocolate Month. November was Thanksgiving. And October ushered in Halloween candy, which I never used to buy until this year. Oh, and September was Moving Month. The girls were loving how much junk food mom was letting them eat all fall.  And, alas, January came with the understanding that  I was we were fully dependent on sugar and chocolate. Along with recurring blecky feelings after eating, I had some strange new symptoms:  My hormones were all out of whack.  And I was having hot flashes many times a day. What? At 33?
That’s what I said.

Truth be told, my diet was already probably better than 75% of you readers. (I’m not trying to brag, I just know how many of my friends already thought I was a health-food nut). And so it seemed kinda crazy to me that my body got as messed up as it did. Since January 3, I’m eating different than I was, than I ever have.  Proof: I got a recipe book from the library with an entry for “Brain Omelet” (that’s calves’ brain, people).  And while I will never (in a million years) be preparing brain omelet, I am now eating with body chemistry and body physiology in mind like I never have before.  Ever heard of re-colonizing a digestive track? You can do it with kefir.  (My Iowa friends give me an are-you-on-crack face when I mention kefir. But come on, West Coast, you’ve got to be friends with kefir. I just know it.)
Did you know you might get fewer stomach aches if your grains are soaked in water and an acid for 24 hours before cooking? Yeah, I’m back to that again—soaking grains and legumes. I’m fermenting and growing things on my counter before ingesting them. I made my own wild yeast starter for sourdough, and I’m baking bread. It’s happening. Oh, and apparently, experiments with enemas help, but I'm skipping out on those.
The hard part of all this is my offspring, who nightly tell me I’m Hitler the worst mother in the world, that I’m ruining their lives with the stricter rules about sugar.  God help them, they can only have two cookies after dinner.  “In the old days, you would have let me have three!”  “In the old days” = a temporary lapse in judgment since moving four months ago.  I was busy painting their rooms--and so of course they could have ten cookies for dessert?

The upside is that I think I feel better, though it’s slow going, and the hot flash situation is not resolved. The most educational part about it all is that I bought two shares in a herd of dairy cows on an Amish farm.  It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Iowa, and so I don’t buy raw milk. I already own some (now that I bought some shares in a herd of cows).  And when I went to pick up my raw milk for the first time last week, my Camry bouncing over a muddy rutted lane, I called out my window to a little Amish boy, circa age 7, who replied to me in a the most adorable German accent that I could pick up my milk right down the lane.  As my friend Rene and I drove through the farmstead, we passed a barn with the door open. From the ceiling hung two sides of an unfortunate animal (cow, I’m assuming), just curing in the foggy January air. Clara, the Amish woman who sold me a share of dairy cows, gave me my gallon jugs of raw milk and pointed out for me the cream line a third of the way down the gallon.  These are organic-fed, pastured cows—lots of omega-3s in their milk.  Still, I had no ideas cows were this prolific when it came to cream.

There is something really beautiful and pleasing about making my own butter or cheese from milk that has never been at a grocery store.  Something really comforting about all the jars-covered-with-cheesecloth that perch on my counter in various stages of soaking/culturing/fermenting. Something unseen, mysterious, is happening in all those bottles and jars, and my body will find out what in 24-48 hours. My body will be happier for it.
Will I always eat this way? I don't know and I don't care. It’s just how I’m living now, to get up out of this hole.