Food for the Stomach, Food for the Soul

In my mostly life, I work for my family’s farming company. Dirt, tractors, trucks, lettuce, celery, deep wells, fog in the morning rolling in off the Monterey Bay, sunlight and blue sky, no rain and water-contentious California. We do a variety of things, but one small and lovely thing we do is run a CSA program. CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. That’s a program where you purchase a subscription to fresh produce. In our program, that means a once-a-week box of organic fruits and vegetables. You, the subscriber, will not know what each weekly box contains until you get it. CSAs are worthwhile programs because they force you to eat in-season, they typically push you beyond the bounds of what you normally eat, and they’re sold at a discount (ours is).

Anyway, here’s a shot of a recent box’s contents from our farm. Good food for the stomach. I’m afraid most American families don’t eat enough fresh vegetables and fruits. Eat more greenery! And reddery! Such as beets. Yum. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of beets, but they’re darn healthy. I recently stumbled across a recipe for salt-roasting beets and then using them in a goat cheese and toasted walnut salad that sounded pretty good. Even for an avowed anti-beetist such as myself.

You need food for your soul too, so read more good books. What is the last book you read that was truly amazing? Listen to good music. Look at good art. No, Kim Kardashian does not qualify as good art. Don’t just glance at it. Look at it. Go to church, even if you don’t believe in God. Go to church, sit there, and try posing some of the eternal questions of the philosophers to yourself: why the heck am I here (not in church…why are you in life)? What does this all mean?

And then go do a little creation yourself. Bake a cake. Write a poem. Write a song if you’re so inclined. Consuming is good for the soul, yeah, but you also need to do a little creation as well. That’s food for the soul as well.

Don’t give me the “I’m not artistic” excuse. Everyone has some kind of creative streak in them, whether its making jerky or gardening or flower-arranging or crocheting or writing the next War and Peace. It’s in there. Trust me. It might be a little withered because you haven’t used it in a long time, but it’s in there. Just give it some mulch (exposure to good art) and then give it a go…

If you don’t, you’re lessening yourself as a human being. Now, if you have a really good excuse, such as being a Christian or Yazidi in Syria and you’re running away from ISIS, then, I gotta say, that’s an excellent excuse. Still, you’ll have time someday. Hopefully.

New Project: Ford F5

Ford F5My new project. Restoring this old Ford F5. It’s somewhere between a 1947 and a 1952. I’m not doing the actual restoration, but I’m overseeing the various people working on it: one to cut away the superstructure and lines on the back and build a metal frame for a flatbed, another to sandblast and paint, one to build the wooden flatbed, another to stencil, glass and rubber, reupholster, a few missing parts to be replaced (headlights, some chrome work), mechanic to check the engine (decent chance it’ll run; if not, it’ll become a static decorative piece at our farm). Should be fun…

Four and twenty blackbirds…

JesseNestNope. No plans for blackbird pie. The feathers get stuck in your teeth and I’m no royal to demand such gourmet fare. However, blackbirds are a perennial perplexing pest of the most pestilent persistence on our farm. A pox on their house. Among other things, they are a plague on our strawberries, settling on them like a black cloud of winged demons and feasting like there’s no tomorrow. Well, there will be no tomorrow for this little nest of pre-blackbirds. That’s Jesse, my middle son, with his recently discovered nest of five blackbird eggs. He’s a brilliant Lego architect, connoisseur of frozen yogurt pushups, and all-around cheerful little soldier. He does not have a shred of mercy for blackbirds (as he is also a connoisseur of strawberries).

From Hunter-Gather to Consultant: Children Evolve

I’ve noticed something startling about children due to being around my three little in-house barbarian sons. Their initial goals in terms of gainful employment revolve around traditionally manly jobs such as firefighters, policemen, astronauts, assassins, etc. These sorts of jobs are the modern equivalent of the tough, resourceful hunter-gatherer. However, as they age (and here I’m projecting via older cousins and other post-teenage friends and relatives), their ideas about work change. They discard the idea of the brutish firefighter (complete with axe, helmet and license to bash in doors and windows) and contemplate the dapper consultant.

The consultant, of course, can earn a lot more than the firefighter (unless you’re in California, where the firefighter can scoop up tremendous amounts of overtime and retire young with 90% pay in pension for the rest of his life), despite the fact that it’s a twitty sort of job, spent in offices and boardrooms and slowly losing skin color due to so much time spent in front of computers and beneath fluorescent lights.

It seems as if children’s ideas about work evolve from toughness to wimpiness. I suppose that’s a reflection on society. Of course, when the zombies invade or things collapse, the consultants (and the lawyers, politicians, community organizers, etc) will be the first to fall by the wayside. The interesting thing about this is that children seem to have an innate sense of what’s more stable and down to earth in terms of jobs. It’s only after they’ve watched a lot of Barney and gone to school that they get messed up.

So, what’s the takeaway from all this? Er… down with skool!

Eggs for thee but not for me (the Steve King Amendment)

One of the other hats I wear belongs to the farm I work at for my 9-5 job. Farmers are pretty much just like writers, except they grow food instead of write books. And you pretty much die if you don’t eat food. Some authors might take exception to this, but you won’t die if you don’t read books. I know–shocking news.

Anyway, Congressman Steve King of Iowa submitted an amendment for the current Farm Bill (even though I work on a farm, the Farm Bill is one of the dumber pieces of legislation that our government keeps on passing–it’s a pork-stuffed antique; plus, 80% of the money in it goes to food stamps–it should be called the Food Stamp Bill) that says California cannot force other states to produce chicken eggs in the same way that California forces its chicken farmers to produce eggs.

I totally agree with Rep King on this one. California is trying to force all eggs that come across the California border to be raised the same way California eggs are raised. California eggs are essentially raised by hippie chickens, according to crazed California law. Our laws here dictate that chickens must be happy, must have 5,000 square foot beachfront property, and must receive acupuncture and Swedish massages twice a week. Needless to say, this results in expensive eggs.

If states start pulling this sort of nonsense on each other, we might as well divide this country into fifty little countries and have done with it. Otherwise, before we know it, Oregon will require that all diapers imported across state lines be made out of reusable cloth, New York will insist that all milk imported into the state be ultra low fat, and Florida will require that all octogenarians imported into the Sunshine state own at least three toupees.

From a writer’s perspective, you just can’t make this stuff up. I’m inspired to put on my Monty Python hat and start writing about the Chicken Egg Liberation Army and their co-conspirators, the Free Fowl Front (a paramilitary arm of Hamas, based in San Francisco).