Food, Not For Thought

Today’s our Thanksgiving feast. I’m keeping it simple. Right now, I’m roasting a whole smallish pumpkin (CSA) in the oven, because, gosh darnit, my kids want a pie, and I’m going to try. We also have two chickens, six pounds, and seven pounds, respectively, thawing in the fridge, which I plan to stuff with a traditional bread stuffing (chopped apples tossed in for fun), and roast according to my Joy of Cooking recipe. Lots of salt rubbed on the skin, shallow pan, breast up. It’s going to smell good in here. Additionally, I’m planning on boiling, then roasting some brussel sprouts, if Kevin finds some good local ones at the market. Boiled, smashed potatoes (CSA) with garlic and butter and mmm. Perhaps a balsamic-honey-dressed green salad, depends on what Kevin finds at the market; apparently “spring” mix is newly seasonal right now.

Am I forgetting something? The squash will be in the pie, assuming that works out.

Baby CJ got his six-month immunizations yesterday and has been ever so fussy. On top of his stuffed nose, he’s pretty miserable, poor bab. He spent the night cuddled in our bed, again, nursing off and on. This is beginning to take a toll on my dewy-fresh complexion … Yes, I’ll blame it on that.

Kevin’s family has arrived. Everyone is off to market, except for napping baby CJ and me (for some reason, he’s happy to nap in his crib during the day; it’s only at night that he wakes instantly and screams and hollers upon being extracted from a loving parent’s arms).

To offer an update on Nina’s buying club: It remains alive, popular, and subversive. Who knows, it may be a catalyst to change local food policy and by-laws in exciting ways in the coming months and years. Meantime, it sounds like we will continue to be able to buy at least some of our food through Nina, though today, for the first time in at least a month, we had our groceries delivered by Grocery Gateway (that sounds decadent, but hear me out: none other than George Monbiot, author of Heat, advocates online shopping and delivery, more efficient than each of us hopping into our individual vehicles and tooling around town picking up one item here, and one item there. The delivery cost is $10). Generally, I wait to make the Grocery Gateway order till some heavy things have piled up on my list, which would be difficult to transport all at once in the jogging stroller (aka my shopping cart/bundle buggy).

Thanks for your support re this weekend’s familial turmoil. An update on the subject may or may not be forthcoming, depending on how confessional my mood becomes. Today I’m focussed on cooking and hosting, good and occupying tasks. Just remembered what menu item I’d forgotten: YAMS! They didn’t arrive at buying club yesterday, and I neglected to add them to my market list. Too bad. Baby CJ probably could have tasted a smackerel too. Maybe I’ll save out a bit of pumpkin to mash and cool and serve to him. So far he’s eaten nothing but expressed breastmilk mixed with brown rice cereal. Pumpkin/squash is a pretty safe early food, right? Allergenically-speaking?

A Little Rain

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada. But it’s also the weekend my dad is remarrying. My parents separated about a year and a half ago, and Dad got engaged this May, right around the time my parents’ settlement was finalized. To be brutally honest, it feels rushed, and I’m having difficulty reconciling my emotions with my dad’s desire to have a big happy church wedding with all the hoopla that goes along with that. Grief. Sadness. Loss. Emotions entirely at odds with celebration. I realize this is his wedding, not mine. He is obviously free to do whatever feels right to him. But, then, I should be free too. And that’s what I’m having a hard time figuring out. Is there any way to attend this event while remaining true to my real emotions? If I go, is it okay to cry, to express grief? I’m not planning on going, actually. None of my sibs are either. We just can’t seem to drag ourselves there, though perhaps we all have different reasons for not being able to. My own planned compromise was to attend the reception afterwards, but last night I broke down absolutely weeping at the thought of going, and having to relate, under the circumstances, to the other guests. I’m not a big weeper. In fact, I have never cried over my parents’ dissolved marriage–and you know, it felt really really good. It felt like my body was finally accepting what my head and mouth have been saying for awhile: This is SAD! This is HARD! This is COMPLICATED! And I felt my fear of expressing this sadness, of really feeling it, dissolve as I wept. It didn’t turn out to be something to be afraid of, after all. It felt clean, a clean pure emotion, and that was such a great relief. It actually made me feel like I could, after all, go through with the reception, that I could go with confidence, that I could go and be genuinely expressive of what I’m feeling, while there. If someone were to ask (as seems likely): how are you? I could reply with honesty. Surely it’s okay to step outside the socially acceptable bounds and admit that life doesn’t always fit with the rituals on display. I don’t mean I’m planning to turn into a bucket of tears over the hors d’oeuvres or something equally dramatic, I just mean I’ll be honest. I’ll be honest that my participation in this event is riven with emotions not generally considered appropriate for wedding receptions.

Our family has lost a lot in the past year and a half. I am in the midst of mourning all that has been broken, all that is not reparable. Some things cannot be put back together again. Some brokenness is permanent. Life is deeply deeply sad, sometimes. And it’s okay to feel that, to know that, and to express that. I’ve no interest in wallowing in it. Life goes on. But it feels like the right time to reflect on this sadness. This Thanksgiving I will be giving thanks for the human ability to grieve, to feel, to mourn, and also, as in the last post, to Move.

Writing Day

Dreamed all night about Nina’s buying club … which yesterday hit a snag with the city’s by-law officers. I was afraid this might happen, since anything to do with both food and business seems to grab the attention of authorities. But I’m struck by the absurdity of the situation: living in a city and buying local food, as directly from the farmers as possible, though without actually driving to each farm individually, is suddenly a subversive act. Travelling in a third world country, you’ll see a great mixture of urban and agriculture; chickens and pigs in back courtyards, for example. But we got so sophisticated in our cities that apparently we no longer wished to have any connection to the food we eat, so we legislated such practices out of existence. How bizarre. If the mass-market system of food production collapses, or at the very least is strained … what then? There are very few things we actually need for survival, and food is at the top of the list.

There’s a meeting tonight at Nina’s, and perhaps some creative ideas will be forthcoming. I just want to keep eating the food she’s making available to our family! It’s hard to imagine going back to the same old, same old.
And now: writing day. Our babysitter has a cold, but hopefully will come anyway. We all have colds too. Baby CJ is now crawling!!!! Yes, moving himself forward across the floor, usually in hot pursuit of a toy or book. He loves books. Yesterday I discovered him gnawing a library book (no, I can’t and don’t keep my eye on him every second!), but snatched it away before he’d dissolved the cover. Watching him so impressively motivated to Move, I think there’s an inborn human restlessness, a desire to be getting somewhere else, reaching a little further, something that compels us toward our futures, and toward accomplishment. It’s a kind of optimism, too, that something better awaits, just out of reach. But there’s a flipside to that urgency to move; and that’s our great difficulty appreciating the present moment, chewing on that toy contentedly, even for a second or two. I know I’ve visited those moments of inner stillness when I realize later that I wasn’t thinking about something else. Those moments exist because I inhabit them wholly, and in an odd way, they exist because I’m not marking their existence.
Sometimes, I get those moments on writing day. Sometimes hanging laundry. Sometimes playing piano with the kids. Sometimes walking outdoors with them too. I am always grateful for them, even while I recognize and celebrate the necessity of that other impulse–to plan, and to Move. Yay for baby CJ!

Thinking Thanksgiving Food

Today may rain. I’ve got two peacefully playing girls in the living-room (F and a good friend), one baby in gigantic bouncer, and one cup of coffee. My goal for today is to have dinner made before walk-to-school time, and to think ahead for the Thanksgiving meal, which is not going to be elaborate this year (actually, I’ve never roasted a turkey; maybe next year). We’re going to thaw two of Nina’s chickens instead, and roast those. Probably for Saturday evening, when Kevin’s family will be visiting. I’ve got loads of potatoes and squash (CSA), and have ordered yams through Nina. We do have pumpkins for pie, but I’m not a great pie-maker. I’m good with the cobblers and crisps, the cakes and cookies. Not so much the pies, which actually runs contrary to my heritage. I associate Mennonites with pies. In any case, it won’t take much to turn all of this bounty into a feast. I think the preparation of this Thanksgiving feast takes on more significance when one is trying to eat locally. It seems like a goodbye feast, as well as a feast of gratitude for the harvest. Goodbye to summer’s abundance and variety. Welcome in a new season of more solemn, heartier eating.

Okay, girls need puzzle help, and baby needs attention, so this shall be as it is, and no more.

Run, Carrie, Run

The run-on sentence keeps on running. Late start this morning, with everyone sleeping in (baby making up for late-night screaming; parents making up for sleeping with restless, snuffly baby), and I literally ran the children to school. We’d just about made it out the door, already on the fine line between okay and late, when it was discovered that baby CJ had blown out his diaper. Whoo-hoo. By the time that was resolved, we were really and truly late, and so, “Run, children, run!” I encouraged, all the way up the hill, and most of the rest of the way. We walked a block, then ran, then walked, then ran, then just decided to run, and made the playground as the bell was ringing. Then I ran home again, upon meeting up with some mom friends who were going for a real run. I was tempted to keep going–maybe next time!?–but was wearing jeans and a coat and hadn’t prepared the kids in the stroller for a long-term outing. Anyway, just had time at home to hang laundry (beautiful sunshiny windy laundry-hanging day) and drink a cup of coffee (“Are you done your cup of coffee yet, Mommy?”), do a puzzle with F, feed and change baby, before we were off again and running to storytime at the library. We arrived as they were singing the greeting song, and F was hysterical to be missing it, yet refused to go in on her own. Fortunately, once in, she was able to sit beside a friend, otherwise storytime was heading toward dead-loss territory. “But I not shy, Mommy.” Storytime ran a wee bit short this week. Maybe she was discouraged by the screaming children, though this seemed no worse than usual. Then we walked with friends to the little park and played in this gorgeous sunshine for ages, arriving home quite late for lunch (no watch, and apparently sense of time passing completely out of whack with actual time passing). Lunch with Kevin, hung more laundry, read some stories, got baby to sleep in sling, then started supper while F had quiet time. I’m pleased to note that she herself turned off the quiet time monitor (read TV), and started her own art project, though it’s impetus was a TV show, I think (a picture of a toothbrush), and that led to a request for an “ice-lolly.” Guess it’s a British show. “My name is Squiglette … I like to drawr.” We found on old half-finished Freezie in the freezer and she put on a pair of mittens and ate it at the counter. Yes she did. Meanwhile, I chopped and sauteed veggies for a bean-and-grain-based soup. I had about fifteen minutes between that and needing to leave for school, so F and I folded some laundry and brushed her teeth. I was feeling a cold coming on. Ate a few vitamin Cs too. Didn’t need to run to school pick-up, thankfully, and AB had a playdate, so it was a peaceful, cookie-filled walk home again. Supper was a breeze to make, since I needed only to turn the burner on, and make biscuits; but the school lunches remain a thorn in the side of my late afternoon. No matter how I try to simplify and plan ahead, it still takes me a good twenty minutes to throw the darn things together. Fruit sliced up, check. Sandwich, check. Egg peeled, check. Cut-up carrots that no one will eat, check. Something extra, check. A takes dried fruit and seeds, and AB gets cookies because she brushes her teeth at school. It sounds like it should be so easy. Maybe racing back and forth between kitchen and living-room to check that baby CJ hasn’t rolled/crawled himself into grabbing position for something small and potentially hazardous slows me down. He’s on the move, that baby. He’ll be speed-crawling within the month, and the good lord preserve us all then–especially him.

Tomorrow I’m considering introducing him to the joys of Kidsplash at the Rec Centre. If the head cold passes and if I can reconcile myself with getting into a bathing suit again. A couple of big ifs.

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About me

My name is Carrie Snyder. I'm mother of four, writer of fiction and non-, dreamer, contemplative, mid-life runner, coach, forever curious. I'm interested in the intersection between art and spirituality. What if the purpose of life is to seek beauty? What if everyone could make art?

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