Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flourishing: Report, Still in the Saddle

After a week or two of home improvement and garden projects, along with Spring Break, I feel like I should have something big and flashy to jump back in with. I don't. However, I do have a lot of thoughts and accomplishments to share, as I've continued to try to live in a true, genuine, and productive way. So today's post will be an appetizer-platter of Food for Thought rather than just the normal Food.

Edible Schoolyard 101. Refugees. CSA job. Foster care. Refinishing furniture. Rock climbing. Police violence. Naps! These have all occupied my time or mental energy in some form in the past month.

The Edible Schoolyard ( is a series put on by UC Berkeley that I just discovered this year. I've watched four of the lectures so far on YouTube, and plan on catching all of them before too long. I've really appreciated the energy, sincerity, and breadth of the lectures, by famous 'food people' such as Bittman, Pollan, Schlosser, and Patel, to name a few. One of the most eye-opening segments focused on the labor conditions of farm workers, with actual public service lawyers and clients presenting their stories. I've known of the sometimes-horrifying conditions both humans and animals are put in for meat production, and I've read Tomatoland which highlights the Florida tomato industry's deeply disturbing practices, but this was focusing on the plight of California produce pickers, and I got that sickening feeling of realization that this is just everywhere. So, food is not just about what is healthy for my body and for the environment -- which is a hard enough balance to aim for -- but also about the lives of the workers who provide it to me. (See also the book The American Way of Eating on my reading list.)

A while ago I watched a TED talk that has never quite left me. It's by Melissa Fleming, the United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees. I've kept up with her by Twitter since then, and would like to share her inspiring talk with you, as well as recent news reports of hundreds of refugees perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean by boat to Europe. (here, or search for 'Mediterranean refugees') I feel like these are good issues to be aware of, as they increase my global perspective and my ability to exercise compassion.

In personal accomplishments, I got my first paying job since the year 2000! There is a local farm that operates a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as some educational events as a subsidiary of the state nature society. I will be working there on Saturdays throughout the summer season (May-September) to welcome visitors, help promote and sell produce in a little farmer's market for the public (beyond just the CSA members, in other words), tend a small U-pick area, and various other roles around the farm. (I'll start the training next week, and I think I might get to learn how to milk the cows, too! But I'm waiting to see for sure.) I had actually hoped for a more involved position that I initially applied for, but they turned me down for that. However, this will certainly still be wonderful, and I'm happy to be a part of this great organization and to gain connections and experience. And to be outside doing what I love, for a little bit of money! (I'll probably earn in an hour what those California migrant workers earn in a day, under a lot more pleasant and safe circumstances. Sad comparison.)

S. and I are turning in our foster care application this morning. We've completed the training and filled out all the paperwork and documentation, other than getting our medical and fingerprint/background check done. Those will be soon. So, I expect a call from the state agency in the near future to set up an initial home evaluation, we'll have to start scrounging an extra bed from somewhere and probably fixing up a few things at their request, and then after a second evaluation visit they'll 'open' our home within 3 months of now. I've felt really strongly that we should do this, but what a roller coaster ride it will be, I'm sure!

I may not address all the rest of my list of issues, as I'm running out of time for this morning. But one remaining piece of news is that our time here in [our state] is likely finite. My husband had a miraculous step forward in his ambitious plans for continued career change, and will be starting a year-long position come mid-August. The fact that it happened at all, and so quickly, and HERE, is completely beyond rational expectations, and was clearly inspired and orchestrated by Someone Up There. There's no way of knowing why it happened here and now instead of other times we've been scrambling and struggling, but we're very very grateful. However, he has to then job-hunt for the next step after that year-long, prestigious-credential job, and I'm not expecting two miracles in a row. We'll probably have to move. We're so slow, frugal, and un-handy that we'll need all that time to get the house ready to sell...and to console the kids, one of whom is already panicking. But in the meantime, I just refinished the vanity in our master bath. I'll continue with some painting and new fixtures, etc., and then I'll post a before and after picture when it's all finished. It's not a professional job, it's my first time refinishing furniture, but it makes a big enough difference. I'm proud of myself!

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