Monday, July 30, 2007

Silas's Dedication on the beach!

In mid July we had Silas's Dedication (similar to a baptism except that it's more about the parents' declaration of how we want to raise Silas rather than his declaration of belief, which is what a baptism really is). Tiffany and Chris extended their trip to stay for it (thank you! we loved that!!) and Bowis and Taylor drove down from LA (as did Hubbs!). We were touched by all who came, by how big our family is here...

Crystal Cove State Beach. This is the beach where I grew up. Not as a child, but grew up through my 20's and into an adult. It is the first beach I spent time on after I moved away from my family and started calling California home. It's the beach where I spent my first Thanksgiving with only my husband. It's the beach where I've walked for hours, working out life's questions and reckoning with God. It's where I've started friendships, spotted dolphins, saved seals, written in my journal, pocketed life-marked shells. It's where I sat with my husband having a picnic the day I went into labor with our first child. And it's the beach where we decided to have Silas dedicated.

What a sweet babe; he lay his head on Ben's chest as we all sang "Jesus loves me" and rested there until we were through -- his own private lullaby sung by a chorus.

Artificial Pizza Topping

Ben and I made a disturbing discovery today at Albertson's: among the bags of grated cheese hung huge bags of "artificial pizza topping," which looked suspiciously like grated mozzarella but had virtually no recognizable ingredients. It is quite possible that a) this ingredient has existed for ages and b) this product tops most of the big-company pizzas we order, but either way, the discovery was new to us and struck us as an all-time food production low.

When I was shopping for produce the other week at the local market down the street, I found a box of blueberries from "Disney Farms" -- what could be more disheartening than to think of Disney not only taking over a huge chunk of the entertainment world, toy production, children's clothing branding, and travel, but also to now be meddling in FARMING?!

And I can hardly give Silas a bath without doubts and guilt about baby soap because of a study I recently heard about that most baby bath products (all of the ones that smell good) are manufactured through a process that releases carcinogens into the soap.

As far as clothing goes, yes organic cotton or bamboo is incredibly soft (and exorbitantly expensive) but at least clothing is safe territory. Wrong again! Apparently the cotton we tend to buy and wear goes through a whole series of its own poisonous treatments before it touches our skin.

And then, of course, we have dairy products with antibiotics, vegetables with pesticides, processed deli meats, hormones in chicken and beef.

We accept SO MUCH because it is convenient and inexpensive and any detrimental affects are far enough away that we can convince ourselves they don't exist. I live in Orange County, and worse yet, 100 yards from a freeway. The air here has a reputation of being some of the worst in the nation, and in fact, many days there's a low-lying swath of smog at the horizon to lend a visual aid. But do I move? No. Because I love the beach and weather, my friends and neighborhood, and can believe that the sun and breeze makes everything all right.

The complacency is terrifying, really.

Like so many, I pick and choose; I buy organic milk, try to wash my vegetables decently, shop for deals, and carry on with my life. Do my half-hearted efforts make any difference? Are my complaints about how out of the way and expensive organics are (the 3 markets within walking distance sell very few organic anything) absurd because really the quality of the food we put in our bodies should be invaluable?

There have been stories in the papers lately about the Nicaraguan field hands protesting banana plantation owners' use of the poisonous DBCP pesticide in the 1970's. How much is actually known and denied, swept away for profit by those in charge? It's hard to imagine people consciously harming others by withholding information, and yet again, it is not hard at all...

For us, for them, for survival -- What is enough?

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I am sitting up in the roasting loft to escape noxious fumes from a flea bomb downstairs (though I am pretty sure I am being poisoned too, just more slowly than the fleas). Why we have fleas when Fat Kitchen lives only outside? Who knows! Disgusting!

Sitting up here, I find that, as usual these days, I have a Flight of the Conchords song stuck in my head. If you haven't yet watched this new show or tivoed it (sunday nights, HBO), you must check it out. I am not one to blog about a TV show, but this one really is funny. Two Kiwis, Jemaine and Bret, moved to NYC to play and cut an album, though really they only sing to themselves in their apt. Here are two sketches to check out:

Ben, by the way, is *obsessed* with this show.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

something new... (there is no ready)

Ben and I are entering new territory. I guess we always knew that at someday we would have to brace ourselves for pain and for loss, but I, at least, considered those things far off. Our vows we tell us we'd face sickness and health, ease and heartache. What they didn't tell us, was how. How do we move through sickness and health, how do we love through the easy times and the unthinkable? The answer, right now, is that we do with heaviness and disbelief, standing close enough that our whole sides touch.

What did explorers do when they summited a hill panting and faced an unending wall of jagged peaks ahead of them and a fresh blizzard howling at their necks? I guess they did all they could -- take the next step. (This seems like a lame analogy; it comes from growing up with a mom who read historical fiction a lot and would stop us and talk us through a vivid landscape, making us consider the details of what life would have been like if...).

Ben's mom's cancer, after having virtually disappeared in April, has suddenly begun to grow aggressively. Yesterday her oncologist categorized her stage 1 clear cell ovarian cancer as stage 3. The disease is incurable and fairly advanced -- she will explore some trial treatment options with a specialist at Johns Hopkins and per her doctor's recommendations, push to do "everything she wants to do" in the next 6-8 weeks. Everything? What does that even mean?
And then what will happen?

I cannot imagine that this strong-willed, healthy, woman won't take up her mat and walk. It turns out I cannot imagine much more than I can see...

Monday, July 09, 2007

On Aging

Madeleine L'Engle writes in A Circle of Quiet:

" Memory is one of the most essential of the writer's tools, and a writer finds it easy to have total recall, just as other people find it easy to balance a checkbook... But the adolescents today are concerned over a general lack of memory in their parents and teachers, and it is this forgetfulness of what it is like to be twelve, or seventeen, or twenty one, that is largely responsible for the famous generation gap. The young look at the amnesiac over-thirties and say, 'We look at the adults around us, and if that is what it means to be grownup, then we say, No! We don't ever want to be like most of the adults we see.'
So they dress as differently from us as they possibly can; they wear wild hairdos and symbolic jewelery; in a secular world they are crying out for transcendence...
So the challenge I face with children is the redemption of adulthood. We must make it evident that maturity is the fulfillment of childhood and adolescence, not a diminishing; that it is an affirmation of life, not a denial; that it is entering fully into our essential selves."

Speaking Pain

I've done a lot of thinking these past few weeks about pain and about communication.

At 9 1/2 weeks, I lost the baby. So unexpected to me that I would have a miscarriage, even though they happen often -- and quietly.

Madeleine L'Engle says that when people talk through pain, they "spread their problems out between [two]...[and]...can then see it themselves in better perspective" (A Circle of Quiet).

This has proved most true for me during the past few weeks. I have been struck by what happens when people speak their pain aloud -- suddenly, others' pain becomes unearthed, and all of this buried gold begins, magically, to rise up and out of ourselves; gravity is reversed and we experience seeing each other for a brief moment.

These interactions change us; they seal us to each other, push us from rehearsed existing into wild living. Often, we don't talk again about what we saw during a raw exchange -- it's too sacred, we even feel embarrassed by how our whole body shook with sobs or how our face turn red and swollen, how all of our guardedness fell -- but the moment solidifies and becomes one of the rocks we pick up because it marked us. Or made us.

I'm so thankful for all the rocks in my pocket...