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Healthier Eating

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There’s been this debate in our county about “nutritional standards” and now we seem to be legislating it. I suppose in my world, healthier eating means removing as much artificially flavored, overly processed foods from my diet. To others, it may mean gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, or any combination that fits a person’s wants, needs and possible allergies.

I thought we lived in a highly educated, motivated, discerning, well informed corner of the universe. I seem to be somewhat naïve since now we need the government to choose what is “healthy” for us.

I read the county council passed bill, with its exceptions, convoluted language, and even its confusing parts that make me shake my head. Low fat milk is full of sugar. Diet sodas have lots of sodium. Which wins? I thought healthy now included fats? According to this bill, it doesn’t. And that 25 cent thing? Really? OK, I’m a vendor. I put a four ounce healthy snack in my machine for 25 cents less than an eight ounce “unhealthy” snack. Which would you buy?

Why don’t we just ban vending machines if we are worried people won’t make the right choices? While we are at it, can we get rid of those annoying Girl Scout and Cub Scout fundraisers that push sugar laden foods on us as we try to get to the library? And, why aren’t the schools included in this “purge” of unhealthy choices?

Make it simple. Stop selling packaged stuff. Period. Whether it’s the sugar, or the fat, or the artificial flavorings and colorings. They are all bad for us in excess.

The people who live here do a pretty good job of thinking for themselves.

For example. Our annual Field Day. Where we once went through cases of soda.

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Now, we ended up turning back most of the sodas. We go through large amounts of water, and not quite as much Gatorade. In the extreme heat, the crews drink more Gatorade to rehydrate, but even that is changing. They didn’t need bans or legislation to change their habits.

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Heck, this year, they ate almost all my tzatziki and veggies, and all my salad I brought. Seven years ago, they wouldn’t have made a dent in it. The first pizza to be finished. The veggie one.

Seriously, people. Give our fellow residents some credit. We are one of the healthiest counties in our state. We don’t need all this legislation to tell us what to eat. If we don’t want processed food in county buildings, ban the vending machines.

Opening Doors

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And discovering the world.

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In two days a blogging friend who also volunteers with me at the Conservancy is leaving on a one YEAR trip around the world. Something many of us dream of doing. She is starting in Istanbul, one of my absolute favorite cities that we visited during our travels in the past.

I am following her family’s journey on their web page. I admire their quest to travel the world with only a backpack a person. Husband and Wife. Three girls. Their nanny.

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Travel to places where they speak a different language. Eat different foods. Live their lives in totally different ways than we do.

Their journey reminds me to dust off my bucket list. Look for those things I want to do, but haven’t yet. I’ve done quite a bit of it, but there’s always more mountains to climb. Seas to sail. History to discover.

In the meantime, those grounded items on my list keep getting checked. The garden. Check. The house in the country. Check. That radio tower for my husband. Getting closer.

First prize for my heirloom tomatoes at the fair. Sometimes I think it’s unattainable. The weather keeps conspiring against me. But, the search and the challenge is what keeps us going.

I wish Lisa and her family fair winds and following seas. We will be following their adventure, and maybe planning a dream trip of our own.

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Committing to a Garden

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While up at my community garden today, and dealing with the almost daily weeding task, I thought about those who have attempted to garden only to be discouraged by the amount of work it takes.

Yes, gardening is fun for some of us. But, we have to have patience, to wait for those plants to mature. We also have to have dedication. To go out there in the heat or the rain or the cold, to weed and water.

We had a few changes at our community gardens already this year. It is a daunting task when you begin. Before you figure out the rhythm necessary to keep it going. To keep it weed free. To keep it pest free.

To harvest during the peak season. To protect it from the elements.

Still it is rewarding when you get that bumper crop. When the tomatoes start to go nuts.

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When the zucchini are out of control.

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I find it therapeutic to weed. To spend the time nurturing those plants.

And right now it’s fun to watch those baby killdeer running everywhere.

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You too can have a garden. Start small. Maybe some herbs to add to dinner. Maybe a small salad table. Maybe just a tomato plant in a pot.

Nothing like fresh, home grown treats that you made yourself.

Memorial Day

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We were somewhat busy today but I still took some time to remember what this “holiday” really means. Besides the start of summer, the pools opening, those retail sales, and BBQ parties at the beach or wherever.

We tend to stay home this weekend. Always have. We know we are lucky our dads came home after WWII. They both served in the South Pacific 70 years ago.

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Came home, met our mothers. Got married. My husband and I were both first born children. Early baby boomers. We lived through the Cold War. Hid under our desks during air raid practices. Watched the protests during the Vietnam War. Lost many class mates to that war.

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My retirement flag. Sits there to remind me how fortunate we are. To live in freedom. That others fought and died to achieve, and maintain.

Thanks to all who gave their lives so we could live in freedom.

Choosing Community Again

I really do dislike that slogan around here. The “Choose Civility” one. As if civility is all we need to show to those we encounter. Whether on the roads, in the stores, in our neighborhoods.

For us. A sense of community is what is important. A sense of neighbors helping neighbors. Of being there for each other when we need them. A civil nod, and “Have a Nice Day” doesn’t resonate.

Case in point. This past weekend, and that overachieving snow.

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For us, it couldn’t have come in a worse time. Our snow thrower bit the dust.

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Last week, during the minor snowfall (how many of these buggers are we going to get?), the cable that turns the augur, broke. On order. Slated to come in tomorrow. Enter Saturdays 10 inches of snow.

We called two neighbors. And, one of them, we called their son’s cell. Sunday morning, bright and early we get a response. The son, on the RTV helped us clear out. He had just come from the widow’s property up the road, where he plowed her driveway for her. After ours, he did another neighbor.

Later that day, his parents did get back to us. They checked their messages from their vacation in Hawaii and wanted to make sure we could get in touch with their son. Later, our other neighbor came over to tell us, in the future, when they are away, which they were, we should just go in the barn and take their snowthrower to use.

Now, that’s community. Not being civil. But caring about one another.

I do love it out here. The people make it special.

Notify Me Howard

OK, we have to do something about Howard. He keeps emailing me. SEVEN times in the last 24 hours. And, he keeps changing his mind. 6-10 inches. Followed by 4-8 inches (just a few minutes after the previous prediction). Now, he’s back to the 6-10 inch thing.

So, will he be right or wrong? Will we wake up to this?

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Notify Me Howard sends us emails. Mostly about weather and cancellations and notices. When the weather is about to go ugly, they can overdo it.

I am so tired of winter. Tired of the cold. The wind. The snow. I keep hearing Jimmy Buffett in my mind. You know, BOAT DRINKS!

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I haven’t shot any holes in our freezer. Well, because we haven’t got any guns in the house, and the freezer is safely in the basement.

Time to go make something good to sip while waiting for the snow to really arrive. Can you tell it’s frustrating around here?

One Wild Weekend

Never a dull moment around here. Even when we do stay home.

Valentine’s Day is a day I cook a special dinner paired with an old wine. We don’t fight the crowds in restaurants. And, since the weather was awful, we had our romantic feast without the worry of trying to drive home in the snow and ice.

All that running around Wednesday for the CSA and Friends and Farms, and Thursday for the lamb and shrimp in Mt. Airy meant I could cook at leisure, and savor our dinner.

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Who knew things would get real exciting a few hours later. Looking out the window of the dining room from the kitchen I see a line of flashing red lights at the end of our driveway. What is going on? I call down to my husband who is on the radio looking for a rare contact, and head out into the wind.

What do I find? A car in the driveway. That, I see, is OK, as they are assisting a friend in emptying their car before a tow truck arrives. The paramedics are putting people in the ambulance, from the other car, the one we couldn’t see, as it was dangling over the embankment held up by trees and our mailboxes. Well, what used to be our mailboxes. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt but my other neighbors spent this morning trying to find mail all over the fields across from us. We, being home all day, had retrieved our mail before our mailbox went bye bye.

Sheared off at the base. In freezing weather. Now, we are searching for someone who can put a new one into the frozen hillside. Until then, mail will be forwarded to our PO box, which my husband uses for radio contact cards.

Adding to all the other excitement, we were awakened at 3 am by what sounded like banshees howling. 60+ knot wind gusts. For a very very long time. Sleep? Who could sleep through this? At least the hexbeam held up on the tower. Another milestone for the tower. Surviving winds of that speed.

This morning. I was lucky. The bird feeders survived. But, the bird bath was empty. All the water blew out. I had to go out, fill it up and spread seed for the very cold birds out there. This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, and today, I counted a gazillion juncos out there. Really. I couldn’t count them all. The ground was covered in them.

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Along with the cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, starlings, woodpeckers, robins, finches and crows, I think I got a good count as everyone hit the seed and the water.

I am so tired of winter. Spring needs to get here soon.

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