Balance

So I have bought a book that I am scared to read. I’ve never been scared to read a book but I can say with certain that Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals, freaks me out.    It took me a very long time to buy it even though it has been on my reading list forever.  And it may take even longer for me to actually start reading it.  I’ve already started making excuses for myself.  Last night when my husband asked if I was going to read it, I said I would look at it but that I had Salt and Russia to read.  And that’s when I realised that really, I was scared to read it.

I am a carnivore. But a very tentative one at the best of times.  I eat fish, chicken and pork.  I don’t eat beef or lamb.  I like most game meat but don’t cook it at home.  However if you told me tomorrow that I could never eat meat again I wouldn’t have an issue with it.  Sure I’d miss bacon and English Sunday roasts. Thanksgiving, Easter  and Christmas wouldn’t be the same.  But honestly the majority of the year, not eating meat would just feel normal to me.  I would have a much harder time giving up coffee (and cakes). 

I had given up meat for the most part, by the time I entered college. It looked and tasted disgusting in the cafeteria so it wasn’t difficult to not eat it while I was at NU.  When I moved back to Southern California it was easy to continue; not eating meat is a way of life there.  There were options, alternatives, Trader Joes and Wholefoods, and it wasn’t expensive.

When I moved to England (yep, that’s right, I moved to England by choice from California)  I was a pescetarian – a fancy word for fish eater.  The only thing that stood in the way between me and true vegetarianism was (and probably still is) sushi.  I don’t know why I gave up meat in the first place, I just didn’t miss it once I stopped eating it.

The first time I bought tofu in London I was shocked.  I couldn’t find it in the store because it is unrefrigerated in a cardboard box tucked away from sight and covered with dust.  There was no hard, firm, or soft options, just tofu in a box.  And it was expensive. Three pounds for a box of it!  At the time the exchange rate was 2 USD to the pound.  Six dollars for unrefrigerated tofu!  And it wasn’t even good tofu!  I just remember thinking Trader Joe’s where are you now? I miss you. 

Eight years ago not eating meat in England was treated like a disease.  It was expensive to buy what Californians would classify as simple vegetarian options in the super markets and restaurants just didn’t cater to not eating meat.  To be honest, I got sick of eating pasta with red sauce or salmon on every business lunch and dinner I had. Eating meat just became easier, cheaper and more convenient. It might sound like a copout to those staunch and strict vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans out there.  But I was 25, living in a new city, in a new country without a lot of money and I just needed to find my way.  And part of that involved eating animals. The final thing that converted me was bacon sandwiches.  Hung over, in the office on a Tuesday morning, a cheese and tomato toastie just didn’t live up to the bacon sandwiches everyone else around me had. 

And so I became a carnivore. And married a man who still believes peas are an exotic vegetable. I almost are tri-tip at our wedding but that was a step to far for me.  We’ve been on a healthy eating kick, which invariably means less junk, less fatty meat and more fruit and vegetables. I’ve been reading loads of running and cooking blogs.  And I’ve been thinking a lot about giving up meat again.

For now, Eating Animals sits safely on my bedside table.  I may get there.  But first, I need to decide that I want to get there. Somewhere there is a balance.

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I Go Back

Sometimes there are smells that take you a million miles away. Sometimes they are smells you don’t remember until they find you again. I opened a salad that my husband made for lunch last week and it took me straight to Italy. I spent a summer studying there between my freshmen and sophomore year. I loved it. Every second of it. It was the trip that made me decided I wanted to work abroad at some point. Little did I know then that I would not only work abroad but I’d marry a Brit and buy a home in England.

Every day we would go to a little café across the street from the University of Verona and order insalata di tonno senza cipolle. And the second I opened my salad I was transported back there. It didn’t matter that I was in the middle of the office on a wet and cold January day. One smell and all I could see, hear and taste was Verona. Sitting in that café on a warm summer afternoon, slightly uncomfortable in my surroundings, worried about saying something wrong in a language that wasn’t my own, but being utterly in love with each second I was there.

There is a health kick in my house. Nothing to do with me and I am not sure how long it will last. But it does mean I get a little piece of Italy right now when I eat my lunch.

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crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life

But not a vintage life.  Nope, I don’t lead a vintage life. And I don’t have a vintage husband.  In fact, I’m not even certain I lead a crafty life.  And I certainly don’t have a crafty home.  Five and sometimes six or seven days of the week depending on travel, I am a business woman in a suit. It’s unlikely you’d be able to pick me out from all the other train commuters.  I work in an office, I sit in front of the computer, and I do negotiations and write contracts.  I don’t knit on the train, although many days I wish I did.  But my train ride is short and most days crowded.  Many I don’t get a seat. I am a full-time professional with a craft addiction but I also love reading and cooking and running.  And as much as I love my hand knitted socks, I also love clean fresh lines and Danish Design.  

Most the time I feel like I don’t really fit in the “crafty” world.  The things I like to make, I don’t necessarily want all over my house. I don’t own a hutch or have a dresser in my kitchen (and I don’t want either). I don’t take long walks every day, bake gorgeous cakes or have coffee every morning in the garden.  And I don’t take pictures of everything.  Or at least not many pictures that do justice to what ever I am photographing. But more than anything, I feel like I am the only one out there who is away from home 10+ hours a day and tries to squeeze in my crafts when I can on top of everything else I love to do and need to do (like clean the house!).  Maybe it is just because all of these other women just don’t have the time to post on blogs.  Instead they read them on their lunch hour like I do and day-dream about what it is like to have hours to knit in front of the fireplace or sew while listening to Christmas music. 

I really do love my life.  It’s just not that life.

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Missing the Fog

I was an avid and anonymous blog reader before I decided to create BCLG. I can recall reading countless posts of people apologising to their readers for never posting.  And I remember thinking, it can’t be that hard to post on a blog. Every day is a bit much but once or twice a week, I could do that.  `well it turns out, it is difficult and I can’t do it.  Because life happens.  Some days you don’t have enough time to cook a real dinner or speak to your partner on more than email.  So for now I will continue to be an avid blog reader, although slightly less anonymous and post on my own blog when I find the time.  And I’ll continue to wonder how those who do manage to post so often, keep up with their friends, make amazing meals, host dinner parties, run their own business, stay in shape and sew/knit/crochet, have all those hours in their day.

I read a comment from an old friend from my home town about how they were driving through fog and it reminded them of home.  And I knew exactly what they were talking about.  The drive on 33 out of Ojai as you head to Ventura, in fog so think you can hardly see. The valley filled with fog as you come down the grade.  The June gloom.  Dressing up like it is winter because it is foggy.  Waiting for the fog to burn off so you could go to the beach or see the view from the top of your hike.  Strange, I never thought I would miss fog.  Maybe it’s not the fog that I was missing this morning, but my beautiful home town.   I love living in London (well just outside London now), I love our home and our friends and my life here.  But every now and again the a little comment or thought makes me take a deep breath and think, I miss the fog.

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A Lighter Shade of Grey

The sun has made a short appearance today after weeks of rain and cold.  It has just been so dark and grey.  But not the typical English grey.  (I never knew how many shades of grey there was until I moved to England and I never expected to be excited when the weather was “bright grey”.)  It’s just been dark; for weeks. Everyone is in such a better mood when it is not raining.

I forced myself out of bed this morning to run and it was so worth it.  I have been super productive at work so far and feel full of energy.  It was early, the sun was shining, there was a little chill in the air and I had a glorious run. Before I even got to the park I was already thinking, why has it taken me so long to start running in the mornings again?  I didn’t even mind the mad rush to get ready and out the door on time.  The only slight hiccup was the rotten milk that went in to my coffee.  Why does the milk always go off on the days you wake up extra early?

We move in a week and a half.  I can’t believe it is almost here!  After years and years of saving and dreaming and looking at horrible places and saving some more, we are about to officially become homeowners.  It will be ours at last!  We will still have a littlish garden, not as secluded as we are now, but no train running through the back either.  And while technically not in the city, I’ll only be a block away from the London city limits so I don’t think a name change is necessary.

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Bliss

A far cry from England…

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Going naked

Tuesday I did something I would have never imagined myself doing. I walked around London barefoot, near Victoria Station of all places.

Growing up in Southern California, walking around barefoot is just a way of life. You put flipflops on because the road or sand is too hot. Shoes just don’t seem to be as necessary as they are here. In England, I don’t go barefoot. Not even in my flat. I have socks and slippers on regardless of the time of year. It is just too cold here and too wet and if it isn’t already raining, it might be. Any minute now. And well, it’s just dirty. The barefoot mentality just doesn’t exist. You’d be mad to go around London with no shoes on!

But Tuesday night I joined about 30 other crazies for a presentation on barefoot running which was followed by some practice in St. James Park. Most of us were wearing Vibram Five Fingers, which are sort of like gloves for your feet including a spot of each toe. We walked from the shop to the park in our Five Fingers and once we got there were told that really the best thing to do was to take our shoes off, in the rain, in the middle of London, and go barefoot. It was, after all, a barefoot running demonstration and not a Five Fingers demonstration. So I did just that. I ran up and down the paths practicing running barefoot and because my feet were wet and muddy when we were done, I walked back to the store barefoot.

And it wasn’t bad at all. Although I don’t think I’ll spend much time running around London without my Five Fingers.

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