Basket Case

The more you know…the less sure you become of anything.

As we learn more about our current food chain, the more nervous and suspicious we’ve become of any established, branded food source and subsequently the places we might buy them from.  Still, we live in the North East where we simply don’t grow some basic staples such as wheat, rice or corn in any usable, sustainable quantities, and the winters force us to buy food from elsewhere.  Add to that our addiction to comforts such as coffee, chocolate and french wine, and the result is that one day a week, I bundle the Bundles into the car for a convoluted shopping excursion for sustenance which can take the entire day.

It takes the entire day because we are picky about our food but we also do not have an unlimited amount of money.  Organic food cooperatives often are the only place to find good, local and/or organic produce and grass fed meats, but their dry goods and other brand name items are often over-priced and can be found in your friendly neighborhood agribusiness supermarket chain store for much much less.  Around these parts, the cheapest supermarket chain for such items is Market Basket.

A typical Saturday will therefore find us in Concord, NH, or Peterborough followed by Rindge, or Brattleboro, VT, or to Springfield, VT followed by a trip to Claremont.

Market Baskets are, in general, dingy, run down stores with little infrastructure, sad employees and broken carts.  There are no cup holders on the carts or car-carts for children or little cafes.  The public bathrooms are hidden in the back in the warehouse section.  The clientele are elderly, obese, or poor.  So the selections are basic and often change based on whether the chain can purchase them from their distributors for a reasonable price. 

Recently a concerted effort has been in the works to start a Co-op in Keene, NH.  This has excited us, since I work in Keene, and would save us a considerable amount of time.  We also recently learned of a Market Basket in Swanzey, one town over.  Although still trips to 2 different stores, it would be novel to have all of our needs in the same town. 

We checked it out; the Market Basket in Swanzey is gorgeous.  But here’s the quandary: this modern, gorgeous Market Basket, with its smooth riding carts and heated dairy aisles, so close to where I work which will make our lives easier, was built on the remains of a beautiful field and its old, dilapidated chicken barn.

They could have grown wheat or corn or grass fed cows there and kept the land fertile.  But they paved it over and ruined it forever instead.  And we’ll shop there.  Because we’re in the system.  We’ll always be in the system.

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Cold Dreary Nothings

It’s raining.

It hasn’t rained for most of the season, or, well, I should say, for most of the summer season.  October is always pretty rainy around here, belying the image of gorgeous, dry sunny fall days.  Possibly we’re getting the remainder of the big midwest storm.  At least its not snow.

Everyone in the family and extended has had the same annoying cold, starting in the chest and making mockery of our vocals and then refusing to move out.  But the farm must go on, so we pick rocks in the orchard and dig potatoes in the garden and spread mulch hay, made damp and moldy by the cold rain.

We are both dreading and looking forward to snow.

Not that things are scheduled to slow down any.  All the indoor projects, such as clearing out a room for Bundle II to call her own, as well as paperwork for the farm, some carpentry projects, and, oh yeah, vacuuming, doing dishes and laundry, etc, have been successfully ignored all summer.  As a consequence they’ve piled up haphazedly in a corner of our minds and we’ll have to spend some time to properly sort them out.

Time? Eh… it’s here somewhere.

Reconnections and Growing Up

All through high school and college, my outward persona was that of a confident, quirky, eclectic, offbeat tomboy who was doomed to being an outcast because I didn’t want kids and probably wouldn’t get married anyway.  Almost twenty years, a husband, a stable job and two kids later, I look back on all that and wonder why any of my friends put up with me. 

Sure, I had my good points.  But I was also arrogant and pushy and completely self-centered.  I’m still arrogant and self centered, but I dropped the pushy part.  I think I dropped the pushy part.  Or I gave it to Bundle o’ Joy I.

In any event, somewhere along the line — I believe possibly somewhere in the second trimester of my positively geriatric second pregnancy — I grew up.  Then, after I successfully delivered Bundle o’ Joy II to air and freedom and we were discharged, I went to the local liquor store to buy a half bottle of champagne to celebrate, and got carded.  Since I was feeling so old and also hadn’t ventured in to buy alcohol in the past nine months I hadn’t even brought my ID with me, so I was actually denied my celebratory half bottle of champagne by the 21 year old clerk.  See, the old me would have been righteously indignant about this chain of events and would have blogged about it five months ago when it actually happened.  The new me just shrugged resignedly, recognized that the clerk was only doing her job, left, and had my husband go in and buy the damn champagne instead.  Which actually didn’t work because he walked in feeling righteously indignant and they refused to sell it to him as well, so we ended up having to go to the liquor store down the road to buy the bottle, making it less celebratory and more revenge-like, but the point is that I’ve grown up.

Recently an old college friend came up to spend some time with us and specifically to help us denude our bog of cranberries.  As an aside, I think this friend can probably testify in a court of law that the LLARCS are more busy than super heated atoms, and also that we do in fact kill and eat our own chickens, since through a series of scheduling mishaps we ended up processing 59 of our 92 birds on the same weekend she was supposed to be here.  The point, though, is that even though we live vastly different lives from both each other and from the people we used to be, we reconnected at once, as if not one single day had gone by since I left messages on her answering machine singing The Bondage Song.  The words and tune to which, I’m sad to say, I don’t remember.  It was a while ago.

On the heels of this old friend’s visit, my best friend from high school came back East with her husband for a visit, and we had dinner at her parent’s house and played Pass-the-Baby, a slightly sadistic game in which you try to end up being the person without the baby when it comes time to sit down for dinner.  Then you try to eat all your food before the baby comes your way.  Any person with food still on their plate caught holding the baby loses.  (I lost. Actually, I’m not sure anyone won.)  As we were leaving her mother asked wistfully if I wanted to jump on the bed for old times sake, and since I honestly couldn’t remember ever jumping on that bed I stared at her for a long while before begging out of the offer.  Now that I think back on it I think there was one instance in which I flopped on the bed and a cat went flying, and this incident went down in history as legend, but my memory is terrible these days because of the aforementioned children, so it’s really only a vague impression.

I’m telling you, I feel old.

Lastly in these very few short days another friend from college re-appeared from oblivion, once known as snoodle but now known as so anyway.  All these blasts from the past are hurting my poor old head.  It’s past my bedtime, the chickens are shivering in the mid October snow, Lionel has a cold and the children are all finally asleep, so I finally have some time for reflection on all this and find that the mirror’s all fogged up and I can’t see a thing.  So I’ll leave you with that and go to bed instead.

Good night, old friends.

Taking the Small out of Business

On the advice of our accountant and out of fear of being sued by stupid, mean people tripping on rocks in our orchard, we incorporated last year.  The result netted us a real, live farm name, triggered tons of junk mail, and allowed us to open a separate bank account.  We depreciate stuff on our taxes and we file reports with the state.  Our accountant snorted when we told him our expected income for the year.  We have no employees save ourselves.  We’re pretty much as small a business as a small business could be. 

But we’re a business, and it is campaign season, so we listen with interest as candidates spit out rhetoric about this and that and talk about how their policies will help or hurt “small business”.

I don’t know which one of us started getting suspicious about this term but I think we finally realized they weren’t talking about us when they started talking about tax cuts for the rich hurting small business, the definition for which is still classed up over into the quarter million dollar a year income mark, and we looked at our miniscule little tax return and its stupid little depreciations and came to terms with the fact that we are not a small business after all.

We’re a microscopic business.  Nobody cares about us.

Well, at least not the government.  Corporate America wants to give us business credit cards and life insurance for our non-existent employees and pens with our name on it and so on.  Maybe they were microscopic too, once.  Now they are merely small.  Someday, when a supernova occurs and makes room for the next star, one of them will grow to be big.  It won’t be us.  We suspect that as businesses go, we’ll always be too small to notice.

Moving Sale

I didn’t really want to move, you see, but the neighborhood had changed quite a bit.  Whenever I tried to insert pictures they appeared way up on the top of the screen instead of inside my post and I had to do some funky work to get them to be where I wanted.  Saving an entry took about 10 minutes.  But the format was familiar, the address was home to me and, well, truth be told, I was getting complacent about where I was.  That is, until the owners of Blog-City sent out the announcement that they were closing shop.

While they’re not kicking us out, per se, they’re not planning any upgrades or suchlike which means that the blog itself and its visibility on the web may change or become unreadable with the next version of IE or FireFox, and in any event my subscription with them is up in November, so, after a few months of mulling it over I up and did something about it.

It’s energized me, kind of, in the “ugh, I hate webdesign” kind of way that I have.  For instance, I bought me a domain name so I can officially be known as Swamp Yankee Wannabes.  And instead of doing what I should do in the mornings and save our chickens from captivity, I have been playing with themes and designs and trying to figure out how to change the font of my entries without resorting to wading through HTML and how to export and import my previous blog entries into Word Press.

Okay, turns out I can’t.  Yet.  But the good people at Blog-City have assured me they are working on such a thing, so I’ll just be patient on that front.

As with all moves I’ll be moving the furniture around quite a bit, sometimes with less than stellar results, which may stick around for a while depending on what crazy thing I am doing outside of the virtual world (This past week we dug the trenches for the apple trees that will go in next year.  Believe me, excavators are way more fun than MySQL.)  I’ll send out the obligatory “My site has moved” entry shortly….perhaps nanoseconds after I post this one….I may even be around more often as I become enamored of my new surroundings and not so incidentally as fall finally winds down and we here at LARC, or LLARCS as we are now officially known, can finally sit down, breath, contemplate, and wax philosophic to the ethernet.

Welcome to Swamp Yankee Wannabes, version 2.0.  In a world of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Smartphones, we’re stubbornly blogging along.

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