Please Frequent Your Local Farmer’s Market

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.54.48 PM

Image courtesy of the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market website.

Mother Nature has finally released the winter death grip on the state of Michigan (watch me jinx us.) Last night while walking the dog I realized how ridiculously green the lawns and buds on trees were, how everything looked soft and glowed with life. This of course is before the heat of summer will regulate things back to yellow/brown (we’ll deal with that in due course.)

Right now we relish warmer weather, cool breezes and a rebirth of Michigan. This is also one of my favorite seasons, spring you ask? Nay, Farmer’s Market season. Living in Grand Rapids has spoiled my family and I with great restaurants, many of which have a bold claim of farm to plate fresh. I love this concept and I love how the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market makes this happen.

The Farmer’s Market provides some very important contributions to our community. The following I wish to share with you.

1. This magical veggie/fruit/plant/dairy/meat-filled oasis is right in the heart of the city. I don’t have to drive all over West Michigan to get my local fresh foods, I need only to pack up my canvas bags (oh how earthy!), my mini man and the stroller to get to my foodie haven.

2. I can actually talk to the people who raise the farm animals, create the cheeses, tend to the land & plant our food. I can ask them questions regarding what they use to keep away pests, how I can use my food in a new recipe, what the best times are to plant the flowers I buy, or even what the difference is between the lemon basil versus the spicy basil plants I am considering.

3. It’s also a unique blend of humanity. If you did nothing else at the Farmer’s Market but sit and people-watch for an hour (while sipping your eco-friendly locally roasted coffee), you’d have spent your time well. Few places can bring along so many different individuals so many unique folks from different walks of life. All congregating in the same space, buying the same foods that they will take back to their respective homes.

4. The Farmer’s Market is a great place for families. I can keep the mini man entertained here for a long time. There is so much to explore for kids of all ages. Babies love seeing all the colors and life moving around them. Toddlers, like mini man, love asking questions about the different plants and veggies they are seeing. Meanwhile older kids can learn about how the foods for sale are planted, harvested and then prepped for us.

5. It’s a tradition. I’ve been going to the Farmer’s Market for almost 10 years now, hardly a lifetime, but it’s part of my spring/summer/fall tradition. I love looking forward to my trip. Hoping I will find something to inspire a new meal or help me create the perfect herb garden.

Another fabulous image from the Fulton Street Farmer's Market Website.

Another fabulous image from the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market Website.

6. The food! There are some foods I only enjoy during Farmer’s Market season. The best example is the veggie foccacia from the bread lady down in Kalamazoo. Without fail, her family is at the Farmer’s Market each week selling delicious breads and pizza crusts. Each time I am there I make sure to pick up some goodies from her stand. I know it’s fresh-made and we hardly wait longer than afternoon to bake some bread to enjoy.

Above all else, I love the Farmer’s Market because I know my food is grown with care, I know it’s fresh, I know it’s delicious and it rivals the prices at the supermarket.

So join your community at your local Farmer’s Market and enjoy some fresh foods as part of your diet and some cultural exposure to the folks you call neighbors.

 

The World is Your Oyster, Unless You are a Tall Girl

This must be my rant week, as this is ranty post #2. Bear with me.

Heads are optional.

Heads are optional.

Allow me to preface: 85% of the time I LOVE being tall. I truly love it. I can see above many in busy restaurants. I can keep staplers away from co-workers merely by keeping them out of arms’ reach. I don’t need a ladder most of the time. I can walk the dog at  4 mph without breaking into a jog. This part of being tall rocks. But there are challenges, because you see the world is your oyster, unless you are a tall girl.

Fashion plight.

Pants: In the early 90s I was 5’9″. I was also 13. Plus clothiers didn’t make “tall girl” pants back then. So all of my jeans ended at the ankle or above, before it was cool to end your pants above the ankle. And no, black socks do not create the illusion of longer pant leg. The create the affirmation that your pant leg is too short.

Shirts/sleeves: To this day they are still the bane of my existence. I love sleeves just as much as the next person, but most of the time I find myself pulling on them like a nervous school girl or rolling them up as if I love 3/4-length sleeves, ALL THE TIME. Which are fine for three out of four seasons. I don’t like that my wrists must be cold all winter. Not good. Now shirt length and layering becomes key for any tall girl. Thank God tunics are still in style and I avoid crop tops like the plague. You do not need to see my stomach, you also don’t need to see my ribcage. There is no reason this part of my body belongs at work. So I either pull the shirts down beyond reason or rock the tank top under everything. Please don’t take away the layered look, things will get really awkward really fast.

Maxi dresses.They have never, nor will they ever reach the floor. They are ankle dresses on us.

Skirts. Instantly way above the knee and slutty when meant to linger just under the knee. Professional slutty, anyone?

You get the point, cute clothes aren’t meant for the tall. Tall person clothes are only meant to cover the parts that would offend in public. Fashion is optional.

Sports.

Propensity to do so. Unless crafting or painting is a sport, I am not a sports person. My height does not increase my ability to play any sports requiring height and coordination. You should have both, just having height will not guarantee awesomeness. So stop asking. I don’t ask if you play mini golf simply because you are short.

Exercise.

Armless workouts are AWESOME. We have an XBOX, which is excellent for workouts. We also have a narrow living room which is not excellent for workouts.When I stand at the widest part of my living room to do my workout the body scanner stops at my head. So my head movements and arm movements don’t count. EVER. Been rockin’ 85% accuracy for months.

General public awkwardness.

Feeling “off” most of the time. I LOVE hanging out with my girlie friends. Especially when we are sitting down, because we can see eye to eye and I feel connected to those around me. The moment we stand up, I am alone, I am alone high above my group, I can see for miles around me, but everyone I am with is now out of my own ear shot. I look down but I can barely make out their facial features. So alone. And when it rains, yes you get umbrella in the eye and you do a weird half fold to accommodate the situation. No you are now not graceful but moving like a beaten crane who is still getting wet.

Not a ladder/ not a forklift.

I do not work here. Please don’t employ my services to reach a can, put something back, or pull down a shirt. I am shopping like you and I am likely to be in a hurry. No, I am not being unkind, I am being a person who has other things to do. Forgive me or don’t I am not likely to hear from up here anyway.

Tall comments.

I love those. Yes, I am an amazon, I must be you just made light of it. Yes, the air really is thin up here. Yep, I will definitely let you know when it starts raining so you can scramble and prepare. Why, yes, I do smack my forehead on doorways ALL THE TIME, how did you know? That is my CIVIC, and when I fold down to 1/4 my original size I too can fit into it just like you.

Perhaps you feel I am overly sensitive, that’s okay. If I was average height I would think I’m being overly sensitive as well.

Hi I’m a Left Handed Living in a Right Handed’s World

There I said it.  I admitted an undeniable fact. A dirty little secret. I am left-handed and proud, but I live in a world that doesn’t treat us as equals, you see, we live in a right-handed’s world and somehow that makes all the difference.

In kindergarten I was playing leap-frog on the playground at school. I leaped wrong and landed on my elbow. My left elbow. Unbeknownst to me it created a hairline fracture that revealed itself many hours later in the form of a lap dog landing on my left arm. Sweet Jesus. That hurt. Next thing I remember was the emergency room staff cutting away my t-shirt to get my x-rays done. I wore a cast for 6 weeks. I tried to color and draw with my right hand (my parents were hopeful I’d switch only because they knew a left handed wasn’t going to have an easy life in a right handed’s world.) The very next day my stubborn personality took over and I wedged the colored pencils into my left hand. I overcame. I still use my left hand. Broken arm be damned.

My parents gave in. They bought left-handed scissors for me to use. That’s when we learned I am ambidextrous. Haha, jokes on you folks.

2014-05-13 12.41.38Next I noticed the difference in my first-grade class. We were learning penmanship, so all school children were issued fountain pens (it’s the early 80s and we were in the Netherlands, so fountain pens it was.) All the kids were proudly holding their beautiful blue fountain pens, ready and eager to learn to write cursive. Meanwhile three of us had to wait for our teacher to fish out special left-handed fountain pens from the bottom of her desk, underneath her files, in a zip lock baggie. What made it worse was they were a very unlikable green color. ew. ew. ew.

The examples continue with outdated school desks catering only to the right handed, with my arm hanging off the side as I tried to keep up with my notes. My left hand confidently smudging my notes written in pencil, smearing my math homework expertly written on lined paper. My paintings slightly smudged with my “creative” hand. I cannot hide my mark. My hand always matches the shade of the work I do. Scrub scrub, go back to my desk, look down, damn it the mark is back.

When I go out to dinner with my spouse or my friends, instinctively my elbow tucks in tight against my body, as not to run into my counterparts with my feeding arm. I relish dinner dates with left handeds, it’s refreshing to sit at a table when my husband is an “outsider,” navigating his arm against our feeding elbows.

Last week I went to Costco, when it came time to sign the screen I asked the woman for a pen, “it’s right over there,” she pointed to the far corner of the checkout station. I grabbed the pen and stretched the retractable cord beyond reason so I could sign. It whipped out of my hand and shot across the station. She gave me a weak smile. I tried again.

By no means am I indicating that being left-handed is a handicap. I am able-bodied, healthy and happy and quite frankly I love being left-handed. We tend to be more creative (my work is crawling with creative left handeds.) I notice when people are left-handed in movies, you see because they are my brethren. We stand together and unite.

All I am asking for is some understanding. Make the retractable cord appear at the center of the checkout station. Allow school desks to not only cater to the right hander, but to all students. Don’t point out that I have ink stains on my hand, I know I do. Don’t you think I ran to the bathroom before my big meeting to scrub it off?

I am left-handed and I am proud.

Enjoying the Rest of Our March of Dimes Season

Keeping people’s attention is a fleeting thing. What starts of as lots of enthusiasm can dwindle over time. That is why we generally don’t extend our inner-office March of Dimes fundraising beyond 2 months. This post is dedicated to the remaining efforts in the 2014 season.

Shameless plug #1

Shameless plug #1

Stop being loud. Start saving babies – We had a very successful silent auction in the office, folks were generous both in donations as well as bids. We had 22 entries and raised an incredible $1,031! Here is our link to the MOD silent auction page. Don’t you wish you bid? I love this event because it does a solid job fundraising but it’s also fun to see what percolate in a co-worker’s mind to donate a decorative sheep pie plate, or paint a purple bird painting,

Shameless plug #2

Shameless plug #2

or donate a hummus cooking class, play guitar? GREAT! We have a class for that. The other is seeing just how many alcohol baskets one small office can procure. Impressively there were four. Yes, we like to drink, yes, we like to bid. End of story.

see my t-shirt, see how it's grand?

see my t-shirt, see how it’s grand?

March for Babies. This is one of my favorite times of year, the spring weather has arrived, families and friends join together for a walk to celebrate our babies and honor the little spirits that are no longer with us. This year was sunny, but bitterly cold. It reminded my that Mother Nature wasn’t done with us. Hundreds of families trekked the 5K with gloves, winter hats and warm coats. Though we had adorable ddm/MOD t-shirts on, they were buried deep underneath our coats. Long story short, I made this walk memorable by needing assistance from the Caledonia fire department when my hands turned purple. Two minutes assessing my numb fingers I was issued real firefighter gloves, in a size XL. I proudly waved those huge mitts as if they were a foam hand at a baseball game. VIVA March for Babies, VIVA Caledonia fire department! Kudos to ddm for raising $1,796 online!

Waiting with baited breath.

Waiting with baited breath.

Bowling for Babies! (Please do not use babies to bowl.) This was a new event for us, would people come on a Sunday? Would we be able to peel them away from family obligations, out-of-town games, sleeping on their couches? For the most part yes. Lots of co-workers and their loved ones joined. Two solid hours of bowling, pizza and refreshments, we squeezed in a 50/50 raffle, and the big cake reveal. Nothing could have been better. Well except my BLUE team didn’t win.

WHAT?!?!?!?

WHAT?!?!?!?

PURPLE dominated (they did so with additional online and & daily mile donation success.) Damn you PURPLE team. Mark, my boss, provided us with the most honest reaction to unveiling that he didn’t lead winners, he led runner ups. At least we clocked in $585 for the event, overall.

In summary this year ended on a high note, we beat our total amount raised from 2013 by almost $1,000. We encouraged the participation of all the new co-workers we collected since last year, we tried a new event and people actually came. A MOD SQUADDER cannot complain. We raised $5,426.78 – that ain’t half bad. Check out how we performed by event.