Saturday, October 9, 2010

Today we we rode bikes to a woody area about 6kms from us, went for a nature walk there and had a picnic. It qualifies as our Thanksgiving celebration. I love riding my bike, haven't spent as much time on it lately as I would like to have. But nevertheless it was really lovely and easy, and we all enjoyed it immensely. It was interesting to take this route as I haven't done it since the first night I got the Xtracycle, and even with my cycle-slacking lately, I am so much faster, stronger, and better at balancing! Hills I had to walk up the first ride are like nothing to ride up now, and the distance (we went about twice as far along the route as we did that first time) was nothing. So interesting to see how far I have come with it!

Some pics:

Tired 2 year old... she is in a carrier here although you can't see it.

Some of the woods...

The Xtracycle waiting for us...

Now-awake 2 year old ready for the ride home...

And off we go...

The 3 of us on the bike...

A great day!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I have taken the plunge and joined a CSA in my town. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, basically where you pay the farmer at the start of the season and enjoy the fruits of his/her gardens for several weeks or months following. The idea is that the people who eat the food share in the financial risk-taking with the farmer, and provide the capital necessary to purchase supplies and to sustain the farming family while they grow food for us to eat. And if the peppers do badly, we have few peppers, while perhaps the zucchini grew wonderfully this year so we share in an abundance of zucchini. That is my very amateur explanation anyways. It also encourages local eating, so avoiding having your food shipped thousands of miles to your plate, and if the CSA is organic (which mine is and I think most are), it supports organic agriculture.

I have thought about doing it before but never followed through. This year I think the impetus is partially that I feel buoyed by my carfree project, that I can untangle myself somewhat from 'the status quo' and that I have the capacity to follow through. Also I have a professor this term who is into eating only local foods; she is brilliant/totally weird in a fascinating way, and I have learned a lot from her this semester about the food industry. In addition to what I already knew from reading Michael Pollan and Raj Patel on the subject.

Luckily with this CSA, the farmer grows the food and drives it into town, where it is picked up from a house fairly nearby me. Oftentimes you drive out to the farm to pick up the food, which wouldn't work for me for obvious reasons.

So yesterday afternoon Z and I trucked out on an unfamiliar bus route to pick up our share. It comes in a large box, but I left the box there and just filled the basket of the stroller, along with a canvas bag I brought and hung from the stroller's handles, with the food. When I bring the bike I will empty the box into the panniers. The veggies are glorious! Tiny sweet red and yellow peppers, radishes that taste nicely mild, nap choy (I think), daikon (had to ask what this was), butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and a pie pumpkin which is now roasting in my oven before becoming pumpkin soup. We also got real free range eggs, no more $6 grocery store eggs thank goodness!

So of course I am afraid that I am going to be a CSA loser, leaving things to rot in the fridge instead of cooking them. I already half froze the red leaf lettuce - apparently my fridge is too cold, so I've turned it down. I've already eaten the butter lettuce tho, and I'm feeling quite proud that I have the pumpkin in the works to be turned into something edible. Thankfully the vegetables look familiar and inspiring. Friends gave me their CSA share last week (different CSA), and I couldn't even identify some of the veggies - green tomato-like things with their own paper-like wrappers, and a knobbly small root vegetable were beyond me. With my own, the only real question mark was the daikon. Everything else I basically know what it is, and I am eager to try it all out, even the daikon.

Perhaps this whole CSA endeavour will even inspire my children to eat more veggies. Ahhh or maybe not. But I'm pretty excited about it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We have been carfree for three months now. Just over three months actually. We are pretty much just grooving along in the routine of it, I don't have much excitement to post right now. I have noticed some of my routines have changed, obviously, and there are some things I just don't do anymore. Like I haven't been to Costco for ages. I did get a friend to pick me up some frozen berries when he went, and it will soon be inexpensive car-renting season so we may share a car for a weekend and I may do Costco then. I want to say 'along with other things I need a car for' but I can't think what. Perhaps I will go to Value Village - I love thrift shopping, and that has been a frecuent haunt for me, although I now just go to Goodwill as it is walking/biking/bussing distance. I have gotten many good finds there.

I also feel like having the 'carfree' thing under my belt (so far, winter is still to come) has given me a certain confidence that I am not as tied down to the expectations of the dominant culture as I feared I may be. When I started thinking about how car-dependent I was, I felt really like I'd been duped, I'd bought in and now I was dependent. As I said I think in my first post ever on here, when I got my first car it wasn't intended as a lifelong decision. It was to get around in a rural area and to commute to the city for work. But when I moved to the city, I didn't break the addiction, and it turned into this apparently lifelong dependency. I heard as well that if you lose your insurance for a period of 6 months or more? you start again at a base level like a new driver. I need to investigate how true this is, because if there is validity to it, what a con. This provides a strong disincentive for experimenting with being carfree, because of course if we lack confidence that this can be a longterm decision (as I did/still do to some extent), it is harder to go back. I still pay insurance on my car, $22/month I believe, though I don't think it even covers fire and theft so I am not sure what exactly I am paying for. Perhaps the ability to go back, I should look into that.

Wow apparently I do have a lot to say today!

I do not know what exactly I will do with my car, and this has been nagging at me. It is old, and in semi-disrepair. Too good for the scrap yard, too crappy to feel good about selling. I will keep it at least through the winter until I get more confidence in this new lifestyle. I still fear January and February and fear I am going to wimp out. I did splurge on a down coat though, and the kids have warm snowsuits, so I'm not too sure exactly what I am afraid of. I think the level of permanency that would come with making it through the winter season. If I can do that, I don't need a car. And... yikes. It still feels somewhat temporary, though as the months go by it feels less so and that is so freeing as well as being a  bit scary.

I feel silly saying that I am scared still of being carfree... how lame. But there it is. Partly there is a weird social ostracization - the mothers at my daughter's school have been very curious about where is my car, what happened. I have explained the carfree thing and I can tell they think it's a cover for just simple poverty, that the car broke and I can't afford to fix it or something. Which is ostracizing because they have their vehicles and their salon hair, and if I am poor I am even less 'one of them.' I noticed the questions about my carfree status arose anew and with more sincerity when I showed up at the schoolyard with the shee-shee Valco stroller, and I believe it is because if I can afford that, and the Xtracycle, I must not be broke. So am I crazy? Or, what the hell is going on with me that we are no longer driving? These were the aims of the questioning. So interesting.