Thursday, July 31, 2014

In the mail...

I got not one but two pieces of actual mail yesterday ---- ie. not a catalog, bill or piece of junk.   One was a *handwritten* note from my niece.  She's 5 and going into Kindergarten.   Seeing those perfectly imperfect letters just warmed my heart because I could feel how proud she must have been --- that beauty is a keeper and went right up on my desk wall.   Also, an out of state friend sent me an article she thought I would like (and she was right!)  It was accompanied by a perfectly random, rambling, handwritten note.   It made me laugh and who can't use more laughs.

Note to self ---- send more mail.  It's such an easy way to brighten someone's day!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A fight for what's right

The Market Basket feud has really caught my attention.  Lately, I rarely turn on the television and what I do watch is an on-demand show at the end of a long day.  I have virtually zero interest in channel surfing or tuning in to local or even cable news.  It seems so sadly skewed.  They replay the same stories, with very little investigative reporting and the stories they do cover have very little depth beyond an eye-catching headline.  

But this Market Basket story really intrigues me.  If you are not from the area, Market Basket is an enormous chain of grocery stores with yearly revenues of more than $4.6 B.  A quick google search will give you more facts about the story if you're interested. 

But the reason for my post is beyond the personal family feud or employee protests.  What's happening at Market Basket is worth taking note.   The newly ousted CEO, is loved by his employees.  He treats them fairly and generously.  When you're shopping, the associates name badges say how long they've worked there --- it is not uncommon to see badges say 8 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years.  The reason is because Market Basket has made itself an employer that people want to work for.  They offer generous benefits packages, profit sharing, vacation time and upward mobility ---- all while maintaining tremendous profitability.   It is a case study that disproves the modern thinking that to provide cheap and competitive products, an employer needs to provide bare-basics to its people.   Managed correctly, a corporation can have its cake and eat it too.  They can make huge profits, be an industry leader AND be generous toward the people that do their part to make it the success that it is. 

You could also argue that Market Basket treated its consumers fairly.  It didn't price gauge.  It kept prices among the lowest I've ever seen, lower than any grocer and even lower than Walmart and Target.  It didn't up-charge simply because it could. 

The fairness to both his employees and his customers, has brought forth this huge backlash.  Not only have employees gone on strike since the CEO was fired, the customers have boycotted as well.  This is a real example of the power of people.   Our spending dollars can make an impact.  Our choices as consumers can direct the decisions of the Board.   

I'll continue to follow this story with a peaked interest both as a customer who misses my low priced, clean, efficient grocer and a student of ethics and economics, who continues to be optimistic that what's good for people and what's good for economies do not have to be mutually exclusive.  

Monday, July 28, 2014


Last week was draining.  I felt tired and uninspired for most of it....  but I knew it would pass and sure enough, a relaxing weekend with just enough visits to friends, visits with family and some good old fashioned card playing with my guys has got me back in the swing of things.   I started the day with a healthy breakfast, an office fridge full of healthy lunch and snack options and I'm ready for it.   Looking to make this a productive and full week of goodness.   Cheers, Monday.


Friday, July 25, 2014

It is only Love

There are days like today that I have a hard time quieting my mind.  Gratefully, the thoughts are benign, but they race and multiply and feed off each other and I could just say a million things about a million topics.  So, I'm doing this late Friday afternoon post as a way to possibly clear my mind.  

Andrew Solomon, who I talked about earlier this week, said the following in his response to people's criticism of his unconventional family (note: he is a gay man who has fathered children for a lesbian couple and one of those women was the surrogate for the son he and his partner have):
And there are people who think that the existence of my family somehow undermines or weakens or damages their family. And there are people who think that families like mine shouldn't be allowed to exist. And I don't accept subtractive models of love, only additive ones. And I believe that in the same way that we need species diversity to ensure that the planet can go on, so we need this diversity of affection and diversity of family in order to strengthen the ecosphere of kindness.

Similarly, Elizabeth Lessor quotes Mother Theresa in a chapter of Broken Open when she says, "The problem with the world is we draw the circle of our family too small."

And so it is.  It really always is.  We have a choice between love and fear.  Fear manifests itself in anger, hostility, sadness, resentment, rage, but it is all but one feeling.  Love, on the other hand, is acceptance, peace, light....  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I learned: How the Worst Moments Make Us Who We are

Andrew Solomon has given two of the best TED talks I've yet to hear.  The man is incredibly brilliant and an equally compelling story teller.

In a talk I listed to last night, "How the Worst Moments Make Us Who We Are" - he had, as usual, some incredible tidbits of wisdom and an approach that is both creative and informative.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:
"As a gay father, I can teach them to own what is wrong in their lives, but I believe that if I succeed in sheltering them from adversity, I will have failed as a parent."

"A Buddhist scholar I know once explained to me that Westerners mistakenly think that nirvana is what arrives when all your woe is behind you and you have only bliss to look forward to. But he said that would not be nirvana, because your bliss in the presentwould always be shadowed by the joy from the past. Nirvana, he said, is what you arrive at when you have only bliss to look forward to and find in what looked like sorrows the seedlings of your joy."

"We don't seek the painful experiences that hew our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences. We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it's purposeful. Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle. We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning."Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities," St. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians, "for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

20 months

Today you turn 20 months.  Definitely not a baby anymore and most definitely a bubbly, happy toddler.  As you have since day 1, you amaze me every moment.  Your gentle nature, your desire to make those around you happy, your cuddly spirit.   None of that has changed and I hope it never does.

The connections that go off in your brain these days continue to amaze us.  Your vocabulary grows larger with words like banana, bus, truck, bubbles, duck...   Your favorite activity is reading your books about cars and trucks or playing with your cars and trucks.  It's all about transportation these days! You'll point to trucks on the street, you'll roll your truck along the floor or table or any surface you can find.

As you grow up before our eyes, I try to hold on to each day and all the goodness it brings knowing that busy as it, one day I will long for these early morning hugs and evening lullabies.   Sweet, kind Joseph.  Thank you for blessing us today and every day these past 20 months.  There is nothing better.

(this picture of you cracks me up!  Thank you for being perfectly you, Baby J)

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Summer seems to always move in an extra fast pace.  The weekends have been filled up with visitors and entertaining and more visitors.   I won't lie that a part of me is already ready for the cooler temps of September and the slower pace of life that the fall brings.  It's, without doubt, my favorite time of the year.  But for now, summer is what we have and it's not a bad place to be if I can just surrender to the busyness of it all.

We've been taking full advantage - going to outdoor concerts, grilling, fruit galore, playing cards after dinner - trying to be present in the season.  Like everything else, it's temporary and the long, cold dark days of winter will be here.   But I can't help but wonder what happened to the lazy, slow, days of summer?  When did the slowly dripping ice cream cone give way to a pace of legitimate hustle.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smoked Gouda

In an effort to make more lunches and save money and calories, I've been bringing some simple but tasty lunches to work.  Some days I bring a cooked sweet potato, some days leftovers from dinner and others (though less frequently) a salad.

Last night I was prepping some quinoa to bring in.  I wanted to cook it in a veggie stock - so I added some carrots, pepper and celery to my sautéed onion and garlic mix.   Worried that the flavor would still be too bland, I added a leftover chunk of smoked gouda I had from a party.  Amazing.  The entire broth filled with a perfectly smoky, salty flavor without adding bacon or pancetta (which in my experience hasn't worked nearly as well not to mention how much less healthy...)    I added a cup of quinoa and some cannelloni beans and voila - lunch.  Easy, healthy, cheap and tasty.

I'll definitely be remembering to try it in more recipes too --- the flavor profile is fantastic.


Monday, July 14, 2014


In my younger years, I sometimes felt a compulsion to explain myself, or suggest to someone a better way or wonder about their way of doing it.  It wasn't from a place of malice, in fact - quite the contrary.  I wanted to help or show a shorter and possibly more efficient way.

But these days, I'm letting go of that.   I have learned, I think through the tiring journey of parenting, to save my resources.  Not everything or everyone needs my full attention, my 100%.  Of course, not everyone wants my opinion on things either.

It's helped.  I feel less exhausted and less distracted.  I feel more centered and less affected.   Not to say I will watch someone make an obvious mistake, but sometimes not feeling a compulsion to help or make it better or prevent a fall is the best thing for everyone.   I try to be honest and tell people what I'm doing and if they care to know, I'll tell them why I'm doing it that way, but I no longer feel a need to justify myself or convince them to try it themselves.   Maybe it will be better for them, or perhaps it wouldn't.  Either way - as CS Lewis has said, "Experience - the most brutal of teachers but you'll learn, my God, you'll learn."   Most often, people have to see it themselves anyways.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Catching up...

So much has been going on that it's been distracting me from posting here.  It's like - I've got so much to say, it's easier to just not say anything!  But I appreciate the practice of keeping up with this space, so I'm just starting where I am and what I feel like talking about....

Omnivore's Dilemma - I'm about to finish it and   You guys, it's so good, I am enjoying every second of it.   I highly recommend it if you are curious about food, culture, anthropology, sustainability, or simply just smart, well researched interesting writing.   It's one of those books that I don't want to end.