Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sensory Overload--Culture Shock

This morning I read a blog that was forwarded to a listserv I haunt from time to time. As I read the words, I was struck by the eerie similarity I felt at the supermarket the other day.
It's only been a couple of years since I stopped going to the big city for most of my groceries and started frequenting the Mom-n-Pop grocery store in my Tinytown.  As I have progressed in my journey from processed food dining to homemade cuisine, I have relied less and less often on cans of this or packets of that. So, you might be able to imagine my surprise when I'm used to this sort of thing:
Just a public domain picture.  I don't go to this store.


 And I walked into this sort of thing:
Another public domain pic.  Although it looks sorta familiar.

It never occurred to me that I might feel any kind of sensory overload.  But having come from my small town ways to the big city, the difference slapped me rather smartly across the face. I almost turned around and walked back out the door.  I felt a little...blurry and overwhelmed.

Yep, public domain.  I haven't yet figured out how to make my camera do this.

I mean, look at all those colors!  Imagine shelves from the floor to well over the top of my head full of every sort of variation on endless themes of products all aimed at me, the consumer.  Just look at it:
It amazes me what you can find when you Google 'public domain supermarket images.'
And there are aisles and aisles of it.  It boggles the mind.  It was almost nightmarish and more than a little off-putting.  But I pulled up my socks and grabbed a little plastic shopping basket and set off with list in hand.
My list was short.  Coffee, creamer, bread, yogurt, a nice piece of codfish and salad fixings.  At my little hometown store, it takes me roughly seven minutes to get that list in the bag and out the door. Another two or three minutes and I'm in my kitchen cooking fish and cutting salad.

It took me seven minutes just to find the coffee, another four to find the dairy department because I got turned around in all those aisles of processed food.  After only one minute, I found the fish because it was right next to the dairy.  Fortunately, the bakery was between the fish and the salad.  Luckily, I found the checkout at the end of the produce aisle or I might still be wandering around in there.

Getting through the checkout was another thing altogether.

It's really interesting to me the differences in the world and what I am capable of getting used to.  When I moved to the small town, I held firmly onto the supermarkets and shopping centers to which I was accustomed.  I let go of them one finger at a time afraid of losing my convenient lifestyle and the comfort of the known world.

These days, I fight the urge to shove it all away with both hands while screaming IDON'TWANNA! 
Yeah.  I'm mature like that.

Friday, January 3, 2014


After having the last couple of weeks off my paying job (staycations are AWESOME), I spent a little time today looking ahead at next week and the next couple months.

Looks cold.  Really cold.

But I know that on the heels of that cold is spring.  The mere notion of the warm sun heating the soil inspires outrageous daydreams of idyllic garden scenes and the profusion of produce that will come from my efforts.  It rarely ever goes as well as I hope but it is almost always better than I expect.

No, I'll save reality for another day when the sun is shining, the breezes are balmy, and my favorite trowel is digging deeply into the ground.  For now, my time will be spent daydreaming about in quiet contemplation of what is possible rather than what is probable. Just like gardeners across the world, I peruse the annual allotment of seed and plant catalogs while the cold winds of winter are blowing.  After leafing repeatedly through the dozen or so that have arrived already for next season,  I've nearly settled on my seed list for this year:

Basil--I saved seeds from last summer.  It's a Genovese type for pesto and sauce.

Snap peas--I like Sugar Ann.

Onions--any color or type.  They all wind up about 2 inches across anyway.  I'm trying to grow from seed this year.  I'll buy sets anyway.

Brussels sprouts--After my less than stellar results last year, I am inspired to try again.  The tiny sprouts were AMAZING.  I will never look at brussels sprouts the same way again.


Peppers both sweet and firey--Serranos are high on the list this year.  I also want to try ghost peppers although it will be just for fun.  Not sure I can handle the heat on those.  I have a friend who will LOVE them.

Potatoes--Yes.  Potatoes. Even though last year's rotted in the soil, I'm going to try again.  I've grown them before and they are definitely worth the effort.

Tomatillos--I know, I know.  I grew a crazy a bumper crop last year.  But one thing I noticed is no one at the farmer's market had them.  I think I might be able to sell them and make back some of the money spent on the garden this year.  Or maybe even trade for other goodies.

Mint--I may not have a choice in the matter.  I grew four kinds last year.  It may be back on its own. I hear it's famous for that.

Garlic--Already in the ground!  I've never fall planted garlic before.  We shall see how that goes.  I've noticed as I poke through the garden on warmer days that the garlic sprouts are green and lovely in spite of the cold.

Additionally, I want a small stand of corn, assorted squashes (zucchini will be required because I found the best muffin recipe),  melons (Moon & Stars hopefully), eggplant, pole beans, and some others that have slipped my mind but are written down.  In a notebook.  In the other room.  Clear over there.

So lazy.

Much of this plan is contingent upon getting a couple more raised beds ready to go by late spring for the last of the planting.  I am hopeful. 

Oh, and there's the greenhouse to get going.  I can't wait to see how that works out.

Meanwhile, I have seed catalogs to wear out.  Life is good.