9/28/11

The other other meat

I read an article this week about entomophagy -- eating bugs. Apparently, 80% of the world's peoples eat insects, Western Europe and North America being the main holdouts. Bugs are nutritious -- full of protein and other essential nutrients. Bugs are versatile -- you can fry them in butter, you can grind them into flour, you can dip them in chocolate, you can make them into a BeeLT sandwich (really). Bugs are, according to sources in this article, delicious, reportedly tasting like shrimp (which are also bugs, only from the sea), chicken, bacon, or scrambled eggs. Bugs are, importantly, sustainable -- farming bugs results in a very small carbon footprint; they're already numerous; there are no worries about humane treatment because bugs like crowded conditions and filth.

Ironically, many countries where eating bugs has been the norm for centuries are now planting "Western" crops such as corn and wheat, which are arguably less nutritious and digestible than insects, and using pesticides to kill those insects. Some people in these countries are falling ill to new diseases; the bugs they used to eat provided protection against endemic bacteria, or nutrients that were otherwise lacking in the native diet.

The only problem with bugs is their size. Ounce for ounce, a grasshopper has more protein than beef or chicken. However, you'd have to eat one thousand grasshoppers to match the calories of a 12oz steak. (Can you imagine? I'd have to prepare four thousand grasshoppers for dinner. Or maybe my kids would only be able to eat 750 a piece.)

The article concluded that insects are the meat of the future. I am all for sustainability and certainly things need to be done to curb world hunger and whatnot. But I would be more than happy if this innovation in food doesn't come to pass until I'm dead and gone. I'd rather be a meal for worms than make a meal of worms.

9/19/11

On knot giving up


Yesterday I was working on a new crochet project (will show off when finished), but the skein of yarn I was using was a snarly mess. Every other stitch I was having to yank and pull and curse to get another couple of inches of yarn. I finally decided to unravel the skein from the other end and unknot it going backwards.

Hours later, I was still working on the stupid yarn. I ignored my children’s pleas of hunger and even forgot to get Mallory started on part of her Enormous School Project of Doom (due in April, luckily, not today). I was determined to unknot that yarn.

As I fought with it, I recalled another time in my life when I committed to a similarly Sisyphean task. When I was maybe eight or nine years old, I found a golf ball with a nicked cover in our yard. Before, it had never occurred to me to wonder what was under the outer cover of a golf ball, but seeing this damaged one made me curious. I picked at the opening – less than the size of a dime, probably – to try to peel it off completely. It was quite stuck. At this point I made it my life’s work to remove the cover of that golf ball.

I spent the better part of the weekend, as I recall, in a nook beside my grandparent’s carport (because I intuited that if anyone had seen what I was up to, they would have demanded, with reason, what the hell I was doing), gouging at the golf ball with the only tool I could find, which was, I believe, a very dull putty knife. It was tedious work, shoving the end of the tool under the flap, wiggling and wiggling until a bit more of the cover came loose. It gratified me to learn, after hours or toil, that apparently, a golf ball’s insides are composed mostly of rubber bands. I wiggled and wriggled and pulled and tugged. I eschewed riding my bike and swinging and climbing the weeping willow. I worked. Finally, the great moment came – I pulled off the last bit of white, and the first layer of rubber bands spontaneously unraveled with a very satisfying phffffp! I eagerly pulled off the bands, layer after layer, wondering if that was all there was. And then I found it, the tiny rubber bouncy ball in the center. It was orange and textured with stripey indentations from the rubber bands. It bounced nicely on the driveway, and against my bedroom wall. I kept that thing for years.

I applied this persistence to other, more worthwhile projects too. One Sunday I decided to make every single project in the Mickey Mouse Make-It Book. I made a Dumbo out of a straw and a piece of paper. I made a Captain Hook piggy bank out of a green bean can. I made a Goofy bouncy ball by wrapping a ball of foil with rubber bands (we didn’t have many rubber bands, so the ball didn’t bounce very well – certainly not as well as my golf ball center). Best of all, I made a Mickey Mouse puppet – two big circles for head and body, two slightly smaller circles for his ears, four small circles for his hands and feet, attached to the body with stapled rubber bands (which I had to rob from my Goofy ball). Then I taped quarters to his feet to make him hang properly. He was adorable and I was very proud. I brought him to school the next day and took him out to recess with me. A teacher’s aide asked to inspect Mickey and told me he was very nice. I skipped away to the swings, and when I turned back I saw the teacher’s aide talking to another teacher, pointing at me and smiling. I figured they were talking about how smart and clever and wonderful I was for making a Mickey Mouse puppet. They were probably saying, “Poor Krista, what a show-off, no wonder she has no friends.” (Kidding. I did have friends.)

I wonder what happened to my persevering spirit. It must have gone somewhere; if it hadn’t, perhaps I would have finished my PhD or written a novel by now. I’m not sure I can see signs of Persistence in my kids, either; I don’t think they’ve ever applied themselves quite so obsessively to anything. I wonder what’s worse – to have had perseverance and lost it, or to never have it at all?

I finally did give up on the skein of yarn. After all, I can buy another for less than two bucks. Its knots will continue to taunt me, though.

9/16/11

Even nicer than sugar and spice

The other night I was walking behind Phoebe as she rode her bike around the block. She learned the trick of standing up on the pedals to go faster. She shouted: "Mommy, I'm on fire!" And then clarified: "I'm on girl fire! Do you know what's in girl fire, Mommy?"

"No, what?" I asked.

"Sequins! And peace signs! And hearts! And flowers and lots and lots of PINK!"

9/14/11

It's Me!

I haven’t written in so long that I don’t know where to begin. That implies that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote, which isn’t true; in fact, very little has happened, which is partly why I haven’t written. It’s more that once you stop writing, it’s hard to get back in the habit.

So, today, a random collection of thoughts.

Girl Scouts has begun! After two meetings for each troop, I’ve come to the not-so-surprising conclusion that first graders are far more easily entertained than third and fourth graders.

Cold front coming Friday! It’s not even going to hit 65. This raises the clothing problem. I have summer clothes (which I am so sick of; if I have to wear one particular pair of black capri pants ever again I will scream) and I have sweaters; I have nothing in between.

Least favorite parts of the day: Loading and unloading the car. The backpacks! With their water bottles that always fall out! The lunchboxes! The bag of clothes to wear after school, the books for piano lessons, the assortment of toys we can never leave the house without, the stray pencils and ponytail holders and other detritus…it drives me crazy. Crazy!

I avoided most of the 9/11 remembrances and retrospectives and so forth this weekend. I did, however, while flipping channels, catch the video of the second plane swerving and crashing into the South Tower -- and I actually gasped and raised my hand to my mouth, as though I was surprised that it happened. It's still so shocking and horrible, ten years later.

Mallory has joined the band. She chose the xylophone, apparently based on the assumption that a percussion instrument would be less likely to transmit germs than a flute or a trumpet. She’s doing very well in piano so I think this was actually a good choice for her. Also, according to a friend of mine with a son in high school, girls who play percussion are considered very cool indeed.

Airplane tickets around Christmas time should be free. Yes, I know that would create no end of logistical problems. All four of us were supposed to go home for the holidays; now it looks like just Phoebe and I will be going home for a few days before the holidays. Mallory is also invited but can’t decide whether she wants to go or not. On the one hand, she hates flying. On the other hand, she loves Grandmom’s fruit salad. It’s a difficult choice.

The North Carolina General Assembly has voted to put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage the ballot next May. According to one fine politician, this is the most critical issue of our time – more important than jobs, or education, or hurricane cleanup. I am so disgusted by the whole thing I could spit. Here’s an idea: If you’re against gay marriage, don’t have one. Otherwise, leave people alone. Or: If you’re so worried about the sanctity of marriage, why not put a constitutional amendment banning divorce on the ballot? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The president is in town today; therefore, all the highways and byways around my office, which is near the airport, are closed down. I am in full support of our president and care about his safety, but to me this seems extreme. I guess I’ll stay in for lunch.

That is all.