Monday, January 28, 2008

The Hungry Planet

I want to share with you a book that made a very strong impact on me recently. That book is the "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio.

The Hungry Planet would probably be classified as a coffee table book because of its large format and heavy use of photographs, but this book is too significant for that category. It is a study of how people live, eat and interact through food. Menzel and D'Aluisio traveled the world over taking photographs of a typical family with an average week's worth of their groceries. The phots are also of the family eating, shopping and cooking food.The couple traveled to all the continents except Antarctica. Accompanying the pictures are first-hand accounts of what it was like for the couple to live, eat and be with these families.

For each family, there is a list of its weekly groceries and what they cost, as well as family recipes and stats on the country.

Food, I learned is a huge part of many families' daily habits. It also acts as an important way to compare what different countries have for resources and how wealthy people in each country are. It's truly amazing what some people can subsist on in a refuge camp in Chad or in tiny Ecuador.

I am appreciative for what this book has done in my own life. Now, when I go to the grocery store, I am so thankful for the low prices we pay compared to most of the world. I am also so thankful for the variety of fresh ingredients and the amount of meat we can eat and afford. What I am also now strongly aware of is how little fresh produce and unprocessed food I eat. As I watch my groceries glide down the conveyor belt, I am dismayed and bit embarrassed that I don't eat more fresh vegetables and fruit.

I think it's important to be aware of what we eat and thankful for what we can eat. Hungry Planet really struck home about how important my diet and lifestyle is to me and how thankful I am for it.

Quote about Hungry Planet
"While the photos are extraordinary-fine enough for a stand alone volume-it's the questions these photos ask that make this so gripping. This is a beautiful, quietly provocative volume."
--Publisher's Weekly

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A celebration: 35 years together

This weekend my parents, Don and Jeanette, will mark 35 years of having been married. Last weekend, 30 friends and family members gathered together to celebrate my parents' love, respect and support for each other. My mom and I planned a renewal of wedding vows ceremony with the help of our minister. We also planned a reception to follow at Spinnaker's restaurant.

During the ceremony, I spoke about what my parents' marriage means to me. Here are my notes:

When I look at my parents, I see a love that is not measurable. I see a love so strong it could stand up to the test of time. I have seen their love endure draught and flood….cold and heat.
Yes, even on days colder than today.

Or in the case of the day they met on chilly day June, 11 1972

Picture this….my mother sitting on the front stairs of her house in Cudahy contemplating about whether to go to Joan Michalets’ high school graduation. Not knowing Joan well, my mother was hesitant about going. What to do? So, she consulted her horoscope books.
The prediction…that she would find love.
My mom wondered who she could possibly meet? Joan’s cousin, perhaps?

Well, my mom did meet Joan’s cousin…my dad who approached her at the party wearing tight purple jeans and a purple sweater?
At this point in the story, I must interject. I give my mom a lot of credit for giving my dad the time of day in his purple sweater and jeans, even if it was a cold day.

My dad helped my mom with the buffet line. He was the perfect gentleman and complimented her on green eye shadow. He further surprised her with his musical interests, which ranged from hard rock to the gentle Andy Williams.

Later, my mom recounted that she questioned if this man was for real. Maybe it was dad’s Mustang Mach One that he took her home in, his gentleman-like ways or the horoscope books. But the two quickly became a couple, going for bike rides to Dairy Queen, visiting Devil’s Lake and going to concerts.

The past 35 years have had rough points. Where many couples may have fractured and called it quits, my parents have supported each other through the high points and the low points. And the high points are too many to list.
Just a short list of some of their shared activities:
*Honeymoon in Montreal and Quebec City
* Trip to California with the whole Michalets clan across the desert to see Ellen (wish that I could have gone too)
* Many trips to the Canadian Grand Priz, to Great-Grandma’s house, to Cape Cod, Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Fest
*Members of the Porsche Club and bowling teams (a must in the early 1980s)
*proud parents of many dogs: Bobby, Fozzy, Bosco, Biscuits and Jazzy and even more parakeets
* owned a bed and breakfast for 5 years in Vermont
* Vacations spent with Grandma and Grandpa at Devil’s Lake
* the restoration of several old homes (an activity that can break or make a couple)
* Active members of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
* creating so many wonderful Christmas memories
* two books and numerous magazine stories
* Making the most of each day given to them as a couple and a family

The love they share and their commitment to each other has greatly shaped who I have become and how I treat others. I only pray that one day I may have what they have. I thank God every day for blessing me with two loving, supportive parents who will be there for me no matter. I also thank him for bringing my parents together. May today be the start of another wonderful, blessed 35 years of marriage. Congratulations!

Mom, me and Dad

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. "
-- 1 Corinthians 13 4-8

Monday, January 14, 2008

Perspective on Chicago

I went to Chicago this past weekend for a three day getaway. Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Despite the cold, I was able to see some of my favorite spots: Chinatown, Millenium Park and the skyline. The Jelly Bean pictured above has really grown on me over the years. At first, I found it very unimpressive. When I saw it early Saturday morning, there were few people around it and I felt like I truly was able to enjoy it's reflection of the city skyline.
My favorite Chicago place used to be the Art Institute (which I visited on Saturday) but now my favorite spot is Chinatown. I always enjoy myself when I am there. The restaurants are really good and fairly inexpensive, it feels pretty noncommercial and there are always fun things to buy. I was impressed by how many small figurines and knick-knacks one store owner was able to display in her window.
I wish that my time in Chicago would have gone slower and lasted longer. Alas, it is Monday and I am facing a double whammy-Monday blues and day after vacation. Needless to say, I am not in a super upbeat mood today.
"What one loves in childhood stays in the heart forever."
--Mary Jo Putney

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Snowy World

These photos were all taken last weekend after we had one of the most beautiful snow falls that I have ever seen. The snow was havy and wet, so it clung to the trees for days. I loved being able to walk across the street to take these pictures. The little trout stream is so scenic during all the seasons, but it is especially lovely with the snow clinging to the branches that stretch over it.
"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."
--Alice Murdoch
"It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones."
--Jean Webster

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, New Possilbilites, New Blog Posting

It's a new year with a promise to blog more often. I apologize for my absence from my blog in recent weeks. I blame the holidays and the rush involved there, but that is not a good enough excuse. So, I start fresh today on January 1 with a new entry and a new outlook on life.

2007 was a year of change, challenges and adjustments for me. I started my career as a journalist at the Oconomowoc Enterprise and soon moved up to the Waukesha Freeman. The pace of my work life changed drastically as I began to work second shift and had tighter deadlines, more pressure and so much to learn. I must admit, the final months of 2007 brought with them a lot of stress. It was a lot harder for me to adjust to second shift than I would have thought and a lot harder to balance work and relaxation. I feel that I am starting to finally get a handle on how to make the most of my time before work. I am better able to relax and get things done. That's a huge relief for me.

There were other areas of my life that were not where I wanted them to be in 2007, but I feel optimistic about the future. I don't think I have ever been so happy for a new year to begin. It began with Christmas and a feeling of renewal and rebirth for me as I celebrated that holiday, which is very special to me . During the Christmas season, I spend quality time with family and friends and get to show them how much I care, while also celebrating and recognizing the birth of Jesus. It's a very important week of my life and I was able to enjoy it and find meaning in the holiday season even as I was stressed at work and trying to get gifts bought and wrapped.

I look forward to 2008 with hope. I feel like I am walking from a beautiful, yet dark wooded forest into a meadow where the sun is shining and I can hear the birds singing. This may seem overly dramatic, but it's pretty accurate. I feel confident that no matter what comes my way I will have the strength and courage to handle it. I also feel strongly that I will be able find balance in my life and will be happier again.

2008 may have been one of the years I gained the most on a personal level and was able to learn more about myself and my capabilities.

I hope that 2008 holds promise of wonderful possibilities for all those who read this blog and for those who don't. May 2008 bring you much happiness, success, good health and positive energy.


"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

--Albert Camus