Archive for January, 2008

Feeding and Needing

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It’s Monday everyone! (well, it was Monday when I started this, now it’s Wednesday already!) Hope you had a good weekend! My thoughts this morning are about physical and spiritual “feeding”. Saturday Steven and I took a drive to Ankeny, a town about 22 miles south of Ames and probably considered the ‘burbs of Des Moines. A lot of it looks like the typical concrete suburb, but this time we discovered a local pizza restaurant (the smart phone does it again!). When we turned off into a residential neighborhood, I thought we’d made a mistake, but sure enough, a few blocks later we saw a little neighborhood commercial area and the Leaning Tower of Pizza. http://www.ltpizza.com This is a fantastic place and you should check out their website, although really, the site doesn’t do it justice.

The place was small and packed with families who definitely have made this part of their weekend routine. We had a sausage, mushroom and sauerkraut pizza as well as the beer batter mozzarella cheese sticks with Italian dipping sauce that I thought was out of this world! (if my brother is reading this, yeah, I know, not exactly the heart healthy diet, but it WAS a nice, un-greasy thin crust pizza!) Everything had the taste of expertly homemade and according to the website, a lot of it IS made right there from their own recipes. The most interesting available pizza topping? CELERY!

On Sunday in our fellowship meeting, I had a different kind of feeding experience. Normally, when we “eat”, we expect to feel satisfied, but I was glad for the way that the spiritual bread Sunday made me feel more hungry. Maybe it’s like eating a plate of vegetables and saying, “wow, I need more of this!”

Both feeding experiences made me realize that there is so much out there that I am not experiencing. It’s so easy to get satisfied and somewhat stuck in our old routines and ways of thinking about things. It’s good when feeding leads to needing.

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Small Living

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I’m thinking about moving this year. While paying my rent for January I was talking about some of my options with my apartment manager. In our conversation, the size of my current efficiency apartment came up: around 300 square feet! I basically have a nice dorm room/bedroom with a small kitchen on the other side of a wall cut out and short hallway with a closet and bathroom at the end. Part of my strategy is to use the outdoor veranda (first photo above) as living space when the weather is nice.

One reason for choosing the efficiency is that I’ve felt like I want to live “more in my community”. In Indiana when I was doing some work in community development I ran into some good books about community space. In the past, and also in other cultures, people haven’t been so “into” having their own private little mansions. People had smaller houses, lived in apartments or with family, had flats, and spent a lot more time at the local pub or cafe, museums, public parks…they actually lived in their communities and consequently felt more responsible for the spaces they shared with their neighbors.

In Indiana I had a three bedroom house on 3/4 of an acre and frankly, often felt overwhelmed at the personal expense and responsibility of maintaining our “little mansion”. Now that my son is grown and I live alone, I’m exploring small space living. I do feel cramped in my efficiency and sometimes downright depressed, but I still think there is value in finding new ways to live small. Maybe some day I’ll wind up in something like I saw in Wired this morning! (second photo above)

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Iowa Caucus Night

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I caucused at a local elementary school on Jan. 3. Before entering the school I tried to take some photos of the surrounding area. I live in a mixed area of very nice houses, starter homes and college student apartments. The one photo I didn’t get was of the trailer park where some local Hispanic men appear to live. That may have been significant, considering what happened later. As I entered the school, I was struck by what a neighborhood event the caucus was. The parking lot was full, but many people also walked to the school and even brought their children along to observe. Four years ago when I caucused here, the school was packed with around 300 people attending. 2008 brought around 480 eligible caucus voters and you could tell it was going to be a hot night as soon as you entered the door and saw the line of people waiting to register as first time participants.

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Once everyone got into the gym it became clear that we wouldn’t all fit, at least for very long, and it would be impossible for anyone to move, and so the first surprise of the night was that all the Obama people were asked to move to the media center. Even though I was standing for Edwards, I was rather dismayed at the Obama people being singled out, but as they streamed out of the gym, it did become clear that they had more supporters than any one else. The second surprise – at the end of the first round, someone announced that Richardson only needed two more people in order to be viable..would anyone be willing to move to Richardson…and two people did! The horse trading continued and the Obama floor managers did come in and out to keep track of what was happening. As an Edwards supporter, I think I counted off as number 11 or 12 about four times until the final numbers settled down to the following: Obama 200 something, Edwards 102, Clinton 80 something and Richardson 80 something.

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Ringing in 2008

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These aren’t the greatest pictures, and no, John Edwards wasn’t blowing raspberries at me, I think he must have been saying “THank you for coming out on this cold night!” Living in Iowa, one can get swept up with the caucus hoopla, especially this year. Four years ago I went to my first caucus and was just amazed. What a sociological/psychological event! So….on the eve of the new year of 2008, I went north to Mason City, Iowa to see the candidate I plan to caucus for, John Edwards.

Steven had his trusty new smart phone so we googled the Edwards headquarters for an address of the new year’s eve stop, used google maps to refine our approach and pulled into downtown Mason City just behind the Edwards bus. The headquarters was already full with people spilling out onto the sidewalk, even in the wind and the the single digit temperatures. Cars started blocking in behind us and it was clear I’d never get a parking space before Edwards made his appearance, so I hopped out and Steven baby sat the car.

I managed to get a few pictures through the storefront glass. At first I didn’t think I would see anything, but then I realized he was right by the front of the room, and like any good communicator, he was making eye contact ALL around the room, including straight in my direction. I fancy he even saw me through the glass and smiled, although my slow shutter speed missed that and captured only the “th” part of thank you!

Why Edwards, you ask? I’m not sure really. As a supporter of sustainable agriculture and sustainable lifestyles, I feel that corporate excess is one of the worst threats to our society, and John gets that. Or maybe, I just feel that someone who has lost a son and responded by having more children, or who has survived his wife’s cancer diagnosis and responded by including her in his run for the presidency, is the kind of person I could trust as president of the United States. Today, someone has to have a positive enough outlook to be able to foresee a better future, so I am going with the hard working optimist.

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