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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Economy Fix

I hear we're going to get a nice check from the government. Who am I to turn down money? But this economic stimulus leaves me uneasy. What are we stimulating here? Increasingly, the US economy seems to be a Worm Ouroborous, eating its own tail. Like how? I mean that our economy is increasingly driven by a state of living beyond our means. We have to buy more stuff in order to keep the economy healthy and growing, but whose wages are keeping up with the increasing prices and the increasing number of 'necessities' we just 'have to have'? I read a statistic recently that the average credit card debt has doubled in the past four years. I'm assuming that this was probably because houses kept going up in price, so it was easy to think 'I'll pay it off when I sell my house'. You know, I don't see any way out of this tail-eating snake of a cycle we've gotten ourselves into. It's hard to change the way we grew up living. Our infrastructure, outside the inner urban areas, requires automobile transportation. Retail centers are here, residential neighborhoods are there, without local stores. Not stores local enough that granny can walk to it to buy the day's milk or tuna or a newspaper. We are expected to wear new clothes, drive a reasonably new car, own a nice house, pay for landscaping if you live in the 'burbs, own exercise equipment, expensive play goods, eat out a lot. A household needs two full time jobs to pay the mortgage, so now add child care costs, cleaning help, more eating out. Who has time to cook? I had to shop at a store in one of the new ...what I call 'recreational...malls'. These are lovely places, full of small shops and restaurants. Very pretty, too. You can buy drinks, snacks, and of course, all kinds of goods. It was jammed at 6 pm on a weeknight. This is the family fun outing, I noticed as I wandered along the sidewalk, looking at shoppers. We've created a social culture of recreational buying, at least for the middle classes. This certainly isn't new, it's pretty darned entrenched. I guess that's what worries me. Like an ocean liner, this sort of lifestyle expectation is not going to stop and turn around any time soon. I hope we don't hit an iceberg. Meanwhile, I'm not going to send my check back when I get it. I'm not sure I'll make the government happy with what I do with it.

Oh yeah...doing my part for local food. The Oregonian's Food Day had a nice write up of winter farmers' markets. A few are still open. This freeze has limited what's going to come in fresh from the field for awhile, but the kales, chard, collards, root veggies, and Brussels sprouts are tough and they made it. Want a treat? Hardly a diet item, but gratin leeks are wonderful when you can buy fresh leeks.

Cut just the root off the bottom of the leek and trim back the tough outer green leaves so you have white and pale green only.
Cut them lengthwise and rinse out any grit from the inner layers.
Lay them side by side, cut side down or on their sides if you have too many, in a shallow pan
Pour about a cup of heavy cream (told you this wasn't diet food) over them.
Salt lightly and add as much fresh ground black pepper as you like.
Bake at 325 until the cream is thick and mostly absorbed the the leaks. From time to time, I baste them with the cream in the pan and kind of push the leeks down into it. It should take from 30 - 45 minutes depending on how much you're doing. Keep an eye on 'em.
If you haven't met leeks before, this is a great way to get acquainted.



Blogger Cher'ley said...

Hi Mary,
I'm with you. I miss the good ole days even though they seemed pretty modern at that time. I think I was even born too late.

My husband and granddaughter (10) went Christmas shopping. He called to ask me about where he should look for a certain item. I told him not to ask me, he had the shopping expert with him. When he came home he said I was right, Rachel knew what store carried what item and just where to look for the item after they got in the store.

I'm really concerned about the economy. I believe I'll be okay during my life-span, but I sure worry for my kids and grandkids.

I liked the cooking lesson too. Thanks.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Carole said...

Hi Mary! I liked the cooking lesson as well. I love leeks any way I can get them but your recipe is new. Thanks!

1:52 PM  
Blogger John W. S. Marvin said...

Three months later, the Ponsi scheme economy grows sicker. Who knew an economy based on Americans selling houses to each other funded by borrowing money from China wouldn't last forever?

And it's not just our country, the entire world (OK, not North Korea) depends on consumer spending.

As the developing world joins us in consumerism (just try to tell a family they were better off before they had a refrigerator), we get to destroy resources at an increasing rate.

The big trick will be getting humanity to find and use a sustainable economic model that provides a high quality of life. Don't ask me how. :)

7:33 PM  

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