Category Archives: Things that Make You Go “Hmm …”

On Feeding Our Neighbors

 

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If there is one thing that astounds me living in America, it’s that people go hungry, and that very few people seem to care. Did you know that 30 percent of all food ($48.3 billion worth) is thrown away each year in the United States?

All the farms, the supermarkets, the corner stores, the farmers’ markets, the restaurants and cafeterias, the dinner tables. One third of all that food is wasted. We are just not very good at getting it into the hands of people who need it.

A month or so ago, I started researching food pantries in my neighborhood to see if I could volunteer. I found only one in our area, an incorporated city of 50,000 people on the north-east outskirts of San Diego. Statistics say that one in six people in San Diego County do not have a stable food supply. By rough estimate, that means our neighborhood has one food pantry distributing groceries once a month, trying to meet the needs of a potential 9,000 people who might need it.

A few days later, I happened to be in my local Starbucks and saw an event poster for a day of service at Feeding America San Diego (FASD). So I signed up.

Quick Facts About Feeding America San Diego:

  • They distribute 23 million pounds of food annually in San Diego, serving 73,000 children, families and seniors each week.
  • FASD’s Farm2Kids, BackPack and School Pantry programs give kids basic food items plus three to five pounds of fresh produce to take home each week.
  • Their mobile pantries reach under-served communities, and FASD partners with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across San Diego county.
  • Every dollar donated to FASD results in six meals. SIX!

Two Saturdays ago, Tau and I joined around 600 volunteers, mostly Starbucks employees, at FASD’s Mira Mesa warehouse. We worked on a team that sorted green apples, boxing them up for distribution. Our group also stripped the slightly moldy outer leaves off about 300 heads of cabbage and crated those too. Other teams stuffed backpacks, labeled cans and measured out family-sized packets of breakfast cereal from the mega packs that FASD purchases with donated funds.

Tau cleaning cabbages

During the three two-hour shifts organized for that day, volunteers prepared the equivalent of 31,280 meals, which will be delivered to our community. This organization is making a dent in hunger in our city, and I will definitely be volunteering again.

As for my kid, he learned in a very real way that not all children know where their next meal is coming from. He learned that food needs to be tediously hand sorted and distributed for people to eat. And he learned that both green apples (his favorite fruit) and cabbage (which he had successfully avoided up to that point) were key to our neighbors not going hungry.

God’s joke on us? That evening we got home to a meal prepared by Dave — a sumptuous one-pot pork dish with green apples and sauerkraut!

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One Community: January!

 

I’m not even going to try to limit myself to four photos for this month’s One Community roundup! We spent Christmas and New Year in Canada with Dave’s extended family, and the pictures are just too rich to not share!

Treasure. The heart of our visits to Victoria, BC, is always the opportunity for our boys to get to know their grandparents and older cousins, and spend time playing with their younger cousins. Tau asks about Kai (9) and Tait (6) often and opportunities to see them are rare. So when they do get together, it makes for rich little-dude photo ops like these:

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Cosy pub lunch after watching Kai’s ice-hockey game

Kai loves his baby cousin

Kai adores his baby cousin

Christmas cousins

Christmas cuzzies

Silver.  We were lucky enough to have two big feasts! One on Christmas day and a second a few days later when our oldest niece Kendra and her fiance Zack flew in from Australia where they live. 

At the first dinner, Dave’s sister Trisha placed a handmade cracker on each plate. Inside? A small gift for that person—holiday perfection.

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What this picture doesn’t show is the certifiable CRAZY that defines Walsh get togethers. Twenty-five of us crammed into a home designed for four people, climbing over each other to move from room to room, hunting down your misplaced wine or beer glass, washing and drying dishes in between courses, straining to converse with an aunt or nephew that you haven’t seen in a year over the shouting din. The kids’ table looked like this at the first meal. Not exactly off the pages of Martha Stewart. Right after this, Maceo spilled someone’s juice all over that table.

Just a few of the kids!

Just a few of the kids!

Resolution. There is little room for me-time or reflection on our trips North. I did get out for a nice long walk around our old neighborhood of Oak Bay on Old Year’s Eve though.

Dave and I lived in Victoria for 12 years before moving to San Diego. We married there and put each other through college there. It’s the place where we forged our partnership, struggled to make ends meet, and aspired to live somewhere else. So, returning is bittersweet. Around every corner in this town shrouded in winter is a memory, a feeling, a sense—each one particular and loaded with emotion.

So my walk around the bay, up through the golf course, and back past our old apartment was poignant as I closed out 2013 and looked forward to the new year. Surrounded by our old community, I was very aware of the choices we made twelve years ago to go do something different, and the many blessings we have experienced doing so.

These days, as a working, older mom of small boys, I am beyond torturing myself with New Year’s resolutions. Looking into 2014 is more about focusing on gentle intensions. On small actions that I can give priority, that will lead me to be healthier and more capable. That is all.

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Garden gate, Victoria, BC

Winter. We were fortunate to have moderate weather during our visit. Four years ago, we were in Victoria for Christmas and the cold was bitter! This year we packed warmer clothes, fleecy PJs and slippers, a hot water bottle and heating pad. And it made all the difference.

We are spoiled by San Diego winters—the sunshine, the balmy temperatures, the outdoor opportunities. Winter in Victoria reminded me that our sunshine and longer days are like gold!

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

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Happy New Year, friends!

See you next month!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

Yarmulke Deja Vu



I turned around the other day in the kitchen to see this:

Hmn … where have I seen Tupperware Yarmulke Baby before?

Oh right! Same kitchen, different baby!


Beef Boerie, Stywe Pap and Hummingbirds, Oh My!

With kids and summer camp and vacation and work travel, it’s easy for the grown-up birthdays in our home to go unmarked.

And so for Dave’s birthday, I invited some close friends round for dinner and decided to do a South-African braai — something we never do.

Our local supplier of all things South African provided the wors and the pap, and the good people of the Internets provided the wisdom:

Rather sad that I’ve been out of South Africa so long that I need directions on cooking mielie meal and making bredie!

We enjoyed Dave’s birthday out under the stars, with a bottle of sparkling wine to toast him, followed by something from our German vino stash. And a good time was had by all. 

Martin Loofah King Jr


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

– Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

Last week, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr day here in the US.

Now that Tau is in first grade, he is doing proper social studies curriculum, and came home with various projects on the theme of Martin “Loofah” King. Yes, we are still not bothering much to say our tee-aches!

I guess I didn’t give Tau enough credit. Didn’t expect him to grasp US history and race relations at such a tender age.

But all we needed to ask was, “Who was Martin Luther King?” And we got a very earnest account of how the people with white skin used to not allow the people with dark skin to eat in the restaurants or ride in the front of the buses. “And they all said, ‘You GO TO THE BACK of the bus!'”

And how Dr. Martin Luther King said that was not right and he made it change, so that everyone could sit anywhere they wanted on the bus.

Dave posed this question. “So, if we lived back then, Tau, and we went to Chicken Pie Diner for dinner with your brother, would they let us in?”

“You and me and Mom could go in … but Maceo would have to stay outside.”

“How do you think that would make him feel?”

“He would just cry and cry in his carseat outside … because he doesn’t like to be left alone.”

Now, it hits home.

In Case He Raises This in Therapy One Day: A Picture As Proof



“Tau, those shoes of yours that are broken?”

“Yup …”

“The ones with the little lights that are poking out the bottoms … I put them in the garbage, OK?”

“Got it …” A few seconds later: “Maybe we can just put tape on them.”

“No, we cannot put tape on them. The electric wires and bulbs are poking out. They are done.”

“Maybe we can just put tape over more tape.”

“No. Trust me, they are DONE.”

Basket Case

All kinds of mischief, captured in a couple seconds on my iPhone!