"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Rant, Rare Moments of Bliss, and Book Updates

It's Monday. I've decided to cover the broad spectrum today.

First off, a rant on my part. It's rare I take a stand on much in the world, and if I do, it's normally in the privacy of my home with only my husband to listen. But when chemicals get added to milk products endangering babies lives, it infuriates me. Honestly, how can people do this and live with themselves? This is such a criminal act it astounds me, making me want to boycott everything coming out of China (which I know isn't the right answer either).
Which when it comes right down to it is a near impossible task.

I'm learning to be a smarter consumer. I'm checking labels on every food item I pick up, checking where it is manufactured. And what annoys me even further is when labels do not contain this information. They have something cryptic like "Distributed in Ohio" or something printed on them. I don't want to know where something is distributed. I want to know where it is made. And if it's not printed on the label, then my mind begins to only assume one thing.

But if I go even deeper (and trust me, this doesn't happen very often), we have to look at our society as a whole for part of the blame. We've become a society of excess, needing to buy cheap plastic toys which break within 5 minutes to stuff in goodie bags, buy plastic princesses to top birthday cakes, knowing they'll be pitched in the garbage as soon as they're taken off. It's actually a bit sickening when you stop and think about it. We drive this need for excess and because we throw so much away, we want it to be inexpensive.

OK, enough on that, before I get too annoyed. But please tell me, does anyone agree?

On to rare moments of bliss...
In the past couple weeks I've had 2 moments where I've felt like I've almost become one with nature. Once on the drive back from Oklahoma when I stopped to fill up the car. I looked out over the flat Texas landscape into the setting sun and was overcome with such a feeling of bliss and beauty and joy it brought tears to my eyes.
And then again, while sitting outside my daughter's dance class, reading a book, I looked up across a parking lot to a tree filled with birds singing again in the setting sun.
It's such a beautiful world we live in. I love my family, but find when I'm truly alone, I'm able to appreciate the beauty of our world around me so much better. When worries are lifted from my mind and responsibilities are off taking a hiatus.

Did anyone really think I could be so deep?

To finish the post off, I finished reading The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie. I loved this book. Didn't want to put it down. I highly recommend it (for whatever that's worth).

I also finished Feed by M. T. Anderson. This was different. It's the best word I can use. It made me think and has been doing so since I read it. It's a unique enough book I recommend reading it and it certainly is discussion worthy. Beth K., I'll email you more offline.


TJ Brown said...

Yeah. I so agree. The amount of money we spend on crap is amazing.

PJ Hoover said...

It's horrifying, Teri. Especially knowing it all gets thrown away.
Thanks for visiting!

Tabitha said...

China...so disgusted I'm not even gonna go there.

I'm with ya on the things we throw away. I try to be less disposable, and teach my kids that we don't unnecessarily waste things. They're still too young to get it, but I figure that if I keep saying it and showing them how to be resourceful, it'll sink in. :)

I haven't read The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine, so I will have to put it on my list. And I had the same reaction to Feed. It really made me think. A lot. About a variety of things. It took a long time for me to be able to say that I loved it, because all those thoughts had to sink in. :)

PJ Hoover said...

I know, Tabitha, on the China thing. I'm checking everything. On the positive, we're eating healthier these days and recycling everything.
So that's what it is about Feed. Notice I carefully didn't say I loved it. But if I change my mind in a week, I'll let you know.

Christine M said...

I completely agree that we have become too enamored of disposable/cheap products. I think it's especially tempting when kids are little. It's so easy to say yes to the item that only costs a dollar. But then... oh it can't stay in the house forever... and out it goes.

PJ Hoover said...

It is tempting because they are so cheap, Chris. You're exactly right. Must learn to fight the urge!

Stacy Nyikos said...

It's hard not to buy cheap stuff, or produce it. As weird as it may sound, 150 years ago, it was our country making cheap stuff that Europeans bought )and then probably complained about). We've all been there as developing nations.

And you're so right, the biggest way to push for better standards is to be picky buyer.

In the words of the immortal, Smokie the Bear - Only you can stop forest fires

Be an informed buyer

Amy said...

We're slowly working toward trash-free in our house. Our curbside recycling container is twice the size of our trash can, and our trash can only gets about 2/3 full each week, but I'm working on whittling it down. The waste is disgusting, IMO.

Carrie Harris said...

Rant on, sister. I completely agree! It's difficult to pare down, but then again, would we really miss all that gunk? Probably not.

PJ Hoover said...

What a really interesting point, Stacy! And all that stuff we view as antiques now! So in 100 years will cheap plastic princesses be auctioned off on eBay for thousands?
It's a funny thought!
Yes, I am becoming a choosier consumer!

LOL, Amy! We just got our new recycling container delivered today. The thing is gargantuan. I need to find a place for it in the garage. But I love the idea of a trash free home!

You're right, Carrie! Most of the time we would not miss the junk anyway. It's learning what we can really do with out and learning to appreciate our purchases.

Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Great rant. It is sickening what's happened to the milk in China and all the cheap plastic toys, etc. But what saddens me is how much more it will backlash on the Chinese, whose people have to breathe and work in the conditions that create this harmful products.

Also, Google milk hormones cancer and see what you come up with.

PJ Hoover said...

I so agree, anonymous. The whole thing is horrible all the way around. We've recently switched to organic milk here at home and are trying to make changes more and more, little by little.
There's so much to change!

Marcia said...

I've been a label reader for a long time, since my kids were small. And yes, we are really the throwaway society. The plastic princess on the birthday cake is such a good example. Almost makes you sick to realize we do this sort of thing without even thinking about it.

PJ Hoover said...

It is exactly that not thinking part, Marcia, which is the worst. Must stop throwing stuff away.

beth said...

Thank you so much for the book recommendations! It's so wonderful to have new suggestions!! Of course, I don't think I'll ever get to the bottom of my TBR pile now that I keep adding more and more books to it....but that's actually a really good thing!

PJ Hoover said...

You're welcome, Beth! Both are totally worth reading. I'm upping my reading, trying to punch out tons before the end of the year.

Gottawrite Girl said...

Have you ever seen the movie, "Super Size Me?" It's a gross and fitting example of the gluttony you mention. Ugh. And I've had moments in nature that approach something unexplainably deep, too. Where you just know you're a perfect part of a greater whole. : )

Vivian said...

Love this rant, PJ! I think you hit the nail on the head that we're a product of our consumerism and it's totally biting us in the butt.

Glad you loved The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. It is really good!

lynn said...

I totally agree on the evils of consumerism--that's why I don't buy much, and I'm a pack rat! And I try to give stuff to the salvation army instead of tossing it.

Also, I love those wonderful nature moments. I go on walks alone (I'm in a safe neighborhood) just to be able to look around and appreciate the trees, the flowers, the sky ...

C.R. Evers said...

I'll have to check out those books! Thanks!

I try to keep things simple too. It's just wise all the way around.


Beth Kephart said...

Oh, my friend.

I love your shared moments of bliss. And I needed them just now.

And different, as far as FEED goes, tells me a whole lot, it really does.

PJ Hoover said...

Susan, I haven't seen the movie. Is it about more than French Fries? I'm sure my husband would watch it with me. Thanks for the recommendation.
And you're from the gorgeous part of the country. I love the Shenandoah Valley and totally miss it this time of year.

So true, Vivian! We have to accept blame for part of the problem.
And I loved Dylan Fontaine. I couldn't put it down.

The funny thing is, Lynn, I wonder when I give to charity (which I do a ton) how much they pitch because it has passed its salable point.
I plan to start getting out more by myself to enjoy the world!

Exactly, Christy! It is just wise all the way around. It's a better way to live - to be more aware and less materialistic.

Beth, your photos inspire me to get out more. I want to take long walks in nature and enjoy the sounds of the birds. It's such a blissful place to be.

Thanks so much for visiting, everyone!

Anna Lefler said...

Hey, PJ...

I completely agree with your rant and it's so nice to hear your voice of reason and sanity out there in the wilderness.

And on the nature front, I've been having those moments, too. They sneak up on me. Maybe I'm moving into my John Denver phase [shudder], but I'm becoming more aware of nature all around me, even though I live in the middle of a city. This morning (early) I was standing in the yard with the puppies and noticed that our huge wall of bamboo had hundreds of tiny little birds in it, each one flitting in a separate direction, doing whatever it is that little birdies do in bamboo. It was amazing. Even the pups stopped and watched.




PJ Hoover said...

I love the John Denver connection, Anna. Do you think the moments feeling one with nature have something to do with getting older?
And I love that these moments can be found in the middle of even a huge city or a parking lot.

Devon Ellington said...

I absolutely agree. First it was the wheat gluten imported from China that killed pets; now it's problems with the milk. Instead of exporting our own wheat and dairy, let's feed our own people safely FIRST and export what's left, instead of exporting everything that's protected and good and importing cheap poison.

I had the one-with-nature feeling yesterday in Sandwich, on the Cape. And yes, I knew you were that deep! ;)

PJ Hoover said...

So agree, Devon! And if nothing else, we're starting to eat/live healthier around here!