Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Impressions

Or, should I say "worst impressions"? The college girl had an away game close to Grandma and Grandpas house and it's almost Christmas. It's been 10 years since I was up north in the Chicago land area visiting so I followed the bus to Peoria and watched our little Rend Lake ball team tromp all over undefeated Illinois Central. We won in an exciting game(thanks to the blind refs) 70-64 and then off to see the folks.

Anyway, I remember our little community as a small suburb of Chicago, nice and quiet. Not anymore! The urban sprawl has overtaken the area and spread another 15 miles west in just 10 years! The places I used to play are unrecognizable. Strip malls and Townhouses everywhere. The constant traffic was horrible. I spent Sunday afternoon downtown at the museums with my brother and my niece, my kids got to see some city culture and ate my favorite food at an authentic Greek restaurant owned by a family friend. Now that I've had a taste of real Greek food, poor Copper the sheep is doomed! He's going to be a roast and Gyros by the weekend. Poor Copper, LOL.

As I drove thru the urban sprawl and looked around at all the people, I realized how overwhelming life could be for anyone wanting to be even the tiniest of self sustained. Forget about OPSEC, it would be virtually impossible to keep anyone around you from knowing you have a garden or a stocked food pantry. I did instantly see some money making outlets for anyone that could possibly manage to grow even just a few things. The farmers market is a real hot spot. I can't say how much of the produce is actually grown right in the chicago area but the baked goods almost certainly are.

Some of the things my parents and extended family consume are items I take for granted here. the grape tomatoes, giant sweet peppers, the fresh Italian breads and the specialty cheeses. I grow and produce all those things right here. For people up there, the priorities are so completely opposite of what I have tho. While my kids all play sports just like my sisters kids, they both have to work away from home to live and my work is my home. I take things for granted here, things like a pile of firewood, the indoor winter garden and the home made cheeses. I can not imagine having to pay $120 for a truckbed full of firewood! Or, $6 for a carton of grape tomatoes, $20 a lb for real chemical free cheese.

I now must return to Chicago this spring to help my brother create some container gardens in his back yard. His interest in producing some of the things he likes for himself is refreshing and that he would come to me makes me feel pretty good about my lifestyle. Of course I will have to bag up some compost/soil and take at least one bag of my special fertilizer mix for him with some good heirloom seed. I look forward to that a bunch.
I need to find a milk cow. I was properly chastised for not having any cheese with me. It disappoints me too, I miss my cheese! But, I have to hold my ground and not make cheese from my neighbors milk because they did me wrong and i can't encourage the possibility of them using me or my family anymore and I refuse to buy milk from the Amish. Other than defeating the whole purpose, my attitude hasn't changed toward that group of people and I must keep to my principles and values. I hope I find a nice cow soon!
Oh, I forgot the best part of the whole trip, besides getting to hang out with Mom and Dad that is, there was snow! On the ground already and it flurried every single day! My kids got to try snow boarding and loved it.
Well, the bread box is empty and the yummy comfort of all those old and familiar foods is missing so off to the kitchen I go. Lots to cook before Christmas!


  1. oh, this leads to a lot of questions! Like why do you refuse to buy milk from the Amish? What did your neighbor do wrong? lol
    Poor Copper...the life of a farm/meat animal is short. lol
    It's nice to go "back" and see the changes and have it affirmed that your choices were right for you.

  2. I don't blame you about not purchasing milk from your neighbor..but what about the Amish?
    Just standn in the grocery line its shocking to see some of the prices people are willing to pay and the wasteful "things" they purchase!

  3. First I have to ask, what si OPSEC? And, being from a Chicago suburb myself, I know of what you write. What I do here with my garden and chickens amazes most people up here who don't grow anything but grass! (But, you can buy it so cheaply!, they say! Cheap, for sure!)

  4. LOL Gen, OPSEC= operational security, when nobody else needs to know what you're doing. Ah, my old neighborhood was just about unrecognizable, it's so grown now with malls and such. Just kind of amazing. Sooo many people in one small space!

    Kati and HP, the Amish, that's a whole rant post! The community they built here and their behavior toward others, their common practices, looong long story of why I won't buy anything from them...

  5. MM, sometimes it depends on the precise sect of Amish that you deal with! I used to live in Virginia near a large Amish community and also near an old order Mennonite community.While I was living there, a flood struck a small community. Several houses were badly flooded. After the waters receded, a bunch of buggies and wagons just showed up one day, loaded with Amish AND Mennonite men (if you know anything about either sect, you know how rare that is!) They proceeded to clean out the houses , tear out damaged drywall and the like and effect repairs. They didn't ask for a penny and even provided a lot of the building materials themselves. The women of the community provided lunches and brought *house warming* gifts such as hand made quilts when the work was done.
    I have lived near other communities of Amish that are not like that, so I know why you would be upset with the ones near you. It really does depend on the leader of the local group and their personal interpretation of their traditions/religion.

  6. You're so right Lamb, thanks for posting. Ah, the commuinity near me is one of those "gimme" sects, always trying to get something for nothing types. It's a shame because there's plenty of benefit to be had if they'd treat others with just a little more respect. Ah, such is life...


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