Gender Roles

Generally speaking, I do enjoy doing the ‘domestic thing’ to take care of my family. I like vacuuming, I enjoy a clean bathroom, and I can’t ‘breath’ unless my kitchen is clean. I really enjoy preparing food, and folding laundry often appeases my meticulous side. Comforting children, especially our little bug, comes naturally as does offering comfort to others. Given this perspective, it’s easy to understand why women are often the ‘care givers’ and men the so-called ‘providers’. But, I’m also wired such that I need recognition for the work I do, and sometimes thank you isn’t enough. Re-realizing this about myself makes me wonder about all the women out there, the feminist movement, and why some women elect to keep a not so clean house.

Other thoughts that spiral through my mind when seeing what I need or would like to help motivate me to do these sometimes mundane tasks makes me understand why my mother is always so quick to help another woman in the kitchen at group events, like Thanksgiving. Her understanding or perspective of dislike for dish chores motivates her to relieve others from the task. She may not be the best cook, but she will ensure your dishes come out of the wash spotless.

Is this perspective a reason why women congregate in the kitchen? After keeping house for some period of time, one becomes quite familiar with what needs to be done to get the meal on the table. A generous desire for helping people, fraternization, and community are maybe the ingredients to the recipe. I’m sure many of us have visions of the women in children in the kitchen during these family gatherings while the men are around the boob-tube watching the latest NFL game or outside sipping their beers and smoking their cigarettes and cigars. Is it simply knowing what needs to be done that keeps women in the kitchen while ignorance of what needs to be done keeps men out of it?

There are men I know who are more at the ready to help in the kitchen and offer help than other women I know. If it’s simply familiarity with the task that divides who stays where, then that could serve an answer. Is there a deeper role that we play? This is certainly a question that philosophers have pondered in varying forms (gender roles, occupational roles, etc.) and I certainly don’t hope to find all the answers. Although, I am interested to hear differing perspectives.

Where can I find local fruit (food!)?

Here, in the fertile Willamette Valley, we are spoiled by great harvests. A question that seems to interest people, especially in the summer time is, “Where can I go to get good, local (and organic) fruits and vegetables (food)?” My family, in particular, is in interested in cutting food costs without sacrificing nutrition. So, how can we do that?

Monique Dupré has created her own system of how to do that by buying locally, making arrangements with local meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable suppliers all with a mix of some internet shopping. She brags that she only spends $65/month at the grocery store. To learn more about how she does things and to sign up for a workshop, visit her website ‘Sustainable Living on a Budget‘.

Living in Portland for 5 years has taught me the following:

  • Uncle Paul’s (SE 23rd & SE Hawthorne Blvd) offers year round local produce in his open-air tent at great prices.
  • Sauvie Island farmers offer many U-pick fields where you can purchase your fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the grocery cost.
  • We picked 6.25 lbs of blueberries from Sauvie Island Farms Saturday for $10.15. This yielded over 20 cups of blueberries, 18 of which is portioned in 2 & 3 cup bags in the freezer, with the 2 remaining cups divvied into pancakes and snacks.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company is going green, and they are still the best place in town for grains. Visit them for discounts when buying in bulk, especially flours and oats.
  • Cherry Sprout Produce (formerly Big City Produce) on N Albina & N Sumner
  • Co-ops around town including Food Front, People’s, and Alberta
  • Fruit stands around town… keep on the lookout! Two I know of off hand, SE Foster & SE 80th across from Fred Meyer & SE 28th between SE Steele & SE Bybee.
    • Farmer’s markets… not only do farmer’s markets serve as a great place to gather good food in one place, most of the markets give out free literature including recipes and why buying local and hormone free is important. If you can stand the crowds, visit, learn and eat tasty treats.

    When shopping for food, it’s important to remember that buying local is actually better than buying organic. “Why?” you may ask.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s more evident now with rising gas costs, but one reason for buying local is to ensure food security. If something were to happen to our transportation system (such as exorbitant gas prices) and food couldn’t be shipped the 1500 average miles food is currently shipped to get to our plates, what would we eat? We need to ensure demand for local food so that we will have local food to eat.

    Secondly, buying local keeps money local instead of shipping it off to Kroger or the Walton’s. It’s been said that for every dollar spent locally, it puts two dollars back into the local economy supporting jobs and simply people.

    Third, we have more control over local food. Remember what happened to Tribal Sun a few years ago when they didn’t use organic tomatoes but said they did? New Seasons quickly pulled the product from the shelves, and the product wasn’t on the shelves for about 12 months until they seemingly remedied the problem. If Kroger’s brand of organic doesn’t really use organic vegetables, how quickly do you think the items would be pulled from the shelves?

    Eating great local food is often as simple as walking around your neighborhood to see who’s selling what. I would love to hear comments from people who have other ideas on how to save on primary sourced foods. Email me with your suggestions!

    Our House Before & After

    The house we live in has been our longest residence each in the City of Portland. I found some old pictures of when we moved in and we can compare it to what the house looks like now.


    Levi the Walking Monster

    I was thinking of doing a retrospective of family photos, but I have a limited number of family photos on the computer, especially ones that date back 15 years. Instead, I settled on finally making that video of Levi walking. And, here it is. Enjoy!

    One Year

    Last year, July 19, 2007, my family was rudely awakened to the horrors of domestic violence.

    Peter and I were barely working between the two of us, he had been laid off and with struggles feeding Levi I was barely pulling 5 hours a week. We were at the DHS office applying for food stamps when Peter got the call that yes indeed TriMet was offering him a job. We had been at the DHS office since 7:20am and we finally got home close to 10:30am. We barely set our things down, relieved that there was more money in our future and we could at least buy food for our small family when the phone rang. It was my mother. It was one of those phone calls where you just know something is wrong, and how wrong it was. She asked if I was sitting down, and I think I sat down. She didn’t wait to tell me and simply said, “Cristi is dead.”

    My sister. Step-sister to be truly accurate, my sister who is the same age as me, only three months younger. My sister who promptly finished college to begin teaching children who have difficulty learning was dead. She had no health problems, so we all knew the story was only going to get worse. Her boyfriend, Joseph Frees, killed her. Their bodies were found in the bedroom that morning after Cristi failed to show up for volleyball practice. Her mother was phoned and prayed the entire way to her house, “God, please don’t let me find what I know I am going to find.” The lights were on and the cars where in the drive, but of course no one answered. Cheri used a cooler to climb through the kitchen window, and she was the one to find her daughter murdered and the boyfriend dead too.

    Joe and Cristi worked together. Joe served as the athletic trainer while Cristi taught and coached. It’s not surprising they found common interests. I hate that I have no good memories of him. Others do, and I suppose that is some comfort. But, for me, it’s one of those situations where I knew he was no good for Cristi.

    A murder-suicide in my family. Such horrid violence that one usually only hears about on T.V. while watching an inflated drama like that of S.V.U. has waded itself into my family. I couldn’t believe that Domestic Violence would be a part of my family. It’s something that only happens to other people right? This time, though, the other people was us. My family splashed on the front cover of the local newspapers in Grand Rapids. My family’s story for all to read. It couldn’t be a private event because Cristi affected so many.

    After we got home, I met with a local shelter group to discuss ideas for planning an event. Soon, though, I realized that with school commitments that I would not have the time to arrange something that I wanted to be on a grand scale to raise awareness about Domestic Violence. But, then I pledged to myself that I would attempt it for another year. So, the new goal became by 2009. The initial idea was to raise money and split the funds between shelters in the Portland area, and then the idea expanded to paying off Cristi’s debts.

    This goal needs to be revisited.

    A word about soil

    There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about soil, what makes good soil, and why urban soil is so different than rural soil. First, it’s important to understand the components of soil and how healthy soil differs from soil in the built environment. Second, we need to know what an impervious surface is and how it differs from pervious surfaces. Third, we can now make the connections to urban environments and the importance of public transportation.

    Healthy Soil

    What does healthy soil look like? Healthy soil is full of microbial action and drainage. Healthy soil has bugs and worms that tunnel through allowing plants to breath underground and giving water a place to go. Healthy soil with healthy vegetation soaks up water from rain or other water events and draws it down first into their root systems and then further filters water down to the water table, eventually replenishing ground water supplies.

    Impervious Surfaces and Why They Are Bad

    Impervious surfaces prevent water from adequately soaking into the ground. Impervious surfaces can be compacted soil (urban soil), pavement, asphalt, housing with standard roofs, or even grass. Anything that prevents water from properly filtering into the soil to nourish plants and animals that live below the ground is an impervious surface.

    “A raindrop is like a miniature water bomb: it hits the ground at 20 miles per hour. When raindrops hit bare soil, water can splash soil up to 6 feet away, carry particles away, and drop sediment into drainageways. Wind also dislodges, moves, and transports soil particles. We need that topsoil; it nourishes our food and allows us to live, but it can take almost 1,000 years to be created (Oregon Association of Conservation Districts 2007). In Portland specifically, composted soil can be made in a week (Plantea 1998).” [As quoted in The Tolman Guide to Green Living in Portland, first page Soil Section.]

    Additionally, living in places with a lot of impervious surfaces makes that place more vulnerable to floods. When watersheds are prevented from doing their job, managing water naturally, floods are a bigger risk. The water from water events still needs to find someplace to go, and with impervious surfaces that place is usually a parking lot, which leads to the street and sidewalk, or even your basement.

    Linking It Back to Place

    I live in an urban environment, so it’s important for me to be aware of how my actions affect the environment around me. Likewise, when we learn how we can live in our urban environment full of compacted soil and impervious surfaces, we have more knowledge to make better choices. If, for example, we rely on public transit more than our personal cars, we lessen demand on the roads. Each bus here in Portland helps keep about 256 cars off the road. Imagine 1 bus for every 250 cars and think of how much less air pollution and ground pollution we would have if we improved that ratio. Now, consider what would happen when we plant with native plants in our yards, we use natural methods to help water go where it needs to go – in the ground, further reducing risk of flood and improving the environment in which we live.

    I hope this basic run-through of why healthy soil is important helps with our general understanding of how place has a direct affect on our local ecology. Please email me with questions, further reading, or any thing else!

    Imminent Graduation

    Today I completed and mailed the 28 invitations made for my graduation celebration. Kate helped with the little hats and Beth helped with wording. I hope those who receive an invitation at least enjoy it for its aesthetics. They actually took all weekend-long to complete. I found it easier, or perhaps more consistent to pen the text for each invitation, and that was time consuming.

    Now, all that is really left, besides those odds and ends of getting food and final preps around the house, is to ensure I can graduate. So, tomorrow I will visit PSU and see what the hang up is. I am expecting it to be the lack of requirements filled for the catalog year and the art history minor. I don’t have the patience to adjust that properly, so I will drop it entirely. I also need to find out if the two incompletes for which I filed a petition to complete was granted.

    I hope, when the day arrives, that Levi will be able to behave properly during the hour and a half long event. I hope people come to help celebrate, and I hope they enjoy themselves.

    Along with prettying our home, we’ve been planting flowers along the side of the garage. The poor sunflowers lost all the blooms they had, and the nostranias don’t seem to be doing great. We are concerned that there is something seriously wrong with the soil next to the garage. The hydrangeas are doing better now than they were over the weekend, and the marigolds are looking great. I hope it continues to work itself toward the delicate oasis I dream it to be.

    How can I raise chickens in my backyard?

    Recently, my neighbor asked me if we would like to work with him and his wife on raising chickens in our backyard. While they are on vacation, I am doing a little research. The Tolman Guide to Green Living in Portland offers a link to The Chicken Coops of Portland, which ultimately leads you to this source put out by Growing Gardens, resources on keeping chickens in Portland.

    The site has links and tips on some of the better ways to keep your urban chicken happy, including a link to the City of Portland’s regulations. The tips include a short supplier list of chicken supplies, including the address to the ReBuilding Center where you can often find good ‘salvaged’ lumber perfect for building a chicken coop. Also included are suggestions on what to consider, like space, lighting, and mulch, for your urban chicken coop. Portland Ground offers several pictures of chicken coops throughout Portland.

    And, if that’s not enough, there is a Tour coming up! On July 26, from 11am-3pm, join others in a Tour de Coop of Portland’s Chicken Coops. Tickets are $5/person or $3/bike. Tickets are on sale at People’s Food Co-op or Garden Fever beginning July 18th. For more information, visit Growing Gardens.