Category Archives: Cooking

Bananas…

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

from Quart Blog By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros March 3, 2014

madagascar-kid

It’s that time of the year when my geography class gets to study Latin America. I say GET TO study, because learning should be fun, eye opening, and an opportunity to see things for the first time or see something from a different point of view. My students would have you believe they HAVE TO study Latin America, but really they GET TO. To add to the fun of learning about a place they have never seen, I ask my students to collect banana stickers . We sort them by country, brand, and organic vs. traditional. When were finished collecting, I ask them to think about what our sticker collection tells us about bananas. With the shift to Common Core – it is a good thing, trust me – I am asking my students to think deeper, to make connections to the world around them and to wonder where the food we eat comes from, and if it a good thing, or not. Living in the middle of Illinois farm country where corn, soy beans, and wheat are grown as well as cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised my kids, my students – suburban children of middle class Americans think little of where the food they eat comes from or how it gets here.

I’ve tried to re-blog the article and it seems the process is stuck….. so I am re-posting the link here it is….

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

I heard about this article while listening to Market Place on NPR Thursday evening on my way home. I knew about the situation and had read the book mentioned in the article, but I was looking for something I could share with my seventh graders. Rather than refer to the article with an embedded link, I felt it was better to reblog it. I’ll be writing more later, but give it a read, it’s worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by,  Making the Days Count, one day at a time, and one banana a day, too.

Plat du Jour

It is Monday morning. Saturday has passed, Sunday, too. It’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday weekend and there is no school. On a normal Monday morning, I’d be up to my eyebrows in teaching ELA, but today and last Monday, and the Monday before last – school has been out. I enjoy the three- day weekends, but I get lazy and don’t accomplish what I should. However, last weekend was a three-day weekend for my students, it was not for me, the teachers had a workday and I got a lot done. Full Disclosure, though it felt like a three-day weekend.

Saturday morning's sunrise....
Saturday morning’s sunrise….

The weather has been typical Midwest January – cold. Continue reading Plat du Jour

Saturday morning, again

saturdayweatherRight now, it’s almost fifty degrees warmer than it was Monday morning. By some standards, it is cold but it feels rather warm. Following our freezing cold of Monday morning with the incredible wind chills, we’ve warmed up, relatively. It’s still January and there are colder days ahead; and of course there is February and March and possibilities of more cold and snow. It’s winter in the Midwest. It is the price we pay for the three other seasons.

I grew up in south Texas where summer begins in early May and ends in late September, or November depending on the year. Winter comes for a week; sometimes, for two weeks, but it is like that houseguest you are glad to take to the airport at the end of their stay. Depending on who’s telling the story (I escaped \ I was released \ I ran away) Continue reading Saturday morning, again

New Year’s Day 2014

newyearsdayIt is Day 2 of 2014. It’s early and it’s cold and dark outside. The sun will rise in an hour or so and slowly draw light across the frozen lake. I caught the sunset and the clouds yesterday afternoon. We get a little less than nine hours of sunshine at this time of the year. In the summer, it seemingly never gets dark. I love how the shadows in the snow slowly come to life on a cold January morning. I could look out onto the lake forever. It’s peaceful and it is the time of the morning when I can just be.

Yesterday was the first day of the New Year and to be honest, we did not do much. I know I did not do much. I did finish my school thank you notes and I did help clean up the house from our New Year’s Eve dinner, we all did. Some of us were more cheerful about it than others, but that is how it goes. So, the house is clean, for now. We’ll do another cleanup when we pack up and go home back to reality in a couple of days. Continue reading New Year’s Day 2014

New Year’s Eve 2013

newyearseveIt’s New Year’s Eve. 2013. It’s over, well almost. I have a few more hours in 2013 to log a few accomplishments, to make up for things I didn’t do, should’ve done, could’ve done, or made excuses because I simply did not do them. Or, I could dwell on the things I did, the things I did well. Instead, I will move forward, trying to remember what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German writer and philosopher, wrote long ago:

“Every man has only enough strength to complete those assignments that he is fully convinced are important.”

Goethe, wrote a lot, significantly more than I have, especially in the past year. Like Goethe, I have time for what is important, what is necessary, and what I need to do. Continue reading New Year’s Eve 2013

Christmas

this morning's view from my 'office'
this morning’s view from my ‘office’

It’s a wonderful morning in Illinois. The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, and there is a blanket of snow on the ground. We, at least W and I are, are back after spending Christmas in Ohio. B and O stayed another day and will leave for Michigan sometime today. W and I will head north early Sunday morning to join them; in the meantime he and I, and Ivy of course, have the run of the house. We also have a few things to do, like study for finals (W) and grade papers (me), before we pack up and drive north.

Somehow, Christmas always catches me by surprise. It sneaks up on me, pounces, and leaves me dazed. No matter how hard I try, I never seem to be mentally, emotionally, or physically prepared for the season. Perhaps it goes back to my days working in restaurants when the Christmas season was a blur of long days and even longer nights, or maybe there is a deeper reason for my Christmas surprise. But, my restaurant days are behind me, almost twenty years behind and I still find myself lost at this time of the year. Teaching has replaced working in restaurants and there is a two week long break for Christmas. When Winter Break and Christmas do arrive, all I want to do is rest, sleep, or just enjoy downtime. There always seems there is more to do than we have time for, or places to go and visit, there never seems time to just, be, to enjoy the holiday. We have our family traditions – we put up the tree, decorate outside, and inside – B always does a wonderful job of making the home full of  Christmas spirit. O loves to listen to Christmas songs and when she rides along with me, there is usually a fight over the radio, but not during December. I believe it all goes back to scarcity and choices; or how I use time, or not. I do enjoy Christmas and the entire holiday season, I just never seem to have it all together. It drove my dad nuts that I was so, so laissez-faire. It drives B crazy, too. Continue reading Christmas

Burgers and dogs

old fishing bobbers and Petosky stones
old fishing bobbers and Petosky stones

It’s another beautiful morning by the lake. It’s quiet and everyone is still asleep, including Ivy. I have drained the coffee pot, checked e-mail, transferred photos from photo cards, played games, and done everything imaginable except start writing.

The weekend has come and gone and with it another Ausable River Canoe Marathon. It’s an epic event for the town. There have been sixty-six of them, including this year’s race. The town hosts a festival and it is a big deal. The parade is bigger than the Fourth of July parade. There is a Saturday car show, carnival rides, a craft fair with vendors, and at nine o’clock, the race begins when racers pick up their canoes and run to the river, jump in, and begin paddling to Oscoda – some 120 miles away. It’s quite an event.

We had guests this weekend. Continue reading Burgers and dogs

A New Morning

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke at 3 and went back to sleep. A couple of hours later, Ivy was up and wanted to go outside and I stumbled to the door, clipped her tether, and opened the door. The full moon shone brightly over the lake and I could see ducks on the water in front of the cottage. I am sure it was more than the ducks that woke her but she silently inspected the yard and was at the door, wanting to come in, moments later. I went back to bed, but couldn’t get back to sleep. I grudgingly got up and took a few photos of the moon hanging over the lake. I took the photos below with my iPhone, couldn’t get the camera to take a snap, too little light. But the iPhone didn’t care.

I’ve been up ever since. Continue reading A New Morning

Cottage Time

Ivy WILL NOT be left behind
Ivy WILL NOT be left behind

I am at the Michigan cottage now, it has been 1600 plus miles in one week. That’s how far I driven since my trip to Mississippi and back and to the cottage last Friday morning. That’s a long way. The drive down to Mississippi didn’t seem to faze me, but the drive back took its toll. I was whacked, the following day. All I wanted to do was sleep, I would sneak off to lie down and catch a short nap, if I could. It only frustrated B because there was much to do, there always is, especially when we were packing and heading north for a week. Continue reading Cottage Time

Communities

son
Jonas’s eyes from the cover of Son

I got up early this morning. Ivy was eager to get out and survey the yard and I ventured onto the deck after her and heard the unmistakable crunch of winter precipitation underfoot. I stepped gingerly to avoid being an early morning casualty and coaxed her back inside. By that time, the coffee had finished brewing and I could enjoy a cup while sitting on the couch with Ivy in my lap.

Vacation was great, really great, in fact amazing. It was good to get back, but being away and kicking back was what we all needed. Our last day was amazing and interesting, all at the same time and our trip home full of surprises, at least for two of us, but that is not what I awoke for this morning to write. All week long and most of last week, I have wanted to write this post, but I haven’t made time. Each day, there has been another project, task, or appointment in the way of writing and then last Saturday night another piece of the puzzle developed and I struggled with it. Continue reading Communities