Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vegan Dilemma: Shoes



Being a vegan is not always easy, and it is a multidimensional kind of existence.  It does not stop with food choices.  As a vegan, I have to not only make food choices that are ethical, but I have to take the same sets of issues into account with every choice and with every purchase.  It is a 24/7 process. I don't get a vacation from being an ethical vegan.

Aside from the fact that I have cats, another area that challenges me greatly is shoes.  Now, I am a woman, and like many women, I love shoes, but for me, buying shoes is a real ordeal. I was not gifted with normal feet.  My feet are extremely narrow--so narrow that I have to buy from specialized retailers or settle (often) for secondhand leather.

Secondhand leather is a source of controversy among vegans.  Here are some links. Now, for vegans with perfect feet, it's true that alternatives to leather exist; however, if you are me and do not have perfect feet, there are not.  You see, a few months ago, I spent literally hours on the Internet, looking for both vegan and "non leather" shoes in narrow sizes.  I did different key word searches.  I emailed back and forth with a few dealers, and I even measured my feet more than once, all of which brought me to the same conclusion:  There are virtually no affordable, vegan shoes for people with very narrow feet like mine.

There are retailers who specialize in shoes in narrow sizes; however, you pay for those shoes.  Even when I can find them in non-leather (and I will allow that there are a good number of non-leather shoes sold by these companies), they are very expensive.  $50 +/pair expensive.  I can't afford that, especially now that my income has been reduced.

Where this leaves me, since most offices won't allow you to come to work in bare feet or in your slippers, is with thrift stores.  I have to say that, over the course of my adult life, thrift stores have been very good to me.  The way I shop for shoes is I first decide what, exactly I need and in what color(s).  I then look for those in sizes that fit me.  By "fit me", in most cases, I mean fit me exactly.  I can fudge on sneakers and boots, but not on work shoes and sandals, with which I will either be wearing stockings or nothing at all.  (With sneakers and boots, I can fudge, because I typically wear them with socks.)  My results have been mixed, and about 50% or more of the time, I come away with secondhand leather shoes.

At least, at the end of the day, I know that I've gone into it with some thought and have done the best I can.  I'd love to just have normal feet, but that's not the Universe made me, so I work with what I have.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Brick Dust: Juicing, Garden Update, Life Update, Links of Interest



"Brick Dust" is a new category I'm trying out for those times when I don't have a lot to say about any one thing, but I have a few topics I'd like to touch on.  You'll find a variety of topics within each post and several links.  I hope you enjoy this new category!

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In an effort to improve my diet beyond simply being vegan, I'm trying to incorporate more raw foods and more raw nutrients.  A big part of this has been juicing.  The juicer in the photo is a vintage Waring juicer (I'm not sure of the model.)  This thing is amazing!  I remember my dad using it 20 or more years ago, under doctors' orders.  It still works perfectly, and my partner and I are loving it!  At first, we used it every day, but we've tapered that back, mainly due to time and budget constraints.  (You have to keep a lot of fresh produce and herbs on hand in order to juice consistently, and we only stock up about once every week and a half.)

Through experimentation, I've discovered quite a few combinations that I love and that are very healthy.  I have not started to add any of the grasses (wheat, barley, etc.) to my regimen yet, but I'll get around to it eventually. My favorite bases are kale, carrot, and orange.  What I add depends solely on my mood and one what my body tells me it wants.

One key thing I noticed in the beginning is that, on days when I have juice for breakfast, my energy stays strong and consistent, and I don't tend to feel the need to consume caffeine.  (I've mostly cut caffeine out, but I'm not that young any more, and when I have something happening, say in the evening after work, or when I just have a long, busy day ahead of me, I'll add a shot to my decaf.)

None of the items in the photo are from our garden, as that photo was taken a couple of months ago; however, now that our garden is up and going (somewhat--more on that later), I'm using our own kale and carrots when I can.

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Old garden photo.

Speaking of our garden, it's been a weird, weird year.  Weirder than last year. Our weather in MD has been more erratic than I can ever remember it having been (and that's saying a lot), and many of our plants are struggling.  A few didn't work out at all.  

We had to give up on peppers for this year, for one thing.  Something else bolted, and we are just now seeing our first tomato.  (Yes, I said "tomato", as in one.)  The beets are small, and the kohlrabi is...hesitant.

Our kale, sage, and carrots are thriving, so at least there is that.  

My boyfriend decided to try something different this year, in that instead of clearing the yard, he is allowing ground cover to remain.  The idea is that these plants hold in moisture and keep weeds down.  I do not think these plants are interfering with our garden.  I believe it is solely climate.

I give thanks for what we do have, and hopefully next year will be better.

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I'm happy to report that my mom continues to recover from her surgery. She is currently in sub acute rehab receiving several therapies, which we hope will return her to independence.  Meanwhile, I am still taking care of her house and her cat.  I would just bring the cat to my house if I could, but with our clowder, it's just not possible.  Plus, this cat hates other cats.  Besides that, my mom wants me to go to the house once a week, anyway.

As for my working situation, I am still working the same part time job, and there is talk of permanency. I won't know for sure for a while, but I have received pretty extensive training.  In addition, I'm starting to realize my dream of building a career out of freelance work combined with part time corporate work.  I have picked up my very first virtual assisting client, and that is going well right now.  If all goes well, I won't need another full time, corporate job.  I've come to enjoy the flexibility that I have right now, and in time I hope to be able to fit domestic and artistic pursuits back in.  As Mom heals, that should fall into place.

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Links of Interest:

-I have recently started drinking kombucha.  It's an acquired taste, but it is very healthy.  It's a bit like drinking carbonated vinegar, but I've found that the varieties flavored with berries are pretty good, and I like a particular brand, which comes with raw chia seeds in it. All I will say is that, when I brought some with me for dinner at a friend's house, my boyfriend and my friends all said, "It's all yours!"

-Humane meat is a hoax. I have always believed this, but I feel this article lays out the issue very well. I hope that people will read this with an open mind, and who knows?  Maybe some minds will be changed.

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Well, that's all I have this time.  We are on vacation this week.  Hopefully, I'll have more updates for you soon.

Thanks for reading!