Monday, August 31, 2015

Protest purchase

Last week, a woman with a shock of bleach-blonde hair and a French accent was chanting 'rabbits are pets, not food!' in a booming voice directly across from a woman selling 'meat rabbits' at my local farmers' market.  Holding some sort of sign & standing off to the side, stood a four-year-old with his mother, both chanting the anti-rabbit-meat slogan.  The young'un tried to recite in tandem with the women, but wasn't very successful.  His little voice became a distant echo.  The whole production was rather strange and very disruptive to the normally mellow market.  I stopped near the rabbit meat stand and took in the scene.  The woman selling rabbits stood at her table pretending she wasn't being barked about not ten feet away.  Although I'd seen the 'Rabbit Lady' at the market on prior visits, I hadn't been too interested in buying any meat as her rabbits are sold both whole and frozen.  I prefer the meat already butchered in manageable portions and ready to cook. 

I figured that the protesters were probably driving people away from visiting her stand--no such fuss in front of the beef and poultry stands--, so I went over and asked her about her product, her farm, rabbit recipes she might recommend, and signed up on her mailing list.  I also bought a rabbit.  The protesters 'drove me to it', in a way, with all their ruckus.  Outside of fancy restaurants and specialist butcher shops (which are about as rare as a four-leaf clover 'round these parts), one really can't find rabbit meat for sale in No. California.  Rabbit seems a sort of luxury item, but not one I'd shy away from eating, if it were more readily available.  I was certainly spoiled living in Switzerland, where both rabbit and horse are sold in supermarkets.  There are also no protesters to contend with in CH, so that's a plus.

The thaw before the cook.

A few days after the 'protest purchase', I received a group email from the rabbit farmer letting those on the mailing list know that the famers' market had 'ejected' her stand from the market because of the protests.  She also wrote that she endeavors to set up a possible delivery service to those who live within a certain range of her business.  What I don't understand is why the market organizers could not have removed the protesters to a spot outside of market grounds in order to carry on their protesting.  Could there not already be a precedent for such things?  That way, the protesters could keep yelling and the rabbit lady could keep selling.  Instead the rowdy anti-rabbit crowd (of three) were rewarded for obnoxious behavior and the solo farmer punished for hers.

As I write, the rabbit is cooking.  I'm attempting to make rabbit stifado.  The kitchen smells of spices and red wine.  So far, so good.   Thanks, Rabbit Lady, and may you find another venue for selling your wares.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two wheels good

Hey Motorists:

I am trying not to hate you, but you're making it difficult.  If one more of you decides to turn without signaling or to stop without actually stopping, I may scream louder than I already do when out on the road.  -not like you care, anyway.  Before you motorists start yammering about how cyclists are a scourge and should be put down for speeding through red lights and such, save it for someone who actually doesn't follow road rules.  I confound motorists with my uncanny ability to obey the law.  They often try to wave me through intersections after I've lawfully stopped, trying to cede their right-of-way, I guess.  Putting at least one foot on the ground as a visual clue that I'm respecting the stop sign posted to my immediate right is either lost on them, or they just don't care and want it their way.  Arms waving at me to proceed through the intersection, and, potentially into the path of an oncoming car, is met with a shake of the head.  I sometimes mouth, 'I have a stop sign' to further the point.

Not owning an automobile has meant that my primary mode of transport is a bicycle.  Being sans four wheels in a place that isn't set-up with stellar public transport means that I'm often not traveling too far from home.  However, I do like to get out of my immediate surroundings, and so I bike to the Bay Area's suburban rail, aka Bart, for trips to the city and beyond.  The trip to Bart includes traversing eight miles' worth of road, only some of it kitted out with bike lanes.

Two nights ago, I met up with my local German club (five mile bike ride, one way) for suds and schwatz.  One of the other members, R., asked what route I took to get to our meeting spot.  I told him that I try to take roads that are less congested with cars & rattled off some street names.  He said that he always takes the 'scenic route', so as to avoid maximum contact with motorists.  Then he mentioned an accident he'd gotten into years ago where he'd somehow wound up on a car hood.  He capped off his story by saying that he'd needed three years to fully recover and that he (miraculously) still rides, but is super, extra cautious these days.

His story was playing in my head as I rode home from Redwood City this afternoon.  It was already 'commute time' at 4.30 and the roads were jammed.  Impossibly long lights made for impatient drivers who ran red lights and got their cars stuck in the middle of intersections in effort to get wherever it is they're going just that much quicker.  I choose my usual route, a wide street with generous bike lane.  Giant, four-door trucks with tires almost as tall as I am were out in full force and the size and noise coming from them started to freak me out as they went by.  My palms got a bit sweaty while pedaling along and I could not wait to turn off onto the bike bridge and just get the eff away from the monster truck show.  I hope I don't become so incapacitated by fear that I give up riding along the peninsula.  I also very much hope that we, cyclists and motorists alike, continue to be mostly mindful when out on the streets and follow the rules, so that no one gets hurt.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Child custody

An American TV actress refused to return her children to their father, who has physical custody, after she spent the summer with them, as per custodial agreement, in the States.  The father is German and lives in Monaco.  The mother lives in America.  Her line is that children should live with their mother.  Fine, if that's what she thinks, but that isn't what the court decided and her behavior could be construed as child abduction.  (She has since produced the children to their paternal grandmother and they are en route home.)

The US media, who should really butt out, simplistically paints the ex-husband as 'bad' and the actress as 'good'.  The sense I get from listening to TV blurbs about this case is that because the kids are American, like their mother, they should live in America with her and not be 'trapped in Monaco' as if they were being held hostage.  The reasoning seems pretty rudimentary.  To be fair, the children are legally entitled to hold both American and German passports.  Why they have only an American passport is confusing. 

I should think that the children should live where, overall, they would have the best quality of life.  No offense, USA, but I think I like the sound of Monaco better.  Imagine: the kids will be, at least, bilingual in English and French.  The father speaks German, so, I'd imagine, they'd learn that language as well.  The children will benefit from a stellar education, be connected to the world in a way that, sadly, they would not have a chance to were they to be raised here.  To be fair, growing up with privilege in tony Manhattan, where the mother lives, has its perks.  It would not be as if they'd be devoid of culture and rich experience in New York City.  However, I'd still vote for the children to be raised in Europe.  As US passport-holding kids, they are always welcome to come back and live in America as soon as they turn 18.