It's a funny thing about grocery shopping. I don't know about you, but it's never been my favorite thing. The florescent lighting, the scary food products that I can't identify, the stressed out people, the strange magazine headlines at the checkout. I don't know what exactly it is, but I have always gone into a state of terminal overload the moment I enter a big store. The bigger it is, the worse the overload. I think partly it's my problem with shiny objects. I'm thinking to myself, just get the peanut butter, just get the peanut butter, but then look! there's some cheese over there that I've never seen before, I should go look at that, but then look! that cereal's got a new picture on its box and I should check that out, but then look! what's Brittney gone and done this time? And by the time I've been in the store for five minutes, I have eight things in my basket and none of them is peanut butter, and I'm ready to go home for a nap.
A girl could go broke shopping like that. Or crazy. Or both. (Which could explain something about the 90's, now I come to think about it.)
When we lived in Berkeley, I discovered a store called the Berkeley Bowl. As overwhelming as that store was in many ways, it wasn't quite such a bad experience, I think because (in its first incarnation), it wasn't too big, and the people who worked there had worked there for years and came to know me, and the boxes of stuff weren't quite so shiny as they are in the usual grocery stores (probably because there weren't that many boxes; everything was sold in bulk).
And then we moved here, and I found out that we live a mile away from the longest continuously-running certified farmer's market in the area (I have heard it said that it's the oldest certified farmer's market in California, but I can't find the reference for that right now, and I like to be able to cite sources). And we started going there. A few months later, the employees' unions of the major supermarkets around here went on strike, and we stopped going there. By the time that was over, grocery shopping had changed for us forever. Between the farmer's market, and the local grocery (LGS?), and an occasional visit to Trader Joe's, we're pretty much covered.
And I find I don't mind shopping so much anymore. There is something fundamentally different about shopping outdoors, and about buying food from the people who grow it. A very large portion of the farmer's market is certified (which, in farmer's market parlance, means that the sellers are the producers; there are no middle-people in this process). And the people who come, come every week, rain or shine, summer or winter. While Rick goes even more often that I do (he, too, goes every week, rain or shine, summer or winter; sometimes I get to stay home and have the house all to myself, and as much as I love the market, alone time in the house trumps all), I go often enough that folks recognize me, too (although usually as the wife of the tall guy, and the mother of the incredibly active girls). Where else can you buy chard, and also have the seller tell you that your daughters really do look like you? She also knows that we want the tops on our turnips and carrots, because the guinea pigs eat them, and that Rick will visit her stand twice every week, once to buy veggies, and the second time, on the way out, to buy sweet peas, so they won't wilt before he gets to the car. The teenager who works for her uncle at the apple stand regularly comments on how tall Younger Daughter is getting, and the bread guy holds aside a loaf of multigrain organic, because he knows Rick will want one (which hasn't stopped him from convincing Rick to also try the corn/rye bread, which is delicious).
It sure beats florescent lights, strange foodstuffs, and overload.
Now, I know that this isn't for everyone. Not everyone lives so close to a market. Not everyone has time to go to at least two places to shop during the week. A lot of people hate shopping as much as I did, and will do anything to keep it to one place. But as I said to a dear friend of mine the other week, maybe some of us hate shopping because of where we shop, rather than the other way around. Maybe...
What does all this have to do with fiber, you ask? (This being, after all, in theory a fiber-related blog; but come on, don't we all like food, just a little bit?) Well, I'll tell you. Our market now has a lovely woman who comes and sells her yarn and her roving. She's in the certified section now, because she raises the sheep and llamas whence the wool comes. And she brings her wheel and spins at the market. How cool is that?
Why yes, I did get some fiber when I was at the market today, now that you mention it. (We must support local business, no?)
The stuff on the bottom is from a Jacob. The fleece is white with black splotches, and she's carded them together to get that lovely heathery color. It's tremendously soft. And then, just as a teaser, she handed me that little bit on top, which is from a Wensleydale. I think she's an enabler.
I'm almost done plying the second batch of the wool/tencel blend. Here are the singles.
I have my new niddy-noddy, so if I can finish this off tonight, I'll wind it into a skein and wash it to hang to dry.
Gwilim says it's hot, and he's right, so we're grilling tonight. Fresh nopales (must go take the prickers off now; you've got to love having Younger Daughter asking -- loudly -- at the market, "Mama, why can't we eat the pricks?" Sigh...), and tortillas, and tomatillo salsa. Mmm...