I’m trying out Tumblr. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’m at lisaann11.tumblr.com.




To Eat Fish…

Or not to eat fish. It’s become an unexpected question I’ve imposed upon myself over the past few weeks. I recently read Jonathan Safron Foer’s Eating Animals…it was the latest in a string of food/food industry books I’ve read over the past several years (an old post here with thoughts on some of the previous books), and I was looking forward to reading it but didn’t really expect anything too life-changing. My previous readings had made me 1) glad I don’t eat red meat/poultry, and 2) want to cook more with lovely, fresh ingredients.

But Eating Animals went past factory farms into the water, and detailed some of the practices of fish farming. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily avoided the subject, but I certainly haven’t sought out information about the fishing industry. I know I should check the Seafood Watch list from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (I even have the app on my phone) before ordering or buying fish, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

I didn’t stop eating meat because I read any of these books. I stopped eating red meat during my volunteer year after college because I had unintentionally lessened my red meat intake during college (thanks to the cafeteria food), one of my housemates didn’t eat red meat, and we had a limited food budget for our household- all of these things combined made the move seem like a good thing. I stopped eating poultry in grad school, mostly because I gradually, and again unintentionally, lessened my intake, and after getting ridiculously sick after eating a turkey dog after not eating poultry for a month or two, I decided I would be done with poultry. I was never a huge fan of pork (except bacon, of course), so that wasn’t ever really an issue.

So I’ve never really intentionally made a decision to stop eating any of these things, but I’m glad I did. The more I’ve learned about factory farming and the food industry, the more I’m glad I don’t eat red meat or poultry, and, much to Ryan’s dismay, I don’t know that I ever will eat them again. But continuing to eat fish always made things seem easier- more options at restaurants, more meals to make at home that Ryan and I could share, less inconvenience when invited to someone’s house to eat. Also, I like fish. But the practices detailed in Eating Animals really made me rethink my fish consumption, and I’m actively considering cutting it out of my diet. It’s just that this time around, because I’m actively considering it, the whole process is so much different than when I gave up red meat and poultry.

On top of all this have been a few health-related things which indicate that limiting my intake of eggs and soy should be something I seriously consider, as well. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting to eat vegan at least a few days a week, but the soy thing makes that interesting, too.

So I don’t know what’s going to happen. We had salmon for dinner last night, and we have some incredibly tasty crab cakes waiting in the freezer for dinner some night, so the fish thing definitely isn’t a done deal. I want to be able to use the excuse that I don’t have the kind of time I’d like to eat the way I’d really like to, but I know that’s just an excuse. If I want to do this, I can. And so the question: to eat fish, or not to eat fish?

70 years ago today…

…the most amazing dad a girl could ask for was born. As any of you who read this blog probably know, my dad died unexpectedly a little over two years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time the past few weeks figuring out what I could do today to honor the day of his birth. I never really felt like I came up with the right thing…the closest I came was thinking about making a fancy dinner, but then I couldn’t find just the right thing to make. So, now I’m doing this- writing a little about my dad and how much I miss him and love him.

I think it’s safe to say that I still consciously miss my dad every day. It continues to be insanely bizarre to me that I can’t pick up the phone and talk to him, that he’s not there for our family’s Christmas gathering, that he’s…gone. As much as I’ve struggled in my relationship with God over the past 2+ years since my dad died, I have to say I’ve also never been happier to be a Christian, to believe with my whole heart I’ll see my dad again. I’m not sure how I would have made it through this far without having that to hang onto.

It feels insufficient to try to talk about my dad, whether it be through writings like this (and I’m admittedly not a great writer when it comes to this kind of stuff) or when I’m talking about him with friends or family- and especially with people who never knew him. He was just too big of a personality, too kind, too generous, too quirky to ever be able to convey that in words without having experienced him. I think sometimes about how I’ll try to tell my children about him; I so envy my siblings that their kids were able to know my dad.

I think in the same way I find it hard to talk about my dad, it’s hard to figure out ways to pay tribute to him. There’s no way there’s a one-off thing I could have done today that would have felt like enough. But when I think about my dad and who he was and the kind of dad he was, I realized I strive every day to pay tribute to him. I often think of what I do in the context of whether it would make him (and my mom) proud. I think my dad would be (and was) happy with who I (and my siblings) have become. What I can, and want, to do is to continue to live my life in a way that would make my dad proud of how his youngest daughter turned out.

One thing I did do today was make a donation to the Iowa Donor Network in memory of my dad. My dad always joked that he had so many wonky things that happened to his body (a broken collarbone from his basketball days that never healed right, etc.) that he was going to donate his body to science to stump the medical students. When he died, my mom made the amazing and perfect decision to have him be a donor, and the Iowa Donor Network was an amazing support to her in the days and weeks and months after my dad’s death. If you are not registered as an organ donor in your state, please consider doing so.

So Dad, I raise this drink (Shiner Bock- I get the beer side from my dad, the wine from my mom), to you…the most amazing dad, an incredible person, and someone I continue to love with my whole being. I miss you.

The Snowpocalypse Begins

We’re in for a heckuva snowstorm this weekend, with the forecast calling for 23-35 inches. 23-35 inches! I saw earlier today that Chicago has only had two 20+ inch snowstorms since 1886…and this is our second in two months!

Thankfully Ryan’s store will be closed tomorrow and we have plenty of food and drinks (and DVDs and CDs and yarn) to get us through. As long as we don’t lose power (knock on wood), we’re all set for getting snowed in. If only we didn’t have to shovel…


Our newest niece, Everly Suzanne Johnson. One month old today and cute as a button!

A Vision in White

One of the things I like best about having my office on Capitol Hill and a lot of meetings in downtown DC is that when I walk in just about any direction for more than a few blocks (which is quite often), I pass by things like the White House, the National Archives, the U.S. Capitol, and other really amazing places. One of my favorite places to walk past is the Newseum, which has glass cases in front where they display the front page of a daily newspaper from every state and several other countries every morning. I always take a look at the papers from the states in which I’ve lived (Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois), and see what else is happening across the country and world through a non-internet-based lens (I also highly recommend the museum, which is well worth the admission rate if you’re ever in DC).

But last night, the star of the evening for me was the Capitol. I decided to walk to my sewing class, which took me past the Capitol right when the sun was lowering behind the horizon. The colors of the sky were really gorgeous- enough so that these shots taken with my iPhone show pretty clearly how lovely the view was.

I miss the Midwest terribly, but moments like this make me remember what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to be where I am right now.