31 October 2007

Playing the Game/Pumpkin Bread

Saturday was the annual professional organizers’ conference down in the Bay Area. While I normally dread conferences, I kinda like this one. It’s smaller than the national conference, and is attended by a number of organizers I know and like. Also, this being the San Francisco Bay Area, the flavor of organizers is more to my taste: more playful and hip.

I had put together and moderated a panel on Simple and Sustainable Organizing for this conference. The panelists discussed conscious consuming (issues to consider when making purchases), earth-friendly organizing products, recycling, and how to speak to our clients about being more “green.” We had a decent turn out, and not nearly enough time to answer questions. Given that I’m committed to living a fairly simple life – which extends to running a simple business – I was encouraged by the response to the panel. The more people living simply and consciously, the healthier the planet and its inhabitants can be.

After the conference, a few of us organizers went out for dinner. Walking back to the hotel afterward, I was talking with one of the more influential women in our industry. She commented that being focused on simplicity and environmentalism makes it hard for me to be mainstream. I responded that I don’t even try, to which she employed the Dr. Phil line of “And how’s that working for you?”

Ouch. Disapproval for not playing the game.

I told her, truthfully, that not being mainstream works fine for me. I live in a community that shares my values, and attract clients who appreciate my NOT being like all the others. I’ve had clients hire me because of the picture on my website where I’m bent over, feeding chickens. They were so relieved to find an organizer who didn’t look “professional,” i.e. citified and suited up for success.

Still, it’s lonely out here on the fringes. When asked if I’d rather “be like everyone else,” of course my answer is “no.” But it takes courage to stand firm in my difference, to be the outsider in my industry. Especially since, by normal standards (specifically, money made), I’m not “successful.” Eleven years in the business and I still have a light client load, still wonder how I’m making ends meet many months.

But money isn’t how I measure success. I’m living the life I want: waking up with no alarm clock to cuddle with purring cats and gaze out my window at trees; puttering around my beautiful little house in the mornings; having time to cook and write and read; eating well; spending time with friends and neighbors; making a real difference in people’s lives.

I’ve written before (I think) about how much joy I get, walking over to the neighbors to buy my eggs. A few weeks ago, Larry (the father) came by and insisted that we pick tomatoes before they rotted. Being good neighbors, we obliged. While filling our Farmers’ Market basket heaping with tomatoes, Larry further insisted that we pick a pumpkin from his patch. (Every year he grows a pumpkin patch that school children come to on field trips and pick pumpkins to take home.)

Today I cooked up the pumpkin. Six cups of it is in the freezer, waiting to be turned into pie for Thanksgiving (and maybe a soup sometime this fall). But some of it went into the following recipe. Which turned out pretty good, if I may say so…

By the way, you’ll notice it has wheat. The eating for my blood type (no wheat) made me feel like crap, so I stopped it some months back.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin-Cranberry-Pecan Bread

2 cups flour (½ whole wheat, ½ white)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (in that order of emphasis)

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add:
2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups puréed pumpkin
A splash of Triple Sec (optional)

Mix quickly to combine wet and dry ingredients.

Fold in:
1 cup chopped cranberries
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans

Pour into bread pan (this made two loaves when I made it)

Bake at 350 for about an hour, maybe longer. (I use the top-is-cracked-and-browned cue to determine doneness. Inserting a toothpick and having it come out clean works, too.)

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