Sunday, January 17, 2016

Old McDonald Had a Farm(Show)

It’s the annual event that dominates my local newspaper at the beginning of each year, and it’s come around again - it’s farm show time! It’s almost sad that I’ve lived in Pennsylvania nineteen years and only ventured out to Harrisburg for the PA Farm Show for the first time just yesterday.

Having grown up in an extremely rural area, agriculture and farms are familiar territory for me. However, it wasn’t until starting college at UD that I really got up close with the world of agriculture. Cows! Sheep! Chickens! As an animal lover, it’s no surprise that I found each as charming as the last.

So I was looking forward to the farm show for two main reasons: 1) animals and 2) food. If there’s any legacy I’ve heard of the state farm show it’s the menu. The rumor mill about the tempting array of food proved to be true: honey ice cream, pulled pork, battered vegetables, apple dumplings, crabcake sandwiches, milkshakes, roast beef sandwiches - the food court was truly overwhelming. I would be like “Ooh, I’m so getting one of those!” only to turn around and be like, “Oh, but I also want one of those!” and later, “Ugh, but I want one of those too!”. As an inefficient decision maker, it’s kind of a nightmare, but the exhilarating kind. For the record, my food purchases included a tasty roast beef sandwich and some vanilla honey ice cream (which, it turns out, is not honey flavored, by instead infused with honey, as well as topped with it).

I’d like to say I read each and every informative agricultural display and discussed agriculture with in depth with any of the many professionals at hand at the event, but I did not. My real interest lies in the furry participants in the PA farm show. My favorites included the alpacas and the sheep.

Ever since a particularly memorable middle school field trip to both a local alpaca farm and a local sheep farm, I have been rather infatuated with both animals. Alpacas have a certain sophistication that sets them apart from their relatives, llamas, in my opinion. They are smaller, and appear more plush and cuddly. In addition, from the ones I’ve met, they seem pretty docile and easygoing.

Sheep are just adorable. They always seem to be smiling to me, and their wool is so soft and fluffy, it makes me want to just curl up with them. The only negative association I have with sheep, presently, is an unpleasant scenario in which I was tasked with tackling, pinning, and trimming the hooves of a certifiably crazy ewe as part of an animal science lab (the glamours of being a Pre-Veterinary Medicine major). Nevertheless, I hold no grudges against the species as a whole...the sheep manager even admitted that this particular ewe was “the craziest sheep he’s ever met”. Plus, I got to cuddle with the most precious little lamb.
Maybe being a Pre-Vet major has its perks!
So I was quite pleased to observe all of the sheep relaxing in their pens, having been on display all week, with most of the excitement behind them. Alpacas, though not as abundant as the sheep, were dispersed throughout the exhibit halls, munching on hay and promoting their respective farms.

One subject I found interesting that I hadn’t expected to - beekeeping! The apiary section was intriguing to me. Bearing in mind how vital bees are to our ecosystem and their declining numbers, not to mention my uncertain future, I can picture myself keeping a collection of bees and producing my own honey products on a picturesque estate in Pennsylvania.

In fact, strolling through the farm show allowed my mind to wander to its past its limits. I’m currently in an agriculturally based major, so it’s no exaggeration to imagine my life working with some of the animals I admire. Perhaps a sprawling, grassy, sheep farm with a well-trained border collie to keep the flock in line? Or a charming little alpaca farm with a small collection of animals? A functioning apiary churning out quality honey products and combatting the extinction of honeybees? Each has a certain manifestation in my mind’s eye, though I can’t be sure how I would arrive at that stage. Until that mind-blowing epiphany that I’m expecting any day now about what to do with my life, these fantasies will just remain options on my ever-growing list.

Happy to have been part of the 100th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show!

Hugs and Wishes,


Friday, January 8, 2016

Money, Money, Money!

Ah, we are getting into the midst of frosty, bitter January - but the cold remains mild, and the only thing snowballing is the out-of-control Powerball jackpot. After Wednesday's amount went unclaimed, the prize continued to tumble and grow like a snowball to an all time high of $700 million (and still growing). Can I just say...WOW.

I have to confess, I’m eternally fascinated by the notion of winning the lottery, mostly out of curiosity. The idea of going becoming an instant multi-millionaire captures my imagination, as a hopeless dreamer. What does one even do with such colossal amounts of cash? Do you just slide over the Bath and Body Works gift card in your wallet to make room for the check? Buy a few extra cups of ramen to get you through the semester?

Presumably, I sought to answer just such a question some years ago, though on a considerably smaller scale. Hence my intricately drawn pie chart (thank you, elementary school for teaching me this invaluable skill) featured below. Designed by myself at the age of perhaps nine, I mapped out exactly how I would spend $1 million (I know, I know...pocket change. I don’t get off the couch for less than $100 million).

I would first congratulate my preteen self for setting aside half of my earnings for “future purchases” rather than purchasing one hundred and one dalmatian puppies (another dream I just as easily would have indulged). Moreover, even at a young age I knew college came with a price tag like an anvil.  Throw in some charitable contributions, generous allowances to each of my family members, and nifty bonuses for my friends, and the chart is mostly complete.

So how would it look multiplied by 700 and thrust forward a decade in time? I have trouble even speculating. That’s a lot of dough.

The more I think about suddenly being responsible for such a mind-blowing amount of money, the more I’m glad the odds don’t favor it happening to me. As vividly as I can imagine fun vacations, fancy clothes, and mountains of designers shoes, I can also fathom the betrayal, bitterness, resentment, exhaustion, and misery such a change would foster.

So while you won’t find me crunching numbers and busting out my savings to maximize my chances at the big win on Saturday, I do plan to enter at least once, just to be part of the hype. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be the 1 in 292 million. After all, I can be pretty lucky - I won a spring break gift basket in high school once, and I have the flamingo hat and Dunkin Donuts gift card to prove it.

May the odds be ever in your oh, no they really aren’t. Sorry.

Hugs and Wishes,


Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Puzzle Begins

Hello internet! My name is Larissa, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You’ll find me pictured below with my lovely editor, Jetta (she approved this post).
In the world of New Year’s resolutions that fall through the cracks, never to be realized, I hope to consider my own an exception, and so I’m putting my best foot forward and launching my own blog to illustrate my journey of self discovery as a vivacious young woman. 

I am many things, including visionary, imaginative, dreamer, friendly, animal lover, sister, student, writer, musician, goofball, night owl, dog mom, Scorpio, indecisive, passionate...I could go on. Perhaps I created this blog for no other reason than to record my own thought process throughout a crazy time in my life.

As a young adult, I’m knee deep in confusion and indecision as I try to figure out what to do with my life. Though I’m currently a first year college student (Go Blue Hens!), I the jury is still out, per se, on how Larissa should put her existence to use.

Which brings me to the title of this budding blog. Stemming from my semi-unhealthy passion for the Alice in Wonderland story, I adapted "The Great Puzzle" from the following quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!”

A puzzle, indeed. Shall I continue my pursuit of an animal science related career to soothe my passion for the furry? Go the newsy route and aim for journalism? Purchase a tent and adopt a hobo lifestyle? I’m figuring it out (or at least I’m faking it really well).

So come along on the journey with me! I don’t promise reports of space age alien battles or encounters with the rich and famous, but I do promise some interesting mishaps and tidbits will pop up within these pages.

Hugs and Wishes,