Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Burnt Oatmeal

Heh. I burned the oatmeal this morning. It reminded me of this post I wrote back in 2008. And it was a good thing as I unearthed it to re-read again. It's still true, so I'm gonna post it as a reminder to myself. Enjoy.

Yesterday morning I burned the oatmeal. This is not a new occurrence. Rather it is the norm. My friend Jane and the house hunk don't even find it a subject worth discussing as I always burn the oatmeal. You might ask why make oatmeal if you always burn it? Because I need to eat oatmeal. There's always enough unburned oatmeal to satisfy my needs.

Why does it burn? Mostly because I have too many things going on at one time. I set the timer and then immerse my concentration on some other project to the extent that I don't hear the timer. It burns. I scrape off the top layer and put the pot in the sink to soak. And move on.

Life is pretty full of burnt oatmeal. All those wrong turns and bad choices we make in life have consequences. How we handle the inevitable consequences determines what our life is like. We can wail and gnash our teeth and cry over our burnt oatmeal. We can beat ourselves up or blame some one else for calling us on the phone while our oatmeal was cooking. But the truth is that none of those things really address the fact that we still have burnt oatmeal.

Or we can salvage what we can, put the pan to soak, and move on. There will likely be a lot of pans of burnt oatmeal in our lives. If I waste time obsessing about the burnt oatmeal, that's time I've lost forever. Time I could have put to more constructive use. Oh yeah, and while I'm moaning and groaning the salvaged oatmeal is getting cold. Who wants to eat cold oatmeal?

There are things I can do to "pretty up" my oatmeal. I can add nuts, raisens, peanut butter, brown sugar, nutella, or cream. All of those make the oatmeal more palatable. And unless I tell someone, they'll never know that I burned the oatmeal. See? Life is what you make it--even burnt oatmeal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I've been pondering all the ways we identify ourselves. The primary identity is by gender. From the moment we are born--maybe even before we are born--our gender is the over-riding identifier. Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. Why? Is there some inherent reasoning there? If a male wears pink does it change his gender? Why pink? Why not orange or turquoise?

From birth we are surrounded in the trappings of 'male' or 'female'. Everything around us is appropriately color coded from coats to blankets to shoes to wallpaper and paint. Toys are gender appropriate, even when we are too young to know our own identity. Parents never say to their daughter, "When you grow up you'll be a fireman or a soldier." They don't urge their sons to be nurses or nannies or secretaries.

Later, gender identity determines behavioral expectations. Females are supposed to be modest, quiet, submissive, retiring, cooks, servants, baby makers with no opinions. I speak this truth from my position as a female. Sixty-seven years experience allows me to say this is not the veriest tip of the iceberg. Even at my age, there are expectations that I will cook, clean, do laundry, service my husband's pleasure--though we are both retired and have no commitments. It is a testament to his love that he doesn't sit back and do nothing, but pitches in to do his share.

Males on the other hand are supposed to be rough and tough, play sports, hunt, fish, learn carpentry, car repair, get a job, demonstrate their maleness by making inappropriate advances to women and drink beer. My goodness, that last is so important. When a male fails to reach one of the benchmarks, he is ridiculed and may have to defend himself physically because God knows having a brain is dangerous.

I wonder what would happen if we had one set of expectations for every child, regardless of gender? What if every child learned the same basic skills, played with the same non-gender specific toys, took part in the same types of sports? What if aggression was not acceptable behavior just because the child was male? What if females were encouraged to use their brains and leadership skills? How many generations would it take to reach the point when our gender identity wasn't our primary identity? Ten? Do you suppose ten generations would be long enough?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Vanishing Words

Those who follow me on Facebook know I'm currently reading through my collection of Georgette Heyer's novels. After finishing eight of them, I've reached certain conclusions. First, I miss the leisurely development of the story in modern romances. By modern, I mean the last fifteen years. Prior to that, most novels had a thorough development of the story--that meant not only a longer book, but a cast of characters the reader was invested in. In the current book I'm reading (Black Sheep), the entire cast of characters wasn't even introduced until Chapter Six. Contrast that with modern novels where the hero/heroines are already in bed with each other!

Second, I'm totally enjoying reading a book that doesn't dumb down to the reader. Over the years, so many women (in particular) have recalled reading their first Georgette Heyer book when they were in their early teens. Yet, there are many instances where both vocabulary and descriptions might be totally incomprehensible to the average young adult today. The point is...if you don't understand, then there is an opportunity to stretch your knowledge by looking it up. Do readers still do that?

Finally, I've been struck over and over by how many words we no longer use in our everyday vocabulary. I'm not referring to words like balderdash or lollygagging, but words like cross, dawdling, daresay, venture, and fritter. Everyday words. It seems to me our vocabularies are steadily dwindling as we strive to write for everyman or everywoman. Instead of tossing in the occasional unfamiliar word or phrase, we go out of our way to simplify it as much as possible. No wonder the modern romances are less and less satisfying. There's nothing that requires thought. I submit that just as we wouldn't want a diet of baby food, neither should we seek reading material that doesn't challenge us with new ideas, new vocabulary, and introduces us to the unfamiliar. How are we to stretch our vocabularies and our minds if we only read what we already know?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Drinking the Koolaid

In November 1978, 909 people (part of the James Jones cult) drank poisoned Koolaid and died. 304 of them were children. That's where the expression for blindly following an insane leader came from. Folks just shake their heads and wonder what kind of idiots would do such a thing. Who would blindly put their fate in another person's hands?

Well...the American people, apparently. Based on the voting so far and the fervent posts across social media, the people are anxious and eager to embrace the whole Koolaid scenario. I've studied each of the candidates (both Republican and Democrat) and except for the flavor of Koolaid they're pushing, there's not a whole lot of difference.

No one has stopped to ask what they're adding to their Koolaid. Instead, they're choosing their favorite flavor and going with the insanity. Unfortunately, I fear our children and grandchildren will once againa pay the price this time without having a vote. When did we turn into such a stupid bunch of sheep?

Step away from the Koolaid...before it's too late.