Facts And Friction

From the beginning, I have worked to improve my proficiency with the English language, simply to please me.  There was a time when I hoped that, by knowing the details and nuances, I would be able to communicate easier and more clearly.  As I added the study of psychology, I realized that my goal would never be attained.  Communication is two-sided.  It is not just what I say, and how clearly I say it, it depends even more on the mental filter of the person who receives the information.  What we “hear” is influenced strongly by what we already believe.  Democrats hear that Republicans are interfering fools.  Muslims hear that Jews are treacherous, heathen, baby-eaters.  Some Crackers still hear that Niggers are sub-humans.

This head-in-the-sand, hear only what makes you feel good, attitude extends across the entire social interaction spectrum, but is worst in the political and religious arenas.  Only a couple of years ago, “Global Warming” was the buzzword.  There were those who would have had our countries bankrupt themselves to solve this “manmade” problem.  Steadily though, it was found that – this study was flawed – that report was biased – this data was manufactured….by Believers who wanted us, to believe as they did.  Now, “Climate Change” is the new term, and Nature is the culprit.  It seems that the Chicken Littles were a bit overzealous.  The handbasket isn’t heading for Hell quite as fast, and mankind’s actions aren’t pushing it as hard as they claimed.

My current computer skills are pretty much limited to, Push On button, Poke keyboard randomly, Hope for the best.  Thirteen years ago they weren’t even that good, so I didn’t have enough information to evaluate the Y2K threat.  It seemed to me though, that the panic was being propagated by the usual gullible, who will believe the worst, at the best of times, and the guys selling bottled water, MREs, and Honda generators.  The year 2000 came and went with only a whisper, and lots of want-ads for cheap generators, “Never used.”

The ones who saddened me the most, were the Good Christians, convinced of the imminent return of their savior because of some arbitrary number.  The first problem with their belief was the fact that they couldn’t count.  The end of the second millennium was the end of the year 2000, not the beginning.  That’s why the title of Arthur C. Clarke’s book is 2001, A Space Odyssey.  Christ’s birthday isn’t on Dec. 25th.  Even if it were, the rapture would occur on Christmas, not the following New Year’s Day.

The next problem was, the calendar-keeping monks in the Middle Ages couldn’t count either.  They lost a bunch of years.  Best scientific estimate is that Jesus was born on April 16, 4 BC, so the Millennium had already come and gone like Y2K, quietly, un-noticed.

One day at work, there was a mechanical problem with some of the equipment and the line was down while Maintenance repaired it.  Four of the women, all in their twenties, huddled around an inspection table, deep in discussion about something.  After a while I wandered over to hear what had them so engrossed.  I thought maybe someone was having a baby.  I heard, “I go to Our Lady of the Off-ramp, and say a hundred Hail Marys.”  “Well, I go to the Sacred Heart of the Down-town Butcher, and say two hundred Our Fathers.”  Another says, “Oh!  I go to the Blessed Sacrament of Veterinarians, and say five hundred Novenas.”  They’re all worried about the anticipated return, and working like Hell (Oops), to get off the naughty list, and onto the nice one.

The Newfy girl, who lived down the street from me, looked up and asked what church I went to.  I told her I didn’t, because I don’t believe in churches.  “Well, if you don’t believe in God, where do you think we go, when we die?”  I didn’t say I don’t believe in God, just that I don’t believe in Churches.  “Why not?”  Because they’re full of consistently wrong people like the one who just misinterpreted my answer, and who want me to live my life according to their mistaken opinions.  I regaled them with the above information about incorrect dates, to lift their fears.  Deer in the headlights time.  It never occurred to them that they might be wrong, and I could almost feel the denial.

I should have stopped there and shut my mouth.  I should have known better, but, the question had been asked, so I answered it as I saw things.  Her mental picture of Heaven was different from mine and from each of her three friends, and the official Church view, so, if she went to Heaven, it wouldn’t be what she anticipated.  Science, often declared an enemy of the church, even when it doesn’t want to be, says that there are dimensions that we humans don’t experience.  Perhaps when we die, that’s where we go to live(?), and meet God.

Then I committed my worst faux pas.  I suggested that, when we die, maybe we just die.  She persisted, “But where do we go?”  Like Spock, from Star Trek, it was an exercise in pure logic, but neither she, nor the other gals was ready for it.  They wanted reassurance, not logic.  I answered, “Maybe, like the light, we just flicker out, and don’t shine anymore.”  I could have kicked their puppy and they wouldn’t have looked as sad and disappointed.

I felt badly for them, and sorry for upsetting four already apprehensive young women.  Any of my readers who are disturbed by this tale, please remember, your belief (opinion) is as valid as mine.  I only ask for the right to hold my opinion until God tells me it’s wrong.

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One Lovely Blog

Apparently there is another infectious round of chain-letter awards circulating on the blogosphere.  Ted over at SightsandBytes  http://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/ afflicted me with….graciously passed on to me, the One Lovely Blog Award.  I often see these awards being given to relatively new bloggers.  I got my first when I had produced only fourteen posts.  I’m up to fifty now – a seasoned old hand.  I can only hope that they are given to newbies who show a scintilla of talent, as an incentive to keep them writing and improving.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.  I humbly thank Ted for prodding the arthritic old bear to bang on the keyboard more creatively.

Having completed the onerous job of displaying basic good manners, my next task is to list seven pieces of information about myself, to instill a little interest, and prevent injuries when readers doze off and slump onto the keyboard.

  1.  I rode 7 motorcycles over 20 years, totalling two of them with little more than bruises.  The last one, I fell over sideways at 3 MPH.  The bike could easily have been repaired, but I got a bionic shoulder and a busted wallet.
  2. We have four beautiful Bengal cats, and a dumb wheaten/schnauzer/poodle dog.  The dog is at the bottom of the pecking order.  There are so many cat toys strewn over the floors that it looks like we’re babysitting a bunch of three-year olds.
  3. After years of rotating shifts, now that I’m retired, I sleep at 4AM and rise at noon.  I hate morning TV but can find late-night movies or go blogging.
  4. I used to be outdoorsy when I was younger, but allergies seem to be getting worse.  We installed central air conditioning and a high-efficiency furnace with an electronic precipitator filter and stay inside as much as possible.
  5. If you read my blog about scratch-cooking, you know that I’m at least a bit of a cook.  Like Ted, I’m not much of a recipe follower.  It’s hard to screw up chilli.  If the dish requires precision, like a cake where one extra drop of milk makes a difference, I let the wife show off her talents.
  6. I prefer to deal with problems broad-spectrum.  I get as much information as I can and make and change decisions as the situation demands, rather than be saddled with an inflexible manual.
  7. I hate making out lists, especially about myself, so I’m glad that this is the last item.

I haven’t set up a blogroll yet, although I now read quite a number of interesting, entertaining and informative blogs.  I also feel that these blog awards can get out of hand and try to stop them before Marvin the Martian says, “Where’s the Ka-boom?  There should have been an Earth-shattering Ka-boom!”  If I’ve commented on your site, be assured that I feel that you are interesting enough to deserve this award as much or more than I do.  If you’d like one, feel free to belly up to the all-you-can-write blog buffet and drop one on your Chinet plate, to display on your very own site.

This blogging thing just keeps getting better and better.  Thank-you to all the kind, friendly, inspiring bloggers who have shared their lives and experiences, and shown me the way.  I will continue to try to earn your respect, and pass it on to those who come behind us. 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

The son and I were discussing a subject the other day, something we’ve been aware of for some time.  Once you die, nobody is supposed to say anything negative about you.  In fact, when someone dies, the survivors go out of their way to find something, anything, nice, to describe the deceased.

The people I’m talking about are usually ones we’ve read about in the newspapers, so the term, ”Known to police”, often applies.  You can abuse your wife and kids, kick your dog, throw rocks though your neighbor’s windows, screw hookers, and die by being run down by a big-rig while wandering down the middle of a road in a drug and alcohol-induced fog, and someone will still be quoted as saying, But in his entire life, he never once parked in a handicap spot.

Case in point, a body was found in a local park.  Two days later, the papers report that a male has been arrested and charged with manslaughter.  So far, nothing unusual.  The papers don’t give names, so the dead guy could be Bob, or, Nkwumbe.  But then, the guy named Bob gets easy, cheap bail, and Nkwumbe‘s relatives start wailing.  Black guy is killed and white guy gets out, it’s racism!  Two days later, about a hundred people, mostly South Sudanese, but with some whites among them, march on city hall.  Why city hall?  They acknowledge to the local paper, that they played the race card too soon, but now wish to complain that the police aren’t providing them enough information.  March on the police station.  See how long that lasts.

Bob says, he and his girlfriend were walking through the park, and the black guy accosted them with a replica pistol and tried to rob them.  He dug into his backpack, pulled out a knife, stabbed the black guy once, and they ran for it.  Nkwumbe’s mother and sisters insist that he would never do such a thing.  He just got out of jail after serving four months for assault, but, he was turning his life around.  He’s a good boy now.  Yeah, right!

I’m going to keep an eye on this story.  Even assuming that the black guy actually was the deserving criminal we believe he is, there are a couple of questions I have about the white “victim.”  If he really thought that the gun was real, how did he have the time and the presence of mind, to dig in a backpack, for a knife that he just happened to be carrying?  If he knew the gun was a fake, how and why did he get close enough to kill the black guy with one stab?  Having stabbed him and run for their lives, why didn’t they report the altercation to the police?  There’s more to this than meets the eye but, if Nkwumbe was at home on the couch, minding his own business, his mama wouldn’t have to whitewash a black man.

In another case of not taking responsibility for one’s actions, we have a man in Toronto on trial for murder.  He and his buddy, both crack addicts, were roaming the streets, when they encountered a man at an ATM.  They staggered over to harass the guy, and his friend sucker-punched him.  They giggled, and lurched on down the street.  Here’s where it went bad.  Like the Zimmerman guy in Florida, who shot the Negro kid after being told by police to ignore him and not get out of the car, the victim got four of his buddies from a bar and went out to find them.

Five drunks against two crack-heads, not good odds or conducive to a good ending.  They caught up to them at a pedestrian tunnel, where crackerbox bashed his head with a brick, and then stomped it several times, killing him.  Trying to beat the murder rap, he’s playing it as self-defense.  He claims that, after he hit him with the brick and knocked him down, the guy trying to stumble back to his feet constituted a danger, so he stomped him.  It was all spur-of-the-moment.  The victim’s grandmother asks, if it wasn’t premeditated, why did he have a brick?  It might have just been lying on the ground.  I know, if five guys approached me, at night, in a tunnel, I’d be looking for something too.

Now he’s trying to get sympathy, and lighter sentencing, from the judge.  His lawyer cited a difficult childhood and a troubled life.  He’s abused booze and drugs since he was nine.  Just once, I’d like to hear one of these guys admit, “My Mom and Dad were fine, I’m just a shithead.”  He’ll probably find Jesus in jail.  Why is it that so many jerks give their life to God, only after f**cking it up so badly, that nobody else wants it?

Meanwhile, it turns out that the victim, who was partying in a bar, and then went out looking for trouble with four of his friend, and found it, was an award-winning hockey player who was about to start a job with a Boston legal firm in three days.  And he liked kittens, and helped old ladies across the street.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

My daughter is a spinster. Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s a lot of single women these days. Well, my daughter is single, but I meant that in the literal sense. Unlike Rapunzel, she can’t spin straw into gold, but she does spin a variety of materials into some very nice artisan yarns and threads.

My son suffered from some psycho-social problems, which meant he didn’t leave home after he graduated from high-school. He didn’t get a job for over ten years. Instead he was our majordomo. He vacuumed and dusted, mowed grass and shovelled snow, helped with laundry, ran errands and did a lot of the cooking while the wife still worked. The daughter had an independent streak and was already out on her own when he failed to launch. Unlike the three of us loners, she has a big list of friends and acquaintances.

She had several jobs, including living on a farm and tending horses. She suffered numerous non-work-related accidents which pretty much ruined both of her knees. After giving birth to her son, at home, in a cleaned and sanitized bathtub, with the assistance of a friend and two mid-wives, she lived on mother’s allowance until the government announced some major changes in social assistance which forced her to work with her doctor to qualify for the disability benefits.

She/we found that the numerous physical shocks like that, can cause fibromyalgia, a neurological affliction which can cause great pain and weakness. Doctors are a little more aware of it now. Back then it took two years to diagnose. First they thought she had chronic fatigue syndrome, yuppie disease. Then they felt she might have Lupus. They all appeared similar, which turned out to be unfortunate, as the treatment she received to deal with what they thought was Lupus, made the fibro worse for her. On her “good” days she only requires one forearm crutch, worse days take two, and bad days have her moving in a power wheelchair, if she can get out of bed at all.

She has become very computer-able because of being stuck inside so much. She has a friend who has a less intense version of the illness, and also spends a lot of time indoors, with four kids. To bleed off the stress, she took instruction in spinning yarn, and then taught my daughter, so that she would have something therapeutic and constructive to pass time with. There is just something so mindlessly calming about spinning, it is meditative to both the spinner and watcher alike, and the results are pretty too.

The daughter is now on her third spinning wheel. She sold number two, added money and bought number three. This one is a double-treadle model so that she can run it with both feet. The friend saved like mad and bought a custom wheel from British Columbia. It has six gears, like a bicycle. Even in second gear, it spews out yarn so fast she can barely keep up. She can’t imagine anyone fast enough to run it in sixth gear. She does fun, interesting stuff, like dying the yarn with Kool-Aid powder; it can produce some bright colours.

The daughter has learned a couple of ways to spin yarn without the wheel, including the use of a drop-spindle [she has 12 of them, 6 of which she made herself]. This is a system for making yarn & types of rope that was used before artisans began to build spinning wheels. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show them using this method.  Evidence has been found in archaeology sites that have dated spinning going back much farther as well.

The daughter spins a variety of material, fibres like wool, mohair [fibre from goat], alpaca, llama, Qiviut, buffalo, yak, camel, cashmere, silk, dog, cat & rabbit furs. Other fibres [either natural or processed] she has spun are cotton, flax, ramie, soy silk, bamboo, viscose, nylon and even milk weed fluff.

Did I say dog? Yes, any long fine fibre can be spun. A client’s poodle-cross was getting older, so she saved several trimmings, and the daughter spun it to yarn. The dog is gone, but the mitts live on. One of her closest friends has a poodle and they have saved his coat like a mini lamb’s fleece and several years’ worth was mixed with wool, spun into yarn and knitted into a lovely shawl. They are still saving his yearly ‘fleece’ in hopes of being able to make another project in the future.

My wife’s niece, who is also our massage therapist/osteopath, used to do a major grooming of her Malamute twice a year and she had saved two years’ worth of the clean fur. The daughter spun it with some lamb’s wool, and the wife knitted her a headband and a pair of mitts out of the yarn. The new Jack Russell terrier chewed a hole in the headband, but the daughter found a small amount of the fibres used in the original yarn, spun up another small batch and the wife dismantled the headband and repaired it.

I can barely play the radio. It’s the wife and daughter who are the creative ones. We tend to do certain things the old-fashioned way, if only to keep the skills in use. The daughter used mid-wives and home-birth for her son. She can spin and weave. She and the wife both knit and both crochet. The wife learned how to tat, which is the hand-production of lace, with tiny knots.

The co-worker who showed her how, was not a good teacher. There are slip-knots which must be rotated, so that they will slide to produce a loop. She didn’t explain this to the wife. We went to visit my parents for a weekend, and the wife was getting frustrated. She knew something was wrong, but not what. I had done a little study of knot theory, so I asked her to describe the problem. I had to go and get an eight-foot, heavy, black, telephone lead cord, so that she could see large-scale, what had to happen in miniature, but the light finally went on. Now when someone asks her who taught her to make lace, she claims I did.

The wife says that, sometimes she feels stupid when the son and I are discussing esoteric subjects like super-string theory, black holes, or just the precise usage of the English language. Both of us though, bask in the reflected glory of both these creative ladies’ abilities.

The daughter blogs as LadyRyl, http://ladyryl.wordpress.com/, and has an on-line catalogue of beautiful, hand crafted yarn, and some items already knitted or crocheted from it. I think it’s easily as pretty and useful as SightsandBytes’ sister’s glass jewellery. Perhaps some of the ladies might wish to have a look at it, and be as impressed with some old-fashioned productivity, as I am. On-line payment and shipping are available.

Home Sweet Home

SavortheFolly wondered what it was like, growing up in a small town.  She seems, sadly, to have left the blogosphere.  We can only hope that things turn out well for her and she returns at some future time.  For her, and for the rest of my readers who don’t doze off, I present this little trip back in time, to see what shaped little Archon into what he is today.

The road to “different” and “loner” probably started on the property, and, in the house where I was born.  When I was born, there was no hospital in my town.  I was astounded to discover that, because, diagonally across the corner from my house, was a hospital.  I was born at home, because at that time, the “hospital” was a summer tourist lodge.  It failed, financially, when I was a couple of years old, and the town seized it for back-taxes and converted it.

Three years after I was born, my mother went to a birthing home in the next town, a week before her due date, to give birth to my brother.  She said it was actually a horrible experience.  There were no TVs and no radios.  The drapes were always drawn, and the expectant mothers were expected to remain quiet and in bed.  You could cut the boredom with a butter-knife.  Immediately after giving birth, women who hadn’t moved a muscle for a week or more, were expected to get up and go home.  If Dad hadn’t held her up, she said she’d have collapsed on the floor.

Ours was an older neighborhood.  I was the only non-teen child for two blocks in any direction.  My ten-year-older half-sister managed to fit in, but I learned how to play by myself.

Our property consisted of three building lots, two on the main road and one across the back, on the side street.  When I got old enough to help, there was a vegetable garden, a flower garden in front of it, and a huge lawn to mow with a manual push mower.  Our property was unique in the town, and possibly in all of Ontario, in that, of home properties with trees, ours was the only one without a single maple tree.

We had two poplar trees.  We had three mountain ash, two elm trees, two lilacs, planted before I was born and grown to almost tree size, and a horse-chestnut.  I don’t know how we got the horse-chestnut.  It’s native to southern Asia.  All those great big nuts, and they were bitter and poisonous.  At least we could throw them at each other and mount them on strings, to play conkers.

Dad sold the lot on the side street.  Years before, it had been a farm orchard with apple and pear trees.  All of those were dug out except two pear trees at the back edge of our lot.  Eventually these too, died.  Dad cut off all the branches, leaving two trunks about six feet tall.  He strung a steel cable between them for an auxiliary clothesline.  No dryers, back then, or Laundromats, you washed clothes at home and hung them outside, to dry.

We had tax records of “barn and sheds” from 1848, and “house and sheds” from 1852.  The house was built somewhere in those four years.  We were only four blocks off the retail district, but this had been a farm.  The foundation of the house was three feet thick, built with the stones taken from the tilled fields.  The basement beams that held the house up, were roughly squared elm trees that had been cut down to clear fields.  The bark was still on some sections of them.

When piping was installed for the kitchen sink, it was put right up against the stone foundation, to reach the sink, mounted on the outside wall.  If we had a particularly cold winter, sometimes the pipe, (cold water only at that point) would freeze, and Dad would have to go down to the basement with a blowtorch or real torch, made of an old shirt on a stick soaked in lighter fluid, and thaw it out.

There was a full? basement under only half the house, and it was only about five feet tall, to the bottom of the beams.  The floor was bricks.  We were up on a hill, thirty feet above a large pond a block away, and fifty feet above Lake Huron, but, apparently the water-table was high.  We lifted a few bricks, and the holes started filling with water.

The ceilings in all the rooms were twelve feet high, almost impossible to heat.  One room at a time my father and a friend put in false ceilings to the top of the windows, only eight foot-six.  We punched a hole in the upper wall of the attic stairway, and my brother and I crawled out on the new ceiling and broke holes between the studs on the outside wall, and poured in loose fibreglass insulation.  The first room we did was during a hot summer, so we wore only shorts and sleeveless shirts….and ITCHED for days.  As we did each successive room, we learned to wear long clothing.

When I was about eight, Dad had installed a propane water heater.  Till then, water for laundry or baths was boiled in a couple of huge copper pails, on a wood-burning stove, even in the summer.  A couple of years later Dad had a propane furnace installed.  We’d had the wood-stove in the kitchen and a coal-fired “furnace” in the living room.  One year we had a thaw and then a refreeze.  When it thawed the second time, water poured in through the stone foundation and burned out the new furnace.  We still had the wood stove, but it was a cold couple of days till we got the water pumped out and the new furnace repaired.

In the winter, it was cold enough in the mornings to see my breath, in my bedroom.  I would often grab my clothes and run into the living-room and stand beside the now red-hot furnace and hold my clothes up to warm them, before I put them on.  One day, I shucked off my pyjama bottom and went to put on my undershorts, and caught my toe and fell sideways.  I left the skin from one ass-cheek on the furnace.

There are portions of my childhood that I wish were still available to me, but there are as many, or more, that I’m just as glad are long gone.  Vive technology.

In Search Of Truth

Some people claim that they’re in search of truth.  Others don’t even bother to make the claim.  All too often, the impetus and the result are the same.  Most folks don’t want the truth.  As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.”  What they really want, is for their opinions to be validated and for others to agree with them and make them feel good.  Even when the truth is presented to them, they keep denying it and pushing it away, because, that’s not what they want to see.

At my daughter’s housing complex, they’ve had some incidents occur which led the board to decide to install electronic security cameras, around the office area.  One of the cameras was to be trained on the children’s playground, right beside the office.  Most reasonable people would agree that, protection of the kids would be a good idea.  A secondary reason for that camera was that, one of the male teens from the complex, and two or three of his non-resident friends are thought to be climbing over the playground fence, and dropping out of sight into the tiny yard behind the office.  They’re probably smoking dope, and the camera can’t see them, but would provide evidence if a fire started, or damage was done.

A female living across the driveway high-jacked a board meeting last week.  She found out that the cameras were going up and started ranting about spying on the children and looking in her windows.  She went around to many of the residents and told them that they must attend the important meeting.  She just didn’t tell them what it was all about.  When most of them found out what the issue was, they shrugged and left.  One woman, who she thought would support her, stated that she felt the security was a good idea, especially for the kids.  That led to a loud, nasty confrontation.  Even when she was told that the cameras would only be turned on from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. and was offered to view the feed from the “offending” camera, she refused the offer, and continued her rant.  Purely coincidentally, the next day, the camera was damaged, when it wasn’t turned on.

In a minor grandstanding play, to seem as if he’s doing something when he’s really not, the Premier of Ontario instructed the Minister of Education, to order the individual boards of education, to facilitate the formation of gay/straight alliance groups in all high-schools.  The bullying of gays is a serious subject, but it is not the only aspect of school bullying, nor, perhaps, is it the most important facet of the problem.  It is, however, the one the Premier wants to champion.

The public school boards quietly, efficiently, obediently went along with the directive.  They know which way the wind is blowing, and when the photo-ops arrive, they want to be seen to be on the side of goodness and right.  The Catholic school boards, however, have been more of a problem.  Some of them are reluctantly willing to have the groups formed.  It’s just that they can’t have a name which includes the word gay.  They can have a mix of straights and gays.  They just can’t say they have gays in them.

The local Catholic board has still not got around to authorizing formation, largely due to one particular male board member.  He was interviewed by a reporter for the local paper to give his reasons for the foot-dragging.  His response was, that if these groups were allowed to form, they would just devolve into giant gay sex orgies.  That’s right, groups that would prevent bullying by ignorant, prejudiced individuals, are prevented from forming by an ignorant, prejudiced individual in a position of power.  It seems that someone might have pointed out his baseless, paranoid position, because the next sentence in his quote was, “Even if they don’t, there’ll be talk about perverted stuff, like anal and oral sex, and I don’t want my kids hearing about that kind of thing.”  Fine, then tell your kids not to join the groups that others wish to form.

The Catholic Church vs. Girl Scouts.  Over the past several years, there has been friction between the Church and tween girls.  The Church has, on several occasions, claimed that the organization supports birth control and abortion.  These charges have been vigorously denied.  Despite being shown that these charges are false, in several dioceses and instances, representatives of the Catholic Church continue to fling the same old mud.  Recently a Bishop in Indiana has called for denunciation of the group under the same baseless charges.  The attacks themselves are difficult enough to fend off and maintain dignity.  The membership of Girl Scouts has declined from 3.3 million, to 2.6 million young girls in America.

Many Girl Scout troops are currently using rooms in Catholic churches for meeting halls.  If The Church divorces them, (Oops!  Can’t say divorce and Catholic Church in the same sentence!) they will have to try to find alternative meeting places.  Also, a million of the girls left in troops are Catholic.  They will be forced to decide whether to leave their religion, or their uplifting group of friends.  I know which one I would choose, but then, I’m an old and greatly experienced curmudgeon.

It is sad that people like these, choose to practice and enforce their mindless dogma, rather than deal with imperfect, undesirable facts.  There’s an adage that, “If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses.  Just don’t try to ride them.”  These folks already have out the boots, spurs, Stetsons and lassoes, but it’s us they’re riding.  It’s time for us to tell them to get off our backs.

Lazy And Incompetent

Perhaps my title should have been, Busy and Incompetent.  I heard, years ago, that as technology evolved, we would all have more free time, to pursue hobbies and studies and things like that.  It seems though, that as we acquire more and more technology, we have less and less time for ourselves.  I know that, as I spend more time, with more blogs, my reading has decreased.  One of the parts of life to take the greatest hit from busy-ness, seems to be cooking and food preparation.  People have not been taught, or don’t remember, or simply don’t care to, take the time and effort to prepare food from scratch.

My son was amazed in a store the other day, to encounter, pre-cooked bacon, hence, the title of this blog.  How lazy and incompetent have people become, that they can’t even fry bacon?  There’s more than that to the equation.  Folks don’t want to get grease-spatter burns, or messy stoves, or indelible marks on their clothes.  There’s even the question of what to do with the rendered fat when you’re done.  Personally, I keep a clean soup can in the fridge and pour the grease into that, and let it cool.  Then we use some for things like frying French toast or, as we did tonight, create a roux, and add a can of beef broth to make “stone” gravy for perogies.  That can of broth is short-cut cooking for us.  I can almost hear the younger crowd.  “Create a roux?  What the Hell’s a roux?  Make gravy?  Screw that, open a can.”  We “used to” make perogies from scratch, but it’s a four-hour process.  We’re becoming like others, now we buy them ready-made in boxes.

For many people, everything, including food, has to be fast and easy.  Hamburger Helper has a series of ads where they urge you to cut up and add veggies and spices to “personalize” the basic pot of slop.  A lot of folks don’t even know how to cut stuff up, or what spices are, although HH assists them by showing a bottle of Tabasco Sauce.  Studies show that one out of every three meals in America is consumed outside the home, and that doesn’t include delivered stuff, like pizza or Chinese.  Think of that folks, breakfast, lunch and dinner, an average of one of those meals every day, for every person, is purchased.  You guys are dining out way too much.

One of the females in my blog-circle was in awe of her neighbor, who made fresh cookies.  “Even if I had the time, I wouldn’t know how.”  One of the reasons I’m overweight, is that, all three of the adults in this house, know how to cook.  My mother taught me, and my wife taught the son.  We all have our specialties.  I make stuff like homemade pizza, pasta and chili.  I also serve as a great prep-chef and bus-boy.  I will peel and grate and chop and get out spices and milk, etc.  Then the wife comes over and assembles something and leaves a mess, and I clean it all up, just in time to enjoy Black Forest Cake, or a stew from Kenya.  I get a little OCD about cleaning up.  Sometimes I put stuff away, that hasn’t been used yet.

When she was raising our kids, and babysitting for the busy working mothers of the neighborhood, the wife watched TV shows like The Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child or Wok with Yan.  We have almost 20 cookbooks, including a three-ring binder with computer printed pages of preparation and cooking instructions, and recipes from around the world.  That’s why I said that the neighbor probably enjoyed, what to us, was a simple meal.

We continue to purchase things like mustard, relish, ketchup and HP Sauce by the gallon, at Costco.  I wash out the empty squeeze bottle from the fridge and fill it again and again, from the big container.  I can purchase the big container for the cost of two or three of those handy-dandy little ones and get 10 or 12 refills.  All it takes is some time, energy and patience, things many people in today’s busy world don’t have.  It even cuts down on garbage and recycling.  Then we take the money we saved and drive north to the Mennonite farmers market and buy top-grade fresh produce, to make some more yummy waist-stretchers.

Come Christmas-time, we make about a hundred dozen bite-size cookies of about ten varieties, and one or two soft, moist, yummy Christmas cakes.  We give away the lion’s share to our chiropractor, his wife and kids, and now a couple of new husbands.  They have been exceptionally nice to us over thirty years.  They have established a Christmas-morning ritual breakfast of tea and our cookies and cake, as they open presents.  They still respond by giving us far more as gifts than we feel is justified.  This past Christmas they bought us our membership to Costco.  My ever-anchored son pointed out to my wife that, if they went to the Mennonite market and purchased the amount we give them, the cost would be well over $200, and the quality would be nowhere as good.

The highlight of the presentation, especially for the now-adult children, is individually hand decorated/iced sugar cookies.  Bells and wreaths and stars, hand-painted with different colored icing, with various-shaped decorations added.  Then the artistic wife, and especially daughter, use the colored icing to “paint” sugar-cookie men and women to resemble each of them.  They put in suits, jogging outfits, and for each of the girls and their new husband, a wedding gown and tux.  All of them get their name added in dark icing.

When we deliver the largesse, it’s like watching It’s A Wonderful Life, in real life.  These “kids” are now all into their twenties, but the eyes sparkle and the smiles glow.  They are just SO glad to receive their hand-made, personalized gift.  It’s a Hell of a lot better than that “personalized” Hamburger Helper.  It’s such a shame that so much of the good, old ways has been left behind by so many of today’s busy, stressed citizens.