growing up, Home

Stand Facing the Stove

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The original edition of The Joy of Cooking apparently began with this instruction, the self-evidencial nature of which encapsulates for me the profound ambivalence I’ve always felt about spending time in the kitchen. While I have a great appreciation for well-prepared food, I also, like my mother, eschew most domestic duties.

She managed to put food on the table on a regular basis, but it didn’t come without a price; not just her iffiness about parenting in general, but a real ennui in regards to cooking. When she’d over-broil the 3 half-chickens for dinner, she’d laugh that “instead of Shake’n’Bake, we’re having Turn’n’Burn!” Unfortunately I adopted her habit of abandoning the kitchen in the middle of meal preparation and have scorched many a pot and burned many a pan of vegetables.

One evening when we were young girls my mother showed my older sister and me how to wash dishes after dinner. We did a pretty good job scraping, soaking, rinsing and drying, and then putting the dishes away, so I recall being surprised when our mother told us to do it again the next evening. “But we learned that already, yesterday!” Seeing the little smirk on my mother’s face, I was a bit horrified at the idea that I might be expected to do this every night for the rest of my life.

“Woman’s work is never done.” I think that was the hopelessness that pervaded my mom’s take on all housework – and one of the reasons she divorced my dad. She told me more than once that the moment she recognized that she was “done” with being married, she was on her hands and knees scrubbing the downstairs half-bathroom floor, realizing that, even though all of her daughters had weekly chores, nearly all of the daily domestic duties fell to her.

I recently purchased a new 6″ chef knife, to go along with my other knives – and I remembered that my mother never had ANY knives that look like these. And she never got the ratty old knife she DID have sharpened. She resisted housework tooth-&-nail, and could never bring herself to make it any easier – as if purchasing the right tools might be a show of weakening in her resolve to hate “woman’s work”.

I love my knives. They’re a gift I’ve given to myself. I’d have them even if I wasn’t married.

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religion

Our family bible

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As we were raised by two atheists, formal religious education in our family was meager. I recall a few visits to various churches (to appease grandparents, most likely) and a few months of Sundays with the Unitarians – my chief memories of which entail singing Die Gedanken Sind Frei and gobbling donuts following every service.  ART was our sole family religion – that is, until the appearance of the family bible, AKA “The Beecher Book”.

Beyond Success & Failure

My father originally came upon this book in 1969 and was so impressed that he got a copy for each of us children AND my mother, who was in the process of divorcing him. My dad totally bought into the book, which encourages taking responsibility for one’s own thoughts, words and actions. The Beechers’ exhortations to “put no one’s head above your own” and “live life on the grazing principle” were apparently comforting to my father, and we were expected to pretty much memorize the Adlerian psychology that inspired their writings.

It has been argued that “…we LEARN from failure. Failure is no reason to be ashamed. Failure shows leadership, innovation, and risk-taking in pushing the boundaries of what is possible… There is great value in examining our mistakes as we go beyond the easy and the simple.”  FailFaire

And that ALL of life is worth celebrating regardless of circumstances…

“Celebrate Victory: Celebrating victory is something that is pretty straight forward and it’s not something you need much advice for. But, one thing we sometimes forget to do is celebrate the smallest success..

Celebrate Defeat: There is a certain scene in the movie The School of Life… As a junior high basketball team is losing, the main character encourages the team to cheer and be happy even as they are getting their as@#$$# kicked. Then something interesting happens. The team actually starts winning. I realized yesterday that what causes this is the mind set of celebrating. Like attracts like and if you come from the mind set of celebrating, eventually you’ll have plenty to celebrate about.
Celebrate Success: Success is something that should be celebrated even when it occurs in small doses.

Celebrate Failure: There is no such thing as failure, just feedback. So, what you celebrate is the fact that you have learned something new.” Skool of Life

This blog is an attempt to make sense of the myriad adventures – including failures – in my life – and to somehow do justice to the family bible after all these years.

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