7 February, 2016  |   Comment

Mustard Season

In wine country, this time of year brings the runny noses, the deep coughs and the irritable allergy response from the pollen in the air.

And it’s glorious.

This weekend, we celebrated the Superb Owl by taking our yearly photos in the mustard flowers. This weekend, I watched my friend Kristen targeted by internet commenters about the way she shares her family online.

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The words we currently have for that kind of targeting, of relentless negative commentary sound like physical threats. When someone’s being targeted online, the words we have to describe it removes focus from what’s really happening.

Yes, it’s unlikely that that threat isn’t real, but my brain can’t yet distinguish between these internet threats and real life ones. 

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If I have 100 acquaintances, and 3 don’t like me, that’s normal. I can deal with that.

If I have a public internet presence with 100,000 visitors and 3,000 don’t like me and they tell me all about it every day, that’s not normal. I cannot deal with that. Even thought the math makes sense, my brain cannot handle the load of having 3,000 people not like me. My brain’s reaction to a perceived threat doesn’t scale like that.

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What do I deserve to get by putting up these photos of my children? What form of punishment is enough for me? When does the internet majority decide to turn on me? When will I get what I deserve?

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The network has outpaced my ability to process it.

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Maybe my kids will have an advantage. The advantage of a structure, of new neural networks, of language to describe it.

Maybe they’ll be less unkind online.

3 February, 2016  |   Comment

Helen Jane’s Granola Recipe

I feel like this should be said in the tone of the Law & Order beginning. (Indulge me.)

Every year, we make granola for our friends and family.
This is our recipe

Granola Jars, ready for filling.

This granola is perfect on thick yogurt. I’m currently loving it with blueberry Noosa, but you could love it with a Gogurt. I won’t judge, it’s your life, your yogurt.

Ingredients
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried peaches, chopped small

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350° F, and then cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer or mallet until they are smaller than pea sized, but not yet dust.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, almonds, salt and coconut flakes.

In a saucepan over low heat, mix canola oil, honey and vanilla until it is all well-blended and warm.

Combine the oatmeal and honey mixtures in the large bowl until it’s coated and spread onto the covered baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Then stir in your cup of dried peaches.
Stir a little more.
Let cool completely on the pan.

Then squinch up the granola from the big nuggets before adding to jars.

Happy granolaing!

2 February, 2016  |   Comment

Pluck it out

Dottie's taking it upon herself to pluck out some eyes

A few weeks before I quit the church*, the priest talked about that cheerful old passage from Matthew 18:9 with that golden nut, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” It’s a doozy, and easy to skim over if you’re not religious like I’m not religious. But something in his talk resonated with me. Since I have this internet weblog, I wanted to unpack it here.

Here’s the text he referred to:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it’s better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

Pretty brutal, no?

The priest went on to break it down. Where Jesus mentions “your hand,” he’s talking about your work, or where you get your power. If your work causes you to do shitty stuff, you’re better off having cut off your hands than doing the shitty stuff. At a basic level, doing shitty stuff for your work causes a special kind of hell in your heart.

“Enter life lame” refers to your motivation. If your motivation comes from a rotten place, if your motivation is spite, is anger, is vengeful, it’s better to have stumps below your ankles than the living hell those feelings incur.

“If your eye causes you to stumble” refers to your worldview — if your worldview is so horrible, that you aim to hurt people, it’s better to be one eyed. That hot, burny feeling of wanting to take away from others is a hell in itself.

Now I’m not going to argue theology with anyone. I have a spotty church record, and as I mentioned above, I quit that particular church. But I like where Jesus was going with this because it resonates so strongly with me.

  1. Work/Power – Having to come up with ideas to sell products I strongly oppose is awful. Yet, I can come up with excuse after excuse about how this is what I need to do to support my family (Uh, no it’s not).
  2. Motivation – I’m ashamed to say that spite TRULY is my main motivator. I find the extra wind beneath my wings by wanting to stick it to someone. Even more oomph comes if they really did me wrong. Spite is an effective motivator, but wouldn’t it feel better if I chose to go after my own goals? Enemies be damned? (Yes, yes I would.)
  3. Worldview – That hollow, hot feeling of wanting to watch someone lose everything? It’s something I’m well acquainted with. Especially as I watch the election stories this year, I see a lot of other people are cheering for others to lose too. Not lose a political race, but lose in life. And that feeling… that’s hell. (Who am I rooting for to lose? Why?)

Three cheers for this undefined spiritual lady applying some of that age old wisdom to herself. Avoiding hell, especially the hell in this world, has everything to do having a good life. I aim for a good life.

Jesus is just alright

* Usually, when you quit going to a church, you just quit going. No one mentions it again. But this church had good, curious people who wanted to know why. And so I told them. It rarely goes well when you tell anyone why you won’t do their thing anymore, much less church people. And that’s for another day.

1 February, 2016  |   1 Comment

February’s project

When I turned four, they gave me a typewriter

I guess I understand boomers now.

When I was in college, and those 40 somethings waxed on
about how music just isn’t the same anymore, man.
The spirit of music is just so hollow, man.
The zeitgeist doesn’t make sense anymore, man.

I couldn’t understand them, those Baby Boomers.

My response was always, like duh, things change.
Things curve towards my cute 20 year old body,
so get with the program, boomers.

And yet, here I am, paralyzed by the same thing on my internet.

I’m now a 40 something, waxing on,
about how the internet just isn’t the same, bruh.
We used to write truthful, charming updates about our lives, dude.
It was hella small and hella sweet, yo.

(BRB, taking a word shower.)

Here I am, saying, like duh, HJ, things change.
Things curve toward their cute 20 year old bodies,
so get with the program, culturally irrelevant lady.

And like I’ve found freedom in embracing my lumpy forty year old cultural irrelevancy, (LADIES, did you know it’s absolutely the best thing ever not to be catcalled anymore?) I find freedom in my internet old ladying.

So join me this month while I post my old-fashioned internet thoughts every day.
I’ll forget to post the share buttons and I’ll fail to properly promote my posts.
I’ll fumble the Snapchat and my images will be too big.
I’ll forget to apply all the best practices I use for my work to myself.

(And it’ll be a blast.)

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