I adore Harriet Beecher Stowe’s use of squirrels and chipmunks to convey the ills of elitist classism and what it means to be a commoner vs an entitled lofty “genius” with airs. Stowe’s lampooning is cutting and brilliant; she distills complex issues of entitlement and value into a charming children’s tale. I’m sharing it with you here since it’s ageless, timeless and celebrates a special fictional chipmunk named Tip. The following is an excerpt from “The Nutcrackers of Nutcracker Lodge” contained within “Queer Little Folks” published in 1897. I’m totally a Tip and not a Featherhead! You’ll know what I mean after you read this enjoyable excerpt:Continue reading “Harriet Beecher Stowe, Social Class and Chipmunks”
I have too many bananas that ripened at once so I decided we’re going to have banana fritters for dinner. This simple, thrifty, gluten-free recipe was inspired by Ms. Ann Knight’s 1930s version in The Fellowship Cook Book by Members and Friends of The Second Congregational Church in Norway, Maine. These fritters are mini pancakes with a creamy texture and taste best when hot from the skillet. They have no refined sugars other than the optional dusting of powdered sugar for presentation simply because they don’t need any!
Lydia Marie Child was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, Native American rights activist, novelist, journalist, and opponent of American expansionism. She was also a New England housewife famous for her book published in 1829, The Frugal Housewife. The introduction offers a very interesting glimpse into how much has changed in our mindset since that time:
Any one who uses the term ‘menial’ is touched with intellectualism. There are no menial tasks.
“God will not look you over for Medals, Degrees or Diplomas, but for Scars!” -Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard
I’ve learned that time does NOT heal all wounds but God loves them and us! There can be beauty in a graceful brokenness when we use God as a crutch. But wait, isn’t needing a “crutch” a sign of weakness?! YES! Aren’t we weak when we’re left to only our own devices? I choose spiritual prowess over destructive earthly vices I’ve given up. I no longer feel ashamed about my scars, a shame which fueled a lot of my destructive crutches (smoking, drinking, overeating). I’m not ashamed to say I’m in recovery, my last drink being almost twenty-five years ago. I’m cool with not being cool. My deepest scars are invisible, although I do have, shall I say, an “oven kiss” on my hand I acquired while removing a lasagna from the oven last fall.
“A fear of disagreeable facts, and conscious shrinking from clearness of light, which keep us from examining ourselves, increases gradually into a species of instinctive terror at all truth, and love of glosses, veils and decorative lies of every sort.”
John Ruskin, 1887
If you’re not from Maine, you might think the above photo is of a homemade Mounds candy bar, and you’d probably be shocked to learn that they contain mashed potatoes in the coconut centers! You’re looking at a delicious traditional Maine candy called “Needhams” which have also historically been called “potato candy” or “potato fudge”. However, if you are from Maine and familiar with Needhams you may be surprised to discover that the modern version has gone far astray from yesterday’s healthier and more wholesome homemade versions dating as far back as 1924.
My experience from both sides of the “couch” has taught me that there’s nothing simple about PTSD nightmares. The things I tried in my teens and twenties–using food and alcohol to try and bury and drown them, sometimes to the point of blacking out, created new real-life nightmare scenarios. In my late twenties through my forties I was afraid to go to sleep; I averaged about five broken hours a night. When I did sleep, and the nightmares struck, I woke up extremely exhausted.
I wish I could say that I am now completely free of nightmares and experience restful sleep. The good news is that I have made incredible progress over the past couple of years. I have fewer nightmares, am not terrified of going to sleep and am making my peace with them.
Saturday was sunny and crisp. We left early for a day trip up coastal Route One to the charming town of Camden, Maine with stops in between; our first was the Maine State Prison Showroom in Thomaston.
What does it mean to be authentic? Does it mean that you have to share every passing thought, desire, opinion and passion with whomever will listen? Do you have to follow every fancy, eat whatever you’re craving because well, you gotta be you? Not for me, no. “To thine own self be true” is something I try and live every day which is not to be confused with self-centeredness, narcissism or lack of self-restraint. Sometimes it involves making life-altering choices; other times it’s seemingly inconsequential, however when such “little” decisions are strung together over time they look a lot like a lifestyle.
So why then do I sometimes feel like I need permission to be myself? And from whom does this permission need to come? What if it never comes to pass?