Thursday, November 24, 2011

one finger sliding over glass...

Chestnuts: Cut an "x" on the flat side
This morning is Thanks-giving Day in the US. Here people are up early to cook and to prepare wonderful meals for friends and family, and this is my favorite American holiday. In addition to cooking and eating, we also reflect on the many things that we have to be thankful for. I have more than most. I was reading in the paper that the jailers of Carroll County are getting a raise. I am thankful to not be a jailer. In fact, being a woodworker, having a wood shop, knowing how to make beautiful and useful things, being given the opportunity to teach woodworking and write about woodworking have been great gifts, for which I am thankful.

My daughter Lucy is home for thanksgiving. Since she was away for college in New York City for the last 4 years, this is her first Thanksgiving to be home with us in that time. And so, as you can see, the real important values have to do with family, and with those things of greater value we can offer to our own communities. Believe it or not, those things take work. They don't come easy. Being a person who can offer lasting value to others takes more real work than we might have been led to expect.

We are doing some things in American education and American culture that concern me, that will undoubtedly undermine the potential for thankfulness in our children's futures.We give them pictures under glass to be manipulated by sliding fingers. Ease of use technology is a trojan horse of human demoralization. It makes things seem that they should all be as easy as one finger sliding over glass. Our children watch things happen on screens having barely lifted more than a finger to set things in motion. These things offer a false sense of agency in which no for real agency exists. Comparing that to less entertaining challenges of doing effort-filled-things in real life, our children tend to give up before having barely tried to do real work.  As their teacher in wood shop, I urge, "Now that you know how hard it is, try again." Ease of use is the anathema to human development.

Unless we give our children real challenges they will not know that it can take so much more than fingers sliding over glass to arrive at a place in which the best of thankfulness can be felt and measured as connected with the real stuff of which human life is made.

Boil 5 minutes so the shell and skin can be removed.
For Thanks-giving, I am the chief chopper and  number one dish-washer. Fox News reported that the Occupy Wall St. group at Zuccotti Park was hiding a "weapons cache" consisting of a butcher knife and cardboard tubes. Did they not know that knives are tools, not weapons and could be used to prepare for Thanksgiving? Only in the minds of pinheads can such idiocy exist...

In the photos above you can see the preparation of chestnuts. First cut an "x" on the flat and then boil them so they can be peeled. These will next be oven roasted and used in stuffing. These are locally grown Chinese chestnuts, as our indigenous variety of chestnut, the chinkapin, was lost to the chestnut blight that killed most of the native chestnut trees across the US.

Make pies, fix dinner, create friendships and loving relationships.... eat and feel thankful. Happy Thanksgiving...

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