Pancakes

Reading a recent post by Sala, on her grandmother and food, got me thinking about pancakes. Like most boys, my brother and I weren’t really that interested in cooking. We could do cereal in the morning, sandwich at noon, but anything else was strictly in the “where’s Mom? I’m hungry” category. Except for pancakes, an occasional weekend treat at our home. Maybe because it involved a hot griddle, maybe because we’d get to help my Dad cook them, maybe because we’d been up since 6am watching cartoons on a Saturday morning and couldn’t understand why the parental units didn’t jump up out of bed at 7am to get breakfast going (Geez, the nerve of those people!).

In any case, we’d jump to help with the preparation. Flour was first up. That had to be sifted through a hand sifter that had a handle you squeezed to rotate blades inside. There were screens inside the sifter, to not only sift the flour but also probably to protect the fingers of curious kids like us. The flour was sifted onto wax paper to collect it, as well as on to other parts of the counter, the floor, and the “chefs”. Looked like a White Christmas sometimes in that kitchen. Then it went into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients, to be mixed with a hand held electric mixer. Since this was a power tool, and we were guys, we did our duty and tried out all speeds and angles. The mixer would occasionally become our “six shooter” that we lifted out of the mix while it was running, and pointed toward our partner in crime in a classic high noon shoot out. Mom usually failed to realize the beauty of our cinematic re-enactments, and we’d soon hear cries of “what are you doing?” and “put that back in the bowl!” ringing out. Having her counters and cabinets decorated by flying dough was an added benefit that she didn’t seem to appreciate either. Go figure…..

Once the prep work was done, the artistry began. Ladling the batter on the grill, we’d vary from big circle to small, long finger to attempted shapes and letters. Any mistakes could be eaten away, and we never seemed to have a shortage of those. When we were full, two hours and 437 pancakes later, we look down at the concrete ball that was now inside our stomach and think, “You know, I think I’ll just sit here at the kitchen table another hour or two until I regain consciousness.”

On some weekends, we’d be at my grandparents’ house (Mom’s side) for breakfast the following day. Accompanied at times by the leftover batter from the pancakes the day before. For THAT, my friends, signified another important event. Second Day pankcakes.

My grandfather was a simple cook, in a way. Having lived through the Depression, he could throw a couple of things in a pan, add some seasoning, and come out with something that was simple yet tasty. Soups or sausages or eggs or beans. Didn’t matter, everything was good. It was relaxing just sitting in the kitchen watching him work, and then eating the result.

For pancakes, he would take our batter, and make pancakes on his own grill. My brother and I kept up a constant commute between the griddle and the kitchen table, waiting for them to cook, and trying not to drool on the floor. He was slow and methodical, or maybe just methodical as I’m sure we were wanting those pancakes done in 15 to 20 seconds. I can’t remember if he ever added anything to the batter, but I still remember the taste of those pancakes to this day. They never tasted like the ones we made at home……Never. They were always better. Whether other pancakes were eaten at restaurants, camping trips, or friends’ houses, they never came close to my grandfather’s. While he’s long gone, those pancakes and memories will occasionally be served up in a Sunday morning breakfast of the mind.

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A Hairy Situation

I went on a hike last weekend with a few friends as well as a newcomer or two. We headed into Butano State Park, on the coast, about 45 minutes below San Francisco. It’s a nice little place, with a mix of some redwoods and meadows, as well as hills and ridges. The first part of the trail was uphill, and as we neared the upper part of the ridge, it had gotten a little hotter. So a few of us moved to shorts. As we resumed the hike, one lady was in front of me, and as I glanced down to watch where I was going, I saw the legs. And the hair.

My first reaction, was sort of a double take. Did I see right? It got me thinking, in between dodging the poison oak vines and the occasional branch waiting to whack me in the face. I normally associate hairy legs with men and clean shaven legs with women, because “that’s how it’s always been”. Seeing this aberration, part of me had to keep reminding my brain that “this is a woman, this is a woman”. Another part was thinking, “Why doesn’t she shave?” Yet another was thinking, “Is the problem not with her, but with you expecting shaved legs?”

I think if someone asked me, I would always say, “yes, I prefer shaved legs on a woman”. They do (at least in my mind), look nicer, cleaner, and sexier. However, as I walked along, I started to think of what I would do as a woman. Or even as a man if the standard was shaved legs for men too. I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my mind was, “No way I’d shave my legs….waste all that time…. go through all that headache and mess of razors and shaving cream or other machine…..FORGET IT. If people don’t like it, the heck with them.”

So now, with full acknowledgement of her decision being truly understandable, I then started to wonder if I’d be okay with Mrs. Dolphin going the no shave route. (In my case, the Mrs has already stated she is not about to sport hair on her legs, so this thought exercise is a bit theoretical). I’m not sure, as it felt like something I’d have to get used to. Probably no different that getting used to women with nose or body piercing, colored hair, different facial or body features, accents, or cultures. I think that after awhile it would be less of an issue, as I’d most likely be focused on the person, not the package. Which makes me wonder if society as a whole would get used to hair on lady’s legs if all the sudden everyone did it. I’m sure there’d be an uproar initially, and some people would accept it quicker than others, but would things change enough so that in a generation or two it would be no big deal? It’s an interesting question.

The Supremes & Marriage

Well, it appears the end of the world began yesterday, as the US Supreme Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. Judge Roberts dissented and said “the fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a state change its definition of marriage”. Judge Scalia said it was a threat to democracy. As the four conservative judges fought valiantly, the US slid down the slippery slope of further destruction. I fear for what is next. Will those crazy liberals now claim that the world is round, and not flat? Perish the thought.

Sigh…..in these crazy times, it is perhaps best to remember that the sun will still shine tomorrow, and life in many ways will go on just fine for most of us. “The times, they are a changing”, and change is sometimes far from easy. The US has struggled with this idea for awhile. However, the reality is that this is a good thing. A society that discriminates is not the society we should be. There were teeth gnashed when women were given the right to vote, when blacks were freed and later given civil rights, when we let the Irish/Chinese/Polish/Hispanic people into the country, etc, etc, etc. Yet through it all, this country and its people persevere. Not always perfect, not always smooth, not always right, but we manage. This will be no different.

Support for gay marriage increases significantly as you move from the old to the young. With more exposure to gays in school, work, and social settings, the young are more supportive and understanding. Even in society, it is gradually becoming less of an issue. We have a whole lot of other things that are a “threat to democracy”, Mr. Scalia. Such as Citizens United. Such as inequitable tax laws. Such as Medical Monopolies. Such as huge and endless wars and government spending. Blaming gay marriage would be like blaming the butterfly that lands on the house, which then collapses due to dry rot.

I liked one quote from Kennedy’s decision – “Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the couples seek it for themselves because of their respect – and need – for its privileges and responsibilities”.

In time, I think it will be clear that this was a civil rights issue, not a religious issue, not a states’ rights issue, not a democracy issue. If we want to “save” the institution of marriage, we should invite those in who will be dedicated to their partner, and set a good example for the family and community. Heterosexual marriages are not perfect – look at the divorce rate, the number of spousal abuse cases, the number of child abuse cases. Those in glass houses should not throw stones, I think. If all the money and effort against gay marriage was instead spent improving the lives of families and family members in heterosexual unions, we all would be better off.