Thursday, February 02, 2012

Friends, Detractors and Nay-Sayers

Today I'd like to  talk about something that's both been an irritant and something I'm sure I'm not alone in experiencing. Detractors.

detractor |diˈtraktər|
a person who disparages someone or something.

Detractors can disparage a person, an action or an idea. I'm sure we all have them. In my own case, I have someone in my life whose opinions I have valued in the past who is disparaging our decision to move. Now, I'm sure she has her reasons for trying to convince me that I'm wrong, but there are too many reasons to make this move. Finances, health (our own and that of my aging parents), food security, a much needed lifestyle change and personal security are all among our reasons for making such a huge leap. But the one thing that bothers me the most is that as her friend, I would never tell her that her dream is going to ruin her family and make her children hate her. Everyone has a dream, and it's not up to us to judge another person's dream. No matter how ridiculous that other person's dream may be. I understand, too, that my dream is not hers. Hell, I'm her friend and I have no idea what her dreams are. That in itself is kind of sad, but I digress.

In the decade of the seventies, there was a rather large back-to-the-land movement. There were some that made the move out to the country uninformed but pursuing an ideal. There were some that did all the research and just couldn't make it. And then there were some that had done their homework, had prioritized and found a way to make their dreams a reality. My mother was one of the ones who dreamed about a life in the country for a long time, and it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized it was what I wanted as well. Various life choices landed me in a city removed from my family, and while I don't *hate* it, it's not what I want for our kids. Now I have an opportunity to get out of the city, out of debt and move back to where our kids can at least grow up knowing their grandparents and uncle. In this day and age, a good family with strong roots cannot be underestimated. Sometimes, family can keep us sane and grounded, and help us withstand shock and change better. And believe me, change is coming. I'd rather have my immediate family all in the same community when it hits.

One of my friend's rationalizations for my move being wrong is that our boys are going to hate me for uprooting them. Wow, talk about parental guilt! A generation or two ago, it was common for kids to live their whole lives in one town, in the same house, on the same street and with very little upheaval. That's not the norm anymore. Now, families move every four to five years and people change jobs at least that often. See the correlation? My friend has been fortunate to live at least in the same neighborhood for over a decade, which I think is great. We've lived here 11 years, which is bloody rare in this apartment building. But there comes a time when an adult, the grownup in the family, has to take a hard look at circumstances with a realistic eye and know when the tough jobs need doing.
This move is going to be tough. There will be compromises, there will be conflict, there will be growth, there will be laughter and love. But I am the first to admit that our financial circumstances are far from wonderful, through no fault of our own. We don't spend a lot, but we are probably two paychecks away from crisis. That can't continue, but I'm capped at work in both the number of hours I can work, and pay rate. I work hard, but I'm not paid what my work is worth.

So, for a lot of reasons, many of which I've not touched on here, the move, as hard as it will be, is necessary. The boys will not be pleased right away, but I know that given a chance, the new situation will grow on them. They will make new friends and have new schools that will not be filled with cruel kids interested only in teasing, taunting and making their lives hell. They will be able to breathe cleaner air and eat better food. They will be able to go outside and learn where their food comes from. They can enjoy an active lifestyle with purpose, as well as get to know their extended family. There's a lot of benefits for them. There are a lot more reasons to make this move than to let fear and uncertainty drive us into further debt.

Please, when a friend comes to you and wants to talk about what they want from life, and what they want to do; don't scorn what they're saying. Listen with an open mind. Be supportive and non-judgmental.
You never know how your comments, or your facial expression might cut the person you claim to care about.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stay Sharp!

Basic Knife Sharpening with Steel
Many of us own professional grade kitchen knives, right? Did you buy or otherwise acquire a steel with that? Do you know how to use it? I don't, which led me to find out how to use the heavy rod that lives in the kitchen drawer. For those of you who also don't know how, I present, knife sharpening 101.

1) Grip the handle of the steel and place it's point down on a hard surface that won't let the tip skitter away. Now hold it firm.
2) Hold your knife against the steel like the first image above, point away from you. Rotate your hand holding the knife so the sharp side of your knife meets the steel at approximately a 20-degree angle.
3)While pulling  your knife toward you and maintaining your 20-degree angle, slide the blade  from the top of the steel toward the bottom. You'll know you've done it correctly if it ends up with the tip of your knife coming off the bottom of your steel.
4) Switch sides and repeat. Place your knife on the opposite side of the steel, again, just below the handle. Find that same 2o-degree angle by rotating your knife-holding hand by an eighth of a turn (clockwise if you're right handed, otherwise if you're left handed), and swipe in that same downward motion.
5) Repeat the above steps 5 or 6 more times
6) Wipe your blade with a rag to remove shavings and test it's sharpness by slicing into the edge of a paper. If it cuts it easily, then it's ready to use. If not, repeat steps above until it does cut the edge of the paper easily.
*Note* Shaving the hairs on your arm, really proves nothing. Sorry, Dad.
Don't sweat the angle too much. anything less than 45 degrees will do, so long as you stay consistent.
7) Count all your fingers. Do you have as many as you started with? Success!!

Info courtesy of "How To Sew A Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew" by Erin Bried