Last Call for Learning?

Good morning everyone!

We have a beautiful day here on the prairies, which is not exactly what we would wish for, but you don’t always get what you wish for. If we did, some people would leave well enough alone and stop “improving” things, right?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is the simple word CALL. I expect I’m going to be calling for help many times, as I try to get used to the new editor. WordPress has announced that they’re retiring the old editor on June 1st — though us die-hards can still access it and use it, apparently. But for how long?

The new editor, as I see all the complexities of it, reminds me of a Rubic’s cube — and I never was good at those. Last night, after seeing their post with the announcement I spent a good while doing a few extra posts, going back and forth to the WordPress website, trying to figure out how to operate this complex new system. I haven’t mastered inserting images yet.

Image by succo at Pixabay

Heretofore I’ve basically used two “blocks”: I write paragraphs and paste in images. I could block my whole text to Justify; now I must do it paragraph by paragraph as each paragraph seems to be considered a block. And the sidebar had all the info I needed. Last night I spent five minutes on each post trying to figure out how to access the Categories and Tags. I think I’ve got that now. So much to learn as the stream of technological advancements pulls sticks-in-the-mud like me along with it.

There are supposed to be different fonts; I haven’t discovered them yet. On the other hand, I really like the new range of colours available for the type! But you have to write the number down or you can’t get back to it, should you decide to add something.

Speaking of attractive colours, hummingbirds have been seen in our area, so I’d best get my feeders up. Have a great day everyone, and do stop over at the Ragtag Community blog to see what other folks are posting in response to this prompt.

Work Clothes

I read a little quote yesterday from some highly acclaimed musician and decided to capture his thought in verse this morning. Let me know in the comments if it gives the picture or seems too vague.

the famous artist
buried his lack of talent
in splattered smocks

Morning Smile

I was talking to my cousin last night — she’s just celebrated her 85th birthday — and she tells me she picked up a second-hand computer from someone who had one to get rid of. A brave new adventure and I hope it doesn’t lead to unnecessary frustrations. I can’t leave a message on her answering machine because she hasn’t mastered how to use her message manager — one bit of frustrating technology for her.

I asked her if she could type and she said, “I can learn.” Spelling will be a problem for her, though. Unfortunately my cousin not only lacks basic education, but also has some type of perception issue. She may read a short poem or quote she likes, but when she decides to copy it for me, she garbles the word order and line breaks. So she’s likely to see a lot of red lines on her screen as she types.

However, writing isn’t her goal anyway; I’m sure she didn’t get a printer in the deal. Another senior told her you can play games on a computer, so she’s looking forward to that. I hope it works better for her than her attempts to operate the TV remote control. When I spent a week with her a few years back, I had to call her cable company frequently and ask them to reset her TV because she’d hit the wrong button on the remote and switched it to “Play DVD” mode — then didn’t know how to switch it back. (Being somewhat technologically challenged myself, plus we haven’t had a TV since 1974, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it without help, either.)

Still, I have to admire her willingness and courage to try something new and am keen to see how this technological ‘step forward’ works for her.

Going through old files I came across this bit of wit, my adaptation of one of Murphy’s Laws. Hope it gives you a smile.

Speaking

Disconnection: Can You Survive It?

People are asking, “What is Social Media Turning Us Into?”
Here’s one possible picture.  😉

Pumpkin people

One former Google project manager, Tristan Harris, once claimed that social media is “hijacking our minds.” Studies are revealing that social media inclines young people to depression.

This morning I read a thought-provoking article and decided to post the link here so you can read it, too, if you’re concerned about the overall effects of social media. Read Social Media Detox.

Christina Farr starts out saying, “I quit Instagram and Facebook and it made me a lot happier.” She tells how at one point she kept track of the time spent on social media — and it turned out to be a whole lot more than she’d ever estimated.

Does that surprise anyone?

I’ve never been on any of those social media, unless you count Linked-In, where I followed some writers’ groups. Finally I even gave that up, and GoodReads, which hasn’t done much more than take my time. The world is awash in book and wannabe writers trying to promote themselves — and some are quite successful, more power to them.

I’m probably one of those people who doesn’t manage time well, but at present it’s all I can do to post on my blog and follow some others, never mind all the Tweets, Twitters, Instagram, etc. that one can get involved in. Also, our church has always urged members to not get involved in Facebook and such-like.

If you can find a minute, do read this informative article, especially if you wonder how a person can survive without incoming messages. 🙂

 

Baking Bread the Irish Way

It’s chilly this morning: Saskatoon thermometer at 7 am read -18̊ / 0̊ F. Pookie, the youngest of our two cats, keeps wanting to go outside and see if things have improved weather-wise, but after three minutes he’s ready to come in again.

Last night I took a notion I’d like to have cinnamon buns for breakfast this morning, so I set out the ingredients before I went to bed. When I got up I mixed the dough. As it turns out, they won’t be baking until mid-morning, but we can have them for our dessert after lunch.

I’ve half an hour before they need punching down, so maybe I can reply to this morning’s prompts and tell you about how a young prairie wife acquired the skill of bread-baking.

Ragtag daily prompt: SKILL
Fandango’s word today: DISRUPT
Word of the Day prompt: WHIFF

I’m not sure where I acquired the skill of baking with yeast, because my mom taught me almost nothing about cooking. Thankfully I had a great mother-in-law who was herself an excellent cook and taught me so much about life, love, and the pursuit of good food.

Like me, Mary hadn’t been taught how to bake before she left home and found herself needing to learn after she was married. I at least watched my dad take golden loaves of bread from the oven when I was a girl, so I knew something. When it came to bread and pies, both Dad and Mom F (I was raised by my uncle and aunt) were excellent bakers, if they had the time.

Mary grew up in Guildford, England, where a baker’s wagon would come down their stree every morning. All her mother had to do was go out to the land and pick whatever baking she wanted for the family that day. After Mary and her husband, a store clerk, immigrated to Saskatchewan she tried to learn baking skills from a recipe book her mother had given her. But her bread didn’t rise, was solid as a rock, or full of holes.

Before long her baking inability was disrupting their marital bliss as well as family finances. “We NEED bread,” her husband told her one day. “Why can’t you make the stuff? It can’t be that hard.”

“I’ve never been taught. I can’t seem to succeed just reading a recipe.”

“Ask one of the neighbour women for help. They all know how.”

Mary thought about the neighbour women she’d seen out and about. They were … well… coarse. Non one she would have ever associated with in England. In Canada things were different, she knew, but she’d listened as they talked and rudely gossiped in the store and didn’t see anything to be gained in associating with them. And then to admit she couldn’t do a simple thing like bake bread? Wouldn’t that get the gossip going!

At the time they were getting a farm paper and she took note of a column offering “Homemaker Hints by Millicent” or some name like that. Women wrote in with a question, which would be printed with the senders initials and the columnist’s response. Mary got her courage up one day and sent a letter to the column, asking Millicent’s advice on baking bread.

About three weeks later she opened this paper, found Millicent’s column — and saw her letter. Oh, but…! Here was her name…and her address…printed for all the world to see. She blushed with shame. All the women in town would be laughing at her. Mary shuddered to think what her husband would say if he ever saw this.

To add insult to injury, the recipe Millicent printed in response was the same one she’d already tried. She shut the paper and tried to forget about it.

The next morning her routine was disrupted by a few hard raps on her door. Mary opened it a crack and saw Mrs Ratigan — one of those “ill-mannered” women who lived nearby. Mary had seen her bustling around town, a large, assertive Irish woman, fussing over the children around her, wiping their drippy noses and giving them a smack when they needed one.

Mary opened the door to ask…and Mrs Ratigan marched right in. She held the incriminating page from the farm paper in her hand. “Mary Watson. Wants to make bread. I read it here.” She grabbed a chair and sat down. “Nobody ever learned to bake bread out of a book. You need a mother to teach you. Where’s your mother?”

Mary recovered from her shock enough to reply. “Back in Guildford, England.”

“Fine. Leave her there. I’‘ll be your mother this morning and we’ll make bread.”

Swallowing her pride, Mary got out her ingredients and Mrs Ratigan started giving instructions. Before the morning was done she’d showed Mary how to mix and knead, how long to let the dough rise, how to test it. Mary learned how to form loaves, eliminate air bubbles, and how to bake them.

As soon as the loaves were in the oven Mary made tea. Mrs Ratigan sat at the table and watched her pour. After a few sips, she said, “The good Lord never said a person always has to have Irish coffee. There’s Irish tea, too, you know, dear.”

Mary laughed and took the hint. She got the bottle of her husband’s brandy from the cupboard and handed it to her “mother for the day”, thinking it would likely make an acceptable substitute for Irish whiskey.

Mrs Ratigan opened the bottle, took a whiff, then poured a generous smack of it into her tea. Taking a sip, she grinned and said, “If you weren’t an Anglican, I’d say you’re one of the true faith.”

Mary laughed again. She was coming to like this cheerful, motherly neighbour.

Mary poured tea and Mrs Ratigan poured out the flavouring. By the time she left there wasn’t much left of the bottle of brandy, but Mary thought her husband would forgive the loss when he saw four lovely loaves of bread and some buns waiting for him when he came home from the store.

She’d been fearful about how the women in town would talk about her and treat her once they read her letter in Millicent’s column, but things turned out for the best after all. Sharing her need actually brought her friendly smiles and greetings from the town wives and made some satisfying friendships.

Visiting with one of these new friends sometime later, Mary discussed how embarrassed she’d been when Mrs Ratigan arrived at her door waving that paper. “Now the whole town knew! I was so ashamed and just cringed to think what you’d all be saying about me.”

“Oh, you needn’t have worried. It felt like you were one of us at last.” Her friend smiled. “Besides, Mrs Ratigan informed us all that if she ever heard anyone laughing at you, she’d conk them in the nose.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, by now my cinnamon buns are in the pan, rising. The faintest whiff of cinnamon lingers in my kitchen and it will soon be a delightful fragrance. Can’t you just taste it? Almost as good as chocolate. 😉