Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Charcoal

I found myself contemplating a color today...charcoal. My kids think it's a shade of black, but I don't think of it that way. It's a very specific shade of grey. When I was a child, my father would often cook out on the grill. He always used Kingsford charcoal briquettes. I have strong memories of the blue, white and red bags.

Dad would dump a mound of briquettes into the BBQ and neatly arrange them into a pyramid. Then he would spray the stack with an excessive amount of lighter fluid, deftly light a match, toss it onto the pyramid and create an eyebrow searing, two-story high inferno. That was a best part of cooking outside. Well, almost the best part.

See, I would watch the briquettes turn from coal black to a red hot coal covered with a fine ash of charcoal grey. That color. Dad would tap a coal or two with his tongs to see the hot interior. He had a sixth sense about when it was the perfect time to slap steaks or hamburgers down on the grill. I loved that intense sizzle sound the meat would make and the smell of the fragrant smoke.

Many years later, when I got married, my parents gifted us with a little red kettle drum style BBQ. We tried a few times to resurrect the skill our father's had mastered in order to "cook out" but we just didn't have that special talent. Our coals never got that fine charcoal grey coating hiding the very ancient soul that is cooking with fire.

Maybe we needed to use way more lighter fluid than was technically safe. Maybe the perfect shade of charcoal is only achieved through risking your eyebrows.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The New Feminism

I had an enlightening conversation with Max today. He was upset by some comments made by some boys at a classmate's birthday party this weekend. He was playing with a friend's toy and a couple boys were picking on him for playing with a "girl toy." He was outraged.

I told him some people are stuck in old mindsets and they learn this gender segregation from their parents and siblings. Toys are toys and should be made with every child in mind. He agreed with me. We also talked about girls and sports. I told him when I was a little girl, we weren't allowed to play baseball in the Little League. He was horrified! He couldn't understand why because the girls on his team are just as good as the boys.

He had a few words to say about McDonald's restaurants too. He liked the Build-a-Bear toys and resented having to asked for a "girl" toy. Plus, girls like Spiderman and other superhero toys too, according to Max. They shouldn't have to ask for a "boy" toy. Speaking as a girl who loves comics and superheroes, I concurred wholeheartedly.

Now if he can just retain this open and unspoiled world view, I'll be very happy. Sadly, his big brother has succumbed to peer pressure and picks on Max whenever he sees him playing with a "girl toy." I keep correcting him, but Tyler has a pretty unshakable world view right now. The view of a judgmental pre-teen. It's harsh and hurtful. Let's hope he matures right out of it soon.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Stigma

Being a child of the 60s and the product of a 60s-era adoption, I have nearly 5 decades of experience to draw from. Observations on how the world has evolved since a time of hyper-religious and narrow-minded views about sex, love, pregnancy, marriage, child birth, abortion and adoption. The United States has, for the most part, changed for the better in our views on single motherhood, teen pregnancy, and the options that are available. But not everywhere. There are still large pockets of people in this country with extremely backward views on these subjects. Under the color of "religion" they still shame young people about their bodies and ostracize their daughters if they get pregnant out of wedlock.

Do you think I'm wrong? Just look at the nationwide statistics for young women who hide their pregnancies, get no prenatal care, give birth in secrecy, abandon or kill their babies...this still happens FAR too frequently in this day and age and it all comes back to shame colored by religious fervor.

Many people proudly proclaim their religious beliefs. They are bolstered by community spirit and espouse their faith by pointing fingers and passing judgement on other people they feel are not worthy. Well, I am about to sit in judgement on all you churchy joes.

What is the product of all this dogmatism? This:

Bodies of 796 children found in unmarked mass grave at the site of an old Catholic nunnery and home for unwed mothers.

Sewage tank full of the bodies of children, aged 2 days to 9 years, found at former Bon Secours Sisters home.

This home was run from 1925 to 1961 in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. Under the auspices of the Catholic Church, this nunnery hid the shame of Catholic families who ostracized their pregnant daughters. Women who were thrown out of their homes simply for getting pregnant without being married. Many were the product of rape. (Don't get me started on my feelings on THAT topic.)

What kills me is people KNEW what was happening at these homes. That these children were starved and neglected then buried in an unconsecrated and unmarked mass grave. Some of the babies were lucky enough to be sold to childless couples outside the country and some actually survived to adulthood. A miracle.

I hope many more of the families touched by this heinous crime come forward to file missing persons reports to force the Church and local authorities to investigate, identify the remains, and bury them properly...with the dignity and recognition for their needless suffering that they so richly deserve.

When people ask me how someone raised in a devout Catholic family can support abortion, adoption, gay rights, and feminism...THIS. This is how. Anyone of average intelligence can deduce the evil that is the product of blind obedience to religious doctrine and shame. Don't be a sheep. Don't let shame control your life.

Edit: And the scandal grows... Religious orders allowed over 2,000 Irish children living in homes and orphanages to be used in medical experiments