Posts tagged ‘stress’

Peanut Butter Fishes

There is nothing quite like the smell of toast on a chilly morning. I like it better than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. It makes me think of peanut butter fishes.

Have you ever had peanut butter fishes?

My Grampap Daugherty made them best. I believe it was his own recipe. And, by recipe, I mean something he thought up on the spur of the moment one morning long, long ago.

In the ’60s, more so than now, meals were handled almost exclusively by the womenfolk and mealtime was a structured thing:  A time to behave, a time to eat your vegetables and clear your plate, a time to mind your manners, a time when it might be your turn to stop playing and come set the table.

But, sometimes, Grampap made breakfast.

It is an inexplicable, wonderful bit of magic how some memories can pop out clear and whole. My desk feels like a table cloth, and I am small and young. I can hear my brother and sister and I being rowdy and greedy and silly. I can hear my grandfather’s chuckle. I smell toast. Grampap is making us peanut butter fishes. And we are gobbling them up.


Make toast. Spread peanut butter on toast. Cut once horizontally and multiple times vertically. pbfish_horiz

We’d yell for more. And he’d make more. I think he would have made peanut butter fishes for us all day long.

It wasn’t that we loved toast. Or fish. And I seriously doubt that peanut butter tastes good on any sort of fish except the imaginary ones. The wonderful thing about peanut butter fishes was the novelty of having our grandfather do the cooking. It was a break from the rules, a diversion from the norm. It was silly and fun and joyful and a thing we can only fully understand in retrospect:  those glimpses of grown-ups acting like kids.

Being a grown-up isn’t easy. Sure you choose your own bed time and you can drive a car and you can kiss a boy without getting into great big trouble with the kindergarten teacher. But you have to pay taxes and buy groceries and clean an entire house. You don’t get three months off every summer. There is no Santa. The homework is a lot more complicated. Your allowance is, relatively, smaller. Your stresses are bigger. You have to cut grass and rake leaves and shovel snow. And you still have to get a bath and brush your teeth every day.

With all of that going on, some days, it can be hard to get out of bed. Some days, you wake up feeling tired and defeated and overwhelmed by grown-up life. And you just know it’s going to be a bad day.

That’s when I make peanut butter fishes for breakfast.

I can hear my Grampap chuckle. And I remember not to take it all too seriously. I smell toast. And I know everything is going to be okay.

October 7, 2014 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Ah Technology

Inventions and the human imagination have enabled us to do many new and amazing things, but I think perhaps technology has jumped the shark.

I made it through college (as a writing major mind you) with a manual typewriter. Went from that, giddily, to one that typed like a player piano, to a desktop computer, to a laptop, to (if I could figure it out) a way to create and send documents on my cell phone.

My brother and sister and I grew up watching a black-and-white Zenith with about 4 channels and a National Anthem end to the programming day. Tonight I can watch a gazillion programs on a big ol’ color TV, a VCR, a DVR, a DVD, or (if I could figure it out) my cell phone.

I once had thee coolest electric-blue AM radio shaped like a donut. Later I had a gargantuan glass-fronted cabinet that stored a turntable, receiver, and my albums. Then cassette player, double cassette player, CD player, 5-disk CD player. Now it’s a recordable CD drive and itunes, plus (if I could figure it out) a way to listen to my tunes on my cell phone.

Yes, a cell phone is a huge improvement over the wall-bound rotary dial, and it has been a godsend during a couple of emergency situations—like being stranded at night with a flat tire or getting separated from my friends at a Jimmy Buffett concert. But there was a time when you never heard a phone ring in a theater, in the grocery store, or (not making this up) at a funeral. There was a time, not so very long ago, when you could actually get away from it all because the hotel didn’t have cell service or internet. There was a time when you never had to listen carefully to the options for pressing 1, 2, 3, 4, star, or pound.

Yesterday I pushed a bunch of those buttons to activate my new ATM card, and the recording told me I had to hold the line to confirm something (sounded official). And . . . ah, ohhhh . . . I had to dodge the advances of a zealous, rude, pitbull of a telemarketer—without the hang-up option—before being “approved” to have access to my own money.

I will concede that, despite a real nostalgia for gas station attendants who would saunter up to the driver’s side window and chat pleasantly, wash the windshield, put air in the tires, and check the oil, there are times when being able to pump the gas myself when rolling home on fumes at midnight has had its advantages. Today at lunchtime, before they would actually allow gasoline to flow, I had to answer 2,735 questions to (apparently) explain why I was standing in a gas station freezing my ass off while parked next to a gas pump with my gas cap off.

Technology has not made our lives easier. It has given new ideas to the Evil Bastards. And they learn faster than my middle-age brain.

In high school, I learned to type in a class that lasted an entire semester. When desktop computers were new, I attended a two-day training seminar to learn WordPerfect. These days, with absolutely no formal training, I can’t get through my day without Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Diskus, InDesign, iCalendar, iMovie, three different voicemail systems, three different email programs, two different IM programs, a bit of Illustrator, a CRM system, and two different web/CMS systems. And, oh yeah, the programs to manage my blog, my facebook page, and my Twitter tweets.

As technology has made it possible to accomplish more and more tasks more and more quickly, we have, quite simply, become accustomed to having more tasks on the to-do list, doing more things ourselves, providing more information, reading more manuals . . . and expanding our vocabulary to include phrases like stress headache, hyper-tension, and Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?

Pick a technological advancement in your lifetime. Tell me why you love it and/or hate it.

January 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm 2 comments

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive email notifications for new posts.

%d bloggers like this: