Mary Beth Writes

A quern is the 10,000-year old Cuisinart.  The photo I am using today is of a quern found in southern Arizona and set outside the door to the  park headquarters of Organ Pipe National Monument, I recognized it because I’ve written about querns in the past!

A Quern is two rocks fitted out to grind stuff between them, generally to grind grain into flour.   There are many, many designs of querns but in all of them, the bottom rock is some variation on a roundish flattish rock, the top rock is designed in some way that allows that rock to be swiveled or churned in a steady way over the bottom rock. This 2-rock system is called a Quern. To be more precise, the bottom rock is the quern, the top one is a handstone.

If you want to know more, go to Wikipedia and follow the crazy words. Like nixtamalization using a metate; Maya words for this machine and process.  Or, in Scotland there was thirlage; which was the manor-run area in which you lived where you were forced to hire the local miller to grind your grain - so that the local lord and lady and miller could earn more money from your hard work and your crop. If you had a quern, you had to hide it. If they found it - they broke it, which is why museums in Scotland today have a lot of broken querns. You have probably heard the rumor that poor Scots people were not fond of obeying laws imposed on them by lords, ladies, and the Brits.

A quern is a heavy, useful 2-part machine that shows us that being human has always required a wagon load of muscle with a dollop of smarts. 

People figured out they liked to eat grain. They figured out that if you beat the grain up a bit, you could make bread and many other helpful, sometimes tasty, generally filling foods.  A quern is a tool that allowed groups of people to work together in families and teams, to divide up the work and make a meal.  It was a tool to radically multiply sources nourishment for humans. 

A quern was one of humankind’s first assets. With it a community had a way to get through a variety of seasons and weather patterns. It helped turn this month’s bumper crop into flour with which to sustain the community months from now.  

Querns helped even out the ups and downs, rains and droughts. It helped turn the inedible into supper. It made it possible for people to live a distance from their fields of grain. It allowed commerce, turning harvest into commodity.

The individuals, family, tribe, community who owned and controlled the quern – became the ones who could rule others.

It was a tool for sustenance.  It could also become a tool for wealth, exploitation, and power.

Like health insurance. 

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Thanks Giving Plan - Six Quick Steps

This image this morning: The sun comes up over the top of the hill on which we live. The new-rising sun was shining on a long freight train rumbling past. All the train cars were side-lit with glowing colors - rust, manila, peaches and creams and the sky was dusky November blue behind them. The rumbling of the train in this old house was comfortable. It was a beautiful and pleasant moment.

Shop Justice to Share Love

Here we are again; this week begins the annual gargantuan lollapalooza of First World consumerism.

Sigh.

I love shopping as much as anyone. Give me twenty dollars and a quiet hour at Goodwill and I will come home with two bags of random cool stuff, 37 cents, and a song in my heart.

The Wedding

My son was married last weekend in Madison. He and his bride have been together five years (that long already?) They have a little house, two jobs, two cars, two dogs, and many dreams for a long and loving life.

What was the wedding like, you ask? Well, I’m not going to put THEIR wedding on MY website.  Instead, let me tell you some things about their day from my point of view as one of the four parents who love these kids dearly.

And by kids, I mean adults in their early 30’s (that old already?)

Balance and Distraction

Can you balance on one foot for a minute?

Me, neither.

 I practice “balancing” fairly often.  I do this by standing barefoot on one foot as long as I can and then I stand on the other foot. It’s interesting that some days I can do this and then, the very next morning perhaps, I will balance on one foot about 9 seconds before I tip over.  Sort of a mini-check-up, I guess. On the 9-seconds days I figure my body is lopsided or badly fueled or distracted. A good day to take care while doing stuff.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - a book review

If you are fascinated by how ideas ripple through human communities – you probably already read Malcom Gladwell. If not, check him out. http://gladwell.com/ He is a fascinating thinker and writer.

He wrote The Tipping Point in 2000. I bought it at Goodwill a couple months ago. A lot is dated; this book is pre-smartphones! That said, The Tipping Point is really good!

Walking and Seeing 10/13/2017

This morning I finished a story I’ve been working on since May! I submitted it to an intimidating place that won’t accept it … but they say life happens where you show up, right? I got my money’s worth out of my morning.

Here are some other places where I showed up lately -- where others had showed up before me:

DP Wigley
Happy Birthday Bruce
AAUW Book Sale
Ad Promotion