Hoeing in our Victory Garden somewhere in East Texas, 1944
When I was a kid growing up during the 1940s, I noticed my parents and other adults were looking for the silver lining and trying to walk on the sunny side of the street. I realize now that WWII was on and the Depression had not ended. An English friend tells me they had rationing until the 1950s.
Because my mom kept a cow and chickens and planted a Victory Garden, I don’t remember ever having to do without butter, milk, eggs or vegetables when I was younger. That changed when we moved to Asheville NC where I recall our ‘butter’ was white until we mixed it with the magic yellow button on the side of the block of lard that made it look like real butter.
The lard was probably a type of vegetable fat, like Crisco. These days, some people suggest that vegetable fats are better for you than real butter. Better to eat canola or olive oil they say. As one deprived of real butter during part of my formative years, I eat nothing but real butter these days. I don’t eat it often, but I love it on a baked potato. I’ve tried it with and without sour cream and I like plain butter, and a little salt and pepper on my potato best of all.
David says the cold weather made us ache following yoga. We are both better today, although at 28 degrees F., the thermometer is still hovering below freezing.
We did the seated yoga last winter and it helped strengthen muscles as well as unlock joint stiffness. Amazingly, I can lift, turn or twist some joints better than others…the result of favoring one arm or leg over the other for some time, or turning my head to the right more often than the left. Before I began therapy, I had no idea I had such inclinations. The good news … because I had the right hip joint replaced last September, the left hip had to do some work during my recovery. Apparently, I favored the right hip after the stroke, so the left hip is catching up. The other good news is that if I persevere, my old body will respond.
Yesterday, I finished John Darwin’s book on world history, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires 1400-2000. A very good synopsis of the period and I recommend it to serious history buffs. One of the graduate history classes I attended at GMU was a survey of the History of Europe after 1800. It left me with a strong impression of just how difficult it is for any historian to see the world in its entirety during one period, mainly because it is difficult to understand Europe which reached hegemony in this period and stretched from Asia through North Africa to the settler countries of Australia, Canada, the US and South Africa.
I spent much time arguing with Claire, the instructor in this class, a left-wing leaning post doc student who has since left. She thought The Economist magazine was a right-wing rag, and in one class, sounding almost like a voyeur of porn mags, she told us how she snuck a peak at a copy of magazine (her roommate had a subscription).
As I read Darwin’s book, I thought of Claire and the books she listed on her syllabus (some balanced but mostly about how Britain, France and the US exploited the rest of the world with their civilizing mission…i.e., liberal, progressive agenda), and I wanted to send her message suggesting she read Darwin and include him in her next syllabus. I also wanted to remind her the purpose of education is to teach one to think and to question, which is not indoctrination. (In my opinion, Darwin’s book is better than Niall Ferguson’s The West and the Rest, which was dramatized by the BBC and shown on PBS and a bit jingoistic.)