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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Four Days Up North

If you click into the icon that's right here, you can read my take on our recent small vacation to northern Wisconsin. We hiked - and took photos!  Pictures are by both of us, though a lot of the most astounding ones are from Len and his 10-year old Nikon. 

Missionary Types in the Mississippi Watershed in the 1600’s. Oh yeah.

Happy All Saints Day.

Today (though it will probably be yesterday by the time I get this written) we are going to discuss Catholic missionary types who proselytized Mississippi watershed country in the mid-to-late 1600’s.

Nomadland. How people live well enough when there is no way to live well.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century - by Jessica Bruder

 

You’ve read these kinds of statistics before.  In the US our incomes are spread like this: The top 1% suck up 81 times MORE annual income than the bottom half of ALL Americans.

Len's Marinated Story Starts

Our family gathered for Easter dinner this year, um, the Saturday after Easter. I guess flexibility is one of our survival skills.  Our three kids have in-laws, one baby, two dogs and all three live 1-3 hours away. We are grateful when these kids show up at all, let alone needing them on specific dates.

So. Easter dinner. The kids had given Len a new Weber grill for his birthday – which inspired an Easter menu of kabobs. Some marinated and grilled veggies plus a lot of marinated and grilled meat.

Update on Our Brother

In June I wrote about Our Brother  HERE

Here’s an update:

Our Brother is still working at the same warehouse, full-time, $9/hr.  

Back in June the Child Support dep’t had negotiated 3 purges (purge is the term Child Support uses for the bond one pays in order to get out of or stay out of jail once warrants are listed). His three purges on his three child support cases were $350 and $500 and $500. I invited people to make contributions to his cause.

Detroit!

This is a small compendium of photos and observations from a quick trip we took to Detroit last weekend.  

Amazingly, this has taken ALL my time since Wednesday morning. Sheesh, one seldom really sees Giant New Things to Learn as they come down the pike straight at one. 

These photos are from my phone, Len's phone, and our camera. So I got to play with two on-line albums of photos and then, surprise-surprise, the end product was "too big" - so today I got to run all the photos through Photoshop to make them smaller pixel-wise.  

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