Is the English language, as we once knew it, doomed? Sometimes I wonder. Several days ago I watched a Judge Judy episode where a young woman repeatedly used the word “tooken” during her testimony. Having had enough and not one to hold back on her opinion, Judge Judy said, “Young woman, there is no such word as tooken. You have used it twice. Please don’t use it again.” Yea. Not long afterwards I was involved in a conversation with someone I had just been introduced to. Tooken also came up in their conversation, shortly followed by “I seen them coming”. Ach.
It seems not only are we are losing social skills by not actually attaining eye contact during a conversation or even physical contact, preferring to reach out electronically, certainly from what I observe lately basic language skills have also been thrown out with the bath water. I understand the thinking is looser on this in schools at the moment with more emphasis put on technology and less on what some might view as outdated skills such as speaking the language correctly or written language basics. It seems many school children have no idea what a colon is used for, besides when in reference to passing wind, or a comma for that matter. Paragraphs run willy nilly with no obvious beginning or end. Will future generations be left to communicate with such abbreviated speech as WYSIWYG, “what you see is what you get”? BON, “believe it or not’.
Perhaps the laziness creeping into everything we do, cars that park themselves, food microwaved in minutes, vacuums rolling across the floor without needing a push, has even slopped over into our speech. So much is done for us. Back in the early civilizations, if one was to eat, prey had to hunted. Meat did not magically appear shrink wrapped in the grocers refrigerated section. Men, physically ran after their dinner and once catching up to it, had to slay it with crude tools or physically overcome it in some manner to convince it to join him for dinner. Once a kill was accomplished, I would assume it was shared with the community, as GE hadn’t provided a refrigerator to store leftovers and the meat would need to be consumed quickly before spoiling. Women went into the fields and forests to pick berries and fruit. Probably nomadic by nature, moving with the changes in season or perhaps due to dwindling food supplies or disagreements with neighbors or other tribes. Amtrak didn’t stop by to give them a lift to the next campsite. People were physical, as our bodies were constructed to be. Teeth were used to chew and gnaw tough meat or shrubs, not mulch oatmeal or a container of yogurt.
In some ways we have reached the stars and in others it almost seems we’ve regressed. Perhaps someday oral language as well will achieve obsolescence with gadgets or computers communicating for us. In the end where are we heading? I think about this so often. Is the only way to go from here up, or will be choose to step onto the down escalator?
Is our future to mimic Fahrenheit 451 where books are banned, and burned if discovered? What I find interesting is Grand Theft Auto 5 recently did a billion in sales within three days of its release. Hmmmm. This says a lot about our combined state of mind and what gets us motivated. It is rated 17 and up, but who goes home with the 17-year-old to ensure his younger brother or sister aren’t manning the controls? I have seen this played and it’s very authentic and definitely graphic.
Back in the day I saw Clockwork Orange. I remember leaving the theater with a “huh?” look on my face. Weird images, violent teens, rape and crime sprees. What was interesting looking back is that Burgess included Nadsat, a fractured adolescent slang a composition of Slavic, English, and Cockney rhyming slang. Hmmmmm, again.
It is these heavy thoughts which muddle up my mind this as I awoke this morning. However, it was my day at the shelter and Clockwork Orange’s images on my mind or not, the kitties were waiting for me and not one of them gives a bloody damn what Susie is chewing on, as long as the woman keeps patting their furry heads and not neglecting the empty bowls.
The kitty I dubbed “wink” due to the fact one eye is missing, found a home this morning. I was glad for him. A cheerful single man with a big heart (or so it appeared) adopted him, renaming him Standish. A huge cat by comparison to the other inmates, he’ll leave a big hole with his absence. You do become attached.
I’m getting to know the ones who have been there a while. Kittens come and go quickly, as with babies in our species, the tiniest of us are definitely the most “awwww” inspiring. After tending to my single and double adult cats, I turned my attention toward a walk-in cage with five kittens occupying space together. Through the glass doors I could see three running and playing on the floor with the two others dispersed on different tiers of the cat tower towards the back. Four were black, or black and white and standing out like an onion in a petunia patch was a tiny little female grey tabby named Pea. Pea, the only female in the group, swiped and batted at her bunk mates as they tugged on her tail or swiped at the small red mouse she was guarding jealously. Spunky for her size, I chose not to examine her too closely as she nuzzled my neck lest I fall in love in again. My heart can’t take it.
Leaving the two on the highest tier in the cage I removed the other three and went about cleaning up after them. Like children they make far bigger messes than the more senior of the cats. Sweeping and sanitizing the area, I refilled the bowls and returned the three in the holding cells to their cage. Turning to let myself out, I found the door had locked behind me. Sigh. Nobody was down on my end so I waited about five minutes until another volunteer happened by. She waved and I crooked a finger towards the cage. Coming closer she realized my predicament. Before being released from the cage I had to answer if I was house broken and if my shots were current. How humiliating. Funny group.
So my heavy and light thoughts for the day. I made this last night and loved it. You could vary the cheeses I’m sure but this made a nice blend.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets.
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups whole milk, divided
2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place florets in large saucepan and cover with water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 10 mins. until fork tender. Drain thoroughly.
Mix together egg, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of milk. Set aside.
In saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 mins. until onion is translucent. Add milk and seasonings to pan. Whisk to blend. Whisk constantly until milk is steaming but don’t allow to reach a full boil. Slowly whisk in egg mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking until mixture thickens but not boiling.
Mix cheeses together. Add all but 1/2 cup to hot milk mixture, whisking to blend and melt cheese.
Spray 2 quart pan with cooking spray. Place florets in single layer in bottom of pan. Pour milk/cheese mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake for 55 mins. Allow to cool for 8 mins. before serving.