My idea of heaven definitely includes books, and even better, children with books.
Here are my children, reading quietly.
He is perfectly content; she can't wait until the end of the chapter.
He chose his own book; her book was assigned.
His idea of heaven might include stacks upon stacks of books, especially of the comic variety.
Her idea of heaven might be completely free of books, especially of the historical memoir genre.
I can relate to both of them. At her age, I didn't love to read either, especially assigned books. Now I can't imagine a day without at least a few minutes lost between pages.
I just finished reading a short book recommended by a friend years ago, Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. At that time, I couldn't find a copy at the library, so the book was nixed from my reading list, but not forgotten. I recently came across a yellowing, moldy copy at the thrift store for a quarter.
Written in 1975, set in 1999, it is a futuristic tale of a new, utopian country formed by the succession of the West Coast from the US. A journalist visits the country as a diplomat and investigative reporter to find out if it really is the utopia it claims to be. Imagine an armed hippie revolution: strict ecological/environmental standards, a twenty hour work week, a female president, recreational marijuana use, free love, communal living, co-operative enterprises, no personal property. Will he love it or leave it?
Is it utopia or dystopia? To compare it to the last book I read, Ecotopia is a Randian nightmare! But it got me thinking: isn't the heart of almost every conflict, in literature and in life, just a difference of perspective? One person's heaven is another person's hell. One person's dream is another's nightmare. One person's utopia might well be another's dystopia, and vice versa. An atheist's paradise will have no churches; a believer's paradise will have no atheists.
This yin and yang conflict reminds me of one of my dad's favorite quotes: "One half of the people are here to test the other half." Politically, about one half of Americans will be disappointed no matter who wins the upcoming election. One voter's win is another voter's loss.
It's kind of sad, isn't it? Utopia is a mathematical impossibility.
This quote from blogger Kara Vanderbijl slightly tips the equation for me:
"Eliminate from your routine . . . any way of thinking that promotes you to favor ideas over people."
I'm going to write that idea on a sticky note and hope that it sticks.
While election season has got me down, as it often does every four years, the arrival of apples has sweetened my sorrow. Who can be sad when there are Dutch Babies for breakfast? These apple pancakes are a far cry from the floury, milky treats I used to serve pre-Paleo, but for those of us who have eliminated grain and dairy from our routine, they're a protein packed treat.
Paleo Dutch Baby
(serves one, but recipe can be doubled or tripled)
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1 apple, chopped
cinnamon to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
In a skillet, melt butter or coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped apples and saute until tender; sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. With a stick blender or regular blender, blend eggs, almond butter, and baking powder. Pour mixture over apples, turn heat to medium low, cover and cook until the batter is just set. If you're confident with your pancake flipping skills, go ahead and flip the pancake and cook briefly. Alternatively, pop the pancake under the broiler to finish cooking the top of the pancake.
Personally, I've always loved my pancakes dry, but my kids like their Dutch Baby with a little bit of honey on top. To be honest, their idea of heaven would include good old fashioned pancakes drowning in Mrs. Butterworth's syrup. Too bad for them that my utopian ideas reign in my kitchen.