Once when I was a newlywed I watched my grandmother boil potatoes. Because I was new at being wife and chief cook I was trying to learn all the tricks of the trade. So I asked Grandma what she turned the stove burner down to, to keep the potatoes boiling - but not boiling over - once they had started.
“Six,” she replied.
From that time on, whenever I boiled potatoes I turned them down to 6.
Or tried to.
The problem was that 6 is not the same on every stove.
And we moved a lot.
Every new home had a different kind of stove. Some stoves didn’t even have numbers. They had high, medium, medium-high, low. What would Grandma have done in that instance? What if the setting I picked didn't equal the 6 on Grandma's stove? Oh the humanity!
Eventually I learned that as long as you have water & potatoes boiling in a pot, there's not much that can go wrong. And Grandma's 6 was a good guideline.
I’d like to think that sticking to “6” was not only due to the fact that I am a meticulous rule follower, but also because of my deep respect for my grandmother and her life experience.
I believed that someone who had lived as long as she, had learned the right way to do life.
And earned the right to have others emulate her.
I am not yet the age my grandmother was when I was a newlywed, but I have passed the half century mark.
I thought I would know more by now.
I certainly don't feel as though I know enough to be imitated. I probably never will.
I guess if a younger person ever asks for life-advice all I can say is this is what worked for me. Then they can take that "six" and use it as a guideline.
And if anybody's interested, these days I turn my burner down to 4.2 when I boil potatoes.