Have you heard the one about the son who decided his aged father would have to be sent to the “poor house”? Yep, that’s what we Alabamians and Mississippians called such institutions back in the olden days.
One morning the son told his father, “Pa, you need to get dressed.” The old man said, “Whut fer”? His son said, “I’m taking you to the poor house.” The old fellow shouted with joy and jumped up, raced to the bedroom alternating between smiling, laughing, singing, humming and whistling. He soon returned dressed in his best suit and said, “Hey, boy, whut air yew a-waitin’ fer? Let’s go!”
Thoroughly perplexed, the young man said, “Pa, I’m taking you to the poor house because I can’t take care of you at home anymore. Why are you so happy about having to go to the poor house?” The old man’s smile was replaced with a scowl and he said, “Pore house? Pore house? Hell, I thought you said whore house!“
You, the reader, have probably noticed that the son and the father obviously speak differently. That’s because the son speaks English and the father speaks Alabamish—‘nuf said? That silly joke provides a segue for me concerning something our president’s wife said as she ascended to the speaker’s platform to stand beside her husband after he was elected to the White House in 2008.
She said, “For the first time in my adult life, I amproud of my country.” Apparently her pride in her country was generated by her husband having been elected to the presidency of the United States. I can understand her being proud of the country for having voted him into office, but for the first time in her adult life?
Evidently she was not proud of the country that gave him the opportunity to live free, that provided him the opportunity to live freely in a country that educated him, voted him into the Illinois state Senate, the United States Senate and vaulted him into the highest office in the land, a position considered to be the most powerful in the world.
Her statement made me realize that I was with the same emotion, but mine was in the reverse. I was ashamed of my country for submitting to the lure of the siren’s singing and allowing my country to go aground. We had no Orpheus and our country is foundering on the rocky islands. Her husband won the election and his wife expressed pride in her country for the first timein her adult life. For the enlightenment of those perhaps unfamiliar with Orpheus and the song of the sirens, I offer the following explanation provided by Wikipedia:
Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens — the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer‘s epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens’ bewitching songs.
Our ship is still on the rocks, but there is hope. Not the hope and change chanted in the last presidential election, nor the hope and change that would doom our nation to remain grounded, but the hope and change that will reverse our path and take us off the rocks and return us to deep water.
A fellow female blogger sent me a (an?) haiku and I considered it a challenge for me to respond with a (an?) haiku of my own. The challenger is one of my three daughters, the one that lives, laughs, loves and labors in the hinterlands of Northern Virginia along with her husband and three—count ’em—cats. Click here for her blog—it’s well worth a visit. Her many passions and photography skills present an astounding variety
of landscapes plus parties, places and people from all
over the US and several foreign countries.
Cheese Haiku (hers) Aged cheddar cheese Mike?
hmmm it smells like stinky feet
want another piece?
Okay, let’s take a look at that—three lines
obviously, with five syllables in the first and third
lines and seven in the second line. Nope, this won’t be
much of a problem for a stepper such as I (am).
Cheese haiku (mine) First piece not et yet,
Second piece I will not get.
Stinky feet? You bet!
Please note that my haiku meets the requirements of three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively—and it rhymes—your haiku didn’t even come close to rhyming—nanny, nanny, boo boo! And before you chastise me because I did not meet the requirement of a season, look again. Spring, summer, fall or winter, right? Right! Any reader will immediately connect stinky feet with summer, like, you know, really hot, and stinky sweatysocks on stinky feet shod in stinky sour sneakers will definitely qualify as stinky (note the alliterative phrases—I do love alliteration).
A special note: I beg forgiveness for making the image so large, but it was so inviting I couldn’t resist it.
These almost naked hot dogs, cleverly draped with lines of mustard covering strategic areas, await apprehensively but longingly to be smothered—no, slathered—okay, both smothered and slathered with the condiments pictured above. I suggest adding the chili first, then add the onions and several spoons full of melted cheese—globs, really—randomly placed so the meat and onions and chili can still be seen. One should always attempt to keep the palette of colors visible until the last bite disappears. This enables the sense of sight to join with the other senses of smell, taste, touch and hearing while one is indulging in a feast fit for kings.
Click here to meet the blogger who prepared this visual gustatory delight. With that one click you’ll meet a lovely lady with a beautiful smile, great hair and a knack for preparing, decorating and presenting gorgeous spreads that feature an incredible variety of foods, up to and including edible flowers.
With another click here you’ll meet the blogger who made the layout and the photograph, another lovely lady with too many lovely features and too many irons in the fire for me to list all of them, so I’m steering you to her STUFF ABOUT ME. Please do yourself, the ladies and me a favor and check out both blogs. I promise that your learning curve will go up and out of sight. I also promise that both bloggers will respond to any comment you may make, immediately or perhaps even sooner, and if they lag behind in their responses just let me know, and I promise you I’ll build a fire under them.
I have some very personal and selfish reasons for steering the legions of readers that frequent my blog to check out these bloggers—well, okay, maybe not legions but I do get a fair number of hits. I made my usual erudite comment on her hot dog layout, a sparkling comment sprinkled with a delicate blend of humor, truth and fiction, and I was so enamored of my writing that I decided to share it with my readers—to share the wealth, so to speak. That phrase seems very familiar, but I can’t imagine why.
What follows is my comment on Barbara’s posting. Yep, I asked and received her permission to use her photograph in order to bring my comment up and out of the Stygian darkness of comments and into the bright light, blah, blah, blah.
I love them ‘air hot dogs (‘air is south Georgia-speak for there, as in “I love them there hot dogs.” A few years ago–okay, it was quite a few years ago— I was en route to Detroit and changed planes at O’Hare in Chicago and I had the hungries (that’s right, right? Change the y to I and add es?). I went to the terminal SlopJar and ordered two dogs with chili. I was the sole customer, so it was reasonable for me to anticipate fast service.
I was served promptly. The two hot dogs were served on a paper plate, but hidden by a mountain of chili comparable to the fire, brimstone and ashes that covered Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted and interrupted the lives of everyone in town—yep, sent almost the entire population to another realm. Judging from some of the frescoes that were painted on the walls of the numerous bathhouses, a considerable number of the population may have descended (as opposed to ascended). There is a slight chance that I could be wrong, of course.
But I digress—back to the dogs. There were no utensils visible—no knives, forks or spoons, no solid silver, silver-plated, steel or tin and not even any of those flimsy plastic forks that reduce themselves to only one tine (prong), rendering it useful only as a toothpick. The attendant denied having any utensils under the counter, in the storeroom or in his pockets.
I had to assume that the buns and the dogs were under the chili because there were two distinct oblong shapes visible, and I gave no thought to using my finger to confirm what was below the chili because steam was rising from the mixture and that’s how Mount Vesuvius started, and added to that was the fact that no paper napkins were in sight.
I detest this phrase but I’ll use it anyway. To make a long story short, I sold the paper plate and its burden back to the attendant. I did not complain, and I made my request for reimbursement in words of one syllable (I hate that phrase also). I said, “I want my cash back.” He apparently had not been trained to offer an apology to a disgruntled customer, but he complied with the utmost alacrity in completing the refund transaction.
Oh, I almost forgot—your dog posting is nicely presented with literary precision and superb graphics. Only one item is a slight turn-off for me in the posting, and that’s in the photo. I don’t hate mustard, but I avoid it whenever possible. I like mayonnaise on my hot dogs, and I refuse to dilute the mayo with even a smidgen of chili.
I received this heart-wrenching but charming e-mail from a family member. After reading it and digesting its message I made myself a promise to do my best to follow the path this article laid out for me. Some of the items will be difficult for me to adhere to but others are, as they say, no-brainers, one particularly. In the poet’s words, when the path I travel diverges in two different directions I’ll choose the one least traveled, rather than follow the crowd.
This is the article I received:
One evening a long-married couple retired for the night, but only one awakened the next morning. On that cold clear morning in the warmth of their bedroom, the survivor was struck with the realization and the pain of knowing that sometimes there are “no mores.”
No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more “just one minute.”
Sometimes someone we care for the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return, before we could say good-bye or say “I love you.”
So while we have it, it’s best to love it, care for it, fix it when it’s broken and heal it when it’s sick.
This is true for marriage and old cars, and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it and because we are worth it.
Some things we keep, like a best friend who moved away or a sister-in-law after divorce. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.
Life is important, like people we know who are special, and so we keep them close.
Suppose one morning we never wake up? Do all our family members and our friends know we love them?
The important thing is to let every one of them know we love them, even if we think they don’t love us back.
I posted this article two years ago and it has not garnered any comments. Apparently those that read it—assuming that anyone read it, and that’s a big assumption—didn’t understand it, didn’t like it, were offended by it, simply didn’t give a fig or perhaps were afraid that they would, depending on the nature of their comments be either lynched by the conservatives for being racists or imprisoned by the liberals for a breach of political correctness.
I am serving it up again for consideration, a meal to linger over, a bounteous feast that beautifully describes our nation’s precipitous slide down a steep slippery slope, a slide that if not reversed will result in ours becoming a true socialist society, and the slope is too steep for us to return to our former capitalistic society.
The following is the original posting, dated two years ago:
A check of http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/tomatoes.asp shows that the truth of the letter is undetermined. The Snopes article references a June 2006 e-mail, purported to be posted to the Internet by the husband of a woman that teaches at a large southern California high school.
That husband’s original e-mail has undergone various changes wrought by its sojourn over the Internet over the past four years, including the changes I have made prior to posting it on my blog. Please trust me—the changes I made dealt strictly with paragraphing, sentence construction, subject and verb agreement, spelling, punctuation and other rules of good grammar. I also deleted unnecessary capitalizations, exclamation points and other superfluous treatments that battered and bruised the message rather than helping viewers to injest and digest its intended purpose.
I neither challenged nor changed anything that would either dilute or embellish the original e-mail I received. In addition to such necessary changes, the original e-mail had garnered the usual >>>s and other junk picked up by the original document on its trip through the vast regions of space and time.
This should drive everyone, not to drink but rather to think, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, and including the multitudes not politically oriented to any particular ideology.
From a California school teacher
Tomatoes and Cheap Labor:
As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things of which you should be aware. I am responsible for the English As A Second Language department at a large southern California Title 1 high school. That title designates a school that is peopled by students whose families that on the average are in lower levels of income and socioeconomic acceptability opportunities.
Most of the schools you are hearing about—South Gate High, Bell Gardens, Huntington Park and other Title 1 schools are schools where students are in the protest mode. Such schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I’m not talking about a glass of milk and a roll. I’m talking about a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott Inn proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with many trays being dumped in the trash uneaten. I estimate that more than 50 percent of these students are obese, or at least moderately overweight.
An estimated three of every four students have cell phones. The school provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls—some as young as 13—so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids.
I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year, although there was little need for anything—my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which one month later had been decorated with graffiti by appreciative students that obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America.
I have had to intervene several times for substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students, here in the country less then three months. Those students raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them putas—whores—and throwing things that the teachers were reduced to tears.
Free medical benefits, free education, free food, free day care, ad nauseam—it’s no wonder that they feel entitled, not only to be in this country but free to demand additional rights, privileges and additional entitlements.
For those that like to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they like their gardener and their housekeeper—and because they like to pay less for tomatoes—let’s spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the true costs of tomatoes. Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding and new diseases—as for me, I’ll pay more for tomatoes.
Americans, we need to wake up!
The current flood of illegal immigrants has everything to do with culture. They constitute an American third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15, a culture that refuses to assimilate, and our historic American culture has become so weak and worried about political correctness that we don’t have the will to do anything about it.
Cheap labor? Isn’t that what the whole immigration issue is about? Business doesn’t want to pay a decent wage, consumers don’t want expensive produce and government claims that we Americans don’t want the jobs.
The bottom line is cheap labor, but he phrase cheap labor is a myth and a farce. It’s a lie—there is no such thing as cheap labor.
Consider this: An illegal alien with a wife and five children takes a job for $5 or $6.00 an hour. With those earnings and six dependents he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year if he files an income tax return he is entitled to an earned income credit up to $3,200—free.
He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.
He qualifies for food stamps.
He qualifies for free—no deductible, no co-pay health care.
His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.
He requires bilingual teachers and books.
He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.
If anyone in the family is or becomes aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. If qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicaid. All this is paid for by legitimate American taxpayers.
He doesn’t worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowner’s insurance.
Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.
He and his family receive the equivalent of $20 to $30 per hour in benefits, entitlements provided by our benevolent government. Working Americans are lucky to have $5 or $6 per hour left after paying their bills and his.
These are the facts and the questions we should be asking of the congressional members of both political parties, and when members of either party lie to us we should exercise our right to replace them via the ballot box. The outcome of upcoming congressional elections is critical for working Americans, for our economy and for American culture and heritage.
A special Pee Ess:
Hey, I didn’t write this article and I offer no mea culpa. Please do not excoriate or execute me—I’m just the messenger. Feel free to pass it on or trash it—it’s your choice. In fact, you don’t even need to read it, and I’ll understand.
That’s my story and my excuse, and I’m sticking to both.
This brilliant evaluation of MSNBC’s evening hosts was posted eighteen months ago and has garnered zero comments. There must be at least one reader—someone, somewhere—that either likes or dislikes my literary efforts enough to make a comment. Don’t worry about me—if I can stomach the nightly ravings of these people, I can certainly survive any criticisms in return. To quote a certain ex-president of the United States, “Bring it on!”
On Friday, January 21, 2011 there was a happening, something that occurred which in my estimation and opinion equals the end of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon and the discovery of penicillin. I feel that I can speak with at least a touch of authority because I was present for all three of the wars and actively engaged in the latter two wars, and I sold lots of newspapers on my route during World War II.
I predict that when the day comes that a cure for cancer is discovered, that event will take its rightful place in history, along with the events mentioned and along with the departure of Keith Olberman from MSNBC.
As of this writing it is unknown, at least in the sphere in which I toil, whether Olberman’s departure was acknowledged by management with a ceremonial…
The various segments of the government of the United States and its military components thrive on acronyms. The people in those segments breathe, eat, sleep, love, work and worship acronyms. The Supreme Court of the United Status (SCOTUS) has just approved the health act created by the President of The United States (POTUS). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now the law of the land. It desperately needs an acronym that will readily identify the law, something other than ACA. That acronym is already in use by numerous associations ranging from the American Canine Association to Opryland’s American Cornhole Association—Opryland’s ACA banner is shown below. The event features Corn Toss, Cornhole, Bean Bag and Bean Toss. This is their invitation:
“Join us for the first ACA end of summer tournament. $10,000 first place prize, over $20,000 in total prizes. Food and live entertainment.”
When ACA is voiced it sounds similar to one clearing one’s throat—try it and I believe you will agree that it is a no-brainer. Just use it several times in one sentence and you’ll find that your throat is clear and your listeners are grossed out. Conference attendees will frequently voice it just to clear their throats without offending others.
I have spent a considerable amount of time researching acronyms used by our military services and our government’s Civil Service. Click here for a comprehensive listing of units that have their names scrunched into a usable acronym, one that is easy to remember and which identifies the various units.
Just as an aside, if the horde of reporters assigned to cover Supreme Court activities should need an acronym I’ll suggest this one—just add an R to SCOTUS, the acronym for the Supreme Court Of The United States. The Supreme Court reporters of the United States would become SCROTUS, a monumental saving of time in television reporting as well as ink and paper in recording the Court’s activities. I offer that freely without any thought of compensation for violation of copyright laws, just as I offer CACA as the acronym for the new Affordable Health Act.
I have added the word comprehensive because the Act is designed to cover every person in the United States, and most would agree that is very comprehensive. However, although I do not consider the word comprehensible applicable to the Act, I proudly offer up my suggestion of CACA for the acronym of the Act, with no expectation for national publicity or monetary compensation. Oh, well, perhaps a few bucks and a stint on Fox and Friends.
Yes, CACA. It’s a good word, very expressive even though it’s not in my outdated copy of the American Heritage Dictionary. The closest it comes is the word cacao, the seed of the cacao tree, used in making chocolate. However, it can probably be found in any dictionary of the Spanish language and on the various websites that offer language translations. It’s a word that people do not normally use in mixed company or at formal activities—not even Spanish-speaking people. Check it out here—it’s a common slang word, used by millions of people—nay, billions of people. It’s pronounced differently in different languages but it means the same in all.
An added feature of CACA is that the two syllables of the acronym are pronounced with the same emphasis, except perhaps for those that do not favor the new law. In that case, more emphasis may be directed to the first syllable—in such cases the written word would probably be followed with an exclamation point. Here are a few suggestions for bumper stickers should people want to show their political affiliation:
Democrats love CACA!
Republicans hate CACA!
Obama’s CACA covers everyone!
I have just created another acronym that would apply beautifully to the Affordable Care Act. Simply change it to the Affordable Health Act. It then becomes AHA, pronounced Ah ha! with the emphasis on the second syllable. That Ah ha! may well have been what the Chief Justice exclaimed when he thought of changing the penalty clause to a tax clause, thus mirroring Archimedes’ exclamation of “Eureka” (in the Grecian language meaning “I have found it!) when he discovered the 47th Problem of Euclid while bathing, then immediately ran naked through the streets proclaiming his discovery. Whether the Chief Justice was performing his morning ablutions at the time is unknown, of course, but his discovery allowed him to join the liberals in upholding the act.
Several Sizes of Conference Tables
Large Contemporary Reception Room Check In Unit
(Bar Height) with Glass Top
Chairs of Various Sizes & Colors for Desks,
Conference Tables & Reception Areas
Large Printers Including HP Design Jet Format Printer &
Mx4100n Sharp Scanner/Printer
Office Supplies, Computers, Phones
Drafting Tables, Desks, & File Cabinets
Water Cooler & Bottles
Time Card Machine
Modular Wall Partitions to Put Together to Form Office Spaces
Pictures, Mirrors, Accessories
Refrigerator & Dryer
Large Punching Bag & Harley Motorcycle Seat
Portable Diesel Fuel Tank for Pick-Up Truck
Large Pick-Up Truck Cover & Jeep Hard Shell 5000 Pound Wench
Metal Racks & Sides to Put Together for
Storing Heavy Items (i.e. Carpet)
30-40 Bookcases in White, Walnut & Blonde Finish
The bankruptcy sale shown above appeared recently in the classified section of the San Antonio Express-News, the only daily newspaper in the seventh largest city in the United States. I subscribe to the paper because it’s the only game in town, and I enjoy finding bloopers that were either missed by the staff proof-readers or perhaps some proof-reader had a good sense of humor. They probably depend entirely on their computer spell checkers. Such programs are a boon to writers, but spell-checkers do not do well with homonyms.
NOTE: I high-lighted the 5,000 pound wench in red to call the reader’s attention to the blooper, wench instead of winch. It was not high-lighted in the advertisement.
The lady in the image below consumes 20,000 calories daily and weighs a mere 600 pounds, a weight that falls far short of the 5,000 pound wench advertised in the San Antonio bankruptcy sale. When—and if— you tire of the sight of that tremendous amount of excess avoirdupois centered in the woman, scale down and read about a real calorie consumer, a woman that wants to be the fattest woman in the world.
I stumbled upon a slide show online that features a British woman who aspires to become the fattest woman in the world, and she is well on her way. She lives in England, is engaged to a chef, consumes 30,000 calories daily and weighs more than 54 British stone—about 800 pounds, and her waist measures 107.5 inches. She has been fitted for her wedding dress and is scheduled to marry her chef this summer.
I’ve been seeing this magazine cover throughout the day. It’s all over television and everyone is weighing the pros and cons of breast-feeding a child for several years, considerably longer than our society has come to expect. I have decided to comment on it.
My comment will be neither pro nor con because it’s her breast (s) and her four-year-old son, and it is not in my nature to approve or disapprove the actions of others. I have enough faults of my own to worry about.
Many years ago I read a scholarly tome written by a professor from one of our ivy-league colleges. He spent a lot of time in one of our states, compiling jokes provided by citizens in rural areas of that state. He presented each joke, then went into a dissertation of its meaning. A few were somewhat obtuse but most were short, to the point and hilarious. I’ll keep the state anonymous and let the reader decide which state was selected.
I remember many of the jokes and would delight in sharing them with my readers, but I’ll be content with the one that is germane to this posting. Of course, there is a story about a young boy, an old man, a fence and a rabbit that I would like to post, but I will desist unless a clamor arises for me to post it.
The TIME cover dusted off the cobwebs from the following memory:
A traveler was driving through a rural area on winding unpaved roads with few direction signs and finally became lost. He came to a house and saw a man standing in the front yard, so he stopped and asked for directions. While he was talking, a woman ran out of the house and down the road with a young man chasing her, and the two disappeared around a curve in the road.
The woman was barefoot and her clothing was disheveled, so the traveler asked the older man why the woman was running away from the young man, and if the woman was in danger.
The older man said, “Aw, that’s just Junior chasing Ma—she’s trying to wean ‘im.”
I submit to you, dear reader, that the attractive blond mother on the TIME cover with the four-year-old boy “getting his ninny” direct from the source may have to outrun him when the time comes. She could outpace him now, but she needs to maintain that svelte figure as the years go by or problems might arise—so to speak.
With the admonition that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m furnishing a composite drawing of hernia areas, but please don’t be alarmed—it’s nicely drawn and gracefully presented. Had you worried there for a moment, I imagine.
Now droning on:
This is the third posting of my quadrilogy, the operatic part (Get it? Operatic, as in Operation?). I know, I know—that’s a stretch, but it serves my purpose of presenting the details of my hernia operation in smaller doses. Believe it or not, I have been roundly chastised for the extreme length of my postings, and that makes me wonder if those who cast their slings and arrows at me have tried reading Ulysses, or the Holy Bible or the New Testament—now those tomes are really lengthy dissertations.
With the help of my three adult daughters I presented myself—no, belay that—I presented my corporeal housing, my body, to Same-day Surgery at an ungodly hour, 5:30 AM on a bleak Thursday morning. The bleakness had nothing to do with the weather or its outlook, and everything to do with my reluctance to be there. I felt the same way when I boarded a plane bound for Viet Nam to begin my 13-month tour during the height of the war, a vacation from stateside duties with all expenses paid by the US government.
The process began a few minutes after I was comfortably seated with a nice view of a big-screen wall-mounted television. A friendly and very competent nurse confirmed my identification, determined and recorded my vital numbers—height, weight, blood pressure, and medications taken in the past 12 hours. She tthen produced a hospital gown, bade me strip, don the gown with the open part to the rear, don soft non-skid booties and then recline on a gurney while she trundled me to an area near the operating rooms.
My daughters were allowed to accompany me to that area and remain there until a nurse came to roll me into the operating room. In the interim I was furnished a silver hair cover similar to that worn in Arabella. the Hollywood movie starring Jane Fonda. Incidentally, I still have dreams of Jane and the costume she wore. No, they were not, and are not, nightmares. We are just two friends, similar to two boats passing in the night.
But I digress, so on to the surgery. I was fitted with a wrist tag with my name and other significant data, especially as to the location of the surgery. When the doctor came, he wrote on my left lower side, probably something on the order of “CUT HERE.” A needle was inserted into the back of my right hand, and I was hooked up to a portable stand with two clear bags filled with unknown liquids which dripped from both bags and converged into a single line and into the line connected with the back of my hand. When all the little shut-offs were turned to shut-ons I knew my time was near, and I’ll give you three guesses what the operating nurse said as she started wheeling me towards the row of operating rooms, areas lined up precisely like the cells at San Quentin—private rooms, of course, but just as secure.
What the nurse said as we started that last mile—that Green Mile—was, “I’ll see you on the other side.” Just before I entered a state of nothingness, I asked her if she would please rephrase that cheerful remark, and she said that she meant after the surgery was over and that she would see me on the other side of the area after I had recovered from the anesthesia, and this allayed my fears—slightly.
This concludes the third part of my surgery quadrilogy, and I’m sticking to it.
Stay tuned for the fourth—and final—part of my surgery. I know, I know. I heard that long sigh of relief.
Okay, come on now, admit it—you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the second installment of my recent hernia operation. I can understand your interest in this because everyone, whether male or female or a combination of both, are subject to such surgery. Other than a few statistics extracted from the web, I’ll leave it up to you to do the research. Click here to learn just about everything you probably never wanted to know about hernias and hernia surgery. It’s the most common operation performed by general surgeons in the United States, and males lead females in hernia surgery by a ration of 3:1 in the US. More than 750,000 inquinal hernias are repaired in our country every year by general surgeons.
Now on to Part Two of my quadrilogy, the diagnosis of the hernia.
I reported to the General Surgery clinic as directed and was examined by a Doogie Howser look-alike, the young man who performed fantastic surgeries on the television show Doogie Howser, M. D. from 1989 to 1993. My doctor (not really a look-alike, just young looking) replicated the hands-on exam that I endured in Internal Medicine and scheduled me for a sonogram to determine the exact location and the size of both hernias. He decided that the left hernia warranted surgery, but the right fissure was small and would not need surgery unless it expanded or became uncomfortable or painful—uncomfortable or painful for me, of course, and not for the hernia.
The doctor told me that he had three hernia surgeries in his early twenties, and since then had no other symptoms. I suppose that was meant to reassure me concerning my pending surgery, but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sleeping well before I was scheduled for surgery, and the wait between scheduling and operating was for too short and in no way helped my sleepless nights (I unashamedly admit that I dozed off for a few hours in the mid-afternoon while waiting, and in fact I still do). I believe it is somehow related to age, but in my case I believe that it’s because I am bored, and napping is something that seems to come naturally for me to make the time pass.
The sonogram gave a perfect picture of the two hernias, and I was scheduled for surgery the following week. I made several demands—no, make that several requests—including local anesthesia as opposed to general, no breathing tube in my throat and finally, that I had to be back home before dark. My demands—I mean requests—were given consideration and the doctor said they would do their best to meet them—that was shortly after his laughter subsided.
Okay, that’s the second part of my quadrilogy, the diagnosis. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Some nine months ago one of my daughters—the middle one in age, the one that lives, loves, laughs and labors in Northern Virginia, blogged about her work as the designer and producer of a bimonthly magazine for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I made a long-winded comment on her posting, and for nearly a year my comment has languished in the Stygian depths of blog comments.
I thrive on comments for my own blog, as do most bloggers. You can read her posting here, and you’ll have the opportunity to check our my original comment on her post. However, just in case you skip the comments, I will generously post the original comment below for your enjoyment., but please do not skip the original posting. If you skip it you’ll miss the last paragraph, the one in which my daughter gives me a really nice shout-out for assisting the publication. For your convenience I have extracted that paragraph:
I wrote to Ulf and asked if he would be interested in sharing his story with Hearing Loss Magazine readers. With editing and compilation assistance from The King of Texas (who also moonlights as my father, Hershel M. Dyer) and beautiful photos by Anne K. Haga, Ulf’s story—From Silence to Sound: My Quest to Hear Again—is now in print.
And finally, here is my original comment on her Six Degrees of separation, moved out of the darkness and into the bright light of day—enjoy!
A beautiful magazine, professional in every respect, and I am very pleased to have been part of its creation—a part perhaps no bigger than a mustard seed as your grandmother Hester might say, but still a part of the whole.
Moonlighting as your father? Moonlighting?
Being your father has always been and will always be a full time job. All those years since you stubbornly insisted at birth in presenting the soles of your feet to the world first instead of your head, have been a full time job. I will admit, however, although presented last instead of first, your head was beautifully rounded, and certain features such as the temporarily flat noses that were presented by your siblings at birth were absent in your case. The flat noses were caused by the long slide, of course, and soon rebounded.
My moonlighting since then has consisted of incidental tasks such as making a living to keep food on the table and shoes on everybody’s feet, assisting my country in losing two wars—Korea and Vietnam—working overtime to staunch the flow of illegal narcotics and illegal aliens into the US, detouring harmful plants, animals and vegetables away from our fields, cities and tables and controlling the outflow and inflow of people, vehicles and merchandise entering and exiting the United States..
I had a part-time job just trying to keep up with you, an effort in which I failed miserably. Six degrees of separation? That leaves some 354 degrees of separation between your mastery of so many varied skills and my success in trying to emulate them, so much separation that I officially surrender.
I give up, but I am exhilarated by the fact that you could not have done any of them without me. I take full credit for your creation—okay, half the credit—okay, okay, let’s just say that I suggested to your mother that we should have a second child—I guess one could say that I planted the seed, so to speak. Of course, I only suggested that to her after she announced that she was again in the family way—folks didn’t use the word pregnancy back in those days—they referred to it as being “in the family way.”
Nice work—kudos to you and Barbara for an outstanding publication.
Postscript: I took the liberty of extracting the following paragraph from a recent posting by Barbara, the lady mentioned above. You can find her home page here, and be prepared to begin experiencing hunger pains. She is a talented writer and a chef extraordinaire—oh, and she has really good hair and a marvelous smile.
These are her words:
When I’m not welcoming people to our home in the Washington, D.C., area, or writing this blog, I am deputy executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. I am also editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. I don’t have a hearing loss myself but with one in ten Americans having a hearing loss, I have family and friends who do.
At any time I am out and about and anywhere near a Half-price Book store, I park and enter and browse and usually find something I cannot do without—oops, I ended that sentence with a preposition. It should read “. . . something without which I cannot do.” Such was the case recently when I found a copy of McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader, a revised edition copyrighted 1907 and 1920 by H. H. Vall—yes, my copy is of the $5 variety, not one of the $1,000-plus revisions. My imagination is not strong enough to speculate on how much an original first issue might be worth.
I paid the princely Kingly price of $5 plus tax for my copy, primarily because its browned pages sheltered a newspaper clipping, torn and tattered and darkened by the years and held together with Scotch tape. The clipping also showed a brief statement labeled Lone Star Steel Company Drops. The statement dates the clipping at sometime during 1949 or 1950—probably in early 1950. The author, Nat Lamb or perhaps Nathan Lamb would now, if still living, be somewhere on the north side of eighty years in longevity. Dallas has more than its fair share of Lambs, both Nat and Nathan, and I could not pin one of them down as to age, gender or occupation.
As an aside, I have heard and seen the term fair share used in conversations and on radio, television and in print so often that I now cringe when it appears, whether through sight or sound. Enough, I say—enough, enough, ENOUGH!
The complete article follows:
THE PIED TYPER
Loneliness is a babbling hunch-back soul, lost on the way to tomorrow, groping its way through the misery of unending space, forever looking back . . . seeing nothing.
This is the anatomy of loneliness . . . the deformed bones of its being, the wasted flesh of its twisted body . . . this is the shape of loneliness.
A wispy scent of forgotten fragrance, jerking the mind back to memories of a dead first love . . . the uneasy stirrings of gardenia leaves, discarded, dropping onto the ash heap of a burned out love . . .
Soft murmured phrases, whispering through the corridors of time, breathing the glory of an undying love in days long dead . . . raising the gray and misty ghost of a forgotten romance.
The haunting lilt of music swirling through the night . . . a tune played on a harp with half the strings missing, a melody heard in a dim-lit cafe over wine glasses on a checkered table . . . music of the past, intruding unwanted into the present.
The half-remembered warmth of a caress, mingled with a vision of time-withered flesh, creased and wrinkled with the passage of years . . . the creeping death of marching time. . . the slaughter of youth and the mangled dreams strewn over the years . . .
The crackling pages of a lavender-scented letter, yellow with age . . . faded ink blurred with tears except for a signed name under the words “Yours forever.”
Loneliness is the day after forever . . . the waking moments after a dream . . . memories forgotten until the midnight hour.
Loneliness is the throbbing moan of a half-heard train whistle wandering through the night to nowhere . . . a wild ride on a runaway nightmare with no beginning and no ending . . . the muted throbbing of an aching heart.
It is a compound fracture of the mind . . .a creeping paralysis of the soul . . . a gust of cold wind over the emotions . . . this is the anatomy of loneliness . . .
Pity the poor heart.
Postscript: In my first reading this post I considered it a sophomoric attempt at humor, or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek satirical analysis of loneliness. It reminded me of the time a college professor noted that my writing was somewhat turgid. It that is indeed a fault, I cannot continue claiming that I am sans faults in every respect. I confess my guilt to the accusation of turgidity—in fact, I embrace the fault, if in fact it be a fault.
Just one more serious afterthought: With subsequent readings I realized that the article on loneliness mirrored many of my own thoughts and feelings, and even now after those readings I still find mirrored emotions that parallel the author’s thoughts, and if that means I am sophomoric, or of a satirical bent, so be it.
This post is the first in a series. It gives the link to a specific posting on a blog maintained by one of my three daughters, the second-born of three lovely girls—yep, my wife and I were short on boys, even though in every instance I placed my order for a boy. However—and that’s a really big however—we got the best of the deal.
I have a tripod of reasons for starting this series of postings. First and foremost, I want to give my readers the opportunity to view the gorgeous images on my daughter’s blog. She has mastered the art of photographing people, places, animals, insects and above all, glorious floral images—in fact, she has a comprehensive presentation of her talent now on show at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. The show began this week and will last through March and April.
The second leg of my tripod is to provide fodder for my blog, and if you decide to view those sites, please don’t forget to return to this site—the best is yet to come. I frequently comment on the artist’s postings, and most of my comments are somewhat lengthy because I almost always have a lot to say. As any blogger knows, most viewers neglect to give comments the attention they deserve, unless of course the comments are on their own blog. Thus my third reason for beginning this series is to showcase my comments, to bring them up and out of the Stygian darkness into the bright light of individual posts in order to give them the attention they so richly deserve.
In the interest of full disclosure I freely admit that I am blessed, or perhaps cursed, with a giant ego, one that of necessity requires constant attention and—well, constant adulation stemming from all those complimentary comments on my comments—got it? I will gladly and gleefully accept non-complimentary comments, but only if they are presented in proper English, reasonably temperate in tone and bereft of foul language.
Each posting in this series will begin with all the above en toto, including this sentence, and my comment will begin with the URL that prompted the comment. You’ll need to read the posting first, then return to the comment—if not, you’ll have missed the best of the best on Word Press.
As a youngster I cleaned the cookie mixing bowl one finger-load at a time (the social finger of the right hand). I mean, like, you know, when I was finished loading and licking the sweet dough and the wayward chocolate bits from my finger, the bowl could be returned unwashed to the cabinet shelf.
I estimate that in my early preteen years I consumed enough raw cookie dough that had the cookies been baked and allowed to accumulate, they would have kept several Girl Scouts busy delivering cookies for several days, and it in no way affected me, affected me, affected me . . .
Nice photos and a great narrative. By the way, are you sure the black cookies were not enhanced with Mary Jane? I remember (vaguely) that such enhancement darkened them—some might consider them tainted, of course.
I am sharing this video with my readers with the hope that they will understand why I am posting this plea for help. Many, perhaps most, panhandlers are out to make a buck without contributing anything in return. I intend to become a panhandler, but I will be a panhandler of a different kind. I won’t ask for money or food or sex or warm clothing regardless of the weather. My plea is for compassion and companionship, and I believe this video will help put potential contributors in a giving mood.
My soiled cardboard placard will announce my burning need for kindness and understanding, and will read as follows:
Please help me – I am desperate!
No matter how menial or laborious the task may be, I will work for conversation (on any subject), adulation (sincere or otherwise), hugs (sincere or otherwise, but please don’t squeeze my Charmin!) and cuddling (spooning is optional) at any location at any hour of the day or night whether undercover or in plain sight, whether in a furniture store on a recliner, sofa or a PosturePedic mattress, either undercover or atop the covers, whether at the Ritz-Carlton, any Red Top Inn, Motel 6 or at your house or mine.
As an aside, please remember that my offer to work for conversation, adulation, hugs and cuddling is offered to anyone who is willing to pay my price. There is only one exception. The offer applies to males, females and anyone in between, but cuddling applies only to the opposite sex and I am of the weaker sex, namely male.
If you have dawdled in traffic long enough to read this placard, traffic is probably backed up for miles and you should stop laughing and move on, and I’ll settle for a smile, a frown, a wave or a honk (from your horn, not your proboscis) and if you must frown then make your best frownie face and hope it doesn’t freeze that way, and may God speed you safely to your final destination following innumerable intermediate stops along the way.
Signed: Juan Hung Lo (a ruptured Hispanic/Oriental male)
Special note: The name and the ethnic terms above are fabricated for fun but the ruptured part is an unfunny fact, and I have the hospital discharge papers to prove it!
The floral image below is a photograph that was created by a multi-talented blogger. She is a professional photograper, desktop publisher, artist, sculptor, gardener, writer, event planner, party hostess, homemaker, loving wife, and a lover of all animals whether feathered, furred or scaled. She has other diverse talents, but in the interests of brevity I’ll settle for just these few.
The following image was posted on her blog. Click here to begin a wild ride through a kaleidoscope of images from a great number of our states, from countries ranging from Canada to the South Pole and from various countries in Europe. The text below the photo shows several comments made by visitors to the site. The first comment is by the blogger, and the third comment is my evaluation of the image.
What follows is a comment from the creator of the photo above. She is one of my three daughters, the middle one in years, the one that lives, loves, laughs and languishes in Northern Virginia. The comment that follows is in her response to Scott, a viewer who asked how she achieved the “glow” in the image.
Scott, this morning glory was blooming just outside my office window, below the fence line—and when the sun came through, it was a directed beam through the railings on the front porch—the glow caught my eye and I ran outside to catch it before the light changed! It helps that the background was dark (the shed and the woodpile), so that makes the glow pop even more. I guess the secret is to always pay attention and be ready to capture the light—ops like this are so fleeting. I’m just glad my camera was next to the computer, the battery wasn’t low, and there was actually a CF card in it.
Katie, another viewer, made this comment:
The middle of the flower looks like a female silhouette. Was that done on purpose? if not, amazing–if so, still amazing!
And (finally) my comment on the image follows. It is rather lengthy, but I was so smitten with the work that I felt that a pithy analysis was in order. I had to put the resemblance to the Mother and Child in its proper perspective, and that ain’t easy!
Just as an aside, the word pith got me into trouble with my eighth-grade English teacher, a buxom and pleasingly plump lady who wore short skirts and low-cut blouses and dresses, and she would often drop her chalk and bend over to retrieve it. Normally she would turn toward the class, but in one memorable instance she faced away from the class and bent over at the waist to pick up the chalk. I suppose that she wanted to avoid exposing even more of her buxomness than the low-cut blouse provided. In one instance that posture, that incredible vision, spurred me to acknowledge it with a whistle, and said whistle was then acknowledged by said teacher. She returned to an upright position, turned her blushing face to the students and demanded to know the culprit. The entire class turned around, pointed to me and in unison said “He did it!”
I’ll make that a separate posting soon, and I will include the incident involving the word pith—that’s not a threat, it’s a promise! But I digress, so on with this posting.
My comment on the image follows:
Katie is right on—there is definitely a female silhouette in the bloom. I can’t believe I missed it—thanks, Katie.
And I can see in the outline that the female is holding a child—great Scott, Cindy! You have captured the Madonna and Child—no, not that Madonna—the one that artists have portrayed over the centuries. Raphael is one of the most famous, but many have painted the Madonna and Child, The Holy Mother and Son, Mary and Jesus.
I can remember stories about images of Mary or Jesus or both being found in tree bark, in a toasted cheese sandwich, in a piece of toast, in an oil slick on the pavement, potato chips and Doritos, and there are probably many more that I missed. And all have drawn crowds of one size or another.
If the news of your Holy Vision in a picture of (whatever that is) gets out, especially to this part of the US and to our nearest neighbor to the south, the faithful will be beating a path to your door. They’ll leave all sorts of flowers, emblems, wreaths, burning candles and notes with wishes and prayers. You’ll have to hose them down just to get out to your car—the faithful, not the burning candles—although the candles could pose a problem for the local fire department.
And it’s possible—nay, probable, that some will bring sick and suffering friends or family members so they can be near such an apparition, in the hopes they will be comforted, perhaps healed.
I believe that you should submit this photo to your local papers, to one or more photography magazines, perhaps present it to some of your local theologians for inspection and comments. You need to protect your rights on this one—it may be a real winner.
And, of course, a closer look may lead one to believe that the image shows a woman holding one child aloft and pregnant with another. Hey, it could still be Mary—we have no way of knowing whether it is, or is not. After all, Joseph had been waiting on the sidelines for quite awhile before the Babe was born, probably with mounting impatience (no pun intended), and he must have been filled with joy that the Child, the first of their marriage, had arrived.
Most husbands, at least those with children, should be able to relate to the joy that Joseph felt—I know I did. My wife conceived and birthed three children, then committed herself to nurturing them. She projected her sweetness, honesty and joyful love of life into each of them, and bequeathed me three beautiful daughters, each a good person in every respect.
I was filled with joy at each birth and I remain filled with joy to be their father.
This posting is my comment on a post made by the blogger who created a cereal bowl for little people, specifically little people with small appetites. Reward yourself by going to her blog to find out exactly what happened. You can find it here. You should plan on devoting several hours on your first trip to the blog, because you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous one-of-a-kind photographs of flowers, gardens, landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, animals and people, and various activities such as constructing concrete leaves, beading jewelry, knitting, wedding planning and a host of other diverse creative projects, all presented with erudite and stimulating descriptions.
Yes, I said stimulating—some of those blossoms rival—nay, surpass—some of the fabulous and highly suggestive photographs produced by the immortal Georgia O’Keeffe. And then, of course, I could be wrong about that.
The following is my original comment on the posting:
It’s beautiful, and I love that shade of blue. I suggest that you ditch the spoon and the hands in future photos intended to support marketing this item. Photograph the bowl only and advertise it as a cereal bowl, and avoid details concerning its size. Just say that it can be used for cereal but don’t specify strictly for infants, or even as an outdoor bird bath, but don’t specify strictly for hummingbirds.
In your copy you say that the bowl, or bowls, may be returned for any reason, exactly as packaged by using the original packing. Most recipients of the item, or items, will have tossed the original packing by that time and they will be stuck with their purchase.
You will eventually, of course, be added to the Better Business Bureau’s blacklist and be required to turn belly-up, so to speak, and go out of business, but just consider this—the world’s population exceeds some six billion people—that’s a six followed by nine zeros, and the United States alone has about 330 million people–that’s a couple of threes followed by seven zeros.
If you only captured ten percent of the US population with your cereal bowls before joining Mr. Madoff, the Ponzi scheme gentleman now serving his 150-year prison sentence, you would have earned at least $3,300,000, minus expenses, of course—just think of all the things that could be enjoyed by your relatives that remain outside the prison walls and trust me, we would come out of the woodwork.
I know, I know, I have fartoo much time on my hands. Hey, I just created a new word in the previous sentence when I failed to space between the word far and too. I didn’t correct it because I may copyright it.
Oh, and by the way, George’s comment referred to certain anatomical features of homo sapiens. It had no relation to shrinkage of ceramic items when fired.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As everyone remembers, George’s comment was anatomical and did not involve shrinkage of ceramic bowls.
Papa John, my step-father, placed little emphasis on the yuletide season, whether regarding religion and the birth of Christ or on the spirit of giving at Christmas time. I can only remember two gifts he gave me. I posted the story of his promise to my sister and me that he would get us a dog for Christmas, and how he kept his promise. Click here to read about that memorable Christmas. It’s a sad story, sadder even than that of Tiny Tim Cratchet in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol—well, not really that sad, but it was memorable.
We lived on a small farm in Mississippi for a year or so, just long enough to sell off the cotton and a bit of timber, enough to give our stepfather a grubstake to return to a life to which he had become accustomed before marrying into our family. With the money in his pocket, he only needed to create a situation that would infuriate him enough to rid himself of the albatross around his neck, namely my mother, my sister and me. Click here for that merry tale, a story of violence and threats, including me and my sister racing to gain a hiding place and safety in the woods.
The only other Christmas gift my stepfather gave me over the seven years I lived with him, on-and-off for varying periods of time, was a .22 caliber Remington rifle in as-new condition, having been restored by a gunsmith. The wooden stock had been refinished and the metal parts re-blued. He also handed me a box of fifty .22-short rifle bullets. If you should ever have to be shot with a .22 caliber weapon, opt for the short bullet. Its casing is shorter than 22-long bullets and thus has less powder to propel the lead or copper tip.
In my boyhood I devoured the stories told in books by Zane Grey and James Fenimore Cooper. At an age somewhere between eleven and twelve years and with that rifle in my hands I became Natty Bumppo—Hawkeye—the protagonist in The Last of the Mohicans, moving silently but swiftly through the virgin Eastern forests, unseen and unheard, avoiding every twig, bush or loose stone that might reveal my presence to the wily Hurons bent on lifting my scalp, all the while protecting the white women that the author felt that renegade Indians coveted for whatever nefarious purposes.
I was also in pursuit of desperadoes, violent and dangerous men as depicted by Zane Grey including bank robbers, cattle rustlers, horse thieves and those that at one time or another had neglected to tip their hat on meeting genteel ladies on the wooden sidewalks in western frontier towns, nor did they step aside to the muddy street to allow the long-skirted ladies safe passage—the ladies were therefore required to raise their skirts to avoid the mud, thus revealing their ankles to the salacious men by deferring to them and stepping off the boardwalk into the muddy street—bummer.
As President George Herbert Walker Bush—Bush #1—might say, shortly after receiving the rifle I was in deep you know what—I was in a lot of trouble. Unknown to me at the time, our neighbors on our right some mile or so distant raised turkeys for the market. As I prowled through the forest in that direction looking for Indians or rustlers or bank robbers, I came upon a clearing with a dead tree in its center, stripped of its leaves and its branches festooned with turkeys. Since I had found them in the forest I immediately deduced that they were wild turkeys and commenced firing with the intent of putting meat on the table for my family, starving after a meager crop, with no money and a dearth of wild animals for food.
My turkey rifle was a single shot, and my stepfather had told me to never carry a loaded rifle, to load it when I was ready to shoot at something. This involved pulling back the bolt, digging a cartridge out of my pocket, inserting the cartridge into the barrel, closing and locking the bolt, then pulling back the firing pin and locking it into position to fire. Only then should the weapon be aimed and the trigger be pulled to release the firing pin that strikes the shell and ignites the powder, providing the force to propel the missile to, or at least in the direction of the target. My rifle was definitely not a rapid-fire weapon, and that feature probably saved me from disaster.
I laboriously reloaded after the first shot—the turkey I had aimed at did not seem to be adversely affected, so I took my second shot at a different bird. That turkey also seemed impervious to the bullet, but I was denied a third shot, whether at him or one of the others. I was in the process of reloading for a third shot when the owner of the turkeys entered the scene, running and shouting for me to stop shooting his turkeys.
I didn’t know that our neighbors had changed from a white family with a passel of kids, one of them a beautiful red-haired cross-eyed girl about my age, but a young girl that had all the attributes of a mature woman, or at least all the visible attributes of a mature woman. A black family was now living on the farm—yes, that’s what we called African-Americans back in the olden days—and the turkey-farmer was big and moving swiftly in my direction, shouting at me to stop shooting, so I wisely matched his speed in the opposite direction and headed for home as fast as my bare feet could carry me.
I never knew whether my bullets struck either of my turkey targets. I would hope that I missed completely, but I was afraid to ask my stepfather. I told him about my error in thinking the turkeys were wild, and he just laughed, then went into a long discourse on the use of firearms and safety after telling me that there were no wild turkeys in that part of the state.
I don’t know whether the neighbor ever came to our house to talk to my stepfather, or whether my stepfather went to his house. I have my doubts that either happened. As for my hunting efforts with my rifle, I never again went toward the turkey farm, with or without my rifle—I had lost most of my attraction for shooting at anything, whether animal, vegetable, mineral or otherwise.
The rifle is in my possession now. In the early days of our marriage, I used it for collateral to get enough money to buy gasoline for our 250 mile trip home from visiting my wife’s relatives. Many years later my brother-in-law returned the rifle to me for the exact amount of the collateral—five dollars. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but gas was only 22 cents a gallon in 1954.
I treasure that rifle. I treasure it so much that it’s stripped down into three pieces, stock, barrel and bolt, and stored in three different places in my home. Finding all three pieces would be a daunting task for a burglar—in fact, I’m not sure that I can find them—and should an intruder enter while the house is occupied the task would be even more laborious and completely unneccessary because I have a veritable arsenal of weapons readily available for such an occasion, as do most patriotic and conscientious citizens in my neck of the woods.
To paraphrase Art Linkletter in his old-time television show, Kids say the darndest things, humor can be found in the darndest places. I received this video recently in an e-mail from a lovely retired couple in Florida that migrated from North to South, legally of course, leaving the winters of Ohio and fleeing for the flora and fauna of Florida, going from icicles to iguanas, from shoveling snow to seeking shade, and apparently living and loving every minute of life in the sunshine state.
This is the video from YouTube that the Florida couple sent, a video that has already been viewed one and three quarters of a million times—you can keep it moving towards the two million mark, but please be forewarned that it makes a strong political statement, an incredibly funny one but still definitely political.
If you tend to lean toward the left on the political spectrum you might want to skip the video—it might make you laugh even if you are so tilted to the left that you are lying down, so view it at your own peril. However, if you tend to lean toward the right even ever so slightly, you will be doing yourself a gross disservice if you don’t watch it. Please note that the audience found humor in four separate places in this brief portion of the president’s speech, but their laughter and applause reached a crescendo when the Great Communicator delivered the punchline. And at the time of this posting, 2, 625 viewers say they liked the video and only 80 have voiced their dislike. None of the votes is mine—I strive to remain neutral in this area, a position that is rather difficult to maintain and I sometimes stray, but I still try.
I do not own a Porsche automobile. I have never owned one nor have I ever longed to own one, and unless I hit the lottery for multiple millions I will never own one. Having said that, I can state without any hesitation that should I ever have an occasion to drive a Porsche, on a test drive perhaps after I bank my lottery winnings, I will not—and I repeat, I will not—drive it as suggested by Jeff Purner, a professional driving instructor for Porsche Cars North America.
Our local paper is the San Antonio Express-News. It’s the only daily newspaper in San Antonio, Texas and each Monday it publishes a feature called Monday Drive. On Monday, June 6, 2011 the feature was titled Take action before you hit the road, an article provided by NewsUSA.
Most of the advice given by the professional driving instructor in the article deals with routine maintenance such as checking windshield wiper blades, tire condition and inflation, fuel and other gages, condition of seat belts, headlights, brake lights, turn signals and positions of external and internal rear view mirrors. The professional Porsche instructor states that checking those items before you turn on the ignition could mean the difference between life and death. He also extols the dangers of cell phones, whether texting, talking or using GPS applications, and considers such actions equal to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
I am in complete agreement with Jeff Purner, right up to the point that he is quoted as saying, So many accidents can be traced back to bad decisions before you even get behind the driver’s seat. At that point Jeff and I are in violent conflict concerning auto safety—at opposite poles, so to speak.
If you, the reader, wonder why I do not agree with Jeff Purner, a professional driving instructor for Porsche Cars North America, please read the previous paragraph and note carefully where apparently Jeff sits when driving—behind the driver’s seat rather than behind the steering wheel. I believe that even if his arms were long enough to reach the wheel, there is no way he could reach the brake pedal or the gas pedal, or the clutch if the car has a manual transmission, and his vision of the various dashboard controls and gages would be severely restricted.
I will therefore counter the professional driver’s advice with my own: Do not get behind the driver’s seat to drive a car unless you are a very large and very highly trained octopus. With your four pairs of arms you could then dedicate specific arms to work the brake pedal, accelerator, mirrors, sound system, cell phone and a GPS unit, and still have two arms for the steering wheel. I believe that makes eight—yep, that’s all eight of them.
Those of us who are not octopuses—yes, that is the correct plural for octopus—should check all that stuff before getting behind the wheel, not behind the driver’s seat. I will also counter the advice of Porche’s professional driver to hold the wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Poppycock! Poppycock, I say! Keep holding that wheel at 10 and 2, and for heaven’s sake, do not listen to those that would tell you to hold the wheel at the bottom, whether with palms up or palms down. Either way you are subject to contribute to drivers’ efforts to fill heaven up sooner rather than later, heaven and that other place also.
Long, long ago in a far-off land, way back in the good-old-days of the past century when I was gainfully and sometimes painfully employed, my managerial duties involved a close, professional and personal relationship with narcotic detector dog teams. On two separate occasions during mandatory training sessions in classes conducted in the field at various locations. the instructor defined a narcotic detector dog team as “a leash with a problem at both ends.”
I lodged my protest at such a definition and the instructor noted my objection. Whether the instructor continued to characterize the teams that way is unknown, at least to me, and in the not-too-distant future I severed ties with my employer—I retired, an act that was quite pleasing both for me and for my employer, and there-in lies a story—nay, a series of stories, but those I will hold in abeyance for now.
My reason for this posting? I submit that the president of the United States is at one end of a leash and our national unions are on the other end, therefore both are problems, and their actions are adversely affecting our nation. I refer, of course, to the current bru-ha-ha of Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, and to the actions of the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, and finally to our president’s apparent non-involvement in that conflict.
I considered going into detail concerning the current conflict between the Boeing Company, the unions and the NLRB, but I will resist the temptation—those who follow current events will be familiar with the situation and those that do not follow current events would not be interested in details. And I will not specify whether the president is leading or being led in my analogy, although I have an extremely strong opinion as to which position on the leash he occupies. I’ll leave it up to my readers to decide that, and I welcome any input, whether pro or con.
The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! – Jane Austen.
That quote by Jane Austen was the THOUGHT OF THE DAY recently on the home page of Refdesk.com, a reference source that in my untutored opinion is one of the best reference sources available online. Try it—you’ll like it!
The writer died young at the age of 41 and garnered little fame during her lifetime. However, posthumous publications of her work established her as a major contributor to the world of literature. Austen never married but received a proposal for marriage, one that she accepted but then she withdrew her acceptance the following day. Her answer to a request for advice from a niece was this: Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection. Click here for a biography of Jane Austen provided by Wikipedia.
And now for my unprofessional and unlettered analysis of Jane Austen’s statement shown above. In a Herculean effort to understand it, I viewed the quote in physical rather than metaphysical terms and I may have perhaps unlocked her secret, that part of her that caused her to formulate the statement. The answer lies in her plaintive statement that I require so much!
I believed it first to be a mental or psychological aberration, and of course it may have been, but it perhaps could have referred to a physical flaw, albeit still an aberration. The psychological aberration refers, of course, to a person that has an inexhaustible need for sex, a condition termed by professional psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists and to a lesser extent by the common man, an insatiable libido, a medical condition, a need for sex that can never be satisfied and makes life unbearable for those suffering from such a condition—yeah, right!
Now please don’t misunderstand me when I approach her comment from a different slant, so to speak, and postulate a condition somewhat different than an insatiable libido. Perhaps when Jane Austen said I require so much, she meant that her physical makeup includes a corporeal void rather than psychological, an area so large that she felt that it could not be filled by any man. One cannot help but wonder if she ever submitted to a trial effort. Or perhaps she was tremendously promiscuous and through trial and effort concluded that it was hopeless. She was engaged for a very brief period, less than 24 hours—she agreed to a proposal for marriage but retracted her agreement the following day. And a growing school of today’s scholars are exploring the possibility that Jane Austen may have been homosexual—some believe that her love for her sister kept her unmarried and uninvolved.
I know, I know—I’m being naughty but I can’t help it—it’s my nature, it’s in my genes. I cannot resist seeking out and elaborating on double entendres, no more than a squirrel can resist storing up nuts for the winter, or a dog resist barking, a cat resist meowing, a mule resist braying or a cow resist mooing—their natures demand those actions. They are involuntary, just as are my evaluations and explanations of double entendres. I suppose I should apologize, but my nature also precludes apologies. Besides, all things are possible, so the possibility exists that I am right in this instance—concerning the void, not Jane Austen’s love for her sister.
Postscript: Biographers of Jane Austen differ on the cause of her death, but at least one researcher, Katherine White of Britain’s Disease Self Help Group, suggests that Austen died of bovine tuberculosis, a disease associated with drinking unpasteurized milk. And that calls for a posting dealing with that subject.
Stay tuned—I’ll conjure up images from my childhood far back in the past century, shrouded in the mists of time but still quite vivid in my memories, and I’ll get back to you later with the intricate details of making butter the old-fashioned way, and I’ll tell you up front that today’s way is far better.
The city of Farmersville, Texas is located in the far north corner of the state, with a population of 3,542 in 2009 and still growing, and in that city is a restaurant called—are y’all ready for this unusually alliterative name?
Intrigued by the name, I reviewed some of the comments made by various customers. The first one below is a classic that has a typo—at least I believe it is a typo. It must be a typo because no sane husband would refer to his spouse as his wide rather than his wife, especially while stressing that she considers the fried peanut butter pie a special treat. Click here for a food critic’s review of the restaurant.
Here is the husband’s comment:
You have to try the fried peanut butter pie. It is wonderful. My wide and I have it as a special treat. Wow!
More raves about the restaurant:
Good home cookin’ here! I’ve never recommended a restaurant based on a side dish, but if you are anywhere near Farmersville, you have to try this fried cabbage. Nothing I ate was on my diet, and all of it was worth treating myself, but the cabbage was magnificent. I was told it is boiled, and then fried on the grill with onions. Oh wow! It is hard to mess up a chicken fried steak (though public schools do try), but the one I ate was very, very good. Not too much breading, plenty of actual meat, and gravy that will make health nuts cry. The fries were not great, but not bad, and mustard helped them. I did taste my wife’s okra and mashed potatoes. Fantastic. Daddy O’s it is worth the drive, especially if you like themed restaurants and southern cooking. Get there soon, and don’t take your doctor. http://mnmwrite.blogspot.com/2010/02/food-notes-daddy-os.html
Chantilly Lace and Some Great Food I love this diner!! This is a gem of a diner located in the heart of Farmersville. A true step back in time. There are all sorts of pictures and memorabilia from the 50s and 60s. Oh, and the food is fantastic.
Great atmosphere. This is a great restaurant to go to and have a wonderful hamburger. The food is great and the prices are reasonable. The staff is friendly and the 50s rock n’ roll theme is enough to make you want to stay for more.
“Loved loved loved this place. the food was great, the waitress was friendly and the place was very clean. Loved the decor. Live in Princeton, so we want to go back soon.”
Some excerpts from comments:
“The food is great and the prices are reasonable” “great atmosphere “ “Even better is the chicken fried steak” “Oh, and the food is fantastic” “Chantilly Lace and Some Great Food “ “Loved the decor” “I love this diner!!” “Our server was quick to tak.”
I don’t understand the last excerpt, the one that states that the server was “quick to tak.” Was she/he quick to talk, perhaps, or quick to take, as in a gratuity, or was quick to task? I guess we’ll never know, unless the commenter reads this posting and decides to explain the meaning of “to tak.”
I now have Daddy-O’s Doo Wop Diner on my bucket list. In fact, it’s the only item on my bucket list, and I may or may not ever add another item on the list, but I will go to Farmersville and I will go to the diner and I will order the chicken-fried steak and the fried peanut butter pie. I have a trip scheduled to visit one of my daughters in Wylie, Texas this summer, and she lives just 39 miles from Farmersville, so the first and only item on my bucket list may well be crossed out after next week.
The only other item I may consider adding to my bucket list is riding the zip line (now in construction) from Mt. Everest, the highest attainable point on earth—29,029 feet above sea level—to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth on dry land—1,371 feet below sea level. The zip line will run for 7,500 kilometers or 4,750 miles. One should pack a lunch and wear several layers of Depends—even with an average speed of 100 miles per hour the ride will require 48 hours to move from top to bottom.
Perhaps depending on the public’s interest the zip line could become an aerial tramway with spacious cars fitted with bars, food counters, restrooms and sleeping accomodations something on the order of sky boxes at our sports arenas (I’m unsure whether the sky boxes have sleeping areas). If that should come to pass, I will insist on being compensated for my basic suggestion to upgrade to the tramway system.
I’ll get back to you later with more details. Oh, and just one more thought—I made up that zip line thing, but wouldn’t it be great! Take a look at the globe and just imagine the scenes moving below, gorgeous even at 100 miles per hour—and just think about the photo possibilities!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: Every story has at least two sides, and what follows is the other side of this story. I found a somewhat negative review—well, actually it was a scathing rebuke of the diner, its servers, its services, its food and its restroom facilities.
The following comment was dated April 16, 2011 and is presented exactly as found online, with no effort made to correct punctuation, spelling, capitalization errors or sentence construction. Apparently the bottom line of this comment is that the writer probably would not recommend Daddy-O’s Doo Wop Diner in Farmersville, Texas, not for breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight chow, nor for a picnic basket to take out—of course, I could be wrong.
My first time there. And thank god my last! Worst service ever. We went there for breakfast, missed it by 4 minutes. The waitress appeared to look exausted and hung over. she acted like we were twisting her arm when we inqired about breakfast. She said the cook was in a bad mood mood and would not make any exceptions. I ordered an apetizer and pretty much recieved it WITH MY MEAL. where I come from you serve apetizer s before your meal. I ordered the sampler.with cheese sticks, fried mushrooms and corn nuggets.They arrived in a bed of oil. Every bite felt like drinking a cup of vegetable oil. The mac n cheese should of been called” water n mac” cause there was not any cheese flavor what so ever.she kept forgetting the little things like to check on us refresh our drinks and to smile. I took my 3 year old to used the bathroom and let me tell you it looked like the sewer scenes from the ninja turtle movie. Dont get me wrong I love diners, I will just try to pretend this was a bad dream.
Minutemen were members of the American colonial militia during the American Revolutionary War with England. Modern minutemen have been in the news recently, ordinary citizens who are working on the Mexican border monitoring immigration, businesses and government operations in an effort to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants, smugglers and illegal substances flowing into our country. Click here for the official site of the Minuteman Project.
And now just for fun here’s a bit of levity, a somewhat different definition of a minuteman:
Minuteman: A customer that double-parks in front of a house of ill repute.
A special note: Visitors familiar with my blog will undoubtedly notice and perhaps question the brevity of this posting. I have been chastised for the length of my musings, chastisements including terms such as overblown, overlong, verbose, childish, inane and other terms, up to and including ridiculous. The chastisement I hold dearest to my heart is a simple comment—and simple is the operative word—that was posted to my dissertation on Fox News’ Harris Faulkner.
The comment was: I think you are a boob.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript:Click here for my essay on Fox News’ anchor Harris Faulkner—trust me, the posting is worth viewing—oops, I meant to say the posting is worth reading.
Countless times over the years I heard my mother say that she was not afraid to die, that she had lived her life with love for her Maker and in deference to Him, and that she was ready to meet Him at any time He called her. My mother believed that if one had faith, even though that faith be no larger than a mustard seed, then everything would be alright regardless of the situation, whether it be sickness or hunger or severe weather or any other danger looming on the horizon. And if you’ve ever seen a mustard seed you’ll have a good idea of how much leeway that gives one regarding the amount of faith one must have as one travels through life in this realm—let’s just agree that the size of a mustard seed leaves a lot of room for error, for straying from the straight and narrow path.
In late November of 1980 my mother was hospitalized with an embolism near the heart and was scheduled for surgery. She was so thin and the embolism was so large that it was visible under the skin, expanding and contracting with every heartbeat. When I arrived at the hospital late in the afternoon she was in the Intensive Care Unit, scheduled for surgery early the next morning.
She was understandably fearful of the pending surgery, and I told her that her fear was normal, that anyone would be afraid, and then I reminded her of the oft-quoted power of the mustard seed, the seed that if faith were no larger than, then everything would be alright.
My mother’s answer? With tears flowing freely she said, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to hear any more about that mustard seed!
My mother was a heavy smoker, beginning in her teenage years and continuing through adulthood and middle age and later. She never really became old—her body took her into old age and reflected that long journey, but her mind and her thoughts and her outlook on life remained young, right up to the end of her time here on earth. Somewhere around the age of fifty she enrolled in a course of mail order studies and eventually became an LPN, a Licensed Practical Nurse. She often nursed persons rendered helpless after years of smoking and she was well aware of the dangers of the habit.
In response to admonitions to quit smoking, she always said that she would quit smoking when she was eighty years old. She smoked her last cigarette on her eightieth birthday in 1977, and her death came in November of 1980, almost four years later. Her surgery was one of those instances, according to her doctors, in which the surgery was a success but the patient died—her heart was not strong enough to endure the invasive and intensive surgery.
One of her doctors told us that her lungs were remarkably clear, particularly considering some six decades of smoking. I’ve never believed that—his comment was probably meant to be some sort of balm in an attempt to keep her survivors for blaming her cigarette habit for her death. It was not necessary—none of us placed any blame on her—our blame was aimed at the cigarette makers.
That’s it—that’s the story of my mother’s surgery and her death, the only time that I was present when a member of my family died, although I was privileged to attend the funerals of several relatives during my boyhood days. One by one my family members fell—mother, father, brother, five sisters and my stepfather, not necessarily in that order, of course. From the age of sixteen I was far off from home and was able to attend only a few of the funerals, whether my immediate family or those of assorted relatives—brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins—all gave up this realm for another as the result of accidents, disease, old age and in one instance, suicide—none was murdered, at least none of which I am aware.
Of my immediate family I am the last one standing. I’m not particularly proud of that, but I’m not disappointed either. I remain, I exist, perhaps due to the luck of the draw, the roll of the dice, or the turn of the wheel, or perhaps because of divine providence. Perhaps the Creator has a special purpose for me.
Hey, it could be—perhaps some day my WordPress musings, my ramblings, will be consolidated in a pseudo autobiography and published world-wide in numerous languages, and perhaps my tales, my escapades, my foibles and my frolics will influence someone to turn away from a life of sin and pleasure and become a monk and one day become the Pope, the holy keeper of the Catholic faith, the only living link with St. Peter, an apostle of Christ and the rock on which He built His house.
And perhaps not.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I’ll be back later with more thoughts of my mother—stay tuned.
This evening I am privileged to introduce the president of the United States, Barack Obama and our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. However, before I introduce them, this gentleman and this lady that loom larger than life in national and international politics, I would like to point out serious flaws in both the president and his Secretary of State.
Both have multiple flaws, just as everyone else has, but their major flaws lie in their public speaking expertise, or lack therof. The president is continuously described as the most powerful man in the world, and he also is lauded by many to be the most powerful speaker on earth—our esteemed Secretary of State runs him a close second, both in position responsibilities and in public speaking expertise.
I imagine most of you are familiar with the Toastmaster’s Clubs that exist across our nation. Those clubs are dedicated to improving people’s performances in public speaking, particularly in extemporaneous presentations, speeches made off-the-cuff as opposed to reading a speech or utilizing a teleprompter.
Many years ago, while I was still gainfully employed as a military service member, my immediate supervisor was an Air Force major who was a member of a local Toastmaster’s Club. The members met each week for five weeks and each member presented to the others an extemporaneous speech.
Each speaker was graded by the positive and negative comments of the other members, and each week the person that voiced the most uhs in speaking was given a large pink plastic piggybank. That person was required to keep the pink pig on his work desk in the coming week and return it to the next meeting to be awarded to the next speaker that uttered the most uhs. The uhs were viewed as piggy oinks.
That pig sat on the major’s desk for five consecutive weeks. Each week he lugged it to the meeting and returned an hour later and put it back on his desk. At a later date he joined the Club for another five weeks, and the pink piggybank sat on his desk for that five weeks also. I transferred out soon after that, and I have no knowledge of his activities since then. Uh, however, I can, uh, assure you that he, uh, is still lugging that, uh, that pink, uh, pig back and forth, uh, each week.
If you, the reader, have not guessed my reason for this posting, please allow me to explain. My point is this: If Uhbama and Hilluhry joined a Toastmaster’s Club, the club would need two pink piggybanks, one of which each week would sit on Hillary Clinton’s desk at the Department of State, and the other on the president’s desk in the Oval Office. Incidentally, that desk was dubbed the Offal Office during Bill Clinton’s presidency—okay, maybe not—maybe I was the only one that gave it that title, but it should have been given that label—he earned it.
But I digress. Has anyone counted, or even noticed, the frequency with which Hilluhry and Barack Uhbama say uh when they have no teleprompter? And how many times Uhbama stretches the word and to a count of five seconds and then adds the word so stretched out for another three of four seconds. He is desperately trying to formulate his next words and uses the uh, and, so trio to give him time to think. He also frequently uses the three words in sequence and sometimes adds and then, also stretched out to gain more time.
In virtually all his public speeches, beginning with the speech at the national democratic convention in 2008 and continuing in his speeches during the presidential campaign he used a teleprompter—without it he would not be the president of the United States today.
One can sum it up by saying that the president has never met a teleprompter he didn’t like.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I learned while watching Fox News today that the White House has created an office that has been tasked to screen various media including books, newspapers, television shows and talk radio stations for criticisms of the present administration, and then develop and apply tactics to counteract such criticisms. Yep, that’s our tax dollars at work.
While rambling around a Virginia blogger’s site I came across a photo masquerading as a breakfast in a Huntsville, Alabama home. I was born in Alabama but left there as soon as I could, illegally migrating at the age of five with my family far off to a westerly location in Mississippi, some thirty miles distant from my birthplace. For the next eleven years or so, I had many occasions to return to rural Alabama and I consider myself an expert on country breakfasts, including their composition, presentation and consumption. Click here if you are even the least bit interested in my humble beginnings—it’s a good read—check it out.
Please heed my warning—do not attempt to follow a mule while breaking new ground for planting if this is all you had for breakfast because neither you nor the mule will last until dinner—yes, dinner, not lunch. Country folk do not do lunch, except perhaps while visiting in colder climes in the northern regions.
Breakfast at Sue’s 23 11 2008 En route to Texas for the holidays, we stopped to stay overnight and spend Sunday with our friends, Sue and Steve, in Huntsville, Alabama. They moved from Virginia in April 2007. Sue always has funny napkins on hand, and Sunday morning’s breakfast proved no exception—guess she’s not a Yankee anymore with that attitude! Sue buys most of her funny napkins from Swoozie’s.
And this is my comment on the counterfeit breakfast, a comment that is beautifully composed and presented and can be consumed far more readily than the fruit and pseudo sandwiches shown in the photograph:
Breakfast? BREAKFAST? In Alabama? Where are the grits and eggs and sausage and bacon and biscuits and gravy? No new ground ever got cleared and plowed and cotton never got planted, chopped, picked and hauled off to the cotton gin by people with such a breakfast—that’s not a breakfast, that’s a brunch. Is that a glass of tea? FOR BREAKFAST? Where’s the steaming mug of coffee, one-half chicory, one half cream (real cream) and the other half sugar (real sugar)? This is a country breakfast!
I can only surmise that the invasion of hordes from Northern climes has wrought such drastic change. That “breakfast” wouldn’t provide enough energy to get a team of mules harnessed and hitched up to the wagon. What a pity, or as we say in South Texas, “Que lastima!” As Stephen Foster lamented in his ode to Ol’ Black Joe: “Gone are the days . . .”
With that off my chest, let me say that the table setting is lovely, the photography is superb as always, and your hosts Steve and Sioux—I mean Sue—are the ultimate in graciousness. Their migration from Alexandria to Huntsville is Virginia’s loss and a boon to Alabama—these are people who will always “. . . leave the light on for you.” Click here for a beautiful dissertation on painting, poetry and picking cotton, all relative to this posting—a great read!
And as always when the need arises I will render full disclosure concerning any of my WordPress postings. The breakfast blogger is my daughter, one of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and labors in Virginia, and that bogus breakfast is the work of a transplant from Virginia, formerly a neighbor and still a best friend of the blogger, her BFF as they say on facebook. Sue is a lovely lady that has become a genuine Southern belle in every respect except, of course, in learning what constitutes a country breakfast. I trust that she will learn and conform as time passes—and time is fleeting, Sue!
Beginning in October of 1950 I spent 15 months in South Korea during the height of the Korean War, first at Taegu Air Base until it was overrun by the Chinese early in 1951—we retook the airbase a few months later—and then at Kimpo Air Base near Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Taegu and Kimpo were cold and wet, as was all of South Korea, and facilities lacked few of the comforts to which I had been accustomed.
For several months I slept in a sleeping bag in a tent on a canvas cot with no mattress, I performed my ablutions in the outer shell of my steel helmet and at breakfast, lunch and dinner time I fished cans of food from a 55-gallon drum placed over a flame to heat the water and the contents of the cans. I used the same helmet shell for bathing, shaving and hand washing with water from a two-wheeled water tank trailer in the center of our tent city—at least I did that when there was water in the tank. It usually stood empty for a couple of days before being refilled.
Incidentally, the sleeping bag was a gift from a fellow GI who was rotating to the states. I learned the first night I used it that it was swarming with body lice—crabs—and the next morning I sprayed it liberally with DDT and also liberally sprayed myself with DDT. The spraying burned a bit in various locations and crevices—burned me, not the sleeping bag—but it killed the body lice, critters known as crabs in the vernacular. Crabs were a fact of life in Korea. DDT killed them on contact, but as the DDT dissipated the many-legged little devils again proliferated—the battle between body lice and us was an on-going affair, a give-and-take relationship consisting of them biting and us scratching, with never a truce or peace agreement.
The cans of food came from boxes of C-rations. Rather than issuing us personal boxes every day—each box held three meals—our superiors felt that it was more propitious to remove the cans of food, place them in the drum and have us fish for cans at mealtime. There were days when the only thing I could catch in the barrel was canned pork-and-beans, and to this day I cannot look pork-and-beans in the face without feeling nauseous—I can eat ’em, I just don’t look at ‘em!
I didn’t complain then over our accommodations and the lack of normal niceties, and I’m not complaining now. I knew the troops on the front were sleeping in foxholes and many were dying in battles. Trucks loaded with full body bags were frequent sights as they passed by headed for makeshift morgues to the south. I’m simply setting the stage for an event that helped make up for the pork-and-beans, the helmet for a wash basin and the days and nights we spent on the flight line, maintaining aircraft, loading and launching them toward the front and retrieving them on their return—if they returned—some did not.
The morale-uplifting event was a visit to Taegu Air Base in 1951 by a Hollywood troop that performed on a makeshift stage facing a hillside covered with hundreds of homesick GIs. We were entertained by Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Jerry Colonna, Errol Flynn and numerous other luminaries and dancers and a real band. For a short few hours we shuffled off the privations of being in a war zone, 12,000 miles away from home, hearth and family.
Errol Flynn was late getting to the show because he walked through tent city and received many invitations from the GIs to stop and have a drink. He was well into his cups when he stumbled onto the stage, and his contributions to the show were minor. Not that we minded, but he sure didn’t project the image I remembered from his swashbuckling movies. Oh, well, it was wartime and we were in a war zone—abuse of alcohol by the GIs was common and late arrivals for duty assignments were numerous among us—we understood and accepted the actor’s fall from grace—his dereliction of duty, so to speak.
I vividly remember a line in Bob Hope’s opening monologue. He said he was told that Korea was a peninsula, a long neck of dirt extending into the ocean. Then he looked out over the crowd and pointed to someone and said Hey, that guy has a long dirty neck, so I guess that makes him a peninsula—in fact, I see a lot of long dirty necks out there. That was about as corny as corny gets, but the hillside erupted with applause and laughter.
In the interests of keeping this posting brief, I’ll promise to post more information about those 15 months I spent defending the United States and democracy in a country still stuck in the 18th century—there were no skyscrapers in the capital city of Seoul, human excrement was still used to fertilize crops, and primitive tools were still used for building and for agriculture. Building scaffolds, for example, consisted of bamboo poles held together by bindings made of hemp—the ropes may have been ripe for smoking purposes, but I don’t know whether anyone tried that. It would have made some of our trials and tribulations a bet easier to endure—not that I would know, mind you, because I have never—oh, forget about it, I don’t want to talk about it any more!
The show was uplifting in many respects. Marilyn Maxwell reminded us of how beautiful a blond-haired white-skinned round-eyed female could be—there was a definite dearth of such in Korea. Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna entertained us with slap-stick comedy, Errol Flynn showed us that Hollywood immortals were human after all and could be bested by that old demon rum, and the band reminded us that live entertainment was far better than the recordings played over the US government radio stations available to us.
During my tenth year of schooling I enrolled in a typing class. I would like to say that my interest in typing was an effort to hone my writing skills and perhaps follow in the footsteps of the great authors, giants such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Orwell, Vonnegut and lesser lights. I would like to say that but I will not say it because it would not be true. I had a rather strong ulterior motive to learn how to type.
There were several typing classes taught by different teachers, and I chose the class taught by the one that was said to be the best teacher of the group. No, belay that. I can’t say that because it would also be untrue, and I cannot tell a lie, at least not in this instance. This is a WordPress blog and I do have my standards.
I chose a specific teacher’s class because she was quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive, and the rumors that swirled around the campus of the original Stephen D. Lee High School in Columbus, Mississippi in that stellar year of 1948 were that she had been known to dally with some of the students.
Well, actually, the talk in the restrooms reserved for male students was that she—well, it was not only talk but it seemed to be confirmed by some of the writings on the walls of the stalls—the talk intimated that she dallied with students, and in fact some of the images depicted such dallies, crudely of course but rather effective. Walls of the stalls has a solid resonance, don’t you think? Quite expressive, and also quite masculine!
Well, actually, the rumors and the writings and the crude images drawn indicated that she not only dallied—she was said to have actually diddled some of the students. The writings and graphics were routinely obliterated by the janitors but mysteriously re-appeared, often on the same day they were removed.
I attacked that state-of-the-art upright finger-operated non-electric Royal Standard typewriter with all the fervor a fifteen-year-old lad could muster, and after three or four weeks I was typing 65 words a minute, and that was after taking off 10 words for every error made, regardless of its nature, whether a misspelling, a wayward comma, a failure to capitalize or missing a period—hey, that last error has a double meaning!
I felt in my first week that the rumors might have a modicum of truth—judging from my observations there was definitely some meat on those bones—the rumors, that is. I know, I know, that term could apply to the typing teacher and in fact did apply to the typing teacher, and it was distributed in all the right places in the right amounts. Before the second week ended I had convinced myself that the rumors were probably true, and I had also convinced myself that the teacher was perhaps considering me a possible candidate for diddling purposes.
That quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive typing teacher was a hands-on instructor—literally. She would often stand behind students, both males and females and reach across a shoulder to point out errors and perhaps to demonstrate how to retrieve the carriage to start another line, with the other hand on the student’s other shoulder to help maintain her balance—the teacher’s balance, that is. I believe I made many, perhaps most, of my errors while she had her hand on my shoulder.
I was a cutie at fifteen and I can prove it. One day when I was around 10 or 11 years old I was with my mother at a grocery store, and I can vividly recall a remark made by the check-out lady. She asked my mother if I was her boy and my mother replied in the affirmative. The lady then said, “He’s a real cutie. He’ll be a heart-breaker and a home-wrecker when he grows up.” Don’t bother to ask whether that prophecy came to pass. I will stand on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and refuse to answer on the grounds that it may tend to get me into all sorts of hot water and incidentally, of course, would tend to incriminate me. Also incidentally, the image on the right is not me—that’s Michelle Pfeiffer, a gorgeous lady that realized her true calling while working as a checker at a California supermarket. I used this photo to simulate a grocery checker—Michelle probably dressed differently at work.
That heart-breaker and a home-wrecker remark had the same effect on me that I felt several years later when a young girl out in west Texas told me I looked just like Van Johnson. I blogged that incident, and that posting has a lot more than that to offer—it’s worth the read, and you can find it by clicking here.
On a fateful Friday I made my move, and in doing so I made a fatal error. I dawdled after class until I was alone with that quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman and then I made my bid—actually it was a proposition—I proposed, provided that she was amenable to my proposition, to share some time with her over the weekend. Exactly what I said and how I phrased it is enshrouded in the mists of time, but I’m sure that it was concise and to the point and could not possibly be misunderstood. Actually I blurted it out, and I could see that she was transfixed by the proposition. After a long meaningful stare, she answered thusly, each word enunciated slowly and distinctly:
I do not want you in my class. Do not return to my classroom on Monday. Find another typing class or a different subject to fill this period. Is that clear to you, or should I repeat it?
The mists of time have also shrouded my response to that measured order. I have a feeling that my only response was to vacate the premises as quickly as possible. I probably squeaked out something similar to Yes, m’am, it’s clear to me and no, you don’t need to repeat it, and immediately made my exit, out of the class and away from that ugly broad—I mean, I made my exit away from that quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman.
On Monday morning I fully expected my homeroom teacher to tell me that my presence was urgently required in the principal’s office. However, she called the roll and then released us to head out for our classes. I waited until the others left and told her that I was not doing well in my typing class and needed to replace it with something else.
Without questions or comment she scheduled me to a second hour of biology, sentencing me to two hours, back to back, under the tutelage of a well-past-middle-aged woman that dressed in multiple layers of clothing, wore heavy black stockings rolled down to midway between knee and ankle and had a face remarkably resembling a turtle—in fact that’s what the students called her—old lady turtle. Actually, I thought she was kinda cute, but of course I have a soft spot in my heart for turtles—in fact, I once had one for a pet.
That’s my story about a state-of-the-art upright finger-operated non-electric Royal Standard typewriter and a class taught by a quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman who turned out to be an ugly old unappreciative toad that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole—not that I had anything that resembled such an item.
My only regret concerning this situation is that neither she nor I will ever know what we missed—well, I’m pretty sure I know what I missed, but I can’t speak for her. In the words of the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.
The poet had another saying that had I known it then I would have told that typing teacher this: The joy you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. With that included in my proposition my weekend might well have been remarkably more memorable.
Where ever she is now, whether she is still in this realm or has left it for another realm, I wish her well.
A couple of months ago I posted the story of my family’s brief attempt at living life on a farm in Mississippi in a three-room house with no bathrooms, no electricity and no running water. Winter was kept at bay by two fireplaces that heated the combination living room and bedroom and a separate bedroom. Added to those two rooms were the combination kitchen and dining area and a lean-to intended for storage, primarily for stove and fireplace wood and livestock feed. Click here to read the details—it’s well worth the read, featuring tales of cotton picking, sexual abuse of chickens, killing twin fox terriers and threatening runaway children with a shotgun.
This posting is about an incident on the farm that featured a feral tomcat. One evening at dusk my stepfather, knowing that I longed for a pet, came in from the barn and told me there was a wild cat in the barn and that if I could catch him I could keep him for a pet. Although I was exultant at the thought of having a pet, I approached the barn with more than a modicum of apprehension—I had learned earlier that his promises should not be taken literally, but with a grain of salt.
One Saturday soon after we moved to the farm he promised to bring me a present from town. I felt sure that it would be a bicycle, but it turned out to be a wheelbarrow, to be used to clean stables and other indelicate and backbreaking activities. I spent that Saturday afternoon shoveling you-know-what out of long-neglected barn stalls and hauling the loads to our garden and to what my stepfather called his horse pasture, although we didn’t have any horses. Also one year near Christmas time he promised to bring my sister and me dogs as Christmas presents—he gave her a collie and me a Pekingese—hers decorated an ashtray and mine was a leaded doorstop. Read the full story here.
I was surprised to find an actual wild feral cat in the barn, hiding out among the hay bales and equipment stored in the barn’s loft. Equipped—armed, actually—with nothing more than a flashlight with weak batteries, I finally cornered the cat, a multicolored tomcat with a ferocious temper. I caught him after many tries, each of which added to the plethora of scratches he inscribed on my hands and arms. I tried to stuff him in a burlap bag but finally just wrapped it around him and made a triumphant return to the house. The hardest part of that return was going down the ladder from the barn loft using only one hand, with the other holding firm to some fifteen pounds of wriggling screeching tomcat.
The farm included a skid-mounted store fronted by a single gas pump, a dinosaur mechanism operated by first pumping fuel from the underground tank with a hand pump into a glass reservoir with gallon marks and then using gravity to lower the required number of gallons into a vehicle’s tank.
The little store measured some 12 by thirty feet and was stocked by those items that country folks needed to replace between visits to markets in the city, items such as bread, cigarettes, cigars, snuff, candies, thread, needles, lard, sugar, flour and various canned goods. The store was infested with rats, and my stepfather told me to close the cat up in the store and it would take care of the rats. That sounded plausible to me as a temporary measure, and then I would begin a program to domesticate my new wild pet.
It was not to be. That cat ate an entire loaf of bread the first night, leaving only the plastic wrapper. Store-bought bakery bread came in one-pound loaves only in those days—today’s one and one-half pound loaves had not yet been developed.
My stepfather indicated that he understood the cat’s depredations, considering that he had been in the woods with only bugs and field mice for sustenance, and then only if he could catch them. He told me to catch the cat and cage him, then put him in the store again in the evening. Having filled up on a full loaf of bread, the cat’s movements were slowed down, and that feeling coupled with his belief that he had found a cat’s Shangri-La made him easy to corner and catch. That day happened to be a Saturday, and at dusk I locked him in the store.
The store was closed on Sundays, and my stepfather awakened to start his usual morning with a few snifters of bourbon before breakfast, a practice that continued following breakfast, and in mid-morning we opened the store’s door and the cat catapulted out—did you get that? He catapulted out and kept going, quickly disappearing under the house some one hundred feet or so from the store.
The evidence was spread all over the floor near the bread shelves. A full pound loaf was a bit too much for him this time, and several slices were scattered about, some whole and some shredded in various stages of having been eaten.
My stepfather voiced numerous epithets, loudly and earnestly and not one of them was anything similar to “That darn cat!” No, they were not gentle, and all contained words and threats not really suitable for my young ears—not that I hadn’t heard them before, of course—and all seemed to be centered on the likely untimely demise of the cat.
And so it came to pass. My stepfather raced—staggered, actually—to the house and retrieved his 16-gage shotgun from its stance against the wall in the corner nearest to his side of the bed he shared with my mother in the combination living room/bed room. The shotgun was kept fully loaded with a live shell in the chamber, as was the military .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol he kept on a bedside stand, again on his side of the bed.
The house was built on piers that provided a substantial crawl space underneath. The shooter kneeled, peered under the house and fired one shot from the shotgun. I soon learned that the cat had been outlined against the base of the brick fireplace when the buckshot took his life.
I learned that because I was tasked to bring out the remains and dispose of them properly. It was not an easy task because numerous particles had been splattered against the bricks, but I managed to clean up everything, to not leave anything that might cause unsavory odors on hot days.
There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that I would like to tell now. It seems that some unruly urchins had inserted dynamite into a certain orifice of a stray dog and then lighted the fuse. Abe was witness to the explosion and he commented at the time that, Well, that dog won’t ever amount to anything now—at least anyway not as a dog.
That story is probably apocryphal but it serves to showcase Lincoln’s sense of humor and perhaps his belief in an afterlife, perhaps even in reincarnation. Who knows? Could be!
I know that my erstwhile potential pet, that feral feline, that thief of baked goods and consumer of the same never amounted to anything else, at least not on earth and not as a cat. And as regards reincarnation, I and my family have had several cats over the years, and I cannot discount the possibility that one or more of them could have been reincarnations of that wild cat I rescued from a life in the woods and sentenced him to be executed, to die an untimely and undignified death for no other reason than his hunger and my drunken stepfather’s temper.
That was as close as I came to having a pet while I lived with my stepfather. I did come close another time when I saw a speeding car hit a black-and-tan hound dog on the road some distance from our house. I raced to him to see if he was alive, and finding him inert but breathing I carried him back to the house.
That was no easy task—that darn hound was full grown and weighed almost as much as I did. I stretched him out on the front porch and asked my mother if I could take care of him and keep him if he lived. She assented but only after considerable thought, saying that he was probably a working dog and that my stepfather would want to keep him for hunting. We scrounged around for something to use as a bed, and with an old quilt in my arms I returned to the front porch.
The dog was gone. I looked around the yard and then glanced up the graveled road where he had been hit, and there he was, going full-tilt in the same direction he had been going when the car hit him, going at full speed without a trace of a limp, kicking up gravel with every stride.
For a moment I felt anger, not for the driver that had hit him, but for the dog that fooled me and made me stagger a considerable distance to get him to the house, then forced me to convince my mother to let me nurse him and keep him. Yep, I really took it as a personal affront that he had recovered so nicely and thus denied me an opportunity to nurse him back to good health and keep him for a pet.
My anger was brief, however—I realized that had I kept him and returned him to good health and he turned out to not be a working dog, a dog that would not contribute in some way to the family larder, he would eventually suffer the same fate suffered by the two fox terriers and the wild cat—splattered, perhaps, all over the brick fireplace and at that thought I breathed a sigh of relief.
When I posted Does hell exist? I’ll report, you decide, it was with tongue pouched firmly in cheek. If you haven’t read it, or if you have read it and were so fascinated that you have been looking for it to reread but couldn’t find it, click here—it’s a shortcut for you!
I did not intend it to be a serious monologue on the existence or lack thereof, either of heaven or of hell. However—and this is an important however—on April 28, 2011, I watched and listened to a discussion on the subject between Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and Reverend Franklin Graham, the eldest son of Billy Graham.
O’ Reilly felt that non-Christians, particularly Jews, might be and should be accepted into the Christian heaven even though they do not accept Christ as the son of God and the savior of mankind. They consider Christ to be a great leader and an important prophet in history, but not the one that is foretold in the Holy Bible. Those of the Jewish persuasion still await the coming of the Messiah as foretold in the Bible.
O’Reilly strove mightily to share his belief with the reverend that the millions of Jews slaughtered without mercy by Adolph Hitler in the Holocaust, for no other reason than they were Jews, were in fact innocents and could be accepted into heaven, assuming that they were God-fearing people and had lived a good life and followed the tenents of the Holy Bible.
Franklin Graham danced around O’Reilly’s question, quoting the Bible by chapter and verse as proof that heaven can only be entered by those that believe in the Trinity, the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct identities—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those seeking heavenly immortality must believe and express their convictions that Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of mankind, placed on earth to teach and ultimately to die for the sins of mankind that they might obtain heaven by believing in him and by following his teachings.
Instead of vocalizing his opinion of whether the Holocaust victims would be entitled to enter heaven, Franklin Graham remained hidden behind a wall of scripture. Bill O’Reilly, unable to extract a firm answer to the question and frustrated by that wall and the time limits placed on the interview finally caved without further comment or questions, and graciously expressed his thanks to the reverend for spending time in the No Spin Zone. The following video contains the O’Reilly’s discussion of religion with Franklin Graham:
And now back to my however in the second paragraph above. I intend to expand on my thesis that hell is not a place peopled by the souls of those that failed to follow any particular school of religion. It does not exist as a place or a location or a destination, neither a transit point nor a final destination. It is nothing more than nothingness, neither light nor dark, neither hot nor cold. It cannot be seen, felt, endured, enjoyed, deplored or described other than that it is nothing, because it does not exist.
In summary, the life that we live on earth will determine whether we transit to heaven when death overtakes us. Our immortal souls will be welcomed in heaven and exist for eternity, or will simply cease to exist at the moment of death.
We will know that we are in heaven, and if revelations as described in the scriptures is true, at the time of revelation our bodies will be raised, and become as incorruptible as our souls. The bodies of those denied the pleasure of heaven because they lived an un-Godly life while on earth will remain on earth, unknowing and unknown for eternity. I consider this a harsher punishment than the present concept of hell. The ultimate punishment is to be denied immortality in heaven, and that punishment is strengthened by the fact that those denied heaven are not even aware of that denial.
That’s a capsule of my interpretation of heaven and the absence of hell, my analysis of those that are heaven-bound for eternity and those that will be consigned to nothingness for eternity. That nothingness replaces the devil, so we will undoubtedly create societies similar to the present devil worshipers. It won’t be easy for them. How does one create a figure of nothingness? What symbols can be constructed to represent nothingness?
I earnestly solicit contributions in support of my transformed form of religion, my concept of heaven and no hell, just a whole lot of nothingness instead of a place ruled by a horned figure dressed in bright red long underwear, sporting a long tail and carrying a pitchfork.
Please make contributions of food, clothing and money to charitable organizations and devote significant hours of personal participation in charitable activities.
Do this, and you will be on the path toward heaven—you will encounter numerous forks in that path, and I suggest that you follow the poet Robert Frost’s advice and take the path less traveled. In this world of today, the well-worn paths taken by the multitudes lead straight to nothingness, the only alternative to heaven.
Of the two alternatives, heaven will always be less crowded.
This is a revisit to a post I made in August of 2010. It has languished in the Stygian darkness of prior posts and in that period of seven months it has garnered an astonishing total of three comments—one from a blogger in Virginia, a person that combines the talents of a writer, blogger, painter, wedding planner, party planner, sculptor, photographer, desktop publisher and gardener—and two comments from her father, the King of Texas. Yep, that blogger is the second-born of three beautiful girls that unashamedly admit to the world at large that I am their father.
I take an enormous amount of pride in the story of Miss Mary—writing it was a labor of love and reading it is, for me, a return to a gentler world, one without nuclear energy, atomic weapons or rap music. Miss Mary influenced my life to such a degree that I still adhere to most—but not all—of the principles she taught me, her efforts aided substantially by her use of an 18-inch wooden ruler.
This story is true. I wrote it in 1987 when I lived for six months—an eternity—in Houston, Texas. The story has appeared in sculptor Tom Clark’s Cairn Studio quarterly issue, a publication that is distributed to dealers and collectors of the artist’s work in every county in every state in our United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. Please note that any use of this document, other than brief excerpts, is prohibited by US and international law—it cannot legally be used in any other fashion without my permission.
Yes, ma’m, I still like prunes
On a special September morning in Mississippi many years ago, the air was crisp and clean and cool, and the woman standing in the doorway folded her arms against the chill. Her deep-set eyes, startlingly blue in a heavily lined unsmiling face, were fixed on a small boy as he neared the steps.
To a casual observer she presented a normal picture. A portrait from an earlier time, perhaps, than 1938, a time of black high-buttoned shoes and ankle length skirts, black and thickly pleated. Her white cotton blouse, high-necked and long-sleeved, was relieved in its starkness only by lace at the neck and wrists. Her hair was tightly plaited and shining in the early morning light, the heavy braids coiled and crossed in an intricate crown of silver.
I was that small boy, and I was not a casual observer. For me the picture was very different as my dragging steps brought me closer to my first full day of school. Fear of the unknown made me forgo any shortcuts between home and school, choosing the longer way to delay the inevitable. I was late, and as I squared the final corner the tardy bell rang. From the bottom step the black-skirted figure loomed gigantic, conjuring up visions of darkness, of beating wings, of things seen only in dreams.
I would come to know the woman as a pioneer educator that brought many innovations to her state and city educational systems. And I would come to love her. On that day I found a friend, and that friendship would be broken only by death.
Although past retirement age, she continued her position and her duties as an elementary school principal, and remained a dynamic figure and force in state and local school administration. In a career that spanned three-quarters of a century, she gained the respect and love of all that knew her.
We called her Miss Mary. She had another name, Stokes, but few of us knew it and none of us used it. She was simply Miss Mary. I spent my first six school years in the square two-story red brick building, my attendance broken only by the unpredictable moves of an itinerant carpenter stepfather.
Miss Mary ruled her school with an iron hand, and meted out corporal punishment on the spot. Always present in one wrinkled blue-veined hand was a wooden ruler. With deadly precision the eighteen inches of supreme authority landed on miscreant knuckles, shoulders and backsides of boys and girls alike.
I had the dubious distinction of being Miss Mary’s pet. Apparently to refute that notion, she punished me for the smallest infractions of a bewildering array of rules. The taps were delivered with love, but became painful through sheer repetition.
Lunch was closely supervised. With military precision we moved through the line, plates on trays, collecting helpings from long-handled spoons along the way. Everyone received the same items in identical portions. Conversation was kept to a minimum with Miss Mary moving among the tables, scolding here, praising there, coaxing us to eat everything on our plates. Probably the most disliked food was spinach—in spite of Popeye’s efforts—and stewed prunes ran a close second.
How I loved stewed prunes! At a time when happiness for other little boys was a Buck Rogers ring with a built-in compass, happiness for me was a third helping of stewed prunes. Served almost daily, they were usually eaten only through Miss Mary’s insistence. Not me—I needed no encouragement. I ate the prunes before I touched the main course. Seeing the affinity that developed between me and stewed prunes, Miss Mary told the ladies on the serving line to give me as many of the wrinkled dark delicacies as I wanted. My taste for prunes and Miss Mary’s indulgence probably made me the most regular kid in town.
As with all activities at Miss Mary’s school, playtime was highly regimented and closely supervised. Boys and girls were separated and each grade had its own area for recreation. If one of us strayed into another zone we were reprimanded and returned to our own.
There were exceptions. Miss Mary felt that in sports and at play children should be evenly matched. If one of us was appreciably smaller than our classmates, or lagged behind in muscular development and coordination, we were assigned to an area where we could compete more effectively and where the chances of injury were reduced.
I was smaller than most of my classmates—perhaps because of the prunes—so I spent my playtime with the next lower grade. There were some advantages. I was better coordinated than the younger boys, and I often spent the entire play period at bat by intentionally hitting foul balls. The rule was, “99 fouls and you’re out.”
Miss Mary ended her career in education at the same time I began mine in military service. Our friendship endured as the years passed, but our visits became infrequent because of my duty assignments. Returning to my hometown after several years overseas, I learned that Miss Mary, nearing the century mark in age, lived near the sister I had come to visit. After a call to her nurse and a short walk to the house, my sister and I were ushered into Miss Mary’s parlor. In the cool dimness of the room with its heavy drapes drawn against the bright fall sun, we saw the tiny figure seated in a massive rocker.
Her frail shoulders sagged under the weight of a thick brown shawl. She sat slumped forward, head down and eyes fixed on skeletal folded hands. Silhouetted against the single dim lamp she had an ethereal quality, her skin almost translucent, the diffused light a halo for her bowed head with its wispy strands of white hair. She seemed unaware of me, and paid no heed to my gentle reminders of the past. The nurse said that long periods of withdrawal were common, that Miss Mary might not recognize me or correspond in any way. I tried several times to talk to her, but there was no indication that she knew me or even heard me. Feeling awkward and ill at ease, and filled with a deep sense of loss and sadness, I told the nurse that I would come back later. I stood and moved toward the door and then I heard it.
“Do you still like prunes?”
Each word loud and clear, the voice deep and strong, lightly dismissing the long years, pushing back time and space to another day when a small boy found an unexpected and lifelong friend. Memories flooded over me as I turned back, sat down and replied, “Yes, ma’m, I still like prunes.” But that was all. Not another word. She remained silent and unmoving, head down and hands folded, and did not respond to me or to the nurse. Throat swollen and blinded by a scalding rush of tears, I stumbled to the door and out of the house.
I never saw her again. She died several months later, peacefully in her sleep according to newspaper accounts. Tribute was paid in eulogies by leading citizens and educators from all over the South, and the press detailed her long career and her many accomplishments. All the pictures in the newspapers were of a stranger. Not one was of the woman I remembered. Not one of them was of my Miss Mary. And not one of them was the Miss Mary in my strongest memories, the first time and the last time I saw her.
My sister did not hear Miss Mary ask me the question that day. She heard my answer that I still liked prunes, but thought I was trying to bridge the gulf with another reminder of the past. Nor did the nurse hear the question. She heard only my answer. Did Miss Mary speak to me? Did she remember me? Did the other two people in the room simply fail to hear the voice I heard so clearly? Could I have wanted recognition so badly that I imagined she spoke to me? Or did Miss Mary somehow transcend the need for speech and reach out to me without words?
My old friend spoke to me that day. I did not imagine her voice. I heard it. She knew me and in order to show that she remembered, she asked the one question that would identify me among the many thousands of people whose lives she had touched and shaped and strengthened.
“Do you still like prunes?” She knew me and she spoke to me and she heard my answer.
World War II was over—the bombs had eradicated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and large segments of their populations, and neither my stepfather’s carpenter talents nor my talent to deliver newspapers were needed in Tennessee. The modular homes were being disassembled and the areas where hundreds of families had been living would soon revert to the wild. We left Happy Valley, Tennessee and returned to Mississippi because my stepfather had recently bought a 40-acre farm, complete with a skid-mounted grocery store with one manually operated gasoline pump, a small house, a large barn, a chicken house and an adequate outhouse.
His purchase included one milk cow, one white mule, one brown mule and a motley flock of chickens—White Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds with a sprinkling of speckled hens. The flock was serviced by one lone rooster, a Rhode Island Red, hence his name Red.
Oh, and one more item concerning the chickens. Several of the hens were in poor physical shape. I learned soon after we moved to the farm that the hens had been—ah, had been subjected to—uh, ah, okay, I’ll just come right out and say it—they had been sexually molested, presumably by that dolt of a teenage farm boy in the family that previously owned the farm.
That was a presumption voiced by my stepfather, except that he didn’t use the term sexually molested—many of the words he used to explain the physical condition of the hens and to express his displeasure were limited to only one or two syllables. I’ve often pondered on that presumption, wondering and speculating on whether he arrived at that conclusion from reading, from other conversations or from experience—my stepfather grew up on a farm in Alabama.
I never knew, and I definitely was unwilling to question him. I’ll get back to you later with more information on that, so stay tuned. Until then, I’ll close that portion of life on the farm by saying that my stepfather put the hens out of their misery with blasts from a 16-gauge shotgun, after which the carcasses were buried far from the house, feathers and all, except for those that were scattered by the pellets.
There were no cats, an absence unusual for a farm. Also included in the purchase were two small terrier dogs, a pair that served no useful purpose and came to an untimely end through action taken by my stepfather soon after we took residence on the farm, again with the 16-gauge shotgun.
Also included in his purchase of the farm, to my dismay, were several acres of unpicked cotton. For the edification of those familiar with Roy Clark’s song in which he sang proudly that he never picked cotton, I am here to tell you that I have picked cotton and I didn’t like it. Early in cotton season, pickers were paid a penny a pound to pick, and later in
the season when the bowls were sparse and farther apart, pickers earned
two cents a pound.
I strived mightily to pick a hundred pounds in one day, but never made it, no matter how early I started and how late I stayed in the cotton field, and no matter how many times I peed in the cotton sack, an time-honored country-boy scheme to add weight to his pickings. Another way to increase the weight was to start picking at or before good daylight and pick frantically while the dew was still on the cotton, thereby adding the weight of the water—not much, but pennies went a long way back in the good old days.
One penny would buy a cigarette, two crackers with one’s choice of cheese or bologna or sausage, and a plethora of penny candies—an all-day sucker, a jaw-breaker, one piece of bubble gum or one stick of gum, a small handful of jelly beans and one’s choice of various individually wrapped candies such as Tom’s Peanut-butter Logs.
I have a vivid memory of reading a newspaper article saying that the price of cotton paid at auction was forty-one cents a pound, a total of $205 for a 500 pound bale. I was brash enough to ask my stepfather why he paid only two cents a pound for pickers when he was getting twenty times that amount, and he treated me to a prolonged lesson in economics—that effectively broke me from asking any more questions.
I have many more stories to tell about my brief life on the farm. One involves a beautiful cross-eyed redhead, another a tree filled with turkeys and still another of a wild cat I captured and thereby indirectly caused his death, so stay tuned—there’s more to come.
She was from Huntington, West Virginia and her name was, and I sincerely hope still is, Jackie Nichols. By that I mean that I hope she still lives and loves, whether her last name is Nichols or she married and took another surname. I knew Jackie only briefly—no, no, not in the biblical sense as Adam knew Eve, but only in terms of society’s acceptable normal everyday intercourse between two children of the opposite sex, always verbal and never physical, other than in games—real games—that children play.
Jackie and I and our families lived in Happy Valley, Tennessee. The village was a community of modular homes, created for the families of workers involved in the big secret, the development of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, creating the conflagration that conclusively ended World War II. Happy Valley boasted an elementary school and high school, a post office and a small shopping center that
included a theater—some folks back then referred to the theater as a movie house.
When I knew Jackie—oops, there’s that word again—when Jackie and I met and spent time together, we were 13 and 12 years of age respectively—yes, she was an older woman—and we were still in those years when our lives abruptly went in different directions with very little warning, and no reasonable opportunity to consummate our romance—you know, like with a farewell hug and kiss, both of which would have been our first and our last. I consider that to be a sad tale of unrequited love, a real life parallel that rivals Shakespeare’s fictional story of Romeo and Juliet.
My family—mother, stepfather, an 18-month older sister and I—left the trailer village in Happy Valley, Tennessee and returned to Mississippi, and I could only console myself briefly with the view of our trailer village through the back window of our 1939 Plymouth sedan. Don’t laugh too loudly about the age of our transportation.
The year was 1944 and our car was a spry five years old.
I cannot speak for the others in my family but as for me, I left Tennessee for Mississippi under protest, albeit silent protest, but definitely protesting. I remained silent and left because I had no choice, and because I was bright enough, even at age 12, to realize that I couldn’t remain in Tennessee and support my first real love on the earnings from my paper route, papers that I delivered on Shank’s mare—on foot. I didn’t even have a bicycle.
Jackie and I reversed a situation that is replicated frequently in friendships between young boys and young girls. Normally the boy gets the girl into trouble, but in our case the girl got the boy into trouble, and I hasten to explain how that happened. The witching hour for me to be home in the evening was 8:00 PM, whether the next day was a school day or a Saturday or a Sunday, whether the sun was still high in the sky or had dropped below the horizon. That rule was laid down in menacing tones and promised the punishment if the rule was broken—a whipping was guaranteed for the first and for any subsequent violations—there would be no other warnings.
On one memorable day night fell with a thud, and I stayed with Jackie well past my witching hour. The other kids had all gone home—only the two of us remained, perched on the wooden side rails of a bridge spanning a dry stream and talking boy/girl stuff. Jackie was entranced by the golden tints in my brown eyes—honestly, she said that! And I was entranced by everything about her, including her dark eyes and thick black tresses, her long brown legs and her—well, let’s just say that Jackie was not your usual 13-year old. She was light years ahead of the other girls in our neighborhood in her age bracket—far advanced in worldly knowledge, conversational skills and physical development—especially in physical development.
I was about an hour late in getting home. I believe that had I stood my ground for another hour or so, my life would have been very different, because I believe that some—not all, of course, but some—of that worldly knowledge would have been passed on to me, and that belief still infuses me today.
As regards my decision to head for home instead of staying that extra hour, it echoes the truth of the words penned by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892):
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these—it might have been.
So that’s my refrain—it might have been. It could have been and it should have been, and perhaps would have been had I tossed caution to the wind, shrugged my skinny shoulders and completely ignored my stepfather’s rules. Oh, well—we win some and we lose some, and life goes on.
Here’s to you, Jackie. I hope and trust that life has been good for you, and that you married and had children and that everyone in your family are happy and doing well. I have retained memories of you and our times together for almost eight decades—none of the memories have faded and none will ever fade. To paraphrase Jimmy Durante’s closing words on his old-time black-and-white television show: Thanks for the memories and good night, Jackie, where ever you are.
Conundrum: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer.
Over the span of my lifetime—not the complete span, because I’m still adding to that lifetime—I have heard a certain conundrum repeated an astonishing number of times, and I’ve always wondered why it refers only to a certain branch of our military services, namely the United States Navy.
The term that is always used is on the order of spending money like a drunken sailor or like drunken sailors. I have never heard anyone say spending money like a drunken soldier, or airman, or coast guardsman or marine—not even spending moneylike a National Guardsman. I consider the term a conundrum because any answer given would be purely conjectural.
What particular feature, what aberration, whether physical or mental, can we attribute to sailors to explain why we hang that peculiar phrase only on sailors and not on other uniformed personnel? Is it predilection on our part, or in it animosity toward them? Why not on members of the other services? Other military service members—not all, but some—are prone to imbibe strong drink in generous amounts under certain conditions, namely being off-duty at the time, but invariably we toss that bomb at sailors.
I will at this junction attest that I have seen members of the other services in conditions that would rival—nay, perhaps surpass—the conduct of any drunken sailor in any situation and I am prepared to sign an official document to that effect. As a retired member of a military service other than the US Navy I have a right to speak, particularly because I have seen non-sailors spending money like—well, like a drunken sailor.
Why sailors? Perhaps there is something about naval personnel that causes them to over-imbibe and recklessly, generously, blindly spend money like—well, like a drunken sailor. It may be the fact that after spending weeks without touching port, their pay accumulates because they have nowhere to spend it, so when they manage to land in port, regardless of the location, they spread the money around faced with the full knowledge that soon they will again be at sea.
I considered the US Navy for a career before I enlisted, but was daunted by the thirteen buttons—one for each of the original thirteen American colonies. I was also advised by my brother, a salty seagoing sailor veteran of World War II, that the tibia of my right leg, shattered in a baseball game but nicely repaired, would preclude me from sea duty assignments because volleys fired from a ship could aggravate my injury. He told me that sailors on deck when the big guns were fired were told to put most of their weight on their heels or their toes to avoid damage to the lower extremities, that if one stood flat-footed the vibration could possibly cause damage to one’s lower extremities, particularly to lower extremities with previous damages.
I had a problem imagining sailors in wartime standing and walking around either on their heels or on their toes, and I had serious doubts as to the veracity of that advice. The real reason I did not join the navy was the 13-button trousers worn by enlisted men. Had the trousers been opened and closed with a zipper I probably would have joined the navy and seen the world through a porthole, as the old saying goes.
Sailor’s joke: Have you heard the one about the young sailor that was told by a well-seasoned old salt that if he stuck his head through a porthole he would see a submarine. He complied, and a moment later exclaimed to the old salt, I don’t see no su-UB-marine!
If you’ve already heard that one, just skip the previous paragraph.
I enlisted in the United States Air Force and I have never regretted my decision. I spent 22 years in that service and not once did I spend money like a drunken sailor, primarily because I was never paid enough to enjoy such actions. I joined the United States federal civil service and made more money in wages the first year than I did in my twenty-second year in the US Air Force, including overseas pay, separate rations, and housing and clothing allowances. Today the lowest enlisted rank with two years in service is paid $17,616 in base pay plus all the other benefits. My total pay for my twenty-second year of service, with a wife and three children, including all benefits totaled $14,400 per annum—before taxes.
I may bring all sorts of condemnation on myself, but I’m going to say it anyway. Our military people are paid well—extremely well. Let the barrage begin—fire at will!
I learned a new word today, thanks to my son-in-law that lives and works in Plano, Texas and consistently maintains that he is heavily overburdened with work in his position in a prodigious law firm, yet manages to find time to send important material to various relatives, friends, clients and other barristers. The word was paraprosdokian. At first I suspected that someone was trying to spell KimKardashian, the girl on that reality show with her sisters and their parents—the whole famn damily—and also everyone’s boyfriends.
Paraprosdokian is defined by Wikipedia as follows:
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.
Before I checked it out at Wikipedia I spelled it out phonetically and pronounced it as pair uh pros dookian, and I immediately formed a mental image of two professionals—pros—relieving themselves in some bushes that lined the Ninth Hole, the one most distant from clubhouse facilities. Later I realized that the do in dokian is pronounced doe rather that do, and that does make a big difference.
Below are some paraprosdokianisms for you to peruse and digest, and if you like, regurgitate them in e-mails for the pleasure of others. I added the last one on the list. You might want to add one of your own and keep the list growing as it goes around the Internet.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.
We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Evening news stations are places where they begin with Good evening and then tell you why it isn’t.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.
Dolphins are so intelligent that in just a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
I thought I wanted a career, and it turned out that I just wanted a paycheck.
A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.
Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says In an emergency notify, I put DOCTOR.
I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Why do people believe there are four billion stars, but check when a sign says the paint is wet?
Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
You do not need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute if you want to sky dive twice.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.
Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.
A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you’ll look forward to the trip.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
I’ve discovered that I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.
I always take life with a grain of salt—plus a slice of lemon and a shot of tequila.
To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and then call whatever you hit the target.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as it does when you are in it.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
I feel more like I do now than I did when I got up this morning.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
POSTSCRIPT: Not necessarily a paraprosdokian joke, but it is a joke:
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.
Why did the pervert cross the road? He was stuck to the chicken.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it (the story, not the chicken).
The photo shown below was placed on a WordPress blog by one of the most professional, most articulate and most prolific photographers among the legions of photographers on WordPress, and for that matter on any of the other blogs as well. I was intrigued by the plant and by the numerous comments generated by the photo, several of which apparently regarded the image as being other than normal and included such expressions as I have a dirty mind, and at first I thought it was slightly inappropriate. The plant also reminded me of something, not inappropriate but something I felt would be of interest to my viewers. I posted a comment on the photo and requested permission to use the photo on my blog.
This is my comment on the photo—it includes my request to the photographer:
One of the most curiously shaped denizens of the world of plants, one that perhaps Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame would label “the curiousest one of all.” At least I believe it was Alice who said that, but maybe the Queen said it. That’s an interesting photo of an interesting plant. It—the plant—seems be walking a tight tightrope, trying to maintain balance between looking dangerous and looking comical. For some reason I feel that it is driving me towards a posting of my own. May I use the photo for my post? You have my word that I will shame neither you nor the poppy plant.
This is his reply: Of course you may use it, and I never for a moment thought you might shame my shot.
Judging from the numerous comments on this photo, it appears that for some of your viewers it apparently reminded them of something other than a poppy bud, and I believe I know what that something is. This plant—if it is a plant and not a snake— has an uncanny resemblance to the Oriental Oblong Poppy Snake found only in Afghanistan—that name is derived from the oblong shape of the animal’s head and the fact that the snake migrated from the Far East—the Orient—many centuries ago. Being familiar with the poppy snake, I recognized it immediately in the photo, but then I read the post and the blogger identified it as a simple poppy plant. Although I was not completely convinced, I will admit that it is probably nothing more than a look-alike of the poppy snake. One can readily see the danger posed to poppy gatherers by that resemblance. I suppose one could be smuggled into the United States because Customs inspectors of today are not nearly as effective as I when I was engaged in the profession. However, any attempt to smuggle in one of those serpents would necessarily be a dangerous act. Living always in the open among the poppy plants, the snake does not like close quarters and it would have been a life-and-death menace if smuggled as a body carry—one lick and it would mean certain death for the smuggler—and for the snake, of course, but that would be little solace for the dead smuggler.
Natives that have been stricken—licked—by this snake invariably shout Oops when it happens, possibly in an effort to warn other workers of the snake’s presence. Oops is an acronym comprised of the first letters of the four words in the snake’s name, and Oops is the last word spoken by those unlucky enough to be stricken.
This is an extremely rare animal that lives and thrives in the endless fields of poppies in Afghanistan. This snake does not bite its victims but simply licks, usually and understandably on a hand, finger or on the wrist, and one simple lick is always fatal, both to the licker and the licked. The licked one will die from the snake’s venom, and the snake will die from exposure to the licked one’s skin, regardless of the licked one’s age, skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, political leaning or religion.
Yes, in answer to your question, most deaths caused by this snake occur during the poppy harvest season. Harvesting is a slow process because each plant must be visually examined closely before it is touched, because the Oriental Oblong Poppy Snake—Oops—rears its ugly head up and balances on the tip of its tail to imitate a real poppy plant.
Harvesting is so dangerous that some workers opt out of the harvest and volunteer to don a shiny new explosive vest under their outer clothing and agree to mingle among crowds of people and then explode the vest at a time most appropriate to kill the maximum number of people, a deed necessary to allow the wearer after death to mingle among seventy-two virgins in the after-life, virgins that will always remain chaste regardless of the number of times they are mingled among, and regardless of the number of minglers mingling among them.
This is the world’s most dangerous reptile. One lick by this snake would kill an African Black Mamba in two seconds, and bring a full-grown elephant to its knees in three seconds, and death would occur in the next two seconds, a total of five seconds from lick to loss of life for the pachyderm. As for humans, they barely have time to say Oops, and are dead and rigor mortis has set in even before they hit the ground. There is no anti-venom available, neither for the licker nor for the licked.
One can clearly identify the snake by its small tongue that can be seen in the photograph, slightly protruding in the ready-to-lick position, similar to the s-shape position assumed by rattlesnakes ready to strike. This animal has only one eye, but that eye can rotate and cover a full 360 degrees of vision, a field even wider than that of rabbits. The Oops’ eye can clearly be seen at the top of his head, slightly off-center to his right. Yes, this is a male Oriental Oblong Poppy Snake, readily identifiable by the overall shape of its head and its small nose, located slightly off-center to his left.
Note to burstmode: I intended to post this as a comment on your blog, but because of its length WordPress would probably consider it spam and throw it in the trash pile, and people would not learn about the Oriental Oblong Poppy Snake and potentially lives could be lost, particularly among tourists traveling to Afghanistan during poppy harvest time. Thanks, and a tip of the kingly crown for posting the photo and allowing me to use it on my blog. It gave me the opportunity to discuss one of the rarest animals on earth, found only in Afghanistan and only in the poppy fields. Should those fields be eradicated, the species will quickly join the ranks of extinct animals and mankind will be the worse for its absence.
Submitted on 2011/03/06 at 9:06 pm helpforyourenglish.wordpress.com email@example.com
Who wrote the “rules’ of grammar? Grammarians. How did they decide what to write in their grammar” books? By observing what people said and wrote – usage. Then they came to their own ‘theories’ of what English grammar is (or might be) based on those observations and usage. Grammarians did not invent English. As such, grammar is descriptive and should not be prescriptive. From my experience, using was in your example rather than were is much more common. Trying to prescribe that people should use the subjunctive mood’ in that situation makes it sound like the English language is stuck in some Latin time warp. It’s not really worth getting worked up about.
This is my reply to the British grammarian’s comment:
Thanks for the visit, and thanks for the comment. In far too many instances, comments by viewers are content with saying Nice blog, or I agree or Your blog sucks, etc., but your comment is well written, to the point and welcomed. My first reaction was to respond at some length, but I realized that the subject is worthy of a separate posting on my blog. Stay tuned if you like—with my lack of typing skills it will take some time to create and publish.
And this is the separate posting I promised the British—an assumption on my part—blogger.
As I promised in my initial response to your comment, I have expanded my response into an essay that concentrates on current language restrictions in the United States. You cannot possibly know how pleased I was to receive a real comment rather than the usual one or two phrases given by others, comments such as nice blog, keep up the good work, you suck, etc. Comments such as yours are rare, to be treasured and responded to in kind.
Your comment has inspired me to reply in detail, perhaps more detail than you expected or wanted, and has given me far more than enough fodder for yet another lengthy essay on the use of the English language. I will cheerfully give you credit for stimulating me in that effort.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that you have touched a nerve with your comment’s statement that It’s not really worth getting worked up about. I submit to you that every teacher of English or for that matter every teacher of anything, regardless of the subject, should get worked up about the misuse of established English language mores when people with ivy league educations, some with multiple diplomas—attorneys, authors, doctors, high-ranking business leaders, presidents, millionaires and billionaires in industry and in entertainment venues—continuously violate the most simple rules—yes, rules—of everyday English.
I expect it from rappers, but not from the rest of our society—not from our president and not from the poorest children existing in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia or in the Okeefenoke Swamp area in south Georgia. As for ebonics, I abhor the term and refuse to discuss it, capitalize it or use it in a sentence—in fact, I will not even mention it in this essay—not even once.
The errors in everyday English that I discuss on Word Press are the little things in our society as regards proper English. My sainted mother, in 83 years of living, loving and learning accumulated hordes of homilies, parts of speech defined as inspirational sayings or platitudes. One of her favorites and also one of mine is the saying that admonishes us to take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Following established rules is one of the little things, and effective communication is one of the big things.
The fact that the use of was rather than were is more common is not justification to continue using it. If that were true—note the if and the were—many, perhaps most of us, particularly in certain geographic regions, would still be spelling out and enunciating the word nigger instead of crouching behind the N-word wall.
It is an immutable fact that when we voice that alternative word as the N-word, our listeners know full well that the psuedo word has been substituted for the real word, the one that resides in the speaker’s thoughts, and thus immediately is projected and comes to rest in the listener’s thoughts, and the speaker, the user of the non-word N-word, put it there, and the listener can place a suitable target—I mean label—on the speaker by charging racism. The very fact of not voicing the pejorative term raises the shade on the speaker’s thoughts and shines the bright light of reality on the term, one that was, and still is, common in many countries, including yours.
There is a host of words on which we place no restrictions on their spelling in our writings or in our conversations—we may decry their use, but that use is common in literature and in everyday speech. That includes such words as honky, whitey, jew, kike, redneck, abie, chink, jap, greaser, frog, goy, kraut, polack, guido, limey (those of the British persuasion should take special note of that one), paddy, nazi, slant-eye, slopehead, nip, squaw, uncle tom and zipperhead. The list goes on forever, yet our society and its preoccupation with political correctness does not mandate us to prefix any of those words with a capital letter and substitute a made-up term for the pejorative term—J-word for jews and japs, for example, or K-word for kike and kraut, S-word for slant-eye, slope-head and squaw and L-word for limey—go figure!
Yes, the list goes on forever and we will forever continue to create new pejoratives to add to that list. Regardless of the list’s length, we can freely use any of those terms in writing, not as pejoratives in and of themselves but as support for whatever communication we are presenting to our reading audience—any of those terms except one—can you guess which one? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two won’t count.
If the bromide that tells us that the thought is as bad as the deed is true, then every English speaker in the world is guilty, whether or not racially biased. When we voice the acceptable euphemism N-word, the banned word is in our thoughts, and it resounds just as loudly in our brain and in the listener’s brain as when we actually pronounce the banned word.
Just one more thought and I’ll release you and my viewers from bondage. A bromide in the English language is defined as a figure of speech meaning a tranquilizing cliché. Our use of the term N-word is a bromide, a figure of speech meaning a tranquilizing cliché. A bromide is also defined as conventional wisdom overused as a calming phrase, a verbal sedative.
This bromide has been foisted upon us as a tranquilizer, a medication, a verbal sedative prescribed by a liberal society in order to render us placid, peaceful and pliant, to purposely place us in that somnolent state of glorious oblivion—asleep—and to keep us there.
I propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America to allow us to call a spade a spade, a time-worn bromide that is now regarded as an epithet, a pejorative term, one that if used by a conservative member of Congress would probably bring Jackson, Sharpton, Braun, Powell, Conyers, Chisholm, Range, Jordan, Hastings, Jackson-Lee, Jackson Jr., Cummings and a host of others out of their respective congressional seats and on their respective congressional feet to simultaneously shout, Racist, racist, racist!, all wanting to order and exact the same penalty decreed by the Queen in the fairy tale Alice in Wonderland—Off with their heads!
For proposing that amendment my head would be on the chopping block, perhaps the first to tumble into the waiting handbasket, yet I am guilty of nothing more than wanting to bring a modicum of sanity to our nation. Our national ship of state is drifting aimlessly on a sea of insanity as regards the use of words considered to be pejorative. As a nation we can consider ourselves to be an asylum for the insane, with the patients giving the orders—again, as regards the use of pejorative words and phrases.
On a day not really all that far back in time—22 June, 2009—I submitted a letter to our local daily newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, the only daily newspaper in the seventh largest city in the United States in the hope that it would be published. An offer was made to publish it but the editor e-mailed me to say that certain parts would be cut out. In an e-mail I told him to not publish the letter, and I chastised him for his response to a long-time subscriber to the paper. What follows is the initial response from the public editor.
From: BRichter@express-news.net (the public editor of the paper) Mon, Jun 22, 2009 1:34 PM H.M. – Thanks for your letter. May we publish it? I think I’ll cut all the whining about your letters not getting published when they strike a nerve. We’ll just go with the criticism of the photo in question (which I didn’t really think was so bad). Bob Richter
I rejected publication because the public editor slimed me—well, perhaps slimed is a bit too strong—let’s just say that he whined me and because of that whining, the same label he placed on my submission, I vowed to never submit another letter to the public editor for consideration, but instead post my whining on WordPress, a far more appreciative audience than the Express-News. I have never had a submission rejected or criticized.
Now to get to the crux of this posting—everything I’ve said up to this point was intended to explain my criticism of the public editor’s grammar in his article that appeared in Metro of the Sunday edition of March 6, 2011.
Yes, grammar—with all that supposed talent he has at his beck and call, he started and finished an article he wrote by improperly using the verb was. The article centered on budget cuts proposed by Rick Perry, the governor of Texas that involved disabled Texans, and much to his credit he began the article with disclosing that his son has disabilities and lives in a group home that receives state aid.
I can readily understand and admire the title of his article:
Budget Cuts: What if it was your kid?
The final paragraph is a one-sentence closure with a wish from him and a question for Governor Perry:
What I wish is that Perry would put himself in our shoes:
What if it was your kid, Rick?
The verb was is the subjunctive mood of the verb to be, a mood suggesting that something is not or perhaps may not be. The subjunctive mood gets really complicated if one digs too deeply, but one does not need to dig deeply, or even pick up a shovel in order to determine whether was or were should be used.
There is an incredibly simple way to remember whether to use was or were. If the word if is lurking anywhere in the sentence, whether visible or concealed, the proper usage is were, and if if can neither be seen nor assumed, the proper usage is was. Please forgive me for the double if in the previous sentence—I just couldn’t resist it—when read aloud it sounds like a puppy barking.
The article’s title should read, What if it were your kid?
The ending should read, What if it were your kid, Rick?
Some more examples of the subjunctive verb were:
What if the copywriters were better versed in English?
What if the current public editor were reassigned?
Were he reassigned, would it lower the paper’s ratings or raise them?
Was he reassigned?
No, he was not reassigned.
Note the absence of if in the last two sentences above.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: In all fairness I must state that, in my somewhat unlearned opinion, the public editor’s article was highly cogent, nicely constructed, timely and well presented, with the only exceptions noted in this posting.
Today is Sunday, March 6, 2011 and the time is 5:30 AM, Central Time Zone, in San Antonio, Texas. Dave Briggs, one of the male co-hosts on Fox and Friends just told us that, “Coming up—a dog has been given a new leash on life by firefighters,” and the scroll at the bottom of the screen read leash.
This information is for the co-host and for the typist entering the information in the scroll at the bottom of the screen—the firefighters did not give the dog a new leash on life—they gave the dog a new lease on life.
By definition, a leash is a rope or chain placed around an animal’s neck to restrain or control the animal. However, in instances of human animals engaging in S&M activities, a leash is often used for the same purpose, assisted by the use of various and sundry items such as blindfolds, handcuffs, feathers, whips, gags, etc.
For those that are unfamiliar with S&M, send me a stamped self-addressed envelope with your request and enclose $25 in cash—small bills and no counterfeits—and I will furnish full details by return post sealed in a plain brown wrapper, including numerous photos in glorious color, created by professional photographers.
Now to continue with definitions:
A lease is a contract calling for the lessee—user—to pay the lessor—owner—for use of an asset. When an individual, whether human or a member of the so-called lesser orders, is given a new lease on life itself, a contract that many believe is an agreement between the individual and a Supreme Being—I cannot speak for how an animal—a dog, for example—might feel, but I can assure you that a human that survives death and is given a new lease on life is very grateful—unless, of course, an individual attempted suicide and was foiled in that attempt—in that event the individual may be a bit upset.
Brother Dave Briggs used the wrong term twice, and the moving scroll at the bottom of the screen showed the word as leash framed by quotation marks. It is unknown whether the scroll typist used the quotation for effect or used it to show that Dave had used the wrong word. I would like to believe the latter—it would be nice to know that at least one person on duty knew the difference between leash and lease.
In previous posts I have said that during the many years that I was gainfully employed, I had an extensive working relationship with a lady for whom English was a second language, and she pronounced the term nit picker as neet peeker, an aberration caused by the fact that in her native language, Eye’s were pronounced as Es, hence nit picker became neet peeker. I mention this only to say that I am neither a nit picker nor a neet peeker—my contributions to language result from my desire for accuracy in the spoken word. In more than one instance the lady I mentioned apparently got her tongue tangled up and pronounced the term as neet pecker—go figure!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: If there is any doubt concerning the veracity of this post as concerns the gaffe, I captured the entire hour on Tivo, and I will cheerfully furnish a DVD on request. Just follow the same instructions given for S&M information. Send a stamped self-addressed envelope with $25 enclosed—in cash—small bills and no counterfeits, and the DVD will go out with the return post, sealed in a plain brown wrapper, just as D.H. Lawerence’s novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover arrived in our mail boxes many years ago. It’s a great story and the movie was even better—breathtaking!
News flash! Today is still Sunday, March 6, 2011 and the time is 7:20 AM, Central Time Zone, in San Antonio, Texas. I just heard Alisyn Camerato of Fox News fame announce that a dog has been given a new leash on life, and the scroll at the bottom read leash—same story, different gaffmaker.
This image of a high-flying commercial airliner prompted the comment that follows below—click on the image at right to enlarge it for viewing. The comment is exactly as I posted it to the photographer’s blog—check it out here. You’ll find scads and scads of gorgeous flora and fauna shots made at locations all over the US and in various foreign locations including Europe, Spain, Antarctica and Mississippi—just a little bit of humor there!
I label the airliner as high-flying because of the unbroken expanse of clouds and the deep blue, so deep that it shows the blackness of space. I’ve flown at that altitude in a T-33 flight trainer with a clear canopy overhead, and I could see millions of stars twinkling in that blackness.
The aircraft was probably at 40,000 feet or more when this was made. I took the liberty of using this photo and my comment for a post on my blog. I know that the photographer’s work is copyrighted, but I have little fear of legal action ensuing, primarily because the photographer/blogger is my daughter, the middle one in age of our three Royal Princesses—so there!
My comment, exactly as I posted it on the photographer’s blog:
The most intriguing and thought-provoking image that I have ever been privileged to view—well, except perhaps for some of the centerfolds in Playboy, but none other than those shine through from my cache of memories. And would you believe what for me is the most eerie—eeriest, if you will—sensation imparted by this photo? While viewing it I can, at will, vacillate between the sensation of traveling through the atmosphere at near-supersonic speeds under full engine power, versus the sensation of descending with throttles at idle with nothing more than the sound of air passing over the plane’s surface.
Far back in the past century when I was flown at government expense for a mandatory 13-month vacation in beautiful tropical war-torn South Viet Nam, we landed at Guam for refueling and we coasted the last 100 miles to the island with all throttles at idle. The pull of gravity and the weight of the aircraft were enough to maintain the proper airspeed. Passengers were actually whispering to one another to avoid having their conversations being overheard by all the other passengers. Okay, okay, I may have exaggerated a bit on that part of my comment.
Eerie, I say—eerie!
Postscript: In the highly likely event that you or one or more of your viewers read this comment and feel that it was written in jest, it was not. The photo actually brings back sensations that I experienced more than forty years ago, so there—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
An article in San Antonio’s Express-News—the only daily newspaper in the seventh largest city in the United States—on Monday, 28 February 2011 states that the cause of death for Jane Russell, the generously endowed star of Howard Hughes’ 1941 movie The Outlaw, was respiratory failure. Stop me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t respiratory failure be the cause of death in every instance? I should think that whatever other condition caused the respiratory apparatus to fail would be the real cause of death.
Let’s at least agree on this point—when we say that death was caused by respiratory failure, we are saying that the departed stopped breathing, a term equivalent to saying that someone died because the heart stopped beating. That isn’t enough—we need to know why the departed stopped breathing and why the heart stopped beating. Either of those actions, or their failure to act, will cause the other to happen—when the heart stops beating the breathing also stops, and when the breathing stops the heart stops beating, and neither is the actual cause of death.
Each of us has the innate ability to contribute to the world’s store of statistics, other than just the statistic of having died, and the opportunity to make that contribution is given to us at the time of our death, namely the cause of our death. Was it by our own hand, thereby joining the ranks of suicide statistics? Was it suicide by firearm, hanging, wrist-cutting or a heart attack caused by an overdose of Viagra? As the immortal Jack Webb would say, speaking as Detective Joe Friday in his role as a police detective in the black-and-white television show Dragnet, We just want the facts, M’am, just the facts.
I realize that the Jack Webb skit above is not germane to this posting, but I wanted to show him in action and share his sleuthing techniques with my viewers. I know, I know—I have a lot of time on my hands. There are too many wrongs in this world and too little time to right them, but I will soldierly strive on in my efforts—it’s in my nature.
Jane Russell, the tall brunette movie actress with the dark eyes and the 38-D bra is dead. Born in 1921, she died on Monday, 28 February from respiratory failure—she was 89 years old. When the news of her death was widely reported on television my memory took a long journey into the past. I felt that my thoughts of the star might be of interest to my viewers, hence this posting, and I know that at the very least it will be of interest to my daughters—they have never heard of this incident, a memorable event in their father’s life.
The year was 1946 and I was fourteen years old—wait, let me check that—1946 versus 1932—6 minus two = 4, and 4 minus 3 = 1. Yep, that’s 14 and in 1946 the Dixie Theater in Columbus, Mississippi, well ahead of its time, would not allow me to see Jane Russell in The Outlaw because of my impressionable youth, yet black-and-white movie stills in the display frames outside and the ones placed on easels in the theater lobby placed lots of emphasis on the twin outcroppings that brought fame to the statuesque brunette.
Had the theater been a carnival sideshow, I could have sneaked around back and crawled in under the canvas wall of the tent. That method had worked in the past with similar sideshows of carnivals that came to the city’s fairgrounds, but was of no use in this matter. And had I been accompanied by an adult family member, I would have been allowed to see the movie, but I knew that it was useless to ask my mother or one of my elder sisters, and my brother was off somewhere in the northern climes. And my exalted stepfather, Papa John, had once again shattered and deserted our little family and retreated to the Fraternal Order of Eagles club in Midland, Texas where he spent most of his nights losing at the club’s poker tables.
Eventually I despaired of seeing the movie and it finished its stint in Columbus and departed—it was heart wrenching because I was an avid western fan and that was the only reason I wanted to see it—yeah, right! While it was showing, I made numerous trips to drool—oops, I mean dream—over the still photos, and if the ticket seller did not look familiar I would try again to buy a ticket, but I was rebuffed each time.
Now fast-forward to Chanute Air Force Base located on the outskirts of Rantoul, Illinois, a small town some 125 miles south of Chicago. Much of the US Air Force technical training was centered at the sprawling air base, and I arrived there in the spring of 1949 to train as an aircraft electrician and engine mechanic. Chanute AFB was closed in 1993 by the Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).
I left Chanute a year later in the spring of 1950 after finishing my training and headed for home in Mississippi for a 10-day leave en route, and then on to San Francisco to board an Army troop ship bound for Yokohama, Japan to start a three-year tour in the Far East. That tour was shortened by a year because of the US intervention in the Korean War.
But I digress—back to Jane Russell and her movie, The Outlaw. While in casual status waiting for my classes to start, I learned that the movie was playing in Champagne, the site of the University of Illinois some 25 miles from Chanute. I had no access to private transportation, neither mine nor that of others, and I couldn’t count on buses or trains to get me to Champagne and back overnight, so I opted for the only transportation available. I walked to Rantoul and found the highway leading to Champagne and assumed the position of a hitchhiker and positioned my thumb properly to show my need.
Hitchhiking in those days was somewhat different than now. The papers and radio waves and billboards were not filled with information on serial murderers, kidnappings, rape and child abuse. There were no Amber Alerts, or Jessica’s Laws, nothing worth mentioning that would make drivers hesitate to pick up a boy-child hitchhiker pretending to be a member of the US armed forces. Yes, I was in my US Air Force uniform, the one with all the stripes indicating my lofty rank—one small stripe on each sleeve, a Private First Class—hey, don’t laugh—after all, I was in the first class of all the privates in the Air Force. That should count for something!
I towered around five feet, six inches tall and weighed in at 110 pounds, an image unlikely to strike fear into any driver whether young or elderly, male or female, gay or straight and regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. My thumb was elevated and pointed in the proper direction for no more than ten minutes before a kindly driver opened his door to me, drove me to Champagne and dropped me off in front of the theater where The Outlaw was being featured.
In retrospect I humbly state, with all humility aside that I was a cute little dude, an innocent baby-faced wayfarer, and that appearance could well have been the reason that I fared so well with the hitchhiking process. I have not retained any of those credentials today—well, perhaps the height, but the innocent baby face and the low poundage have gone the way of all good things, the victims of passing time.
Well, that’s it—that’s my tale of Jane Russell and the black-and-white movie The Outlaw. After dreaming of seeing the movie for three years I came, I saw, and I conquered my obsession, but many years later it returned tenfold. I found the movie on a VHS tape cassette and rescued it from its humble position on a garage-sale table. It now has a featured position in my collection of similar western-themed movies—nay, belay that—no movie is similar to The Outlaw—thanks to Jane Russell it stands in a class all by itself. I have a very vivid recollection of Jane Russell and one of her 3-D films. That’s the subject for a future posting, so stay tuned.
Sometimes I tire in my wearisome and thankless quest for truth, and particularly for my efforts to identify the elements in our society that are rushing us headlong—helter skelter, so to speak—towards the brink of becoming a nudist society—a society of nudists, or naturists.
We desperately need Holden Caulifield of Catcher in the Rye fame to turn us around before we go over the edge of that precipice—what awaits at the bottom is largely unknown. We can fantasize, of course, but while some people might welcome hitting the bottom—so to speak—others might not be comfortable there. It takes no more than a quick peek into the future to see that our nation is swiftly sliding down a slippery slope. Actually it takes only a quick peek at the plethora of You Tube videos to confirm that movement.
All are familiar with the letters LOL, an acronym for Laughing Out Loud that is used to express laughter at some remark, either made by writers laughing at their own jokes or by anyone laughing at something said or done by another. I submit that in network television shows it also means Lots Of Leg.
There is another acronym, one that I just created that is assisting LOL in changing our entire world into one gigantic nude beach. That acronym is SUYT—the letter U is pronounced as a W, the letter Y takes the Spanish sound and becomes E, and with another E and a final T added, the acronym is voiced exactly as the word SWEET.
The acronym SUYT—SWEET—has a double meaning, and both meanings will be shown in these videos. The word is pronounced the same in both meanings, but when the letters are converted to words they read Show Us Your Tits and Show Us Your Thighs and television complies, especially cable television—the major networks are slowly catching on to the value of SWEET and slowing catching up—it’s just a matter of time and programming—perhaps they should proselytize some of the women on cable television.
During the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans’ French Quarter the cry of SUYT, or Sweet, is frequently heard, shouted out by revelers towards women gathered on the balconies that abound in that section. Of course, rather than the letters of the acronym the actual words are voiced, and the streets and buildings reverberate with the cries of:
Show Us Your Tits!
I am unaware of any survey that documented the number of times the request was made of the second-story watchers during Mardi Gras, nor of any record for how many women complied with the request. I can only speak from personal experience, and that experience was not during Mardi Gras—it was during normal middle-of-the-week evenings of two nights I spent in the French Quarter—in case anyone is wondering, I retired to my hotel at a decent hour and enjoyed a pleasant night’s rest—alone.
During a three-day official visit to New Orleans in my capacity as a representative of a federal government law-enforcement agency, I estimated that in the time I spent on the street in the French Quarter at least two of every three women standing on the balconies complied with the cry of SWEET—that’s an estimate of sixty-seven percent that acquiesced to the request of those below.
There is still another request that is frequently heard in the French Quarter, that of SUYB, pronounced SWEEB, but voiced as Show Us Your Bootie. I saw the underpants—panties—of a few affable women that evening but no actual booties. Perhaps the actual booties are presented during Mardi Gras, but I have no knowledge of that.
Incidentally, when did baby’s first footcovers become women’s backsides? Which came first? Which ever of the two came first, the name of the other should be changed, and I vote for keeping the name booties for the baby because there is a plethora of euphemisms for rear ends, all of which can be used both for men and women—backside, behind, bottom, breech, bum, buns, butt, caboose, can, cheeks, buttocks, derrière, duff, fanny, fundament, hams, haunches, heinie, hunkers, keister, nates, posterior, rear, rear end, rump, seat, tail and tush.
Enough already! The term bootie should be reserved for babies’ first foot wear, and I suggest that the religious political right push for an amendment to the constitution—it’s time, way past time! And if that can’t be done, place the term bootie in the same class as the N-word in order to protect babies from discrimination and ridicule—just as the N-word can only be used by Ns without fear of recrimination, persecution and possibly prosecution, the word bootie should only be allowed in reference to baby foot ware.
It can be done, Congress, so let’s do it!
I believe that our television networks deliberately show us virtually everything that is shown in the French Quarter, displayed by various female talking heads, and thousands of videos support that contention. I believe that it’s done for a dual purpose—first to lure us to the program and then to distract us from the meat—so to speak—of the program’s presentation. Both SUYT and LOL are shown, both singly and simultaneously—the networks are obviously in compliance with our desires, and far too often the views triumphantly trump the news.
At this juncture I’ll admit something that very few men will admit—my attention span wavers between the words spoken and the views tendered, and in that same vein I will admit that never, not even one time, have I claimed that I subscribe to Playboy for the great articles—Playboy has lots of great jokes and photos, but few of its articles qualify as great. If I had my way the news would be presented by women such as—well, let’s see—there’s Nancy Pelosi and Helen Thomas for starters, and I’m certain that television producers need only to step out the front door and find many women that could be hired to read the news without distracting their male viewers—probably most of would close our eyes and just listen, and we and our nation would probably be improved by the change.
Every visitor to this blog would probably admit that some of the women on television bare far more skin than necessary to impart important information to their audience—lots of leg, an ample view of thighs and a substantial expanse of bosom—fooled you there, didn’t I? You thought I was gonna say tits, but I substituted the word bosom, a euphemism prevalent during the Victorian era in our history—gotcha!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I do not subscribe to Playboy, nor do I subscribe to Penthouse, Playgirl or AARP. I am, however, a long-time subscriber to our local daily, the San Antonio Express-News, a rag that is delivered promptly at 6:AM daily, rain or shine, and I recently subscribed to the new Old People Magazine, a publication that “gives old people something to read while waiting to die.” Below are some peculiar particulars of its content.
The first issue of Old People features a photo essay on Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as articles on the post office, the late Bob Hope, and how pills are dissolved into applesauce in order to make them easier to swallow.
Most of the content in the new magazine, however, will focus on the subject of most interest to old people: dying. “Myrtle’s Story,” an example of the short fiction included, reads in part: “Myrtle was old. Very old. She waited and waited. Finally, she died.”
According to Gurnstein, stories like this one have an important message of hope for the aged. This story says to old people, “All this waiting is not for nothing. Sooner or later, no matter how long it may seem, you will die,” Gurnstein said. “In other words, hang in there. In the long run, death will come at last.”
I am not making this up, and I’m anxiously awaiting my copy of the first issue and eagerly looking forward to the second issue, one that will feature pictures of a horse and a duck. Honestly, I am not making this up—if you have even a shadow of a doubt, click here for more information.
Airplanes, babies, barbeque & breast feeding . . .
Today en la madrugada—that’s Spanish for to the dawn, a term used by Spanish speakers in reference to the wee small hours of the morning—whilst I wandered amongst previous postings in search of embedded subjects that might be suitable for a subsequent post, I found some poetry concerning felines and their feeding habits. Most of the poetry is mine, but some of it is the work of unknowns, their identities shrouded in the swirling mists of time.
As an aside, I abhor writers and speakers that resort to using ancient poetical terms such as whilst and amongst, don’t you? Pray with me, and we will offer up a prayer for them in their positions as members of a semi-literate group, and trust that they will perhaps one day come to accept the fact that the use of ancient poetical terms such as whilst and amongst should be left to ancient poets. Oh, and let’s add unbeknownst to the list of words that were created by the ancients and that should be left in their care—exclusively.
As I read the posting I was particularly pleased by the second one, A Kitten’s Plaint, when I noticed that 13 of the total 17 lines were mine, including the title, and that allows me to claim 76 percent of the work. I dislike tooting my own whistle but as a friend from my past would say, It ain’t bragging if you done it!
And as Pythagoras exulted on his discovery of the Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid, exclaiming Eureka!, in the Grecian language meaning I have found it, I was similarly exhilarated when I discovered material for another posting in the title of this post, A tale of two kitties. However, I will not do as did Pythagoras on his discovery—he sacrificed a hecatomb of cattle—that’s 100 unlucky members of the bovine species, and I have neither a large herd of cattle nor a Bar-B-Q grill.
I was tempted to say that I have neither a large herd of cattle nor a Barbie, the term used by the Aussies, but I decided that my use of the term could be misinterpreted—not that I actually have a Barbie, of course, and not that I would necessarily want to have a Barbie—now that I appear to be digging myself into a hole, I will stop digging.
My title for this post is an adaption of A tale of two cities, Charles Dicken’s 1859 novel of the French revolution, reminded me of a silly rhyming riddle that was popular among kiddies during my kiddie days, and when told always evoked gales of laughter, even when most or all of the kiddie audience had already heard it.
Are y’all ready for dis?
How is an airplane like a baby?
The airplane goes from city to city, and the baby goes from etc., etc., etc.
Postscript: Note the proper way to hold a nursing child shown in this image. It makes a lot of sense, because in the NO position the baby will be affected by gravity exerting force on its weight—the baby pictured appears to be hanging by its neck and may have difficulty swallowing. I should think that the mother would instinctively know the proper position for at least one obvious reason—that same gravity will affect the connection between the baby and its mother.
Forgive me, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
My title for this post is a euphemism, as defined by Wikipedia: Euphemismis a substitution for an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, using instead an agreeable or less offensive expression to make it less troublesome for the speaker. To Wikipedia’s definition, I would add that it also makes it less troublesome for the one to whom the euphemism is directed—big time!
The word euphemism comes from the Greek word eupheme meaning words of good omen, and etymologically is the opposite of blaspheme, or evil speaking—the Greeks felt that one should speak well or not speak at all. An admonition oft delivered to me by my sainted mother was If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything. In my early years as a young boy, a small decorative plaque placed prominently on the wall of our combination living room/bedroom/game room/courting room bore a special poem—the poem and related information, all tremendously interesting and beautifully written, even if I do say so myself, can be found here and on my About Me page. The poem is as follows:
There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us.
I have carried the image of that plaque and the words of that poem in my memories for almost eight decades. I sincerely wish that I could say that I’ve followed its recommendation over those decades but I cannot—so I will not. I will, however, share this claim with any viewer that happens to stray this way—at this time, admittedly a late date, I am striving mightily to follow the creed expressed on that small plaque in the hope that my failures will be overlooked and credit will be given, both in this realm and in the realm to come, for subsequent attention paid to that sage advice.
Our English language is rich in euphemisms, some created in English and many converted to English from other languages, resulting in a wealth of ways to express something that at first glance is unrelated to the subject, a pot of gold that is constantly spilling over as new euphemisms are created.
And now on to the crux of this posting:
The most recent example, at least the most recent euphemism that applied to me, was when I recently took a neighboring couple to the airport to catch a flight. After we retrieved their luggage from the car trunk the lady favored me with a goodbye hug. Her husband normally shakes hands, but this time he put his arm around my shoulders, pulled me close and whispered in my ear.
I was expecting him to say something similar to See you in a few days, or perhaps Don’t be late picking us up, but what he said was Somebody let the cows out. I was perplexed for at least two nano-seconds and then I realized that my jeans were not zipped, hence the reference to the cows being turned loose, implying that someone had left the barn door open. His courteous and euphemistic whisper in my ear was my neighbor’s way of telling me that my fly was open.
I was lucky—my neighbor could have asked me whether I was anticipating, advertising or absent minded, with the emphasis on absent minded. I suppose that such a question, whether voiced openly—so to speak—or communicated to me in a whisper, could in its self be considered a euphemism—I prefer the one dealing with the wayward cows.
I immediately made a 180-degree turn and tossed the rest of my words—over my shoulder. The ambient air temperature at the baggage drop-off point had risen so swiftly that my first thought was of Al Gore, that he was right about global warming and that it had finally arrived in central south Texas, but then I realized that the increase in temperature was caused by my blushing. Speaking quite frankly, had I been asked I would have said that I did not have a good blush left in me, but I was wrong—I did.
Didja hear the one about the two little morons and the weather? Does anyone even remember the wealth of little moron jokes that made the rounds several decades ago? We aren’t allowed to use them now because they are not politically correct. Such jokes would disparage anyone of those among us that may be outside the intellectual norms established by our society. My use of the word instinct in a recent posting brought back one of those jokes, and I humbly offer an abject apology in advance—but not too seriously—to anyone that may be offended now.
I believe the question Are ya’ll ready for dis? which introduces the joke is, or at least was in the past, used by the San Antonio Spurs NBA team at the start of their games. It may be copyrighted, and if so I acknowledge that right and give them full credit for its origin. The voice is that of a former player named Johnson—no, not Jeremiah Johnson—Avery Johnson.
Are ya’ll ready for dis?
First little moron: It’s going to rain.
Second little moron: How do you know?
First little moron: My instincts.
Second little moron: My end stinks too, but it doesn’t tell me it’s going to rain.
I realize the two speakers could just as well have been Bert & Nan (the Bobbsey twins), Pat & Mike (Irish friends), Dagwood & Blondie, Mutt & Jeff, Donnie & Marie, Pelosi & Reid, Barack & Hillary, Chris Dodd & Barney Frank, Stanley & Livingston, O’Reilly & Beck, Paula & Simon, ad infinitum—or ad nauseam, perhaps. And the joke could also feature any two people, whether morons or MENSA charter members, regardless of nationality, race, sex, sexual preference, political affiliation, ideological bent, region, occupation, body build or marital status, whether divorced, married or cohabiting, whether same sex, married or unmarried, or two prim straight old maids or two grumpy straight old bachelors.
I used the original speakers, two little morons, to tell the joke as I remember it—history should never be rewritten, whether by nondescript writers such as I or by presidential biographers, historians and most of all, not by the school boards that decide what goes into the history books.
There’s a time-worn maxim that tells us that If we do not remember history we are doomed to repeat it. How can we remember history when it is constantly being rewritten in order to conform to prevailing social mores, to support or condemn various opposing political factions and to promote or condemn various opposing political agendas?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course, for which there is neither right nor wrong answers, and to misquote a line from the old Laurel and Hardy movies, It’s a fine mess that political correctness has gotten us into.
As a nation we are adhering so tightly to political correctness that little by little we are painting ourselves into a corner, and eventually our chickens will come home to roost—and that mixed metaphor should give everyone something to mull over!
And one more special note:
I especially like the combination of Pelosi & Reid as a replacement for the team in the little moron jokes. They were overwhelmingly voted into first place in a recent far-reaching poll, both exhaustive and exhausting, to determine the most logical team to replace the little morons in all the old jokes, and in any similar jokes that may be created in the future.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that only one person was polled. Can you hazard a guess as to the identification of the person that was polled? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two won’t count. Yep, you guessed correctly—I was both pollster and pollee and here are the results of my poll:
My vote of first place for Pelosi & Reid was unanimous—I know, I know, that’s an oxymoron.
Chris Dodd & Barney Frank were first runner-ups, also unanimous.
Barack & Hillary were relegated to third place, ditto.
The other candidates were also-runs, unnumbered but also unanimous.
And a rather lengthy final note:
Lighten up! It’s all in fun, and if this posting elicits a chuckle from even a couple of readers, regardless of their age, religion, sexual orientation, political preference or affiliation, education, profession, location, marital status, economic status, race, nationality, place of birth, height, weight, intelligence quotient, hair style, eye color or shoe size, then I have accomplished my objective—I’ve lightened their load for a moment, however brief, as they laboriously trudge along the road of life, usually making the wrong choice when their path diverges—-most do as Yogi Berra suggested: When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
I will conclude this posting by echoing the words of Brother Dave Gardner (1926-1983), an old-time stand-up comic whose career flowered and flourished in various entertainment venues in the years between 1950 and 1970, and included the production and sale of millions of LPs—and for those that have forgotten them or are too young to remember them, LPs are long-playing phonograph records.
Brother Dave would not be accepted today because of his politically incorrect repertoire, one that depended heavily on the use of regional and racial dialect. His career nose-dived in adverse proportion to the rise of political correctness in our republic. Were Brother Dave privileged to read this posting, he would analyze it and express his thoughts with one of his trademark expressions—he would undoubtedly exclaim,
This is a sequel to my original post of 13 January 2011. That story involved the theft of a watermelon by a brother-in-law, a born again Christian, and my confession that I had been guilty of a similar offense, but I furnished few particulars. This posting expands on my unlawful actions considering watermelons, namely stealing them from a roadside field a few miles from the South Georgia Air Force Base where I was stationed a lifetime ago—way, way, way back in 1952. Click here for the original post. It’s well worth the read, then come back here for this story of the farmer and his firearm—it’s also well worth the read!
Almost fifty-nine years have passed since then, but my watermelon memories are as fresh as the first seasonal load of melons being off-loaded at my local supermarket, and for good reasons, primarily because my last foray into purloining watermelons involved the farmer, a shotgun and the thoroughly trashed rear seat of my 1951 sky-blue chick-magnet Ford convertible.
On that eventful Saturday night I and my two co-conspirators wisely waited until a late hour in the evening to ignore Georgia law and also ignore signs that many of the local farmers posted along roads bordering their fertile fields of crops. We were of the belief that the farmer would be safely ensconced in his easy chair listening to the Grand Ole Opry on radio, a Saturday night not-to-be-missed event in those days.
As our method required—a well thought out method of stealing watermelons and one highly successful on previous Saturdays—I lowered the top on my chick-magnet 1951 Ford convertible and drove slowly as we neared the field and my two buddies disembarked—jumped over the side of the car—and disappeared into the cornfield on the right side of the road.
Yes, cornfield—this was a combination corn-and-watermelon crop, a common practice in the area. In fact, some farmers added a third crop, that of pole beans, with the corn stalks serving in lieu of the poles that the beans require for climbing and maturing properly. Pretty neat, huh?
I continued down the road for several miles, then turned around and waited a few minutes to give my team time to gather watermelons and place them in the roadside ditch preparatory to transferring them to the rear seat of my Ford chick-magnet convertible.
At this point I must digress to explain the ditch—road building, Georgia style. There were no freeways in the area nor in that era, just two-lane roads graveled or paved with asphalt—the interstate system was in work, but years would pass before multiple lane roads came to that area. The depressions that border both sides of South Georgia roads are called bar ditches by the locals, as in, Muh tar blowed out an’ muh car runned off in uh bar ditch.
I puzzled over the term bar and queried several local natives for its meaning and its origin—natives of Georgia, of course—and was told Ah on oh, interpreted as I don’t know. Having heard the song and seen the movie about Daniel Boone and his bear-slaying ability—kilt him a bar when he was only three—I figured it had something to do with bears—bars—but I was wrong. I learned from one of the more educated and articulate natives—a rarity in that area—that it was a borrow ditch, so-called because soil was borrowed from the roadsides and used to build up the roads to prevent water accumulating on the highway during the rainy season. Thus borrow ditch in English became bar ditch in Georgia-speak.
Now back to the farmer and his firearm. As I approached the drop off point—now the pickup point—I flashed my headlights three times to signal my criminal associates of my approach, then turned off the lights and coasted to a stop at the proper point, and the watermelons began to take flight, sailing over the side of my chick-magnet and landing indiscriminately on the seat, against the side panels, window sills, window handles, on the floor and on each other. Speed was of the essence because we planned on a watermelon party for our barracks-bound buddies the next day, a Sunday watermelon fest to be held in a secret location in a wooded area near the air base, and we needed a lot of watermelons for that crowd.
The blasts from that farmer’s shotgun on that night, on that quiet and peaceful rural road in South Georgia, resounded seemingly with the force of the explosions at Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended World War II. Well, maybe not quite that loud, but it was at least as loud as the time a certain brother-in-law left me sitting in my car while he disappeared into the woods to go to an unnamed location, saying only that he would return in a few minutes. Click here to read about the explosion that resounded several minutes after he entered the woods.
At this point I will conclude my digression and return to the tale of the Great Watermelon Heist, and hold my brother-in-law’s actions for a later posting, one for which the wait is well worthwhile.
In addition to the sound of the shotgun blast, we could detect the sound of lead shot pellets tearing through the leaves of corn stalks, a sign that the shotgun was not aimed skywards when the pissed-off farmer pulled the trigger—or triggers—judging by the sounds it may have been a double-barreled shotgun, or perhaps an semi-automatic shotgun that held five shells and the trigger was pulled so fast that the five explosions blended into one fearsome sound.
As an aside to this subject, I know that such a sound could have been made, and here’s proof. Many years ago while assigned to duty in Washington, DC, I was privileged to be present at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC when one of the agency’s top guns demonstrated his dexterity and the power of his weapon by firing it six times in succession. The sound of those six shots of .38 caliber ammunition exploding was absolutely continuous, just one smooth roar. When the agent pulled in the silhouette target, it showed that the rounds were all closely grouped in the chest area of the target, a group that indicated the location of the heart.
That’s enough of my digressions and my asides—okay, more than enough. I will conclude this posting by saying that I and my companions in crime escaped unscathed, and our depredations were never made public. That was not our first watermelon heist, but it was definitely the last—we never even considered another, neither in that watermelon season nor in subsequent seasons.
However, the rear seat of my 1951 sky-blue chick-magnet Ford convertible did not escape unscathed. Several of the large melons, tossed in the rear seat under extreme distress—the throwers, not the melons—burst open from impact with the car and with each other, and the faux leather rear seat and side panels were covered with watermelon seeds and juice, as were the combination rubber-and-felt floor mats. I worked half the day on Sunday cleaning up the mess. However, enough of the melons escaped destruction for us to have a watermelon party, albeit somewhat truncated because of the losses we suffered. Ah, those were the days!
This story is true—I know it’s true because, just as was the protagonist in that popular song Deck of Cards, sung variously and in various years by T. Texas Tyler, Tex Ritter, Wink Martindale and Bill Anderson—I was that soldier! If you like, you can click here to read the complete words of the song. It’s clever—I wish I had thought of it!
Postscript: In reference to that so-called chick-magnet auto—I never knew whether it would have drawn girls into its magnetic field because my future wife and I were already going steady and the subject of marriage had been broached, albeit ever so lightly, when I traded for the convertible, and we married just four months after we met, a marriage that lasted for 58 years. As for the convertible, it was traded immediately after our first daughter was born—so much for the chick-magnet characterization.
I am revisiting this post because it received more comments than any of the other 372 literary efforts I have presented to the world in general and to WordPress in particular. My purpose is to bring those succinct and tremendously well-written comments out of the Stygian darkness and into the bright light of now—I can truthfully say, with all seriousness aside, that I enjoy reading comments to my postings almost as much as I enjoy rereading the original posting—almost, but not quite! If you wish, you can click here to read the original posting, published on June 27, 2010.
Two pets for Christmas presents . . .
For a brief period of several months I lived with my family—mother, stepfather and youngest sister—in a one-room kitchenette in a small motel on East US Highway 82 in Columbus, Mississippi. This was in the latter years of World War II—although the term motel had been around since 1925, our establishment called itself the Columbus Tourist Court, the word court suggesting a more comfortable kind of accommodation—it was actually a stand-alone cabin in a line of other stand-alone cabins backed by an ages-old cemetery that historically was limited to black burials but was no longer in use.
Just as an aside, our stepfather frequently told people that the owner of the Columbus Tourist Court was a close personal and business friend of many years standing, and that if one mentioned his name—my stepfather’s name—the owner would cut some slack on the price of the accommodations. I tried that some years later and got nothing but a blank stare from the owner—he opined that he was not familiar with the gentleman—so much for slack, right?
The cemetery was in total disrepair, with tombstones missing, broken and fallen, graves sadly sunken and the ground strewn with remnants of urns and flower vases and leaves and rubbish, even a cast-off mattress or two. My sister and I roamed that cemetery picking up bits of colored glass and retrieving unbroken receptacles for flowers, some almost buried in the ground. This was the equivalent of a nature park for us, a place to linger in the evening after school and on weekends. It was also a place that prompted us to make up ghost stories, sometimes so scary that we scared ourselves.
But I digress—this story is not about cemeteries—it’s about the two pets, dogs, that our stepfather promised one day near Christmas as he and our mother headed for town in his four-door black 1939 Plymouth sedan. I mention the auto because it was never, not even once, not even on days of rain or snow or heat or cold, used to transport me and my sister to school. Had our tourist court been on a numbered thoroughfare, it would have been somewhere around Twenty-fifth Street. Our high school was located at Seventh Street and Third Avenue North—city blocks usually run 12 to the mile, so our walk to school covered some 21 blocks, almost two miles, and we walked it barefoot regardless of rain or snow or heat or cold, and it was uphill in both directions. Okay, I’m stretching it a bit, but the fact remains that we walked the distance five days a week while we lived at the Columbus Tourist Court—bummer!
When our mother and our stepfather returned that day shortly before Christmas, our stepfather gave me and my sister separate packages that we hurriedly unwrapped. My sister’s package contained a beautiful Collie, colored identically as Lassie of the movies. My package yielded a gorgeous Pekingese with the cutest face ever seen on a dog.
These were the two dogs he promised us for Christmas, and he had followed through with his promise. However, there was a hitch—my sister’s Collie was mounted on the side of a large tabletop ashtray and my Pekingese was a lead-weighted plaster dog intended to be used as a doorstop. We expected pets, of course, but we were given functional replicas of dogs instead. Mental torture? Child abuse? Of course, but in those days there was no Child Protective Service or any other service to accept complaints, even if we had been endowed with the courage and the willingness to complain.
We were between trips to the atom bomb project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where our stepfather worked. He was laid off for awhile and we had left a government trailer village in Gamble Valley, Tennessee to return to Columbus, and we were now returning to that area to another trailer village called Happy Valley, Tennessee—both locations are subjects for future postings. Stay tuned!
A funny thing happened to us when we were loading the car for the return trip to Tennessee. I had an armful of funny books—they were actually comic books but nobody called them comic books in those days. They were funny books, even the ones picturing the most violent mayhem, and the comic strips in newspapers were also referred to as the funnies.
Our stepfather told me I could not take my funny books because the car was already overloaded. My sister promptly spoke up and told him, in a completely serious tone, that she would carry them in her lap. That was one of the very few times that our little family laughed together—for a brief shining moment we were a happy family, albeit caused by friction. The moment was brief—the stack of comics was consigned to the trash, we climbed into the car and were off on another great adventure.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
The following comments on this post and my responses follow below—my responses are in italics.
A comment from my daughter in Dallas:
Ok, these are two of the stories that I always remember and they never fail to make me sad. Thanks, Dad??? You write so very well and the story hasn’t changed through the years. Not even a little.
Hi, Kel—thanks for the comment, especially for the part that reads, “you write so very well.” I consider that to be the ultimate compliment, coming from someone that has the potential of becoming another Eudora Welty (Google it!).
I’m pleased that you find the stories unchanged over the years. I will never admit that some of the details of a posting are a bit obscured by the swirling mists of time, but should it ever happen I would necessarily fill in the blanks.
Much as some of us improve our appearance with cosmetics, I would make up (get it?) fillers for the gaps in my memories, and those fillers would improve the story and propel it forward without altering its basic truths. A corollary can be found in the pig–and–lipstick story, namely that one can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
I believe that some of us tend to remember things not as they were, but how we would like them to be. Your Aunt Dot is a prime example of that—during the final years of our stepfather’s life, she apparently set aside all the bad and retained all the good of the earlier years and I suppose, as Martha Stewart is wont to say, that’s a good thing!
It’s good to read the stories of your childhood, youth and beyond, Mike. And I get the impression from your daughters’ comments here and there, that you’re doing the blogging equivalent of what I’d persuaded my dad to do for me and my sister when he recorded his memoirs onto audio cassette. Though the cassettes were just for us and here you’re talking to the world (or whatever part of the world may come by to read. I do hope that, in time, you’ll get more readers.)
Hi, Val—thanks for the comment. Your peek into my postings peeled back the cosmetic layers and revealed the naked unvarnished truth—my blogging is the direct result of the persuasive powers of Cindy, the princess that lives, loves and works in Virginia, just as your father’s audio cassettes are the result of your powers of persuasion.
Cindy hounded me for years in an effort to get me on camera, extolling my virtues and/or lack thereof in a series of videos. I consistently and stubbornly resisted—I vowed that I would never allow either the visual or the vocal results of such grilling to impinge on the senses of anyone, whether family or friends or the public.
Using the cosmetic approach I could have controlled the visual but not the audio portion. I consider my voice, both timbre and content, to be a combination of Archibald Alexander Leach (Cary Grant) in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” and Barak Obama reading from the teleprompter.
However, my recorded voice sounds like a combination of W. C. Fields and Gomer Pyle. And finally, the possibility exists that a slip of the tongue while on camera could land me on the covers of various tabloids along with Britney, Lindsay, Paris, Sean Penn, Hugo Chavez, Harry Reed, Nancy Pilosi and others of that ilk.
As for my getting more readers, the number of visitors to my blog has spiked dramatically just recently, a spike that I attribute–if not entirely then primarily—to you and Cindy.
My dad frequently made me turn off the tape, rewind and erase bits – not only stuff he’d uttered but some side comments from yours truly!
It’s a brilliant (and respect-worthy) endeavour to commit ones memoirs to some sort of recording device, whether it’s tape (which will be gone soon, I’m sure), CD, DVD, mp3 or any number of other formats or, as you’re doing, internet, for ones family. Sadly, I have no children, nor has my only sibling. I’d persuaded my sister to record hers, mostly for fun for us both and she’d wanted to do it as an interview so we’d both have each other’s, but my damn tape recorder died and I’ve not yet sussed out the digital alternatives.
Now I want to hear your voice! (Was that deliberate, I wonder?) I had to look up ‘Gomer Pyle’ as the show the character was in, was never shown in the UK. (Amongst other exports from the ‘States, we had Bilko – Phil Silvers – but then he sounded like Top Cat/Boss Cat).
While I’ve only been on WordPress since September last year, I’ve been blogging since 2004 and have been thinking about doing a post about blogging, getting traffic to ones blog, etc. One thing is this: it’ll be your own comments on other people’s blogs and their comments in yours, that get people into your blog, particularly when there is more than one-liner reciprocation. People like to surf into blogs via the usericon they see in the person’s comments to find out what that person is about and what sort of blog they have. They are usually (unless they’re authoring a commercial/professional blog) looking for people who are on their wavelength. People look at the content of comments. If there is something that rings bells with something in their own life, present or past, they’ll be interested. So – if you want more people to come by, just keep doing what you’re doing, and send yourself out more. Explore others’ blogs, talk to people about their own lives, find the blended-borders at which you and they meet and they’ll come and check you out.
Whoops – ‘she’d not wanted to do it as an interview, but a discussion’ was what I had meant to put in that comment, apropos my sister’s memoirs. Sorry. Some of my thinking is still a little disjointed.
From a girl named Sue: (No, not Johnny Cash!)
I can’t wait for your book to come out so I can curl up with it and a good cup of tea for a heartwarming read when I just want to relax and unwind.
My response to Sue:
Hi, Sue—what a nice comment. That makes me want to build a fire under myself and under Cindy and get the show on the road and when, and if, it happens we just might call on you to pose with your copy—the first one off the press, with its title prominently displayed, a nice poster to use for our book signings.
Light a fire under me? Under me? Ahem….I’m the one lighting fires, mister! Get me that title and tagline pronto, ya hear?
Val has some great observations about attracting readers to your blog—keeping on doing what you’re doing and then some!
Alright, alright—lighten up! As the Spanish-speaking folks enjoy saying, “Lo dije en broma!” I said it playfully, in jest, and you’re right about Val having some great observations about attracting readers—right now she has me working overtime responding to comments—I love it, just love it!
Interments in America’s national cemeteries are accomplished under rather rigid rules and regulations. Those directives specify who, why, how, where and when such burials are made. I am not aware of any exceptions to those rules—one cannot, for example, choose a shady spot with a hilltop view and request burial there. Such requests may be made, of course, but will politely be refused.
As earth is removed to accommodate new arrivals to the cemetery the length, width and depth of the excavation is done in accordance with regulations and is intended to accept four burials, with the potential of accepting a total of eight burials. The mandatory concrete vaults are constructed with four niches for future occupants, and the excavation is filled when the four occupants are in place.
Before the caskets are lowered in their separate compartments plastic strips of material, fitted with several lengths of plastic pipe placed cross-ways, are placed on the bottom of each compartment. The resulting space created between the vault bottom and the bottom of the casket when lowered allows the lowering bands to be removed, then each compartment of the four-unit vault is covered and sealed.
Should one or more of the compartments need to accommodate another casket in the future, only the earth above that compartment need be excavated. The vault cover will then be removed, another strip with rollers will be placed atop the lower casket and the second casket will be lowered, the vault cover will be replaced and the excavation will be returned to its original configuration.
Let me say at this juncture without any attempt at being flippant or funny, that those consigned to burial in a national military cemetery do not have, nor do they need, lots of elbow room. Each of the four-compartment concrete vaults discussed above has the combined potential of holding a total of eight caskets, two in each compartment. Land for burials is limited, and every effort must be made to accommodate as many burials as possible in the space available.
I imagine that some people feel, as I have felt in the past, that they would like to have their final resting place on a hilltop in a place shaded by a towering oak that marks the spot—a beacon, so to speak—with a magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding area—minus the diameter of the tree, of course.
The view would be a monumental panoramic scene of hills and valleys, wildflowers and streams and waterfalls and myriad wildlife moving about with balmy breezes caressing the flora and fauna of the area. I suggest that those who long for such a final resting place should consider the attractions of perpetual care and companionship with those that have exchanged this realm for another, and for themselves at the end of their journey through life on earth, a journey that ultimately returns each of us, in one manner or another, to the earth—in Biblical terms, to the earth from whence we came.
I feel tremendously privileged that both I and my wife qualify for interment there, a right that was accorded her based on our marriage and her support of a husband far too often away from home for extended periods, and for her maintenance of our home and possessions, and for fathering as well as mothering our three children in my absences. At some time in the future, interred in one of this nation’s national cemeteries, I fully expect to be happy and comfortable when I am reunited with my wife of some fifty-eight years in our cozy one-fourth of a community crypt in Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery.
My wife is now, and I will become, part of a community that enjoys maximum security—its grounds are immaculately kept and visitations are virtually unlimited. And at this juncture I must explain, in the interests of full disclosure and again with no attempt at being flippant or funny, that although I look forward to that reunion I will do nothing to hasten it—I will, in fact, do everything I can to delay it.
Our condominium lacks the towering oak tree, but a young oak has been planted nearby and is thriving, and with the assistance of weather and ground keepers and a bit of luck it will tower over us some day. Nor does our site—our suite, if you will—include a vista of hills or valleys or streams or waterfalls, but balmy breezes waft o’er the community and wildlife abounds.