Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Counting Song" #3

I am not a list maker as a rule, but when The Counting Song runs through my head, well, I feel compelled!  So here, in no particular order, are 10 Things I Hate!

10.  Medicine by mail  -  It is unsafe and dangerous and its for the convenience and profit of the insurance company not the patient!

9.   Not being able to wear high heels anymore!

8.   Liver -  In any way, shape, form or species.  Yuck!

7.  Instructions for a task that assumes you know some essential information, so doesn't give it to you!  If I understood what to do, I wouldn't need the instructions!!!

6.   Housework....or any repetitive chore that doesn't stay done!

5.   Being "sort of" sick....sore throats, toothache, upset stomach, headaches, etc....I don't suffer well!

4.   Condescending  attitudes from anyone!

3.    Being cold....have I mentioned that before???

2.    Being teased about not hearing well me, its not funny.

1.   Cruelty or abuse in any form....wives, kids, animals....its all monstrous!

Done!  OK, its out of my least for a while!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I don't have a lot of friends by many people's standards.  You look on Facebook and there are tons of people who have hundreds of "friends", even over a thousand!  I very much doubt that there are even 1,000 people in the whole world who know who I am, much less are "friends" of mine.  Of course, I know that they're not really friends in the true sense of the word, but it is a little disconcerting to compare those to my measly 46 Facebook "friends"!

I've met tons of people that I've liked over the course of my lifetime, but a good friend, a best friend, is much more rare to find, and even more rare to keep! 

Nevertheless, I feel totally blessed with the good friends I do have!  What I find remarkable is that once I make a good friend, I keep them forever!  In thinking about the people that I feel close to recently, I realized that my best friends are associated with the early stages of my life.  I'll tell you what I mean.

There is Janie, whom I met in Girl Scouts when we were about 8 or 9.  Janie was my very first best friend.  Next came Kathy and Davey, friends from my teens.  My 20's best friend was the Big Guy!  Yep, Mikey was my best friend.  Ratchlet came into the picture then too and she has been more than just my daughter her whole life. Also by that time Little Sis had grown up and it was exciting to find another best friend right at my elbow.  My 30's came along and with it came Cathy, Tim, and Helen, my music connections. 

The fun part of all of this is that all of these best friends I made so long ago, are still very important to me and I am still in touch with all of them!  I'm very fortunate to be able to say that.

Then my 40's hit and there were a few work friends and lots of theatre friends, but no real, long-lasting "best" friends came along. In my 50's it became lots harder to meet new people and the friends I made during that time were more fleeting and again no BFF emerged.  I have lived in Austin since my mid-50's and I can't really say I made any true friends here either.  In fact, in the past 9 years, the best that I've been able to do is meet a few nice people, just a step or two up from an acquaintance. 

The truth of the matter is that I tend to irritate people.  I speak my mind and sometimes get overly impressed with my own opinion.  It makes people mad.  Can't blame them, I guess.   But I should remember that you reap what you sow.

I'm into my 60's now and, although I've always been a bit of a loner, I sometimes get kind of lonely and wish I had a best friend nearby to just hang out with.  Phone calls and emails are nice, but its not the same.

So, my old friends are my Best Friends; they are the ones who know me best.  They love me the same way I love them, in spite of all flaws and shortcomings.  We understand each other.  We laugh together, get silly together, celebrate together, enjoy each other and pretty much have fun whenever we're together, we also cry together and mourn together.  They taught me what "Friendship" means.  Sadly, with the exception of Mikey and Ratchlet, none of my best friends live anywhere near Austin!  And I miss them, and I thank them for letting me into their lives, for these are my good and true best friends forever and ever (as long as I don't irritate them too much!)

With love to:

Little Sis

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"If They Asked Me, I Could Write a Book"

It has become increasingly clear that I have about reached the end of my willingness to venture into new modes of communication and technology.  Texting will never be for me!  Who can see those teeny, tiny letters and screen??  Besides I don't get how texting differs from email, except you do it from your phone!  As for Twitter?  Not a chance! 

My life isn't that interesting, I can't think of anyone who would care, and I have no business, campaign, cause, or project to promote.  Of course, even if I had any of those things, there is an enormous stumbling block in the way.  146 CHARACTERS.   146?  That's all???  It takes me more than 146 characters to get through the introduction!

I don't necessarily mean to be, but I am verbose, long-winded, wordy, and all that.  I couldn't get by with Twittering if my life depended on it.  I would be a terrible print journalist.  I can't live without adverbs, adjectives, exclamations, and hyperbole.  I don't want to even try.

So, if they asked me, I could write a book, I guess, but I sure couldn't Twitter!

Monday, October 26, 2009

"The Chicken Dance"

Saturday was a festival day for my favorite people and me! 

We started out at Oktoberfest at our favorite micro-brewery/ restaurant.  We have taken M-t-G every year since it started about five years ago.  Its become a tradition!   We began taking her because the child LOVES music!  Any kind of music from classical to show tunes to Big Band.    (Her favorite singer is either Ella Fitzgerald or Rosemary Clooney depending on when you ask her. Also, I heard her whistling "The Brandenberg Concerto" the other day! She is 8 l/2 years old!)

Anyway, Oktoberfest has Oompah Bands playing on alternate stages all day long.  I never knew there were that many polkas!   They also have beer (of course!), bratwurst, Kielbasa, saurkraut, and spiced red cabbage.  The highlight for M-t-G was the games for kids ( you know, those "bouncy things", like a moonwalk, bungee pull, basketball, and "king of the hill").  Plus they had face painting!  M-t-G did it all.  Came away with a purple unicorn on her cheek.  Mikey, known to M-t-G as Poppa, was the opponent of choice, as he has been every time she can talk him into playing, and as always, she knocked him on his "not'so little" behind....several times.  He used to let her beat him when she was a "little" girl.  Now, not so much.  She pretty much wins hands down.  Watching him get yanked back by the bungee pull thing was hysterical.  Darn strong, those bungees! 

T.A., Ratchlet, and I sat nearby and watched the show while we ate.  Lots of laughter all around.  Food was pretty good, considering this is in the middle of Texas.  They served the Brats and Kielbasa (really Polish Sausage, not German at all, oh well) on Pita Bread!!!  Surprisingly, it worked pretty well, but is sure ain't traditional.  The saurkraut and the cabbage pretty much saved the day!  And of course, the beer for Poppa and T.A.!

Best deal of the morning?  None of the bands played "The Chicken Dance"!!   Oh joy, joy!

After we were fully stuffed and played out, it was time to go. T.A. and Ratchlet had plans for the evening so M-t-G came with Poppa and me back to our house where she talked Poppa into watching "Toy Story" for 8,000th time.   I was right proud of him, he only slept for about 1/2  hour of the movie!  (Usually Saturday and Sunday afternoons can be marathon naptime for the Big Guy!)

That would have been enough for me.  I would have been content not to do another thing.  But no, Mikey wasn't festivaled out I guess.  Our neighborhood HOA was holding their annual Hoedown in the park about 3 blocks from our house.  Nevermind that we've never gone before, didn't know what to expect, and were totally in the dark as to whether it was worth doing, but off the 3 of us went. 

Here's the picture:  they had music, food, kid stuff, and face painting.   Sound familiar??  It was a lot like our morning's activities.  Substitute a DJ for the Oompah Band, country for polkas.  They had some different things for kids, like a tractor/barrel ride, rock climbing wall, the bouncy basketball thing, a very tame bull riding machine for kids, and a very small petting.... ahh....thing (you couldn't have called it a zoo!) that had 2 little goats, 2 rabbits, a dove, and about 5 baby chicks.  Didn't matter, the kids loved 'em! 

Food was Texas BBQ:  smoked brisket, sausage, and chicken (sauce on the side, thank you), white or wheat bread, potato salad and cole slaw, beer, lemonade, or iced tea, with Blue Bell ice cream cups for dessert.  (If you are unfamiliar with Texas BBQ that is what it ALWAYS is!  No variation, right down to the store bought white bread!)  It was actually pretty surprising, the brisket was the best I ever had!  Mikey and M-t-G thought the sausage was great too.

M-t-G did the kid things, except the rock climbing (yay).  We passed on the face painting this time as the painter was incredibly slow and had about a thousand kids in line (ok, just 15, but still...)  Besides bedtime was only about an hour away and it would have to be washed right off!

We were back home by dark and everyone was pretty worn out but happy.

Best deal of the afternoon?  The Hoedown was FREE!  Really, everything was no cost, including the food.  (Guess those Homeowner's dues go for something after all!)

Overall best deal of the day?   Spending time with my Family.... and NOT having to do "The Chicken Dance"!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Dem Bones"

Okay, I'm beginning to get seriously pissed off!  I mean, really!  I have been in remarkably good health during my adulthood.  Nothing very serious has gone  wrong.  Which is a good thing.  But now, it appears I am on that slow slide downward that comes to us all.

There are the exterior changes we expect (the grey hair, the wrinkles). Okay, I accept that.  Some days are creakier than others.  At least, I'm still mobile.  When I was a kid, I wanted glasses, mostly because all the "cool" kids had them.  Now, like everyone else over 40, I rely on my glasses in order to see small things.  And I need really good light to read.  That's okay too.

I'm beginning to get all those brown spots that older folks get.  You know, the little "tags", moles, age spots, and strange bumps.  They are not attractive al all, but they aren't a problem if you're vigilant.  I have just been cleared on that score for another year.  My spots are just spots!  If they get too ugly, I'll have them removed.

It's true, I can't hear worth a hoot!  Particularly people who mutter.   Even that's okay, although it does annoy my family.  When it gets to be necessary, I'll get a hearing "device", so I don't miss everything!

But there are two things that have been revealed recently that really tick me off! 

I have catarracts!!  In both eyes!  That's just flat WRONG!  Don't catarracts come to the truly elderly??  You know, the little folks of 80+ years or more!!  I always thought so.  Isn't that what gives the elderly those "rheumy" eyes?   Considering all my senses, my eyesight is the most important to me!  Reading, writing, driving - when your eyesight goes, it is a HUGE problem.  On the positive side, however, there is surgical treatment available.  My eye doctor told me mine aren't bad enough to worry about right now.  Okay, I can live with catarracts for now.

But the latest thing has just pushed me over the edge.  I AM NOT ALL THAT OLD!!  I am 63.  I, by rights, should still be in the work force.  Still active, still know, still young! 

Here's the thing, I am a petite woman (not short!)  My height has been 5' 2 1/2" since 1962!   I am taller than Little Sis, taller than Ratchlet (by 1/2"!!!), and I was taller than my mom. I have never felt short and it always surprises me when someone makes a comment about how short I am.  

As part of my annual physical this year, I had a bone density test.  The last one I had, about 3 years ago, showed good bone density and healthy bones and that I was 5' 2 1/2" tall.  Check!  I never thought much about "dem bones", but this test came back with almost the same report, except that now I was 5' 2" tall. 

 WHAT???  WAIT!  Where's my half inch??  What happened to it?  Where did it go??  I want it back right now!  I need that 1/2"!  That's what kept me from being short!  I can't be short.  My whole psyche is wrapped up in not being short.  What will I do without my 1/2"??

So now you see why I am seriously pissed.  Enough, with all the physical changes coming along.  I am done!  No more!!  No new surprises.  I don't want to be the incredible shrinking woman!  I want to stay in the ranks of the "not short"!!

This is just unacceptable.  Does anyone know where the complaint department is?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Turn Around"

It seems like everytime I turn around, an awareness of the passage of time slams into me.  Its the consensus of most of us, I believe, that as we get older, time goes faster.  We've all had moments when we realized that it has been XX years since some event or other happened....for instance, June 2009 was the 45th anniversary of my high school graduation -- 45 YEARS!  Yikes!  How is that possible??  That is very nearly unimaginable!  Certainly, at 17, I couldn't have even concieved of something 45 years down the road!  Now, not only is that anniversary real, it is already in the past!  June was 4 months ago.  Arrgghhh, slow down, you're going too fast!

Well, if the realization wasn't bad enough, there is photographic proof of the reality of those 45 years.  There was a reunion of the Class of '64 held this past May (5 mos. ago!) I wasn't able to go but several of the attendees sent out photos of the events.  There is a very active alumni group from the school, particularly for the classes around the Class of '64 (mine).  There was one group photo of all the attendees standing on the stairs going into the dinner. 

Holy Crap!  Where the heck did all those OLD PEOPLE come from??  Did everyone bring their mothers or grandmothers??   But no, upon closer inspection, I began to recognize a smile, or a dimple or a nose.  They weren't a bunch of old strangers, they were my classmates, my contemporaries, my old friends.   OMG!  There was the guy I had a crush on for 3 years!  Over on the other side was the captain of the cheerleaders, there in the back row was the class clown making funny faces, just like always, and down front was the Homecoming Queen.

Looking at them now, you wouldn't believe it.  Nearly all the guys had little (or not so little) pot bellies and no hair; and the women all looked just like me....Overweight, grey haired, little grannies wearing glasses.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen!  We are now older than any of our teachers had been when we were in H.S., and we thought they were ancient then!

I am truly glad that so many of them were able to be there.  Death is beginning to steal one or two away more frequently lately, but this group looked pretty healthy and spry!  That makes me very happy.  But still....what happened to the last 45 years??

The year that we were born was 1946.  Everyone born that year was part of the first official crop of "Baby Boomers."  Most of the dads had served during the War, and practically the first thing they did once they got home from overseas was to...uh...make us!  (They were a randy group, our dads!) 

As time moved on, we seemed to remain on the leading edge of a number of significant changes to the world.  For instance:

*  The first space flights occurred when we were around 13 or 14.
*  President Kennedy was assassinated when we were 17.
*  The Beatles burst upon the scene when we were 18.
*  The VietNam War was killing or forever changing our young men.
*   We were the ones who were in on the War protests. 
*  We were the ones in Chicago with Abie Hoffmann and company.
*   We Baby Boomers, "Turned On, Tuned In, Dropped Out." 
*  We didn't "Trust anybody over 30." 
*  We wanted to "Make Love, Not War"
Then more assassinations....Martin Luther King....Bobby Kennedy....

The mind reels! 

All of these things happened before many of us reached 21 years old!  We weren't even old enough to vote!!  It was a tumultuous time!  Everything was becoming different; our music, our technology, our politics, our experiences, our morality, our way of life....all different from what our parents went through or believed. Now like you'd expect, it affected us each individually....some not at all and others beyond recognition.  Change was all around us and it shaped us and continued to follow us during the last 45 years. 

So here we are, all the grey-haired, creaky, old, front-line Baby Boomers, nearly ready to collect Social Security from the Government we didn't believe in for a while.  

We may not be the trend setters, or rebels we used to be, but we've raised our families, paid our taxes, worked our jobs, changed some things of our own, mourned our losses, and generally lived our lives the best we could.  And for some of lucky ones, who came through it whole, well, it appears we're still dancing to "our songs" and getting together with the friends we've had for nearly 50 years to laugh, cry, and remember those sweet days when we were young.   

....Turn Around,
Turn Around,
Turn Around,
And you're a young girl
Going out of the door....

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I have always thought of baseball as a Spring thing.  You know, the season of renewal, new beginnings, fresh air, warm breezes, shaking off the chill of Winter. Kids getting over being cooped up all Winter are ready for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"!  That's what they do in the Major Leagues, right?  They play from March to August and then just when Fall is beginning to slide in, the playoffs and the World Series!  The whole season is over by the middle of October....until Spring comes around again.  

Well, having a grandchild who loves softball has taught me that isn't the way they do it in the local Girls' Softball League!  Nope, at least around here....softball season is TWICE a year!  Spring AND Fall.  

The league, for reasons I don't know, thinks this is a great idea....and I guess, the kids think so too.  Maddie the Great is one of the kids who play in the league.  As of today we are nearly half way through the Fall Season.  Now the age we're talking about here is after T-ball but before Girl's Pitch, in other words the 6, 7, 8, and 9 year olds.  Like all league play for kids, the coaches are all volunteers, they choose their teams based on the tryouts, but basically everybody gets to play.  The games are Coach Pitch (an immensely wise decision). 

Most of the Coaches who pitch are not playing professional baseball for a very good reason!  They can't pitch worth a toot!  But its okay because the girls can't hit and when they do connect with the ball, the fielders don't know what to do with the ball after its hit and five girls have tried to catch it (translation:  chase after the ball as it rolls across the infield and settles somewhere out in Left Field while they decide who will actually pick up the ball.)  Then all five of the girls turn from side to side in confusion trying to figure out where they should throw the ball.  One of the mysteries is that the coaches don't seem to help the girls.  Maybe they're not supposed to coach while the ball is in play, who knows! 

Meanwhile, there are three girls on base plus the batter who got the hit. Somehow the runners all know what to do, its clear cut, "hear the sound of the bat hitting the ball and start to run very fast."   They almost always run in the right direction too!  And they frequently score....very frequently. 

Okay now, while this is going on many of the parents in the stands are screaming instructions to their own kids, to the fielders, the runners, and the catcher.  Not that it helps.  At least two runners score, nobody has been called Out yet, so the misery just goes on until they get those outs.  Then they switch teams and the roles are reversed.  Often with exactly the same result.   The scores on these games sound more like football scores than baseball. 

Today, Maddie the Great's team lost the game, I think the final score was 13-5.  There is no joy in Mudville tonight. 

Of course, I am exaggerating just a tiny bit enormously, but the basic idea is correct.  The girls are just learning the game, their skills are pretty undeveloped (to be fair, some of them are LOTS better than others) and Casey Stengel (look him up if you're under the age of 50!) hasn't made an appearance to help with coaching!  Still, they try hard and seem to be having a good time, so I guess its a good thing all around. 

This is the third "season", M-t-G has played (i.e., fall, spring, now fall again).  Her first season, her team won all its games!  The second season her team lost all its games!  So far this season her team has won one, lost two, and had three rained out!  Kind of hard to get the experience they need with this lack of consistency.

Being the loving GPs that we are, the Big Guy and I have gone to nearly every one of the games that M-t-G has played.  Sometimes it is painful to watch, but we're there cheering her on along with her mom and dad.  And we'll continue to be there for the rest of the Fall Season.  And when Spring comes around, we'll keep going for as long as M-t-G continues to matter how badly they play!  Who knows, they might actually start to improve!  After all, what is it they say?  "Wait till next year!" 

Oh goody.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Counting Song" #2

That old "Counting Song" is poking at me again today.  You know what that means; its time for another list!!    "10 Things That Are Fun to Say!"

10.  Blurb -  If you listen closely it sounds like a body function.  "Oh no! The baby just blurbed all over Great Aunt Martha!!"

9.  Isopropyl Alcohol  -  (I know this is 2 words, but I really like saying them!)  It just rolls right off your tongue.  Try it. 

8.  Otolaryngology -  It looks hard to pronounce, but once you've got it, you can impress people all over town!

7.  Sphygmomanometer -  It's a lot more fun to say than blood pressure cuff!  (Can you tell I have a healthcare background?  OK, no more medical terms.)

6.  Farkle  -  This is the name of a game that's out there that I've never played.  Words that contain the letters "F" and "K" are just intrinsically fun to say.  Don't know why.

5.  Trockenbeerenauslese - (A type of German wine) -  Actually, very nearly any German word is fun to say!

4. Doodle -  Don't you just want this one to go on and on?   Doodle, oodle, ooooooo!

3.  Frickasee -  See there's that "F" and "K" combo again!  Now add chicken in front of it and you've got a guaranteed giggle!

2.  Diptych - (2 painted and hinged panels)  Just sounds funny! (NOT to be confused with Dip Stick!!)

And now for the most fun word of all.....

1.  Marquardt - (its a surname) -  I cannot say this word without laughing out loud.  Makes me think of little green men (who walk in circles like those little wind-up toys) saying repeatedly in their robot voices, "Marquardt!"  Marquardt!!"  "Marquardt!"  Just try picturing it without laughing!  Go on, give it a go!   Funny, huh?  No??  Well, I'm laughing!

The Counting Song has wound down for another day.  No more from me, but I'll bet that you've remembered a few favorites of your own!! I'd love for you to share.  "MARQUARDT!"

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Food, Glorious Food"

Food, glorious food, the stuff of life, that which energizes all living creatures, glorious in its variety of tastes, textures, there anything that brings home to mind faster than the thought of the food you had growing up?  Is there anything that is more sorrowful than craving something that is only made in one little deli around the corner from the house in which you were born which is 1,800 freakin' miles away??!!! 

Sure, you can survive quite well without meat loaf just like your grandmother made  or the special double chocolate dessert from the neighbor down the street, or the best spaghetti and meatballs you ever had from your dad's favorite restaurant -- which was torn down 25 years ago????  Yes, its survivable, but it sure isn't fun!

Chicago has been home off and on for my whole life.  My mother and father and their families all lived in that Midwestern bastion of multi-ethnic, cultural and culinary heritages.  My mom made comfort food, that she learned from her mother, who learned from her mother and so on back to the dawn of time.  I learned from mom and still make a few of her recipes occasionally. 

Not surprisingly though, there are an enormous number of restaurants in the Chicago area.  I couldn't begin to guess how many but lots!  They cover the full range of foods offered in homes around the city, plus a few extras.  There are Italian, Chinese, German, Swedish, Greek, Indian, Polish, Japanese, French; as well as places for ribs, crepes, fondue,  soul food, fish, vegetarian, or pizza.  Nearly anything you can think of.

I have been gone from Chicago since 1991, that's 18 years!  Nevertheless, there are days when I would kill to have a chocolate malt from Super-Dawg, Steak Diane from Allgauer's, hamburgers from Hackney's, anything from Nick's Fishmarket, pizza from Riggio's, a steak sandwich from Booby's, or Chop Suey and Egg Foo Yung from Wah Sun's.  These, and many, many more, are from my favorite places from the times Chicago was home.  Some of them no longer exist or have changed, but I swear, sometimes I can positively drool over the remembered taste of a food that I haven't eaten in more than 18 years!

I think anyone who has ever moved from Point A to Point B will know what I mean.  Food, "glorious food", often doesn't translate well from place to place, like Saganaki (a Greek flamed cheese), for instance.  I haven't had decent Saganaki since leaving Chicago.  I live in Texas now, what do cowboys know about Greek food??  So its unlikely I'll get Saganaki here anytime soon.  Sure could go from some Saganaki right about now.  Ooooh, what was the name of that Greek place we used to go to in the Loop.....don't worry, I'll think of it.  Gee, do you think they might deliver??

"Heat Wave" - Part III

The heat wave of 2009 is definitely, totally, and completely OVER!  The current temperature is 54.5F, with a 40% chance of rain.  Yep, Fall has definitely fell.  After the blazing hot summer we suffered enjoyed this is a mega-dose of yuck!  I will now be crawling into my cave to moan and groan and sulk until May!  All you people who hated the heat can now go around in your shorts and flipflops grinning your little hearts out. I hope you're happy!  As for me, all that's left to say is Brrrrrrrrr!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


According to the "Webster's Third New International Dictionary. G&C Merriam Co., 1971.", the English language has in excess of 450,000 words (including various word forms, etc.)  Now that's a lot of words, right?  You should be able to say exactly what you mean with that many choices. 

I understand that words are added and disappear from common usage all the time.  That is what makes it a living language as opposed to, say, Sanskrit, which is pretty much a dead language.  As technology and lifestyles change, our language also changes to reflect the times.  I certainly agree that that is a good thing.  Sanskrit would not be much of a communication tool in this day of airplanes, computers, space travel, blogs, and other things unimagined by the society which used Sanskrit! 

There are, however, some things about language changes that drive me absolutely Crazy!   There are words and phrases that are altered from their original meaning with no discernable need or apparent improvement.  For instance....

1.)  The growing usage of "heart", as in "I heart my dog."  Well, I'm sorry folks, but heart is a NOUN, not a VERB.  You might as well say, "I lamp my dog."  I doesn't mean anything.  It makes no sense.  Using a drawn heart shape began as more of an illustration or graphic, not a bona fide new word.  It was a cute and clever way to express the feeling of love with a picture when the subject wasn't all that serious.  Now, however, it is happening more and more that people will use h-e-a-r-t, in place of l-o-v-e for everything, as if it were a real and correct usage.  It is not.  Using heart as a stand-in for love diminshes the emotion and reduces the sincerity of what is being said.  Love is a great word and is a significant part of what makes humans, human, e.g., love makes the world go round, love is sweeping the country, love is a many splendored thing, will you still love me tomorrow?  I love you!  Gee, how romantic is a proposal where what you hear is an undying promise of "heart"?  No thanks!  Replacing all those loves with heart just does not feel, sound, or mean the same thing at all.  We're all looking for love.  Everyone already has a heart! 

2.)  Another of these annoying and incorrect usages is "ripped-off", as in "My friend ripped off some jeans from the Gap."  Well, no she didn't.  She stole the jeans, as in shoplifting, theft, robbery, grand larceny, unlawful taking of something that did not belong to her!  Ripping off just doesn't carry the same seriousness, again diminishing the import of the act.  Stealing is wrong, illegal, immoral, and unfair, cruel, and dishonest.  "Ripping off" seems like a not so bad thing, practically a prank.  In reality, that little "prank" can land you right in jail.  Calling it what it really is the first step in reinforcing morality and just might keep some of these rip-off artists, out of the pokey!

3.)  I have one biological "sister".  She has "sorority sisters" from her college days. I have several women friends that almost feel like "sisters".  I have known a great many members of Catholic religious orders, all called Sister.  I have great affinity for women in general and believe in the concept of "sisterhood" of all women.  We share, support, care about, work with, and understand each other by virtue of our similarities.  I am honored to be a part of the sisterhood.

What I do not have is a "sistah".

"Sistah" is, in fact, nothing more than a cultural or ethnic mis-pronunciation of "sister" coming from the African-American community.  Its the same thing as "Pahk the cah in the Hahvahd yahd"  heard frequently in Massachusetts and its environs.  I don't have a "cah" either.  I have a car.  Just because a bunch of people say Hahvahd instead of Harvard, doesn't change what it means and it doesn't mean the rest of us have to say Hahvahd.  Frankly, I think doing that would be an enormous insult to the people of Massachusets, as if we were making fun of them for their accent. 

I probably come off as a Curmudgeonly, Rabid, And Zealous Yutz!  Could be, I guess, but I spent a lot of time in my life working on words and writing, and if that makes me "C.R.A.Z.Y.", well so be it.   Slipping below the standards of acceptable use of the English language just makes me completely "crazy".  I say what I mean and I mean what I say.  Its not so hard.  Believe me, its easier and more useful than learning Sanskrit!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"The Name Game"

Playing the "name game" is something nearly every parent goes through.  Despite the amount of thought that goes into the process most of the time, there are some parents who come up with some doozies....including my very own grandparents! 

As I wrote the other day, my mom's mom and dad had 13 children. That's a whole lot of names.  Of the 13 kids, there was a set of twins who were stillborn.  I doubt that they were named, but I'm not sure of that.  If they were named I don't think I ever heard the names chosen.

Sooo, that still left 11 names (22 when you include middle names!) to come up with....certainly more than any parent should have to deal with.  However, there was no way around it.  The government frowns on leaving children unnamed and it causes all kinds of problems for adults.  Can you imagine the embarrassment every time you had to fill out an application form or prove your identity?  "I'm sorry, officer, but I truly do not have a name.  No, really!   I don't know why. Check with my parents."   "Uh huh.  Right!  Sure.   Step away from the vehicle, smart-a**!!"

Anyway, my grandparents joined the vast law-abiding majority and gave each of their children their very own name.

Before I go on, let me clarify a couple of things.  First, all these children were born in the 1920s and 30s, thereby avoiding all of the later, trendy names....not a Kim, Heather, or Madison in the bunch!  Secondly, I never gave it much thought before, but I realize that I don't know the middle names of anyone but my own mother (Lorraine Charlotte -- not bad, right?)  Thirdly, there were no real horrors like Ima Hogg or other disasters.  Fourthly, most of the names were not too bad.

That said, let me give you the list:

Germaine (f)
Thomas (m)
Helen (f)
Carmelita (f)
Mary (f)
Lorraine (f)
Norbert Jr. (m)
Imelda (f)
Annabelle (f)
Gerard (m)
Joseph (m)

See, nothing horrid.  But wait, I haven't mentioned nicknames!  This is where things went seriously downhill for a couple of them.  Want to guess who and what??  Don't bother.  I doubt anyone would get it right.

My Aunt Carmelita was known throughout her lifetime as "Pinkie".  Only in her professional life did she manage to keep Pinkie hidden and use Carmelita (which I'm not sure is that much of an improvement!)

Then there was my Aunt Imelda.  That's not a great name, so a nickname had to be an improvement, right?   Well, no, not so much!This poor woman went through her her entire life being "Mutzie."  This gem, the origin of which I do not know, was pronounced to rhyme with "put-zee", NOT "putt -zee."  As I child, her name would make me laugh.  As a teenager, I was embarrassed for her.  As an adult, I realized she didn't seem to be uncomfortable about her nickname at all.  Now, as a "Senior", I guess that if she really hated it, she probably would have stopped using it.  She didn't.  She was "Mutz" until the day she died.

Both Pinkie and Mutz were in my heart as favorite aunts.  I was very sad when each of them died.  I miss them and I doubt that neither their names nor their nicknames ever kept anyone from loving them, including me.

So in the long run, "the name game" is not that important.  What is important is the person.  After all, as eloquently written by the Bard, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  As long as it wasn't named "Mutzie."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Counting Song" #1

No, I'm not reverting to childhood or even babysitting for a little one.  I'm just in the mood for a list!  So, here we go:  TEN THINGS ABOUT MY FAMILY

10.   My maternal grandmother had 13 children!   (Ouch!)

  9.   I have been told that my paternal grandmother's family can trace their ancestry back to the American Revolution.  Also through the paternal side, we are supposedly related to the Union General, Ambrose Burnside from the Civil War.  (Unfortunately, I have no documentation of any of it.  Drat!)

  8.    My mother's family came from either Germany or Poland (depending on who's telling the story!)

  7.   My paternal grandfather came from Denmark (no matter who's telling the story!)  

  6.   Both my mother and my husband are the middle child of their large families.  (That explains a lot!)  

  5.   My father was an only child.  (Also explains a lot!)  

  4.   My mother-in-law had seven children, none weighing less than 9 lbs.  (Little ouch!) They are all still living - aged 74 to 51.  

  3.   I am over 60 years old, but I still have two living uncles, both over 80, I believe (from those original 13 children.)  You go guys!   

  2.   My mother-in-law died at 98 years old.  (Great genes in that family! My family [uncles notwithstanding], not so much!)  

 1.   Neither my father nor my father-in-law have any male grandchildren to carry on the family name.  So both names have already come to an end.  (After all that history, isn't it a shame?)

None of this is all that interesting or unusual, I guess.    But hey, maybe it explains a lot about me!  Or maybe I'll just go and sing "The Counting Song" instead.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Sunrise, Sunset"

Everyday has a sunrise and a sunset.  Sometimes they are not visible due to clouds, but they happen nonetheless.  Its one thing about life that is universally held to be true...the sun will come up and go down each and every day. It has and will continue to do that for millions of years.  So you can pretty much be sure that the sun will come up and go down every single day of your life.

Now when something is almost 100% guaranteed, it becomes easy to take it for granted.  Sometimes you never think about it at all.  It just is.   In the case of our sun, however, we can't be totally oblivious to it.  Ask anyone who has SAD.  Ask any farmer.  Ask Noah!! 

Our sun, in combination with atmospheric conditions on this particular planet, won't let us forget it.  We are provided with sunrises and sunsets....sometimes colorful, outstandingly beautiful, wonderful sunrises and sunsets.  (Though I haven't seen a sunrise in many years.  Since I retired, I am officially ignoring morning!) 

Austin, sitting at the edge of the Texas hill country, is noted for its sunsets.  Something about the terrain and geographic position provides conditions that are conducive to special sun shows.  In fact, there are a couple of restaurants nestled in the hills surrounding the area's largest lake.  These restaurants attract a crowd each day the sun shines.  People sit out on the decks nursing their margueritas, watching the sunset until the last sliver of sunlight disappears below the horizon.  Then there is applause!  Always!  

We had one of those special sunsets today.  The sky was partly cloudy but the sun managed to cast a beautiful range of light coming from the West.  Orange, red, pink, blue, gray, and yellow hues shared the spotlight.  There was one pretty large bank of clouds, reminiscent of a roadway disappearing into a tunnel, leaving a hole at the mouth of the "tunnel".  The clouds around this point were ringed by bright gold and red sunlight, almost glittering, like an outline against the grey clouds.  Of course, it only lasted for a short while; the sun kept going down, the wind currents pushed the clouds into different configurations and then it was gone.  

But for those few minutes, the clouds were on fire and it was beautiful beyond belief. 

"Sunrise, Sunset" ---- literally a gift from the heavens!

"Dear Hearts and Gentle People"

Since I have discovered blogging, I've read lots of blogs written by "dear hearts and gentle people."  They write about their families, their hobbies, and their passions.  They write with love, humor, openness and for the most part, are thoroughly enjoyable.

Bloggers are not at all hesitant about stating their views on anything:  family, urban, national, global issues et. al., all are fair game.  To varying degrees bloggers have little reluctance to talk about whatever is near and dear to our hearts.  Some blogs are written by very strongly opinionated people who are able to state their views with a lot of gusto!  They are rational, just outspoken.  This type is a bit more serious than the light-hearted, feel-good blog.  Still it has its place.

That's precisely why blogging is so popular.  It gives the ordinary Joe (and Josephine) a platform to put their opinions and feelings into the public eye.  Each of us get our 15 minutes, so to speak.  We can say whatever we want.  Uncensored and unregulated, free speech at its most basic.  I support that enthusiastically.  You can find a blog to support almost any position on almost any topic.  Or you can write one yourself.  That's a good thing I think.  I would hope that it promotes understanding between people.  So write on, y'all.

However, every now and then,  one stumbles across blogs that certainly don't appear to come from gentle people. Clearly written by a fanatic or even worse, a psychotic, they are rabid, unpleasant, and are hard to read without screaming in dismay!  These folks scare me.  Really, really scare me.  I don't understand how they can get through the day when they seem so completely outside the mainstream.  Yes, I know that mental health problems abound in our country and cross all of society's levels.  Still, many fanatics are not mentally ill in the true sense.
A fanatic can be rich, poor, articulate, stumbling, educated, or nearly illiterate, insane or sane.  Their fanatacism can relate to politics, religion, environment, science, medicine, just about anything.  What they have in common is an absolute and total belief that they are completely RIGHT about everything they believe! They are not interested in  reason or open debate.  They are not interested in freedom of speech for anyone but those who agree with them.  They often seem to be capable of complete denial of reality.  They are engulfed by the strong conviction that their way is the only way....and if you disagree you will most assuredly reap the consequences (which are certain to be dire.)  Most scary of all is the lengths that fanatics will go to discredit any other belief. 

Now, please understand, I strongly believe that everyone has the right to their own opinions.  I do not believe that everyone who disagrees with me is totally wrong, a bad person, or a fanatic.  But the truth of the matter is that fanatics of whatever "ism" they follow are not helping society OR their cause.  Most importantly, they cannot force me or anyone to agree with them, change positions, keep quiet, or even to read their blogs!  I'll believe in and support whatever I want to and completely ignore, avoid, and refuse to indulge irrational fanatics who, unsolicited, try to tell me what to do.  

So when it comes to blogs, as well as every other aspect of my life, if nobody minds, I'll just stick with the "dear hearts and gentle people." 

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