Reaching Out


Good morning Everyone!l

I love the English language.  I love its richness and sonorousness.

I love the nuances present in different words with similar meanings such as the words “create” and “engender.”  I create a painting; I don’t engender it.  On the other hand, a hospital staff’s decision to make customer service a top priority can engender a sense of hope and pride in the surrounding medical community rather than create that sense.  “Engender” implies more of an outgrowing and flowering  than does the word “creation,” at least to my untutored etymological ear.

I also love the sheer number of words in our language.  After all, how many other languages have a name for that spot on your back that is unreachable when it itches?  For those of you wondering, the word is “acnestis.”  (Yes, I am nerd enough to subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day..)

English’s flexibility is also an advantage.   If our language didn’t change, we wouldn’t have been able to invent words for new inventions and actions such as television, planes, internet, googling, cable, e-mailing and scanning.

There are times, however, when American English’s penchant for changeability gives rise to meanings that are more annoying than helpful.  “Actually” is a good example of such a word, as I’ve mentioned before.

The latest annoying phrase I’ve encountered is “reaching out.”  This phrase has been adopted en masse by sales people under the age of 40 in the electronics business.  They primarily use the phrase in e-mails.  Lots of people “reach out” to me in e-mails asking me to buy computer equipment, electronic research and other such services.  Every time I read the phrase, my stomach squirms as I envision a horde of people extending their hands begging me to rescue them from a ship wreck or prison, which doesn’t increase the writer’s chance of getting a response.

Of course, I could just be evolving into a language curmudgeon as I age.  Help me out here by letting my know if you have any pet peeves regarding the English language to assure me that I’m not alone.  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Justifiable Homicide?


Good morning Everyone!

volcano

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Things got a little tense at our household this morning thanks to contacts and baseball, strange combination that it is.

Kayla got contacts about a month ago and after the first three days, which were rough, had most of the kinks worked out – until this morning.  I knocked on her bedroom door to tell her I was going to take a shower, so I would wish her a good day then and to have a good day, and

got screamed

yelled at 

was informed tersely that her contacts were just “not working” this morning and she was afraid she was going to miss the bus.  [How something with no moving parts or motor can “not work” is beyond me.]

When I told her she had nine minutes left so she should calm down a little, I struck a spark onto a pile of dry twigs and leaves.  I’m not saying I slammed any doors over the conversation, but I  slammed my bedroom door over the conversation.

However, as we all know, Karma works its magic at the worst possible times.

Field Trip

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15 minutes after the bus came, Kayla texted  – she had forgotten her permission slip for the baseball game field trip her class is taking today and would I please bring it to her at school so she wouldn’t have to sit in the boring classroom all day long and us lose the $20  we had plunked down for the field trip?  [I’m sure it was our losing the twenty dollars that was worrying her the most.][Insert sarcasm font.]

I contemplated telling her “no.”  I should have told her “no.”  I almost texted her “no. ” But instead I clenched my jaw and started looking for it.  Once I found it, the following dialogue by text ensued:

[Typos in originals]

ME:  Leaving house now.  Please be at front at drop off line to pick up form.  Do NOT make me park and come inside. 

KAYLA:  I can’t do that its against the rules.

[At this point, I think most mothers would agree with me that she has achieved reached the level of justifiable homicide.]

ME:  Then how the )^&*&%$%(*&^( do you expect me to get it to    [text typing interrupted by further communication from Kayla.]

KAYLA:  I’ll try it

ME:  [Deletes above text without sending. ]

KAYLA:  coach dean said I could come to the carrider line.

My mood was not improved by the fact that I managed to lose the permission slip form three times after I found it before I entered the car which probably wasn’t her fault but which I will find some way to blame on her anyhow.

Smiling Snail

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The smile on her face when she grabbed the form from me, though, made it worth it.

Have a great day!

 

Nancy

 

 

 

Finally – a Craft for Men!


Good morning Everyone!

Finally:

A Craft for Men.

At a Michael’s Near You!

 

Have a great day!

Nancy

God’s Sense of Humor, Part II


Good morning Everyone!

As I mentioned yesterday, twice recently I have been reminded that God has a rich sense of humor.  The second time came from a story an out-of-state friend told me and a group of women I was with.

She teaches first grade, and is still trying to figure out how to keep the kids quiet.  (She’s young.)  She told us that during Christmas break, she had been praying for patience.

Every woman over the age of 40 listening groaned; us older women know that if you pray for patience, you get plenty of opportunities to practice it.

When school started after Christmas break, she was called to the office during fourth period to receive a new student.

The student was named Patience.

Have a great day!

Nancy

God’s Sense of Humor Part I


Good morning Everyone!

Never doubt that God has a sense of humor.  That fact was brought home to me twice recently.  The first time, the joke was on me.

www.clickart.com All Rights reservved

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Publisher’s Clearing House’s latest mega prize is something like one million dollars up front and then $10,000 a week for life.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of extra spending money in their bank account.  It is possible that perhaps in an unguarded moment (or twelve or ninety or one thousand unguarded  moments) I whispered something to God about how nice it would be to win Publisher’s Clearing House.  Two days after the Prize Patrol failed to show up yet again, I received a letter.

The letter,  from Publisher’s Clearing House, announced that I had won and my winnings were enclosed.

Sure enough they were – in a check for $10.

I suspect God smiled while I giggled.

Have a great day!

Nancy

In Which the Ghost of Christmas Cheer Goes Missing


Good morning Everyone!

Last Friday was the last day of school for 2015 for Kayla.  The day before, her home room decided to plan a breakfast party in celebration thereof.  So far so good, but then my child (or perhaps this time she was Mark’s child!) volunteered to bring cheese grits for the class.

When she announced this to us, neither parent was thrilled.  Mark, because he had to go to Wal-Mart with her to get bags of grit after work and me because I was informed that I would be getting up to help her prepare them.  This announcement was doubly troubling to me since I had sworn off making her grits ages ago, since every batch I made was judged inferior to any batch made by either grandmother.  (See, Grits.)

Mark hates Wal-Mart and only goes there as a last resort, but by the time I got home that night, the two of them had already been and returned – with two five-pound flour bag size packages of grits.  I think he got off light.

When I awoke the next morning, Kayla already had plopped three stock size pots on the stove and filled with them water.  She was standing in the kitchen waiting for them to boil.

Unreasonable woman that I am, I studied the directions on the back of the package, and asked, “Did you measure out the water?”

“No, I don’t have to.”

“But the package says…”

“Well, Grandma Pat never does…”

(At this point I started gritting my teeth.)

The water in pot one started to boil, and Kayla added  about three pounds worth of grits into the pot.

My next question:  “Do you have the cheese ready to stir in?”

Disdainfully:  “Mom, you never stir the cheese in; you just put it on top.”

“It’s better stirred in.”

Aggravated sigh.  “Even Cracker Barrel and Huddle House just put the cheese on the top.”

(At this point I started biting my tongue and walked off into the other room.  With a decided lack of wisdom, I decided to reenter the kitchen.)

Studying the huge batch of grits stirring in pot #1, I suggested that pot 1 was all she would need.

“Mom, I have to prepare for 32 people.”

“Kayla, that’s enough for 32 people.”

“No it’s not.”

(By now, I’m ready to start snarling, so I jump to the true root of the problem.)

“You know, when you’re volunteering to bring something to the party at the last minute, you should volunteer to bring something we can just buy at the store.”

“I was going to bring plates Mom, but when people were saying what food they were going to bring, I kept asking for cheese grits and no one would bring them, so I did.”

The child then emptied another two pounds of grits into pot #2 and began stirring.

“Kayla, you have enough grits.  You don’t need the third batch.”

“Yes I do.”

“No, you have enough.”

“But mom…”

Then a shout came out.  “I don’t care what you say, I am now ORDERING you to not make the third batch.”

“Well, there’s no need to yell at me!”

I again left the room, this time to allow my blood pressure to come down.  After too short a period, I am called back in.

“Mom, did Grandma Pat teach me how to make good grits or what?”

(Note:  I don’t like grits; never have, never will.)

She then announced “You know I’m going to need you to help me carry this stuff in.”

I studied the kitchen counter, where a large assortment of very small Tupperware containers were spread out.  “Honey, you can’t take all my Tupperware containers.”

With a huff:  “Well, I have to take them in SOMETHING!”

After a moment’s thought, I found a very large stew pot that she could pour both batches in.  Now all she had to carry was her backpack, slung over her shoulder and the stew pot, which had handles and a lid.  She informed me I still needed to go in with her (which involves parking the car in the school parking lot and walking into the school) rather than just take her through the car rider line (which means I get to stay in the car while she gets on out.)   A snarling cross-examination established that the only reason I needed to go in was that she was embarrassed to carry in her large pot of grits by herself, which really set me off.

At the end of the appointed time, I managed to get the daughter and the grits to the right place at the right time.  My parting words to her as I walked from the school back out to the parking lot included a reminder to clean the kitchen as soon as she got home that day.

For the record, there still is at least one pot that has not yet been cleaned to my satisfaction.  It took all day Friday for my Christmas cheer to return!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Memories From Nashville


Good morning Everyone!

I am speaking today for an hour at a legal seminar here in Nashville, and driving up yesterday, it occurred to me that this is the first time I have been to Nashville by myself since Kayla was 4!  It was a never to be forgotten visit, but not from my end.

I had a few minutes free and was looking for some tiny souvenir to bring back for Kayla in downtown Nashville.  I went into a souvenir shop, where they had a bin of polished rocks.  You could buy so many rocks for a couple of dollars, then put them in a bag that said something original like “Rocks from Nashville.”  Kayla was in that four year old stage where kids pick up any kind of rock they find that they think is interesting, so I thought she would like it.

I had just walked out of the store, when my phone rang.  It was Mark.  I asked him what was up, and the conversation started with “Your daughter…”

I knew right then that whatever it was was not going to be good.  It turned out that Kayla and a friend had gotten bored at day care, and decided to amuse themselves by putting rocks into each other’s ear, then watching them fall out.   (Yes, you can see where this is going.)  Strangely enough, the rock in Kayla’s ear didn’t want to shake out.

Day care called Mark, who left work and took Kayla to the pediatrician.  To this day, he is not sure whether he is more amazed that he had a daughter silly enough to let someone put a rock in her ear or that enough other children had done it before her that the pediatrician had a specialized tool that could flush the rock out with water.

I waited until I got home to tell Mark what I had gotten Kayla for a souvenir.

Have a great day!

Nancy

The Kitchen Cleaning Caper


Good morning Everyone!

About three weeks ago, several round white spots, maybe two inches in diameter, and a long smear of white appeared on the kitchen floor.  Kayla said she had tried to mop them up, but it hadn’t worked, and neither had vacuuming.

I was tired of looking at them by Sunday, so yesterday evening I sat down on the floor and started working on getting those spots up.  The spots were made by a thick, hard substance, though, and the only way to remove them was to scrape the substance off with a knife.  It was too thin, too uniform and not stretchy enough to be gum but it was too tough to be something like sugar or icing.

After a while, Kayla joined me on the floor to help.  She wanted to know if I knew what the spots were.  I told her I wasn’t sure, but  I was beginning to think I might be better off not knowing.  Realizing I was talking about unwanted critters, she said “Eeee-youuuuuuuuuu!”

She helped me scrape for a while in silence, then she said, “These spots look exactly like someone  got mad and slung the stove top cleaner around without realizing that it wasn’t shut good.”

Happy Face Angel With Wings

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I sat back to look at her, and she added, “Not that I did anything like that!”

I let her off on a technicality.

(For the record, Mark and I went into the bedroom and shut the door so we could laugh until our sides hurt at her non-confession.)

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN.  We have a glass cook top on our stove, and it requires a special cleaner that rubs on like a paste and then is wiped off with paper towel.  Apparently once the stuff dries without being rubbed off, it is impenetrable.

Communications


Good morning Everyone!

I finally have relented and allowed Kayla to join Facebook, with the single stipulation that I MUST approve all friends and follows before she either makes or accepts either.  Her first wave of friends includes most of our family (if there’s anyone out there I missed, it’s purely accidental and I apologize!) including my mother.

Last night, I went in Kayla’s room to check on her, and she was very proud to tell me she had just been chatting online with my mother (her Grandma Dottie.)  Kayla was happy and excited.

The conversation led me to think about communications.

Bare foot Girl

Messages By Foot
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For millenia, the only means of communication that people possessed was mouth-to-mouth.  Coupled with transportation limited to the use of the foot, it took a very long time for messages to get anywhere farther than maybe the next cave over.

Assyrian War Ship

Relief Carving of an Assyrian Battle Ship from around 800 B.C.

A few brave souls realized that you could travel to certain places quicker if you went by water.  There were unique dangers involved and the range of places you could reach by water were limited, but you could travel farther faster then on foot.

One day during those vast uncharted millennia, some enterprising soul evaluated the risks of falling off a horse trying to break it versus the rewards of being able to get a message three villages over in half the time, and the use of the horse for transportation and communication began.

Ox Cart

Ox Cart
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Another incredibly brave family apparently very fond of their possessions and wanting to move elsewhere without having to leave any behind decided to take two or four oxen and attach them to a wagon with their stuff in it.  Big animal + big horns = big problems, but someone persevered long enough to make it work.

Smack dab in the middle of antiquity, the Phoenicians, who were fantastic sailors, decided to invent the alphabet.  Before that, the Babylonians had invented a kind of picture language they inscribed on stones, and the Egyptians invented the hieroglyphics they wrote on papyrus and tomb walls, but while the Babylonians and Egyptians wrote primarily for local purposes, the Phoenicians were salesman, the tradesmen of the Mediterranean, and they need something fast, snappy, easy to adapt and relatively easy to learn.

Roman Road Algeria

Remains of a Roman Road in Algeria

So now, messages could be sent directly to someone else in a fairly far away place preserved in writing rather than dependent on memory and transmitted by ox, horse or foot power.  The Romans, believing that conquering required an excellent road system, aided this process with a series of excellent roads built throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Portions of those roads, some of them built over 2000 years ago, still exist today.

Bear in mind  that it took the world thousands of years to reach this point.  For another couple of millenia, communications’ revolutions were sedate, although people, being people, continued to make better versions of the equipage that animals could pull behind them, the ships that men could sail and the materials used to preserve and transmit messages.

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick’s “Puffing Devil” (Replica)

Then, on February 21, 1804, Richard Trevithick’s “puffing devil” steam locomotive made the first train run on a track from point b to point a.    It took  about a decade for the commercial ramifications of steam engines to come to fruition, but by 1850, there were over 9000 miles of track laid down in the United States, and over 6621 miles laid down in England.

In 1837, inventors in England and in the United States invented separate telegraph systems capable of receiving and transmitting messages across wires in mere minutes.  Communication possibilities exploded.

Bell 1880 telephone

Alexander Bell Talks on a Telephone in 1880

Until now, the driving force behind communication/transportation innovations was to improve commerce, (although train companies were quick to pick up on the possibilities of passenger service).  However, communications began its next evolution in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, that is, the first device that was capable of producing a clearly understandable reproduction of a human voice.  By the 1900’s, not only had telephones spread throughout the United States, but their main switchboard facilities had begun to become mechanized.  As part of the effort to improve telephone service, the first digital networks began to be developed starting in the 1940’s, although it wasn’t until 1978 that Motorola developed and sold the world’s first mobile phone.

In the early 1970’s, my family lived overseas in Taiwan for a couple of years.  Even then, we could not talk to people back home by telephone very much or for very long, so we would record stuff on cassette tapes and mail them back home to the states.  I was very moved when, on my grandfather’s death a couple of years ago, I came across a cassette tape he had kept from that time.

1950 Rotary Dial Phone

Rotary Dial Phone from the 1950’s

Even when we came back to the states in the mid-1970’s, people had rotary dialing, not touch tone, and the phone stayed attached to the kitchen wall because cordless phones were either not invented yet or at least not inexpensive enough for normal people.

Now, of course, we take instant communication for granted.

New Model Cell Phone

New Model Cell Phone: HTC One, M9

If I can’t remember something I needed at the grocery store, I stop in the middle of the store and call home to find out what the unknown item was.  In fact, I get miffed if I can’t reach someone right away.

Instead of having to run for the kitchen phone from remote areas of the house when the phone rings, we now get to hunt for the cordless phone all over the house because Kayla and I both seem to be constitutionally incapable of putting the darn thing back in the same place every time.

When one of my bosses went to Germany a few weeks ago, he never missed a beat back here at home.  The speed at which he could obtain his e-mails was only limited by whether they were coming in at a time of the day when he wanted to read them.

Sometimes, (read “almost always” if you are below the age of 25), we don’t even talk on the phone anymore; we text messages back and forth on our cell phones.

Many younger people are beginning to eschew home phone lines altogether, keeping only mobile phones.  I can understand that, but it just seems so unrooted not to have at least one landline connected to your place of residence.

We can chat face to face by Skype to people on the other side of the world and receive news from anywhere in minutes through signals bounced up to and down from satellites orbiting the earth.

And we take it all for granted.

Until the smile on your child’s face after talking to her grandmother lights up your world as well as her’s.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Where did the time go?


Good morning Everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, a cousin of mine posted a picture on Facebook reminding all of us that there were (at that time) only 10 shopping  weekends before Christmas.  I could hear (and joined in) the collective groan that rose as those fatal words were read.  Didn’t we just clear the Fourth of July or something?

On September 21, I posted about Mandy’s accident.  I blinked, spun around once, and now over a month has gone by!  Mandy has made an excellent  recovery.  All but one of her stitches came out yesterday, and her ear looks distinctively untorn, which was the whole goal of the surgery.

She handled wearing the cone for about two weeks with grace and panache.  I know she prefered NOT to have it on, but she didn’t mope around when it was on.  She did find that it cramped her scavenging style.  Counters and kitchen floors were much harder to access.  I got more than one puzzled look from her when she was in the kitchen trying to rescue a dropped piece of food from the floor and she couldn’t quite reach it with her collar on.

I found a new app for my phone the other day that lets me do a sort of crossword puzzle on it, which I have enjoyed, although I did take issue with the answer “crochet” for the clue “a knitting technique.”  Tisn’t so, as any knitter or crocheter will tell you.  Knitting is knitting, and crochet is crochet.  Different tools, different techniques, different considerations.  The only thing they share in common is that they both use yarn and patience.

And that’s about all for now!

Have a great day!

Nancy