Growing Your Vocabulary
⚽ It is well known that writers make grammatical “mistakes”. It happens to us all, regardless of our efforts not to. For centuries, we have searched for a gender neutral missing third-person pronoun. that could be used in place of he or she when gender is unknown or irrelevant. Grammarians have always insisted that it is plural, but more and more it has become accepted to use “they” as a substitute for the singular he/she. Personally, I have used it in that way for several years, knowing it was plural, but ignoring my college English teacher’s admonishment against doing so. I believe that most of us can find instances in our life where we ignored accepted practices and discovered later that what we did previously had become outdated. For example, most people believe that it is better to read a book than listen to an audiobook, but today it is a fact that more people listen to audiobooks. In the past, most people kept up with what was happening in the world by reading newspapers and today most people get their news online. Now, most of us file our taxes electronically, whereas in the past we used paper forms and struggled with tax codes. Yup, times have changed, and we need to change with it. I now feel comfortable using “they”. Times have changed!
⚽ “Now that I’m old, my teachers are the young”… Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He died in 1963 at age 88, and he was known for his depiction of rural life. How odd it is that back then (‘40s &’50s) he thought adults could learn from the young, because I grew up during that time and adults, in my experience, paid little heed to the young. I’m not saying we weren’t loved, but that we had very little influence on adults. I do think the current generation of adults are influenced by the young. We have high school students lobbying for gun control laws, Greta Thunberg (age 15) of Sweden is lobbying in behalf of climate control All Over the World and as I watch the evening news, I see young people trying to make their voices heard everywhere. The Democrats currently have a relatively young gay man (Pete Buttigieg, age 38) running for their party’s presidential nomination. John F. Kennedy was our youngest president at age 43. You must be at least 35 years of age to run for that office.
So, yeah, I think young people influence us, and in more ways than we think. While in my twenties I cursed often, influenced by coworkers, but believing I could avoid those words at home around my two young children. Well, it eventually happened at home and seeing the bewildered look on my 6-year-old daughter’s face, convinced me to change my ways. I never had that kind of influence on my dad 😊. An old Swedish Proverb says, “Being young is a fault that improves daily”.
⚽ My wife and I went to her post-op (post operation) visit with her surgeon two weeks after her operation on January 21st to reattach her colon & small intestine. I asked him at what point could we feel safe about the reattachment not leaking and he replied, “Very rarely at this stage does that happen, I would say once in a blue moon”. I know that a “Blue Moon” is two full moons within one month and it only happens every 2-3 years (It happens again on October 31). That made us feel a lot better because the elephant in the room was whether this could go south quickly and without any advance notice? Later, while pondering his “Blue Moon” statement, I wondered about other colloquialisms. As a kid, I was told, “You can wait until the cows come home”, meaning wait until it happens and that may take a while. If Mom wanted to get something done quickly, she would tell me to “juice it up a little”. She would also admonish me when I was in trouble, “You’re in a pickle now”. That normally meant she was going to tell Dad of my offense when he got home from the coal mines and he was going to give me a “whuppin”. I recall one time that my brother and I got into some mischief and she waited until we all sat down at the supper table and told him. He firmly informed us that after we finished our meal, he would take us to the bathroom for a whipping (that’s always where the dastardly deed was done). We ate every morsel of food on the table and that amused my father so much that he broke out in laughter and the lashing was avoided. He was never very good at whipping my brother and I, seems he just didn’t have the heart to do it. I can only recall him doing that twice in my life and I deserved both.
To clear up the “Supper” thing; in the mountains of Virginia when I was a youth, we ate breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner). We carried our groceries in a “poke” (bag) and bought bottles of “pop” (sodas). If you were afraid to fight another kid, you “chickened out”. I kinda miss hearing those old expressions, but when I go back home every summer, those words are like music to my ears, reminding me of the kid I was all those long years ago, and how much I love the people that still use them. If I had to draw a picture of my hometown, it would have to be drawn on my heart.
⚽ Students are over 4 times more likely to drop out of school if they are unable to read proficiently by the 3rd grade. I ran across that fact a few days ago and was dumfounded. I know that by the time I was in the 3rd grade I had a stack of comic books that were waist high. Our little two room grade school didn’t have a library, so the only reading material available were comic books. If I came across something I couldn’t pronounce, or understand, I went running to my mother with my index finger firmly glued to the offending word. By age 9 (1950), I felt I had mastered the art of reading😊. I recall that in one comic book the person was watching TV, and I wondered “what in the heck is a TV”? I also remember reading Dick Tracy in the Sunday Comics and being amazed when he would talk to someone far away by speaking into his watch. It took about seventy years for that to happen. With all the opportunities to read now, it’s inconceivable that our young children cannot read well. I do believe the ability to read is a cornerstone for success in life. I have only known three people that were illiterate. One was very successful, one lived comfortably, and the other one depended on her husband for her livelihood. I believe it is important to stress the importance of an education to our young people. Likely, today’s environment demands a college education to live a fulfilling life, but it is not impossible to make a good living minus a college degree. It just makes it infinitely harder to accomplish.
How do we help our young people get their education without incurring a mountain of debt? Well, immediately after WWII, we allowed all ex-servicemen to attend 4 years of college under the GI Bill for free. That investment in America’s future paid dividends, so why can’t we do something similar now? Allow each high school graduate the opportunity to get 4 years of college for 2 years of community service in their chosen field immediately afterwards. Failing to do so would require repayment of the cost of their education. Also, if the student dropped out of college before completion, they would have to repay their educational cost to that point. I’m confident the law would have to be more complex than what I’ve described, but smarter people could surely come up with a viable plan.
Alice James said, “I wonder whether if I’d had an education I should have been more or less a fool than I am,”. You know, I sometimes wonder that same thing! 😊
December 2, 2021
♥️ Well, chilly weather has silently crept into our area. I woke up this morning, and Alexi (Amazon) informed me that the temperature outside was 32° and the high was going to be 44°. I have to say that I am not ready for that amount of cold, and it seems like we were fighting temperatures of 95° just a few weeks ago. I am thankful that I don’t have leaves to rake and all the other outdoor activities that go with fall. I planned to fly my drone today, but the wind was too stiff, and I had to cancel those plans. I do like having four seasons. I have friends and family who live in California and Florida. They just love having sunny weather all the time, but I enjoy having seasons.
I often write to my good friend (Dale) in Florida and tell him about our cold temperatures, and he takes absolute delight in telling me it’s 75° and he’s playing golf every day. I can almost see the broad smile on his face. He lives in what is probably the largest retirement center in the USA, The Villages, and when we visited him a few years back, he tried to convince me I didn’t have to die to go to Heaven; all I had to do was move to “The Villages”! 😊
I am pleased he enjoys his retirement so much. Of course, the people in California are just as bad, if not worse, than Floridians. Everyone out there believes all good things start there and then spread east 😊. I have to admit that I enjoyed myself while visiting both places, but if I had to pick, then it would be the west coast. My biggest concern would be the lack of rain they get yearly. Seems they are constantly fighting wildfires and the destruction of many, many homes. We have relatives that live in California, and we worry about their welfare.
Bottom line, there is a distinct possibility that any place you live on this planet has its pros and cons. We know those and still choose to live in that area. My primary reason for living in this area is because I came here in 1963 looking for a job at the local shipyard. I have been here for 58 years and have made my last move. There’s a sadness to that thought, but we all make our final move at some point in our life. Mine came sooner than I thought 😊.
I enjoyed this quote by Huck Finn, “ain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
♥️My usual routine is to work out at the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. I walk up there from our cottage around 2:30pm, set my Fitbit watch for 51 minutes, and cycle thru the fifteen machines they have that will turn me into Charles Atlas. Seldom do I encounter anyone else, but occasionally a guy about my age, in a wheelchair, comes in and goes thru his paces, and he works harder at it than I do. I am always impressed when he rolls in and starts his workout. Like me, he has recognized that if he wants to stay healthy, he has to do healthy things and keep moving.
I read an article a while back that said we start losing muscle mass in our thirties. I’m guessing that the muscle fades away, and fat slowly takes its place 😊. At least that’s what happened to me. Anyway, back to the person in the wheelchair. As he goes from station to station, he struggles in and out of his chair but never complains, and when I get the chance to observe his face, I see a look of satisfaction in what he is doing. It’s as though he’s defeating an enemy. What an inspiration!
When I leave the house, I put in my earbuds, turn on an audiobook, head for the gym, and keep the book going until I return home. It’s a job for me, but not for him. It’s a battle, and he’s gonna win! I need to find out what he puts in his water that gives him that drive and enthusiasm.
When lifting weights, you can always tell how hard a person is working by how much they grunt. This fellow grunts a lot! As for me? Well, I seldom grunt, so you can see how much good I’m doing. My excuse is that I’m just toning my muscles, not trying to build muscle mass. Sounds kinda lame to me. I think I’m gonna try to do better, work harder, and see how it turns out. Who knows, maybe I’ll get that Charles Atlas look.
Edgar Allan Poe said it so well, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Ahh heck, that Charles Atlas thing is probably a pipe dream 😊.
♥️ We had dinner a few weeks ago with our newly acquired friends, Mike & Mary, and they invited us back to their apartment to enjoy a glass of coffee brandy. I had never tasted brandy before, and neither had my wife, so we thought it would be a fun thing to do. We walked into their living room, sat down, and the conversation began. We old people have no difficulty keeping a robust discussion going because we have so much to draw from. It’s sorta like a well that’s full and one that’s only half-full. Shortly, Mike says, “Are you ready for some brandy?” We responded positively to his question, and off he goes to the next room and brings back four glasses and a hefty-looking bottle. He says we need to swirl it around in our mouth to get the flavor before swallowing. My wife followed his instructions and as the brandy departed her mouth for a trip to her stomach, her face conveyed the look of someone that had just swallowed a lizard. Mike looked at her and asked if she liked it, and her reply was an adamant “No!” as she shook her head. She immediately handed me what remained in her glass and asked me to drink it for her. I enjoyed both glasses of that potent stuff, but then, most men never need a reason to drink alcohol. Many of the women here enjoy a good glass of wine. My favorite alcoholic drink is beer, but it’s Jack Black & Coke for more potent stuff. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s Jack Daniels Bourbon (black label-they also have a green label). The black label is aged longer in their oak barrels.
We visited with Mike & Mary for about an hour, and during that time, he took us into his Den to allow us to see his “Baptist Bar.” He had a large, wooden world globe sitting beside his chair, and it opened up to reveal his selection of alcoholic drinks. I could tell he enjoyed having that bit of deception by the great big ole smile on his face. It always amazes me how little it takes to make us old guys happy 😊. We left their home, pleased that we had made new friends, and walked back to our cottage about 5 minutes away. I noticed on the way that my legs were a little wobbly, and I’m guessing the brandy had a little kick to it. Needless to say, I slept well that night.
We are thankful that The Lord is faithfully sending new friends in our directions, sometimes almost weekly. I often wonder why it took me so long to value friendships. Oh well, better late than never!
Benjamin Franklin said, “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” I’m not so sure I agree with him. I think reasonable men can have faith.