Monthly Archives: March 2021


I love the waltz. It’s breath-taking!

So simple–1 2 3 1 2 3

If only we had 3 feet!

But to watch from above?

The music: compelling

The dancers swirling

So graceful!

They all turn together

the gowns–blooming flowers.

It’s a garden

Set to music.

Are you “woke?”

Being “woke” is an African-American Vernacular English term.

Awwwww C’mon! Really? What does “Woke” actually mean? According to some sources, it means that you are aware of social injustice. Then why don’t they say Aware? Woke is the past tense of Wake. They wake up today, and they woke yesterday. So you can’t actually be woke because that mixes past and present tenses. Just like you can’t rode your bicycle, and you can’t went to the store later. That’s like Cockney Rhyme Slang. They say a string of unintelligible phrases which rhyme with the actual words and only those people conversant in those references can understand them. More and more people are adopting that slang. They even use in the movie, “Ocean’s Eleven.” And, of course, the Cockneys are abandoning it. But it used to be that using that accent indicated that you were lower class, possibly criminal, and not very bright. But unlike Cockney Slang, African-American Vernacular English is not relegated to a single locale, it’s throughout the country. But it is rarely spoken outside the black community. It’s another instance where people take pride in looking stupid.

Cockney Rhyming Slang was used to confuse the uninitiated, namely police. What does the African-American Vernacular English do? Confuse the police? Why would a whole sector of a country have to do that? See, the Cockney mostly live in East London, and they were the working poor. If a crime was committed, the first suspects would be Cockney. They had the worst jobs in the worst conditions with no hope of escape. Sound familiar? Michael Cain is Cockney. Does he speak Cockney on the set? Well, he does in his Austin Powers movie. The rest of the time you’d be hard pressed to hear him speaking with anything other than the Standard British English. But he falls into it so easily when the part calls for it. In order to blend in, you couldn’t speak with a Cockney accent because immediately your perceived IQ would drop 40 points. You’d never be taken seriously, and most people would assume you had a “dodgy” character. It’s the same with African-American Vernacular English.

Now, we all have some idiosyncrasies in our day to day verbiage. One guy I knew couldn’t pronounce Statistics–he always added an extra s. We advised him to just say Stats as that’s what he could say before everything went south. He paid no attention. He was aware of his short-comings in communications, he just didn’t care. There’s a man who, when he addresses his associates, uses the thickest Georgian accent and clich├ęs to make himself sound like he is a regular guy–nothing special. But when he’s talking to the movers and shakers of the world, he changes his accent and his choice of words and can rattle any CEO’s cage. He often says he’s not the shiniest apple, or the sharpest crayon, or the fastest gazelle, but when you see him in action, you know for a fact if there is a shinier apple or a sharper crayon or a faster gazelle, it would be rare air indeed. When Mr. Obama was the president, he spoke very eloquently. He did not use the African-American Vernacular English except to make a point. Those people I know and consider friends are actually bilingual. They use a different English when they speak with me than when they speak with their friends.

I am a language elitist. I can’t help myself. I cannot fathom how anyone would want to sound less educated, less enlightened, or less intelligent. I thought the purpose of public schooling was to have everyone speaking the same language and have the same basic skills one needed to survive in our country. Do they teach ESL for children who speak mostly AAVE? Can the children of Cockney Parents speak anything other than Cockney? “No’ if ‘ay ang o’ wif only ‘ose ‘a’ toke uh same. D’ya know wa’ Oi mean?” *translation: Not if they hang out with only those that talk the same. Do you know what I mean?”

Let’s look at this then. WE NEED to be aware of the prejudice and social injustice around us. But attaching a word or set of words stolen from AAVE to prove that we are aware is perpetuating the problem. I have learned several languages because I love linguistics and love how expression is so different. I love to converse with people in their native language because the perceptions one receives are different because of the idioms used and the cultural aspect of the communication. What happens when the people develop their own language (like the Cockneys) because of their station in life? Doesn’t it change when their station is upgraded? What happens when all the people have the same TV programs they watch, the same news, the same literature, the same schooling? Why do they choose to retain the language that indicates a subservient position in life? Why would people want to imitate their language? TO KEEP THEM IN THEIR PLACE. How underhanded is that? If they imitate the language, aren’t they mocking them because now they are privy to the code.

You understand when we were young and rebellious, we developed our slang. Cool, Groovy, Dig it, Far Out. It became second nature to us. How many of us continue to use those terms? How did it sound when our parents used those terms? It was like orchestral musicians trying to emulate jazz. It’s like a beginner’s class in Salsa. It sounded fake, forced, ingenuine. So when we talk about being “woke” it gives the impression that we are in solidarity with those oppressed people. Which means, after the protest march, we come home, put our signs in the garage, sit in our living rooms and watch ourselves on the television as we eat pizza. Our involvement is done. We are now “Woke.” Um, nope. Awareness would mean we acknowledge that there is disparity in treatment. Then we move to fight that disparity. We insist that police and other businesses treat everyone the same. We don’t use AAVE because we’re not African American. We don’t have the right. We also can’t use Cockney because we’re not Londoners and we don’t have the right, and it takes too long to translate. Parents and grandparents do not use the current slang of our children. They’d have to come up with a completely different language to rebel with.

So though you may be aware, NO you ain’t WOKE!

Calm Down?!!!

Are you KIDDING me? Have you ever been in mid-rant and have some well-meaning person tell you to calm down? What are the indications? Red Face, hard breathing, elevated vocal volume, higher pitch, eyes wide, brows scrunched, hands balled up into fists. Check, check and check. What is the actual cause of the rant? Is it something over which the subject doesn’t seem to have any control? Is this person indicating frustration or anger? If this screaming banshee is demonstrating anything like rage, get out of the way!

My friend, Heather, is like me. If she has her mad on, the mere words, “Calm down,” make her go ballistic. We both have the same reaction: get madder. I think it’s that people think we cannot control our emotions. The situation evokes an emotional response, and we’re told it’s not a valid reaction. I think that unless the underlying problem is addressed, the emotion cannot be just shut off.

When you see the police procedurals, the bad guy has a gun, and everyone–everyone!–is yelling in their command voices to drop the gun. 8 guys yelling at you tends to scare the crap out of you, fight or flight…no place to go, that leaves fight. I saw a cop walk up behind a guy and whisper in his ear to drop the weapon, and he did! Oh, and he wet his pants. True power is confidant enough and cool enough not to have to raise the voice. But in this case, the voice is raised, the blood pressure up, things get thrown. Then someone yells Calm Down. I have really good aim with a spatula. I may have enough self control to throw something that might break bones or cause a serious bruise instead of removing pieces of anatomy. But I couldn’t absolutely guarantee this reaction.

It’s funny. My son can be calmed down by pure logic or a nice hug, and he reacts to the words “Calm Down” by calming down. What is wrong with this boy?

I think the best reaction to me losing my temper is to ask the question: Is there anything we can do about this? It changes the direction of the rage from the way things ARE to what we can do to deal with this. It goes from an emotional response to a mental exercise. It’s a distraction technique. Another distraction technique is to agree with me. Don’t add anything to the conversation though as that might launch me into another rant. If I’m panicked, remind me to breathe. But I tell you the truth, if you discount my emotion, I will be most displeased and will do exactly the opposite and punctuate my points with sharp objects.

Last week, across the street…

Last week, across the street

They were moving in.

Trucks, dollies, strong men

Strong women with boxes

Children unpacking toys

between the truck and the house

Last, week across the street

They put up the curtains first.

The children didn’t want

to go into the house.

Nobody was smiling.

I grabbed my casserole dish and

put the standard ingredients in–

Mac and cheese and hotdogs,

plastic forks.

Last week, across the street

the trucks left and the children were

still on the porch.

A white car pulled up

The driver walked to the porch but

he looked around the neighborhood–


The children were quiet

They moved out of the way.

Last week, across the street,

I saw him leave.

He lit a cigarette then

walked slowly to the car.

I took over the casserole.

The children kept playing quietly

I rang the bell.

Last week, across the street

She answered

with tears in her eyes and

a fresh bruise on her face.

She asked if I had a first aid kit.

I left the casserole and went home.

Last week, across the street

I took in the bandages and ice

And applied them to the unrecognizable face

of her husband.

His picture was in a box

He was a policeman.

Where are you going?

When you’re in the car with us and you ask, “Where are we going?” whoever’s driving points out the windshield and says “That-a-way!” It gives immediate direction but doesn’t tell you how fast or what the ultimate destination is. Not Helpful, but it’s technically correct. If you are in the car and not driving, will the ultimate destination be something over which you have control? Will the speed and the options for the quickest route, the one with the least traffic lights, the one with the least traffic, the scenic route, the one where you don’t get lost or anything else about the actual travel be anything you can influence? Maybe, if you whine loud enough. Most likely, however, you, as just a passenger on this madcap adventure, have no part in any of the decisions.

For the sake of perspective, let’s say we all get together to discuss traveling to a State Park for a weekend. You and your friends decide on the weekend and one of you gets assigned the task of reserving a spot for you all to stay. Some of your friends have tents, some have campers, some want to rent a cabin. You can’t agree so you all pick a landmark to meet together at a specific time. You, intrepid leader, LOVE this park and you want to get there early and stay in the park, but your son decides he doesn’t want to get up that early and opts to ride with his best friend who’s leaving after work that day. You don’t believe that’s a good idea because you know what his friend’s car is like and do not trust it or the driver to get to the right place in a reasonable time. Your son argues that he’s perfectly capable of handling anything that comes up and is familiar with all the ins and outs of getting to this park as he’s traveled with you on numerous occasions. Finally, you agree.

You arrive at the campsite and set up and have a wonderful lunch. You fly kites and think, “My son would love this! But he’s not here.” You go on a short hike and take pictures of the beautiful views, and note, “My son would be telling me where to stand to get the best framing.” You get back to camp and start supper. “My son would be recalling all the crazy adventures we had trying to cook on some of our other trips.” At the appointed time you go to the meeting place. You wait, and you get a phone call from one of your friends. “We decided to stay in the motel tonight and were so tired we took a nap and can’t get there for another hour.” The wife gets an IM from her friend, “We couldn’t fit all the stuff in the car and had to rent a trailer and it took us three hours to get all the paperwork done and the thing packed. We should be pulling in some time in the morning.” Nothing from the son. You wait another hour, and none of the rest of your group shows up, so you call them and text them and IM them. One rings and rings and informs you that their voice mail is full. Another replies, “Was that this week?” Another just doesn’t answer the message. So, disappointed, you go back to your campsite. Still nothing from your son.

You inform all the people on your current list, the one that includes all the people who say they are still coming and even your son whom you assume is coming that you will meet at the big dining hall at the welcome center for breakfast. The next morning, you go to the dining hall, and you reserve a table for 10 and sit and wait. After an hour’s worth of waiting and 3 cups of coffee, you decide to order anyway. You finish your breakfast and still no one shows up. You contact them all again. The one in the motel decided to have the continental breakfast since it was free, and were unable to find the campsite so they went back to the motel. The one with the trailer pulled in to discover that there wasn’t a reservation in your name or theirs. They had traveled to a different RV park with a similar name. You tell them it was a State Park, not an RV park, and they’re mad and frustrated and decide not to waste any more time on this and head home. Still nothing from the son.

You go to see the bow and arrow demonstration. Then you go horseback riding, and then head to the main event with the old-time melodrama followed by fireworks. Still nothing from the son. The next morning, you enjoy watching the sunrise, have a great breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs and coffee, clean up, and leave the park with fond memories and some amazing pictures.

You get home and there’s your son. He’s lying on the couch, his arm in a sling, bandages around his legs and face all swollen up.

He got to his friend’s house and nothing was packed, but he didn’t know that. He threw his go-bag into the back of the car and they headed off. “I had never traveled to this park in the dark, so none of the landmarks looked the same. He didn’t have a map, and the gps kept sending us down unpaved roads that bounced the signal around. At one point we were near the town, and it bounced to fifteen miles on the other side of the river and kept telling us to return to the route. We turned down a gravel road that turned into a rock road, that turned into a suggestion of a road and ended up axel-high in mud. We had to go to the farm house and have the farmer pull us out with his tractor. I wrenched my shoulder when we were trying to get the car out. We got back onto a paved road but had no idea where we were and started to argue. He confessed that he didn’t care if he met up with his parents and didn’t want to go on the trip in the first place. I said I’d promised you I’d be here and he kicked me out of the car!!!! About then is when I noticed that my phone was out of charge. I headed off to where I thought I’d last seen the town.

“I was hungry so I got some stuff out of my pack to snack on and sat down on the edge of the road. I ate some and since I was exhausted from trying to move the car and walking, just fell asleep next to the tree. I was awakened in the middle of the night to hear these weird sounds. Raccoons had gotten into my snacks. I wasn’t thinking straight and I tried to grab them away and the raccoons were not happy and wanted to bite and scratch me. I didn’t know they could run that fast. They tore my legs up some, but not as bad as the raspberry bushes I crashed into. I fashioned a sling for my arm as the shoulder was really hurting then, and then grabbed the ace bandages and wrapped up my legs. Does blood come out? I got to the town about 4 in the morning, and found a motel. As I looked like some sort of hobo, he didn’t want to rent a room to me. I reached for my credit card to pay for the room and realized my friend had used it to fill up his car and STILL HAD IT. I had $12 in my wallet. The guy sent me to the police station to see if they could help me get my card back–meaning, they’re not going to do anything to help you or let you sleep in the lobby!

“I went down to the police station, and they didn’t believe the credit card story. They sent me to the homeless shelter. I had to fill out all sorts of paperwork and they wanted to know if I was abused and did they need to send CPS over. That unknown number that called you about 6 this morning was them and they didn’t even leave a message. I got a few hours of sleep, but I didn’t want anyone to touch my wounds as I wasn’t sure they had any medical training at all. There was no place to charge my phone. I borrowed one and called my friend, Bobby to come and pick me up, and he came for me about noon. We went to the city park for lunch, and he discovered, you guessed it, a bee hive. It was in the slippery slide and he decided it wasn’t safe for little kids and he was going to knock it down. No amount of screaming on my part made him change his mind, and then suddenly both of us were screaming. The cops came and recognized me and told me in no uncertain terms to get the heck out of their town as I was a trouble maker. Bobby dropped me off here and went to his doctor for the bee stings he got on his arms, torso, and face. Can you take me to the doctor?”

We all have free will. Had the son gone with his you, his family, he would have enjoyed some wonderful experiences. But even though his plans were to go to the same location, his means of transportation was not reliable. The timing was off causing him to travel this well-known route in the dark. His friend wasn’t motivated to go and had not made any preparations. The difference in the perspective caused the boys to argue and may have ruined the friendship. All these unpleasant experiences were associated with a destination that the son had previously thought was a fun place to go. None of the things he was expecting came to fruition. The joy he sought was time without stress with his friend, and he got time with a lot of stress instead. He thought separation from his parents would give him more autonomy and yet he was subjected to the same powerlessness because his friend was driving. His friend, being young and inexperienced, did not know how to prepare, how to plan, how to set a goal and reach it. He was expecting his friend to be as knowledgeable and calm and cool under pressure as you.

When we go our own way, and it’s not God’s way, we may get to the same destination, but not in the same shape.

Don’t let her hear you…

I’m assuming it’s a she. I’m not sure. I think Friction is a She because she has an evil, vengeful sense of humor. I’m going to call her Frieda Friction. Later today, March 6, 2021, I will be giving a humorous speech detailing her dealings with humanity. I don’t think she wants you to know.

There may be scientists that will dispute my findings, but ask them about the coefficient of friction. You cannot figure that out when you have both hands full of things that will break if you drop them. (And you will drop them.)

She IS Flighty and Fractious. A Fiendish Fraud. Without a doubt she has a Foul Effluvia of Falsehood at her fingertips. Her intimations display a Freudian Figment of Feverish and Fervent Foolishness. If you depend on Friction to act a certain way and it is to your advantage that she works this way, She will always do the complete opposite! Since sitting down in my chair to write this, it has gotten inches lower, even though it is locked. It depends on friction to hold its position. My pen has spontaneously rolled off my desk twice. I guess that could be Newtonian fiction, but that is another blog and I don’t need Newton and Frieda ganging up on me today. I walked by a cabinet that I have successfully navigated for over a year, but this time my sweater caught on something and my background fell down. I pulled out the leftover roast I made yesterday, and it slipped through my hands as if I had no friction ridges.

“PHA!” I say. I will give this speech regardless of the mounting resistance by things unseen and misunderstood for a millennia. I will take the abuse and rant and rave ineffectually until my message is spread worldwide. If you don’t hear from me for a while, assume they’ve taken me to a safe place with birdsong and lots of padding.