Monday, October 14, 2019

Hasenpfeffer Incorporated

This post serves as a sort of filler to keep you occupied while I am trying to think of what to blog about next.

For your edification and reading enjoyment, here is your very own link to a fascinating article from the website mentalfloss.com entitled "Thirty-Eight Wonderful Words With No Equivalent In English".

If you watched Laverne and Shirley in decades past, you will understand the title of this post when you finish reading the article.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I thought of a fifth adjective

...to go with terrifying, horrifying, shocking, and devastating (my personal list of turn-off “click bait” in internet headlines).

That word is -- drum roll, please -- heartbreaking.

Moving right along, Mrs. RWP received a mystery bouquet this week. It wasn't from me. Here are sides A, B, and C:


























So now you know that in addition to every argument having two sides, every bouquet has three. That's not really true. I just wanted you to see the flowers from different angles to get the full effect.

The bouquet contained some wonderfully fragrant lavender flowers that I didn't recognize, so I called the florist's shop to find out what they were. "Stock," the woman who answered the phone said, after checking with the floral designer. I had never heard of stock before, but I have led a sheltered life.

I suppose that statement alone makes this post truly shocking!

It turned out that the vase of beautiful flowers was sent by our son-in-law in Alabama, just because he was thinking about Mrs. RWP. His timing could not have been more perfect to lift her spirits. The bouquet arrived the day before the anniversary of the burial of our niece, Mrs. RWP's brother's daughter, who died suddenly of heart failure last year at 53 in North Carolina. Our Alabama son-in-law had no way of knowing that, so it made his thoughtfulness extra special.

Here is a photo of our daughter and her husband at last Saturday's football game at their alma mater, Jacksonville State University, where this year both of their sons play in the marching band show at half-time.


After 26 years of marriage, our daughter and son-in-law are still apparently very happy. If they are not, they are hiding it very well.

My daughter looks so much like my mother that it is almost scary. It is not terrifying, horrifying, shocking, devastating, or heartbreaking, but it is definitely scary.

Until next time, I remain
Yr faithful correspondent,
rhymeswithplague

P.S. -- Because it rained last Saturday, the band marched without their plumed hats. My two grandsons are plainly visible in the two photos below, one in each photo.



Friday, October 4, 2019

And another thing....

I get really tired of seeing what are supposed to be news articles on the internet that include the words terrifying, horrifying, shocking, or devastating in the headline. Just report the facts and eliminate the click-bait. We, the readers, will decide whether we are terrified, horrified, shocked, or devastated.

This is my 1,777th post, the second post in my thirteenth year of blogging. I hope to have many more posts and many more years of blogging. It would also please me no end to have more readers.

But even if that never happens, I am completely satisfied with us -- we few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters. Shakespeare didn't say "and sisters" but Shakespeare was stuck back there in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and I am an enlightened 21st-century person.

Besides, and I haven't told you this previously, my middle name is Henry, so I have no compunction whatever about mangling some lines from Henry V.

As my mother used to say, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

She was always saying things like that. She was a regular Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.

She would say, "Faint heart ne'er won fair maid."

She would say, "Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."

She would say, "A soft answer turneth away wrath."

She would say, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

It was very educational and even inspirational growing up around my mother.

My dad, on the other hand, would say, "Wish in one hand and spit in the other, and see what you get the most of." Sometimes he didn't say "spit" but the word he used rhymed with "spit".

How did I get on this subject? Oh, yes, thinking about how nice it would be to have more readers.

Today is also the 62nd anniversary of my mother's death, which probably explains why I am thinking about her.

I shall now bring this post to a close and hope that you won't be terrified, horrified, shocked, or devastated by it, although you may choose to be if you so desire.

See you next time, which will be my 1,778th post, the third post in my thirteenth year of blogging.

Until then, spread the word. If you spread it, they will come.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

This post is revolutionary.

I mentioned at the end of my last post that my next post would be revolutionary, and it is. It says so right there in the title. To learn why, continue reading.

What I am about to tell you is not what makes this post revolutionary, though. What I am about to tell you merely documents a recently-acquired pet peeve of mine to go along with all the other pet peeves I already have.

I don't know if it happens in England or Australia, but more and more Americans are confusing the words where and were in their writing. I roll my eyes, I clench my teeth, my jaws tighten every time I encounter it, but to date my actions have had absolutely no effect on my fellow countrymen (and women).

It shouldn’t be that difficult, people.

As every speaker of English should know, “were” is the past tense of the verb "to be". Surely you remember conjugating verbs:

I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, you are, they are show the present tense of the verb "to be" in first person singular, second person singular, third person singular, first person plural, second person plural, and third person plural, respectively.

I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, you were, they were show the past tense.

I shall be, you will be, he/she/it will be, we shall be, you will be, they will be show the future tense.

Some people no longer differentiate between shall and will, but we oldtimers who were taught well still do.

I could also speak, if time permitted, of the present perfect (I have been, you have been, etc.) and the past perfect (I had been, you had been, etc.) and even the future perfect (I shall have been, you will have been, etc.), but it does not.

Time is precious.

As I was saying, more and more Americans write sentences like “We where late to the festivities” and “I don’t know were I left my car keys.“ I see sentences like these quite frequently.

I’m not kidding.

There are two reasons, in my opinion. First of all, in old western movies, people with frontier accents were always saying things like “Whur did y’all git them there horses?” A lot of people in America still talk like that, except today they say things like “Whur did y’all git that there iPhone 10?”

So the word where has been mispronounced on this side of the pond for a very long time.

And second of all, people also drop the H sound from the WH combination so that the words where and were have become American homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently) when they are not. For the record, I was taught back in antediluvian times to pronounce WH words as though they were spelled HW (hwat, hwere, hwich, hwen, hwy, hwether, and so forth) because they originally began with “hw” in Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon.

I use the HW sound in all the words mentioned previously, but I have never used it in who, whom, or whose. I don’t know why. I just don’t. I say hoo, hoom, and hooz. I don’t spell them that way but I do say them that way. It’s quite inconsistent of me, I know. But I have heard a woman on television say “to hwom” on more than one occasion. I could tell you her name but I won’t.

As I said at the beginning, absolutely none of any of that makes this post revolutionary.

Here’s what makes this post revolutionary.

It’s my 1776th post.

What could be more revolutionary than that?

(Declaration of Independence, a 12-by-18-foot (3.7 by 5.5 m) oil-on-canvas painting created by John Trumbull in 1819, hangs in the U.S. Capitol rotunda and depicts activities that occurred in Philadelphia in July 1776.)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A short post is still a post

Here's my find of the day and perhaps of the month.

The three hardest things to say:
1. I’m sorry
2. I need help
3. Worcestershire Sauce

P.S. -- Happy 12th blogging anniversary to me.

P.P.S. -- My next post will be revolutionary.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Let's clear the air (spoiler: this post is about impeachment)

...and let's begin by saying, "No, Virginia, there is probably not a Hyman F. Suddfluffel, PhD."

If you're scratching your head and muttering "Huh?" under your breath, read on.

The following appeared on my Facebook page today. I had not encountered it before.

LET THEM GO AHEAD AND IMPEACH TRUMP.... HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS THEN......
By: Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD, (Political Science)

I have a degree in Political Science, and I am a card-carrying Libertarian. I've been studying politics and political history for the past 30 years. My specialty is U.S. Presidents. That said, I hope that the House of Representatives impeaches Trump. Let me tell you what will happen next!

1. The House can pass articles of impeachment over the objections of the Republicans, and refer to the Senate for trial.

2. The Senate will conduct a trial. There will be a vote, and the Republicans will vote unanimously, along with a small number of Democrats, to not convict the President. Legally, it will all be over at that point.

3. However, during the trial, and this is what no one is thinking about right now, the President's attorneys will have the right to subpoena and question ANYONE THEY WANT.. That is different than the special counsel investigation, which was very one-sided. So, during the impeachment trial, we will be hearing testimony from James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Donna Brazile, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, and a whole host of other participants in this whole sordid affair and the ensuing cover up activities. A lot of dirt will be dug up; a lot of truth will be unveiled. Finger pointing will occur. Deals will start being made, and suddenly, a lot of democrats will start being charged and going to prison. All this, because, remember, the President's team will now, for the first time, have the RIGHT to question all of these people under oath – and they will turn on each other. That is already starting.

4. Lastly, one more thing will happen, the Senate will not convict the President. Nothing will happen to Trump. Most Americans are clueless about political processes, the law, and the Constitution. Most Americans believe that being impeached results in removal from office. They don't understand that phase 2 is a trial in and by the Senate, where he has zero chance of conviction. Remember, the Senate is controlled by Republicans; they will determine what testimony is allowed -- and **everything** will be allowed, including: DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the election in favor of Hillary, the creation of the Trump dossier, the cover up and destruction of emails that very likely included incriminating information. They will incriminate each other for lying to the FISA court, for spying and wiretapping the Trump campaign, and for colluding with foreign political actors, especially George Soros. After the Senate declines to convict the President, we will have an election, and Trump will win. It will be a backlash against democrat petulance, temper tantrums, hypocrisy and dishonesty. Even minorities will vote for Trump, because, for the first time, they will see that democrats have spent 2+ years focused on maintaining their own power, and not doing anything at all about black murders in Chicago, homelessness, opioids, and other important issues that are actually killing people. And, we will spend the following four years listening to politicians and pundits claim that the whole impeachment was rigged.

So let's move on to impeachment.

Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD


I immediately did a DuckDuckGo search (I no longer use Google) on the name Hyram F. Suddfluffel, as it sounded made up, like Jubilation T. Cornpone.

Lots of hits came up, the most interesting of which is a long article at heavy.com called "Hyram F. Suddfluffel: The Origin & What’s True about the Viral Impeachment Post". I recommend that you read it before continuing.

There are several most important things to remember.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not important whether Hyman F. Suddfluffel exists. Come on, people. Noms de plume have been all the rage in writing circles for a very long time. I mean, Mark Twain was not his real name, you know. George Eliot (remember Silas Marner?) was really Mary Anne Evans. George Orwell was really Eric Arthur Blair. I could go on, but you get my point.

The most important thing to remember is whether the information in what heavy.com calls "the Viral Impeachment Post" is true.

Some of it is, and some of it isn't.

The most important thing to remember is that impeachment in the House of Representatives does not mean removal from office. A conviction in the Senate would mean that.

The most important thing to remember is that removal from office would not mean that Hillary Clinton becomes president. Vice-president Mike Pence would become president.

And the last most important thing to remember is this:

Take a deep breath and keep breathing.

But perhaps the most important most important thing to remember: Switch from Google to DuckDuckGo.

Monday, September 23, 2019

As the world turns, these are the days of our lives

...but we are definitely not the young and the restless. This week, a few days before the autumnal equinox, our firstborn turned 55.

We are old.

But you knew that.

A couple of days later one of our smoke alarms started chirping. I hauled our five-foot ladder out of its comfy place in the garage and brought it into the front hallway. I knew the smoke alarm needed a new 9-volt battery and I thought I had one in the kitchen drawer where we keep miscellaneous things. Rummaging through the drawer, I found a cheese grater, clear plastic salad tongs (the tongs are clear plastic, not the salads), wooden skewers for cooking, two screwdrivers, a hammer, a yellow plastic funnel, a package of Disposable Latex Gloves, and (voila!) some batteries -- AA batteries, AAA batteries, C batteries, D batteries, and finally a 9-volt battery. I returned to the front hall with my prize.

After ascending the ladder -- Mrs. RWP was afraid I would fall off -- and removing the contraption from its ceiling bracket, I realized that I had no idea what to do next. It was still attached by wires to the ceiling and I didn't know how to disengage the wires. I also couldn't see from my angle how to open the contraption and replace the battery. I decided to call my second child who lives about 20 minutes away.

He said he would come over and take care of it, and he did. I tried to watch closely enough to be able to do it myself in the future. He had bought a 9-volt battery on the way over, which was a good thing because the one I had found in the miscellaneous drawer was a tad out of date.































More than a tad, actually.































I am not, repeat, not a hoarder. If I were a hoarder, we would have drawers and drawers full of miscellaneous stuff instead of just one, and the rooms would be impassable for all the clutter, and the sink would be piled high with dirty dishes. I have watched television. I know.

So life goes on and the world keeps turning.

Thanks be to God.

In five more days this blog will be 12 years old. Next year we might have a bar mitzvah.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A musical foray (see what I did there?)

One of my all-time favorite pieces of music is the hauntingly beautiful Sicilenne Op.78 by the French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924).

In the-online-reference-source-that-must-not-be-named I learned that there have been many different arrangements of the piece for various instruments. Specifically, "[T]he cello and piano and full orchestral versions of the Sicilienne have been recorded many times. There are also recordings of arrangements, not by Fauré, for bassoon and piano; cello and guitar; cello and harp; flute and guitar; flute and harp; flute and piano; guitar and orchestra; solo guitar; solo harp; oboe and piano; panpipes and piano; saxophone and orchestra; saxophone quartet; tuba and piano; viola and piano; vocal ensemble; and voice and harp."

Also, oddly, "[T]he cello and piano version is in G minor in 6/8 time. It is marked andantino with a metronome mark of dotted crotchet = 50. The full orchestral version, also G minor, is marked allegretto molto moderato. The playing time of the piece is typically between three and a half and four minutes."

For the musical novice, andantino means kind of slow, but not too slow, and allegretto means kind of fast, but not too fast.

All righty, then. Let us coninue.

I would like for you to listen to just three of the various arrangements and tell me your reactions afterward.

1. Here is a beautiful arrangement of it for orchestra and flute featuring James Galway on flute (3:59).

2. Here is an arrangement of it for flute and harp. Although it is beautiful to listen to, it was difficult for me to watch because of what can only be described as the helicopter movements of the flute player. From 2013, here are Olga Zmanovskaya on flute and Elizaveta Bushueva on harp (3:43).

3. I find this one most moving, but then I like the instruments involved. It is for cello and piano (3:54).

I bet you thought we were through.

I lied.

4. For blog readers who are more visual than aural, here is a fourth clip I want you to watch. It is like looking at a piano roll on an old-time player piano (4:18). I hope you like it.

Now we're done.

At least I didn't subject you to the tuba.

Be sure to give me your opinions in the comments.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What's wrong with this picture?


"Nothing," you may be tempted to say.

You would be wrong.

On Saturday afternoon, as we (Mrs. RWP and I) were sitting in our house watching television, we heard an odd sound.

"What was that?" said Mrs. RWP.

"Oh, I bet the wind has picked up the patio umbrella again," I answered. We occasionally find it in our back yard after a particularly stiff breeze has blown through. The problem, I think, is with its base, which is filled with sand and into which one is supposed to stick the umbrella. Ours is cantankerous and often spits the umbrella out with the help of the wind.

I got up to look and, sure enough, the umbrella was missing.

First I looked to the right.


Then I looked to the left.


Then I looked even further to the left.


No umbrella in sight. Where could it have gone? It must have blown around the corner of the house, farther away than it has ever blown before. I decided to go find it and bring it back after a good talking-to.

I took a few steps off the patio and this is what I saw:































I was shocked. How did it get up there? I viewed it from another angle:































I am 78 years old. I don't do roofs any more. Even if I did, the longest ladder I have is only eight feet long. Besides, if I tried, I would never hear the end of it from Mrs. RWP.

What to do? Mrs. RWP wanted to call our son or grandson to come from 12 miles away and get it down.

I rejected this idea as being too time-consuming.

In just a couple of minutes, while we were wondering how to proceed, another gust of wind returned the intrepid explorer to the ground. I retrieved it and put it back where it belongs but forgot to take a final photograph. Here's one from a while back:


I have decided to give our patio umbrella a name since it has proved itself to be almost human. I can't decide between Griselda and Magellan. I am unsure of its gender, so Francis/Frances Drake is a possibility.

I'm just glad the pole didn't go through one of our windows.

While the view from the roof of the Rhymeswithplagues of Canton, Georgia, USA is unimpressive, nothing to write home about, the view from the roof where the Yorkshire Puddings of Sheffield, England, UK are currently vacationing in Orebic, Croatia looks like this.

Today I thought I heard Griselda/Magellan quoting the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu (604 BCE - 531 BCE) to one of the patio chairs, and what he or she said was, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Watch out, Croatia. Keep your eyes peeled for an unexpected visitor.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

When dangling, watch your participles

I, the great Rhymeswithplague, Lord Protector Of My Little Corner Of The World And Master (Usually) Of All I Survey, have a confession to make.

While reading through the previous post this morning, I discovered that I had created and actually published a sentence containing a dangling participle.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

The offending sentence was this:

"After sailing through the Panama Canal a couple of times on his way to places like Oregon and southern California and Florida and the icy waters off the coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy happened to be Quonset Point, Rhode Island."

That is simply impossible. My dad's last duty assignment in the Navy, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, never sailed through the Panama Canal even once, let alone visit Oregon, southern California, Florida, or the icy waters off the coast of Greenland.

Do you see the difference? My dad did those things, not his last duty assignment in the Navy, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, but since the subject of the sentence was the latter, that's what the participial phrase at the beginning is modifying.

Here are some ways I could have written the sentence better:

  • After sailing through ...icy waters off the coast of Greenland, the man made his way to his last duty assignment in the Navy Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
  • After the man sailed through the Panamal Canal a couple of times...coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy ....
  • After sailing through the Panama Canal to ...the coast of Greenland, he was assigned to....

At least he was the one doing the sailing in those versions, which is only fitting and proper.

On a website called softschools.com, I found these amusing examples of dangling participles:

1) Speeding through the tunnel, the station came into view. (the station was not speeding through the tunnel, a person was, on a train presumably.)

2) Broken into pieces, I swept up the glass. (the person was not broken into pieces, the glass was.)

3) Forgetting all about class, the weather was perfect at the beach! (the weather did not forget all about class, the person who went to the beach did.)

4) Making my bed, the stuffed animals were on the floor. (the animals are not making the bed)

5) Petting his head, my dog enjoyed my company. (the dog is not petting his own head)

6) Wishing for a pony, the farm was a magical place for me. (the farm is not wishing for a pony)

7) Walking through the woods, the trees were magnificent. (the trees are not walking)

8) Freezing our hands off, the snow was fun to play in. (the snow is not freezing its hands off)

9) Reading quickly, the book was too exciting to put down. (the book is not reading quickly)

Nine examples are more than enough. It borders on overkill.

By now, dear reader, you know what is wrong with the title of this post (and if you don't, you haven’t been paying attention: it is not you who are dangling, it is your participles).

Which example of a dangling participle tickled your fancy the most?

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Eighty years ago today (unless it's already tomorrow where you live)

...the War To End All Wars To End All Wars began when a few people of the German persuasion entered Poland on September 1, 1939, without so much as a "by your leave".

That is your bit of history trivia for the day.

Eighty years ago tomorrow -- by which I mean September 2, 1939 -- was a date I thought for many years was an important one in my family's history, until I discovered that it wasn't.

Let me explain.

(Spoiler: This is going to be another post about my parents, all three of them.)

I thought September 2, 1939, was the day my parents got married. The truth is a bit more complicated.

As far as I know, my biological parents never married. They met in New York City where both of them had moved to find work, my mother from Pennsylvania and my father from Rhode Island. At some point after they met, I was conceived. At some point after I was conceived -- I'm not sure just when -- he returned to Rhode Island and she went there too. Whether they went together or she followed him there, I have no idea (I do not mean to sound like Yoda from Star Wars, speaking backwards and all, but it simply cannot be helped). I was born on March 18, 1941, but my biological father, hereafter known as "the sperm donor", was not present. I discovered by doing research many years later that on March 11, 1941, one week before my arrival, the sperm donor joined the United States Army and left Rhode Island and my mother's life forever. She stayed in the same city for several years, the city where his family lived, but I have no idea if there was any contact between them. Although she had earned a college degree that qualified her to teach in elementary school, my first recollection of where she worked was at a Coats & Clark Thread factory.

I do remember being about 3 and hearing, one time and one time only, one of my nursery school teachers call my mother “Mrs. M———-“; I believe my mother had assumed this title without benefit of clergy in an attempt at respectability in a day when the term “single mother” had not yet been coined and being one was held in low regard.

The man who raised me was living more than a thousand miles away in Iowa with a wife of his own. In December 1942 he joined the United States Navy and served until World War II ended in 1945. At some point during his term of service, his wife in Iowa divorced him. After sailing through the Panama Canal a couple of times on his way to places like Oregon and southern California and Florida and the icy waters off the coast of Greenland, his last duty assignment in the Navy happened to be Quonset Point, Rhode Island. At some point around 1945 a mutual friend introduced him to my mother and the rest is history. I must have been about 4 when they met but I have no memory of him then except for seeing him a few times wearing a white sailor suit.

As an adult I discovered through research that they were married on September 2, 1946, in Seekonk, Massachusetts. The only birth certificate I have ever had was issued about this time also, just before I began public school, when one would be needed. It shows Clifford Ray Brague as my father, which is impossible based on what I have shared with you in this post. I don’t think he adopted me officially, but I became Robert Brague that day.

After completing my first year of school, we moved from Rhode Island to Texas. As far as I or anyone else knew, they had been married since 1939. September 1940 would not have worked for public consumption because I was born, remember, in March 1941.

He told me one time “I gave you a name”.

I know they meant well and did everything for what they considered good reasons, but a line of Sir Walter Scott’s comes to mind:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

All the principals have been gone for a long time now. My mother died in 1957, my birth-certificate dad died in 1967. I discovered through further research that my biological dad/sperm donor died in 1977 in New Jersey. He married and had a family after the war. I have chosen not to contact them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I'm not saying it is and I'm not saying it isn't

...but the time for stopping this blog may be drawing near. One never knows. One just tries to go with the flow, and some days the flow is more like molasses (British: treacle) than spring water.

It's a long, long time from May to December, and the days grow short when you reach September.

So I've heard, and I partially believe it.

All three of my children are now over 50 years of age. My six grandchildren have all graduated from high school. Two of them have finished college and the other four are actively pursuing their degrees.

My new puppy is three already.

Time flies when you're having fun.

Ellie and I are working on Year 57 of The Rhymeswithplague Chronicles.

I have some very faithful readers whom I don't want to disappoint. Snowbrush in Oregon, Emma in Iowa, Pam in Washington State, for example. There are Kylie and Sue in Australia, Neil and Michelle in England, Adrian and Graham in Scotland. Red in Canada leaves an occasional comment, and so do Frances (England) and Kate (New Zealand). That nice lady in British Columbia used to, but she hasn't dropped by lately. Gary in England comments every once in a while. Elizabeth in England stays in touch via Facebook these days because the blogger gods continue to throw roadblocks in her path.

Not a huge crowd -- and there are others I'm forgetting, I'm sure -- but a faithful group who have enriched my life by hanging in there.

Not literally, of course. Figuratively.

Do send me a photo if you are hanging in there literally. I'd love to see it.

Some were here for a season but have vanished. Carol in Cairns. Carolina in Nederland. Daphne. Silverback. Helsie. Dr. John. Putz.

Some have shuffled off this mortal coil (to coin a phrase) and some have not shuffled off quite yet but neither have they checked in lately.

As Yul Brynner in the role of the King of Siam in The King and I so famously said, "Is...a puzzlement!"

Today I am waxing nostalgic and wondering what the future may hold.

I'm counting on the future being bright, at least for a while yet.

Stay tuned.

In closing, I want to say that I do understand that three, count 'em, three posts in a whole month do not a scintillating blog or a bestseller make.

If you think this is the most boring post you have read in a very long time, kindly keep it to yourself.

No, tell me. At least I'll know you're there.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Perspectives

Here are the words to the song "From A Distance" written in 1989 by Julie Gold:

From a distance the world looks blue and green
And the snow capped mountains white
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight

From a distance, there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace
It's the voice of every man

From a distance we all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed

From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace
They're the songs of every man

God is watching us, God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance

From a distance you look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting is for

From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves
It's the heart of every man

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves
This is the song of every man

And God is watching us, God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching
God is watching us from a distance

[end of song lyrics]

Listen to Bette Midler sing it here (4:33) if you like.

Take a breath.

Now read a poem I wrote a few years ago:

Table Grace With Musings Afterward
by Robert H. Brague


“God is great, God is good;
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands we all are fed.
Thank you, Lord for daily bread. Amen.”
Okay, everybody, dig in!

.....God is deaf, God is blind
.....To the ills of humankind;
.....While we struggle here below,
.....Seraphim fly to and fro before his throne
.....Crying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.
.....Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
.....Glory be to Thee, O Lord, Most High.”

.....Hogwash.

.....Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
.....Secula seculorum,
.....World without end,
.....Amen.


Please pass the butter.

.....And the angel said, “Hail, Mary, full of grace,
.....The Lord is with thee.”
.....(Closer than your next breath,
.....Nearer than a heartbeat.
.....With thee With thee WITH thee WITH thee...)


More coffee, anyone?

.....How is it
.....That a God so pure, so holy that He
.....Cannot look upon sin,
.....A God so high, so lifted up that His train alone
.....Filled an ancient temple,
.....Has turned from His headlong march in the opposite direction
.....And looked upon me?
..........(I believe in the Holy Spirit…)

.....How is it
.....That His single gaze pierced through
.....My carefully constructed armor?
..........(The holy catholic Church…)

.....And how, finally, is it
.....That His eyes, aflame like
.....Hot coals from an altar, yet filled with
.....Indescribable tenderness,
.....Can see everything and still, in the seeing,
......Forgive?
..........(The communion of saints…)


Cream and sugar?

.....It is not for us to know the times and seasons…
..........(The forgiveness of sins…)
...............Credo in unum Deum.

.....Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face…
..........(The resurrection of the body…)
...............Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine.

.....Then we shall know even as we are known.
..........(And the life everlasting.)
...............Deum Verum de Deo Vero.

,,,,,Neither do I condemn thee: Go and sin no more...
..........He knows. He loves. He forgives.
...............It is enough to know for the present.


Does anyone want dessert?

[end of poem]

Take another breath.

Julie Gold is not a theologian. Neither am I.

I’m fairly sure Bette Midler is not one either.

We are merely people with different perspectives.

What’s yours?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mind numbingly hot

Not here. Other places, if the telly is to be believed. Pennsylvania. England.

It's August already and my blogging output seems to be slowing once again. After finally showing you my Dad in the previous post after all these years (12) my brain needed a rest.

Isaac Newton was right. Objects at rest tend to remain at rest, and objects in motion tend to remain in motion.

So I decided to bestir myself and post something even though there is not much about which to post, truth be told.

Hiroshima Day came and went yesterday with not a mention on the telly of what happened in Japan 74 years ago. Go figure. Of course, we don't watch much news. We watch Animal Planet and The Game Show Network mostly. Oh, and lots of home renovation shows on HGTV. And programs about families with dwarfism or parents with sextuplets on something called The Learning Channel which includes programs on many bizarre subjects I would have preferred not to learn about.

One wouldn’t expect to hear about the dropping of atomic bombs on such channels, now would one?

One wouldn’t.

So I will just wander (not lonely as a cloud, mushroom-shaped or otherwise) and see what happens.

We are leaving on Friday to spend a few days in Alabamistan at our daughter's residence. It is not in the same place as when last we went, as daughter is now the principal of an elementary school about two hours away from the area where she and her family have lived for the last quarter-century. Since her youngest son graduated from high school in May and will be attending the same university as his older brother, the decision to move was easier. And although her husband (our son-in-law) will be having a longer commute to his same job from a different direction, he is all in. They lived somewhat north of Birmingham and he works in one of the city's southern suburbs. His commute was already 45 minutes; now it will be about 30 minutes longer but through much lighter traffic. In Atlanta that would be considered an improvement.

Our daughter is getting a significant increase in salary as a result of the promotion from assistant principal to principal. But it is not all about the Benjamins. For non-U.S. readers, Benjamin Franklin's image is on our hundred dollar bills. To call hundred-dollar bills Benjamins is an example of either synecdoche or metonymy. I can never remember which and I don't feel like looking it up just now.

Maybe you could and let me know.

The general malaise, otherwise known as The Dog Days thanks to the positioning of the star Sirius in the night sky, continues.

Many things have been happening in the news of late, but I don't want to think about them.

I want to think about how much more pleasant an afternoon at the beach would be if only the sea weren't so salty.

Do you think my mind is going?

Vote YES or NO in the comments, and state your reasons for thinking so.

Out in Plano, Texas, where my stepbrother and his wife live, it will be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day this week.

Now that is truly mind numbingly hot. But it's a dry heat, of course.

Everybody says so.

For the record, I am voting YES.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

And God planted a tree in the midst of the garden

I don't mean in the Garden of Eden. I mean on the hill behind our house. This crape myrtle tree (or crepe myrtle tree, if you prefer) suddenly grew this year where one never had grown before.


Whether a seed was carried by the wind or dropped by a passing bird I have no idea. I only know we had no pink blossoms there before and now we do. It's a small miracle, an unexpected gift, and we are grateful.


For some reason I cannot fathom, the sudden appearance of the new crape/crepe myrtle put me to thinking about my Dad’s family. You remember my Dad -- I blogged about him earlier this month. When this photo of him was taken back in 1963 he was 57 years old:































That photo is cropped from a larger picture that was made on the day Mrs. RWP (okay, Ellie) and I were married. Here's proof:


Ellie's parents are on the left. On the right are my Dad and his third wife Mildred, my stepmother. My mother had died five years earlier.

Here he is at the right of another photo that was made in the mid-1930s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On the left are Dad's parents, Elmer and Edith Brague. The young man behind them is either Dad's oldest brother Art or his brother Leo. The woman at Dad's side is his first wife, Hildred (with an H, not an M), a woman I didn't know existed until I was an adult. My mother, Ruth, was Dad's second wife, in-between Hildred and Mildred. Ted Brague was not my biological father but he was the only one I ever knew.































Dad was the youngest of five brothers -- Art, John, Leo, Dan, and my dad Clifford Ray, known as both Ray and Ted but never as Clifford. Go figure. Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.

Here is Uncle Art's family in the mid to late 1940s. He is with his wife Anna and daughters Shirley, Peggy, Isobel, Barbara, and Sandra. The oldest child, a son, Dick, was already married by this time.


Uncle Dan died of a brain tumor at age 32. In the photograph below are Uncle Leo, Grandpa Elmer, and Uncle Dan's widow, Leila, with Dan's children Evelyn and Donald. Leila later married again and the children became Routsons instead of Bragues.































Here is Uncle John with his family -- wife Martha on the left, and daughters Elaine, little Daveen, and Trudy (really Gertrude). On the right in the traditional Ted Brague spot is Grandpa Elmer. This photo is probably from around 1938-1940 after Grandma Edith (also called Lillian) had passed away.




















Here's another picture of Uncle John's girls with their mother. By the time I met Uncle John in 1962, Martha had been long since divorced and he was married to Gladys.































Here's another photo of Uncle Dan's family (Leila, Evelyn, and Donald).































And this post happened all because of this:



P.S. -- In the fall of 1966, three years after the wedding photo was made, my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died five months later on March 3, 1967, a couple of months before his 61st birthday. At the time of his death he weighed about 90 pounds.

P.P.S. -- It occurs to me that perhaps I have been like a tree planted in the midst of the Brague garden. Or not. I must think on this further.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Could it be? (Dear FBI/CIA, this is what is called political satire)

Exhibit A, U.S. President Donald Trump:


Exhibit B, U.K. Prime Minister-designate Boris Johnson:


Exhibit C, 1960 horror film Village of the Damned:


Your reaction:

A. Suspicions confirmed.
B. Worst fears realized (U.S.)
C. Worst fears realised (U.K.)
D. We may be on to something.
E. They may be on something.
F. Separated at birth.
G The end is near.
H. All of the above.

My prediction: We will all go to H.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I learned a new word this week

siniristilippu

SINIRISTILIPPU

Without googling it or looking it up in an authoritative reference source, give us a guess as to what you think siniristilippu means.

I'll give you a hint. It has something to do with Finland.

Is it A, the Finnish flag?


Is it B, this Finnish favourite, a delicious split pea soup?


Or is it C, this charming Finnish folk dance (3:09)?

Go to the comments section and state your choice, along with your reason for choosing it, now. Then come back and read the rest of the post.

I have met two people from Finland in real life, and a third person whom I knew only through cyberspace.

The first was my French teacher at university, Mme. Deschner. She was from Helsinki and had studied French in Switzerland. She was a lovely woman whose accent when speaking English was quite charming. To me she sounded like Ingrid Bergman. I was sure that when I spoke French it would be with a Finnish-Swiss accent. At the end of the semester Mme. Deschner told me I sounded Parisian, quite cosmopolitan. I wonder why.

The second is a man in our church, Wayne Rasku, who moved to Georgia from Pompano Beach, Florida. Turns out we know some of the same people.

The third, my cyberspace-only friend, was Dr. John Linna, a Lutheran pastor from Neenah, Wisconsin, who died several years ago. His blog was charming (there’s that word again) because it contained not only talking dragons but also a whole village in his basement. Dr. John wove wonderful tales and I miss him.

Now to reveal the answer to our little quiz. It will be obvious when I tell you that in Finnish sini means blue, risti means cross, and lippu means flag.

Blue Cross Flag.

The answer is A.

Siniristilippu!

For your information, the split pea soup is called hernekeitto and the dance is called rihmarulla.

Now we are completely Finnished, er, finished.

Friday, July 12, 2019

I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy

Not me. I'm referring to George M. Cohan, a vaudevillian from long ago who was born on the Fourth of July (2:38).

In much of the world, Yankee means American. In the American south (the former Confederacy), however, Yankee means anyone from up north.

This post is going to be an unflattering but realistic and possibly even affectionate portrait of my father.

In the small town in Texas where we moved when I was a child, my father was called Yankee by many people. Some of them didn't even know his real name. It was a nickname that stuck. He talked funny -- different from them -- because he had grown up in Wisconsin and Iowa. He didn't say "yes, ma'am" like everybody else, he said "yes, mom". That alone was enough to raise eyebrows. He said crick instead of creek and ruf instead of roof. He had lots of non-Southern phrases such as "quick, like a bunny" and "in two shakes of a lamb's tail".

The thing he said that I remember most is "Don't cry or I'll give you something to cry about."

Billy Ray Barnwell (not Sheriff Billy Ray Barnwell, a role played by actor Muse Watson in the film Morgan's Ferry, but someone I made up who rents space inside my head the way Donald Trump does with the mainstream media, and vice versa) included a long passage about my father in Chapter 2 of his book/blog Billy Ray Barnwell Here because my dad is, in a manner of speaking, his dad too. Billy Ray is known for his long, rambling paragraphs and unusual punctuation. If you have seen it before, it simply can't be helped. You're about to see it again.

Here it is:

Chapter 2

Billy Ray Barnwell here, in one of these little chapters or vignettes or whatever they are I absolutely positively must get started on a poem or essay or something really literary, boy it sure is hard being an author, there are so many possibilities to choose from that some days I can’t focus at all, maybe I could find me a pill I could take for that, but I sure wouldn’t want to become dependent on drugs like Udella Mabry’s cousin Virgil Abernathy did, that was a really sad case, but after he finished doing his time he went to school and became the town pharmacist, so all’s well that ends well, to coin a phrase. I do know this is not going to be a novel because if I were going to write me a novel the characters would already be saying things like “It don’t make me no never mind” and “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” things I would never say in real life. I wish I could think of something interesting to write about today, nothing ever happens in this one-horse town, I will just keep pouring the words onto the paper and maybe something good will come of it, I have faith in the process. Mr. Morris said the only way to become a writer is to write, I don’t know why it took me so long to actually do it, Udella said the other day just think this is how Ernest Hemingway got started and I said I like William Faulkner better, then Udella’s buddy Juanita chimed in and said she didn’t care for Faulkner and I asked her why not and she scrunched up her face for a minute like she was trying to decide why herself and finally she said “too many words” well let me tell you I was flabbergasted, it was just like that scene in that Amadeus movie where the Italian composers tell the king or duke or whatever he is that Mozart’s music has too many notes, well in my opinion we should all have too many notes like Mozart or too many words like Faulkner, even though he did tend to use words like “scrofulous” and “phylacteries” and “lugubrious” and “mendaciously,” Faulkner I mean, not Mozart, which always sent me scurrying to the dictionary, wait a minute, hold the fort, that isn’t Faulkner I’m thinking of, that’s Thomas Wolfe, talk about a man who used too many words, O by the lost and wind-grieved ghost come back again my eye, why couldn’t he just write about simple things, a stone, a leaf, a door, that’s a joke for all you literary types, I’m sure it will bring great guffaws in English departments at universities all across this wonderful land of ours, and for those of you who don’t get the joke, I don’t want to ruin your concentration by explaining it, the joke I mean, not your concentration.

I wouldn’t want to think the well is running dry or anything, but all I can think to tell you about right now are things my father used to say, such as using a condom is like wearing socks to take a shower, or when you eat beans if you also eat macaroni you will get a pipe organ effect, or the ever popular pull my finger, he was a real delight to know, I didn’t think so then and I don’t think so now, in fact I prayed many times for him to be gone and now that he is I miss him more than I like to admit, damn was his favorite adjective and hell was his favorite noun, he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes like they were going out of style and between him and Mama the ashtrays at our house were always full and the air was always blue with smoke, and in spite of all of that or maybe because of it he started teaching the men’s Sunday School class at the Methodist church, you couldn’t make this stuff up, truth is stranger than fiction, I guess I should cut him some slack, he was a good man trying to do his best, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War as a machinist’s mate, whatever that is, on a ship called the PCE869, which PCE stands for Patrol Craft Escort, I know because he talked about the Navy every single day of his life and it is emblazoned in my brain along with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the Panama Canal Zone that has towns named Cristobal and Colón and when you say Colón it is not like the part of your body that is somewhere between your stomach and your anal sphincter, it is like the cologne that a man might want to splash on various parts of his body before going out on a big date so that if a person got close enough to smell him that person would end up smelling the cologne and not the body parts, oh by the way Cristobal Colón means Christopher Columbus in Spanish, he drove me absolutely bonkers, my father I mean, not Christopher Columbus, but he did have what every man wants and what every woman dreams about, Udella please tell Juanita she can stop laughing, I’m talking about a weekly paycheck, he was a good provider, for nearly twenty years he worked at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft which changed its name to Convair and then changed it again to General Dynamics Corporation, he was a turret lathe and milling machine operator, he helped build the wing assemblies of the B-36, B-58, and F-111 airplanes with guys named Jim Hodges and Ike Pemberton and Finn Wahl, and he rode thirty-four miles each way to work in a car pool with guys named Bill Poe and Wayne Harmon and Hubert Beard, his round dark green plastic-covered badge said he was employee number 183473, Daddy’s badge I mean, not Hubert Beard’s, not that I ever really noticed, then he got sick and died about a year and a half before he would have been eligible to retire and it’s a damn shame, pardon my French, that he died of pancreatic cancer, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone so be careful what you pray for because you just might get it, and it is way past time to end it for now, this is Billy Ray Barnwell your roving reporter signing off.

(end of Chapter 2)

Okay, so it's not Remembrance Of Things Past by Marcel Proust, but it is what it is.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

1761

...was not only a very interesting year -- the list of shipwrecks alone is staggering -- it is also the number of posts (including this one) that I have created since this blog began in September 2007.

I wonder if I will make it to 2000 posts.

As an example of how interesting 1761 was, here is the entry for August 11th:

Two years after his marriage to Martha Custis and his move to Mount Vernon, retired British Army General George Washington advertises a reward in the Maryland Gazette for the capture of four fugitive slaves, named Cupid, Peros, Jack, and Neptune, averring that they had escaped "without the least suspicion, provocation, or difference with anybody."

Yes, friends, our beloved George Washington was a slave owner.

Live and learn.

I am now 78 years, 3 months old, going on 78 years, 4 months. If my wife and I are both alive on February 20th next, we will have been married longer than her parents were, namely 56 years, 9 months and 1 day.

Mrs. RWP, who was/is a registered nurse with years of hospital experience, says that you can tell when men are getting old when they stop talking about sex and start talking about constipation.

I talk about neither.

I must be timeless.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

From the archives (August 12, 2009): A river runs through it

Last evening, after Mrs. RWP and I had finished eating our meal -- kielbasa, buttered noodles, and a vegetable medley of broccoli florets, baby carrots, and snow peas, as I recall -- we sat through Wheel of Fortune with Pat Sajak and Vanna White on the telly, and had just begun watching Jeopardy with Alex Trebek when all of a sudden the skies grew dark and the winds increased -- the natives around here nod knowingly at such times and say, “It’s comin’ up a cloud and it’s fixin’ to rain” -- and a tremendous amount of rain fell in a very short period of time. The wind blew every which way. It wasn’t quite Hurricane Ivan, but almost. I thought of part of an old vaudeville routine: “The lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the rain came down in sheets.” (Those of you who know the skit are now laughing and clapping appreciatively, and those of you who don’t know the skit (a) are scratching your heads, (b) have quizzical expressions on your faces, and (c) are thinking old rhymeswithplague may finally have gone off his rocker. Fat chance.)

At the kitchen window, I could see water gushing out at a rapid rate from the downspout at the corner of the house, and also from two drainpipes that the developers of our neighborhood thoughtfully installed at the base of the hill next door. Right on schedule, our old friend the river began to form in the back yard. Let me explain.

When we bought our house six years ago our lot was at the end of Phase 1 of our subdivision and there was nothing behind us but a field of wildflowers that stretched away into the distance, rising slowly all the way to the edge of the development property some distance away. I called our place “Little House on the Prairie.” Because we live in the foothills of the southern Appalachian range, there isn’t a lot of flat land hereabouts. Our subdivision is built on several hills and the homes march down their slopes in a series of terraced lots on several streets.

When Phase 2 of the subdivision began, the developers brought in big earth-moving equipment and trucks full of new dirt and began moving it around right behind our house. I began to call our place “Little House by a Strip Mine.” Eventually the developers created a large, long, flat-topped hill behind our house and erected several houses on a new street behind us. The foundation of every house on the new street is several feet above our roofline. After the houses were built and vegetation began to cover the hillside, for a while the people on our street and the people on the new street sat on their respective patios and looked up and down at one another, but desire for privacy prevailed and tall wooden fences now surround most of the houses behind us. All in all, it turned out not to be so bad, except that I do miss seeing the lovely sloping field of wildflowers that we used to enjoy.

Anyhoo, since the street behind us is elevated, the runoff water from the storm drains has to go somewhere, and where it goes is out two drainpipes, one in our side yard and one in our back yard. When the occasional monsoon rolls through north Georgia, a river runs through our back yard, down the hill through several more back yards, and eventually into what the developers call “a retention pond” at the bottom of the hill. Every yard on our street slopes upward on one side of the house and downward on the other side of the house, giving the whole neighborhood a sort of waterfall appearance to people driving cars up and down (literally) the street. The side yards are landscaped with pine trees, cedars, cypresses, ivy, various ground covers, juniper bushes, several kinds of flowering shrubs, and, in some cases, retaining walls. Even though the houses are fairly close together, the waterfall effect of the different lot elevations provides each home with a measure of privacy.

When we receive a lot of rain in a short period of time (for example, yesterday, when the rain gauge on my patio contained almost two inches of rain in less than half an hour), the water from the side yard drainpipe turns into a moving stream that crosses my side yard, where it joins the outflow from the back yard drainpipe. Yesterday we watched the Ohio River formed by this convergence of the Monongahela and Allegheny drainpipes move across our yard, deepening as it went. Eventually a real waterfall spilled down the hill into my neighbor’s yard, and onward it went from yard to yard, until it reached the retention pond at the bottom of the hill, eight houses away.

This was no rivulet I’m talking about. In our yard, which is contoured nicely so that the water avoids the house, our river yesterday was easily six or eight feet wide and at least six inches deep, and it moved along at a pretty fast clip. In my crazier moments, I have thought about having a small footbridge built and perhaps a gazebo.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite this bad:


but I swear, on scout’s honor, I could hear Andy Williams singing “Moon River” in the distance.

[Editor's note (July 3, 2019): I was looking at some old posts yesterday -- I like to scroll down through the labels in the sidebar and click on things that tickle my fancy -- and ran across this one. Ten years have passed since it was written (we have now lived in this house 16 years, not six), and things have changed a bit. No longer do the people on our street look up at the neighbors' houses on the other street or they down on us because Mother Nature, as is her wont, erected a veritable forest of pine trees on the hillside between us. There is now a modicum of privacy, even in the winter months, that we didn't enjoy before. Also, and I say this to my shame, there is a factual error in what I wrote. Yes, friends, rhymeswithplague can make mistakes. There is -- I struggle to say it -- no "side yard drainpipe" installed by the developers at all, just the one drainpipe further back. What I thought was flowing from a side yard drainpipe is actually the natural flow of water coming off the hill from the neighbors on the higher lot beside us. The effect is still the same, though. The natural Monongahela River still merges with the drainpipe's Allegheny River to form the Ohio River in our back yard every time a torrential rain occurs. One other change that also occurred is that Peggy and Rube, our neighbors on the Monongahela side, are now in their nineties and decided to move into an assisted-living facility. The house is now occupied by their grandson and his wife and a teen-aged great-grandson. It is still the Nelson house but the Nelsons are different. Time does march ever onward, and the Ohio River apparently goes on forever. --RWP]

Monday, July 1, 2019

Carpe diem

Apropos of nothing, today -- July 1st -- is the 156th anniversary of the beginning of a little something that heppened in 1863 that we now call the Battle of Gettysburg. That battle lasted three days, involved the largest number of casualties of the entire U.S. Civil War, and is often described as the war's turning point.

My cyberfriend kylie-sonja in Australia wrote a post in her blog yesterday about attending the retirement service of Amanda, a friend of hers who recently completed a 37-year career as a minister in the Salvation Army. She didn't mention the Salvation Army but I recognized the uniforms. At the end of her post, kylie included a quotation from Nancy H. Kleinbaum's novel Dead Poets Society:

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Kylie said that Amanda's verse is love, joy & service and that she doesn't see retirement changing that.

Since the title of kylie's post was "What will your verse be?" I thought about the question a long time and left the following longer-than-usual comment:

Back when I stopped coding and testing computer programs for IBM for a living and began writing their technical manuals instead, one particularly frustrating period made me ask myself this question:

At the end of my life, how important will putting books together for IBM have been in my long list of accomplishments?

I am now 78 and I know the answer to that question.

Not very.

I have been blogging now for nearly 12 years and the answer about that particular endeavor is probably the same.

Not very.

Nowadays I am grateful to see that my children's lives and accomplishments and my grandchildren's lives and accomplishments are the verse that I have contributed. I know that the powerful play does, indeed, go on and on. And I am grateful to have been a part of it.

"The Harvest of Death": Union dead on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, photographed July 5 or July 6, 1863, by Timothy H. O'Sullivan. Public domain.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

From the archives (June 17, 2008): Let's hear it for Ira Gershwin!

Of all the song lyrics Ira Gershwin (George's brother) ever wrote (and he wrote many, including such great songs as “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “The Man I Love,” “Summertime,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”), these are my all-time favorite:


Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Moon
by Ira Gershwin (1931)


“Blah, blah, blah, blah, moon,
Blah, blah, blah, above;
Blah, blah, blah, blah, croon,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, love.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, merry month of May;
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, ’neath the clouds of gray.

Blah, blah, blah, your hair,
Blah, blah, blah, your eyes,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, care,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, skies.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, cottage for two,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, darling, with you!”


And what better time to bring them to your attention than during the waning days of the romantic and equally rhymeable month of moon croon tune swoon June!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Time Marches On Department: Meryl Streep is 70

Just let that sink in. I will not comment further except to say that the first time I ever saw Ms. Streep on the silver screen was in The Deer Hunter. I looked it up just now and the year was 1978, so that would make her, let's see, divide by 4, carry the 8, all of 29 years old in that movie. I feel old. No, that is incorrect. I am old. And so, by the way, is Meryl Streep.

Moving right along, I ran across a page on Facebook called YumOola (who names these things?) that takes you, when you click on it, to a website called oola.com (I repeat, who names these things?) and a list called 50 Snacks The States Are Known For -- Have You Tried Yours?

No kidding, that was the title. Being the curious sort, I perused the list and here they (the 50 snacks) are, although some of them are not "snacks" in the typical sense of the word:

You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.

Here we go.

Alabama: Cheese Grits
Alaska: Salmon
Arizona: Mexican Food
Arkansas: Cheese Dip
California: Avocado Toast
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Connecticut: Hot Lobster Rolls
Delaware: The Bobbie
Florida: Key Lime Pie
Georgia: Peach Cobbler
Hawaii: The Hawaiian Plate
Idaho: Potatoes
Illinois: Italian Beef Sandwiches
Indiana: Hoosier Pie
Iowa: Corn on the Cob
Kansas: Bread
Kentucky: Fried Chicken
Louisiana: Jambalaya
Maine: Lobster
Maryland: Crab
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
Michigan: Cherries
Minnesota: Swedish Meatballs
Mississippi: Biscuits and Gravy
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
Montana: Wheat Montana Cinnamon Rolls
Nebraska: Runzas
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
New Hampshire: Cider Donuts
New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy
New Mexico: Chili Peppers
New York: Cheesecake
North Carolina: BBQ Pork
North Dakota: Bison Burgers
Ohio: Buckeyes
Oklahoma: Country Fried Steak
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks
Rhode Island: Clam Cakes
South Carolina: Sweet Tea
South Dakota: Kuchen
Tennessee: Hot Chicken
Texas: Tex Mex
Utah: Jello
Vermont: Maple Syrup
Virginia: Apples
Washington: Oysters
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
Wisconsin: Cheese
Wyoming: Beef Jerky

I don't think the list is scientific. I think it's just supposed to be fun. But I have been wrong before.

A few observations: I have never been to North Dakota, but I have eaten bison burgers. I lived in Nebraska for three years but I have never heard of runzas. Why would Illinois have Italian Beef Sandwiches instead of Polish Sausages? Shouldn't Minnesota's snack be lutefisk, not Swedish meatballs? In a shout-out to my friend Snowbrush, I am very familiar with biscuits and gravy (Mississippi) but I have no idea what a marionberry (Oregon) is.

My two favorites (British, favourites) from the list are definitely Georgia's Peach Cobbler and Florida's Key Lime Pie. I am also an expert, if you ever need one, on Tex Mex.

Live and learn. And while you're living and learning, you need to know that key lime pie is nothing at all like lemon meringue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Excitement is in the eye of the beholder

While Yorkshire Pudding and his lovely wife Shirley are spending time traipsing around on the island of Santorini in Greece, we have news of a more local nature.

We have a new baby!

Here is our new baby just after it was delivered:































Here is our new baby with its first gift, a rooster rug:































Here is our new baby open with its innards displayed for all to see:































As I am a Christian man, I will not show you our new baby's bottom.

In other news, we converted our huntboard -- you may call it a sideboard or a buffet where you live -- into a beverage (coffee/tea) bar by adding a large piece of glass that had been in our garage for years. Waste not, want not. Mrs. RWP produced the embroidered cross-stitch piece that hangs on the wall above the beverage bar. It took her many hours (months) to complete. It was a little like having a baby.
































We also had another baby a few months ago, but I don't think I ever showed you pictures.





Yorkshire Pudding shows you the four corners of the earth. I show you the four corners of our Toyota Rav4.

Finally, here are two of our older babies that we have had for over half a century. This photograph was taken a week ago at Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where my sons had taken me to see the play I told you about in the previous post.


Plainly, old gifts are the best gifts.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mindless meanderings, or everything is still normal

Dear Wormwood,

Yesterday my two sons loaded me into the car as an early Father's Day present and the three of us drove in to Atlanta and saw an 80-minute play based on C.S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters. It was called, appropriately, The Screwtape Letters.

(Note to Self: In the first sentence above, the phrase "as a Father's Day present" probably would have been better if placed elsewhere. --RWP)

A group called the Fellowship for the Performing Arts (FPA) out of New York put on the play, which had only two characters, Screwtape and his charming (I'm being sarcastic) little demonic assistant, Toadpipe. The play was very good. FPA have been to Atlanta before, having produced Lewis's The Great Divorce here as well as Martin Luther On Trial. I saw and enjoyed them all.

The play was performed at the Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech. It's too bad the place isn't called the Ferst Center for the Performing Arts because then I could have written (FPA) a second time if I ignored the word "Center".

I notice little things like that.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and we stopped for lunch at Jason's Deli in Kennesaw on the way down. I had an enormous Reuben sandwich that was called "Lighter Portion" on the menu, and a fresh fruit cup to boot. I didn't actually boot it. I ate it.

The fruit. Not the cup. Strawberries, pineapple, apples, and grapes are much tastier and more satisfying than the cup in which they are delivered.

I'm guessing. I don't know that for a fact.

It's another happy day in the Rhymeswithplague household. We may have to go out and buy a new refrigerator this afternoon.

Wish us luck.

Affectionaely,
Your uncle (Bob or Screwtape, take your pick)