That’s what friends are for…

On Tuesday’s post there was a haiku that wasn’t strictly a haiku and the only one who noticed was a friend on FB – I have since corrected it – for some reason I read quietly as quiet+ly; two syllables. Nope – qui-et-ly. 

If you saw yesterday’s post then you might think that writing short lines is something I do and you would be right. While my posts might not convince you,  I am a concise writer – of poems, business correspondence and term papers. 

In a college lit course we were assigned papers of a particular length and I struggled mightily to reach the quota. When the professor handed back the papers he commented that he had actually counted the words and I had hit it precisely including the bibliography. My response was along the lines of “Do you want 2000 words of drivel or 1000 words that are to the point?”  He laughed, he liked me. I got an A.

I once set myself the task of writing one poem each day – good, bad or indifferent – just for the discipline of it. None went further than four lines. I can knock off 4 lines of decent poetry in the blink of an eye – I think in quatrains. But there they sat – 4 lines, unfinished. Often my entire thought was contained in those 4 lines, no need to go further. 

I wrote another haiku yesterday and I think that will be the last. In the several creative writing classes I’ve taken I always hated having to write in an assigned format – I didn’t mind an assigned topic but an assigned format – that irked me. I know the reasoning behind it and the discipline of it but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. For the assigned format of a Shakespearean sonnet, I wrote an anti-sonnet, whining about how I didn’t like writing to form. The concluding couplet was “I am a writer not a hack, So you may have your sonnet back”  I got an A+ on it. The professor liked me. 

Thinking I might do a haiku-a-day I had an idea but cramming it into 5-7-5 did not please me. Here it is:

Not the aches and pains
But lack of future vision
Says that I am old.

Meh. I have another version that I like better but it was 5-7-6. I think I might go back and just make a regular ole poem on the theme. Or not. 

If you’re really good at something and you know it,

pat yourself on the back. But not so often that your arms become unnaturally long. And not in response to someone commenting on their own similar ability. I hate that. And if I am guilty of that with this post then you have my permission, indeed are encouraged, to smack me down.

I am really good at research. Always have been. Going back, back, back into the dark ages of the world of brick and mortar libraries only. Oh yes, we had encyclopedias and dictionaries at home but libraries had more plus, microfiche. 

Whatever I don’t know interests me. My shrink said I was the most curious person he had ever met and by curious he didn’t mean odd, tho I am that too. He suggested I become a private detective or a journalist. I’m not sure how those two equate, I don’t think the term ‘investigative journalist’ existed back then. 

I would, and did, spend hours in the library racing down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Just as I now spend hours at my computer, not just chasing answers but getting sidetracked and bushwhacked by new information that leads me out of one rabbit hole into another.   I didn’t really understand that people didn’t know that libraries had the answers to all their questions. 

Por ejemplo – 

Guy I was living with was a history buff. He knew enough about the library to obtain books on the subject, primarily modern history, 20th century, WWII – along those lines. He became interested in Thomas Brackett Reed, an American politician. He remarked that Reed’s most important speeches had only been printed in the Congressional Record and he really wanted to read them. I said “So, go to the library and read them” His response was along the lines that he wasn’t prepared to go to Washington, DC. I responded in, I suppose,  an exasperated tone of voice – “The library down the block has every issue of the Congressional Record on file, either on microfiche or bound.” The man was shocked and surprised while I couldn’t believe than an intelligent, well read, middle-aged man didn’t know how to use a library.  Further adventures ensued from his discovery. 

As much as I love a library, Google has been a dear good friend. 

I have so many bits and pieces of poetry in my head that I can’t always connect a remembered line with the entire poem. I spent years (YEARS) trying to track down a poem based on one line, a mis-remembered line as it turns out. I scoured every library source, I had the idea that it was from one of the war poets.  Turns out I was wrong about that too. The Wonderful, All-Knowing Google finally put me out of my misery – the poem was by William Blake. He was never on my radar as the poet – never. 

Recently the same problem presented itself. It wasn’t even a line that I remembered, just the sense of the poem and good old Google came through and saved me years of frustration – I searched ‘poem+throw’ and Bingo! there was the poem. To save my sanity, I copied the poem and have it saved in my documents. 

Should anyone be interested, the William Blake poem is “London” and the other, more easily recovered poem, is by Gregory Corso, “The Whole Mess”, and it’s a corker. 

So, here I am patting myself on the back because I am a whiz-bang researcher. I have patience for nothing, except, research. Curiouser and curiouser, I am. And I will stop at nothing to satisfy that curiosity.

And now for something completely different – today’s haiku

Wind gently whooshes
Softly through open windows.
Ah, nature's sweet breath. 


Yes everyone has opinions but just because you think it that doesn’t mean you have to say it.

If someone asks my opinion about something I’m going to be very judicious in my reply. For example. I personally dislike white shaker style kitchen cabinets, really dislike them. If someone just had their kitchen done up with white shaker style kitchen cabinets, and they are just pleased as punch, and ask my opinion, should I give it? No, I shouldn’t. What would that accomplish? Make them feel bad? Or tick them off and make them defensive? All that over kitchen cabinets? No. As I said, I will not rain on someone’s parade. If they ask me about said kitchen cabinets before they make their final decision, I might offer up that they can be difficult to clean, or simply say they’re not my taste, hoping that’s the end of the conversation.

If the subject is of great importance and you and I are of the same opinion then it’s a short conversation. If our opinions are diametrically opposed and I know there is no room for civil discourse, why would I even bother getting into it? Knowing it will only devolve into argument and confrontation, not reasoned debate – I’m keeping my opinions to myself.

That all sounds as if there can be no exchange of opinions ever. Of course there can be, just know who you’re talking with. And be mindful of the other person’s feelings.

Which brings me to offending people. In a forum such as this, the conversation is one-sided. I’m doing all the talking, a reader can only react. Yes, it is a personal blog and no one is forced to read it but if by chance someone stops in, is offended by my strong beliefs/opinions on a subject and feels angry or hurt or insulted or any other negative reaction then I would feel bad.

Even if I never knew someone was offended, that someone might be makes me pause. Perhaps not so much if it is about something innocuous, like kitchen cabinets, but suppose it was something deeply personal, like religious beliefs. I have very strong opinions about religion and I know that is a subject that is divisive. I keep coming back to – what will I accomplish. Do I really need to say it.

I’ve just realized what I’m talking about here is the purpose of my blog. I read blogs that cover important, intelligent matters. And here I am talking about myself and curtains. Not very interesting to anyone but me. And yet…the blogs I enjoy most are the personal ones. People just nattering on about their ordinary lives. I like that.

There is a a gentleman who writes about living on a narrowboat, I don’t understand 95% of what he is talking about but I just enjoy the heck out of his blog. Plus he takes the most fabulous photos. Then there is Ashley, who writes serious, informative posts about mental health. Yes, she also does personal fluffy posts, but fun or serious her personality shines through and I read every post even when I don’t really care about the subject matter of the day. She can be so funny while being serious and again, I enjoy the heck out of her blog.

So my last post was me feeling down on myself, for not writing on matters of great social or intellectual import. Eh. I started doing this whole blogging thing back in 2003 (give or take) because it was all new and shiny, a new internet toy to play with. I’ve never had a theme or a purpose. I suppose it became a diary I felt comfortable sharing. Or I just got tired of talking to myself and thought with a blog you can pretend you are talking with other people.

Whatever my reasons were, here I am still. Babbling on about the inconsequential. Who knows, maybe I will once again, as I have done in the past, talk about weighty matters. It seems age has mellowed me to such an extent I barely recognize myself. But I’m not totally unhappy with the person I see on the page. I’m thinking mellow is a good look.

Move along, nothing to see here.

I have no words of wisdom to share. I used to. Now I find myself writing here about curtains and food – how shallow can you get.

There was a time in my life, when I thought I knew everything, that I would pontificate on what was right and wrong. I was more than happy, nay even compelled, to tell you how to live your life.

Now – not so much. Not at all.

Have I got opinions? Hoo-boy, do I ever. Some of those opinions come from experience but I have learned (Hallelujah, the woman learned something!) that my experience is not YOUR experience. While there may be parallels and similarities, we are different people. While we might have even shared an experience (and yes, I am thinking of a specific situation) I have my story and you have yours and I have no right change your perception of our overlapping stories.

I will not rain on anyone’s parade.

I will listen to whatever you have to say and that will be the only comfort I will offer – that you are heard. You can cry on my shoulder any time, I will offer a tissue to wipe the tears and nothing more.

If you ask my advice I will decline. Unless it is something practical. Even then, so often, there is more than one way. If I know you well I might share my tips and tricks but with the caveat that it is my way, neither right nor wrong, just how I do it.

I will never offer you some trite bit of inspirational rah-rah. I would gag and choke if I did. I’m not the inspirational type (tho I am fond of “She believed she could, so she did”) I don’t support that old saw about how you can achieve whatever you set your mind to – and magical thinking is for daydreams.

But then – if that’s what keeps you sane and moving forward, or at least not falling over – I will keep silent.

I’ve learned to keep myself to myself. I will share with you the truths of my life but only as facts that apply to me – this was my life, this is my life – stripped of emotions. And in no way an example for you to follow or avoid. You can’t learn from my mistakes, only your own. And only if you want to.

I have written some lovely thoughtful little essays, they are there in my no longer active blog on Blogger, but those lovely little thoughtful essays are advice and observations with a touch, just a small bit, of hubris.

On my “About” I have a quote – “The first thing you should know about me is that I’m not you. A lot more will make sense after that.”

I once lived a big life in a big world; now I live a small life in a small world. I’m not really okay with that, but that’s my problem.

So – hey, aren’t those curtains fun!

Boy Howdy!

Isn’t that a fun phrase? I used it last week, either in one of my posts or in a comment, and now I can’t get it out of my head. How it got into my head in the first place, I have no idea.  According to the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) it is a Texan-ism.  I’ve never been to Texas.

When I lived in New York I went out with a few Texans, businessmen just passing through don’tcha know, and I found them delightful gentlemen to spend an evening with.

DARE, like the OED, are wondrous books to scroll through. I was introduced to the OED in college and always swore I would get myself a copy, never did. They have, or had, a compact version that came with a magnifying glass because the print was that small – 20 volumes smooshed into 2.

William Safire wrote a language column for the New York Times Sunday Magazine and that’s where I first came across DARE – he was reviewing the volumes as they came available and I promised myself when it was completed I would get myself a copy of that too. I didn’t. I really should, what could be more fun than to get lost tooling around such an amazing dictionary.

Odd things that pop into my head most often are delightful things, fun stuff. Last night as I was drifting off to sleep a song popped into my head and I only knew the chorus, which I mentally sang over and and over…ear worm time when I should have been sleeping. “Hooka tooka, my soda cracker, Does your Mama chaw tobacca, if your Mama chaw tobacca, then hooka tooka, my soda cracker”

I gave up on the sleep idea and grabbed my iPad and looked up “Hooka Tooka”. Turns out to have been written by Ernest Evans aka Chubby Checker. The lyrics make no sense whatsoever but the tune is kinda catchy – 

Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca, say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca, say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Who your love, Who your love I say
You know I love my mother-in-law
If your love momma like you say
Why can’t momma chaw
Everybody yup
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca, say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Momma loves momma loves you all
And you know I’m her son-in-law
If you love me like you say you do
Chaw tobacca too
Hey Ar
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca, say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker… 

Now then, as is my wont, when I saw there were other versions of Hooka Tooka I had to delve further into its meaning and origin. It’s somewhat interesting but since some of it involves Judy Henske I won’t bother boring you with it. (I don’t like Judy Henske.) And some of it revolves around “Icka Backa soda cracker” and/or “Acka Backa soda cracker” and I also won’t bore you with that.

I’m just gonna keep with my original earworm – which I had managed to get out of my head until I started writing this…Fun as it is, Make It Stop!

Tea and cookies

This morning nobodysreadingme  was on about a Leeds University study about when milk should be added to tea. I have no idea why anyone would add milk to tea in the first place much less whether it should be put in the cup first, then pour the tea or vice versa.

Ok, so I’m an American and an Italian-American at that and tea is not much of an Italian thing. I actually researched that and it turns out Italians only drink tea at home when they are feeling ill.

Personally, I like tea and for many years I was a tea fanatic – no tea bags, loose tea only, lots of brewing methods tho my favorite teapot looked like this. Even though I drank coffee from a young age, including espresso, somewhere along the line I developed a taste for tea. Some folks would remember me as a tea drinker rather than a coffee drinker. Still. I never in my life put milk in my tea. Lemon – Yes. Honey – Yes. Sugar – No. And I liked my tea strong and dark.  Why in the name of all that is holy would anyone put milk in tea?

As for cookies – Ally Bean wrote about chocolate morsels and by extension chocolate chip cookies. While I do like chocolate, a lot, I do not like chocolate chip cookies. Actually I don’t really like cookies much at all. I like my sweets, well, not sweet for starters. And preferably containing fruit (which kinda makes them healthy? Please say yes.) Fruit pies – oh my! Any kind of fruit, put it in a pie, Oh my!

I like my sweets soft and gooey (and fruity) and cookies just don’t tend to be soft and gooey. My mother was a lousy cook but a great baker and cookies were her specialty, tho I must admit she made one hell of a fabulous coconut crunch apple pie and her hamantaschen was without peer nevermind the cream puffs and cannoli. Anyway, one cookie she never made was chocolate chip cookies. I do not recall eating chocolate chip cookies ever when I was a kid.

There was one cookie that I loved and it was really not a cookie at all, and my mother never made them. But my Aunt Mary, bless her heart, always made them just for me. If Aunt Mary knew we were coming over you can bet there would be a tray of MY cookies. I remember Aunt Mary telling people “No, those are for Grace”.

These wondrous confections, are called Italian Ribbon cookies. Or rainbow cookies or a bunch of other names. They are actually little cakes. And they are a royal pain in the patootie to make. It wasn’t until I attempted to make them myself that I felt an even greater love for my Aunt Mary.

If you mention cookies then those marvelous soft, gooey, fruity, chocolatey delights are what I think of; the look of them, the taste of them.  Those wonderful cookies that my Aunt Mary made for me – just for me.

Brain Dump

brain dumpI don’t know why this irks me so, but, have you ever encountered a person who always has to play the one-upmanship game? No matter what you may have done, where you may have been, who you might have met they always did it better and more. They’re the person who always has to tell you how wonderful they are even when no one asked. They don’t even need you to participate, as in, you say “Hi, how are you?” They say “Oh, are those new shoes? They look something like mine, don’t they? Of course mine are Jimmy Choo’s”

Needless to say I have a specific person in mind. I don’t interact with this person anymore because I can’t maintain any level of kindness. I tell myself people act this way because they are insecure; that they need to feel big and the way they do that is by trying to make other people feel small. It is easy enough to avoid this person, it’s all on-line anyway, but to keep in touch with people I care about I pretty much have to read what she posts – not always and not often, but enough of the time. 

Which brings me to stalking following people online. I enjoy looking for people I’ve known, just to see what they are up to. I have no desire to contact them. They might have been a part of my life way back when but they aren’t now and probably for good reasons – BUT – I like to know where they are, and if they are well and happy. I actually get a little annoyed when I can’t find them, or they have really good privacy settings on places like FB and all I can glean is that – well, they’re there, and nothing more. How dare these people thwart my curiosity! (Um, that’s a big LOL, folks…)

Anxiety is my normal and constant state of being. I am always anxious; I am always worrying. Always have been, this is my personality. It’s also probably why I’ve been treated, since childhood, for a wide range of physical illnesses as the result of the anxiety. Of course I’ve never been treated for anxiety itself, other than 3 years of therapy but that’s not the point here. The point is –

Since my hospitalization last September I’ve had a number of medical procedures looming – and they are dependent on the condition of my heart, you know whether I can actually survive the procedures. I’ve been stressing and worrying about the heart monitor the cardiologist wanted me to wear. I asked him if it would be the stick-on kind that I had before and he said no, it would be a Holter monitor. I looked that up and whoops, there went my stress and anxiety into overload. The photos looked just like the heart monitor I had in the hospital – a rather large heavy box on a cord around your neck and 4 electrodes on your chest – uncomfortable, unmanageable and you can’t get water anywhere near it – so no bathing. Noooo!

So I’ve been stressing and anxious about this since my February cardiologist visit – the heart monitor thing was scheduled for near the end of May – I decided to move the date up, just so I could get it over with. And Joy of Joys – yesterday when I reported to the ‘heart station’ it turns out it IS the stick on type of heart monitor, the kind I had before. And I only have to wear it for 2 days. And I can take a shower if I am careful and don’t let the monitor get too wet. When I expressed my surprise to the tech she said “Oh those are the old monitors, they mostly use them on in-patients. Out-patients always get these now” I could have kissed her. If I had only known, I would have saved myself many sleepless nights; much stress and anxiety (which is eating holes in my stomach). Damn, if I had only known. I DID ask the right question, I just didn’t get the right answer.