Saturday, March 20, 2010

#9 - Reassurance For the Aspiring and Exasperated Gardener

When leaves are wilted and stems are dry
Lest you have a tear in your eye
Know that life and death are a part of growth
The former is joyous but the journey brings both…

Me ~ April 22, 2007

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#8 - Some hopefully helpful hints for successfully clarified Southern conversation

Tonight our fabulous local NPR station WFAE 90.7 FM held a "public conversation" on the topic "When North Meets South", to assist in bridging perceived and real cultural gaps between our "Northern Brethren", and us Charlotteans/Southerners.  It was a wonderfully humorous and reasonably thought-provoking discussion, providing the opportunity to chat a bit and chuckle a lot.  During the audience participation portion of the program, I raised my hand and offered the following tidbits of wisdom that I have gained since having become a Southerner some 37 years ago, following my birth and first 14 years of life in Iowa, the state I refer to as both "the land of beige food" (but that's another story for another time), and "the pink fluffy stuff in the attic", more pertinent to this missive; that is, one of the insulation layers between the North and South.

There are four expressions that I have found to be particularly useful to understand, for they often carry with them multi-layered intent and meaning that is belied by their ostensible simplicity.  As I begin to share them with you, I feel it important also to stress the significance of Subtlety, Gentility, Forgiveness, Empathy and, yes, Intellect that these expressions may reflect and convey.  I offer a single expression for the male persuasion, two for the female persuasion (given the greater number of words used by the female persuasion, subsequently resulting in a substantially larger proportion of entries in the vast world of Southern expressions), and a final one for the collective persuasion - a "universal Southernism", as it were.

So, with that contextual commentary completed, here are the four expressions that I shared this evening, and would like to share with you, in the true spirit of confederacy, and clarity:
  1. "He's a good ol' boy...", as in, "Well, he did serve a little time after relieving Miss Marlene of that wide-screen television of hers, but, he's a good ol' boy..."  (Forgiveness and Empathy)
  2. "Darlin', I just love that dress on you.  I never get tired of seein' it..." (Subtlety, Gentility and Intellect; perhaps a compliment, but most probably not...)
  3. "Well, isn't that interesting..."   A particularly effective exit from a unpleasant topic of conversation, this expression is typically delivered in a very pleasant tone and with a polite smile, followed rapidly yet gracefully by a turn of the head and the body in the opposite direction, and subsequent initiation of a different conversation with someone... else.  (Subtlety, Gentility and, perhaps, Intellect)
  4. "Bless (his, her, their, your) heart..."  One of the greatest examples of universal Southern empathy, this versatile expression can be used to neutralize a negative, or accentuate a positive.  An example of the former: "Lord, that boy's dumb as a stump, bless his heart..."; an example of the latter:  "My, isn't that a lovely drawing you've done for me.  Why, I do believe it is a tree, isn't it?  Bless your heart."  Each in its own way, I believe, reflects the speaker's great empathy for the human condition.  Just remember the following truism and you'll do just fine in using it:  "In the South you can say anything about anyone, as long as you say bless (their) heart afterward."  (Gentility, Empathy and, perhaps, if the subject is very fortunate indeed, Forgiveness)
I hope and trust that these four expressions will be of use to our Northern Brethren as they become dyed-in-the-wool Southerners.  Now let's all join hands and say "Bless their hearts..."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#7 - The ironic rule of aging and eyesight...

Who made the rule that says:
"As we age, we see better in BRIGHT light, but look better in dim light"?
Whoever it was, I hate 'em...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

#6 - Spring has sprung, ah, warm's begun!

This early time
In gardens prime
Without a care
For pollen air
We dig the dirt
And sow the seed
And satisfy our Nature's need

To tend and toil
The waking soil
Sunblock to foil
The sun's hot coil
To be outdoors!
No more to plead
We satisfy our Nature's need

The squirrels do flirt
And bore the dirt
For presents known
In holes their own
The birds they sing
Their songs of Spring
No more to want for anything

Tho' bent backs ache
And pale skins bake
And spades may cake
And rakes may break
To bask in sun
Oh joy, such fun!
For Spring has sprung, ah, warm's begun!

Me ~ March 9, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

#5 - The cruelest word in the English language

... is the word "lisp".  Yes, lisp.  Just think about it for a second.  The very people who are afflicted with this condition can't even say the word that describes the condition because they have the condition.  Is that cruel irony or what?!

"I'm tho thorry  if  it'th  hard  to underthand what I'm thaying.   You thee, I lithp.  What?  Lithp.  LITHP.   L - I -  ETH - P,  LITHP.  What?  WHAT?  Thilly?  I thound THILLY?!  THOP LAUGHING!  Lithen you little thit, if you thay that again I thurely think I'll thmack you from Theattle to Thaint Louith!"

Thee what I'm thaying?  Bleth their heartth!

(I just KNOW I'm going to burn in Hell for even thinking this one, let alone writing this one, but I just couldn't rethitht... DOH!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#4 - Thank heavens for pets - mine keep me from shooting somebody - I think...

There are times when I get frustrated, oh, like when I hear people objecting to things that, in my infinite wisdom, would benefit them and everyone in the long-term, out of what I view as fear, or as FDR once said, the "fear of fear, itself...". I get, well, almost crazy and feel angst and anger and feel a need to say things like "How can you be so stoopid? And YES, I mean with 2 "o's"!"

For example, today, the discussion about the Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment - "The Right to Bear Arms" (not the right to wear sleeveless shirts, the right to have a gun to defend oneself or others, which of course any reputable and respected legal scholar would readily acknowledge was originally intended by the Founding Fathers to provide for citizens' ability to join and participate in a local militia, NOT simply to have a gun to shoot an intruder) - the pompous and prolific protestations of Constitutional "purists" against gun-control legislation often make me so angry I almost want to go buy a gun so I can shoot 'em... Do they really want me to be able to do that?  As they say, "Be careful what you ask for...".  Yet, I must admit to having mixed feelings about this issue.

On the one hand, I feel it's ludicrous to think that a guy or gal (sorry feminists) could or should be able to carry a hand-gun into a bar, where the sale of alcohol is the primary business function of the establishment (Oh sure, let's just ask for trouble). The last time I looked, I do believe that Charlotte, NC was not and is not Dodge City in 1855... Equally ludicrous in my not-so humble opinion, is the idea that someone visiting a national park and messing with a bear or mountain lion should be able and allowed to pull a gun out of his or her holster and shoot the bear or mountain lion.  He or she is messing around in that animal's domain/domicile, and let's just remember who lives there - people are visitors (at least that's what my Visitor's pass says).  Personally, I think this is where Spencer's "Survival of the Fittest" theory should come into play...

On the other hand, if some angry idiot decided to break into my home, and out of some crazed mental dysfunction decided that it would be "fun" to shoot my little Chihuahua Petunia, I absolutely would prefer to have a gun to SHOOT THE S.O.B. RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES - you bet I would.

But... because I'm too lazy to go through a course on "How to Handle a Gun" (and as such would be more likely to shoot my favorite vase than the intruder), and secure enough in my particular neighborhood to feel that a violent break-in is highly unlikely to happen, I don't, and won't, have a gun in my home. That's my choice. But then again, I'm a guy not a gal, and can only speak from my perspective being a guy who generally doesn't have to worry about other such horrible things as being raped or accosted or hit on by a horned-up idiot or stalked by some estranged, spurned, "fatally attracted" paramour.  At least I don't think I do...

The bad news is that controversial topics such as this can set off random and crazy thoughts in my mind at times - I am human after all. The good news is that, often when these intense and frustrating thoughts are pommelling my psyche and raising my blood pressure and generally making me crazy, my little Chihuahua Petunia jaunts merrily and without care across the room and grabs her big stuffed dog or giraffe in her teeth and dog-handles it back into my lap, licks me on the nose and looks up at me with her cute little bug-eyes, asking me to play tug-of-war with her. And then I forget all those crazy nutso human thoughts, for a little while anyway...

Thank heavens for her...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#3 - Reassurance from the robins...

Hundreds of robins fill the sky, the tree branches and holly bushes, as I look out my front kitchen window at the snow falling, this March the 2nd. They're reassuring me that spring IS coming.