Tag Archives: differences

Context

“I’m going to kill him!” “I will end her!” “I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”

Have you ever said these words? Or perhaps something similar but equally violent or aggressive? Truth of the matter is we all say things that we would never put into effect. Ask anyone who has ever offered to eat their hat if they would really do it. Just because somebody in a fit of anger spouts the words:  “I’m going to kill you!” does not mean they are going to actually end your life. And yet.

Context. It’s all about context. People often speak without truly thinking about what they are going to say. That could be 98% of the time. It is so easy to get provoked about something and then use words that perhaps were inappropriate at the time. I once overheard a conversation on the street, I wasn’t intentional listening but they were quite loud and they were talking about murder. Now I am by nature a curious soul so I followed. I wanted to hear more. I also wondered if I should put my cell phone on record, you know, evidence. Ha ha ha! Within a few steps I realized that they were talking about killing a plant. Or rather someone who was taking care of her plants killed them by overwatering them. It’s all about context. She was talking about flora and I’m thinking about dead bodies. Tells you where my mind goes.

I love it when I hear people say they are so hungry they could eat a whole cow! Do they know how big a cow is?  It’s just another example of how people don’t really mean what they say. In context, they’re just very, very hungry. OK. So much of our humour comes from comments made out of context or misspoken words and phrases. We are funny when we’re riled.  And good comedians know it.

Now, speaking without thinking isn’t always a bad thing. It’s amazing how much honesty is reflected in those impromptu moments. Definitely not a bad thing but not always a good thing either. Honesty is to be respected and used judiciously. When you hear a word that someone else speaks, your mind may conjure up a different context than what was meant. I once had a conversation with an acquaintance about canoeing. The topic immediately puts me in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario with beautiful clear skies, brilliant stars and peace. He thinks about regattas with hordes of people and food and booze. Two totally different situation. We did eventually come to a consensus and we laughed about it. Context. It isn’t always easy to know what it is.

Dot, Dot, Dot . . .

Most of my regular readers are familiar with my use of three dots.  I am of the generation that is not completely comfortable with the use of emojis. Quite frankly, I would have to invent my own. I find them woefully inadequate and they do not represent the emotion I would have at that time. I would only be able to use something that was an approximation. That ain’t me.

At its most basic, writing conveys information. Information can be sterile and while edifying, it really has no emotion. Individual words, sentence length and punctuation do attempt to fill in the gap but they too are inadequate. Communication is approximately 90% nonverbal. 90%! The twinkle in the eye, the upturned corner of the mouth, the slight flush to the cheeks or the bowed head. A sigh, a giggle. These all speak volumes without words. Inflection, hesitation, volume, all of these speak to emotion in the meaning of the words. A gifted writer will convey all of these with their words. A gifted writer. The rest of us just fumble. Hence . . .

Punctuation can help with inflections on sentences or words. Three dots imply a hesitation, a pause. During a face-to-face conversation that can be quite telling. If I have to explain to my readers that my eyebrows were raised while making a statement then that statement becomes unimportant, even amusing. And yet if it is done while we are speaking face-to-face it will emphasize the statement.

Social media has enabled us to stay in touch but it has taken the colour out of our words. Emojis try to replace them with tiny little images which, in my opinion, are utterly inadequate. I also find that there are a lot of anagrams in use. I’m embarrassed to admit that a lot of them I don’t understand. For years I thought LOL meant Lots Of Love. Oops. Now I know it means Laugh out Loud. But there is no dictionary to tell you what they mean! Fortunately, I have friends who take pity on me (I am sure they are smirking although I can’t see it) and they explain things to me. It took me years before I finally broke down and asked what ROTFL meant or SWMBO. (Rolling On The Floor Laughing and She Who Must Be Obeyed) Just in case I’m not alone out here…

Ain’t communication grand!

I Did Not Say That!

I am convinced that my Dictation Software is actually a 15-year-old pimply boy wearing socks with Flip-flops and sweatpants sitting in his mother’s basement chewing bubble-gum. I know this because some of his auto corrections on my blog are . . .   Shall we say inappropriate. Which of course means I have to share. As an example: this is what happened when I left a comment on a post at nofacilities.com:  You’re a penis Arnel serve yourself. That’s what auto correct said! No joke. This is what I said:  Your peanuts are now serve yourself? Dan had shared a picture of a bag of peanuts on his back deck. He feeds the squirrels, usually.

Now I am not a prude. I didn’t go ballistic at the word penis. It’s a word. But I do find it hilarious how so many of these auto check changes are sexual in nature. Does that not scream teenage boy? Now when it comes to profanity. . . (I worked for the police for 30 years I am not afraid of profanity.   I actually have quite a litany of vulgar verbiage at my disposal.) Spell check has no trouble spelling expletives perfectly. I get cranky and I get annoyed at auto correct. Because basically, it’s not correct! And it infuriates me when I’m taking great care to enunciate correctly and it prints something that isn’t even a bloody word! Sorry, redhead, temper. I can understand changes with the spelling. I may not like it but I understand it. I am Canadian and the spellcheck is American. There are certain words that we do spell differently, for example: humour and humor.  Oh, my word, spellcheck got that one right! I guess that pimply 15-year-old was listening.  Ha ha ha!

Throughout the ages so many have named their devices. The golf club that’s called Big Bertha, men naming their cars after well, something they probably won’t want to explain. I have never really felt the need. But sometimes I want to have somebody to yell at in my frustration and it really is absolutely no fun at all to yell at a device that has no feeling. So, if I have a teenager hiding in his mom’s basement to be annoyed with, I’m good!

 

 

What Is a Poem?

Is Poetry just words,

Set down on a page?

Or is it a hunger,

Of sadness or rage?

 

Is it straight from the heart,

Through words from the mind?

An attempt to connect,

Perhaps redefined?

 

If truth is the goal,

Are the words more satirical?

To soften the blow,

They could be quite lyrical!

 

I know in my heart,

The words here are true.

Impassioned, embolden,

The many, the few.

 

Poetry is love,

It is hate and despair.

For some it’s a way,

To show that they care.

 

The sweet gentle kiss,

Of a butterfly’s wings.

The dulcet sweet sounds,

As the Morning Dove sings.

 

Poetry is the blood,

That flows through the words.

The cadence the spice,

In first and in thirds.

 

Fear not the meaning,

Immersed in the rhyme.

Poetry is everything,

And nothing in time.

 

Share in your knowledge,

And destroy every barrier.

Rejoice in the words,

And then be a carrier.

 

 

And

Such a little word. Three letters, one syllable. It is often overlooked, much maligned and often disregarded. But it has a mighty job. People often replace it with a comma and while that is fine, it doesn’t tell the whole story. A comma will relate words together but ‘and’ binds them. Husband and wife. Peanut butter and jam. Melodies and lyrics. War and peace. I could continue. There are things that belong together, the word ‘and’ ensures that they do.

As is so often true it is the little things that make the difference. ‘And’ is a word that doesn’t just bring things together it connects them. Rogers and Hammerstein were great individual artists but put them together and they made magic. Their music is timeless. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were brilliant performers but when they danced together, they were the quintessential couple.  Think of foods that are better because they have been combined. Peanut butter is great on a cracker but add jam and put it between two pieces of bread . . . you have a childhood favourite. And, I might add, a few adults…

As a species we need to associate with another in order to procreate, to evolve. We also need connections to enhance our quality of life. If we keep breathing, we can stay alive but in order to have an actual life we need relationships. That is why we have cities and towns, communities for protection and for sustainability. We are social creatures.  Very few are true isolationists. Some do prefer to live alone but there will always be a connection somewhere even if it is tenuous. In the animal world it is the same thing. Some do live a singular life but there is a need, a compulsion to come together to reproduce.

When we have healthy competition, we will strive for betterment. When we have mutual support, we can reach for the stars. It is only when we are together that we can achieve greatness. And if we are simply the audience to that greatness, we are still part of the whole picture. Even the lowliest of seeds has the potential to become a great oak with the right support.

The world needs to understand that we are better collectively. When the coronavirus first hit, the world came together to fight the devastation. We work stronger, more efficiently when we are a team, when we are us.

Do you know what else ‘and’ has done? It has brought together you and I. I think that’s pretty special.

D.N.A

My hair is from Scotland,

And the twinkle in my eye.

My pasty white skin,

Maybe the Island of Skye?

 

My attitude’s my own,

Or my mother’s, I think.

But dad had tenacity,

And the courage not to blink.

 

My grandmother is here,

Add my grandfather too.

Back generations I’m told,

And yet some of its new.

 

I believe in myself,

The person I am.

We’re all here together,

In sort of a jam.

 

Six generations removed,

They say it began.

And all through the ages,

I’m just one of the clan.

 

I give thanks to an uncle,

For freckles on my nose.

And then there’s that cousin,

Who gave me his toes.

 

The DNA chapter,

Is still being written.

But scientists now,

Are so very smitten.

 

Your looks and your manners,

Began in your past.

If good you will keep them,

If not they won’t last.

 

So look to the future,

Your descendants to come.

Think of the habits,

You can give them for fun!

Transparency

The catch word for today is ‘Transparency”. People think everything should be transparent, we should know it all. I am here to add my voice to that conversation and tell you… No thanks. I don’t want to know what goes into making my sausage that I am thoroughly enjoying. I don’t want to know the machinations that were used to get aid to those who require it. I just want to know that it has happened.

We live in a world where everyone seems to want to get ahead by stepping on other people. OK not everyone! But enough that we are concerned. We should be. And we want to know what’s going on to ensure that that doesn’t happen. I understand that. And I agree. But too much information simply muddies the water. I trust in the people we put in place to protect us. Call me naïve if you wish.  There’s enough going on in my life for me to worry about that it’s difficult to worry about, well, everybody else. And quite honestly some of it is none of my business.

I have used celebrities before as an example and unfortunately, they are the favourite punching bag. I don’t need to know everything about them. I don’t need to know their eating habits or their toiletry practices. IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! It shouldn’t be anybody else’s either. I don’t want some stranger knowing what is in my medicine cabinet. So why does the gutter media think they have the right to snoop so intrusively? I don’t know. But I do know that there is a certain transparency that should not be exploited.

I once watched a YouTube bit about a transparent public toilet. (It’s in Japan) when no one is in the room it is transparent. When someone comes in and locks the door it turns opaque. It is done to dispel the concept of dirty, smelly bathrooms. With my luck I would be halfway through my use of it with my knickers around my ankles and it would turn transparent. Seriously. I don’t have that kind of courage. But it highlights the whole concept of transparency. Sometimes it is a good thing. But not always.

It is not transparency we require; it is accountability. We need to know that what is important will be taken care of and what is not important will be dismissed. The trick is knowing the difference. There are things that once seen can never be unseen. Things once said that can never be unsaid. We need to be careful and we need to be accountable. If we take responsibility for things that we have done or said then we have a much better chance of being accepted for who we are and what we believe. At least that is what I believe.

The Absolute Truth?

“It is the absolute truth!”    How many times have we heard this comment? How many times was it correct? The truth is something that seems to be bandied about like a tennis ball.  Whoever hits the hardest or the farthest gets the point. Ask a police officer about the truth. There is an accident and if there is more than one witness there’ll be more than one absolute truth.

Since perhaps only scientists can understand absolutes, the rest of us have to recognise that there simply are no absolutes. The truth we see and tell others is based on our own preconceived ideas and experiences. We can believe something to be the truth but that doesn’t make it so. If you check social media, the truth can be had for a coin, a tiny virtual coin I don’t understand.

There is an old adage: ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’. It’s true. If you say something loud enough and long enough there is a section of society that will believe you. It doesn’t matter that you have no proof to back up what you have just said. Proof, as well, is open to interpretation. If five different people read the same book, you’ll often find five different interpretations of what the book was about. Some will see the internal angst that the characters have to deal with while others see the romance and others will be bored silly. Everything we see, do, hear, feel, experience is interpreted by our inner monologue.

Oh yes, the inner monologue. That annoying little commentator at the back of our brain that suggests having that second piece of pie would not be good for your hips. That conscience that reminds us we really should have taken out the garbage. The remembered voice of an old friend supporting us in our time of need. We all have an inner monologue. We just don’t always listen to it.  Is it telling us the truth? Is it showing us the truth without all of the trappings?

I always try to tell the truth. I joke that it’s easier to remember than a lie but there’s more to it. I’m telling you my truth because I respect you. Although when it comes to the awful truth, the hard truth or the ugly truth it becomes more difficult. Just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shared. But then when the truth is just mean, I question the validity of sharing it. Does it do more good than harm? And that is when you need to talk to your conscience, your inner monologue. What is it saying?

A Message in a Bottle

Have you ever stood at the edge of an ocean, stuffed a heartfelt message into a bottle, corked it and thrown it into the waves? No, I haven’t either.  I wanted to but I didn’t have the courage to throw my words into the great unknown… What if no one answered? How many people have ever found a bottle with a message inside, let alone answered it? Probably not many. But isn’t that what we do now every day on the Internet.

In February 2013 I did just that. I tossed my words into the ether and wondered if anyone would answer. Four people did. Those four people gave me the courage to do it again. As I look back at the faces of the people that gave me ‘likes’ in those days, I’m recognizing familiar faces. Some people have been with me from the very beginning and now I think of them as my Internet Family. All because I had the courage to throw my bottle into the wind.

Every day that we leave our homes we are throwing ourselves on the mercy of the world. And that is terrifying. We have our routines and our safe places where we are comfortable but inevitably someone new or some new activity throws a wrench into our very comfortable existence. And that forces us to adapt, to accommodate and to change. I have always said that I don’t like change. And yet I kinda do. I like to be challenged and that usually involves change. Change for the sake of change is unsustainable but change to adapt or to improve can be exciting.

These past two years have forced us to re-evaluate our lives and the manner in which we live them. It is difficult to say how some good has come from this horrible time but I believe it has. We are learning about ourselves and we are learning about each other. It is my hope, my fervent hope that we will gain understanding from these horrific experiences and grow.

I have learned that I enjoy my hermit mode and that, while comfortable right now, will have to change when we can once again live fully. I think perhaps it is just my way of protecting myself from acknowledging the loss of the outdoors. The loss of restaurants and meeting places. I am sure that I will slide easily back into my old life when it is once more secure to live it. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to enjoy myself inside my safe place!

 

The image is from:  Vecteezy.com

OLi’s Tale

Some stories begin at the beginning. That is the natural way of things. But some stories begin before the beginning. And that can be the most interesting of tales.

 

Lizzy had just moved to New York City; she had needed a change and she thought she could find anonymity here. She wanted to wander silently through the crowds and soak up the beauty that was New York but she didn’t want anyone to rely on her or for her to rely on anyone else. Maybe just for a little while. And that is how Lizzy found herself in a small art shop buying a few supplies. She like to sketch what she saw but she didn’t have what she needed.  And of course, she needed something to carry all the supplies she would use. The shop offered perfectly sized canvas bags. It was great and it was, well, boring. But the shopkeeper had a plan. She supplied the paints so anyone could paint what they wanted onto the bag. Lizzy loved the thought but had no idea what to paint. So, she looked around the room and saw a book with a fierce picture of a dragon on the front and the words “MYSTICAL CREATURES”. She thought the idea of a dragon was great but he had to be a little less menacing so she put her head down and started to paint. Eventually she was happy with what she had done and she was just finishing off the tail when a small child approached her cautiously.

“I think he would like to have a purple ribbon around his tail.”

Startled, Lizzy looked up and then immediately looked down. After all, the voice had come from almost below the table from a beautiful little girl dressed in purple.

“I like your dragon but I think he needs a purple ribbon.”

The voice spoke with the confidence of innocence. Lizzy smiled and answered her.

“I agree.  And what is your name?”

“Olivia,” she said. And then with a sudden burst of shyness, she turned and ran from the store, her father in tow. He smiled a tired smile at Lizzy and followed his daughter.

Lizzy grinned. She wanted to credit the little girl with giving her the idea so she started to print her name on the ribbon. O L and then she thought maybe she shouldn’t because she didn’t have permission. She wondered what to do. And then a thought came to her. She already painted an O and an L and she would add an I but in lowercase to acknowledge the small child. And OLi was born.

*******************************************

In a time very long ago and in a place very far away, lived a tribe of dragons and a tribe of people.  The dragons lived on top of a mountain while the people lived in the valley far below. It was an uneasy truce but it had lasted for hundreds of years. And it was expected to last for hundreds more.

But what is expected and what actually happens is very often the exact opposite. In a nest on the edge of the cliff were several eggs. They were quite large. One of them was restless. It seemed to shake and roll about the nest. It really was disturbing the other eggs. Eventually the egg rolled to the edge of the nest and over it. At that point gravity took over and the egg began to roll down the mountain. Now dragons’ eggs are quite strong, they are tough creatures. But it was a very long way down the mountain. There were fields and forests and streams that had to be navigated and it all seemed to happened as if by magic. No harm came to the egg. In time it reached the valley and it started to slow down. Eventually it came to rest at the edge of a red barn at the outer edge of a farm. It wasn’t there very long before a young boy named Christian found it.

Now, Christian had never seen a dragon before but he knew exactly what the egg was. He had grown up learning about the mystical beasts.  They had been taught that they were fierce warriors and would eat little children if they misbehaved. Christian believed they were really just tall tales to keep the children from being naughty. The dragons had never ventured into the valley as long as he had been alive. But there were stories . . . .

Christian looked at the very large egg at his feet. He wondered what to do about it. He knew he couldn’t tell his Father because of course he would just destroy it. As he was looking intently at his latest dilemma, he noticed it start to shiver. It was cold. Without thinking Christian picked it up and took it into the barn.  At the very least he would keep it warm until he decided what to do. It was an old barn that was rarely used but it still had remnants of hay and it was protection from the wind. The egg would be safe here. Christian made a little hollow in a bale of hay and placed the egg in it.  He then wrapped an old blanket around it. He also wanted to make sure no one else could find it. Goodness only knows what would happen if he was found harbouring a dragon! It didn’t bear thinking about.

As he was eating dinner that night Christian was distracted. What did baby dragons eat? The tales never told you that. But he was enjoying his mashed potatoes and peas and he wondered if maybe he would just try to feed it whatever he was having for dinner. He figured he could sneak something into the barn. But of course, it all depended on when the egg hatched. That was something he was looking forward to.

Several days went by and Christian was very diligent about making sure he was in the barn as many times as possible. He found it gave him great pleasure to hold the egg and feel the life inside. It seemed to move, gently at first and then more vigorously. It was also warm, calm under his hand. And then one day it happened. It cracked. Christian wasn’t in the barn but he noticed it as soon as he did come in and he sat down on his hands and knees, face inches from the shell and watched.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the crack started to get bigger. Eventually a piece fell off and Christian looked in wonder and saw an eye. It blinked. He almost couldn’t contain his joy. But he knew that too much excitement might scare the new life so he clapped one hand over his mouth and hugged himself with the other. For a while nothing seemed to happen and then everything happened. A little face poked its way through the shell and shook furiously. A shoulder showed and then two small hands. Ah! Quietly whispered Christian… and then, Wings! Before too long the shell was gone. Or rather bits of it were strewn around a very small, miniature dragon.

Barely daring to breathe Christian put his hands out to the small creature in a gesture of friendship. The tiny dragon burped. Christian smiled. And then it made a noise that sounded a little like “Olly”! It really wasn’t much more than a squeak but now Christian knew his name. He put his hand on the forehead of the small creature and smiled. In return he seemed to purr and when he put his head in Christian’s hands, a friendship was born.

Christian knew he had to keep his young charge out of sight of the others. He was after all a dragon, albeit a very small one. They developed a routine that seemed to work for both of them. First thing in the morning Christian would arrive with fruit and nuts which the young dragon seemed to love. They would play for a while and Christian did bear a few scars from OLi’s teeth but he didn’t mind. The dragon was fed again after Christian’s dinner. Basically, whatever Christian ate, so did OLi. It was interesting to discover that the young dragon’s favourite food, was mashed potatoes.

One day Christian noticed that his little sister had put ribbons on her dolls. They looked pretty and helped her identify which one was which. So, without thinking he pinched one. It was a beautiful purple and he thought it might look good on OLi’s tail.  OLi didn’t agree. If you weren’t a young dragon snapping at a ribbon that is now dangling from your tail, you might find the whole situation quite funny. Christian did. OLi performed some quite amazing aerobatics trying to get away from this purple thing and from another’s perspective it was quite spectacular. Maybe he was learning something. When he finally came down to the ground, he sniffed at this purple thing hanging from his tail and he seemed to have a change of heart. This was his.

Unfortunately, time does not stand still. Even for young boys and their young friends. OLi was growing. He had learned to fly all by himself and while his takeoff wasn’t the best, he was pretty good in the air. He also hasn’t figured out the fine art of fire breathing, which, given that there was a lot of hay around, that was a good thing.  He rarely left the barn but it was pretty big so that was OK. Something else Christian noticed: there were no barn mice or rats. He thought he probably shouldn’t think too hard about it. OLi was in this barn all by himself a lot and he never seemed to be hungry.

The days and nights blurred for Christian. He loved his new friend desperately but he also knew that the valley was no place for a dragon. OLi was becoming quite big, although nowhere near as big as a full-grown dragon he was still becoming more than Christian shoulders could handle. It was time. The young boy had a plan. He would tell his family he was going to stay with a friend for a few days and he and his dragon would climb the mountain. OLi would go home.

It took it several days but Christian and OLi made it to the summit of the mountain. Christian dared not go over the top but he encouraged his young friend to seek his own kind. It’s almost as if the dragon didn’t want to leave. He butted his head into Christian’s arm and wrapped his wings around his hands, his version of an embrace. But he was intrigued by the sounds coming from the top of the mountain and the glimpses he could see of the full-grown dragons. Eventually he did go. And Christian stumbled down the mountain barely able to see with the tears in his eyes. He knew he had done the right thing and he also knew that he would never forget his friend.

As the years went by, Christian often thought of OLi. He wondered if he had been accepted by his tribe and how big he had grown. He would look up towards the mountain top and think of his friend looking back. He never forgot.

Over time memories change. Truths become myths and myths often distort the truth.  People remembered that once upon a time there were dragons. But the general belief was that they had died or left. No one had seen one in so very long. Except of course for Christian but had he kept his secret carefully hidden. The valley grew prosperous. People had time to indulge. And with that indulgence came complacency. Never a good combination. Young men started to wonder about the dragons that no longer existed. Eventually they wondered too much and decided that they would find out for themselves. They decided to climb the mountain. They didn’t make any preparations because they didn’t think there was anything dangerous at the top. They were wrong.

Seven young men in their prime left the valley that morning. No one knows for sure what happened because the four that made it back three days later were so filled with terror that they would not speak of it. But there was a growing concern that the myths were true. A gloom entered the valley. People looked to the skies more often and with trepidation. The air seemed to quiver with anticipation and it wasn’t a good kind.

Christian looked at the pitchfork in his hand. What was he thinking? How could you fight off angry, fire breathing dragons with a pitchfork? The minutes ticked by. He ran a hand over his eyes, shaking his head. He didn’t understand why it hadn’t happened. They had heard the dragons coming. The sky was black with them and red.  Fire. The children ran to the wells to get buckets of water. The adults ran for tools, weapons, anything to protect themselves. But at the last minute one dragon had broken free. He came straight at Christian’s farm. When the others turned to follow him, he took a stand. He breathed fire on his own kind! He protected Christian’s farm, his family!  Why?

The other dragons took flight. Perhaps they had grown tired of their sport and returned to the mountain. All except one. The one that had protected Christian landed in his field and stood there. He wasn’t menacing. He looked almost sad. Could it be? Is it at all possible? Christian put down his pitchfork and moved slowly towards the dragon. He heard the gasps behind him but he ignored them.

“OLi?”  He whispered, “Is it you?”

The dragon put his big head down just the way he had when he was small.  He used to invite Christian to rub his forehead. And now he did it again.

“OLi!”  Christian cried and he ran to his dear friend. It had been so long but he had never forgotten. And apparently neither had OLi. The dragon wrapped his huge wings around his friend in such a tender embrace that people wept. For a few moments they held each other. Christian felt something warm touch his hand and he instinctively grasped it.  Then OLi backed slowly away and with one more nod he took to the sky.  He glanced back just once and then was gone.

Tears streamed down Christian’s face.  “Goodbye my friend,” he whispered to the wind. He glanced down at his clenched fist and slowly opened it. There nestled gently in the palm of his hand was a faded and slightly scorched purple ribbon.