Garden-variety hypocrite

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Not a Garden Guru

My dad was a farmer before he was a teacher, but good old Michigan muck stayed (figuratively) under his fingernails for his entire life. Till he was in his seventies, Dad raised glorious vegetables in the not-quite-up-to-snuff Wisconsin soil.
My mom took care of plotting and planting and caring for flower beds.
Gardening is in my blood.
Unfortunately some cosmic leach sucks it out at regular intervals.
Those green cells build up enough for me to engage in a spring planting frenzy before the siphoning off process begins again sometime after the summer solstice.
Several years of throwing random perennials here and stuffing the earth with various bushes there could almost make one think I understand how to put my concepts of beauty into practice. It would be hypocritical to let that thought linger.

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It’s the mechanics of gardening that elude me.

Not a Grammar Guru Either

As a voracious reader from age 5 upward, syntax and grammar and punctuation and spelling entered my psyche by default and constant reinforcement.
So do sentence rhythm, appropriate locations for apostrophes and commas, and which(not witch) hear/here or there/they’re/their fits where(not wear).
If the subject and verb don’t agree I automatically sense dissension. After all, subjects and predicates and I have been interacting for well over half a century.

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The look and feel of good grammar branded itself into my brain.
Yet some unscaleable wall exists between the part of my mind that knows what is right and the part that comprehends how that rightness is achieved.
It’s the mechanics of grammar that eludes me.

(Everything to do with mechanics eludes me. Mathematics and analytics and order and reason. The leetle gray cells are so leetle and gray that I’m pretty certain I sneezed them out during long addition in second grade.)

Recently, my 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class labored over a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. My helper was the high school sophomore sister of one of my students. When she checked her little sister’s work she snorted in disgust.
“Your sentence is ridiculous. Look, there’s a comma. It means a clause follows and YOU NEED A VERB IN THERE.” Because, you know, even the lower orders of mammals comprehend the grammar rule that a clause preceded by a comma requires a subject and predicate.SONY DSC

Never in a million years would I have written that sentence incorrectly, and never in 2 million would the reason for it rolled off my tongue as glibly as it did from a 16-year-old’s.

 

Hypocrisy Guru? Maybe…

I’m a hypocrite, people.
Last year I did a few posts on the “Garden of Grammar” where I exposed the errors and shoddy language practices that drive a grammarian right up and over the garden gate. But I am neither a gardener nor a grammarian. The snooty grammar guru-type posts were written while I wielded a false spade and hid behind a fake set of gardener gloves.
Yes, I can tell at a glance a rose from a dahlia from a marigold, a cuke from a zucchini from a pattypan, a contraction from a plural from a plural possessive.

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No, I don’t know what kind of soil each plant grows best in or how to prune them or fertilize them or identify leaf moulds.
No, I can’t diagram a sentence or easily conjugate a verb.

But. Oh glorious day. I don’t need to grow a rose to know how one smells or looks and I don’t need to name a non-defining relative clause to correctly utilize it to enrich and clarify my sentences.

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So forgive me for the hypocrisy. Please don’t come to me for the finer points of grammar technicalities, or to ask for tips on raising day lilies. But I’ll be happy to tell you if your garden—or your grammar use—are things of beauty and precision and care.

You’re not doing it right

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Ever hear of Bulletproof coffee? My boys introduced me. Start with rich, dark coffee, add approximately equal parts of coconut oil and butter, blend really REALLY well (trust me on this) and enjoy. Sound simple?
Forget it.
If you follow my directions, you’re not doing it right.

DOING IT RIGHT? HA!
Notice my instructions were vague? Dark, rich coffee. Forget about it. To do it right, according various online sites, you can’t just use the brand you bought on sale at the supermarket. Nope. Fairtrade, organic, low-toxin beans are the way to go.
Use $1.99/pound butter? Are you KIDDING ME? Grass fed all the way, baby. Unsalted.
Make sure to buy the coconut oil that boosts your brain power. I forget what it’s called.

 

Please hop on over to Heart”wings” via the link below to read the rest of the story!

http://www.heartwingsblog.com/2018/07/youre-not-doing-it-right/#comment-11154

#youtoo

#youtoo

You must have heard of this one. It’s more extensive than the #metoo campaign. #youtoo transcends race and gender and political parties. It’s in history books and news, both fake and not-quite-fake. It positively blankets social media. We don’t necessarily brag about it, but goodness gracious. We sure do practice it.

We’ve been adherents since we were children. The first time I remember engaging in #youtoo, I was about 4.
That rude gesture—the sticking out of the tongue, sometimes accompanied by a “NYA-nya” sound (difficult to articulate perfectly while the lips were occupied with keeping the tongue extended)—was strictly forbidden.
In case you got lost in the syntax of the previous sentence—I was ordered to NEVER stick out my tongue.

Then my cousin came to visit. My older, cleverer, mischievous cousin. She drove me to distraction one day by being older and cleverer. And more mischievous. So I chased her around the house.
She beat me to her car, leapt in, locked the doors and stuck out her tongue.
AhHA! An unwritten rule in my code of conduct was that when an older cousin disobeyed any commandment, all bets were off.
The command was null and void.

I stuck my tongue out at her.
Whereupon she promptly shouted with glee. I heard her through the closed window and knew that somehow something had gone wrong.

“I’m telling! You stuck out your tongue!”

I couldn’t deny it. But there was that null-and-void addendum.
“You did too! You stuck yours out first!”

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“No I didn’t! I pulled my bottom lip down and stuck it on the window!” She demonstrated. It did sort of resemble a stuck-out tongue. She was fairly dancing with delight as she exited the car to head for the nearest authority figure.

Cousin could have been pulling my leg. It still is a leg undeniably easy to pull. But all I remember was the dread knowledge that now I was in for it. How to explain YOU TOO to the first authority figure on the scene?
YOU TOO=any infraction of any rule is sanctioned when someone else of equal or greater stature does the infraction also. Try explaining that with a 4 year old’s vocabulary.

4 year olds still practice YOU TOO. So do 40 year old politicians and 400 year old nations.
We may not say harsh words in the course of an argument. Unless someone else says them.
We cheat on income tax because everyone else does.
We don’t declare war. Unless someone else does. Or at least does something warlike.
“You started it!”

#youtoo has always been around. Look at Adam and Eve, for goodness sake.

Instead of comparing our own rule-breaking, our own infractions of codes, our own sin, against the righteousness of God, we compare to others. If they are doing it too, we might not be any better than them, but at least we are no worse.

Dear Lord. We are sowing the wind with our devilry and reaping the whirlwind of compounded evil. All because of “You too!”

“Conservatives, you are cruel to immigrants.”
“But liberals, we have proof that your politicians are too.”

“Democrats, you support killing innocent children. Look at abortion.”
“Republicans, you support killing innocent children. Look at your illegal wars.”

“Women, you are demanding rights based solely on your gender.”
“Give us a break, men! You think you don’t do the same thing?”

Europe accuses the U.S. of discriminatory practices against minorities and the U.S. can point to a thousand years of mistreatment against the Romani people.
The United States North snips at the United States South about various procedures and policies and prejudices and the South, with good cause, can point out plenty of examples where the North does the same thing, just dressed up differently.

And nobody changes and nothing gets better because as long as someone of equal or greater stature is doing something similar, we don’t have to quit.

The world points at Christians for hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness and ignorance and Christians point back and—
Whoa. Wait a minute. This is where it has to stop.
Christians, of all people, are the ones who cannot point the finger and say “YOU TOO!”
The only standard to compare ourselves with is the one our God has set for us.
When someone else breaks a rule, that rule isn’t null and void for us.

We’re different, my brothers and sisters.
We can’t use anyone else’s sins to justify our own.
Instead, let’s take a giant step back from #youtoo.
Maybe, at least in the household of faith, it will go the way of #Jeb!2016 or #travelingpantsuit.

 

Touch with your eyes

Eyes

I had three boys in under five years. Not a particularly noteworthy feat, but enough to keep me wavering between “on my toes” and “off-balance.”
Especially in the store.

So as not to be forbidden access at every establishment we frequented, I told my boys repeatedly to “touch with your eyes.” This meant they could admire toys, bouncy balls and jars of jam via the sense of sight only. NO TOUCHING.

My draconian shopping rule got us through the childhood years without leaving a wake of scattered toys, rogue bouncy balls and broken glass.

Today I don’t think my grandsons need to be told to touch with their eyes.
EVERYONE touches with their eyes.
We have no choice.
Physical stores are closing their doors left and right.
We shop online and examine merchandise with nothing but our sense of sight.

Online shopping is convenient. I get that. Harried parents don’t need to drag cranky children from one store to the next looking for the perfect birthday gift, for the right size pair of shoes, for a bag of apples. No worries about little ones breaking things, or the necessity to frisk them before leaving the store for pilfered gum, candy or bouncy balls.

But now we grownups have to touch with our eyes too. One of my favorite department stores declared bankruptcy and a few boutique clothing shops I like went belly-up.
Just when I need a scarf to match a greenish skirt for a wedding, my real store options are shriveling. Online shopping it is.
I’m not sure if the skirt is Aqua or Turquoise or something between. Emerald maybe? All these colors and more are available from online scarf world. There’s one greenish scarf that looks close. Maybe if I hold the skirt up to the computer screen— The color is called Gloaming. (Gloaming?) Maybe it matches. Or maybe it doesn’t.

What will the scarf feel like around my neck? I’m the type driven to violent distraction by tags the scratch and have had to stitch up more necklines than I care to admit. My eyes tell me the fabric of the Gloaming-colored scarf  is “lightweight woven viscose.”
But my fingers have no knowledge of how viscose, lightweight or otherwise, feels.
I’m touching with my eyes but these fearfully and wonderfully made orbs have limitations.

How can I tell, looking at an online image, what a “Homesick” candle smells like? Would I enjoy the mix that makes “Honey Lavender,” or would it be too sweet? My nose might get confused in a candle shop, as I take off lids of jars and sniff each candle, but it is a happy confusion.

Smooth wood, rough wool, cool leather, fragrant perfumes and silken nightgowns; delicate lace, crinkling cellophane, and mouth-watering chocolate wafting from the candy counter. The physical store is a smorgasbord for the senses.

There’s plenty to see when shopping online, and sometimes even to hear. But the rest of my senses are itching for new sensations. I hope real, actual, brick and mortar stores aren’t soon as hard to find as Jiffy Frosting Mix. (Yes, it’s true. Jiffy discontinued their boxes of white and chocolate icing and I am bereft.)

Anyone want to come over while I hold the scarf option on my laptop under my chin? Tell me if Gloaming brings out the color of my eyes.

The Chatterbox

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Jesus took 3 disciples up a mountain.
 His clothes became white as light,
 God spoke audibly from heaven,
 and Moses and Elijah, who had been dead several hundreds of years, came to discuss issues of life and especially death with Jesus. (Read about it in Mark 9.)

It appears that while these three phenomenal, unprecedented events were occurring, James and John stood silent.
 Then we have Peter.
 He suggested they build tents and camp out up there. With the Son of God and…the guys who had died.

WHY this inane comment?
Because “he did not know what to say…”

Say friends, I’m over at Heart”wings” today.

I hope you can hop on over to read the rest of the story.

http://www.heartwingsblog.com/2018/06/grace-for-the-chatterbox/

Combo Plate

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Something good, linked via “and” with something else good, becomes twice as nice.
Love and marriage, bacon and eggs, buttons and bows, Mickey and Minnie.
A lot of my favorite things double their pleasantness when I join them.
I started a list of some favorite combos, old and new. (The new haven’t replaced the old. Just joined them to make an even more superior combo.)

Favorite Combos by the Prude

Quote and the reason
New: “I have made this letter longer than usual only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Blaise Pascal)
And I am always in a frenzy of word-cutting to get my manuscripts pared down to the required length.
Old: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried nor the last by whom the old is laid aside” (My father quoting his father quoting someone else.)
And it kept me from being trendy, gave me a horror of group-think, and helped me fight an inborn tendency to stodginess.

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Dad, trying a new combo of his own

Beverage and concurrent activity while imbibing
New: Bulletproof coffee and watching local news
Old (very old. 1970’s old) Diet Dr. Pepper and sunbathing

Author and character
New: Patricia Wentworth and Miss Maud Silver
Old: Josephine Tey and Inspector Grant

Color combination
New: Sage and red
Old: Sunshine yellow and cobalt blue

Sacred song and place to sing it
New: “Merciful God”* and a worship service with my brothers and sisters
Old: “How Great Thou Art”** and a country road, walking, as a melancholy teen. Feeling all nature-y.

Word & its association
New: Hiraeth—A nameless longing and homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that never was. And the longing for a Home that we’ve never seen.
Old: Serendipity—A happy accident. And my dad explaining the meaning.

Entertainment and simultaneous drudgery task
New: Old B&W Falcon or Charlie Chan detective movies and ironing.
Old: “A Christmas Carol” (1938 or 1951 versions) at midnight and wrapping Christmas gifts.

Flowers
New: Any color and any other color as long as it results in a riot of color
Old:  Wild chicory and Queen Anne’s LaceSONY DSC

Scents
New: Balsam and Cedar
Old: Pumpkin and Spice

Flavor
New: Dark chocolate caramel and sea salt
Old: Clotted cream and jam

Food
New: Naked cheese curds and ranch dip (Wisconsin is basically bathed in ranch dip)
Old: Chili and cold white milk

Poem and location to read/recite it
New: “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
and sitting on the patio just after sunset when it is still light enough to read. With feet propped up on the sandbox.SONY DSC
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Old: “Irish Peasant Song” by Louise Imogen Guiney and walking along country roads being melancholy. (no car as a teenager meant my pensive self was resigned to moody trudges along country roads.)

Version 2

This is it. The road I walked along as a melancholy teen, reciting poetry and singing hymns. Sort of the opposite of Betty and Veronica

I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while/ Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile;/ Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all/ 
Why from me that’s young should the wild tears fall?



The shower-sodden earth, the earth-colored streams/  
They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams/ 
And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall/ 
It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.

The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill/ 
And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still/  
But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call/  
The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!

There you go. Some of my favorite combo plates. Got any others you can share?

*Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend

**Carl Boberg

Grand Old Flag

 

SONY DSCIt’s almost Flag Day folks! I’m gettin’ my stars and stripes on this Thursday, June 14, and you know why?
Because it’s also Granny’s Preschool day and I couldn’t think of another topic.

Truly, I love my country and what my flag stands for. But I don’t usually spend much time thinking about Flag Day. Saving that burst of red, white and blue for 4th of July, don’t you know.

But since small people expect me to teach them something on Thursday—or at least I like to pretend they sit at my feet thirsting after knowledge—I’ve done some research on Old Glory. It really is a Grand Old Flag.

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First:
I don’t care what anyone says. I’m choosing to believe Betsy Ross stitched the flag after a visit from George Washington. If you try to reason with me about this I’ll turn on the song “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” and sing along at full throttle.*

Second:
Why the song “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground”?
Thank you for asking. It has SUCH A COOL STORY.
William Carney, slave born, soldier in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, was the first African-American to receive the Medal of Honor.
During the Battle of Fort Wagner in 1863, under heavy fire, the color guard for Carney’s regiment was killed. Carney caught up the flag.images-2
On hands and knees, under heavy fire and with multiple serious injuries, Sgt. Carney crawled back to his regiment, making certain that the flag never touched the ground.

If you want to know more about this lovely and honorable man please look him up. He is worth your time.
Sgt. William Carney is my new love, (almost but not quite displacing Elihu Washburne). He also puts me to shame. That kind of respect for the flag and what it is meant to represent? I fall so far short.

Third:
Martin Van Buren was the first president born under the flag we know as the Stars and Stripes. Please don’t tell me what what an ineffective president he was.

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-His name was Martin. So was my dad’s.
-He was Dutch. Prick me and I bleed tulips and windmill cookies.
-His hometown is Kinderhook, New York. How can you not love a town called Kinderhook? And all its native sons and daughters?

Fourth:
The idea of Flag Day was birthed by a Wisconsin schoolteacher. I am a Wisconsin schoolteacher! (emeritus)

Fifth:
(because don’t you sort of like the idea that the U.S. isn’t quite like any place else on earth?)
We are the only country that officially pledges allegiance to the flag. Our national anthem is in homage to it, Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” honors it, we have laws protecting it and societies that tell us how to handle it. No other country does any of the aforementioned. Oh yeah. Our flag is our brand.

Sixth:                                                                                                                                                     The current pattern incorporating the 50 stars on the blue field was designed as a class project by a high schooler. He got a B-minus.

There’s so much more to learn about the flag of the United States of America.
At Granny’s Preschool we’ll probably recite the Pledge of Allegiance, do a stars and stripes craft, hear the apocryphal story of Betsy Ross and eat red, white and blue food.
But I hope that my grandchildren will begin to grasp the meaning of the flag. They’ll learn that not everything done in its name is decent or honorable or right, and many people don’t so much wave it as wield it. But what it stands for now is what it was always supposed to stand for. Liberty and justice for all.
I hope these little ones grow up willing to contend for all the good and true things Old Glory represents.

SONY DSC*This is an idle and empty threat. I can’t find any recording of “Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” and therefore can’t sing it at any volume. Although I could recite the lyrics at the top of my voice…