There's Something About August
There’s something about August. Especially late August. The air is cooler and dryer. The sun sets a little earlier. Gardens are being harvested. Summer vacations are drawing to a close. Kids are returning home from camps. Fair season has begun. Back to school is lurking around the corner. Even though there are still many warm days ahead, there is also a sudden feeling that the first small step into autumn was taken.
There is something about August. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Yet, this something is a pleasant sort of something. Maybe you don’t feel the same and that’s fine. Every month has it’s own particular vibe and things we associate with a given month. You know, like back to school in September, pumpkins and Halloween in October, special holidays in December and so on throughout the year.
For me, there is still something about August beyond all that I’ve mentioned so far. Maybe it’s a metaphysical thing. When there is no other concrete explanation, we can always attribute things to the planets being out of alignment, eclipses, solar flares, meteor showers, the aurora borealis. Pick one. My personal preference is whatever my imagination conjures up on any given day. So, as I write this, let’s go with the fact that August and Autumn have the same first, second and fourth letters. What can I conclude from that? Perhaps, the best of August merges with the best of Autumn to create a unique vibe in the air. Okay. That’s kind of out there. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.
If you are like me, I always want to understand how and why things happen or are the way they are. Perhaps we don’t always need to know. Perhaps it is enough to simply accept, enjoy and appreciate what is.
Just one more thing. I came across this unusual day in August. If you’ve had any encounters with zucchini you will appreciate this. August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbors’ Porch Day. Personally, I would designate all of August as Make Zucchini Disappear month.*
*Up Not Down On The Farm recounts my foray through horticultural hell staving off a zucchini onslaught.
Comments are always welcomed.
Verbs For Breakfast
When you sit down to breakfast, how often do you say to yourself, “How many verbs will I be eating this morning?” Never, right? Who would ever think that? In what alternate universe would that be an issue? Who even cares? Well, here’s how the bizarre idea of food verbs came into my consciousness. I subscribe to Merriam-Webster’s word of the day. In their daily newsletter are a number of interesting, unusual facts and concepts. One morning, M-W’s word of the day came in followed by the phrase, 13 breakfast foods that are verbs. My immediate response was, “Say what? Seriously?” Curiosity got the better of me so I read on.
Before I continue, I will apologize ahead of time for any use of these verbs that are real groaners. It is so tempting to milk some of the food items in the worst ways, but I will refrain from hamming things up too much. I did hash over the list to see how to incorporate all of it in this blog. Okay. Enough. I will no longer fritter away my time and yours.
The history of these foods both as nouns and subsequently verbs was quite fascinating to learn. While pancake as a noun came into being in the 13th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to be used as a verb. To pancake someone meant to knock them flat or flatten him. Next we have some obvious ones such as egg used to egg someone on to encourage him to do something foolish. Cream as in defeating decisively came from beating a substance into a creamy or frothy consistency.
Waffle as a verb came from the obsolete woff, which means yelp referring to a puppy that didn’t know what it wanted. From that came waffle meaning indecisive, flip flop, yoyo, waver, etc. The British meaning of waffle is to blather, talk on and on saying nothing.
Surprisingly, sugar as a verb first sweetens the language in the 15th century with the figurative meaning "to make palatable or attractive," as in "a story sugared with romance" or "the gentleman sugared his request with a smile. At one point sugar was used to sweeten a bitter pill, literally. Eventually, we began sugar coating difficult things to make them seem less difficult.
In the 18th century Buttering somebody up was used as flattery. Still is. Jam came from pressing, squeezing, crushing, blocking primarily fruits. Now we might hear how someone jammed everything into a small space, or jamming on the brakes, etc.
The full explanations of all the breakfast verbs was extremely interesting and quite juicy, but too lengthy to describe in a short blog. With that, I will tell you I am now toast. See you next week.
Comments are welcomed.
I am going to get the upside out of the way here because this is about the downside. The upside is that I am grateful to have my electronics and devices. For this story, the downside is about the basics. That includes TV, computer, phone, both land line and cell. Yes, I know land lines are becoming obsolete. However, they still come in handy when all else breaks down. To be more specific, this vent is more about the service providers.
There are two major service providers in the country who compete with each other since they rule the roost. They constantly raise their monthly charges under the guise of providing better service along with improved technology. In some cases the so-called improvements or advancements have made things worse. If you elect not to go along with their changes, the plan you currently have and enjoyed, suddenly gets cut. Either you have to pay more for what you have, or pay your current amount for less services. Whatever options we might choose, we’re screwed.
How they go after your wallet is to offer bundling phone, TV and internet. It’s usually an offer that’s hard to refuse. It all sounds so good when $ signs are dancing around in your head. From what I’ve noticed with friends who have taken those bundling deals, is that when one of the services goes down, they all go down. Consequently, I do not bundle.
Here’s what happened. My phones went dead for about 36 hours. Part of what I do is dependent on phone calls. Don’t worry, I am not a telemarketer. I used my cell to let the provider know. I was put on hold, as usual, to the tune of losing $45 worth of minutes on the cell. BTW, this was the second time the phones went dead in the past few weeks. There had been an issue with the outside lines which was supposedly fixed. Obviously not. I had to wait another 24 hours for a repair person. Ok. There was an upside. I still had internet and TV. Once again it was the outside lines. Hopefully the fix is in for the long haul.
As soon as I heard a dial tone, I phoned the company and asked for compensation for both the dead phone time and cell phone loss. The upside was they did make an adjustment on my phone bill, crediting me for an entire week. All good, right?
The next morning while watching the news the TV went out. This provider is a different company from the phone company. I knew the issue was an area problem because a friend who has one of those bundles. All their services were down. I phoned the provider to report the situation, which by the way, was the second time this happened in recent weeks. Fortunately, service was restored in a few hours not like the last time which was way longer.
Once service was restored, I did what I’ve gotten into the habit of doing which was to call for compensation for lost service. They did accommodate. The cost of these services increased so much in the past few years they are approaching unaffordable. Consequently, I have no compunction asking for compensation when service fails. The upside is that they have never refused my requests.
At times like this I tend to get a little nostalgic and back to the futurish. There are pros and cons to every decade. Our psyches are best served when we focus and appreciate the good in each era. To paraphrase Jimmy Dean, we can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails to make for smoother sailing.
Comments are welcomed.
Going For Three
Here we are. Plunked into August. That may or may not mean anything to you. However, it’s a big deal to me. I actually find this big deal shocking to my entire being. The reason is all about this business of blogging. A couple of years ago I was searching for some kind of a creative endeavor. The one thing that was available to me was the one thing I was trying to avoid. Isn’t that the way? The things we do our best to avoid have a way of jumping up and biting us. That’s what happened. Ouch!
As part of my avoidance plan I considered learning a new musical instrument. At one time I was fascinated by the dulcimer. A friend had one I borrowed to see if this could be my musical niche. I took a few lessons from Maestro You Tube. I learned the basics rather quickly. Even strummed a few songs. However, after a couple of weeks, ennui set in. The dulcimer experiment was over.
When I was growing up many of us kids were “persuaded” to take piano lessons. What if I revived my piano skills, such as they were? What if I got a small keyboard, I could play at my leisure, or not; whatever my mood fancied? I purchased a just right keyboard that fit into my apartment very unobtrusively. This lack of obtrusiveness made it easy to ignore the just right keyboard. I managed to play a few tunes before outfitting it with a lovely dust cover. Every once in awhile the just right keyboard calls out to me. We make some music together and go our separate ways 'til the next time. The next time has yet to roll around.
There I was, once again faced with the unavoidable – writing. Ugh. The idea of a blog was put before me. There are so many reasons this was a bad idea. Long story short, a lengthy, neurotic internal dialogue ensued. Finally, coming up with a psychologically acceptable exit strategy, gave me the impetus to go for it. Somehow, I managed to go 2 full years without missing a single week. Hoping for the same as I begin year 3.
There are 2 morals to this story:
One: That which we avoid may be exactly what we need to learn, to grow, to expand our awareness, our understanding and our abilities.
Two: Sometimes we are called to do something for a greater purpose. That purpose may not be known to us at the time. Yet, acting on it may lead to something extraordinary.
Comments are welcomed.