Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ellipses...My Forever Friend!'s time to confess. I'm having an affair with "Ellipses" and have been for quite some time. Ellipses - you know - the dot, dot, dot that you see used more and more in people's writings? Oh, I've always been a huge fan, but it's grown into an everyday thing for me. I can hardly live without them anymore.

Actually, I'm kind of proud that in my first paragraph here, I haven't used them at all! The truth is that I used them 4 times in my first time through that paragraph, and had to hit the backspace button 12 times! But now I can openly say it....I'm in love with Ellipses and I don't care who knows!

I was pleased to find that it's NOT just me. My son has the same obsession...and other family members, too! Perhaps it's genetic. Yesterday, I came across an article written by my friend, Eileen, and I so wish I had written it. It made everything better...and made me laugh out loud...enjoy! (Arg! Twice in one sentence!)

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Going Cold Turkey on National Punctuation Day 
I know it’s wrong to use it in such a way, and I know that it’s become a crutch, but I must admit that I’ve been having an illegitimate love affair with the ellipses for years now. Surely, I thought, I could find a support group among the many writers who have been similarly led down this particular primrose path of pauses, but alas … none existed.

Not to be dissuaded, I set out and started my own support group called "Ellipses … Anonymous." I invited everyone to my house at 2000 W. Maple … a place, I must confess, I bought for the address alone … and I served M&Ms in batches of three. However the people who showed up tended to trail off midway through their stories, or stopped abruptly before staring off into space, which seemed appropriate but really stymied the healing process. It was … daunting.

I found myself wandering the streets that night, talking to myself, binging on one story after another without end, drinking deep from the nectar of incomplete thoughts until … I hit rock bottom.

It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t pause for breath in my prose without automatically hitting dot-dot-dot. I was ravenous … a wild animal on the prowl for a pregnant pause, a thoughtful moment or a half-baked idea so I could swoop in and get my fix. I was putting ellipses where a comma would suffice … ellipses when an em dash would do the trick … ellipses when a yadayadayada would convey the same idea. It was all too much and I collapsed under the pressure.

I woke up the next morning in the gutter outside of a Barnes and Noble, gripping my beat-up copy of "Love is…" poems and staring in the face of one harsh reality … I needed help.

I got up out of the gutter, flipped open my laptop and started writing … hair of the dog and all that jazz. What I was after was a mantra to get me through the tough spots, those times where it’s just so … tempting (damn!) to use that one, single punctuation, albeit incorrectly. I needed a higher power to see me through, and … amazingly … this little beauty fell out of the sky like a penny … or coin … from Heaven:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the proper uses for the ellipses;
Courage to use it when I should and deny myself when I shouldn’t;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Doesn’t it seem appropriate, then, that today, National Punctuation Day, would be my quit day? I have decided to go cold turkey. No more ellipses for me. I’m clean and sober starting now of course that means I can’t use any punctuation for fear that the pause in and of itself would throw me headlong into a full blown relapse from which I might never recover until I could once again use my beloved and reliable ellipses just saying the word makes this all the more harder until I simply … break … down.

They say that admitting the problem is half the battle, and I’m counting on that to be true. But right now, I have an inexplicable desire to learn Morse code and eat M&Ms. And besides, as my friend Scarlett once said … "Tomorrow is another day." *

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Oh, Eileen, that was....fabulous! I do have to say though, I'm not quite at the same stage of my addiction as you are, my friend. And I just can't give them up quite yet...I just can't!

Truthfully, I think it's better than being one of those folks who underlines everything...or uses CAPS FOR EVERYTHING...or bolds everything! Those folks are just plain sick!

*Eileen Burmeister is a corporate writer and editor by day, humor columnist by night, and a wife and mother around the clock. She lives, works, and writes in Southern Oregon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Plugged in Again!

I've often made fun of those crazy people whose lives revolve around their cell phones and the information they can access through them. And now...I'm afraid that I've become one of those crazies!

After drowning mine, Verizon fixed me up with a loaner phone, which was....better than nothing. But because I lost all my contacts, the technician gave me Paul's list which included a few family numbers, so that helped ease my pain. But, little did I know that when I erased a contact on my new loaner phone, it disappeared off Paul's phone too because they were linked through HIS G-mail account. (Why don't they tell you those things?) And, let me tell you, I DELETED! I zapped out names of legislators, lawyers, lobbiests, teachers, neighbors, implement dealers, salesmen.......oops!

Long story short, I now have my new phone....and the genius technician was kind enough to save our marriage by retrieving Paul's contacts for him from an old phone. Whew!

I'm pleased to be plugged in again. And I made a promise and repeated it out loud to Floyd (my Droid). "On my honor, I will do my duty to be much more careful. I promise not to drop, lose, drowned or mistreat you."

Like my friend Lisa might say, "At least I know I'm crazy!"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere!'s a new day and I'm not as cautious as I was a few days ago when I left my cell phone and my camera on shore as we launched the new canoe.

Today I drown my cell phone in the gentle cycle of my washing machine with a load of summer whites and Tide Mountain Spring.....

I tried Googling my problem:

"Your phone will probably not be too damaged if you take it out of the water right away. A longer period of immersion, such as being in the washing machine cycle, (oops!) will be cause for more alarm but it is still worth trying the following steps before giving up completely."

How to save a wet cell phone:

  1. Remove the battery

  2. Remove the SIM card

  3. Remove all other peripherals and covers that can be removed.

  4. Dry your phone. If there is even one drop of water left inside, it can ruin your phone by corroding it and making the wrong contact.

  5. Use a vacuum cleaner if possible. If you want to try and suck the liquid out of the inner parts of the phone, try using a vacuum cleaner. Remove all residual moisture by drawing it away with a vacuum cleaner held over the affected areas for up to 20 minutes, in each accessible area (take it in turns with a friend). This is the fastest method and can completely dry out your phone and get it working in thirty minutes. However, unless the exposure to water was extremely short, it's not recommended to attempt to turn your phone on this soon. Be careful not to hold the vacuum too close to the phone, as a vacuum can create static electricity, which is even worse for the phone.

  6. Contrary to common advice, it is not recommended that you use a hair dryer (not even on the "cold" mode) to dry out the phone. Using a hair dryer may force moisture further into the small components, deep inside the phone, as the air blows inward.
    Use a substance with a high affinity for water to help draw out moisture. Leave the phone in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice overnight. The rice would absorb any remaining moisture.

  7. Let the phone sit on absorbent towels, napkin, or other paper.
    Test your phone. After you have waited at least 24 hours, or longer if possible, check to see that everything on and in your cell phone is clean and looks dry.

I'm hoping our top notch insurance policy will kick in and I'll have a phone soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Launch

I've never wanted a motorcycle, or a snowmobile or even a speed boat. But for a long time now, I've really wanted a canoe. A nice small canoe...and a couple paddles.

As a kid, I did a lot of canoeing and really loved the way I could slip through the water hardly making a sound, watching the shoreline and the sky above. I remember drifting along a glass-top lake, looking down below into the shimmering green loveliness of Waterworld. Ahhhh... that was living! My dad taught me everything I needed to know about canoeing...from the launching to the landing...and I remember it all.

Paul doesn't have any history with canoes and never really shared my desire to be an owner.

Quite by accident, I came across a canoe for sale a few weeks back. The price was right and I bought it right then and there. I called Paul and I asked him to guess what grand purchase I had made, hinting that it was something I'd wanted for a long time. He guessed a paddleboat. (Oh, yeah, I've always wanted one of those, too.) I'll just say, he had very little reaction when I told him all about my fabulous find.

We finally got it home, parked it on Blazin' Pond (a sweet little lake in our pasture) and waited for that first calm night to come along. Yesterday, we agreed that it was launch day. Just to be safe, we left our cell phones and my pocket camera on shore. I didn't really think we needed to be quite so careful, but we strapped on life jackets and told each other that it was a good idea.

Now, I'm no Pocahontas, but I do know how to launch a canoe, so I'm not sure how I let Paul talk me into doing it 'his way.' But we did it 'his way.' Maybe I was just so glad that he was going along with my plan to get out on that beautiful pond at sunset. Whatever the reason, 'his way' didn't work and before we had gone three feet, we capsized! I remember yelling, "What are you doing back there?" just before we tipped into the cool, slimy muckiness of Waterworld. Visions of leeches and snapping turtles raced through my brain and we both scurried ashore and attempted to pull the water-filled canoe up the bank.

Dripping wet, we stared at each other in silence for a few seconds. For starters, I thought about lecturing him on canoe handling techniques. I know exactly what he was preparing to say to me...I could see it in his eyes!

We emerged from the silence................and laughed!

Perhaps it has something to do with being married 40 years!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Little Treasure

A few years ago we did some work on this 100-year-old farmhouse. The crew of guys working on the project joked about finding money in the walls. Every day when I'd come home from work, I'd ask them where they piled the money, and every day they'd shake their heads and say, "Just more newspaper and bat crap." One day they pointed to a little pile of things they had uncovered....and in the pile was this little old book.

It had a strange picture on the cover of a baby holding a bottle and sitting by a chicken. The word 'ALBUM' looked to be written in a Japanese font and was outlined with shiny gold foil swirls. I was thrilled to sit down with my new treasure and open its pages, hoping to find old family photographs...and yes, some old currency pressed between its dusty pages. I found neither.

Do you remember autograph books? That's what this album really is and as I paged through it, I realized that it belonged to my husband's grandmother, Mary Jackson, and her sisters, Clara & Edna. Turns out it was a Christmas gift to the three girls from their teacher, Minnie Olson. (Wow, they had to share?) It was filled with little verses and writings in fountain pen and pencil from schoolmates who attended the Glenwood Academy back in the early 1900s.

Each entry was dated and signed, and many of the kids included the names of their hometowns -- all small villages within 60 miles of the school. What fascinated me was not only the superb penmanship, but the content of writings. When I was 10 or 11 years old, my friends and I all had autograph books. But when we exchanged them, we wrote silly things to each other like this:

When you get old,
And think you're sweet,
Take off your shoes,
And smell your feet.

But I'll tell you what, these verses, written in the early 1900s, had a much different flavor. Here are couple samples:

When angels pull the curtain,
And pin it with a star,
Remember you have a friend
Tho' she may wander far.

When the golden sun is setting
And your heart from care is free,
When o'er thousand things you're thinking,
Will you sometimes think of me?

I had forgotten how many of these verses referred to death...the final curtain...the golden sunset. As I read through them again recently, it made me wonder if these kids really thought that much about dying at these tender young ages. Or maybe death was just something that people commonly used as subjects of their poems and personal writings? Were these verses just some standard pieces they practiced in their penmanship class or recited for their teachers? I'm really not sure. Didn't these young people feel I did at that stage of my life?

I did find a couple with some humor woven into their lines - like the one written on January 26, 1910 by the girls' friend, Bertha, a Glenwood girl:

I eat when I'm hungry
I drink when I'm dry
If a tree don't fall on me,
I'll live 'til I die.

The girls even let their brother, Claude, write on a page:

Be kind and be gentle
To those who are old...
For kindness is dearer
And better than gold.

Mary, who was ready to graduate, wrote to her sisters on January 28, 1906:

Dear Sisters Clara and Edna,
Childhood is a bough where slumbered
Buds and blosoms many numbered
Bloom on and make forever
The world more fair and sweet.
Your loving sister,
Mary D. Jackson

Almost sounds like she was bidding her childhood good-bye, doesn't it?

Here's one from Adolph. Now this kid was a thinker...

The hours are viewless angels
That still go gliding by
And bear each minute's records up
To Him who sits on high.

Contemplate the meaning of this kind of 'stumped' me. It's not a beautiful image...not a particularly deep thought.

Put a stick in memory's woodbox for me.
Your Friend,

At the book's end there was one page written in Norwegian by a girl named Peggy. I tried Googling the words but came up empty. I'll have to bring my little treasure to church next Sunday and find someone who can translate. If I'm successful, I'll let you know...

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Memory...

Sarah Hoidahl passed away Sunday, January 16, 2011 at the age of 33. Sarah began working at American Solutions for Business in 1997, beginning her career as a home office team member and most recently becoming a sales associate, serving clients in West Central Minnesota. Sympathy to Sarah's family, including her husband and two young children. God bless them!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Precious Gift

I didn't write this...but wanted to share it with you...have a Merry Christmas!

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.' Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed.

We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door.

'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'

Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.

I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children.'