BUFF IS FOR CARPENTRY

Men are not buff. Wood can be buffed and sometimes, very beautifully!

This is one of those words that never wander through my brain. I don’t think of men as buff. Handsome, well-built, sexy? Buff to me sounds like something you do with Photoshop to make the picture look better in an expensive fashion magazine. Not a really human thing.

But I do think of buff if I’m thinking about wood finishing. Especially which kind of sandpaper or buffing cloth I need to get that wood as silky as I can. I used to do a lot of that sort of thing, before my son grew up and took away all my tools because I was obviously too helpless to do anything involving tools with sharp edges.

These pictures are very buffed!

It’s not that I’m helpless these days, but I am a bit wobbly. It makes clambering up chairs or step ladders — or hauling heavy stuff around — a bit dicey. Nonetheless, carefully hidden in my hall closet, I have a little  jigsaw and mini power sander … in case I get an uncontrollable urge to carve a piece of local oak.

I know language changes. As a rule, I change with it because that’s how it goes. I have watched American English drift and I don’t always like the drift, but I go with it anyway. Every now and again, a word is used in a way that simply annoys me.

Buff as a description of the human male? That’s one of them. Unless, of course, he used to be a hunk of wood but has now been properly polished and smoothed to an ultra fine finish!

THE FINAL WHAT?

When I saw “final” as the word of the day, I got a chill. In the past two weeks, I have lost at least three friends with more on the way. Not to mention that my email is full of warnings of: “This is the final hour! Send $3 now!”

I fondly hope this isn’t the final hour for all of us, but it has recently been the final hour for more than a few friends and loved ones.  I don’t know how many more are on the special waiting line. I’m hoping that Death is like the guy in Terry Pratchett’s books. Pragmatic, friendly and most of the time, there to give you a hand to find your right place.

It is a strange feeling watching your group of friends grow smaller day by day. My mother told me a long time ago that “You know you are old when you start to lose your friends.”

I thought it was the creepiest thing she ever said. Later, I read a version of the same idea in various books. Mostly memoirs by “famous people.” I thought “There is nothing to prevent this final loss. No money, power, or fame can change it in any way.” It’s not that I thought money, power, or fame would stop the progression of life toward its ending, but I hadn’t given it deep thought.

To a degree, that hasn’t changed. I am pragmatic. I care, but I’m not sticky about it. I’ve come close enough to that line to realize it is never as far away as we might think. Final is. Like life is.  So I don’t brood about it, accept it when news arrives, feel the absence of another person I loved. I get notes from friends about their husbands. From the family of friends. A few really good friends. Others are sick and getting sicker. There won’t be an end to this. Someday, I suppose I’ll be the note in someone’s inbox. I hope it will be a generous and kindly note that skips over my failures and all those times I’ve been an asshole. Try to remember the laughter and humor. It’s the part I worked hardest at.

After all these years, I still don’t know how I feel about this ongoing march from birth to that final hour. When I was in my twenties and we — our group — lost someone, usually to a car accident or another unexpected thing, it shook us badly. We were too young. It wasn’t supposed to happen … was it?

Now it is the way the world rolls.

Final.

Final days of the earth? Final years of democracy? Final end to everything in which I believed? Or just the inevitable shearing off of living people whose time was finished?

If this is final, what does that mean? The final what?

EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY

Bad things happen. People die. War happens. Careers end. What can you say?

“This too shall pass.”

Life is temporary. Our world is temporary. It was my mother’s favorite expression. She said it to comfort me when I was unhappy, if something had gone badly. It never occurred to me the expression was more than common words a mother says to console a child.

It turns out the expression has a long, ancient history. It has been used to comfort a nation at war, a country consumed by unrest. Families, individuals, kingdoms. These are words to use when other words fail you.

king-solomon-cc

This too shall pass” (Persian: این نیز بگذرد‎, Arabic: لا شيء يدوم‎, Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎) is an adage indicating that all conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.

The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. The phrase is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by these simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which has the ability to make the happy man sad — and the sad man happy.

The legend of the quote finds its roots in the court of a powerful eastern Persian ruler who called his sages (wise men) to him, including the Sufi poet Attar of Nishapur, and asked them for one quote that would be accurate at all times and in all situations. The wise men consulted with one another, and threw themselves into deep contemplation, and finally came up with the answer … “This too, shall pass.”

The ruler was so impressed by the quote that he had it inscribed in a ring.

Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The adage and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and also used by Abraham Lincoln in a speech before he became President.

And when words fail me, my mother’s voice echoes in my head.

This too, shall pass. Because everything is temporary. 

PICTURES & WORDS – THURSDAY’S SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: WORDS OF THE WEEK


FROM PAULA:

Here comes another month with a new set of words to choose from. I hope you like the selection and that you will find at least one word to work on.

Here it goes: confined, jazzy, patulous, momentous, serene.


Confined

Jazzy

Patulous

Momentous

Serene


jupiter najnajnoviji

SOPHISTICATED SKEWERING

One of my pieces was posted on a highly political board elsewhere. You can look it up at INTELLIGENCE FOR THE UNINTELLIGENT – AND BANNON.

I gave permission and up it went. Before its time in the sun was complete, it had gotten dozens of responses. Being me, I tried to keep up with all the comments, but by the third day it was obvious the commenters had abandoned me and were arguing with each other. I drifted home to Serendipity.

Exhausting! While overall it was a better experience than (for example) Facebook, with fewer people ranting mindlessly, there were still more than a few of them. As an American, I’m proud to say the craziness was reasonably well-distributed between left and right-wing crazies, although in my opinion, right-wingers spew more bad language than left-wingers. This may be due to a weakness in their vocabulary. I encourage them to work on their language skills so when they spew hate, they can do it with more class and fewer references to fecal matter.

What it did remind me of, in full measure, was how hard it is to have a conversation about anything that matters. It isn’t just politics. It’s everything. The entire population of these fifty United States has hit some kind of edge. We’re all ready to pop. Whether it’s the slow driver blocking the left lane, someone stealing a parking space, or putting down too many items in the “quick” lane at the supermarket, we’re ready to blow up. That is unhealthy and sometimes, dangerous.

Personally, I need to take a breath, step back, and rethink how I deal with this.

I’m terribly unhappy with the political situation at home and almost equally upset at the way the rest of the world is drifting. We seem to be collectively heading for another world war, whether we do it nuclear or just kill each other in more traditional ways. Given what’s on the table here and abroad, it will get worse. Can I live in a state of fraught, hysterical insanity long-term? I don’t think I can. I know I don’t want to.

I’ve disliked a fair number of presidents and other heads of state in multiple countries. Locally, from Nixon, and Reagan (who I mostly missed by being overseas), and then through three terms of two Bushes, that’s a fair number of American presidents I would have happily lived without. Trump is the last and hopefully, the worst. He has raised our national temperature to such a point we are going to need a collective ice bath to just calm the fuck down.

There are people with whom I will never have a civil conversation. The things they say are so far removed from anything in which I believe, there’s no way to have a conversation. People who won’t believe in facts, science, or history, or even English spoken as a language, are not people with whom I’m going to chat pleasantly. Men who think they know what women should do with their bodies? Never going to be a pal of mine. The remainder of people who hold to something resembling rationality, with them, perhaps I can talk. If they don’t directly insult me, maybe I can avoid ranting at them.

Then, there’s the more cultured approach, which I strongly favor. Before we blow up, rage, rant, and foam at the mouth, think about British comedy. That’s where everyone skewers and guts one another without murmuring a single foul word. If they can do it, surely we can too. It’s time we upped the ante on insults. Time to get out of the gutter and move into the parlor. More wit, less raving.

There are so many delicious, witty, and sometimes charming ways to insult each other. Let’s see if we can find some.

You think?

MEANINGLESS? WHAT? YOU WANT ME TO TALK ABOUT MEANINGLESS?

Meaningless? Don’t talk to me about meaningless! 

Allow me to refer you to my most recent post, which I coincidentally published a couple of weeks ago. It really does say it all and I’m not up to saying the whole thing again. I have included the lively center of the post for your perusal.


We spend too much time trying to figure out what life means and too little time doing the stuff we enjoy. I suppose it’s normal to wonder if the reason you are sick, broke, or miserable is the result of something you did or failed to do. Normal, but a waste of time and energy because I’m going to explain everything and you’ll never have to wonder again.

Meaning of life

Learning to accept the randomness of stuff that happens is tough. We want life to make sense. We want order. We want our messes and disasters to be important, meaningful. I’m pretty sure that some god has a message about this.

I’ve put a good bit of thought into why my life has regularly fallen apart. I know I’m imperfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s small potatoes in the scheme of things. Even in my darkest moments I doubt I’m so wicked that The Big Guy has in for me. Then I had an epiphany.

You can believe what you want, but you can’t know any more than I do. Believe as hard as you want. Believing isn’t knowing.

 I KNOW NOTHING. NEITHER DO YOU.

Accepting you know nothing is a big step, so take a deep breath. Your next challenge will be how you can cash in on this new knowledge. What’s the point unless you can awe people with your brilliance — and make a few bucks?

WORDS

You need the right vocabulary to dazzle your audience. Impressively large words (4 or more syllables) in the right context can showcase your education and intelligence. People will make little cooing sounds to show their admiration.

meaning-of-life3

Big words enhance your likelihood of getting a management position. You can write important books. Have a blog like me and I know you want to be just like me. Big words can take you a long way, if you are skilled at deploying them.


I will not repeat the entire post, but if by any chance you missed it — unlikely because I run with this one at least twice a year … it sums up my relationship with philosophy. Who knew it would take an entire lifetime to discover I don’t know anything and neither do you? But you can take a look at it the whole thing: WHEN NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING.

For some obscure reason, knowing nothing really empowers me. Go figure, right?

MINIMALIST

Minimal. Minimalist. Minimalism.

So our government is now a minimalist government, giving our hard-earned money to wherever it shows a profit. Alternatively, perhaps we the Scrooges of the world, the ones who won’t give Tiny Tim’s dad a day off to celebrate Christmas. The line is pretty damned thin.


minimalist
noun
1. a person who advocates or practices minimalism in art or music
2. a person advocating minor or moderate reform in politics.
adjective
1. relating to minimalism in art or music.
2. advocating moderate political policies.

What is the difference between a minimalist and skinflint or cheapskate? Is there a difference? I live in a world where we suddenly can’t afford to give elderly people a hot meal, or hungry kids a hot lunch. Or medicine to poor people who are sick.

Maybe that’s minimalist. I think it’s just cheap. Twisted and sick beyond words. But hey, that’s me. I never minded paying a few more dollars so that people who needed help could get some. I never thought the idea of helping others was a bad thing.


skin·flint (noun) informal

  1. A person who spends as little money as possible; a miser;
  2. Synonyms: miser, penny-pincher, Scrooge, pinchpenny; and more

What do you think? Does our military actually need another $54 billion (is it billions)? I keep losing some of the zeroes on the dollars. You know, the military didn’t ask for all that money. I’m betting a lot of military guys would be happier knowing their elderly relatives will get a hot meal.

Lord knows, the guys in Washington get lots of hot meals. Every day. Big ones. The best medical care on earth. A salary that will never go away. Unlimited sick days.

I don’t see them giving their goodies away. Even in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge didn’t keep the goodies for himself. He lived the way he thought everyone should live. In a cold, empty house. Yet he was considered the ultimate miser. So what do we call our miser-in-chief?

So, when you get to thinking about what’s going on? Think:


MISER
SKINFLINT
PINCHPENNY
CHEAPSKATE
SCROOGE

Because that is us. You, me, everyone.

Where are those hideous ghosts when we really need them? Come back, Dickens. We have some work for you to do!