When dark clouds start piling up across our sky, when the wind picks up and the trees start shaking, when the clouds overhead start to boil in a peculiar way and we start getting warnings about possible tornadoes, I start to think about my computer — with all its precious files — being fried. Or worse, being tossed, along with the rest of our home’s contents, across the next five miles of grain fields. So I open up my files, and my DropBox, and start transferring files to that safer cyber-place. Off they go: multiple files with half-polished verses, thoughts I hope to someday clarify and post.
Alas, for me it’s truly “Out of sight, out of mind.” Several years later, (like this week) searching for poems — I’ve been invited to read some of mine at a local coffee shop tomorrow evening — I come across verses I’ve written, hastily filed in cloud storage as the clouds churned overhead, then forgotten about. Here’s one I came across in my search for verses to read. I wrote this as a children’s poem; it may not be brilliant, but I hope it’s passable. I debated leaving the last stanza off, but will rather ask for your opinions.
The caterpillar reached the road
checked triple, left to right,
fearing rumbling man-machines
that made his life a fright.
He hurried across the pavement;
his dozen feet all speeded
to get him across in rapid time
by danger unimpeded.
One thing that he never saw
the foe he never heard,
above him, hovering hungrily,
a caterpillar-eating bird.
So when you lock your back door
and double-lock your front,
do check out the upstairs, too,
or you might end up lunch.
I hope you can bear to hear a few more scintillating words from the pen of Dr Watson?
Sherlock Holmes describes his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, as: “A man …so immune from criticism…so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solatium for his wounded character.“
A solatium being, according to Lexico: –something given in compensation for inconvenience, loss, injury, or the like; recompense –damages awarded to a plaintiff as compensation for personal suffering or grief arising from an injury Today we’d call this a settlement. Holmes was reminding Watson that, though Moriarty was secretly involved in shady deals, he had very cleverly erased himself from the scenes. He’d kept his hands so clean that to call him a criminal would be considered slander.
Self-Effacement: This is an antique concept, something almost anathema to our modern world. In our day self-promotion is the only way to go. From young on, children are encouraged to be the BEST, to be the STAR. When they get into later teens and discover they are AVERAGE, this can be hard to take.
Children should be encouraged to do their best and to pursue their dreams, but there are only so many super-stars you can have in a scene before they start shoving each other off-stage. One man watched a teen take dozens of selfies in an hour, probably to send to friends who’ve got dozens of selfies of themselves to send back. And yet teens may question if they have any real friends.
A friend told me about taking her daughter to visit her mom one evening. In the course of the visit Grandma pulled out her photos. Here’s a picture of me shopping. Here’s a picture of me in the coat I tried on. Here’s a picture of me going here. Here’s a picture of me on my birthday. Here’s a picture of me with my friend Jane. Here’s a picture of me…”
After they left, the granddaughter said to her mom, “Grandma’s really into herself.” Sadly, this is true. Predictably, Grandma’s puzzled because her children and grands aren’t all into her, too. “I’m their mother. They should be calling me!” But they don’t feel the heart-strings pulling. What goes around comes around.
A few days ago my husband and I were discussing leadership qualities. There are bold, self-confident, self-promoting types, but we agreed that leaders who get the most respect and help are the ones willing to ask for help, to give credit where credit is due, to squash the “I” and let their group get the praise. To say, “Everybody pitched in and our team accomplished this.”
Professor Moriarty may have sinister reasons for stepping back and letting others get the credit–or blame?–but self-effacement can be one of the tools of a good leader, don’t you think?
To all my American readers, here’s wishing you a delightful — or at least relatively peaceful 😉 — Thanksgiving Day. In spite of all the things that are less than perfect, I’m sure you can find many blessings to count. As was said long ago…
Thumbing through an old Sherlock Holmes tale last night, I came across a rather antique word. I think this one’s at least vaguely known to most people but rarely used anymore. Dr Watson reproves Sherlock for his sarcastic reply to Watson’s comment, but Holmes is absorbed by his own thoughts and pays no attention to Watson’s REMONSTRANCE.
Remonstrance, or Remonstration — the noun — according to M-W, is a plea in protest, objection, or disapproval. In other words, Reasons Why Not. Remonstrate — the verb from which it comes — Lexico defines as: to say or plead in protest, objection, or disapproval. to present reasons in complaint; plead in protest.
Today’s Ragtag Daily Promptword, TATTOO, gives me a good chance to use this almost abandoned word. In my opinion, here are some reasons why not.
When I think of tattoos, another word comes to mind: FORESIGHT – or the lack of it. Hindsight may be 20/20 but our ability to look into the future and see how we will feel, or what our life will be like, twenty or thirty years hence is extremely limited. Tattoos are a permanent body decoration, often done on the spur of the moment, often done while intoxicated or high. No room for FORESIGHT there.
This is one of my main remonstrances when it comes to tattoos – or any other permanent disfigurement. Does anyone really want to look at the same wallpaper design 24/7 for 60-70 years? Will a super-hero on a teen’s arm still be cool when he’s 55, chairman of some corporation, the father of teenagers, or a seventy-year-old grandparent? Or will it someday be an embarrassment he needs to cover up?
It’s a fad, and fads pass – or circle. In the 50s tattoos were popular; my cousin has his own name discreetly tattooed on his forearm. By the time I was a teen they were passé; none of the kids in my class got inked up. Now tats are all the rage for a time. What if the next generation says, “Yuck, Grandma! That looks awful.”
If adults get tattoos, I think at least they’ve seen some of life and are making their own choices, but teens come under such pressure from their peers. When I see young people sporting multiple tattoos I feel sorry for them because I think someday they’ll mature and move on. Then they’ll realize what they’ve done to their body is permanent. I’ve heard of people who later regret their tats and spend big bucks to have them removed. We have a friend who’s trying bit by bit to remove his many tats with a laser — and the process is quite painful.
My last remonstrance: relationship changes are unforeseeable. Some years back another blogger wrote about how her boyfriend, madly in love with her at the time, insisted they get each other’s names tattooed on their arm. He went whole hog and had her name blazed across his biceps. She was more cautious and had his name tattooed in smaller letters on her arm. Good thing, too, because they broke up and her new spouse, a few years later, didn’t appreciate seeing the old boyfriend’s name on her arm every day.
I discovered a new word this morning! Dégringolade, which is a rapid decline or deterioration (as in strength, position, or condition)
I was searching for a synonym for dropped or tumbled, something more spectacular to describe the descent of twirling, sparkling snowflakes, when I found this word. Thought I’d share it with you word lovers, though I doubt it will ever make anyone’s most-frequently used word list.
To me dégringolade sounds half Spanish-half French. According to M-W this noun is derived from the French verb dégringoler (“to tumble down”) … from the Middle French desgringueler. Gringueler being a twist from the Middle Dutch crinkelen, to make curl. Origin of Kriss Kringle?
According to M-W, dégringolade tends to be applied to more metaphorical situations – a rapid fall from a higher position in society, for example. These days, dégringolade is fairly rare in American English. We rely far more heavily on its familiar synonym downfall.
The example sentence struck a chord with me: “…the sad dégringolade of the holiday from a solemn day of remembrance to just another excuse to go shopping.”
I’m guessing this quote refers to the US Armistice Day – has it become a big SALE day in the States? This could also apply to the drop from the Thanksgiving “counting blessings” to Black Friday sales.
“Black Friday” is a new thing here in Canada – like in the last 25 years – and the idea hasn’t gone over that well. Now it appears that Canadian merchants are distancing themselves from the actual US Black Friday. Last Friday I opened e-mails from both Fabricland and Michael’s, announcing that This is Black Friday. Well, okay. I’m missing it.
But the last half of November seems to be one long sale. I see that: Fabricland’s Black Friday Weekend is from Nov 18 – 21. Michael’s B.F. Sale is Nov 18 – 27th. And it’s all Christmas stuff! Staples B.F. Sale is Nov 16 – 24th. Samsung is offering a B.F. Promo Period Nov 9 – Dec 1st Searching for shoes online, I see that Quarks B.F. Sale is Nov 14 – 23rd Home Depot is really generous. B.F. Sale is Nov 17 – Dec 7th Rona’s B.F. Sale is Nov 17 – 23 Chapters is slow; their B.F. Sale only starts Nov 24th And now as US Black Friday approaches, American companies like Corel are kicking in with their sales mail. My Heritage is offering DNA test kits for $52 as their B.F. promo.
This is the economic climate we live in. Everyone wants a bargain, so spectacular sales have become the order of the day. I just wish we could give them upbeat names. Why not a BRIGHT MONDAY, GOLDEN WEDNESDAY, or FELICITOUS FRIDAY?