Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear and Other Favorites

I remember years and years of singing Christmas songs. When my friends and I were all in grade school, we always had a concert for our parents near Christmas. With red and green ribbons around our necks, we all sung the classic holiday favorites, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that the end verse was actually “You’ll go down in history.” We all sung it as “you go down in his (Rudolph’s) story.” I think that we all felt Rudolph actually had his own storybook.

By the time I was singing in our church choir, I saw that in the hymn “*Keep Thou My Way, O Lord” had the phrase ‘gladly the cross I’d bear,’ and was NOT ‘Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear.”

I became so interested in misinterpreted songs that I started looking for some real **Christmas bloopers” such as these:

  1. We three kings of porridge and tar.
  2. On the first day of Christmas, my tulip gave to me.
  3. Sleep in heavenly peas.
  4. He’s making a list, chicken and rice.
  5. You’ll go down in Listerine.
  6. Noel, Noel, Barney’s the King of Israel.
  7. Oh, what fun it is to ride with one horse, soap and hay.
  8. In the meadow we can build a snowman; then pretend that he is sparse and brown.
  9. Come, froggy faithful.
  10. Deck the halls with Buddy Holly.

This also got me thinking of other blooperish phrases. A dear friend of mine was a teacher for many years. One of her fellow teachers was in a meeting with her along with some of the parents. They were talking about something in the school system that needed to be fixed. Evidently there was a slight disagreement about how soon this situation should be addressed.

The fellow teacher was all for taking the time to do things correctly. He said that it shouldn’t be done in a “half-assed” way. After the meeting, my friend took him aside and told him that she was a bit surprised at his language during the meeting. He asked her what she meant, and she said, ‘you said things shouldn’t be done in a half-assed way.’

He said, ‘no, no; I said that things shouldn’t be done in a half-fast way.’ My friend set him straight on this phrase and he was horrified. He said that he had always thought the phrase was ‘half-FAST’ not ‘half-ASSED!’

I remember when I saw the Disney movie, the Lion King. In the beginning, that haunting and exalting song starts (in Zulu): “Nants ingonyama bagithai Baba (here comes a lion, Father!)” I swear it always sounded to me like “Jaaaaaaalepeno!”

It just goes to show you that things aren’t always as they sound.

*”Keep Thou My Way, O Lord,” by Fanny J. Crosby.

**From “Funny Christmas Songs”



What Happens to Your Pet(s) if Something Happens to YOU?

The Crankee Yankee and I were traveling one day, and suddenly I thought: what if something happened to us? What would happen to our cats? When we travel I always email my sister-in-law/ best friend when we are leaving and when we expect to get home. Then we email once we do get home. Great idea, but what if something happened and we couldn’t come home?

I started searching for answers, and came across the website. It is a great source of practical information, and also has paperwork you can fill out to have on file for the safekeeping and placement of your pets should something happen to you.

Most of us assume that we will outlive our pets, but this doesn’t always happen. I encourage everyone reading this to check out It is a practical way to start the process of making sure that your pets are safe, cared for and loved.

Back on September 11, 2001, over 800 pets lost their people. I don’t know about you, but it chilled me to read that; both for the loss of so many, and for their animals. So, just in case, it’s good to think about how to make sure that our pets will be looked after should something happen to us.

The paperwork readily available on this site explains how to leave a gift (i.e., money toward the care, feeding and upkeep of your pets, how to put this in a will, and so on) so that those caring for the pets will have some help with their care.

As with other “must-do” things in life such as having a will, making sure that all necessary documents and information is readily available for who come after us, this is peace of mind just having a plan in place. As with any plans, remember that this is one of those “just in case” scenarios. This way you will have the comfort of knowing that, should something happen, your pets will be cared for.

As I always say: “Be prepared—NOT scared!”

I Will Always Want More

When I can no longer run or walk well,

I will always want more.

When I see more years behind me than in front,

I will always want more.

When there is more silver than brown in my hair

I will always want more.

When my speech slurs and my hearing dims,

I will always want more.

When loved ones and friends leave my life,

I will always want more.

When I can no longer have a cat in my life

I will always want more.

When my last breath comes and then goes—

I will always want more.

Maybe Things Weren’t As Bad As I Thought….

I was a technical writer for nearly 30 years. In that time I wrote manuals for everything from F16 planes to optic lens technology. I always geared my manuals toward new employees and/or newbies to the field. I would start with something as basic as “Step 1: turn on your computer.”

I cataloged every step just in case the person reading it was a new employee, or someone who had to pick up a job for someone who left. This way, if the reader already knew the basics, they could skip right to the nitty-gritty.

This approach didn’t always fly with upper management. They felt that I was being “too simplistic” and should just cut to the chase and write about the “real meat” of the subject. In one of my jobs I faced a panel consisting of the president of the company, the office manager and the head of sales.

One by one they trashed my manual as being “first grader-ish.” The president glared at me and said, “I have a Ph.D and you should really write this manual to my level.”

The office manager said, “I graduated summa cum laude in Engineering at <hoity-toity ivory tower school>, and this manual is just too basic. You really should write it geared to those with higher education.”

The head of sales said, “This manual should be much more sales-oriented. That’s who brings the money in!”

I smiled at them all and replied, “well, those are certainly great ideas. Tell you what, this is what I’ll do: I will write a manual for Ph.D level readers,  a manual for engineers, and a manual specifically for Sales.”

They all looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. The president said flatly, ‘well that’s just stupid! Why would you do that when you could just write one manual for everyone at every level?”

I replied, “actually, that is exactly what I did in this manual.” <insert sound of several crickets here> Let’s just say that they grudgingly approved the manual and suddenly had something really important to do.

But as we all know, most people never read manuals, even myself. When I get a new something-or-other that comes with a manual, I never read it. Sad but true. I got to thinking that my 30-something years of being a technical writer was not only unsuccessful, but unremarkable as well.

Then someone I respect made me feel a lot better about my career. She said, ‘you took an educational approach rather than a business approach—which is exactly how you learn and teach others.’ How about that? I never thought of it that way, and am grateful for a new perspective. Perhaps my manuals did help after all.

I think that many of us are too hard on ourselves, and, looking back on previous jobs, wish that we had done better. We may start a downward spiral in our heads that doesn’t do any of us any good. We have to believe that we did the best that we could at the time and let the rest go.

Maybe my career wasn’t that bad after all.

*Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Had a Bunch of Crappy Co-Workers

Of all the things that have now been deemed politically incorrect, this latest really takes the reindeer chow. Evidently some folks feel that the song “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is offensive in that it makes fun of a facial deformity. Some feel that making fun of a cartoon reindeer with a red nose is giving their children the wrong message. Well, yes—it isn’t nice to make fun of someone’s deformity and parents are right to make sure that their kids understand that.

However, as a child of the 50s, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was just a funny little Christmas song we all sang. In fact, every kid I knew used to root for Rudolph for saving Christmas the year that it was too foggy for Santa to travel safely.  We were always happy that, at the end of the song, the other reindeer were glad of his help.

But now that I’m older and less tolerant, what about all those hypocritical reindeer who suddenly loved Rudolph because he lit the way for them all. Do you think that they thanked him afterwards for this? Had a big party in his honor? Started inviting him to their reindeer games?

I’m guessing that they did none of this. Just look at their personality profiles:

**Quick Look at All the Reindeer

Reindeer Personality trait
Dasher He loves to go fast!
Dancer Completely extroverted
Prancer A bit vain, though affectionate
Vixen Slightly tricky
Comet Handsome and easy-going
Cupid Affectionate
Donner Loud
Blitzen Fast as a bolt!
Rudolph A little down on himself

Dasher: “loves to go fast,” does he? I’ll bet that he was both angry and mortified at being bested by whom he deemed the most useless reindeer of all.

Dancer: “completely extroverted”? I’m thinking she is a big old attention hog who would also resent Rudolph for stealing her thunder on that foggy night.

Prancer: “a bit vain?” That sounds about right. I’m sure that she never sent Rudolph a Valentine that year, either.

Vixen: “slightly tricky?” Like maybe tricky enough to put a laxative into Rudolph’s post-flight cocoa? (Bet she did.)

Comet: “handsome and easy-going?” Well, sure—he was the ‘handsome one,’ who no doubt believed that he deserved credit for just breathing each day….

Donner: “Loud.” Well—doesn’t that just say it all? He probably was the first in line to congratulate Rudolph for guiding the sleigh that night. He probably also was the first one to snub him afterwards.

Blitzen: “Fast as a bolt.” Yeah, I’ll bet he bolted right into his pen without a word of thanks after they all made it safely back to the North Pole.

Rudolph: “a little down on himself.” Well, wouldn’t you be if you’d been laughed at your whole life over your looks? And wouldn’t you just know it, those other rotten reindeer laughed at him constantly and refused to let him play with them.

And then, poor Rudolph, at the end of the night, exhausted from miles and miles of beaming his red nose, lay down in the straw and just knew that all that false friendship wouldn’t last.

Did he turn into a serial killer over this? No, he did not. He kept his secret sorrow to himself. When Santa asked for his help in guiding the sleigh on that famous foggy night, did he question it? No, he just antlered-up and used his “facial deformity” to save Christmas that year.

He is the hero of this song, and the others were just sycophantic suck-ups who probably went back to their old jeering ways. My Christmas wish is for Rudolph to get better co-workers.

*From Wikipedia: “”Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a song written by Johnny Marks based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company. Gene Autry‘s recording hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts the week of Christmas 1949.”

**From Holidappy.


Beauty in All Things

I’ve said this before; New England has its own stark beauty in the winter months. If you are new to this part of the country, it can look drab and dull. But try to look beyond the obvious. There is so much to see and hear.

On my walk around the pond yesterday I saw silvery-gray glassy shards of ice clustered on the edges of the pond, moving and muttering and mashing together. Some would catch the sunlight and glitter like newly discovered diamonds as they bumped into each other.

There was the susurrus of the cold wind rattling and whistling through the stiff dry reeds that ring the pond. Ducks and seagulls quacked and called as they paddled in the icy water, then took to the sky as one.

Then there was the surprise of a beautiful blue-gray heron rising up just below my feet from the edge of the pond, squawking his indignation at being disturbed. By the time I had walked to the other side of the pond, he stepped out of the reeds and settled himself  in a patch of sun, his large wings lowered to shelter his feet and legs. I imagine that felt pretty good after standing in freezing water, waiting for lunch to swim by.

The sky above was china-blue, with thick streaks of marshmallow-y clouds. Some had undertones of gray, indicating possible snow. There were even some orange-y rose hips still clinging to their bushes, bringing light to the browns and grays around them.

Yes, our winters here in New England have a puritanical sort of unadorned beauty, and it does take time to recognize and appreciate it. When I lived in Texas, where gorgeous flowers bloomed all year long and the evening skies were filled with lavish paint strokes of red, orange, gold, rose, and lavender, and brightly colored birds shrilled in the evening—I still missed my old wren-brown New England winters.

Beauty is a tricky thing, and is truly in the eye of the beholder. Here in New Hampshire when the sky turns deep blue-black, the stars twinkle and shine as if to coax the bright silver moon up to join them. At this time of year, my favorite constellation is back in the heavens; Orion the Hunter.

Yesterday brought me both the heron and Orion; both beautiful, both amazing.