Northern Lights Haiku

Horizon is lit

With unearthly streams of light

Shimmering green glow!


*Jokes for English Majors and Other Twits

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I am a self-confessed grammar nazi. So you can imagine how happy I was to find so many grammar jokes! Being both a grammar nazi and a twit, I wanted to share these with you. Enjoy!

Q: What do you say when you are comforting a grammar nazi?
A: There, Their, They’re.

Q: What’s another name for Santa’s elves?
A: Subordinate Clauses.

Q: How does an English teacher punish a valley girl?
A: Assign a 10-15 page research paper on the bastardization of the word “like.”

Q: What is Grammar?
A: The difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you’re shit.

Q: How do you spell mousetrap?
A: C-A-T.

Q: “What letter of the alphabet has got lots of water?”
A: “The C”

Q. What begins with T, ends with T and has T in it?
A: A teapot.

Q: What’s the longest word in the dictionary?
A: Rubber-band — because it stretches.

Q: What’s a teacher’s favorite nation?
A: Expla-nation.

Q: Name a bus you can never enter?
A: A syllabus.

Q: What is the longest word in the English language?
A: Smiles. (There is a mile between the first letter and the last letter.)

A teacher writes on a chalkboard the sentence: “A woman without her man is nothing” The teacher then asks the boys to punctuate it properly, and they all write: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” The teacher asks the girls to punctuate it and they write: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

A Texan was visiting Harvard University, and was lost. He stopped a student and asked, “Do you know where the library is at?”

“I sure do,” replied the student, “But, you know, you’re not supposed to end sentences with prepositions.”


“Prepositions. You ended your sentence with an ‘at’, which you aren’t supposed to do.”

“Oh, ok,” said the Texan, “Do you know where the library is at, jerk?

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

*Joke source:


“How Can I Help You?’

I have never forgotten my days in customer service. It started when I was a waitress in our local burger and ice cream restaurant in town. The owners made sure that all their help were trained the same way:

“The customer comes first.” (The customer wasn’t always right or even pleasant, but they always came first.)

“Don’t go anywhere without something in your hands.” (I’ve kept this habit each day of my life; it’s amazing how much time it saves!)

“Check your tables often to be sure that everyone has what they need.” (This is really a life lesson; always check in with those around you now and then; that way you don’t miss anything.)

“Never let the customer see you doing nothing.” (I must have folded thousands of paper napkins while I worked there. It was ok to sit down as long as you kept an eye on your tables and were doing something while you were sitting.)

“No matter how rude a customer is to you, always treat them with respect.” (Boy, was that a tough one! But I did it; I learned to keep smiling no matter what.)

“If you know the customer’s name, then call them Mr. and Mrs. (Name). If you do not know them, address them as “Sir,” Miss,” Ma’am,” or “folks.” (Back then you never called customers ‘guys,’ ‘y’all,’ or, in the case of older people; ‘honey,’ ‘darling,’ ‘sweetheart,’ or ‘dearie.’ It was considered disrespectful, not friendly or appropriate.)

“If you have no customers and have nothing to do, FIND something to do!” (This is where I learned to both look and be busy. There was always some sweeping to do; such as brewing another pot of coffee, folding napkins or dusting tables.)

“If a customer does not leave you a tip, ask yourself if you did the best job you could. However, some people just do not tip. Get over it.” (That alone was an ‘ah ha!’ moment. Lesson: you don’t always get what you deserve. So yes, get over it and move on.)

“If a customer should leave something of theirs on the table; sunglasses, pen, hat, etc., try to catch them before they drive away. Otherwise, just put the items behind the counter for when (or if) they come back.” (By the time this restaurant changed hands years ago, many of those lost items were still behind the counter!”)

“No swearing—PERIOD!” (One swear word would get you fired; no ifs, ands, or buts.)

The atmosphere in the restaurant wasn’t always about these ten lessons, either. Often things happened that we just had to roll with and hope for the best. The two “events” that stand out clearly in my mind are these two gems:

Gem 1: A couple came into the restaurant for lunch. They came in arguing, and continued to argue even while the waitress taking their order. The woman just ordered a Coke; the man ordered an open-faced egg salad sandwich. The arguing escalated.

When the Coke and sandwich arrived, the man wordlessly picked up the sandwich and pushed into his girlfriend’s face. Let’s just say that mayhem ensued, and the restaurant owner ushered them out at the speed of light.

Gem 2: One day a couple drove all the way up from Connecticut to have the restaurant’s famous lobster salad and fruit salad, two of our most popular items. I was their waitress, and told them that luckily we had one each left. They were thrilled!

The salads were enormous, and the two of them could not fit on one tray. Therefore I had the fruit salad in one hand, and the lobster salad on my tray. As I walked toward the customers’ table, a young boy ran into me under my “tray” arm and I lost my balance. The lobster salad slid off the tray and smashed onto the floor, and the fruit salad slammed into the wall. You can imagine how that couple felt!

It’s been decades since I was a waitress, but I never forgot these lessons. It turns out that they are all life lessons; things we should remember each day. I credit those owners who were tough but fair to me; they taught me what became my work ethic in every job I ever had.

The Slippery Slopes

It’s a slippery slope we’re sliding on

Considering that we share the world we’re biding on—

One city’s flood

Is another city’s mud

It may not be that a tsunami begins by butterfly wings

But it can be triggered by so many other things

Depending on where our thoughts have gone—

Or who it is we are depending on—

Will we do what is right and choose to be kind

Or be self-serving and pretend to be blind?

Will we recognize what’s wrong and know it?

Or will we do what is right and show it?

Be careful with promises and threats

Be suspicious of false bets

Too much ego can take us too far to turn back

Too much anger can lay down the track

To a destination that leads only one way

To a place where we all must pay.

But it’s still it’s not too late

To work together to overturn hate

And overlook all things that divide us

And bring out all the good that’s inside us.




The Second Robbery

The Crankee Yankee and I live on a street so narrow that there are no sidewalks. There is also a sharp curve in the street, so when the Crankee Yankee has to park his truck in front of our house, it slows traffic down.

Although this may be frustrating for people who love to zoom through a residential street like ours at 40 MPH (speed limit is posted at 25 MPH), it does avoid a lot of accidents. This summer the Crankee Yankee put up a sawhorse in front and in back of the truck, with flashing lights on top. The idea was to give drivers some warning at dusk or nighttime to slow down through the curve.

Also, since many cats and skunks routinely cross our street, he put out “Cat Crossing” and Skunk Crossing” signs on the sawhorses; again, in the hope of slowing folks down.

A few weeks ago, we woke up and found that the sawhorses and signs had been stolen. Now, we are talking about some very old and cheap-to-begin-with sawhorses, and signs that cost a whopping $3 apiece. So it was hardly a big haul. Just the same, we called the police so that there would be a record if it happened again.

Well, this past week, it happened again. The only item taken was one of our blinking lights. I’m not proud to say that I just lost it when I heard that. I broke into tears and told the Crankee Yankee that we could never go anywhere again together if this kind of thing was going to keep happening. All I could think of was ‘what’s going to happen next?‘ The mind can take us places we would rather not go.

When I finally got a grip, anger replaced fear. This petty thievery is probably just kids who thought that our stuff would look cool in their rooms. I know that this happens, but it’s still stealing. We called the police again, so this latest is also on record.

These two incidents are hardly the Great Train Robbery, but it was upsetting. I wish that those who do things like this for a lark would consider how they would feel if something of theirs had gone missing. Does anyone remember the *Golden Rule? Stealing is stealing, plain and simple.

In these times when there is so much fear, hatred and violence seemingly erupting everywhere, even a petty theft is disturbing.

*”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“Two, Four, Six, Eight—Look How We Communicate!”

I swear sometimes that the Crankee Yankee and I are speaking two different languages. I will ask him something as plain as “what happened to the Sunday paper? I haven’t read it yet.”

And he will reply, “I bought the Sunday paper this morning.” Um, yeah, got that, but where the heck is it now?

Or this one the other day: each morning the Crankee Yankee gets up before I do (because he goes to bed earlier). He makes the coffee, and goes downstairs to clean all the litter boxes for our five cats, and then puts out food and water in the backyard for the neighborhood strays. In addition, he puts food and water out on our front deck where our buddy, Stripey the cat (another stray), likes to have his breakfast.

The night before, I always fill a plastic container of kibble for him (Stripey, not the Crankee Yankee), and place an empty plastic container over it, with a fresh bottle of water on top. I do that at night so that the Crankee Yankee can simply put it out on the deck for Stripey in the morning.

The other day when I got up I saw that he had put Stripey’s food in a black container instead of the one I left out. I asked him why he didn’t use the plain plastic container he always uses. He said, “oh, I just used the black one instead.”

And there I was again, wondering why he did this. Not that it’s a big deal, but it would be interesting to hear the why. I mean, for weeks now I have been fixing the same containers of kibble and water; so why the change?

I am a creature of habits, and I don’t like changes to those habits (can say ‘set in her ways?’). So when something outside the box happens, I just want to know the why of it.

But the worst is when we have one of our epic misunderstandings, such as this conversation the other day:

HIM: “What do you know about leaks?”

ME: “Leaks? Why don’t you ask your brother? He knows all about that stuff.”

HIM: “He knows NOTHING about leaks; why would he?”

ME: “He doesn’t? I thought for sure he would.”

HIM: “How would he? He doesn’t have a garden like we do!”

…it was then that I realized that he was asking me about the LEEKS we had planted and that were now ready to pick, not actual leaking leaks!!! He wanted to know how to prepare them; something I actually DO know about.

Once we stopped laughing about that one, I explained how you have to cut and clean them. Then we cracked up all over again.

Great communicators we are not. Our communication skills are often about as clear as a Monty Python skit. Oh well, at least both of us are doing it. As Mom used to say, “pretty soon we’ll be hiding our own Easter eggs!”








The Animals That Need Us the Most

As you may know, the Crankee Yankee and I are owned by five cats; this is how it all began. Our first of the five, Nala, our only female cat, had belonged to a couple who had adopted a dog. The dog and Nala didn’t get along, and she was unhappily hiding and living in the basement. We had just lost our beloved 20-year old cat Blackie, so we took Nala in, where she quickly blossomed into the undisputed queen of the house.

A few months later, I read about some “Desperate Housecats” who had been in the Cocheco shelter for several months, and needed homes right away. I saw all their pictures, and a shy little black cat caught my eye; Pookie. He came from a home with too many kids and animals. He came to us with a serious UTI and eye problems which we treated right away. He and Nala hit it off after a semi-rocky start.

Plumpy-Nut was a stray we fed all one spring, summer and fall a few years ago. As winter approached, we took him in (as he didn’t appear to belong to anyone) to our vet to be neutered, *micro-chipped and given all his necessary shots. He fit in as though he’d been with us always.

Tinker showed up shortly after the time we met Plumpy-Nut, and we fed and sheltered him as well. We tried to find out if he had an owner with no success. So we took him to our vet to get his shots and micro chip. Someone must have owned him at one time because he was already neutered. We made the decision to make him part of our family when we saw that he was sleeping near the house in the grass on a cold day. He is now safe and comfortable and always finds the softest place to sleep.

Bailey was my parents’ cat. When Mom died, Dad took care of him. The day came when Dad could no longer care for him, so we moved Bailey to our house. Soon after, we moved Dad in with us. Bailey is now friends with the others, and is part of the family.

Each of our cats were full grown when we got them. Like most people, we think that kittens are adorable, but still prefer older cats. Older cats are more set in their ways, which is actually an advantage. With kittens, you never know if you’re going to get a curtain climber, a toilet paper unraveler, a pouncer on bare feet and so on.

Many folks don’t like adopting an older cat because of possible medical problems, with the time and expense involved. But they are worth it. Seeing older cats in a shelter always tugs at my heart; they need a safe and loving home and a family who loves and cares for them.

I am not a fan of ‘special breed’ cats, or dogs. Yes, many are cute and sweet, but there are so many wonderful animals in shelters who need good homes. We are the kind of people who would adopt a three-legged cat, a blind or deaf cat, and so on. We had one stray we adopted a few years back and discovered that he had a weak heart and needed special meds and treatment.

We named him Pepper and kept him healthy and happy until the meds no longer worked. We were lucky to have him for nearly 10 months, but in that short time we gave him all the love and attention we could.

If you are thinking of adopting a pet from a good shelter, know that you are doing angels’ work. You are giving a sweet animal a loving and safe home, attention, food and water that they can count on each day, plus all the love you can give them.

Many people do not want a pet as they know how much it will hurt when the time comes to take their pet to the vet for the last time. I will tell you from my heart what it is like to hold a beloved old cat in my arms, whispering words of love in her ears until she closes her eyes for the last time. Believe me, it is worth that brief time of pain for all those precious years of love and companionship.

In closing, I would like you to know that my dear artist friend, Diane Kirkup, is working with the Bangor Humane Society, and is giving 30% of her jewelry sales from Oct. 10th through midnight Oct. 15th to benefit the animals at that shelter.  You can see her beautiful jewelry at

*Even if your animal never goes outside, it is a good idea to micro-chip your pets. All of our cats are micro-chipped and belong to Home Again Petfinder. On the off chance that they do get out, micro-chipping will help you get your pet back again.