Sweeping Up After the Elephants

Anyone who lives with another person or persons knows this; there is always someone whose job it is to “sweep up after the elephants.” The following comes from the blog, Glenn Miller Writes:

“Sometimes, during bad times or moments, my career reminded me of the fellow who worked for a circus.

He wasn’t the ringmaster or trapeze artist or lion tamer. He wasn’t even a clown. His job was to follow the parade down the main street of each new town the circus entered and clean up after the elephants, shoveling steaming piles of dung into buckets.

The fellow wasn’t crazy about the job and his friends knew it. So one day he was asked why he didn’t just quit.

‘What, and give up show business?’ the fellow exclaimed.”

Taking this to a more personal level, in any living arrangement with other humans, there is always a designated “sweeper.” This is the person who gets up early to make the coffee, empties the dishwasher, throws out the “science experiments” in the refrigerator, cleans the crumbs out of the toaster, wipes up the cat or dog vomit, cleans out the disgusting sink stopper that reeks of *Alponium, and so on.

It isn’t a pleasant job, especially when you know that all that work will have to be done the very next day; sometimes the very next hour. If you live with more than one other person, hopefully the chores are set up fairly and are done on a regular basis. It is hoped that none of the occupants have amnesia.

I would write more, but I have to get my bucket and shovel and get to work….

*Alponium is the distinct aroma that goes up your nose when you open a can of cat or dog food. It isn’t on the periodic table either, and I can’t remember who said it first. But it’s a real thing, and it STINKS!


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”


“I Was a Child!”

I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has looked back on their childhood and squirmed, remembering all the foolish, stupid, ignorant, etc. things they have said or done at that time. These memories used to haunt me at odd times, making me feel both miserable and guilty.


  1. Saying something hurtful to someone dear to you because at that time, your own feelings were hurt and you lashed out at the nearest target.
  2. Letting something bad happen to you because you didn’t know how to stop it at the time.
  3. Allowing someone else’s pain to hurt you.
  4. Saying something hurtful to someone because they hurt you first.

And the list can go on and on. When we are young, we don’t know how to handle every single thing that happens to us. We can find ourselves in situations where we don’t know how to get away, or stop it.

When I was about 14, a friend of my parents introduced me to his nephew. He was a good-looking boy of about 17 years old, and he paid me a flattering amount of attention. I remember feeling mesmerized by this person telling me how beautiful I was, how smart I was, and so on.

Long story short, I had a gut feeling about this nephew; I couldn’t have put words to it, but I felt deeply that something was “off” about him. During a day of skiing together, he took off down a trail I knew to be a bit hazardous if you weren’t familiar with it. I followed him to warn him of the danger, and he was waiting for me in a little cut-off on the trail.

All of a sudden, I felt alarm bells ringing in my head. I didn’t know what might happen, but I knew I had to get away and fast. I babbled something about being cold and wanting a cup of hot chocolate down at the lodge. I didn’t even listen to his answer when I took off down the rest of the trail as fast as I could go. Luckily, I ran into Dad, who had been waiting for us.

The point of all this is that when we do dangerous or foolish things as children, we look back when we are older and are aghast at our recklessness and ignorance. Most of the bad things I remember happened when I was a child. (And yes, I consider teenagers children, too.) When we are older and more experienced and have learned to avoid pitfalls, we look back on our childhood and wonder how we could have been so stupid.

But it’s not stupidity, it’s being young and inexperienced. We need to forgive ourselves for things we said and did as children. Now that we are grown up, we know better. Back then, we didn’t know. Even admonitions from our parents didn’t always stay in our minds.

These days my go-to healing phrase is “I was a CHILD!” Hearing this helps me forgive myself. These days when I say this to myself, I can let those things go, because I was after all a child.













History is History

There has been a disturbing trend for some people in America who are offended by some of our artifacts, statues, flags and other memorabilia. Instead of viewing these things as part of our country’s history, they feel that reminders of the past should be removed or destroyed.

I remember when this trend began to manifest itself. I was in grade school, and books such as “*Black Like Me,” by John Howard Griffin, “Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee were discreetly removed. If not removed, then several “offensive” pages were razored out of the books. Even then, I was shocked; first of all, books were (and still are) sacred to me.

At the time, all I could think about was ‘what if they start burning books?’ Little did I know then what was to come.

Every country in the world has its own history, and historical artifacts. These are priceless reminders of what once was; not necessarily what now is. History teaches us lessons learned in the past and helps us understand who we were and how we came to be the way we are now.

History is born from truth, and once history is made, it becomes part of our culture. Take slavery, for example. Today we are horrified by the idea of people having slaves, and the fact that the slaves had no rights or choice. But it is part of our history. This does not mean that we glorify it or practice it today; it is simply a part of history that was true at the time.

When some people decide that tearing down statues or flags or destroying artifacts from our history is the thing to do, we ALL lose. We must remember that the things that upset us now were the norm back then. It doesn’t mean that we condone slavery now. History teaches us what we may need to know so that history doesn’t repeat itself, as in the case of slavery.

What we need to remember is that statues and flags from the past are historical reminders so that we don’t forget how bad things can be if we are not watchful. These relics from the past do not reflect our values today. 

As someone a whole lot smarter than me once said, “If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.”

*From Wikipedia, “Black Like Me, first published in 1961, is a nonfiction book by white journalist John Howard Griffin recounting his journey in the Deep South of the United States, at a time when African-Americans lived under apartheid-like conditions.”

Summer Suppers

It’s been pretty hot and humid here in the northeast, and when it’s that hot, nobody wants to cook. Even heating up a bowl of soup in the microwave sounds like too much work. Of course there are always the salad-and-sandwich suppers; cool and low maintenance.

But there are other options for hot weather meals. The following are five of my favorites because they are not only delicious, but are pretty easy to prepare. In no particular order, they are:

“*Iron Sandwiches” – these are great on hot nights and are also great for picnics. They are a take-off on paninis, which are wonderful, but not a lot of fun to make on a hot night.

“Salad With Meaty Bits” – make your own salad (or just go buy a salad kit) and add in chopped ham, chicken, feta cheese, olives, shrimp, leftover steak, etc.

“Mediterranean Plate” – pick up a few tubs of hummus (my own favorites are lemon, red pepper, garlic, and pine nut). Fill up a platter with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cut-up green or red peppers, celery sticks, sliced zucchini and cukes, etc. Add some sticks of string cheese, rolled up ham or salami, and open up a few boxes of crackers, and start dipping. (Great with a glass of wine.)

“Lettuce Cups” – using Boston lettuce (they very obligingly curl up into “cups”), fill them with chicken or seafood or ham salad. Cut up a loaf of crusty bread, and serve either with butter, or put out small cups filled with olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled in and a sprinkle of rosemary.

“Strawberry Shortcake Miracle Supper” – If you’re a Yankee like me, “real” strawberry shortcake starts with homemade biscuits, not spongecake. You can either make your own and freeze them, or buy some at a bakery. In any case, split the biscuit in half, ladle on as much strawberries and their juice as possible, and top with whipped cream. Again, homemade is better, but of course you can buy it in a spray can.

FYI: I am not going to dignify using that product that sounds like “fool pip,” either.

The story of how strawberry shortcake became a summer supper began when I was in grade school. It was a very hot evening, and I had just come home from playing with a friend. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch eating strawberry shortcake. 

This was so far from normal that I actually held my breath. My mother always made nourishing and delicious meals, and no one ate dessert until the meal was over. As I stumbled up the porch stairs, Mom gave me one of her “well, so what?” looks and said, “it’s just too hot to cook, so we’re having dessert for supper.”

I never forgot how wonderful it was to eat dessert for dinner. I highly recommend it.

*Directions for the “iron sandwich,” so named by my mother:

Split a sub roll, and spread with mayo or mustard or whatever you prefer. My personal favorite is cilantro lime creamy salad dressing. Fill the roll with cold roast beef, onions, pickles and arugula (or whatever you like), then wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper.

Put it in the ‘fridge and press it with a flat iron (or a heavy plate, etc. You get the idea.) This is why they’re called “iron sandwiches.” Flattening like this melds all the flavors together, and trust me; it’s a wonderful thing.

The Power of Chant

In a previous post, I said that I was going back to dance hula. Amazingly, I remembered steps from a few of the dances. Dancing again felt like being reborn. I also was invited by one of the teachers to chant with her; this too is part of many dances.

There is something ageless and ancient about chanting, and it gave me the kind of chills you feel when something in your life goes incredibly and beautifully right. I have become very interested in chanting, and looked into its history. I found the following pretty interesting:

“*When there is no written language, imagine selling property, traveling without any form of identification, or proving who your parents are, all without a paper trail. Imagine, as happened to a high chief in Hawaii long, long ago, that you flee from your island, end up in a shipwreck, and drift onto foreign shores: You would be considered an enemy and your death would be certain. Fortunately, this particular chief remembered his genealogy chant, and the islanders recognized the names of his ancestors. His lineage traced all the way back to the gods, and so his life was spared.”

“The ancient Hawaiian people kept no written records. Other than the petroglyphs, they knew no written language. Yet they lived with a sophisticated hierarchical system of land divisions, a complex classification in ranks from commoner to highest chief, and a detailed genealogy. To keep track of this vital knowledge, any transition that might be of importance, either to others or to future generations, had to be memorized and passed on.”

To aid with memorizing, a system of verses emerged which over the years developed into an ingenious art form. The verses were known as the “oli” chants. They recorded the history of the land and the lineage of the aristocracy….The chants were crucial for the continuation of the political, social, economic, and ecological system of the Hawaiian world.”

“After all, one’s position in Hawaii depended on ones rank, and ones rank was determined by blood descent. The genealogy was often the only evidence of ones ancestry. It linked a person to all the ancestors, and through this one could show how much sacredness and royal blood had accumulated.”

“It worked like this: In ancient Hawaii words and names held power. (They still do, but this knowledge is kept very private.) Each name in a genealogy chant carried the mana (power) of the ancestor. All names were linked by birth. The longer this link of names in the chant, the more mana [knowledge]. The accumulation of power, which was sacred, could lift a person to the ranks of the gods among mortals.”

Although I will not be dancing again soon (I recently found out that my knee replacement has degraded and needs to be “revised.” I will be having new surgery this month.), I will be learning chants for many of the dances. Not only does this make me feel connected to hula, but it’s good to learn other aspects of Hawaiian history.

(From “words of Power,” http://www.coffeetimes.com/words.htm)