Friday, February 25, 2011
On Quoting Shakespeare
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ``It's Greek to me'', you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.
P.S. I'll be in Shakespeare's birthplace come June...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"ANYONE WHO IMAGINES THAT BLISS IS NORMAL IS GOING TO WASTE A LOT OF TIME RUNNING AROUND SHOUTING THAT HE'S BEEN ROBBED. THE FACT IS THAT MOST PUTTS DON'T DROP, MOST BEEF IS TOUGH, MOST CHILDREN GROW UP TO BE JUST PEOPLE, MOST SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGES REQUIRE A HIGH DEGREE OF MUTUAL TOLERANCE, MOST JOBS ARE MORE OFTEN DULL THAN OTHERWISE. LIFE IS LIKE AN OLD TIME RAIL JOURNEY...DELAYS, SIDE TRACKS, SMOKE, DUST, CINDERS, AND JOLTS, INTERSPERSED ONLY OCCASIONALLY BY BEAUTIFUL VISTAS AND THRILLING BURSTS OF SPEED. THE TRICK IS TO THANK THE LORD FOR LETTING YOU HAVE THE RIDE."--President Gordon B. Hinkley, Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
18 degrees here. White stuff all over. Yesterday we snowshoed on top of the white stuff in the Tetons. The white stuff there is a heck of a lot like our white stuff here, but we can't go to Dairy Queen here. Or the "world's best Dollar Store". Or the mmmmmmmmmm good yarn shop. When we drove into Jackson our Subaru broke into the "Hallelujah Chorus" and spent the day high fiving all the other Subarus! She honked at old friends from the factory and college and even some she'd met in rehab!!! We should take her up there more often to mingle.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I reached for Paco's hand in church the other day and discovered he needed some TLC for his hands. Not to worry or be embarrassed. We ALL need a little bag balm now and then:
Sticky, smelly Bag Balm: Problem-salving for all
LYNDONVILLE, Vt. – Winter is most definitely here. It must be. The phones are ringing at Bag Balm headquarters.
Everyone wants a new tub of the gooey, yellow-green ointment. And all have a story about its problem-salving — they use it on squeaky bed springs, psoriasis, dry facial skin, cracked fingers, burns, zits, diaper rash, saddle sores, sunburn, pruned trees, rifles, shell casings, bed sores and radiation burns.
Everything, it seems, except for cows.
"Some, you don't really even want to hear, but they're gonna tell you anyway," said accounts manager Krystina McMorrow, who is half the office staff.
"I've been here 14 years," said accounts-receivable clerk Shawna Wilkerson, the other half. "The oddest one I've heard was somebody who reloads his ammunition. He puts Bag Balm on the bullet casing and it makes it easier to reload 'em."
Developed in 1899 to soothe the irritated udders of milking cows, the substance with the mild medicinal odor has evolved into a medicine chest must-have, with as many uses as Elmer's glue.
According to Bag Balm lore, the stuff went from barns to bedrooms when dairy farmers' wives noticed how smooth their spouses' fingers were after using it on cows' udders. The wives were jealous.
Bag Balm went to the North Pole with Admiral Byrd, to Allied troops in World War II, who used it to keep weapons from corroding, to Ground Zero for the paws of cadaver-sniffing dogs searching the World Trade Center rubble, and to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sold off pet care shelves and at farm stores for $8.99 per 10-oz. green tub (with cow's head on the lid), it's made of petrolatum, lanolin and an antiseptic, 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate — substantially the same formula used since John L. Norris bought it from a Wells River druggist before the turn of the century.
It is made in a one-room "plant" by the family owned Dairy Association Co., Inc. — six employees, two officers and no sales force — operating in a cluster of converted railroad buildings in this small (pop. 1,215) northern Vermont town.
Petrolatum is shoveled from 50-gallon drums into a large vat and blended with lanolin from Uruguay, then heated to 95 degrees. A machine quickly squirts the goop into metal cans that are cooled, capped and packaged.
The plant is inspected annually by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though the product is marketed for use by animals, not humans.
Distributed by wholesalers and sold retail in farm stores, national drugstore chains and general stores, its popularity has grown largely with word-of-mouth advertising as converts becomes users and then devotees.
Imitators through the years have included Udderly Smooth Udder Cream and Udder Balm.
The Dairy Association won't divulge sales figures.
In a 1983 report, the late CBS News journalist Charles Kuralt said upward of 400,000 units were shipped annually. Norris' granddaughter, company President Barbara Norris Allen, won't say how today's shipments compare.
"The colder the weather, the better our business," said Ron Bean, production manager at the plant, which is open for tours but not photographers.
To call the operation old-fashioned is an understatement.
The plant operates with one shift, Monday through Friday. The Dairy Association doesn't take credit cards ("Send us a good ol' check," says Allen). And the names of individual stores that buy directly are kept on index cards in file cabinets.
Long-distance bicyclist Andy Claflin says he started using Bag Balm on a cross-country race last June, when a teammate turned him on to it for saddle sores.
Claflin, 37, from Dayton, Minn., was suffering from saddle sores as he competed in the Race Across America. A teammate told him it was good for the sores, a bane of long-distance biking. So he slathered some on, down below.
"I was sitting there in Arizona, it's 110 degrees, the air conditioning wasn't working, the crapper in the RV wasn't working, I gotta' bike 100 miles in this heat and great, I've got to deal with this," he said. "It was nasty and filthy and it felt weird ... But I didn't have saddle sores from then on, riding 130 miles a day. When you're on the bike, you're like 'Oh, this stuff is great.'"
Marge Boyle, 62, a quilter in Paducah, Ky., keeps a tin by her sewing machine.
"It's really a wonderful product when you're sewing, because of all the pinpricks you get. It soothes and heals your fingers. Quilters are always pricking their fingers. We wash our hands constantly to keep them free of dirt, and you need something to soothe them," she said.
And it's still de rigeur in barns, where it all started.
Dairy farmer Willie Ryan has used it since the '70s, to soothe the chapped teats of cows. And more.
"The cows get frostbit sometime, so we use the Bag Balm," said Ryan, 60, of Craftsbury, Vt. "Any open wound with swelling, you just put some of that in and put a pack bandage on it and it does wonders. Don't ask me how, but it does," he said.
For all its myriad uses, there's one place its makers say never to use it.
"Never put Bag Balm in your hair, because you will not get it out," said Wilkerson.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I struggle with the long distance grandmother stuff. I'd much prefer the picket-fence-cookies-and-milk grammy down the street, but my kids are sprinkled hither and yon. I pour over the blogposts, and when we get together it takes a while to teach them to associate my face with all things warm and wonderful. And they're just so huggable...sniff...sniff. Blasted economy. Blasted nuclear family extinction. Blasted distances. In 15,20 years maybe they'll bring their roommates for a weekend. I promise I'll make chili and hot rolls...I'll be quirky and funny and you can laugh and talk about "that grammy" all the way back to college. In the meantime don't forget me.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
When I awoke at 2:43 A.M. (the moon is nearly fully, thus illuminating my bedroom), I tried to put myself back to sleep by reciting this Robert Burns poem which my 7th graders have memorized and recited one by one, line by line on Valentine's Day for 48 points. Valentine's Day at our middle school is highly volatile and emotional. In fact, a fight broke out yesterday in the 8th grade hall resulting in 3 day suspensions for two youngsters--one defending the "honor" of his girlfriend. Val's Day is a dress up occasion at BLMS. One lad wore a hot pink silk vest with a matching bowtie--remnants of a friend's brother's wedding. He looked (and I'm sure felt) dapper. The rule is that young men must wear ties, so the principal facilitates this by placing a hodgepoge box of thrift store ties out for student use. Unfortunately directions are not included. Several young men went the full 9 yards and wore suits. And then the young ladies--high heels. Teetering high heels. And bejeweled hair done up on their heads. It's a regular Easter Parade. My personal brand of "torture" this year was to assign a love poem for memorization due on this day. Picture this beautiful poem delivered 52 times with varying degrees of success and aplomb. Standing on one leg and then the other. Stumbling over the Scottish brogue insertions in the text. "So deep in love am I". I looked them square in the eye as they recited and prompted them as needed. Is this dropping well below the "pearls before swine" line that I so often cross? Is this exquisite poetry just washing off their backs? Would Robert Burns care that his heart's work was being galloped through by a slick backed haired kid with a mouthful of metal? I have a small vision of a moonlit night down the road. Same kid--teeth straight now--a young lady at his side, anticipation high on both sides. Will he miraculously recall this poem and go down in the annals of history? Probably not. But then maybe...
Friday, February 11, 2011
(They originally asked me to pose for this cartoon, but my agent advised against it.)
Pictured below is a young physician by the name of Dr. Starner Jones. His short two-paragraph letter to the White House accurately puts the blame on a "Culture Crisis" instead of a "Health Care Crisis". It's worth a quick read:
Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone. While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.
It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me". Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.
STARNER JONES, MD
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Our Windstar van did not, in fact, survive. As per our "Do Not Resusitate" wishes, she was pronounced dead on February 9, 2011, at approximately 3 P.M. She leaves behind a Subaru and a Ford truck. In lieu of flowers, friends may send motor oil to the grieving survivors.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Check this out! I'm just going to dispense with the formalities, pack my satchel, and head for the movies!! I'll pretty much need to plan my whole next entire year around seeing all these movies!!! Muppets!! Atlas Shrugged! Hugo Cabret!! Those sly folks down Hollywood way have been sending mind probes up here to read my mind!!! Hope some show up that tickle your fancy too!
Monday, February 7, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
My local library is having an adult reading contest. Read a book, put a ticket in the fishbowl. Read NONFICTION and you get to put in two! On April 1st names will be drawn for prizes. I'm going for the Kindle. Last year I won 3 prizes!!!! A library-themed apron, a boxed game of Bunco, and some perfume. I realize the competition is tougher this year. I'm going to have to work harder. My strategy is to focus on nonfiction--"Oh, P-L-E-A-S-E don't throw me into that briar patch!!!" (I lurve nonfiction.) I'm going to have to forego some sleep to work in more reading. But I'm off and running! First stop, a delightful book about spending a week at Heathrow written by a quipy Scot. Speaking of the airport's owner who commissioned Mr. de Botton to be Heathrow's "artist-in-residence" for a week, the author writes: "I felt myself to be benefiting from a tradition wherein the wealthy merchant enters into a relationship with an artist fully expecting him to behave like an outlaw; he does not expect good manners, he knows and is half delighted by the idea that the favoured baboon will smash his crockery." And I, kind reader, fully intend to "smash the crockery" of this contest, as well.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Those who have visited us know that we're nestled/crammed among multiple canyons. Sometimes in the winter all four roads into town are closed. If you tend towards claustrophobia, watch out. Today Paco chose one of the "escape routes" fully intending to visit the temple in Logan. Enter (front right) a massive boulder--OK, it wasn't as large as this one. But he had to make a split second decision--Do I swerve around it and smash head on into that car? Do I slam on the brakes and slide who knows where? Do I hit the boulder? He hit the boulder and by so doing nearly gutted the undercarriage of our mini van. Would you please send up a prayer for our car tonight? We're thinking maybe totalling it out might be a good option. When George takes a look/see that might be what he decides. So Paco was towed home, and our Windstar is probably weeping helplessly over at the garage. This could have ended oh so more dramatically. Right???
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Happy Happy to all you Woodchuck Chuckers out there! Minus 20 here. A forced "snow day". It seems the fuel in our school buses turns into a gelatinous mess at minus 20. I turn into a gelatinous mess long before then. But I'll take the day off, thank you. Tomorrow too?? I remember a Groundhog Day celebration at BYU where we suspended a potato with toothpicks in a glass, decorated it with eyes and some paper clothes, wrapped Christmas lights around it, and thought we were very clever and funny. Actually we were.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Why, when you wake up at 3:A.M., don't your thoughts turn to yawning puppies and mooshy baby blankets and all-you-can-eat sushi, and the stellar educational standards upheld by Finnish students? Maybe your's do. I'm not quite so fortunate. My thoughts turn immediately to my mortality, my regrets, my failings, the mountain of work awaiting me at school today, the book I've misplaced somewhere in the house, and this morning--the minus 45 degrees morning I am going to have to face. My all-time "pet" mind jarring waker-upper, though, undoubtedly is contemplating my mortality. In the deep dark recesses of the pre-dawn hours (supplemented by a lonely train whistle--bet you've never heard of "a cheery train whistle"), I review my life. It comes as quite a shock to me that I haven't been more dazzling. I thought I would be. I had high hopes for myself. I pictured more rose-covered picket fences, more traditional paths, and above all a calming assurance that I was maximizing my time here on earth. More often than not I find myself thinking, "Is this ALL for me? Is this IT???" Some of the less sterling scenes in my life leave me just glad I could "limp off the stage without unconsciously trailing toilet paper off the heel of my shoe." I envisioned perhaps more figurative applause. I thought my tally would be longer. Instead I find myself quite ordinary. No, I'm not on any wanted posters. No, I don't appear on welfare rolls. No, I don't cross the street to avoid enemies. I live a quiet life in a small town where I know probably 60% of the residents by their first names. I teach, I serve, I cry at funerals, I pet my dog. I mother, I grandmother, I sister, I aunt, I niece, I friend, and I wife. I'm not sure what I expected 57 to look like, but then again, I'm not sure I'm willing to accept that this is ALL it looks like. Part of my late night angst also centers around the realization that I'm breaking down; I'm graying and cracking. I find myself reaching for reading glasses and mincing around on the ice like I'm 274. Who knows? Maybe from a distance I might be mistaken for someone REALLY hunched and old. Is there a cane in my future? Diverticulitis? Drool? It all seems well within the realm of possibility...during these early forays into my existential self. Fortunately when I awaken I can usually pull it together...at least for now. But what about bladder control? And involuntary flatulence? And losing my teeth one...by one...by one...?