A Child’s Laughter

Last night was shopping at Walmart (Yes, I shop there, get over it if you object.), and while meandering through the grocery area, I heard a child laughing full out in a belly laugh. I walked to the end of the aisle, and a little girl about three years old was with her Daddy. I don’t know what he was telling her, but she was howling with laughter. Those happy, bright notes of pleasure had an astounding effect on everyone within ear shot.

Grumpy shoppers, worn out and tired, bogged down at the end of the day, were busy taking care of their business and avoiding eye contact with anyone else. We were all shuffling along, automatons filling our shopping baskets, not a smile amongst us. But, when that little girl started laughing out loud, heads came up. People paused and listened. Some went to see what was going on, others just stood where they were. Slowly, smiles appeared. People started looking each other in the eye, small comments were shared, and everyone felt the world lighten around them.

While I watched the little girl and her dad walk away, totally unaware of the joy they were bringing to all of us around them, I thought that there was nothing sweeter than the laughter of a child. It quite brought back a bit of Christmas Spirit to my sad soul. Bless you little girl, whoever you are, and wherever you are. And Bless you, her Daddy, who loves your child so much and knows how to make her joyful. girl with margarites in her hair

The Lost Art of Swearing: Disclaimer, NOT MY WORK. I just thought it was SO funny.

As excerpted from the University of Wisconsin Student Voice – 15 April 1999

Everyone can swear, but very few can do it with any degree of style.
The art of swearing has all but disappeared from our modern language. Gone are the days of witty insults and stinging barbs. What used to be a creative process has been replaced by a short list of four-letter words.
When was the last time you heard a guest on the “Jerry Springer Show” call someone a “knotty-pated fool,” or “obscene greasy tallow-catch,” (a tallow-catch was a large tub used to collect the waxy drippings from candle making)?
These clever Shakespearean invectives have been swallowed up by unintelligent, unimaginative and overused swear words.
Anyone can use a common swear word, but a truly creative person would strive for the uncommon.
Shakespeare loved insults, invectives and curses. He was a master of the art of swearing, whether through a full-blooded volley of words or a quick, sharp barb. Some are even almost too graphic to say out loud.
So instead of hearing, “Away, you scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” the viewing audience hears an annoying string of beeps.
These garden-variety insults have wormed their way so deep into American culture that we have forgotten what a true insult really is.
How much heat is really behind a five-letter word for a female dog? We have become desensitized to these worthless excuses for swearing. There is no other way to explain the emergence of these words on prime-time television. With the exception of the mother of all swear words, what haven’t you heard broadcast across the networks?
The viewing audience and newspaper readers deserve more witty repartee from writers than what the guests on “Springer” are capable of engaging in.
People have simply become complacent. Who wouldn’t rather hear someone called a “lump of foul deformity,” a “poisonous bunch-backed toad,” an “elvish-marked, abortive rooting hog?”
Even those who wrote in classical Latin had more imagination when it came to hurling insults at each other.
Plautus once said, “Do me a favour and get that twaddle-talking tongue of yours surgically removed from your mouth.” Which is infinitely more inventive than a simple shut-up could ever be.
So the next time you find yourself in a situation that requires a witty epitaph, consider these. They are considerably more imaginative and effective than the commonly used utterances. You can thank Shakespeare later.
The all-purpose insult: “Were I like thee I’d throw away myself,” or “You are as a candle, the better part burnt out.”
Curses: “Son of sixteen, / Pluck the lined crutch from thy old limping sire; / With it beat out his brains!”, “Gods give me strength to endure the torture of your company!” or “Thou cream-faced loon!”
Threats: “Let me go grind their bones to powder small / And with this hateful liquor temper it; / And in that paste let their vile heads be baked.”

Other Clean Insults:
“I beg your pardon! I had not realised how utterly outmatched you are by me. As worthy as you are of a good thrashing, there is no honour in shaming one who is less than a fool.”

“You have the face of a swamp troll, and the brains of half of one.”

“May each of your days be worse than the last and may you live forever!”

“Do you realise that you are depriving a village somewhere of an idiot?”

“Is ignorance really bliss, or are you just faking it?”

“Anyone with half a brain could have figured that out! Oh, pardon, I forgot for a moment who I was speaking to.”

“Your tongue trips over your words as if they were obstacles set before you.”

Wooley World

Recently, I have been ill. I had a bad fall and ended up with cracked ribs and a badly sprained ankle. The doctors were kind enough to load me up with medication that stopped the pain while making it impossible for me to do anything more than hobble to the bathroom and kitchen from my perch in bed or on the sofa. When I get that loopy, the words tend to crawl around the pages of any book I want to read, so I end up staring at the television. I must say it is shocking how R rated the daytime soaps have become. I caught a quick glance while channel surfing for something worth watching. Holy cats! I didn’t know that sort of thing was allowed on regular TV!



I often woke up out of a drugged sleep in the middle of the night, and had to wait an hour or more until I could take more pain medication. I would flip through channels just to see what was on to distract myself. I have never seen so many odd things for sale in my life! And boy are the people selling the products enthusiastic about what they are offering the viewing public. Everything one could want for a kitchen, bathroom, house decorations, along with vitamins, jewelery, office organization, and get rich quick schemes blare at top decibel from the TV speakers. They even have stuff for pets ranging from keeping them flea free and well groomed, to training programs. Want to learn a foreign language? Just go on line or ring them up and they will fix you up as long as you have a credit card. Gym equipment and weight loss programs by the dozen are flogged by has been movie stars and muscle bound guys and gals to the tune of hundreds of dollars. Use their product and you will be magically thin, buff, and sexy. Doesn’t matter if you have the mug of a bull dog, you will be one of the beautiful people.



My family and friends were sympathetic about the misery I was in, but had to get on with life. So, I thought my dogs and cats would be understanding and fill in the love I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. Dogs, while sympathetic at first, have short attention spans and forget that jumping in my lap, stepping on my foot, and expecting me to play tug of war are things that hurt me. After a bit, they wander off and take a nap, or find something to chew up. Cats, however, being the singular critters they are, have absolutely no sympathy at all. My job, after all, is to make sure their every need is met on their time schedule. The two mature cats just looked at me with disgust and went out to find their own food. The kittens, being young and silly, thought it was a great game to play chase me across, over, and around me. Not a problem until they hit my ribs and tripped me when I was using my crutches and carefully carrying a glass of milk back to the sofa. Come to think of it, they really enjoyed the spilled milk, so I think they were in cahoots with the dogs and they tripped me on purpose. The four of them had a nice snack after all.



One day it stormed, and I was shaken out of a doze by one huge half pit half lab dog trying to turn into a lap dog, the mini-pin was burrowing under the covers, and all four cats piled on the bed fighting for my lap too. Lovely, I get ignored until the sky booms and then I am the safety net? As the days wore on, the cats decided that it was cool if I was sitting still, my lap made a great place to nap. The dogs used my groggy state to sneak up on the furniture, and I think I fed them all the hot dogs by mistake, because they sure were happy to see me wobble into the kitchen on a regular basis.



I am glad that I am back on my feet. My mind is clearing, and I seem to remember that I let our 14 year old get away with stuff too. I don’t remember telling her she could wear black eye liner, but she swears I did. My husband got away with things too. I think he fed everyone mac and cheese for three days in a row, either that or the boxes grew legs and walked off. Next time I get hurt, I am going to stick with the Tylenol no matter how bad it gets. At least then I will be able to read a book, keep my brain working, and stay out of the fuzzy, woolly, world where word crawl around pages, animals laugh at me, and I don’t remember my own name.

Pixie World (for Nick and Bella)

There is a place far away where certain pixies live,
A place that holds all stories told to children small and big.
Within the boundaries and flower walls, the pixies dwell,
And hold within thier knowledge all the stories we can tell.

It isn’t an easy place to find,
It requires a certain kind of mind.
But there are those who know the way,
And that stories flow from that place.

How fortunate that person is who knows the secret way,
To magic places and lovely lands where children want to stay.
And listen wide eyed with wonder,
 To stories of dragons and thunder.

The story pixies smile and giggle as the children learn,
That certain stories let them take a turn,
At telling secrets, and whispering silly tales,
Of purple orangutans and polka dotted whales.

What strange and fascinating things await the traveler there,
where story pixies are eager to share,
The lovely poems and simple fairy tales,
That cause a child to laugh or wail.

In joy the pixies wait for the traveler to come,
 (a grownup must be the one),
And find the way to the story pixies who yearn,
To share what they have learned.

So children small and big every where,
Can come to visit the pixies there.