Quotes and Memorable Phrases

I’ve always admired authors who can sprinkle their prose with Latin, French, or German phrases without sounding snobbish. This is a skill I have not mastered.

My current guilty pleasure reading is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Set in England and Egypt from 1896 to 1926, the main character is an independently wealthy amateur Egyptologist.  Ms. Peters not only sprinkles Latin, German and French throughout, but translations of ancient Egyptian poems and prayers and Arabic sayings.

Knowing I am hopelessly out-classed in this field, I have decided to coin some of my own phrases as well as draw from popular culture. Here goes! (That’s one.)

“There’s a lot of that going around.” I like this one because of its versatility.  It is a very useful phrase to use when a new acquaintance starts to tell you about her current cough, or her nephew’s flu. It can also mean there’s a lot of stupidity and silliness going around – depends on the context.

“What the …..?” Best left unfinished, this phrase can be used to express a variety of emotions ranging from genuine confusion to outright anger.

“Now where did I put that?” Used by a wide range of people or all ages. Contrary to popular belief, it is not limited to senior citizens.

“Be right there.” Of course you won’t. You have twelve things to do before you respond, all of which will take more time than you intended. Sometimes it works to placate, at least temporarily.

“Truth is not victimized by fiction.” This is an original. Sounds good, somewhat philosophical and almost poetic, but most likely not true.

“The exception proves the rule.” This phrase really gets my goat! (See, another one.) On the face of it, it makes no sense. According to my research, the old-fashioned syntax disguises its true meaning, which is “The exception disproves the rule.” (Proves=tests).

Enough of this for now. Got to get going  before my get up and go is gone. (Sorry about that last one).




Destructive, Dysfuntional, Dystopian — Distasteful!

I went to the movies this last weekend to see Paddington. I went, I tell myself, because I am doing research on children’s book characters who are kind, thoughtful and strong, instead of obnoxious, loud and mean. Paddington has just made his movie debut, and while I have read two of Michael Bond’s twenty-five book series (I read the 1959 first book and the 2012 last book), I wanted to see first hand how children responded to Paddington.

I was delighted. I got to the theater just after the movie started and found the perfect seat to see both the movie and the audience. The movie was technologically perfect. Paddington was a very appealing animation. If it is possible for a “bear” to move like a human and still remain a convincing bear, the creators of Padding did it. The human cast was spot-on. I even forgot for a while that Mr. Henry Brown was really Lord Grantham and should have been at Downton Abbey instead of in a quirky townhouse in London.

As the movie proceeded, children and their parents began to giggle and laugh. I even laughed out loud (LOL?). It was great to see families together. Padding was a hit. While there was danger and conflict – after all there is no story without those two elements, it didn’t scare the children, it engaged them.

Paddington was rated PG, along with Into the Woods. I think Into the Woods would be far scarier to a three to five-year old than Paddington. Of course the next rating level higher (PG 13) includes such high fear-factor movies as Taken and The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.

I’m glad I went. It gave me a much-needed lift. I am more convinced than ever that all of us need many more heroes who are kind, thoughtful and strong.



DSCF1955                  Since I don’t have any pictures of cute bears, Sofie has agreed to pose.

The Routine! The Routine!

Research tells us our brains deal with the overwhelming amount of information available to it by categorizing that information, often in terms of what is a danger, and what is not: e.g. fire is hot and a danger, sunsets are beautiful and not a threat. The information is cemented through experience. If you live anywhere near traffic, when you hear the screech of brakes, you expect to hear the sound of a crash (danger). If we don’t hear the crash sound, most of us breathe a sigh of relief and go about our business. The crash sound brings about another response (fear, anxiety). Over time, the responses are routinized; loud noises make you look around to assess danger, hot chocolate makes your mouth water; you do not have to stop and think each time, what does that mean?

Because so many of our responses, both physical and emotional, are a matter of routine, it frees our brains to do other, more interesting things, such as shopping after Christmas sales.

I found myself in just that situation the Friday after Christmas. One would think my past experience would have led me to avoid shopping on that day (Danger! Crowds! Debt!), but my lack of experience and the failure of the battery in my beautiful watch led me to the mall to replace the battery at a fix it shop. I should have realized that fifty others would do the same, but I had never shopped at a mall on the 26th of December. Naively, I set out on my mission.

“It will be ready in thirty minutes,” said the clerk. “Do you have other shopping to do?”   “Sure,” I replied with a smile. “See you then.”

I had no watch; after all, mine had a dead battery. I had no idea when “thirty minutes” would be up. Have you noticed that there aren’t many clocks in the malls? Kind of like casinos in that respect. The other problem is that I lack the shopping gene. I am a strategic shopper. I research before I go, swoop in, make the purchase and leave. My husband always told me I shop like a guy. I took it as a compliment.

So, clueless, I wandered into the mega-department store in the mall and began my version of browsing. I discovered I was not very good at this. My rapid walk and horizon-scanning look was not in line with the sauntering required for successful browsing. I forced myself to slow down. After all, I had thirty minutes to kill. I began to notice that there were several items of clothing on the floor under dangling empty hangers. I stooped down and picked up one item and put it neatly back on the hanger. After the fifth stoop and hang, I was getting funny looks from the browsers, so I stopped.

I did find one item, which I decided to purchase. I stood in line behind five other shoppers. Most of them held armloads of clothing. They weren’t alone. Many of them brought family members who stood with them in line. Periodically the primary shopper would talk and gesture to one of the assistant shoppers who would leave and return with additional items. I stood holding my one sweater, no assistant at hand. After about fifteen minutes (I’m guessing since I had no watch and there were no visible clocks), a very nice lady with a large basket of chocolate candy came by and offered us a chocolate to keep up our energy while we waited. Sweet!

By the time I reached the cashier, she was glassy-eyed. I told her I had only one item. She smiled. “Thank heavens! I’ve been here six hours and it hasn’t let up!” I felt guilty for eating my piece of chocolate. She needed it far more than I did.

My shopping complete, I returned to the fix it shop and picked up my beloved watch. It only took two hours!

For those of you who do not live in California, and may not be cognizant of our customs, I am enclosing two photos of a typical California Christmas. Enjoy!



The California Christmas Tree with family pose.

P1000205                      One of the Camellia blossoms in Capitol Park, Sacramento CA.

(Yes, we had roses in bloom until the frost came this week. The camellias remain.)

 My husband and I had been taking a tour of the California Coast over the last two years. I’ve posted many of the pictures of our trips. We had planned to  continue our exploration of the coast, through Oregon and Washington State. My husband grew up in Washington. He wanted to revisit Cannon Beach Oregon and see Hay Stack Rock once again, but he did not make it. In November, we took his ashes and those of his younger brother, to Hay Stack Rock. Here are some photos of this haunting, beautiful beach.