Just repeat after me…

I knew this would happen. I knew that I’d keep forgetting it was Tuesday. I knew from experience that I’d get caught up in summer-time activities and in my usual fog of not  knowing what day it is. It happens to retirees you know.

Anyway, today I remembered. Not only did I remember but I also remembered that I found a clipping while cleaning out my office filing cabinet. Unfortunately, I don’t have recorded what newspaper the clipping came from, but, nevertheless, I’m going to go with it. I think the exercise might serve as a good brain teaser to get geared up for “back to school.”

New York Magazine used to run a contest in which participants were to take a well-known foreign language expression, change a single letter, and provide a definition for the new expression. Here are some examples:

Harlez-vous Francais   (Can you drive a French motorcycle?)

Cogito Eggo Sum   (I think; therefore I am a waffle)

Rigor Morris  (The cat is dead)

Respondez s’il vous plaid  (Honk if you’re Scottish)

Que sera serf   (Life is feudal)

Posh mortem   (Death styles of the rich and famous)

Pro Bozo publico   (Support your local clown)

Apres Moe le deluge  (Larry and Curly got wet)

Felix Navidad  (Our cat has a boat)

Haste cuisine  (Fast French food)

Quip pro quo  (A fast retort)

Veni, vidi, vice  (I came, I saw, I partied)

Mazel ton    (Tons of luck)

Aloha oy   (Love, greetings, farewell, from such a pain you should never know)

Veni, vipi, vici  (I came, I’m a very important person, I conquered)

Cogito, ergo, spud  (I think, therefore, I yam)  O.K. more than one letter.

Veni, vide, velcro  (I came, I saw, I stuck around). O.K. another exception.

Fun challenge. Something to think about today.  Happy Tuesday!



The “Joys” of Travel

“To travel is to live,” says Hans Christian Andersen.

That may be true, but preparing to travel, well, that shaves hours if not days off my life! Yesterday, my husband and I began the preparations for our 10-day vacation in Iceland. We had a list: necessary gear, passports, comfortable clothing and shoes, rain gear, fleeces, camera (yes, the phone is not enough), parking reservation at the airport, old-folks insurance (medicare is not useful in Europe). We managed just fine. (I’m lying, but you really don’t need to be privy to all of our spats, do you?)

Then, my husband tried to notify our credit card company that we would be away. That was so much fun. “Say the first three letters of your mother’s maiden name.” He replies. “We’re sorry. That is incorrect. Please try again.” He does. “We’re sorry. That is incorrect. Please hold.” Tell me why the “music” on hold is so annoying.  Several minutes later, a human being asks a series of other questions. She puts us on hold while she checks with her supervisor. “Thank you for holding, Mr. Dougherty. Do you know anyone named “Diane”? ”


“Please hold.”

15 minutes later we were approved for travel. We probably won’t even use that card. It was my idea to take two different cards–one I will carry and one he will carry “just in case.” We’d already notified the other company.

Then I tried to print our tickets. After entering all of the passport information, I was asked if we wanted to “expedite” our wait in security for $15 per passenger. Why not? My husband is not a patient man at airports, and what’s another $30? But the site would not accept my credit card! I did print the tickets though. One more chore completed.

Today the weather man predicts strong storms in the late afternoon. Let’s hope we take off on time since we have a connecting flight. I have a friend who says she loves traveling with me. “You do all the worrying, and I don’t have to.”

“Life is short and the world is wide.” We’re off to see it.

Hooray for Rain!

So, my part of Pennsylvania has had a particularly rainy May, and I can’t say I was thrilled about it while it was happening. I tried having a “little talk” with the rain drops, but it did no good at all. Now that the rain has stopped for several days, I am rejoicing at the lush greenness around me: the vibrant tree leaves, the new growth pachysandra, the grass that is calf high–all of it makes me happy. But nothing makes me rejoice more than the ease of weeding after a long period of rain. This morning it took me no time to pull out stubborn dandelions and onion grass. My Hellebores are happy in their pristine beds. The Hostas seem to be smiling at me. Joy!

What I missed most during the rainy period was listening to the school children as they wait for the bus just at the end of my driveway. They are accompanied by their parents, since the children are K-3, but they manage to find something to laugh about every day, and the sound of that laughter provides me with hope and optimism on even the worst news day.

I believe that we need to appreciate our moments of bliss when we find them. Last year at this time it was hard for me to believe in joy. When one’s very good friend is ailing, and when most days are spent in the confines of a hospital room, joy can be fleeting, elusive. We wanted to be happy and we did rejoice in the small things–the funny cards, the kindness of the nurses, the scent of the roses. I just read a remark from Doris Day, whose movies were the backdrop of many of my teen year Saturday afternoon matinees. She said, “I like joy. I want to be joyous; I want to have fun; I want to smile and I want to make people laugh.  I like being happy.”

I guess we all want that. We just have to look hard sometimes to find the strength to rise up to it.

Gentle on my mind

Some things on my mind today:

Judith Viorst has a new book of poetry about marriage. I need to find and buy that book after reading her interview in Sunday’s NY Times. She sounds like I would sound if I were as smart as she is.

Cool temperatures are better for exercising. Who didn’t know that! When I see people jogging on a hot and humid day, I want to call an ambulance for them.

Dirt is dead, but soil is alive and packed with nutrients AND it keeps carbon out of the atmosphere. I didn’t know that.

We will be traveling to Iceland soon and I have just become aware that skin infections, often perplexing skin infections, may be an unwanted souvenir I or my husband may bring back with us. Still going though.

Am I the only  person in the nation who isn’t enthralled with Game of Thrones? Haven’t watched a single episode so I don’t care that there was a Starbucks cup on display during the 4th one.

Do I know what the “stars” wore at the Met Gala (the biggest night of the year)? No, no, I do not.

Giving up may be the best way to solve a problem sometimes. That little tidbit is from the “Smart Living” section of the Times. Can’t say that I agree, but, hey, refer to my first entry. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed some days. This may be that day.

So there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. Stop the presses.

These are “gentle” on my mind. No cause for angst or rage or sorrow or ill temper. Just cause for thinking and wondering about. An escape from focusing on “he who must not be named” 24/7.

Always a Teacher

When I retired, I wondered aloud to my high school students, “What will I be when I’m not a teacher anymore?” Being a teacher was my identity; teaching was my way of life. One of the young men replied, “Mrs. Dougherty, don’t worry about it. You will always be a teacher.”

So many years later I realized the truth of his statement. One of my good friends, who has never been a cook, wanted to host Easter dinner and make everything herself. Since I had promised her cooking lessons as a Christmas present several years ago, she asked me to teach her the basics of pot roast with root vegetables. I demonstrated, I guided, she practiced, and it turned out beautifully.

On the big day she followed the plan and even tweaked it to add grilled vegetables to the menu as well as deviled eggs and rice. The meal was a success. She called me Monday to say that she would never have had the courage to cook for guests if it hadn’t been for the lessons.

That’s what teaching is all about. Not only do teachers demonstrate, but we encourage, we give our students the fundamentals and also the means to move forward in a positive way. I’m not sure my former student meant, “Mrs. Dougherty, you will always be a teacher,” as a compliment, but I decided to take it as one. Being a teacher isn’t something one can eliminate from one’s biography.


I Confess

In March I sliced about my outrage at the persistence of coarse language in our society today. Well…

My writing partner Lynne and I attended the MRA Conference in Quincy, MA last week.  I enjoyed it very much. From Irene Fountas to Jack Gantos to Chris Tovani, I learned, I mingled, I met new people, I reconnected with old friends and acquaintances. At dinner one evening, I met a woman who, it turns out, had spent summers in my home town in Northeastern, PA. She said, “You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s so small.” We were both surprised that I not only heard of it, it was my home for the first 18 years of my life.

It was a great conference.

I had driven from Southeastern Pennsylvania to the conference in Massachusetts. Lynne and I presented on Friday, and left the hotel at 3:00 p.m. for the ride home. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we stay and leave on Saturday morning? Why didn’t we have dinner and leave later in the evening? Well, we did not. Instead, with all the optimism of the unwashed, we hit the road. Things were fine at first. Aren’t they always “fine at first”? Then, I made the first of many mistakes: I entered I-95 South. Instead of the route taking me across the Tappen Zee, I was on route to the George Washington Bridge. “Oh, well,” we thought, “how bad can it be?”

I had my GPS going, and Lynne had her Google Maps App also giving directions. Siri said, “There is a 2-hour delay ahead. Would you like a faster route?” Would we! Why ask? Thus began the battle of the GPS’s. As I followed Siri, my GPS recalculated. By this time it was raining just enough for poor visibility but not enough for the crazy drivers who will tailgate and pass on the left or the right no matter the conditions.

As we approached NY City, the GPS’s began battling. I followed Siri into the city, where the lane to turn left was blocked by a city vehicle surrounded by police cars. I turned left at the next spot and made a U-turn, which was incorrect. I started following my GPS then. Back to the fray and the beginning of my use of much coarse language. There was traffic — Surprise! There was construction — Shock! There were lane blockages — Amazing! There were drivers who wouldn’t let me merge — Astonishing! You don’t want to hear the epithets I shouted.

However, in my defense, there were no children present.

So, I confess that I am no stranger to coarse language. Forgive me.


Forget about it

I read a piece in yesterday’s NY Times about the positive effects of forgetting. We all have events, mistakes, gaffes that haunt us. I, myself, when I think of my first years teaching, can recall many “Wish I hadn’t done that!” moments. When those memories surface, I feel regret and even shame. I want to go back and find that young lady to whom I said, “I don’t need YOU to tell me where the paper is,” when I clearly DID need her to tell me, and apologize to her. But she probably has no recollection of the incident.

The premise of the article is that memory can be a trouble maker. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for some to forgive themselves or others, when the incident remains so firmly in the forefront of their minds.  If remembering, they say, is a dynamic process, then forgetting, too, requires effort. If we wish to intentionally forget, to put unpleasant memories behind us, we need to  intentionally relegate those memories to oblivion. So says the author of the article.

For most of us, for me anyway, that is easier said than done. I can forgive and forget slights done to me, but I have an impossible task trying to forget the wrongs done to my children. My daughter says that she doesn’t need to hold grudges because I never forget any of them. (That’s not something I’m proud of, by the way.) I also have a difficult, if not impossible task, trying to forget my own embarrassing blunders. There was the time I introduced Charles Dickens’ novel “The Sail of Two Titties,” to a class of 10th graders. I laugh now, but not too loudly.

According to the article, “bad” memories can be changed, less from erasing them and more from editing them. Like a piece of writing, we have the ability to revise memories, focusing on minor details and putting in the background the major incident. Sounds like a lot of work to me. At my age, just like the crow’s feet and the turkey neck, I think I’ll live with my past. After all, my experiences have made me who I am today. So, fuhgeddaboudit.