Wisdom from the Sages Logo 2WISDOM FROM THE SAGES—MY NEW SITE

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………July 2017

Once again I have found a new place for my essays.  I am very grateful to all those who have found me at this site and have been willing to follow my ramblings.  It is very gratifying to see that many have purposefully arrived here and read what I have painstakingly written.  You are wonderful to do it. I started a new website on WordPress because I feel that it will give me more options.  It is still in its infancy as so many things are, but I would love to have you go to my new site and read and comment and follow.  Thank you immensely for your visits.  You make writing really, really fun!  Please visit me at wisdomfromthesages.com.



Elizabeth Willis Barrett……….March 2016

I asked a friend the other day why I just can’t seem to get anything done.  The kids are gone.  I don’t work in the regular sense of having to get ready and drive to a job.  Of course, the fact that we’ve moved after thirty-seven years of living in the same wonderful house might have something to do with it, since there are boxes of accumulated stuff that begs to be brought into the light and given a permanent new home.   She commiserated and then gave the answer:  “Electronics.”

“Electronics?”  Odd answer, till I let my addled brain soak it in for a bit.  She could be right.  Electronics have hip bumped their way into nearly everything I do.  It has been interesting to contemplate how much time I could devote to other things if I were to totally delete electronics from my life.  For instance, I listen to lots of books in a month.  It takes time to go to the library to search for books on CD.  Then I have to download them to my computer and then upload (?) them to my phone.  Or, since I have gotten pretty tech savvy, I go to Overdrive on my phone and choose books from there.  But still, it takes time to decide and to put some books on hold and some books on a wish list.  And when listening, it takes time to “rewind” often to see what I missed because my mind wandered.  A great deal of time is also used up untangling my headset.  Don’t know how that happens.  The simple solution to this time crunching dilemma would be to quit listening to books.  But I am hooked and have found my “weed of read.”

Texting takes a vast amount of time from me.  I am a one finger texter even after practicing the two thumb method that even Brad has mastered.  It’s no good.  I can’t move out of the one finger slow lane. Then I have to re-read and re-text what I’ve written to make sure my real meaning has come through.  Phoning would be so much easier.  That used to be when I got all my tedious work done—when having a great conversation on the phone.  You can’t scrub toilets while you’re texting.

I really don’t watch much TV.  The final episode of Downton Abby has aired and I haven’t even watched it yet!  Do not tell me what happens! Thanks.  But when I finally do want to watch something in particular on TV, I have to relearn how to get it in the right input, look for the right channel out of about 300 and find the right remote for the sound bar.  It takes time.  Much more time than simply walking up to the TV to turn it on, raise the volume and find the right channel out of four.

Facebook takes time.  I just want to scroll through quickly to see if anyone has gotten married or died and invariably I will get sucked in by a “Watch this, you won’t believe it!” line.  Then that site takes me to another.  I mean, who could possibly pass up the opportunity to know what has happened to former child stars or how to tighten saggy skin?  Those things are very important to one’s social standing.   Then, because Brad and I have our computers on the kitchen table for our constant perusal,  he tells me of indispensable knowledge he has learned, and I am double whammied with imperative information.  All very time-consuming.

And speaking of Brad: the day is fraught with “Where’s the_______________?” and “How do you______________?” and “Will you please________________?”  I just get going on a project like riding full speed on a bicycle when those questions throw me off course like a stick in the spokes.  To be fair, I do the same to him and he is much more patient than I, but many minutes are spent in the answering.

Soft water has nothing to do with electronics, but I have found that it takes forever to wash soap off with soft water.  I spend way too much time in the shower trying to get the same feeling I used to get with hard water.  I will conquer that idiocy soon.

Another thing that takes too much valuable time is deciding what to do when.  Or standing in my crowded closet  trying to determine the best choice of apparel.  I think my brain is running in molasses mode while my ambitions are tumbling over themselves in a water fall.

I always assumed that when the kids were finally grown, that time would be in great abundance.  I thought I would have ample hours to pursue all my interests with lots left over to wallow in luxuriantly.  I was wrong.

Perhaps the world is spinning faster, pressed on by an impatient God eager to get this phase of His creation over with.  Perhaps my body and mind are just slowing way down so that it looks like the world is spinning faster.  Perhaps I should just enjoy every day with its allotted minutes and quit taking so much time to analyze everything.

Well, it’s time to get back to my To-Do List.  Maybe I should start calling it “To Don’t.”


humble pie

Elizabeth Willis Barrett……….February 2016

Well, I’ve had another taste of humble pie.  Have you ever tasted it?  No? How could I describe it?  Bitter?  Grainy?  Unpalatable?  It is thoroughly disgusting.  It might taste like crow.  I think they’re similar.  When it comes to pie, I much prefer coconut cream.  Since coconut isn’t allowed in our house because of Brad’s strong aversion to it, I don’t get that kind very often.  But apple pie—at least Sam’s Club apple pie with the beautiful pastry lattice work—is a close second if warmed a little and piled with a great vanilla ice cream.

But back to humble pie.  I’ve had to eat it a few times lately and I still haven’t developed a taste for it.  The last serving came on Friday.  Because Brad was so concerned about me after I received the traffic ticket, he was going to be my ally and get to the bottom of Policeman X’s rudeness.  He called the commanding officer and a few others at the top.  Fortunately, those higher ups were busy and couldn’t get back to him.

Our very good friend Officer B came over, however, taking some valuable time from his beat.  All policeman carry video cameras so all of their doings are recorded just for the likes of me.  Before Officer B sat at our kitchen table, he had watched the video of the police officer giving me the ticket. I thought, of course, that he would tell me how misused I had been and how sorry he felt for me and that Officer X could have handled things much better.

He didn’t.  In fact, he said that he would have done and said the same things if it had been him giving me the ticket, excepting that he would have lightened up a bit just because he knows me. I learned a lot.  Because I made such a public fuss and according to Officer B was in the wrong, I feel a need to tell you what Officer B taught me in case an officer stops you on his way to keeping Gilbert safe:

—Most traffic cops give out about 40 tickets a day. I was just one of many.

—Officer X was not upset with me.  He was just doing his job.

—He was not rude or overly unpleasant.  That was my perception.

—You cannot get out of the car when you’ve been pulled over, even if a grandson is waiting.

—Police also have to protect themselves and don’t know if you are a harmless grandmother or a pistol totin’ one.

—It is routine to do a background check on everyone pulled over.

—Most people do not pull over where the officer tells them to.  They try to find a more suitable spot and once in a while that turns out to be a very dangerous place for the officer.

Officer B offered to take me in his patrol car any time I want to get a feel for all a policeman has to contend with.  He said a Friday night would be the most exciting.  Although a wild police ride would be a unique thing to add to my bucket list, I’m a little too wimpy to schedule it just yet.  It was a very generous offer though.

Gilbert Police Force, you’re doing a great job.  Carry on!  I’ll try to quit impeding your progress.  And someone—pass the pie—coconut, please.


Gilbert police


Elizabeth Willis Barett…………..January 2016

I’ve always liked the Gilbert police.  Not that I’ve had lots of run-ins with policemen, but when you’re working with a drug addict or have a minor traffic infraction, you have to speak to them once in a while.   On the whole, I have found them to be incredibly sensitive, friendly and helpful.  Until yesterday.  I now have something to recount to a judge and maybe he will require some changes in the force.

I was on my way to pick up my little three year old grandson from his pre-school class at Gilbert Elementary School.  He is a little doll baby and I love to see his face light up when he sees that it is me picking him up.  I don’t get to do it very often.  I was looking forward to the experience, but because of one very callous police officer, I don’t think I’ll have enough courage to pick him up from school ever again as long as I live—which might not be long.

I was almost to the school when I saw a police car on the other side of Elliot road just waiting for me.  And of course I was rushing a bit since I didn’t want to be late and have poor Maddix just stand there wondering who would be picking him up.  Sure enough, the policeman—whose name I should really say here just to keep you from thinking badly of any other well mannered and helpful Gilbert Policeman, but I won’t since he already is mad at me—was totally aware of my infraction.  And he was not going to let me get away with it.

He whipped his car down and around and behind me in seconds.  Those lights went whirring around and I pulled over immediately like you’re supposed to do.  Looking through the rear view mirror, I saw that the man was pointing for me to go forward and pull into the school.  So I did.  If you’ve ever been to Greenfield Elementary, you know that it is pretty crowded in there.  It didn’t occur to me to pull forward in front of the school which has never had any space when I’ve been there before, so I turned to the right and drove up and around the round-a-bout so Maddix’s teacher would see me and bring me the child before he felt abandoned.  The whirring red lights followed me around the round-a-about.  He didn’t feel the need to turn them off to keep my embarrassment from bursting from every one of my sorry pores.

Mr. Policeman came up to my window just as I was going to get out so Maddix could see that I was there.

“Stay in your car!” he demanded.  He must have thought I was trying for a quick get-a-way.

“I’ve got to get my grandson,” I countered.

It was raining, by the way.   This melancholy happening matched the weather.

“You don’t get to do what you want.” My public service officer threw that at me like I was always used to getting my way.

“I was just going to get my boy so he wouldn’t be afraid.”

“You are being stopped by a policeman and you don’t get to do what you want. You shouldn’t have driven in here.  You should have stopped in front of the school.”

I didn’t holler back that there was no room in front of the school and I needed to pick up my grandson.  I was very calm and even though tears were very close to slipping, I kept them in check and kept calm.

“You can’t just do things so that you aren’t inconvenienced,” he continued.  I think if he had had a paddle, he would have used it on me.

“I was just trying to get my grandson.”

“He could wait.  You can’t just do what you want when you’re being stopped by a policeman.”

Whew.  He said that about three times.  I like to think of myself as a very intelligent person.  I usually get things on the first go round.  Maybe he felt humiliated that I made him go in the parent pick-up circle.  Maybe he thought that I thought it would be funny to be followed around by a police car flashing its spectacular red light.  He didn’t know that this woman was lacking in humor at the moment.  And there was no where else to go.  He’s the one who told me to turn into the school.  Where did he want me to stop?  There wasn’t room anywhere.  And besides, I repeat, I needed to pick up Maddix.

“Give me your registration and insurance card.”

I’m not a swearer.  I’ve never sworn out loud unless it was by mere accident due to a mouth mal-function.  My older grandkids can hold that one over me.  But I will admit that as I leaned across to reach the glove compartment in an attempt to retrieve the latest registration and insurance info, an unattractive word came out in a whisper.  I think the situation called for it.

I grabbed all the papers that looked promising as the right ones and handed them to him.

“These have expired,”  he said.  Then he told me to sit still while he checked on something.  Probably to see if I was on the wanted list.

While he went back to his car, I was able to wave down Maddix’s teacher whose one hand held Maddix and the other held an umbrella. She looked as disgusted as the police officer.  Maddix wasn’t looking too happy either.

“Maddix’s mom didn’t say you were coming today.”  Her voice was as deadpan as her face.  I was needing a sympathetic smile from her.  Some commiseration.  An “I’ve been in your shoes before” kind of look.  But no.  She said nothing more as she put Maddix in the back seat.  Finally realizing that I wasn’t allowed to get out of the car and therefore couldn’t buckle him in, she reluctantly did the job for me.  No “goodbye.”  No “good luck.” No “I’m so sorry for your plight.”

When Officer He Who Cannot Be Named came back with my license and my expired insurance paper, he told me he was giving me a ticket.  (No, duh!) And that I had three choices:  pay it, go to traffic school (yet again??), or meet with the judge.  I think this time I will meet with the judge.  I just want to tell him that this man was very inconsiderate of a little boy that needed me and was extremely condescending to a grandmother who was trying her best to be compliant.

I really think that if I had opened my door once more or gotten a tiny bit irate as some would have done, the officer would have whipped out his gun and ordered me face down on the wet sidewalk.  I don’t think I would have ever recovered from that.  Neither would he.

Just so he knows what he could do better the next time he finds himself in a like circumstance, here are some suggestions:


1.  Smile

2.  Laughingly say, “Wow, I didn’t know I’d have to follow you into the parent pickup circle!  You’re a hard one to catch.”

3.  Allow the person to retrieve her grandson before the child gets scared that he will be left there all night with a teacher who is obviously in a bad mood.  (who wouldn’t be after a few hours with a class of preschoolers on a rainy day.)

4.  Then, with some regret, issue the ticket, making sure the person knows that you would rather not give the ticket, but after all, they were speeding in a school zone which you are sure they feel very badly about.

5.  Leave the criminal with some dignity.

All the way home, Maddix was silent, except to answer my questions with “Don’t talk to me!”  He didn’t want to be friendly with a criminal either.  No telling where that would get him.

Thank goodness for another grandchild.  When my ten year old granddaughter texted me about my day, I told her it was a sad day because I had gotten pulled over by a policeman.

“Well, at least you didn’t go to jail,” was her optimistic reply.  She finished with, “I wish I could come over and give you a big hug!”

Thank you, Claire.  That is exactly what I needed!




Elizabeth Willis Barrett………………December 2015

I love words.  Perhaps they, more than love, make the world go round.  People who speak my same language, including those in my own family, say some words differently.  It makes me cautious because I don’t want to say a word that someone else might think I have pronounced or used incorrectly.  The fear of being wrong is right up there with my fear of turning left. No….it isn’t that I fear being wrong.  What I fear is being wrong with an overbearing attitude of being right.  I would rather give myself some wiggle room to be wrong in and let others know that I know that I could possibly be wrong in the given situation.  I don’t like know-it-alls and have probably taken my turn at that role a few times.  Rather than play that part again, I’d rather get off the stage.  I will leave the role of Know-It-All to the narcissists of the world of which I think I know three.

My mom used to call a camera a “Kodak.”  I cringed every time she said it because it sounded way too close to “Kotex” for me.  That word conjures up some negative vibes that I’d rather not rile.

That’s probably how my kids feel when I negligently call flip flops “thongs.”  Or when Brad sings his elementary school alma mater song:  “Noble School will always mean to me…. lots of joy and pleasant memories.  All the boys and girls they say…. down at Noble School are gay………..”

The other day I asked one of my grandkids if she had seen a certain movie at the show house.  “What’s a show house?” she asked.  “You know,” I said, “a show house.  You don’t know what a show house is?  A theater.”   “Oh,” she said.  I realized that again my age was pushing past my great desire for youth and waving its purple handkerchief.  (I also put my shirt on backwards this morning which was quite disconcerting.)

Theater is a word that can be pronounced differently.  Sometimes I say “thee-A-ter” and sometimes I say “THEE-a-ter.”  Sometimes I say “en-velope” with a short e at the beginning and sometimes I say “on-velope” with a short o.  I say “creek”.  Some say “crick.”  I say “wash.”  Some say “warsh.”  I say “carmel.”  Some say “car-a-mel.”  I certainly don’t say “kinnygarten” for “kindergarten” as some do.  Nor do I say “patriartical” for “patriarchal.”  Or “pray-ers” for “prayers.”  Neither do I say “alunamun” for “aluminum” or “nucular” for “nuclear” as one of our leaders tends to do.

Some say “boo-tique” while I say “bo-tique” with a long o.  “Data” always trips me up.  Is it a long a or a short a? It makes me avoid that word.  “Route” is tricky, too.  I say “root” 66 but paper “rowt.”  I say “gala” with a long a but the gala aficionados seem to say “gala” with a short a.  Some might even say “gawla.”  I don’t hang with gala people much so I’m not too worried about my gala pronunciation.

It seems acceptable to say either (ī-ther or ee-ther) “nee-ther” or “nī-ther.”  I’m an “ee-ther”/“nee-ther” sayer.  I say “Q-pon” not “coo-pon” for “coupon.”  And “ca-fé” not “cá-fe.”  I say “en-chiladas” with a short e not “onchiladas” with a short o.  I say “a-pricot” with a long a not “a-pricot” with a short a.

There is a song by George Gershwin called “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”  A couple of lines say:  “you like tomatoes, I like tomatoes.” “you like potatoes, I like potatoes.” Which would be a pretty stupid song if you didn’t know that the first “tomatoes” was pronounced  “tō-may-toes” and the second was pronounced “tō-mah-toes.”  Same with “potatoes.”  One of my daughter’s roommates sang the whole song pronouncing the words the same.  Which, of course, made it a pretty stupid song.

When I was in grade school and the teacher called roll, which is probably a very out-dated procedure, some of the kids would say “president” instead of “present.”  I would just say “here” and marvel that kids would actually be dumb enough to think the other word was “president” instead of “present.”  Those were some of my Know-it-All days.  I was pretty smart then.  My knowledge base has shrunk a bit and what’s left to know has ballooned immensely.  I don’t feel quite as smart as I did as a Third Grader.

“Crayon” is a tricky word.  I’ve said “cren” most of my life.  One of my grandsons says “cran” so I don’t feel too backward.  I’m trying to switch over to “cray-on” which is the obvious way to pronounce it.

Some of my kids have turned their backs on their upbringing and now say “man-aise” instead of “may-naise.”  I don’t get that one.  Nor can I understand how they could possibly prefer Miracle Whip.

Finally I can use the words “interment” and “internment” in the right contexts.  That took a while.  Those words are not interchangeable.  I think I understand the correct use of “further” and “farther” and try not too mix them up too often.  But “from” and “than” are still messing with me.  And once I ordered “brawts” instead of “brats” with a short a.  I won’t do that again.

Three words I try hard to pronounce a certain way are “diabetes” and “poem” and “egg.” When I say “dīa-bee-tees” my son gives me a stare and says the word is “dīa-bee-tus.”  Or else he says it the first way and I say it the second way.  I can’t remember.  I have to ask him every time that horrendous disease comes up.  I have almost cured myself of saying “āgg” instead of “egg.”  And I grew up saying “poym.”  Didn’t you?  Now I try very hard to pronounce the word “pō-em” with a quick short e .

Speaking correctly is rather tiring but I don’t want to seem anything but brilliant in front of my children.  It’s getting harder and harder.



Elizabeth Willis Barrett………………November 1, 2015

I need to add to my list of disliked holidays.   I have made it very clear that I am less than a lover of Christmas.  I’ve said it so much that people who I didn’t think were aware of my idiosyncrasy, have become a bit confrontational.   I will probably have to write more on that subject since we’re now in November.  But today I will talk about my least favorite of all holidays:  Halloween.  For many, Halloween is their all time favorite holiday, even embracing it more than Christmas.  I don’t understand it, but I realize it.

Last night I HAD to go to a Halloween party.  A HUGE one.  Probably about 1500 Young Adults in an unsuspecting park.  We couldn’t even go late because our car was used for Trunk or Treat and had to be decorated. At least I didn’t have to do the decorating.  Plus, we figured we’d have to stay until the bitter end because of the same dilemma—our trunk was needed.  Young Adult hours are considerably later than Old Adult hours, so I was bracing for a late night of wandering and schmoozing.  Brad is a great schmoozer.  I am not.

Since we had just returned from a two day outing with some of those Young Adults and hadn’t slept the long and peaceful sleep of the undisturbed, I was anxious to give up Halloween all together and crawl into my own dependable bed for a long hybernation.  But no, I had to quick get into some kind of Halloween costume and hurry over to yet another gathering.

I have one go-to Halloween costume that takes no elaborate preparing, makeup or clothing.  Well, two.  I was going to wear a gray sweatsuit but I must have packed it when we crazily got the notion of selling this house and moving—more on that another time.  So I just wore black pants and a black shirt and safety-pinned socks all over me.  I went as “static cling.”  I don’t know who first thought of that as a costume.  Probably someone else who hates Halloween and wanted to get to some party with the least amount of preparation.

It is a little hard to “static cling” yourself, but Brad was busy trying to get ready and I didn’t want to ask him to stop and help me.  He has a floppy hat and some fake glasses that hold a fake mustache so he thought he was in great shape costume-wise.  Unfortunately, he had packed his glasses at the same time I was packing up my sweatsuit so he had to scramble for a costume.  Quickly he chose my second go-to costume: a ham sandwich.  This was a little difficult to create since I had also packed up the construction paper that would have provided all the colors we needed to turn him into a memorable ham sandwich.  But I hadn’t yet packed a roll of butcher paper and thankfully found a roll of green plastic table covering that hadn’t yet been included in the packing frenzy.  I cut out two pieces of bread from the brown butcher paper and two lettuce leaves from the green plastic and quickly safety-pinned them to Brad—a piece of bread and lettuce leaf in front and a piece of bread and lettuce leaf in back.  At least the ham was authentic.  He would also have made a believable bologna sandwich.


We finally got to the party.  Once again I found myself climbing to the side of the minority.  Of the 1500 gallivanting through the park in their very clever costumes, most looked like they had a love affair going on with my un-beloved holiday.  Halloween was well honored and celebrated.  And to be fair, I had a very good time visiting with friends and commenting on superb creativity.

I like my life.  I like what I do.  I have always considered time to be a very precious commodity and I’m heading to the scarce end of it.  The thought of taking valuable time to decorate the house with ghoulish specters or to dream up time-consuming costumes just doesn’t sound very inviting.  I’d rather take the time to practice photography, or practice writing or practice my “just the right size” guitar.  And now that Halloween is over, it will only be minutes before the need to prepare for Christmas will be hollering at us from every direction.  Aaaaaaaaaa!

I give thanks for the welcomed holiday in between—Thanksgiving.  My favorite.  I’m with my family—the absolutely most important people in the whole world—for an un-pressured  day of good food and gratitude.   And all Thanksgiving asks of me is some beautiful fall leaves and one huge, delicious meal……Plus lots and lots of thanks.  I’m up for that.




Yellow Envelopes


Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………….October 2015

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  Life has just whisked me away into one crisis after another as I’m sure it has you.  In fact, life might be so busy that you haven’t even gone to your mail box to see some large yellow envelopes from the Elections Department.  Or maybe you picked them up and stashed them in a “get to later” pile or quickly hid them with all the other mail and stuff on your counter because someone just rang your doorbell and might come into the kitchen.  I, for one, like to pretend that my house is always in order even though it often isn’t.

Well, go get those envelopes right now and open them up.  Time is running out and it has become imperative that we rally together and vote YES for the education of our Gilbert youth.  If you’re waiting to go to the polls to place your very affirmative vote, you’ll wait indefinitely because this is a mail-in only vote and these big yellow envelopes need to be postmarked no later than October 30th.  

As I’ve said before, politics is far from my favorite topic, but I do know the value of good education and Gilbert has been such a great district when it had the support of its people.  Arizona is the 48th State coming into the Union and is ranked about 48th in Education also.  For some reason our legislators do not give education the proper priority and we are nearly last in the nation in per student funding.  WHY??

Perhaps the legislators think that Charter Schools are more efficient.  I’ve already stated my feelings about the vast number of Charter Schools that are popping up everywhere.  Doesn’t seem very efficient to me to scatter meager money in so many different directions.  The Arizona Republic did a fact check and found that Charter Schools spend $1420 per student in administrative costs while the public schools spend $770 per student.  Just a “for instance.”

Since other districts in Arizona have voted for overrides and our district for awhile was run by a naysaying school board that didn’t seem to be in favor of public education even though they were leaders of it, our Gilbert District is way behind.  Being nearly in last place in a State that is nearly in last place isn’t a promising position. Thankfully the voters acted in favor of our Gilbert Unified School District by choosing some new board members who are ready and eager to support and promote public education.  They are for this override which will give our district a chance to catch up.

Sorting through all the confusing data out there is daunting.  Most average voters won’t even try.

Solid, effective, wonderful public schools are vital to a community whether you have children in those schools or not.  Didn’t you go to public schools?  Aren’t you glad that they were sufficiently funded?

If you value education, it is imperative to vote YES on the two voting items in the yellow envelope:  YES for the Bond Approval and YES for the Budget Increase.   Now put it in the mail.  Done!

Oh, one more thing:  please pass this on to all of your friends!