HUMBLE PIE

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.

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WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

words

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.

HALLOWEEN? SCARY!

Kyle

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.

 

 

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE??

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NAPOLEON DYNAMITE??

Elizabeth Willis Barrett………..January 21, 2015

The first time I saw the movie Napoleon Dynamite was in Rexburg, Idaho, with my husband Brad, and my two youngest—Kyle and Allison—who were in Rexburg going to school.  We had traveled all the way from Arizona for a short visit and had some hours to kill.  And they were definitely killed in my opinion.  Shot through.  Kyle and Alli had seen the movie already and couldn’t wait to watch it with us.  There had been so much hype about it that I was ready to have a great experience with half my family.

It turned out to be a very slow day at the movie theater.  We got in our seats after the film had started and since we were the only ones in that particular theater, they started it all over again just for us.  Kind.  If they had started from the ending and played the whole thing backwards, it would have had the same effect on me.  I was completely unimpressed and once again my lack of humor sense was made manifest.  That was truly the dumbest movie I had ever seen—up to that point.  I think Nacho Libre would create a very close race if the two should run a 1/2 marathon together.

Kyle and Allison kept looking at us to see our reaction to this very unorthodox film.  Most of the time they could hear Brad’s reaction because he was laughing uncontrollably.  If there had been anyone else in the theater they might have asked him to keep it down.   But I must have seemed like a matronly Queen of Hearts at a quilting bee.  Not a guffaw, not a snicker, not a smile escaped my pierced lips.  I think my left eye brow was raised during the whole pitiful showing.  The movie wasn’t funny.

Again, as I have been made very aware of on many occasions, I was most likely in the minority.  I think I am in a perpetual minority.  I would be standing practically alone in a group of 1000 people if we were to choose sides of a room according to our likes and personalities in a variety of categories.

“All those who like chocolate go to the right side of the room.”  I’d be left alone on the left.

“All those who prefer Barbra Streisand to blue grass music go to the right side of the room.”  I’d be left alone on the left.

“All those who love to stand outside and chat rather than clean out a closet, go to the right side of the room.”  Again, I’d be left on the left.

This would not be a good thing to do on a boat.  The weight wouldn’t be balanced.

As we came out of the theater at the end of N.D., the sweet girl at the candy counter asked how we’d liked the movie.  In answer, I turned around and waved a bemused hand at Brad.  He could barely walk because he was bent over in hysterics with Kyle and Allison laughing, too, mostly at him.  He loved Napoleon Dynamite.

When attributes were being handed out in the pre-earth life, I believe Brad was first in line at the Sense of Humor counter.  He can roll into a belly laugh quicker than anyone I know and at the slightest provocation.  I was probably queuing up for other qualities (I’m not sure which, at the moment) and totally missed out on the Humor distribution.  My Dad and sister are wonderful at seeing the funny side of things.  They must have been in that humor line.  You’d think they would have let me have cuts or something since I probably wasn’t patient enough to wait behind 4,376,000 other humor wanna-haves.

I wish now I had put in more effort to obtain a sense of humor because laughter can imbue the soul.  Maybe a little humor blew off the counter in my direction, though, because I do love to laugh with friends and family.  And even though Napoleon Dynamite did nothing for me, I once laughed right out loud in Three Amigos.

GET OUT OF MY MORNING!

Person_Stretching_under_the_Sun

Elizabeth Willis Barrett………….January 13, 2015

I love mornings.  Not that I have gotten up early enough lately to claim their full benefits.  When I’ve had to catch a very early flight to Seattle or Salt Lake or take someone to a 5:00 am job appointment, I realize how much I am missing by not getting up at 5:00 every morning.  Getting to bed in a timely manner to allow a 5:00 am reveille hasn’t happened for a while.  But it really is a shame to miss those early hours when the sun is beginning to stretch and blaze its promise across the sky.  It is so beautiful and renewing.  To me, morning is when the vital doings of the day must be done. As the day moves along toward sunset, it seems to collapse and press down on all the remaining minutes leaving them rather unproductive.

If I had my way, I would wake up to an empty house with all other occupants hard at work somewhere else.  I wouldn’t need to help anyone find a missing phone or satchel or point out that the peanut butter is right where it has been for at least the last 10 years.  I wouldn’t hear the radio blaring out heart deflating accounts of kidnappings and murders and political sniveling.  My psyche is so fragile that an overheard bit of bad news acts like a stiff scrubbing brush to my good humor and sense of well being.  And although I really love to hear new insights on religion and the way of the country gained by deep spousal study, morning is not the time to pour any new found truths into my brain.  In the morning, the mixer of my cerebrum is whirring with other ingredients and extra bits and pieces are likely to get flung aside, my congeniality with them.

In the morning, I’m trying to concentrate on my weekly list.  It is a very long to-do list that I usually write out during Church on Sunday. I want to get on with the day and that list without any interruptions.  That is probably a very selfish desire.  But I’m just trying to put on my own breathing mask first so I can help others put on their breathing masks, so to speak.  And to me, that means getting certain things done in the morning.

For instance, if I don’t “stretch with Jane” before 8:00 am, the opportunity for that particular get-it-done item will be gone for the day. Without this stretching (which I have tried to do every morning for about 30 years since I discovered the wonderful DVD of Jane Fonda called “Start Up”) my aging body will just quit moving all together, and what help would I be to anyone then?

Next, I need to be totally ready for the day—showered, dressed, blown, curled, contacted, made up.  It is very deflating to look in the mirror at mid-day and realize that several of these points didn’t get addressed.  Of course, by then even the addressed items must be re-addressed.  If someone wants me to do something—after my morning, of course—I want to be ready.

There are about ten things I really want to get done each day and morning is the best time to do them.  Without distractions, I could easily get them all done by ten or eleven and then I would be eager to get on with the interaction and saving of others.  Not that anyone will need saving by then or want to interact either.

Again I find that I am not only thinking outside the box but outside the universe of my family and friends who are ready to engage way before I am.  Maybe they’ve already secured their own breathing masks and they are trying to help me with mine.  As usual, I could use some help. That universe has tried for years to teach me that warm, wonderful people are far more important than crossing items off my lists. So, come back into my mornings and my days and my nights and I will try to be more discreet as I’m making a list and checking it twice.

CHRISTMAS—–AGAIN!

Christmas Nativity

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………December 9, 2014

Well, it happened again. Christmas arrived before I did with it’s carols and lights and trees and store hype while I am still back in flags and fireworks and patriotism.  Christmas just seems to be on a faster track than I am.  I need time to allow the great Spirit of Christmas to seep in slowly so I can adjust and clear my head of incidentals like bill paying and house dejunking and family crises and Church callings.  But Christmas doesn’t tip toe in quietly and slowly raise the blinds until you can get used to the light.  No, it jerks you awake with a thunderbolt of hoopla which I never seem to be prepared for.

Part of the problem, perhaps the biggest part, is that Thanksgiving came a week late this year.  A whole week!  There should be a law against that.  Why can’t Thanksgiving be on the 3rd Thursday of November, not the fourth?  That would help immensely.  Then as soon as Thanksgiving is over we could be more attuned to Christmas and its incredible hustle and bustle. Actually, I think we’re all trying to do the H & B all year long and just accelerate the moves in December.

Last year I made a great attempt to be ready spiritually and physically for Christmas, trying to do something every day in its honor.  I was inspired by Scrooge’s classic sentence, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  I sort of petered out by June but I was more ready for the season when it came barreling down the calendar and blasted into December—or rather, October.

But this year I can’t gather the warm blanket of Christmas wishes around me tight enough and I’m rather hanging out of the season’s joy.  Here it is December 9th.  Many of my neighbors’ lights are twinkling like little Christmas giggles and their trees are triumphant in their showcasing windows.  But our house stands in unlit shame and the Christmas tree still needs to be dragged from its year long cardboard entombment across the dry grass of the back yard and into the house that has just been scrubbed clean by the God-sent cleaners.

The many “So, are you all ready for Christmas?” inquiries made by well-meaning OCD individuals, who are just looking for conversation, embellish the problem.  They make you feel that if you are haven’t lit, hung, decorated, bought, wrapped, baked, read, visited, photoed, written and sent by the day after Thanksgiving, you might as well not bother.

This is about when my yearly mantra chimes in, “I will just make it through this year’s celebration and do better next year.”

But wait.  I can change that.  I can fling that sentence out of my head’s storage of useless jabber.  The years are thinning out for me and to miss the full joy of even one irretrievable Christmas would be counter to a life well spent.  So ready or not, it will not be hard to fill my mind and my soul with these sentences instead.  They can bring peace not only to me but to all:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

What else matters?  Merry Christmas!

A LITTLE SAMPLER OF LIFE

 

cross_stitch_samplers

Elizabeth Willis Barrett………October 19, 2014

When I was little, I went to Primary—faithfully.  I usually walked.  Once I called my Aunt Mona and asked her to take me but she said no.  It wasn’t that far and she knew I could easily walk it in about seven minutes.  Mom was at work or I certainly wouldn’t have asked Aunt Mona.  She would have felt really badly if I had been kidnapped on the way.  I think.  I never tried the Aunt Mona avenue of travel again.  I loved Primary.  We’d have opening exercises and then go into classes.

Do you think that in the hereafter we will get our full memories back?  Because right now I can’t remember sitting in class.  I easily remember that one of my Primary teachers was killed in a terrible car accident.  I can still feel a deep sorrow with that memory.  That was the first time I learned that someone in MY church could die unexpectedly.  I was pretty sheltered.  Anyway it was a terrible blow to her family and to all of us who knew her.  It shook my faith.  So God doesn’t always protect you even when you pray every day, “…….and let no harm or accident befall us”?

I just read on the Internet (and how could that ever be wrong?) that nine, ten and eleven year old Primary girls became LiHoMas.  And all this long while, I thought we were called Liahonas, named after the golden instrument of direction found by Lehi in the desert in the Book of Mormon.  But nope!  I guess we were LiHoMas which stood for Little Home Makers.  Whew!  I like Liahonas much better!

To be more specific, the nine year old girls were named Larks, the ten year old girls were named Bluebirds and the eleven year old girls were named Seagulls.  The most significant thing from Primary that I remember is making a sampler.  I really need to find mine so I can scan it and let you see it.  It is a real work of art.  I still remember what was so carefully stitched onto that sampler in cross stitch of various colors:

Greet the Day With a Song

Make Others Happy

Serve Gladly

My friend Louise and I used to work on our samplers together once in awhile.  I was a very tall LiHoMa and she was a small one.  Once she wanted to work on our samplers in a top cupboard in their guest room.  Why?  I don’t know!  But my body didn’t quite fold as well as hers did and that experience might have added to my extreme claustrophobia.

I am proud of myself for getting my sampler completed at all since many craft projects like that never make it to finé. Maybe the finishing of it gave me an extra doodad on my bandlo which I thought was called a bandalo—a felt thing you wore around your neck like a long collar.   Neither of those words is in the dictionary, by the way.  Interesting what you can learn on the internet.  My whole childhood could be changed if I’m not careful of what I look up.

Anyway, aren’t those wonderful words?  The words on my sampler, I mean.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to put them into practice and see what happens.