Collie

Collie: (n) a sheepdog of a breed originating in Scotland

I was eleven years old before I realized they were not supposed to stink.

I’m talking about dogs.

Up to that point, I knew one dog–and this dog stunk. Ironically, her name was “Queenie.” Any pomp and circumstance associated with that name were purely accidental. She stunk. I could tell very time I drew near.

And near I drew.

Queenie was my Grandpa George’s animal. She was his favorite beast, person and thing.

Queenie felt great security in her job, and so pursued no personal hygiene. Half the day she wandered through the woods, living the life of a wild dog, to come
home to the little A-frame house as night was falling, to spend time with my grandpa.

I had jobs to do with Queenie. I kept praying that my grandpa would get old enough that he would become forgetful, and therefore fail to remember to ask me to do the job.

It was a two-parter.

Because Queenie was a collie, she had long fur which might have been lovely had it not been matted with dirt and grime, and filled with little stickers (which my grandpa referred to as “nettles”).

Grandpa wanted me to sit there during the visit, with Queenie’s snout lying in my lap, stinking up the room, and remove these little thistles from her fur. That was the first part.

The second part was that Queenie was a wild-type dog, and did not know how to get all the poop out of her butt with each bowel movement. So dangling from her backside were little sprinkles of dried turds, which Grandpa allowed me to remove by snipping them off with a small pair of scissors.

I will give Queenie one kudo: she never objected to any of the processes. Matter of fact, it reached a point that whenever I came into the room, she came over and laid her head on my knee, awaiting the treatment.

She smelled like everything bad that no one should ever inhale.

Her nettles always yanked out little pieces of hair, and the clippings from the back end–well, fortunately, time has healed me of the vision (as long as I don’t talk about it).

That is my experience with a collie. So you can see why, under no circumstances whatsoever, could I enjoy watching “Lassie.”

 

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Choke

Choke: (n) an action or sound of a person or animal having or seeming to have difficulty in breathing.

Webster certainly afforded us an adequate definition for “choke,” but the one that comes to my mind has to do with the “give-up, check-out
and throw-in-the-towel” instinct which permeates our species.

Sometimes we get just as comfortable with pity cheers as congratulatory shouts.

You know pity cheers:

  • “It’s okay. You did your best.”
  • “I don’t know if anyone could have done that.”
  • “You’ll get them next time.”
  • “God sees your effort.”
  • “Who knows? Maybe you made a difference without knowing it.”

If you ever allow your ears to get used to hearing these pitiful exhortations, you might just find yourself living in a damned condition, without yet being deceased.

Choking is what human beings do when they try to swallow too much, whether it’s physical chunks of steak, lies or claims to fame.

This is a world that demands evidence, not confidence. Those who try to live off of confidence eventually choke under the pressure and end up looking like losers, even though we dress it up with bunting and invite a small brass band to cheer things along.

There’s a simple principle in life: overestimating your ability is not a sign of faith.

Faith starts with something substantial, and based upon that realization, is willing to carefully speculate on how much further things can be taken.

You don’t get many “chokes” before you die. You may not physically die, but the love, tenacity, gentleness and appreciation of your friends and loved ones is suffocated.

 

 

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Caveat

Caveat: (n) a stipulation, condition, or limitation

A caveat is when we add honesty to a thought.

We come up with something to say, but rather than allowing ourselves to be misleading, we add a phrase–usually on the end–which better
clarifies our position.

It is what makes human beings human, and therefore powerful. We are only foolish when we try to be gods or wallow in the jungle, pretending we are mere animals.

It is hope mingled with the reality that presents who we really are.

Case in point:

  • I love you, but it’s not easy.
  • I will be there, if I don’t get lazy
  • I worship God until He confuses the hell out of me.
  • I am happy until I decide I’m not.
  • I am color blind–except when I accidentally see color.
  • I am reliable as long as you check up on me.
  • I am selfish, but every once in a while, escape the prison.
  • I am getting older, but still have a few steps left.
  • I wish you the best, and I hope I’ll be there to help you get it.

Perhaps a caveat is what we should lead with in explaining our true situation, but I certainly contend that a nice little jolt of optimism sweetens the deal before we have to tell the whole truth.

 

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Body Clock

Body clock: (n) a person’s or animal’s biological clock.

Dictionary B

I try not to think about it very often for fear of becoming a whack job.

For you see, considering one’s own mortality is a drippy, sappy journey into sentimentality which often leaves tears in one’s eyes, considering how miserable the world will be without us.

Still, we’re all dealing with a body clock.

The little girl who dies of cancer when she’s eight years old should have had an opportunity to know that she was going through middle age at four.

Yet how weird would we become if we had any inkling of the actual time of our demise? In other words, if death did not surprise us, how much life could we muster before dissolving into a heap of self-pity?

Fortunately for us, there are certain points of awareness when we realize we have lost a step, can’t move so well or think that most street signs are now written in Mandarin.

We get that little nudge from life that we have less time remaining than what we’ve already used.

It is a merciful motivator to muster the magic.

Because if we don’t start the magic soon … we will run out of opportunities to show off our tricks.

 

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Biped

Biped: (n) an animal that uses two legs for walking.

Dictionary B

 There is an old saying infrequently used, but still chronicled somewhere in the testaments of time.

“The legs are the first thing to go.”

When I was a kid, I had no idea what that meant. Even growing into manhood, the idea of losing strength, power and ability in my legs–in other words, not being a confident biped–seemed ludicrous.

So I foolishly and often recklessly utilized my motoring abilities by foot without any regard for the fragility of the practice.

About ten years ago–due to my obesity, activity and sometimes even abuse–my knees, ankles and hips began to complain ferociously by welcoming pain and discomfort into my life.

It gradually got worse and worse, to the point that today, most of the time, I have to use a wheelchair to get to my destinations.

It is odd. I took it for granted. Now I lust as I watch others walking along confidently.

I’m not angry. There is no resentment.

I don’t feel I’ve been targeted by life to be relegated to a diminished capacity.

But I am fully aware that if other things want to go, I must struggle to encourage them to remain.

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Bear

Bear: (n) a heavy wild animal with thick fur and sharp claws which has many varietiesDictionary B

Is the key in knowing what, and then when, or is it more accurate to pursue when, while acquiring what?

Please pardon the philosophical approach.

Is when more important than what, or does what take primary position over when?

Let’s study the bear.

Because even though this creature is known as a lumbering mammoth of fur and flesh with a ravenous appetite, which can be quite dangerous if aggravated, it does spend much of its time sleeping in a cave.

The bear has simply discovered when to be industrious and what to do. The bear has also learned when to be lazy, and what is the best slumber.

I think we are either lazy when we need to be industrious, or industrious when it might be better for us to lay back and hibernate.

Think of it from the bear’s perspective:

  • Spring and summer come along, which have pleasant weather, lots of fish to eat and picnic baskets to poach.
  • Then there’s winter. Even though you have a coat, why use it?

So crawling into a cave, relaxing, realizing that most things are not blooming and that picnic baskets have been put into the closet for better days, you choose to survive this down period by resting instead of fretting.

It’s very ingenious.

It’s probably why the bear has survived the post-dinosaur era until now, with very little sign of disappearing.

So I guess to capsulize this into an easily remembered slogan:

Learn from the bear … and don’t do what you can’t bear.

 

 

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Barometer

Barometer: (n) an instrument measuring atmospheric pressureDictionary B

Sometimes a barometer is just a barometer.

In other words, it is some sort of instrument that measures the pressure in the atmosphere, to let us know when it’s going to rain or whether we have at least the possibility for some sunshine (even though I am both perplexed and perturbed when the forecast reads, “partly cloudy.” Dammit, make up your mind.)

But in the passing of time, the word “barometer” has been abducted and held for ransom by writers as a term to punctuate any change that happens in society.

In other words, “the barometer of consideration on the Internet lets us know…”

Or the pollsters took some numbers, and “the barometer of the reaction was…”

So tempted as I may be to waddle down that chicken trail of pop culture jargon to make some point about humanity and our times, I will refrain, and allow the barometer to have its space and distinction.

But if I were to add any insight on the issue, I would tell you that the atmospheric pressure of our times is a pair of contentions: humanity is either all animal or is intended to be angelic.

No one seems to want to let people be human–a little classier than Monkeyville, and on the other side of the tracks from Gabriel and the angels.

 

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