Dakota

Dakota: (n) a former territory in the United States—in 1889 divided into North Dakota and South Dakota.

I spent nine days in the Dakotas.

I only did it once.

Please don’t misunderstand—my singular visit does not portray my feeling about the region.

I just don’t think anybody there liked me.

I’m sure that’s not true—it isn’t like I saw them head over heels in enthusiasm, dancing in the street about anything.

My grandpa would have said they were “sturdy people.”

You’d have to be. Lots of storms. Regularly over a hundred degrees in the summer and below zero in the winter months.

A rural atmosphere.

Close-knit groups, many well aware of each other or even related.

So about five days into my visit, I became a bit paranoid about the treatment I was receiving. I asked one of the sponsors who brought me in for the concert series what was up with the populace.

Interestingly enough, he didn’t say, “Well, what do you mean?” Or, “They seem fine to me.”

Instead, he replied, “To be honest, these people have been alone, abandoned, unnoticed and even made fun of so often that they can’t imagine why anybody from the outside world would choose to come into their area unless that person was an escaped convict or a fraud.”

I crinkled my brow and replied, “So what you’re saying is, they think I’m trouble because I came to their state.”

“They figure if people had a choice, they would never visit.”

He nodded his head.

So I went to my concert that night and tried to address this dilemma with the audience. I would like to report that my dialogue made all the difference in the world.

But it didn’t.

They seemed to resent the fact that I was aware of their insecurity and preferred me to shut up, get back into my van, and travel on to more appreciative places.

Still and all, I managed to learn a lot about Mount Rushmore, and also the Battle of the Little Bighorn, with General Custer, which happened right over the border in Wyoming. Matter of fact, I took a couple of hours and read up on both things so I would seem knowledgeable.

It did increase my conversations by a few more sentences. But then they froze up and once again nervously stared at me.

If I may draw a conclusion:

Perhaps one of the worst things we do to people is make them feel “less” because we don’t think they live where there’s “more.”

What I uncovered in my journey to the Dakotas was this:

There are children born—therefore there are people having sex.

There are radio stations—so music does penetrate the silence.

And the grocery store was filled with all sorts of meat, from cow to bear to rattlesnake. So someone likes to hunt and eat.

You see?

If you work at it, you can find things you have in common with almost anyone, anywhere.

(Pass the steak sauce.)

Cud

Cud: (n) the portion of food that a ruminant returns from the first stomach to the mouth to chew a second time.

I am susceptible.

I don’t like to admit it.

Often, it’s why I refuse to watch medical shows or even programs of itinerant travelers who share experiences of strange lands, animals and diseases.

I buy in too easily.

Such a thing happened to me short years ago. In my ongoing pursuit to remove the mythology of my obesity and supposedly create the human-flesh-muddle that I’m meant to be, I listened to a young, slender woman (my first mistake) expound upon the importance of chewing your food at least twenty times before swallowing.

She explained that this not only made digestion easier, but also that chewing at for such an extended period of time caused us to eat less, and therefore promoted weight loss.

In that moment–in my flurry of passion and with her apt representation– she was able to convince me to try. She closed off her discourse by highlighting that animals like the cow chew their cud over and over again until it is just a mushy mess of drippy liquid, which they then gulp.

Surviving her vivid description, I sat down to my dinner that night and decided to pursue my own cud chewing.

I quickly realized that my normal number of chews for consumption was four or five.

I was still comfortable with eight chews.

At twelve I had to take my mind to a faraway place to keep insanity from ensuing.

When I finally reached twenty and tried to swallow, nothing happened. (All the little gushy, mushy pieces had already snuck down my throat to the stomach to the awaiting stomach).

Yet faithful pilgrim that I am, I continued this practice for an entire meal.

It was exhausting—so tiring it was that at the end of the feast, I found myself needing energy—starved.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 

Cry Over Spilled Milk

Cry over spilled milk: To dwell pointlessly on past misfortunes

There are two problems with old sayings.

  • First, they’re old.
  • Second, they’re sayings, not doings.

In other words, something can be spoken and make complete sense until it’s applied into everyday life.

I think such is the case with “don’t cry over spilled milk.”

Who?

What I mean is, who should not cry over spilled milk?

If you’re a baby and the milk has been spilled, you’re talking about your sustenance, your well-being and the looming possibility of starvation.

If you’re a young person who’s just learning to handle the milk carton, you realize there may be good reason to cry. Punishment is looming and the resulting lack of trust may throw you back months from being respected enough to handle containers.

If you’re a mother or father, you might cry over spilled milk because you spent your last dollar at the grocery store for that milk, and it might mean that by Friday somebody has to eat dry cereal.

And if you happen to be in the vicinity of where the milk is spilled and you’re a cow, you might be saddened that your gift has been so poorly used.

Spilled milk is not necessarily something to weep over, but I can see different individuals who might shed a tear.

Crying over difficulty is not a sign of weakness.

We don’t become weak until we abandon our strengths.

And strength in human beings is this:

We can weep during the night—and joy can still come in the morning.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C



Broccoli

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broccoli: (n) a variety of cabbage bearing green heads, widely cultivated as a vegetable.

I don’t remember ever seeing broccoli until I was sixteen years old.

I’m not denying its existence–it’s just that for some reason, our family did not participate in broccoli. Perhaps in my era it was not as popular, but more than likely, there was a silent vote taken among family members, without my knowledge, prohibiting the odd vegetable from entering our home.Dictionary B

The first time I did see broccoli and ate it was at a Chinese restaurant, where I was embarrassed because a girl had to explain to me what was perched in front of me with a green head, staring right into my eyes.

She was sufficiently overbearing and condescending, while baffled by my ignorance.

She told me that it was a very healthy thing to eat and that people of culture had consumed it for generations. I quickly realized that she was insinuating that I was not one of them, so I quickly took my fork and cut into the stalk, having the sensation, for some reason or another, of being a tiny lumberjack.

I liked it pretty well. Now, that might be because it was in a sweet ad sour sauce, surrounded by so much goo that it had little chance of diluting the delight.

Since then I have become an avid eater of broccoli even though I will admit to you that the word “avid” does not necessarily fit into that sentence.

I well remember, however, when the first President Bush confessed to the entire nation that he did not like broccoli, there was a collective gasp of horror and disbelief that the leader of the free world would be anti-florets.

But it is an acquired taste.

As with all vegetables, you have to wrap your mind around the fact that you are actually consuming something that normally would be chewed on by a cow or dried up by a summer’s drought.

 

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Beef

Beef: (n) the flesh of a cow, bull, or ox, used as food.Dictionary B

It’s always a battle over three distinctly different approaches:

  • What I know
  • What I think
  • What ends up being true

Actually, most of us don’t know much of anything for certain. What we claim to know is usually an advanced stage of belief. In other words, people will tell you they know there’s a heaven, but that’s because they believe it very strongly.

Knowing is tough. Yet if we act like we don’t know, people accuse us of being dumb. So often, we insist we know without really knowing.

Which brings us to think.

Think is a dangerous combination of prejudice, upbringing and bad experience which we have equated with certainty as being valid. Of course, it can be good experience which leaves us idealistic.

But here’s the kicker: most people blend what they think and what they know and call it truth.

That’s why we fight all the time. Because what you think and know is not what I think and know.

So we have to be extremely humble about what we know, and mighty careful about what we think. Otherwise we will soon miss what ends up being true.

Thus…beef.

From year to year, the opinion on beef has gone from being an excellent source of protein to a murderer of the human heart.

If you bring the subject up, some folks will tell you they’re vegetarians because they want to be healthy, and other folks will never eat a vegetable unless steak has become one.

So once again, we’re stuck on this “think” and “know”–in danger of failing to find out what is true.

Beef is actually no different from prunes. You know the old saying about prunes: Are two enough? Are six too many?

Because if you eat just the right number of prunes, you will have happy times in the bathroom. If you eat too many, you will experience frequent toilet miles.

The same is true with beef.

Eat it every once in a while, and it is an immense builder of protein and strength for your body.

Eat too much beef and it turns into all sorts of heartfelt problems.

So take the time to be careful about what you know. And always be cautious to preface what you think with those glorious words, “In my opinion…”

Because truth eventually stumbles along. And the truth of the matter is, beef is like everything else:

It’s good until it becomes bad.

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Afoul

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Afoul: (adv.) into conflict or difficulty with. e.g. she ran afoul of her boss.

I think I would be upset if I were a chicken.

I know the word isn’t spelled the same–but normally if the word “foul” is used without a football field  nearby, one gets the image of a “clucker.”

But as I think about it, other animals suffer from us humans characterizing them in a negative light. Because even though your local hen has to live under the subjugation of the term “afoul,” the cow has to cringe every time we say we have “a beef” with someone. Not to mention when we scream at an adversary, “That’s bull!”

Likewise, if someone is acting shady or dishonest, we refer to him or her as a “weasel.” Or if they’ve succeeded in weaseling us and pulling the wool over our eyes (there’s another one!) we say they’ve “out-foxed us.”

The pig becomes the symbol for obesity by being “a porker.”

And men are often referred to as “dogs” in a very derogatory sense–even though we believe the creature to be a best friend.

But I think the chicken suffers the most with “afoul,” don’t you?

So not to become some sort of PETA zealot, I do feel empathy for my fellow-earth-creatures who are unable to speak for themselves and express their displeasure over our characterizations.

After all, we also insult amphibians sitting on their lily pads by referring to our death as “croaking.”

Abomasum

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abomasum: n. the fourth stomach of a ruminant, which receives food from the omasum and passes it to the small intestine.

I got really excited with this one.

Being obese all my life and maintaining a commitment to the cause, I thought how terrific it would be to have four stomachs. You see, what you would possess is a greater potential for filling up–but ALSO you could evenly distribute your  gluttony so it wouldn’t SEEM like you were over-eating.

But then I considered the physique of these ruminants. Do I really want to look like a cow? Perhaps better phrased, do I want to continue to look like a cow? That’s bull.

So I decided that having four stomachs only quadruples the need for weight loss.

The other thing that bothered me about this particular word is how depressing it must be to be the fourth stomach. Talk about being the low man on the totem pole! What would get sent to the fourth stomach?? You have three other containers in front of you vying for the better parts of the intake.

Wouldn’t it be my luck to be a fourth stomach. How would you feel? Especially since you’re down there at the end of the line, and your job is to send crap to the small intestine.

I think we all do feel that way sometimes–we are the fourth stomach in a goat, doing nothing but puttin’ out a bunch of crap.

I’m going to stop writing now. It’s too depressing…

Abomasum

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abomasum: n. the fourth stomach of a ruminant, which receives food from the omasum and passes it to the small intestine.

I got really excited with this one.

Being obese all my life and maintaining a commitment to the cause, I thought how terrific it would be to have four stomachs. You see, what you would possess is a greater potential for filling up–but ALSO you could evenly distribute your  gluttony so it wouldn’t SEEM like you were over-eating.

But then I considered the physique of these ruminants. Do I really want to look like a cow? Perhaps better phrased, do I want to continue to look like a cow? That’s bull.

So I decided that having four stomachs only quadruples the need for weight loss.

The other thing that bothered me about this particular word is how depressing it must be to be the fourth stomach. Talk about being the low man on the totem pole! What would get sent to the fourth stomach?? You have three other containers in front of you vying for the better parts of the intake.

Wouldn’t it be my luck to be a fourth stomach. How would you feel? Especially since you’re down there at the end of the line, and your job is to send crap to the small intestine.

I think we all do feel that way sometimes–we are the fourth stomach in a goat, doing nothing but puttin’ out a bunch of crap.

I’m going to stop writing now. It’s too depressing…