Crab Apple

Crab apple: (n) a small, sour, wild apple

His name was Page McClain.

It really was.

I will further strain your belief by telling you that his middle name was Unus, which you may not know is the Latin word for “one.”funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Page One McClain.

As you can imagine, his parents were quite colorful. They were hippies living in a town which didn’t believe in hippies.

Page was unique. He was the most intellectual ten-year-old boy I’ve ever met. I think he liked me because I was the only person in the school who liked him. Everyone else thought he was too small, too odd or that his parents were probably Communists, which made him too dangerous.

My parents were reluctant to have me play with him, and it took me a solid two weeks to convince them to permit me a sleepover at his house. But one night I caught them in a good mood, asked them in just the right tone of voice, and had just finished mowing the lawn (which was such a rare occurrence that it always brought tears to their eyes).

They agreed to let me go.

Page did not have much to play with at his house. His parents were poor (which may surprise you since they were hippies and all). When it was time for lunch, he opened up a can of kidney beans and handed me a spoon. (I had often complained about kidney beans in a bowl of chili. Now, coming face-to-face with their point of origin, I was shell-shocked and nearly immobile. But since Page ate them, I ate them, too.)

The only thing Page had available at his house was an apple tree with crab apples on it. They were tiny, red and just perfect for throwing. Many of them had fallen to the ground and were fairly soft. So we picked them up and started aiming them at tree-trunks and, to my embarrassment, passing cats and dogs.

We soon grew tired of this and began throwing them at each other. It turned into a full-fledged crab apple battle. Soon the ones on the ground were used up as ammunition, so we started pulling them off the tree. These were harder. When they hit you in the face, it not only smarted, but also left a red residue from the crab apple itself.

Later that day, when my mother picked me up, she was convinced that my face had been attacked by a chain saw. She actually drove me to the doctor. He was our family doctor—old, sometimes grumpy, but often a bit whimsical. After carefully examining me, he turned to my mother and said, “I think your son has been hit by an apple pie, but somebody forgot to peel the apples.”

The doctor thought this was hilarious. My mother was baffled.

And I was busy in thought…wondering if I had been the winner at the great crab apple war.


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Consternation

Consternation: (n) feelings of anxiety or dismay

I agreed to go shopping with a friend. I don’t do that very often–not because I am anti-social or unwilling to get out of my house and peruse the neighborhood.

To me, shopping is a personal thing, with a personal approach.

I like to organize before I go, flow into the shopping center, pick my things up, take advantage of any sales, acquiring a surprise or two, andfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C get back home with the sense of accomplishment.

I don’t hurry but I also don’t linger.

So my decision to go shopping with this other person was carefully made, and decided in order to promote some good fellowship.

We arrived at the shopping mall and it was crowded.

My friend had to circle several times to find a parking space, and then a guy with a little car pulled in front of him and took it.

Honestly, my friend was already a little dismayed over having to search for a parking anyway, but the action of the little car turned it into consternation.

He sat there, blocking traffic, until the driver of the little car got out. My buddy yelled at him.There was no profanity, but he made it clear that he thought the dude had no upbringing and was basically “an common asshole.”

After this he sped away, looking for a space, grumbling under his breath. He peered at me and posed the question, “Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

I had, so I truthfully replied, “Yes.”

He was not satisfied, so he pursued. “Well, don’t you think that’s stupid–what that guy did?”

Also easy to answer. “Yes.”

“So,” he continued, “would you have done what I did?”

Uh-oh. Now I was trapped. I could lie and tell him I would have done the same thing, to make sure the shopping trip was more pleasant, and to take away the dark cloud brought on by the “space stealer.”

But I decided to tell him the truth. “My friend,” I said, “I don’t pursue confrontation unless the person receiving my challenge has the possibility of learning from it and becoming different.”

My friend didn’t like my answer. For the entire two hours we were at the mall he remained grumpy. He didn’t like what the stores had to offer, he hated the prices, and when we stopped at the Food Court for a delicious lunch, he was convinced his burrito was too salty and not made with actual meat.

He faithfully maintained a pious position of consternation.

I, on the other hand, was grateful to get home.

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Civil

Civil: (adj) courteous and polite.

Civil is what you end up with when you can’t convince people to be kind but you’ve talked them out of being assholes.

The possibility of showing mercy seems weak to them, but they would like to escape the “old man” or “old woman” profile of grumpy.

Now, there’s an aspiration.

Stop judging people because they’re not nice.

Stop judging people because they’re not nice enough.

Here’s an idea: stop judging people.

Instead, look for reasonable acts of civility. Don’t demand kindness. Maybe that’s just a profile reserved for saints. What we’re looking for is civility. Civility is the presence of a realization with a threat hanging over it. Simply stated:

“You can have what you want as long as you let everybody else have what they want. The minute you don’t let other people have what they want, you cease to have what you want.”

As long as our “wanter” is not killing people, stealing or destroying, it should be taken into consideration and given equal place with the “wanters” of others.

This is called civil.

It’s a decision to refuse to overlord (since you’re not really a god in the first place.)

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Cinder

Cinder: (n) a small piece of partly burned coal or wood that has stopped giving off flames

I really did not want to complain, even though I was quite capable of doing so.

After all, I was just a kid. If you tell a kid he’s complaining, he’ll explain that you never listen to him, and he’s “sharing his feelings” as you snuff them.

Here’s my story:

One day at church camp one of the more energetic counselors decided we should take a hike through the woods. He had sought out a trail and measured it at 1.2
miles. His contention was that “anybody should be able to do that.”

I apparently had not joined the “anybody family”–not even related. I had chubby legs that moved slower, reluctant to leave space between my sole and the ground.

On top of that, we could not have been more than twenty yards into the trip when my right foot started to hurt. I apparently was grimacing in some pain, because the zealous counselor came back and told me I needed to step up the pace–otherwise there was a danger the other kids would start making fun of me, and even though he would hate for me to be bullied, he did not know what would happen once the lights went out in the cabins.

Not knowing what that meant but sufficiently alarmed, I soldiered on. Every step hurt.

When we finally arrived at camp after the 1.2 miles, I had broken out in a sweat, was ready to pee my pants and fell to the ground like a sack of rotten potatoes.

I reached down, took off my sneaker (which is what we called them back then) and a tiny pebble-like substance fell out of my shoe. Apparently the night before, when we were sitting around the campfire and I removed my shoes to warm my feet by the flames, I had acquired a cinder in my footwear.

I had walked 1.2 miles on that cinder, leaving a sore spot which upon further inspection, was bleeding.

I did not try to make anyone feel bad, but the counselor did that all on his own.

All I remember is that I was required to put my foot up on a pillow during Vespers and the counselor, who was dwelling in a wilderness of guilt, toasted all my marshmallows and brought them to me. (He got a little grumpy when I complained they were not cooked all the way through, but got over it.)

Even today I have to remind myself that people who have a crooked walk, or have difficulty being what I would consider “righteous,” may be overcoming cinders of burnt-out experiences that I can’t even imagine.

 

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Bagpipes

Bagpipes: (n) a musical instrument with reed pipes, esp. associated with ScotlandDictionary B

I have yet to figure out how to be nice and honest at the same time.

  • The pursuit of nice is essential to the human race–otherwise we will constantly be on the verge of grumpy, lending itself to war.
  • The quest for honesty is equally as important, or we will be labeled as deceptive or openly proclaimed a liar.
  • The trick is in blending the two.

Case in point: traveling on the road, playing an instrument and performing always, after the show, tends to draw individuals to me who are also aspiring artisans.

On one such occasion, a gentleman walked up and said that he had played his instrument for twenty-five years. I admired him for longevity of his craft.

He said to me, “Would you like to hear my instrument? It’s just out in the trunk.”

I should have come up with a quick excuse to escape the moment by pleading some form of busy activity. but I got cornered by my own lack of response and replied, “Well, I’ve got a few minutes…”

He disappeared and shortly came back in–carrying bagpipes.

My skin actually crawled. (I realized that this is not just a saying but an actual physical condition.)

For the next twenty minutes I received not only a concert, but instruction on correct ways to breathe and squeeze, in order to become an accomplished bagpipesman.

I did not have the heart to tell this man that bagpipes give me the creeps. Even during the traditional use of them, playing Amazing Grace at a funeral, I often find myself thinking, “Was there no flute available?”

But in my desire to be nice, I ended up being dishonest, which placed upon me the burden of appearing interested.

Fortunately, he finally disengaged himself because he was too busy to continue the lesson. He apologized for his necessary departure.

I do not know if I will ever be able to balance the quality of cordiality with the action of truthfulness, but I can guarantee you that I will never allow myself to be trapped in a room again…with a set of bagpipes.Donate Button

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Appreciate

dictionary with letter A

Appreciate (v): 1. to recognize the full worth of. 2. to understand (a situation) fully; recognize the full implications of.

I appreciate life being a blank canvas, allowing me the chance to paint.

I appreciate second chances, which are offered as long as I admit I screwed up the first one.

I appreciate friends who are well-practiced at knowing when to interfere in my life.

I appreciate grace given to me because I have shown mercy.

I appreciate a sense of humor which is able to cover a multitude of stupidities.

I appreciate that I am debtor to others so I don’t become obnoxiously self-sufficient.

I appreciate ignorance so I can value knowledge.

I appreciate the time I’ve been given, never assuming it has to be one minute more.

I appreciate that being wrong is even more powerful than being right, because it gives me the chance to be legitimately humble instead of falsely arrogant.

I appreciate that the rain falls on the earth without my consent, permission or consultation.

I appreciate that there’s something bigger than me so that I learn not to despise small beginnings.

I appreciate appreciation. Without it, I grow too quickly grumpy and old.

 

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Append

dictionary with letter A

Append (v.): to add to the end of a document or piece of writing.

Much truth comes out through silliness.

I have found this to be very accurate and on point.

When we’re unable to speak our feelings clearly, we often cast to the wind a sideways remark, later insisting that we were “just kidding.”

For instance, certainly the people who wrote the books of the Bible had no comprehension that thousands of years later, souls would be poring over their thoughts, seeking eternal insights for their internal workings. If they had, they probably would have added an “append” at the end, or a P.S. which read, “By the way, when I wrote Chapters 4-7, I was grumpy and suffering from indigestion” or, “Just kidding.”

Likewise, the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention knew almost immediately that they had left out some very important ideas, so they added a ten-point “append,” which we now refer to as the Bill of Rights. (Also some of them from the Northern colonies probably wanted to take their quills and jot down an apology to the black race for the three-fifths assessment of their value.)

There isn’t anything I write each day in my columns and blogs that I would want to become everlasting “gospel” for humankind. Maybe I should close with T.I.C. (Tongue In Cheek). So I reserve the right to append all of my pennings almost immediately.

If we really believe that documents are divinely inspired, then we must clarify by saying that they are not divinely scrawled. Even in the process of inspiration flowing through the human being, it picks up some trash, ignorance and dirt along the way.

The truly intelligent reader of great manuscripts must possess the discernment of the spirit which inspired them.

  • So I listen to Beethoven not to worship his talent, but to appreciate the creativity and the frailty which make it human.
  • I read Thomas Jefferson knowing that he had higher ideals than his morals could acquire.
  • And I study Moses and the Apostle Paul from the Good Book, understanding that the yearning they had to be universal was somewhat stalled by their sheep-herder and tent-maker mentalities.

It doesn’t limit the beauty.

It just brings focus to it.

 

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