Burnish

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Burnish: (v) to polish something by rubbing.

An important exercise:

Add up all the hours you and I have spent complaining, resisting, avoiding or diminishing the need to improve something. Now compare that to the number of hours it would have taken to do the job.

Every single time, the amount of energy expended in bitching exceeds the required minutes necessary to burnish up the situations in our lives.

Case in point: when I was much younger and rented an apartment, my parents gave me a beat-up coffee table. It was light brown wood, so every little scrape, nick and stain was very noticeable. Bluntly, I did not care. I was a punk.

One day a girlfriend of mine came in and told me that if I took some furniture polish to the table, it would look a hundred percent better. I nodded my head, simulating interest, but inwardly dismissed all her claims. She made the point three more times before she finally walked in, polish and cloth in hand, and quickly–no more than five minutes–transformed that piece of worn down trash into a burnished surface.

It was so shiny that I could actually look down and see my face.

I didn’t know whether to be grateful or angry over her interference. Before I could decide which profile to select, she gave me a quick hug and said, “You’re a man. You’re often too dumb to do what’s necessary.”

She left the room.

My problem was not being a man. My difficulty was that I did not believe I was worthy of a polished table, so I decided to leave it as ugly and unkempt as I felt myself.

 

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Botany

Botany: (n) the scientific study of plants

“Old Lady Martinson.”Dictionary B

That’s what we called her because we were young, cruel and indifferent to the feelings of anyone who wouldn’t giggle at our silly jokes.

I knew her because she occasionally hired young boys to do chores, offering a quarter for what we deemed was worth a dollar.

She had lots of cats. You didn’t need to see the cats to know this. It just required you being “nosy.”

The smell was horrible.

She was also rather odd (which, as I look back at it, I am not so sure is true, considering that when you’re in your early teens, “odd” is anything that doesn’t fit into your two-square-inch box of understanding).

But I do have one solid memory–she loved to lecture about botany.

She told me she used to teach it in college. To prove her point, she constantly talked to the plant life in her large, unkempt, stale-smelling house.

One day she took me on a tour of her various vines, plants and ferns. As she pointed out each one, she offered a greeting, uttered a name and mustered a bit of encouragement.

She spoke to them.

I was spooked–I thought she was going to have a spasm or attack me with a butcher knife like I had seen in one old movie.

She didn’t.

But it was when she introduced me to her African violets and began to sing to them in mumbo-jumbo that I realized it was time to go.

I think plants are wonderful.

I think we should study them.

I think they are essential to life on Planet Earth.

But I also think we should not “chat them up.”

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Antic

dictionary with letter A

 

Antic: (adj) grotesque or bizarre

What happens when you use two words to define one word and the two words you apply–which were meant to be synonyms–have absolutely nothing to do with each other?

Because bluntly, I would have to admit that there were times in my life when people would characterize my actions as bizarre, but I would never believe them to be grotesque.

To me, grotesque means “ugly” and bizarre means “unusual.”

Unless we’re trapped in some 21st Century contention that if you happen to be a bit less than beautiful, you’re unusual enough to be considered grotesque. Is that the message?

And an antic is not an appearance, it’s an action–and I, for one, can think of at least four antics off the top of my head which were considered bizarre, if not grotesque in their time, but have proven historically to be life-saving:

1. John Brown attacking the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in an attempt to free the slaves.

If any of us had met John Brown we would have called him grotesque and certainly bizarre, with his zealous appeal against slavery and his antic of attempting the take-over of a government installation with a bunch of church friends.

It wasn’t exactly well-planned, yet the Union soldiers went into battle singing about his antic to inspire them to destroy an antiquated and evil institution of owning human beings.

2. Jesus of Nazareth calling himself the Son of God–or if you want to be really picky, not raising any objection when others did so.

How much guts would it take to have faith in someone you were sitting next to, who had just farted, as he contended that he was possessed of divine inspiration? I don’t know if I could have pulled that off.

Yes, believing in the resurrected Christ is certainly easier than following the unkempt Galilean.

3. Winston Churchill.

When Adolf Hitler had taken over most of Europe and had set his sights on the British Isles, Churchill and a few of his cronies decided to make a last-ditch stand against the tyranny of Berlin. It wasn’t popular and certainly the bombing of Londontown was grotesque and bizarre.

But the action halted the progress of the Third Reich, allowing time for the United States to rally and help chase the bully back into the bunker.

4. And finally, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. who by the way was raised in an era when Jim Crow was not only tolerated, but was considered to be evidence for how the Old South was resolving the colored/white issue.

What a bizarre notion, to think that people of all colors should be able to ride on a bus together, when in your entire life you had been taught by your elders that separation was inevitable, if not righteous. And how grotesque it was to see little girls blown up in churches because your antics were being objected to by the white plurality.

I think the definition offered by Mr. Webster portrays that antics are displeasing and therefore perhaps should be shoveled away.

Yet without antics, we don’t have any of the practical nuts and bolts that somehow or another, miraculously hold this contraption together. 

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Absinth

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Absinth:  (n.) 1. the shrub wormwood 2. a potent, green aniseedflavored liqueur that turns milky when water is added. Prepared from wormwood, it is now largely banned because of its toxicity.

All right, my imagination went nuts. Here’s what I see: a rather smarmy middle-aged gentleman, dressed in an unkempt, off-white linen suit, with beads of sweat sprouting around his brow, sitting in a large chair with once-lush velvet cushions, now a bit threadbare, presenting a chalice of drink in the direction of our hero, with a tiny, wicked smile on his lips, speaking in a broken accent: “Here. Drink. It’s dee-lee-cious.”

Our hero pauses, knowing certainly that this offering of refreshment is laced with some sort of poison–probably from wormwood. But to keep the upper hand, he takes the cup and downs it with one humongous gulp. He wipes his mouth with his sleeve and says in his best Midwestern, American accent, “Best I ever tasted.”

Our villain begins to laugh and cackle, giggling uncontrollably. “It is poison,” he says, sporting a bit of drool at the corners of his mouth. “And only I have the antidote.” He holds up a small vial which looks like it would contain really expensive eye drops.

At this point, any variety of plot twists could occur. A wrestling match for the antidote. Or perhaps our hero masterfully regurgitates the contents of his stomach, explaining that figuring our wicked friend would conjure a devious plan, he had surgically had his stomach lined with polyurethane to protect him from all poisons.

I don’t know. I decided a long time ago that it was much more fun to be a little wacky than being straight-laced and narrow-minded. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to drink anything extracted from wormwood. Of course it’s going to be poison. Sometimes the name says it all.

But there are those people who call themselves adventurers, who are not excited enough about the prospect of breathing normally, moving around and enjoying pizza–so they want some danger in their lives.

I am not one of them.

But I am willing to go to the movies to view their antics.

(What did you think of the polyurethane-lined stomach??)