I found this collector plate at a garage sale, along with several others.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
by Robert Benchley
A textbook on English composition, giving examples of good and bad letter-writing, is always a mine of possibilities for one given to ruminating and with nothing in particular to do. In Business Man's English the specimen letters are unusually interesting. It seems almost as if the authors, Wallace Edgar Bartholomew and Floyd Hurlbut, had selected their examples with a view to their fiction possibilities. It also seems to the reader as if he were opening someone else's mail.
For instance, the following is given as a type of "very short letter, well placed":
Mr. Richard T. Green,
Travellers' Insurance Co.,
Dear Mr. Green:
The young man about whom you inquire has much native ability and while in our employ proved himself a master of office routine.
I regret to say, however, that he left us under circumstances that would not justify our recommending him to you.
C. S. THOMPSON
Now I want to know what those "circumstances" were. And in lieu of the facts, I am afraid that I shall have to imagine some circumstances for myself. Personally, I don't believe that the "young man" was to blame. Bad companions, maybe, or I shouldn't be at all surprised if he was shielding someone else, perhaps a young lady stenographer with whom he was in love. The more I think of it the more I am sure that this was the secret of the whole thing. You see, he was a good worker and had, Mr. Thompson admits, proved himself a master of office routine. Although Mr. Thompson doesn't say so, I have no doubt but that he would have been promoted very shortly.
And then he fell in love with a little brown-eyed stenographer. You know how it is yourself. She had an invalid mother at home and was probably trying to save enough money to send her father to college. And whatever she did, it couldn't have been so very bad, for she was such a nice girl.
Well, at any rate, it looks to me as if the young man, while he was arranging the pads of paper for the regular Monday morning conference, overheard the office-manager telling about this affair (I have good reason to believe that it was a matter of carelessness in the payroll) and saying that he considered the little brown-eyed girl dishonest.
At this the young man drew himself up to his full height and, looking the office-manager squarely in the eye, said:
"No, Mr. Hostetter; it was I who did it, and I will take the consequences. And I want it understood that no finger of suspicion shall be pointed at Agnes Fairchild, than whom no truer, sweeter girl ever lived!"
"I am sorry to hear this, Ralph," said Mr. Hostetter. "You know what this means."
"I do, sir," said Ralph, and turned to look out over the chimney-pots of the city, biting his under lip very tight.
And on Saturday Ralph left.
Since then he has applied at countless places for work, but always they have written to his old employer, Mr. Thompson, for a reference, and have received a letter similar to the one given here as an example. Naturally, they have not felt like taking him on. You cannot blame them. And, in a way, you cannot blame Mr. Thompson. You see, Mr. Hostetter didn't tell Mr. Thompson all the circumstances of the affair. He just said that Ralph had confessed to responsibility for the payroll mix-up. If Mr. Thompson had been there at the time I am sure that he would have divined that Ralph was shielding Miss Fairchild, for Mr. Thompson liked Ralph. You can see that from his letter.
But as it stands now things are pretty black for the boy, and it certainly seems as if in this great city there ought to be some one who will give him a job without writing to Mr. Thompson about him. This department will be open as a clearing-house for offers of work for a young man of great native ability and master of office routine who is just at present, unfortunately, unable to give any references, but who will, I am quite sure, justify any trust that may be placed in him in the future.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
I have always been fascinated by sailing and seafaring terms, although I have never set foot on a sailing vessel.
BORAWe rode the Bora’s frozen breath
With blue fingers we grasp
The bowlines for the weather leech
A spanker snapped and begin to thrash
We laid low by the mainsul mast
While the maiden, she climbed the swell
Followed the curl and broke away at last
Free sailing as she’s compelled
The Bora tames to a mistral
The maiden finally sees the sun
The swarthy sea turns azure blue
And rocks gently now the maiden’s run
©Copyright September 2, 2010 by Terry D. Sutherland
This is a second posting of this poem.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
It was an artless Bandar, and he danced upon a pine, And much I wondered how he lived, and where the beast might dine, And many many other things, till, o'er my morning smoke, I slept the sleep of idleness and dreamt that Bandar spoke. He said: "O man of many clothes! Sad crawler on the Hills! Observe, I know not Ranken's shop, nor Ranken's monthly bills! I take no heed to trousers or the coats that you call dress; Nor am I plagued with little cards for little drinks at Mess. "I steal the bunnia's grain at morn, at noon and eventide, (For he is fat and I am spare), I roam the mountain side, I follow no man's carriage, and no, never in my life Have I flirted at Peliti's with another Bandar's wife. "O man of futile fopperies -- unnecessary wraps; I own no ponies in the hills, I drive no tall-wheeled traps. I buy me not twelve-button gloves, 'short-sixes' eke, or rings, Nor do I waste at Hamilton's my wealth on 'pretty things.' "I quarrel with my wife at home, we never fight abroad; But Mrs. B. has grasped the fact I am her only lord. I never heard of fever -- dumps nor debts depress my soul; And I pity and despise you!" Here he pouched my breakfast-roll. His hide was very mangy and his face was very red, And ever and anon he scratched with energy his head. His manners were not always nice, but how my spirit cried To be an artless Bandar loose upon the mountain side! So I answered: -- "Gentle Bandar, and inscrutable Decree Makes thee a gleesome fleasome Thou, and me a wretched Me. Go! Depart in peace, my brother, to thy home amid the pine; Yet forget not once a mortal wished to change his lot for thine."
The wind took off with the sunset-- The fog came up with the tide, When the Witch of the North took an Egg-shell With a little Blue Devil inside. "Sink," she said, "or swim," she said, "It's all you will bet from me. And that is the finish of him!" she said And the Egg-shell went to sea. The wind fell dead with the midnight-- The fog shut down like a sheet, When the Witch of the North heard the Egg-shell Feeling by hand for a fleet. "Get!" she said, "or you're gone," she said., But the little Blue Devil said "No! "The sights are just coming on," he said, And he let the Whitehead go. The wind got up with the morning-- The fog blew off with the rain, When the Witch of the North saw the Egg-shell And the little Blue Devil again. "Did you swim?" she said. "Did you sink:" she said, And the little Blue Devil replied: "For myself I swam, but I think," he said, "There's somebody sinking outside."
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
I've a head like a concertina: I've a tongue like a button-stick, I've a mouth like an old potato, and I'm more than a little sick, But I've had my fun o' the Corp'ral's Guard: I've made the cinders fly, And I'm here in the Clink for a thundering drink and blacking the Corporal's eye. With a second-hand overcoat under my head, And a beautiful view of the yard, O it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B. For "drunk and resisting the Guard!" Mad drunk and resisting the Guard -- 'Strewth, but I socked it them hard! So it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B. For "drunk and resisting the Guard." I started o' canteen porter, I finished o' canteen beer, But a dose o' gin that a mate slipped in, it was that that brought me here. 'Twas that and an extry double Guard that rubbed my nose in the dirt -- But I fell away with the Corp'ral's stock and the best of the Corp'ral's shirt. I left my cap in a public-house, my boots in the public road, And Lord knows where -- and I don't care -- my belt and my tunic goed; They'll stop my pay, they'll cut away the stripes I used to wear, But I left my mark on the Corp'ral's face, and I think he'll keep it there! My wife she cries on the barrack-gate, my kid in the barrack-yard, It ain't that I mind the Ord'ly room -- it's that that cuts so hard. I'll take my oath before them both that I will sure abstain, But as soon as I'm in with a mate and gin, I know I'll do it again! With a second-hand overcoat under my head, And a beautiful view of the yard, Yes, it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B. For "drunk and resisting the Guard!" Mad drunk and resisting the Guard -- 'Strewth, but I socked it them hard! So it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B. For "drunk and resisting the Guard."
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Ernest the Christmas Schnauzer
Our family has had three Miniature Schnauzers through the years. Our first was Max. He was with us when the kids were little and growing up. He considered himself one of the kids but determined that he was the alpha kid in the pack – he was number one, Wendy was number two, Heidi, three and Tim was bringing up the rear. When VCR’s were new in family entertainment, Denise would put a Disney movie in the machine and the three human kids and Max, the leader of the pack, sat in front of the TV on a blanket on the floor. Denise fixed popcorn and each kid had his and her bowl in front of them – Max loved movie time he watched intently and ate his popcorn just like the others. Max lived to the ripe old age of fifteen (human years) but considered himself a kid right up to the end.
Our next Schnauzer, Buster, was a sweet baby sitter for our grandchildren. We hadn’t intended to get another dog after Max passed away but Denise’s friend’s mother had gotten Buster as a puppy. Her friend’s mother died suddenly and Denise’s friend asked Denise if she wanted him – it was either that or go to the humane society. Denise couldn’t refuse – so we inherited Benji the Schnauzer puppy, who I immediately renamed Buster. Why Buster? Because he looked like a Buster, I guess. Buster loved to ride in the car. Often he just sat in the car and watched through the windows. The car didn’t have to be moving; he was content traveling or not. Buster developed diabetes. At the end we could not stabilize his blood sugar even with two large injections of insulin. He developed glaucoma and we had to have him put to sleep.
Ernest came to us at Thanksgiving 2006. Ernest was born in Polson in September 2006. Our three kids chipped in and purchased Ernest and brought him to us on Thanksgiving, hidden in a laundry basket. So he was not really a Christmas gift, but given the timing it was close enough. All six grandchildren were there so you can imagine that little puppy Ernest’s little paws never touched the floor for the entirety of the Thanksgiving holiday. Ernest is an adolescent living in a house with old folks. Of the three Schnauzers, he is the only one that ever played with toys. He has his toy basket jam packed with his toys. The basket resides in Denise’s office/craft room. He takes toys at his leisure and puts them away (sometimes) when he is done. Of the three Schnauzers, Ernest is the smartest. He is fluent in human English, and I’m almost positive that he can spell. When he communicates with Denise his voice is pitched higher in his utterances. When he talks to me he lowers his voice. He is a thinker and a planner. I watch him, sometimes, when he lies on the floor by the sliding glass doors that lead to the back deck and his half acre back yard. He takes on a Sphinx posture as he watches his domain through the glass doors. He watches the deer and rabbits and squirrels – he watches and plans. He watches for long periods of time and I’m sure that in his mind he is instinctively reverting to his primordial need to be a member of the pack. Imagining those ancient days when canines wandered the savannah in packs and hunted and scavenged and adhered to a strict pecking order. Sometimes I can almost see him responding to that instinct by raising his chin (just a little), ready to howl on a moonlit winter night. Then squelching it as he brings himself back to reality. I watch him and imagine his thoughts and think of my own roots. My ancesters came to the US from Scotland in 1841. The Clan came from the Caithness and Thurso area in the north part of Scotland. Like Ernest, sometimes I lose myself in thought contemplating the early days of man in that part of Europe. I think of the comfortless life of early Scotland. I think of the love and pride that man has for his homeland. I think of Christmas.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
A kaleidoscope unfolds
In the northern sky
Colors bright and bold
Dance for you and I
In the northern sky
Colors bright and bold
Dance for you and I
The Northern Lights high above
Where Valkyries lead the fight
A Norseman’s treasure trove
Lights a dark and wondrous night
Where Valkyries lead the fight
A Norseman’s treasure trove
Lights a dark and wondrous night
©Copyright October 12, 2007 by Terry D. Sutherland
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Done in the Manner, If Not the Spirit, of
By Robert Benchley
What an afternoon! Mr. Gummidge said that, in his estimation, there never had been such an afternoon since the world began, a sentiment which was heartily endorsed by Mrs. Gummidge and all the little Gummidges, not to mention the relatives who had come over from Jersey for the day.
In the first place, there was the ennui. And such ennui as it was! A heavy, overpowering ennui, such as results from a participation in eight courses of steaming, gravied food, topping off with salted nuts which the little old spinster Gummidge from Oak Hill said she never knew when to stop eating--and true enough she didn't--a dragging, devitalizing ennui, which left its victims strewn about the living-room in various attitudes of prostration suggestive of those of the petrified occupants in a newly unearthed Pompeiian dwelling; an ennui which carried with it a retinue of yawns, snarls and thinly veiled insults, and which ended in ruptures in the clan spirit serious enough to last throughout the glad new year.
Then there were the toys! Three and a quarter dozen toys to be divided among seven children. Surely enough, you or I might say, to satisfy the little tots. But that would be because we didn't know the tots. In came Baby Lester Gummidge, Lillian's boy, dragging an electric grain-elevator which happened to be the only toy in the entire collection that appealed to little Norman, five-year-old son of Luther, who lived in Rahway. In came curly-headed Effie in frantic and throaty disputation with Arthur, Jr, over the possession of an articulated zebra. . . . In came Fonlansbee, teeth buried in the hand of little Ormond, who bore a popular but battered remnant of what had once been the proud false bosom of a hussar's uniform. In they all came, one after another, some crying, some snapping, some pulling, some pushing--all appealing to their respective parents for aid in their intramural warfare.
And the cigar smoke! Mrs. Gummidge said that she didn't mind the smoke from a good cigarette, but would they mind if she opened the windows for just a minute in order to clear the room of the heavy aroma of used cigars? Mr. Gummidge stoutly maintained that they were good cigars. His brother, George Gummidge, said that he, likewise, would say that they were. At which colloquial sally both Gummidge brothers laughed testily, thereby breaking the laughter record for the afternoon.
Aunt Libbie, who lived with George, remarked from the dark corner of the room that it seemed just like Sunday to her. An amendment was offered to this statement by the cousin, who was in the insurance business, stating that it was worse than Sunday. Murmurings indicative of as hearty agreement with this sentiment as their lethargy would allow came from the other members of the family circle, causing Mr. Gummidge to suggest a walk in the air to settle their dinner.
And then arose such a chorus of protestations as has seldom been heard. It was too cloudy to walk. It was too raw. It looked like snow. It looked like rain. Luther Gummidge said that he must be starting along home soon, anyway, bringing forth the acid query from Mrs. Gummidge as to whether or not he was bored. Lillian said that she felt a cold coming on, and added that something they had had for dinner must have been under-cooked. And so it went, back and forth, forth and back, up and down, and in and out, until Mr. Gummidge's suggestion of a walk in the air was reduced to a tattered impossibility and the entire company glowed with ill-feeling.
In the meantime, we must not forget the children. No one else could. Aunt Libbie said that she didn't think there was anything like children to make a Christmas; to which Uncle Ray, the one with the Masonic fob, said, "No, thank God." Although Christmas is supposed to be the season of good cheer, you (or I, for that matter) couldn't have told, from listening to the little ones, but that it was the children's Armageddon season, when Nature had decreed that only the fittest should survive, in order that the race might be carried on by the strongest, the most predatory and those possessing the best protective coloring. Although there were constant admonitions to Fonlansbee to "Let Ormond have that whistle now; it's his," and to Arthur, Jr., not to be selfish, but to "give the kiddie-car to Effie; she's smaller than you are," the net result was always that Fonlansbee kept the whistle and Arthur, Jr., rode in permanent, albeit disputed, possession of the kiddie-car. Oh, that we mortals should set ourselves up against the inscrutable workings of Nature!
Hallo! A great deal of commotion! That was Uncle George stumbling over the electric train, which had early in the afternoon ceased to function and which had been left directly across the threshold. A great deal of crying! That was Arthur, Jr., bewailing the destruction of his already useless train, about which he had forgotten until the present moment. A great deal of recrimination! That was Arthur, Sr., and George fixing it up. And finally a great crashing! That was Baby Lester pulling over the tree on top of himself, necessitating the bringing to bear of all of Uncle Ray's knowledge of forestry to extricate him from the wreckage.
And finally Mrs. Gummidge passed the Christmas candy around. Mr. Gummidge afterward admitted that this was a tactical error on the part of his spouse. I no more believe that Mrs. Gummidge thought they wanted that Christmas candy than I believe that she thought they wanted the cold turkey which she later suggested. My opinion is that she wanted to drive them home. At any rate, that is what she succeeded in doing. Such cries as there were of "Ugh! Don't let me see another thing to eat!" and "Take it away!" Then came hurried scramblings in the coat-closet for overshoes. There were the rasping sounds made by cross parents when putting wraps on children. There were insincere exhortations to "come and see us soon" and to "get together for lunch some time." And, finally, there were slammings of doors and the silence of utter exhaustion, while Mrs. Gummidge went about picking up stray sheets of wrapping paper.
And, as Tiny Tim might say in speaking of Christmas afternoon as an institution, "God help us, every one."