Monday, May 9, 2011

Rhymes With Dream

Thought for the day: Why do people pay money to go to the top of tall buildings, and then pay again to look down at the ground through binoculars? 

One of the few good things I can say about growing up in a neighborhood of row homes is that there were always enough kids around to initiate just about any kind of game you can imagine: games like curb ball, dodge ball, red rover, Mother may I, spud, seven up, and of course, tag. A little convenience store down the alley from our house served as our meeting place, and the big metal pipe at its front corner served as home base for our tag games. Tag games always started by everyone yelling "Not it!" Whoever was slowest, WAS it, and would have to cover his eyes and start counting at that pipe while everyone else ran.

It's been 50+ years since I played that version of tag, but thanks to dear sweet Ruby of Blabbin' Grammy now I can play a different (more age-appropriate) version. She tagged me IT, so now I get to answer some questions, before tagging three other bloggers. Thank you, Grammy. Sounds like fun.

Here we go:

1.  If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?
It'd be that moment I spotted my husband at the airport when he finally came home from Vietnam.
2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
The airplane spent an interminable hour and a half sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta, and should have already landed in Baltimore by the time it finally got off the ground. My sister-in-law and her husband picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to the hospital, but my mother died twenty minutes before we got there. So, if I could change one thing, I'd make that plane leave on time.
3. What movie or TV character do you most resemble in personality?
I have no idea. Maybe a cross between June Cleaver and Lurch?
4. If you could push one person off a cliff, who would it be?
Geez, I'm boring. Can't think of anyone I hate, and even if I did, I'm not a push-somebody-off-the-cliff kind of person. I'm more of a guns or poison kind of gal.
5. Name one habit you want to change about yourself.
I need to exercise. Unfortunately, owning exercise equipment and a pair of spiffy running shoes doesn't do the trick. You actually have to use the darned things.
6. Describe yourself in one word.
7. Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
8. Why do you blog?
It started out (reluctantly, I might add) as a means to establish a "platform" to benefit my writing future. Now, I do it because I truly enjoy it, and because I've come to care about the people I've "met".

OK, time for me to tag three more bloggers. Ladies, you are IT!
Linda, from Visiting Reality
Connie, from A Merry Heart
and Anne, from Piedmont Writer

If you ladies would be so kind, please snag the blog tag from the top of this page, answer the questions on your blogs, and then tag three more bloggers. Kinda like a chain letter, but better. No body parts will turn black and fall off if you don't do it. (I don't think so, anyway. Personally, I wasn't willing to take the chance.)

Did you notice that word meme in question number seven? Familiar with it? In answering these questions on her blog, Grammy said, "What the heck is a meme? I never heard that one before." Since the only meme I'd ever heard of before was the French word, which rhymes with hem and means same, I decided to do some investigating.

It turns out that meme, which rhymes with dream, can best be described  as a basic building block of minds and culture, similar to the way a gene is considered a biological building block. Just as genes transmit biological information, memes transmit ideas and belief information, like catch phrases, melodies, the latest fads, and fashion trends. By extension, an Internet meme would be a concept that spreads via the Internet, like viral videos, tweets, and ... games of blogger tag.

So now we know.

Last Friday, I told the funny-but-true story of my grandfather using most of my grandmother's clothes as diapers during their long voyage to America. Turns out, my brother acquired a copy of their ship's manifest through and informed me that their ship didn't sail into Ellis Island, after all. The S.S. Columbia left Glasgow on April 28, 1923, and actually arrived in Boston Harbor eight days later. Eight days. When Mom-Mom described the voyage, she made it sound like so much longer than that, but eight days of seasickness must have felt more like eighty.

Now that I know they entered via Boston, I've been thinking about another story my grandmother told me. She said they lived in New York City for a while before moving on to Baltimore, which is why I thought they'd come into the country through Ellis Island, but maybe I misunderstood. Maybe they actually lived in Boston. Still, wherever they lived, the story was hysterical.

My grandmother could wax poetic about Scottish heather.

She said the temperatures were hot, hotter than what they'd ever experienced in Scotland. And the bugs? They were absolutely horrific, and also something quite new to them, she said. According to her, they didn't  have such annoying bugs in Scotland. So, picture this: they're in a cramped hotel room in the sweltering heat one evening, and the flies and mosquitoes are flitting and buzzing around the room, and about a hair's breadth away from driving my grandfather completely insane. So, Pop starts chasing them around the room with a fly swatter in hand. Bouncing on the bed, swinging the flyswatter like a baseball bat, and cussing as only an irate Scotsman can cuss. And oh yeah, because of the heat, he also happened to be naked. When my grandmother looked out the window, a small crowd was gathered below, pointing up, and having a jolly good time. Seems they found my grandfather's shenanigans quite entertaining.

Now whether or not that story's entirely true, I can't say, but she certainly told it to me often enough. One part of the tale doesn't mesh, though. That part about Scotland not having any annoying bugs? I did a google search to see if that's true. Not even close. There's a wee bug called the Highland midge that is so annoying, it's been known to make grown men cry. Those miserable critters not only bite, but they swarm. Not talking little swarms, either. I'm talking swarms of hundreds, and even thousands, that attack all at once. They've been called the scourge of Scotland.

Still, why ruin a good story with facts, right? My grandmother chose to remember Scotland as a perfect place, with fields of heather and nary a bug in sight. Works for me. I love good dreams. (rhymes with memes)

 rainbow above the highlands

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. What a great story about your grandfather. Jumping on a bed naked. Love it.

    Okay, I'll play your game. I'll try and set it up for Thursday. Thanks for thinking of me.

  2. LOL! Okay, you really must use that story about your in a book someday.

    And I'll do my best to keep the tag meme going, if not this week, then next. :)

  3. Hi, Anne. Glad you liked the story. What's really funny is Pop didn't have much of a sense of humor. In fact, he epitomized the stereotypical dour Scotsman. So when he found out those people were laughing at him, I imagine his cussing got even more colorful. Thanks for playing tag with me. I'll be looking forward to your responses.

    Hi, Linda. Good idea; I'll keep that in mind. And thank you for playing tag, too. I'll be on the look out for your posting.

  4. What a gorgeous rainbow photo! We have midges in the States, too. In Maine we called them black flies. So tiny, you can't get them with a fly swatter (naked or clothed :-)) They spawn in cold rushing water. One bite can swell up your whole face. They love to bite your ears. Only thing that would keep them off was something called Old Woodsman's Fly Dope. Some kind of tar. Very stinky, but preferable to torture by tiny fly.

  5. Hi, Anne. Yeah, I think we have something similar in the south, too, but they're not swarmers like those nasty buggers in Scotland. One description I read said they rise from the moor in a huge black cloud, and then descend on the unfortunate by the hundreds or even the thousands. One or two is bad enough! Funny, but the Scots have discovered Avon's Skin-So-Soft to be a fairly good repellent.

  6. Hi, Susan, What a wonderful response to the meme! Thank you so very much. I feel as though i really know you! You are from the South? What part? If you have said,I have somehow missed it..Sorry. I don't know if I told you already or not (I guess I did) but my ancestors (I was born a Campbell) came from the highlands. I love the stories of your grandparents...I had to laugh aloud at the picture of your grandfather jumping about in his altogether chasing the bugs around the room. Ha ha ha. Just too funny! Thanks for making my day!

  7. P.S. I am so sorry about your mom passing before you could get to her. I know how heartbreaking that would be. My husband passed away during the night after I came back to Texas after going home to pack up our house to move out here. I didn't realize he was close to death, and I was waiting til the next morning to go see him in the nursing home. It is never easy to give up those we love, even when we know they are in a better place.

  8. Hi, Ruby. Thanks again for tagging me. That was fun. Whether or not I'm "from the south" depends on your point of view. We're originally from MD, which lies south of the Mason-Dixon line, but most of our native GA-born friends claim we're Yankees. Or to be more accurate, "damned" Yankees. (Yankees visit the south; "damned" Yankees stay!) We've been in GA since 1971, and though we still miss some of the things about MD, (like the Chesapeake Bay) we do love the south and the people who live here.

    Very good on you being a Campbell. You've probably heard some wonderful stories about life in Scotland, too. My grandparents had the most beautiful brogues.

    Thank you. I'm sorry you weren't with your husband when he died, either. Maybe in some way, they were both trying to spare us the terrible moment of having to let them go.

    Take care. I hope you have a wonderful visit in Tennessee.

  9. Hi, Susan, Thanks. I still have laundry to do, and packing to do (I leave tomorrow), but my modus operandi is usually packing late at night and running around trying to find last minute things.. I am a procrastinator you know. Ha. I have done my bed linens already and they are in the dryer. I almost got my dirty laundry carried to the utility room and will do so when I arise from this chair. :) I know I am going to enjoy blogging with you! We are kindred spirits as Anne of Green Gables told her friend. Talk to you later. :)
    thanks for the well wishes.

  10. Your answers made me laugh out loud. Love the "I am a poison kind of gal" giggle. And my heart was absolutely touched by numbers 1 & 2.

    Thank you for visiting me today. I suspect we will be fast friends if you like. :)

  11. Hi, Skippy Mom. Thank you for stopping by here, too. And for signing on as a follower. I'm gonna return the favor, and I'd love to be friends. (We stay-at-home-mom types have to stick together!)

  12. Okay, I'm "it." I'll try to do it in the next day or so. Sounds like a great Friday post to me.

  13. I changed the meme to memo (as it's spelled later in the questions, I think). Stupid me! And how interesting what you found out about it. I thought of looking it up and didn't. Ten more stars for you!

    So glad you commented on my TAG post so I could come over and read your answers, which I like so much better than mine.

    I LOVE the story of your grandfather. That's humor at its best. And let's keep Scotland bug-free. I don't know what dreams are for if not to make everything perfect.

    I'm with you too exactly on blogging. It's the people I've met. But it IS also a good way to promote a book. We all do this, so it's okay.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  14. Terrific, Connie. Thank you. I'll be looking forward to your answers.

    Hi, Ann. No stars for looking it up. I'm rather obsessed about looking things up and checking things out, so it's actually a bit of a weakness. Glad you liked the story about my grandfather. He and my grandmother were something else. Take care.

  15. One last correction; it's Columbia instead of Colombia.

  16. Hey, Ron! Thanks for the correction. Very cool that you can leave comments now.

  17. Actually Pop did have a sense of humor, albeit a dry sense of humor. I remember a voyage I took with Pop, Mom-Mom, and Aunt Mildred up the Chesapeake to Betterton. It was around 1950-1952. As we were getting off the ship at Betterton in a cluster of people, Pop made the sound of a cat in agony and sure enough, someone remarked that somebody had stepped on a cat's tale. Pop just continued along with his usual stern expression. I had heard him make this sound before but this was the first time I had heard him do it in public.

  18. Oh, geez, I forgot all about him making those catcall sounds, and I he could even throw his voice, too, so he could be looking all innocent while people were searching for the poor little cat. Thanks for the reminder.

  19. I can't believe I spelled tail as tale, duh. I guess I had my head up that dark tunnel.