Sunday, June 19, 2016

More than I could ever ask for

Emily Saliers quote I asked my father for a dollar and he gave it a ten dollar raise
{cameran collage}

“But there was a time I asked my father for a dollar
And he gave it a ten dollar raise
And when I needed my mother and I called her
She stayed with me for days...”
—Emily Saliers, “Prince of Darkness,” 1989


Happy Father’s Day to my Papa
who always gives me more than I could ever ask for —
not in money but in time, love, support, responsibility,
happiness, great memories, and valuable life lessons!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Remembering The Grammar Mudge

Richard E. Turner (1937-2011)
The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. “The Mudge”

Richard E. Turner (1937–2011)
Rich Turner (1937–2011)
Rich Turner was a professor, copyeditor, editor, curmudgeonesque grammarian, and beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He was born 1937 in South Africa and passed away 2011 in New Jersey. Since 2002 he published grammar and writing tips as well as his own personal essays, articles, and “grumbles” on his website The Grammar Curmudgeon at grammarmudge.cityslide.com. Having hosted the archived site for the past five years, his family will be taking it offline at the end of this month. With their permission I am reprinting two of Mr. Turner’s essays below, so that everyone who has enjoyed his writings and personality can have this online memorial. There are also several quotations from his essays on The Quote Garden. In honor of The Mudge, we present to you “An Open Letter to My Grandson” from January 1997, and “Kindness to Animals,” originally published July 2005.


An Open Letter to My Grandson
by Richard E. Turner

When this was written, I had only one grandson. Now, since I have three of them, the title should probably be “An Open Letter to My Grandsons.”

By the time you read this and can understand it, I may not be around anymore. That’s the way it goes, and there’s no point in trying to change things we cannot change. A big part of life is acceptance, or, as someone said, “All you can do is wash up and show up; everything else just happens.”

My first advice is not to give any advice, unless people ask for it. Even then, you may need to figure out whether they really want your advice or merely want you to agree with them (as is usually the case).

Obviously, my advice not to give advice is a self-contradiction. When, as will sometimes happen, you are caught in contradiction, you can always quote Walt Whitman [“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes)”] or Emerson [“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”]. Where the rules are clear-cut, consistency is good; where they are not (which is most of the time), consistency may be the sign of a closed mind.

Cultivate openness of mind. It is a rare quality because most of us harbor inflexible biases without realizing that we do. You should, of course, develop a set of values to guide your behavior, but you should be wary of inflicting your values on others (or expecting others to agree with you).

Tend to your own garden; what other people grow in theirs is not your concern, unless their actions harm others. What others believe is their own business, even if it’s diametrically opposed to some of your own most cherished ideas. Besides, your ability to change other people is either highly limited or nonexistent.

This principle applies to religion as well as to morality. If you believe in a Higher Power, that Higher Power is your own, as is everyone else’s Higher Power. You have neither the obligation nor the right to proselytize. The best you can do is develop your own sense of spirituality, follow it with all the integrity you can muster, and let your example speak for itself.

Seek knowledge. Knowing stuff is good. Do this when you are young because your ability to absorb and, especially, to remember will deteriorate sooner than you expect. Recognize, too, that the power of intellect is limited. “Smart” doesn’t account for a whole lot, and it isn’t synonymous with “good” or “happy” or even “successful.”

Although book knowledge is useful, what really matters is what you learn from experience. Observe the world. As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” (You probably have not heard of Yogi Berra; he was a baseball player and manager who had many curious sayings such as this one.)

You may have noticed that children’s powers of observation are quite acute. One reason for this is that, to children, the world is literally wonderful – full of wonder. They see a lot because much of what they see is brand-new. After a while, though, we start to take what was once wonderful for granted – the changing sky, the seasons, the taste of food, the many sounds that we hear each day.  We allow distractions that are not really worthy of our attention to divert us from “smelling the roses,” as the cliché puts it. Try to recapture the sense of wonder whenever you can.

Develop the art of listening. Courtesy requires that you listen to what other people say, but you should go beyond this. By listening carefully, you can develop a sensitivity to language and an understanding of how people think and feel. A sense of the magical power of words can benefit anyone, not just writers and editors. And one does not need to be a psychologist to understand the complex internal choreography of thought and feeling that underlies people’s words.

Listen also to the wordless world. Though the world of words may inform your intellect, that which cannot be expressed by words will inform your spirit. Give every form of music a hearing, especially the wordless music that expresses what words cannot, whether in the form of an inspired symphony or the sounds of the natural world. This kind of listening requires no intellectual understanding; it resonates within a part of us that is beyond intellect.

Try to at least start doing these things when you’re young. Resist the natural tendency of youth to live too much in the future, believing that the future is forever. While you cannot expect to be wise and young at the same time, you can avoid the fate of those of us who treat life as a three-act play, doze during the first two acts, and wake, when the play is nearly over, to discover that this is the only performance. We do not, as far as I know, have the chance to rerun our lives.

Numerous metaphors have been used to describe life. Among them is the metaphor of life as a battle. Try not to think of life in these terms because, if you regard life as a struggle, it will become one, and you will have little joy. It is far better to think of life as a journey in which the difficulties are hills to climb. The hills are there for a reason (even if you don’t know what that reason is), and the sense of satisfaction after climbing the hill is almost always worth the effort.

But perhaps the best metaphor is that of life as a river. If you let the current carry you, you will be far better off than if you try to swim against it. This does not mean that it is an effortless ride; some parts of the river will be hazardous, requiring great skill to navigate safely. You will need to learn when to ask someone else to help with the paddling and when to stop paddling altogether.

Finally, and possibly most important, you should take time to see the humor in it all. The world is a funny place, and funniest of all are the creatures who walk about upright on two legs, believing that they run the place. You should not take it too seriously, and that includes what I have written here.


Kindness to Animals
by Richard E. Turner

Since I am a self-confessed, card-carrying curmudgeon, kindness is not generally considered to be one of my prominent character traits. Nevertheless, we curmudgeons tend to have a soft spot for so-called lower animals because the supposedly higher animals – namely, our fellow human beings – continually distress, disappoint, and annoy us.

We do acknowledge the scientific evidence that our species has appeared to evolve physically more than any other. We admit that the human brain is probably more complex than any other known living brain, although we seriously question the uses to which our species has put this organ, and we often wonder whether some of our kind use it much at all. After all, there must be some reason why the adjective stupid is more often applied to people than to other animals. As for our supposed sense of morality – the ethics that we presume that amoral* lower animals lack – the verdict is still out. The most highly developed human brains seem hard-pressed to agree on what is “right” and what is “wrong” in many situations. While we may argue that lower animals cannot do this either, that they live by instincts alone (a hypothesis now being refuted by many scientists), our relativistic morality does not necessarily mark us as superior. An equally valid conclusion could be that it serves mainly to make us more confused.

Be that as it may, even we curmudgeons believe that kindness to animals (meaning, of course, other animals) is an admirable, possibly ennobling, trait. I’m not talking only about the fuzzy, loveable animals we have as pets. I, for example, am partial to warthogs, although I wouldn’t have one as a pet. Somehow, I feel that any animal that ugly (in my perception of beauty) must have a beautiful soul.** Besides, if warthogs didn’t find each other attractive, there wouldn’t be any baby warthogs, would there? No great loss, you say? Well, that’s your perspective and is not the warthog’s view; nor is it mine.

I suppose that a case could be made against poisonous snakes, vultures, rats, and such creatures, but they are only doing what they must to protect themselves and survive. One can hardly fault a grizzly bear for mauling a two-legged intruder who threatens its young or stands between it and dinner. After all, people clobber and sometimes kill other people for little or no reason. Animals do not wage war, and, though I’m no zoologist, I don’t think many of them kill for the sheer fun of it.

I’ve never understood people who shoot animals for sport. Oddly enough, people who would never think of killing a dog or cat for fun are greatly entertained by killing a deer or bear or elephant that has done nothing all its life but mind its own business. Besides, there are better things to shoot. For instance, when your computer or washing machine has broken down beyond repair, take out your trusty AK-47 or Smith & Wesson and blow that sucker to smithereens. It won’t feel a thing.

What fool thinks that animals don’t feel pain? They have nervous systems and brains. Some of the less-developed species and orders indeed lack central nervous systems (yes, I swat flies and step on ants), but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about sentient creatures. We can’t be sure what feelings they have – biologists are still working on that – but their inability to express feelings in words doesn’t mean that they don’t have them. That they can’t shed tears doesn’t mean that they can’t feel hurt, mentally as well as physically. As Mark Twain observed, man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to. Does that mean that other animals can’t feel embarrassment? I swear I’ve seen many a cat or dog, caught in the act of doing something it knows it shouldn’t, look embarrassed.

One of my fellow curmudgeons, the late Cleveland Amory, wrote that he was forming the “Hunt the Hunters Club,” the motto for which was, “If it’s red and moves, shoot it.” Perhaps I should revive this noble cause.

Still, putting aside the issue of hunting, there’s no reason why we cannot be much kinder to other animals than we are. I confess my regret that I was raised to be a carnivore, and I envy people who can take their kindness toward animals to the limit of eating nothing but plants, especially when I read the horrifying articles about the way some animals are treated before they are slaughtered as food for humans. I don’t like to think about what something I’m eating looked like or how it felt when it was alive. Yesterday’s loveable and attractive animal is tomorrow’s fricassee. Yech!

Still, this is all the more reason for those of us who are habitual meat-eaters to be kind to the animals that live among us and even to those that are fortunate enough to live in the wild, mostly apart from us. As with our own kind, it costs us nothing to try to understand them, to empathize with them as much as is humanly (and humanely) possible, to be gentle and considerate.

To end where I began, we curmudgeons often have difficulty viewing our species as superior, let alone noble. In particular, this curmudgeon feels that the actions of people who are cruel to animals are proof of the human capacity to be barbaric and mean. On the other hand, ironically, people who treat animals with respect, consideration, and kindness give the word humanity at least one positive meaning.

* For the first time on this website, I am using a word link that takes the user to definitions at answers.com. If you click on amoral, you will go to sources clarifying that amoral does not have the same meaning as immoral (the opposite of moral) but refers to the state of being neither moral nor immoral, of existing outside the context of morality.

** “That’s ridiculous,” you say, “Warthogs don’t have souls.” How do you know? It could be that, when they die, their beautiful souls ascend to warthog heaven, the Great Mudhole in the Sky.


Bookplate of Richard E. Turner
Bookplate of Richard E. Turner

“Grammar Checker – A software program that is not needed by those who know grammar and virtually useless for those who don’t.” ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), “The Curmudgeon’s Short Dictionary of Modern Phrases,” c.2009

Monday, April 25, 2016

Quoting Arizona

Come check out my updated page of quotes about Arizona! I’ve discovered dozens of old titles about my state on Google Books, including some from the 1800s when it was only yet a territory. There are such vibrant descriptions of the land, weather, and culture I couldn’t help but spend nearly all my free time these past couple of months reading and searching and harvesting! And I’m not even close to done with them all, but I’m just too thrilled and can’t wait to share.

Arizona Territory Seal 1863
Seal of the Territory of Arizona, 1863
Source: History of the Pacific States of North
America, Vol XII: Arizona and New Mexico,
by Hubert Howe Bancroft, 1888.
Modified by TG, 2016, using Aviary.
The newly revised page now has about 275 quotes and has leaped to the second largest page on the entire site, after the page of quotations about quotations.

You know what they say: Eat local, quote local. Several well-known locals are represented — Barbara Kingsolver, Zane Grey, Erma Bombeck, Don Dedera, Alice Cooper, Stephenie Meyer, Diana Gabaldon, etc, plus lesser-known but equally eloquent past and present Arizona residents, traveling writers, and novelists too.

When I was much younger, I used to think our desert was so ugly in comparison to most other places that were green and lush and alive and had less glaring light. But I’ve really come around to the special beauty of the rocks and cacti and sparser greens, especially after getting into photography in high school. And we really do have gorgeous sunrises, sunsets, clouds, and amazing springtime wildflowers and blossoms. Yes, the heat can be a little harsh but we get used to it. Politics aside (don’t get me started), I do love my home state and I truly hope you enjoy browsing the quotes as much as I enjoyed finding them. I will continue to add more as I find time for literary harvests. You can read the quotes here: www.quotegarden.com/arizona.html. Full-size versions of the below photos are available on Tumblr; see link below each photo.

Arizona quote from The Quote Garden on photo of Superstition Mountains
{view photo full size}
“Land of extremes. Land of contrasts. Land of surprises.
Land of contradictions.... That is Arizona.” ~State Guide, 1940
Photo: Lost Dutchman, Superstition Mountains, Arizona by
Terri Guillemets, 2010. Editing app: cameran collage
Arizona cactus quote from The Quote Garden on photo taken hiking Squaw Peak
{view photo full size}
“You know you’re an Arizona native when you
know every cactus by its face.” ~Terri Guillemets
Photo: View of Phoenix, Arizona from Squaw Peak, 2011,
by Terri Guillemets. Editing app: cameran collage
Arizona colors quote from The Quote Garden on photo of Phoenix sunrise
{view photo full size}
“If you thrill to vivid beauty
Go where the world was drawn;
At dawn watch the glowing palette
God wiped His brushes on.”
~Grace Shattuck Bail, 1968
Photo: Sunrise in Phoenix, Arizona, 2009, by Terri Guillemets.
(Poet is referring to the Painted Desert) Editing app: Fontmania
Arizona springtime cactus quote from The Quote Garden on Phoenix North Mountain photo
{view photo full size}
“Even the ugliest cactus plant becomes a thing of radiant beauty when
it comes under the miracle touch of spring.” ~Raymond Carlson, 1965
Photo: North Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010, by
Terri Guillemets. Editing app: cameran collage
Arizona quote from The Quote Garden on photo taken at North Mountain in Phoenix
{view photo full size}
“Almost everyone in the world knows something about
Arizona, and some of it is even true.” ~Jim Turner, 2011
Photo: North Mountain Nature Trail, Phoenix, Arizona,
2010, by Terri Guillemets. Editing app: PathOn

“Arizona mesas are arid and barren—broad plateaus of wild, rugged, waterless deserts; the marvelous mountains are rugged, ragged, rough, red, and rude—barren to summit and bleak to every sense. The shadeless mesquite is not essentially handsome or inviting; the valde-verde tree, with its mockery of leafless branches, is not an object of delight; the clouds of hot alkali dust that arise are not agreeable to eye or taste... the numerous varieties of the grotesque cactus, from the little cotton-like bulb of the smallest that hugs the earth, to the monstrous columnar fungus that outlines itself against the sky, are not especially inviting specimens of the freaks in which dame Nature occasionally indulges. Yet, and yet, the wonderful atmosphere that bends above and embraces us, is the most marvelous of magicians.” ~Richard J. Hinton, “Over Valley and Mesa,” The Hand-Book to Arizona, 1877

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Within, without — withstand

Religion! What Is It?
by Reginald Heber (1783–1826)

’Tis not to go to church to-day,
To look devout, and seem to pray,
And ere to-morrow’s sun go down,
Be dealing scandal through the town.

Not every sanctimonious face,
Denotes the certain reign of grace;
A phiz, that seems to scowl at sin,
Oft veils hypocrisy within.

’Tis not to mark out duty’s walk,
Or of our own good deeds to talk;
And then to practice secret crime,
And to misspend and waste our time.

’Tis not for sects or creeds to fight,
And call our zeal the rule of right;
When all we wish is, at the best,
To see our church excel the rest...

It grieves to hear an ill report,
And scorns with human woes to sport;
Of others’ deeds it speaks no ill,
But tells of good or else is still...


“I believe the purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, c.1996

“I don’t never have any trouble in regulating my own conduct, but to keep other folks’ straight is what bothers me.” ~Josh Billings (1818–1885)

“Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.” ~Jason Rainbow, c.1979

“Our moral theorists seem never content with the normal. Why must it always be a contest between fornication, obesity and laziness, and celibacy, fasting and hard labor?” ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

“A great deal of what passes for current Christianity consists in denouncing other people’s vices and faults.” ~Henry Williams, Bishop of Carlisle, c.1928

“You would do well to trouble less about the actions of others, and to take a little more pains with your own. One ought to look a long time into one’s self before thinking of condemning others...” ~Molière, c.1666

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Monk's Cento on Man

The Poets' "Essay on Man"
A Literary Curiosity
Collected and arranged by James Monk
Circa 1873

What strange infatuation rules mankind! —T. Chatterton
What different spheres to human bliss assigned! —S. Rogers
To loftier things your finer pulses burn. —C. Sprague
If Man would but his finger nature learn. —R.H. Dana
What several ways men to their calling have! —B. Johnson
And grasp at life though sinking to the grave. —W. Falconer
Ask what is human life? The sage replies. —W. Cowper
Wealth, pomp and honor are but empty toys. —R. Fergusson
We trudge, we travel, but from pain to pain. —F. Quarles
Weak, timid landsmen on life's stormy main. —R. Burns
We only toil who are the first of things. —A. Tennyson
From labor health, from health contentment springs. —J. Beattie
Fame runs before us as the morning star. —J. Dryden
How little do we know that which we are! —Byron
Let none, then, here his certain knowledge boast. —J. Pomfret
Of fleeting joys too certain to be lost. —E. Waller
For over all there hangs a cloud of fear. —T. Hood
All is but change and separation here. —Steele
To smooth life's passage o'er its thorny way. —T. Dwight
Sum up at night what thou hast done by day. —G. Herbert
Be rich in patience, if thou in gudes be poor. —W. Dunbar
So many men do stoope to sights unsure. —G. Whitney
Choose out the man to virtue best inclined. —N. Rowe
Throw envy, folly, prejudice, behind. —J. Langhorne
Defer not till to-morrow to be wise. —W. Congreve
Wealth heaped on wealth nor truth nor safety buys. —S. Johnson
Remembrance worketh with her busy train. —O. Goldsmith
Care draws on care, woe comforts woe again. —M. Drayton
On high estates huge heaps of care attend. —Webster
No joy so great but runneth to an end. —R. Southwell
No hand applaud what honor shuns to hear. —J. Thomson
Who casts off shame should likewise cast off fear. —J.S. Knowles
Grief haunts us down the precipice of years. —W.S. Landor
Virtue alone no dissolution fears. —E. Moore
Time loosely spent will not again be won. —R. Greene
What shall I do to be forever known? —A. Cowley
But now the wane of life comes darkly on. —J. Baillie
After a thousand mazes overgone. —J. Keats
In this brief state of trouble and unrest. —B. Barton
Man never is, but always to be, blest. —A. Pope
How fading are the joys we dote upon! —J. Norris
Lo! while I speak the present moment's gone. —J. Oldham
Oh! thou eternal arbiter of things! —M. Akenside
How awful is the hour when conscience stings. —J.G. Percival
Conscience—stern arbiter in every breast. —J.A. Hillhouse
The fluttering wish on wing that will not rest. —D. Mallet
Time is the present hour; the past is fled. —J. Marsden
Oh! thou futurity—our hope and dread. —E. Elliott
This above all: to thin own self be true. —W. Shakespeare
Learn to live well, that thou may'st die so, too. —J. Denham
To those that list the world's gay scenes I leave. —E. Spenser
Some ills we wish for when we wish to live. —E. Young



A cento of fifty-two authors. Well-played, Jas!  «tεᖇᖇ¡·g»

Deming's Cento on Life

Circa 1868, originally published in the San Francisco Times. The following poem is a compilation of lines selected by Mrs. H. A. Deming, from thirty-eight authors. It is said to have taken her one year of research to find and fit all the pieces to create this cento on Life:—

     E. Young:
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
     Dr. Johnson:
Life's a short summer—man a flower.
      A. Pope:
By turns we catch the vital breath and die—
     M. Prior:
The cradle and the tomb, alas! too nigh.
     Dr. Sewell:
To be is far better than not to be,
     E. Spenser:
Though all man's life may seem a tragedy.
     S. Daniel:
But light cares speak when mighty griefs are dumb;
     W. Raleigh:
The bottom is but shallow whence they come.
     H.W. Longfellow:
Your fate is but the common fate of all;
     R. Southwell:
Unmingled joys here to no man befall.
     W. Congreve:
Nature to each allots his proper sphere,
     C. Churchill:
Fortune makes folly her peculiar care.
     Rochester:
Custom does not often reason overrule,
     J. Armstrong:
And throw a cruel sunshine on a fool.
     J. Milton:
Live well how long or short—permit to heaven,
     P.J. Bailey:
They who forgive most shall be most forgiven.
     Abp. Trench:
Sin may be clasped so close we cannot see its face
     W. Somerville:
Vile intercourse where virtue has not place.
     J. Thomson:
Then keep each passion down, however dear,
     Byron:
Thou pendulum, betwixt a smile and tear.
     T. Smollett:
Her sensual snares let faithless pleasures lay,
     G. Crabbe:
With craft and skill—to ruin and betray.
     P. Massinger:
Soar not too high to fall, but stoop to rise,
     A. Cowley:
We masters grow of all we despise.
     J. Beattie:
O then remove that impious self-esteem,
     W. Cowper:
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream.
     W. Davenant:
Think not ambition wise because 'tis brave,
     T. Gray:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
     N.P. Willis:
What is ambition? 'tis a glorious cheat,
     J. Addison:
Only destructive to the brave and great.
     J. Dryden:
What's all the gaudy glitter of a crown?
     F. Quarles:
The way to bliss lies not on beds of down.
     R. Watkyns:
How long we live, not years but actions tell,
     R. Herrick:
That man lives twice who lives the first life well.
     W. Mason:
Make them while yet ye may your God your friend,
     A. Hill:
Whom Christians worship, yet not comprehend.
     R.H. Dana:
The trust that's given guard and to yourself be just,
     W. Shakespeare:
For, live we how we can, yet die we must.



Now that's what I call the ultimate mash-up quotation!  «tεᖇᖇ¡·g»

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A happy girl indeed

Gosh, does my family know me or what? Gift I received...

How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life by Michael Denomme, 2015, and Victorian-style pen
How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life
by Michael Denomme, and Victorian-style pen

Back cover of How to Quote Shakespeare in Everyday Life by Michael Denomme, 2015
Back cover of How to Quote Shakespeare
in Everyday Life
by Michael Denomme, 2015

Gushing with Enthusiasm [p.168]
“O, rejoice
Beyond a common joy, and set it down
With gold on lasting pillars.”
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest (V.i.206-208)