Weeding and quite a number of other garden/lawn tasks are so essentially mindless that they offer “quality time” for pondering totally unrelated topics that may have “gotten under my skin”, “stuck in my craw(What IS a craw, anyway?)”, “graveled my gizzard”, “frayed my last nerve”…whatever idiomatic expression you might prefer. So I’ve been using the time, perhaps not wisely, but well enough. To wit :
Rant # 1 : SANK! The word is SANK! Past tense of the word “sink”. Why is this so hard? It’s like “drink, “drank, ” “drunk”…”sink”, “sank”, “sunk”. Makes me cringe when somebody—on the news, yet—says, right out in front of God and everybody, “The boat sunk in Lake Erie yesterday.” NO! The boat SANK in Lake Erie yesterday and your grade in grammar today is “F”! Same thing happens to other verbs, like “weave”—I weave today. Yesterday I wove. I have woven before. How hard is that?
It’s all part of the conspiracy to ignore and destroy the perfect tense, you know, the employment of what my teachers called “helping” verbs –has, have, had—to indicate an action completed and done with. It can get kind of esoteric, like when one uses the future perfect (I shall have gone by then), but it’s pretty basic English speech. Part of the problem, I think is that somehow, too many of us have latched on to the idea that when it comes to words, “More is better” so instead of saying, “If I had gone to church, I’d be a better person,” all sorts of speakers are now likely to say, “If I would have sat through more sermons, I’d be out of the slammer by now”. Same thought (more or less), more words. Not a better sentence, so to speak, but more words. “Would have” can, in most instances, be replaced by “had” with no loss of meaning and a much tidier—and shorter, doesn’t that count on Twitter?—sentence. Think of that next time you’re in church.
Same thing happens with other niceties of grammar rules. We’ve apparently decided that, like the mutts in the Big Dogs apparel ads, “We don’t need no stinkin’ leashes!” so words and phrases mean what we say they do, no matter what their construction would seem to indicate. Abuse of prepositions is epidemic, it seems to me, because they’re all about relationships—up, down, behind, beside, over under, around, above, in, off, with, without( You know, the usual suspects) and everyone has decided that they’re interchangeable. NOT! You can turn in to a drive-through but you are not likely to turn into a drive-through unless you’re wearing asphalt underpants. Other examples abound. “You and I”, for instance. Every one seems to think that whenever one is speaking of oneself and another person, the other person comes first (only polite, you know) and “I” is second. ‘Tain’t necessarily so( To reference those two great philosophers, George and Ira Gershwin). If the two of you are the object of a preposition, say “with” , as in “Do you want to go to the movie with Miss Manners and I?”, you are guilty of a grammatical faux pas and should not pass “GO” or collect your $200(Ticket prices are WAY up) because Miss Manners , in this case, has to take a back seat (or the balcony if there is one) and fade from the scene, as any proper speaker would not say, “Do you want to go to the movie with I?” Contrariwise, if the two of you are the SUBJECT of the sentence, “Miss Manners and I are going to the movie,” you’re good to go. Got it?
It’s amazing what a person can think of while dead-heading the floral displays in the back garden.
Rant# 2 : The phrase “good enough for government work” lives on for a reason. A recent small item in the R-C was about a submarine in Spain that was more than 70 tons( 140,000 lbs.) too heavy; officials fear that if they attempted to launch the vessel, it would not be able to surface (Hey, sailor, wanna get lucky?). Not a real recruiting ploy for the Spanish navy. Quoting here : A former Spanish official says that the problem can be traced to a miscalculation—someone apparently put a decimal point in the wrong place. Really! Sort of reminds one of the spacecraft a few years ago that shot off into space …and more space…and more space and never did get into orbit because somebody—no names were ever mentioned, so it must have been someone important—got confused between the so-called English measurement system( though the English do not use it any more…in fact, the only industrial country in the world that does use it is the U.S., costing us millions)and the metric system, which is much simpler and more orderly. Anyway, the space craft shot out into the void and the Spanish submarine people have hired the Electric Boat company from Connecticut to try and trim down the craft which currently weights in at 2,200 tons. Maybe sit-ups would help.
Rant # 3 : Why can I remember that my friend, Carolyn Preston, who graduated with me back in the Dark Ages played the flute in the band(Wellington Dukes), as I mentioned to her daughter who looked me up at the Medina Band Show last week, but I never did manage to remember why I marked my calendar for Monday with a fluorescent circle around the date and the time—11:00? Eleven o’clock came and went; nothing happened. No one called, saying “Where are you?” All parts of the house remained standing. The cats were pretty quiet. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? Well, I didn’t. Sorry.
AND…any body looking for a kitten? One has appeared on the front porch…again. At least this time its mamma appears to be taking care of it which is pretty remarkable, considering that her maternal instincts, on a scale of one-to-ten, are somewhere around a two-and-a-half. Heck, “maternal” isn’t my strong suit either, but I’ve raised more of her kittens than she has.
Bloodmobile Thursday at St. Ambrose.