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Hic incipt pestis
Posted On 05/23/2020 15:20:17

"Hic incipt pestis"...

 this translates to "here begins the plague" and was found among many writings of the 14th and 15th century and beyond. It refers of course to the Black Plague or the Bubonic Plague that killed millions across Europe in the middle ages. It's interesting to note that among the suffering and death that literary greats like Shakespeare created some of his finest works during this time, even though he lost 3 sisters and a son to the sickness.

Just as mystery and confusion surrounds the current pandemic of COVID-19 there were many false beliefs during the black plague. People falsely believed it was caused by cats and dogs and sadly many were killed.
In fact it was carried by the fleas on black rats.
Europeans could not imagine their lives would be turned upside down as ours have been now. Some of the purported cures or preventative measures included drinking vinegar, rubbing chopped up snakes or pigeons on the body or even drinking mercury or arsenic. These measures seem crazy and extreme to us in our modern era but imagine the terror they experienced and the willingness to try anything that might prevent a lingering and painful death.

I hear so many news people sounding accusatory and mystified that things are not
going more smoothly in America.   My question is how do you prepare for something
like a pandemic when most people alive today have never experienced it? Yes we have history to pull from but reading accounts from the foggy and distant past is NOT the same as first hand experience.  There have been many epidemics, even pandemics such as the Spanish influenza, SARS and Ebola but each disease
is different,   As late as 1918 Scientists didn't understand viruses caused diseases. There were no vaccines or antibiotics for infections. In this regard we are vastly more prepared today.   There is a point to be made that even with all the trial and error, and there will surely be errors, we are blessed to be living
in a time where the importance of good hygiene is acknowledged and medical
care is readily available.  I, for one, am grateful.

Tags: Pandemic Sickness Plague

Pandemic in America
Posted On 04/20/2020 18:09:33

The  COVID-19 pandemic has a grip on my country and it feels surreal. There was a police officer enforcing the face masks mandate at the entrance of the super center yesterday where I shop for groceries.

 As I shopped,  I stopped a moment to just watch people pass. Each of us with facemasks on and hurrying through what is usually a leisurely task. The faster done the faster we can get out of the petri dish of humanity.

 As I paused and watched the masked people I began to feel like I was living in a science fiction story. Perhaps dystopian fiction like The Hunger Games or Divergent. But no, this is my reality now...all of ours. America under quarantine is still America. Whatever it takes and however long it takes....we'll push through these dark days like we have so many others and come through stronger for it.  We can't say thank you enough to the health care workers on the front lines. They have put themselves at risk to take care of our loved ones, to be there with them when we can't.

 Cover us with your grace and mercy,  Almighty God.

Regrets...I've had a few
Posted On 08/10/2018 12:09:08

You can spend the rest of your life saying what if.
What if I had been there? What if I had tried harder?
When it's all said and done, what ifs don't change the way things are now.
The present is what we have to deal with.  During the nights, especially for me, the regrets creep in...
oh, and the IF ONLYS, If only I hadn't, if only I had...Its human nature I suppose, to feel guilt when there's a crisis or in my case, the loss of a loved one. It's human nature to feel somehow responsible. Like we could or would have changed things that would somehow alter the course of life. In reality this is not even feasible and we must know that, must accept it on a deeper level.  I repeat to myself each day:


  I won't lie, sometimes I must say it more than once a day to remind
myself not to linger in a place of regret, of sorrow, of ifs and maybes. If I can't be in the here and now then I'm robbing my family, my friends but most of all myself of the gift that each day is. Grief creeps back in, it always will, but I'll be ready because I am greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved by the King. The Saviour of the World. El shaddai.  Thank you Lord, for the amazing grace that is ALWAYS sufficient!

Tags: Grief And Loss

Thankful for America, today and every day
Posted On 07/04/2018 10:57:34

The following is an update to a blog I wrote a few years ago:

 They were a ragtag band of soldiers.
 Ordinary citizens with extraordinary dreams.
 Farmers, merchants, private citizens who left
 hearth and home to fight for liberty.
 They answered the call when it was needed the most.
 Freedom from tyranny was the loudest call and the
 only one they needed. The patriots we know; Thomas
 Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin &
 George Washington are all due a world of
 recognition and gratitude but the ones we'll
 never know deserve it just as much. They
 left their jobs, their farms and homes, but most of all
 left their families, many never to return again.
 They fought the good fight, froze, bled and starved.
 They faced privation we can only imagine.
 To them we owe a debt we can never repay.

No, America is not perfect. We have our problems and there
are those who will cry about unfairness and injustice. Tell
it to those soldiers who crossed The Delaware on a freezing Christmas
Eve. Tell it to the soldiers who wintered at Valley Forge in 1777.
Tell it to the soldiers who pulled boots off their dead comrades feet
so they could continue marching in the snow. Their sacrifices will
never be in vain. Thank you to all, past and present who have
served in our country's armed forces. The price of democracy, of freedom
itself was paid with your blood. The following lyrics state it much better
than I ever could:

Oh, beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

Oh, beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Lyrics: Katherine Lee Bates, 1859–1929
Music: Samuel A. Ward, 1848–1903

The Graveyard of Lost Words and Phrases
Posted On 05/08/2018 11:31:28
This was shared with me by a friend recently who knows I'm a lover of words.   Enjoy!


About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included "Don't touch that dial", "Carbon copy", "You sound like a broken record" and "Hung out to dry." A bevy of readers have asked me to shine light on more faded words and expressions, and I am happy to oblige:

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We'd put on our best bib and tucker and straighten up and fly right. Hubba-hubba! We'd cut a rug in some juke joint and then go necking and petting and smooching and spooning and billing and cooing and pitching woo in hot rods and jalopies in some passion pit or lovers lane. Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flint and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn't accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!


Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when's the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.


Like Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle and Kurt Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, we have become unstuck in time. We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, I'll be a monkey's uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish! we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, poof, poof go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone, evanesced from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, like Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes, little wax bottles of colored sugar water and an organ grinders monkey.

Where have all those phrases gone? Long time passing. Where have all those phrases gone? Long time ago: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Think about the starving Armenians. Bigger than a bread box. Banned in Boston. The very idea! It's your nickel. Don't forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Turn-of-the-century. Iron curtain. Domino theory. Fail safe. Civil defense. Fiddlesticks! You look like the wreck of the Hesperus. Cooties. Going like sixty. I'll see you in the funny papers. Don't take any wooden nickels. Heavens to Murgatroyd! And awa-a-ay we go!

Oh, my stars and garters!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter had liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff, this winking out of the words of our youth, these words that lodge in our heart's deep core. But just as one never steps into the same river twice, one cannot step into the same language twice. Even as one enters, words are swept downstream into the past, forever making a different river.

We, of a certain age, have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It's one of the greatest advantages of aging. We can have archaic and eat it, too.

 See ya later, alligator!

by Richard Lederer



Tags: Idioms

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