Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hyperboles I Heard as a Child, Before I Knew They Were Hyperboles

“Lord, Estelle, you’ve cooked enough to feed Pharaoh’s Army,” my mom said when we visited her for Sunday dinner.

“If you boys don’t quit drinking so much before bedtime, you’re going to flood the Creation,” said Della almost every time I spent the night at her house.

“My nose is about to itch off,” my mom often said during meals.

“If I eat any more, I’ll be as big as the side of the house,” said Aunt Ada, as she refused dessert.

The mockingbird that has claimed my place as part of his territory has had consort with a parakeet.  I am amused at how the mockingbird incorporates the sounds of the parakeet in its fifteen-to-twenty-minute recital.  Sometimes it’s at the beginning, sometimes at the middle, and often at the end.

Late one afternoon, after I had finished yard work and was relaxing on the patio with a glass of Perrier,  the mocking bird perched at the top of the apple tree to sing.  I became involved in the music.  I was startled by the silence when it left.  I felt like the speaker of Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale.”  “Fled is that music: –Do I wake or sleep?”

Notes on Reading.  Nonfiction.  Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind.  Pitchstone, 2015.

This is a sociological study of men and women of religious vocations who have become atheists or agnostics and how their private and professional lives have changed.  The book consists of interviews, comments, and summaries by the authors.  Although I generally do not like to read such studies, I enjoyed how some participants felt blessings and freedom when facing their disbeliefs and acting on them.  Dennett, a proud atheist, present challenges for those involved in organized religions and for religions as institutions.

Notes on Reading.  Fiction.  Kent Haruff, Plainsong.  Knopf, 1999.

Set in a small town and the surrounding rural areas of the high plains of eastern Colorado, this novel centers on several characters: a high school teacher, his severely depressed wife and two sons (aged 9 and 10), a pregnant, unwed teenaged girl, and two elderly bachelor brother ranchers.  There are minor roles of a lonely, grieving woman, an out-of-control teenaged boy, a loving and giving woman teacher.  The book gives insight into characters and their situations, especially in the growing awareness of the young boys.  There is quiet humor in the situation of the two bachelor ranchers when the pregnant teenager comes to live with them.  The title is reflected in the writing style: simple, unadorned.  There is no use of quotations marks with the dialogue.  I read in the book in 1999, and I enjoyed and admired it even more on this re-reading.

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About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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3 Responses to Wednesday, April 19, 2017

  1. John York says:

    Thanks for the blog, Bill.

  2. I enjoyed your notes on the mockingbird song. there is one songbird that sings every sunset near the gym I go to. It’s music is simply beautiful, though it doesn’t repeat others’ sounds – it’s an originalist. 🙂

  3. Janice Kittner says:

    I marvel at the richness of your contemplative life, Professor Oliver! Amusing stuff! You will live to a ripe old age in your reverie! I love the nightingale saga! I have one about the mourning doves on my deck. Your mom’s expressions are familiar alongside my aunts’ commentary. I’m smiling! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I find them ‘centering’! Happy Day!! j >

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