And the Sign Said

What George?
What word? Hearing is not quite what it once was as you know.

Quit? Is that it? What kind of an attitude is that George? You know I will not give up … Not as long as … Well never mind … 

You too George? And I considered you such a perfectly loyal magpie … Are magpies known for loyalty George? So why are you not going to share … Tell me what you saw back there?

You are very quiet George. Cat get your tongue?

So are you going to share or do I have to beat it out of you! What did the sign say?

Talk don’t fight? That’s it? Nothing more profound than that?

Oh! I see … Errrrr rather I understand … Well sort of …
You think we need better commmunication  do you George? And how do you propose we tackle that one?

OK … Well you can’t say I have not tried.

Well George … Again this morning I was booted out of a site … Accused of vile deeds … I am innocent George …

Doesn’t matter where … False accusations  … I did no wrong … Doing my Elder Duty is what I was trying to do George … Trying to post this notice that might help people in NYC

Click to access communication_board.pdf

You know George … This communication idea might be bigger than you think.

Yes of course I realize that you are a thinking entity. I’ve been told I have the same flaw. 

Yes George. Let’s talk.

Snow White Clean

Yes George … You told me … But I was only trying …
But … But … But … Yes George … I’ll try harder … You did warn me …

Ok what about music … I was thinking about  turning some of my poems into songs … Oh too much politics you say?
Nature … Oh … Birds and bees fall under that sex category? … I see.

What can I talk about? 
No sex … No religion … No politics … 
Not much left is there George?
I do have this very old book … Dusty … Torn … Musty 
A gift from my dearly departed long-gone favourite person … My Grandma

The date:1923 

Surely George … Nothing written in 1923 could possible be unrepeatable today … Could it? Hmmm … Here on page 4 is a blurb for a Proctor and Gamble product … Ivory Soap … Imagine George
Here goes:

“Can good soap ruin a delicate silk blouse or a chiffon negligee”

Hmmmmm … What do you think George? On I go

“or even a woolen sweater – in one washing?
Yes, of course it can! Good soap may not be good enough!

How, then,  can you tell — before you run the risk — whether or not any particular soap is good enough — whether it will ruin your really precious garments?  Of course, a white soap is needed.”

That’s not offensive is it George?
“Here is a simple test that will prove soap safe or unsafe as easily as you tell night from day:

Would you be willing to use that soap. On your face?”

Like it George? You don’t suppose it would offend anybody? But boring is good too.  Boring is hardly likely to offend many people — for one thing if it is boring enough or tedious enough or long- winded enough — well George who would bother reading it?

Ah now I get it — brilliant George … The acceptable blog must be so boring that nobody will read it so nobody will know what it is about. That way everybody will say they love it … Or hate it … Depending upon the writer … because they will be too embarrassed to admit that they didn’t even read it. Ok … more George?

“Think of Ivory Flakes in this way.
At once you are sure, for Ivory Flakes is just Ivory Soap in flake form — the very same Ivory Soap that millions of women during two generations have found mild and gentle for the skin.
What a relief it always is when a woman first realizes that with Ivory Flakes she need no longer fear for the safety of her most precious garments!

A teaspoon or so of these delicate, petal-thin flakes; instant suds; a few moments of dipping and squeezing — and the gentle cleansing soap has done its work — safely, yet thoroughly.”

Isn’t that lovely George?  So inpirational … True art!

“Ivory Flakes is economical enough even for the family washing, but it has that unique margin of safety which distinguishes its use for the washbowl laundering of exceedingly precious garments.

May we send you a small package of Ivory Flakes with our compliments and a useful booklet of washing and ironing suggestions?  You will find the proper address in the upper right-hand corner.”

Sure enough George — there it is — the adress: Section 15 AF, Dept of Home Economics, The Proctor and Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio.

What do you say George … Suppose the free sample is still availabe?
…  Nearly 90 years later … There is no expiry date that I see … There is a copyright notice … I imagine it would have expired by now however.  Where did I hear that copyright expires after 50 years?

November 14, 2012 Wednesday

Macassar, Me and Emily Dickenson

Macassar, Me and Emily Dickinson.

What is it? Well you might ask George. I’d never heard of it before today either. Apparently, 
“Macassar oil was an unguent for the hair commonly used in the early 19th century. The poet Byron called it “thine incomparable oil, Macassar.” The fashion for oiled hair became so widespread in the Victorian and the Edwardian period that housewives began to cover the arms and backs of their chairs with washable cloths to preserve the fabric coverings from being soiled. Around 1850, these started to be known as antimacassars. They were also installed in theatres, from 1865.” (Source

An antimacassar (/ˌæntɪməˈkæsər/) is a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric. Also refers to the cloth flap on a sailor’s blouse, used to keep macassar oil off the uniform.
… ”
You know George this reminds me … And yes George this possibly is another of those peculiar connections that only I would make …

In any case, it reminds me of my personal experience as a member of Toastmasters International … Once long ago but not so far away … Before I was quite insulted by the president at the time … A man, yes .. some man George … Yes … Another story …
The man who insulted me also happened to be the district … Hmmm well I forget the exact term he used George but I recall him being quite puffed up with pride over being the district someone-or-other.

The point? The point of my story? Well yes George I am slowly making my way there. And really my connection is not all that far off. Macassars were made to keep men’s greasy hair oil off the furniture.  As to how it relates to me … Well it really has to do with my love of poetry and my very special feeling of connection with Emily Dickinson.

No George I am not subtly suggesting that all those men who rejected Dickinson’s poetry were greasers … Well maybe one or two were a bit greasy in their attitude but I very much doubt that the term “greaser” had yet become was it was to be in the 1950s or maybe even the 1960s. Remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton.  What year was that George? Hmmm I don’t remember either.

No George I am not off on a tangent … Not at all … Merely setting the table for the main dish so to speak.

So here we have these hairgrease prevention cloths called Antimacassars .
Yes George … Please be patient … As I was about to say … Somebody had to make them … The women did make them for their homes … My grandmother did George … Called them doilies … Much nicer … More feminine word … Don’t you think George?

What does all of this have to do with Emily Dickinson?

Look here George …
Have you ever heard of an American literary critic and poet named Richard Palmer Blackmur (January 21, 1904 – February 2, 1965)?
Well don’t fret George, I probably would not have heard of him either were it not for my love of poetry in general and Dickinson in particular.

” Blackmur in an attempt to focus and clarify the major claims for and against the poet’s greatness, wrote in a landmark 1937 critical essay: “… she was a private poet who wrote as indefatigably as some women cook or knit. Her gift for words and the cultural predicament of her time drove her to poetry instead of antimacassars ” ”

So what do you think about her choices George … Write poetry or make doilies … 

And how does this relate to toastmasters? And where exactly do I fit into any of this George?

Well I was a painfully shy young woman who loved to write poetry and paint and draw.  I joined Toastmasters hoping it would help me overcome my shyness and help me build the confidence and connections I needed to develop a career. 

I was also a married stay-at-home  wife-and-mother work-at-home-graphic-artist … The original attempt at being Super-Mom.
 Which brings me closer to the point … Being insulted by the Toastmaster district someone-or- other. 

No George I have absolutely nothing against Toastmasters. I would never have joined had I thought otherwise. Whether I personally received value for my money … Well … Something I’d need to really think about George … My dearly departed father used to tell me to say nothing if I had nothing good to say … Yes I must admit that my poor father despaired of ever having an obedient daughter.

Ok ok …. Here it is … What the Toasmaster said … Well … during coffee break we were having a friendly chat … He asked me about myself and when I told him I was a painter and draughtsman … As in being a graphic artist … Well George here it is … What he answered was, 
“That is nice, something to do in your spare time, when you are not busy looking after your family.”

That was possibly the point when I realized that if ever I was to have a career it would certainly not be thanks to  people like Mr. District someone-or-other and I might as well not have spent the hundred plus dollars I had scrimped together to join Toastmasters International.

Do you suppose … Would my life have taken a different turn if the group I joined had been named Toastmistresses International?





This is … Well … This is me … Sort of virtual me if you like … Sitting here in my virtual desert … Communing with my virtual friend … Oh that’s George … A regular Magpie.
So imagine me … Well why would I not want to talk about me?  Isn’t that what a blog is for?  Isn’t that what every sane soul … And others too … As I was saying … I do believe that I am entitled to talk about me.  That is all I really know about after all.
So … Imagine me sitting there in that desert pondering and musing and engaging in all those other belly-buttonish sort of activities that were so dearly paid for back in the sixties.
Well as I was telling George the other day … “George” I said to my dear friend, “Where were you back when I really needed you, when I was was young and the whole world was open to me? Where were you?”
Of course George never did give me an answer. He likes to think of himself as … Well back in the old days … Hmmm maybe even today … He thinks of himself as above such petty little problems like survival. 
Imagines himself as one of those lilies of the field I guess.
George tells me that everything that has happened is because I made certain choices and allowed such happenings.  Well … Fine for that lily-livered George to say … That way he gets to avoid any sort of uncomfortable discussion about fairness and justice.  
So … I decided I would just let George have his way … I would stop complaining about all the broken things I was finding in this old broken world and I would only associate with positive people and perfect situations and I would show better appreciation for all the wonderful gifts I found all around me.
Guess what! That is how I found myself sitting in this desert. The only really real thing I could grasp out of life were handsfull … Hmmm or would that be handfulls … Doesn’t matter I guess what you call it …
So Now what I do is reach out and no matter which direction I look … I finally have found something that is real and honest and lasting … Well yes overall it does shift and change but I am used to that.
As I was saying all I need to do is reach out and pick up a handful of sand … Lovely warm golden sand sifting through my fingers. And they say nothing in this world is free.