So Many Benefits From Such a Small Investment

This seems teachable-worthy, so here it is.

Sunflower Girls


I knew I would get my money’s worth, but little did I know I would get it in spades!

When my walking companion moved into her new apartment almost three weeks ago, I increased my time with a new partner. Though she cannot ever compete on the personal relationship level, my nano is offering me enormous benefits that I had not anticipated.

Originally, I was simply looking forward to listening to an hour of CBC every morning–an hour with no commercials and no outside commentary interfering with my concentration or enjoyment. And yes, that is welcome and totally worth the price I paid. But I also appreciate the fact that I can see my walking distance and the number of steps, and compare the details from day to day. It doesn’t really matter, but I’m addicted to the record-keeping. “Oh, today it was 8,304 steps and 6.59 km!”

OCD? Maybe.

What else? Well, I have…

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Daily Delight for the Five Senses

Who: I and my 82-year-old companion

What:  walk 5 km

When: 7 a.m.

Where: the perimeter of our community

Why: for mental and physical well-being

How: briskly with lots of communication

Bonus: All of our senses are stimulated.

Yes, it’s true. Not only do we feel and smell the newborn morning air, and see the changes in Mother Nature’s palette, but we also read each other and communicate with a glance.

This kind of bond is founded on mutual respect, and it works beautifully because we never judge or try to control each other with corrections or criticism or evaluation of the reality of the other. We don’t fill our 45 minutes with telling each other what to do or think or feel, nor how to dress or act or speak. We simply welcome and share personal experiences, perceptions, opinions and feelings . We simply listen and hear and touch each other with our stories of what is important–to us.

Our personal voices have a voice. And two ears.


Old Teachers Never … Stop Teaching

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I’m curious about what inspires my need to teach.

Truly there is a force that compels me to take the information I process and share it with those I love. And it is not simply caring and sharing, but rather explaining, and rewording, and listening, and answering questions.

Truth be told, it also involves studying. Yes, “teaching is learning” and “re-teaching is re-learning.”

What I’m teaching these days is what I’ve learned–and unlearned–over the last five or more years about health and diets and drugs; I find it truly as fascinating as I did when I first learned it. Indeed, the rewording of what I understand is still rewarding–mostly because my 82-year-old student is as attentive and curious and as keen to learn as I am to teach.

The bonus is that our classroom is our daily five kilometre route at 8:00 in the morning.

Who could ask for more?

For the curious out there, this blog post from four years ago has the basics of what I have been sharing recently: FYI, although I have relaxed a bit and do eat more carbs now, I still believe there is truth in all of it.

Constant Consistencies


My, my, my, how time flies!

Looking back on the two-and-a-half-plus years since December 2012–when I was finishing an eight-week teaching fill-in–I can’t help but notice that, although I am now retired, I still rarely and barely have enough time to do everything I want to do, or need to do, or feel compelled to do in my ever-shrinking 24-hour day.

Apparently–since I am in charge–I prefer it that way.

Yes, my life is different and the activities that keep me busy are very different. But the criteria that guide my choices have not changed at all. Indeed, I’m happy to see that, although it took me far too many years to recognize my simple truths, they are still working very well for me: I am still learning; I’m still being honest and kind to myself and others; I still never let anyone do my thinking for me.

And following these principles is what makes my busyness work.

Hmmm. I wonder how many of my students remember my words of wisdom and try to apply them to their lives.

Parting Words of Wisdom

After completing an eight-week fill-in teaching contract at the school where I had spent 22 years,  it was easy for me to imagine that I was leaving, not in December, but instead, at the end of the school year in June. In fact, since I would more than likely never see these charming young ladies (and one gentleman) again, that’s exactly what it seemed like to me–the end of the year. And with that sense of termination, I had a strong feeling that I had to wrap things up. One doesn’t spend two months with 160 students without feeling affection for them. And concern. And responsibility. And she cannot just walk away without saying,”Good bye, and all the best for a happy and successful life.” 

So I passed on my best wishes and said my goodbyes.

Some classes got the full version, complete with the song, I Need a Break, by David Myles.

Listen to the fabulous lyrics and watch it here:

Some were also treated to a spectacular performance of my personal Rap with this important message:

Pay attention girls ’cause I’m telling you the truth.

You don’t need any makeup to get you through your youth.

True beauty that is real doesn’t come inside a jar.

It’s important that you realize, you’re great the way you are.

Forget about mascara, foundation, cream and blush.

They may make you look older, but what’s all the rush.

Enjoy your life at sixteen. Learn to love yourself.

Stop looking in the mirror. Leave the products on the shelf.

They cost a pile of money, help companies grow richer.

Just ignore all their slick talk and listen to your teacher.

In other groups I had less time and had to reduce the message to the bare essentials of these three main ideas:

  • No matter what you choose to do in life, make sure that you make learning a life-long quest.
  • No matter how difficult the task or the choice, don’t ever let others do your thinking for you.
  • To the very best of your ability, always be honest and kind to yourself and others.      

Good bye, dear students. I loved spending time with you. Thank you for the precious memories.


To Rise and To Raise

Now that you have conquered the lie/lay challenge, I’m sure you’re all ready for a new one. And that’s what I am about to give you here: the challenge of rise/raise.

Actually, in some ways, I think you’ll agree that this post can make the last one easier to understand. The reason I chose to do lie/lay first is that it is a much more commonly used error and, as such, it bugs me more than rise/raise.

In difficult grammatical terms, to raise is a transitive verb and, as such, takes an object. It means to lift or to put higher. You raise something,

In simple terms, that means that this verb will commonly be described and followed by nouns or pronouns — words like the book, my hand, the new flag, or  an issue.

Examples include:

Audrey is going to raise the new flag today.

She is raising the flag in the back yard right now.

Yesterday Audrey quickly raised the flag in the front yard.

She has raised flags all week.

In difficult grammatical terms, to rise is an intransitive verb and, as such, does not take an object.  It means to assume a position, generally a vertical one.  You simply rise or rise up.  Likewise, the smoke simply rises in the air. You simply rise up from your bed in the morning.

In simple terms, that means that you cannot follow this verb immediately in a sentence with a noun or pronoun — words like those above that describe what or who (whom.)

That is because, with to rise, what follows the verb applies to the subject of the sentence.  As such, it can only be followed by words that describe wherewhenwhy and how the object behaves.

Examples include:

Audrey rises from her chair when she finishes dinner.

In fact, she was rising when I came into the room.

Yesterday the sun rose two minutes later than today.

It has risen later every day this week.

Please feel free to fill in the missing verbs in the sentences below.  I will be happy to correct them for you.

Or ask me to clarify my explanations. Perhaps I have missed something.

1.     Earlier this morning the fog __________ slowly and then disappeared with the heat of the sun.

2.     The young girl _________ her hand very quickly in class this morning.

3.     At this moment at the council meeting, the councillor _______________ the possibility of a tax increase.

4.     He ______________ the same issue at every council meeting this year.

5.     He said, ” I would like you to ___________ your hand for your vote in favour of my suggestions.”

6.     The sun has just  __________ in the sky.

7.     It was just starting to_______________ when I woke up.

Good luck.  Now it’s time for you to show off how well you understand this set of verbs.

To Lie and To Lay

Well, folks, this is a toughy for most people, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you awhile to understand it.  But do not give up!  With practice you will get it right.

In difficult grammatical terms, to lay is a transitive verb and, as such, takes an object. It means to place or to set. You lay something, (or crudely someone.)

In simple terms, that means that this verb will commonly be described and followed by nouns or pronouns — words like the book, my head, the new carpet, or  crudely, his girlfriend or her.

Examples include:

Audrey is going to lay the new carpet today.

She is laying the carpet in the living room right now.

Yesterday Audrey quickly laid the carpet in the den.

She has laid carpet all week.

In difficult grammatical terms, to lie is an intransitive verb and, as such, does not take an object.  It means to assume a position, generally a horizontal one.  You simply lie or lie down.  Likewise, the carpet simply lies on the floor. Your head simply lies on the pillow all night.

In simple terms, that means that you cannot follow it immediately in a sentence with a noun or pronoun — words like those above that describe what or who (whom.)

That is because, with to lie, what follows the verb applies to the subject of the sentence.  As such, it can only be followed by words that describe where, when, why and how the object behaves.

Examples include:

Audrey is going to lie down on her bed when she finishes dinner.

She was lying down for a long time before dinner too.

Yesterday Audrey lay down all afternoon.

She has lain down exhausted for several hours every day this week.

Please feel free to fill in the missing verbs in the sentences below.  I will be happy to correct them for you.

Or ask me to clarify my explanations. Perhaps I have missed something.

1.     The snow __________ softly under the trees last night.

2.     The young girl _________ her dolly in her bed last night.

3.     He _______________ the document in front of me right now.

4.     The master told his dog to _____________ down.

5.     He said, “____________ down.”

6.     The dog __________ in the same position for several hours.

7.     Before then he _______________ outside on the porch for a long time.

Good luck, and maybe you would like to send best wishes to Audrey for all her hard work with the carpeting.

Me, Myself and I

Oh, how we do get confused!

Educated speakers sometimes go overboard in their attempts to speak well: for a strange reason they make the most basic errors with “I” and “me.”

They know that “me” is the object pronoun, the form to be used for the object of a verb or preposition.  They also know that “I” is the subject pronoun to be used as the subject of a verb.  Knowing this, not one of them would ever say, “Mom called I for dinner.”  Nor  would they say, “Me called Mom for dinner.”

Why then do some very well-educated native speakers say, “Mom called my brother and I for dinner.”

What gives?

Perhaps it comes from an attempt to be overly correct and proper.  Maybe even a little self-righteous.

Myself, I am confused by it all.

There is; there are; there was; there were.

Yes, we hear these words often.  In grocery stores, on buses, and on radio and television.  We hear them everywhere. We also read them in newspaper columns, magazines, blogs, or in advertising fliers.

They are very useful introductions to what we want to point out in our stories or in our observations of the world around us. And we understand them perfectly and are able to use them ourselves. And that is a good thing.

But, do we use them correctly? Well, that is a good question, and the problem is that many of us don’t.

Does the incorrect use interfere with comprehension?  No, not usually.  Does it annoy the listener or reader? Maybe. Maybe not. In fact this error is so common that I wonder if one day there will be no distinction between the correct and the incorrect form.  Maybe one day we will all be saying, “There’s many people who speak that way.” Maybe one day not one of us will feel the slightest twinge and want to correct the speaker.

Perhaps.  But I will not give in without a fight because I find it grating to my ear.  And it is so very easy to use the correct form.

Let’s see if I can help you.

The verb “to be” has a singular and a plural form in both the present and the past tense.  When we use “There” plus a form of the verb “to be” we simply have to think ahead to what follows.  Is it a singular noun or a plural noun? If it is singular, we use “is” or “was.” If it is plural, we must use “are” or “were.” Simple, right?

A level of difficulty seems to arise when people use the contraction, “there’s” to replace “there is.” For some reason, they then feel that “there’s” functions for both a singular and a plural noun.  Not so. The “s” is used for the third person verb form, not for plural nouns.

“There are simple rules.” There is (There’s)  no reason not to apply them in our speaking and writing.

“There is a simple rule.” There are no reasons not to apply it in our speaking and writing.

It’s So Simple in its Simplicity. Yes, it is.

It’s:  This contracted word is one of the most mis-used in the English language.  (Actually, I’m not sure of that, but it’s the one that I notice the most;  and it’s the error that bugs me the most.)

There is no reason for its ubiquity.  The rule is so simple.  Yes, it’s simple.  And perhaps after I give you my explanation, you will agree.

So here goes:

One of the roles of an apostrophe is to replace one or more missing letters in a contraction.  We might want to contract or reduce “it is” to the contraction “it’s” to make written or spoken speech more casual or informal.  In the word “it’s”  the  second “i” has been removed and replaced by an apostrophe.

In other words, what was “it is“ becomes ”it is minus the letter i.  “It is” then scrunched together using an apostrophe to create one word: “it’s.”

It’s the only correct use of “it’s.

In short, “it’s” always, always, always means “it is”  or “it has.” Yes always.

You see?  It’s a simple rule.  Yes it is.

The non-contracted word “its” is the one that most people mean when they incorrectly use ”it’s.”   The non-contracted word “its” means “what belongs to” something.  It indicates possession.

One easy way to remember this is to remember, “The cat chased its tail.”

If you write, “The cat chased it’s tail,” you are saying, “The cat chased it is tail.”  And that’s just nonsense.  Yes, it is.

People make this mistake because they are used to showing possession with an apostrophe.  We all say and write, “Jennifer‘s cat.” or “The cat‘s tail.”  Just remember not to write, “The cat chased “it’s“ tail.”

As you now know, that’s just nonsense.