Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So Many Shades of Gray *

So Many Shades of Gray
The kind of person that I find the hardest to feel comfortable around, is a person who sees life, and its myriad of conditions, in terms of black and white.  Most people  know-I hope that I am not being impertinent-seem to see life as I do, in various shades of gray. Oh, there are so many shades of gray.
Take words, for example, and doesn’t that surprise you?  As a language arts teacher, one concept that I taught in conjunction with writing, was that of seeing how words with the same meaning, have such different connotations.  I did specific language activities with the students, to teach them how to recognize the importance of zeroing in on the best word for any given situation. 
Thus, for them, I would begin by showing a picture of a dog, surely a candidate for the local ugly-dog show, and a “breed” not found in any of the books dealing with pedigree.  
“What is it?” I’d ask, and jot the words on the over-head projector, so that they were clearly legible in big letters behind me.  I waited until I had listed dog, perro (middle school humor), mutt, bowser, pet, Fido, mammal, quadruped, puppy, doggie, and all other offerings.
I zeroed in on the two I had wanted in the first place and drew a circle around “dog” and “mutt,” and asked, “What’s up with this?”  I didn’t ask them, “What is the difference?”  That would have been too easy.  I just asked them to look at the two words, and tell me what they were thinking.  Immediately, a hand shot up, and I waited.  I got another, and then a bunch.  I selected a hand, based on the anticipated response.
“They’re both the same,” said Billy, smugly.  I had expected as much.
“Thank you.  Sally?”  I checked in with an ambitious young gal, who was lucky to have that quality, because there were some other significant omissions in her portfolio.  “My mom would say dog, but Daddy would say mutt.”  That was the idea, now for Roger to articulate it.  
“Dog is what you think if you are happy with your pet, and mutt is what you mutter, when you have the soapy water and cleaning rag in your hands.”  Bingo.  Though we all know that what he really meant was, “What kind of mutt does a doodie in the house?”
Here’s an easy one.  What’s the difference between a father and a dad?  Well, a dad is always a father, but a father is not always a dad.  A father clothes and feeds his sons; a dad teaches them how to play baseball, or in my case, after I blew out the ACL on my left knee, the card game of bridge.  If you know anything about bridge, then you may want to know that Casey was seven, Ben six, and Lito four, when we played our first rounds of bridge.  It was challenging for four-year-old hands, which are not big enough to glom onto a handful of cards, not to mention the intricacies of the bidding auction.  But it’s what dads do.
So I choose my words carefully because, as the Bee Gees sang in 1967, “It’s only words, but words are all I have...” to portray shades of gray.  In life nothing is quite as well-defined as we might like, so we have to paint our own canvases.  We can enrich them and suffuse them with color and vibrancy.
But with words, I have to be more creative, because words don’t come in color, only shades of gray.  So as I prepare my canvas for my daily offering, I try to make sure that my brush is aligned with my mind, and the strokes portray my thoughts precisely, so that the reader can fill in his or her own color highlights from an individual perspective, as the words settle into place on the canvas that exists in each person’s mind.  
The words are black, the canvas is white, and the views I express are going to appear in various shades of gray; and there are so many shades of gray.

5 comments:

  1. Maybe this is why I paint better than I write. I are so many shades of gray but there are SO MANY other colors - and playing with colors? oh my, oh my . I get such a kick out of playing with words but colors? they make me leave the planet.

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  2. Oh, and I am really enjoying the photographs you have been putting up - pictures work so well for me. I want to be at the ocean with Benny right now, please.

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  3. I love your photos - - thank you for posting them!

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  4. Oh, I can spend all day in the shades of gray.

    And I'm with Judy, I love the photos and that heron at the top of the page today is gorgeous. They visit the creek near our house and hang out in the ponds and marshes at the edge of town. I see them practically daily, and still each sighting seems like a little gift to me.

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  5. I was raised with strict black and white rules, right and wrong, good and bad. But as soon as I moved out, I shook it off and what was left blended to gray. I love gray!

    I agree with MM, the heron at the top is so lovely, I've returned to it's picture several times to just enjoy. Thanks!

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