Where words come from

words1I never know where some of the words I use come from.

For instance, At work this morning I got in a heated conversation about a work process that bothers the hell out of me and before I knew it…..out came  “if there is one thing that gets my balls in an uproar it is” blah blah blah…

The correct form of this idiom is, “Don’t get your balls in and uproar” which people use when trying to calm someone down a bit… It means don’t get so excited, be calm or cool it….   The visual always makes me laugh …. Which I think helps to cool tense situations…I don’t know where I heard the idiom … but I use it unconsciously, surprising myself sometimes, which I think promotes me to laugh.

words-at-workSoon after my rant a woman co-worker from a few offices over called me on the phone to say she’d heard what I just said …. I paused for a second …….and before I could apologize she belted out a big laugh and said: Gets my balls in an uproar that’s a “Classic” I loved what you said, you have a real talent for words!…I’m still laughing and I’ll be using that one as soon as I get a chance…

I thought to myself…bullet dodged…  Ok sorry about that, I said…  I think the coffee has me a little uptight this morning…   She replied.. “Well don’t get your balls in an uproar over it”… See its perfectly to the point..  I love it!  Talk to ya later…  I smiled to myself and replied …have a great one… and then I thought to myself I’m so glad she didn’t get her knickers is a twist over that one…..but knew enough to let well enough alone

malaphorI admit that maybe using slang idioms in the workplace is not the best idea…but I don’t believe we think about them before they slip…God only knows where they come from… but to be sure they are all point in the direction of our lower abdominal region……Don’t get your (panties, knickers, undies) in a (twist, bunch, knot), Pull up your big (boy, girl) pants….and sometimes idioms get combined unintentionally ways with another figure of speech producing an nonsensical result, referred to as a malaphor.  My 96 year old mother Mary is the queen of the malaphor…  Here are a few of her beauties.. fit to print

“Don’t go knocking on a broken door”…. (I have no clue what the hell this means.. but if I had to guess I’d say it means if its broken, leave it the hell alone) …..

“If you are gonna play with fire, your gonna burn your bridges” (meaning: you got what you deserve)

“Donny, you are getting really bald now, maybe you should try some of that “Viagra” stuff to cover the bald spots”  (I assume she meant Rogaine for my head here …any other hairy region is just too disturbing to consider)

I love the colors and images that words paint… nicknames, idioms and colloquial phrases make me laugh … they never get my balls in an uproar…


Lance Armstrong is back.

Lance bikeLance Armstrong is back on his bike …and I couldn’t be happier.   I have been waiting for more than 3 years for him to get back on his trusty steed … (Mano to Bike).

Biking can be a metaphor for life when you think about it. Those of you that love to ride bikes should remember what it was like when we were just learning to ride. Failure after failure before you stop crashing into your neighbor’s car…and then success!  You believed you could do it until you did it.  Mistakes and failures are human, and help mold us into who we become.

Life is like riding a bike…sometimes smooth, sometimes bumpy, sometimes embarrassing…(Example: On my coaches instruction. I was told I needed to pee on the bike during an Ironman event not to waste precious time off the bike…if you have ever tried it.. let me tell you it is not a simple thing to do…But five hours and three hydration bottles into the bike leg, I had to go and decided I’d try on the next downhill to open a gap between myself and the rider behind me….On my downhill decent I let go… the flow and the speed from the decent created a giant Rooster Tail off the back, like what you see when you ride through a puddle… the embarrassing part here was the rider behind me made the mistake of using the downhill to close the gap between us…Let’s just say I was relieved when he pass me….)

Like us all, Lance makes mistakes…we are human…It is what we do…some like me make more than my fair share… but it’s the comeback from our failures that is the true measure of a life well lived, not the failures. His ride got off course…but now he is back on course and riding for the love of it versus for a stage win.
Everyone loves a great comeback story and I believe his is unfolding….

Lance Armstrong Speaks At The LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride

If you haven’t caught his podcast series both are fantastic… The Forward Podcast is a forward2great listen into Lance’s conversations with some interesting guests but is not about the bike…and his Stages Podcast is a day by day commentary on this yeastagesr’s Tour de France. Lance is candid, knowledgeable, human …as he fumbles through … with his sidekick “JD” Joe Rogan…a bike riding regular guy and DJ.


What is important here is Lance is back and he is moving Forward in his life. I believe he deserves a chance…. Those of you that know how imperfect we can be at times know the guy is paying his dues…. As far as I’m concerned me and Lance are good to go.. Forward…

If you still can’t find a way to be happy for Lance… Think back over your own life…

Someone once said: There is no success without failure, and a person who makes no mistakes is unlikely to make anything at all.

I think failure like biking is not about the falling down part. It is the staying down when you fall or the not getting back on part that is the real failure.

Mistakes are painful when they happen, but in retrospect never really as bad as they seem.  If you believe you can learn from your mistakes…then listen and learn from Lance because he has learn some valuable lessons and is willing to share with us..
I for one can use all the help I can get.

Well its time for a ride… 1st hit the head  …. so as not to leave a rooster tail behind….

Super Hero’s on the Half Shell

Before Spiderman, Superman, The Hulk and Cat woman became popular Catholic’s had to rely on the saints as our super hero’s. In my family Saint Anthony was our chosen holy super hero. His super power was to help find anything lost. It’s a tradition to conjure up his superpower by chanting  “St. Anthony, Saint Anthony please come around… something is lost and must be found”

I know it doesn’t sound as sexy as saying “Up, Up and Away” and leaping tall buildings in a single bound like Superman, but dam …It was a great way to invite someone with experience finding things to help you out in a pinch.   Like the milk money your mother repeated.. Do Not Lose This!…six times before you lost it on the way to the store.

Tony get’s Cement Shoes: In fact St. Anthony was such a big figure in our family my mother had me cement a statue of his likeness in our front yard to show the world that we were part of his holy gang and therefore under his protection…. Kind of like a God squad auxiliary unit …

Until ironically he went missing (was stolen) from our front yard… I can tell you though that praying to St. Anthony to help to find him doesn’t work.  Like all super hero’s he does have an Achilles heal.    Kind of shakes your faith in the saintly power there doesn’t it?

saint anthonyIt helps to understand that I grew up in a town with a dozen colleges in a 5 mile radius…and college pranks are common in our neighborhood. So the thought that Saint Anthony may be subject to prank was why I anchored his statue in a hole with a full bag of post cement when I planted him in our yard.

My mother was beside herself when she realized that someone had taken her patron saint…who would do such a thing?? What has this world come to??? she repeated over and over again.

My little brother decided to use my mother’s confused state to have a little fun… He called the house and my mother answered the phone…

Hello? ….

(in a gangsta voice) Ya Lady..   Listen up..

If you ever want to see Saint Anthony again …

Put $20 and two tuna fish sandwiches in a brown paper bag and leave it on the park bench across the street…  By noon today.. or else….click!

Little did he know that her instant reaction was to call was to the Cambridge Police Department Detective bureau … She is well connected there as most of the cops were members of the local VFW where she was president of the woman’s auxiliary.

Detective:  Mary, Mary…Calm down for a sec….sounds like one of your nit wit sons is playing a trick on you…  Since he asked for food it sounds like that little fat bastard Kevin… check with him and let me know.

I’m glad I was not home that day…because I understand that even the super powers of St. Anthony could have helped little brother find a safe haven from Mad Mary’s revenge.

And speaking of Mary… another popular Saint in my neighborhood was the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her super powers seemed to cross all lines as people prayed to her for just about everything.  She was a mother and like all mom’s she had the power to do anything and everything.. all you had to do was ask… and not make her mad of course.  Kind of like an all purpose Super Hero saint.

That’s why I believe she was the odds on favorite as far as statues in the front yard goes…  Her statues are loving referred to as “Mary on the Half Shell” or “The Bathtub Madonna” …

No matter who your super hero’s were or what there super powers are…I think having Saints on the half shell has taught me a few lessons..

  • Never going to find a guy named Tony who is wearing cement shoes, saint or no saint.
  • Never mess with a Mother … especially when she is in the bathtub.
  • Never request Tuna Sandwiches as part of a ransom demand
  • In order to be a Super Hero today, you need to come out of your half shell…

Up, Up and Away….






Something smells fishy

LegalGrowing up Catholic in Boston is was a given that on Friday’s we ate fish. To me the best place for fish on Friday’s was always Legal Seafood in Cambridge. Not the new swanky joint in Kendall Sq. I mean the old hole in the wall that was in Inman Sq. In 1968 the Berkowitz family took over a vacant space next door to their family market and made it a fish restaurant. Rumor has it that when the Pope said it was OK to eat meat on Friday’s the family was desperate for new business and had to expand or bust. The dining was no-frills, saw dust on the floors maintained that market feel. We had to pay for our meal before we got it and meals were served at white washed picnic tables, with white paper plates and plastic cutlery instead of silverware. But no one complained; the fish was superb, customers clustered together chatting, strangers and neighbors alike. That was part of the magic…The Fish and Clam chowder (Chowda) was and still is to die for ……..and everything else on the menu was fried (back before fried was bad) and we loved it with heaps of Ketchup and Tartar (ta da) sauce.  You can always tell a great fish restaurant if the place never smells of fish. Julia Child lived down the street and raved about Legal giving it class with what we called the high mucky muck crowd….

In the 1980’s Legal’s business was booming and the growing company was two weeks away from opening a big new restaurant at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston. The Cambridge location I am told was stocked to the hilt with booze for the grand opening (Hmm tons of alcohol and saw dust). During morning of January 16th, fire broke out at the fish market/restaurant/oyster bar in Inman Square and it moved fast and burned hot. By the time the fire was extinguished, the building was a total loss.

Comedian Lenny Clark also from the neighborhood sometimes mentions that fire in his comedy act.  It is important to mention that the Cambridge Fire Department was literally across the street from the Inman Sq. Legal Seafood. Lenny talks about the many strange things that happen in Cambridge and when referring to the legal fire he points out….

“Ya know if each of the fringing fireman on duty that morning, stood in the firehouse windows and whizzed in the direction of the restaurant,  we’d still be enjoying Chowda at Legal’s in Inman Square today”.  “God know those guys drink enough”.

I miss the old place and I miss the crowd…but I have to say…. the fire that burned Legal to the ground is the only thing that ever made it to smell little fishy to me.

Pony Tail and the Parking Lot Prisoner.

countrySometimes in life it’s just more fun to go with the flow. When we are “in the flow” we see more of the humor in things. This past Sunday was one of those perfect spring days, warm and sunny… The kind of day when you just want to enjoy basking in the warm sunshine… and smile

Mary FergusonOn days like this I load my 95 year old mom into her wheel chair and we roll ourselves out of the Nursing home and into their parking lot to catch some rays.

I think from growing up in a cold water flat, during the depression she has always craved the heat.  The hotter the better she always says…

She’s happy to be outside and tells every passerby that she’s an escaped prisoner from the Home, enjoying her last bit of freedom before the warden returns her to jail.  My mother thinks she is pretty funny.  So I call her the prisoner to play along until something happens which shows the importance of vulnerability or more specifically for being open to connecting with people.

While I stand guard with “the Prisoner”  in the Loading Zone outside the entrance way to the Country Health and Rehabilitation Center,  up the driveway walks a young guy holding an infant. The baby is a beautiful baby girl with flaming red hair and her father is a tall, pony tail, 60’s hippie type.

The Prisoner calls out “hey your baby is beauuuutifuul, what’s her name”?

He smiles, heads into the loading zone and responds with a smile… “Mary”.

My mom responds with a smile………..Hey, that’s my name too!

I’m thinking these two are going to break into a chorus of john jacob jingleheimer Schmidt..  When he says… She was named after the Blessed Virgin Mary…

Again she comes back with…… me too! …. She then tells him the story of how her mother prayed to the Blessed Virgin to have a girl and promised if she blessed her with a girl she would name her Mary and dress her in blue dresses (Virgin Mary’s signature color) until she is 7 years old. Which she did…

He responded back with a litany of superlatives about the Virgin Mary, she is the most generous, most virtuous, the best example of godliness, strength, and maternal instinct.

My mom waves her hand to interrupt him and says “the similarities stop there for me”….. Just when I was thinking the conversation is going to start his walk to 1st base… he sends the ball straight to LEFT FIELD…

Pony Tail: Are you Catholic??

Prisioner: Yes…

Pony Tail: Would you like to receive communion?

Prisioner: Sure…..

Pony Tail: (passing the baby) Please hold Mary….

Pony Tail: Let’s pray…Our Father who art in heaven….

The Pony Tailed Preacher and the Prisoner finish a chorus of Our Father and roll in a prayer to the Blessed Virgin. When the prayers complete he offers her a communal wafer from a gold pocket case…which I’m thinking is like a Holy Pez dispenser.

The preacher then turns and offers me communion. Now I know all the rules, associated sins, and protocols from serving nine years of parochial school with receiving communion when you are not in a state of grace.  But…it’s a sunny day and hell…. I’m in the loading zone of a nursing home parking lot guarding my 95 year old mother…I figure that should count as enough grace credit …so I say…… sure!

I hand the red haired baby back to the pony tailed preacher and they both move off into the nursing home… I assume to administer communion to the other prisoners…

We sit together for a moment in silence taking in what the hell just happened…A few minutes later,  my mother leans over to ask. Do you think that was legit?

I say sure…if you can’t get to the church then the church has to come to you…

I don’t know ….she says…not sure if that was legit…

Curious….. I ask… Well then why did you go along with it?

The prisoner smiled and said…Sitting in the loading zone at my age …I’m not taking any chances.

Me: I know what you mean…me neither.