Today is Thursday, July 24, 2014

To err is human the prequel

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By ANNE DONNELLThe quote in the headline last week (“To err is human…”) is correctly attributed to Alexander Pope. (1688-1744. English poet and satirist. Major works are Essay on Man, Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock, Dunciad, and a translation of Homer.) The quote comes from Essay on Criticism, a compilation of Pope’s literary opinions. Ah ne'er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast,/Nor in the Critick let the Man be lost!/Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join;/To err is human, to forgive divine. Lines 322-325. BUT, let’s step back in time to Seneca the Younger [3 B.C.-65 A.D., Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist, considered leading literary figure of his day. Tutor to Nero, who eventually suffered from such a poor teacher-student relationship that he ordered Seneca to commit suicide. Seneca did.  Seneca’s brother Gallio is mentioned in the new Testament (Acts 18) in his capacity as proconsul of most of Greece. Their father, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, was called Seneca the Elder (ca 55 B.C. – 40 A.D., Spanish born Roman orator and writer of influential works on rhetoric).] So mention Seneca the Younger?  Because he wrote errare humanum est, which translates “to err is human” The full quote is errare humanum est perseverare diabolicum: “to err is human; to persist is of the Devil.” Somehow I knew that some Latin-speaking fiend out there would read the my about Alexander Pope, and then, gleefully on smudged and crumpled paper, send in a “corrective” word on Seneca. Notice that prequel in today’s title? I think that word, and its ilk, the progeny of the ill-informed (translate that to mean some Hollywood type with more dollars than sense) is so laughable that it needs more exposure. Baby, these are seriously gloomy times. Brooks and Dunn split. We need laughs, induced by silly words like prequel. Here’s an unfortunately surefire laugh source: prejudice. In this case disguised by hair color.ONLINE DEPARTMENT (Thanks, S.C.) “Blonde  Cookbook” • MONDAY It's fun to cook for Wes. Today I made angel food cake. The recipe said beat 12 eggs separately.  The neighbors were nice enough to loan me some extra bowls. • TUESDAY Wes wanted fruit salad for supper. The recipe said serve without dressing. So I didn't dress. What a surprise when Wes brought a friend home for supper. • WEDNESDAY A good day for rice. The recipe said wash thoroughly before steaming the rice. It seemed kind of silly, but I took a bath anyway. I can't say it improved the rice any. • THURSDAY Today Wes asked for salad again; I tried a new recipe. It said prepare ingredients; lay on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving.  Wes asked me why I was rolling around in the garden. • FRIDAY I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said put the ingredients in a bowl and beat it. There must have been something wrong with this recipe. When I got back, everything was the same as when I left.  • SATURDAY Wes did the shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to dress it for Sunday. I don't have any clothes that fit it, and for some reason Wes keeps counting to ten. • SUNDAY Wes’s folks came to dinner. I wanted to serve roast, but all I had was hamburger. Suddenly I had a flash of genius. I put the hamburger in the oven and set the controls for roast. It still came out hamburger, much to my disappointment. • GOOD NIGHT DEAR DIARY. This has been a very exciting week! I am eager for tomorrow to come so I can try out a new recipe on Wes. If I can talk Wes into buying a bigger oven, I would like to surprise him with a chocolate moose.                      TOTAL DISCONNECT COMING UP. I’ve mentioned my 70th birthday in May, but now I’d like to tell you what a splendid time it turned out to be. There really was great family time (with cake!), augmented by gifts, calls, and cards, but the hugely distinguishing factor about this birthday was something that happened the day before. A dozen or more of us who – get this – go to church together, meet monthly at The Chop House to “honor” that month’s birthday women with cards of a varying degree of taste, some quite tasteless, some of those supplied by me. So when my month came, shared by the distinguished, forbearing, and innocent Margaret Nelson, I knew it could go south. A good friend was to pick me up, but she didn’t come. What did come was a hearse with flashing lights. I sat in the front so it wasn’t quite like the “final ride.” Round the Square we went, stopping by my husband’s office, after the handsome and personable undertaker called to say, “Tell Mr. Donnell we’ve got his wife in the hearse.” Waiting for me at The Chop House were a group dressed in black, a somewhat tattered (and dead) bouquet of flowers, a sash that read, “She Who Knows Everything,” a table heaped with antiques labeled “Older than Anne,” artificial flowers that looked suspiciously weathered, like out-of-doors-on-graves-weathered, a bonnet to wear with granny glasses.  You know I loved it all – friends, laughter. What a way to go! Wide awake in the hearse.
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