You wouldn’t be ashamed

I photographed these parrots at Disney World, where they tactfully refrained from speaking.  August 2003

I photographed these parrots at Disney World, where they tactfully refrained from speaking. August 2003

“So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.”
Will Rogers

We don’t have a family parrot, but we have something a bit more risky: a son with an exceptional auditory memory (which tested at the level of a 13-year-old when he was in kindergarten) and a love of repeating things that he hears.  Matt also has the knack of unintentionally leaving out relevant parts of the story in such a way as to confuse or mislead his listeners.  Suffice it to say that we’ve become somewhat careful about what we say around him!

Still, he has always known, even from a very young age, not to repeat certain words.  When we moved to Hawaii in 1993, he was only seven years old.  On the airplane he was seated next to a woman who had more than a bit too much to drink, and she struck up a conversation with Matt.  Unfortunately, her language was not rated PG or even PG-13, and Jeff eventually called a halt to the conversation emphatically enough that her offensive language dried up immediately.  We worried for a time that we might hear Matt repeating some of the vulgar or profane words she said, but we never did.

In any case, Rogers has some sound advice here.  Even if no one else hears the things we say, we hear them, and we have no business filling our own ears with what doesn’t bear repeating.  Let’s practice saying only things that are useful, good, positive, uplifting, kind, honest or otherwise commendable.  Some of us will have a much harder time with this than others (I plead guilty!!!) but we will enjoy our own company more if we master this discipline.

SO, what’s happening with you today?  Tell me something good!


  1. Eric

    What’s happening with me today? I can’t heed your admonition, and answer the question at the same time. The old advice, attributed to a mother, serves as a corollary to today’s blog entry: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.”

    • Eric, I’m sorry you can’t think of anything good to say this morning. I feel like Ferris Bueller when he said to Cameron: “Here’s a song for a man who hasn’t seen anything good today” although I can’t launch into his performance number that would cheer anyone up. Here’s hoping something good will come to you later on today, even if you have to go out hunting for it! Love you.

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    Great news about Jeff–per Upper Room site.

    • Yes Mike, we feel very grateful to God and to all who have been thinking of us and praying for us. When you go through several months of bad news, good news is all the more precious! Thanks for being here AND at Upper Room!

  3. Mike Bertoglio

    Speaking of pets I have never been a cat person and had very few pets actually growing up. I think we had one dog. Staying at my kids apartment this summer my daughter in law Rachel has two feline roommates. Somehow I have developed a relationship with the older cat-Melitus.
    I stay on the couch and when I get up, make the bed and sit down to turn on my lab top,-Melitus comes and nestles next to me demanding attention. She nuzzles the computer and waits to be petted. She stays next to me while I type away. This is a cat that has virtually ignored me on my previous visits to NYC. Who can understand cats? Will I someday have my own cat? Probably not.
    Plan to go to the “Museo del barrio” today. As I am staying in East Harlem it would be nice to learn more about the Latin culture infrastructure.

    • Mike, I think cats are, for many people, an acquired taste. But as you discovered, they can be quite affectionate and very endearing. I love dogs but the pets I had in childhood, with one exception, were cats. Have fun at the museum today! Sounds quite interesting.

  4. Fran Kettren

    My something good today comes from memories triggered by your first paragraph. 🙂 I loved talking with Matt! The time spent with him always brought me such joy. Shaing books with him, talking with him and watching him and Ladd play are such great memories. This week all our children are coming home to visit. It would be wonderful to see Matt and Ladd together again. I believe they were the type of friends (even so young) who would pick up where they left off and still connect in a wonderful way. Praying there will be the opportunity some day for us to see each other again. Love to your family. 🙂

    • Fran, I have such fond memories of Ladd Aaron. He was always so sweet and serious. I will never forget that letter he wrote to Jerry, the one that ended with the words “raise your hand.” He was such a good friend for Matt and that puts him in a very select group (see my upcoming post tomorrow). I have some precious photos of Matt with him and also with Whitney, that might show up here eventually :-). We will always treasure our memories of the times we shared with your family during those magical years on the central coast of CA. Love to all of you and thanks for visiting us here.

  5. Carolyn

    Today I’m getting ready to go shopping for food. Jennifer and Emma are coming and I am have a family get together next Sat. for Terry’s 70th birthday. My list is long and I hate shopping, lots of time I will wait until she gets here and make her go with me to the commissary. Oh well, I will survive, just wish it would cool off a little. I guess, I sound grumpy and I need to put on a happy face and get going. Love that Matt and the rest of the family. I hope you all have a good week-end. Hugs and love to all.

    • Carolyn, my friend Amy H. has always called it the “commisscary” which I thought was really funny as it does get rather wild there on Saturdays! WOW, Terry is 70; I didn’t realize he is already at that big milestone. I think of you all as being just a bit older than Jeff and me – of course, we are no spring chickens either. Here’s hoping the weather will give you some relief. It’s hard not to be grumpy when it gets really hot. Hope you have a wonderful and restful weekend. BTW, great news — Jeff’s CEA was 1.8! We are praising God. You are right Carolyn, you and Jeff will both beat the odds. I really believe that. Love to you and your family.

  6. but we have something a bit more risky: a son with an exceptional auditory memory (which tested at the level of a 13-year-old when he was in kindergarten) and a love of repeating things that he hears.

    LAUGHING!! The THINGS some kids have freely shared with me about their friends or parents….Oh! One of your lighter posts….I LIKE it. In case you missed it, Julia, I could be wrong but I thought you might be interested in the fairly recent post that introduces my integrative nutrition blog (gluten-free, etc) – for your family or friends. Diana

    • Wow, thanks for telling me about your blog, which I’m sure will help many people who are on a GFCF diet. About 25 years ago when I first started an elimination diet for Matt, hardly any “mainstream” grocery stores had anything gluten free. I read Laurel’s Kitchen which was a wonderfully supportive and encouraging book for anyone trying to break free of conventional ways of eating. What surprised me most is how, once the family became accustomed to whole, natural foods (eliminating artificial colors & flavors, decreasing gluten & casein, making stuff from scratch) we all came to prefer that way of eating. Cooking was so much more fun that way, and really not much more trouble. But if we had not been in California at the time, it might have been almost impossible to find the foods we needed. I’m so thankful that awareness of nutrition has become more widespread.

      • Good to know your story. Let me know if you have trouble finding it. Where in CA were you? After Tennyson was born, in Irvine, we moved inland a few years ago – Socal.

        • Jeff has had two different tours of duty in California; the first was on the central coast at Vandenberg AFB, where we lived on base, and the second was in northern California at Travis AFB, and we lived in Vacaville during those years. Our sons spent more of their growing-up years in California than in any other state, so it will always feel a bit like home to them, as well as to Jeff and me.

          • I trust you saw the note on the Table that clarified I’ll be posting slowly. Tennyson’s homeschooling will be getting more serious next month and I decided I won’t scale back on the Journey; I’m having the time of my life. Sad because my holistic table was my first love. But I have only so many hours in the day. Thx for the support and I hope it’s useful info. Diana

            • Diana, I think we all have this juggling act between things we need and want to do, but perhaps no one faces that dilemma more acutely than a homeschooling Mom! I wish you the best and I know you readers will be more than understanding of your time constraints. Life keeps getting more and more packed with opportunities – a privilege but also, increasingly, a distraction! Thanks for taking time to be here!

    • Rene

      Ah yes, there was the time at the bike shop that Michael loudly asked “Are you 38, Mom?” (the clerk was wise enough to tell me “You look 28”), or the time he announced “My mom drinks alcohol!” to the scouts, or at church, or something. Love those exceptional auditory memories accompanying the verbal acuity!

      • Yes, that tends to make us a bit cautious about what our kids hear – not a bad thing. 😀 Given all the times our children try our patience, I wonder if we end up behaving worse because of all the frustration, or better because of our fear of having everything we say and do broadcast? I guess it balances out. At least I hope it does!

  7. MaryAnn

    AH! Julia, you bring to mind my wonderful Matthew: at worship & at our home…always a delightful boy! He “showed” us his incredible recall as we played “Outburst” w/ the teens! He & I had so many happy times together. I miss him so much! When I was w/ him at David Grant we filled each moment w/ everlasting joy! Thank you for sharing your boy w/ me!
    Today, I rode my bike extra miles & thought about you as I viewed the blooms all around me.
    Plus, I want to commit to memory: “…if we walk in the Light,….” 1 John 1:7
    BTW: I do not have a connection to the Upper Room info that Mike B. mentioned above…
    Love & prayers, MaryAnn

    • Mary Ann, the Upper Room is a daily devotional site that has built an amazingly supportive online community of Christians from various backgrounds all over the world. You can find out more at the site linked above. I had the privilege this week of meeting for the first time face-to-face with two people I knew only from that site, and it was wonderful to meet them in person after all these months of being in touch with them through online comments and prayers for each other. I have had devotionals published several times in their print edition as well as online, but did not get acquainted with the online community until the past year. I think you would really enjoy the fellowship. Thanks so much for the prayers!

  8. Sheila

    Julia, you may enjoy a “Walter,our bird” story. Although he doesn’t speak in words, more like sounds that are quite expressive, he can communicate. One early morning as I was preparing to make a Kahlua White Russian Cake, he saw me bring out the Kahlua and vodka. He startled me with,”Uh-oh!” Haha….we never know. The news regarding Jeff is just wonderful and so uplifting, I’m sure. We are planning a cook out later today with family, so that will be fun! Wishing a good day to you, as well. Sheila

    • Sheila, that’s so funny! Walter must have had some experience with a few people I know, but I won’t mention any names…:-) You could use him to chaperone underage parties. I hope you have a wonderful time at your cookout; make sure Walter approves of your beverage selection!

  9. Beth

    My sister, Sharon, was our family parrot. One instance in particular was broadcast in your parents car along with a small group of our Sunday school class. I won’t be a parrot and repeat her tale!

    • Was it the one about “my dad says, WHAT?” 🙂 That’s one of my favorites.

      • Beth

        That’s the one! Mom is still mortified. 🙂

  10. That’s really good advice, I tend to mumble a lot when I’m driving. It’s just so exasperating some days. Sometimes when people are being super crazy I think I might be on some candid camera show or something, it’s good to keep it all in perspective. My husband calls these things, “first world problems”. Today, Mr B and I went for a bike ride around a nice neighbourhood we’d like to live in someday, so looking forward today, it feels good.

    • I think the car brings out the absolute worst in all of us. It’s a pretty safe bet that half the ugly words I’ve ever said in my life have been said behind the steering wheel of a car. And yes, these are “first world problems” for sure. Maybe a little “third world patience” would be in order. Our son was amazed when he went on medical missions overseas, how the people would wait in line for hours for the simplest medical care, and remain cheerful, friendly and grateful despite walking for miles to get there and then standing in the heat all day. Your bike ride sounds lovely, keep me posted if you go house hunting!

  11. I’ve never heard that quote before, but I enjoyed it!

    Something good…hubby and I took an evening ride last night on our motorcycles. We’re preparing to ride on a big trip next month and tested some new equipment out. Today we went for another short jaunt after a bicycle ride. We are having exceptional weather here in the Seattle area!!

    • Wow, that is a good thing to share; a breath of vicarious freedom. More and more people I know are riding bikes of all sorts, and I think that’s great; good for the body and less consumption of gasoline too. I’m so happy you are having good weather! I’ll bet you are considerably cooler than most of us have been the past few weeks. Hope you have a great trip next month. Will you be blogging on the road?

      • Thanks, Julia!
        No, I don’t plan to blog on the road. Some of the areas we’ll be in are very remote and I will likely have limited internet access.
        I’ll post photos when I return, though! 😉

        • Good, I will look forward to them! Have a great time!

  12. Beautifully said, Julia. Truly words to live by.

    I got to Skype for two hours today with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Boomdeeadda. Our time ‘together’ was a treasure.

    • Alys, how fun! I need to get back into Skype. We used it while our older son was at Oxford, and we talked with him every week and it never cost a cent (just voice, no pictures). Now he and his wife are expecting our first grandchild, and she wants us to get back into it so we can Skype back and forth with the baby! It really is a good deal and maybe the learning curve won’t be too bad since I used it back in 2005.

      • Julia, congratulations! A grandchild…what a wonderful thing to look forward to.

        I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the Skype improvements. I’ve noticed a change, just in the past two years. It ‘s much clearer and sharper and easy to use. I have a friend who lives in New Zealand part of the year, and she regularly Skypes with her granddaughter. It’s been wonderful for both of them.

        • That is great to hear! I’ve mentioned to Jeff many times how it’s hard for us to imagine what overseas tours used to be like for military families; SLOW postal mail, prohibitively expensive phone charges, and plane fares too high for most people to manage even a single visit during a 3-year tour. We are so blessed in so many ways that even our parents and grandparents never dreamed of!


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