Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Bouncing Ball

While it is unlikely that you are of a sufficient age to remember when movie theaters, as part of their programs, would include an assortment of "short subjects" along with the feature film. "Sing Alongs", in which the audience was encouraged to...well, sing along with some well known old song, were popular. The words would appear at the bottom of the screen, and a little ball would appear over the first word of the song. The audience would be invited to "follow the bouncing ball," which, with the start of the music, would then bounce along over each syllable of the song as it was sung.

Today's entry is something like that, except that neither you nor I know the words, and there is no music. I just basically hope you'll be able to follow the bouncing ball.

If you've read these blogs for any length of time, you know that how I ever manage to get anything done, let alone complete a thought, is a constant source of amazement to me. I've used innumerable comparisons in various blogs to try to explain how my mind works--raging rapids; a pinball machine; a 4th of July fireworks display; a popcorn popper; a roller-coaster ride; an exposed live wire, tornado debris, and now a bouncing ball. All true but no single one definitive.

So...ready? Cue the music, and begin.

This morning in the shower, it occurred to me--you know better than to ask why, I'm sure, since I have no idea myself--that I had not heard from a loyal reader, John Bidwell, in a while. "That does not bode well," a mind-voice said, having majored in Clever.

A chorus of mental groans was forestalled by another thought: "Exactly what does 'bode' mean?" 

"Foretell." (A later check of the dictionary shows I was right: Origin: Old English bodian [proclaim, foretell,] from boda [messenger,] of Germanic origin; related to German Bote, also to bid 1 .) 

"Then what about 'forebode'? If 'bode' means 'fortell', how did 'forebode' come to mean 'warning'?"

After pondering this for all of twenty seconds, I opened the shower door to grab a towel. As I did so, I noticed my cat Spirit was not sitting there, eager to run into the stall and start licking the beads of water running down the wall. I did not see him until I returned to the computer to try to come up with a blog subject for today, and was a bit startled to see him curled up behind my laptop, his head using my internet modem as a pillow. This was a first, and as I watched him, he began making odd little sounds...also a first; I'd never heard him make any sound in his sleep, and it occurred to me that he must be dreaming.

What in the world do cats dream about? I wrote a poem once called "Dreams of a Calico Mouse" about a calico cat. But since we do not have mice in my building, and Spirit is not a calico, I was at a loss as to the possible subject of Spirit's dreams.

By this time, the peripatetic nature of my thought processes over the preceding twelve minutes or so had given me the subject of this blog. “"Peripatetic" (peripatetic |ˌperipəˈtetik| adjective: traveling from place to place, esp. working or based in various places for relatively short periods”), by the way, is on my rather long list of favorite words, both for its sound and its meaning. I wonder what your favorite words are?

Well, time for the feature film to start. Thanks for following the bouncing ball.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

So did you find out what happened to your friend?

I know. I know. I probably missed the point of the post. I got it. Now I'm just curious if you found out.

Dorien Grey said...

Yes....John is doing fine,'s just that our rate of email exchanges has slowed. He's a busy man as I like to convince myself am I.