Friday, March 30, 2012


"Hey, Kat!" the familiar voice chirped on my phone.

"Jan! Good to hear from you," I genuinely responded.

These are shots of her visit last week to see me and other college friends in the area.

You really need to be over age 50 to use the term BFF because it takes at least half a century to grow a best friend forever.

We became friends over 50 years ago at age 12. We had the same boyfriend, Sandy Goodfellow, but not at the same time. We were college roommates and watched each other fall in love and marry.
She and Jerry went to Japan as missionaries and we reconnected on furloughs when they came back to America. Then he became a pastor in Oklahoma. We reared children, became grandmothers and I grieved with her when Jerry died in a car accident seven years ago.
Here they visited us in Greenville, NC.
I attended her graduation and cheered when she got her doctorate degree.

I always say, "You're the smart one."

She always says, "You're the one who gets me into trouble."

Not much has changed except our hair color. She flew from Oklahoma to spend her spring break with me this year. As a college professor, the academic schedule dictates much of life.

We reminisced, laughed, cried, shopped, sang and relished our few days together. There's something special about a childhood friend. She remembers details of my life that are not in my memory at all.
Other memories we both relive vividly. I'll share three from our teenage years..

Like the Saturday we came to church early for youth choir. Fairmount Park Free Will Baptist Church (now Gateway) had a belfry above the foyer. Combine two teenage girls with free time and you have a recipe for trouble.

"Janice, you know that expression bats in the belfy?"

"Yeah, " she innocently answered me.

"We-ellll, I was just wondering. . ."

"Kathy!" she warned in vain.

"Do you think there really might be bats up there, Jan?"

No one was around so together we lugged the communion table and a chair from the sanctuary to the foyer. We lined the furniture up, stacked them right under the ceiling opening so we could lift the attic-type door and climb up to investigate.

It was a little beyond our reach so one of us climbed onto the shoulders' of the other. Even our collective memories get a bit fuzzy here as to who did what. What we do recall clearly was our youth pastor, Ralph Rice, walking into the scene with, "Janice Baskins! Kathy Tippett! What are you girls doing up there?"

The question was never answered. Neither was the one about bats in the belfry.

Another Saturday we climbed out a church window on the second floor and onto a slanted roof to sun bathe. No one caught us that day.

This was her high school picture and I told her she looked sexy. That was not her goal. Notice what she wrote on the back.

During her visit we talked about the time my brother, Ricky, and I brought refreshments for the teens for after choir practice. Joe Creech led the music but we slipped out early to set up the fellowship hall with sandwiches, chips, cookies and drink.

"Ricky, we forgot to bring napkins," I noticed.

"Well, give me some money and I'll run to the corner store to get some, Kat. You just go back to rehearsal and I'll set them out in here beside the food."

Good plan. Only the next day at church we learned the full story as reported to my mother. Joe's mother, Mrs. Creech, was the grocery clerk as Ricky walked up with the napkins to her checkout.

"How are you, Ricky?"

"Fine. Just gettin' some napkins for youth meeting tonight," he innocently told her.
What she noticed (but he did not) was the box between them labeled "Sanitary napkins." He just thought they were clean napkins so he'd have probably set them on the church kitchen counter for all
the teenagers coming.

Fortunately Mrs. Creech intercepted, "These are kind of expensive, Rick. Let me go get you another brand." He smiled and thanked her.

Jan and I tried to take a picture at Cold Stone during her recent visit. These were the best we got! We may not be very successful at capturing the moments, but we sure do create them!

We're gonna have such fun one day in a nursing home together!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Before I was married, I was an expert on marriage. Before I had children I was an expert on child rearing. Now that I've done both, I got nothing. Except my sense of humor.

So here's my expert advice on HOW TO RAISE A BRAT, not that I did. It's just that there are myriads of books on parenting. I thought I'd take the road less traveled and give it the Kathy twist.

1. Make life fair every chance you get. This means intercepting coaches, teaching teachers a thing or two and running interference with the neighbors when your kid comes in crying.

2. Build up their self esteem with lots of praise and stickers! Be sure they feel good about themselves. Never base it on accomplishments or competence.

3. Buy them the most expensive and trendy items so they'll have high expectations for earning a lot of money right out of college.

4. If their piano teacher seems tough, expecting them to practice daily, take it up with her. Be sure school teachers who overload homework also share your philosophy of child-rearing. (Share item #2 with them.)

5. Do not expect them to do menial work or chores around the house. Let them know flipping burgers is beneath them if they want to succeed in life. They should always enjoy work.

6. When they mess up, be quick to make it all better. Help them find excuses for why things went wrong. Even take some of the blame on yourself to keep life fair.

7. Be a friend to your child. Dress youthfully and listen to their music. Be cool. Be involved at their level.

8. Teach them "It's not whether you win or lose." Everyone should feel good about themselves.

9. Be sure they have plenty of leisure time to play, enjoy life and discover themselves. Having the latest technology helps this pursuit. Good parents work to provide and show love this way.

10. Kids learn a lot by watching television, especially educational and kid-friendly channels. It's cheaper than a babysitter while you work for their good.

11. Acceptance is important with peers. So help them be cool with the jocks and cheerleaders. Dress them for success with the IN-crowd.

If you prefer not to raise brats, just do the reverse of Rules 1-11. Or read another person's expert opinion below. And for the record, I did NOT raise brats but 3 excellent parents who are now rearing their own!

Expert on the obvious,

Choose. My advice. Or Bill Gates'.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Have you ever lost something and only then, realized how precious it truly was? I did. Here's the story.

As an elementary school supervisor, I also taught chorus and high school speech, along with office duties. It was the busy pre-Christmas season so programs were on the daily list to prep as well as classroom lessons. I developed laryngitis but kept teaching, singing and clearing my throat to no avail. Eventually I had very little voice left. When I did sing or speak it was raspy, strained and weak. Over the Christmas break I thought it would improve. It didn't.

I saw an ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) who ran a little light down my throat. "You have a hair-trigger gag reflex," he informed me. You learn new things every day, even about yourself. Finally, however, I learned what I came there for.

"You have polyps on your vocal chords. They can develop into nodules and do permanent damage unless you go on complete voice rest." I think I saw Doug smile a little. Like blisters on fingers, the polyps could become like callouses.

The next few weeks revealed to me how valuable my voice is. It was a gift I'd taken for granted. In church, as others sang their praises to God, I could only scan the words in my hymnal. . . silently. Sometimes tears blurred the words. I remembered how mindlessly I'd sung in the past. My heart ached at the loss of teaching ability. Without my voice, I lost a lot.

Eventually my vocal chords healed. I've never taken speech for granted since then. I learned to take care of my voice and pay attention to a sore throat, rather than push it beyond limits.

What do you have in your life that you take for granted?

your spouse. . .

a friend. . .

good health. . .

your honor. . .

a job. . .

vision. . .

purity. . .

your children. . .

a good reputation. . .

freedom. . .

We have so many blessings that we overlook them, never treasuring them as we should. Don't wait until you lose something or someone to be thankful. Express your praise to God, your gratitude to others for how precious they are in your life.

Everything lost is not always found.

"For where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also."

Friday, March 9, 2012


The political scene is not one I often visit in this blog. However, when I read this article by Rabbi Spero, it felt important enough for me to share with you. The history of my faith, my nation and my family finds roots here. He eloquently sounds a wake-up call to rally us to the core of our belief system and not allow it to morph or erode from God's design for all mankind.

The Wall Street Journal, Monday, January 30, 2012

What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism

As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it.

Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.

Getty Images

Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity, unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but, rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of God"—in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation.

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk.

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them. There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to domestic programs.

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes.

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob, who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state.

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable." But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other." Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president of Caucus for America.

Friday, March 2, 2012


By now (if you follow my blog) you probably know my love for words. As a writer and a talker I find language both necessary and intriguing.

Kimberly, our daughter, was an early reader so her understanding of words sometimes preceded her pronunciation.

Doug built our grandfather clock which has a moon dial and I was explaining it to her. "The moon waxes and wanes, when the shadow makes it appear larger or smaller, Kimberly. Do you understand?"

"Yes ma'am but when does it ahker?"

"It just waxes larger and wanes smaller. It doesn't ahker. I don't even know what that means, Honey."

She kept repeating "Ahker. . .AHKER!" (It rhymed with rocker.) Then she explained, "You know, Mama--happen!"

Finally OCCUR occurred to me.

Cute when you're young but not so much when an adult slaughters correct pronunciation.

Another writer said it beautifully. So if you enjoy the humor of English then read on and welcome Justin to my soapbox!

Catch the comedy clip at the end.

Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time with the elementary school lessons about how to accurately pronounce “library,” “February,” or “arctic”… although I will take this opportunity to note that if you’re discussing a library and still dropping the first ‘R’, there’s a very good chance that your friends and/or colleagues are laughing at you behind your back.

I won’t trouble you with a lecture covering how some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all. If you’re using words like “snuck”, “brang”, or “irregardless” (no, none of those are real words), a magazine article – much less one written by me – is not going to solve your problems.

What I will do is offer up a rudimentary form of help, in terms of how to properly pronounce relatively common words that are bound to show up in your daily life. These tips will not seal the deal in a job interview or on a date (I can especially vouch for the “date” scenario) but if pronunciation continues to be a potential chink in your armor, your problems will soon be solved.

Thus, behold, People of the Internet… the ten most important words you should learn to pronounce, if you would like to appear reasonably knowledgeable about your own language.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: ath – a – leet

  • Correct pronunciation: ath – leet

This may have been more helpful before the media blitz that was the Summer Olympics but it is a very valuable lesson to have for the future. It applies to “athlete” and any derivative (biathlon, triathlon, decathlon, etc.) and, honestly, I’m sad that I even have to point this out: there is no vowel between the ‘H’ and the ‘L’ in any of these words. There never has been. Let the dream die.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: ex – cape / ex – presso / ex – set – err – uh

  • Correct pronunciation: ess – cape / ess – presso / ett – set – err – uh

Yes, a three-for-one deal, but only because this one is dually very common and very simple to fix. For some reason, we of the English tongue have an obsession with changing any ‘S’ to an ‘X’, if it follows an ‘E’ sound; call it the Exxon Indoctrination. These words are spelled phonetically… let’s try to respect that.

Also: the yuppie kids will really respect you, if you master “espresso” and “et cetera” – what more motivation do you need?


  • Incorrect pronunciation: nuke – you – lerr

  • Correct pronunciation: new – clee – err

I’m going to try to get through this one without a President Bush joke. All right, so, despite the fact that it’s 2008, this is a word with which we’re somehow still struggling. Like most of the words on this list, “nuclear” is spelled EXACTLY AS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRONOUNCED and yet, people continue to screw it up worse than the War in Iraq… oh, dammit.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: purr – scrip – shun / purr – ogg – uh – tiv

  • Correct pronunciation: pre – scrip – shun / pre – rogg – uh – tiv

Overlooking the fact that many people also seem to have precisely no idea as to the latter word’s true definition (I’ve had several conversations where people bizarrely substitute “prerogative” for words like “agenda”), this is another problem that can be attributed to ignorance in the arena of “Sound It Out, You Lummox.” The ‘R’ comes before the ‘E’ in both of these words. Please ercognize this erality. Sorry.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: up – most

  • Correct pronunciation: utt – most

In a bizarre twist, people actually became so certain of this word’s meaning that they alter its pronunciation to reflect that definition. Yes, “utmost” is an adjective synonymous with “greatest” (a term that immediately calls to mind some tangible Mount Olympus-type of vertical hierarchy and the word “upper”) but that second letter? It’s still a ‘T’.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: can – uh – dett

  • Correct pronunciation: can – da – dett

Mastering this word will help you at least sound educated in your excruciating political debates as we approach November 3. I cannot explain it any more simply than my second grade teacher once did: “You always want to have a good candidate for your CANDY DATE.” Candy date. It’s sweet and simple.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: sherr – berrt

  • Correct pronunciation: sherr – bet

This is one of those words that ultimately had to abandon its crusade for righteousness and now has been corrupted to the point where dictionaries may list the incorrect pronunciation as acceptable because of just how rampant the ignorance grew to be. But there’s only one ‘R’ in “sherbet,” America… no matter how awesome the rainbow flavor is, there’s still only one ‘R’.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: aww – ree

  • Correct pronunciation: uh – rye

Up until very recently, I could not even conceive a situation where someone would mispronounce this word; it always seemed very simple, to me. However, I have heard three different people – in the world of talk radio, no less – pronounce it inaccurately in the last few months. It’s like… it’s like the mechanism that allows people to speak in an educated fashion went awry (see what I did there?).


  • Incorrect pronunciation: “for all intensive purposes”

  • Correct pronunciation: “for all intents and purposes”

All right, yes, I cheated a little bit here (for posterity’s sake, I should note that a phrase and a word are not the same thing) but this is still a very popular pronunciation mistake and one that I really feel must be addressed in a public forum. While “intensive” is absolutely a word, the clich├ęd saying that most people are trying to channel is all about intent. As for the rumor that I, as a younger man, frequently employed the incorrect pronunciation… no comment.


  • Incorrect pronunciation: off – ten

  • Correct pronunciation: off – en

If there is a bigger red flag for “I am misinformed about how to pronounce something” in our language, I have yet to encounter it. This word and its evolutionary course in American vernacular could be a cultural study unto itself.

For a while, nobody was aware that the ‘T’ was silent; this sneaky caveat had to be beaten into our brains for years and years in school. But then – in what can best be described as the greatest grammatical epiphany since someone decided that we needed a contraction to turn “I am” into a single word – people seemed to universally scream out “We get it! A silent ‘T’!”. It was a glorious day.

However, this euphoria was ultimately fleeting. At some point, the rational people of Earth decided to flip over the Buffet Table of Reason at the Banquet for Intellectual Hope and thought it best to, once again, simply start pronouncing the ‘T’ in “often.” I do not know whether this was brought on by an innate human desire to flout the rules of our world or just a collective hatred for all things associated with the establishment but it is now arguably the most frequent linguistic speed bump in the history of hyperbole. And I would like to lead the charge to restore balance.


Kathy here again. Want more? In case you're more the visual

learner, here's a clip of my favorite commedian, Brian Regan,

on the subject of language.