I've always believed words mean things, and "devastated" has been misused a good bit lately. For example, I know of smart people who said they were  "devastated" by the death of Princess Leia, and "devastated" some more when her mum, Debbie Reynolds, died the next day. Now, those deaths are sad, but, really, how can one be "devastated" by the death of someone who, basically, made movies? The word means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "severe and overwhelming (my italics) shock or grief." 

I thought Princess Leia was cool, but she was fictional, created for entertainment purposes. Same for her mother's roles. It was sad that there was a history of mental illness and substance abuse, truly. But for someone who didn't even know these people to be "devastated" when they died? It baffles me. Time to move on, I think.

Recently, my favorite college football team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, were demolished in the Outback Bowl by Florida's Gators. The final score was 30-3. When the game was over and I had clicked off the TV, I just sat there. My long-suffering wife took one look at me and asked, "Are you okay?"

"No," I said. "Devastated."

Photo cred: Chris O'Meara AP Photo

Contented Carenens

Friday evening at the Travelers Rest outdoor amphitheater with the Blue Ridge in the distance, we settled in after joining friends who saved us a place to hear the talented and exuberant Jacob Johnson offer up a free concert. Soft summer breezes stirred the hair of Southern girls of all ages playing and flirting and leaning on boyfriends and husbands, citrusy perfumes wafting lightly in the air. Children rolled down the hill like living logs, and bigger boys tossed a football back and forth.
And I wondered how life could get much better on a June twilight with my bride at my side and Jacob on the stage; poet, singer, songwriter, and guitar virtuoso beyond anything I've ever heard or seen before. He loves to perform, and we love to be his audience. His enthusiasm and talent defined the evening as a very good one.
Later, when the show was over, we packed up our folding chairs and walked back to the car and drove home where a big glass of wine and a joyful puppy awaited us. Strolling up to the Carenen Cottage in the dark, we heard tree frogs and crickets providing background music, and a big bullfrog down by the pond sang solo, his bellows cracking through the darkness, making us smile.
Such a blessing to be content.