How To Be a Pedestrian
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 7, 2023

Until recently, the only way for most people to get to most places was on foot. Horses were too expensive, and trains, planes, and cars didn’t yet exist. “Shanks’ Pony” was a jocular way of referring to walking. But with the development of modern street-traffic, among the automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and regular bicycles, there […]

Close Encounters
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   January 10, 2023

A counsellor I once had habitually used the concept of enfolding in your arms metaphorically, to mean “accept” and “deal with.” If I told her “I’m having trouble,” she might say “Embrace trouble!” But she never said, “Hug trouble!” You’ll have a hard job finding the word “hug” either in the Bible or in Shakespeare – […]


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More from Montecito

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 27, 2022

Most traffic signals have lights in red and green, signifying “Stop,” and “Go.” And there’s also usually another one, variously called yellow, amber, or even orange, which supposedly means “Caution” – although some drivers apparently interpret it as saying “Hurry! There’s still time!” Of course, you can’t stop and go at the same time. But […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 20, 2022

“Sir, you are a liar, a thief, and a coward!” “What! You called him ‘Sir’?” “Why not? Courtesy costs nothing.” That old joke can probably be blamed for my first encounter with the concept of courtesy – a word which has many shades of meaning, involving politeness, respect, consideration, propriety, and making people feel relaxed […]

Hard to Please
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 13, 2022

No doubt you have often received invitations which say at the bottom “R.S.V.P.” – and you probably know that this means that you are being asked to respond. I’m not a great linguist, but I know enough French to be able to tell you that these letters stand for “Répondez S’il Vous Plaît.” The first […]

Cleanliness – Next to Godliness
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 6, 2022

Just about the last regular job I ever had, before my current career as a self-employed creator of illustrated epigrams, was way back in the 1960s, in connection with a “floating university” – an actual institution of learning on board a converted cruise ship (a program still functioning, on various vessels, under the name of […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 29, 2022

The U.S. Marines have as their “Hymn” a song which at first celebrates their history, going back to the early 19th Century, with a reference to American military force being used (for the first time abroad) to subdue the piratical behavior of certain North African governments known collectively as the Barbary States (“The shores of […]

  • Where On Earth
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 22, 2022

    There’s a saying in the Real Estate business that, in considering the value of a property, only three things really matter: Location, Location, and Location. But, if that means where a place actually is, many factors enter into play – such as what it’s near, and not near. We are often reminded that “it’s a […]

    Hunters and Gatherers
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 25, 2022

    Despite my own attempts, through the jungles of information on Google, I’ve been unable to track down the originator of the term “hunter-gatherer,” as used to describe a lifestyle. But it appears to have been an invention of that branch of modern science which studies human origins and may fall under the rubric of Paleo-Anthropology. […]


    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 18, 2022

    Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest is credited with the idea (often quoted in various forms) that military victory depends on “getting there first, with the most.” It might be added that what matters most in life generally is getting there at all. But in the 1950s, when trans-oceanic travel by sea was beginning to encounter […]

    What They Say
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 11, 2022

    In Shakespeare’s classic monologue about “The Seven Ages of Man” (from As You Like It) he ascribes the fourth Age to a Soldier, who is “Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,Seeking the bubble reputation, even in the cannon’s mouth.” That metaphorical bubble is a fitting image for the attractive but ephemeral concept of […]

    Have a Heart
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 4, 2022

    Contrary to what someone might think, a cardiologist does not collect cards – not even such collectibles as those my little Company produces. The word comes from the Greek kardia, meaning “heart,” which has given us such spin-offs as “cordial,” and the French and Spanish “Coeur,” and “Corazón.” Where I live, there is a local […]

    Why Heaven?
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 27, 2022

    “Ah, but a man’s reach must exceed his grasp – or what’s a Heaven for?” This quotation, from Robert Browning’s long poem, “Andrea del Sarto,” may be all anybody remembers of that work (if any of it is remembered at all). But the idea itself is certainly worth thinking about. Whether or not you truly […]

    Too Much Love
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 20, 2022

    Loving one another is OK – but let’s not overdo it. Can there be too much love? We’ve all heard of “smother love” – a kind of emotional swaddling that comes near to stifling the object of affection – particularly associated with over-protective parents. Some people are surprised to hear that my own parents, when […]