Category Archives: Words

Favorite Words

I look up lots of recipes on-line, and I somehow got signed up for the free delivery, multiple times a day, of recipes from a German-based Instagram site that sends me baking recipes. The recipes show up in German, and then are translated into English when I click on them to read them. The site is called Einfach Backen, which means Easy Baking.

I love the German descriptions of the recipes. One yesterday was:

Kirschpfannkuchen-Wie bei Oma. Soo fluffing & aromatisch!

I think that means cherry pancake just like grandma used to make, light and tasty. I don’t speak German, but some of the words are easy to figure out. I have never made any of the recipes. I just like trying to figure out what they are before they are translated into English.

The other day, one of the recipes was described as being blitzschnell, which I take to mean lightening fast to prepare. I just love that word! Our terrier is very blitzschnell, Husband less so. He is amused when I say “Mach Blitzschnell!!” when I want him to speed it up. I love it!

What are some of your favorite non-English words? What are your favorite English words or phrases? Learn any new words lately!

Euphemisms

Our puppy needs a haircut, and is a very fuzzy boy. I noticed that he had two rather large dried on pieces of poop on his rear end, stuck to his fussy hair. I told husband that he had to help me with the “clinkers”, as we have called such things since we got our first dogs many years ago. I started thinking about the word and the euphemisms that we use. I am not talking about hurtful or derogatory ones, just interesting ones.

I suppose many euphemisms stem from talking about body parts or functions. Many of my child/adolescent clients are embarrassed to death to have to refer to body parts by their proper names. A good friend had a daughter who referred to boys’ parts as “hoses”, which I thought was a pretty good descriptor. I don’t know what she calls them now that she is a grown woman.

What are some euphemisms that you use? What words are hard for you to say in public?

Page Turning Pariah

As a voracious reader, I depend a great deal on other folks’ recommendations.    Ten years ago I added a column to my reading spreadsheet – Inspiration.  When a finished title gets added to the spreadsheet I notate where I got the idea for reading the book.  If it’s a specific person, I list their name.  If it’s a bookclub selection, BBC, Illiterati or MIA.  If I actually remember where I first encountered the title, I enter that (Scientific American, Goodreads, CNN).  If it’s book off one of my various lists, that gets written in (Monarchs, Presidents, Banned, Newbery, Caldecott).  And, if by the time I finish a book (that’s a whole new blog topic – my over-curated library account), I don’t remember where I got the idea any longer, then O&A, Out & About, is the label.

All of this to say that I do take book recommendations seriously.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve read 75% of the books we’ve talked about on this blog, not because, as Steve used to say “VS has read everything” but because when somebody mentions a book on the Trail, I write it down or go to my library account immediately. 

I have a friend in Indianapolis who reads as much as I do and although we don’t always gravitate to the same thing, I’ve found most of his recommendations fascinatingly good reads.  (For example, I would never have picked up Countdown Bin Laden by Wallace & Weiss of my own accord, but since he spoke highly of it, I gave it a shot.  It was excellent and is likely to make my top ten this year.)  When he suggested a title that I had heard of from a few other folks, I picked it up from the library.  That’s when I found out that the title is also an Oprah Pick and has either won or been a finalist for just about every literary award out there.  93% of folks who have reviewed on Amazon have given it one or two stars.  Just 1% rated it with only one star.  This is unprecedented so I was really looking forward to getting into it – I even suggested it to my other book club.

I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it to the point that if it hadn’t been a book club title, I might not have finished it.  It was WAY too long; it’s really two stories, related but distinct enough for two separate treatments.  Then there was the jumping around in the timeline, which I didn’t find to be well-handled. Too much repetitiveness; probably could have trimmed 50 pages by leaving out all references to “collard greens”.  But the biggest problem was that there wasn’t one likeable character in the entire book; 400+ years of story and 900+ pages of book, that’s a LOT of unlikeable characters. They ran the gamut from heinous to slightly sickening, but really not one really decent person among the lot of them. 

But it’s really hard to dump on a book that appears to be universally loved and admired.  REALLY hard.  And because I like to think I’m a discerning reader, it has made me wonder what’s wrong with me. What have I missed. In fact, I’ve been writing and re-writing this blog post in my head for two weeks trying to decide whether to name the book or just ruminate on feeling so out of step with what feels like the whole of humanity.  I do feel out of step a fair amount.  I’m not interested in fashion. I think reality TV is an abomination. Much of what is generally valued by current culture leaves me “meh”.

That’s why I am extremely grateful that I have found niches where I feel like I fit in, with good friends who think a bit more like I do.  This is one of those places, of course.  Thanks for all of you in my life and on the Trail who leave a place for my quirky self at the table! 

Tell me about the last book that you DIDN’T like.  (And if you’ve read the book I’m talking about and liked it, that’s OK… you’re in good company!!)

Messages To The World

Our puppy gets two or three walks a day, and this has afforded me more observations of the neighborhood. I noticed on my most recent walk a faux rustic sign on a front porch that said in rather decorative lettering “Don’t Let The Top Step Kick Your Ass.”

That sign had been purchased, not made by the home owners. I have a hard time understanding why people would put a sign like that in the yard. I suppose it is meant to be amusing. It sure makes me hesitant to get to know them.

We have a small, cast iron pig with wings in one of our front perennial beds. I hope it tells people we are somewhat fanciful and goofy. The Gulf War veteran down the block has an American flag along with his Marine Corps flag. He is a good guy. I am happy to say our neighborhood Trump supporters don’t have any signs up. I suppose if I really wanted our neighbors to know what we stand for we would erect a free little library by the front Spruce trees.

What signs or symbols do you have in or outside your home that could tell people about you? What messages would you want to convey to the world from your yard?

What’s In a Name?

I was a rep for a stamping company for many years…. you know, one of the home party companies.  Of course, for most of my tenure, I only did workshops in my home for my dedicated following.  I wasn’t really into “growing my business”; I just wanted have fun with my stamping friends and get the company discount.

I have stamps and accessories from many companies but even though I’m not selling any longer, I still get excited when the annual catalog comes out.  The first day to order is today.  One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the colors of ink/paper in the catalog aren’t always QUITE the same in person as they are in the book.  You wouldn’t think I would be too fussy about my ink colors (especially if you could see how many I already have).  But when you have a lot, you don’t want duplication.  If I’m going to get another pink pad or green pad, it needs to be a different shade.  When I saw new colors called Polished Pink and Parakeet Party, I visited my rep (I signed up with her the day I resigned as a sales person) to see those colors in person.

Parakeet Party is a light but vibrant green but it occurs to me that the average person wouldn’t figure that out immediately.  And it made me think about some of the incredible names that stamp companies come up with for their colors.  Here are just a few… can you figure out what color they are by the name:

    • Coastal Cabana
    • Cadette
    • Alchemy
    • Mermaid

Of course a lot of them are more obvious:  Rich Razzleberry, Early Espresso, Bubblegum (just about ever company that does ink pads has one named this) and one of my favorites – Not Quite Navy.  I’m thinking that when they have meetings to talk about ink names, there must be alcohol involved!

What’s your favorite Crayola box?  8-pack?  24-pack?  64?  Living large with the Ultimate 152?  What about neons?  Or glitters?  Or confettis?

The Sunwise Turn

I’m reading a quaint little memoir called “Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling”.  Two women, with no bookselling experience decide to open a bookstore in New York in 1916.  The book was written in 1925.  It’s a fascinating story of how they got started and how they survived.  The book downplays the fame of the store, but online you can easily find a history of the store which was also a salon for up and coming writers as well as an exhibition and performance space. 

Early on in the book, the author describes how they came to name their shop:

The name was one of the crises through which we had somehow to get.  There is sin and virtue in a name.  We wanted a name that would mean something.  Everything was to be significant.  All kinds of titles of the thumb-mail variety were offered.  My partner telephoned me one day that Amy Murray had drawn up in the net of her Gallic wisdom the name ‘The Sunwise Turn”. 


They do everything daesal (sunwise) here” – Father Allen had told her of the people of Eriskay – “for they believe that to follow the course of the sun is propitious.   The sunwise turn is the lucky one.”

The key goes sunwise; the screw goes sunwise; the clock goes sunwise.  Cards are dealt with the sun.  The Gael handed the loving cup around the banqueting table sunwise; he handed the wedding ring and loaned money sunwise  An old sea captain who once came into the shop told me that wind and weather go sunwise, and once when I called in our Swedish contractor, Behrens, to confer with him about the furnace, eh said: “It out to be in the other corner of the house, maam.  I always put my furnaces in the north end.  Heat goes with the sun.”

I’m pretty sure naming your bookstore “Sunwise Turn” breaks every rule you can find about picking a name for your business.  It doesn’t say anything about what the shop sells and it’s unbelievable obscure, but I really fell in love with the name and the thought and meaning behind it.  Makes me want to open up a shop of some kind, just to use the name again.  

Let’s say you are opening a shop of your own next week.  What would you sell?  And what would you name it?

Creative Addresses

Daughter’s BFF is in grad school in a southern state getting her MFA in vocal performance. I have known her since she was in Grade 1, and consider her a second daughter. She has a beautiful voice, and recently sang in a lead role in a production of The Bartered Bride. She is a cook and loves to bake. She didn’t get a Christmas box of goodies from us, but I baked some of her favorite cookies and sent her a Valentines box yesterday filled with the cookies as well as cocoa mix, interesting pasta, pasta seasoning, fancy pizza crust flour, and a Mr. Rogers figurine who speaks in his actual voice about being wonderful for who you are and asks about your neighbors if you push the button on the trolley.

Her street address is IOOF St. I think this is one of the oddest street addresses I have seen. The clerk at the UPS store sure thought it was odd. I am curious if Baboons know what IOOF stands for, and what other odd or interesting streets names they are aware of. I have my grandfather’s OF sword.

What are some interesting street names you have encountered? What street names would you like to invent? Know any OF’s? What are your memories of Mr. Rogers?

Testifying

I found out earlier this week that I have to provide testimony to a State legislative committee as part of my role as member of a regulatory board. The committee is concerned that over-regulation and regulatory board inefficiency is causing shortages of health care professionals in the state. My job will be to disabuse them of this inaccurate assessment. That means I will have to provide lots of statistic on the number of license applicants, length of time between the receipt of the application and the issuance of a license, number of people denied a license (one in total my five years on the board), efficiencies we have introduced, and so on.

I plan to be plain spoken and professional, calm and patient. I will rely on the fellow board member who is doing this with me. I have testified in court on many occasions, but this will be slightly more nerve-racking. Besides, when I testify in court at home, I know al the judges and attorneys, and we all joke around and tease one another. I run into them in the grocery store. It is my understanding that the committee is comprised of very reasonable legislators, mostly Republicans, which is a comfort. If things go badly, I suppose I could find a way to casually mention that I am related to Lawrence Welk’s son in law. That might soften their hearts. I won’t mention my other relatives who were leading lights in the Non-Partisan League in the early part of the 20th century, North Dakota’s Socialist Party and the forerunner of the current State Democratic Party.

When have you had to change someone’s mind? Any advice for how I testify? What are your experiences providing testimony?

By Any Other Name…

Names are a big deal in my business.  You have to have legal names for air ticketing, names for namebadges, nameplates for dinner seating, names on awards – sometimes one person can have four different names in these situations. 

Over the years, I’ve seen some doozies.  One couple asked for “Chief” and “Boots” on their badges – the client said no.  I’ve had requests for Princess, Houdini, Sport, even the Big Lebowski.  Several times participants have “exaggerated” their titles when they register for programs.  It’s always pretty clear when someone’s title shows up a President of their company.  I did have someone once type in “Grand Exalted Poombah” – guess he thought we didn’t really need the information and he could have some fun. 

The best name I ever came across was Waightstill Scales.  His nickname was Booger. And the company that he worked for had an award named after him since he was their top salesperson of all time.  The Booger Scales award.  And his namebadge?  You guessed it, Booger Scales.  I kid you not.  I think you’d have to be really confident to carry that name your whole life and then to give it to your son, whose nickname was Waighty.  Waighty Scales.  I swear, I am not making this up.

What’s the funniest actual name you’ve heard of someone having?

Door Stoppage

Photo credit:  The Avocado

On Friday Steve suggested a book be used for a doorstop that Clyde needed.  My very first thought was Ulysses.  I was an English major at Carleton and there were two infamous lists.  One was the short list – about 100 titles that you’d better have read before your comprehensives at the end of your senior year.  Then there was the long list – this was about 500 titles – that the English department thought you should read if you wanted to be truly well-read.  I know, I know, incredibly  presumptuous.  I got copies of these lists in my sophomore year and kept them for years.  As you can imagine, Ulysses was on that list and while most of my brain knows there is no reason I have to read this, a little bit still thinks that I should wade through Joyce.

Three years ago when I started getting rid of excess stuff, I realized I had THREE copies of Ulysses.  Unfortunately for Clyde’s needs, I got rid of all of them, along with most of the guilt that I never could get through the first chapter, much less any farther.

But it made me think about what other books I could imagine consigned to doorstop-hood.   I pulled up my reading list to look for 1-star titles that I wouldn’t mind using to keep a door open.  I started keeping this list in 2007 but didn’t start assigning stars until 2013.  I actually don’t have too many two-star titles, and next to no one-star ratings (it’s a 1-5 rating).  Life is too short – if a book isn’t shaping up, it goes back to the library (or if I actually purchased it, on a pile to be donated to the library).

I do have a few one-stars, but they bring up a secondary problem… I don’t actually remember all of them.  So here’s a short list of my one-star doorstop recommendations:

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (not even a whiff of memory about this one)
  • The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (I know that tim loved this one, but it didn’t have enough surrealism to support an unbelievable plot)
  • Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I kinda liked the first few and I do like the Hallmark movies made from the series, but this one stunk and the main character stepped over so many lines (moral AND legal) that I couldn’t believe it.
  • Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick. You all know I love alternate-reality future stories but this one did NOT satisfy.  Several concurrent stories, which did not ever intersect, did not wrap up  in any meaninful way and one that jut didn’t make sense.  (And in looking at the reviews of the tv series, they pretty much didn’t use 95% of the book.)
  • And then my one and only negative star title… Swamplandia by Karen Russell. I only finished this because it was a book club title.    Unbelievable set-up, unlike-able characters, tragic outcome and ending that could not happen in anybody’s reality.  There are actually good reviews of this book, but I can only say that hallucinogenics must have been involved.

Any nominees for a door stop?