Category Archives: Words

Spoiler Alert

500 pages. Book discussion is Saturday so I thought I’d dig in tonight.  After two hours I realized I might finish it before I went to bed.  You know how this ends.  It’s midnight, I’m turning out lights and suddenly remembering I haven’t check on a blog bit for tomorrow!

What’s the last book you stayed up to finish?

More About My Mom

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline.

My mother is intelligent, loving, and feisty. She also has some type of learning disability, probably some type of dyslexia; they didn’t recognize that kind of thing in the 1920’s. She says that she hated school until she got to college. She convinced her mother she was sick and couldn’t go to school more days of the week than not, all through high school. But she loved everything about Macalester College and doesn’t recall ever missing a single class. Smart as she is, she has never, ever been able to spell. Anything. At all. She clearly remembers the agony of multiple failed attempts to get her first library card because she couldn’t spell her 16-letter full name on the application form.

When she went to Macalester, she had a note on file from a psychologist, stating that she wasn’t stupid or uneducated, but she couldn’t spell, and her professors should cut her some slack in that regard. She graduated from Mac in 1947 with a double major in Sociology and Theater. Not too shabby for any women in that era, especially one who couldn’t spell.

She can’t look up a word in the dictionary. She can’t even get to the right page, let alone to the right word. If spell check had come along 30 years earlier, she would have been one of it’s greatest beneficiaries, but she was born to soon.

She’s an avid reader, which seems odd to me. She read aloud to us when we were kids and we didn’t notice until much later that she pronounced many words differently than most people do. We frequently had “samriches” for lunch, for example.

Throughout my childhood, she would ask me how to spell simple words. Every time one of us missed school and she had to write an excuse note, she’d ask me how to spell stumpers like “with” and the dreaded “sincerely.” She had a cheat sheet in her stationery box, but nearly always asked, because the words just didn’t look right to her.

She always writes individual notes in her Christmas cards, but it takes her forever, because she writes them out on scratch paper and has me correct the spelling before she copies it over to the card. It’s the bane of her existence. She would almost rather not get gifts because the mandatory thank you notes are so frustrating to compose. Her notes are always heartfelt, but brief.

Mom will be 93 in October. At somewhere around 75 she started taking to heart the information she was seeing about how crucial it is to keep your mind challenged as you age. She couldn’t do the Highlights for Children crossword puzzles, let alone the ones in the New York Times, as was frequently recommended. She couldn’t do word search puzzles, as many of her friends did, and don’t even mention playing Scrabble! So she came up with her own brand of brain training; she memorized all the insignia/logos on cars. For the last 20 years or so, riding in the car with her is a running monologue on the makes of the cars going by. “Oh, there’s a Toyota, that’s an Acura (a’ cura, in her pronunciation), that one’s a Mercedes, I think those are very expensive.” She’s only focused on the make, models are not her thing, except for one particular Hyundai (I think it’s a Hyundai, of course I can’t come with model right now) that every time she sees one, she points out what a remarkably good looking car it is.

What do you do to compensate for your weaknesses?

Baby Talk

Today’s post comes to us from Bill.

I was driving somewhere the other day and my iPod was playing randomized tunes. Patsy Cline’s “Back in Baby’s Arms” had just finished and was followed by John Pizzarelli singing “Be My Baby Tonight”. That started me thinking about the use of “Baby” as a term of endearment. It’s probably the most common way of addressing one’s significant other in popular music. More popular, I suspect, in songs than in real life.

In the 47 years Robin and I have been together, I’ve never called her an infant. But, as one who can’t let random musings pass unconsidered, I wonder: How and when did infantilizing one’s partner become desirable? Why would that be considered romantic? Is calling someone a baby ever the basis of an equitable adult relationship?

And isn’t it sort of creepy when you think about it?

Shelf Life

As most of you know, my library account and I are in a special relationship. I try to keep the number of books I have checked out at any given time to under 20. I’m usually at my max allowed on my waiting list. I know my 16-digit library number by heart, my library card is on a cell phone app so I don’t need a separate card and of course I know all the hours that my local library is open.

I only buy about five books a year so that means I usually try every avenue to find a book when it comes to my attention. In addition to my regular account I also have an active interlibrary loan account. I even have the phone number of the gal who runs the ILL section of the Hennepin County system and have unbelievably talked her into extending the 3-week only loan allowance for an interlibrary selection.  Twice.

Obsessive is probably the word that is popping into most of your minds right now, but the library and I are very happy together.

Last week I picked up two ILL books that had come in and as I looked them over I realized that one had not been checked out since 1999 and the other hadn’t been checked out since 1988. For some reason this makes me very happy – I like to think I’m giving these books a little vacation from their regular shelf life.

What book would you like to go on vacation with?

write good

Today’s post comes from tim

the suggestion that we sharpen up the pencil and write a blog by renae last week led me to think about writing untensils. i am a typist for the most part these days and the point of my finger has leaned to navigated the space allowed on the 4inch screen of an iphone as allowed in the world of steve jobs vision come true.

in a former life i wrote with pens and pencils. i still do on occasion and seldom think about the writing utensil in my hand but when i do i have an opinion.

remember the big black pencils in the 1st grade classroom? as big as a magic marker instead of a pencil. i wonder what the logic there was. give a little tiny hand a monster pencil to learn how to write? someone obviously thought it was a good idea. i graduated from the big black pencil in miss majeras’ first grade class to a fountain pen in the catholioc shcool i went to begining in second grade. there was a penmanship grade on our report cards and a portion of the week ( i dont think it was daily but it definately was a regular class) was dedicated to making sure we all did good when attempting to write a paper about our second grade observations on the world around us or penning stories about our understanding of the place of an 8 uear old in the universe.

the fountain pen was a magic implement. it made all ink it discharged seem important. a ballpoint pen was the way the rest of the world functioned in 1962 but at the nativity of the blessed virgin mary we were above all that. we needed to have our writing be special and so we used either a bottle of ink and an old fashion fountain pen with a bladder or as most in the class did we bought he shaffer pen with the little cartridges or we  could if we were rich do the wearever which was a fancy version with a better nib on the pen and a more flamboyant script was certainly bound to come out the tip.

i am a fan of the roller ball pen today but by today i mean 1970/80 technology. form what i can tell anything gel pen is the same thing today. the smooth writing that flows out of the tip of a rollerball/gelpen is a feeling i apprecaite.

my friend the organized former landscape architect likes a .05 not .07 lead pencil. always a quality point and always a good tool to write with.i never know where i put that darn little pack of lead inserts to keep it writin .   the old bic with the clear body and the bic blue top is a classic design that makes my jaw hurt looking at it remembering all the blue caps i have chewed on until the no longer went back on to cover the business part of the pen to keep it from blue spotting the pocket i am going to put it in.

my new cell phone has a feature that allows me to write either with a stylus on the screen or even with my fingertip. it is a feeling of being from the future to have the tip of yur finger be a writing utensil that works.

black pencil, yellow pencil, mechanical pencil, ball point pen, roller ball, fountain pen, keyboard, touchscreen, dictation pop ups on the screen that transform what i meant to what the spellchecker translator thought i said…

usually the way i get the meat of the idea i am trying to form onto a transferable  format is a non thought but as i have started using the franklin planner for my business notes and charting the day it find it is great to start journaling the day. the thoughts and ambitions of the day get lined up and forgotten unless there is a way of keeping track. so paper is good. i am sure the notes of my internet life will go unnoticed with me to the great beyond in the year i depart. no one will ever want to look at my emails and files other than the pictures and some of the special chosen few snippets of the deep and profound thoughts i have on occasion.

what makes you write good?

A Pocketful of?

Spring is the time to clean out winter jacket pockets.  Much
accumulates there in a few short months.

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in
my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great
epics is past.
— Gilbert Chesterton

What’s in your pockets?  What would you like to find there?