Category Archives: Words

Descriptive Language

For some reason that I can’t fathom, I thought of my dad today and about something he said once about one of his aunts.  I don’t remember which aunt it was, although I think it was the wife of one of his father’s brothers.  He described her as “like an old sow that eats chickens”.

Dad said this in a very matter of fact way, and was just being descriptive, not necessarily mean spirited.  He wanted me to understand what his aunt was like (to him, at least), and used some pretty descriptive language to do so. I asked two of my coworkers if they had ever heard this phrase, and they had, used by  older relatives of my father’s generation. It was their sense that this was descriptive language to indicate that someone was a hag.

Tell of some  memorable descriptive language you have run across lately or recall from the past. 


I lamented a few months back the loss of one of my favorite daily websites, “The Writer’s Almanac”. Well the good news is that it’s back! Not on MPR, mind you, but back nonetheless. The same comforting music and narrative voice and the same format: notable birthdays or events in history and then a poem. And now I get an email every day instead of having to remember on my own.

About the only difference I can tell is that many more of the daily poems are public domain than not, which says to me that he has a much smaller budget for this than MPR did. This is not a problem for me.

Today the poem was by John Milton, to commemorate his birthday. One of the fun facts was a list of some of the more than 600 words that Milton coined: dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, feverish, fragrance, adventurer, anarchy. I can’t imagine a world where there words don’t exist and it makes me wonder how often I need a word that doesn’t exist yet.

For example, I need a word for the feeling that comes on me when YA isn’t home at the agreed upon time, worry and irritation at the same time. Worritation?

What new word do YOU need?




Illogical Pronunciations

Husband and I were leaving the grocery store in a snow storm last week when we decided to carry the bags instead of push the cart through the slush.  It was then I asked “why is the u in those words pronounced so differently?  Why are push, cushion, and bush pronounced that way, and why are slush, brush, and rush pronounced the way they are?”

Husband seems to think that push and cushion are of French origin , and that accounts for the pronunciations. I am not sure. Languages are so interconnected.  I know that “Good butter and good cheese is good English and good Fries (West Frisian, as spoken in the  northern Netherlands)”.    English is just so illogical.  I wonder if all languages are mongrel like English, or is English unique?

What words flummox you? What are your favorite and least favorite words. 

A Surfeit of Words

For many years our Great Leader (Dale) used current events as a springboard to fun blog entries. Unfortunately the news these days is so depressing that it’s hard for me to get excited about using it as inspiration.  Until today, that is.

Merriam-Webster’s “Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” has added 300 words, including a two-letter word that people have been waiting years to use: OK.

“For a living language, the only constant is change,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary evolves to keep up with English as it is used today.”

Some of the others words include: twerk, beatdown, sriracha, bitcoin, emoji, sheeple, yowza, macaron, zomboid, frowny and puggle.

I know, I know – English only got where it is by changing over the centuries, but I still get eerie shivers down my spine when I hear words like “frowny”.

What words give you the creeps?


I Scream, You Scream

Over the weekend, PJ got me going when she said “I can think of worse ways to go than death by ice cream.” It reminded me of the time we had talked about death by rhubarb and Clyde actually found a book entitled exactly that. (It was awful!)

So I went looking for death by ice cream titles. Didn’t find exactly that, but found plenty that were close enough.  Here are a few:

Ice Cream Murder (A Sprinkles Cozy Mystery) by Jennifer Martin
Death with a Cherry on Top by Molly Dox
Chunky Raspberry Fudge Murder by Penelope Manzone
Death by Chocolate Sundae by Constance Barker
Triple Dipped Murder by Gretchen Allen
Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake by Sarah Graves

I requested a couple from the library – you never know, maybe I’ll find a new author I need to follow.

But while I was searching around, I found this:

National Ice Cream Death Museum, Derbyshire
Perhaps the most unusual display anywhere in Britain, this small but lively museum is devoted to major accidents, deaths and disasters caused by ice cream, from the great M65 pile-up of 1981 (caused by a discarded vanilla tub, on which a lorry skidded) to the case of the Sussex child who swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967 and still walks around happily with it inside. Anyone who has any new ice cream disaster to report should ring their Cones Hot Line (sic).
( 1998)

I couldn’t find any indication that the museum is still open. I can’t even confirm that there was a great M65 pile-up of 1981 or that a Sussex child swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967. But it’s fun to think about.

What’s the most interesting museum you’ve ever been to?

Sherlock Bones

You all know I’m a little obsessed with all things Sherlock Holmes. I don’t usually go looking for Sherlock but occasionally Sherlock comes to me when I’m not paying attention.

Last week I was looking for something else and stumbled across Sherlock Bones and the Missing Cheese, a children’s picture book.  In that same foray I discovered that there is a video out there also named Sherlock Bones with a terrier starring as the illustrious detective.  I also discovered that there is a series of books pairing Sherlock with Elizabeth Bennet, another character who has lived on past her initial publication.  All of this took about 5 minutes!

The Missing Cheese book was at the local library, the Sherlock Holmes and Elizabeth Bennett is in paperback for a price I’m willing to pay on Amazon.  Unfortunately the video is more than I’m willing to pay.  I’m working to find it on some other library.  Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, the children’s book has great illustrations and the story line is fun, however, the poetry itself leaves a little to be desired. But in the category of new ways to portray Sherlock Holmes, it gets an “A”.

Tell me about a favorite character, or an author you follow loyally or a series you can’t get enough of.

Silence of the Canes

I’m a chatter – I freely admit it. No life stories, but a comment for the cashier, a quick quip for others waiting in line with me, hello to the librarian. Normally I pick raspberries with my BFF Sara.  We chat away while we pick and if there are folks on the other side of the canes, we usually talk with them a bit.

This year schedules just didn’t coincide so I ended up at the raspberry patch on my own. I was sent down a long row of canes with just one lone gentleman on the other side.  He had just started as well and we were picking at about the same speed.  We even, by unspoken agreement, shared the “in between” space.  Sometimes he would pick berries from the middle and sometimes he left them for me.

But he didn’t chat. I asked just a few questions to see if we could find some common ground:

VS: What do you do with all your berries?
H:   We spread them on cookies sheets and freeze them?
VS: Me too.  After I make some jam.


VS: Where are you from?
H: Northfield
VS: That’s convenient.  (berry patch is in Northfield)


VS: Are you here alone today?
H: No, my wife is here.


Three hints are enough for me. Clearly he didn’t feel the need to chat, so I left him alone and we continued to pick silently.  His wife eventually showed up and they outpaced me although even as they got farther away from me I could hear that they weren’t speaking to each other either. So at least it wasn’t me.

Did your folks tell you never to talk to strangers?