Friday, May 14, 2021

Beginning ~ with their ages

I am seventy years old.  I am astonished to be writing this, as doubtful of the truth of it as if I had just written, "I am a peacock."
October 30, 2010
The failing of an aging parent is one of those old stories that feels abrasively new to the person experiencing it.  At eighty-nine years of age, my father has begun, in his own words, to "lose it."

I'll Be Seeing You ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2020, memoir

Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one:  He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife.  Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back.  His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.

But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help.  It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction — to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them.  It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy.  The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield.  Then came redemption.

This memoir charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful — and grateful — acceptance.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Weird words

I bought an LED lamp to clip onto my headboard so that I could read in bed.  The weird words on the box show without a doubt that it was made in a country that does not speak English, though I have no idea which country.

Before you read my "translation" below, see if you can figure out what the words on the side and back of the box say.  The short paragraph on the side is bad enough, but what's on the back is totally ridiculous.

Words on the side of the box

Words on the back of the box

The key to figuring out what's what, for me, was that only ONE letter was strange on the side.  Notice the "G" has a funny mark over it.  That mark is called a "caron."  In English, "cggler" is not a word.  Neither are "tg" nor "tguch" nor "gr" — nor "Cgntains" nor "ng" at the bottom.

When I started trying to figure out what the "missing" letter should have been (in English), I could suddenly see it's the letter O.  Insert "o" into those weird words, and it makes sense:
"Uses less energy & cooler to the touch than CFL or incandescent bulbs. . . . Contains no mercury."
So I turned again to the back of the box and could almost read the whole thing, though two other letter were still wrong:
"This Tortable lamT has a Tolarized Tlug (one blade is wider than the other) as a safety feature to reduce the risk of electric shock.  This Tlug will fit in a Tolarized outlet only one way.  If the Tlug does not fit fully in the outlet, reDerse the Tlug.  If it still does not fit, contact a qualified electrician.  NeDer use with an extension cord unless Tlug can be fully inserted.  Do not alter the Tlug."
Can you see it now?  There are still two wrong letters — the capital T that hangs below the line and the capital D with a dot under it, but the rest wasn't that hard for me to figure out.  Replace the long T with a "p" and the capital D-dot with a "v" to get:
  • portable lamp
  • polarized plug
  • plug (several times)
  • polarized outlet
  • reverse
  • never

Wondrous Words

Deb Nance of Readerbuzz has written about how tricky it is to deal with British English words that sound weird to speakers of American English.  Her problem resonates with me.

While we're on the topic of words, think about gun-related words that we use daily.  Read this Patheos article about gun violence.  Words we choose matter.

Here's the link to Elza Reads, where people share links to their Wondrous Words Wednesday posts.  I expect mine will be the weirdest words this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Two new books for my Kindle

Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Enlarge Us ~ by Lawrence Weinstein, 2020, English language

Grammar is about much more than rules:  it’s about choices, too — since a thought can always be expressed correctly in multiple ways.  Weinstein reveals how our grammatical choices either stifle or boost our sense of agency in life, our creativity, our depth of connection to others, and our mindfulness.  He shows that certain tweaks to a person’s grammar can bring consequential changes in his or her fulfillment and well-being and describes some forty transformative moves that can be made with English punctuation and syntax.  You’ll learn why a greater use of active voice constructions builds assertive energy in us, and you’ll discover how — paradoxically — cutting back on the "intensifiers" (exclamation marks and words like really and absolutely) heightens our awareness of the world.

Table of Contents
  • Grammar to Take Life in Hand
  • Grammar for Creative Passivity
  • Grammar for Belonging
  • Grammar for Freedom
  • Grammar for Morale
  • Grammar for Mindfulness
  • Grammar for the End

Kiss My Asterisk: A Feisty Guide to Punctuation and Grammar ~ by Jenny Baranick, 2014, English language

Grammar has finally let its hair down!  Unlike uptight grammar books that overwhelm us with every single grammar rule, Kiss My Asterisk covers only the most important bits.  Its lessons, which are free of complicated grammar jargon, have been carefully selected to include today’s most common, noticeable errors — the ones that confuse our readers or make them wonder if we are, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader.  What is the proper use of an apostrophe?  When should an ellipsis be used instead of an em dash?  By spreading her remarkably user-friendly and hilarious approach to grammar, she hopes everyone will experience the satisfaction of a properly placed comma, a precisely used semicolon, and a correctly deployed en dash.

Monday, May 10, 2021

A wild Sunday around here

Forget my bear pun on Thursday.  We had a REAL bear in our area yesterday.  How would you like to see a wild bear in your yard?  But what do we expect when we take over their habitat?  The bear was probably looking for food.  The tree it climbed was in Richmond Heights, near the Galleria.  It was captured peacefully.  The bear had neighbors talking on NextDoor.  You can read all about it here and here:

"The state’s black bear management plan says there are an estimated 540 to 840 black bears in the state as of 2019, and that the bear population is growing."

Addendum 5/13/21

I got a notification that Teri Peterson had tagged me in the RevGal e-reader and found this:  "RevGal Writings . . . This week we have a wide variety of writing in our community.  First of all, Bonnie had a bear!"  Oops!  I failed to say that the photos are not MY photos, but I did say that the bear "was in our area."  Not in my yard, but within two or three miles of my retirement center (I live on the 6th floor of a ten-story building).  The bear was traversing the St. Louis suburbs, and the photos came from the neighborhood listserv.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Demolition north of the Crown Center

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 ~ from across the street ~ looking northwest

Saturday, May 1, 2021 ~ looking northeast ~ west section gone

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 ~ from the side entrance to Crown Center

Friday, May 7, 2021 ~ removing the rubble of the demolished building

My neighbor Sharon took this from her north-facing window of the Crown Center.

Added on Monday, May 10, 2021 ~ clearing the rubble will take a long, long time.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Beginning ~ with a serious conversation

"Oh, gosh, is that the time?  Sorry, I have to go," the man mumbled evasively, as he stood up and reached for his bag.

"Eh?" the woman said.

She glared with uncertainty.  She hadn't heard him say it was over.  But he had called her — his girlfriend of three years — to come out for a serious conversation . . . and now he had suddenly announced he was going to work in America.  He was to leave immediately — in a few hours.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold ~ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot, 2019, time travel fiction (Japan)
If you could go back, who would you want to meet?  In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years.  Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee — the chance to travel back in time.  Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey.  But time travel isn't so simple, and there are rules that must be followed.  Most important, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.  This novel explores the age-old question:  What would you change if you could travel back in time?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A bear splashing water ~ and maybe a chuckle

What’s a wet bear called?  A drizzly bear.
I can barely bear sharing such a silly pun.  (See what I did there?)

Word of the Day
pun / noun = joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.  Example:  "A calendar's days are numbered."
"Reading while sunbathing makes you well red."

"Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana."  Groucho Marx

"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."  Mark Twain

Clawdia says
she is "feline groovy."

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Editing Blooper of the Day

Someone wrote — in a published article — about a dog as the "newest edition to their family."  English words can be confusing.  It sounds like they were editing their family, rather than adding to it.

The two words "addition" and "edition" are homophones.  That means they sound the same, but the meanings are very different.  The dog was added to their family, so the correct word should have been "addition."  See more examples on the right ----->  Sometimes three words are homophones.  They sound alike, but they are spelled differently and mean three different things.  Here are some examples:
rays — raze — raise
there  they're — their
rite — write — right
peddle — petal — pedal

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


"Take a step towards an important goal, however small."  That's the suggestion for May 4th on the Meaningful May calendar.  I signed up to exercise together in a Zoom class, and it starts today.  Would you call this "a step towards an important goal"?  My goal is to stay as healthy as possible, even in my 80s.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Mulling mathematics on Monday

After telling you NINE is my favorite number, look what I found — a clock whose only numbers are 9s.  Thanks to my Facebook friend Jean, who shared it with friends.  Now I want a mathematician to explain to me the equation in 5th place with an exclamation mark following the square root of 9.  That never came up in my math classes.  All I've found by googling is that the exclamation mark is the "factorial operator."  I can see that it doubles the square root of 9, but how does it work?  Okay, I revised my question and got an answer:

Q:  What does a factorial operator do in math?
A:  Factorial, in mathematics, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to a given positive integer and denoted by that integer and an exclamation point. Thus, factorial seven is written 7!, meaning 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 × 5 × 6 × 7.

So the square root of 9 equals 3.  The factorial of 3 means 1 × 2 × 3 = 6.  And 9 over 9 = 1.  So 6 - 1 = 5.  Yay, I got it!  The other numbers are pretty simple.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Meaningful May

The Meaningful May Calendar is from the folks at Action for Happiness, who say:
This month's theme is all about reflecting on what gives our life meaning.  Being a part of something bigger than ourselves and focusing on things that we value is key to our wellbeing.  So let's take time to reflect on what we care about this month and keep these things at the front of our minds as our societies begin to open up again.
May 1 ~ Make a list of what matters most to you and why.
May 2 ~ Do something kind for someone you really care about.
May 3 ~ Focus on what you can do rather than what you can't do.
May 4 ~ Take a step towards an important goal, however small.
May 5 ~ Send your friend a photo from a time you enjoyed together.
May 6 ~ Look for people doing good and reasons to be cheerful.
May 7 ~ Let someone know how much they mean to you and why.
May 8 ~ Set yourself a kindness mission to help others today.
May 9 ~ Notice the beauty in nature, even if you're stuck indoors.
May 10 ~ What values are important to you?  Find ways to use them today.
May 11 ~ Be grateful for the little things, even in difficult times.
May 12 ~ Listen to a favorite piece of music; remember what it means to you.
May 13 ~ Look around for things that bring you a sense of awe and wonder.
May 14 ~ Find out about the values or traditions of another culture.
May 15 ~ Do something to contribute to your local community.
May 16 ~ Look up at the sky.  Remember we are all part of something bigger.
May 17 ~ Show your gratitude to people who are helping to make things better.
May 18 ~ Find a way to make what you do today meaningful.
May 19 ~ Send a hand-written note to someone you care about.
May 20 ~ Reflect on what makes you feel valued and purposeful.
May 21 ~ Share photos of three things you find meaningful or memorable.
May 22 ~ Find a way to help a project or charity you care about.
May 23 ~ Share a quote you find inspiring to give others a boost.
May 24 ~ Recall three things you've done that you are proud of.
May 25 ~ Make choices that have a positive impact for others today.
May 26 ~ Ask someone else what matters most to them and why.
May 27 ~ Remember an event in your life that was really meaningful.
May 28 ~ Focus on how your actions make a difference for others.
May 29 ~ Do something special and revisit it in your memory tonight.
May 30 ~ Today do something to care for the natural world.
May 31 ~ Find three reasons to be hopeful about the future.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Beginning ~ with our chores

Beginning lines
What are care tasks and why are they so hard for people?  Our care tasks are the "chores" of life:  cooking, cleaning, laundry, feeding, dishes, and hygiene.  These may seem like simple or noncomplex tasks to most.  When you actually break down the amount of time, energy, skill, planning, and maintenance that go into our care tasks, we begin to see that they are not always simple.
How to Keep House While Drowning: 31 Days of Compassionate Help ~ by KC Davis, 2020, self-help
Why is it so hard for me to stay on top of my housework?  This book will introduce you to six life-changing principles that will revolutionize the way you approach home care — without endless to-do lists.  Presented in 31 daily thoughts, this compassionate guide will help you begin to get free of the shame and anxiety you feel over home care.  You will learn:
  • How to shift your perspective of care tasks from moral to functional.
  • How to stop negative self-talk and shame around care tasks.
  • How to give yourself permission to rest, even when things aren’t finished.
  • How to motivate yourself to care for your space.
KC Davis, licensed professional counselor and mother of two, says:  "I birthed my second baby in a new city right as the world shut down from COVID-19.  Without access to a support network for months on end, I used every tool in my therapy training arsenal and created a self-compassionate way to address my stress, depression, and ever-mounting laundry pile.  After sharing this unique approach on social media, I gained hundreds of thousands followers within a few months.  I realized the shame over not being able to keep up with housework is universal, and that’s why I wrote this book."

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

You've been ratioed

Word of the Day #1
ratio / 'reɪʃiəʊ / noun = the relationship between two groups of people or things that is represented by two numbers showing how much larger one group is than the other.  Example:  "The ratio of applications to available places currently stands at a hundred to one (100:1)."
Word of the Day #2
ratioed / 'reɪʃiəʊd / verb = on Twitter, getting ratioed is when replies to a tweet vastly outnumber likes or retweets.
According to Urban Dictionary, being ratioed (sometimes spelled "ratio'd") is when a reply to a tweet gets more likes than the tweet it was replying to.  That usually indicates the unpopularity or stupidity of the original tweet.  Example:  "You got 12 likes, and his reply got 271 likes?  He totally ratioed you, bro."

How did I run across this word — for the first time ever, I might add — since I'm not on Twitter?  I read it on Colleen's blog, because she shared something she had seen on Twitter:  "I know I’m going to get ratioed for this but I miss the two spaces after a period."  I still use two spaces after every period here on my blog, because that's the way I was taught to do it in my typing classes back in the 1950s.  So I looked up the word, even though Colleen gave one definition.  Have you ever heard "ratioed" before?

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Two questions for TWOsday

Question #1
Google says it's 450 miles from Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee to my current home in St. Louis, Missouri. How far away do you live from the place you were born?

Question #2
What does my favorite number (nine) have to do with my birthday yesterday?  I turned 81, so let's play with the numbers.  First, 8+1=9.  Also, the square root of 81 is 9, which means 9x9=81.  The 450 miles in #1 adds up to nine, too.  4+5+0=9.  I had Sum fun on 09/09/09.    Yes, it's weird for an English major to also love playing with numbers.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Music makers, bookish thoughts, and a challenge

Decades ago, I bought this 6-hole cedar flute in Cherokee, North Carolina.  I've added the beaded feathers to the green felt bag.  Sheila and I were talking about music and musical instruments recently, and I told her about my flute and my kalimba.

Donna gave me this kalimba many years ago.  Clawdia is in the picture because she wanted to play with (not play) the kalimba when I put it on the bed to snap a picture.  It's a small thumb piano with only a single octave on it, unlike the larger mbira also pictured in this blog post from last year.

I'll be reading children's books next week, when these books on hold at my library are delivered:
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus ~ by Dusti Bowling, 2017
  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus ~ by Dusti Bowling, 2019
  • Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer ~ by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan, 2021

Your challenge
If you think your English is good,
I challenge you to write any word
that starts with C and ends with E

One last thought

Saturday, April 24, 2021

My favorite independent bookstore

Tell us about your local bookstore.
Is it an independent bookstore?  Or not?  An independent bookstore (also known as an indie bookseller) is a bookstore that is not controlled by a larger bookseller chain.  I have two bookstores nearby, both within walking distance, but they are chain stores:  Half-Price Books is a block north, and Barnes & Noble is a couple of blocks south.  The indie bookstore I loved the most closed down in 2006.

Book Buddies is my own personal favorite indie bookstore, even though it lasted only two years.  Donna and I opened it in late 2004 — and named it for our book friends all over the world who had been discussing Oprah's books online.  This little sign was beside our back door to the parking lot.  Support independent bookstores, or they cannot survive.

Friday, April 23, 2021

24-hour Readathon

Anne at My Head Is Full of Books has put a twist on Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon.  She plans to read 24 hours during the weekend, rather than all in one day, rather than stay up all night.  I will stick with Dewey's twenty-four hours, but I'm sharing Anne's option in case you are interested.  Here's where you sign up to take part.  I'll post my updates on this page, if you want to follow my progress.  Meanwhile, here's a Bingo game for ya!

Opening Survey

1)  What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  St. Louis, Missouri
2)  Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland.  It's a library book I need to return.
3)  Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Triscuits and French onion with bacon dip.  I like salty foods, but they aren't good for my heart and blood pressure.  That's why this is a treat today.
4)  Tell us a little something about yourself.  I'm retired and able to do this regularly.  My cat Clawdia is catnapping the day away and letting me read.
5)  If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?  Although the first 24-Hour Readathon I took part in was in 2007, when Dewey herself was in charge (see Dewey's comments), I haven't participated every year.  I've always enjoyed doing the mini-challenges, but this year I plan to spend my time reading.

Closing Survey           

1)  How would you assess your reading overall?  I didn't do nearly as much reading as I thought I'd do.
2)  Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?  I'm not into "strategy" for reading.  I simply planned to read.  Since reading is what I do most days anyway, I guess I wasn't as inspired as I might have been in other years.  But the reason I read is to enjoy a book, not to achieve a reading goal.
3)  What was your favorite snack?  Talking about snacks during a READ-a-thon has always struck me as irrelevant.  What's snacking got to do with it?  If I'm hungry, I eat.  Period.
4)  Wanna volunteer for our next event?  Nah, I think this was probably the last time I'll bother with this readathon.  What's the point?  It was more fun back when Dewey was doing it, back in the olden days when we were all book bloggers.  Now it's spread out over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, and there's no cohesion now.

Word of the Day
co·he·sion / kōˈhēZHən / noun = the action or fact of forming a united whole.  Example:  "Dewey's Readathon lacks the cohesion it once had."