While I’m not anywhere with unlimited internet access, one thing I do regret is not having enough time to look at the blogs of people “liking” my posts. I’ve saved all the contact information and when I get home, I’ll start reading some of the posts I’ve seen with the intriguing titles. Can’t wait!
Archive for January, 2012
Tags: computers, dictionary, entertainment, humor, Spell Check, spelling, Wikipedia, word play, words
If you want some free fun, try misspelling words on purpose and see what spell check offers you as alternatives. In fact, if you just type some unusual (and not-so-unusual) words, you’ll be laughing as well. Foreign words are good, too. Of course, in the way of all things technological and otherwise, this will only occur while writing something, not when you merely want some entertainment. I guess when coming across words with funky, Spell Check alternatives, you could save them in a word humor file and click on them when you need some entertainment (not that I’ve done this, but it could be fun), because when you want a word that offers interesting, funny, and/or bizarre alternatives, you can be sure one won’t present itself!
If you don’t get quite close enough to your desired word, good luck. For instance, I just decided to misspell “khaki” as “kacki”. My choices are kaki (look that up on Wikipedia for diverse choices!), kicky, kick, kaka (not what you’d think), and knack. Since “kaki” is a word, good luck if you try that one first! Evidently, the “h” is vital to the spell check process. And in some sort of computer dictionary revolt, when I typed “khaki”, with a “c” for the second “k”, the computer automatically changed it, no matter what I did. Take that! Another win for the computer is that I can’t look up a word unless I’m online, but the computer can correct my words. I’m still a peon, despite my slowly increasing “mastery” of the internet and all things computer. Sad, but true.
Tags: Anguished English, books, English, grammar, Richard Lederer, slang, text speech, texting, word play, words
I’m a grammar nazi (lower case, so as not to imply anything about actual Nazis). I not only admit it, I’m OK with it. It can drive me crazy, but I try very, very hard to confine any outward sign to a sideways glance with widened eyes to a fellow grammar nazi or a partial eye roll.
Anyone enjoying the absurdities of language will enjoy “Anguished English” or anything else by Richard Lederer. We received a copy as a gift years ago and I remember reading aloud from it to my husband as we drove back from Toronto and having tears rolling down my cheeks. Another time a friend and I were in a bookstore, sitting on the floor of one of the aisles, crying with laughter as I read aloud, while other patrons gave us wide berth and a variety of looks, ranging from “What’s up with that?” to “They let all sorts in here!” Good stuff! I particularly enjoy the chapters where he cobbles together a history of the world from grammatically and historically bizarre answers mined from student history tests and classes and also the signs in other countries in fractured English. Delicious.
However, being a grammar nazi can drive me crazy, such as coming across a book today where the intended “they’re” was rendered as “there”. Another recent literary faux pas was in a paragraph where the author talked about a moat, but each time it was spelled “mote”. I couldn’t help myself. I emailed the author and after telling her how much I enjoyed her books, I mentioned that somehow this mistake had crept in and that she might get a better response from the publisher than I. I hope she did as I didn’t get one from her.
Once someone online referred to her “baited” breath, rather disgusting if you were to be around it. I emailed her privately and she was appreciative. But if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “lie” and “lay” misused or that, for example, “a gift was given to him and I” (or something similar) or at the other end of things, “Henry and me went to the store”, I’d be writing this from my villa in Provence overlooking the Mediterranean. Just remember that if you can say “I/me” by itself, you can and should say “She and I/me”. Simple, really.
Then there are the “in” abbreviations or “cute” ways of putting things, although I guess they aren’t, strictly speaking, grammar. Perhaps they would be considered slang, in the tradition of “ain’t.”. For instance, “LOL” is getting old and since I don’t text, I don’t labor under the “less letters = easier” burden. I would never call my husband my “hubster” and not just so he wouldn’t roll his eyes, and “OMG” is unlikely to ever appear in a serious context in my writing…if it can appear in any sort of serious context. For some unknown reason, my current least favorite is this, but… I. Really. Don’t. Know. Why. I will admit to a weakness for expressing incredulity by saying “Really”? And I also admit I can never remember if it should by “Really”? or “Really?” Even a grammar nazi has her moments.
Tags: baking, biscotti, children’s clothing, clothing, homemade gifts, scones, shopping, size deflation, Thrift stores
I love thrift stores. It started when our girls were little and some wonderful person told me about a thrift store with children’s clothing. It was a bit of a drive, but I made it often. Why pay lots of money for children’s clothes? Babies and small children get clothes dirty but aren’t in the same size long enough to even begin to wear them out. So a children’s thrift store is filled with all the expensive clothes that families, friends and relatives get for children who barely even wear them. These are the same clothes that are often purchased to reflect well on the family, not because the child cares; clothes that before a baby starts crawling, never even touch the ground. Some families have lots of people to participate in a hand-me-down process. We didn’t. That made the thrift store a great source of inexpensive hand-me-downs, just from other families. And speaking of not touching the ground, before our girls walked, we didn’t even get shoes for them. While the neighbor’s baby wore fancy Stride-Rights, (while being held), ours sported cute socks.
My husband is fortunate enough to work in IT, where suits are definitely not de rigueur. He wears, and wears out, polo shirts almost exclusively. When I came home from the thrift store one day many years ago with a pile of like-new shirts, he loved them, but exhorted me not to tell anyone where they’d been obtained. He liked to call them dead men’s shirts but he wore them anyway and, I’m sure, didn’t spill the secret of where they came from even when he started getting compliments. Then one day, he totted up what I was saving and became a convert. Better some new PlayStation games than new shirts from “real” stores!
Besides the substantial monetary savings, I love the thrill of finding just the right sweater, dress or pair of pants, although I admit to not shopping at many thrift stores for pants. If a store doesn’t have the pants grouped by size, I don’t even bother. I won’t go through a fifty pairs of pants, pulling up each pair, and trying to figure out the size. And since there’s been size deflation (as in I now wear smaller sizes than as a high school or college student), size isn’t altogether useful anyway. I love getting compliments on things I wear, knowing I paid very little for the clothing and I certainly have other places to use the money!
Scones and biscotti are similar to thrift store clothing. No, I don’t purchase used baked goods, but if you make them at home, they’ll win you kudos, save you an enormous amount of money, and minister to your vanity, while you’ll never have to search for the perfect gift. Go to any store or coffee shop and look at the prices of biscotti. You might find one for under $2…for one. Scones are likely to run you more than that and they’ll be full of butter/fat. However, make them at home and you’ll be trying to smother your laughter (or your annoyance) when you see the retail price.
Biscotti are some of the easiest cookies to make. My introduction to them came unexpectedly one year in my post-Christmas clean up. While folding some papers for recycling from a package that my sister-in-law had sent, my eyes fell on two biscotti recipes—chocolate chip and almond. They looked pretty simple, so I tried them. Bit hit! I’ve regularly given our younger daughter’s Japanese teacher an entire batch for Christmas and even taught her to make them herself. She hasn’t figured out how to keep them away from her husband and children yet, but that’s not my problem. And I’ve added a black forest biscotti recipe to the mix, filled with dark chocolate chips and Montmorency dried cherries. Yum! And the easy part? Put wet and dry ingredients together, shape into a loaf, bake about half an hour, cool ten minutes, cut, and bake again. Do something else during the initial baking. Voila!
Scones are just as easy to make and even faster. Get the dry ingredients ready the night before and you can have a batch made and out of the oven in about 15-20 minutes, to rave reviews. Have to admit that I only use one recipe, from a Moosewood cookbook, because it’s made with whole wheat pastry flour and only 1/3 of a cup of oil for the entire batch of 12 scones. I added dark chocolate chips to the original tart, dried cherries (in honor of the biscotti—or maybe it was vice versa—who can remember?) No matter; they taste amazing, go perfectly with a cup of tea, and are pretty healthy, too. Tough combination to beat.
Gorgeous clothes at seriously low prices and delicious, healthy (or at the very least not unhealthy), easy treats also at seriously low prices. What’s not to like? And you can gloat the entire time! Just be humble when your friends compliment you. And enjoy your cuppa!
Tags: cancer, husbands, optimism, statistics
My husband has stage 3 papillary thyroid cancer.
There. Does it look or feel any different when down in black and white? I don’t know. How does it really feel? I guess it depends on the day or the time of day. Mornings before I get up and nights before I go to sleep are the most likely times for negative feelings to try to grab me. Daytime is usually busy enough to keep my mind otherwise occupied or at least occupied in positive ways.
Overall, I’m optimistic. I generally am. The statistically odds are greatly in our favor and of all the cancers there are, this seems to be about the “best” one to have if you have to have one. Of course, as with all statistics, there is the fact that a number of someones are the other statistics, the ones that don’t do so well. I choose to believe that my husband will be one of the good statistics, the ones where once the thyroid is gone and treatment completed, the cancer is also gone. And it’s likely to be so.
Sometimes the little niggling thoughts about other scenarios get hold of me, my optimism not quite slick enough that they all just fall away while scrabbling for purchase in my mind. The “what if’s”.
“What if’s” tend to be negative. I take them out, examine them in the cold light of my mostly optimistic mind, pray about them and leave them to the Lord. That’s what He’s there for. I’m here to support my husband and daughters, take care of my part of business and things in two houses, watch the finances and keep my spirits up. That’s enough to keep my occupied. And I’ll be smacking those “what if’s” every time one pops up.
Tags: Arizona, grammar, synonyms, vacation, words
It’s mid-January and I luxuriate on a lounge chair in the warm Arizona sun under a mostly cloudless sky. At home, there’s snow on the ground and single digits on the thermometer, a fact that increases my enjoyment and appreciation of the warmth of the sun.
I love words! The meanings of synonyms may be similar, yet the nuances make the choice of word important. Do I lie in the sun (a bit boring), relax in the sun (refreshing), nap in the sun (even more refreshing and lazy), luxuriate (more of a treat) or bask in the sun (maybe a hint of self-satisfaction in the enjoyment)? And just to be clear, as well as grammatically correct, I do not “lay” in the sun (at least not in the present tense), even though I may lay down in the sun.
Today I luxuriate. I want to read but the winter sun, off to the side, is too bright to read for long. Compounding the problem, I need my reading glasses but then the sun’s too bright and my dark glasses aren’t prescription.
So I read a bit, then close my eyes, lie back and bask, lying in the sun, luxuriating in the opportunity to relax. No nap. But when it’s finally time to go in, I stretch cat-like, before leaving the warm lounge chair in the Arizona sun.
Just a quick update…I’m visiting my parents in sunny, warm Arizona but though you’ll find this difficult to believe, they don’t have a computer or internet access. That means I only have access at the library or a coffee shop. I plan to write offline and keep blogging, but it might be a bit sporadic until the beginning of February.
Tags: dog de bordeaux, dogs, For the Love of Pits, foster dogs, rescue dogs, squirrels
Bernie was another rescue dog we were privileged to know. His owners moved, leaving him locked in the garage. Somehow he chewed his way out, was found by a neighbor and returned to the garage. He got out again and Shana, founder of For The Love of Pits, rescued him. But she and her husband already had a number of dogs at their home so Bernie was living in the their garage.
The weather was cold and although Shana provided heaters for the garage, she was concerned about Bernie and since Janie was no longer with us, asked if we could take him for about a week, until his new owner was ready for him. We said yes and went to their house to meet him.
Bernie was actually poised between life and death at that time. Shana was concerned because he tended to jump up, hitting a person in the head if you weren’t careful. When you have a rescue devoted to pit bulls, every dog you sent out comes under intense scrutiny, both as a representative of the breed and for the credibility of the rescue. And if you have a dog with a head the size of a small child and that dog’s likely to jump up into someone, that’s a problem.
Since Bernie’s part dog de bordeaux, he’s not a small dog and he has a large, hard head. He didn’t get a chance to be out much during the day, so when he got out in the fenced back yard, all he wanted to do was chase down and bring back the ball. He would fly over the grass, grab the ball or, if he didn’t get it right away, run madly after it, then tear back with it in his mouth. \Naturally your simple but necessary job was to throw it again. And again. And again. And….well, you get the idea. But when you bent down to get it or if you didn’t throw it right away again, he might jump up, something you didn’t want to happen. We thought that he was just jumping up in excitement, encouraging whoever had the ball to throw it, not out of meanness, so we said we’d be glad to take him.
Bernie was a great dog but he had a few disconcerting quirks. The first, more easily remedied, was that he had no sense of personal space but did have a huge love of being near people. Consequently, whenever we sat down, there came Bernie’s large, hard head trying to get right into our laps, where he could gaze soulfully into our faces and put thoughts of things geared to doggy enjoyment straight into our brains. Only one thing to do. We immediately began to sit with the leg nearest Bernie either up on the other knee or outstretched so he had to respect our space. At first, he’d just drop that big old head on our leg, but he quickly began to get the idea.
But the quirk that caused the most difficulties was that he obsessed about squirrels. I’m not talking about a casual interest! He was obsessive-compulsive about squirrels. Whenever he’d see one, he would try to stop and he would stare intently at it. He would then put his considerable weight into the leash, straining toward the oblivious squirrel and then he would start making sounds. They would be quiet at first but eventually he’d be almost screaming at the squirrel which, in true squirrel fashion, would either ignore him or seem to taunt him, knowing full well that unless Bernie was loose, not a thing was going to happen. It was quite a sight…and sound!
Janie was reactive to other dogs, but you can generally see another dog coming and either turn around or take appropriate, distracting action. But with squirrels? No way! They’re everywhere and worse still, we had a family of about seven of the formerly little, now full-grown, rascals who resided in the trees in our yard. Hey, it’s home and they were not leaving for anyone!! After all, now many dogs can climb a tree. So when it was time to go out for a walk or bathroom break, we’d peer out, hoping that no squirrels were in sight and either wait or slip out as quickly as possible, depending upon the what we saw.
But Bernie was a master at squirrel spotting. As soon as he got outside, he would scan the yard. OK, that’s normal. But if he didn’t see any in the yard, he would transfer his gaze to the trees and look all around for squirrels there. I kid you not! This was a squirrel-obsessed dog who was willing to put his all into the quest for his quarry. While walking, he did the same things and even though he liked treats, we never found a treat sufficiently enticing to work at distracting his attention from a tempting squirrel.
There are people who think that putting a dog in a crate is mean. But dogs tend to like crates. They like small, cozy spots that have soft, cushy blankets in them and if they’re really lucky, also some sort of deliciously stinky bone. Not all dogs like to go into their crates, even though they enjoy them once they’re inside. But Bernie loved his crate and during the day would go in, lie down and sleep, sometimes in hilarious positions. It was his spot and he loved it. He also enjoyed, just as Janie before him, lying under the counter in the kitchen right in front of the heat vent. No dummies, they.
Although the first foster didn’t work out, Bernie eventually found a home and had his name changed to Satchmo, maybe for his singing the squirrel song. Who knows? He’s living happily in his forever home and we’re richer (and have more good stories) for having known him even briefly.
Tags: Christmas, garbage men, local economy, Phoenix Coffee, tipping
When it comes to tipping for Christmas, you can find advice on how much to tip everyone from your hair stylist to your personal trainer, all the “important” people in your life. But what about garbage men? Have you ever seen any advice on what to tip them? In fact, have you ever thought about tipping them?
If your personal trainer didn’t show up, you could conceivably work out on your own. Yes, admit it, you could, even though you might not like it as much. If your newspaper carrier stopped slinging the paper onto your wet driveway, where water seeps in and tries to turn the paper back to the original pulp, you could always buy a copy somewhere. But what if the garbage man did come by? What happens then?
You can see the results if you look at somewhere like NYC when there’s a garbage strike and they aren’t pretty. There are places where you might be able to take your garbage to the dump but not most places. And even if organized crime is involved in transporting garbage, they’re unlikely to send some of their family to pick your up if the garbage men aren’t working.
Before I decided to start doing something for this hard-working guys, the guys we had were doing such a good job that I called the company and gave them a compliment. I think the woman I spoke to was totally taken aback because I wasn’t calling to complain. And she obviously passed on the compliment because the following week I happened to be near the window when the guys arrived at our house. They pointed to the house, then carefully put the cans back with lids on before moving on and our cans were set back carefully for a long time afterwards.
Back to Christmas. I decided that I would get gift cards from Phoenix Coffee, our local coffeehouse mini-chain in the Cleveland area. That way I could help the local economy as well. But how to be sure the guys got them? I put a note on top of one of the garbage cans, telling them to come to the house to get a Christmas gift, then made sure I was around. It was so much fun. They read the note, looked at the house, dumped the garbage and came to the house, bringing the cans with them. It was probably the high point of their day. And again, even though I didn’t do it for that reason, I got continued good service from them.
I’ve kept to do this each year, although I’m never sure how many people will show up. One year, even though one guy does the work each week, there were four guys there the week of Christmas and I had only three cards. I don’t think they minded. But most Christmases it’s one or two and I have enough cards.
So as you consider your Christmas gifts to those closest and most important to you, consider the lowly garbage man, without whom your life would really stink!
Crazy Mama. That was her name, either from where she was fighting or from the people who rescued her in Biloxi. You can see the scars, although Megan said some of them are just scabs and will hopefully fade when they heal. She’s very curious. Megan told me when she opened the fridge and then closed it, Mama went up and looked at it. She’s probably never been in a house before, so everything will be new to her. When the people who brought her the last lap left, she went and sat by the door, facing it, evidently thinking (hoping) they would come back.
Needless to say, she’s very emotionally needy and follows Megan around all the time. Much like having a child! I used to sing a little song to the girls when I would zip down to the basement to do laundry or something and didn’t want them to worry. The song was “I’ll be right back, I’ll be right back” over and over to a little tune I made up. Maybe Megan can sing that to Mama.
Being from the south, Mama maybe less than thrilled about going outside in the cold, although today’s high was a balmy day in the low 40′s. Wednesday there’s a temperature drop in the forecast so until her new doggie coat arrives, the walks may be short. But since she has heartworm issues, I don’t know how much she’s supposed to do yet anyway. I can’t wait to see how cute she’ll look in her coat. Janie had a coat that was too big and look hilarious when she went out but it certainly didn’t impede her long, rapid walks in conditions that ensured we’d be the only two out.
Mama will be safe, warm and loved now. She’s a lucky girl!