Weird Words, Part 13

My trusty but ancient (1972) edition of this dictionary did not have any of the words I used in this installment of “Weird Words.” I am so disappointed.


Just the other day I had this clue in a crossword puzzle: “not completely whack-a-doodle.” The answer they wanted was “sane.”

Until that moment, I’d never heard that word before. I know, you are probably thinking I’ve led a sheltered life. In some ways, I probably have.

I checked out the definition online and had this to say: “Wackadoodle describes someone or something as eccentric, wrongheaded, bizarre, or foolish, generally in an amusing way and with a mildly dismissive tone.”

Every now and then, I run across a word that I think must surely be a relatively recent addition to the English language. If you are talking about “blog” or “MacGyver,” “manspreading,” or “butt-dial,” you’d be right.

I thought for sure whack-a-doodle would be on that list. However, also had this to impart:  “Wackadoodle ultimately comes from wacky. In the mid-1800s England, a wacky, or whacky, was a fool, simpleton, or left-handed person (how rude). It might be from whack, “a blow or strike,” implying the person has been hit over the head a few too many times.” I love a sense of humor in what would ordinarily probably be considered a staid publication.

So it seems wackadoodle has been around for quite a while. Who knew?


That same crossword puzzle also had the clue: “Whoop-____-doo, one word.” I thought for sure the answer was “tee,” but they wanted “dee.”

Apparently, there are a lot of different ways to spell it and not all are hyphenated: whoop-t-doo and whoop dee doo are just a couple.

The Urban Dictionary had this to say:  “A sarcastic way to express joy or pleasure, when truly your [sic] feeling the exact opposite.

Merriam-Webster says that whoop-de-do is noisy and exuberant or attention getting activity. says it (same spelling) is lively or noisy festivities or merrymaking.

And defines it (also same spelling) as a commotion or frenzy of activity or excitement.

The last three seem to agree that it’s all about getting het up about something.

Sometimes origins of words can be unclear. Well, I guess it’s actually more like frequently than sometimes. had this to say:  “whoop (v.) mid-14c., houpen, partly imitative, partly from Old French huper, houper “to cry out, shout,” also imitative. It is attested as an interjection from at least mid-15c. Spelling with wh- is from mid-15c. The noun is recorded from c. 1600. Phrase whoop it up “create a disturbance” is recorded from 1881. Expression whoop-de-do is recorded from 1929. Whooping cough (1739) is now the prevalent spelling of hooping cough; whooping crane is recorded from 1791.”

I really like Etymonline … most of the time. But honestly, this one is kind of all over the place and not really very satisfying. And none of the other discussion panels or sites claiming to know the origin were all that enlightening.

So my best guess is that the dee-doo was added to whoop (to cry out, shout) as an intensifier. That’s all I’ve got on that.


I don’t know when I first came across this word. It’s been in my vocabulary for quite a long time. I don’t use it often, but I like the sound of it. My husband never hangs up his bath towel neatly so maybe I’ll have to try this on him: “Hey, sweetie. Fix that bath towel. It’s all whopperjawed.” Maybe not.

There are so many sites online wherein you might find the definitions of words. I thought I had found them all but when looking into whopperjawed, I found a new one: They had this to say:  “(Adult / Slang) 1) Askew, crooked, off-center, sideways, not right, messed-up. 2) Having a projecting lower jaw.

The Urban Dictionary looks at it two different ways, sort of. For the spelling whopperjawed, it says crooked or off-center. When spelling it with a hyphen (whopper-jawed), they define it as “Anything misalligned [sic] or moved out of or away from where it is supposed to be. Usually two objects that normally fit together in one manner that for some reason no longer do so.” [the hyperlinks are theirs and not mine]

Most of the references I found mention things being out of alignment. Only the one defined it as a projecting  lower jaw. But if you think about it that would most likely be the literal meaning of the word. So the origin of the word really shouldn’t be much of a mystery if you go with the last definition. But how did we get to askew? indicates that the origin of the word is fairly elusive. But it offers this:  “As you’d expect with such an elusive word, the origin of “whopperjawed” is a bit hazy, but the key appears to lie in what is evidently the original form of the term, “wapper-jawed.” This was pretty clearly a development of a much older (16th century) term, “wapper-eyed,” meaning someone who either blinked a lot or whose eyes rolled indicating dizziness.

Wapper-eyed,” in turn, rested on the obsolete English dialect verb “wapper,” meaning “to blink” or “to move unsteadily” (“Wapper-eyed, goggle-eyed, having full rolling Eyes; or looking like one scared; or squinting like a Person overtaken with Liquor,” 1746). The verb “to wapper” may be related to the Dutch “wapperen,” meaning “to swing, oscillate, or waver,” and may also be related to our modern English verb “to wave.””

It all seems a bit loose to me. But it’s like that with so many words. We take them for granted. We often think we know what they mean. And then someone comes along and explains how that’s not what the word originally meant. Take awful for example. It used to mean something that filled a person with awe.

So I guess it’s about time I took my whackadoodle self in hand and finished up this whooperjawed post. Oh whoop-de-doo.

The Many Misadventures of Tall Guy and Short Gal

It’s done. Well as done as it can be at this point. What I mean is, it’s ready for my first readers to read it. I hope. It ended up longer than I thought it might. So I think it just barely qualifies to be a novel. I’m going with that.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited. I always get excited at this point. Then, later, comes the anxiety. I’m laughing at myself.

I’ve already started setting it up on Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ve designed the cover and worked on what I hope is a smoking book description for the Amazon page.

While my first readers are going through the book and pointing out to me all the blatant errors that I have somehow missed in my many re-readings, I will be moving on to the next project: finally finishing the sequel to “Millie’s Adventures in Time.”

It’s high time we found out what our intrepid Millie and all her friends have been up to. I’m sure it’s been amazing.


There’s a point in the life of a free-stone peach where it is just ripe enough that the skin will pull off easily in one piece.

You quarter the peach first and pull out the pit. You grab an end of the skin between your thumb and your paring knife. You gently and smoothly pull off the skin.

If you wait too long and the peach becomes a little too ripe, the skin becomes fragile. It gets so delicate that no matter the amount of care you use, it is impossible to pull it off in one piece.

And so, the time-saving nature of the free-stone peach as compared to the cling peach is lost.

Timing is everything.

Losing Bonfire

This was taken on June 9, 2020 before he started losing weigh faster and declining more rapidly. This was his favorite spot to sit and take in the fresh air and a little sunshine

Bonfire was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, most generous soul I have ever known.

When my mother died, she wanted to get rid of Dad’s stuff. She said it was too painful to keep because it reminded her of him and her loss.

But I think it’s the other way around. It’s the absence of all that stuff that makes his absence all the more real.

Bonfire was the best cat we ever had. Nothing much fazed him. Big dogs, little dogs, all kinds of people. He took it all in stride. He had more self-confidence than I’ll ever have.

I remember the first time he met Maddie. She came with her foster humom for a look-see to determine if we would be a good home for her. Bonfire fell in love with her the moment he laid eyes on her. He followed her around as she investigated our house. He wanted to be close to her.

Bonfire had absolute faith in Bernd and me. He trusted us with a trust that was intimidating and extremely humbling. We could do anything with him and he never worried or complained.

Maybe that trust gave him confidence or maybe he came by it naturally. But I think that he figured Maddie must be fine if we’d let her into our house.

Maddie gave him joy. I think he was happier for having Maddie in his life. I’m happy that we could do that for him but sad that they had such a short time together.

Maddie likes to be covered with blankets or pillows. Bonfire liked to lie on pillows. So this happened quite often. Maddie wasn’t always happy about it, but Bonfire loved it and would often put out a paw to touch her and then let it rest there.

We got Bonfire as a second-hand, maybe third-hand cat. The woman who no longer wanted him had no idea of his history or his age. I brought him home on November 26, 2012. Maddie came to live with us on December 30, 2017. Bonfire died on August 28, 2020.

He wasn’t with us nearly long enough. Not even close.

I spent the rest of the day, after we got home from the vet, laundering the bed sheets because they smelled like a sick cat. We cleaned out the coat closet in the utility room that was his private toilet. I put away his toys.

I made the bed.

He’d been so ill and weak that he spent almost all his time on our bed. So I never made it. I put extra pillows on the bed to make a “fort” for him. He would lie in various positions, trying to find some comfort for his bony little body or a place to rest his head so he didn’t have to hold it up while keeping an eye on me and Bernd and Maddie.

I hadn’t actually made the bed in a couple of months. I got used to glancing into the bedroom at the unmade bed every time I went by to see that Bonfire was still with us.

Now, I glance in there out of habit. Every time I go by. He’s not there and the bed is made.

He’s gone. He’s really gone.

This is the last photo we took of him on August 22, 2020. He still looked not too bad. By the 28th, he looked awful, could barely stand and we knew it was time.

But he will never be forgotten.


Burning wax candles realistic set Royalty Free Vector Image

Some anniversaries are cause for celebration. Some are cause for regret. Some are unremarkable and pass by without notice.

Birthdays are great. Wedding anniversaries can go either way. I’m just saying.

I don’t really know why we put such stock in the passage of one year. Or why we have to commemorate in some way the things that happen to us. I’m just going to chalk it up to human nature. We have a tendency to look for significance. Something to take us out of the ordinary for a little while.

“Special” is a two-edged sword.

Three years ago on this date, a horse tried to kick me to death. He almost succeeded.

This is not an anniversary that I celebrate. And I have a lot of regrets surrounding the whole thing.

But, you know, on the whole, my life is good enough and I’m just happy to still be living it.

Maddie and Me. Just ignore the bag of poop in my right hand. Deb Mayne took this photo. Maddie has her attention of Deb because she frequently has dog treats. The accident caused me to give up horses. We got Maddie once I felt rehabilitated enough. Good things can come out of bad things.

Writing Feelings

A far amount of writing fiction is about the mechanics of writing. It’s important to get the spelling of words right. Good grammar is also essential. And then you also have to put words together into your sentences so that they make sense and don’t confuse your reader.

Beyond all that are the story and the characters.

You might think that all you have to do is create a cast of interesting characters and put them into compelling situations and you are done. But in my opinion, you would be wrong.

For me, writing is an emotional endeavor. I find that to write convincingly about what a character is feeling, I have to imagine myself feeling that emotion. And the imagining more often than not leads to actually feeling the emotion.

It can be exhausting.

And when I find that I have run out of enough energy to continue “feeling” for my characters, I have to stop writing. I wonder at those times how it is for other authors.

Because my stories are so deeply character-driven, perhaps it is a little more so for me than for authors of, say, action-adventure type of novels. But I can’t help thinking that all authors have to really feel what they are writing about in order to write about it effectively.

Luckily, sometimes all I need is a short break. Other times, I might not write again for days. And that bothers me because if I wish to make this my job, then I have to approach it as I would any job. And that means spending time at it at least five days a week.

The times when my own emotions are running strong because of life circumstances also make it difficult for me to write. And that is another thing I wonder about for other authors.

I don’t think you can write any sort of fiction without considering the emotions of your characters. So I would really like to know how all of you other authors of fiction feel about this issue and what you do to keep writing no matter what.

Book Review: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I have no idea how many times I have read “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson, Ph.D., but it’s a lot.

Carlson was a psychotherapist and motivational speaker. Sadly, he died (pulmonary embolism) on December 13, 2006. He was only 45 years old, but he found enough time to write 25 other books. Some of his other titles include “Shortcut Through Therapy” (Plume, 1995), “Don’t Worry, Make Money” (Hyperion, 1997) and “Slowing Down to the Speed of Life” (Harper Collins, 1998).

I keep the book in the magazine rack (has no actual magazines in it) beside my chair for a quick pick-me-up when I’m feeling particularly disgusted with myself, life, the universe, and everything and anything else you can think of. The book was USA Today’s bestselling book for two consecutive years, and spent over 101 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.

The advice Carlson has to offer is, in many ways, simple and yet also profound.

There are one hundred short chapters. Most are only a page or two long. The book itself is small and only about 250 pages. But Carlson packs a lot into those few pages.

He presents his thoughts with examples from his own life and the lives of others. He is cogent and non-judgmental.

I will often pick up the book and randomly flip to a chapter and read it through. Sometimes it will uncannily apply to what is going on in my life at that precise moment. At others, it is just interesting.

While Carlson touches on many different topics, the book always seems to me to have a main theme. That theme might be summed up as how to find peace and contentment in your life while increasing your compassion and understanding of the people around you.

Just today, I flipped the book open to “Chapter 60: Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama.”  He writes: “In dramatic fashion, we blow things out of proportion, and make a big deal out of little things. We forget that life isn’t as bad as we’re making it out to be. We also forget that when we’re blowing things out of proportion, we are the ones doing the blowing.

He continues with:  “I’ve found that simply reminding myself that life doesn’t have to be a soap opera is a powerful method of calming down. When I get too worked up or start taking myself too seriously (which happens more than I like to admit), I say to myself something like, ‘Here I go again. My soap opera is starting.’ Almost always, this takes the edge off my seriousness and helps me laugh at myself.”

The book is copyrighted in 1997 and while some of his solutions and suggestions might seem overly simplistic in the framework of the complicated world we find ourselves in today, I still believe it has value. I know that it has helped me throughout the years and will probably continue to help me in the future as well.

If you are looking for a little inspiration to get you through whatever sort of rough patch you find yourself in right now, I can recommend this book. If nothing else, it will take you outside of yourself for a few minutes and sometimes that is all anyone ever needs.

Daria’s Tale, Chapter 2

The view off our back deck. Seems like I always have my head in the clouds.

Recently, I posted chapter one of “Daria’s Tale,” a story I have been working on off and on for several years now. Mostly in between other projects.

I was hoping to get some feedback. I wanted to know if it is too pompous? Is it relevant? Is it at all entertaining?

The post garnered a couple of likes and one actual comment. So I decided to go ahead and post chapter two and see if I could get a little more feedback.

So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Daria’s Tale

Chapter 2: Finding what You are Looking For

“Hello. This is …”

That was all Daria heard before she hung up the phone. She let go of the handset as if it were a hot potato. She missed the body of the phone and the handset hit the counter top with a crack. Luckily, it did not actually crack.

It had taken her days just to work up the courage to place the call. Now she would just have to work up the courage to talk to the person on the other end of the connection. She wondered how many interminable days that would require. She sat for a few moments, barely breathing, with her eyes tightly shut.

When she had left the bridge several nights ago after her encounter with Andrew Nolan, she had tucked the business card he had given her into an outside pocket of her purse. Why she had even taken her purse with her that evening, she did not know. Habit probably.

It wasn’t until much later that night, when the meatloaf and mashed potatoes with asparagus on the side had been eaten and the dishes cleared and washed that she thought about the card. Her husband, Louie, was sitting in the living room watching some silly sitcom with a laugh track on the television. So she went into the bedroom and took out the card and read what was printed there for the first time: Nedra Ellsworth, Spiritual Guidance and Life Coaching. There was a phone number, email address and physical address given as well. The card was a serene blue-green color and when she turned it over, she saw that there was a mandala on the back. It smelled ever so slightly of incense. Sandalwood maybe.

It can be very difficult to find what you are looking for if you do not know exactly for what you are looking. Daria conceded that a spiritual guide might be just the thing she needed. But then the rational side of her, the one her father had tried so hard to foster, would come out and tell her it was all hogwash. She could picture him, though now long dead, standing before her and telling her that spiritual guides are charlatans and that all that bunkum was just a sleazy way to cheat people out of their hard earned cash. Or in her case, her husband’s hard earned cash.

Sitting at the breakfast bar with the windows of the dining area bright behind her, she stared at the telephone before her. She looked into her spotlessly clean kitchen with everything in its place and wondered if perhaps the bathrooms needed touching up. Or maybe it was a good day to go out into the yard and begin to clean up winter’s debris and get ready for spring to flourish. Anything but picking up the phone and dialing that number again.

Daria and Louie have a fairly traditional sort of marriage. He earns the money and she manages the household. Louie has always wanted it that way. He has a stressful job in middle management with thirty people under him and five above him. When he gets home from a difficult day at work (and to listen to him, you would think every single day was difficult), he doesn’t want to have to think about whether or not the house needs painting, if the plants need trimming or tend to some plumbing or electrical repair. He wants that all handled so he can spend a couple of hours in front of the television and then go to bed. On the weekends, he wants to play and do man-things which often do not include Daria. Daria often reflects that what he really needs is a housekeeper … but then he’d have to pay her.

Daria loves Louie and she is pretty sure he loves her. And besides, what would she do if she were to leave him. She has no skills to speak of, beyond being a housewife. She has no résumé. Who would hire her? But the thought has crossed her mind a time or two. That and the idea of getting a job of her own and money of her own. But Louie would probably never let her do that.

In a fit of uncommon resolve with any number of odd thoughts flitting through her mind, Daria picks up the handset of the phone once more and dials the number from the business card. She has decided that she definitely will talk to Nedra Ellsworth, and Louie and her father be damned.

The phone rings twice at the other end and a very pleasant and low pitched voice says, “Hello, Daria.” Daria is so shocked that she once again hangs up the phone and sits there staring at it with as much consternation and fear as if it had suddenly morphed into a hand grenade. Daria says out loud to herself, “Well, that’s it then.” And she unplugs the phone from the wall jack and heads outside to clean up the last of the fallen leaves that had not all blown away over the winter (she doesn’t believe in gathering them all up and putting them into plastic trash bags where they will do no one and no thing any good) and see what else might need tending. A couple of the bushes along the drive could use a little trimming back before the growing season takes off.

She finds that the irises are beginning to grow. She works the leaves she gathered into the soil of her small vegetable garden plot and pulls the few weeds that have sprouted. Soon, she reflects, it will be time to plant the peas and set out the tomatoes. And maybe cucumbers would be nice this year. Before she knows it, it is time to go inside, clean herself up and begin preparing dinner. Louie requested lasagna and that always takes a long time to make.

P. S. Hey, dad. I think about you all the time. Maybe not every day anymore. But especially on this day. Today marks 51 years since you departed this earth and I still miss you. Thanks for all you taught me. Love you.

Daria’s Tale

What is Enlightenment? 4 Yoga Teachers Share Their Definitions ...

There is a short novel (probably more of a novelette) that I have been working on for a number of years now. Mostly I work on it when I am between other projects.

It is a huge departure from what I normally write. But it is basically a labor of love and a longing for meaning in a world that seems intent on pressing the meaning out of everything.

The working title for it is “Daria’s Tale” for lack of inspiration for something better. It is what most people these days would call women’s fiction. It’s about change and growth. It’s about finding what matters most and seeing the mystery and wonder in the world. The wonder that is always there if we are only open to it.

I thought that I would publish the first chapter here to see what others might think of it. So if you read it, I would really like your opinion.

Thanks, in advance.

Daria’s Tale

Part One

Chapter 1:  A Reason to Be

“A penny for your thoughts.”

Daria looked over, startled, at the tall, young man standing next to her. He was wearing a grey hoodie, dark green T-shirt and blue jeans and she wondered how he had come to be standing next to her without her noticing. But then she thought to herself, she had been bound up in her own thoughts for a very long time now. And standing here, attempting to take in the view, she was no less bound. She thought that a nuclear warhead could have gone off right next to her and she might not have noticed, so deep was her contemplation.

The young man saw a bit more in her than Daria did in him. He saw a woman, older than him, maybe into middle age for a few years now. Her eyes were sad and a bit puffy. There was a tightness around her mouth that looked like it had been there for some time. And he saw resignation and quiet defeat in the set of her shoulders. She was dressed plainly with her longish hair pulled back into a severe little ponytail.

Having received no response from the woman, the tall young man repeated his first line, but this time with a bemused smile and the inflection of a question at the end, “A penny for your thoughts?”

She had written off his posture as non-threatening without realizing it and so Daria replied without looking at him, “It would be a penny wasted. They’re not even worth that to me.”

A small and fleeting frown crossed the face of the tall young man and then he smiled and enthusiastically stuck out his hand to Daria for a shake saying, “Hi, I’m Andrew Nolan. Pleased to meet you. Isn’t the view from here amazing?”

Daria stared at his hand for a moment and then thought “oh what the heck.” She took his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Daria Ingramm. Do you come here often?”

“Actually, no,” Andrew replied. “This is my first time. How about you? Do you come here often?”

“I do,” said Daria. “More often lately than in the past. This is a particularly fine time of the evening with the sun close to setting. The shadows on the buildings are striking and the golden light makes everything look … oh, I don’t know … just right somehow.”

Andrew was silent for a while and so was Daria. Then Andrew said, “Yes, I think I see what you mean.” And they both continued to stare out into the distance. Daria’s eyes, however, were focused on nothing. Andrew’s left eye was watching her surreptitiously with his peripheral vision.

After a time, Andrew said nonchalantly, “What is it you are looking for?”

Daria drew in her breath sharply and experienced a moment of deep concern. Could this stranger know?

We are all looking for something … meaning … a purpose … a reason for being. We may not always know it, but we are. We seek fulfillment in our children, our jobs, our creative endeavors. Maybe we find solace in a clean house and a neat garden. We need meaning and we need needing.

There are different levels of needing. Some need meaning more than others. For some it is akin to the need for a new pair of shoes that one just saw in the department store display. For others it is akin to the need for oxygen or food or water. For the latter, life can sometimes be a burden.

Daria didn’t really have to think about Andrew’s question. She knew what the answer was. She had been struggling with the answer for so long now that she had come to think of it as her silent friend or maybe her enemy. It was sometimes hard to tell. But could she confide in this complete stranger? In some ways that might be easier than talking to her husband or her sister about it. And besides talking about it would just make it real. Then what would she do.

She looked up and into his face without really meeting his eyes. She saw a serious young man and a kind face with no hint of superciliousness. Yet, she just did not know. This was such a hard thing for her to wrap her mind around. How could she even begin to tell someone about it? Still …

Andrew broke into her reverie, “I know someone you should meet. She might have what you need. Her name is Nedra. Nedra Ellsworth.”

Daria looked at Andrew once again and found that he was holding a business card out to her. In the fading light before the lamps came on automatically, she could not read what was printed on it. She took in a very deep breath and held it for a very long time. When she took the card from him, she expelled her breath in a rush; almost as if she had been punched in the stomach. She stood staring at the card for long moments and into her silence, Andrew said, “You do not have to do it, you know.”

There are angels and there are angels. There are people who see through you and there are people who see into you. There are people who know what they need from you and there are people who know what you need.

When Daria looked up from the card in her hand, Andrew was gone … just as silently as he had arrived. She looked out at the skyline once more and the water rushing by below the bridge and decided it was time to head home and prepare dinner. Her husband would be home soon and she had promised him meatloaf.