Weird Words 4

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1973 edition


And no, it isn’t edible and I haven’t forgotten how to spell (the French seem to have a much harder time spelling than I do). You are probably thinking of “pilaf” and it usually has the word “rice” in front of it.

The horse world is just chock full of weird words. Many of them are French if you are working in dressage. It looks like pee-affy, but that is not how it is said. I shouldn’t really get down on the French and their spelling, after all we have words like knight and caught and limb. And we don’t say k-niggit, k-ow-g-t, or lim-b.

Piaffe is French in origin, as you might have guessed from my earlier comments, and is most commonly spoken pee-aff, but I have also heard it said pee-off. I suppose that is what you might be if your horse doesn’t perform it properly in competition. Or maybe no. There is a saying:  there are no bad horses, only bad owners. I think you could substitute “rider” for “owner.” That would certainly have been my case. But I worked hard and I got better. When my horse would do something I didn’t want her to do, I would ask myself what I did wrong. I’d like to think other riders are as considerate.

Piaffe is basically a trot in place where the horse makes exaggerated movements of the front legs. There should be lots of bend in the front leg and the opposite rear leg should come off of the ground at the same time. The step (I don’t think you can really call it a gait because the horse does not cover any ground) was originally used to keep a horse warmed up and focused before battle. It’s kind of like how a city jogger will jog in place at a red traffic signal.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures from horse shows with riders in their shadbellies and top hats sitting on horses performing the piaffer and it is quite impressive. The horse manages to look very elegant. As for the riders, I’ve no quarrel with top hats, but those coats gotta go.

I like to include, here, words that I have personally used. I have not yet used piaffe in the course of a normal conversation, but I have used shadbelly (don’t even ask). You will never catch me wearing a shadbelly, of this I can assure you.


Remember those old black and white movies that they show late at night when only the insomniacs are awake? All the people talk kind of funny and the women run around in fancy gowns with cigarettes in long holders while the men wear those funny long-tailed tuxedo coats and smoke cigars. Those odd tuxedo coats that stop at the waist with a Weskit hem (if you draw a line along the bottom of a Weskit hem, it would make a “w”) and have the long, split tails hanging down the back are basically shadbellies.

It is a sad fact, but true, that not all riders are slim and fit. In my experience (oh, the poor horse) quite a few are overweight with bulging stomachs. It just seems to me that a standard show coat (looks a lot like a black blazer with shiny buttons and a short slit in the back) would be much more esthetic. I’m not saying overweight people shouldn’t ride horses (oh boy, I’m probably getting myself in trouble here), just that they shouldn’t wear shadbellies. I guess there’s no way for me express this opinion without being politically incorrect and seeming totally insensitive.

Almost forgot. I couldn’t really find any definitive etymology for this word. One entry mentioned that shad is a fish and, seriously, I don’t see how that relates.

Top Hat

Most of us know what a top hat looks like. And I’ll admit it’s not really a weird word, but I can’t help myself sometimes. Just seemed natural to go from shadbelly to top hat.

Thankfully, the horse show top hats are not nearly as tall as the classic top hat, otherwise they might provide too high of a profile and fly off the rider’s head during a speedy canter around the arena. Actually, I’ve no idea what keeps a rider’s top hat on his/her head. There are no straps visibly going under the chin as in the schooling and show helmets. But why are they called top hats?

The word top is defined as highest point, summit or crest. Your head certainly is the highest point on your body (as long as you are standing up, if you are lying down that could conceivably be your belly; I seem to be a bit fixated here). But wouldn’t that make every hat a top hat? I mean, you are not going to wear a hat on your shoulder, are you? Ooh! New fashion trend … shoulder hats … we could call them sha … okay, maybe not.

All I could find out about it (okay, so I only searched for a couple of minutes) said that the term dated from 1881 and is related to topper, which means the best of anything (first recorded in slang in 1709). Personally, I don’t see that a top hat is better than any other type of hat. Actually, they are inferior if the point is to keep your head comfortable in cold weather, though they would do a good job of keeping the sun off. Oh wait, here’s an idea and really, it just now popped into my head. Maybe they were worn to make a man appear taller because taller has always been associated with greater power and success in males. Now that makes sense to me. Top that!

As always, I’d be delighted to hear about any “weird words” that you know of or use regularly.

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Image result for eavesdropping
from Google Image Search

“… opening another office,” said one of the employees she hadn’t met yet. A smallish woman with a bit of gray in her hair who looked to be in her mid-forties.

Another employee, a bit younger than the former, she also did not yet know, who was standing at the water cooler said, “Really? I hadn’t heard that.”

“Yes,” said the first employee, “and they are planning on hiring the manager for it from within the ranks.”

She, Nancy (a fairly new hire), stopped in her tracks on her way to get a drink and get away from her desk for a while. The fake potted fig shielded her from the view of the other two employees while her mind worked furiously. She backed quietly away and went back to her desk.

It’s not that Nancy wasn’t grateful for her job. In these lean times, jobs … good paying jobs … are really hard to find. But she always figured that her talents were wasted sitting at a desk all day. And frankly that crappy little task chair they gave her was making her back cranky. And the man, Tim, who worked in the next cubicle wore way too much cologne and she had a headache every day. An office of her own, away from the noise, and a nice cushy executive chair would be wonderful. Nancy started thinking furiously.

“I’ve just got to get that managerial position,” she thought to herself, “I’ve never really enjoyed being bossed around by others. It would be nice to do the bossing instead.” She set about getting her days duties finished so that she could go home, have a glass of wine and plan her attack.

Later at home, glass of wine in hand and dinner warming in the microwave oven, Nancy came a bit to her senses and the doubts started flooding in. There were probably a dozen people with more seniority than her. Maybe some of them had actually been managers in the past. But she had a lot of experience in the field. Admittedly it was all in the bottom end of it, but that shouldn’t really be an impediment. After all, she’d had lots of managers and knew how they had handled things. Surely she could do as well if not better.

The ding of the microwave interrupted her thoughts and she went to retrieve her meal. Maybe the best thing to do would be to watch a little television while eating, take a nice hot bath and go to bed early. Well rested and refreshed in the morning, she might be better able to create a plan for landing that position.

The next day at work was really busy and Nancy despaired of ever finding any time to give her plan some thought. When lunch was still about an hour away, her back was starting to give her fits, so she got up to walk to the water cooler. When she arrived, the same two women were standing there and talking.

“They’re moving really fast on it. I’m surprised at how fast. Usually these things take forever,” said the first woman.

“But that’s a good thing right? I mean, too much delay and before you know it a month has gone by and nothing has been accomplished,” remarked the second woman.

“Yes, but things are in such disarray. It’s a real mess all of a sudden.”

“It will be over soon and you’ll be much happier and wonder what all the fuss was about.”

Nancy was starting to wonder if she would ever get another drink of water as she backed quietly away once again. She wondered if the first woman was in Human Resources and that is how she had this “inside” information. She was going to have to get on the ball and make her bid for the position as soon as possible. Darn! She really wished she had more time.

Nancy decided to skip eating lunch and use her break to craft a letter to Human Resources and turn it in that very day. She put together what she considered to be a slick proposal explaining her qualifications (some a bit exaggerated) and reasons for wanting the promotion (though none of the real reasons). She sent it to the central printer and hurried over to pull it out so that no one would see it. Then she put it into an envelope and dropped it on the mail cart to be delivered. She considered it well worth missing lunch not to miss out on this opportunity.

Nancy finished her shift with a light heart and optimism and went home to another microwave meal and a glass of wine. She was so keyed up by the prospect and was so bound up in imagining herself in her new job that she had trouble going to sleep. But she finally did sleep and woke up the next morning a bit bleary eyed and not quite all there mentally. Most likely skipping a meal the previous day had something to do with it as well.

When Nancy arrived at her desk, she saw that there was a larger than average number of orders to be processed and so she got right to work. All thoughts of her letter and the job vanished under the onslaught. So she was mildly surprised when she got a call from Tricia, the Human Resources woman who had hired her. Tricia asked that Nancy come to her office for a chat. Nancy’s heart started to beat wildly in her chest and she thought, “This is it! If it was a turn down, she’d just send a memo. This is it!”

Nancy finished processing the order she was working on and headed for Tricia’s office. She was fairly skipping down the hallways and smiled at everyone she passed. When she arrived, Tricia was on the phone and waved Nancy into a seat and made little wait a moment movements with her free hand.

When Tricia hung up the phone, she looked at Nancy and said, “Good morning, Nancy. Thank you for coming. How are you feeling today?” The fact that Tricia was not smiling and had a small frown on her face gave Nancy a few momentary misgivings.

“I’m fine,” said Nancy, “but I didn’t sleep all that well last night. Still I’m doing okay.”

Tricia said, “I’ll get right to it then. I got your letter at the end of the day yesterday and I have a few questions and things I would like to clear up.”


“Yes. I’ve looked into your productivity and you are clearing orders at a fairly average pace. But your quality of work and lack of errors is considerably above average. Since you have been here almost three months, I went ahead and did your three-month evaluation a little early and I can tell you that you would be receiving a one dollar an hour raise in your next paycheck. I hope that is good news to you.”

Nancy replied with a rather tentative tone, “Oh, it is. Really. It is.”

“Good,” said Tricia, “So, do you feel you are settling in well? Are you getting a good sense of how the company operates and a feel for the company dynamic?”

Nancy had to think about that for a moment. This wasn’t really going at all how she had imagined it might. She would have to answer those questions carefully and in such a way that she could show she was ready to be a manager. After all, at 27 years old, she was certainly old enough to take on a management position.

“Yes, I have settled in well. I get along well with my fellow employees and I’ve learned a lot in a very short time about how the company operates. Of course, there is always more to learn and I look forward to learning new things.” There that should do it.

Then Tricia surprised her by asking, “Nancy, are you happy in your job?”

“I’m not sure I understand the question,” was Nancy’s reply. And again some doubts started to creep in and a small frown furrowed her brow.

“I mean just that. Are you happy in your job? I don’t know how else to put it. Do you like your working conditions? Does the work bore you? Do you dread coming to work?”

Nancy decided to seize upon the boring aspect and said, “Well, it is a bit boring and while each order is different, the processing of them is always the same.” She paused momentarily and then decided to continue. “And truth is that the cubicle doesn’t really cut out a lot of the noise. And Tim who works next to me wears so much cologne that it gives me a headache every day. Also, my chair is making my back ache.”

Tricia thought for a moment and said, “Hmm. Well these are mostly all issues that can be easily addressed. You should have come to me much sooner with them instead of suffering. I can speak to Tim or move him further away. And we can get you a better chair. Or if you would like, you should go purchase one that suits you and the company will reimburse you for it. As for the noise, there isn’t much that we can do about that, I’m afraid. We would really hate to lose you. You are always on time and you do your work well.”

Now Nancy was really confused and said, “Lose me? I don’t understand.”

“Well, there is the letter that you sent to me. It’s a bit confusing and it seems like you might be considering leaving the company. We would be very sorry to lose you.”

“I’m very confused,” said Nancy, “I thought I made it clear that I was applying to be the new manager of the new office that we are opening.”

Tricia’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and she said, “Whatever gave you the idea that we were opening another office?”

“Well, I uh overheard a conversation at the water cooler about it on two occasions. I assumed that one of the women, whom I have not yet met, worked in Human Resources and that she had some inside information.”

Tricia thought about this for a moment and then said, “Nancy, as you know, our company is relatively small and so is our Human Resources Department. The entire department is just William and me. I don’t know what you heard or why you interpreted it as you did. So do you wish to continue your employment with us?”

Nancy could feel the heat of embarrassment starting in her face. As the redness slowly made its way down her neck and onto her chest, she said, “Yes, I do wish to continue working here.” Nancy dropped her head and looked at her hands which were wringing themselves in her lap. Thankfully out of sight of Tricia.

With a great deal of relief, Tricia said, “Oh good! I’ll get right on the cologne issue. Would you like to purchase a chair for yourself or shall I see what I can do?”

Nancy was still having trouble meeting Tricia’s gaze when she said, “Thank you. I’ll go get a chair myself. I should be getting back to work now.”

“Excellent. Be sure to keep your receipt and bring it directly to me. I’ll see that you are reimbursed. I really am glad that you are staying with us. Have a good day, Nancy.”

With that, Nancy headed back to her cubicle. She couldn’t understand why she had been so mistaken. The conversations of those two women were pretty clear. Then a thought occurred to her. Maybe they had known she was behind the fig and were having a little joke at her expense. Or maybe they had been hazing the newbie. Suddenly she felt a little righteous anger building up. There they had gone and made her look like a fool.

The water cooler was on her way to her cubicle and those same two women were standing there gossiping about something. As Nancy was walking passed she heard, “… and so she got a dressing down.” And then they both laughed.

Well, that did it! Lack of sleep. Calorie deficit. Embarrassing encounter with Tricia. It was all too much and she turned around and confronted to the two women saying, “I bet you think it’s all pretty funny!”

One of the women said, “Excuse me? We haven’t met. I’m Anne and this is Margie. And you are …?”

“Yeah. Right. Does it matter?”

Anne said, “Oh wait, you’re that new hire in my processing department, right? Nancy? Right?”

“Well, I guess you certainly know who I am. And it’s really not funny hazing the new employee. That’s just totally sophomoric.”

Margie looked inquiringly at Anne who shrugged her shoulders and then said, “Nancy, we have no idea what you are talking about.”

Then Nancy just went off, “You most certainly do. Monday you were talking about the company opening a new office and hiring a manager from within while at the water cooler. Then on Tuesday you were talking about how they were going ahead with it really fast. And just now you were laughing about me being called into Tricia’s office. You deliberately set out to make me think that there was an opening and that I should go for it!”

Anne and Margie were completely taken aback by her outburst. So much so that they actually took a couple of steps back. Nancy had been so loud and sounded so angry that they had drawn a small crowd. Finally, a look of understanding came to Margie’s face.

“Golly Nancy, it was nothing like that. Monday, Anne and I were discussing a mutual friend and his bid for a manager’s position at his company. Tuesday, Anne was telling me about how the remodel of her kitchen was going. And the very last thing I said before you accosted us was the punch line to a joke that is a pun.”

Nancy was mortified. She didn’t know what to do and blurted out, “I’m sorry! Oh my God! I’m so sorry!” And she fled to her cubicle. What a day! She didn’t know how she would ever live it down. She finished her days work without any more idiotic mistakes (thankfully) and went home to have two glasses of wine and some macaroni with cheese. Mac and cheese always could make her feel better.

The next day walking to her cubicle, she stared resolutely at her feet. She glanced up briefly as she passed Tim’s cubicle, but he wasn’t sitting there. Anne was sitting there. “Oh my God,” Nancy thought, “I’m being punished.”

A couple more steps brought her to her cubicle. There was a box of chocolates sitting on her desk with a note on top. Her head went to the side and she looked at the floor for a while and took a few deep breaths. She decided she’d had way too much confusion for a while and simply opened the note. It read “No hard feelings. Anne and Margie.”

Nancy couldn’t believe her good fortune and poking her head around the corner and into Anne’s cubicle she said, “Good morning, Anne. Thanks. Want some chocolate?” And she offered her the box.

“Don’t mind if I do,” said Anne. And they enjoyed a few sweet bites together before settling down to work.

I was reminded about this short story I once wrote in response to an assignment titled, “Eavesdropper.” What reminded me was a short story by one of the writers here on WordPress. He’s always making me think about things differently. Thanks!

Millie is Alive!

Yesterday, after much ado, I pressed the “publish your paperback book” button on Kindle Direct Publishing. To say it was an emotional moment would be an understatement. I required several hours after finishing the final proof to work up the courage to actually publish my novel.

I was advised that it could take up to 72 hours for the review process to be completed and for my book to go live on It did not. When I checked my emails this morning, I had a notice that my book was available, but that all services might not be; such as “look inside.”

My husband got excited and since he has the Kindle app on his phone, he looked it up. As he was looking at the listing, the “look inside” service became available. Well, at least for the eBook. I don’t really know how it works for the paperback.

Now I have a whole host of new things to learn and figure out. I have friends and family to notify. I’m having a hard time prioritizing it all in my mind.

Probably I should be looking over the email they sent to me and getting set up with Author Central, seeing if there is a link to my book’s page on Amazon and all that sort of thing before posting this. But I’m kind of excited right now and a little bit scared too. So this was the easiest thing for me at this moment.

There will be more later. Possibly a link to purchase. Oh my.

Uploading my Manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing

Image result for kindle direct publishing
from Google Image Search

After spending what felt like eons proofreading, editing and formatting my manuscript, I came to the point where I had to upload it to KDP. I had a very hard time doing that the first time around. But it has become easier with each time that I do it. Yes, I’ve had to do it multiple times. I had read that is often the case but had really hoped I wouldn’t suffer that fate.

In looking over the book preview, I kept finding errors in the formatting. Most of them centered on the justification of the margins. I would find several chapters wherein the last line would have one word at the left margin and one word on the right margin with blank space in between the two.

Because I had “fixed” all these problems in my original file (which is how KDP refers to it), I wasn’t sure what to do about it in the book preview. I opted for adding or deleting words in the original file until the problem was fixed or at least looked good enough to call it good enough. Good enough is a hard thing for me. I have this perfectionist tendency that is hard for me to deal with sometimes.

Just a bit ago, I uploaded the thing for the fifth or sixth time. I’ve lost track. I hope that all my “fixes” hold and that I can “proof” all the 445 pages and not find any more errors of formatting. And also hopefully, I’ve dealt adequately enough with typos, spelling errors, homophones and all the other things that can be messed up.

Then it’s just a matter of “pressing” the “Approve” button. I wonder how long it will take me to muster the courage to do that.

In between finishing this post and now, I actually did press the “Approve” button. Then we got into the pricing aspect of the process.

Turns out, KDP gives you a minimum and maximum price to charge for your book.  The maximum price is a little silly set at $250.00. But the minimum for mine is set at $10.34, unless I opt for Expanded Distribution. Then it is $15.51. I was pretty sure people might buy the paperback at $11.99, but I’m not as certain about $15.99.

And this doesn’t even address the issue of the eBook version. I’m 99% certain I selected the dual option when I first started to set this all up. But that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Maybe it will after I press the “Publish” button. If not, then I have another issue to work on.

Right now, though, everything is in limbo. I’m a bit of a mess emotionally and I’m not really certain what to do. But I guess I will get it figured out. I usually do.

But … if any of you have gone through this process and can offer a few insights, I sure wouldn’t mind.


Image result for thankfulness
Google Image Search

Candy coated apples and

Pumpkins on the prowl.

Russet covered landscapes and

Coyotes, how they howl.

Dark Moon cold of evenings and

Day’s enfolding heat,

Hot cider for the cousins and

Oatmeal cookies fresh to eat.

Cinnamon does spice the air and

Sage a seasoning makes.

There’s many things to finish and

Mom bakes and bakes and bakes.

Apple sauce and pumpkin pie and

Roast turkey for the taking,

In her wise and ageless way,

A holiday Mom’s making.

In our very troubled times and

In our times of need,

It’s fruitful to remember this and

These wise words to heed.

It never can be said enough and

At the top this ranks.

When everything seems dark and dim,

Give thanks, give thanks, give thanks.

Why the Chinese will Never rule the World

Image result for motor scooter
Google Image Search

Much attention has been given to the Chinese in recent years and their rapid industrial growth. Seems everything you buy these days is made in China. Well, not everything … yet … but that seems to be the fear. I say we have nothing to worry about.

We inherited my step-dad’s motor scooter and since we had no use for it, we decided to sell it. It was made in China. I have to wonder why they don’t get an actual English speaking person (English as a first language) to at least proof read their instruction manuals if not write them outright.

Here are some excerpts from the instruction manual for the scooter.

  • Wear brightly garment.
  • It is not available to close other vehicle nearer.
  • Accident often occurs due to over speed, so never surpass the maximum speed in the road you are passing.
  • The passage should hold the safe handrail firmly or embrace the driver, and put the foot on the footrest.

These are all good recommendations and we know full well what is meant. Still, it is hard to take seriously such silly sounding statements or the people who allowed them to remain so.

At one point while firing up the scooter after it had sat for a couple of months, Bernd inadvertently flooded the engine by following these instructions:  When start engine in cold especially in winter turn the ignition switch to OFF, Paddle the kick back start lever about 5 times, there comes a slight of fuel, let the wire in circuit, the engine can start.

Because he had flooded it, he looked in the instructions to learn where the spark plug was so that he could remove it and clean it. He found the section he needed but he was told to “ripe” off the plug.

My personal favorite is this one:  Ride on seat from the left. Make sure to sit well, let the left foot on the ground to keep from upside down. Before running the rear brake should be keep in braking condition. It really made me chuckle.

Are they trying to save money? Do they think they can write as well in any language as they do in Chinese? Do they care whether or not anyone understands what they are trying to get across? Because we were unfamiliar with the scooter, we had some trouble starting it (aside from it having sat for a quite a while). We discovered that the “kill” switch is a toggle switch and that it was engaged. Nowhere in the manual did it mention that the scooter will not start while the kill switch is engaged. Okay, so possibly that one is a no-brainer, but most kill switches I’ve had experience with are buttons and cannot be left in an engaged position. But if it had been mentioned, it might have gone something like this:  With that the kill switch is on the engine can not be start. Do not toggle the switch and the engine may be start.

Some time ago, Bernd ran across a woman on the Internet who was writing about techniques for dealing with mean people. Stating that she was a lifelong fan of “Japlish,” she used an example from an instruction manual that she found amusing:  When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

Because of my husband’s experience with this and other manuals written in “Chinglish” (his word), he is now secure in the knowledge that the Chinese will never rule the world. He does admit though, that they can probably cause a lot of trouble … mainly with their instruction manuals.

If any of you have run across similar badly worded instructions, I would love to hear about them. A good chuckle always makes my day brighter.


I have a lot of rules. My husband, Bernd, is always telling me this. I can’t argue with him. Over the years, I’ve found he’s usually right in his assessments of me. Dang.

My rules are mainly for me and my behavior. But they do spill over onto other people. That’s usually when Bernd says to me, “You know, you have a lot of rules. Nobody could ever keep track of all your rules.”

One of my rules, as I have discovered, applies to keeping a journal. I figure that if you are going to keep a journal, then you have to write something in it every day. Maybe that something is only that you went to the grocery store and a list of what you bought. Or that you saw a cardinal on your morning walk. Except for today. There was no morning walk. It’s raining and there might not be a late morning walk or the afternoon walk either. We need the rain. Yes, we do. But it makes it hard to get the little Maddie out to pee and poop. She does not like the rain hitting her. I have a coat for her, but the rain hits her coat and she shakes constantly and wants to run back to the front door. But I digress.

So when I started this blog, I felt that I was going to have to post something to it every day because it’s a lot like a journal. At least in my mind. Well, the truth is, I probably cannot come up with something to post every day. So I find myself at war with my expectations of myself. That’s never a winning battle for me.

Ultimately, I don’t really want to use this blog as a journal. That just seems so self-serving and somewhat narcissistic. Maybe that’s not quite the word I’m looking for. I had loftier goals for this blog. Well, maybe not lofty. Practical might be closer to the mark.

I started it because everything I read about independently publishing your books recommended having a blog to get the word out about your books, create and audience for your books, get examples of your writing prowess in front of agents who might possibly become interested in you and your work, and just in general increase your presence on the Internet. It was also advised that you become active on social media. I’m not doing nearly as good a job with the social media. Oh well, can’t be perfect. Although that is another one of my rules. Dang.

The reality is that I find I simply enjoy blogging. I had no idea I would like it as much as I do. And narcissism (or whatever) aside, I am going to try to find time for it every day. But that doesn’t mean that I will. And so somehow, I will have to make peace with at least one of my inner rules. All those others, well I’ve squeaked along more or less okay with them all these years, I guess I will manage one way or another.

Oh goodness! It’s stopped raining for the moment. This will have to wait a while. Look out Maddie, here I come.

Talking with Myself

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Do you ever talk to yourself? I think that we all do from time to time and maybe more than we realize. Do you find yourself saying things like “Come on, girl, you’ve got a deadline,” “Oh man, I’m really running late,” or “Why did I just say that,” throughout your day?

But have you ever had a conversation with yourself?

Color me crazy or color me weird, but I do it fairly often. If I am alone in the house, I will do it out loud; full volume. If Bernd is home, I will whisper. It’s not that I don’t want him to know that I am talking with myself because he’s heard me many times; I’m just not always ready to let him know exactly what it is that I am saying. Shoot, I’m not always ready to hear what I am saying. Regardless, breath moves past my vocal folds, and lips and tongue and teeth to form actual words.

Sometimes I will stand in front of the mirror and observe my expression as I try on this way of thinking about something or that way of feeling. My posture is also a good indicator of how I am affected by my words with myself. But sometimes my deepest insights come to me when I cannot see me at all, when I am soaking in a tub full of hot water. But at all times, I speak with myself out loud.

When I think a thought, it is informed by all the other thoughts that surround it and the issue at hand can become cloudy and ill defined. But when I say the words out loud, they are distinct and precise and clear. They stand on their own. Often a thought that is painful and bothersome will become simply silly when I hear myself say it to me out loud. But sometimes not. And then I know where my work is.

If you are uncomfortable talking with yourself, try imagining you are talking with a good friend or even a not so good friend, but do it out loud. Both sides of the conversation. Get outside of your head. Bring your thoughts, fears, concerns and feelings into the outside world. Yell at yourself. Praise yourself. Console yourself. Be frank with yourself and be honest. Tell yourself the things you think you would never tell anyone else. Say them out loud and it might not seem so hard anymore.

It can be difficult to let others know what is really going on in your mind. There may be embarrassment or fear that another will not understand; misconstrue things. Talking with yourself, hearing the words out loud, informing yourself about you, can make getting the support that you might need from others easier. If you have already heard it said, it becomes easier to say it again. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to rehearse.

In those times when you feel that no one is in your “corner,” put yourself there. Be your best friend. Talk with yourself.

Weird Words 3

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1973 edition


I admit right now that is not a real word. It’s something my husband made up. He’s always coming up with strange and supposedly endearing things to call me. This one is a combination of “snookie” or “snookums” and “püppchen.” The latter is German for “little doll.” I can understand “sweetie” and “cupcake” and the like, but “snookiepüpchen?” Come on.

It got me to wondering about “snookums.” I mean, that’s a pretty weird word, don’t you think? They say it substitutes for “sweetheart” and is considered a term of endearment. It is also said to be a nickname for a child. I haven’t really heard this word used a lot recently, but even in the past, I don’t remember it being used for a child. Certainly no one ever called me snookums when I was young. I mean, really!

The word is older than I am (some things are). Its first use is thought to have been in the year 1919. It comes from Snooks, a proper name used in Britain (from around 1860) for a hypothetical person. Think of Joe Blow here in the United States.

As an actual proper name, Snooks dates back to the Doomsday Book and might be from the Old English snoc, a projecting point of land. It is speculated that it was used to indicate someone with a big nose. How you get from a big nose to a term of endearment is beyond me. But then the French seem to think calling you a little cabbage is a term of endearment and the Germans might call you a yummy little mouse. So what do I know?

The Doomsday Book

Being made the way that I am, I got to wondering what the heck the Doomsday Book is. It sounds really ominous, apocryphal, sinister, and metaphysical. I’ve got this image in my head born of, most likely, having watched too many poorly made old horror movies. The room is dark and dusty. We hear a foul wind teasing around the windows that are hidden by dark draperies. In the center of the frame is a big old, closed book resting on an ornate wooden book stand. To either side are two fat and dripping candles, lit, sitting on pedestals. The book is bound in aged and cracked leather. The title on the cover, laid down in gilt, is just barely legible. It says “Doomsday Book.” We hear footsteps hollowly ringing off the stone floor as someone approaches. Two very old and wrinkled hands enter the frame and rest upon the Book momentarily before opening it. The fingernails are long, dirty and cracked. The hands open the Book directly to the page needed. The text looks to have been written in blood with a quill (my flick is not so old that it is in black and white) and is very difficult to read. But we can just make out three words at various places within the text: turkey, duck and chicken. Now we hear loud and maniacal laughter and the scene fades to black. The reality is not nearly so fantastical.

It is the book containing the results of the great survey of England which was completed in 1086. It was done at the behest of William I of England, otherwise known as William the Conqueror. Basically, it was a census of land holders, all of their holdings, and what the holdings were worth. Taxes were levied based on the findings and the Book could not be questioned or the results appealed. Sounds a lot like income and property taxes. I knew someone who once wanted to appeal the assessed value of his home. He called the property tax assessor and was advised by the person with whom he spoke to let sleeping dogs lie. She told him his property had not been physically assessed in over ten years and asked if he really wanted to know what the current value was. His reply was that she should forget they ever had that conversation.

The Doomsday Book was actually originally called the Domesday Book. The Old English word “dom” meant accounting or reckoning. “Dom” did eventually become “doom” in Modern English, for what to me are obvious reasons considering the use of the Book. Today we might want to call it the “IRS Book.” Who knows, one day in our future we might have supplanted “doom” in our vocabulary with “irs” and “irsday.”


That’s another oddity for sure. Well, I think so. After all, a nick is a shallow notch, cut, or indentation on an edge or surface. What’s that got to do with how you call a person?

Nickname is defined as a descriptive name added to or replacing the actual name of a person, place, or thing. It is also a name given in affectionate familiarity (Snookums?), sportive familiarity (Flash?), contempt (Butthead?), or derision (Shrimp? That’s one I had as a child.). I also found this definition: “a familiar or an opprobrious appellation.” Them’s some words, for sure.

They’ve traced this word all the way back to 1440 or so and it stems from a misdivision of “ekename,” circa 1300. It was more properly “an eke name,” or another or additional name. This, too, is from the Old English “eaca,” an increase. It is supposed that the misdivision rendered it as “a nekename” and hence “nickname.”

I had a lot of nicknames as a child. I’ve mentioned Shrimp. There were also Peepers, Deedy, Dee, Deeds, Punkin, and Princess. One little boy called both my sister and me Deeby, because he could never keep us straight and her nickname was Debbie. Our mom rarely called us by our actual names, Dianne and Debra, and when she did (especially if she used our full names) we knew we were in deep doo-doo.

I hate to disappoint you, but the only information I could find on the etymology of “doo-doo” was that it is “baby talk.” I think we all know what it means. Well, I’m “pooped” and I think I will stop now. What a relief, hunh?

Giving Thanks

Image result for cornucopia
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It’s that time of year when we are reminded to consider all the things for which we are grateful. I spend quite a bit of time throughout the year finding gratitude for the various aspects of my life. On most days, I tend more toward the glass half full end of the spectrum. But still, this time of year does make me take a harder look at what I have.

I have my health and for that I am eternally grateful. Good health is a big deal. I see so many people my age that have so many physical problems that I wonder how they get through the day. I am grateful that my problems are few and try to remind myself that I could be in their condition. I had a very bad “accident” in August of 2017. A friend’s horse tried to kick me to death. I spent three weeks in the hospital, had one major surgery to remove my spleen completely and half of my pancreas, plus five other procedures during my stay. My heart, lungs, stomach and intestines suffered severe trauma. I had eight broken ribs and I thought my left femur might also be broken (it was not but I have a permanent dent in the muscle of that leg). I thought I might just die lying there in the dirt of the barn aisle after he kicked me. But I didn’t and I got fit again and most of my parts work well enough that I can do all of the things that I want to do.

I have an amazing husband. He took four weeks off work to take care of me when I got home from the hospital. Even with home visits from a nurse, I wouldn’t have made it without his help. But that isn’t the only reason he’s amazing. It would take way too long to explain what makes him so special to me. And I’m not altogether certain I could do it well enough anyway. And there is my sister. She is a sister without compare. Everyone should have a sister like her. And I adore our cat and dog. They brighten my life in so many ways

I have a lot of really great friends. And this brings me to what prompted me to write this. I am so delighted with all of the people I have “met” in the WordPress community. Each time one of you likes one of my posts is a little thrill of enjoyment. But that is not what is most important. I love discovering what makes you all tick and reading what you all have written. I learn from you all and I had no idea a blogging community could be so much fun or so supportive.

So thank you all for being the wonderful people that you are. I am thankful to know you.