My Lexicon Love

Words and I have a long-standing relationship. I spend an extraordinary amount of my time with words. I can’t seem to get enough of words.

I can lose myself in dictionaries and thesauruses for hours on end. I delight in discovering their rules, their uniqueness, and their amazing variety. These are just some of the words I’ve come to love.

  • Made up words

One of my favorites is dinglehopper, Scuttle the seagull’s word for a fork Ariel found in the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.

Scuttle twirls his feathery crest into a wild mess with the fork and says, “See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.”

I’ve used dinglehopper as a conversation starter at dinner parties. I’ve even been known to slip in the phrase “aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over” upon occasion. And, voila gets frequent use.

  • Vocabulary words

Dictionary.com sends a Word of the Day to my inbox every day. Krummholz was a recent word. It means a forest of stunted trees near the timberline on a mountain.

An interesting word, but I doubt its value for my daily conversation or writing. Maybe tomorrow’s word will be more useful.

  • Foreign language words

Foreign language words have begun to pop into my social media feeds more and more. A little link translates. I do wonder, though, about the accuracy of translations since I ran across the Greek word meraki in a recent blog.

You’ll find no on-line dictionary definitions for meraki.

A web search did turn up an article in NPR that explains meraki is an adjective, which describes doing something with soul, creativity, or love. According to the article, it is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.

Meraki is not the only foreign language word that has no English equivalent. Check out the full article here: Translating the Untranslatable

There’s also an interesting variation to NPR’s definition from the comments on a different blog:

“I am Greek. Meraki is not an adj. It is a noun. Like the English word ‘gusto’ as in, ‘I eat with gusto.’ You do something with ‘meraki’. You do it with a good feeling, with a light heart and a smile. With all your heart. The best way to translate it would be to listen to the seven dwarves sing, “Whistle while you work…”

Meraki may not have an exact English translation and I may never have an opportunity to use the word in conversation or my writing, but isn’t it a great word to apply in our lives.

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Words about Wind – Carmichael

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Reading Obituaries for Character Development

One of the things I was thrilled to have again now we’re back in Texas is home delivery of the Sunday newspaper. I really missed my Sunday funnies.

And the obituaries. Often the newspaper where we previously lived didn’t even have an obituary section.

Yes, I read the obituaries. I also make a habit of stopping at cemeteries to walk around and read epitaphs on tombstones.

Morbid? Not really. There’s so much to learn from gravestones and obituaries.

All the years of a person’s life are summarized in a few short paragraphs or, in the case of epitaphs, there’s only a line or two. Some obits tell of lives well lived or a life taken too soon, long fruitful lives and sudden loss.

But obituaries are not only a notice of a death; they are great sources of what a life was about.

Some stories tell sobering tales. Some describe ordinary lives with important or interesting jobs. Others tell of mundane or grueling work.

I find descriptions of odd achievements or wild adventures and quirky lives. Still others reveal lives of generosity with time and money.

I’m partial to the photographs. Looking into a face tells a story too. Even the choice of which picture to use can reveal much. Why did the family choose a picture of a much younger grandparent or a photo in uniform when a veteran passes?

Sometimes an obituary reveals a person was far more than who and what we see. Recently, the obituary of an acquaintance told of wide interests about which I knew nothing.

Reading obituaries (and tombstone epithets) makes me appreciate the gift of life more.

They are a stark reminder that life does not go on forever and can serve as a reminder that perhaps I should be more grateful for family and friends.

Obituaries and epithets can be a great writer resource, too.

Full story plots can spring forth along with ideas for character names, backstory, life experiences, and relationships between characters. Even the listing of birthplaces and burial sites gives ideas for setting locations.

Reading obituaries also reminds me that someday my smiling face will appear with a few inches summing up my life. Maybe, to be on the safe side, I should pen my own.

Writing your own obituary to spare your loved ones the task is a trend these days, you know.

What about you? Do you read obituaries only when you hear that someone you know has died, regularly, or not at all? If you never read them, why not?

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King of the Chicken Yard

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

It is very interesting to watch the relational dynamics of the chicken yard. I have a whole new understanding of the term “pecking order.”

There is a specific spot for each hen in the coop at night.  When I move those who roost on the bee hives into the coop, there is a certain amount of clucking and squawking before everyone settles down.

The roosters have their own way of handling things.

On our farm, many of the roosters are separated by breed – the blue-laced red Wyandottes are in their own space, Richard the spastic frizzle has his own run and the Welsummer rooster is with his hens in another pen. Sometimes the boys will bow up against the chicken wire that separates them but they really can’t do any damage.

That leaves Kaboodle, the Polish crested, and Custard, the Croad Langston, in the main yard.  Custard, you may remember, is named after the Ogden Nash poem, Custard the Cowardly Dragon.  He has earned his name by running from even the small D’Uccle hen.

So Kaboodle doesn’t have to work hard to be the Alpha rooster.  Just in case anyone doubts that, he has taken to jumping up on the fence and crowing.He is very careful to return to his side of the fence.  He may be King of the Chicken Yard but he knows the dachshunds rule the other side of the fence.

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The Weird Side of Famous Authors

Today’s blog guest is Jack Milgram, Custom-Writing.Org, sharing his latest infographic.

Enjoy reading about the quirks and strange habits of famous authors.

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Visit Jack’s blog: custom-writing.org/blog

Connect with Jack

Twitter: @Jack__Milgram

Facebook: Jack.Milgram

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Words about Wind – Churchill

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The Ides of March – A Time to be Cautious?

The Death of Caesar (1798) By Vincenzo Camuccini, Public Domain

Thanks to high school English classes where William Shakespeare is required reading the phrase The Ides of March can conjure prophecies of doom and a need for caution. Even if you’ve never read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, you’re probably familiar with the phrase.

But, The Ides of March did not originally mean anything sinister.

Ides comes from the old Latin verb iduare, which meant “to divide.” March 15 was a normal day in the Roman calendar meaning halfway through the month and coincided with the rise of the full moon.

Every month had an Ides. In March, May, July, and October ides fell on the 15th and in the other months it came on the 13th.

During Roman times, the Ides of March was the deadline for settling debts. So perhaps, some Romans considered the date ominous even before Shakespeare’s dramatization of the 44 B.C. assassination of Julius Caesar.

But, it was the soothsayer’s warnings to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play that forever linked the date with bad luck.

Before March 15, Caesar ruled Rome as a temporary dictatorship. He very much wished to make the position permanent. His quest for power triggered a conspiracy to have him assassinated, and he was stabbed 23 times on the stairs of the Senate House.

Perhaps Caesar should have listen to the soothsayer, who it turns out was a real historical figure named Spurinna. According to Roman historians, Spurinna was a haruspex or religious figure who was able to divine the future by examining the dissected innards of sacrificial animals. He’d seen signs in February and warned Caesar, but Caesar chose to ignore him.

Julius Caesar’s murder is not the only bad thing to happen on The Ides of March or March 15. Check out these:

  1.  Smithsonian list of historical events that have occurred on March 15.
  2. The UK’s Independent suggests these five events as the worst things that have happened on March 15
  3. And, lastly, this blog that lists 11 Wonderful Things That Have Happened on the Ides of March

Bad things can happen any day. So can good things.

But I can tell you if I receive any warnings about the Ides of March, I’m going to side with caution. I don’t want a day like the one Julius Caesar had.

Do you think you should be extra cautious on the Ides of March?

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Well, Help Yourself

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Since we have several different feed pans and different pens of chickens, I have developed a system for feeding the birds in the mornings. I tend to work clockwise.

I throw feed into the runs with the Blue Laced Wyandottes and bantams first. Then I put feed into the four pans in the big pen and the one in the Welsummer pen.

The last to be fed are the two roosters in the long run. They were meant to be sent to freezer camp but one is particularly handsome and the other got a reprieve because it got too dark to keep working.

My system works great usually. Then one morning, I set the pail down and turned around to see one of the Buff Orpingtons helping herself to the feed.I guess she was really hungry.

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Words about Wind – Longfellow

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Independence and Texas

Last weekend there were big doings here in the Lone Star State.

Folks ate lots of barbecue and chili and/or Tex-Mex and Mexican food. Many indulged in a Shiner Bock and Lone Star beers. And, of course, pecan pie (Texas’ state nut) or a Texas sheet cake for dessert.

You see, March 2 marked the 182nd anniversary of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico. That’s a big deal to native Texans.

It wasn’t until April 21, 1836, when the outnumbered and outgunned Texians defeated General Santa Anna’s soldiers on the fields of San Jacinto that independence declared became independence secured.

Maybe you didn’t know Texas was an independent sovereignty once. Let me fill you in…

The Republic of Texas existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. Its boundaries were Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, two U.S. states Louisiana and Arkansas, and U.S. territories that included parts of current Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.

See, Texas has always been a BIG place.

Citizens of the Republic of Texas were known as Texians. Residents of the modern state of Texas called Texans.

The first Republic flag was known as “The Burnet Flag,” a dark blue background with a single yellow star in the center. The familiar red, white, and blue Texas flag was adopted in 1839.

 

“Six flags over Texas” is more than just a theme park in Texas. Historically, six different flags have flown here:

  • The Kingdom of Spain (1519 – 1685 and 1690 – 1821)
  • The Kingdom of France (1685 – 1690)
  • The Mexican Federal Republic (1821 – 1836)
  • The Republic of Texas (1836 – 1845)
  • The Confederate States of America (1861 – 1865)
  • The United States of America 1845 – 1861 and 1865 – present

Here’s the national anthem (now the official state song) of Texas, “Texas, Our Texas.” It was written in 1924 by William J. Marsh, who was born in Liverpool, England, and emigrated to Texas as a young man, and Gladys Yoakum Wright, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and selected as the state song by a concurrent resolution of the Texas Legislature in 1929 following a statewide competition.

Probably more Texas history than you wanted to know, but being a native whose family was among the early settlers, I just couldn’t stop myself. You know how Texans can be.

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