Friday, April 29, 2005

Runny and stuffy in Rainyville

Yarg!!! You'd think I was a "heavy breather," but no, folks, it's just a stuffy+runny nose. Yes, the "I hab a toad in by dose" voice and all that. Poor Elena...

This is what you will get if you ever move to the Allergy Bowl (ie. middle TN). Geographically, we're in a bowl, and we have lots of pretty flowering trees....which means lots of pollen. And of course, the weather changes every 10 minutes, so the barometric pressure likes to wreak havoc on one's sinuses. It's not pretty. Come fall or spring, we're all sniffin,' hackin,' coughin,' and sneezin.' You would be too. Even if you've never had allergy problems before---move here, you get them. It's free with move-in.

Maybe that's why people forget to use their lights when driving on a rainy day, like today. Maybe the sinus pressure affects their brain synapses. I dunno...

Wish I could say, "Go, go, gadget arm"; reach out of my car and into the other person's; and smack the idiot upside the head...you know, the one who drives without his or her lights....and it's frickin' raining!!! *shakes head* Hmm...or attach LED-screen displays that run advisories across both sides of my car: "Ya moron, turn on your lights!" or "Ya igmo, merge right." *sigh*

Friday, April 22, 2005

Scream for Ice Cream! (Contest)

If you could invent an ice cream flavor, what would be the main ingredients (such as chocolate, pineapple chunks, walnuts, etc.; not MSG and guar gum) and what would you name the flavor?

Prize: Franny, the paper-clip-bedecked fake ficus tree (who lives in my office)


Here's mine...
Flavor: Coffee-flavored ice cream with cinnamon-and-black-pepper-laced brownie bites and a ribbon of fudge
Name: Mi Mocha Loca


Thanks, in advance, for playin'!


Note: Comments that are not safe for work (or are accidental repeat posts) will be deleted.

Beautiful, beautiful words: Musings on vocabulary

I had another "I really ought to be a grad student in English" moment yesterday. Ashpenaz (aka Ashley the Blue Raider) will be glad to hear it: she keeps telling me to go to grad school. Anyway...

I was trying to describe the light of April here in middle TN. I wanted to use the word fulgent, thinking it meant "fruitful or fertile." But after reading the definition over at merriamwebster.com, I discovered that fulgent describes light, not fertility. Which was interesting...the connection, that is. Wonder why the word sounds so "full," so "pregnant"? Is fulgency (is that a word) a different kind of light from luminosity or lustrousness or brilliance? (The online dictionary is wonderful at explaining the connotations of various synonyms.) And where and in what context had I read the word fulgent before?

I've discovered that I understand vocabulary instinctively by context: how the word is used in a sentence and how it is usually used by other writers. I see words as the linguistic counterparts to paint colors. Miss Blue Raider can attest to this---I love the metaphor--->that having many words which one knows how to use is like having a palette of many paint colors and knowing how to use them. (Mom uses the same metaphor for fabric. Of course, she's better at spatial things and at geometry than I.)

My office has a dearth of metal surfaces. I figure if one must house all this stuff in filing cabinets and on shelves, why not put the surfaces to good use? Bless the person who invented magnetic word kits. I think I have four sets of them here. I love using the little magnets. But you have plenty of paper and pens, don't you, Elena? you point out. Why not just use those? Or heck, the computer? Of course, I use those things. But there's something about holding that little magnet in one's hand...then moving it to another spot...making all sorts of combinations...the serendipity of new or revisited phrasings. The flexibility of language comes alive, in a sense. You see that words are components...that they can be and do many different things.

I actually tried to organize my magnets by part of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, linking verbs, interjections, adjectives, and so on. But some words can be more than one part of speech! Ack! And the system breaks down... So we have partial organization and partial "muddle" (mess, in Britspeak).

So...back to the "grad school" moment---I wanted to find the Emily Dickinson poem in which she describes the light of winter. And I did. I was so excited. More excited than one probably ought to be about poetry. But there I am...finding again this poem I had read in high school (when I was described as Emily Dickinson reincarnated, a story for another post). Yes! Someone else understands that light has different qualities and that it changes with the seasons.

My friends were baffled last autumn when on a hike in a local park I remarked about the light being different in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Baffled. I tried to explain. But how do you describe the ineffable? Another artist might have understood. (Perhaps Ashpenaz will.)

This difference of light perhaps involves the distance of the sun from Earth and the amount of moisture in the air. Do you not see the difference between the bright, almost sharp, dry light of winter and the soft-edged, almost dense, moist air of spring before the rain falls? Emily did. She knew the harshness of winter's stark sunshine. I see that sunshine and it pains me. It's like needles.

But the light these days...the beautiful light of spring...so green here. And periwinkle, lavendar, and warmish pink. It's the flowers and grass and trees of course---the color palette. But the light cannot be divorced from what it shines upon---at least, for me, because of how I see things.

I see things in snapshots. Explains why I write poetry, rather than fiction. (I don't think in storylines, which is odd---because in my mind, I can see how to get to a particular location linearly, not spatially. My thinking doesn't manifest itself in novel or short story form, though. 'Tis a pity.) And of course, photography is highly dependent on light.

So...this thing about light and about the words to describe light and its qualities. Wow...I sensed that certain words had certain connotations but could not articulate those nuances. And that's where Webster's came in yesterday. Fabulous, fabulous resource! If you click on the right word, its main entry shows its synonyms and then explains the connotations of those words. Some of them were ones I already knew, really, but reading the explanations was confirmation. And I like confirmation. Don't you? ;o)

My "discovery" (at merriamwebster.com):
Brilliant has to do with sparkling light. Radiant has to do with rays of light (eg. me---according to one co-worker; what an interesting compliment!). Luminous suggests "steady, suffused, glowing light by reflection or in surrounding darkness" (eg. candlelight). Lustrous describes "an even, rich light from a surface that reflects brightly without sparkling or glittering" (eg. the reflection off of my coffee table when it's sporting a new coat of furniture polish).

Ooh, more "light" words: dazzling, startling, stark, focused, beam, diffused, scattered, dimmed, patterned...

See?!? So many possibilities!

Why do people limit themselves to the usual words? Why not expand one's vocabulary? Why use a word that does not fit exactly, when a more precise one exists?

I am passionate about this---this artistic selection of words! You see, "for your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that [s]he has come upon the right word" (Catherine Drinker Brown).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Contest Results: Peas 'n' Carrots

I'm not quite as quick as Pink Kitty in posting contest results. Sorry for the delay, folks!

Drumroll, please! *dudududududududududrrrrrrrrrrrr*

Winner of the paper clip bedecked, potted fake ficus tree: Res Ispa for "John Kerry and Defeat" (True dat!)

Runner-up: digitalcowboy for "Me and you?" ('cause that was just cute)

3rd Place: JACIII for the poetic combinations


Congrats! Thanks to all for playing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Man Should Have to Kill the Bug, Redux

Over at Vox's, debate, rather discussion, rages about whether or not a man's work is harder than a woman's and whether he should or should not help her with household chores. I've left several lengthy comments in Haloscan over there, so I thought I'd spare Vox and the Volk my rantings and thrust them upon my adoring public.

Points in no particular order (you know I love a good list):

* Heavy labor is more difficult than household chores. Mining and hunting for missing socks do not require the same energy or applied power or strength, no.

* If the most difficult physical thing you do in your jobs, gentlemen, is walk yourself to the men's room, while your wife is at home wrangling children, grocery carts, and laundry baskets up flights of stairs...keep your yap shut. (Yeah, DC, I'm not the only one who can dish it out.......honey chil'! Heehee!)

* Don't play one-upsman with your spouse at the end of the day, and I'm speakin' ta both husbands and wives, when he or she is sharing about his or her hard day. This is a request for understanding and compassion, not for a "Well, you think that's horrible, just let me TELL you!" rebuttal. You're teammates, remember?

* Is it really so awful to help out with the things she cannot reach or the things she's not strong enough to do? Is it so bad to help with diaper changes, 3 am. feedings, the kids' baths? Do you not want to serve your wife and your family? Do you not want to spend time with your kids?

* Is it really so awful to get up early and fix him breakfast before he leaves? It it so awful to iron his shirts? (Well, if you stink at it and can afford the dry cleaner bill, send the shirts and suits to be laundered---better for his professional image.) Don't you want to serve your husband?

* Most men want to come home to quiet, orderly houses with food ready to eat. I've heard and read this one. I get it. Why don't some wives get it?

* Sometimes, dear husbands, your wives just want a show of manliness from you...some risk-taking, adventurous action; some heroic feat...may just be killing that bug that just made her squeal. May be showing her that you can carry all the bags of garbage out at once. Or hauling more bags of groceries in than she can. (I'd LOVE for my husband to do that. I have to make 10 million trips from the car. And those plastic bags cut into the soft skin of my hands!) I dunno. I trust Nate and the other Natenick men could give a better list.

* Appreciate her, appreciate her, appreciate her. With compassion, compassion, compassion. Learn her love language. Thank her. Praise her. Thank her in front of people. Praise her in front of people. And when she's not present too. Know when and when not to tease her about being a goofball.

* Respect him, respect him, respect him. Praise him. Thank him. Brag on him. Encourage him. Follow his lead. Bite your tongue in the moments you think he's being idiotic. Let him see you drool over him...I mean about him. Near him? Oh, confound it! You get the idea.

See all I know and have learned? And I'm not even married yet.

What pearls of wisdom have you to share? (Keep it SFW, please.)

Ciao, dahlinks!

Door Quotes

For an explanation of the term door quote and for the first posting of door quotes go here.

Here are some more:

Overheard at Elena's...

"You can have my crusty part."

"Yeah, I'm not so much the Pooh."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Elena's World

Yes, folks, I am alive. I'm still writing. I'm still as cute, funny, and well heeled as ever. Thanks for missin' me!

I've been a leetle behind at work and now have caught up (mostly), even turning in an assignment over a week early. Woohoo!

Finally saw Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Movie review forthcoming. Also saw The Incredibles. Fantastic flick. Again, complete review forthcoming.

Roller coaster blood sugar levels lately. Ick. That's what being on shots will do for you. That and not dosing at the proper times.

Spring is finally here in Music City. Beautiful green everywhere... The pear trees are dressed in their white April finery. The redbud trees are pinked up. Daffodils are smiling their sunny selves at blue skies. Violets peak out from under the grass blades. Birds are chirping. Insects are tuning up, preparing for summer. (I predict it's gonna be a scorcher this year. Thank goodness, no cicadas are due to arrive. Those things are nasty.)


You haven't had a good traffic rant from me in a while. Well, my local friends have had to endure my rants. Here's a guide to driving in Music City:
* Turn signals are good things. Use them when preparing to turn or change lanes. Turn signals: they look good on you.
* Merge early. I think that TDOT actually is running a campaign with this idea. Folks, you have nothing to prove by riding out the white line on the right till the lane peters out. If you are familiar with the particular section of the interstate, GET OVER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! And do use your signal. Which brings us to...
* Use your signal! (I can't repeat this one enough.) If you will signal, I'll let you in front of me, or I'll speed up so's you can get behind me.
* If I'm signaling, let me in! It's one thing if it's a plain stretch o' road with nary an exit in sight, but when I'm trying to get to the exit I need, LET ME IN, ya moron!
* Note: It does not insult your manhood or womanhood to have people be in front of you on the road. It proves nothing for you to be ahead of the pack. Now, I do understand if you are hurrying to get a good parking spot. Goodness knows, parking downtown is at a premium. Just don't run over or clip other drivers' cars in your morning rush, please.
* If it's raining, please don't abandon your senses and drive way over the speed limit or way under. Drive cautiously, yes. Drive smartly, yes. Not stupidly.
* If you know how to drive in snow, please volunteer your transportation services to those of us who don't know how or who tremble in fear at the mention of the dreaded four-letter winter precipitation word. Better yet, teach someone how to drive on snow and ice.
* If it is overcast, raining, snowing, or foggy, please use your headlights appropriately.
* If your headlamp(s) go out, go get new ones. Conveniently available in the motor supplies section at your local Wal-Mart. And don't tell me you don't have a Wal-Mart. They're everywhere. Everyone has one. So anyway, don't blind people by driving with your brights on.
* Don't tailgate. It's rude. And can be dangerous.
* NO rubbernecking. If the accident victims or pulled-over vehicle(s) are not actually IN your lane, don't slow down. Who cares that the car was on fire? Who cares that you can see the blood all over the stretcher? Say a prayer as you pass by, and go the speed limit! Provided some igmo in front of you is not slowed down....if he or she is, then yeah, you gotta slow down. But don't cause other people to be late merely to satisfy your curiosity.
* No weaving and stopping for no reason.

Heh... *thuds to a stop* That's all I can think of for right now. More posts later as inspiration strikes!

The Polka-dotted Scarf Awards

Somehow that doesn't ring quite like "The Voxies." Oh well... If you have an idea for a better name for my awards, feel free to share.

During the past few weeks (and from before, too), these folks have earned recognition for their kindness, their admirable qualities, or their ability to make me laugh. A porcelain LladrĂ³-like statuette of a young woman waving a scarf goes to you all for these reasons:

Sweetest Gesture: StarGazer. When I was sick Sunday. Thanks, my friend.

Looking Out for My Best Interest: Pink Kitty

Best Coming Out of Shell Moment: SalsaGuy. Shut up long enough, and he'll bare his soul.

Nicest Compliments: digitalcowboy and Res Ispa tie for this one.

Friendliest Bloggin' Females: another tie: Miss O'Hara, Arielle, and bufelda

Best 2-by-4 Postings: yet another tie: Vox Day, Nate, and digitalcowboy

Funniest Rednecks: this would be shared by the brothers three: JACIII, Welldigger, and Nate (reflecting the birth order)

Funniest Blogger: Jeff of Protein Wisdom

Cuttin' to the Heart of the Issue: Wes, Res Ispa, Difster

Challenging Me Spiritually and Intellectually: braymp, SalsaGuy, StarGazer, and Pink Kitty

Best Kick in the Tookas: Ashpenaz

Best Listening to Me Whine: JRMama