Thursday, October 19, 2017


As family and friends would attest, I quote Mark Twain very often.  For my own amusement I just used/misused the word "very" in the preceding sentence.

I seldom use the word "very" as I follow Twain's Rule # 5.

See the article below from Richard Nordquist:

Widely regarded as the greatest American writer of his time, Mark Twain was often asked for advice on the art and craft of writing.  Sometimes the famous humorist would respond seriously, and sometimes not.  Here in remarks drawn from his letters, essays, novels, and speeches, are ten of Twain's most remarkable observations on the writer's craft: 

                10 TIPS FROM MARK TWAIN

1.  Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as you please.

2.  use the right word, not its second cousin.

3.  as to the adjective:  when in doubt, strike it out.

4.  you need not expect to get your book right the first time.  go to work and revamp or rewrite it.  God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention.  These are god's adjectives .  You thunder and lightning too much:  the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.

5.  substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very;  your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

6.  use good grammar.

7.  damnation (if you will allow the expression), get up and take a turn around the block;  let the sentiment blow off you.  Sentiment is for girls.  there is one thing i can't stand and won't stand from many people.  that is, sham sentimentality.

8.  use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences.  that is the way to write english;  it is the modern way and the best way.  stick to it;  don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.

9.  the time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.

10. write without pay until somebody offers pay.  if nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I have been a caregiver since 2004 and it has been quite a learning experience for me.  My first assignment was with a woman who had been diagnosed with dementia.  Her family had decided that she needed around-the-clock care.  After the death of her husband, she had lived alone for a number of years and her family had not recognized the onset of  her dementia until one day the police called her son when she was found walking on the highway several miles from her home and couldn't remember where she'd left her car.   By the time of my assignment, she no longer was allowed to drive, had memory loss and lapses, and frequently misplaced items.   It was unsafe for her to use the kitchen range or the iron.  I was there to prepare and make sure she ate her meals, take her medicine, prevent her from wandering away, and to keep her safe.  

Her son stopped by daily as he controlled the estate.  He insisted that his mother maintain a schedule and to do chores such as the laundry.  She had obviously been spoiled all of her life, telling me that she'd always had a "cleaning lady" and she was upset that her son now expected her to do her own cleaning and laundry.  She bewailed that he didn't understand that she "needed" to visit the beauty shop to have her hair and nails "done" regularly.  She was able to bathe and dress herself, although not well, as her colors and patterns were oftentimes uncoordinated and inappropriate for the season.

My time with her was enjoyable because she regaled me with fascinating stories and gossip about prominent people of years ago when she and her husband entertained and socialized with "high muckety-mucks" of the community.  I enjoyed listening to Jeopardy! while cleaning up after dinner and she enjoyed watching Wheel Of Fortune and then, to my continued amusement, every evening she watched two episodes of reruns of Charlie Sheen's Two And A Half Men sitcom.  I would be surprised that she chuckled at the double entendres and would say, "Do you believe that?" about Charlie's character's naughtiness.

Once a week friends would come to take her out to dinner.  After being with her two weeks I noticed that she had not washed her hair.   One Friday, as she was ready to have her bath, I asked if she were going to wash her hair.  She told me that she had not washed her own hair in thirty years as she always went to the beauty shop twice a week.  She said that she had been on her way to the beauty shop when she "got lost".  

WHAT?  Never washed her own hair?  THIRTY YEARS?  I told her I would wash her hair.  I looked in the bathroom closet and there was no shampoo or conditioner. [There was plenty of  L'air du Temps products; not only was she was surprised that I knew the fragrance but also that I knew how to pronounce it.   Oh, do I need to mention that she thought everyone outside her "class" was ignorant?] I asked her what kind of shampoo she liked and she said the last time she bought shampoo she thought it was White Rain. I asked myself, "White Rain? Do they make it any more?"  I looked on the internet and learned that it was still produced.  I went to Dollar General and the White Rain shampoo and conditioner were $1.00 each.  I also bought a bottle of hair spray and a rinse which her beautician told me she used. 

She had no rollers or other hair-setting materials but I saw that she had a container of bobby pins.  I "put her hair up" with the bobby pins, dried, brushed it out, styled and sprayed. When her friends came to pick her up for dinner, they complimented her hair.  After that we had a weekly ritual of washing, tinting, and setting her hair before her dinner date. 

After her son placed her in a nursing home,  I went to visit once and although she no longer remembered my name, she told others there about my washing her hair.

Monday, October 16, 2017


My brother Neil dropped off a large bag of apples and said that maybe he could have some apple pie.  I made an apple pie and Gerald shared with him.  Since then, I have cooked apples, made apple/cinnamon monkey bread, apple crisp, and apple cobbler.  

My brother Les asked, "Remember apple pan dowdy?"  I said, "Yeah, it makes your tummy say howdy!"  He asked, "Hunh?"  Naturally I had to begin singing the song.  He screaked, "TMI, TMI!"  

I got out Mother's recipe and decided to make it.  Les asked, "WTH makes it dowdy?  I thought that dowdy meant a frumpy woman."  Reading the recipe, I answered, "You have to press the dough down to 'dowdy' it--that makes it look rather frumpy;  it's called dowdying!"

My mother loved Dinah Shore and we were exposed to her entire repertoire.  Listen to the classic Shoe Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy:

Sunday, October 15, 2017


After reading the BEAUTIFUL WORDS article, Mona Lisa asked, "What is YOUR most beautiful word?"  I answered, "INEFFABLE."  I continued, "Perhaps it's the fact that the word means that it's too great to be expressed or described in words."

I reminded her that I already wrote about my favorite words.  From Sue's News in 2016:

                              "IT'S BENIGN!"

The most beautiful words in the English language:  IT'S BENIGN!

After waiting FIVE days to learn the result of a biopsy, I was certainly relieved to hear those words "It's benign."  It's a quote from Woody Allen.

Maxim Gorky wrote that the most beautiful words in the English language are:  "NOT GUILTY!"

Dorothy Parker wrote that "CHECK ENCLOSED." are the most beautiful words.

Henry James wrote that "SUMMER AFTERNOON" have always been the most beautiful words in the English language.

I recall that years ago I read that the word "murmur" is supposed to be the most beautiful word;  I have long loved the sound of "ineffable", "mellifluous", "ethereal", "serendipity", and "ephemeral".

Saturday, October 14, 2017


From Richard Nordquist:
In a "Beautiful Words" contest held in 1911 by the Public Speaking Club of America, several submissions were deemed "insufficiently beautiful";  among them were grace, truth, and justice.
In the judgment of Grenville Kleiser, then a popular author of books on oratory, "The harshness of the g in grace and the j in justice disqualified them, and truth was turned down because of its metallic sound" (Journal of Education, Feb., 1911).
Over the years there have been countless playful surveys of the most beautiful-sounding words in English. Perennial favorites include lullaby, gossamer, murmuring, luminous, Aurora Borealis, and velvet. But not all recommendations have been so predictable or so obviously euphonious.
  • When the New York Herald Tribune asked poet Dorothy Parker for her list of beautiful words, she replied, "To me, the most beautiful word in the English language is cellar-door. Isn't it wonderful? The ones I like, though, are check and enclosed."
  • James Joyce, author of Ulysses, chose cuspidor as the single most beautiful word in English.
  • In the second volume of the Book of Lists, philologist Willard R. Espy identified gonorrhea as one of the ten most beautiful words.
  • Poet Carl Sandburg chose Monongahela.
  • Another poet, Rosanne Coggeshall, selected sycamore.
  • Ilan Stavans, a Mexican-American essayist and lexicographer, dismissed the "clich├ęs" on a British Council survey of beautiful words (which included mother, passion, and smile) and instead nominated moon, wolverine, anaphora, and precocious.
  • The favorite word of British author Tobias Hill is dog. Though he acknowledges that "canine is a beautiful word, fit for a medieval greyhound in a tapestry," he prefers "the spareness of the Anglo-Saxon in England."
  • Novelist Henry James said that for him the most beautiful words in English were summer afternoon.
  • When British essayist Max Beerbohm found out that gondola had been chosen as one of the most beautiful words, he replied that scrofula sounded the same to him.
Of course, like other beauty contests, these verbal competitions are shallow and absurd. Yet consciously or not, don't most of us favor certain words for their sound as well as their sense?