Tuesday, May 31, 2016


In a recent posting in a Facebook "chat room", I used the word "benighted";  a person responded that my using a word meaning to make someone a knight was hardly the correct word to use.

Although taken aback, I thought to myself, "Doesn't he see there is no K in there?"  I did not attack the person but merely answered with the definition of "benighted":  

in a state of pitiable or contemptible or moral ignorance, typically owing to a lack of opportunity.  Example:  "They saw themselves as bringers of culture to poor benighted people." 

I was attacked left and right (in reality, I think most of the people from this site are from the RIGHT) and was accused by one of using "$3.00 words" (and there I thought benighted was a $2.00 word!).

When I confronted another man about posting lies about a person, he responded that he'd heard the stuff from other people. I replied that he should not use second-hand information and used a quote from Churchill: "They say so is half a lie.";   he then wrote that Churchill meant the use of "heresay". When I responded with, "Did you mean to use HEARSAY or HERESY?",  I was met with ad hominem comments.   Of course. I did know that the man meant "HEARSAY" rather than his misspelled "HERESAY",  but I didn't appreciate his implying that I did not know the meaning of the Churchill quote.

OK, I admit that I was petty, but benighted people do bring out the worst in me!

Monday, May 30, 2016


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. 

It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, National Commander of The Grand Army Of The Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized groups of women in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. While Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May, 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860s, tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in General Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868.  It is not important who was the very first; what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the observance changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every state of the Union on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in more than 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December, 2000, which states that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans: "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction in returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend (in with the National Holiday Act of 1971), it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

On January 19, 1999, Senator Inouye introduced Senate Bill 189 in the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999, Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform. To date, there has been no further development on the bills.

TAKE A MOMENT TO STOP AND REMEMBER--AS OUR FAMILY DOES--my Great-Grandfather Levi Shirkey, Meigs County, Ohio volunteer:

Sunday, May 29, 2016


For many Americans, Memorial Day signifies a guaranteed three-day weekend, one when banks, the post office, and government offices are closed.   Unfortunately, many now view it as just another holiday.  In fact, it rankles me for someone to refer to the day as a holiday and I quickly comment, "Observance."

But Memorial Day is much more than that; it’s a time for Americans to reflect collectively on the impact of the lives lost in U.S. wars and to celebrate all war veterans, a national day of mourning.

Many cities, towns, and states hold traditional observances over the three-day weekend. The activities include parades and visits to national cemeteries where United States war veterans are buried. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, “On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.”

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), Memorial Day historically signified the day that U.S. individuals recognized those who fought, and more importantly, those who died in the Civil War. Although it began as a tribute only to those who fought in the Civil War, it is now considered a day of observance to recognize soldiers who have fought in all U.S. wars.

The actual date of remembrance has varied over time; the VA has record of past days of observance on April 25th, May 5th, and May 30th. Since the 1970s, Memorial Day has been observed on the last day in May. Furthermore, since the year 2000, U.S. citizens have been asked to pause for one minute of silence at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, to commemorate all who died as they served the United States; this minute of silence is called the National Moment of Remembrance.

Look for the history of Memorial Day tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


At lunch yesterday, the group was discussing Memorial Day preparations.

One woman said, "EWWW, I don't like to go to cemeteries."   I found that comment to be rather off-putting, but not surprising, as I have heard similar excuses from numerous people for their not going to cemeteries.

I responded, "How many people do you know who LIKE to go to cemeteries?"  Nearly everyone proclaimed a dislike of cemeteries.

Another person asked me, "Do YOU like to go to cemeteries?"

I responded, "I'm not exactly a taphophile, just more of a respecter."  Another person there, a long-time friend, asked, "TAP-OH-WHAT?"  I answered, "A taphophile is a lover of cemeteries;  it's from the Greek; taph meaning tomb, and phile meaning a fondness of;  thus taphophile."   She said, "Of course you would know the word for it!"

I continued, "Of course I don't like to go when I'm burying someone I love, but I do when I am seeing interesting tombstones and I believe it's our moral obligation to take care of cemeteries."  A person commented that that sounded "rather preachy" of me.

Another person asked, "Have you been to her house?  She has a tombstone rubbing framed on her wall!"

Friday, May 27, 2016


My friend Mona Lisa sent this Facebook message to me in response to an article about my having bumper stickers.  I am constantly razzed about my bumper stickers.  My niece calls my car "The Sticker-mobile".  My brother said there are two kinds of people in the world:  those who put bumper stickers on their cars and those who do not.  

When I bought a new car there were bets among family and friends about how long it would take me to have bumper stickers on the new car.  The winner chose:  "Less than a week."  One quipped, "Are you going to peel ones from the old cars?"

The only car I have not adorned with bumper stickers is the Corvette.    I was tempted to have a sticker made proclaiming, "I'd rather be driving my Maserati", which would be a gibe at those vainglorious Corvette owners who place stickers on their other vehicles proclaiming, "I'd rather be driving my Corvette."   See the actual license plate holder which I have but refuse to use on the Corvette.  

My brother said that it was bad enough that I had  bumper stickers on my cars, but that it would be "immoral" to put a bumper sticker on the Corvette.  I shrieked, "Immoral? Perhaps exhibitionist!"  My other brother just chimed in, "No, merely trashy!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Years ago, I was making an Italian dish which used polenta as its base.

As I assembled the mix, I let out a shriek, "This is just MUSH!"

My brother, ever the wit, said, "Ah, but you must admit that polenta sounds much more appetizing than saying MUSH!"

I laughed and sang out, "Peas polenta hot, peas polenta cold, peas polenta in the pot, nine days old!"

He asked, "Hunh?"  I said, "PORRIDGE is just HOT MUSH!"


1 cup medium or fine corn meal
4-5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

For soft polenta, use 4 cups water;  for hard polenta, use 5 cups water.  In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add 1 teaspoon salt.  Pour corn meal slowly into boiling water and stir until thickened; turn heat on low, cook at least 45", stirring every 10 minutes.


4 cups water
1 cup Quaker Corn Meal
1 teaspoon salt

Bring 3 cups water to a boil;  combine remaining 1 cup water, corn meal, and salt and mix thoroughly;  slowly pour mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.  Cover; continue cooking over low heat for 5 minutes;  stir.  Serve hot with butter, milk, sugar, syrup, salt, and pepper, or whatever you like.

For FRIED MUSH, pour completed mush into a buttered dish, refrigerate until solid, slice and fry.

The recipe above, which I have used all of my cooking life, is from the back of the box of Quaker Corn Meal, and I'm certain that my mother used the same recipe before me, and it was probably also used by my grandmothers.

I have often wondered why the company still markets the product in the round box;  surely a square box would be easier to produce and stock on shelves, but I never hesitate to grab the round box, rather than other brands, although other corn meal is usually cheaper.

Oh, by the way, the recipe for MUSH is much easier than the recipe for POLENTA because of less cooking time, and mixing the corn meal with water prior to adding it to the boiling water reduces the problem with lumps!

I can't imagine putting PEAS in my mush/porridge or eating it after nine days!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Recently, in conversation with a young friend, I used a quote from a movie and I was surprised that he did not "get" the reference.  I asked, "You've never seen that movie?"  He said that he hadn't and that he didn't even like movies.  

I was in disbelief and thought,  "HOW could anyone NOT like movies?", but rather than asking that, I asked, "So you don't like ANY movies?" He answered,, "No, I don't understand why people are so gung-ho about movies."  I asked, "Are you just generalizing or is it that you don't like certain genres?"   Knowing that he had an interest in politics, crime, mysteries, and that he enjoyed seeing plays, I couldn't help myself and asked, "Even documentaries or Broadway adaptations?"  He reiterated that he didn't like ANY movies.  

Knowing that he liked to see musical plays, I asked, "Do you like music?" He answered that he did and seemed bewildered that I would ask.

I said, "I was fearful you also suffered from ANHEDONIA!" He asked, "What's that?" I told him that was the term for people who do not like music.  I said, "I don't know if there's a word for people who don't like movies;  maybe anti-cineaste would be apt."

He asked, incredulously, "How could anybody not like music?" 


He said, "I don't get it."  I answered, "You know that "point-counterpoint" is a term used in debates and counterpoint is  musical term and since I made a point comparing not liking movies and music......."  I discontinued my thought when I saw that he wasn't understanding my humor and I said, "Oh, Hell, if I must explain the witticism, then it is futile!"

Monday, May 23, 2016


In 2012 I wrote a BLOG article MIREPOIX (see below) about learning about the word used in Cajun cooking to describe the finely diced combination of sauteed onions, celery, and carrots. It is also known as "The Holy Trinity"in cooking.  

Now, the word "mirepoix" easily rolls off our tongues as if we've used it all of our lives.

Today, at Kroger, as I was looking for Lima beans in the frozen vegetables section, I spotted a package of frozen MIREPOIX!  When I came home, I said to Les, "Look what I found at Kroger!"

He said, "Well, that certainly shows the influence of cooking shows;  Hell, we used to just say frozen mixed vegetables!"  Later, he said, "P.T. Barnum was right;  you probably paid more because it was labeled MIREPOIX!"


When hearing a word for the first time, it's interesting how many times one hears the word used after that. One has probably heard the word before but it did not register until one makes a connection. Two of my friends told me that they had never heard the word SCHADENFREUDE until they read it in my Blog posting (see Sue's News, February 2, 2010, "SCHADENFREUDE") but after that they heard it a number of times. Both would either call or e-mail me and it became "OUR" word and now they both use the word themselves.

Two days ago Les asked, "Do you know the word MIREPOIX?" I answered that I did not and he told me that he'd heard it on several cooking shows. We looked it up and it means: "A combination of finely diced, sauteed onions, carrots and celery used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauses, soups and other foods." Yesterday, watching an old Dr. Oz tape, the guest, Andrew Zimmern, said, "Make a simple mirepoix." Simple mirepoix! Excitedly, I yelled for Les to come to listen.

I told Les, "This will be our new "refrigerator game!"

Les asked, "How about CHIFFONADE?"

Julia Child would be proud of me because I actually knew that one!

But just tell me how I'm going to throw those two words into casual conversation. I'm reminded of when I used MACERATE and Ziggy thought I'd used another word (see Sue's News, January 22, 2010, "ZIGGY").

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Last year I published a BLOG article I DON'T FEEL BAD ABOUT DISLIKING DONALD TRUMP (see below) where I referenced his misuse of the phrase "I feel badly";  today my friend Mona Lisa sent a note referencing that article:  "Let's send this to Donald Trump for whom we do not feel bad!" and sent this poem:

                              I DON'T FEEL BAD ABOUT DISLIKING DONALD TRUMP
My brother just reminded me of another reason to dislike Donald Trump (as if I needed one). He recalled that when Cyndi Lauper appeared on Celebrity Apprentice, the boorish Trump cavalierly corrected her when she said "I feel bad" when he interrupted her and said, "I feel badly.";  unfortunately, she allowed him to get by with that bullying.  Perhaps Trump wasn't taught grammar when he attended school in the Bronx. 
F.Y.I.,  Donald, BAD is an ADJECTIVE and BADLY is an ADVERB.  Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns, thus, "I" (the pronoun) feel BAD  Adverbs modify VERBS;  e.g.:  "He was BADLY injured."It's difficult to imagine anyone being able to tolerate Trump long enough to watch that show, but like that incident,  I have actually had people--not very subtly--try to correct my usage of "I feel bad" by uttering "I feel badly" shortly thereafter.  It just provided me with an opportunity to tell about Miss Digman, my favorite grammarian, grabbing the hand of a classmate who had said the unpardonable phrase "I feel badly", and her scolding, "You feel BAD unless your fingers aren't working properly."  My brother says that people probably think that saying "badly" sounds better than saying "bad".  Do they also say  or write "I FEEL GLADLY", "I FEEL MADLY", "I FEEL SADLY", OR "I FEEL HAPPILY"?



Saturday, May 21, 2016


See the definition of  FLIP-FLOCKS from The Urban Dictionary:

I recall when OLD men would wear socks with open-toed sandals, and while that was somewhat sad, it wasn't exactly a "heinous combination" as described about flip-flocks, but I actually saw a YOUNG person wearing flip-flops with socks!

Friday, May 20, 2016


"Hey, man!" "Say, man!" "Oh, man!" "Man, oh, man!"

I wondered where the term "man" originated when used in those ways.

When I wondered aloud to my fount-of-knowledge, he said, "Oh, it's from black jazz musicians who were tired of being referred to as boys!"

I screaked, "HOW would you know that?"

"I just know things, MAN!"

When I persisted, he challenged, "Just look it up, MAN!"

Oftentimes, I don't know whether he is putting me on, just being quick-witted, or a combination of both.  I have researched for an hour and have found nothing to substantiate his assertion. 

 When he reads this, he might--or might not--tell me HOW he knows!  Man, oh man!

Thursday, May 19, 2016


A woman with whom I volunteer at a local organization, uses the term "thingy" to describe objects she handles.

I am reminded about an incident where a person was to be chosen to represent the Division for a round table discussion about quality issues. The company's Vice-President would be conducting the meeting and we were supposed to choose a person from a supervisory position, but with "hands-on experience".  As my Department had the best quality rating for the entire Division, my boss said the person should come from my area.

I felt that it was important that we choose someone who would represent the Division well and this would also be an opportunity to showcase someone who could be "promotable".

The obvious choice would've been to send the person who had the best quality rating.  I stated that to my boss and I told him the name of the person whose section had the best quality record.

He vetoed the idea with the caustic sentence, "Nah, she might describe a fuselage as a THINGY."

I gasped and said, "Yes, she does say that and she also says thingamajig!"  He continued, "I cringe every time we're in a production meeting and she uses those kind of cutesy terms;  I won't risk her embarrassing the Department."

When I said that I had attributed that usage to her being from Tulsa, my boss answered tersely, "You know, that's pretty offensive;  I'm from the South, and I don't speak that way."


Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I usually enjoy being with younger people. A young friend had invited me to have lunch. In the midst of our conversation, he began "texting";  I reprimanded him about his bad manners and he said, "I'm listening!" I said, "No you weren't; you were texting, and trust me, you are not clever enough to multi-task!"

He said, "I was listening; I know what you said!"

I said, "OK, then tell me what I said just before I yelled at you."

He answered, "You said old dog!"

I said, "No, my sentence was that I wouldn't want to be old AND dull!"

I told him that in the future, if he began texting, I would get up and leave, and he could text to his heart's content, but I wouldn't be there.

Hey, that would be one way to get out of my picking up the check.

The last time we were together, he had the phone on his thigh, and he obviously thought that I was either too stupid, unaware, or unobservant not to notice his surreptitious glancing and texting.  I got up and said, "I'm leaving."  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


A young friend asked if I wanted to "hang out";  I don't know what that means, but I agreed to "visit" or "do something";  I guess that's the same as "hanging out".

So, there I was, wearing a Kasper for A.S.L. spring suit, thinking that I was looking quite SPIFFY..

He asked, "So you want to go bowling?"

I immediately gleaned that he meant that my jacket looked like a bowling shirt!  I couldn't be TOO offended, because I always say, "I would forgive almost anything if it were funny!" Dammit, that was funny!

I answered, in a pitiable tone, "Waaaannnh, I thought I looked spiffy."

He asked, "What's spiffy?"

Definition of the adjective spiffy:  "smart in appearance, fashionable, well-dressed, elegant, trendy, stylish, or chic."

I guess it might be fashionable bowling attire.

Monday, May 16, 2016


I've written before about my friend who invariably begins a conversation with this question, "What have you learned new today?", because I once told her that I learned something new every day.

Because a friend of ours follows a mostly gluten-free diet, I try to accommodate that when he's a dinner guest.  As I was researching gluten-free options, I learned that BUCKWHEAT is NOT related to WHEAT, as it is not a grass.

KASHA, I now learn, is made from roasted buckwheat groats.

The origin of buckwheat is believed to come from China or central Asia. It is a fruit seed and it is related to rhubarb, sorrel, and knot wood, thus it is a suitable substitute for people with Celiac disease and other problems associated with sensitivity to grains which contain gluten.

Buckwheat is very nutritious. Whole buckwheat can be used as a substitute for rice and can be cooked as cereal. Buckwheat flour can be used in making cakes, bread, and PANCAKES..

Mother used to make buckwheat pancakes. After reading about buckwheat, I was waxing reminiscent about those pancakes. Les and I decided to make some because we both remembered the buckwheat pancakes with fondness.

I now have a nearly-full box of Aunt Jemima's Buckwheat Pancake Mix
to give to someone. Any takers? Obviously the pancakes weren't as good as we remembered.


Sunday, May 15, 2016


Recently, I spent six hours with a person who used the phrase "You know?" 486 times!

YES, I did keep count.  WHY did I keep count?  It's because on the previous day, I had spent eight hours with her and my mind was reeling from her usage of "You know?" and "Do you know what I mean?" that day.  Sometimes I would respond, "No, I don't know.", but that did not deter her. To maintain civility and to keep my sanity, I merely kept making hash marks to document the usage.

My brother asked why I had shut down early and I answered, "It was starting to drizzle, but I couldn't stand to hear 'YOU KNOW' one more time."  He said, "At least she didn't use AWESOME!"  My brother said that I should have told her about it.  I said, "A lot of studies report that it takes 21 days to break a habit;  I'm not going to spend 21 days monitoring her."

Many people use these "FILLER PHRASES" and they are also known as "DISCOURSE PARTICLES".in their daily speech.  I know that I am guilty of using "ANYWAY" as a filler phrase. See this link:  Like, Uh, You Know:  Why do Americans say 'You know' and use other verbal fillers so often?

Even our usually eloquent President uses "You know" excessively, but his overuse of "Uh" and "Um" are the targets of "drinking games" whenever we listen to a speech!  Listen to this tape from Late Night With David Letterman:

Perhaps the worst offender I ever heard was Caroline Kennedy when she was considering a run for a U.S. Senate seat.  I cringed when I heard her use "you know" a whopping 142 times during a 30-minute interview.

If this seems that I am attacking only Democrats, that would be unfair, because if I were to cite the Bush family's blunders, I would still be writing this article next year.

Ronald Reagan was famous for his use of the filler word "Well".   I think every impressionist used the elongated "WELLLLL" when imitating him.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


As a kid, I became an Audrey Hepburn fan when I first saw her in Roman Holiday and I was taken by her beauty and talent.   Later, I grew to admire her, after learning of her escaping from the Nazis and her philanthropic work.

In 1953, while she was making the movie Sabrina, Audrey met the designer Hubert de Givenchy and they became close friends; although she chose clothes for the movie from his collection, Edith Head wrongly received an Academy Award for the movie although the clothes were Givenchy's creations. The "Sabrina look" was very fashionable. Givenchy designed clothes for Audrey's other movies as well as for her personal use. In 1957, Hubert Givenchy created a perfume exclusively for Audrey for her personal use and gave it to her as a surprise. Audrey's friends soon wanted the perfume and she asked Givenchy to put it on the market. He said, jokingly, "I forbid it.", thus the name L'Interdit, which means "the forbidden" in French, was chosen.   As soon as he was ready to launch the perfume for general sale, Audrey offered her help for the ad campaign. Audrey refused to negotiate any compensation from Givenchy for using her name and image; she said she just wanted to help a friend.

Advertisements for the perfume appeared in fashion magazines with Richard Avedon photographs of Audrey with the caption "Once, she was the only woman allowed to wear this perfume. L'Interdit Created by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn";  I knew that it had to be MY perfume, but I was a kid and I obviously could not have it, but when I grew up and went to work, the first "luxury" I rewarded myself with was to go to Lazarus to buy a bottle of L'Interdit! I wore the perfume from the 1960s until it was discontinued in the 1990s. For several years after that I could order it from Europe but then that supply evaporated. Sadly, I had to select another perfume to wear.

In 2002 the "re-formulated" L'Interdit was introduced and I was greatly disappointed because it was nothing like the original. There is a webpage dedicated to comments about how terrible the "reformulated" perfume is. L'Interdit users are obviously loyal and passionate!

I still have a partially-used box of original L'Interdit powder and can continue to open that box to recall the original scent. I have kept the beautiful, empty classic bottles on my dresser.

My fantasy is to be able to acquire the original formula for L'Interdit and go to the House of Caron in Paris to have the perfume duplicated for me.

Friday, May 13, 2016


Just for fun, I always say that 13 is my lucky number as I am definitely NOT superstitious;  I also say that my "sign" is either STOP or YIELD, rather than admitting to a knowledge of astrology.

Recently a friend told me that I was incorrect in saying that TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA is the term for the fear of Friday the 13th;  the actual correct word is PARASKEVIDEKATRIAPHOBIA.

See the article from The Urban Dictionary:  Of course, I love the last line:  "Though it has a serious use in psychology, it seems to exist mostly to provide an opportunity for people like me to show off weird words from classical languages."

Fear of the number 13.  
Strictly, the word does refer only to fear of the number 13, but it’s often extended to mean fear of the inauspicious date Friday 13th.  Every year has at least one Friday the 13th.   The word’s origins are all Greek, from tris, “three”, kai, “and”, deka, “ten” (so making thirteen), plus phobia, “fear, flight”. The word is a modern formation, dating only from 1911 (it first appeared in I H Coriat’s Abnormal Psychology). Though it has a serious use in psychology, it seems to exist mostly to provide an opportunity for people like me to show off weird words from classical languages. I'm triskaidekaphobic (no I'm not).

Thursday, May 12, 2016


In my family, I'm the only one remaining who is always willing to try unusual and different foods. As I recall, my brother Kenny and I were the only adventuresome ones who would try any new foods. My mother always planted something unusual in her garden each year; how well I remember kohl rabi, rutabagas, salsify, and spaghetti squash. My brother Norman was considered "The Master Gardener" in the family and he carried on Mother's manteau;  one time,  he said, "I never thought about it before but that's probably why I always plant something different every year because Mom did." As kids we used to eat paw paws and persimmons from Grandpa's farm, but no doubt that was because they came from Grandpa's; otherwise, the boys probably wouldn't have touched them. 

My mother cooked all kinds of wild game including pheasant, rabbit, turtle, ground hog, and muskrat (Mother used the euphemism "marsh rabbit"). At Thanksgiving, I still make our family favorite: squash pie made from the lovely Kushaw squash.  I admit that I have inflicted arugula, pummelos, Meyer lemons, cherimoyas, shayote squash, tomatillos, ugli fruit, star fruit, carambola, and clementines on my family. [P.T. Barnum was right!] Before he met me, my husband's idea of vegetables was green beans and corn. He had never tasted broccoli and cauliflower before he met me. He doesn't like asparagus, peas or hominy, but I can serve nearly anything else and he will at least try it.

Swai has become a favorite of mine. When I saw swai at Kroger, I asked the meat manger about it, but he didn't have any information. I fixed it and as I was eating it, I exclaimed, "This tastes like catfish!" As I love catfish, this was a wonderful find. I jumped to check on the internet and I learned that swai IS catfish from Southeast Asia! "A rose by any other name...."?

I saw edamame in the frozen food section and never having seen it previously, I thought "How bad could a vegetable be?" I brought it home and I fixed half of the bag right away for lunch. Something looked vaguely familiar to me but I thought the edamame must be in the pea family. I fixed it with butter, salt, and pepper as instructed. As I tasted them, I said, "These are SOYBEANS!" I decided to look it up on the internet--I didn't know how to pronounce it and it wasn't in any of my several dictionaries--but I learned that edamame is unripened soybeans. When we were kids, Mother would shell them and cook them;   that's why they looked familiar.  [I was just now reflecting on the lowly soybean: bean sprouts, tofu, soy milk, and all of those Morningstar Farm products come from soybeans.]

Would I have bought the edamame if I'd realized it was just common soybeans?  Of course not!  Would I have spent $4.99 for a box of clementines if I'd known that they were just mandarin oranges?  Of course not!  Would I have bought swai if I'd known it was just catfish?  Of course I would:  it was $1.00 cheaper on the pound, folks!

I remember when my sister-in-law came from Korea in 1968 and after she'd been with us awhile, one day I opened the door to the up ground cellar to be hit in the face with an overwhelming smell--she was growing bean sprouts in the cellar--and through the years she influenced us with other items such as bok choy, gai lan, mung beans, and sweet potato vines.  I can recall how excited she was when she learned that she could pick mustard greens in the field beside our house. She gathered several trash bags full and put them in the freezer. My mother always picked dandelions, watercress, shepherd sprouts, lambs quarter, mustard, and a little bit of dock for our "mess of greens".

I plan to have company for dinner this week and I want to serve a different kind of salad;   I bought "green butter lettuce and red butter lettuce" instead of romaine, spinach, escarole, endive, iceberg, Bibb or ARUGULA! (Oh, I can't be having arugula or people might think I've joined some "elite" group, because I recall a certain politician who was ridiculed for discussing arugula!)  I've eaten arugula and it was not pleasing to my palate.   I'm going to shell edamame, cook, and then chill them and add them to the salad. 

I don't know how to say "bon appetit" in any Asian language!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


My friend Mona Lisa sent this quiz to me, writing, "This is a quiz for people who know everything.  These are straight questions with straight answers."

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters "dw" and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter "S". 

10.  Name the only food which does not spoil.

Answers To Quiz:

1. The one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends: boxing.

2. North American landmark constantly moving backward: Niagara Falls. The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.

3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons: asparagus and rhubarb.

4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside: strawberry.

5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small and are wired in place on the tree.The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.

6. Three English words beginning with "dw": dwarf, dwell, and dwindle.

7. Fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar: period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parentheses, braces, and ellipses.

8. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh: lettuce.

9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter "S": shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, and stilts.

10.  Honey.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


May 10 is NATIONAL SHRIMP DAY.  Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the United States.

SHRIMP--how do I love thee?--let me count the ways:

SHRIMP SCAMPI (which is really SHRIMP SHRIMP because "scampi" is shrimp in Italian)

My friend Patty and I used to order take-out lunches of shrimp and noodles from a restaurant in Marysville which was run by Korean folks.  Each time, on the take-out containers, was written SHIRMP.  To this day, we say SHIRMP!

Monday, May 9, 2016


While shopping at Aldi's, I saw a beautifully dressed woman wearing a plaid jacket, blouse with a jabot, skirt, hose, and flat shoes with a wedge heel.  Undoubtedly, from this description,  you have gleaned that this was an OLDER woman--well, at least, older than myself--because most women do not "dress up" to go to the store.  Later, in relating this encounter to my brother, he said, "That sounds like something you would wear!"  Oftentimes, people ask me why I am always "dressed up";  I always respond that these are the only clothes I have.  (I do not own jeans, shorts, or sweat pants.) My husband says that I do have a "uniform":  blouse, jacket, and blazer, combined with with either a skirt or slacks.

In the store today were also grown-up women wearing fleece pajamas, one woman wearing a strapless sundress, with others wearing shorts and jackets at the same time.  At 50 degrees, I need a jacket!

The woman and I were at the banana bin and I told her that I wanted both green and yellow bananas because my husband, brother, and I eat a banana daily and we have totally different desires in bananas.  I like bananas hard, barely ripe, Gerald likes them ripe, and Les likes them very ripe, flecked with brown spots;  thus I need to buy various degrees of banana ripeness.

The woman said, "Honey, you look familiar."  I introduced myself and she responded, "My name is Alpha Leda."  I asked, "Is that spelled A-L-P-H-A-L-E-D-A?"  She replied, "Yes, but it's two separate names."  I asked, "Were you the first born in your family?" She answered, "Yes, how did you know?"  I said, "Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet."  When she told me that there were eight in her family, I asked, "Did they name the last one OMEGA?"  I could tell that she did not "get" my feeble attempt at humor.  I said, "Leda--just like Leda and the swan--that's a lovely name."  She said, "You're pretty smart;  most people don't know that."

We continued our conversation at the bin of watermelons, discussing fine points of watermelon selection.   I said, "Wow! These are cheap!"   As she began struggling to pick up a watermelon from the bin, I said, "Let me get that for you."  She said she wanted four.  As I plopped four melons in her cart,  I asked if she had someone at home to help her.  She said that the family would be coming in the afternoon.  I followed her to her car and loaded the melons and the remainder of her groceries in her car.

She said, "That's your good deed for today."  I said, "It's my second;  I was doing the shopping for a friend of mine."

Sunday, May 8, 2016


             IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER.                    

Saturday, May 7, 2016


I have received the list LIFE ISN'T FAIR, BUT IT IS STILL GOOD from several people and it states;  WRITTEN BY REGINA BRETT, 90 YEARS OLD, OF THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER.

In checking, I learned that Ms. Brett does indeed write for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, but she was born in 1956, thus, she is NOT 90 years old.

It is disheartening to me to see how people "share" on the internet without bothering to verify.  One of my husband's family members repeatedly "shares" falsehoods on the internet, especially about the President.  I correct her lies, but she never apologizes.  As she also posts worshipful articles about Ronald Reagan, I usually use the quote, "Trust, but verify.",

I guess Ms. Brett's list could be:  LIFE ISN'T FAIR, ESPECIALLY ON THE INTERNET:

1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.
6.  You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7.  Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
9.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
14. Take a deep breath; it calms the mind.
15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.
16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
17. It's never too late to have a happy childhood, but the second one is up to you and no one else.
18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion.       Today is special.
20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
25. Always choose life.
26. Forgive everyone everything.
27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
31. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
32. Growing old beats the alternative:  dying young.
33. Your children get only one childhood.
34. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
35. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
36. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
37. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
38. The best is yet to come...
39. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
40. Yield.
41. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Friday, May 6, 2016


If you love a good yard sale, then come one - come all-- to the ANNUAL BELLE AIRE COMMUNITY YARD SALE which will held on Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7,  from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Our participation at 717 West Elm Street will be as a fundraiser for our animal rescue organization RESCUED ANIMALS READY FOR THEIR FUREVER HOMES.

If you cannot attend the yard sale, all donations are welcome, and being an Ohio nonprofit corporation, 501 (c) 3) organization, donations are tax deductible. 

Hope to see you at the SALE!

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture, food, beverage, and customs unique to Mexico.

I've met numerous people who think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but the date for that is September 16.  

Cinco de Mayo is not greatly celebrated in Mexico;  in fact, it is not a national holiday, but it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla, where El Dia de Batalla de Puebla (the day of the Battle of Puebla) took place.  The celebration has become popular outside of Mexico, in communities with a large number of Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican descent.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, led by the bravery of Texas-born General Zaragoza with his greatly outnumbered militia.

Cinco de Mayo is my excuse to eat Mexican food, which I greatly enjoy, but I also enjoy sharing the history of the celebration.

CLICK HERE to read about the history of Cinco de Mayo from The Encyclopaedia Britannica while I enjoy caldo de Cameron, ceviche, romeritos, and for dessert pan de muerto.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


After reading Monday's article about exclamation points, a friend reminded me about her constant source of anguish which is the rampant misuse of apostrophes.  She asked, "Remember your article called APOSTROPHE HELL?  You need to re-publish it because I am in Apostrophe Purgatory!"

                                             APOSTROPHE HELL

So many people to hate, so little time.

If there's an APOSTROPHE HELL this has to be it. If you see that fellow with his banner, ask him, "Why do you love the apostrophe so much? Repent and believe in grammar."

But don't let that banner push you away from apostrophes either. There are places where an apostrophe has its place.

Finally, rest assured there's no Hell, grammar or otherwise. You don't need to pay for the overuse of apostrophes in another life. Overall, the universe's apostrophe store stays in balance. It seems our linguistic world was intelligently designed; for every gratuitous apostrophe there's an instance where it's omitted.

My thank's to the reader who sent me that mans photo. (yes, of course I did the "thank's" and omitted the apostrophe in "mans"on purpose!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


A friend sent this graphic to me because she's been with me when I have made corrections in public places. 

Of course, it should have "TEACHERS OF ENGLISH", but who am I to quibble? Oh, I almost forgot, the reason she sent it to me is because I am a QUIBBLER (sounds like a Batman antagonist, doesn't it?).

Family and friends know that I do not hesitate to make corrections in public places. Why else would I carry a red pen with me at all times? Gerald says this is the reason some people will not be seen in public with me.

If I see "CONGRADULATIONS" one more time, I'm going to scream.

In a local restaurant which has a chalk board for the daily specials, the word "potato" was spelled "potatoe". Instead of ordering, I asked, "May I have a piece of chalk?" "WHUT?" was the reply from the order-taker. I said, "I want to correct the misspelling on your bill-of-fare." "Isn't that how it's spelled?", was the answer.  I said, "No, you and Dan Quayle should know it's spelled p-o-t-a-t-o!"

At a department store, I went to "will call" to pick up a large item, and I noticed "DO NOT BRAKE" hand-printed on a package. I asked the attendant, whom I gauged to be in her fifties, "Shouldn't that be B-R-E-A-K?" She laughed and said, "Yeah, and the guy who wrote it went to college!" I asked, "Does it mean the package shouldn't be broken open?" She answered, "I don't know; I'll have to ask him." She and I commiserated about the lack of basic education.

I love a restaurant which has a chalk board in the restroom. It cuts down on graffiti, I'm sure.

Someone had written "Jesus Saves"; I couldn't help myself: below it I wrote "Moses Invests" (a little Jewish humor).

Monday, May 2, 2016


My brother has lectured me about my overuse of exclamation points in my writing! I told him that one of my New Year's resolutions was to guard against it! [Yes, of course I realize that I just wrote two sentences and ended each with an exclamation point!] 

Obviously, I have failed my resolution but  I shall try to follow the admonition of one of my literary heroes Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald:

The URBAN DICTIONARY has a word for the problem: BANGORRHEA. See below.


1) Overusing exclamation points in a vain and failing attempt to make your writing sound more exciting. Trying to put more "bang" in your prose, but looking instead like you have exclamation point diarrhea.

"Checking in with a bad case of 'bangorrhea' -- the official grammedical term for exclamation-point overdose -- is Kanye West. In a single blog post, West used 188 exclamation points. At least we think it was 188. We tried counting and the ordeal made our eyeballs twitch." --Martha Brockenbrough, MSN Encarta columnist

Sunday, May 1, 2016


May Day has been celebrated throughout the world for centuries.  One of the most popular May Day traditions is to hang a basket full of flowers on a sweetheart's door.  The trick is not to be seen doing it;  if one is caught, one is supposed to get a kiss.

My question is:  Why wouldn't one want to be caught?

Probably the most famous May Day celebrations are in Communist countries where it is celebrated as International Worker's Day.

In the United States, on May 4, 1886, 1886, a rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago was organized to protest the killing and wounding of workers who had staged a strike at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company (later International Harvester).

The peaceable demonstration became violent when riots began in response to police brutality.   When the police tried to disperse the protesters, a bomb was tossed into the crowd by an unknown person, killing eight people and wounding numerous others.

Although  eight men, labeled as "anarchists", were charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, no evidence was ever found to connect them to the bomb.  In fact, one of the men was not even at the rally, and another was on the speaker's platform.  These men became known as the Haymarket Martyrs.

Of the eight men, four were hanged, one committed suicide on the eve of his death sentence, and three were eventually pardoned.  This tragedy is an example of what can happen when xenophobia, anti-union sentiment, and justice run amok.

Depending on one's view of history, the incident is known as either the Haymarket Affair or The Haymarket Massacre.