New Favorite Word – Velocipede

– a lightweight wheeled vehicle propelled by the rider


“Guess what! I got a bicycle!”

As a response to this incredulous statement, my co-worker replied, “You got a bicycle?” Translation: “At your age; are you crazy? You’ll crash and burn.”

She may have a point, but I don’t care.

I treated myself to an Electra Townie meant to be ridden on suburban streets, not on rocky Moab trails or cross-Kansas treks. (Salute to a serious cyclist, my bike-loving brother Russ.) My velocipede has big tires, a comparatively comfortable seat, a handy rack suspended over the back tire, and the frame is such that I ride sitting up straight, not leaning forward. It also has seven gears, and thanks to my eight-year-old grandson who ran alongside me shouting, “You’re doing good, Gran,” I have learned that seven gears are vastly superior to one.

So far, I have found that the phrase, “It’s like riding a bike,” used to explain that something once learned can’t be unlearned, isn’t entirely sound. Except for a brief and scary ride in 2010, I haven’t been on a bicycle in decades. (My cycling skills on that ride along a medieval wall in Luca, Italy were tenuous at best. Ask my daughter.) And hand brakes and gears were never part of the equation until now. But we have moved to a bike-friendly neighborhood, and I will learn grind-free gear switching, that suddenly clamping down on the hand brakes may cause unintended consequences, and to cope with how silly I look in a bike helmet. And maybe, in time, riding a bike will, in fact, be “like riding a bike.”


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ~Albert Einstein.





New Favorite Word – Euphony

–  Agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear, especially a pleasant-sounding or harmonious combination or succession of words

Though usually used to describe lyrics or poetry, euphony can also be found when listening to ordinary words spoken by those you love. No music score or iambic pentameter needed, just words polished by time.

I have a few favorites.

Wendy (age 3) when asked what she wants to be when she grows up: “Actually, I don’t want to grow up.”

Colin (age 4): “I love to miss you so much.”

Daniel (age 2): Gently, with his hand touching the side of my face, “Breakfast, Mom. Breakfast.”

Faith (age 8) in response to a passing motorist: “Hidey ho to you, too”

Dennis singing, forty-two years ago: “One hand, one heart . . . ”

Dad: Any intentionally amusing thing he says is, in fact, hilarious.

Mom: “Your brother is just going through a phase.”


“We didn’t realize we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun.” ~Winnie the Pooh




New Favorite Word – Larruping

– delicious, excellent, exceedingly (Also spelled larepin, larapin, larrupin)

I am not a cook; not a real cook, anyway. My mother was supremely organized and efficient, and given my lack of interest in helping out around the house, it was much easier for her to take care of everything than to cajole or threaten me into learning to cook or bake. So, I learned the basics using my husband as a guinea pig—certainly a jolt for him since his mother set a fine table. Thankfully, over the years I have improved by culinary skills, but I am not the kind of cook who can converse with her guests while sipping a glass of wine and overseeing what’s roasting in the oven, what’s simmering on the stove, and what’s being prepped for the table. I have a one-track mind: either chat or stir, either sip or baste, either relax or panic. Having everything ready to eat and everyone ready to eat it at the same time is a goal that I strive to achieve, but many times do not.

Among my tolerably good creations are a couple of standouts. I can do pie crust, hence, I can do pies: apple, cherry, and pecan. My pies are good, but let me go one step further: my Excelsior Cheesecake is larruping. It has a cup butter in the crust, two pounds of cream cheese in the filling, and one pint of sour cream in the topping.  It is decadent, creamy goodness with too many calories to count in each bite, but each one is worth it. For obvious reasons, we don’t have this very often; there’s a risk of atherosclerosis just thinking about it. But it’s been too long, and I believe that this will be my contribution to our Easter meal this year.

Note: I was tempted to use this new favorite word to describe my true feelings about molasses, biscuits and sausage gravy, and fried okra, but that would have been too obvious.

“Anything you like real good an’ ain’t got it fer a long time, an’ then you git it, that’s larepin’.” ~ Woodie Guthrie, Bound for Glory

New Favorite Word – Whitewash

– To gloss over or cover up; to exonerate by means of perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data.

Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Been 321 Days Since My Last Blog Post

10. 1,640 hours working at my regular job

9.   25 freelance editing projects

8.  Moving out of our home of 22 years

7.  Relocating to a 38 percent smaller townhouse

6.  292 hours staring at the brake lights on the car in front of me

5.  Facebook, Words with Friends, the Mariners, Gmail, and my Kindle

4.  It’s incredibly easy not to do

3.  Writing is hard

2.  Writing is hard

1.  Writing is hard


“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”  ~Dorothy Parker

New Favorite Word – Technophobe

“Fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices and especially computers.” Merriam-Webster

History Of Computer From 1946 To The iPad  Downloadable PPT File Included_01_thumb[7]I’m immersed in the 40s these days because I’ve managed to write the first ten pages about my dad’s time in Japan in 1946. The research has been fantastic, but I’m sure my writing is abominable. In fact, I actually haven’t even read what I’ve written except to determine the page count. It was in this 40s frame of mind that I discovered that the word technophobe first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1946, the same year that my 18-year-old dad was traveling by troop ship to Japan as a member of the Eighth Army Occupation Forces. At first I was surprised to find that this word was seventy years old, but then I discovered that ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) began operation in 1946. This behemoth built by the Army to determine ballistics trajectories consisted of 40 separate 8-foot-high racks and 18,000 tubes with 500,000 soldered connections. Look at this picture; it was fear-worthy for sure. Though today the ENIAC could probably be out-computed by my Fitbit, the term technophobe still applies – I am intimidated by most things electronic including that Fitbit. That’s why I call upon my family technophiles for help with website woes, software scariness, and hardware horrors.

“Bill Gates is a very rich man today . . . and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.” ~Dave Barry

New Favorite Word – Videotape

vhs-cassette-tapeBecause my birthday was last week, I took note when the esteemed Oxford English Dictionary promised to provide, “your own personal OED birthday word.” Who could resist that? But, lo and behold, it spit out not one, but ten personal OED birthday words of my very own. Most are uninteresting: home-sitter, inducibility, fly-by, Magnox (magnesium + alloy), ryotei (Japanese restaurant), and underride. The others have more promise: nig-nog (foolish person), protogalaxy (a vast mass of gas (seriously)), psycho-killer, and videotape. Which one is my favorite? Well, I would be a nig-nog to use psycho-killer in the title of the post. Protogalaxy: definitely not me at all. That leaves videotape, first used by the Wall Street Journal in December, 1953.  It’s an old-school word that would have to be explained to my grandchildren. But you know what they say: vintage is in vogue. (And also because it was my birthday last week, by they, I mean I.)

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” – Stephen King

New Favorite Word – Jirble

– To spill (a liquid) by shaking or unsteady moving of the vessel; to pour out unsteadily. women-drinking-coffee-clipart-9TRB9x8Te

Not too long ago I jirbled coffee onto my laptop keyboard at work. I absorbed what I could with a tissue and then took it to the longsuffering folks in CIS. Without obvious eye-rolling, the Help Desk student began to dismantle it to see if I had caused irreparable harm. (Pause for Pepsi Syndrome flashback.) After removing multiple panels and around fifteen microscopic screws, he came to the innermost drops of coffee, swabbed up the offending moisture, blasted the laptop innards with compressed air, and commenced the reassembly. Not one screw was left over: a sure sign of a competent technician.

I have had a hand tremor for I don’t know how long that has lately become a threat to my electronic equipment. Not only do I occasionally jirble my coffee, my eyeliner sometimes resembles a line of Morse code. Keeping Dennis’ frequent and out loud frustration with overconfident major league outfielders in mind, I now “USE TWO HANDS” to carry a cup of coffee. Whether this is a benign side effect of a medication or just me being me, it’s annoying, but I shake it off, shake it off. (My apologies for the obvious pun and the Taylor Swift ear worm.)

“I can’t sprinkle sprinkles on. I lose control when I have sprinkles. I’m shaky. I still remember the great sprinkle accident of 1982.” –Ryan Stiles

New Favorite Word – Murmuration

1. A mumbled or private expression of discontent
2. A flock of starlings

It all began with a comment by my friend Norma about a Facebook video. This similar video of a God-choreographed starling sky dance is mesmerizing. But when reading the accompanying text, my eye halted at that word: murmuration. I had to know it; I had to own that word. Merriam-Webster requires $29.95 to access this lofty word, so to find the definition I looked elsewhere and eureka! To my surprise, however, the two meanings of this noun clash. A flock of starlings once claimed a tree in our backyard and fearing the droppings of one thousand birds, we proceeded to bang pots and pans together to scare them away. Perhaps this caused avian discontent, but they certainly did not mumble about it. Very soon the murmuration’s murmuration seemed mostly maniacal. We were thankful when they spread their two thousand tiny wings and flew away.

Note: Perhaps my next new favorite word should be hyperbole or alliteration or reiteration.

“I like saying things that are both repetitive and repetitive.” – Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE

New Favorite Word – Orthography

FullSizeRender– The art of writing words with proper letters according to accepted usage.
     Knowing my love of words, Dad gave me a spelling book he received in the late 40s while attending trade school in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. The preface of Word Studies by R. G. Walters says, “A mastery of words includes more than the mere ability to spell. It includes correct pronunciation, correct syllabication, the ability to identify words as parts of speech, a knowledge of the meaning of words, and the ability to use words correctly and forcefully.” Amen, Mr. Walters.
     Enhanced orthography would have corrected “You only live ones” and “Too cool for scool” before these words were permanently inked on a forearm and a shoulder-blade. A competent copy editor in 1631 might have prevented a Bible from going to press saying, “Thou shalt commit adultery” and saved the publisher a hefty fine. Mitt Romney would have been a bit more convincing if his tech team had rechecked the name of his campaign phone app, “A Better Amercia.” And, one would think that almost anyone associated with the Vatican would have noticed that Jesus was spelled Lesus before 6,000 papal medals were cast in 2013, but no. Spell check is woefully inadequate and don’t get me started on the possible downside of depending on auto-correct.
     Before the next time we click send, before we OK our next tattoo, and before we tweet, blog, or post, let’s all pause a moment. One more read-through out loud might keep us from bad ink, humiliating typos, and a loss of credibility. Take a deep breath, keep calm, and reread.
     “Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.” ~Mark Twain, A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling

Pride Goeth Before a Typo

FullSizeRender (1)

Want to know what really annoys me? Among many other things: finding a who that should have been whom, an embarrassingly misused word, or an empty space where a comma should be in my own writing. Moreover, it’s painful and awkward to have those boo-boos brought to my attention by someone else. After all, I’m a copy editor. I get paid (a little) to point out errors in someone else’s work. “Ooooh, Marlene needs an editor herself. How ironic.” But wait a minute, sometimes the auto mechanic’s car breaks down on the 520 bridge, the baker’s pie crust is heavy like a slab of concrete, and Felix throws meatballs. Everyone fails. My writing gaffs help me remember that only the Lord makes flawless words (Ps. 12:6), and a serving or two of humility is good for me. (Comic, “Pickles” by Brian Crane)

“He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle.” ~William Shakespeare