New Favorite Word – Cucurbit

— (kyu-ker-bit) A plant of the gourd family

We’re on the downhill side of pumpkin spice everything season once again. Beyond the expected lattes, creamers, and candles, we have been able to purchase pumpkin spice Top Ramen, Bud Light, Cheerios, salsa, Peeps, and dog treats. And then there’s commercially available pumpkin spice Moonshine, pumpkin spice Kombucha (that suspicious-looking fermented “mushroom” tea), and spray-on pumpkin spice flavoring, so literally everything can taste like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.

When will this cucurbit-inspired madness end? I like this combination of spices in ginger snaps and pumpkin pie, and if I could tolerate anything but a plain non-fat latte, I would enjoy an occasional PSL this time of year. But come on! Pumpkin spice Oreos?

Take heart fellow curmudgeons, rumor has it that maple pecan is trending and pumpkin spice has jumped the shark. Besides, the stores are already beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we can aim our displeasure somewhere else.


“It’s back, pumpkin spice oil change” ~the sign in front of Ray’s Maplewood Auto Service

New Favorite Word – Vitiate

– To make faulty, ineffective. To debase in moral or aesthetic status

Because Dennis and I recently bought a “new” car, it was necessary for us to sell one of our other cars, and we went to Carmax to get it done. It was a relatively painless experience: we were relieved to sell it so easily, and the dealership was delighted to receive a vehicle on which they, no doubt, would eventually make a profit. While sitting in the busy showroom surrounded by others buying and selling their vehicles and a kid in a Batman getup running in circles and crashing into things, our Seahawks-jersey-clad Carmax representative looked at the Passat title and said, “Wow; your names are almost exactly the same.”

[Insert nonsensical responses and “What the . . .” looks from Den and me here.]

“Yup,” she said. “McCurley and McMurley—nearly identical.”

There it was, on an official State of Washington document: someone, somewhere had vitiated my name. And I, intrepid proofreader that I am, had never noticed it.

When I got over my incredulity at bureaucratic ineptitude and embarrassment at being a faulty proofer, I found that I’m not alone when it comes to having my name publicly misspelled. In big, bold letters, Adidas misspelled Colombia in advertising that country’s soccer team jersey. The ad said Columbia. In 2013, the Vatican released an official medal to commemorate the election of Pope Francis which included the word Lesus in the inscription. It should have said Jesus. And in four of the six remaining samples of Shakespeare’s handwriting, he spells his own name four different ways. He vitiated himself!

I’m trying to imagine some way to capitalize on my misspelled name. It has been said that those wacky Starbucks baristas who comically misspell names scribbled on grande, iced, soy, sugar-free, vanilla lattes and triple, venti, no-foam, caramel macchiatos do so knowing that a picture (including the green Starbucks logo) will be posted on social media, and the company will get free advertising. If this blog post goes viral, perhaps I’ll use my advertising kickbacks to get stronger lenses so I can read the new car title.

“Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.” ~Anonymous

New Favorite Word – Musemory

– (myu-ZEM-or-ee) Mental time travel triggered by music. (I made this word up. Do you like it?)

Yesterday, I was listening to “Free Fallin’” while working on a blog post about what I thought would be my New Favorite Word. (It was mondegreen—a terrific word. Look it up.) Of course, I couldn’t focus on my writing because, in my mind, I was “moving west down Ventura Boulevard.” Today, that song is my earworm. (Look that one up, too.) It’s playing over and over, again and again in my head. That catchy song became annoying, but the earworm phenomena prompted me to think about the impact of music and how it sometimes triggers memories of people, places, and emotions.

I don’t associate Tom Petty’s music with strong musemories, but there are a few popular songs that dredge up recollections from my past. I remember exactly where I was standing at age ten when I first heard “I Saw Her Standing There.” I see pictures in my mind of Wichita State University in the autumn of 1971 when I hear, “Maggie May.” And hearing “Brandy” takes me back to cruising around Fayetteville with my cousins in the early ’70s. None of these songs signify life-changing events, but the mental pictures still pop up when those familiar notes begin.

Much dearer to me are the sweet family images that come with songs like “In the Light” by DC Talk and “Love Me Good” by Michael W. Smith. And then there are the memories of our wedding ceremony on August 16, 1975, when I listen to Cinquième Symphonie: V. Tocatta by Charles-Marie Widor—five and a half minutes of pure bliss.

Listening to the third verse of “Give Me Jesus” prompts the strongest emotional memories, so much so that I must prepare myself before I get to that track on my playlist. It brings back images of 2004: of my brother Wes suggesting that we play it at Mom’s funeral, of our deep grief, and of the sufficiency of Jesus throughout.

I recently read an interesting article in Psychology Today regarding MEAMs (music evoked autobiographical memories) and their use in treating those with Alzheimer Disease. I wonder what songs might have prompted my mother’s memories during the years she was a victim of that horrible disease.

I’m in the hunt for a new potential earworm. Right now, “That Thing You Do” is in the lead followed closely by the chorus of “Someone to Lava.”


“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” ~ unknown

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