Monthly Archives: January 2017


January 31, 2017Read More

1 a: having high and often capricious standards : difficult to please
b: showing or demanding excessive delicacy or care
c: reflecting a meticulous, sensitive, or demanding attitude
2: having complex nutritional requirements

Fastidious traces to the Latin noun fastidium, which means “aversion” or “disgust”
Fastus = arrogance and taedium = irksome or disgust – taedium gave rise to tedium.

People who are hard to please or have demandingly high standards for their work are fastidious.
Toddlers these days totally fit the bill. I have never seen a more catered-to bunch of little people. I have been, and continue to be, right there in this phase in my house. OY! The queries and the complaints, you just can’t even make this stuff up. Tho I know she gets some of it from me. I am pretty fastidious, especially when it comes to my work. I have the bar set pretty high for no reason other than I like it like that. I set rules and restrictions that I often can’t meet. Then I feel bad. I am ALL over the place. I need to corral it in and find one system that really works for me.

All of my habits came from past experiences. I did what worked for me then, or I did what I had to do. I came from a place of scars inflicted by loss: lost work and lost opportunities and lost loved ones. So I attempted to do things to insure that I wouldn’t keep finding myself in the same positions…..yet periodically, there I was again. I created copies of copies, and still lived in fear of losing it all. I still was driven by a fear of being caught unprepared. Of not being able to find the needle I needed in my growing haystack of words and images. So I let it all pile up around me. Partially out of exhaustion, partially out of lack of ability to determine a starting point or a plan of what to do with it all. It grew to be bigger than me. Hundreds of thousands.

Ok so since I committed myself to this Daily Dictionary journey…and I started after the first of the year, I decided to go back and fill in my blanks, or at the very least – cover my bases:

1/1 rejuvenate
to make youthful again: give new vigor
to restore to an original or new state
re- again juvenis – young

We all want to be young again…though perhaps while also retaining our knowledge gained along the way.

1/2 baleful
1) deadly or pernicious in influence
2) foreboding or threatening evil

bealu – evil baleful (portends evil) / baneful (causes destruction)

No one likes that pit in your stomach that something bad is about to happen. I was wondering just the other day how many times the average person thinks they are going to die….and they don’t.

1/3 oligopsony – a market situation in which each of a few new buyers exerts a disproportionate influence on the market
olig – few vs monopoly – one controlling force

1/4 deem
to come to think of judge: consider
to have an opinion : believe

We make judgements all day every day about the people we see. My working title of one of my books I am writing deals with this.

1/5 maelstrom – a powerful often violent whirlpool sucking objects from its perimeter
malen – to grind stroom – stream

1/7 beguile – trick
This is an SAT word!

1/6 factitious – produced by humans : sham (I used this as a word of the week….)

1/8 haberdashery (I opted for fallal instead)

1/10 jitney (I chose breadcrumber instead)

Ad there you have it! Fastidiousness at its finest. I am spent! One more day and then one month down. I am working one some other cool changes. The best is yet to come! Everything is from now on!


January 30, 2017Read More

1: to cause to waste away by or as if by excessive fasting
2: to soften by steeping or soaking so as to separate the parts

Macerate is derived from the Latin verb macerare, which means “to soften” or “to steep,” and it later came to mean “to mortify (the flesh).” The food parts of this definition have withstood soaking in liquid better than the medical terms, probably because they are less nasty. When you soak something in liquid it softens and draws out more of the flavor. This is used more often with berries or shallots. Next time you prepare to make a fig jam or lemon tart or strawberry shortcake, you might be able to thank me for already knowing that it will involve soaking for an hour. Just yesterday, I was thinking about learning how to make my own essential oils with some of the herbs I am trying to grow. The process involves soaking them for 24-48 hours in a sunny spot.

We want to soak in water and dissolve our worries. That sounds appealing, but after you soak and soften, you end up thinning out and wasting away. We search desperately for a fountain of youth, yet when we soak in water for too long, we come out looking like a shriveled prune. A little bit ironic, don’t you think? The word macerate doesn’t sound like a pleasant word. When I was trying to decide how to compose – or decompose – my image, I initially thought of soaking some berries or bread in water. Synonym came up with the idea to have me write it on paper with a marker and put it in water. It turned out to be a fun little experiment. I don’t think she was very happy with the outcome. It wasn’t as much of a bowl full of swirly, suspended color as she had envisioned. It’s all good. Not everything comes out the way you expect it to. One of my pages of my Wreck This Journal Everywhere had us draw with a pen and take the page out in the rain. I was hoping the colors would run, but it just gave the page a different texture. Live and learn.

Then, I was trying to come up with a secondary image for this post and my thoughts went to waterlilies. I spent a lot of time at Longwood Gardens learning about waterlilies in the past year and a half. My favorite experience was a class called “Water, Water Everywhere,” in which I got to don hip waders and get into the water to take photos. I took another class that let me take home a whiskey barrel full of plants to try my hand at aquatic gardening. The year before last, I got to spend “An Evening With the Waterlilies” where we attended a lecture and had a dinner made with water chestnuts and lotus roots grown at Longwood. Yum! One of the most intriguing facts I learned was that the giant Amazon Waterlily, Victoria Amazonica, opens on the first night as a female with white petals and then the second night as a male with pink petals. They float in the water and the underside of the huge platter-like leaves, which can grow up to nine feet wide and support the weight of a small person, is covered in spikes to protect them from predators. It is a jungle out there! You can’t be too soft, or you will thin out and waste away.


January 29, 2017Read More

1: dandruff; especially: minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin that may be allergenic

2: anger, temper

Don’t get your dander up! That was the first thing that came to my mind. After looking into the etymology of dander, it seems to have come from this Dutch phrase “op donderen” which means to burst into rage. “Donder op!” means ‘Get out of here!’ in Dutch. When you get angry or over excited, your hair stands on end, or you get your hackles up. This happens to the best of us on a regular basis. Certain people or situations simply suck the nice right out of you. You know exactly what I am talking about. Many times I attribute it to “the New Yorker in me.” These times are usually when behind the wheel of a car witnessing stupidity, obliviousness or entitlement of others. If I am running late or short on patience, it can be difficult to withstand. There is no shortage of quotes or advice on anger management. I turned to Pinterest and found some gems:
Anger is one letter short of danger.
“We all boil at different degrees.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nobody makes you angry; you decide to use anger as a response.” ~Brian Tracy
“You don’t have to attend every argument that you are invited to.” #SpeakLife TobyMAC
“Anger is an acid that does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~Mark Twain

Hair standing up is related to getting goosebumps. Loquacious Lois was reading a book to Synonym that explains this phenomenon. Adrenaline causes your heart to race and palms to sweat and goosebumps to appear. A muscle contraction in the hair follicle causes skin to raise and hairs to stand up straight. This all got me to thinking about how much of what we think is involuntary is actually under our control? Meditate. Breathe. Take the high ground.


January 28, 2017Read More

1: of, relating to, or providing for many things at once
2: containing or including many items

Omnibus, when used as a noun, relates to public transportation. It originated in the 1820s as a French word for long, horse-drawn vehicles used to transport people along the main streets of Paris, and soon New York. In Latin, omnibus means “for all.” This is thought to be influenced by the English term “omnibus bill,” which is one with numerous provisions – almost like a rush hour bus full of people. Synonyms include all-in, compendious, complete, cyclopedic, exhaustive, full, global, in-depth, panoramic, thorough, universal.

Many of us rush to “pack it in,” never considering that over doing things is what leads to breaking down. We can only do so much for so long before it finally catches up to us, and not always in the best way. I am very guilty of this. My brain has too many tabs open. I may look like I am just sitting here, but I am pondering my next move, replaying my last ones, making a meal plan, adding to my to-do list and keeping track of mine and everyone else’s stuff. So to depict it more accurately, I have 50 tabs open, 3 of them are not responding, 4 of them are running scripts with errors, a hamster dance gif is playing on an endless loop and where is that music coming from? (Quick press mute!) All this is my feeble attempt to “breadcrumb” my way back to a thought that I didn’t get to finish or an idea that I still need to investigate further, or simply because I had to respond to the urgent squeals of a 5 year old, who thinks everything is life or death…I got pulled away. It has already happened like seven times since I started writing this piece.

There is a fine line between being exhaustive and exhausted. I just read a short story to Synonym at bedtime about a story that kept going and going because the little boy didn’t know how to end it. He just kept thinking of more and more things to add. After a while, you get diminishing returns. Bedtime tonight was kinda similar; it kept going and going. I always want to take on a lot and do it all and do it well. But, I have to see that it is not possible to be an expert at everything – or even anything. Once you make the ends meet, they go and move the ends. On that note, I should call it a day – or a night – or “The End!” It has been a long day (my brain will sing “Always, aint that right? #MB20). So instead of shoving onto the over-packed struggle bus, why not walk instead?

My image today was taken at Berkshire Bird Paradise – a place created by a man who went to high school with my father. We went up to check it out back in 2004. They had it all, from eagles to emus and an old school bus and a herd of deer.


January 27, 2017Read More

: an outer defensive work; especially: a tower at a gate or bridge

Barbicans are stone outworks that are in front of the gate of a castle or bridge to thwart invaders front door entry. The word was stolen by English speakers from the Anglo-French word barbecane, which was previously lifted from the Medieval barbacana. The path doesn’t trace back any farther, though there is speculation that the original ancestor is a Persian phrase that meant “house on the wall.” Quite ironic that a word about protection has been pilfered and passed off by others.

We may not construct things the same exact ways as our forebearers did, but we all build our own castles (both real and metaphorical) and surround them with fences and moats and drawbridges in a feeble and futile attempt to keep what we treasure most. It is all in the name of self-preservation. The hardest thing in life to know is which bridge to cross, and which to burn. We hang onto hopes in some arenas and we light a match and toss it over our shoulder as we flee in others. But when we burn the wrong bridge it can be career or social suicide.

I keep coming back to what Sally said about showing love to the most difficult person or thing in your life.
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ~Rumi
But concomitantly,
“It takes both sides to build a bridge.” ~Fredrik Nael
This is one junction where I suffer with often. I work at a relationship and I am often the only one making the effort. Sometimes I am fine with it, but I always hit a point at which I wonder if the other person feels the same way about me as I do about them. And if they do share my view, they would want to be with me too, and so why aren’t they making the effort? It is a two-way street. But after a much needed talk with my BFF this week, she made me see that I need to just be secure enough with who I am to get to the point where I can say, “You know what? This is me. I love who I am. I am good enough, I am smart enough and if you don’t like me, what difference does it make? I am who I am and you can take it or leave it.”

I have spent too long building walls so high that I let no one else come inside. I have spent too long hiding my photography and my writing out of fear that someone else would steal it from me. I kept it all bottled inside to the point that it was suffocating my soul. I ran out of room. It is time to come out into the light and share my view with the world. Follow me if you like, or don’t. The choice is yours. But like any true artist, they will still be creating even if no one else was watching. It is an unavoidable calling that must be answered.

Ab ovo

January 26, 2017Read More

ab ovo
: from the beginning

ab- from and ovo is egg in Latin.
“Ab ovo usque ad mala” translates to “from the egg to the apples” and it was written by the Roman poet Horace in relation to starting a meal with eggs and ending it with apples. Another dramatic poet used it to say that you need to come to the principal point of an action.

Four years ago today, my Grandma Jean passed away. Last week, I was getting lots of signs from her. On Friday the 13th I got the number 13 everywhere I went that day. My mom saw something on FB about remembering your mother’s button box. The day before, when I was volunteering in J’s class, they sang a song about Jean and the Button Factory – and even weirder, the following week they sang the same song but it was Jane and not Jean. It is so wild and I struggle to interpret it all.

When I was very little, I was the apple of my grandmother’s eye. (Her favorite nail polish color was Applesauce and she made a mean egg salad and scrambled eggies – omg these egg and apple connections are freaking me out!) We always had a lot of fun together. She lived across the street and one of my fond memories was her walking me home and then me walking her home and then her walking me home again. We played cards, and horses, and dress up. She had the best penmanship I have ever witnessed. There were always jellybeans. Sadly, it wasn’t all roses and smiles. In 1992, a heavy wave of losses hit our family. She lost her brother and two sisters-in-law within a year’s time. She slipped into a deep depression that she never really came out of. It is sad, because I lost her then, and then I lost her again twenty years later. It was a long, slow, excruciating end for her, as everything was taken from her slowly. No one should have to suffer like that.

“When the beginning becomes the end and then the beginning again.” I had all those words rolling around in my head like marbles and jacks as I hurriedly readied my daughter for school. I put on my shoes and pulled on my coat and darted over to my daily quote calendar on my tutoring table and ripped off yesterday and peered at today. OMG It was a quote that I superimposed on one of my favorite images of Synonym when she was little and I was chasing her around Longwood Gardens with my camera. Another sign. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” I love that line for so many different reasons. The first time is not the same as the second or the third. Your middle could be literally your middle. And no one knows how many trips they get to take. So live and love and go all out! Grandma loved poker so here’s a royal flush for her. Go all in today!


January 25, 2017Read More

1: strange or clumsy in shape or appearance: outlandish
2: lacking in polish and grace: rugged
3: awkward and uncultivated in appearance, manner, or behavior: rude

When trying to come up with my image, I was wracking my brain for things I could create, but they were too involved or awkward. After dinner, we opened Scrabble Junior and squeezed in a quick game between dinner and my tutoring. Synonym took to it right away. She made a move and knocked our pieces out of her way and left them on the sidelines. I smiled!. Yes! There was my photo for today; I grabbed my phone and snapped my picture!

This word derives from Old English the prefix un- is paired with cuth, which actually means familiar. Naturally, we tend to feel negatively about that which we are unfamiliar with. When we don’t know someone, we are quick to make a decision about who they are or where they have been. Ah people watching! We tend to judge books by their covers, hence the cliché. If someone looks bedraggled, we often write them off. We assume they are a whole host of other negative things without considering the other reasons why. Not everyone fits their stereotype.

It is very easy to lose your cool. Happens to me all the time, despite my best efforts. I try not to pass judgement and then there I am doing it again. In the checkout line at the Acme, the young mother in front of me clearly had more than 5-10 items in her cart, so what was she doing in the express lane? Her baby looked perfectly serene. But then I had to try to think back to those days when the cuteness windows were short and unpredictable and there were days I couldn’t manage to walk another inch or do anything more than I was already doing. It is easy to sit in the spectator stand and say what someone else should or should not be doing, but hard to do it when we are the ones in the boxing ring. We are all mere mortals – though we prefer not to think about it. We all forget to mind our p’s and q’s (I looked for the origin of that phrase – has a few potential meanings – Pleases and ThanQ’s – Pints and Quarts). We get lost in the moment, caught off guard by another person’s words or actions. Just because they stoop to a certain level doesn’t mean we should. Two wrongs do not make a right (yet two negatives make a positive). I will leave you with some amusing memes and My Little Pony images! Try not to be uncouth!


January 24, 2017Read More

1: to make valid or binding usually by a formal procedure or ratification
2: to give effective or authoritative approval or consent to

In Latin sancire means “to make holy.”
This word can be both a verb and a noun. The noun came first in the 15th century, and referred to a formal decree or law. The verb came later, in the 18th century, and had to do with ratifying laws. In the 20th century it came to be used for economic penalties against nations that violated laws. I am a tad confused by this word since it seems like it can be both good and bad – though I guess it depends upon what is being decided or okayed.

We all have a simple desire to be driven to be the best or come out on top. I know I struggle with this. I take on way too many challenges simply for the task of giving myself a goal to reach or a number to hit. Working on making over my old mindsets, I need to give myself permission to fall short. I have had an Apple Watch for 14 months…and before that a Fitbit and before that a Jawbone Up. I have been tracking my steps and logging my workouts for about 5 years now. Last week, when I pulled my watch off the charger, the back separated from the front of the bezel. Not good! I took it in to the Genius Bar and they had to send it out for 3-5 days. Initially, I was super bummed. It has been on my wrist forever….and I finally had a longest move streak going and all that was going out the window. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that accurate data on my wristwatch shouldn’t make or break me. I had to let it go.

In our lives, we look for the stamp of approval from others everywhere we go. Be it in likes on FaceBook, popular votes, sales figured, or what have you. The problem with this is that it only provides hollow satisfaction. If we can’t find what we are seeking inside of ourselves it will only be fleeting and will certainly leave us when we need it the most. What we need to learn is that happiness is found when we feel good about ourself and we see that the byproduct of that is that we don’t need the approval of others. I am trying to teach this lesson to my little Synonym. My happiness does not rest solely on her shoulders. She still needs to be the best she can be, but if I am having a hard time with life, it isn’t her job to fix that. This morning when doing my research I found a cute “Seal of Approval” I didn’t want to just take it, so I asked J if she would draw it. Of course, she set right to work. I have this Like stamp that I use with my SAT students. She had a field day stamping it on everything on her art table. This is so exhilarating to bring her along with me on this Vocabulary Girl journey. Finally, I am not a religious one, but I came across a quote this morning that struck me, and then I met up with a friend who is working on a book geared towards the christian market – so this has to be my message for the day, so here we go: God approved of you before anybody else got the chance to disapprove. So there you have it. Trust your instincts and go with your gut, or your heart, or your mind, but be your own Seal of Approval!


January 23, 2017Read More

1: the troops moving at the head of any army
2: the forefront of an action or movement

It is interesting because I mentioned avant-garde last night when discussing my dad’s art prints. Today’s word – vanguard – has the same roots from Anglo-French avant is “before” and garde is “guard.”

It is difficult to go first. The first time you do anything you have no idea what to really expect. This always calls to my mind images of explorers faring the seas or going around the world in 80 days in a hot air balloon, pioneers blazing trails westward or Lewis and Clark charting their route and naming everything that crossed their path. We all have moments of travailing uncharted territory in our lives. It can be frightening or exhilarating.

When I was pondering my image of the day, Brent and J were pouring over lego sets online. I thought about army men, but I already used Brent’s chess set once this month, and his pawns have drums or trumpets. Then my mind went to the lego troops, but when I went to grab J’s new silicone base that she got for the holidays, it was pink and my mind went to all the marches that took place yesterday. We have a small army of female mini figures. They can be my vanguard. This morning I was reading all the cool signs people carried. I mentioned this to J and she ran right up to her desk to get started on some signage, but when I came back she had written me a note instead: I love Legos uspeshle wen I doing them with Mom and Dad. My heart just melts a little at how she is blossoming with reading and writing. She started doing a Bird of the Day for me when Gaga was visiting last weekend. Today she decided she wanted to do some for Daddy too. “Historical ones because he loves history!” We made our first four tonight and she will give him one each day when he gets her after school. I decided that since she is my Synonym, Brent is my Homonym – a word that is spelled and pronounced the same, but has a different meaning. She is going to do some for Gaga (aka Loquacious Lois) too – we decided on compound words and we are doing them on butterflies – one on each wing. She wants me to make some for her too. And I think we will do contraction words for my brother (Gregarious Gregory). I am so excited to broaden her horizons in such a fun and creative way. Big words for little people! She has such a sharp mind and I can’t wait to see my little vanguard in action.


January 22, 2017Read More

the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing.

xyl- means “wood” and -graphie denotes writing.
(Makes sense – a xylophone is typically made out of wood, and xylem and phloem are tree terms we all learned in biology class.)

My image for today utilizes Synonym’s Bird of the Day bird that she traced to create her birds. I am going to replace my Word of the Week with her Birds. Also I am going to call my blog ‘Daily Dictionary,’ since I am defining and discussing a word each day. This is what I had in mind when I got this started, I just needed to test the waters to make sure this was an accomplishable goal. I have been enjoying it and getting into a groove. Here’s hoping I can keep it going.

At first glance, this word made me wonder what I could possibly write about…but then it got me to thinking more about it and it became deeper and more meaningful as the day went by. I started to ponder the importance of carving out space and time. The message board across the street tells me to carve out time for myself. Today I did that by fitting in a fitness class and getting my car serviced so I didn’t have to worry about it later on. Then I was thinking about the value of leaving a mark behind. Lots of places become famous for people leaving an “I was here” note or scratching sets of initials in hearts with dates or a love lock. Something fixed in time and space that you can return to at a later date and reminisce on how things have changed and yet remained the same.

When I did my initial search on the word, it turned up a lot of ink prints produced by sketching out a stamp that can be reused – almost like a letterpress. I remembered my Dad had done some etchings back in his hippie college days. They were very artsy and avant-garde. I came across them when cleaning off his bookcase. I really wish he had shown them to me himself and explained the motivation and process behind them. I will just be left to further speculate. I thought I took some of them with me and I went searching through my papers. I didn’t find them, but I did find a handwritten note that struck me.

WOW! Give it time!
Etchings – sketchings – residue – sawdust – what is left.
Words emblazoned in my mind.
Wooden signs are all the rage right now – though many are just painted pallets, etching involves more elbow grease. I have always said I wanted a wood shop – right Gaga?

My mom later found the print below by my dad – 4 out of 15 titled ‘Anthropomorphism’ – which is an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics – a sort of personification if you will. Natural elements and humans carve out their environments with their chosen paths, activities and movements. What are you carving?