Monthly Archives: April 2017

Release

April 26, 2017Read More

release
\ri-‘lēs\
transitive verb
: to allow a person or animal to leave a jail, cage, prison, etc. : to set someone or something free
: to stop holding (someone or something)
: to allow (a substance) to enter the air, water, soil, etc.

I am breaking free! Today’s word from Merriam-Webster was hummock – a ridge of ice, or a rounded hill. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not heavy, or impossible, just the last in a series that just did me in. I was enjoying my challenge at the beginning. Then it became a chore, then it became a bore, and then, it just felt like I HAD to keep it going because I said I was going to do it…yet it was costing me my peace…and that was a quote I kept coming across in February – “if it costs you your peace, it is too expensive.” My word I chose for myself for 2017 was to blame. I picked resolve. I had to cling to that and keep it up for that reason, but it was stealing my peace. It kept me up too late and frustrated me to no end. I have learned a lot on this journey, but there are tons of words in the English language, and plenty more to explore…so I am releasing myself from the shackles of the arbitrarily chosen words. Most of the recent ones were so negative, or just had such unknown and inexplicable origins. I am proud that I did what I did so far. I hope to continue the trend and keep my streak alive. So I am going to release myself from the restrictions and have more fun with it. So my new word is release. We hold onto so many things, physical, emotional, tangible and intangible. In yoga class today I saw how much tension we carry in our bodies. When stressed, we clench tightly. It wears us out faster. Time to let go. I keep searching for answers in internet articles, yet I can’t seem to find the ones to satisfy my quests. Most are old, written in 2013. If I was brainwashed by the message of Disney’s perennial favorite, Frozen – we must “Let It Go!!!!!!”
What do you need to let go of?

Ambiguous

April 25, 2017Read More


ambiguous
\am-BIG-yuh-wus\
adjective
1 a : doubtful or uncertain especially from obscurity or indistinctness
b : incapable of being explained, interpreted, or accounted for : inexplicable
2 : capable of being understood in two or more possible ways

Is the glass half full or half empty? An age-old question. It depends upon your perspective.

When we don’t know what it is we seek, we often set goals that are very ambiguous. I know I am very guilty of this. I want big broad things, but by not setting specific goals, it makes it nearly impossible to reach anything clear cut.

This is a simple word, but my thoughts on the matter are short and vague. Make of it what you will. Perhaps I am being cryptic. Perhaps it is you that is!

Factoid

April 24, 2017Read More

factoid
\FAK-toyd\
noun
1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print
2 : a briefly stated and usually trivial fact

Norman Mailer coined this term in his 1973 book Marilyn about Marilyn Monroe. In the book, he explains that factoid are “facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority.” Mailer used the -oid suffix, meaning “form.”

We spend our existence searching our surroundings for facts in an attempt to explain the seemingly inexplicable. To understand is to know is to feel secure. I feel like I am always searching for a factoid that I will need to help save me in a future scenario.

Homonym is the king of the trivial factoid. We like to play the game “Fact Or Crap.” When he busts out certain nuggets, we aren’t always certain of their veracity. However, the true secret here is to say it with the conviction that you are correct. It is more likely to be believed by others if it is delivered in this manner. If you don’t buy it, why should I? Partially I wish he would go on a gameshow to be able to cash in on this wealth of somewhat superfluous amassed knowledge.

Cartographer

April 23, 2017Read More


cartographer
\kahr-TAH-gruh-fer\
noun
: one that makes maps

You are here! Up until the 18th century, maps were decorated with artistic drawings often at the expense of accuracy. Soon after that, there was more of a focus on accuracy of details. I would definitely say that mapmaking is both an art and a science. Map reading is an important life skill. A sense of direction is invaluable. When someone tells me to “go west,” I have no clue what that means. I don’t know which way to turn. I get all turned around and confused easily. I took a number of Geography classes in college. The professor was big on the cultural aspect of the study. It is important to connect dots and “expand your geographic sensibility.” I am still working on it. Luckily we have GPS with us and on us almost everywhere we are these days.

We are all the cartographers of our own destiny. No two maps are alike. Some of the paths we traverse are clearly marked. The order of our turns is mapped out and sequenced. It is easy to follow. The terrain is level. Other roads have dense fog and potholes and steep slopes with narrow, one-lane bridges. We all have rites of passage we need to make it through in our lives. Some we hear about, but never experience. Others show up uninvited. Still other things we try to avoid just hang out right where we left them. I can easily see where I want to go, and where I am, but I tend to get lost in between. I don’t know the way to get to where I want to be. Maybe you can help draw me a map. Give me some directions to follow. I have some flexibility. I can take any number of paths. But I always seem to feel that I choose the wrong one. I am hoping to learn how to change that.

Bucolic

April 22, 2017Read More

Bucolic
\byoo-KAH-lik\
adjective
1 : of or relating to shepherds or herdsman : pastoral
2 a : relating to or typical of rural life
b : pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity : idyllic

Bucolic comes from the Latin buccolicus, which came from the Greek boukolos, meaning “cowherd.” When it was first used in English as an adjective in the early 17th century, it meant “pastoral.” Later its scope broadened from sheep to things that were rural or rustic. To me, this word sounds like broccoli…or colic. When a baby has colic, it cries a lot. Our first home was a townhouse and we could hear our neighbors through the walls – they had an in-home daycare, and I tutored. Great combo! So when we got a house and spread out more from our neighbors, it was more bucolic. My baby cows are from Woodside Creamery – home of some yummy ice cream.

We often long for the opposite of what we have. My uncle was a sports agent in Manhattan. He told me to “get out while I still could.” He always wanted to be a farmer. The thing is, that having a farm was a 24/7 commitment. It sounded good on paper, but in reality, it was a lot of hard work. I always loved horses, but to keep and care for one is a full time job in and of itself. Many of us want the bigger house, the bigger yard, the pool, the second property – but it is a lot of upkeep. Idyllic is peaceful, pleasing and picturesque. We idealize these images. When we vacation, we wish for that setting to become a constant in our world. We dream of retiring to some of our favorite destinations. The thing is, then when the ideal becomes the real, it isn’t always all it is cracked up to be. We need to find what is ideal in what is already real.

Eighty Six

April 21, 2017Read More

Eighty-six
\ay-te-SIKS\
verb
: (slang) to refuse to serve a (customer);
also : to get rid of : throw out

There were some interesting stories I came across that postulate a source for the reasoning behind the number 86 meaning to refuse service. A bar named Chumley’s was located at 86 Bedford Street in New York. When rowdy patrons were kicked out, they would look up at the address – 86- on the door. Other restaurants had a patron limit of 85 people, so the 86th person to show up would be out of luck. Some fashionable restaurants only had 85 tables, so the 86th was for someone you didn’t want to serve. The British Merchant Shipping had a standard crew of 85, so the 86th man was left behind. The Merriam-Webster etymologists are going with the explanation that the word rhymes with nix, which means “to veto” or “to reject.” Take it or throw it away!

Throw away. We live in a very disposable, single-use culture. We think we do the right thing by our environment, but when we make it cheaper to replace than repair, and nothing is built to last, we eighty-six a lot. We lose our values. We lose our way. We get stuck with the options that present at the time, but miss our chance to find efficiency. I am forever shaking my head at myself and how with better planning, I could probably be more cost-effective and useful. I feel like there has to be a better way to do things, and wonder why we haven’t figured it out yet.

What accumulated ways would you like to eighty-six?

Tatterdemalion

April 20, 2017Read More

tatterdemalion
\tatt-er-dih-MAIL-yun\
adjective
1 : ragged or disreputable in appearance
2 : being in a decayed state or condition : dilapidated

The origins of this word are frayed and uncertain…likely it came from tattered. My image is of some Indian Corn that we had on display after we got it from Synonym’s class trip to the orchard. A squirrel picked it clean and left it for us. They do this through all the seasons. I keep planting bulbs, but they snip them off and leave them on the ground just to spite me. Someday my garden will look like Longwood…probably not.

I am struggling with these words, yet I have to cling to my resolve and keep writing. It is an assignment I gave to myself, yet I like to make things harder than they need to be. I can’t believe it is April 19th. As usual, time has dragged and flown all at once. The common thread I keep unravelling with these words is that they are unsure of where they came from. In my life, I have been feeling that way a lot…unsure of where I have come from. Stuck between my past and my future. Still trying to figure it out, yet all the while feeling like I have nothing figured out. Feeling like this is not normal, yet being assured that it is very human. I feel like I show up in a tatterdemalion way, yet that isn’t how others see me…just how I think it is. Always pushing towards a moving finish line. Too many avenues to upkeep that it is impossible to succeed at all of them. Though my resolve is tatterdemalion, I push on.

Grimalkin

April 19, 2017Read More


grimalkin
\grih-MAWL-kin\
noun
: a domestic cat; especially : an old female cat

Really? I have no idea what to do with this one! Almost as tricky as the word hoary in February.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth references graymalkin, which is literally a “gray cat.” The spelling was altered in the 1630s to the modern grimalkin. The cat in my image isn’t grey or domestic. It was taken at Longwood of a cat that works there. It is fed at the same place by the same person each day. It likes to wander the grounds and keeps the mice managed. I took an after hours class and it wandered inside the Conservatory and fell asleep by a warm grate.

Reciprocate

April 18, 2017Read More

reciprocate
\rih-SIP-ruh-kayt\
verb

1: to give and take mutually
2: to return in kind or degree
3: to make a return for something done or given
4: to move backward and forward alternately

Reciprocate, retaliate, requite and return all mean “to give back.” This makes me think of the golden rule: do onto others as you would want others to do onto you. Life is a two way street. The phone works both ways. If the tables were flipped, would you do the same for me? This also makes me think of a reciprocal – inverse fractions. We need the opposite of what we have in order to balance ourselves out. Who we are and what we need more of or less of will vary from time to time, depending upon our circumstances. Some people in our lives will fail us, but others will come through and give us what we can never repay: the right words or assistance at just the right time. We are all struggling, whether it is apparent or not. Everyone needs help. Some people just don’t know how to ask for it. If someone has helped you, help someone else. Pay it forward.

Interminable

April 17, 2017Read More

interminable
\in-TER-muh-nuh-bul\
adjective
: having or seeming to have no end; especially : wearisomely protracted

This word came from the combination of the Latin prefix in- (“not”) and the verb terminare, meaning “to terminate” or “to limit.” The word describes something without an end, but also things that drag on without wrapping up. Related words include terminate, determine, terminal and exterminate. We know that even exterminators have adopted a new euphemism – pest control – as they have realized that you can’t ever eliminate anything, you can only hope to contain it! From all of my SAT readings on science, it seems we can’t determine too much definitively, even after years of study. Terminal is usually the end – yet it can also be the beginning. It can be very confusing sometimes. My image was taken from the top of Haleakala in Hawaii. The view was pretty interminable. It felt like being on top of another world.

Have you ever gotten locked into one of those interminable conversations? You know, the ones that just go on and on? The ones you can’t seem to end – filled with stories you’ve already heard. We’ve all been there. Well maybe some more than others. I tend to overstay my welcome…or just wait on the other person to end the conversation. I don’t like endings. I have experienced way too many of them. Saying goodbye is hard. Traces of the last chapter always linger into the next one. We are all journeyers on a path of an unclear length. We play parts in the stories of others. Today is Project Semicolon Day. Sadly, the creator of this movement ended her life last month. I was saddened to hear that news. She was a crusader for those battling what she battled. By choosing a semicolon, it shows that things go on from there, instead of ending with the finality of a period. This isn’t the end; your story continues.