What’s in a Title? Is a Hibiscus Flower too much? (posting misadventures)

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(This  post was originally published on my blog, Sometimes, earlier this year.    Some of the facts are no longer relevant, since there have been major changes in the heading photo, which originally featured a gorgeous red Hibiscus flower, but that heading is as defunct as the flower and exists only in re-runs and fond memories.   Thanks for visiting.)

SOMETIMES

Experience tells me that once an error is made, it is often better to just let it go. There is an old secretary’s saying that once you mess up on handling an important message for the boss you will keep making it worse with each new contact.

So I’ll try again to explain the title of my blog. Actually the title SOMETIMES is simple enough, and so far it has escaped scrutiny. My tag line is simple enough also except that it got tangled up while it was under construction, and came out wrong.

My tag line (oh gosh, here’s where I mess it up again,) is “Who, What, When, Where, How and Why.” I think that’s in the right order. This phrase has long been a staple of teachers of writing and journalism, an easy catch phrase (there’s a word for it, but I can’t think of it now)…

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I am Who I am, no matter how hard I try to be someone else

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Yep, here I am in Blogging101 again.  This time my intentions are good, but that is normal…and we all know what they say about good intentions.

It occurred to me once when I was embarking upon a “reality trip” to Mexico, that I would soon be meeting a whole new group of people who had never heard of me before.    “This is my chance,”  I said to myself.  “I can be anything I want to, change my demeanor, background, speech, and present an entire New Me.”

Right.  No dumb comments, no Shy Me hiding in the shadows…New Me could be sophisticated, well-spoken, and always in control of my cool personality.   In fact, I could buy a new jungle-adventure wardrobe, and wear head-bands, pretty flowing tops, and jeans with zippers instead of Mom-jeans.

Great ideas.

First, at the airport, I had to accept a strangers help in hoisting my backpack into position.  I could not get into that baby without help.   So there went Cool Me with the airport-crowd.

At the Mexico City airport, changing to the domestic terminal, once I found where I was supposed to be I stood around with the crowd, my backpack perched on top of my suitcase, on one of those folding carrier things.  Cool Me trusted the luggage to stand up by itself…and it did not, crashing to the floor within an inch of a man’s foot.   He had to help me stand it up again, and was really very nice about it.

The Cool Me cover was blown, and although I had flown many times before, and traveled in Mexico before, I still managed to convince on-lookers that I was an inexperienced, naïve American who had no clue whatsoever.

I think that was the time I dropped my ID card (driver license) onto the rolling conveyor while passing through Security, and it rolled under the scanner and it had to be retrieved by an employee.

So the point is that the New Me is the same Old Me.   No matter how hard I try no one in Blogging101 classes will ever believe that I actually have traveled numerous times to foreign countries, and to jungle cities, as well as to professional conferences and research trips to various US cities.    I have been a newspaper writer/reporter, university History instructor.  I hold a Masters Degree in History, and ABD (all but dissertation toward a PHD.)   Love auctions, writing, books, gardening, working on my blog, beading.   I am 81 years old (which is not remarkable, anyone can be old AND productive… with a lot of ambition and a bit of luck.)

So–I am what I am, and (like Popeye,) nothing else.

I love blogging, and have been working on my blog, Sometimes, for awhile casually and for the past six months more or less regularly on WordPress University classes.   I write casual humor, occasional fiction, news commentary, class assignments, and other pieces.

A story involving a dog named Bob…

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 A Tall Tale, told in jest, on a sort of a “dare.”  

The mail carrier arrives in her little truck about one p.m.   We have a big mailbox, which will hold good-sized packages along with lots of regular mail, which sits out by the road.  Except for watching on-coming traffic, which I avoid by standing behind and to the side of the box.

Sometimes our mail-lady is off, and another carrier fills in for her.   The substitute whips up to the box, jerks it open, and tosses the mail inside.  There is often a letter intended for someone else, a neighbor or down-the-road addressee.   The sub can be as late as six p.m., and is rarely here earlier than noon.

So when  I heard the mail truck at about 10:30, with its distinctive motor sound, from the kitchen where I was making pancakes for breakfast, and had just served myself a tall stack of pancakes– it encouraged me to run out to see what treasures the mail carrier was depositing in my mailbox.

Dashing out the front door, completely forgetting the bluejay who was concerned about her nest, which she had built in a tree near the porch.  We could hear the baby birds chirping, but I had forgotten them on my haste to get to the mailbox.

The bird, apparently surprised and quite agitated, did a bombing run over my head, diving and squawking as bluejays will do.  I did avoid the bird, which returned to her nest when I had passed.

When I got to the mailbox, I saw that the lazy substitute had decided to just hang the rather large package by its string, from the flag meant to indicate the presence of out-going mail.

It had started to rain, and when I got to the package the ink which had been used for addressing the package had a few drops of rain which had smeared the address, causing the black ink to smudge, and when I extricated the package from the flag, I managed to get black ink on my hands, and on my clothing.

As I dashed back to the house, the bluejay squawked loudly but did not bother to threaten me with its dive-bombing technique.

I could hear Bob, our Irish setter, barking inside the house, and as I entered the kitchen the cat, Trinket, jumped off of the table…knocked over the plate which was holding my stack of pancakes, and accidentally tracked syrup all over the table and when she jumped off the table the whole thing crashed to the floor: the dog, the cat, the plate, the syrup bottle, the pancakes spread with butter and syrup…and the sticky sweet syrup blended unpleasantly with the running ink from the package.

What a mess!  And guess what–there was no mail, only the package.

…and they lived Happily Ever-After?

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(Daily Prompt: living happily forever.)

When the beautiful Princess meets the handsome (and rich) Prince at the end of the fairy tale, and the author tells us that “they lived happily forever after,” the notion is at least implied that the author has taken us along the barbed and beautiful path winding through the story until… The End.

That’s it…the end of the story.    Anyone who is interested in hearing about what happens after the presumeably happy couple skips along on their merry way into the sunset.  (Remember those grade school book reports at school where we would smugly say to the class : “to find out  wat happens next, you will have to read the book….” ?   Well, admittedly that was a cop out, but the teacher was well aware of that fact and had a list of embarrassing questions to ask.   (It was not easy to fool Miss Cruelhart.)

Oh sure, it’s easy to extrapolate!   If one really wants to, we can speculate about the countless ways that the story could develop, or even drag on endlessly as the Princess and the Prince went about their lives in the Ever-after.

Is it even possible to live happily forever after?  After what?  After the happy ending in the Fairy Tale story as written?  How long IS “forever after” anyway?   One human life span?    What does “happy” require–would it be possible for BOTH the Priness and the Prince to achieve perfect harmony and compatibility indefinitely, until the end of Forever?

What if the Princess REALLY was awakened from her deep and endless sleep, and was socked with the Prince’s infamous bad breath when he kissed her. .  (There had to be some reason a handsome and rich Prince would have remained eligible to encounter beautiful Princesses that were just waiting for him to come along and discover her waiting for his attentions.)

Happily “ever-after” might be able to recover from halitosis (if the Prince was rich enough, and someone recommended some good toothpaste,)     But how could they get over the negative issues raised when the Princess had the gall to wrinkle her delicate nose in distaste?   Talk about hurt feelings…here the guy shows up out of nowhere and uses his magic powers to awaken the Maiden from her sleep, and she rebuffs him?

What if the girl simply does not LIKE the Prince?   What if HE doesn’t like her?

No wonder the Fairy Tales end with the “happily ever-after” thing.  They would not be as charming if the last sentence in the story was something like: “…the Prince immediately realized his mistake, when the Princess’ first waking word was “EW…”    How rude!   And actually, chances are that the Prince found her less than attractive up close.–who knew how long she had been lying there in her coma?

Passwords and User Name Woes

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(original title:

RISE OF THE MACHINES–EMAIL WOE EDITION.

Every one of the accounts I have…personal, business, creditors…requires a password.  I have three Yahoo accounts that I use frequently, and each has a separate password.  Today I changed the password on one of the account’s three times.  I didn’t write it down, forgot it, it just plain slipped right out of brain.

It’s not easy to come up with these passwords.  They…you know, “They,” warn of dire consequences for using the same password in ALL accounts…they send little messages with snide remarks such as “Sorry, you have used that password before,”  “you may NOT use certain characters but there must be at least one number, one apostrophe, one hash mark, one capital letter, and an original unique character,” … and my personal favorite:  “that is the most used password on the internet.”

OK, so they usually don’t add “Dummy!” to their warnings….but it is strongly implied.

Yes, I do write down new passwords as I create them.  The issue with me is always WHERE I wrote it.  Sometimes in my password notebook, which is almost indecipherable by now–and thus perfectly safe from any snooping eyes.  But its the passwords scribbled on envelopes, the phone book, calendars, mail, or slips of paper with cryptic notes that may or may not be a password.

While I’m on the subject–I hate creating email addresses and User Names.

Creating a new user name is always a challenge.  One can always use their own name…. say Agnes.   On comes the snarky note: “Agnes is taken.   You can use Agnes389, or Agnes.389 (that’s a DOT,)  or Agnes_389…  (that’s an underscore, but no one who ever learned typing ever heard of an underscore, it’s just a classy name for underline….I hate that, too for what it’s worth.)   That system depends on all the other Agnes’s remembering their own numbers…I have often wondered if numbers used that way are really a viable system, whereby theoretically there is an Agnes_388.  If indeed there is, couldn’t that lead to confusion?

And no matter how obscure my choice for a user name name happens to be–there is always someone with the same name.  Really.

Another thing, once an address is created for an account it appears to remain forever, and requests to have it deleted defy solution.  I had a great email name once, about ten years ago, that I thought was ingeniously clever in its simple beauty.  Somehow, some dastardly evil tekkie, with too much time on their  hands, allowed the account to start sending out spam to all my friends, relatives, acquaintances, and utility bills, and credit cards.    So I called the ISP and although the support person was at least nominally sympathetic, they assured me that my problem was completly unique…had never happened before in the history of the internet.

I get that a lot.   🙂

Calling the WordPolice–where are you when we need you?

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This will likely come as something of a shock to the Word Police, who I really count on to be on guard against spelling mistakes. But a post which I published earlier today has a serious misspelling.

The correct word spelling is — “irresistible.”
I spelled it “irresistable.”
Now that I am examining them so closely they BOTH look funny.

Please let me explain. It is true, in my defense, that I have turned off auto-correction programs. I know that there are excellent dictionaries online, but my excuse for not consulting those sites is that I don’t know how to access them online without messing up what I am working on–that is toggling between sites on my tablet.

There was a nagging hunch whispering into my ear ever since I published the post with the erroneous spelling. It kept murmuring “… psst…hey, maybe it was spelled with an -ible suffix, instead of -able…” but I ignored it as long as I could before looking it up online.

I do understand why no one caught the misspelling, though. When I see an error when reading someone else’s work, but I always forget about it because that little voice is whispering “Ha…are you sure? Beware of being wrong and looking foolish,” and I just ignore it.

Before I decided to become a Historian, my goal was to study Linguistics. So I spend a lot of time fretting about word origins and etomology. I would have been really anal then…fortunately I was past my language-learning prime.

Irresistible: The Flaky Croissant

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[The Daily Prompt…if a restaurant named a dish after you, what would it be called?”]

Oh, that’s an easy one… it would be called The Flaky Croissant.

Probably listed under a special category on the menu, like “Build Your Own Burger” or “Breakfast Your Way.”

THE FLAKY CROISSANT $3.95 and Up

Start with … yep, a fresh baked Croissant (or any other featured Roll of the Day)

[ If this is all you want… A croissant (or Roll of the Day) — here ya go!]

If you want the whole shebang…have the Croissant (or Roll of the Day) sliced in half lengthwise, then pile up any of the following ingredients.

egg (however–we like the “official” egg version, hard-boiled and sliced)

bacon or sausage (or a Meat of the Day of your choice)

tuna salad

mac and cheese

sliced chicken (boiled or fried)

tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce (leaf or iceberg)

(other vegetables available as Veggie of the Day)

“Cheese of the Day”

Vegetables of choice–when available.

Extras include: salsa verde AND salsa piquante or regular)

(Sometimes GUACAMOLE is included in the “Relish of the Day” list).

WE MAKE IT FOR YOU  or  BUILD IT YOURSELF AT THE SANDWICH BAR.

Specific choices of ingredients…. ask your server.  She loves to discuss The Flaky Croissant.   She prefers that customers have at least some wild idea of what they want included in  their sandwich…BEFORE she shows up at the table.

She likes hers plain…just the croissant (or roll of the day) on a plate.

[Don’t ask too many questions unless she is smiling.  And don’t ask for “gwak.”]

Trash and treasure in 400 words…

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[Day 19, writing101 Free Writing, 400 words non-stop]

Four hundred words is not really that many,  it depends on the subject, the time, and style of writing.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do (I don’t like that “been wanting to do” instead of simply saying “wanted to do.”  Anyway, the Word Police probably won’t be interested in this free-writing stuff, except maybe the least faint-hearted among them.  As I was saying, I have thought about writing about clearing out stuff.   I have a lot of stuff, as I’ve explained before, having had two brick-n-mortar shops which closed and moved into my garage…and bedroom…spare room…office/book room…closets…basement, although I’ve been trying to give that space a break as it is already overloaded with stuff.

Now, when I say “stuff” I don’t mean “junk.”  Most, the vast majority of said stuff,  is books…thousands of books, some listed for sale, some waiting to be listed.  I am pleased to say that the junk from among the good books has long since been disposed of, which means that good-junk went to the Goodwill, and real junk went into the trash.

My other stash of mostly-good stuff is dollhouse furniture, dolls, toys, “little everythings” as I call them.  This topic is fodder for another post…dollhouse paraphernalia is a very wide subject.

Then there is the real issue here–dealing with miscellaneous nick-knacks and mementos, souveniers, that sort of thing.  This includes anything any of the kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids ever drew, wrote, or made.   This includes such things as a pinecone with yarn arranged artistically around the edges.  When I asked the granddaughter what it was, she replied: “a pinecone with yarn on it.”  Now–how could I throw that out?

Caveat–this post does not in any way apply to  anything that was my grandmother’s.  Those things are stashed high up, with threatening notes inside or taped to the bottom warning of dire consequences for trashing them–some things are sacrosanct.

[Well, I’m afraid I cheated, I ran over my allotted 400 words, so without thinking I went back and edited out some words.  In fact it was about sixty words, including one entirely foreign subject.  Sorry.  I would go back and try to find an earlier draft (by about 5 minutes) but don’t want to mess up the post.    The deleted sentences had nothing to do with the point of the post anyway.]

End

Finding My Voice; loud if not clear

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[Day 17  Writing101, Personality on the Page.]

Well, I sort of got side-tracked on the prompts for Writing101.

I published two or three for Day 14, “To whom it may concern.”     The one that made it to actual publication had to do with a word on page 29 of a nearby book: DIAGRAM  .  Actually I wanted to write a general letter to my WordPress chums, but that got side-tracked too…. so consider this to fill that purpose, too.

Then Day 15, “Voice will find you.”  I think I published something on pop-tarts, or maybe about lists, which was not really intended for the Writing 101 exercise.  Day 16 “Third Time a charm,” wants me to write it, so I’ll put it on the back burner and plan to write it later today.

Which brings me to Day 17, “Style: Personality on the Page.”   OK.

So…the topic is my personality of writing.   This was actually what I wanted to write about a couple of days ago: my style of writing — but I’m going to write it in a different style.

First, I guess I really do have some quirks in wording.   Word choice.  (As an aside I can confide here that my brain dictionary wavers at times, and a word I want to use just isn’t readily available.  I am trying to grasp the word I want here for “weird choices.”)   ah ha…idiosyncracies … boy, does that look like it is spelled wrong!

1.  I use the word “actually” a lot.   This word was an immediate favorite back when it first came to my attention.  I like the way it rolls around on the tongue, and adds a distinct air of sophistication about it.  Actually…I overheard my great-granddaughter using “actually” in something she was saying recently.  (Yes, I did indeed feel a shy sense of pride.)

2.  Ellipses…are my favorite punctuation.  Not only does it add tonal quality to reading aloud, but it also looks nice on the page.  Dashes also have a certain flare.    Actually, though, another thing that looks nice on a printed or on-screen page is double-spacing between words.  Sorry APL or whatever style-guide…your new “style” is ugly.  I know it’s not APL, but I don’t have time to go looking for the write acronym.  (Hmm, if its not an acronym, please mentally fill in the correct letters.)   The only style guides I’ve ever used is Turabian, and the Chicago Manual of Style.

3.  I like to start sentences with the word– SO.  Sometimes I even use OK.

4.  Actually I frown on un-trained use of apostrophes…(oops, almost put an apostrophe in the word, which would have made the apostrophe possessive, as in “apostrophe’s placement”   rather than plural…meaning more than one.    Gosh–have you ever noticed what a weird word that is?

5.  Spelling: I always told my students to have their writing checked by a relative or friend that knows how to spell.  That caveat was foreign to many of my entry-level university students.   Having said that and insulted my university student followers (sorry,) I will add that once when we were discussing this a fellow grad student commented that he did not do much about spelling and punctuation errors on his students’ papers because he “did not really trust his own grammatical prowess enough to judge that of [his]  students.”

5. I try to write as I speak, so it is like hearing me when reading something I have written.  Digressions may not be my friend, but they are friendly nonetheless.   When I speak I tend to forget what I’m talking about, stutter and stammer, veer off from my train of thought into lightly-related subject matter.

I love words like nonetheless, and notwithstanding,  and enjoy using nonsense words like jigglywog.

A fellow grad student (maybe the same one who can’t spell) said to me once:  “Pat, you should use big words.”  To which my answer was  “why?”     Actually, I do tend to use “big” words in writing, but the reason I don’t use them so much in speaking is that there is a tendancy on my part to forget words, or misplace their meanings or pronounciation…which cancels out the coolness of using the big words in the first place.    Besides, when speaking we are forever tied to what we SAY, whereas if we put something erroneous or stupid in writing there is always a chance to retract and substitute different wording.  That is good insurance against sounding foolish.

So this particular post on “finding my voice” has been written (by me) in what might be thought of as a stream-of-consciousness style.  It is complete with asides, back-tracks, and general meandering.

Unfortunately, anyone who follows me very closely will recognize  my convoluted and rambling verbal speech patterns.

When it comes to writing, I believe my voice varies in tone and style with the subject matter, and purpose of the writing.  A piece that is meant to be humorous will be written in a very different way than a political commentary.   I wouldn’t attempt to write a light-satire piece about any aspect of war–or a serious and somber article about Ronald McDonald.

If I write a blog about my favorite TV star, Jennifer Aniston…it will sound different than if I’m writing about Hillary Clinton.  This is not to say that a compare/contrast article could not be written about these two women…just that the content would be different.   Both are blonde.  One is an actress, the other a politician.  I don’t know much trivia about them.  However, a compare/contrast about specifics–age, cooking skills, favorite authors, opinions about dressing little dogs up in ballet costumes– well, actually…I can’t see any even-close-to-pertinent information piece would have any practical purpose.

[Note to the Word Police:  I hope that I don’t amuse anyone when my intent is to be serious.]

Diagram Discussion …on Page 29

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[Day 14, Writing101.  Write about a word on page 29 of the nearest book.]

The nearest book is on a shelf over my left shoulder.  It is on a shelf with a book on Tai Chi, Laughing, and one on the Tarot.  The one I touched first is called Ribbon Basics, by Mary Jo Hiney & Joy Anckner.   It is a book on needlework.   The word that jumps out at me, on page 29,  is:  DIAGRAM.

Let me say that I love needlework almost as much as I love writing.

The difference, now that I think about it, in Writing and Needlework is related– and in some ways reaches a similar goal, which is expression of myself.  In writing all that is really needed is a pencil and paper, or a computer keyboard or equivalent.  Written material flows from deep within me, as with any writer…it stems from a memory or a correlation or a spark of a word or phrase, or picture.

When it comes to needlework of any kind, my original ideas are few and far between.  Faced with a blank piece of fabric I have no idea where to begin.  Add a variety of colored thread or yarn, I might be able to produce a very simple piece of art, limited to a geometric design or a stick-figure outline.  A simple flower-like design could be in storage in my brain, but when it comes to free-form art creation that just isn’t in my talent box.

So what is needed for someone like me to produce a work of art that could approach gift-quality, would require a DIAGRAM.  In my instruction book at hand, the authors have created wonderfully beautiful wall-hangings and pictures, bouquets fashioned with deftness of hands and creativity that could only be genetic in artistic accomplishment.

Sure, I could create something that would approach a piece of needlework that could be acceptable…say to my mother or a beloved aunt…who would cherish it as something that had been created by Me.  The worth  of it would be sentimental, or possibly it could have some intrinsic value if I used gold thread on precious antique velvet.   It would never be a collectors’ item, or be displayed in a museum…unless the maker were famous for some other pursuit–not for embroidery skills or working with ribbon.

The Diagrams in this book are intricate and precise, and the results breath-taking in their beauty even on the printed page.

To draw an analogy here, I suppose one could draw a parallel with Life–perhaps an opposite effect.  Life does not come with a diagram, with colors and spaces all mapped out to fill in various stages of living skills.  Life evolves spontaneously, with guidance and influence–to be sure–but the finshed product (or perhaps I should better say the “work in progress” can not be set out in a diagram as can be a needlepoint picture.