Golden Days of Late Summer

All that is gold does not glitter.
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Walking in Color

Pokeweed is strangely beautiful. I always thought I was the only person to feel that way, until I read the Wikipedia article on the subject, which says, “Some pokeweeds are grown as ornamental plants, mainly for their attractive berries.” The dark and glossy berries do indeed attract the eye, but what got my attention during Monday’s walk, when I took the pictures below, was the transition of colors as the berries develop. The flower cluster is initially white but eventually turns purplish-red. The flowers turn first into green berries, then into purple ones, eventually becoming so dark as to be almost black. The transformation is really quite stunning, once you notice it.

Here the white flowers are turning into green berries and the stems are changing color.
Here the green berries are turning to purple.

The entire plant is poisonous, so much so that Wikipedia recommends never touching any part of it with your bare hands. When I was a child, my parents warned me that it was poisonous, so I never ate the berries. I seem to recall mashing the berries in a bucket, though, so I must have touched them when I picked them from the plant. Oh, well. What did not kill me must have made me stronger.

Having long been aware of pokeweed’s poisonous nature, I was shocked to learn that people in parts of the South eat it (though only at a certain time of year, and only a certain part of the plant, and only after many rounds of preparation to remove the toxins). I found a good article about the practice. This post also mentions it. I’m not going to try it because, as everyone who writes about it mentions, people can get sick, even die, from eating this stuff. IMHO, it is a starvation-level food: good to know about in the event of an apocalypse, and otherwise just another pretty weed to look at as you’re walking. But I’m happy to know that the berries provide food for many of our local animals, including cardinals, mourning doves, raccoons, squirrels, and foxes.

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I Now Pronounce You Correctly

Forte: I refuse to say that something is someone’s forte. The reason for that is the pronunciation of the word “forte.” I know that it rightly rhymes with “port.” But, if I were to say it that way, someone else would say, “You mean for-tay.” Then I’d have to explain the difference between the French version (which sounds like “fort” and means “strength”) and the Italian (which sounds like “for-tay” and means “loud”). I don’t want to have that conversation. Who would?

Mien: It sounds like “mean” and rhymes with the similarly-spelled “lien.” It pains me to think of how many times I’ve said “me-en.”

Exacerbate: Someone once tried to tell me that this word has a hard C in it. It does not. The C is soft. It sounds sort of like egg-zasser-bait.

Flaccid: A toughie. I’ve heard flass-id, flak-sid, and even flak-id. The first two are correct (and listed in order of preference). The third is incorrect.

Quinoa: Like almost everyone else in America, I used to say “quin-oh-uh.” I got an early start on the correct pronunciation (“keen-wah”), because the pronunciation was given on the box of the first package of quinoa that I ever bought. Lucky!

Niche: I used to pronounce this word “neesh,” as seemed appropriate for its Frenchiness. Then other people’s pronunciation convinced me that it was “nitch.” Both pronunciations are included in Merriam-Webster, but “nitch” is preferred. It’s good that they’re both OK, because I can’t make up my mind over which one I prefer, and I tend to switch back and forth depending on my mood.

Quay: Until very recently, this was always “kway” to me, but then I found out most people say “key.” How odd! Merriam-Webster says that “key,” “kay,” and “kway” are all acceptable pronunciations, in that order of preference.

Queue: I used to avoid ever saying this word, because I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it. In my head, it was “cue-ee-oo-ee,” and more realistically speaking, I thought it might be pronounced “kie.” But then I heard someone call a waiting line a “cue” and the light bulb went on in my head. “Cue” it is. But let’s be honest: the spelling of this word is horrendous, and no one should ever be mocked for mangling its pronunciation.

Gyro: I saved this one for last, because it’s the special exception. I do not know how to pronounce this word correctly. It’s impossible to do so. Any pronunciation you use will likely get you schooled, because almost everyone has their own pronunciation, and they all think they’re right. Or, to look at it another way, all the pronunciations are simultaneously right and wrong. Accept it, and eat your gyro, and all will be well (that is, unless the “gyro” you’re referring to is a gyrocompass or gyroscope, neither of which you should attempt to eat, but which can both be safely pronounced “jie-roe”). Or you can say it the way Jimmy Fallon says to.

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So…

I hate when I end a sentence with “so.” But I keep doing it anyway, so…

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Cleaning My Desk

I sometimes tape interesting quotes onto surfaces in my workspace, but eventually they start to yellow and need to be taken down. Today I am removing three. I would like to remember them, though, so here they are.

People want to know why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy–and I keep it in a jar on my desk.

Stephen King

Heroes and winners aren’t the same thing.

Michael Kevin Farrell

Being healthy is hard. Being unhealthy is hard. Pick your hard.

Marilu Henner
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I Will Try

When I was out shopping the other day, a woman bumped into me, or I bumped into her. We both apologized and smiled at one another. It was a friendly interaction. Afterward, though, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was a Trump supporter. Statistically it’s not unlikely. If she were, and if she had known that I was not, would she have told me to watch where I was going, called me names, or spit on me? That’s the kind of behavior I expect from Trumpers.

That’s why I’m so terrified that he will be reelected. He is a horrible person. His horrible behavior is spreading, and those of us who do not support him are so horrified by what he’s doing to our country that we are beginning to distrust everyone. He’s not MAGA. He’s MAHN: Making America Horrible Now.

I can’t make any promises about my own behavior, because I’m so angry and depressed. If there is such a thing as an aura, mine is getting darker by the day. It’s hard to stay positive when every day brings bad news.

But, just as I resist his horrible agenda, I will try to resist the contagion of his horrible behavior. I will try to be nice to everyone. I will try not to let any horribleness spread on my account. I will try to stand up for what’s right without hurting the people who have been duped into supporting what’s wrong. I will try, and I will try, and I will try. That is all I can do for now.

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Question

If God didn’t intend us to subsist entirely on potato chips, why did He/She/It/They create them to be so tasty?

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Long Week

This week has not been a good week. It has, from the get-go, seemed long and difficult, so much so that by Tuesday I thought that it ought to be Friday, and today feels like a Monday.

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A Promise Is a Promise

In a recent post I said that if any of my bee pictures came out good, I’d share it. A promise is a promise. So here’s my favorite one.

I like bee butts and I cannot lie.
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Dark Thoughts

  • On dark days, I think that humankind has done so much damage to this planet that we’re all going to die. On darker days, I think maybe that’s for the best.
  • I haven’t really processed the latest mass shootings, or any of the previous ones, particularly not Sandy Hook. I’m sad and angry, but only on the surface. I can’t think too deeply about it. If I did, if I really let myself feel, I’d never be able to let my children or my husband leave the house.
  • Jeffrey Epstein, accused sex trafficker, is dead today from an apparent suicide. Hardly anyone on social media seems to buy the suicide story. Epstein’s death not only happened while he was in custody, but it’s also convenient for a lot of powerful, wealthy men whom he might have implicated in his crimes. People do not agree on who’s to blame, though. Trump supporters claim Epstein was murdered by Bill and/or Hillary Clinton, while everyone else suspects it was Trump and/or AG Barr. It’s sad that Epstein’s victims won’t get to see him brought to justice but, in a way, what’s sadder is that though Americans can’t agree on which of our politicians most likely did it, we all believe that our country has become so corrupt that our politicians could and would commit murder.
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