Words I Do Not Like

The word “pulchritude” is too ugly to mean “beauty.” “Salvia” looks too much like “saliva” to be a nice flower name, and “scabiosa” is even ickier. My least favorite word of the moment, though, is “bloviate.” It ought to be a good word, because it sounds like what it means (to speak pompously; i.e., to “blow”). But it’s an ugly-sounding word, which makes me think of blowflies, and it’s often used in reference to a person (Donald Trump) whose behavior is even uglier. So in my mind the word is connected to the image of maggots feasting on rotting meat and the image of Donald Trump, making “bloviate” the most unpleasant word I know.

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Land Lost

I saw a tagline for an article today that stated that the pace of deforestation in the Amazon is increasing. I didn’t read the article, because it would have been far too depressing. It makes me incredibly sad to think that people are still destroying the rain forest. This has been going on for decades, even though everyone knows it’s wrong.

But what this article specifically made me think of today was how, when I was in high school, I was briefly a member of the Environmentalist Club. We ran a fundraiser so that we could buy up some small part of the rain forest, which was fairly inexpensive at the time, and I believe that we were ultimately successful in acquiring some.

I wonder now what ever became of that land. Did we ever really buy it? Is it still protected? If so, to whom does it actually belong? And if buying up rain forest could save it (and theoretically, at least, it could) why haven’t the goodhearted billionaires of the world acquired the remainder to safeguard it? I mean, if teenagers could at least try to do their part, what the hell is wrong with all the adults?

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I Gave Up

The point at which I gave up on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was p. 40. I will tell you why, and then, if you care to, you can tell me if you agree with my decision.

The scene is Netherfield. Jane had gone there to visit, but she had gotten soaked by rain and stabbed by zombies en route, and she was now lying very ill. Elizabeth is there to tend her. It is evening, and everyone but Jane is downstairs, occupied by some form of pastime. Elizabeth is oiling her musket stock. Mr. Darcy is writing his sister a letter, while Miss Bingley, his best friend’s sister, attempts to engage him in chitchat. She asks him to include a message from her in his letter, and he replies,

Miss Bingley, the groans of a hundred unmentionables would be more pleasing to my ears than one more word from your mouth. Were you not otherwise agreeable, I should be forced to remove your tongue with my saber.

In Austen’s original work, he replies,

Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again?–At present I have not room to do them justice.

The problem for me is that, because I like the original story and the characters as Austen wrote them, to see characters behave so out-of-character is painful. For readers not acquainted with or particularly inclined to tackle Pride and Prejudice, this mash-up might seem like just the thing, a way to approach a classic that otherwise might strike them as old-fashioned, difficult, or dry. As for me, I’d rather either reread Pride and Prejudice or read a zombie story. This combination just does not work for me.

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Thoughts This Morning

At 35+ pages, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not coming off so well. As I was reading last night, much of the text sounded familiar (probably because I’ve seen the BBC adaptation of the original story many times), but that made the added parts feel jarring. The zombie scenes were gory, but over quickly, and they had so little effect on the characters that it was awkward. Lizzie was blood-thirsty (she wanted to kill Darcy the first time she met him), which was odd and unnecessary. Also, and I can’t be sure of this, having not read the original text in years, but the story seemed to be abbreviated, which may have contributed to the inconsistent flow. This is something I could check, since I own the original work, and perhaps I will. Meanwhile, I’ll give the zombie version a few more chapters, but I’m not optimistic.

If I have to give up on the zombies, that’s OK. I have a huge stack of books waiting to be read, plus three more at the library that are waiting for me to pick them up.

On the work front, I have a deadline coming up. I had been well on target to finish on time, so I let my inner perfectionist have her way. Bad idea. Now the first 30 pages of the issue are perfect, but there are still 90 pages to check and I’m down to my last two days. Yikes!

On the home front, next week is the kids’ last week of school. Livia will be moving on to 3rd grade, and Marshall to 5th!

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Cleaning Is So Unfair

Some fundamentally unfair things about cleaning:

  1. If you don’t have quite enough dishes to fill the dishwasher, and you go looking for a couple more dishes, you will always find more than you can fit.
  2. Having more bathrooms does not equal any one bathroom staying clean longer. It just means having more bathrooms to clean.
  3. It is pretty much impossible to completely eliminate Laundry Mountain, unless you’re willing to live without towels, and you don’t have children.

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Reading Update

I just finished reading Here, a collection of poems by Wislawa Szymborska. I’m not going to give it a grade, because I don’t feel like I understand poetry well enough to, but I will say that I liked it. I have several more collections of her poetry on my nightstand. They have different translators. I’m curious to see how the different translations will affect my feelings about Szymborska’s poetry, and I will be reading more of her work soon.

I needed a break from poetry, so I started reading The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors by David George Haskell, but I put it down almost immediately. The first few pages were tediously overwritten, and I didn’t have enough patience at that moment to continue. I will probably give it another shot later. The subtitle (Tales from Nature’s Great Connectors) is what drew me to the book, because the connectivity of trees is a big theme in my novel. I had hoped this book might offer some insight or support for my ideas, but I’m not going to throw away weeks or months of reading time trying to wade through dense, unappealing text. If it doesn’t get better ASAP, it’s going back to the library unread.

After I put down the tree book, I picked up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen. When this novel first came out, I thought it sounded interesting, but the reviews were mixed. I wasn’t willing to pay full price for it. When I saw it at the library’s used book store a couple of weeks ago, I bought it because I was in the mood for something humorous. I’m only eleven pages in, but it’s good so far. It seems to be mostly Jane Austen’s work, but with bits about a mysterious plague and fighting woven in. I’m curious to see how it will turn out. Many reviewers say that it was a great premise poorly executed. I hope that will not be the case, but I am prepared to abandon the book if it seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

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Unexpected Message

Today my web browser gave me a message. It said,

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

There are strange things happening on the Internet these days, but this one’s nice.

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British at Heart

I’ve always felt that the word “grey” looks better than the word “gray.” And as I think more on the matter, I realize that to me “gray” and “grey” are not even the same color. “Gray” is a drab color. It feels barren and lifeless. “Grey,” on the other hand, has silver in it. It can be a cheerful color that reminds us of the best parts of winter and the mysteriousness of twilight.

So why do I almost always use “gray” rather than “grey” in my writing? Because I’m an American, and I don’t like to be accused of misspelling words. I also spell “judgment” with no E between the G and M, even though it looks wrong. But I want that E. I also want to double up the consonants in certain words (like “traveller” instead of “traveler”). I prefer “catalogue” to “catalog.” And though I feel no great compulsion to add a U to “humor” or to swap the last two letters of “center,” it wouldn’t bother me to do so.

I think it must be that I’m a little British at heart.

But only just a little, because “manoeuvre” and “licence” are sheer nonsense. 😉

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Dear Robin

Dear Robin,

My car is blue. I like it that way. Please stop trying to paint it white.


The Person Whose House You Keep Trying to Build a Nest On

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How Many Times?

How many times must I stick my head out the window and yell at the robin before it gets the message that it should not build its nest in the spot where the power lines connect to our house?

It’s a big world, Robin. Find another spot!

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