Roots and Wings

Seagull soaring high
Flying Free

If I had two wishes, I know what they would be,

I’d wish for roots to cling to, and wings to set me free.

Denis Waitley

Forest in early spring with fog
Well-Rooted Trees

Procrastination

I put the PRO in procrastination.

Overheard at coffee hour after church.

Definition: “The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.”

Sometimes it seems that everything requires immediate attention: It’s time to make a salad for dinner (My Other Half has a chicken stew in the crock pot, and the scent is stimulating our appetites). I need to check the library on the Internet and renew the books that are due today–because we procrastinated about getting them back in time. The cats want dinner “Now-ow-ow.” When I look out the window, there’s a cloud with a vertically-lined curtain draped from it, so the laundry needs to come in off the line fast. And my priority this afternoon is to find out how Nate Tanner and his friend Hi-Ho Silberman are going to make Halloween monster costumes–in other words, the first draft of a new story.

Maybe the penalty for procrastination is everything needing to be done NOW. Maybe that’s just life and we should both sit down for a cup of tea first?

A cup of tea calls for a cookie… We’ll have a snack now, dinner later.

Historic or Historical?

Grammarly–useful for editing, fascinating for details!

I downloaded the app and began using Grammarly to make punctuation and spell-checking more efficient.  If it tells me I need a comma, I either decide it’s correct and tough the button to add it, or I think, “No, you didn’t understand the construction of that sentence,” and tell it “ignore.”

The “possibly confused word” tags sometimes save me from embarrassing mistakes and sometimes teaches me the nuances of definitions.  Did you know that “historic” and “historical” have specialized meanings?  I titled a chapter “The Historic Context,” and Grammarly informed me that: “The word Historic may be used incorrectly. Review the following notes to determine the appropriate usage for your context.”

  1. Historic is an adjective that describes something important, significant or notable in history.
  2. Historical is adjective that describes something concerning history or past events. These are events of less significance than historic events.

Perhaps the second definition fits the chapter title best because when history is the background or context for Grandpa’s actions, the events may not be significant, just whatever happened to be going on.  It’s historical that he attended the University of Iowa and that he worked on his father’s ranch, but there’s nothing notable about that as far as you and I are concerned.

Or the first definition is better because the building of the Panama Canal, certainly a significant American achievement, is the reason my mother was born in Panama.  On the other hand, my mother’s birth didn’t change history, but the Canal did, so it depends on whether the adjective is applied to baby Ruth or the Canal construction.

How did I decide?  The chapter title sounds better with “historic.”  Adding -al seems either affected or too much like hysterical.

The usage may be more important in  complete sentences:

  • “The Panama Canal was a historic achievement.”  Okay–definitely right.
  • “The historical background for my mother’s birth in Panama was not only the need for surveyors to lay out railroad track and buildings there, but the liberal vacation policy which gave Grandpa time to visit home and meet Linnie Coon.”  Probably the better choice.

I can’t use “historic” again without thinking.  Thanks, Grammarly!

Aphorisms and Thesauri

What’s the difference between an aphorism and a proverb?

When I used what I assumed was an aphorism in the last post, I wasn’t sure, so I investigated.


Definition of aphorism 

1: a concise statement of a principle
2: terse formulation of a truth or sentiment ADAGEthe high-minded aphorism, “Let us value the quality of life, not the quantity”

Merriam Webster

Okay so far. Definition #3 gets technical:


3: an ingeniously terse style of expression aphoristic language. “These are dazzling chapters, packed with perfectly chosen anecdotes and pithy with aphorism.”

Merriam Webster

I wish some reviewer would review my books with that description, but I can’t honestly claim that style of writing.

Are two words synonyms? A simple old-fashioned way to check is with a thesaurus. I use Roget’s “New Edition” of 1873, which I inherited from Cousin Mabel, whose parents must have purchased the book because she was born in 1873 . It threatens to fall apart, the headings are obtuse, and I can’t read the index without a magnifying glass, but it’s a familiar friend.

You don’t have to inherit a copy of Roget–numerous editions have been published in this century, plus electronic editions.

Synonyms for “aphorism,” per Roget of 1873, are: “maxim, apothogm, dictum, saying, adage, saw, proverb, sentence, precept, rule, formula, code, motto, word, byword, moral, sentiment, phylactery, conclusion, reflection, thought, golden rule, protasis, axiom, theorem, scholium, truism. ” If you don’t know how to use some of those in a sentence, ignore them, because your readers won’t recognize them–neither do I.

Note that a synonym is not the the same as a substitute. There are nuances of meaning. Thesauruses (thesauri is also a correct plural–I had to check that out) are not always as exhaustive–or maybe exhausting–as my antique one, but I find the long, micro-print list fun.

Explore the 21-st century editions and variations of thesaurus on Amazon:

No reviews from me for those; explore them (and more) on line or in a bookstore.

One more description–I can’t call it a definition–of aphorism, if you can wrap your mind around it.

Mary’s First Christmas

If Mary told five-year-old Jesus the story of his birth, it might have been like this:

“It’s a true story…It’s the story of how you were born…And the reason why I want to tell it to you is love…

As Mary cleanses a wound on her child’s forehead, from rocks some older boys had thrown, she begins by recounting the visit of the angel who foretold her pregnancy, and her visit to her cousin Elizabeth . The author’s translation of Mary’s song, the Magnificat, is well suited for reading, or chanting, to children:

I sing the greatness of my God

Who chose to raise his lowly maid

While putting down the rich and proud:

Oh, holy is his name!

The Lord remembers Israel;

His mercy and his love remain;

As with our fathers it was well,

With us be it the same.

As the book ends, “Joseph, the carpenter, strong and true” is teaching his son to use hammer and nails.

Mary watches…but Mary isn’t the only one.

The angels are watching.

And God the Father in heaven is leaning low to see.

And all the world is waiting; the shepherds and you and me.

Mary’s First Christmas

My Christmas book wish list includes this author and illustrator, and some others. (Are my children following me?) How I’d love to share these books with all of our grandchildren, one by one!