All My Pets are Named Peeve

This is my dog Jett

It’s true. Mostly. I have a cute little puppy named Jett.  That’s short for his registered foo-foo name of Jett Sun’s Joie de Vie Song. Pretentious, pompous, and hard to spell. His registered name reads Jett Sun’s Joie de Vie Son­­g.  Joie de Vie is a French phrase meaning Joy of Life.

But I digress. 

But all other pets are named Peeve.  I was asked to list them once not so long ago but ran out of time and space. 

I don’t claim to have an all-time top favorite peeve; about the time I decide to name it as such, another one comes along and pushes it out of place. 

For instance, anyone who melts food in Tupperware in the microwave really gets my goat––my goat named Peeve.  For a long time that one took home the Blue Ribbon; and a close second was the disappearing lid. Like socks gobbled by the washer, where do lids go?  I suspect the washing machine or the garbage bin. There’s a possibility they are in cahoots.  

For years these were the only true peeves I thought I owned.  Then I encountered my first Costco parking lot. Ugly plastic dishes move aside, parking lots are numeral uno. Peeves shape-shift. 

I suppose ye ol’ grammar complaints of the misuse of you’re/ your and the improper use of there/their/there are common peeves, but the most annoying to me is the mispronunciation of important said as impordant. Highly educated people say it all the time. I don’t even enunciate the first t clearly; I just kind of skip it.  But I never say the as d. I don’t know why it bothers me; it just does. Grammar peeves are not just for grammar tyrants. 

I know someone who has a peeve named Litrally. I tell her how I interpreted her message litrally and she replies how impordant it is to not do so. 

It’s possible that I grate the nerves of listeners when I Oklahoma-fy the washing machine. I never wash the clothes. I warsh the filthy critters. 

Other peeves include but not necessarily in order of importance:

Wobbly table legs. 

Having to listen to a public one-sided phone conversation. Most people talk extra loud too. UGH! 

People who talk in slow-mo. 

People who talk in warp-speed. (Yes, call me Goldy Locks). 

Slow internet.

People who stare at my face while I talk then ask me to answer a question that I had just explained.   

People come to visit you and spend the entire time texting or scrolling through social media. 

Speech givers who promise to make a point but go down a gazillion rabbit holes and never return. 

People in proximity that sneeze without covering the mouth.  YUCK!

Kissing sounds.  (shudder)

People who keep walking behind my car while I am backing out of a parking space, sounding off alarms.

People who walk down the middle of parking lot drive space.

When the spacing feature bugs out on my word processor program.

People who have more than 14 pet peeves. They are grumpy gills.  

This is Peeve

A Chansonette

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Here begins this chansonette.

This may be higgledy-piggledy,

A verse prone to rejectamenta,

A bit of flapdoodle-doo,

With lots of squiggle-diggle-ty.

I nearly spewed my mawkish tea,

While expanding my vocabulary,

The word-of-the-day’s speciality,

This assignment is now

quite ready to go, you see? 

yet I have mispronounced thee. 

Please forgive.

Most of this piece

does not rhyme.

But if I can do it,

I will find and make

the thyme

for this silly little

chansonette.

Please forgive.

MS PGothic

MS PGothic- I think I love you

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I have got to say

When I see you naked

On the sheet so bare

My heart-rate rushes

Oh stop!

No, don’t stop.

Should I bold you?

Highlight you?

Underline you?

Make you blue?

No, there’s something special 

‘bout ebony and ivory.

I will celebrate life with you

Ah, heck! You are so much more

I will live; and live

My life thru you.

Should I bold you?

Highlight you?

Underline you?

Make you blue?

No, there’s something special 

‘bout ebony and ivory.

On a sheet so bare.

The Factotum’s Procrustean Bed

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Years ago, I had purchased an audio lecture course for word nerds via Audible. I quit listening for reasons I don’t remember, but it’s most likely a new semester had begun. Now that I am a certified university graduate, I decided to form a new habit of learning one new word each week in 2022.  

I do love words; yes, I am a nerd. I just don’t know enough of them to make me sound like a pretentious, and pompous windbag, yet I am willing to learn how to be one. Just kidding.  I love how one skilled in language use can string words together, forming into an exquisite and rare-jeweled necklace adorning the page.  Like how a blob of paint upon a canvas can be pushed, pulled, and squished around to form an abstract or still life. Or how a musical note layered one upon another can become an enchanting melody transporting me to a third or fourth dimension. 

I am also inspired by a long-time friend, a genuine Einstein level of genius who has a vocabulary the size of a real, hard copy, 8” thick Webster’s dictionary: The self-proclaimed and humble Master of None (https://rongiesecke.com/?s=giesecke). In my opinion, you are master of the English vocabulary, whose use of language I admire.  (And yes, 8-inch-thick dictionaries really exist. My mother owned one yet was most often used in our family as a toddler’s booster seat at the table.)

But I digress.

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After rediscovering and listening to the introductory chapter of the course, I remembered what had attracted me to the lectures; the technique of teaching was finally a process that I could remember a word’s meaning far beyond that of knowing long enough for a test and promptly flushing.  

Therefore, what and when I write here is something I cannot take credit for––another’s idea yet put into my own words.  That credit belongs solely on the instructor, Kevin Flanigan, PH.D., West Chester University of Pennsylvania. The title of the audio course and the accompanying eBook in PDF format is “Building a Better Vocabulary.” 

His method involves 1) defining the word 2) using the word in context 3) breaking down the morphology and/or etymology 4) making connection: the new with what you already know 5) chunking or learning by groups of similar words. Words that are very often used together are collocates and aids memory by learning synonyms that can be connected in meaning.  

 I have four new words saved to memory: factotum, procrustean, circumspect, and factitious. Following in the footsteps of Prof. Flanigan, I explain my two favorite words from the first four weeks of 2022. These I will remember 50 years from now. (Ask me then.)

Factotum

1. Definition: a factotum is a person who performs many kinds of tasks, or a general servant; a jack-of-all trades. 

2. Context: Modern society would not typically use the word factotum to describe a butler, girl- Friday, or a go-fer, but in fact, that is precise meaning of a factotum––one who performs many different types of tasks. 

3. Morphology: Latin; fac, make, do + totum; all, of the whole. 

Etymology: first used in the 1500s, Martin Luther used factotum in his commentary on            Galatians in 1535. (Merriam -Webster dictionary app.)

4. Making connection: take the new word and connect it to what is already known. We know that mothers are nursemaids, cooks, housecleaners, laundresses, chauffeurs, bookkeepers and more. Picture your mother and now you can make a connection of the new word factotum. Moms do a little bit of everything. 

5. Chunking: category of words that mean servant, jack-of all-trades, man/girl Friday, personal assistant, or a handyman/woman. 

Procrustean

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1. Definition:  Tending to produce conformity by violent or arbitrary means. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means to enforce uniformity or conformity without regard to natural variation or individuality. 

2. Context: Many U.S leaders have instituted mandates they equate with constitutional law and enforce by tyrannical means of denying basic human rights such prescription drugs, loss of employment, or denying people to be in public places without proof of receiving a particular injection. Many people view these as being placed on the procrustean bed of leadership by coercing individuals to comply, regardless of personal belief or health status, with the specious argument of keeping every citizen “safe.”  

3. Morphology: Procrustean is an adjective derived from Greek mythology of a robber named Procrustes who was known to force victims to lie on a bed and made them fit or by chopping off limbs. Etymology: first known recorded use c.1640s; Procrustes+an (Dictionary.com).

4. Connection: The authoritarian ruler often metes out punishments to young children with procrustean methods such as spanking with a willow tree branch. My personal connection is a memory of an angry mother chasing me around the yard while my calves stung with each strike of a willow branch and an involuntary corresponding yelp. I envision a weeping willow tree and see Procrustes. 

5. Chunking with words that mean ruthless, tyrannical conformity, unmerciful, inexorable. 

I’m excited to think that by this time next year, I will have 52+ new words to insert into my writing. I suppose at the year’s end that the next challenge is to see how many new words I can use in one blog and be coherent. 

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3 Suppositions and a Conclusion

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1. I am created in the image of God.

  • Genesis 1: 26; “And God said. Let us make man in our image….”
  • Genesis 1:27; So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” KJV

2. A dream begins with an image.

  • The American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.)  defines the transitive verb form of the word dream as “to conceive of or imagine.” 
  • The intransitive verb form of the word dream is “to have a deep aspiration.”

3. I was formed in my momma’s womb by ADONAI.

  • Psalms 139:13b “You [God] knit me together in my mother’s womb.” TLV
  • Isaiah 49: 5a “So now says ADONAI, who formed me from the womb….” TLV
  • Jeremiah 1: 4 and 5a “The word of ADONAI came to me saying: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you….”

Conclusion:

Dreams, in the sense of having deep aspirations, begin with an image or a vision.  Dreams such as these require hard work and dedication to manifest into reality: There is no magic bean to produce Jack’s beanstalk. 

Therefore, because I am made in the image of God, that dream conceived and imagined, and aspired to by God’s forming of my body in my mother’s womb, I can safely conclude that I am a dream come true! 

#Where Did My Belly Button Go?

Health experts say sitting is the new smoking, meaning consistently sitting long hours is just as detrimental to one’s health as is smoking.  I have spent the last five years sitting on my fanny an awful lot while pursuing a higher education.  Since graduation, binge watching my shows seems to be more enjoyable than cleaning out the pantry. Consequently, me ol’ belly button has moved.  

I used to be an active person. In a far-away past I had always found ways to move that was enjoyable to such as walking trails, riding bicycles, or aerobic stair stepping routines via VHS tapes in the 1990s. I even started taking backpacking camping trips.  

My outdoor, fun-in-the-sun activities came to a screeching halt in 1999 due to severe burns. Although healed, being in the sun became physically painful. It’s akin to having a sunburn and stepping outside under the UV rays. 

Yet in my pre-burn youth I never did like going to the gym: For one, I couldn’t afford the fees. So, in inclement weather I found plenty of ways to stay fit. I’ve been known to walk in circles inside my house––I had a house conducive to doing so––until I reached a mile or jumped rope 45 consecutive minutes or danced around for a pre-set time allotment. Ah, those were the days, my friend! 

The kids were always commanded ––yelled at––to stay away from Mom during these times. A daughter and I were reminiscing, and she surmised that it was because I didn’t want them to see my red face! I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t that but my sense of “me time” was being invaded. (Sorry, kids, if you happen to read this.) I’ve concluded this is why I don’t fully enjoy going to the gym––chalk it up to my introvert tendencies. (And yes, my face does get very red.)

But I digress. 

Over the years, I have participated in Yoga, Zumba, and aerobic classes, none of which I have truly enjoyed doing as a group. But my all-time favorite gym experience was at the local YMCA: Drumming. These routines entail pounding sticks on a yoga ball while dancing around. I suspect I loved it because I sometimes play the drums and I do own a drum kit. I’m the one air drumming and crashing cymbals while everyone around is strumming riffs at air guitars or singing-into-the-spoon. 

In the few weeks before the required Stay-at-Home orders went into effect, I met with a personal trainer once a week to work on strengthening my core. I was blessed too find one to come to my home once a week until COVID19 showed up in a fast and furious way. 

There is a plethora of opportunities to subscribe to virtual work routines, yet I want to recommend Dale Maynor at https://www.dalemaynorfitnesstraining.com.

I’ve kept the routine going sans trainer; but I decided I needed to get the whole body moving. So, I dug out the plastic aerobic step system from storage.  Two days later (yep, I tend to procrastinate), the search began on YouTube for a routine to follow and I was delighted to find an original Susan Powter video.

In the early 2000s, I was faithful to Powter’s “Lean, Strong and Healthy” aerobic stair stepping video.  I thought she was pretty cool although I never figured out exactly what insanity she wanted to stop. I was too busy huffing and puffing and blowing the house down to give a rip.

It was from Powter that I first learned a more proper posture that promotes better results in working the core: pull your belly button in as if to touch the spine.  Within two minutes upon my reunification with my old friend Susan and the “Lean, Strong and Healthy” routine, I began to wonder if I still had a belly button and if so, where is it?  

As it turns out, I do have one but there is much more distance to cover these days until it reaches the lower spine. Still, I did my best to bring a meeting of the twain––obviously much easier when I was 50 pounds lighter and a tad younger.

This pulling-in-the-belly-button-to-spine activity helps open up and lengthens the spine: It’s especially therapeutic for those who have been under the influence of gravitational pull longer than some. It’s good to practice throughout the day as well and helps relieve back pain. 

Many people’s social lives revolve around faithful gym attendance like some society’s neighborhood pub serves as a social center.  My introvert-self is quite content to step up and practice my belly-buttoning-pulling-in routine in the happy and sometimes bored confines of my home. 

For the curious or like-minded souls check out Powter’s video:

NOTE: The music as well as the video quality really sucks. One pet peeve to video routines is the music. Sometimes it reminds me of porno tunes––so I’ve been told; please, don’t ask. So, I muted the sound and streamed my Amazon Music workout playlist to a Bluetooth speaker.  Things really got a-movin’ and a-groovin’ to Lover Boy’s “Lovin’ Every Minute of It.” 

They lied: I only loved the first two minutes. 

As the World Turns…

As the World Turns Pauses

It’s obvious that as the crisis of COVID19 looms over the globe, we the people have put our normal lives on hold. Life as we know it has paused.  The hardship of this unprecedented time is unfathomable; for everyone. Yet, I have observed a few personal benefits since Shelter-In Place (SIP) orders were established. 

I never thought I would see the day when one buys five years’ worth of toilet paper, leaving the rest of the community with none.  The plus side of this marvel  is that I visualize the astonished expressions on my great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren’s faces when I regale the tales of “back in the day.” I’m confident they will be googling to verify that Granny’s story was not the crazed rambling of an old woman. 

I am, by nature, a homebody. My only so-called social outing these days is the essential business of buying groceries. Staying six feet away from fellow customers is no problem for me because my innate need of personal space is just about that. Also, bringing a bag from home means I must bag the items myself, saving me from the idiot check-out person who places a loaf of bread and dozen eggs under the weight of a gallon jug of milk. 

On the plus side of SIP, I have only burned through ¼ tank of fuel in the past 3 weeks or so. Another plus is that I have had less laundry to wash because I dress in my stay-at-home clothes (que images of sweats and ratty t-shirts) rather than rocking business attire. Due to my having the nature of an introvert, I have truly enjoyed free curbside-pick up when ordering items online from local stores. I wonder why I haven’t been doing this all along until I remember the convenience fee attached to the total bill. 

I also have much more time available to declutter the house, write, enter the rabbit hole of Ancestry.com, shred oodles of piles of snail mail, learn a few software programs purchased and downloaded many moons ago such as Scrivener.

You may have picked up on the “time available” verbiage in the above paragraph. My busy pre-stay-at-home schedule often had me lamenting if I had more time, I would clean out the garage, the pantry, etc.  This season of SIP illuminates the great self-revelation that behind those excuses, the reality of “I JUST DON’T WANT TO” is starkly exposed. 

The bald truth forces me to confront me. As we ogle each other, one of me vocally gives permission to sit on the couch and stream movies all day.  While the other me simply wags a finger and the inner monologue says tsk, tsk, tsk, what about that to-do list?  

Even though I have strongly suspicioned that particular character flaw exists within for quite a while now, I can no longer deny I have a problem.  It is not that I’m totally lacking in self-disciple.  For the past few months, I have managed to complete a list of five things I do daily.  I say this flagrant revelation is a benefit in the fashion that one must lance a wound before healing can begin. But perhaps the biggest roadblock to getting things done is that of procrastination: I can happily talk myself into the wait-until-tomorrow phenomena. 

I once bought a self-help book on how to stop procrastinating.  I kid you not that in the 14 years I have owned that book, I have yet to read further than the title page. I imagine a group akin to AA in which I introduce myself “Hi, I’m Janet and I’m a procrastinator” followed by a group reply, “Hi, Janet.” 

 And the dance begins.  Should I give myself permission to do nothing but watch movies and binge serial shows (all the while visualizing a wagging finger and hearing tsk, tsk, tsk) and wave the flag in surrender to the screen? Or wait until I finish all items on that supposed list, the list that has turned into a short novel? 

Tada! I have found the perfect strategy. (Turns out, I am also great at compromise with inner conflict.) I will watch an episode; check an item off the list––after completion––of course and repeat. By the time the SIP order is lifted, only a small number of things will be checked off the list and I will be lamenting once again that I just don’t have time to do it all.  And it will be legit. 

Trash Collectors ––An Underappreciated Profession

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In my last post I wrote about completing a daily gratitude list of a minimum of 20 items. Some things that I am most thankful for show up repeatedly, such as indoor plumbing. (See previous post for the reason I don’t take indoor plumbing for granted.)

 

Why purposely practice an attitude of gratitude? As it turns out, according to the Psychology Today website, author Amy Morin, claims there are seven scientifically proven reasons why one should practice gratitude. Gratitude improves one’s physical health, mental strength, psychological health, opens the door to more relationships, build’s self-esteem, reduces aggression and builds empathy. Interestingly enough, thankful people sleep better and longer. 

 (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude).

For the past couple of weeks, gratitude for garbage collectors has cropped up on my list a couple of times.  This also ties to my childhood, country living days when our household was responsible for hauling our trash to the local landfill­­ (or the dump as we called it­­), burning it, or sometimes Dad would even bury it. That’s country living.

In my country-living days, we children were responsible for getting trash outside of the house. Once outside, getting it off the property was up to Dad.  There was a special, sturdy barrel for burning. Once, a can of hairspray escaped our notice and it exploded sending shards that hit my younger sister near the eye. Dangers abound with this method. Some things were burned inside the woodstove, our only source of heat. 

Things that couldn’t or wouldn’t burn were piled up until a pickup truck bed was filled. Then it was off to the landfill. The few times I rode with Dad were father/daughter bonding moments until he began backing the truck to the edge of the stinky gorge. Panicked cries of warning­­––“Stop, Dad! You’re going too far!” and “We’ll fall in!” –– were met with chuckles. It didn’t occur to me that Dad didn’t want that to happen anymore than I did. 

I know some city dwellers who opt out and carry away their trash to the local waste disposal site thinking it will be cheaper. Tally up at least twice monthly trips at an expense of about $27 a load, it works out about the same amount of money as the city charges for curbside service.  Not to mention garbage sitting around stinking and attracting vermin for weeks at a time. EW! 

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I’m thankful that all I need to do these days is collect from the house, toss it a bin and wheel it out to the street curb and wait for man and machine to haul it far away.  Besides, I don’t quite   trust myself to stop the truck before it rolls into the reeking ravine. 

A Lot Like Seinfeld

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According to WordPress statistics, I posted here two times in 2019.  For someone who recently graduated with a BA in English with a Specialization in Writing, that fact is utterly abhorrent. The truth is that my inner monologue has been saying things such as “I don’t have anything to say that is worth reading.” It reminds me of the Seinfeld sitcom that often was self-described as a show about nothing.

It’s true that this is a personal blog with a handful of followers. It is also true that I have been tossing to and fro seeking solid ground since graduating.  I don’t know who I am if I am not a student. Because I was not in the typical age bracket of most college graduates, I face a different challenge of who I want to be when I “grow up” or what job can I get with the degree I worked so hard to achieve. I have had jobs, children, husbands, grandchildren and now I have great-grandchildren. 

 The summer months of 2019 found me in the kitchen making jellies and jams, breads, pies of all types; at the sewing machine making aprons; and traveling short distances to a beach; or visiting daughters and grandchildren. In short: floundering. One would think that at my age I would have found myself by now without that proverbial European backpacking trip.

Alas, it is not so. It seems that as new seasons of life roll around, I must begin anew.  Sure, some roles are the same: I’m still a mother, grandmother, etc., but as my family’s life -stages change, I must adapt. For example, being a mom to adult children is far different than being a mom to young children. 

Adaptation does not happen overnight: Sometimes we flounder in the process. That’s where I have been––in the floundering stage. I am beginning to equalize and find balance in my new role as a non-student. I recently began volunteering at a local Senior Center that has helped me find meaning, fulfillment, and purpose outside of my family.

In the past few weeks (21 days to be exact) I have been taking a closer look at my dreams and goals that I want to transpire in my remaining years. One goal is to revive this blog, even if it’s personal with a handful of followers. And yes, even it is a blog about nothing.