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“The young writer will be drawn at every turn toward eccentricities in language. He will hear the beat of new vocabularies, the exciting rhythms of special segments of his society, each speaking a language of its own. All of us come under the spell of these unsettling drums; the problem, for the beginner, is to listen to them, learn the words, feel the excitement, and not be carried away.” – – An E.B. White Reader

 

Have you heard the beat of new vocabularies? Nouns turned into verbs are used all over. We google subjects and we tweet, though we aren’t birds. We text and snapchat each other, but our communication is often abbreviated to words without vowels; we have a new shorthand to meet the needs of a fly by friendship.

I am familiar with several special segments of society that have a language specific to its members. One of these is the field of education, a world full of acronyms and oft used terms. Overuse certainly kills the charm of some words. I can think of some that need to be retired, or at least put on the back burner. Some of these would be: partner (as in ‘partner with’, not ‘Howdy, Partner!’), relationships, ownership, mission statement, intentional, and unpack. Contemporary religion also has its share of overused expressions, such as authentic, relevant, passionate.

The best point White made is to “not be carried away.” Words are wonderful and repetition has its place. But like a parent who threatens “if I have to tell you one more time”, frequently repeated words lose their appeal and begin to fall on deaf ears.

Why I Write Poetry

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“Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in the best order.” ― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Like Robert Brower, the editor of Poetic Asides at Writer’s Digest, I began writing poetry in high school. Some sappy love poems, some nature oriented, some expressing my love to God. Years went by and I wrote on occasion. But, then I began more serious dabbling in poetry when I became involved in the PAD (Poem a Day) challenge that occurs in April via Brower’s column online. I also taught poetry to 6th graders and saw many of them blossom into poets by the end of our time together.

I find poetry fun and freeing; comforting and challenging. I enjoy word play, so rhyming and formulaic poetry serves a purpose for me there. I also find I need the outlet that poetry provides. I can express myself when no other way will do. Poetry also challenges me to find and arrange “the best words in the best order.”

 

And Repeat

 

clocks hands so slowly move

on across the minutes

twenty-four and repeat

 

quiet dawn to soft dusk

and moments in between

at last the lovers meet

 

that raven evermore

returns time and again

dark and quiet to mind

 

until death do us part

in faded lace and white

oft times love is so blind

 

5-9-17

Circumference of Love

 

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We love wherever we can love, and the power of that love spreads until the circumference of the circle of love grows wider and wider…even though I know to my rue that the circumference of my love is still much too small. – The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

I feel like I keep giving myself this same message; to love wherever I can love. And I also keep seeing that the circumference of my love is also still too small.

God’s word has told me: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” – John 14:15

And what are these commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

So, I think this circle of love begins with God’s love for me and my love for Him. The circumference can’t grow unless this is firmly established. After that, the boundaries can grow and stretch beyond measure.

Truer Than True

 

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I love to read statements made by authors (or their characters) that are even more true today than when they were written. The following examples are some that have jumped out at me in the past couple of years. I have ordered them backwards chronologically.

⇒  “I wouldn’t be surprised if a show about nudists was a hit…_ “ – I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010) 

Now we have Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, and a host of others

⇒  “Look at television, Father had said- Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet. Children watch hours of this junk every week.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

⇒  “We aren’t persecuted very much nowadays, we Christians, at least not overtly. But in point of fact there is a good bit of sub-rosa persecution, ridiculing if not reviling. In children’s books, death and sex used to be taboo, Now death and sex are “in”, and Christianity is the new taboo; other religions are appreciated, Buddhism, Hinduism, the pre-Christian Druidism; Christianity is not tolerated. And not only in children’s literature. It has been made taboo by those who do not understand it … of course we intelligent people don’t need God and we certainly aren’t interested in the cross. Only those poor people who aren’t strong enough on their own go in for the false promises of religion. – The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle (1977)

All I can say is this is even more prevalent today than ever before. I see it not only in children’s literature, but on TV programs, in the news, on social media.

⇒  “We have – particularly in the United States, particularly in the suburbs – allowed ourselves to live in a child-centered world; the children have become more important to the parents than the parents are to each other; and suddenly the children grow up and leave the nest and the parents find themselves alone with each other, and discover with horror that there is nobody there.” – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (1972)

Wow! It was surprising to me to hear her talk about a child-centered world in 1972. Today’s world is even more child-centered, from play-dates and birthday party productions to travel sports teams.

⇒  “When a city begins to grow and spread outward from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in; poorer people move in as rents fall, and small fringe businesses take the place of once flowering establishments.” – Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (1961)

I’ve seen this happen in Jacksonville and have seen the results of it in Birmingham. Both of these towns have and are making efforts to bring people back to the city centers.

⇒  “Today, the language of advertising enjoys an enormous circulation. With its deliberate infraction of grammatical rules and its crossbreeding of the parts of speech, it profoundly influences the tongues and pens of children and adults.” – An E.B. White Reader, from the chapter titled “Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat “ by E.B. White (1959).

Here are some examples of intentional infractions in advertising:

“More power. More style. More technology. Less doors.” – Mercedes breaks the grammar rule that says “less” is used with mass nouns and “fewer” with countable nouns: “Door” is a countable noun; ergo, we’re obliged to say “fewer doors.”

“For hair and/or body, or both.” (Old Spice)

“Got milk?”

 

 

Father’s Day Thoughts

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“I loved photography for the same reason I loved baseball. Because Dad did.” – Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

 

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This made me think, are there things I love because Dad did? I suppose there are things I like and things I do and choices I’ve made along the way because of him. I was born in Athens, Georgia and into this family that has perpetually rooted for the Georgia Bulldogs. So, I’ve always considered myself a fan, though it’s laughable to call me a fan of any football team. Dad loved music and so do I, though I can’t say he influenced my choices of musical styles.

Dad’s work ethic was an example to me and I think it had a lot to do with my educational goals when I first went off to college. I majored in marketing with an eye on fashion merchandising. Dad didn’t ever push me into it, but he was clear with his desire for me to get a college education, something he never had. He explained to me the changes in the workplace and how, in his later years, he couldn’t hire anyone without a degree. How I wish he had been there when I finally graduated with a degree in Elementary Education.

Dad was also a wordsmith of sorts. He loved to use big words. He admitted to having poor handwriting and spelling skills; he said that’s what secretaries were for. He also loved to make up words, specifically names for us kids and then the grandkids. Maybe I somehow absorbed his love of words.

Like Woods, I love photography and I like baseball. I don’t know where exactly my love of taking pictures came from, but it has evolved greatly in recent years. My enjoyment of baseball totally came from my husband.

All this brings me to say, I’m glad for the glimpses of Dad that show up in me on occasion. The wordplay, the sense of honesty, the sense of humor. Thanks, Dad.

Love,

Puncie

Kodak Moments

Most of the details from childhood are hazy and jumbled. Many are gone completely. I try to recall specific Christmas and birthday gifts. Other than the Kodak camera and a red baseball glove, I just come up with vague memories of sweaters, model rockets. And vinyl albums. – Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

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It’s because of those Kodak moments that some memories have stayed with me. I’ve been able to look back at old photographs and remember things about the day they were taken. When I read Mark’s book, I dug out the few photos I had of our family vacation out west, then I had my brother email me some he had. I remember the dry heat of Arizona and the puppy-love longing I was experiencing that summer. I also have vague memories of drinking a lot of Sprite from hotel vending machines and my first experience with authentic Mexican food.

I get sad sometimes that so many of my memories are gone completely. I wish I had a time machine to go back and just enjoy some moments. I’d go back to when my grandma was alive and have some real conversations with her. I’d go back to high school and just be myself without all the self-conscious hindrances. I’d play sports and eat better, too. I’d relive that July Fourth of 1985 when everything just seemed perfect.

Alas, there is no time machine for me except the one going too fast into the future. So, I take photos of big and little moments as I hope to preserve a few memories for my grandkids.

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A Kodak moment – 6/11/17

Thoughts on Grace – Humility

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“The baby Christian and the maturing believer know that they ought to be humble… the grown-up in Christ, however, IS truly humble. He habitually looks back on the way God has faithfully led him and can see the innumerable times that God has given him good in return for his evil.”
I think I fall somewhere in between the maturing and grown-up Christian. I am still learning a lot of lessons in being humble. Hard lessons sometimes. I found I thought too much of myself, my credentials, my experience. It is all for nothing without Christ.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility. Proverbs 15:33