Big Words, Strong Words

I love words. I’ve had more than a few conversations about my favorite ones and why I like them so much. My tendency is to favor words that are less common or that have some memory attached. I’m a real fan of olde English.

I get frustrated with people who use the same simple words again and again. A certain political figure comes to mind. His tweets and speeches are full of the word “very.” But I am absolutely repulsed when people resort to crassness when they run out of creative words. I would much rather hear VERY than “effing.”

A word doesn’t have to be full of letters to be a big, strong word. Look at the word APT. It has only three letters but seems to pack a lot more punch than ABLE or LIKELY.

CAULIFLOWER is a long word but has a simple, straightforward meaning. Well, okay, it has been used to describe a boxer’s ear. Still, it’s a gnarly vegetable. I consider this a small word.

FUNK is a word I like. It’s short but conveys a good deal of emotion, telling the reader about a blue mood without implying a serious or permanent mental state. I look at it as a strong word.

The problem with big, strong words is that we don’t hear them as often as we do the little, weak ones. The more we hear a word, the more likely we are to use it in our writing or speech. It gets tiresome.

Just think how many times a week you hear the phrase, “Oh, my God.” It is totally worn out. The word PERFECT, used in previous centuries to denote maturity, and something to strive for, has lost its effect in today’s generation, since even a properly filled form is “perfect.”

It seems the current trend among young people, rather than learning the language, is to make things up. MANSPLAIN is one example, though I can’t deny its usefulness. TOMOZ is a new word I think we could have done without. The Oxford English Dictionary has added 2,000 new words in 2018 and the year is not over!

UBIQUITOUS—now there’s a word for you! When I first learned the meaning, it was if I had never heard it before. But once I acknowledged it and started plugging it into my vocabulary, it seemed to pop up everywhere. (Pun intentional.)

After I rode a two-wheeled contraption called a SEGWAY in 2010, I began hearing political pundits using the word to mean a bridge between subjects and I had to look it up. (I love my big dictionary!)


I love my big dictionary!

Years ago I read a Western novel by a (new to me) author that had the word SIBILANCE in it. I skimmed over it the first time. The second time, I had to find it in the dictionary because it didn’t quite fit the definition I had put together from the first use. If I remember correctly, the author used it ubiquitously in every book of his I read thereafter.

So the next time I hear the word VERY (or read it in a tweet) I plan to make substitution in my mind. I’ve looked up some suggestions in my handy Thesaurus.

Very, adv. [which is the most typical] 1. Extremely, exceedingly, terribly, quite, jolly, remarkably, notably, highly, supremely, awfully, exceptionally, extraordinarily, unusually, uncommonly, abnormally, absolutely, altogether, entirely, thoroughly, decidedly [Ooh, I like that one!], unquestionably, unequivocally, downright, totally, completely, hugely, vastly, enormously, greatly, more than. And so on, ad nauseam.

An interesting read on the subject of new words can be found at WordCounter.

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Gloom, Despair and Agony

Is it raining where you are? Is it damp, cloudy, maybe a bit chilly? Are you feeling the despair creep in? I find the weather can affect my mood; my mood affects my attitude; my attitude affects my life. I don’t fully appreciate the sunshine until it’s missing.

I am reminded of the funny song Buck Owens and Roy Clark wrote for Hee-Haw:

After the storm

When you fly above the clouds, the sun is always there. (Photo by Teresa Farrington, used by permission.)

Gloom, despair, and agony on me

Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

On a trip to Colorado to attend a Christian conference in August, my attitude was sorely tested.

I had been battling diverticular disease for months, getting no solutions from the doctor’s office, and living in fear of food that might set off extreme pain and “bathroom drama.” I went to the conference looking for and expecting answers, feeling upbeat and positive. Meantime, our entire trip was planned around my restrictive diet of white rice and potatoes. (Grumbling all the way.)

Our first night’s stay was in a hundred-year-old mansion in quaint little Green Mountain Falls. We knew there were lots of stairs (47) from the parking lot up to the house, but there was an unloading area at ground level in the back. We did not know we’d have to drag luggage down fifteen stairs to our lodgings in the “Carriage House.”

The elevation (7800 feet) did a number on us and we were huffing and puffing after every trip to the car. (Up 15, down 47, up 47, down 15.) But we laughed and made the most of it, saying it was getting us in shape for our planned excursion to the top of Pike’s Peak the next day. (We still grumped about it.)

When we returned from breakfast the next morning, the ground level loading area was blocked off by the fire department A construction crew had ruptured a gas line right next to our lodgings, leaving us no access to ground level luggage loading! We slogged up fifteen stairs with two big suitcases and two carry-ons; down 47 outside steps. Whew! I was glad we only had to do that once. And so very thankful the gas leak didn’t cause a fire! (Still we grumbled.)

The conference was wonderful, well worth the trip and more. But the mishaps and boo-boos are, unfortunately, the things we’ll likely remember.

Especially the hail storm. On day 6, our rented car was caught in a horrific hail storm. No one was hurt and no glass was broken, but we spent hours on the cell phone with the rental company, our insurance company and credit card company, making arrangements for payment for the damage. Unforgettable.

Our flight home was scheduled for six a.m. We awoke at 3:00 to find a text saying our flight had been canceled. We went online and booked another flight for 10:00 that morning, but we received no confirmation. At 4:30 we locked the door to our rented apartment and drove off in the dark to turn in our dinged up car. At the Colorado Springs airport, we learned that the 10 a.m. flight was overbooked and we weren’t on it. The next available seats were for 6:30 that evening, more than 12 hours away.

We had no car and no apartment so, after weighing all our options, we decided the most practical thing was to hang out at the airport. We found lots of other disgruntled passengers to moan with, especially when our evening flight was delayed again and again. We finally boarded at 9:30!

It was a crazy trip, full of things gone wrong. So here I am, writing about gloom, despair, and agony!

At the conference, we saw hundreds of people miraculously healed. We learned invaluable lessons about how healing happens. Everyone there received new hope and confidence in God.

It is human nature to focus on the negative, even while miracles happen in the background. Goodness is always there, rather like the sunshine. When you get in an airplane and fly above the clouds, you find the sun is there, shining as always.

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Fear of Pain

I'm in pain!

Doesn’t take much to make a baby scream in pain!

It’s hard to write creatively, difficult to think, when one is in physical pain. One can only think of and deal with the pain. I have, of late, been to a place where I didn’t really care if I ever wrote again. But mostly I’ve been thinking about what to write next, with those thoughts continually interrupted by the necessity of dealing with pain. In frustration and impatience, I’ve decided to write about the very thing that seems to insist upon occupying my thoughts.

I decided to look on* for a definition:

“Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components…”

I believe I have experienced agony. I have most certainly discovered some “emotional components” over the past few weeks!

After surgery, as I had been forewarned by the nurse, I had to focus on surviving the first 48 hours. There was pain but it was secondary to the nausea. And there was fear: I had been cautioned about blood clots, stroke, reaction to meds, etc.

After 24 hours, I went home. I knew I’d be up and down all night and suggested I should sleep in the guest room. My husband would have none of that!

“I’d be running in there to check on you all night!” he protested. “I wouldn’t get any sleep at all.”

So we were both wrestling with the fear.

After my first week checkup, some fears were assuaged. The doctor said what I was experiencing was within the norm, perhaps exaggerated by my sensitivity to all the medicines. (Hospital nurses called me a “lightweight” when I couldn’t handle the prescribed dose of narcotics.)

At five weeks, I had a physical exam and found I had not ripped any stitches. That was a fear I’d been dealing with, having been told, “Don’t lift anything. Don’t use your abdominal muscles to get out of bed or off the sofa. You could tear out stitching.”

As to my level of physical pain, the doctor said, “You’re healing a little more slowly than our schedule but you’re a little older…” He’s told me that twice now. I hold back my sarcasm.

Many years ago, I worked alongside a midwife, learning the trade. I was able to assure first-time laboring mothers that they weren’t going to die, they were in expert hands and that women had been doing this successfully for thousands of years. My calm confidence helped relieve the emotional side of their pain–the fear. They could then better cope with the physical pain and get on with the business of birthing a baby.

I find it also helped to remind them how the cartilage holding their pelvic bones had softened and relaxed, allowing the baby to better fit his passage. When it feels like your body is being ripped apart, I think it helps to remember human anatomy was designed by a loving and wise Creator.

A little child who is stung by a bee will scream like he’s being killed. A teenager with his first charley horse will try to convince you he’s dying. A man passing a kidney stone is sure he knows what childbirth feels like. But with experience comes knowledge. And maybe less fear.

In an effort to describe a degree of pain, sometimes I now tell the care giver, “It hurts,” but then modify my statement to, “Well, it’s quite uncomfortable.”

What do you think? Does fear make the pain worse? Does understanding take away the fear and lessen the perception of pain?


The complete definition from Medicine Net:

“Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia. Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.

“Pain is also a term specifically used to denote a painful uterine contraction occurring in childbirth.

“The word ‘pain’ comes from the Latin ‘poena’ meaning a fine, a penalty.”

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Looking for Pollyanna

Most of the time, I am the epitome of optimism. I’ve been accused of being a “Pollyanna” a time or two. I find I’ve written about “hope” at least twenty times since starting this blog six years ago. Often I think I see the world “through rose colored glasses.”

But today I’m feeling mortal, fallible, vulnerable. I’m having surgery and maybe I’m just a little bit scared. Today I’m closer to a curmudgeon than a Pollyanna.

The problem is that I had too long to think about this. I got a diagnosis in early January, confirmation in early March and was scheduled to go under the knife right away. I decided to seek the opinion of another surgeon. He wasn’t in such a hurry.

So I Googled the proposed surgery and watched it on YouTube. That made me waffle every hour for a few days! I read medical websites and perused horror stories in chat rooms of people who’ve been through something similar.

I asked my friends. My doctor is going to do X, Y & Z. Oh, lots of them have had X and “it’s a piece of cake.” Several have had X and Y and “it’s not that bad, really.” Every last one of them said, “You’ll feel so much better!” Finally, last night, a friend told me her friend had X, Y & Z and “it was pretty rough.” Finally—an honest woman!

I’ve done all the last-minute housework I can think of. The laundry is all done. I’ve grocery shopped three times. The plants are over watered. The cat is in my husband’s capable hands. I have medicine and soup for recovery.

This morning I’m giving my sweet life partner last-minute instructions, should I not ever wake up. I’m getting weird and thinking I don’t have to sign the waivers; I could still back out.

At this last hour, I’m looking for my Pollyanna again. She is of the mind that Heaven is a better place, after all!

I do wonder what I’ll be writing about next time and how long before I’ll feel like sitting at a computer again.

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We are Hoarders, Pack Rats and Junk Collectors

I have too many shoes. That is, I have some shoes I can no longer wear and they are taking up space in my closet. When I have things that aren’t being useful, I like to dispose of them. I’ll put them on eBay and if they don’t sell like hotcakes, I’ll give them to charity. Someone needs to wear these shoes before they go out of style.

Other people seem to like to collect things that aren’t particularly useful. They say Imelda Marcos had over a thousand pairs of shoes. If a person wore a different pair each day, it would take almost three years to wear each pair once. I doubt she did that.

I know some people who have “collections” of certain things. One guy I know has, according to his own admission, 125 shirts. I know a fellow with (I’m guessing) about 40 hats. My sister collected frogs (figurines of ceramic, plastic, glass, etc.) for several years. She was forced to get rid of most of them when she downsized into a small apartment.

Collections can be fun as long as we have room to properly display them. Shirts can be worn if we rotate them and get good use from them.

What really concerns me is our tendency to keep “junk” because it might be useful again someday. Really? A computer monitor that died eight years ago? A plastic sour cream container? The unused bolt for attaching a bird feeder? Bits of cotton string? A broken tail light lens?

Or shoes that hurt one’s feet but they’re so pretty and we paid so much money for them we can’t bear to part with them?

Our inability to rid ourselves of “stuff” has led to the proliferation of several industries. Most obviously, there are the storage buildings, many of them now climate-controlled. Apparent, but not so obviously, are the houses with attached 2-car garages but with two cars parked in the driveway.

Colorful Totes

Pretty totes to store ugly junk

Then there are the containers for stuff. There is even a store for the containers now, even though every department store and hardware store and home improvement store sells storage totes. They are interlocking and stackable, so a person could conceivably stack them to the ceiling. They come in pretty colors so we can pretend they are decorative.

My mom collected Avon bottles, a hobby that started when she was an Avon dealer. She also collected junk for other people: newspapers and aluminum cans for recycling and egg cartons for country friends to reuse. Her house and back porch were small and kept her habit self-limiting. When she got older, had to move into an apartment, she got rid of all the junk.

As I get older, I am less apt to think I might make use of this stuff “someday” and more apt to think of it as cluttery junk taking up space and making life more cumbersome. (Besides I really hate rearranging things to dust.)

The sun is shining, birds are singing; I think it’s time for some Spring Cleaning!


There’s a pretty good article about the psychology of hoarding on the “Psychology Today” website:

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Living Low Fat

I just found out a gallstone is what has been causing all my digestive upsets of late. While we are testing and investigating and deciding if further action is warranted, I have been advised to stick to a diet that is low-fat.

When the doctor gave me that advice, my inner response was, “Well, duh!” I didn’t voice it, of course, reasoning that he couldn’t possibly know how many hours I’ve spent researching the subject.

Two weeks before his diagnosis and before the results of a CT scan, I had come to the same conclusion. With or without surgery to remove my malfunctioning gallbladder, I realized my diet may be forever restricted to some degree. My most alarming thought? “I may never be able to eat cheesecake again!”

Slice of yummy

Never eat cheesecake again? Oh, my!

Even while I’m researching and trying out all the old home cures, even taking heed of folks who say they can “eat anything” after gallbladder removal, and in the midst of prayer for complete restoration, I am fully aware I may be living low-fat for the rest of my days. I am missing gastronomic indulgences already.

Fat is now become my enemy. No cream in my coffee. Ice cream is but a dream. Cheese-laden Tex-Mex dishes are out of the question. Ciao, alfredo sauce! No Micky-D’s French fries ever. How about a tiny two-ounce filet mignon?

Since I can’t eat what I crave anymore, I’ve swung the pendulum and gone on a very restrictive “elimination diet” to try to determine what has caused sluggish bile flow that lead to stones in this tiny but powerful gall bladder of mine.

I won’t dwell on my new findings about digestion, since this is not a health blog. Instead, I have some advice for people who don’t have gallstones. Eat the cheesecake!

If you don’t have arthritis in your ankles, put on those ice skates and try. If you don’t have a bad heart, go zip lining. No pain in your feet? Take long hikes in the woods. If carpal tunnel is not a problem, learn to play the piano. If your brain still works and you’re so inclined, write poetry. If you plan to wear purple when you are old, do it now!

Disabilities don’t come with a heads up. There is no warning bell to tell you there are only 30 days left to do that thing you’ve always thought you should do. Accidents happen suddenly and old-age creeps in slowly. Either way, we don’t expect to someday realize we can’t do stuff.

We deprive ourselves of the joys of life for various reasons: we want to be slim; we can’t do it with the children; we don’t have enough time; we need to save money; it’s too risky. Whatever the rationale, we should not let it stand in the way of experiencing all this Short Life has to offer.

When I get over the gallstones and everything is working properly again, I’m going to eat the cheesecake.


“So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NKJV Holy Bible)

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The Happiness Factor

Traveling during Thanksgiving week, “people watching” at the airports and renewing family acquaintance, I was struck by the unhappiness and discontent around me. Oh, we had a great time, everyone was upbeat and full of smiles, but some faces in repose tell another story. I decided the world is full of discontent, anger, envy and bitter gall!

Some people would say the world is in worse shape than ever before but we forget about the World Wars 1 and 2: the bombings, food rations and concentration camps. What about the world-wide flood of early mankind? What about Mount Vesuvius? What about the depraved evil of the Roman Empire? The Inquisition? The Black Plague?

I would say a person’s own individual crises are what drives folks to depression, gloom and doom, suicide and mad attacks upon innocent bystanders. In October, 1929, people didn’t jump off buildings because the world was a mess. They despaired because their own personal finances had suddenly disappeared. The guy who went berserk in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a few weeks ago was angry with his ex-wife’s family, not the world.

So, lots of people lost their savings and their homes in the Great Depression. They buckled down, worked for pennies, scraped to get by, stood in soup lines. They kept up hope things would get better. It took a long time but eventually the economy recovered. Those who survived made a choice to struggle through and they were stronger because of it.

In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds*. Divorce is hard; it’s tragic and painful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, yet all those people generally get through it without killing anyone. They make a choice to fight back through the pain and they are wiser because of it.

Those examples are big things; they are huge! But I think we prepare for the big things by the way we handle the little things—bad traffic on the freeway, misbehaving kids, bad bosses, lost luggage.


We can choose to let something make us unhappy!

This week I’ve seen people frowning and growling because the shuttle bus was overcrowded and late. One guy got all upside down because his wife danced with someone besides him. Someone on Facebook unfriended an old friend over something embarrassing. A woman was crying in the ladies’ room because her husband bought something she thought was frivolous. She had $10k worth of jewelry on her hands.

It’s not that these things are easy. It’s a trial when we simply don’t get our way. Trials aren’t ever fun. We can choose to take it hard. But if we choose to be happy in spite of rough times, we can be downright ecstatic when things are going well. We might even bubble over with the giggles.

* Source of divorce stats:

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