10 January 2018

Today’s Wednesday Word is snoozer.

snooze, as you probably already know, is any light, short nap generally taken during the daytime.  Likewise, a snoozer is any person who has the luxury of taking and/or the wherewithal to claim a period of daylight repose.  And while today’s word is about napping and nappers, I grew up with a slightly different variant of the word.

snoozer is what my maternal grandmother, Marie, called the mid-afternoon nap.  It was never just a plain “nap.”   She didn’t doze, she didn’t catnap, she TOOK a snoozer.  

My grandmother’s snoozers mostly occurred in the afternoon after the daily installment of the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, because the Good Lord knows we had to keep up with that red-headed firebrand Sally Spectra.  And mostly they took place in her recliner, the one on the right, although on occasion she retreated to her bedroom.

I don’t know if she ever went a day without one, and if she did I can assure you it was not by choice.  She was dedicated in that way.  Perhaps it was a holdover from her younger days spent in the fields of South Alabama when one needed a bit of rest from the early mornings and hard labor before the afternoon and evening chores began.  Maybe, it was because lunch (which she called dinner) was usually the largest meal of her day, and being “full as a tick” she needed a bit of time to recover from the heaviness and lethargy of a carb-packed meal.  Possibly, she just liked to rest and felt invigorated by it.

Of course, like most children, I hated snoozing and snoozers (the thing not the person), and generally required much shushing, a bit of bribery and a fair amount of holding onto.  Nowadays, I relish the idea of an afternoon snoozer, that beautiful mirage of rest and refreshment to the world-wearied mind, but alas, the chance of that happening is slim.  And even on the rare occasion when it does happen, I find myself wishing I hadn’t indulged, because apparently I’m not a snoozer (the person not the thing), feeling groggy and disconnected for the rest of the day.  (There is a word for this:  sleep inertia.)

Today, however, I actually took a snoozer.  Not on purpose, but because I nodded off while sitting idly.  Not long, just thirty minutes or so, but long enough to make me wish I could go crawl in bed instead of tend to the children and to get a crick in my neck.  Yet, it made me think of my grandmother and snoozers and also a good cup of coffee, because the Good Lord knows I’m going to need it to get through the next few hours.






3 January 2018

Today’s Wednesday Word is humbug.

In the days before Christmas, I chose to read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for Bedtime Story Time.  And just so you know, in case you haven’t read the book and were wondering, Ebenezer Scrooge really does exclaim “Bah! Humbug!”  among the pages.  Actually, he says it several times.

But what exactly is humbug?  According to Merriam-Webster, it is “something designed to deceive or mislead;”

Example:  Botox.  (Mine, not Merriam-Webster’s)

“a willfully false, deceptive, or insincere person.”

Example:  Anyone who claims they’ve aged naturally, but secretly receives Botox injections.  (Again, my example.)

So, in context, when Scrooge is wished a Merry Christmas by his light-hearted nephew, his reply is humbug, meaning a) the holiday itself is a fraud, b) the idea of  having a MERRY Christmas is a deception, c) the nephew is being disingenuous, or d) all three.

I really don’t have to wonder what Scrooge would think of our modern take on Christmas, he really would exclaim Humbug!

Now you know.

By the way, I really don’t have anything against Botox or its users, but a seventy-year old without wrinkles just isn’t natural and we all know it!

6 September 2017

Today’s Wednesday Word is Irma.  Irma is a name that has its origins in Old German, but whether it means “universal” or refers to an ancient Saxon warrior-deity is beyond my realm of knowledge or concern.  What I do know, is that the World Meteorological Organization has been compiling and maintaining lists of Atlantic storm names since the 1950s and Irma was ninth on this year’s list.

On 30 August,  somewhere near the Cape Verde Islands, a spawning ground for baby swirlers, a daughter of Typhoeus issued forth and quickly grew into a monster of proportions  worthy of her mythological daddy. Gaining the moniker Irma, she raged and roiled her way toward North America, becoming a category 5 storm along the way, with winds reaching 185 miles per hour.  Currently, this dervish is within fifty miles of Puerto Rico, her eyes now set on mainland United States.  She’s bad, as bad as they come.  All we can do now is wait and watch and prepare.

When I was young, only 3 years old, I experienced my first big hurricane.  It was named Frederic, another good German-derived name!  My maternal grandparents along with my elderly namesake had gathered at our newly-built brick home to ride out the fury…a newly-built brick home right smack in the middle of a stand of very large pine trees.  Of course, in their defense, pretty much every house in our county was similarly situated among the pines, theirs just happened to be further up in the woods than ours did.

I remember the darkness (Frederic struck at night) and the winds whipping the trees in impossible arcs. I remember that we didn’t have electricity, and that my parents had lit several oil lamps to pierce the gloom.  I remember that the large windows in our living room were covered in frogs, suction-cupped to the glass their backsides blocking the view, and my mother yelling at my grandfather when she discovered that he had left the “safe zone”  in the hallway and found a cozy sofa to sleep on, directly in front of  that wall of living room frog-bellied windows.  I remember the deep quiet when the storm had passed, when nothing moved, not even the air.

And I remember the excitement.  Hurricanes are exciting when one is three.  They are not so much as you grow older, although there is something still eerily exhilarating about preparing for and then waiting on a storm’s arrival; hoping that the electricity doesn’t fail until at least the second pot of coffee has been brewed and praying that the tree right outside the window doesn’t decide to give up its ghost and come crashing through the house.

I’ve experienced many hurricanes throughout my life in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana since Frederic, some meek and mild by the time they reached my neck of the woods, others full of wrath and vengeance.  Which one, Irma will be once she reaches the southlands still remains to be seen, but from all accounts she is projected to be a terror.  So I wish anyone in its path good luck.  Prepare as best you can and find a safe place to hunker down, preferably not in front of a wall of windows.  And if they tell you to evacuate, don’t think twice, leave.

Godspeed…I’ll see you in the quiet on the other side of the storm.




30 August 2017



Today’s word is potager.

Potager is a French word, a lovely word, that references a utilitarian piece of backyard earth that we know as the kitchen garden.  Yet, a potager is not merely a plot of ground with vegetables, fruits and herbs.  It is a focal point, artful and beautiful.

Design matters in a potager.  Plants aren’t merely planted and watered, but cultivated and trained.  Espalier trees, vines on trellis, fruits and vegetables interspersed with showy ornamentals.  Beds laid out in symmetry.  Precise pathways.  Every planting thoughtfully considered and selected based on how its color, form, and height complements the bed.  It is a garden of intention.

When we purchased our house with the large, sparse backyard, I envisioned a kitchen garden.  Not the garden of my husband, mind you, with seeds plopped in the ground nothing considered beyond the care of the plants and the crop produced, but an ordered garden like those we saw in Europe.  A potager.  A place of respite, where as much joy is derived from surveying the scene, sitting quietly among the produce, as in consuming its bounty.

So we got to work, sketched our plans, selected the materials for the beds, green spaces and pathways, and oversaw the construction, which was completed on Monday.


While it doesn’t look like much now,  just some beds, paths and mulch, I hope to make a good deal of progress over the late fall and winter, when the time is right for planting fruit trees and berry bushes in the natural border.  By next spring I hope to have this garden well on it way to becoming a true potager, but for now I am simply happy to have the project started, and to have a wee garden in the grass.

If you have your own backyard garden project, or potager, I would love for you to share.

Happy gardening!

3 August 2017



Abbot Handerson Thayer’s Copperhead Snake Among Dead Leaves, contained in the study folder for his 1909 book entitled Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, now part of the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Today’s word is copperheadism.  Up until last week, I honestly had never even heard of the word.  I came across it while transcribing the August 2, 1917 edition of the Washington County News, in a single paragraph news-brief which read:

“Senator James grew very sarcastic in the senate when the navy and war departments were criticized by Senator Penrose for inefficiency. The senator said there was too much “copperheadism and sniping” in the senate.”

Now I know snakes.  I grew up in the woods.  I know how you can be standing on top of one and not even realize he is there.  I’ve seen it happen.  So when I read this I  figured that copperheadism must be akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing–someone using a disguise to conceal their true intent.

This was a word after my own heart.  I needed it in my repertoire, so unlike my children, who are more than happy to take my word for something, or anyone’s for that matter,  rather than have to look it up, I clickety-clacked my way on over to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary to find out for sure what it meant.  This was what it said:

“Sympathy to the Confederate Cause in the War; disloyalty to the Union.”

And the Encylcopedia Britannica stated:

“Copperhead, also called Peace Democrat, during the American Civil War, pejoratively, any citizen in the North who opposed the war policy and advocated restoration of the Union through a negotiated settlement with the South. The word Copperhead was first so used by the New York Tribune on July 20, 1861, in reference to the snake that sneaks and strikes without warning.”

OK.  SURE.  Just like there were “Yankee sympathizers” living in the South, there must have been “Confederate sympathizers” living in the North.  Obvious, as in “if it had been a snake it would’ve bitten me” obvious.  Rational, but rationality was not my first reaction.  This was:

WHAT?!  There were Northern citizens that opposed the War?  I took Civil War History.  I watched Ken Burn’s  PBS documentary Civil War all the way through at least ten times.  I’ve read books, and articles, and even seen movies about Unionists in the South and counties seceding from the secession, and states splitting into two over the War, but not this.  Did I miss it?!?  I admit that it has been a few years since I last viewed the documentary and/or took my final exam in Civil War history, and I admit my middle-age mind, isn’t what it used to be, which was scattered at best; but if I ever knew about a political “Yankee” (and I say this with endearment)  faction to end the war, then I must have thoroughly repressed it.  THOROUGHLY.

If you are like me and have seemingly never heard about, read about, or watched a movie about Copperheads, I encourage you to read the full entry at Britannica.com.