Thursday, 28 January 2016

#WordWednesday...continued on Thursday :-)

Thanks for playing on Facebook, people!

Here's my complete, geeky, dictionary-lovin' list of H-? rhymes:
heebie-jeebies, hokey-pokey, hanky-panky, harum-scarum, hoity-toity, helter-skelter, hocus-pocus, hurdy-gurdy, holus-bolus, hugger-mugger, hubble-bubble, humpty-dumpty, hum-drum, hub-bub, hurry-scurry, hotch-potch, higgledy-piggledy, hubba-hubba

PLUS some of the great ones suggested by you:
holy-moly, hari-kari, hippy-dippy, holly-jolly, hubba-bubba and so on.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


Here are 5 out of of 19 H-? rhymes:
heebie-jeebies, hokey-pokey, hanky-panky, harum-scarum, hoity-toity. Do you know 14 more? They have to be in a dictionary. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Today's post is a tribute to my mother. She deserves it because, in addition to baking great cookies and driving us to school on rainy days, she taught my brothers and me to speak correctly. (And, yes, it is “my brothers and me,” not “my brothers and I.”) Of course, every time she corrected our grammar, we felt like we’d die of boredom. She was so predictable. My eyes rolled heavenward so often, it’s a wonder I can see at all. 

However, I did learn to be aware of language and began to play with words. In Grade 7, my friend, Jack, and I would look for cool words in the dictionary during English class – mostly dirty words and swear words. But as we giggled and blushed, we also discovered other weird and wonderful words in there. Besides, if the teacher came to check on us, we could smile angelically and truthfully say that we were just looking something up. I don’t suppose we fooled her, but we had fun and probably learned more than we cared to admit. 

Today I have no trouble confessing how much I enjoy words – their origins, the way they sound, the way some of them feel in my mouth and throat. I love the pleasure of finding the precise word and rhythm, of creating or re-shaping them to fit my need. Another pleasure is discovering and musing about the history of a word or expression.

I should make it clear that I am not a professional lexicologist; that is, I don,t have formal training in “the form, history and meaning of words.” (Oxford English Reference Dictionary) However, I am an amateur one – a wordster, as it were. I made up that word to mean “a woman who is occupied or engaged with words.” If I were a man, I might call myself a “worder,” because up until about the 10th century, adding the suffix –ster to the end of a word changed it from the masculine form to the feminine. So a male weaver was called a webber, while his wife was a webster. A male baker’s sister was called a bakster. Eventually, many of these gender distinctions disappeared in English.

What doesn’t disappear from the English, or any language, is change. Words come and go, expressions are modified to serve a particular purpose at a particular time. A perfect case in point is “my” word, “wordster.” I genuinely thought I’d made it up, but I googled it (another new word) just to be sure, and there it was, though I no longer hope it applies to me! According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, a wordster is one who is "adept in the use of words, especially in an empty and bombastic manner." Hmmmm....

So very little is certain in the language game – which just makes it all the more interesting and, in my opinion, a walloping “wordventure.”

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Soup is so great in January. Did you know that soup was "fast food" in Greece in 600 B.C.? The Germanic origin of the word: bread soaked in broth was called "sop." So, now we sop up gravy & eat soup. Yummmmm.....

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


drunkle - your aunt's husband who drinks too much & too often. Coined by a young man who shall remain nameless.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Think You Don't Have a Creative Bone in Your Body?

In many writing courses and workshops I teach, I give my students creative writing exercises to get them going. Over the years I've heard several variations of the statement, "I don't have a creative bone in my body."
  • I'm not creative.
  • I don't know what to write.
  • My writing is always boring.
  • I don't have any good ideas.
  • I'm no good at this.
  • I can't tell a good story.
Here are some of my responses to those statements:
  • Hogwash.
  • Yes, you do, even if you don't recognize your ideas as worthwhile.
  • I doubt it.
  • That's old thinking.
  • Everybody's creative, even if they don't know it.
  • ...etc., etc. You get the idea.
What might it mean when people say they're not creative? It might mean any number of things. Maybe they were laughed at for some creative effort(s) in the past. Maybe they don't like a particular type of creative activity and don't recognize that not liking something isn't the same as being unable to do it. Perhaps they believe that if they don't excel at an activity, they shouldn't do it at all.

Maybe this sounds like you. Do you think you can't write a story or paint or act or whittle or sing? Do you believe you don't have a creative bone in your body?

Well, consider these ideas:
  • Are you a person who comes up with great party ideas?
  • Do you come out with funny one-liners or puns, or do you tell jokes really well?
  • Can you come up with options or solutions for nagging problems?
  • Do you hum or sing while doing some other activity?
  • Are you good at keeping the beat with songs on the radio?
  • Was there an activity you loved when you were a child?
  • Do you cook well or do carpentry?
  • Do you enjoy a hobby?
  • Can you tell stories to children that they enjoy?
  • Do your neighbours compliment you on your garden or yard?
  • Are you able to find the best arrangement of time or objects in order to get a job done well?
  • Do you find yourself wondering how the writer came up with the idea for a movie or book you like?
  • Is there one time of day when you seem to get a lot of good ideas?
  • Do you like arranging food, flowers, furniture, artwork, or table settings in pleasing ways?
  • Can you fix just about anything that needs fixing?
  • Are you good at solving puzzles?
  • Can you find the best/shortest/most scenic route to a destination?
This is a very short list of examples of creative expression. Maybe this list has given you other ideas about what you do well but never considered as meaning much. That's often the case with people who believe they're not creative.

Keep in mind that being creative simply means "having the power or ability to create...and is...characterized by originality of thought and execution." (Funk & Wagnalls' Canadian College Dictionary). Every single person can create something or come up with an original idea. Really. Creativity is not a special gift doled out only to a select few. It is a natural part of being human.

You are creative, even if you're haven't been given a Nobel Prize for Something or aren't published or famous. You are creative because you're alive and it's in your nature to create.

I encourage you to take a look at your attitudes about your own creative ability or that of someone else you've said isn't creative. What words and feelings go along with that limiting belief?  How can you change your words and thoughts and feelings to allow for a new concept? Do you expect phenomenal results, or can you see that creativity is a process to be enjoyed?

If you like, try the following:

Every day for two weeks, write or say to yourself,
I am creative. I like to __________ (fill in the blank), and this is a creative activity.

It's very possible that your ideas about creativity will shift. Then go ahead, do your creative activity some more. Allow yourself to enjoy it simply because you enjoy it. It doesn't have to measure up to anybody else's idea of "good." If you want to, expand on it, share it. Learn something new.

Creativity is fun and satisfying. I hope you allow yours to blossom.