Monthly Archives: March 2014

More than irritated

Apparently the folks at the Associated Press (AP) lost more than their money at the Las Vegas craps tables. They lost their minds too. From Pointer.org: “AP Stylebook editors said at a session Thursday that ‘over’ is fine when referring to a quantity; you don’t have to change it to ‘more than.’” (This blasphemy took place at the American Copy Editors Society conference in Las Vegas.)

Well, isn’t that great. The AP editors have given us permission to use the wrong word. “Over” is a preposition, much like “above” and “around.” The cow jumped over the moon. “More than” refers to quantities. Five is more than four. The cow is not more than the moon any more than five is over four. Unless of course, you’re looking a picture where a number “5” is actually over a number “4.”

Those of us who firmly believe in these rules are twitching today. I’m convinced this is just the first step toward a complete breakdown of human civilization.

On the plus side, I’m sure McDonald’s is happy to learn their “Over 1 million served” motto is no longer incorrect.

Love

Because today is my son’s and daughter-in-law’s fourth wedding anniversary, I am prompted to write about love. That makes me exactly like 99 percent of all writers in the history of the world. Maybe even 100 percent. After all, everyone knows about love.

Some people know love as a concept; some as a reality. Some believe love is fleeting; others think it lasts a lifetime. Whether it’s for today or forever, we need love in our lives. Love helps us feel like a part of something. Abraham Maslow put love third, after physical needs and safety needs, in his 1943 hierarchy of needs theory. We absolutely need air and water to survive. Consistent access to the same would help us feel safe. So if we have food and a place to sleep, we move on to love? Or do we just need love less than we need food and a place to sleep? That doesn’t sound like much of a life.

Sitting here – right now – in my home office, I am surrounded by things I need, want and love. I have nice, warmed air to breathe. Clean clothes. Windows to keep the insid450px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svge “in” and the outside “out.” And I can see two of my kitties from where I am sitting. I know I don’t need cats to survive or to feel safe, but they do make me feel loved.

Even though Maslow put physical and safety needs at the bottom – as a foundation – the gist of the pyramid is that we need all of these things to feel whole. I have a difficult time parsing out love versus respect versus morality but that’s the way I’m built. The elements are certainly part of my whole being.

Being a mother to my son is also part of my whole being. I frequently refer to him as the best thing I’ve ever done. My world is better because of him. And our worlds are better because of his wife. I hope love rains down upon them every day, and I wish them thousands of days to share it.

Words

I have heard that a person’s propensity for words versus numbers begins in the brain. “Right-brained” people are creative. “Left-brained” people are analytical. Turns out that’s not so much true. (See “An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” http://tinyurl.com/l3pgbbh) The two sides of the brain work together. In my case, they work together with words – and not so much with numbers.

I can calculate a tip and convert fractions to percentages pretty easily, but it’s words that flow freely through my brain. I don’t struggle with “there,” “their” and “they’re.” I know when to use “your” versus “you’re.” “Its” and “it’s” don’t trip me up. Don’t even get me started on grammar! We could be here all day.

Not every word comes naturally to me. I hated the transition from 1999 to 2000 because I kept having to spell “millennium.” (Still can’t do it. I just looked it up.) I love Mediterranean food, but I can’t spell it. Even easy words, like “separate” and “capitol,” give me pause. After all, spell check doesn’t catch everything.

I have a few tricks that I use regularly. I remind myself there’s “a rat” in “separate.” The words “letter paper” contain more “e”s than “a”s, so I remember “stationery” – with an “e” – is letter paper. “Affect” is usually a verb, causing me to remember “effect” is a noun. (Get it… “cause and effect.”)

Because I know certain words are bound to come out of my fingers all jumbled up, I add them to AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word. I tend to add an extra “m” on the end of “supreme,” so I added that to AutoCorrect. When I was studying for my master’s of applied politics and writing about Democrats and Republicans, I added those words to AutoCorrect.

Not everyone is a word nerd like me. If you know you struggle with certain words or grammar issues, make a point to check them when you’ve finished writing. Again, Microsoft Word has a great search and replace option. I use it all the time when I’m editing copy for clients.

Spring

Spring is here. How do I know? Seeds and seed potatoes arrived yesterday! Woohoo! It’s time to play in the dirt.

What am I planting this year? Corn, beans, carrots, onions, lettuces, spinach, potatoes, poblano peppers and lots of flowers. Since spring doesn’t officially arrive until Thursday, I’ve still got time to prep my dirt. I prepped my lettuce bed last week, and now seeds are in the dirt!

IMG_0848I like to turn over the top 4 or 5 inches, add some peat moss and turn it again. I’ll use my garden claw or rake to break up the big clumps and my hand rake to smooth it out. I like to do a mini earthworm inventory during this process. Happy worms mean happy dirt, so I’m always pretty excited to see lots of worms.

As I’m planting seeds, I envision how everything will look in a couple of months. I’ll use sticks and string to mark where I’ve planted seeds because I won’t be able to plant herbs and tomatoes for at least another month.

By July fourth, I’ll have mature potatoes and beans. My corn will be at least knee-high, and I’ll be harvesting salads for meals.

Oh, the anticipation… Celebrate Spring!

Thirty

I started this blog a few days ago. My first goal is to write 30 posts in 30 days. I need to stretch out my writing muscles. I’m afraid they’ve gotten weak and spongy. It’s ambitious, so some of my posts may be a little lame. Like this one. My eye remains on the prize: 30 posts in 30 days.

Choices

It takes me way too long to buy salad dressing. I know what I want. I even know which aisle it’s on. But once I get there, it takes what feels like eons to find the bottle I’m looking for. What is this mysterious salad dressing? Kraft Zesty Italian®.

But which one? Kraft Free Zesty Italian fat free dressing? Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing Fat Free? Kraft Zesty Italian dressing & marinade? Kraft Light Zesty Italian with Extra Virgin Olive Oil reduced fat dressing? (Capitalization taken from actual product labels.) There’s one version of the bottle that says it’s “anything dressing.” So if the bottle doesn’t say that, it’s only for salad? And just before my head pops off, I notice there are multiple sizes and “SALE” tags hanging from some of the shelves.

I want one regular-sized bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian. Why in the world should it take this long to find one thing? Anyone who has been in a grocery, discount or drug store in the past two decades has seen the expansion of many product categories. (Have you bought Oreos lately?) I’m looking for industry data on the number of salad dressings available in grocery stores today versus 10 or 20 years ago because I can’t be the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. Apparently I am the only person outside of the grocery industry who wants this information.

I need fewer choices. I propose adding the word “classic” to the original variety of each product. (I remember that was Coca Cola’s solution for one of the all-time worst marketing decisions ever made.) I imagine how quickly I could fill my shopping cart with classic Charmin, Oreos, Aqua Fresh, Tylenol, Dr Pepper, Log Cabin and Cheerios. How would I fill all that extra time? Planting my garden.

I just have to decide which tomatoes I’m going to grow this year.

Colors

I don’t know how anyone can pick a favorite color. Just one, anyway. I love white clouds in a blue sky. I love orange kitties, black kitties and gray kitties. I love the yellow sunflowers, green leaves and purple liatris in my garden. I love brown cows. And I love red ornaments on my Christmas tree.

So I guess my favorite color is situational. I’ll take a bunch of yellow and purple mums over a dozen red roses any day, but it’s not because I don’t like red. I just love yellow and purple mums. So, there it is.

My favorite color:

Family

My first blog post has nothing to do with pizza or politics. It has to do with the people I love. The people I call family. Some of them are relatives. Others are friends. And then there are the children of relatives and of friends. The ones who call me “Aunt Stacy.”

I grew up in Memphis – the South (with a capital “s”). Everyone is someone’s aunt in the South. The honorary name becomes so much a part of the person, everyone calls them by that name. My sister and sister-in-law will frequently refer to me as “Aunt Stacy” when I’m in Memphis. As do my nieces, great-nieces, great-nephews and my sister-in-law’s cousin’s adopted son. My mother may be the only one who never calls me Aunt Stacy.

The other people I call family are dear friends, their children and their parents. I’m going to see one of my “sisters” tomorrow and watch my “niece’s” dance competition. I’m going to see my “nephew,” his dad and his stepmom. I’m going to see some other dear friends, who will undoubtedly refer to me as Aunt Stacy to their toddler/daughter. And I will love it.

It can be convoluted to explain to a new acquaintance why the kids call me Aunt Stacy when I’m not actually related. I told someone last summer – when I was dropping my nephew, Holden, off at zoo camp – that we’re not blood relatives. We’re love relatives. ‘Cause that’s the truth. Families are made all kinds of ways, and everyone who embraces that fact is better for it.

And I LOVE being Aunt Stacy.