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Showing posts from March, 2010

wotd: bedizen

bedizen \bih-DY-zuhn\, transitive verb:To dress or adorn in gaudy manner.I've never heeard this word before but I love it. It's a fancy bedazzle, as if bedazzle needs to be fancified. When I heard this word my first thought was Joe Biden. I tried to think of a quick limerick or collage, to do with Obama and Biden bedizened a la Elton John as Captain Fantastic or David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, but nothing came easily. In my current projects I bedizen simple wooden crosses with bright paint, decoupage bottle caps, and glass pebbles pasted over fanciful designs. I'm all over bedizen, even if Obama and Biden aren't.

wotd: popinjay

popinjay \POP-in-jay\, noun:1. A vain and talkative person.When I started teaching preschool I discovered a talent for reading aloud to children and a predilection toward performance, leading to a subsequent discovery of delight in reading aloud in church as Lector. I can only express my gratitude to God for these talents, for I believe they were given me by Him. At the same time, I'm graced with paranoid humility. Whenever I'm complimented on my reading, I smile and quietly say "thank you" lest I be perceived a popinjay. In conversation in general I keep my remarks brief and innocuous, unless I'm with people I know and trust. It seems incongruous to me that I'm unafraid to address an entire congregation but terrified to express an opinion.

wotd: neophyte

neophyte \NEE-uh-fyt\, noun:1. A new convert or proselyte.2. A novice; a beginner in anything.
I've been to plenty of craft fairs, but when it comes to being a craft fair vendor, I'm a neophyte. This weekend I'm sharing a space with my friend Susan, who makes jewelry, at the KXCI Festival en el Barrio Viejo. I'll be hawking bottle cap earrings and pendants, Capri Sun juice totes in several different styles and sizes, and bottle cap/glass pebble crosses. I'm excited and nervous. Wish me luck.

wotd: portentous

portentous \por-TEN-tus\, adjective:1. Foreboding; foreshadowing, especially foreshadowing ill; ominous.2. Marvelous; prodigious; wonderful; as, a beast of portentous size.3. Pompous.Well, crap. How can one word mean three completely different things? If you're supposed to interpret it in context, what if you make the wrong interpretation? I could talk about what a portentous day I'd had, and you might think some small thing went awry, foreshadowing something terrible that might happen later in the week. I'd have to give more details for you to make the correct interpretation, but still I might fail. I did an astonishing number of things today, including (but not limited to) making thrifty serendipity cards for selling bottle cap earrings; completing three bottle-cap-and-glass-pebble embellished crosses and starting two more; piecing together two Capri Sun bags; wrapping up a special thank-you project; walking with Cassie early this morning; teaching Sunday School; scribin…

wotd: sylvan

sylvan \SIL-vuhn\, adjective:1. Of or pertaining to woods or forest regions.2. Living or located in a wood or forest.3. Abounding in forests or trees; wooded.
noun:1. A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.2. One that lives in or frequents the woods or forest; a rustic.
Little of the desert experience is sylvan. In Arizona pretty much any grove of trees is a mesquite bosque, unless you're in a riparian area, then you've got your cottonwoods. But when we get good spring rains the desert is tranformed for a brief few weeks. Every shade of brown is cloaked with perceptible green. Shoots of green push up through the sand and pebbles underfoot, sometimes boasting tiny flowers of purple, yellow, or coral. Fairy duster brushes the air with its little red bristles. Last year's brittlebush growth crowns itself with fresh green. Soon the sacred datura will open its white flowers. A far cry from sylvan but for Tucson, spectacular.

wotd: lucre

lucre \LOO-kuhr\, noun:Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.
Filthy lucre jumps readily to mind. I don't know that I've ever heard the word lucre without the qualifier filthy. So I googled it. It's the name the reformed (!) Sex Pistols used for their 1996 tour; it's got 4 definitions on Urban Dictionary; it's the title of a book (subtitled Economics for People Who Hate Capitalism) available on Amazon; it's the name of a band featuring L.A. Guns vocalist Phil Lewis. And it's origins are from the Bible, Titus 1:11, American Standard Version:
whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
and 1 Timothy 3:3, King James Bible:
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Filthy lucre. I sure would love to have my financial woes easily remedied, but I won't teach what I ought not just for money, and I…

wotd: defenestrate

defenestrate \dee-FEN-uh-strayt\, transitive verb:To throw out of a window.

I don't know why I thought this word was synonymous with defoliate, but I did. Now to find that this big word means "chuck it out the window," why, that just tickles my funny bone.

I have a few stories involving defenestration, but I might need some help: something from my friend
gnightgirl involving her mother, an apple core, a garbage can, and a pimp.

And there was this one time when I was talking to my sister on the cell phone while I drove home (I know, I know) when the passenger in the car ahead of me defenestrated a whole pumpkin. That was something to see.

Here's something else to see.


wotd: exiguous

exiguous \ig-ZIG-yoo-us\, adjective:1. Extremely scanty; meager.

There's the obvious, of course, in "this current economic climate." I'll be so happy when that phrase falls out of standard usage. The market is on the upswing, I've learned. How long that takes to trickle down to commercial real estate brokerage I can't say. After a meeting with our financial advisor about The Plan, I'm comforted to realize that our income, though exiguous, doesn't drive our Financial Picture. All those years we saved in various forms---Roth IRA, nonqualified accounts, Coverdell IRA---can be turned to our advantage now to pull us up by our bootstraps. The Plan has been modified, subject to future tweaking after we dig ourselves out of this hole.

Beans and rice. It's what's for dinner.

wotd: cacophony

cacophony \kuh-KAH-fuh-nee\, noun:1. Harsh or discordant sound; dissonance. 2. The use of harsh or discordant sounds in literary composition.
When I was emerging through college into young adulthood and marriage, I couldn't bear more than one noise going on at a time. If I was talking on the phone I couldn't have the radio on; if the radio was on I couldn't have the TV on; if the TV was on I couldn't be talking on the phone; and around it goes. I don't know what switch flipped for me, but I can filter all those sounds now and concentrate on just one. I can listen to an audiobook in the same room with Dave watching FlashForward on hulu and Jack playing Super Mario Bros. on the Wii. Cassie starts barking, adding to the cacophony, and I listen blissfully as Lyra and Will cross the river into the land of the dead in The Amber Spyglass. Multiple discordant noise doesn't bother me anymore.

wotd: fatidic, brought to you by His Dark Materials

fatidic \fuh-TID-ik\, adjective:Of, relating to, or characterized by prophecy; prophetic.

Since the beginning of 2010 I've been immersed in this excellent performance of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. I've been able to relate nearly every wotd post to the stories. They are not pablum. They are, in fact, dynamic and didactic tales that entertain as well as educate. My favorite character, the hirsute armored bear Iorek Byrnison, pledges fealty first to the bears, then to the child Lyra Belacqua, whom he's given the name Silvertongue, then to the aeronaut Lee Scoresby, to whom Iorek pays the highest tribute after Lee's death by systematically masticating his body. Just like Iorek, I have come to love Lyra, the story's fatidic protagonist. She's a fine and fierce character.

a minute in the life: II

my submissions for the simultaneous photography project known as A Minute in the Life: II. My friend Lori encouraged the readers of her blog to participate. So I did.

I was at St. Vinnie's trying on my dollar clothing finds. I scored a red Caslon sweater, a turquoise Coldwater Creek ribbon yarn sweater, a pair of American Eagle khakis, a slinky black Michael Kors dress, and a pair of Christopher Blue jeans that fit perfectly.

Five bucks, baby. Five bucks.

word: garrulous

garrulous \GAIR-uh-lus; GAIR-yuh-\, adjective:1. Talking much, especially about commonplace or trivial things; talkative.2. Wordy.

Yeah. I'm married to that garrulous someone.

word: matutinal

matutinal \muh-TOOT-n-uhl\, adjective:1. Relating to or occurring in the morning; early.

It's an interesting word; latinate and clinical; it's opposite is vespertine. I take my walk in the morning. I don't say "my matutinal constitutional," though I rather like the alliteration.

wotd: cozen

cozen \KUZ-un\, transitive verb:
1. To cheat; to defraud; to deceive, usually by petty tricks.
2. To obtain by deceit.
intransitive verb:1. To act deceitfully.

Inexplicably, cozen is proving a difficult word for me to write about. Maybe it's because in my world there's no room for one to cozen another, or if I feel cozened I can usually find a way to rationalize it. At the end of the last school year, the one I'd spent co-leading with that Teacher from a Totally Different Philosophy, if I were an external locus of control person I may have felt cozened (though strong-armed would be more descriptive). At the end of that year, though, when I accepted a contract to return to my position as an assistant in the younger threes, the rector at my church (head of the preschool's governing board) and the preschool director both apologized, indicating they felt I'd been coerced into the position. I accepted those apologies, forgave myself for the rough time I made even rougher, a…

wotd: potable

potable \POH-tuh-buhl\, adjective:
1. Fit to drink; suitable for drinking; drinkable.
1. A potable liquid; a beverage, especially an alcoholic beverage.

These signs are all over in Tucson: in public parks, along landscaped medians, at golf courses. I suppose, if you'd been outside for a long enough time on a hot summer's day, you might consider drinking from the irrigation system, but if you live in Tucson you carry potable water with you pretty much everywhere you go. If you're a dog, though, you can't read, and you can't carry your own water, and if it's hot and your master has you on a long walk, you might just drink from the irrigation system, despite the written warning.

Cassie did just that one warm summer morning, halfway through our walk around Udall Park. A woman walking toward us saw Cassie drinking from a puddle that had formed around a sprinkler head. "That's reclaimed water," she was sure to tell me. At first I didn't understand …

wotd: hirsute

hirsute \HUR-soot; HIR-soot; hur-SOOT; hir-SOOT\, adjective1. Covered with hair; set with bristles; shaggy; hairy.
In my class I have a little girl so petite and cherubic that the other kids call her "baby." She's extremely capable, though, and fascinated with women and women's bodies. She's often asked me about my boobies and observed that my boobies aren't as big as her mommy's. Today I heard her talking about "when I'm grown up and have a baby in my tummy." It reminded me of when I was grown up and had a baby in my tummy. When Jack was born I was prepared for the fluids and the lopsided skull and the blotchy skin and hoping he wouldn't be vernixed, but I'd somehow convinced myself there'd be no lanugo. But when my baby was born he was incredibly hirsute, with downy hair covering his tiny rounded shoulders and back, and mutton chops as intense as Elvis Presley's. The lanugo was soon replaced by jaundice. I think I would have…

wotd: gravitas

gravitas \GRAV-uh-tahs\, noun:High seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject).

In Three Movements

In memory of Fred Fine


In the immortal mind
of this Worldchanger
bottom line was humanity,
Breadlines for subsistence
not enough without beauty
riveted into the beams
of our being
offered to all in reach of his
brilliant, encompassing, light
where would-be Worldchangers
were taught to slay
the golem of cyclical crisis.


Firebird soaring underground.
Entrenched scholar on frontlines.
Bronze-Star soldier, profound.
Mobilizer of each one of us.
Gardener of consciousness.
Scientific shaman. Maven.
Mentor to masses. Agitator.
Code Breaker. Mensch.
Frail enough to fly.


Freedom Fighter. Father.
Immense enough to leave
an imprint on our communal stone.
Today the theory of chaos is true.
The flutter of a butterfly’s wing
can equal the force of a hurricane.

© 2005, Michael Warr


La Reina herself, the Crafty Chica of Glitter fame, included me and my shrine in her flicker photostream, seen here.And she commented on my last post. I'm positively giddy!

wotd: fulminate

fulminate \FUL-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb:
1. To issue or utter verbal attacks or censures authoritatively or menacingly.
2. To explode; to detonate.
transitive verb:
1. To utter or send out with denunciations or censures.
2. To cause to explode.

Explosions often crack me up, as does the phrase, "Fire in the hole!" Occasionally Mandy and I will reminisce about the time our cousin Jay first fulminated a french fry with a snap bomb, then tantrummed when a red pepper didn't explode in the same satisfying fashion. And once, when we were expecting Mandy for dinner, I mistook the sound of an unpricked potato exploding in the oven for her rear-ending my parked car in the driveway. Honestly, I have better faith than that in her driving ability. And I didn't really believe a potato would explode in the oven if you don't pierce the skin with a fork, but it will.

wotd: erudite, brought to you by The Tucson Festival of Books

erudite \AIR-yuh-dyt; -uh-dyt\, adjective:
Characterized by extensive reading or knowledge; learned.Tucson Festival of BooksHow I wish this event could span more than two days, and that I had all the time I needed to see everything I wished to see. A hearty thank-you to the developers and organizers of this well-run celebration of literacy. I spent the whole day there and felt electrified with positive energy the entire time.

A youthful Mariachi parade opened the festival, escorting Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat convinced he's a chihuahua.

After marching with them to the UA Mall Tent, I settled in to listen to Lenore Skenazy, the world's worst mom, syndicated New York Daily News and NY Sun columnist, author of Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had without Going Nuts with Worry, and owner/operator of the blog by the same name. She developed this free-range philosophy after dealing with the aftereffects of allowing her then 9-yr-old son to ride the NY subway …

wotd: solecism

solecism \SOL-uh-siz-uhm\, noun:
A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction; also, a minor blunder in speech.
A breach of good manners or etiquette.
Any inconsistency, mistake, or impropriety.I called in the boys for dinner. Jack bounced in, all Jack-peppy and tall, to wash his hands at the sink. "What are we having?"

"Cheese ravioli with meatballs," I told him.

"Oh! Chef Boyar Deen?" As if Chef Boyar Deen was Paula Deen's great grandfather.

"No. Rosetto's."

He ate it up anyway.

wotd: salient

salient \SAY-lee-unt; SAYL-yunt\, adjective:
1. Shooting out or up; projecting.
2. Forcing itself on the attention; prominent; conspicuous; noticeable.
3. Leaping; springing; jumping.
1. An outwardly projecting part of a fortification, trench system, or line of defense.
2. A projecting angle or part.
"It's people... Salient Green is made out of people!" Oh... wait...

wotd: phantasmagoria

phantasmagoria\fan-taz-muh-GOR-ee-uh\, noun;
1.A shifting series or succession of things seen or imagined, as in a dream.
2.Any constantly changing scene.Because of this damned recession I haven't made any major purchases for months, and I've spent little on entertainment that didn't somehow serve a double purpose, like eating out (you always gotta feed your body!). I just bought tickets for Video Games Live. Of course Jack doesn't want to go but I fully expect a phantasmagoria of heart-pounding game scenes, breath-stealing music, and eyepopping laser lights. I can't wait.

wotd: sachet

sachet \sa-SHEY\, noun:
1. A small bag, case, or pad containing perfuming powder or the like, placed among handkerchiefs, etc., to impart a pleasant scent.
2. Also, sachet powder, the powder contained in such a case.
Last Saturday I took the Federal Census Bureau Test for Field Employee Positions. The test was scheduled to be given at Foothills Lutheran Church, near my home. When I phoned for details I was instructed to bring my drivers' liscense and social security card, as I would be filling out an application for Federal employment and the representative there would be authorizing my identification.

Early Saturday afternoon I began the search for my social security card. I thought I'd find it in one of two places, but when neither location held it I started feeling nervous. So I started opening boxes of memorabilia and flipping through files I haven't opened in years. After two hours of fruitless searching I left for the test armed with my license and birth certificate beca…

wotd: languor

languor \LANG-guhr; LANG-uhr\, noun:
1. Mental or physical weariness or fatigue.
2. Listless indolence, especially the indolence of one who is satiated by a life of luxury or pleasure.
3. A heaviness or oppressive stillness of the air.
My sister Mandy makes fun of my daily checklist. Today's checklist goes:
bunsBibleblogwalkportfolio7:00 pm Town Hall: Ed & Tinylegs
Tomorrow's checklist goes:
armsBibleblogwalkchapelportfolio deadlineJack Choir 6:45Ring Sonoran bells 6:30-8:30abs
Translated, that means I started the day with the 8 min buns workout, then perused today's Bible reading with attendant reflection from Forward Day by Day. Then I took the dog for a walk. Since I've got the hare-brained notion to write these daily blog entries I've been marking them on my to-do list early in the day, but discover that they're better suited for end-of-the-day (next week, I'll move them). In the afternoon I dedicated an hour or two to working on our classroom's NAEYC p…

wotd: inveterate

inveterate \in-VET-uhr-it\, adjective;
1. Firmly established by long persistence; deep-rooted; of long standing.
2. Fixed in habit by long persistence; confirmed; habitual.

It's these days of Lent that prompted me to attempt a daily blog entry based on dictionary(dot)com's Word of the Day. Lent is a time of examination, repentance, and renewal. I'd found myself devoting a significant amount of time to fruitless endeavors, such as breeding fish in the fb app My Aquarium, and serving dishes on My Cafe. Somehow I always managed to find time to waste, but never time to use wisely. So for Lent I gave up my fb apps and decided to dedicate time to something I always mean to do but never get around to: writing. Writing is an exercise in self-examination, sometimes of repentance, oftentimes of renewal.

At the same time, I find myself serving on the discernment committee at my church. Our rector of 17 years retired last September. The search for a new rector involves two committees: dis…

wotd: didactic

didactic \dy-DAK-tik; duh-\, adjective;
1.Fitted or intended to teach; conveying instruction; instructive; teaching some moral lesson; as, "didactic essays."
2.Inclined to teach or moralize excessively; moralistic.

Anthony (never Tony) had one didactic dad. William (never Bill) could kill any fun with a lecture. "Lookit my bubble, Daddy!" Anthony would exclaim, and William would say, "You know Anthony, bubbles are shaped by an equilibrium between their outward air pressure and the inward surface tension of the soap film." Anthony would say, "Please push me on the swing, Daddy," and William would, all the while yammering, "At an earlier time, swinging was understood as a parametric oscillator, but when scrutinized more closely, the action required to pump a swing is really a driven oscillator, most notable when the swinger is at the lowest point of the arc of the swing. Action occurs at the lowest point in paramatric oscillation, but as I'm…

wotd: temporize

temporize \TEM-puh-ryz\, intransitive verb:
1. To be indecisive or evasive in order to gain time or delay action.
2. To comply with the time or occasion; to yield to prevailing opinion or circumstances.
3. To engage in discussions or negotiations so as to gain time (usually followed by 'with').
4. To come to terms (usually followed by 'with').

It's easy to tell yourself that you'll write a daily blog entry using the word of the day from dictionary(dot)com as a prompt, and equally easy to temporize your daily entry by waffling over what to write about, or evading your obligation by procrastination. There. Bedtime.

wotd: pablum

pablum \PAB-luhm\, noun;
1.Something (as writing or speech) that is trite, insipid, or simplistic.
2.(capitalized) A trademark used for a bland soft cereal for infants.

He's five years old, this boy on the playground, walking stiff-legged behind my back with his arms raised before him, vaguely chasing another child. "I am a robot," he says in a mechanical voice. "These are my pink bombs. I will kill you."

I whirled from my supervision of the monkey bars and aimed the laser beam of my full attention on that kid. "You may not talk like that at school," I said. In that same stiff-legged gait he clomped past me, a dreamy smile on his face. "I am a robot. These are my pink bombs. I will kill you."

This is a boy you don't spoonfeed pablum. This boy eats forkfuls of shredded steel for breakfast, then eats the fork. He's beyond my abilities and somehow untouchable. And my heart aches for him.