Thursday, March 22, 2012


Instead of being frustrated when I come upon a word I don’t know, I’m pleased. Aha! A new one. When I find a new one, I either jot it onto a sticky note and put it where, in theory, I will not lose it; or, if I’m reading a book, I use a 3x5 card as a bookmark so that I can note any unfamiliar word and the page number. (If I’m reading a novel by Elizabeth George, I may need more than one card.)

Recently I came across these three:

nosology: n. the branch of medicine that deals with classification of disease

adytum: n. a sacred place (also a Death Metal band)

orrery: n. a mechanical device that shows the relative positions of the planets and moons around the sun; a 3D model of how celestial bodies orbit the sun. There's an enormous orrery in the climactic scenes of "Lara Croft Tomb Raider," a 2001 movie starring Angelina Jolie and featuring Daniel Craig as Alex West. (Craig was relatively unknown at the time and wasn't listed in the movie trailer.)

As I was writing this post, the word-checking program on my computer underlined two of the three words. Apparently the word-checking program is unfamiliar with them, too.

(About the photo: The orrery shown was completed in August 2005. For more information, see The 10,000 Year Clock at

Friday, March 9, 2012

Best of Winter

I’ve almost missed the chance to write a Best of Winter list, so I’m hurrying this one along. As soon as it’s done, I’ll begin pondering a Best of Spring list.

My first thought was that a Best of Winter list would be a short one. What is there about winter that I consider worthy of being best? Beyond the rare but lovely picture-postcard snowfall, what brings me respite, contentment or joy?

  •  Staying inside on a bitterly cold day, mug of tea in hand, cat(s) in lap, large book nearby and open. I enjoy looking at snow (or rain or sleet) and feeling the contrast as I sit, warm and content, inside. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” --C.S. Lewis
  • The holidays, especially Christmas. Not every Christmas in my adulthood has lived up to the magic and anticipation I remember from childhood, but I remain hopeful most years. This past Christmas, my older son, his wife, and one-year-old grandson made the trip north to be with us. My children were home and my parents were here. I was surrounded by what I wanted most.
  •  Stews, homemade soup, warm bread. They taste best when the weather turns cold, days are short, and there is a chill attempting to enter by any window or door not barricaded against it.
  • Candlelight and firelight. My eyes drink in the warmth and encouragement.
  • Lights on trees, houses, and bushes, especially the little fairy lights. I have them somewhere in or on my house all year: around the inside of the screened porch, above a doorway, along a high bookcase. Seeing them, I think of summer evenings, lawns of thick, clipped grass, and the deeper coolness under a tree in full leaf. Being in a room lighted by their tiny, determined glow is quite different from being under even the softest of incandescent bulbs.
  • The first daffodils. At our house, these enthusiastically yellow harbingers show up sometime in the first three weeks of March, just before the official start of spring. Even after a relatively mild winter, their color is welcome and refreshing to eyes whose outdoor fare has seemed too beige, too grey, too sparse.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year?

As long as we're looking at holiday photos, here's another one:

My parents put this photo in their Christmas card in 1959. That tells you something about the sense of humor that prevailed in our household and that helped to make me who and what I am.

O, Santa Baby

This year, I find that I'm excited about the holiday, even a bit fluttery. It's been years since I've been like this: all lights and sparkles and ribbons and hope. I've always loved Christmas—the traditions, the vast promise of the holy day—but there was something lost along the way. I  imagine the credit for my joyful resurgence of  anticipatory Yuletide excitement goes to Oliver, age not-quite-two. We didn't see him last Christmas, but this year everyone is coming home. 
I am deeply grateful.

(That's Oliver in a photo taken for his family's Christmas card last year.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm melting!

Jenn Rice shot some photos of me while Mom, Dad and I were at the house in Brown County today. This is one of the sillier shots. I was melting at the time, possibly from the effects of sunlight. 

I don't suppose this should be used as an author shot. Unless I decide to write a vampire story.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Best of Summer

Inspired by “10 Most Fun Things to Do in Summer,” a post by Georgia Miller, young daughter of Karen Maezen Miller, on Karen’s blog, Cheerio Road, July 13, 2011. I chose to list summer bests.
  • My gardens: the colors, the scents, the wind moving through. Waves of purple petunias. Orange and golden and multi-color marigolds. Impatiens. Old-fashioned pink roses. Coneflower. Cosmos. Daisies and yarrow. Velvety orange tithonia. Lilies. Zinnias.
  • Morning walks in the shade on the Monon or elsewhere
  • Green. All kinds of green: light, dark, greeny-yellow, piney-blue-green. All sorts of textures.
  • The play of light and shadow as the light changes throughout the day
  • Spotting fireflies in the gloaming
  • Sitting outside in the dark around a fire with favorite people, telling stories
  • Driving in the country at dusk
  • Sleeping in on the morning of a rare thunderstorm. Hearing rain on the roof of the skylight (or a tent).
  • A concert or theatre outdoors, with a picnic. Or  an old-fashioned melodrama.
  • Festivals and fairs and lemonade
  • The cool interior of a library on a hot day. Library reading programs.
  • Viewing the movie “Independence Day” on the Fourth of July, every year. And a parade. And sparklers.
  • Real tomatoes, especially on a BLT
  • Road trips: Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming. To be visited: Maine, Montreal, Prince Edward Is. 

What's on your list?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reading a map

I wanted a map for my cousin, Beth, who is planning a visit to our home. So I went online. I happened to use Google maps, but there are other free services. I spent most of the next hour wandering Indiana, not because I needed to—I had already sent Beth the maps I thought she would need—but because I like to explore.

I followed the White River east until I drew near to my hometown, then retraced the flow, heading downriver (southwest) to the Wabash and on down, visiting New Harmony, Posey County, Evansville, Henderson, KY, and places where only a few people live in tiny settlements cut off from the nearest similar burg or farm by the loops and whorls of the Wabash and Ohio rivers as they cut dividing lines between Indiana and Illinois, between Illinois and Kentucky, and between Kentucky and Indiana. The map reveals places where a section of Indiana is farther west than a section of Illinois at the same latitude, and other places where a section of Indiana is south of a neighboring section of Kentucky. Intriguing.

 Who are the people who live there? How do they make a living? What do they do for fun? What are their hopes? What are their stories?

Could I read them on the map?

(Map of southwestern Indiana from Google maps online)