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Here’s one of those words that make grammar students temporarily insane.  It’s kind of like less and fewer.  Less is for something you can’t count individually, like snow, sugar, or salt.  So this year we had less snow; we should learn to use less sugar and salt in our food.


Fewer is for things you can count individually:  Fewer people, fewer taxes (please God!) and fewer spelling errors.

Okay, so the same kind of rule applies to minimal and minimum.  

Minimum is for an absolute that can be counted:  Minimum pages for this assignment is two;  the lowest legal wage is the minimum wage.  Minimum  is used for countable nouns.

Minimal, on the other hand, is used for abstract nouns–that is, things you can’t see or count, like love, enjoyment, hope. It is used for the smallest  amount or degree in non-countable terms.

So the amount of energy I put into this post was minimal compared to other posts I’ve written.

Wasn’t that fun?

To Label or Not to Label


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In my field, using labels to identify people is seriously discouraged. We try not to refer to people according to their diagnoses, so the Mr. Smith doesn’t become “the Bipolar I’m seeing at 10 a.m.”  No one wants to be identified solely by a diagnostic label.

 “Oh, you’re my OCD!  Nice to see you again!”

No, not good. Similarly, I wouldn’t especially care to be identified as “the ruptured appendix in room 202.”

On the other hand, people who care about such things are more than willing to spend a lot of money to get the “in” label of the moment on their clothes, shoes, and handbags.

“Are those Blahniks? Gorgeous!”

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“Oh, I wouldn’t have any other bag than a Gucci!”

“My closet is full of Hermes, Lauren, and Dolce & Gabanna!”

Note:  I had to look up all those brand names. Maybe they’re not even the trendy labels any more.  I wouldn’t know.

Labels.  Sometimes we love them, sometimes we’ve never heard of them, sometimes we find them offensive.  It’s a strange world.

Just Tell the Truth!


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What popped into my mind?  “Trust your gut.”  Where did I pick up that phrase?  I don’t know. Maybe my dad.  Maybe some book I read.

I have pretty good instincts when it comes to people.  I tend to focus on eyes and body language when I’m meeting someone new, especially in the course of  my work day. It’s important for me to get a good sense of the person I’m working with, and I still, after 15+ years,  am taken by surprise when someone who is paying for my help sits there and lies to me.

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Here’s a good example.  Susie (not her real name) was a woman  who had clearly been through some pretty rough times. No longer young, it was obvious that she had been beautiful  but that life had stolen some of that beauty away.

She fidgeted. She slid back against the sofa, then she moved back up to perch on the cushion as if she were ready to run. She kept fussing at her hair, messing with her clothes. She would glance at me, then quickly look away.

When I asked her to tell me briefly what she hoped to accomplish in counseling, she couldn’t give me a straight answer. She was very good at circumlocution, and the more she talked, the more I saw an underlying and very deep anger. Since being a counselor involves a lot of detective work, had to wonder what was behind the anger.

I asked her. She blinkblinked at me, and said, “What?  I’m not an angry person! How can you say that?”

First lie.  She didn’t know she had just lied to me, but that’s because she doesn’t see herself as others see her.

I did a little more probing. Finally, I asked, “Susie, who hurt you?”

I got another startle reaction, and she said, “What do you mean?  No one hurts me!  I’d like to see them try!”

Second lie.  This time, she knew she was lying.  I knew I was close.

“Susie, let me ask it a different way. Someone hurt you, and I think it was sexual abuse. Who molested you when you were young?”

This time, she just sat there and looked at me for a full two or three minutes, and I didn’t fill that time with words. I needed an honest response.

Then the tears welled up in her eyes and her hands began to shake. “How did  you know that?  We’ve only been talking for half an hour!  I’ve never, ever told a soul–well, except my older brother, but he didn’t believe me.  How did you know?”

Well, we’ve made a great deal of progress since then.  Now she tells me right at the beginning of a new session if she thinks she was dishonest at the previous session. She says, “You probably already know, anyway, and I’ve been feeling guilty all week.”

A good counselor has to have good instincts.  So do parents, teachers, and police officers,  and doctors.

Reading in Bed


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Sadie was immersed in the book she held. She should have been asleep an hour ago, but the story was taking her deeper and deeper into itself, and  she couldn’t put the book down.

Image result for reading in bed

She didn’t realize it when her eyelids finally drifted down over her eyes, and she was transported from her bed into the dreamland of the story.

It was quite a shock to find herself suddenly clad in a renaissance dress,  being hustled  up the hill by two soldiers who had no patience for her efforts to free herself from their unrelenting grip on her arms.

And no matter how hard she tried, she could not wake up from this awful nightmare. . .

A Sad Story

(photo credit: Pegman)

The battle raged as Molly looked on from her window. It was a hearbreakingly blue sky  that watched with her as the armies fought each other to the death.

Molly’s window, atop the brothel below, was three stories above the street.As she watched, her glorious Irish hair shone like polished brass, textured by the sun’s golden rays. More than one soldier,glancing upward, lost his focus for a moment and went to his death with that brazen head fixed in his vision.

And then, the BOOM of a cannon sounded, and Molly was no more.

A pub was named after her

She would have laughed.

What Will Be


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Inspiration eludes me this morning.  Oh, wait.  I know!

We’re about to receive a record snowfall for the month of March!  Jump up and down!  The crocus and daffodils are in bloom in some places.  They going to have to pull their little heads back under the soil and wait a few more days. We’re in for a spring snowstorm.

I know, it’s not really spring yet. Here in my corner of PA, though, the temps have been pretty high. Some of my friends were hoping we’d escaped without that huge snowfall, but March is playing its usual tricks on us.

We lived in northern Michigan for a while. My husband grew up in the UP, and he thinks it’s heaven up there. I have news for him–heaven is not going to be a deep freeze!  I will never forget how annoyed I was when it snowed on my daffodils–in MAY!

Well, what will be will be.

Sewing Back Then


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(A fashion plate from Godey’s Lady’s Book, circa 1850)

For a long period of time, as a young teen and even as a pre-teen, I loved reading stories that featured the pioneer women in America as they traveled the trails “Out West.”  Some of them were ill-equipped for what would be required of them.  Others fared better because of a strong, independent nature and a willingness and ability to learn whatever they had to learn in order to survive

One skill  almost every pioneer woman had to learn  was sewing. There were no stores in which to shop for clothing for a growing family.  I remember one story, possibly from The Little House on the Prairie series, in which the mother  created new clothing for her family by taking apart the old, outgrown or outworn dress or pants. The pieces would then be traced  with enough room to grow, and a seam that could be let out as time passed.

They didn’t throw out the old clothes. They were used for rags, for patching other clothes, or for pieced quilts. Nothing wasted.

Where did they get the fabric?  Spinning wheels and weaving looms were put to work to produce material. This work was often done during the long, cold winters when  it was warmer–and safer–to stay indoors.  Of course, in order to spin the threads that would be used on the loom, a woman had to know how to  get the wool from  the sheep or goats that she fed and cared for.  She had to learn how to process the raw materials in order to have something to spin, then weave, then sew into useful clothing for her family.  She was a one-woman factory!

Patterns were used over and over. They were drawn, sometimes, on plain muslin cloth. When muslin wasn’t available, old newspaper or butcher paper, basted together to make a piece big enough for the pattern,  was used instead.

No matter what tools were available, though, the whole process turned a woman into a one-woman factory.  If you’ve ever wondered what they did on those long winter evenings, now you know.  Knitting, making mittens and hats and stockings  and sweaters; spinning thread, weaving fabric, following a pattern to sew literally everything they wore, took up those long hours. Of course, girls in the family learned these skills early so they could help with the process.

If a woman was very lucky, there was a general store within a day’s drive from the homestead. These stores carried  bolts of factory-made fabric, a true luxury. They also usually had a book of patterns, such as Godey’s Lady’s Book,  that was full of pictures of the latest styles and many other helpful articles for the pioneer wife.  It was a trip to look forward to when  going to town meant packing food for the journey, and taking camping supplies for an overnight camp on the way home.

Godey’s contained colored illustrations of new styles. These illustrations were called fashion plates. If a woman was told she looked “just like a fashion plate,” it was a compliment to her sewing skills and her appearance.

Most of the sewing was done by hand. Quilts were also products of the pioneer wife, and they were hand-cut, hand-pieced, and hand-stitched. Honestly I don’t know when those women had the time to tend to everything else they had to do!

Non-Philosophical Me


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There are so many ways to use this word. The first definition:

Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
“abstract concepts such as love or beauty”
synonyms: theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, ideal, philosophical, academic;

“abstract concepts”

Philosphers love the abstract. They study the idea of love, truth, existence, and so on. I’m not sure why they do that. Most of the philosophy that I have read just makes me want to go get a peanut butter sandwich and watch something funny on TV.  I wonder if they study the idea of humor.

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These men were considered to be very wise, and are supposed to have influenced all generations since they sat around thinking.

And then, of course, there is abstract art. Pictures of ideas? I’ve never understood it myself, and I don’t like it. It makes no sense to me.  I guess I just don’t have a philosophical turn of mind.

Image result for abstract art

Think of something positive to say.  Okay.  Um. . . .the colors are bright!

Subtle Changes


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Have you ever noticed that words come and go like fashion fads? You hear them a lot for a while, and then some other word comes along and replaces the old favorites. Some that come to mind are gauche, chez, and ambience. Right now, we’re hearing nuance quite a bit.  I’m just not sure we’re hearing it correctly used.

nuance is:

a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound.
“the nuances of facial expression and body language”
There is an ad on TV right now for a computer dating service.  One satisfied customer says that he was looking for someone close to his own age who could “walk through the nuances” with him.
So, what nuances?  What subtle differences in, or shades of meaning, expression or sound? What exactly is he talking about?  Music?  Sports?  What?  I don’t know. I’m not sure he does, either.  I suspect that what he’s really trying to say is he wanted someone who would understand the history of his era, and the changes that have taken place.
A nuance is sometimes barely detectable.  Subtle, quiet, not creating a big stir. It’s like adding just  a little tiny bit of hot sauce to the chili, not the whole bottle. Some might detect it; others will not. They need a bigger dose of nuance 🙂

Ready! Set! Charge!


PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

“Hopalong One to Command.  Come in, please.”

“This is Command, Hopalong One. What is your status?”

“Command, status is GO! I have a clear visual of Target. Permission to proceed?”

“Permission granted.”

“Ready, Sir.  All is in order. Signaling field officers. The way is clear. Target does not seem to suspect anything. This should go without a hitch.”

“Copy that, Hopalong One. Leave your transmitting device open.”

“Calling all field officers!  Prepare to attack!  The way is clear, target does not suspect. Check in, please.”



“Check. . . “

“Wings up! Ready to roll! Aaaaaaannnnd. . . . CHARGE!”