Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #8

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

It’s been some time since I’ve done a Words that Warm post, 10 months in fact. In part, I was boring myself; in part, I had run out of words that I felt like celebrating. Don’t feel sad for me or hate my bad attitude (well you can, if you want). I didn’t want to dig for others. I wanted it to be a sort of organic exercise, rather than one focused on producing.

Today, I felt like celebrating a particular word. So here I am again:

grace

I can’t hear this word without thinking that I don’t use it, think about it, or appreciate it often enough. The “g” isn’t the tenderest letter in the English language but I find the word pretty and dig its one syllable confidence. I love that it can connote physical, spiritual, or personal grace. While physical grace is not something I’ve ever been able to muster, I can appreciate it’s beauty in dance, movement, or manner of being.

As for spiritual grace, I can’t claim to be an authority on its more religious elements by any stretch, and it has meanings in numerous religions. However, back when I was a non-consenting party to Catholicism, one of my favourite themes was grace – as I understood it. In my tiny head, grace went beyond the idea of salvation. It was that bit of God-joy you could see reflected in someone’s small act of kindness, biblical or otherwise. I always found that a magical moment in church: when someone, a priest generally since mass was never a town hall meeting, spoke about kindness.

Today, for me, a person who demonstrates grace is able to voice their point of view while respecting the experiences and perspectives of others. They can call into question an idea without calling out a person. They exude poise without making a heroic effort to maintain their composure. Their ego doesn’t get in the way, which is part of why I think truly graceful people have the power to lead change.

There’s silent grace too of course, which is often harder to identify. Protagonists often have grace to share. Perhaps I would think many people exhibited it if I could see them the way I see a character in a novel.

I value this personal grace immensely. But maybe I’m giving grace far too much credit. Do muscles or a microphone give grace the boot more often than I’d like to think?

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September 26, 2011 Posted by | Childhood Complaints, Words that warm | , | 4 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #7

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

nuzzle

I love this one, especially at this cozy-seeking time of year. It’s got the fun of the “double-zed l” (so well-known), which makes it feel like a comic book BLAM! and the connotation of love and snuggling. I also picture lots of wool and blankets.

The cat’s been diggin’ the nuzzilng lately. She lost another layer of chicken-ness and will now sprawl out on your lap and nuzzle away, even if you fidget.

Now to get this word out of my mind – it’s been worse than a bad song lately.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Wild Animals, Words that warm | 4 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #6

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

anemone

This word kills me, but in a good way. In large part because it’s the only word I can think of (outside of crazy technical words, etc) that absolutely baffles me. If someone says anemone, I get it, mostly. But if I have to say the word anemone, like in conversation, I don’t know how. I cannot for the life of me decide between anemone and aneNoMe. To write this blog, I had to google it. I get confused because anemone sounds to me like what I would say if I had a speech impediment, like if I were to say, “He’s an em-e-ny of mine.” Get it? No? It’s just me then. Ok. I know it’s not weird to have a word I screw up all the time, but I’ve always been an accurate pronouncer. My mom tells stories about how correct my speech was from babyhood. (Maybe one day I’ll be blessed with a one-year-old know-it-all. Joy.) So I get all kerfuddled. Which gives me much respect for the anemone. You are simple and beautiful and yet I cannot say your name.

Anenomes (ack, oops) Anemones came to mind for a good reason. The long-suffering semester will be over tomorrow (sort of) and I am heading camping to Salt Spring Island with friends. I can’t wait. Last year we all went there together as well. The beach was covered in creatures to visit – I’m famous for loving my inter-tidal life – and I found camping on the ocean very soothing somehow.

Creeping on sea stars

But I was taught a bad, bad thing. I try to be very cautious and respectful around life, you know the kind, plants, animals, life. I can’t stand spiders but still hate it when someone sees me flailing near a spider and feels the need to heroically kill it for me. Anyway, being unfamiliar with the ocean, I’m generally especially hands-off with ocean creatures. But while camping, my friend and island local taught me that if you stick a finger in a green burrowing anemone, it will close up around you and sort of sting you/suck your finger. With childish guilt, I did my worst and, to my dismay, it was fun (I don’t get out much). Now whenever I see one it is very difficult to keep my fingers to myself. However, on the radio yesterday, my guilt was confirmed, a biologist was talking about the damage that human oils (from touching) can do to sea beings, beings like the green burrowing anemone.

Pretty, no? Click for photo credit.

I also have a good friend that used to love the anemone flower, which is graceful and sweet and comes in tons of colours. Unfortunately, I don’t have my own picture of the flower either.

wholeblossoms.com

Anyway, the point is, anemones are neat-o and I don’t know how to say the word most of the time. To Salt Spring!

UPDATE:

My own anemone photo as evidence of great success in enjoying Salt Spring Island.

Not quite as much colour steroid but you get the idea

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Words that warm | , | 5 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #5

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

gubernatorial

Someone explain this word to me. Someone. I dare you. Why, you wonder? Probably not, but of course you’re about to find out. Or click away. That’s an option too.

Gubernatorial is supposedly this classy Americanism for anything relating to a state governor. Hello, America – anything that sounds like “goober” doesn’t get to be classy. Ever. But thanks for the word. I’ll snicker every time.

Here’s to the Gubernator!

alltopmovies.com

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Words that warm | 2 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: 4

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

des rêves

The French word for dreams. This word caught my attention from the time I first learned it, probably grade 8.

Dream is one of those words that to me should be at least interesting, if not celebratory. But the word “dream” in English is pretty drab in my opinion. Maybe rêve is just as boring a word to the native french speaker but to my mind it much better captures the essence of something you can’t quite reach, something fun, something alluring and even a touch risqué. I wanted my first email address to be desreves@_ some 13 years ago, but that was taken. Sigh. Imagine how different my life could have been (if by different I mean the same).

I love that I can’t quite pronounce it, even though it looks so simple and innocent. I love the consonant-e-consonant-e pattern which is among the most simple in English, or so it seems to me. I love that it sounds like rev (to rev an engine) in English, but is much more interesting and conjures a sense of peace instead of a snotty cringe.

Mainly though, rêve makes me feel cheesy (as in I picture myself in wispy-haired scenes by water with long flowing skirts and a coquettish look) and comfortable with my own cheesiness (which, as I understand it, cannot be translated to fromagerie).

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Words that warm | 2 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: 3

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

pipoca

pronounced pee-POHK-a

This word is wrapped in fairy dust for me, which may sound a little goofy  since “pipoca” is the Portuguese word for the very non-mystical treat, popcorn.

The second time (but the first time I remember) that I went to Portugal I was nine. Spending time on the island my mom is from, Terceira, was positively earth-shattering. Though admittedly, I struggled with food and proper decorum, other aspects of the trip were fascinating. Meeting my grandmother, the only grandparent I have memories of, and aunt, as well as a ton of family I had never heard of, was overwhelming. It was one of those times as a child where I was struck by the extent of my parents’ lives before me. The feeling was repeated when we went to the island my dad is from, Flores. I’d always had a sense that my parents came from another world and had two cultures and ways of knowing, but being there was powerful.

The Jardim, courtesy of azores.com

Anyway, my mom was from the “big city” on Terceira; Angra do Heroismo has a beautiful and famous public garden, known as the Jardim (or the garden, strangely enough). Entranced, walking through the gardens of this historic city, I can’t remember what happened first. Either I smelled the popcorn or I heard the pipoqueira yelling out “pi-poc-a”. I suspect it was the latter, because I remember asking what the word meant. In retrospect this seems a little strange because we spoke Portuguese at home, but I guess pipoca is one word that didn’t manage the trip over, like the word juice (sum) or knife (faca – guess why that one didn’t make the trip).

Everything about this word became happiness. Not only did it sound like popping corn, and make me smile as I said it, my parents were happy that I was excited by a new word, they were happy to be there and probably also happy that I was excited about some kind of food. To top off the moment’s magic, we actually bought popcorn, which was a real treat since my parents were never really the spontaneous street food type.

In sum, the word pipoca gives me a smile. It’s fun to say, especially for English speakers, and reminds me of a happy and a rare moment of being caught up in magic.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Consumption, Portuguese-ness?, Words that warm | 1 Comment

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: 2

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious

Disclaimer: I only ever said that the words would warm MY heart.

This word, or whatever you’d like to call it, from the 1964 Disney wonder Mary Poppins was something that brought wonder to my heart for numerous childhood years. To me this movie was the pinnacle of childhood imagination. Laughing on the ceiling, a suffragette mother, a firm but fantastically fun nanny that hangs out with the kindest street performer/chimney sweep/artist, dances in chalk pictures, and pulls lamps out of carpet bags, and a father who shuns his corporate job for the job of flying a kite with his kids … explain to me what could be better? I also loved ridiculous songs and words, hence my adoration for Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious, or “something to say when you have nothing to say”. Most redeeming of all however, is when Mr. George Banks, father, banker, dutiful employee, is in the process of getting sacked for his son having caused the bank system of England to collapse (no pressure, kid) and he cries out “Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious” like it’s the best thing on earth. Talk about casting off the shackles! Admittedly, it still irritates me that Mary Poppins claims to have said it backwards (an all out lie!) when in fact what she said was “docious-ali-expi-istic-fragil-cali-rupus”. I still have my dork morals after all.

Now for some upper class privileged white “lady” power!:


June 10, 2010 Posted by | Bad TV References, Childhood Complaints, Words that warm | 3 Comments

Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: 1

(As a lover of words, phrases, lyrics, plays on words and so on, and someone seeking ways to better celebrate the little things, I’ve decided to develop a series dedicated especially to these linguistic trinkets.)

rhythm

I think I decided rhythm was my favourite word sometime in high school. I like it’s symmetry. Two syllables, both of 3 letters, both with an “h” in the middle. I like that it seems to break rules about vowels and such, even though that sneaky “y” keeps it in line. I like that there’s nothing between the “th” and the “m” –  it seems ba-ad.

But best of all is the way the word sounds and feels when you say it. Sometimes I think it mimics the thumps of the heart. If you say it aloud a few times in a row, I’m reminded of a chilled-out frog being itself.

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Words that warm | 1 Comment