Spelling It Out

“A man must be a damned fool, who can’t spell a word more than one way.”  ~ Nyrum Reynolds **

Even tucked into a thicket of dense, interwoven phrases, the word stood out. Spotting it, I circled back for another look, surprised by what I took to be an obvious misspelling.

It was March, 2009, and the blogger known as Aubrey was considering a bit of milkweed fluff.

Walking to work, I saw a very peculiar thing on the sidewalk.  Its color was soft and meek:  a whimsical fluff, a piece of delicate detritus which had somehow lost its way and now lay defenseless on the granite causeway.

The word that captured my attention was detritus. I’d lived for several decades knowing it as detrius, so my initial inclination was to believe that Aubrey had misspelled it.  Clearly, each of us was using it properly, and our spellings were close, but the different spellings meant different pronunciations — perhaps even different words.

I’d been reading Aubrey long enough to recognize her writing skills and admire her attention to detail, so a little exploration seemed in order. I didn’t expect to be the one who was wrong, but I was open to the possibility.
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Published in: on August 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm  Comments (130)  
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Godot Is Gone, But Godette Goes On

Godot, at the Height of His Glory

From the beginning, they were inseparable. Self-effacing, green, more-or-less prickly, they contented themselves with taking the afternoon sun in a far corner of the patio, telling tales of their travels to one another and gently ridiculing their over-achieving neighbor, a dwarf schefflera who prided herself on needing to be trimmed on a monthly basis.

Despite their own glacial growth rates and their refusal to claim attention by blooming, I grew fond of them. I gave them names: first Godot, then Godette. I talked to them, nurtured them, and fussed over them more than I was willing to admit. Eventually, I told their stories, both here, and here.

Godot was a Lace cactus, known in scientific circles as Echinocereus reichenbachii His ancestors, native to Texas and common throughout our Hill Country, have long-established roots in the state. Some of his kind were noted and recorded by the German scientist, Ferdinand Roemer, during his own travels through Texas between 1845 and 1847.

How Godot ended up on my patio is a simple enough story. (more…)

Published in: on July 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm  Comments (84)  
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Going Up the Country

Had I known what lay ahead, I might have chosen a pith helmet and khakis for my evening attire.  Instead, I opted for what I imagined to be Country Casual: a denim skirt, a white piqué blouse, and turquoise bracelets.

After years of sweating through the swamp-like heat and humidity of Houston, I’d already experienced one benefit to living with more earth and less concrete. Country air seemed to cool more quickly after sunset, making the sweater I’d already thrown into the car a reasonable accessory.

Plucking the directions I’d been given from the side of the refrigerator, I re-read them before tucking them into my bag and heading off to dinner. Written in a neat, almost pinched hand on paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook, they seemed straightforward enough. (more…)

Published in: on June 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm  Comments (82)  
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Traveling Light

Grain Elevator in Floydada, Texas
Some readers will remember this story. It’s sweet and quirky, and so amusing I occasionally re-read it just for the smiles it brings. I hope this re-post brings you a smile, too. If anyone has a better travel story at the end of the summer, I’d surely love to hear it.

Floydada, Texas is cotton country, though it’s known for pumpkins, too, and likes to bill itself as the Pumpkin Capital of the US.

It’s a flat and expansive land, a land of impossibly distant horizons and days barely distinguished one from another. Strangers develop a habit of looking around, as if to orient themselves. Even those who’ve grown up with the wind, the dust, and the storms say it aloud now and then: “This place will run you nuts if you let it.” (more…)

Einstein’s Slippers

I couldn’t help laughing when I saw the photo. Helmeted and harnessed for the occasion, a friend’s sister had thrown English caution to the winds and was celebrating a local festival by zip-lining past the village church.

What caught my attention and made me laugh wasn’t so much the pair of lines stretching down from the steeple, or the absurdity of what seemed to be less-than-hefty pulleys. It was the woman’s footwear — ankle boots, with high heels.

Questioned about her sister’s decision to combine high heels and zip lines, my friend explained that her sister is shorter than many women, and wears heels everywhere. “In fact,” she said, “she may even have heels on her bedroom slippers.”
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