I was thinking about diphthongs while driving home from an auction today.
I know, you too, right?
OK, so maybe most people are not spending a lot of time thinking about diphthongs.
But it’s kind of cool how grouping different vowels can change how they sound. Round and boil and fowl and hoist and broom and squirrel and auto.
I look at all those words and I wonder how anyone ever conquered the English language.
Were we drunk when we made this stuff up? How could anyone ever memorize all these words?
This is difficult and challenging and not good (to use a diphthong, as an example).
How can “good” rhyme with “should”? How can “meant” sound like “mint”? How come “cow” and “show” sound nothing alike?
How did I ever learn to spell?
But I did.
English just took up lodging in my brain in a way I can’t explain. Why couldn’t science have rented rooms next door? I had to repeat seventh grade science in the summertime because I failed it. But diphthongs seemed always to be my pals.
How can RNA and DNA be more difficult to understand than the spelling of “neighbor”.
But they were, at least for me.
In my sophomore year in high school, our English teacher was so disgusted with our lack of grammatical knowledge that he declared we were going back to elementary school basics for the year.
Except for me. Because I understood the basics, he allowed me to work independently and write really crappy free verse about how depressed I was.
I felt honored, but all the heartfelt angst didn’t improve my poetry at all.
And, so, diphthongs. What’s up with the spelling of that ridiculous word anyway? And what about homonyms?
Who came up with the brilliant idea of pair and pear, pail and pale, bear and bare, fair and fare, wood and would?
I’m embarrassed for English speakers everywhere and I apologize to all the people of the world who try to learn English as their second language.
Most of us aren’t doing such a hot job with English as our only language.

It’s tool time

I have always loved tools.

As a kid, I would volunteer to clean the garage without asking my Dad’s permission.  Then he would get bent out of shape because he couldn’t find anything.

I didn’t understand it then, but I do now.

Tools are personal. Without the right ones, you can’t create what you see in your head.

Heck, even with the right ones, I sometimes can’t do that.

This week, all I wanted to do was make a 10-inch-long cut on a piece of plywood to make a drawer bottom. No problem, or so I thought.

First I whipped out the jigsaw. But for some reason, the blade falls out the minute it touches wood. I’ve been using that saw for over a year and never had that problem until this week. Now, no matter how firmly I ram in that saw blade, it will not stay where I put it.

So fine, I decided to use my dad’s old table saw. The blade has gotten really dull, but it was just a 10-inch cut so I figured I could power through.

After 15 seconds, I blew out the power to the power strip. So I quickly shut that down.

OK, how about my miter saw? After a few painful tugs through the wood, it was obvious that wasn’t going to work very well.

So as a last resort, I grabbed my old hand saw. I probably bought it when I bought the house and hadn’t used it since.

Now I know why.

At first grip, the plastic handle crumbled to pieces in my hand. Seriously — into tiny little plastic bits.

But there was enough to grab onto so I could finally saw my way through the rest of the board.

At least I don’t have any trouble with power sanders.  One crazy day at auction, I got it into my head to buy any power tool that came up on the block. I ended up with three belt sanders and three palm sanders.

Maybe that explains where I came up with the splinter I just dug out of my index finger.



Here comes the sun

I am a big fan of autumn — the crunch of leaves, the fresh bite to the air, and the last days of bike riding.

But today the appeal of spring was undeniable.

I was dressed too warmly for my afternoon walk. Yes, dressed too warmly.

Last week I was watching the weather forecast to find time during the day when I could walk when the windchill was above zero. Today, I was dressed too warmly and hopping over muddy puddles as streams of water trickled ever faster to the storm drains at the end of the blocks.


I had to unwind my scarf, pull off my gloves, doff my hat and unzip my fleece vest. Even then,  I was too warm. Yes, too warm.

And the forecast looks so good that I am contemplating backing my trust old Schwinn out of the garage and pumping up the tires for my first spring spin around the neighborhood. Yes, I’m thinking about riding my bike. Not like one of those hardy winter bike riders. This will be one of those it’s-too-warm-not-to-ride-my-bike event.

Thank you, Spring, for not torturing us as you did last year. We deserve this. We’re good people. Well, we’re good enough people and we deserve SPRING.