Sarahs shirt goes on the wall @ 11LL.
Verbal Warning: A Rave About Writing
Ideas for this blog come to me at the strangest times. For example, in the middle of the night last night, I had to get up to address a call of nature.
Scratch that. Last night, in the middle of the night, I fumbled my way out of the bedclothes, fell out of bed, and staggered toward the bathroom. And, no, I was not drunk. I’m just not very coordinated at two in the morning.
However, my creative side seems to function just fine because I actually considered what verb would best convey my progress toward that little room.
So, I’m a little weird about words; I believe we’ve covered that in previous posts.
Here’s my point: the right (or wrong) verb can make or break a sentence.
Admit it. After reading that first sentence, you probably were saying to yourself, “Oh, ho hum. Who cares if Kym had to get up in the middle of the night?” After the second, more active sentence, perhaps you were wondering, “Why was Kym stumbling? Was she sick? Drunk? Going to the aid of a sick child? Or was she merely very tired?”
So, when you write, think carefully about your verb choice and what that choice might convey. Don’t just say your character walked across the room, tell your readers how. Did your hero amble toward the heroine? (Shades of a dusty cowboy fresh from rounding up the horses.) Did your heroine scuttle across the street? (Finding her way to a hiding place to spy on her philandering husband.) Or, maybe she merely drifted into a room. (A “diamond of the first water” floating into a ball as all heads turn toward her.)
I actually have a list — culled from many other lists I’ve found here and there — of some of the many ways a person can move. Here are just a few: schlepp, tramp, lope, march, prowl, gambol, scoot, slouch. Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment with an example of when and how you might use them.
P.S. I’ve always wondered what the phrase “diamond of the first water” meant. So I looked it up. Here’s the origin, from the website, English for Students (http://www.english-for-students.com/The-First-Water.html).
From the gem trade. The clarity of diamonds is assessed by their translucence; the more like water, the higher the quality. Thiscomparison of diamonds with water dates back to at least the early 17th century, and Shakespeare alludes to it in Tymon of Athens, 1607. The 1753 edition of Chambers’ Encyclopedia has this under an entry for ‘Diamond’:
“The first water in Diamonds means the greatest purity and perfection of their complexion, which ought to be that of the clearest drop of water. When Diamonds fall short of this perfection, they are said to be of the second or third water, &c. till the stonemay be properly called a coloured one.”
Warning: Unpleasant photo of roadkill at the end of this post. Stop reading if you will find this offensive.
A rant that has nothing to do with reading or writing
We used to live under the flight path of Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Because we are an aviation-minded family, the sound of the airplanes never troubled us. In fact, we kind of liked it. Furthermore, tracks for both the city transit system and the railroad ran less than a mile from our home. Add in a fire station a block away, and anyone with half a brain would realize life on our street was accompanied by the soundtrack of a city neighborhood.
No shock there. We lived in a city neighborhood.
Thus, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s decision to erect sound barriers along a nearby highway came as some surprise, and not a pleasant one. Both my husband and I thought it was pretty stupid, a boondoggle at the very least. Attempting to block out the sound of a highway that ran under a flight path seemed kind of silly.
Plus the walls block the sights along the road, making driving an exercise in boredom.
When I travel, I prefer to see the surrounding countryside.
Not all roadside scenery is as idyllic as the above photo, but I’d gladly take even a cityscape of steel mills and car factories over blank gray or reddish walls.
It seems to me unreasonable to try to cut ourselves off from the unpleasant results – be it noise, pollution or simply the ugly sight of a steel plant — of the lifestyle so many of us (myself included) take for granted.
Then there’s the cost. As of 2009, those walls cost $25 a foot. (Figure from Cleveland.com blog: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/10/post_69.html). Multiply that by the number of feet in a mile times the amount of miles where the barriers have been erected. The result is a lot of money. Money from our taxes that, in my opinion, could be better used to repair the roads and/or aged bridges that have begun to look scarily, possibly dangerously, decrepit.
What about those who live near major highways and have to deal with the car noise? Well, call me heartless, but I just can’t generate a whole lot of sympathy for people who move near an interstate and then complain about the noise. It would be like us moving five miles from the airport and then bitching about the planes.
I’d feel more sympathy for someone who settled in a neighborhood only to have an interstate re-routed through their backyard. But there have been very few highways built in northeast Ohio in the last few years (none that I’m aware of).
Oh, and those barriers that were erected a few years before we moved out of Cleveland? They’re falling down, going from dull blandness to eyesore in less than ten years. That’s right, folks, the 181 miles of sound barriers erected throughout Ohio at a cost of $330 million are now crumbling, requiring repair. (http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/09/post_516.html)
In my family, we had an expression for such expenditures. We called it throwing good money after bad. Why not admit the whole idea was a misbegotten idea, dismantle the things, and be done with it?
If you’re wondering why I’m whining about this now, I’ll tell you. It’s because today as I drove down the highway with the stupid falling down walls, I saw two young deer, heads bobbing above the tall grass along the side of the road as they searched for the way back to the gap in the wall and into the woods from which they’d come.
But hey, no worries, right? I’ll probably see them again, lying along the highway after they finally panic and try to cross.
A Rave About Reading
I’m a garage saler, a consignment and Goodwill shopper, an flea market lover and, on occasion — though I hate to admit it — a garbage picker. I like to own things with a bit of history, though not necessarily with someone else’s dirt.
Plus I’m cheap.
Thus, it’s probably no surprise that I like to read books about people with similar habits. Recently I read several in a row, all centering on items that were in their second or third life. (That’s a nice way of saying “used.”)
I thought I’d share some of my favorites.
Killer in Crinolines is the second in Duffy Brown’s “Consignment Shop Mystery” series featuring Reagan Summerside and her Aunt Kiki. In the previous book, Reagan sort of accidentally fell into the consignment shop business, as well as a murder case. With characters like Chantilly Parker and Waynetta Waverly, Pillsbury and Putter — these books are worth reading for the names alone! Add in a little southern drawl and a lot of humor, and you’ve got the perfect summer read.
Lethal Treasure is another cozy mystery, this one written by Jane K. Cleland and featuring antiques dealer and sleuth, Josie Prescott. Along with the local interior designer, Josie has taken to bidding on the contents of abandoned storage units. But when the designer turns up dead in a unit whose contents he just purchased, it’s up to Josie to help the police find his killer. Of course, she manages to do so with great savoir-faire, though not without a few adventures along the way.
On the non-fiction front, there’s Killer Stuff and Tons of Money:Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America. Author Maureen Stanton shares her experiences following antique dealer and flea-marketer-extraordinaire, Curtis Avery, through the ins and outs of the antique world. A must for anyone who enjoys “Antiques Roadshow.”
Mary Kay Andrews’s Savannah Blues is the story of Weezie Foley, an antiques picker whom I think has a lot more class than those boys on the TV. A picker, for those of you who don’t know, combs garage and estate sales, flea markets, and yes, possibly even garbage picks to find items to sell to antiques dealers who reside higher on the food chain. Weezie’s got a boatload of problems that only start with her the death of her ex-husband’s fiancée. With Andrews’s trademark southern flavor and humor, this is another great book for the summer.
And I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t include Bidding for Love (UK title Flora’s Lot), the book that introduced me to one of my favorite authors, Katie Fforde. After reorganizing her life to join the family antique business, Flora is surprised and little miffed when her stiffly proper cousin Charles and his fiancée Annabel greet her efforts with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Determined to prove herself, she sets out to find her place in the firm, eventually discovering that she may not only have found her place in the world but also a new love to go with it.
Whether you’re a second-hand shopper or not, perhaps you’ll find a brand-new favorite in one of these books.
Johnson’s Island ~ former home of POW camp for Confederate officers during the Civil War. Port Clinton/Marblehead in background.