21 December 2007

Stuff My Stocking With Punctuation',."!" (Please?)

I'm not one for self-editing. Recent scans through my personal E-mails, blog postings, thank you notes and grocery lists have lately revealed that I'm just plain bad at punctuation. Kind of makes me wonder if I slept all the way through my 6th grade grammar and punctuation class.
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But... just because I don't know how to utilize punctuation doesn't mean I'm not affectionate toward it. Oh my, how I love punctuation. I love it like I love pepper. Just sprinkle a bit here and there and alacazaam!!! It instantly adds flavor, flair and spice to anything you're eating. Um, reading. (The Eats, Shoots and Leaves lady would have my head on a platter.) (And I know that I make many of you editors and writers occasionally cringe as well.) (You're welcome.)

If I were to rank my favorite forms of punctuation ....I'd have to vote for... the ellipse... so reminiscent of pepper... that it truly takes my breath away............. .... achoo ...... that's my breath... going ... away....

- the dash- although- I really have no clue about the difference between- an m--dash and an n-dash- and how---by the way-- are either of these different from the subtraction symbol- which is also good when you want to tell someone it's- well, below freezing- or perhaps that their bank account is now in the negative numbers--- ah, dashes--- we all love dashes!

and parentheses. They're so cool. (And I always have some kind of sidebar conversation I want to have that really doesn't pertain to what we're talking about.) (So I use a lot of parentheticals.) (And they also remind me of bookends. Keeping everything neat and contained on the shelf. Goodness knows I need a little order and containment around here.)

The other day the kids and I were reading poetry and I found this little gem. (This guy is better at pepper punctuation than I am!) (Truly impressive.)

So here's my stuffer for your grammatical stocking this year.

The Lesson
- John Ciardi

Of all the fleas that ever flew
(And flying fleas are rather few
((Because for proper flying you
(((Whether you are a flea or not)))
Need wings and things fleas have not got)) )--

(I make the further point that fleas
Are thick as these parentheses
((An illustration (((you'll agree)))
Both apt and pleasing to a flea)) ) --

Now then where were we? Let me see--
Ah, yes. --We said to fly you ought
(Whether you are a flea or not)
To have some wings (yes, at least two
((At least no less than two will do
(((And fleas have something less than one
((((One less, in fact (((((or, frankly, none)))))
((((((Which, as once more you will agree))))))
Limits the flying of a flea)))) ))) )) ).

And let me add that fleas that fly
Are known as Flears (You can see why.)

All I have said thus far is true.
(If it's not clear, that's up to you.
((You'll have to learn sometime, my dear,
That what is true may not be clear
(((While what is clear may not be true
((((And you'll be wiser when you do.)))) ))) )) )

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18 December 2007

'Tis the Season to Save Boxes

Long, long ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away,
I wrote this post called Spring Gardening in Layers.

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Who in their right mind is thinking about spring?? And gardening??? She's off her rocker, that's what. (Well, yes, I am, but let's stick to the point.) I'm the first to admit that it is still August and this is quite a cool spell we're havin' ain't it? ;)

I opened my umpteenth shipping box today, and I remembered that now is the time for me to begin saving these corrugated beauties so I can lay them down as a weed barrier in my gardens this spring. Trust me, the effort I put in pulling off the packing tape and unwinding gobs of twisty wire makes it so worth it when July and August roll around and there are next to NO WEEDS in my garden! And the few little boogers that do make it through simply pull out like they're rooted in butter. Like buhddah.

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For the full skinny on this concept, known as Lasagna Gardening, read this article. In a nutshell, use cardboard boxes as your base layer/weed barrier and pile on the manure, leaf mulch, and topsoil, then plant your seeds right then and there. It works brilliantly. And saves your back and your tools if you have very hard and unhealthy soil (like we did in Dallas, and we do here in Maryland).

A long-term case study at my Dad and Mom's house is this: they've been lasagna gardening for more than 10 years. When I helped plant some new flowers last summer their soil was rich, dark, moist and healthy. Mom says she doesn't do anything to last year's soil, just starts a new lasagna layer each year. And over time, the layers simply decompose and mix together. They've got a good 10-12 inches of fertile topsoil now, whereas ten years ago it was hard clay-ish stuff that wouldn't grow a thing.

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So... as your kiddies are opening their Tickle Me Elmos, Barbie Island Princesses, Charlie-in-the-Boxes, the Wiis and the drum sets...
as you're unwrapping the new treadmill, a set of skis,
the boxed set of Johnny Mathis Christmas albums... save your boxes! They'll make an ideal weed barrier for your spring garden. Think of all the fun you'll have sitting beside a crackling fire tearing off plastic tape and sticky labels all winter long.


12 December 2007

Life is Here

This has become my favorite ornament on the tree this year.

While merrily decorating our tree, my 7 year old spied this teeny bird's nest built deep inside our tree, near the safety of the trunk.

To think that we were nearly done decorating before anyone saw it!

We could have spent the entire Christmas season bustling around our tree... arranging and rearranging presents, watering the base, enjoying the twinkling of the bulbs, vacuuming up fallen needles, plucking off a candy cane to munch while we read stories on the couch, fondly reminiscing the family events represented by our baubles and bangles, admiring the balance and texture of our lovely evergreen friend... and completely missing the subtle message nestled within its quietness.

"Life is here."

Life is here.

*We carefully pulled the nest out and placed it on a prominent bough for all to admire. Such a beautiful message the Lord has for me in this little home of twigs. Subtle, quiet, always there but not always acknowledged. Humble.
** Read Mary's post on subtlety. Quite good.

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08 December 2007

It's about something more... or perhaps something less

This is for Steve, Sr. and Charity.
And all the rest of us who long for the salvation of our Emmanuel.

The whole creation groans and suffers...
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the redemption of our body."
Romans 8:22-23

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05 December 2007

A Perturbed Homeschooler

It is beyond me how a 4th grader searching for the meaning of the word, application, is supposed to grasp this:

The act of applying.

Am I the only person who was taught that one never defines a word using the word itself, or any root or form of the same word?

Santa, please bring me a decent dictionary.