Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

Plenty of Matches

Plenty of Matches
Here’s the challenge: You are going to be leaving for an undetermined period, to a destination with lots of time, and little need for industry, and may take exactly one book with you.  One.  You can take any book on the face of the planet, but only one.  So  the challenge is to decide which book. Take your time-we’ve plenty of that.
My choice would require no time for cogitation, because my book would include all of your selections, by definition.  I would choose a dictionary.  Oh, boo.  What a let-down, say you, a veritable copout if ever there was one.
The truth of the matter is that, whereas I read with great interest the ongoing sharing of favorite titles, and the presentation of lists of books that are universally appreciated, I do not read much for pleasure these days, simply because reading got squeezed out off of my “plate,” as a result of overcrowding.
Annie says that is a byproduct of having spent a lifetime reading every genre of book written, and feeling no compunctions about re-reading favorites.  I have been presented with the classics since I was in primary school, and have spent my life feasting on the prose of Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and Zola.  I took four classes at SJSU in Shakespeare.  I had eleven classes in English, without being an English major, when I decided maybe I should apply for a minor.
On the other hand, included in those classes were four on Old English, and one on Chaucer (Middle English).  Including Shakespeare, which by the way, is written in Modern English, despite the presence of a plethora of quaint expressions that require context and/or research to comprehend, that makes nine classes dealing with English as it developed and transitioned to what it is today.
My interest has shifted from reading the music of our language, as presented by others, to orchestrating that music into my own version of how words may be arranged.  I am hopelessly ensnared by the etymology of words, by the subtle nuances distinguishing one word from another.  What IS the difference between convoluted, complex, and intricate, and how do you know when one words applies, and the other two don’t?
Alongside the obvious-who cares?-approach, is a one in which the answer to that question, is the most important aspect of the piece of writing-for me.  As nerdy as this sounds, I am perfectly content to scan the dictionary guide words, for one that piques my interest.  [I can see everyone moving away from me on the Group W bench of life-seriously?  You like to read the dictionary?  Speaking of twisted...] 
However, I always feel that words are worth the effort to get to know, so as to be able to present the best words, in the best possible order.  I hate to go back through and edit-I rarely do it.  I rely on the words that I initially chose, and hesitate to substitute a different one.  Therefore, I like to have a nice repository of available choices.
Included in my seven gifts I received at Christmas were one dictionary, one thesaurus, one book on the etymology of idioms, as they originated in different cultures, a book entitled “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like,”  and Sue Grafton’s “V is for Vengeance.”  Those around me know what lights my fire.  I know, it’s sad.
But at least I have plenty of matches.

9 comments:

  1. So cool! It's in the genes, dude! Of course you remember the bookshelves by the phone wherein resided the encyclopedias, the dictionaries, Roget's Thesaurus , and the Sunday missals? We would sit on the floor by the heater and read those books - well, maybe not the missals.... not unless it was Sunday before dinner and we were prepping for Papa's question: "what was the gospel about" or worse, "What was the epistle about?" Worse because the epistle was read in Latin only and a response depended on a) having actually read it in English while it was being read in Latin and b) remembering anything about it.
    But I digress.....
    One of my all time favorite books is called "The Synonym Finder". It originally came out in the mid 80's and I got such a kick out of it. Still do.
    You rock, btw.
    and I love the sunflower! I have some more photos from your garden - upclose and personal with the sunflowers....

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  2. I love the sunflower, too! As far as which book I would take, that for me is simple. The Book of Mormon. I learn and feel something every time I pick it up.

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  3. I have a dictionary and a thesaurus on my desk (and bookmarked in my favorites on the computer) because 1) I am a terribly speller, but since I know I am, I don't usually call myself that. I know when I'm spelling something wrong and can usually find it in the dictionary and 2) I had a teacher who told me to stop using the word 'nice' becuase there were so many other words to use. Without these two tools I'd be up a creek without a paddle, oar, pole or propeller!

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  4. Judy; Annie was in Salt Lake City last May for a week, for a quilting conference. She found the city to be very comfortable and walked daily to the temple. She was fascinated (her word) by the history and the culture of the area.
    And Michelle: I almost added a postscript to this piece that said, if I could have a second book, it would be my new thesaurus.

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  5. Mark, I thought you were a walking thesaurus ?!

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  6. I adore reading the dictionary. When I don't have the paper version on hand, I can lose far more time than I care to admit down the rabbit hole of an online dictionary. I love the phrase "the music of language" and I love the way words play together when you let them.
    I will admit to a certain impatience with most fiction these days (comes with the gray hair, perhaps?) but I do have my favorite wordsmiths who teach me still.

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  7. Judy: Next Halloween when I go to the costume party, thanks for the idea.

    So I'm not so nerdy after all, he keeps telling himself, and I can read the dictionary.

    JT, you know what else came out of those shelves? The ultimate guy book, "Beau Geste," given to me by Mom, after I whined that "There was nothing to read."

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  8. I'm a bit of a dictionary fiend myself, though I don't know that it would be the ONE book I would bring with me. The finding just the right word thing is also an obsession of mine.

    I'm also fascinated by word origins and connotations. Have you read Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr. and/or its sequel Alphabetter Juice? If not, they're really worth checking out. I have a feeling you would enjoy them. If you've read them, I'd love to hear what you thought.

    Let me know what you think of the metaphor book, too, when you've had a chance to read it and I'll share my experience of it, if you're interested.

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  9. I thought for sure you would choose a book of matches as the one book you could take into the wilderness......I know that would be my choice........I would remember plenty of stories sitting around my fire at night....

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