V is for Vocabulary

Even though they were very wise, the owls had a limited vocabulary.


I often walk into the living room these days and find my father with the dictionary in his lap.

He still does word puzzles — the daily Jumble and crossword — every day, although he comments often that they’re making them harder.

He needs help with them — sometimes (often) by asking me or anyone in the room, and sometimes by trying to look words up in the dictionary.

As a kid, I can remember asking how to spell a word, and he would say, “Look it up in the dictionary.” Of course, that didn’t make total sense to me because I needed to know how to spell it to look it up. Somehow it worked though.

Dictionaries have always been important to my father.

When he left for college, he was given a dictionary that he still has today. It’s tattered and worn and not the dictionary I find on his lap.

He gave me a dictionary when I went to college. I still have it.

I gave one of my sons a dictionary when he went to college — not an electronic one, but a heavy hardcover one, where he could feel the weight of all those words.

Dictionaries were a fertilizer that fed my roots.

Having a good vocabulary is a gift from my parents, one for which I am continually thankful.


Teacher from A Boy Who Wants a Dinosaur by Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura
Fence from Catch Me, Catch Me! A Thomas the Tank Engine Story illustrated by Owain Bell
Owls from Mother Goose Treasury, 2009 Publications International — it has a long list of illustrators and I don’t know which one did the owls

U is for Unknown

Sometimes I wish I knew what lay ahead —
What will each new tomorrow bring my way?
Why must I always feel so in the dark?
Or, at the very least, so in the gray?

But, if, one day walking, I should chance
To find a crystal ball that could reveal
My future with one touch, one glance –
Would I dare to look, its prophesies unseal?

Indeed my trembling hand would rise, extend —
Heart-pounding in my breast – loud, hard, fast —
And yet a greater force would apprehend
And stop me seeking this, my own forecast.

For the newness of each day and its unknowns
Are gifts. Yes, they are treasures, don’t you see?
Every day is its own celebration
Full of presents* to be unwrapped by me.

*presence?


Man is from Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Crystal ball from The Mapmaker’s Daughter by M. C. Helldorfer, illustrated by Jonathan Hunt

Background from The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda William, illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Not sure where the building is from

T is for Thinking

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought.
There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.

~Victor Hugo

I begin and end each day lost in thought, although I think Hugo more aptly describes is as “absorbed in thought.”

The busyness of the day comes too quickly upon me. Sometimes I have no time to think, just do, do, do.

But to gather my thoughts at the beginning of each day, and run them through the sieve of scripture and Pascal and, this morning, William Law, I can’t tell you how much that helps.

The Croatian word for fast or quick is “brz”. I laughed when I saw it. It made me think of a bee — zip-zip-zipping from flower to flower.

But even the bees pause on each flower, taking time to gather.


Woman from The Art of Lounging by Cooper Edens

Rabbit from The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams (I’m pretty sure)

Not sure where the window is from

S is for Surprise

Uh-oh

Oh, no!

Surprise!


(1)Boy is from My Dad’s Job by Peter Glassman, illustrated by Timothy Bush

(2)Girl is from Misty: The Whirlpool (from Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry) excerpted and adapted by Joan Nichols, illustrated by Stephen Moore

(3)Rabbits are from The Bunny Book by Richard Scarry


“Rabbits have large families” (3)
“Maureen felt a stab of fear” (2)
“Dad talked about buying futures” (1)
In rabbits? That wasn’t clear…

Can three divergent books
Be joined in harmony?
Each must accept the others
— And a little absurdity.


Above is a partially “found” poem using lines from the pages from which I borrowed the pictures. Wikipedia says, “Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry (a literary equivalent of a collage)…

So two collages today!

Q is for Quirky

I often don’t know how to describe my collages, so I use the word quirky. How else could explain this odd conglomeration using a couple of dogs and a Dr. Seuss character?

from The New Century Dictionary, 1948, — a 2 volume set found in the free box at the Endicott library.

A quirk is a sudden twist. I was surprised to read that in the dictionary, because I think of quirks as “unique-nesses” — those things that make you you.

We currently have a cat that loves belly rubs. I consider that a quirk.

Last week our cat disappeared.

The first day, I didn’t think much of it. She’ll be back, I told myself.

But when I went for a walk, I scanned the ditches on either side of the road, just in case she had darted out in front of a car and met her demise.

The second day, I started mentally running through the list of predators in the vicinity. I hear coyotes howl at night. Do they like cats? My brother told me that large owls prey on cats. I hadn’t seen any large owls, but he said there were some in the area. Our neighbor once told us that foxes prey on cats. I know foxes live around here. I was pretty sure that the bald eagles prefer fish from the river, so I ruled them out — hoping I was right about that.

I walked the road again looking for our little black cat, calling her, looking in the fields for her — but the only black I saw were crows.

The third day came and I was worried. I asked my brother, didn’t we used to have cats that would disappear for a week at a time?

Ishibon (1967)

“Ishibon would go off two to three weeks,” he said.

Ishibon had been our first cat. I remembered Ishibon going off and coming back. I felt better.

A little.

But by the fourth day, I felt like I needed to brace Mary for the inevitable.

“If Piper doesn’t come back,” I told her, “we’ll need to get another cat to keep the mice at bay.”

“I don’t want another cat,” she said. “I want Piper.”

Piper, with all her little quirks, was our cat.

It was Good Friday, and I found myself thinking about Jesus’ disciples watching Jesus die on the cross. They had so hoped that He was the Messiah.

“There, there,” the Pharisees undoubtedly said. “We’ll get another Messiah.”

And one of the Marys would have replied, “I don’t want another Messiah. I want Jesus.”

Because for all His quirks — picking grain on the Sabbath and speaking with a Samaritan woman, all those times He behaved in unexpected ways, and then, at the end, to die like that — He WAS the Messiah.

The people simply couldn’t see it at the time.

If He had behaved like everybody else, He wouldn’t have been God.

I know I’m not saying it well, but the quirks made the Messiah.

Your quirks make you. My quirks make me.

And our quirky little cat returned on Saturday, an early Easter gift for us.

I think she wanted a belly rub.

Piper