Monthly Archives: August 2012

Monday’s words – G

Gee, it’s great to be here. G is a pretty good letter, it has more than one sound in and of its own, it can be combined with other letters to make even more amazing sounds and it’s a great start to some neat words.

One of the things I like about doing this little “series” of mine is that once I start trying to pinpoint just which words I would like to include as my favourites for the week I come across all sorts of other words (not necessarily of the current letter) that I either didn’t know at all (!) or that I recognized and used under only one definition when there may indeed be others. Kind of like the internet .. you look up one thing, you read about it, you follow a link to another page, you find something else interesting, you open another browser window since your current one already has 12 tabs and before you know it the school is calling wondering why you haven’t picked your child up for lunch. Words are like that for me.

Some of my favourite G words are quite common: gamut, gargantuan, glide, grace, giblets, gratuitous, guru and gazebo. Some are less so: gormless and ginnel. Some are downright uncommon: gamomania, gamophobia, gynarchy and gibus.

gamut — the complete range or scope of something. Often used in relation to emotions or feelings: Today his feelings ran the gamut of human emotions; he awoke after a bad night’s sleep feeling lost and desperate but by lunchtime his spirits had buoyed to a lightly buzzing feeling of well-being; dinner with friends followed by an evening out left him manically happy.

gargantuan — of immense size, volume, or capacity; gigantic!  I mean, gigantic is pretty good in its own right, even sounds great — but gargantuan!! Sounds even better. Seems so much bigger than gigantic. Even bigger than ginormous. Seriously. Big.

glide — I love this word because I like gliding. To move smoothly and continuously as if without effort. Gliding through water. Gliding on ice. Gliding or soaring through the air. When I picture gliding through water, it is always underwater and I’m seeing how far I can get without any kicking or strokes. Gliding on ice is fabulous, whether on skates or just in your boots … you push as fast and as hard as you can and then you just slide, glide as far as you can. Gliding or soaring — my dad was a glider pilot, he started flying when he was a teenager; all three of us kids went with him at various times when we were growing up. It’s an amazing feeling, better than any roller coaster. I really want to take BoyGenius up some day, I think he’ll love it. I love watching gulls and hawks and vultures (other birds, too) as they glide effortlessly from one thermal lift to another, have even been known to pull off the road just to observe, always with a smile on my face.

grace — both a noun and a verb. I enjoy both. There are definitions for grace (noun) that refer only to christian theology, implying that the only true meaning is the one that says grace is a free gift from God, unmerited divine assistance. I prefer elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action; refinement of movement. All of which can be a gift from God, if that’s what you believe. I also enjoy the idea of the  Three Graces of mythology. As a verb, grace is a beautiful word: to honour or favour; to give beauty, elegance or charm to (see the Three Graces of mythology!).

giblets — The liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of a chicken or other fowl, usually removed before the bird is cooked, and often used to make gravy. There isn’t really much to say about this word, I just love the sound of it. And I love me some good chicken or turkey gravy. 🙂

gratuitous — can be something good, can be something bad. I like using it both ways, I have no shame. Given or received without cost or obligation, without return or recompense. This is a good thing. Uncalled for, lacking good reason, unwarranted. This is a bad thing. Gratuitous violence in films comes to mind. Bad thing. Good word.

guru — (in Hinduism and Buddhism) A spiritual teacher, esp. one who imparts initiation; a teacher and guide in spiritual and philosophical matters; a trusted counselor and adviser, a mentor; a recognized leader in a field. Whether you see this is a spiritual sense or not, I think it’s a gift to be able to find a guru. I also love the sound of the word. I think I would love to be seen as a guru. Wouldn’t you? To me it imparts a sense of wisdom, grace, calm; being a stabilizing force in someone’s life while teaching them to fly on their own.

gazebo. I want one.

gazebo — a small open-sided structure, freestanding, with a roof. Provides shade and some shelter. I want one. Someday. I love saying the word gazebo.

gormless — dull or unintelligent. Not used very much in North America. I watch a lot of british television .. gormless gets used a lot.

ginnel —  a narrow passageway between buildings. Also a british term, we’d be more likely to call it an alley, but I really like the way ginnel sounds (hard g).

gamomania and gamophobia — I’ve got to admit I didn’t know these words before yesterday. I like them. gamomania: a passion or obsession for making odd or extravagant (or bizarre) marriage proposals. gamophobia: the fear of getting married or being in a relationship. Nowadays people usually just call it “fear of commitment.” They should use gamophobia or say the person in question is gamphobic. Sounds way better.

gynarchy — government or rule by women. Used most often these days to describe the social structure of some insects (wasps, bees, ants) where the only the female parent takes part in establishing the colony. I think it’s one of those words that should be used quite often but would probably be misused more often than not.

Finally, gibus — I just found this word .. it is apparently a hat worn to the opera. If any “event hat” should have a name of its own, I think an opera hat would be it.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have favourite words that start with G. And for a little extra enlightenment on grace, give a listen to this Coldplay song. It’s a favourite of mine as well.

Categories: words | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

the needle shot

The needle shot. That’s BoyGenius’ term for the euthanasia of our cats. He has been through 3 needle shots in the last 4 or 5 years and now we are facing our latest. Schmu (short for Schmusekatze … or snuggle cat) is just shy of 19 yrs and is rapidly slowly approaching the end of her beautiful life. She’s been a great cat, still is, really.

Schmu and her magnificent tail.

Schmu has been with me since she was about 4 weeks old, having been left on a co-worker’s front porch with no note, no blanket, no family history .. just a small cardboard box. One of “my” cats (that’s a whole ‘nother story) had recently had a litter and we were just at the end of getting her 6 kittens adopted to good homes, so I said ‘sure, I’ll take her,’ when another co-worker who was going to take this little orange fluff-ball in was unable as he was about to jet off on vacation. She arrived, Minou sniffed her a tiny bit, figured she was good enough and promptly allowed Schmu to nurse. Schmu got a mom and Minou got a little extra time to feel needed.

This little orange baby soon became everyone’s darling. She has been a “neighbourhood” cat everywhere we have lived, with many people offering to keep her whenever we moved. She has twice, in two cities, been christened Buttercup by little girls who fell in love with her. She knew my very first cat ever, Schnucki, and my brother BlueEyes. Schmu crawled up my mother’s arm and curled around her neck for a nap while my family was celebrating my 29th birthday, the last one I would have with BlueEyes. My mom has never really been a cat person, but gets along just fine with Schmu.

When Hardworker and I moved to our present town, into our current house, Schmu ingratiated herself to the neighbours (almost all of them). She would head into one neighbour’s garage and wind herself around his legs while he worked on his table saw, finishing one project or another. He was amazed that she wasn’t frightened off. She would terrorize this same neighbour’s cat every morning at 5:30 by sitting outside and taunting staring at this big mean indoor cat (we wondered for years just what meeting she was late to every morning!); she did head into their house a couple of times, just to see how far she could take it. One Monday afternoon while I was on the phone with my mom, there was a knock at the door. An elderly couple stood on my front step; the little old lady had Schmu in her arms. “Is this your cat? .. The neighbours at the end of the street said she lived here.” We had been away for the weekend and Schmu had refused to come in before we left. Upon our return on Sunday evening, we were a little bit surprised, but not overly concerned when she didn’t come running home right away. Apparently, she had been with this couple, around the corner from us, all weekend. She visited them often, they said, and had her own little spot in their living room. They were very happy as they had fairly recently lost both of their elderly cats. Schmu kept checking in with them for the next year or so, until the wife had died and the husband sold their house. When I was working and commuting by public transit Schmu would walk me to the bus stop on the corner of our street every morning. Remarkably (or not so much for her) she would be waiting at the same corner every evening when I got off my bus from the train station. I thought it was so sweet how she knew when I would be home and that she would come meet my bus. “She must really love me and miss me terribly,” I thought. One day I drove to the train station instead of taking the bus. As I pulled up to the house somewhat earlier than my usual arrival time, Schmu came walking down the driveway, meowing her apparent irritation at my untimely appearance. By the time I had gotten out of the car, she was gone. I looked around, and saw a woman petting her and chatting with her at the end of the driveway. “Is this your cat?” she asked. I said yes, and told the woman her name. “She’s so sweet,” she said. “She meets my bus every afternoon and walks me home.” So much for my ego.

a boy and his cat

When BoyGenius was a couple of months old, I walked into the master bedroom one day and noticed an odd smell. Not a good one. A little investigation led me to the cats sleeping on the bed and a little further checking revealed a large open sore at the base of Schmu’s tail, on the underside. She hadn’t said a word. I took her to the vet and in my post-pregnancy hormonal haze listened while the vet explained that the best option was to amputate her tail, load her up with antibiotics and hope for the best. Or we could always leave the tail, do the rest and hope for the best. Problem being that where the injury was, there isn’t any flesh to fill in, just skin and it was long gone. I cried, I called HardWorker and cried some more. “She loves her tail, she plays with it all the time!” We have open-riser stairs and Schmu would lay on a step, curl her tail around from the back and act surprised when the tip of it showed up in front of her, then proceed to chase it around and around. Without ever falling. (Our boy cat Riley could never master this .. he came up from the basement in embarrassment a few times, having fallen through the upper stairs.) The tail came off, she was fine. She got a new “bad” rep in the neighbourhood — ‘don’t mess with her, she gave up her tail to survive!’

For a few months now she has been yelling at us instead of meowing. Deaf as a post. She can’t even seem to feel the vibrations of our footsteps anymore. She still gets up (and gets us up) in the wee hours of the morning, wanting “breakfast” and to get outside. Breakfast is in quotes because she won’t eat more than the tip of a forkful of wet food at a time .. if you put more in her bowl it just goes to waste even when she returns to it in a matter of seconds. She won’t touch it again. She loves her treats but it’s the same story: if you put too many out they will sit and sit … until you pretend to be putting new ones out while you’re just re-piling the leftovers. She can only pick the treats up off the carpet, not from a dish or the tile floor. She cannot sit comfortably, walks very stiffly and loses her balance quickly if she shakes her head. She will no longer allow us to brush her (something she used to love) and is unable to groom herself properly so her lovely soft fur is matted in clumps, which she will pull off and eat. She wants to go out, steps outside and turns right around, crying at the door to come in.  Once in she looks around, wonders how she got there and turns to go back out, then starts the entire process again. She has started to miss the litter box every now and then, or just ignore it completely sometimes.

It has taken me months to make the call. I have an appointment tomorrow at 5pm. My heart is heavy and my head hurts.

all images in this post are copyrighted 2012 – just another s-a-h-mother

today’s post is brought to you by the letter C
Categories: family, friendship | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Monday’s words – F

There aren’t that many F words that easily spring to mind as favourites. I’m not sure why.

The ones I do like best include fervent, facilitate, fate, facet, feral, feisty, fescue, familiar, façade and my new favourite word: floccinaucinihilipilification(!). Shall we talk about these words a bit?

fervent ~ having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling or enthusiasm; hot, burning or glowing. I do love this word. Anything that has to do with warmth or intensity of spirit is pretty cool in my books.

facilitate ~ to make easier or less difficult; to help forward; to assist the progress of a person. To facilitate something, to be a facilitator … not always a good thing but I like the part about assisting the progress of a person (shouldn’t we all try to do that?).

fate ~ what do I really need to say about fate? There are many aspects to this word, and while they all have something to do with predetermination or destiny, my favourite definition is the one that speaks to “the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events.” I believe in fate. There are things that have happened to me that defy any other explanation; there are people I have met who I must have been fated to meet. I do think we are in control of our own lives, or at least most aspects of them, but there are certainly examples of fate all around us; sometimes no matter what choices we make, which paths we choose to take, we come to the same finish line.

facet ~ an aspect or a phase; one of the cut surfaces of a gemstone — or indeed one aspect of it. (I like the word aspect as well .. even though it didn’t make it to my A list.) When I hear the word facet I immediately make the jump to many-faceted. I do enjoy that there are multiple parts to so many things.

feral ~ existing in a natural state; wild … or having reverted to the wild state from domestication. We had a feral cat once. William wasn’t just a stray. He showed up on our deck one day and our own cats just kind of welcomed him into the fold. With any other wandering visitors they all hissed and howled, claiming their property rights; with William they were quiet and accepting and downright playful. They seemed to know that he hadn’t ever had a home. He took months of convincing, saucers of warm milk on the deck, a doghouse insulated with an old down jacket (it was winter, after all) and finally came in for very quick visits. It was funny to see his reaction to the ceiling in the living room and the feel of carpet under his toes. He did eventually adopt us as his family but stayed pretty true to his wildness until the end — about 10 years later. ♥

feisty ~ full of spirit and pluck; showing or having exuberance and determination … of course there is always the other side: quarrelsome, touchy or aggressive. I enjoy feisty people — and they can be on either side of the definition. To me it’s all about standing up for yourself or others, either way.

fescue ~ as in the grass, which is a variety often used in lawns and pastures … but more importantly this: a pointer, as a straw or slender stick, used to point out the letters in teaching children to read. I love this word for the way it sounds and I love the idea that the teacher’s pointer actually has a special name other than “pointer.” I wonder how many primary teachers know that?

familiar ~ I like the thought that one might have a familiar (a spirit embodied in an animal meant to attend to or guard a person); it seems like a natural sort of thing even though it’s associated with witchcraft and wizardry or even demons. As for this word’s other definition, I do feel very complete and at ease when I am familiar with something or someone.

façade ~ I don’t like when this term can be used to describe something negatively, as in a false front or something deceptive, but I do love the true architectural use of façade: the front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one; any face of a building given special architectural treatment. I love when the façade of an old building can be kept and incorporated into a new design instead of the entire original building being torn down to make way for the new. I love ornate doorways and window treatments and stonemasonry that has survived through the ages and is allowed to continue to shine.

floccinaucinihilipilification ~ The act or habit of describing or regarding something as worthless. Apparently it’s the longest non-technical word in the english language. If you go here you’ll be able to hear it pronounced. It’s not often used in “real” speech but it does exist and I like it just for that.

F is for friends who do things together …


So there you have it them, my F words. Of course there are others: family, friendship, fabulous, feelings .. or even SpongeBob’s favourite F word “FUN.” But those are words that everybody knows. Mine are maybe not.

Categories: words | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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