Raise your hand now if you’re ready for Spring.

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Day after day, the weather has definitely grabbed the headlines.

And Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have ganged up on us again and again.

They have not discriminated on where to inflict their wrath.

Nope. It doesn’t matter what part of the USA you live in – today you are “it”.

The Big Chill continues here and has virtually eliminated the walking regimen as you must surrender to the elements. Walking these days is just a Catch-22 … either the sidewalks are clear but it is too brutally cold to walk, or, it is not sub-zero, but it is snowing like crazy.

I miss my regimen of springing out of bed to have breakfast, get some piddling things done in the house and then going out for a walk.

Instead, a ritual has replaced the regimen wherein I feel like Fred the Baker at Dunkin’ Donuts who sleepwalks from his bed straight out of the house into the cold and snow mumbling “time to make the donuts” … oh horrors, I have become that guy. These days the alarm goes off and I look at it as if I’ve never seen it before, while slamming down the buzzer and rolling over with a sneer. Who wants to leave the confines of the cozy bed, having trudged out day after day in this, the second coldest February on record?

Once again my friends in both Carolinas and Virginia got a day off from work today so they did not need to contend with the heavy snow and ice. Their Facebook walls groan with Wintry-like pics, as their pals in the cold-weather states commiserate and cluck our tongues, and, of course share their pain. I hope none of my pals gave up swearing or sweets for Lent as they muddle through the rest of this almost-freakish weather, because I’m sure they have succumbed to their respective downfalls by now.

I say let’s just bypass March and go straight to April.

Yup, the yeas have it.

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I went bare for 48 hours.

02-21-15

Well, it wasn’t because I hibernated like a bear (though I wish I could have in those subzero temps and nearly -30 wind chills we’ve had the past few days).

And … it wasn’t because I was hot and shucked off all my thermal layers and ran naked as a jaybird across the frozen tundra.

Nope.

None of those things.

The truth is that I went nearly 2 ½ days without accessing the internet or any social media.

It wasn’t by choice.

My internet connection was down.

Social media is very addicting . We titter over Twitter, and who doesn’t love chuckling over jokes? It is great perusing pics from back in the day posted on friends’ Facebook walls for TBT. There is no better opportunity to stay in touch with friends or family, especially if we are lame letter writers or despise long-winded phone conversations.

On Ash Wednesday morning I was reading comments on the “Click on Detroit” Facebook site about what people would give up for Lent nowadays. The graphic that accompanied the story had a variety of suggestions – alot of different words actually, like junk food, soda, swearing, sweets and all types of social media. Could you abandon social media and give up Twitter, Facebook or e-mail for the whole Lenten season which stretches some 40 days? I moved on to the next item on Facebook since I could not abandon e-mail and need to have internet access because I have worked from home the past six years. But, even if I didn’t work from home, I confess, sure … I’d miss the internet.

I have thought for a long time that we are way too dependent on social media. I use Facebook for chats with friends, but now I use it primarily to connect to 175 fellow “Patchies” – a group of e-pals, who, like me, either write blogs, columns, or have editorial responsibilities at Patch.com. We connect in a group and share ideas and links to our latest posts.

Internet is a must-have for me to remote into work. And we’ve been busy the past few weeks as my boss was leaving Wednesday morning to go out of town for five days. After he landed at the airport, he called me and said he had revised a 30-page time-sensitive document and would go to Staples and send a PDF of the revisions to me. I joked that perhaps he should have taken a book on the plane instead. Dutifully, I turned the computer on after the phone call – no internet. Well, we have a Plan “B” for when my router malfunctions – I rely on Ethernet cables to hard wire the laptop to the modem. Well, that works … as long as the modem works and I have an internet connection. I knew it was going to be a long evening.

Last April I got a new modem from my internet service provider and a new state-of-the-art router. I figured I was good to go for at least three or four years. Last Wednesday, I lost my connection for three hours because my ISP was having “issues in the neighborhood”. It was annoying but I dealt with it. Then this past Wednesday when it happened again, I made a quick call and the company confirmed there were “issues in the neighborhood”. Wryly, I mumbled to myself “is this going to be like Prince Spaghetti Day – an every-Wednesday occurrence?” I shut down my computer and came back long after the expected time for restoration of service. That dreaded bright yellow shield was still displayed in the connection bars hours after the estimated completion of service time.

Stubbornly, I stayed at the computer, hoping to will the internet to spring back to life. I began writing my next blog post, yet all the while my right eye was trained to the task bar waiting for the yellow shield to disappear. Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking and the hours were sliding away, with that project to be done languishing somewhere in cyberspace.

Finally, I did a diagnostic and knew I had to re-connect.

I trudged downstairs to do the usual fix-its … pull out all the plugs, count to 10, replace them and wait for the line of colors on the router and modem to start up like a string of lights on a Christmas tree. I held my breath and tapped my foot. All systems were go on the router … but, not so much on the modem where green lights blinked and flickered. Green for everything else in the world usually signifies “go”, but I needed orange lights. Not good. This modem has no reset button. Clearly, the modem was down for the count. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I raced back upstairs where a slew of phone calls then ensued – first to my boss to tell him the joyous news. The second call was to my ISP, where I, the angry customer, wanted to know why her new modem was no longer functioning now that “work in the neighborhood” was finished. I then semi-politely inquired if a ping might restore the modem so that its flashing orange lights would return and I’d know “all systems were go”.

Well, first we had to troubleshoot. Back-and-forth to the basement, where it was decided the ping to the modem did not resuscitate it and it was dead as a doornail. I sighed a few more times and headed back upstairs.

At midnight, we finished troubleshooting and I politely asked for the earliest appointment Thursday so that I could complete my deadline assignment, and, I again stressed the urgency of having my internet hook-up restored post-haste. “Ms. Linda” he began … “we can schedule you in between noon and two on Thursday and you will get a new modem. Now, can I interest you in a bundle?” “No” I barked, totally bypassing my manners and leaving any of the ladylike responses I was brought up to automatically mouth when asked a question, way behind in the dust. I replaced the receiver with a loud thud, thinking that the phone was the next thing to break, then I scurried off to bed.

When my tech arrived at the door on Thursday, the temperature and wind chills were dangerously low. I ushered him into the house and we discussed the weather as we went downstairs to the basement. He did his usual techy checks and turned to me and said “your upstream/downstream isn’t looking good here” … well, I wanted to quip that could be bad if I were a salmon, but kept that comment to myself.

Next he unpackaged a new modem. I spied that large, jet black modem, thinking it was the perfect fit for my over-sized Netgear Nighthawk router I had installed last Spring and it looked like a big brother to my spindly current modem which always tips over. He moved the new modem and cord near the register where the heat was pouring out after saying “it was so cold in the truck that the modem needs to heat up and I can’t get the cord to straighten out” … I started to say “well, we don’t want to have a kinky modem” but that sounded like some shady line out of the movie or book “50 Shades of Grey” so I cancelled that comment though it was on the tip of my tongue.

I watched his cold fingers as they fumbled with gizmos and gadgets and he tested this and that. He made notes on a tiny device, thumbs tapping furiously on the keyboard. Not being a texter myself, I marveled at the dexterity when surely his hands must’ve been very cold.

He explained as he went along, that he went through a process of elimination and then said “gotta check your wiring in the backyard – back in a bit”; he returned some twenty minutes later, with snow-encrusted pant legs and a beet red face, and announced “well, I rewired everything out back because those wires were in pretty bad shape, so I don’t know how you ever got a signal before at all” to which I nodded sagely, thinking to myself, this surely will be the fix.

After more diagnostics, he shook his head, however, and said “still not good – gotta go to the pole, back in 20 minutes” … I stayed downstairs, while 20 minutes turned into an hour. I saw his shadow in the window well and could hear his cleats going back and forth on the sidewalk. Finally, he emerged, redder in the face and through numb lips said “I couldn’t find anything wrong, but there is an outage – I’ll call it in as soon as my phone is unfrozen” whereupon he pointed to his personal phone and a work phone, similar in size, which were clapped together, their rubber edges frozen seemingly forever. He tried to pry them apart with all his might, and couldn’t, so I told him to stand under the ceiling heat register where his fingers and the phones could get unfrozen quickly.

He reported the outage and promised the problem would be repaired within two hours and I’d be back in business.

Well, that was good news and I shot back a wan smile, which was the best I could muster after the first day of “going bare”.

By Thursday night, there was still no internet. Another late-night call to the ISP who said to go unplug everything and she’d send a modem signal. Despite my protestations that I’d been there and done that already, I was told to “go back and do it again” … nothing.

She scheduled me for first thing Friday morning.

I parked myself, like a potted plant, near the phone at 7:45 a.m. My 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. window passed and no tech. I called – nothing had ever been scheduled. My blood began to boil, and it wasn’t just the furnace that was running non-stop as it was so cold outside.

At that point, I abandoned all ladylike mannerisms I’d every possessed and told my ISP that I had an assignment to get done and could wait no longer.

I was told Saturday morning was the next availability for a service call and that infuriated me. I called around, garnering alot of chatter and promises and the runaround for the next few hours. I made and received at least 20 calls over the course of the day Friday. I documented each person’s name that I spoke to and was mentally categorizing them into “very helpful”, “helpful” and “not so helpful” and I was starting to feel like Jack Lemmon’s character, George Kellerman, in “The Out of Towners”.

My second tech arrived at 5:30 p.m. He had to scramble underneath the dropped ceiling to find the wires, went back outside and examined the outside wires, then popped his head in the door and announced “going out to the pole – don’t know when I’ll be back”, so this time I headed back upstairs. Before the ordeal was over, he discovered there was a software glitch on the pole. He summoned a computer tech who turned on a floodlight as darkness had settled in. He was hoisted up in the bucket and fixed the problem in a matter of minutes.

Finally … I was back online, but only to be overwhelmed with a slew of work e-mails from my boss that had accrued while I was whiling away the hours in the pre-World Wide Web days. Can we live without the internet? I dunno, but on those days when there are big-time computer hiccups, I know I am willing to go back to the quill pen.

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Another Winter wallop – only this time, the South is sharin’ our pain.

02-17-16

Old Man Winter is kickin’ out the hits, more than the late DJs Gary Owens and Casey Kasem. But now the warm-weather states got a taste of Winter with ice and snow. My friend Evelyn who lives in Virginia, whom I mentioned in my post on Saturday, enjoyed a day off from work after Richmond got 8 inches of snow. She texted me, eager to show off her icicles which were lined up in a row and already starting to drip. All my school buddies who have moved to warmer climates posted photos on their respective Facebook walls to show the ice and snow on their decks and in and around their yards as well. Just the other day, a South Carolina pal spoke about her honeysuckle bush that had bloomed and the frogs that were already croaking in the nearby creek. I must admit I was jealous for that weather – but not for what they are dealing with now. Southeast Michigan enjoyed a weather break today – it got to 20 degrees! Just perfect for trotting out and grabbing yourself a fad-laden, wonderful-tasting paczki for Fat Tuesday if you were so inclined. Some people were lined up as early as 3:00 a.m. for these delectable goodies.

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Baby, it’s cold outside!

02-15-15

A week of walks has gone down the drain due to the relentless cold weather. However, I have calculated that all the trips I’ve made up and down the stairs washing little loads of laundry to warm the pipes, dashing around the house to ensure the faucets are dribbling out tiny trickles of warm water, and opening and closing the cupboard doors that hide all the pipes should surely count for at least a mile or more.

I’m thinking about my pals in the North East portion of the United States as they grit their teeth and deal with the fourth snowstorm in as many weeks … and, a blizzard to boot. However do they do it? I just went to “Google Images” to see what those heavy-duty beauty snow melters they are using in Boston look like since I keep hearing about them on the national news.

Incredibly, Jack Frost left his calling card on the inside of my steel side door this morning. There was a pattern of frost slowly climbing up from the bottom, despite my having put barriers nearby to thwart drafts.

I dashed out of the house, pausing for a nanosecond to glance at my neighbor Marge’s outdoor thermometer and saw that the arrow hovered between -10 and 0. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

I ran the car, which started up quickly thanks to the new battery, then quickly exited the garage to escape the exhaust fumes that threatened to choke me. I slipped around the other side of the house to check the furnace pipe for icicles. The neighborhood at 9:00 a.m. looked just about as cold and barren as Siberia – the only activity was the smoke curling out of the chimneys and the dancing shadows that were made since the sun was up and out. That few minutes in which I had to remove my heavy gloves to lock up the garage door left my fingers feeling frigid and I beat it as quick as a bunny back into the house.

Through chattering teeth and with my frozen fingers wrapped around a steaming cup of English Toffee Cappuccino, I acknowledged how grateful I am for a warm home in which to hang my hat. Speaking of hats and caps, I’ve reverted to the Sherpa cap due to this extreme cold. Hey, it looks funny but it warms my ears and my head and rests just so on my eyeglasses.

The one thing I miss about wearing contact lenses, is how your eyeglasses steam up when you get back indoors. You either wait a couple of minutes for them to clear or you need to swipe ‘em off with a paper towel. Why doesn’t someone come up with the equivalent of windshield wipers for eyeglasses to use in the cold weather?

As I was sipping my hot drink my fingers finally started to thaw out, courtesy of that oversized mug, and, happily the gears in my brain started to rev up once again. That got me wondering what the Winter equivalent of “Dog Days of Summer” would be? We all bemoan those sticky, hot days in August … but, oh how we would love to be complaining about that sickening sticky heat now – of course we all say we won’t complain one bit about the hot weather … but you know come August we will. Stay warm everyone.

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Valentine wishes and warm fuzzies.

02-14-15

Well, you couldn’t ask for better weather for Valentine’s Day on this frigid cold February 14th – it’s the perfect excuse to cuddle up with your main squeeze to stay warm.

Maybe you’ll even go a little crazy and wear woolen socks to bed. (And then again, maybe not ….)

I have a friend who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She e-mailed me yesterday, all excited about a package that was just delivered at the law office where she works. No – it wasn’t a dozen roses from her husband. It wasn’t even a gift of delectable Shari’s Berries. It was a box filled with skeins of alpaca wool. That fuzzy wool was a present to herself, long on back order, since she visited an alpaca farm last Fall during that City’s annual Fiber Festival.

Evelyn’s hobby is knitting as you may have guessed. She knits non-stop every chance she gets, trying to make up for lost time for the 50-plus years or so that she never-ever picked up a pair of knitting needles. Now it seems she doesn’t want to put them down. Felted purses are her specialty and she even has a small outlet to sell them, but she knits clothing as well. She is good-hearted and will make prayer shawls for those in need at her church, or knitted caps for chemo patients at the local hospital.

Evelyn was excited about the arrival of the wool, since she said the weather in Richmond was conducive for staying indoors this weekend – after all, it was going to be below the freezing mark. Hmmmm. I didn’t want to say that our temps were going to be sub-zero with a -30 wind chill, because, quite frankly … that might sound like I was bragging. I sure didn’t think this brutal weather was anything worth bragging about, so I just said – “that’ll be nice” and let it go at that. I wasn’t about to burst her bubble, because – boy was she excited about this alpaca wool. Back in the day, my mom would be equally excited when she found wool in a color or texture that she really liked and she’d have to find a pattern right away for it. She loved to knit and churned out baby outfits, sweaters and hat and scarf set for as long as I remember, but she knit one afghan too many and ended up with carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, so that was the demise of her needlework.

Now, I could’ve even spun a yarn and told Evelyn all about a worrisome woolen, but I kept that fuzzy fiber saga to myself, but I will share that funny little Valentine’s Day tale here with you instead.

I cannot help but think of my mother as her birthday was on Valentine’s Day. She would have turned 89 years old today. Her grade school picture above was taken in the 1930s. I chose this photo as I like how the photographer enhanced the picture to give her reddish lips and cheeks when she was just a mere schoolgirl.

I think when people have a holiday birthday, they often get done out. Their special day gets taken out of the limelight in favor of “the big holiday”. And, so it was with my mom as well. I don’t recall my father ever treating her with candy or flowers on this day specially geared for sweethearts – perhaps it might have been a perfunctory peck on the cheek and wishing her “happy birthday” and handing her a present, but that was about it.

So, when I started working, I tried to make her Valentine’s Day birthday just a little more special. She really wasn’t much of a chocoholic, so I’d stop at the Fanny Farmer Candy Shoppe downtown to buy a large bag of heart-shaped cherry gumdrops every year for as long as I can remember.

For Mom’s birthday, I usually bought her jewelry or clothing, but one year I was shopping at Fisher’s, a small women’s clothing store which eventually went out of business. I saw a beautiful raspberry-colored cashmere sweater on the rack. Luckily, the only one left was just her size. It was so soft that I hated to turn it loose to the cashier to ring it up. I bought some special hearts-n-flowers wrapping paper to make the gift more special.

Well, she just loved that sweater with its loosely tied bow in front – first she held it up to admire it, then slipped that sweater over her head and modelled it in front of the mirror, all the while turning this way and that. I saw her keep scratching a little on her neck, then she loosened the softly tied bow at the front and said “the furnace kicked on – this sweater is really warm and I’ve got to take it off.”

In the next breath, she insisted I wear it to work that day to look festive for Valentine’s Day, before she “stretched it out” and it wouldn’t fit right on me then. That little remark of “stretching it out” was a longstanding joke between us. Whenever she got a new sweater, she’d always let me wear it when it was brand new, otherwise she would stretch it out too much in front with her ample chest. I, however, was quite deficient in that category, so I therefore got first “dibs” to wear any of her brand-new sweaters.

I picked a plain navy blue pleated skirt to go with that raspberry-red sweater and added a few gold heart scatter pins and my heart-shaped earrings, then, feeling fully decked out and very festive for the holiday, I put my hat and coat on and hurried to catch the bus so I wouldn’t arrive late at work.

Upon arriving at work, I shrugged out of my coat, smugly thinking how festive I looked for Valentine’s Day, and, being the very vain young woman I was in those days, I hoped I had enough time to prance around and show off that beautiful sweater before I had to sit down and start working.

But, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a trail of pinky-red fuzz travelling down the front of my skirt. Then, soon thereafter there was another conglomeration of that funky fuzz near the hemline. When I tried to pluck it off, there was more furry frustration as little hairs from my sweater sleeve quickly glommed onto the navy blue skirt’s nubby fibers.

I was getting annoyed as it seemed I could merely stand still and those festive-colored fibers were floating around like delicate dandelion puffs that go to seed and go airborne, landing on everything in sight.

I hightailed it to my desk, jerked open the deep bottom drawer and took out the large sticky lint roller that I kept in there. Hurriedly I slicked off nearly half a roll of that flypaper-like substance to attract the fuzzy fibers, which, by now, were flying fast and furiously around me the more I exerted myself.

And … itchy! That sweater’s fibers soon began to make my neck and arms itch like crazy. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my clothes, and maybe out of my skin as well.

But that wasn’t the worst of it ….

Clearly those furry little fibers were about to become the bane of my existence when one landed in my eye and quickly embedded itself behind one of my hard contact lenses. I was already fitful enough over this fiber fiasco, but soon I was sporting one eye and one cheek streaked with black splotches from mascara since my one eye was tearing so badly. Feverishly, I tried to find and remove the offending sweater hair that had landed between my eyeball and the contact lens. If you’ve ever worn hard contact lenses and gotten a piece of fuzz lodged in your eye, you can surely share my pain. It would cut like a knife ‘til you could retrieve the fuzz. Ow!!

I grabbed a mirror and plopped down on my black wool desk chair to remove the lens. As I hunched over my desk, one of the secretaries came by, patted my shoulder and asked if I was okay. Her hand came away with raspberry tinted fibers just as the words “what in the world is all over your desk chair?” came out of her mouth. I turned my black-streaked face around and immediately saw my chair was covered from top to bottom with raspberry-colored angora fibers. I growled back that I was “okay kinda sorta” then very grudgingly slipped on a pair of spare eyeglasses I kept in a desk drawer, all the while wishing I had a spare set of clothes at work at well.

I finished off the last sticky squares of the lint roller and cast it aside and I knew I had to now resort to my scotch tape dispenser on my desk as I scrambled to just deal with the fibers which seemed to float and dance around me, in a kind of raspberry aura as I walked down the hall.

It was certainly one long day and one of the most-miserable I have ever spent at work. I couldn’t wait to get home and shed the sweater and rid myself of the pinky-red halo that seemed to envelop me all Valentine’s Day long. I removed the sweater and said “here” and handed it over and proceeded to tell my tale of woe. Mom said “well, maybe I’ll just keep it for special occasions, do you think?”

I know for a fact that sweater never saw the light of day again.

Warm and fuzzy moments – sharin’ the love by sharin’ a sweater would’ve been an idea better left on paper … that time anyway.

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Alphabet soup.

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The ideas for this post have been simmering on a back burner in my noggin for about a month now.

That’s because I had decided I really should commemorate the second anniversary of my WordPress blog “Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy” which I began on February 11, 2013.

As to today’s post, I had a few ideas in mind and several catchy headlines as well. I debated – shall I entitle it “Words with Friends” or “Noodling Around” ? Well, I finally settled on “Alphabet Soup” because eating Campbell’s Alphabet Soup was one of the first ways I learned to create words. The rest is just history.

Before I ever walked into kindergarten, I had several years of schooling under my belt, courtesy of my parents – mostly my mom. I don’t remember there ever being a school program called preschool per se back in the late 50s. I know I never attended preschool; I started kindergarten at age five in September 1961.

But my mom taught me a wealth of information about the three Rs long before I started my formal education via daily afternoon reading, writing and math sessions.

As to readin’, well – both my parents were avid readers, and I would sit alongside them on a small chair, legs straight out in front as they didn’t yet touch the ground. My head would be bent over while reading one of my “Golden Books” which I kept in my book basket next to my chair, while my folks would be immersed in a newspaper or a paperback. Growing up it was a little like being in a library sometimes in the living room at our house.

As to writin’, Mom expanded my vocabulary by writing out a daily word list every afternoon. I had to learn that group of words and how to spell them. Sometimes she’d make it even tougher and I’d have to learn synonyms or antonyms for each word on my vocabulary and spelling list.

And, it was my mom that really readied me for school by teaching me ‘rithmetic by using matchsticks or an abacus, and … occasionally, even candy-covered chocolates called “Smarties”, to learn math fundamentals.

There was clearly no rest for the weary.

But her diligence paid off once I started school. I was reading and writing above my grade level and I have my mom to thank for that.

As to words – even though I like throwing an unusual word in a post every so often, I am not as committed to learning new vocabulary words as my boss. Being a wordsmith has been a hobby of his since his youth when his father forced him and his brothers to memorize pages out of “The Oxford English Dictionary”. To this day, Robb goes out of his way to use the most arcane and even archaic words in his writing and speech.

I like the Merriam-Webster site to learn new words and take their word quizzes. Sometimes I’ll shoot over to that site and give it a whirl when I have a few minutes, or, I like to check out their trending word of the day to see if I know the definition.

At year-end, alot of organizations compile and circulate lists of words . I get a kick out of perusing the year’s most popular, or overused and abused, or outrageous words.

I usually pick up a new word or two from my college alma mater, Wayne State University, whose WSU Word Warriors annually circulates their chosen list of words that should be re-introduced into our spoken and written language. For example, I learned that one of my favorite pastimes was to “obambulate”. Well “obambulate” is something I try to do as much as possible and document it in this forum. Hint … it has nothing to do with our 44th president. It simply means to walk about.

The Word Warriors suggested another word, which I’m dying to use, but haven’t had the occasion yet. That word is “flapdoodle”, which is a fun word meaning nonsense (though it sounds more like a surly rooster). It’s kind of hard to insert “flapdoodle” into a conversation around the proverbial water cooler. Maybe it is true that you can teach an old dog new tricks … if you become an opsimath, then you will study and learn new things in your golden years.

The most I learned about new words, English or otherwise, was when I studied French through the years. Immersed in a foreign language, I learned alot about our own English language, especially grammar, and I had a class where we spoke no English at all for two semesters. I hardly remember much French now though – you really have to use it on a regular basis and besides … I never got the hang of trilling my Rs.

Alot of new words are to be gleaned by reading. I used to read a book a week back when I commuted to school and to work in Detroit by bus for some three decades. I was a literature minor in college and I also took the bus while attending school, so reading and riding were synonymous for me.

Now that e-readers and their digital libraries are so popular today, turning the pages of a real book in your hand may one day be a distant memory. It is difficult now to even remember the joy of being in a book-of-the-month club, and the privileges of getting best sellers “hot off the press”. I once had a co-worker who belonged to Doubleday book club and she ordered hard-cover books to arrive at her home as soon as they were published. I think she was either a speed reader or she just immersed herself so completely into a book that she would not tear herself away from it until she reached the last page. With today’s e-readers, it seems incomprehensible to people that they would anxiously wait on the mailman to deliver a hot new bestseller to their door. My co-worker Debbie prided herself on her extensive hard-cover library. My mom and I subscribed to alot of magazines at that time, so we exchanged these for a read of each of Debbie’s hard-cover books.

Now that I’m not riding the bus, and working from home, I’ve fallen way behind in my reading. I’ve let all the magazine subscriptions lapse … except AARP. I cancelled the newspaper after my mom passed away as I had never read the paper – she would read it cover to cover daily. I even tried the e-edition, but having my eyes darting from side-to-side to read the pdf format was too much effort. I don’t even get the local paper anymore. Instead I get my news tidbits on the all-news radio station and the rest of the news stories from the national or local internet sites.

By not reading as much printed matter anymore, it made me wonder how I would keep my vocabulary “up” when I transitioned from working to retirement. But, since I started my blog two years ago, I’ve written 525 posts to date. I often muse how I have come up with that much chatter; I guess I’m certainly not at a loss for words.

I’ve learned alot of words and their meanings since writing a blog. In fact, some words, expressions or phrases that I THOUGHT I KNEW, it turns out I was badly mistaken. I might have misspoken many times through the years. Oops!! I only thought I was using the word correctly beforehand. Thus, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary has become my friend so I ensure I’m using the proper word, or, occasionally to fact check something that just doesn’t look right. Occasionally I even check out “Urban Dictionary” – there I often find I am waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off base and have to abandon my chosen word (much as I like it) and find another word.

My friend Marge recently got a new dog – a Chihuahua mix. I quipped to her that I had to look up the word “Chihuahua” in the dictionary to ensure that the spellcheck did not go wacky and give it an off-the-wall spelling when I wrote her an e-mail about her dog Woody. I said “when you’re young people encourage you to look up how to spell words in the dictionary … query: how can you do that if you don’t have a clue how to spell it?”

This blog has been a real learning experience for me – from my fledgling efforts to the longer posts I write like today’s. Who knew all those years ago after Mom would say “look at your spoon Linda – can you form a word?” That *&^% soup got cold but I learned alot of new vocabulary words that way back in the day.

As to the soup aspect, as I said this blog post idea had been simmering for a while. I added some words, and thoughts along the way – now it’s finished. Sit down a spell and I hope you enjoy it.

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Me, myself and I + one.

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Today began a new era for this wanderer – I have a walking partner besides just my shadow.

My friend and neighbor Marge’s daughter has just returned to Michigan after spending a year and a half in Phoenix where the warm and sunny days make it easy to enjoy a year-round walking regimen.

Kim was born and raised in Michigan, so she is familiar with the Winters here in “The Mitten”. After she settled in, she was eager to resume her walking regimen before having to start from square one again in the Spring to avoid shin splints from overdoing it.

So, off we went … two souls, traversing the snowy streets and braving the cold to get a little exercise, when we both could have been fast asleep in our cozy beds in our respective homes.

Yesterday’s post reflected how the signs of Spring, and even Summer, were lurking in the aisles at Meijer. Just the sight of the bright-yellow and green Miracle-Gro canisters and the Burpee burpless cuke seed packages had me hankering for the long, sun-filled days of Summer. In reality, these Summery items taunt us since unfortunately here we are simply existing day-to-day, immersed in a snowy and frigid February.

I was eager to show Kim my favorite walking place, so as we headed out with no particular destination in mind, we decided Council Point Park was a good choice. Sadly, our trip there, however, was a reminder of how the Winter languishes on and the Park was looking a little unloved and not so accommodating for its visitors.

For all our efforts, after picking our way around the neighborhood’s slick ice, pitted sidewalks and slushy streets, we were greeted by huge masses of snow, but, undaunted by all those frozen crystals, we looked at one another and said “let’s do it” – so, in tandem we marched on, high-steppin’ over nearly two-foot high snow piles where the wind had swirled and whirled the white stuff into snow dunes.

I figured at least the parking lot would be plowed and we could walk some loops there, unencumbered by snowdrifts, ice or cars … but the parking lot had a plethora of snow too.

It was very pretty, but not so practical for walking. Well, silly us, because we thought it would be very easy to follow the footsteps of those who tread there before us. Well, we were sadly mistaken. The longer we walked in the deep snow, where the trail would usually be, the harder the journey became, and we were getting winded (especially yours truly … ahem … the more senior of the duo).

We ended up surrendering and turning around, to double-back over our same tracks made just a few minutes earlier, muttering from frozen lips that we wouldn’t make that mistake again any time soon. “See ya in March or April” I called out as we huffed and puffed, clambering over the remaining high snow banks, before we eventually headed home. While we await better weather, pictured above is my collage of the gateway to Council Point Park during each of the four seasons. I’m even ready for the onslaught of dandelions. Well, a few more calendar pages to turn, and days to “X” out and suddenly we’re there.

We managed to rack up three miles and came home needing to have a second breakfast, and maybe even a nap, before accomplishing anything meaningful on our respective Saturday agendas.

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