Can you think of a word in modern English that rhymes with ‘bulb?’ I’ll wait. Can you think of one? No?

Well—-surprise—surprise! You’re struggling because there isn’t one! Bulb is a word with a long history: Greek–>Latin–>French–>English…but it doesn’t have a rhyming partner.

Book #19–The Dictionary of Difficult Words

Yesterday, I finished a week-long training in Arlington, VA. and two of my participants approached me at the end of the day to chat with me, and to give me a gift.

They gave me a book called, ‘The Dictionary of Difficult Words,’ because they thought I would love it—they were right! Even more lovely was the hand-written thank you card that accompanied it. Their words really touched me—it’s nice being thanked and appreciated!

Marsha & Maria–thank you so much for thinking of me!

I read the book cover-to-cover this morning and I really enjoyed it! As promised, it’s filled with lots & lots of difficult words. I can tell this will be a book that I revisit many times!

Kenspeckle (adjective)–

“If something is kenspeckle, it’s easy to recognize or easy to see.”

Structured Word Inquiry Institute with Pete Bowers—

This week I attended the Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) Institute which was hosted by the Nueva School in San Mateo, CA for five days.

I hear you asking, “What is Structured Word Inquiry?”

The school’s website offers the following description—
“Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is a scientific investigation of words: how word parts, structure, origin, and history over time come together to tell the story of what words mean, how words are connected, and how they are spelled.”

I learned so much! For example, I learned that morphemes can’t be pronounced until they are within a word. In isolation, they need to be spelled orally. I also learned SWI is accessible to all learners—-Pre-K through adults. My brain was stretched all week, and it felt so empowering to learn so many new things in such a short period of time.

I really hope that I can attend again!

Nueva School—San Mateo, CA


This popped up on my Facebook memory wall today—

I never knew that there was such a thing called, Ambergris, but now I want to find some! Floating gold! I just read a story about a man in England who found a mass of Ambergris on his local beach. Well, his dog found it, but who’s going to argue that part.

Ambergris is whale vomit, specifically from a Sperm Whale, that has floated around the sea for years in the sun. The resulting product looks like a rock but has a more waxy feel to it. The find is extremely rare and very valuable. Although somewhat disgusting in nature, a chemical change happens that produces a very desirable aroma when aged over time. Ambergris is used in expensive perfume, such as Channel No. 5.

Can you imagine the following exchange: “Darling what are you wearing? It smells delightful!” The woman smiles and replies, “Whale vomit. Isn’t it divine?”

The man’s walk on the beach will produce a huge financial pay off for him–it is worth tens of thousands of dollars per pound! The next time you’re walking the surf, be on the look out for a yellowish-gray “rock” with a funky smell. It will pay for for your child to go to college or if your past that stage, the dream car you’ve always wanted!

A Sweet Interjection! Wow!

For those of you of a certain age, you probably remember learning about interjections from watching ‘School House Rock’ on Saturday mornings when you were growing up.

Oh! Some of you don’t know what an interjection is? Let me help you—according to dictionary.com, an interjection is
the utterance of a word or phrase expressive of emotion; the uttering of an exclamation.

Yes! Yeah! Rats! Oops! Yuck!

After teaching about interjections in class this past week, one of my participants asked if she could share a story that she had just heard. Of course, I wanted to hear it, as I was curious about how it connected to what I had just taught.

She told us that there was an orchestra concert last Sunday in Boston. Just as the final notes of Mozart’s, “Masonic Funeral Music” echoed throughout the quiet hall, a young child’s voice split through the silence, exclaiming, “Wow!”

The audience giggled and then burst into wild applause. In the days following the concert, the orchestra made an effort to find the boy. They wanted to give him a recording of the concert, and to give him the opportunity to meet the conductor.

The story was reported on the news, and the boy was quickly identified. Much to everyone’s surprise, they found out that he is on the autistic spectrum, and is primarily non-verbal. His grandfather was quoted as saying, “I can count on one hand the number of times that [he’s] spontaneously ever come out with some expression of how he’s feeling.”

His reaction to the song touched everyone who witnessed it. It was a simple interjection, that meant so much!

Listen here…

Book #15–The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Book#15 was a quick, but enjoyable read. I was especially fond of the dedication, which I included below. In addition to reading the message, make sure to enlarge the picture so you can see the texture of the paper. THIS is one of the reasons why I love books so much—the rich paper just makes me happy. The second reason—the simple joy of turning the pages. Electronic books will never provide that feeling.

According to dictionary.com
biophilia—a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms. The rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms.

Book #14–The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Wow! This book was interesting, shocking, bewildering, entertaining, and intriguing. It was a big, thick, heavy read and I learned a lot about this time period of English history. Do I have a favorite Queen from this tale? Yes. Wife number four, Anne of Cleves.

I was aware of the words counterpane and disport, but had never seen them in text before—King Henry had both of them! A counterpane is another word for a bedspread or a quilt, and a disport is something that “carries you away” from everyday activities. King Henry’s disports included hunts, tournaments, banquets, balls, and sporting events. The word ‘sport’ is a shortened, more modern version of the word disport. Sports “carry us away,” or create happy diversions from our work and home lives. True, not many of us take part in jousting tournaments like Henry did—just give us football, beer, and a hotdog, and most of us are happy campers!

port—to carry (Latin)



I’m heading to Boston today, and I’m finally back on a plane again! I had a rental car for the last three weeks, and I drove to NY, VA, and NJ for my trainings.

New Jersey has increasingly become the recipient of unfair press over the years and has earned the moniker, ‘The Armpit of the Nation,’ as well as several other unsavory barbs. I grew up in New Jersey, so I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the ‘Garden State.’ My hotel room had a beautiful view. I recently learned a new word from a friend of mine—bucolic. Have you ever heard this word before?

Here’s my challenge—use the word bucolic to describe the view from my room last week. Armpit? I should say not!

Can you do it?

Here were some of the responses from when I originally posted this on my Facebook feed—

Debbie—The farm in the distance surrounded by the bucolic fields and clear blue skies gave me a sense of peace amidst all the crazy things going on in the world.

Cathy—This peaceful tableau takes me back to childhood memories of my grandparent’s bucolic farm.

Lisa—The bucolic setting in this photo makes me think of our farm and how much we enjoy our peaceful space and privacy.

Tom—The scene at Cunningham Falls Lake is resplendent in its bucolic regalia.

And the bucaholic is addicted to bucolic surroundings.

Mary—Is this the same Tom that is also the fellow traveler addicted to bucolic experiences in Spain?

Raquel—If one seeks a bucolic state, one need look no further than the beautiful Garden state!

Please keep the bucolic qualities of NJ under your hat.

New Jersey Haiku
Splitting sky from fields,
Silos on the horizon;
Bucolic Jersey.

Haiku Wars—
The view from my room-
A bucolic dream come true,
Bathed in warm sunlight.


I was thinking about the word mediocre the other day. Yes—I think about words. “Medi” is Greek and it means middle, or half-way. Mediocre translates literally to only making it half way up the mountain. Whatever your “mountain” is, climb and conquer it! Don’t settle for mediocrity—strive for excellence instead!