Wordy Wednesday


WORDY: using or containing many (usually too many) words

I see Wordless Wednesday blog posts and often think, “I should do that.”  But, then, I remember that I’m terrible at taking pictures.  If not for the CDs of images that appear from my in-laws a few times of year, there would be little visual documentation that I have two children.

I’ve decided to embrace Wednesday in my own way.  In lieu of a photo, I offer you this random collection of other people’s words that impacted me this week as well as a handful of new words I added to my vocabulary.  I acknowledge that I am offering you less than the going exchange rate of 1,000 words per picture.  Forgive me.

Other People’s Words

I’ve been reading The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.  Early in the book, she writes this passage about the perspective you absorb from the place you live:

“It makes sense that if you stand almost daily in the middle of a perfect crescent of shore, with a vista open to eternity, you’ll conceive of possibility differently from someone raised in a wooded valley or among the canyons of a big city.”

A few days after reading that passage, I was listening to The Writer’s Almanac when Garrison Keeler shared this quote from the poet Heather McHugh about the impact of surroundings on our sense of self:

“I have always lived on waterfronts. If you live on the edge of an enormous mountain or an enormous body of water, it’s harder to think of yourself as being so important. That seems useful to me, spiritually.”

A few more great passages and strings of words from Messud:

“…the person I am in my head is so far from the person I am in the world.  Nobody would know me from my own description of myself; which is why, when called upon (rarely, I grant) to provide an account, I tailor it, I adapt, I try to provide an outline that can, in some way, correlate the outline that people understand me to have…”

“…do you know this idea of the imaginary homeland? Once you set out from shore on your little boat, once you embark, you’ll never truly be at home again.  What you’ve left behind exists only in your memory, and your ideal place becomes some strange imaginary concoction of all you’ve left behind at every stop.”

“Doubt, that fatal butterly, hovered always in my breast.”

In preparation for a presentation I’m giving in the fall, I’ve been re-reading some classic environmental texts, including Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  What was astounding to me, page after page, was how valid and timely her observations remain after fifty years:

“The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature.”

“This is an era of specialists, each of whom sees his own problem and is unaware of or intolerant of the larger frame into which it fits.  It is also an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged.  When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.  We urgently need an end to these false assurances, to the sugar coating of unpalatable facts. It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks…The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when it full possession of the facts.  In the words of Jean Rostand, ‘The obligation to endure gives us the right to know.’”

Words I Wanted to Make My Own (but wasn’t sure what they meant)

  • Bonhomous: good-natured easy friendliness
  • Deliquescent: tending to melt or dissolve
  • Diaspora: a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived
  • Frisson: a sudden strong feeling or emotion
  • Glaucous: of a pale yellow-green color; of a light bluish-gray or bluish-white color; having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance and tends to rub off
  • Rive: to split with force or violence

6 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday

  1. Okay first, how DO you get so much reading in? The kids will more or less tolerate me furtively checking Facebook on my phone, but the minute I get out a book it’s MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY! If I don’t lock myself in a room, or read the book to them, there’s just no way. Second, I’ve never read Silent Spring (and I’m not likely to get to it now; see “first”), but, wow. I have been thinking a lot lately about our relationship to the planet and I’d love to hear your thoughts sometime. What is your presentation about?

    1. First, I’m nearly deaf. I don’t hear the screams. 🙂 Honestly, I take a book with me everywhere I go and steal minutes wherever I can – waiting for summer camp pick-up, when I’m a little early for a meeting, etc.

      Second, I wouldn’t read Silent Spring now – it’s pretty specific to pesticides and – while a game changer at the time – there are so many more recent books that would be a better use of limited reading time and be more on topic for today’s challenges. Bill McKibben is a favorite of mine.

      My presentation is for the state planning conference. It’s a “Planning Cannon” session about great books planners (should have) read in school that are still relevant and new books that planners should read to stay current and up to speed on today’s issues.

    1. Thanks. I’m hoping to make it a regular routine. I’ve always kept track of words and passages for myself, but it’s fun to share.

      I just finished The Woman Upstairs last night. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I know I admire it and appreciate what Messud was able to do…I’m just not sure I can say I liked it. Perhaps liking it isn’t what matters. Makes me think of our debate – a book that makes us feel strong feelings has value, even if you don’t like it.

      1. It wasn’t an ‘easy’ read, that’s for sure. And I would definitely say I was impressed with the overall project more than that I ‘liked’ the book per se. But I did think there was so much value in the complexity of the characters and the exploration of the nature of art and the toll it takes on the individuals who live with it.

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