Archive for the ‘writing exercise’ Category

Alternative Words

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the many things I love about the English language is the options it allows. One can say the same thing with stiff words or warm words. The sound of the word and the subtle differences can make the sentence work better for you to evoke the feelings you seek to deliver.

The difference between house and home is quite obvious. A house can be a splendid mansion or a rotting derelict and everything in between. Suburban developments are brimming with houses. However, when a family moves into a house, it becomes a home. Their carpets, their curtains, and their life engulf the building. It was built as a house. The residents make a house into a home.

There is an interesting difference between ‘got’ and ‘have’. Most often, in our daily communications, we say things like: “I’ve got a cold.” Why don’t we say: “I have a cold?” The shortened “I’ve,” is a mush of “I have.” When writing, I like to be aware of the subtly different feeling between “we’ve got” and “we have”. The sounds of the phrases carry feelings different from each other.

It seems to me that people use the word “anxious” much too often. Many times, they should be using the word “eager”. I don’t think it is appropriate to imagine a lover awaiting for the partner in a restaurant would be “anxious”. Much more likely is the thought of lovers being “eager” to be together.

Most of my comments apply especially to the spoken word, in a script to be performed.


There Is A Lot Of Pain in Aging

March 13, 2016 Leave a comment

I’m old so I know about unearned pain. There’s a variety of kinds of pain and varied places where they occur. They sometimes seem to move around, leaving one are for another. There is a good deal of physical pain, either muscles or bones – or both. Some pain is always there, and it’s at a lower level and we can live with it.

Some pain is not physical. It’s psychological and emotional. Some of we who are old – let’s say over seventy-five – did not live simple, hard-working lives until retirement. Some of us were athletes, some were artists, some were outdoors men, some were travelers and some were dreamers. The dreamers often had the most intensely packed lives, filled to brimming with adventures and misadventures.

The most difficult part of being a family elder is knowing that your younger loved ones are making a mistake. We must not say anything about it. When your children are functioning professionals with families and relationships of their own, you can do your relationship with them the most good by being always positive and supportive – unless they ask for your opinion. Then, you can diplomatically say what you really think and feel.

A daughter decides to get married. The parent is told about it, and the parent knows that it’s not a good idea with this fellow. He’s quite nice, intelligent and interesting, a good lover and likes animals. He is also lazy, confused about life’s realities, and has been coddled all his life. The daughter will not be aware of the weaknesses because of her feelings for the guy. If she asks the parent what he thinks and feels about her decision, he can gently tell her the truth and perhaps save her a few years of anguish.

If she does not ask, he must never mention the misgivings and be ready to give all the support possible to her when she realizes the mistake a few years later. If the parent wants to continue with a loving, trusting relationship with the daughter, one must stay in the background and let her live her own life. Her mistakes should be her own, as the parents’ mistakes had been their own.






May 29, 2015 Leave a comment

It wasn’t his real name. I just called him Lemonorange because the first time I met him he was selling fresh-picked citrus fruits on the roadside in Georgia. We were headed to Florida from Canada in November, and we were giddy with the pleasure of warmth and greenery all around us. Florida was just a few miles on down the road, and we were in no hurry to get there.

I drove within the speed limit on this secondary highway, just to be safe. I’d been stung by the Georgia Patrol before, and have reason to believe that they don’t conform strictly to the rule of law. The requirement to pay fines immediately, on the roadside, was enough to make me comfortable driving within the law. After all, I figured, it’s the right thing to do, anyway.

Something about the way Lemonorange looked, standing beside his produce cart in sagging trousers, soiled suspenders and tattered shirt, made me decide to stop to buy some fruit. The impression I got from him when I got out of the car was one of warmth, happiness and satisfaction. I approached his fruit stand and he rocked from side to side on his old, bowed legs and lit a path right to him with a broad, bright smile. His eye’s danced with mischief and his teeth flashed as he extolled the virtues of his oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and lemonoranges.

“What are lemonoranges?” I said. He picked one up from a box on his cart and held it out to me. “It looks like an orange,” I said. He chuckled with glee.

“She does, you’re right, sir. She surely does look like an orange,” he said. “You give one to your friend so he can bite into it… but you better be able to run fast.” He laughed heartily at his little joke. “They surely tastes like lemons, them lemonoranges.”

I looked up the long dirt driveway behind his fruit cart. I saw a 1963 Pontiac coupe with a big number 63 on its side. There were several commercial decals on the fenders that were too small to read at that distance.

“Is that your car?” I said.

“Yessir, it is,” he said, looking at it with pride. I watched his face. He was very fond of that old Pontiac. His face had the ruddy glow of a man who works outdoors. He must have been about sixty, with the creases and rivulets carved into his face by a life of work and satisfaction. Some older people develop a sour facial look, with a downward turn to their mouths. Lemonorange wasn’t like that. He was a fairly big man, about five-eleven, but evoked a feeling like he was an elf, a gnome, a playful rascal.

“Do you race it?” I said.

“Yessir, I do!” he said. “Every Friday night over to the speedway.”

“There’s a stock-car track around here?” I said.

“Sure thing! Two miles down County Road 6 to Gatton. On the edge of town, under the lights we race around a mile oval called Gatton Speedway. The next races are tomorrow night. If you ain’t on the run or nuthin’, y’all ought to stick around for the action.”