May 29, 2012

It's Quite Quiet

It’s quite quiet in here, isn’t it?” This sentence would be true in most libraries and other places where noise is to be avoided. These two words mean entirely different things, and yet they are often confused when being written.

Quite is an adverb and means entirely, as in the highest degree or to the fullest extent (It’s not quite as bad as all that!), or rather as in ‘to a considerable or great degree’ (It’s quite disgusting to think of living off eating grub worms!) and is often said in agreement with the subject under discussion (Don’t you think he needs to wash up before fixing our food? Quite!), or nearly, most often used with a negative to indicate that something has almost reached a state or condition and which may indicate an indefinite time frame (The dress is not quite finished.) Quite emphasizes exceptional quality, indicating something to be remarkably good, fine, attractive or otherwise admirable or impressive.

Quiet has so many meanings that I’m listing them each with an example within parentheses just following the meaning. Not noisy (in the quiet of the forest), still (in a quiet corner of the room), done in private (I’d like a quiet word with you.), undisturbed (a quiet life away from publicity or trouble or disturbances), relaxing (a quiet evening at home), not showy (a quiet wedding instead of the grand, showy, pretentious thing her mother wanted), restrained (the doctor’s quiet manner), unspoken (not expressed in words, as in a sense of quiet optimism), not busy (in the bad economy business is a little too quiet), calm or motionless (a quiet sea), to become calm and quiet or make somebody calm and quiet (He sang lullabies to quiet the baby. Will you all just quiet down please?), to allay anxiety (He spoke softly while quieting her doubts.), on the quiet (done secretly; Give the widow this money strictly on the quiet so she won’t know it came from me.).

Nearly all of these can be summed up as being low in audible volume, acting in a calm manner, or some combination of the two. has quite a cute quote I’m sharing with you today. "Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife." -unknown author

Because of the diversity of the meanings of both words, the only hook I came up with to aid your memory is a bit absurd, but may help. When you want things to be quiet or to be done quietly, you want to suppress public notice or to keep it silent. The word silent has two syllables, and so does the word quiet. Quite most often may be substituted with the word yet or yes, and all three of them have only one syllable. Inane hint? Quite!


May 22, 2012

A Little Pontification

Pontificate has two main meanings with one being religious and one not religious. On the religious side, it means to officiate as a pontiff, especially in celebrating Mass, or to indicate the office or term of office of a pontiff (now usually the pope) and is usually spoken of with respect.

The non-religious (or very irreligious) usage nearly always has a negative innuendo regarding the speaker in question. It means to speak pompously or dogmatically about something and usually indicates the one speaking is doing so in a knowing, self-important way, especially when that person is not qualified to do so. Furthermore, used in this sense, the meaning includes the unspoken, eye-rolling message that the speaker also doesn’t know when to shut up and leave well enough alone.

An example of this meaning may be this short conversation. “There he is again; the town drunk lecturing the congregation for two hours on the evils of drink!” “Yes, well, that’s better than the circus fat lady taking all day to tell us all how easy it is to diet!”


May 15, 2012


Thirty years ago when I graduated from high school, I got a lot of well-wishing cards from family and friends. All of them conveyed the same wish, to congratulate me on my graduation. Most of the cards said “Congratulations Graduate” on the front. One of them had a cute kitten wearing a cap and gown, and the caption, “conGRADulations”. I thought it was pretty cute, how the “card people” had combined the words “congratulations” and “graduate”. Obviously a lot of other people thought it was cute too, and the card sold well. Now, you almost can’t find a graduation card that spells “congratulations” properly. I even see people writing the misspelled version as they “congradulate” their friends who are getting engaged, married, having a significant anniversary, and giving birth.

“Congratulations” is a word that conveys the intent to pass well-wishes on as a person celebrates an achievement. “Congradulations” is a hybrid word made up by a greeting card company. It is barely appropriate as a bad pun for people graduation from high school or college. It is never appropriate on any other occasion. Please, congratulate responsibly!


May 08, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

On Friday, I will graduate from college. This represents to me both the culmination of two years of hard work and determination, and the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

In high school, my plan was to graduate and go directly on to college. It took a year after graduation before I was finally able to get to college. Three semesters later I was out of money, nowhere near graduation, and had a large student loan. I had to quit school and go to work.

I worked at many jobs, got married and divorced, and have the single most wonderful child in the world to show for it. Through it all, the goal of someday going back to school and graduating was always in the back of my mind and near the center of my heart. I resolved to never stop learning.

I moved in with my parents when arthritis forced me to stop working. At about the same time, my daughter’s school situation threw me into homeschooling. Once my daughter completed all the requirements of high school and eyed the local community college, it occurred to me that I had the time to go back to school, if I could get the money.

I enrolled in the community college and applied for a grant. The grant came through and I threw myself into my classes. Of the classes I’ve completed, I have only one B in a long string of A’s. I have a reasonable expectation of getting an A in all four of the classes I’m completing this week. I’ve been on the President’s Honor List every semester. I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa last October. College has been a strain on my health. I started school walking across campus and carrying my books in a backpack. I now use a walker to move both me and my books. I shuffle across campus, and I have to nap between classes. Some of my classes were to improve my writing, some were to help with the business side of writing, and the rest were simply requirements for the degree.

On Friday, I will graduate from college. I will be the proud owner of a freshly-inked Associate of General Studies degree. I will hobble across the platform with my walker. Over my black cap and gown, I will be wearing my gold Phi Theta Kappa stole, and the blue cord indicating I’m graduating with highest honors. As I write this post, I still have three finals to take and the grades have yet to be awarded, but I’m doing well enough in the classes that they’ll let me graduate before the finals have been scored and the grades awarded.

I know this long post isn’t the usual thing you see on this blog, but I wanted to share a little about where I came from so you can understand why I’m so enthused and how proud and excited I am of my accomplishment.

A lot of people have asked me what I’ll be doing after I graduate. They expect me to say I am going to go on to a University to pursue a bachelor’s degree. I always surprise them by saying I will be working very hard on my books. I hope to have The Mom’s Place out by the end of June, and with any luck, the long-awaited The Siege of Kwennjurat will be finished by the end of October.


May 01, 2012

May Resolution Update

How does the saying go? Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…or something like that. The implication being that at the moment you think everything is going smoothly, “life happens”, and everything turns upside down on you. Maybe I’m just living in a snow-globe or something.

During April I received an invitation to audition to be the student speaker at our commencement ceremony May 11. I was absolutely floored to be included in this small group. I discovered that I was competing against some 20 other people for this honor. I turned in a written copy of my proposed speech, and was not chosen as one of three finalists, which was disappointing at the time, although I compared it to getting a rejection letter from a publisher. They didn’t say my speech was bad, just that it “wasn’t what they were looking for”.

Not being chosen to speak turned out to be a very good thing for me personally, though, because my arthritis, which has been steadily getting worse over the last year, gave off a huge burst of pain. In the past when this happened, I just do a lot of resting for about a week, and I’m back in usable condition, but it’s not possible to do that sort of resting when you have homework, and research projects due, and classes five days a week.

This month, it’s my turn to disrupt the entire family, as I have had to get my wonderful daughter to carry my books for me, and push me around the campus in my wheelchair. My mom has had to take sack lunches to work, since daughter and I have to use our one car to get me to and from school. Dad has to be home without anyone to help him, which is a problem as he is either in his own wheelchair or in bed.

I’m eagerly counting down the days (10, as I write this!) until graduation so I can rest, get rid of the bulk of this pain, and let the rest of the family get back to normal. Whatever normal is.

My resolutions for this year are to:
·         Graduate from college.
·         Write a new manuscript, something I haven't had time to do since I started college.
·         Take a vacation someplace out of Arizona.
·         Hug my daughter every day.
·         Learn how to make book trailers and post them to YouTube.

How am I doing?

I graduate May 11. I will be graduating with highest honors, and get to wear a beautiful blue cord around my neck to show off my grades. It looks like I will be getting an A in each of my remaining classes, which would make my grades nearly perfect. In four semesters, I’ve only had one B. Not bad for a returning student. When I started this whole college thing, I was worried about keeping up with the younger students, both socially and academically. I strongly advocate to anyone of my age who is thinking about going back to school not to let this fear stop you. You’ll find that your life experiences far outweigh their recent and supposedly un-rusty math skills.

Writing the manuscript is still on hold until November's NaNoWriMo.

Savings continues for the gas and grocery money for our vacation, and a new swimming suit has been purchased for the dear daughter. Mine is still in good condition, because I don’t wear it as often.

I am hugging my daughter every day, especially after she pushes me up hills and over big bumps in the sidewalk that very few on campus realize are there.

The book trailers are on hold indefinitely. Several more urgent long-term projects have reared their ugly heads including a room full of filing that must be done, the cataloging of my library’s new arrivals, meaning all the books purchased in the last five years, the in-depth study and mastery of several new computer programs, and the healing and rebuilding of the last two years wear and tear on my body are of much higher priority. Perhaps next year I will learn book trailers and the production of audiobooks.

I'm still doing pretty good on my resolutions, especially with the changing circumstances which we all call “life”.

I finished weaving the belt, and it works well. I’m now knitting a pair of manually-striped socks. In April I read 25 pleasure books, for a combined total of 3608 pages.


He Said What?

Quotation marks are always used to set part of your sentence or paragraph apart from the rest of it. They almost always come in pairs. Never forget to close a quotation.

In writing, they are used to say, “This part of my paper is exactly what somebody else said or wrote.” Do not use quotation marks when you are paraphrasing what the other person said or wrote.

If what you’re quoting is a long section from another work, and the quote takes up more than three lines of text, do not use quotation marks. Set the quotation off by putting it into an indented block.

For example, if Sam said, “I am going to the store,” you would use quote marks if you wrote: Sam said, “I am going to the store.” However, you would not use quote marks if you wrote: Sam said that he was going to the store, because although that conveys the information that Sam gave you, it is not exactly what he said.

Quoting someone exactly is called a direct quote, and requires quotation marks. Paraphrasing what someone said is called an indirect quote, and requires that you do not use quotation marks. Additionally, indirect quotes nearly always follow the word “that”.

Quotation marks have other uses as well. They must go around titles of short works, such as essays, song titles, magazine articles, and one-act plays, while titles of long works such as books, albums, and movies are italicized.

Quotation marks are commonly used when using a word or letter as itself, rather than using it in its usual context.

The only time quote marks do not come in pairs is when you’re writing dialog and your character is very long-winded. In that case, put opening quote marks at the beginning of his speech, and put new quote marks at the beginning of every paragraph, to show he’s still talking. Don’t use the closing quote marks until he shuts up. If you notice you’re doing this a lot, though, you need to work on your dialog writing skills. Books should not have a lot of monologues in them.