It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Monday, May 26, 2008


This frame of mind and writing was all brought on by acknowledging once again that a few of the words I use, like some in the very last post, do not exist in most dictionaries. Hope those words that I like to invent do not drive you too insane. And if there was "phrase check" I would have many more uncorrectable yellow highlights in my writings.

Considering Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary definition of verbiage it would be a combination of the two definitions that I operate under.

1 : a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content 2 : manner of expressing oneself in words : diction

Lets just say that my definition for verbiage is "manner of expressing oneself in words, a profusion of words most likely of little or obscure content." And verbiage is exactly what you my dear friend subject yourself to when you attempt a read at this thing called "It's The Dirt."

My mother was an English teacher, the epitome of English teachers, so let us just call what I pen, or keyboard if you will, a form of "offspring rebellion". When I left her notes on the kitchen table to let her know where I was, she would correct them, only and always with her red pen no less. There would be circled words with "sp" written above them, underlinings with arrows to where the phrase should appear, new punctuation would appear in red along with margin notes on correct word usage, always something about dangling participles and of course red lines straight through several words, no explanation necessary, I am and obviously was born verbose. This all on a note left to tell her that I was up at Yvette's, that I left at 4:25 and would return home at about 7:00.

I think she was always highly disappointed that I didn't hand in corrected versions of my notes. I am sure she chalked it up to why I was not improving in my note leaving let alone my school compositions that I eventually learned, by the time I left for college, not to leave lying around within twelve hours of their due date especially if eight of those twelve hours were those most people slept through. I am the youngest of six. I say that to say that my oldest brother is an English teacher in Oak Harbor. My oldest sister a Speech Pathologist (or something like that) in Portland. Ahh those rule following eldests, how do they do that. I seem to be completely incapable of following rules, even rules I come up with. Like laundry room rules, or rules for leaving the living room for the night, or any number of the gazillion rules I have made and usually broke before my children did.

I think that the whole rule thing is why I personally am so drawn to Christ, the rule fulfiller, the rule completer and the heart-maker. I love that. I love how he takes, tries to take, those Pharisees on past the rules and into the heart.

So lets consider what language is really for. Communication. Do we communicate better when our random grunts come under rules? You bet. I have a hard time communicating with someone who even though they are playing by rules are not playing by the same rules, like a Frenchman or a Swedish second cousin by marriage thrice removed. So rules are great. But rules often stifle what they intend to support i.e. communication. I do not communicate as much as I should. I am sure that global warming has been caused by the tons of paper trash I have personally made by throwing out cards and letters that I wrote but which did not live up to what I knew was acceptable communication by the rules and therefore un-sendable and horribly incriminating as to my lack of ability to participate in intelligent society.

A blogger from Molalla, OR, a young twenty-something budding journalist and I am sure a college graduate from WSU, captured my attention with a post which included an observation about the random interchange of "doesn't" with "don't." It is the one rule that stuck in my brain and is like fingers down the chalkboard of my spine when I hear it's use, or misuse shall we say. I commented to her that I whole heartily agreed with her noun-verb agreement issue. But on other posts she shares with her reader more of her frustrations with the less literate section of society, of who, or is it "of whom", no, "who" it is, wait maybe I should just say it differently... a section I identify strongly with. For who am I (did I do that right?) to call someone out for misspelling "strikes" on a cardboard sign at a baseball game as "stricks" when I spell the thing with four burners on top of the kitchen oven as "stolve." She had another picture of a note written on a pole in Seattle, an invitation to go to somewhere. Yes, I got that one of the two mistakes was that the person used the wrong "too" and should have used the "to" that doesn't mean an over abundance. However, I could not come up with the other mistake. I am not even sure with English handbook in hand I could have. But the note communicated to me. I knew that I would not be going to where this person was asking the reader to join him or her, but all in all I was communicated with whether intended or not. And isn't that what language is for?

I hope that I communicate with those who read my ramblings. Communication isn't agreement or even acceptance. I only hope to let you know what I am thinking. If you get it or even think you get it great, that is my intent. If you don't understand what I am saying or think you don't, please let me know and I will in earnest try to clear up the miscommunication. If you get it but don't like it or don't agree with me, let me know that too, I might change my mind. But please if you can at all get by without it, leave your red pen in your pocket. You may think that it is ink that comes out of that pen but really it is the blood of stymied communicators who used to love to write but write no more because they could not follow the rules that were made so that we could all get what the other was thinking.

You are welcome to apply this nutty concept to other things in life. Is strict adherence to the "rules" helping to obtain the outcome that the "rules" intend? Or is it time to go beyond the rules and instead dive into the heart of the matter? Jesus, in the Gospel accounts of the Sermon on the Mount, calls us to consistently look beyond the rules, the account of the pealing off of the wheat berries and eating them on the Sabbath or the healing of the man with the twisted hand on the Sabbath are more pleadings, leadings, for us to go beyond the rules and to the heart that the rules point us to. Was the sight of our Lord and Savior munching down on wheat berries that he just stripped off a stalk on the Sabbath like fingers down the chalk-board to the Pharisee? Perhaps. Should I let go of my irritation over improper noun-verb agreement? MMMM. Most likely yes, for it is the one grammatical mistake my dear Dirt owns, but better than I, he gets his meaning across. I have so many more words to use than he does and all those many more words are just many more opportunities for mistaken communication.

Hope I haven't today.

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