A-Z Challenge 2015!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Moving back East

Our house is emptying as we prepare for a 1700-mile move a week from today. We have lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico for most of a decade, and now we plan to move to a 55-plus community in the Tampa Bay area in Florida. So we've been selling, donating, recycling and discarding what feels like no end of stuff, much of which we once cared about. The rest, we'll let the movers pack for us. Still we fear we'll bring too much. That non-functioning laptop, that old tower PC, the old papers my mom held onto, the Southwest-themed rugs--time is running out to get rid of it all. We are moving into a smaller house on purpose so we'll be forced to thin and trim.

We all go through stages in life, with so many years of accumulating stuff, but now we are in the less-is-more stage. Time and each other's company trump material things now. Being alive and active, traveling, making friends are more important.

All of this is possible where we are, of course. But Tampa is closer to family and will be an exciting change of pace.

Anyway, this is some of what we are leaving behind:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z Challenge: zenzizenzizenzic

Today we mark the end of the A to Z Challenge--whew! I've tried to dredge up uncommon words of dubious value. If you live in Seattle, you probably don't give a rat's patoot about xeriscaping, and if you don't play bridge or whist and haven't been a Green Beret, why would you ever care about a yarborough? 

Still, most of the words have at least some use to someone. So to bring the Challenge to an inglorious end, may I present zenzizenzizenzic, which refers to the eighth power of a number. Yes, really. Is there another word in English with more z's in it?

For example:

This is 2 to the 8th power, or 256. The zenzizenzizenzic of 2. Robert Recorde, who coined the word in the mid-1500s, wrote that it "doeth represent the square of squares squaredly." Eventually someone thought of the alternate word "cube," and it stuck. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A to Z Challenge: yarborough

Here's a word that has several meanings. In Bridge, a yarborough is a hand with no cards higher than a nine:

A yarborough
Wikipedia says it's named after Charles Anderson Worsley, the second Earl of Yarborough and a member of Parliament back in the 1800s. The odds against being dealt a yarborough are said to be around 1828 to 1.

Yarborough also applies to a type of knife used by Green Berets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Xeriscaping

Anyone who lives in the Southwestern United States probably has at least heard of Xeriscaping if not practiced it. This is the practice of growing plants with minimal irrigation or none at all. The Greek root xer means dry, so this is dry landscaping. A yard with only desert plants such as cactus is said to be xeriscaped.

A xeriscaped yard with barrel cactus, yucca,
saguaro cactus, and desert flowers

Monday, April 27, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Wright

Tennessee Williams
We don't often see this word standing by itself, but it can cause confusion. A wright is one who makes or creates something, such as a millwright or a playwright. A person who is a play writer is not a playwrite, but a playwright -- one who creates plays. And although the legal protection is for what the playwright writes, it is not called a copywrite but a copyright.

Which leaves one wondering why if there is a playwright there isn't a wordwright instead of a wordsmith.

Playwright Edward Albee

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Velodrome

Now here is a word you might come across now and then, though it's been a while for me. A Velodrome is a building for indoor bicycle races. As to why it's not called a cyclodrome, I'll have to get back to you on that. Apparently there are plenty of them, and they have steeply banked tracks like the one at the left. Sorry to be a wimp, but that would scare the bejeezus out of me.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Uxorious

Back in the day, we used to get mail from our bank addressed to Robert Sanchez et Ux. What is an ux, you may well ask? Why, it's the woman you're married to. Or it's you, if you are a married woman. It always seemed a rather demeaning reference to a woman, as though she were simply an attachment to a man. Has anyone seen that word lately? Not I.

Anyway, that brings me to uxorious, referring to the excessive fondness of one's wife. But what is excessive when it comes to loving one's wife? Maybe this cartoon illustrates.