(Re-)Learning, Learning, Learning….


So with this leg of mine in a plaster cast, I’ve been having a huge weeks-long lesson in patience, a skill that, frankly, wasn’t very honed before now. However, being cast-bound has definitely not been as bad as I had thought it was going to be, mainly because the Superhero has really come through and been fantastic in putting up with supporting me. He really has been great in helping me get around, and I honestly do not know how people who don’t have a Superhero handle this situation without one. I’m very grateful.

Reading – I’m ploughing my way through Sally Bedell Smith’s biography of QE2, which has been enlightening. I do wonder if it’s a little sycophantic in places, and I am not sure how reliable some of the material is in ref to her sources, but hey now. It’s a good read all the same, and surprisingly difficult to put down at times.

With this free time before the semester starts, I’ve been going to the office in the afternoons to keep an eye on work email and projects, and also renewing/updating my writing skills. (You can never do too much learning, I think.)

I’ve been reading my writing bible, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, an older book but with some absolute writing rules that I use in my professional life. Incidentally, the White in the author list is actually my loveliest essay guy, E. B. White, whose work I adore most of the time. (See reviews for both Charlotte’s Web and a book of White’s essays here.)

This also reminds me that I have a NF in the TBR pile on how the Elements of Style actually came to be written… Might have to move that up the pile in a moment or two once I’ve remembered the title. (Here it is: Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style by Mark Garvey.) Be still my heart.

Along with the Strunk and White, I’ve also been reading a reference book from the Associated Press, Guide to News Writing (Rene J. Cappon). Written in 1999 (wot? no updates?), this is a nuts-and-bolts guide on how to approach writing from a journalism angle. I’ve written for most of my career, but mostly from a PR angle. JOUR writing is very different, so I’ve been swotting up on that a bit since I also do a bit of that type of writing now and then. (I also need to edit this style of writing a lot, so I have to know of what I speak, yes?)

This reference guide is pretty good, but the pages are printed on crappy quality paper and the actual type is tiny. (I mean, 8 or 9 point tiny.) WWWHHHYYY?


Traveling: Ruidoso, New Mexico


We happen to have some great friends who invited us to share their cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico, over Memorial Day. It was great fun and I also happened to spot some curious signs as we drove our way and around town. There was also a large meeting of the Bandidos, although we weren’t invited to their hang-out…. 🙂

So thought I’d share some of these finds with you:


Seen in store window downtown.

(Above) – Appropriate for the area, methinks…


(Above) – Groaning of my writing soul….


Above – Using apostrophes comes with responsibility… 🙂




I certify that all the above signs are truth… 🙂

And the local bookshop was great. Props to Books Etcetera for implementing their Book Blind Date idea…


So, of course I had to buy a book (Support a local independent bookstore today!) I ended by buying New Yorker editor’s “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris. Joy in my heart!

I’d like a large serving of typos please…

Superhero and I are big believers in giving our consumer dollars to small local businesses when possible and so we went out to a new restaurant in town. As I scanned the menu, I happened to notice this:



And this:


And this popped up:


With this one being my favorite:


I’m not going to name names, but this was a particularly high achieving menu writer, I think.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves – Lynn Truss (2003)


Subtitle: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

This was a re-read of a title that I had read back when it was first published (2003), and this was still quite a fun (if rather over-the-top) journey through one person’s (very focused) perspective on grammar and how it’s used today. It also reminded me why it’s good to maintain a semblance of balance in these things, and so although some reviewers may think that she’s way too persnickety, my thought was that Truss was really exaggerating to make a point. (Grammar still counts. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it counts.)

I have a small collection of photos of mis-written signs that I happen to see around town, and as the collection builds up, I have started to see so many comma splices that I was wondering whether the stylistic rules had changed on the national landscape and I just hadn’t known about it. However, after further digging around, I learned that the rules haven’t changed – it’s just that the majority of sign writers don’t really get comma splices. (Phew. Thought I was getting really old there for a moment.)

Truss has a fun dry sense of humor, and her asides were frequently pretty funny. I did have to remember that there are some grammatical rule differences between the two sides of the Atlantic, and so when I came across something that Truss was saying was correct, and yet wasn’t correct in the U.S. writing world that I inhabit, it was a bit confusing. However, it really all boiled down to just national writing style book differences in the end.

I’m not sure that everyone would be that interested in reading an English  grammarian’s manifesto on careful writing, but as an editor and writer, this was a good read with the addition of a sly humo(u)r. Readers will learn about some basic grammar (plus more esoteric points) and get some funny snarky comments at the same time (which is not a common combination). Grammarians like fun too!

I enjoyed this re-read.