Category Archives: P verbs

Pickin’ Peas

Pickin’: v. vernacular for harvesting fruits or veggies

Peas: n. heavenly spring legume

The freshest peas ever

The freshest peas ever

My friend Judi is away and asked me to mind her Ps (no Qs).  Last night I walked up there with my little pickin’ basket and minded those Ps right into my basket.

Not as easy as it might seem. It’s hard to judge the pea inside by the fatness of the pod.  I picked about 20 pods that looked and felt right, but when I popped them open, some were still semi-fetal.

“Sorry, babies,” I said to them, feeling like a second trimester abortionist.

Nonetheless, I dropped them all, semi-fetal and mature, into boiling water for about 30 seconds, drained them, added a bit o’ butter, a pinch of sea salt and a grind of pepper ….

OMIGOD.  Like eating sweet green caviar. Their round shapes roll nicely on the tongue and then pop when caught between my upper and lower molars.  Total yum.

Pitchforks, pistols and “going postal”

Pitchfork: n. a long-handled fork that has two or three long somewhat curved prongs and is used especially in tossing (pitching) hay

Pistol: n. a handgun whose chamber is integral with the barrel

“Going postal”: v. To become extremely angry or deranged, especially in an outburst of violence. The term derives from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service  workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

Used to be when the rabble got roused, they’d go after the bad guy with their pitchforks pointed at his butt, thus running him out of town.

No more. We’ve got guns, and we’re gonna use ‘em.

Pistol, by Christoph Niemann

Pistol, by Christoph Niemann

How many mass murders are we going to allow before we stand up to the gun lobby???  47 just in the past month!

An article by AP writer Ted Anthony asks, “What is happening in the American psyche that prevents people from defusing their own anguish and rage before they end the lives of others? Why are we killing each other?”

I can answer that:   Because.We.Have.Guns.   Without guns we’d have to resort to fisticuffs, maybe a knife, maybe lots of screaming and yelling.

The other issue, raised by Charles Blow in the NY Times: Are certain susceptible people taking as gospel the call of right-wing crazies like Glenn Beck, Chuck Norris, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh to be red-blooded patriots and take up arms if necessary to prevent SOCIALISTS and ATHIESTS and LIBERALS from taking over the country?

What are we becoming?

Pressure to pare down

Pressure: n. the burden of physical or mental distress; the constraint of circumstance; the weight of social or economic imposition; the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it.

Pare: v. to trim off an outside, excess, or irregular part of; to diminish or reduce

Because I haven’t posted in a week you may think that I’m moving prematurely into slow blogging.

But no. I’ve just come to the realization that I can no longer afford to think about down-sizing. I need to DO down-sizing. Which means putting time and effort into planning, divesting, tossing…

Which means that instead of thinking about P words, I’ve been inventorying my stuff in preparation for the Great Divestiture.

Really, there’s no way I can go looking for some cute little shoebox until I sell the home I have – my beloved home.

To buy something, even a shoebox, would be silly when it could take months to sell my place in this challenging real estate market. And who wants to be paying for two places?

I’ve made myself a fine Excel spreadsheet on which I’m listing all my stuff, including measurements (will it fit in my shoebox?), and whether it’s a keeper, a give-away, a “store it in case the kids ever have real homes AND want Grandma’s embroidered antimacassar” , a “will it sell on eBay?” or “could I just dump it?”

I started with the easiest space – the guest bath. How much can a guest bathroom hold? I asked myself. Turns out quite a bit: a nice little rug, an antique commode, three pieces of art, and a very very very old Greek water jug. Sigh.

None I want to part with. And I’m just getting started.

I

Posting performance: a progress report

Post: v. to write and upload a blog entry to WordPress

Performance: n. the execution of an action; something accomplished; the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request

Progress: n. movement toward an objective or goal; gradual betterment

Yesterday’s post was my 350th since my first on April 4, 2008. To reach my goal of 365 posts in one year (an average of one a day) I need to pull together 15 posts more in the next 14 days.

I believe I’ll make it. And yet I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of great P-words. The question is, will I continue to post so regularly?

Probably not, because I’ve got some other writing projects in the fire that need more attention.  But then, P-words are addictive. Once you start looking for them, you realize there is a plethora of plummy ones patiently waiting to be plucked and picked apart.

Prattle protrudes on Grandma’s nap

Prattle: n. a sound that is meaningless, repetitive, and suggestive of the chatter of children

Protrude: v. to jut out from the surrounding surface or context

I’ve been visiting my daughter’s family in Oakland since Tuesday. When the boys (4 & 7) are at school, Heather and I do grownup things (Asian Art Museum in SF -yes!, planning their new veggie garden, reading the paper). When they’re home, we play.

After a few days of this I was ready for a nap. The house is very small, so I curled up on Alexander’s bed while he and his brother played in the next room.

Their high little voices went on and on and on, sometimes rising with distress or excitement, sometimes burbling softly like a fountain.  But the chatter never ceased. Clearly they process all their thoughts out loud. It’s a sweet sound – unless you’re trying to take a nap or think.

It’s so different when you live with adults. Our processing is mostly internal. Years ago I read a study that said that most married couples don’t talk a lot – though women talk more than men, as a rule. (I recall some ridiculously low number, but can’t find it now.)

It’s a miracle that mothers with little ones at home get anything done at all.



Purchasing Power: passé; ditto “consumers”

Purchase: v. to buy, to acquire in exchange for money

Power: n. the ability to act or produce an effect

Passé: adj. out-moded, past its prime

James Kunstler says it’s time to pucker our purses. Put down those precious pearls. Hands off the purple Prada pocketbook. And for god’s sake don’t purchase more plastic.

Say goodbye to the “consumer society.” We’re done with that. No more fast money and no more credit. The next stop is “yard-sale nation,” in which all the plastic crapola accumulated over the past fifty years is sorted out for residual value and, if still working, sold for a fraction of its original sticker price. This includes everything from Humvees to Hello Kitty charm bracelets.

It will be a very salutary thing if we stop even referring to ourselves as “consumers.” This degrading moniker, used for decades unthinkingly by everyone from The New York Times Nobel Prize pundits to the Econ 101 section men of the land-grant diploma mills has been such a drag on our collective development that it has extinguished the last latent flickers of duty, obligation, and responsibility for the greater good in a republic of broken communities shattered by Wal-Marts.

Kunstler is right. It’s high time we the people were called “people” or “citizens” instead of “consumers”.  The first step in changing our behavior is changing our thinking and language. I’d much rather be known as a citizen, which implies an awareness of and participation in the society around me.

We do have lives beyond the shopping mall, don’t we??  Lives of meaning even: we’re parents, children, workers, savers, helpers, voters…

Time to reclaim our humanity.

PowerPoint prowess pays off

PowerPoint: n. a presentation program that is part of Microsoft Office, which can be used to put an audience to sleep — or can inform and inspire.

Prowess: n. extraordinary ability

Pay off: v. to reward for hard work

I recently taught a two-hour feng shui class for a group of feng shui novices, and if I say so myself, it was RAD!

I had used slides in PowerPoint once before to illustrate a feng shui talk, so I knew how effective pictures could be. However I was still struggling with an A/V inferiority complex that developed in high school watching geeky male classmates run the Rube Goldberg contraption known as a movie projector.

Furthermore, I hadn’t yet read Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen, which is an absolute MUST resource for any would-be presenters.

First, out went any slides with bullet points. Then out went slides with more than a few words, unless it was a succinct quotation. That left me with….

Almost nothing.

I started over. This was my process (h/t to Garr Reynolds):

  • Get a stack of Post-It sticky notes and a big white board.
  • List all the points you want to get across – one per sticky note, and then  figure out what visual images would convey them even more effectively than words.
  • Gather lots and lots and lots of pictures – from your own camera, scanned from magazines, found on Google Images and Flickr. Note each one on a sticky.
  • Look also for images that are extreme examples (what not to do, before & after, stumbling blocks, etc.) to emphasize your point or defuse fears.
  • Shuffle the notes on the white board till they make some sense.
  • Import the pictures into PowerPoint using the totally blank slide as your template, so the pictures are full-screen (means your pix must be in landscape format).
  • Shuffle them around in the Slide Sorter View until they tell the story in a way that flows most naturally.
  • Now you can add some text floating in front of some of the pictures or on transition slides.

Here are a few examples of images I found:

To illustrate what a feng shui consultant does when she/he comes to your house – conveying both the fresh eyes which can see your home more clearly AND addressing the fear many potential clients have that she’ll be some sort of critical witch:

eyeballs1

Or these three slides, which illustrate the dilemma of clutter. First the extreme possibility that you could be buried alive by it:

cluttercartoon

Then, the inertia we feel when viewing the clutter-clearing task ahead:

boulder1

My audience laughed hysterically at this boulder – recognizing themselves.

And then I encouraged them with the concept of momentum… what happens once you get started tossing crap:

domino-effect

I’d say it took a solid 40 hours to put together 150 slides for a two-hour talk, and a lot of creative thought while I was half-asleep. But it was totally worth it.