Category Archives: P – Why?

Rationale and background material

Priorities… I’m moving on, getting to less

Priority: n. something meriting attention before competing alternatives

365 Words Beginning with P is winding down. Not because of a paucity of peachy P-words – indeed the peerless pantheon of P words is scarcely pricked.

My purpose – nay, my priority – was to prod my procrastinating pea-brain into a practice of producing pontifications on a daily basis until I had proffered at least 365 of them, thus proving to myself that I could write regularly.  This is #377. Who knew vocabulary could be so much fun!

(To those whose interest in 365pwords was more literary than political, I apologize for all the Palin posts last fall. It’s not my fault her name began with P.  I thank god she’s not our vice-president — pity those poor people in Alaska.)

What I’m saying is my priorities have shifted and I must move on. Literally. To a much smaller home, with much less stuff.

But I’ve caught blogging fever, and my new blog, Getting to Less, is shaping up nicely.  If you’re at all interested in getting to less in your own life, or you just want to keep me company on the journey, please please c’mon over.  And bring your own downsizing tips and (mis) adventures.

Pitching your possessions has got to be more fun than pulling your own teeth, right?

I’ll be back here occasionally when a P-word just screams to be written about. Meanwhile, join me over at Getting to Less.

Possessed by possessions: P-post #366!

Possessed: adj. influenced or controlled by something (as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea)

Possession: n. something owned, occupied, or controlled; property

With this morning’s post I have proffered and probed 365 words beginning with P.  365 P-words may seem like a plethora, but really it’s a paltry potpourri; I’ve barely penetrated the pregnant possibilities P-words provide.

You could say I’ve been possessed by P. Although I will continue to post here, it won’t be so regularly because I have a pressing priority: dealing with my Possessions.

I’ve got to get rid of about half my stuff so I can sell this house and move to a smaller place.  But, I’m not going away.  I’ve started another WordPress blog – on downsizing, cataloging the process of Getting to Less.

I hope that some of you will join me over at Getting to Less. Advice, moral support and tips from your own experience always welcome. Maybe you’ve got ideas about selling art? antiques? Dealing with boxes of photos, big honking scrapbooks.  Aaaagh.

The blog is a bit sparse so far… I’ve edited and moved over about 20 former P-posts that seemed on topic (so if you read a post that seems strangely familiar; it is – like I’m using this post title but the content is different).

Soon the material will be All New!

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.

Post #100 – Persistent Practice Pays!

Yay me!  I’ve averaged one post a day for the past three+ months in pursuit of my main goal in blogging: to create a daily writing practice.

I am a writer by profession, but only write under deadline–if you don’t count the occasional dreary whines into my journal.   If one wants to improve in skill or expand one’s ouevre (love that word, ouevre – sounds so Important), one should write every day.

Since self-discipline isn’t my strong suit I had to create a ruse to make me place pen to paper (fingers to keyboard). I needed to feel that I was talking to someone outside my own skull, and that that audience (however tiny) expected me to keep my agreement to produce on deadline.

It’s said that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. For those of us with self-discipline issues, it may take longer.  For me, it took about 60 days to arrive at a point where I WANT to produce a post.  I called the blog 365Pwords, but at this point I suspect I could go on forever, because there thousands of great P-words, and many of them are worth revisiting several times.

Three side benefits of keeping my focus narrow (at least it seemed narrow when I began):

  • I see the world through p-colored glasses.  P-words pop up in unexpected places like colorful toadstools after a spring rain.  Oooh. I have to write about THAT.
  • Roget’s Thesaurus is my new best friend.  If something noteworthy happens and I’m plagued by a paucity of P-words to describe it, I get out Roget’s and lose myself among a plethora of word associations until I find the perfect one.  (Forget the online thesaurus, folks. Or the alphabetic ones. If you want to boost your creative thinking, you need the original Roget’s on paper.)
  • I’ve discovered the dictionary. When I was little and asked the meaning of a word, my mom would say, “Go look it up in the dictionary…” which just pissed me off.   I had resisted it ever since, until the P-word Project.  What riches lie within those pages! Try it yourself sometime. Again, the paper dictionary, not the online one.


Plethora: a superabundance, an excess

It’s only been three days but already a Plethora of P words are Percolating up into consciousness. A plethora of words with so much Possibility: paradox, patience, petrified, power, place, passwords (don’t you HATE them? How many do you have and how do you remember which works with what?), presidents (now there’s a topic!), penguin, pork, pinkeye, pansies (in bloom now on my supermarket’s shelf) … and I have several pages of other P words waiting in the wings.

Plethora – what a bounteous word!

It calls up cornucopias and the mythical Pitcher that stays full no matter how much is Poured from it, the colors of spring, all the Plant and animal species that inhabit our Planet, the number of stars that used to glow from the sky when I was a kid camping out (back before light Pollution), the overpowering love a mother feels for her baby. The bottomless well of generosity I want to find in myself.

Plethora was the first special vocabulary word I recall learning as I Prepared for college entrance exams, and it was delicious because it sounded so grown up. We sprinkled it liberally in our conversations, along with apotheosis and nadir.

“P is my Favorite Letter” Sesame Street

You gotta love these guys. I could quit writing now; they pretty much cover the letter P. In song, yet. From 1971


When something bugs you, you have a couple of choices: bitch and whine about it, or deal with it constructively.

It’s easiest, of course, to bitch and whine. Who doesn’t love to complain loudly about how rotten things are, how you’ve been wronged, how unfair life is, what an asshole that person is? The longer you carry on, the more righteous you feel.

Unfortunately, with this strategy the irritant only grows more irritating and you may lose some friends; most of us don’t like whiners.

The alternative is to deal with the irritant. Who knows? In the process you might create something much better.

The oyster takes this route. A piece of sand gets between his two shells (and nowadays a human being actually places the piece of sand there – how cruel is that?). This no doubt scratches or pinches most uncomfortably, so he exudes a smooth shiny material called nacre to cover it up and round out the rough edges.

Et voilà! A pearl. Something of beauty and value.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I say, “Irritation is the mother of the pearl.” We’re both saying the same thing.

It’s not easy to greet the obstacle as an opportunity to create a pearl. But every day I’m offered countless such opportunities, some tiny, some big.

Right now my kitchen counter is an irritant of minor consequence but major annoyance. The counter is covered with crap, even though I’ve complained loudly to the cleanup crew (me). My kitchen, when buffed up, is such a lustrous pearl I wonder why I don’t do it every night.

A scratchier problem with greater consequences is that I promised myself yearss ago that I would write a book. At my last astrology readying, Ginny (my astrologer – a great one if you need one) said if I didn’t do it soon I’d be on to other things. The stars were right for writing NOW, she said.

Over the years possible subjects on which I could have written a best-seller for sure came and went with regularity. I won’t bore you with all the brilliant ideas I’ve had that died still-born. Some were just a concept, others went as far as a couple dozen neatly labeled (but mostly empty) file folders.

The closest I got to a full book was one about my trip across America in my minivan with my standard poodle, Molly. You know — Travels with Molly — just like Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Except instead of being written by one of America’s greatest writers, it would be written by me, freshly separated from my husband of 20 years.

I had already laid down the spine of the story in the form of the 30 chatty field dispatches I emailed home every couple of nights during that 9-week journey. But once I got home I bought a house and began remodeling it. By the time the house project was done, the trip book felt stale, stale, stale.

So. Here I am again. How to create a Pearl around this irritant of the Promise I made to myself to Publish a book? Perseverance is a Problem for me. Procrastination is another. I’ve got my standard of Perfection. How do I share my ideas for Posterity without Pontificating? Finally, a book requires a writer to have a daily writing Practice.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. I said to myself, why don’t I blog about my blocks? The responsibility of daily Posting, even if nobody reads it, is what I need.

See you tomorrow.

All about the letter P

The letter P has been part of the alphabet since its early days in ancient Rome. It is the 16th of 26 letters.

The P I love exPLODES from the lips with a satisfying POP.

Although many of you are no doubt big phans of the F sound that P can assume when married to an H, F-sounding P-words are not phine phor me and I’m restricting this book to popping P words.

Last month at a Toastmasters leadership training I heard a talk about ways to get new members. The speaker had five main points, all beginning with P so we would remember them. So much for mnemonics; all that stuck with me was her fifth word, Phun. It was supposed to be phunny but I thought it was stupid. Right then and there I decided no Ph/F words in my book of P.

While we’re at it, I’m not going to use P words that sound like S (pseudonyn and its friends) or T (pteradactyl and those creatures) or N (pneumonia and pneumatic). If you like them, start your own blog.

In the world of phonetics, P is an oral consonant, which means that in saying P, air is allowed to escape through the mouth. Technically it is a voiceless bilabial plosive. What does that mean?

  • Voiceless – produced without vibrations of the vocal cords (a phonation type).
  • Bilabial – articulated with both lips (place of articulation)
  • Plosive – produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal trac – a stop (manner of articulation).

Is this more than you ever wanted to know about the letter P?

Why P words??

One day I was procrastinating (as usual) on a writing assignment and feeling pissed at myself for failing to persist with a regular writing practice. If I didn’t put pen to paper, what peerless prose would be left to posterity? And what was my purpose on the planet anyway if not to pontificate?

And then it struck me that my problems all began with the letter P.

I know a continuously curious gal named Goody Cable (owner of the literary Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon and the Rimsky-Korskoffee Coffee House in Portland) who recently spent 52 weeks – an entire year – exploring the alphabet, each letter for two weeks. She pored over the unabridged dictionary and immersed herself sequentially in each letter. She pondered the personality of each letter as discerned from the words it initiated. She didn’t just read and think about the words; she ate foods that began with the letter, wore colors that began with the letter, read books and listened to music by people whose name began with the letter, called old friends whose name began with that letter, and on and on. Every two weeks her perspective on reality shifted.

Her project totally tickled my imagination. But 26 letters is 25 too many for me. Since I was finding P words so problematic, why couldn’t I just explore the letter P? The good news is that many P words are not ponderous at all. Think pipsqueak, poodle, pumpernickel, pablum, penguin and pusillanimous.

This could be fun.