Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “Reflections”

Stressed? Try Cow Hugging


I have long appreciated cows. They have an inherent lassitude that encourages one to slow down to stop and smell, or in their case, eat the roses (do cows eat roses?)

Well, the world is discovering how therapeutic a cow can be. Cow hugging is now a thing.

Hugging a cow helps with emootional release

Having been around cows, I had not considered them as hug therapy candidates. They are rather massive. rather bony, and rather, well, they are rather a bit on the earthy side of clean. Apparently I am missing something.

Hugging one another, especially those outside of our “safe” circle is risky these days. I’ve been sent videos where it shows people hugging their pets as a means of relieving their anxiety. A hug is immensely therapeutic. And if hugging humans is not readily available then a pet often suffices.

Pet therapy is well-known, which is why there is such a surge in therapy animals. And this was prior to COVID-19.

So, hugging cows is understandable, and cuddling with a dog or cat is well-established as therapeutic, but hugging a person truly can’t be replaced, and I look forward to returning to a world where a hug isn’t life threatening.

Someday We Will not have to be socially distant although hugging cows can remain a practice. I imagine cows need hugs too.

Shakespeare and Thanksgiving


Shakespeare didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, at least in the modern day sense, but he did know how to give thanks most eloquently:

42 Uplifting Thanksgiving Quotes to Share With the Whole Dinner Table | Thanksgiving  quotes, Instagram captions, Shakespeare quotes
William Shakespeare Archives - Thank You Quotes
Shakespeare Quotes On Thankfulness. QuotesGram
Shakespeare Quotes For Thanksgiving — Good Tickle Brain
Check out Mya’s amazing Shakespeare website!

I express my own thanks. It will be a quiet Thanksgiving, yet there is a joyful noise within my heart that as difficult as this year has been it has been one in which I appreciate how much I can count on the Lord to be my light on those dark days.

May the joy of thanks be a member at your table this year, for there is always something to be thankful for.

Take care–

Why We Say: from Spitting Image to


As we close up the “S” section of Why We Say certain phrases there will be found some interesting sayings to explore.

Spitting Image: When someone says, “He’s the spittin’ image of…” there is an understanding the reference is the two people are very similar in appearance. In fact, there is such a remblance that their “spit” is alike. This might stem from how sons wanting to resemble their fathers would act like them, right down to “spittin'” like Dad.

Spruce Up: To “spruce up” indicates someone is changing their clothes, their appearance for the better. “Spruce” means “like the Prussians,” which comes from the French word for Prussia, Prusse.” To “spruce up” then, is to dress like a Prussian.

Hmm, shall we spruce up a little before heading out on the town?

Stamping Ground: Sometimes known as “stomping ground,” the term refers to a known, familiar area, where people congregate. In actuality, animals, such as deer, that gather in familiar areas, do so often enough to leave the imprints of their stamping hooves, creating a stamping or stomping ground.

Just hanging out, deer…

Steal One’s Thunder: Nope, this is not about Thor or his hammer. This is about Dennis the playwright, who in 1700 invented a machine that duplicated the sound of thunder. This was no doubt handy for plays needing some celestial angst. Unfortunately, the machine proved so successful that others coveted it, essentially “stealing his thunder.” Today, taking one’s due away is like taking away their ability to make some noise about themselves. Just ask Thor about when Loki took his thunder away.

Dude, don’t mess with my hammer.

Stickler: Familiar with Rabbit from Winnie-the-Pooh and how he is a bit of a fussbudget about getting it all exactly right? He would be considered a stickler. In Middle English stightlen means “to set in order.” Sticklers had the role of making sure all was set to rights at duels, that the rules were followed. Today, someone who is determined to make sure all is as it should be is a “stickler” for rules.

Stogie: Cigars, like them or despise them have come a long way from their first form. Stogies are from the Conestoga wagon, built in the Conestoga valley in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The wagon drivers would roll up tobacco leaves and roll them up to smoke when on long trips. Conestoga is a bit of a mouthful, so it became shortened to “stogie.”

Stumped: Can’t figure it out? Don’t have an answer? You might be stumped. If you are stumped, you are outwitted. If you are playing cricket you would be the pitcher having succeeded in hitting the wicket or “stump,” thus outwitting the batter.

Outwitting the stump, is rather cricket…

Well, any surprises?

Reader Round Up: October


With the first month of school squared away with its new expectations and schedule, I felt a bit more at leisure to read in the evenings.

I’m finishing up my foray into Newberry winners and I am discovering the older titles can definitely hold the attention. I am also trying to whittle down my TBR list, and at this point the titles left are going to be though my library’s inter-library loan system, unless they value my request enough to purchase (that is always a fun surprise).

Here are the highlights of October:

The Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Book Review
Goodreads

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Read-at-Home Mom: Book Review: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1994)
Goodreads

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee
Goodreads

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Amazon.com: The Wheel on the School (9780064400213): DeJong, Meindert,  Sendak, Maurice: Books
Goodreads

With the hour turned back the evening comes just that much sooner, and the lingering outside in the fading autumn afternoon warmth is less appealing as the shadows overtake my outdoor reading nooks. More reason to cozy up inside in my lounger and linger longer in my reading.

Word Nerd: November


This month is a mixture of archaic and contemporary. How do some of the cool words of the past slip out of usage?

  1. iwis: certainly (obsolete)

2. crepuscular: of, relating to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.

3. mizzle: to rain in fine drops; drizzle; mist (I am so finding a way to use this in a story)

4. sagacious: having or showing great mental discernment; wisdom (I know this one, but haven’t yet found a way to insert it into any conversation)

5. gree: the prize for victory

6. zephyr: a gentle, mild breeze (so adore this word)

7. tantivy: to ride at full gallop

8. quiddity: the essence of something; its essential nature

9. soniferous: making or producing sound

10. chunter: to mutter

11. cavil: to raise trivial objections

12. hypethral: open roof (like the Globe theater!)

13. stownlins: secretly; stealthily

13. lunker: something unusually large for its kind

14. hypermnesia: having an unusually precise memory

15. cleek: to grab something unexpectedly; snatch

Such a preponderance of dictional expression! Which cleeked your fancy?

Leaf me alone, please.


A tree lover. An appreciator of their grace, shade, and mesmerizing swish when the winds converse with them; however, I am not a fan of the annual migration of downward accumulation.

This year my strategy of waiting for all the leaves to fall before raking backfired. We received an early snow and the leaves frisked about the snowfall, creating a decorative touch of color. A bit like sprinkles on vanilla frosting.

I was momentarily charmed.

Autumn leaves on snow - Stock Image - C013/9909 - Science Photo Library

But then the snow melted, the rest of the leaves fell within one week–somewhat of a follow the leader venue (is that snickering I hear?) and the momentous task of dealing with two towering aspens, a birch, a linden, and a maple tree. Certain evergreens wanting in on the game shed their dagger needles as well.

I contemplated leaving the leaves alone this year. Scientifically, don’t they mulch and return to the soil as the snow blankets them all winter? I image more time is needed than the four months of dozing under the snow would render them inert.

The yard must have started looking pathetic because I had a group of church kids stop by and offer to rake my leaves. Oh. That’s so nice. Do I look old enough where I can’t handle taking care of my yard anymore? I’m thinking they were being nice.

Okay, November is here. Snow is lurking down the pike. It’s a rousing 46 degrees and I’m going to do this.

A love letter for leaf piles - West Coast Landscape Professional
To leaf alone or not leaf alone.–always the question…

Leaf blower at the ready. Rake, snow shovel (it’s the best for leaf scooping), and wheelbarrow are standing by.

The Best Cordless Lightweight Leaf Blower [2020] | Archute
herding leaves is right up there with herding cats–they don’t always go where you want them to…

I managed to get the leaves in four or five major piles and then it’s always the dilemma of burn, mulch, tarp or ? This is the only time of the year when I am envious of city folk, who are only 7 minutes down the line, jurisdiction wise. They get to cart their leaves to the curb and have city garbage haul them away. While us county folk have to figure it out.

This year it’s the giant pile and tarp for a spring burn. It’s getting them into that giant pile.

Having been called away by a Mother errand (glasses needed tightening, and while we are out, she says, I need a pedicure and some new tops), I did not return until almost three hours later. My hopes of the leaves somehow Disney-like traipsing into “hi ho hi ho” parade and forming themselves into that desired leaf pile momentarily tickled me.

No such luck.

I will give full credit to my Hubs who managed to corral the leaves and tarp them. At least most of them.

Help is always appreciated when tending to leaves

“Thanks for doing the leaves.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What are your plans for the rest of the leaves?”

“What other leaves?”

“The ones over there.”

“Oh, I didn’t see those.”

Okay, he’s wonderfully managed to organize and tarp the leaves. Am I going to point out that there is still a significant amount of leaves left to deal with?

I ask you, readers, what would you have done?

Bard Bits: Seasonal Sonnet


I tend to inundate my students with Shakespeare’s sonnets as part of our poetry unit. For one, sonnets often show up on the AP exam. For another, Shakespeare knows how to rock the sonnet. He saw what Petrarch has done with the Italian sonnet, smoothed and improved it to the point where he owns it. When someone says “sonnet” Shakespeare is what comes to mind. He tended towards taking what someone else had created and reshaped it so that it was his claim. It wasn’t plagiarism then, only genius.

This month’s Bard Bits recognizes how Shakespeare mastered the metaphor. Many of his sonnets dealt with aging out and Sonnet 73 captures the autumnal drift into winter with thoughtful reflection.

Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Captured this photo yesterday. Mehap’s I render this to be a new season:
Finter—when the trees have not shed their leaves before the first snow falls

Why We Say: Slick as a Whistle to Southpaws


A number of familiar and unfamiliar expressions for this installment of words and phrases we use and might not have a clue why we say them.

Chiff and Fipple Forums • View topic - The "friscalittu", the sicilian reed  whistle

Slick as a Whistle: This comes from whittling whistles from reeds. Once ready to go all a person has to do is blow through the empty, sleek tube and the sound easily comes out. With a little bit of work merry music is made–pretty slick.

Slush Fund: Back in tall ship sailing days, the ship’s cook produced a fair amount of fat waste, known as “slush,” which was used to grease the masts. However, if there was any slush left over, cook had the option to sell it, thus making a bit of profit. This profit did not have to be reported. This meant the ship’s cook could fatten up his private funds with the extra slush. 

The Hello Doctor Medical Blog

Sneeze At: The expression “sneeze at” comes in a variety of forms, usually stated as, “That’s nothing to sneeze at.” When someone sneezes they make a sound without words (okay, some people actually do utter “achoo.”). When something is noted, but not worth an actual stated reply, a person might make a noise of derision, surprise, or even agreement, depending on the situation. Next time someone sneezes it might be a question of whether or not they actually are holding back their stated opinion.

Snob: A bit of linguistic history for this small word that carries a heavy message. The Scottish word “snab” means “boy” or “servant.” At a point in history, English students attending university were of the nobility and referred to the townsfolk as “snabs.” In the 1600’s Cambridge University began admitting commoners. These “snabs” had to register as Sine Nobilitate, meaning “without nobility.” This became abbreviated to S. Nob, leading to  “snob.” Snob signified being a “pretender to position.” So–attending a prestigious university like Cambridge doesn’t require nobility anymore–just smarts and funding? Education for all who can afford it? Oh, snab, how common.

Son-of-a-Gun: This stems from British sea slang. Improbable as it sounds, British Navy sailors were allowed to take their wives on long voyages. When the women gave birth they were relegated to the area beneath the guns to keep the decks clear. The term came to be a backhanded reference to being a soldier or sailor’s child. Today it’s often an expression of surprise, encouragement, or even an euphemism for stronger reference towards someone’s standing.

Southpaw | Netflix

Southpaw:  Left-handed folk are sometimes referred to as southpaws. Why?  Major league baseball diamonds have an east facing layout so batters will have the afternoon sun at their back, making it easier to see the ball being pitched. This means when the pitcher faces the batter he faces west and his left arm faces south. If he pitches left-handed he pitches with his south hand or paw. Are right-handed folk north paws?

BOOKSTOP IS HERE!


Find me on #SCBWIBookStop! From now until November 30, you can check out my book Someday We Will here 👉 SCBWI BookStop. Thanks for supporting your #kidlit community! 
#SCBWIBookStop is a great place to find a new book to love. Go to 👉 BookStop

Did You Know?


My book’s on #SCBWIBookStop! Here are three fun facts you may or may not have known: 1, 2, 3… Click the link in my bio/Go here to check out my page 👉 BIO

Fact One: My first published story “Marvin Composes a Tea” appeared in Highlights for Children in 1988. It received Author of the Month and went on to become the title-lead story for a Boyds Mills Press anthology. I thought I was off to a fine start. Never mind it took 32 years before my first picture book was published.

Classic Highlights

Fact Two: I still like to blow bubbles.

Bubbles are for all ages!

Fact Three: I nearly didn’t send out the manuscript to make the publisher rounds. I brushed it off it sitting in my “working on” file for almost ten years. My writing group convinced me to polish it up and send out. I’m glad I listened to their encouraging words.

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