Chimney

Chimney: (n) the part of a chimney that extends above the roof; a chimney stack.

I grew up living in a brick home.

Dead center in the middle of our roof was a huge chimney. It was probably about one-third the size of the house. I don’t know why they made such a large chimney–the fireplace was tiny.

But affixed to the chimney, on the front, was a large letter “S.” Now, this had nothing to do with our name, so as young children we speculated on what the “S” stood for. We never actually came up with anything that made sense, but it filled some time.

What also occupied our interest was using our sloped roof as the bouncing area for a ballgame, where we tried to get the ball to bounce as near to the chimney as
possible without getting lodged behind it.

It was great fun–until the ball got lodged.

The chimney was so large that we couldn’t reach the ball with a long stick, and so, after three weeks there were six of our rubber balls stuck behind the chimney.

Every time I complained to my parents about the situation, they gave me a lecture on how foolish the game was in the first place and how if we didn’t throw the ball on the roof, it wouldn’t get lost behind the chimney. You see, to an adult mind, this logic made sense. But when you’re a kid, to eliminate fun just because it’s sensible is sheer torture.

So one day when my parents were away, we tok the youngest, smallest kid in our community. We called him “Toot.”

I’m not sure why. Maybe because it sounded small.

I stood on the bottom. Someone smaller than me climbed up on my shoulders, and finally, Toot scaled all the way up both of us, as we groaned in pain each time his foot stepped on our skin.

He got onto the shoulders of the fellow above me, and tried to jump over to the roof. He was able to get there–hanging by his fingertips.

We were scared to death.

We quickly tried to push him up on the roof as Toot struggled to pull himself up by grabbing shingles, which fell off the roof and onto the ground below.

Eventually, Toot, by some miracle, got his knee up on the roof, climbed up, raced over to the chimney, and threw down our six balls--and two frisbees which apparently had been thrown up there generations before.

We were so delighted that we forgot that Toot had no way to get down. He wouldn’t be able to get down the way he got up. So Toot sat on our roof waiting for my parents to return–because they had taken our ladder with them to do some work out on our farm.

When they arrived and saw Toot sitting on the roof like a little leprechaun, they were quite angry.

They quickly put up the ladder, retrieved Toot, and then began their lecture. They screamed, yelled, yammered and yakked for a good fifteen minutes. My friends wanted to leave, but my parents decided to be the disciplinarians for the neighborhood.

Afterwards, my mother turned to me and asked, “So what do you think about this?”

I thought for a long moment.

I probably should have thought a little longer–because without really being thoughtful enough, I replied, “Toot got our balls down.”

Needless to say, playing with balls was not permitted for me for several weeks.

 

 

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Browse

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Browse: (v) to survey goods for sale in a leisurely and casual way.

Several years back, when I had just released a new book, my dear daughter-in-law set me up with a booth at a book-sellers convention in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Dictionary B

I was excited about my new writings, so I leaped at the chance to go and share with others the stories I had put together, which in this particular case, had a Christmas theme.

I had never been at a book sellers convention before. So I was a little taken aback when I was just one of several hundred tables set up in rows, where people could amble by, peer at my book cover and then at me, to determine if they had any level of interest.

Yes. They referred to it as browsing.

I quickly learned that there were three different kinds of browsers:

There were a few souls who came to the convention legitimately interested in books–even possibly to the point of purchasing one.

There were many more authors, who came by my table to try to talk to me about their book, hoping that I would abandon my foolish cause of self-promotion and become enamored with their endeavor.

And then there were the professional browsers. These were people who hung around for a while. They picked up my book. They scanned it for a few minutes. Sometimes they even giggled, connoting that they had enjoyed something.

I foolishly tried to interject my feelings to engage them in conversation.

It was at that point that I realized they were hoping I would solicit their opinion, so they could calmly set my book down, smile at me, turn on their heel and walk away.

I fell for this about ten times, until I realized it was a game.

After that, when people came up to my table, unless they were determined to get my attention, I sat very still…acting like I was recovering from a stroke.

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Brave

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Brave: (adj) ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

I have discovered that one of the more brave things to do is choose the correct moment to be a coward.Dictionary B

First, you have to be fearless about the characterization. Is it cowardly to know that you’re outnumbered, ill-prepared, uncertain, or to proceed with caution–even delay?

I don’t think so.

Bravery always reminds me of the Native American going hunting, only having the resources and time to make four arrows. Yet at the end of the day he knows two things: he must come back with dinner, and he’s only got four shots.

So what is the goal? Avoiding foolish undertakings that may seem noble or adventurous but will steal the quality of his supply.

So he waits.

He waits for that moment when he can get close enough to the deer.

If he does that–if he passes over the long shot, refuses to chase tracks that lead nowhere and simply allows the opportunity to come close to him–he has a much better chance of returning home with game … as the brave instead of a foolish archer.

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Adverb

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adverb: (n) a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb: e.g. gently, quite, then, there

They do more than THAT.

That definition confirms that “adverb” has a really bad agent.

Because adverbs do more than explain or modify–they also put energy and action into words that would just lay there on the paper like somebody spilled ink.

“I went to the game.”

“I went joyously to the game.”

See the difference?

Without adverbs, we start acting like we’re old people. Yes, adverbs are for YOUNG people. They put some oom-pah into the polka band. They put more cowbell into the rock song. They even bring in the tympani twenty measures too soon because they’re so doggone excited about getting the drums in there.

  • Adverbs tell us that we’re writing instead of just reporting.
  • Adverbs tell us that things are done vigorously instead of just done.
  • Adverbs follow a verbal explanation with a visual punctuation.

They make us believe that human life was meant to be lived out loud and excited instead of droned or whispered in embarrassment.

As you can tell, I like adverbs. I even like unusual adverbs, such as “swimmingly.” (Granted, it shouldn’t be used very often and certainly never as a pun, to describe a Red Cross Lifeguard class.) But at the right moment, it’s tremendous, like all adverbs.

So stop looking at them as danglers.

And please, do the English language a favor and recognize them … as the enhancers they were intended to be.