Author Archives: Ali

What’s the Difference?

Hey Nancy,

I had you listen to the Says You! radio show during one of your visits. Here is one for them discuss, but I’d really rather hear your thoughts because I have NO idea what to say.

What’s the difference between

to lend


to loan


Ali says: Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.

Hey Ali,

Wow. When I read this, I was completely stumped. Then I was going to go google it and read 45 things  – you know, my usual reaction to anything interesting.

However, I decided not to cheat. So I went back to work on my normal desk chores, and it came to me. Here’s a picture of my house. That’s the difference.

If it goes OUT of my house, it is “lending.”

If it comes INTO my house, it is “loaning.

That’s the best I can come up with! It’s a tricky distinction.

I wonder what our readers think?

Nancy says:  All shall be words, and all shall be words,
and all manner of thing shall be words.

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One Lump or Two

Hey Nancy,

Some people do two.  I do one. I’m talking about what just happened right back there. Or right there. I’m talking about how many spaces go after a period.

Now I learned typing when it was typing on a typewriter. I am young enough that it was an electric typewriter, but I am old enough that my high school graduation present from my parents was a typewriter. (It was the fancy kind where you popped out the ink ribbon and put in a corrector ribbon. I was hot stuff!) But I digress…

In typing class, I learned that you put two spaces after a period and after a semicolon.

Then in the late 1990s I spent a few years as an “Administrative Assistant.” (Translation: Secretary) I used a computer with the Microsoft Works word-processing program. I was told that the two spaces after a period were no longer necessary. They explained that all word-processing programs were smart enough to recognize the end of one sentence and made the space after a period slightly larger that the space between words. This was done to keep the flow of print. It also meant that putting two spaces after a period makes the sentences too far apart and awkward to read. Cool!

But I still see smart people (or are they just smrt?) putting 2 spaces after a period! Did no one tell Mavis Beacon? In fact, one of my much younger friends went into a tizzy just two years ago when she found out that you only need one. “Why hasn’t anyone told me this before???”

So, I wonder what our readers do: one or two?

Ali says: Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.

Hey Ali,

A literal River of White…

I, of course use only one space. And, I do that because you told me about this years ago. And now, when I look at material typed (keyboarded?) by others, I can’t help but see what they call “a river of white” through all but the best edited and typeset work. (Do we still call it typesetting?)

(If anyone cares, I bought my first typewriter with my high school graduation money. It had a cartridge that had correction tape in it along with the black ribbon. It also had Spanish characters! Accents and tildes and upside down questions marks! What luxury!)

Ironically, I believe that during that administrative assistant period you were told to count pencils?

I have argued until I’m blue in the face with friends who ask me to edit their work. I circle with red those glaring spots that make up the river of white. You would be surprised how these people dig in their heels in homage to those typing teachers whose names I bet they can’t even remember!

These are the same people who will break also sorts of other rules. You know – the kind of people who aren’t rule followers: the ones who will roll through a stop sign or take eleven items in the express lane. Isn’t it funny how those rule breakers won’t learn a new rule that goes with the new technology?

Nancy says: All is words, and all shall be words
and all manner of thing shall be words.

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Whatcha Reading?

Hey, Nancy,

I started the summer by reading*
Inside Out and Back Again
by Thanhha Lai.
This is a children’s book…historical fiction…
I remember personally meeting a Vietnamese family in the mid-1970s who fled their homeland at the fall of Saigon. They kept the youngest child’s outgrown rain boots as a souvenir of their voyage to the new world. I was in awe of their story.
Now in this poetic book, 10-year-old Ha limns the author’s own relocation (to Alabama!), translating her family’s struggle into a universal concatenation–fear to sorrow to frustration to hope. A great family read aloud (for grades 3 and up), this will inspire active discussion of past and present immigration issues.

Then I read* a few other random things
and just finished
I Still Dream about You
by Fannie Flagg.
Borrowed this book from one sister-in-law, who borrowed it from the other sister-in-law. When I asked if it was good, each tilted her head in the same way, gave the same tight smile, and said, “Yeah.” Not sure how to read that endorsement, I began the book ready to bail. Alas…still not sure about their head tilts (genetics?)…this is a beautiful book! Sure Maggie Fortenberry is about to “permanently” solve the problems in her life (you understand that code don’t you?), but as she can’t seem to get things settled for want of keeping things decent and in order, the reader will also come to see the beauty in their own mudpuddle. Once again, Fannie Flagg is best described as delightful.

Next on my reading* list:
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Went on a road trip with my sister this past weekend (the first since we are really adults) and her friend George recommended this one. Professional reviewers of the book use words like clever and refreshing and fun and funny and vibrant and crackling…all words I would use to describe my sister’s friend and her husband. And since it was a great weekend (my sides still hurt from laughing so hard), I’m looking forward to a great read.

I wonder what is on your summer reading list?

Ali says: Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.


First of all, I was PRETTY sure that you made up the word “concatenation.” However, I knew that “limns” was surely a typo. Really, Ali, you’re not allowed to use a reggae band as a verb! I’ve never heard either of those words in my life. However, they both appear to be real, or either you just wrote some wikipedia articles just to fool me.

Hey! We should do this more often. I don’t know if you ever knew that since May 2005 I have kept a reading* diary? I really write down every single book I’ve read with some comments. So since Memorial Day weekend, I’ve read 16 books so far. Here’s the ones I’ll admit to reading*…

(1) An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler*. Finished May 27, 2012. Apparently MFK Fisher wrote How to Cook a Wolf, and Tamar Adler, inspired by that, wanted to write an updated version. This is not a cookbook, but a narrative – and it’s very lovely inspiring writing; it is a longwinded version of “Just do it.” However, it’s a breath of fresh air to know that food is not food unless it is relished. Good, fresh, food, simply prepared, without thousands of fussy ingredients! Good salted water does a world of good for food: you have to love a cookbook that begins “How to Boil Water.” I am amazed at how well this book goes along with French Kids Eat Everything. It is interesting how Providence puts two books that marry so well into your hands in unrelated incidents.

(2) French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon*. Finished May 31, 2012. My children aren’t particularly picky – in fact, I am the pickiest eater in my house. My children are also in college. I would have never picked this book up – or paid the full Kindle price, which I did – if I hadn’t read the free sample pages. This was FASCINATING, from the standpoint of the simple line she uses to describe her children having trouble adapting to French schools (and therefore French eating): they were bilingual, not bicultural. The French consider their outlook on food to be a national treasure, free to all, rich and poor alike. They are trained to appreciate and work for quality food, prepared simply, and served beautifully – even in the school cafeterias, which are served by “waiters,” as we Americans would understand it. I repeat: fascinating! I may read it again!

(3) Pirate King by Laurie R. King*. Finished June 17, 2012. ¡Ay, caramba! I thought to cross-reference and the state Public Digital Online Library – which I can (legally) sign in under two different libraries and increase my options! – and found that  Pirate King was available for immediate download! Normally I get on a waiting list for then years…our state is a big state. In the 11th installment of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Mary Russell has been assigned to work for a movie company (in 1924) filming a movie about filming a movie of the Pirates of Penzance (yes, I wrote that correctly). This installment was a joy – mishmashing the funny bits of The Pirates of Penzance with the dry humor of Laurie R. King’s earlier books – more akin to the The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (the first in the series). I must say, though, that while Mary Russell can speak French and Spanish and yet seems wholly baffled by Portuguese is stretching it a bit too far? The accompanying bonus short story Beekeeping for Beginners was charming – and a welcome look at Holmes’s point of view.

(4) The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall*. Finished June 18, 2012. This series has been on the rave list by all the homeschooling moms (of which I am not) for some time. In the initial pages I read, it has much the same feel as Swallows and Amazons  – a magical summer vacation combined with meeting new friends.

(5) The Treble Wore Trouble (The Liturgical Mysteries) by Mark Schweizer*. Finished July 4, 2012. The local author strikes again! This is the 11th installment in the stories about St. Germaine, NC, a thinly veiled Blowing Rock. St. Germaine is a tiny tourist town of 1500, where the ex-mayor quipped, “Come for the murders; stay for the shopping!” The police chief/organist tries to keep the town under control. This installment includes a toddler tent evangelist, a production of  At Home in Mitford, a truffle pig, and “blended worship” – combining praise music and traditional music – and the Poli Woli Doodle Mass. A gold star, any way you look at it! Hilarious. SO hilarious!

Nancy says: All is words, and all shall be words
and all manner of thing shall be words.

*We love our public libraries and independent bookstores.
If you are interested in these titles, will you search these locations in your hometown?

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The Perfect Wedding Gift

Hey Nancy,

It is told in my family that one day Aunt Hyacinth and Aunt Verna were talking about Jennifer, the grandniece who had recently gotten a divorce.
Aunt Hy said, “Well, her marriage was doomed from the start. She didn’t even have a deviled-egg plate.”

After rushing out to get our own, we now give that as our standard wedding gift. When you think about it, a deviled-egg plate is a perfect marriage metaphor:

In marriage, make your spouse look good. Face it, deviled-eggs are ugly, but deviled-egg plates make them lovely. One marriage secret, in all you do, make your spouse look good.
In marriage, be flexible. While called deviled-egg plates, they can also hold truffles or earrings. One marriage secret, don’t hold to anyone else’s secrets to a good marriage.
In marriage, keep the quirky. Really Aunt Hy, a deviled-egg plate? Yes. It is different and it makes a great story. And marriage is all about the story.

Never let anyone say we are not helping to keep our family together. Keep your deviled-egg plate proudly displayed.

Ali says: Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.

Ali! Oh, NO! Can I admit to you that after just celebrating 26 years of marriage I DON’T OWN A DEVILED-EGG PLATE? However, we did receive a Tupperware deviled-egg container as a wedding gift. There’s probably a story there about our marriage. I have been pondering that all afternoon…and I can’t come up with anything – at least not anything I’m willing to post in public!

Nancy says:  All shall be words, and all shall be words,
and all manner of thing shall be words.

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Okay, but what do we name it?

Shakespeare asked what’s in a name…and so we got stumped. Who knew that naming a blog could be harder than naming a child? Here are some names we considered:












We really like the frogs, but hate aspic, so — like the saying goes — go with what you know.

Ali says: Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.

Hey! I don’t remember aspic of.wordpress. That must have slid by when I misunderstood your offer to cook me a tagine as a terrine…..yuuck!

Nancy says: All shall be words, and all shall be words,
and all manner of thing shall be words.

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