“Knowledge consists of knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” Miles Kington

Bowl of Cherries

Three types of cherry tomatoes, ready for soup!

Summer flew by and went out with a heat wave! The tomatoes and peppers are enjoying the crazy weather, though. The cherry tomatoes are so prolific we’ve been giving a large share to the chickens (who love them!) and, of course, making tons of dried tomatoes and tomato soup. Now that the bigger varieties are finally ripening, chili, Caprese salad and salsa are the order of the day! I wish you could taste this salsa–oh so good!

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Tomatoes for salsa. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

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A mix of “Hillbilly Potato Leaf” and “Tasty Evergreen” tomatoes with “Sweet Chocolate” bell peppers and “Hot Rod” Serrano peppers.

If any of you are interested, the salsa is pretty simple to make.

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Salsa

2-3 large ripe tomatoes (approx. 2-3 c.), cored and chopped – garden fresh heirlooms are the way to go here!

1/2 c. onion, finely diced

1/2 c. bell pepper, finely diced

1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 Serrano peppers, minced

juice of 1 lime and a little of the zest (just a sprinkle)

1/2 t. salt (more or less to taste)

1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped (I’ve substituted fresh basil with good results, too)

Mix everything together and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two… IF you can even make it to the fridge before it’s gobbled up! If you have any left over, it’s great in chili. Or just the juice, if the salsa’s gone…

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Buddy says “whatcha gonna do with all those tomatoes?”

I didn’t feel like we had a really big garden but we really seemed to get a lot out of it. Being in Door County can make growing things like peppers challenging and the rainy start to the season didn’t help. Despite these obstacles, we managed to get a decent harvest of bell peppers, chili peppers, basil, thyme, sage, broccoli and kale. Brussels sprouts, cabbages, onions, melons and beets are still filling out, but it won’t be long now. The tomatoes really outdid themselves and more than made up for the limited amounts of peppers.

If it came down to it, my husband and I could probably eat decently for at least two or three months on just what we’ve been able to put by from our little homestead. Admittedly, towards the end we would find out just how many ways one could eat eggs, onions and tomatoes! Some items, like the herbs and dried tomatoes will likely last us into next harvest season.

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Our garden

A few of you might be thinking “well, great for you if you like gardening but I just don’t have the time.” I get where you’re coming from. As much as I enjoy planning and potting and planting I don’t want to spend all my time doing it. With that view in mind, we did raised garden beds to cut down on weed problems and save our backs a little. We fenced our beds in. We did companion planting and planted natural pyrethrins and bug-repelling plants, like Alliums, to help reduce bugs. We still had to deal with pests and remove weeds but it was much, much easier!

If you’re still thinking “nuts to that!” then swing by your local farmers market and help out those people that do like to get their fingers in the soil. You will be very happy (and lucky!) if you can get your hands on some of the lovely heirloom tomatoes pictured above. Support your local small-scale farmers!

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“How Does Your Garden Grow?”

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The garden at our old house

Happy Springtime, Everyone! I don’t know about you, but by this time of year my seed catalogs have been pillaged and the new batch of seedlings are in trays getting ready for the last frost to pass.

Gardening always gives me a feeling of accomplishment and security, even if all I manage that season are a few pots on the porch. There’s something wholesome about getting your hands into fresh earth and helping the seedlings grow robust over the summer. Breathing in the petrichor after a rain; eating that first ripe tomato, still warm from the sun and fresh from the vine… yum! I have not found tomatoes in any grocery store that can hold a candle to the flavor and beauty of home-grown heirlooms.

As this is our second summer in our new house, we’re putting a bit more effort into our home garden. We are hoping to save some of our own seed stock this year, so we need to let a few things, well… go to seed. Seed-saving is a great way to keep those plants you really like, and assure yourself that they will be available to you the next season.

Those of you who would like to try seed-saving, remember that you will need seeds that have not been hybridized. Case in point, I found an exceptionally tasty melon and saved the seeds, hoping to grow my own. I learned later on that this melon was a hybrid and the seeds were unlikely to produce fruit as good as the original. Sad movies for me!

I was successful with some Serrano peppers I found at a local farm market. That strain produced loads of some of the tastiest peppers with a great heat kick! I’m not sure if the seeds I have are that particular strain anymore (labels and dates are important, I’m told, lol!) but I’m going to give it a try. Hope for the best, I guess?

One last project I want to accomplish is the construction of a moon garden. I’ll post some pictures as the garden shapes up.

Until next time! Go get some mud on those boots!

“You’ve Been Too Gone, For Too Long” Randy Travis

Hi Everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve had any updates and I promise to rectify that immediately. I wish I could say that I’ve been terribly busy with all kinds of exciting things but, the truth is, I just couldn’t think of anything to write. Well, I still don’t know what to write but the reality is that I need to write.

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“Blocked” Unknown Photographer

 

Somewhere back in my dimly recalled youth some wise person said that one should “write through writer’s block.” At the time, I thought “that’s ridiculous, how can a person write if they have writer’s block?” The truth is you must write through it, and the strangest part: it works! The idea was to just begin by writing nonsense, essentially whatever popped into your head, until it triggered something that made sense. After some starting point was established, you could begin to flesh out the idea. This may take a few words or a few pages. In the end, though, you should be able to get some kind of headway established even if you end up deleting half of your writing.

In my college days I wrote almost constantly. It seemed like every day required at least 1000 or more words on some subject. There were definitely days where words would not come or nothing sounded right no matter how many times I re-wrote it. It was at those points where this idea came back to me. Sometimes, I would end up incorporating psychology terms into song lyrics just to get some words on the paper (obviously, those were changed into my own words and formal ideas before being handed in!) The main goal was to stimulate the creative juices in any way possible.

Now I can’t swear to that particular idea working for everyone, but it worked for me. If you have doubts, I will admit that method is responsible for this article. It didn’t start out as complete nonsense, the germ of an idea was there, yet the words still needed to be found and arranged into something more.

What’s really great about modern writing is that we don’t have to waste paper and other resources in “finding our sound” so to speak. We can cut and paste and edit to our heart’s content without filling a wastebasket in the process. If you need to write 10 pages of gobbledygook to come across an idea, go ahead! No one is going to know how long it took to get there or how many Floyd songs you “artistically altered” trying to come up with an idea!

“If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius.” Larry Leissner

Sunset

“Seeing the Light”

These are confusing times we live in. The sheer amount of information at our fingertips is staggering and it really is hard to know what’s truth and what’s fiction. Before the Internet we had to rely on published works *collective gasp*, but the cool thing was, you could put some trust in them. You could rest relatively easy in the knowledge that there were a team of proofreaders and editors somewhere along the chain of publication, watching for errors like hawks. Since those halcyon days, the Internet seems to have made us all somewhat more “laissez-faire” when it comes to the quality of our information.

These days, most people get their information online. I don’t know about you, but “Google it” is a common phrase in my experience. With millions of information sources, how can we know what to trust? Let’s look at some of the ways we can spot websites that are more reliable than others.

To give you a little background, what we’re looking for here is “journalistic integrity“. Think of it as the writer’s “Hippocratic Oath”. We are looking for a promise from the source to provide the truth in the most unvarnished way. We are looking for legitimacy.

Merriam-Webster defines “legitimate” as:

2:  being exactly as purposed :  neither spurious nor false <a legitimate grievance> <a legitimate practitioner>

3a :  accordant with law or with established legal forms and requirements <a legitimate government>b :  ruling by or based on the strict principle of hereditary right <a legitimate king>

4:  conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards <a legitimate advertising expenditure> <a legitimate inference>

We want to find websites that show documentation such as unbiased statistics, unaltered video or original transcripts, but we don’t want to stop there! We also want that documentation source to use reliable citations.

Citations carry their own qualifications depending on the audience for your information. If you’re just looking up facts for your own curiosity, the sources don’t need to be as stringent as when you are writing a Master’s thesis. If you cite “facts” from nikeyesblog.com (or some such) on your thesis, I assure you that unless it adds a very specific value from a trusted source (the leading expert on etymology, for example), it will not fly. Honestly, probably not even then.

Watch your domains. Anyone can buy a .com, .net, .biz, and even .org. Anyone with the will to do so can set up a website with any of those domains. Sites that end in .gov and .edu are, by and large, the most accurate and reliable when it comes to citation standards because they limit ownership. These endings signify that a site is affiliated with a government organization or an institute of higher learning.

Why Trust .gov Sites?  

Government sites, or .gov sites, are only available to genuine government entities. Try to buy a .gov site–it can’t happen unless you can prove that you are truly a U.S. government organization. For example, the AARP is a large organization with a fair amount of capital and political clout, but there is no AARP.gov.

Depending on how deep your conspiracy theories go, you may not trust any political sites. 😉  Well and good, however, government sites have to follow certain protocols and would immediately be called out by political fact checking organizations if there were errors (think “whistle blowers” like Politifact who cite all sources of information).

Why Trust .edu Sites?

There is a particularly good reason for trusting sites that belong to institutes of higher learning: peer reviews. Studies performed by college-level institutions are peer reviewed which means that other specialists from within the field must check the work for factual errors. Experiments will be duplicated for accuracy. Spelling and grammar problems should be non-existent. Let’s just say that the peer review process can be a trial by fire–if there’s an error, someone will find it! Peer reviewers take their job very seriously because they themselves could potentially be viewed with scorn if they fail to spot problems others find. Information released by .edu sites like http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/ source their information as a matter of course.

Spotting Bad Information:

Does the website have numerous grammatical errors? Constant errors in spelling and grammar should be red flags when searching information online. While every site experiences the occasional mistake, take note if they happen a lot or fail to post retractions of incorrect information.

Are there more than a few scattered sources of the same information? Meaning, does the information you found only appear on one or two sites or can it be found on many sites?

Does the website provide links to original source information? For example, if you are looking to see whether the berries you just ate are a poisonous variety, would you trust information that came from a Harvard botanical publication linked to numerous citations from experts in the field with lots of visual references or John Doe at nikeyesplantlore.biz? Maybe nikeyesplantlore.biz is chock-full of great information (and John Doe might be a great guy!) but who are you going to trust with your life? Although, if you are eating berries before checking them you may want to refer to 911emergency services first… just sayin’.

Are the links leading to trusted, verifiable outside sources or just different pages within the same website? Look at the actual web address. Does it have an affiliation with a different site? If so, is that site legitimate? Let’s say you’re looking at nikeyesblog.com. You find a “fact” that is cited by hyperlink. You click the link and it sends you to nikeyesblog.com/nikeyesversionoftruth. You are only getting the opinion of the person running that blog–no one else.

Check for dates. The Internet has been around for some time and the information may be outdated or recently disproven. Try to find information sources that are current, less than a year or two old at best, but no later than five years if possible.

Here’s one article that provides both good and bad sourcing in one page. The author makes some excellent points about the various news sources and has one great citation regarding the truth behind some accusations relating to the Sandy Hook shooting. The problem is, aside from the mention of some publications being longstanding and/or Pulitzer winners, the author doesn’t say how they came to the conclusion that the news sources were legitimate. Saying the New York Times “is still America’s flagship news source” without citing that assertion somehow, leaves it up to the reader to research whether that statement is true. While we might agree with them, this person could just be expressing their opinion for all we know…

Now that you have some ideas of what to look for, see if you can spot some examples of good and bad sourcing. Please share if you find a really stellar example (good or bad)! Happy hunting!

 

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons. —James Thurber

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“Suki”

Everybody wants to pet my dog. I don’t blame them, she’s friendly, fuzzy and totally adorable! Under normal circumstances, I’m happy to introduce her and let people pet her to their heart’s content. There are some times, though, (most times, actually) when running up and thrusting your face into a strange dog’s face (no matter how cute and fluffy) is not advisable.

I do everything in my power to keep my dog safe and I have to say that keeping her safe from careless, unthinking humans is the hardest part. My dog can never make a mistake or a judgment call. If she ever bit anyone, no matter what the circumstances, the chances are good she would have to be put down by a court order.

The following is a recent example:

Last weekend, we stopped off at a gas station on the way home. My husband went inside while Suki and I stayed in the air-conditioned car with the windows open somewhat to let her sniff the outside. Of course, her pretty face attracted attention as it always does. Some small children came up to my car to ask if they could pet my dog. To their credit, they waited until I got her into “greeting” mode and said yes. They were respectful and gentle and my girl was very sweet, submitting to the flurry of tiny, sticky hands with good grace.

The next person to come up was a full-grown man. He also asked if he could say hello to her. He did not have the courtesy to wait until I said yes, but thrust his hand into her face through the open car window. Suki’s a good girl, however, and tolerated the intrusion.

He asked where I got her and told him she was a rescue from a breed association. This man spent the next five minutes telling me how much he knew about “Northern” breeds and how he rehabbed rescue dogs. He then grabbed Suki by her cheeks and shoved his face into hers without warning. My heart stopped for a second, because neither me nor my dog were expecting this, but again, she took it in stride. His next move was one of serious stupidity, though.

He said “you look hot, doggie, are you hot?” Remember, we were sitting in an air-conditioned car with the windows 1/4 open in the back–she was not uncomfortable! I told him as much. He looked at me and said smugly, “most people don’t know how to check if a dog is hot” at which point he thrust his hand well into our car and down between Suki’s front legs. This was a mistake. It was “her” car and she has some sensitivity to having her legs and paws handled by strangers. She snarled and snapped at him (completely as a warning). I was in the front seat and in no position to stop him or her. After he pulled his hands out of harms way, he expounded on how his dogs never go out when the humidity was above such-and-such (I can vouch for the fact that it was likely far hotter and more humid in our house than it was in the air-conditioned car!)

This man was only concerned with his own self-aggrandizement and didn’t spare one moment of thought as to what might happen to my dog as a result of his recklessness. If she had bitten him, her life would likely be over, even though (I feel) he was completely at fault.

For my fellow dog parents with guardian breeds, you know why you chose to have them. Guardian types are fiercely loyal to “their” people and the hope is there that your sweet, loving puppy might at least look scary if someone thinks it’s a good idea to break into your house.

Part of owning these challenging and noble breeds is to do our level best to socialize them so their chance of making a rash decision is mitigated. Yet we can do everything right and still have some bonehead force a reaction out of them. Guardian breeds are more inclined toward protecting their family/pack than, say, Labs or Retrievers and it would be a good thing if people considered that.

What I’m asking is simple: Don’t take the chance of a dog losing their life because you can’t resist a furry face! Don’t say you don’t care if you get bitten. Trust me, if a person gets bitten in the face they will attempt to sue, almost 100% of the time. If a dog bites someone in the face–even accidentally grazes a cheek pressed into its face without warning–that dog’s days are numbered. ASK the owner of the dog in question if you can say “hello”  and WAIT for an answer before taking the initiative! Respect the owner’s wishes if they say no. Please be respectful around someone else’s dog and, if they’re an owner worth their salt, they should keep their pooch under control as well.

My dog’s life means more to me than your feelings or your desire to talk baby-talk and “schmooze” with her. If you can’t respect that, then get yourself something soft to carry around (“Of Mice and Men” style) to pet when the urge becomes too strong!

Of course, I probably would let you pet my dog if you ask me because she is social and well-behaved. Please keep in mind, though, that dogs are living creatures subject to their own feelings and reactions. I’m sure we all do our best to curb these natural inclinations of protectiveness and self-preservation in our canine pals, but in spite of our best efforts, well… stuff happens. Dogs can have bad days too. Please keep yourself and my dog safe by not putting her and me in an awkward position. Please give us a fighting chance to make it a good experience for all concerned!

“Don’t Let Fear and Common Sense Hold You Back.” Harvey Keyser

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Harvey A. Keyser

My father had a great many wonderful attributes. He was the type of man who could fit into any crowd and had scores of useful anecdotes, poems and quotes. I’m not sure how many of them came from his own mind and how many he commandeered for his own purposes, but I do know that he used them with great results.

For Father’s Day, I wanted to share one poem that has stuck with me since I was a small child; not just because it was something my dad taught me, but because it was highly useful in social situations. 😉 I used to be chronically bad about handing in assignments (I had a great childhood, full of diversions–homework was pretty low on my “to-do” list!) We were supposed to memorize one poem off of a list we were given in Language Arts. Of course, I didn’t even look at the assignment until the day before it was due. My dad to the rescue! He thought the poems on the list were pretty random, so told me to recite “Elmer Jones” for the class. It was a hit and the teacher loved it!

So today, I want to share the poem that came in so handy and stuck with me for so long. Dad, thanks so much for the poem, the great childhood, the horses, and all the other things you did for me! Loved you then, love you still…

“Elmer Jones”

Elmer Jones arose at dawn and put his huntin’ britches on and looked up at his shotgun on the wall. He made his mind up then and there, to bag himself a hunk of bear (with huntin’ he had plenty on the ball!)

He milked the cow and fed the hogs, kissed his wife and called the dogs, picked up his gun and started on his quest. He crossed the creek and hit the trees, threw back his head and sniffed the breeze, let out a yell and pounded on his chest!

Well, Elmer hunted the morning through, and not a bear come into view, and Elmer’s thoughts were on the kitchen range. For he was sick as he could be, of lamb, and chicken fricassee, and hankered for some bear meat for a change.

Elmer’s mind was in a fog, and so he sat down on a log to get his faculties back in the groove. He heard a noise, and standing there before him was a grizzly bear, and he decided it was time to make his move.

He grabbed his gun and turned around, but Mr. Bear just stood his ground, and Elmer said “it’s either me or thou.” The bear refused to move, so Elmer said, “I’m leaving as of now!”

His shoulders grew a pair of wings, his feet developed inner springs, to linger longer he was disinclined. He ran so fast through muck and mire, his ankles set his socks on fire, but still that bear kept comin’ on behind!

A deer with antlers 8 feet wide got in the way of Elmer’s stride and both of them went headin’ for the brush. Elmer said, “now listen, son, if that’s the fastest you can run, get outta my way I’m really in a rush!”

The bear was gaining inch by inch, and finally reached out for the clinch, when Elmer saw the fence around his place. He jumped the fence and landed hard, leaped 60 feet across the yard, and slammed the kitchen door in bruin’s face.

While the bear was trying to get inside, Elmer sought a place to hide, and Mrs. Jones began to pull her hair. She said “Now listen, goon! How come you think you’re Daniel Boone, who’s appetite on bear meat you must thrive?”

He said “Honey, I’m sure that you’re aware that Dan’l always killed his bear, but I done brought this baby home alive!”

In loving memory of Harvey A. Keyser

“All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.” ―Anonymous

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Rainbow Sky” Photo Credit to Tim Sees

It is true that the weather does not have to take criticism. The weather is above such plebeian worries as deadlines, bills, and pleasing customers. I am not lucky enough to be as carefree as the weather, so when criticism is offered, I make the best of it. This equates to using criticism as a learning experience. The things I like to keep in mind when receiving criticism are “how can this help me in the future?”, “is this constructive?”, and “am I being honest with myself?”

Now I’m not saying that every bit of criticism is valid (there are trolls in the world, after all!) but most suggestions are really helpful if we can keep an open mind and not take it personally. Being receptive to critiquing is particularly difficult when someone suggests changing something you’re really proud of. It’s hard to shake off the nettling feeling that “they’re wrong and I’m right”, but the truth is, other eyes don’t always share our rose-colored glasses. We might be overlooking some point that would be great for the piece, or not generating enough excitement for the part our client really wants to show enthusiasm for. Try not to let personal feelings get in the way of progress. We’re working to better ourselves and our product, after all!

Not all criticism is created equal, though. One of the more discouraging types of criticism might be better labelled as “micro-management”. This type of criticism is very frustrating because it tends to stifle the very creativity you were hired to use. What you have to remember in these situations is “they’re paying me to do this and I agreed to do the job, now see it through.” It can become soul crushing to work with someone who feels your work needs constant revision, but everything comes to an end sometime, even a trying assignment! There are times, however, when it’s best to cut your losses. Some paychecks aren’t worth the stress.

On the other hand, if I felt micro-managed more often than not, I would have to take a step back and really try to tease out just why this person feels the need to watch over my shoulder.

  • Am I understanding what they’re asking for? Am I really listening to what they are saying?
  • Am I truly making a good effort to implement the improvements they feel are necessary?
  • Do I have enough information going into the project?
  • Is something preventing me from doing what they want?
  • Are we being realistic as to our expectations from each other?

Nobody wants to hire someone who can’t take constructive criticism. Really. Nobody. It’s important to remember that most people are offering their perspective in order to help get a better outcome. Good critics don’t want to ruin your day, they want to help you succeed. Take advice, mentoring and criticism with a positive attitude and use that information to make your next project truly great!

 

 

“People see me as cute, but I’m so much more than that.” Ashley Tisdale

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about spell check and wanted a picture of a wether. I asked the Nigerian Dwarf Goat forum on Facebook for some pictures of their favorite wethers. The response was fabulous! I was offered so many adorable photos (and I have a soft spot for goats) I thought it would be cool to post them all as a separate post just for fun. 🙂

Akaya Lee

Akaya Lee’s “Dillinger”

Deanna England- Baca

Deanna England’s “Baca”

Brittiany Pitts

Photo Credit to Brittiany Pitts

Debbie Marie

Debbie Marie’s “Atticus”

Emilie Garcia

Emilie Garcia’s “Moose”

HollyBurkeThornton

Photo Credit to HollyBurkeThornton

Jessica Huffman

Jessica Huffman’s “Minion”

Leah Norton

Photo Credit to Leah Norton

Meagen Hood Zimmerman

Photo Credit to Meagen Hood Zimmerman

Nicole Morris-Matus1

Nicole Morris-Matus’s “Prince”

Nicole Morris-Matus2

Nicole Morris-Matus’s “Prince”

Reyna Jensen

Photo Credit to Reyna Jensen

Sarah Lindgren-Akana

Photo Credit to Sarah Lindgren-Akana

Waggin Tales Farm

Waggin Tales Farm’s “Oliver” 

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt 2

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt’s “Remmy”

Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt

Photo Credit to Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt

Aren’t goats just the cutest things! Thanks again to everyone who posted pictures!

“With automatic spell checkers running unleashed over what we compose, our era is that of correctly spelled typos.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

So I’ve been noticing some of the more common writing errors becoming, well, more common, even in professional writing. It seems there is a heavier reliance on spell check than ever before. Sure, it’s handy to have a little backup plan for those times when you fat-finger too many S’s into “success”, but reliance on spell check for important material is dangerous. Sentence structure can sometimes die at the hands of spell check. The problem is, spell check doesn’t argue semantics with you. It doesn’t take the context of what you are trying to say into consideration. For example, take the following two sentences:

It depends on the weather whether we can bring home our wether.

It depends on the wether whether we can bring home are weather.

Both MS Word and WordPress gave me guff on the word wether, even though it actually is a word. Spell check did not catch “are” instead of “our” in the second sentence either. Granted, not everyone needs to determine when it would be best to bring home a castrated goat. Still, sentence structure is important in getting your point across. The first sentence makes sense to a reader, the second does not–even if you don’t know what a wether is!

These, by the way, are wethers.

Which brings me to another point. It seems like a lot of arguments could be avoided if people used punctuation and font to give their writing a tone or “voice”. Italics help so much with this!

“You’re being silly!” in answer to “When am I silly?”

You’re being silly! in answer to “Who’s being silly?”

“You’re being silly.” in answer to “What am I being?”

All three sentences say the same thing, but apply italics and punctuation and you have a much clearer meaning. You can hear the speaker in the first sentence stress the word “being” as you read it. Because of the use of the exclamation point, you can tell they’re a little worked up, possibly laughing. If you put a period on the end of the third sentence, it sounds more like the speaker is exasperated. I suppose there is such a thing as overuse of italics and such, but judicious use really helps clarify meaning and immerse readers in the story.

The bottom line is: there’s only so much spell check and dictation software can do. Having a competent proofreader gives you some assurance that your meaning doesn’t get “lost in translation”.

Have a grate weakened! 😉

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Well, I’ve tried a lot of new things and, as a result, have made quite a few mistakes. Some mistakes have been large and embarrassing, such as the time (as a small child) I tried to jump over a low-hanging velvet rope separating me from the Easter Bunny at JC Penney. I tripped and pulled down the entire section amidst loud crashing, shouts of surprise, and not a little laughter from the onlookers. I hid and cried until someone found me (they were still laughing) and soothed my wounded pride. My mistake was not so much about stepping out of line, but more about stepping higher.

The problem most of us have with trying new things or pushing boundaries, is that we are worried about making some horrible, spectacular mistake. However, if we let the fear of making a mistake stop us from doing something outside our comfort zone, we stop growing and learning. Riding horses might be a fearful prospect, but the joy of galloping through a meadow with the sun shining down on you cannot be adequately described and, to those of us who have done it, it is well worth the possibility of falling off. Jumping out of a plane is not something that is very forgiving of mistakes, but the rush people feel while doing it overrides the fear.The biggest mistakes usually garner us more knowledge than the little errors and certainly provide fodder for our fears, but if we take the time to correct our mistakes and try again we may be rewarded with a newfound confidence.

Besides, spectacular mistakes make for great stories, although you may have to wait for the sting to go away before you can laugh at it.