Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trouble with words

As mentioned in my profile, I love to read. I read every day, first thing in the morning, and last thing in the evening, and usually lots in between. I consider myself reasonably intelligent with a large vocabulary. I can even usually figure out the meaning of a word I haven't come across before, using my knowledge of Latin and Greek, and sometimes the clues in the context. But this week there was a word that rang no bells.

On page 130 of The Boy He Left Behind by Mark Matousek I read (regarding his Bar Mitzvah) "I couldn't understand a word of what I was reading, but the rabbi, a kindly man with...a lacquered combover, seemed impressed that I'd taught myself to read...."

What ever is a "com*bover," "a lacquered com*bover"? Is it some kind of ritual box? I'll have to look that one up, I thought, so I wrote it down, with the page number for reference, on the little square of paper I was using for a bookmark. That was Monday. Once in a while I'd notice the word on my bookmark, but never got around to checking the meaning. Today, as I was vacuuming the living room, it suddenly dawned on me: not a com*bover, but a comb over!

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so stupid!

But it reminded me of a similar misunderstanding that my brother-in-law Jack had once. He looked at the word "two" and somehow didn't recognize it. "T/woe" he said, "What kind of word is that!" (He was a perfectly intelligent person, a pastor for a while, and then a social worker.)

Sometimes our brains play funny tricks on us! But it was worth a good laugh for me today, and I immediately shared it with Jim. Of course, I was telling him; he wasn't reading it, so I pronounced it, com/bover. He would have recognized it in print immediately, just as you did.

This is a poor year for our vegetable garden. I keep a garden journal from year to year, and by this date we're usually picking peas, zucchini, sugar snap peas, even cabbage and squash. So far we've had a few small strawberries whereas we'd usually have had several mounded colanders full by now. I've also picked lettuce, Swiss chard and onions this year, but that seems like not much compared to the usual bounty.

However, the flowers are looking great. The first
picture shows the garden right in front of the house. I don't know what the little round bubble is, probably just the sun on the camera lens.

The second picture is the rose garden immediately in front of the house. This was full of Bleeding Hearts, but their bloom is finished and now the Adelaide Hoodless Roses are taking over.

There are Virginia Creeper vines crawling up the stucco and screens on the downstairs. In the fall they'll add welcome colour to the landscape.

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