Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Dog's Life by Gail Roughton (as told to her by Max Branan)

I used to be an only dog. I remember those days. Life was good. Mine was the only food bowl on the floor. All the toys in the toy box were mine. No other belly vied for attention when I rolled over on my back. The last bite rule applied only to me. (The last bite of food any of my humans were eating, I mean. You know, that last bite of anything that tastes so good? The rule that it belongs to the dog, no matter how hungry the human is?  Wanted to clarify that, didn’t want y’all to think I was the one doing any biting. I would never!) At least, I think I remember those days. It was so long ago.

I’m Max, by the way. Max Branan. There’re eight humans in my family, Mama and Daddy of course—y’all know her as Gail Roughton ‘cause she writes under her maiden name, says it’s her love song to her daddy or some such—my human sister, Becca, my human brothers Lee and Patrick, Becca’s husband Jason, and Becca and Jason’s puppies, Austin and Kinsley. See, my birth Mom lived with Becca and Jason and got herself in the family way. Becca didn’t believe it at first because she said her dog didn’t do things like that. As if. What’d she think my Mom was? A doggy saint?  Anyway, all my puppy brothers and sisters got new homes but I’m the one who lucked out, ‘cause Patrick picked me out of all ‘em to bring back to Home Central.

Patrick did a search and told Mama that Max was the most popular name for male dogs and Maya the most popular name for female dogs, but that’s not why my name’s Max, un-uh. My name’s Max because about three days after Patrick got me vaccinated up with all the puppy shot prelims at the vet’s office and brought me home from Becca and Jason’s house I got sick. Real sick. So back to the vet I went and they said I had that parvo thing. With a fifty-fifty shot of making it out of the vet hospital alive. But I’m tough. I made it through with flying colors. And when I went back home, Mama (that’s Gail Roughton to y’all) said I looked as pitiful as the Grinch’s dog Max on the cartoon version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. So that’s why I’m Max. No popularity contest or anything involved. And boy, did they spoil me rotten or what?

So there I am. Dog heaven. I was about three, I guess. And then Jason found this stray on the side of the road. He thought she was a German Shepherd and probably a couple of months old. So he took her home. At first Becca thought it’d be great to have a German Shepherd for their baby – Austin wasn’t born yet, he came about two weeks after that – since my humans used to have a big white German Shepherd they still talked about. Only problem was, this gal liked to eat furniture. And she was scared of her own shadow and didn’t know the meaning of the words “house-broke”. Well, Mama’s such a soft touch. She took one look at her and then sent Patrick over to collect her. He named her Maya. To go with Max. Not so much because it’s the most popular female dog name as for the “M” thing.

And uh – by the way – German Shepherd, my wagging tail. As near full Doberman as makes no never mind. Mama and Patrick knew it first time they looked at her. The undocked tail and ears made everybody else hard to convince, until they saw a Dobie with undocked tail and ears on Animal Planet. Then they all yelled in amazement, “Hey! Maya’s a Dobie?!” Mama and Patrick just rolled their eyes. She was already as tall as my stomach when she first walked in the door and I ain’t no shrinking violet, I’m a fifty-five pounder myself. The vet really blew it, too. Told my folks she’d be about fifty pounds full grown. Try 110 pounds last weigh-in. Maya’s Mama’s shadow. And I got to confess, yeah, I fell in love too. Eventually. Oh, no hanky-panky or anything, both Maya and I have made that trip to the vet, but yeah, I love the girl. Mainly because Austin was born two weeks after Maya got to Home Central. And I liked the little bundle of screams and wet diapers, don’t get me wrong, but Maya? Oh, man, she fell in love. Took all my share of the eye pokes and pulled tail. All I had to do was walk up and lick his face every now and then. That kid grew up laying on her, sitting on her, standing on her. She loved it all. We got him grown to darn near human size and what did Becca do? She brought in a brand-new one and the whole thing started all over again. Though I got to admit, that Kinsley’s a pistol. Her “Hiya!’ makes my tail wag, I just can’t stop myself.

Only thing about Maya is – you got to watch the sudden noises. Mama knocked a kitchen chair across the floor once when she was sweeping. And Maya – man, she moved like lightening. Next thing I know, she’s sitting on Daddy’s lap on the sofa, all hundred plus pounds of her, with her arms wrapped around his neck! She looked just like that Scooby-Doo character when he gets scared and jumps in Shaggy’s arms, you know?

And then one Saturday night when Austin was about two, Patrick came home from work and called Daddy out to his truck. Now, that was weird, right there, man, ‘cause in this family, when anything’s wrong, you call Mama first. But I figured maybe his truck engine was making a strange noise or something. Not. Daddy walked back in and announced, “Patrick’s brought home a puppy.” Mama goes “For real?!” And Daddy says, “Oh, yeah. Says he was sitting by his truck in the parking lot when he got off work. ” So Patrick walks in with this little – and I mean little – bundle of black and white fur and sits it on the couch by Austin. Austin says, “Baby!” Funny, he was only two, but he knew that was a baby. Must be some universal baby language. Lee looked at Mama and said, “Did it ever occur to you that there’s always a baby something or other in this house?” Mama looked pitiful and said, “Oh, yeah.”

Poor Mama. She got another shadow with that boy. Patrick named him Murphy. Gotta keep that “M” thing going. He weighed maybe four pounds but he thought he was a Great Dane. He didn’t bother me that much, all I had to do was growl real low and he’d back off but Maya? Guess you can’t beat the mother instinct. He was all over her. All the time. Don’t know how that gal kept her sanity, if Austin wasn’t climbing all over her, Murphy was. Sometimes both of ‘em together. And feisty? That Murphy, he gets going, you’ll swear you need to call an Exorcist from the sounds coming out of his mouth! He’s topped out at twenty-two pounds, so he’s way the smallest of us, but dang, is he annoying sometimes! You can’t even lay your head on a pillow! And he’s always all over Maya!

Now, as a side note, I heard Mama tell Daddy, “Patrick conveniently forgot about showing me a picture of a friend’s litter of puppies on FaceBook a few weeks ago. Funny, how they were all little black and white bundles of fur, just like Murphy. Found him in the parking lot, right! In a box with a friend standing guard till Patrick got there!”

So there you have it. How I went from an only dog to a trio. But it’s not so bad most times. I guess it’d be pretty boring if I just had my humans. Like at Christmas, it’s kinda nice to have the two of ‘em in the middle of things with me. Gets kinda irritating, that last bite of food having to be split into three bites all the time, but still. Keeps me young. Hey Murphy!! Wait up!! That’s my stuffed squirrel and I don’t have all the stuffing out yet!!! Oh!  And before I forget, you can check out Mama here--   She's on the computer a lot, and I'm told I and the rest of the gang might make an appearance in an upcoming book she's got brewing. Which would only be fair, I mean, we put a lot of effort into distracting her when she's been working too hard.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's Open Just One by Ginger Simpson

“I think I hear sleigh bells,” my dad said every Christmas even though he was Jewish and didn't believe in the "reason for the season."  We'd scurry to our bedrooms and pretend to be fast asleep.  Being the oldest of four, I knew Dad was the one who went outside and attempted to make reindeer tracks in the dirt.  We didn't have a fireplace, so Santa had to come in through the door.  The important thing was that he came.

 How my mom and dad managed to give us such joy and the very things we wanted each holiday season when the raft shop where my dad worked at the local air force base paid ninety cents an hour escapes me now that I'm an adult and realize the cost of Christmas.  We thought we were in hog heaven when he brought home the canned rations packed as life-saving food for the misfortunates having to use the rafts.  They were a special treat to us.  Each one had a candy inside, and the crackers weren't bad either.  I can't recall a time those special treats didn’t put a permanent smile on my face and joy in my heart.

 Although Dad didn't actually celebrate the birth of Christ, he was always the first to shake the presents beneath the tree and search for gifts bearing his name.  Although we continually vowed to wait until Christmas morning to open gifts,  he was always the culprit behind the “let’s open just one.”

Sure, one package turned into two, and before we knew it, we sat amongst opened boxes and a landslide of wrapping paper, happy with what we'd received, but disappointed that once again we'd failed to wait until morning.  

So the tradition continues.  Christmas eve is our family time to celebrate, and I'm always urged on by my father’s voice in my head, telling me now from heaven, “just open one.  What harm can it do?”  Oh, we still have our Christmas dinner on the day of, and as a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Jesus, and I will be forever thankful for the parents he gave Jewish and one Gentile.

We weren't rich in the financial sense, but in love we were millionaires.  I’d give anything to have any one of those Christmas Eves over again, and hear my Dad’s sweet voice talking to me for real.  He’s been gone for over twenty five years now, but if you're listening Daddy, your “not so” little girl loves you and the legacy of respect and determination we gained from you.  I miss you still.  You remain my heart, and in your honor, I'll always open 'just one' on Christmas Eve…or maybe we'll open them all.

Hope you have memories that warm your heart.

Happy Holidays from the Simpson Family.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Creativity by Katherine Pym

I am a Seattleite. I wasn't born there, but when I stepped out of the airport, I knew I'd come home. In the winter, the Northwest is like a great big wine cellar, cool, damp, with grey skies from October to almost the 4th of July.

The grey skies spit water; the streets are like film-noire after WW2, and being so far north, the skies are dark most of the time. People go to work in the dark and go home in the dark. As soon as the clouds disperse, and a little sun shines, people run outside and take deep breaths. They don shorts, socks, and sandals, t-shirts; then over all this, throw on a hoodie. As the skies brighten toward summer, everyone goes out to play. The days are longer, the dawn and dusk taking their sweet time to ease into full day or night.

In the Northwest, there's not much you can do in the winter but endure. Movies, the mall, bookstores, television. When the rain drips and forms puddles in the roads, plumps up moss so that you feel as if you're slogging through a swamp, I retreat into a world of make-believe.

Praying for Creativity
This summer the Northwest was wonderful. Blue skies and long days, warm enough to rival America's warmer states. We grew bushels of tomatoes, green beans and peppers. During this time, I became distracted, couldn't keep focused. I stared at my computer screen wondering why. My work in progress slipped. It became dull, disorganized. I was getting frustrated.

My husband is a Texan. Where I can endure the Northwest, long winters, he cannot. We have a little homestead in Texas, and toward the end of September, we piled into the car and drove the nearly 2400 miles to our cabin in the woods. Rain dogged us across the nation, but once we arrived, the skies were blue, the weather warm, and the bugs were swarming. Husband was thrilled. I was still disorganized, my writing dull.

Through my disorganization, I lost touch with the story line. Stephen King says a writer should finish the first draft within a 3 month time span. I fell deeply short of that, so I decided I'd start over my work in progress. Re-read. Re-write. The skies were beautifully blue, the days warm. Idyllic. My work went slowly.

Awhile ago our local news said a hurricane from the Pacific was plowing across Mexico toward the Lone Star State. Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico poured over us, and a cold front from the North would clash with all these moist airflows. Storms would ensue with thunder and lightning. High winds. The temperature would plummet from the pleasing high 70’s/mid 80’s to unseasonable cold.

OMG, a weather event! Last year, the area had such a downpour, it dropped almost 14 inches onto our roof. It swept part of our driveway into the road. Others were flooded out. My Seattle experiences held nothing to this. We prepared for the worst. Still in shorts, I put on socks and slipped my feet into sandals.

For several days, the clouds dimmed the bright sunshine. Rain fell almost nonstop, but not the gully-washer of last year. This rain was a constant heavy drizzle. Big drops from the overhead trees plopped onto my head and shoulders. Steady. The air was cool, refreshing.

Couldn't go outside and play. Had to endure. Watching the skies drip, I reflected we lived in an over-sized wine cellar, but we had no wine. It was too wet to go out and buy some. We'll wait for the skies to clear.

Still in socks and sandals, I dug out my hoodie to walk the dog. Typed on my computer one and a half chapters. Researched and wrote a blog. Offered to write two more. Then a light bulb flashed in my eyes. An Epiphany struck. OMG, the rain outside was my type of weather. Like Seattle! It sparked and fed my creativity. I found myself back in the saddle again. 

My creativity glows when the weather is dull. How cool is that?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Doughy Truth - A Christmas Story by Diane Bator

The Doughy Truth

            The gingerbread dough was too dry and crumbly that year, which hadn't happened in all my years of cookie baking, at least not with my gingerbread, and it made me crazy. Every time I'd pick up a chunk to knead velvety smooth, it fell apart in my hands then litter the table with crumbs. 
            I thought I'd followed the directions explicitly just as I did every year before we'd moved two thousand miles from "home". I blended the molasses, sugar, water and shortening together before adding the flour, baking soda and spices. I worked it into a huge cracking ball of over-floured dough, which should have been my first clue there was something not quite right, before covering the dough with plastic and stashing it in the fridge overnight. Just like every other year. Filled with dread, I decided it might turn out once the dough sat for a while.
            In the morning, I worked the could dough and fretted over the crumbles falling out of my hands. I willed the dough to take on the same smooth texture as years past so the boys could make the cookies they had bugged me about for days. I didn't want to let them down now.
            Despite the technical difficulties, three smiling faces perched around the our glass-topped table to happily cut snowmen, teddy bears and Christmas trees. The dry, cracking cookie dough did little to dampened their determination or their enthusiasm.
            I shook my head, amazed at their reaction then realized it wasn't the dough that made this the fun activity and I'd worried all night for nothing. The dough was merely the magnet that drew us all together. My three boys were just as happy with crusty, stubborn dough as they would have been if it was as velvety smooth as usual.
            They were baking cookies with me.
            Of course, the fact we'd all ended up covered in flour and gingerbread crumbs only made things that much more festive. Their laughter and cheer came from knowing most of their creations would be given to friends and teachers. Each cookie, no matter how imperfect, was filled with our love and the gratitude of being blessed for all that we have. Each other.
            While we are thousands of miles from our families each Christmas, we are constantly surrounded by people who love us and who have become as close as family over the years. Those same people who receive our cookies and homemade treats in their packages will know they were made by hands and hearts that care and are grateful for their presence in our lives.

            They are truly the greatest gifts we could ever receive.
Merry Christmas to All....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014



 Life on the American and Australian frontiers has a strikingly similar history. For example, take the The American Homestead Act, and the Australian Act of Selection.

America: The original Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20th, 1862. It gave applicants freehold title to up to 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River. The law required only three steps from the applicant - file an application, improve the land, then file for a deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, including freed slaves, could file a claim on the provisions that they were over the age of twenty one and had lived on the land for five years.

The Homestead Act's lenient terms proved to be ill-fated for many settlers. Claimants didn’t have to own farming implements or even to have had any farming experience. The allocated tracts of land may have been adequate in humid regions, but were not large enough to support plains settlers where lack of water reduced yields. Speculators often got control of homestead land by hiring phony claimants or buying up abandoned farms.

Most of us visualise the frontier home as a rustic log cabin nestled in a peaceful mountain valley or on a sweeping green plain. But in reality, the "little house on the prairie" was often not much more than a shack or a hastily scratched out hole in the ground. In the treeless lands of the plains and prairies, log cabins were out of the question so  homesteaders turned to the ground beneath their feet for shelter. The sod house, or "soddy," was one of the most common dwellings in the frontier west. The long, tough grasses of the plains had tight, intricate root systems, and the earth in which they were contained could be cut into flexible, yet strong, bricks.

Ground soaked by rains or melting snow was ideal for starting sod house construction. When the earth was soft and moist, homesteaders would break the soil with an ox- or horse-drawn sod cutter, which was an instrument similar to a farming plough. Sod cutters produced long, narrow strips of sod, which could then be chopped into bricks with an axe. These two- to three-foot square, four-inch thick sod bricks were then stacked to form the walls of the sod house. Soddy roofs were constructed by creating a thin layer of interlacing twigs, thin branches, and hay, which were then covered over with another layer of sod. To save time many sod houses were built into the sides of hills or banks. Some settlers gouged a hole in a hill side, so they only had to build a front wall and roof.
As a result of their extremely thick walls, soddies were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Soddies were also extremely cheap to build. Of course, there were drawbacks to sod-house living. As the house was built of dirt and grass, it was constantly infested with bugs, mice and snakes. The sod roofs often leaked, which turned the dirt floor into a quagmire. Wet roofs took days to dry out and the enormous weight of the wet earth often caused roof cave-ins. Even in the very best weather, sod houses were plagued with problems. When the sod roof became extremely dry, dirt and grass continually rained down on the occupants of the house.
A typical American log cabin measured about ten by twenty feet, regardless of the number of inhabitants. Settlers often built lofts across the cabin roof or lean-tos across the rear of the cabin to give the family more space. Typically, frontier cabins featured only one room, which served as kitchen, dining room, living room, workroom, and bedroom.

Homesteaders could often build a log cabin in a matter of days, using only an axe and auger. No nails were required for the task. The first step in construction was to build a stone or rock foundation, to keep the logs off the ground and prevent rot. Once the foundation was laid, settlers would cut down trees and square off the logs. These logs were then "notched" in the top and bottom of each end then stacked to form walls. The notched logs fitted snugly together at the corners of the cabin, and held the walls in place. After the logs were stacked, gaps remained in the walls. Settlers had to jam sticks and wood chips into the gaps, then they filled in the remaining gaps with cement made out of earth, sand, and water. Fireplaces were built of stone, and often had stick-and-mud chimneys. Most cabins had dirt or gravel floors, which had to be raked daily to preserve their evenness.
Australia: In the colony of Victoria the 1860 Land Act allowed free selection of crown land.  This included land already occupied by the squatters, (wealthy land owners) who had managed to circumvent the law for years and keep land that they did not legally own.

The Act allowed selectors access to the squatters’ land, and they could purchase between 40 and 320 acres of crown land, but after that, the authorities left them to fend for themselves. Not an easy task against the wealthy, often ruthless squatters who were incensed at what they thought was theft of their land.

In 1861 the Act of Selection was intended to encourage closer settlement, based on intensive agriculture. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied land and were prepared to fight to keep it. The bitterness ran deep for many years, often erupting into violence.

The first permanent homesteads on the Australian frontier were constructed using posts and split timber slabs. The posts were set into the ground, about three feet apart, according to the desired layout. Slabs of timber were then dropped into the slots. A sapling or similar, straight piece of timber ran across the top of the posts, which allowed them to be tied together so they could support the roof. Clay was often plugged in between the joins and splits of the cladding to stop draughts. The internal walls were sometimes plastered with clay and straw, lined with hessian/calico, white washed or simply left as split timber. Roofs were pitched using saplings straight from the bush and often clad with bark. Early settlers learnt from the aborigines that large sheets of bark could be cut and peeled off a variety of trees and used as sheets to clad the roof.

So, it can be seen that there is not much difference between the Australian Act of Selection and  the American Homestead Act. In both countries frontier life was tough, and only the strong and resilient survived.

Margaret Tanner writes historical romance set in Australia.



Monday, December 1, 2014

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT (or, Is Anyone Out there?) by Shirley Martin

     Of all the physical sciences, none seems to defy logic and understanding as does astronomy. Or so it seems to me. The numbers alone challenge understanding. For example, when astronomers state that the universe was created in one billionth of a second, the time element seems incomprehensible. Yet that's the time span given for the Big Bang--a cosmic explosion of an intensely hot fireball that resulted in the creation of the universe, about twenty-billion years ago. 
    To better understand the time span from the creation of the universe to man's appearance on Earth, think of a twenty-four hour clock. Man appears in the last few seconds before midnight.

    The universe is so vast that its size, too, defies understanding. More than one-billion stars comprise our galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy. And there are millions of galaxies in the universe. Does that give you an idea of its immense size? Furthermore, the universe is expanding at a tremendous rate. That means that stars, planets, and all heavenly bodies are moving away from each other. The more remote the body, the faster it's moving. This expansion of the universe is called "the red shift."

    If you can get away from city lights and look up at the night sky, you'll see a countless number of stars shining in the heavens. With all of these stars in the night sky--millions and millions--the night sky should be a blinding sheet of light. Yet it isn't. The night sky is dark. The darkness of the night sky presented a paradox to astronomers in the past. (Many may not know it, but Edgar Allan Poe was a skilled astronomer. The dark night sky puzzled him, too.)

    The puzzle was eventually resolved in the deliverance of time. Stars don't shine forever. They shine for millions or billions of years, and then they burn out. The first stars began shining about fifteen-billion years ago. So why is the night sky dark? When we look far out in space, we are looking back in time. We see the light of the stars, but they are no longer there. They died out years ago, but their light is just now reaching us. The farther out in the sky we look, the farther we are looking back in time. It has taken millions of years for their light to reach us, even though they died out eons ago. The sky is an image of the past.

    The astronomers' term for this relationship between time and space is referred to as "lookback time." It was Albert Einstein who proved that space and time are interwoven.

    I used to wonder what the edge of the universe looked like. If the universe is finite--if it has an end--then what lies beyond it? Now astronomers state that there are many universes, going on and on.
    Now considering our own universe, with its billions and billions of stars, one might wonder if there is intelligent life beyond our planet. Can there be an Earthlike planet, with just the right ingredients for intelligent life? Scientists refer to this as the Goldilocks criteria, not too hot and not too cold. SETI--The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence--has been seeking intelligent life elsewhere for years. But even if there is intelligent life elsewhere, how could we reach them, or how could they reach us? Distance appears to be an insurmountable problem. According to the laws of physics, nothing travels faster than the speed of light. It could take men on earth thousands, even millions of years to reach a habitable planet, a self-defeating pursuit. Wormholes, if they exist, can be dangerous. So how could we travel to outer space?  All you Trekkies, do you have an answer?
    I can't conclude this discussion without saying something about the Christmas Star, or the Star of Bethlehem. Scientists now know that the Star of Bethlehem wasn't a star but a planet--most likely Venus, or a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter--shining brightly over the town of Bethlehem.  
    For those who want to read more about the universe, "The Red Limit" by Timothy Ferris is a good place to start.
    If fiction is more your cup of tea, may I suggest my own books with Books We Love. You can find them here at and at Amazon. I write historical, paranormal, and fantasy romance, so you have a varied selection to choose from. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I'll Never Leave Your Pizza Burning: An examination of misheard words, phrases and lyrics, by Kathy Fischer-Brown

The English language is rich with idioms, odd turns of phrase, and regional colloquialisms. For a foreigner trying to learn English (whether it be of the American, British, or other variety), it can be a daunting task...even tricky…to say the least. Same with children just starting to talk. How we hear and interpret these words and phrases can often have a lasting effect on how we speak them.

Which brings me to one of most entertaining…and even amusing... of these curiosities of warped perception, the “mondegreen."

Coined in “The Death of Lady Mondegreen,” a November 1954 essay published in Harper’s Magazine, the mondegreen was writer Sylvia Wright’s explanation for misheard words in a favorite poem of her childhood. The Bonnie Earl o'Moray from Thomas Percy’s “Relics of Ancient English Poetry” contains the following:

Ye Hielands and ye Lowlands,
O, whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And laid him on the green.

To Ms. Wright’s young ears, the words sounded like this:

Ye Hielands and ye Lowlands,
O, whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

To quote the author, "The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original."

Better? Judge for yourself.  How many of you, having listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon,” misheard a certain lyric as I did? (“There’s a bathroom on the right”surely useful information.) The Beatles were masters of creating mondegreens. For example: “The girl with colitis goes by,” "She's got a chicken to ride," and “All my luggage...” The Rolling Stones in "Beast of Burden" promise, “I’ll never leave your pizza burning” (I'd have no other guy). Annie Lennox had it right when she  promised, "Sweet dreams are made of cheese." And what about that cute, cuddly critter, “Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear"? National anthems are not immune, and in this instance, more than true: “O, Canada, I stand on cars and freeze.” For all you Boomers, did you know that Davey Crockett was “killed in a bar when he was only three”? Let’s not forget The Young Rascals and their loving threesome, “You and me and Leslie.” But the most famous of all has to be Jimi Hendrix with his “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” I could go on.... But I'm sure we all have our own personal mondegreens.

I first became acquainted with mondegreens in a hilarious 1978 article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, titled “I Led the Pigeons to the Flag,” in which William Safire, tongue in cheek, stated that some guy named Richard Stans was the most saluted man in America. Despite his politics, I was a big fan of  Safire's "On Language" column, reading it religiously every week. This one, in which he tackles the "misheard," was arguably one of his best. He called the misinterpretation of words and phrases “false homonyms,” or “The Guylum Bardo Syndrome.” He presented a lovely thesis on how some misheard words and phrases have actually found permanence in our lexicon. He cited a few etymologies, such as the evolution of “spit 'n’ image”—often spelled now as “spitting image”and how “kit and caboodle” is sometimes written “kitten caboodle,” which he described as “a good name for a satchel in which to carry a cat.”

"Mondegreen" turned out to be Safire’s preferred label for this phenomenon of substituting perfectly reasonable words where the actual ones are ripe for misinterpretation. It also lends support to Wright's assertion that modegreens are, in many cases, better than the actual rendition. This is especially apparent as it applies to the poor Earl o’Moray.

Safire closed his brilliant piece by expressing how much more romantic and appropriate it is that, instead of simply being “laid on the green” to die a cold and lonely death, the earl had company. Perhaps he even held the hand of the beautiful Lady Mondegreen, “both bleeding profusely, but faithful unto death.”

Yes, I will agree with Sylvia Wright. Some mondegreens are infinitely better than the original.

Links to Sites Featuring Mondegreens

(Not by any means comprehensive)

Kathy Fischer-Brown is an author of historical fiction, whose novels are published by Books We Love, Ltd. Find her at: 

Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...