If you can keep your head, while all about you are losing theirs, you probably haven’t checked with your service recently.  Being short of inspiration for a blog theme, and too damned lazy to do some research, I decided to relate how I came to begin blogging.  It’s not as fantastic as, “Meteor strikes housewife on head,” but the steps leading to it just kept bringing up the thought IF.  You’ll see it a couple of times later.

I am a word-nut and language lover.  When I was working, I used to do two crossword puzzles a day, one of them at the plant, and depending on the job, sometimes on the line.  Since I retired, I have found another crossword available on-line, and now do three a day, plus six word-jumble puzzles each week.  I found a word in a puzzle one day and said, “I’ll have to look that up in one of my dictionaries, when I get home.”  One of your dictionaries??!  How many do you have?

Had to stop and count, at least eight, ranging from a 350 page secretary’s, to two 2000 pagers.  One of those was printed in 1952, and gives archaic words and British usage.  The other is modern and gives American-isms and technical terms.  Also possess a Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary thesaurus, an etymological dictionary, a word menu, two French-English, English-French translators, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Oh, no!  We had the partridge for dinner last week.

Searching for words could get a little time-consuming, and frustrating, so I started using the Dictionary.Com website, where I found my third daily cross-word puzzle.  They print several articles a week about words, punctuation and usage, and there is a discussion thread where I soon learned to linguistically give and take.  Didn’t take much.  I’d like to think that 75% of the writers were in grade six or lower.  That was about the level of writing.  Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word usage….all atrocious, especially for a dictionary site, but some of the posters mentioned jobs.  Egad!  You want fries with that?

One night I saw an ad to explain the connection between Starbucks, and a great white whale.  I thought I knew what it was, but clicked it anyway.  I wasn’t even paying enough attention to realize that I had left Dictionary.Com, and had been dropped at the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress.  The first thing I saw was a message that the authors of this article had withdrawn it from publication.  I looked the page over and saw other articles.  None of them did much for me until I hit “Burrito Rage.”  Being a great fan of food, and particularly TexMex, that sounded delicious, so I clicked on it.

BrainRants had been on the blogscene for a couple of months and had been put up on FreshPressed.  Somehow they forgot to take him down for almost three weeks.  I read Burrito Rage, and laughed my ass off, and read the comments.  Then I sifted my way through his archives, and it only got better.  Damn!  This was nirvana.  Erudite people correctly using and spelling four-syllable words.  As I had on the dictionary site, I started to make comments, and Rants encouraged me to.  I learned to click on his commenters and go to other, similar sites, and was enthralled.

I had only been vaguely aware of “blogging”, and wasn’t even aware that my daughter had recently started one up.  I started gushing about all the stories, and jokes and wordplay that I was finding, and the wife and daughter decided that they had found a retirement hobby for me.  I mentioned to BrainRants that the daughter was setting up a blog for me, and he graciously offered to blogroll me, as soon as it occurred.  I didn’t even know exactly what a blogroll was, or what an honor was being extended to me, but I jumped at the chance.  I still haven’t worked out the complexities of attaching a blogroll to my own site, but should do it soon, to honor and spread the renown of a talented group of writers and blogs which I enjoy.

Talk about taking the road less travelled!  This is a road I didn’t even know existed seven months ago.  This is also like the butterfly effect.  Tiny chance after tiny chance after tiny chance have led me here.  If even one causative factor had not followed the one before, I would have missed out on some great times with some great people.

If I had not decided to save time and energy and go digital with my dictionary.  If I had not been so displeased with the quality of communication at Dictionary.Com.  If I had not pursued Ahab’s white whale, Moby Dick, all the way to WordPress.  If the Starbucks authors had not withdrawn their post.  If BrainRants had not been FreshPressed.  If any other of Rants’ posts had been selected for Pressing.  If Rants had not encouraged a tongue-tied fumble-fingered yokel to join the party.  Science fiction literature has been described as, The World of If, and this is so unlike the world I dwelt in up till a year ago, that it almost feels like science fiction right here on Earth.

I know that I am not as creative or exciting as most of the bloggers I follow, but every writer has a niche.  Mine is quiet and sedate.  I have been able to attract 35 followers, and slowly the number grows.  The flair and élan of some of them make me wonder what they find in my prosaic writings, but, all of you who follow, or even just drop in to read, are a balm to my ego.  I thank you all.  You encourage, and make an old coot happy.

24 thoughts on “IF

  1. I’m envious that you can do crossword puzzles. I have a rather large vocabularly but since I can’t spell worth a damn, I suck at crosswords and scrabble. Bummer. Glad you found your way over here.


    • ‘If’ is by Rudyard Kipling isn’t it? It’s the first poem we’ve done in English that I’ve ever liked. My teacher likes very dreary, miserable depressing poems and ‘If’ was a welcome change. Crosswords are very good for the mind, but I have a head full of words I only vaguely know the meaning of, and can use in a sentence, but can’t define! I read the dictionary when I was 9. I didn’t know you’re not supposed to.


      • Archon's Den says:

        If is, indeed, by Rudyard Kipling. If this is the happiest, I despair for the rest. Who says you’re not supposed to read the dictionary? I started reading it at six, and even today, when I look up a word, I linger to read the rest of the page, or two, or three.


      • Yep, so when we had to write a poem of our OWN, everyone thought all poems were depressing, so actually 99% of them were about suicide. Nice! I suppose it is good to read the dictionary since I have quite a wide vocabulary, but another thing is that I don’t know how to pronounce a lot of the words in my head (I told my food tech. teacher I needed a ‘manger toot’ thinking I sounded very sophisticated!)


    • Archon's Den says:

      Thanx Savor. You edit my tact, I’ll edit your spelling, and we’ll both be smarter.


  2. You,my erudite friend, are a joy to read. I enjoy your word choices and placements and I am delighted that you occasionally stop by my little corner of blog world to leave words of encouragement.


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    I like your memoir here Archon, and your writing style. To me it captures the spirit of what lures most bloggers, the sense of candid communication with another mind. There is a safety in doing this in in the blogosphere that isn’t available in one’s personal physical world, except perhaps situations like conversing with a stranger on an airplane whom you will never see again. Personally I get something of the same kind of pleasure out of certain first-person fiction like that of John Sandford and Lee Child, a sense of being allowed inside another interesting mind. Is that too weird?

    I share your love of dictionaries and words. Earlier this year I was delighted to discover that Merriam Webster has crafted a product for the iPad that combines the functions of a dictionary and a thesaurus. Merriam Webster is also the very best at etymology in my experience. When connected to wi-fi the application will even pronounce any word for you and will respond (not always reliably) to voice inputs for searches.

    I hope this isn’t nationalistically impertinent of me to suggest, but are you ever inclined to get the USA Today newspaper up there? Reason I ask is that, in my opinion, they have the world’s best crossword puzzle, sodoku puzzle and several smaller word puzzles. I am thoroughly addicted to them. Sodoku is strictly numbers of course and it probably says something about me that I like marveling over the patterns and losing myself in them.

    Good post.


    • Archon's Den says:

      We can play a game of Remember When. I’ll go first. No slouch at math, but my love is the language. I think I’ll stick with it.


    • Hi Jim, I don’t think we’ve ever met, so to speak, but I wanted to comment on what you said about safety in confiding in strangers. In many ways the entire goal of couples therapy is to create safety in the relationship so each person feels safe enough with each other to be open and candid. This is true intimacy. Being canciid with strangers isn’t intimacy because it is without risk. But to be candid with the closest people in your life, that is true intimacy. Not saying I’m super good at it, but I do strive to create it in own life. I want to feel the kind of comfort that comes from feeling that safe with the people I love most in the world. I’ve been able to create that with a few of my closest girlfriends, and some day hope to build that with a man – to feel that safe with my husband.


      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Hi, Savor. Nice to meet you.

        I totally get what you’re talking about because my wife and best friend, Mollie, and I are fortunate to have that intimacy you’re talking about. We’ve been married 51 years now and have been through many stressful times and three sons, but our love and trust in one another has never waned. During the height of the Vietnam War I was deployed as Navigator on the heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul when it made back-to-back deployments to the gun line. Over a period of 16 months I was gone for 13 months and home only on weekends for 3 more while the ship was in repair. When I was at sea she wrote me a letter every day (yes, every day!) telling me only the positive details of her day and the kids – she would number them so when the mail arrived I could read them in sequence. I would get a packet every couple of weeks. She ran the finances, paid the bills, did it all when I was gone.

        She and I have discussed how fortunate we are to have found each other – it was happenstance, not planning, but we both felt a connection when we first met, a similarity of personality. We are both conscientious people, conservative in financial matters. I tend to be authoritative and she rather compliant (although we have had many fights – her Irish temper is fearful once aroused!). She is motherly, nurturing, extremely giving of herself. I am socially needy. We are like two magnets, perfectly aligned. We finish each other’s sentences sometimes.

        It’s not like the marriage didn’t take effort on both sides, it did of course, and we fought over stresses like all couples do, but we never came close to breaking that inherent bond of interdependence and compatibility. Our marriage is the most important thing I’ve ever had.

        I wish you luck in your search, Savor. In my opinion, it is more a matter of compatibility than being adaptable. Keep searching for the right fit – he’s out there somewhere.


  4. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I liked what your friend, Jim said – “a sense of being allowed inside another interesting mind” that’s a great way to put it! Glad you are here, Archon!


    • Archon's Den says:

      I’m glad we’re all here. This is the first time and place The Loner has felt he belongs. We need a big picnic. I’m out of ammo, so your place is out. Let’s all meet at Sandy’s.


  5. kayjai says:

    Very nice, Archon and glad you could join our little party here in blogosphere. It wouldn’t be a partay without ‘ya!


  6. ladyryl says:

    Ah yes… my work here is has become well rooted. This is the kind of stuff I grew up with folks, I am so glad he can share it with others now ~ Dad, just remember to come up for air now and then to deal with mom’s task list or she will get cross with both of us…


  7. It is a better hobby than the other two LadyRyl or I could come up with. One was restocking the stuff that people shopping have unshopped, or collecting grocery carts, especially from handicapped parking spaces.

    I have noticed that the letters to the editor have decreased. Although, they always thought you were too wordy. This way you get to rant, or share you worldly wisdom, and nobody tries to confine your prose to 50 words or less.

    Keep on blogging, but don’t forget to come up for air. Love 3*tease.


  8. Smaktakula says:

    Believe me, there’s something to be said for a sedate style. I sometimes wish I had a little more of that myself, honestly. Sometimes I’m too in love with a clever turn of phrase for my own good.

    And DANG–you own a lot of dictionaries, m’man!


  9. Archon's Den says:

    Upstairs, downstairs, bedroom, computer room, never know where/when you’ll need one. Might have to look up Smaktakula at a moment’s notice. Online dictionaries just have no restrictions.


  10. Nicole says:

    Very interesting post. It is amazing how many new possibilities are unlocked in the world of blogging. Glad you found your way into WordPress.


  11. Sightsnbytes says:

    IF I had not stumbled upon your blog, I would have missed all the quirky takes on life that you have written about, and all the great comments that you have provided on my posts. I am glad I found your site, great reading!


  12. If can be rather magical, can it not?


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