The Power of Words: ‘I Can’t Get Enough Words!’

 

My older cousin Rosetta was off to college when I was still in knickers. My aunt said she was brilliant, finishing high school and college early. She went on to teach school in New Jersey for thirty years. I only saw her on holidays and a few vacations at her dad’s cottage in Butler, PA.

We recently began to talk by phone after all these years. She still has the same musical voice. Even on a serious topic, she sounds melodic. Her voice is clear and concise, no stutters, sputters or slang, and it’s also a link to the familiar. When I hear it, our deceased relatives pop up in my mind, laughing around a feast of turkey, stuffed cabbage and homemade pumpkin pie, or the sound of cards being shuffled, knocking on the table and the scent of cherry pipe tobacco.

One year she came for a holiday dinner. Her hair was long and blonde, and she wore a dark blue velvet mini-dress. “Hi Uncle Will and Aunt Mary!” she exclaimed. I was dressed in fringed bell bottom jeans, a silly t-shirt and wore a floppy yellow hat with a peace sign to hide my pimply 7th grade face. My Uncle Al practically boxed my ears upon arrival. A devout Catholic, he hollered that the “peace sign” was the cross upside down, a mockery! Those ‘words’ delivered a verbal punch. I quickly yanked my hat off embarrassed, but all I remember thinking was, I want to grow up looking like Rosetta.

In our current conversations, I learn she has an aversion to computers, has a flip phone, and hates answering machines. I find this odd, considering her lifelong curiosity to learn. I knew she was a national Scrabble champion for a number of years. She said she has friends who compete on line, but that was not for her. ‘I have to sit across from my opponent, study them…..observe the board, pick up the wooden letters in my hand, and turn them over and over. I want the whole experience.’

We talk about our passion for books, and she says, “I love words, I can’t get enough words.” I’ve never heard anyone say that. “I even look at the ticker across the bottom of the TV screen during the news and create anagrams, new words.” I think wow, she would have made a great CIA analyst or become rich on Wheel of Fortune!

I told her I read “The Chimes” this past winter by Dickens. “I taught Dickens”. She’s read all 90 plus Agatha Christie novels, read and taught all the Classics. I told her I found a book by Upton Sinclair at a library sale, my first. She asks which one? There’s not a hint of boasting, just sharing her lifelong love of words. Now she’s into detective stories. No eBooks for her (or me). She says when she gets a new or old book, she holds it in her hand for a bit, wants to smell the paper, read the Table of Contents, the author’s bio, observe the jacket art and prepare for a new journey. I do the same thing.

My smart and pretty cousin Rosetta recently made me realize that words are amazing –they can be a gift or a curse. Ask anyone who’s married, it’s all in the delivery. Words can break or uplift a heart, start a war or end one, take you to the Tuscan countryside from your back porch, teach you a new language, or even link you to the Creator, whose words also remind us of the wisdom of no words – when to be silent. I think I can’t get enough words either. Thanks Rosie!

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Front Seat Cat: “I love words, I can’t get enough words.”

    Sounds like more than one person in my family.


    This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series under this month’s theme of The Power of Words. We still have half a dozen openings on our schedule and sign-up sheet. If this reminds you of the power of words or Scrabble competitions in your life, why not go sign up for a date to share it all with us?

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Beautiful! 

    • #2
  3. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    These group writing posts are amazing.  We have so many really good writers like Front Seat Cat on Ricochet that it’s rather intimidating.  It’s hard to stay up. Ricochet is a writer’s site.  

    As usual (I know this from teaching English for 30 years) that the best writers tend to be females—like Front Seat Cat.   I don’t know why.  Is there something in estrogen that helps females write well?  

    At any rate, your post is wonderful, Ms. Cat.  I always enjoy your posts. 

    Kent 

     

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Ricochet is a writer’s site.

    It is indeed.

    I think we are the next Inklings. :-)

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What a lovely post with terrific imagery!! I so identify with your theme. If I have an addiction, it’s for books. My husband used to have to pry my old books out of my hands that I knew I’d never open again so we could donate them to the library. Now I do get ebooks, mainly because my library has no limits!! Thanks, FSC!

    • #5
  6. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    “..But, oh, sick children of the world! 

    Of all the many changing things

    In dreary dancing past us hurled

    To the cracked tune that Chronos sings, 

    Words alone are certain good! 

    Where are now the warring kings?

    Woukd-be mockers! By the rood, 

    Where are now the warring  kings? 

    An idle word is now their glory

    By the stammering schoolboy said,

    Reading some entangled story.

    The kings of the old time are dead. 

    The wandering Earth herself may be

    onky a sudden, changing Word, 

    In clanging space a moment heard, 

    Troubling the endless reverie. ” 

     

      W. B. Yeats

     

    • #6
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Front Seat Cat: My smart and pretty cousin Rosetta recently made me realize that words are amazing –they can be a gift or a curse. Ask anyone who’s married, it’s all in the delivery. Words can break or uplift a heart, start a war or end one, take you to the Tuscan countryside from your back porch, teach you a new language, or even link you to the Creator, whose words also remind us of the wisdom of no words – when to be silent. I think I can’t get enough words either. Thanks Rosie!

    She has an appropriate name.

    • #7
  8. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    These group writing posts are amazing. We have so many really good writers like Front Seat Cat on Ricochet that it’s rather intimidating. It’s hard to stay up. Ricochet is a writer’s site.

    As usual (I know this from teaching English for 30 years) that the best writers tend to be females—like Front Seat Cat. I don’t know why. Is there something in estrogen that helps females write well?

    At any rate, your post is wonderful, Ms. Cat. I always enjoy your posts.

    Kent

    Thank you Ken – I’m a huge fan of your writing – and now a huge fan of Bob!

     

    • #8
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What a lovely post with terrific imagery!! I so identify with your theme. If I have an addiction, it’s for books. My husband used to have to pry my old books out of my hands that I knew I’d never open again so we could donate them to the library. Now I do get ebooks, mainly because my library has no limits!! Thanks, FSC!

    Letting go of books, especially the old ones is tough.  It seems the older I get the more I want to read, since I have shelves of unread books – my husband thinks its nuts that I read several at once instead of finishing one at a time – especially with unrelated material – maybe I have a touch of ADD….

    • #9
  10. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    I’ve collected books all my life beginning at the age of eight when my aunt in England sent me a biography of the young Queen Elizabeth II. There’s something  about the smell of ink when you open a brand new book that brings an excitement in anticipation of the words within.  I love old books too and have combed the dusty shelves of used book stores looking for hidden gems. One such gem is Tennyson’s Works,  given to a loved English teacher by the name of Miss Maud Hood from her students at the Oceanside School in 1902. To be truthful, I never quite trust people who don’t have books in their homes. What kind of narrow-minded people are these who don’t read? Having said that, I have also discovered the delight of my Kindle app and the ability to carry 65 books with me when I get on an airplane. But most of all, my aging eyes love the ability to increase the type size and put my finger on a word I don’t quite understand and up pops a definition. Love it!

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve collected books all my life beginning at the age of eight when my aunt in England sent me a biography of the young Queen Elizabeth II. There’s something about the smell of ink when you open a brand new book that brings an excitement in anticipation of the words within. I love old books too and have combed the dusty shelves of used book stores looking for hidden gems. One such gem is Tennyson’s Works, given to a loved English teacher by the name of Miss Maud Hood from her students at the Oceanside School in 1902. To be truthful, I never quite trust people who don’t have books in their homes. What kind of narrow-minded people are these who don’t read? Having said that, I have also discovered the delight of my Kindle app and the ability to carry 65 books with me when I get on an airplane. But most of all, my aging eyes love the ability to increase the type size and put my finger on a word I don’t quite understand and up pops a definition. Love it!

    We might be kindred spirits! Recently when I went to our local semi-annual library book sale, the whole “antique/vintage books” table was quarantined off with tape. It’s the first table I go to and I was bummed.  I asked why they roped it off – they said the principal for a new local school bought them all because he wants them available – the classics – the old history – poetry etc. for the students that will be coming to the new school! Good reason! 

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy Coolidge
    CarolJoy
    @CarolJoy

    Your introduction to this interesting woman makes me wish I could meet her.

    Are you going to printout your account and mail it to her? I bet it would make her day.

    • #12
  13. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    CarolJoy (View Comment):

    Your introduction to this interesting woman makes me wish I could meet her.

    Are you going to printout your account and mail it to her? I bet it would make her day.

    I am emailing the link to her husband – I think she’ll get a kick out of it!

    • #13
  14. Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock
    @HankRhody

    Front Seat Cat: I told her I found a book by Upton Sinclair at a library sale, my first. She asks which one?

    Late high school, or perhaps early college, I picked up a copy of his A World to Win at a library book sale. Learned quite a bit from that book, if not the lessons he wanted me to. Wasn’t a bad read either.

    Lovely post. She sounds like a person well worth knowing.

    • #14
  15. Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock
    @HankRhody

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    I love old books too and have combed the dusty shelves of used book stores looking for hidden gems. One such gem is Tennyson’s Works, given to a loved English teacher by the name of Miss Maud Hood from her students at the Oceanside School in 1902.

    I’ve got a used copy of Scarne on Craps; someone had gifted it to their father. By the condition of the spine he never read it. That inscription is actually a really sad story.

    • #15
  16. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Hank Rhody, Doctor of Rock (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat: I told her I found a book by Upton Sinclair at a library sale, my first. She asks which one?

    Late high school, or perhaps early college, I picked up a copy of his A World to Win at a library book sale. Learned quite a bit from that book, if not the lessons he wanted me to. Wasn’t a bad read either.

    Lovely post. She sounds like a person well worth knowing.

    Thank you Hank. That was the book I found – I’d never heard of him.  Apparently, he was a go to for teaching history.

    • #16

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