But does it rhyme with orange? #WondrousWordsWednesday

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

My way of celebrating National Poetry Month

Who knew that A Poetry Handbook would be good for so many new words?

This week, I learned words that describe rhyme from page 59 of A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver.

I would have guessed couplet — that’s just when line 1 rhymes with line 2 and line 3 rhymes with line 4 (aa bb cc dd, etc). Tercet, or triplet is the same, only with three rhyming lines (aaa bbb ccc ddd, etc).

I remember the word quatrain, but I didn’t remember the rhyming pattern — it’s abab cdcd, etc.

I don’t recall ever hearing the term terza rima (according to Wikipedia, I would have if I’d ever studied Dante). The scheme is aba bcb cdc ded, etc. That looks like it would be fun to write, or a big head ache, depending on the mood of the poet.

Did you remember these terms? Or ever learn them in the first place?

button for Wondrous Words Wednesday memeWondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

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Top 10 Book Characters Who Live in London #Top10Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic at The Broke and The Bookish: Top Ten Characters Who X, where I get to determine X. So, I’m going with X = Live in London.

The first five characters will be from books I’ve read:

1. Rebecca Seaton from River of Fire by Mary Jo Putney. My impression of what it’s like to be an artist in London (albeit Regency London).

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett2. Sherlock Holmes from A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. My impression of what it’s like to solve mysteries in London (albeit Victorian London).

3. Sara Crewe from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I fully expect a pet monkey to save the day should I encounter any problems in London.

4. Frank Doel, the London book dealer in 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Shopping for books in London sounds like heaven!

5. Bridget Jones of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Completely defines my expectation of what it would be like to live in London in modern times.

The next five characters are from books I want to read:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia WoolfJohn Harmon from Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens.

Alexia Tarabotti from Changeless by Gail Carriger

Clarissa Dalloway from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

Lord Peter Wimsey from Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers.

Richard Mayhew from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Who are your favorite characters that live along the streets and alleyways of London?

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Readers’ Workouts — April 21

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I keep falling behind on my goal to exercise 1500 minutes, and then catching up in one long day of hauling, shoveling, raking, and weed-pulling. On the off days, I’m walking, dancing, or stretching. The yard work provides enough strength-training. I better pay attention here near the end of the month, though. I could run out of month before I have a chance to balance out the minutes.

Talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

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What Am I Reading? A Monday Reading post because I’ve lost track

Moon over the Linnean House

Moon over the Linnean House

Did you see the Full Moon? I missed the eclipse but had a rare opportunity to take photos of the moon at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

For British Isles Friday, I posted about a cooking class for British foods with funny names like Toad in the Hole. Other bloggers contributed book reviews, trip photos, and historical pieces. Join us each week on Friday for more.

My Readers’ Workout post last week also included my first experience with power gardening equipment. It worked because I have lettuce, spinach, and radishes sprouting in my garden!


Soulless by Gail Carriger

Urban fantasy steampunk alternate history comedy romance

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann was the book selection for last week’s book club meeting. I finished it with 24 hours to spare — which is good for me! We had a great discussion. I’ll post a review for British Isles Friday this week.

I finished Soulless by Gail Carriger last night. I think I’ll dive right in to the next book in the series and save my review for when I’ve read them all, as I did with the Finishing School series. Obviously, I enjoyed it! There’s a satisfying romance, even while the whole thing reads like a parody of romance. It’s a hoot!

I finished all but the recipe section of The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff. I may work through it again before I write a review. I think this will be a break-through book for lots of people, but not everyone. So I want to think about it some more.


For National Poetry Month, I got another Wondrous Words Wednesday post from  A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, including the quote about why iambic pentameter is such a popular choice for poems in English.

I’m still reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. How many weeks have I been saying that?

Other books that I have in various states of completion:

  • DK Eyewitness Travel: Great Britain
  • Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
  • Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick
  • Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Will Read

The books I thought I’d be reading by now:

  • The Illustrated Longitude by Dava Sobel
  • Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson

I signed up for Dewey’s Read-a-Thon. That might help me get my reading more organized!

What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Meme Graphic

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Be sure to check out her post today to see her selections and the list of links to all the other participating bloggers.

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#SundaySalon (the Easter edition)

Moon over Latzer Fountain

Moon over Latzer Fountain

Happy Easter! Did you know that the date for Easter is based on a moon phase? It’s the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the March equinox. I didn’t get up to see the lunar eclipse, but the next night I happened to see the full moon while at the Missouri Botanical Garden and to take a couple of good photos.

Time: // 8:43 am.

The scene: // Spring sprang here, finally! We’ve got another sunny, warm day to celebrate.

Listening to: // Goofing off with an Easter playlist on Spotify.

Reading: // I’m back to the never-ending book, Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. Can’t stop now, Isaac Newton is about to explain how the universe works.

Frozen DVD cover

featuring the power ballad, Let it Go

Watching: // I saw Frozen last night (which would be why Let it Go is on my Easter playlist) and really liked it. Visually, it’s just stunning. Frozen reminded me of the classic Sleeping Beauty in that way — I once watched Sleeping Beauty with the sound turned off just to appreciate the artwork of it. Disney put the Let it Go scene on You Tube so you can get a sample.

We also saw Philomena this week. That reminded me of a film we watched while we were preparing for our trip to Ireland. If you want an even darker look at the convents that took in unwed mothers and other troublesome women to use as forced labor, watch The Magdalene Sisters.

Blogging about: // A cooking class where I learned to make traditional British dishes with funny-sounding names: Toad in the Hole, Bubble and Squeak, and Spotted Dick. 

The teacher for the British cooking classes also sells scones at the Farmers Markets — I bought scones and clotted cream yesterday for our Easter Sunday breakfast!

Participating in// Dewey’s Read-a-Thon! It’s on Saturday. I’ll likely get a late start because I’ll be at a wedding the night before. 

We had another good week of posts on British Isles Friday — photos, history, book reviews.

What are you up to this fine Sunday?

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Moon in the Garden #SaturdaySnapshots

After learning how to make oddly-named British foods, like Spotted Dick, this week (check out my post for those photos), I got to walk through the Missouri Botanical Garden accompanied by a Full Moon. That’s an unusual event for me, so I took a few moments to take some photos.

I don’t have much experience with moon photography. Most of the photos didn’t turn out because I moved too much. If I get a next time, I’ll play with the shutter speed setting to see if I can get some better results. But I was pretty happy with a couple of shots.

Moon over the Linnean House

Moon over the Linnean House

Moon over Latzer Fountain

Moon over Latzer Fountain

Saturday Snapshots logoSaturday Snapshot is hosted each week by Melinda of West Metro Mommy Reads. Check out her post this weekend for lots of great photos around the web.

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Strange Name, Great Taste — British Isles Friday

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! Did you enjoy our links last week? I got a kick out of the video Becca found to demonstrate the variety of British accents. What have you read, watched, or participated in this week that related to the British Isles? Join us for British Isles Friday using the link list below.

For my post this week, I have another class to describe. A couple of weeks ago, I posted photos from a class offered by the Missouri Botanical Garden called The Unofficial Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. The same teacher, Jane Muscroft of Queen’s Cuisine, taught Strange Name, Great Taste at the Garden this week. We learned to make these traditional British dishes:

  • Toad in the Hole
  • Bubble and Squeak
  • Spotted Dick

Toad in the Hole is Yorkshire Pudding with sausage links baked into it. The sausage peeking out is supposed to look like the toad. American sausage isn’t much like British sausage, so Jane used bratwurst, the closest equivalent in St. Louis. Toad in the Hole is usually made in a casserole dish but baking it in a muffin tin makes a nice version for single servings. The photo shows Jane putting the sausages in the batter with the mirror above so we can see what’s happening on the counter.

Toad in the Hole

assembling Toad in the Hole

For our side dish, we had Bubble and Squeak. Jane said this was always served on Monday evenings when she was growing up, using the leftover potatoes and vegetables from Sunday dinner. The funny name is supposed to reflect the sound the dish makes as it’s being cooked. Mashed potatoes and vegetables are re-heated in a skillet long enough to give the potatoes a brown crust. Here, Jane is turning over the potatoes so more bits of it get browned.

Bubble and Squeak

Turning over the Bubble and Squeak

Jane also fixed a warm brown onion gravy to go over our savory dishes. Yorkshire Pudding is an airy bread with a silken texture that made a nice contrast to the spicy sausage — the Toad in the Hole. The Brussels sprouts in our Bubble and Squeak provided good color and flavor to the vegetable dish.

Toad in the Hole with Bubble and Squeak

A delicious meal of Toad in the Hole (on the left) and Bubble and Squeak (on the right), all served with a brown Onion Gravy.


For our dessert, we had English custard spooned over Spotted Dick. Spotted Dick is a steamed pudding made with suet (so, unusual for desserts, Spotted Dick is not traditionally vegetarian). Raisins form the “spots.” There doesn’t seem to be an authoritative answer to why it’s named Dick, but that word didn’t have the same connotation in Britain as it does in the US.

Jane made two puddings for our fairly large class, one is in a glass bowl (in the mirror, it’s just to the right of Jane’s neck) that she later covered with wax paper and then put right into a pot for steaming. She shaped the one under her hand into a log which will go into a steamer basket after being wrapped in wax paper. The log-shaped one reminded Jane of another funny name for this dish — Dead Man’s Arm. Before wax paper became cheap and common, a cook might use an old shirt sleeve as the wrapper for the pudding. (Would you rather eat Spotted Dick or Dead Man’s Arm?)

Spotted Dick

Making Spotted Dick


Spotted Dick, as shown here, is traditionally served with a custard sauce. The class liked the comfort food experience of the pudding along with the slight citrus flavor that came from the lemon zest in the Spotted Dick.

Spotted Dick with English Custard

Spotted Dick with custard sauce turned out to be a homey, warm comfort food of a dessert.

new Weekend Cooking logo

Have you eaten Toad in the Hole, Bubble and Squeak, or Spotted Dick?

Since this was a cooking class, I’ll also link to Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads tomorrow for more culinary posts around the web.

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A Day Devoted to Reading — Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Dewey's Read-a-Thon buttonThis month’s Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, a week from Saturday, falls on the perfect day for me this year — the day after a family wedding. I won’t want to do anything but read! I probably won’t be up bright and early at 7AM, however.

I signed up to be a cheerleader, too. In my experience, reading and cheering together make for the most fun Read-a-Thon. Join us at the cheerleader recruitment post.

Will you be participating in Dewey’s Read-a-Thon on April 26?

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Iambic Pentameter and Other Terms #WondrousWordsWednesday

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

My way of celebrating National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, I’m reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver and finding some delightful words to share for Wondrous Words Wednesday. Last week, the words were about the sounds that letters make. This week, I learned (and re-learned) the words that describe the rhythm of a poem.

I remember the term iambic pentameter but wouldn’t have done well if requested to supply a definition. First, we need to understand the words foot and feet. A line of metrical verse is divided into feet depending on how the stresses fall. One common foot in English, the iamb, is a light stress followed by a heavy stress.

The length of the line determines how many feet will fit. In the case of iambic pentameter, there are five feet. So in a pure line of iambic pentameter, there are ten syllables. The first syllable has a light stress and the second a heavy one and that pattern continues through the whole line.

Why is iambic pentameter so common in English? The pentameter’s line…

…length matches the breath capacity of our lungs. The iambic foot has wide currency for a similar “natural” reason. It is the paramount sound in any string of English words, thus it is the most fluid, the most uncontrived sounding meter. Phrases falling naturally into the iambic pattern are noticeable in every kind of writing. Compared to it, any other meter, in fact, sounds “composed”–not unlike one of those snapping flourishes of the drums. (p. 47)

If I ever learned the names for the other types of feet, I long since forgot them. Here they are:

trochee: two syllables, first heavy and second light. Here’s a whole line of trochee feet from Shakespeare’s MacBeth:
Double, double, toil and trouble.

dactyl: three syllables, first heavy and two light. Some words that are natural dactyls: happiness, beautiful, elephant.

anapest: three syllables, two light and last heavy. A famous example comes from Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee:
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
So, even though I said that beautiful was a dactyl, the way it’s placed in this line changes it. The first syllable of beautiful is the heavy stress at the end of the first anapest foot. The second two syllables are the light stresses at the beginning of the second foot.

spondee: two equal stresses. Compound words often form a spondee foot (sometimes in an otherwise iambic line) — think chalkboard or bookcase.

Did you remember these terms? Or ever learn them in the first place?

button for Wondrous Words Wednesday memeWondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

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My Bookish Wish List — Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic at The Broke and The Bookish:  The top 10 bookish things (that aren’t books) that I would like to own. This seemed to be begging for a Pinterest board rather than a post, so here’s my list: Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books). I may keep adding to it, but for now there are ten.

Happy Tuesday!

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