Monday, March 7, 2011

Saying What You Mean

I love words…I like to play with them, create with them, paint pictures with them, entertain with them. And there are words I just love to say – like discombobulate (which SO sounds like what it means! As does flagrant…jus’ sayin’…), or cryogenic or abscond or gymnasium. There are words that sing to me…the sound of them and their meaning both – like luminous or supernal or nebula or coalesce. Language is my foundation, I’m very right brain. Ask for a poem or a story, I’m your girl. Need help with math? Umm.. Go Fish…

Where am I going with all this? Well…to work, actually. As I pulled into the parking lot this morning I looked up, and saw this.

One of the advantages of living where I live and working where I work is that the mountains are RIGHT THERE. In your face, as it were. Some people feel threatened by this (my mother was one of those, she said she was always afraid they were going to fall on her). But I’m the opposite. Looking straight up and seeing those towering peaks gives me such a feeling of security and safety, and I’m all “God’s in Heaven and all’s right with the World”-ish.

This morning, though, the towering peaks looked a little insubstantial. And I couldn’t decide if the feeling was ephemeral or ethereal. I suppose either could work, but I tend to be a bit obsessive about using the right word. (When I’m writing fiction I will sometimes halt complete scenes in mid-action just to search for the perfect word. [Can’t you just see one of my characters, teetering on the edge of a precipice, yelling: “Get on with it, already!!!”??] I know this quirk flies in the face of convention, those who teach the craft or who give advice will admonish writers to just continue on and stick the right word in the blank space later. I’ve never been able to do that…I can’t finish a thought or a paragraph if there’s a hole that needs to be filled with that conclusively definitive, indisputably precise, unconditionally explicit, and unambiguously accurate word.)

(I also love my Thesaurus.)

The definition of ephemeral is brief, episodic, evanescent, fleeting, fugitive, impermanent, transient; whereas ethereal means aerial, filmy, gaseous, ghostly, tenuous, unearthly, vaporous. Now you could pose the argument that since the weather changes constantly (the old joke is, if you don’t like the weather in Utah [or insert your favorite locale], wait fifteen minutes), a word that means fleeting or transient could work. But I’m going with ethereal on this one – and not just because of the vaporous reference.

I walked around the corner of the building to get a different perspective, and it had already changed just a little bit. (Oh shoot! That means I need to choose "ephemeral." See? Unbelievably anal...)

What the picture actually means, of course, is that it isn’t quite Spring yet. In fact we are due to see a cold front come through…in just a few hours…which will bring snow again. They’re predicting 30 inches in the high mountains and perhaps four inches on the valley floors (oh goody, I'm just lugubrious about it). I’m not really ready for hot weather, but a little green and a few warm gentle breezes would not come amiss.

for now,



  1. Did you say Gymnasium? mmmmmmmmm..... with all those wondermus words.... gymnasium? ok...... The mountains are truly gorgeous.... Glad your day is a bit better than yesterday. Enjoy your BLOG.... write more often :)
    The resident maroon.

  2. Those pics are gorgeous! Not that I envy your weather. I'm happy here where snow is a novelty, thank you very much. But anyway, glad to see you're writing, sis... and you do it so well! Your "oh goody, I'm just lugubrious about it" made me laugh out loud. Plus, I totally identify with the word searching thing. I have a hard time moving past those road blocks, too. Keep up the good work!