Grammar Tip: Watch Out for the Trickster Phrase

Do not be misled by a phrase that comes between the subject and the verb. The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.

One of the boxes is open.

The people who listen to that music are few.

The team captain, as well as his players, is anxious.

The book, including all the chapters in the first section, is boring.

The woman with all the dogs walks down my street.


Stress Hack: The Best 20 Minutes You’ll Spend Today

Leave Stress Behind – Enjoy Nature

Taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. That’s the finding of a study that has established for the first time the most effective dose of an urban nature experience. Healthcare practitioners can use this discovery to prescribe ‘nature-pills’ in the knowledge that they have a real measurable effect.

Vinnie Struck Water, Oh Oh


Vinnie’s mom looks out the back window. She watches Vinnie, Joey, and Larry studying a large white poster board with lines haphazardly drawn over it. Dexter lies on the lawn next to Vinnie. Rupert sits on a table on the deck watching the boys and Dexter. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the cutest thing. The boys are busy talking and it looks to her like they are having fun. Vinnie’s mom thinks, Vinnie is finally settling into summer break. I can begin to relax and not worry about telling him who his teacher is until I get the official letter. Maybe they’ll change their minds. She silently wishes.

Vinnie’s mom walks to the deck door, slides it open and calls out, “Are you boys okay? Do you want some water or a piece of watermelon?”

Vinnie turns around and says, “No thanks, Mom. We’re really busy right now. Maybe a little later.”

Dexter wonders how Vinnie can turn down food. He’s not sure what watermelon is, but it sounds like it could be food to the beagle ear.

“What do you have on your poster board, can I see?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s a map of the yard, Mom. We’re making sure we didn’t miss anything when we were making it,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks, I wish I recorded this so Al could see it. He’d be so happy to see Vinnie and his friends enjoying whatever it is they’re doing. Vinnie’s mom takes one last look at the boys, Dexter, and Rupert and decides to take a long, relaxing hot shower. It’s something she hasn’t done in a while.

Vinnie’s mom goes into the bathroom, she selects the music app on her iPad and chooses an album by her favorite artist. She sets iPad down on the countertop. She lights a scented candle, turns the water on in the shower, and steps in. Five minutes pass, Vinnie’s mom is settling in to a relaxed state. She begins to sing with the recording artist. She lathers and rinses, lathers and rinses. In the middle of her third lathering, the water abruptly stops. She turns, twists the faucet, no water. She steps out of the shower and wraps a towel around her body and tries each faucet in the two bathroom sinks, no water. She picks up her phone to text Teresa Johnson next door to ask if she lost water, when . . .

“Mom, Mom, Mom, we struck oil. Come quick. We hit a gusher in the backyard,” screams Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom hears the door slam as Vinnie runs out of the house to stare at the oil strike. Vinnie’s mom tracks soapsuds through her bedroom, down the hallway to the kitchen. She looks out the window to the backyard. Vinnie, Joey, and Larry and are jumping up and down, hollering, “We’re rich. We’re rich. We’re rich.”

The boys surround a hole they dug in Vinnie’s yard. A streak of water is shooting thirty feet in the air out of the hole.

Vinnie’s mom’s heart reaches an anaerobic heart rate and her blood pressure spikes. She speed dials Vinnie’s dad.

“Al, Vinnie struck oil, I mean water in our yard. . . .  Don’t tell me to calm down, we don’t have any water. I was in the shower and I’m covered with soap. We’re going to flood out the neighborhood. Do something. . . .  Don’t call Mike, he’ll only make things worse. . . .  No, I don’t have a better idea, how about a plumber? . . . .  I know Mike did plumbing work without a license before he was arrested for stealing jewelry. . . .  I don’t care if you got him off with time served. . . . I am not going to stand under the geyser and rinse off.  . . .  I don’t care if the judge is banging her gavel . . .  Al? Al? Al?

Writers’ Wisdom: 7th of 7 Writing Rules by V.S. Naipaul

Rule 7. Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them. ~ V. S. Naipaul


A Song to Nobody ~ Thomas Merton

Song for Nobody 

Thomas Merton

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.
A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.
Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.
(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)
A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.