Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How I Know Winter's Officially Over, The Joy of Spellcheck, Why I Blog

While snow was still falling this morning on eastern Long Island, the City of White Plains officially declared the end of winter. Not by proclamation, mind you, or by adherence to the astronomical calendar which placed the end of winter last Thursday. 

Rather, White Plains put action behind its conviction that no more massive storms will drop snow within our fair city’s borders. A Dept. of Public Works employee came by this morning to remove the red metal pole and flag from atop the fire hydrant in my cul de sac. There’s still an iceberg of slowly melting snow in front of the hydrant, but the city no doubt is confident its trucks will not have to plow any more flakes onto the heap.


Spellcheck Doesn’t Catch Everything: If I have one continuous fault I am willing to own up to, it is my inability to let small writing and speaking mistakes escape my correction. I particularly find “between you and I” to be highly objectionable. Are we not teaching that “between” is a preposition and that the object of a preposition can only be “me,” not “I”?

Not that I am infallible. It is très difficult to edit one’s own copy and speech, though I did have a rule on my magazine that any copy editor who changed even a comma in my manuscripts had to first run it by me for approval, or else. 

I've become a little less pedantic in my dotage, except when it comes to résumés and cover letters I review. But I still occasionally point out an error when I am amused by its presence. Such was the case in an email from Ellie earlier this week suggesting a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she works. 

“I just wondered through this contemporary Chinese art show, which closes April 6, and it was so good … maybe you could see this show … It's great how it's installed among the rest of the collection, rather than in a separate gallery,” she wrote.

To which I replied, in part: “Don’t take this the wrong way, that is me trying to correct you all the time, but I was tickled by a mistake you made in your note that actually makes perfect sense. You wrote, you "wondered" through the art show. You probably meant "wandered," but wondered actually conveys a real sense of discovery and joy.”

Spellcheck doesn’t work when the wrong word is spelled correctly. Sometimes, it’s for the best. BTW, Gilda and I will be going to see the exhibit next week. For those who can, take Ellie’s suggestion and see it, as well.


Preserving the Past: It is difficult to gauge how readers will react to any single post. Monday’s story about my father’s reunion in Perth, Australia, with his first love elicited some heartwarming notes of personal stories from their respective families. 

When I started this blog four and a half years ago one of my objectives was to initiate remembrances among readers through the stories of my family’s history. While I wanted to bring you into the Forseter family sphere, I would have been less than fulfilled if I did not make you reflect on your own, individual heritage.

I am not alone in trying to capture history for the next generation. The NY Times recently ran an article titled, “Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time,” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/business/preserving-family-history-one-memory-at-a-time.html?ref=business). 

As far back as the mid-1980s my brother, sister and I videotaped our parents and their siblings. Within the last year I transferred the tapes onto DVDs, and with the help of our nephew Eric have made copies for each of our children. For Gilda’s family there’s a DVD of their early life in Saratoga Springs, NY. 

Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite fiction characters. It would not be too much of a stretch to quote his oft-repeated phrase, “Time is of the essence.” If you’re not already doing something to preserve your patrimony, get cracking. 



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