Move over, Strunk and White

Move over, Strunk and White
I love “The Elements of Style,” a.k.a. Strunk and White after its authors. I have a hardback copy, having worn out two paperbacks. But now I’m enjoying reading the new style guide in town, “The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century” by Steven Pinker (Viking Penguin, 2014). Pinker... Read more »

'The Right Attitude to Rain' (or cold or snow)

'The Right Attitude to Rain' (or cold or snow)
I enjoy savoring the novels of Alexander McCall Smith. Whether they’re set in Scotland or Botswana, settings with which Smith is equally familiar, the stories are always a fine mix of solving puzzles and contemplating mysteries. Sometimes, even Smith’s titles are mysterious — particularly in the series featuring the half-American Scottish philosopher/investigator Isabel Dalhousie. In... Read more »

A valentine to favorite words

A valentine to favorite words
Words, words, words… with apologies to Eliza Doolittle, I’m not sick of words. After all, where would I be without them? This blog would be just a collection of pretty pictures. (What would we say those pictures are worth?) Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, marks seven months since I began writing this blog. Thank you for... Read more »
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Song to the 147 bus in winter

Song to the 147 bus in winter
  Speed, bonny bus, like a bird on the wing! “Onward!” the riders cry; carry them all who are riding this thing along the Outer Drive. Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar, Snowy clouds fill the air. Baffled, two Joes stand by the door; get off? They will not dare!   Speed, bonny... Read more »

Psychosomatic? That hurts!

Psychosomatic? That hurts!
I’m worried sick when I think we might lose the meaning of a great word: psychosomatic. My dictionary gives the definition of the word as “designating or of a physical disorder of the body originating in or aggravated by the psychic or emotional processes of the individual.” “A physical disorder of the body.” It’s not... Read more »

When Margaret met Louis: In (and on) imagination

When Margaret met Louis: In (and on) imagination
I heard his voice on the night of the blizzard. That evening, I had stepped off a bus which was stuck in the snow. I fell first on one knee, then off the other and back to the first knee and the same side’s elbow. I stumbled home and went straight to bed, knees aching,... Read more »
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I could care less about this headline

I could care less about this headline
I could care less – but I don’t. The correct, once common, expression is “I couldn’t care less.” In other words, I don’t care at all. Whatever the matter is, it means nothing to me. The trouble is that more and more people are saying “I could care less” with a dismissive tone. They’re implying,... Read more »

A prayer in anticipation of its poet's birthday

A prayer in anticipation of its poet's birthday
I’ll be away from the blog for a while, celebrating Nicht Wi’ Burns — poet Robert Burns’ birthday. (It’s Jan. 25, but often celebrated on the Saturday closest to the great day.)  Yes, he lived from 1759-1796, yet Scots and Scottish-Americans (like your faithful correspondent) celebrate his birthday — and his work — every year. Here’s one of... Read more »

I would like to meet Robert Louis Stevenson, teller of tales

I would like to meet Robert Louis Stevenson, teller of tales
The theme for This Blogger Life this week is “who I would like to meet.” That it’s an author doesn’t take much deciding. (I’ll be reading my fellow bloggers’ writing to see how many agree with me there.) The trick is deciding which author. Dedicated readers might logically think that I’d choose Sir Arthur Conan... Read more »
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Charlie, what happened to 'je m'appelle'?

Charlie, what happened to 'je m'appelle'?
Recent events have put me in the familiar position of explaining and translating French words for family and friends — and now, for readers, too. As the reprehensible attacks in Paris begin to be analyzed, I’m left with a need for an explanation myself: Why “je suis” — I am — Charlie? One of the... Read more »
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    Margaret H. Laing

    I moved to Chicago from the south suburbs in 1986. I have diverse interests -- playing classical cello and following the Chicago Blackhawks are just two. I have worked as a journalist and in visitor services at the Art Institute. The two parts of my career are unified by storytelling -- which is a grownup way of saying that my other interests are all included in my love of words, languages and writing. That's why I'm writing this blog the way I am.

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