Category Archives: Uncategorized

Homophones – a viral epidemic

Homophone is a confusing word. Homo means same, similar, or alike. But phone? Nope. A homophone is audible, but not an electronic device.

After my post about the U.S. Library of Congress Trump to/too (not tutu) faux paus, editors keep a keener eye (not aye) out for homophones—words that sound alike but convey a different meaning. See if you can spot the homophone mistakes in this short prose without the use of your spelling or grammar-check program.

Homophones cantor through the computer gait. Editors, like jockeys, reigns in hand, race foreward down the tract toward the finish line in a determined manor. The words hide, stationary on screen, waiting for the editor to waiver. Instead, she knits and pearls the maize into a fashionable story that vales the queues of mistaken identity.

Grammar Police Award

Maybe farfetched that you, the savvy author, would make the exaggerated mistakes above, but here’s a BOLO (be on the lookout) from me, the grammar cop. Like drinking and driving—only not as dangerous—these common homophones can destroy your clear record.

Wind your way through these wry words to the bottom where the edited prose quiz awaits.











































Here’s the edited homophone test with correct words in italics.

Homophones canter through the computer gate. Editors, like jockeys, reins in hand, race forward down the track toward the finish line in a determined manner. The words hide, stationery on screen, waiting for the editor to waver. Instead, she knits and purls the maze into a fashionable story that veils the cues of mistaken identity.


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Saving Daylight

When I was in first grade, my mother let my twin and me play with neighbor kids anywhere on our block in our small town if their parents were home. Her safety rule was to “be home by dark.”  I had several close calls when I dashed onto the covered front porch in the waning light of sunset. I needed more light after school.

Piggy Bank

One cool spring day at the end of World War II, I overheard my father talking about the return of “War Time.” War sounded terrible to me until he said it was a way to save daylight like people did during the war. Grandpa Carr had saved cans for dimes in the war. Maybe I could save time like pennies in my amber glass piggybank. Excited about a way to prolong sunset and play longer, I asked him what it had been like to save time.

He harrumphed and shook his head. “Like cutting off one end of your blanket and sewing it on the other end to make it longer.”


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Friggatriskaidekaphobia – Friday the 13th

black-cat-pixabay-1292960__340ladder-pixabay-510578__340My mother was superstitious. She wouldn’t walk under a ladder. Actually, that showed her common sense. On a walk through the one-block square park one evening long ago, Mama took my twin and me by the hand as we approached the far side of the shortcut and turned us a different direction because a black cat crossed the sidewalk in front of us. If it was safe for the cat, why not for us?  Our home was a shotgun style meaning that the front and back doors were in a direct line (one could see the backyard from the front porch if both doors were open).  Mama’s superstitious ways insisted a person who entered the front door, exited the back to see the garden or chickens, must reenter the house and depart through the front door, not leave by one of the backyard gates.

Today, Friday the 13th, I’m repeating portions of a blog I first posted on May 13, 2016.


In Escape, one of my five crime fiction works in progress, I begin with a tight-knit genealogy group called Ghost Chasers (GCs) meeting for Friday lunch in the fictitious town of Pleasantville, Texas. These Friday meetings are the core of my manuscript, but writing rules insist that I minimize repetitious words in a single paragraph or close proximity. But how else to say Friday?

Weighing a decision of whether GCs will meet today, I researched superstition associated with friggatriskaidekaphobia, fear of Friday the 13th.

Now, my genealogists have a new mystery to solve when one of their members vanishes on Friday the 13th. If I need an alternate word for Friday, I’ll let one of my characters say Frigga. Frigga means Friday.

Calendar 13





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Penultimate Volunteer


Penultimate. A strange word that doesn’t fit a writer’s day-to-day activities. When I think of P-words, I begin with procrastination, shift to progress, and end with publish. Other P-words like paper, pen, and phrase leave a positive trail to paragraph, page, and print even if they eventually disappear like Hansel’s and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. Penultimate sounds like a harsh ultimatum when a dogmatic person says, “I laid down the law and they obeyed.” The true meaning of penultimate, an adjective, is the second to last issue of a publication.

blog-397826__180Don’t worry. That isn’t applicable to my blog. I’ve resigned from a volunteer position as newsletter editor for a nonprofit writing group where May will be my penultimate issue of that publication. I’m also stepping down from several other volunteer activities to get back to writing. Until July, I hope you’ll enjoy my brief vibes, updated blog reposts, and short, short stories.


The Thief

Thief-PixabayHe visits me every day, this unwelcome guest. He slips in unnoticed after I brew morning coffee. He peeks over my shoulder as I immerse myself in the news. (Got to keep up with current events, right?) Sometimes he appears midday while I pay bills online. He loiters in afternoons when I settle in my recliner to read a current mystery (have to keep up with the latest crime fiction trends).

Take the day he accompanied me to several stops on the way home from the dentist eleven miles away (one trip to conserve fuel). I returned home hours later, all energy expended. I microwaved leftovers for dinner to hurry on to more important things (like writing a blog post).  Phone-Computer-Pixabay

First, I checked my phone and email and responded to a dozen messages followed by a chat with a friend (required business and social networking). I critiqued a short story for another writer (reciprocation).

Green Tea CupA tea break (soothing change of pace), then I searched though a stack of get well cards for the right messages to fit a couple of sick friends (have to mail tomorrow before they get better).

My head nodded and my eyes closed. I scratched through the date next to Post Blog, the first item on my Wednesday to-do list, and wrote Thursday.

Procrastination, disguised as productive activity, had stolen my day.



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Letter to Saint Valentinus

Dear Saint Valentinus,

Valentine’s Day was a big deal in my first-grade class. Mrs. Buffington reminded the students to bring cards to share with the other students. My mother loved planning celebrations. My father shunned them. After school, while he was at work gardening a yard, she walked my twin sister and me to the five and dime and let each of us choose one cellophane-wrapped pack of 30 cards. That double purchase cost her about six bits with tax (that’s 75 cents in modern coins), but Mama supported our goal of giving cards to every student in our class with a few leftovers for the neighborhood kids. That year, I came home grinning, waving a stack of valentines from classmates.

Happy Valentine's Bay-PixabayThe following year, we hurried along beside Mother to the dime store to choose packages of Valentine cards, again while Papa was at work. You must have been too busy with romantic grownups to notice a second-grader in Mrs. Rigdon’s class because that wasn’t much of a celebration. Some of my classmates limited their giveaways to favorite friends. I went home with only a handful of cards and a half-smile.
Crayola stampMrs. Moore, my wise third-grade teacher, skipped the hand-out tradition in favor of individual self-expression art projects. Oh happy day!

Heart cake-PixabayAfter that, Valentine’s Day lost its shine for me. Mama continued to sprinkle heart-shaped cinnamon redhots on white-frosted homemade birthday cakes until we graduated from eighth grade. Then, no more hearts.

I inherited my mother’s fascination with holidays and special occasions, any joyous event. That intensified after my no-celebration father died following a short illness in the first semester of my freshman year of high school.  After that, I imagined a kneeling knight in shining armor in a romantic setting near a bubbling fountain,  a marriage proposal, the diamond ring glinting in the moonlight.

Red Rose - PixabayI just knew you’d do your part, Saint Valentine. But, where was the moonlit night, the fountain, hearts and roses six years later when the man of my dreams proposed to me in my mother’s kitchen on my birthday?


That’s cupid’s job.

Oh, I guess you’re right, but you could have given my sweetheart a nudge toward the living room instead of letting him slip the ring on my finger with the refrigerator as the backdrop.

You’re offended that I didn’t like your staging? Sorry, but that’s my line. I can see we’re getting nowhere. What do you say we call a truce? Here’s a rose to seal the deal.


Valentine Rose 2.14.2016 blog

What? You want red? Take my father’s advice.

Make do or do without.




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Spirit of Christmas

scrooge-1My father could have been a double for Scrooge’s in A Christmas Carol—minus the greed. Both scoffed at the hectic holiday hubbub that floated like fresh snow. Real snow never fell in Chowchilla, our small San Joaquin Valley town, but it glistened on Sierra mountain tops looking north from Robertson Boulevard. Downtown merchants became amateur artists and created snowmen from spray cans on front display windows. They painted a tophat, a plaid neck scarf, and brown twig arms. They daubed eyes and a row of coal black buttons on the white globes.  Merry Christmas in glistening red foil stretched above the winter scenes.

A few local Scrooges dampened the community Christmas Spirit, my father vying for the top position. His Bah, Humbug! list of no’s at Christmas was longer than Scrooge’s. No Christmas tree. No Santa. No gifts. Mama agreed to skip the decorations, but she silently put gifts on layaway each spring to be opened before our family meal at noon.

One December Saturday, Papa agreed to go with us to the lighting of the community Christmas tree. Anticipation built as darkness approached. The walk downtown was an easy ten blocks in the warm summer, twice as long in the winter chill. Papa bent into the fierce wind and pulled the brim of his black felt hat down over his forehead. Mama tugged the ties of her headscarf tighter and turned up her thin coat collar against the cold. My twin and I skipped along the sidewalk too excited to feel the cold.

Christmas TreeAt the City Hall, we sipped hot cocoa from paper cups while we waited. The mayor activated the lights. Colors glowed from the lowest branch to the star on top of the live tree that reached upward toward the roof of the one-story building. A siren sounded and Santa arrived, sitting high on a blazing red fire truck. Papa stiffened and cast his eyes downward, away from the smiling red-suited man waving at us. We each received a brown paper lunch-size bag filled with an orange, an apple, a handful of unshelled nuts, and two or three pieces of hard candy.

Back home, Papa sent my twin and me to bed without a word about the magical evening. I had pleasant dreams that night because he had abandoned his Bah, Humbug attitude and celebrated the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Chistmas Vintage


Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, Chowchilla, California, San Joaquin Valley, Christmas, Violet Carr Moore


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Perfect Babies

Babies in tent-BW

Perfect Babies

When I was ten years old, I became self-conscious about a brown arrowhead below the knee on my left leg. My classmates teased me and called it a birthmark. When I asked Mama why my twin sister didn’t have a mark like mine, she replied “Neither of you had a birthmark. You were perfect babies.”

Perfect babies. How could that be? Unexpected twins born to a mother 41 years old, their father nearing 50, and grandparents the previous year. No prenatal care for Mama. Twins weighing an estimated eight pounds combined with no hospital incubators to warm them from the cold desert nights and no electricity to cool them in the heat of the day. Scarcely enough clothes made for one baby, now worn by two. Without bassinets or cribs, the twins shared one pillow.

Metal bucketSo identical, not the tiniest mole or blemish, they were bathed separately; quite an inconvenience with no indoor plumbing. One twin wore clothing embroidered with a red French knot to preserve their identities.

Friends in California had written letters to Mama in Oklahoma that prompted this trek to the SanJoaquin Valley. Mild weather. Plenty of farm work in cotton and fruit. This was the place to live.

The Carr family left Oklahoma working their way west, but hard times stopped their journey in Arizona. They lived in a tent in a farm labor camp. A nice tent, Mama said, with wood half walls and plank flooring. The tent was already crowded, but in expectation of another child, she made room for one more.

Despite AuStethoscopent Rosey’s years of midwife expertise, the delivery did not go well. She sent Elmer, Mama’s second born son, running miles to the nearest town to fetch the doctor. Before he returned with the physician, identical twin girls made their appearance. The doctor arrived, confirmed the mono delivery, issued birth certificates from scanty information, and departed.

The arrowhead, though faint and shapeless, is still visible. When did it appear? I don’t know, but it isn’t a birthmark because we were perfect babies.


“Perfect Babies” by Violet Carr Moore, published in Double Take, Copyright 2014, published by Carr Twins & Co.


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