Mary Beth Writes


For those who are new here - This year I am writing about topics, in alphabetical order, that were suggested to me by readers. Sometimes this is hard! 


My cousin-in-law Dave has some powerfully thorough avocations (for fun and profit he earned a PhD in biochemistry; you will notice this in his list). This year, among other pursuits, he has been collecting words which have appeared in our culture since 1945, which was the year he also appeared in our culture.

Every month or so he has sent me an ever-expanding list of modern vocabulary words. At the end of this blogpost, I am going to include a PDF you can click in to read all the words. It’s surprisingly long and often feels like a trip back through your life.

He’s also occasionally mentions that “This will take your to IRTNOG.”  

I thought he was using some modern text abbreviation so I looked it up but it’s not a text thing. (So far, Len and I invented ‘I rarely toss noodles over grapes’ and ‘I rise to nice old grandmas’ and ‘Icebergs return to Newfoundland/Omit gravy.)

I was wrong about IRTNOG and some of you already know why. IRTNOG is a satirical short story written in the 1930’s by E.B. White.

This is White’s complete and very short story: Read here. 

Synopsis: Americans are trying to read everything published. As more and more literature and instruction manuals and newspapers and whatever are published ever faster, people are frantically reading as they try to keep up. Then Readers’ Digest shows up and that relieves the pressure until soon 70 other digests show up. Someone invents thumb-sized compendiums. This works until it is also too much. Finally, one guy invents a formula to distill everything published each day into six letters. Now people can just read the daily ersatz word. They feel relief. It wasn’t that they read so much because they wanted to garner understanding, they just didn’t want to miss what other folks knew.

The first day’s word was IRTNOG.

1.) I respect people who mispronounce complicated words and phrases because it often indicates someone is reading to learn. Hats off to everyone who stumbles over ‘multicultural representation’ or ‘Where’s the Defibrillator?’ or ‘methane emissions’ or ‘nouveau Beaujolais’. Or ‘that borders on heretical Christology’.

2.) A friend pointed out that in the past few years weirdly ordinary words have become “weaponized.” Woke. Christian. Gender. Patriot. Feminist. Vaccine. 

Using words to bully others is not new. Doing it upfront and out loud is, at least for most of us who have not lived in totalitarian states, threatening.

3.) Vocabulary is games. Wordle. Crossword puzzles. Connections. Password. Curiously, word games seem to protect us from dementia - until we drive ourselves crazy trying to do them. the other day I nearly cried at Wordle. 

4.) I have an ongoing list of favorite words and my list includes whisk, frosty, periwinkle, davenport, loblolly, and jazz. Do you have words that make you smile?

5.) Okay, your turn. What should IRTNOG stand for?

PDF icon v_is_for_dss_vocabulary_list.pdf

I realize therapist notice oranges grow

I really think nothing of gnomes



Mary Beth's picture

from a Pal: Irtnog: 'I really think nothing of gnomes' Also like the pdf…I think fomo would fit…ties in with Irtnog, but it’s an acronym (fear of missing out) that has morphed into a word

I realize therapist notice oranges grow . I’m laughing. This isn’t my forte! You have a list of favorite words! Why am I not surprised. I like this. I like this so much , I might start a list. Davenport is one word that does make me smile.

breeze sister grace book
Mary Beth's picture

Ooh, I like breeze, too!

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What Now, US Constitution?


Not sure if I wrote this post for you or for me.

I was close to the end of my volunteer shift at the Food Pantry yesterday. The morning had been tougher than usual (see the upended boxes we didn’t have time to flatten) and I was tired. Then I got this text from Len, “Don’t look at the news.”

I’ve never received anything this cryptic from Len in my life. I told my co-worker Nancy I needed to look at the news because something weird was going on.

She replied, “The Supreme Court.”

Hot Weather Diary #4


Guess what amazing thing is happening at my house right now? This has not happened in, I think, two weeks…


Yesterday evening the heat index was 100 degrees. Tonight the temperature is 70, low humidity, breezes wafting in the windows like angels’ breath.

Hot Weather Diary #3


Today was another hot one and right now, it’s still 93 degrees in my backyard.

Hot Weather Diary #2


“Time wasted at a lake is time well spent.”  (I tried to learn who wrote this; it seems to have arisen spontaneously on a Pinterest plaque for your cabin.)

There is an argument that civilization started on the banks of rivers, the oceans, and along the shores of the hundreds and thousands of lakes on our earth. Waterfront is where people and animals gather to drink, eat, cool off, and watch the youngsters while they play. Also, it’s where adults gather to chat, fish, breathe in beauty, and sometimes swim far out there where joints don’t ache and its quiet.

Hot Weather Diary #1


We all knew it was coming and here it is. A Hot Week! We are in the news! We are important! Humans around the nation, especially in the East and Midwest, will be living through a week with temps in the 80’s, 90’s and worse.

What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

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