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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Cats Again (Lost In Racine)


Because I now have my Substack site where I can publish my stories, its more exciting to write fiction. I’m working on a story now.

Meanwhile, here’s a newspaper column of yore. If you like cats, you will probably like it. If you don’t like cats, well, you are missing a lot of grace, humor, and vacuuming opportunities.

We don’t currently want to adopt new cats, but since we’ve now lived with twelve of the world’s finest, we are rich in memories that make us laugh.

Len’s Birthday


Last week I mentioned that Monday of this week would be Len’s birthday. A friend remarked to me ever so kindly later that day, “I thought his birthday was the 30th?”

It is. Len’s birthday is the 30th. This same friend has commented to me, over the years, about how much I remember.

Covid Diary #1350 Thanksgiving


Today is 1350 days since the that March Friday in 2020 when we all went into quarantine.

Today is 60 years since JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I remember that day, so does Len, so do many of you. Here’s a scary truth. We are as far today from that day – as that day was from the Wright brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec 17, 1903.

Quarantine Diary #1349 Sci-Fi & Prophecy


We both took Covid tests this morning and both of us still have pink lines. I asked the internet what this means and it says I might be pregnant.

I have a call into my doctor’s office to discuss. I feel so much better that if I didn’t know I have Covid, I wouldn’t know it. I’ve been sicker than this after too much pie.

Covid Diary #1347


A few of you might realize yesterday we were 1345 days since March 13, 2020, and today we’re at 1347. Yup, I used a different calculator. Just a fun reminder that precision depends as much on asking the right question as doing perfect math.

I’m in day #4 of having Covid. No more chills. I have a fever of 100.4 which is more impressive than the 100.2 that Len achieved on his Day #4.  I’m taking various OTC meds and I keep track of them in my phone’s notes because, wow, it’s so easy to have no memory of the last time one took something. I’m good. Enough.

Covid Diary #1345


I thought I was done with the Covid Diary but guess what? Len and I caught Covid this week! Actually, Covid caught us. We have continued to wear masks in stores, library, meetings, and our church so we will never know for sure where Len encountered Covid. And since I got it four days later, I guess we know where I got it…

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