The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


How Did You Find Me?

Awhile back I admitted to being a wee bit obsessed with my Google Analytics numbers, especially the map that shows where my readers live. I've calmed down a bit in the checking-my-stats-multiple-times-a-day-department, but I still love to look at the map overlay and see that I have some regular readers in Canada, England, and all around the States. And I still get excited when a new city or country shows up on the map. It's like stamp collecting, only interesting.

Geography aside, today I want to talk about search terms and keywords. According to my statistics, this blog has received 115 visits from 100 keywords since I installed Google Analytics back in March. And oh the keywords that have been used! Some make a lot of sense. Things like "The Word Cellar" or "McGuiggan" have brought a few people here. But others, like "bombastic example sentence" and "Michael Jackson cream" are a bit unexpected.

Appreciated. But unexpected.

Here is a collection of some of the more noteworthy words and phrases that have landed people on this blog.

First bra stories are disturbingly popular:
  • 1st bra
  • "first bra"
  • first bra stories
  • "fifth grade" "first bra"
  • "first bra" "video"
  • "first bra" "stories”
  • first training bra

The kits and their litter box shenanigans garnered some modest attention:

  • litterless litter box
  • cat box litterless
  • home made pee soup (I have a hunch that this was a typo on the part of the searcher.)

The topic of sororities is the most popular item by far:

  • sorority humiliation stories
  • "joining a sorority"
  • christians and sororities
  • christians in sororities
  • fake sorority
  • first impressions count sorority
  • glad i didn't pledge a sorority
  • pounding the pledges
  • sorority pledge humiliation
  • sorority pledge week stories
  • sorority poem excuses
  • sorority secret language used during underground pledging

Not too surprisingly , terms like word, cellar, and stories are popular. But look what configurations they get into:

  • 55 word stories
  • alternatives for the word said
  • another word for cellar bar
  • creepy cellar stories and poems
  • empty cellar syndrome
  • how do you write the word hello in chinese
  • illustrated short pillow stories
  • in the cellar eating sour fruit poem
  • morning word to tell a lady
  • sad dinosaur story
  • sayings with the word summer in it
  • spirit cellar phones
  • bees and the cellar phone
  • "what is so interesting about the word" "serendipity"
  • what kind of stories do knitters tell?
  • words and stories suitable for jewish weddings

Here are some of the more random, amusing, and confusing search terms:

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add to kirtsy | 12:54 AM | 2 comments


What will happen to my housework load if we ever have kids?

Me: I'm finally making a dent in that massive pile of laundry in the basement.

James: I was starting to wonder if we were taking clothes from other people.

add to kirtsy | 1:11 AM | 1 comments


Private Number

We've been getting an inordinate amount of spammy phone calls lately. We usually avoid answering the phone when the caller ID says anything like, "Out of area" or "Private caller," but last night I discovered that my friend's unlisted number also shows up as "Private caller." (I wish it came up as "Private Number," because then I could sing this.)

Anyway, we've started answering some of the calls, if only to get them to stop calling. (The spammers, not my friend.) But most of them end up being pre-recorded messages. The computers are putting the telemarketers out of jobs! And some of the pre-recorded messages are even leaving us voicemail messages. Oh the irony.

Here are a few of highlights:

  • There was one Real Live Person of Dubious Identity who left a message for a someone who has never lived here. She called herself "Mrs. Sailor," but I don't believe that was her real name. Sounds like an alias to me. A little Internet research showed the number to be from a collection agency. I called them back to tell them they had the wrong number and to stop calling me. When I asked the man who answered for "Mrs. Sailor," I felt like I was part of a murder mystery game. Maybe Mrs. Sailor is in with the likes of Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum.
  • Then there's the recorded message from GE Money telling us that it's imperative for us to call them about our account. What account? I had no idea. But after six messages in three months, James called them back. They told him that one of our store credit cards is past due. While we do have this store credit card, we've been paying on it regularly, even paying off the balance every few months.
  • Another recorded message was from our mortgage company, with an "important message" about our loan. It instructed James to confirm our zip code and press 1 more information. After that, the message basically said, "Thank you for choosing X lender."
  • But my favorite recorded message was the one I got a few days ago. It told me that I now qualify for a GREAT RATE on ALL of my credit cards. And that I should HURRY, because this offer would END SOON. And that I should consider this my FINAL NOTICE. The message then instructed me to press 9 to speak with an operator about this offer, or press 8 to stop receiving notices. I pressed 8 and was told, "I'm sorry, this is not a valid option." I laughed out loud as the system launched into the same recorded spiel. I pressed 8 again. Still not valid. And that's when I realized: OF COURSE I couldn't choose to STOP receiving notices because I'd already been told that this was my FINAL NOTICE. (Oh it better be...)

add to kirtsy | 6:04 PM | 4 comments


Waking up to the light

My favorite thing from Friday's walk: Fire hydrant with pebble jewelry
(All photos in this post taken with my groovy LG enV cell phone.)

I always wake up to summer too late. More than any other season, summer passes me by. I see it coming as spring days grow longer and warmer. I try to take in the leafy green trees, the flowers, the sunshine, the fresh fruits and veggies, the outdoor concerts, the lemonade and iced tea. But the hot days of June, July, and August are mostly a haze of extremes: sweltering in the humidity or feeling cut-off from the real world in climate-controlled (but blissfully unsticky) buildings.

When the end of August rolls around, I abruptly realize that summer is nearly over. Autumn is my favorite season, the time of year I look forward to most, so I don't really mourn summer's end. Still, as September arrives, I suddenly feel greedy for warm, fresh air and the feel of sun on skin. And the shorter days throw off whatever vague sense of time I have. I never stop being shocked when the sunlight fades before 9:00pm. All winter long the little window of daytime baffles me.

I walked out to the mailbox on Thursday in a tank top that exposes much more skin than I usually show in public. It was late in the day, but the air was still hot, and a warm breeze wafted over my shoulders. In that moment, I felt like I'd been absent from summer all season, absent from my own body for years, absent from such corporeal pleasures for a lifetime.

As this summer fades, something inside of my body is waking up. I needed a haircut a month ago, but have a sudden resolve to let my hair grow long for the first time in 13 years, even though I know that shorter hair works better and is easier for me. Logic and reason (and my hairstylist) tell me to stick with what works, to keep my fun, flippy style. But I yearn for the feeling of my own hair on my neck. I want to draw up my locks in my hands, tie a loose ponytail or let them fall through my fingers. I want to flick my hair over my face or over my shoulder and flirt with my husband.

Why this sudden need for flowy femininity?

I have a tan right now for the first time in at least five -- possibly 10 -- years, mostly by accident. Even though I'm naturally very pale, I used to turn such a lovely golden color in the summer. But many factors drove me inside over the years: fear of skin cancer; an irrational and growing fear of bugs that buzz and sting; no longer having a swimming pool; working in offices; weight gain that makes it embarrassing and uncomfortable to be out in the heat.

But a few weeks ago I forgot to wear sunscreen to the garden center and ended up with a slight burn that faded to a light tan. I know it's not the best skin care regimen, but I think the sunlight did me some good. I think it nourished something in me, reminded it to grow, to stretch toward the light.

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add to kirtsy | 11:23 PM | 1 comments

On this evening's walk

I went for a walk in my neighborhood this evening as part of the September habitude going on over at Magpie Girl. I saw some interesting things close to home, including forsythia blooming in September. What's up with that?

(All photos in this post taken with my groovy LG enV cell phone.)

These flowers seemed confident in their beauty, and better suited to the season:

And I saw my favorite neighborhood dog tonight! The picture isn't very good, but you can just make out her odd proportions. This silly little girl looks exactly like a wiener dog and a lab all smooshed together! Her owner says they got her from a shelter and confirmed the dachshund part. The other half wasn't lab, but I can't remember the breed. Whatever it was, we all hope the sire was a scrappy wiener. (Dog. Wiener dog!) I don't know her name, but I call her a Dachrador or Labshund:

I also saw a Geo Tracker packed full of someone's belongings, and a family playing croquet in their front yard, but I thought I might look suspicious pointing and clicking my cell phone at them.

Want to see my favorite item from my walk? Check out the next post...

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add to kirtsy | 10:30 PM | 0 comments


Golden Days

Courtyard between two retail shops, East Main St., Ligonier, Pa

These are the golden days of summer. Maybe it's the blue sky, sunshine, and low humidity, reminding me that my favorite season is fast approaching. Perhaps it's the festive holiday weekend brightening everyone's mood. Or maybe it's simply that I spent the days with people I love, doing things I enjoy.

The weekend has been full of sensory delights:

  • a last minute visit with a dear friend;
  • comic llamas at the market munching on grass with their broad, powerful teeth;
  • a decadent lunch with Mom at Ivy's Cafe that included fruited iced tea, salad with homemade berry vinaigrette, lobster and shrimp croquettes, mashed potatoes, sweet carrots, an open-faced bleu burger, and homemade potato chips, with coconut rum cake and a strawberry and cream Napoleon for dessert;
  • courtyards and bouquets of flowers, still going strong in the last days of the season;
  • finding laughter and connectedness after too many days without;
  • tills of fresh, local berries in hues of golden yellow, ruby red, and pearlescent black;
  • wines from the new Greendance Winery at Sand Hill that remind me of the wines of my honeymoon;
  • barbeque chicken and ribs with James at The Summer Place's last weekend of the season; and
  • using gift cards to buy an outdoor fireplace for our new patio.

These beasties inspired my mom to quote from Napoleon Dynamite: "Tina, eat. Eat the food!"

Here's an extreme close-up of the tasty green morsel in Tina's mouth (and check out that chin stubble!):

This lantern is next to the Squirrel Crossing trellis (above) on East Main Street in Ligonier:

In front of a shop in Ligonier:

Sunday's solo expedition to the berry farm yielded beautiful, ripe fruit, shown here in my backyard, which is (finally) looking green and lush:

On Monday we'll water the new plants from our recent landscaping renovation, run a few errands, and find recipes to use up all those berries. I'll spend some time finishing my postcards for the swap while James practices his violin. Dinner will be a cookout that's sure to include corn on the cob. We'll initiate the new fireplace by toasting marshmallows and will end the day under the stars, relaxed in the knowledge that we both have Tuesday off as well. Golden days, indeed.

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add to kirtsy | 5:24 PM | 5 comments