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It’s a Sign; Eats, Shoots and Leaves; More Signs; Size Does Matter; Clear Lake; Chindii; Abandoned!

I really get a kick out of strange signs… I’m not referring here to the metaphysical type, which often refer to synchronicities or guidance from one’s guides… but rather to those that have either contextual or grammatical errors or meanings that provide mirth or consternation. Here’s an example: while visiting Wrangell, Alaska, we dropped in on the local market. I looked at the sign above the door, the sign painted on a delivery van, and even my register receipt to confirm the name of the grocery: Bobs’ Market. I asked my cousin Jim if there were more than one Bob, but he confirmed that there was only one. I suspect that Bob’s high school English teacher must be rolling in her grave…

My high school English teacher, Mr. Langlois, is part of the reason that I have long been sensitive to poor punctuation, particularly regarding the use of commas and apostrophes. I hadn’t thought much about this until I received a gift from Beth and Mike Pasakarnis – a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss. The title refers to a joke – a panda walks into a cafe, orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. A waiter asks, “Why?”, as the panda heads for the door. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife book, tosses it over his shoulder, and says, “I’m a panda; look it up.” The waiter turns to the appropriate entry, which states, “Panda. Large black and white bear-like mammal native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.” I will officially thank Beth and Mike here for connecting me with the greater community of correct punctuation sticklers, otherwise known as “comma and apostrophe nerds”.

This sign was found at the base of an RV’s right front tire in Medical Lake, WA. It seems that the owner had found several streams of urine on his tire, and either didn’t like the odor or the lack of respect for his vehicle. In deference to his sign, I moved on to another less obvious (and public) target.

A bed and breakfast’s advertisement in Wrangell made me chuckle. While many businesses tout their reputation as “the best in the state” or “world-renowned”, this B&B owner is realistic and honest. Sadly, the owner’s business plan has not been totally successful, since the B&B is for sale.

This photo was taken at Pats Lake, near Wrangell. I didn’t get photographic evidence of the lack of an apostrophe on the sign, but decided that the beauty of these wildflowers outweighed the grammatical error in the lake’s name. (See, I’m not a total nerd…)

The last sign to be posted (today, at least) is at the Muskeg Meadows Golf Course clubhouse. Even ignoring the misspelling of the first word, I find it novel that players are required to buy alcohol to play the course…

Lest a prudish reader assume that Your Faithful Correspondent is being crude, rude and socially unacceptable in the fourth subtitle (Size Does Matter), let me dispel their concerns by referring them to this photo of our coach alongside a very cute and fully functional trailer with the following sign on its rear: “I go where I’m towed to.” I decided not to comment to the trailer’s owner that ending a sentence with a preposition is “wrong, wrong, wrong”, as drilled into my noggin by Coach Charlie Myers, my high school Latin teacher. He also taught me not to insult or pick fights with guys bigger than I/me/myself. (Pick your ending.)  Coach had received his grammar training in a Jesuit high school, and you don’t mess with Jesuits!

We are now at Clear Lake Recreation Area, a small campground and marina run by Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. This was our view the other night; our enjoyment of the sunset was abbreviated, but not spoiled, by a swarm of mosquitoes that threatened to eat me alive. For some reason, they did not bother Suzanne at all. (A case of professional courtesy, perhaps? As everyone knows, female mosquitoes feed on human blood, while males feed on flower nectar and plant juices.) SMACK!

Of course, one of the positive aspects to being camped on a lake is that we can get out to kayak early in the morning before it gets too hot or noisy (from the speedboats and jet skis). Paddling is one of my favorite pastimes, and here I am admiring a granite outcropping at the north end of the lake.

“Dust devils” are very localized whirlwinds, much smaller and less powerful than tornadoes. Typically, they range from .5-10 meters wide and 3-1000 meters tall. We passed this one just west of Spokane. Whereas tornadoes are associated with thunderstorms, dust devils form as a swirling updraft on clear, sunny days. Several disparate cultures associate the phenomenon with spirits:
– the Navajo refer to them as chindii, the spirits or ghosts of dead Navajos
– the Australian term willy-willy is believed to be a derivation of an Aboriginal word meaning a bad spirit that often disciplines (or abducts) children who misbehave
– in the Middle East, they are called djin, genies or devils
– in Egypt, the fasset al ‘afreet translates as a ghost’s wind
– the Kenyan Kikuyu tribe calls it a ngoma cia aka, or women’s devil/demon
(I was loath to include the Kikuyu interpretation, as some might accuse me of gender discrimination, but since my head is still ringing from the mosquito-related Smack!, I figured, “What the heck…”)

Finally, My Lovely Bride is about to abandon me. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. She is about to fly back home to enjoy a week with her Lovely Sister Janice and her Lovely Mom Ruthie. Suzanne and Ruthie share a birthday on August 1, and Janice will visit from West Chester, PA for the festivities. I have alerted all of the local girlie hangouts to be prepared for the arrival of the Three Wild Things. I hope that their escapades will not get so rowdy that the local constabulary has to be called in, but you know how girls get when they are on their own…

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