Color Me Stymied

Color Me Stymied

For the past week or so, something’s been puzzling me. Disturbing me, really. It’s the kind of thing I would have asked Mom about when I was a kid. So on Tuesday, during our weekly visit, I did just that.

“Mom,” I said, “have you ever wondered about why some colors get used as names and others don’t?”

“Not really,” she replied.

“But,” I persisted, “how come colors like black and brown and green and white are common last names, but orange, yellow, purple, blue, and red aren’t?”

She looked at me and raised her eyebrows.

“Well, okay, red is used in names like Redman or Redpath, but have you ever heard of a Mr. or Mrs. Red?”

She didn’t blink.

“And Mr. Ed the talking horse doesn’t count, even though if you say his name fast and all together–Mistered–the end sounds like ‘red.’ But it’s not red. It’s Mr–Ed.” I took a breath and went on. “Have you ever wondered about that?”

Mom stared a minute longer, then shook her head. “Jolene, most people don’t waste time on things like that.”


All she did was nod, though she could have knocked me over if a feather if she’d been so inclined. I’m still not sure I believe her. Surely, other people wonder about why some words are used for last names and others aren’t. Or, say, about why some word endings can be used to create numerous rhymes, or rhyming names, and others can’t. Or maybe why some letters–J for instance–begin a whole passel of names, but other letters don’t.

To test my theory, please complete the following short survey by answering these questions in the comment box:

  1. Do you puzzle over name questions like the ones listed above?
  2. If your answer to #1 is yes, please list any other name questions that are on your mind.
  3. If your answer to #1 is no, what mysteries are you preoccupied with? Please list the questions you are presently trying to answer (Warning: self-censor your answers so I don’t have to.)
  4. Do think Mom’s answer was spot on? (Feel free to lie to make me feel better.)

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Top Ten Signs of an Early Fall

Top Ten Signs of an Early Fall

What comes after an early spring and a summer of drought? An early fall, of course. My morning walks have been full of signs that autumn is right around the corner, and here are the top ten in my book.

10.  The begonias on the north side of the garage are lush and full.

9.    The leaves of the burning bush outside the kitchen are tinged with red.

8.    Sunrise comes later each morning and sunset comes earlier.

7.    The sumac is starting to turn.

6.     We’re planning menus for the Labor Day Extraveganza.

5.    The goldenrod’s got the Man of Steel sneezing.

4.    Rain doesn’t make the pond scum disappear.

3.    The spots are fading on this summer’s fawns.

2.    The parks department drained the swimming pool.

1.    The trees,

the trees,

the trees.

What signs of fall are appearing where you live?