Spell Jar Post Seven (31 to 36)

31. That, Who – These are what I call “refer back” pronouns

Who refers back to a person.  The man who flew into space came back a week later.

That refers back to a place or an animal.  The red spotted dog is the one that bit me.

If you use either in the other way (like the man that or the dog who), you are conferring properties upon the noun – making the man a thing and the dog a person.

32. Threw, Through – These words sound alike but their meanings are not alike.

Threw means tossed, like she threw the ball to first base.  He threw the ball and broke a window. This is also the word you would use in ‘he threw the game’ meaning he deliberately let the other team win.

Through means went into and came out a different side, as in the ball didn’t go to the first baseman, but instead went through the rose bushes. She walked through the door.

33. Way, Weigh, Whey – I recently saw one of these words used incorrectly – you do not way in when offering your opinion, you weigh in. If you are measuring your weight before a wrestling match, you also weigh in.

Way has a multitude of meanings. It can be a path (on the way, by the wayside), it can mean extensive (that’s way to much), or direction (which way to Grandma’s House) and more

Weigh is a measurement of mass versus gravity. How much do you weigh?  Or as mentioned above it can mean offering an opinion. He weighed in on the discussion.

Whey is a dairy by-product.  You may be familiar with this line from a poem: “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey.”  A lot of weird words show up in that line –  a tuffet is a stool, curds are like cottage cheese, and the whey can be either the liquidy runny part of cottage cheese or the thinner excess of that liquid which can be a drink.  But these days whey is generally used in processed foods.

34. Wear, Ware, Where – These words should have a subtle difference in pronunciation, but usually do not.

Wear is to use clothing or other adornments.  Another meaning is to show use as in there is a lot of wear on that tire.

Ware is sometimes used in place of beware, but that is colloquial (old) usage.  It is also a type of goods, like housewares – usables in the kitchen usually.  Turn it around and you have warehouse which is a place to store items (wares).

Where is actually a pronoun refering to a place. Where did you put my socks? Here’s another use: wherewithall . It means sort of like sense or awareness. I wonder if she has the wherewithall to survive those conditions.

Look them up to find other meanings.

35. Wonder, Wander –

Wonder is to contemplate, think about, or mentally be in awe. I wonder if I’ll this is a good thing.(contemplate) And here’s a usage most will find familiar: and what to my wondering (awe stricken) eyes should appear . . .

Wander is to travel in an unplanned manner or just to travel. She wandered off alone. She spent her life wandering the world. The child wandered off and became lost. In class, her mind wandered off the subject.

Magic Spell Jar Post Six (26-30)

     26. Sight, Site, Cite – these all sound alike but have different meanings

  • Sight is the function of your eyes or sometimes what you see, like “What a sight he was in his swimming trunks.”
  • Site is a place.  The site on which the house was built.  The construction worker went to the site of his job.  Or you may go to a web site, never a web sight, although people often mistakenly spell it that way.  Don’t you do it, now that you know the difference.
  • Cite is what the police do to people who are caught speeding.  They stop you and cite you for your reckless driving.  The document they serve you with is a citation.

     27. Stationery, stationary: These words are often confused.

  • Stationery refers to writing supplies, usually paper for writing letters.  Letter and stationery both have the letter “e” in them.
  • Stationary:  means it stays in a place, doesn’t move

     28.  Then and than are often confused although they don’t sound the same.

  • Then sounds like ehn. Then refers to time.  After this happened, then that happened.
  • Than sounds like ann and is a comparison word.  As in greater than or nicer than.   Usually you should not use it with different.  Usually you would say different from.

      29.  There, Their, They’re These are so often confused and yet are not that hard if                 you concentrate for a couple of minutes.

  • There is a place, like I set it there. There has here in it which is also a place.
  • Their (related to they) is a possessive pronoun for more than one person.  Their dresses were similar.
  • They’re is a contraction for they are, like they’re all going to the movie.

                 HINT – a spelling tip from one of my favorite composition instructors:  All                          three begin with the.

     30. Tome, Tomb

  • Tome is a large book.
  • Tomb (with a “b”) is a burial place. Tombif you bury someone they should be dead.


Memories of Dad

Alfred & Alvin Sather1938

Dad – Alfred Sather – and Al Sather – 1938

Written by my brother Al Sather

I remember one winter when the snow got too deep for the cows to be outside, so they had to be kept in the barn (on the Ole Sather farm).  Dad would load up an old wooden stone boat with manure in the barn and when it  had a big pile on it, he would harness up Babe and Jessie and out the west door they would go with the manure—sometimes that old stone boat would stick to the floor and the horses would slip and fall trying to get the old boat moving—but  Dad would holler get-up and they would get up and try again.

I remember one old Plymouth car Dad had that wouldn’t start in the winter and neither would the tractor so Dad would harness up old Babe and Jessie and pull the car to start it—Dad always said that darn  old car wouldn’t start after the sun went down.  But he finally figured out the problem and he would tell anyone who had the same problem with their Plymouth how to remedy the problem. I think that is how Dad became the neighborhood fix it man.

Do you remember the old Delco light plant out in the West shed—It had 12 glass batteries about 12 or 14 inches high? That is how we had electric lights on the old (Ole Sather) farm before we got REA— (electricity)

I don’t suppose you remember the time the old sheep buck tried to sneak up on Dad when he was carrying a feed bag on his shoulder from the South shed to the barn—I don’t know how Dad knew he was going to be attacked from behind but about the time the buck was going to get Dad, he pushed the feed bag off his shoulder right onto the buck’s head–that old sheep buck took a nose dive into the ground—I think that was the last time that old buck tried to sneak up on Dad. Talk about eyes in the back of your head!

(REA is an acronym for Rural Electric Association)

Storm Days

I sit here looking out the window, gazing upon a magical, glowing, silvery world – the far-north mystical-looking air, a phenomenon conjured by blowing snow back-lit by an obscured sun. It only happens when the snow flakes are fine, not when they are big lacy flakes. The big flakes produce a magic of their own but not today.

The blowing snow howling around the house sounds fierce. It looks cold and sounds cold. It is cold. But in my living room, bundled up, I’m cozy and warm on the couch, pecking away at the keyboard – or even cozier bundled up with a book.

When I need not leave the house, I love stormy, wintry days and the cozy, snug feeling of a warm house threatened by severe weather.

There is something exciting about a snow storm. That feeling of excitement stems, perhaps, from a long ago childhood spent on a Minnesota farm so far north we were almost hugging the Canadian border. Back then the winters were fierce and transportation less reliable. When the snow began falling all the children watched with bated breath and listened to the radio with anxiety. Was it snowing hard enough, storming wildly enough to call off school? Would we have a snow day? The answer would be yes about three times a year. What joy!

If school was called off early enough and we had not dressed for the day, we could relax in our jammies and have a leisurely breakfast. If we had already dressed for school, we’d happily change into more comfortable “everyday clothes.” We had very few school clothes and never wore them around the house or farm.

Usually we’d be assigned some household chores, but it was our special day off so the chores would be few. Sometimes Mom would bring out ingredients so we could help bake a nice, warm treat for ourselves. Or she’d mix up a batch of bread early enough so, for noon dinner, chunks of the dough could be fried and served up dripping with butter and generously sprinkled with sugar. We called them flapjacks. Then later the remaining dough would be baked. The heat from the oven was welcome as the space heater left cold spots in the house, and the aroma of baking bread on a stormy day was wonderful. When it came out of the oven, we got chunks of that, too. Also served with melting butter and sugar.

Usually at some point in the day, we’d go outside to romp in the newly fallen snow. Whether it was our idea or strongly suggested by the parents cooped up with us, we didn’t stay out long. We did not have the wonderful winter clothing today’s children take for granted, so usually we’d soon be freezing and ready to seek the warmth of the house.

But most of the day we bundled up next to the space heater in the living room and read comic books or whatever printed material we could find. Reclining on blankets next to the heater, we’d play games until we argued. Then Mom would find more household chores or we’d be sent outside to wear off excess energy.

Sometimes to warm up, we made fudge or enjoyed hot chocolate and warm donuts shaken in a little bag of sugar. Cozy, lazy, happy comfort.

Part of the excitement of snow days was the element of danger. When we were snowed in, we were truly isolated. Vehicles would not move, often would not even start even though the batteries were removed and taken kept warm in the house. Most winters we had no horses, so the only way to get out was to walk in the storm. Some of the neighbors had horses and sleighs, but we had no telephone to call them if we experienced an emergency.

We always had a stock of food in the winter. Every year Mom “put up” (canned) fruit, berries, and vegetables. In the basement, we had shelves of Kerr or Mason quart jars filled with jewel-like goodies. We raised chickens and hogs every year, and butchering was done each fall. We usually had milk cows, so we had milk and cream and made butter. After harvest, Mom bought flour in 50 pound bags. No, we did not have to worry about getting to the store for groceries during a storm.

On snow days there was a fine sense of isolation. The world did not intrude on our family; we had to rely on one another. Whatever we needed, the family had to provide.

Three storm incidents come to mind today.

Once, our neighbors harnessed their horses and came trekking through a blizzard to play cards! What excitement! We certainly did not expect company emerging from the dark in the blowing snow. It seems like that storm continued for days. The neighbors claimed cabin fever had brought them out; they simply had to get out of the house. I suspect, though, that they were checking up on us to see if we were okay since we could not get out and had no phone. People were like that back then.

Another incident was not so pleasant. My dad had injured his foot before the storm and he developed blood poisoning. I don’t remember how the neighbors were notified; someone must have walked out to the neighbors to tell them of our emergency. I do remember taking Dad out to the main road on a toboggan so someone could give him a ride to the hospital.

The most dire storm emergency involved plowing across country, across fields to get Dean to the doctor. The snow had piled up and the plow could not efficiently plow out the road. Across country was faster. I was very young and only remember the family legend, so I asked my brother (Pastor Al Sather) about it.

This is what he wrote:

“Memory is a funny thing—let me rephrase that—sometimes it is funny how our memories can be fine one minute and the next minute we seem to be in a fog.

— Do you remember the trees along the east side of the road from where I used to live [the old Ole Sather farm where our family lived until I was six. EDK ] down to the corner where the road went to the evergreens?

Well, the year Dean’s tonsils swelled so big he couldn’t swallow, the snow had drifted in from the west so all that was [to be seen] above the snow was the REA wires on the west side of the road. . .

— When Nick Derod came out with the snow plow at  night all you could see was his head lights on the top of the cab.

Dad walked up the road on top of the snow to meet him and Nick told dad it would probably take close to three hours to clear that last ¾ of a mile. So he backed up all the way to the [Old Bethania/Sather] cemetery and came across the field and crossed the ditch at the corner where we were waiting.

— Then Nick turned around and went back the same way and dad followed him across the field because the snow had almost filled in the path he had made already. . .”

When we lived on the farm, before we moved to town when I was in high school, we had no phone. Neither Al nor I can remember how our rescuers were notified of our need. It seems someone had to make the trek through the deep snow in a blizzard to our neighbors a half mile away.

But on a day like today in the relative safety of modern communication, I remember the “cozy” and feel the warmth of it again.

Posted in October but written in the winter several years ago.

Magic Spell Jar – Post Five (21-25)

21. Rack, Wrack –

Rack – is a place to keep or put things, like a clothes rack or a cue rack. But also in medieval torture chambers they often had a rack.  They attached people to it and stretched them as a means of torture.  None of us want any personal experience with a torture rack.

Wrack – is most often used in “wrack your brain” – to attempt to wring out particular memories.  Another fairly common phrase is “wrack and ruin,” usually referring to the wreckage of  one’s life or emotional state.

22. Regimen, Regiment – This is included because the nurses at the nursing home never did get it right.

Regimen – is a schedule or plan for administering drugs – or a plan that you adhere to for other things, like exercise.

Regiment – is a military grouping or division.  The nurses insisted the drugs were administered according to regiment. I always pictured this whole mess of soldiers forcing the pills down the poor old people’s throats.

23. Ring, Wring

Ring – Ah, ring has so many meanings: a precious piece of jewelry for your finger, a sound a bell makes, a mark around a collar or bathtub, and age indicator within a tree, and more.

Wring –  Wring basically is to twist something with the intent of extracting, like to wring out your laundry to extract the excess water before hanging it to dry.  You may have heard the expression “wring your neck.”  When you wring something’s neck you are still extracting something – in this case the life of the victim.  But when someone says, “I’ll wring your neck for saying that,” in this country it is an idle threat, meaning they won’t really follow through on it.  In some countries I suspect you should take a comment like that seriously


.24. Separate – means set apart – this word gives some people trouble. Just remember there is a rat in separate.


25. Shudders, Shutters –

I include this because an English teacher whose blog I follow interchanged them and just this evening I saw the same mistake on another blog.

Shudder is something you do – a tremor usually associated with being cold, frightened, or disgusted.  You might say, “He shuddered when the dragon roared.”  Or the congealed food on the plate made me shudder .

Shutter is a usually something you shut.  You have shutters over your windows or you can shutter your eyes which does not mean close them but to close off any expression in them.  I don’t know how to do that, but I’ve read about it.  Shutter can also be the person or mechanism that shuts something.

Magic Spell Jar Post Four (16-20)

Look for the Spell jar instructions under Craft

16. Its and It’s

This is very confusing.

It’s (with an apostrophe) is a contraction for it is. 

Its (without an apostrophe) shows possession like the color of something,  such as     its eyes were blue.

The reason this is so confusing to me is that to show possession you usually use an       apostrophe, like the murderer’s  weapon was discarded.  As far as I know, its is the         only possessive that does NOT use an apostrophe. It’s very confusing, and I have to     stop and consider whenever I use this goofy little three-letter word.

17. Knit, nitpronounced alike but mean refer to different things

Nit is a little tiny word for a little tiny bug, also used in the expression nitwit.  That           means the brains of a bug or a tiny brain.  This is generally considered an insult.             Unless you are an entomologist who admires bugs.

Knit with a “K” is a type of sewing.  Actually it is more like specialized knot tying than     sewing. Easy spelling hint: Knit and Knot both begin with a “K.”

Here’s a little poem about the silent K:

Use a K with knit and knot, But for the bug do not

18. Knotted, nodded – knot, not, naught –

Knotted means tied, like a knot in a string 

Nodded means bobbed your head, but if you bobbed your hair, you cut and styled it     in a certain way. 

Knot is a tie in a string,

Not is no way. It is not the same as naught which means nothing.

Naught is a more old fashioned word and means nothing.  A fairly common phrase         is “All for naught,”  which means it was all for nothing, nothing came of it.

When speaking about language, not and naught are called negative words.

19. Metal, Medal, Mettle 

Metal is a type of matter, it is not plastic, nor glass, nor earthen. It is metal, like gold,     silver, tin, iron — 

A medal can be made from metal and often is, but not always.  You are awarded a       medal for something outstanding that you have done or accomplished – sometimes a huge medallion disk (like for the Olympic games) usually a  badge suitable for pinning to clothing, but not the same as a law enforcement badge

Mettle is an inherent strength of spirit or character.  If you are given a task that will         take ages to get through, your mettle will be tested.  Or it takes a lot of mettle to practice until you win a gold medal.

20. Phase, Faze, Face

Face and phase sound alike but faze has a buzzy sound at the end,

Phase is a period of time in development – As he’s just going through a phase.  At         this phase the chemistry experiment should sizzle but not explode.

Faze is an effect or having an effect emotionally, like meeting the dragon did not             seem to faze  him.

Face, of course, is what you see in the mirror every morning. It should not be used in     place of faze, but face can be a verb, too, as in – I can’t face another day without             dragons – or – to begin the hockey game, the centers will face off.

Halloween Project – Magic Spell Jar Directions

I’m thinking of making a “magic spell” jar for the grandkids for Halloween. 

Would be fairly simple:

  • Decorate a jar with Halloween colors and images – Use one with a mouth wide enough to dip into with hands
  • Label it magic spell jar
  • Drop in slips of “spells” – Just print the spells found under  “pages” to the right then click “Magic Spell Jar” and clip apart (one number per slip), which usually have two or three words bold words and a discussion of the words
  • Include instructions for removing one spell per day.

It is important to do one spell per day so the kids do not become overwhelmed or bored. Like magic most of the hints will stay with you, if you make a point of using the words two or three times on the day pulled.

Magic Spell Jar Post Three (11-15)

Look for the Spell jar instructions under Craft

11. Horde, Hoard

Horde is a BIG group of people.  Just before the big sales event, a horde of people gathered at the front door.

Hoard is to gather and keep a collection of something.  It doesn’t have to be valuable.  People have been known to hoard toilet paper when they have perceived a threat of invasion or a shortage .

You don’t think of the importance of toilet paper until you fear you may not have any.

12.Hark, Hearken

Basically both these words mean Listen!  Or Listen up!  In other words Attention!  Both reflect back to hear, but hearken has an ear in it while hark does not.

Hark – You’ve likely heard “Hark! The herald angels sing.”  In historical novels, you may find “Hark.  The king cometh.” Or some such.  Otherwise hark is not a word in common usage.

Hearken – This is another word seldom seen in modern communication.  You could find it in a historical novel: “Take heed!  Hearken to the warning.”

These are words good to know but I doubt you’ll find much use for them in your everyday life. You’ll probably only find them in your books.

13. Hare and hair

Hare is a rabbit. R is for rabbit and hare has are spelled out in it.

Hair is the bristle on top of your head.  And if you have none like Grandpa, your scalp can feel the air.

14. Here and hear.

I’ve seen these used interchangeably in books but the words have completely different meanings.  Perhaps the mistakes were typos.

Hear means to notice a noise.  Easy to remember because hear has an ear.

Here refers to a place.

Recently I saw this in a book.  The king made a proclamation and the crowd chanted, “Here, here.”  That’s an old chant and perhaps the writer had never see it written.  It should be, “Hear, hear,” as they are saying, “listen, listen.”

15. Idle, Idol

The pronunciation difference is barely discernible, but the meanings are entirely different.

Idle is doing nothing productive. When you idle your car, it means the motor is running, but the car isn’t moving. It is idling.  When it is not running at all, it is NOT idling, but when you are doing nothing at all, you are idle.  Weird, isn’t it?

Idol is an artificial item that people worship.  In church they call it a graven image. Graven probably comes from the word engrave which is a type of carving or impressing an image into a substance.   However, an idol can also mean a living person, such as a celebrity – a rock and roll idol, a TV series idol – someone people sort of worship but not as a God (usually).

Old Haug School

My First School

Since preschool and kindergarten were not offered when I was a kid, first grade was my introduction to school. Brother Al and I went to the “Old Haug School.” I think it was Al’s first year there, too. Of course, he had attended school before that, but this was just after we moved to the Louie Peterson place, so he had to change schools.

The old Haug School definitely would not pass state regulations these days, but it was a great school! It must have been a model school building in its day. Mom said it had once housed a school that even offered two years of high school. It was so modern that they even taught Home Economics. It was a big, boxy building located just behind the Benny Christianson farm (later the Jackie Erickson farm and now the Harlan Solberg farm).

The school had suffered the ravages of time by the time I started first grade. Mom says she thinks the building fell into disrepair because of a lack of tax money to pay for its upkeep. (I was born in 1942, during the war years – WWII) A more-or-less collapsed portion of the building was off-limits to us kids. I think it had once been a gymnasium. There were three large classrooms that were used for the eight grades. Depending on class sizes two or three classes were taught in the same room. There were only three teachers for the whole school — one for each room.

When I started school, first through third grades were taught by Arlaine Pederson (Duray). She was a wonderful teacher and I loved her. Embarrassingly, I sometimes slipped and called her Mama. Everyone laughed and taunted, of course, but I believe every one of us made the slip at some time. And when others did, of course I laughed and taunted, too.

The room had a large wood- or coal-burning furnace in the front right corner, a water crock to the front left, blackboards at center front, and large windows to the rear. The old-fashioned student desks were arranged in rows, except when it rained. Then the roof leaked, so we had to rearrange the desks to make room for several pails to catch the dripping water. In winter, sometimes we got to sit on the desktops with our feet on the seats because the floor was so cold, and sometimes we had to move the desks around because it was so cold near the windows. However, it was fun to sit at the back near the windows even if it was cold, because the snow would build up on the inner sills and we could lean back, grab a handful of snow, and put it down someone’s neck or even form small snowballs.

I had an advantage academically because, before I started first grade, Al missed a lot of school when we had polio and Mom tutored him so he could remain with his class. Of course, that meant that he got an inordinate amount of attention – or so I thought. So I joined the classes, and as a result, I learned some reading and math. With that advantage, I got top grades — all “A”s. But in second or third grade, the snow on the sill was too much temptation and I got my first “B” — in conduct. Mom was not pleased!

I was in second grade when our current events paper introduced us to the concept of television. I remember because the teacher discussed the subject and wrote the word on the board. Later she erased it and asked who could spell “television.” I was the only one in the three classes who could. Boy! I thought I was clever being able to spell such a modern word!

Another time we did an experiment with paper towels — the brown, crispy kind. The teacher plastered two wet towels to the blackboard, one close to the hot furnace and one further away from the heat. She asked which one would dry and fall off the blackboard first. I thought the experiment was stupid, because I thought everyone should know the one closest to the heat would dry more quickly. Watching those towels dry was about as exciting as watching the grass grow, as they say. All through school, I thought experiments were dumb and boring — probably because this introduction to experiments was less than exciting.

Of course, if that were true, I should have learned to hate reading. Learning to read was no challenge as I had already learned the basics in “Mom’s School.” And the books we had to read in school were somewhat less than interesting. We read about Dick and Jane, their little sister Sally, and their dog Spot. Rather bland characters and the plots were mighty bland, too. “See Dick. See Jane. See Sally. See Spot. See Dick run. See Jane run. See Sally run. See Spot run.” It seems amazing that any of us grew up to enjoy reading!

But recess in the winter was not boring at the Old Haug School. A deep ditch ran next to the school, and in winter, snow would accumulate in it. We had a grand time sliding down the slopes on makeshift toboggans–large pieces of cardboard from cardboard boxes. When we tired of that, we’d play King of the Hill, or if enough snow had accumulated, we’d build forts and even igloos.

Entertainment at the old school was sometimes an unusual activity and sometimes a spectator sport. There were some daring young men in the upper grades who did things like venture into the collapsed portion of the building and work themselves between the walls. Apparently, there was no insulation, plus unusual construction. Anyway, the noise they’d make between the walls was funny and the teachers’ consternation was hilarious.

And one time in the spring when the weather was warm, one of the upper-grade teachers opened an unscreened window to allow in some fresh air. Later she left the room momentarily. Before she returned, one of the daring young men dived out the window headfirst! Reportedly, the teacher arrived in time to see his feet disappearing through the window. We younger kids, being in another classroom, did not observe the trick, but we heard about it and secretly yearned for the courage to perform such acts.

We moved to a new school in the spring of my third grade, so I must have been a rather precocious child because I had a love life while still at the Old Haug School! Once I punched a boy and gave him a bloody nose. When the teacher asked why, I said, “Because he tried to kiss me.”

Another time I got a love letter from an “older man.” I think he was two or three years older than I was, making him about 5th grade or so. Now, I was old enough to know that Mom wouldn’t like this development, but also old enough to be flattered and I didn’t want to dispose of the precious letter. So I brought it home and hid it behind a loose brick in the chimney upstairs. My brother Al, however, promptly snitched on me. I had to produce the incriminating evidence and face the music. I don’t know why I should have got in trouble over the note — I didn’t write it. If I’d ever liked the boy who gave me the note, I sure didn’t after that incident!

The Old Haug School was a marvelous place, but the spring of my third-grade year, we moved to a new school, a consolidated school known as Haug-Leo. It was all shiny and new and modern, but it didn’t have the interesting features of my first school.