In Memory of Spooky

First I have to give the official definition of spooky from dictionary.com:

World English Dictionary

spooky  (ˈspuːkɪ)
— adj  , spookier spookiest
1. ghostly or eerie: a spooky house
2. resembling or appropriate to a ghost
3. US ) easily frightened; highly strung
     Spooky passed unexpectedly on July 23, 2012. He was Holly’s cat so I didn’t know him that well but I what I did know, I liked. He was a sweetie. No, he wasn’t a black cat and yes, I’m going there.
     Holly got the six-year-old Spooky from the pound in N.C. long before Rex came into the picture. He had health problems. He wasn’t cute and cuddly. All strikes were against him when competing against healthy cats and darling kittens. But my daughter wasn’t looking for those things. She was looking for character. An animal that would get a long with her then boyfriend, soon to be husband, who never had a pet. Spooky turned out to be perfect.
     She posted this on Facebook:
My first kitty as an adult, Mr. Spookybutt passed away today. I remember when I went to the animal shelter to find a cat-he was laying on his back with his paw out the cage purring. I took him out of the cage and he nudged my cheek with his head and I fell in love. He kept me warm in bed when John was not home, he kept me entertained with his cuteness, he stayed off counter tops and loved being brushed. He was my first baby and I will miss him.
          However, please review the definition above, in particular number three. He was easily frightened and hid a lot in the first weeks, hence the name. I never saw the cat, except for once, even though I often took care of him while Holly and John were out-of-town. The one time I did see him was when Tracey saw the bump under the covers on their bed. I carefully lifted the covers and beheld Spooky for the first time in the months Holly had got him. It was also the last time for a long while. He hid every time I visited.
      Why the fuss over the name? It’s not my fuss but evidently others have taken a perfectly good word and used it with racist overtones. Holly had no clue and neither did I when she named him. I raised my kids to look at people’s hearts not their outsides. Sure, we know there are differences in culture, etc., but so what? I try to understand those differences and expect the same courtesy in return. I’ve tried to teach my kids this and I think I’ve succeeded.
     When Holly started talking about her new cat the soon to be inevitable question came. Is he black? Holly was bewildered so her friend Jill, who is black, explained to her the connotations. Well. To say we were surprised was putting it mildly.
     Holly was at a loss because she’d been calling her cat Spooky and had him registered at the vet with this name. She took to calling him Spookybutt or Mr. Kitty. Really? She had every right to name him Spooky but she also wanted to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. I’m not sure who I’m calling out here…the idiots who started using the word in a negative or racist way and maybe everyone else who lets the idiots dictate the use of a word in a way that was never intended.
     So here I’m taking the word ‘spooky’ back. It means what the dictionary says it does and nothing else as far as I’m concerned. I vote Spooky’s picture should be put beside the definition just to remind everyone spooky is a beautiful word that could quite possibly be a cat…a slightly ragged, grey cat. Who’s with me?
     Over the years Holly shared stories with me about her kitty. Once when I asked how John and Spooky were getting along she described John and Spooky sleeping together. John at the top of the bed and Spooky sleeping at the bottom. Both with their paws, er hands, er arms? over their faces and snoring in harmony. I love that story, it’s a great one.
     Since Faith was born I have been in Maryland quite a bit. I guess Spooky got resigned to my presence and started making his known. Although he was still easy to spook, he let me feed him chicken, pet him and even tolerated my Belle Amie. While I was cuddling Faith, he cuddled with his mama. When Faith was put down to sleep he curled up beside her on the rug in front of the crib.
     When he died Holly felt guilty because she hadn’t spent a lot of time with him since Faith’s birth. I told her not to feel guilty because he never felt neglected. Not once. All he cared about was that he had one more person to love.
     RIP, Spooky. You are missed. Spooky was fourteen when he passed.
Holly used a great poem on her Facebook page I want to share here:
The Gift of Animal
The animals that share our lives
enrich them beyond measure.
They show us that there is joy in
simplicity and that love can be
communicated without words.
They help us understand that life is to
be lived in the moment without regrets
over the past or worries about the future.
They teach us about companionship
and trust and about giving of ourselves:
our time, our attention, our affection.
Animals bring out our humanity and
help us become better people.
All we need do is open our hearts
to what we can learn from them.~ Mary Montgomery
Peace.

References used in this post:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spooky?s=t

About Writing on Wednesdays: I’m Confused, Where’s That Comma Go Again?

Grammar, I understand, is an important tool in a writer’s arsenal. I haven’t seen anyone ‘taste’ grammar as I have seen them do with a word, but still I’m sure it’s at least as important as the words used to write a story. It is up to the writer to set the mood, rhythm and voice of their work with the grammar they use.

During the course of my self-education I have learned commas are important, and complicated. According to Margaret Shertzer, author of The Elements of Grammar, there are thirty-one different ways to use a comma.  Strunk and White devotes six and a half pages to them in their book, The Elements of Style. *Shudder* No need to cringe, I have no intention of going over them. If you’re in to self-torture go ahead.

I ran across this definition of commas from World English Dictionary:

the punctuation mark(,) indicating a slight pause in the spoken sentence and used where there is a listing of items or to separate a nonrestrictive clause or phrase from a main clause

I like that description. Short, sweet and to the point. Me, being me, can’t leave it alone. No, I need more description. Back I go to Shertzer, Strunk and White; my eyes cross and I get a bit of a buzz in my head while I work out all the intricacies of what you can and can’t do with commas. Commas, I’m pretty sure, are the invention of some little minor demon in hell to give even the devil a headache.

Commas are misused, according to an article I read about them not too long ago. I’m pretty sure that’s true. I know I abuse them in a gleeful manner on a regular basis, and no wonder. Who wouldn’t want to abuse such prudish, uptight punctuation? Besides it’s so easy to do. Evidently.

According to another article I read the use of a comma is up to the writer.  What?! I’ve stressed over my commas, colons and semi-colons for nothing? But wait, according to this same writer they’re misused. I’m scratching my head.

My conclusion is there are basic rules for commas as indicated in the dictionary’s definition. The how of using a comma seems to depend on who you talk to or read, what you’re writing, who you’re writing for (as in your publisher, etc.), your audience and if you’re willing to say kiss my asterisk, I’m putting that dang comma here, so there.

Do you use commas correctly? Or do you enjoy to abusing those suckers? Do you stress over commas? Are you a comma-phobe, like me? Did you know you can italicize a comma? You sure can, here it is:

English: A normal and an italicized comma in T...

 

The articles I’ve referenced:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/fanfare-for-the-comma-man/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/the-most-comma-mistakes/?src=tp

Peace.

Curio’s Past, Shhh.