Word Nerd Gets a Cabin Fever Fix: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Aug. 6th edition of the Devils Lake Journal http://www.devilslakejournal.com/ where I sell ads and write stories.  For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit http://www.devilslakend.com/)

My cabin fever I wrote about last week has been assuaged for now through a couple of trips to Grand Forks and a weekend at Little Wolf Lake near Bemidji with some college pals I hadn’t seen in 25 years. Assuage is a word you don’t hear very often. So when I was thinking about using it, I had to look it up in the dictionary. I am word nerd. I love words, and I thoroughly enjoy looking words up in the dictionary!

My love of words and books began at a young age. When I was a kid I loved all kinds of books, including the Dr. Seuss books – The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and the one about the Sneetches. I was a regular at the old Carnegie Library, starting out in the children’s area in the basement and eventually working my way to the second floor as I got older. I utilized the summer reading program, and I also remember walking home from the library in the late afternoon on crisp fall days, just itching to get home to crack open the books I had just checked out.

Although I miss the old Carnegie library, the new Lake Region Public Library is very spiffy, and when I first moved back to Devils Lake last spring, I utilized its zippy computers for job hunting. Being a word nerd, I’ve been a library user all of my life, and I always locate the local library when I move to a new locale. In fact, I worked at a library in Highlands Ranch, Colo., during which time I also worked at a Borders book store, fulfilling a lifelong dream of working at a book store.

So getting back to assuage. The dictionary says it means “make (an unpleasant feeling) less intense” or “satisfy.” So I think it’s the perfect word when describing my cabin fever being somewhat alleviated.

Speaking of words, my parents still own a set of 1962 World Book encyclopedias. Pops/Fast Eddie still references them on occasion, most recently to look up mongoose, which is the brand of my bike on which Fast Eddie recently replaced a tire. Page 604 of the M encyclopedia says mongoose, wedged between mongolism and Monica, Saint, is, among other things, “related to the civet and the ichneumon.” Huh?! The I encyclopedia says an ichneumon is “a small flesh eating animal that looks like a weasel” and apparently resides in Egypt. Of course considering these encyclopedias are 50 years old the ichneumon just might be extinct.

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