Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Parvum Opus 308 ~ Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hogmanay

It’s not midnight yet here, but I already enjoyed the Stonehaven fireball celebration five hours away in Scotland via webcam. Hogmanay is Scots for the last day of the year. All you need for spectacular beauty is fire.

Today I cooked black-eyed peas with smoked pork for good luck, an old southern tradition I picked up from my father. One story is that when the Yankees raided southern farms during the Civil War, they took all the food but left the black-eyed peas (or field peas), thinking they were only food for livestock; thus the good luck was that some food remained. I’ve also heard the black spots represent coins, symbolizing money. In any case, they’re good, good for you, and, no doubt, good luck. Best with cornbread, but I had garlic bread and Irish coffee with mine. Or was it Scotch coffee? I used Scotch.

I’m still working on my New Year’s resolutions, but for now it might be more satisfying to begin to compile a list of good things from my 2008. Just a few:

!!! Chief among them was the trip to Scotland for my son Jude’s wedding to dear Kate (and later a trip to Boston for the reception). Moral: Good times may be fleeting, but life is even shorter, so do the important things at any cost.

!!! I got a new job and quit it. Moral: Even if suffering makes it seem like your life is dragging out longer, cut your losses.

!!! It’s been six years that I’ve been writing Parvum Opus. Thanks to everyone who’s read it and who’s written to me. It has been a pleasure. I hope to continue for at least another half-dozen years. Moral: Keep on doing what you like to do, as often as possible; it puts you in a timeless state.

A Bubble a Day

Bet you can’t pop just one: the bubble calendar is a paper calendar overlaid with bubble wrap, allowing you to pop one bubble a day.

Good King Wenceslas

This Christmas I’ve let “Good King Wenceslas” get stuck in my head. Two good versions on YouTube are one by the Irish Rovers, and another by Blackmore’s Night that gives the lyrics and has some lovely artwork.

What is the sound of paper with no words?

Online publisher Blurb has a page called The Library of Unwritten Books. Does that strike a chord? Got a manuscript in your drawer or in your head? If so, this page won’t help, but know you’re not alone.

Synchronized Spooning Update

Following the numerous holiday exhibition synchronized spooning events, one of the best teams has been sidelined by carpe diem syndrome, an injury caused by too much daily practice. Nudge and Swish Carhardt of Grygla, Minnesota, have been practicing virtually every waking ~ and sleeping ~ moment when they’re not actually performing, leading to repetitive motion injuries in Nudge’s elbows and knees.

“I guess I got so anxious to push for admission to the aught-ten Olympics that I overdid it. I’ll rest up for a week or so and then get back to it, but not as much as before.”

When asked how she managed to escape injury after following the same strenuous schedule as her husband Nudge, Swish said, “Well, he leads. And sometimes he practices alone. I just can’t do it 24/7. Especially at Christmas time.”

Jem Whittle of Ontario continued performing after spraining an ankle a month ago. Nudge Carhardt won’t be out of action very long either. Spoons are made of a tough mettle.

Next Week

Notes I’m saving for next week/year: Do you know the difference between an ex-communist and a former communist? Did you know you can wash suede (not just the special washable suede)?



Read The Wish Book, a novella by Rhonda Keith, free online.

New interview with bluesman Sonny Robertson.


Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2008. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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Veritas Vincit (Truth Conquers) with Keith clan Catti insignia

Flash in the Pants

If you're so smart why aren't you me?

If you build it they won't come (border fence)

Rage Boy/Bat Boy: Can you spot the difference?

Akron U. Alma Mater: The Lost Verse

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic) tote bag

I am here

Someone went to Heaven and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

I eat dead things (doggy shirt and BBQ apron)

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Parvum Opus now appears at It is also carried by the Hur Herald, a web newspaper from Calhoun County, West Virginia. See Editor Bob Weaver's interview with me (February 10, 2007 entry), and the PO every week in Columns.

WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! Check out the video and music clips of great blues man Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue". And listen to Judy Joy Jones’s interview with Sonny.

PEACE MISSION INDIA blogs the progress of Pastor Roy Jacob’s mission to build churches in India. Now 79, Pastor Roy (who is an Indian) has built 10 churches, and has a girls’ school to rescue girls from the mountains and jungles who otherwise might be married off as children or perhaps sold.

SEARCH IT OUT ON AMAZON : "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2; "Get wisdom! Even if it costs you everything, get understanding!" Proverbs 4:7:

The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is not composed of atoms, but stories. The physicist Werner Heisenberg said the universe is not made of matter, but music.

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