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Gwin Mitchell Paden A movie that evokes the great, clattering newsrooms of years gone by

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Gwin Paden

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:26 am, Tue Feb 28, 2012.

I guess one could say March is bustin' out all over. The garden is certainly not waiting for June! Around here there are clumps of rich purple violets, daffodils in several shades of yellow, deep blue grape hyacinths, and snowflakes with the scalloped edges of their white blossoms dotted in green. The forsythias are bursting at the seams to show off their yellow blossoms, and in the neighborhood there are bright red flowering quince and trees in pink or white.

Everything is so positive and optimistic that I hope the weather gods have mercy and don't beat all this beauty into a sodden mass with late, heavy rains. Soft rains might not hurt, but then they will have to go on for a long time to slake the earth's thirst.

Actually, I think vegetation is one of God's strongest and most enduring creations. Look what comes from brown lumpen bulbs, and stark sticks of branches. Look how plants cling to walls and how trees seemingly grow out of the tops of rocks. And weeds! Practically indestructible.

This endurance proved itself when a poinsettia I kept over from last year had all its top leaves turn red this last month, and a peace lily which my husband and I have been nurturing for 10 years, after long neglect in a busy office, finally put out a white blossom!

***

A while ago I saw a black and white movie on TCM that I had never seen or heard of before, and which I really liked. It was called "30" and starred Jack Webb as the editor of the night shift of a daily newspaper. All the action and characters were confined to that place and time, but the story reached a lot further than that. I liked it in part because it made me homesick for the newsrooms I worked in during the '60s, with all the reporters' desks in one big room and typewriters clattering away.

And since we are on the subject of writing, I'm allowing myself another go at trying to clear up some manglings of the spelling and grammar of the English language. How can an individual graduate a high school or college? What exactly is being done to that institution by that individual? A person can graduate FROM high school/college just fine-and possibly with honors.

There's a difference between "flushing out" and "fleshing out." The first means to drive something out from cover, like quail, (or to clean out something), and the second means to add more details to a rather sketchy plan-or to put on weight! And "reign" means to rule (Queen Elizabeth has reigned over England for most of her life), while "rein" is something that controls: (He reined in the galloping horse; He had to put reins on his wild imagination).

The past tenses of "shine" can be tricky. Usually, "shone" is intransitive — that is, it has no object. "The sun shone," just action. But "shined" usually takes an object: "He shined shoes for a living." Try this one: "He shined the flashlight down the path ahead," and "The flashlight shone down the path ahead." Fun, isn't it? Where do we go with weaved/wove, dived/dove, and pleaded/pled? Another column. N.B. As hard as I try, I keep reading about bodies "laying" on the lawn or on a bed or in the street. They're not, of course; they're "lying" in all these places. And that's no lie!

***

If you're wondering, Cats of All Colors is Abandoned Cats by a new name, with Stephanie Ward still at the helm. She and a whole host of helpers are working to trap and neuter/spay feral cats and strays, get them rabies shots, and in many cases, find them more suitable homes on farms or in areas where they can keep down rats and mice. Such a "foster home" has to guarantee a good shelter from the elements (and, possibly, coyotes), at least one meal a day of dry food, and water, of course. Several people with large ranches are taking these cats; they come for free. Spaying/neutering should not be confined to just feral or stray animals. People with pets should do this, too. This precaution saves a lot of really great pets from having to be euthanized for lack of space in shelters.

***

Two great books to read: "The Piano Tuner," a first novel by Dan Mason, and "Catherine the Great," by Robert Massie. The first is very different, set in Burma in the 1800's when Britain had military rule there, and the second is about the rule over Russia by an extraordinary woman who was German by birth.

And one to end with: Why are graveyards so noisy? Because of all the coffin. Think that's bad? What is the best thing about deadly snakes? They've got poisonality.

And away we go!

Gwin Paden of Lodi is a writer and retired teacher.

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