The things I do to pass the time


I’ve been strangely preoccupied with vowels today . . . I tend to get stuck on various oddities and random subjects when I am anxious. My son boards an airplane on Saturday, he is heading home. I’m happy he’ll be home soon, but nervous about the trip. So to deal, I obsessed on vowels all day. Who knows, the topic could arise one day and you’ll be glad you read my ramblings. It could happen.

The English language, language in general, is filled with all sorts of interesting oddities. Since I was old enough to read I have been fascinated with words. I seemed to have a knack for picking up on some of their various little quirks, one I found particular delight in were words with vowels, not just vowels, almost all words contain vowels, it was words with vowels in alphabetical order that caught my fancy.

There are many words which contain letters arranged alphabetical order such as almost, begin and biopsy, but even more interesting are those composed of vowels in the exact order in which we first learned them, a, e, i, o, u and yes, sometimes y.

One such word is ArsEnIOUs (arsenious), which means something derived from or containing arsenic. Another is sUbcOntInEntAl, while at first glance subcontinental doesn’t appear to fit the alphabetical mold, it does, it just does so backward. Another backward vowel order word is dUOlItErAl (duoliteral).

In yet another example, fAcEtIOUslY (facetiously) the often misunderstood Y has been included. So far the longest word known to have all five vowels is order (for those of you who can overlook the Y as a vowel) is phragelliorhynchus with eighteen letters, while not found in the dictionary, it is widely recognized in the scientific realm as a protozoan. The shortest I’ve seen thus far is the word areious with just seven letters. The longest word I have found with the vowels in reverse order is another scientific term, this time for a crustacean, punctoschmidtella with seventeen letters.

Science has provided us with more than a few of these fun and nearly impossible to pronounce words with well placed vowels. Lamelligomphus, a type of dragonfly, annelidous is something to do with segmented worms; I didn’t study further into this particular definition. Adecticous means with immobile mandibles. Juloidea (reverse order) is a family of millipedes, super millipedes to be more precise. Another in reverse order is a rodent by the name of muroidea.

There are more than a few words which have become nearly obsolete in our everyday vernacular but fit well into the category of alphabetical vowel usage. Affectious and affectiously are little used variants of affectionate. Cameelious is word created in jest by Kipling to describe the lazy camel’s hump in his Just So Stories. Placentious, meaning pleasing, or disposed to please; complaisant or agreeable. Gravedinous lends itself to define drowsy or heavy-headed.

Better known words with this fun element include, in alphabetical order of course, abstemious(ly) abstentious(ly), acheilous, acheirous, adventitious(ly), annelidious, aerious, arteriousum, avenious, bacterious, cavernicolous, casious, hareiously, materious, parecious(ly), placentious, tragedious, uncomplimentary. This is just a sampling of the many words in this world which have the distinction of having all their vowels in order.

Perhaps these are not facts you will use in your everyday life, but they are fun little tidbits to know if you happen to be enamored with words. The dictionary can be a wonderful playground. I have great respect for words, their form and their function, I find great beauty in them.

*I perused the Internet while writing this, looking for words to add to my list and was dismayed to find many seemingly made up words or words slightly misspelled to fit the mold. There were hundreds of words to be found, but only dozens with definite definitions, so of course, only those definitively defined were used above. Definitely.

Crystal R.Cook

In case you’ve ever wondered, and I doubt you have.


While trying to occupy myself with anything other than laundry, I let my mind begin to wander. It took me the better portion of the day to find it. It gets lost in the strangest of places, today I found it drinking coffee and pondering vowels. Why? Why not? Vowels are cool, and, if you don’t know it by now, I can be a little left of normal sometimes.

So the laundry lay unattended whilst I looked up words, using a prompt I recalled from somewhere asking what the longest letter in the English language was which used a singular vowel. My kind of interesting . . . My husband hasn’t any clean socks, yet somehow I still feel accomplished.

Now, after much consideration and counting, it seems the longest word in the English language with only one vowel is strengths which is made up of nine letters. In comparison to the word strengthlessness, which has sixteen letters, strength is relatively small. Though strengthlessness has three vowels, they are in fact the same vowel simply utilized thrice, thus making it a much longer word utilizing just one of the five vowels.

If you excuse Y from its part-time vowel work, the word glycyphyllin which is a photochemical compound, has a singular vowel as well and consists of twelve letters.

There are a plethora of words which utilize just one vowel, not too hard to come by at all, so far, I’ve made use of seventy-six such words not counting those appearing more than once. Eighty-one when you consider *a* and *I* are actual words themselves, minuscule in comparison to the twenty letter word Chrononhotonthologos. Like strengthlessness, it contains the same vowel more than once, but only one vowel nonetheless.

The larger the words the harder they are to find, but there are more than a few with the same vowel used in repetition, technically they do utilize only one of the chosen few we call vowels, a, e, i, o, u . . . and sometimes y.

Succubus (three – u) has eight letters.

Screeched, (three – e), mundungus (three- u), beekeeper (five – e) these words have nine letters in each.

Asarabacca (five – a), oconomowoc (five – o), numbskulls (two – u), untruthful (three -u), dumbstruck (two – u), decrescence (four – e), nebelwerfer (four – e) and telemetered (five – e) each have eleven letters.

Taramasalata (six – a) is comprised of twelve letters.

Effervescence (five – e) is a good example with thirteen letters. Handcraftsman (three – a ), Mississippi (four – i), disinhibiting (five – i), whipstitching (three – i), kinnikinnicks (four – i) primitivistic (five – i), Philistinisms (four – i) have thirteen as well.

Instinctivistic (five – i) and defenselessness (five – e) have fifteen letters respectively.

Coming in at twenty letters is Chrononhotonthologos (seven – o), a satirical play by the English poet and songwriter Henry Carey from 1734.

While each of these words obviously contain more than one vowel, they do have the distinction of having the same vowel throughout, so depending on your criteria, the longest word in the English language (I have so far found) with only one vowel is either strengths or Chrononhotonthologos.

*Yes, they are all real words.

Crystal R. Cook

This stinks.

imageI want to thank, and by thank I mean throttle, the geniuses behind the science that says second-hand flatulence is good for our health.

The men, it had to be men, behind this insidious study of smell should be flogged. I have no information regarding validity of these claims or how accurate the reporting of them was, but the damage has been done.

When they invent charcoal bed sheets I’ll be first in line. I need softly spun cotton with odor absorbent fibers woven into a smooth, 600 thread count layer of protection so I can sleep without fear of awaking in the night to a fog of funk.

Was this brilliant breakthrough really something we needed to know? Will it be of benefit to mankind? Well, I suppose it already is, but what about womankind?

I am a fragile flower with a sensitive sniffer for goodness sake. I am the lone female in a house with four men, this does not bode well for me, it doesn’t smell all that great either.

At this rate, my heart will remain strong and I will be disease free for-fricking-ever. My mental well-being however, was already in question before this news . . . broke

Thank you science folk, thank you very, effing, much.

Syllables change things.

The way you speak is important. How you say something matters. For instance:

Son: Hey Mommy, I was was watching this whore episode of that show and . . .

Me: (interrupting) What were you watching?!

– If you know my son, you know he has a moral compass bigger than than the Washington Monument, he detests anything indecent –

Son: I was watching this whore episode on . . .

Me: (again interrupting) Whore?

Son: Yeah. Whore. You know, it was supposed to be scary.

Me: Ahh, horror.

Son: That’s what I said.

Me: No. No, you didn’t. Horror has TWO syllables my son. TWO.

Son: (turning a shade of pink) Gimme a break.

Enunciate my friends . . . enunciate.

**A little background regarding my name – My children are adults, well, the youngest is 17, but close enough. My kids call me Mommy. All four of them. My oldest boys, autistic and awesome, have never wanted to call me anything else and their sister and brother hung on right along with them. So, just in case you ever wondered . . .

I’ve never cared for roller coasters.

imageI wrote what will follow this when my son was fifteen, it is a snapshot of a particular day in our lives – he is now twenty-two years old. There was a time I feared we would not make it this far together, I feared I might not be enough. There were days I was certain I wasn’t. I took each moment as it came, holding on to hope for the next and praying for the strength I so desperately needed.

It was suggested he be placed in a residential treatment home after his third in-patient hospitalization at the children’s psychiatric hospital. My heart broke at the thought. My heart has felt the shattering of despair many times over the years.

He was my second child, as perfect as his brother. I knew very early on that like his big brother, he was going to need some extra care. He began early intervention services at two for developmental delays. He began speech therapy at three because he was not learning to speak. He was provided with occupational and physical therapy to help his body assimilate to his surroundings, to try to help his sensory functions work with him rather than against him.

At three he was enrolled in a special needs preschool. At five he finally began to speak. In kindergarten they diagnosed him with ADHD and OCD, and he was very much both of those things, but there was more, something yet to be named.

By second grade he could no longer deal with the constant changes and expectations of a mainstream classroom and was moved to a special day class for what they called the emotionally disturbed kids, it was right across the hall from the regular special ed classroom.

This was the year of his first hospitalization. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Autism by sixth grade, the same year he finally stopped soiling his pants. The medications they gave him helped . . . some. Middle school regressed him, it turned his world inside out, that was the year of his second hospitalization, the next year brought a third.

Done with doing it their way, I fought until he was placed in a special needs high school, the same one his older brother already attended, there he flourished educationally, but Bipolar is an insidious parasite we had to battle each and every day. We still do.

I look back on those years and remember how dark they often were, I remember wondering if we would ever come up for air. He has worked hard, he is an unbelievable young man. He no longer cycles as manically and as rapidly as he did in his youth, but he still has his many ups and downs. His life is not easy, navigating through the world with autism can be tricky enough without your own mind turning on you periodically in the process.

He amazes me. There is so much to his story, details I wish I could forget but know I mustn’t. I have to record them, hard as I know it will be. I want to share our journey so people will see the hope and the determination that can change a life when there are those who say it cannot be done.

There is always, always . . . hope.

This morning, before the sun began to shine he told me I ruined his life, and then he said he loved me.

When I thought he had calmed I said good morning to him, he said I purposely say things just to make him feel crazy, and then he said he loved me.

After he’d eaten his breakfast he told me it was my fault he is the way he is, and then he said he loved me.

He told me he’d rather be anywhere than here, and then he said he loved me.

This morning, before my day had a chance to begin he told me he never should have been born, and then he said he loved me.

This afternoon he threw a fork at his brother and then helped him clean his room. He screamed and he yelled. He cursed and he sobbed. He raged and he rested. He threw his shoes at me and then he asked for ice cream.

He had a fit of laughter followed by a slamming door. He said he was going to ride his bike off a broken ramp down the road, it’s dangerous I say, he replies, I can do it, I won’t get hurt, nothing can hurt me. I prayed for angels to keep close watch as he walked out the door.

Tonight he hugged me, and then he said he loved me. He said his prayers and he closed his eyes. As I walked from the room he said, “Mommy, today was a good day wasn’t it? I smiled through my tears and said “Yes. Yes it was little man.”

I never know what tomorrow will bring. Some days I don’t know what the next minute will bring. My fifteen year old son is bipolar. He cycles rapidly, the roller coaster that is his life never ends, it slows every now and again, but never does it stop. I hold his hand as we ride up and down and back again. Sometimes I want off. I want to plant both feet back on the ground but I can’t let him ride alone, I won’t let him ride alone.

He has mood swings and he rages. He is happy and he is tormented. He sees things and hears things that aren’t real. When he is happy he jokes and laughs and tells me he loves me half a dozen times each hour and I feel like I am walking on air, but I don’t know if that same boy will walk through the door after school. Will he hate me? Will he hide somewhere and stick safety pins into his fingers? Will he throw things at us or will he be able to smile still? I don’t know. I never know.

He is such a great kid, so beautifully and perfectly great. He has the sweetest smile and his laughter can melt hearts. I close my eyes each night in prayer and I open them each new morn with hope. I try not to think of what the future will bring, I just want to get him safely to tomorrow. Some days are better than others.

I do what the doctors say; I try what the therapists say to try. I grow weary, I do, but one day I know I will rest, one day I know he will as well. I have hope and I have faith and I have a son I love more than anything else. He is a good boy.

An angel with a broken wing, learning how to fly . . .

Crystal R. Cook




Shoebox Memory on a Post-It

So my son licked a bar of soap. I know, kids do weird things, it’s to be expected I suppose. He immediately began rubbing his tongue on his shirt and proceeded to lap up water from the faucet like you would from a garden hose.

His younger brother, who by the way has never licked soap, asked him why on earth he would ever want to do such a strange thing.

His reply, which he seemed to think should be sufficient to leave any lingering curiosities  quelled was this -

“I had questions, I needed answers.”

I see. Carry on. The boy needed answers.

Oh, did I mention he is 16? Yeah . . . There’s that.


He is now 22 . . . Yesterday he placed his hand on the ceramic burner to see if it was hot. Again. I guarantee it will not be the last time he does so.