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  • Although we all know that language is constantly changing, that the English we use today is quite different from what it was in Shakespeare’s time, I can’t help wondering where certain words and phrases come from and how they become ubiquitous. Like others who write or edit, I keep my eyes and ears open, and I am not always happy about what I read or hear.

  • It takes courage and tremendous power of persuasion to convince the electorate, and the powers-that-be, that the general consensus on a matter of public policy is wrong. Kevin McAllister and Mike Bottini showed that courage when they filed a lawsuit last week to try to stop the construction by the Army Corps of Engineers of a 3,100-foot-long and 50-foot-wide revetment along the ocean beach at Montauk. I’m not so sure about their powers of persuasion.

  • An osprey apparently forgot that he was supposed to be headed north in time for the first day of spring, or Fish Hawk Day, as old-timers here call it. Instead he hovered over Lake Arenal — a surprise greeting on our first afternoon in Costa Rica.

  • Remember the grape boycotts of the 20th century? The dramatic slogan “It Won’t Wash” helped convince many of us to give up table grapes in support of California farm workers and their families, who were suffering serious health consequences, including birth defects and various cancers, from the pesticides being sprayed on fruit.

  • Why is sunlight on a landscape of untrammeled snow more exhilarating than bright sun on the beach or through the woods? I wonder what scientists have to say about the ways visual experiences evoke emotions. 

  • Ten years ago this June, my eldest granddaughter fell in love with a kitten at the Animal Rescue Fund’s shelter. I can’t imagine what my daughter-in-law, Lisa, was thinking when she took her there on a lark as a fourth birthday treat: Lisa is allergic, and their household has always been something of a dog menagerie to begin with, without much spare room for extra sets of paws.

  • Guess what song has been going through my head for more than two weeks since two feet of snow fell and the temperature started to go down. Sorry, but I can’t help setting things to music. What I keep hearing, a la Louis Armstrong, is:

    “Oh, the weather outside is frightful/ But the fire is so delightful/ And since we’ve no place to go/ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

  • Did you read about the gigantic opossum that got stuck in a wooden gate in Sag Harbor last week? The story of its rescue was told on almost as soon as it was freed, and the ’possum pictures, which The Star didn’t have room to publish in print, were ridiculously adorable. This week, like all weeks nowadays, plenty of feature and sports photos that weren’t used in the paper itself appeared on the web.

  • Did you know that Starbucks sells souvenir mugs featuring images of different cities, countries, and states around the world — from Arizona to Ireland to Tokyo? Shush. Don’t tell my husband. He’s got a mug bug.

    It was an exhibit of Dominy furniture at Clinton Academy that set off his addiction: He must have bought a half-dozen of the attractive commemorative Dominy mugs, keeping some and giving others away. I agreed that they made nice gifts, but I had no idea they would open a floodgate.

  • Even if you’re not a kid, snow days are a welcome respite, not from school but from the getting and spending with which most of us fill our days. It was Tuesday afternoon when I wrote this. As I sat at my computer, which is in a corner of the bedroom, I watched the snow veer horizontally, rising high enough to cover the seat of the swing in the yard and making a graceful mound of the car.