Friday, August 25, 2017

Sentence Diagramming - Diagramming Determiners

A determiner is a word or phrase that modifies a noun that cannot be counted.  In this post's first example, the interrogative sentence "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood," the determiner is "How much," and the noun it modifies is "wood." Although we may be able to count logs, which is another word for wood, we cannot count wood.  We can say "There are 3 logs," but we would not say "There are 3 woods."

Because "How much" modifies "wood" in the first clause of this sentence, it is diagrammed on a diagonal line under the word "wood," which is the first clause's direct object.

Would you like another example?

Another uncountable noun is "love." We may be able to count Valentine's Day cards, but we cannot count "love." "Endurance" is uncountable, too, just like "courage" and "fear." Could you diagram the determiner for "fear" in the following sentence?  "She had some fear about her new school, but she showed courage on the first day."

Don't let the length of the sentence throw you off.  Simply pick out the clauses and prepositional phrases, first, then diagram the subjects and predicates.  You can save the modifiers until last, which will include any determiners. In this case, the modifying word for "fear" is "some."

Can you think of any other non-count noun and determiner combinations you'd like to see in diagram form?  Let me know in the comments!

Want to read more about diagramming sentences? Try

Gypsy Daughter's Sentence Diagramming List
Gypsy Daughter's Sentence Diagramming Book

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lyme Disease and Aromatherapy: Rocky Mountain Trail Essential Oil Blend

Hiking near Boulder, Colorado

I was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  Part of the effect of the antibiotic treatment includes the release of endotoxins by the microbes as they begin to die: Those microbes and endotoxins, in addition to making me hurt everywhere all the time, cause hormone imbalances that cause severe mood swings.  

Sadness and Frustration 

To be clear, the swings of sadness and frustration I am feeling are probably more to do with my lack of physical energy, which has caused me to be homebound for the last few weeks in a dirty home, as I have not had the time or energy to do much of the cleaning I normally like to do.  The depression, itself, however, goes deeper and causes irrational feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and worthlessness, or even hours at a time of complete apathy and emotional numbness.  The feelings, or lack of feeling, comes and goes in waves, luckily, so I "snap out of it" as the day goes on and feel like myself in the late afternoon or early evening - before I take another antibiotic, and it starts all over, again.


Native Cactus near Boulder, Colorado
One thing that is persistent, however, is my fear that I will never again be able to enjoy the outdoors like I once did for fear of being reinfected. Once I take my morning antibiotic, I know that for the next several hours I am going to experience the physical and emotional effects of the microbes and endotoxins, and that my fear is going to grow over the course of the day until my body can catch up on eliminating the toxins causing my reactions. Although there isn't a whole lot more I can do to quickly eradicate the microbes and their toxins, I can combat some of that daily emotional upheaval with aromatherapy via my oil burner. Specifically, I think I have perfected a blend that reminds me of one of my most favorite places in the universe, the wooded mountain trails near Boulder, Colorado.

Aromatherapy Outdoor Blend: Rocky Mountain Trail

I use an oil burner that has been saturated with my own Thieves Blend over the course of several years, which adds a hint of cinnamon and clove to all of my aromatherapy recipes (and helps cleanse the air). If you do not have a Thieves Blend, simply add a one drop each of cinnamon, rosemary, clove, and lemon to this recipe.

5 drops Cedarwood Oil
3 drops Pine Needle
3 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Jasmine

This particular recipe utilizes all three, top, middle, and base notes for a great balance. Because it is an oil burning recipe only (not meant for skin contact or ingestion), there are few risks for side effects.  It simply helps me relax by reminding me of a place and time that made me happy.

Medical Care 

Boulder, Colorado, 2007
If you are new to aromatherapy, please be sure to research the effects of any oil that's unfamiliar to you - just in case.  Remember to wear gloves, if you aren't using pipettes, to be sure there is no skin contact with any of your aromatherapy oils to prevent irritation.  Of course, you should also talk to your doctor, LLMD, integrated medical practitioner, or herbalsit if you have any questions or concerns about your Lyme treatment symptoms or using aromatherapy, especially if the symptoms seem to be worse than you can handle. Although aromatherapy is a great addition to your care, it is definitely no substitute.

Be well,

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Pray the Rosary: Quick Guide

The Rosary is a prayerful meditation for peace, and in the words of Pope John Paul II, the goal of praying the Rosary is "the improvement of the living conditions of all."  

In a world where our brothers and sisters struggle daily with poverty, hunger, inequality, hatefulness, disease, and oppression, the Rosary can act as a daily reminder to come together to help one another overcome those conditions - with the help of God.

Instructions for praying the Rosary are followed by a listing of the daily Mysteries and biblical references to each of those Mysteries.  Remember that "a" following a passage's citation is a call to focus on the first part of a passage, and "b" is a call to focus on the end of a passage.

The Prayers of the Rosary

 Begin by making the Sign of the Cross.
 Pray the "Apostle's Creed."
 Pray the "Our Father."
 Pray one "Hail Mary" per each of the three beads.
 Pray the "Glory Be" in the space between the three close beads and the next solitary bead.
Announce the First Mystery.  The types of Mysteries are the Joyful (Sundays during Advent, Mondays and Saturdays), Sorrowful (Sundays during Lent, Tuesdays and Fridays), Glorious (Wednesdays and Sundays), and Luminous (Thursdays). More information appears at the end of this post, and the hyperlinks direct you to follow-along videos.
 Pray the "Our Father" on the next solitary bead.
 While meditating on the First Mystery, pray one "Hail Mary" per the next 10 beads.  This is called a "decade."
 In the space following the decade, pray the "Glory Be" . . .
 and the "Fatima Prayer."

“Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those most in need of thy mercy.”
 Announce the Second Mystery . . .
 and pray the "Our Father."
 Repeat that pattern through each decade.
End the Rosary by praying the "Hail Holy Queen."

About the Mysteries

If you are unfamiliar with any of the Mysteries, please use the referenced passages to explore their meanings. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mizeria: A Dairy Free Cucumber Salad Recipe

Polish Mizeria, Cucumber Salad, Made Gluten and Dairy Free!

Traditionally, mizeria is made with sour cream.  However, it's just as tasty made with the tangy zip of Miracle Whip, now also made as "Gold Standard Recipe" with no high fructose corn syrup! 

That makes my mizeria okay for folks who are gluten free, dairy free, or following a low FODMAP diet!  In other words, thanks to the folks at Kraft who brought back the original Miracle Whip recipe, mizeria is back on my menu!  

Mizeria, or Polish Cucumber Salad

I generally make enough for one or two meals serving one or two people.  That is, I don't make a whole lot at once, otherwise I eat it all at once.  You can double or triple the recipe as you see fit.
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 tsp Fresh or dried dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs Miracle Whip Gold Standard Recipe
  • 2 - 3 large radishes

  1. First clean, peel (or don't peel), and thinly slice your cucumber and add it to a mixing bowl.
  2. Clean, peel, and thinly slice your green onion and add it to the cucumber slices.
  3. Add 1 tsp dill, salt and pepper, and Miracle Whip to the mixing bowl.
  4. The fun bit: Wash your hands, then toss your salad until everything is evenly coated with the Miracle Whip. Wash your hands, again.
  5. Serve fresh or chilled with additional dill and radish slices on the side. 

Note: For purists, you can add a bit of vinegar to the recipe, but Miracle Whip already contains a bit of vinegar, so I skip it.

Looking for additional recipes that are easy on the stomach?  Try

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Feel free to share, but please contact the author for permission to republish.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sample Narrative Essay: Spelling Bee

A few weeks ago I came home from work and did not, like I normally do, immediately change my clothes.  I was still in my work clothes when my husband got home from work.
"You wore that to work?" he asked.
"Yes.  Do you like it?" I asked in return.
"It's a maternity shirt, I think," he said carefully.

Let it be known that I am not nor ever have been nor plan to be in a state of M-A-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y.

A few weeks before that a student announced to the me and the rest of the class that she knew I would be in class that day because she saw me walking across campus, and she knew without a doubt it was me walking across campus because of my pants.
"No one else wears pants like that, anymore," she said.

I have heard, too, that I am a very approachable professor because I "don't dress like the other female English professors."  I have a multitude of examples.  Suffice it to say, I have a very complicated relationship with my clothes: But this is not a new thing,  I realized earlier this week.  The root of my problem taps as deep as a First Grade spelling bee. "A-S-S," I spelled out for a student earlier this week who almost used the word "ass" but did not want to swear in class.  "A-S-S," I spelled,  and as I did so I was  transported immediately back to the St. Clair County Regional Spelling Bee, 1981.

I was in the First Grade, and I wanted to be anywhere but at that spelling bee.  It wasn't that I wasn't proud of being the best First Grade speller in the entire elementary school, but that my mother had forced me to wear the most dreadful clothing I had ever seen in my life.  It was ugly, outdated, scratchy, and utterly embarrassing.  The dress was pink, faded flower pink with a smokey yellow tinge coating its pleated overlay; a nicotine tinge.  It had a frayed satin belt U-N-T-I-E-D in what was supposed to be a bow behind my back.  It was something once loved by someone else years and years prior, and it looked to have been worn for a semi-formal occasion.  The tights were white, yet too small, and the crotch sagged, chaffing the insides of my thighs.  The shoes, however, were casual, too big, and they were burgundy with B-O-O-G-E-R-Y, rubber soles. My hair was down, which meant it was snarly and stuck under my armpits.  An unhappier child you have never seen, so to top off the look were streaks running from eyes to chin where the tears had cut through the tomboy dust on my cheeks.

I had to sit on stage like that, in front of people who were going to judge me and my hand-me-down, mismatched clothes. The other kids looked nice . . . until they looked at me and made faces, however.  None of them would talk to me.  They laughed and pointed.  It was mortifying, devastating, and demoralizing.  I sat in the back row and hoped the adjudicators would never call my name.

But they did.

And the word was "as." Could they have made it any easier?  Did they feel bad for me or something?

"Use that in a sentence, please." I said to buy more time as I considered my options.  I wanted to sink into the stage floor, but that was not an option.

"She ran as quickly as a cheetah," the adjudicator read from the card. I wanted to run away as quickly as a cheetah, but that was not an option, either.

I thought of the one option that would allow me to go home early, though.

"As," I said. I tried to conjure enough saliva to do what needed to be done next.
"A-S-S," I spelled.

A few people laughed.  I was off the stage before they even had to ask me to leave the stage. We were in the car shortly after that, and no one spoke.  As I recall, that dress and those shoes never saw the light of day, again.  I never competed in a spelling bee, again, either.

Was there a better option?  Did I really need to throw the game to save face?  In the moment, I sure as H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks thought I did.  But would I do it the same today?  Probably not.  I'd probably note the people laughing at the way I dressed and outspell them all, anyway, paying particular attention to enunciate any bad words that appeared within another word while looking at the laughers.


But I'd still feel bad about them laughing at me, and my complicated relationship with my clothes would get ever still more complicated.  It's human nature, I think, and until we all get back to the fig leaf or go naked, it's a complication that will persist.

Want to read more about my complicated relationship with my clothes? Try

Project 333 Math: Making my Own Rules
Stitch Fix Review: Styling at 40

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Monday, January 23, 2017

What's a Poster Presentation?

A poster presentation is generally a quick, visual and verbal presentation that uses a poster as a visual aid. While the visual aid, the poster, can usually stand alone to explain the presenter's research using text and images, a short speech will help answer any additional questions a viewer may have.  

What's the Purpose of a Poster Presentation

Poster presentations allow for viewers, generally conference attendees, to gather as much information about current research in their fields as possible in a short amount of time.  This method of "quick introduction" can help spur additional research, partnerships, sponsorships, and scholarship.

How to Plan the Poster Part of a Poster Presentation

A poster should introduce the most pertinent parts of a scholar's research.  Remember, it should be able to stand alone as an explanation of a scholar's current research.  The poster should be designed with viewers in mind, viewers who will be standing 4 - 6 feet from the poster. For example, all fonts should be large enough to be easy-to-read, and images should be clearly labelled, crisp, and interesting in color or texture.  The poster should include white space, and information within the text and as part of images should be grammatically correct and placed in a logical order. Headings for each section of the poster are also helpful for viewers.

A poster should include, at minimum

  • A Descriptive Title and Contact Information
  • The Research Question or Hypothesis
  • An Explanation of Research Methods, Materials, Approaches, and Process
  • The Informative Results of the Investigation

Additional information might include an overview, summary, abstract, bibliography, a list of partners or assistants, or additional research information.

How to Plan the Presentation Part of a Poster Presentation

The speech portion of the poster presentation should be short and to the point.  The time limit for such a speech is generally between one and two minutes.  Interested parties may wish to ask additional questions about the scholar's research: Anticipating those questions and preparing articulate answers shows professionalism.

A short speech should include an attention-getter, which in this case could be asking a viewer if he or she would like to know more about the research. From there, the scholar can present his or her thesis before transitioning into each main idea presented on the poster, giving examples or pointing out evidence in an appropriate order.  The scholar may wish to reiterate the thesis in the conclusion of the speech or use an additional conclusion technique for impact. Furthermore, the speaker should enunciate and speak with an appropriate volume and tone.


A poster presentation is both a visual and audible presentation of a scholar's current research.  Both the poster and the speech must be prepared with unity, coherence, and clarity. When designing a poster presentation, a scholar must remember to be concise: Poster presentations should be pleasant and interesting for viewers.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Please contact the author for permission to republish.