Thursday, November 19, 2009

If I could draw, I still wouldn't have been clever enough to do this...

My 13-year-old is often a good source of unusual vocabulary words, and this time I don't mean the type you'd typically associate with a teenage boy: he is the one who gave me "strigel" (the flat scraper that bathers of antiquity used--to scrape off the olive oil they washed with) and "funambulist" (see below, if you've forgotten that one). So it's really no surprise that he brought to my attention recently.

This is a very witty website, and they have similarly funny paperback, which my son shared with me. Here is the link on the Minuteman Library Network--you can order it and pick it up at your library:
It is definitely worth a look. I'm going to mine it for Bee words.

A big THANK YOU goes to Park School English teacher Curt Miller, who introduced us to the Vocabulary Cartoons.

Friday, October 16, 2009

March 25, 2010!

The Selectmen approved our date for the Town House Great Hall.
Write it in your calendar!
More, here, as things develop.
See you!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Here's another interesting source for Bee Words: the Phobia List

I found myself having to look up a word on line (anatidaephobia--it reportedly means fear of being watched by a duck, and one website I saw credits Far Side creator Gary Larson with its coinage--but I could not confirm that on the site). Looking through all that led to a very interesting website called the Phobia List ( Compiled by Fredd Culbertson as an outgrowth of his interest in words and etymology, this list organizes over 500 phobias by name and by definition. Looking through it, I couldn't find anatidaephobia or fear of anything to do with a duck, but it is a source of interesting and unusual words. Here's one for Bee players:
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words. I just might have to add that to the emergency word list for sudden death overtime!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This Boston Globe article reminds us all that spelling DOES count

Bad grammar trips up suspected identity thief - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Can you imagine someone usurping your identity and then abusing the English language in your name? Yikes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 a promising website for word-lovers

I subscribe to Charles Hodgson's RSS feeds, and found a link to this new site mentioned at the bottom of one of his entries. It looks great! Check it out yourself: go to, enter a word and see an interesting variety of information pertaining to it: pronunciation, etymology, common usage, and words with which your chosen word is often associated. The creators describe it as "an ongoing project devoted to discovering all the words and everything about them", and they suggest that using their site might improve your Scrabble scores. It looks to me like the site would be a fun way to prepare for the 2010 Dover Town Library Spelling Bee. Who knows--maybe we'll find some new words there for our Bee players!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maybe not a source of Bee words, but definitely worth a read if you like words

Former Library Trustee (and general braniac) Alison Piper is one of my secret weapons in the construction of the annual Bee word list. I sweat and fret, and then pass the list to Alison who gives it a once-over and easily points out many of my strategic errors. In years when the Bee contestants beat the word list, I turn to Alison's prepared "extra-hard Secret Killer Bee words", which yield gems such as 2007's odontalgia and 2009's gnorimoschema.

Alison sent me the link to Schott's Vocab's recent Tom Swifty contest, and I liked the site so much I decided to write about it in here. Here's the NYTimes website's description of Schott's Vocab:

Schott’s Vocab is a repository of unconsidered lexicographical trifles — some serious, others frivolous, some neologized, others newly newsworthy. Each day, Schott's Vocab explores news sites around the world to find words and phrases that encapsulate the times in which we live or shed light on a story of note. If language is the archives of history, as Emerson believed, then Schott’s Vocab is an attempt to index those archives on the fly.
Ben Schott is the author of “Schott’s Original Miscellany,” its two sequels, and the yearbook “Schott’s Almanac.” He is a contributing columnist to The Times’s Op-Ed page. He lives in London.
His Web site can be viewed at, and his Opinion pieces here.

Today's word in Schott's Vocab is "funemployed"--people who are unemployed and enjoying it. You can subscribe to the feed on RSS and Twitter--it's worth a look.

Thanks, Alison!

Friday, June 5, 2009

More on the Scripps Bee

Amelia Slawsby sent me a great link to Newsweek's spelling bee coverage:

I love some of the words they highlighted, particularly akropodion (the most prominent part of the back of one's heel). Perhaps we'll have a body part category next year...antecubital, philtrum, akropodion...

For those of you who missed it in real time, check out the Scripps Bee website: I absolutely love the fact that a girl named Kavya won it--kavya was one of the Dover Bee words, and it refers to a type of Sanskrit poem. What a beautiful idea, to name one's child after a poetic work. (Notice that we don't see many kids named Ode, Limerick, Ditty or Haiku--but maybe the trend will catch, now that a Kavya has risen to fame in spelling.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Word of the day (decade?): Oculogyrism

It means eye-rolling.

With thanks to Dr. Joseph Loscalzo, whose word skills have bolstered the Bee for a couple of years now, as a judge and as a word contributor.

Now, who can come up with an emoticon for eye-rolling? We have ;-) for a wink and >:-( for a scowl. How do we roll the eyes using the keyboard? Teenagers everywhere want to do their parents, surely.

National Spelling Bee on TONIGHT

They're trying to spell lapies...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Here's a good article on the etymology of the word BEE

from noted etymology guru and word maven Charles Hodgson:

If you have any interest in words for the sake of words, you will find worth a closer look. You can subscribe via RSS feed, which makes it quite easy (and keeps the entries organized and in their own neat little file--not your inbox).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Relive the excitement

Channel 8 has posted the Bee re-play: Tuesday, 31 March at 4 pm and Wednesday, 1 April at 8.30 pm. If you're like me, you'll watch it and be surprised every inch of the way, even though you already know how it turns out. I can't wait to see how Rick Tarara produced it: Channel 8 had some pretty sophisticated equipment in the Great Hall last Thursday. From what I could tell, viewers at home will be able to see the word underneath the regular camera shot (except for during that awkward moment when we ran out of hard words and had to go "off the grid"--somehow the Library's version of PowerPoint was missing from the laptop, so I couldn't type them in as we went along).

You can check the schedule for future Bee showings, and you can also order a copy of the show by calling x0737.

Friday, March 27, 2009

This is what we mean by "Bee Tree"

Here's a photo of this year's amazing Bee Tree, created by artist Jane Bleakley and populated by many generous donations from local and regional businesses. The hive shows what the prizes are, and you have to guess the word clue. In keeping with the Library's culture of value for your municipal tax dollar, the prizes were sold at less than face value. Everybody wins on the Bee Tree!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gnorimoschema. Really.

Well, we can now identify the 12 smartest spellers in Dover. What an evening! You couldn't have made up a wilder story.

The first round went pretty much as one might expect, with the three teams (B-H Stingers, the Young and the Restless, and Prince 'n' Pals) in a dead heat for most of the round. The Young and the Restless (fabulous name: the teachers are young and their students are restless): Judy Cronin, Andrea Martin and Alisa Saunders, worked well under pressure alongside Prince 'n' Pals: Chickering Principal Kirk Downing, Deb Reinemann, and Sally Winslow, before the B-H Stingers-- made up of Bee Veterans Sue Geremia, Rebecca Kovrlija (a former champ), and Sara Muckstadt--edged them out and won the round, to the audible delight of their vast cheering section.

The second round nearly sunk me, and that's saying something. The Replacements (Jim Kinder, Sushil Kumar and their lovely companion, whose name escapes me at the moment) stepped out of the audience to sub for the no-show "Greatest Team Ever"--not having seen a word of the word list before that moment!--and held their own against Veteran Spellers the Town House Honey Bees and new-Bees Will Bleakley, Paul Fiore (the left-handed scribe) and Greg Kahoun (the BEE-List Celebrities). This round ran me out of words! I keep stats from prior Bees, and this year I had 3x the normal number of Killer Bee (aka extra hard) words. But we had to call a time-out and go "off the grid" because the BEE-list Celebrities and the Town House Honey Bees spelled every single word without flinching. I think they could have gone through the entire 900+ word list. We actually had to call an intermission while we looked for additional words! Between the people who hadn't studied but still knew words like endemic and erythrophobia, and the braniacs who COULD NOT be stumped by words like spaeman and coati, it was an episode of shock and awe for those of us sitting by the dictionary. We finally ended the round with potvaliant (made stronger or bolder by having drunk strong drink). The BEE List Celebrities deservedly won the round, but all 12 players get my personal standing ovation. I'll be waiting for you next year.... and your first word will be PHARAOH. You know why.

Round 3 saw the winners of our Perfect Attendance Award--the Coldwell Banker, Wellesley team (played this year by Betsy Breziner, Kathy Iovanni and Bee Veteran Laura Talmud)--pit their skills against the muscular vocabularies of Just the Neighbors (Joe Desalvo, Tom Dixon and Nancy Simms) and the Spellunkers (Tod Dimmick, who kindly offered me his dictionary during the previous round, Lori Krussell and Pamela Mok). It was a good long fight, ranging from relevant (a word I can never spell) to tatterdemalion, and finally ending in philippic. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the round was finished. I had developed onychophagia (fingernail-biting).

Round 4 pitted the baseball caps of the Dover Foundation (dressed to promote their upcoming musical, Damn Yankees, check their website and buy your tickets at: against the straw boaters of the Dover Garden Club (Bats Wheeler, Carol Hollingsworth and Lynn Petrasch) and the wildly creative soap bubble headdresses of the Clean Bees, a library team sponsored by ScrubaDub (returning veterans Karen McKoy and Ellie Herd, joined by soprano librarian Roberta Anderson). The wildest hats won the round, and the Clean Bees moved into the Championship Round--once again, the team who never used their Mulligan.

Now that you are acquainted with the players, it will come as no surprise to you that the Championship Round (no Mulligans!) blew through the standard list and went right out into the Killer Killer Bee words. These players (the B-H Stingers, the BEE List Celebrities, the Spellunkers and the Clean Bees) had no trouble with olax, haruspication or weissnichtwo. I thought for sure we'd nail somebody on phthisic, but no--everyone spelled it correctly. YIKES. We went through dysrhythmia (the winning word in 2006), vicissitude (I can never spell that, either), picklehaube (the pointy helmet German soldiers wore) and diphthong before the Spellunkers won the Bee with the word gnorimoschema. It's a kind of moth--dull-looking but its larvae set galls in plants. Now you know.

We were 6 words away from the very end of the list. The remaining words were kwashiorkor, pfefferneuss, oneiromancy, tuilyie, pteroclididae and... beestings. I firmly believe that any one of those spellers could have won. It was just amazing to watch them. Look for the replays on Channel 8. These people are incredible, and chances are you know at least some of them.

EVERYONE WHO PLAYED IS A WINNER. The Bee is a huge fundraiser for the Library, and everyone who played helped contribute to the bottom line. I can't wait to find out how the Bee Tree and Bee Cafe went. Onychophagia aside, I had a blast. I hope you did, too.

Paul Keleher kindly photographed the evening for us, and has graciously given us his link to the Bee photos: See for yourself.

Can you spell pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis?

Just messing with you ;-D
It's not going to be used tonight.
Good luck!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

King, Bee

Bee Chair Marlayne Brace, who has her hands full keeping track of all the loose ends I generate, gently pointed out to me that the DTL Bee has more than one King. We are really fortunate to have the commentating skills of George "King" Doherty (yes, King really is his nickname!) as our Announcer and Master of Ceremonies.

George grew up in Dedham and has lived in Dover for 11 years. His stamina as our MC must come from his athletic training: he skis, runs marathons, golfs, enjoys tennis and is a triathlete. His sense of civic spirit, which is so evident in the work he does for the Friends of the Library, also finds an outlet in coaching, fundraising for Dana-Farber, and participation in the Caryl Managment Advisory Committee. George is a principal at Corcoran & Havlin Insurance Group of Wellesley and Medfield (

Many thanks to you, King, for dedicating your time and energy to the Library Bee. Your warmth and quick wit help the evening shine!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

last-minute prep

The Bee Team met today to prepare lagniappes: we wrapped water bottles donated by Save-A-Lot in re-usable bags from Bridgewater Credit Union, tied them with a yellow ribbon, and clipped programs and name-tags to them. Contestants will pick these packages up when they enter the Great Hall on Thursday evening. We also prepped some hilarious gifties for the "superlatives" winners: we'll give out prizes for Best Name, Best Dressed and Best Team Spirit, plus a special award for one of our long-standing supporters. Our appreciation for these winners knows no bounds, and neither does our sense of the absurd...BEE warned!

We have some last-minute prep to do to acknowledge donors, and then there's setup and food and tech on Thursday afternoon.

Bring your thinking caps, your wallets, and your sense of humor. It's going to be a really good night.

Something to write home about

I stopped in at Taylor's Stationery in Needham today; they have Bee stationery, which I buy myself to use for the "unofficial" thank you notes that I often want to write after the Bee.

Not only did I get a special on Crane's Bee stationery: buy one, get one 50% off--Taylor's also very generously donated a $25 gift card to the Bee Tree!

The Crane's special applies to most of Taylor's stationery stock, and I don't know how long it will be in place. But if I were you, I'd buy the gift card off the Tree on Thursday night, and head on over! Write on!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Boston Spelling Bee: a winning scenario

Congratulations to Brighton 5th grader J. Rexon Apurado, who won the second Boston city-wide Spelling Bee. Check the link above to see the final moments--the winning word was scenario--and wish this talented young man well as he moves on to the national Bee in May.

as noted in today's Boston Globe; clip from

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bee Support: it's IN THE BAG

In an effort to focus the community's attention on getting back to basics with Library support, the Bee Committee decided to give out reusable goody bags to our players. We approached our neighbors at Bridgewater Credit Union (right next to Dover Market, across from Dover Automotive), and they were very receptive to partnering with us to create a Bee Bag.
At our Dress Rehearsal today in the Town House, BCU Branch Manager Frank Nunes and BCU Marketing Coordinator Marsea Whooten stopped by to deliver these adorable BCU Bee Bags, which they had made for us. All of our contestants will receive a BCU Bee Bag, which can be used and reused--great for groceries AND library materials. (I keep bags like this in the back of my car for unforseen stops at the market.)
In the photo you see Frank and Marsea handing the bag over to Lorie Linnell, President of the Library Friends. In these times of increasing need and decreasing funding, you should thank all three of these folks for working together to support your Library.

Many thanks to BCU (Frank, Marsea and also Josh Berglund of the Dover branch) for their interest in and support of the Library.
Photos by Rick Tarara of DCTV Channel 8.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Color my world...YUM

Library fans and restauranteurs Rod and Catherine Walkey have donated a $100 gift card to their Needham Heights restaurant, Blue on Highland.

Click here for reviews, and then follow the links to the menus for cocktails, wine, meals, desserts and brunch. Bring your cash and checkbook to the Bee, because this is another real shopping value.

This gift card will make someone very happy, and you can use it all sorts of ways: a Mothers' or Fathers' Day brunch, entertaining out-of-town Graduation guests, a Friends' Night Out (remember, if you invite your friends out, you don't have to clean your own house) the card marked "BLUE". You will think of a way to use it.

And be sure to thank the good people at Blue on Highland for their generous support of the Dover Town Library!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Here, thanks to Friends WordSmith Amelia Slawsby, is our official press release for the local news. Hope to see you on the 26th!

Spring is just around the corner and as the flowers start to emerge, so do the bees. In Dover, this means a special kind of bee – a Spelling Bee.The 4th Annual Dover Library Spelling Bee will be held on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. at the Dover Town House. A friendly contest for adults who compete in teams of three, the Spelling Bee has become one of the town’s must-attend Spring events for all ages. It is free and all are invited to attend.

In addition to the Bee itself, which will be in the Main Hall, upstairs will also house the popular Bee Tree, where mystery items are bought based on a word clue. This year, the Friends of the Library has secured numerous high-end donations to the Bee Tree.

Donated items include:·

Tickets or passes for: the Big Apple Circus, Davis Farmland and Mega Maze, Boston Duck Tours, the New England Aquarium, the Pawtucket Red Sox, Santa’s Village, Six Flags New England, Story Land, the Wheelock Family Theater and Zoo New England.·
Spa services from: Elizabeth Grady (Needham), Nicholas Christie, Salon Mario Russo and Sculpture Hair Studio.·
Gift cards and/or products from: Bed Bath & Beyond, Boston Red Sox, Costco, The Cottage Restaurant, Dover Market, Friendly’s (Needham), Holly Cleaners, Lord’s Department Store, Magic Beans, Portrait Simple, Roche Bros., Trader Joe’s (Needham) and Whole Foods (Newton).· And more!
Monetary donations or goods were also graciously donated by: Dover Automotive, Blue Moon Bagel Café, Bridgewater Credit Union, Dover Country Properties, Dover Eyes, Dover Mothers’ Association, Lovell’s Flowers & Nursery, Save-A-Lot, ScrubaDub Auto Wash and Village Pizza.

Also returning this year is the Bee Café, where snacks will be sold. While it will be located downstairs, no one will miss any of the action, thanks to Dover Cable’s live broadcast, which will be on live feed in café and snack area.The Bee Tree and Bee Café are cash and check only so Bee prepared!

Don’t be stung with regret for missing out on all the fun - come to the Dover Town House to cheer on neighbors, enjoy a night out with friends and support the town library.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Man Who Would BEE King?

If we stop to consider it, most of us think of Bees (and libraries) as being largely feminine enterprises. The stereotypical Librarian is a woman who wears cat eyeglasses on a long chain and styles her hair in a tight bun. And, let's face it--hardly anybody gets excited about studying drones, and their (ironic cough) significant contributions to life in a hive.

Well, let me put some of those stereotypes to rest right here and now. One of the Library's (and the Bee's) most generous supporters is none other than Doug Wolfe, d/b/a Dover Automotive, right over on Whiting Road across from the Dover Market. If you have kids in the local sports programs, you have undoubtedly seen (or even laundered) shirts bearing the Dover Automotive name. If you look closely at the donor plaque in the Library foyer, you'll also notice that he's a bona fide Library supporter as well.

Dover Automotive has been an underwriter of the Bee since its inception, when Doug sponsored a team of high school kids who went all the way to the championship round. We should, as a community, recognize and thank him for his support. And we should edit out our preconceived notions regarding who is and isn't a valuable member of the Library community, not to mention a key player in the Dover hive.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Something for Everyone?

This morning I ran up to the Dover Market--I'm fixing dinner for a friend, and wanted to find just the right appetizer. After a couple of minutes scanning the well-curated cheese selection, I wound up with Brie, and then cruised down the next aisles for some puff pastry and apricot jam--I'll make a brie en croute.

Like the Library, the Dover Market is a great local institution. Grocer extraordinaire Dave Felleman has his finger on the purchasing pulse of the community. Whether you are ordering lunch to go, running in for a jug of milk and a package of diapers, or searching for Just The Right ingredients for a memorable occasion, the Dover Market probably has exactly what you are looking for.

The Dover Market has been supporting the Dover Town Library for as long as anyone can remember. This year's Bee is no exception: the Bee Tree will bear a gift card from the Market. I can't decide what to label it, though: Lunch? Necessities? Cosi fan Tutti? Whatever we call the Dover Market prize, it is sure to be a winner. Thanks, Dave!

Something's Fishy a good way: the Bee Tree will offer two passes to the New England Aquarium, valued at $40. If you've ever tried to go to the Aquarium with a small child, you will appreciate the flexibility and savings afforded by a pass. Even the crankiest toddlers become tranquil at the sight of fish serenely swimming around the enormous NE Aquarium tank, and the additional exhibits and shows make sure there is something to please just about everyone.

What a great antidote to the late-winter blahs. Look for a nametag like "Fishy" or "Tank" to clue you in to this prize.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Send in the Clowns

The Bee Tree will offer 4 tickets to the Big Apple Circus. The Big Apple is a one-ring circus, which gives viewers two advantages over the Ringling Bros. of my childhood: first, and obviously, in a one-ring circus you always know you are watching the best possible action; and second, your chances of having excellent seats are much improved.

If you haven't seen the Big Apple Circus, you should. Here is their web link: Look for CLOWNS on the Bee Tree, and you may be the lucky buyer!

Special thanks to Judy Schulz and Lorie Linnell for securing this donation.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Red Sox Nation in 02030

The Friends of the Library have managed to wrangle some terrific baseball-related gifts for the Bee. We have not 4 but 8 tickets to the Pawtucket Red Sox--that's enough for a birthday party, should you and your favorite young sports fan be so inclined. Look for words like "agricultural" or "feeder" to identify these Bee Treats--you will have to guess when you pick your words off the Bee Tree.

We have also been given a signed photograph of Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez. I'm thinking we should put the label "J Lo" on this Bee you think that's too sneaky? Perhaps we should run it through the anagram server: that would give us "Zero Jive Pal" or "Pro Zeal Jive". Stay tuned....

Life after Bee?

Check out the crossword puzzle tournament:

Anyone who participates in our Bee should prove a real contender in this competition!
Thanks to Wesleyan Magazine for the news byte.

Smile, and say..."Bees"?

After you enjoy your facial from Elizabeth Grady, or your haircut, blow dry and manicure from Mario Russo, or your massage from Nicholas Christie, you will want a record of how fabulous you look. Try to find the gift certificate for Natick's Portrait Simple on the Bee Tree. This certificate, valued at $135, will give you a free session and a 6-sheet photo package. Of course, you can always order extras. Is it too early to plan your Holiday cards?

Please, whether you win the portrait package from the Bee or visit the photographer independently, remember to thank them for their generosity to your library. They're giving us good looks and good books.

Pore over the list of Bee Treats

...and do something wonderful for your own pores: Elizabeth Grady of Needham has donated a Deep Pore Facial to the Bee. The gift certificate is valued at $70...all I have to do is think up a word...maybe "Pore"!
This is a great Mother's Day gift item, if you can get it from the Bee Tree on the 26th.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WORD: Brainy Revolt

I just added an anagram-maker to the right-hand side of the blog. This one is interesting because you can select a "core" word, and it will generate anagrams using that word.

Can you guess the originating phrase for the anagram in this title? It's DOVER TOWN LIBRARY, of course! Brainy revolt word, indeed!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Replay of Bee Play

Dover Cable is showing prior Bees on Channel 8. First one is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, at 8 p.m., followed by Wednesday March 4th at 9 p.m. Here is a link to their schedule:

Channel 8 has been a terrific partner to the Bee since its inception. They do a beautiful job taping and editing and broadcasting (and, clearly, REbroadcasting) our event. Everyone looks good on Channel 8! Next time you talk to any of their group, please remember to tell them how much you enjoy watching the Bee on TV!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Bee Word gifts

Our Library is fortunate to have so many admirers and supporters, both in Dover and in the slightly wider world. The Bee sale will sport some new and valuable offerings, including an autographed poster of Javier Lopez from the Red Sox, tickets to the Wheelock Family Theatre's production of Charlotte's Web, and passes to Storyland, Davis's Farmland and Santa's Village. Whether you patronize these businesses on your own or as the lucky winner of one of these Bee prizes, do please remember to thank these businesses for supporting your Library. Their generosity will translate into tangible benefits for our Library and community.

Friday, February 20, 2009

For another kind of Bee: the 100 Funniest Words in English

I have long suspected that Google is mining my subconscious for cheap laughs and/or profit. This morning I logged into my gmailbox and noticed that the banner over it advertised the 100 Funniest Words in English. Of course I had to check this out, and clicking through brought me who knows how many cookies on the hard drive AND a link to the alphaDictionary. Here is the link to an advertisement for the book, written by Robert Beard (aka Dr. Goodword):

You will be pleased to see that Dover Bee spellers should be familiar with a good many of these words: mugwump, mumpsimus, furbelow and kerfuffle are all Bee words from past or present. You might also recognize vomitory from vomitorium, and pettifogger from pettifoggery, as well as logorrhea. This year we also feature callipygian and tatterdemalion. The two I wish I had seen earlier are formication and allegator: what candidates for the Shirley, you jest category!

Well, there's always next year, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unwind after the Bee

We are delighted to offer a donated gift certificate for a massage Nicholas Christie's Day Spa in Medfield. Here is the link: Take a look at all the great services they offer! What a wonderful way to unwind after the Bee. The Nicholas Christie website tells us this about their massage services:

The benefits of massage therapy are numerous. Since ancient times the power of touch has helped alleviate pain from aching body parts, encouraged muscle recovery from fatigue, helped injured muscles heal and promote relaxation.
When you receive a massage, your circulation is improved, and metabolic waste is removed from your muscles more efficiently. Your flexibility will increase, and many people report other important benefits such as better sleep, clearer thinking, and increased feelings of well-being.

Now, don't you want to go try that? Actually, if the part about clearer thinking is true, you might want to go get a massage BEFORE the Bee!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the Eyes have it

It is widely-known that there is not a big commercial base here in Dover. Less-known, however, is the enthusiasm with which Dover businesses support this community.

One of our long-standing local businesses is Dover Eyes. Linda Wirth has been a generous supporter of the community in a variety of ways (ask her about the fall triathlon!), and her husband Len Schnabel donates his time and talent to the Dover Foundation. Dover Eyes has fielded a team at the Bee in the past, and it was in fact a member of their team who proposed the excellent idea of offering a Mulligan to players. This year, they couldn't play in the Bee but sent a donation instead. We are grateful for their support and are sorry to miss them on stage!

If you visit Dover Eyes, please remember to thank Linda for her generosity to the Bee and to our Library.

channel your inner e.e.cummings for the bee

Sue Sheridan has pointed out that a few of the words in the published word list begin with capitals: for example, "Pajamas" and "Sesquipedal". Should Bee contestants study these capitalizations as part of the word spellings?

Fear not! The capitals in the word list were small failures in my ongoing battle with Microsoft Word (which thinks that any word at the beginning of a line or paragraph ought to be capitalized, so I had to go back in by hand and put them into lower-case)--some days I can't get Word to speak English, some days it won't listen to my capitalization rules.... It is not easy, doing these words for you Bee Spellers. I won't even go into how many of the more difficult words trip up SpellCheck....

Anyway, software gripes aside, know this: NOBODY WILL BE PENALIZED AT THE BEE FOR SPELLING WITHOUT PROPER CAPITALIZATION. Trust me, your handwriting is already hard enough for the judges to read. Plus, this is a spelling bee, not a grammar bee! Just spell the word correctly; that will suffice.

Wishing you a productive and enjoyable week with the words,

Friday, February 13, 2009

There's another Dover Bee!

Lest we become complacent thinking we are the only game in town, check out the Bee in West Dover, Vermont:

Looks like the people up there dress creatively for their Bee, too! And I imagine that owning that Bee confers some pretty impressive bragging rights as well. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Words are at the Library

...for spellers whose teams are paid in full.

A special thank-you to FedEx Office, formerly Kinko's, in Needham. These folks never look idle, but they're never too busy to help you, either. They did a flawless job of printing and assembling and stapling the word files from an e-mail--they made it so easy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The Bee has received a very generous donation from the highly-acclaimed Mario Russo Salons. Whoever purchases the lucky Bee Tree word will receive a gift card for one cut & blow dry and a spa manicure. Check out their website at They have locations in Boston and in Stowe.

Somebody you know (maybe you!) would love this gift. Bring your checkbook to the Bee Tree on March 26th and watch this blog for clues to the words associated with our terrific list of donations. And when you visit Mario Russo, please remember to thank them for their generosity to your favorite Library.

About the words:

The words are at the printer's. Here are some highlights of the list, and a summary of how we put the word list together:

It is an ongoing and humbling challenge to compile a list of words that will prove entertaining, thought-provoking and pleasantly difficult for the variety of teams participating in the Bee, and stimulating and accessible for the Bee’s wider audience. People enter the Bee for diverse reasons: some are drawn to the challenge of the word list, some—like elected officials, and members of our town boards--play to support the Library, some—like neighborhood teams or school-related teams--play to highlight their team’s connection to the Dover community and its Library. All of these reasons are terrific, but they do suggest different approaches to the words we choose for the competition. We have to accommodate the diversity of our players in a way that respects their reasons for playing. In an attempt to achieve this goal, we do the following:

1) We give players the words in advance
2) We break the words down into categories, so that spellers can prepare using the strengths of their individual members
3) We allow Mulligans—everybody needs the occasional Mulligan!

When we first began the Bee, it was possible to buy prepared word lists from the Scripps Company—they are the folks who sponsor the National Spelling Bee. Over the years, Scripps has changed its focus to partner with local sponsors, and no longer sells copies of their Paideia (or word list): their approach is no longer a “fit” with our fundraiser. For the past 3 years, we have prepared our own list. We cull the words from a variety of sources, including prior years’ lists, word websites and e-mail lists, and the occasional suggestion from those around us (my kids especially have been sources of inspiration).

In organizing the words into categories this year, the phrase “Back to Basics” has been foremost in my mind. We’re at a point in our collective economic life where most of us are being forced to reconsider our priorities, and focus on what is really important to us. I found myself reaching back into the worlds of tradition, myth and legend for the categories of “Noah’s Ark” (words about animals, travel, weather and geography), “Pandora’s Box” (illnesses and misery, physical and social; with a sprinkling of hope and beauty), and “Babble-On” (words about language, words about building, words concerning the cultural and spiritual worlds). The stories that these categories refer to are part of the fabric of our common culture, and their stories, after millennia, remain relevant and compelling. Similarly, the Spellers’ and Sponsors’ support of the Library affirms the idea of Back to Basics: these folks have chosen to support a basic, local institution—one which is understood to be essential by its loyal patrons but which risks dismissal as expendable in an economy that cries out for widespread cutbacks and layoffs.

The category “It’s Alimentary, my dear Watson” sprang from the amazement I feel when I read food and medicine ingredient labels. It’s astonishing to see what prepared food contains, and disturbing to think how little of it bears resemblance to the product it is supposed to be. The “Alimentary” category is just another way of looking back to basics.

“Shirley, you jest!” is a small category of tricky and fun words: the Mondegreens, the puns, homonyms, the words that look like they ought to mean something other than what they mean. After a year of thinking about this word list, some of the funny bits stand out in my mind. I hope you will enjoy them.

Thank you for supporting the Library, and for playing in the Bee. All of us on the Bee Committee wish you a wonderful time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Word of the Day is: BEE

bee, noun
the first definition in the dictionary is the insect, then we get to the good stuff:

help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task; a social gathering of people to accomplish cooperatively a specific purpose (possibly related to Middle English bene boon, prayer)

And there you have it, from Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Our Bee will gather friends and neighbors to accomplish the important task of helping to fund our town library. Bee there on March 26th to help us along.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Bee Tree is already bearing fruit

Those of you who came to the Bee last year will remember the popular Bee Tree. Designed by Jane Bleakley and run by Friends President Lorie Linnell, the tree featured gifts and gift cards donated to the Friends, disguised as "Bee Words". Shoppers purchased words from the tree, which were connected in some way to the gift they concealed (for example, a gift card for Not Your Average Joe's was sold under the name "superlative" or "exceptional" or something like that). The gifts were donated, so the Library netted 100% of the proceeds.

This year, we have even more interesting offerings for the Tree. Super-Friend of the Library Judy Schulz has already procured ticket donations from the Pawtucket Red Sox and Boston's Duck Tours. I think the word for the Duck Tours ought to be "amphibious". Any suggestions for the PawSox?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Teams are signing up!

The stalwart Coldwell Banker team returns again to mix and mingle with the crowd, and to support the Library. We are happy to be welcoming returning spellers Jean McDonald and Laura Talmud, as well as new speller Betsy Breziner, and wish them an enjoyable evening at the Bee. Their ongoing support of the Library is sincerely appreciated.

The only team not to use its Mulligan last year, the Library team, is back: veterans Karen McKoy and Ellie Herd will be joined by Roberta Anderson. Two years ago, the Library team wowed us all by wearing ball gowns and tiaras to the Bee. They have finished in the finals every year they've played. Will this be their lucky year? (I should go on record here that their affiliation with the Library gives them no advantage--the words used in the Bee are kept secret until the judges receive their packets when the Bee begins. It must be the tiaras, then...stylish "thinking caps"?)

You can sign up today at the Library. Get your friends, your neighborhood, your board, your team, and join in the fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bee 411

Date: Thursday, March 26th
Time: 7--9 p.m. (we ask the spellers to come at 6.30 for registration)
Location: Great Hall, Dover Town House

Team (of 3 spellers) Fee: $300 (unchanged from prior years!)
Mulligans (optional, one per team, regular rounds only): $100

Entry forms are available at the Library. (Did you know we GIVE you the words in ADVANCE?) Words will be available to paid-up teams by 12 February. Make checks payable to Friends of the Dover Library and write "Bee" in the memo.

The popular "Bee Tree" will be back. "Buy" a word and win the prize or gift card associated with it. Refreshments will be available for purchase in the Bee Café in the Lower Level of the Town House. The goods available for purchase will have been donated, so 100% of the proceeds go directly to the Friends of the Dover Library to support the Dover Town Library. Where else can you feel so good about having a cupcake?

Live broadcast on Dover Cable (channel 8), with a TV in Café (so you can keep an eye on the action while having a snack).

Grand Prize: Enormous Bragging Rights, plus the name of the winning teams and winning spellers engraved on the plaque in the Library's Lower Level. Dover has been ranked one of the best-educated towns in Massachusetts, and the Library circulation suggests that we are a town of readers, so those Bragging Rights really are Enormous.

I'll be highlighting words and categories, and blogging about the teams and our donors...just as soon as I get a grip on the word list. Bookmark the page, or subscribe to the feed, so you don't miss anything!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

¡ay, caramba!

Instead of posting updates in here, I have been buried in the task of fine-tuning the word list for the Bee. In order to avoid errors, I painstakingly check each word, and manually override my word-processor's spell-check function for the more obscure words. Then I get the definition, so that the words can be classified into categories for study (and of course we need the definitions during the Bee itself). It's a tedious job, but it's important to do it correctly.

The other day when I opened the word file, I found that every single word was underlined as misspelled--even the ones I had already checked. It was a heart-stopping moment: it looked like the entire list was junk.

After a little noodling around, I discovered that some other computer user in my house had switched the default language in the word processor to Spanish. Apparently someone had been trying to translate song lyrics from Spanish to English, and modified the word processor to check the product. Better living through technology, and all that.

Once the word list is finished, I will have fun plotting my revenge on the Songster. Expect the words to be available to paid-up teams by the 12th of February.

¡Hasta luego!