From my window where I should be writing, I’m watching a sailor.

He’s hoisted his crisp white main sail, rimmed with a smaller triangle of ink; ten inches of black noir, like a contemporary dinner plate. It’s late, around eight; odd thing, being on the lake at full mast after dark.  He’s losing wind fast during this static air night. I know he should consider bringing both sails down before dark, yet for some reason he resists and both are billowed full.

Just another boat, but this sailor caught my fancy.   While most of the windmen around here boast main sails bearing flashes of gaudy color, angular rainbow stripes and the like — this one is remarkable.

The attire? Simple and clean. A garment Jackie Onassis Kennedy (or her sister) would have worn: not too much color, a subtle statement in a Walmart world.

An elegant dress for a windy day.

It reminds me of writing, how as authors we are tempted to pack our manuscripts with ancillary words, and how sometimes, we need an oddly placed reminder that one well-chosen word is better than many bright sails.

photo by TIME

A war, not a wii. A demonstrator accidentally lights himself with his Molotov cocktail during a skirmish this week in Bangkok.

Busy Son book time tonight. He scanned his book shelf and asked, “Mom, what is dubayou, dubayou, eye, eye mean?”  Me, the Chief Finder of Things to do in a video-game-free household, continued folding socks, misinterpreting the question as another nudge in the gaming arena of Things Wanted Really Bad.   

“That’s a wee, honey.  A computer game by Apple,” I answered. “You know, like an XBOX.” He pulled out the old National Geographic off the shelf, Sparkly Hubby saves them, and showed me the mushroom cloud.  He pointed to the cover.  “No, like this,” he said.   

World War Two, I saw with a jolt.  Oh. Just a war, not a Wii. 

I’d dumbed my son down. A random question; a busy mother’s 2010 answer, age appropriate, so I thought, for a tiny dude.     

That said, I’m fortunate — no spoiled — that the first that comes to mind is a video game, not a war.  Hopefully our not-so-tiny dudes never will know what it feels like to beach on Normandy, rifle in hand, or swelter in a quiet tunnel in Vietnam.   

I’m following the political strife in beloved Bangkok, not prime time for American news, but rich fodder for the BBC.  The subway station we had trouble exchanging ride tokens?  Gone. The humongous shopping mall at the end of the MRT line? Demolished.  Burned to smithereens by the rebel supported Red Shirt Army.  Seriously, how close can close be?  

How much do we take for granted our freedom?     

On this Memorial Day, a sincere Thank you to all who have served.

Dropped off Sparkly Hubby at work due to a minor car malfunction. On the XM? His favorite news program: CNBC. Keep in mind, I’m a Fox news girl, but it was on, so I listened.  An announcer commented on a story, and used the term “that really sucked.”  It piqued me.  Then he used it again, same context, next sentence.  That did me in.

Now, I’m supposed to be writing so I’ll make this quick (I’m good at that). I’d like to know: “when did the word “sucked” become mainstream?” 

I’ve heard it often– news commentators, radio personalities, everyday conversation — even my favorite librarian at the downtown branch. Kelly Clarkson sings that her life would suck without me.  Well, that’s getting a little too personal, and to be perfectly honest, I really don’t know Kelly that well.  Still, does all this mean saying something sucks is okay?  Is this the bottom of the word barrel?  Perhaps Webster or Oxford and the rest of the word dandies gave suck a greenlight.  I must have missed the announcement.

I looked up sucked on thesaurus.com, one of my all time favorite websites.  Though dictionary.doc acknowledges the use of sucked as slang, my friend the thesaurus ignores it, as if it will go away real soon.

When did it become *okay* to use  slang, wavering around the derogatory area of colloquialisms? Is to too darn hard to say, “it’s terrible that you dropped your iPhone into the Lake,” or “the fact that I wrecked your new Prius makes me feel terrible.”  Or, “the sushi could have been fresher.”  Do we really have to tell our mother or father, co-worker or lover, that our day, hamburger, drive to O’Hare really, breath, sucked?

Well, maybe everything except the drive to O’hare, which really does suck . . .