Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Rocky Mountain Highs…and Lows August 24, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:15 pm

I wrote this as I sat in Ruidoso, NM gazing out the window watching a majestic rain storm pound our outside deck and clouds slowly blanket the mountain peaks normally in full view. This charming small town in southcentral New Mexico is special and it’s long been special to my husband and me.  It’s where we met. Long story short: I was working at a TV station in El Paso and he had moved from Boston to Houston. One of the sports anchors I worked with went to college with my hubby in New York so he came to El Paso to go skiing with him. A bunch of us from the station tagged along and the rest is history. I broke up with my college boyfriend of four years who was back in Oklahoma in law school, chose the boy from Buffalo, and all these years later we venture back to Ruidoso as often as possible. We love that it’s a true escape and still somewhat authentic.




In the summer, it’s a somewhat secret hamlet of warm weather pursuits such as golf and the famous Ruidoso Downs race track. There are also plenty of casinos, outdoor activities, family fun, and a handful of excellent restaurants. Peek out the window of the house we stay in or drive along the beautiful route into town and we see deer, turkeys, and a giant and massive antlered Elk we’ve named “Bucky.” At night we hear coyotes howling and our house has a sign alerting us that we’re in bear country and all that that means. In a word, it’s all beautiful and blessed.




Ruidoso’s main street is home to many darling and unique yet for the most part, affordable, shops and restaurants. In the winter, the Rocky Mountains’ most southern ski resort, Ski Apache, opens up to downhillers and shredders alike. Still, with all its amenities and beauty, Ruidoso remains somewhat under the Aspen and Santa Fe radar. As a native Santa Fean, I know exactly what that means. As a long-time Texas resident though, I also know Texans love Ruidoso as it’s a fairly easy drive from most of the Lone Star State. In fact, the vibe here is much more western then southwestern.



Montana by Ben Adkison

As I sit here watching the rain outside and golf on TV, I’m also reading an interesting magazine article in “Town & Country” that confirms our decision to head west and not northwest. The article details how Montana has become anything but a quiet get away. Go to Montana. Post on Instagram and Facebeook. And go on to the next destination. So much for chilling, practicing some soul care, and just taking in God’s landscape. But, good to know as we actually considered going to Big Sky Country this summer but it all became stressful and complicated to plan. Instead, we decided it’s much easier to pack the car, the dogs, and drive to our quiet little slice of heaven.



As with anywhere it seems, America’s Wild Wild West is sadly morphing into anything but. The magazine article, written by Antonia Hitchens, details the timeless dream of home on the range has been inundated by travelers and land buyers. In fact, 1.2 million acres were sold in Montana last year and Bozeman is now unaffectionately called “Boz Angeles.” Rumor has it that a California developer bought almost all of the remaining land around one town and Rupert Murdoch’s Montana ranch had a selling price of $200 million last year. With the median asking price for a single-family house in Bozeman now topping $905,000, many Big Sky realtors are telling potential buyers to buy any house or land they see as there may be little left very soon. It seems a ranch out west is the new house in the Hamptons. Oy.


Blame Keven Costner. His hit TV show “Yellowstone” has created a deluge of interest in places to escape to and feel the fantasy of the American West. Blame also the work from home craze. Post-pandemic workers realize they can indeed work from anywhere. Why not Montana? The owner of Ranch at Rock Creek…what many consider the most expensive ranch in America… put it simply to “Town & Country” when he said, “The match was lit and Montana is on fire now.” It’s happened in Colorado; Rockefeller’s Jackson Hole; and Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho and now in addition to Montana, Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho are cold weather hot spots. But it’s different now.



Gone are the days of packing the fam and renting or buying a rustic little place in the mountains or valleys. Small town charm has big bonuses but tell that to Aspen. Today’s buyers want exclusive and private enclaves that those in lines in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park can only dream about. For example, the uber-exclusive Yellowstone Club in Big Sky not only boasts expansive and expensive homes and a golf course, but also the world’s only private ski resort. “Five-star living dressed up as frontiersmanship” as it is now described. Not exactly frontier authenticity but fabulous I’m sure.


So massive are many of the new developments that the gates to them rival those of entrances to nearby national parks. Elk antlers are all the rage and real Montanans reportedly consider Big Sky the Monaco of Montana. Who knew Montana and Monaco would ever be uttered in the same sentence.


So what is it? What is making these “billionaires in Wrangler jeans” as Hitchens describes them, long for a western paradise but one stocked with Whole Foods and Starbucks? Many are just tired of their day-to-day struggles and stresses and to get away far away is something they yearn for and can afford. Oddly enough though, their quest to be alone is proving more and more crowded and the impact all the building and development is having on the once pristine environment goes against many a climate change advocate’s chirping.


It’s all very similar to “Yellowstone’s” ranchers versus developers plot lines and as realtor Bill McDavid says, “People fall in love with authenticity but then wonder where they’ll get organic hummus.”


I’m not a fan of hummus and truth be told, neither my husband nor I are big outdoors people. We love walking along the streets near the house we stay in in tranquil Ruidoso, but hiking and the like are not in our wheel zone.  And, after reading Hitchens’ article, I’m certain we’ll continue to choose New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest over all the hype up north and out west. We’re just hoping it stays a secret. Shhhhh!







The Hottest Court in America August 13, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:00 am

Photo courtesy Doug Kapustin

As I wrote about in my previous post, the popular word game Wordle got its start during the recent pandemic. Something I dabbled in during the lockdowns and shut downs was Pickelball. I’d heard about it and since I love tennis, I thought I’d give it a shot. Just like Wordle, it’s taken the country (and some of the world) by storm.


When I first played Pickelball back in 2020, my neighborhood club had tennis courts but not official Pickelball courts so our pro improvised like many do and converted a couple of the tennis courts into Pickelball courts. It was so much fun and really easy to learn. Think of it as a brilliant combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis aka ping pong. It’s a blast and it’s the fastest growing sport in America! It’s also a game for all ages and the whole family so it’s only fitting it was invented by a “mature” dad and his family.



The game was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington state by three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum – whose kids were complaining they were bored and had nothing to do. Like all good dads, they put their heads together and said “challenge accepted!”


Returning home after a game of golf, Pritchard and Bell hit a hole in one when they looked at the property’s old badminton court but couldn’t find any badminton equipment. So….they improvised and began playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. What fun they had and the next weekend McCallum joined them and soon the three created rules for their new game; rules that relied heavily on badminton.


Fast forward to 1990 and Pickelball was being played in all 50 states. By 2019 the newly formed USA Pickleball Association had nearly 40,000 members, representing a 1,000 percent growth since 2013. Maybe they should be in charge of our economy! Two years later membership reached the 50,000 milestone and the sport’s popularity continues to explode. So what is it? Why so popular?



For one, like I mentioned earlier, if you can walk and bend you can play Pickelball. It is fast paced, but you get the hang of it fairly quickly. That’s the other thing: it’s easy to learn. The spread of its popularity is also attributed to the fact that it’s thriving at community centers, school PE classes, YMCA facilities, and retirement communities; the latter of which you could call the major league of Pickleball. It’s the ideal sport for those aging into or in retirement age as much like golf, it can be played at any age. Just be careful.


With the rise in Pickelball popularity has come a rise in Pickelball injuries – especially among Baby Boomers. In fact, experts say the popular pastime is leading to a rash of injuries amongst the senior set. Overuse injuries like tendonitis, arthritis, muscle contusions, and sprains are common and issues like patella; and ankle, wrist, and elbow fractures that require surgery are not uncommon. This older yet ambitious demographic is more likely to have weak bones, putting them at a greater risk for fractures considering the sport’s notorious repetive quick starts and stops. Loving the camaraderie and activity it brings to their often secluded lives, retirees picking up the Pickleball paddle may start slow but many get the bug and begin playing several hours a day and several days a week. I know the feeling. A tennis player at heart, I took the sport up again in 2020 after many idle years and before you know it I was at a pain relief doctor complaining of lower back and hip pain. I thought I was active enough to become my beloved Chris Evert again, but my body said no way. Enter Pickeball…the perfect competitive yet friendly game.


Played either inside or outside, Pickelball brings people together and is always played in doubles, meaning you play with a partner and have less court to cover. It involves both a cardio health aspect and requires strategic and quick planning that keeps the brain engaged. Just be sure to stretch before playing and work on balance, stability, and cross-training. I’m thinking yoga and long walks.



Play is done on a court that’s the same size as a doubles badminton court and it’s striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts. Excitement is added with the non-volley zone in front of the net called the “kitchen.” Rule #1: stay out of the kitchen as volleys are not allowed!


Pickelball paddles are smaller than tennis racquets but bigger than ping-pong paddles, although their handle is short like their table tennis counterparts. The balls are unique in that they have holes throughout and come in fun colors; colors that must be a single color to meet International Federation of Pickell specifications.



Yes, there is an international governing board as many new clubs are forming worldwide. Many European and Asian countries are witnessing Pickelball mania and courts are popping up everywhere. Do I foresee a future Olympic sport?


And to answer the question of all questions, how did Pickelball gets its name? Well, not from the food product and not after Pritchard’s dog whose name was Pickle. Many theories presume that the dog was the game’s namesake but sweet Pickles was born in 1968, years after the sport was named and being played. So then, what’s the real story?


Although I love the idea of Pickelball being named after a dog, it really got its unique moniker from Pritchard’s wife Joan who was a loyal crew fan and thought the fact that Pickelball was a thrown together game made up of parts of other games, it was much like the just-for-fun “pickle boat” races that regattas often hold for non-starters in a separate competition. I know, not the greatest of tales, but that’s the truth.


Our neighborhood club recently constructed designated Pickelball courts and play has commenced. I recently returned to the court and gave it a shot but with our 100+ degree weather, it was just too dang hot for me; even in the evening. I plan to return to play as our temperatures subside and can’t wait to dink it over the net and win the match. See you there!






Word Up! August 11, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:55 pm

It’s not often that I jump on board anything trendy, but two things currently have my attention: Wordle and Pickelball. I’ve been working on blogging on both for a week or so and then I saw the Pickelball feature on “CBS Sunday Morning” (and thought…they stole my thought!) last week so I figured I better get a move on! First up…Wordle.



I was kinda late to the game but this wordsmith is obsessed with Wordle. I’d heard about it and then one day early this year a fellow golfer talked about it after a tournament and raised my curiosity. I looked into it but it seemed a bit confusing so I let it go. Then, my good friend got me hooked. Now, I look forward to doing it every day and share my results with her and another friend who I got hooked on it. I gotta say…I love it!


I also loved learning that it was developed by a software engineer who made it for his girlfriend as a pandemic distraction during lockdowns. I guess Wordle is one of very few silver linings to come out of it all!



Brooklyn-based John Wardle, the guy behind it all, is actually Welsh and originally created the game for him and his friend to play. It all went public in October 2021 and players started posting their results on social media. In January of this year, more than 300,000 people played the game, up from a mere 90 players in November 2021. By mid-January, more than 2 million people were playing it daily. This success didn’t go to Wardle’s head however. In fact, all the sudden attention left him uncomfortable so on January 31, his little game was purchased by The New York Times Company for an undisclosed low seven figures and the game was moved to the company’s website.



AP/Michael Dwyer

IYKYK, but if you don’t, here’s the gist. Every day a five-letter word is chosen and players try to guess it in six tries. You simply enter any letters that make up a legit word in the five squares and go from there. After every guess, the letters are marked either green, yellow, or gray. Green means that letter is in the word and is in the right position, yellow means it’s in the word but not where you put it, and gray means it’s not in the word at all. It’s amazing and fun that some days you get it in two or three tries and others you’re hoping your sixth guess is the right one. All players worldwide guess the same word and there’s only one word per day.


So how are the words chosen? They are randomly picked from a list of just over 2,300 English words; a list that was pared down from the approximate 13,000 five-letter words in the English language by Wardle’s wife. It’s important to note that even though Wardle is Welsh, he is a long-time New York resident and all Wordle words use America spelling. That stuff that makes up fabric or your digestive system healthy? It’s “fiber” not “fibre” on Wordle. This doesn’t sit well with some foreign players, but no worries, Wordle has been adapted into other languages and now there are at around 350 different variants in some 91 languages. As for offensive words? They’re out. You’ll never guess “lynch” or “sluts” as the daily word, along with a few others.


There are some fun knock-offs out there, including Tradle, in which users guess a country based on its exports, and Airportle that involves guessing airports IATA codes. There’s also Heardle where listeners guess songs and that was acquired by Spotify just last month.


If you’ve played it, you might notice that Wordle’s mechanics are nearly identical to Jotto, the popular “write it down” game of the 1950s as well as the TV game show Lingo. Its method of playing is also similar to the board game Mastermind.



And speaking of board games, The New York Times and Hasbro have partnered to create Wordle: The Party Game, a board game set for release this October…just in time for holiday giving! Lots of clones have also appeared including many that incorporate the “le” suffix to appear connected with the original, but imposters have been removed and The New York Times filed a trademark application to protect its intellectual property. (Remember trademark info in my previous color blog?!)


It all almost didn’t happen though. Wardle had been doing his puzzling for roughly five years when he lost interest in 2014 and promptly set his prototype aside. Then, the pandemic hit. That’s when he and his friend became obsessed with The New York Times’ Spelling Bee and daily crossword puzzle. Wardle had created two online social experiments called The Button and Place while working for Reddit and in January 2021 he published Wordle on the web. And yes, he named it that as a play on word of his surname. It’s perfect!


The rest, as they say, is history. Today even Wardle himself plays it and says he doesn’t know each day’s word so he’s guessing right along the rest of us. He’s adamant about keeping it to one puzzle per day as a way of keeping players wanting more and also as a way of only spending mere minutes on it each day. In short, he just wants it to be fun and what’s a five letter word for fun? Wordle!


In Living Color August 9, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:16 pm

College football is almost here and being a huge fan, I cannot wait. But, since I promised a follow up blog to my one yesterday on color, the game of football itself has to wait but color does play a big role in the sport so let’s kick off this blog with a fun football story.


As I discussed previously, color has a huge effect on us and the color pink is often thought of as passive and calming. That, sports fans, is exactly why the visitor’s locker room at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium is painted pink! LOL right? It’s the brainchild of former coach and psychology major Hayden Fry who ordered the locker room painted pink. Everything is pink. The lockers. The walls. The floors. The toilets. Everything! It’s actually an interesting idea that I love almost as much as I love the Hawkeye’s tradition of waving to children in the next door children’s hospital during every game.


I’ve also heard of prisons using the color pink to calm their populations and there’s a reason why airplane seats are often blue. The fact that airlines across the board incorporate various shades of blue in the cabins is no accident or coincidence. In fact, it’s not so much about comfort but also about psychology.



Airline execs have researched it and found that blue is associated with the positive qualities of trust, efficiency, serenity, coolness, reflection, and calm. In today’s world of airline struggles and flight cancellation madness, we all need a little bit of calm on board, right?





You’ll also find a lot of blue when you visit Santa Fe, specifically on doors, windows, and gates. Not only does the color go beautifully with the city’s signature tan and brownish adobe structures, it is believed to keep evil spirits from entering your home when painted on entrances to it. This custom most likely came from early Spanish settlers when they established the city but their Native American brothers also come into play. It is said that blue indicates one of the four sacred directions of local Pueblo life; the direction of the southwest. If you’re wondering, red signifies the southeast, yellow the northwest, and white the northeast. Whoever gets credit for it, I think it’s a beautiful tradition.



We’re not done with blue just yet. Many companies use blue in their logos, either front and center or in the background. Just look at your phone or tablet’s desktop icons. Facebook. Twitter. Explorer. Venmo. Blink. LinkedIn. GroupMe. The Weather Channel. PayPal. They’re all blue in some way or another.  Blue is considered a rich and subtly bold color and is often associated with freedom and openness and a University of Illinois study found that people who worked against blue backgrounds scored better on tests that required imagination and inventiveness. (If you’re looking for detailed work, the study found red backgrounds are your best. No wonder I like red so much!)



Another fun fact regarding blue has to do with something you might have on right now. Did you know the iconic jeans we all love and affectionately call “blue jeans” may be as American as apple pie but the material they were originally made of was a French fabric probably in the Middle Ages. Levi Strauss may have received a patent for reinformcing his trousers with rivets in 1873, bu the twill weave fabric often using indigo and white yarns that defined them was originally called “serge de Nimes” after the French city where it was woven. That long French name morphed into “denim” but the indigo yarns still attach to the cloth’s threads giving us those blue jeans we so love.



Color also plays a big role in the medicines we take. It comes as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies are aware of the association colors have and incorporate the data when developing products. We all know what the “little blue pill” is, as Viagra is famously known, but did you know blue is also best known for sedatives? Look in your medicine cabinet. Check to see if red and orange ones are stimulants, cheery yellow ones are antidepressants, soothing green ones are to reduce anxiety, and white ones suppress pain. Not only do these color choices ensure manufactures don’t mix them up during packaging, they also are thought to help patients recognize what they’re taking. And yes, the drug makers ferociously protect their designs but you may find that generic versions somewhat resemble the originals.




And our last “did you know” color tidbit? Purple posts and trees. Huh? Yep, many states allow landowners to paint trees and posts on their property purple. Why? To warn trespassers. Think of them as pretty “No Trespassing” signs. I actually pass one big one as I go about my daily life. Why purple? Well, for one, it shows up well outdoors and it’s one of the only colors that colorblind people can easily identify.




Interesting, right? So is the fact that the color of your office impacts your productivity. I realize many of us are working from home and not going into an office, but look around anyway. What color is your WFH area? You might want to know that a University of Texas study found that gray, beige, and white offices induce feelings of sadness and depression, especially in women, while restful greens and calming blues improve efficiency and focus. Yellow is the best choice for artists, writers, designers, and developers as it is believed to trigger innovation and creativity. Don’t think you have to go crazy with these colors though; you don’t necessarily need to paint an entire room yellow or blue, but think of ways to powerfully pop it in the room.



Lastly and when all else fails, stick to colors close together on the color wheel if you want a calm setting and colors that are far apart on the color wheel if you’re looking for drama. And, did you know Sir Isaac Newton invented the color wheel in 1666? Who knew the creator of the law of gravity and reportedly calculus was also a color connoisseur?


Well now you know more about color then you probably ever wanted to. I hope you liked some of these interesting and fun facts and that next time you see a blue window or purple post, you’ll know why. If nothing else, happy coloring!



Color Our World August 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:00 pm

Walking into Home Depot the other day I noticed a row of John Deere lawn mowers parked out front. I knew they were John Deere long before I read the name on them because of their distinct green and yellow paint. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought John Deere owns that green and yellow. Come to find out they don’t but it’s not for a lack of trying.


In fact, the farm equipment giant tried to trademark their signature green but was shot down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But…many other companies have been successful in “owning” a color. Surprised? So was I.


Then I learned something very interesting but not all that surprising. Those brown delivery trucks, blue jewelry boxes, and yellow sticky notes? Yep, UPS, Tiffany, and 3M have all trademarked their famous brown, blue, and yellow shades in. the idea all started back in the late 1950s when Owens-Corning sought to distinguish its fiberglass insulation from that of its competitors. Rather than go with the standard tan hue, Owens-Corning decided to make their insulation pink and went all in. They adopted the slogan “Think Pink” and used the Pink Panther as their mascot and in advertisements. It worked, and after a five year battle the company became the first in American history to successfully trademark a color in 1985. Since then many have tried and failed but others have succeeded.


Quick quiz: what’s the difference between trademark, patent, and copyright? For starters, copyrights are registered by the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress (D.C.’s most stunning building interior IMHO) while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants patents and registers trademarks. In short, a trademark can be a phrase, word, or design that identifies a company and its goods and services (e.g., Campbell’s soup labels) while a patent is a granted property right to the creator(s) of a new, unique, and useful invention, discovery, or process that allows one to bar others from making, using, or selling their invention. Copyrights are different in that they protect original works of authorship including songs, books, movies, articles, and much more.


Enough school though; let’s have some color fun.




Get Tested

I love taking little quizzes. Personality quizzes. Likes and dislikes quizzes. Travel quizzes. The gamut. I recently took one on color and it got me thinking on how much color affects our lives, our world, and even our moods.


Textile designer Lori Weitzner identified 10 palettes in her book Ode to Color and then teamed up with a psychologist to develop an 18-question quiz that shows you which palettes suit you best. The quiz, which is available on Weitzner’s website, asks you about things like movies, books, music, sentimentality, personality, risk-taking and other interesting touch points. Again, I loved it and my results showed the “Fragrant Woods” palette suits me best followed by “Earthly.” Hmmmm…let’s look into those and the others.


Maria Flanigan

Shades like those found in a pine grove…think greens and browns…make up Fragrant Woods, are described as the colors of homecomings and hues that are nurturing and personal. They are all about slowing down, wellness, being present, and sensoring experiences like using a paper calendar or nurturing a houseplant. OMG. That’s me! The Earthly palette consists of colors like clay, sienna, and terra-cotta.


When it comes to my home décor, these pretty much hit the spot. I’ve always said I prefer coloring with the spices: paprika, saffron, basil, and cinnamon. I also love a splash of salt and pepper/black and white and tend to stay away from florals, opting instead for stripes, plaids, and checks. I also like a homey, traditional, and personal feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love home décor and design, but oddly enough when it comes to our home, I care more about comfy and cozy than trendy and styled. But that’s just me. What about the rest of the world?


Come to find out phrases like “seeing red,” “feeling blue,” and “green with envy” have some scientific back-up. In fact, study after study has shown color and mood are intricately linked and many of us actually have personal relationships with particular colors. In fact, our brains respond very powerfully to colors and one interesting study in Switzerland gave us some literal “food for thought” when it revealed people who use red plates tend to eat less. The thought is red is often associated with words like “stop” and “danger,” so our minds may put on the eating brakes when we see that color. Excuse me while I go buy some red plates…


The color red also increases your heart rate and evokes powerful emotions like fear, anger, and passion. Think red flush in the cheeks, fire trucks, and even “red light” districts. It also exudes strength and leadership, as well as confidence, ambition, and an outgoing personality.



On the other hand, if you’re looking to chill out, opt for blue, which psychologically lowers blood pressure. Think blue skies and tranquil blue oceans and if you’re looking to convey a calming presence on a first date or interview, wear something blue as it is associated with trustworthiness, strength, and dependability.



Jean Stoffer Design

Green is considered earthy, understated, and balanced and is part of the color family chosen by Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Behr as Color of the Year for 2022. Rather than a bright emerald however, the paint experts went with more warm, muted tones like olive, sage, moss, and eucalyptus. On the other hand, global color authority Pantone went with Very Peri as its color of the year. The periwinkle blue lends itself to relaxing vibes and tranquil feels and boy are we all in desperate need of both this year!


“Mellow” yellow is anything but as most consider it joyful, fun, and bright. Orange is considered a combination of yellows sunniness and red’s depth. It evokes action and is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity. I personally don’t wear orange but I do wear purple now and then and come to find out the rich color is associated with royalty and luxury. It evokes and can even instill confidence and can make one appear more sophisticated if handled well.


Brown and gray both symbolize practicality and sensibility as well as a certain kind of down-to-earthiness and a more low-key personality.


Then there’s black. Think making you look slimmer and that famous little black dress. It can indeed be slimming and is associated with elegance and high class. Can you say limousines and black tie affairs?


Finally, white. Pure white. A symbol of purity and simplicity. You can do so much with it!


So there you have it; a roundup of all things color. But there’s more!  In my next blog I’ll share some fun facts and tidbits regarding color as well as how it can affect productivity. Stay tuned!