Friday, March 1, 2024


High-rise apartments and office buildings line most of the streets in our neighborhood. We are also close to two professional sports complexes, which means some days the streets are filled with cars and people. A couple of blocks away from our apartment is an empty block-long parking lot used by people attending events at the sporting venues. One day, we turned the corner and found that the entire parking lot was filled with circus tents. Cirque de Soleil had come to town and overnight, like magic, had erected tents all over the lot. We hadn't been to one of their performances in a long time, so we bought tickets, walked into the largest tent, and watched with awe the acrobatic performers. Behind us sat a family with an eight or nine-year-old boy who had never seen acrobats in person. We heard his rapturous "Oohs and Ahs" as his eyes followed the acrobats through the air. What a delight to hear him captivated by their magic.

I thought of that performance when Carol DuBosch, a calligraphy teacher, posted a challenge to create a pangram, a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet. I like challenges and I like whimsy, so I decided to try. First, I asked myself, is it even possible to design a sentence that uses each letter only once and still makes sense? Of course, after a few tries I discovered pangrams are more challenging than I anticipated. I remembered the grace of the acrobats who did amazing feats, but only after years of practice and perseverance. 

What makes a word work are the vowels. They have all kinds of uses, don't they? They are handy to finish words and to separate words into syllables. How do I find enough short words that don't rely on too many vowels?

I looked at examples from a list of pangrams, of which the most famous, "A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," still uses two "e's". I did find a pangram that is only 26 letters long: "Mr. Jock, TV Quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx." My favorite of the pangrams came from Carol DuBosch: "I vow that poetry, quilts, and ink can fix and jazz up a boring home."

My own attempts didn't succeed very well. (Not that I spent too much time on this activity.) I couldn't make a sentence with only 26 letters that made sense, which is common with pangrams (who bags lynx?). My sentence was too long with too many double letters: "Quickly wax over my dainty, lazy judges from the pub."

A little laughter for the day and puzzlement too.  Maybe this week I captured some of the whimsy and challenge we felt while watching acrobats in the air.

One last piece of whimsy. A good friend gave me these two paper ornaments called Triskele paper globes. They are beautiful and will be a welcome addition to hang near me. (Thank you, Janet)

If you would like to try to make one, check Hattifant's website. You will be surprised at how simple these are to make:

Cirque de Soleil performs in San Francisco till March 17:

Find Carol Dubosch's calligraphy:

Check out these fun facts about the English alphabet: 

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