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‘The question is’ applies in so many circumstances

July 18, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Sitting on my dining room table is a box of erasable ceramic accent labels - six mint green leaves a little larger than a business card.

They're name cards for when you entertain. They come with a dry-erase marker that has its own eraser, so you can change names party to party, or you can leave the same names on if you have the same guests over and over.

When I was first married, I tried using name cards at a dinner party. There were just six of us, though, and we knew each other's middle names, so using name cards for us seemed just a bit pretentious. It might have been different had these ceramic leaves been available that long ago.

They've even got little plaques that you can write notes on - like a miniature bulletin board, but a lot nicer. The notes can say whatever you want people to know, like "I'll be back later" or "go soak your head," though I'm thinking "go soak your head" wouldn't be such a nice thing to tell anybody.

The people offering these little leaves say they can be used beside food in a buffet to tell guests what they're choosing to eat. Now that's a good use. There have been plenty of times I maybe should have said what it was people were eating.

My leaves are in the nature collection, but there are other collections. All this is available at and in many stores.

My tiles are too small to write questions on if the question is too large, but here are some questions you may never have considered. A quiz for folks who know everything.

1. In what sport do neither spectators nor participants know the score until the contest ends?

2. What North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

4. What fruit or vegetable is never sold frozen, canned or cooked?

5. What are the 14 punctuation marks in English grammar?

6. Only three words in standard English dictionary start with "dw." They're all common words. Name them.

And it isn't Dwight - I'll give you that one.

The answers, you ask? Well this came from Creativity Connection, a newsletter put out by my friend Marshall Cook at the University of Wisconsin department of continuing studies. He's retired from the university but puts out an electronic newsletter for writers called Extra Innings. He's a baseball fan, for certain. Anyway, answers are:

1. In boxing, neither spectators nor participants know the score until the end.

2. Niagara Falls is retreating by about 2 1/2 feet a year from erosion.

3. The strawberry wears its seeds on its sleeve, so to speak.

4. Lettuce is never sold frozen, canned or cooked.

5. Punctuation marks: period, comma, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parenthesis, braces and ellipses.

6. The magic words are dwarf, dwell and dwindle. Partial credit for dweeb - that's neither common nor nice - and variations don't count.

So there. Now you know something you didn't before.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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