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All contents herein (except the illustrations, which are in the public domain) are Copyright © 1995-2019 Evan Morris & Kathy Wollard. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited, with the exception that teachers in public schools may duplicate and distribute the material here for classroom use.

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Yet another update.


For the backstory on what’s been going on around here, please read the two posts immediately below this one.

So, me again. Yeah, I’m still here. Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Speaking of lines lifted from old Timex watch commercials, I made the mistake of having the battery replaced in my old Timex watch the other day, and now the little window that told me the day of the week and month doesn’t work. I might be able to fix it if I hadn’t lost the insanely complicated directions ten years ago.

Anyway, the upshot is that I am no longer tethered to your puny Earthling concepts of time, which explains, at least in part, why I have let six months slide by since my last update. Long story short, I’m still undergoing chemotherapy in Columbus, once a week for two weeks, a week off, and then lather, rinse, and try to find a vein that still works.

Actually doing the chemo is the easy part; the real problems begin later that day, and follow a set pattern every week. Right after chemo, I often have problems walking and sometimes fall asleep from the anti-nausea drugs as Kathy drives us home. At some point that evening, however, the IV steroids they give me kick in, and I am often wide awake (albeit in an unpleasant trance-like state) until at least the afternoon of Day 2. Day 3 I’m in a bad mood because I’m exhausted and I can’t walk or see very well. But over the weekend I start to feel somewhat better, just in time to start the whole cycle again.

Something I read last year described being in chemotherapy as “Feeling a profound sense of unwellness,” which is right on the money. You feel like you’ve been poisoned (which, of course, you have), but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what feels so wrong.

In between the slings and arrows, I watch bad (and occasionally good) TV, usually with a lap full of cats jockeying for position, and read news on my elderly Thinkpad and books on my trusty Nook. P.G. Wodehouse never fails to cheer me up, and a while back I finally got around to reading The Master and Margarita: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Mikhail Bulgakov, which I first noticed when I worked in a bookstore in the 1970s but had never read. It’s a wonderful book for all sorts of reasons, and the recent 50th Anniversary edition is generally agreed to be the best translation. It also has very helpful explanatory notes. Look, it features an enormous black cat named Behemoth who walks on his hind legs, guzzles vodka and smokes cigars. ‘Nuff said.

Nothing would have made me happier, of course, than to be able to continue writing my columns, but all this cancer and chemotherapy stuff comes with a ding to my cognitive acuity and stamina that makes that impossible.

As to our financial state, I am profoundly grateful to everyone who has contributed over the past year to our ability to stay afloat in a bad situation. Your contributions, and the kind notes that come with them, have been an enormous boost to our morale in a very trying time.

As might be expected, our situation remains precarious. To that end, I’ll take the liberty of repeating my pitch from last time:

The Word Detective website had been supporting itself for years through subscriptions and donations, along with some revenue from ads. With my diagnosis and the financial reversals of last year, that income suddenly played a much larger role in our household budget. Unfortunately, the fact that I am no longer updating the site has reduced that small income at the worst possible time. All of which brings me to ask for your continued support via our page at

Contributions via any of the PayPal links on that page will be gratefully accepted; the easiest option is the “One-time Contribution” link on the page, which lets you fill in any amount, and you can also designate that amount as a continuing monthly donation. The “Awesome Sustainer Subscription” option a bit above it on the page automatically sends $5 per month via PayPal, and the “Super-Awesome Sustainer Subscription” sends $10 per month. Sustaining monthly contributions of any amount make an enormous difference, and many thanks to readers for continuing theirs. But whatever you can contribute will be deeply appreciated.

And if PayPal isn’t your cup of tea, checks can be sent to Evan Morris, PO Box 1, Millersport, OH 43046. Please make checks payable to Evan Morris. (Not to “The Word Detective.” My bank lacks imagination.) I should emphasize, however, that the Word Detective mailing list is a dead parrot, not even pining for the fjords; thus you will not receive any Word Detective columns by email. Of course, there are, as I mentioned in my note in 2016, more than 1,500 full-text columns available for free on this site, which should keep any sane person busy for a year or two.

Again, thank you for your continuing support, for your good wishes, and for just continuing to read and enjoy the site.

Evan Morris

An update from The Word Detective

Dear friends,

I’ve been meaning to post an update to my original message from February, but I’ve discovered that there really isn’t such a thing as a quiet moment in this sort of situation, and it’s easy to let things slide when you’d rather not think (let alone write) about them. But several people have, understandably, asked for an update, so here we go. [For the full back story, see my original post at]

First of all, my profound thanks to everyone who responded to my fund appeal in February. Your contributions have made a huge difference in our morale during my ongoing cancer treatment as well as our ability to pay bills, fix failing plumbing, and keep the lights on. We’ve also been greatly moved by the good wishes, prayers and messages of support you’ve sent in all forms, from email to handwritten cards. It’s beyond my capacity to respond individually to each of you, but I would if I could.

Continue reading this post » » »

A Message from The Word Detective

Dear friends,

You have probably noticed that The Word Detective has become, shall we say, somewhat sporadic in recent months. I need to explain that.

Over the past ten years, as many of you are aware, I have been fighting the advance of progressive multiple sclerosis. At this point, I have difficulty walking, my vision is unreliable at best, and my left hand is close to useless.

For the past two months, however, I have been undergoing a series of tests that indicate a much bigger problem. I have Stage 4 (i.e., metastatic) cancer.

Under the circumstances, I’m going to have to suspend The Word Detective in both its web and email forms. The Word Detective website will remain online for the foreseeable future, but will not be updated. Comments will be disabled because I won’t be able to moderate them.

Continue reading this post » » »