Part and Parcel


Every so often, I read or hear something that activates my ‘grammar police’ gene. For those who don’t know me, I worked in communications before retreating to my acreage in Kansas. As a communications professional, my job was to keep a critical eye on the grammar of others. Lots of people hated me.

Still. I’d like a dollar for every time I corrected THEIR, THERE, or THEY’RE and YOUR or YOU’RE. When to use I instead of ME was always good for an argument. And the intricacies of THAT and WHICH caused me frequent heartburn.  I blame the current state of my health on verb usage with collective singulars like STAFF and the transformation of nouns-only like IMPACT into verbs. And let’s not talk about how to spell ‘a lot’ and ‘all right.’ ALOT and ALRIGHT are not (yet) words.

But without doubt, my all-time favorites are idioms that someone gets wrong. Today, a TV news pundit said, ‘part and partial’ instead of ‘part and parcel.’

Now how can I be sure? I played it back several times (thank you DVR) and heard ‘partial’ instead of ‘parcel’ every time. I’m as sure as can be about this horrendous misuse, meaning I’m not very sure at all. So, I decided not to call the person to account by sending a corrective email. But if you’re interested …

‘Part and parcel’ is a legal term, from about the 15th or 16th century, and is a long way of saying that you’re talking about ‘an essential element’ (Merriam-Webster).  As in, ‘sunlight is part and parcel of healthy plant growth.’

Frankly, I haven’t seen or heard this idiom used in a long time, and in my world, the phrase is anachronistic. I wouldn’t use it in writing or speaking.

But imagine my surprise when I heard ‘part and partial,’ which I take to mean ‘this part and this other part.’

Wait. Which part?

Idioms used incorrectly are part and parcel of my anxiety. Or hilarity.

And the photo? Just some tulips blooming in my pink garden. For those who like pictures with the words.


What is it?


I want to send a prize to the person who guesses correctly. I couldn’t figure it out. An alien octopus? A new kind of modern art? Five-year-old finger painting?

What’s your best guess?

The People at My Last Garage Sale

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My last garage sale was 25 years ago when I still lived in Overland Park. The year was 1993 and I held the sale because I had left-over office furniture from my last not-for-profit job. I sold it all—at give-away prices—in two hours, shut my door and called it quits.

My other last sale—also in Overland Park—was a moving sale. Held in 2000, we sold a lot of stuff I can’t recall, which means I didn’t miss any of it. We were moving to Louisburg. Well, technically seven miles south of Louisburg to an acreage on this gravel road in the middle of Miami County Kansas. Or the middle of nowhere. Your choice.

Since that sale, I’ve held three sales—I hesitate to call them garage sales—in Louisburg. They all go about the same way, and it’s all about the people who show up.

A few guys in trucks come out to see what Jim’s got on offer. He usually does pretty well, although the older guys already have what Jim has, and they’d like to get rid of theirs too.

Retired couples stop to take a look at our stuff. They mostly talk about their stuff, and what they should do to empty their basements/closets/storage sheds.

Old high school buddies of Jim (and sometimes wives), drive out because they know the door is open. They’re here to catch up.

The middle-aged crowd. Someone might buy a collectible or a piece of jewelry. That’s what happened this time. That single sale ALMOST makes all the preparation worthwhile.

Young people flying by and seeing the sign might stop. But they are not interested in vintage anything, including conversation with vintage me.

And that’s about it. Six or seven people a day. Two days to go …

Did I say this was my last garage sale?