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Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – Susan’s Newsletter Feb. 2010


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February 18, 2010 Susan’s Newsletter
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Good morning!!!  (The exclamation points are not what I feel….trying to wake myself up, too!)   It’s brutal waking up this morning….I just had the first perfect sip of coffee, though….extra filler needed this time.  Soon my fingers should be given the extra stimulus to move in the direction of the thoughts in my mind!   And the hope of the sun coming out again will be the reason for my mind beginning to form coherent thoughts for my fingers….it all comes down to the weather, doesn’t it?  Always has, always will.  Ridiculous, really, the effect of the weather on what our moods are and what goals we set.  Or, should we be honest, regardless of the goals we set, the influence of the temperature on reaching the goals, or falling in a heap (even if only mentally)?  Seems we could rise above that.  Not possible.  We concede.
I can’t resist telling you about another favorite book of mine, this time a recent novel.  I bought this book several years ago when I had to choose among millions at Barnes & Noble (okay, not millions).  I was mesmerized immediately.  The book is a collection of short letters between a girl named Ella and other family members and friends from her island.  Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn.  If you love print (books!), or love riddles, games, details, you’ll love this book.  The setting is an island off of the East Coast.  The island is famous and very proud of being the home of the late Nevin Nollop, the author of the shortest phrase using all of the letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  The start of the novel finds the statue of Nollop losing one of the letters of the sentence, for the tile had come loose and fallen to the ground.  The city council meets and believes this is “a sign from the great Nollop” that we are lazy with our language, and that this is a sign from Nollop to not use that letter again in their writing or speech.  The council issues a law that the letter can no longer be used, with physical punishments, followed by extradition, then possible death.  The citizens (as “normal” as you and me) roll their eyes and begin writing letters.  As the book progresses more tiles fall, therein leaving more letters they are not allowed to use in their writings and speech.  By the end of the book only a few letters are left, and the author of the book uses only the letters left as he continues writing.  Fascinating how much time was put in by this author to use the thesaurus, how creative he had to be as he lost letters to use even for writing for us. 
The entire book is actually a satire on what happens if we ignore what is happening in decision-making from cities to country government…how we may only “roll our eyes” initially when changes are placed on us, but how affected we eventually are if we do not keep aware and involved.  The novel itself can be read, though, without direct referral to the analogy.  Now, you may have “gotten it” the first time.  Go reread the title out loud of the book.  I didn’t notice until reading the entire book the play on words in the title….the whole book is creative like this!
For fun, I found you a list of pangrams.  Don’t get your hopes up for most don’t even make sense, but just fun to look at, nonetheless!  Pangrams are sentences that include all the letters of the alphabet.  Here you go….someone had extra time on their hands to come up with some of them….must have been someone in the middle of the winter…determined to keep the brain functioning without actually thinking too much!
~ A ~
A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent.
A quart jar of oil mixed with zinc oxide makes a very bright paint.
A quick movement of the enemy will jeopardize gunboats.
About sixty codfish eggs will make a quarter pound of very fizzy jelly.
Alfredo must just bring very exciting news to the plaza quickly.
All questions asked by five watch experts amazed the judge.
Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.
Anxious Paul waved back his pa from the zinc quarry just sighted.
As we explored the gilf of Zanzibar, we quickly moved closer to the jutting rocks.
Astronaut Quincy B. Zack defies gravity with six jet fuel pumps.
~ B ~
Back in June we delivered oxygen equipment of the same size.
Back in my quaint garden, jaunty zinnias vie with flaunting phlox.
Ban foul, toxic smogs which quickly jeopardize lives.
Bawds jog, flick quartz, vex nymphs.
Blowzy red vixens fight for a quick jump.
Brawny gods just flocked up to quiz and vex him.
By Jove, my quick study of lexicography won a prize!  (I liked this one! – grin)
~ C ~
Crazy Fredericka bought many very exquisite opal jewels.
Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen.
Cozy sphinx waves quart jug of bad milk.
Crazy Fredericka bought many very exquisite opal jewels.
~ D ~
Dangerously frozen, he quickly judged his extremities to be waterproof.
Dr. Jekyll vows to finish zapping quixotic bum.
Dub waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex.
Dumpy kibitzer jingles as exchequer overflows.
~ E ~
Ebenezer unexpectedly bagged two tranquil aardvarks with his jiffy vacuum cleaner.
Exquisite farm wench gives body jolt to prize stinker.
Exquisite wizard flock behaving jumpy.
~ F ~
Fabled reader with jaded, roving eye seized by quickened impulse to expand budget.
Few quips galvanized the mock jury box.
Five jumbo oxen graze quietly with packs of dogs.
Five or six jet planes zoomed quickly by the tower.
Five wine experts jokingly quizzed chablis sample.
Fred specialized in the job of making very quaint wax toys.
Freight to me sixty dozen quart jars and twelve black pans.
~ G ~
Glum Q. Scharzkopf jinxed by TV.
Grumpy wizards make toxic brew for the evil Queen and Jack.
Guzzling of jaunty exile wrecks havoc at damp banquet.
G. W. Bush quickly fixed prize jam on TV.
~ H ~
Hark! Toxic jungle water vipers quietly drop on zebras for meals!
His graceful bisque vase whizzed past my taxi – no joke!
How jolly vexing a fumble to drop zucchini in the quicksand!
How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.
How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts!
~ I ~
I have quickly spotted the four women dozing in the jury box.
I was temporarily forced to zig-zag and quiver furiously around big junky xylophones.
If Jack quiz bald nymphs grow vext.
In Boston: Jazzy (but malicious) sqeak toy explodes, ending the lives of two children.
~ J ~
Jack amazed a few girls by dropping the antique onyx vase!
Jack Farmer realized that the big yellow quilts were expensive.
Jackdaw, love my big sphinx of quartz.
Jaded zombies acted quaintly, but kept driving their oxen forward.
Jail zesty vixen who grabbed pay from quack.
Jay visited back home and gazed upon a brown fox and quail.
Jeb quickly drove a few extra miles on the glazed pavement.
Jim just quit and packed extra heavy bags for Liz Owen.
Jimmy and Zack, the police explained, were last seen diving into a field of buttered quahogs.
Jolly housewives made inexpensive meals using quick-frozen vegetables.
Judge Powell quickly gave six embezzlers stiff sentences.
Just work for improved basic techniques to maximize your typing skill.
~ K ~
King Alexander was just partly overcome after quizzing Diogenes in his tub.
~ L ~
Lazy jackal from raiding zebec prowls the quiet cove.
Lazy movers quit hard-packing of papier-mache jewelry boxes.
~ M ~
Many big jackdaws zipped quickly over the fox pen.
Martin J. Hixeypovzer began his first word.
May Jo equal the fine record by solving six puzzles a week?
Meghan deftly picks valuable jewels: onyx, quartz.
Monique, the buxom coed, likes to fight for Pez with the junior varsity team.
Murky haze enveloped a city, as jarring quakes broke fourty-six windows.
My grandfather picks up quartz and valuable onyx jewels.
My help squeezed in and joined the weavers again before six o’clock.
~ N ~
Nancy Bizal exchanged vows with Robert J. Kumpf at Quincy Temple.
New farmhand proves strong but lazy, picking just six quinces.
New job: fix Mr. Gluck’s hazy TV, PDQ!
Now is the time for all quick brown dogs to jump over the lazy lynx.
~ O ~
On the boardwalk grave playful lizards quickly jump and exercise.
Oozy quivering jellyfish expectorated by mad hawk.
~ P ~
Pangrams have subjects like “dewy fox quiz.”
Picking just six quinces, new farm hand proves strong but lazy.
Prized waxy jonquils choke big farm vats.
~ Q ~
Questions of a zealous nature have become by degrees petty waxen jokes.
Quick jigs for waltz vex bad nymph.
Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim.
Quick waxy bugs jump the frozen veldt.
Quiz explained for TV show by Mick Jagger.

~ S ~
Six big juicy steaks sizzled in a pan, as five workmen left the quarry.
Six boys guzzled cheap raw plum vodka quite joyfully.
Six crazy kings vowed to abolish my quite pitiful jousts.
Six javelins thrown by the quick savages whizzed forty paces beyond the mark.
Six of the women quietly gave back prizes to the judge.
Sixty zippers were quickly picked from the woven jute bag.
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
Sympathizing would fix Quaker objectives.
~ T ~
The exodus of jazzy pigeons is craved by squeamish walkers.
The explorer was frozen in his big kayak just after making a queer discovery.
Their kind aunt was subject to frequent dizzy spells, thus causing much anxiety and worry.
The job of waxing linoleum frequently peeves chintzy kids.
The job requires extra pluck and zeal from every young wage earner.
The jukebox music puzzled a gentle visitor from a quaint valley town.
The July sun caused a fragment of black pine wax to ooze on the velvet quilt.
The public was amazed to view the quickness and dexterity of the juggler.
The vixen jumped quickly on her foe, barking with zeal.
Their kind aunt was subject to frequent dizzy spells, thus causing much anxiety and worry.
Travelling beneath the azure sky in our jolly ox-cart, we often hit bumps quite hard.
~ U ~
Uphill jogging will tax pounding heart muscle very quickly; better to be lazy!
~ V ~
Verbatim reports were quickly given by Jim Fox to his amazed audience.
Vexed funky camp juggler quit show biz.
Victors flank gypsy who mixed up on job quiz.
Viewing quizzical abstracts mixed up hefty jocks.
~ W ~
Watch all five questions asked by experts amaze the judge.
We could jeopardize six of the gunboats by two quick moves.
We have just quoted on nine dozen boxes of grey lamp wicks.
We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.
When waxing parquet decks, Suez sailors vomit jauntily abaft.
We quickly seized the black axle and just saved it from going past him.
When we go back to Juarez, Mexico, do we fly over picturesque Arizona?
Whenever the black fox jumped, the squirrel gazed suspiciously.
While making deep excavations we found some quaint bronze jewelry.
Will Major Douglas be expected to take this true-false quiz very soon?
William said that everything about his jacket was in quite good condition except for the zipper.
Wolves exit quickly as fanged zoo chimp jabbers.
Would you please examine both sizes of jade figures very quickly.
Woven silk pyjamas exchanged for blue quartz.
~ X ~
Xylophone wizard begets quick jive form.
~ Y ~
You will quite often be amazed by Jock’s very weighty, size six sporran!
~ Z ~
Zelda quickly wove eight nubby flax jumpers.

I got this list from:  http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/pangrams.htm.  If you type in “pangram” in your searching you will find list after list.  So many sentences ridiculous, but fun nonetheless!)  Have a great week!!!  Now that I’ve started your mind with information you really didn’t ever need you can only go up from here on what you put in!  Thank you for letting me send you my note!  Thank you for coming into the store & shopping – we love being here…you truly won’t realize how much your business means.  I hope I’m working when you come over, but if not, know I noticed you were there…and thanked you in my mind!!! 
Go, make your epitaph tonight worth writing for the time used today that we can never get back.  Let’s make decisions that bring us to a higher level, decisions maybe no one knows we made.  Decisions that when we look to the skies and fall on our knees we see pride in Our Creator’s eyes when he looks into ours.  Enjoy the sunshine today!!  March is ALMOST here!!!   Susan

Latin for this week:
Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure. – I can’t hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
Works Cited:
Dunn, Mark. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters.  New York.  Random House.  2001.

Product Overview

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop, South Carolina. Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet in this love letter to language.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; First Edition edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385722435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385722438
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces

Recommended in Susan’s February 18, 2010 Newsletter