"Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for."

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
There is no analogy for Aunt Ordella

A little personal news tonight, because I know how you worry. Today, in the course of my application to graduate school, I went to Bethel University in St. Paul and took the Miller Analogies Test. The MAT is a multiple choice test in which you fill in the missing element from an analogy – as in, “Bureaucrat is to Integrity as Jack the Ripper is to ________.” (Correct answer: Feminism) It’s a deceptively hard test. I hope all the other test takers felt as confusticated as I did, because if they didn’t I’m a whole lot dumber than I think I am.

How did I do? I don’t know. I was supposed to go away with a preliminary score, but the laptop they gave me to use had some kind of power issue, and shut itself down in the course of the test – twice. The second time we couldn’t access the test again. I was very nearly done at that point; in fact I’d finished the test itself and was just reviewing my answers. But I don’t know – and neither does the proctor – whether my score actually registered at the other end or not. If it didn’t, I’ll have all the weary work to do again, one hopes at no further cost.

Last Saturday I drove down to Kenyon, my home town, for the funeral of my great-aunt Ordella, who passed away at the age of 103. She was the last surviving child of my great-grandfather, the only remaining pillar of her generation. I think I’m safe in saying that Aunt Ordella was a character. It’s not uncommon for people to lose their inhibitions as they age, but I don’t think Ordella ever had any inhibitions (I’m speaking of social interaction; I know of no sexual scandal in her life). Apparently all the chutzpah in the Walker family got funneled into her. I know nobody in my branch got any of it.

I don’t know what we’ll do without her. It was a beautiful day for a grave-side service in any case.

I wandered the town cemetery for a few minutes. It’s a fairly old cemetery over on the shady east end, where they buried the people with English names who settled back before the Norwegians flooded in. I looked in particular for those bronze “Grand Army of the Republic” stars, indicating Union Army veterans. Found one fellow who served in the First Minnesota “H.A.,” which a little research informs me means Heavy Artillery.

This weekend: Whiz-Bang Days in Robbinsdale! And I’ll be at Norway Day in Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, on Sunday.


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Comments on "There is no analogy for Aunt Ordella":
1. Phil Sevetson - 07/12/2013 9:34 pm EDT

Sorry for your loss, sir. She sounds like what they used to call a "Grand Lady" -- don't know if that term is still in use.

2. Respectabiggle - 07/15/2013 10:54 am EDT

Also, my condolences - when we lose people like that, I always wish I could hear one more set of stories from them.

I have to say that the MAT is the only standardized test I've ever enjoyed taking. In fact, I loved it! On the version I took, the difficulty increased as the test went on. One of the questions near the middle of the test made no sense to me until I realized that the analogy was based on the words' spelled backward. At that point the light went on and I said to myself, "Oh, so that's how its going to be!" It became a battle at that point, and I dove in with gusto.

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