Friday, December 30, 2005


OK, it looks like the Annie/Frizzy story has been abandoned. You want to make any more comments, or shall I finish it off? But thanks for the great participation in the Tales of Blogland site. Has anyone but me used Google Earth to find Barueri, Brazil? There's lots of swimming pools although it is set in the foothills outside Sao Paulo. Ni-i-i-i-ice.
Today I officiated at a funeral: the mother of one of my friends from college days. We had to drive south for two and a half hours to get there. Weather was clear and dry, but breezy and cold. She was a generous, kind-hearted woman, and the little chapel was standing room only. She had told her kids, "Don't worry. I am at peace." After the service, my friend told me her mom would have loved the eulogy. It gave everyone a chance to laugh and to cry, to feel powerless and to feel confident. But I am not so good at speaking at funerals. I tend to weep when I think about the mercies of God.
Weekend words Q
"What happened to P?" you might ask. Forget P, I want to talk about Q. Oh all right, then, have it your way. Let's just get it over with. The P-word is panoply. When I wrote an email to my Sunday school class describing our splendid Christmas party, I mentioned the panoply of delicious vegetables and salads. A member of the class replied to all, "From Merriam Webster Online Dictionary: Panoply- a magnificent or impressive array." I couldn't have said it better myself. Now on to Q! Here's a word you may never use, but then again, it can be the right word when all else fails. The word is QUIDDITY. Isn't that wonderful to say? It means "thatness." The dictionary would say something like "the quality that makes something what it is." So what's the quiddity of your latest project? What's your quiddity, for that matter? "Really, sir, this job has many rewarding aspects, but I just cannot continue to deal with the quiddity of it."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to all

Well, what do you know--it's Christmas! Since neither of our boys were coming to West Texas for Christmas, Cat and I did not really put a huge effort into decorating. We did set up the artificial tree we bought on sale last year. It looks very nice and supports the ornaments well. Normally over the fireplace we display montage of an old wooden house that I made decades ago. Cat decided it would be fun to decorate the picture of the old house. Here's what it turned out like.

I particularly like the crêche scene in the window (poor beleaguered Mary has lost her head so don't look too closely). The lights around the door are a necklace Cat forgot to wear.

Well, there is no weekend word yet. It is supposed to start with "O" so I suppose that I could just say, "Oh, well." It's been a little busy here. I made a new gate, built an organizer for a kitchen drawer, and cleaned up the flower beds. Then there is a meal to prepare for tomorrow. The dough for the rolls is in the refrigerator, eggs are boiled for the giblet gravy, cranberry sauce is made, and the table is set. Maybe if it slows down Sunday evening I can post something. Until then, have a merry Christmas (or "Happy Christmas" as they say in merry old England).

Friday, December 23, 2005

A dedicated site for multi-authored stories

It seems to me that this story-telling game deserves a blogsite all its own. So I have set up "Tales of Blogland" at specifically for this exercise. Go check it out, add a comment, and I will add your name to the list of Frequent Bloglanders. Tomorrow I will post a weekend word (here). Oh, BTW, I am changing my signature from "M. Hibou" to "little david" as that seems to be best.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Another story

OK, so some of you enjoyed that story-telling experience. Let's tweak the rules a bit (I love tweaking rules--kind of like Calvinball) to allow more than two sentences per comment. You now get up to five sentences and four comments each. No socks, no sax, no sects. The photo is an illustration to get you started. This time the story will be about Annie, a maiden who lives on the edge of a forest near Talkeetna, Alaska.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Weekend words N (running late)

Hasn't it been hectic at your house? We have stayed busy here. There was Christmas on Columbia (the photo is the final look of the tomb once we set it up), which went quite well despite bitter cold. We know of two women who made a profession of faith in Jesus during a discussion with a friend which followed their ride through the nativity scenes. Our Sunday school class went shopping Friday night for gifts to deliver to seven children whose fathers are in prison. I will be delivering some of those tomorrow. The handbell choir of which I am a member has played four times in the last five days. And tonight we are driving to a town 50 miles away for two Christmas parties. Whew!
OK, the N word is not anything unusual, I just wanted to talk about it. The word is NOEL which is nearly synonymous with Christmas. You will not be surprised that it comes from French (Noël) and ultimately from Latin (natalis) and refers to birth. The form Noël was recorded as early as 1175; it was used to describe the first Christmas trees about 500 years later. These appeared in Strassbourg, France, and were decorated with candies (not candles). So while Christianity has been in practice for a couple of millennia, the "arbre de Noël" (Christmas tree) has only been around for the last four hundred years. OK, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2005

A new game

Here's a game that I have played F2F and I think it will translate well in this medium. The idea is to write a story as a group. Each participant may make no more than two comments limited to two sentences each. Only one character is permitted to be killed off in the story (no miraculous resuscitations later in order to kill off someone else). The story ends when the original blogger posts his or her second comment.

This week's story will feature Albert, a retired sock factory worker who lives in Nice, France.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The fishing vest

Patti, this is just for you. Hope it brings back nothing but pleasant memories. (See comments on "A pic and a grin" post below for further details.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Weekend words M

Here's a word I learned just today: MONOPSONY [muh-NOP-suh-nee]. It only came into American vocabulary in the early twentieth century. And it came into my office earlier this morning via an economics professor who dropped by to tell me all about his favorite coffee. You are familiar with a monopoly, right? That's when there is only one seller of a particular item (like the city water company). Monopolizers can price their product pretty much as they please, because you can't get it anywhere else. A monopsony is a situation in which there is only one buyer for a particular product. Take for example, Wal-Mart--they have made deals with some small businesses to buy all of the products that business can produce. Sounds alluring, doesn't it? But what happens if WM decides they want to pay you a lower price? If you balk, they may move all their vast business to some other schmuck, so you agree, because there's no one else that can buy all that stuff you're producing. And besides, WM is going to price the product so low, you can't make a profit selling it to anyone else. There are laws regulating monopolies, but not monopsonies. So that's our economics lesson for the day, boys and girls.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A pic and a grin

While we were in New Mexico it snowed several inches. The kids were delighted. Several of them from San Francisco had never seen snowflakes and they were thrilled. One of the boys is named for me. He made this snow angel. Very nice, my diminutive eponymous angel!

Now for fun, here is an exercise passed on to me by SpookyRach. Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Santa Fe photo

The Thanksgiving week in Glorieta NM was wonderful. Several days we went into Santa Fe to eat and shop and be tourists. We saw the Georgia O'Keefe museum and bought jewelry on the plaza. At one point the light was just right on a church and I got this shot. Lucky me, huh?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tomb progress

The tomb without paint

Once the skin was on, this is what the tomb looked like. On the right, I think you can see the "stone" that would roll in front of the opening. The tomb is light enough that I can tilt the whole thing on its back and lift it upright by myself. We just hope the wind isn't blowing to hard this weekend. As it is the temperature expectations are now mid-twenties with 20% chance of snow and 25-mile-per-hour winds on Wednesday. Hmmmm.

With paint on the skin, it kind of looks like a strange Disneyland attraction. But from a distance, at night, perhaps it will look sufficiently stony. Thanks to Rachel who helped with painting. And I have seen the faceless Santa in front of her office building. I have to say that the decorations on that side of the street look pretty bedraggled. Did Rachel and Mindy offend some city worker?

Tomb with some paint

Monday, December 05, 2005

I'm back but besieged

Thanks to those who have asked about my whereabouts. As soon as I got back from Thanksgiving week, I started working on all those things left undone while I was away. That primarily included fininshing off the tomb I am building for our church's Christmas presentation. And I was bummed to realize that I lost the cable which connects my camera to the computer, so I had to purchase a device on Saturday to transfer photos. I will try to post a picture or two in the next couple of days (maybe even tonight). BTW, I was able to get SpookyRach to help with the painting of the tomb. She's pretty good. It may all be for naught seeing as the weather for our outdoor presentation is forecast to be windy and very cold (highs in the twenties). Who is going to ride around on the back of an open wagon at night in weather like that? We really can't expect actors to stand outside for two hours with the north wind blowing. More later.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

One more post

It is almost time to go to handbell choir practice, but I just found the coolest video. Click on the image to see a video of Sony robots performing dance. This is amazing.

Weekend word L and the "watzat?"

The Princess of E(&TS) requested that before leaving for Thanksgiving vacation, I reveal the identity of the "watzat?" below. Yes, yes, all in good time. But first a vocabulary lesson. The "L" word for this weekend is LACONIC [luh-KON-ick]. The opposite of PROLIX (q.v.), this word describes a speaker who uses few words to communicate effectively. That's all I want to say about that. But there is another L word that most people know and many mispronounce: LARYNX. Have you heard people describe throat problems as having to do with the "lair-nicks"? That's "lair-inks," folks. It annoys me only slightly less than GW saying "noo-cyoo-ler" instead of "nuclear." A friend of mine used to laugh over her parents describing gay people as being "homer sectional." Well, that's enough bloviating; now for the "watzat?"
Lacquered spoon from Russia
This lacquered wooden spoon came from Russia. My friend Adele went on a mission trip to Russia and brought this back to me. So far it has just decorated my bookshelf. I haven't tried it for eating borscht, but it looks like it would do the job.
I will be away from the computer for a week, so I will catch up with you all later. Everyone have a thankful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Building a tomb from scratch

Metal studs and poultry netting
Last year the church I belong to developed an event which depicted several scenes from the nativity of Jesus. The sets were built of plywood, styrofoam, etc., and we drove people by them on flat trailer beds with hay bales as seats. At each scene the driver would stop while a narrator described the scenes. Costumed actors portrayed the characters (it was real easy for Joseph having a dream while he slept). The last scene was three crosses, and the narrator would explain how the birth of Jesus was incomplete without remembering the crucifixion. OK, so this year, we are expanding that idea with an empty tomb, accompanied by fearful women and a glowing angel (don't ask). And I am building the tomb. It has to be light enough for four men to carry it yet look like a cave carved out of rock. The top photo is of the metal frame with poultry netting (chicken wire to all you farmers) providing the skin. This will be wrapped with muslin dipped in a mixture of paint and glue. Today we just put on one panel of muslin (see below). I sincerely hope this works because it has already taken a lot of time and around $150. I will post photos as we make progress. I am hoping to get SpookyRach to help with the detail painting.

First strip of muslin

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Great hopes--dashed

I had great hopes of posting a photo of my latest project, but I haven't gotten back to it yet. Maybe tomorrow (Friday). In the meantime, here is a "watzat?" for you to work on. It came from a friend who lives in Pearl City (you have to guess which state or country).
Did I mention my Thanksgiving plans? Friends from California and Texas are getting together in New Mexico for the week of Thanksgiving. We willl see some people we have not seen in a dozen years. We will meet some children we have never seen before. We will eat and laugh and play games and talk and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Now that's Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weekend words K

OK, so the weekend is over already. I was busy working on a tomb. It's part of a set for a Christmas presentation. It is almost twenty feet long, nine feet high, and four feet wide. It has to be constructed so that three or four men can carry it without getting a hernia. And it has to look like a cave. Sometime this week I will take a photo of what I have so far. And then I will post progress photos, OK?

Now for the K word. I was tempted by KUKUI and KIKUYU. The first one is a really oily nut that grows in Hawai'i and the second is the name of one of the more dominant tribes in Kenya. But are you going to use either of those in conversation? Choosing a K-word is difficult because so many of them are foreign. The one that I chose is KEPI [kay-pee]. It's foreign, too, but you are sure to run across it if you work crossword puzzles. A képi is a round cap with a flat visor worn by the French military. (It actually comes from the same root as "cap.") The main reason I picked this word is due to its appearance in a wonderful poem by Jacques Prévert.

J'ai mis mon képi dans la cage
et je suis sorti avec l'oiseau sur la tête
on ne salue plus
a demandé le commandant
on ne salue plus
a répondu l'oiseau
Ah bon
excusez-moi je croyais qu'on saluait
a dit le commandant
Vous êtes tout excusé tout le monde peut se tromper
a dit l'oiseau.

I put my cap in the cage and went out with the bird on my head.
"Hey, are we no longer saluting?" asked the major.
"No, we are not saluting any more," answered the bird.
"Oh well, excuse me. I thought we were saluting," said the major.
"You are entirely excused. Anyone can make a mistake," said the bird.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Here's what it is

One morning while we were living in Oregon, I answered the doorbell to find a Hasidic Jew on the front step. He had the curls at his temples and a yarmuka, but he really didn't look all that Jewish. As it turned out, he was the son of our across-the-street neighbors. It seems that in his high school days, he had gotten offended by the Assembly of God church where they worshiped and had set off on a quest for meaningful religion. His quest ended with a move to Israel where he converted to Judaism and married a nice kosher girl.
When he finished telling me all this, he held out his hand and said, "I know that you are religious people and would probably appreciate this. The olive leaf is from the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem. The pottery shard was uncovered during a road-widening process. It is part of a Second Temple lamp."
Well, I received this with gratitude. A year or so later, I had moved to San Francisco to complete my seminary studies. My Old Testament professor was an archeologist, so I showed him the shard. He agreed that the shape of the opening (where a wick would protrude) did indicate that the lamp had been in use during the time before the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans. There is every possibility that this little lamp was used during the time of Jesus.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Back by popular request

You can't really say "popular demand" if it is only one person making the request. But the plea has been heard, so another "watzat?" is hereby provided. This small item sits on a shelf and is no longer useful for its original purpose. It's sort of a metaphor for the people who have become integral to our lives. We love them, not for their usefulness, but simply because of their identity. Well, enough philosophizing. Can you guess what this is?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Weekend words J

You know, I was going to vent about the difficulties of this week but what good does that do? So I will just day "Thank you" to Patti and Lorna for their comments and get right to the vocabulary. (Yes, thanks to the rest of you also. I just wanted to welcome these two to this blog.) Tomorrow's Sunday school lesson is from the book of James (there's a J-word) which advises, in the last chapter, that when things are not going well to pray. Good advice.

There is a type of grass which grows in Asia and which produces hard bead-like structures around the base of the flower stem. When the flower ripens, these spheres can be harvested and used as ornamental beads. The plant is similar to corn (maize for all you non-Americans) and can grow ten feet tall. Here's the J-connection: among the several names by which this grass is called, two are JOB'S-TEARS or JUNO'S-TEARS. Now why would a pearly-white tear-shaped bead be named for either of these two characters? In Mexico, it is considered good luck to carry seven of these in your pocket. This is all too strange. Is there an expectation that God would bless the bearer of Job's tears just as he blessed Job at the end of his harrowing experience? I just could not find the Juno connection. By the way, did you know that the month of June is named for her?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Weekend word I

Do you watch those home remodelling shows? You know the kind: they have thirty minutes to show you what must have taken weeks to do. The ones that try to show you how to do things cheaply make me laugh. When they suggest the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to make things look new, what do they recommend? Say it with me now: "Painting!" But I am here to tell you, if you want the job to look good from closer than nine yards away, painting is NOT cheap, fast, or easy. Today I primed the kitchen pantry. Tomorrow, I will put on the first finish coat. I'm exhausted. Here's what I don't like about painting.

  • All the time it takes to prepare to paint and clean up afterwards. What a production! If I want to make a table, let's say, I just go into my shop, make some measurements and start whacking boards. I don't have to sand and vacuum and wash with TSP and rinse the boards first--I just cut 'em. And then there is the cleaning. I never use oil-based paint and I still find cleanup to be tedious drudgery.
  • Then there is the drying time when everything that was in the cabinet or on the wall has to remain somewhere else while the paint is drying (all the while stinking up the house).
  • Drips. And I'm not talking about those people who drop by, observe the junk all over the dining room table, sniff the air, and ask, "Are you painting or something?" I mean the kind that ooze down the wall while you aren't looking or land on the grout of the tiled floor and then smear when you step on them. Arrrrgh!

Well, that's not what we are here to talk about, is it? It is time for an i-word. It is tempting to just use inchoate, but that appeared tangentially under the Weekend word C listing. No, you deserve a new word. Here's one that I use when teaching New Testament studies: INTERCALATION [in-ter-kuh-LAY-shun]. Basically that's a big word for a sandwich filling. It technically means anything that is inserted in between two others that are in a series. So in the Gospel of Mark, for example, the author tells the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree but he interrupts himself by inserting the story of Jesus clearing the temple. Then, as he tells it, the next day Jesus and the disciples pass the same way, and, whatta ya know, the fig tree is withered! That temple-clearing story, that's an intercalation. Look at Matthew's account--he tells it straight through, cursing and withering on the same day.
Well, I hope you enjoy this word because it's all you're getting tonight. I'm pooped, the heater is running, and I must take a shower. Hey, no more daylight savings time tomorrow--yahoo!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pre-Halloween identification

Anthony Fetyplace
Well, I was going to wait until Halloween to reveal the identity of the "watzat" but due in part to certain whiners (you know who you are), I will just post it all now. What was variously described in your comments was a close-up of spurs, spurs belonging to Sir Anthony Fetyplace. This knight to Henry VIII has his tomb in Swinbrook Parish Church in Oxfordshire, England. A good friend of ours did a rubbing of the brass plate on the floor commemorating Fetyplace's life. So, see, there was a connection to Halloween (sort of). And the weekend word will show up tomorrow. Have fun this weekend!

Another clue (before the weekend)

Neither equine nor avian (nor porcine nor ovine) is the subject of the wall hanging. Nor fabric nor clay its composition. Its height is four feet and origin transatlantic. And there is a connection to Halloween. Does that help? (BTW, number two son has already guessed it in a private email. But that doesn't count.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

What in the universe?

This was one rough day at work. We tried remedying a problem (for our department) caused by another department. We spent hours on this. And then a representative of the other department did just the opposite of what we had agreed on, and many teachers had their course materials disappear. We were furious. This little corner of the universe is not perfect, I am here to attest.

That's SIR to you, buddyWell, what in the universe could this object be? Yes, it resides in my study, quite prominently, I must say. When you make your guess, you must also describe what you plan to do for Hallowe'en. A group of us are going to a cornfield maze. At night. Wearing costumes (well, some of us--the fun-loving ones). Hmm, is this "watzat" connected to Hallowe'en?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Here's the photo

This photo is for the "Dear old dad" post below. I colored the fire.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Weekend words H

Wow, what a long day! We've received very few calls at work and almost no one is in the building. (It is Fall Break at the University and the students are not the only ones to have abandoned campus.) Adding to the annoyance of being somewhat idle indoors is the fact that the weather is absolutely splendid: blue skies, crisp air, marching band playing in the distance. Since the other person in this office comes in early and leaves early on Fridays, we engaged in a pre-prandial pingpong practicum. (Say that 16 times real fast. Or even three.) She won one game and I the other. We are trying to sharpen our skills so as to consistently beat our opponents in doubles.

Did you notice that none of the words in the preceding paragraph started with "H"? I was saving up for the weekend words. First we encounter a vocable which I've used with some frequency in my Sunday school class: HENOTHEISM. This has nothing to do with the idea that God is a hen. It's one of those history-of-religions words used to describe a stage in the progress from polytheism (belief in many gods) to monotheism (belief that only one God exists). Henotheists have a preference for one god, but don't necessarily dismiss the possibility of the existence of other gods. This seems to have been the condition of the Israelites for several centuries, at least to hear the prophets tell it. It seems that they had to explain over and over that images and idols had no real power. Isaiah 44 is a great example.

Once when we were in Kenya we stayed at a lodge built around a water hole. The animals would come (mostly at night and not for the water, which was pretty foul since water buffaloes wallered in it) for the salt which remained around the edges. We saw warthogs, elephants, hyenas, and so on. What we did not see (at the time) but heard was the HYRAX. It had a bloody screech which was quite unsettling in the middle of the night. We kept watching for some leopard-like feline but never saw a thing. A year later we were in Kenya again and actually came across a hyrax. It is about the size of a cottontail rabbit. That's right, a bunny. Here's a photo of one: rock hyrax.

And now for a poem. e.e.cummings wrote this in the first quarter of the preceding century. Hope I don't get in trouble for not securing permission to reprint it.

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
--long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men's hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
--long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common's rare and millstones float
--long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy's the voice
down shall go which and up go who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
--time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dear old dad

If I still had a scanner, I would post a black-and-white snapshot that resides on my bookcase. It is over forty years old and features two men flanking a boy holding a long stick, standing behind a campfire. The hills of New Mexico are a soft grey in the background; by the shadows, I would say it was taken right after breakfast. I am the boy; my Scoutmaster stands to my right, my father to my left. They are the two men who had the greatest and most positive influence on my life. They taught me a lot more than camping skills.

Fast forward twenty years from the photo, and I am standing on a ladder in a house near the outskirts of town. A man named Edwin is telling me how he built that house. Hanging a ceiling fan in his living room, I am a captive audience, murmuring the appreciative, "Oh, you don't say. Really?" as needed. He tells me how he and his wife did every bit of the work themselves. Of course, the mortgage loan officer at the bank didn't like that idea one bit. The bank wasn't about to loan Edwin the money for that house if there were no subcontracters. So Edwin marched upstairs to his usual banker and told him to close out his accounts. The banker calmed him down and Edwin told him the story. So the banker had a suggestion. "What if I make you an unsecured loan for the materials you need to get started? You could start paying that off and when you get ready for more materials, we'll arrange another loan?"

"Well," says Edwin to me, "that's how we got this house built. Yessir, if it hadn't been for Harry Howle, we might not have had this house." That stopped me. Harry Howle was the man in the photo, the one on my left. He never talked about work when he came home at night. He just laughed and gave us hugs and gave Mom a great big kiss.

Another winner!

The most recent "watzat" gave many people the impression of being a wooden hinge. That is not entirely correct. The hinge is metal, probably brass or bronze, but has been striated through the years resulting in a woodgrain type finish. Yes, it is the hinge of a folding wooden rule. It is a Lufkin No. 372 12" rule with an extending metal caliper for precise measurements. It is one of several old measuring devices that I have. Congratulations to SplineGuy for his accurate guess. The prize will be arriving at your doorstep soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

What in the world?

Pappaw's artifact
Yes, boys and girls, it is that time again. It's time for a "watzat?" brought to you by Monsieur Hibou, the wise old owl (or at least wise-acre old coot). This object belonged to my grandfather, quite an old coot himself. If you look back in the archives of this blog, you will find a photo of me seated on his tractor back when I was a wee lad. When he died in his early 90s, my grandfather had a full head of brilliant white hair. I am hoping the same can be said of me after I am gone. OK, what do you suppose this is? I will have to try to dig up some kind of prize, I suppose. Ah, here it is! I have a keychain that I won at a Blackboard conference. When you press a button (and hold your mouth just right) a little blue light comes on. Classy!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekend Words G

What! The weekend is here already!? Ah, I delight in Friday. This looks like a busy weekend for us, but we get to see some old friends. (Yes, because we are contemporaries, they are old friends.) Time for some words.

GALLIMAUFRY [gah-lee-MO-free]
I can hear the protests now: "That's not right! It's the name of your blog." So it is, so it is. And you believe you know what it means because it must be a miscellany, right? Well, do you know the source of the word? In fact it means "a stew" and the word comes from French. Ironically, the "galli" part of it does not seem to come from the Latin name for France (Gaul; cf. gallicanism). In fact no one seems to know where the old French word "galimaufre" came from. I will do more research, perhaps while consuming stew.
The old French word galimafrée first appeared in literature at the end of the fourteenth century. Though the origin is obscure, it likely comes from a couple of Picard words: galer meaning "to have fun" and mafrer meaning "to eat a lot." Imagine a scene in which a cook brings out a steaming cauldron of bubbling stew and proclaims "Galez! Mafrez!" Pronounced gah-LAY, ma-FRAY, it would translate roughly as "Have fun! Gorge yourselves!" So apprently in Picardy during the Middle Ages, people amused themselves by eating lots of stew or gallimaufry.

GALACTOPHAGE [guh-LAC-to-fage]
This is the perfect word for addressing annoying children. Oh, sure, you could say "rug-rat" or "ankle-biter," but they have heard those terms before. This one simply means "milk drinker" but it has such a ring to it. For more confusion, address them as "ante-jentacular galactophages"; that means they drink milk before breakfast. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Googling images

Inspired by SpookyRach, I am going to list my Google findings. Place your cursor on the photo to see what it is a Google image of.
Where I was born

Where I live now

My name

Grandmother's name

Favorite food

Favorite drink

Favorite song

Favorite smell

Wow, this was a tedious post!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tikimonkey triumphs!

Well, that's what I get for advertizing my blog to the family. My very own son, Tikimonkey, drew on his childhood memories of playing with this piggy bank. It came from the bank where my father worked for about 35 years. There is no date on it, but I reckon it is about forty-five years old. The label on the side advises "Shoot your Savings" . . .to Lubbock National Bank "The Bank for Kids." The spaceship is named KU 232 and the little red plane on top is pulled back to launch the coin. Releasing the spring fires the coin into the moon. Unfortunately, I have lost the key and there are several coins inside. Maybe a rare silver dollar or something (yeah, right). So, now, Tikimonkey, since you already have many original paintings and you have access to the cookie recipe, what will your prize be? Hmmm, gotta think about that. Anybody have any suggestions?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What in the world?

Ah, Sunday afternoon! After a pleasant lunch with friends, Cat and I had our minds made up to work in the yard. Right after reading the Sunday paper. And working the crossword puzzle. But, wouldn't you know it, the skies darkened and it starting raining! What a shame. Guess we will have to put off digging grass out of the iris bed until later. Maybe April.

Looks sinister, don't you thinkInspired by Jonboy's phenomenal success last week, I am encouraged to post a new "watzat?" for your viewing pleasure. As before, this is an item residing in my study. I've had it for a long time and you may have one, too. So let's file those guesses. The winner, should there be one, will receive a high-quality photo of a watercolor painting suitable for printing as the face of a greeting card. I'm thinking a floral scene would be best.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Weekend words F

Have you made the cookies yet? OK, here are two entries in the WW series.

    I nearly used this one incorrectly a couple of days ago. I had already typed it into a discussion board response and then thought perhaps I should look it up just to be certain. Turns out I was looking for a different shade of meaning. The idea that I had intended to convey was that of sermonizing, ranting on, riding a hobby horse, expressing oneself freely and at length, though not bloviating (q.v.) because there was no negative connotation intended. "Fulminate" seemed to be the right word, but it wasn't. It comes from a Latin word meaning "thunderbolt" and conveys the idea of bursting destructively on the scene. When applied to speech, it suggests a vividly explosive denunciation. I would advise steering clear of fulmination. It is followed either by profound apology or lingering guilt, or maybe both.

    Now to a less somber word. Do you know who Anna Quindlen is? She writes editorials for Newsweek about once a month. Her writing is perceptive, articulate, and righteous. Reminds me of an Old Testament prophet, combining Hosea's passion with Amos's eloquence. A couple of months ago when Cat and I went to California for a wedding, we were wandering through a bookstore with our two sons and their wives. It was interesting to see which books attracted each of us. One daughter-in-law got the giggles looking at a picture book which poked fun at George W. Bush. The other looked for travel books featuring Southeast Asia. My eye was caught by an Anna Quindlen hardback. The price was marked down to $7.95 and that seemed like a bargain to me. When I was paying for it, the oldest daughter-in-law advised me that if I showed a university ID I could get a discount. What a surprise! The book only cost me a few cents less than seven dollars!
    When we got back to Texas, I started reading the book. It is a collection of essays. (I wanted so badly to describe the compendium with the word gallimaufry, but that implies disorder; and anas are confined to one subject.) There was a word which kept recurring of which I sensed the meaning because it comes from French. But my dictionary here at home doesn't have it listed (Must Buy New Dictionary). The word is FRISSON and it means a brief shudder of delight. You have experienced that, haven't you? Now you have a word for it, pronounced free-SOHn.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

And we have a winner!

Kenyan jaguar maskWow! In no time flat, Jonboy made a wildly improbable and completely accurate guess. The "What-is-it" is in fact a Kenyan ceremonial mask. It is a mask of a jaguar (NOT, SpookyRach, the "effigy of the great booger god"), carved out of wood. I made our bus stop at the market where I first saw this on our way back from Lake Nakuru. Everyone was grumpy, but I just had to have it. (Please note that the photo has not been digitally edited. It was just downloaded from my Fuji Finepix E550. I love this little camera.)

OK, well, I don't know if Jonboy wants the recipe, so I will just publish it here for all to see. This is a great cookie and the recipe is original to Cat and me.
Cream 1 cup Crisco with 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar, mixing in 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. salt. Beat in two eggs until creamy. Mix in 1 cup flour and 1 tsp. baking soda. Add 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chopped nuts, and 1 cup coconut. Now mix in 3 cups of oats. The dough will be pretty stiff. Place walnut-sized drops of dough on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned in a 325 degree oven. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to waxed paper. Makes about 4 dozen 3" diameter cookies. Mmmm, yummy!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What in the world?

Is it getting colder where you live? It's supposed to be in the forties tonight at my house. And my son sent photos from Australia where it is early Spring. The flowers are blooming in bright profusion. And here's a photo that he sent of a really weird bird. (Yes, that is my son's head.)

But that's not the mystery photo for the week. Once again, I offer you a snippet of a photo of something in my study. Once again, the prize for a correct identification will be the recipe for some fantastic crispy oatmeal cookies. So here we go. What do you think this is? And where did it come from?

Friday, September 30, 2005

And the winner is . . .

Nobody. Only two guessers and neither one hit the mark, although the comment about walrus tusks was the closest miss. Several years ago I bought Cat a big elephant for Christmas. Since she has been collecting elephants for quite some time, it seemed appropriate. She was less than thrilled. So the nearly three-foot-tall, leather-covered pachiderm stands in my study.
Sometimes I place my eyeglasses on his tusks. Often I put my little black pillow on his back. That's the pillow I put under my chin to keep my jaw from dropping open while I doze in my recliner. (If I open my mouth while sleeping, I snore.) He is both a decorative and useful beast of burden.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Weekend Words E

Still no winners on the photo ID. Well, I guess I will just have to reveal the item in the next posting. OK, on to vocabulary.

First of all, let's talk about EGREGIOUS. I like this word for several reasons, one of which is that it contains my son's name. It means "spectacularly bad," not just horrid, but sensationally so. It is based on the same root as gregarious which means "very sociable." Ain't that a kick? Just that little "e" at the beginning changes everything. (Well, I guess it changes "very thing" into "everything." ~stunned silence before the groan~). So tell your boss, especially if he is rather dim, that his new marketing plan is so egregious, it's beyond description. Go ahead, tell him. I'll just stand over here.

And now for ENORMITY which I almost never hear used properly. Most folks think this refers to the state of being enormous. Well, that's a miserable little third- or fourth-rate definition, certainly not the preferred definition. Essentially, the word means "atrociousness." So, feel free to rave about the enormity of Ethel's cubic zirconium. She'll be delighted and so will you.

(I sincerely hope, as with Uncle Shelby's ABZ book, that you do not follow all the instructions given.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Inspired by Captain Wow

There's another blogger whose writings I have tasted and whose idea I am going to use now. Her site is CaptainWow and she posts photos from her house interior. Below, you will find a photo from my house. Guess what it is. I will send my killer recipe for crispy oatmeal cookies to the first correct answerer.

Hint-it is in my study

Monday, September 26, 2005

Meme (again--see previous post)

Ha-ha-ha-ha! What an idiot I am! Oh, brother, sometimes I really cannot see past the trees. I have been reading in other people's posts the word "meme" and I promise, my first thought was that it referred to a language unit. When you study generative grammar (as I have) you run into a whole boodle of words that end with -eme. A phoneme is an irreducably small unit of sound. A tagmeme is the smallest meaningful unit of grammatical form. When I read "meme" I was pronouncing it as if it rhymed with "seem." It wasn't until I read Jonboy's post that I realized it was "me" + "me" because he spelled it "me-me." Good grief, I am such a dolt.

So, in recognition of my epiphany (no, that is not the E word for this weekend) and because a handful of naggers have requested it, here is my MEME.

Five things to do before dying:
• Win the bonus round in Wheel of Fortune.
• Sky dive, or at least hang-glide, over Hawai'i. Or Fiji, maybe. Or Tahiti.
• Spend time in Australia, and China, and Ireland (not necessarily in that order).
• See my grandchildren graduate from college. (Yes, I realize that they may not want to go to college. Or get married. Or lots of other things, but this is about me, right?)
• Finish painting the kitchen (really, this project has just dragged on too long.)

Five things I say most often:
• "Hello, Virtual Campus, this is David"
• "It's all my fault" (Please note that I only say this when I believe that it is NOT my fault. I am a guy.)
• "I love you"
• "I don't know. What do you want to eat?"
• "Amen"
(I asked Cat for help with this, but she said she doesn't listen to me half the time anyway.)

Five things I cannot do (I presume this means things that normal people can do but I can't--not flying by flapping my arms):
• Make a snap decision
• Smack bubble gum (you know, when you pop a bubble inside your mouth)
• Roll my "R" in Spanish
• See without my glasses
• Understand why God gave me such a wonderful life

Five things I can do:
• Spit very accurately
• Whistle while playing the guitar
• Teach
• Work crossword puzzles
• Make a fabulous chocolate mousse (I modified Julia's recipe)

Five things that attract me to other people:
• Integrity
• Modesty
• A keen sense of humor
• A willingness to learn
• Warm pecan pie

Five celebrity crushes:
• Juliette Binoche ("Chocolat")
• Jennifer Garner
• Julie Christy (about thirty years ago; not now)
• Liv Tyler
• Condaleezza Rice

Five people I would like to see do this:
Well, I would be interested in seeing my two sons and their wives, plus Cat, do this. But none of them blog.


I just wrote a long, thoughtful post and previewed it. Then I clicked the wrong button and lost the whole stinkin' thing! Grrrrr!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weekend Words D

A busy weekend for me is this one. It includes a two-hour roundtrip drive on Saturday for a conference and a five-hour one-way drive on Sunday for another conference. No rest for the wicked, I suppose. So, I will have to post my vocabulary entry early. Maybe I can take my Sunday nap on Saturday afternoon.


I ran across this word in my studies of church history. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was probably the bloodiest European war ever before we figured out how to do it up really big in the twentieth century. It started in Germany which, at the time, was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire (every term is ironic here). The Catholics and the Protestants were bunching up and spitting at each other, so you just know there had to be a fight brewing. When Ferdinand, cousin to the Emperor and staunch Catholic, was appointed king of Bavaria, he ran into a lot of opposition from the resident Protestants. One day a group of Bohemain Protestants appeared before the court asking for policy changes. When the king scoffed at them, they grabbed a couple of his advisors and threw them out the window. And that, my friends, is defenestration--throwing someone out a window. The Defenestration of Prague set off the Thirty Years' War.
So next time your kid or one of your students or a subordinate at work asks about the consequences of some infelicitous action, just intone gravely, "Denefenstration. Now." Of course, in West Texas where most buildings are single-story, that's not much of a threat. More humiliation than anything else. (BTW, the Prague advisors landed in a pile of garbage, so they suffered more humiliation than physical harm, too.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Weekend Words C

OK, already, it has been a busy weekend. I mean we had Cowboy Day today, so that meant a parade which mostly consisted of small business owners driving tractors or Kubotas or even riding lawn mowers shamelessly promoting their businesses by throwing candy to (or at) the sidewalk gawkers. The Wayland Band was good, but they were just marching to the drummers' cadence (there's a good C word) when they went by us. Oh, yeah, we both had to be there. Cat loves a parade, no matter how small. And she is such a purist that she refused to sit in a folding lawn chair to watch it. Nosirree-bob, you're supposed to sit on the curb if you feel like sitting. I sat in my folding chair on the sidewalk, out of range of the candy hurlers, thank you. And upwind of the smoker to my right. It's West Texas so there is wind.

Well, now to the word. I would like to say that it is CHOATE (KO-it) meaning "fully formed, complete, organized" since that would be the logical antonym of inchoate (q.v.). But inexplicably the word simply doesn't exist--except as the last name of a friend who pronounces it the way that it is spelled. So this week it will be CIRCUMBENDIBUS, a whimsical combination of Latin and English which means an odd way around. Use it when you have had to do things not strictly by the rules. "Had to use a circumbendibus on that one, I'm afraid." It's sort of like a circumlocution, which is saying something in a way that is less than direct. I have on occasion been suspected of circumlocution, but generally I am just trying to express the idea perfectly correctly. I know you will understand; I certainly do.

Oh, here's another C word that I used just today--COMESTIBLE. It just means something that you can eat. It is sort of a circumbendibus for "food."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Weekend Words B

What? Is it the weekend already? Wow, this week just blew by. It was very active at work and we have been sanding and painting the cabinets in our kitchen (ooh, I should post a photo!) at home, so I really haven't had a moment to ask myself, "Hmm, what am I going to do now?" But I know that you showed up today looking for vocabulary, so here is the second in the series:


This is a pretty new word (=neologism) that I came across on the internet. It means to speak excessively, often loudly, "unencumbered by the thought process," as Tom and Ray would say. You have all heard people bloviate; heck, you may have done it yourself sometimes. (I know I have.) A few weeks ago, I was gathered with the full-time religion faculty at my university. We had the task of coming up with measurable learning outcomes for our program. This got pretty tedious since some of the folks were railing against behaviorism and others were yearning to go play golf. But they still wouldn't accept my proposal: "The religion major will be able to bloviate endlessly on topics related to religion with sufficient effectiveness to thereby make a living off religion." Seems measurable to me.

Since B also stands for "blonde joke" I will pass on this one. A college guy has a date with a stunning blonde and decides to take her to a football game (hey, they get in free with their student IDs). It is the first time she has watched a football game all the way through, so on the way out of the stadium he asks her how she enjoyed it.
"Oh, the tight pants and the big muscles were great, but I don't understand all that fuss over 25 cents," she says. In response to his obvious mystification, she adds, "OK, at the beginning, they flip a coin and one side wins it. Then the rest of the time, everyone keeps yelling, 'Get the quarter back! Get the quarter back!' Helloooooo, it's just 25 cents!"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Weekend Words

Some of my blogger friends have taken to posting special series of posts on Fridays (you know who you are). I wondered what is interesting enough to me to do that sort of thing and it occurred to me that my fascination with words might just do the trick. I know at least 52 English words that are not generally used by the public, so a series on unusual words could easily last a year. Here's the first installment. I think I will do this alphabetically.

APROSEXIA (a-pro-SEK-see-uh)
Now that's a fun word to say, isn't it? Conjures up all sorts of images that have nothing to do with the word's meaning. Just think what they would say at the office in response to your casual comment, "Yes, I am doing a very hands-on study in the effects of aprosexia this afternoon. I'm afraid I won't be able to attend that On-the-job Safety meeting. It's a pity, but research does come first." What your colleagues would doubtless miss is that they would likely be doing the same thing, just in a different location. Aprosexia means the inability to concentrate. So the next time you suffer this disability, you will just have to excuse yourself with something like "I'm sorry but I get so aprosexic while eating chocolate." Hmm, that might be good for a box of Brach's from a secret admirer.

While we are at it, here's another word that begins with an "a" and ends with "xia": ataraxia (a-tuh-RAK-see-uh). This is a state of perfect tranquility. The adjective form is "ataraxic." Perhaps you will want to protect a friend's privacy by telling an erstwhile intruder, "Are you kidding me? You want to talk with her now? Don't you know how ataraxic she is at this time of the morning?"

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weird lights at night

OK, I promised to post a photo of Hong Kong night lights. I do have some pix that are clearer, but this one really looked mysterious. We were coming down a hill on a bus and we could see the buildings across the harbor. But of course the bus was bouncy, so that accounts for the wiggly lines.

Plumeria [frangipani]

Five years ago when we moved to West Texas from Hawai'i, we brought a thick, stubby stick with us. It was a plumeria branch, only four or five inches long. We set it in some moist potting soil and eventually it grew roots. For five years it has grown steadily in a big pot in our sun room, pushing out its big green leaves that drop off unceremoniously, leaving this spindly miniature tree. But now it is finally ready to bloom! We are so excited, Cat and I! The top photo was taken yesterday. The photo below shows two blossoms almost opening. This morning they were still tightly wrapped. So tomorrow, I hope that they will open up and release their beautiful smell. Thank you, God, for this gift.

Plumeria blooms opening

Scout the dog

Our son and daughter-in-law live in CA. They have become the people that they always hated: dogophiliacs. Their little dog Scout came home with them from the animal shelter all skinny and scared. Now he is getting pudgy and he loves to run around and jump. But when he has to take a bath, it is a reminder of the old days.
Is that a sad looking puppy or what?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Back from Hong Kong

Yeah, that's right, I went to Hong Kong. "So soon after Kenya?" you might ask. Yeah , the jet lag is killing me. My poor body doesn't know when to be awake and when to be asleep, kind of like SpookyRach, I guess. It was REALLY hot and humid. Cat and I went with the handbell choir from my church. We played about 8 concerts, some of which were outside. In the middle of the day. When it was REALLY hot and humid. (Did I mention that?) We were sweating in places that we didn't know had sweat glands. There were some unusual uses of antiperspirant, I can tell you. Even the bells sweated (see photo).
But we met some really wonderful people. Little kids wanted to ring the bells. One old man sat on the ground and clapped loudly. When the director was announcing the next song. (I suspect his soup was short a wonton or two, if you get my drift.) And then there was Kristen from Alabama who was there helping a church youth group and Ann the Philippina maid who came to see us often even though she lived an hour away by bus, train, and foot. All of us got gooosebumps when the congregation of the Kowloon International Baptist Church began singing "Shout to the Lord" while we were playing it. No one asked them to, they just felt that was the best thing to do. And they were right.
Next post I will put a photo of Hong Kong harbor or maybe the night market. Or maybe both.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Curious warthog

Here's a warthog gazing at Americans on safari. Perhaps he is stunned or fascinated by their hideous visages. We were entertained by his.

Out of Africa

Cat and I went to Kenya at the end of May and stayed through the middle of June. We were part of a team of fourteen from my church that went to help complete the construction of a building. The building is a residence for women students of the Kenya Baptist Theological College in Limuru.
None of us are professional tradesmen; we are just Americans, so when there is a task at hand, we ask, "How can I learn to do that?" That is not the Kenyan way. In Kenya, people do the work for which they are trained. A butcher with a stuck doorknob calls someone to fix it. He does not start meddling around with him screwdriver. So when our non-professional team arrived to work with fourteen Kenyan skilled laborers, it took some adjustment.They thought we were going to tell them what to do and we thought they would tell us what to do. Eventually we got past being deferential and began to enjoy learning from one another and joking with each other.
Francis, a devoted Christian, was the Kenyan foreman. Here's an example of his way with me (whom he addressed as "Bwana").
"Bwana David, it is getting late now; we are almost at the end of the day. I was going to suggest that you might spend your time working on the wardrobes rather than cutting this trim, because we can do that ourselves. But it is too late in the day to suggest that, so I will not suggest that you work on the wardrobes. Is that OK?" By this Francis was telling me that he would much prefer me to complete the wardrobes, but he did not want to boss me around. I promptly attended to the wardrobes.
I will have more to say about the Kenya trip. Let me close this entry with the observation that the Kenyan workers gathered each morning before the start of the day to stand in a circle holding hands and to pray. They thanked God that he had given them the opportunity to work on this building. They prayed that they would carry out their responsibilities with integrity. They prayed for their brothers and sisters from America who had come all this way to work together with them. I do not doubt that they are praying for us now that we have returned. They know what prayer is about.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Here is a little goose family living in Arlington Heights IL. I took the photo from a parking lot. Posted by Hello

Bigger than Oprah

I made a trip to Chicago last week for a conference. The conference wasn't actually in Chicago, but in a suburb about 20 miles from the airport (ORD). I had extra time, and being a Texan, I decided to drive around. I took Golf Road east until I got to Lake Michigan. It was cold, so I wasn't even tempted to go swimming. That's a mighty big lake. It surprised me how green the area was. Even in Chicago itself there were parks and residential areas with wonderful grass. I stopped at a large Catholic cemetary (with huge gravestones and monuments) to take some photos for my friend Rachel (she's sort of weird). And there were geese with little goslings walking around near a shopping mall. I will add that photo to this post. I didn't really think I would like Chicago, but it was nice. Sometimes you have to experience things before you make judgments, huh?

Monday, April 18, 2005


Here is a phenomenon that has been taking place recently. Last Spring my son Greg was surprised, then annoyed, by the actions of a robin which posted itself on the fence opposite the study window. As Greg worked on the computer, the bird would fly at the window, striking it with his feet in the apparent attempt to land on the gridwork (a plastic piece sandwiched between two panes). This happened repeatedly throughout the day. In an effort to dissuade the bird from striking the window, I placed a small platform at the base of the window. At least it would be a place for the bird to land. Notwithstanding, the bird kept up his antics for several weeks, to Greg's chagrin.

This Spring a robin is repeating this action. Is it the same one? How could it possibly be another? I stand at the window and watch as he preens himself, balancing on one leg on the fence. Then here he comes, fluttering against the window, dropping to the platform. He gives me a look, hops about face, pauses, and returns to the fence. He knows I am here. He never succeeds in landing on the grillwork. And yet, there he is again flapping, scratching, recuperating, and off again. Why does he keep doing it?

In March, I played the lead role in Horton Foote's play The Young Man from Atlanta. The character I played has done the same thing. He made a decision as a young man that he would measure success by the accumulation of wealth and possessions. Despite all the failures that come his way, despite his reluctant awareness of having failed, he will not change; indeed he seems incapable of it. The play was rather unsatisfying for the audience, because they want for the characters to act on their observations. The audience would love for the main character to say to his wife, "Honey, I am so sorry for what I have done. Let's start fresh." But his last line, delivered while his bawling wife clings to him and he chokes back his tears and anger, is "Everything's going to be all right." And you know that there is no way that everything will be all right, because nothing is going to change and the ship is sinking.

A friend of mine was pondering the question of whether a truly evil person could really repent. His observation was that the further one pursues a path, the harder it is to choose another path. Every step to the left makes a step to the right more difficult. Each decision trims away the options for other directions. It is not that the evil person cannot repent; it is just so very much harder the further he has gone towards evil.

The decisions of youth are not entirely irreversible; neither are they inconsequential. (The bird just hit the window again.)