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?