Category Archives: Words

Turn of Phrase

On this date in the year 600, Pope Gregory the Great decreed that the proper thing to say when someone sneezed was “God bless you”. I told this to a friend, a practicing  Catholic, who said ” Who died and put him in charge!? Why are we still listening to him? We should find something new to say!” I was at a loss for her being somewhat offended by Pope Gregory, but I found her response delightful.

What are some of your favorite (or not so favorite turns of phrase)?  Make up a new one if you can.

 

What’s in a Name?

New seed catalog time has come, and Husband and I chose and ordered our selections for this year’s garden.  Husband always researches the varieties carefully and chooses based on length of growing season, disease resistance, past successes, and past failures. I don’t think he ever chooses based on the name of the variety. It seems like a lot of effort goes into finding catchy names to entice us to buy one variety over another.

I wonder how they arrive at the names?  I like it when a plant is named for a person-Big Jim Peppers  or Queen Elizabeth Hybrid Tea Roses.  Some names speak to productivity, such as Mortgage Lifter tomatoes or Lazy Housewife pole beans.   Why, though, would you name a variety of celeriac Mars? There isn’t anything particularly warlike about that humble root vegetable. Flower names get pretty fanciful, such as Double Scoop Bubble Gum Echinacea.

I wondered what names Baboons could come up with if they were to name some plants, so that is today’s challenge.

Come up with some clever names for varieties of flowers,  trees, vegetables, shrubs, or even  weeds  I will get us started with my choice of Dead Man Walking American Elm.

Reading Gems

Every now and then when I’m at the library, I find bookmarks made by kids. In addition to the fact that I always needs a bookmark, these creations are delightful.  Markers, stickers, ribbons, misspelled words – I love them and usually take one home with me.

One that I picked up last week has a quote on it. “No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure.”  L. Frank Baum

I started to think that there are quite a few quotes that would be good for bookmarks. Here are a couple more that I like:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”―Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis

Do you have a favorite quote about reading?

Jurassic Coincidence

Last summer I read a string of books that I didn’t enjoy – all from my self-imposed “lists”. I beat myself up for a bit and then went to the library website and typed in “dragon”.  All kinds of books came up, from all the Ann McCaffrey books to The Black Dragon River (a book on a journey down the Amur River) and then Dragon’s Teeth by Michael Crichton.  I’d never read anything  by Crichton (not sure how I managed that) so I put it on my waitlist.  This was the book that his wife found among his papers and published posthumously.

I just finished it and really enjoyed it. The postscript shed light on which characters were fictional and which were historic.  Charles Marsh and Edward Cope were real people – famous in paleontology for their 19th century rivalry.

Fast forward 24 hours. I just started A Brief History of Almost Everything by Bill Bryson (about the only Bryson I haven’t read yet – but that’s another blog).  As I got to Chapter Three, suddenly he is talking about Marsh and Cope and their rivalry.

I understand in my head that coincidence is just coincidence, but sometimes in my heart I wonder how I can go six decades and never discover something, then within a day or so, run across it again. And we’ve talked about it here before – including pointing out that it is common enough that there is a phrase for this – Baader Meinhof.  We’ve even put this phrase in our Baboon Glossary.

But it still amazes me when it happens.

Any coincidences in your life lately?

Poetic Lament

There are many sad things going on these days. Unfortunately as icons fall, some of their good works fall with them.  I have read Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on a daily basis for years.  Almost all of the poetry I read is inspired by the Almanac – either more poems by the featured poet or work of others mentioned in the “on this day” section.

When I heard the news about Garrison in November, the first thing I did was to search online to see if the archives were still around, hoping the APM (American Public Media) would publish them on their own. I’ve checked every week since then.  Nothing.  I even talked to Dale to see if he knew whether Garrison was going to continue on another platform.  Probably not.

So now I’m officially in mourning. I love poetry and I’m struggling to figure out where to get my poetry fix these days. I’m know there’s lots of poetry out there but the Almanac was such a perfect setting for me that I’m thinking that my world from here on in will just be a little sadder for the loss of it.

Two questions today:
Is there a product you’ve had to learn to live without?
Where do you recommend I go for my poetry fix?”

How to choose…Post Script

I received permission from Robert Bly’s wife Ruth to post the poems I had chosen for my book club, the ones Renee suggested we not post because of not having permission.  But with permission, she suggested I share them now.  So…here they are:

Or Robert’s The Dark Autumn Nights…?

Imagination is the door to the raven’s house, so we are

Already blessed! The one nail that fell from the shoe

Lit the way for Newton to get home from the Fair.

Last night I heard a thousand holy women

And a thousand holy men apologize at midnight

Because there was too much triumph in their voices.

Those lovers, skinny and badly dressed, hated

By parents, did the work; all through the Middle Ages,

It was the lovers who kept the door open to heaven.

Walking home, we become distracted whenever

We pass apple orchards. We are still eating fruit

Left on the ground the night Adam was born.

St. John of the Cross heard an Arab love poem

Through the bars and began his poem. In Nevada it was

Always the falling horse that discovered the mine.

Robert, you know well how much substance can be

Wasted by lovers, but I say, Blessings on those

Who go home through the dark autumn nights.

 

I love the tiny book, Four Ramages, with illustrations & graphics by Barbara LaRue King.

Grief lies close to the roots of laughter.

Both love the cabin open to the traveller,

the ocean apple wrapped in its own leaves.

How can I be close to you if I am not sad?

There is a gladness in the not-caring

of the bear’s cabin; and in the gravity

that makes the stone laugh down the mountain.

The animal pads where no one walks.

Meanwhile, I found my Yeats collection and further inspired by Barbara in Rivertown, I also found “Now We Are Six” by A A Milne…and decided to do “Down by the Sally Gardens” and “He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace” by Yeats; “Wheezles and Sneezles” by Milne. But I still love Bly’s poems…

 

PS…I just changed my mind again, well, added one (I hope), “King John Was Not A Good Man” by Milne because it is about Christmas.

Enough of my favorites, please share more of yours.

Books: Theory Number 1

Today’s post comes from NorthShorer (Clyde).

I lifted the following from my second novel:

He took out the two novels, Jon Hassler’s Simon’s Night and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, which he brought to occupy the many hours he would pass in the chair. “Hulger, maybe truth about old age is best told in fiction.”

Hulger held his pout; his tail still said J’accuse.

Clair had read both books, Simon’s Night a few times. He brought them for their shared theme of old people who have drifted out of the central river current into the slack water. Dropping both books onto the rock, he opened his journal to write. “Fiction comes in four categories:

1) Stories of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things to face extraordinary challenges, which seems to be the grist of most current movies.

2) Extraordinary people facing ordinary challenges.

3) Ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges, which Hitchcock preferred.

4) Ordinary people facing ordinary challenges, which I prefer, but which is not in fashion in popular fiction.”

Assuming this is proper grist for your thoughts, which type(s) do you read most often?