Idealism Takes A Hit

Occasionally I read an article posted on POCKET, historical articles or some journalist’s take on a recent news story. I’ve read about the newest wave of CENSORSHIP, an issue that often boils down to an idealistic approach versus a realistic one. I read about one young man who responded to the many PROTESTS and CONSPIRACY THEORIES by starting his own. Others said, “Hey, why not?” and the crazy thing went viral.

I’ve heard about the social upheaval massive immigration has caused in Texas. Last night I started reading J D Vance’s HILLBILLY ELEGY, describing the “hollowing out” and desperate poverty in the US Midwest — “the Rust Belt.” All this input rattling around in my mind, plus my own experience, has produced cogitations I’m going to share in several upcoming posts. Starting with…

Idealism In a Real World

A few years after we were married we were discussing a politician of our day and my husband commented, “He’s too much of an idealist. I’d rather see a crook elected to run the country than an idealist.”

I understood where he was coming from. A crook usually has a good handle on how things really work. A dreamer who isn’t facing reality can be dangerous when handed the reins. Now, with almost fifty years of practical observations as well as a keen interest in history, I understand that sentiment so much better. Especially after I read a number of accounts of how the ultimate idealism, PROHIBITION, worked, especially in the US.

An elderly friend once told me about Nellie McClung’s sad observation on being hit by reality. McClung (1873-1951) was one of Canada’s original suffragettes and women writers. She worked hard to get the vote for women; once women had the vote she was elected to the Alberta Legislature. Being all for home and family, and opposed to the demon drink that destroyed homes and left wives and families destitute, she was totally in support of Prohibition.

The sad remark she made in her old age, according to my friend, was: “We thought when women got the vote, we’d outlaw liquor. But we never thought we’d see the day when women would take to drinking!”

I could have told her that. When I was young most of the women I knew drank. My own mother, according to my sisters, “spent half her life in the beer parlour.” My younger sister, Donna, unsuccessfully fought a lifelong battle with alcohol, though it was finally a drug overdose that took her out. Always a feisty kid, I think she would have loved a swig of bootleg booze.

Evangelical Christians have always leaned heavily toward idealism, thinking they know what’s good for the rest of the country. But there’s a whole ‘nother world in their midst – my own non-religious people – that Protestant Evangelicals haven’t really been able to acknowledge. And when those citizens rise up and start following their inclinations, idealism will crash.

Bootleg booze, rum-runners, organized crime: the Christian Women’s Temperance League never foresaw how these would flourish.

Now for a secular example…

Breast-feeding Is A Natural Act

Definitely it is. However, there’s a reason why North American women have been hesitant – some may say “inhibited” – from breast-feeding openly in public places. In fact, one weekend in Saskatoon a group of zealous women set up a display in the Midtown Mall promoting the natural act of breast-feeding. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” they claimed, “Nursing a baby should be allowed openly anywhere with no embarrassment or legal questions.”

In an ideal world, it would work. In this awfully real world…

In the course of shopping, I passed by their display several times. They’d set up a prominent booth and hung huge posters above it showing mothers nursing their babies. Lots of posters and pamphlets displayed around the booth. But reality lingered in the shadows. Each time I noticed a number of fascinated men strolling, or lingering by walls and in corners, so obviously drinking in the visual stimulation.

Yeah, it’s awful – but are you surprised? In a society where respect for women, consideration for motherhood, respect and decency in general, ran the show, this blatant display of lechery wouldn’t be. Pardon me, but I hope those ladies so inspired by their rosy ideals had their eyes opened to the reality of lust. Nursing openly may work in a different, more accustomed, less sex-focused society. But in ours, I believe this peeping is something nursing mothers in our society will deal with if they start to bare it all in public places.

Goals and ideals are great, but a person — especially a leader — needs a clear understanding of what will actually work in our imperfect world.

A Great Book Free This Weekend

Today I’m sharing the love for a good book. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially World War II stories with a touch of romance, you’ll want to read Dan Walsh’s books. He’s done a lot of research on WW II, especially about the US involvement and German activity in the US. Dan has written several books with this setting as a back drop to an amazing tale.

This story starts out in the present, as a budding writer inherits his grandfather’s home and discovers a manuscript his grandfather left for him to find. As he reads his grandfather’s own history, he’s taken back to the early days of WWII and a subversive plot carried out by the Germans in the US.

Free today and tomorrow at your Amazon store.

Family Then & Now

It’s a lovely sunny day today; the temp started at -16 this morning and has climbed to -11 C. Which doesn’t sound awfully warm, but the sun is condensing our banks of snow and putting a hard crust on the surface. Forecast for tomorrow is +1 C; Monday -10. Exactly the kind of up-and-down temps we’ve been having so far this year.

I talked to my sister Wilma last night; still no definite plans for our sister Donna’s burial and the family get together for a Celebration of Life. A lot depends on what sentence the judge will hand out to her youngest son when his court case comes up in a few weeks. The other boys definitely want to wait until he can be there. They’ve no idea what he’s charged with, so are quite much in the dark as to how long he’ll be in custody.

Because a few people in my family have expressed interest in our history, I’ve been posting on the Vance-Turner Connect blog again. Starting out with some of the aspects — and trials — of doing family research. Like the duplication of names. On my latest post I used the heading, Joseph the son of Joseph the son of Joseph. That’s exactly how it was: the oldest children were named after the grandparents, then the uncles & aunts. Then to sort them all out…

It’s a good thing, yet a danger, that subscribers to a genealogy program like Ancestry or MyHeritage can access other genealogists’ family trees and borrow research. I’ve learned that you MUST be very careful to double check before you import data or you can get really mixed up. Birth & baptism registrations, marriage certificates, census records, all help a lot re: whose child is this.

Some researcher has listed an Alexander in our family tree, as the youngest brother of our gr-gr-grandfather, but the birth registration says his father was Robert, not David. I discovered yesterday that someone lists gr-gr-grandfather as Joseph Collville Vance — someone he never was — and go from there to add descendants our gr-gr-grand never had. Grafting their branch onto the wrong tree, you might say. Now a few others have copied that researcher’s error, skewing all their data as well.

For me, following all these lines is like doing a jigsaw puzzles, and I enjoy putting them together. I cooked supper at the Senior’s home last night and one couple were working on a 1000-piece puzzle — a painting of the Last Supper. They were having a hard time getting it together. I have younger eyes, also a very keen sense of color and can detect slight differences between two shades of, say, sky blue, gray or creamy marble, so I helped them and we got quite a bit put together before I left.

Well, enough rambling. I’m doing a bit bunch of laundry today and best get back to it. 🙂

Where Do You Hide When the Long Ships Come?

More Morning Musings

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading the history of the British Isles, mainly the border country between Scotland and England — and it has been a long a bloody story. Invasions by the Roman army, the Irish kings, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, as well wars and raids between a long list of local tribes like the Picts and the Scotti. The original Celts slaughtered or driven into Wales, Ireland, and Brittany.

Over time it seems these mini-kingdoms came to some uneasy settlement, but then came the Vikings. The Danes, or Norsemen. Dozens of long ships would appear in the firth one morning…

Image by saramarses — Pixabay

I never knew the Vikings were so business-like in their enterprise. They knew where to find the richest plunder – the silver, gold, and jewels – so they hit the monasteries and churches. They knew the best time to raid was during some saint’s feast day, when crowds gathered to celebrate, bringing their offerings to the priests. Not only did the raiders grab the loot, but they captured slaves to be sold abroad. Apparently the slave trade was a hefty part of the Vikings’ business.

Considering how invaders captured people and sold them in Ireland, Europe, and even to the Mediterranean and Muslim lands, what a wild mixture the European gene pool must have become!

So how did the people of the British Isles cope with all of this? Letting my imagination run, I ask, “Where did they hide when the long ships appeared in the Solway Firth? Did they find caves in the hills? Did they hide themselves in a ditch or pit?

I can’t imagine how they coped emotionally, seeing their defenders –husbands and sons– slaughtered, their homes and churches plundered, their children and youths carried off to be sold as slaves? I must admit that whatever troubles this Corona virus invasion has brought to our world, I still live in a very safe place.

Danish invaders started moving inland, settling, and eventually controlled what are now the shires of Derby, Leichester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. One historian takes a generous view of the Danes’ arrival. While he mentions the continuing Viking raids along the coasts, he feels England not only gained a richer genetic heritage, but being under Danish rule helped make England a sea-faring nation. Perhaps, but I doubt folks living through those days saw things that way.

Do you think maybe two hundred years from now some historian will write about our era and say how the Corona virus was good for us, it brought about this and that? Being smack in the middle of the menace, though, we’re not seeing it in such an open-minded way. I’ll just be glad when this virus is history – and we can ditch these masks.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: DITCH

Shires and Such

Hello again. Here I am, sitting at my desk and working on my newly updated and fully functioning PC. Tra la la! But it wasn’t cheap. Anyway, I can access both my G-mail accounts now and the hard drive has had an upgrade that speeds it up a lot. So I’ve decided to give it a real test by posting tonight, something for my readers who love words and their etymology. I’ve been learning a few new ones myself.

I’ve been working my way through this book about the old Scottish and border kingdoms, from the earliest traceable Celtic people to the invading Roman legions, marauding Britons, Saxons, Jutes, Angles. There’s a lot of military history detailing all the cross-border warfare that went on amongst the kingdoms of northern England and all these invaders. I learned that Wales isn’t at all the local name; and they don’t refer to the rest of England as such. The Welsh word for England means “the lost lands.” With good reason!

He mentions well known figures like the victorious Authur — Moffat thinks he was a general rather than a king — and Merlin. He gives highlights of better-known Northumbrian rulers like Aedan, Aethelfrith, Edwin, Owen. He also details the expansion of the Catholic church in England. Thankfully the ancients weren’t illiterate and a few of them, such as the priest Bede, did set down the facts they’d seen or heard, so that a rough picture can be drawn.

The Faded Map: Lost Kingdoms of Scotland by [Alistair Moffat]
This author has done a thorough research on his subject.

As I read, I learned the origin of the word SHERIFF. This was once two words: SHIRE REEVEthe administrator of a royal shire. According to Lexico the Old English word scirgerefa. is composed of the Old English scīr ;‘care, official charge, county’, Germanic in origin, and the OE refa. In English and Welsh counties, the SHERIFF is the chief executive officer of the Crown, having various administrative and judicial functions. Some English towns still have a SHERIFF, an honorary officer elected annually. In Scotland a SHERIFF is a judge.

Another thing I learned concerns the area where my ancestors came from: Penninghame in Gallowayshire. Ham is the old English word for home, the “ing” denoting beside. So Penninghame are the homes beside the Penn. If I knew the topography of southwest Scotland I’d know what that means. 🙂 And nearby KIRKCUDBRIGHT is named after St Cuthbert, famous missionary-monk and later leader of the early Northumbrian Church. Kirk is church, so, Saint Cuthbert’s Church. You need to hear a local pronounce the district name, Kirkcudbrightshire — I’ve been told it doesn’t sound anything like it’s spelled. 🙂

And that’s enough meandering in the murk of word origins. It’s great to be back at my old desk, though. Take care everyone.

Feeling Oorie on a Lowering Day

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was OORIE – Also spelled OURIE, says Lexico.

Never heard of it, but it’s supposedly a word Robert Burns used in one of his poems. Since I think a lot of Bobby Burns, I won’t knock it. I frequently quote his ”The best-laid plans of mice and man gang oft aglay.” The story of my life, it seems. 😉

Lexico’s definition of OORIE: dismal, gloomy, cheerless, miserable (as a result of cold, sickness) Nowadays we’d say, “I’m feeling rotten.”

Yesterday I was definitely feeling OORIE. At times my brain seems to be firing neurons at random, which makes every task feel overwhelming and the general outlook gloomy. Haven’t painted for six weeks. Nor written much; maybe I should give up blogging indefinitely? It didn’t help that I lost my car keys the day before.

We had our belated Christmas dinner with our children and grands on Sunday. Chewing on a caramel candy after dinner, the best-laid plans of mice and man went aglay when I bit on something hard – which turned out to be a piece of my back molar. Leaving a jagged hole for my tongue to rasp against. On Wed I was finally able to get to my dentist and have that smoothed down to bearable and “let’s leave well enough alone for now.

Bob’s car key clicker (automatic door opening button) wasn’t working well, so at one stop I gave him my keys. He gave them back once we were in the car and I must have put them in my coat pocket, thinking he’d need them again. We went to the food court at a mall for dinner. Walking out afterward, I couldn’t find my keys. Went back to our table. Nope. Emptied my purse. Nope. Checked the car floor. Nope. Phoned the mall lost & found. Nope. They’d gone aglay big time.

Today feels more hopeful, in spite of a grey sky. For one thing, it’s warmed up a lot – relatively speaking. It was -33 yesterday, only -23 this morning, and now, at 2 pm, the temp reads -18. Our cats are even wanting to step outside, where yesterday the frosty breath of winter discouraged them as soon as the door was opened a crack.

I also woke up this morning with a cheerful chorus running through my mind: “I want to leave this things behind me, want to climb to higher ground…” Great plan, don’t you think?

Some fine snow again today. Our grandson plowed our driveway for the second time this week. We wanted snow – now we’re getting it — almost daily since Christmas Eve.

Speaking of the weather brings to mind the word LOWERING. With the long oh sound (as in go), lowering means coming down; to lower something is to put it down. But with the ow sound as in flour, we get the second definition:

Lowering, also spelled louring, means dark and threatening. Cloudy, hazy, heavy, overcast. At least I’ve only ever seen it referring to dark menacing clouds.

Which makes me wonder if LOUR and OURIE spring from the same linguistic fount.

And then there’s GLOWERING, again with the ou as in flour.
An angry or brooding look. To look or stare with sullen annoyance.

These words all came into England from Scotland – so might they be cousins? The word GLOWREN has been in use in Scotland since the late Middle Ages. Originally referring to staring intently or in amazement, the meaning shifted to stares of annoyance or anger rather than astonishment.

Beyond that, etymologists have determined that glower is a distant relative of Middle Low-German glūren, which means to be overcast, and of the Middle Dutch gloeren, meaning to leer — the origin of our word GLARE.