End of an Era

Good afternoon, everyone.

Here I stand on the tail-tip of August, looking into September and watching the odd yellow leaf drift down. I should write one more blog post before the month is up. Call it a farewell to summer.

I can hardly believe that it’s almost September and the hummingbirds are still with us! Yesterday there was only one, but we’re seeing two around this morning. But then, the nights have been warmer than they often are, so maybe less of a warning to them that it’s time to head south. I do enjoy seeing the little scrappers and will miss them. A couple of orioles were here at our feeder last week, but they’ve obviously left already.

I don’t know just why I’ve been so lazy about writing and posting this month. I’ve got lots of things I want to write about, but for some reason writing hasn’t happened much this summer. A few days ago I got a hinting sort of e-mail from Word Press, something about maintaining an upbeat blog and faithful readers by posting regularly. It offered a few suggestions for things to write about. I’ve gotten this before, and wonder if they have a little widget in their system that automatically fires this e-mail off to slackers? “Blip. This person hasn’t posted for a week. Send reminder. Ping.”

In today’s lingo you’d say I have “time management issues.” I’ve been doing some online genealogical research this past week, plus some sewing, reading, bird-watching. We took a day last week to visit a sort-of relative in Regina, and took our granddaughters along to visit the natural history museum there. That trip led me to dig into the Forsyth genealogy; though I’m not a Forsyth myself I call them cousins. The uncle and aunt who raised me, whom I called Mom & Dad since I was a toddler, were Fred & Myrtle Forsyth. Grandpa Forsyth, an orphaned young miner from Glasgow, Scotland, came to Canada in 1902.

I’m feeling a general lack of energy lately and intend to make some changes health-wise this coming month. I just read an article on Pocket about a lady who decided to drink a gallon of water every day and how it helped her general well being. Click here to read. I do have a big glass of water first thing every morning, as I have to take my thyroid med…so that’s one positive. But mainly I need to establish some inflexible writing habits. Perhaps commit to following one of the many daily prompts?

One day I was on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary site and happened on lists of words that first appeared in print back in… and there were a number of dates. I was quite surprised at all the modern-sounding words that were around already in the 1600s. Here are some from 1650:

additive,   bizarre
demagogue,  empower/ment
infatuation,  instantaneous
microscope,  non-compliance
plausibility,  ostracize
self-deception,  witticism

Even as early as 1550 you might call someone over-scrupulous, a good communicator, a people-pleaser, or a blockhead. You could commend the duke’s epicurian tastes or complain about hazardous waste in the village, fill out a ballot or send your little Goldilocks to public school, where he may complain about the brutality of his caliginous teacher.

Modern English has been around a long time!

Beachcomber Finds

Merriam-Webster’s word for today is Aggregate

Which they define as:

Formed by the collection of units or particles into a body, mass, or amount:
such as a clustered in a dense mass or head, an aggregate flower
Formed from several separate ovaries of a single flower, as aggregate fruit
Composed of mineral crystals of one or more kinds, or of mineral rock fragments

Taking all units as a whole, as in aggregate sales

It’s quite closely related to conglomerate, defined as:
made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds
Synonyms: full amount, sum total, totality, collection, as a whole, the lion’s share, the whole kit and caboodle.
Beach sandals
Image courtesy of Chezbeate at Pixabay.

Daisy Declines Deficit

Even though I have other pressing occupations this morning, I had this urge to respond to Judy’s latest word-wise post. READ IT HERE.

Daisy desired asseverations of imperishable affection.
He preferred the pedestrian expression, “I’m half crazy over the love of you.”

She dreamed of a splendid carriage and all the appurtenances of fashion that would turn her friends green.
He offered a more pedestrian transportation:
“You’ll look sweet upon the seat
of a bicycle built for two.”

She dreamed of daily domestic help: a butler, housekeeper and chef, perhaps under the governance of a majordomo.
He offered her romance, affection, and a life of cooking, cleaning, scrubbing clothes on a washboard, and the floors on her knees.

Would she hazard all on the precariousness of his obligingly gaining a fortune straightaway and supplying her with all the accouterments of opulence she so desired? Or would she forsake this avenue of amelioration, abandoning all hope of Harry’s imminent rise to fame and fortune?

Briefly contemplating all the prospects, she elucidates her position thus:
“I’ll be switched, if I get hitched,
On a bicycle built for two!”

On A Bicycle Built for Two songwriters: Nat King Cole and Steve Gillette

New Words Learned

Over the Christmas holidays I dug out my dictionary and learned a few new words. The first was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day a couple of weeks ago. The second is the word I’d have used.

Coruscate

1 : to give off or reflect light in bright beams or flashes : sparkle
2 : to be brilliant or showy in technique or style

Scintillate

1 : to emit sparks : spark
2 : to emit quick flashes; sparkle (stars scintillate in the sky)
3. to throw off, as a spark or as sparkling flashes (scintillate witticisms)

Here’s tale I wrote to use my new word:

Lacey stood by the entry to the restaurant and smiled as her new friend walked through the door.

“Hope you haven’t been waiting long?”

“No, just got here.” Lacey turned as the hostess came toward them. “We’re ready to be seated now.”

She and the other single working girl had seen each other different times at this downtown café, each one dining alone. One day when the two of them arrived at the same time, Lacey asked the other girl if she’d like to share a table. It was a savvy move on her part; the two hit it off well.

She learned that the young woman’s name was Sarina and she worked at an office building down the block from Lacey. They were almost the same age, both came from small towns to find a job in the city. Each of them enjoyed reading historical mysteries, so were soon comparing notes about their favourite authors and suggestion books for the other. When they parted they agreed to meet every Monday for lunch; today was their third time.

They followed their hostess and she seated them at table right next to a large group. Their orders were quickly taken and they had a scintillating conversation about office politics as they waited for their food.

At first the clank of cutlery and murmurs of conversation were all they heard from the next table, but after those dinners were done and their plates were cleared away, they started making witty remarks that made Lacey and Sarina grin. They caught on that it was one fellow’s thirtieth birthday and he proved himself good at repartee as the various remarks were fired at him.

His friends were teasing him about “soon needing a cane, having dentures fitted, buying a toupee” and such. When he noticed Lacey and Sarina chuckling over one comment, he winked at them and told everyone his eyesight hadn’t dimmed yet. He could still appreciate beauty when he saw it.

Someone suggested they’d seen the one beauty before. A few details were exchanged and Lacey was excited to learn that this group of people worked for an insurance company three floors above her office and one of the women rode the same bus to work.

A few minutes later two waiters came with dessert plates and a third followed, carrying a huge piece of cake with a sparkler coruscating on the top. At a signal everyone began to sing “Happy Birthday.” Lacey and Sarina joined in, happy to enjoy a moment of camaraderie with the unknown group.

Before they left, Lacey invited her fellow bus rider to join them for lunch next Monday. Sarina seconded the offer after she noticed a paperback poking out of the other woman’s purse. Another historical mysteries reader.

Wars, Words and Testy Judges

Back in the mists of ancient history a Norman army from France crossed the English Channel and battled the Anglo kings at Hastings.

Back then the Brits lacked a BBC and a Winston Churchill to rally the troops with:
“We’ll fight them at sea and we’ll fight them on land; we’ll fight them in the fields and we’ll fight them in the ditches…etc. We will never surrender.” In those days of poor communications one doubts there was any kind of significant country-wide clarion call of “Rally the troops!

Consequently the Normans took control of England. Lacking a successful counter attack and rout by the inhabitants, they claimed everything, grabbed all the castles, fortresses and whatever other good stuff they spied— as invaders are wont to do. They settled down to enjoy the spoils and make the Anglo-Saxons work for them.

They brought with them many weapons of war — and their language. There began at this point a steady trickle of French into the Saxonized English of the day:
“Non, non, stupide anglaise chef! Quelle offence! Such ignorance. This is NOT a spitted cow. This is a roti de BOEUF. And this is NOT pig. Non, non, this is PORC. We do not have zee PIG to feed us at our table!”

The phlegmatic cook, having sprung from an old English “Farmer in the dell” lineage, hadn’t adopted the Saxon swine yet — which was just as well. She didn’t do so well with roti de boeuf, either, and slurred it to roast beef. She was pleased, though, to be elevated from cook to chef. (Wouldn’t you be?)

Fast forward almost a millennium, to where a Yank calling himself Fandango gives us the word prompt: PENDING.

Thus today we’re prompt-writing about this word, originally forced onto the French by the Roman conquerors of Gaul, then delivered via the sword and the trickle to the Brits. As Norman rule was suspendu over Britain, this word slowly wormed its way into the emerging English language. By now it’s established itself in oodles of English subdivisions — much like Norman DNA in general. And from there it’s crossed the Atlantic.

Definitions given by my Collins Canadian Dictionary, First Edition:

Pending:
– while waiting for
– not yet decided or settled
– imminent

Impending:
something (esp something bad) about to happen

Suspend:
– hang (something) from a high place
– cause something to remain floating or hanging
– cause to stop temporarily
– to remove (someone) temporarily from a job or position, usually as a punishment

Depend:
– to put trust in; rely on
– to be influenced or determined (by)
– to rely (on) for income

Expend:
– to spend or use up (something)

Real Life Uses:

Judge Smith was motoring sedately along the highway, expending serious thought on the impending decision over custody of the Watkins’ dog. Considering the vicious ongoing battle for ownership, she’d suspended all visiting rights pending a dog psychologist’s report on the dog’s behaviour in the presence of its master and its mistress.

Little did Judge Smith know that Sam Slatter had expended a lot of energy intoxicating himself on a suspension of fermented barley and hops, and was heading toward a STOP sign to her left.

The county had suspended a flashing red light above the intersection to doubly warn motorists that they MUST, MUST come to a complete stop at the white line. How well Sam perceived this sign and/or light was dependent on how clear his vision was. And it wasn’t. Sad to say, his befuddled brain’s reaction time was as impaired as the rest of him.

The impending arrival of Sam’s vehicle was not noticed by the judge, distracted as her thoughts were. She only caught a glimpse of the oncoming vehicle on her left periphery and the question flashed through her mind, “Will it stop?”

Sam made a brave attempt to brake when the Judge’s vehicle swept in front of him, but the momentum of his vehicle couldn’t be checked. There was a dull crunch as he clipped the tail lights and rear fender of the Judge’s car.

Several days later Sam’s fog had mercilessly left him to his fate. Worse, he could see clearly now that the person whose car he had damaged was sitting in the judgement seat above him. What could he say? What could he do but sniffle as his license was suspended indefinitely, pending a police report on his past behaviour behind the wheel.

The Watkins’ case came up next. Worse luck for them, Judge Smith was in no mood to be patient. The dog was awarded to the husband’s aged uncle and all visiting rights were denied.