Showing posts from April, 2014

Zwieback Finale

Last day of the Alphabet Challenge: my dictionary random selection offers me a snack. Zwieback, filling the niche between toast and biscuit, is an egg rich loaf that is sliced and further baked: zwieback means 'twice baked.' Cinnamon would be a nice addition, although the recipe I looked up had nutmeg. All Recipes: Sugar Zwieback Today is not for baking, there is too much garden work to do, so I'm leaving this link here to get back to when the next batch of planting and repotting is done. For my finale, I have put all of my randomly selected words into one sentence, and found that there is a kind of story in it, because every sentence has a sort of implied story to it, because story underpins everything we do, because more than bones or dust, story is our existence and our legacy. No wonder we are drawn to this reading and writing lark!
April 2014 A-Z Finale Sentence: After an abysmal banister conclusion at my domicile lead me to expostulate, dressed in a frill, with some pass…

Yggdrasil And The Line In The Clavicle

The name of the tree that binds heaven, earth and hell. In the Old Norse tongue it was spelt Yggdrasill, apparently, but the significance of this extra consonant is not explained. No pronunciation guide in the Writer's Dictionary: perhaps there is a companion book, a Reader's Dictionary? Significance of the tree and of the binding is apparent, though all these interpretations have a personal element. Heaven, earth and hell, as bound by Yggdrasil and regarded by myself, form a set. They represent life and consequences. They represent the present moment, potential futures; a body of knowledge and experience passed on by all the souls that have lived. Further ruminations are interrupted by a phone call that leads to a family trip to hospital with Girl and Little Granddaughter, who has fallen from a chair in a hard-floored kitchen and broken her left clavicle. We all look at the x-ray, at a fine line in pale etched bone. Girl is blinking tears, they are ruining her Brave Face. '…


On this final week of the Alphabet Challenge, I have reached for The Oxford Writer's Dictionary, which gives a writer a fast and easy aid to usage, style and spelling. X is a tricky letter but it covers some interesting stuff like xylography, the printing of wood block books. However the random choice is… x.n. I have never heard of it, unsurprisingly, as it means 'without the right to new shares.' It belongs to a tricksy financial world (Lord of the Rings reference: I'm thinking of Mordor) which is in a galaxy far far from here (Star Wars, thinking Death Star.) On a disinterested Google search, Xn shows up as a chemical hazard code, meaning harmful, before it appears in a Reuters post about steel and stock markets.
[Cue scrunched-face thinking moment.] I do not, actually, despise money. Currency is a sort of metaphor, where an object represents being equal in value to another, and often is composed of pleasant artifacts: notes and coins hold fascination with pictures, wi…

Black Belt Trials: Round Two And Always

At Bristol Academy, 163A Church Road, Redfield, Bristol: It is crowded. While our nervous yet determined students are working up a sweat in the hall upstairs, I take a walk around St George's Park. It rains, light heavy, and snows cherry blossom. Over the pond each drop patters, sends out loops. Ducks waddle on the path. They all look as I pass: quack, contended. Nice weather for ducks. Chestnut trees have flowers that stack like wedding cakes. Spring is for beginnings. Summer to autumn for fruition, winter for the hack back to skeletal basics. Spring is for beginnings… There's something about the combination of a mass meeting of like minded people, the creative surge of nerves and knowledge (plus espresso) makes my brain splurge: before I have put a foot back to the Academy words are pinging. In the porch, simply conversing, words become attached to potential actions.Mr appears, from his hall upstairs perch. He is smiling. No results till Tuesday: but he is happy that all of o…

Warwick Deeping: A Review

It had been one of those days where the rain had given up and allowed the sun to prevail. There was a jangle of change in my pocket and some of the coins where even the shiny important sort: I was thinking perhaps I would treat myself to a beetroot or a bulb of smoked garlic, from the greengrocer in the White Hart Market. Across the tiny market lane the secondhand bookstore had a box of tired old books, three for a pound. Three books for a pound, irresistible: that's a fact. I found a David Lodge, a Bernard Cornwell, and a 1946 cotton covered hardback titled The Impudence of Youth. The author, the eponymous Warwick, had written quite a list, I saw, and something about the whole package had a pleasant feel to it. And I had enough pennies left over to purchase a bunch of celery. Settling outside for a read, the words were dated, and that was most of the charm of the piece. It had a mix of 'come on, there's a plot that needs to proceed' briskness and distracting details th…


Potentially edgy, I thought, on first reading today's random word, though Fowler's is concerned with the noun signifying a clamp (vise, in American English, this word coming from the Latin for 'vine') and the titular application, as in vice admiral (meaning next in line or in place of. This word from the Latin for 'change.') But the idea was to take the word as a starting point: was it? I forget my own purpose, here, and stare out of the window. Daydreaming like most habits can be considered as a positive behaviour or as a vice (the naughty kind, which word stems from the Latin for 'fault.') It is a matter of perception and balance. Cake, for example, and let's make it a big creamy chocolate stack, is not packed with nutritional necessities. A lot of it will cause you harm. A little (or enormous) slice now and then, however, is a reminder to have fun in your life. If you get the balance wrong, your health suffers. It would be sensible to rethink your…

Up And Down

In Fowler's, this phrase refers mainly to geographical terms: down south, up north. Growing up in Cornwall was somewhat insular and we referred to everything that was placed northerly to us as being 'up country.' Only when you are a mere infant it is more 'Upcountry,' as though it forms a different land. 
If you go Upcountry, they'll put allsorts in, call it a pasty, 's a disgrace.
And, if there is an up and a down, who says the earth is flat?
Stuff is simple and yet puzzling when you are four. On a tilted link, then; sliding into childhood language; here are some words I use that I rarely remember are dialect: Addled (broken) Cack (poop) Cakey (feeble, from the saying 'put in with the cakes took out with the buns') Chacks (cheeks) Cheel (child, usually a girl) Furze (gorse bush) Gawky (stupid) Heller (naughty) Kiddlywink (unlicensed beer shop, also I love 'kiddly broth' for cheap soup) Mind (remember) Scat (hit) Smeech (smoke from burning fat) Tacker (toddl…

The Definite Article

The most ordinary word that my random dictionary searches have given up do far: the most frequently used word in the whole of the English language. Used to add specifics to a noun, though some explanations say it is used to restrict a noun's meaning: both views are valid. The result is the same: it points to a particular, a definite, hence the title. It is something I like to look out for whilst editing (and I self-edit so if you find numerous examples of a misplaced 'the' please be kind) because whilst attempting to type at the speed of thought one does chuck out rough words and clogged up phrases and whether a thing is any thing or that specific thing and why care about it is easily overlooked. It makes a difference though. 'The birds in the hedge' specific yet bland 'Birds in a hedge' could be any place with birds and at least one hedge, allows space for reader to relate to own experience 'Birds in this hedge' specific and more lyrical 'These bi…

Sonnet, Later

A poem composed of 14 lines. [Reads dictionary explanation, yawns: not fully attentive] The English convention is 10 syllables for each of these, and a choice of styles: Petrarchan, Shakespearian or Miltonic being our main three. They differ in rhyme scheme and pacings of octaves (first eight lines) and sestets (last six lines, aka sextets.) And it should be Iambic (the rhythm that runs soft LOUD soft LOUD.) [Nods head absentmindedly: facts are read with some recall, except:] 'Why these particular numbers?' [Scratches head to denote thought] They are pleasantly even They fit musical forms (sonnet from the Italian, 'little song') They are long enough to set up and answer a question or two, not so long the reader loses track/interest Long enough to play with form and make different styles from one format: a sort of literary franchise? It proved popular, so writers kept at it The Shakespearian form breaks mostly into 3 quatrains (4 line stanzas) followed by 1 couplet (2 lines). Th…

Reported Speech

Posting late today- blaming those Little Grandchildren for their persistently welcome distractions. Today we went chocolate making at the Eden Project. Back home to build a bonfire, eat homemade burgers, watch Frozen (love the summer smitten snowman) eat some more chocolate and finally ease sleep in to the seriously overtired with several Dr Seuss stories. This week's dictionary of choice is the R.W Burchfield's 1998 revised third edition of New Fowler's Modern English Usage. It gives me a phrase, but I think it counts, and it makes my late post an easy post so I accept it. Last night: The Little Grandchildren played tug of war. Grandad joined in. Little Grandson (Age 4) suggested to Little Granddaughter (Age 2) that, together, they could beat Grandad. She, being in agreement, promptly dropped the rope and punched Grandad in the chest. Quite a nice punch too, Granma noted, but mostly she was laughing.

Quit Not

Mr, Boy and me have been building a shed. This project started October 1st 2012, when we turned up in the car park of a supermarket that was refitting its trolley bays. Mr had a vision, permission to remove the decommissioned bays and a hired van. It was excellent and perilous fun (like giant Meccano that can fall on you and squish your bones.) We took three of the old bays, I think, with some minor flesh wounds. Last summer Project Polytunnel commenced (going well, although more space is used storing the future shed flooring than for growing.) This year, Project Shed is under way. The satisfaction layers up: that we saw potential, that we worked hard, that we took a risk, that people who thought we were bizarre may still think that but they also have visible shed envy, that here is a space we made coming to fruition. Not until the light is fading and the last of the outer paneling fixed is the daily writing routine approached. I almost can't be bothered to find a random word, all…

Polska The Irrepressible

Polonaise, the dictionary selector dumps on me this morning. A what? I can read the definition but what to make of it in terms of producing a post that contains any kind of illumination? Some further research is pursued. Strong coffee is brewed. Notes, gleaned from the Encyclopedia Brittanica: 'polonaise, Polish polonez,  dignified ceremonial dance, 17th-19th century, opened court balls. Origin- warrior’s triumphal dance? Music used 1573, coronation Henry of Anjou, King of Poland. Dancers, in couples according to social position, promenaded, gliding steps accented by bending the knees slightly on every third step. 3/4 time. Used as musical form by Beethoven, Handel, Mussorgsky, Chopin.'I am then distracted (or am I being inspired? That's a perpetual conundrum of any writer) by something not revealed in the dictionary definition: 'robe à la polonaise, woman's garment of the later 1770s and 1780s similar revival style 1870s inspired by Polish national costume. Gown with …

Old Ramblings

So far the random word selecting process has given a random list, this was not a surprise. But yesterday's nonagenarian and today's old seem at first too similar. The first definition of old in this week's dictionary is
'1. Having existed or lived for a relatively long time.' 
Ah, but old is a word related to a wider concept of time, I like the last one best: 
'2. Having a specified age…  3. Dear or cherished through long association.'
The next column in the O section is taken up with associated words: old boy, olden, Old English, old-fashioned, old hat, old man's beard, Old Master, old school tie, oldster, Old Testament, old-timer, old wives' tale, Old World. It's a lovely jumble, though it occurs to me that many of these words can be used with affection or in a derogatory way. That long association can also breed contempt, I suppose. The difficult thing about hanging around for some time is to keep (and to express) a fresh view. But isn't that …

Ninety Each And The Nexus Of Juice

Nonagenarian is the word of today's random selection (from the Latin nonageni - ninety each.) Spoken aloud (say nonna-j'n-airian) it has a lively, almost flirtatious feel. Which is how one would wish to be, in one's tenth decade of living. My How To Be Old Wish List includes: I will wear mostly sequined dresses and Wellington boots I will sunbathe nude in a fragrant garden I will swim in wild water I will walk and meditate and, after some kindly thought to the matter, tell the blunt truth always. More people are living longer and staying lively, it seems; this study is fairly typical: Lively Nineties Trend: reassuring for those of us who relish the idea of being old and delightfully sparky, of concentrating eccentricities and allowing Buddha-nature full bloom. But: uh oh: there's a but! 'While the study suggests people are living better after 90, they have to make it to their 10th decade first, Christensen said. Younger elderly people have more illnesses such as obesity a…