Month: January 2016

Word of the Week: Grundyism

I’ve been busy so have not had the chance to post my word of the week. So I will post two this week. The word of the week (actually last week) is Grundyism. This word has an interesting history.

Grundyism (noun) is defined by dictionary.com as

1. a prudish adherence to conventionality, especially in personal behavior.
2.  (lowercase) an instance of such prudishness

The word comes from an unseen character in the play Speed the Plow, a 5-act comedy, written by Thomas Morton in 1798.
Thomas Morton
Thomas Morton

She was a prudish character that is referred to, but never appears on the scene. The word Grundyism, to describe this behavior, came into use in Britain in the 1830s.  The line “What would Mrs. Grundy say?” became commonplace.  Mrs. Grundy became a symbol of conventional morality.
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If you have never heard of Thomas Morton, it isn’t surprising. He fell into obscurity and is now known primarily because of  the character of Mrs. Grundy. In the very first scene of the play, she is mentioned by Dame Ashfield, and it is through Dame Ashfield that we learn of Mrs. Grundy’s disapproving nature.

Wikipedia reports that there was a real Mrs. Grundy, the head housekeeper at Hampton Court during the reign of Queen Victoria.
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An Australian newspaper, quoting Ernest Law, historian of Hampton Court, reveals that this Mrs. Grundy was a sort of moral regulator. She impounded artwork that she considered unsuitable for public display in one of the dark “mystery” chambers of the palace, and kept them under lock and key, in defiance of orders from the Queen’s surveyor of pictures.  This room is still referred to as “Mrs. Grundy’s Gallery” and its door is rarely opened.

The term grundyism is still used today in Britain and other countries of Europe to describe people who spend time disapproving of the morality of others. I’ve never heard it used this side of the Atlantic!

Studies in Eng prudery
However, there was a character in the Archie comics called Miss Grundy, who was named after the original Mrs. Grundy of the play Speed the Plow. She was a teacher who pushed her students hard (especially Archie!), but really cared about them. About five years ago, she was “killed off”, supposedly dying from kidney failure.
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Science fiction author Robert Heinlein had this to say about Grundyism:
Freedom from Mrs Grundy

Photo Journal: Mission San Xavier del Bac

On December 17, 2015, my husband and I visited the Mission San Xavier del Bac on the outskirts of Tucson. The church was white (hence its nickname “The White Church”) and was surrounded by desert gardens, a small museum and gift shop, and Native Americans selling fry bread.
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Eavesdropping on a tour group (the last one of that day, which started at 12:30 – it was about 1 p.m. when we got there), I found out about a painting of the Last Supper on the wall. It is more fragile than wall paintings in European churches, the guide said, because in Europe the paint is absorbed into the wet plaster and becomes part of the plaster as it dries. In Arizona, the plaster dries too fast, so the painting is really on top of the plaster. What makes this painting unique and typical of its time, but not seen in most Last Supper depictions, are two elements: the head of the Devil can be seen in the lower right hand corner, although it is very difficult to pick out – it is black and blends into the dark background; and Judas is holding his bag of silver. These elements foreshadow events to come.

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Mural of The Last Supper. Judas is in the foreground at right, with his bag of silver. The head of the devil’s head is located on the far right, but it is black and very hard to pick out.

The church contained many carvings and murals of Jesus and various saints.

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Altar

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There was a creche, or Nativity scene, off to the side, which fascinated me. It was  carved by an artist named Thomas Franco – I thought he probably is Native American because the figurines all have indigenous features. Their heads (at least Mary and Joseph) are overly large. Catholics don’t put the baby Jesus into the scene until Christmas Eve, so the hanging cradle was empty. There were other figures that also showed strong indigenous influence, also.
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Joseph
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Mary
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The angel
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Shepherds

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There were other statues and murals which contained both Native American and European influences.
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At the altar:

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Altar table with cloth

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In an alcove of the church
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The Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico

San Xavier del Bac is an active congregation and there is also a school on the premises.

There was a small museum next to the church – only 2 rooms because the others were being renovated. The lady at the museum encouraged us to visit the gift shop, because the prices are more reasonable than other places, thanks to the priest, who insists on fair prices. She was right – afterward, we visited the so-called “Tohono O’odham Cultural Center” across the street, which was merely a group of shops facing a courtyard. The prices were quite a bit higher there for similar items.

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This small relics are payment people make to the saints when they have prayed for something and their prayer has been answered. Often it for the healing or replacement of a body part.

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Within the mission walls are courtyards and gardens.

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Santa Rita prickly pear cactus turns purple when the weather is cold.

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Usually found inside a Catholic church, the stations of the cross were instead in a courtyard.

Outside the complex were several stands selling fry bread. We ordered from the Tohono O’odhams’ stand – probably all of them were Tohono but only one explicitly stated this and also had the cheapest plain fry bread. I had plain with salt, and Dale had honey and cinnamon.

A restroom is always a welcome sight!

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Trilingual restroom sign: Tohono O’odham, Spanish and English

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Word of the Week: Canny (and uncanny)

My mother returned from a trip to Scotland some years ago with a stack of decals for car windows that said “Ca’ canny”, which she passed out to every family member that had a car.  This was a Scottish term, she said, for “Go carefully” or in other words, “be safe.” She had this wish for anyone leaving her premises, so she also had it carved on the back of the sign which announced the arrival at our summer  home in northern Wisconsin.
Ca' canny sign

I also hear the word uncanny used to describe someone with an unusual knack for something, such as “She has an uncanny ability to understand what people are thinking.”  Confused about the difference and even whether the use of uncanny was wrong, I decided to do research on both words.

Canny (adjective), according to the web site Dictionary.com, is a Scots word first noted approximately 1630-40, combining “can” (know) and the suffix “y” –  or…

1. astute; shrewd; knowing; clever – as in “a canny negotiator”

2. careful; cautious; prudent – which fits with my mother’s explanation of “Ca canny”: “a canny reply”.

3. skilled; expert – as in, once again, “a canny negotiator”

4. frugal; thrifty – “a canny housewife” (I’ve never heard it used this way, but it could also be said that the frugal housewife is clever or prudent).

5. (Quoting Dictionary.com directly):

Scot.

  1. safe to deal with, invest in, or work at (usually used with a negative).
  2. gentle; careful; steady.
  3. snug; cozy; comfortable.
  4. pleasing; attractive.
  5. Archaic. having supernatural or occult powers.

No. 5 is interesting, because of its similarity to uncanny, which I explain below.

There are contemporary examples using canny on the definition page for this word on Dictionary.com.

So if canny means all the things above, what is uncanny? I sort of thought it was the same thing but here is the definition of uncanny (again, Dictionary.com).

Uncanny is an adjective meaning
1. unusual, extraordinary; seeming to have a supernatural or inexplicable basis – as inan uncanny ability to foresee the future”

2. mysterious; arousing superstitious fear or dread; very strange – as in “Uncanny sounds filled the house.”

So, in spite of the prefix un-, uncanny doesn’t seem to really mean the opposite of canny; the two are related, but both legitimate. Interestingly, the first noted use of the word uncanny has an earlier date: 1590-1630, which makes its noted use older than its root word.

According to the British Dictionary, uncanny in the 1590s meant “mischievous”; in 1773, it became “associated with the supernatural.” Its origin is Scottish and northern English. The idea of “mysterious or supernatural” would seem to be the opposite of “astute, knowing, or clever,” thus the addition of the prefix un- (meaning not).

According to Vocabulary.com, canny and uncanny as used today are not opposites. Canny is a synonym for shrewd, but has the negative connotation of cunning, a related word. Uncanny means “weird or unsettling.”

Here’s a little quiz:

  1. The ______________ (canny or uncanny?) lawyer is able to win his cases most of the time.

2. The ______________ (canny or uncanny?) fox knows how to outwit his
enemies.

3. The cat’s _______________ (canny or uncanny?) sense of direction helped
her to find her way back home every time.

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 Note: Pictures of cat and fox downloaded from Google images. The fox came from the web site: www.GSchneiderPhoto.com.

(Answers to quiz: 1. canny, 2. canny, 3. uncanny)

Word of the Week: Shibboleth

Shibboleth (n)
1. an old idea, saying or opinion that is often repeated and believed to be true, but that is not true or old-fashioned.
The saying, Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me is a shibboleth. It is often repeated to children who have been victims of name-calling, and has been for at least a few generations, but is arguably untrue: ugly names CAN hurt, often as much as a physical blow.

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From quotesgram.com

2. a word or a way of speaking that identifies a person as belonging to a certain group. Example: Her accent was a shibboleth of upper class status.

The origin of the word is Hebrew, meaning “stream”. It was used in the Old Testament of the Bible, in Judges 12:6: The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time. 
This example from Judges corresponds with the 2nd definition of shibboleth, because the Ephraimites, apparently, did not have the “sh” sound in their language and therefore, when they could not pronounce it, it was a dead giveaway that they were from Ephraim or at least not from Gilead.

 

Photo Essay: Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum

Located in Tucson, the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is unlike most museums, in that it is almost totally outside. By walking along the different paths, you can see the variety of Sonoran Desert plants and animal species.

The Sonoran Desert has an amazing variety of flora and fauna. One common species is the palo verde (“green stick” in Spanish), a tree whose bark is green. The leaves of the palo verde are so tiny that they cannot photosynthesize enough energy to sustain the tree, so the trunk and branches also undergo photosynthesis.

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It was Christmastime, and perhaps it was fitting that some palo verde trees had mistletoe clinging to them.
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Actually, the mistletoe is a parasite that can damage or even kill the palo verde tree.

The ocotillo (left) blooms in the springtime. It makes good material for fences. Be careful with the cholla cactus (right) – if you get too close, a piece of it may come off and stick to you!
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Fence made with the ocotillo plant – some of it continues growing!

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Desert plants can be very prickly!

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Silver cholla

Can you guess why this plant is called “octopus agave”? *

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The octopus agave has a large flower stalk.*
Octopus Agave flower stalk
*Note: Images of the octopus agave downloaded from Google Images. Although I saw them at the Sonoran Desert Museum, I did not get a picture of my own.

Another interesting plant is the jojoba. There is actually a separate plant for the male and the female! The female jojoba produces a small nut which is edible. The male produces the seeds that fertilize the female plant.

female jojoba tree (with javelina resting underneath!)
female jojoba tree (with javelina resting underneath!)

The male jojoba bush has flowers like this:

Image downloaded from Google.
Image downloaded from Google.

The most well-known and ubiquitous cactus of the Sonoran Desert is the majestic saguaro cactus. This cactus can live to be 200 years old. It grows into a giant plant from a tiny black seed:

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The saguaro grows very slowly. You often see them growing among palo verde or mesquite trees. This is because the tree provides shade for the tender plant until it grows tall enough to survive on its own.

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Sonoran Desert landscape. Note in the foreground a saguaro cactus growing among the branches of a palo verde tree.

When the saguaro is about 60 years old, it may begin to grow “arms” which make it such a famous image.
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The arms of this saguaro are covered with bags to protect it from freezing weather.

The saguaro is the “tree of life” in the Sonoran Desert. Many species live in and around it.

Woodpeckers peck holes in the saguaro, and make their nests inside. When the woodpeckers move out, other birds, such as the elf owl, take their place.
Woodpeckers peck holes in the saguaro, and make their nests inside. When the woodpeckers move out, other birds, such as the elf owl, take their place.

The Tohono O’odam Indians (formerly known by whites as the Papago) use the saguaro for many things: they eat the fruit and the flower, which scatters the seeds, and when the saguaro dies, they use its spines for building material…

This dead saguaro's spines are used for building materials.
Dead saguaro

such as ramadas…

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or roofing.

Roof made of saguaro spines
Roof made of saguaro spines

The Tohono O’odam even used the “boot” of the saguaro, which is the hardened scab that formed around the hole made by the woodpecker.
saguaro bootsThis picture comes from the web site of Allyson Latta.

There are many examples of desert animals here, too, including the javelina:

Javelinas look like pigs, but actually are not in the same family. They are peccaries, a species native to the Americas. What we are familiar with as “pigs” came from Europe.

There are coyotes…
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mountain lions (cougars),
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lynx, an ocelot, wolves, bears, and a variety of bird species.
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KODAK Digital Still CameraWe saw a demonstration of birds of prey…
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KODAK Digital Still Camera The museum also has a small aquarium displaying the marine life that lives in the coastal waters where the Sonoran Desert borders on Baja California in Mexico.

Unless you come early in the day, it is impossible to see everything in this expansive outdoor museum. There are always the paths not taken.

 

 

 

 

WPC: Circle – Desert View Watchtower

For the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of “Circle”, I have chosen photos that I took in December 2015 at the Desert View Watchtower in Grand Canyon National Park. The day we visited, there had been a 2-inch snowfall the night before; although I had been to the Grand Canyon a few times, I had never seen it in the winter. It was our daughter’s first trip to this majestic national wonder.

The road to Desert View was treacherous: slow and icy! However, I was determined to see the Watchtower, designed by architect Mary Colter and completed in the 1930s.

20151220_121524Colter was interested in native culture and had studied indigenous building techniques and materials. She explored Pueblo ruins and learned about Hopi culture.

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It is fitting, then, that Hopi artist Fred Kabotie, who lives at second Mesa on the Hopi reservation, was chosen to paint the extraordinarily beautiful murals that cover the walls on the second floor and above.

20151220_122036A circle encloses the story of the Hopi snake legend, which tells the story of a Hopi man who floated down the Colorado River through the canyon on a hollow log.

20151220_122019Kabotie also painted murals of animals.

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20151220_122857Some of his artwork was inspired by ancient petroplyghs.

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20151220_122917 The circular landing contains petroplygh-inspired artwork and the ceiling is painted with animals, people and other symbols in bright colors.
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Word(s) of the week: Auld Lang Syne

As it is the first day of a new year, I decided to research the meaning and history of the title (and lyrics) of this famous song, sung all over the world on New Year’s Eve.

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Auld Lang Syne is a gift from Scotland to the world. The words to the song were written in the 18th century, but there are several different versions. The lyrics are mainly attributed to Robert Burns robert-burns(1759-1796), Scottish poet, and the original words are written in Scots, a language related to English but with its own pronunciation, form and unique vocabulary. This is why, popular as this song is and sung throughout the world on New Year’s Eve, most people have no idea what the song is about.

Auld lang syne means, roughly, “old long ago.” The song is about retaining old friendships, that whatever happens throughout our lives, we should remember our lifelong friends and hold them dear. This is an appropriate sentiment as we “ring out the old and ring in the new.”

The popularity of Auld Lang Syne has mainly to do with two factors. First, Scotland was influenced by Calvinism (introduced in the 16th century), out of which grew Presbyterianism. These Calvinist Presbyterians, until about 100 years or so ago, did not celebrate Christmas, which they considered “hedonistic” – the holiday’s most popular customs had nothing to do with the birth of Christ and in fact, most scholars believe that Christ was not born in December. Thus, Christmas was more associated with the winter solstice, celebrated by pagans.

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Thus, in Scotland, the more important holiday of this period came to be New Year’s, or “Hogmanay” as they call it. Auld Lang Syne was thus sung during this time and became connected with New Year’s celebrations. Everyone likes a party, so the song, unintelligible to many people, becomes more so – and sung with more gusto – after one has had a few drinks!

Hogmanay celebration, Edinburgh
Hogmanay celebration, Edinburgh
Torchlight Procession, Edinburgh
Torchlight Procession, Edinburgh
Hogmanay Festival Fireworks
Hogmanay Festival Fireworks

The second factor was the American custom of watching television. The Canadian band leader, Guy Lombardo, broadcast a big band version of the song on New Year’s Eve beginning in 1929 (on the radio) and continued to be a yearly tradition until 1976 (by then broadcast on TV). This created another link to the holiday and became the tradition. What is a New Year’s celebration without singing Auld Lang Syne?

Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians

So raise your glasses one more time and get ready to sing: here are the words (in Scots, then translated into standard English) of all five verses of Auld Lang Syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, (originally “my jo”)
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp, (pronounced “stoop”)
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wandered mony a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i’ the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Auld Lang Syne-words

English translation:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And long, long ago.

(Refrain):
And for long, long ago, my dear
For long, long ago,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago.

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago.

(Refrain)

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many the weary foot
Since long, long ago.

(Refrain)

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since long, long ago.

(Refrain)

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will
For long, long ago.

(Refrain)

Happy-New-Year-2016

All images downloaded from Google Images.
Web sites used for research:
Vox.com
RobertBurns.org
www.carols.org.uk
www.scotland.org