Book Report: Green: The History of a Color

This is the fourth book in the series of books by Michel Pastoureau that detail how colors have been perceived and used through European history that I’ve read. It’s convenient that I was reading this along with the Greenlights book, which has all the green print and green pages. I find the color series really interesting and entertaining, so if you like colors, check out Green: The History of a Color. A lot of what I learned surprised me.

Jane Fonda is smokin’ on the cover, in more ways than one.

You do begin to feel sorry for green, like you did poor yellow in the book I read most recently. It really didn’t get much mention in historical texts, and wasn’t even used in paintings for a long time. One reason was that it has always been difficult to get a green dye that wasn’t made of copper or arsenic or some other poisonous substance. The safe ones were pretty dull. Another was that people just didn’t divide things into colors the way we do now, so a lot of what we would call green was blue or brown to the eyes of people in the past.

Then, poor ole green had a bad reputation of being a color of evil, deceit, and treachery (green knights were never up to any good), unless they were very young men, who were “green” in the untested sense. As time went on, it came to symbolize young love (not necessarily faithful love), peace, and fairy folk.

Apparently, saucy horses wore a lot of green. I love the fact on that horse.

People just didn’t like to wear it, other than a few brief fads where various rulers decided green was their color. Then the sickness came…apparently from covering walls with paint and wallpaper that was green. Some even think that’s what actually got Napoleon.

Green and nature do go hand in hand, though, so there is a lot of green in landscapes and such. A lot of it wasn’t very stable, though, so some landscapes that look brown were once green. And natural objects like the sky, sea, lakes, and rivers were often painted green, not blue. I found that interesting.

Etchings on green paper were popular. I just like this dude’s fuzzy hat.

Since this book dealt primarily with European history, Pastoureau didn’t bring up the color green in other parts of the world. From my studies, I know that Japanese didn’t have a word for green for a long time; aoi meant both blue and green. And the number of colors languages distinguish vary from three to dozens. It just depends on what’s important in a society. For Europeans, Pastoureau notes that texture and other tactile features were more important than color in describing objects (also, apparently in the Middle East when people were writing Biblical passages), which I found pretty interesting.

In addition to all the history stuff, the illustrations in the Green book are just as gorgeous as in the others in the series. These are majorly great coffee-table books (in fact, mine are on the coffee table!) and they are just fun to page through.

Your friends will be green with envy if you display this one, with that fine smoking Jane Fonda on the cover!

Proud of Pride: Remembering the Other Gay 90s

Since I am the hyper-volunteer that I am, I’ve been helping out with the PRIDE employee resource group where I work, as part of our diversity and inclusion initiative. Not surprisingly, you meet gay people in such groups. I’ve made a new friend there, who lives in Seattle and works at a company we recently acquired. C is a bit younger than me, but we share a lot of memories of the past.

Way too rainbow for many people. But, it’s not just for fun.

When no one else is at our meetings, we chat about stuff, and yesterday we got to talking about the differences between being young and gay when we were young and how it is now. Looking that far back, it becomes very clear how much things have changed for the better in North America. It also confirms how much I admire my gay and lesbian friends from the 1970s through 1990s, who really lived on the cusp of a more accepting world. This led me to some thoughts as Pride Month in the US starts.

Both of us remembered that when we were in high school NO ONE admitted being gay, and there were just whispers about certain theater types and flashy dressers. Whew, I feel bad for some of the guys, especially, who were pressured into dating women and must have felt really uncomfortable. Not to say that it was easier for women…and none of us even really grasped the possibility of being trans back then. I know lots of people who have children from the inevitable marriages that happened back then who treasure those kids and are grateful to understanding former partners.

I’m lucky to be able to fly my flag at work.

When I went to college, so many young men were coming out. My friend had similar memories of college being the first place where people felt safe to be themselves. Today, young people are so much freer (as a whole, not saying there still aren’t issues) to be open about figuring out their sexuality, loving whoever they want to, and not feeling forced to make a permanent choice. The fluidity nowadays is something I wish we had when I was young.

And while there is still a lot to fear for minorities today, fewer people feel like they must hide to stay alive. There are still workplaces and other spots where people my age are careful, though. Why, even ten years ago a friend of mine called his husband “Joan” at work to deflect an intolerant supervisor. And I hesitate to wear my Pride outfits in Cameron, even.

One reason that I have chosen to be an LGBTQIA+ ally for all these years is that I saw how dangerous it could be in the Gay 1990s for people to speak up for themselves when faced with homophobic behavior. My gay buddies used to stand up for me when people said sexist things in my presence, so it was only fair for me to point out homophobic speech and action when I saw it. That’s the job of the ally, to show that we do notice these things and won’t accept them.

I’m grateful for the men who have been my allies.

I’m here, noting when I feel uncomfortable, use an improper pronoun, or say something inappropriate, and I make sure to acknowledge it, then move on without making it into a “woe is me, poor cisgender ally person.” Being an ally may sometimes be hard, but it’s merely a choice for me. Being gay is NOT a choice and not something you can take a break from if it’s hard.

What makes me, my friend in Seattle, and so many others of us who are getting older right now very happy is seeing progress, seeing happy and productive people out there living authentically, and watching as society inches toward equality and inclusion, at least here. We are not forgetting those who live in parts of the world where people who are not cisgender males by birth are not at all safe. I guess our work just has to keep going!

Love to all of you.

Book Report: Susan, Linda, Nina and Cokie

Rating: 5 out of 5.

With all this extra time at the beach and having mostly run out of things to do that actually appeal to me, I’ve had a lot of reading time. I bought three books on Amazon a few days after we got here, and have already finished two of them.

One fine book

The minute I heard that Susan, Linda, Nina and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR, by Lisa Napoli was out, I ordered it. I have listened to National Public Radio for many years, even when my kids were young, because they would listen to stories and stop the chatter briefly (love those kids, but they had a lot to say…perhaps that’s from being related to me?). I knew they’d had some troubles at some point, but I started listening long after that. What I did know was that I loved listening to all the varied voices I heard, especially Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, and Cokie Roberts.

What a fascinating story of how women came to be “allowed” to be public-facing voices in the news media! And what interesting people these four are/were! My favorite has always been Nina, because I love hearing her describe what goes on in the Supreme Court. It’s like a soap opera. I knew her father was a famous musician, but it was great to learn his story along with hers. And Cokie Roberts, now there’s someone I probably would have hated in college, to my detriment, since she was actually incredibly talented, versatile, and smart. Susan broke the ice for everyone else, and her story of courage and tenacity is most inspirational. It’s similar with Linda, who was so focused on her goals that she just made them come through.

The stories about the history of NPR are just as captivating as the stories of the founding mothers’ lives. A real parade of quirky, visionary, and sometimes not-so-helpful leaders showed up and left. The dude who just let them go bankfupt because NO ONE was watching the money, Frank Mankiewicz, was the villain in the book, and he never shut up after his big screw-up. What impressed me the most was how most of them remained fiercely devoted to NPR even after they left or were shown the door. Public radio is very popular with its fans!

Napoli does a really fine job of weaving fun anecdotes and insider stories about all of the characters in this group biography, and it makes you feel like you know these inquisitive, tough, chain-smoking news geniuses yourself. I appreciate that Napoli doesn’t make these women into saints, but shows how ruthless and cut-throat they could be at times. Their devotion to the news and the truth is fierce and strong, as apparently is their ability to love, since they all seemed to have great spouses to cheer them on.

Yep, this book impressed me and brought me a lot of joy. It easily took my mind off of what is going on in the world around me, but let me pretend I was paying attention to the news; it was just news in the 70s and 80s.

Book Report: Yellow, the History of a Color

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s a reason you haven’t had any book reports in the past week or two, and that’s because it’s taken me a while to get through Yellow, the History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau (2019). This is one in a series of works by this French author, all of which detail how a particular color has been used in European history. I’ve already done his book on red and his book on blue (apparently before I started this blog), and I still have green and black to go through. Not only are these books fascinating to read, but they have rich illustrations, are on thick, quality paper, and look darned good on the coffee table.

The work of art on the cover reminds me so much of my friend JD in New York. Such ennui.

The cover of the book shows a painting called “Study in Yellow,” I think, and it depicts a man sitting in a wicker chair, dressed in a yellow robe, holding his finger in a yellow book to keep his place, and dangling a cigarette out of the other hand. He is looking right at the observer as if to say, “Leave me alone in my foppish revelry.” It’s a good image for the color yellow, which has seldom been a popular color, no matter how cheery yellow flowers are.

Nonetheless, I got greenish-yellow alstroemeria to decorate the condo while we are in South Carolina (greenish yellow is particularly unpopular through history).

One of the most important issues surrounding yellow is that its association with gold at least got it some popularity in ancient times. And, it was one of the earliest colors humans could draw or dye in. So, it did okay, especially with the Greeks and Egyptians.

As time went by, yellow got more and more negative associations. Judas, who betrayed Christ, always wears yellow in paintings (though the Bible didn’t say anything about that). Countries made Jewish people wear yellow hats, insignia, or clothing, long before World War II. Yellow was associated with liars, cowards, prostitutes, and other people of questionable morals, including musicians. It got pretty depressing for a long time. Protestants didn’t help, with all their modesty, dislike of adornment, and fondness for black and grey. Fun times.

Painting by Giotto, showing bad ole Judas with his yellow robe, red hair, and sack of betrayal coins in his bad ole left hand. Plus a Devil.

Thank goodness for the 18th Century, because everyone was happy and people could wear yellow for fun. Then came the 19th and 20th Centuries, which were somber and drab. And thank goodness for painters who used it more and more. There’s a lot of useful information on pigments and dyes, and Pastourneau theorizes that one reason people didn’t wear much yellow is that unless you used expensive colorants like saffron, most yellows were drab and dreary, and not very colorfast.

This painting by Jan Steen is one of my favorites. Not only does it show that Dutch peasants wore yellow, but there’s a dog, a broken egg, and a kid looking right at you.

What’s the good news? Yellow is back in this century, and it’s used more in clothing, homes furnishings, and other areas. I know I personally have a yellow bedroom, and it cheers me up. I’m not down on yellow! Living on the ranch, surrounded by yellow flowers, golden hay and grass, golden autumn willow leaves, and such, I have come to love yellow. So, I’m glad it’s back!

There is so much more about yellow in this book that I can’t summarize well enough to include; it’s worth getting or borrowing from the library. It’s not a good audio book, because the illustrations are half the enjoyment. I’m happy that I still have the green book and the black book to read later.

Much of this morning, you could not tell where the sky stopped and the sea started.

But, now I’m going to finish my knitting project or ELSE, and do some serious work on what’s going on with my mental health. At least I can ruminate with an ocean view!

At least there’s foam to brighten the gloom.

Evening Exploration

It was a long day of “working from beach” today, but it was fun doing my individual meetings on the balcony. I still have things to do, but I’m plowing through them, and some of the stuff is getting interesting.

I guess I’m relaxed

We had to leave for a while in the early afternoon, because they were going to turn the power off in the building for some test. We took that opportunity to visit the new and trendy Market Commons area, which is sort of like the Domain in Austin, but a bit prettier.

Dining spot.

Lee was not impressed, but I’d have a lot of fun with Kathleen or Anita there. The shopping looked excellent, and there were many nice places to eat. We had sushi, and it was fresh and interesting. My lemon roll was divine, and I also had a yellowtail ceviche in a ponzu sauce. The air was just right for outdoor dining, too.

Lemon roll.

Of course, Lee found numerous plants to be allergic to, especially the gorgeous plantings of jasmine. But hey, he’s not allergic to azaleas! He says if he lived a hundred years ago none of this would be bothering him, since he’d have died from some allergy in childhood. Cheery!

Lee wasn’t allergic to this palm flower.

When I finished working at 6, Lee wanted to go see small towns, so we drove on the inland road to Georgetown, SC. We passed many beautiful forests with hardwoods, Wild magnolias, and pines.

Speeding by woods

Much of it looked exactly like northern Florida from my childhood, including the many plantings of pines for harvest. All the big rivers and swamps we passed also made me feel at home.

Pine forest, thinned

As we approached Georgetown, Lee wondered if we were near the sewage plant. Nope, another memory from childhood blasted in and told me what I soon confirmed: there’s a large paper mill just outside of town. You can’t miss that smell.

Stinky but cool.

Other than that, though, Georgetown is beautiful, one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. It currently has a scary looking old steel mill as another industry.

Steel mill

But, as I read one of the information signs around the boardwalk, I recalled where I’d heard of this place. Not only was it a center for growing rice (as evidenced by the rice museum in town), but it was also an early indigo growing center! I’d read about it in the book on indigo I read last year.

And there are boats!

I must say, this is a gorgeous town, with a fixed-up downtown harbor area, a boardwalk, and many places to shop and eat. We had another outdoor meal, with a bonus of watching a Great Dane sit on a kid’s lap.

Both of these families own Great Danes, so the kid was fine with him. He just kept scratching the dog, and the dog kept smiling.

We are glad we will come back later for one of our boat rides (assuming I book them), so we can see more of the beautiful old homes and such.

This old house is a museum.

Lee and I both are excited about our upcoming adventures! We wish we had folks with us, but wow, there’s a lot going on!

Sunset in the rear-view mirror and reflected on our vehicle. Artsy.

Once again, I’m thinking of all my friends and family who have been undergoing treatments and surgeries and such. Healing wishes to you all.

Unconscious Bias? Just Ask Marcus Aurelius

My spouse, Lee, has been studying Stoicism for the past year or two. He really enjoys The Daily Stoic podcast, by Ryan Holiday, who happens to be my boss’s best friend. Small world! Who knew? Holiday has a new book of meditations out, with new translations of the Stoics into modern English by Stephen Hanselman. Of course, Lee’s enjoying it greatly. He even got a special journal to record his own thoughts. That man LOVES to journal almost as much as I love to blog!

So, the passage for yesterday was:

Do away with the opinion I am harmed, and the harm is cast away, too. Do away with being harmed, and harm disappears.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.7, as quoted in The Daily Stoic, p. 119.

This is one of those topics we linguists love, especially those of us, like me, who are enamored of pragmatics. Not only do words have different meanings in different contexts, but tone of voice and intention can also change meanings. PLUS, the person hearing the words will interpret what is said through their filters. The same sentence with the same intonation can engender a hearty laugh or a world of hurt, depending on how it’s taken.

You have to like a guy who was a good horseman. From Britannica.

Assuming good intent is what it boils down to, right? It’s just like with the Little Free Library story yesterday! Susan could have interpreted the stolen books as an act of aggression or malice, but she instead chose to interpret it as a cry for help. I often find myself interpreting comments that could be taken as mean or passive aggressive as being the result of some issue I have no clue about. Thus, I do away with the harm, and it’s gone. Easier said than done sometimes, I must admit.

Continue reading “Unconscious Bias? Just Ask Marcus Aurelius”

Knowing Your Issues Doesn’t Fix Everything, Nor Should It!

As always, things are changing in my life. One of the changes anticipated for this year is that Anita and I will need to move out of the Bobcat Lair house in Austin. That’s sad, because we really love the setting, the house, and most of all, the neighbors. But, the cost of just paying the City of Austin property taxes is more than the mortgage to our old house, and now that we are getting closer to me retiring from paid employment, we’ll need the money from that house as part of our income stream. Things are winding down, and it’s time for investments to pay off.

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. Ah.

Yes, that’s all logical and good. Anita has her own little house in Cameron that we hope to get renovated as soon as her contractor is available and her tenant, who’s already month to month, knowing Anita is going to need to live in the house herself, finds another place to live. This is all quite reasonable, right?

But, when Anita started talking to me yesterday about how much she’s packed up already (she does all her moves all by herself, because she would rather invest her time than her money), and that she gave her tenant notice that she needs to be out, I found myself going back into one of my old, unproductive ways of reacting. I am not good with moving, AT ALL, and the thought of having to leave my beloved sanctuary sent me into a panic. It just seemed like a HUGE amount of work, change, and uproar was impending, and I kind of shut down.

A little wine on the deck helped me feel better, too.

Anita (bless her) kept talking me through it, and I began to realize that I can do things in stages, that I actually don’t have all THAT much furniture in the Bobcat Lair, and that I even have a place to store things like my books and such. And all the boxes I still haven’t unpacked (though there aren’t all that many now!!).

Plus, I plan to rent an apartment near my work, so I can easily figure out what things go where, move them, then get the rest moved to Cameron (except for what’s needed to stage the house). I’m just trying to breathe as I think of more things that need to be done, like electrical work to fix outlets that stopped working…but it’s not too much.

I just have to face it; I’m who I am, and I’m going to have trouble with changing things when it comes to my home, because having my own place grounds me. I’m still a fine person!

Ernesto apparently agreed with my coping strategy. Photo by  @juleslang via Twenty20.

I’m Not Alone

Speaking of my issues, which I am, I had an odd experience last night watching the PBS show on Ernest Hemingway. Now, he’s not someone I ever would have thought I had anything in common with, other than being fond of short sentences (he was way better at actually writing them, though). As I learned how he grew up, the experiences he had with his family, and how he coped later, I was really surprised to see how we have a LOT in common when it comes to our inner demons and how we deal with them.

One part of the show, in particular, hit me hard. He was talking about how happy he was when he had both his wife and another woman he was also in love with. He said it made him inexplicably content, even if he knew it was hurtful. And then he talked about how, in his relationships, he always made sure to have another love interest all lined up before he left someone. Ouch. Those were my destructive patterns in my younger days.

Hemingway statue in Cuba that apparently chokes people up.  @prezioso02 via Twenty20.

I’m really glad I didn’t live such a public life as Hemingway did, because reading all the criticism of my life, like he had to, would have been really uncomfortable. I’m glad I just got to judge myself harshly without too much help from others (except former partners).

I don’t think Hemingway was able to get much control over his demons, much like his father, who committed suicide when he couldn’t get a handle on his mental struggles. He knew perfectly well what his problems were, which is clear from his books, but knowing what his challenges were didn’t mean he could fix them, any more than I can help my issues with moving.

I’m glad I had help, good reading, and inner work that has gotten me out of destructive patterns, at least with romantic and friendship relationships. I’ll be interested in watching the rest of this series and getting more insight into this fascinating writer and historical figure.

What a good thing that we happened to watch this interesting Ken Burns documentary right after I was beating myself up for repeating patterns from my youth (I know perfectly well that I hate to move house because leaving my beloved home as a teenager was so hard on me). It gives me perspective to cut myself some slack and bear in mind that some of our personality “features” are deeply ingrained, just like those unconscious biases.

We can only do the best we can and keep making an effort to improve. Thank goodness I’m a lifelong learner and never plan to stop enjoying the challenges of living up to my best intentions. Let’s all keep open to ways to learn more about ourselves and others, and be patient with ourselves.

That’s my lecture for today. Take what works for you and leave the rest!

A Note from a Friend

After reading my blog (with all the typos I just fixed), my friend Kelli Martin Brew responded to echo my thoughts. I really got a lot from what she said, so I’m happy she allowed me to share her thoughts with you:

I love this. The longer I live, the more it seems clear that a lot of who we are and what we do is hardwired. But how I have wanted to believe that knowing something was the same as changing it! At this stage in life, I think we can use this hard-won knowledge to be more merciful – and to be honest about our own struggles and behavior. I grew up with a huge mandate to “be a good example.” At this point in life, I have contented myself with being just an honest “example” of… something. Whether it is deemed “good” or not will be decided sometime in the future, if at all.

Kelli, Facebook, April 6, 2121

I really treasure connections that allow us to share our inner thoughts, struggles, and learnings. I plan to be an example, too!

Book Report: A Short History of the World According to Sheep

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I buy most of my books from Amazon, and they, of course, keep track of your buying history. They know I like books on wool, sheep, knitting, and so on, so I got this book, A Short History of the World According to Sheep, by Sally Coulthard (2020), on Amazon’s recommendation. I also thought the cover was pretty.

Beautiful cover, isn’t it?

Absolutely, I was right; the cover is great, a pastoral scene of grazing sheep by Nathan Burton, beautifully printed on textured paper. The book is a great tactile experience all around. These days you don’t often get books bound this well, so kudos to the Head of Zeus Press, whoever they are. I guess quality bookbinding is still alive and well in England today.

This sheepy little tome is indeed quite British, which lends a lot of charm. There are so many mentions of the names of tiny towns and villages in England, Scotland, and Wales that I got an urge to go look up photos of the whole lot of them. Sadly, there are no photos of sheep or villages to be found, though each chapter begins with a really lovely etching of something to do with sheep or wool.

The illustration of the chapter on wartime wool use.

I guess I should get around to Sally Coulthard’s content. It’s quite charming, and just full of fun tidbits about sheep, wool, word origins, and such. There are a LOT of English place names that refer to sheep and wool. And a bellwether was not a type of stock originally, but a very tame neutered ram who wore a bell to lead sheep where the shepherd wanted them to go. I want a bellwether. Well, I want any kind of wether, actually. I am so fond of them.

Each chapter in the book moves along through history and tells how sheep and humans have coexisted throughout history. There’s no doubt about it: sheep have shaped human life in many ways. They are darned useful animals, and Coulthard’s delightful way of telling stories about them makes for a pleasant read. I admit I could have used more details, but then, I’m a detail-oriented reader.

If you’re like me and enjoy reading about history through the lens of one particular commodity (after all, I’ve read books on salt, the pencil, various colors, and so on), you’ll get a lot out of this charming book. If you get bogged down by a bunch of place and people names with which you’re not familiar, or really aren’t enthusiastic about sheep and wool (how could you?), then you may want to go find another topic.

I’m glad to have read this one, as it cleansed my palate before starting the last unconscious bias book in my current stack of books.


An Offer!

Speaking of wool, I have a wooly offer for those of you who listen to the podcasts I make from these blog entries. The first person who sponsors my blog on Anchor for over the minimum $.99 a month will get a knitted throw by ME (and you can choose colors). The first ten people will get TWO knitted cotton dishcloths. Now, don’t you want to run over to subscribe?? Go to anchor.fm/sue-ann-suna-kendall/support to get set up!

Of course, you can make me (and maybe yourself) happy simply by following the The Hermit’s Rest podcast on any platform you like (here’s the Spotify link) and listening to an episode or two. My friend Mandi said it’s so much like talking to me that she kept trying to answer me back.

Must Surnames Be Sir-names?

This just POPPED into my head a few days ago. It’s not like I never thought about it before, since it was discussed a LOT in the 1980s among my grad school friends in linguistics and English. In Western society, the tradition for the past number of hundreds of years has been that women took the surname of their husbands upon marriage (you know, to show who they belonged to and who got to take all their property).

First names on a bulletin board
Somehow, we’ve always been freer with given names. I’m awfully disinclined to be Oflee, though. Image from @eliza_og via Twenty20.

Those of us who were in the feminist movement of the 1970s and 1980s got all worked up over this remnant of the patriarchal system we were trying to overcome. It was quite the hot topic, since for many of us, this tradition held sentimental attachments and symbolized “love” and “commitment” to them. Others didn’t want to feel like someone’s possession and didn’t want to change our names. Both sides have valid arguments.

A picture of Icelandic money
Iceland also has women on their money, and guys with cool hats. Image from @SteveAllenPhoto via Twenty20.

It’s often been pointed out that, well, if you keep your birth name (maiden name, not a popular term among my friends at the time), you are simply keeping a patronymic from the previous generation. Yep, that was totally true, unless you happened to be from Iceland (like Björk Guðmundsdóttir) or using a Gaelic system (Máire Ní Bhriain).

As alternatives, people thought about new ways to symbolize with their names that they have formed a commitment to make a family unit. A lot of people hyphenated their last names or used both, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, as it’s quite common. Sometimes both partners do this; sometimes just one of them do. Hmm. Others just added the new one to their previous one. I actually bowed to pressure and was SueAnn Kendall Crain for two years. I never got comfortable with it.

See, I even have things published under that name.

Some of us (me since the Crain episode) just kept the names we were given. However, I’d hoped to give male children their father’s surname and female children mine. Only little dudes showed up, though, and their names match their dad’s Irish surname quite nicely, so I’m okay with it.

The most fun names to me are ones where people combine their sirnames (yuck yuck) to make new ones. I knew a few people who did that back in the 80s, then didn’t hear much of it until later. I LOVE some of the combinations people come up with!

names on a wall.
Choose random syllables and have fun.

The option that bows the least to the patriarchy is where members of the family select a completely different name to symbolize their commitment. Why not? Genealogy students probably roll their eyes at this, but hey, at some point in history, that’s what everyone did. English people chose their occupation (Archer, Butcher, Tanner), where they came from (Kendal, in northern England), a personal characteristic (Whitehead), etc. Other European places made similar choices, while Gaelic folks stuck with their patronymic Mc- and O’ (son of) surnames (very few women continue to use the ní (daughter of) ones today). So if I wanted to be Suna Plantsinger, I could. Lee wouldn’t go for that.

Back to Combining Names

Where am I? I didn’t intend to write a history of surnames. I do believe one can look that all up on the googles. What I was trying to get to was how popular the idea of combining the last names of people who’ve formed family units is among my friends. I asked people this a couple days ago:

Thinking about surnames. What if you and your spouse (or partner) blended your surnames as a sign of commitment? What would you get?
A fun question

At this time I have had 171 responses. I guess there was some interest. Most people simply took the beginning of one name and combined it with the end of the other. Some really came out like names that should stick!

  • Kendall + Bruns = Kenduns, Brundall (Kens, Brunsken, etc.)
  • My neighbors Faivre + Mitchell = Fitchell or Maivre (best was Faivritch)
  • Lozano + Harris = Lozarris or Harrizano

It got more creative when people took random syllables and moved them around, or surrounded one name with parts of another.

  • Brukends is one I like for me and Lee.

Here’s a story someone shared, which I hope is anonymous enough not to be invading their privacy:

We have friends named FredRICkson and PeTERson who got married. They took the middle syllable of each name (the core of who they are) and now are legally The Ricters which I love. They used a scrabble tile themed sign to announce it after the ceremony.

That was so creative!

There were two couples whose name ended up nearly the same as each of their existing surnames. I guess that was destiny!

  • Peterson + Jensen = Petersen, Jenson

None of this solves the problem of our names being reminders of not-too-distant times when women could not own property, vote, etc., and in fact WERE property. But, it shows that today we can have some fun with it. I’m thinking of a party game or something, where folks could vote on the best blended names.

Desperate for fun? Ummm…maybe.


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Frigid-Pocalypse! The Cold!

I’m not apologizing to anyone tired of weather posts. All we have here is weather, and since we can’t go anywhere or do anything, it’s weather-post-a-rama here in the ice cube known as the middle of Texas. It’s cold as when I used to live in Illinois, only that it not at all normal here. No one remembers it being this cold. And last night’s blizzard of sleet and snow was something else. The good news is that the sun is out for the first time in days.

Blurry, since there’s no way I was going out to actually get this shot up close, but it WAS pretty this morning.
Here’s the farther-out view.

And we do have power, which is good. Many parts of the area are dealing with rolling blackouts or just plain outages. The less good thing is that our heating system can’t cope, so it was 45 degrees this morning in our bedroom. My office is the warmest place, and I found a heating pad. We sent the space heater over to Jim in the RV, who needs it way worse than we do!

Chickens, cows, and all are still there. The pond/tank froze for the first time!

Today’s snow isn’t as pretty as last time, because the wind blew it out of the trees, but I’ve been enjoying bird watching out the window. Cardinals always look spectacular against the snow, and the little sparrows are bopping around like crazy. The crows are cawing (celebrating all their wins, I guess), and the doves are flopping around grumpily. I saw at least one live chicken outside (I have NOT dared to walk around, since it is 8 degrees outside).

Sunrise through the screen. It’s cold.

I’m very thankful Ralph said he would check on the horses, since driving over there would be dangerous without four-wheel drive, even though it isn’t very far. Mandi slid down the hill going up to the cemetery yesterday, when she was attempting to go UP. So, we will not be leaving the house.

Frigid.

We managed to sleep fine last night with sufficient blankets and warm dogs. Carlton stayed under the blankets all night, but surprisingly enough, he and Penney went out and ran around and played for a while. They’re tough, but not like the cows. They just want their water trough de-iced!

Whee! Penney’s feet don’t want to touch the snow!
All the frolicking did not last long.

It has even snowed in Yorktown, where Kathleen and them are, a thing they don’t remember ever happening. Lee says his dad experienced it, but then, he lived through most of the 20th Century! Yorktown is not that far from the Gulf of Mexico, so that’s saying something. It’s a big weather day for Texas!

Luckily, I have lots to blog about and enough bird-watching and knitting to get me through the day, but my longest exercise streak died yesterday, what with all the sickness and the confinement to quarters.

From what I can tell, nothing’s been down our county road today.
Rather accurate depiction of me.

I only feel a little sickly today, so it looks like I’ve kicked the vaccine’s butt and my immune system is strong and vigorous. Hooray.

If you are in any of the many, many areas in the US hit by this awful weather, I hope you stay safe and warm. It’s bad all over, and much worse in the north. You are all in my thoughts.

Feel free to share your experiences or commiseration!

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