Monday, November 21, 2016


Goddamn Blogspot, not cooperating. 
Yes I've restarted my computer. Still not working right.
Lately Blogger is getting on my nerves. 

My vocabulary is probably about average. I read a lot, but sometimes won't slow down to look up an unfamiliar word, instead guessing its meaning from those around it. When Joan gave me the Canadian Oxford Dictionary for Christmas one year, I began to change this lazy habit. That's when I learned not only how often my understanding had been incorrect, but how many more words I have never heard of. Now I keep my journal and pen handy while reading so I can scribble words, sometimes even those I've looked up before, and write down their definitions. It slows me down, but it's worth it. Tedious, but worth it.

From Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes:

He was in his early forties, with a pinky glabrous complexion and square rimless spectacles: the banker type of academic, circumspect and moral.

Can we deduce love for Juliet Herbert from the fact that Gustave called his greyhound Julio? Some can. It seems a little tendentious to me.

It seems a reasonable guess that if he had eaten bear he would have commented on such ipsophagy.

Or is this coloration indicative of a further shift away from humanity, a progression to the extremes of ursinity?

glabrous: free from hair or down; smooth skinned

tendentious: calculated to promote a particular cause or viewpoint; having an underlying purpose

ipsophagy: not in my dictionary, not in an online dictionary, but I found this in a review of the book: "If Barnes wants to be as nitpicking as this I may as well point out to him that `ipsophagy' is a dreadful mixture of Latin and Greek roots, and if he wanted to coin such a term it ought to have been `hautophagy'." Unfortunately the book's been returned to the library so I can't re-read the entire section around the word to figure it out. 

ursine: of or like a bear

Sometimes I'm almost embarrassed that I don't know or remember the meaning of a word that is commonly used or that I've looked up before. Almost. It keeps me humble.

Then there are the new words discovered while searching out definitions for others. This morning while turning the pages toward 'glabrous' I learned something new:

gittern: a medieval stringed instrument, forerunner of the guitar

My journals are filled with quotations and excerpts from the books I read. From Flaubert's Parrot:

"As you get older, the heart sheds its leaves like a tree. You cannot hold out against certain winds. Each day tears away a few more leaves; and then there are the storms which break off several branches at one go. And while nature's greenery grows back again in the spring, that of the heart never grows back."

The author, Barnes, was a grieving widower when he wrote this book. 
I copied out these few sentences and followed with a note of my own:

"This seems apt enough, but I choose not to believe it. I'll remain positive and expect my heart to be more open to beauty and joy as I get older."

It's a perfect example of my wilfulness. Barnes is probably absolutely correct, and he should know, having experienced the loss of a beloved spouse. I don't want to accept this kind of inevitability, even if my elders tell me how it is, and so I arrogantly insist that I won't, that I'll have healthier beliefs and therefore avoid their experience. My world will be different. Pfft! I never did learn much the easy way. Wouldn't listen to anyone. Still don't. Found out many times that it would have been wiser to take heed.

Monday is my bread-baking day, and this week's batch isn't spoken for so the loaves will go into the deep freeze. It means I thaw and add vegetable water to the dough, which I don't do when a batch is to be sold, as it may flavour the bread in heaven-knows-which-way, depending on what we've been eating. Potatoes, cauliflower, whatever, if it's been steamed I've saved the liquid to get its nutrients.

Veggie water now lukewarm, with molasses and vegetable oil stirred in.  
The liquid will be added to 20 cups of whole wheat flour mixed with yeast and salt, and toward the end of the kneading period I'll slowly pour in sunflower and sesame seeds. I thank the DoGs each week for my kneading machine, which saves me 15 minutes of huffing and puffing.