Monday, September 29, 2014

Word of the Week - Recap

As I'm sitting here blurry-eyed and sore-throated (sure, that's a word) after my trip to the ACFW Conference, I seriously considered skipping my Word of the Week post and doing a recap of the conference.

Then, of course, my brain went, "Recap...hmm. I don't think I've ever looked that up..." So I did.

Recap is a shortened form of recapitulate, dating from 1920. Recapitulate, in turn, is a back-formation of recapitulation from 1560. So, of course, I have to look up recapitulation. It comes from Old French and arrived in English in the 14th century so is o-l-d OLD! It has a very literal meaning of "go over the main points of a thing again; restate by heads or chapters."

Then of course I had to wonder at why capitulation and recapitulation have rather different meanings, despite just adding that "re." It's because capitulation originally meant "an agreement." As in, one drawn up in heads or chapters. It wasn't until the mid-17th century that the meaning narrowed to "terms of surrender."

As for my recap...I'll do that my other blogging days this week. ;-) When, hopefully, my throat is no longer sore and my eyes  no longer blurry. ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'm at ACFW!



It's conference time! And I'm heading out dark and early this morning to head to St. Louis for the ACFW Conference, where I'll be representing WhiteFire Publishing.

If you're going to be there, be sure to stop in and say hi! I'm presenting a Spotlight On session tonight and taking appointments Friday and Saturday.

Looking forward to visiting with everyone...and to having meals put before me, LOL.

I'll be back on Monday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Remember When . . . the Colonials Were Artistic?

Hey look at me, actually remembering that I should blog on Wednesdays. ;-) In fact, I'm blogging twice. I have a post up on Colonial Quills today too.

It's short and sweet and visual, so I thought I'd direct you that way, for a glimpse at some Colonial American art. Take a peek!

Colonial Quills

http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-art-of-colonial-america.html


Monday, September 22, 2014

Word of the Week - Isle & Island



So, my husband made what I deem an incredible etymology discovery this weekend. That isle and island are completely unrelated words, from different roots.

Color me baffled.

The world island was originally spelled yland, and appeared in 1590...to replace the Old English igland. This spelling is taken from ieg, a word influenced by Proto-Germanic, which means "thing on the water" LOL.

The spelling changed from yland to island in 1590, however, because of the word isle.

Isle is from the French isle, which in turn traces its roots to the Latin insula. So, the same meaning, but one Latin root and one German, and they sounded the same...hence, I suppose, why ye Older English folk decided to spell them the same too. Thereby confusing the following generations into thinking them indelibly related. ;-)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Being a Johnny


This past weekend, I was in Annapolis. Strolling old, familiar streets, laughing with old, familiar friends. Striding across rain-dampened grass that I've darted over many a time, struggling to keep a book-laden bag on my shoulder.

It was homecoming weekend at St. John's College. And we went home.

Now, homecoming is every year, but this is the first we've gone. Because it was our 10th. Ten years! Gracious, that makes me feel old, LOL. But as we sat on the Quad, browsed through the bookstore, and watched the truly spectacular Star-Spangled Fireworks light up the sky over back campus, I realized it didn't matter how long we'd been gone--there's something about St. John's that never leaves you.

The event was over the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, the battle that "The Star-Spangled Banner" commemorates--because Francis Scott Key was an alumnus, thank you very much. =) One of our most famous, but...well, then again we can also claim the creator of MacGuyver. In fact, he received an award at the banquet this year. So yeah. FSK + MacGuyver. St. John's obviously rocks. ;-)
View of McDowell Hall from Back Campus

I don't often just talk about St. John's on here because, well...so few people know what it's all about, and I could ramble on forever on the subject, which no one wants, LOL. But today, I have to talk a bit about it. Because if anything struck me this weekend, it wasn't the fireworks. It was the camaraderie. It was the sure knowledge that whatever stranger I spoke to on campus, we had common ground.

We are Johnnies. And that means something very special.

It means we can talk about Plato, Aristotle, and St. Aquinas. It means we debate Marx and Jefferson and Nietzsche. It means we have a working knowledge of physics and metaphysics and biology and chemistry...and that we might take a conversation on one of those into music theory at any moment. It means we know how to think, we've learned how to ask questions. It means we can carry on a conversation with absolutely anyone, on any topic...though fair warning, we might sneak Greek into the weirdest places.
This is from the SJC website...but it's also pretty much one of my bookcases

Being a Johnny means loving books. Loving literature. Loving philosophy. But more, it means loving learning. It means cherishing what has shaped us, not just the way we turn out. It means recognizing the value of the journey. It means recognizing that different opinions, different perspectives, different conclusions aren't to be dismissed--they're to be learned from. They don't have to convince us...but you know, in examining what we don't agree with, we often discover why.

Yes, we study Mr. God Is Dead right along with Augustine and Aquinas and the Bible itself. And you know what? Reading other people who question the very existence of God, the value of faith, made me value it all the more. Made me understand why I believe what I do...and made me able to talk about it to those who don't.

St. John's helped make me who I am. In every single book I've written, you'll find reference to Program material--whether it be based on the work themselves (like Jewel of Persia) or feature cameos of some of my favorite books (Brook, in my upcoming The Lost Heiress, is wading through the German of Hegel, which is so difficult that German students often use the English translation!).

This weekend, I was reminded of all that. I got to hang out with my friends and talk about everything from dog breeding to Plato's Symposium. Wine making to the publishing industry. I got to chat with current students and know that, though I'm a decade older, we all have that Johnny soul. I got to watch alumni from the '40s come up to the podium and talk about how they fled Hitler's Germany...and were blessed to find the opportunity in America to attend St. John's.

I got to remember why I so love asking questions, exploring the what-ifs, thinking through a story...and teaching my kids Greek (everyone thought that was awesome, by the way). I got to be, not just a wife, not just a mommy, not just a teacher or a writer or an editor...I got to be a Johnny. I'd almost forgotten how cool a distinction that is.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Word of the Week - Level

We all know what level means, right? It's to be even, going neither up nor down. It's the state of being so, like the levels of a house. It's the tool that guarantees it. And all the idioms containing it arise from those. Sure.

But I was quite surprised to learn that the tool is the chronologically first meaning! The English word for such a tool dates from the mid-1300s, taken from the French livel, which comes in turn from the Latin libella -- "scale, balance, unit of weight." The meaning of "horizontally" followed in about 1400, and the line indicated by such a measure in 1530. The phrase on the level originally didn't mean "honest and fair"--it meant "moderate, without great ambition." I had no clue about that one!

The adjective, which I would have assumed to be the oldest definition, didn't in face come along until the early 15th century. Which, granted, is still stinkin' old, LOL. But it's still at least 50 years after the noun, possibly as many as a hundred. The verb followed within another half-century.

Most of the familiar idioms still in use today (level off, level with me...) date from the 1920s. Level off is, not surprisingly, from aviation. 


 photo credit: Walt Stoneburner via photopin cc

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Seashells


Last week, my family had the joy of vacationing in Hatteras, on the southern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as far south as one can go before needing a ferry to continue. We basked in the sun. We played in the waves. We relaxed.

And we collected seashells.

The kids had been looking forward to that part for weeks. When family asked them what they wanted to do on vacation, their answers were: (1) play mini-golf, (2) get Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, and (3) collect seashells.

One small catch--the beach by our house had virtually no shells. For the first few days, they collected about 5. And at least two of those came from the strip of rocks and shells beside our condo rather than the beach, LOL. On Wednesday night, a few had washed to shore, and as we were out hunting ghost crabs, the kids grabbed up all the shells they could find. Very few were what I would deem keepable, but they were the only ones we'd seen, so...

Then on Thursday, we got an off-road driving permit and took the Jeep out onto Buxton point, behind the Hatteras lighthouse. This sandy peninsula was populated by other 4x4s, surrounded by blue-green water...and littered with big, beautiful shells. Eureka!

Now, I've been collecting shells for a lot of years...but always had limited space for bringing them home. So I had to come up with criteria for what I kept and what I left. For me it usually comes down to color and shape. I'm a sucker for pinks and purples. And for whole, unbroken shells. I like the kinds that have swirling patterns. And the ultimate find, of course, is a conch.

My kids though...they would pick up the ugliest, weirdest looking things! Ones I would have tossed back in a heartbeat they clung to with fierce determination.

The broken ones. (But Mommy, look at the cool pattern it makes along the break!)

The common ones. (I can use it as a shovel!)

The ugly ones. (But look, it has fossils in it!)

The ones just like the other twenty they already kept. (Oh cool, now it's a collection!)

At first I tried to reason with them, to impose my logic. (Ha! LOL) And on some, we had no disagreement, like the perfect little conch we found on Friday, our second day at the point. Or the ones with holes that Xoe can turn into necklaces.

But those others...

As I walked the sand, as I kept my eye out for what I deemed the perfect shell, I stopped arguing with the kids. Let them pick whatever they wanted right then--but we'd have to sort through them before we left. No way could we take all those buckets- and bags-full home! There wasn't room in our Jeep.

And yet, as I walked the sand, I knew I wouldn't have the heart to take away the shells they loved, just because I didn't see the beauty in them. In fact, the more I saw the mangled shells they chose, the more I loved those kids.

Because they see beauty where I saw scars.

They see purpose where I see brokenness.

They see what it looked like whole where I see the jagged edge left behind.

They see potential where I see hopelessness.

They marvel at the size where I screw up my nose at the color.

They are so, so much closer to looking at things through God's eyes than I am.

Because let's face it--we're not the pretty, perfect seashells. We're the broken ones. The scarred ones. The mangled ones. The shattered ones. The ugly ones. We're the ones discerning eyes would pass over. We're the ones perfection has long ago left behind.

And God loves us. Not despite our flaws, but because each crack, each track of worm-eating, each place where the sand has rubbed us raw...those are part of us. Part of what makes us who we are. Part of what God loves. He can see the whole, unbroken creation we are in potential...but he can also see the way he can use us in our brokenness. Because of our brokenness.

Yes, we came home with buckets and bags of seashells. And to be honest, I still shake my head at some of them.

But I'm glad. I'm so glad my kids picked up the ones I never would have. Because it proves that their eyes, their hearts, their imaginations go far beyond what I can see. And I thank the Lord that he's given them a bit of his vision. Because if they can find the beauty in this...

...then I know they also see the beauty in us. Just like our Father.