Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Comment On Spending, Ben Franklin, and Our Lifestyle

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”

“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.”

Quotes like these from Benjamin Franklin have gone the way of the savings account. The modern generation in general thinks far more of spending than of saving for a rainy day. We want it all NOW, and buying on credit is easier than ever. The interest in savings accounts is laughably low these days and barely worth the effort.
These quotes still have power to influence, though, as long as one person in inspired to set aside a bit of income, interest or not. Who know what the future may bring.
I think old Ben, upon observing our modern culture, would have sat in stunned silence. Not that there weren’t those persons, when he walked the earth, who spent like there was no tomorrow. But I suspect he would have shaken his head at the recklessness of people who are accustomed to a prosperity most of the rest of the world could only imagine.
And then coined a few more pithy sayings.

What I Learned in 2011

It was labeled Society garlic, and looked so pretty with its striped leaves. The flowers would be lavender. If it grew anything like my garden chives, it would thrive.
It did. But the winter hardiness was labeled 9, and in our 4-if-we’re-lucky northern plains, that means dead by Thanksgiving. So-o-o, when we put our garden to sleep, I dug it up, potted it, and brought it inside.
Can you say, ‘smells like skunk?’
After several months, it is still alive, still thriving, in a closed basement room, and you can still smell it from the hall. For a few days I tried enclosing it in a white garbage bag, but it made absolutely no difference in how strong it smelled.
The enclosed room? My sewing room.
I have always longed for a root cellar like the one my Grandma had. The earthy scents emanating from that space are among my favorite. But I’d be willing to sacrifice that for the remainder of the winter if I could cover up that garlic/skunk odor.
Well, I don’t have a root cellar, and haven’t sewn as much lately as I usually do. Funny thing, though. After about an hour, my sense of smell seems to take a siesta, like when you sniff too many perfume samples. That way I get a little sewing done, after all.
So I need to do some research. Should I have let the garlic die back and taken in just the bare bulbs?
And how did I let myself be fooled by the name ‘Society garlic?’
Lesson learned. But when I replant in the spring, I fully intend to divide the garlic into several clumps and spread that summer loveliness around. It really was rather pretty. Outside.

An Update on my Nook

I wrote earlier that I was looking forward to using my new Nook electronic reader.  I do like it, but have learned a thing or two.

For one, I no longer ‘purchase’ the free books of classics like Jane Austen’s books, or Pilgrim’s Progress.  Every single one of those downloads had weird word spellings or odd font figures, added punctuation that made no sense, and other little frustrations that made the reading of the text, in some cases, impossible.  I was willing at first to overlook the word ‘first’ spelled ‘fiinst’, for example, because I could interpret it through context. But most of the text problems are worse than that.

The ‘free for a day’ books I’ve downloaded are better, but not totally free of mistakes.  A book I read this last month, in fact, left out entire paragraphs in one instance.

The moral of the story: sometimes you get exactly what you pay for.

A Look from Inside

I took a free afternoon recently to watch a favorite DVD, Gosford Park. Having noticed the screenwriter, Julian Fellowes, on other movie credits, I’m watching for him as a writer I might want to follow. I saw him in Monarch of the Glen in his role as Killwillie, which I enjoyed. He wrote the original script for The Young Victoria, and also the successful television series Downton Abbey.
So that afternoon, just two days ago, I hurried down to the library and checked out Julian Fellowes’ Snobs and Past Imperfect. And read them in a day and a half. Mr. Fellowes is a member of the Peerage of Great Britain, so his experiences and memories make up some insightful reading in these two works of fiction. Of the two, I liked the second better, as there was more of an unsolved mystery in the plot, but they were both very interesting.
The world of the British aristocracy is so foreign to me, but intriguing. I will keep my eyes peeled for more from this enjoyable author. Cheerio.

The Nook

Finally, reading for pleasure from an electronic device I can take anywhere.  It’s large enough for even late-evening reading when my eyes are tired and strained from the day, and small enough to take to bed.  And there’s this: no need to aim a flashlight to see my fiction in order not to disturb sleeping hubby.  Downloads are instant, making it necessary to put the brakes on impulse spending, but so far that hasn’t been as issue.  I think I’m going to love my Nook.

A Brief Look at the Latin Language

A Brief Look at the Latin Language

By Andee S. Davis

You may by now have heard a version of the old schoolboy’s lament, “Latin is a dead language, as you can plainly see. It killed off all the Romans, and now it’s killing me!”

As a Latin student in high school, I fully understood their point of view. Latin was anything but an easy A and it took time, effort, and brain power to stay alive ourselves, in that class. But there was always something curiously satisfying about making it to the end of a tough Latin translation. Like figuring out a secret code.

A “dead language,” it is so often called. But though it is no longer taught by mothers to their babies in any culture, calling Latin a dead language is a misnomer. Rather, I would say, Latin lives on in so many forms that it will not die in the foreseeable future.

It is said that 75% or more of our English language comes from Latin, yet English is considered Germanic in origin. Languages like French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian descend directly from Latin and are therefore called Romance Languages. Romance, meaning: one that descends from the ancient Roman tongue. Why is it, then, that Latin derivatives dominate our English vocabulary?

While English owes most of it words pertaining to home, family, and farm to Germanic languages, the words we use which refer to knowledge, education, science, religion or the arts come directly from Latin. The written records of Old Latin don’t go as far back as those of Greek, which was also widespread as a language of the educated. But despite their similarities, Latin did not evolve from the Greek. The origins of Latin and Greek are likely an earlier language known as Indo-European.

What contributed to the widespread use of Latin over Greek was the conquering of many nations by the Roman army and the rise of the Roman Empire. A map will illustrate the vast lands that the leaders of Rome dominated for the greater portion of the thousand or so years of its existence, in a wide ring around the Mediterranean Sea and northwest to Britain.

By the age of Classical Latin, basically from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D., enough literature survived to provide a small but impressive library of this highly stylized form of the language. At the same time the ordinary citizens of Rome spoke a common version called the Vulgate. As the centuries passed Latin evolved somewhat into Medieval, Renaissance, New Latin and Recent Latin. There are even now those who promote the speaking of Latin in everyday situations, but their numbers are few and likely limited to professors and students: enthusiasts of the Latin language.

There arose, in the centuries after Julius Caesar and his contemporaries, an institution so enduring that it survived the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. and continues to this day. The Roman Catholic Church, established by Emperor Constantine in the year 312, has contributed greatly to the continued life of the Latin language. Not until the middle of the twentieth century did the Catholic Church abandon its strict adherence to Latin, but it has left the world with countless examples of Latin writing in ecclesiastical documents. As well, Latin was the language of science and learning throughout Europe and east to the Byzantine nations.

As Rome declined, the conquered peoples retained Latin as their written and spoken language. However, without Rome as their unifying force, the provinces of Gaul (France), Hispania (Spain), Dacia (Romania), and Italia (Italy) developed their own dialects of Latin and combined it with their native tongues. That is why, today, these languages are called Romance Languages.

Things were different in Britain, though. As far back as the days of Julius Caesar, the Romans made their presence known in the land they called Britannia. They were able to conquer the island as far north as the area of modern Scotland. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Germanic invasions into Britain influenced the language, thus English is considered Germanic. However, many centuries later, the Normans attacked Britain from the east and finally conquered that land, bringing into the English language the influence of French, which is Romantic, or Latin, in origin.

It is fortunate that Latin, a highly inflected and well-structured language, continues to be studied…and tolerated…by students of every sort even today. It is still pervasive in science, medicine, and music, worldwide. A language that survived the rise and fall of so many cultures, Latin’s influence permeates practically every modern culture across the globe today. A dead language? Viva lingua Latina!

A Little Etymology

At one time (during the Victorian Era) London was the greatest city in the world.  The name London comes from the town’s ancient name,  ‘Londinium.’  Oddly, no one really knows what it means or where it came from originally.  According to the Museum of London, Londinium is not Latin but of pre-Roman origin.  Wikipedia suggests it was named by King Lud of Welsh mythology, after himself.  Wapedia suggests a common theory that it descends from the word ‘lond’, meaning ‘wild’, of Celtic origin.  Richard Coates, while professor of linguistics at  the University of Sussex, introduced an explanation that London is derived from the  pre-Celtic word (p)lowonida, meaing ‘river too wide to ford,’ referring to the Thames at London.

Article on Andee by The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA)

An Accomplished Woman

To date, JASNA has only one member in North Dakota, Andee Davis of Bismarck. From her driveway, Andee can be “in country in five minutes, and far from any traffic in about fifteen.” With no region of fellow Janeites to sustain her, it is just as well that Andee has “always loved our remoteness,” but Andee is far from anti-social, and she celebrates and champions Jane Austen in her own ways.
Andee’s first encounter with Jane Austen was reading Pride and Prejudice “as a very young woman, but I missed the wit the first time around. I really ‘got’ Jane Austen when I next read Emma.” Emma has remained Andee’s favorite Austen novel: “I love the humor; I love Miss Bates and her non-ending monologues. I like the fact that the heroine doesn’t quite know how self-centered she is, but as the book progresses, her understanding improves.”

The internet led Andee to JASNA when “about three years ago I ran into it somewhere online.” According to Andee, she joined JASNA because “I want to know more about the woman Jane Austen, and as much as I can glean about her times.” Andee is also a member of the Republic of Pemberley website, but she qualifies her RoP postings: “I’m more of a purist, not just a person who wants to chat online.” Andee keeps an eye out for other North Dakota Janeites, “I meet a few now and then,” and she loans her Austen film collection to the uninitiated, “people who are unlikely to read Austen and find that they like the movies.”

Andee has also “shared my love of Austen’s books with my Latin students, and one of them is thirteen and the bookworm type. She is headed in the direction of becoming a true Janeite,” so Andee may not be the only JASNA member in North Dakota for long.
Andee celebrates Jane Austen’s birthday at home every year with her grown daughters: “We watch one of Jane’s books on video.” Her favorite Austen film is the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma: “It’s full of wit and fun.” For 2008, Andee’s Austen birthday festivities included trying recipes for dishes that Jane Austen would have eaten, and Andee also has plans for her future December 16 celebrations: “One of these days I’m going to sew a Regency gown and wear it.” When you do, Andee, please share a photo with JASNA News. ••
The above article is excerpted from JASNA News
Volume 25 No. 2, Summer 2009.

Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange

This is the third of the “Diary” books that I have read.  My favorite was Mr Knightly’s Diary. 

Colonel Brandon’s Diary takes us into the Point of View of one of my favorite Austen heros, though I think that I like him as much as I do because of the favorable representations of his character in recent Sense and Sensibility movies.   In this book, Ms. Grange goes back into Colonel Brandon’s history to his first love, his father’s ward, Eliza.  Amanda Grange fills in ‘what might have been’ with enough insight for us to deveop an understanding of the colonel’s psyche.  Staying close enough to Jane Austen’s original story to keep most Janeites happy, the author adds some satisfying final scenes, as one of my very few criticisms of Miss Austen is that her books leave us wanting more.  No, not a criticism, really, but a longing to find out what happens after the last word.  (As we know, Jane Austen wrote no sequels.)  I appreciated how well Grange had Brandon care for his ward Eliza Williams and her baby.

I’m rating Colonel Brandon’s Diary an 8.5 out of 10 just in comparison to Mr. Knightly’s Diary and Mr. Brandon’s Diary, which I liked better.


Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

I’m glad I gave Julie Garwood another chance.  Last year I borrowed her The Wedding from the library, having seen it recommended as her best novel.  It was my first by this prolific author, but I couldn’t make it past the first several chapters.  My disappointment came as a result of the unnecessarily graphic scene between the hero and heroine.  That’s just not what I want to read about. 

But Shadow Music was better.  Though there was eventually a scene between the protagonists, (they were married by then) it was less graphic and near the end of the book.  Personally, I find reading sex scenes tedious and a little ludicrous.  When I read a historical romance, much of my interest is in the setting and the characters.  A great plot helps, but what goes on behind closed doors…or in the forest…does not enhance the story for me. 

In Shadow Music, Ms. Garwood provided enough interesting characters and a plausible plot, to keep me interested.  And of course, in addition to Highland warriors, a princess, royal secrets, monks and an abbey, there were castles!  What didn’t I like?  Two pesky little boys who needed a good spanking and never got one.  They did eventually advance the plot, but not until the end.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I will rank it a 7.