Auto Prompt – Knowledge Challenge – Combermere

It all started so innocently, as most of them usually do, though this one was unusual, because it involved my often less-than-innocent Scottish ancestors.

Scottish Flag

I needed a four-letter crossword solution for ‘sea’, starting with M. Five minutes later, working sideways, I had ‘mere’? 😕 Quick Archon, to the dictionary. I soon found that the Scots, through a mouthful of oatmeal porridge, had turned the French word ‘mer’ into ‘mere.’

Through my Scottish heritage, I knew that there was a small Southern-Ontario town named Combermere, and one back in the UK. The word ‘comber’ has two pronunciations. There is the usual English Coe-mrr, which is a person or device which combs. Also, a large, long wave, which can strip (comb) things off a beach as it crashes ashore, is a comber. Then there is the Scottish Comm-Brrr, which is used for personal and place names. I once heard two women refer to a man, whose name of Comber they’d read but not heard, as Coe-mrr. As a Scot, I knew better. What did those old kilt-wearers mean when they put those two words together?

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I quickly learned that the mere was no vast sea. It was merely a wee mountain lake – a tarn. The ground around it was too rocky for agriculture, so sheep were raised. However pronounced, the word comber had the same meaning. Once the sheep were sheared, and before the wool was spun to thread and woven into bright Tartans, it was combed (carded), whether by hand, like the hand-carders above, from my Gadgets post, or with a hand-cranked, mechanical device.

The shearing of hundreds of sheep produces a lot of fleece. While the men were busy tending to the now-nude creatures, the women combed, and combed, and combed. Combermere became the name for a pastoral little village which grew up at the lower edge of a Scottish lake, renowned for its yarn and woven cloth.

Don’t look for it there now. Time, and society, and politics changed over the centuries. All that’s left is the Combermere Abbey, in England, near the northern border of Wales. It was named for an Earl of Combermere, which title was given to an Englishman, after James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

If you’re interested in some hand-carded fleece, or hand-spun yarn, or hand-knitted or crocheted apparel, join the daughter, Ladyryl, at her blog, or at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective. She’ll show you how it was done in the Goode Olde Dayes.

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Cross Words

Crossword

CROSSWORD PUZZLES LEAVE SOME PEOPLE BLANK

Some people just don’t understand what people like me get out of doing crossword puzzles. We sit for hours, poring over ambiguous clues, to fill in little boxes, and when we’re done, all we have is a page full of letters.  I mean, we don’t even get a prize for all that work.

As you’ve probably guessed, lots of folks, my darling wife included, do not find crossword puzzles _ _ _ (three letters across, first letter F)  Even though I’ve almost made a C_R_ _R (life’s work, six letters) out of writing and playing with words, trying to do a crossword puzzle is an agonizing chore for many.  Their minds just don’t work that way.

My wife will sit for hours without saying a word, while I do my puzzles.  If I happen to muse aloud, “What’s a four-letter word for a garden tool?” she will quickly reply, “Spatula.”  I say, “No!  I think it’s rake.” and write that down.

If I had simply asked her to name some garden tools, she could have rattled off a whole list, from rake and shovel, to trowel, spade, and ‘Garden Weazel.’  Because I specifically mentioned a four-letter garden tool for a crossword puzzle, she can’t think of a single one.  Her mind just goes BL-N- (empty, five letters)

In fact, the moment I posed that question, she couldn’t think of a garden tool to save her life, even if she were being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition.  The Inquisitor could say, “All right, heretic.  Give me a three-letter word for ‘poem’, starting with O, or I will lock you in the Iron Maiden.”  She’d probably just stand there and say, “I think it’s ‘Owl’, before they ran the sharp spikes into her body.

CROSSWORD PUZZLING

The reason that some folks can’t think of answers to crossword puzzle questions is that, whenever they’re presented with a clue, their mind becomes a big, dark room where they rummage around, trying to find something, anything, to fill in the blank spaces.  They grab onto it, and shout ‘Spatula’ for no apparent reason.

The best they can do with crosswords, is come close.  If the clue is – a beverage: P_ _, they write down PUB, which is actually fairly good, since at least a pub is a place where you can get a beverage.  If the puzzle wants ‘Lennon’s widow’ in three letters, they put down ‘Mrs.’

Crossword clues are just plain confusing to some.  They read the clue: ‘state that borders Mexico’, starting with A, and try to put in ‘Atlantic Ocean.’  Or they look at the clue: ‘High ranking marine,’ with five spaces, and try to fit in ‘humpback whale.’

Obviously, they have to write really small when they do crosswords like that.  The boxes get so crowded that they have to stack letters on top of each other.  On the other hand, sometimes the word they want doesn’t work, because they don’t have enough letters to fill in all the boxes.  The clue will be: ‘balloon filler,’ needing four spaces, and they put in AIRR.

For some, the problem started back in school, with tests that had them fill in the blanks.  They’d get the history question, ‘The Gettysburg Address was delivered by……..’  They would go into that dark room and come out with, the Post Office.  Or, on a Geography quiz, the question would be, ‘The United States capital is in……’, and they put down, ‘total confusion.’

A fellow-student in one class would look at the first question on the test and panic.  Your name……….  He would wave his hand frantically, until the teacher said, “What is it, Myron?” and quickly write Myron down.

I had an uncle who liked to enjoy the company of a crossword puzzle book and a glass of wine after dinner.  After he passed on, I happened to pick up his puzzle book and look in it.  The clue would read: Lone Ranger’s horse, and he would have written GZODKE.  He had fooled us.  He didn’t like crossword puzzles at all!  He just liked the quiet, and a chance to drink.

Wine

WOW #35

Polar Bear

Oh, the things I learn, when I’m trying not to learn something else.  So, there I was, blithely gambolling through the dictionary, when I tripped over

Arctophile

noun

a person who loves, likes or appreciates bears.

a person who is very fond of and is usually a collector of teddy bears.

Everything has a name, and usually, the name means something, if we only stop and think.  😛  Ow, ow, ow.

The ATLANTIC Ocean is so-called, because it is supposed to contain the lost continent of Atlantis.  Once Ferdinand Magellan fought his way through the rough seas, and around Cape Horn, it was on the one day that the rest of the ocean that he could see was calm and peaceful, so he called it the PACIFIC ocean.  I wonder what the residents of Hawaii are thinking about that title these days.

BTW – I have a clear memory of my Grade 6 teacher telling the story of Rocky Balboa’s grandfather, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, hacking his way across the Isthmus of Panama to reach the western ocean – and being the one who found a calm, serene body of water, and dubbing it Pacific.  She obviously mixed the two explorers up.  😳

The ARCTIC Ocean got its name from the presence of polar bears.  ARCTURUS (guardian bear) is the brightest star in the Great Bear (Big Dipper) constellation.

In trying to free my foot brain from arctophile, I stumbled into the word NUBILOUS.  At first I wondered if it was related to the word, nubile.  Regarding a woman, that simply means, “suitable for marriage.”  Crosswords often give clues like ‘beautiful, attractive, or good looking.’  She could be as ugly as a junk yard dog, but if she’s physically developed and single, she’s nubile.

NUBILOUS is actually a reference to the ancient land of Nubia, and it means, cloudy or foggy; obscure or vague; indefinite.  Nubia was a region in S. Egypt and the Sudan, N. of Khartoum, extending from the Nile to the Red Sea.  Despite being mostly desert, apparently there was a section of it which was cloudy or foggy, probably by the Red Sea shores.

Because of pronunciation and spelling drift, Nubia is also The Land of NOD mentioned in the Bible where Cain went to get a wife.  I’ll pronounce you man (or woman) and blog-post if you’ll stop back soon.  😀

Fun With Travel

Elvis

Travel Jokes

Las Vegas

I phoned up to buy tickets for an Elvis tribute act.
It was an automated phone system which said:
‘Press 1 for the money / 2 for the show’

Hotel Reception

Two men in full armor walk into a hotel lobby.
One says, “A room for two knights please.”

Snow & Skiing

How does a penguin build its house?
Igloos it together.

Hotel Restaurant

The waiter asked me, “Would you like to hear today’s special?”
“Yes please,” I smiled…
“Today is special.” he replied, then sashayed off.

Swimming Pool 

A man climbs the diving board with a fish.
The pool guard says: “What are you doing with that fish?”
The man replies: “Triple somersault with pike.”

Hotel Gym

Exercise bikes get you nowhere.

Cruise Ship

I’ve been watching a documentary about how they build cruise ships.
It was riveting.

Train Journey

If you see someone doing a crossword today, lean over them and say  7 Up is Lemonade!

Holiday Photos

My camera keeps falling off the strap.
It’s a bit of a loose Canon.

Hotel Garden

Just saw the hotel Gardener crying over his lawnmower.
He is just going through a rough patch!

Airline

Cabin Crew said to me, sir, would you like to have dinner?
Me: What are the options?
Cabin crew: Yes or no.

Egypt

My wife just asked me, “Can we go on a camel?”
I said, “No way….it would take ages to get there on a camel!”

USA Burgers

How did the hamburger introduce his girlfriend?
Meat Patty

 

The Best Laid Plans….

Sexy

I woke up today feeling marvelous!  I even impressed me.  I felt that I should publish a post so that I could inform others of my magnificence.

Planning

If I’m going to compose something to impress others, I need a plan. Think!  Think!….

Procrastinate

A plan is a great idea, but – the cats need kibble, the dog needs out, there’s a newspaper to be read, and a crossword to be done. The wife needs help with supper and dishes….

….

….and the sun has gone down, the moon is risen, and all my wonderfulness has faded into the darkness.

For those of you who may feel I have not put enough thought or effort into this post.

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Ah well, perhaps tomorrow.   😎

The Games People Play

Heston

Our fellow-blogger, AFrankAngle is a teacher. His posts are well researched and clearly presented. His interests cover a wide territory, and include social and political happenings. He is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is keeping an eye on, and commenting about, the upcoming Presidential election.

The State of Ohio plays a pivotal role in such elections. It hosts the Primaries, and is a make-or-break State. I hope both you and Frank are appalled and outraged by the following little story.

The wife plays several games on a game site, as an anodyne to get her through some pain-filled days. Nothing exciting like Grand Theft Auto – just Canasta, Monopoly, Jungle Gym, Scrabble, and occasionally Crossword Cove, which I help her with. Usually she plays against the computer, because she says the other humans are too stupid and slow, and resentful when they get beat.

Apparently wasting spending time just playing games isn’t enough. The game site has recently added a chat-room-type sidebar, where you can make comments while you’re playing the games. It provides a list of conversation starters.

A couple of days ago, it listed;

What genre of Television do you prefer?
Who is your favorite Television character?
What Television episode disappointed you most with its outcome?

There were no takers for the TV genre question, I suspect because no-one knew what that big word, genre, meant.

Some woman got the TV character segment off to a bad start by listing Robert Uhrich, who was an actor, not a TV character, and who died 12 years ago. She was followed by a player who identified as a 67-year-old man from Ohio.

Perhaps led astray by the woman, he went even farther afield by declaring that his favorite TV character was Charles Heston, and the TV episode that disappointed him most was Ben-Her.

People, get out there and vote! These highly knowledgeable people vote, and if you don’t, Donald Trump will get to be president. 😳

And now back to our regularly scheduled rant about Canadian politics, so that you’ll know that there are idiots on both sides of the 49th parallel. We have a candidate for Prime Minister who first told us that, “The budget will balance itself.” He’s now switched to Care Bear policies, where he claims the budget needs to be, “Balanced from the heart outward.” Donald Trump is startin’ to look good.

#495

I Wish You Hadn’t Said That

Being a rant about the things that people write without thinking, mostly, but not entirely, incorrect homonyms.  Crossword puzzles still irk me when the creators don’t really know what they’re talking about.  The Canadian province Alberta, can be rendered AB, Alt. or Alta, but not Alba.  That’s another name for Scotland.

“Refrain from” does not mean cease.  Refrain means not doing something.  Cease means you’re already doing it and must stop.  A video was titled “crazy way to tow a bus”, and showed it being pushed.  Towed means being pulled.  Pushed means not being towed.

Connotation vs. denotation means, what people think things mean, instead of what they really do mean.  Often secondary meanings become so common that the original gets lost.  If I were hungry, I might be a little testy, but peckish means hungry, not testy.  I get a bit testy when people don’t know that.

Ordinary folk using the wrong word is common, but it especially irks me when someone who really should know, doesn’t.  Probably not old enough to remember wringer washing-machines, the female leader of a Provincial political party claimed that, “The Liberals are putting us through the ringer.”  What a ding-a-ling.

The editor of an on-line publishing company got rid of a troublesome client, and wrote, “Good riddens to bad rubbish.” apparently not knowing the existence of the word riddance, and that riddens is not a word in English.

A successful author’s character, “Reloaded his weapons, and checked his partner’s ordinance.”  There’s a law against that, because weaponry is ordnance.  This man has three university degrees, works for NASA, and has six successful books – just not a publisher with a proof-reader.

“Grant shirked back into his leather duster” and the author shirked his duty to discover that the correct word is shucked – to remove from, or in this case, return to, an outer covering.

“I’m not the kind of mother who pawns her children off.”  I didn’t know you could get money for the little ba….bies.  She should use some to catch a magic show.  Closely watching a card trick will show you how the performer palms the card.

For all intensive purposes – or, for all intense and purposes.  My intents (intentions) and purpose is to remind people to think about the correct word.

I despair of ever having the general public correctly use the forms of lie and lay.  Misusage is endemic in newspapers, and on TV.  “Danny DeVito and his wife laid low.”  If you are “laid low” you’re dead.  Lay requires a noun to perform its action on.  Lie doesn’t.  You can lie down, and lay your head on a pillow.  You can lay your mistress, and lie to your wife about it.

I am sadly amused by those who are illiterate enough to not know that the word segue is pronounced seg-way, but have the arrogance to “correct” it by writing segue-way.  I mentioned it to the great Edward Hotspur when he did it, and was promptly run over by his turbo-charged ego.

We go back to the pawnshop for the story of a young man and woman who hocked their virginity online.  In aggressively promoting something for sale, they hawked the product.  A businessman offered Brittany Spears $2 million for her virginity.  This gal got $68,000!  The guy just got a lot of people shaking their heads.

A man who’s reputation preceded him should have thought, damn it, if it has an apostrophe, it’s an abbreviation.  Whose yer English teacher?

A woman wanted to sell an original addition of War and Peace.  Damn, it’s long enough already!  Why would you want to increase it?  Another genius wanted to sell a Star Wars action figure – Job of the Hut.  I thought nerds could read and write.

They failed to chalk the truck in place, after arriving early to get a good birth on the ferry, and its parking breaks failed.  This author/book must take some sort of prize for having the most mistakes in one sentence.  I’m sure you already know, but the correct words are chock, berth, and brakes.

After seen the video, or, I seen the video.  One wrong word taking the places of both seeing, and saw.

He hit one out of the part.  What!!?  Let’s hope that was just a baseball typo.

It meant that, simply foot…  Simply put, I don’t even want to know what the author thought the word foot meant in that context, oh damn, that thought word again.

For sale – radio arm saw.  I wonder if it’s AM/FM.  I have a bionic shoulder.  What’s a radio arm?

Don’t say anymore, the game’s a foot, just proves that two words don’t mean the same as a single compound word.  Allot means to divide, or portion out.  I see that a lotAlot is a lot closer, but still not proper English.

It is not a case and point.  It is a case in point, in case no-one pointed that out.  And it’s neck and neck, side by side, not neck in neck, which is impossible.  Think damn it!

A palace spokesman changed his tact.  If he’d been a sailor, he’d have correctly changed his tack.

There was wed paint on the rod iron railing.  I know you got the wet paint.  Did you know the railing was wrought iron?  Hogs get into chicken coups…and cause double entenders.  Hey, if you can’t handle English, stay away from French or someone could get hurt.

The wing snapped off the plane, and it augured into the ground.  Well, I could have foretold that.  The spirally thing you’re vaguely thinking of, is an auger.  While we’re talking about machine-tools, she wore a fancy broach on her lapel.  Not my Mom, she wore a brooch.

For better or words, (Ow! Ow! Ow!) that’s all my rants for this time.  Come back soon and I’ll tell you a funny story.