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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Flash Fiction #188

Lilliput

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

His grandfather had this house built, over a century ago. It had been a proud mansion, 2-1/2 stories of fieldstone, a mile and a half from town, dwarfing nearby one-story wooden farm houses.

Times changed. Commerce changed. Businesses started up, and workers moved in. The city changed. Steadily it bloated out towards him, into pristine Mennonite farmland.

Now, the house was the last of its kind, on a busy street, a Lilliputian, towered over by apartment buildings. Developers constantly hounded him to sell. He would mourn the loss of his heritage, but it was time to surrender and move on.

Mennonite

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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Friday Fictioneers

’18 A To Z Challenge – X

Xerxes

I was afraid that I was actually going to have to do some research – but I skillfully avoided it.

The number of words – interesting words – that begin with the letter X are severely limited, and every year that I publish one reduces the options further. I thought that I might do some sort of historical post about the ancient Persian king, Xerxes. Fortunately, while I was hanging out in the X neighborhood, I found a new, not quite useless word.

xertz

The origin of the word ‘xertz’ is not known. However, it is used in the context of gulping your food or drink quickly and, not to forget, quite greedily. The best example to explain and use this word is when a person comes indoors after bearing the summer heat, and gulps a glass of juice or water with haste – or, when you hungrily gobble the last slice of pizza.

Xertz

I’ll be back, later in the week, with a post that you can sink your teeth into…. after I’ve finished sinking my teeth into the rest of this pizza.   😉

 

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.  😀

’18 A To Z Challenge – G

 

Challenge '18Letter G

For the letter G, I want to take you from Sheep to Socks, through

GADGETS

In my Rapunzel post, I told of my daughter, who is a spinster – literally a woman who spins yarns.  While she also does it with cotton, bamboo, milkweed silk, dog fur, angora, llama and other, more exotic fibers, she most often spins wool.  There’s a lot more to it than just spinning, so I thought I’d show you some of the gadgets necessary to get from a naked ewe, to a well-clad me.

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Most sheared fleece the daughter obtains, has already been washed.  If not, she has to soak it clean to remove dust, dirt, and the natural lanolin.  The above picture is of two hand carders.  Like giant, curved brushes, handfuls of the raw wool are placed on one of them, and then ‘combed,’ to align all the fibers.  Hand-carding is a long, tedious operation.  She also has a hand-cranked drum-carder, but needs the moved-away grandson, to run it.  Usually she just purchases ‘roving,’ which is a commercially produced, loose, fluffy rope of fiber, already for spinning.

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This is a drop-spindle.  Hung vertically, and brushed against the leg to rotate it, the yarn grows ‘up’ until it’s wound onto the spindle to hold it, and the process is repeated.  This one is fairly small, for producing delicate yarns.  Depending on the size, these can produce anything from the finest yarn, up to ships’ ropes.

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These are slightly larger drop-spindles for heavier yarns, one wound with thread the daughter has already produced.  These are all commercially made, but the daughter has several that she built herself from readily available household items.

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This is the smaller one of the daughter’s spinning wheels.  Her larger, better one has two foot treadles, to prevent a sore, tired leg from pumping with just one foot.  Through gear-ratio, the large wheel rotates the small spindle quite quickly, and the thread/yarn flows off as fast as the spinner can keep up.

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This little storage bobbin hangs off the side of the spinning wheel.  As the loose yarn accumulates, it can be temporarily wound on here, until the batch is finished.

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This is called a Knitty-Knotty.  The finished yarn is wound on from the bobbin, up-down, back and forth, then slipped off as a skein.  A loose skein of yarn is not handy to knit from.  The yarn can tangle, or it can fall to the floor.

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This gadget is known as a swift.  A skein can be held in the Vee of the center.  The shaft slides up and down to change its spread, and match the circumference of any skein.  You may notice that all these gadgets are made of wood.  Spinners and craftsmen developed and built their ancestors from wood, long before metal crafting became cheap and commonly possible, so there has been little reason to change what works in wood, into metal.  Steel/aluminum swifts are available, but they are not as inexpensive, tend to jam or tear yarn, and fall apart sooner.

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At this point, the daughter’s yarn reels off the wife’s swift, and goes onto her winder, to produce a small, firm, easy to find and control ball, that will sit on her lap, or drop into a knitting bag.  This is about the only gadget which has successfully been fabricated from plastic and metal.  Like a little sewing machine, the wire arm shuttles back and forth, to produce that round, even ball.

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The daughter knits a variety of things.  Her hand-spun yarns and knitted items can be viewed online at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective .  In the past, the wife has also knitted a wide range of clothing items, but now concentrates on custom-fitted socks.  Non-elastic socks don’t ‘fit all.’  She makes them for the daughter, our son, the grandson and now his fiancée.  The above pair were lovingly crafted for me, when it became apparent that my aging body couldn’t pump enough blood to my feet at night to keep them warm enough so that I could sleep.

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In last year’s A To Z Challenge – K I included information about Herbert, Lord Kitchener, for whom this city is now named.  While not a very nice man, he did accomplish one nice thing.  Hand-knit socks, the only kind available back then, were basically tubes.  The toes were sewn closed, leaving a protruding, rough ridge on the inside.

Kitchener found that, after marching his men for hundreds of miles, their toes were raw and bloody, and the men would refuse to march further, or be unable to manoeuvre when needed.  He went to some women who knitted socks, explained the problem, and asked if there was a solution.  At least one of them said that there was, and explained it to him (or his aide.)

Without being able to knit a stitch himself, he is given credit for “The Kitchener Stitch,” which is not really a stitch, but rather, a type of grafting, or weaving, which closes the ends of socks smoothly.  Of course, the wife knows all about it, and uses it on every pair she knits.

Th-th-that’s all folks – for this time.  I hope to see your electronic footprints back here soon.  They could even be in a special pair of socks if you play your cards right.  😀

WOW #33

Dictionary

This week’s word is for the Millennials.   It is

BLAMESTORMING

Once upon a time, not really that long ago, most folks possessed honesty, and strength of character.  They took responsibility for their own actions and mistakes.  Now, with entitlement piling up like Trump’s tweets against the non-existent Mexican wall, nobody admits to nuthin’.  No matter who you ask or accuse – they were facing north, when things went south.

Definition of blamestorming

The process of assigning blame for an outcome or situation.

Origin of blamestorming

Blamestorming was originally a colloquialism in American English, modeled on the much earlier (1907) brainstorming. It entered English in the 1990s.

“I cannot tell a lie.  I chopped down the cherry tree.” was a loooonngg time ago.  ‘No guts – No glory’ is taking on a sadly different meaning.  Far too few people have the guts to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions.  President Harry Truman would be disappointed to find an America populated with consequence-avoiding wimps who have changed his famous slogan to ‘The Buck Passes Here.’  😛

 

A Poem About My First Car

Poetry

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There won’t be much poem
I had to tow the thing home

It was a dark British green
An ugly shade to be seen

It was never much fun
The damned thing wouldn’t run

It was a ’52 Morris
It wouldn’t start for us

I got it for free
The owner overcharged me

It came home from a farm
The chickens did it some harm

We towed it home with a rope
I never had any hope

I didn’t take time to love it
I just quickly said ‘Shove it’

Mr. Snake-Oil did offer
An older trade he did proffer

vauxhall

I can’t think of a rhyme for ‘learning experience.’  If you haven’t already, but would like to read about my early automotive adventures, click to go back to read about My First Cars.