Some birth-year words

Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s “Time Trav­el­er” fea­ture, I now know that the fol­low­ing words’ and phras­es’ first record­ed use hap­pened the year I was born:

And dozens of oth­ers, too. How about you?

(Maybe lat­er I’ll indulge in a caipir­in­ha.)

Campfire Week

File Photo: Laundry

It was gor­geous out this week­end, sim­ply beau­ti­ful. Highs of 29°C Sat­ur­day and Sun­day. So I washed, like, all the laun­dry in my house and hung it on the line to dry on Sat­ur­day.

My neigh­bours decid­ed to have them­selves a fire in their back­yard fire pit, about an hour before I brought my laun­dry in.

Long sto­ry short, every shirt I put on now smells like camp­ing. Not that I’m com­plain­ing.


For a scene in my cur­rent work in progress, I want­ed to know what the prop­er term is for the skull­cap worn by bish­ops in the Catholic Church. So I Googled arch­bish­op skull­cap, as you do.

The word is zuc­chet­to. It comes from the Ital­ian for … Pump­kin. (Because, appar­ent­ly, the lit­tle caps—worn to keep the bish­ops’ heads warm—reminded peo­ple of pump­kins cut in half.)

I end­ed up going with “archbishop’s skull­cap” in the man­u­script.


A cou­ple years ago, I had an epiphany while read­ing Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, when the nar­ra­tor Sev­er­ian point­ed out that

It is always a temp­ta­tion to say that such feel­ings are inde­scrib­able, though they sel­dom are.

Today, though… Today I was fin­ish­ing Wolfe’s superb 1988 nov­el There Are Doors, and I hap­pened upon this on page 294:

"An indescribable sound filled the arena"

Which is it, Mr. Wolfe? Which is it?

I must admit, though, it’s nice that, imme­di­ate­ly after he calls the sound inde­scrib­able, he pro­ceeds to describe it with delight­ful econ­o­my. Wolfe may be fond of unre­li­able nar­ra­tors, but his prose is reli­ably amaz­ing.



Series: Gene Wolfe

The entire series: The Gold­en Sen­tence; A les­son in a line; Inde­scrib­able; My head’s swim­ming now; The Island of Dr. Death.

Memories of JJ, 6 — Tar Fumes

(This one’s Susie’s, but I’m steal­ing it.)

Dad was, shall we say, not a fan of The Simp­sons. (Nei­ther is Mom, for that mat­ter.)

Susie was home for the week­end, or maybe for the sum­mer. She was down­stairs watch­ing The Simp­sons. It was the episode where Ralph falls in love with Lisa, and makes the mis­take of telling Homer that he’d do any­thing for Lisa.

Any­thing?” says Homer. Aaaaand smash cut to the scene above.

Just at that moment, Dad walked into the room. He laughed. And as I’ve men­tioned before, Dad didn’t gen­er­al­ly laugh aloud unless some­thing real­ly tick­led him.

Susie gave him a Bust­ed! look.

He still refused to watch The Simp­sons, though.

My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Memories of JJ, 5 — Dietary quirks


Everyone’s got things they like to eat and things they’d rather not share a plan­et with. For instance, I love lasagna*/** and loathe turnips.


How do you eat your French toast? But­ter and syrup, right? Maybe some whipped cream and berries, yeah? Not Dad. No, he’d but­ter it, add salt and pep­per, and then slice it up and dip the pieces in straw­ber­ry jam.

I asked him once why he ate it that way. “When I was up North,” he told me, “I’d nev­er had French toast before. Some­one told me it was like scram­bled eggs mixed into toast. So I rea­soned that you put but­ter and jam on toast, and salt and pep­per on eggs.”

Try it. It’s deli­cious. (Rasp­ber­ry jam is also a great choice.)


Dad hat­ed yogurt. Hat­ed it. For years I wouldn’t eat it, because I assumed he was right. (He told me once that it looked, and I quote, “like the end prod­uct of a sick horse.” But he enjoyed cot­tage cheese. Go fig­ure.)

Also he refused to eat kiwis. “I’m not putting some­thing in my mouth that’s that shade of green.” I used to real­ly enjoy eat­ing them right beside him. I’d even exag­ger­ate the smack­ing sounds that are pret­ty much de rigeur when you eat kiwi.

(Hmmm. Read­ing this back, it appears I might be a ter­ri­ble son. Oh well. Je ne regrette rien.)

* I don’t much care for Mon­days, either. Maybe I’m Garfield.

** Also, Dad taught me how to make lasagna Flo­ren­tine, which is the best. Maybe I’ll make some this week.

My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.