He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. ~ The Great Gatsby
© copyright Alicia Padrón 2013
My quick #Twoodle
for this week using the words
If you want to participate, you can!
Just click here
to learn more. :o)
The weather has turned from unusual freeze to spring-like sun and warmth here in Provence. So out I marched to inspect my post-frost garden and do some much needed clearing up.
Once I'd done with pruning away frozen bits, weeding (they seem to have survived exceptionally well, of course), generally cleaning up and watering, I went back in to flip through garden magazines and was inspired enough to do a quick coloured pencil sketch of what I can only call either deep yellow or pale orange daisies ... well, flowers of a sort.
Enjoyed myself thoroughly though. Time to start planning the garden for spring and summer I think. Cheers!
By Anatoly Liberman
In October 1860, an otherwise undistinguished old bachelor, who resided in the country and told this story himself, volunteered to walk with his nineteen-year old niece to her father’s house, two miles or so away. They had not gone a hundred paces when they were suddenly overtaken by a young gentleman of their acquaintance. The man remarked that he was heading in the same direction and with their permission accompanied them. Since the young people “seemed very much taken up with one another,” the uncle did not pretend to be part of the group and ambled peacefully behind. When the company reached their destination, the gentleman bid them goodbye, and the young lady informed her uncle that she could not thank him enough for being so kind and doing gooseberry. The old man had no idea what she meant and inquired around. All his friends laughed at his ignorance.
In dialectal use, to play gooseberry was first recorded in 1837. As we can see, even two decades later not everybody understood it. The OED gives several citations for gooseberry “chaperon” but does not try to explain its origin. The musings offered below will be of little help, but they may provoke a comment from someone better informed about such matters than I am. In some places, it was customary to send a young boy to accompany lovers. The boy, whose instructions were (proverbially) “to pick daisies” but who would be smart enough to understand what the grownups expected from him, must have enjoyed the role of a family spy and done everything in his power to spoil the fun. He was called a daisy picker. (The Germans, at least at that time, called such an implacable buttinsky killjoy elefant “an elephant.”) All this makes sense, but why and how was daisy replaced by gooseberry and daisy picker by gooseberry picker? According to one conjecture, gooseberry pickers (grandmothers, aunts, uncles—not necessarily young boys) hurt their hands by dealing with prickles while the lovers were having a good time. This is a far-fetched hypothesis. A search for a “proto”-story in which an innocent old relative was picking gooseberries, unaware of the events a few yards away, did not yield any results.
Just how gooseberry is connected with goose is also unclear. Associations between plant names and the names of birds and beasts are as common as they are puzzling: compare cranberry, that is, crane-berry (what do cranberries have to do with cranes?). I won’t discuss the origin of gooseberry here because the main competing suggestions can be found in any good modern dictionary. More enigmatic are Old Gooseberry “devil” (no citations before 1797 in the OED) and gooseberry fool “gooseberries stewed and pounded with cream.” Dimwits, devils, and geese have merged in our etymology, and disentangling them will be no easy matter.
For some inexplicable reason, birds are supposed to be stupid. Goose, dupe, and booby (all three are bird names) mean “silly person.” Gawk and possibly geek are cognates of Engl. dialectal yeke (Icelandic gaukur, German Gauch, and so forth) “cuckoo,” but cuckoos have had a bad press for centuries. In addition to gull “sea mew” (“Adieu, adieu! My native shore/ Fades o’er the waters blue;/ The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,/ And shrieks the wild sea-mew”—what a pity that Byron has fallen out of favor!), there is gull “unfledged bird, especially gosling,” the root of the adjective gullible and the dubious etymon (source) of gull “to dupe.” Geese may have been treated with contempt because they were eaten in great quantities and did not seem to deserve a better fate. Gaggling is an occupation of little worth, and being gaga brings little joy. But the other birds?
Fool “dish made with cream” turned up in 1598. The earliest citation for gooseberry fool in the OED does not antedate 1719, and Old Gooseberry (with a small g) surfaced in a dictionary of slang only in 1796. We have no way of ascertaining how long all of them had been current in dialects or among “the lower classes” before they reached print. Of the comparable names of the devil Old Nick, Old Harry, Old Scratch, and Old Bogey come to mind, but there are many more, and the origin of Nick, Harry, and the rest is far from trivial. I wonder whether Old Gooseberry could emerge as Old Goosebury. The noun bury “manor,” well known as the second component of place and family names (compare Bunbury), also occurred with the spelling berry. Goosebury would mean “goose-place; a place where fools live.” Considering how often the devil is outsmarted in folklore, Old Fool would not be an improper name for him. Additionally, Old Goosebury/berry would be hard to understand and thus an ideal taboo name. Gooseberry fool seems to have existed for quite a few centuries. If Old Gooseberry ever stood for Old Goosebury with the sense I ascribed to it, gooseberry fool means “fool-fool or fool’s fool,” a phrase reminiscent of tautological compounds to which at one time I devoted a detailed post (courtyard = “yard-yard,” lukewarm = “warm-warm,” etc.). Be that as it may, judging by the name of the dish, gooseberry and fool combined easily. Is it improbable that doing gooseberry arose with the meaning “going on a fool’s (the devil’s?) errand, playing the role of a dupe in somebody else’s game”? A vague guess about a connection between doing gooseberry and gooseberry fool was offered many years ago. The history of the idiom and of the devil’s odd name is obscure, but we will not find the answer to our riddles as long as we concentrate on the qualities of the berry called gooseberry.
This is all I can offer, but for the amusement of those who think that etymology is the most peaceful pastime in the world, I will quote a passage from Walter W. Skeat’s response to his opponent (December, 1887): “It is thus proved to the hilt, that your correspondents prefer to criticize me without having read what I say. The shame is theirs. I am quite indifferent to such criticisms, except in so far as they bring criticism into contempt. To myself it matters little; for my articles will be read long after these carpings have been forgotten.” Exegi monumentum.
Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them
as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction.
His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist
, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to email@example.com
; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”
iTunes users can subscribe to this podcast
There are a number of different species of flower with yellow centers and white petals that are called daisies, but the reason they are called daisies is because one of them in particular grew in England as Old English was developing.
That species would spend its days looking up at the sky, rain or shine and then as darkness came on would fold its white petals over its yellow center and settle down for the night.
It was kind of like an eye looking up at the heavens.
That yellow middle gave it an especially sunny look during the day.
So people began calling this cheery little flower the eye of the day, which, rendered as day’s eye you can quickly see becoming daisy.
Another welcome flower is the daffodil. In Greek a lily was called asphodelos and the “d” at the beginning of daffodil appeared on, and overtook, an already existing English word affodil after that d-less version had been in use for about 150 years.
Perhaps a less delightful etymology than that for daisy is the one for the flower known as cowslip.
The reason cowslip is called cowslip is because it tends to grow well when it has the help of a little extra nutrients and moisture as might be left behind by a passing cow.
That slip part of cowslip really does refer to the sloppy gloppy leavings of those bovine fertilizers.
Five days a week Charles Hodgson produces Podictionary – the podcast for word lovers
, Thursday episodes here at OUPblog. He’s also the author of several books including his latest History of Wine Words - An Intoxicating Dictionary of Etymology from the Vineyard, Glass, and Bottle
little miss daisy petal pixie in all her glory! this turned out better than i thought (which is always a good thing;)). she is FOR SALE as a REPRODUCTION/PRINT in my etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/listing/63158944/daisy-petal-pixie-reproduction
also be sure to check out her pixie friends "blue belle" and "lily" also for sale in my shop.
up next is the beautiful oriental pixie "sakura"...the japanese cherry blossom petal pixie (and my favorite)!
I've been updating some of my old drawings and adding them to Zazzle bit by bit ... takes time to get everything redone and onto new products. Here are my Daisy and Rose drawings, originally done in coloured pencil -- simple ones that I have had some fun with on photoshop, adding contrast, filters and shadows.
Received Today's Best Awards for envelope designs based on both the (updated) drawings, over at Zazzle:
Daisy cards & matching gifts, and Rose cards & matching gifts can be found at Floating Lemons at Zazzle.
I've just discovered Corel Painter and am thoroughly enjoying everything it has to offer. This blue owl started off as a teeny marker pen doodle in my moleskine ideas book, and was scanned in and dropped into Painter where I had a sinful amount of fun painting him over, playing with their oil brushes and palette. Couldn't do it without my Wacom Bamboo pen and tablet -- I spent a whole day immersed in a non-messy oil painting experience. Can't wait to get my hands 'dirty' again. I have further plans for my Blue Owl, he will be 'graduating' soon and wearing the proper attire for it.
Here's an older drawing (Bee Happy Daisies) that I reworked in photoshop (pre-Painter discovery) and uploaded to Zazzle. I cut the bees and flowers out and played with the design in various configurations on the different products that they have to offer ... I love the customization option on Zazzle that allows for this. So it's slightly different depending on which product it's on up at the store, but this is the original illustration:
Blue Owl cards and matching gifts at Floating Lemons at Zazzle
Bee Happy Daisies cards and matching gifts at Floating Lemons at Zazzle
Rochelle links to a survey done by the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (pdf) which looks at how library users and non-users look at library services across the state of Wisconsin. It also compares results this year with results from the same survey four years ago, so looking at the trends is also revealing. The report is about twenty pages long and worth a pretty good scan. I have a few comments on the survey and the results.
First off, I am the typical “most likely to use the library” user according to this survey. Late 30s, female, comfy with computers and a regular internet user. And, guess what, I use the library all the time! Secondly, the survey puts people into user and non-user groups based on how they answer the question “Which of the following terms best describes how regularly you personally use your public library?” If you answer rarely or never, you’re a non-user. If you answer very or somewhat regularly, you’re a user. I assume there is a decent reason to do this, but I’d think even if you went to a library a few times a year, I’d consider that a rare user but also not a non-user.
One of the most interesting parts of the survey results is on page 16 entitled “New Initiatives” where they ask about how interested patrons are about using some new technology initiatives. To me they are asking all the wrong questions (mostly about content, less about context). They ask a lot of questions about downloadable content, which makes sense since the library probably has to shell out money for these things and wants to figure out if they’re worth it. However, they also ask about 24/7 librarian access and IMing a librarian and also find that people tend towards the “slightly disinterested” side. In fact the only new technology initiative that got anything that fell towards the positive side was wireless internet access. I wish they’d asked more questions about computers generally. Do people want more classes? Do they want more Macs? Do they want more public access PCs?
The next fascinating page follows: what would make you use the library more. The two runaway favorite answers are “If it were open more hours” and “If it had more CDs/DVDs/videos that I wanted” This will definitely be helpful for libraries who are facing funding drives since they can direct appeals appropriately, but I’m curious how the hours question breaks down. Do people want late night hours (as I do), or morning hours, or consistent hours, or weekend hours, what? Similarly, the difference between people wanting more classical music CDs (or any music CDs if your library doesn’t have a music collection) is worlds away from wanting popular movie DVDs.
Lastly, I’d like to point to the Internet question which was sort of glossed over. Of all the people surveyed 26% had no Internet at home and 23% only had dial-up. That’s nearly half the respondents having a level of connectivity at home where a downloadable audiobook is worth basically nothing to them, and likely a group that doesn’t spend a lot of time online. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t still stress technology initiatives, but that’s a pretty sobering takeaway when you’re trying to provide more and more services online.
The summary from the group that did the survey has an odd, to me, conclusion.
So, this information presents a juncture: On one hand, if you interpret the results literally you could make a decision to reject technology and focus on building a collection around personal enjoyment for Wisconsin residents. On the other hand, these same results may suggest that initiatives and library services need to be marketed in such a way that resonates with current conceptions of a public library. To this end, I would suggest an exploration of branding Wisconsin library services to more effectively market services. But, regardless of the direction taken from the juncture, a heightened focus on Wisconsin public library customers and customer service is essential in order to expand and maintain your current brand loyalty.
Do they realy think that the solution to getting more people to perceive value from the libraries technology initiatives is to just find a more effective way to market them? Aren’t there questions they could have asked about the services that would have helped nail this down more effectively such as “Are you aare that the library offers downloadable audio books?” “Do you use this service, why or why not?”
As I’ve said before, I think that before we can fully immerse ourselves in a 2.0 initiative as librarians, we have to make sure we’re counting the right things. If you only collect internal statistics on reference interactions that happen in-person or on the phone, it’s no wonder that IM reference seems like a “flavor of the month” thing for the library to do. And, after the fact, if you can’t show that people are really using the new techie things that you do provide it’s harder to stress that those things that should be part of what your library is and does. Many of these things are countable — website stats, flickr photostream views, IM interactions — the question is: are we counting them?
The libraries in Victoria BC, the subject of an ongoing (166 days as of today) strike, are being closed and employees are being locked out. Here is the statement from the library
Due to the ongoing strike by CUPE 410, the Greater Victoria Public Library today announced that it will serve 72-hour lock-out notice on the union. It is anticipated that the 72-hour lock-out notice will take effect on Sunday, February 17 2008 at 5:01pm.
Here is the web site statement of the union.
In the 165 days since we started taking strike actions, the employer’s bargaining agent has made no attempt to restart negotiations. Since early in 2007, they have simply refused to discuss the major outstanding issues. Library workers experience this as a contempt for their needs, and for their contributions to the quality of life in the Capital area.
Here is a short article from the Vancouver Sun on the subject and a longer one from the Globe & Mail. Here is an column from the Victoria Times Columnist with some details about the actual money they’re talking about wagewise. One of the interesting parts of the ongoing saga is that some library workers, as part of their protests regarding promised but not delivered pay equity with other municipal workers, were waiving overdue fines for all patrons, costing the library between $40,000 and $50,000 per month. This likely endeared them to some of their patrons but was a interesting form of civil disobedience on the job. A few blogs posts on the subject here, and here. [updated because I had the title/location wrong and needed to republish]