Monday, May 25, 2009

Our Old Chipiona Home

Friends recently made available pictures that brought back wonderful memories from our time in southern Spain in the mid-1970s.
Here is the front of our beautiful mansion/community house in Chipiona, Andalucia.
Unfortunately, the house was torn down in favor of apartment buildings in the 1980s.

From the balcony overlooking the celebration below. The Spanish tile in this house is the same as that found in the renowned Plaza de EspaƱa in Seville, Spain.

"Our" beautiful stretch of beach on the Costa de la Luz in Chipiona.

Another view of the beach with the cathedral in the background.
A typical get-together at the Chipiona house, sharing food and fellowship with family and friends around the dinner table.
They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here we are in Colorado over 30 years later, sharing with family and friends around a fine feast!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A is for Autodidact

The definition of autodidact in its very simplest form is "a self-taught person." This is the idea I have in mind of autodidacticism—a self-taught person.

We often think of an autodidact as one who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education, but it seems that on one level, we are all autodidacts. No matter how good the teacher, or rigorous the education, each of us must exert some effort, however slight, to allow learning to take place.

No matter how excellent the instructor, the student must actively listen in order to ingest, digest, remember, and use the information. If one is not interested in learning, the best teachers and the most expensive schools will not suffice.

On the other hand, if one is obsessed with learning, nothing will prevent that one from seeking out knowledge.
Much autodidacticism takes place through the medium of books, yet this is not strictly self-teaching. The author is a teacher in absentia. On the other hand, without the autodidact's effort in reading and understanding, no learning (and therefore no teaching) takes place.

For more on learning and teaching, see my previous post here.

Although I have had many fine teachers over the years, both in school and out, I consider myself an autodidact.

Have I sufficiently muddied the waters concerning the meaning of the word "autodidact"? If so, I have accomplished my purpose.
Seriously, though, I love the word, and so does Detective Robert Goren of Law and Order, Criminal Intent, who has used it on at least two or three shows that I've seen.

Etymology: [from Greek auto-, auto, self and didaktos, teaching]

Other forms: autodidactic, autodidactically

Related words: didactic, didacticism

Friday, May 15, 2009

A is for Amen

Recently someone made what he considered a clever comment about three English words known around the world—amen, hallelujah, and Coca-Cola. The ironic thing is that none of the three is really English. (Okay, I suppose we can consider the word Coca-Cola in its form as a trademark to be a native American English invention, but coca and cola themselves are simply transliterations from their original languages—Quechua and Temne respectively).

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language gives the etymology of amen as follows: [from Middle English from Old English from Late Latin from Greek from Hebrew]
The word passed through these languages virtually unchanged, simply transliterated in each case.

The original Hebrew word amen is part of a wonderful constellation of words having to do with truth (see my earlier entry)—or faithfulness. The word amen has been used in its untranslated form in virtually all of the world’s languages and thereby has blessed and enriched virtually all of the world’s peoples.

This is another Hebrew word that has found its way around the world without translation. Although today it is commonly used as an exclamation or interjection used to express joy or praise, the original word is in fact an imperative, i.e. “praise the LORD” (the word LORD being an evasive synonym in English for the name of God after the pattern used in Hebrew). The word Hallelujah (and its unaspirated Greek form alleluia) are among the most popular words in western religious hymns and songs of praise.


Coca-Cola is not, strictly speaking, an English word either. Coca comes through Spanish from Quechua, from the dried leaves of the plant from which cocaine is extracted.

Cola, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is either of two tropical African evergreen plants having nutlike seeds yielding an extract that contains caffeine and theobromine and is used in carbonated beverages and pharmaceuticals. Cola finds its origin in West Africa, possibly from the word kola (the kola nut) in the Temne language.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

My blog has functioned as a place to record family celebrations and events. Birthdays are celebrated (the first one was in 2007-here), and travels and special events of all kinds are documented. With family in different states, not to mention continents, it seems to be a convenient way to communicate what is going on in our lives.

So what better place to wish a very Happy Mother's Day to my Mom.

In so many ways, she is the person most responsible for loving and nurturing me, and laying the groundwork to make me the person I am today.

The picture above is an early picture of us together.

Here is a picture with us and the next generation, taken at Estes Park last year.

This is a picture of Mom and her sister, whose family was always very close to ours.

As I was pondering this blog post, some ideas came to mind about the divine and motherhood. Much religious doctrine recognizes and proclaims God as father and makes much of this fatherhood in relation to his children. Yet it seems to me there is a great motherhood of God as well, a nurturing, nourishing, inspiring, hovering presence that corresponds to the female side of the human being (the Adam). Consider the following:

Genesis 1:27 And God created man (Heb. the Adam) in his image. In the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them.

From this we learn that the image of God is made up of both male and female elements. Without one or the other, the image of God is simply incomplete. So without an image of the motherhood of God, as well as the fatherhood, our understanding of God is incomplete.

The idea is further buttressed in Genesis 5:1, 2. When (lit. in the day) God created man (Adam), he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when (lit. in the day) they were created, he called their name Adam.

I am thankful that, just as my father gave me a model of God in that role, so my mother gave me a wonderful example of a heavenly mother, watching over, nurturing and loving me always.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

We met at our new favorite sushi place with Jimmy, Hannah, Pam, and Jill.
The character for dragon is certainly correct, but all my dictionaries translate the last character as "castle," so this might really be the Dragon Castle!

The sushi is excellent, and the Chinese food isn't half bad either.
Happy Mother's Day!

Our new favorite sushi chef. He even talks to us in Nihongo!

Kathy and Hannah being silly with the rose given Kathy by the restaurant.

Dragon Wall is located at 9931 Grant St. in Thornton. For more information, please call 720.872.1818. Metro North Chamber of Commerce blog post is here.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Recipe Blog

I just think it's a shame, a shame, mind you, that more people do not visit our daughter's great recipe blog, which she calls Pass the Beans, Please or The Beans Blog.

When Kathy and I were driving to Manitou Springs (earlier post gives the details), we were listening to 850 KOA's The Ride Home, and they were discussing food and taking pictures of food. We called in and mentioned our daughter's food blog, with the address of the web site. I figured that would cause a lot of hits on her site, but no such luck.

I'm hoping that this post will bring the thousands of hits I expected from 850 KOA to visit her recipe blog. It really is a great site. Nothing there but great menu ideas and recipes.

Check it out here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A is for Avuncular and A Nuncle

All right, it's time for more exposition of my dictionary exploration. I know because of the thousands of emails and requests I've received to resume my dictionary writings. (Okay, not really, it's because I can't help it.) Although I haven't written anything recently, I am constantly delving into words and their origins. I thought I would write some of it up tonight.
Something today reminded me of the word "avuncular," which is personally relevant. It means "of or having to do with an uncle" or "similar to an uncle, especially in benevolence or tolerance." It comes from Latin avunculus. The word "uncle" itself derives from the same Latin word.

I, of course, knew the word avuncular, but as I began to research it, I found some other interesting terms. It turns out that in Latin, an avunculus actually only represents a maternal uncle. Avunculus apparently derives from avus (grandfather), so an avunculus is a "lesser grandfather." It doesn't take much imagination to see how avus could derive from Hebrew av (father). See my discussion of av and abba here.
A paternal uncle is a patruus (father's brother is a "second father" from pater, father).
A maternal aunt is known as a matertera in Latin (a second mother, from mater, mother). There is apparently an obscure English word, materteral, in the Oxford English dictionary (in 1823) which predates avuncular (1831), but it is rarely seen, whereas avuncular is in common usage. More on this here. A paternal aunt (father's sister) is called an amita.
That brings us to another concept I wrote about here—a process called false splitting or juncture loss. A chiefly British usage derived easily from the phrase "an uncle" into "a nuncle." The Bard himself used it as follows: "Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?" —Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Seis de Mayo

So Cinco de Mayo is a very important date to our neighbors to the south, but to me a much more important date is Seis de Mayo.
It was on that date 37 years ago (okay, 38!) in Columbus, Ohio that we met. Since then, we've been together pretty much ever since.
The following picture isn't exactly contemporaneous to that date, but it's closer than anything else I could find after searching for four hours (I have the perfect pictures of us, somewhere, but I put them away in a safe place, a very safe place. They remain very safe!)
The above picture was taken in Rota, Spain in the early 70s. In response to Bonnie's question, this is at the terminal in Rota, picture taken by our friend, Marcelle. I was returning from an 83-day deployment to the Persian Gulf aboard USS Lasalle. We are looking at our sweet little girl, Bonnie! (Here's a picture of her in downtown Rota at about the same time.)

Here's a shot of USS Lasalle, cruising in the Persian Gulf.

Of course, even before Kathy and I met, Seis de Mayo was an important date to me. It is the birthday of my brother, shown here in one of the only periods of my life when I wore a hat (the other being my military service, although we called it a cover)!
Happy birthday, John!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Tokio Templins

There's a tiny town in Washington state called Tokio. It's on I-90, about 50 miles southwest of Spokane. We stopped because of a) the fact we lived an hour from the real Tokyo (that's the one in Nihon--Japan) and b) Templin is an ancestral family name and c) our daughter told us about it!

Apparently the name Tokio was attached to this location in Washington by the Asian workers who built the railroad through this area of the country. Today the "town" is not much more than a Weigh Station for truckers on the interstate.

Fortunately, they did not exercise their right not to serve us.

Kathy reading the menu.

To keep us entertained while we waited for our food, the diner kindly provided humorous books similar to this one:

So if you find yourself on I-90, halfway between Spokane and the Tri-Cities, and you're looking for a place to eat, check out the (now) famous Templin's Cafe in the tiny town of Tokio.

Sabba and Jack

Family Resemblance?