Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.
Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose!
Yes! That's my name among the co-hosts. It's been a while.
This month's question is: Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy? Oh heck yes. I've read tons of books, not just novels, where I wanted so badly to write like that. Here are a few authors who almost always blow my socks off, who make me sigh: Kahlil Gibran, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Stewart, Tolkien...the list is long.
Origins: a recurring post in which I delve into the history of a word or phrase.
Perhaps your mother, like mine, got frustrated with you and your messy room. Perhaps she told you it was pigsty. Or, like mine, told me it was a shambles and that I'd better clean it up or I'd find everything that was on the floor that didn't belong there, outside on the ground. (That happened twice.)
Shamble comes to us from the Middle English word shamel or shamil which was a kind of table used to display meat. There are similar words in Old Saxon skamel, (stool) Middle Dutch, schamel, Old High German, scamel, German, schemel, Danish skammel (all meaning a kind of footstool) all of which ultimately were borrowed from the Latin scamillus, which is a low stool or little bench.
Apparently in the day, a shemel had very distinctive legs and began to be used to describe a person who's legs looked like the meat table; they were bowed or malformed. Because of the deformity the person couldn't move around easily. So, from a shemel, we get the verb, "to shamble," which is one way to walk. Eventually a shamble table came to mean a kind of butcher block, which in turn became another word for a slaughter house. So when my mother called my room a shambles she was really saying, "Your room's a bloody mess!"
LoanWord: A word adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification.
Today's loan words are from the Niger/Congo region which is a goodly portion of West and most of Central Africa. Banjo, Chimpanzee, Goober, Gumbo (which means okra), Impala (a car don't you know?), Marimba, Tilapia, Banana, Bongo, Chigger, Jazz, Jive, Merengue Mumbo Jumbo, Mojo, Okra, Tote, Yam.
And let's not forget Jumbo, which means elephant. Here's a picture of the one and only Jumbo the Elephant (which is redundant because what you're saying is Elephant the Elephant).
His story is rather sad.
A Dribble for Jumbo
Orphaned in the Sudan, he was sold to an Italian, then bought by a German and moved to the Paris Zoo, then the London Zoo where both tusks were broken. Sold to Barnum and Bailey, he was put on display. He was hit by a train and died.
Today I'm thankful for being able to work on a family project. Many years ago my grandmother (mother's side) wrote and published a cookbook. Me, my sister, and a cousin are going through the process of making all the corrections and edits that never got put into the book. Her book is unique as it tells the story of her life in the Caribbean and how she ran a guest house, used local foods, and fed fussy American tastebuds. She could feed as many as 60 people a day and she did it all without electricity. She became so "famous" that twice she had articles written about her in the New York Times. Many well known people, like the author John Dos Passos, and Dr. and Mrs. Robert Oppenheimer, stayed at her guest house. This revision is long over-due and so worth it.
Twice now, as I've been typing it up and making corrections, I have been brought to tears remembering.