Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Midweek deep freeze

Boy howdy it's cold. I scamper from home to shop to post office to bank to shop to home, bundled up in coats and boots and mittens and hats. And yet so little seems to get done. January is surely a month for relinquishing expectations that much of anything can get done. I may not even make it through the The Rrrrrrrreader's Encyclopedia by the 31st. I've always wanted to be able to rrroll my rrrrs. I cannot. My painter frrrriend Brrrita can (her husband's name is Rrrrrroberto). I am jealous, but in a sweet way, because I do love that Brrrita so. I have reached the Rs, this morning:

ranz des vaches. A melody played on a Swiss alpenhorn to call cattle. (p.907) (I like the mental image generated by this. A melody, cattle lifting their heads from sweet alpine wildflowers and clover.)

Red Cotton Night-Cap Country, or Turf and Towers. A difficult and rather tedious poem (1873) by Robert Browning, the title of which suggested itself to the poet when his friend, Miss Annie Thackeray, called St. Aubin White Cotton Night-Cap Country, because the women there wore white caps. (p.913)

reduplicated or richochet words. There are probably some hundreds of these words, which usually have an intensifying force, in use in English. The following, from ancient and modern sources, will give some idea of their variety: chit-chat, click-clack, clitter-clatter, dilly-dally, ding-dong, drip-drop, fal-lal, flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, flip-flap, flip-flop, handy-pandy, harum-scarum, helter-skelter, heyve-keyve, higgledy-piggledy, hob-nob, hodge-podge, hoity-toity, hubble-bubble, hugger-mugger, hurly-burly, mingle-mangle, mish-mash, mixy-maxy, namby-pamby, niddy-noddy, niminy-piminy, nosy-posy, pell-mell, ping-pong, pit-pat, pitter-patter, pribbles and prabbles, randem-tandem, randy-dandy, razzle-dazzle, riff-raff, roly-poly, shilly-shally, slip-slop, slish-slosh, tick-tack, tip-top, tittle-tattle, wibble-wobble, wig-wag, wiggle-waggle, wish-wash, wishy-washy. (p.914) (This may be my favorite entry so far in this book. I never knew there was a term for these kinds of compound words, and I was absurdly pleased to discover there was. They have an odd cumulative effect, do they not? The only other ones I could think of were tumble-bumble - from The Poky Little Puppy - and dribs and drabs. By the way, these are niddy-noddies, used for winding yarn.)

Remember the Maine. A slogan used in the Spanish American War after the destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor. (p.917) (The gilt metal fancywork and shield from the bow of the Maine was recovered from Havana Harbor and is affixed to the granite base of a memorial, here in Bangor.)

rogue literature. A type of literature, written in prose, which was popular in the Elizabethan period in England. It dealt realistically and exuberantly with the lives and adventures of thieves, vagabonds, and tricksters in the "underworld" of London or the highways of rural districts, often expanding from fact into fiction, and is regarded as one of the forerunners of the English novel. Robert Greene and Thomas Dekker were the outstanding authors of rogue literature. (p.939) (I now want to start a rogue literature section in the bookshop.)

Russell's Bookstore. A bookstore in Charlestown, S. C., where, in the 1850's, a number of Southern writers such as Timrod, Simms, and Hayne used to meet. Their meetings resulted in Russell's Magazine (1857-1860), which was edited by Hayne and modeled on Blackwood's in Edinburgh. (p.960) (I knew absolutely none of this.)

This section was rife with wonderful long entries, and after I listed all the ricochet words I couldn't add much more. But worth seeking out are: red, the reply churlish, reproof valiant, and retort courteous, then Robin Hood, rulers, and that trio of typophiles, Bruce Rogers, Carl Purington Rollins, and William Edwin Rudge. The end of this book approaches, and a few library sales have come and gone, so I've of course begun forays into the other books that are constantly gathering around me in windrows. I am feeling like pensive thoughtful intelligent memoir-y things right now, so I read Alix Kates Shulman's Drinking the Rain and Anne Lamott's Plan B over the weekend, and am reading Anne Truitt's Daybook: The Journal of an Artist right now, with Anne Truitt's next book Turn waiting on the top of the stack. Truitt says some of the most honest and useful things I've ever read about the process of working, making art. Then, the Odyssey sits on the bedside table. I'm a few books in but haven't picked it up in two weeks (danger zone time). And Pepys remains reproachful, whenever I pass by his stack in the book room: Read, read, rrrread.

Hubble-bubble? Mingle-mangle? Pribbles and prabbles??? Wonderful, silly words, but what in heck do they mean? Does it matter?
In north Idaho we seemed to have ended our period of deep freeze, at least for now, so I sympathize with you and the Maine cold spell.

I'm writing to share a dilemma: as an online bookstore owner (Arabella Books at abe), I am quite puzzled about the pricing of an interesting book that has come my way. I have "Twenty-five" by Beverley Nichols, a first but 6th impression, inscribed to the author John Drinkwater, and including on the fep Drinkwater's gold and black bookplate. Also on the fep is the bookplate of author and librarian Roy Baker Harris (at least it seems like his). The book is only in good condition and rather spine-cocked, but I thought I'd throw the query out for some ideas. It's not everyday that I come across such a historical treasure....
sorry, that's Ray, not Roy...
That's a nifty association copy - I've seen some of Nichols's gardening books but I've never read any of them. Not yet, I should say, because you never know. You should check with the bookplate junkie, Mr. Jaffe (his link is on my sidebar) to see if he has a Drinkwater bookplate. I'm not sure of market value - it's a cool copy, though! Great find!
And yes, Vicky, they don't have to mean anything *that* specific, do they? Most sound like vocabulary for P.G. Wodehouse characters.
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