Tag Archives: greek

I Made This Ashtray One Time…

Meraki [may-rah-kee]  This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

Sculpture by Frank Stout
Sculpture by Frank Stout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I heart Rarasaur and Prompts for the Promptless, and this amazing Greek word meraki to the moon and back.  To me it means being impassioned and intense, happy and enthusiastic, loving and giving, all wrapped up in one beautiful little meraki package.

In art meraki could be the colors you use, in writing perhaps it’s the words you choose.  In photography it’s the subjects you see, and your unique point of view and the composition and what you do with tricks of the light to show us not just the picture, but something about the person who took it.

In cooking I imagine it’s the ingredients and the timing and the methods of putting everything together, and then the presentation and a bunch of other mysterious stuff that eludes me.  But never doubt that I put LOVE in my unidentifiable concoctions.

At a very young age (too young to know any better) I thought I would like to one day become a great sculptor.  Or at least dabble in pottery, because that wheel sure looked like some serious fun.  The idea was born with an art project in school where we were each given a lump of clay and advised to make something of our own choosing.  I painstakingly shaped mine into an ashtray.  And not just any old ashtray – this had to be the best and most beautiful ashtray in the world, a present for my mother.  Something just from me.  Something she could love and cherish for ever and ever.

A lot of creativity went into my work, if you count smashing the stupid thing and reshaping it a million times trying to get everything symmetrically perfect.  I molded my heart and soul into that stubborn little piece of clay.  When I was satisfied at last with the results (and my fingers were about ready to fall off)  I chose a shockingly brilliant electric blue for my glaze.  After it was baked and cooled and admired by all (we were kids, what did we know?) I carefully wrapped my creation in tissue paper and carted it home.

It looked nothing like this, except maybe in my dreams.
It looked nothing like this, except maybe in my dreams.

 

I was so incredibly proud to present the fruits of my labor to my mother, who did not smoke.  No one in our house smoked.  We didn’t even know anyone who was thinking about taking up the habit.  She professed to admire and love the ashtray anyway.  We decided it would make a great conversation piece and she gave it a place of honor on the window sill above the kitchen sink.  After awhile I got really tired of all the conversations about it starting off with “oh my goodness, what in the world is that?” But I never tired of hearing my mom explain how hard I had worked to make my very first piece of pottery.  It was like she knew there was the equivalent of blood sweat and tears in that thing, never mind a little girls heart and soul full of love for her mother.

I don’t know what happened to it.  And frankly I don’t care, it was butt ugly – even the artist herself came around to admitting that fact in time.  But it didn’t stop me from continuing on in life creating things with love and good intentions.  And my mother certainly taught me how important it was to appreciate whatever my own kids did from their hearts for me.

I never knew there was a word for putting yourself and a little piece of your very soul into whatever you create with passion and love, but I’ve certainly seen the evidence of it all around me.  It’s everywhere I look.

The next little miracle I come across I will be able to describe with delight and just one small and perfect word – meraki.

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E is for Etymology

E is for Etymology, Origin 1350–1400; Middle English < Latin etymologia < Greek etymología, equivalent to etymológ ( os ) studying the true meanings and values of words.
One of the first things I do every morning is play my many word games.  Apparently, that’s what WRITERS do.  Ergo, I must be a writer.  Ergo is another lovely E word, way quicker to type than therefore, ergo I decided to use it here and if I continue on with this sentence for much longer you will begin to seriously doubt I have any talent for writing whatsoever.  Ergo I shall stop.

If you love words too, check out

PR Daily News 

and click on Writing and Editing.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.  It’s full of interesting stuff.  The article that convinced me I must belong to that elite group called “writers” is here.  Because I love all those word games and play most of them every day.

MOST days I feel very smug and smart with all the words I know or can figure out and sometimes am even able to spell correctly.  Other days it’s good to bring that ego down a  peg or two by playing Etymologic.  The first time I played I got 4 out of ten by making wild guesses.  The best I’ve done is 8 out of 10 by cheating.  You can totally rationalize cheating if you convince yourself it’s in the interests of learning something new and has nothing at all to do with getting a less embarrassing score.

These games are also something I can enjoy by clicking away with one hand while using the other to drink coffee, another activity which gives me great pleasure.  I wonder where the word multitasking originated?  From Latin multis (much, many) and French tâche (job or task)?  Although the word tache without the accent can also mean ink stain.  So another plausible meaning might be too many ink stains on your fingers from writing so much, and ergo, get a keyboard you moron.

Having a good book on the subject of etymology seemed like such a great idea to me this morning that I searched Amazon for just such an invaluable source of information.  There were just way too many choices. What I ended up downloading to my kindle was this:

English Swear Words and Other Ways to be Completely Misunderstood, by Peter Freeman.

I doubt that it will be helpful for cheating at  Etymologic, but it could prove to be wildly educational.  Sort of like learning a second language, and probably a lot more fun than Latin.

My Own Restaurant?

Maybe I’d call it “chez grandmalin”.

When I picked grandmalin as a ‘user name’ all I was doing was putting grandma together with Lin. Seemed innocent enough until someone who knows a lot more about the French language than I ever will wanted to know why I called myself grand malin, or “big malignancy”. Sigh.

‘Malin’ can also translate to ‘clever’, so maybe somewhere in the back of my brain in that tiny little cluster of cells where my french is stored, I thought I was being grandly smart.

Anyway, I don’t want to own a restaurant, and I sincerely hope no one can make me do that. Nor do I want to scare off French-speaking people with duplicitous names.

I think a small coffee shop might be something I could handle, or that I could get other people to manage and run while I sit around drinking coffee all day. And since I seem to have French in my head at the moment, maybe I could call it The French Press. And then people would come in looking for foreign language newspapers.

Buzz Because. Would that work? Please don’t tell me it translates into something sinister in Greek. I don’t care.

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