Monday, December 20, 2010

The Celtic languages: The Three Goedilic Languages

Note: The spacing of one of the paragraphs is being totally uncooperative. Sorry!

Today I wanted to learn more about the various languages of the British Isles. My research covered the six modern Celtic languages stemming from the original old celtic language. There are two divisions: the Goidelic (Gaelic) and the Brythonic (British). The Brythonic languages include Welsh, Bretan, and Corninsh. This post will cover the history of the Goidelic languages.

Insular Celtic: These are the Celtic languages originating from the British Islands as opposed to those developing on the European Mainland. "The Insular Celtic Hypothesis" proposes that the Goidelic and Brythonic dialects evolved together from a common ancestor, totally separate from the long extinct continental celtic languages such as Celtiberean, Gaulish, Galatian, and Lepontic.

Primitive Irish: Also known as Archaic Irish, this is the oldest known form of Insular
Celtic and was used up to the sixth century. Only fragments of this language are known
from stones written in Ogham, an early medieval alphabet

Old Irish: This form was used from the sixth to the tenth centuries and is the earliest form of the Godeilic languages with extensive written texts. The transtition from Primitive to Old Irish included the loss of unstressed syllables and certain consonant changes.

Middle Irish: This was spoken in Scotland, Ireland, and the Island of Man from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. A huge amount of literature was written during this period. Around the 12th century Middle Irish began to transition into Modern Irish. Middle Irish branched out into Modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx (The language spoken on the Isle of Man.)

Gothic Romance Novels

I was eleven when Gothic romance novels first captured my heart.

I've always loved to read. How could I feel otherwise? Living in my parents' home was like growing up in a library. My dad's extensive collection contained every worthy book on LDS church doctrine with a few Eugenia Price thrown in. My mom, on the other hand, loved mystery novels of every type and owned massive quantities of them. And then there were all the children's books! I loved getting scholastic book orders. Other kids were allowed to order one or two books, but I was allowed as many as I wanted, usually seven or eight. And if that weren't enough, we made frequent trips to the library. There was always a plethora of available reading material.

And then there was the value placed on reading. To my parents, few, if any activities, were as worthy, as productive, or as enobling as reading a book. So you see, how could I help but love to read growing up in such an environment?

As a young girl I would often venture downstairs to the guestroom wherein most of my mom's mystery novels dwelled. Few of them were of interest to me. However, two authors managed to capture my attention: Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart, both writers of gothic romance novels. From that point on, I was hooked on the genre.

I soon after became obsessed with books by Eleanor Hibbort, who wrote under the pseudonyms of Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Phillippa Carr. They were my favorite reading material during my teenage and young adult years. Thanks to my mother's frequent visits to used book stores, I now own all the Victoria Holt and Phillippa Carr books. Although the Jean Plaidy books do have some literary value, the others have absolutely none, yet I adore them all the same. I've always longed to be more like the strong, female protagonists of the stories.

A few years ago I came across one Madeleine Brent's books. She hasn't written many, but I love those I've read. I was surprised to learn that Madeleine Brent is actually a pseudonym for Peter O'Donnel, an English comic strip writer. These also feature a strong, female protagonist, and are usually set, at least partially, in some exotic location.

A few months ago my mother happened to acquire and pass on to me a book by Anne Maybury.
I read it, enjoyed it, and ordered three more from the library. They aren't the best gothic romances I've ever read, but I'm enjoying them all the same.

Cadaver Farm

A few days ago I watched an early CSI episode in which a murderer placed his victim in a cadaver farm in Las Vegas. For the next few days I was overcome with curiosity? Did such places exist? Was there really one so close to home? Upon researching the issue I discovered that there really are cadaver farms. In fact there are five of them at various universities around the country. However, none of them are in Las Vegas. So now I know. And so do you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You'll Be In My Heart

A couple of days ago I sat my crying 5-year-old son, Kevin, on my lap. "How about if I sing a song I sang to you when you were a baby?" I asked, and proceeded to sing , "You'll Be In My Heart," from Disney's Tarzan movie. Kevin squealed in delight as he recognized the song.

"That song makes me feel sad," announced my 8-year-old son, Jonathon. "It reminds me of times when you were holding Kevin and not me."

I feel so sad when I think about three-year-old little Jonathon feeling displaced by his new baby brother. Poor little guy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Carol

I finished reading,"A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens. Over the past week, as I've read, I've repeatedly asked myself, "Why haven't I read this before?" This novel has everything to recommend it, being short, easy to read, and simply delightful. Here are some of my random thoughts on it:

First, I have always been charmed and intrigued by Victorian England. I know the reality was not a pretty picture, that poverty, sickness, and squalor abounded. However, the Dickens Village of my mind is an almost magical place with gingerbread-trimmed houses, horsedrawn carriages, and Christmas carolers clad in velvet cloaks. For that reason, I have always been drawn to novels set in the Victorian Era.

After reading the book, I was curious to know more about the author, so I did a little investigating. I learned that Charles Dickens hastily wrote A Christmas Carol in order to meet the expenses of his wife's fifth pregnancy, as well as his extravagant housekeeping expenses. How ironic then that it should become one of the most famous literary works of all time!

The edition I read of The Christmas Carol was beautifully and abundantly illustrated by P.J. Lynch. I found this quote on the back cover quite intriguing. He recalled," I"ve been thinking of illustrating A Christmas Carol for many years. When I lived in Brighton, I used to walk daily past a gravestone belonging to a man called Ebenezer Robbins, who died on Christmas Day, 1842. In my mind, I felt sure that this man must have in some way inspired Dickens to create Ebenezer Scroooge in 1843. And I knew that one day I would illustrate this extraordinary story."

I was particularly interested to see how the various movies had conformed to the book, and was surprised to find that there was little difference between them. Unlike most books made into movies, little was left out. I suppose it is because the book is rather short. The most significant difference I found was in the timing of the introduction of Scrooge's girlfriend Belle. In almost every movie I've seen, she was introduced at Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas party, whereas in the book she was first introduced in the break up scene.
So, there are all my random thoughts on A Christmas Carol. I positively adored this novel and look forward to reading it again the next Christmas Season.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Lesson Learned

Over the past few years I have learned a valuable lesson. The scriptures teach, "By their works ye shall know them." I had always known and believed that passage, but had never accepted its full message. For some reason I had always mistakenly believed that,"By their works ye shall know yourself."

If someone treated me badly or made poor choices I took responsibility for those actions and concluded that if I were just a better person they would treat me better. Yet, through this scripture and other experiences, I have come to know that other people's actions are about who they are, not who I am. The Savior, the only perfect being to walk the face of the earth, was mocked, scourged, and crucified. Yet, he never took it personally. He always knew it was about them, their sins and weaknesses, not His.

Changing my mindset has been a journey. Sometimes it is difficult to remember the lesson I have learned, yet the spirit helps me and strengthens my resolve to take accountabilty for my own choices and no one elses, to judge myself by who I am, not by how others may treat me. This journey has been difficult and painful at times, but I am emerging a stronger and happier person.

Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers of Organization

I recently read Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers Of Organization. To give some personal background, a few years ago, I became very interested (ie. obsessed) with decluttering/organization. I checked out a zillion books from the library and poured intently over them, gleaning many great ideas that I was able to utilize in my own home.

Then, about six months ago, I was asked to teach a R.S. class on the topic. I was thrilled! Really!!! Although I don't normally seek out teaching experiences, when the subject is one near and dear to my heart, I welcome the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion. So...back into my home came all the library books, which I re-read and reviewed to find helpful ideas to share with the wonderful sisters in my ward. My presentation went well, but in the months following I was a bit burnt out on the subject of decluttering...

My feelings changed about a week ago, when I discovered Christopher's Lowell's new book. I've always adored his design ideas, but have mixed reviews on this book. On the topic of purging excess possessions, he added nothing new or insightful on the subject. His ideas were very basic and less noteworthy than those found in other sources. However, as always, his decorating ideas were brilliant. He supplies the reader with fabulous ideas on attractive storage options, homemade bookshelves, and effective room design. And his book is complete with beautiful photographs of before and after pictures.

So, in a nutshell, if you are searching for a book to help you get rid of your excess junk, move on. If you are looking for a book to help you store your stuff in an attractive manner, this is the right one for you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

I've always been obsessed with personality assessment. As a child I would visit the library and return home with piles of books on the topic. None of them had any scientific validity, though I neither knew nor cared. My favorite was The Color Code by Taylor Hartman, which I practically knew by heart. And although it wasn't scientifically based, I learned much about myself and others through its pages.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and is familiar with the book that I am a white-blue, with a little red and no yellow. I have always been drawn to other people who are white-blue combinations. They are kind, empathetic, and reflective. I've always disliked reds and desperately try to avoid them. Their narcissism and controlling attitudes are distasteful to me. As for yellows, I neither like nor dislike them, having no common ground to forge a relationship. That being said, I have good friends from both the yellow and red groups, but their dominant color is toned down by either blue or white aspects of their personalities.
My latest obsession in personality assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory. I first became acquainted with it as a college student, but my interest was recently rekindled when I discovered of a book co-written by one of the original test designers, Isabel Briggs Myers. Like most personality tests, the MBTI has little scientific basis. However, it has been widely used in both career counseling and corporate setings.

According to Myers, people differ primarily on four measures: Introversion (I) vs. Extroversion (E), Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S), Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), and Judgement (J) vs. Perception (P). The various combinations create 16 basic personality types.
Although I've probably never taken the official Myer-Briggs test, I have taken several online copycats. I always get the same results: INFJ. Jared and Makenna have taken the tests with the same results. The crazy thing is that supposedly only 1% of the population are INFJs.
According to the test authors, INFJs-
*Are driven by their inner vision of the possibilites
*Are determined to the point of stubborness
*Are intensely individualistic but take pains to harmonize their individualism to their environment.
*Are deeply discontented in a routine job that offers no scope for inspiration.
*Are gifted, at their best, with fine insight into the deeper meaning of things and with a great deal of drive.
The graphs below contain some basic information about the 16 personality types.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I LOVE making chocolate chip cookies! For as long as I can remember, I have regularly baked batches of chocolatey goodness. Even at times when I had sworn off sugar and fattening foods, I would still make them for friends and roommates. Now I bake them mostly for my family and occasionally my friends, and yes, for myself too. Someday, I want to be the grandma who invites all the neighborhood kids over for chocolate chip cookies.

A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey

I just finished watching "A Christmas Carol," the version with Jim Carrey, for the first time. I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. I was impressed with the computer animation and the Victorian scenery. And on the whole, I liked the representations of the human characters, although to me Scrooge seemed too aged and wizened. And some of the scenes were a little weird for me, like when Mrs. Fezziwig goes spinning up in the air during her dance with Mr. Fezziwig or when Marley's jaw came unhinged. And I was baffled by the characters of Marley and The Ghost of Christmas Past. They were both too far out and strange for me. I said, on the whole I liked it. And my kids loved it! They are watching it again right now.

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

I recently rediscovered the poem, "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter," and fell in love with it all over again. Here it is:

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers
You came by on bambo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering, my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling.
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever, and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed
You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies.
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this Autumn in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden,
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang.
Please let me know beforehand.
And I will come out to meet you.
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nancy Kohler

Nancy Kohler, my visiting teaching companion, is a very famous and immensely talented artist. I have tremendously enjoyed getting to know her over the past few years. As a person, she is warm, compassionate, and deeply spiritual. As an artist, she is so talented that I am completely awed by her work. You may recognize it.

The painting above is Nancy's personal favorite. You can see why. Amazing!!!

Another masterpiece.

Every time Nancy and I go visiting teaching together, she strengthens my testimony and lightens my spirit. She is an amazing person and I feel very blessed to know and love her.

Three Letters From Teddy

Today I read a short story entitled, "Three Letters From Teddy."

Here is a summary by columnist Dennis Roddy:

"The story in a nutshell: Mrs. Thompson, an elementary school teacher, dislikes a grubby, ill-kept little underachiever in her class who, one Christmas, presents her with a broken rhinestone bracelet and a bottle of cheap perfume. She checks his records, finds that his mother has died, and after a weepy hour of self-reproach, takes him under her wing, where he blossoms. There follows three letters after he moves out of town.

He graduates high school with honors

He graduates college with honors.

He is now Dr. Theodore Stallard, M.D.--How about that!--and wants her attend his wedding and sit where his mother would have sat. She, of course, wears the broken rhinestone bracelet."

I was so moved by the full account, that I decided to research it, and was disappointed to discover that it is an urban legend. It was originally authored over 25 years ago by Eliazabeth Silance Ballard as a fictional story for Home Life magazine. doesn't have to have actually occurred to be meaningful to me. The Savior's parables, though fictional, teach valuable messages. Reading The Teddy Stallard Story has helped me remember the power I have to make a difference in someone's life. Although my contribution may not be as significant or far-reaching as the fictional Mrs. Thompson's, I can still help to make someone's world a better place.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Christmas Mystery Solved

This morning my Matthew, my fifth grader, asked if I knew where Christmas was first celebrated? I didn't. "New Zealand," he proudly informed me.

New Zealand??!!! that answer made absolutely no sense to me! I was skeptical, even after he reassured me that his teacher was the one who had told him. Why would the inhabitants of New Zealand be the first observers of Christmas? Rome or Costantinople or pretty much any other location on earth made more sense to me than New Zealand.

Overcome with curiosity, I started googling and eventually got my answer: Because of its location on the international dateline, New Zealand is the first country to celebrate Christmas each year. Ahh..... So know you know!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke

Today I began my Christmas season reading with, "The Mansion," a short story by Henry Van Dyke. I savored the tale of the fictional character, John Weightman, a "solid, correct, and justly successful" pillar of the community. One night he dreams that he passes to the afterlife and joins a group of saintly men and women heading for their mansions in the heavenly community.
I very much enjoyed both the rich literary style and the poignant message of this book. For me, the resounding theme was that of motivation. Why do we serve? Do we do good for earthly rewards or for the true love of others? As I read I pondered my own reasons for helping others. Sometimes I serve for the right reasons; others I don't. In fact there are times when I feel as if I am serving for all but the right reasons. This season I hope to make love for others and the Lord be my guiding motivation in all I do. I'm sure I won't be entirely successful, but hopefully I will be able to make my heart a little more in line with the Lord's will.

Mom Helper

This school year I've been volunteering at the Elementary School. I help out in Kevin's Kindergarten class every Tuesday morning and in Jonathon's 3rd grade class every other Thursday morning. I do all sorts of assignments: make copies, help children complete their work, record assignments, file papers, etc.

Today, I saw another "mom helper" at the school who asked me, "Are you here all the time? Every time I'm here, I see you here." It made me laugh because sometimes I do feel like I am there a lot, but I enjoy it.

Today I helped test the kindergarten children on their letters/numbers to help the teacher prepare for report cards. No matter what I do, I enjoy having the chance to be part of my children's academic world. They are constantly asking, "How many days until you help in my class again?"

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Presidency Christmas Devotional

Last night I watched the First Presidency devotional on KBYU. I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't really in the mood for it and was wishing it was scheduled for another night. But as I watched and listened, I realized just how much I had needed the Christmas message.

I had been feeling a little turned of by Christmas, mostly by the stress and commercialism of the holiday. I enjoyed turning the focus back to the Savior and his sacred birth.

The Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, said that each Christmas season, he re-reads three texts. I (and probably thousands of other church members) decided that I would join him this year in reading these Christmas messages.

First, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have watched many movie versions of this popular book, but have never actually read it. I'm excited to remedy that.

Second, The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke. I'd never even heard of this book, but look forward to discovering it's message.

Last, the account of the Savior's birth in Luke 2. I have read this passage many times, but look forward to reading it again this year.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

As I turned on the radio this morning, I was met with the strains of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

This popular Christmas Carol is based on the poem, "Christmas Bells," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In the years following his wife's tragic death in a fire, Wadsworth experienced a period of deep melancholy.

The American Civil War broke out that same year, adding to Wadsworth sense of sadness and unrest. In December 1863, Wadsworth learned that his son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, had been severely wounded while serving in the Union Army. During the midst of all this trajedy, Wadsworth sat down and penned his classic poem. As Wadsworth hears the pealing of the church bells, he realizes that although his life and world may be in turmoil, the peace and love of Christmas and The Savior would always prevail.

This Christmas season, I am particularly grateful for the birth, life, and sacrifce of Jesus Christ. During my own periods of trajedy and turmoil, He has blessed me with an overwhelming sense of His peace and His love. How grateful I am for Him and for this beautiful Christmas season!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Six Geese A-Slaying

Lately, I've been reading the book Six Geese A-Slaying, the ninth of a twelve book series by Donna Andrews. I highly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys lighthearted, amateur detective novels. The first book of the series, Murder with Peacocks, introduces Meg Langslow, a Virginian blacksmith, whose wildly eccentric family kept me laughing all the way to the last page. This word isn't typically part of my vocabulary, but this series is, "A hoot!" Although I haven't read all the Meg Lanslow books (A condition I hope to soon remedy!) I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have.

My New Blog

Earlier this week, while I was watching the movie Julie & Julia, I decided to start a new blog. You may be wondering, "Why in the world does Christina need another blog? Doesn't she already have two?"

You're right, I really don't need another blog. But I do want one. This blog will fill a different purpose for me than either of the others. "The Overtons of Overton" is primarily a family blog, while "Down Strange Paths" is a private blog, only to be shared with my closest friends. This one is going to be something else, primarily a forum for all my currents interests, projects, obsessions, hobbies etc. I don't expect it to be of much interest to anyone but me. I'm not going to advertize it or encourage people read it. Mostly, it will just be sort of an online diary for me to record some of my personal interests. However, if you do happen to come across this blog, I would love to hear your comments and feedback.