Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting Lost

     Some people get lost in the country, in the woods, or in downtown Dallas. I get lost in reference books. Opening a dictionary or thesaurus is a risky venture when time is at a premium. All those words to discover! I never heard of osculum, but it sure resembles oculus, which was on a recent Latin vocabulary list. Did you ever learn the word ostinato? Apparently, students of music may have. Ah, and food lovers may recognize ostracod, which is seed shrimp. Now here's a word Rebeca and I encountered in the encyclopedia while researching the Visigoths: Ostrogoth. For what it's worth, the basic monetary unit of Mauritania is called the ouguiya. See how interesting the book is?

     Even you might spend a few minutes longer than intended in some of my reference books. For example, The ABC's and All Their Tricks, The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling is quite fascinating. Fellow students of the Word may relate to my attraction to Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. I won't even pull it off the shelf for fear of never finishing this post!
     When planning a new knitting project, Barbara G. Walker inspires me with A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. With over 500 patterns, it isn't exactly an "in and out" proposition. Which is how I also feel about my Student Atlas of the World when looking up a location in homeschool classes. I mean, how much history was written due to one simple element of nature: water? Sometimes enabling, sometimes prohibiting, travel and trade, war or peace.
     There is yet another volume that eats up time, but rather than excite me, it leaves me confused and a bit shamed: BJU Press' The Writer's Toolbox, A Writing and Grammar Handbook. Half the reason I teach Rebeca grammar using the most rigorous curriculum I can find is because I never learned it in school!
      Last of all, I will share a thrift-store gem, a tome that can be pulled out to embark on a voyage of pure reading pleasure. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations holds over 40,000 quotations in its Second Edition. Oh, I must share a few!
"A dance is a measured pace, as a verse is a measured speech."
"Caesar, when he first went into Gaul, made no scruple to profess 'That he had rather be first in a village than second at Rome.'"
Both are by Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, who also penned,
"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."
Does Maréchal Foch inspire you with these words:
"My centre is giving way. My right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack."
For all the defenders of our great Republic, I shall leave you with a quote by Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, born in 1890.
"Well, fancy giving money to the Government!
Might as well have put it down the drain.
Fancy giving money to the Government!
Nobody will see the stuff again.
Well, they've no idea what money's for--
Ten to one they'll start another war.
I've heard a lot of silly things, but Lor'!
Fancy giving money to the Government!"

Isn't that appropriate for our times? I hope you enjoyed this fun little piece of mine. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
How do you feel about reference books? Fascinating? Fearsome? Folly? Where do you get lost?
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