Jane Eyre Vocab & Quotes (3rd Post)

This is the third installment of my longstanding series Jane Eyre Vocabulary & Quotes. So without further ado, let us begin!

merino: any of a breed of fine-wooled white sheep originating in Spain and producing a heavy fleece of exceptional quality. A soft wool or wool and cotton clothing fabric resembling cashmere. [I suppose the wool from a Merino sheep might be assumed.]

Betty’s merino coat was ruined when a hapless construction worker accidentally spilled upon it a quart of crimson dye.

Merino Sheep

hoary: very old. Having gray or white hair.

The malodor of the hoary homeless gentleman accosted Wilbur’s nose as he ambled passed the park bench.

sere: being dried and withered.

Matthew crawled upon his hands and knees, exhausted and close to death, surrounded on all sides by the sere and unforgiving landscape.

rookery: the nests or breeding place of a colony of rooks [a type of crow]; also, a colony of rooks. A crowded dilapidated tenement or group of dwellings.

The birds fluttered about Mrs. Fairfax’ head amidst her futile flailing and her repeated oaths never to enter the rookery again.

cuirass: a piece of armor covering the body from neck to waist; also, the breastplate of such a piece .

Bob donned the medieval cuirass and thought himself a valiant knight in front of his full-length closet mirror.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment on this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it … Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

Me: It’s amazing that Bronte’s sentiment has yet still to be embraced by the whole of humanity. How long have we yet to travel along the winding road of evolution.


Jane Eyre Vocab & Quotes (2nd Post)

This is the second installment of my longstanding series Jane Eyre Vocabulary & Quotes. So without further ado, let us begin!

moiety: one of two equal parts. HALF. One of the portions into which something is divided. COMPONENT. PART.

Jim Bob demanded a liberal moiety of the remaining contents of the whiskey bottle, lest the situation devolve to fisticuffs.

officious: used to describe an annoying person who tries to tell other people what to do in a way that is not wanted or needed.

The officious secretary announced through a critically designated e-mail that the length of all lunches for the remainder of the week should be kept to under an hour.

ireful: the quality or state of intense and usually openly displayed anger.

Gary’s ireful remonstrance of the absence of a wireless connection to the Internet in his hotel room was met with bored ambivalence.

sough: to make a moaning or sighing sound.

The low, plaintive soughing of a doleful lover could be heard from the drawing-room.

cachinnate: to laugh loudly or immoderately.

Upon observing Todd slipping on the icy pavement and falling flat on his face, Sally cachinnated remorselessly.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment on this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

I did not like re-entering Thornfield … to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of an uniform and too still existence; of an existence whose very privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. What good it would have done me at this time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now repined!


Jane Eyre Vocabulary (First Installment)

I’m reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell. The novel recounts the life of Jane Eyre, an orphan that grows up in a boarding school, suffering many injustices along the way, and eventually becomes a governess later in life.

This book is chock-full of abstruse (for me, at any rate) words. I thought I’d document my journey through the book and its formidable vocabulary in my blog.

So, without further ado …

phylactery: either of two small square leather boxes containing slips inscribed with scriptural passages and traditionally worn on the left arm and on the head by observant Jewish men and especially adherents of Orthodox Judaism during morning weekday prayers. AMULET.

I stole David’s phylactery and put it on my kitty’s head.

slatternly: untidy and dirty through habitual neglect. CARELESS. DISORDERLY.

My slatternly habits were disapprovingly scrutinized by my girlfriend.

assiduity: the quality or state of being assiduous (duh). DILIGENCE.

The student applied himself with heroic assiduity to his studies.

mien: a person’s appearance or facial expression.

The wanderer’s somber mien belied his kindness and generosity.

imputation: attribution. Accusation. Insinuation.

The judge’s imputation cut deep the criminal’s guilty heart.

hebdomadal: weekly.

I fervently looked forward to our clandestine hebdomadal meetings in the Garden of Much Zen.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment on this post with your own sentences from the words above. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jane Eyre:

It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.


Ice Bucket, Needle, Garage

The world was black and closed. The curtains were drawn. Rod did not know if it was day or night, whether the sun or moon shone, or if clouds filled the sky. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to care. A gnawing rot of hate burned a hole in his belly. It was the only thing he could feel or cared about.

He sat upright on the edge of the bed. He dabbed a needle in an ink-filled Mason’s jar lid on the bedside table and poked his forearm. He winced. The tiny wound swelled slightly. He had filled a bucket with ice. When he was done, he would use the ice to reduce the swelling. He poked himself again. He looked at the ragged visage in the mirror across his hotel room and breathed deep the frozen air-conditioned air. This is going to take a while. He put the needle down and picked up the smoldering cigarette cradled in a glass ashtray and sucked on it until there was no tobacco left to burn. Back to work. Poke. Poke. Poke …

He wouldn’t forget her name. He was etching it on his skin. Maria. Maria. Maria, why didn’t I see it coming? Her suffocating death at the hands of his partner. His big calloused hands like a vise around her swollen purple neck. It seemed predestined now. How could it have unfolded otherwise? God drew it up just so on his fucking black board. Why didn’t he read it? Why did he choose not to read it? It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. He would’ve been powerless in the face of the ugly mudslide of events.

He thought back. When was it? Two, maybe three days ago. It was hard to know. A drop under High Bridge. Four bricks of coke. It should’ve just been Rod and Jelly, but Maria always wanted to tag along. She didn’t have to, but she always did. It had been that way for a month or more. Jelly didn’t like it, but Rod made the rules. Rod was the smart one. Jelly was his partner because he was the biggest, meanest motherfucker the boss could find.

He remembered that night in Jelly’s garage. Maria was high on ice and shaking. Worse than usual, but she never interfered. Just sat in the back of Jelly’s car and scratched her skin until it bled. They drove an hour or so to the bridge. Nobody said anything. Just the city, a radio sax, and white static.

But the drop went bad. The mark didn’t have the money. He brought big guns and some friends instead. Shots were fired that cracked the hum of the of the highway overhead. Boom, boom, boom. Jelly caught a bullet in his arm but had the sense to gun the car. The tires spewed dirt and gravel into the air. The mark lost them as the black muscle car fishtailed and rocketed away.

Then the stupidest thing happened.

Maria grabbed one of the bricks and threw it out the window. What in the hell was she thinking? Maybe she was scared. Maybe in her doped-up brain she thought she was helping out. But there was no way in hell they could go back and get it. Free coke for a crooked mark. Jelly went berserk, twisted in the driver’s seat while the car sped on a wide city street, caught Maria by the neck with both hands and squeezed the life out of her. Rod punched him in the head like a furious automatic, but the blows bounced off him as if he were made of granite.

The rest of the night tumbled out of the car like a fractured nightmare. Rod hadn’t seen Jelly since. But he would find him. And he would kill him.


Balloon, Orange Juice, Tape Recorder

Dominique Manfredi sat outside at a corner table at The White Peacock Café. He had just ordered two eggs (sunny side up), toast with raspberry marmalade, espresso, and a half-glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. It was just after ten in the morning on yet another perfect day in sunny Hollywood, California.

He was anxious. A looming deadline haunted him. In two days, the screenplay he had spent the past two months pouring himself into was due. Galaxy Studios wouldn’t tolerate another delay, and Dominique desperately needed the cash the finished screenplay would bring. His brainchild and labor of love, An Heiress’ Son, was nearly complete. In fact, he was up late the evening before crafting the final scene. However, he felt it lacked something‒a certain nuance he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

He pressed the red button on his portable voice recorder. The tape was nearly full. He intoned thoughtfully, “Idea. The boy walks away, down a long dark alleyway, having seen his mother for the last time. He sobs. The sun falls behind the skyscrapers that loom over him like frozen granite monsters. It starts to rain.”

It didn’t feel right. Something was missing.

Dominique set the recorder down and sipped his espresso. He observed the wake of bobbing heads of passing pedestrians‒tourists, stars-to-be, locals‒drift by in an orderly chaos with a rhythm all its own.

He saw a boy with a blue, helium-filled balloon. It buffeted on the air a couple feet above his head as he happily skipped by without a care in the world. As he passed Dominique, he tripped and fell, and the balloon sailed up and away, free from its master, to God knows where. The boy cried plaintively, beseeching Dominique with tear-filled eyes to do something. Anything.

Dominique was at a loss.

“Sorry, kid. It’s gone.”

The boy sobbed and walked away. Dominique watched him recede into the crowded street. He gulped the last of his orange juice and pressed the red button on his voice recorder yet again. “Idea. The heiress gives her son a blue balloon, an unsatisfactory parting gift. It does nothing to soothe the boy’s broken heart, but the heiress appears unconcerned. He cries. She dispassionately strokes his hair and walks quickly away. He walks into the alleyway, head bowed, and lets the balloon go. The camera follows the balloon up into the sunset. It drifts out of view.

Dominique paid his check, walked home, and fell quickly asleep.


There Were Trees

I remember there were trees,
And shadows
And the smell of wet grass
And tiny ripe berries
That my Mom said were poisonous,
So that I wouldn’t eat them.
And a rusted swing.

Back then
It was easy to catch up to myself,
Because I always was.

But now
I must try
To be who I am.

It’s easy to give thanks
When it does happen …
When my God cups me in his hand.


This Time

A child sat alone,
As he had done
A hundred times before.

But this time …
This time. His God tends to him
And tips His decanter
To his lips
And lines of wine
Dribble and fall.

Don’t deliberate,
Catch them all with your tongue, my child.
Each drop is precious gold,
Pearls from a mindful steward.


A Woman Named L.

A woman named L.
Read the book of M.
In something less than a house−
A stranger’s strange medicine.

Despite her scorn,
For the word well-worn,
The book on my shelf is what
She’s really interested in.


Word of the Day: Thaumaturgy

The Word of the Day today is Thaumaturgy. I discovered this word today while reading Alice Munro’s Runaway (great book, by the way):

At college she had mentioned how her father had explained to her what thaumaturgy meant, when she ran across the word at the age of twelve or thirteen.

According to Merriam-Webster, thaumaturgy means “the performance of miracles.”

This is how H.G. Wells used the word in his short story The Man Who Could Work Miracles:

There were astonishing changes. The small hours found Mr. Maydig and Mr. Fotheringay careering across the chilly market square under the still moon, in a sort of ecstasy of thaumaturgy, Mr. Maydig all flap and gesture, Mr. Fotheringay short and bristling, and no longer abashed at his greatness.

And if I were forced to use the word in a sentence, I might conjure up something like:

On a bustling Friday afternoon, the wandering monk walked into the town square, and to everyone’s astonishment, miraculously transformed the water in the big fountain into Shasta Orange Soda, an unequivocal demonstration of thaumaturgy.


Word of the Day: Augean

The Word of the Day this summer is Augean. According to Merriam-Websters, Augean means “extremely formidable or difficult and occasionally distasteful”, as in an Augean task.

The reason Augean means what it does should become clear once we learn about the fifth labor of Hercules.

Hercules Takes a Break

If you’re not familiar with the story of the twelve labors of Hercules, I’ll outline it briefly for you now. Hera (wife of Zeus) wished to make life difficult for poor old Hercules, so she caused him to go insane. While he was out of his mind, he killed his wife and children. When he came to his senses, he asked Apollo what he she do to atone for the murders he committed. Apollo said that he should serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years. Eurystheus proposed twelve labors that Hercules must perform to absolve himself of his sins.

Well, I won’t bore you with all the twelve labors. The fifth labor, however, is in what we’re particularly interested. Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean the stables of King Augeas (hence Augean). King Augeas was very wealthy and owned a great many herds of cows, goats, horses, and sheep. So cleaning out the stables would take a, excuse the pun, Herculean effort. Hercules proposed a bet to King Augeas. If Hercules could clean the stables in one day, then Augeas would give Hercules one tenth of his cattle herds.

Well, my money is on Hercules, of course! Hercules diverted two rivers, which then flowed into the stables and cleaned out all the dung, much to King Augeas surprise.

In the end, Augeas reneged on the bet and the matter had to be taken up in court.

And that is how the word Augean came into existence!