Living

Architect’s Daughter

I refer to myself in class as an architect’s daughter, to explain why I draw doors the way I do on Valhalla. Being an architect’s child shapes a number of ways I think and act, really. I draw multiple perspectives of buildings, yes, but I also write in the universal, architect’s block letter style when I want to make sure everyone can read my handwriting. (I have learned architecture students don’t even need to learn this anymore; AutoCad does it for them. Now I’m an old architect’s daughter.)

1954

I also look at buildings for accessibility and earthquake resistance, as well as aesthetic features. It’s a different way of seeing the world, to be alert to form as well as function pretty much at all times. It means I marvel at clever drainage solutions and elegant lines of light and shadow. I grew up having him point out features of buildings on road trips and explaining seismic activity and flexible frameworks at home. It stuck, and it manifests in weird ways, when I just pop out with some random observation about an access ramp at the library or the structural integrity of a Lego tavern.

Of course he was more than an architect. He was also an aesthete—a lifelong collector of art and music. And he was an alcoholic, which I didn’t see when I was young, but now I attribute to a fairly crippling social anxiety. He was very smart, very empathetic, very curious, and very gruff. He was fastidious about the details of his life, and he was passionate about human rights and whether one should use canned shaving cream or soap and a brush (soap and a brush, of course).  

He was an introvert, but family didn’t count as “peopling.” He was an Eisenhower Republican and an avid reader. He was happy camping, and he was a conservationist before we called them environmentalists. He lived in Nevada for 45 years, but I never saw him gamble once. He called me “kiddo;” I had an older brother and sister, who for him filled the normal slots of what was to be expected of boys and girls, so I was free to be whoever I wanted.

Because I am his daughter (and there will be another blog later for mom), I have an eye tuned to notice things I might not have, and it filters through most of my life. Because I watched him, I recognize patterns of behavior I see in my kids and understand them better. Because I learned that men could be gentle and still strong, I found a partner who has made me happy for 29 years and counting. Because he loved me, I learned how much power love has in the world.

It strikes me I should save this for his birthday or something, but grief works out of concert with time, and I don’t miss him any more on his birthday.

Living · Writing

Wordtales 2020.1

This is written in periwinkle ink, which derives from Latin per + vincere ‘to bind thoroughly’. The color term derives from the flower. It also means a small, edible mollusk, which derives from Middle English pine-winkle by association, because periwinkle sounds way cooler.

It’s time for some more wordtales.

(Since I moved to WordPress, I haven’t figured out how to post a little, intermittently updating inset blurb, so I’ve stored some up.)

“Edulcorate” means ‘to sugarcoat.’ If you parse it, it literally means to draw the sweetness out of something (Latin ex- ‘out of’ + dulcor ‘sweetness’), presumably surfacing the object’s innate, inner sweetness, which is not the same as how it’s most often used, as to slap sugar on something from the outside brusquely and crudely, like with a palette knife, not even a detail brush.

“Virago” is a term for a loud, bossy woman. That’s great, because it literally means ‘to act like a man.’ Latin vir-  means ‘man’ and gives us virile, virtue, and other lovely words. It’s Germanic cognate, wer, survives in werewolf and all the manifold multiform critters like werebear and wererat of the D & D universe. Add Latin ago/agere = to act, and the word “virago” means ‘manlike.’ We don’t hold a very high bar for men, apparently. Of course this term derives from a time when men were in control of politics and power, and for a woman to reach in to that realm was unfeminine to the point of condemnation. No comment.

Finally, in Italian, people make meatballs of others instead of mincemeat, cover their eyes with ham instead of burying their heads in the sand, choose a fish instead of picking a direction, and wish each other dreams of gold. Not sweet dreams. Golden, gilded, glimmering dreams.

Words are awesome. Sogni d’oro, y’all.