2016: New Words & An Almost Blank Slate

2016. I start the year with a spring in my step. I gave myself real, honest time off and I cannot believe the difference it has made to my general state of mind. I did a touch of dress-making, I watched a lot of films, I went for long walks with D. and I finished some work knitting. I also had a lovely Christmas in Aberdeenshire and I spent New Year's Eve in Glasgow. Oh, and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice because I am a nerd. So, 2016.

I sat down this morning and made a quick list.


While I am not one for inspirational quotes, I found having a word lodged at the back of my mind incredibly useful last year. I also think we all have a word or two guiding us throughout our lives ("family" and "money" are two such words I have encountered a lot). It's just nice to sit down and really have a think about what I have to have a guiding principle - and this year it is joy.

I struggle a lot with perfectionism (like many other creatives do), work/life balance, and my desire to say yes to everything. By asking Will this job bring me joy? Does designing this fill me with joy? If I go to this event, will I enjoy it? I hope to have a tool that will cut through a lot of the noise. Will it work?

Well, I ended 2015 looking like this. Yes, it's a hat to match the Lindgren mitts. Yes, the pattern is forthcoming. Most importantly, I look happy and relaxed. Here's to joy in 2016.

December 2015 763


"So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others."
- Barack Obama, Tucson Memorial Speech, 2011.

What's In A Name?

The US has some very strange place names.

Bad Axe, Michigan: "While surveying the first state road through the Huron County wilderness in 1861, Rudolph Papst and George Willis Pack made camp at the future site of the city and found a much-used and badly damaged axe."

Climax, Minnesota: "The town briefly made national news in 2004 when school superintendent Shirley Moger refused to allow students to wear shirts bearing the town motto, "Climax - More than just a feeling"(..). The motto was picked following a contest. Some runner-ups in that contest were "No End to Climax," "Cling to the Culmination: Climax Forever" and "Bring a Friend to Climax.""

Cylinder, Iowa: "One story suggests that the name comes from a vehicle that passed over the creek and dropped a cylinder. "

Eclectic, Alabama: "Tradition has it that the town was named by a local resident who had taken an "eclectic" course of study at school and so named the town because of the various surrounding geographic areas."

Hell, Michigan: "After Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the town he helped settle should be called, and replied, "I don't care, you can name it Hell for all I care.""

Helper, Utah: "Trains traveling westward from the Price side to the Salt Lake City side of the plateau required additional "helper" engines in order to make the steep 15 mile climb up Price Canyon to the town of Soldier Summit. Helper was named after these helper engines."

Hygiene, Colorado: "This community's name stems from a time when it had a sanitarium to work with tuberculosis patients."

Man, West Virginia: "The name of the town is believed to have come from the last syllable of the name of Ulysses Hinchman, who was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates."

Micro, North Carolina: "According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²), all of it land."

Muleshoe, Texas: "It is home to the National Mule Memorial. The mule is celebrated for his strength and sparse eating habits, traits which endeared him to the pioneers. In war, the mule carried cannon; in peace, he hauled freight. His small hooves allowed him to scale rocky areas."

Peculiar, Missouri: "The story goes that the annoyed Thomson wrote to the Postmaster General himself to complain saying, among other things, "We don't care what name you give us so long as it is sort of 'peculiar'," (with "peculiar" in quotation marks)."

Pillager, Minnesota: No word on whether the name relates to the Scandi-Viking stock of Minnesota's inhabitants, but "Minnesota State Highway 210 and County 1 are two of the main routes in the community."

Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico: "it took the name of a popular radio program in 1950, when Truth or Consequences host Ralph Edwards announced that he would do the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show."

Going through Wikipedia (as I did), I could not help but noticing major naming trends: Independence, Liberty and Union were three very, very popular names. Naming your town after presidents or the founding fathers was also common. You get many, many places named after geographical features or local animals. Interestingly, people also seemed to name their settlements after early 19th C thinkers such as Humboldt and, ahem, Byron or Greco-Roman philosophers or places. Homesick settlers were also quick to name their new homes after what they left behind (to the extend I'm tempted to do a US tour of Europe at some stage). Bold advertisement such as "Belleville" is less common, but you still get it.

But, honestly, who'd name a place after a dropped cylinder?

"We encounter each other in words.."

Unsurprisingly the poetry reading was one of my favourite parts of the Obama inauguration ceremony (another being Aretha Franklin's awesome hat). You can read the entire poem by Elizabeth Alexander on the New York Times website right here.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

Blue Is The Colour

This is highly amusing. It is an edited transcript of Newcastle football club interim manager Joe Kinnear's first official press conference yesterday:

JK: Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?

SB: Me.

JK: You're a c*nt.

SB: Thank you.

JK: Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely f*cking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can f*ck off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that f*cking crap. No f*cking way, lies. F*ck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] f*cked off.

And the press conference just gets better and better from there. Thank you, Live-In Boyfriend, for pointing this one out. It's hysterical.