Sunday, March 22, 2015



This means having way too much of something.  Other words for nimiety are excess, overabundance, exorbitance, or intemperance.

The word comes from the Latin word nimius, meaning "too much."  Its first known use was around 1564.


If something is described as putative, that means it is assumed or commonly accepted.  Some other words that mean the same as putative are supposed, reputed, presumed or apparent.

Putative came from late Middle English in 1400-50.  The Middle English word is from the late Latin putativus, meaning "considered" or "reckoned."


Peripatetic people are always going here and there.  They wander around a lot and make journeys related to their jobs.  Another word for peripatetic people is itinerants.

A follower of the philosopher Aristotle is also called a Peripatetic, but in this use, you have to capitalize the "P."

The word peripatetic originated with the Greek peripatetikos, from peripatein.  This second word meant to walk up and down, talking about philosophical subjects, which is what Aristotle used to do.


In Greek mythology, Zeus had a special gold shield call the Aegis.  Athena also had one.  In the center of the shield there was a picture of the Gorgon, who was a scary monster-woman with snakes for hair.  Anybody who looked at the Gorgon got turned into stone.

Anyway, Zeus or Athena could use the aegis to protect you, which was a really good form of protection.  Nowadays, aegis means any kind of protection, sponsorship, or support.

The word came from the Greek word aigĂ­s.  This word, in turn, came from a word meaning "goat" because shields were often made of goatskin.


This is a word used in Scotland and Northern England to mean wakeful or alert.  Mostly, this is wakeful in the sense of not being able to sleep, even though you want to.

The word came into English in the 15th century from the Scots Middle English walkrife.  Walken means "to wake" and ryfe means "rife."  So if you are wakerife, you are rife with wakefulness.

I don't know what you call it if you are sleepy -- maybe "sleeprife"?

Is this the REAL nacarat.....

Nacarat is a color I never heard of before.  It's a little confusing to read about it because one place says it is "bright orange-red," and another describes it as "a pale red color, with a cast of orange."  Oh, and then I also read that it is "a shade of yellow color."

....or is this?
A fine linen or crape that is dyed pale red with an orange cast is called nacarat.  And then there was a famous steeplechase horse in the UK, and his name was Nacarat, even though he was a light gray color.  Nacarat retired recently, at the age of 14, but then he died early this month because of "a paddock accident."  I tried to find out what the accident was, but I couldn't learn any details, even though I spent a good 5 or 10 minutes looking.

But getting back to the color nacarat, apparently it can be anything from yellow-orange to bright red-orange.  It became an English word in the mid-18th century, from the Middle French nacarade and Old Spanish nacarado, with maybe some Arabic and Latin thrown in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Today is St. Patrick's Day, which means it's time for me to write about another Irish dog breed.  The Kerry Blue Terrier is a breed that some people think should be the National Dog of Ireland, but it has never been given that name officially.

Kerry Blues come from the mountains of County Kerry, in the southwest part of Ireland.  Their original use was for killing vermin such as rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters, and hares.  Later, people started using the dogs to do things like herd cattle and sheep, and to act as guard dogs.

The terriers were also good hunters and retrievers.  It's quite possible that the peasants used Kerries to poach the grounds of the nobility, where the noblemen themselves hunted with Irish Wolfhounds.

Philip Doyle with his dog "Terri" at the Killarney Show, 1916

In spite of Irish politics, the first show of the Dublin Irish Blue Terrier club took place outside curfew hours and was entered by people on both sides of the fight to establish an Ireland republic.  The Dublin Irish Blue Terrier Club was so successful that it led to the founding of the Irish Kennel Club, with a Kerry Blue as the first dog registered.

Kerry Blue during a dog show in Katowice, Poland
Wikipedia, Pleple2000

Because an aggressive prey drive was intentionally bred into Kerry Blues, the Irish Kennel Club originally required dogs to pass "gameness" tests before being judged.  The tests included catching rabbits and bringing a badger to bay.  Modern breeders have tried to keep the breed's high spirits while breeding out the aggression.

Kerry Blue Terriers, circa 1935

The first Kerry Blues arrived in North America in 1918-19 and began appearing in shows in the early 1920s.  The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1924.  During the Westminster show of 1924, a group of Kerry fanciers met at the Waldorf-Astoria and organized the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America.

Kerries are energetic dogs who need plenty of exercise.  They are intelligent, adaptable, alert, and vigilant.  They make good watchdogs and companions for children.  They are eager to please and are highly trainable, but they can also be stubborn and independent-minded.  The breed is well-suited for agility, obedience, sheep herding, earthdog trials, and tracking.  They have even been used for police work in Ireland.

Kerry Blue puppies are born with black coats that eventually fade to various shades of blue-gray.  It usually takes 18 months for the pups to reach their adult color.  The coat is soft and wavy, with no undercoat. It does not shed, but continues to grow all year.  This means that Kerries need regular grooming so that their coats don't get matted.

In general, Kerry Blue Terriers are healthy, but they do sometimes develop genetic problems such as dry eyes, cataracts, entropion, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.  The life span of the breed is from about 9 to 12 years.

Even though a Kerry Blue won the big Crufts dog show in the UK in 2000, the breed is still what you might call "unfashionable."  It has a lot of good things to recommend it, but a Kerry is not the best choice for first-time dog owners.  Besides having high energy levels and high grooming needs, a lot of Kerries tend to be dog-aggressive, especially if they are not well-socialized as puppies.  So this is something that dog owners have to worry about when out in public with their dogs.

My mom says she has had a few dog-aggressive dogs in the past, and she does not want any more of them.  I agree, so we will definitely not be getting a Kerry Blue Terrier anytime soon.  I think it's just enough to know that Kerries have a very special Irish ancestry and to celebrate that on St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Galway ewe with lambs

In just a few days, it will be St. Patrick's Day, so I decided to write about an Irish breed of sheep.  These sheep come from a part of western Ireland that is known as Galway, so that's how they got their name.

These sheep have white faces, and they do not have horns.  On the top of their heads, Galways have cute little bobs of wool.  They also have wool on their legs.  Their fleece is fairly long, with a close and fine texture.  Buyers pay top price for this type of wool.  And people who spin by hand especially like it because of its fineness.

Photo by Dick Keely,

But even though they have really nice wool, Galway sheep are often raised for meat as well.  Galway ewes are sometimes crossed with Suffolk and Texel rams.  The average litter size is 1.45.  They are a hardy breed that can easily adapt to different types of climate.

A Galway Ram at the Tullamore Show 2012
Credit: Finnegas/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Old photo of sheep fair at Killarney, County Kerry

The Galway sheep is one of the oldest breeds in the U.K.  It has been in existence for about 300 years.  In the big Irish landlord estates that were around until the beginning of the 20th century, the Galway was the major breed of sheep.  Some people say that there is no other native Irish sheep besides the Galway.  Others think there were actually many types in existence before the famine, including the mountain sheep.

The town of Claddagh, in Galway County

A woman spinning wool into yarn
The number of Galway sheep breeders is growing.  In 1990, there were only 14 breeders, but by 1999, the number of true-to-type sheep had increased to 1000,  in 39 flocks.  Almost all of the breeders are west of the Shannon River.

So that's all I can really tell you about the Galway sheep.  If I had been able to find more information, I would have shared it with you, because that's the kind of generous and helpful dog I am!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I am always ready for a tummy rub!
The first happening is that Mom doesn't go to work anymore.  Mostly, she stays home with us dogs and cats, and that makes us very happy.  Mom likes staying home with us, but she says she needs to find another job so that she can make money to buy dog food.  Anyway, I guess if I have to choose between having Mom at home all the time but being hungry, or having Mom gone a lot but having plenty to eat, I would choose having food to eat.

Charlie and Jason
The reason that Mom doesn't have a job right now is that her boss didn't ask her to come back to work for the next special exhibit at the art gallery.  Usually in the past, when one exhibit ended, and the next exhibit hadn't started yet, Mom got to keep working at least some of the time between the exhibits.  But after the Plains Indians exhibit ended, Mom's boss told her he couldn't keep her on.  He talked like he would hire her back for the next exhibit, at the end of February, but he didn't.  So now Mom is looking for a different job, but she has only applied for a couple of things so far.

Marius and Tristan
Anyway, in other news, it has been winter here for several months, and that means it was cold outside.  We dogs had to stay in and snuggle up close together, or else sit in front of the heater to stay warm.  At night, we sleep under the covers with Mom.  And of course, we always wear our little jackets and sweaters.  The cats snuggle up, too, but they are too stupid to realize that they need sweaters, so they don't wear any.

I think we need a bigger heater!
This week, the weather started getting lots warmer, and it seems like spring might come pretty soon.  We have these flowers called hellebores, and they have big buds on them.  Mom keeps thinking that if we have a few more warm days, the hellebores will open up their flowers.

Hellebore buds
The daffodils are coming up, and they have buds on them, too.  Mom needs to go out and do some raking, but she keeps finding other things to do because she hates raking.

Our foster kittens are growing bigger and bigger.  They had an upper respiratory infection for a while, and it made them sneeze a lot.  Now they have mostly stopped sneezing.  Because their mom was FIV+ the kittens need to be tested for FIV, too.  We thought we would have to wait until they were at least 4 months old to test them, and right now they are only 3 and a half months old.  But last week, when Mom took them to the shelter, the vet tested Zigzag, who is the biggest kitten and the easiest to get blood out of.  His test was negative, so that made everyone happy!

Next week, on St. Patrick's Day, The kittens will get spayed and neutered, and the other 4 will have their FIV tests.  Mom has already started taking pictures of the kittens to post on Petfinder.  She will also have to write up some bios to tell how wonderful the kittens are.  We hope they all get adopted really soon, before the real Kitten Season gets started!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015



You will probably recognize this little yellow doll as Mr. Peanut, the mascot of Planters, which is now a part of Kraft Foods.  Planters was founded by an Italian immigrant named Amedeo Obici, in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  Mr. Obici started out by selling fruit and roasted peanuts on the street.  Then he joined up with Mario Peruzzi, who had come up with a way to blanch whole roasted peanuts, which got rid of the hulls and skins.

The two men started their business in 1906 with six employees, two large roasters, and some other crude equipment.  In 1916, they held a contest to create a company logo.  A 14-year-old school boy named Antonio Gentile won the contest with his drawing of a peanut man with a cane.  Later, an artist named Frank P. Krize, Sr., added spats, a top hat, and a monocle.  He also gave a name to the character, which was Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe.  But usually he is just called Mr. Peanut.


During the Victorian era, people started making stuffed animal toys for children.  They may have made some monkey toys, but probably not from socks, and definitely not with the red lips that classic sock monkeys have.

Then in 1868, John Nelson, who was a Swedish immigrant to the U.S., patented the sock-knitting machine.  His sock manufacturing business was in Rockford, IL.  On September 15, 1880, the Nelson Knitting Company was formed.  It produced "Celebrated Rockford Seamless Hosiery" and sold them under the name "Nelson Socks."  In 1932, the Nelson Company added the trademarked red heel to their seamless work socks, which were known as "Rockfords."

During the Great Depression, American crafters began making sock monkeys out of worn-out Rockford Red Heel Socks.  The toys became very popular, and in 1955, Nelson Knitting was awarded the patent for the sock monkey doll.


In 1938, an architect named Alfred Mosher Butts made a game called "Criss-Crosswords."  It had a 15x15 square board that you could spell out words on, using letter tiles.  Mr. Butts made a few sets of the game and tried to sell it to some manufacturers, but none of them was interested in it.

Then a man named James Brunot bought the rights to the game.  He changed a few things, such as where the "premium" squares were located on the board.  Also he made the rules simpler, and he called the game Scrabble.  Mr. Brunot and his family made about 2,400 sets of the game, but they lost money on it.

Then in 1952, Jack Straus, the president of Macy's, played the game while he was on vacation, and he thought it was lots of fun.  He was surprised to learn that Macy's did not sell Scrabble, so he placed a large order for it.  Over the years, ownership of the game has passed from company to company, but the game has remained very popular.  It was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2004.

Nowadays, people use the tiles from Scrabble game sets to make all kinds of things such as signs and jewelry.  So when you are in an antique shop, you might see a bin that has lots of letter tiles in it, but there is no board to play the game on.  It's up to you to figure out what to do with the tiles.


Here's a sign for liniment.  It was a tall, skinny sign, so it didn't all fit in one picture.  This is a good sign because it has bright colors that catch your eye.  Also, the lettering and artwork are well done, especially the picture of the horse.

And finally, here's some folk art from Mexico.  The cats were made in Oaxaca, which is a state in the south, where the whole country curves to the east.  The Oaxacan artists make all kinds of animals out of wood and then paint them in really fun colors.

This bus has little people inside it, plus all kinds of animals and other cargo on top.  It turns out that Huatulco, which is the name on the front of the bus, is a city in Oaxaca, right on the coast.  There is a population of 50,000 there, and they are trying to develop their tourist trade.  Mom says it would be nice and warm in Oaxaca this time of year, so I am all in favor of packing up and heading down there!