The weather continues to be cool and crisp at night, but warm and clear during the day. It's as if the Willamette Valley has been transported to Central Oregon. This weather is appropriate for Bend, not for Portland. The days are beautiful, it's true, but our Februarys (Februaries?) should comprise mostly mild, misty days during which we long for the coming of spring. I fear that we'll regret these balmy afternoons during the coming summer drought.
The fine weather makes walking a pleasure, not a chore. I take my Latin book in hand and stroll through the neighborhood, seeking new paths.
I went for a walk yesterday, but I didn't get far. I had intended to walk up to Oak Grove Boulevard, to head west to the boat ramp, and then to follow River Forest Road until it reached Risley. The complete circle would have provided a two-and-a-half mile walk and about five thousand paces. Instead I took maybe three hundred steps.
I got sidetracked by the older couple who lives next door.
Tom and Roberta were outside working on their new house (for which the foundation has been partially poured). I stopped to say hello. For the next 75 minutes, the three of us chatted about the neighborhood and its history. They gave me more information about our house. They showed me the plans for their new house. They disabused me of the notion that our Redwood is a century old. (It was planted forty years ago by the former owners of our house.) They explained how they're able to grow a dozen fruit trees through organic methods; they never spray.
When we'd finished chatting, I walked home to fix Hamburger Helper (yum) for dinner. I hadn't managed five thousand steps, but it had been a good walk nonetheless.
In the evening I studied my Latin.
I've hinted at this pursuit for the past month without explaining it. Suffice it to say that this AskMetafilter question was the catalyst for this endeavor. I've always wished Latin had been offered at one or more of the schools I attended (it never was), and recent reading has made me long again for at least a rudimentary understanding of the language.
"Why do you want to learn Latin?" Pam asked when she heard about my latest crazy hobby. "Why not something useful like Spanish? Or even French or German?"
I rolled my eyes and said, "Because they're not Latin", which was snotty, and not much of an answer.
But it's true. I'm not trying to learn a foreign language for the sake of conversation. I want to learn Latin because it'll help me become a better reader.
I love how I find myself obsessed with etymology lately. For example, the latin pulchra (beautiful) is the root of the archaic English word pulchritude (beauty), a word seen with moderate frequency in older novels. Why don't we see the word any more? Probably because Latin is no longer the mandatory school subject it once was. I suspect many Latinate words have fallen into disuse because we, as a whole, no longer have the education to understand their meaning.
Of course, maybe some of the words have fallen into disuse because there are better options. I was musing on the words pulchra and pulchritude in the shower this morning (to Kris' delight, I'm sure). "If pulchritude is beauty, then what is beautiful?" I asked. "In Latin it's pulchra, but surely that's not so in English. It's probably something like pulchritudinous," I joked.
You know what? It is pulchritudinous, which is not very pulchritudinous. No wonder some Latinates have fallen into disuse. They're not very beautiful.
(Another fun etymological path features the Latin fabula (story). Its connection to our fable is clear, but think also about the word fabulous, which I've always simply interpreted as great. Now it's clear to me that fabulous carries connotations of fabrication; when something is fabulous, it's great, but in a kind of "fish story" way.)
At first I was using Wheelock's Latin for my text. It's a good text, but it's most effective when a pupil studies daily.
Daily study is a problem for me; there are often periods of nearly a week during which I cannot set aside the time required to study Latin, to memorize vocabulary and to puzzle out declensions and conjugations and the like.
This was leaving me frustrated until I stumbled upon an old junior high Latin textbook at Powell's a few days ago. This book's approach is different, less concerned with the technicalities of the language than imparting practical skills.
I intend to master this junior text first in order to gain some footing in the language, and then I'll move up to the college level stuff.
A few famous Latin phrases:
- Errare humanum est. — To err is human.
- Labor omnia vincit. — Work conquers all. (Useful motto for studying Latin.)
- Ad astra per aspera. — Through toil, the stars.
- Mens sana in corpore sano. — A sound mind in a sound body.
- Non scholae sed vitae discimus. — We learn not for school, but for life. (This could be my motto.)
On this day at foldedspace.org
2004 — A Walk in the Country As part of my new fitness regimen, I've introduced light exercise. My favorite light exercise activity so far is a walk from Custom Box Service, through the nearby housing development.
2002 — Chronic When I was young I was often sick. Sick many times during the course of a year, and sick for long periods. As an adult, I've been much more fortunate. This winter, however, I've been sick four times now. Five?