Sunday, September 2, 2007

What's in a Name?

We sent in our visas on Saturday, which means by mid September we should have them, if all goes well. Which means our technical aspects to going to Oxford should finally, finally be finished. I've never dealt with more paperwork and red tape than we have this summer. Actually, it's also been the longest summer of my life, beginning in late April, and continuing to the end of September.

Avram updated his blog; you should all read it. Also, I too enjoyed Stardust a lot. Very unusual for a new movie for me. I'd even like to own it, which from my mouth is a huge admission for any movie.

Lydia loves to dance; she dances to Riverdance, The Doors (this one's very popular; she turns in circles while stomping her feet and waving her hands), people singing a snatch of a song, basically anything. Also, she bows when she thinks she's being particularly cute or clever. Which of course makes us all think that she's even more cute and clever, so it seems to work. And she's discovered pinching ones nose shut to make a more nasal sound, and does it all the time while going, "no, no, no" (as in nose, which is how she says nose, not the word no, which she says more like ne.) Today she's 18 months old, and as I reflect on the last year and a half, she's been a delight since her birth. I love being a mother; it makes up who I am, gives me meaning in my life, and provides the most fulfilling sense of self I've ever had. Also it makes me laugh. Lydia is our main entertainment in our lives. People always say children are expensive, but when you take out movies, TV, etc etc and just sit around and laugh at your child, they probably save you money.

A week after we're done with the newspaper job, we're finally feeling caught up on sleep. We actually ended up doing one extra day, Monday morning, because the Indian family's flight was delayed a lot. Although I don't intend getting a newspaper route again, I'm glad we had the opportunity now. And in retrospect, it's interesting to think about.

Now to something I've been thinking about lately; Names.

All my dear readers may think that the name, "Thora Tales" employs the best of my thinking and creative descriptions of my life. I regret to inform you that this information is decidedly not so. When I created my blog, I wanted to get to the real exciting stuff, like changing the fonts or colors on my page, and so entitled my journal the best name I could come up with in two minutes or less. All along I've intended to change the name once I opened the next chapter in my life, and the true impetus as to my starting a blog; going to England. I even had a name picked out:

My English Cottage.

I liked it; it was simple, descriptive of both where I would be, and the differences between my life there, and my life here, because of course one could not have a blog entitled, "My American Cottage." How patently ridiculous, I must say. As well, it is a quaint title, and just saying it gave me chills, thinking of living in a cottage.

Alas, I have since discovered that we will be living in a divided house, in a one bedroom flat, that I have good reason to believe was, "purpose built" (from Yarnton Manor's website). Do you know what another name for purpose built is? Ugly. Also, "My English Flat" just doesn't have the same ring to it. So I am forced to decided upon a new, appropriately representative and creative Blog title which relates to England somehow.

Thus far I've thought of,

This Other Eden, from Henry II, Act 2, Scene 1
This Blessed Spot, from the same.

Actually, the whole paragraph's pretty good;

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare, "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1
Of course, I only want a name from something that I've read, so I'm not being falsely pretentious. And I've never read Richard II, so picking the name commits me to reading the play, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

I have read Pride and Prejudice, and as I was dinking around on quote sites, I saw this quote from Jane Austin:

I can never be in the presence of Mr. Darcy without being grieved by a thousand tender recollections.

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Unfortunately, I found the context of the quote, and it turns out Mr. Wickham says this to Elizabeth about being around Mr. Darcy. Yuck. So "A Thousand Tender Recollections" are out, because I would then have to think of Mr. Wickham every time I visited my blog.

I want a name that's patently English. And from something literary. Or just clever. Any ideas? Especially if it's from something that would also be good to read. Something from the Bible could work too, although that's not English. I could call my blog, "King James" That's English. Completely.

A Year in England
Rain and Sun in the Land of Shakespeare. Nah, too pretentious. And it sounds like a nature blog.
Tea and Crumpets, while very nice, is taken by Aleatha's sister. but let me take the time here to compliment her on her 'zine name.
Bubbles and Squeak, while also quintessential British food, just doesn't have the same ring to it. Neither does, "Bangers and Mash."
That reminded me; I love the word quintessential. Also, quintessence. and quirky. For that matter, quern tickles my ear. Perhaps, the Quirky Quintessence of an English Quern.
No, too...alliterative. Next I'm going to try really bad meter.

This all began because I vaguely remembered a quote from Hamlet that was illuminated in calligraphy and hung on a wall in the JKHB. Something that mentioned the quintessence of man; what a great line, right. I could name a blog, "The Quintessence of Man."

When I looked the quote up, what it actually said, instead of my vaguely remembered quote was,

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so."

--From Hamlet (II, ii, 115-117)

Nope, "Quintessence of Dust" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Maybe, "The Quintessential Life."
or, "The Quintessence of England."
"Quintessential England"
"The Quintessence of the Fifth Element" I like it.

Ok, I'm going to end this blog, before I get really inane. Save a drowning fellow friend.


  1. You are so funny and that is what I love about your blog: your funny comes through. I rarely take the time to have all those kinds of thoughts in writing so whatever thoughts I might have don't get recorded. Thanks for the update on Lydia. Would love some new pictures. I do wish you had a camera that could do videos. Look into getting a card for your camera. I feel we are missing out on Lydia and my heart aches but I do love all you do share. Thanks so much. I love you.

  2. King James: NOT English! He was a Scot. Sorry to rain on your parade. How about something from Chaucer: ...learn, and gladly teche. Refers to the "clerk (scholar) of Oxen-ford," of whom Chaucer wrote, "...and gladly wolde he learn, and gladly teche."

    On a different subject, can you give me the exact address where you'll be living, and/or the name of Avram's college? I'd like to use Goodle World to see them. Many (well, a few) of the buildings at Osford are 3-D viewable.

  3. Well, I think 'Bleak House' would be a marvelous name. And if it's one you haven't read, there is a quite enjoyable Masterpiece Theatre version. Poor poor Guppy.
    Oh Lydia. How I miss teaching her happy words.

  4. Actually, what I meant, Don, was a reference to the fact that although James is a biblical name, it is so only in the English bible, because in every other language, including Hebrew, it is Jacob. There is no name James in the Hebrew bible. Therefore, the word James itself is English. It was a joke. This is Thora

  5. Hey what about " a Quaint Adventure"
    or "Shannons of Oxford"
    I dont know.
    Whatever you do name it will be really cool.
    I love you

  6. Here is our current list of possibilities, of various quality:

    Stranger in a Strange Land
    One Year Among the English
    The English in their Native Land: A Study
    Crossing the Pond
    Our American Cousin
    Thora Tales Part V: Oxbridge Strikes Back
    From England with Love
    Thora in Winter
    Letter from the Midlands
    Britons in the Mist
    A Broad Studies Abroad
    Cold Comfort Cottage
    The Oxfordshire Tales
    The King's Head
    The Mother's Tale
    The Wife of Oxford
    Avram Shannon's School Days
    Oxfordshire Pudding
    Tuppence a Bag
    England and All Its Diversions
    Greenwich Meantime
    Over Sea, Under Stone
    In an English Country Garden
    Thora's English Garden
    We are Three
    Et in Arcadia Ego
    Ave Oxfordia Nostra Vera Patria
    Christo et Doctrinae
    Ad Lucem
    Verba Volant, Scripta Manent
    Britannia Secunda
    Fortis est Veritas
    Vox Thorae
    Hic Sunt Dracones
    In Media Res
    Thora Ex Machina
    Ye Olde Blogge
    The Gray Spires of Oxford
    A People's History of England
    Oxford and Environs
    Lydia's Litany
    Embryo Oxonians
    Oxford Housewife/Housewives
    On Cobbled Streets (pushing stroller)
    Toad in the Hole
    Thora Shannon, BA
    Fear and Loathing in Oxfordshire
    A Big Wet Foggy Island
    Shannon's England
    Shannon's Oxford
    Unsere Weltanschauung
    Thora Shannon's Holistic Blogging Service
    A Blog by any other name . . .
    A Fierce Bad Thora
    Thora's Tales and Misadventures
    The life of a strange adventurer named Thora Shannon; namely where and in what manner she came into this world, what she saw, learned, experienced, and endured therein.
    Picara Practices
    Dodging Dons and other adventures
    A Full English Breakfast (with Kippers!)

  7. well I think your fried has many wonderful ideas. I am not feeling too smart today... it was a long night of toddlers peeing the bed and trying to nurse theo with a cold.. anyways i hope you find a name you like! My name is oh so boring.. just the nelson family. Maybe you will inspire me to be more creative.

  8. BTW, I've got a cousin (of sorts) who is post-docing in math at Oxford this fall, and she's got a blog about it (she's already there) that you might enjoy: