*I so totally can’t take credit for this amazing word. It belongs – as far as I can tell, and insofar as a word ‘belongs’ to anyone – to the author Kristin Cashore whose books, if you haven’t already read, I’d highly recommend. Her blog, and general existence, are pretty cool too. Go on! Check her out. I can wait.
Okay. She’s pretty cool, yes? I told you so.
Anyway. It’s Thursday. My life feels gritty, rather like it’s full of small particles of random minutiae (or, if you prefer, randutiae. See how useful this word is?) As I was pondering this, trying to come up with something slightly more nuanced to blog about, I thought…
Blog about the contents of your heart and mind. That’s the point of the entire exercise, isn’t it? So, here’s what’s in my heart and mind. Bear with me. It’s been a weird and rather fragmented week.
Firstly, this morning over breakfast my husband and I developed an outline for a new format TV show named ‘Baking with Physics.’ It all began when I told him I’d bake him something later (though I made no promises, mind) and I mentioned the famous quote by Carl Sagan: ‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.’
Well, says the Husband, all science-like, not really. You’ve just got to invent a universe. One in which there are apple-like things.
I couldn’t really disagree with this logic.
This moved on to discussing a fun feature called Schrödinger’s Pie, where the presenter of ‘Baking with Physics’ gazes out benignly at the audience and a cat’s meowling is heard somewhere off-screen. ‘So!’ trills the presenter. ‘You can’t see the cat, or whether it’s inside or outside the pie. How does it feel to live in an existence where a cat both is, and is not, baked inside a pie?’ (Cue canned laughter and applause). We also discussed Quantum Baking, where the presenter would begin going through a recipe, demonstrating the steps, and at the end a pie would appear in his or her hands. ‘Oh, look!’ they’d say. ‘And here’s one I’m going to make tomorrow. Won’t it look lovely?’
Yes. Just be glad you don’t live with us. It’s hard enough being us.
We also discussed the strangeness of the fact that the word for ‘oat’, in most of the major European languages, falls into one of two camps (excluding Finland, because Finnish): either it’s ‘havre’ or its crew (Norwegian havre, Danish havre, Swedish havre, German hafer, Dutch haver) or the ‘av’ group (French avoine, Spanish avena, Portuguese aveia). Yet good old English has the sturdy ‘oat’. This sort of linguistic ‘family tree’ stuff really interests me. I wish I knew the reason why English has ‘oat’; it probably has something to do with the roots of the language. It’s not Latin, because in Latin ‘oat’ is ‘avena’, and the German-Dutch roots, which might have been connected to the Anglo-Saxon word, aren’t anything like ‘oat’. Apparently the word comes from Old English ate, plural atan, but – and this is the weird bit – nobody knows where the word ate comes from in Old English.
Isn’t that mad? Oat. The common, humble oat. It’s actually an International Word of Mystery, with shady roots abroad, hiding its secrets in the mists of time.
It’s been a pretty stressful week. I guess this is how my brain goes when pressure is applied to it – i.e. all over the place. Also, today is (or, would have been) the birthday of my friend who passed away earlier this year; you may remember him from this post I wrote about his passing. Today, he should have turned thirty-two years old. My thoughts are with him and his family, and they’re with my own beloved uncle who is still very unwell – though, miraculously, alive – and they’re with the precious fragility of all things, including peace of mind.
So, isn’t it great to be able to have a laugh, of a dark morning, about quantum bakery and the origin of the word ‘oat’? Things like that make everything worthwhile.
Have an oaty Thursday, everyone. And remember to do some baking – though not with cats, whether living or dead or both. See you back here tomorrow for some more short storying with Flash Friday – which, by the way, I hope you’ll be joining in with one of these weeks? Yes, I’m looking at you! Get those inspiration engines churning and get stuck in. What do you have to lose?