Say Goodbye to Swithering

I saw this word in a BBC News item this very morning, what pray does it mean?

swither v. to be uncertain or perplexed about what to do or choose; doubt; hesitate; dither.

wither is a word that many Scottish people use without realising that it is a relative stranger outwith Scots and Scottish English. My spell-checker has in fact just proven the point, underlining both ‘swither’ and ‘outwith’, which have clearly bemused its limited lexicon. A number of stealth Scots words like these have so comfortably established themselves across all Scottish linguistic contexts, from the formal to the informal, that speakers may only become aware of their exotic character when quizzed about them by puzzled non-Scots. The Official Report of the Scottish Parliament (2000) includes former MP and MSP Winnie Ewing’s account of events when she uttered the word in the House of Commons: “The members all stopped and said, ‘I don’t understand’. I wondered what the English word for ‘swither’ was, and they shouted, ‘prevaricate’ and ‘hesitate’. Neither of those words is exactly the same as ‘swither’ … That illustrates part of the strange experience of speaking Scots”.

More from this source:

I might suffer from Swithering. Another word would, could be, confusion. Which when recognized, I’ve found to great benefit, can be dismissed, said goodbye to. ‘Hello confusion (swithering) goodbye confusion’. Works every time.

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Treading Lightly

This chair came to me a few weeks ago. It’s a classic LLoyd Loom ‘Lusty’ product with a sprung drop-in seat, probably a rare piece too. Before restoration can begin, it needed to be taken apart and cleaned. You never know what you’ll find, in this case there was just the degraded ‘innards’, no messages or photographs or hints at its history. I know its history already, one careful owner passed down to the son of the family – then on to me.

I’ll be spray-painting the chair Graphite today then reupholstering the drop-in seat with new yet classic, materials. In this blog post, The Traces We Leave…. the author ponders on ‘legacy’ along with wondering about a photograph he had found taped to the underside of a drawer of a bedside cabinet he was about to recycle. There is much to be said on the matter of legacy, what remains of our footprint in the world, after we stop walking? Good to tread lightly, me thinks.

Shall I leave a ‘little something’ within the upholstered seat? Perhaps a scrap of the original fabric in an envelope tucked between the stuffing? Perhaps a message to the future, like a message in a bottle, indicating the history of this piece? So far?

This company offers a wealth of information about restorations. Heck! One day I might need to know How to fix Queen Ann legs!

Thanks to Julius for the link to the blog post.

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‘Gone to Visit my mother’, Bertha Benz drives home 1888.

In 1888, Bertha Benz, wife of automotive inventor Karl Benz, set off on a groundbreaking trip.

A pioneer and investor in her own right, Bertha took the world’s first combustion engine-powered car on the world’s first long-distance car journey.

The 100km journey was full of inventive problem-solving. Bertha made numerous stops to source fuel, fix the carburettor and the brakes. Her trip became a vital road test of the car’s good points as well as highlighting teething issues.

More video clips and references to the film.

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‘No Place They did not Reach’

From the tow-path of the Lancaster Canal

Clouds of radiance of jewels reflected each other: the Buddhas of the ten directions conjured regal pearls, and the exquisite jewels in the topknots of the enlightening beings all emanated light, which came and illuminated them.
Furthermore, sustained by the spiritual power of all Buddhas, they expounded the vast perspective of the Enlightened Ones, their subtle tones extending afar, there being no place they did not reach.

The Avatamsaka Sutra, aka as The Flower Ornament Scripture.

As I sit here at Throssel in my room, recently returned from a visit to Cumbria and Lancaster, the not so ‘subtle tones’ of a chain saw whirring away enters my ears. I can hear it as I type, I didn’t hear it as I read the sutra earlier (perhaps it hadn’t started then). The chainsaw noise is part of a ‘sound scape’ just as visually there is a ‘visual scape’. They come together in my awareness. Not to mention, now I bring my mind consciously to my fingers, and the rest of me as well.

The chain sawing is a noise, it gets my attention. It is constant. Is that noise opposed to the peace that pervades when it isn’t there? Is the rubbish on one side of the canal opposed to the tranquil scene of the barge puttering up the canal?

From the visual, the radiance of jewels reflecting each other, to the subtle tones of the audible, the expounding of the teaching in the Flower Ornament brings EVERYTHING, every separate everything, together. That is the profound teaching of the Avatamsaka. The separate things are a product of our wonderful imaginings and are essential, on a particular level, to our human functioning. Are they not? I can no more bend my mind to make the noise a sound, any more than I can not recoil at the sight of the overflowing rubbish bin.

Very recently I have come to appreciate the profound link between the perception of audio and visual input, between sound and sight. The realization? Part of that is letting sound and sight come into (to receive) my senses eyes and ears, rather than going out and drag that in. Our senses, in themselves, are void (of individual self nature), unstained, and pure (empty of individual self nature). So sings the Scripture of Great Wisdom.

Why not read the extract from the sutra again, slowly. Then read it again more slowly. Perhaps read it again even more slowly? Perhaps now read the words aloud, the sound of your voice as you read to be there too.

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Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives