Saturday, August 25, 2007

Alphabet blocks

8/24: Alphabet blocks, oil on canvas panel, approx. 5x3 in. Not for sale.

I ended up making them kind of wobbly somehow, but I think they're still cute. My wife let our daughter start playing with some of these wood blocks this week, and she has a blast with them - lining them up and sliding them along the window sill, transferring them from one container to another, hitting us with the hard corners....

Scots Gaelic word of the day:

brèagha [brē'-ə]: lovely, fine.

I used to take refuge in studying less-than-useful things (and always will, to a lesser degree), the way some people would turn to strenuous physical activity or alcohol. Immersing myself in something like Gaelic when I was home from art school one summer helped take my racing mind to a place where I felt it could be held still, as well as get broadened a little at a time. I had a teach-yourself book with tapes to listen to and at some point I was sure I knew enough to converse with a Gaelic speaker, if I'd wanted to converse with anybody, except I spent only a summer at it and very soon forgot most of what I learned. A few years later when (thanks to my dad) I had the chance to visit Edinburgh, I would have been near clueless had I heard or read any Gaelic, and today I maybe remember half of one percent. But the word brèagha always rang in my mind - it was beautiful, perfect and fine, one of those rare words that reads and sounds, to me, to mean exactly what it means. I never had a fetish for Scottish things, but the Gaelic (really, any authentically Celtic-derived) stuff is seriously beautiful, though challenging to get a real sense of. I'll never claim to be an expert, but I hate when you see mass-market mishmashes like "Celtic Woman" or gross deceptions like the use of Irish bagpipes in the soundtrack of Braveheart, a movie about Scotland. (I like to annoy my wife with this complaint. I don't care that Mel Gibson chose also to shoot it in Ireland or that the modern bagpipes wouldn't have even been invented yet. But come on.)

I had always hoped to someday have a kid, and although the idea of a little boy version of me running around was nice, for some reason I always "knew" that if I were to be blessed with a child it would be a little girl. And often with that thought came an image of the page in the glossary of my old Gaelic book and the feeling I got every time I had read the word brèagha, so much that I knew that that would be her name. My wife kind of liked it too.

I don't know what Scottish people think of the word, but interestingly you'll find it is given as a name to dogs more than people (there's maybe a cat), if you look it up. Back when I was in Edinburgh I even met a dog named Breagha owned by a very nice man. I think it is sort of funny, and I hope my daughter doesn't hate me for it later. That is, when she's done hating me for the weird spelling.

Tha i brèagha an-diugh.


Bigbrush 7 said...

Hi Dan

Very touching story. You must me a super DAD!

You are very talented. Your illustration of Visitors is not corny at all. It's done from a different perspective.


Dan P. Carr said...

Thanks. I'm no superdad, just dad of a super kid.