Jester with a Lute original painting c. 1620-25, by Frans Hals

Invest me in my motley; give me leave/ To speak my mind…
As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7

To-day I am introducing myself and my blog again. It was my 2012 creative venture, both scrapbook and journal, an attempt to record my interests and to reach out to kindred spirits who enjoy exploring similar issues and ideas.

In January, when I began, I invited readers to share their issues and ideas, to add their own selections to the mix. I have since discovered that those so inclined probably have blogs of their own already and have been delighted to find them. Don’t hesitate to comment… I would love to hear from you.

Keeping a journal on paper has been part of my daily routine for many years. There are always several on the go at any given time, all on separate topics, all beautiful books, all very precious. Keeping a journal  online and in public has been very interesting… both more and less satisfying… and certainly different.

Journalling presents an opportunity to be very reflective and personal. I can tell from the blogs where my “inner” journey was taking me, what issues and ideas were grabbing my attention at the time, but a blog must lack the intimate introspection of a personal journal. So now I keep both.

A vintage illustration from As You Like It

The process of writing on paper is very different from keyboarding at a computer. Many of the skills overlap, but writing on paper encourages a smoothly flowing  and continuous stream of consciousness or development of an argument. Since it is necessary “to go with the flow” sometimes you end up in unexpected places, developing insights and conclusions that quite surprise. I used to say that I didn’t know what I thought about an issue until I had written about it. At the computer I can be much stricter, better organized, less wordy. Perhaps the computer works better for expository writing, and my paper journals were more narrative and descriptive.

I am a scrapbooker, but not in the new sense of the word. Indeed, scrapbooking as a craft/hobby, using templates and purchased embellishments, following patterns online or in how to craft books is so contrived and artificial that I hate it. My scraps rarely made it in to scrapbooks. But I  am an avid collector of snapshots, news clippings, concert programs, poems I like, paragraphs from favourite books, old calendars, lovely greeting cards… etcetera. These bits and pieces end up in pretty boxes or manilla envelopes, stashed away until found by accident and enjoyed in some unknown future.

Online I can scrapbook (my way) and journal simultaneously! All of Google images, as well as my own photos, have become my clipping file! Utterly amazing. Like those incredible portraits in the Harry Potter books, I can add pictures to my journal/scrapbook that talk and sing and dance. If I want to extend my information base or confirm a fact, I don’t even have to leave my desk. The data I want is, literally, at my fingertips within seconds.

Here is what I posted last January, along with a dictionary entry that explains why I love the word “motley”, why we used it as a name for our puppy, why we consider it a compliment of the highest order. I am tired of explaining that I got it from the licensed fool in my favourite Shakespearean comedy, that is has nothing to do with a certain rock band

Interrobang, the motley dragon:  originally posted on January 2, 2012

The blog template recommends that users choose a “Gravatar”, an image that will immediately identify their blog or comment among a list. Not wanting to frighten users away, instead of a personal photo I chose my little motley dragon, Interrobang. Ferocious and fanciful, Interrobang will remind me to be seriously light-hearted, to observe intently and speak forcefully, but without losing touch with the comic absurdity all around us.

The interrobang, interabang[ /ɪnˈtɛrəbæŋ/), ‽ (often represented by ?! or !?), is a nonstandard punctuation mark used in various written languages and intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the “interrogative point”) and the exclamation mark or exclamation point (known in printers’ jargon as the “bang”). A sentence ending with an interrobang asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question.

Despite the fact that the interrobang did not “catch on” in common usage, despite the fact that it may be considered ironic, sarcastic, or even challenging, we need it, especially in written communication that lacks the context clues of body language or tone of voice. Since it’s very tricky and often impossible to type, and also relatively unknown, it doesn’t show up very often.

But for me it has another connotation. Interro for curiosity, bang for enthusiasm. Question, and exclaim! Think and speak out! As such it is the name of my motley dragon and a reminder that without curiosity and enthusiasm life would be much less interesting.

mot·ley… Here is more about that wonderful word,  cobbled together from motley sources. You are invited to add it to your own vocabulary and use it with panache. My sources tell me that it can also be used as a verb (perhaps they mean as a past participle used as an adjective or as an infinitive… I cannot imagine it used in the present or progressive tenses. “I am motleying my quilt…” NO! Is it just the sound of the word, like a bastardized adverb, like saying he was quicklying down the road?  Oh, give it a rest!

adjective:   made up of elements of varying type, quality, etc; of great variety or incongruity; heterogeneous; multicoloured; having many colors; variegated; parti-colored;  consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds; assorted, miscellaneous, mixed, sundry, heterogeneous, heterogeneous – consisting of elements that are not of the same kind or nature; having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly; multi-color, multi-colored, multi-colour, multi-coloured, multicolor, multicolored, multicolour, multicoloured, particolored, parti-coloured, piebald, pied, varicolored, vari-coloured, calico, painted; colored, coloured, colorful

 noun:   a motley collection or mixture; a heterogeneous, often incongruous mixture of elements;  the parti-coloured attire of a jester; a multicolored woolen fabric woven of mixed threads in 14th to 17th century England; cloth, fabric, textile, material – artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers;  a garment made of motley;  a collection containing a variety of sorts of things; assortment, miscellanea, miscellany, mixed bag, potpourri, salmagundi, smorgasbord, variety, mixture, aggregation, collection, accumulation, assemblage – several things grouped together or considered as a whole; grab bag – an assortment of miscellaneous items, witch’s brew, witches’ brew, witches’ broth – a fearsome mixture; range – a variety of different things or activities; selection – an assortment of things from which a choice can be made; farrago, gallimaufry, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, melange, mingle-mangle, mishmash, oddments, odds and ends, omnium-gatherum, rag bag; alphabet soup, sampler

I hope you agree that my motley blog lives up to its name!

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