Monthly Archives: January 2017

Name of the Day: Mercer

Mercer means merchant, fitting in with other occupational names in fashion such as Cooper and Fletcher. It has a long history of use as both a first and last name.

My first association is Mercer Mayer, who is a children’s author and illustrator. Growing up I loved his Little Critter books. We also had a couple Little Monster books, but I preferred the critter. Especially the books with little critter’sĀ little sister. Mercer Mayer has had over 300 books published. Not bad for someone that was told by several authority figures he wasn’t good enough to ever make money with his illustrations.

Johnny Mercer was a songwriter and the founder of Capital Records. James Mercer is the lead singer and guitarist of The Shins. Writer and social activist Langston Hughes was born James Mercer Langston Hughes.

I think Merce is a phenomenal nickname, and it reminds me of Merce Cunningham. Merce was a dancer and choreographer who was very influential in the world of modern dance. Extremely talented and extremely dedicated, he continued running the Cunningham Dance Foundation and creating new art until he died at age 90.



Name of the Day: Helena

A Latin form of Helen, it likely means either torch or moon. Let’s go with moon. šŸ˜‰ It has several acceptable pronunciations but my favorite is Hel-AY-nah, though I also like Hel-EE-na.

Shakespeare liked the name enough to use it on two characters. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream Helena is desperately in love with a man who does not return her affections. She continues to standby his side though he is downright terrible to her. In the end she is with (in my opinion) a far more deserving husband. Her character is a symbol of faithfulness, not just in love, but to one’s friends and family as well.

In All’s Well That Ends Well, Helena again is in love with someone who does not return her affections. She goes to extreme lengths to trick him into marrying her and staying married to her. In the end the fact that she went through these extreme lengths makeshim fall in love with her, so all’s well that ends well.

If I’m being honest I find both these characters a little pathetic… they remind me of junior high girls chasing after their crush with no respect for themselves. In the real world, a relationship like the one in All’s Well would disgust me. I’d never believe he loved her the way he should if it took that much for him to love her. BUT I’m saying this as a 20 something “feminist” in 2017. The fact is men and women were viewed very differently when Shakespeare wrote these plays. I do like what I believe to be the intended characteristics of Shakespeare’s Helenas: romantic, loyal, and determined as hell. I like theirĀ never give up attitudes and I’m glad they endĀ up happy in the end.

“Helena” is a song by My Chemical Romance in which Helena seems to be on the other side of the love story than Shakespeare wrote her. A heart breaker of many… in actuality it’s a song about the death of some of the band members’ grandmother. Their hearts are broken because she’s gone. šŸ™ Nickel Creek also has a beautiful song titled “Helena”. Foster the People have a song called “Helena Beat”.

I wish I could say Saint Helena is my favorite vacation spot but alas, I’ve never been. The island’s motto is “Loyal and Unshakable”. The island is named for the Catholic saint and mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. She is the Patron Saint of New Discoveries, my gosh do I love that!

The Helena River is a major river in Perth, Australia, which is my number 1 place I am determined to travel to. I’ve seen every Australian state except Western Australia, but mark my words, I’ll see it!

Helena Cobban is a writer who’s works have helped people understand issues faced in the middle east and as all we know knowledge is power… educating people on issues allows for peace, help and understanding. She has also started her own book publishing company.

Helena Devereux founded the Devereux foundation which staffs 6,000 educators and helps millions of those with special needs and their families. A pioneer in special education, she started her first school in 1912 with just $100.

It would appear this is not even close to a complete list of all the notable Helenas… but I think my point has been made. It’s great, the end.



Name of the Day: Wolfgang

Wolfgang is a big name that’s not used much these days, but I really think it can be pulled off. German for “wolf’s path”, Wolf or Wolfy would be a cute nickname for a little Wolfgang.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a famous composer, perhaps you’ve heard of him? šŸ˜‰ He started composing at just 5 years old and though he died at just 35, composed over 600 pieces. His works are still performed today and have influenced the works of many other artists, including Beethoven.

Another famous bearer is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He was best known as a writer, but he was also an illustrator, scientist and philosopher. He didn’t shy away from writing about human sexuality, though it certainly wasn’t as accepted in his day. (He lived from 1749-1832.) His views on religion were also very forward thinking, believing you don’t have to follow a certain denomination of Christianity to be Christian. A true free thinker, I have lots of respect for this man and would love to learn more about him!

Saint Wolfgang is one of the most honored German saints. He must be busy up in heaven because he’s the patronĀ saint of several things, including carpenters, stomach disease and strokes.

Apparently Wolfgang Van Halen is also the current bassist in Van Halen and son of founding member Eddie Van Halen. A famous chef, photographer, film directors, Nobel Prize winners, several athletes… it doesn’t look like such a strange choice when you look at all the influential bearers.



Name of the Day: Agatha

Agatha means “good”, simple but sweet meaning. I love this name and nicknames Aggie and Aga. Now for the history of Agathas.

Though I haven’t read any of her books my first association is Agatha Christie. I should say Dame Agatha Christie, she was made such in 1971 for her contribution to literature. Her books must be good because shes the best sellijg novelist of all time. You go girl!

Another impressive Agatha: Agatha Barbara. She was the first female President of Malta as well as the longest standing female member of Parliament and the founder of the Women’s Political Movement in Malta. She served multiple terms as education minister, in which time she made full time school mandatory for children, started schools for the disabled and teacher training programs, made science class available to both sexes and made secondary school free. Later as minister of labor, culture and welfare she improved working conditions and the unemployment rate. She also passed laws ensuring women get paid the same as men, workers were expected to work 40 hours a week and women got paid maternity leave. This woman is my new hero.

In fiction Agatha Trunchbull is a terrible character in a fantastic book by an even more fantastic author. Of course im talking about Matilda by Roald Dahl. Agatha is also a minor character in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, another favorite book of mine. (I have a lot of favorites.)

Agatha is also a saint, fashion designer, former member of parliament in India, and more. It’s an extraordinarily strong name that I think would be perfect for all stages of life.



Name of the Day: Ewan

“Born from the yew tree” do meanings get any more precious than that? Ewan is the anglicized version of Scottish and Irish Eoghan.

Ewan McGregor is my first association with the name, and he’s someone I’ve never felt either positively or negatively about, though I liked him in Moulin Rouge. Recently though he was in the news for cancelling an interview because the interviewer insulted those who participated in the women’s marches. This tips the scales to me liking him. I don’t care if you’re pro or anti Trump, but insulting peaceful protests is ridiculous. I commend anyone who has the courage to stand up for what they believe in. And the fact is millions of women have felt insulted by Trump’s comments and fearful of his prospective policies. So they should make their voices heard. Saying these women are rabid feminists and throwing a hissy fit…. I have no words for how disgusting I find that. Anyways, away from politics and back to names…

I love that Name of the Day leads meĀ to discoverĀ talented people I’d never heard of, like Ewan MacColl. Best known as a folk singer, this English man was also a playwright and labor activist. I’m well aware liking folk music isn’t cool but I love it. It brings me back to a simpler time. And MacColl’s voice is perfect for folk music! And I love that he wasn’t afraid to sing about his political beliefs.

Ewan Morrison is a Scottish writer who changes his whole lifestyle and lives in a different way so he can write about it. I haven’t read anything by him, but I’m certainly intrigued.

I didn’t find any fictional Ewan’s that might inspire… so if you know any more, fictional or non gift, let me know!




Name of the Day: Phaedra

Told you I’d be back with some longer “Fay” names! (Click here if you missed Fay as a standalone.)Ā This name means bright and I pronounce it “Fay-druh” as that’s how I’ve always heard it. But it appears “Fed-druh” and “Fee-druh” are accurate too. All pretty!

Typically being a name from mythology is a bonus for me, but Phaedra’s story in Greek mythology is quite sad. She kills herself after Aphrodite causes her to fall in love with her stepson, Hippolytos, who rejects her. So, points for being an ancient mythological name but… it does make my heart sad.

Tangerine Dream has an album and a 17 minute song “Phaedra”. She is also mentioned in the song “Velvet Morning” by Nancy Sinatra.




Name of the Day: Redmond

Redmond/ Redmund is the (anglicized) Irish form of Raymond, which means advice protector. Originally I thought Redmund was the accurate Anglicization…. but I found more history on Redmond. I think both are correct, though I’m feeling the O spelling more…. but am too lazy to change the picture I already made. I like the name as it would beĀ a shout out to Peter’s grandfather, who everyone knew as Red.

The two most famous Redmonds have the surname, O’Hanlon. Born in 1640, the first was an outlaw, often referred to as a real life Robin Hood. He was a clever man who’s tricks supposedly included reversing his horses shoes to confuse his trackers and dressing himself and all he traveled with in reversible jackets. They would flip their jackets to the red side when passing by crowds so those they passed would think they were part of the army. Of course, his tale was not as black and white as Disney’s Robin Hood, in which the sly fox is the obvious good guy. But that just makes Redmond’s story all the more interesting. So many details are uncertain about his life, I guess that means I can use my imagination and decide what kind of person I want him to have been. šŸ˜‰

The second Redmond O’Hanlon was named after the outlaw. However, his accomplishments have been very different, though equally intriguing. A scholar and writer, this Redmond has traveled extensively and written of some of his journeys. He has also contributed to several works about Charles Darwin. A true adventurer and a scholar, all in one.




Name of the Day: Tuula

Tuula is a variant of the Finnish name Tuuli, which means wind. Also Tula is Tagalog for poem. Both meanings are so beautiful. Wind is beautiful on its own, but I feel extra connected to it as Peter and I honeymooned in the “Windy city” aka Chicago. Peter seemed to think this was a stretch, but it’s honestly my first thought when I hear wind.Ā Probably because my kids bring up this really annoying app on my kindle all the time that says “we’re in Chicago, know as the wiiindy city, the city of wiiind.” Strange, I know.

My main attraction to Tuula is that I feel it would honor my mom, without the confusion of using her name. My mother’s maiden name is pronounced Too-Lee, so I was drawn to Tuula for its similarity. Technically I should like Tuuli more as it’s actually pronounced the same, but it seems both cutesy because of it’s ee ending, and surnamey because I have so many relatives with the name. Of course, most people won’t have that association, so for everyone else, I think Tuuli is really nice as well!

Tuula reminds me of tulips. Growing up we had a big bed of tulips in our front yard. I remember”helping” my mom plant them. I remember smelling them and pretending Thumbelina lived inside. I remember picking them for my mom whenever I wanted to surprise her. Tulips make me smile whenever I see them because they always bring back fond memories of childhood and my mother.

Lastly, Tuula makes me think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. For me, it’s more than just a funny movie. It’s a movie that my mother and I saw during a very difficult time in our lives. It was a movie we saw on a whim, hadn’t heard of it, didn’t have high expectations. But we both loved it. It was a bright spot in what seemed a dark world at the time. Thinking of the movie makes me think of my Mom’s laughter at a time when her laughter was rare. I love it for that. In the movie the main character isĀ Toula and it’s actually short for Fotoula, but I’m not as wild about that!

And another lastly, I pitched it to my husband and it makes him think of “Come on Eileen”. They say “Too-ra-loo-ra” I believe.Ā But hey, if that’s what it makes him think of, I think it’s a good song to associate with a name. Particularly since his Grandmother’s name is Eileen.



Name of the Day: Aldo

Aldo is an ancient Germanic name meaning old and noble. I put noble as the definition for the picture because old next to a baby seemed weird. Let’s look at the history of Aldo.

Aldo Moro may be the best known namesake. He was Prime Minister in Italy in the 1960s and 70s. His death… Is not something I want to focus on when discussing baby names. Overall most people consider Moro to have been an intelligent leader.

Several professional soccer players and Olympic athletes are named Aldo. I haven’t pitched this name to Peter yet, but if he heard of any of these athletes, particularly the soccer players, that could be a big selling point for me. Also several actors, architects, musicians and writers in Europe.

The namesake I personally found most interesting was Aldo Leopold. Aldo Leopold was an environmentalist who changed the way many people saw nature, and human being’s effect on the animals, plants, etc. living in our world. Some of his philosophies may seem over the top, but I definitely appreciate the direction his mind was headed compared to modern society’s view of the world we live in. In fact, I think I’ll check the library for his book, a Sand Country Almanac. And he is definitely someone who practiced what he preached, doing many favorable things for the environment around his home in Wisconsin and beyond.



Name of the Day: June

The name June comes from the month of June, and the month of June comes from the goddess Juno, meaning youth. The goddess was the protector of marriage, women… and finances.

To me June is a simple but romantic name. June is the month Peter and I got married. My first association with the name June is June Carter Cash. <3

The list of influential Junes in history is quite long. Here are my favorites that I found:

June Jordan was a Caribbean American writer and activist who spoke out about issues of race and LBGT rights.
June Mathis was a very accomplished screenwriter and Hollywood executive in the 1910s and 20s. She was the highest paid executive, which is hard for a woman to accomplish today. I can’t imagine how hard she worked to achieve that 100 years ago. Oh, and she was only 35.
My love for dance compels meĀ to include June Taylor, a famous choreographer
June Tabor is a folk singer. I listened to her on YouTube and wow she has a lovely voice.
Two opera singers have the name June: Bronhill and Anderson.

I also associate June with the fictional Junie B. Jones, my favorite book series when I was young. My mom and I read Junie B. Jones every night before bed. It’s also one of my positive associations with the name Lucille. (Even though the character Lucille is a total brat… still, it’s happy memories reading with my mom!)

Flaming June is a beautiful painting by Frederic Leighton.

Lastly, the nickname June Bug fits in with our family well since we already have a Honey Bea and Lemon.

Like I mentioned with Fay, I’m not sure a one syllable name will work well for us… but it’s so sweet, it’s worth consideration. I also know of a few longer versions that I’ll dive into eventually.