Archive for the ‘My life’ Category

October occasions

October 12, 2014

Thursday, the 9th, was Hangul Day, which reminded me of my wonderful linguistics colleague Jim McCawley, who was a notable exponent of the holiday (but died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1999, so there’s some sadness in the day). And then yesterday, the 11th, was National Coming Out Day (NCOD), a joyous occasion in many ways, but also the day my husband-equivalent Jacques Transue and I chose to celebrate as our anniversary; alas, Jacques died in 2003, so NCOD is also a sad occasion. Then yesterday, the mail brought an ad for University Health Care Advantage, a Medicare HMO plan providing “comprehensive care at Stanford Health Care” for Santa Clara County residents — mail for Ann Zwicky at my home address in Palo Alto. Alas, Ann never lived in California, and certainly not at this address, and she died 29 years ago, so this mail was a grotesque reminder of Ann.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day in my country (also Thanksgiving Day in Canada, so mail doesn’t work in either country) — not a sad occasion, but now a rather bizarre holiday, celebrated (or not) in different ways in different places.


Wichita is falling

September 28, 2014

In The Economist of 8/16/14, a piece on guitarist Pat Metheny on the occasion of his 60th birthday, “Guitar hero: A giant of the jazz world just keeps on innovating”, which gives me an excuse to mention his 1981 album As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, because of its linguistically playful title and because of its role in my own life.

On the title, from Wikipedia:

As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls is a collaborative album by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, released in 1981. The title makes reference to Wichita, Kansas and Wichita Falls, Texas.

(Both phrases in the title have inverted word order, with the verb falls preceding the subjects — Wichita and Wichita Falls, respectively — rather than following them.)


The cock cushion

September 21, 2014

(Annals of phallicity, gift division.)

Back on my birthday, earlier this month, Kathryn Burlingham sent me congratulations and added: “The package is in the mail”. At the time I thought this was a little joke, a kind of echo of “The check is in the mail”. But then the package arrived, with this amazing piece of stitchery (by Kathryn and her friend Nandi) in it:


(Photo by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky.)

A friend (male and straight) was greatly entertained by the cushion, noting to a woman friend on his cellphone (with photo) that the design could be used for a handbag. Or, I added, a briefcase. Use your imagination.


September 21, 2014

On the 12th, a Facebook posting announcing that the day was Maria Muldaur’s 71st birthday. How could that have happened? Well, we age; I’m now 74. Only slightly less startling is the report in the latest Out magazine that Stevie Nicks is 66.

Back on my birthday, two comments on age: one from my grand-daughter, distinguishing between really old and just old; and one from my first male lover, now 66 (like Stevie Nicks) to my 74, an age difference that no longer seems significant.


I never promised you a rose garden

September 8, 2014

Yesterday I posted four birthday presents to  me, appealing to various parts of my life: a penguin, language, comics/cartoons, and the the lgbt angle (plus food). And then came a wonderful language-and-plants offering, from an old friend: a “rose garden”.


Some actual roses (of the genus Rosa), plus primrose, Christmas rose, tuberose, and rosemary (none of them roses at all or botanically close to them or (for the most part) with names etymologically related to rose. A wonderful conceit.


Birthday presents

September 8, 2014

Among the presents for my birthday (on the 6th): a penguin, a spelling Owl, an Archie comic, and a rainbow cake. (At least one more to come, in a future posting.)



September 6, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

Sad days.

Today is my 74th birthday, and I’m feeling old. But I’m getting wonderful birthday messages from all over the world, mostly on my Facebook account but also in e-mail. From a few very old friends, plus a lot of linguistics colleagues and a lot of lgbt friends (my two main communities). Including, in linguistics, Ethelbert Emmanuel Kari, of the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, who shares my birthday (but is considerably less geriatric than I am). I am, as Ethelbert said, blessed.

Annals of community and conversation

August 22, 2014

On Slate on the 20th, a piece by David Auerbach, on “The First Gay Space on the Internet: It was called soc.motss, and it anticipated how we use social networks today”. Framing the piece:

Since the early 1980s, there have been many LGBTQ spaces on the Net: newsgroups, bulletin board systems, or BBSs, mailing lists, social networks, chat rooms, and websites. But the very first LGBTQ Internet space, as far as I’ve been able to find, was the soc.motss newsgroup. And it hosted conversations that had never been seen before online — and that arguably remain in too short supply even today.


Farewell to the trees

August 16, 2014

On Wednesday morning the tree people arrived to deal with the last stand of trees in back of my Ramona St. condo — a silk tree and a (Chilean) potato vine — in a neighbor’s garden on the south side. A long, astoundingly noisy, and rather dusty operation that completely removed the last of the trees (though I was expecting something a bit less drastic). Now there is (sun)light.

I’ve posted about the silk tree  (Albizia julibrissin) before, and also about the privet trees (Ligustrum) back there, but not about the potato vine, Solanum crispum, a pretty and not very large shrub, which had gotten a bit ratty and was obviously in need of judicious pruning, but was completely removed anyway (for good reason, as it turns out).

The potato vine in bloom:


(More on the plant below.)


Yesterday’s anniversaries

August 10, 2014

Yesterday, August 9th, was the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resigning the Presidency of the United States. And the New York Times had an appreciation of Frank O’Hara’s “Lunch Poems”, which was first published in 1964 and has now been reissued by City Lights. A startling juxtaposition of personalities: the awkward, often surly, and fiercely ambitious politician Nixon versus the charming and gregarious poet, with his great gift for friendship.



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