Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

The cuke protrusion

August 12, 2023

The weekend winner in the phallic vegetable competition; all cucumbers are phallic, but this one takes cuke phallicity to a new level.聽From Kristin Landis Lowry on Facebook yesterday, reporting from her growhouse:

— KLL: This was bound to happen 馃槀馃槀馃槀


Stunningly blue flowers out on the street

July 26, 2023

Sighted by my helper Le贸n Hern谩ndez, on his way from the Caltrain station to my house day before yesterday: stunningly blue flowers just mixed in with some blooming wild grass under a tree out on the street in front of Verve Coffee Roasters (162 University Ave. — on the south side, just east of High St.). I had no idea what they might be, so yesterday on his way to my house he took some photos on his phone, two of which I’ll post below.

There were a lot of them, and they were certainly beautiful: little balloons of intense blue — flax blue — on a plant with strap-like leaves. I maintained that I’d never seen anything like them, but that turns out to be provably false, since I posted about a closely related plant in Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden back in 2019. Memory is a fickle thing.


Annals of domestic life: pruning the ivy-leaved geranium

July 20, 2023

Another little posting about what I’m doing, coming close to a posting about nothing, in the tradition of Seinfeld. Today it was a gardening task, but a very complex one (at least for someone who has to get around in a walker), ultimately taking me an hour of steady hard work, with very considerable assistance from my helper Le贸n (in what turned out to be nearly 80-degree heat, but in the shade and not at all unpleasant). I’ll explain the job and then the details of our work.

But first, of course, Seinfeld.


Hot days

July 14, 2023

This is today’s Mary, Queen of Scots, Not Dead Yet posting, about my adventures in doing more things on my own, taking advantage of my increasing strengths. Today’s project was pruning the plants in my patio garden, removing the flower heads and flower stalks that had come to an end of their blooming life, cutting them into smaller bits and throwing the bits onto the garden strip as compost in the making. All very satisfying, cycle-of-life stuff. (All done, slowly and carefully, using the table on my walker.)

My cymbidium orchids are now all at the end of their bloom — fully six weeks later than normal — and are now in dormancy, silently building up their resources for next fall’s cool and rainy weather and sending up fresh flower stalks.

What I hadn’t reckoned on was the brutal heat: 81 F. when I did the pruning (still on its way to 83). I took my prunings into the shade to do the chopping and cutting, but had to go back into the blaze to throw stuff on the garden. I then decided that no way was I going to deal with the ivy-leaved geraniums on the street at the entry to my condo; something for another day. I retreated back into my house, which has air-conditioning. Still feeling a bit fried.

Hoping to do some more contentful posting tomorrow.



And now for something completely different

July 12, 2023

About plants, clued into聽Ruschia lineolata ‘Nana’, or dwarf carpet of stars, by Erick Barros (who grows it) yesterday. The Wikipedia photo of the plant in bloom:



The Introversion Star

June 8, 2023

From Max Vasilatos on Facebook yesterday, her report of a聽9-pointed star (you don’t see a lot of them) in a notice for a meeting (the details of which are not relevant here): octagrams with rewards for attending — snacks! prizes! — plus a central enneagram, with the inducement of introvert-friendliness; presumably, no one will be pushed or prodded into participating actively in anything that would make them uncomfortable. Ah, the Introvert, or Introversion, 聽Star!

(#1) It’s ok, you can just sit on the sidelines and watch (Nora Ephron’s 1970 collection of essays, Wallflower at the Orgy, leaps to my mind)

Now it turns out that a 9-pointed star is a symbol of the聽Bah谩始铆 faith. But before you get all excited by that, let me remind you that the most neutral of stars, the 5-pointed star — which little kids in my country learn to draw rapidly as “a picture of a star” and which older kids here learn to fold as “paper stars”, especially for Christmas — is also the pentagram, the symbol of Satan and his powers; and that 9-pointed stars could be taken to stand for a vast number of things in different contexts (I’ll provide a sample below), not just for Faith and the Godhood in聽Bah谩始铆. The enneagram doesn’t intrinsically mean these Bah谩始铆 notions, or introversion, or whatever; it’s just a shape. It’s Just Stuff, as I’m given to saying. (There’s a Page on this blog聽about my postings on It’s Just Stuff.)


Walking: the purple plums of Palo Alto

June 6, 2023

For a long time during the winter rains this year, I couldn’t go walking in my neighborhood, since I had no way to protect myself (with both hands on my walker) or the walker itself from the rain. Then it was just unpleasantly cool and tough on my breathing, and anyway I moved into Whizz City (for good medical reasons) and had only about 20-minute intervals to walk in, at the risk of pissing my pants on the sidewalks of Palo Alto (which did happen once, just once, an occasion that succeeded in warning me away from going out).

But recently it’s gotten warmer and drier, so on Sunday I ventured to walk around the block during a safely whizz-free interval, and it was absurdly pleasant, to be out in the sun in my place, able to stop and rest when I needed to, because my excellent Rollator comes with a seat you can sit on when you need to (a boon for someone who suffers from dyspnea on exertion).

Along the way I noticed a number of handsome small street trees with quite striking dark purple leaves, trees I apparently had previously, negligently, just treated as background. Some rooting around on-line led me to the information that I was looking at some cultivar — there are quite a few — of the聽purple leaf plum / purple-leaf plum / purpleleaf plum, purple plum for short (presumably a cultivar with聽only tiny hard fruits, so it makes a good ornamental street tree). A pleasure of the afternoon.

A bit more on the trees below. But first, on to Monday, yesterday, with a somewhat more ambitious walk in a 20-minute window, this time on business.


The clitic t-shirt and its companion book

May 18, 2023

In my 5/10 posting “No clitic allowed”, a report on a PUT YOUR CLITICS IN SECOND POSITION t-shirt that I designed. It has now arrived, and I have modeled it, out in my little patio garden, among the blooming cymbidiums and in front of the ivy-covered wall, displaying a copy of:

Approaching Second: Second Position Clitics and Related Phenomena, ed. by Aaron L. Halpern & Arnold M. Zwicky (CSLI Publications, 1996)

Photo by Erick Barros:

The cymbidiums are rapidly reaching the end of their season, now that the days are actually hot. One of their flower stalks withers away every day and is chopped up to become compost on the garden. (The plants will then go into dormancy, meanwhile creating new rhizomes for next year’s blooms; during the hot dry season they will serve as handsome foliage plants — and require constant watering).

Briefly: the cymbidium report

April 15, 2023

A note on the cymbidium orchids growing on my patio. This has been not only an especially wet rainy season, but also a cold one, and the orchids seem to be about a month later than usual in blooming. The buds on roughly half the flower shoots have not yet opened, and it’s mid-April; this is a bit ominous, because once hot dry weather comes (normally, the beginning of June), any flowers shrivel and die, while the plants go dormant until the cool rains come again (roughly, in November), though their strap-like green foliage remains.

Always the first of my cymbidiums, a variety with bright yellow has just, today, come to the end of its season. Its flower shoot appeared just after Halloween, the buds finally opened 2 months later, just after New Year’s, and the flowers lasted for 3陆 months.

Unfortunately, the 8 stalks of buds that haven’t yet opened have only about 6 weeks until the floral grim reaper’s scythe; their normal lifespan will be much shortened, and some buds might even wither in the heat before they can open.

But what I actually have, to view out the window where I work, is quite a display, the central items being a pink variety, and one in the palest of yellows. Photos of these from 3/20/21:




April 9, 2023

It starts with a Jacquie Lawson e-card “Auricula Theatre”, sent to me by Benita Bendon Campbell for Easter. The auriculas in question are cultivars of Primula auricula (aka the mountain cowslip or bear’s ear), a species of primrose.

The final image of the e-card:

(#1) On the left, the Auricula Theatre