Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

The Columbus Park of Roses

November 13, 2022

It’s mid-November, time for the annual donation to the Columbus Park of Roses to maintain a rose bed in memory of my man Jacques H. Transue (who was a long-time volunteer in the garden). So: a moment for flowers and for the area of Columbus OH where J and I lived together for about 20 years:  about 8 of them together with Ann Daingerfield Zwicky, until her death, then just the two of us (sharing the house on Beaumont Rd. — in the Beechwold neighborhood of the city — with various friends) for about 12 years until we moved to Palo Alto.

I’ll lead with the current JHT rose.

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Briefly: exocentric V + N

September 20, 2022

(Warning: a vulgar term for the primary female sexual anatomy will end up playing a big role in this posting.)

Where this is going: to an alternative name for an American President (#45, aka TFG); and to an alternative name for a classic American novel (by J.D. Salinger) — both names being exocentric V + N compound nouns, the first in English, the second in French. (I’ll call them exoVerNs for short.)

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Three greetings for 9/6/22

September 6, 2022

For Woo(l)ly Mammoth’s #82: a fresh greeting formula, a morning hummer, and a fairy woodland bouquet. To which I’m adding some carrot cake and coffee ice cream: it’s not only my birthday, it’s also National Coffee Ice Cream Day, which I’m honoring all aslant (with coffee gelato), as I do so many things. To alter a family saying (If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly): If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing eccentrically (for other occasions: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing outrageously).

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The vine and the fritter

September 4, 2022

Two notes from my life, one botanical, one gastronomical. The first has to do with the trellis, fencing, and wall plantings in my Palo Alto condo complex, which depend entirely on plants that are described in reference guides with the adjectives rampant and invasive and the verb smother. Originally, Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, and English ivy, Hedera helix. But then after the dry-rotted wooden arches in the complex were pulled down and replaced a while ago, new supertough vines were planted; my condo now has Dolichandra unguis-cati, cat’s-claw creeper, in front of it; and yesterday I noticed that some other condos have been planted with what appears to be Ipomoea indica, blue morning glory. Both of these newcomers are, omigod, contending — visibly and vigorously — with the ivy. (Yes, there will be pictures.)

Then, yesterday, in an Asian noodle mood, I decided to try the offerings from Tommy Thai (Thai and Cambodian food) in Mountain View (delivered by GrubHub). My first venture with the place, so I tried one noodle dish and one dish meant to go on rice (with a multidimensional range of options within those large categories), plus an appetizer that I hadn’t had before: Thai corn fritters (tod man khao pod). Which took me back, unexpectedly but satisfyingly, to my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother’s corn fritters. (Only two photos here — one Thai, one Pa. Dutch. Invasive flowering vines are a lot more picturesque than little pancakes.)

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It’s a nose! It’s a thumb! It’s a dick!

August 21, 2022

It’s a nose! 👃 It’s a thumb! 👍 It’s a dick! (well, it’s an eggplant 🍆 but we all know what that means)

Solanum melongena  that’s all of these, and more. Because that aubergine is a symbol.

The brinjal in question, posted by Bob Eckstein on Facebook yesterday:


(#1) Bob Eckstein: You have to be looking for it to find it.

And then we were off:

— Kimberly Krautter: It’s like a Rorschach test or one of those “what do you see first” optical illusions. I first saw a thumb and a mitten. Then I saw a face with a big nose.

— AZ: Is it a nose? Is it a thumb? Is it a penis? Is it a handle? It’s all of these, and more [and more will come, below], ’cause it’s a symbol, and symbols can stand for many things.

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The fairy fan-flower

July 25, 2022

From Benita Bendon Campbell yesterday, a delightful plant, new to her, that had just come into her life. Her photo:


(#1) A white Scaevola aemula cultivar, in a hanging pot; the plant grows as a garden shrub, but hangs or drapes quite satisfyingly, as here

The scaevola plant was new to me as well; it was hard to believe that I’d never come across a plant whose common name is fairy fan-flower and has cultivars that are intensely purplish-blue:

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Revisiting: walker balls and Australian plants

July 17, 2022

In recent days, occasions to re-play previous postings: one on pre-cut walker balls, one on Jill Brailsford’s stylized drawings of native Australian plants.

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Hey, buddy, we’ve been waiting for you!

July 15, 2022

(Symbolic allusions to men’s raunchy bits, so not to everyone’s taste.)

Poolside image in a Daily Jocks sale ad in this morning’s mail, in which three men hawk Elia beachwear in gayboy-themed patterns:


(#1) Paros swim briefs, left to right: Rainbow Cloud, Ice Cream Pop (symbolic penises), Donut Sky (symbolic anal rings)

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Leaves like lemons, leaves like holly

June 21, 2022

Arrived in Palo Alto on 6/18, a Gillian Mary greeting card from Ann Burlingham, written on 6/14 to report family news from Pittsburgh — a joyously bright representation of a flowering bottlebrush (genus Callistemon), a wonderful Australian plant that I first encountered in California about 60 years ago. Even better: C. citrinus, with bright red flowers that attract birds, bees, and butterflies; and gray-green evergreen leaves that release a lemony scent when crushed (hence the species name citrinus):


(#1) GMC-076 Crimson Bottlebrush, a Gillian Mary card from Aero Images

That led to more cards from this source — Gillian Mary is a trade name, not a person — and ultimately to the actual artist, illustrator and painter Jill Brailsford (who’s the owner and designer of GMC). GMC offers other cards showing Australian plants and flowers — from which I’ve selected just one more (Banksia ilicifolia, with prickly, holly-like leaves) — also Australian scenes (mostly beach scenes) and Australian animals.

So, lemony Callie and prickly Banksy. And then Jill.

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Dusky Rose, I’m home again, Rose

June 11, 2022

The plants, the music, the clothing! There are three parts to this posting. Part 1 is about plants, specifically a Hydrangea macrophylla now blooming on my patio for the first time since 2017. Part 2 (which ends up with Randy Rainbow doing a fabulous barbershop quartet performance — just the music, ma’m) and Part 3 (which ends up with the superhot Argentine fashion model Maximiliano Patane posing shirtless) are tied to Part 1 by the color dusty rose or dusky rose (a type of pink), some mental association, and some sheer accident. The color, from the Color Codes site:


(#1) In actual practice, the color label covers a range of hues, some lighter, some brighter, some pinker

From dusty rose by association to the song “Lida Rose” and to Randy Rainbow’s performance of it. Also from dusty rose in a search for men’s clothing in the color (after a search for clothing in this color got tons of women’s clothing, mostly lingerie and wedding dresses, and nothing for men; the color is clearly highly gendered), by happy accident to a photo of an extremely steamy and wildly hirsute Patane modeling a suit in that color. Which led me to the model more generally; my ignorance of the world of high fashion is both wide and deep, but for Patane a 2016 spread on him (“hotter than California weather”) in Out magazine provided shirtless delight.

And then I was able to tie all three parts together in a brief parody of “Lida Rose”, in which the singer speaks to his lover Max using the pet name Dusky Rose for him.

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