Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Three artists

December 12, 2018

(About art rather than linguistics. Well, Joelle Stepien Bailard is a lawyer specializing in international law and mediation, but she’s also a PhD in linguistics from UCLA (1982), though that doesn’t seem to be relevant to this posting.)

In recent weeks on Facebook, Joelle has been providing a pleasurable counterforce to a stream of news liable to provoke dread, despair, or rage: a counterstream of reproductions of art works in various media and genres, some of them familiar (Manet’s Olympia came past a little while ago), many by artist X before X became X (before X developed the recognizable style X is famous for), many that are simply little-known works by well-known artists, and many from artists you’ve probably never even heard of. Delightful.

Two of the artists — Franz Marc and Odilon Redon — are old favorites of mine. And a third, the currently very visible glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, appears here through a sliver of connection to Redon.


O rosemary, my rosemary

December 7, 2018

From Kim Darnell today, a Christmas tree, which she then decorated to suit my household:

(#1) O rosemary, my rosemary

I’d admired these little rosemary bushes at Whole Foods: pretty, wonderfully scented, useful in cooking, and an excellent evergreen container plant for my patio garden (rosemary shrubs are widely used as border and filler plants locally).


Green flowers

November 30, 2018

It starts with this design by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky on her Instagram account on the 8th, with her comment “Not sure why I keep making flowers green”:


And then it leads all sorts of surprising places, botanical, cultural, and linguistic.



November 19, 2018

A tribute to the great Swiss natural historian — in fact, polymath — Conrad Gessner (in the biological literature, Gesner), whose name has popped up in my life three times recently: in connection with the striking plants known as gesneriads (among them, African violets); as an early chronicler of mountain climbing (specfically on Mount Pilatus in Switzerland); and as the source of the first description of the alphorn, or alpenhorn (the musical instrument).

Gessner and some of his subjects, as depicted in a set of commemorative stamps issued by the African nation of Guinea on the 500th anniversary of his birth:


Gessner himself might have been archetypically Swiss, but the gesneriads are tropical plants, of Africa and South America.


News for penises: salt and pepper

November 12, 2018

A bulletin from Coral Gables FL, with penis pepper mills in gorgeous hand-turned wood; and a patriotic phallic (salt/pepper) shaker, standing tall for US Veterans Day (today). Photos under the fold (so the phallically averse among you can avoid engaging with these simulacra)…


Mandala swimmer, Kali tat, Banksia stamp

November 5, 2018

(Hunk in a swmsuit, oblique literate raciness. Plus religion, art, and plants.)

Today’s mailing from the Daily Jocks company takes us to the beaches of Oz, where an ad for the Aussie homowear firm 2eros’s Mandala swimsuit is framed as a postcard, complete with a 2018 Oz-floral stamp. Plus a caption of mine:

(#1) The flower of his manhood

Ramble down the
Rocks to revere his pink
Lotus flower, to
Lose yourself on the
Blue wheel of desire


News for pumpkins: art and science

November 3, 2018

Two bits of recent pumpkin news: the pumpkin as an artistic platform; and the evolutionary history of pumpkins.


At duty on the moors

October 26, 2018


Ripped from our posts,
Dumped in this wasteland,
Together we rust

Crankily, nastily
“Old fool’s gone all mottled”
“Her door don’t work”

We hiss and huddle,
Waiting for a ring.

Why don’t you
Ever call? Why?


Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.


From vine to towering tree, in four steps

September 27, 2018

Morning visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, to stave off catatonic despair at the news of the day. One bed cleared out to make space for a pollinator garden. Lots of plants at the ends of their seasons, winter plants not yet going. But tons of cheery autumn-blooming anemones. Monarch butterflies. And four especially notable plants: hyacinth beans, ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, a mountain cabbage tree, and a cucumber tree (a species of magnolia).