Archive for the ‘My life’ Category

A golden moment

December 1, 2017

On Wednesday, a visit to the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, just a bit north of where I live, to appreciate its gardens in early winter but not in the rain. An Allied Arts trip always includes a walk through an elaborate formal garden in a courtyard and then on to an allée of classic hybrid tea roses, among them my man Jacques’s special favorite, ‘Mister Lincoln’ (bright red, sturdy, and highly scented; a Mister Lincoln stands over the spot where J’s ashes are buried in Maine).

Since my last visit, the courtyard had been re-worked into a golden garden, a riot of plants with yellow and orange flowers, mostly yellow. Sometimes subtle, often bold, but overall an astonishing sunny effect for the end of November, when a weak sun hangs low in the sky and deciduous trees are almost entirely bare. A garden featuring lots of yellow composites (plants in the aster, or daisy, family, formerly the Compositae, now the Asteraceae); trying to look them up brought me to the wonderful notion of DYCs: Damned Yellow Composites, pretty yellow flowers that are maddeningly difficult to distinguish. So hard to tell one DYC from another.


The post-Thanksgiving news from 52 years ago

November 27, 2017

News you can sing!

Passed on by Virginia Transue, this story from the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield MA:

52 years ago (Nov. 29, 1965) the Berkshire Eagle printed a little article about two young men being fined 25 bucks for dumping trash. Little did we know at the time that the incident, which ran on page 25, would become the basis for Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Here’s our original story from 1965:

(#1) The genesis of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”


Two Thanksgiving meals

November 23, 2017

… both non-standard.

One continues a recent tradition at my house that involves vermicelli Singapore-style from the local Hong Kong Chinese restaurant Tai Pan (this year accompanied by hot and sour soup).

The other is a recent tradition at the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine CA, each year featuring a menu of inventive Mexican-based (sometimes quite distantly) dishes — among them, this year, turkeritos (foodmanteau alert!), incorporating seasoned beef, rice, and cheddar cheese, but apparently no turkey; the turkey’s contribution seems to be entirely verbal, in honor of the holiday. (It’s also possible that the turkeritos were tacos — folded corn tortillas — rather than burritos — wrapped wheat tortillas.)


Music the trigger of emotional memory

November 20, 2017

(About memory and my life, not much about language. Some oblique references to (fondly recalled) mansex, but nothing graphic.)

The context is the Enhance Fitness classes at the Palo Alto Family Y, for which the instructors use playlists of (dance) music as background for our exertions. Last Tuesday, we sweated to a series of British Invasion hits (from the 1960s), among them “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, which produced in me a powerful wave of pleasurable recollection — of  a time in the Queens Club, an after-hours gay dance club below the Queens Hotel in Brighton, Sussex. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Forty years ago, but oh so sweet.


Orchids on the march

November 13, 2017

Starting in May, we had a series of extraordinary heat waves, with record-breaking high temperatures again and again (sometimes 10 degrees F. above the record for the day). Then the heat waves broke and temperatures dropped by about 40 degrees, to something like normal. This seems to have convinced winter-blooming plants, like my cymbidium orchids, that winter had come, so they started sending up flower shoots. By Halloween, about six weeks early, we had this:

(#1) Yellow cymbidium in bloom


At the Little Tavern in Laurel

November 11, 2017

Yesterday’s Zippy goes out for sliders:

(#1) Zippy chats with counter man Sid at the Zipworld counterpart of the Little Tavern, 115 Washington Blvd. in Laurel MD, where donuts now roll alongside the sliders


sharp, sour

November 8, 2017

My morning name from a few weeks ago was the technical term oxytone. From NOAD2:

adj. oxytone: (especially in ancient Greek) having an acute accent on the last syllable.

with an etymology < Gk. ὀξύτονος, oxýtonos, ‘sharp-sounding’. with the first of our ‘sharp’ elements in modern English: OXY, oxy– (from Greek) or oxi– (from Latin).

As a prosodic term in Greek, it’s part of the set:

oxytone – paroxytone – proparoxytone

corresponding to the more familiar Latin terms:

ultimate – penultimate – antepenultimate

— that is,

final, last – next to last, second from the end – third from the end

OXY is familiar from the rhetorical term oxymoron < Gk. ὀξύς oksús ‘sharp, keen, pointed’ + μωρός mōros ‘dull, stupid, foolish’ — as it were, ‘sharp-dull’, referring to apparently contradictory combinations of expressions.

But wait, there’s more!


A Zwicky of flavour physics

November 2, 2017

Thanks to Google Alerts, yesterday I learned about the theoretical physicist Roman Zwicky — someone to add to the great book of Zwickys on this blog. His webpage photo:

His Edinburgh webpage lists his research areas as: Collider Physics, Flavour Physics, Fundamental Theory. Yes, forbiddingly technical, but then his pages are clearly intended for fellow physicists, not for random people, even those with scientific interests.


Japanese clam congee

October 28, 2017

Yesterday’s lunch, an excuse to use the rice cooker in my kitchen and take advantage of the furikake seasoning Kim Darnell picked up for me in last week’s grocery trip on my behalf. No pictures of the stuff — soupy rice isn’t at all photogenic — but something about the ingredients. Mostly about food, a bit about language.


The X-Bulbs, plus Greek Sword

October 27, 2017

It started a while back with a pair of morning names: Ixia and Sparaxis. Two showy bulbs, united by the letter X. They led to (in alphabetical order) ChionodoxaCyanixia, Hesperoxiphon, Ixiolirion, Oxalis, Xenoscapa. And from Hesperoxiphon, through its sword-bearing component (Gk. xiphos ‘sword’), to Xiphion, which we know now in its Latin version Gladiolus.

Along the way, some reflections on categorization and labeling in the plant world.