Archive for November 2005

Cucurbits, and Robur Tea


A dolphin, maranka, or monkey gourd.

Photo enlargement  by Eva Pawlak taken at Rocky Ford Gourds, Cygnet, Ohio, from a chart of Common Types of Hardshell Gourds at the website of the American Gourd Society.

There is also the colocynth, bitter apple, egusi, or vine of Sodom.

And then there is the luffa, or loofah, which I had vaguely thought was some kind of marine product, like a sponge, but it is not, it is a veritable vegetable, and, furthermore, there is, or has been, luffa apparel.

There is indubitably The Cucurbit Network Web site for the plant family Cucurbitaceae.

I can remember seeing once (and why did I not buy it?) a book called The Semiology of the Cucurbits in Literature.

John Greenleaf Whittier gets all gooey about Pumpkin pie:

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

But earlier, there’d been some ritual pericarp mutilation:

When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!


This unprepossessing page leads to images like this:

botanical illustration of a cucumber plant

Penultimately, I would point all those who live to eat toward three food-related blogs I have lately come upon: culiblog, delicious:days, and (the stimulus for this squashy reverie) inmolaraan (and thank you, languagehat, for the latter!).

Lastly, for boynton, lately heard of sipping robur tea, which I had thought was redbush or roiboos, but isn’t, a sign.

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 21, 2005 at 10:06 pm

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Indeterminacy on the buses

A crowded bus on the point of leaving Manchester for Stockport was found by its conductress to have one too many standees. She therefore asked, “Who was the last person to get on the bus?”  No one said a word. Declaring that the bus would not leave until the extra passenger was put off, she went and fetched the driver, who also asked, “All right, who was the last person to get on the bus?” Again there was a public silence. So the two went to find an inspector. He asked, “Who was the last person to get on the bus?” No one spoke. He then announced that he would fetch a policeman. While the conductress, driver, and inspector were away looking for a policeman, a little man came up to the bus stop and asked, “Is this the bus to Stockport?” Hearing that it was, he got on. A few minutes later the three returned accompanied by a policeman. He asked, “What seems to be the trouble? Who was the last person to get on the bus?” The little man said, “I was.” The policeman said, “All right, get off.” All the people on the bus burst into laughter. The conductress, thinking they were laughing at her, burst into tears and said she refused to make the trip to Stockport.The inspector then arranged for another conductress to take over. She, seeing the little man standing at the bus stop, said, “What are you doing there?” He said, “I’m waiting to go to Stockport.” She said,“Well, this is the bus to Stockport. Are you getting on or not?”

John Cage . Indeterminacy . 181

Many other Cagean parables and writings here, but this one has a particularly local resonance (although there haven’t been conductresses on the buses for a few decades now…)

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 15, 2005 at 8:34 pm

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Slide by W. Watson & Sons – Group of Diatoms


A meticulously arranged 19th century diatom slide by Watson & Sons. The slide has been photographed with various types of microscope illumination to bring out its inherent structural beauty.

from ars machina.com

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 12, 2005 at 5:02 pm

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The Daventry Demonstration

There were also 30ft steerable concrete mirrors that would then indicate the target direction by turning the dish until the maximum microphone response was achieved.In ideal (very still air) conditions these devices finally managed to achieve a maximum listening range of about 15 miles. A bomber travelling at 220mph would cover that distance in 4 minutes! In less than ideal conditions the results were even less impressive and the directional capabilities were non-existent. Even noises from passing cars were enough to disrupt the detection equipment

photograph of mobile sound-detector

Sound detection… a forerunner of Radar

The research did demonstrate however, that electromagnetic wave forms could be detected, gathered and possibly measured from a distant, unseen, and moving object . . .

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 11, 2005 at 9:38 pm

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Wood within this wood

photo of wooden book

Each "book" describes a certain tree species and is made out of the actual wood (the "covers"). The spine is covered by the bark, where mosses and lichens from the same tree are arranged. "Books" of shrubs are covered with mosses with split branches on both covers and spines.

The Wooden Library at Alnarp Library

via wood s lot.

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 9, 2005 at 9:54 pm

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So much for the dead, and now for the living: there is a poor specimen of a bird which to my unornithological eyes appears to be a happy mixture of a lark, pigeon and snipe (No. 710). Mr. MacLeay himself never imagined such an inosculating creature: I suppose it will turn out to be some well-known bird, although it has quite baffled me.

from ‘More Letters of Charles Darwin’ (Vol 1, p12), at the Charles Darwin bookstore.

See also The Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University.

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 6, 2005 at 3:59 pm

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John Latta (whose blog Rue Hazard I commend to one and all) has been fossicking about in Coleridge’s notebooks, and has come up with this sparkling find, among others:

Bright Reflections in the Canals of the blue & green Vitriol Bottles in the Druggists shops in London. Mere plictri-plactri –

Now, I have searched for the phrase "plictri-plactri" in all the usual places, and come up empty. It seems, from the context, to mean something trivially pleasing and evanescent, but I’d love to know where Coleridge got it from. Did he just make it up?

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Written by Dave Lovely

November 2, 2005 at 1:44 pm

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