Sunday, July 24, 2016

Word of the Day: "indefatigable"

Reading aloud one evening, my wife pronounced indefatigable as in-de-fa-TEEG-a-ble -- quite on the measure of British class-i-fi-CATE-or-ee.   I personally say in-de-FAT-ig-a-ble;  but that is morphosemantically opaque, whereas her version nicely brings out the notional relation to fatigue (with its French-derived oxytone).  Might this be another case where the Brits displace the accent?  But no, according to the dictionaries, no;  she came up with it on her own hook.

[Note:  The above is an update to a more extensive essay, here.]

Something to hum in the summer

Lemon ices.
Slices of time
with a wedge of lime.

[Those verses occurred to me  while reading a text on Special Relativity.
They do not constitute a substantive contribution to the subject,
but they were the best I could do at the … time.]

La Canicule

[ Outside the Beltway, USA , 24 juillet 2016]

Canicule vient du latin Canicula, qui signifie « chien », en liaison avec Sirius, étoile principale de la constellation du Grand Chien. Elle ne concerne donc à l'origine que la période annuelle du 24 juillet au 24 août, où cette étoile se couche et se lève en même temps que le Soleil3,4, ce qui avait laissé penser aux anciens qu'il existait un lien entre l'apparition de cette étoile et les grandes chaleurs. Ainsi Pline l'Ancien écrivait : « Quant à la Canicule, qui ignore que, se levant, elle allume l'ardeur du soleil ? Les effets de cet astre sont les plus puissants sur la terre : les mers bouillonnent à son lever, les vins fermentent dans les celliers, les eaux stagnantes s'agitent. Les Égyptiens donnent le nom d'oryx à un animal qui, disent-ils, se tient en face de cette étoile à son lever, fixe ses regards sur elle, et l'adore, pour ainsi dire, en éternuant. Les chiens aussi sont plus exposés à la rage  durant tout cet intervalle de temps ; cela n'est pas douteux5. »

At present, our area is suffering the worst heat-wave in years.   Where you are, possibly even worse.  (If you’re in Morocco, for sure.)

Blow *harder* ... !

I thought for a bit  before deciding on the title for this post -- something that would get across the sense of moral revulsion, as towards a rabid dog, and not just reflect a reading on the thermometer.  Heat wave and its literal equivalents -- Hitzewelle, ola de calor, موجة حر -- won’t cut it.  (Indeed, Heat Wave has been used benignly, as the title of a romantic song.)  A literal quasi-equivalent of canicula -- “dog days” -- won’t work, since it has been defanged through sentimental journalistic use (“the dog days of summer”/ “it’s a dog’s life”).   Life under the local “heat dome” seemingly involves more than a matter of Fahrenheit.  The atmosphere itself seems infected.  Yesterday, I went out briefly for a task on the front lawn;  by the time I heading back into the house, I was having difficulty breathing, as though the air had the thickness of mercury, vicious and viscid, and had to be laboriously sucked-in and plungered-out.  It wasn’t just the heat and it wasn’t just the humidity, since at that point I had yet to even break a sweat.  It recalled the old miasmatic theory of the cause of malaria -- mala aria—"bad air".

[For further meteorological meditations, click here.
For a blithe take on the whole schmier, here.]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rainmaker Monostich

Secretaries and clerks and flunkies
move quietly about   on the heartpine floors.

[from John Grisham’s legal-thriller of 1995.
Cf.  “In the room, the women  come and go …” ]

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bean gatha

In a saucepan,
place two tablespoons of water,

one tablespoon of butter,

and the vegetables.
Bring to a full boil
over medium-high heat,
separating vegetables with fork
to hasten thawing.


Reduce heat to low,   cover,
and simmer,
ve - ry      gent -   ly,
until vegetables are   tender --
eight to ten minutes.
(If all liquid   evaporates
before vegetables are      tender,
add a small amount of water.)

Do not drain.

Makes 1 ¾ cup.

[found on the back of a package, Berkeley, ca. 1972.
I was vegetarian at the time.]

[For further examples of "found poetry", click here;  or just look around you.]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jour de la Bastille

Félicitations à nos alliés de plusieurs guerres, et meilleurs vœux pour une solide coopération entre nos nations.
Et heureux anniversaire à mon épouse Suzanne Marie, née en ce jour il y a, eh ben, quelques années et le pouce, et qui porte un nom français en l’honneur de cette amitié  plusieurs foix séculaire.
Pour célébrer, voici le palmarès de nos aperçus hexagonaux:
La francophonie

A beautiful friendship

À propos de Nice

Et puis, le soir, ce carnage, souillant la fête et la nation.

Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Ils nous viennent de l’Afrique, et des pays de Mahomet. 
Chez nous  de même.

Aux armes,  chrétiens!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Morning: Trying to Arise

Gravity has me  plastered  to the mattress.
So strong   the tug of it,
I could stick to the ceiling just as well.

Something wants me urgently
at the center
of the