Friday, November 23, 2007

Crataegus x lavallei

At the fag-end of autumn, when most of the leaves have fallen and few town trees look exciting, the sultry glow of this one stands out. The leaves remain on the tree very late, some of them tinged with dark red, and the luscious-looking fruit, which for some mysterious reason rarely interests birds, lasts through the winter.

Crataegus x lavallei (Hybrid Cockspur Thorn) is a hybrid between two North American hawthorns, C. crus-galli and C. stipulacea; it was first raised in Segrez Arboretum (Seine-et-Oise), described 1880.

If I remember to take a look next May, I'll know if this tree is the type (yellow anthers) or var. 'Carrierei' (pink anthers).

I accidentally tore the petiole off this leaf (grabbed while running past). Also, the base is generally cuneate, not rounded.

Fruit "orange-red speckled brown, pubescent near tip" (Alan Mitchell), details you can just about see in this close-up:


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

new posts

I've pretty well finished updating Euripides for the Brief Hist - basically a list of all the known plays, with some sparse reflections. This has been my delight over the past year, though it's hard to explain why. I don't know a word of ancient Greek - I can barely decipher the alphabet. One of the translators wrote: "The highest ideal of a translation from Greek is achieved when the reader flings it impatiently into the fire, and begins patiently to learn the language for himself." (This was in 1956, when the reader had an open fire and was tranquilly deemed to be masculine.) That isn't how it worked out in my case - the very availability of so many translations meant that learning classical Greek seemed quite a low priority compared with learning a few modern languages to the various levels of incompetence that I've managed to attain.

Also, recent articles on Intercapillary Space: Elizabeth Willis and John Gay. Very soon forthcoming: Catherine Daly, again.

I have future plans for pieces on Hjalmar Söderberg (Doktor Glas, of course), rob mclennan, Aase Berg, Pentti Saarikoski & Gunnar Björling. But if I'm off to Spain I might just translate some more Bécquer... - coincidentally there´s a translation of the whole of the Rimas just published by Shearsman, but I won´t look at this yet; it would spoil my fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

themed easy-share

             VERDOLAGA        is what we have
     or     VERDULAGA?        leaves           now
              PORTULACA       is what we had last 
                                                  time        leaves
              CLAVEL CHINO                 dianthus
              HIERBABUENA               garden mint
                                  (MENTA POLEO    peppermint)

he undid his serviette, put it on his lap & the strong
breeze  just  blew  it  away.          then  he  looked 
down in non-plused surprise - he hadn't worked
out it would fly away!   Does   this  remind  you 
of anyone?  No - oh . . .

  ( I'm stronger )
   ( than master, )           A Day out for Hot Dog
    ( but I'll let him win )

Laúra swam from Fisherman's Cove
to Seaweed Cove on Thurs. Now it's
Sat & we're at Seaweed Cove again
but v. rough sea. Played in waves
but no swimming, too much strong
     backwash & rocky shores
 nearby.          Jovial tons of sea
exploded over us      it was brill
& a bit dodgy.     I      dived    into
the wave like a manlysurfer  ,  Laúra
 just floated  up  &  over . 
     Wet seaweed   piles ,  seaweed


in tea, are there any poisonous
seaweeds?   Laúra back down at
  the edge to cool down,  got a
big  wave  straight away ,  then
got   gooseys ,  streak & runnels
of  seawater  down her back
then  I  needed  a  wee  so   I
had  to go and get      between
the  rocks   wedged  under  the 
wave   ( my bottom half)  and
discreetly suffer the  foaming
wrath of the waves  while  L.
 took photos  (nb  I was not the


                          Big tattoo, big muscles
el Capitán          Round rocks   sloosh
                                     sea   bin
                           sandhollow  dragged
flame  skyway  straw  hat  Pilar  twisted
the rusty nut blend  clouded Euro digest
his hands went long  &  striated  like
Shredded  Wheat   while  pearly  light
gleamed  off the milk  in  a  plastic
birch  steel   dogbowl  and the  light
haunted  the  cut  glass  jewels  wine
ruby  &  church  emerald  in   my
grandmother's    ear-rings --  I surprised
repeating myself  &  if I only  knew how
to get this far    I'd   have time to search



Would you like to lie here like Snow Patrol
& get absorbed in a book?

Panima Vollkornbrot:
 Zutaten: Roggenvollkornschrot (59%), Wasser, Salz.
 Ingredientes: harina integral de centeno, aqual, sal.

Very nice despite minimal ingredients -- 8/10.

Panima Pumpernickel:
 Ingredientes: Pan especial, grano de centeno, agua, 
colorante caramelo, mejorante  autorizado,
antioxidante E-300, sal y levadura.
   Hergestellt unter lizens der GERMANIA BROTFABRIKEN
7/10 - Good form and separability of slices, good 
texture, but sweetness a bit cloying.

a ♫ page of pumpernickels  ♫

sang Skalle, reappearing serially & with
usualness in consequence, scornful of
everything but a finished & profitable line.
"Oh a serial, my word, I repeat what


I said before, & here stands the hero
puzzling where to go & now additionally
perplexed about being back, the
woolgathering nitwit, as welcome as
wintry clothes at a bootsale in July." 
Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
   ♂ flowers              brown  tending to coral

                 actually hangs more horizontally, drooping

                         Each scale is a fringed lozenge
                         with a stalk attaching it to
comfort of           central stem of cone, plus
middle-aged        around 6 other drooping bits -->
looking through lenses,
like my Dad.
Theory & Practice of Cloths
Laúra show me how to rinse out the milk-carrying
bottle in about 5 secs using hardly any water.
I had been filling it up pointlessly to no effect.
"It's so frustrating," she says, "such cackhand-
edness. Such Slow, laborious, wrong ness." 

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


So I've belatedly bought a digital camera... it's only a budget one, and I won't name and shame it, since I have no ambition of taking overwhelming pictures like the ones you can see nearly every day on Such Stuff.

These are the conkers (botanically, seeds) of Aesculus Indica, the Indian Horse Chestnut - wrinkled, blackish-brown and with a small eye. Conkers would be jewels if they could be kept shiny, but they lose their beauty in arid rooms, and these were already a little spoiled when I thought to leave them discreetly on the nearest verge overnight, hoping my camera would show up in the morning.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Things about naming that I didn't know

I did know that the rules for zoological nomenclature were different from the rules for botanical nomenclature. For example, an animal can have the same specific name as its generic name, e.g. Chloris chloris, the greenfinch. In botanical nomenclature this is called a tautonym and is outlawed.

So far, this evidence of the historic inability of the zoological and botanical communities to act in concert did not seem all that significant. What I hadn't grasped before was that they have independently used many of the same generic names: thus Oenanthe oenanthe is the common (Northern) wheatear, and Oenanthe crocata is hemlock water dropwort; Prunella vulgaris is self-heal, Prunella modularis, dunnock. There are 5,000 such ambiguous generic names! I haven't yet found out why this situation was allowed to develop but in both the examples I've given the botanical generic names were assigned by Linnaeus and the ornithological generic names by Vieillot in 1816. The practice is now discouraged.

Perpetuating this mutual indifference, I have never been - not truly, truly - interested in birds, though perhaps this might change following reading Max Nicholson's "Birds and Men" 1951), an early New Naturalist that I luckily found in a charity shop a couple of weeks ago - this is a book that makes you feel curious about what's going on around you.

For example, I have never knowingly seen a wheatear. The name "wheatear" is a genteel re-styling of the country name "white arse" (a handy identification feature).

Oenanthe oenanthe, photo by James Packer, one of many excellent pics on his Somerset birding site

I can't remember how this bit of internet surfing began, but it also took in a fascinating essay by Enid Bloch about the death of Socrates and the toxicology of hemlock, in contrast to other highly toxic umbelliferous plants such as hemlock water dropwort, cowbane, etc. Don't miss it!

Powered by Blogger