Archive for the ‘Introductions’ Category

The Ailanthus moth feeds on nectar, but the young feed on Ailanthus leaves. As we are NOT fond of ‘Stink Trees’, we find this visitor downright patriotic. 


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…but she keeps getting larger….


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The new garden bed is starting to show signs of life.  Crocuses, grape hyacinth leaves, a bit of new growth at the base of the perennials, and little red fists of peony leaves are punching upward from the soil…NewBulbGarden2015I’ve also learned that a happy side effect of leaving more of the aster stalks up through the winter is that it is more difficult for the rabbits to get at the rock iris:

Crocus-RockIris2015And did you notice our first Special Guest Bee for 2015?  Yes!  The First Bee of Spring!!

It’s right near the center of one of the striped crocuses.  Here:

It's a Bee!

Maybe a polyester bee?

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…in the wrong season:

This bit of floral fireworks isn’t due on set until October.  I guess he’s just a little eager to please, having just arrived from Bluestone a few weeks ago..

The blogging should pick up once the wreckage of the Spring semester stops twitching….

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eyeforskyIn the NY Times recently, there was an article about a disturbing fact of human variability. Well, let me re-phrase that: it’s not all that disturbing in the abstract:  people differ.  The disturbing fact is that treatments have been based on an idea of “broken/not broken” or “normal/abnormal” that may not hold up in real world practice.

incidentalomaFor instance, it turns out that if you have a patient complaining of knee pain, and you look with an MRI, you might see cartilage damage, but you might not.  Worse, apparently thousands of people are traipsing around, doing their Activities of Daily Living [yes, that’s a technical term], while having torn cartilage in their knees, and have no problems at all.  Yet thousands of people have had surgery performed on their knees, to “fix” torn cartilage, and it’s taken years for existing research saying “Guys, that doesn’t seem to solve the problem” to filter through into standard practice.  Apparently, while there are some cases where cartilage damage leads to problems, it’s within the tolerance of the human structure to function with a certain amount of damage. That makes a lot of sense; if every time one thing went wrong, the whole structure came apart, we’d be about as reliable as an old operating system and who knows what the error message might have been [other than dropping dead, or ending up as someone else’s lunch].

Partly I’m musing about human variablility because I was lecturing on it yesterday in two classes. But what landed on my doorstep today brought the issue to the fore again:  a small box, 6″x6″x1″, say, was wedging open the front storm door this afternoon. Screen-printed ribbon, and a screen-printed tag announced that it was a gift for me, and that it was “Fit to be tried”.  Oh, really?

I look at the box, heft the weight, and wonder if someone has saddled me with another bizarre Christmas gift [last year, my sister-in-law thought it would be hysterical to send me a Hillary Clinton nutcracker.  And no, it’s not the type that crunches with its jaws…].  Or maybe it’s another of those unsolicited panty hose trial things [equally useless in my life]?  It was already a source of irritation that they didn’t make any sounds or shifts in weight that suggested Christmas cookies….

Hmm.  So what….?

Oh, good Gawd…..Lady Rhetorica

As other baffled women across this great land of ours can attest, the Kimberly-Clark corporation wants me to know that they, THEY, have devised the perfect tampon.  This one, they say, will be a perfect fit for me!  So perfect I’ve just got to give it a try.

You can imagine the expression of WTF?!! this evoked.

The contents come complete with instructions for use and warnings about toxic shock syndrome.  If they could have, I’m sure the marketing team would have provided helpful hints on menstruating, just to get me in the mood.

Do I believe their claim? Well, as Lady Rhetorica is my witness, I seriously doubt their data sources.  Trust me, I’ve never let anybody named Kimberly anywhere near that part of my anatomy.

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Two syllabi and a 1-2 page book chapter proposal.  By end of day Monday.  Oh, yeah, suuuure.  And of course, the day is gorgeous, now that the storm has past.

While I go wrestle with obligations and worry about the folks in New Orleans, here’s the latest picture of Leia, who is acting more and more like a cat.

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Yes, there are two cats in that picture.  Two.  Leia is puffed up on the left, and Malkin is on the right.  Only yesterday did we discover that Leia had ‘graduated’ from sleeping under our bed to sleeping on top of the bed, right where she could be seeeeeeeen.

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Reth”o*ryke (?), n. Rhetoric. [Obs.] Chaucer. (from the Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913)

I never had to read Chaucer in the original language; I wasn’t that sort of English major. On the other hand, the multiple spellings of Rhethoric, Rhetoric, Reythorike, have always entertained me. So also, the range of pronunciations: “Re-tor-ic”, “Reh-tor-ic”, and my personal favorite, “Rey-Thor-eeKay”.

Thus: Rey-thor-i-cal Questions

There are many representations, or allegories of Lady Rhetoric. Often she is portrayed with both a sword and a lily, to symbolize her role in argument [to attack and to defend] and other forms of discourse [to embellish or beautify]. The illustration from The Marriage of Philosophy and Mercury … uses these symbols and mentions that Rhetorica is “embraced by the Zone of Justice”.

Oh, is that what they called it back then?

Here’s Lady Rhetoric making a point.

A bit under-dressed, but still all-business


If I were her, I’d be lecturing on the injustice of women having to pay for alterations. Couldn’t that artist have clothed the personification of Eloquence better? [Of course, drawing the Muses or the Seven Liberal Arts might have been the only near-nekkid ladies you were allowed to publish in those days….]

Here’s another version, that gives Lady Rhetoric her sword and breastplate of colores [figures of speech, analogized as embellishments on her clothing]:

Lady Rhetorica

Look here for a better picture, from the cover of the splendid book, Reclaiming Rhetorica.


I usually accessorize with a black fedora and a fountain pen, since the crown headgear is right out these days, and swords are frowned on in the modern streets of Elsinore…

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There are actually at least three blogs lurking beneath the surface here:

  • CopterCopter: Stories from urban Elsinore
  • PolyMirror: Reflections on a young craft
  • I’m not Thory: Exasperation as an art form

We’ll see which of these, if any, actually leap into the air, like fish, and fly.

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