mánudagur, maí 26, 2008


Always the same on Sunday evenings. One of the public radio stations plays Bluegrass until dawn, old time Bluegrass punctuated with halting commentary by an un-radio-seeming announcer. The other station plays Blues.

Apparently, Bluegrass is named after a special band, the Bluegrass Boys, and their bluegrass comes from the region where the actual bluegrass Poa pratensis grows. The Blues are named for the metaphorical blue color of sadness, which, it seems, is quite old -- even as old as 1385.

Blue has a strange history in English and elsewhere. The PIE base *bhle-was meant yellow here and blue there, a light color either way. In Old Norse blár was black here and blue there, pitchy in either case.

fimmtudagur, maí 22, 2008


It is probably a bad habit, but I am looking at pictures of dogs in the local shelter. Several of them look happy to see you -- which is to say happy to see the photographer. Several more are also listening to something off to one side or behind them. Some are more remarkable, at least at first glance.

This one looks very intellectual what with the little fawn-colored double-apostrophe eyebrows on his black face. He looks like he's just said something and attributed it to Catullus. He isn't being obnoxious about it. He hopes you know the passage, and if you don't, he's happy to be able to introduce you to it. It's such a good passage -- everyone should know it.

Another one with unearthly blue eyes, tiny eyes, dim-sighted starburst eyes that double merles get -- and deaf, of course. I hope some one adopts him, and I hope that when that person ruffles the fur behind his head that he somehow hears good dog!

miðvikudagur, maí 14, 2008


Maybe she really had been in love all that time. It felt a lot like it. She had smiled to herself thinking of his face, thought about how his footsteps would sound on her wooden floors, fantasized about his being there when she woke up, imagined touching him. Silly love, the kind she had never before permitted herself. She'd only ever seen him once, after all, and he hadn't taken much notice of her. Silly love, and silly heartbreak, and in the end it will be all right.

mánudagur, maí 12, 2008


A very dainty thing, cream and gold and thin porcelain, and I should never had left it where a shoal of stoneware might slide down onto it. I had only ever had three. Now I will have to be content to drink chocolate with a single guest instead of two. Perhaps that would not be so bad, either.

mánudagur, maí 05, 2008


Poor old horse! Poor young filly. Eight Belles stumbles and splinters. Do not search for the photographs. They are horrible: not of a gunshot to the temple (she was given the needle) but of sickeningly bent forelimbs.

Far sturdier horses have raced for thousands of years. The Norse raced the stocky ancestors of Norwegian fjordings and Icelandic horses on tracks called skeiðar. Iceland is still dotted with place names ending in -skeið. There is also a town in Lancashire, England called Hesketh, which was once hestaskeið. The Norse were there -- not the Danes, as in York, but Norwegians. At some point, Hesketh acquired lords.

The Heskeths (Heskeyths, Heskaiths, &c.) are easily traceable to within a few generations of 1275. The present Lord is Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh KBE PC. Lord Hesketh is best known for his interest in formula one cars. He founded Hesketh Racing, constructed cars, and assembled a team that competed until 1978. In 1980, he turned to motorcycles, and the Hesketh V1000 was born, followed in later years by the Hesketh Vampire. The company staggered and collapsed in 1982, but first Hesleydon Ltd. and then Broom Development Engineering took up production.

Broom also seems to be the one to turn to for repair, should your Hesketh show signs of needing it, but the cycle is so well-engineered that you may never have to call. The frame is "light but rigid," and the telescopic front forks are "renowned for rigidity, excellent damping and long service life."

sunnudagur, maí 04, 2008


May Day come and gone before I really noticed.

Quaeritis unde putem Maio data nomina mensi?
non satis est liquido cognita causa mihi.

Ovid has Polyhymnia, Urania, and Calliope each give her own version of the origin of the month's name. It is named for old men, for majesty, or for Maia: most beautiful of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione, she the daughter of Ocean and the giantess Tethys. Mercury was her son, and after she led him to place where Rome would later stand, he named the month in her honor.

The god of thieves was a dutiful son. Nec pietas haec ultima est.
Hvaðan þið eruð