fierce house finches guard
a nest of six speckled eggs,
below, a pink mess
And so we reach the end of the alphabet once again! Today’s Best Word Ever is zwitterion: a dipolar ion, i.e., an ion that carries both a positive and a negative charge in different parts of a molecule, as with certain amino acids and protein molecules.
A German noun, from Zwitter, “hermaphrodite,” from Old High German zwitaran, from zwi- ”between” + Ion, “ion.” First known use: 1906.
Speculation about the new zwitterion buzzed through the Twitterverse as chemists contested and defended each and every zwitterionic criterion.
Here’s a sweet, summery reminder that the rose can bloom
in all sorts of places and ways (and without pits or thorns)…
What’s more refreshing on a sticky, nearly summer day than chilled fruit salad? My favorite mix will include mango, fresh blueberries, pineapple chunks, and never kiwi, but you also can’t beat a simple sunny tossing of seedless grapes, fresh strawberries, and sliced banana for that perfect blend of juicy bright and creamy sweet. The fruit salad pictured here looks delicious, but something’s missing.
That would be watermelon—$3.49 for an eighteen- to twenty-two- pounder at ShopRite. It’s an annual bargain the shopping week before Memorial Day.
As a kid nothing symbolized summer for me like watermelon. Back then, each fleshy celebratory slice was studded with shiny black pits, wonderful for pit-spitting contests during a carefree Sunday picnic (where are those carefree days?).
The goal was ostensibly who could spit a watermelon pit the farthest, but in reality we kids took aim at each other. Vive la guerre!—but always in a spirit of good summer fun.
—musing, mid-MFA, to Susan
The writing up his right arm says “Right On.”
That bothers me. It also bothers me
that I’m older than many of the names
printed here. Yes, always in the back.
I read that two are twins. How curious.
* * *
I am reminded of what’s best forgotten:
the hurts like names in ink on tender insides
of an arm. We were a team. No more.
No news is old news—right? I was a twin.
We both wrote poetry and read the names.
* * *
I mull things over, try to write a poem
but it’s no use—I can’t divine my thoughts.
And tell me this, was it a good idea
to plant these beans? What have we gained from it?
A woody winding vine that’s veiled in clouds!
* * *
You dream of oranges, which makes no sense.
I wonder what this means and do a search.
Dreams of fallen fruit? A snaking stalk,
then sheepishness. The writing’s on the arm…
(May I confess? I never was a twin.)
Felicia Sanzari Chernesky
Some say there can be no marriage between science and art, but I disagree. The two are inseparable. Think, for example, of baking. Precision, mathematics, chemistry, a refined palette, a sense of balance, manual dexterity, and inspiration all play important roles in the creation, say, of an apple pie with a tender, flaky golden-brown crust and juicy filling with a taste bud-pleasing blend of sweet and tart apples.
The key ingredient, how-ever, is the cinnamon. I think of it as the heart of a perfect apple pie. In proportion to the other ingredients, a little cinnamon goes a long way and it is easily incorporated throughout the pie.
When we are creating and we put our heart into what we do, it changes everything.
What I find so charming about the science assignment pictured above is the last sentence. My son insisted on including it as part of what he observed during a bird-watching session. Completely smitten with the unit on animals they are doing in science at school, he brims with facts, fascinating stories, and now makes comments like, “You know something? I really love vertebrates!”
Very often as adults and artists we go through the motions, even when we are doing the things we enjoy, like baking—or writing and illustrating. I think it’s important to stop and remember that what we are doing—even scientifically—is “lovable.”
Taking this moment to reflect is a simple way to reinvest our heart in our passion and reincorporate passion into what we are creating. For like the tiny flecks of cinnamon that spices every hour of each four-and-twenty blackbird pie, LOVE is always there to feed the hungry muse.
Today’s Best Word Ever is yogibogeybox: the materials employed by a spiritualist.
A rhyming, alliterative nonce word—a word created for a particular occasion, sometimes independently by different writers or speakers, but not adopted into general usage—coined by Irish author James Joyce (1881–1941) in his novel Ulysses (1922).
Yogibogeybox in Dawson chambers. Isis Unveiled. Their Pali book we tried to pawn. Crosslegged under an umbrel umbershoot he thrones an Aztec logos, functioning on astral levels, their oversoul, mahamahatma. The faithful hermetists await the light, ripe for chelaship, ringround-about him. Louis H. Victory. T. Caulfield Irwin. Lotus ladies tend them i’the eyes, their pineal glands aglow. Filled with his god he thrones, Buddh under plantain. Gulfer of souls, engulfer. Hesouls, shesouls, shoals of souls. Engulfed with wailing creecries, whirled, whirling, they bewail.
—James Joyce, “Scylla and Charybdis,” Ulysses
Today’s Best Word Ever is xanthippe: an ill-tempered woman.
A nagging noun, from Greek Xanthippē, Socrates’s shrewish wife (5th century BCE) and the mother of Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, and Menexenus, their three sons. The name Xanthippē is related to the masculine proper name Xanthippos, a compound of xanthos, “yellow” + hippos, “horse.” First known use: 1691.
Bobby and Bradley sat at the bar grumbling about Bonnie and Brenda:
“Man, you always begin married life with a wife who’s as free-spirited as a hippie—but before you know it you’re debating Xanthippe. Another brewski, bro?”
One of the joys of youth is the ability to abandon oneself to the moment. To “have an experience” is different from “experiencing.” Being experienced—an advantage of middling, or middle, age—allows for tempered reflection before making the decision to have another experience.
We stand, poised at the entryway of whatever adventure lies before us, calculating or overcoming fears, estimating the cost and time involved, weighing risks versus rewards, and so on.
But at some point there needs to be a reengagement with the completely unreasoned and unreasonable voice of youth. It’s the voice that says, “What abyss? I’m leaping into joy.”
And what is joy?
Joy is not something we possess. We are filled with joy. And that does not mean having an experience of joy, but experiencing joy.
For some, like my dear Jessica, whose teeth marks are on the cake pictured above, joy is what she calls “chocolately deliciousness.” For Jess, the empty white plate represents joy fulfilled.
For others, like me, joy is a blank white piece of paper (or computer screen) and another gloriously terrifying opportunity to leap once again into writing. It is the advent of joy, because even though writing is arduous—sometimes to the point of torture—writing is also always bliss.
Today’s Best Word Ever is wheeple: to utter a long whistle or shrill cry.
A verb (both transitive and intransitive) with a British accent.
This is the church,
this is the steeple
where birds build their nests,
lay eggs, and wheeple.
Birds nest and wheeple
inside the steeple.
Sunday the church
fills up with people.
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