Thursday, June 26, 2008

From the Polysyllaby Department

The following entry is from pages 251-252 of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by H.W. Fowler, revised and edited by Sir Ernest Gowers, Oxford University Press, 1965:

"hugeous. Those who use the form perhaps do so chiefly under the impression that they are satirizing the ignorant with a non-existent word, as others of their kind do with mischevious or underconstumble or high-strikes for mischievous, understand, and hysterics. It is in fact a good old word, and corresponds rather to vasty and stilly by the side of vast and still; but it is practically obsolete, and, as its correctness robs it of its facetious capabilities, it might be allowed to rest in peace."

Thanks, I think I'll just stick with ginormous for now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who knew ID would be so hard?

I took this early-morning, clear-day photo of a red squirrel chowing down on bright red catkins on the shore of Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park. I decided it would behoove me to identify the particular tree that produces these striking deep red flowers, and have had the darnedest time doing it. I've even asked one of the Park's naturalists; she and her colleague think it may be a thin leafed alder. Another Park staffer thinks it is a cottonwood (type unknown). It does appear on Googling "red catkin" images that it is a member of the Populus family (laurels, cottonwoods, poplars, and aspens) but I can't nail it for certain and I guess no one else can absent a good view of the trunk/bark and leaves. If you know, please tell me!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The funny thing about getting

I have been with my beloved partner, KLK, for 23 years. KLK is eight years younger than I, and should be commensurately far behind me in the deterioration process we all more or less experience as we hit the start of our second half century.

Since he thought himself a 97-pound weakling in high school, and desired to emulate (or compete with, or prove himself to) his well-built, masculine father, he has exercised religiously since then. His routine throughout his adult life included running for his aerobic workout, and lifting free weights for strength and bulk. I always found his lean physique, gently curved and firm belly, and large upper arms to be endearingly attractive. But I never realized how I have taken his strength for granted. Yes, I surely did assume he would be there at the far end of whatever heavy object needed to be moved, held, or hefted, in spite of increasingly frequent visits to the orthopedist for assurance that this, that, or the other joint or muscle pain was not serious.

Recently (very recently), he celebrated his 50th birthday. Three weeks later, he completely detached one of two bicep tendons in his left arm. He'd been installing a window air conditioner in his grandma's window, but the snap suddenly came when he had nothing in his hands. He's had considerable pain, which he recognized from the moment it happened as serious, since. His doctor says the MRI he had a month ago for shoulder pain shows a partial rotator cuff tear, and the bicep destruction needs no high-tech diagnostics, as it is evident just looking at his arm when he bends his elbow where the muscle has rolled back on itself, leaving a cave in his upper arm where it used to be stretched taut by the tendon attached at the other end to his shoulder. The treatment is rest (he's not terribly good at that), gentle physical therapy, which he will do, and time. The best outcome would be complete resolution of the pain. He will never have that strength of youth again, though, and he cannot, at least in the foreseeable future, be the guy I call when our granite-topped (yes!) dining table needs moving.

In some ways, this has been more of a reality check for me even than comparing photos of my face from 30, 20,10 years ago with what I look like today in the mirror. It's true what they say, even as one pushes 60 there's no inner feeling of difference, though it's also true that memory and other weird things start to slip (I sometimes experience aphasia and entirely the wrong word - spoken, written, or typed - comes out; probably an early indicator of eventual dementia, but I'm not quite there yet).

Denial is a good thing, but it only gets you so far.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Grizzly in motion

This little video of the bear below was shot by KLK:
If you like it, it's worth watching in "high quality" mode at YouTube!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Missive from Yellowstone

For now, this trip report will have to be in the form of a photo only (I'm a little busy catching up back here in Chicago!)

This is a large, wild grizzly bear, probably a boar (male). Enjoy!