Posts Tagged ‘Dog’

Blessing of the Animals

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Today is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and in many places this is commemorated with an annual Blessing of the Animals in local churches. But Fluffy, Fido, and Goldie will have to wait until the weekend. Washington National Cathedral holds its ceremony on Sunday, October 7th, at 2:30 pm, on the west steps. In Woodley Park (our neighborhood) there is a choice between the front lawn of All Souls Episcopal Church on Saturday, October 6th at 3 pm, and St. Thomas Apostle at 10:30 am (where there will also be coffee and donuts for the people and treats for the animals). A Google search will undoubtedly reveal a blessing near you.

StFrancisBasta

Today is also the birthday of writer and humorist Roy Blount, Jr., author of several books suitable for this day (as well as many other books on a wide variety of subjects): I Am Puppy, Hear Me Yap: The Ages of Dog; I Am the Cat, Don’t Forget That: Feline Expressions; Am I Pig Enough for You Yet?: Voices of the Barnyard; and If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You: True Portraits of Dogs. He is also a contributor to Unleashed: Poems by Writers’ Dogs, a gift for anyone who loves both dogs and poetry.

For a sketch, a riddle, and a mini-bio of Blount, please see Language Lover.

The old year now away is fled

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

HappyNewYearLitPud

The old year now away is fled,
The new year it is entered;
Then let us all our sins downtread,
And joyfully all appear.
Let’s be merry be this holiday
And let us run with sport and play
Hang sorrow, let’s cast care away—
God send us a merry new year!
—English, 13th century

CakeBalloons2Christopher

Yahrzeit3Jacky


 

Rainy Day Joys (Right Side)

Friday, September 16th, 2011

DeepCreekWeekR

Rainy Day Joys (Left Side)

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

What a pleasure to have a mostly-rainy week whose only rhythms are three daily meals and walking the dog. (And many hands make light work.) Early walks, followed by a little recorder, or sketching, or a game of cards, or curling up with a book. With a pot of split pea soup simmering on the stove.

DeepCreekWeekL

CakeSprinklesAnne

CakeChocCurls2Eli

Fatty Tuesday

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

MardiGras2

For another Mardi Gras illustration, please see Two-Part Tuesday.

CakeYellowRoses2Willard



New Year’s Resolution: Random Acts

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

ResolutionGrouch

And sometimes it’s not so easy.

For another celebration of this day, please see Man of Many Words.

CakeRedRosesMatilda

CakeChrysanthYahrzeit2 Susan

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.


The Secret of the New Jersey Town

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

NancyDrew

This spring we visited Maplewood, New Jersey, where my husband grew up. In exploring his old haunts, like the town library, we discovered that Maplewood, New Jersey is the Home of Nancy Drew! (The library carries the entire collection.) Not to mention the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift! I don’t see how my husband could have lived there all those years without realizing he was sharing his home town with so many celebrities. (Actually, with the publisher of their series.) I think he was busy reading the Horatio Hornblower stories.

Well, with a daughter making her way through the Nancy Drew books, he now has total Nancy Drew Awareness. Here they are having some father-daughter-dog time. I’m fairly sure he’s awake. My husband, not the dog.

CakeRedRosesCarol


Look Before You Leap

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

WhiteBundle

Prince of Binomial Nomenclature: Part 2

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Continued from Prince of Binomial Nomenclature: Part 1, May 23rd

Linnaeus

Longing to expand his perspective, Linnaeus applied for and received a grant for a field expedition to Lapland, a rugged region above the Arctic Circle, where he expected to find many unrecorded species. Linnaeus spent five months exploring and studying rocks, plants, insects, animals, and people, and returned with thousands of specimens (no people though), filled with excitement. He returned to lecturing, and planned a series of books cataloguing species according to his new system.

Linnaeus DID actually long for a reproductive life of his own. He paid court to a young lady whose father, not taking a wandering botanist very seriously, insisted that Linnaeus wait three years and meanwhile establish some means of supporting a family. So Linnaeus went off to Holland, whose universities were better equipped than those of Sweden, to complete his medical degree. He also found work there managing and classifying the contents of Dutch zoological and botanical gardens.

THEN, in 1735, while still in Holland, he published his book Systema Naturae, which explained his concept of classification. Linnaeus grouped plants and animals into genera—groups whose members have something in common, usually structural or related to reproduction. (Linnaeus was the first to classify whales as mammals.) Then he subdivided each group into species. (His complete heirarchy, as you may recall from high school, is Kingdom, Class, Order, Genus, and Species.) And then he gave each member a two-part name based on these divisions, replacing all previously-used cumbersome lengthy descriptions. These two-part names were in Latin, which was, and still is, the universal language of science. I told you those Latin classes would come in handy.

Systema Naturae hit the botanical world like a bolt of lightning. The notion that PLANTS (seemingly so innocent!) had a Sexual Life, by which Linnaeus partly categorized them, was outrageous and horrifying to some naturalists, and Linnaeus was criticized for “nomenclatural wantonness.” But, despite objections on both theological and moral grounds, Linnaeus’ achievement launched him from obscurity to fame. A binomial concept had been proposed by Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1623 but was never widely used. When Linnaeus combined it with his new categorization methods, the idea spread rapidly. Here was a practical tool: reasonable, memorable, universally applicable. Not only could scientists from different countries know they were communicating about the same species; it was even easy for amateurs to use, and it sparked a more widespread interest in natural history. Such is the effect of nomenclatural wantonness.

Now back in Sweden as an established botany professor, Linnaeus was able to marry his fiancée, although he spent so much time away on expeditions that she might have been happier with one of her other suitors. He lectured, wrote many works on botany, corresponded with other naturalists, revised and expanded Systema Naturae many times throughout his life (it eventually reached 2,300 pages), led collecting expeditions, and inspired his students to travel throughout the world as botanical and zoological explorers. One circumnavigated the world with Captain Cook. Others went to North America, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, returning with specimens (or occasionally dying in a distant land; collecting could be dangerous work). Eventually he was knighted for his contributions to science and became Carl von Linné. So there, Mom and Dad.

Linnaeus himself gave scientific names to 4,200 animals and 7,700 plants, generally choosing names to reflect physical qualities, but occasionally to honor a friend or colleague, or, with a particularly ugly or toxic specimen, to insult someone who had annoyed him. Be wary of affronting a botanist. They are still lurking out there today…naming species.

With some modifications due to our modern understanding of evolution, Linnaeus’ system is still in use today, and pretty much taken for granted. But whenever you say Homo sapiens, or Boa constrictor, perhaps now you will think of Carolus Linnaeus, who made it possible, and you will celebrate his birthday every May 23rd. If you weren’t doing so already.

Throughout his life Linnaeus was a deeply religious fellow. He saw his work as clarifying for the world the underlying connections among living things and confirming the intelligence of a great Creator. Ironically, however, because his work made possible far greater understanding and communication among naturalists everywhere, it led to observations of surprising patterns and eventually to the shocking speculation by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace that species, instead of having been from their Day of Creation exactly as we know them now, had perhaps changed over time. Over a long, long time. We do not know the ultimate consequences of our life’s work.


Energy-Efficient Vehicle #1

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

In honor of Earth Day.

Deerhound