(Wordless Wednesday) “I hear the feature exhibit is a cafeteria plate of fries and gravy.”

December 22, 2010

Hint:  If you don’t get it, check the rollover tag for a clue.


September 10, 2010

Here are two plants, and their fruit, from my herb garden.

Specimen #1 clears the brick edging by a few inches.

Specimen #2 reaches to my waist.

Specimen #1 has fruit with light yellow, papery husks. Specimen #2’s fruit have soft green husks with purple stripes.

Open the husks. Are they the same? Nope. Small, yellow fruit with dry skin versus large, green fruit with sticky coating.

Here they are all nudie. The little one is a ground cherry — ‘Aunt Molly’s’ ground cherry, to be exact. The big one is a tomatillo.

So why did I tell E.g.’s cousin, when we had a family party chez nous two weeks ago, that both plants were ground cherries?

Because I thought they were.

And why on earth would I think that, when the plants are so obviously different?

Because they came from the same seed packet, a business-card-sized manilla envelope with a sticker that says “Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries” on it, from a small mail-order company in Quebec. Not surprisingly, this company also sells tomatillo seeds.

Does Turtle believe everything she reads? Maybe sometimes.

It took some ‘net surfing before I was sure about the tomatillos. Surprised? Yep. Feeling foolish? Yepper.

But that’s okay; the one we’ve eaten so far made a tasty addition to our movie night refried-bean dip.

A Spelling Lesson From the Bay City Rollers

April 1, 2009


Champlain points out the river.


S-A   I-N-T   J-O-H   N!

S-A   I-N-T   J-O-H   N!

S-s-s Saint John New BrunsWICK!!! Saint John New BrunsWICK!!!

S-A   I-N-T   J-O-H   N!

S-A   I-N-T   J-O-H   N!

[Need clarification? Watch the original here. ]

Okay, here’s the scoop. When the great French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, landed here on a sunny June day in 1604, he named the river that flowed into the Bay of Fundy la rivière Saint-Jean, because it happened to be the feast day of Saint John the Baptist.

Sometime later, the English settlers here had other names for their spots on either side of the river, but finally in 1786 they decided on the collective name of Saint John, using the name of the river to represent both settlements. Saint John became the first incorporated city in North America.

Life went on. Sometimes people spelled it “Saint John”, and at other times “St. John”. Of course, being named after as popular a guy as Jesus’ first cousin and the patron saint of France, the New Brunswick town competed with Saint John, Quebec and St. John’s, Newfoundland for distinctiveness. In the early twentieth century, a movement was afoot to change this city’s name back to Parrtown, the earlier moniker for the community on the east side of the river.

I don’t know about you, but personally, if I were a west-sider, my nose would be out of joint at such a thought.

Possibly the city council and the newspaper saw the situation in a similar light.

In March of 1925, the Telegraph-Journal suggested that the road to distinction lay in consistently spelling the city’s name without abbreviation: “Saint John”. The newspaper further announced that it would itself do so, effective immediately. A mere six weeks later, the city council made it official. The river might be the “St. John”, but the city’s name would always be spelled out fully.

So there ya go.

"Three blocks straight ahead, you can't miss it"
Full statue, with E.g. and Sonny Boy, in Queen Square.

I will, in parentheses, add that in local publications it is acceptable to write “SJ”. But no “St. John”, please.

And don’t worry; it took numerous corrections on the part of E.g. before I got this fact drilled into my own head. I may be Canadian, but I’m definitely “from away”.

Thanks are due to this page for the facts behind the spelling of Saint John.

Turtle Tops

March 3, 2009

It’s meme time!

Bobbie has tagged me for a meme. The game is to enter a string of words — preferably not a post title, and the shorter the string the better — into the Google search engine, in hopes of turning up one’s own blog in the very first spot.

That was a long sentence. Once more,

  1. Think of unusual or creative phrases you’ve used in your blog — the fewer words, the better.
  2. Alternately, think of several seemingly unrelated words that are contained in one of your blog entries.
  3. Google the group of words.
  4. See if your blog turns up at the top of the list.

Bobbie came up with a nice list of twelve phrases. Even before I’d read it through, I was hoping — and satisfied — to see that “exotic underwater nudies” was on her list. (A delightful post, by the way, even if it has nothing to do with sordid Saturday nights.)

So I hied myself over to Google. And the first phrase I entered, as a test, was one from Livingisdetail’s blog: “paddock thong“. Success! The top two Google items were entries from One Little Detail. (Livingisdetail’s “paddock thong” post, a humourous look at search terms, deserves to be read too.)

In order to answer this meme’s challenge, I decided to go through my Limericks of the Turtle page and pull out short phrases. I succeeded in finding four three-word strings and three two-word strings that will put my blog at the top of Google’s list. Some of you may remember supplying the word around which I built some of these poems. Here are the top Turtle blog turner-uppers:

  • moth mouse smote
  • mousies not chickies
  • wee gamine Laura
  • young puffin perched
  • food’ll reveal
  • smiled beakily
  • swelly marm’lade.


Now it’s your turn! I call on S. Le, Almostgotit, and Lolarusa to try the meme. If anyone else does as well, I’d be happy to hear from you in this entry’s comment section.

That’s all for now. Time to curl up with the dogs and my latest French novel (and those of you familiar with Victorian literature would know that  “French novel” was once as ambiguously risqué a phrase as “paddock thong” or “exotic underwater nudie”) .

Turtle Channels Sanskrit

February 22, 2009

Well, no. Fact is, we have only 26 letters to transcribe every word in any language ever written — Sanskrit, for example, has a much more sensible 53 — so the probability of finding a word to match a combination of English vowels and consonants is pret-ty high. Besides, I thought it was Hebrew.

Lemme explain. I awoke from a dream this morning, in which I was discussing Judaism with a Jewish woman about my age. We were in her rec room. I was sitting on the rust-coloured shag carpeting beside a coffee-table-sized memorial, on which sat a cylindrical, pewter urn with the letters CHAYAM inscribed around the top. I tried to remember such a word from my Biblical Hebrew course, but couldn’t come up with one.

On awaking, I decided the word was meant to be “chaim”, which means “life”. You may recall Tevye and his neighbour with their wine glasses, toasting each other with the words, “L’chaim! To life!” in Fiddler On the Roof.

But I decided to google the letters I’d seen anyway, since I so rarely manage to read anything in dreams. Is there a Hebrew word transcribed this way?

Nope; but there’s a Sanskrit one. According to Vedabase ,

chāyām means: shelter; darkness; shade.

ańghri-chāyām means: the shade of His feet.

In some ways, chaim and chāyām are in opposition: life, celebration, darkness, shade. But in both terms there is peace, gratitude, acknowledgment of the Most High. And Turtle, always one for wordplay, thinks that’s kinda nifty.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden hankering for Kosher butter chicken.

License Plate of the Vanities

December 18, 2008

Standard issue: four letters and three letters separated by a crown. Plate is updated annually with a sticker in top right corner.

A few years back, Ontario opened up to its citizens the possibility of spending even more money for government services, with vanity plates for cars.

If you’re unsure of the concept, a vanity plate is a personalized license plate. Here in Ontario, you can choose to decorate it with one of over forty graphics — the Toronto Maple Leafs, the SPCA, and the Rotary Club are a few examples — or you can choose your own sequence of between two and eight letters or numbers. As long as your sequence is unique, you’re permitted to pay for it.

Some motorists like to monogram their plates. A married couple by the name of Sandy Jones and Kim Robertson, for example, might spring for:

Others may give hints about their occupation, describe their personality, spell out their name, or converse with the drivers around them. Some licenses are harder to decipher than others; solving their puzzles helps to while away travel time.

Here are a few I’ve seen lately. I like how so many of them answer questions.

Who owns this car?


What kind of car is that?

  • INIW
  • ALEC

Tell me something about your job.

  • CHEF 1
  • RAZOR 33

How long are you planning to work?


How would you describe yourself?

  • QRXZ
  • M84EVR
  • FN 2 BME

Have you anything to say?

  • RU SXY 2
  • CUQT
  • GO 2 GO

How would you like your license plate to read?

Emphasis Added

November 4, 2008

It’s election day in the States. Over at Urban Observation, Urban Thought asks: “Why do people keep saying that Barack Obama is ‘seeking to become the first black president in U.S. history’?”

If Obama wins the larger share of the votes today, he will become the first black American President. However, Urban Thought points out, “Do you really think he is saying in his head, ‘I want to be the first black President’?”

Well — probably not. While the prospect of a black president — or a woman president if it were Hillary Clinton — is exciting, it is not the correct title. If elected, Obama or Clinton would both be the same thing: President.

I would also posit that Sir Ian McKellen did not become a gay actor, nor Louis Armstrong a black musician, nor Margaret Atwood a woman writer, nor Audre Lorde a gay, black, woman poet. They became, respectively, an actor, a musician, a novelist, and a poet.

And my point is…?

My point is, no one bothers to state that Sir Ian McKellen is a white actor, or that Louis Armstrong is a male musician, or that Margaret Atwood is a straight novelist, or that Audre Lorde is an anglophone poet.

White is expected. (In Look Who’s Coming to Dinner, Sidney Poitier was not expected.) Male is normal. (In an episode of “Petticoat Junction”, Uncle Joe assumes that the “MD” on a guest’s bag means she’s from Maryland.) Straight is the orientation of the vast majority (except in that delicious high-school auditorium scene near the end of the movie In and Out) . English is the language spoken the world over. (Apparently a politician in some English-speaking country once said, “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us!”).

It is good to know of successful people who don’t fit the usual model. It is good to be informed of their differences, in order to appreciate the extra struggles they had to undergo, and to rejoice with them. What isn’t good is to insist on always naming the unusual attribute, until it becomes part of the job title. Because when that happens, these successful people are no longer on the same playing field as those who fit all the criteria. They are set apart by the qualifier, often with the implication that they are on a lower rung. 

Think of it. The term “lady author” evokes someone who pens bad verses while sipping her morning tea. A “male nurse” must also be a substandard fellow, because we all know that boys, the superior sex, are doctors, and girls, the inferior sex, are nurses.

Et cetera.

It’s getting late. By the time many of you read this entry, the States will already have decided the next president. It may or may not be the man who, as the press claims, has “sought to become America’s first black president.” And maybe a few years from now, E.g. and I will be celebrating some phenomenon called a “same-sex blessing,” while Urban Thought and his fiancée will be planning their “black wedding.”

Now do you see my point?