drisk, risk, and the idea of north
in no particular order

March 27, 2005

"Oceanography has always affected me queerly."  -- Jean Piatt

I dropped a dictionary on my foot the other day. On my little toe to be exact. I was not wearing shoes. Luckily it was an abridged dictionary. The proximate cause? Adventures in Birding: Confessions of a Lister by Jean Piatt, which used the words listed below in the first 25 pages. Some of them were familiar to me in other contexts, while others rang no bells.

Fog. mist, drizzle as in "A mizzling and rainy day with thick driving fog; a drizzling rain or "drisk" as one called it." Actually this should have been familiar to me from reading Thoreau, but I must not have absorbed it. English sure does have a lot of words for fog and drizzle but not nearly enough for freezing rain.
Like bragadoccio only more annoying.
Foolish fondness for or excessive submissiveness to one's wife. I bought the book because he used "uxoriousness" to describe the behavior of Wilson's phalarope. The usage is anthropomorphic to the nth degree, but funny in a nerdy sort of way.
Prefatory remarks or observations. So, like what would be wrong with calling it a preface?
1. Books printed before 1501. 2. Artifacts of an early period. I'd never seen it used other than in the book collecting sense. I think he actually meant birthplace.
I'll worship in the temple of birding any time.
A list of printing errors in a book along with their corrections. Another word I've never seen used outside of the printing context.
The act of changing into a different form or appearance (especially a fantastic or grotesque one); "the transmogrification of the prince into a porcupine" or the transmogrification of a common yellow-throat into a yellow-bellied flycatcher.
Password. Sort of. Actually, the dictionary says: "1. A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another. 2.a. A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword. 2.b. A commonplace saying or idea. 3. A custom or practice that betrays one as an outsider." I guess 2.b. comes the closest to a cross between a cliche and an old wives tale.

Then the book slid down between the mattress and the headboard so I gave up at page 26. At the same time Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree and one of the two postcards Ned sent me from Brazil not only fell between the mattress and the heaboard but also slipped through the slats underneath the mattress and became inaccessible unless I take the mattress off the bed. The dictionary, though abridged enough that it didn't break my toe, is big enough that it didn't fall into the gap but instead went over the side of the bed and caused a bookquake on the bedside table.

A month or more ago, I'd read in several journalblogs that the 50 book challenge is all the rage and entertained thoughts of joining in. Now at the end of March with only 9 books to my credit I'm pretty sure 50 in 2005 is out of reach. I should be at 12 or 13 at this point to have a chance. Also, I'm not sure re-reading Moby Dick for the zillionth time counts, so I'm really only at 8 on the year to date. No hope of making 50, especially if I keep reaching for the dictionary.

So last night I was curled up with Farley Mowat's No Man's River when Nancy asked if Farley Mowat had a web site. Instead of rolling over and mumbling about how I was too engrossed with migrating caribou to bother going into the other room to google him, I got up and googled. Apparently he doesn't. However, I found this Salon article, which challenged his credibility or veracity or whatever. So did he really see la Foule? Was he close enough to hear the caribou's stomach's rumbling? Now I'm filled with doubt. On hearing my distress, Nancy chimed in with things like "Isabella Bird never visited any place outside of Scotland and actually wrote all her books from bed after being paralyzed in a tragic horse riding incident at the age of 15" and "Du Fu never actually saw an army cart" and "Basho never walked north at all --- he had bunions" and so on and so forth... Does la Foule happen if no white people see it? How far north is north enough to be credible?

And if drilling for oil in ANWR (pro drilling site) changes the caribou's migration route and they all get pestered to death by bot flies does anybody care? I heard somebody on NPR say something about how the caribou have been migrating through ANWR (actual USFWS site for the Arctic NWR) for 2 million years. That made me laugh because the Republicans believe that the earth is only 6000 years old. Actually there are a fair number of Republicans who don't subscribe to the entire fundamentalist slate of beliefs and there are even evangelicals who believe that stewardship of the environment is a moral value. Whoa, my head is spinning now...

We now return you to our regular embedded life already in progress. Or already happening. Whether it's progress or backsliding is open to interpretation.

Today's Reading
No Man's River by Farley Mowat

This Year's Reading
2005 Booklist


Journal Index



Copyright © 2005, Janet I. Egan