Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Comet-hunting we will go...

..Finally, successful we will be.

After earlier bad experiences with cloudy skies while trying to view Comet McNaught, we finally got to see Comet 17P/Holmes last night in a clear sky, prominent to the naked eye in the constellation of Perseus.

It's time to brush the dust off my camera manual and see if there's a way of photographing something that's in broad view in the night sky, clearly visible from our front windows. I had little success yesterday and want to get my pictures before the dreaded clouds strike again.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Always Knew that...

Cold medicines were worse than useless.

Whenever my kids had horrid colds and hacking coughs that kept them awake and retching in the sink, oh the late night phone calls to the triage nurse, who surely had better things to do (genuine emergencies such as anaphylactic shock, poison ingestion and the like)! To her credit, she never hesitated to call back and after listening to the symptoms, give us useful hints like "Run the hot water for about 5 minutes and try standing in the steam with the baby". My husband would insist later that I should have asked her what cough syrup would help with the cough, and I always looked at him as though he had dropped in from outer space.

"Why do you think I called the triage nurse? The spoonful of XYZ Cough Formula didn't keep M (or S) from waking up coughing, did it?"

I nevertheless dutifully inquired about the doctor's recommendations for a suitable syrup to soothe the cough, and religiously dosed my kid with a teaspoonful of the stuff at bedtime.

When I grew older, and wiser, I took to treating sore throats and coughs with soothing mixes of honey in warm water, with the occasional dash of squeezed lime juice, or milk with a pinch of spice and sugar (My mother prefers pepper, my mother-in-law, turmeric).

Now, a few years past my patently unscientific conclusion of the inadequacy of cough syrups, the experts in the world of medicine have seen the light! Namely, that the multitudes of brightly colored boxes of soothing syrups don't really work for the under 6's and could even be dangerous, given that so many parents misuse these and overdose them with drugs formulated and tested on adults. All they are good for is filling the pockets of corporations that manufacture and sell millions of bottles worldwide as a panacea.

Never underestimate the perspicacity of Dr.Mom!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Great Pumpkini

The piece of pumpkin that I picked up at the local Indian grocery on a whim was a tasteful shade of pastel orange, filled with seeds that I scooped out and was about to discard, when inspiration struck. I took a couple of them, rinsed them out and plopped them into a hole between the lavender and the zucchini in my late spring vegetable garden.

Within a week I had one strong little seedling which started to put out humongous variegated (green with silver patches) leaves, some spreading out like mini-umbrellas 10 inches across over the neighboring lavender. The enterprising tendrils started grasping and choking the lavender and invading a rhododendron right next to it.

The plant grew and grew, with nary a sign of any flower, though the zucchini nearby bloomed prodigiously, as did the green peppers, the beans on a trellis, the tomatoes and cucumbers. I kept peeling away the tendrils of the pumpkin from just about every plant in the garden, trying to prevent it from overgrowing everything in that corner of the garden. I mused on whether it was time to pull the blasted thing, since it wasn't showing any signs of flowering."Patience", counselled my favorite gardening website "Pumpkins usually bloom only after 10 weeks in the ground".

So it was that I left the garden for 4 weeks while we went on a long vacation to India, having asked a neighbor to water the plants in my absence.

Back from our trip, I took a bleary-eyed peek at the garden and saw that the tomatoes, peppers and just about everything else had keeled over, and the pumpkin had triumphantly invaded everything.

Still jet-lagged,I stumbled outside armed with a pair of scissors and started hacking away at the pumpkin, pulling it back upon itself. Pumpkini-Houdini was under control again!

It had dozens of large yellow flowers and one solitary pumpkin, a variegated dark and pale green blob, that grew and grew over the next few weeks, as I grudgingly watered it, preferring to concentrate on the tomatoes and the peppers which were still going full swing.

The solitary pumpkin(round zucchini?) is still a mystery, as of writing. I found something similar called a 'green striped cushaw' on a search but an unable to get an exact match to this one.
Now I feel like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin every Halloween, only I got a Great Pumpkini instead of the hoped for pumpkin!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Coined and Purloined Words

I didn't give the title of the piece "Plumbophobia" too much thought, thinking to create a clever combination of plumbum, the Latin word for the element lead, and the current fear or phobia of lead in toys which has been receiving much prominence of late in the US media.

On a whim, I googled the word and discovered precisely 3 links to it. One was my post on Accidental Blogger, the next was a link to somebody's blog post about a plumbing nightmare overcome despite the poster's 'plumbophobia', and the third an obscure reference to a page in an 1874 published book along with other mysterious words that are hardly used these days 'rancomania' and 'siderophobia'(fear of stars).

The Wiktionary suggested that since there was no reference to it, I should enter it as a protologism. But my usage ( closer to convention than the other reference in the plumbing post), I feel, is a neologism.

And so, I give you, a contemporary definition for 'Plumbophobia'- [LL. plumbum - lead, Gr. phobos- fear](1874) - 1. fear of lead. 2. aversion to plumbing