Iowa Wildflowers

During COVID-19 times in rural Iowa (March, April, May, June, and early July), I’ve spent much of my time exploring natural places. Here, I’ve really avoided other people as far too many still (in July!) consider the virus a government conspiracy, do not follow social-distancing and PPE guidelines, and where more than once I’ve seen masks that read “don’t tread on me.”

For the most part, I never saw a human soul on my hikes out in the woods, which felt safe and calm and interesting. Embracing my natural naturalist side (I’m heterozygous for ecologist), I learned as much as I could about the wildflowers here and have identified and documented 82 species from 20 locales, mostly in central Iowa, in a log and with photos. I’ve created an Iowa Wildflowers webpage to share my best photos for each species. There has also been a great deal of foraging for wild foods as well, which has been equally amazing and enjoyable, but also delicious. And then fossil and rockhounding, but that’s a whole other story…

Rue Anemonie (Anemonella thalictroides)
Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)
Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Though there are plenty of great state parks, I found Iowa state preserves to be particularly special and wild. The guide found here is a great resource. And I’ve got the pricker scrapes and a bit of wild turnip burn to prove it. I saw several grinnies (Iowa term for ground squirrels, but I suppose they might have been squinnies, (another specifically Des Moines-centered term) including the elegant thirteen-striped ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineate), one gorgeous Grey Tree Frog (Dryophytes versicolor) or Cope’s Grey Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis), which are only outwardly distinguishable by slight differences in their calls. Also, a tremendous rook of great blue herons and at least a dozen bald eagles, which this place is famous for. All in all, some great adventures!

Grey Tree Frog (Dryophytes versicolor) or Cope’s Grey Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

Found, just like this, at Hanging Rock Ridge Wildlife Preserve
Millgrove Preserve near Searsboro where I visited the most often
Amana Natura Trail: well-marked, but informationless…
Descending at Cedar Bluffs Natural Area, April 16, 2020
Descending at Cedar Bluffs Natural Area, May 20, 2020

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Tunisian Jewish Gazelle

This is a first or second-century AD Roman mosaic, “Ghazelle Mozaic in a Vine,” excavated in an ancient Tunisian Synagogue in Hammam Lif, Tunisia. It is now housed in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

And depicted below is my cross-stitched version, completed this past May, 2020.

And, for good measure, here is another mosaic gazelle from the same site.

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Porrectofrontus colwelli

I am honored to announce the formal description of my eponymous species of occlupanid, Porrectofrontus colwelli.

link included in description: Improved Occlupanid Curation System

More information available at The Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group : A Database of Synthetic Taxonomy

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Innervation of the Intrinsic Eye Appliance

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thread poems

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Excerpts from Call of the Wild by Jack London (1963)

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what is the mark travel leaves on us

is the mark travel
leaves on us
distance in
what stark departments
what meant in the moment
a breath, brief
imparts its portents


on your mark travel
thieves from us
dredging will stir
what sloshing will toss
over the brim
what we won’t notice
is lost

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hot cross bugs

Amidst the stress of job applications, I greatly enjoyed finishing my first cross-stitch project since the sixth grade. The pattern is slightly altered from Designer Cross Stitch Projects, with my own color choices. Probably about 20 hours of work.


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And she, also through emotion, made me perceive

Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī, 11th-12th century Persian mystic Islamic philosopher and theologian on the emotional communicatory power of sound.

Many a cooing pigeon in the early dawn, full of disquietude, has cried among the swaying branches;

She remembered a mate and a time of happiness, and she wept for sorrow and she aroused my sorrow.

So my weeping often disquieted her and her weeping often disquieted me.

And, in truth, I would sometimes soothe her yet not make her understand, and she would sometimes complain yet not make me understand;

But I, through emotion, made her perceive, and she also, through emotion, made me perceive.

From his chapter on Music and singing in Ihya ‘Ulum ad-Din (“The Revival of the Religious Sciences”). Translation to English by Duncan B. Macdonald

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on the honest labors of mimesis

“Now the strange thing about this silly if not desperate place between the read and the really made-up is that it appears to be where most of us spend our time as epistemically correct, socially created, and occasionally creative beings. We dissimulate. We act and have to act as if mischief were not afoot in the kingdom of the real and that all around the ground lay firm. That is what the public secret, the facticity of the social fact, being a social being, is all about. No matter how sophisticated we may be as to the constructed and arbitrary character of our practices, including our practices of representation, our practices of practices is one of actively forgetting such mischief each time we open our mouths to ask for something or to make a statement. Try to imagine what would happen if we didn’t in daily practice thus conspire to actively forget what Saussure called “the arbitrariness of the sign?” Our try the opposite experiment. Try to imagine living in a world whose signs were indeed “natural.”

Something nauseating looms here, and we are advised to beat a retreat to the unmentionable world of active forgetting where, pressed into mighty service by society, the mimetic faculty carries out its honest labor suturing nature to artifice and bringing sensuousness to sense by means of what was once called sympathetic magic, granting the copy the character and power of the original, the representation the power of the represented.”

—Michael Taussig, 1993, Mimesis and Alterity, a particular history of the senses (xvii-xviii)

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ki-ni-kə-ˈnik zine vol. V now available

You can download a copy by clicking here: *KINNIKINNICK V Electronic Zine

This volume, on the topic “eggs: their meaning and purpose,” features translations, a tale of musical forensics, songs and lyrics, mathematic drawing instructions, and works of visual art by Ben Greenberg, Alex Kruckman, Dina Maccabee, Alexander Marcus, and Rachel Colwell with highlights of previously published drawings, prose, paintings, advertisements, and musical scores by Hieronymus Bosch, Gielis Panhedelis, Thomas Crecquillon, Mohammad Ibn Mohammad al-Nafzewi, Sir Richard Burton, and The Western Druggist Magazine.

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These contributors explored a wide range of topics, including the shape and physical form of the egg, the anatomy of the chicken egg, the egg as depicted in art works and music, the egg in religious and folkloric origin myths, and the use of egg as an aphrodisiac. As always, it was a delight to work with these wonderful submissions and brilliant contributors.

I have printing several copies of Kinnikinnick vol. V in Berkeley so if you’re around and want a paper copy  just ask or drop me a comment here. If you are interested in printing and distributing copies in your own (physical) area, please let me know and I will send you a link so that you can download the print-able version. Unless they’ve been (un)lawfully seized, you can find copies of all of the Kinnikinnick zines in the University of California Berkeley Doe Library at the call number: PS3505 Co118 R118 MAIN

Please, these aren’t and will never be for sale. If reproduced, all authors must be cited.

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