Bismillāh Lion Cross-Stitch

I have finally completed my recent multi-month cross-stitch piece, the Bismillāh in the form of a lion. There doesn’t appear to be much known about the original ink rendering besides that it was inscribed by an unknown Sufi alide in Iran in the sixteenth century (Khan 2000). The Bismillāh is a very important Islamic phrase that opens the Qur’an: بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ (bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm) meaning “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” This project kept me busy during the coldest and darkest days of the COVID pandemic winter of 2020. Thanks to pic2pat for their free online pattern-making tools.

Reference: Khan, Gabriel Mandel. 2000. Arabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations. Trans. from Italian. Abbeville Press Publishers: New York.

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

It can be safely viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

After a three-year lull, I present to you the sixth volume of kinnikinnick, a zine on the topic of “imaginary places.” This volume features fiction and non fiction, essays, poetry, collages, photographs, literary excerpts, hand-drawn maps, and an accompanying free online playlist. Amidst the ever-present global pandemic I hope this zine will offer a little relief. Many thanks to our contributors without whom there would be no zine to speak of: Robin Chazdon, Neil Cole-Filipiak, Robert Colwell, Mari Hsu, Alexander Marcus, Sejal Sutaria, Mouzhan Yousefi, and myself. Feel free to share widely. As always, write to if you’d like to get involved or if you have an idea for a future topic. I plan to put out a call for a new issue sometime this spring or summer (2021).

Contributors should be receiving their physical copies by mail in the coming days; let me know if it does not arrive. 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.

Kinnikinnick is not and will never be for sale. If reproduced, all authors must be cited.

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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

2018-11-04 15-222018-10-26 19

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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