A couple of weeks ago, I found a freshly molted cicada on our front porch. A few days later, we encountered the one pictured above emerging from the shell. The bug was so still that we figured it might actually have baked in the sun and died. I meant to check back the next day to learn about its fate, but I forgot, and now I suppose it’ll remain a mystery for the ages.

Last Monday, I happened to be in downtown Knoxville and ran across this neat scene. It’s apparently an annual occurrence in which folk from the community bring their sunflowers and weave them into a big sunflowerish circle in one of the little parks. It was really lovely. We used to have a few sunflowers growing off the corner of our back deck, and they tended to draw goldfinches into our yard, and they were lovely.



While walking the kids to the bus stop this morning, I found this cicada clinging to our house. I’ve never found one freshly molted before. It’s been a while since I remember finding a live one, in fact. This took me back to my childhood, when I would find them quite frequently in my neighborhood, often on our driveway, where they would get turned over onto their backs and buzz their wings rapidly to try to flip back over. It’s a very distinctive sound that I hadn’t thought of in many years but that I still have a vivid sensory memory of. This guy’s still pretty green. I suppose that’s because he’s freshly molted; I remember them as being much darker.

I had heard Iggy’s song Fancy on the radio many times, but not until Weird Al’s hilarious parody did the association between the song and children’s book character Fancy Nancy come to mind. I here offer a rendering of the late-breaking juxtaposition for those who may not be familiar with one or the other of its constituents.

Fancy Nancy Do Dat, Dat's Who!

I had cause last night to consider the best way to pluralize the possessive form of “fish.” It’s tricky because “fish” is both the singular and the plural, and since our apostrophe rule for plurals is that if there’s an irregular plural form, you add the apostrophe-s as you would for the singular, the possessive for the singular and the plural forms both for “fish” would be “fish’s” (just as for “child” it’s “children’s”). Well that leaves room for ambiguity, doesn’t it? Consider this sentence:

The fish’s lips were beautiful.

Are we talking about one fish here or two (red fish? blue?)?

Of course, sometimes we see the plural form “fishes,” as when we’re talking about loaves and fishes. But it turns out that in current, non-idiomatic English usage, it’s not the preferred form. Usage expert Bryan A. Garner explains it all nicely in his Garner’s Modern American Usage, which is one of my favorite books (not merely one of my favorite reference books):

The Evanses wrote in 1957 that the plural fish is of recent vintage and opined that “the life expectancy of a new irregular plural, such as fish, is not very long.” But the OED cites fish as the plural form as long ago as 1300. Today, fish is the firmly established plural. Fishes appears rarely, at least outside ichthyology. When it does appear, it usually refers to more than one species.

Fish does take the regular -es ending to form the plural possessive — e.g.: “A Yozuri Crystal Minnow seems to be the fishes’ preference.” David Sikes, “Island Time,” Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 4 Aug. 2002, at B14. And the plural form fishes persists in idioms such as The Godfather‘s “Luca Brazi sleeps with the fishes,” as well as the biblical allusion “loaves and fishes.”

Quinoa Tabouli

I’ve made tabouli a few times, both from scratch and from a mix, but I’ve always used bulgur for the grain. This weekend, a coworker posted a photo of tabouli made with quinoa, and I thought I’d give it a try. I found this recipe and whipped up a batch yesterday with three varieties of local tomatoes (an orange, a red/oranged stripey one, and a green/purple one) to add some more color. This tabouli also has carrots in it, which I had never tried in tabouli but which is a good way to get a veggie that I don’t usually go out of my way to eat. Confronted with the options of regular old white quinoa, red quinoa, or a three-color mix, I opted, at my daughter’s urging, to get the mix. This stuff is delicious and promises to get even better over the next few days.


We spent some time building with LEGO as a family this afternoon. LEGO? LEGOs? How you pluralize seems to depend on who you ask. A Danish fellow invented the blocks. Many years ago, I listened to a Danish or Swedish or Somethingish fellow insist that they were called LEGO (no s), so the pedant in me wants to go with that pronunciation. But whatever your pleasure.

When my son was just about three years old, my wife captured several audio clips of him saying and singing cute things. Here he prattles on about haircuts, which remain a sore subject for him still today.


When my son was just about three years old, my wife captured several audio clips of him saying and singing cute things. In three of these clips, he declaims his love for his parents. In another, he says hi to his aunt.