Category Archives: communication

can we speak in flowers? it will be easier for me to understand. -author unknown

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what is your favorite flower?

do you know what it’s saying?

 

THE HISTORY OF FLOWER MEANINGS – The Language of Flowers

The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. They even play a large role in William Shakespeare’s works. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism—and for good reason. Nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. The orange blossom, for instance, means chastity, purity, and loveliness, while the red chrysanthemum means “I love you.”

FLOWERY LANGUAGE OF THE VICTORIAN ERA

Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s. Nearly all Victorian homes had, alongside the Bible, guidebooks for deciphering the “language,” although definitions shifted depending on the source.

In the Victorian era, flowers were primarily used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. In a sort of silent dialogue, flowers could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A “yes” answer came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand; if the left hand was used, the answer was “no.”

Plants could also express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of  aloe. Similarly, if given a rose declaring “devotion” or an apple blossom showing “preference,” one might return to the suitor a yellow carnation to express “disdain.”

How flowers were presented and in what condition were important. If the flowers were given upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was traditionally meant. How the ribbon was tied said something, too: Tied to the left, the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the recipient. And, of course, a wilted bouquet delivered an obvious message!

More examples of plants and their associated human qualities during the Victorian era include bluebells and kindness, peonies and bashfulness, rosemary and remembrance, and tulips and passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have certainly changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas to the same species, but the fascination with “perfumed words” persists just the same.

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.

–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

 

text credits: Old Farmer’s Almanac, Catherine Boeckmann

art credit: Illustrated postcard. Printed in England/The Regent Publishing Co Ltd.-Dumbarton Oaks Archives

hidden life radio.

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listen….

Silent tree activity, like photosynthesis and the absorption and evaporation of water, produces a small voltage in the leaves. In a bid to encourage people to think more carefully about their local tree canopy, sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky has found a way to convert that tree activity into music.

By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of three local trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of all that invisible tree activity, assign a key and note range to the changes in that electric activity, and essentially turn the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal piece of ambient music.

You can check out the tree music yourself by listening to the Hidden Life Radio—Laposky’s art project—which aims to increase awareness of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s disappearing canopy by creating a musical “voice” for the trees.

The project features the musical sounds of three Cambridge trees: a honey locust, a red oak, and an 80-year-old copper beech tree, all located outside the Cambridge Public Library. Each tree has a solar-powered biodata sonification kit installed on one of its branches that measures the tree’s hidden activities and translates it into music.

According to WBUR, between 2009 and 2014, Cambridge was losing about 16.4 acres of canopy annually, which is a huge loss considering that tree canopies are crucial to cities,  cooling them down during the summer, reducing air pollutino, sucking up carbon, and providing mental health benefits.

Laposky hopes that people will tune into Hidden Life Radio and spend time listening to the trees whose music occurs in real-time and is affected by the weather. Some days they might be silent, especially when it hasn’t rained for several days and they’re dehydrated. The project will end in November, when the leaves will drop — a “natural cycle for the project to end,” Laposky says, “when there aren’t any leaves to connect to anymore.”

 

 “in a cool solitude of trees

where leaves and birds a music spin,

mind that was weary is at ease,

new rhythms in the soul begin.”

-william kean seymour

source credits: Kristin Toussaint, The Optimist Daily, WBUR Radio

plug in.

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my wall plug looks quite content

and has a story to tell. 

 

“it seemed to me at an early age that all human communication-

whether it’s tv, movies, books –

begins with somebody wanting to tell a story.

that need to tell, to plug into a universal socket,

is probably one of our grandest desires. and the need to hear stories,

to live lives other than our own for even the briefest moment,

is the key to the magic that was born in our bones.”

-robert r. mccammon

coffee talk.

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nothing like a bit of coffee talk between friends

to restore your balance and make for a great day. 

 

 

“as long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

-cassandra clare, City of Ashes

 

 

 

 

art credit: ryan conners, painting, midsommer 2019, cat art

eel good.

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"Don't let me be lon-eel-y tonight."

An Aquarium in Japan Wants You to FaceTime With Its Shy Eels

“Many people have turned to video chat as a way to continue socializing while in quarantine, and the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo, Japan, is asking you to help its eels do the same.

After the aquarium closed its doors to the public on March 1, its population of 300-odd spotted garden eels became increasingly bashful, burrowing into the sand whenever staff members were around. Although that isn’t abnormal behavior for wild garden eels, the ones in captivity at Sumida had adapted to the consistent, non-threatening presence of human visitors, and no longer tried to hide whenever someone approached.

This return to reticence is making it hard for employees to monitor their health, so they’ve devised a plan to reacclimate the tiny creatures to the existence of people: a three-day “face-showing festival” from Sunday, May 3, to Tuesday, May 5. During that time, the aquarium is requesting that people FaceTime the eels, waving or calmly calling out to them for up to 5 minutes before disconnecting.

Since they’ll be using FaceTime, you’ll need an iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device to call in. Staff members will be accepting calls on five tablets around the tanks, so there are five different email addresses you can try if you’d like to chat with the eels:

helpchin001@gmail.com
helpchin002@gmail.com
helpchin003@gmail.com
helpchin004@gmail.com
helpchin005@gmail.com

The lines will be open each day from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m JST, and because Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of EST, participants in the U.S. will technically need to call in the night before; i.e. from Saturday, May 2, to Monday, May 4, between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m EST.In other words, it’s the perfect time to read a very short bedtime story to a very small eel.

 

“i don’t mind eels. except as meals.”

-ogden nash

 

credits: ellen gutosky, mental floss

happy hour.

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i expect this to be our look on day 3.

we began a virtual family happy hour

on day 1

we all looked pretty good

some having worked online that day

some in self-quarantine

kids and spouses and pets in and out

on day 2

one of us was in a sports bra

one of us was wearing the same shirt from day 1

there was a spill

looking forward to day 3.

 

“why limit happy to an hour?”     

w.c. fields

 

 

image credit: the telegraph 

sci-fi or reality tv?

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 Rod Serling – working at home in Connecticut, 1956

anti-war and social justice activist, tv-writer, producer, narrator

and one of my idols. 

*In 1955, the miscarriage of justice in the Emmett Till case proved a galvanizing point in the Civil Rights Movement. Rod Serling, a 30-year-old rising star in a golden age of dramatic television, watched the events play out in the news. He believed firmly in the burgeoning medium’s power for social justice. “The writer’s role is to be a menacer of the public’s conscience,” Serling later said. “He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus the issues of his time.”

Soon after the trial concluded, Serling, riding off the success of his most well-received teleplay to date, felt compelled write a teleplay around the racism that led to Till’s murder. But the censorship that followed by advertisers and networks, fearful of blowback from white, Southern audiences, forced Serling to rethink his approach. His response, ultimately, was “The Twilight Zone,” the iconic sci-fi anthology series that spoke truth to the era’s social ills and tackled themes of prejudice, bigotry, nuclear fears, war, among so many others. At this point in history, the censors didn’t know what to make of this genre and he was free to deliver his message in a new way.

in honor of Rod Serling on national science fiction day,

who understood the power of the arts

as a way to communicate important messages. 

“there are weapons that are simply thoughts.

for the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy.”

-rod serling

 

credits: Getty Images, *Smithsonian Magazine

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