Sunday, July 29, 2007

And why the sea is boiling hot

It was a rainy afternoon. I was knitting on the Baby Kurlinski sweater when Robert began to type quickly, in an excited sort of way.

"What are you doing?", I asked.

"Emailing this woman at the University of South Florida who wrote her dissertation on creation in Medieval Islam". He finished the sentence he was typing and became suddenly much more animated. "I couldn't believe it! Even THIS BOOK" (he waved an interlibrary loan book around in the air), "this book on alchemy, doesn't have ONE THING about humunculus in it! Not one! Not even in the chapter on Paracelsus!" He put the book down in a rather huffy manner and turned back to his email.

I stared out the window, torn between pretending I had understood what he'd just said, curiosity, and my desire to quash my know-it-all academic ego from time to time.

"Um, what?? What the hell is a humunculus?" Excellent. Look at me being Zen about my ego!

Robert stared in disbelief. "You don't know what a humunculus is? Little people? You create them?"


"Wow. I can't believe you've never heard of humunculus!" He shook his head, looked back at his email, then gestured toward the book again. "I did learn one thing from that book, though. Apparently the word "alcohal" used to refer to black eye paint, until Paracelsus, the alchemist, decided that what it really referred to were the spirits of wine. But no one else, in the whole world, thought it meant that. Paracelsus got his way, though."

Mmmmm. Wine.

1 comment:

Melissa said...


I found my way to your blog from a comment on Sara's... So glad to have found it! Love it! Your stories are great and those kids of yours are just too cute!