Day 818: BMW

Email at the research station was undependable but Laetitia received one from Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours Headquarters, wherever that is, telling her that a group of American car buffs was interested in touring the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany.  She wrote back that she would conduct the tour when next she had a few hours off.

After she finished work on the appointed day, she went to her room, closed her eyes and, moments later, was in the library of the Emerald Victorian preparing the trip as the coffee finished brewing.  A short time later she was standing in the spacious and modern BMW Welt building as group members scattered throughout the main floor looking at new BMW models and riding in the new i3 electric car.  Afterwards, they crossed the street to the tower that houses the BMW Museum with antique automobiles, motorcycles and aircraft engines.  BMW purchased Rolls Royce about ten years ago so there was an exhibit with items from that company’s history as well.

BMW stands for Bayerische Moteren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works).  The company began life as a manufacturer of powerful, lightweight aircraft engines during World I and later expanded its product line into the motorcycles and automobiles for which it is best known today.  Laetitia made BMW the subject of the limerick of the day.

‘Tis the idol of many a dreamer
That motorcar some call the “Beamer”
That’s precise like a clock
No new kid on the block
‘Twas first built in the age of the steamer.

Day 817: Adélie 2

Laetitia was curious about how the Adélie Penguin got its name.  Internet connections at the research station were somewhat sporadic, but with persistence she was able to get the information she wanted.  Adélie d’Urville was the wife of French Admiral Jules Dumont d’Urville who explored the Antarctic in the early nineteenth century.  He was an expert linguist, botanist, and cartographer with many meritorious accomplishments in those fields.  A number of botanical species are named after him.  The French also named their Antarctic research station after him.  He was from an ancient line of French nobility and when he wed Adélie Pepin, a watchmaker’s daughter, his mother believed he had married beneath his station and strongly disapproved.  Indeed, Adélie’s mother-in-law (belle-mère in French) refused to meet her or her children.  Admiral d’Urville and his family died tragically in the Versailles train crash, but Adélie’s name lives on.  In addition to the namesake penquin species, the area in Antarctica where the French research station is located is called Adélie Land

To Adélie, let’s some champagne quaff
On her belle-mère, she got the last laugh
Though she wasn’t respected
And her children rejected
She’d a penguin named on her behalf.

Day 816: Adélie 1

Scientific research can be thrilling when the data has been analyzed and reveals something previously unknown to humankind.  However, collection of the data on which new findings are based is daily and repetitive and tends to be boring.  The highlight of Laetitia’s week at the research station was a visit to an island that had a colony of Adélie Penguins.  The birds were interesting and fun to watch.  The nesting area like those of all penguin colonies had a rank odor.  When she returned to the research station, Laetitia wrote down the day’s limerick and then began to work on the project that occupied her time when she wasn’t working.  Another of Uncle Milt’s famous parties was coming up and she needed at least one new song for it.

When she was a child visiting her grandmother, the books in the library fascinated her.  Especially interesting was a leather-bound illuminated edition of the Song of Songs.  How the Song of Songs, (also called Song of Solomon, orCanticles) came to be part of the Hebrew Bible and later the Old Testament is a bit of a mystery since it is not an overtly religious text.  Both Jewish and Christian scholars sometimes interpret it allegorically as representing God’s love for Israel or God’s love for the church, respectively, but phrases like “he shall lie all night twixt my breasts, the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, thy belly is like a heap of wheat,” and “thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins” don’t seem to support that interpretation.  When Laetitia asked her grandmother about the book she said she received it as a wedding gift from her parish priest, a bit of sanctioned erotica presumably given to encourage a marriage blessed with lots of children.  She decided to surprise her grandmother with a song called Canticles that she and her cousins would perform at Uncle Milt’s next party.

When you go to dine a deli
Don’t think of that penguin, Adélie
For these birds tend to swill
On fish, squid and small krill
And their colonies tend to be smelly.

Day 815: Akaroa, New Zealand

Jutting out into the ocean just south of Christchurch, New Zealand, is the Banks Peninsula, a circular mountainous landmass of volcanic origin.  When Captain Cook partially circumnavigated it, he failed to see its mainland connection and misnamed it Banks Island in honor of HMS Endeavor’s botanist.  Cook described it as having “a very broken uneven surface and more the appearance of barrenness than fertility.”  Akaroa Harbour, actually a fiord, extends to near the center of the peninsula.  On its shore, the French settled the village of Akaroa in 1840 in an attempt to establish a whaling station.  It was later taken over by the British, but local place names reflect French influences.  Laetitia and her group explored the village and then enjoyed a hike on one of the peninsula’s excellent trails and a harbor cruise that included excellent views of Hector’s Dolphins, Fur Seals, Little (Blue) Penguins.  There were also abundant seabirds including shags, the common name in New Zealand for what many would call cormorants.  Historically, cormorant and shag were common names for two closely related birds in Britain. The “shag” appellation refers to the bird’s crest.  British shags have crests; British cormorants do not.  However, the connection between crest and name is not consistent throughout the zoological family that contains these birds.  Laetitia preferred the term, “cormorant,” but decided to let the taxonomists worry about which name to use.   She found amusing the myriad of other meanings for the four-letter word, “shag.“ In addition to birds related to the cormorants, the word can refer to rough-cut pipe tobacco, carpet with thick pile, thick tangled hair, the act of chasing and catching fly balls in American baseball, a 1930s dance step, and a euphemism for a more harsh sounding four-letter word that means “have sexual intercourse with.”  The sexual slang meaning of “shag” received a great deal of media exposure in the Austin Powers film series of comic spy spoofs starring Michael Myers.  One was called The Spy Who Shagged Me and featured a CIA agemt called Felicity Shagwell.  The series is also credited with coining the words “shagalicious” and “shagadelic.”  The newly minted word meanings inspired Laetitia’s limerick.

Old Charlie proved he was a relic
When he used the quaint old term “angelic”
To refer to young Lexi
Who was very sexy
Instead of the word, shagadelic.