e-book Scratchers: The Secret Life of Pepper Lee

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See last chapter in my book The Ever Curious Gardener for the skinny on terroir. Read the complete post…. For information and registration deadline, see www. One problem with gardening, as I see it, is that much of it is about delayed gratification. Even a radish makes you wait 3 weeks after sowing the seed before you get to chomp on it.

With a pear tree, that wait is a few years. Which brings me to compost. Delayed gratification again. Composted, it feeds the soil life and, in turn, plants, and maintains soil tilth, that crumbly feel of a soil that holds on to moisture yet has plenty of space for air. I looked up into the tree that I had planted 20 years ago and saw what I had long feared: two major limbs with sparse, undersized leaves. Blight had finally got a toehold on the Colossal chestnut tree, which, for the past 15 years, has supplied us with all the chestnuts we could eat.

My first inclination, before even identifying chestnut blight as the culprit, was to lop off the two limbs. Once I got up close and personal with the tree, the tell-tale orange areas within cracks in the bark stared me in the face. There is no cure for chestnut blight. Removing infected wood does remove a source of inoculum to limit its spread.

In Europe, the disease has been limited by hypovirulence, a virus CHV1 that attacks the blight fungus. Some success has been …. The end of May and early June is such a glorious time of year in the garden, with plants thoroughly leafed out yet still showing the exuberance of spring growth. Yet even on the clearest, sunny day — and especially on that kind of day — a dark cloud hangs overhead. Hay fever, literally from hay that is, grasses; and nonliterally, from tree pollen.

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Every year the small white blossoms opening on multiflora roses signal that a sneeze season is on. Charles Darwin did some of his best work lying on his belly in a grassy meadow. Not daydreaming, but closely observing the lives and work of earthworms. All this lying about eventually lead to the publication of his final book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms.

Darwin calculated that earthworms brought 18 tons of nutrient-rich castings to the surface per acre per year, in so doing tilling and aerating the soil while rendering the nutrients more accessible for plant use. The last glacier, which receded about 12, years ago from the northern parts of the U.

Yes, I should be careful about what I hope for, but plants and people generally enjoy clear, blue, skies. For plants, those days mean plenty of light — actually, more than enough, but no harm done — for photosynthesis, which translates to better flavored fruits and vegetables, and conditions inimical to fungal diseases.

A plant only benefits under these conditions, of course, if it also has enough water at its roots. Terence Meaden suggests that legal suppression of 'cunt' constituted "a series of vicious witch hunts encouraged by an evil establishment wishing to suppress what amounted to apparent signs of Goddess beliefs" , and, indeed, there was a Japanese goddess Cunda, a Korean Goddess Quani the Tasmanian 'quani' means 'woman' , a Phoenician priestess Qudshu, a Sumerian priestess Quadasha, and, in India, a goddess known variously as Cunti-Devi, Cunti, Kun, Cunda, Kunda, Kundah, and Kunti, worshipped by the Kundas or Kuntahs.

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These names all indicate that 'cunt' and its ancient equivalents were used as titles of respect rather than as insults as does the Egyptian term, 'quefen-t', used by Ptah-Hotep when addressing a goddess. My own surname, Hunt, also has associations with 'cunt', as experienced by a character called Mike Hunt in a Leslie Thomas novel: "And if I 'ear any of you giving me nicknames - like My Cunt, Mike 'Unt, get it?

The Mike Hunt pun can be traced back as early as the 19th century: "The dance was followed up by an out-and-out song by Mike Hunt, whose name was called out in a way that must not be mentioned to ears polite" FLG, The C-word. The hardest word of them all" Mike Hunt is also the name of an American publishing house. The phrase is found in the Australian drinking toast Mich Hunt's Health That's all they are, really. A bunch of Colin Hunts" Charlie Catchpole, Smut has a comic strip called Kevin Hunt which puns on 'cunt'.

Stupid Hunts , a pun on 'stupid cunts', was used as a headline by Total Film magazine in FCUK and Cnut are both tabooed words with their respective middle letters reversed, the difference being that FCUK was a deliberate reference to 'fuck' whereas Cnut was an accidental reference to 'cunt'. This accidental reference may explain why Canute has now replaced Cnut, in an attempt to Anglicise and elongate the word and thus disguise its similarity to 'cunt'. French Connection initially insisted that the similarity between FCUK and 'fuck' was merely coincidental, though they soon dropped their false modesty by pressing charges against the rival Cnut Attitude clothing brand.

His name now prompts predictable double-entendres, such as this from Simon Carr: "John Prescott made King Canute gestures with his hands. Or, more accurately, King Cnut gestures I'm glad I'm not dyslexic " Private Eye punned on the name with its headline Silly Cnut in A Daily Star feature on the programme somewhat missed the point with the headline You Cnut Be Serious , using Cnut as a pun on 'cannot'.


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The euphemistic Spoonerism 'cunning stunts' 'stunning cunts' relies not on rhyme but on a reversal of the initial letters, a trick later imitated by Kenny Everett's "dangerously named" Mark Lewisohn, comedy character Cupid Stunt, a Spoonerism of 'Stupid Cunt'. Furthermore, 'Cunning Stunts' is also the name of an advertising agency and a female theatre group. Richard Christopher cites two further 'cunt' Spoonerisms both of which are rather sexist : "What's the difference between a magician and a chorus line?

In a final Spoonerism, Courtney Gibson recalls a conversation between the Mayor of Newcastle and the Queen Mother: the Mayor attempted to point out the 'punts and canoes' on the river, though this became "the colourful c[u]nts and panoes cruising the river", to which the Queen Mother replied: "what exactly is a panoe? William Shakespeare uses it in All's Well That Ends Well [a] : "From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit any question", and, more recently, 'thingstable' has become a recognised euphemism for 'constable', acknowledging the 'cunt' link.

The bawdy comedy film Carry On Constable is a pun on the c-word, with its phrase "silly constable" further emphasising the joke Gerald Thomas, Ned Ward has reversed the syllables of 'constable' to create "stablecunt" , and 'constable' has also been rendered as 'cunt stubble' and 'cony-fumble'. Another euphemism for 'cunt' is 'the big C': "the big "C". No, I'm not talking Cancer.

I'm talking Cunt" Anthony Petkovich, The phrase was used as the headline for an article about 'cunt' by Joan Smith The Big C , , however it is also the name of a shopping centre and garage in Thailand.

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Similar terms are 'red c' 'red cunt', a pun on 'Red Sea' and 'open C' 'open cunt'. Other words termed 'big C' include 'cancer' and 'cocaine', and 'cirrhosis'. Even 'C' in isolation has also been used as a substitute for 'cunt', as in "the Cs of Manchester United" Paul Wheeler, - a phrase which is seemingly innocuous yet also readily understood as an insult.

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A handy two-birds-with-one-stone euphemism for both 'fuck' and 'cunt' is the phrase 'effing and ceeing' thus, 'Woking FC' officially stands for 'Woking Football Club' though has also been extended to 'Woking Fucking Cunts'. Eva Mendes created the extraordinary "motherfuckingcuntwhorebitch" Chris Hewitt, , and Douglas Coupland created the shorter portmanteu word "Fuckshitpisscunt" No prizes for guessing what the first draft of that joke was!

It has also been intentionally mis-spelt as "cund" Viz , Ruth Wajnryb notes the print media's coy treatment of the word: "CUNT has retained its shock-and-horror capacity. A good test of this is how a word is treated in the media.

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Most print media still baulk at printing CUNT, resorting to the rather quaint convention of asterisk substitution" Using other characters, especially asterisks, to replace letters often vowels , serves to accentuate a word's obscenity, drawing attention to its unprintability. Though the word 'cunt' is printed by some British newspapers, it never appears in a large font size, and is therefore never used in headlines.

American newspapers are much more cautious about references to swear words in general, and 'cunt' in particular practically the only exception being The Village Voice , which used the headline Cunt Candy Factory for an article by Tristan Taormino about "disembodied replicas of porn stars' famous bits [moulded into] plaster cunts" in As we shall see later, not only is 'cunt' a taboo in America, but discussion of this taboo is also a taboo in itself. Thus, while a few British newspapers print 'cunt' in full, and all British newspapers gleefully use the phrase 'the c-word' to describe any word starting with that letter, American newspapers often refuse even to print 'the c-word', let alone printing 'cunt' itself.

Bertagnoli's article identified a phenomenon she termed "linguistic bleaching", suggesting that 'cunt' is changing its linguistic value through cultural repetition. She argues that, with the word's creeping presence on cable television and in general conversation, it is becoming an increasingly neutral term in casual speech. However, her article, and its by British standards, quite mild headline, were considered too strong by the Chicago Tribune editors, who decided at the last minute to remove it while the newspaper was actually being distributed.

The article had already been printed, so the section in which it appeared was physically removed from the newspaper, though some early copies could not be recalled and the newspaper's censorship of itself was viewed with both scorn and humour by American media commentators.

However, none of the commentators who criticised the Tribune actually used the word 'cunt' themselves. In a radio report about the scandal, for example, Bob Garfield referred to "a word beginning with 'c' and rhyming with 'shunt' [ Lisa Bertagnoli herself, the author of the suppressed article, sees the word as "something vile and hurtful, to be reclaimed", and maintains that women of her generation are not offended by the word: "I say that to my friends; I refer to a part of my body by that word.

No big deal". By contrast, she admits that the typical response from older women is somewhat less accepting: "oh, my God. Never use that word. Vile, repulsive. I would faint if somebody said it to me". An affectionately disguised variant of 'cunt' is 'cunny', whose variants include 'cunnie', 'cunni', 'cunnyng', 'cunicle', 'conny', 'coney', 'conney', 'conie', and 'cunnikin'. Bunny Rogers wrote a poetry collection titled Cunny Poem in William Shakespeare hinted at this second meaning in Love's Labour's Lost , juxtaposing 'incony' with 'prick' 'penis' : "Let the mark have a prick in't [ Related are 'conyger' meaning 'warren' and also spelt 'conynger', from the Middle English 'conygere' , the Anglo-Latin 'coningera' and 'conigera', and the Latin 'cunicularium'.

The word also appears in Old French, as 'conniniere', 'coniniere', 'coniliere', and 'connilliere'.

Scratchers: The Secret Life of Pepper Lee

Perhaps in an effort to minimise the scurrilous impact of 'cunny', 'cony' was phased out of common usage and the meaning of 'rabbit' was extended to animals both young and old. Spanish and French provide strikingly similar examples: the French 'connil' 'rabbit' was phased out due to its proximity to 'con' 'cunt' , and replaced with the alternative 'lapin'. The Spanish 'conejo' means both 'rabbit' and 'cunt', and the similar Spanish term 'conejita' 'bunny girl' provides another link between the two elements.