Had forgotten what decoupage was again … pop-up ad arose which I almost immediately closed. .recalled that my parents had attended an exhibition of Matisse cut-outs and had a poster from it hanging somewhere in the house, but could not recall where it was hung, could not recall if the word decoupage occurred anywhere on it. previous day an Italian customer had spoken to me in french: like a long blur of words, the edges of whose meanings I could sometimes barely glean. previous weekend, a customer who was perhaps feeling defensive about my (congenial) efforts to show familiarity with his language, announced he knew eight languages, and asked how many I knew. Then a customer, who perhaps felt I needed some cheering after this encounter, and who herself knew several languages, including Esperanto, told me about all those people who say they can speak in eight languages — that you can never understand them in even one.

Later, I looked up decolletage again, because it seemed that, contrary to what I’d said in the post I was editing, that was a word that existed, a word that existed to the extent it would have spot in the dictionary, “the” dictionary, this time using wiktionary, and I found that it was a word, and a word that I had at one time known, though never frequently used, which indicated the low neckline on a woman’s dress.

That was interesting: why might have birds taking off among leaves have suggested a low neckline… leafage? cleavage? (I have consulted wiktionary again: leafage is a word, meaning foliage. There is a citation from Kipling from 1932). Birds upon the dry leafage. It is spelled with an accent, which is perhaps the reason I failed to find it on first looking it up, or perhaps I never had looked it up, but had looked up decoller, and just assumed that because decoller was a word, decolletage must not be, decolletage was simply my misremembering of decollerColler is to stick and decoller to unstick — to unbutton? Birds the buttons of the ground, being removed, leaves parting to reveal the ground?

Looked up Diolkos having seen it mentioned by a British Thucydides scholar, surprised I hadn’t heard of it, a road, maybe a railway traversing the isthmus of Corinth, from the Corinthian Gulf to the Saronic, over which they’d carry boats, even ships, and cargo, 3.7 miles, so about the distance I walk to work. You could imagine it. This was, in human terms, a long time ago, two thousand or twenty five hundred years ago. Problem is why you wouldn’t hear more about when it seems like it would be a valuable choke point in Ancient times, comparable to the Suez Canal. Why don’t you read of the Athenians trying to hold it if the Spartans can just haul their ships across… of the Spartans trying to block it? So on. The Arcanians. Maybe of course because all the real action was simply up and down the Aegean coast (if that’s actually the case).

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