Tag Archives: language

See the colors till the end.

It’s been a big week for me so far, because I took down and put away all of my Christmas decorations all by myself, including the faux tree. I feel incredibly lightened up by having that task out of the way. For several weeks the tree and its lights burning all day and night cheered me up as I was recovering from sickness and deep winter, but one day the top third was not lit anymore. I unplugged it, and after that, it became a chore needing to be done, which is possibly the opposite of cheery, until one gets into it, at which point it might become energizing and satisfying.

When the family was together at Christmas, evidently someone added a most natural ornament without asking me, because I was surprised to find among the branches a dried pansy, and it was a welcome late gift, bringing as it did memories of that rich couple of weeks.

I paid a man to level my fountain and clean it, and I watched as he lifted off the top and emptied the pipes of so much green stuff! I realize now that every time over the last four years that I have let the algae get away from me, by not putting the drops in every week, all the cleaning out I have done trying to remedy the situation has been woefully superficial, even if it did take a long time. I must become more diligent. When he finished he asked me how fast I wanted the flow to be. I said “low” and he set it so, but it seems fuller and faster than ever.

This year when I renew my driver’s license I have to take the written test. I started on that too late to get an appointment at the DMV, so I need to pick a day and wait in line. I’ve decided this will be the week for that as well. I got the handbook and have been taking practice tests online, and I’ll be ready. But I’m very annoyed by all the questions about the penalties for breaking laws. It doesn’t say anything about my driving skills if I can’t remember how many months or years I might be jailed for evading the police or for drunk driving, first or second offense, etc.

A few days ago when I was musing about my lack of yellow clothing, I did remember a scarf that I inherited that has some yellow in it. Have you ever seen anything like this?

It shows a hundred years of American soldiers and sub-groups of armies, starting with George Washington at top left. I can’t think of a proper occasion to which I might wear it, even if I were a militaristic woman.

 

 

 

Maybe Glad ancestors were among the American fighting men in that century, I don’t know. But I do know that one branch of my late husband’s people came from Ryegate, Vermont, and are mentioned in this book, first published in 1913. This morning my eldest, Pearl, asked me if I had a copy, and what do you know, I had two on a high shelf. I packed them up and sent them to Wisconsin so she can explore further what are her people, too.

This is turning out to be a gathering of historic tidbits; here is an article about the word till. Did you think maybe it should be ’til? Not at all. ’til is a modern invention. I was oddly happy to know this fact. You can learn about the history of till here at Daily Writing Tips.

THE COLOR BLUE has always been my favorite, so when Leila shared this link about its history on her blog Like Mother, Like Daughter I went straight there and drank in all the blues – and I feel so rich, not being colorblind. How could there be new blues being invented? Of course, there are infinite blues, but whether we can find a dye or an ink that paints them must be the question. Here is just one recent blue, from the article, named International Klein Blue:As much as I love blue, I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my otherwise tinted Iceland poppies in the front garden. They have been waving to the neighbors who walk past, and to me when I come home from my errands. And most of them are the color that I love in my garden especially: orange.

Oh, but thinking about the garden reminds me that I have learned enough Spanish that I was able to text to my gardener this week: “Puede trabajar aquí este fin de semana?” (Can you work here this weekend?) And he came even sooner. 🙂

 

Maui Diary 11 – Aloha Oe

On Maui we stayed in the town of Kihei, where 50% of the permanent residents of the island live. This plebian environment was more our style than the resort life we observed just south on the beaches next to Wailea’s villas and grand hotels. Just strolling on the beach path that winds past their perfectly groomed and gorgeous grounds, I became a little self-conscious about my commoner’s clothes every time we passed the hotel guests.

Staying in a condo rather than a hotel also made for a relaxing and homey existence, at least for people like us who like to set up housekeeping for ourselves and actually prefer to eat breakfast “at home.” We bought sweet Maui Gold pineapples at Safeway and ate of them in the morning while I was still in my nightgown. Each of us had one day that we were under the weather, and we could just laze about our apartment, and grill steaks or fish for dinner on the barbeque outside.

 

Our place had a view right out to the beach, and one evening I sat in front of this scene and counted 27 palm trees within my range of vision. The stars came out and were as bright as in the high mountains; I couldn’t get over how well I could see without my glasses Orion’s belt and even his sword.

I wouldn’t complain if someone gave me a week at a resort and I had to eat at its restaurants, but as long as I’m paying, I’d just as soon stay in a less expensive condo like the one we were blessed with and enjoy the food at the many places the locals also enjoy.

The Coconuts Cafe with its deservedly famous fish tacos is a fine example. The coleslaw, normally in the tortilla but which I had on the side, was made with a refreshing coconut milk dressing that I’d love to try to replicate.

Mr. Glad has for some time enjoyed Hawaiian guitar music, so we had looked forward to being in Hawaii and hearing some good examples. One evening we went out for some live sounds that turned out to be not that great and not traditional, but the luau on our last night was fulfilling and very fun in its historically accurate dancing and music.

Over the radio in our rental car we heard a new-to-us contemporary Hawaiian sound that was maybe not traditional musically, but in the easy-listening messages conveyed it was all about loving the motherland and listening to the forefathers who will teach you how to be honorable Hawaiians.

Shirt Mr. Glad gave me for my birthday

This harkening to cultural roots and the ancestors generates a desire on the part of parents to put their young children into classes where they will learn the Hawaiian tongue. It seems that though Hawaiian names and phrases are floating through the balmy air everywhere, currently very few people actually have any real ability to communicate in that language. I wonder if that will change, or if the children force-fed this artifact will respond with disdain as have the Irish I know who were made to study Gaelic in school.

Besides the reverence for the land and the history, we noticed in the popular and melodic songs we heard a phrase repeated in nearly every one: ka puana. Eventually we were able to investigate and discover that this means something like “It’s fun to be with you.” It often went along with words about Having a Good Time, which easygoing theme was one of the unique scents in Mauian atmosphere.

How would it be, we mused, to live as a permanent resident in this place, where one might reasonably believe that even people with jobs and families display the Hang Loose symbol and attitude? It’s almost certain that we will never know the answer, even if we sojourn there again.

Ages ago, at my 8th grade graduation, our school chorus sang an English version of the Hawaiian tune “Aloha Oe,” (“Farewell to Thee”) and it made a big impression on me, so that I can still remember some of the words in our translation, and find that they don’t exactly match anything to be found online.

At least I did find a nice guitar rendition of the tune (just below), with lovely pictures, to wrap up my Maui Diary. As you will guess, many of the pictures are of scenes I didn’t see, but they convey something of the Hawaiian heritage and natural beauty.

I won’t end with that video that someone else put together, because I do have one of my own making! It was recorded on a windy afternoon on the beach by our condo, so the only sound in the movie is that of the tradewinds. It’s a 360° view, starting on the beach, and taking in a row of condominiums. Ours was the flat-roofed one somewhat in the middle.

And at the very bottom of the page, the refrain of the song as I remember singing it. Good-bye, Maui! Until we meet again….

Aloha Oe, Aloha Oe,
The winds will carry back my sad refrain;
One fond embrace before we say good-bye,
Until we meet again.

Love and Language

Over my car’s radio yesterday morning I caught the end of an interview with an author talking about her husband’s aphasia and recovery from it. As I drove into the Target parking lot the women were still talking, and I hadn’t heard any names of books or people yet, so I sat in the car a little longer, digging around in my purse to find a tiny black notebook to write in.

Eventually the host mentioned that we were listening to Diane Ackerman talking about her book 100 Names for Love, which tells the story of her husband Paul West’s recovery from a stroke, and the ways in which she was able to help him in the process, though their relationship was challenged and changed. The 100 names were the new pet names he came up with for his wife, when he could not recover the old ones. One of them that she mentioned was My Bucket of Hair. (She has a good head of it.) Many of the nicknames were as unusual and poetic, like My Remains of the Day, and My Residue of the Night.

I have tried reading Ackerman before, and there is too much about her prose and perspective that makes her tedious, but the things she said on the radio about love and care-giving and language recovery made me think I really wanted to read this particular book. I came home and put it on my Amazon list, but then I went on to read about Paul West, and found an excerpt online from the book he himself wrote, The Shadow Factory.

In the interview Ackerman had shared that, when he was depressed about not being able to write — and writing had been his profession — she suggested that he write a book about his experience, and he agreed to dictate to her as he labored to find each word and phrase in the rubble that was his brain. The following day he would rework the text, and the whole project became a huge part of his rehabilitation both emotionally and mentally.

I heard Ackerman describe her husband’s book as a “free associative dream version” of how it felt to have a stroke and to heal from it. Those words gave me the impression of it as the type of writing that I find hard to endure. But now that I’ve read this small part, I’m not sure I agree with her description. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article I link to:

There was a bewildering assortment of false starts and incomplete sentences for the mind only. I no sooner thought of something to say to myself than I forgot it, and I was lucky to get beyond the second or third imagined word. Of course no one in his right mind overheard any of this, the dumb speaking to the silent in a reverse image, so no one was upset. But if this happens 50 or 60 times, one wants a little revenge of some sort. Of course, one was in all probability speaking no kind of written English, so this meant that whatever you said was relevant and you could not say anything irrelevant.

Reading, at which I used to be no slouch, now gave me the most incredible, disheveled experiences of my print-bound life. Now print jigged toward me, then it hung back. The one part of it that was readable swam backward or forward to render the reading experience at best incomplete, or subject to the vilest, maddest vagaries of a proofreader’s nightmare.

So far I am thoroughly enjoying West’s post-stroke prose, and find it much more focused and readable than Ackerman’s, so perhaps I’ll be content with having heard her radio voice, which seems to absorb better, and in my Amazon shopping cart I’ll trade her book for The Shadow Factory.