Tag Archives: language

If it’s dreich, try pot to plate

Dreich  ~ yes,  dreich, that’s the right word to describe today.  Dismal, dreary, bleak, a winter’s day at the end of May.  Outdoors, the colours are first dulled by the grey wash of sky, then smeared by the gloom of the atmosphere. Dreich, it is; maist dreich.

What’s a body to do but wrap up warmly and take a solid meal of soup, served without fuss or finery, straight from pot

Pot of barley vegetable soup

Pot of barley vegetable soup

to plate. Slop and dollop.

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

A dear friend showed me how to make this soup-stew. There isn’t a defined recipe. What goes in, aside from the barley and broth, depends on what is in the cupboard. In this case I have potato, pumpkin, two kinds of sweet potato, peas, broccoli stalks,  parsnip, carrot, onion,  celery, and bacon. The flavourings are salt, bay leaves and tarragon, and lots of black pepper.  The soup takes time to cook but time = very satisfying fodder. Even more satisfying, as an accompaniment, would have been a wee dram of that other time-dense barley concoction,  whisky.   Alas, there was none of that in the cupboard. 😉

© silkannthreades

Advertisements

Inappropriate language

Mouse ears  Myosotis  Forget-me-not to listen to our every word.

Mouse ears/ Myosotis/ Forget-me-not to listen carefully  to my every word.

I am thinking about ageing; specifically, the inappropriate language we use to describe the ageing process. We speak about decline, deterioration, dementia,  diminishment and loss of dignity. Our words depict a downward spiral, and a negation of being.   We talk of growing old, yet that is only what happens in numerical terms. In reality we grow younger. We become part of a re-creation, a transformation, of our body and mind. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really not so curious at all.  Most of us will become infant-like towards the end of our earthly life.

My mother spends most of her time in a day chair. She is bone-weary. She finds it hard to accept her ‘re-creation”. She misses her walking and reading, and a clear mind.

In a quiet moment during my recent visit, she said,” Someone said to me,  I think it was Pop, ‘Don’t get old, K….., old age is a bugger’.”  We chuckled wryly about her father-in-law’s statement. In today’s terms, he was not old when he gave his words of wisdom. However, he followed his own advice and died in his early seventies. His stubborn daughter-in-law  took no heed but, now, at 92 is beginning to understand the aches and pains and ennui  that prompted those words.

Yet, despite the undeniable physical discomfort associated with increasing years, my mother’s perspective on age and that of my grandfather are part of a culture that sees age as a disability,  an indignity, a vexation and a condition that requires separation from mainstream society in nursing homes or gated retirement complexes*.

Is it possible to change our perceptions of ageing by changing our language? As does John O’Donohue…

For Old Age

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age
Be transfigured.
……
from John O’Donohue’s ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

Without devaluing a long life and the wisdom gained, could we not accept and cherish the re-creation/ transformation we undergo as the years add up?. Can we teach ourselves to look forward to a time when we are as helpless and loved as a new-born baby?  Can we  learn to say to ourselves, ” I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” A tall order!  But not impossible.

Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Although my mother follows the Christian faith, her confidante and special companion for many years has been  the Laughing Buddha. Some years ago she gave me a Laughing Buddha, too. He sits on my table and keeps me company. The Laughing Buddha speaks a universal language. It has no age. It is timeless. Can you hear it in his laughing smile?

 

* As I have said in previous posts, some retirement communities work well for people. They provide security and good living conditions.  However, I still find it odd that we consider it acceptable to ‘corral’ the older members of  our society. We would not, perhaps, accept these types of living situations so easily for other age groups, so why do we readily allow special areas for the elderly? Is it because of the profit that can be made from their perceived need?

© silkannthreades

Haiku ~ Do you hear what I hear?

Towards the end of last month I wrote my first, ever, haiku and I posted it  here.  Lovely followers and supporters that you are, you welcomed my haiku with open hearts. A couple of  bloggers, who are themselves haiku experts,  gave me   kind encouragement and information on haiku writing and its history. One of these bloggers was   Sandra Simpson  who is an  award-winning haiku poet, living in New Zealand. Check out her latest winner here.

The other blogger to offer  words of wisdom was  AshiAkira. He brought to my attention the  impact of the sound of a haiku. AshiAkira is bilingual and he writes that, in Japanese, the 5-7-5 “rule produces a very peculiar rhythm to our ear, which we think is very beautiful.” He continues, ” For about four past years, I’ve been trying to express that haiku rhythm in English, but never succeeded. I suppose I have written well over 1,000 haiku poems in English, but none of them sounds like a haiku when it is read…….The haiku rhythm has such an effect that it would stick to your mind when you hear it and you cannot easily forget it. So a well written haiku stays in the hearts of so many people.”

With AshiAkira’s comments on my mind, I went looking for the sound, the rhythm, of haiku in Japanese. And I found this.  At 1.50 in the clip, you can hear Matsuo Basho’s haiku, in Japanese. It is exquisite; it goes straight from the ear to the center of the hEARt. Listen and hEAR.

Now, listen a moment to my second (ever) haiku. What do you hear?

Take a moment and read my words out loud, for yourself. What do you hear?

oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey for the ear

In my  world of eye to the words  on  the  computer screen, or  eye to  paper page in hand, I am so accustomed to hearing the silence of words in my head that I forget the great oral, (or is it aural 😉 ?) tradition of poetry ; I forget that the noise of poetry is as important as they way it looks, as the way it engages our minds and our feelings. I forget that poems are a multi-sensory experience.

Do you hear what I hear?

What do you hear?  What do you see?

oregano star

Oregano star

Oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey to the ear

How does that feel? Sweet?  Has my haiku found your heart?

And how would it sound in Japanese? 🙂

Postscript: This post would be incomplete without a hat tip to the wonderful  Ellen Grace Olinger , who has been a gentle guide through the art of haiku, from the day I first started to read her blog.

© silkannthreades

About Bumblebees and More

I am reading, and, thoroughly enjoying, The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi, with drawings by Gregory O’Brien, published by Random House, New Zealand.

From the blurb on the back cover;

Perry leaned into Gran and blew gently on her cheek.

‘Gran, ‘ she said. ‘Gran? Who am I?’

‘Well, ‘ said Gran, tartly, ‘if you don’t know I can’t help you.’

Who indeed is Perry? And who is Gran? Who are Doris, Beverley, Stephen, Loto, Audrey and the myriad others at Santa Lucia in the loop of the river?

There is much about all their lives that is puzzling and chaotic, but Perry has a plan. She is making an alphabet of everyone and everything at Santa Lucia. The alphabet is orderly after all, a beautiful, predictable pattern that everyone understands….Or do they?

A story that reminds us again of the enduring alliance between the young and the very old.

That’s the blurb.

For me, the book is also about the delights and vagaries of language and communication at all stages of life, interspersed with humour and bumblebees.  As a bonus, the book is beautifully made; a feast for the eyes and a pleasure to hold.

The typeset is Mrs Eaves.