Thursday, June 14, 2007
Pie Weights and Spring Cleaning
On June 3rd, I wrote optimistically, I cannot believe it has been almost a month since I've posted, especially since I visit my blog often to use my own links to stay up to date on what everyone else has been writing. There will be a real post here by the end of this weekend. Off to garden before the rain hits first.
Right. It is a very, very busy time at work, and truth be told, I've been paying more attention to other people's blogs than my own. I've also been trying to bring my very rusty French up to speed via everything that is available on the web. Even compared to five years ago, the increase in the number and quality of resources available on the internet is wonderful and astounding. I wonder if this has to do with the Barcelona Accords (link to be posted), since a number of the best sites are from within the EU and are aimed at getting university level students ready to function as students or perhaps even in entry level business positions in other countries within or bordering the EU. I have been listening to French audio at RFI, and taking the little quizzes on aural comprehension is humbling. I'm at about 65%, maybe 75% when I am not tired. Alas, I have never had the opportunity to live in a French speaking country, but I am getting ready to travel again, and with middle age comes boldness.The desire to communicate and comprehend simply quashes the fear of messing up and the imagined horror of one's own incomprehensibility. I'd forgotten how happy the very sounds of other languages make me (as you can tell from at least one posting, I know Latin, but that is not the same sort of thing). I had also planned to learn another language, just for fun, something for me. For a long time, I thought maybe Irish Gaelic, since we have family on the west coast of Ireland and when I was very young, my cousins used to speak to me in Gaelic. Perhaps on that note, it is not new enough, or exotic enough, but it will have to wait. I actually window shopped for languages the new-fangled way: I went to sites on the internet such as omniglot, and listened to samples of languages I thought I'd like to know. I hit up Rosetta Stone's site, as that is actually a very good method for learning a language (they're not kidding in all of those ads). For a long time, I have been interested in northern Europe, and so I listened very carefully to Swedish (also a maybe), Danish (didn't like it as much as I thought I would). I did more than this, of course, but perhaps this aspect is the most interesting part, that one can sample grammars and lessons on line, one can see if there is a real aural appeal. Naturally, there are many reasons people learn a language. In my profession (sorry, yes, the vagueness will have to stay), the Northern countries also would offer some practical opportunities. Finnish. Yes, it has fifteen cases and vowel harmony, but I've encountered cases and spelling shifts in other languages. I have found an excellent course, Finnish for Foreigners online, and have been working through it at a leisurely pace. There, all in one breath, is what I have been up to in my spare time. yes, of course I plan to go to Finland...
Maybe there is a connection here to the picture I posted. In late May/ early June, I spent some time getting my apartment in better shape. Even after a few years, I find that a number of things are parked exactly where I (mis)placed them "temporarily" immediately after I moved in. So it was a surprise, and a pleasant one, when in the middle of making a pastry crust for a peach tart, I thought, "oh, I wish I had those beans I used to use for pie weights [to keep the dough from rising up when the crust cooks]," and I reached down to where I would have kept the can in the old place and put my hand directly on the right thing, which had been sitting there waiting for me all that time. So I had all of these thoughts about how spring cleaning, or even hunting about in a cabinet for a specific thing, can suddenly raise or lift a weight from the past. No puns on pies or gaining weight, which, uh, I don't really do.
So there it was, my old Illy Cafe can, marked so that I didn't try to cook the beans, sitting on the counter next to the latest Starbucks bag, espresso the constant, a small bit of my past self refound as it should be. It all worked literally and metaphorically (it had been years since I made the peach tart). My reconnection with modern languages feels the same: I used to do this , I think, quite surprised, that I was understanding as much French as I did, that is is all still in there, somehow, and the sheer pleasure of that has taken the edge off not a few of my days.
I've added some links on the sidebar: a great and current blog by a meteorological scientist working in Finland Dave In Suomi, and that of a Finnish journalist and geneologist there who writes of her life and work, Daydreaming in Helsinki.
Thanks to Willoboe, whose blog brought Dave's to my attention. And now, I really do have to get my constantly sleep-deprived self back to some real work !