Sunday, May 30, 2010

When the Bear and I got married 19 years ago, Uncle John gave us a novelty garter with a musical charm that played the wedding march. There is something about the electronic warbling of that thing that instantly irritates and/or intrigues cats. Every so often when I'm digging in my underwear drawer, I activate it and the cat goes bananas. Bear, I still miss you every single day and have only just made it to not crying every day. Pink's song "Who Knew?" makes me cry because it makes me think of his leaving me. No he didn't leave me on this plane of existence but he's just as gone and three years is rapidly approaching.

I'm reading a fascinating book, Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel Dewoskin. Aside from its witty observance of China and her fellow foreign babes, it is a startling view of a person who did something most of would never dream of doing. Admittedly Rachel came from an American family deeply involved in China from her childhood, but you or I would not just take off for Beijing on any job we could wangle just to go live there with our university level Chinese. It would be like me deciding to go to Nairobi because I speak what I know is a smattering of Swahili. To top the whole foreign immersion experience, she signs up to be an actress in a TV soap opera (whose title is the book's) to play a version of herself as seen through Chinese eyes, which is hardly flattering or even accurate. All Westerners smell of milk? I recommend this book highly as a view into China that would be hard to get otherwise. I am fascinated with modern China and Japan, especially how they are incorporating Western idioms into their culture. (My Ph.D. thesis was going to be on how modern technology had been expressed in Swahili) Culture clash is one of the things I find fascinating, even in science fiction. One of the best is the "Foreigner" series by C.J. Cherryh, latest volume just out.

Yes, I do speak a smattering of Swahili. In grad school I specialized in African linguistics and learned Swahili and Hausa, and took classes in Twi and a Bantu language. I actually taught Swahili for a year. It's a relatively simple language to learn, if you can call a language with 9 noun classes and whose verb tenses are expressed by adding a syllable in the middle of the verb. Of course, none of this gets you a job in the real world, hence I fell back on my original (i.e., from junior high) plan and became a librarian. I've been a librarian of sorts since 1976 and it's taken me many places and I've made lots of friends that have changed my life. After all I met X2 in a library, and met the Bear only because my work institution happened to have the creaky frame that was the Internet in 1990.

It is bucketing rain here and I have gotten over the novelty and am glad the reservoirs are filling up, but I'd really like to get in the garden to tidy it up. I know I'm going to have to hire a professional to do the ultimate clean up, but there are weeding and pruning I could do. I dug some potatoes to put in the pot of split pea soup I have on the stove and had to prune back a rose bush to get at them. I also retrieved another pumpkin, this time for use as veg not soup. In the supermarket yesterday I bought "buttermilk scones" hoping for American biscuits and, while the texture is about right, there's something off in the taste. Too sweet too. I was intrigued by frozen sweet potato fries until I read the label and found out they were imported from Canada! How on earth did sweet potatoes from Canada end up in my frozen food aisle? Canada is of course famous for its sweet potatoes.

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