Sunday, December 25, 2022

Tuesday, October 04, 2022


 I started on a linguistic journey this year in January, it's October and I've made a lot of progress.  I started out with only about four or five of these languages - and then added them in twos and threes until well, here I am with about twenty.  I read the story about Vaughn Smith in the Washington Post earlier this year (about April, when I added Czech to my list) and was very inspired.  Also, I think, since quitting retail a few years ago my brain has opened up thousands of slots that I used to keep all the product in at work.. I've added five postal routes to my brain since then but it's not quite the same as keeping thousands of plumbing parts and many more thousands of other items in the store in your brainspaces, as well as catalog items and websites to order from.  I described it to someone a week or so ago as 'getting the keys back to my brain'.  I'm also auditing a free college course in comparative linguistics.

Anyway, long story short... here is the chart I made tonight of the progress.

expressed in DuoLingo crowns

French is my L2, from my grandmother and I could probably hold a good beginner's conversation in it and/or Welsh with someone.  I like to listen to French music on RadioGarden, and try reading books and news articles in French.  For many years I've had French 'going through my brain' as an undercurrent, not always understandable except in bits and pieces.  I've tested out to A1 in French, but that is because I'm not actively studying it as grammar and tests like to be so specific.

started learning German in high school but I'm not that fond of it

started learning Welsh in 2017 with SSIW and DuoLingo, really like it, it pulls on the French structure already in my brain, I'd like to do the Mynediad, I have watched TV, cartoons and listened to radio and podcasts in Welsh and really enjoy it.  I belong to a Welsh group online that always has something to read every day and little conversations

studied Japanese a little here and there in the past for anime, but did not study hard - but it's something I could pick up better if I focused.  The hiragana characters were easy but of course kanji is harder if you don't do it enough to retain.

don't like Spanish, but it's getting better.  It's much harder for me than it should be.  It's like someone is wiring around the backside of my circuit board to make Spanish work at all ... but it got better when I mixed it with French, then Portuguese.  Now, learning Catalan 'through' Spanish I'm cementing the Spanish a bit more, too.

found affinity with Romanian, also speaks back to the French bit in my brain, this is a hard one to pick up and put down, though.  When I started trying Greek I found a crosswise reference in my brain to the Romanian - so studying them together might help

Czech seemed to occupy a space between the Romanian the French and the German, I've started reading some in Czech, paper book and websites

Someone suggested I try Swedish, then Norwegian - both are okay, but not prime interests

learned some Portuguese to try to get the Spanish to set straight, and to prepare for Italian

tried Turkish because it was on the other side of the 'linguistic map', liked it

someone showed me a news article in Catalan and I saw it was available only through the Spanish learner site on DuoLingo, tried it anyway, it is between French and Portuguese and Spanish, very interesting, will continue

picked up some Polish because it was similar to Czech

Zulu because it as new, Korean to take a look at the script for something

tried Irish and Finnish to compare Celtic to Uralic language groups

picked up Greek recently to try to understand the Greek-Sanskrit-English comparisons that were being made in my course, the Greek alphabet wasn't too hard to learn again as my daughter tried Greek in homeschool and we learned it then - soundwise, it sounds like Romanian mixed with some Spanish and/or Portuguese

summary - My goal at being a polyglot may be coming true, I am retaining most of what I learn and by switching off and on between the languages in 'rounds' and 'spirals' I find what I'm needing reinforcing on and love feeling that 'switch gears' feeling between one langauge and another.  I will study four or five languages a day, sometimes - but stick largely to three or four intensive choices for the week that I want to make progress in

January 14th will be one year - will see where I am then!

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

mroe bits

 The garden is starting to produce a bit here and there...

progress in 11 languages

Welsh, French, Spanish, Romanian, Czech, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, Italian and Turkish - all on Duolingo.  I am trying a few others elsewhere - Bulgarian, Albanian and Croatian.

I'm doing a lot of Czech lately, it is very much like the letters I tried to help a friend translate back in 1998 that were in Serbo-Croatian.  I think that is the reason I am getting lots of 'deja vu' and able to spell it easier than I should from what I'm hearing.


random sketchbook stuff in the new little book that I bought

I deliver the mail on rural routes still, and did the above image about how packages from the six different sections of every route can be organized to make it easy to keep track of without needing all the flags and lists others seem to use.  I just have it 'all in my head' and organized by section, and dump the 'section' into my working memory as needed - no need to keep it ALL there every minute of the route etc.

casting nets for fish from a ship - From Shore to Shore

this red house drawing was left handed - I don't give it enough practice

This was drawn after listening to a Spanish podcast about bicyclists

Thursday, June 09, 2022

June bits



I haven't  updated in a while, just trying to get from point A to point B.  And now look, it's June.  I've been working in the post office for two and a half years, and Esme is a teenager, growing up and studying Forestry, Wildlife and next year, she wants to learn Construction techniques in high school.  High school!  Mark and her built a wall in the house yesterday, and are working on more things for our chicken yard.  We raised nearly twenty more birds this year, for egg production down the road.

I have taken to learning my languages 'en force' - Welsh and French are at the higher levels, and I have been grinding my brain against Spanish for the sake that Esme will learn that in high school, but not for a year or more.  Spanish is seriously hard for me.  Consider this, I've picked up Romanian, Czech, Portuguese  and Turkish on Duolingo at twice the rate or more of the Spanish I'm grinding my head on.  They all seem to 'slide in beside' the French, but Spanish is 'on the other side of my brain' only translating through the French like some sort of bad prism.  That is how it feels.  I know most people think Spanish is the easiest, but for me, it has never been.  Italian is a 'out there' goal, but it is also in the category of Spanish.  I've done a little more German (my high school language, but I'm not fond of it like the French cognates, my grandmother spoke some French so that is wired into me), and Norwegian Bokmal and Swedish, and stabbed at Japanese a few more times.  Do I have goals as a polyglot?  I don't know - but my brain is happy learning languages, except the Spanish.  It is learning that, though, I'm picking up meaning in songs and movies in Spanish that I did not before, so it is there.

I planted more in the garden for food this year, greens, potatoes, some tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers.  It is going to have a terrible drought next week- temperatures over a hundred.. I hope the garden survives.  

I am doing a little more weaving, and always something is on the knitting needles, whether it is a washcloth or a scarf or blanket thing, there is something. 


weaving on a frame, another upholstery type fabric, although it might be a library bag or new purse.  I am just following 'the next word' mathematically in the colors and going half-random when I get a few minutes.  The one bad thing it is on my painting easel, so I am not really painting when I am weaving.



Some of my recent 'throw it on the canvas' paintings - The Bird in the Lemon Tree, above, 16x20 and 'The Etruscan Lion' 24x36, both acrylic.  I was happy to have the lion accepted into the Artist Showcase at the W.G.Rhea Library in April.  It did not sell, but at least people got to see him.  I think he is so happy and bright.  The bird painting is 'when I really should be completing something else' (The Eu Siempre Separe) painting that is also 36x24.. but I was happy with the way the colors came together, if not for the actual subject.  



Hosta plants starting to bloom - I like to capture the botanical structures of things, I find that as interesting (more so sometimes) than the bloom.  I love to watch things unfold.


black hollyhocks in the garden 

still quite proud of these, too - because they were so hard to get started and now come up as perennials every year


I'm working at cooking to fit the special needs of my Ehlers-Danlos-Syndrome (collagen disorder), anti-inflammatory, higher proteins, lysines.  This meal was one of the first times I've cooked eggplant properly.  However, usually I just take everything out of our garden, eggs from our chickens, grains and spices from my cupboard and make what my nose leads me to, and it is usually just right.


Our Charlotte, on the road to the mailbox


'Between the Past and the Future we Remember Numerous Stars' - this was the very last of my blue ink from the pack of pens I bought what.. eight years ago now?  This is the 'listening' style - where I draw lines across the paper in pencil or sometimes (like below) in the actual pen, and then slowly fill it in from one side of the paper to the other with the figures and symbols I see - telling a story and receiving some sort of philosophical message.


I still have my artwork up at the DayLight gallery, in Camden, TN on the city square.  And some of it has sold there.  I received some beautiful messages from people about what the art has meant to them and why it spoke to them.  I just got a new pack of pens in the mail and did this drawing above 'Come Sing the Universal Song With Me' last night.


Before the short haircut this summer.  These two are my loves and so sweet, listening to them do construction work together and even though she may look like me you can hear how alike they are!


me as a mailman, for when I'm ninety and all broken-down and can't believe I actually did this once.  Delivering the mail, whether on walking route or driving rural route is hard on the body - long hours, sunburn, hydration issues, lifting stuff sometimes we shouldn't etc.. but we get the mail out there and get it done and go home.  I do appreciate not having to work until 10 pm and be back at 6 the next morning, then work till 3 and be back at 2 till 10 the next day and back over again.  That was what the Lowe's store did to me and it was seriously harder to keep shoveling my schedule the other direction than it is to just have a hard day's work and crash when I get home knowing if I'm on the next day, it will be at the same time as the day before.


I am so proud of her, she is becoming her own person and trying to go after goals even after all of this pandemic.  She does say that she feels a lot of her generation has been 'robbed' of their goals and their opportunities the past few years, and that she is not sure if the social opportunities of her generation will ever straighten out after they have been quarantined, separated and put online and told to keep away from each other for years.  She says nobody her age really has friends anymore, in real life, that is...   Next week, though, she goes to a University campus for a Forestry college course 'camp-away' and we are excitedly getting her ready for that adventure.  I hope she has a great time there and comes back with good memories.  I did similar things with FFA and Academic Decathlon when I was her age, and they are still very good memories mostly, and a lot of 'stretch' for my social skills and worldview at the time.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Saying goodbye to Nova


She was twelve or thirteen years old, a good big sweet Bluetick coonhound, stubborn, too.  A good mama, and a good companion to Esme as well through most of her life.  You can see above the day they first met.. Esme wasn't very big at all.  She passed of natural causes, on the first really warm day of Spring, 78 degrees.. curled up in leaves after a long hard cold winter.  Five years ago we were afraid we would lose her, when a neighbor ran her over with their car, breaking a leg, damaging one of her eyes and making her lose so much blood.  But, she pulled through.  

These past few winters I had tried to feed her up whenever she would get thin - that seemed to go in cycles, she'd be good and then she'd have a few bad weeks.  She just wasn't digesting her food as well anymore because she was old - but putting some milk or gravy on it helped a lot and she even came to expect that before bed at night.  This morning Mark said she went out with all the rest in the morning.  I went to town for a bit.. and while we were beginning to make supper her daughter Sweetie made a motion to Mark when he went out in the yard that something was wrong - and he found her.  Esme was sad and didn't want to believe it.  

She was the mother of Sweetie, Daphne, Spud and Minerva.. grandmother of Lucy and Freckles.  Mark says she had sort of been a mother to Melody, the blind goat, as well - and that she also knows something is wrong today.  Both of the little Manx kittens, Loki and Lyffan went to see her when we found her.. and Minion cat came and got in my lap at my computer desk after we came back in from outside.  

Sunday, February 13, 2022

more lentil soup and a digging fork


I look very tired - well, I have been lately.  But I power through it, usually.
Mark found this in the garage and I want to try it in the garden.  I was really glad we had one and he knew where it was!  I had half a memory that we had one - somewhere - when I read a blog about using one this week.

Made another lentil soup today based on what a Hungarian friend sent me for a recipe.  She linked to this recipe : "Hungarian Lentil Soup - Lencse Leves"
I had some fresh carrots to use, and frozen bok choy stems instead of celery - so I made a version like that.  I also added a few pieces of bacon from the fridge.  It was really good served alongside another experimental flatbread with five-spice seasoning and himalayan pink sea salt in it.  

I need to go through my seeds - I always feel a mixture of excitement and pre-disappointment with those.  But I'm starting to learn better ways to grow in our soil that produces results without constant vigilance... needed that years ago and didn't get it, so I would work really hard for a while, and then give up at a certain point and hope I had 'gotten enough return'.

I am also taking another go at Spanish, because our daughter will be offered that at high school next year.  Our daughter is going to high school - time really flies!  I've never done very well with Spanish - although I study Welsh, French, Japanese and now Romanian and Swedish without half the 'pound my head with a hammer' that I've had these last three days with Spanish.  Again.  Which is why I didn't learn it well the last time I tried, or the time before that.  I'm not saying anything bad about the language, just that I know there is some sort of brain-obstacle there that is hard for me specifically to overcome.  However, this time around, I'm coming at it through the dual channels of Romanian and French - which together seem to be doing more for me than before.

Friday, February 11, 2022

cooking lentils


Trick to lentils is to wash and drain them first which removes a lot of extra skins and such, then add to at least four times the amount of water, bring to a boil, add salt and spices and a bouillon cube if you want to. Lentils are like potatoes in that they like salt and it makes a huge difference.
Simmer with a lid tilted until the water is mostly absorbed, add cabbage, onions, carrots and red pepper if you wish. It may take up to forty minutes on low heat to really cook them soft - even though the bag will tell you 15-20 minutes. If your carrots are fresh and not canned that extra time will soften them as well. If you want to run it all through a blender and make it true soup it's good.
Point : Rice has a 1 : 2 ratio with water.  Lentils have a 1 : 4 ratio (some say 3)
rule of 1 : 4 - one cup lentils to 4 cups water

wash it like rice, rinse several times
no need to soak though

 If you are adding other vegetables, add a bit more water so it all has a good chance to merge flavors.  And don't forget the salt and/or bouillon cube, it really makes a difference.  I didn't have beef bouillon so I used salt and a little butter, pepper, celery salt and then added frozen cabbage, fresh chopped carrot and a few strips of red pepper.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

baked apple (or pear)




simplest thing ever

pan is about 5x7 or so

slice up one apple or pear, not too thick

cut up a tablespoon or two of butter into small bits and place it on top 

sprinkle brown sugar in between all the slices on top

sprinkle a handful of quick oats over the top

sprinkle cinnamon on top

place foil loosely on top

bake at 350 degrees for a little over an hour


I like knowing what ingredients are in things

it's cheaper often to cook from the ingredients instead of buy a brand thing

I eat what I cook

I love when I can 'freehand' something and not need a recipe, means I can 'whip it out' at any time I have the ingredients and not have to go track anything down.


I eat what I cook

or the dogs help

'Morning Company'

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

swath of bits


simplicity cotton yarn in a 2 x 2 basketweave (almost) with garter stitch edging

our chickens eggs on the cloth I knit - like scrambled eggs

radishes and weeds

reworking my pseudocode pattern to make myself a new pair of gloves
this needs 6 needles to finish each glove

it starts 18-18-27 on three needles
reduces to 33 inches (over 5 rows) after the 1x1 rib cuff
then continues up to the base of the thumb
pull off 5 stitches from one needle and 5 from another where they cross 
pull these stitches off onto two extra needles
cast on 8 extra stitches on the end of the working needle
join thumb as separate piece
place stitches evenly on two needles
work until long enough, then reduce and bind off with kitchener when it is 3/3 on the two working needles
join new yarn to entire hand piece, picking up stitches at base of thumb
should have 33-36 stitches (34 on these)
knit around - up to base of index finger
repeat the same type of thing across from index to pinky finger working one finger at a time - remove 5, 5, 4 and 3 stitches at a time to make each finger and add stitches in between the fingers to make enough to go all the way around 

repeat opposite to make glove for opposite hand


tried this recipe today:

Crude dumplings and vegetables in sauce

bulgur wheat and a small handful of green split peas <-- put through grinder until makes flour about 1/2 cup, add salt, tiny bit of baking powder, olive oil, water and a small handful of regular white flour to make a dough like yesterday's flatbread - except grainier...

let rest for 10 minutes, roll flat on board with a glass jar side

Then I looked at what kind of dough it had made and realized it was not going to cook well the way the flatbread did, it needed a steaming effect.  Since I already had something in the oven I decided to make a sauce on the stovetop this time and let it steam in the sauce.   Maybe try a 'steamed tortilla' of it another day.

break flattened dough into pieces

boil about a 1/2 of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil and five spice powder

place the dumpling bits in the sauce mixture and cook on medium-high adding some more water if it gets dry, add vegetables and serve with a cooked egg on the side



We also baked cookies today - been working up to it for a few days.  White chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the bag.