Who does it better?
Dennis, the cat from next door:
Or my own Taffy?
In other cat news, Candy is feeling like her old self. Top Cat and I are convinced that she has forgiven us for hauling her to the vet, and is so happy that her paw doesn’t hurt anymore that she and she’s even being nice to us.
In Vivian news, I’m starting my third series heading up the writer’s workshops at the Willam Cullen Bryant Library next week, which is where the creme de la creme of the North Shore of Long Island hang out every other Thursday evening. I have to tell you about a very surprising thing I learned from a tri-lingual workshop member, about my second book, Le Road Trip, originally published in English:
One of the workshop participants reads and speaks both Taiwan Chinese. . .
. . . and mainland Chinese. . .
. . . this dear person was reading my book in all three versions, side by side, as a way to check her own mastery of the three languages. Turns out that she spotted a discrepancy between my original text and the mainland Chinese edition.
On the first page of Le Road Trip, my way of saying Hello to the reader and offering my bone fides as a tour guide through Paris and wine country in France for the next 200 pages, I wrote:
I wouldn’t call myself a travel expert, but that’s just me being modest. OF COURSE I’m a travel expert. I’ve been traveling for 30 years without ONCE going on a cruise. Yes, I’m bragging. I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on. I’ve eaten local delicacies, from brains to fried grasshoppers to goat (with my bare hands) to Amazonian BBQ (God knows what was on that grill. “Is that an ear?” I asked the cook. “Yeah, sure,” he said, so shiftily that I began to worry that ear could be a euphemism for something even more unthinkable. That’s when I learned that there can never be a good answer to the question, Is that an ear?). I’ve been bitten by malarial mosquitos, threatened by wild baboons, stalked by loose moose, and proposed to by a drunken African soldier who broke into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I’ve traipsed in elephant dung and human turds and squished myself in rattle-trap taxis-brousses with snotty babies and leprous beggars. I’ve dodged the leering bachelors of Rome, side-stepped camel spit in Ouagadougou, and stared down the judgmental gaze of Parisians. And through it all I’ve never been hospitalized, jailed, stranded, pierced, tattooed, or ransomed. That’s how good I am.
You know what they say about humor being very hard to translate?
By my count, my third “joke” was mis-interpreted.
Where I wrote I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on, the mainland Chinese translator put: I’ve been thrown out of over 50 youth hostels.
So there you go. My reputation as a hell-raiser is secure in Beijing.
I am typing this just hours after the 116th Congress was sworn in and I feel better already. Much, much, much better about life in this der Drumpf shit storm. Dear Readers, the outlook has just gotten a whole lot sweeter for freedom-loving Americans, like you and me, of above-average intelligence and good looks.
Until the indictments start flying, let’s do some gardening!
My inspiration this week was Farmer MacGregor’s garden:
This, of course, is from Beatrix Potter’s wonderful tale about Peter Rabbit and his love of Farmer MacGregor’s lettuce:
Right. We need to make a vegetable garden with a gate, surrounded by a hedge, and we need to build it in this open book next to the Pooh Bear tree:
So I built a raised platform, as you can see, so that the rows of vegetables can be visible:
I re-inforced the raised platform with heavy stock paper, so I could cut small slits into it to insert little colored bits that represent cabbages and lettuces:
Like magic, the bits stand up by themselves, although I put a dollop of glue behind each bit to hold it in place forever:
And this is the complete garden:
If you remember your Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit loses his little blue jacket and his tiny little shoes in Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden and Farmer MacG, being a thrifty Scot, uses the jacket and shoes to make a positively frightful scarecrow:
You bet that I made a little blue jacket and some tiny shoes!
So here you are at eye-level (below), and now an you see the benefit of having a raised platform for the vegetable garden?
We now turn our attention to The Wind in the Willows. Since 1962, when yours truly was but a snot-nosed second grader, I have owned a large format picture book that include the first chapter of the beloved children’s classic, which I have never read:
So I had a very good reference of the brilliant E. Shepherd illustration for this beloved children’s classic:
I cut short lengths of heavy French embroidery floss, which I then coated with Elmer’s glue and touched to small leaves that I cut out of another book, not the beloved children’s classic because I DO NOT want to cut up my 56-year old book, which was a Christmas present from my mother:
So I made a willow tree, and if I do say so myself, it’s not bad:
And then, for the first time in my life, I sat down ad read the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows. It’s called The River Bank. And I made a horrifying discovery:
I learned that, in the book, the wind does not waft through the branches of a riverside willow tree. Nope.
The wind rustles through the tall stands of riparian vegetation that grace the English countryside. That is, reeds. Mostly likely, the Norfolk reed.
And, is you re-examine the E. Shepherd illustration, the tree is not a willow. It’s some kind of pollarded shade tree. Most likely an oak, ash, or lime.
And, I hate to say, willow. I just found out that you can pollard a willow. Because I cut off the willow fronds and made it into an oak:
And I put in some Norfolk reeds, through which the wind can waft:
And this is where I am as of Thursday, Jan. 3. I have to source Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny; and Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad. And they have to be in poses that are conducive to a 7-iron. And they have to be in books that I don’t mind cutting up. And they have to be in compatible band-width. [Size.]
As our favorite bear would say,
Have a great weekend, my Wonder Ones. We are living in Happy Times, in the shadow of the 116th Congress.
It’s about time.