The rains. They keep coming. Day after day. You’d think we lived in Seattle or England with the kind of rainfall we’ve gotten. I read somewhere that it’s rained more in the last couple of weeks than it did for all of 2012 and 2011. Friday afternoon was the first opportunity I’ve had to cut the grass in weeks. Under the dense growth the base of the grass was still moist and created sticky lumps that clogged the blade. I raised the wheels knowing I’d have to come out again sooner than later. If it stopped raining long enough for me to cut it again.
I took off work the week the rains started. Jenn was crestfallen with the overlap in the schedules mother nature and I had. Jenn’s plan to visit a local park, go to the zoo, and the botanical gardens were washed away. I didn’t mind so much. I love being at home. There’s so much to do at home and no obligation to do any of it. If I wanted to relax and read I could. And I did. I’m nearly done with “Dreaming In Chinese“, a memoir about a woman’s experience with Mandarin while living in China. I’m enjoying the tidbits of insight from a “lǎo
Don’t get me wrong, English is great. I enjoy expanding my vocabulary and the way artisans can craft sentences with the language. I wouldn’t have written several thousands words on this site if I didn’t enjoy honing my own skills. Yet it doesn’t hold the fascination Mandarin does. Mandarin is the key to another world, inside and out. As a tonal language it has a musicality. It can be sensuous like gentle waves gliding across the water or tumultuous when the falling tones crash down on the listener. There is no parallel between English and Chinese, with some exceptions. Mama is the same in pronunciation. Words borrowed from English like chocolate (qiǎokèlì) and cola (kě
Studying Mandarin has also fed into my latent obsession with collecting things. In this case, books about the language. I don’t have many but I’m always on the lookout. This weekend we went to Barnes & Noble to look at a book on making books. Not writing them, but crafting them out of odds and ends. While there I headed for the language section and grabbed two titles that looked promising. The first, Tuttle’s Chinese for Beginners covered the same ground as so many other text books. “Hello”, “How are you?”, “What time is it?”. I wondered if there was a template these authors were using. Were the reviewers on Amazon reading the same book? A five-star rating? Really? I moved on to Modern Mandarin Chinese. The structure was unlike any Chinese textbook I’d seen. It wasn’t organized by topics, but by the Chinese provinces. The first lesson was “Beijing” and introduced the word for “beer” (píjiŭ), while keeping the reader at bay until chapter four to introduce “hello” (nǐ hǎo). Culture, geography, and explanations of Hànzì, (the Chinese written system) were dense and thoroughly explained. I could have sat in the store all day with that book.