Tag Archives: stories

English Daisy

English Daisy 1

Haiku 76

Delicate pink bloom

Cheeks of strawberries and cream

My English Daisy

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English Daisy 2

post script: This is another plant I’ve grown from seeds that were free from my supermarket. (See Gone to seed). It’s taken five months to bloom.

 

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Languages – Duolingo 500

Duolingo 500 Days

I have just completed 500 straight days of learning languages online with Duolingo. Hooray!

I’ve been learning several languages for a few years now.

Duolingo Italian

I have completed the Italian and the French trees, but still pop by there most days to practice. I’m also learning German and have just started Spanish.

When you complete all the exercises at level one or with one crown then the little Duolingo Owl appears, draped in a cape of the country’s flag.

Duolingo French

Duolingo: Where you can learn such useful phrases as –

Italian: Non vedo il tuo dentrificio. I do not see your toothpaste.

I’m sure this must come up several times a day in normal conversation!

Of course, exercises get a lot harder as you progress and some things you just have to learn.

C’è qualcosa che non avrebbe voluto fare? Is there something that he would not have wanted to do?

I nipoti non le mancano. She does not miss her grandchildren. 

The second one is tricky because it kind of translates to ‘The grandchildren are not missed by her’, which is how I remember the sentence structure.

There are many other little quirks that are second nature to a native speaker, but difficult for a learner.

For fun I am also working through the reverse language tree for Italian and French. ie I am learning English as if I were a native Italian or French speaker. This gives me more of an insight into the actual learning process.

For example, assuming I am Italian, the text was:

Quanto è?

The three answer choices given were:

1. How much is it?
2. How almost does that cost?
3. How enough is that?

It is blatantly obvious to a native English speaker that the correct answer is 1, but it makes me realise how laughable the choices may be that I am struggling over, when learning Italian from English.

I’m not good at languages; French was my worst subject at school.  (Surprisingly, I was good at Latin, but since we did not have to speak it, I don’t think it counts!) 

It is best to practice something every day, even if only for a short time, rather than spending an hour once a week. You’d think I’d be fluent by now, but you’d think wrong! Still, I understand quite a bit, even if I cannot speak the language very well.

To practice something that you are not good at makes your brain work harder. It keeps the little grey cells going.

Use it or lose it!

 

Natural Selection

Baby Geese

Natural Selection

Tiny Guinea Fowl chick abandoned by your flock

Scratching in the dirt as you’ve seen your parents do

But without their guidance and protection

And only a few inches tall

You will not survive alone

Breakfast for the Magpie chicks?

Sadness

Heart-rending peeps follow me down the path

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Egyptian goose with the badly broken leg

Each halting step agonisingly painful

Yet still you hobble near your chicks

Protecting them alongside your partner

Your commitment ensuring

The survival of your genes

Endurance

Raucous screeches follow me down the street

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On our walks around the neighbourhood Little Monkey and I have come across many new-born chicks: Guinea Fowl and Egyptian Geese.

When I see an injured or abandoned bird it is hard not to interfere, but there is nothing to be done. The injured bird is still protecting its chicks and the abandoned chick will either survive on its own, or not. It had a near miss when LM spotted it before me!

I did search for the parent Guinea Fowl, with the intention of guiding the baby chick back to their safety, but they were nowhere to be seen. Guinea Fowl are notoriously bad parents.

It reminds me that life out there in the ‘wild’ is tough.

It really is the survival of the fittest.

 

Sunday Musings #150

87% of young people have back pain. The other 13% don’t have a computer.

– Unknown

I played outside a lot as a kid; climbed trees; rode a bike; played tennis, cricket and football with my brothers; walked in the woods. Inside I read a lot of books; knitted; sewed; baked; played cards and board games. And so did my kids.

I have to wonder what today’s generation of kids will be like when they grow up?

 

In Isolation

Little Monkey 1

Haiku 73

In isolation

An inconvenient truth

Of First World problems

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As you can see from the super relaxed position, Little Monkey is supremely unaffected by two days without internet and a twelve hour power cut.

Little Monkey 2

After all, she doesn’t chat online or drink coffee!

 

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind

Little Monkey

I have written a few posts about encounters with difficult dogs that Little Monkey and I have met on our walks around the neighbourhood. This is a different sort of encounter that happened recently:

A Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind!*

Little Monkey and I had been walking for a while and were heading back home. We needed to cross a road, on the other side of which live the YLD’s. These are Yappy Little Dogs; three brown Dachshunds that never fail to charge to their gate, yapping like mad, when anything passes by. One got out once and attacked LM, which must have been funny to witness; me batting away the tiny thing with my cap, while keeping LM, ten times its size, behind me. Eventually the owner came out, apologised and picked up the terror.

I’m just telling you this to explain why I was crossing the road to one side to avoid them. This particular day I could see the kids getting their bikes ready behind the gate, so I knew it would soon open and the whole lot would pile out, yapping like mad. (Though I don’t think the kids were yapping!)

LM and I successfully crossed the road and I was congratulating myself on getting away before the gate opened, when BBD suddenly appeared walking at a smart pace round the corner. BBD is Big Black Dog.

This is a rescue dog that the owner has worked well with. BBD is a lot bigger than LM and always barks when we pass his property.

I needed space!

Little Monkey freaks out at sudden confrontations, but I managed to grab her mid-air as she leapt upwards, and turned her around. There was nowhere for us to go, as we were stuck between the BBD, the YLDs and the road. I quickly got to the very edge of the road and sat LM down with her back to BBD and YLDs, and held on to LM’s ear.

BBD marched briskly by behind us and didn’t give LM a second glance. This was great and LM remained seated by my side. As BBD reached the YLDs the noise escalated to ear-splitting levels!

Phew I thought. We did it.

We had no sooner turned round to resume our walk towards the corner when MBD suddenly appeared. Medium Black Dog was bigger than LM and rather like a poodle, but without the funny haircut!  This dog and owner I had not seen before.

LM did her leap in the air again and MBD also did a bit of a surprised ‘double take’. As I backed away I now had to find space between MBD, BBD, YLDs and the road!

As BBD strode on past YLDs gate I could back up that way a bit. As I did so I chatted to MBD’s owner, which always helps calm everything down. I ran off my spiel; “Sorry my dog’s a rescue dog and she’s just scared. She’s not aggressive at all. The little yappy dogs are actually more of a problem.” etc

And she totally agreed, saying she didn’t trust the YLDs as they charged at you and bit your ankles! So we chatted a little, and MBD and LM were cool.

Finally LM and I continued on our walk and actually made it round the corner without meeting any more dogs.

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This has taken a while to write, but the whole incident took place in seconds. The dogs performed a kind of do-si-do dance on the little triangle of grass verge, mostly with LM and I dodging close proximities!

But here’s the great thing: that was an encounter with four different dogs (I count the three tiny Dachshunds as one dog!) and there was no growling or biting. That is a good day.

The worst behaved dogs were the YLDs. Next was LM and her anxiety. MBD was OK and BBD just walked through the whole thing ignoring us.

So you can have unexpected encounters with strange dogs all thrown together and not have any aggression.

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind!*

 

* Not to be confused with the 1977 movie: Close Encounters of the Third Kind!